Free the Capital Challenge: Loose Lips Daily
Afternoon all. Apologies to all for getting LLD out so late today, but LL competed this morning in the yearly Capital Challenge race—a Washington ritual where Hill types, executive-branch functionaries, judicial officials, and the media run an out-and-back three-miler down in Anacostia Park. There's one group that isn't invited, and that's District government folks. That is, except for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who competed by special invitation with members of his Fleet Feet AOAT team. LL channeled Mark Plotkin for a moment and asked Fenty whether he'd agitate to get District functionaries involved next year. After all, LL pointed out, there's a lot of running talent in the John A. Wilson Building. "Boards and commissions, too," Fenty pointed out (though not quite as much as he might hope). For another thing, the CEO of race sponsor American Council of Life Insurers, Frank Keating, is also president of the Federal City Council these days. Surely that's a guy who would take a call from Hizzoner. "Let's you and me work on this," Fenty said. Say it now: FREE THE CAPITAL CHALLENGE!
INCIDENTALLY—LL clocked about a 23:05, about a half-minute behind soon-to-be-former WaPo city-hall beatster David Nakamura. Fenty said he finished in 18:26, about 25 seconds behind former LL Erik Wemple.
Local reporters dig into the council's budget changes.
—In Examiner, Michael Neibauer ledes with the streetlight fee, Emancipation Day, E-911 tax, and summer jobs cuts. He also notes this bit of language: 'OUC Director Janice Quintana, [Phil Mendelson]'s committee states in its budget report, "continues to fall short of expectations to effectively manage OUC and prioritize its public safety role."'
—In WaTimes, Gary Emerling also gives the Mendo report a close reading, noting that it 'criticized the administration for not submitting rules for expanding a program that allows inmates to earn time off of their sentences...regulations for a year-old initiative consolidating thousands of surveillance cameras in the city.'
—In Biz Journal, Jonathan O'Connell looks at efforts to cut corporate income tax and vacant property tax rates—both are on hold—and delves into Kwame Brown's committee report, including this: 'Replacing other Fenty proposals for the Neighborhood Investment Fund earmarks with competitive grants and $1 million for the National Council of Negro Women.' That's in addition to $1.5M for O Street Market.
—In WaPo, Tim Craig and Bill Turque mention Emancipation Day, charter school facilities, and the "all but gutting" of Victor Reinoso's office in their lede, before moving on to the streetlight fee and other concerns. They called the Reinoso cuts the 'most dramatic move,' explaining that 'Gray has long been unhappy with Reinoso, whose portfolio includes oversight of the school construction agency, reuse of surplus school buildings and the coordination of social services in schools.'
CHAIRMAN SEZ—'Gray denied that he wanted to marginalize Reinoso because of tensions with Fenty over everything from baseball tickets to education policy. "The reality is, I don't think he functions very well," Gray said. "I don't think there has been any value added. This has nothing to do with the last two or three weeks. It has to do with my observations over the last two years."'
Anti-gay-marriage ministers et al. converge on Freedom Plaza to protest D.C. Council vote. LL was there, and so was WaPo, whose Hamil Harris writes, 'Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), a co-sponsor of the council bill to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, told the rally that he now opposes the bill. He later described his position as "evolving."' Examiner's Teddy Kahn was there, and notes that Barry called himself 'a politician who is moral' and 'urged the approximately 100 protesters outside the Wilson Building on Tuesday to "pack the chambers" and confront his colleagues at next week's vote.' There, too, was WAMU-FM's David Schultz, WJLA-TV's Sam Ford, WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson, Blade's Lou Chibbaro Jr., DCist's Sommer Mathis, a WRC-TV camera. And bloggers go absolutely crazy. A whole lot of them.
In other Barry news, a tipster tells WaPo's Craig that the Ward 8 councilmember and confirmed tax scofflaw big some $800 on an "opera coat" at Saturday's GWU cancer gala. The mayor-for-life confirms: 'In an interview yesterday, Barry said he bought the coat "out of my own personal money." He then said he topped CNN host Wolf Blitzer during the bidding. "I started out bidding $700, then he bid $750," Barry said. "He couldn't get it at $750, so I bid higher." He said his girlfriend had remarked on entering the room that she loved the coat, which had a value of $2,000, and he decided to buy it for her as a gift for her birthday next month.'
U.S. News, WaPo both do 100-days stories on how the Obamas have gotten around town. "It's been nothing short of incredible," Fenty tells Rich Leiby. "It's really an unprecedented level of energy and commitment to Washington, D.C., and the issues that are important to the people who live here. It brings an excitement to the city that I haven't seen before, and I've lived here my whole life."
FASCINATING—Also from Leiby: 'One important hire was Jocelyn Frye, a Washington native and classmate of Michelle Obama's at Harvard Law School. Frye serves in a dual role: as a domestic policy adviser to the president and director of policy and projects for the first lady...."The outreach starts with both of them; it is part of their style," Frye says. "When she and her family moved here they didn't just want to sit behind four walls. They wanted to get out."...Frye spent 15 years at the nonprofit National Partnership for Women and Families in Washington....Now her work includes finding places where a visit or activity by the first lady will tie into a broader theme or agenda. "It's easy to write down on a piece of paper that you want to inspire people; it's harder to make that real," she says. Frye put at least three local sites on Michelle Obama's radar: Miriam's Kitchen at 24th and G streets NW, Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care in Adams Morgan, and Anacostia High School — all of which the first lady visited. (Frye also suggested two lunch spots Michelle Obama went to with local leaders: B. Smith's and Georgia Brown's.)'
WaPo's Courtland Milloy gets in on the 'Soloist' craze, profiles D.C.'s own homeless savant: One Mary Bland (not her real name). 'Except that I don't have a clue about who Mary is. And as for getting a home for her, many have tried through the years, all in vain....She said she became homeless eight years ago, when an organization she was working for as a counselor to homeless women lost a grant and she lost her job. Before that, she says, she was a movie producer, and before that, a student of classical music at Juilliard and at Mannes College, both in New York. Asked how old she is, Mary quipped, "Too young to retire, not old enough for Social Security."'
Harry Jaffe remembers retired D.C. cop Tom Blagburn, the 'Godfather of community policing.' 'Tom was for the Washingtonian parents who couldn't read, whose kids went to school hungry, whose lives were stamped "loser" a generation or two ago. Tom would call me up and rage at how I was a lousy journalist because I wasn't writing enough about the "real problems" of the city....Tom won't be calling anymore. He died yesterday morning. In that sad moment, the nation's capital lost someone who was totally selfless and completely dedicated to kids and families in dire straits.'
JAFFEWATCH—Find two things wrong with this sentence: 'I'm not talking about the swells who reside east of Rock Creek Park in Upper Caucasia; and I'm not referring to the black and white middle-class folks who live along 16th Street in Shepherd's Park or Crestwood; or even the yuppies and buppies who are jamming themselves into all the swank new downtown condos.'
Several area nonprofits are switching their fundraising affiliations from United Way to a competing group, 'citing years of frustration with a steady decline in workplace giving in the Washington region and lingering distrust of the local United Way since it was nearly destroyed by scandal earlier this decade,' reports Megan Greenwell in WaPo. 'The new group, called Community1st, includes some of the region's most prominent nonprofits, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, WETA public television and the Whitman-Walker Clinic. The nonprofits' leaders are scheduled to announce the move at a news conference this morning....The move represents the biggest challenge—and one of only a handful in the country—to United Way's primacy in workplace fundraising. It is a blow to the United Way of the National Capital Area's efforts to move beyond its recent history, which included an investigation of fraudulent accounting that sent the group's former chief executive to prison in 2004.' Also Biz Journal.
SWINE FLU UPDATE—University of Delaware reports 'probable' cases. 'Meanwhile,' reports WaPo, 'residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia scrutinized every sniffle and cough and weighed whether to curtail trips to the mall and other public areas and wondered whether it was inevitable—as Maryland health officials predicted Monday—that swine flu would surface here....Metro officials said they will extend the use of hospital-grade disinfectant to clean "touch surfaces" in the rail and bus systems. Trains and stations are disinfected daily and buses, which are spot-cleaned with the disinfectant every two weeks, will undergo more frequent cleaning if necessary.' And area hospitals are seeing bump in ER visits, Examiner reports. Also WTTG-TV. BTW: IT'S 'H1N1' NOW.
The money-guzzling MetroAccess service is cracking down, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. 'Starting Friday, the transit agency will begin cutting off service to those who repeatedly cancel rides within less than two hours of the scheduled trip — or those who don't show up at all. As a penalty, riders can be suspended from using the service for up to four weeks....The change is worrying disability rights advocates and the riders who rely on the service.'
One person charged by feds in vast mortgage fraud scheme pleads guilty to money laundering. WaPo: 'Carole Nelson, appearing before U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus in Greenbelt, pleaded guilty to a single count of money laundering. She agreed to forfeit two homes, in Virginia and Washington, and faces up to 10 years in prison....Prosecutors said Nelson was the chief financial officer for a Dream Homes company. In her 20 months of employment with Metro Dream Homes, she received $413,075 in compensation, prosecutors said. In court papers, Nelson also acknowledged that she lied about her income to try to qualify for a $200,000 Bentley. Two senior employees with the company purchased Bentleys on a single day, the papers said.'
WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden looks at how Barry Farm is "Facing the Mortgage Crisis." 'Two years after the Civil War ended, the Freedman's Bureau established a settlement for former slaves on the eastern bank of the Anacostia River. Barry Farm, as the community became known, is one of D.C.'s oldest African-American neighborhoods. Today, it's a low-income housing development plagued by crime, high unemployment and now the recession.'
The boy presumed drowned in the Potomac Sunday was not the day's only victim, authorities have determined. Hau T. Nguyen, 37, of Falls Church is missing. WaPo: 'D.C. detectives interviewed witnesses again Monday night and learned that another man, Nguyen, jumped into the river as well, according to Lt. Paul Niepling of the D.C. police harbor patrol unit. "He was just another fisherman who was out there enjoying the day," Niepling said. "He saw the kid, so he jumped in."' Also WRC-TV.
Coroner determines that GWU student found dead in January died of alcohol poisoning. Writes Susan Kinzie in WaPo, 'Laura Treanor, 19, of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., was found dead in her bed after a night out with friends. A roommate tried to wake her and realized that she was unconscious, then called 911...."The circumstances of her death were tragic," said GW spokeswoman Tracy Schario...."What the medical examiner's report does do is bring closure to the situation," she added. "While the initial report cited 'natural causes,' it did make everyone wonder, 'Why did a 19-year-old die so young?' Now we know."'
WAPO BRIEFS—'Ex-Employee Admits Stealing School Property': Hakeem Blaize, 27, says he stole $27K worth of DCPS computers between December 2006 and October 2008 (also AP); 'Police Name Suspect in Fatal Shooting': Senneca Benjamin, 31, is thought responsible for shooting death of Monique C. Nalle, 42, in Bloomingdale home Sunday (also WTOP); 'Man Found Slain After Report of Gunfire': Richard B. Robinson, 22, shot dead on the 4300 block of Wheeler Road SE shortly after midnight.
Happy the Hippo, longtime National Zoo denizen, is headed to Milwaukee. Reports WaPo's Michael Ruane, 'His new digs there will include a pool, a sandy beach and two female hippos, Puddles and Patty. His new name is going to be "Happier," one zoo official here joked. Happy, who is 27 and weighs about 7,000 pounds, has lived his whole life at the National Zoo but has to leave because the expansion of the zoo's elephant exhibit, now well under way, will be claiming his quarters.'
Brookings' Martha Ross makes the case at GGW for quality over quantity when it comes to summer jobs. 'The city is to be applauded for setting a bold goal to help youth with a robust summer program. But it needs to align its vision with budgetary realities and its administrative capacity. It is irresponsible to put $43 million toward SYEP given its track record. In budgeting for the 2010 effort, the agency should decide how many youth it can serve in a high-quality program — certainly far fewer than 21,000, and probably fewer than 15,000 participants.'
Whitman-Walker 'financial contributor' Kristin Davis calls David Catania's WWC investigation 'disheartening' in WaPo letter. 'Mr. Catania's outrage over the clinic's management—and his outrageous allegations of malfeasance—began only after his well-connected friends were laid off....What is especially appalling is the viciousness of Mr. Catania's attacks. Mr. Catania is draining Whitman-Walker's resources, harming its ability to raise funds and ultimately hurting the D.C. residents who so badly need its services.'
WaPo's Jacqueline L. Salmon looks at the area's lay-led Jewish youth groups. 'The young people represent some of the most devout of their generation and, worried that they are being lost, rabbis and other Jewish leaders in the Washington region and elsewhere are working hard to bring them back into the fold, including offering financial grants to independent groups who are willing to create partnerships with traditional worship communities.'
Malfunctioning civil defense siren wakes many Northwest residents early this a.m.
Two motorcoaches full of kids involved in crash at New York Avenue and 1st Street NW, injuring 24 children and six adults. 'The children were taken to a hospital along with one adult, who broke an arm,' says WTOP. Also WTTG-TV, WUSA-TV, NC8, which says six vehicles were involved in a 'chain reaction' crash.
Air Force cancels planned monuments flyover after NYC scare.
Flooding south of Baltimore stops Northeast Corridor trains.
Area unemployment down to 5.9 percent, with District unemployment at 9.5 percent.
COLD CASE—WRC-TV looks at unsolved 1999 murder in Northeast.
Bisnow profiles Barry's kidney surgeon, Clive Callender.
DDOT installs safety lights in 3rd Street Tunnel as part of overhaul.
Casey Trees to D.C.: In matters arboreal, you get a B! 'The rating, the only independent evaluation of D.C.'s trees, is based on five tree metrics of coverage, health, planting, protection and awareness,' writes Tierney Plumb in Biz Journal. 'Tree health – the overall condition of D.C.'s tree canopy – got the only A grade. Tree protection – regulatory and voluntary efforts to preserve existing trees – received the lowest grade of a C. The three other areas each received B grades.'
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Health FY2010 budget markup; 12 p.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs FY2010 budget markup; 2 p.m.: Committee on Economic Development FY2010 budget markup; 4 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation FY2010 budget markup.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—8:30 a.m.: participant, Capital Challenge race, Anacostia Park skating pavilion, 1900 Anacostia Drive SE; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, Environmental Excellence Awards, Big Bear Cafe, 1700 1st St. NW.