City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Caps Announcer Blows Off High School Reunion to Be With the Fans!

For the print edition of City Paper, I wrote yet another column about Charles Mann and Art Monk's debacle in Anacostia. The former Redskins spent a decade promising that community a job training center, and then sold the proposed site for more than 10 times what they paid the city to obtain it.

One fascinating (to me) part of the story that I didn't get into for space reasons: While sitting on the Anacostia building over the years, Monk and Mann, joined by Darrell Green, lobbied the residents of Sursum Corda, a low-income housing development off North Capitol Street NW, to turn control of that woeful development over to them. The ex-teammates made their pitch to redevelop the property right after the murder of 14 year-old Jahkema Princess Hansen. They did not get the job.

For both the Anacostia and Sursum Corda projects, Monk and Mann used the Bennett Group, a DC-based development firm headed by LuAnn Bennett, wife of a longtime Congressman, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).

Congress gave the Good Samaritan Foundation at least $775,000 in grants for the training center project.

The Bennett Group's slogan, which pops up every now and then on the firm's web site: "The bottom line for Bennett Group is value. For us, that means delivering projects on time and on budget, without compromising on quality."

That adage doesn't really jibe with what went on at the Carver Theatre site.

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(AFTER THE JUMP: Capitals announcer blows off Falls Church High School Reunion for Fan Fest? Anacostia High has chance at Worst Season in DC High School History? Will Eastern and Spingarn keep Anacostia from their date with destiny? The Nats no longer need to consult Mapquest on the Road to 100 Losses?)

There are two big get-togethers in the area this weekend: The reunion of the Falls Church High School Class of 1979, and the Washington Capitals Fan Convention.

Because of the latter, Wes Johnson won't be able to attend the former.

Johnson is the Caps longtime P.A. announcer, and far as I can tell the only guy from Falls Church (full disclosure: my alma mater, same class as Johnson) to ever make anything of himself. The only other alum from FCHS to get the spotlight was a Pizza Hut delivery man who jumped the White House fence and got shot in 1995.

Johnson, a professional voice-over artist when not riling up the home fans from his perch in the penalty box, has been working the microphone at Verizon Center since 2000.

He says he favored an understated delivery when he first got the Caps job, but turned into the over-the-top bellower fans now know and love after a gig for a video-game producer in which he had to play an arena announcer... for gladiators.

"For that job, I put my regular voice 'on steroids,'" says Johnson, speaking figuratively in case it's illegal for P.A. guys to be juiced, "and it carried over to what I do with the Caps. And, I've found the arena-announcer-for-gladiators voice works pretty well with hockey, too."

Johnson will spend all Saturday at the Caps event, to be held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill. Other scheduled special guests include NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, owner Ted Leonsis, general manager George McPhee, head coach Bruce Boudreau and former fan favorites including Rod Langway, Al Iafrate, and the long-absent Dennis Maruk.

Tickets for the Caps event are sold out. If you want to go to the Falls Church High reunion, however, call 703-471-6700.

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Anacostia has a fighting chance of posting an 0-11 season. That might well have never happened in DC high school football history. Some DCIAA teams this year have added a game to the traditional 10-game maximum slate that has long been in place for prep football.

DC football has long been a game of haves and have nots, and Anacostia is the only one of the have-nots in the public school league to throw in the extra game on this year's schedule.

Anacostia has gotten off to the kind of start that makes the winless, record-breaking season seem very possible:  The Indians are already 0-4 and have suffered some major blowouts, including a 60-0 pounding from Dunbar last week.

But ignominy isn't going to come so easily:  Anacostia has games at the end of the season against Spingarn and Eastern, the reigning kings of DC's Have-Nots.

So far in 2009, Spingarn and Eastern have a combined record of 0-4, and have been outscored 168-12. Both schools will take big time beatings today. Spingarn faces Dunbar, and Eastern, which didn't even field a football team last year, will get grounded and pounded by charter school powerhouse Friendship Collegiate.

But, Eastern has only eight games listed on its schedule this year, and Spingarn nine. So neither has the chance for Historical Badness that Anacostia does.

Cheap Seats Daily will keep an eye on Anacostia as it makes its way along the historic Road to 11 Losses!

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Speaking of historic losers: Nats lose! Nats lose!

The 7-6 loss to the Dodgers at home gives the their 100th defeat of 2K9.

The Road to 100 Losses is the The Road Traveled for this bunch — three years in a row they've got triple digit defeats. So now the franchise has the same number of 100 loss seasons in Washington as it had in all its years in Montreal! (Anybody who says DC isn't a cursed baseball town hasn't seen "Damn Yankees"!)

One of Riggleman's postgame quotes, meant to praise his boys for not getting blown out like they got blown out on Tuesday, is an unintentional thigh-slapper: "That team's going to be popping champagne any day," Riggleman said, "and we're right there with 'em."

Well, if by "right there with 'em" Riggleman means his Nats, running away with worst-team-in-the-majors honors, are within just 39 1/2 games of the Dodgers, who've won a major-league best 92 games this year, then...OK, Coach, you ARE right there with 'em!

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Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com

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  • BillyBobBush

    Dave,

    You're wrong about the Sursum Corda deal for Monk, Mann, and Green. They did get it but not based on the original promises to the residents. Monk brought in LuAnn Benett's group, RAB, who then brought in a bigger developer, KSI- now Kettler. As part of the arrangement for "brokering" the deal, they are entitled to over $1 million. They simply used their celebrity to draw attention and they're getting paid $1 million for the deal. Contact Kettler and ask for a copy of the development agreement.

    I attended a prelimanry meeting that was held in the community. I was affiliated with Bibleway, who also has a stake in the NorthWest One development. These guys opened the meeting with the good Rev. Green preaching about God's master plan to have them come to the community and save the residents. It's nothing but a gimmick for these guys. They forced the residents to sign a non-competetive deal that essentially gave the community away for nothing. All the articles in the post about the cash the residents will receive, well, that was all based on significant subsidies by the City.

    Kettler's plan to build highrises were shot down by the City and they are no longer interested in redeveloping the community. A new group, led by WC Smith and Companies, is set to develop the other parcels in the NorthWest One community and Sursum is a part of this, minus all of the original players (Kettler, RAB, MGM). However, they aren't going away empty-handed, Kettler is owed millions for the funds they have fronted to the community, but MGM still wants their million dollar fee for a deal that never materialized. The residents of the community are the ones left paying the tab for this.

    Ask Mann and Monk for comments on this. The papertrail is there.

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