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Wedding Bells Ring: Loose Lips Daily

As much local politics as humanly possible. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'Jeff Smith Will Make Graham Challenge Official'; 'Michelle Obama to Address Anacostia HS Grads'; and tweets galore!

Morning all. Same-sex couples started pickup up their marriage licenses yesterday, and some immediately proceeded to get married. 'There were yellow roses, champagne toasts and tiered cakes. There were tuxedos, lace dresses and Pachelbel's Canon in D,' write WaPo's Keith Alexander and Ann Marimow. 'This D.C. watershed moment was bursting with pride and happiness. Yet it was also tinged with memories of political struggles and legal battles.' But that's all over—for the moment, anyway—it's no longer a political story, but a human-interest story. So who was first? Seems to be a tossup between Jeremy Moon and Bryan Legaspi, Obama administration employees married by Judge Brook Hedge in her courtroom, and Robb Hawthorne and James Betz, GWU students who were married by a minister just outside the courthouse.

AFTER THE JUMP—Vince Gray's Fencegate rolls on; Rhee and KJ dish to WaPo; snowball cop recommended for 10-day suspension; DCPS hires woman as football coach; more alleged FEMS misconduct; what exactly is the connection between cigars and Ireland?

Three couples married at Human Rights Campaign headquarters, as DC Agenda covers, including Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend, who had been first in line to apply for a license. WaPo notes that at the event, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty 'invoked his parents' interracial marriage as he congratulated the newlyweds at a news conference. The weddings, he said, "were a great step forward for equality and for our city that has always been a standard-bearer for treating people equally and justly."...Among the more than 100 guests, friends and relatives of the three couples at the HRC were [David A. Catania] and [Jim Graham], who are gay. Catania, the leading sponsor of the bill, which passed the D.C. Council 11 to 2, called the moment "the most profoundly rewarding day....I could not be prouder of this city."' Also video.

Notes WaPo: 'The District...has issued 42 such licenses and received 12 signed certificates, indicating that at least 12 couples were married by the time the marriage bureau closed at 5 p.m. Tuesday.' Adds AP: 'Normally, the courthouse hosts four to six weddings a day, but over the next several weeks, officials are expecting 10 to 12 per day because of the demand for same-sex ceremonies.'

Evan Wolfson of national group Freedom to Marry blogs at HuffPo about what it all means: 'Marriage in our nation's capital marks a significant victory not only for D.C. couples who no longer need to leave home to secure the protections and responsibilities of marriage, but also for the national movement to win the freedom to marry....Our victory in D.C. brings us one step closer to winning marriage for all committed couples – and other victories are within reach....As members of Congress and the Administration mingle with local committed couples living more securely than before and witness first-hand that the sky does not fall, it will be evident that there is no good reason for denying gay couples the freedom to marry, and every reason to end the federal discrimination against married couples inflicted through the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act."'

ALSO—Some WaPo readers don't like it when the paper 'shove[s] this "Gay" business in our face.'

MORE—WaPo delivers the umpteenth story on the economic stimulus of gay marriages. WTTG-TV covers couples crossing the border from Maryland to get hitched. Metro Weekly looks back at the political fight. Local politicos praise Boston congressman for butting out as chair of House oversight committee. Yeas & Nays covers the fashion angle. Also Metro Weekly, Examiner, AP, LA Times, Economist, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, The Hoya, Advocate, Christian Science Monitor, Perez Hilton, Fox News.

***

An update on Fencegate from WaTimes' Jeffrey Anderson: Council Chairman Vincent Gray has been ordered by DDOT to obtain a public-space permit for his six-foot-high iron fence, lest he incur $300 per day fines. 'A March 4 letter from Lamont Regester, chief DDOT inspector, cites a D.C. regulation that says permits for fences higher than 42 inches are granted "only when specifically approved by the mayor." DDOT gave Mr. Gray seven days to apply for a public space permit or remove the fence. Once he applies, DDOT's Public Space Committee also must approve the application based on "neighborhood input, sight lines, need, feasible alternatives and impact on utilities, trees or design."' Gray attorney Robert Spagnoletti told DCRA in December that his client would apply for any fence permits, but that appears not to have happened.

LEDE—'The man who would be mayor of the nation's capital may have trapped himself behind a 6-foot-high aluminum fence he can neither explain nor justify, an unlikely and possibly costly albatross as he weighs a bid against an unpopular political incumbent.'

Detective Mike Baylor, the cop who brought a gun to a snowball fight, has been recommended for a 10-day suspension in connection with the Dec. 19 incident, Bill Myers and Freeman Klopott report in Examiner. 'Baylor didn't fill out the correct paperwork after he stopped a man who he thought had tossed a snowball and "engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the reputation of the police force," according to an internal police report of the incident....Police union Chair Kris Baumann said Baylor was unfairly ridiculed. "People were manipulated by this story," he said. "Everybody rushed to judgment, including the chief. And you can't do that if you're the police."'

Harry Jaffe tarnishes the 'Green Team' brand, bestowing Fenty's campaign-season sobriquet on the New Cronies: 'I suspect it refers to money, as in greenbacks. Team members are: Sinclair Skinner, Omar Karim, Warren Williams and Keith Lomax. The foursome shares two things: proximity to Mayor Adrian Fenty; and a boost in their fortunes since Fenty took office....Gotta be some kickbacks or bribes. Right? Wrong. I'm afraid what we have here is old-fashioned patronage and cronyism. When I asked a council member what he made of the deals, he said: "It's like Chicago around here." And Philly, and Boston, and Detroit and New York. Fenty often says he wants to be a "big city mayor." Cronyism comes with the turf.' But no one, he says, 'has come up with anything that smacks of criminal acts. What would be criminal is if the contracts were awarded and the work was not done. Or the work was shoddy. Or the contracts were grossly inflated. That would take us back to the Marion Barry days.'

The hed on Wil Haygood's WaPo Style fronter: 'Kevin Johnson's winning streak: NBA, Sacramento City Hall, Michelle Rhee's heart.' And yet: 'They are not Romeo and Juliet. Let others get weak-kneed over love poems. He's got homeless souls to get off the streets. She's got thousands of schoolchildren to rescue. Conferences and urban-themed seminars and books and position papers and think-tank get-togethers dominate their lives. This is the way they roll, Johnson and Rhee. There's work to be done...."We're both reformers," Johnson says proudly.'

HOW THEY MET—'In 1989, he founded St. Hope Academy, a nonprofit community development corporation. It evolved into a conclave of independent local charter schools, with St. Hope High, Johnson's alma mater, as its flagship. The academic reputation of the schools soared as high school students gained admission to elite colleges. Johnson, who became the schools' chief executive, began inviting talented educators to come to Sacramento and talk to his staff. Michelle Rhee was among them....It was in early 2008 that Johnson, 44, and Rhee, 40, say they started sensing something deeper between them...."They're both very focused and driven," says Robert Graswich, 54, a mayoral assistant. "When you see them together, they're very loving. She's always looking out for him. Clearly, she's a hard-charger—and brilliant. She'd need to be to keep up with him."'

THE PROPOSAL—'For months, [Johnson] walked around with an engagement ring wrapped in tissue. He wanted a sweet movielike moment to give it to his Michelle....Johnson drew it out for so long that Rhee's daughters—Starr, 11, and Olivia, 8—began asking him what that suspicious lump was. Then on Oct. 30, after the couple saw "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Kennedy Center, Johnson suggested they catch some night air and visit the Capitol. "I said, 'It's cold! What do you want to go over to the Capitol for?'" Rhee recalls. I just want to go, Johnson answered. And there they were, two souls shivering, when Johnson dug into his pocket and popped the question.'

THE RELATIONSHIP—'The couple plan on carrying the reformist torch into their marriage. "My true north is here in Sacramento," Johnson confesses. "So we'll have a bicoastal marriage for a time. But we're lucky we get a chance to see each other a couple times a month. It's not ideal, but when you're in love, you climb the highest mountain. You know how the song goes." Rhee says she and Johnson intend to be married sometime this year, although the details of when and where are unsettled. "With my schedule," Rhee says, chuckling the words out, "I don't have a lot of time to plan a wedding!"'

THE ALLEGATIONS—Responding to a congressional investigation's findings: 'In 2008, there was [an] allegation made against Johnson by a high school student at his St. Hope Sacramento High School. Rhee considered herself familiar with the inner workings of St. Hope High and didn't believe the charges against Johnson. "It was a hard thing for me," she says. "I actually knew firsthand about the accusations. I knew them not to be true. Kevin just said, 'If people want to throw stones, let them.' " Johnson's accuser later recanted and no charges were filed.'

A woman has been hired as football coach at Coolidge HS, Alan Goldenbach reports in WaPo, 'making her what is be believed to be the first female head football coach in the Washington area.' Natalie Randolph, 29. had been an assistant at H.D. Woodson, one of the top public school squads in the city, and played for the magnificent D.C. Divas as a wide receiver. 'One school source said Randolph, 29, was introduced to the team after school Tuesday. After initial skepticism, Randolph won them over, according to the source...."Some of the kids tried to test her knowledge of football," the source said, "and she just shot them down. At the end, they were clapping for her. They didn't know she played football."..."All I know is, I don't want to be the first one to lose to her," said one D.C. coach. "That's going to be wild."'

Another allegation of FEMS misconduct, this time from a 39-year-old woman who says that an ambulance crew wouldn't take her to a hospital. Kimberley Kelsey tells WaPo 'rescue personnel showed up at her home on Rhode Island Avenue after she called Dec. 22, but "one of them told me it didn't sound like I was having, you know, breathing problems....He didn't even examine me." She said the rescue workers left without taking her, but she later called 911 again and spoke to a supervisor. She said other rescue workers arrived, and took her to Georgetown University Hospital, where she spent days in intensive care.' Kelsey says she came forward after hearing about the death of Stephanie Stevens. Also WTTG-TV, NC8, WRC-TV.

Eleanor Holmes Norton tells WAMU-FM's Peter Granitz that the House is 'close to the point where we will be taking this bill to the floor. We're working on odds and ends of the kind you always have to put to bed before a bill goes to the floor.' LL's with Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown, who says: 'If you're asking my personal opinion on it, I have a hard time seeing it move forward.'

City economist Fitzroy Lee tells WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden that 'D.C. revenues will not return to pre-recession levels until 2014.' That's due to the nature of property taxes, he says—the two-year lag. 'That means in 2011, the property taxes flowing into city coffers will reflect 2009, when real estate values plummeted across the city.'

WaPo's Daniel de Vise interviews UDC communications chief Alan Etter about the university's new ad campaign: 'Now that we have created the University System, it is time everybody is made aware of what's going in DC's State University. The purpose, obviously, is to increase enrollment....You saw the first ad yesterday [Monday] on the Fed Page of the Washington Post. We are following that up with supporting print ads in the Northwest Current, the Washington Informer, the Washington Hispanic and others. We are also doing a significant amount of online and broadcast advertising, including program sponsorship on NPR and TV and cable business. A Metro bus and rail campaign starts next month.'

'REPOSITORY'?—Says Etter: 'Part of the reason for the low graduation rate has been that UDC was receiving students who just weren't ready for college. They needed serious remediation. The community college, which began last August, is the repository for those students.'

ALSO—Allen Sessoms talks transformation at Phoenix conference.

Irish Times covers the smoking-ban exemption bestowed upon the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick: 'Neither Evans nor the Washington chapter of the Sons could be reached by phone, but Jackie McCarthy of the New York chapter said there would be no cigars at their dinner. "I think it's kind of strange that they would allow it," she said. "Since the smoking ban came in, there's absolutely no leniency in it." [Angela Bradbery of Smokefree D.C.] said she thought the waiver was un-Irish. "In Ireland you passed a smoke-free law years before the district," she recalled. "You guys don't smoke cigars in Ireland, so invoking that tradition is ridiculous. The Friendly Sons can go outside if they want to smoke. That's the law. They should abide by it."'

ANOTHER VIEW—'Hypocrisy, thy name is DC Councilman Jack Evans,' says blogger.

Another WaPo voucher editorial: 'The truth is that opponents know how bad it would look to vote against a program that has helped low-income, minority children get a better education. So instead they take no action and hope the program dies a slow, quiet death. Those championing vouchers are right to call out Senate leaders for their cowardly refusal to—at the very least—allow a fair hearing for this successful program.' There is a bit of news therein: Joe Lieberman tried to add a voucher reauthorization amendment to the Senate jobs bill, but Democratic leadership ruled it 'not germane.'

Metro trains have been subject to an increasing spate of 'slow orders,' Kytja Weir reports in Examiner: '[T]he transit agency had 59 speed restrictions on its rail system the same week Metro officials discussed on-time performance last month, according to an internal Metro report obtained by The Examiner. Train operators had to slow trains because of track circuit malfunctions, worn rails, slick conditions and other safety problems, the report said. Some operators say manual operations are being used as an excuse for a broader trend of increasingly bad track problems—many of them found after the crash when a track circuit failed to show a train stopped on the tracks.'

Efforts to up jurisdictional Metro subsidies is covered by Ann Scott Tyson in WaPo: 'The Fair Share petition, organized by Transit First!—a coalition of transit advocates, Metro riders and environmental groups—allows signers to send online messages urging their local representatives to bolster funding to help fill a projected $189 million gap in Metro's budget....Transit First estimated the contributions required from the jurisdictions to make up the $74 million as follows: Maryland, $30 million; the District, $27.4 million; Fairfax County, $9.3 million; Arlington County, $4.5 million; and Alexandria, $2.6 million.'

More on the February murder of 15-year-old Joel Watkins, from Theola Labbé-DeBose in WaPo: Another 15-year-old has been arrested for the crime, rooted in an incident where 'some other teens "faked" on [the suspect and friends], or pretended to have a gun. The trick was meant to disrespect the 15-year-old's group, and it left him angry, authorities said. A couple of weeks later, on Feb. 21, police said, he saw two youths from the other group near Seventh and Rittenhouse streets NW and fatally shot [Watkins].' The suspect, charged as a juvenile, 'is a 10th-grader from Northwest with a consistent attendance record. He had no prior arrests and two school suspensions: one from several years ago for fighting and one for not wearing a uniform.' He will be tried next month.

ALSO—Adelmo Tolentino, 24, is stabbed to death early Tuesday on the 3500 block of 14th Street NW, in Columbia Heights.

A 10-month-old baby died last night after being found unconscious in house just a few doors down from Fenty's Crestwood home. 'A housekeeper found the baby with an object wrapped around her neck in a house on the 4700 block of 17th Street,' WTOP reports. 'The housekeeper ran outside to a security detail parked outside Fenty's house. The detail then called paramedics. It's not known where the child's parents were when the incident occurred.' Also WTTG-TV.

Woman tried to snatch two children from a stroller in Capitol Hill on Monday, WaPo reports: 'It started shortly before 5 p.m. as the female caregiver was walking with the two young children in a stroller, authorities said. Schneider said another woman approached them and tried to grab the children from the stroller, and pull the stroller away....The assailant pulled the caregiver's hair and spit in her face. Capitol Police responded and arrested Crystal Ann Barnes, 23, who has no apparent connection to the children.

Collision between SUV and empty school bus briefly closed New York Avenue NE yesterday afternoon.

Federal appeals court rules that prosecutor's closing-statement exaggerations about PCP don't mean that convicted felon gets off the hook, Legal Times reports.

With court order in hand, Philly Pizza in Georgetown may actually be closed for good, Vox Populi reports. Hizzoner has scheduled a press conference for this morning to tout the 'enforcement action.' However: 'Philly Pizza owner Mehmet Kocak has filed with the D.C. Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs for a new certificate of occupancy.'

The main backer of University High PCS, which aims to open in Capitol Hill's International Graduate University, has apologized for plagiarizing his course descriptions, VotH reports. Said Shelton at an ANC meeting: 'Due to extenuating circumstances, perhaps my oversight wasn't as it should've been....I'm sorry and I'm not sure how that happened or why that happened.'

WTTG-TV's Karen Gray Houston looks at how WASA's dealing with trash washed into the Anacostia River: 'Blame back-to-back snowstorms for all that garbage that's starting to wash up....You may not have known it, but D.C.'s [WASA] is at work five days a week trying to clean up some 400 tons of debris. WASA officials say in the last month, they've seen three times as much as usual. They're hoping the city's bag tax will help with some of the clean up eventually.'

Hey builders: $5.2M in Neighborhood Investment Fund money is available 'to support development of either affordable housing projects of at least 10 units, facilities providing community benefits or mixed-use projects that propose some combination of housing, office space and community facilities' in the 12 NIF-targeted areas, WBJ reports. 'Money can be used toward developers' costs related to planning, environmental work, accounting, market studies, soil testing, legal services and other expenses.'

The city—finally—explains to WCP's Amanda Hess what the procedure is for insuring adoptred children of District employees. 'Although such a policy is hardly sensitive information, and although it should be readily attainable by a DCHR public affairs officer, DCHR refused to answer my questions until I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request. I submitted the FOIA on Feb. 12, and DCHR took its time getting back to me—it took the agency fifteen business days, the maximum allowed, to cough up the policy.'

Norton wants to overhaul Smithsonian board, subbing major government players with little time for the job with 'the kinds of people who are in the governance structure of comparable institutions like major art galleries.'

Charles Colson—yes, that Charles Colson—writes at Catholic Exchange that the Catholic Charities benefits decision demonstrates 'the increasingly fragile state of religious freedom in the America.'

Metro Weekly covers problems with OSSE health data.

DDOT parking meter decal FAIL.

Eric Gilliland is leaving the Washington Area Bicycle Association to head the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

More on female condom distribution from WAMU-FM.

Robert Wone defendant Dylan Ward has moved to Florida, where he is advertising 'sensual massage' services, WMRW? reports.

DDOT prepares to unveil new bike lane plans for downtown streets.

Barry namechecked in Clarence Page column titled, 'Black leaders learn scrutiny comes with power.'

West End Marriott's future still uncertain, says DCmud.

GGW shares DDOT plans for C Street NE redesign.

Pondering the mystery of the LeDroit Park post office.

Carol Joynt asks: 'SHOULD GEORGETOWN SECEDE FROM DC?' Hey, Jack Evans would finally get to be mayor!

Miles Groves, downtown neighborhood activist extraordinaire, died Sunday. Writes the Downtown Neighborhood Association board: 'His dedicated and selfless service was the crucial force behind the downtown area's continued positive growth and harmony with the residents. More specifically, Miles was a key player in our communication with the Council and the Mayor, a voice we would not have had if not for his leadership.' Also Penn Quarter Living.

SAVE THE DATE—Defeat Poverty DC—a new coalition including the Children's Law Center, the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, D.C. Appleseed, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, D.C. Hunger Solutions, the Moriah Fund, the Washington Area Women's Foundations, and Wider Opportunities for Women—is sponsoring a March 24 panel discussion moderated by Tom Sherwood

TODAY ON WTOP—'Ask City Hall' hosted by Mark Segraves, 10 a.m.; guests are Jack Evans and Kwame Brown

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Health agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Mental Health, JAWB 412; Committee on Public Works and Transportation agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Public Works, JAWB 123; Committee on Finance and Revenue meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120; 11:30 a.m.: Committee on Finance and Revenue agency performance oversight hearing on Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board, Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals, and Office of the Chief Financial Officer (including Office of Tax and Revenue), JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—11 a.m.: remarks, regulatory enforcement announcement, 1211 Potomac St. NW.

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