City Desk

First Anniversary Edition: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'David Catania Gives Harry Jackson a History Lesson'; 'Nickles: Parks Contracts Are OK After All'

Morning all! Today marks the one-year anniversary of Loose Lips Daily. LL finds it hard to believe that he's already sacrificed 12 months' worth of early mornings and late nights—through an election, an inauguration, scandals, and tragedies—to bring LLD readers the finest local political aggregation in town. In any case, hearty and heartfelt thanks to you, the more than 1,400 readers who have signed up for the LLD e-mail and the thousands more who have been reading at City Desk since that first, surprisingly short edition.

AFTER THE JUMP—First parks contracts are illegal, then they aren't; same-sex marriage hearings galore (or gay-lore?); Rhee explains mass teacher hirings; crime lab gets the go-ahead; planning director walks the walk; Graham tries hand at (intentional) comedy

Here's an about-face you could have seen coming: Attorney General Peter Nickles has ruled, to the contrary of his finding publicized Friday, that the millions in parks contracts sent through the D.C. Housing Authority are in fact legal and do not need to come back to the D.C. Council for approval. Nikita Stewart reports in WaPo that Nickles cited 'legal problems with nullifying past and current agreements' and that the 'apparent reversal enraged council members already angered by what they see as the Fenty administration's continued disregard for the council's role in legislating and overseeing city agencies.' Says Kwame Brown, 'That's classic Peter Nickles. This is just bad government 101.' Says Harry Thomas Jr.: 'I guess we're just going to have to go to court.' About time! Also WTTG-TV, DCist.

MEANWHILE—Mayor Adrian M. Fenty floats along in his bizarro world: 'This is the best council we've ever had!!!' [punctuation LL's]; citing, 'custom,' Fenty won't be attending Thursday's DCPS RIF hearing; and councilmembers remain upset over Hartsock reappointment, with Mary Cheh telling NC8, 'By smuggling her back in with a new label, it doesn't change the fact that we disapproved her service.' Given where this debate has been, probably not the best verbiage there, councilmember.

PROCUREMENT CORNER—From WaPo: 'Privately, Fenty supporters questioned whether Nickles hastily issued his opinion Friday and erred in his statements about the contracts. The city could have a major legal problem on its hands, said experts in procurement law. They said the contracts can be considered "void ab initio," meaning they are voided because they violated city law....The city has faced the issue previously, said Keith D. Coleman, a former legal adviser in the city's Office of Contracting and Procurement. He said the city could void the contracts and pay vendors for services rendered. The vendors "didn't know the District government didn't follow procedure," Coleman said. "They're innocent bystanders, so to speak."'

A super double dose of hearings yesterday for gay marriage partisans. You had the morning session in front of the Board of Elections and Ethics, which seemed no more likely to allow a vote on marriage matters than it did earlier this year. That, of course, means that gay marriage opponents will be turning to activist judges for relief. Tim Craig reports in WaPo, national conservative groups are 'preparing a multi-prong legal strategy to tie up the issue in the courts for months,' including pursuit of the claim 'that the federal Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriage applies to the city.' This is, after all, the 'biggest public policy issue of our time,' in the words of Bishop Harry Jackson.

Then starting late in the afternoon, Phil Mendelson and other councilmembers heard 100 witnesses testify on the issue, most of them in favor. Others, according to Michael Neibauer in Examiner, called the legislators 'reckless, feckless and just irresponsible to an ungodly fault.' LL did a little Tweeting. Also Examiner, WaTimes, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV, plus AU law prof Nancy Polikoff and Blade on the fate of DPs.

YOU PROBABLY MISSED THIS—The final two speakers of the evening were, um, notable. The penultimate speaker, says blogger, 'suggested using taking children to the zoo to watch animals having sex as an example of moral standards.' And here's some tidbits from the final speaker, courtesy of Metro Weekly: 'Who among you is searching for the word of Almighty God? You, who have decided to live worse than the dogs. Who among you would allow your male dog to lie with a male dog? My God is about reproduction.' There's video!

Washington & Lee law professor argues in WaPo that the gay marriage bill's religious freedom protections are 'woefully inadequate and provide protection that is more illusory than real,' writing that the language 'provides no meaningful protection against a loss of government benefits for refusing to recognize same-sex marriages,' 'provides no meaningful protection for individual dissenters (other than authorized celebrants) who have a religious objection to facilitating same-sex marriage ceremonies, such as caterers, musicians and photographers,' and 'provides no meaningful protection to religious organizations from private lawsuits under the city's anti-discrimination laws.'

Michelle Rhee, in the latest edition of the DCPS newsletter, ventures an explanation as to why 934 teachers were hired earlier this year, explaining that 'she had "full budgetary authority" from the council for filling the jobs' and noting that the 'hiring grew from a decision, also approved by the council, to change the way schools were staffed and "to push more money" away from the central office bureaucracy and toward the classroom.' She also, writes Bill Turque at D.C. Wire, assured teachers that 'not...all DCPS former staff were poor educators.'

ALSO FROM TURQUE—WTU seeks injunction to keep RIF'd teachers on the DCPS payroll pending Nov. 5 hearing. And national teachers union leaders, Arne Duncan point to New Haven, Conn., contract as model of labor-management cooperation. Says Randi Weingarten, 'Because of the respect and trust between the union and the city, the negotiating parties were able to agree to innovative reforms that will be good for students and fair to teachers. The process was collaborative, cooperative and could become a national model.' How much of a model is up for debate.

Construction of the new crime lab can move forward, Bill Myers reports in Examiner, after Contract Appeals Board rules that city agreement followed all the rules. 'Tompkins Builders had claimed it could offer a crime lab cheaper and faster than rival Whiting-Turning Contracting Co., but D.C.'s contract appeals board ruled against it...."We probably are just going to let it lie," Tompkins Vice President George Kreis told The Examiner.'

Another traffic camera story, from Examiner's Scott McCabe: The District made $36.4M in fiscal 2009 from the machines. Cue outraged AAA spokesperson!

Virtually the only titan of high finance in the District is no more: Allied Capital, after 50 years in business, has been bought by New York's Ares Capital for $648M. Bloomberg: 'Allied's auditors earlier this year said they had "doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern."..."This is the end of the Allied story," said Greg Mason, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. "Essentially, Allied had a broken balance sheet."' The buyout has already spawned a shareholder investigation, WBJ reports.

Three men are shot Monday night near 23rd Street and Savannah Terrace; one is dead.

The man shot dead by police early Saturday in Petworth is identified as Jamaal Grant, 23. 'Police said Grant was among three to five men who were tampering with a the 700 block of Randolph Street NW when officers arrived to investigate,' WaPo reports. 'The men fled, and as officers were chasing them, Grant brandished a handgun in the 4100 block of Eighth Street NW and pointed it at the officers.'

MLK Memorial gets final approval from NCPC, Michael Ruane reports in WaPo. 'There were tears in the audience when the capital's federal planning agency voiced its unanimous approval at a specially arranged meeting....The project has weathered several storms. It was criticized when organizers picked a sculptor in China to execute the design. Then the original sculpture of King was assailed as too "confrontational" by the Federal Commission of Fine Arts and had to be reworked slightly. The project later stalled amid debate over how much security is needed at the site.' A NPS building permit for the site on the Tidal Basin is expected within days. Also WBJ.

WBJ's Jonathan O'Connell offers kudos for planning director Harriet Tregoning and her car-free ways. 'I interviewed Tregoning last Thursday about her efforts to promote temporary urbanism and learned we would be attending the same meeting on plans for Walter Reed that evening. Walter Reed is nowhere near the Metro. But on my way up to the meeting, standing there alone on the side of 14th Street in Brightwood, at 6:45 in the evening, was Tregoning. At a bus stop. In the dark....The office of planning can be a serious obstacle to developers who would add parking to their projects. No doubt that’s because there’s a true believer on top.'

Jim Graham performed with 'culler of money' Matthew Lesko at Lincoln Theater comedy fest. LL is told by source with taste that they were unbearably bad.

Cops still seeking Northeast taxi bandit. Also WTOP.

Josh Edelman, former D.C. SEED school head, is working for Rhee after stint heading Chicago charter schools.

Chinatown mural not Chinese enough.

WaPo circulation down. Again.

Former AUSA fights his bar suspension.

Humane Society honcho, in WaPo letter, salutes Mary Cheh wildlife bill. 'With Ms. Cheh's leadership, Washington could become a pacesetter in establishing humane approaches to urban wildlife.'

JOB LISTING—'Employer: Executive Office of the DC Mayor
Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Job Type: Communications/P.R.
Description: Mayor’s press office seeks motivated, self-starter to write materials on a variety of policy subjects such as press releases, reports, pamphlets and speeches. Ideal candidates should have 2-5years media relations experience with an interest in government. Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of writing and editing techniques and must be highly skilled in oral and written communication to develop a variety of formats that effectively communicate information about programs, activities and functions. Campaign experience is a plus....Applicants must reside in the District of Columbia. How to apply: Send your resume to, subject line should be the title of the position for which you are applying.'

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—1 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment roundtable on 'Implementation of the Weatherization Assistance Program,' JAWB 123; 2 p.m.: Committee on Economic Development meeting on B18-332 ('Department of Small and Local Business Development Amendment Act of 2009') and B18-304 ('Affordable Housing For-Sale and Rental Distribution Amendment Act of 2009'), JAWB 120.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10:45 a.m.: remarks, Northwest One development agreement announcement, North Capitol and M Streets NE.

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  • Dave McKenna

    Only one year old, but already an institution. happy b-day, MdB!

  • Tired of the BS

    First there is a contract, then there is no contract, then there is one. Cool, Peter Nickles as Donovan. All he needs is a pair of finger cymbals.

  • Will Sommer

    The Jim Graham - Matthew Lesko video

    Money lines:

    Can I be frank with you?

    As long as I can still be Jim!

  • candycane1

    Congratulations LL: I've truly enjoyed your work since signing-up. Keep it up! Lovin ya!

  • WardQueen

    "Jim Graham performed with ‘culler of money‘ Matthew Lesko at Lincoln Theater comedy fest.
    Perhaps this is the answer to "Taxi Cash" Graham's post-prison job worries. Both he and Lesko have made an artform out of how to extract money from government, of course Lesko's methods are mostly legal. "Taxi Cash" could be billed as kind of the dark side of Mattyhew Lesko, the very dark ,sleezy, amoral, side.

  • Truth Hurts

    Proud to be one of LL's early email subscribers. You've done a great job of rounding up the news and providing links to the full stories.

  • Daddy Grace FIsh Sandwich

    Happy Anniversary LL. You're one of the few local journalist left with guts, i.e. you're no one's beeyotch!

    Take notice Barbara Harrison, Tim Craig, Nikkita Stewart and WAPO editorial board!

  • Truth Hurts

    @Daddy Grace: So I'm not the only one who can't stand Nikita "i love one city vince gray" Stewart's so called reporting. Maybe there's hope after all.