City Desk

Snowball Cop Drama Snowballs: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'D.C. Council Gift Grab Time!'; 'Peter Nickles Bars Public On Police Shooting Facts'; 'WaPo Sits on Eyewitness Account on Snowball Gun Incident'; 'Obama Calls WTOP, Delays Traffic and Weather'; tweets galore!

Morning all. The civic debate of the day continues to be over the conduct of Detective Michael Baylor, the cop who indeed brought a gun to a snowball fight. On Monday, you'll recall, Police Chief Cathy Lanier publicly criticized Baylor's behavior in a written statement, complete with exclamation point. Early in the day yesterday, police union honcho Kristopher Baumann fired back, accusing the chief of prejudging the guy. And in today's Examiner, Harry Jaffe joins the innocent-until-proven-guilty chorus, writing: 'Perhaps Mike Baylor did act in a rash manner. But why pass judgment before any facts are in?' LL, for one, is in the corner of Lanier, who appeared on NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt yesterday and responded to the criticism. She explained that Baylor plainly didn't follow department policy, which is for off-duty cops to call in on-duty cops. And then the coup de grace: 'I can't say it's going to be a difficult investigation....I'd have to be blind not to comment on the video I saw. So if [Baumann] wants to reserve comment, he certainly can. But I have eyes. I saw the video.'

AFTER THE JUMP—Button-seller can't sell First Amendment argument to judge; IG finds $4M+ wasted on city HDTV studio; two pedestrians killed by out-of-control cars; Dupont charter to shutter; a grand tribute to the man who saved the city from freeways

ALSO—WaPo publishes rambling op-ed from Daniel Schramm, a lawyer falsely accused by Baylor of tossing a snowball at him. Here is the most coherent graf: 'Sovereignty, it is said, is a monopoly on the lawful exercise of force. Perhaps such a belief lay behind the detective's decision to pull his gun in response to snowballs. A better definition, one that will carry us much further in the century ahead, is: the capacity and willingness to enforce the rule of law on all members of society. That means respecting the power of the police to break up a snowball fight at a busy intersection (and detain those, like myself, who they have reason to believe are subverting that authority). But it also means disciplinary consequences for those who abuse the sacred trust bestowed on them, as the detective clearly had, though I hope his career isn't upended for this overreaction.'

Button-seller still has to get a permit, federal judge rules. Frank Enten, 79, argued in court that the District had no right to tell him where to sell his political buttons due to the First Amendment. Judge Paul Friedman didn't buy it, Del Wilber reports in WaPo. 'In a 20-page opinion that rejected Enten's request for a preliminary injunction, the judge ruled that the regulations appeared to be narrowly tailored and not overly burdensome on Enten. The judge noted that Enten didn't need District permission to discuss and display his buttons on street corners — he needs a license and permit only to sell them. "Although he is engaging in protected speech," the judge wrote, "the permitting and licensing scheme appears to be a permissible time, place and manner restriction."'

IG report finds more than $4M wasted on HDTV studio for city cable television office. Both WaPo's Tim Craig and Examiner's Michael Neibauer. Writes Craig: 'The report, released late last week, says the D.C. Office of Cable Television violated procurement policies by issuing a sole-source contract to a start-up company "without adequate justification and reasonable assurance" that the contractor could do the work. In addition to the cost of the contract, which was canceled before the project was completed, the cable TV office bought more than $3 million in new HDTV equipment that was never installed or used.' Named in the report is ex-OCTT director James Brown, who contracted with Mason Production Services to build the studio. That firm's owner, William Todd Mason, says 'he withdrew from the contract in October 2007 because there was too much nonsense from the city's procurement office. "When [Fenty] was sworn into office, a lot of the equipment was already there. And it was too late to stop, and they should have finished it," Mason said. "That would have been the most cost-effective thing. . . . They really did waste money." Mason said...the inspector general's report was "ridiculous" and "political cover" for Fenty.'

Neibauer also reports in Examiner on the Office of Campaign Finance's audit of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. 'The Democrats' committee faces thousands of dollars in fines, perhaps enough to bankrupt the organization, several members said. Each alleged violation, investigators said in a final audit issued this week, will be referred to the OCF general counsel "for any action deemed appropriate." The committee drastically understated its accounts, failed to file its required Jan. 31, 2008, financial statement, and did not report any receipts or expenditures related to the August 2008 Denver convention, auditors say....Philip Pannell, the Democratic committee member who filed the original complaint, said Thursday the problems "start at the top."..."I don't think this was just people being sloppy," Pannell said. "I think this was intentional and deliberate."'

A grand tribute to late attorney Peter Craig from the WaPo editorial board: 'Mr. Craig, with a number of other stubborn, determined and often outraged citizens of the Washington area, helped turn back one ill-advised road project after another in the District nearly a half-century ago, thwarting the will of congressional powers and a good many vested interests to do it. So what you don't see today is a highway bridge swooping into Georgetown at the tranquil place on the Potomac where cormorants gather every spring to do their fishing; a Palisades Parkway along the District shore, a highway through parkland in Northwest Washington and a long-planned North-Central Freeway running through much of the eastern part of the city and over places where thousands of people live. In all, Mr. Craig and his allies succeeded in blocking about three-quarters of the interstate highway system once planned for the District.'

The second pedestrian fatality of the day: A young woman was struck by a Cadillac and killed at a bus stop on the 4000 block of Southern Avenue SE, WTOP reports. 'The driver remained at the scene after the crash. Police are investigating whether or not the driver was under the influence of alcohol.' Also NC8, which adds that 'MPD detectives are investigating but say that the incident appears not to be weather-related.' WTTG-TV and WUSA-TV have more, quoting a 'source close to the investigation' saying, 'That nurse was killed by an animal on PCP.'

And here's details on yesterday's morning fatality in Northeast: After 8:30 a.m., at 12th and Rhode Island, Avalos Diaz, 30, was struck and killed by a Ford F-250 pickup truck that had collided with a car and gone out of control, WaPo and WUSA-TV report. Police 'declined to speculate on whether snow contributed to the crash, saying the accident was under investigation and that no charges had been filed.'

Zoning Commission gives final approval to Jim Abdo's Brookland megaproject. Ovetta Wiggins reports in WaPo that Abdo Development 'will build 825 residential units and 85,000 square feet of retail on nine acres owned by [Catholic University]. The plan also includes a public square, a clock tower and a college main street with bookstores and mom-and-pop shops.' Still, Brookland community leader says she's 'disappointed in the final amenities package.'

In other DCZC business: Rule change opens up city to more Zipcars, DCmud reports.

Federal News Radio covers DDOT's awesome use of Twitter during the weekend blizzard: 'John Lisle is a spokesman for DDOT — and the man behind @DDOTDC — and explained his tweeting process during the Blizzard of '09. "We had regular operational conference calls here at DDOT and with our partners on the snow team. . . . There was a lot of exchange of information. We were getting weather forecasts from the National Weather Service and information coming in from citizens and, so, there was information that we were able to pass along on Twitter, [but] I also took what people were telling me — the messages they were sending on Twitter about their neighborhood or their street or a problem they saw. We asked people to send us pictures, as well, if their street hadn't been plowed. I was passing that information on to our snow command center so that they would know if there were areas that were a particular problem."'

City Collegiate Public Charter School, a Dupont middle school, will close after the school year. Michael Birnbaum reports in WaPo that its leaders informed the Public Charter School Board on Monday. '"There's no right time to close a school, but we've looked at next year, and we believe we would not have the enrollment, the per-pupil funding that we'd need," said Julie Klingenstein, co-chairman of the school's board of trustees. The school had budgeted for 100 students but has only 70, she said, suggesting that rapid turnover in school leadership hurt enrollment....City Collegiate is the first charter school to announce plans to close this school year.'

New information on suspects sought in the robbery gone awry that killed Arvel Alston and landed cop Reginald Jones in handcuffs for murder: 'The men were identified by police as Lynn Daniel Wilkerson, 33, of Cheltenham and Jarvis Clark, 19. They are charged in warrants with first-degree felony murder while armed....Police said they were releasing the names of the two to enlist the public's aid in finding them,' WaPo reports. Wilkerson may have been in a police cruiser with Jones during the shooting. See NC8 for pictures.

Robert Wone case: Defense lawyers are attacking their client's charges, Legal Times reports. 'None of the defendants can be charged with obstruction, the defense lawyers said in recently filed court papers, because there was no ongoing “official proceeding”—the language used in the statute—at the time the men allegedly altered the crime scene. The police only got involved after Zaborsky called 911 for an ambulance. D.C.’s obstruction law does not criminalize false statements to the police, the defense lawyers say.'

New energy-efficiency rules for District buildings are days from going into effect, Jonathan Wilson reports at WAMU-FM. 'Under D.C.'s law, owners of buildings 200,000 sq. ft. or larger will begin measuring their energy efficiency next year, and by January of 2012, a public database of all such buildings will be available on the web.'

More on East Hill carjackings, from The Hill Is Home.

Big-time blogger Ann Althouse is not cool at all with the gay-marriage bill-signing happening in a church: 'What a shameful and embarrassing display! Here you are, purporting to extend rights to people, and flouting the fundamental principle of keeping government separate from religion. The perfect location? Yes, it was the perfect location to show your lack of respect for constitutional limitations on government.'

Want to see pictures of ANCs Bob King, Anthony Muhammad, and others selling out home rule on Capitol Hill? Here you go!

ARE THEY CALLING US PRUDES?—Pornographer's lawyers, currently at war in D.C.'s federal trial court, argued that 'by using the District of Columbia as a venue for an obscenity prosecution, the government "chilled" the rights of adult entertainment companies to copyright their work, by making the D.C. juries the "final arbiter" of what was and wasn't obscene,' Legal Times reports.

This week on PBS NewsHour: 'a Michelle Rhee Film Festival.' Reporter John Merrow recalls how the 11-plus-episode series came about.

Snow: Still here, especially in alleys. And Examiner reports: 'Officials are asking residents to make sure storm drains and fire hydrants are clear of ice. Rain is expected late Thursday so flooding could occur in clogged areas.' And WUSA-TV has pix of the best parking-spot holders!

The Sexist tackles Jonetta Rose Barras' assertion that gay reporters covering gay marriage ought to out themselves.

No Nats parking at RFK next year. Bus-traversed neighborhoods rejoice.

Candi Peterson covers WTU executive board wranglings over whether to appeal Superior Court decision on teacher RIF.

PR guy has some tips for WASA.

Insurance and Financial Advisor covers Tom Hampton's move to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

D.C. police, including Lanier, hit Target for 'Shop With a Cop.'

WaPo publishes piece on how the recently unemployed spend their newly empty days—includes account from RIF'd DCPS counselor.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—No events scheduled.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—No public events scheduled.

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  • Cmmrade Al Gonzales

    So DC's failure to plow the streets caused at least two deaths & cost $20 million is lost sales tax revenue.

    & you fucking idiotic PR tech-twits think it was "awesome". Typical moronic Washington "thinking" - the substance does not matter; what matters is the appearance of work [not actual work] & PR spin.

    If I were in charge, everyone who thinks DC did a good job with this storm would have a lobotomy, be blinded, & put in a salt mine for ten years.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    100% correct, Comrade. In DC, actual work does not matter; only the appearance of work matters. The fact that Wisconsin Avenue still has snow on it does not matter - what matters is that you can tweet some twit at DDOT. The fact that buses were not running in Georgetown & Glover Park three days after the snow does not matter - you can tweet some twit at DDOT.

    Fucking brilliant. No wonder the City of Washington is known as the most efficient model of good government in the whole fucking world.

  • jack

    NEWS FLASH...

    Washington, DC:
    RULE OF LAW DOES NOT APPLY TO COPS
    Chief Lanier has effectively suspended the supposed "Rule
    of Law". This only applies to the cops. US citizens are
    subject to further authoritarian abuses. Good luck DC

  • Hilary

    Why is it so common for police officers to escalate a situation instead of diffusing it? It's like they're looking for an excuse to crack skulls. Every city in this country needs citizen oversight of its police force so that unstable officers aren't permitted to act with impunity, which is what happens when law enforcement is left to govern itself.

  • So YouTube is admissible evidence??

    How many opinions would be changed if it were known that in the midst of this "fun-loving crowd" were a bunch of guys with snowmasks covering their faces, yelling "he's alone, let's get him!" and a variety of anti-police comments. Also, how scared was the crowd when they hit this "gun-wielding" cop IN THE FACE after seeing his gun?

    The scariest part of this whole situation is that the Chief is willing to accept a YouTube video as hard evidence without ANY look into what else happened or how the video was edited. It is a sad commentary on our society today.

  • Get a grip, Hilary

    There were people in the crowd wearing anarchist riot gear and holding anarchist flags, shouting. Anarchists are known by cops to be violent, as they have been many times in the past. If the detective wanted to escalate the situation, he would have actually aimed at someone. He never did. A veteran officer pulling his gun out for 5 minutes and aiming at the ground the entire time is not exactly a person out to "crack skulls." I think it is people like you who are escalating this situation by whining so loudly about it.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Get a grip Get a grip. What video have you seen that details what you describe. Can you share? From all that I have seen, regardless of how "rowdy" the crowd became, it was clearly a case where a man gets out of his SUV, whips out a gun, and scares the shit out of everyone. Regardless of how you cut it, it's pretty fucking simple. He, even as an off-duty officer, did not follow any of the basic procedures he was supposed to. This could had easily been diffused if he had identified himself first- "Hey, you fucking yuppies, I'm a douche cop who's pissed that you hit my mega SUV with frozen water, go back to starbucks or I'll arrest you all for disturbing the peace bitches".

  • http://dcdl.org KCinDC

    Adrian, I agree that Baylor handled the situation badly and should be punished, but I'm having trouble with the idea that no one knew he was a cop. If that's true, and they thought he was some random angry man with a gun, why on earth did they taunt him or throw more snowballs? Surely anyone sane would run away in that situation.

    Now maybe the crowd contained a few people stupid enough to stay put, but my conclusion is that the vast majority either (1) didn't see the gun, (2) fled, or (3) believed he was a cop.

  • Woodley Parker

    Hey Mike -- when are we going to have a new weekly LL column? It's been since December 9th.

  • taxpayer26

    How reckless of Chief Lanier and Assistant Chief Newsham to add fuel to the fire by prejudging the detective’s actions. Not only does the chief state that his actions were totally inappropriate but the assistant chief goes on to say that nowhere in police department policy would it allow for a member to use a service weapon for a snowball fight. I must have missed the part where it stated that the detective went to 14th and U Street, to participate in the illegal snowball fight, which was reportedly the brainchild of a former Apple Genius.

    However, what they both failed to mention is that Metropolitan Police Department training does allow officers to remove their firearm from it’s holster and carry it in a “ready fire” position, (barrel pointed down) when they find themselves confronted with a hostile situation. Approximately 200 people hurling snowballs at each other and at passing vehicles would appear hostile to any reasonable person unaware that the police had apparently sanctioned such illegal activity.

    I was embarrassed to read that prior to the detective’s arrival uniformed officers had asked the mob to disperse but they refused, so the officers neglected their duty and left. Is this what I am paying the police for? The officers should have immediately called for an official to respond to the scene to explain to the mob that their illegal conduct would result in sanctions and then ensured that they dispersed.

    That clearly did not happen. Instead the illegal activity was allowed to continue. Think about it, had one of the participants or even an innocent non-participant been injured how many millions of dollars would the taxpayers be paying when it becomes known that the police were aware of this illegal activity and allowed it to occur. Assistant Chief Newsham is still costing taxpayers millions of dollars because of his lack of judgment regarding the Pershing Park arrest. What police department policy did he rely on when he decided to violate those citizen’s rights. He is the last person that should be passing judgment. Ego can be either an asset or a liability; in the case of Chief Lanier and Assistant Chief Newsham it is without a doubt a LIABILITY. Police managers are supposed to maintain a clear head and evaluate the facts of each situation and not be guided by the hysterical reactions of citizens.

  • F*** this guy

    "WaPo publishes rambling op-ed from Daniel Schramm"

    Which goes to show that most DC attorneys are gigantic wind bags.

    "As the one guy who wound up detained by the police during The Great Snowball Incident, I think the layers of its meaning are worth exploring."

    There is no deeper meaning. Shit happens. You were detained for a few minutes and not cuffed. Par for the course and perfectly legal.

    "In my day job, I analyze policies designed to strengthen environmental laws in developing countries."

    So this guy is useless. A hipster with a law degree.

    "Demographics suggest that a strong majority of them support new laws on climate change and health care"

    WHO GIVES A SHIT?

    "But this same demographic is acculturated to hostility against police"

    They're hostile up until they get jacked by hoodlums walking home from the Red Derby or Looking Glass or have their Macbooks stolen from their Priuses. Then they expect the police to go all CSI.

    " I pray we keep our energy directed toward the fulfillment of this ideal, one that is active government, not anti-government."

    Douchebag. All you had to say was, "It was a mistake, give him a suspension and move on."

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    KC- I agree with you that it didn't take a rocket-science to figure out that this guy was a cop, but that was after the fact. At first glance, he was just a guy who pulled out a gun because his SUV was hit with a snowball. Obviously, these idiots who stuck around after he pulled out the gun figured out that he was a cop or was too stupid to deduce any danger in the situation. My whole point is that it escalated because of him. It's his duty as a professional, regardless if he's on duty or not, to act or in this case, not act, in a certain manner. If a regular citizen did what he did, they would have been either shot or arrested. I don't see how his actions were justifiable. I don't believe the crowd was innocent bystanders either. But Baylor took it to another level first.

  • Reid

    God I knew that HD studio thing was a terrible idea as soon as I heard about it. Why the hell did Tony Williams think we need an HD studio to broadcast council hearings? Is there that much of a public need to see Jack Evans' pores?

    In that article William Todd Mason swears never to do business with the District again. I seriously doubt that. He obviously got his no-bid contract due to crony ties; if he never does business with the District again it's because his crony ties dried up. It certainly wouldn't be out of indignation.

  • Mike DeBonis

    Thanks for your interst in LL Weekly, Woodley Parker. LL has been forced into haitus by WCP's Music in Review and Arts and Review issues. His own year-end review will appear in the Jan. 1 edition.

  • Rick Mangus

    I just watch 'Newstalk', on News Channel 8 and the guest was Jim Graham, (The Queen of All Media). He was on there shooting off his big mouth passing judgement on the incident at 14th and U. He has to get my DUMB ASS Award of 2009. Hey Missy Graham we have what's called due process in this country, but not according to you, "I think this detective is a disgrace", "I guess people hate Hummer's" and "Just because someone hit you're car with a snow ball you should let it go, besides he was parked in the middle of the street".

    No Missy Graham I guess when my chief of staff is facing federal jail time and is now singing to the feds to cut a deal, oh! and what about all that missed placed money when you ran Whitman Walker? I surely don't want to be judgmental

    I just hope when the cuffs are on you getting arraigned in court that people don't rush to judgement on you. Like the old saying goes, "People in glass houses should not throw rocks", RIGHT ,MISSY GRAHAM!

  • really?

    black youth in just about any city, New York for instance get shot for much less than these drunk beligerent white kids throwing stuff at moving cars during a storm

    and still the outrage! stfu and stfd

  • Rick Mangus

    Hey, 'really', it was a black kid who hit the detective's car and then hit him in the face with a snow ball!

  • sedcdude

    @ RICK
    I guess that now justifies the brandishing of the gun???

  • Hilary

    Why are misconduct investigations conducted by the police themselves? Why is that not considered a conflict of interest?

  • Truth Hurts

    @ Hilary: Welcome to DC. In this city, conflicts of interest involving public entities are pretty common. Increases the odds of achieving the results they want.

  • Rick Mangus

    'sedcdude', the detective was wrong by all accounts and what I stated was a matter of fact on the video, this is not a race thing.

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