Free Harold Brazil: Loose Lips Daily
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Two GWU Students With Probable Swine Flu"; "Is Fenty Already Punishing Mary Cheh?"; "Brazil Found Guilty of Assault"; "Barry: Expect Weekly Hearings on Summer Jobs"; "Nonprofit Robbed Ahead of Service Event"
Happy Mondays all around. You knew this was coming: The WaPo editorial board hammers Vincent Gray for his moves to pump up the State Board of Education and to cut the Deputy Mayor for Education budget. 'It's difficult to see the logic of the changes....Does anyone really think that it's a good idea to return to an environment where the political interests of an elected school board are more important than the needs of students?...The council, having promised five years of stability to let the new system show results, now is tinkering in a way that can only be seen as a bid to undercut those efforts....Mr. Gray, inflamed by the mayor's immature pettiness in other matters, seems to have put his understandable pique ahead of responsible governing.'
FREE HAROLD BRAZIL—The former at-large councilmember has been convicted of simple assault by Superior Court Judge Jennifer Anderson in connection with an October tattoo shop fracas. LL was there for the verdict, as part of his continuing coverage of the matter. WaPo's Keith Alexander was there, too. And yes, LL finds this to be a farce.
STAGGERING—Examiner's Bill Myers FOIA's for this amazing statistic: 'The D.C. police department has spent nearly $74 million in overtime payments to have officers sit in cars monitoring the city’s “automated” photo radar guns, records show. The money spent represents almost four-fifths of the revenues earned from the tickets the radar guns are issuing, records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show....[T]he program requires officers to sit in the parked cars for hours at a time, monitoring and calibrating the equipment. That has led to millions in overtime payments, records show....Overtime payments have steadily decreased [since 2005] — from more than $27.8 million in fiscal 2006 to barely $3 million last year.' LL SEZ—Well, they always said this was about safety, not revenue....
UMPTEENTH—WaPo Mag profiles Hizzoner's workout regimen as part of its 'Fit for Fame' issue. '[T]he day is rounding toward the 14-hour mark. It started at 5:30 a.m. on a bitterly cold track where Fenty and his 15 to 30 training partners run every Wednesday. It's a motley collection of men and women, spanning a range of professions, with a shared dedication to the workout. They line up outside a public school in the pitch dark to run three to six miles in intervals as their families sleep cozily at home. Mondays and Fridays are the long runs, the 10-milers that start and end at the mayor's house. Swims are "squeezed" in once a week or so, sometimes during the day; in summer, a group meets at Hains Point and trains together.' ANYONE KNOW WHICH TRACK IS PICTURED?
Biz Journal's Jonathan O'Connell covers top District officials' stimulus talk at BIA event. CA Dan Tangherlini, DDOT's Gabe Klein, and DHCD's Leila Edmonds detailed spending plans and federal meetings. '“We’ve already had a series of meetings – very high level meetings – with agencies and their secretaries,” Tangherlini told the D.C. Building Industry Association on Friday....[H]e said he had “never seen this level of interest at the secretary level to work with the city” and mentioned meetings with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu....Gabe Klein, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, said he had already met three times with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood since taking over the job earlier this year. Klein is looking to win money for funding needed to build a transit way along K Street NW that could include high speed buses or street cars, purchase alternative fuel Circulator buses and make major improvements to Union Station that could include high speed rail.'
Mendo budget plan cancels FEMS move to the former P.R. Harris Education Center in Southeast, reports Gary Emerling in WaTimes, saving $30M in FY2010. '"The government is contracting," said Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat who also serves as the committee chairman. "With this economy, we can't afford spending roughly $29 million this year in this budget." Mr. Mendelson said the moves also would not be in the best interest of the agencies or the public. "It makes no sense to move the headquarters of both fire and corrections all the way across town and away from the center of government activity," he said....If the proposed relocation falls through, it could put plans for the Grimke school at risk. Sean Madigan, a spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, said the city issued a solicitation for development partners for Grimke and has received three bids, including two from charter schools.'
Clifton Coleman, 19—a key witness in the police killing of DeOnté Rawlings—has been sentenced to six months in prison for shooting his girlfriend in the face. Writes WaPo's Cheryl Thompson, 'The shooting occurred shortly before 4 p.m. Oct. 15, 2007, in Coleman's home in the Highland Dwellings housing complex. Coleman told police that Tucker called him a name. Coleman then retrieved a gun from his bedroom and threatened to shoot Tucker. He said he removed the gun's magazine but "forgot about the one" in the chamber, court records show. Coleman said the gun fired accidentally.'
Michael Neibauer has more in Examiner about District's efforts to collect taxes from Powerball winner. 'An emergency rule published in Friday’s D.C. Register clarifies that 8.5 percent of the winning check, or checks, will be withheld before the money is turned over to the winning D.C. resident. The reason for the change, according to explanatory language attached to the rule: “To protect the interest of the District in the event the winner relocates outside the District thereby attempting to avoid the District income or other tax.”...The still-anonymous Powerball winner may accept a single payment of $79.68 million, or 30 annuitized payments totaling $143.98 million. The District will collect $6.77 million if the winner chooses a lump sum payment, or $407,954 a year if an annuity is chosen.' Also NC8.
Harry Jaffe digs into the COG's Greater Washington 2050 report. 'For my money, the biggest change is how suburbanites connect with the center city. For decades, residents of Virginia and Maryland would call themselves Washingtonians, yet they would rarely venture into Washington. Now they see the city as more safe, its government more sensible, its economy as part of the growth engine driving the region....The study doesn’t mention what I consider the region’s other strength: its ability to accept and absorb new immigrants from all over the world. Despite much anger over immigration from south of the border, the suburbs are a melting pot of people from Asia, Europe, Africa and Arab lands.'
And Jonetta Rose Barras gives some ink to Wednesday pro-voucher rally scheduled for Freedom Plaza. '“Congress always says there’s no local support [for the program],” Elizabeth Plant, a spokeswoman for DC Children First, explained to me Friday when we talked about the upcoming rally. “We want to show there is an outpouring of support, particularly for the continuation of the scholarship program.”...Plant and voucher allies aren’t taking any chances. They’re looking for additional congressional support and are circulating a petition; more than 7,000 individuals have signed it. All of this, including Wednesday’s rally where former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and former Councilman Kevin P. Chavous are expected to appear, is necessary only because Democrats are more concerned about their relationship with organized labor than they are the education and future of low-income children. What a shame.'
H1N1 FLU UPDATE—Two cases at GWU, one at Howard U.; all are doing fine. (Also NC8, WTTG-TV, Hatchet.) WaPo examines media relations strategies: TMI in Md., not enough in Va.? WTOP, WUSA-TV look at how churches are responding.
And Marc Fisher questions handling of potential case in District family. 'The boy showed up at his doctor's office with a 103-degree fever, headache, muscle aches, congestion and the blahs. Looks like flu, said Howard Bennett, the pediatrician.....But two days went by before D.C. health officials picked up the specimen, tested it and delivered the verdict: Not swine. By then, the boy was fine, and everyone got back to school.'
Some nuggets from Mary Cheh's GGW live chat Friday. In response to a question about the delay in IZ rule promulgation, she says, 'When laws are passed directing the Executive branch to take specific action, they are to take it. What we have on our hands is an Executive that is refusing to follow the law. It's now up to the public, the press, and sites like these to insist that the law be followed....Ordinarily, a contest between the Executive and the Council is not likely to be resolved in the Courts. That means that each branch has to use the resources available to it, and public involvement, to press the other branch to do the right thing. For our part, that means using our oversight function, our budgetary tools, and the bully pulpit.'
AND—Check these possible initiatives: 'I have actually been thinking about doing away with gasoline-powered mowers. I haven't done enough research to determine which direction to go in (i.e., either a ban or incentives for purchase electric-powered equipment). But I would be interested in anyone's ideas along these lines' and 'I am working on legislation right now that would require the Government to post information online in electronic, searchable format.'
THE PANDA COULD BE PREGNANT! THE PANDA COULD BE PREGNANT!—National Zoo's Mei Xiang is acting like she might be preggers. WaPo: '[S]everal behaviors are raising hopes. Mei Xiang is "denning," meaning that she is bringing bamboo to a place that's dark and quiet. Also, she is eating less and cradling objects, including food....Starting last night, volunteers began monitoring Mei Xiang day and night on the zoo's pandacam. If she is pregnant, she will probably have the baby within three weeks....Officials cautioned that Mei Xiang might be experiencing a false pregnancy, as she has in years past.' Also AP.
Fisher remembers the District legacy of deceased GOP lion Jack Kemp: 'Kemp consistently chastised fellow Republicans as they joined many Democrats in various schemes to block Washingtonians from attaining the full voting rights that all other Americans take for granted....Kemp was always available to talk up D.C. voting rights, whether in the media, to local groups, or around the country. He sometimes attributed his awakening on the subject to his years as a sports star, living and playing with blacks and learning about some of the subtle pains that struck his friends even when no bald-faced discrimination was evident.'
Earl Reeves, 44, was shot to death Friday night on the 2600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.
Gary Imhoff looks at Fenty's new PERB nominees and sees 'Foxes in Charge of the Chicken Coop.' He writes, '[A]s a slap in the face of the council for rejecting his initial appointees, Mayor Fenty has taken the ultimate step to destroy PERB as an agency that can resolve labor disputes in a fair, impartial, and independent way....These four nominees have one thing in common. They all have experience and expertise in labor-management disputes, because they are all lawyers who specialize in representing employers in labor-management disputes....[I have] no reason to believe that a board on which four of the five members are management lawyers will be a fair and impartial panel. I have no reason to believe that labor unions or city workers should trust such a board to be impartial or to represent their interests fairly. I have no reason to believe that the mayor has changed his position toward city workers, and that he wants them to receive a fair and impartial hearing before PERB.'
DOROTHY SCOOP—'The mayor is still hoarding the city council’s tickets and denying councilmembers access to their own executive suite at the ballpark. But what is the mayor doing with the tickets? Well, prior to the coveted April 13 home opening game at the stadium, Ron Moten, the Chief Operating Officer of Peaceoholics and the “facilitator” of the scandal over the firetruck and ambulance donation to the Dominican republic, called friends and acquaintances to invite them to the game and to offer tickets and access to the city’s executive suite.'
WaPo letter writer: Ban politico ticket giveaways. '[I]t should be made an impeachable offense, requiring removal of the official from a position of public trust. There are strict rules regarding gifts to government officials. Those rules should apply universally. Government officials serve all citizens, not just those with government contracts.'
Colby King deals with issues larger than the District of Columbia in this weekend's column, examining a speech from Morehouse College President Robert M. Franklin. 'Franklin's remarks to students at an April 21 town hall meeting on the campus didn't make headlines. But excerpts from "The Soul of Morehouse and the Future of the Mystique" are making the rounds in African American homes and in social settings, thanks to the Internet and a communications phenomenon called the "black express," which preceded and outlives the Pony Express.'
Jay Matthews, in his WaPo column, notes a surprising development in the educational world: The American Federation of Teachers is taking grants from the reformist Broad and Gates Foundations. 'I would have been less surprised to see President Obama receive a campaign contribution from former vice president Richard B. Cheney....The Broad and Gates foundations have been on the charter schools' side for a long time. In the District, where the teachers union is an AFT local, this divide gets personal. Broad and Gates people have been friendly to D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, one of the few superintendents in the country who supports charters. Broad is thought to be one of the foundations promising to help fund Rhee's offer to give teachers big salary increases in return for surrendering tenure protections. [AFT chief Randi Weingarten] has much to say about how the D.C. teacher contract negotiations proceed, but she has given no sign of embracing Rhee's plan....So why is she accepting the foundations' money? Her friends and adversaries say she always thinks several moves ahead.'
SPEAKING OF BHO—He and Michelle had date night Friday at Citronelle.
Blogger sees Nathan Saunders' WTU sidelining as evidence of collusion between Weingarten and Rhee.
Rhee sat on panel last week at education writers conference (here in town, in case you're wondering), and Indianapolis Star writer was there: 'What emerged in the conversation is that trust between teachers, administrators, students and parents is essential....Rhee described that same trust from a central office perspective. She began getting complaints that teachers were told to do something differently with the only rationale being something along the lines of "because the central office said to." She told the principals that they had to be able to explain new requirements to teachers — or else it would erode trust in the central office. Rhee said she holds several meetings a week with teachers in the district so they can vent directly to her and answers emails from parents, teachers and students late into the night as a way to build communication and trust.'
DC Teacher Chic answers whether prospective teachers should consider DCPS: 'If you've got an open mind and you are willing to endure some roadblocks (and more frankly, bull sh*t), then DCPS may be for you. Of course, choosing the school that's right for you is an entirely different story...'
Bless Susie Cambria: She's started doing D.C. Register rundowns on her blog.
More Marion Barry gay marriage reax: From Stein Club ('It is unfortunate that Councilmember Barry, whose political career was born in the crucible of America's civil rights struggles, has sided with the forces of bigotry and intolerance, especially after having established a clear and consistent record of being supportive of LGBT issues'). From blogger ('You Know We're Screwed When Marion Barry Is The "Moral" one'). From Cato Institute. From American Spectator.
After dozens of local nonprofits bail, United Way supporter stands up for the beleaguered fundraising group in WaPo op-ed: 'While this development is unfortunate, it is not, as the Post story described it, "a blow to the United Way of the National Capital Area's efforts to move beyond its recent history." Rather, it simply illustrates the freedom of organizations to seek out what they feel is the best partnership to meet their needs.' Whatever.
Also in op-ed, NPS' John Lockwood says the federal stimulus money sent to the Mall just isn't enough. 'Among other things, just a stone's throw from Congress itself, the sidewalks around the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial pool are crumbling....The pool at Constitution Gardens needs just as much help as its neighbor, the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. In the summer, both pools turn a poisonous-looking green, like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft horror story....Perhaps most disturbing, and in spite of its 1998-2000 restoration, the Washington Monument is getting that crumbly, dirty look again. Many of the repair patches have fallen out. Water still seeps in during rainstorms, a problem throughout most of its history.'
Dr. Gridlock reader points out safety issue with Metro trains: Why no operator call button in the middle of cars? WaPo rounds up Metro service cuts. And Wilson Bridge hike/bike trail will open June 6.
Answer Man remembers D.C.'s forgotten hospitals—Hahnemann/Homepathic and Garfield.
Hindu wedding, complete with elephant, shut down DeSales Street NW Saturday.
DOH SEZ—Lay off the raw alfalfa sprouts.
Per Reliable Source, Hizzoner will be attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner as a guest of CBS News.
LL CONGRATS—To council PSCA staffer Nathan Ostrander. Got married this weekend, and got an NYT announcement!
Blogger suggestion: Justice Eleanor Holmes Norton! 'She is not only a crackling wit and tireless public servant, she is also extremely well-versed in constitutional issues.'
EHN sings Stephen Colbert's praises.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Housing and Workforce Development FY2010 budget markup (additional), JAWB 120; legislative press briefing, JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10 a.m.: remarks, Golden Olympics opening ceremony, Emery Recreation Center, 5801 Georgia Ave. NW; 11:15 a.m.: remarks, vacant property demolition, 3910-3912 Georgia Ave. NW; 3 p.m.: remarks, Apps for Democracy second round contest kick-off, Newseum, Knight Conference Center 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Room 702; 5:30 p.m.: remarks, Campbell Heights Residents Association meeting, 2001 15th St. NW; 6:30 p.m.: remarks, Asian Pacific Islander community service awards, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW.