City Desk

Government by Press Conference: 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—'Leo Alexander Joins 2010 Mayoral Fray'

Morning all. Count this among the hazards of governing by press conference: Announcing a press conference before you have fully grasped the dimensions of the problem to which you are announcing a solution may result in an embarrassing WaPo article, such as this one by Nikita Stewart. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's office on Friday announced the Monday morning shutdown of the King Solomon Grand Masonic Lodge in Woodridge, only to cancel the affair less than an hour beforehand. Lodge bigwigs say they were not informed of the shuttering and that 'an overzealous Fenty, anxious to please a voting base in Ward 5, might have acted too quickly' to close the hall, which hosts weekend go-gos. The lodge has agreed to halt the shows, and the press conference, natch, has been rescheduled.

AFTER THE JUMP—Cops bring guns to knife fight; violent crime not down in 2008, says FBI; a DCPS teacher RIF might be coming; Leo Alexander is in the mayoral race; and Michael Kelly is out at DCHA.

7D officers shoot man to death on the 1700 block of Trenton Place SE after he brandished 'several knives' and 'did not drop them when warned by the officers,' according to WaPo. 'The shooting took place outside the Garden Village Apartments, part of a block-long complex of brick buildings ringed by oak trees off Alabama Avenue SE. Children in school uniforms, walking home from school, saw the police tape and police cars and asked neighbors what happened.' NC8 ID's the dead man as Robert McFaulin, 50. This is the year's 13th police shooting, compared to nine a year ago.

DUELING NARRATIVES—Cop version: 'There were commands given for the man to drop the knives, somehow he approached the officers and he was shot'; witness version: 'He's standing in the middle of the street with his arms out like this....When the young lady comes from behind him, I said, 'Oh, she got him.' I think that she going to contain him. When his sister came out, told him to drop the knives, that's when he dropped the knives and that's when he got shot, gunned down. And then the lady shot her gun twice.' A good trial lawyer, LL is sure, will help suss this all out!

The Metropolitan Police Department holds that violent crime went down in 2008; and yet FBI numbers hold that violent crime in fact went up in 2008—2.3 percent, to be precise. What gives? Examiner's Scott McCabe explains that District and FBI systems 'classify certain crimes differently, police said. Under the D.C. Code, a punch is considered a simple assault; under the FBI's definition, it's considered an aggravated assault, or a violent crime.' It could be, as union chief Kris Baumann alleges, 'play[ing] with crime numbers to give residents the impression that the city was safer than it really was.' In any case, what took the MPD so long to report the FBI figures?

Michael Kelly is out after nine years as D.C. Housing Authority executive director. Comes as no surprise, Stewart points out at D.C. Wire: 'Privately, housing officials said that the board was under increasing pressure by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to push out Kelly....Privately, board members and others have discussed the possibility that Fenty may promote one his own to replace Kelly. David Jannarone, director of development in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, is said to be a candidate.' Does DCHA have any surplus fire trucks? Also Biz Journal.

KELLY STATEMENT—'I am proud of my work here and of the entire DCHA team. We have a robust list of accomplishments that span our multiple identities as a property manager, real estate developer, service provider, and business partner. Our hard work and dedication branded DCHA into a smart, caring, innovative organization. I am appreciative of the extraordinary partnerships I was able to develop, and look forward to watching DCHA thrive in the future.'

We're 364 days until the 2010 primary election. Do we have a real mayoral race yet? Depends what you make of Leo Alexander, a former WRC-TV reporter and District communications executive itching to take on Fenty with a populist agenda. WTTG-TV covers his campaign kickoff at the Channel Inn.

The DCPS teaching corps stands to be RIF'd come Oct. 1, Candi Peterson reports at Washington Teacher. (Peterson's information has been good enough to date that LL will no longer put a question mark after reporting her claims.) 'Teachers who are working as co-teachers and not officially on their local school budget, teachers working as gifts to the school and teachers working outside of their area of certification are likely to be the first to be let go.' Which would be a smart end-around to ousting bad teachers within the confines of the union contract: Curtail seniority rights (done), hire a bunch of new teachers (done), let the principals pick the ones they want (done); RIF the leftovers (hmm).

No more car inspections! No more car inspections! What's not to like? Well, for one, federally mandated emissions inspections will continue. Bah. That, and, Tim Craig reports in WaPo, 'some people...worry that area roads will soon be flooded with unsafe cars that could cause more accidents.' Add in anonymous inspection mechanics who say that inspection 'is a process that protects everybody' and a smattering of statistics. Bah humbug. Go Fenty!

In a lengthy WaPo piece, Henri Cauvin examines extending District guardianship subsidies to age 21. The subsidy, equal to the foster care subsidy, currently goes only to 18, 'hamper[ing] the city's efforts to move children out of foster care, especially older children, whose best hope might be a relative willing to become a guardian.' In the District, 'almost 500 guardians are raising almost 800 D.C. children, many of whom might have otherwise remained in foster care. Now, child welfare advocates say, the time has come for the District to again take the lead and extend the subsidies for guardianships and adoptions until those children reach 21 as well.' Tommy Wells says legislation is coming this fall.

A DCPS report, unsurprisingly, backs up the conventional wisdom on this year's first day of school: It went pretty darn smoothly! Bill Turque reports at WaPo: 'There were no major scheduling snafus and just a smattering of teacher vacancies when classes began on Aug. 24. Most of the schools that had undergone summer renovation and construction were good to go. All but two (Hart Middle and Miner Elementary) had their kitchens and cafeterias up and running.' That doesn't count special-ed transpo, which was a mess and which DCPS doesn't run.

Metro employee John Moore, 44, died yesterday of injuries sustained when he was hit by a train Thursday on the Yellow/Blue Line. Moore, a communications technician, is the third WMATA employee to die since the Red Line crash in June. WaPo reports: 'In Thursday's accident, Metro said a preliminary investigation indicated that Moore had walked down a staircase in a vent shaft in an underground section of the track between the two stations. He opened a door that offered access to the area of the track bed where trains operate and was struck, according to a statement Metro released late Monday.'

WTTG-TV's Stacy Cohan profiles 'Mr. Charles,' a gentleman who has sold candy and dry goods out of his truck in the parking lot of a Parkside apartment complex for 35 years. He was caught in the middle of a gun battle Sunday evening.

Wheelchair-bound man is said to have shot woman in the foot yesterday afternoon on the 1200 block of H Street NE, 'before fleeing in the chair.' The shooter, 'described as being in his early 20s, did not say anything before shooting the unidentified 47-year-old woman,' AP reports.

Ricardo A. Cuaderes, 57, a teacher at Young America Works Public Charter School, is sentenced to 18 months by a Howard County judge after pleading guilty to sexually abusing student. Also WaPo.

Fight in Walter Pierce Park in Adams Morgan ends in stabbing, WTTG-TV reports.

WRC-TV, WTTG-TV follow up on the Saturday shooting death of 16-year-old Antonio Ward.

WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson covers the last-ditch lawsuit to keep the SETLC in Cora Masters Barry's hands. Cora herself does not appear on camera, but Sandra 'S.S.' Seegars does, saying a DPR takeover would leave the center 'dirty, dingy, and the children unruly.'

Meanwhile, kids stump for CMB at city hall, Stewart reports at D.C. Wire: 'A half-dozen students went to the John A. Wilson Building after school to find Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in hopes of giving him a petition with 675 signatures to stop the committee's eviction...."We have a personal experience with Ms. Barry," said Christian Tarver, 14. "She will stop you: 'Is that gum? Spit it out.'"' They had no better luck than Dorothy Height had: Fenty wasn't in.

Lawyer Ronnie Thaxton has his law license suspended six months by the D.C. Court of Appeals, Bill Myers reports in Examiner, after admitting to taking $5K from client's escrow account and other violations. 'Thaxton declined to talk about the sanctions Monday. "Why are you calling" he asked. "This is newsworthy?"' Sorry, wrong answer.

Modern technology, post-9/11 security, and the recession conspire to kill off bike messengers, Steve Hendrix reports in WaPo. 'In their heyday, bike couriers reigned as a kind of sweat-soaked office avenger, helping secretaries avoid deadline catastrophes, facilitating billion-dollar contract negotiations and helping prescription refills and forgotten eyeglasses catch up with their VIP owners....Now, as the last of the area's courts and agencies begin to allow electronic filings instead of demanding piles of paper, deadline dramas in many law offices are being reduced to little more than hitting the "send" button. The courier business — for decades a quirky by-product of Washington's No. 1 industry, paper-pushing — finds itself in rapid decline....The number of full-time couriers in Washington has fallen from a high of about 400 in the 1990s to about 150.' LL ASKS—Will this also mean the end of the WaPo bike messenger story?

Examiner covers the Yvette Alexander blunt bill. Did you know there's a group called Cigar Rights of America?

DCist's Martin Austermuhle rounds up local pundits' takes on gay marriage.

OCTO data feeds are finalist for Harvard Innovation in American Government Award.

New Web site for Public Charter School Board! Lots of smiling kids!

Mike Neibauer 3-minute interviews the PoP.

Brookings study, via WBJ: 'D.C. and Austin and McAllen in Texas are the only three metro areas that showed signs of full recovery in economic output, but not yet in unemployment.'

Will Circulator service to north Georgetown be truncated?

EHN to Politico: 'I would not make Joe Wilson the martyr he is not.'

The Washington Monument elevator broke!

TONIGHT—Health Care Town Hall with Eleanor Holmes Norton, 6 p.m. at Commerce Department HQ, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 'Like her job fair, small business fair, and all other Norton events, the health care forum is a service to D.C. residents only and, as usual, residents are asked to bring proof of residency, e.g. driver’s license, non-driver’s I.D., voter registration card, pay stub, or utility bill.'

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—No events scheduled.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10 a.m.: remarks, Hine JHS development update, 335 8th St. SE; 11 a.m.: remarks, Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff, D.C. Historical Society, 801 K St. NW; 3:30 p.m.: remarks, Murch ES playground ribbon-cutting, 4810 36th St. NW; 8 p.m.: remarks, Greater Washington Sports Alliance SneakerBall gala, National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW.

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  • Downtown Rez

    "The lodge on Rhode Island Avenue NE has come under fire from neighbors who say events there have led to disturbances and violence. "
    ...
    "On Friday nights, however, when lodge members hand the building over to party promoters, the building bumps with go-go music and the crowd spills out onto the sidewalk, according to city officials.
    During the summer, police had to increase patrols on Friday nights. "
    ...
    "Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said the parties were the source of the disturbances, despite McGill's claims. "They were in the neighborhoods having fights after the events," he said. "They were serving alcohol."
    ...
    "Leaders of the lodge said they would cease renting out the building for special events until they can review a leasing policy, a move prompted by Fenty's actions. "

    All's well that ends well.

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  • Q

    LL, I can't believe the undercutting opinion you gave regarding the cessation of the "Safety Inspections". To save $400k, Fenty is basically telling inspectors to "look the other way" on vehicular problems. This is equivalent to shooting oneself in the foot twice.

    First, is obviously the safety issue. Yes, MD doesn't care if you drive a 1960 jalopy on the streets as long as it's registered. Who cares if it's belching smoke, balled tires, turn signals don't work, etc. Just make sure they pay their registration and they're done. DC and VA on the other hand were a few states/territories that were concerned that any vehicle registered in their jurisdiction was safe and operable to drive.

    Because of such, law enforcement as well as DMV officers paid special attention to "dead" or provisional inspection stickers. Ironically, ticketing vehicles with "dead" inspection stickers were a winfall for the city. Not only that, but the process wasn't all that laborious. The inspection process was actually efficient!!! DC and efficient in the same sentence?!?

    Secondly, and more obviously, this is an attempt to reduce DMV related city services. An immediate cost savings for sure, but no one knows the long term effects. While the convenience of renewals on the Internet is good for some, not all share in access to the computers or ability to use them. Add to that the reduction of Public Library hours (which have the only free publically accessible computers), and you have a potential storm brewing.

    It is true that nobody likes the inconvenience, long lines, etc. of having to go for inspection. However, it is also true that for all its headaches, there was a satisfaction in knowing that DC DMV cared about the condition of my car, for my sake and that of its occupants.

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