DeMorning DeBonis: June 30, 2010
TODAY IS JUNE 30, 2010 -- 76 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
The D.C. government took another step Tuesday toward entering the hospital business, when the Council voted to set up a nonprofit corporation intended to take control of United Medical Center in Ward 8 at a foreclosure auction next week, as colleague Tim Craig writes. "Officials do not expect any bidders, and [Attorney General Peter Nickles] and council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) have drawn up plans to convert the long-troubled hospital into a quasi-city-managed facility until a new owner is found." But Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi is warning that the city would be taking on a fiscal burden of unknown proportions, and the current owners of the hospital aren't shy about pointing out what happened the last time the District ran a hospital. Jim Rappaport, chair of Specialty Hospitals of America, tells Tim, "The District of Columbia did such a great job with D.C. General, I am surprised at the process they are undertaking. They can't run it well because they haven't run it well. ... It's a very complicated process to run and manage a hospital."
AFTER THE JUMP -- Post editorial slams Fenty debate no-show -- Nickles says city could be out of special-ed litigation by year's end -- teacher contract, H Street wires pass council -- Fenty, Gray split business endorsements -- summer jobs as a campaign issue
*** MAIN COURSE ***
ALSO -- WBJ explains how the hospital would be run as a nonprofit: "The governing board of a city-owned hospital would include six members appointed by the mayor with council approval, three members appointed by the council, one appointed by D.C.'s CFO and one appointed by the hospital's largest union. Senior hospital administrators and the president of the D.C. Hospital Association would serve as nonvoting members."
'MAYOR NO-SHOW' -- Oof: Mayor Adrian Fenty "must think that D.C. residents are so dimwitted that they will buy any excuse for his not showing up to debate [Vincent Gray] on education. Or maybe he just doesn't care," the Post's editorial board writes today. "Either way, his latest misstep is another troubling example of the haughty approach to governing that is, in large measure, why Mr. Fenty finds himself in political peril. Unless Mr. Fenty wants his mayoralty defined by these increasingly silly side issues, he should start showing more respect to voters." That's not to say the piece does any favors for Gray: "By sitting out the event, Mr. Fenty missed an opportunity to spotlight what he's accomplished -- better test scores, improved operations, renovated schools -- since assuming control of the schools three years ago. He also allowed Mr. Gray to take center stage on education and, for instance, to go unchallenged about being an early champion of mayoral control when, in fact, he was one of the last council members to make up his mind."
MEANWHILE -- Fenty touted his administration's educational accomplishments, Nikita Stewart reports, in a late-afternoon press conference that "appeared at least in part an effort to make up for his absence at what was to be a debate between him and Gray. ... Fenty said he never confirmed that he would appear at Monday's event, sponsored by Young Education Professionals-DC, and he said he could not appear at every forum before the Sept. 14 vote. Fenty said he has attended nine out of 12 forums and added, 'We would love to make every event, but it's just not possible.' He said he had other obligations, which included attending a vigil for Steven D. Mahogany, 16, who was shot and killed Saturday in Northeast Washington. Fenty called him 'a young man who had an extremely promising future.' Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said he was at the vigil, too. ... Thomas said that the vigil began about 8 p.m. and that the mayor arrived closer to 8:30. The debate began at 7:30 p.m."
SPECIAL-ED PROGRESS -- Nikita writes: "The effort to highlight educational achievements extended beyond citing rising test scores and graduation rates, to the city's efforts to satisfy requirements of the consent decree that was part of the settlement of a special education class-action lawsuit known as Blackman v. District of Columbia. The requirements included reducing a backlog on a waiting list for services and increasing the number of cases resolved in a timely manner. In June 2007, 19.5 percent of cases were resolved on time. [Michelle Rhee] said the city reached the mandated 90 percent on Monday." Nickles predicted Tuesday that the city would exit litigation by year's end.
DONE DEAL ON TEACHER CONTRACT -- The D.C. Public Schools teacher contract is ratified. Colleague Bill Turque reports: "The D.C. Council officially closed the books Tuesday on more than 2 1/2 years of hard bargaining and political tumult by unanimously approving a contract with the Washington Teachers' Union that promises significantly higher pay for educators who demonstrate results in the classroom. ... The council vote came after just a few minutes of discussion. 'It's historic,' said council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large). 'We're going to pay our teachers more. They're going to be able to serve our classrooms better.' ... While there were no dissenting votes, some council members expressed concern about the failure of the contract to award raises to teachers who retired during the long negotiation. 'Frankly, the logic around this glaring inconsistency escapes me,' said [Gray]. Union and D.C. officials said they wanted to target money where it would have the most benefit for current teachers and students."
TOTALLY WIRED -- The council voted to allow overhead wires for streetcars on H Street NE. Kytja Weir reports in the Examiner: "The initial vote, which still requires the approval of permanent legislation on July 13, signals a key leap over the long unresolved hurdle of how the trolleys will run. It makes legal the overhead lines on H Street, according to D.C. officials, which had been banned under 120-plus-year-old federal laws. More urgently, it makes the city more competitive for a $25 million federal grant, which is expected to be announced in the next few weeks." But are the changes to 19th-century pre-home rule laws acceptable? "The city consulted with several legal experts and interpreted that the city had the "legislative and legal authority" to make the changes. ... But it may not be a done deal. The National Capital Planning Commission, which is the guardian of the federal laws, urged the council in a written statement Tuesday evening to 'expand its wireless zone to other important areas of the city.'" Also WBJ.
BIG BUSINESS SPLITS -- The Greater Washington Board of Trade endorses Fenty; the D.C. Chamber of Commerce goes with Gray. As I explained: "Fenty did not have the support of business interests in 2006, when he ran as a populist alternative to the establishment-backed Linda Cropp. But after his landslide all-precincts victory, Fenty has cultivated close ties with business leaders -- particularly in the real-estate development field and among the large regional employers well represented by the Board of Trade. Still, among some city business types heavily represented by the Chamber, Fenty never made amends and further antagonized relations by hiking fees on businesses, signing legislation mandating employers provide sick leave, and not fully supporting the University of the District of Columbia." Also WBJ and Housing Complex
MENDO'S MAGNETISM -- Jonetta Rose Barras wonders what the deal is with Phil Mendelson's "strange magnetism" -- a magnetism that is clearly not strong enough to snare Jonetta. "Mendelson is dedicated to the fine print -- even when none exists. But his weakness isn't that fixation. It's the fact that his political and public policy arcs are late 20th Century. Often he's an obstacle to change. As the chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, he has repeatedly blocked passage of anti-gang legislation. He has frequently sided with the police union as Chief Cathy Lanier has tried creative devices to suppress crime in the city. Mendelson has argued against efforts to change the law regarding the release of information on juveniles who have committed crimes though, under pressure, he reversed himself this week. Additionally, he has tussled with Fenty and his managers, attempting to discredit the administration. ... Will that portrait of legislator as obstructionist be enough for a [Clark Ray] victory, or will Democratic voters do as they did in 2006: Hold their noses and re-elect Mendelson?"
THE POLITICS OF SUMMER JOBS -- Will the summer jobs program become a political albatross for Hizzoner? The program is "providing plenty of political ammo" to Fenty opponents and "might become a key theme in the upcoming mayoral campaign," Alan Suderman writes in the Examiner. "This comes on the heels of two bad years for the program, and [Gray], said the problems go to the 'heart' of what's wrong with the mayor's leadership style. 'We know that there's been chronic problems associated with it, so there's every reason to think that people will be interested in the issue and there will be questions raised about it,' Gray told The Washington Examiner on Tuesday. ... [C]ritics, including at-large Councilman Michael Brown, said Fenty is more focused on numbers than the quality of jobs given." Meanwhile: NewsChannel 8 covers a second day of SYEP snafus, but Poverty & Policy blogger Kathyrn Baer writes, "I feel a whole lot more confident about the District's program than I did at this time last year."
ADULTS LESS FAT -- Good health news: "Only the District of Columbia decreased in adult obesity rates based on three-year rolling averages ending in 2008 and 2009," Examiner reports. Twenty-eight states increased and the rest remained statistically stable, according to a report released by the nonprofit Trust for America's Health. The District ranked 49th in the nation for adult obesity in 2007-2009, with only Colorado and Connecticut beating out the nation's capital for the smallest percentage of obese adults. Washington went from 22.3 percent obese in 2006-2008 to 21.5 percent obese in 2007-2009 -- a drop of 0.8 percent. ... But Washington's minors don't measure up to its adults. The District ranked ninth in the nation for youth obesity for the second year in a row. More than 20 percent of D.C.'s 10-to-17-year-olds are obese."
NOT GUILTY -- Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward are acquitted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in the 2006 killing of lawyer Robert Wone. Keith Alexander writes on A1: "Judge Lynn Leibovitz said she thinks that the three defendants made up a story about an intruder breaking in and stabbing the overnight guest at their Northwest Washington home. But in the end, prosecutors had not proved their case, she said, concluding a trial that captivated the region and much of the nation with its most salacious elements: money, class, sex and homicide. The key to the verdict [PDF] was the strong distinction between what she might feel in her gut and what was proved beyond a reasonable doubt in her courtroom, the judge said. ... When the judge delivered her verdict, Zaborsky cried, but there was no reaction from Ward or Price. Wone's widow, Katherine, who was in the gallery almost every day of the nearly five-week trial, also cried. She was quickly escorted from the courtroom." Now for the civil trial. Do read up over at WhoMurderedRobertWone.com, which crashed briefly yesterday after the verdict.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Southwest man, 25, charged in Florida Avenue market killings: "Several shopkeepers said that they were relieved by the arrest but that they hoped the police would keep up their increased presence. 'They're around here more now. ... They've stepped up now,' said Katrina Bonds, 36, who owns a store across from the Chihs' Lida's Wholesale." (Post)
Reservation 13 redevelopment is a go after council reprogramming allows move of federal mail facility (WBJ)
Gray, Eleanor Holmes Norton win TENAC endorsements (D.C. Wire)
A rundown of Gray's appearance before the Convention Center Community Association and the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association (The Other 35 Percent)
Gilbert Arenas is almost done with community service (City Desk)
Council looks at pool safety standards (WTTG-TV)
You'll be able to take a left turn from eastbound M Street NW onto northbound Wisconsin Avenue! (G'town Dish)
What D.C.'s new human trafficking law means (The Sexist)
DHCD to auction vacant homes to qualified buyers (DCmud)
Columbia Heights residents complain about construction (NC8)
Golden Triangle BID tries restaurant parking incentive (WBJ)
There will be SoberRides on Sunday! (AP via WaTimes)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Council hearings on: requirement for project labor agreements on city-assisted development; confirmation of Jesus Aguirre as parks director; confirmation of Laura Nuss as disability-services director; health insurance rate-hike limits
June 30, 2010; 11:16 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike , The District
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