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The Military-Industrial-Municipal Complex: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'Rhee’s Magazine Comments Draw Lawsuit; and tweets galore!

Morning all. The D.C. Council's finance and revenue committee—er, Jack Evans—held a hearing yesterday on the $25M Northrop Grumman incentive package. No one from Northrop, or anyone besides DMPED who would stump for the deal, showed up. But there were plenty of folks who came to grouse about a prime example of corporate welfare. And Nikita Stewart reports in WaPo that the bid 'is unraveling' as CMs question the wisdom of the deal. Among them: Mary Cheh, who 'said she is now undecided because the council recently approved tax breaks for other companies without an overall plan or cost-benefits analysis. "I don't think we can keep doing this bit by bit," she said. "I like the idea of using the incentives to lure these companies here, but I am uneasy."' WBJ's Jonathan O'Connell details the objections aired at the hearing, from the likes of Andy Shallal of Busboys & Poets, the Latino Economic Development Corp., the Center for Corporate Policy and CODEPINK. Add to that an ex-LL ('Elissa Silverman, from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute...brought a handful of studies touting evidence that tax incentives do little to influence corporate relocations') and this sucker's dead in the water.

AFTER THE JUMP—Northrop's decision may not come till June; independent evaluation of DCPS begins; Pershing Park settlement filed; developers try to move ahead in Shaw; Red Line crash cost Metro $25M to start; RIP Maurice Williams and Mack Cantrell

ON THE PLUS LEDGER—'Evans said the city ought to go after the company because of the jobs it would provide, the charitable contributions it would likely make and the city’s existing lack of corporate headquarters,' and noted the company has expressed interest in Southwest real estate. DMPED rep points out that 'the company’s charitable foundation and its employees had made more than $11 million in charitable donations in 2009 and that District nonprofits could expect similar gifts should the company move to D.C.'

ALSO—Sarah Krouse, citing sources 'familiar with the negotiations,' reports in WBJ that Northrop might put off its decision until June. And O'Connell notes that the deal sets up a Jack vs. Kwame dynamic: 'Presiding over whatever subsidies Northrop Grumman will get are two councilmen...who may well be campaigning against each other shortly to become chairman of the council....Both are well-known to industry, as Evans chairs the Finance and Revenue Committee and [Kwame Brown] chairs the Economic Development Committee. Brown could have more of a say over the proceedings than he would even a week ago. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. of Ward 5 is now a member of the finance committee (he replaced Marion Barry) and is more likely to vote with Brown on many issues than with Evans.'

INCIDENTALLY—In the course of reporting (and correcting) his item, O'Connell learned this: 'Gray chief of staff Dawn Slonneger: Chairman [Vincent Gray] will finish term whether or not he decides to run for mayor.'

Office of Employee Appeals backlog has led to exorbitant back-pay awards for successful appellants, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. OEA 'has a backlog of 533 cases, only four administrative judges on staff and finances so depleted that it can't even hire court reporters, agency leaders say. Cases stemming from basic budget-related layoffs to terminations for cause often drag on for years, and those workers who successfully appeal are ultimately paid "to take a long vacation," said [Mary Cheh], government operations committee chairwoman....Four months into the current fiscal year, the office has nearly as many appeals (290) as it did in all last fiscal year (299). In 2009, OEA judges ordered 38 workers reinstated and reimbursed $3.4 million in back pay and benefits. Of the 42 orders issued since Oct. 1, 13 have gone in favor of the employee — or 30 percent.' Neibauer recounts the story of a cop caught driving drunk in 2004; he appealed successfully and was awarded more than four years of back pay and benefits.

Metro has tallied the infrastructural costs of the Red Line disaster: It's $25.5M, per a memo obtained by Examiner's Kytja Weir. 'The memo says four rail cars were destroyed at a cost of $12 million, while the other cars involved had $3 million worth of damage. Metro spent another $3 million to run shuttle buses when that section of track was closed. Other costs came in for maintenance and cleanup, police security of the accident scene, and overtime. Metro is trying to recoup about $24 million through its property insurance and has said it plans to hire a forensic accountant to develop its claim. But officials acknowledge they are on the hook for at least $1.5 million in uninsured track structure work and system maintenance associated with the crash. The agency also has a $1 million deductible to pay.' Legal fees, lost revenue, etc. are not counted.

ALSO—Weir reports on the tough sell that transit advocates are attempting in local jurisdictions: Convince local policymakers to increase WMATA subsidies to avoid service cuts and fare hikes. Good luck with that.

Confirmed: 18 DCPS employees have been fired from the central office's special education department, Bill Turque reports at WaPo Schools Insider, confirming Candi Peterson's weekend reports. 'No details yet on what jobs they held or what exactly drove the dismissals, although spending pressures seem to be in the mix. Spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said Sunday evening that "in an effort to control costs and improve operations OSE made personnel decisions based on each of their department's overarching goals and initiatives."' Also Examiner. Meanwhile, Peterson claims the firings didn't end with the 18.

The long-awaited 'independent evaluation' of DCPS reform kicked off yesterday, Turque reports, with a joint public panel featuring Michelle Rhee, Victor Reinoso, Kerri Briggs, and...Vince Gray. 'On Monday, all four speakers said they welcomed the NRC inquiry, and committee members asked them what questions they would like to see answered by the study. Rhee asked the panel to assess whether her "theory of change," about the District overhaul, which has emphasized raising the quality and effectiveness of teachers, was on target. She also asked the panel to reflect on whether there were organizational changes to be made "to better set ourselves up to be successful." Without explicitly criticizing the arrangement, she mentioned that the DCPS general counsel reports to D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, and that the agency's chief financial officer reports to D.C. chief financial officer Natwar M. Gandhi. The soft-spoken Reinoso asked that the panel not make final judgments about the failure or success of an effort that he said will be under way for many years. "I don't think that the standard should be, 'Have we crossed the finish line?'" he said. Gray urged the panel not neglect special education and career and technical education when looking at what the District has or has not accomplished.' The budget has been scaled back from $1.5M to $750K; an interim report is expected by fall.

The WaPo editorial board, meanwhile, calls for teacher discipline to be addressed in any new contract proposal: 'District law considers it a crime when doctors betray a trust and have sex with patients, no matter their age. Ditto for hospital volunteers, ambulance drivers and other people entrusted with caring for others. But, for reasons that no one can really explain, this common-sense protection doesn't apply to teachers and students. It's an anomaly that needs to be addressed as officials assess how well the system deals with teacher misconduct.'

IN CASE YOU'RE WONDERING—The DCPS performance oversight hearing is next Monday, March 15.

The D.C. Council's cigar-smoking exemption antics are covered in WaPo by Ann Marimow: 'Angela Bradbery, co-founder of Smokefree DC, urged [Fenty] in a letter Monday to veto the legislation that she said would force workers to choose between their health and a paycheck; open the door for other organizations to request exemptions; and send a message that "it's okay to break the law if you're on the council or a buddy of a council member." Evans, who has attended the annual dinner for at least the past 10 years but does not light up, said his bill is "perfectly appropriate for both organizations."....A hearing on Evans's subsequent bill to make a permanent exception for the Friendly Sons was canceled on Monday. An aide to [David Catania] said the council member thought it was best to first review results from the one-year waiver before deciding whether to move ahead with a comprehensive measure.'

Pershing Park settlement is filed, Legal Times reports: 'Under the roughly $8.25 million settlement in Barham v. Ramsey, the District would pay $5.64 million to marchers who were arrested en masse and detained for hours during a 2002 International Monetary Fund and World Bank protest. Another $2.46 million would go to cover attorney fees and costs incurred by the plaintiffs’ lawyers from Washington’s Partnership for Civil Justice. Another $150,000 would be used to administer the fund....The settlement also requires the District’s police to adopt improved document management standards.'

Both WaPo and ABC News cover the impending nuptials of Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend—the first gay couple to apply for a D.C. marriage license.

A rare LLD link to WaPo's Federal Page: Columnist Joe Davidson notes how the federal government isn't doing squat for gay couples newly married in the District: 'When Lorilyn "Candy" Holmes and Darlene Garner get married Tuesday, it will be a joyous and historic occasion. But an uninvited uncle will lurk among the well-wishers....Uncle Sam doesn't like the Holmes-Garner wedding because the couple are the same sex. Though he does not have the power to stop the nuptials, he does have the ability, like a meddlesome relative, to make his displeasure known. While Sam provides a nice package of benefits that cover spouses of his staff members, he's not going to give that wedding gift to Holmes, who has served him for 33 years, and Garner.'

More on the Stephanie Stephens death from WTTG-TV: 'The two ambulance medics who allegedly refused to transport the toddler are at the center of a discipline investigation. However, FOX 5 has learned that others in a supervisory position on a fire truck may have arrived first, but never went inside the Southern Avenue home....The internal documents obtained exclusively by FOX 5 seem to contradict the city's account. They are the automated time stamps generated by a computer showing the history of the fire units. The documents clearly show Engine 33 with a paramedic on board arrives first at 4:56:45 a.m. on February 10, 2010. Medic 33 arrived at the Southern Avenue address at 4:58:28 a.m., nearly two minutes later, but they were the only ones to go inside. So the question is, why didn't the higher ranking paramedic on engine 33– who arrived first– make the evaluation on the little girl, and if he was there, why did he not intervene when medics decided not to transport the child? More importantly, why is the engine 33 paramedic still on the job?'

WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden > interviews council budget guru Eric Goulet about what lies in store for FY2011: One word: 'bleak.'

DCmud covers the Media Center One project after Radio One's exit: 'Ellis Development Group, Jarvis Company, LLC and Four Points...are modifying their plans and seeking official permission to extend their development timeline. The current approved Planned Unit Development is coming up on its two-year deadline, the requested two-year extension would give the developers time to regroup after recent setbacks.' And square footage is being scaled back. Question is: Will the council be willing keep debt tied up doing nothing for another two years?

Police identify jogger struck and killed Saturday morning at 14th and Constitution NW as Debra Ann Schiebel, 51, of Logan Circle. Reports WaPo: 'Police said Monday that the owner of the tractor-trailer [that struck Schiebel] contacted them Saturday night. It appeared that the driver of the vehicle was unaware that anyone had been hit, police said. They said no charges were pending against the driver, who was not identified....Preliminary information indicated that the woman was in the roadway and crossing against the light when she was struck, police said.' Also NC8, WTTG-TV, WUSA-TV, WRC-TV.

Joseph Harrington, 31, has pleaded guilty to the 2007 stabbing murder of Charles Smith, WaPo reports—'just one day before he was scheduled to face a retrial in the case. The first case was dismissed because an assistant U.S. attorney admitted withholding evidence from defense attorneys.' Harrington faces up to eight years.

Mark your calendars: 'A prosecutors’ request to introduce evidence that police found a collection of S&M devices in the home of three gay men implicated in the 2006 murder of Washington attorney Robert Wone is expected to be debated Friday during a D.C. Superior Court hearing,' DC Agenda reports.

And now, a note from Allen Sessoms: 'Today, you will start seeing a series of print, broadcast and online advertisements designed to get the word out on all the great things going on in the University System of the District of Columbia. This is the most aggressive effort in the history of this institution to promote itself. The goals of this campaign are – of course – to increase enrollment, but we are also lifting the image and public perception of the community college as well as UDC, including the law school.'

Missing six-year-old is promptly found.

WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV cover the enviro-impacts of snowmelt on the Anacostia River.

Mark Katz is new chair of Arent Fox.

Man arrested for entering zoo's elephant enclosure.

ALSO—Panda-mama: Not preggers.

Don Peebles is gala chair for the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington's April 9 Legacy Awards Gala. Ben’s Chili Bowl will be honored as Small Business of the Year.

Dish wants to know: 'Vincent Gray in Georgetown: kibbitzing or campaigning?'

TODAY IN HISTORY—In 1977, Hanafi Muslims stormed the District Building, wounding Marion Barry and killing WHUR-FM reporter Maurice Williams and security guard Mack Cantrell. May they rest in peace. (Read WaPo's next-day story, by Bob Kaiser and Milt Coleman.)

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Special Committee on the D.C. Taxicab Commission performance oversight hearing, JAWB 500; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment agency performance oversight hearing on Office of the Inspector General, District of Columbia Retirement Board, Office of Campaign Finance, and Board of Elections and Ethics, JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120; 4 p.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—9:30 a.m.: attendee, education budget hearing, Smothers ES, 4400 Brooks St. NE; 11 a.m.: attendee, same-sex marriage celebration, Human Rights Campaign Equality Center, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW.

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  • downtown rez

    From WP:
    Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) said he cannot explain to his constituents what is happening, including where the city will get the money for the tax breaks.
    If he is so ignorant or inarticulate than WTF is he doing chairing economic development and sitting on finance and revenue?!?

  • Wassup

    Northrup should lasso a couple of desperate gay mail order dealers, failed real estate developers, to seduce Jim Graham into giving them 7 million!

  • WardQueen

    Has Jim Graham been arrested yet?

  • hymesb

    Can we get some jobs around here? Isn't that multi-billion dollar company. I don't know the numbers but if they come hopefuly more will follow.I don't know but I hope they aren't being penny wise and dollar stupid. Micro-managers tend to be that way. Cheh seems like she can be that way.

    Regardless, Kwame is supposed to be the jobs guy. He should be eager to start a flow of new business coming into the District. Maybe he wants to hold it out until past the election. Most of his decisions seem to have political motives.

  • Tom

    You all do realize that all of their employees will live in Northern Virgina, PG & Montgomery County right? Thats why this is such a bad deal because the only thing we would get are the taxes from the company, but an abatement negates this.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, no!!! Not another "economic development" project from Jack! Or maybe it's all just a ploy to help produce more freebies for NorthrupGrumman in Fairfax, where Patton-Boggs(his law firm) has an office.

    You know how grateful NG would be for all the help.

    With DC facing $200 million plus in deficits for 2010, more in 2011, and no working capital, my guess is that Kwame is the only one on the council who is well aware that there is no way he can explain the lunacy of what Evans is proposing to his constituents.

  • downtown rez

    From WP:
    n Virginia, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) sent late legislation to both houses of the General Assembly aimed at drawing the firm. The bills would allow the Governor's Opportunity Fund, an economic development grant program that can be spent only on public infrastructure, to be used to renovate private buildings as well. The bills also would renew the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant program, which is available to companies that create 400 jobs that pay better than 150 percent of the state's average wage or 300 jobs that pay better than 200 percent. The state could begin spending $30 million over the next six years, starting July 1.
    I guess DC, which leads the region in unemployment and trails the region in average median income knows something that VA and MD don't. Or not.
    Well, at least the census is hiring this year!

  • Anonymous, too

    Charlie Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy adds that Northrop Grumman has not been a good steward of public funds. "It has had to pay hundreds of millions in fines for overbilling the government and knowingly using defective parts," said Cray. "It would be scandalous to give DC tax dollars to a company with such a long record of waste, fraud and abuse."

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