City Desk

Fenty Budget Unveiled Today: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'Four Shot Dead—Where’s Fenty?'; 'Police Wanted Drive-By Suspect Locked Up Last Week'; 'Gray on NewsTalk: ‘I Would Be a Very Different Kind of Leader’'; 'Families Forward Testifies On D.C. General'; and tweets galore!

IN LL WEEKLY—What's Old Is New Again: In Gray for Mayor, a forsaken generation gets a shot at redemption.

Morning all. The Fenty budget is officially unveiled at 10:30 a.m. press conference, but look for tweets from @mikedebonis starting at 9:45, when councilmembers will be privately briefed. Postings will follow at City Desk. WaPo's Nikita Stewart offers this preview: 'About 350 District government jobs could be eliminated, workers' pay will be frozen across the board and health-care and human-services programs could be scaled back....The Fenty administration had to fill an estimated $555 million budget gap and is expected to propose a refinancing that could save $54 million, hikes in parking meters and the city's 911 fee, a D.C. government source said Wednesday evening. Other efforts to close the gap include combining agencies. One such move involves the Office of the Tenant Advocate, and is predicted to cause outcry in the tenants' rights community.' And, of course, no tax hikes, but we shall see how narrow Fenty's definition of 'tax' might be this year.

AFTER THE JUMP—Fallout from South Cap shootings continues; looks like Jack v. Kwame for chair; tight budget plus mayoral race equals nervous legislators; D.C. General problems aired at hearing; Mary Levy goes to work for Gray

Last night, Fenty walked off of a plane and into the maw of an angry neighborhood crowd, seething over what Fenty deemed at a nighttime press conference on South Capitol Street to be 'one of the most violent things that's happened in Washington, D.C.' Police Chief Cathy Lanier got to the heart of the matter, as she so often does, telling reporters, 'There's no more egregious kind of retaliation than to shoot nine people and kill four people as they stand on the street corner because you're ticked off about something.' The sense of tragedy was only heightened yesterday by news that police wanted one of the suspects, 20-year-old Orlando Carter, arrested last week for the March 22 murder of Jordan Howe, but prosecutors chose not to take a warrant to a judge for want of evidence. (Also Examiner.) WaPo's crack crime-and-courts reporters Paul Duggan, Keith Alexander, and Clarence Williams combine to report on what happened Tuesday night and the days leading up to it: Four piled into a Chrysler minivan, a 14-year-old at the wheel (identified by Examiner as Malik Carter, brother of Orlando and of Sanquan Carter, already arrested for Howe's killing). They fired at the crowd standing outside the apartment building that sits high above the northeast corner of South Cap and Brandywine Streets SE using three guns, including a AK-47-like assault rifle. Left dead were Brishell Jones, 16; DaVaughn Boyd, 18; William 'Marley' Jones III, 19, and Tavon Nelson, 17. In addition to the Carter brothers, police have arrested Nathaniel Simms, 26; another suspect escaped arrest and is sought by police. 'The reason for the mayhem? It might have begun with something this trivial: a missing bracelet. "My child barely weighed 100 pounds . . . shot in the temple with an AK-47 . . . bullets all in her body. It's senseless," said Nardyne Jefferies, the mother of [Jones]. Based on evidence and interviews thus far, authorities think the attack was part of a cycle of retaliation spawned a week ago by suspicions of petty theft'—the theft of a cheap bracelet on the night of the 22nd.

CHRONOLOGY—Lanier, after the press conference last night, detailed what led up to the Tuesday shooting. Last Monday, March 22, Howe was murdered in the early morning hours. Police identified two suspects—now identified as the Carter brothers. Prosecutors immediately presented a search warrant for Sanquan to a judge, and he was arrested on Tuesday. The evidence behind Orlando, however, was thinner, and prosecutors would not sign off. Meanwhile, Orlando was shot and wounded on Tuesday, seven hours after his brother is arrested. He was taken to a hospital—by helicopter, according to Lanier—where he was "uncooperative with hospital staff and walked away." And police, meanwhile, were working with the U.S. attorney's office to get a warrant to a judge, to no avail. There was a meeting on Friday to discuss the warrant, but no movement. Prosecutors would not agree to take the evidence to a judge. Said Lanier: 'When we submit an arrest warrant, the U.S. attorney's office has to make a decision. Do we always agree? No. But the bottom line is we don't go forward until we do.'

ATTENTION COLBY—WaPo notes: 'The 14-year-old suspect, charged as a juvenile with first-degree murder, made his initial court appearance at a hearing that was closed to the public....Wearing a hooded jacket, the youth stood in shackles in the courtroom and was ordered held in a juvenile detention center until a court hearing April 7. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth C. Wingo noted that the youth has nine previous convictions on charges including assault and theft and had been placed in the custody of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services six times. Court officials said the youth had fled from detention at least twice and had walked away without permission from DYRS custody before Tuesday's attack.'

LOOK—WaPo photo gallery.

WHERE WAS FENTY?—Both LL and WaPo were wondering where Hizzoner, usually Johnny-on-the-spot during high-profile news events, was in the hours following the drive-by. The mayoral press office refused to detail his whereabouts before the 9:15 p.m. press conference was announced. But the Age of Social Media reigns supreme: A Facebook user spotted Fenty at the Fort Lauderdale airport boarding a 6:05 p.m. U.S. Airways flight destined for DCA. More later today on City Desk.

HEARD ON SOUTH CAP—Shouted at Fenty during last night's presser: 'Gay marriage is more important than lives!'



The broader ramifications of a Vince Gray mayoral run are explored by WaPo's Ann Marimow and Nikita Stewart, who report that council colleagues 'are anxious about the leadership void and uncertainty they say his candidacy creates.' Gray's announcement came two days before the unveiling of the mayoral budget, kicking off what would have been a tough enough budget season even aside from all the Sept. 14-minded politicking. Or, as David Catania puts it, 'This is going to be the most difficult budget in a generation for us to construct and that's challenging enough without having ambitious personalities inserting themselves in unhelpful ways.' The story lauds Gray as 'a patient, collaborative presence, presiding over an often rowdy group of a dozen other council members. Against the backdrop of a weak economy, he helped shepherd legislation that legalized gay marriage, imposed a 5-cent grocery bag tax and rewrote the city's gun laws to comply with a Supreme Court ruling. He also oversaw the unprecedented censuring of [Marion Barry].' Phil Mendelson says it's 'a testament to Vince's skill that members are [asking], How will we survive without him?"'

And after Vince? The race for D.C. Council chairman shapes up: Looks like a Kwame vs. Jack showdown, 'setting up a costly campaign that could hinge on Evans' ability to attract votes from African Americans,' Tim Craig reports in WaPo noting that 'an Evans-Brown matchup could serve as a test of how politics in the District has changed as the city becomes increasingly gentrified.' Evans says he's 'a leader who has the ability to run the council and has a grasp on the financial situation'; Brown, on spring break with family, 'has tried to adopt a populist tone, often trying to position himself as the representative for "the people." But he sometimes struggles to formulate in-depth policy solutions.' Issues? Evans tells NC8: 'I'm a big supporter of Michelle Rhee and the school takeover will be a big issue. If the others don't support that, what is their alternative?' He adds that 'he wants to serve as chairman in the tradition of John Wilson and Linda Cropp.' Evans also brushes off memories of his ill-fated '98 mayor run: 'I wouldn't run if I didn't think I could win.' Question is, how close does he run to Fenty? WTOP's Marks Segraves and Plotkin broke the news and report that 'Fenty has offered to help Evans with fund-raising and political organizing.' Also G'town Voice,

RUBBER MEETS ROAD—'Although many council members privately question Brown's leadership skills, he has so far picked up more endorsements than Evans.' That included, thus far, Harry Thomas and Mary Cheh, who says she 'lined up behind Brown, mostly because she said she thought that Evans was not going to enter the race.' She tells NC8 that Brown is a 'sensible progressive type of legislator.' And Jim Graham says he's neutral and 'thinks the chairman's race could hinge on whether Gray or Fenty (D) has the momentum in the mayor's race during the late summer.' That goes for his endorsement, too, no doubt.

ALSO—From the Marimow/Stewart piece: 'Several council members have privately expressed concerns about having Evans and Brown as leaders. Evans, a Fenty ally, could be problematic, they said, because he would not have a majority of council members on his side despite his status as the longest-serving member. Brown could be the best-positioned to win the chairman's seat, but several council members said he tended to make decisions based on popularity.'

TWITTER ALERT—@JackForChair is live. Second tweet: 'Voters are looking for an experienced Councilmember who knows the city. Who knows DC better than me?'


The myriad problems at the D.C. General family homeless shelter were aired yesterday in a seven-hour hearing before Tommy Wells' human services committee. Jason Cherkis, who's been all over the story, writes: 'Families Forward Inc. [the shelter operator] knew the sorts of questions that would come up. The nonprofit had been the subject of numerous complaints and allegations ranging from the facility's mold and peeling paint, long waits to even see the nonprofit's case managers, inappropriate contact with female residents, and the deaths of two newborns in the past two years....Ruby King-Gregory, Families Forward's CEO, read from a prepared statement only three paragraphs long. The statement made no mention of the dead newborns nor did it directly address the allegations of sexual harassment by her staff. King-Gregory did begin her statement saying: "Even though I would rather be anywhere else but here, I think you for the opportunity to appear before you."' Darryl Fears also covered for WaPo, focusing on allegations of sex between staff and residents and the death of a 5-month-old at the shelter. Human Services chief Clarence Carter declined to discuss specific allegations, much to Wells' chagrin. Also WUSA-TV.

Your dutiful Fencegate update, from WaTimes' Jeff Anderson: DDOT rejects Gray's claim that he filed a permit application in early March, saying it 'never received a proper submission.' So what happened? 'According to the city [DDOT], [Gray attorney Robert Spagnoletti]'s firm misfiled Mr. Gray's permit application to the wrong agency. "DDOT can assume no responsibility for this mistake," [a DDOT inspector] wrote Wednesday to Mr. Gray's lawyers, who declined to comment.' Hmm—Fred Cooke woulda known which agency to send the papers to.

Ahead of this morning's budget announcement, WaPo's Bill Turque looks at how schools funding will fare. The answer: Not as well as Hizzoner might want you to believe. 'At the December budget presentation for principals and parent leaders, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said she wanted hold direct funding to the schools steady at this year's level of $614.3 million....But even if schools hold on to last year's funding level, they will be asked to absorb a series of increases that will effectively cut their budgets. The average cost of a teacher — in salary and benefits — is expected to rise to $84,026 from last year's $81,815. The average salary and benefit package for a principal will grow to $138,710, up from $134,019. For a high school with 50 teachers, this comes to a loss of $142,050.'

BURIED LEDE—Mary Levy, the formidable and voluble DCPS budget expert, 'will be going to work part time for the D.C. Council beginning next week.' LL is told she'll be helping Gray shape the schools budget in the coming months.

Yikes: 'The deterioration of Washington's Metro system could jeopardize federal funding for new transit projects in the area, including a Purple Line light-rail system in Maryland and streetcar networks in Arlington County and the District,' Katherine Shaver reports in WaPo. Why? 'In awarding highly competitive funding for new projects, the Federal Transit Administration considers applicants' ability to maintain their current transit systems. Because governments in Maryland, the District and Northern Virginia are partially responsible for funding Metro, the FTA will weigh the safety and reliability of the Metro system before granting money for new transit lines, transportation planners said.' And 'Metro's long list of safety and infrastructure needs became a sticking point when the FTA initially balked at spending $900 million to help extend the subway to Tysons Corner. That was before Metro had several fatal accidents and safety lapses.' FWIW: 'D.C. transportation officials said they're not concerned about Metro affecting their chances of clinching money for a K Street Transitway or a 37-mile streetcar system.'

A Jonetta Rose Barras column about national politics? Not quite: Barras slams congressional Democrats for claiming to be 'high-ground travelers' after passing health care reform legislation. 'Consider the facts resting in their backyard. That's where 600,000 citizens of the District live who are being denied voting representation in Congress. If there isn't a moral obligation with that one, certainly there is a political one: Most city voters are members of the Democratic Party....While the Senate voted last year 61 to 37 to provide residents in the nation's capital the same right as those in the 50 states, Democrats in the House have yet to consider the bill.' That not enough? How 'bout vouchers: 'Democrats in Congress can get the big head, as my mother would say, thinking that because they have passed health care, they can't fail. But each day they prevent children in the District from receiving a high-quality education and subject residents in the nation's capital to the status of second-class citizens, Democrats are, in fact, failing and surely can't rightfully claim the mantle of moral leader.'

GOOD READ—WCP's Christine McDonald covers D.C.'s worst gas station, the Crown filling station at 3011 MLK Ave. SE.

A Detroit developer is offering DCPS students scholarships in return for perfect attendance records, Examiner reports. Abner McWhorter III, CEO of Paramount Land Holding, will hand over the $4K ducats only if students make it through four years of high school without missing a day. '"Our thought is to give students at least one more incentive to stay in school," McWhorter said, citing poor attendance and high dropout rates in the city's public schools. McWhorter, 39, established the "Show Up to Blow Up" scholarship program in Detroit in 2008. Now, he is extending the incentive to the D.C. Public Schools and Oakland, Calif., Unified school districts....McWhorter chose to expand his program to the District partly because he backs D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her actions to reform the District's public schools. "[Chancellor Rhee] has made a lot of progressive improvements in the school system, and Mr. McWhorter's looking to support those efforts," said Linda Jones, a spokeswoman for McWhorter.'

Former firefighter cadet is sentenced for her role in shooting her ex, Scott McCabe reports in Examiner: 'Prosecutors said 23-year-old Dominique L. Taylor was a cadet at the D.C. fire academy in March 2007 when her boyfriend, Frank D. "Pacman" Johnson, 28, shot the father of her 10-month old child in Southeast Washington. D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert I. Richter sentenced Johnson to 15 years in prison on charges of aggravated assault while armed, carjacking and a weapons offense. Taylor was sentenced to four months behind bars for perjury and obstruction of justice.'

Robert Pettus, 24, convicted of raping and killing a 77-year-old woman in 2004, is back in court for allegedly sexually assaulting his cellmate, WaPo's Alexander reports. Pettus says the man, now dead of unrelated causes, 'made the accusation to get out of the cell they shared because Pettus would not concede the bottom bunk.' More intrigue: 'Months before the trial, Pettus allegedly threatened Judge Michael Rankin during a conversation with...his court-appointed adviser at the time [who] told the judge and resigned as Pettus's adviser, concerned that charges might be filed and he would be called as a witness.' Pettus, acting pro se, questioned his alleged victim's mother at trial.

DCmud has more on the 'giant, trash-filled, oozing hole in the ground' on the 800 block of Kennedy Street NW. The city ordered a slum demolished, but 'debris of brick, wire and metal have filled in the empty foundation. When the snow melted and rain came, the foundation filled with run-off, hence the ungodly smell filling the street.'

ALSO—Via DCmud, the Dupont underground RFP is out [PDF]!

Surprise! 'A new study from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) assessing the economic implications of government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on construction projects in the District of Columbia determined that implementing PLAs would hurt local workers and businesses.'

Metro Weekly covers meet-and-greet with new GLLU officers. 'Rather than contention, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers and members of the local LGBT community were greeted with chocolate cupcakes, sandwiches and live music...As the dozens of attendees stood in a sort of conversation circle, all facing one another during the introductions, Amy Loudermilk's comments garnered the most attention. ''I know so many people decided to join the GLLU because of that $10,000 extra bump in your salary,'' Loudermilk said to assorted tittering, ''so I understand you. But this is why we held this event, to say thank you, and we know why you're doing this, and it's not for an extra $10,000 … because you care.'''

Metro briefly runs 14-car train.

Columbia Heights neighbors remember slain 9-year-old Oscar Fuentes

Child-care advocates stump for funding at JAWB press conference, Informer reports.

New at RFK for soccer games: Ben's half-smokes, Ledo pizza, and Fat Face BBQ.

Seen at JAWB: Carol Schwartz!

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Housing and Workforce Development hearing on B18-548 ('Rent Increase Amendment Act of 2009') and B18-598 ('Tenant Organization Petition Standing Amendment Act of 2009'), JAWB 500; 11 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation agency performance oversight hearing on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Housing and Workforce Development hearing on B18-0545 ('Keep D.C. Working Act of 2009'), JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10:30 a.m.: remarks, release of mayoral budget proposal, JAWB steps.

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