Loose Lips Daily: Bailout? Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good afternoon, sweet readers! All LL has every really wanted in life is a place to swim in a creek with his dog without the fear of Johnny Law giving him grief. Well, LL finally found that place, and he'll never tell you where it is. News time:
People Addicted to City Funding: Oh man, does this story have the potential to explode. Washington City Paper's Rend Smith wins the late Friday news cycle with word that the city's favorite anti-youth violence group Peaceoholics is broke and the Fenty administration is "trying, quietly, to find some $400,000 to pay them."
"What’s a little unclear from talking to city officials is whether the money supposedly involved is money the organization is already owed, or whether it would be new cash to stave off a financial crisis at the group. Peaceoholics have gotten $10 million in grants and loans from D.C. government and other agencies since 2005, for various purposes; Fenty critics say it’s mostly been wasted, but the mayor has defended Moten’s work. The mayor has some power to move money around quickly and directly, but overstepping it has landed him in hot water before.
Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson says there’s nothing unusual going on; the administration is merely looking to make sure Peaceoholics get paid for their services. ”The organization has provided work for both the Trust and DYRS, which would result in payment from both agencies,” she e-mailed City Paper. A request for documents that show DYRS and the Trust owe the Peaceaholics money, though, has so far gone unanswered.
Outside the administration, there’s some skepticism. 'I don’t believe it,' says Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. Wells, who chairs the D.C. Council Committee on Human Services that oversees the two agencies, doesn’t know what they might need to pay Peaceoholics for."
Fenty's biggest fan and Peaceoholics founder Ron Moten said "there was no question Peaceoholics needed money—and that the group is owed some payments from the District. 'We’ve done work for DYRS that we didn’t get paid for,' he said. Beyond that, he was a little vague on the details. 'I don’t know anything about it, but I know we need funds,' he said. 'I know that people have been trying to stop Peaceaholics from getting funding by any means necessary.'"
Smith's story leaves a lot of questions unanswered. LL has a feeling that we'll be hearing more about this story shortly.
AFTER THE JUMP: More Moten; More Trout; More rich foreigners...
X Marks the Spot: Speaking of Moten, it seems that someone really wanted to make sure that D.C. Council Chairman and mayoral hopeful Vincent Gray had extra copies of Moten's new magazine, which features cartoons of Gray the friendly looking vampire. The Examiner's Freeman Klopott reported Friday that Gray told the Examiner that he 'returned home Thursday night to find four copies of the Peaceoholics’ The Otherside Magazine stuck into his storm door in the shape of an 'X.'"
A Tale of Two Columns: The Post's Colby King thinks it's a shame that special investigator Robert Trout's report on how those millions of dollars in park contracts wound up going to Fenty's fraternity brothers won't be finished until after the election. So does The Examiner's Jonetta Rose Barras. But whereas King faults the council for wasting six months before handing over the investigation to Trout, as wells as Fenty's friends Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner for resisting Trout's probe, Barras lays blame squarely on, you guess it, Trout and the council. "Trout wants to compel Karim to reveal the fiscal affairs of Liberty Law Group, a firm also owned by Karim, But Liberty has never received a government contract and there isn't any evidence it received funds associated with the recreation deal. Understandably Karim's lawyer, A. Scott Bolden, has said Trout is becoming 'the Kenneth Starr' of the District." Barrass doesn't mention that Karim's law firm paid Skinner at least $600,000, and that Trout has said he needs to examine all financial entanglements between the pair to do a complete investigation. But she does add that "folks who know the details of the recreation contract investigation" have said Trout's final report will likely conclude that there was no criminal criminal wrongdoing." Way to fart and run, Jonetta! If true, that's a pretty big scoop. How about a little more detail?
King takes a more measured approach, saying, "Voters are being bombarded with accusations that, if true, ought to have consequences at the polls.'What happened with these contracts,' D.C. Council chairman and mayoral contender Vincent Gray charged at a mayoral debate in Ward 3, is 'one of the worst examples of cronyism I have ever seen in the District of Columbia.' And this in a Gray campaign news release this week: 'In almost four years in office, Mayor Fenty has been more interested in helping his friends get $82 million in rigged city contracts than helping' the unemployed. Would you vote for Fenty if that turned out to be true? Fenty has said he was not involved in the process that led to contracts being awarded to Karim and Skinner. Lawyer A. Scott Bolden, who represents Karim and Skinner, calls the contract probe 'unnecessary and unreasonable' and says that the 'real victims [are] . . . Banneker and its many subcontractors.' Suppose that the allegations by Gray are unfounded; is he participating in a political witch hunt? What would you think of him then?"
I'll Be There: Councilmember Michael A. Brown replies to the Washington Post's editorial criticizing him for skipping so many Metro board meetings. Brown says he's missed 52 meetings since he was apointed as an alternate member last year because he's so darn busy with other committees. But, he says, he'll try and do better. "Contrary to what the editorial said, I did not intentionally skip meetings. I take offense at the suggestion that I regard my 'alternate' status on the board as an 'amusing hobby' and a chance to play 'hooky.' I take my role as an alternate Metro board director seriously. I will make every effort to better balance and manage my multiple priorities."
Intowner Goes for Gray: The InTowner has endorsed Gray, saying they disapprove of Fenty's "cowboy" style. "In closing, we want to make one thing totally clear: Our endorsement of Vincent Gray is not to be interpreted as one of those 'anybody but the other guy' endorsements, We are fully behind Gray’s candidacy for not only the reasons discussed above but also because of his deep understanding of the nuts and bolts of municipal governance and for the ease and personal confidence in himself that he displays in his gracious and empathetic interaction with citizens—as distinguished from swaggering arrogance which only suggests fear of failure."
Better Statehood Plan Please: The Post's Robert McCartney is down with Gray's idea to get arrested for statehood. "Gray's call to the barricades is partly a campaign maneuver to show that he's more passionate about the issue than Fenty, but I'm mostly with him on it anyway. Voting rights are the keystone in the arch of democracy. Nonviolent, nondestructive civil disobedience is justified on their behalf. No breaking windows, throwing stones or resisting arrest, but it's okay to peaceably occupy a sidewalk, street or office. ... Regardless of who is the next mayor, he should play a more assertive role in pushing the issue of voting rights, whether through statehood or otherwise. Fenty has mostly deferred to [Eleanor Holmes] Norton, and perhaps that made sense as long as the House vote bill seemed to be moving forward. Now that it has been blocked, though, new energy is needed."
If You Build It: Could a mixed use development be in the works for the "dead zone" next to Union Station? WBJ's Michael Neibauer, take it away: "The lease holder of a large District-owned parcel at New Jersey Avenue and H Street NW is shifting focus from developing office space for the federal government to building mixed-use residential and retail, D.C. government sources say. The parcel at 801 New Jersey Ave., a transitional site between NoMa and Mount Vernon Triangle, has been passed over for numerous large-scale federal leases over the last decade. The lease holder, New Jersey and H LLC, controlled by D.C.-based, faces monetary penalties in the near term for the project’s lengthy delays. So the company is now in talks with the District on a new proposal: mixed-use residential and retail, sources in Mayor Adrian Fenty’s administration say. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing."
You Want In? Start Paying: The Post's Jonathan O'Connell has found the cure for the District's economic development woes: rich people who want to live in America. "A federal immigration program that grants foreigners immigration visas in exchange for investments in American businesses is bringing $5 million to a long-awaited new Giant grocery store and mixed-use development in the city's Shaw neighborhood and also plans to finance the creation of a locally backed food store in Anacostia. The EB-5 program grants visas to foreign individuals who make investments of $500,000 to $1 million that produce at least 10 American jobs. Though created in 1990, interest in it has soared recently, with 74 enterprises nationally and three in D.C. registered to accept investments. The resulting number of EB-5s issued nationally jumped from 1,443 in fiscal 2008 to 4,218 in fiscal 2009."
Gray Would Fire You Too: The Examiner's Freeman Klopott reports that Gray's just as eager to fire teachers as Fenty is, just not based on the current evaluation system DCPS is using."D.C. Council chairman and mayoral candidate Vince Gray said he supports the idea of firing ineffective teachers, but raised concerns about the evaluations D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee used as the basis for firing hundreds of city schoolteachers this summer. Gray has been quiet on the teacher firings since Rhee announced late last month that more than 200 teachers were being let go because evaluations showed they weren't getting through to students. But during a meeting with The Washington Examiner's editorial board on Friday, he said "'people should be held accountable.'"
Go-Go Wars: TBD's Sarah Godfrey and Sarah Larimer report on the go-go wars between Gray and Fenty. Of note: "Go-go band TCB appeared at an event for Gray this weekend in Langdon Park, off of Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast. No big deal, says TCB co-manager Darrin X. '[Gray]’s trying to, I guess in the politically correct way to say it, show he’s hip,' says X. 'I think they contacted us because, for a lot of youth in D.C., we’re like the preferred band.' TCB wasn’t trying to take sides in the heated primary, X says. After the group left the Gray event, they traveled to Southeast’s Oxon Run Park to play at a Fenty event and ran into 'a little controversy,' as X puts it. 'So, after we performed in Langdon Park, we left around 7 to go to the Southeast side to perform for Mayor Fenty. I guess his camp was upset that we were performing at the Gray situation,' X says. 'Ron Moten was the one who voiced his opinion. But, like I told him, we’re trying to be as neutral as possible.' Moten will not stand for double agents!
Felons want to "ban the box." [Times]
Note to Republicans who want to vote for Rhee Fenty: Today is your last day to change party registration. [Post]
Fenty's got new hip-hop song out [DeBonis]
Fenty schedule: 3:30 p.m. remarks at demolition of Southwest Waterfront Hogates, 800 Water Street SW