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DeMorning DeBonis: June 15, 2010


There are people in this town -- I've talked to a few -- who think any day now Mayor Adrian Fenty will wake up, end the petty distractions, and roll to an easy re-election. Well, Monday was not that day. A petty crime at the Fenty home highlighted Hizzoner's oft-shadowy ways. He took responsibility for leaving his garage open in a statement Monday, but as Nikita Stewart writes in today's paper, "Fenty's delay in publicly acknowledging the theft earlier and a policy that prevents officers on duty from easily patrolling the mayor's property renewed concerns about Fenty's secrecy, which have included questions about not being more forthcoming with his public schedule and out-of-town travel as well as shunning police protection." Bill Myers, who broke the story, reports in the Examiner "that the mayor has a history of disciplining his security team when things go bad." The story has spread far and wide, from DCist and Prince of Petworth to WUSA-TV and WTTG-TV. Meanwhile, things aren't going much better on the hustings: Last night, Fenty lost the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club's mayoral endorsement to Vincent Gray.

AFTER THE JUMP -- NCLB forces changes at six DCPS schools -- Nickles says juvenile justice reforms are on the way -- how DCPS fails athletes -- CFO audit finds overtime fraud at DPW -- the InTowner stops print publication


GUARDING HIZZONER -- More from Nikita's story: Police union leader Kris Baumann "said officers are required to continuously monitor surveillance cameras from a guard booth at the Fenty property and must immediately contact the commanding officer of the executive protection unit when there is an emergency. The unit's policy does not allow officers to adequately patrol the 17th Street NW property, because officers risk being disciplined for leaving the booth, Baumann said. ... In June 2008, the Fentys' unfinished garage door was vandalized with graffiti, causing $50 in damage, according to a police report. Baumann said the officer on duty was written up for 'dereliction.' In December, a different officer received a 15-day suspension and was transferred after a neighbor was able to approach the mayor, said Baumann. The officer is appealing the decision, Baumann said, who added that officers who work at the mayor's property 'are terrified to leave the booth' for fear of disciplinary action."

NCLB CHANGES -- Like cardboard tubes of frozen orange juice, four DCPS schools will be "reconstituted" next school year under No Child Left Behind, Bill Turque reports Tuesday. They are Ballou Senior High; Garfield and Stanton elementaries; and the Hamilton Center for students with special needs. Two others, Davis Elementary and Luke C. Moore Academy, will be subject to less drastic overhauls. Like Anacostia, Coolidge and Dunbar high schools, Stanton will be handed over to a charter operator -- Philadelphia-based Scholar Academies, which "operates Young Scholars, a charter middle school that serves about 200 low-income African American children in Philadelphia. According to its Web site, it uses an extended school day and school year to improve academic rigor."

DYRS REFORMS COMING? -- "It's easy to throw brickbats at the city's juvenile justice system," Harry Jaffe writes in the Examiner, knowingly, but he goes on to laud the 11 kids who earned high school degrees at the New Beginnings center. Still: "Back to the bad news. ... [W]ith all due kudos for Friday's graduates, I must ask: What the heck are we going to do to keep ourselves safe from the bad actors that DYRS cannot seem to keep off the streets? My chat with D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles offered a glimmer of hope. ... Nickles is about to propose major reforms. One would force DYRS to tighten its security and keep better tabs of its wards. The second would open juvenile records for public review. The question then becomes whether the city council has the good sense and guts to pass laws that would protect us from violent kids. Any reforms will come before Tommy Wells, whose committee oversees DYRS. Wells has praised the agency's sweet side, which was on display for the graduation, but it's time to give cops and prosecutors tools to keep us safe from those who would rather shoot guns than read books."

DRAGON-SLAYING 101 -- Answer Sheet blogger Valerie Strauss calls Michelle Rhee's Sunday New York Daily News op-ed "what some might call an astonishing act of hubris." With the talk of all that's "groundbreaking" and " revolutionary" in the deal, she writes, "[o]ne could almost feel sorry for [New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein], being lectured this way ... but, actually, he deserves it. Klein told Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute last week that the D.C. contract is marvelous and in fact ground-breaking. 'This deal slayed the three dragons. Seniority. Lockstep pay. Tenure. It got them all.' It's still hard to see how these actions are going to help more kids learn how to read and understand solubility, but hey, we've got three dead dragons."

WHODUNIT? -- A question and a simple answer, from the lede to Keith Alexander's update on the Robert Wone trial: "How did Joseph Price find the knife that he and his two co-defendants say was used to stab Robert Wone to death in 2006? The knife was protruding from Wone's chest, and Price had to pull it out, according to testimony Monday at Price's trial. Testimony resumed Monday after a week's hiatus."

HOW DCPS FAILS ATHLETES -- Post prep sports reporter Alan Goldenbach looks at how DCPS leaves its student athletes ill-prepared for the next level. H.D. Woodson hoops star Ronika Ransford, for instance, couldn't directly matriculate at the University of Georgia, because, "[l]ike many standout athletes from D.C. Public Schools, she struggled to satisfy NCAA initial eligibility standards. It was not until midway through her senior year that she learned she was not going to fulfill the NCAA's minimum 16 core high school curriculum courses, according to Ranford and her father, George. They each said her freshman year English class -- which she passed and put her on track to earn a D.C. Public Schools diploma -- was not certified as a core course because the NCAA told them it was not rigorous enough and lacked the proper coding within the NCAA's database of qualified courses. ... In nearly three dozen interviews, athletes, parents, coaches, guidance counselors and school administrators identified four primary areas of concern ... outdated graduation requirements; inadequate standardized-test preparation; a lack of understanding of NCAA requirements by guidance counselors; and loopholes in athletic eligibility standards that allow students to stay eligible for sports but ultimately come up short of NCAA standards."

DPW OVERTIME -- The Examiner's Alan Suderman follows up on overtime abuse at the Department of Public Works -- which, according to an CFO audit, "can't account for millions of dollars in overtime doled out on a 'trust'-based system that was rife with fraud," helping the agency overspend its budget by $900,000 in fiscal 2009. How'd they do it? "In one instance, the audit found that a staff assistant had been given her supervisor's password and had made changes to the time sheets of her sister, spouse and another employee 'who would not work shifts but received premium pay.'" DFW disputes the findings.

NEW PREZ AT CUA -- Catholic University has a new president, "John H. Garvey, a law school dean with a long record of scholarship on some of the most divisive issues in the Catholic Church," Daniel de Vise reports exclusively for the Post. "Garvey, dean of the Boston College Law School since 1999, will replace David M. O'Connell as president of Catholic, the national university of the Roman Catholic Church. ... The transition marks a significant shift for Catholic, which has spent the past dozen years rediscovering its spiritual identity under the guidance of an energetic cleric. Leadership now passes to a lay administrator ... [Garvey's] legal writings have sometimes gravitated toward controversial topics. In a 2003 law review piece, Garvey wrote the church had 'no credibility' in policing sexual misconduct by priests. In a 1998 article, he wrote that the church's opposition to the death penalty placed Catholic judges in a moral and legal dilemma. In a 1996 book, he said freedom of choice had been 'exploited, to good political effect,' by the 'pro-choice' abortion rights movement."


A smart letter on D.C. voting rights: "Since we're going to need to amend the Constitution in any event to get this right, I propose something else: an amendment giving the District one representative and one senator. The beauty of constitutional amendments is that we can be creative." (Post letters)

Cops are no-shows at juvenile justice hearing (D.C. Wire)

The National Organization for Marriage spent a lot of money to not beat Harry Thomas Jr. in a meaningless straw poll (PFAW)

Courtland Milloy distills the lessons of Little Benny: "He was down to earth, not a snob -- he didn't ride on a high horse looking down his nose at the common folk, an affliction that some say Fenty suffers from." (Post)

Vince Gray ain't doing so bad, Deborah Simmons discovers (Washington Times)

Half of the 18 Washington Hospital Center nurses fired for snowstorm absenteeism have regained their jobs (Post)

G'town Metropolitan blogger explains how the Hurt Home bodes ill for new city property surplussing laws (All Opinions Are Local)

Graham wants to allow liquor stores to open on July 4 -- a Sunday. Fine, Jim, as long as you lay off the emergency fireworks bans. (WRC-TV)

"In Defense of Michelle Rhee." Or not. (Education Notes Online)

Wilson High gets ready to move (WAMU-FM)

How to become a tour guide (Express)

Believe it or not: Howard Theater renovation will begin soon (Housing Complex)

UDC gets its TV station back (Informer)

A new president for the D.C. Bar (The Blog of Legal Times)

"When did it become societally acceptable to casually accuse people of having sex with their mothers?" (WRC-TV)

New DCRA system lets you handle your permit inspections by phone (WBJ)

Katharine Weymouth, Michelle Rhee, and Katherine Bradley -- together for breakfast! (Bisnow)

*** DESSERT ***

One fewer community newspaper on the street, and a lot fewer subordinate clauses: "Effective with next month's issue (to publish on the 2nd Friday, as always) The InTowner will be on-line exclusively. Although we will no longer be distributing the print edition starting in July, we will continue to publish in the PDF format as we have done for the past decade and which can easily be opened by clicking the link shown to the right of this announcement."

*** ON THE MENU ***

WASA unveils new brand -- quickie legislative meeting will finalize 2011 budget (at least until new revenue projections come out)

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 15, 2010; 9:29 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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I don't agree that the Post letter is "smart". Statehood doesn't require a constitutional amendment (though if it were achieved there would be the trivial matter of repealing the no-longer-needed 23rd Amendment), and the lack of equality for DC residents involves more than representation in Congress.

Having two senators and a representative would be nice, but it would do nothing about the problem of congressional interference in DC affairs. Unless DC becomes a state (or part of a state), Congress will continue to meddle in our laws whenever it's politically convenient, in a way that it cannot do for states.

Posted by: KCinDC1 | June 15, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Mayor Fenty did not get the Stein Clun endorsement last time either and it didn't seem to matter much.

Couldn't make the meeting but am dying to know if Peter Rosenstein reenacted his channeling Linda Blair routine from 06. That was a legend making moment in DC politics. As he spewed vitrol, vengeance and vomited bile with his head spinning 360s I would jumped put out of the window had one been handy.

Gawd, what is Katherine Bradley thinking, slumming with those two?

Posted by: SoCali | June 15, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to know if the people of DC are required to pay for the protection of the mayor and his family, AND the protection of the mayors personal property.

As mayor, he MAY be in jeapordy for this physical security, but I don't see how that equates to having his personal property protected. Did they steel his bike because he was the mayor? Or did they steel his bike because crime like this in the District is out of control and happens all the time?

Why should the taxpayers pay to protect HIS property while he stands by and lets the taxpayers property get stolen daily? And then forces them to pay more taxes to protect HIS property!

Welcome to real world DC Fenty. If you don't like your stuff stolen or defaced, you of all people have the abiltiy to do something about it. But do something that helps all of DC's residents - not just you.

Posted by: Davidsonville | June 15, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

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