Don Peebles to Take on Fenty: Loose Lips Daily
Morning all. It's official: DCision 2010 is on for real. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was spotted knocking on Ward 7 doors yesterday evening, according to WaPo's Nikita Stewart. Good thing, too: He's got a new potential challenger—D.C. native and megadeveloper Don Peebles, who tells WBJ's Jonathan O'Connell that 'he will either run himself or support another candidate because of what he called “a continued pattern of a lack of oversight and accountability” under Fenty...."The current mayor lacks the integrity, competency, capacity and maturity to be an effective mayor, and he’s unable to get along with anybody else."' A real race? Be still LL's heart!
AFTER THE JUMP—Top city officials react to WaPo HIV/AIDS spending reports; 4,000 Metro citations issued to drivers, only 18 fired; oily rags brought down Cafritz mansion; business owner complains, mayor offers tickets; and should domestic partnerships survive same-sex marriage?
Fenty, AG Peter Nickles, David Catania, and a cadre of city officials lined up at HAA HQ to address the findings of the 10-month WaPo investigation by reporter Debbie Cenziper that exposed $25M in questionable HIV/AIDS spending over four years. Fenty deemed the waste 'inexcusably wrong,' according to the A1 WaPo story, while Nickles vowed to investigate and potentially prosecute the groups that squandered public cash. Both played up efforts to fix a deeply troubled grantmaking and oversight process. Said Fenty, 'Blame me as the mayor of the District of Columbia....We probably did not move fast enough to get at some of those inexcusable management deficiencies.' Says Nickles, "Awful easy to talk about fraud and abuse. Much more difficult to do something about it....I'm going to do something about it." And Catania says, 'No one feared stealing....No one feared robbing us blind — and so they did.' Also AP, Cenziper's WaPo chat, NC8 appearance.
In the past five years, according to a WTOP investigation, Metro bus drivers and train operators 'have been cited more than 4,000 times for endangering the lives of their passengers. The incidents of dangerous and sometimes illegal behavior include speeding in residential neighborhoods at more than twice the posted speed, running red lights and collisions with pedestrians, bicycles and even a wheelchair...[and] there have been hundreds of cases of unprofessional behavior, ranging from physical altercations with passengers to bus drivers urinating into random containers on their buses.' Only 18 have been fired in that time. Also NC8.
DID YOU KNOW?—There have been '[n]umerous cases of Metrobus drivers caught urinating inside the bus – including one case where a driver urinated into a Doritos bag.'
In a move of curious timing, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham finally relinquishes oversight of taxicab affairs, almost a month after his right-hand man Teddy Loza was arrested on bribery charges. Tim Craig reports in WaPo that 'Graham was under mounting pressure from Gray to relinquish oversight of the industry, including the taxicab commission.' Wrote Graham to Gray: 'Though I have committed no crime, nor am I reportedly the target of any investigation, I want to ensure that Taxicab Commission oversight continues without any distractions relating to the Ted Loza indictment.' Also DCist, Examiner.
WaPo editorial board takes a double dip into local affairs: First off, the board sadly laments the 'sad legacy of the District's HIV/AIDS agency,' as exposed by Cenziper's reporting, then goes on to commend Fenty for moving in the right direction. 'But more must be done to fully transform HAHSTA from an emblem of waste, fraud and abuse into a model of service delivery for a vulnerable population. In a city where 3 percent of the total population is living with HIV/AIDS, anything less is no longer acceptable.' Second, the board calls shenanigans on Republicans who claim to be shocked—shocked!—that Democrats would consider attaching the House Voting Rights Acts to a defense spending bill: 'Do they really think everyone has forgotten that they used the same ploy to sabotage voting rights in the first place?'
Oily rags may have caused the inferno that destroyed the Palisades manse of Peggy Cooper Cafritz, city officials announce. 'Investigators keyed on "linseed oil-soaked paper towels" left in a plastic trash bag on the northeast corner of the east porch, outside the 15,000-square-foot, $5.2 million home at 3030 Chain Bridge,' Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. 'The housekeeper used linseed oil to treat the Cafritzes' patio furniture, according to the report, and the butler "states it was normal practice to leave trash bags on the east porch."' Theola Labbé-DeBose notes in WaPo that the damage has been estimated at $15M. Also: FEMS now has detailed digital water maps available, has placed auxiliary water trucks around the city, has WASA experts on call for large fires, and has increased training for battalion chiefs. See NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
In WaTimes, David Lipscomb covers the blame game between Phil Mendelson and Fire Chief Dennis Rubin on why FEMS didn't dispatch the auxiliary water trucks sooner. Rubin says budget cuts; Mendo says 'Rubin has dragged his feet on implementing the recommendations and used politics to cover his mistakes while scapegoating the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.' Also Dave Statter at WUSA-TV and at his own Web site, who notes eerily that the small fire down the block from the Cafritz house this weekend was at the home of June Hechinger, widow of John.
Also in WaTimes, Jeffrey Anderson covers the lawsuit filed by the father of the D.C. youth ward accusing D.C. Council candidate Clark Ray of malfeasance. The suit is treated with about all the credibility it deserves. The complain 'contains factual inconsistencies and numerous and obvious spelling and grammatical errors' and 'was filed by a father with a lengthy criminal record, according to court papers, and by a lawyer who has faced disciplinary actions, according to the D.C. Bar Association.' Ray's lawyers—Bob Spagnoletti and Vincent Cohen—call it a 'politically motivated stunt.'
Gay marriage council hearing is set for next Monday afternoon, Neibauer notes, and 91 are already signed up to testify. That morning, the BOEE will hear testimony on a marriage initiative sure to be rejected. Says Mendelson: 'This is going to be about hearing from the public, not like other hearings when it's more about rolling up your sleeves and getting into the arcane language.' Can you sense the disappointment?
ALSO—ANC member Bob King, organizer of the 'People's Rally' the day prior, vows to lobby Congress to overturn a marriage law. Incidentally, ANC 6D (Southwest) voted to support gay marriage last night.
Meanwhile, some gay activists are suggesting that the council gay marriage bill shouldn't abolish domestic partnerships—at least 'until it becomes certain that Catania’s same-sex marriage bill will survive any attempts by members of Congress to block or overturn it,' Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports in Blade. That's due in part to 'severability' concerns—that Congress could block marriages but allow the portion of the bill abolishing DPs to become law.
Howard Frampton, an H Street business owner upset with ongoing street construction, was offered by the mayor's office, in response to his concerns, first baseball tickets, then hockey tickets, and now soccer tickets. Says Frampton to WaTimes, 'We don't think [the latest offer] is relevant at this time...Even having us cater lunch at the mayor's office would be more helpful than giving us tickets to a game.'
Skyland eminent domain case hits federal appeals court, Legal Times reports. There's wrangling for the moment over some technical/procedural matters, but Senior Judge Stephen Williams 'grill' an AAG 'about the District’s intent to purchase the land for some $25 million and then resell it for $4 million. Williams said that plan “raises questions.” He said that it “looks like a pretty sweet deal” for private interests and that the cost to taxpayers doesn’t “suggest an advancement of the public interest.”'
The District is being sued by Clear Channel over removal of some billboards, note the folks at the Bates Area Civic Association.
Metro holds its first public forum on impending budget cuts; not a lot of cheerful people among the two dozen in attendance, judging from Lena Sun's WaPo report. 'I hate Metro right now,' said rider Charlene Volpe, who 'urged Metro officials to seek more federal funds, noting that Congress seems to be "bailing out every single entity" less deserving than the public transportation system in the nation's capital.' Meanwhile, 'one riders' group, MetroRiders.org, released a statement Monday saying it was realistic to expect that "everybody should have some skin in the game.'
National Community Church, after 13 years, has been evicted from the Union Station movie theater, William Wan reports in WaPo. 'The train station's Phoenix Theatres were closed Oct. 12, and with them went the church's innovative sanctuary, which over the years has sparked dozens of similar movie theater-based churches across the country.' Services have since moved temporarily up 2nd Street NE to Ebenezer's Coffeehouse; the church is looking for a new space.
D.C. resident Toumani Touray Thomas, 32, who shot an assault rifle at an armored truck in Prince George's County last week, says he was high on PCP when he did so. Thomas 'remains hospitalized in fair condition with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.'
MADNESS AT McDONOUGH—Last Friday's Midnight Madness festivities on the Georgetown University campus got a little more mad than usual: 'As pieced together from various accounts, an off-duty U.S. Park Police officer looked into her purse and noted that her service pistol, a .40-caliber semiautomatic, was not there. About the same time, at least one shot was fired at a bathroom fixture,' Martin Weil reports in WaPo. 'The D.C. police department was called, and a student was taken into custody. Park Police said the gun was recovered.' LL gives big ups to his journalistic cradle, the Georgetown Voice, for not only being all over the story, but having pix of the shot-up toilet. Also mad: LL, about the hike in his Hoyas season ticket prices!
Petula Dvorak covers the Mockingbird Society, which helps D.C. foster kids form meaningful relationships. 'The concept, pioneered in Washington state and recently expanded to the District and Kentucky, creates clusters of foster families around a hub parent. Just like an extended family of cousins and uncles and sisters and aunts, with the familiar matriarch in the middle.'
Atlantic picks who shoulda been on GQ's 50 Most Powerful in D.C. list. Among them: Ted Leonsis, and federal court judges Royce Lamberth, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, and Thomas F. Hogan, 'who are dealing with the most difficult and sensitive GMTO, terrorism and national security cases. They've become our de-facto national security court, and their rulings significantly influence the policy — and the politics — of these issues.'
DCFPI's Jenny Reed explains the need for D.C. budget transparency: 'Because of a lack of clear budget information, the DC Council voted on a budget that they didn’t know contained nearly $12 million in cuts to homeless service programs. These cuts risked closing shelters right before hypothermia season and cut the budgets of service providers at a time when homelessness is on the rise.'
GGW wants to know what's up with Dupont Down Under.
DDOT starts prepping drivers for long-term New York Avenue construction.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole meeting, to be followed by the 18th Legislative Meeting, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10:30 a.m.: remarks, Child and Family Services accomplishments announcement, Sasha Bruce Youthwork, 5370 Hayes St. NE.