The New Cronies: Loose Lips Daily
Morning all. In this week's column, LL wrote about David Wilmot, Fred Cooke, and the old favored political class. Today we learn more about the new cronies. WaPo and Examiner both cover Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's attempts to send $72M in parks construction contracts through the D.C. Housing Authority, bypassing D.C. Council approval. The council, needless to say, is not happy, dispatching a letter yesterday demanding city officials show at an Oct. 30 hearing. Bill Myers reports that 'Council Chairman Vincent Gray was furious when he found out,' tapping his committee chairs in charge of economic development, parks, housing, and procurement to bring the hammer down. Mary Cheh tells Nikita Stewart, 'It looks sneaky.' So why be sneaky? Easy: Among a passel of contracts awarded last month, all are managed by Banneker Ventures, a firm with ties to Fenty frat buddies Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner—the same guy who helped scuttle the lottery contract award last year.
AFTER THE JUMP—Pastors meet with Gray, vow to fight; Walter Reed development process kicks off; asbestos found at MPD facility, union freaks; carbon offsets go local; and Metro get closer to cooperating with Google Transit
FROM WAPO—'Banneker Ventures, a firm owned by a Fenty fraternity brother, Omar Karim, is the construction manager on every project, according to a list of the projects compiled by the council. The general contractor on two of the projects is RBK Landscaping and Construction, which is owned by Keith Lomax, a friend of Fenty's who drew attention this year for illegally driving the mayor's city-owned sport-utility vehicle....[Harry Thomas Jr.] said he wanted to know how Banneker received the 12 contracts last month. "There are some real concerns that one contractor could win competitive contracts 100 percent of the time," he said. Herndon-based Regan Associates is teamed with Banneker in all the projects. Sean M. Regan and Thomas J. Regan, who head the real estate advisory firm, have contributed heavily to Fenty's 2010 campaign. '
FROM EXAMINER—'The company is owned and operated by Omar Karim, a Bethesda lawyer and longtime friend and business associate of Skinner. Skinner founded his own company, Liberty Industries LLC, shortly after Fenty took office. Karim has been Skinner's main client through Banneker and a company calling itself the Liberty Law Group for at least a year, according to sources close to the matter. Karim hung up the phone when asked for comment Thursday morning. Skinner couldn't be reached for comment. Nor could A. Scott Bolden, Skinner's attorney.'
Sixteen gay-marriage-opposing pastors meet with Gray, telling him 'they're stepping up opposition to the legislation,' Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. Among them was Harry Jackson, who pushed for an 'advisory referendum,' which would 'let D.C. residents express their view on same-sex marriage, but council members wouldn't be bound to their constituents' opinions when they voted on the bill.' The Rev. Anthony Evans reiterates a pledge to lobby Congress if the bill passes: 'According to my faith, I am to use the full force of my being to oppose this legislation and those who run for higher office in support of it....We will do this, but we'll do it in love.'
City officials prep for Walter Reed development, kicking off 'at least a year's worth of planning' for the 62-acre site, Jonathan O'Connell reports in WBJ. 'D.C. must still submit a plan to the Army to acquire the property, and Fenty has not decided whether to seek a single master developer or multiple developers for different parcels.' In the shorter term, the city is taking bids on lots across the street, and has unveiled Web site on the project. Also WaPo, AP, WAMU-FM.
At D.C. Wire, Bill Turque reports on figures showing nearly 70 percent of RIF'd DCPS teachers 'came from its highest-need schools.' That breakdown comes from the WTU, which combed DCPS data to find 'that 24.3 percent of the 267 layoffs (64 teachers and staff) came from Ward 8 schools; 18.4 percent (49) from Ward 7; 7.9 percent (21) from Ward 6, and 18.7 percent (50) from Ward 5.' DCPS responds that 'nearly 40 of the 53 District schools that did not meet enrollment targets were in those wards. Those under enrolled schools were the most likely to cut spending by reducing staff.' Meanwhile, right-wing think tank basically calls for war on the WTU.
Asbestos is discovered in police facility at 1700 Rhode Island Ave. NE, Jeffrey Anderson reports in WaTimes. The cancer-causing fibers have been found 'in floor tiles and officers' lockers at a building used for youth interrogations,' and 'union officials contend that police knew of the presence of the hazardous material in their building for months.'
OCTOgate suspect is likely to plead guilty, Freeman Klopott reports in Examiner. Farrukh Awan 'worked for [Sushil Bansal]'s Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp. in the city's technology office before being hired as a full-time city employee in 2006. By then, authorities say, Awan had already conspired with Bansal to receive kickbacks based on the hourly wage Bansal's workers received at the technology office. Awan agreed to split that cash with his boss, OCTO security chief [Yusuf Acar].'
Stopgap software developed by Metro to prevent a repeat of the June Red Line crash is ready for testing as soon as Monday, Lena Sun reports in WaPo. 'With the software, a malfunction will trigger a visual and audio alarm on controllers' screens at Metro's operations center; controllers will be required to acknowledge the alarms....It had not been decided whether the test will cover the entire Metrorail system or a portion.' A more comprehensive backup is in development; no one's sure when that will be ready. Also NC8, WTTG-TV.
And Metro moves closer to sharing data with Google 'Metro's top techies say Google Transit may be available to their riders by Jan. 1,' Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner, 'but only if the search engine giant is willing to abide by the agency's terms, specifically Metro's demand that it is shielded from lawsuits spurred by bad data.' Metro has shared data previously under terms 'which include the right to "institute a license fee at any time" and indemnification....But Google, which has relationships with 121 transit systems nationwide, has refused to meet Metro's demands.' Also WTOP.
Also: 'Smoke incidents' are up in Metro stations over last year, Neibauer reports. 'Riders have been known to ball up newspapers and throw them onto high-wattage lighting, or toss coins onto the third rail—both of which can cause smoke....Metro has installed grates at the end of the platforms in underground stations in an attempt to catch debris before it reaches the tunnel, where the majority of the agency's mechanical systems are located. Meanwhile, an unoccupied Red Line train caught fire yesterday in Rockville; 'malfunctioning brakes' are blamed. 'Firefighters responded and determined that a small fire in the braking system burned itself out but produced a lot of smoke,' WaPo reports.
January death of 19-year-old GWU student Laura Treanor leads to city investigation of Adams Mill Bar & Grill in Adams Morgan, reports Hatchet via WTOP. 'Documents recently obtained by The Hatchet show the Adams Mill Bar and Grill was forced to close for 10 days in January because regulators caught bartenders serving alcohol to customers who were already highly intoxicated. The bar was allowed to reopen about a week before Treanor's death.'
Gary Imhoff at DCWatch has 'a new nominee for stupidest legislation, and I think I've identified this year's winner.' It's the Mary Cheh wildlife-protection bill. Also: Imhoff reacts to Fenty comments to Jonetta Rose Barras as 'conclusive proof, if any were needed, that Fenty has succumbed to a fatal case of self-delusion, the politician's disease. He has surrounded himself with yes-men who dare not contradict him, and he believes the praise that he demands from them, so he has convinced himself that everyone agrees with him. An elected official who is as out of touch as Fenty shows himself to be in Barras' column is ripe to be toppled.'
Harry Jaffe profiles new UDC hoops coach and ex-Bullet Jeff Ruland. 'How did Ruland, an NBA all-star with the 1983 Washington Bullets, become the UDC coach?...UDC Athletic Director Patricia Thomas was looking for a basketball coach. A mutual friend suggested she call Ruland. He came down to talk to Thomas and new UDC President Allen Sessoms. "I wanted to see whether they were behind the program," Ruland says....Ruland liked what he heard from UDC's Sessoms. He took a five-year deal. "A lot of things have been neglected here," he says. "The new president wants to make a statement, academically and athletically. I was blown away."'
Blade covers Monday's gay marriage hearings, marriage recognition rulemaking, closing of 14th Street sex club, Jim Graham giving up taxi oversight, and city probe of AIDS funding, noting that 'Department of Health officials changed...HIV/AIDS Administration to HIV/AIDS Hepatitis STD & Tuberculosis Administration....Local AIDS activist Raymond Blanks, who monitors city funding of community-based AIDS groups, said he is concerned that the merger of other disease prevention and treatment programs with the city's AIDS office might be premature. "Why give an agency already in trouble more responsibilities before it gets its own house in order?" Blanks said.'
WCP's Amanda Hess makes the case for D.C. to keep domestic partnerships if gay marriage is legalized. '[F]or some couples, both gay and straight, the symbolic implications of marriage are precisely what turn them off to the institution. For these people, domestic partnerships have functioned not as a vestige of inequality—a poor substitute for marriage—but rather as a welcome legal alternative, minus the cultural hang-ups. These couples should be allowed the option to secure the rights and benefits of marriage without associating with what has been, for centuries, a bigotry sh*t-show.'
WAMU-FM's Jamila Bey covers fear of flu vaccines among African-Americans. Meanwhile, Petula Dvorak covers swine-flu anxiety among affluent moms. 'Our federal agencies might have been slow to talk about HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and a bevy of other health concerns in years past. But this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been so aggressive and effective in convincing Americans that they need the H1N1 vaccine that ordinarily reasonable parents are running around like a bunch of jonesing addicts looking for their next fix....A clinic in Arlington County that had vaccine on Wednesday was "packed, people camping out in every corner and by the elevators," according to posts on a flu forum created on the D.C. Urban Moms Web site.' And WTTG-TV reports long lines last night at Eliot-Hine MS.
WaPo's Michael Rosenwald profiles the guy who whipped D.C.'s Wikipedia entry into shape. When Adam Lewis checked the page last year, he 'didn't like what he found. There was misinformation and missing information, and the page had been demoted from "good article" status, meaning a group of experienced Wikipedia editors thought the page was shoddy.' So he fixed it! 'Lewis wanted the D.C. page to present the city as a city, not just the U.S. capital, a goal in line with the wishes of many Washingtonians. To that end, Lewis has made sure the page includes a good deal of information about the city's demographics.'
Five D.C. charter schools are partnering with five British schools, WAMU-FM reports, to 'discuss curricula, social challenges and similar experiences in the classroom.'
Argument on 1200 block of Savannah Street SE leads to lockdown of Malcolm X ES.
Stolen van crashes into home on 2600 block of Martin Luther King Avenue SE.
Early morning carjacking chase ends in far Northeast.
NC8: 'Man Goes to Checkers After Being Shot'
Northwest man rescued from window well after three hours: 'He fell in before sunrise Thursday morning after chasing his cat out the front door of his Western Avenue home....The man fell through a plastic cover then got stuck in the five-foot-deep basement window well. A medical condition prevented him from being able to call out for help.'
Dulles terminal train unlikely to be ready for anticipated December debut, WaPo reports. '[A] spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, cited "testing delays" on the part of Sumitomo Corp. of America, which shares a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to design, build and operate the $1.4 billion AeroTrain.' The 'mobile lounges' live!
Wachovia settles with DISB over the 'allegations the firm's dealers misled investors about the safety of the [auction-rate securities] market.' Settlement includes a $311K fine.
Fairfax County City? Probably not gonna happen.
NC8 covers disability-services law rewrite.
Man gets three years in federal pen for pirating software and selling it on eBay. Gregory W. Fair, prosecutors say, perpetrated an 'assault on the economic health and continued viability of the victim corporations.'
GWBOT tries to make carbon offsets a local affair. 'The Board of Trade will accept carbon offset payments from companies interested in reducing their carbon footprint, then buy materials and find contractors and volunteers to put the money to good use locally, where its environmental impact can be measured and the receiving projects verified....The CarbonCut effort parallels an initiative by the District government, which is preparing a request for proposals to implement a citywide carbon offset program.'
FDIC data: Bank of America overtakes Wachovia as the area's largest bank, WBJ reports. And Chevy Chase Bank moved past SunTrust Bank for third place.
Cheh serves on military law commission recommending an end to ban on sodomy.
ANOTHER WHITE-SHOE MASSACRE—WilmerHale cuts 57 staffers, mostly in D.C. and Boston.
ALERT—Howard U. homecoming this weekend! Navigate lower Georgia Avenue with care.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—9:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-5 ('MPD Command Staff Appointment Act of 2009'), B18-130 ('Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2009'), and B18-425 ('Disorderly Conduct Amendment of 2009'), JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee of the Whole roundtable on 'The Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Warehouse System,' JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—11:15 a.m.: remarks, Fairlawn Marshall ribbon-cutting, 2700 Q St. SE.