City Desk

Peter Nickles ‘Speaks for the Law’: 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—"Tipper Gore Stumps for Council Hopeful Clark Ray"; "How to Get a Sweet WaPo Editorial"

IN LL WEEKLY—Parks and Wreck: What Ximena Hartsock's ouster says about Adrian Fenty's undisciplined politics.

Morning all. Peter Nickles and Kwame Brown got into it a little bit yesterday on the John A. Wilson Building steps, as Latino groups protested the Ximena Hartsock ouster. Patrick Madden of WAMU-FM and Tim Craig of WaPo were both on hand for the tête-à-tête. 'You should be ashamed of yourself,' Brown shouted to the AG at one point—ashamed, he says, because of Nickles' references to 'a misogynist, racist hearing' and other comments along those divisive lines. Rather, Brown tells the protesters the vote was about Mayor Adrian M. Fenty breaking the law; Nickles' classic rejoinder, to Craig: 'To use the excuse that she had violated the law...I speak for the law.'

AFTER THE JUMP—Teen dead in Clay Terrace shootout said to be innocent bystander; some sorely needed good news for Michelle Rhee; some think she's Braveheart; Clark Ray buddies up to the guy who fired him; Fenty administration commits to Northeast streetcars; and David Wilmot fetes Fenty tonight—but too late to stop the suing?

Police say that Davonta Artis, 15, killed Tuesday afternoon in Clay Terrace, was 'an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of two rival groups fighting over stolen guns,' according to WaPo. The shooters seem to have been associated with a crew from 37th Place SE, which went to Clay Terrace looking to get stolen guns and money back. They may have included the other fatality, Daquan Tibbs, 18, a Cardozo dropout who lived on that street. Also: 'Two law enforcement sources said that one of the wounded is the son of a D.C. police officer assigned to the special operations division and that a gun was found near him.' Also NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.

ABOUT DAVONTA—'Davonta's cousin, John Reddick, said Davonta was a well-behaved teen who minded his parents and met his 8:30 p.m. curfew....Davonta liked hanging out with his brothers and was especially fond of playing with his nephew, born in January, Reddick said. Davonta threw a football on the patch of worn grass outside his apartment building, shot hoops on the nearby court and visited friends' houses to play video games. "He wasn't bad, not at all," Reddick said.' Grief counselors were sent to his school, Ron Brown MS, yesterday.

Finally some good news for Michelle Rhee: On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a math testing regime given to fourth- and eigth-graders across the country, District public schoolkids performed significantly better. Nick Anderson reports in WaPo that for Fenty and Rhee, 'the report is a hopeful sign amid budget cuts, layoffs and the most intense political strife since [Fenty] gave Rhee unprecedented powers more than two years ago. Only four states and the District made notable gains in both grades.' The scores (with have nothing to do with DC-CAS), are still below average nationally, but 'compared favorably to the performance of urban schools nationwide.' One wonk calls the gains 'awesome.' Examiner, WAMU-FM are somewhat less exuberant.

The WaPo editorial board, natch, is right there with an attaboy, calling the scores 'an important reminder of what's at stake in the city's struggle to remake its troubled education system. Student achievement—not politics nor process, nor even jobs—is the only issue that truly matters.' And the board makes the case that these results should ease fears about the veracity of DC-CAS results: 'The NAEP is considered the gold standard of testing: The federal government picks which students will take it and administers the test; it's nearly impossible for teachers to do any test prep. It's significant, then, that the NAEP results mirrored gains reflected in the annual D.C. tests, which some had questioned.'

EducationNext, a journal affiliated with Stanford and Harvard Universities, deems Rhee 'D.C.'s Braveheart' in a lengthy profile by WSJ reporter June Kronholz. The nut graf: 'Rhee's style—as steely as the sound of her peekaboo high heels on a linoleum-tile hallway—has angered much of Washington, D.C., and baffled the rest since she arrived as schools chancellor in June 2007. But it is also helping her gain control of a school system that has defied management for decades: that hasn't kept records, patched windows, met budgets, delivered books, returned phone calls, followed court orders, checked teachers' credentials, or, for years on end, opened school on schedule in the fall.' And the killer illustration:

The RIF drumbeat still goes on, though: WaPo's Bill Turque has 15 questions for Rhee and DCPS. They're good ones. Here's one of the best: 'In mid-June, CFO Natwar M. Gandhi revised revenue estimates for FY 2010 downward by $154.2 million. Was there any consideration given to stopping hiring at that point?'

ALSO—Public Charter School Board reports a nine percent uptick in enrollment thus far for the 2009-10 school year, less than 100 off projections. That's an unaudited number, though—DCPS unaudited figures also showed a 'historic' gain. Hold your breath for the hard numbers. Vast understatement from Turque: 'Should DCPS hold on to its gains through the audit, the council will need to revisit its assumptions about enrollment patterns in the District.'

Lots of killer OCFO news from Examiner's Michael Neibauer! First, CFO Nat Gandhi landed a big court win, with Superior Court Judge Brook Hedge ruling the the Office of Tax and Revenue indeed has 'some discretion' to limit which properties are included in the annual delinquent property tax auction. The ruling comes after a lawsuit from Aeon Financial, 'a giant in municipal tax lien purchases,' halted last month's auction. It's been rescheduled for Nov. 30. Secondly, Gandhi is losing a number of key deputies, including Robert Andary, director of the Office of Integrity and Oversight, and Robert Ebel, chief economist (and the guy in charge of revenue projections). Mohamad Yusuff will take over for Andary, Fitzroy Lee for Ebel.

So turns out that Jim Graham won't be having his hearing on the size of the taxi industry, Jonetta Rose Barras reports in Examiner. A decision to cancel the hearing came amid a flurry of Barras phone calls and a meeting between Graham and Vincent Gray. Gray has steadfastly refused to remove taxis from Graham's oversight, but Barras asks, 'Is a committee restructuring on the way?'

ALSO—Barras' better piece of writing yesterday was her online column on the 'strange politics' of Clark Ray: 'As Ray's political style comes into sharper focus during his at-large council campaign, questions are being raised about his relationship to the mayor. Why, for example, would Ray chastise the council for exercising its right to decline confirmation of a mayoral appointee? Why would he, after reviewing Hartsock's qualifications assert that the vote was "a mistake"?...Some political operatives and residents have said that Ray doesn't want to irritate the mayor because he may need Fenty's support in his council bid.'

It's over: Robert Hannah has been sentenced to six months in jail for the assault that ended up killing Tony Randolph Hunter last fall in Shaw. 'During the hearing, Hannah told Hunter's mother, sister and stepfather—who sat in the front row wiping away tears—that he was sorry, although he never looked at the family and kept his eyes on [Judge Rafael Diaz],'Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. Says Hunter's stepfather: 'We drove 300 miles to see him get six months in jail for killing my son....The [prosecutor] didn't press the witnesses. They didn't work hard enough.' Hunter's mom tells Blade she's 'not pleased.' Also WAMU-FM, AP.

DHS director Clarence Carter tells D.C. Council to chill out about homeless cuts, Darryl Fears reports in WaPo, pledging that 'whatever the demand for emergency shelter is this coming winter, the District is committed and prepared to meet' it. That statement 'seemed to reassure some providers who had feared the impact of the city's 30 percent reduction in their funding.' That followed what Fears deemed a 'blistering statement that criticized the Fenty administration for contradictory and confusing explanations' from Tommy Wells. And Michael A. Brown wanted specifics on where money would be found; 'Carter said the answer was "above my pay grade."'

City renews push on streetcars, Jonathan O'Connell reports at WBJ. Tommy Wells, with bag bill under his belt, says he 'will now make returning streetcars to the city his primary effort.' And he says 'he has a commitment from the mayor that the first cars will run on H Street and Benning Road NE...rather than in Anacostia.' DDOT's Gabe Klein says, 'We are now working to make it operational as soon as is practically possible.' His agency has planned a series of community meetings, and Wells is proposing to challenge a federal law preventing overhead wires on H Street NE.

ALSO FROM O'CONNELL—Developers Kingdon Gould III and Anthony Lanier host Fenty fundraiser, along with...David Wilmot. LL would love to hear the chit-chat between Wilmot and Hizzoner ('About that attorney general of yours...'). The event, tonight at Georgetown's L2 Lounge, is advertised 'as an authentic Oktoberfest bash featuring oversized pretzels, twirling skirts, accordions and street entertainment.' The tagline: 'CONFIRMING CHANGE'

Sweet find by DCist: Apprehended Graham aide Ted Loza was one of 10 District residents featured in D.C. Vote's 'I Demand the Vote' ad campign this summer. Funny, only nine profiles are up on the group's Web site now. Says spox, 'We recently made the decision to take down the ad from our Web site while the situation is pending.'

WCP's Rend Smith discovers that the city's new 'sweepercams' have not been without problems. To wit, one Ward 1 resident discovered that sweeper drivers aren't always conscientious about turning off the cameras in non-sweeping zones. And there's other issues, says DPW: 'The camera may have captured the wrong vehicle, a duplicate ticket may have been issued, the camera may have been triggered accidentally and a ticket may have been issued during a day and hours when there was no street sweeping.' About 500 of the 22,000 tickets issued so far have been voided due to those issues.

WaTimes' David Lipscomb—fresh off his well-timed exit as Graham's press guy—looks at Mary Cheh's efforts to improve government transparency, in particular 'stonewalling' on FOIA responses. Complaints about Nickles' uncooperative attitude toward FOIAs is 'showing yet again that he's not able to make the transition from a private practice, scorch-the-earth policy, to public servant,' Cheh tells Lipscomb. Nickles says police union chief Kris Baumann et al. 'are abusing open government laws and preventing the government from responding to legitimate requests. "We do all we can," Mr. Nickles said. "It's hard to keep up."'

NICKLES VS. NICHOLS UPDATE—Jeffrey Anderson reports in WaTimes that Nickles has asked Judge Eugene Hamilton to stay his order opening city documents on Columbia Heights development deals to Auditor Deborah Nichols. That's because he plans to appeal, of course. LL notes that one of the deals Nichols wants to look at involves Kenyon Square, developed by Donatelli Development. As in Chris Donatelli. As in the guy who hosted Fenty's birthday bash/fundraiser last year.

Computerworld's Patrick Thibodeau looks at the Bryan Sivak CTO appointment. Tech analyst tells him 'it's unclear why someone with Sivak's background was selected...."For the last seven years he has worked for small software vendor that has a very narrow and not widely adopted application....I'm sure he is capable of learning [more general IT issues], but it's not clear that he has had the experience in acquiring, building and supporting those applications."'

Gary Imhoff breaks down the 2010 council races in themail: 'The ineffectiveness of the council, its inability to protect DC public property against despoliation and to protect DC laws against the mayor's and attorney general's defiance, makes all of the incumbents vulnerable. Ward One's Graham is the most vulnerable, of course, but three or four others are not much better off than Graham. Yet no serious candidate has announced, much less begun to campaign, against any of the most vulnerable councilmembers.' To topple them, Imhoff writes, 'the movements and interest groups that want to make a change in city government have to draft candidates'—together.

Fenty breaks ground on $4M Ward 1 senior center, WBJ reports. The center, on Georgia Avenue just south of Petworth Metro, is scheduled for a fall 2010 opening. Press release!

CHECK IT OUT—New D.C. Public Library Web site! Snazzy!

David Catania and Phil Mendelson get 'Visionary' awards from Legal Times. Hey Mendo: Where's your tux?

SHAW VIOLENCE—Man shot yesterday evening on the 1700 block of 7th Street NE. He has been hospitalized with a graze wound and is in stable condition, NC8 reports. From LL correspondent: 'seems that the relative calm in Ward 2 may be ending. Tonite the head of 9th and O was shot in the head – not dead, but if he dies the expectation is that all hell will break loose....If this guy dies, there will be more violence and then wailing from JAWB.' City money that helped cool the beefing dried up on Oct. 1.

'What is the District's Class 3 property tax?' asks D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute's Elissa Silverman. The answer: A mess. 'Tax policy...should be considered with careful and thorough analysis....Yet instead of reviewing the data and analyzing the impact, the Council approved the change after a quick calculation from its budget director during the meeting. The final proposal was an amendment, and Councilmembers did not have documents showing the fiscal impact of the change.'

Nice piece in the Georgetown Voice on the possible Georgetown-Rosslyn Circulator. Will Sommer points out that Graham could put the kibosh on the whole thing.'

WTTG-TV speaks to street shooting survivor.

D.C. sniper John Muhammad plans clemency appeal to Virginia guv.

So much for those rumors of a D.C. mayoral run: Looks like Robert Bobb will be staying in Detroit for at least one more year.

Not just DPR child care: Union wants answers on detox privatization.

Competency assessment for Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn expected by Nov. 30. Defender A.J. Kramer 'says von Brunn, who was shot near his ear by other museum guards, has trouble hearing and hasn't been able to walk since his injury.'

Thousands without power this morning in upper Ward 4. 'Pepco officials tell 9 NEWS NOW the outage was caused when three feeders in the area locked out around 7:22 a.m....Pepco says they should have the problem solved around 10:00 a.m.'

Bill to create National Women's History Museum at 12th and Independence passes House. Eleanor Holmes Norton is a sponsor.

Jack Evans gets Foggy Bottom coffee cart reopened after DCRA shuts it down.

J-Lo and Marc Anthony visit San Miguel School in Columbia Heights.

Reliable Source continues to evaluate Rhee's new haircut.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—11 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-207 ('Services Animal Amendment Act of 2009'), B18-241 ('Victims of Property Damage Notification Act of 2009'), and B18-282 ('HSEMA Use of Video Surveillance Regulations Amendment Act of 2009'), JAWB 412; Committee On Government Operations and the Environment hearing on PR18-480 ('Director of the Office of Disability Rights Derek K. Orr Confirmation Resolution of 2009'), JAWB 120; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on 'The Status of Residential Recycling in the District of Columbia,' JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, National Assessment of Educational Progress announcement, M.C. Terrell ES, 3301 Wheeler Road SE.

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Comments

  1. #1

    Well, you know what they say: possession is 9/10 of the law. So as long as nobody makes a stink about Nickles' frequent bouts of liberating the law from it's silly system of rules and regulations, he does speak for the law.

    It's a shame that the only publication that might have a chance at getting the public riled up about Nickles' b.s., the Post, loves it some Fenty.

  2. #2

    Until someone comes into this city with a vision (not a photocopy of a bloomberg... nevermind) DC will always be backward. Why is DC have a street car so important? We already have (despite recent news) one of the best public tranportation systems in the country.

    Instead of these vanity projects why don't we beef up public safety. We could post security outside of a school to stop kids from getting beat up by crews, more cameras, develop strategies to keep kids in school, strategies to help single young parents..... I mean their talking about street cars!

  3. #3

    So Peter Nickles "speaks for the law"....

    So much for Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Attorney General, or, what's that little thing called, ohhh, yes, the U.S. Constitution.

    What a self-congragulatory jerk.

    Nickles is the worst executive attorney to ever be a part of D.C. Government.

  4. #4

    Tell that to the 3 judges that thin nichols is a total idiot. He and Fenty are on a slippery slope to hell.

  5. #5

    Nickles' retort was in response to a "YOU LIE!" moment/provocation by Kwame (could I beat one city Gray for mayor?)Brown. Not defending Nickles here, but Brown started it by acting like a punk.

  6. #6

    How did Brown act like a punk? I'm not clear on that. He shouted at Nickles. You've never shouted down anyone? How is that acting like a punk?

  7. #7

    I'm not an elected city council member. But if I were, I absolutely would not shout insults at the Attorney General on the city council building's steps to score political points with protesters. Unless I misread your blog, that's what Brown did. And that makes him just as much of a punk as "YOU LIE!" Wilson in my book.

  8. #8

    Of course the irony in all of this is that, FOR ONCE, Nickles is on the right side of an issue. Hartsock didn't break any law and it's really reprehensible the Council Members keep insisting that she did and that the media reports those claims without actually looking at the laws in question.

    Nickles was the Fenty appointee the Council should have rejected. His track record (and the tone he was setting for the entire administration) couldn't have been clearer, yet they confirmed him.

  9. #9

    And to think that a great man and public servant like Chuck Ruff once occupied the position Nickles now disgraces.

  10. #10

    Impressive notice about women

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