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District Fails On Jobs, Living Wage: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Fenty, Transparency, Scrutiny: The Political Fallout of FOIA Reform," "Council Ices Statehood Committee," "Mount Pleasant NIMBYs Battle Over Haydee's," "Photos: Strasburg's Debut @ Nationals Park," "Triple Shooting Near Howard University"

Howdy. D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols finds that the District rarely enforces laws providing that city contractors hire local workers and pay living wages. Along with the city's high unemployment rate, and staggering homeless problem, LL wonders where is the mayor on this issue? Michael Neibauer reports: "District laws requiring that developers of taxpayer-funded projects hire D.C. residents and pay their employees a living wage are poorly monitored and rarely enforced, a new audit finds.The failure of multiple District agencies, primarily the Department of Employment Services, to manage or even implement the 'first source' and living wage programs has cost hundreds of D.C. residents potential jobs and the city government millions in potential tax revenue, D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols concluded in the May 18 report. District residents, Nichols reported, 'may not be receiving an equitable hourly wage rate.'"

Neibauer goes on to report: "Meanwhile, of the 700,000 jobs in D.C., 72 percent are held by non-District residents, said Councilman Michael Brown, D-At large, who has oversight of DOES as chairman of the Housing and Workforce Development Committee. 'When you’re looking at these high unemployment numbers,' he said, 'I don’t know what is a higher priority.' Only four of 16 development projects that Nichols reviewed met the 51 percent hiring requirement. The 12 that did not, including DC USA, Kenyon Square and the Mandarin Oriental hotel, amounted to 361 jobs and $14.3 million in earnings lost. While that is an estimated figure, Nichols wrote, 'it shows the type of economic fortune that could have occurred for the District and its residents had District agency officials and developers been more committed to FSA laws and processes.'"

More coverage via the Examiner's Alan Suderman: "Nichols found that Mayor Adrian Fenty's office had essentially ignored the city's Living Wage Act of 2006, which requires city contractors to pay workers at least $12.10 an hour. Nichols also noted that Fenty's administration, including Attorney General Peter Nickles, refused to allow her access to all the documents she requested for the audit. The mayor's spokeswoman and Nickles could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday."

And Nickles wants to toughen the city's FOIA laws making it that much harder for reporters and citizens to access government documents. If he won't turn over materials to the city's auditor, do you think he'll turn over materials to you? This LL bets our AG has spent more man hours stonewalling Pershing Park plaintiffs attorneys or suing lawyers in special education cases than going after contractors who fail to live up to their obligations to city workers. Council Chair Vincent Gray won't need a focus group to realize he needs to make this a campaign issue.

AFTER THE JUMP—Politics and Prose owners say store is for sale, more Tax Office Troubles, Trey Joyner's family speaks out, Fenty addresses Hadar resignation, and much, much more!

POLITICS AND PROSE: WaPo's Michael Rosenwald reports that the beloved bookstore is up for sale: "The store's owners, Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, both 74 and so in synch they often wear the same colors without planning to, said they are simply too tired to keep steering Washington's most prominent non-chain bookstore — a premier stop on top-shelf author tours and a frequent setting for book talks on C-SPAN — through the uncertainty of an industry threatened by e-books. Cohen is also seriously ill. 'It's time for us to stop and let somebody else take over for the future,' Meade said in the 26-year-old store's cramped office. Cohen, eyes reddening, said, 'I just don't have the energy like I used to.' Meade and Cohen said that their 60 employees are nervous but that the sale should not be perceived as the store's final chapter. Despite doom and gloom in the industry, Meade said, 'there are no financial problems here. We make a good profit.'" More coverage via WBJ, DCist. On their blog, the bookstore's owners promise: "Although we are contemplating retirement, we anticipate maintaining a regular presence during the transition, and hopefully afterward. Our goal is to find new leadership to operate the business in the spirit which has been our hallmark. As always, we'll see you at the store!"

TAX OFFICE TROUBLES (AGAIN): The Examiner's Scott McCabe reports that a D.C. tax office investigator and a Bethesda businessman have been indicted on bribery charges: "Shelly-Ann N. Wicker, an investigator for the Office of Tax and Revenue, and John F. Craul, owner of a corporate tax consulting firm, were indicted on 28 counts of bribery and forgery charges. The alleged scheme lasted between 2005 and 2007, ending mere months before the FBI uncovered a different $50 million scandal in the same office. Reached by phone Wednesday, Craul called the charges ridiculous. 'I have never bribed anybody, and they don't have proof,' Craul said. 'If Shelly did it, she did it on her own.' Craul said he and Wicker were good friends, and he loaned her money and she paid him back. 'I wish I could afford to bribe somebody,' Craul said, 'but I don't have any money.'" The scheme cost the District roughly $106,000.

D.C. STATEHOOD: WaPo's Mike DeBonis assesses the District's failed efforts to win voting rights in Congress and where to go from here. Vincent Gray offers a simple solution: fight for statehood. DeBonis writes: "Gray and others explain their frustration as rooted in political reality: The Democratic Party has majority control of Congress, plus a Democratic president in Obama. But still the voting-rights compromise has failed. 'If we can't get it now, then when?' asked Gray, who is running for mayor. 'Why don't we just go for the whole enchilada?' 'There's a greater understanding that it's not any more difficult to get statehood than it is to get a single House vote,' said Michael D. Brown (D), one of two shadow senators elected by District voters to advocate for statehood. And that new understanding has been accompanied by second-guessing. 'Statehood is the big fish, and I think we should have put more effort in that originally,' said member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), who heads up the council's voting-rights advocacy efforts. 'We would have made much more headway if we have just focused on that.' The failure of the one-vote compromise has also emboldened longtime statehood activists who have been overshadowed by the voting-rights establishment. 'It's an I-told-you-so moment,' activist Anise Jenkins said. 'A lot of people put a lot of energy and money into this effort, and it was a total misdirected waste of time.'"

METRO MESS: Unsuck Metro reports that Transit Union boss Jackie Jeter invoked slavery in an e-mail defending a Metro bus driver who punched McGruff the Crime Dog.

TRIPLE SHOOTING: Last night, three people were shot near Howard University, NC8 reports: "It happened shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday at 8th and V St NW, a block from the 930 Club. DC Councilmember Jim Graham says two vehicles met up at the spot and fire was exchanged. One witness said he heard two gunshots while leaving a building, then saw people disperse and one man squirming on the ground after being shot. Other people say they saw a victim running toward Howard University, then fall to the ground near the McDonald's." More coverage via WaPo, NBC4, WTOP.

Meanwhile most of those troublesome traffic lights have been fixed.

FENTY ON NEWSTALK: The mayor stopped by NewsTalk for an interview. WaPo's Mike DeBonis took notes: "Fenty also addressed why his well-regarded HIV/AIDS czar, Shannon Hader, abruptly left the city health department. He noted that Hader spent more than three years on the job, 'easily the longest-serving HIV/AIDS administrator by at least double,' he said. But would not address why she left—including rumors of a clash with health director Pierre Vigilance— saying only that 'for professional reasons, she's moved on.' DePuyt noted that Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chair of the health committee and usually an ardent Fenty supporter, called Hader's departure 'catastrophic' in a Post story today. But Fenty wouldn't directly address the claim: "We have momentum. We're on a upward trajectory," Fenty said, noting that Hader's replacement, Nnemdi Kamanu Elias, has a resume 'every bit as exciting and robust as Dr. Hader's was when we hired her.'"

TREY JOYNER: WaPo reports that Trey Joyner's family held a news conference demanding answers into his death, and for the park police officers to be held accountable: "Almost a year to the day of the June 8, 2009, incident, the family and supporters held a news conference Wednesday outside the John A. Wilson Building to say that the investigation is taking too long and they are looking for justice. 'It does take time to take care of business,' said Brenda Joyner, Trey Joyner's mother. 'But it shouldn't take this long.'"

INTRODUCING THE STRASBURGER: Perhaps nothing got more coverage than BGR's tribute to the Nats pitching phenom. Certainly more reporters covered this burger than the Nichols' audit on jobs. Here's just one story on the now-famous burger.


7:10 a.m. Guest
Fenty on Fox
Location: Fox 5

9:30 a.m. Remarks
Frank Kameny Way Naming
Location: 17th and R Streets NW

3:00 p.m. Remarks
Ribbon Cutting for Tewkesbury Condominiums
Location: 6425 14th St. NW

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  • Helton Ennis

    Adrian Fenty promised transparency and accountability.

    Adrian Fenty delivered obfuscation and cronyism.

    Fenty's apologists and defenders all have something to lose and don't give a damn about DC.

  • same old same old

    Where are all the trained, qualified, certified, drug free and ready and willing every day without excuse workers?
    Do they live in DC?
    It's easy to show up once a month or wave a sign.

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  • Skipper

    Finally! A Pershing Park in a Cherkis LL posting!

    The shark has now officially been jumped.

  • proballdc

    There is no shortage of small, local and disadvantaged business in the District of Columbia who are qualified in their professional services but who have been stonewalled by the Fenty Administration that has engaged in crony cherry picking when it comes to the bidding and selection of public contracts. It is unacceptable during a recession that the Fenty Administration would choose now, over all periods, to ignore District laws that would put District residents to work and, in doing so, build the tax base in the city.

    I am not voting against Fenty because I dislike him as a person, I am voting against him because of his worse-than-Barry cronyism and executive incompetence.

  • Rambler

    Just a heads' up for enterprising cub reporters out there: D.C.'s notorious Office of Tax & Revenue (OTR) is issuing crap underpayment notices to D.C. taxpayers. OTR ignores W-2 withholding payments to claim D.C. taxpayers underpaid their income taxes, then OTR adds penalties & interest. In fact, OTR's arithmetic is embarrassing: it credits only ONE-TENTH of actual withheld income taxes. Obviously, D.C. is so strapped for cash it is looking for any possible trick to delay giving income tax refunds this year. I guess this is what we get for trusting Fenty's claim that he hired the best & brightest managers. OTR's phone is ringing off the hook: "all circuits are busy" at (202) 724-5045.

  • candycane1

    Kudos to Deborah Nichols. She is always on the JOB! She cares less about the obstacles that Peter Nickles throws in her way. That is one oerson in DC government that I truly appreciate.

  • Jason Cherkis

    I totally agree candycane1.

  • tired

    Thanks Ms. Nichols for looking out for the citizens of the District of Columbia.

  • downtown rez

    Poverty pimps pwned you long ago, Jason.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Who are the bigger pimps, downtown rez, the big corporations who get sweetheart deals w/ the District and violate city regs on hiring locals, and paying a living wage or nonprofits who watchdog it all?

  • Sally

    Jason - You are embarassing the City Paper with your rants. Please think twice about what it's doing to the paper's credibility and reputation.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Sally: What's embarrassing about highlighting a city audit that finds the District lost out on millions of dollars because DCUSA, etc. did not higher enough residents and pay them living wages?

    Is it also too much to ask that our Attorney General stand up for transparency and accountability instead of constantly stonewalling?

  • downtown rez

    I'm all about keeping it local. Local work using local workers equals local taxable dollars. It's a marvelous idea.
    Where are all the qualified local workers? Even the local LSDBS's mentioned by proball can't find them in any great numbers. Dig deeply enough, and you'll see LSDBS's on big projects hire just as many non-local workers as anyone. That's because no one- not even those who live to care more than they care to live can find them.
    But, hey, we can still ask developers to hire only the few qualified workers they can find, pay that fewer number more than necessary to do the same job, eat the additional carrying cost of the project, and still expect their international financiers to back our projects here, right?
    Jason- This is a reason Fenty has made education the cornerstone of his tenure. I'm not saying there is no slip between cup and lip, but any such is not the big picture here.

  • downtown rez

    I guess what I'm saying is that Life skills and adult education training are needed here. But tell me true: How many adults- 20, 30, 40, 50 years old do you know that ever truly change their habits?
    This topic saddens me. I'd love to hear from the optimists.

  • Jason Cherkis

    I honestly have no idea how many qualified workers DC has. On the one hand, DCPS has been so terrible for so long, you could say that the District has a problem fielding qualified applicants, etc.

    But don't you think that some of these companies look at local workers the same way say Dan Snyder considered minority coaches before hiring Shanahan? Like it's lip service.

    I've interviewed tons of resourceful, smart adults. I've also interviewed a lot of resourceful, smart teenagers who are begging for work, who filled out applications at Target, etc. and never heard back.

    I sat in on a job interview one teenager had recently at the Ben and Jerry's in Georgetown. The kid waited nearly two hours for his job interview because the manager just didn't show up. He got the job. And has held the job. I'm sure there are plenty more kids out their who'd love a job at Target, the new IHOP, etc.

  • Skipper

    Analysis by anecdote. Great.

  • downtown rez

    Jason- I've also spoken with a lot of seemingly earnest people who say they want to work. The chronicly unemployed generally have challenges that probably neither you nor I do. They can't keep schedules, they can't read or write, they need work skills and life skills training, they have criminal convictions, they can't pass drug tests, all of the above, etc.
    The ones who can be helped help themselves. They are persistant over a period of months and work to overcome thier own challenges.
    I'm always glad when I hear of a success story because, in my experience, serious and persistant people are a rarity.
    As an aside, Jason, my first "real" job (other than yardwork/mowing lawns/walking dogs) was as a 15 year old. It was a sub-minimum wage gig at Baskin Robbins. I had no idea how hard it was to scoop peanutbutter-chocolate ice cream. My forearms burned an hour into it. I didn't last three months there.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Downtown Rez: Sorry about your forearm burn! My first job was at the Rockville Library making $3.65 an hour. No forearm burn, but my days ended with a lot of carbon paper ink on my fingers.

  • Truth Hurts

    Mine was as a 15 year old busboy/dishwasher at a rstaurant where we were told to return uneaten rolls to the bread warmer. $1.15 hourly.

  • Maya

    The Trey Joyner Conference was sponsored by the Washington Peace Center