Michelle Rhee Gets Engaged: Loose Lips Daily
Morning all. Reliable Source with the scoop! D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is engaged to Sacramento mayor/ex-Phoenix Sun Kevin Johnson. 'Rhee, 39, spoke Wednesday night at a Democrats for Education Reform/DC School Reform Now event downtown, and a pretty sparkly thing on her left hand caught the eye of more than one audience member.' So transcontinental power couple, rad. But what does that mean for Rhee's continued tenure here in D.C.—the two Fenty terms she promised to serve? 'Rhee told us she's not leaving D.C. They plan on a long engagement — no wedding date set, and none envisioned in the near term — and will keep this a commuter relationship for a while.' (Also WRC-TV.) Sooo...when LL saw KJ in the JAWB last Friday, was he asking Hizzoner for permission to take his chancellor's hand in marriage? JK—best LL wishes to the happy couple!
AFTER THE JUMP—Complete rundown of contract hearing antics; another possible Ward 1 candidate pops up; WaPo ed board tsk-tsks over UDC board fighting; Lanier says marriage debate may have prompted GU attacks; father of Bowman daughter sues District for wrongful death; and OCTOgate nears a conclusion
LL tweeted much of yesterday's hearing on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's questionable parks contract scheme. From other reports: Procurement chief David Gragan told councilmembers that he wouldn't use the one-step 'RFQ' process used to award the Banneker Ventures contract (as opposed to a two-step RFQ/RFP process, Nikita Stewart writes in WaPo, adding that 'Larry Dwyer, director of the authority's Office of Planning and Development, told council members Thursday that he met with two officials from the deputy mayor's office: David Jannarone, chief operating officer, and Jacquelyn Glover, a project manager. Dwyer said they wanted to know whether the process could be speeded up.' Jeffrey Anderson notes in WaTimes that several executive witnesses were no-shows, including acting parks chief Ximena Hartsock and DMPED Valerie Santos (who did send an excusal letter). That led hearing chair Harry Thomas Jr. to issue subpoenas. Also see Jonathan O'Connell's coverage at WBJ, where he notes: 'Does Fenty get the absolute best possible deal for the city when he brokers these agreements? Probably not. None of the dozens of unused public properties he is trying to sell will get a great price in this market (not to mention the convention center hotel protest). But once the credit markets are revived, they have a good chance to get started.' And WTTG-TV notes that Michael Brown has asked D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols to investigate. DCist notes a flip-flop there.
NOTE—No one mentions the most shocking portion of the hearing, where soon-to-be-ex-Peaceoholics honcho and mayoral buddy Ron Moten showed up to testify, slammed Vincent Gray and other CMs, prompting Gray to show up and go all native Washingtonian on his be-hind, demanding that Moten repeat his accusations to his face and under oath. Moten refused, leading to a standoff of sorts before he slinked off.
LAUGH LINE OF THE DAY—Marion Barry: 'Any mayor that believes in transparency would come down here and answer questions. Sharon Pratt Kelly would've come down here. Anthony Williams would've come down here. I would've come down here.'
Examiner's Michael Neibauer covers possible challenges to Ward 1 CM Jim Graham: He notes, as LL did Tuesday, that Adams Morgan ANCer Bryan Weaver has filed exploratory papers. He adds in rumors that ex-school board member Jeff Smith, now executive director of the D.C. VOICE nonprofit, is considering a run. Smith's comments to Neibauer (why didn't you return LL's calls?): 'I'd be lying if I said it wasn't something I was going to be thinking about over the holidays.'
WaPo editorial board wants Fenty and Gray to quit their 'gamesmanship' over UDC board nominations. Indeed, they are 'playing political chicken' with the university, and '[t]hat is a real shame, because for the first time in its troubled history, UDC is showing hopeful signs of progress.' The paper lays on this kinda-gotcha: 'Mr. Gray has rightly criticized the mayor, on other matters, for disrespecting the role of the council and not following procedure, so it's ironic that he has refused to give Mr. Fenty's nominees the hearing they are owed and a straight up-or-down vote.' Never mind that they were poorly qualified; 'the executive's right to select the people he thinks are best is most appropriately vetted in an open confirmation process.' But remember: 'Mr. Fenty and Mr. Gray may be political rivals, with Mr. Gray considering a mayoral challenge, but as the city's top leaders they have a responsibility to end this unsavory stalemate.'
OCTOGATE NEARS END—Yusuf Acar, the alleged mastermind behind the city tech office contracting scandal, is likely to plead guilty, Scott McCabe reports in Examiner. 'Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a "criminal information," which typically indicates that a plea deal has been worked out because the document can't be filed without the consent of the defendant. According to the court filing, Acar would pay back more than $200,000 in stolen money, including $69,000 in cash that was seized at his Northwest Washington home at the time of his arrest. Acar, the scheme's alleged mastermind, is being held at the D.C. Jail. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.'
WAMU's Patrick Madden noted this morning that People's Counsel Elizabeth Noel will not be reappointed by Fenty. She had run afoul of Pepco on recent rulings on faulty meters; no explanation was forthcoming from Hizzoner. No link yet.
Phil Mendelson warns FEMS Chief Dennis Rubin that his overtime spending is out of control, Examiner reports. Rubin is spending so fast, says Mendo, 'that he will blow through his overtime budget halfway through the fiscal year....Rubin told the council's public safety committee, chaired by Mendelson, that the department's problems were caused by "the vicious cycle of vacancies, followed by overtime, followed by frozen vacancies, followed by more overtime."'
MPD Chief Cathy Lanier tells WTOP listeners that the Georgetown University anti-gay assaults 'may have been motivated by the same sex marriage debate.' Police continue to investigate. Her quote: 'Whenever there's an issue that's getting a lot of attention, there may be something that's sparking these assaults...Certainly that's something we are looking at.'
ALSO—Lanier is making a star turn of sorts in Michael Baldacci's latest potboiler, WTOP's Michelle Basch reports. 'In the book, D.C. Police Chief Beth Perry owns a blind dog. Chief Lanier says that detail has "amazing similarity" to her own life. She owns five blind dogs, and some are deaf as well. What does Lanier think about the use of that detail in the book? "I think it just shows that police officers are human too, and we love our dogs, and I think the compassion that drives us to do this job also shows in our private lives."'
WBJ's Melissa Castro follows up on her D.C. procurement story last week, covering efforts by local small businesses to oppose reform legislation. 'They oppose D.C.’s proposed Procurement Efficiency Act of 2009. That too is an obscure name, but the bill’s impact seems clear enough to the coalition’s members: The bill would give the Office of Contracting and Procurement wider and virtually unreviewable discretion to do business with companies of its choosing — preferably on a long-term basis....The full explanation is complex, but there’s a simple aphorism that explains why fewer local companies are winning contracts. It is a concept that has driven the trajectory of the American economy over the past two decades: It’s cheaper to outsource.'
ALSO IN WBJ—Bryant Ruiz Switzky covers possible problems for Morton Bender's attempts to merge Independence Federal Savings Bank with his Colombo Bank.
WaPo's Bill Turque does his usual thorough and excellent job covering yesterday's Superior Court hearing on the WTU's layoffs lawsuit against DCPS. Judge Judith Bartnoff says she'll rule next week. 'While it's always risky business to predict how a judge might rule based on the tone and tenor of her questions, Bartnoff sent some pretty serious signals that she didn't think much of the union's case. She made it clear from the outset that this would not be an exercise in second-guessing Rhee's decision. "There may be a lot of people around who want to run the school system. I'm not one of them," said Bartnoff, a 1994 Clinton appointee to the bench who ruled against Roy Pearson in the famous $54 million "lost pants" case.'
More on how Metro might fix the 37-year-old power unit that melted down on Wednesday. Kytja Weir reports in Examiner that 'replacement equipment could take as long as six months to install, and agency officials said Thursday they couldn't guarantee that more problems were not going to occur in the meantime as they depended on the old, jury-rigged equipment....The failure highlighted the growing list of costly repairs the cash-strapped agency needs to keep the system running. It also spooked officials and riders about the vulnerability of the system.'
ALSO—Metro is fighting to fend off a 3-percent pay hike for union employees ordered by an arbitrator on Wednesday. 'The panel called for giving the union members a lump sum payment for last year equivalent to 2 percent of annual salaries, then 3 percent raises for each of the next three years. The agency agreed to pay the $8.6 million lump sum, but said Thursday it planned to appeal the raises, which would cost $96 million over four years. "We think the panel ignored the law," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. "If they were following the letter of that law, they would have known we are facing a budget gap."' Also WaPo.
Father of one of Renee Bowman's daughters, murdered and placed in a freezer, files wrongful death lawsuit against the District, AP reports. 'The suit filed Oct. 22 by Michael Muhammad of Temple Hills, Md., seeks $75 million in damages. It alleges that the D.C. government and adoption agency failed to protect his daughter from an unfit mother.'
Harry Jaffe pens a 'tale of two cities' column about unemployment figures. 'In Ward 8, east of the Anacostia River, nearly a third of the work force was without a job in September. Reaching a new high, the number of unemployed hit 28.3 percent. But in Ward 3, which I often refer to as Upper Caucasia [just you, Harry?], the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent. The white folks who live in Chevy Chase, American University Park, Friendship Heights and Spring Valley are doing quite well, thank you very much....Why? We are always tempted to throw up our hands and blame poverty and health care and drugs and the various ills of urban life. I am with Kwame Brown.' More job training!
IN THE BLADE—Coverage of Monday's second gay marriage hearing; Office of Police Complaints recommendation that cop be prosecuted for arrest; Georgetown anti-gay attacks; wrapup of Stein Club awards reception; D.C. Council honors for Desi Deschaine; unveiling of Capital Pride 2010; and an obit for Larry Stansbury, co-founder of Brother Help Thyself, who died at 61.
WCP's Ruth Samuelson notes at Housing Complex that city agencies headed to 225 Virginia Ave. SE will bring some life to Capital Riverfront area, as well as a new restauarant.
Pennsylvania Avenue SE between 27th Street and Southern Avenue to get stimulus-funded facelift. Ovetta Wiggins reports in WaPo that $30M will buy 'a median, new curbs, a gutter, pavement, landscaping and upgraded utilities,' not to mention 'improvement of signal operations and the construction of three rain gardens.'
Chevy Chase speed humps are 'dangerous,' neighbors tell NC8.
With more H1N1 vaccine headed out to other providers, the District is scaling back their vaccination clinics, Michael Laris reports in WaPo. 'Saturday's clinics will have an earlier closing time of 1 p.m., not 4 p.m. Tuesday's clinics at Coolidge High School and McKinley Technology High School have been canceled, as has the Nov. 14 clinic at Wilson High School. Other clinics next week will continue, although three vaccination clinics Nov. 14 will also close at 1 p.m.'
Police are searching for Darrell Glover, 26, who allegedly shot four on Oct. 24 after being accused of stealing an Xbox video game console. 'Glover, a resident of Southeast, is believed to be hiding out somewhere there or in the Northeast quadrant of the city' and 'is described as a black male, 6-feet-1-inches tall and 250 pounds with short hair.'
Age discrimination? Bah! In WaPo letter, 53-year-old explains that she was gladly hired by Rhee. 'My age never seemed to be an issue at any point in the process. The primary question directed to me was whether I could produce results. Could I teach special education students in new and creative ways and help them become academically successful?'
Robert Wone case update: Legal Times reports that defense lawyers 'filed court papers this week saying that the government attorneys should be forbidden to say anything about torture and sexual abuse'—so-called 'uncharged conduct.' Status hearing this afternoon. See also WMRW?, of course.
D.C. Court of Appeals resurrects blockbuster cell-phone radiation case, NLJ reports.
Georgetown trolley tracks set for repair—finally!
Ellen London has been named interim director of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp., Susie Cambria reports.
DCist wants Hizzoner to fight crime. Like, literally.
Think tank lauds elections bill.
Amtrak officially out as VRE operator. (Eleanor Holmes Norton is not pleased, BTW, issuing a press release decrying the switch to French company Keolis.)
Blogger notes that DCPS is "Covering Their Class-Actions, i.e., looking for 'a "high energy problem solver" who can "effectively deal with and provide solutions to complex EEO cases and issues."'
Ward 3 supermarket controversy. Nope, not that one.
Weekend Metro delays on Orange, Blue, and Yellow lines.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—No public events scheduled.