City Desk

Inside the Fenty Skybox: Loose Lips Daily

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Morning all. LL was delighted last night to attend D.C. Appleseed's annual gala dinner at the National Press Club, where such distinguished and deserving folks as Alice Rivlin, Sharon Baskerville, and Eleanor Holmes Norton received awards. Oh, and David Catania, too—he got the big award and delivered the keynote address, recounting his efforts to fix "a government that had lost its way and cheated its citizens." He was introduced by colleague Mary Cheh, who lauded the health committee chair as the council's "intellectual anchor." LL asked Catania afterward if he's decided yet to run for re-election (or perhaps for some other office): "I'm not answering!" he said.

WTOP's Mark Segraves finally squeezes a full accounting of who used baseball tickets out of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's office; it's a fun list. Some names: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rep. JoAnne Emerson (R-Mo.), Rep. William Clay Jr., Natwar Gandhi, Dan Tangherlini, Neil Albert, George Hawkins, Chico Horton, Diaa Nour, Chuck Brodsky, Clarence Labor, Chris Donatelli, Omar Karim, and Sinclair Skinner. The last two, incidentally, have all been spotted in Las Vegas in recent days.

STATEMENT—"The mayor is committed to sharing the tickets with District residents," says Mafara Hobson.

Harry Jaffe weighs in on the 'most important work the government will do this decade,' aka the Omnibus Anti-Crime Amendment Act of 2009. (Seriously—he actually wrote that.) To wit, Jaffe details Monday's hearing before the council public safety and judiciary committee, which ended in a battle of petulance between chair Phil Mendelson and AG Peter Nickles. '[B]oth men played the clown — petty ones at that — delivering tit for tat on matters so crucial to keeping the peace on city streets. Nickles thumbed his nose at Mendelson by not letting his lawyers testify; Mendelson was angry that Nickles refused to play to his script, so he felt compelled to gavel his disrespect.' Cue the melodrama: 'It certainly isn’t good for residents of Anacostia, where the blood of gunshot victims still soaks sidewalks every night. It isn’t good for women raped by men infected with HIV. It isn’t good for neighborhoods terrorized by gangs.'

ALSO—Read the most intellectually dishonest sentence a local publication will print this decade: '[T]hought to be soft on crime, Mendelson had to play the tough guy in some cases to balance the discussions.'

NO, HARRY—You know what, if Adrian Fenty were really taking this legislation as seriously as you say he is, he'd cut out the juvenile BS, and call Phil Mendelson back and figure this out. (Mendo called Fenty right after the hearing ended; still hasn't heard back.) You know, maybe acknowledge that Mendo, too, is a citywide elected official who actually has a role to play here rather than have Mr. "I'm Not a Politician" Nickles browbeat him into doing this "most important work" through bully politics.

The WaPo editorial board again hits the D.C. Council for various education-related items in the FY2010 budget. Those items, 'to withhold critical school funds, second-guess the schools chancellor and undermine mayoral control,' have 'troubling implications for the District's fledging efforts at education reform,' the paper writes. 'If council members don't reconsider these misguided decisions, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty should try to overrule them.'

WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson covers the final days of the old Oak Hill, with the new facility to be dedicated before month's end. 'The $44 million "New Beginnings Youth Center" is being built nearby on the same Laurel, Maryland grounds. It will hold only 60 inmates, meaning some prisoners from Oak Hill are being re-located to group homes in the District. It isn't clear how many youth will be brought in to the city.'

The D.C. Jail is reporting a hike in violent attacks, from 67 attacks on staff and five on fellow inmates in FY2007 to 108 staff attacks and 45 inmate attacks in FY2008, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. 'The Corrections Department attributes the drastic increases to more diligent reporting of incidents at the jail, rather than a spike in violent behavior. But the union that represents jail guards said inmates lash out without fear of repercussion....“The numbers are not going to go down until there’s a reasonable expectation of accountability of one’s action,” said John Rosser, vice chairman of the D.C. corrections officers union. “Telling an inmate ‘I’m going to prosecute’ is like telling a masochist ‘Keep acting like that and I’m going to beat you.’ ”'

EWW—'The largest contributor to the 2008 spike was “nonviolent cases where body fluids and other liquids were thrown,” the department explained.'

Meanwhile, Examiner colleague Bill Myers rounds up area jail problems: 'A book could be written on D.C. scandals. The jail was rocked by revelations that officers helped two dangerous inmates escape from custody — wearing guard uniforms — in 2006. Within the year, two inmates were able to kill themselves — one of them a mentally ill woman who was supposed to be under constant observation. In 2005, the District settled a class-action suit over the treatment of prisoners for $12 million. Two years later, a new suit was filed.' Myers asks, 'Why are jails so hard to run?' Genius MoCo warden says it's because, 'We have a population that doesn’t want to be here.'

DID YOU KNOW?—Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), D.C. congressional bogeyman, doesn't actually live in the congressional district he represents? (HT Mike Licht)

Examiner's Teddy Kahn covers the gay-marriage balloting among Ward 8 and Ward 5 Democrats. Conclusion: 'Black Democrats in the District are split on recognizing same-sex marriages, based on the results of two recent straw polls.' Also, DCist and WaPo's Tim Craig on the Ward 5 vote: 'The vote occurred after a group of ministers and same-sex marriage opponents decided that they would use Ward 5 to prove they can still pull off the organizing skills needed to influence a committee vote.'

LL SEZ—In that case, they might need to organize some more: the Ward 6 Dems voted last night to support gay marriage, 73-3.

Local running writer/former Postie Jim Hage profiles Fenty's running habits for Universal Sports. 'Fenty runs marathons more regularly than elected officials hold fundraisers, and competes at shorter distances as often as pols shake hands; the mayor’s SUV and security detail is a common sight at area races. In the spring of 2007, a few months after winning election, Fenty ran the National Marathon on a whim – he had entered the half marathon, but crossed the finish line at 13.1 miles and just kept going....Fenty’s time of 4 hours 8 minutes 3 seconds was unexceptional....[O]n a cold Washington morning in March, Fenty ran his third straight National Marathon, this time in 3:25:46, just 10:46 from a Boston Marathon qualifying time, the Holy Grail of running....Fenty’s improvement over the past two years coincides with his regular attendance at weekly track sessions organized by Hilary Cairns, formerly an elite road racer and now an elite triathlete. A group of 15 to 20 runners put in three to four miles of intervals ranging from 400 meters to a 4-mile tempo run – and lest any constituent or critic suggest the mayor’s time would be better spent attending to city business, the track workouts start at 6 a.m.'

Bill Turque reports on the supposed 'meltdown' of a DCPS administrator at a principals' forum last week. Michael Moody, the 'Special Advisor, Academics' who is 'taking a lead role in coaching principals to galvanize their staffs so that curriculum, teacher professional development, school environment and the use of test data are all working in sync toward the of goal raising student achievement,' reportedly 'went ballistic' after principals suggested that class size has something to do with levels of student achievement. Says DCPS, 'Michael did not lose his composure.'

COG study: Bad economy means less traffic 'round these parts. You heard that correctly: 'COG did a traffic count using aerial photos taken over three days last spring,' explains Chris L. Jenkins in WaPo. 'Traffic had dropped 3.1 percent from 2005, including a sharp reduction in congestion in several choke points in the area. It was the first time the number of miles traveled declined in the 15 years the study has been conducted.' BUT—'[S]ome maddening spots across the region have gotten worse. Those include a stretch of Interstate 395 from Fourth Street in the District over the 14th Street bridge to Route 1 in Alexandria during the evening rush.' Also Examiner, WTOP.

WaTimes covers DC VOICE report that finds that DCPS 'has a shortage of well-trained and qualified teachers.' Furthermore, '[t]he report also found that Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee had not filled 225 teaching positions before the first day of school last fall, up nearly 50 percent from the previous year. The most common reasons for the vacancies given by the principals interviewed were the lack of applications for such positions as math and special-education teachers, the report states.'

Barbara Jordan Public Charter School, a middle school in Manor Park, is set to close at the end of the school year, Turque reports. 'It currently serves 61 students. The school caused a stir three years ago when it offered parents $100 payments to enroll their children.' It is the third charter to close this year. Also NC8.

WaPo's Petula Dvorak covers the gang-robbery of a Logan Circle clothing store, and how the owner is fighting back: 'The physicality of it doesn't come through in a police report labeled "shoplifting": the boldness of nine young men walking into an upscale store in a Northwest Washington shopping district and taking it over, snatching what they wanted and muscling their way past store workers trying to tackle them.' Says owner: "It was just so frustrating, knowing this is just going to continue to get lost in the District's long list of police investigations." So he put video online.

GGW is all over today's performance parking hearing. SWDCblog, too.

Budget pressures have affected fire department staffing, Chief Dennis Rubin reports in a press conference, including the canceling of a cadet class. And, of course, fingers were pointed: 'Rubin said the D.C. Council approved a final department budget for fiscal year 2010 that was a $2.5 million reduction from what was proposed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).' THE REAL NEWS—Who let Rubin have a press conference without Fenty?

More on Disney @ National Harbor from WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.

Four wounded, one critically, in afternoon shooting in Bloomingdale/Eckington. A subsequent car chase ended in Prince George's County. WaPo: 'Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said she suspected that the shootings were tied to gang activity. The area has been a trouble spot, she said. In April 2008, for example, two people were killed and a third wounded on successive afternoons...."We've put a lot of work in here in the last year and a half," Lanier said. "We do have known gangs in the neighborhood that have been involved in disputes back and forth. We dealt with them at the beginning of the year. We were able to quiet things down for awhile."' Also WTTG-TV.

Remembering Durval Martins, five months after his murder. It is still unsolved.

Charges dropped 'because prosecutors withheld key evidence' in murder of D.C. girl at Delaware State University. 'Loyer Braden, 20, of East Orange, N.J., had been charged with second-degree murder, assault and other crimes after a September 2007 campus shooting that killed 17-year-old Shalita Middleton.'

The District may not have the death penalty, but if you commit a crime in the District, then get sent to Texas to serve your time, and there you murder your cellmate, then, yes, you can be put to death. Which is what happened to Joseph Ebron, 30, who killed a fellow Washington while in federal prison in 2005. He was tried for the murder in the Texas courts.

Attention most Comcast customers: You're finally going to get the NFL Network.

Per Marc Fisher: 'Adrian is a more popular boy's name today than ever before in recorded history. Its numbers go up and up every year, hitting #56 among boy's names nationwide in 2008, vastly higher than back in 1970, when the mayor was born in the District.'

NOTA BENE—At 11:30 a.m., protesters are set to gather at JAWB to protest the abrupt privatization of the APRA Women’s Services Division.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—11 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on B18-057 ("Residential Parking Protection Pilot Act of 2009"), B18-153 ("Commercial Curbside Loading Zone Implementation Act of 2009"), and B18-277 ("Ward 6 Residential Parking Protection Pilot Act of 2009"), JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—No public events scheduled.

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  • SG

    Mendelson is the equivalent of a war criminal. The blood is on his hands. All in the name of political correctness.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Only in DC - only a population of beaten down ex-slaves & self-absorbed yuppies would allow Boss Fenty to rule.

  • Q

    This is madness. The ticket disclosure takes the cake. The document itself seems hurriedly put together and doesn't cover the basics, as in consistently HOW MANY were given out and the dates. I find it hard to believe that organizations like Barney Senior Services got 1 ticket. All of this so cry baby Vincent Gray can get to go to a ball game or do the same thing that Fenty did, give the tickets to his "handlers", associates, friends, etc. What constituents does Gray have anyway? None in Ward 7, as he was simply a carpetbagger when he won the first election.

    Good to hear that da Mayor is in good physical shape, but really is any of this news. Fenty has been running from things for a long time. He RAN for office. He RAN the previous Police Chief out of town. He's running DCPS into the ground. He ran away from the transparent government he talked about. He runs away from the issues when hard pressed. He's running up a tab for DC Taxpayers in Las Vegas, etc., etc., etc. The major place where he hasn't run or failed to leave the starting blocks is HUMILITY.

    Are you guys sure that Harry Jaffe and Mafara Hobson aren't one in the same?

  • Q

    D*mn, you gotta be kiddin me about the Shalita Middleton case. If Braden is innocent, good for him, but how can a technical error of this magnitude be allowed. Shameful prosecution.

    The COG study...Three days of surveillance (I mean aerial photo research) isn't a significant study of traffic dynamics. 80,000 photos is significant, but something of this magnitude should at least include possibly two weeks of data. Telecoumters, TDY folks, folks whose work schedule puts them off on Fridays or Mondays, c'mon. I'd look at all that first before I'd claim a wholesale decline.

  • Truth Hurts

    Hey Q, your "this is madness" post was spot on regarding Gray and Fenty. Gray's pettiness and repeated Fenty swipes reported by WAPO's "I love you Vince" Nikita have been there from day one. Fenty ignores Gray because he doesn't trust him. Gray undercuts Fenty because Fenty disses Gray. Fenty disses Gray because he doesn't trust him. Madness, but not unexpected or breaking news. Far more disappointing (and surprising) is Fenty's arrogance, and his steady retreat from promises of an open and transparent administration. I never believed in Gray, but I once had high hopes for Fenty.

  • Q

    Truth Hurts, you are on to something...maybe Nikita Stewart and Mafara Hobson are one in the same, LOL! I often though I was an idealist, but you beat me there. I never had much expectation for Gray. He was the Ward 7 Councilmember for a hot second and never looked back...unless you hung around Randall Highlands. He was a complete disappointment that got FAILED UPWARD as they say.

    Fenty is no better. Outside of a handshake at the 2006 Carribean Festival/Parade, I haven't gotten anything from Fenty...except excuses and poor explanations by his staff why things weren't done. He was ELEVATED to his status based on deceptive promises.

    We have a slickster on one hand and a liar on the other hand. Both are untrustworthy. The difference between the two, one is a jerk and the other is a punk. Neither are meeting the needs of the people, yet both think that they can fix their images in 15 months. PLEASE people, show up at the POLLS in 2010. Enough is enough.

  • Tom

    First off, I have never meant a law that has stopped a crime. I find it hilarious that people think laws have any impact on crime. I wonder if criminals new that robbery was illegal and carried stiff penalties if they would still commit the crime???? Intelligent and effecient enforcement of the law is the only thing that can impact crime.

    We have had the strongest hand gun legislation in the country, and yet still high columes of gun violence. It will take a lot more than the garbage legislation that the mayor and council are sparring over to lower crime rates.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Q is right. Where is the transparency on these tickets? The tickets are nothing but a slush fund for Fenty, Gray, & the rest of the felons on the DC council.

  • License to Kill

    Q, I'm an idealist, and i also believe in redemption. Gray won't change, but that doesn't mean his subliminal "one city" message, financed by Replublican corporate donors, won't work again (remember, Nikita didn't report it last time). I still hold out hope Fenty, on the other hand. But unless he reverses course soon, i'll totally abandon him. And I'll take my crew with me.

  • fedupcitizen

    Well license to kill take him with you, if you think he's an agent for change then you are in for a rude awakening.

  • Anybody But Fenty

    Anybody but Fenty! I can not believe this man that was elected by the people. I watch him on FOX every week and he does not make common sense to me. He rambles when talking and advoids uncomfortable conversations. Does Fenty have a twin becasue I can not believe that this is the same person. ANYBODY BUT FENTY!