Phil Mendelson Moves To Reform DYRS: Loose Lips Daily
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Good Morning. Finally, someone has stepped up on one of the city's biggest issues. Councilmember Phil Mendelson has taken a big step in attempting to reform the troubled DYRS. He at least has proposed making some juvenile cases a lot more transparent. WaPo's Henri Cauvin reports: "Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the public safety committee, is set to propose legislation this week that would make public the identity of any juvenile offender after a second serious crime. It would be a radical shift for a juvenile justice system grounded in rehabilitation, and it comes as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), Mendelson and others city leaders face election-year criticism over their handling of juvenile crime. Under Mendelson's proposal, after a juvenile is found involved in a second serious offense, the case — and all of the juvenile's previous arrests in the District — would become public. The list of qualifying 'serious' or 'dangerous' offenses is long, including assault, arson, robbery, sexual abuse and murder. The public record would include the charges filed by police and by prosecutors, and the disposition, including whether the juvenile was placed on probation with D.C. Superior Court Social Services or committed to the custody of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. 'It's about the community being able to get some information and the responsible government agencies having to answer for their actions,' Mendelson said." LL hopes that Mendo will add a clause which mandates throwing a little sunshine on the agency's own dealings. The public also has a right to know just how DYRS lets kids slip through the cracks. But LL is reserving judgment until he reads Colby King's take on the councilmember's proposal.
NICKLES VS. GRAY: The talk of among the local political nerds yesterday centered on AG Peter Nickles, aka Adrian Fenty's Troll Doll, declaring war on mayoral hopeful Vincent Gray during an interview with NewsTalk's Bruce DePuyt. He not only slammed Gray's tenure as head of DHS, but used the man's theme song to taunt him: "And so, this is a very important election. And I say, 'Let's get it on.' I say, 'Let's look at the record that the Fenty administration has had in the last three years, in these agencies, and what happened in 1991-1995. And keep in mind, as a result of those years, all of these agencies — CFSA, dealing with abused and neglected kids; Department of Mental Health, dealing with St. Elizabeth's and mentally-ill folks; DDS, mentally-retarded individuals, disabled individuals; DYRS, criminal justice — in all of those agencies, as a result of what the court was seeing in that administration, all the personnel, all the procurement powers of DHS were taken away from DHS, and each of those agencies was made a cabinet-level department with independent powers." Not that Nickles has had such a great track record managing the CFSA case, among others [see this must read on Nickles' federal court track record]. But anyway, can Gray please make Nickles a campaign issue?
WaPo's Mike DeBonis has the Gray campaign's response to Nickles turn as Fenty campaign flack: "Gray campaign spokeswoman Traci Hughes raised questions about whether it was appropriate for Nickles to address such a politically fraught issue. 'The last time I checked it was the attorney general's role to serve District residents and not to carry out Mayor Fenty's political attacks,' Hughes said Monday afternoon. She accused Nickles of 'campaigning effectively while he's on the clock' — a potential violation of legal restrictions on the political activities of government employees. Nickles defended his comments in part by saying he was "speaking out as a citizen" who had been involved in DHS cases.
AFTER THE JUMP—Judge to announce verdict in Wone case today, Fenty skips education debate, Fenty's inner circle questions whether the mayor even wants to win, a death on the Red Line, and more.
FENTY SKIPS OUT ON DEBATE: Mayor Fenty skipped out on yesterday's debate on education issues w/ Vincent Gray, what organizers had been calling the "Great Education Forum." WaPo's Nikita Stewart and Bill Turque report: "When Fenty failed to appear, organizers went to a town hall-style format that allowed Gray to engage the 100 or so audience members, who appeared to be mostly educators in their 20s and 30s. 'I'm delighted to be here, not necessarily delighted to be here by myself,' Gray said at the Naval Heritage Center in an apparent reference to Fenty. At the outset, Gray took a dig or two at Fenty, saying that the mayor might be in the lobby so 'he can pick up a few pointers.' Word from the Fenty campaign Monday was that the mayor had never "confirmed" that he would participate but that schedulers were prepping him while trying to come up with an alternative date. Campaign sources said that Fenty was obligated to attend other 'private campaign functions.' The group that organized the debate, the D.C. chapter of Young Education Professionals, told a different story about the event, which was announced June 8. The Fenty campaign did not contact the group to pull out until Sunday evening, said Kate Blosveren, the group's president. Gray was left with the floor to himself. As expected, he faulted Fenty and Rhee for a lack of transparency in their dealings with parents and other community stakeholders. 'I'd use the word opaque to describe how some of the decisions were made,' he said. 'The word 'public' in public education needs to be taken seriously.'" More coverage via DCist.
The Examiner's Bill Myers has people within the Fenty camp wondering if the mayor even wants to win reelection: "Mayor Adrian Fenty begged off a key education reform debate on Monday and some in his inner circle are privately wondering if he's as committed to retaining his office as he was to winning it....Longtime aides to Fenty say privately that the mounting criticism and stress of the campaign have made the mayor even more resistant to advice than usual. He has had to dip into his multimillion-dollar campaign funds to pay street workers, instead of mustering an army of volunteers to help him canvass, like in' 06."
SUMMER JOBS: WUSA's Bruce Johnson chronicles the chaos that was the first day of the mayor's summer jobs program–800 kids had to be turned away from a job site, three other kids are in deep trouble over knives and stolen goods at another site. More coverage via Fox5.
WONE VERDICT TODAY: After four years, one of the most closely covered murder mysteries in recent District history may finally come to some resolution. The Examiner reports: "Tuesday, one piece of the puzzle will get an answer: Did Joseph Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky conspire to cover up the slaying? D.C. Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz is set to rule Tuesday in the trial of the three men, accused of cleaning up the crime scene and misdirecting police after Wone's Aug. 2, 2006, death in their Dupont Circle town house. Wone was spending the night in their home at 1509 Swann St. NW when he was stabbed three times in the chest. The defendants maintain that an intruder killed Wone. Leibovitz has heard five weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses. The defendants waived their right to a jury trial, making Leibovitz the sole arbitrator. All three men face charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Ward, 40, and Zaborsky, 44, were acquitted of tampering with evidence, but that charge still stands against Price, 39. All three could face more than 30 years in prison if convicted." More coverage via Whomurderedrobertwone.com.
DISTRICT REVENUES: The city's CFO reports some not totally bad news on the revenue front, reports WBJ's Michael Neibauer: "The parade of bleak revenue estimates from D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi may have come to an end. The latest, released today, suggests no change from his February projection. This is good news. Not 'windfall' good, but good nevertheless. 'There are signs that both the U.S. and District economies are in recovery, but every indication is that the recovery is likely to be long and slow,' Gandhi wrote in a letter to Mayor Adrian Fenty and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray. The estimate is a mixed bag of economic news. Individual income and sales taxes came in lower than expected, Gandhi said, but real property tax collections were better than anticipated and withholding collections have picked up. In the quarter ending in March, occupied office space rose 0.8 percent from the prior quarter and 1.8 percent from the prior year."
SUPREME COURT GUN CASE: You wanna know the impact of Heller v. D.C.? WaPo's Mike DeBonis says yesterday's Supreme Court decision is only the beginning: "The Supreme Court ruling Monday in McDonald v. City of Chicago places the District of Columbia at the vanguard of answering a new and crucial question: Just what kinds of gun regulations are constitutional in the United States? The McDonald decision has its roots, of course, in Heller v. District of Columbia, decided two years ago by the same 5-4 margin. That ruling struck down the city's blanket handgun ban after finding a constitutional 'right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.' The court Monday, in holding that the Heller standard applies to state and local law, did not significantly modify it."
PARKING METERS: NC8 reports District residents are unsatisfied with meter replacements.
DEATH AT RED LINE STOP: A man was found dead on the tracks yesterday evening at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station, WTOP reports. More coverage via NBC4 . The Examiner's Kytja Weir reports: "A man was killed Monday evening when he jumped from a Metro station mezzanine onto the rail tracks, causing major delays on the Red Line during the peak of the evening commute and trapping riders on a train in 90-plus degree heat without air conditioning. The death occurred about 6:10 p.m. at the Grosvenor station, Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. Preliminary reports indicate the man jumped from the upper platform onto the tracks, she said. The unidentified man was not hit by a train, she said, but died at the scene. The transit agency then needed to shut down power to that section of tracks for safety, she said, which in turn eliminated electricity to a train coming through the station. That shut off the air conditioning inside the train, angering the riders on the loaded train, who threatened to self-evacuate, she said. They were eventually taken into a rescue train. Metro had to close the station and turn back other trains, later reopening to allow trains to share a single track. The agency offered free shuttle buses to riders, but commuters faced significant delays because buses hold far fewer riders than trains."
MORE EVIDENCE THAT FENTY LOVES GO-GO: WaPo's Nikita Stewart captures Fenty celebrating his love of our homegrown sound.
MAYOR'S SCHEDULE: No public events.
D.C. COUNCIL'S SCHEDULE: Lots of Wilson Building activities including hearings on public safety and parks and rec.