In Memoriam Desi Deschaine: Loose Lips Daily
Morning all. Here's a question: Would Marion Barry's problems go away if he'd just keep his mouth shut? Consider these intemperate comments to WaPo: 'Barry said in an interview that the people criticizing him don't understand how things work in the District. "You all think it is inappropriate to hire a girlfriend. I don't think it is. In fact, there is no law against it," [he said]. When asked whether he would hire another woman he becomes romantically involved with, Barry said, "Unless the law changes, why not?"' And on the dais yesterday, as the council voted to authorize an independent investigation by superlawyer Bob Bennett, he kept up his jawing against Park Police. Then, after that, Barry called LL to respond to his expose of his nonprofit dealings—a story which Barry responded to in the Post, and which Examiner and WTTG-TV have now picked up. You'll have to read what he said tomorrow. Let's return to his WaPo comments: 'It takes a lot more than this to break my spirit....I have been in wars worse than this.'
AFTER THE JUMP—You will be missed, Desi Deschaine; WMATA reveals bad track circuit still malfunctioning; rapid bus lanes on K Street in two years?; more insane details from the Banita Jacks courtroom; Fenty on Bloomberg and his 'great best practice models for other big city mayors to follow'
Also see Tom Sherwood, on WRC-TV with this revelation: "Neither Gray nor Bennett revealed then that Gray's daughter [Jonice Gray Tucker], a lawyer, had worked several years with Bennett, until March." Gray denies any conflict. Tucker was a Skadden Arps associate for seven years; she's now a partner with BuckleySandler. Legal Times has more on the Bennett investigation.
From Michael Neibauer's nonprofit story: '[F]ormer Councilwoman Carol Schwartz voted against loosening the requirements last year. "I fought a very lonely battle for a very long time, and my very greatest fears are now being realized," Schwartz said.'
Here's Richard Layman on earmarks writ large: 'I think that the way that DC Council funds community organizations is fraught with problems, even if according to the story, the Ward 8 Councilmember takes the problems to new levels....What needed to be done is the creation of a transparent, open and fair system—putting out tenders, and receiving proposals, which are then fairly assessed, and grants, if projects are found worthy, awarded.'
Harry Jaffe uses the Barry concerns to raise larger questions about D.C. Council spending: 'For what is still defined as a part-time job, our elected ward representatives receive a salary of $115,000, and they are entitled to that $700,000 to use as they wish. Add it up and you find that council members have $815,000 at their disposal. For the whole council, the discretionary funds amount to $9.1 million. Who watches over these precious tax dollars?...Short answer: No one accounts for the $700,000. Can you spell slush fund?...Bottom line is there are no rules or regulations, and since there are none to violate, Barry will skate.'
WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson does lengthy Barry sit-down. And AP does the big Barry backstory: 'The [stalking arrest] highlighted divisions among those who still lionize Barry as an enormously successful black politician and residents who say they appreciate his contributions, but it's time for him to step down.'
REST IN PEACE, DESI D—LL's heart was broken yesterday—along with those of many, many others—to hear of the death of Desi Deschaine, the 29-year-old aide to Jack Evans and a beloved friend to many in the John A. Wilson Building, the people he worked with at the D.C. Democratic State Committee, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the Logan Circle Community Association, and on innumerable campaigns, not to mention many other folks. He drowned, apparently accidentally, in a Baltimore Harbor marina after going missing from a boat party on Sunday night. LL remembers him and his constant good cheer here; please share your memories of Desi in the comments. See also coverage in WaPo, Examiner, AP, WTOP, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, DCist, Blade, GGW, Baltimore Sun, WBAL-TV, Bristol Press. His was a life that touched many.
Congressional hearing on Metro turns into, more or less, a three-hour-plus plea for money. But Examiner's Kytja Weir nails the tidbit of news that was made: The faulty track circuit that led to the Red Line crash continues to malfunction, even after replacing key components. James Hohmann and Lena Sun also note in WaPo that John Catoe told the House panel WMATA is moving swiftly to install the safety system recommended Monday by the NTSB. But the bulk of the testimony 'involved Metro's request for $150 million in federal funding in the next fiscal year. The pleas for funding spotlighted Metro's long-standing struggle to secure a steady stream of revenue.' Witnesses included Tom Davis. Also AP, WAMU-FM, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, CNN. And liveblog from The City Fix.
HA—Witness Patrick Tuite, on his way to the hearing, 'rode the Red Line for the first time since he was injured in the line's deadly crash less than one month ago,' Maria Schmitt writes in Examiner. 'He walked in an hour late. "I left home at 12:37 and got here at 2:55," Tuite said during his opening statement. "Please appreciate my frustration."'
AIG and Lloyd's of London among those on the hook for Metro crash costs, Bloomberg reports. 'The costs to the pool of insurers, which also includes Bermuda-based XL Capital Ltd. and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will depend on estimates of medical care, loss of expected lifetime earnings and the degree of negligence by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.'
In other transpo news: MWCOG wants $300M in stimulus money to build a vast network of rapid bus lines, complete with dedicated lanes and special signaling, Ashley Halsey III reports in WaPo. 'At the heart of the system would be a radically restructured K Street between Ninth and 23rd streets NW, an east-west D.C. thoroughfare already thick with bus traffic. Long-standing plans to create a pair of bus-only lanes would be expanded under the proposal...With the ability to pass one another on K Street, the buses could leapfrog when necessary to avoid delay, merging onto dedicated bus lanes that could carry them across the Roosevelt and the 14th Street bridges to new exclusive lanes on interstates 66 and 395 in Virginia.' To get the cash, the whole thing has to be done by 2012. Also Examiner.
SMARTBIKE STIM—'The proposal also seeks federal funding to provide 1,600 bicycles to be made available for public use at 160 bike stations in the District, Alexandria, Arlington County, Silver Spring and Bethesda.'
From the Banita Jacks courtroom: Jacks 'repeatedly told District homicide detectives that demons possessed her daughters but that she was confident that they would return from the dead when the demons died,' Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. That revelation comes from police interview tapes now being played for Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg. 'She described a chaotic life after her live-in boyfriend of seven years, Nathaniel Fogle Jr., died of cancer in February 2007. But then, Fogle appeared to her in a dream and told her that all four girls would be taken from her. "To stop my suffering, Nathaniel took them," she said. "But they would be resurrected."...The weaker the girls got, the weaker the demons got, she said on the tape.' Examiner's Hayley Peterson notes this quote: 'I'm unsure of the demons that possessed the three younger ones, but the older one was Jezebel....Jezebel was a prostitute. She caused suffering, she spread diseases.' Jacks was not in the courtroom. Also AP, WAMU-FM, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Sexual assault less than two blocks from Georgetown campus raises questions about a possible spree, NC8 reports. 'Police now want to know if the crime is connected to at least six other assaults in the same area....[O]ver the last several months, police say there have been at least six other attacks near or on campus. In each case, detectives say a man broke into the students' homes nd inappropriately touched the women as they slept.' That would be the so-called 'Cuddler'—see coverage from Vox Populi and Sexist.
National Journal: 'Murky Road Ahead For D.C. Voting Bill: Efforts To Win A Vote In The House Ended Where They Began: In Gridlock'
At yesterday's council legislative meeting, $208M in convention center hotel financing got the final OK. Writes Jonathan O'Connell in Biz Journal: 'Members of the council say they believe the funding, which will cost the city $272 million in all to finance the debt, will jumpstart the project, which has languished on the market.' Also Examiner, Housing Complex.
Also from O'Connell: Saturday morning citizen hearing set on Poplar Point. 'Mayor Adrian Fenty's economic development team will lay out three possibilities for Poplar, each with separate ideas about density, uses, traffic circulation, community connections and environmental sustainability. "You are going to see three alternatives that are uniquely different," says Michael Durso, project manager for the city. The community's input will then shape planning and the city will produce a draft Environmental Impact Statement, a planning document required for the land transfer, by the end of the year....One thing Durso doesn't plan to bring up is a soccer stadium. That isn't in any of the plans.' The confab's at 9 a.m. at Thurgood Marshall Academy.
Jim Graham's bright idea: Rename the small park at 14th and Girard Streets NW after one Barack Hussein Obama. As Tim Craig writes at D.C. Wire, 'in recognizing Columbia Heights's diversity, Graham stressed that Obama's middle name also would be included in the park's name...."The park is a jewel," Graham said. "I think the overwhelming point of view that has been expressed is that park should be renamed in honor of our president."' D.C. law, unfortunately, does not share that view; public spaces can't be named after a living person. Also Housing Complex.
Council passes Muriel Bowser-introduced vending regulation bill, prompting JAWB protest by vendors, which NC8 covers. They think they'll get kicked out of their longtime spots, but Bowser says 'the measure should actually make it easier for current vendors, who would be grandfathered in and assigned a designated space.'
WAMU-FM's David Klatt covers concerns from homeless advocates that fewer emergency shelter beds will mean more homeless people on the street—and who knows how cops will deal with that? 'Tulin Ozdeger, who also works with the National Law Center, worries how D-C officials may look to manage that overflow...."Sometimes cities will turn to what they consider to be quick fixes—which is using law enforcement to address homelessness," she said. "That is a concern, if the city does not think more progressively about this issue."'
Due to financial shortfalls, city is holding back full quarterly payment to charter schools, Mark Lerner reports at his Examiner blog. Payment in full will come by September.
It's official: Fenty endorses newly term-unlimited Mike Bloomberg. From the press release: 'Since taking office, Mayor Fenty has been an admirer of Mayor Bloomberg's leadership style, going as far as to redesign Washington D.C's Mayor's Office in the same style as Mayor Bloomberg's trademark "bullpen" layout at City Hall in New York City...."Mayor Bloomberg is an exceptional leader whose hard work and dedication has helped transform New York City into a better place to live," said Mayor Fenty. "His hands-on approach and accountability methods have been great best practice models for other big city mayors to follow....His devotion and commitment is admired and respected by many and I believe he will continue to exceed expectations and deliver dramatic results as he seeks a third term as mayor."'
MoCo's dilemma: What to do with cops caught by speeding cameras?
Reuters blogger discovers that D.C. can't levy a commuter tax.
Columbia Heights, Housing Complex notes, is a 'Great Green Place.'
AFT's Randi Weingarten at HuffPo: 'Washington, D.C., public schools just announced significant achievement gains. Yet, many commentators and even superintendents continue to badmouth teachers. Unfortunately, you're still far more likely to hear teachers being blamed for all the shortcomings in education than praised when things go well.'
Examiner blogger on 'how they make good teachers go bad.' Says anonymous teacher: 'For years now the perception has been that, "You know what you're doing. You're doing a good job. Keep up the good work!" But that's not enough for me. Because as I spend year after year in the classroom, I see that my children come in with different needs. With varied levels of motivation. Inclusion. How do I include? Am I doing that? Not really? How do I include my children? Somebody please show me. I want to be evaluated. I want to be observed.'
And here is a 'suggestion for Michelle Rhee: Leave hyperbole behind.' To wit: The 'achievement gap' is not the same as the 'proficiency gap.' Or something like that.
WaPo ed board on White House urban policy: 'Mr. Obama is right to charge his director of urban affairs and his Cabinet with taking "a hard look at how Washington helps or hinders our cities and metro areas—from infrastructure to transportation; from housing to energy; from sustainable development to education."'
Former TV reporter Del Waters on Barry: 'I feel it is necessary to ask, if not beg, my fellow journalists to move on. Not because I think Marion isn't guilty of most of the crimes he is accused of, he is. It is instead because he has become a whipping boy in a system that has far bigger problems.'
You heard the Barry tapes; now hear the Barry mixtape.
Manhole explosion: 600 block of E Street NE at 11:30 a.m. yesterday.
Dan Snyder's local sports-talk hegemony is over: As of July 20, WJFK-FM will be '106.7 The Fan.'
It's again time for Hoopin' in the Hood, down at Barry Farm. Wisdom Martin, no hoops slouch himself, covers for WTTG-TV.
José Andrés is only 40??
Want to be DCPS athletic director?
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—5:30 p.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation hearing on B18-329 ("Child Development Program Act of 2009"), JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—3:30 p.m.: remarks, Park Place ribbon-cutting, 3700 Georgia Ave. NW.