Jay Mathews Feels Your Pain: Loose Lips Daily
IN LL WEEKLY—Red Scare: Is the District government running a haven for Republican refugees? Plus: Ron Moten calls Yvette Alexander 'trash'; Jacque Patterson takes over Ward 8 Dems; and still no answers on mayor's school choice.
Morning all. Yesterday, WaPo education columnist Jay Mathews wrote a blog post coyly asking DCPS teachers to drop a dime if they knew anything about the possible DC-CAS cheating his paper has faithfully reported on. Not only does he lavish his empathetic talents on possible whistleblowers, but also on Chancellor Michelle Rhee's decision not to deeply investigate the allegations: 'I can understand why Rhee shrunk from a deeper investigation of possible cheating in 2008,' he wrote. 'She has many other issues on her plate, her staff is overworked, and checking into test cheating takes a particular kind of talent that is not very common.' His channeling of chancelloric motivations earned Mathews a call from Rhee, explaining that she didn't get sufficient information from the State Superintendent's office to justify a probe. (SSE Kerri Briggs also chimed in with confirmation.) LL will simply point out that Mathews is not only reporter around here who can empathize. So, yes, if you're a teacher with any knowledge of malfeasance, e-mail LL or call him at (202) 332-2100 x244. Discretion guaranteed!
AFTER THE JUMP—WaPo puts John Catoe on A1; Jonetta calls the council a bunch of wusses; Evans still not happy about Stevens ES developer pick; DISB to take independent look at CareFirst reserves; another opening on the federal bench; and is Marion Barry a 'lovable rogue' cad, or just a cad?
On WaPo A1, Lena Sun profiles Metro GM John Catoe, who is going through 'the test of his life' (as Jim Graham puts it). He is in line to have his contract renewed, and he maintains the support of those who matter—though Sun says the fact that he will not be replaced 'says as much about the history of the position, the funding issues and the difficulty in finding a replacement as it does about Catoe.' Yet, the 'pressure is evident in Catoe's demeanor and tone. In public appearances, he has often seemed frustrated and tired. At board meetings before the crash, he would mingle and make small talk with reporters; he is more guarded now. At the bus garage groundbreaking, he became emotional while addressing the supportive crowd. He acknowledged Metro's "troubled times" and said, his voice rising, "I want to tell you that we're building the bridge over troubled waters."'
CATOE'S BACKGROUND—'Catoe has a long record of navigating difficulties. He grew up in public housing complexes in the District and, after graduating from Spingarn High, worked as a parking attendant and mail sorter and in other low-level jobs, receiving a college degree after nine years. His father drove a cab for 35 years and had nine children. His mother was a longtime cook in the executive dining room of the late Katharine Graham, former chairman of the board of The Washington Post Co....His public transportation career began in 1979 by happenstance. While on vacation on Catalina Island in California, he broke a leg falling off a motorcycle. He wound up with a job in personnel at the Orange County Transit District and worked his way up to operations director after 17 years. He later headed transit services for Santa Monica, before moving to Los Angeles.'
Jonetta Rose Barras writes that despite threats, the D.C. Council is 'unlikely to take legal action against' Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has to date disregarded legislation privatizing city child-care programs. Why? Says one anonymous member of his/her colleagues, 'They are intimidated.' Barras says legislators need to man up: 'Fainthearted is a perpetual state of being for the legislature....The council is too afraid to fight a mayor blatantly flouting local laws. And, it isn't ready to set sanctions for members indisputably guilty of unethical behavior. In other words, we're on the yellow-brick road with not one but a group of cowardly lions.'
Authorities bring the hammer down on the Todd Place Crew, said to be responsible for a 'four-month series of attacks, including a slaying and several shootings,' in Eckington and Bloomingdale last year. WaPo's Clarence Williams adds: 'According to authorities, the attacks were part of a feud dating back at least 15 years between crews operating within blocks of each other. The rival group is believed to be based on T Street NE. "Over the course of four months, there were 15 victims of violence, six of whom had nothing to do with the dispute," [Cathy Lanier] said. The attacks "happened day after day after day."' Arrested, charged, and indicted for murder and other offenses are James C. Bates, Joseph A. Jenkins, Darnell Anderson and Edward E. Warren.
More on the Stevens ES developer pick from WBJ's Jonathan O'Connell. Jack Evans tells him, 'I talked to the mayor and he said he's going to move forward....I am very disappointed not only in the selection but in the fact that Stevens might now not get developed for a very long time.' O'Connell's take is that 'cash is still king. Apartments are the easiest thing to finance at the moment—certainly easier than a hotel. A year ago this week, Fenty chose the Donohoe Cos. to build a Melia Hotel in Mount Vernon Triangle. Since then we've heard nothing—no deal with the city, no legislation, no construction timeline. I can't imagine the Fenty folks want a repeat of that.' Also see Housing Complex. Expect a lot of angry West Enders at this afternoon's Valerie Santos confirmation hearing.
Ground is actually broken on the Tenleytown library! NC8 covers, asking questions about whether D.C. will have the funds to staff the library when it opens: 'When asked about building the new libraries while cutting back hours at the ones already open, Fenty claimed he didn't know anything about cutbacks...."It's appalling. It doesn't make any sense to put this kind of money in a building—in a structure when you're still not going to have any money to staff or give the hours that are needed for the community," said ANC Commissioner Karlene Armstead.' Dorothy Brizill also pressed funding questions, to little avail: 'After [Ginnie Cooper] stated that there really wasn't any funding problem, she tried to brush off additional questions by saying that her "working philosophy" on such matters was to "build for the long term, deal with the short term." When I continued to press Cooper to answer the question, she said, "I don't have time for this," but then said she had to get out of the sun. When I told her I'd walk with her to a shaded area of the open field, she said that she needed to get back to her office and that she was leaving. And so, for me, today's press conference ended with the sight of Cooper running toward the Tenleytown Metro, with a small cadre of DCPL employees scrambling behind her.'
New DISB commissioner Gennet Purcell has delayed her decision on CareFirst's reserve levels until as late as Dec. 31, Nikita Stewart reports at D.C. Wire. The bigger news, which WaPo misses, is that Purcell has decided to hire an independent actuary to analyze the insurer's reserves—something that Purcell's predecessor, Thomas Hampton, long refused to do, and a good sign for those who want CareFirst to spend a piece of those funds.
Sundry politicking of the day: Peaceoholics show up at Wilson Building in bandages and fake blood to protest earmark cuts. And, as LL noted yesterday, Harry Thomas Jr. honored Dorothy Height and Maya Angelou at the council's Park at 14th reception for CBC conference attendees. Other old-timers there: Sterling Tucker and Elijah Rogers.
Michael Neibauer covers the mercifully steady revenue estimates in Examiner. 'D.C. leaders received positive news from their finance chief this week about the District's economy: It hasn't gotten any worse...."It's definitely a positive sign," said Ward 2 D.C. Councilman Jack Evans, chairman of the finance and revenue committee. "We've had four quarters in a row where we've gone down for a total of approximately $600 million. So this revenue estimate says to me there's hopefully a leveling off and we've hit bottom."'
Also from Neibauer: A look at Michael Brown's bill to allow five hours of free parking to funeral attendees. '[T]he bill provides that the vehicles of mourners, marked by placards provided by funeral organizers, could not be ticketed for residential permit and parking meter infractions for five hours during and after a funeral service. The measure also bars non-funeral attendees from parking in designated funeral zones during the same five-hour period.' Says Brown, 'To have to run out in the middle of a service or have to leave the service early in fear of receiving a parking violation is insensitive to this sacred event.' Says Shaw activist Alex Padro, 'The suggestion that a person attending a funeral would be given a special class, I can't imagine anyone's going to be comfortable with that.'
Almost three months in, Examiner's Kytja Weir looks at the performance of Metro's NextBus system. The bus notification system 'has been used about a half-million times since it was restarted July 1....It has not received many official complaints, with just fewer than 150 filed.' Still, there are some glitches with voice recognition and graffiti.
Metro Transit Police are increasing after-school patrols to help put a stop to student beefing, Yamiche Alcindor writes in WaPo. 'Officers have arrested more than 260 juveniles this year on offenses including robberies and assaults. Almost every day, officers break up fights, confront rowdy students and patrol high crime areas, Transit Police said. As part of the surge, officers who usually perform administrative duties are instead patrolling stations with high after-school crime rates, such as Minnesota Avenue, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Metro Center, L'Enfant Plaza, Anacostia and Fort Totten....Sgt. David Mann said he has seen everything, including public sexual acts and gang fights, at Metrorail stations..."This is to set the tone that if you start cutting up, we will arrest you," Mann said.'
Also from Alcindor: Coverage of taxicabs with 'the area's first touch-screen self-payment video devices.' You won't find them in the District, though: MoCo's Barwood Taxi is first to get the gadgets; Arlington's Red Top may follow. '[Barwood] plans to install the six-inch color-screen devices in all 435 of its taxis by the end of the year....The screens will feature videos and announcements from local agencies and nonprofit groups such as the Children's Inn at National Institutes of Health, Montgomery County public schools and the county's network of public parks.' And due to credit-card acceptance, '[d]river profits might also be affected. In New York during the past two years, the systems have increased tipping by 5 percent.'
Oh, cab drivers should hope that this supposed strike set for Adams Morgan next weekend is more successful than the supposed strike we had on Tuesday. Incidentally, libertarians are not pleased about a possible medallion system, either.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman is planning to go on senior status, Jordan Weissmann reports in Legal Times, giving Barack Obama a fourth opportunity to appoint to the District's federal trial bench. Friedman put his 15 years in as of Sept. 21. 'He said he did not anticipate slowing down his work pace. "I don't believe it's going to change my life a great deal," Friedman said. "Certainly until we get new judges nominated and on board, I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing for 15 years."' LT covered possible nominees earlier this year.
ALSO—Friedman sentences James Pearson, 56, of Baltimore to 27 months for stealing $750,000 from the Nuclear Energy Institute. 'Pearson acknowledged that, beginning in 1998, he ordered goods on behalf of the institute and sold them for profit. The items included office supplies, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, video cameras, MP3 devices and computers, prosecutors said.'
Compared to John Edwards, writes Eugene Robinson in WaPo, the mayor-for-life does pretty well: 'There are...cads whose behavior shows a certain panache, an undeniable flair, a sense of humor and a genuine, if deeply flawed, humanity. Former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, I would argue, is one of these "lovable rogue" cads. John Edwards is not.' Yep, Eugene, nothing says 'lovable rogue' like kicking a woman out of her hotel room a thousand miles from home because she wouldn't perform oral sex on you.
WOW—Onlooker catches boy who fell out of a second-story window in Southeast yesterday, NC8 reports. ' Jeffrey Mathews caught the boy. He says the boy, who weighed about 50 pounds, apparently crawled out the window through a broken screen and was gripping the window's ledge, with his feet on a metal conduit, hanging on for dear life. "When I ran around the corner, I saw him hanging out the window," Mathews said. "So I just told him, 'Hang on!' He tried to hang on as much as he could. I said, 'Look. I got you, man. Just drop.'"'
Anacostia Freeway closed last night after pedestrian was struck near Benning Road around 8 p.m. He was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Also, this morning, a suspicious package near the Islamic Center of Washington shut down Massachusetts Avenue NW for a half-hour during the morning commute. And hazmat crews responded to the MPD 1D headquarters after diesel fumes sickened some workers there.
AP picks up the 'Wildland Fire Management' stimulus funds going to D.C. parks story. Some GOP senators are now on the warpath: 'The spending angered a group of Western lawmakers, who noted that the District of Columbia has no national forests and that forests throughout the West continue to burn...."The last major fire in D.C. was likely lit by British troops in 1814," said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who is leading Western lawmakers' effort to strip the city of the money. "There are many wasteful and wild schemes born in Washington, but this takes the cake." Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, called it unreasonable that federal firefighting money is going to areas where there are no forest fires.'
Here's a story tailor-made for Tom Sherwood: on unnecessary security measures at federal facilities, and Eleanor Holmes Norton's crackdown there on. Example: WTOP, WTTG-TV cover feds request to make F Street NW one-way eastbound for the block just east of the Treasury Department (first broken by the Current). The concern was about an explosives-laden truck barrelling into the side of the building, but apparently the feds are now backing away from the plan: 'A senior official at Treasury tells FOX 5 the current administration does not think that is the best solution, and says the department plans to ask DDOT to withdraw that proposal.'
New AIDS clinic opening on K Street NW—the Blair Underwood Clinic! Yes, that Blair Underwood—L.A. Law and such! The clinic is being opened by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation this morning, AP reports. 'The clinic is near George Washington University Hospital, where clinic officials plan to admit some patients who need to be hospitalized. The organization has also relocated a mobile testing unit from Los Angeles to provide free HIV testing in underserved neighborhoods in Washington.'
NC8 covers new streetcars on H Street/Benning Road and in Anacostia, with plenty of residents spouting about construction inconveniences and delays. And GGW makes the case for collecting fares via the honor system.
Bob McCartney, Bethesda resident, gives Car Free Day a try. 'I concluded the following: Hardly anybody else knew it was World Car Free Day. Nobody really thinks it's possible to go entirely car-free. Most of us should try instead to go "car lite." Going car-free was a hassle but saved me a few bucks and helped my fitness.'
The Teachers & Parents for Real Education Reform group outlines why they think using budget cuts to get rid of bad teachers is a big deal: 'The problem is that the Chancellor has had more than two years to come up with a way to credibly evaluate teachers based on an objective assessment of their competence, according to a commonly held standard of what good teaching looks like. She has failed to do this. She didn't even start trying to come up with such a system until this year. And the budget cut process even bypasses the system she has just recently created.'
Reliable Source has photo of Fenty chilling with Newark Mayor Cory Booker at last Wednesday's screening of 'Brick City.' Also there: Forest Whitaker!
DCCAH decides to table not-widely-liked Adams Morgan art project.
WPFW-FM host Askia Muhammad says he's 'sorely disappointed with the job being done by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.' He cites child care privatization, 'Fenty Field,' and this: 'I am bothered by the utter contempt Mayor Fenty seemed to show toward our Queen Mother, Dr. Dorothy Height, and to Poet Dr. Maya Angelou, when he reneged on two appointments made by these Royal women...That seems like arrogant disrespect by the Mayor shown toward women who deserve the utmost respect.'
Chevy Chase won't sue over Purple Line. Yet.
Bunch of H1N1 cases at GU.
GGW gets a parking ticket, does not find the experience unpleasant.
WaPo readers react to talk of ditching Redskins name.
TODAY ON NEWSTALK—Cathy Lanier on NewsChannel 8 at 4 p.m.
THIS AFTERNOON—Teachers rally against layoffs at 825 North Capitol St. NE, 4:30 p.m.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Economic Development roundtable on PR18-312 ('District of Columbia Small and Local Business Opportunity Commission Christian Salvatori Confirmation Resolution of 2009'), JAWB 412; 1 p.m.: Committee on Economic Development roundtable on PR18-369 ('Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Valerie Santos Confirmation Resolution of 2009'), JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on PR18-391 ('Florida Avenue Market Small Area Plan Approval Resolution of 2009'), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10:30 a.m.: remarks, 10th Street Park groundbreaking, 10th Street NW between L and M Streets; 4 p.m.: remarks, Mann ES track and field ribbon-cutting, 4430 Newark St. NW.