Loose Lips Daily: Adrian Fenty’s Mystifying Stubbornness
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Former Baltimore Mayor Will Mediate Teachers Contract Dispute"; "The Washington Post Is Protecting Adrian Fenty"; "Ethics Office to Investigate Local Democrats"; "Fenty: Few Answers on Nats Tickets"
Morning all. Blogger Washington Kaleidoscope and a Prince of Petworth reader both wonder: Isn't there something else that city politicos should be concerned about besides baseball tickets? A fair question. What LL can say is that if Mayor Adrian M. Fenty had just kept last season's arrangement in place, we wouldn't be talking about the issue right now (raising the question: Is this all a big distraction? From fire trucks maybe?). Yesterday morning, as LL reported, Fenty refused to answer questions about the issue, spouting his usual evasions about how he "didn't have the details" and about how he'd "get back to us." Later in the day, WTTG-TV called him on the BS, and caught him coming out of the John A. Wilson Building's back door (and Vincent Gray running past). Still no answers. At WUSA-TV, Bruce Johnson has this: "Chairman Vincent Gray told 9NEWS NOW there will be a permanent solution to the stalemate."
Kurt Schmoke, former Baltimore mayor and current Howard law dean, will mediate the contract dispute between DCPS and teachers unions. LL was first to get the press release up and add a few thoughts, but Bill Turque rounds out the news in his WaPo piece this morning: "His selection ends weeks of wrangling between Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and the WTU over the choice of a third party to help untangle the negotiations, which are stalemated over salary and job security issues. Union leaders agreed to Rhee's suggestion of Schmoke, who was mayor when she worked as a Baltimore elementary school teacher in the early 1990s....[Schmoke] had his own clashes with the local teachers union over an experimental privatization of nine public schools. One of them was Harlem Park Elementary, where Rhee taught second and third grades from 1992 to 1995....Schmoke also generated controversy by giving up his direct authority over the city school board in exchange for $254 million in state aid. In a 1999 interview, he expressed regrets about his attempts at education reform."
WAPO ED BOARD REACTS—"Mr. Schmoke is to be admired for his willingness to help. His experience in Baltimore gives him valuable insight into the failures of urban schools. But it will be a daunting task to reconcile Ms. Rhee's ideas for reform with institutional union interests. Her ideas are mostly common sense, but they pass for revolutionary in this arena....It's frustrating that the public has only gotten glimpses of the two proposals. No doubt there are dangers to bargaining in public, but more is at stake here than teacher salaries, Ms. Rhee's reputation or [AFT prez Randi Weingarten]'s ego." Oof.
Harry Jaffe puts things into perspective nicely: "The bad news is the Washington Nationals organization still has no clue how to handle a full stadium of 40,000 fans. Traffic was snarled, lines were long, parking was scarce. The good news is the Nationals will not have to worry about crowds; the team is so dreadful the franchise can expect 20,000 fans a game — on a good day, facing a hot team....My advice: Wait until the weather turns a bit warmer, use the Metro, get the cheap seats upstairs, lower your expectations for crackerjack baseball."
Least-surprising road rage ever: "A man who grabbed a Dallas Cowboys flag from a car in downtown Washington was punched in the face yesterday, startling passersby in an area that is home to lawyers, lobbyists and expensive shops and restaurants," Martin Weil reports in WaPo. "It might have been motivated by team loyalty, he said. Or the motorist might have been particular about who touched his car." It happened around 6 p.m. on the 1700 block of L Street NW.
Good news for urbanists: Study shows fewer cars on District streets. Writes Kytja Weir in Examiner, "Vehicle registrations dropped 5.8 percent in the District between 2005 and 2008, from 258,100 vehicles to 243,200, according to the report slated to be presented Wednesday to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. That drop occurred even as the D.C. population increased 1.7 percent during that time, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures." The reasons thus far are unclear.
PLAY THE D.C. BUDGET GAME—WaPo put together a...well, I guess you can call it a game. "Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) recently proposed a budget of $5.4 billion that combines spending reductions with increases of some taxes and fees to close the city's $777 million revenue gap. So how would you handle the budget? Set your revenue and spending priorities below — balancing the budget to within $50 million — then save it and compare it with other readers' decisions."
STILL NO POWERBALL WINNER—So D.C. Lottery sponsors a guessing game, Petula Dvorak reports in WaPo: "'Guess the Winner' is an online contest on the D.C. Lottery Web site that asks players whether they think the winner is a seasoned D.C. lottery player, an occasional player or a newbie, among other things....The grand prize for this little game isn't a cut of the winnings. Or cash. The winner or winners get to attend the announcement party once the Powerball winner comes forward. And they get a gift basket with D.C. Lottery T-shirts, mugs, bags and, of course, more lottery tickets."
Biz Journal: Five Logan Circle apartment buildings renting affordable apartments reopen today after publicly financed renovations. ALSO—"Festival Park" near ballpark (aka It's-Not-a-Beer-Garden-We-Swear) gets ANC's OK.
"Tea Parties" today: WaPo's Michael Ruane previews protests skedded for Lafayette Park, treasury department. "Protesters plan to place the tea bags on tarps and clean up afterward, an organizer said. The tea, which will be delivered by truck, has been purchased online by people upset over recent government policy, said John Gauger, a spokesman for the grass-roots conservative group Reagan.org....[T]he Lafayette Square rally will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will serve as a forum for citizens to voice their grievances. The Treasury protest will provide a national stage for speeches by such figures as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform; former presidential candidate Alan Keyes; and Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. That rally will run from noon to 2 p.m." More from Examiner, WTOP.
Michael Neibauer in Examiner tees up Marion Barry's federal court hearing tomorrow on his tax case. "Prosecutors will ask U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson to jail Barry, the Ward 8 councilman. In its most recent court submission, the U.S. attorney’s office said Barry 'has proven his unworthiness to reap the benefits of probation.'"
Examiner also lists D.C.'s top tax scofflaws: "D.C.’s top delinquent is William M. Sloane, of Northwest, who owes $1.17 million. D.C. has a lien against Sloane’s property, Terry said. Number two on the list is Hyattsville-based trash hauler Septentrion Services Inc., which owes $601,323. Neither Sloane nor Septentrion Services could be reached for comment....D.C. has revised its delinquent list to reflect the write-off of about $24 million in taxes it could not collect from hundreds of taxpayers. Groups such as Jac Thom Enterprises Inc., aka Sarge’s Liquor Post, owed $4.2 million for many years before the District ran out of time to collect — there is a 10-year statute of limitations."
READ UP, MARION—For tax day, WaPo's Del Quentin Wilber recounts the case of former homicide detective Michael C. Irving, who didn't pay District or federal taxes on some $450K on income over three years. "Known as tax defiers, deniers or protesters, they cite myriad reasons for their stance that income tax is illegal. Some argue that the 16th Amendment, which allowed Congress to collect income taxes, was never ratified. Others believe paying taxes should be voluntary. A few argue that only D.C. residents or federal employees are subject to the tax laws....Irving, the D.C. police detective, testified that he learned about the 'program' from a friend and fellow detective, Eugene Lonon, who later died in a car crash....In early 2003, he told the IRS that he did not earn '"wages" or "gross income" as such terms are defined in the United States tax laws" and was seeking the return of $32,000 in tax withholdings from the previous year. Irving did not file federal or D.C. tax forms or pay taxes from 2003 through 2005." Irving was sentenced to 13 months earlier this year.
YOU MAY HAVE A POINT—Courtland Milloy has harsh words for annual Easter Monday black family gathering at the National Zoo: "If you...followed the signs that read 'Meet a Gorilla' and the ones that read 'Celebrate the African American Family,' you'd end up pretty much in the same place. Toward the back entrance, you'd find apes playing in a yard at the Great Ape House and, on a smaller grassy enclave across from it, you'd see children at the black family gathering doing the same....[W]hy would anyone want their heritage celebrated at a zoo, especially black people? And it's not just the jarring incongruity of having blacks and beasts on display side by side....[Y]ou'd think black people — having seen themselves listed on the zoo marquee as a featured attraction, right up there with the Giant Panda — would have been offended enough to stop going long ago. But no. Hundreds, if not thousands, showed up again this year."
Examiner editorial decries the end of vouchers. "Utterly unfair. Downright cruel. Only strong words do justice to the way the Obama administration, the Democratic congressional leadership, and Mayor Adrian Fenty broke official promises of education financial assistance made years ago to nearly 2,000 poor families in D.C. What these officials have done is worse than merely pulling the rug out from under the affected families; it’s more like pulling a ladder out from under them with nothing below to cushion their fall." HMM, SO YOU GUYS ARE ALL FOR SAFETY NETS?
ALSO—Bloomberg News on voucher debate.
GGW has names of two new Fenty appointees—Christopher Landis will replace John Vlach on the Historic Preservation Review Board, and Konrad William Schlater will replace Greg Jeffries on the Zoning Commission. "Landis, an architect, is one of the of the founders of Landis Construction. Schlater was a Special Assistant to Deputy Mayor Neil Albert until last year, and now works for William C. Smith + Co."
Bisnow points out big change in zoning policy, via Holland & Knight's Whayne Quin: "He calls the reg a significant extension—in the past developers had to begin construction within two years of receiving approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Now, that's doubled: 'In this economy that can be a valuable period of time for developers.'"
Vox Populi spots Fenty chatting with Georgetown U. President Jack DeGioia at Barack Obama's Gaston Hall speech yesterday.
Howard U. student James Duncan III, missing since March 26, has been found. "Authorities declined to say where Duncan was located or reveal other details. 'He has a right to privacy and doesn't want his whereabouts to be known,' said Gwendolyn Crump, a D.C. police spokeswoman." ALSO IN BRIEFS—Ground broken on $1.6M Columbia Heights plaza project.
Barry Svrluga does nice WaPo A1 piece on the five Russian nationals on the Caps, and how they bring local Russians together. "Unlike some East Coast cities, the District has no neighborhood of Russian immigrants, no equivalent of Brooklyn's Brighton Beach or Miami's Sunny Isles Beach. The Russian community here, such as it is, is scattered, much of it in the suburbs, small pockets of software executives and IT professionals in Gaithersburg, Rockville and across Northern Virginia....So the Russian Capitals...have not only combined to make the Capitals hugely popular in their home country, they also provide one of the few tangible bonds for Russians here."
WILL THE NATS EVER WIN?—WaPo ed board says yes! "Well, as veteran fans know — and there are a fair number of them around here, despite the three-decade absence of baseball — no team loses all the time; the Nats will start winning some, though how often is problematic. What's more certain is that the well-being of a city's ball team depends on a solid core of followers who appreciate the game for what it is in its essence: a game of moments rather than pennants, a collection of individual experiences that last just a moment on the late-night news but a lifetime in the recollections of those who witnessed them." That kicks off four paragraphs of overwrought hardball rhapsody no doubt written by a middle-aged white man.
WRC-TV dredges up an old pic of Jim Graham with a beard.
SEEN AT THE HELEN HAYES AWARDS MONDAY—Carol Schwartz!
In case you were wondering, D.C.'s relatively light on illegal immigrants, Examiner reports. "While the District of Columbia ranked 41st in population, it came in seventh for the share of illegal immigrants in its work force, the Pew study said."
DO YOU REALIZE??—That the Flaming Lips are playing a show on the Mall this weekend?
Need more rain! We're about 4 inches down on the year so far, says WaPo.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—No events scheduled; spring recess.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—9 a.m.: guest, 9 News at 9 with Andrea Roane, WUSA-TV; 9:30 a.m.: remarks, Dextro Energy Triathlon kickoff, Tidal Basin paddleboat dock, Maine Avenue and 15th Street NW; 10:45 a.m.: remarks, United Medical Center MRI installation ribbon-cutting, United Medical Center, 1310 Southern Ave. SE; 7 p.m.: remarks, meeting with Concerned Neighbors Inc., Shepherd Park Library, 2nd floor, 7420 Georgia Ave. NW.