‘Politics At Its Worst': Loose Lips Daily
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Peter Nickles: I Will Not Call You Back," "Video: Is Cleveland Park Dead?" and "The Pershing Park Case: Did A District Official Commit Perjury?"
Morning all. A big thanks to the local politico reporters and Wilson Building staffers who a) Jokingly thought I had become LL; b) Wished me luck in compiling the must-read briefing on local politics; and c) failed to mention the "resident" controversy from yesterday. A few local heavyweights inquired about LL's bike ride to Dewey Beach and wondered if he had made it to the Rusty Rudder safely. I reached LL via e-mail. Here is what he wrote about his trek:
"Uh, well, we left gonzaga HS at 4:30 a.m. then took back roads to just across the severn river in annapolis where we were bused across the bay bridge to where 50 meets 404. it started out looking like it was going to be cloudy and rain all day, but by the time we crossed the bridge the clouds were gone and the sun was shining. so it was really hot. the route kinda sucked. its exactly the same as driving; we rode on the shoulder of these roads the whole time, trucks whizzing pasy, chickenshit in the air, no real scenery of note. but it was for a good cause–autism research–and it was pretty well run, lots of rest stops with powerbars and water and bananas and all that stuff. The first leg I did pretty fast, finishing 35 mi in about two and a half hours. the second leg was somewhat slower—five and a half hours to do 65 mi to Bethany Beach–but i was among the first half of finishers (at 2:15 p.m.) on my junky old bike. so yeah, it was good."
Now on to the news: Councilmember Phil Mendelson has joined colleague Councilmember Mary Cheh in calling for AG Peter Nickles to resign. Cheh spoke out to City Desk last Friday. So what has provoked the councilmembers? The OAG's conduct in a Pershing Park lawsuit in which police evidence has gone missing and/or has been destroyed, among other discovery problems. The U.S. District Court judge in the case has promised painful sanctions, has called on the D.C. Council to investigate the matter, and ordered Nickles to provide a sworn statement explaining his office's conduct. The Examiner's Bill Myers gets Mendo on the record calling for Nickles to go. Nickles offers his usual bulldog-with-rabies react: "It's politics at its worst. They have no idea what's going on." What's going on is available via transcript. News Channel 8's Bruce DePuyt has Cheh and Nickles on the Pershing Park issue. Nickles says he is "troubled" by the missing evidence, and will follow the law. Cheh stands by her comments and says D.C. needs a new attorney general.
LEAD TROUBLES: WaPo is reporting that House investigators have found many more children than previously reported had high levels of lead in their blood during the drinking water crisis from a few years ago. Key graphs: "Local officials could not say Monday whether some children with unsafe lead exposure have gone without intervention to reduce their health risks. The CDC and city health department had reported dangerously high lead levels in 193 children in 2003, the worst year for high concentrations of lead in city tap water. But lab data gathered by congressional investigators this year show that the actual number was 486 children."
AFTER THE JUMP: More public transpo issues, D.C. Police are getting some federal dough, Legal Seafood is fighting to stay inside National Reagan National Airport, WaPo stands up for press freedoms(!) and much, much more.
PUBLIC TRANSPO continues its stretch of bad press. Last night a man was stabbed at Union Station, News Channel 8 reports. It is unclear whether the man was stabbed on a train or on a platform. The man was taken to an area hospital. A female suspect was taken into custody. (Also reporting: WTOP). During rush hour, doors opened on a moving Metro train. Scary. WaPo reports that the incident occurred on an Orange Line train. No injuries were reported and the train was promptly taken out of service. Key graph: "A passenger, who requested anonymity because he is restricted from speaking to the media in his job as a House aide, said that the left panel in the middle door of a middle car came open and that the door closed as soon as the operator hit the brakes."
WJLA is reporting that 27 bus shelters have been busted recently. A DDOT source speculates that this appears to be the work of one person: "Metropolitan police will be handling the investigation. They say the damaged bus shelters are located across the city from Upper Northwest across the Potomac and into Southeast. Clear Channel, the company that began installing the shelters two years ago, said the first damage reports started coming in Sunday and then Monday the number of vandalized shelters passed the two dozen mark."
D.C. cops are getting a bit boost from the feds. Police coffers will see an increase of $12 million from a federal grant. The money will be used to hire an additional 50 officers. News Channel 8 reports this may not necessarily boost the rank and file's numbers: "At the same time the department is getting more officers, the D.C. Council passed a budget calling for a hiring freeze in the department. Over time, it will result in less officers all together. 'Whatever number we ended up at, we're now 50 more than that and that's great news,' said Fenty." NBC4 has a brief on the boost.
An Inspector General's audit has found that the District's financial office has failed to collect $750,000 in motor fuel taxes during the past couple years, the Examiner's Michael Neibauer reports. The news is kinda ironic: "The Office of the Inspector General 'identified uncollected motor fuel tax revenues of about $733,000 for six years,' said the audit, dated July 26. The District's Office of Tax and Revenue, auditors reported, 'has not been aggressively pursuing potential revenues,' as it never followed up with motor fuel importers who didn't pay. The audit was issued July 26, five days before the council voted to increase the gasoline tax from 20 cents to 23.5 cents per gallon."
WaPo is reporting that Legal Seafoods is seeking a court order to stop airport officials from kicking them out of Reagan National Airport's choice Terminal C locale. The chain says it's being pushed out to make way for a steakhouse. Nerdy highlight: "Owner Roger Berkowitz says the problems started last year during lease negotiations with officials from Westfield Concessions Management, the Los Angeles-based company that oversees retail stores and restaurants at National and at Dulles International Airport. He said Westfield encouraged the seafood chain to spend $2.3 million to expand, primarily by taking over the space of a bookstore next door. Berkowitz said he agreed to make the changes but insisted that the seafood chain pocket any construction savings. At the time, he said, construction costs were plummeting due to the weak economy." Of course, there's more.
Gov. Tim Kaine has told families of the Virgina Tech massacre victims that he will not reconvene his investigatory panel. The families had urged him to re-investigate the shootings in light of the shooter's mental health records being found. WaPo reports that more than 60 families and victims had signed a letter urging Kaine to bring the panel back. Key graphs:
"In an e-mail to families sent about noon Monday, Mark Rubin, the governor's counselor, ruled out reconvening the panel.
'While we would not rule out inviting willing members of the Panel to review proposed revisions to the report, we are sensitive that there are families who expressly do not want to reconvene the Panel,' he wrote. 'Our hope is that the current process for revisions will satisfy the need for a thorough report without upsetting families like your own any further.'
But Rubin added that Kaine will accept any factual corrections families wish to make to the report until Aug. 19."
PEGGY COOPER CAFRITZ—one of the District's most impressive politicos—talks about last week's fire that destroyed her home. She tells FOX5: "We'll always find the light, you know. We went through an exercise of looking through the plural of 'phoenix' and we found it, and it's 'phoenixes' and as I told others, that's exactly who my children and I are and will be." WUSA's Bruce Johnson had the exclusive first interview and some news on the fire: "Sources tell 9NEWS NOW that WASA had four reports of low water pressure in the area in the past year. At least two hydrants are clearly marked out of service." Let's hear it for "sources" whoever they are!
WaPo Editorial Board slams the D.C. Council's penchant for closed-door meetings. A must read for....fans of Sherwood, Segraves and any another local reporter who has pounded on those closed doors. Key graph: "THE D.C. COUNCIL was able to shut the public out of its recent budget deliberations because supposedly, it wasn't really taking action. Never mind that all the big decisions were being made behind those closed doors. That such an outrage could occur is the latest example of why the District is viewed as having one of the most worthless open-meetings laws in the country and why that law needs to be changed."
10:45 a.m. Remarks
Demolition at Gage Eckington Elementary School
Location: Site of Former Gage Eckington Elementary School
2025 3rd Street, NW
4:00 p.m. Remarks
Petworth Recreation Center Ribbon Cutting
Location: 801 Taylor Street, NW
7:30 p.m. Remarks
79th Grand Chapter Meeting of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc.
Location: Marriot Wardam Park Hotel
2660 Woodley Road, NW