DeMorning DeBonis: June 10, 2010
TODAY IS JUNE 10, 2010 -- 96 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
A new report from D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols is certain to rekindle the debate over the District government's efforts to guarantee jobs for D.C. residents. Council-implemented programs that require city-aided projects to hire District residents and pay them above-market wages are "poorly monitored and rarely enforced," Michael Neibauer writes in his Washington Business Journal wrap-up of the audit. Nichols looked at 16 projects, most of them handled by the erstwhile National Capital Revitalization Corp. and Anacostia Waterfront Corp. Only four followed a requirement to hire city residents for 51 percent of jobs. "The 12 that did not, including DC USA, Kenyon Square and the Mandarin Oriental hotel, amounted to 361 jobs and $14.3 million in earnings lost," Neibauer writes. Council members say the poor record is due to the indifference of city executives. But if you ask the contractors actually doing the hiring, they'll tell you they'd love to hire qualified city residents -- if only they could find them.
AFTER THE JUMP -- voting-rights talk turns to statehood -- as many as 400 drunk-driving convictions in doubt -- Boasberg leaves HPRB chair -- school-boarder endorses Gray/Rhee ticket -- new allegations of old malfeasance at OTR
** MAIN COURSE ***
STATEHOOD OR BUST -- Yours truly notes a shift in voting-rights rhetoric among city leaders: "With a seven-year effort to win a House of Representatives vote for the District now foundering, officials and activists are starting to wonder how to proceed with the city's decades-long fight for congressional representation. The answer that's emerging, in candidate forums this campaign season and in the city budget, is an old one: statehood. 'There's an enormous amount of frustration,' D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said. 'People wanted voting rights. That obviously didn't happen. ... I think there's a view on the part of myself and a lot of other people: Why don't we just wage the fight for statehood?' ... Gray and others explain their frustration as rooted in political reality: The Democratic Party has majority control of Congress, plus a Democratic president in Obama. But still the voting-rights compromise has failed. 'If we can't get it now, then when?' asked Gray, who is running for mayor. 'Why don't we just go for the whole enchilada?'"
DRUNK TANKED -- The tally is in: Nearly 400 city drunk-driving convictions dating to fall 2008 are in doubt due to poorly calibrated equipment, the city tells Post colleague Mary Pat Flaherty. The faulty breath-testing equipment could have caused alcohol levels to register 20 percent higher than they actually were. Attorney General Peter Nickles "has begun notifying the drivers, a move that immediately triggered at least one lawsuit against the District and could lead to requests for expungements, new trials and even deeper skepticism about the integrity of testing. Challenging test results is at the heart of drunken-driving cases, and this revelation will only strengthen those challenges, defense attorneys said." Nickles says he doesn't expect cases to be tossed, but "[s]ome lawyers who specialize in drunken-driving cases questioned Nickles's continued confidence in the DWI convictions, with one lawyer, Thomas A. Key, calling it 'utter bull.'"
WHAT HAPPENED? -- Veteran Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro Jr. has a report on the departure of city AIDS czar Shannon Hader, airing "[s]peculation that the resignation could be linked to disagreements between her and the director of the Department of Health, Dr. Pierre Vigilance, under whom she served" and that "Hader and Vigilance clashed over differences in management style." Hader e-mailed Chibbaro but would not address the rumors: "I will continue to be involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, just changing hats from time to time. ... I look forward to putting on the new hat of 'expert & engaged community member' with regards to the fight against HIV/AIDS in D.C. I am a resident, I am a constituent, I am passionate about our community and feel privileged to be (and continue to be) a part of it!"
WELL PRESERVED -- Tersh Boasberg, the veteran historian and preservationist, has stepped down from the chair of the city's Historic Preservation Review Board after a decade, colleague Jonathan O'Connell reports at the Capital Business blog.The backstory: "Tanya Washington, chief of staff for the Office of Planning, which houses the board, said that Boasberg 'stepped down voluntarily and actually had recommended Ms. Buell as his replacement.' Boasberg's term was set to expire in July. ... An attorney who specializes in land use, historic preservation and the environment, Boasberg possesses a tremendous knowledge of the city's historic buildings. He became chairman at a time when the city's downtown was enjoying a renaissance of development and many preservationists were concerned about the future of its architecturally and historically significant buildings." His replacement will be Catherine Buell, a Patton Boggs attorney.
FALSE CHOICE? -- Outgoing Ward 6 State Board of Education member Lisa Raymond sends a parting shot at the Fenty administration, in the form of an e-mail to supporters. Bill Turque has it: "I know that some of you are afraid that if Vince Gray is elected mayor, Chancellor Rhee will leave, and all of the tremendous movement we have seen in our schools would depart with her. Well, I am among the growing chorus of parents and others who care deeply about education and say that I support both Vince Gray for mayor and Michelle Rhee for chancellor ... I reject this notion -- and let's not kid ourselves, it's coming directly from Mayor Fenty and his team, who have the most to lose -- that I have to choose between the person that I think is best qualified to lead our city and the best person to lead our school system."
THE LOCAL GUY -- Washington Times reporter Jeffrey Anderson raises questions about Emmanuel Bailey, partner in the new D.C. lottery deal: "Known for being well-spoken, well-mannered and well-dressed, Mr. Bailey was once described by The Washington Post as a self-made businessman who thrived on risk and opportunity. One outward sign of his success: the $150,000 Bentley he parks outside the Verizon Center during Washington Wizards games. But in Mr. Bailey, Intralot also gained a partner with a messy employment history who has left behind a trail of troubled businesses and lawsuits." While a human resources exec at Fannie Mae, Bailey sued over employment discrimination. A short stint as a nightclub owner in Montgomery County ended in debts and lawsuits. And his career in the janitorial business is similarly peppered with litigation.
WTU DRAMA -- The upcoming Washington Teachers' Union leadership elections represent "one remaining threat to the recently approved D.C. teachers contract," Leah Fabel reports in the Examiner. If Nathan Saunders, opposing incumbent George Parker for the union presidency, were to win, she writes, "implementation of the teachers contract -- with its pay-for-performance program and more flexibility for principals to hire and fire based on performance -- likely would be stunted." But the timetable for the election is in dispute and could be pushed back to fall over Saunders' objections.
RESPONSE -- Activist Robert Brannum responds to criticism of his ethics complaint against Rhee: "My request for an investigation was not motivated by a desire to elect or defeat any candidate; rather, I am acting as a citizen seeking to protect a principle of public policy. The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance has determined my concerns to be credible, describing my complaint as a 'cogent statement of facts alleged to constitute a violation' with a 'reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred.' Ms. Rhee is not the only one in the District who cares about children and reforming public education. Yes, I am a strong critic of Ms. Rhee, and just as she is unapologetic about her style, I do not apologize for mine." An unedited version is available in DCWatch's themail.
ISO ANSWERS -- The family of Trey Joyner, shot and killed by police in Trinidad a year ago, hold a press conference outside the Wilson Building to ask for answers in the shooting. Philip Lucas reports in the Post that they are "demanding a full report of the incident and calling for the six officers involved in the shooting to be brought to trial. ... Walter Joyner, Trey Joyner's father, see[s] the incident as a case of police brutality, which they think is becoming more common nationwide. 'All of our brothers and sisters need to band together and stop this police brutality that is happening on our streets, killing our youth,' [he] said." Justice Department officials are investigating.
NEW OTR CHARGES -- An Office of Tax and Revenue worker has been charged in a low-stakes bribery scam, Scott McCabe reports in the Examiner. "Shelly-Ann N. Wicker, an investigator for the Office of Tax and Revenue, and John F. Craul, owner of a corporate tax consulting firm, were indicted on 28 counts of bribery and forgery charges. The alleged scheme lasted between 2005 and 2007, ending mere months before the FBI uncovered a different $50 million scandal in the same office. Reached by phone Wednesday, Craul called the charges ridiculous. 'I have never bribed anybody, and they don't have proof,' Craul said. 'If Shelly did it, she did it on her own.'" Prosecutors allege Craul paid Wicker $1,800 for $106,000 in tax breaks.
GUNNED DOWN -- Reason magazine editor Matt Welch, responding to last week's City Paper cover story, has a smart read on the voting-rights aftermath. He points out that, with a Democratic House, Senate, and president, "If there had been a will, there would have been a way, regardless of what the gun freakers wanted." And: "It is always instinctively repellant to see a piece of legislation-particularly one having to do with basic enfranchisement-get saddled and ultimately sunk with a completely unrelated provision, but that's how political minorities, particularly in non-parliamentary countries such as the U.S., try to prevent the majority from running roughshod." And this: "If it's true that the NRA let its zeal for gun rights kill the D.C. voting bill, the flip side is also true -- District politicians' zeal for gun restrictions played a key role, too."
BURN NOTICE -- David Alpert writes at Greater Greater Washington that transit advocates are "feeling burned" by the city transportation department's sudden decision to redo bike lines on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Whatever you think about the changes, he writes, "the experience makes it more difficult to keep defending DDOT against criticism that they're not planning or communicating adequately. ... DDOT continues to seem to operate in two modes: If they know what they want, they wait until the last minute to tell others. If they don't know, they go to the community early and do whatever the majority of people or the ANC seem to want. Neither is ideal. ... I hope DDOT realizes, especially after the recent streetcar reversal, that it's much better off working with its friends instead of keeping them in the dark. Otherwise, there's a real risk they won't remain friends for long."
SEE-THROUGH PLOY? -- Michael Grass, writing at City Desk, on the politics of government transparency: "As a mayoral candidate in 2006, Fenty did plenty to profess a new golden age of transparency and openness in how the District conducts its business. Instead, figures from Cheh's office show, the average number of FOIA requests denied by the city has only increased--quadrupling, in fact--during Fenty's tenure. 'Councilmember Cheh has been on a mission to reform government, so you can't assume her sunlight initiative was launched with politics in mind,' local political consultant [and Gray supporter] Chuck Thies tells City Desk. 'That said, at this point in the campaign, Fenty can't be pleased to see his poor record on open government and transparency scrutinized.'"
LONG HOT SUMMER? -- Three men are shot near 8th and V Streets NW, not far from the 9:30 Club -- the latest incident in what's been a violent week. Clarence Williams writes for the Post: "The three were taken to a hospital -- two with life-threatening wounds and the third with serious wounds that were not believed to be life threatening. ... Police were looking for a green Chrysler 300 that fled the scene, which is near Howard University." WUSA-TV reports: "Sources close to the investigation say two men agreed to buy drugs from two sellers and apparently began the transaction in a large S-U-V. It appears one man, presumed to be the buyer, shot the two sellers while in the S-U-V. His fellow buyer was shot in the altercation, as well. The three victims all carried Maryland IDs." Also: A man is found shot to death in Fort Dupont Park.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
In defense of "going negative," Martin Austermuhle writes: "[I]n Fenty's case, I say keep it coming. Did he go negative? Sure. ... But that's part of electoral politics. Gray has a record, and if he's looking to be elected to the District's highest office, he should have to answer for it." (Examiner "Local Opinion Zone")
The Democratic State Committee straw poll is Saturday, and same-sex-marriage opponents are gearing up to support their candidates -- Leo Alexander, Delano Hunter, Kelvin Robinson, and Anthony Motley. (D.C. Wire)
Post editorial decries "unfortunate, probably naive and quite possibly damaging decision" of D.C. Court of Appeals in arrest case (Post)
"Who would've thought emailing Chancellor Rhee could bring so much joy to students?" (TeachFor.us)
Metro asks workers what they think about safety (Post)
Woodley Parkers fight McMansions (Housing Complex)
Is DCPS doing enough to aid gay and lesbian students? (Metro Weekly)
Avert your eyes: Vince Gray in shorts (Butter Funk -- yes, "Butter Funk")
Is Michelle Rhee in the same boat as Tom Nida? (Mark Lerner's Examiner blog)
Council's standalone statehood committee is no more. Not new, but all true. (DCist)
Could the Georgetown liquor-license moratorium be nearing an end? (WTTG-TV)
Fenty and Bowser clash on Petworth Safeway plans (Capital Business)
Maryland man accused of selling District 12-year-old for sex (WUSA-TV)
Football camp to be campaign hot spot this weekend (press release)
*** DESSERT ***
"Politics and Prose, the iconic independent bookstore on Connecticut Avenue NW that has held on against withering competition from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and Costco, is announcing what customers and employees have long feared: The place is for sale," Michael Rosenwald reports in the Post. "The store's owners, Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, both 74 and so in synch they often wear the same colors without planning to, said they are simply too tired to keep steering Washington's most prominent non-chain bookstore -- a premier stop on top-shelf author tours and a frequent setting for book talks on C-SPAN -- through the uncertainty of an industry threatened by e-books. Cohen is also seriously ill."
*** ON THE MENU ***
Fenty names "Frank Kameny Way"; cuts ribbon on affordable housing development -- Ward 3 Dems host mayoral forum at St. Columba's Episcopal Church, 7:30 p.m.; former Council member Kathy Patterson moderates -- campaign finance reports, including the first filings from the Gray, Kwame Brown, and Vincent Orange campaigns, are due by midnight
June 10, 2010; 9:02 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike , The District
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