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DeMorning DeBonis: June 17, 2010

TODAY IS JUNE 17, 2010 -- 89 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

Who says the unions hate Mayor Adrian Fenty? At least one loves him! That's Laborers International Local 657, which, Nikita Stewart writes at D.C. Wire, "represents about 3,000 construction workers" and backs Hizzoner because his "push for new recreation centers, schools and other facilities have kept bulldozers busy around the city." A union honcho tells Nikita that Fenty's "the only candidate in the race who is supporting jobs for the residents." Last time around the Service Employees International Union endorsed Fenty, but everyone else went for Linda Cropp. This time, Vincent Gray has the endorsement of virtually every public employee union, including the American Federation of Government Employees, the D.C. Firefighters and the Fraternal Order of Police.

AFTER THE JUMP -- McDonnell attempts Metro power move -- FBI probes Risk Management -- Cheh volunteers donations at hearing -- Wone trial could end today -- Webb to Fenty: Fix Mall traffic!

*** MAIN COURSE ***

BOB'S DOMINION -- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to replace two of his state's four seats on the Metro board with state-level appointees rather than local elected officials, and he's willing to derail a vast multi-jurisdictional capital funding package to get his way. Lisa Rein and Anita Kumar report on B1: "The governor's transportation chief said McDonnell wants more accountability for an investment that would cover more than half of Virginia's contribution to Metro. ... 'We are now the largest contributor from this side of the Potomac, and we don't have a seat at the table,' said Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton. ... If Virginia reneges on the pledge to match the $150 million from the federal government, the repercussions would be immediate, Metro officials said: An $886 million contract for 428 rail cars that the federal program will fund will be in jeopardy." Cue shocked reactions from local officials, all Democrats. Jim Graham calls it "very serious mischief" and a "breakdown of regional cooperation, which has been the essential element of Metro." Says recent federal appointee Mortimer L. Downey: "We don't want to be talking about shuffling the deck chairs while the Titanic is sinking."

FBI PROBES AGENCY -- Bill Myers has more in Examiner on what's going on in the Office of Risk Management. "Whistleblowers have told federal investigators that the director of D.C.'s troubled Risk Management agency gave lucrative contracts to her friends. ... The FBI has been asking questions about the Office of Risk Management for months in a wide-ranging but still embryonic probe. Witnesses have told authorities that contracts for services ranging from health insurance to private investigations were handed off to companies with ties to Risk Management Director Kelly Valentine, sources familiar with the investigation told The Examiner. ... The multipronged investigations aren't the only issues at risk management. Multiple outside contractors claim that they haven't been paid by the city for months and the bills are piling up. ... Valentine has in turn accused some of the vendors of overbilling the city."

OPEN GOVERNMENT -- Good on Mary Cheh: She puts her transparency where her mouth is, disclosing in open session that she'd taken campaign contributions from developers whose deals her committee is charged with approving. Writes Michael Neibauer in WBJ: "She didn't have to do it. It's not like the council has any role in choosing the development partners -- that's purely an executive function. And it's not like she's facing a tough primary challenge as she bids for a second term -- she's running unopposed. 'I have undertaken a personal responsibility, not required, but still I just decided that I'm going to do this for whatever it's worth,' said Cheh." She disclosed donations from principals of EastBanc and Jarvis; fellow committee chair Kwame Brown made no such disclosure. This follows an instance where Cheh was criticized by Jonathan O'Connell earlier this year for the appearance of a conflict.

SYEP IS COMING -- It's less than two weeks till the summer jobs kickoff, and Council member Michael Brown is promising a tight leash on the program, WUSA-TV reports: "The concerns center around registration, certification, pay dates and work assignments. ... 'It's about how to shake hands appropriately, how to raise your self-esteem, how to understand office etiquette, getting to work on time, and that's part of the foundation we are trying to build with our young people with this program. And when you are dealing with 21,000 people, that's hard to do, that's why tighter oversight is needed,' said [Brown]. The founder of the Summer Youth Employment Program. Councilmember Marion Barry, also expressed his disappointment towards the lack of leadership. 'I think we need to get back to quality programming. We can be proud of it, and young people can have meaningful work,' Barry told 9 NEWS NOW."

CAB HEARING -- Taxi drivers flooded the D.C. Taxicab Commission offices Wednesday morning for a hearing on a rate adjustment. Nikita was on the scene in Anacostia, where "[s]ome taxi drivers and a reporter (yours, truly) were stuck in a hallway. 'There are 6,000 taxi drivers in the District. There are 38 seats,' said Leroy Armes, 20-year veteran behind the wheel. 'What does that tell you?' ... Some taxi drivers and this reporter were allowed to enter the small hearing room where the commission is listening to testimony about whether the city's current rate structure is fair and equitable." An economist hired by drivers' groups testified that D.C.'s rates are the lowest in the region.

LEO THE LION -- The Missionary Baptist Ministers Conference held a mayoral forum on Tuesday, and the Afro's Dorothy Rowley isn't afraid to pick a winner: "What happens when a prominent critic of the District's governing body takes on two of its lead decision makers? He comes out a clear winner - at least, in the case of this week's mayoral forum held at Trinidad Baptist Church in Northeast Washington. Small business owner and former TV reporter Leo Alexander outweighed Mayor Adrian Fenty and City Council Chairman Vincent Gray in his responses to more than one dozen questions posed at the trio in preparation for this fall's election. ... A couple of times, Gray and Fenty either lacked understanding of the issue or hedged on [the moderator]'s inquiries. However, those instances only provided more fervor for Alexander."

CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE -- Could the mayoral race be delaying an early-childhood education center in Ward 7? That's the scuttlebutt prompting this Bill Turque item: "The Buffett Early Childhood Fund announced on March 23 that it hoped to break ground this summer on land adjacent to Neval Thomas Elementary School. All that remained was agreement on a land lease from the District, which [Fenty] was expected to send to the D.C. Council for approval within two weeks. But in the nearly three months since, that lease has yet to make its way from the mayor's office to Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray. The Gray camp privately attributes the slow walk to primary politics, with Fenty loathe to facilitate anything that will make his opponent look good." The Buffett people say that complex land transactions are behind the delay, and that an agreement is expected soon.

JUKING THE STATS? --Here's some food for thought: The theft of two mountain bikes from Fenty's garage has yet to show up in online statistics. So what good are the statistics? "The Web site, crimemap.dc.gov, allows anyone to see what crimes have been committed in their neighborhoods by typing in an address," Nikita reports at D.C. Wire. The mayor's address comes up empty when looking at the past 30 days when the theft occurred. Fenty and Attorney General Peter Nickles said they did not know why it was not listed. ... Kris Baumann, chairman of the local Fraternal Order of Police, has long argued that the police department is not accurately recording crimes. The absence of the theft at the mayor's home 'calls into the question the accuracy of the crime reports we're giving to residents,' Baumann said."

'AIN'T NO CORRUPTION IN ME' -- Graham addresses campaign-trail accusations highlighting his complex relationship with a Ward 1 developer. "In 2006, Graham investigated the questionable dealings of a particular developer, Perseus Realty, only to accept campaign donations from the very same developer years later," Rend Smith writes at City Desk, adding that Graham also sought a tax abatement for Perseus. "That particular narrative could frustrate Graham, who's still seeking to get out from beneath the shadow cast over his office by the arrest of his former chief of staff, Ted Loza, on bribery charges. But the incumbent council member isn't shrinking from the insinuation. 'There ain't no corruption in me,' Graham tells City Desk. 'I'm very sorry about what happened to one of my staff members, but I don't do that stuff.' ... 'Am I happy with this? No,' Graham tells City Desk. 'Am I a pragmatist? I have to be.' Graham says he would prefer it if corporations weren't allowed to donate. Still, City Desk notices from recent records that Graham hasn't sent back any of the money."

EARLY EXIT? -- The Robert Wone conspiracy trial could come to an early end today, Keith Alexander reports from Moultrie. Now that the prosecution has rested "after presenting more than 30 witnesses and hundreds of exhibits over nearly four weeks," Judge Lynn Leibovitz could dismiss charges. "As soon as Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner, head of the homicide unit, was done presenting that case Wednesday, lawyers for the three defendants said that Kirschner hadn't proved anything. ... Defense lawyers argued to [Leibovitz] on Wednesday that without proof that the knife was planted, the prosecution does not have a case, and they called for Leibovitz to dismiss the charges. 'If the knife was not planted, there's nothing left,' said Robert J. Spagnoletti, one of the half-dozen criminal defense lawyers hired by the men. ... Leibovitz said she will issue her ruling about dismissing the case Thursday. She could decide to dismiss all, some or none of the charges and order the defense to move forward."

SENATORIAL COURTESY -- Sen. Jim Webb tells Fenty, NPS to fix the Mall traffic already, durnit! "While it is clearly in our mutual interest to promote local tourism and an appreciation for the National Capital Region, the severe traffic congestion associated with these sites must be significantly reduced," he writes. "Particularly during the springtime, the increased presence of school and tour buses in the Mall area often brings traffic to a halt, reducing both the quality of life for area commuters and our visitors' experience. It is not unusual for my constituents to spend more than one hour trying to pass through the Mall area on a spring afternoon." As I point out, it's not like the city's unaware of the problem.

*** SMALL PLATES ***

Not just Maryland: D.C.'s doing a War of 1812 commemorative license plate, too (D.C. Art News)

One word: contraflow (GGW)

Concerns on local-hiring preference programs prompt triple-hearing medley (WBJ)

Ballou Senior High offers scholarships funded by $600,000 anonymous donation (WTTG-TV)

Live from Digital Capital Week (Transport Gooru)

Slug crackdown on 14th Street! (WTOP)

Council moves to allow one-member Rental Housing Commission (Housing Complex)

Pro-streetcar blogger: "Get to know Clark Ray. There's a lot to like about the campaign he is running and a lot to like about a DC Council that doesn't have Phil Mendelson on it criticizing our streetcars..." (H Street Great Street)

Jim Graham, grocery bagger (DCist)

Eleanor Holmes Norton puts contractors on notice: Keep hiring Ward 8'ers for St. E's work, or else (Housing Complex)

Two convicted of bias-related crimes (Metro Weekly)

Much more from last week's Ward 3 mayoral candidates forum (Informer)

Booze board votes to lift Georgetown liquor-license moratorium (City Desk)

Everything you need to know about the elected-AG proposal, including the likely race of the electee (Informer)

Obama's pick to overhaul minerals service recently served as MPD court overseer (Main Justice)

Dope deal gone bad sparked shooting near 9:30 Club (Post)

In defense of hating guns (Post letter)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Don Peebles appears on Jonetta Rose Barras' show on WPFW-FM (89.3) at 11 a.m., promising "to discuss his plans for the 2010 mayoral election and the state of the District.".

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 17, 2010; 9:51 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Circulator changes might address Webb's Mall traffic concerns
Next: Don Peebles: Not a mayoral candidate 'at this point right now'

Comments

Senator Webb ignores the terrible traffic effect of the feds' 1996 decision to close E Street and Pennsylvania Ave to vehicles. Even before the birth of the homeland security monster, the feds decided a Mall morass was worth it, because the city really needs more barricades. It sure would be nice if some federal policymaker recognized all this...

Posted by: hungrypug | June 17, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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