Suburban Jealousy Edition: Loose Lips Daily
Greetings all. LL wore gray yesterday. Gray sweater, gray corduroys. Not in honor of our council chairman, no—in honor of the slush that stands to dominate our lives for days to come. WaPo's Ashley Halsey III notes how the 'majesty of a major snowstorm began to wear thin for all but schoolchildren.' And yet, there is something to celebrate, per Halsey: 'The District was leading in the street-clearing effort, reporting that most of the major work had been done and that crews would tackle missed streets and revisit some that had been plowed early in the storm. Montgomery County plows were tackling neighborhoods in the most densely populated areas. It might be Wednesday before the first path is opened into some Northern Virginia neighborhoods, and Prince George's County was bedeviled by ice.' And GET THIS citizen comment: 'Arlington has the worst snow-removal plan I've seen....I've yet to see any snowplows come through any of the streets in my neighborhood, but Arlington will not take removal requests like D.C. will, nor do they have a handy map that shows what streets have been cleared already.' CORRECT—that is an Arlington resident wishing that they had the District's city services. DC.gov FTW!
AFTER THE JUMP—Lanier takes gun-pulling snowball cop to woodshed; Petula Dvorak, not so much; shoveled parking spaces—to save or not to save; censorship battle over Metro ads; Obama in Northeast; is Metro in a 'death spiral'?
MORE SNOW NEWS—Examiner's Michael Neibauer notes that DPW 'issued 1,179, $250 parking tickets and towed 214 vehicles during the 48-hour snow emergency' and that 'fine revenue for the two days could top $316,000.' Also WaTimes, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV. Trash and recycling collection are back!
My God, is this a great day in municipal governance. Police Chief Cathy Lanier made no bones about the fact that snowball-gun cop—now identified, thanks to Jason Cherkis, as one Detective Michael Baylor, 30-year veteran of the force—was out of line in unholstering his weapon on Saturday in response to a couple of snowballs being thrown at his Hummer. Wrote the chief, per WaPo: 'Let me be very clear in stating that I believe the actions of the officer were totally inappropriate! [EXCLAMATION POINT NOT LL'S!]....In no way, should he have handled the situation in this manner. We have taken swift action by placing him on non-contact status until all the facts are gathered and discipline is handed down.' (Full statement.) Also WTOP, WUSA-TV, AP, which notes that 'the detective's badge and weapon have been withdrawn.' Here's to managerial realism!
Meanwhile, WaPo columnist Petula Dvorak goes deep—very deep—on the incident: 'What happened at the intersection of 14th and U streets Saturday afternoon wasn't just about a snowball fight and a road-raging cop. It was a complicated passion play about the District, its neighborhoods and the chasm that sometimes gapes wide between its people. In this scenario, no one was right....When Detective Mike Baylor's maroon Humvee crunched the snow with its massive all-terrain tires, it was a tantalizing mark. Splat! Lots of splat. So much splat that Baylor got of the car and drew his gun. And that was a really bad thing to do....As for the snowball snipers, they've gotten their YouTube glory. But the place to have a snowball fight wasn't 14th and U, where many native Washingtonians remember the 1968 riots as well as the historic election 20 years later, a place where people were trying to get to work in the snow, walking in tire tracks with grocery bags rubber-banded around their feet. Sorry if not all of them saw the joy in the moment.'
The WaPo editorial board offers well deserved kudos to District snowfighters, who made sure that the city 'opened for business as usual.' They add: 'It's a sign of how far the District has come that its leaders were being praised for doing a better job than their suburban counterparts in clearing the streets. Certainly, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, service-minded as always as he worked around the clock, gets credit, but so do his predecessors in the executive and legislative branches who had the wisdom to invest in proper snow-fighting equipment.' But a tsk-tsk for Baylor. 'Alas, no camera was on hand to record the two D.C. police officers who shoveled out a car so a needed city employee could get to work, or the hundreds of men and women who worked 12-hour and sometimes longer shifts to plow streets, spread salt, clean Metro rail lines or operate emergency phones. They—and the many people who looked out for their neighbors or did good deeds for strangers—are the real story of this historic storm.'
LL WILL ENTERTAIN A LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION TO THIS—You're not allowed to mark the parking space you worked so hard to dig out, says DDOT's Gabe Klein to WTOP! 'You cannot use public space for private use unless it is designated for that purpose....The only time when that would be OK is if you have one of those designated handicap spaces, and there aren't a lot of them.' WTTG-TV also covers this issue. Easy fix: You should be able to do so during a snow emergency and 48 hours thereafter. Get on it, Jim Graham—earn your 2010 LL endorsement!
Sadly, the Blizzard of 2009 has turned deadly: A woman has died from burns suffered in a fire in a vacant rowhouse last night, WaPo reports. 'The woman, who has not been identified, was found by firefighers who searched the home in the 900-block of Kennedy Street NW, said Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer. She was treated by paramedics at the scene and later died at Washington Hospital Center.'
BREAKING—A pedestrian is dead, struck after a car jumped the sidewalk after a two-vehicle crash at Rhode Island Avenue and 12th Street NE.
The city has filed a brief in support of a motion to dismiss the latest legal move to force a popular vote on gay marriage. The suit filed in Superior Court argues that the Human Rights Act can't place limits on ballot initiatives, Legal Times reports. 'The 46-page document, filed the same day [Fenty] signed a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the District, argues that that D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics was right when it rejected the initiative...the OAG argued that the Human Rights Act trumped the right to propose initiatives.' Hearing set in front of Judge Judith Macaluso on Jan. 6. Metro Weekly also covers, and GLAA Forum has the full brief and press release.
ALSO—There's been a bit of a behind-the-scenes battle over Metro ads bought by Harry Jackson's Stand4Marriage group. One small gay-rights group was agitating to have Metro reject the ads; virtually all other, saner GLBT groups realized this was a bad, bad idea. GLAA Forum has the correspondence.
EMTs are called to Northeast row house on 1200 block of Farragut Place NE, then 'retreat' when they find a gun on the premises; the man was arrested on a weapons charge.
Is Metro in the 'death spiral' that former GM Richard White warned about? Kytja Weir reports in Examiner that 2009 'has shown ominous signs that such a downward spiral may be under way. Deadly safety failures, crumbling stations, financial troubles and dropping ridership are colliding in what the current general manager has called a "perfect storm."' Plus solutions for pulling out of it.
ALSO—Catoe notes to Weir, reviewing WMATA's year: 'Lightning struck here in Washington on our system....We're not the only ones to have an aging system. ... But it happened here. It happened at the time that I was running the system.' And she consults former board member T. Dana Kauffman, who 'said the recent firings were telling as Catoe canned handpicked staff members, some of whom are his friends.' Weir also notes that 'Metro put into place some key lessons learned from the last major snowstorm when the flakes started to fall this weekend,' shutting down above-ground service nice and early so trains wouldn't get stuck as they did in 2003.
Housing Complex looks at the early days of the Don Peebles real estate empire, as told by Peebles himself in his book.
Obama does Northeast: POTUS makes a surprise visit to the Richard England Clubhouse and Community Center on Benning Road NE. Reports WaPo: 'The president spent about 25 minutes at the facility, a Boys & Girls Club, according to a pool report. He arrived with cookies in the shape of the first dog, Bo; gingerbread men; maple leaves; and Christmas trees for the 27 children at the club.' He also read from 'The Polar Express.' Also NC8, WRC-TV, ABC News.
Can any Superior Court judge preside over a fair trial for the woman accused of stalking one of their colleagues? Taylar Nuevelle's lawyer says no, wants the judge-stalking case removed to federal court, Legal Times reports, whether Magistrate Judge Janet Albert doesn't have so many friends.
American Prospect covers the end of the D.C. abortion rider, calling it a 'rare win in the ongoing battle to secure reproductive rights.'
Darryl Fears reports in WaPo on the Holiday for Hope celebration for 120 homeless children organized by Dreams for Kids. 'The weekend snowstorm tried to play Grinch, and it succeeded in keeping many of the children away. Two buses that were supposed to pick up children at several homeless shelters and transitional apartments became stuck in ice. And one shelter shut its doors for the day before transportation could arrive. It was a triumph that even 30 children reached the Foundry Building in Georgetown....The trouble was worth it.' The Great Zucchini was there!
Interesting stuff in this Detroit News interview with Robert Bobb and Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former Cleveland superintendent who used to advise Michelle Rhee and now advises Bobb. Check this exchange:
[Reporter]: The new contract seems to be creating a purgatory for low-performing teachers in High Priority schools. They will be called "teachers at-large." Is that accurate?
Byrd-Bennett: You mean a rubber room? I think there's a place for a rubber room. I've had this conversation with Michelle (Rhee, who leads the Washington, D.C., public schools). ... The question is, what do you do with bad teachers?
Bobb: We had a huge debate internally about this. At the end of the day, we don't expect a lot of "at-large teachers." ... They will only be able to apply for a position if there is a vacancy. They cannot bump someone else out. I consider this an evolutionary contract when you compare it to other district nationally. ... But for Detroit—and I emphasize this, for Detroit—this is revolutionary."
DCPS surveys are in, Leah Fabel reports in Examiner: 'Nearly 70 percent of teachers agreed that "the principal at my school is an effective manager who makes the school run smoothly," up from 63 percent in 2007-08. About 84 percent of students said that the principal "sets high standards for student learning," up from 80 percent one year earlier.' BUT: 'More teachers also were satisfied with the amount of classroom materials and resources, though overall satisfaction remains low. About 59 percent of teachers agreed that supplies were adequate in 2009, up from 53 percent in 2008.'
U.S. News with the scoop: 'D.C. Schools Chief Michelle Rhee Fights Union Over Teacher Pay'
Not sure if this has any bearing on local D.C., but here you go: WaPo Federal Diary covers conflict on DOMA vs. federal benefits for same-sex couples.
Commuter bus catches fire near L'Enfant Plaza.
WaTimes will stop Sunday edition after this weekend.
Big snowfall: Watch your back!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—No public events scheduled.