Let the Sunshine In: Loose Lips Daily
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'Marion Barry Now Driving a Corolla, Owes $465 in Tickets'; 'Is Don Peebles Ready to Run?'; 'D.C. General: Weed, Stench, And Staff Come-Ons'; 'Why Is Families Forward Still Running D.C. General?'; and tweets galore!
Morning all. At yesterday's council session, Muriel Bowser introduced her 'Open Government is Good Government Act', with Kwame Brown signing on as co-introducer of the open-meetings bill. Co-sponsoring the measure were Jim Graham, Harry Thomas Jr., David A. Catania, Tommy Wells, Michael A. Brown, and Vincent Gray—giving the measure a decisive eight supporters. Gray's endorsement is notable, given his key opposition to a similar 2006 measure. Writes Tim Craig at D.C. Wire: 'Gray's decision to sign on as co-sponsor comes as he considers whether to challenge Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the September Democratic primary. If he does, Fenty (D) will probably try to portray Gray as too aligned with the old ways of doing business in Washington. Gray, by signing on to Bowser's bill, has begun to try to neutralize Fenty on that issue.' But, as WAMU-
FM reports, the bill is no magic elixir for D.C. government transparency. Says one advocate: 'Putting an open meetings law under a huge umbrella act like that and making it sound like this is the 'be all end all' in good government can sort of be misleading to your constituents.'
BELOW THE JUMP—Full rundown of D.C. Council business; Jaffe calls Gray mayoral run a 'suicide mission'; Senate refuses to reauthorize vouchers; the case for charter facilities equity; take the Marion Barry tour of D.C.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS—
—Craig also covers a lengthy debate over whether the D.C. Jail should be allowed to release inmates late at night without providing certain basic amenities. 'Under [Phil Mendelson]'s proposal, if an inmate is released during the overnight hours, the Department of Corrections must assure that the person being released has access to housing, a ride, and "street clothing worn by citizens."...But Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and David A. Catania (I-At large), backed by Attorney General Peter Nickles, argued it would be unconstitutional to detain an inmate even a few hours longer than the sentence calls for....Mendelson, however, countered that inmates who are released overnight do not have access to the services they need to restart their lives post-confinement....Mendelson's proposal was eventually approved overwhelmingly, but not before council members sparred over whether the American Civil Liberties Union supports or opposes the bill, underscoring the influence that organization has with the council.' Nickles, citing constitutional concerns, tells Examiner that he's likely to ignore the law anyway. Also WAMU-FM.
—A Graham-sponsored measure would ban employers from using credit checks to screen job candidates, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. 'The District joins at least a dozen states to eye a ban on the practice. "I've heard from my own constituents who have been turned down for jobs, some as unrelated to credit as contracting and selling shoes, because of their own credit issues," Graham said. "Why put up an artificial barrier to hiring when it is already an uphill battle to find a job?"...There are a handful of exemptions—applicants for managerial, professional or executive positions with a financial institution, for example. The D.C. legislation is modeled after a measure idling in the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.'
—The council approved an additional $255,000 for the DCPS Capital Gains pay-for-grades program without debate, Alana Goodman reports in Examiner. This, despite concerns about the program's accountability: '[S]ince the trial study began, the District has released no information about whether the program has improved the academic performance of participating students.'
—Mary Cheh introduces bill to overhaul property disposal process, in response to fishy fire truck saga.
—Kwame Brown introduces bill that would require firing of teachers who have sex with students. But no emergency measure was considered yesterday.
In his Examiner column, Harry Jaffe tells Gray why it would be a 'suicide mission' to run against Fenty: 'Out of my deep respect, I think it's time to present five reasons Gray should not run for mayor. 1. Gray's support is extremely loud but paper thin. The elderly elite that supported former Chairwoman Linda Cropp against Fenty has lined up behind Gray. They are the lobbyists and interest groups that lost power and are desperate to grab it back. Fenty beat them four years ago; they would lose again....4. In the mudslinging that's part of every campaign, Gray would get smeared....5. The most important reason that Vince Gray should shut his ears to the siren song calling him to run for mayor is this: The city needs him as city council chairman. If he takes on Fenty, he gives up his chair. In the past three years, he has learned to run the fractious dozen members well, and he will get better.'
As LL noted yesterday, there are signs that Don Peebles may still be readying a mayoral run. Add this too the list: Jonathan O'Connell reports in WBJ that Peebles will be keynoting the D.C. Chamber of Commerce's May 20 business summit. 'Peebles, a frequent guest on CNBC, could be a big ticket seller for the chamber, which is enduring decreased membership and arguing that the city ought to provide more business-friendly policies. Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the chamber, said in the release that, "As one of America's most successful businessmen and a native son of Washington, Don will surely offer a riveting perspective on the current state of business and the opportunities that exist for ambitious entrepreneurs."'
ALSO—O'Connell covers efforts by city planners to gauge retail traffic without simply measuring cars, lest they 'get caught footing the bill for another under-used parking garage, such as the one under the DC USA shopping center in Columbia Heights.' And more on the M.M. Washington redevelopment deal.
Interesting development: Yvette Alexander has endorsed Graham for re-election, Graham adviser Chuck Thies reports in a tweet. Interesting because Alexander employs Nyasha Smith, wife of Graham challenger Jeff Smith.
The U.S. Senate yesterday voted against reauthorizing the D.C. voucher program, Michael Birnbaum reports in WaPo, signaling the program's imminent demise. 'Tuesday's 55 to 42 vote was widely seen as one of the final chances for the program to be extended beyond the students who are already currently enrolled. Funding will continue for current students until they graduate high school, but has been cut off to new students for a year. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced an amendment to a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration that would have extended the voucher program for five years and funded it at $20 million a year, opening it to new students...."Many teachers in our nation's capital...are just not providing an adequate education to their students," Lieberman said. "We're giving these children the ability to save their own lives."' Dem senators cited the growth of city charter schools for their opposition.
ALSO—Lou Chibbaro Jr. notes in DC Agenda that another amendment to the FAA bill, one that would bay gay marriages in D.C., did not come up for a vote. '[Sen. Robert Bennett]'s office did not return calls seeking to determine why he didn't offer the amendment before the list restricting new amendments was approved. It could not be immediately determined whether Bennett's GOP colleagues persuaded him to stop moving ahead with the amendment or whether he made the decision on his own.'
WaPo editorial board silent on voucher vote, but rather stumps for Maryland bag tax: 'Judging by early experience in the District and other places with similar legislation, such a measure is effective, with many consumers making the switch to reusable bags. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) told Maryland committee members that large stores in the city have reported a 50 percent drop in plastic bag use. He related the story of one owner, originally opposed to the initiative, who reported an 80 to 90 percent drop in bag usage plus significant reductions in her overhead costs. That underscores the fact that the bags are not free—there's a cost to consumers, to businesses and to governments that have to clean up the mess in waterways and neighborhoods.'
Is the charter school facility allotment again going to be an issue this budget season? Advocate Mark Lerner writes in Examiner piece that charter officials want equity with DCPS capital funding: 'When [former PCSB chair Tom Nida]'s group reviewed the per pupil amount that DCPS has spent on average over the last 3 years the number comes out to approximately $3,200. The task force quickly came to the conclusion that this is the figure that they should request from the Mayor in order to have equity between the 2 school systems....Robert Cane at FOCUS has hinted that the Mayor will try and keep the charter school facility allotment at $2,800 per pupil.'
In other Sunshine Week news: '[A]dvocates for patient safety are pushing for access to information that would promote patient safety and allow consumers to choose between hospitals based on available data such as the infection rate of each hospital or the complication rates for certain procedures. The hospitals have this data readily available. This information should be available to D.C. patients and their families. More than half of the states have mandatory reporting requirements for hospital infections. No such requirement exists in the District of Columbia,' writes trial lawyer Catherine Bertram.
Brookland Properties is eyeing as many as 20 Oliver Carr-developed D.C. buildings that are now part of debt-ridden Tishman Speyer's portfolio, WSJ reports. 'The buildings are one of the largest collections of prime office space in Washington's central business district. But their cash flow is barely enough to cover service on the debt. One problem: Leases on about 12% of the rentable square footage are expiring this year, according to Standard & Poor's.'
WBJ: 'The District plans to finalize financing for Rhode Island Station, a transit-oriented mixed-use development near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station, with A&R Development Corp. and Urban Atlantic, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Valerie Santos told a D.C. Council committee Tuesday. The developers of the $90 million-plus project, nearly a decade in the making, are expected to announce a ground breaking date in a month's time.'
Unidentified 16-year-old is the third person charged in the Feb. 12 murder of Carlos B. Alexander.
Two-alarm fire in Dupont office building closed streets yesterday afternoon.
Three cases of scarlet fever at Terrell ES in Congress Heights, WTTG-TV reports.
WaTimes commentary piece calls city-NIH 'test and treat' AIDS-fighting strategy a 'pharmaceutical experiment on hundreds of mostly black homosexual men and heterosexual women.'
Transit police issue warning about iPod thefts trageting teens.
Eleanor Holmes Norton pushes federal officials to keep government buildings open to 'law-abiding citizens,' WaPo reports.
WaPo covers efforts of local day laborers to get money owed to them by unscrupulous contractors.
Christian Science Monitor covers Mentoring Today program, which 'has inspired mentors to donate more than 1,800 volunteer hours, which have helped more than 30 young men remake their lives. Last year, the nonprofit raised more than $350,000 from donors and grantmakers to fund its services.'
Michelle Rhee vouches for 'Everyday Mathematics' textbooks in publisher press release.
Michael Brown's hotel-tax bill draws some libertarian fire.
Lagal Times covers how local law school are dealing with a dearth of legal jobs for graduates.
Rider of derailed Metro train decries operator's firing in WaPo letter: 'It is clear that there was a sequence of events that led to the derailment, not all of which were under the operator's control. To fire her while placing a worker at central control on leave is clearly scapegoating.'
City HIV/AIDS epidemiology report to be announced this morning.
Take the Marion Barry tour of Washington.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment agency performance oversight hearing on Office of Disability Rights, Department of Real Estate Services, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Office of Risk Management, and Office of the City Administrator, JAWB 412; Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary roundtable on 'Continuing Overtime and Pay Problems in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department,' JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10:30 a.m.: remarks, HAHSTA epidemiology report announcement, 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE.