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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"So Was Anyone Arrested For illegal Fireworks?," "The Piledriver, the Sleeper Hold, the Marion Barry?," "IG: Top Execs At Disability Providers Overpaid," "Councilmembers Ask CFO Not To Pay Banneker Settlement"
Good morning, everyone. It's about that time in the mayoral race when columnists begin to do a little assessment of the candidates, and a lot of theorizing. In this case, WaPo's Robert McCartney wants to know why Mayor Adrian Fenty is doing so poorly in his bid for re-election. Insiders from both Fenty's camp and Vincent Gray's camp suggest that the mayor is behind in the polls. There's a reason for the declining supporters, McCartney writes: "Much is explained by Fenty's disdain for long-standing rituals about how a mayor interacts with the public. In particular, he hates face-to-face meetings with groups of constituents pushing one agenda or another. Although he loves going door-to-door to talk to voters, a refrain heard everywhere is, 'He won't sit down with us.' The city's top union leadership, grouped in the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, hasn't met with Fenty since early 2007. The group includes 40,000 District voters. On the business side, Barbara Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, hasn't talked to the mayor since a 10-minute meeting soon after he took office. Religious leaders complain that he won't come to church anniversary celebrations or the funerals of prominent pastors. Fenty is the first mayor in memory to decline such routine courtesies. Even if he rejects the advice, can't he at least hear what people have to say? 'One thing that Adrian hasn't really learned, in the District there's a lot of ceremony. People expect you to go through certain protocols, a certain dance, and then make a decision,' said a prominent D.C. politician who has endorsed Fenty and spoke on condition of anonymity to be free to criticize him."
AFTER THE JUMP— Sexual assaults are on the rise, the D.C. Jail achieves a dubious milestone, more DYRS problems, Gray fusses over a 2002 traffic ticket, and more!Maybe Fenty needs to bring back the weekly press conference. Just sayin'. And, well, stories related to Fenty's frat-brother contracts do not help. It's not just that Fenty screws up funerals by showing up late and won't meet with civic leaders. It's the feeling that there's always something he's hiding, that there's too many days without public events, that there's some process he's skipping, that the schools may be improving by a percentage point, but what about everything else? And then there's always Peter Nickles. No one voted for him. But we see him a lot more than we do Fenty.
The Fenty administration's rush to reward Banneker Ventures with a settlement, the Examiner's Freeman Klopott reports could limit the city's options in other important ways regarding those fishy parks-and-rec contracts: "The $550,000 settlement agreement between the District and Banneker Ventures prevents the city from reclaiming millions in previous payments and makes it impossible for the District to sue the company if investigators determine the contract was obtained through fraud. The July 1 settlement reached by D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles and Omar Karim, a longtime friend of Mayor Adrian Fenty, ended a Banneker claim that the city owed the company $2.3 million on the parks and recreation contract. The D.C. Council expects to receive an independent investigator's conclusions on the contract next week. Late last year, the council canceled the Banneker contract after it determined the Fenty administration had circumvented a law requiring the council to vote on contracts exceeding $1 million. On Wednesday, D.C. Council members Mary Cheh, Harry Thomas and Phil Mendelson sent a letter to Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi requesting that he not issue payments on the settlement because it's still under investigation by the council. 'It's extraordinarily irregular and questionable to settle this without first settling all of the issues against Banneker and on top of that determining first whether Banneker should be paying us,' Cheh said. The settlement requires Banneker to pay its subcontractors a total of about $285,000, allowing the company to keep $265,000 on top of the $2.5 million it already received in a controversial Christmas Eve payment." More coverage via WBJ.
SEXUAL ASSAULTS: WTOP's Mark Segraves reports that sexual assaults are on the rise: "Cases of sexual assault are up in D.C., with some neighborhoods increasing at a double digit rate, according to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.Lanier spoke about the increase on WTOP's Ask the Chief program, and cautioned about jumping to any conclusions about a threat to public safety. 'You can't just look at numbers and not do any analysis and use that as something to scare people with,' Lanier says. Lanier says many of the sexual assaults are not random and many of the victims know their attacker. The Seventh District, east of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, has seen the biggest increase. Of the 14 most recent sexual assaults in the area, nine were domestic in nature." Scary Graphs: Some fear the spike in sexual assaults is worse than Lanier is saying. Sources tell WTOP internal police memos show serious sexual assaults in the Seventh District are up by 325 percent for the first 6 months of 2010. Lanier would not comment on the document because she did not have it with her. On the Metropolitan Police Department's website, where crime statistics are published, it shows that sex crimes are down across the District by 18 percent." More coverage via The Sexist.
DYRS: Joshua Hopkins, the Capitol Hill intern killed over the weekend, was under DYRS supervision, reports the Examiner's Bill Myers: "You may have read that Hopkins was trying to rebuild his life and how he had 'overcome a lot of obstacles.' Here’s what that means: In 2008, Hopkins was arrested for destruction of property, a source familiar with his background told The Washington Examiner. He was sentenced to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services until he turned 21. He is now at least the fifth DYRS ward to have been killed while under the agency’s 'supervision' since the beginning of the year. (Another nine DYRS kids have been accused of murder themselves.)"
GRAY VS. 2002 TRAFFIC TICKET: WaPo's Mike DeBonis and Michael Laris report out Vincent Gray's mini drama behind his failure to take care of a 2002 traffic violation in Maryland: "The ticket was issued by a Maryland state trooper shortly after 11 a.m. Dec. 29, 2002 — a Sunday — on the inner loop of the Capital Beltway south of Ardwick Ardmore Road, not far from FedEx Field. Campaign spokeswoman Traci Hughes said Gray was on his way to a Washington Redskins game when he attempted to get around a traffic jam by driving on the right shoulder. Gray was among several drivers stopped and cited for the maneuver, she said. The Washington Post could not confirm Wednesday whether other motorists had been stopped. At the time of the citation, Gray was not in public office but was serving as executive director of Covenant House Washington, a nonprofit organization serving homeless youths. In 2004, he won a council seat representing Ward 7 as a Democrat. Two years later, he was elected council chairman. The ticket remained active through both elections. 'He thought he had paid the ticket,' Hughes said Wednesday, adding that Gray takes 'full responsibility' for the offense. The outstanding citation was discovered in the course of 'due diligence' research for his campaign, she said."
KWAME WINS CHAMBER ENDORSEMENT: Kwame Brown won a big endorsement in his effort to become D.C. Council Chairman. WaPo's Ann Marimow reports: "In the race to replace Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, council member Kwame Brown (D-At Large) picked up another endorsement this week from the local business community. The D.C. Chamber gave its blessing to Brown's candidacy after interviews with Brown and former Ward 5 council member Vincent Orange. 'Both candidates have exhibited impressive records of service, but in the end we felt that council member Brown will be more effective in working with the business community and moving legislation that encourages small businesses, growth and development,' said Gilbert E. DeLorme, chairman of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce PAC.The chamber's endorsement was somewhat surprising because Orange was until recently a Pepco vice president and because of his friendship with D.C. Chamber of Commerce president Barbara Lang, with whom he has had a long working relationship. Lang's operation is technically separate from the chamber's PAC, which made the decision after casting secret ballots."
RHEE AND THE HATCH ACT: WaPo's Bill Turque wonders if D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee violated the Hatch Act with her comments last week suggesting that she'd stick around if her boss won another term: "The Hatch Act, the federal law that regulates political activity by District employees, says they 'may not use their official authority or influence to interfere with the result of an election.' In a series of interviews last week Rhee seemed to be doing precisely that, staking out her support for the mayor and characterizing the D.C. Council chairman as a conventional politician too concerned with public opinion. 'I think that the differences between Mayor Fenty and the chairman in how they would approach this effort are very, very clear,' she told me. 'In fact, in some cases I don't think you can get more stark in terms of those differences, And I think the mayor has also made it clear that I am a part of his vision and his plan.' She told Newsweek that Gray is 'very process-oriented and wants less turmoil. That's one way to go about things, but if procedure and harmony are his priorities, I'm not his girl.'" AG Peter Nickles tells Turque that Rhee did not violate the Hatch Act. Then again, you don't see other agency heads speaking out for either candidate.
U STREET MESS: WTOP reports on the greasy scene: "The phrase, 'D.C. stinks,' took on a new meaning Wednesday as U Street and neighboring roads become a greasy mess that smelled like vomit. The problems with the greasy mess started in the 5 a.m. hour when used restaurant oil began dribbling out of a truck along the road. Drivers inadvertently spread the goo to side streets and alleys. Pedestrians and cyclists were also slipping and sliding on the slick spots. Police had to close some roads – including U Street and 14th Street – and shut down some areas to pedestrian traffic while the mess was cleaned up. Metro buses also had to be rerouted off of U Street. All of the roads have since reopened. Street sweepers will be tackling the area at midnight. Two 3,000-gallon flushers -loaded with a water-soluble degreaser – will spray the solution on U Street and 7th Street to the east, 16th Street to the west, V Street to the north and Rhode Island Avenue to the south."
D.C. JAIL DEATHS: The Examiner's Emily Babay reports that inmate deaths are double the national average: "From 2000 to 2007, the mortality rate was 315 deaths per 100,000 inmates in the District, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics data released Wednesday. Nationally, the average mortality rate was 145 deaths per 100,000 inmates. Inmates in large jails like D.C.'s were most likely to die from illness or natural causes, said Margaret Noonan, a BJS statistician and the study's author. That's not surprising, said Deborah Golden, a staff attorney with the D.C. Prisoners Project, because the District has higher-than-average rates of heart disease, AIDS and cancer in general. Incarceration can make such conditions worse, said Tracy Velazquez, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. 'People cycle in and out and are exposed to infectious diseases more often,' she said. Both nationwide and in the District, jail deaths are on the decline."
SOUTHEAST TALK SHOW: Becomes a hit on YouTube (NC8).
TRANSIT COSTS UP: Costs are outpacing revenues (The Examiner).
10:45 a.m. Remarks
Fairlawn Estates Ribbon Cutting
22nd Street and T Street, SE
D.C. COUNCIL'S SCHEDULE: D.C. auditor's report on the the living wage, and hiring of local workers (huge Fenty Fail). Youth and mental health is discussed at a roundtable, and more.