City Desk

Loose Lips Daily: Waiving Fees Edition

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Good morning sweet readers! The power is back. All hail the demon lords of electricity, who giveth light, the Internet, and a fridge that keeps food. The price for these riches? A constant and never-ending stream of news:

Waive This!: Fox 5's Paul Wagner wins the morning with this investigative piece about the city's apparently new practice of waiving police security fees for certain events, like the National Marathon. "In the last two years, more than $600,000 has gone uncollected, money that should have been paid to the city for security at special events." The marathon, Wagner notes, attracts enough runners to generate at least $700,000 entry fees, yet the city waived about $200,000 in police costs last year. Another piece of the story: A homeland security fund absorbs the costs for other events, like the Georgia Avenue Caribbean carnival. LL can't help but observe, as Wagner did, that Fenty has run in the marathon, and that the carnival is quite popular in Ward 1 and Ward 4, both of which could be political battlegrounds this year. (Also, LL liked the way Fenty tried to brush off Wagner's questions outside a Ward 1 ground-breaking ceremony last week by saying he needed the facts, even as Wagner brandished the relevant documents.) Besides the obvious budget-related questions here—like, how can the District afford to be eating these costs when the budget is as tight as it is?—LL wonders how Vincent Gray will handle this story: The marathon angle seems to be another example of Fenty pals benefiting from decisions made with no input from the D.C. Council. At-large Councilmember Phil Mendelson tells Fox he's got plenty of projects he'd like to spend money on, but the Fenty administration insists the money isn't there. Finally, it's not at all clear how the waivers get doled out—the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, for instance, had to pay its security costs. Watch the video.

AFTER THE JUMP: Post profiles; DYRS shenanigans; DCPS lawsuit...

Kwame & Vincent, Bestest Friends: The oft-ignored council chairman's race gets some Monday/Tuesday love from the Post's Ann Marimow with profiles of At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown and former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange.  For the interest of space, LL will skip the nice parts of both profiles and get to the dirt. The knock on Brown: "Even as they have endorsed him, some council members point to what they call Brown's propensity to change positions with the political winds. When it appeared this spring that the District's best hope of winning a voting seat in Congress would mean agreeing to a measure to weaken the city's gun laws, Brown initially issued a statement saying, 'Now is the time for voting rights' and calling for 'sacrifice.' Three days later, after Gray and others publicly opposed the measure's impact on firearm rules, Brown appeared to change course, saying in a statement, 'Now is the time for voting rights, but if it means we have to erode our local governing authority, we must wait for a better opportunity to strike.' Brown said he never wavered in his support of gun control. The first message was a mistake, he said, sent out prematurely by an aide before Brown had thoroughly vetted it." That strikes LL as a kind of "dog ate my homework excuse." There wasn't much dirt on Orange, save for this: "But his preference for fiscal conservatism seems to have its limits: Orange favors lavish parties (including birthday bashes at Love nightclub), and as he was leaving office in 2006 he unsuccessfully proposed increasing council members' pay to $140,000—a 51 percent hike." LL used to favor lavish parties, including birthday bashes at Chuck-E-Cheese. But those days are gone.

Repeat Offender: The Post's Colbert I. King, who has been a strong critic of the city's juvenile justice system, praises Fenty for "finally" trying to fix DYRS, by firing chief Marc Schindler and replacing him with Attorney General's Peter Nickles' pick, Robert Hildum. King has the results of Nickles' report of the embattled agency, including that DYRS "measures recidivism too narrowly... has a weak policy on abscondence and oversight... has a flawed method of deciding youth placement... has lax rules on community placements." "Since their commitment just over two years ago, 71 percent had new convictions, and 42 percent of those convictions were for offenses such as robbery, weapons assault and drugs. Moreover, 23 percent of those with new convictions were convicted in the adult system. Those numbers don't even include DYRS youth in the D.C. jail awaiting trial on adult charges... The investigation found several instances where youths disappeared for several days without DYRS requesting the required custody order (or arrest warrant) from the court. In one case, a youth was gone for several weeks before an order was sought. In another case, DYRS gave a third-party monitor 'a number of' days to locate a missing youth, and no one sought a custody order." Liz Ryan, president of the Campaign for Youth Justice, fires back at the Post for the heat she's taken. "The fact that I and others asked for an investigation of Mr. Nickles’s involvement in Mr. Schindler’s replacement and other decisions on juvenile justice demonstrates our commitment to reducing youth recidivism—the opposite of what The Post accuses us of. Despite the fact that Mr. Nickles was warned by Judge Herbert Dixon about a potential conflict of interest for his role in the Jerry M. case regarding the District’s juvenile justice system, it appears that Mr. Nickles repeatedly gave counsel to the mayor that a reasonable observer could view as a conflict with his previous position as lead plaintiff’s counsel."

It's Suing Time: The Washington Teachers Union is going to file suit against DCPS over the fired 241 teachers, reports Leah Fabel of the Examiner. Union President George Parker said, "'The story is not the firings so much as the document upon which the firings are based,' Parker said. 'It is a flawed document.' He derided the 'euphoric' reaction of observers and news reports nationwide, saying he's 'never seen a superintendent receive less scrutiny than Chancellor [Michelle] Rhee. 'There's this sense that since [other superintendents] haven't been able to do something like this, she must be right,' he said. 'They assume that if she's firing people, they must be poor teachers.'" LL agrees with Parker that it has been a little strange watching the glee these firings have evoked nationally.  Here's just two example: The National Review wants Rhee to lead the war effort. And the New Republic also loves Rhee, and demands answers from Gray. Personally, LL would be more euphoric if the city fired all the "ineffective" workers at the DMV.

Nice Lemonade, Jo-Ann: Correction of the Week award goes to the Post editorial board, for this gem. After incorrectly stating in a previous editorial that Gray convened a hearing over the dismissal of a popular biology teacher, the Posties cop to their error. But then they spend the rest of a new editorial bashing Gray anyway for listening to the teacher's students and telling them that their teacher sounds like a great guy who shouldn't have been fired. "Mr. Gray followed up with a meeting with Ms. Rhee, and a spokeswoman for his campaign stressed that he deferred to the chancellor. But as council chairman, he didn't have much choice; as mayor, he would have the power to interfere. His statements in this case might lead voters to ask whether Mr. Gray will back his frontline educators, even when they don't do the popular thing." In other words, we do not regret the error.  

You're Hired: Togo West, the former Army secretary and veterans affairs secretary, breezed through a confirmation hearing yesterday to serve as a member of the city's elections board. [Post]

Check out the photo in this story [Examiner]

Medical Marijuana now legal in the District [Post]

No smoking area expands [WBJ]

Fenty frustrated with Pepco [WTOP]

Metro crash findings released today [NEWS 8]

Summer jobs program cut [NEWS 8]

Fenty schedule:

Groundbreaking for senior center, 10:45 a.m. 1330 Missouri Ave, NW. Ribbon-cutting for George Avenue CVS, 3:30 p.m. George and New Hampshire NW.

Political schedule:

Ward 6 mayoral forum, Eastern Market, 7 p.m.

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  • It’s nothing new

    Truth is the practice of waiving fees for events goes back many years. It began look before Fenty became Mayor. Most of the time the waivers are for neighborhood events and block parties (even things like Police Night Out) that are volunteer events and organizers/neighbors often can't afford the fees.

    I hope this Fox report doesn't result in a crackdown in the waiving of fees for these small neighborhood events.

  • Rick Mangus

    The city needs money and this is going on! I hope Paul Wagner and Fox 5 stays on this story to the end!

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  • candycane1

    In these tough economic times organizations get fees waived? Nope! Keep digging, dangle the documents a little more. Haven't see this in the Washington Post. Interesting but not surprising.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    small neighborhood festivals might be one thing, but Citywide Marathons, come on now.

  • candycane1

    I just looked at the Fox news clip. As usual, his standard statements, Let me get the facts, I don't know anything about it. They interviewed Ramsey and he stated that under Anthony Williams, MPD was never asked to waive any fees. Fenty even participated in one of the events but he doesn't know a thing about it. Ooh Primary day can't get here soon enough.

  • Rick Mangus

    YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!

  • tired

    this is ridiculous. We are in a deficit . Why wasn't the Susan Komen fund given a waiver. Does this mean Fenty is anti-woman.

  • Sally

    Ramsey says there were never any waivers during the Williams era? Uh huh. Keep in mind that Ramsey also lied a whole bunch regarding other things that occurred during his watch.

    And maybe you should ask Jimmy Graham how often he demands that Ward 1 events not have to pay any fees and for the city to ignore food safety checks. Hint: FOIA.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jobforce David Hoffman

    Recent Audit of DC Dept of Employment Agency Running DC's Jobs Programs Raided $780,000 Council Gave Them And Cost DC Residents $14,000,000 - WE CAN DO BETTER:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdKT5yh3Qu0

    DC Funds Being Used For Programs That Work Are Raided And ReDirected - WE CAN DO BETTER:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3o6k3cRUK8

    Your Vote. Your Choice. The Results Really Do Speak For Themselves.

  • It’s nothing new

    Sally's right and Ramsey's full of it. The Pride Parade had fees waived at least once during the Williams Administration, and so did a number of smaller neighborhood block parties and similar events. He may not remember, but I clearly do.

    The problem is not that some worthy events get a break. The problem is who decides what's worthy. As far as the Komen event, it is extremely worthy, but it also lasted three days....some of the marathon, bicycle, or other such events may not be as worthy, but may only last a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. Who should decide? Or should every event have to pay full freight, in which case some worthy events wouldn't happen - especially in working class and poorer neighborhoods.

  • It’s Not Monopoly Money

    Fenty wasn't aware of freebies for his athletic events, when the tape shows him wearing Runner No. 1? Give me a break.

    As a DC taxpayer, I don't appreciate tax dollars going to waiving fees for events that are extras. At some point this city, and this country, has to start prioritizing what is necessary and what is not. The dollars come out of our wages - they aren't unlimited.

  • downtown rez

    I know first hand that fees have been waived since at least Williams, and my bet is for long before that.
    It's a way for the government to help support for festivals and events that are either a) politically popular or b) infuse a net-gain of cash into the city.
    It comes down to smart management.

  • Truth Hurts

    Drez: Don't be a party pooper. Fenty haters aren't interested in facts. One city Gray will stop the "cronyism" dead in its tracks, right?

  • tired

    Tuth Hurts crawl back under your rock.

  • Truth Hurts

    Go to sleep, tired. And please stop stalking me. You follow virtually every comment I post with a dumb personal insult. I don't care who you are or what you think. Just step away.

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