City Desk

Mind the Gaps: Loose Lips Daily

As much local politics as humanly possible. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Remembering Jan Eichhorn"; "Marion Barry on CNN American Morning"

Morning all. Yesterday Mayor Adrian M. Fenty released his plan to close the 2009 and 2010 budget gaps, totaling some $660M. The plan relies fairly heavily on federal stimulus dollars, tapping budget reserves, and cuts: Nearly 200 District employees stand to lose their jobs, bringing the total that will be out of work come Oct. 1 to about 1,300. But there is also some gimmickry at play: Special purpose revenue from parking and other dedicated streams will be converted to general fund revenue. Add to that the fact that rainy day revenue has to be repaid, and the out years stand to be a bloodbath—if Fenty can get Nat Gandhi to certify all his moves. Michael Neibauer covers for Examiner, Nikita Stewart covers for WaPo.

AFTER THE JUMP—How DCPS got its scores up; AHOD is messing with MPD detectives, some allege; D.C. budget passes house—without needle exchange; West End redevelopment, take two; and Kris Baumann is debadged!

NB—Fenty, Vincent Gray, and Jack Evans 'will be in New York today to speak to bond-rating agencies about the city's finances.' Also: There is a new Will Singer—your new chief of budget execution is Merav Bushlin, formerly a top aide to Dan Tangherlini.

WaPo's Bill Turque explains how test strategies helped boost DCPS scores for the second straight year: 'These include intensive test preparation targeted to a narrow group of students on the cusp of proficient, or passing, scores, and "cleaning the rosters" of students ineligible to take the tests — and also likely to pull the numbers down....The initiatives are neither novel nor improper. They've been in the toolboxes of urban school leaders since the inception of the No Child Left Behind Act....Sustaining test score growth will be more challenging for Rhee. Scores in coming years will "absolutely" be based on the District's success in making deeper long-term changes to the quality of classroom learning. Those changes will start showing up next year, she said.'

Jonetta Rose Barras lauds the new test scores: 'The mayor and Rhee conceded that there is still a very long way to go. But the results of their efforts are worth celebrating, especially when evaluated against the craziness with which they had to contend during the past year.' And check this council slam: '[L]egislators have morphed into a local board of education, micromanaging Rhee and her agenda. The chancellor has spent needless hours answering lame inquiries, explaining reports to members too lazy to read the documents or justifying proven academic strategies.'

The man shot dead by police near the Capitol yesterday is ID'd as Kellen Anthony White, 27, of Brandywine, Md. WaPo writes: 'A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing, said White had "a lengthy record" of arrests and was carrying a weapon known as a MAC-11....[The official] said investigators found no record of outstanding warrants for White's arrest. The official also said the Mercedes was not a stolen vehicle. As for why White did not stop for police, the official said he might have been worried that officers would discover the MAC-11 in his car.' WTOP reports that White was on probation. WRC-TV reports he was the father of a newborn. Also WTTG-TV.

Not everyone's on board with All Hands on Deck—and not talking about the officers' union this time. Writes Theola Labbé-DeBose in WaPo: 'The massive police presence, Chief Cathy L. Lanier says, reduces crime, brings police closer to the community and makes residents safer. But...crime victims say the program has an unintended consequence: Some cases aren't getting to detectives in a timely manner, making it less likely that the criminals will be brought to justice....Lanier spokeswoman Traci Hughes said the program has not caused widespread problems for detectives....But some detectives don't see it that way. They say that All Hands assignments interrupt investigations and that investigators often take comp days after working the overtime shifts, further delaying their return to pending cases. An exception is made for homicide detectives, who are exempt from All Hands shifts.'

Police union chief Kris Baumann ordered to turn in his badge, not due to the internal investigation that generated his federal lawsuit, but because he 'failed to complete annual mandatory training,' Freeman Klopott reports in Examiner. Says Peter Nickles, 'It's mandatory training, it's not wishes and desires...The problem with Baumann is he wants to be treated differently. But he's going to be treated like any other officer.' Says Baumann: 'They're coming after me.' Harry Jaffe covers, too.

BAUMANN QUOTE RATING—A-: Call it the paranoid style in D.C. politics. But it's true: Even paranoids have enemies.

Neibauer covers a story, first reported in the Brookland Heartbeat, probing whether Harry Thomas Jr. directed $55K in community benefit funds from a developer to a nonprofit organization called the Ward 5 Business Council. Some funkiness: 'The councilman's senior policy analyst, Victoria Leonard-Chambers, testified before the Zoning Commission on July 17, 2008, in support of the EYA project. But at no point did Leonard-Chambers disclose that she is an incorporator of — and serves on the board of — the business council, according to the meeting's transcript.' OCF is reportedly investigating.

WaTimes scoop: '[P]olice say they have no information that would indicate any gun legally registered since July 17, 2008, has been fired by its owner in defense of life or property, or that one has been stolen or used in the commission of a crime....Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said the fears of gun-control advocates — that having more guns would lead to increased gun violence — were unfounded. "All the handgun bill people's predictions have proved to be wrong," Mr. LaPierre said.'

The D.C. budget passes the House, but WaPo's Daryl Fears follows up on the potential reimposition of a congressional needle exchange rider, thanks to Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.): 'The threat to limit the District's needle exchange program comes only two years after Congress lifted a ban against the practice in June 2007....The city has devoted $700,000 in the past year to four non-profit organizations with needle exchange programs: PreventionWorks!, Bread for the City, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive and the Family Medical and Counseling Service.' the Senate hasn't put it on yet.

The new plan for charter schools: quality over quantity, Leah Fabel reports in Examiner. 'Having attracted enough students to earn their place on the city's educational landscape, members of the D.C. Public Charter School Board said they have been able to step back and focus on quality. The group skipped a new school application process during the past year to instead create a new framework for measuring existing schools' success...."Expanding the number of charters is not as important right now as quality and capacity," said Josephine Baker, executive director of the board.'

ALSO—WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV cover charter payment problems.

WEST END PART II—Mayor's office gives redevelopment of West End library another shot after protests foiled Eastbanc deal. As Jonathan O'Connell writes in Biz Journal, 'Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos said the city was open to multiple uses for the property so long as the bidders have the financial wherewithal to follow through....This time around, the mayor’s team appeared to have garnered major community support ahead of time. Members of local citizens groups, advisory neighborhood commissions and the D.C. Library system joined him at the announcement.' See Housing Complex, too.

NTSB investigators call reps from equipment manufacturer Union Switch & Signal/Ansaldo STS—makers of the infamous Wee-Z bond—to the Red Line crash site, fouling travel. Why? Reports Kytja Weir in Examiner: 'They are grappling with a persistent problem: Part of the automatic train alerting system that appears to have failed to register the stopped train continues to show problems even when new equipment is used. The device removed just five days before the crash as part of routine maintenance doesn't fix the problem, either.' And WaPo covers WMATA's search for a NTSB-mandated signal backup system, saying 'officials have met with more than two dozen firms to discuss possible options but declined to identify them.' The paper has identified one credible inventor who says he has 'a simple solution that is not likely to cost very much.' Meanwhile, Metro source tells WTOP that NTSB needs to communicate with them better. Also NC8 on incident at Takoma station, WTTG-TV, WUSA-TV.

This is what Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said during recent D.C. budget debate, in response to a question about D.C.'s high abortion rate: 'It is a fact that a disproportionately large number of African-Americans seek abortion in America, not just in the District of Columbia, but all across the nation....[I]t's also a fact that a disproportionately large number of African-Americans live in the District of Columbia.' That gave the likes of Harry Jackson the opportunity to spout off to Examiner's Leah Fabel. 'It's one of the most racially insensitive things I've heard in a long time,' said Jackson. 'It makes me wonder if he would be more concerned if it were white or Hispanic babies being terminated.'

JACKS TRIAL—According to Keith Alexander in WaPo, 'Banita Jacks broke into tears during her trial in D.C. Superior Court yesterday, the first emotional outburst she has had in more than a dozen court appearances since her arrest last year on charges of murdering her four daughters.' The tears came while her mother was on the stand, and was asked to identify the children in photos. 'Yesterday, the girls' grandmothers and other family members who were called as witnesses described Banita as a caring, attentive mother who became distant after her live-in boyfriend, Nathaniel Fogle Jr., died in February 2007 after a long battle with cancer.' Also Examiner, AP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.

In a move that's inflamed gay activists, Robert Hannah, the 18-year-old originally charged in last September's murder of Tony Hunter near Shaw's BeBar, has pleaded to a misdemeanor and will likely avoid serious jail time. NC8 reports: 'Community activist Keith Jarrell believes Thursday's indictment sends an alarming message that violence against the gay and lesbian community is accepted. "The city has turned [its] back on the gay community in many aspects," he said. Bill Gray, the new owner of the bar, says he's now afraid his customers are being targeted. "We have beefed up security. We have undercover security walking around the block constantly when we're open," he said.'

NC8: 'Police are issuing a warning to D.C. pet owners because of a new crime trend involving petnapping. Authorities say the crimes usually begin with a dog or cat disappearing. Then days later, someone contacts the owner saying they found the pet. Their ultimate goal, police say, is extorting money from the owner.'

Harvard Business Review looks at the Capital Gains program: '[S]chools aren't companies, you might be thinking–and you'd be right. Since they have different missions, they should also have different values and reward systems. That's my gut-level reaction, too....Still, there's this nagging thought that I can't shake: Schools cultivate companies' future employees, and to the extent that they're failing to do so, the talent pool will suffer. Kids who don't see themselves as college material or as skilled citizens won't care much about grades and test scores and positive reports from teachers. They might not even see value in learning to read for personal enrichment. However, when they earn money, they scratch an immediate itch–and then, suddenly, there's proof that they can perform.' D.C. Teacher Chic reacts.

Thousands pack federal job fair at National Building Museum.

EHN comments that '[i]f she were Mexican, she "would have been very, very angry at the Big Kahuna in the north"' irks conservative think-tanksters.

Honored last night at the 5th and K Busboys & Poets by the Washington Real Estate Brokers Association: Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, and Yvette Alexander. 'Why the two Browns and Alexander? Have they gone to great lengths for real estate brokers? No, organizer Dev Hillman, of Bradford Real Estate Real Group, said he had worked and volunteered for Michael Brown and Alexander in the past and included Kwame Brown because of his post as chair of the economic development committee. "The fact that Kwame has more control over real estate deals, that's why we invited him," he said.'

Desi Deschaine's funeral arrangements announced: A wake will be held on Sunday at O'Brien Funeral Home, 24 Lincoln Avenue, Forestville Conn., from 4 to 7 p.m. A funeral will begin at the home the following morning at 9 a.m., with a 10 a.m. Mass to follow at St. Matthew's Church, 120 Church St., also in Forestville. Flowers can be sent to the funeral home. And newly established: The Deschaine Foundation for Excellence in Government, by Craig Max IV, friend of Desi.

D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute endorses Michael Brown-sponsored bill that 'would require developers to show why a tax subsidy from the city is needed – and what they’ll offer as community benefits in return....The Exemptions and Abatements Approval Requirements Act of 2009...proposes several new rules before a project could receive a tax abatement.'

World Mag: 'Demographic and cultural changes in the capital mean an uphill battle for traditional marriage advocates.'

Blogger rises in praise of the Practices of Medicine and Naturopathic Medicine Amendment Act of 2009: 'Nice job DC Council! Thank you for stripping these quacks of governmental imprimatur and the trappings of authenticity. Citizens who have been fooled into believing these treatments are effective will hopefully think twice about putting their hands into such unscientific techniques, and instead seek treatment from licensed practitioners working with hard evidence.'

City looks into redevelopment of Georgetown's Hurt Home—the former home for the blind on a tony block of R Street NW across from Dumbarton Oaks. 'Proposals are due August 21 with a final selection scheduled for October. It goes without saying that D.C. is looking for proposals that minimize the use of public subsidies. The RFEI encourages applicants to, "identify alternative, non-District sources of funding that could be used to fill any funding gaps."'

CareFirst working with council on expanding open enrollment.

Biz Journal: Pepco seeks stim funding for 'smart grid' tech in District. How Miriam's Kitchen uses Twitter. And Skadden Arps likely to stay put in current offices rather than anchor new development.

New York Dems not impressed by Fenty's Michael Bloomberg endorsement. Those Dems include a former Fenty roommate.

DDOT makes big changes at 15th and W Streets NW, site of recent pedestrian death.

A historical look at 14th and T Streets NW, from GGW.

DAYBOOK—LL will appear on WTOP's Politics Program with Mark Plotkin at 10 a.m. to discuss Marion Barry's earmarks and contracts; WAMU-FM's Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi will feature Peter Nickles on 'fresh questions about ethics and earmarks.'

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Human Services roundtable on 'shelter capacity for those who are homeless,' JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—No public events scheduled.

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Comments

  1. Angry Al Gonzales
    #1

    Tell me again how it makes sense for Fenty & the council to have luxury boxes at Nats Park & the Verizon Center while they cut programs & jobs? Please, I'd like to hear a rational defense of such corruption.

    Selling the boxes would bring in revenue. Letting Fenty & the council keep the boxes makes no sense. It made no sense in good times, & it certainly makes no sense in bad times.

    NYC forced Mayor Bloomberg to sell the city's luxury boxes. NYC also convicted a corrupt city councilman who was stealing public money using phony non-profits, just like Barry.

    I know - NYC is a real city, while DC is just a plantation.

  2. #2

    Angry Al, the best defense I've ever heard of those perks is that the city can take executives of retail companies to a ball game and ply them with shrimp and alcohol cocktails until they agree to open a store in DC in exchange for a drink refill.

    The idea has some initial plausibility -- anyone who has ever dealt with a corporate executive knows that they value their free drinks and snacks far more than the long-term interests of the company they work for -- but in the final analysis I don't buy it. Let's get rid of the luxury boxes.

  3. #3

    As someone who uses luxury boxes for such purposes, it is highly effective. However, I do not believe many of current members of the Council or the Mayor have the ability to be successful in this type of endeavor. DC needs new professional leadership, to take us in the right direction.

  4. #4

    Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) comment about the fact that "a disproportionately large number of African-Americans live in the District of Columbia" may have some merit, if AFRICAN-AMERICANs were spread out proportionately throughout the US. However, as most of us know, that ain't gonna happen, not even in his home state of Illinois. Outside of the Chicago, Springfield, East St. Louis, and those heavily around Division I Basketball towns, you won't find even the 13% that would make things proportional. Still, what makes his statements sound racist, is that indirectly he is saying there are too many Black folk in DC, and that number is increasing the abortion rates. If African-American abortion numbers were low, would he still think that there is a disproportionate amount of African-Americans in DC? I wonder how former Chicago resident now living in Washington, DC Barack Obama feels about this? Clearly, Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and Mrs. Robinson are only increasing that statisic.

    As far as the Sky Boxes (how did this even become part of today's LL Daily?), much like Tom mentions, I doubt if they are used effectively. Selling the boxes makes sense, but the Council nor Mayor DIDN'T PAY FOR THEM to start. The boxes are alloted to the politicians for preferential treatment and are, for all intents and purposes, a payoff. Selling these "gifts" won't generate a large return of investment and won't even scratch the surface of the deficit we have. True, if allowed to sell they could pay for the salaries of a few teachers, but honestly, the boxes are just nickels in the bucket. If anything, they should KEEP the boxes, hold a lottery, and randomly select DC Citizens to attend the games. Heck, we PAID for them, why not use them.

    Finally, I read the Capital Gains report and I must say I'm a little insulted that Rhee and a Harvard Business Professor want to turn DC Middle School kids into little money-hungry capitalists under the mask of education. Soon kids won't study to learn, they will be little academic prostitutes doing it for the money. If Rhee truly wants to know about academic motivation without monetary incentives, look outside of the U.S. China and India in particular do not PAY their kids to learn or reward them for high academic achievement...at least monetarily. Granted, those environments can be highly competitive and less tolerant of failure, but there are still things to garner from it. Money is a bad motivator, especially in a repressed economy. If the Capital Gains program is subject to cost cuts, does that mean that the kids will stop studying?

    Other interesting facts from the article: "We won't know until we see some more numbers whether paying students for performance works...improvements in middle and high schools were more modest than those in elementary schools--and it was a subset of the marginally improved middle school kids who received money for their efforts."

    Basically what that says is that sustained academic achievement starts early. Motivate kids in elementary school and they will continue throughout their grade school years.

    One more from the article for you, "Is the program worth its $2.7 million price tag (half of which taxpayers cover)?"

    So we tax payers pay $1.35 to support this program? Couldn't that impact the DCPS budget shortfall, recruit teachers, buy supplies, etc. I'd pick any of those over a "modest" improvement in middle- and high school test scores, for any of those three have a better way of impacting ALL students as a whole.

    When I graduated from a DCPS High School, because I was in the Top 10% of my class, I got a stipend to use for college. It helped defer costs, but had I not got it, I still would have studied, went to college, and not saw the stipend as an entitlement. See, kids today need to know that what you learn now will undoubtedly impact your trajectory for the future. Knowledge is more valuable than money. While they can take your MONEY away, via taxes, unemployment, etc. They cannot take your knowledge away.

  5. #5
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