Loose Lips

Bowser Pitches Committee to Decide on Marion Barry Honors

winBowser_blog-2Three months after Marion Barry's death, the District government is getting around to honoring him permanently.

This morning, Muriel Bowser laid out the make-up of an eleven-member city commission that will decide what to name after the mayor-for-life. Among them: an ex-mayor, a former city administrator, an ex-councilmember, a current councilmember, a minority small business operator, and a member of Barry's family.

While Bowser didn't float any names of her committee members, there aren't a lot of options for some of them. For example, only one of four people alive are eligible for the ex-mayor slot.

Read more Bowser Pitches Committee to Decide on Marion Barry Honors

Muriel Bowser: No Pot Nightclubs for D.C.

In less than two days, private marijuana use and cultivation will be legal in the District. But if you're itching to launch the Copacabana of marijuana nightclubs, think again. With marijuana set to be legal at 12 a.m. Thursday, Muriel Bowser has moved to ban private marijuana nightclubs.

Initiative 71, the legalization measure that was approved in November, doesn't change the legality of smoking on public land or in most businesses, which are open to the public. But Bowser fears that a club that closes itself to the public by charging a membership fee could get around the restriction on "public" marijuana smoking. At breakfast this morning with District councilmembers, Bowser said she'd introduce legislation to forbid ban pot smoking at private clubs.

Bowser's legislation doesn't appear to apply to the floated idea of Dallas Buyer's Club-style pot sharing clubs, the legality of which is still unclear. Under this scheme, meant to skirt restrictions on selling marijuana, would-be marijuana users would pay a membership fee to an organization that would then "give them" marijuana. So far, no one has proposed starting such a group to "share" drugs.

Read more Muriel Bowser: No Pot Nightclubs for D.C.

LL Links

Some charter school leaders pull in hefty salaries. [Post]

Jim Graham helps Marion C. Barry in the Ward 8 race. [LL]

748 tickets issued over the streetcar so far. [City Desk]

See how DCPS spends its money. [Post]

32BJ SEIU backs Brandon Todd in the Ward 4 race. [SEIU]

City tries to convince kids not to litter. [WAMU]

Mother copes after police kill her son. [Post]

LGBT groups worry after mysterious downtown stabbing. [Post]

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Jim Graham Backs Marion C. Barry in Ward 8 Race

Jim Graham lost his re-election bid last year, but a promise to the late Marion Barry is keeping him in District politics. The former Ward 1 councilmember tells LL that he's helping Marion C. Barry in the Ward 8 special election for his father's seat.

Before Barry died last year, Graham says the mayor-for-life asked him to help his son compete for the Council position. Graham tells LL that he's been offering campaign advice to the younger Barry (who went by Christopher Barry until his father died). In Post story on Barry's run, Graham says the only person who can beat Barry in the race is Barry himself.

"For me, Christopher Barry is not about who he has been, but about who he will become," Graham says. "He has great stock. He’s [mother] Effi [Barry]'s son and he’s Marion's son, and there’s a great potential there."

Read more Jim Graham Backs Marion C. Barry in Ward 8 Race

LL Links

The streetcar catches on fire. [Housing ComplexPost]

Feds take their time with Jeff Thompson and Vince Gray. [LL]

The rise of gentrification truthers. [Housing Complex]

Chris Barry tries to take his dad's seat. [Post]

Where all D.C.'s vacant land is. [Housing Complex]

Royal Jelly? [Post]

The homeless talk about living outdoors during the winter. [WAMU]

What caused the petroleum smell in the water? D.C. Water doesn't know. [Housing Complex]

Read more LL Links

Federal Prosecutors Are Still Taking Their Time with Jeff Thompson

Next month, it'll be a year since Vince Gray 2010 shadow campaign financier Jeff Thompson pleaded guilty and took Gray's re-election campaign down with him. With Thompson's one-time candidate out of office, things are about to wrap up, right?

No way. Earlier this week, Thompson, henchwoman Jeanne Clarke Harris, and two Thompson straw donors had the next hearings in their cases, each scheduled for this month, moved to late May. They join other Thompson associates Vernon HawkinsMark Long, and Kelvin Robinson on the endless carousel of delayed hearings.

Given the elaborate logic of the plea deals—people with dirt on Thompson can't be sentenced until he finishes cooperating, and he can't finish cooperating until the feds charge or give up on Gray—this could go on for even longer. Prosecutors' explanation for the delayed hearings: "the defendant's cooperation in the on-going criminal investigation." A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ron Machen didn't respond to LL's request for comment about the investigation into Gray, who has repeatedly said he didn't do anything wrong.

Read more Federal Prosecutors Are Still Taking Their Time with Jeff Thompson

LL Links

Shifting responsibilities set up clash between mayor's office and Attorney General Karl Racine. [Post]

Ward 4 candidate Brandon Todd declared bankruptcy over credit card debts. [LL]

Charter board revokes charter for Dorothy I. Height Community Academy charter. [Post]

Running changes a homeless man's life. [WAMU]

Metro stayed mum on busted emergency radio network. [Post]

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Leading Ward 4 Candidate Filed for Bankruptcy in 2005 Over Debts to J. Crew, Nordstrom, Others

Ward 4 candidate Brandon Todd is set to sweep his 14 opponents in the Ward 4 special election. Thanks to an endorsement from mentor Muriel Bowser and a campaign treasury that has surpassed his rivals' bank accounts by nearly $200,000, the April 28 race looks to be less of an election and more of a coronation.

But Todd hasn't always had such good fortune. A decade ago, when he was in his early 20s, Todd filed for bankruptcy over more than $20,000 in debts, according to documents filed in federal court.

Many of Todd's debts came in the form of credit card debts to luxury clothing stores. In a January 2005 listing of his creditors, Todd describes $1,724 owed to Bloomingdale's, $646 owed to J. Crew, $1,458 owed to Macy's, $450 owed to Neiman Marcus, $2,134 owed to Nordstrom, and $1,650 owed to Saks Fifth Avenue. Todd owed the biggest share of his $20,637 in total debts to First Financial Bank, a South Dakota-based bank that he owed $7,371.

Read more Leading Ward 4 Candidate Filed for Bankruptcy in 2005 Over Debts to J. Crew, Nordstrom, Others

LL Links

Councilmembers scrap over proposed school for minority young men. [LL]

Emergency legislation might not help Museum Square tenants after all. [Housing Complex]

Burglar who targeted elderly, including Muriel Bowser's parents, gets nine years.  [Post]

Where the childless singles are living in the District. [Housing Complex]

Metro will replace carpet with... more carpet. [WBJ]

Read more LL Links

Minority Report: Proposed School for Black and Latino Boys Faces Potential Title IX Challenge


There’s no controversy over whether the District’s black and Latino boys need help. They score worse on standardized tests than their white counterparts. They’re less likely to attend school, and even when they do, they take longer to graduate.

Just how the District government should help them, though, has created a lot of controversy. Last month, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, backed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, announced a $20 million plan to help minority boys. A currently undisclosed amount of money from the “Empowering Males of Color” initiative will go to starting an all-boys school in Ward 7 or 8.

Who could object to that, right? As it turns out, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh. Three weeks after Henderson’s announcement, Cheh’s office published a letter she sent to Attorney General Karl Racine about Henderson’s new program. Her question for Racine: Is this even legal?

The sight of Cheh, who represents many of the District’s wealthiest (and whitest) residents, questioning a program meant to help some of its poorest isn’t what LL would call a good look. The dispute has opened a gap between Cheh and other councilmembers, and threatens to quash one of the first major initiatives of Bowser’s administration. It’s also one of the first tests for the District’s first elected attorney general.

Read more Minority Report: Proposed School for Black and Latino Boys Faces Potential Title IX Challenge