City Desk

‘Local Control Stuff': 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—"Defense Challenges Alleged 'Wipe Marks' On Victim Robert Wone In Cover Up Case," "Toxic D.C. Tap Water Tops Off Week of Gloomy Health News," "DHCD Releases Almost-Final Draft of Five-Year Plan"

Howdy. How do we not start things off with this story? WaPo's Tim Craig reports that D.C. high school students and college-age men have complained that the free condoms the city gives out are of poor quality and are too small. The story, as any story on government and sex ed must include, introduces us all to something called WrapMC. I'm guessing this is an Olympic-style mascot to teach kids sex-ed. Or maybe not. Craig reports: "High school students and college-age adults have been complaining to District officials that the free condoms the city has been offering are not of good enough quality and are too small and that getting them from school nurses is 'just like asking grandma or auntie.' So D.C. officials have decided to stock up on Trojan condoms, including the company's super-size Magnum variety, and they have begun to authorize teachers or counselors, preferably male, to distribute condoms to students if the teachers complete a 30-minute online training course called 'WrapMC' — for Master of Condoms. 'If people get what they don't want, they are just going to trash them,' said T. Squalls, 30, who attends the University of the District of Columbia. "So why not spend a few extra dollars and get what people want?'...Because Trojans are considered the better-known brand, city officials say, they are willing to spend an extra few thousand dollars a year to try to persuade sexually active teenagers to practice safer sex. The Durex condoms will still be offered." Trojan needs to do an entire ad campaign around this story. More coverage via The Examiner.

PRAYING OVER GUNS: D.C. Activists held a pray-in on the Hill to protest a bill that would gut the city's gun laws. D.C. Wire's Mike DeBonis reports: "The targeting of Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) was organized by D.C. Vote and featured three clergy members — the Rev. Dr. E. Gail Anderson Holness, president of the Council of Churches of Greater Washington; the Rev. Mark A. Schaefer, a Methodist chaplain at American University; and Roger Burns of the Friends Meeting of Washington. They were joined by D.C. Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka and Outreach Director Eugene D. Kinlow. The bill in question was co-introduced last month by Tester and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and would 'make it easier to buy guns and ammunition in the District and to repeal local registration and firearm storage requirements,' according to an article by The Post's Ann E. Marimow....The protesters arrived at Tester's offices in the Hart Senate Office Building shortly before 9:30 and waited in the lobby for about 30 minutes. The five stood in a circle, taking turns saying prayers as receptionists typed and answered calls. Once he arrived, Tester spoke outside with the activists for about 10 minutes." Key graph(s): "Tester was polite but noncommittal. 'I appreciate the perspective,' he told them. 'If I'm going to be right straight honest with you, we can agree to disagree. I get the local control stuff. I appreciate that. The 2nd Amendment stuff is a little more firm in my soul because of where it is in the Constitution.' Holness pressed Tester on whether or not he might decide to withdraw his support of the bill.
'Gosh, no, I can't,' the senator said." I get the local control stuff. Thanks, asshole.

AFTER THE JUMP—D.C. Council loves soda, reading scores are up, new bike lane troubles, Gray snags an important endorsement.

SODA TAX FALLS FLAT: The Examiner's Alan Suderman reports that Councilmember Mary Cheh's proposed tax on sodas is all but dead. And Cheh had Morgan Freeman making calls, lobbying! Suderman writes: "Several council members had a litany of complaints against Cheh's proposal, including that the tax applies too broadly, hurts lower-income families, and hadn't followed the typical procedural process. Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. said that Cheh's taxes would apply to sports drinks like Gatorade and Muscle Milk. He said he doesn't think residents should have to pay an extra 20 cents on a bottle of sports drink. Thomas said he'd received a call from the actor Morgan Freeman seeking support of Cheh's tax. 'Mr. Freeman I love you, but what about the Gatorade drinker,' Thomas said was his response." Yes, what about the Gatorade Drinker? For those non-exercise freaks, Muscle Milk may be as gross as it sounds. More coverage via D.C. Wire.

GOOD NEWS OUT OF DCPS: Reading scores are up in a sort of impressive way. WaPo's Nick Anderson reports: "A federal study of trends in 11 major urban school systems shows that only one has made significant gains in reading achievement since 2007 in fourth and eighth grades: D.C. Public Schools. The finding emerges from an analysis of 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress data made public Thursday....Despite the advances, the 44,500-student system continues to trail far behind schools in the suburbs, other big cities and the nation. It faces huge challenges to further improvement related to poverty in many parts of the nation's capital and troubles within its schools." More coverage via The Examiner.

WaPo's editorial board uses the scores to pen its millionth mash note to Michelle Rhee and make the case that she remain chancellor no matter the outcome in November: "Given the mounting evidence of positive movement, we continue to wonder why everyone in this city would not seek to ensure that Ms. Rhee stays in office. But we worry that progress could fall victim to the battle for mayor between Mr. Fenty and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray. If reelected, Mr. Fenty would retain the chancellor; indeed, school reform is the centerpiece of his reelection bid. Mr. Gray's intentions are less clear; he says that he is open to the chancellor staying, but he also has criticized her leadership. On Thursday, Mr. Gray again reacted with ambivalence, welcoming the improvement in test scores while noting that 'real school reform is about more than test scores and cannot be the only barometer of achievement.' That's certainly true, but what other barometers is he examining, and what is he seeing there? If Mr. Gray doesn't think the city is making sufficient progress, we hope he will say so and explain what he would do differently."

COMMUTER TAX: WBJ's Michael Neibauer reports that the D.C. Council is considering the tax: "D.C. Council members said Thursday they would back budget language to implement a commuter income tax through an amendment to the Home Rule Charter. As the council’s second day of televised budget talks got under way, Councilman Harry Thomas, D-Ward 5, raised the issue that has long needled District leaders: A half-million people work in the nation’s capital but live elsewhere, and their income cannot be taxed at the source. Thomas proposed a Home Rule Charter amendment to 'impose any tax on the whole or any portion of the personal income either directly or at source thereof of any individual not a resident of the District.' His colleagues expressed their support. The charter explicitly bars the District from installing a commuter tax, which would raise upward of $500 million a year for the city’s treasury."

BIKE LANES NOT READY: The new bike lanes along Pennsylvania Avenue need work. WTOP's Adam Tuss reports: "While the D.C. Department of Transportation was hoping to officially open the lanes on Bike to Work Day this Friday — the lanes are not ready. 'I have some concerns actually about certain blocks,' Gabe Klein, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation tells WTOP. 'Overall, it is great, but there are certain blocks where the lanes are very wide, and I have seen cars actually enter the lanes because it looks like a car lane.' Klein would not talk about exact locations, but says some major and minor tweaks are needed to the bike lanes before he will be comfortable cutting a ribbon. 'I think we are talking about weeks,' Klein says. 'I question whether the design is perfect at this point, and I really want it to be perfect.' While the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes — running from 15th to 3rd streets in Northwest — are not officially open, bicyclists have already begun using them." More coverage via WUSA9, DCist.

RAPE-KIT BACKLOG: NC8 is reporting that the D.C. Police are making progress to address the backlog in processing rape kits: "In 2000, the department had 800 sexual assault kits that hadn't been tested. Today, it has 270. By 2012, the department hopes to have zero. 'So we're not different in any respect. I don't think as many of them will say they have a plan for eliminating it like we do,' said DC's Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham. District police used to rely on the FBI (web) to test sexual assault kits, but recently built its own crime lab. It's also building a much larger and more sophisticated lab, which should be up and running by fall of 2012."

CAFRITZ SORTA HEARTS GRAY: WaPo's Tim Craig reports that Council Chair Vincent Gray has won an important endorsement in his mayoral run: Peggy Cooper Cafritz. Still, Cafritz has some work to do if she wants to campaign for the man who'd unseat Fenty. Craig writes: "If you were one of the 250 people who attended the D.C. Appleseed dinner that night, you would have never known that Cafritz is rooting for Gray over Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the September Democratic primary. D.C. Appleseed honored Cafritz with a community achievement award for her record of supporting public education. When Cafritz took the stage, she immediately began telling the crowd of lawyers and community leaders that they need to be 'very careful over the next few months' not to do anything to upset ongoing school reform efforts. 'In Washington D.C. we have the tendency to change one thing before we give it a chance to work,' said Cafritz, in what appeared to an endorsement of Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee....In an interview after the dinner, Cafritz cautioned her speech wasn't designed to try to influence in the mayor's race. In fact, she told the Washington Post she's willing to go public for the first time with her support for Gray. 'He is incredibly smart and he has really devoted his career to public service,' said Cafrtiz."

BOGUS DRUG STORY OF THE WEEK: WTOP reports: "The new drug on the streets is legal but it may not be safe. The herb, most commonly referred to as K-2 but also known as 'Spice' and 'Gold Spice,' is sprayed with a chemical that mimics the high of marijuana. It is being sold in some tobacco stores as well as some bait and tackle shops. Although K2 is marketed as incense and not for human smoking consumption, the product is being smoked by adults and kids. Barbara Carreno, a DEA Public Affairs Officer, says people who have gotten sick have had symptoms including agitation, seizures, hallucinations, and paranoia." The station fails to find a single person who has used the drug; D.C. Police is quoted as saying 'Gold Spice' hasn't turned up in the city.

ROBERT WONE: Paramedic testifies for second day.

LOST: The TV show gets the Hank Stuever treatment on A1: "America, it's so obvious: Millions of you loved 'Lost' because you feel lost."

FAREWELL: Congrats to DCist's Sommer Mathis who announced yesterday that she will be leaving the website for a new gig at TBD.com.

KOJO: On the Politics Hour: "Maryland elections officials wage war against fake political Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts. D.C. lawmakers standoff with the mayor over fee hikes and budget fixes. And Virginia politicians draw battle lines on off-shore drilling."

MAYOR'S SCHEDULE:

8 a.m. Remarks
Bike to Work Day
Location: Freedom Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

10:45 a.m. Remarks
Announcement of the Yes! Organic Market
Location: 2323 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

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  • Manor

    Oh yay, another commuter tax debate! Lets spend gazillions of hours and untold money debating it, then watch congress strike it down since THE COUNCIL DOESN'T T UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DC AND CONGRESS!!

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    The communter tax will happen when Marion Barry get the Nobel Prize for education!

  • Tasty Snatch

    DC local politicking has to be like shooting fish into a barrel. People must actually realize that DC is the crackhoe being pimped by Congress.

    DC can raise up and try to disrespect its pimp by debating a commuter tax... That shit's gonna get smacked down.

    Use the money and time wasted on something so fucking stupid to build a juvenile SuperMax.

  • Manor

    Jason, any idea why the council hearing on DYRS and absonders was postponed today?

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  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com Jason Cherkis

    Manor: the hearing was postponed because of the on-going budget talks; Gray called a budget meeting w/ all the Councilmembers. So the hearing got delayed.

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