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DeMorning DeBonis: June 16, 2010

TODAY IS JUNE 16, 2010 -- 90 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

Anywhere from $3 million to $6 million in life insurance premiums paid by city employees has gone missing, Attorney General Peter Nickles announced Tuesday, and he's asked the city inspector general to investigate. Nikita Stewart writes: "A preliminary probe indicates that premiums from 1,400 city workers were not paid by the Office of Risk Management for about seven years. ... Asked about the funds' whereabouts, Nickles said he didn't know and that it was up to the inspector general to determine how the funds were dispensed. 'I have no information that the money was used for untoward purposes,' said Nickles." But, as the the Examiner reports, Nickles told the IG in a letter that there is suspicion of "misappropriation, employee conduct, and fraud." The good news? No one's life insurance claims have been denied. But now a "cash-strapped city will have to find funds to pay the millions owed in premiums." And it's another election-year setback for Mayor Adrian Fenty.

AFTER THE JUMP -- what the Stein Club endorsement means -- hello "D.C. Water" -- council passes final budget -- DCPS ends Shaw experiment -- Top Chef D.C. tonight!

*** MAIN COURSE ***

STEIN CLUB AFTERMATH -- What did the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club's endorsement of Vincent Gray say about the state of the Fenty campaign? Start with his fact: Gray "exceed[ed] a required vote threshold of 60 percent by just three votes" to win the backing of the prominent organization of gay and lesbian Democrats, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports for the Blade. Activist Bob Summersgill tells Lou that he was "surprised that the Fenty campaign did not arrange for more supporters to join the club and vote for him. 'The Stein endorsement is largely an issue of campaign organizational strength,' Summersgill said. ... 'It seemed like the Fenty campaign wasn't really trying,' he said." Here's why Fenty might not worry too much: "[M]any of the same club members who voted Monday for a Gray endorsement voted four years ago to endorse then City Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp over Fenty in the mayor's race." Colleague Tim Craig posted an exhaustive rundown of the Stein Club debate at D.C. Wire, noting that "Fenty's heavy reliance on notes and briefing books during candidates forums appeared to undermine his efforts. ...Fenty, appearing uncertain of his views and his record, spent much of the debate reading from various sheets of paper supplied by his staff. Although Gray also had a briefing book nearby, he rarely referred to it. In several recent candidates forums, Fenty has referred to written notes while he debated his opponent, even reading word for word from talking points as he attacks Gray's record." So will he become known as Adrian "Cheat Sheet" Fenty?

PFOX APOLOGY -- More from Lou: "On the [Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays] issue, Fenty gave his most detailed explanation to date as to why his office presented a ceremonial resolution to a group that says sexual orientation can be changed. 'The minute that this happened, when we found out that we had issued this ceremonial proclamation to PFOX, I personally said that my administration should not have done that, that it is my fault that it happened, and my apologies went out to each and every person in the city whom we had offended,' Fenty said. 'The fact of the matter is that when you have a lot of people working for you, sometimes mistakes happen ... The fact of the matter also is that as mayor of the District of Columbia, as a person who you elected, this should not have happened. I personally, professionally apologize to each and every person in this room, to each and every person in this city. ... You have my assurance that I will work extremely hard to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.'"

THE NEW D.C. WATER -- I wrote about the big name change: "The utility -- which has operated as the Water and Sewer Authority, or WASA, since 1996 -- will now be known as 'D.C. Water.' A new logo, consisting of a lowercase 'dc' paired with a blue water drop, was unveiled to the media and public officials outside the agency's Southwest Washington headquarters. The image-retooling comes less than a year into the tenure of General Manager George S. Hawkins, who ... has been credited by board members, public officials and the utility's employee union with refreshing a hidebound culture. But he continues to face skepticism from the public and from Congress over the agency's performance after the 2004 revelation that tap water in many District homes far exceeded the federal limit for lead contamination. ... Hawkins says the rebranding -- which involves dozens of exterior signs, a fleet of hundreds of vehicles and the uniforms of scores of employees -- should be complete within six months. The cost is estimated at $160,000." WAMU-FM also covers the rebranding and Tuesday's congressional hearing on the lead crisis. WRC-TV and DCist, too. And, hey look, a video:

THIRD DAY STORY -- The cop on duty when mountain bikes were stolen from Fenty's garage has been "informed by superiors that he is the target of an internal investigation," Bill Myers reports in the Examiner. "Officer Wilson Liriano was told that he's facing discipline for negligence in a late Tuesday afternoon meeting at police headquarters, his union leader, Kris Baumann, said. ... Liriano saw the thieves on a closed-circuit television and alerted his superiors, but was unable to catch the thieves. On Monday, Fenty's spokeswoman issued a statement that Liriano 'followed proper protocol' in the incident. But the questioning of Liriano has re-stoked the controversy."

BYE BYE BUDGET -- The city budget gains final approval with few changes, Ann Marimow reports at D.C. Wire. But "members warned that the city's finances could soon worsen if revenue projections do not keep pace with spending," forcing the council to revisit the budget plan. Jack Evans again voted against final passage, saying that "he could not back a budget that dips into the city's savings account, below the mark that he said the Fenty administration promised the bond-rating agencies. ... 'I can't vote for something that takes us in a very dangerous direction,' Evans said." Michael Neibauer runs down the changes at WBJ: "Among its many provisions, the BSA hikes a raft of fees for all manner of services, reestablishes a vacant property tax of $5 per $100 of assessed value, implements a host of tax exemptions, opens the door to overhead streetcar wires on H Street NE and elsewhere, establishes new fees for intercity bus loading and unloading, assesses a 6 percent sales tax on soft drinks, carbonated beverages and medical marijuana, and allows the D.C. Department of Transportation to sell advertising on parking meters and meter receipts."

OTHER COUNCIL BUSINESS -- The council moved to allow liquor stores to open on July 4, a Sunday, "but not without some protest from members, including Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), who said, 'the Jack Daniels and the firecrackers - that's not a good mix.'" Alexander, Tommy Wells, and Kwame Brown voted against the measure. Also: A package of youth services reforms won initial approval, but "an amendment to break through barriers created by strict confidentiality laws" was tabled.

LIFE AFTER BETTS -- A sad development in the wake of DCPS principal Brian Betts' murder: The students who convinced Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to allow them to continue in the ninth and 10th grades at Betts' Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson will be moving to other schools, Bill Turque reports at D.C. School Insider. "Rhee spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said in a statement Tuesday that ... Rhee has personally informed students and staff, and officials are meeting with parents this evening. ... Shaw officially feeds into Cardozo High School, but Calloway said the District will offer individual placement counseling and reopen the application process for the city's selective high schools to accommodate the students. 'We understand that Shaw students have had the toughest of all years,' Calloway said."

TAKING AIM AT BAD PARENTS -- Is youth violence a public health issue? Jonetta Rose Barras lauds David Catania in her Examiner column for treating it as such. "[I]n the past five years, the at-large legislator has been the prime force in government pushing for more mental health services in D.C. Public Schools. He is credited with getting full-time or part-time mental health professionals in 56 schools. 'But the utilization and penetration has been appalling,' said Catania. ... That's why he appointed last week the law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP as special counsel to his committee to examine best practices for addressing chronic youth and adolescent violence. The lawyers are expected to present a report next month and make proposals that could include juvenile justice reforms, strategies for increased parental accountability, and targeted mental health intervention. Not one to nibble around the edges, Catania has some radical ideas in mind. Get ready for the controversy." Some ideas include "garnishing welfare checks of [negligent] parents or guardians" or even bringing criminal charges against parents.


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Fliers, ads and signs asking voters to "slap" Fenty are a big mystery. The Gray camp calls them "tacky" and "reprehensible." (D.C. Wire)

Clark Ray wins the endorsement of the Rev. Willie Wilson, ex-mayor candidate and Union Temple Baptist minister (press advisory)

Testimony at Robert Wone trial turns to defendant's brother. A ruling could come today. (Post, WTTG-TV)

Fenty + bikes = something (WashCycle)

Numbers are in: More than 21,000 have signed up for summer jobs. But they won't get paid for a month. (WUSA-TV)

Classic WaTimes lede: "It's a mayoral election year in Washington, and special-interest groups are laying out their agendas. The gay community is no exception." (Washington Times)

"In the nest of his geographic base," Examiner blogger, Raven barkeep, and all-around awesome dude John Vaught LeBeaume looks at Fenty support (Examiner)

Why tree grates can be great (GGW)

Dozens of cats found in woman's Northwest rowhouse (WRC-TV)

Michelle Rhee, copy-edited (Accountable Talk)

How DCPS is recruiting new students (WAMU-FM)

Schools slated for NCLB changes react (NC8)

Perma-puddle! (Daily Gripe)

Valerie Santos, aka a "Filipino-American woman who holds one of the toughest jobs in Washington D.C.," turns heads at gala (ABS-CBN)

Cheh finds $979,000 to fix up dilapidated Tenleytown school (Housing Complex)

D.C. Center finds space on U Street (Blade)

Murder victim ID'd as Washington National Opera singer (WTTG-TV)

Get yer vacant city property! WBJ)

Tim Craig talks mayoral race (WTTG-TV)

Too many fired from Cleveland Park library? (City Desk)

Why Bell Multicultural High School has no business being on a list of "America's Best High Schools" (DCist


*** DESSERT ***

Apple Store. Comes to Georgetown. Friday.

Oh, and Top Chef D.C. starts tonight! (Don't worry, folks -- I won't get too Ezra Klein on you.)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Council housing committee digs into summer jobs program -- Taxicab Commission holds hearing on meter rates -- elections board meets.

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 16, 2010; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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