Grahamstanding Gets Greasy: Loose Lips Daily
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Rhee Tells Principals They’ll Be Losing Teachers"
Morning all. Today brings LLD readers a super-duper four-day-version of D.C. most comprehensive news roundup. It also brings lots of rain after three days of essentially perfect weather. The showers, NC8 reports, have led to flooding along Rhode Island Avenue NE near the Metro station and on Mount Olivet Road NE and 13th Street NE.
WJLA-TV/NC8 had it first: Jim Graham is now crusading against pizza. You see, jumbo-slice joints 'are part of the problem when it comes a recent rash of street fights, stabbings, muggings and even a shootout involving two plainclothes police officers. "Even though it's a legal business and everything, they have become a nuisance," Graham said. "Behaving the way they do in terms of music, in terms of letting people hang out and also in terms of tolerating a certain level of violence."' Includes exclusive hidden-camera footage of a pizza fight! Examiner, WaTimes, WTOP, DCist pick up the story.
Nikita Stewart gets wind of a couple good ones: Firstly, DPR has installed its first outdoor pool heater at East Potomac Pool, on Hains Point, which happens to be used by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on occasion for triathlon training. The $75,000 expense, Hizzoner says, was not done at his request. And Clark Ray, 'who was fired last month as the parks and recreation director, said his staff came up with the idea of the heater at East Potomac because the pool is mostly used by competitive swimmers. "I never spoke with the mayor about his desire to put a heater at Hains Point," he said.' Also WTTG-TV.
Secondly, in today's paper, Stewart writes about Fenty's sometimes chauffeur Keith Lomax, the former substitute teacher at Mackin Catholic turned construction tycoon. And, it turns out, he often drives Fenty's city-owned Lincoln Navigator, 'in apparent violation of laws that permit only city employees and officials to drive government vehicles.' Lomax's firm, RBK Landscaping and Construction, has taken some $11M in contracts under the Fenty administration. Writes Stewart, 'The pair were spotted riding along New York Avenue NE on May 13. When a reporter asked whether someone who is not a city employee was allowed to serve as his driver, Fenty responded, "He is if I let him."'
Peter Nickles, as Mark Segraves first reported Friday, is indeed living in a Chinatown apartment, and Dorothy Brizill fills in the details: 'That address is Apartment 216 in the Lansburgh, 420 7th Street, NW, in the Penn Quarter neighborhood (not in Chinatown, as has been previously reported)....Why the secrecy in Nickles’ case?...An alternate explanation is that he doesn’t want any attention paid to the terms of his rental agreement. The Lansburgh, according to its web site...offers “corporate short stays” (furnished apartments for thirty days or longer, on a month-by-month basis), as well as apartment residences. The building is owned by politically connected developers, the Horning Brothers. In the 1990’s, it was the residence of US Attorney General Janet Reno, as well as the in-town address for former MPD Chief Larry Soulsby. Soulsby was given a substantially reduced rate on his furnished apartment — but then, he had falsely claimed that the apartment was needed by the police department for an undercover operation.'
ALSO—On his party registration, to Segraves: '"I'm not going to get into questions about party affiliation," Nickles said. "I support the mayor. I'm not a politician. I support President Obama."...Asked if he registered as a Republican, Nickles said "No." But when asked if he registered as a Democrat, Nickles said, "I'm not going to get into whether I registered as an Independent or a Democrat."'
Deborah A. Robinson, federal magistrate judge, finally rules on prosecutors' attempts to jail Marion Barry for yet against failing to file his income taxes. Despite telegraphing her intentions in an April hearing, Robinson took six weeks to render her decision, it seems in order to decide how thoroughly to slam prosecutors for failing to prove 'willfulness' on Barry's part. She wrote, "The United States Attorney has, without explanation, failed to even attempt to prove [willfulness]. No authority supports the proposition that the United States Attorney may allege that a probationer violated his conditions of probation by new criminal conduct and request a hearing on that ground, and, at the hearing, call no witnesses and maintain that he need not offer any evidence at all with respect to an element of the offense." Apparently, not filing a tax return for the seventh year out of eight is not per se 'willful.' Who knew? Read Del Wilber in WaPo; Michael Neibauer in Examiner, Gary Emerling in WaTimes, AP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
Barry, natch, used Robinson's strongly worded opinion as an opening to call for a full investigation into prosecutorial misconduct on the part of U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, AUSA Tom Zeno, and unspecified others. 'Despicable' is what he called the attempts by prosecutors to enforce the law. Writes Nick Miroff, handling holiday weekend duties for WaPo, 'Barry praised the judge's ruling and said he has fired his longtime accountant, whom he declined to name. The 72-year-old Barry is recovering from a kidney transplant and has said he did not file the tax returns because of poor health. But Barry said he is doing much better now. "I haven't felt this good in 10 years," he told reporters, adding that he was planning to become a national advocate for kidney health issues.'
Harry Jaffe handicaps the U.S. Attorney sweepstakes and comes up with five hard names: 'Ron Machen, now with Wilmer Hale; Roy Austin, who is back with the prosecutor’s office after a stint in private practice; Anjali Chaturvedi, who worked as a federal prosecutor here and in San Francisco and now works for Nixon Peabody; Shanlon Wu, now in private practice; and Channing Phillips, principal assistant to current U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, the outgoing Bush nominee.' Now LL gave Jaffe a hard time last week over his crime bill demagoguery, but he's right on here: Phillips should get the nod. 'The 51-year-old prosecutor is in the mold of [AG Eric Holder]. Both are native Washingtonians, both have spent their lives in public service, both have a deep commitment to keeping the city safe....Choosing Phillips would make sense on many levels. On the stability side, the prosecutor’s office has run well under Taylor and Phillips. Brad Weinsheimer has worked with Phillips to bring cops and prosecutors closer together in Superior Court cases. Phillips and FBI Director Robert Mueller worked together when Mueller was a federal prosecutor here.'
Bill Turque pens B1 rundown of the Council-DCPS funding squabble for yesterday's WaPo. The outcome of the conflict, rooted in enrollment projections the council finds fanciful, 'could mean the difference between an orderly school opening and one marred by crowded classrooms and teacher shortages. The number both sides settle on will also be a measure of [Michelle Rhee]'s continued ability to get what she wants from the council as her chancellorship is about to enter its third year.' And Rhee hasn't exactly remained on the sidelines: 'She has lobbied members individually and targeted local school budgets — rather than central offices — for cuts should the $27 million reduction stand....That has turned the heat up on council members, who are getting anxious calls and e-mails from constituents. But it has also strained Rhee's relations with local school communities, which worked for months with Rhee's staff on developing the 2010 budget and wonder why she hasn't looked more closely at the central office bureaucracy for cuts.'
WHY THE FIGHT—'Until two years ago, funding was based on the prior year's enrollment, which had been authenticated by outside auditors. Fenty decided that it should be based on projections, the same way public charter schools are financed.'
Also in Monday's WaPo: Michael Alison Chandler interviews NYC schools honcho Joel Klein about Rhee's reforms. 'I'm a big believer in what Michelle is trying to accomplish,' says Klein. 'She has enormous nonprofit support. I think she has the analytic and the managerial and leadership skills — all three packaged — to pull it off. D.C. is in such poor shape. It's very hard to argue against not doing things very differently.' And on teacher compensation: 'In any [major] organization, while length of service matters, excellence matters most. It's true at The Washington Post. It's true at Microsoft. And it should be true in public education.'
NYC Schools vs. DCPS: Head to head.
FISHY FIRETRUCK UPDATE—Ahead of council hearings, officials Ronald E. Gill Jr. and Robin Booth lawyer up, on Nickles' orders. They'll get top-flight pro bono reps. Writes Stewart in WaPo: 'Booth will be represented by Venable, paid millions in city funds to represent the District in land deals around Nationals' Park. Covington & Burlington, Nickles's former employer, will represent Gill.'
ANNALS OF BAD PR TACTICS—After FEMS learns that WJLA-TV/NC8's piece on department whistleblowers Greg Bowyer and Gerald Pennington had been nominated for an Emmy, a deputy chief lobbies to have the story disqualified. 'Somehow the D.C. Fire Department's deputy chief Kenneth Crosswhite found out about the nomination and met Thursday with Fran Murphy, the president of president of the regional chapter of NATAS. According to Murphy, Crosswhite "wanted us to be aware of the circumstances, so that we would not tarnish the Emmy by awarding it to someone he felt was not worthy." Murphy said Crosswhite presented her with documents he claimed disproved [Jay Korff]'s story. She says she looked at the documents and the story and rejected Crosswhite's request that she kill the nomination. Asked if the request was unusual, Murphy replied. "This has absolutely never happened before. We were just kind of, like, stunned."'
OSSE has paid more than $3M thus far to Indianapolis-based Choices Inc. to help keep special-ed kids out of private placements, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. '“For too long, students in D.C. with behavior health needs have had scarce service options,” acting State Superintendent Kerri Briggs told The Examiner in an e-mail. “This project ensures access to an array of service options including intensive wraparound services for students who need them.”...Choices, the Indianapolis nonprofit, is headed by a former Nebraska child welfare official, Knute Rotto. The group’s tax returns show that it made more than $37 million in government contracts last year.'
The final DCPS calendar is out, and the six Wednesdays worth of out-of-school teacher training are gone, WaPo's Bill Turque reports. Instead, teachers will train on five Fridays during the school year. Why the change? '[C]oncern from teachers about Wednesday training as a momentum killer that disrupted the flow of the school week and effectively created "two Mondays." Parents were also unhappy about having to scramble for child care in the middle of the work week.'
WaPo editorial board assesses 'A Year of Taxi Meters' and finds that 'officials should be skeptical' of cabdrivers' complaints that they're working harder to make less money. '[T]he new system doesn't seem to be discouraging would-be drivers; the District resumed administering the exam to become a cab driver in March, and since then, 1,675 applicants have registered to take the test, and roughly 900 have passed.' Wait for hard numbers before fiddling with rates, they say!
Pepco has petitioned the Public Service Commission for a delivery rate hike, WTOP reports. 'If granted, the request, made Friday, would add about 6.1 percent to monthly residential electric bills....The proposed $51.7 million increase would take effect in the first quarter of 2010. Pepco says it reflects rising costs, including higher cost of capital, improvements to the electric system, more pension expenses and inflation.'
DMPED shortlists bids on the Hine JHS site in Capitol Hill, Biz Journal's Jonathan O'Connell reports. The big name gone: Tiger Woods, whose charitable foundation had bid on the site. 'Along with the golfer’s foundation, teams led by EYA, Donahoe Development Co. and Amber Real Estate were also eliminated.' Still on the list: Western Development Group, Stanton Development Corp., the Bozzuto Group, Equity Residential, StreetSense Inc. and Quadrangle Development Corp.
BAWDY HOUSE CLEANING—D.C. authorities take aim at alleged prostitution operations in Northwest, find mixed success, Freeman Klopott reports for Examiner. '“These places are very elusive,” Nickles told The Examiner. “We file complaints and either there’s a court resolution or fines, but then they sprout right back up again without us knowing about it.”' The AG has filed suit against Supra Inc., 1333 Connecticut Ave. NW, and Capital Rendezvous Inc., 1333 Green Court NW. Venus, at 2352 Wisconsin Ave. NW, is finally gone.
In WaPo op-ed, Tracy Velazquez of the Justice Policy Institute argues that the civil gang injunctions in the Fenty/Nickles crime bill are a poor approach to policing: '[R]esearch has found that civil injunctions against gangs do not improve public safety and that such policies often unfairly target youth and communities of color.' Better to focus on 'increased street work and gang intervention programs,' which have worked in NYC.
WaPo's Michael E. Ruane covers Sunday's Rolling Thunder rally. 'It was a spectacle of flags and chrome, denim and bandannas, sweaty handshakes and free Bibles, sunburned arms and cigar smoke, and the thick fragrance of engine exhaust fumes.' Also WaTimes, WTOP, NC8, WTTG-TV.
WaPo's Jerry Markon details the precautions taken of late by federal judges and prosecutors fearful of reprisals from criminals. Why? For one thing: 'In the District, two men have pleaded not guilty to charges of vowing to kill a federal prosecutor and kidnap her adult son if she didn't drop a homicide investigation. The judge in the CIA leak case got threatening letters when he ordered Vice President Richard B. Cheney's former chief of staff to prison. A man near Richmond was charged with mailing threats to a prosecutor over three traffic offenses. The face of a federal judge in the District was put in a rifle's cross hairs on the Internet after he issued a controversial environmental ruling, judicial sources said.'
N.C. Aizenman writes up the final days of the Cleveland Park Magruder's for WaPo. '[A]s other businesses in the strip came and went — including a Blockbuster and a Halloween decoration shop that left two storefronts vacant — many residents of the upscale Northwest Washington community came to see Magruder's as a local anchor. They also appreciated the modest scale of the shop, which is far smaller than the chain's seven remaining groceries in Maryland and Virginia. With its blue-and-white tile floor and narrow aisles, the store was reminiscent of the corner markets that dot more urban cities such as New York.' But the landlords raised the rent!
UNEMPLOYMENT—'The District's rate returned to 9.9 percent, the level it reached in February before dipping to 9.8 percent in March,' as declines reverse in neighboring jurisdictions, V. Dion Haynes reports in WaPo. 'District agencies and companies filed notices this year that they intended to lay off 121 people, including 18 at the Department of Parks and Recreation.' Also Biz Journal.
Michael Steele talks to H.D. Woodson students about his D.C. days, getting kicked out of Hopkins.
Robert Wone murder trial date set: May 10, 2010.
Jonetta Rose Barras looks at pro-gay-marriage straw polls held by local Democratic organizations and says 'Don’t believe the hype....Using these votes to lend credibility to the “marriage equality” movement or legitimacy to council action, taken without even a cursory public hearing, is a deliberate and orchestrated effort to mislead the public.' To wit, she says, 'historic and recent polls' indicate that '[t]he majority of African-Americans, including those in the District, hasn’t and still doesn’t support same-sex marriage.' 'The local Democratic Party apparatus and members of the Gertrude Stein Club can distract, misdirect and generally attempt to obfuscate. But they can’t deny those polls’ clear assertion.'
Examiner's Hayley Peterson reports that '[i]f the District moves forward in passing same-sex marriage legislation, the bill will likely include language protecting religious liberty — if precedents in other states apply.' The story does not quote a single District policymaker on the issue. But allow LL to fill in: He's heard David Catania and others commit to just such a provision!
ALSO—Missionary Baptist Ministers Conference, at Memorial Day gathering, calls for citywide gay marriage referendum.
Legal Times on more D.C. gun litigation.
President Barack Obama sends a wreath to the African-American Civil War Memorial on U Street, sidestepping a racial controversy over the traditional laying of the wreath for confederate soldiers and putting a smile on Frank Smith's face.
Kytja Weir in Examiner does a fine job fashioning a 300-word story out of virtually no news at all this holiday weekend. To wit, that in March, according to WMATA data, Metrobuses were more often late at night. 'Morning rush-hour buses were on time 77 percent of the time, while in the evening rush it fell to 69 percent.' And in case you aren't good with numbers: 'That means nearly a third of the evening buses were not on time.' ALSO—Mystery riders find many Metrobus stops to be unsafe, WUSA-TV reports.
About one-quarter of District streets and roads are rated 'poor,' 'very poor,' or 'failed.'
Little sympathy for councilmembers in Nats ticket tussle, if pair of WaPo letters are to be trusted.
DCGOP chair Bob Kabel makes Politico's list of the week's best one-liners: 'Bo Obama would not be happy with this piece of legislation,' he said, regarding the pet waste implications of the Tommy Wells bag bill.
Man found shot to death near 13th and T Streets NW shortly after midnight this morning.
Man dead in early-Monday single-vehicle crash on Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle.
EASY!—GGW's David Alpert goes after WaPo's Tim Craig (or "Tom Craig") for not being sufficiently deferent to his enviro-urbanist perspective re last week's A1 parking enforcement story.
Richard Layman is not happy with Hizzoner's order to tear down a condemned Eckington house.
Phil Pannell to Marion Barry, at last week's Ward 8 Dems SSM vote: 'Don't tell me how you loved us in the past. I feel just like Janet Jackson. What have you done for me lately?' ALSO—Barry namechecked by NYT's Frank Rich in his Sunday column as someone who 'can claim with nominal justification to share the president’s views' on gay marriage.
Pics from the Memorial Day parade. Also, thousands of United House of Prayer for All People congregants paraded Saturday through mid-city neighborhoods, leading one WaPo reader to ask: 'Was any consideration given to the public before the route for Saturday's United House of Prayer for All People's parade was approved?...Parades are fun and all, but only when there is interest from the public. The parade for the United House of Prayer for All People seemed to be popular with the folks who were marching, but I didn't see any spectators along the way.'
WILSON WINS! WILSON WINS!—DCIAA vanquishes Catholic league in inaugural Congressional Bank Softball Classic.
14th Street Bridge construction begins at 10:30 a.m. today.
OFF TOPIC—John Kelly provided Memorial Day's most riveting read, about 'the quietest, saddest room in America.'
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole meeting, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—No public events scheduled.