City Desk

One Year After Crash, Metro Still Lacks ‘Safety Culture': Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"City FC Builds Hearts, Minds, and Soccer Fields," "Another Blaze Scorches Joe Englert's Boozy Empire," "Was Robert Wone Killed By Martial Arts Expert?," "World Cup Roundup," "Anonymous Tip Leads To Fenty Canvasser Arrest"

Good Morning. Overcrowding at New Beginnings may have led to violence at the youth facility this past weekend. WaPo's Henri Cauvin reports: "New Beginnings, the District's juvenile detention center in Laurel, had been overcrowded for days when a detainee attacked a staff member Sunday night and set off a disturbance that lasted about an hour. Designed to hold 60 people, New Beginnings had been overcapacity for several days, according to a union official. On Sunday, 70 people were in custody, according to the union official, Tasha Williams, and a law enforcement source. After staff from the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, which operates New Beginnings, signaled the end of recreation early Sunday night, some detainees balked. Three of them ran onto a roof of the building and two others refused orders to enter their living units, DYRS said in a statement Monday. When the shift commander tried to defuse the situation, a 20-year-old detainee punched him in the face, fracturing the man's jaw, according to Williams, chair of the DYRS unit of the Fraternal Order of Police....Although no one escaped the compound, it was not until officers from Anne Arundel County and Maryland State Police responded that all of the youths were back in their units. D.C. police, including Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, two assistant chiefs and a SWAT team also were on the scene." More coverage via AP, NBC4.

WaPo's Editorial Board weighs in on the New Beginnings incident, DYRS troubles, and the confidentiality issue. Police had trouble getting the security tapes to see who actually perpetrated the attack on the guard: "POLICE WHO responded to Sunday's disturbance at the District's juvenile detention center in Laurel made what should have been a routine request. They wanted to view the facility's surveillance videos to determine responsibility for the assault of a staff member and other possible crimes. Instead, they ended up in court because the city's confidentiality laws for juvenile offenders precluded release — even to the police — of this material. How much more absurd does the situation have to get before the D.C. Council does something about rules that show more regard for those who break the law than those who need its protection?...Attorney General Peter Nickles, who is conducting a review of the juvenile justice system, told us that he's increasingly convinced that strict confidentiality laws harm public safety by shrouding the system in such secrecy that public confidence is undermined. And, as council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) argues, confidentiality has the perverse effect of hampering efforts to help youths by keeping information from people who could use it. Wouldn't teachers, pastors and coaches, he asks, be better able to help at-risk youths if they knew what was going on in their lives? Instead, the law prevents youth rehabilitation officials or police from alerting anyone to a potential problem. Mr. Wells is sponsoring legislation that would relax these rules. The only question the council should be asking is whether the changes go far enough."

This substitute LL might add another reason the confidentiality laws should be dismantled: Opening up juvenile cases would assist the press in knowing when and how the Child and Family Services Agency and/or DYRS screws up. Too many juvenile offenders are what is called dual jacketed–they have cases in both Family Court and in the criminal courts. Letting these kids tell their stories would provide the public better insight into the social safety net, and how the city assists its most troubled residents The public has a right to know what the District's social workers, educators, and lawyers have done for these kids before they abscond.

The District should also consider allowing public access to security tapes from the D.C. Jail. There were a number of stabbings at the D.C. Jail last winter; the Department of Corrections offered little information about those cases. This LL is still waiting on a FOIA he filed many, many months ago.

AFTER THE JUMP: Metro unsafe one year later, one mother writes Fenty re: DYRS, Michelle Rhee wants to volunteer for Fenty campaign, and much, much more!

METRO CRASH ANNIVERSARY: WaPo's Ann Scott Tyson reports that Metro's safety improvements since the crash have stalled out. Tyson got one great scare quote from the NTSB: "The crash was a catalyst for an examination of transit safety nationwide — spurring a push by the Obama administration for federal oversight legislation, a shakeup in Metro leadership and unparalleled scrutiny of the agency by the National Transportation Safety Board, which now has four open investigations into incidents at Metro. So far, however, the legislation remains stalled in Congress, state oversight is fractured and weak, Metro lacks a permanent leadership team, and the NTSB's final report on the cause of last June's Red Line crash, which killed nine and injured dozens, isn't expected until late July. 'There are significant deficiencies in their safety culture,' said Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairman of the NTSB. 'We do not see the frequency of accidents on other properties that we are seeing on Metro. The most disappointing . . . is when we issue recommendations and those issues do not get corrected. For us, that is a big concern about Metro,' she said. Nine NTSB recommendations issued to Metro in July and September, in the aftermath of the accident, remain open, according to NTSB records." NC8 reports on how first responders are still coping with the crash. And WBJ reports that Metro is thinking about adding shops, vending machines to stops.

RETIRED TEACHERS MAY TAKE PAY HIT: The Examiner's Leah Fabel reports that with the new contract, retired teachers will not be entitled to back pay: "Three years of back pay provided in the new contract for D.C. Public Schools teachers would not be available for those who recently retired, though their colleagues fired in the fall can expect a check.If the teacher-approved contract passes the D.C. City Council next week as expected, about 4,300 teachers this summer would receive more than 11 percent of their most recent salary to make up for three years without a pay raise. In addition, nearly 300 teachers let go in November as part of a contentious round of firings would receive a check for closer to 7 percent of their most recent salary. Teachers who retired or left the system for other reasons in the past three years would receive nothing. Jacqueline Schuler, who retired in 2008, called the provision unfair at a Monday council hearing. 'The contract should not be ratified until provisions have been made to compensate teachers who retired during the contract process,' she said. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee defended the decision, saying it allowed for more competitive raises for teachers still in the classroom. Contract negotiations 'are a lot about determining priorities and where you're going to push and pull,' Rhee said. 'There were limited resources.'"

GRAY VS. FENTY: Vincent Gray is set to open a field office in the heart of Fenty's Ward 4 turf. This Saturday, Gray will actually host an event that includes a ribbon cutting at the new digs at 4300 Georgia AVE, NW to be held between 4 and 6 p.m. WaPo's Mike DeBonis reports: "The Gray camp denies any symbolism....'It is pure coincidence,' says campaign spokesperson Traci Hughes. 'We've got growing support in Ward 4; it happens to be right there.'...In signing a second lease, the Gray campaign is also sending a message that it expects fundraising efforts to remain strong. The space is being rented from Aubrey Stephenson, president and chief executive of Federal Management Systems Inc., a government consulting firm whose logo adorns the awning outside the building. There's one problem: The awning's green — and that's Fenty's color. 'We're going to change the signage,' Hughes says."

RHEE WANTS TO CAMPAIGN FOR FENTY: WaPo's Bill Turque reports: "Exactly what plans the Fenty campaign has to deploy Rhee are unclear. Spokeswoman Helen Hare took the question Friday morning, but hasn't responded. She would undoubtedly be an asset–even if an untitled one–in areas of the city where her school reform efforts remain deeply popular. Rhee said in an interview that she has not had a detailed discussion with the mayor's campaign about her role, but that she expected there to be one. 'I have communicated to the campaign office that I would imagine that at some point I would like to do volunteer work, going door to door. But I don't have any firm plans,' she said. Besides, she added, 'I have a wedding to plan,' referring to her Sept. 4 date with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. She said that much of whatever disposable time she had was going toward the yet-to-be-finalized guest list."

MORE DYRS: WUSA9 makes public a letter written to Fenty by a murder victim's mother. The letter reads in part:

"My beautiful daughter, Brishell Jones was slaughtered as if she were less than human on March 30, 2010.

I am not clear as to what role you will play if any to correct the deadly mess that DYRS breeds and allows to roam our streets? If you have a juvenile facility and absconders exist one would think that very juvenile facility DYRS would have its very own absconder unit. To my surprise it does not and why is a great question. An even better question is why would you the mayor tell the MPD to not be present at a hearing to discuss how they search and locate absconders? It's a valid question since MPD does have an absconder unit.

The DC Council members at this hearing seemed to think the newspaper gives false and mythical stories of the absconders from DYRS yet you instruct the police department not to attend the meeting to clear up these false statements and myths....

Now today I see on the news and read in the papers a riot took place at the wonderful, country club for killers I wonder if this will raise an eyebrow on your face or will you continue to insist all is well on the multi-million dollar facility. It is more than obvious to everyone outside of those who supported the insane building and structure of a facility without any structure or discipline whatsoever this is a breeding ground for vile offenders to freely walk away and commit some of the most unspeakable crimes imaginable.

I have also called you and come to your office and filled out a request to ask you in person what does the proclamation you had Ms. Simms present to the families on May 22, 2010 the day of our bike rally actually mean and represents to you as the mayor of the District? You have done your usual routine again and ignore my requests to you as you did so well in the previous years prior to my daughter being shot down like a wild animal being hunted in the safari.

Have a nice day because since my beautiful, intelligent, loving, peaceful child's brains were blown out of her little head just a few yards from our home that she and I once shared happily together I no longer have nice days.

Nardyne Jefferies, Proud Mother of Brishell Tashe' Jones or should I type former mother."

MARC TRAIN: Stalls out last night. WTOP reports: "Train 538 stopped working on the tracks adjacent to Route 50 near Columbia Park Road around 6:30 p.m. Monday. The train departed from Union Station, planned to stop in Baltimore, and then continue to Perryville. Maryland Transportation Administration Terry Owens says Amtrak sent two crews to the site, and towed the train back to Union Station. Many passengers called WTOP to say the electricity died on board the train, causing the cabins to become extremely hot and uncomfortable. Prince George's Fire and EMS treated numerous people for dehydration once passengers were taken off the train, including taking a 50-year-old woman and 52-year-old man to the hospital. Around 8:30 p.m., a third train was sent to transport passengers back to D.C. However, that train did not have the capacity to fit every stranded rider, so around 100 riders had to wait for another train to either Baltimore or D.C." NBC4 has raw video from the scene. More coverage via The Examiner.

The teen killed at that graduation party this past weekend is remembered.

President Obama gives speech in Southeast on importance of fathers.

MAYOR'S SCHEDULE:

10:30 a.m. Remarks
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Memorial Ceremony
Location: Half a block from Fort Totten Metrorail Station
1st Place, NE between Riggs Road and Galloway Street, NE

2 p.m. Remarks
Grand Opening of Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Lanes
Location: Old Post Office Pavilion
Pennsylvania Avenue and 11th Street, NW

D.C. COUNCIL'S SCHEDULE:

1 p.m. Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (Round Table)
Continuing Overtime and Pay Problems in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 120

2 p.m. Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs (Meeting)
The Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs Committee meetings will be held at 2:00PM on the Fourth Tuesday of each month.
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 120

2 p.m. Committee on Public Works and Transportation (Hearing)
B18-823, the "Transportation Infrastructure Amendment Act of 2010"
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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  • Isn’t it Obvious?

    Hello Mr. Cherkis. I understand your desire to want to reveal more information about youth offenders; I have no problem with that quest; and agree that more of this information needs to be streamlined within the courts and released to the public for safety reasons. I do however take issue with your implication (and the implication of others) that if these juveniles screw up, then it is someone else's fault other than the juvenile or his or her family support group (if one exists). There are many people who grow up in F'd up situations and conditions or in disfunctional homes, but, (remain and), grow up to be productive members of society and do not commit crimes. So to suggest that it is the fault of CFSA or DYRS or anyone else is simly looking to make someone else responsible for the actions of these juvenile deliquents other than the deliquents themselves.

    I am not an employee of either of these agencies, but I do understand that you can only help those who truly want the help; many of these delinquents do not want the help; and they do not want to change. The reality is that for many of them, prison time is a liability of the job (commiting crime).

    I would be more inclined to not only open up more information on these youth, but would welcome attaching adult sentencing to repeat or violent crime youth offenders. The consequences need to fit the crimes. As with drugs or any other addiction, rehabilitation is available if you want it and are willing to work to receive it.

    My suggestion, Mr. Cherkis, is instead of blaming the agencies and everyone else for the delinquent offenders and their crimes, try attaching responsibility to those who commit the juvenile offenses that land them in the court system in the first place. Otherwise, you misplace the responsibility and make the perpetrators of the crimes into victims (instead of the actual victims of the crimes the perpetrators commit). The juveniles need to take responsibility for their actions. How else will they learn that actions have consequences, sometimes severe consequences.

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

    It's a sad day, but what even more sad is that nothing has changed in one year!

  • tired

    Why won't he answer her questions? Does he have something to hide along with Ron Moten. This stinks to high heaven.

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