Reports of Overspending Mount: Loose Lips Daily
IN LL WEEKLY—Please Run for Mayor: LL picks six Washingtonians who should challenge Adrian Fenty.
Morning all. Uh-oh, more 'spending pressures' (aka overspending): Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner that the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department announced in a hearing yesterday that it 'failed to include seniority pay in its fiscal 2010 budget proposal, is on pace to more than double its overtime spending and is projected to run nearly $2 million short in fringe benefits—setting up a $11 million-plus shortfall for the year.' Why can't the fire department keep a lid on its overtime? Says the FEMS fiscal chief: '[O]ur effectiveness is limited by the large number of frozen operational vacancies that restrict our ability to hire new employees.' In other words, the city can't afford to hire new employees, so it's paying out overtime it can't afford. Add this to $10M or more in overspending at CFSA, $10M at DOC, $8M at DPR, and a possible imminent bailout for United Medical Center. Yikes.
AFTER THE JUMP—Jonetta argues that Human Rights Act is undemocratic; DYRS service center is persistently overcrowded; McCartney tells Babs to put up or shut up on Metro; DCPS ponders teacher-monitoring cameras in classrooms; Baumann wins re-election as police union chief.
LL CONGRATS—To Kristopher Baumann, who sailed to another two-year term as chair of the D.C. police union. If Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chief Cathy Lanier were trying to knock him off, it didn't work.
Jonetta Rose Barras asks in her Examiner column, in the wake of Judge Judith Macaluso's gay marriage decision, whether the District's Human Rights Act is imposing a 'burden' on civil rights. 'I spoke with more than a half-dozen residents and legal experts, many of whom described the HRA as overly broad. The act includes the standard prohibitions; but it's also illegal to discriminate based on "personal appearance, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation, or political affiliation of any individual." Critics further argued the council may have exceeded its authority and is using the act to limit citizens' engagement.' Her chief witness to this point: Gary Imhoff, who says 'Anything can be added to the [HRA] to prevent citizens from having a say.' Unaddressed: Does the council have a legitimate interest in preventing majority tyranny over a discriminated-against minority?
The DYRS Youth Services Center, 'which is supposed to house no more than 88 juveniles, has had to cram as many as 156 into the facility in recent months during a protracted period of overcrowding that has drawn stern criticism from a court-appointed monitor,' Henri Cauvin reports in WaPo. The overcrowding 'has strained space and staff' at the Mount Olivet Road facility 'and has emerged as a critical roadblock in an effort to end a 25-year-old class action suit over the District's care of juveniles charged with crimes.' One issue at play: Is New Beginnings too small, 'compound[ing] the agency's long-standing population management problems'?
Seattle couple save disabled woman who fell on Metro tracks at Union Station last week. Ann Scott Tyson reports at WaPo: 'Michelle Kleisath, a 29-year-old anthropology doctoral student from Seattle, was among a crowd gathered on the platform, watching aghast. She pulled her phone from her pocket to call 911 but realized there was not enough time. "She's going to die," Kleisath, who was in the District attending a conference on race relations, recalled thinking. "Someone has to get her off." But thanks mainly to Kleisath and her partner, Chilan T. Ta, 26, a transportation engineering student from Seattle, disaster was averted.'
Robert McCartney lays it out in WaPo column: 'Here's a challenge for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski: Now that you've helped drive off Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., how about helping to bring together the Washington region's political leaders to solve the problems that made it impossible for Catoe or anyone else to run the transit system effectively?...[A]ll of the region's top political leaders—especially the governors of Maryland and Virginia, the mayor of the District, and the local congressional delegation—need to get more directly involved to overcome Metro's current crisis.' McCartney wants two things: dedicated revenue and an end to the jurisdictional veto.
In Examiner, Kytja Weir looks at the federal representatives soon coming to the Metro board, reporting that 'federal officials do not seem to know who the appointees will be or when they will join the transit agency.' They're supposed to come from GSA, which has no clue. And Metro hasn't heard anything from GSA, either. And WTTG-TV looks at how big a permanent fare increase might be. Says incoming board chair Peter Benjamin, 'We're taking about something that's at least three times [the emergency 10-cent hike].'
Some mayoral campaign tidbits at D.C. Wire: Longtime Vincent Gray supporters schedule Saturday meeting organized by Carrie Thornhill 'where they will discuss "Gray's future."' Says Gray: 'If they wanted me there, they would have me....I was not involved in the planning. I did not precipitate it....I don't know how clear I can be.' And in a sitdown yesterday with media (LL couldn't make it), Michael Brown 'sure sounded like a man preparing to run for mayor,' saying of the 2010 race: 'Three million is a lot, but I don't think that will be the determining factor.'
Sidwell Friends teacher is fired after Maryland prosecutors file sex abuse charges, Bill Turque and Dan Morse report in WaPo. Robert A. "Pete" Peterson, 65, 'Peterson taught seventh and eighth grades and was director of the school's Camp Corsica on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He was placed on leave shortly before the beginning of the 2009-10 school year....According to Montgomery County charging documents dated Jan. 14, Peterson befriended a male Sidwell student and repeatedly invited him to his Silver Spring home. Peterson showed the student pornography and touched him inappropriately, the charging documents say. He is charged with sex abuse of a minor and two counts of fourth-degree sex offense.' Also Examiner, Chestertown Spy, NC8. Sidwell to parents: 'The allegations against Mr. Peterson are obviously deeply troubling....We are now focusing on the needs of our students, families, faculty and staff as we begin to cope with this sad and challenging situation.'
Ellington principal reacts to moving plans to parents: 'We, as an institution, will not idly stand by while such plans are taking place and not have our voices be heard!' The school's board says in a letter to Fenty and Rhee that it's 'appalled by recent reports of a well developed proposal to move Ellington to a new location' and that such a move would 'eviscerate one of the most outstanding educational institutions in the District.'
Good piece in Dropout Nation on key Michelle Rhee aide Jason Kamras, who 'may be the most-important person in education today. Yes, more important than Arne Duncan or Joel Klein or any of the two national union heads or even Rhee herself. On Rhee's behalf, he is overseeing the most-comprehensive reform of teacher evaluation and performance management going on today.' He talks about possibly doing teacher evaluations by camera, noting that 'cameras in the classroom aren't comforting to teachers (who often prefer in-person observations) and given D.C. law (which requires a person to give permission to being taped on camera), it may not be worth it.' Another innovation: 'Kamras said last night that if an ed school produces far too many laggard instructors, he will tell them that he's not recruiting from their schools — and will tell his colleagues throughout the D.C.-Virginia-Maryland region as well.'
ALSO—Rhee speaks to Fast Company's Jeff Chu, who did an admiring profile back in 2008: 'After the October layoffs of 266 teachers and staff, the union claimed Rhee used a budget crunch as a pretext for dismissing veteran teachers, since seniority rules don't cover cuts for fiscal reasons. "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee says. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"'
In case you were wondering, Scott Brown's win in the Massachusetts Senate race will not single-handedly derail gay marriage in the District, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports in DC Agenda. He quotes Barney Frank: 'It had nothing to do with same-sex marriage — nothing at all.' More generally, the congressman says, 'I think we're in pretty good shape and, obviously, we're going to watch it....But I don't think you're going to see any stirring up in that.' ALSO—DC Agenda notes the city shutdown of Men's Parties/D.C. Wrestling Club, the Logan Circle sex club where a man died last fall.
Ted Leonsis and the Abe Pollin estate fail to a price for the Wizards and Verizon Center, Tom Heath reports in WaPo. They only have about 48 other opportunities to cut a deal. For now, 'each side will now hire an appraiser who will set separate prices for the Wizards and the arena.'
Ugh. Saw this coming from WaTimes: 'More guns in law-abiding hands mean less crime. The District of Columbia proves the point,' their editorial board argues. 'A telling story is illustrated by the murder numbers since the handgun ban and gun-lock bans were struck down. Between 2008 and 2009, the FBI's preliminary numbers indicate that murders fell nationally by 10 percent and by about 8 percent in cities that have between 500,000 and 999,999 people. Washington's population is about 590,000. During that same period of time, murders in the District fell by an astounding 25 percent, dropping from 186 to 140. The city only started allowing its citizens to own handguns for defense again in late 2008.' The piece fails to acknowledge any other factor in the crime rate drop or cite any occasion where the presence of a legal firearm prevented violence.
Fab WaPo letter from ex-Maryland assistant attorney general responds to editorial board assertion that electing an AG would degrade the quality of lawyers serving the District: 'For the past 30 years, Maryland has had some of the finest attorneys general. They have all had to run for office. Attorneys General Stephen H. Sachs, J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Douglas F. Gansler have zealously represented the residents of Maryland. All have maintained their independence from the governor and represented the best interests of the residents....The D.C. attorney general does not need to be the mayor's right-hand man or woman. If the District wants to be a state, let it start acting like one and elect its attorney general.'
Worthwhile dispatch in themail: 'Some time ago, [zoning office ex-director] Jerrily Kress recognized there was a problem with zoning order compliance. Conditions, imposed as a means of making special exceptions, variances, and PUDS less objectionable, were not being implemented. ANC commissioners and city residents found themselves without recourse except through DCRA. To help rectify the situation, the council approved a new Compliance Specialist position for OZ, but earlier this month Director [Jamison Weinbaum] terminated the Compliance Specialist, who was being effective, saying the office is moving in a new direction. Is compliance being put on the back burner in the Office of Zoning?'
41,000 sign petitions urging a D.C. voting-rights mention in the State of the Union address.
WTTG-TV follows up on mistaken D.C. Jail release. DOC says it's Superior Court's fault; Superior Court says they didn't tell DOC to release the inmate in question. Says Phil Mendelson: 'We are not being given a lot of details....That's not right—the public should know what's going on. Particularly since it involves someone who has been accused of a crime.'
Remember when Carol Schwartz pushed through a law allowing you to park closer to intersections at night? It's expired, GGW reports, and Tommy Wells wants to renew it. In themail, Jack McKay relates the related problem of informing ticket-writers about the law.
ALSO—Wells goes on the record in favor of exploring 'heroin-assisted treatment,' a therapy for 'long-term addicts who have repeatedly attempted unsuccessfully to quit using other programs,' GW Hatchet reports: 'Wells'
endorsement [LL NOTE: Hatchet has correction their story to say that Wells did not "endorse" the treatment, but rather said it should be considered] of the treatment is significant, because both legislators and the public usually oppose this type of treatment for drug users, making his support for the program politically risky. Under the supervision of medical professionals, users are provided with prescription heroin in a controlled, clinical environment as an alternative to buying and using drugs on the street. Although this type of treatment has existed in Europe for years and been proven to reduce crime and improve public health, it has not been widely accepted in the United States.'
D.C. man killed in Arlington tasering gets the Pat Collins treatment.
At large: Fugitive drug dealer Ferose Kahn Jr., 28.
Lawyer wants e-mails, texts thrown out in judge-stalking case.
Government Security News on D.C. video surveillance consolidation efforts.
Susie Cambria runs down new ICSIC appointments. Looks like a strong group.
Solar-powered single-space parking meters arrive around town. Why do they need solar power? Because they take credit cards!
Cary Silverman: 'Residents overwhelmingly favor putting the historic Franklin School to an educational, rather than a private, use, according to my unscientific online public survey.'
Mount Vernon Square development is delayed, DCmud says.
Carol Joynt: Still not happy with glut of Georgetown no-parking signs!
Hatchet covers Census efforts to count D.C. college students.
D.C. Lottery starts selling Mega Millions tickets.
Maryland to study possible soccer stadium in Baltimore.
Stephanie Day at Friendship Chamberlain PCS is D.C. Teacher of the Year.
The March for Life is Friday—lots of downtown street closures.
City Title hoops games set for Sunday, March 7. No word yet on council/media game...
Blood drive today at JAWB!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-526 ('Public Transportation Criminal Penalties Act of 2009') and B18-555 ('School Safe Passage Emergency Zone Act of 2009'), JAWB 500; 2 p.m.: Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination hearing on 'D.C. Statehood and Self-Determination: The Perspective of Local Law Students,' University of the District of Columbia, Building 44, Room A-03; Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-483 ('Prepaid Calling Card Consumer Protection Disclosure Act of 2009'), JAWB 412; Committee on Government Operations and the Environment meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor with Barbara Harrison, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 10:45 a.m.: remarks, Chevy Chase community update, 5500 41st St. NW.