Loose Lips Daily: Remain Vigilant Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, Washington! Welcome to Day 2 of your post-Osama world.
The District Department of Transportation’s Capital Bikeshare is sure basking in the post-bin Laden glow for the role it played transporting people to Lafayette Square for Sunday night’s impromptu celebration in front of the White House. The bike-sharing service saw a spike in usage in the hours surrounding President Barack Obama's big announcement. New talking point: Bike-sharing services help conquer evil terrorists!
But officials are urging caution, naturally. Mayor Vince Gray says to "remain vigilant at all times." The local homeland security apparatus is upping security, including the Metro Transit Police, the Metropolitan Police Department, and commercial real estate landlords.
In an interview with The Washington Post, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier "downplayed a question of whether the police department’s current staffing issues — ‘down 400 police positions and 300 civilians’ — could impede efforts to heighten security." (More on that in a bit!) But in the meantime, there are no specific threats to our fair city, thankfully. MORE from NBC Washington, DCist, and The Washington Times.
Your normal LL, Alan Suderman, is off this week. What else is making news in the local D.C. political universe? News time...
Kwame Brown Deposition Update: The biggest news in town did not impede the D.C. Council chairman from answering questions from the Office of Campaign Finance, as it continues to look into Brown’s campaign spending from the 2008 cycle. Brown refused to answer questions from the Post, "quickly ducking into an elevator." Brown’s lawyer, Fred Cooke, isn't saying much either, commenting because the chairman wants to "respect the process."
AFTER THE JUMP: Gray’s Child Services Cuts, Marion Barry’s Holds, Catania’s Police Force Level Legislation
Serious Business: During last year’s campaign, Gray said his experience in the non-profit arena, paired with his past duties helming the Department of Human Services, would help him make more effective budget decisions. Mike DeBonis, in today’s Post, reports that “[u]nder the budget plan Gray (D) released last month, funding for the Child and Family Services Agency would stay largely the same, about $265 million in local and federal money. But because of rising costs, the proposal appears to eliminate nearly $6 million in programs and contracts, including $635,000 for community groups that help at-risk families and a $2.5 million program that provides mental health services to badly traumatized children.” And a court-appointed monitor is warning that loss in program funds “threatens to derail the advances that have been occurring, although slowly, in building the District’s mental health system capacity for children and families.”
That Dreaded 3,800 Number: The Examiner’s Freeman Klopott reports that At-Large D.C. Councilmember David Catania is introducing legislation that would force MPD, its police union, and the Gray administration to figure out a way to "stop the District's police force from dwindling to critical levels." The legislation would create a commission to study police recruitment and retention. Per Klopott, there are currently 3,880 police officers. "If the force dips below 3,800, 'we're going to have trouble,' Chief Cathy Lanier has said." Cue ominous music.
Yes, Anacostia River Still Dirty: Our colleague Lydia DePillis pages through D.C. Appleseed’s "whopper of a document on the current conditions, remediation efforts, and recommendations for next steps on cleaning up the Anacostia River." In terms of governance issues, the report calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should create a multi-jurisdictional department to coordinate state, local, and federal clean-up efforts; regional stormwater management should have uniform standards across jurisdictions; the federal government should match local cleanup dollars "on a 2:1 basis, amounting to $35-40 million in grants yearly."
In the World of Juvenile Justice: Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham is planning to introduce legislation "designed to let the public assist law enforcement in the search for juvenile fugitives, placing the youths on par with adult offenders who escape from custody," The Washington Times reports. A situation involving a D.C. juvenile offender who recently escaped from an out-of-state facility in South Carolina has caused legislators in the Palmetto State to introduce a bill “to heighten security and transparency at youth treatment facilities that house out-of-state offenders.” That escapee was captured.
Legislative Trivia: How many contract disapprovals has Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry introduced since the beginning of the year? According to the Washington Business Journal’s Michael Neibauer, the answer is 12. A contract disapproval is "[u]sually symbolic" and "slows the process by 45 days," though the "deals themselves very rarely disapproved."
Mapping Food Deserts: In public policy circles, the presence of food deserts, areas where residents lack any or good access to fresh produce and groceries. Jaime Fearer points out this interesting food desert map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While Ward 5 and Ward 7 have sections marked as food deserts, the only other part of D.C. that’s a food desert is the St. Elizabeths campus in Ward 8.
OK, not D.C. politics related, but here’s an update on former Examiner gossip columnist Karen Feld and her three-ring circus of a family legal drama. Yowza!
On the mayor’s public schedule: Meeting with Prince Charles, Common Good City Farm, V Street NW, 4 p.m.; Ward 3 budget town hall meeting, Alice Deal Middle School, 7 p.m.
On the D.C. Council’s schedule: 10 a.m., 9th legislative meeting, Room 500, JAWB; noon, Committee of the Whole, Room 500, JAWB; Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, 2 p.m., Room 412, JAWB