City Desk

Calling In The Feds: 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—"Defendants Won't Testify In Wone Case," "Metro's Worst Year Ever," "World Cup Roundup," "Defense Seeks Maureen Bunyan Mimic In Wone Case," "Dancing? On U Street?"

Good Morning. Maybe it's the heat, but things are starting to get nasty between Mayor Adrian Fenty and Mayoral hopeful Vincent Gray. WaPo's Bill Turque reports that Fenty went nutso after spotting a Gray-For-Mayor campaign table at his kids' elementary school–BTW, we never ever got a straight answer from the mayor on how his kids got in there. Turque writes: "Schools are a core issue in the mayoral campaign, but DCPS officials are trying to keep them from becoming venues for primary season politics. On three separate occasions this spring, principals were cautioned about keeping school grounds free of campaign activity. 'The prohibition covers every kind of partisan political activity — meetings, distribution of campaign literature, posting of campaign signs, campaign presentations by candidates, partisan candidate forums, etc.,' school operations director Evan Smith said in a May 18 e-mail, conveying a reminder from general counsel James Sandman. The memo came three days after an incident at Lafayette Elementary, where Mayor Adrian Fenty's twins just completed fourth grade. According to two sources, who requested anonymity to avoid getting crosswise with Hizzoner, Fenty was 'beside himself' when he saw a Vincent Gray campaign table set up on school grounds during spring fair at the Chevy Chase neighborhood school. The Gray people ended up moving to the sidewalk, said the sources."

AFTER THE JUMP—LL isn't done with his nasty theme, calls Nickles a Troll, and chronicles the latest zaniness between Seegars vs. Moten, plus Orange has a new name for Kwame Brown, and tragedy strikes at an area pool.

Meanwhile, the F.B.I. may or may not be investigating a straw poll and the Ward 8 Dems—led by Sandra "SS" Seegars—are calling on the feds to oversee the mayoral election—and pay particular attention to Peaceoholics Co-Founder and Fenty Friend Ron Moten. WaPo's Tim Craig reports: "Last week, according to Seegars, she got a call from an FBI agent who questioned her for 45 minutes about the upcoming election and the vote-buying allegations. 'He was asking me why would anybody pay a person to vote in a straw poll,' Seegars said. Seegars identified the agent as Eric Hathaway. Reached by telephone today, Hathaway referred the call to the FBI's public affairs office. Lindsay Godwin, an FBI public affairs specialist, said she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation. But Godwin noted the agency routinely follows up on complaints from the public.... Seegars said she knows of three witnesses who overheard the new registrants boasting they were paid up to $100 each to vote for Fenty. Moten counters that Seegars is engaged in 'old school politics.' 'Nobody paid nobody to vote in no straw poll,' Moten said."

And finally, we get just regular old nasty from the Mayor's Troll, AG Peter Nickles. With Nickles, cold-blooded meanness is may just be part of his DNA—and only awakened when he assumed public office. The Examiner's Alan Suderman reports that the AG has come out against Councilmember Mary Cheh's open-government initiative. The initiative's aim is to make the government more transparent and hold agencies accountable if they fail to live up to FOIA requests, etc. Suderman writes:

"D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles is fighting back against an open-government initiative, saying the measure is misguided and unnecessary given the high level of transparency Mayor Adrian Fenty has brought to city government.

But supporters of the initiative said Nickles is living a fantasy and the Fenty administration goes out of its way to block the public's access to city information. 'It struck me as a bit absurd,' said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh of Nickles' testimony against her initiative. 'The facts are to the contrary, and pretty much everybody knows this.'

Good-government advocates, lawyers and union officials lined up earlier this month to sing the praises of Cheh's proposed legislation, which would create an Open Government Office that would advise agencies on public records laws and have the power to sue an agency that failed to comply with the law. Many of the same speakers also took strong aim at the Fenty administration, and Nickles in particular, saying the attorney general has blocked several requests for no legitimate reason. 'No matter which agency one seeks information from, no matter how simple and straightforward the request, whenever a representative from the Attorney General's Office is involved, the responses are typically overdue, incomplete and unnecessarily obstructionist,' said attorney Roy Morris."

BUZZ KILL: WaPo's Mike DeBonis reports that Republicans are attempting to block D.C.'s new medical marijuana law. Guess which Republican is front and center on this? LL will give you a hint: He's from Utah. DeBonis writes: "Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) announced Wednesday afternoon that they've introduced a resolution to disapprove the city law legalizing medical marijuana. That is, of course, their right as members of Congress: City laws must undergo 30 legislative days of Hill review before becoming law. But Chaffetz (pictured) and Jordan sure took their sweet time filing their resolution. The marijuana bill, according to D.C. Council records, was sent to Congress on June 4, and the 30-day period is expected to end in late July." DeBonis thinks the congressman have no chance in blocking the medical marijuana legislation: "Most observers of Congress expect a serious challenge to any District law to come not through a joint resolution — which has to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president — but rather through the appropriations process, where spending riders are regularly attached to budget legislation. Such a rider was what kept medical marijuana under wraps for 12 years after District voters approved it by referendum in 1998."

TRAGEDY AT NE POOL: A girl drowned yesterday at the pool at the Turkey Thicket Rec Center. NC8 reports: "A child was pronounced dead after apparently drowning Wednesday at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center in Northeast Washington. Witnesses say the girl jumped from the diving board into the deep end of the pool. They also say the pool was very crowded at the time. The next person to use the diving board alerted the lifeguard that the girl was still at the bottom of the pool, which is about 12 feet deep, witnesses said. According to D.C. Fire and EMS officials, lifeguards performed CPR on a 6-to-7-year-old girl, but could not save her life. First responders rushed the girl to Children's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. insists that a thorough investigation has been launched to determine if proper procedures were followed." More coverage via AP, NBC4, FOX-5, WUSA9, WaPo.

METRO: The Metro board is set to vote on fare increases today, reports WaPo's Ann Scott Tyson: "Metro's board of directors is expected to vote Thursday to approve a historic fare increase for rail and bus service and fill a $189 million budget shortfall in the agency's $1.4 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The board is also expected to approve a $700 million capital improvement program for the next fiscal year that includes money to buy new vehicles and upgrade tracks and other vital infrastructure, according to Metro documents....The fare increase expected to be finalized Thursday includes nearly $109 million worth of rail, bus and paratransit increases, which will be implemented in three stages: Sunday, Aug. 1 and in the fall. One of the most complex components is a new 20 cent 'peak-of-the-peak' rail surcharge during the system's busiest times."

FENTY FINALLY APPOINTS HIS RUNNING MAN: WBJ's Michael Neibauer reports Fenty finally found a way to give a running buddy a seat on a commission: "Mayor Adrian Fenty's appointee to the National Capital Planning Commission, George Tyrone Simpson, might be a familiar name to those wonkish followers of the D.C. government: His nomination to the University of the District of Columbia board of trustees was rejected two years ago, without a vote, by the D.C. Council. So were his nominations to the Public Employee Relations Board and the Housing Finance Agency board of directors. He was disqualified, council members say, by his lack of qualifications. This time around, Simpson is free from council oversight. The NCPC appointment is just that, an appointment by executive order, and will not be up for a vote. But what qualifies him to serve on a panel charged with reviewing and approving most federal, and some local, development plans in the National Capital Region? Federal law requires NCPC appointees have 'experience in city or regional planning.' Simpson is (or was) president of D.C.-based Spectrum Management LLC, a property management firm, according to the resume attached to his 2008 UDC nomination. He also listed himself as president of Roswell, Ga.-based Alor Food Distributors. Before 2000, he directed youth and the summer food services programs for the City of Atlanta. His experience as 'Fenty running buddy' was not listed."

ORANGE VS. BROWN: Vincent Orange goes after Kwame Brown for his "present" vote on whether or not to confirm AG Nickles. Orange calls Brown: "Mr. Mistake."

MEDIA DISCOVER IT'S HOT OUTSIDE: WaPo gives the record-breaking heatwave the A1 treatment. WaPo's Kevin Sieff leads with this: "First we were buried under Snowmageddon. Then we sweated through the hottest spring in Washington history. But that might have been only a warmup." If there were links, that would be some great SEO. The news-y nugget: "D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said two extra ambulances were put to use Wednesday after a barrage of heat-related emergency calls. 'Some people say it's getting hot earlier than usual,' Piringer said. 'This feels pretty normal to us.'" The real shocking news from this piece: WaPo had seven additional reporters on this piece of  fluff. More coverage via NBC4, The Examiner.

MCCARTNEY: WaPo columnist is tired of Metro being subjected to politics.

MARC: Maryland's Gov. plans to ride the MARC presumably to entertain commuters who have survived those horrible recent train rides.

MANHOLE: A fireball erupted out of a downtown D.C. manhole.

FLORIDA AVENUE MARKET: A robbery in the NE market turns fatal.

HOTEL RATES: D.C.-area hotel rates are falling. Rooms are cheaper than they were in 2008! The average hotel room now costs $144 per night.

GOAAAAAAAL! WUSA9 captures the triumphant U.S. victory in the World Cup yesterday via reporting trip area bars.

CURFEW: FOX-5 wonders: Is the city's curfew effective?

MANUTE BOL: A funeral will be held for the basketball giant in D.C. on Tuesday.

GRAY-FENTY HOME BURGLARIES: DCist has the best comments on this subject.

MAYOR'S SCHEDULE: No public events scheduled.

D.C. COUNCIL'S SCHEDULE:

9 a.m.
Committee on Finance and Revenue (Hearing)
Bill 18-198;Bill 18-487; Bill 18-505; Bill 18-628; Bill 18-649; Bill 18-696; Bill 18-762; Bill 18-776; Bill 18-827; Bill 18-828; Bill 18-847; Bill 18-848; Bill18-844
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 412

1:15 p.m.
Committee on Economic Development (Meeting)
B 18-0806 the “Center Leg Freeway (Interstate 395) PILOT and Air Rights Disposition Act of 2010”
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 120

2 p.m.
Committee on Aging and Community Affairs (Meeting)
The Committee on Aging and Community Affairs Committee meetings will be held at 2:00PM on Fourth Thursday of each month.
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 123

Also at 2 p.m.
Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (Meeting)
Additional Meeting
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 120

3:30 p.m.
Committee on Public Works and Transportation (Meeting)
PR 18-0901; PR 18-0903; B18-0718
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 123

Also at 3:30 p.m.
Committee of the Whole (Hearing)
PR 18-874, "Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia Greg Selfridge Confirmation Resolution of 2010"
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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  • Truth Hurts

    So I'm taking it's OK with you, Cherkis, for Gray's one city campaign peeps to unlawfully set up on public school grounds. And I'm guessing it was coincidental they chose the school Fenty's kids attend. You can't even report one city's cheap bitch slap (sung to the tune of "Let's get it on") without taking a swipe at Fenty. Dude, look in the mirror.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Why did Obama campaign in Texas? Symbolism. Why is Gray opening an office in Ward 4? Symbolism. TH: don't play polyanna. Your faux umbrage is tiring. And yet, no grumbles over Nickles moves against transparency. Now that's something you should be mad about!

  • Truth Hurts

    It's legal to campaign in Texas. It's illegal to set up partisan political campaign tables on public school grounds (in any jurisdiction). Election campaign law 101. The only symbolic thing about it what it says about Gray and his campaign.

    As for Nickles and transparency, I'm not defending him. You already slammed his actions in your piece. Unlike your day in and day out puppy love blindspot for anything Gray. Criticize both candidates when they're wrong, not just the one who won't take your calls.

  • Truth Hurts

    Ok, Cherkis, I read about Cheh's bill. I agree with it and I agree that many, maybe most, FOIA responses by DC are late, inadequate and/or evasive. Satisfied?

    One additional point. The FOIA disaster involving DC govt didn't start under Fenty/Nickles. It's been a problem for many, many years. Patterson led the effort to reform FOIA response time long ago. That's one reason I supported her over one city in '06. What did one city do to fix the problem during the past 4 years? Deliberate?

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  • downtown rez

    So Gray is now electioneering at schools. Wow. What's next? Setting up boths at the Reeves Center and the Wilson building?
    Poor judgement, improper, and illegal.

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