Transparency Is Awesome: Loose Lips Daily
As much local politics as humanly possible. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'Robert Wone's 'Meticulous' Habits Contrary to Cluttered Crime Scene," "Voice of Maureen Bunyan Pivotal To Robert Wone Case," "EMS Worker Was Suspicious of Robert Wone Pal Price"
Howdy. Good afternoon. Lots good stuff so let's get to it. First big news on budget transparency. Nonprofits and social service providers won a big victory yesterday. They had been grumbling behind the seems—and to LL—about how the haggling over the budget would be taking place mostly behind closed doors. Well, D.C. Council Chair—and mayoral candidate—Vince Gray responded to those grumblings and has agreed to broadcast the horsetrading on Channel 13 today. Gray wrote to D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute's Executive Director Ed Lazere with the news. The letter was then forwarded to the press by Gray staff. Gray writes:
"I am alerting your organization and others who wrote me on May 13th that I have arranged for the Office of Cable Television to air live on Council Channel 13 (Comcast) the informal Councilmember budget discussion at 10 AM on Wednesday, May 19th. In addition, I have opened Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building for the public to view the budget talks via the television monitor in the hearing room at the same time they air live. As is standard, the public also can view the live proceedings on the Council web site at www.dccouncil.us. I am pleased to offer this new access to the public, which is in line with my continuing efforts to promote transparency in government.
As you may be aware, all Councilmembers and select staff attend these informal meetings in the Chairman’s Conference Room on the 5th floor of the Wilson Building. Last year, I opened the sessions to the press as very limited space allowed. I have made these sessions more open than ever by allowing press access. The news coverage has generated enormous feedback from the public through emails directly to members and to staff, phone calls and face-to-face conversations. In addition, pages and pages of public witnesses have testified at marathon budget oversight hearings and mark-ups in recent weeks, and have used these opportunities to comment on agency budgets, and on possible cuts and revenue raising ideas they learned about from numerous news reports, neighborhood list servs and other social media.
I hope that by witnessing these budget talks on television or online, District of Columbia residents will be motivated to offer even more feedback to Councilmembers as we face difficult decisions and the first vote on the budget on May 26th. We sincerely appreciate and consider this feedback to be important to the process of formulating a budget plan that meets the needs of our city in very challenging economic times.
Thank you for your steadfast interest in the fiscal affairs of the District of Columbia."
LL loves transparency. You should too.
AFTER THE JUMP: A congressional foe goes down, more from the Wone trial, a mysterious death on the Metro, the D.C. Council fails to address Fenty's fee increases, and much, much, more!
SEE YA, SOUDER: D.C. Wire's Mike DeBonis reports that Rep. Mark Souder's sudden resignation is a boon to the District as the congressman had been one of the most notorious meddlers in city affairs taking particular aim at our gun laws and our needle-exchange program. DeBonis gets great quotes from Councilmember David Catania on the good news. He writes: "Local self-determination advocates will remember Souder 'as one of the more outspoken people who was willing to impose his own views over the objections of the elected representatives and people of the District,' says Walter Smith, executive director of D.C. Appleseed, a think tank that advocates for D.C. voting rights. At least one city official made no attempt to disguise his glee at Souder's demise. 'Ding-dong, the witch is dead,' said At-Large Council member David A. Catania (I) this afternoon. 'You could almost hyperventilate explaining the hypocrisy of this man's career....I'm sorry for his wife, but I'm glad it happened to him. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.'"
BROWN AND GRAY WIN ENDORSEMENTS: D.C. Wire reports that Gray and Brown have won pivotal endorsements from labor: "Council Chairman Vincent Gray picked up the backing Wednesday of the American Federation of Government Employees, a federal and D.C. government employee union that represents 600,000 workers. In announcing support for Gray in his mayoral bid, the group took aim in a statement at Mayor Adrian Fenty, who has had tense relations with city government workers throughout his tenure. 'We understand that this election is a fight for the soul of the District of Columbia. Will this be a city that supports working people or will it be a city that only supports the wealthy and well-connected? That is what we're fighting for and that is why we're supporting Vincent Gray.' Separately, the Service Employees International Maryland/DC State Council announced support Wednesday for Council member Kwame Brown (D-At Large) in his campaign to succeed Gray as chairman.The union, which represents 15,000 workers in the Washington region, pledged to help Brown with mailings and door-to-door campaigning as he faces former council member Vincent Orange in the Democratic primary. The group praised Brown for his support of legislation guaranteeing paid sick time for workers and for a measure that boosted wages for private security officers." D.C. Wire also reports that Brown is getting financial backing from the District's bigwigs.
FEE FIGHT: Yesterday, the D.C. Council decided it wanted to play no part in enacting Mayor Fenty's proposed fee increases as a way of increasing much needed revenue. The Examiner's Alan Suderman reports: "The D.C. Council on Tuesday came close to passing Mayor Adrian Fenty's proposed increases for more than 600 fees and fines — including a tenfold increase for some driving tickets — before having second thoughts and telling the mayor to do it himself. 'If you want to nickel-and-dime residents ... then take full responsibility for it,' said Councilman Phil Mendelson, D-at large. Fenty proposed more than $7.5 million worth of fee and fine increases effective June 1 to close a budget gap in the fiscal year that ends in September. The increases are wide-ranging and include higher fees for businesses and nonprofits as well as raising the fines for 71 vehicle citations." More coverage via D.C. Wire, WTOP, WBJ.
METRO DEATH: WaPo's Martin Veil reports on a man who was found dead riding the Red Line: "As recounted Tuesday by Metro, based on a preliminary investigation, the man apparently boarded the train at the Twinbrook Station about 10:15 a.m. He remained onboard as the train headed south into the District and then on to Silver Spring. After the train turned around there, the man apparently was still onboard as it headed back into the District, and then on to the Red Line terminal at Shady Grove. At Shady Grove, it was taken out of service about 11:55 a.m. and went into the rail yard there. The body, which apparently had remained on the train, in the yard, for three hours, was found at 2:55 p.m. as the train was prepared for afternoon service. According to Metro, emergency personnel were summoned, and the man was pronounced dead. The agency said he was in the last car of eight." More coverage via The Examiner, NBC4.
ROBERT WONE TRIAL DAY TWO: Again, the bloggers at Who Murdered Robert Wone provide a super detailed account of the conspiracy trial's second day of testimony. Robert's widow Kathy Wone testified about the demeanor of the three roommates in the aftermath of the murder—they seemed shell shocked. Neighbors testified about hearing a scream the night of the murder. The big news: D.C. Police detectives waited three weeks to interview them. Then came an EMT worker. The bloggers write:
"EMT Jeff Baker, first to arrive at 1509, took the stand. He relayed his 14 years of experience answering calls in DC, minor and traumatic. He’s seen several hundred violent crime scenes including many stabbings. He described the typical atmosphere he sees as 'chaotic.' He arrived at 1509, saw Zaborsky on a phone at the stoop and proceeded upstairs with a Reeves stretcher. He says he saw the unresponsive Ward even before getting to the top of the stairs. In the guestroom he observed Price sitting on the bed with his back to him, a leg tucked up underneath.
Baker volunteered, '…hair stood up on the back of my neck.' A moment later, the entire defense table seemed to erupt with an objection, as if they’ve been waiting years for that moment. Sustained.... [AUSA] Kirschner asked Baker about life saving measures and was told that in the ambulance on the way to GW, a firefighter was compressing Robert’s chest while his EMT colleague was hooking up an IV. It went into the bend of the elbow while Baker worked Robert’s airway. It was en route to GW that Baker noticed the striations on Robert’s abdomen. 'It looked like it was wiped down,' and that the imprint of a towel’s texture was visible. 'It looked like a light film,'… moist with linear marks.
Kirschner showed Baker a large blow up of an autopsy photo, government exhibit #381, and it was briefly visible to the audience. Members of the Wone family were crying even before that. Baker was asked about other needle puncture marks and said he was not authorized to insert needles into a patient’s chest. He also said there would’ve been no reason for any resuscitative needles in Robert’s feet or ankles. While hooked up to monitors in the ambulance, Baker said Robert was ‘P.E.A’, meaning Pulseless Electrical Activity. Flat line."
Remarks re: Washington Kastles Season Kick-Off
Location: Old Convention Center Site
11th and H St. NW