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Morning Mike: June 2, 2010


Just not enough to get you to the polls in November, District voter? Well, the D.C. Council sweetened the deal yesterday. You'll get to vote on whether the city ought to start electing its attorney general. Colleague Tim Craig reports today that the measure, the 'first citywide referendum since 2002,' was placed onto the general-election ballot by a council 'skeptical that the city's attorneys general are viewed as being independent of the mayor' -- skeptical, in fact, of one attorney general in particular. But don't expect to see the Peter Nickles' name on ballots this fall: If indeed an elected AG gets approved -- as a Post poll suggests that it would -- the first election wouldn't be until 2014. Nickles tells Tim that 'he will not oppose the council's effort to put the issue on the ballot. But he questioned whether the council should have also sought to broaden the powers of the attorney general.' Why not toss local criminal prosecuting authority in there, too?

AFTER THE JUMP -- Council moves to allow streetcar wires on H Street -- Post ed board assesses Cathy Lanier -- Jonetta tells charter advocates to quit whining about money -- Philly prosecutors take over Trinidad shooting probe -- teacher contract ratification results expected today.


TOTALLY WIRED -- Twelve council members co-introduced a Tommy Wells-penned bill that would permit overhead wires for streetcars on H Street NE -- via a legal maneuver that repeals federal laws governing such wires only to set them up in D.C. law. Only Phil Mendelson refrained. Michael Neibauer writes in WBJ: 'The Wells bill opens the door to future overhead streetcar wires, after the mayor develops a citywide plan, subject to council approval, "for the use of aerial wires for the additional streetcar lines and routes, with special attention paid to the view corridors of the federal monumental core."...Wells contends that repealing federal law is within the council's right, citing "legal analysis by several distinguished attorneys," including the D.C. Office of the Attorney General.' (That right there is probably why Mendo didn't co-introduce.) Meanwhile, WJLA-TV covers the ongoing construction on H Street, where 'businesses say they've been under siege.'

IN OTHER LEGISLATIVE MEETING NEWS -- Council members delayed action on the mayoral nomination of developer Stanley Wall to the Zoning Commission. Mendelson is leading the charge against Wall, 'citing concern about the nominee's background, his work relationship with the District government and growing council support for the person Wall is slated to replace,' Neibauer reports in WBJ. Mendo's already cashiered one zoning appointee (Geoff Griffis); can he claim another? -- Bars will be permitted to open as early as 7 a.m. to show World Cup soccer games live from South Africa, thanks to Jim Graham, but that doesn't mean they can start serving booze earlier. The current restriction (8 a.m. or later) stands. (also WBJ) -- Legislation mandating sidewalk construction, with few exceptions, when DDOT undertakes a street reconstruction project passes easily; only Muriel Bowser opposed (Housing Complex, GGW) -- Wells-proposed emergency summer curfew extension is shot down after a fiery debate. Remember the crime bill last summer? Yeah, it was a lot like that. (Examiner)

CHIEF CONCERNS -- In 'the first in a series of editorials examining the records of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray,' the Post's editorial board sizes up Fenty's once-controversial choice of Cathy Lanier for police chief -- a decision 'emblematic of Mr. Fenty's approach to governing and is a fitting start for an examination of his time in office.' In the pick, the editorialists see proof positive that the oft-maligned Fenty style gets real results: 'He favors action over dialogue, results over process. He's not afraid to take risks, sticks by the people he trusts and rarely looks back. And he thinks there are limits to consultation and collaboration. "Do you really think Cathy Lanier would be police chief today if he had put it up for a vote?" is how one of his advisers put it. This is the conundrum facing Washington voters, who undoubtedly welcome the drop in crime Mr. Fenty has overseen, but may perceive arrogance and aloofness in the way he has overseen it.' But a caveat: At FEMS, 'reforms in updating a culture that values firefighting over emergency care have stalled. Moreover, out-of-control spending and the failure to suppress the fire that destroyed the mansion of Peggy Cooper Cafritz raised questions about the department's management.'

QUIT YER WHININ' -- Jonetta Rose Barras, in her Examiner column, takes aim at the 'incessant complaining' of charter schools upset at inequities in funding vis-a-vis DCPS schools -- manifested lately in 'Fair Funding for DC Kids' yard signs. She writes: 'The whining has become annoying -- even for charter school fans like me....Instead of droning, charter schools might join forces to collectively and creatively address their additional funding needs. Or, they can abandon the luxury of independence and join the DCPS.'

GRAY NUMBERS -- Remember all those phone calls the Vince Gray campaign made a couple of weeks ago? They were voter ID calls, yes, but at least one Gray partisan decided to get a quick publicity hit by sharing the numbers with my colleague Tim Craig: Of about 18,500 households contacted, just under 10K picked up, with '[a]bout 5,000 respondents said they were voting for Fenty or Gray, while the other half stated they were undecided....Among respondents who have already made up their minds, Gray leads Fenty by a margin of 57.8 percent to 42.2 percent.' Don't read too much into the numbers, Gray camp warns.

MACHEN BOWS -- Local prosecutors have punted the investigation of the controversial Park Police shooting of 25-year-old Trey Joyner to the Philadelphia U.S. attorney's office, Bill Myers reports in the Examiner. He notes that U.S. Attorney Ron Machen 'is under tremendous pressure with the Joyner case' -- from his patron Eleanor Holmes Norton, among others. Besides the USAO probe of the shooting, DOJ's civil rights division also continues to investigate.

FENTY FEE HIKES -- Not quite sure whether hiking a few fees counts as a tax hike? You know, the kind to be counted against a certain candidate's no-new-taxes pledge? No such doubt exists in the mind of the Washington Times' Deborah Simmons, who writes that Fenty 'again reneged on his no-tax-increase pledge and implemented "emergency" executive orders that increase scores of fees for business permits and traffic fines.' (The move was first noted last week by WBJ's Neibauer.) Simmons adds these digs: 'The mayor, who is a cyclist, did not include bicycle infractions in his executive order; only motorists are listed in the traffic infractions sections' and 'One effect is certain....The new sugary-beverage tax will hit the wallet of the athletic Mr. Fenty, who favors vitamin water.' Meanwhile, WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson tools through Adams Morgan tossing paper on the street and interviewing AAA's John Townsend, who tells him, 'This turns D.C. law enforcement into...uh, Buford T. Justice.' Nothing like a sweet Smokey and the Bandit reference to help make your point.

RT3 MK2 -- The District gives Race to the Top another go, taking another shot at a piece of $3.2B in federal funds, Post colleague Nick Anderson reports. Not a whole lot of deets on what's different in the revised proposal. But do know: 'For the District, as much as $75 million is at stake. Its bid reflects the policies of Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and the city's charter-school leaders.'

RHEE ON THE ROAD -- Speaking of Rhee: She shared some sage advice with Sacramento last week: 'When you are a superintendent and you want to do bold things that might not be popular, you have to have some political capital,' she said, according to the Sacramento Press. Rhee also noted that in D.C., '[t]he business community were the ones who were my strongest supporters....They came out and said: This is how we run our businesses. We would never run an organization in a way that you were just ... getting rid of people based on how many years they've been there instead of looking at what they produced for the organization.'

WONE CASE LATEST -- The name Michael Price emerges in open court. That's the brother of conspiracy suspect Joseph Price who prosecutors, as Maria Glod reports for the Post, 'said..."may have been" the killer. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner also said the government does not have enough evidence to charge the brother -- or anyone else -- with the fatal stabbing of Robert Wone. "I can't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt," Kirschner said in D.C. Superior Court.'

COLD CASE -- The Scripps Howard News Service revisits the unsolved murder of Greg Shipe, murdered in broad daylight on a Mount Pleasant street in 2005. Reporter Isaac Wolf visits Shipe's parents in Waynesburg, Pa. 'They've lost hope that their son's killer will be brought to justice. There's no way to make sense of it, they say. There's no one to get answers from. "It's like having a disease, a debilitating disease like diabetes," says [mother] Jan Shipe, describing the pain of losing Greg. "You hate that you have it. You're mad that you have it. You don't want it. But you've got it. And you have to deal with it."...[Father] Bruce Shipe can't help but think about the killer's intentions. "You wonder. The police said it was a botched robbery. It could've been gang bangers saying, 'I get a white kid and I get stripes or whatever.' It could be anything," he said. "It's just being at the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. You can't make sense of it."'


Uh-oh, is it this bad for Hizzoner? He can't even count on the Republican gossip columnist vote anymore? (Twitter)

Yesterday marked the centennial of the Heights of Buildings Act of 1910. In commemoration: A well-reasoned case for easing height limits (DCmud)

D.C. Public Library lays off 40 to close $1M budget gap (D.C. Wire)

Cab drivers: Still hate Fenty! (WRC-TV, Post)

Sales tax on medical marijuana will raise $400K over four years -- but only $26K in fiscal 2011, per CFO figures (Examiner)

DCPS social worker: 'We're ending a school year in which our students have been inundated with standardized tests like never before....I don't think most people outside of DCPS are aware of how much time is devoted to preparing for and administering all of these standardized tests and assessments. As a community, we are not talking about the stress this puts on individual schools, teachers and, most importantly, our students.' (D.C. Schools Insider)

Arlingtonian reads about the commuter-tax-that-isn't. Response: 'I have been wrong for many years in thinking that "Taxation Without Representation" on D.C. license plates was a protest on the part of the District when in reality it is simply a slogan in support of a commuter tax.' (Post letter)

DCPL's Ginnie Cooper on the possible 'end of reading' -- which is 'a real conversation starter with library people!' (YouTube)

The Library of Congress celebrates LGBT Pride month with David Catania. (LoC press release)

'Bike Lanes Open on America's Main Street'? Not so fast there, Voice of America. (VOA)

ATF busts black-market fireworks dealer, who kept 15 cases of explosives in his Deanwood apartment (Examiner)

Did you know: Metro holds capital budget hearings, too! (Examiner)

Damn those OCF proceedings -- the D.C. Dems' Kennedys-King Dinner is mere days away (DCDSC press release)

Apply for my old job! Silkiness a plus. (FishbowlDC)

*** TODAY'S MENU ***

Ratification voting on the D.C. Public Schools teacher contract is now closed, and the count begins this morning. Results are expected by late afternoon -- check here and at D.C. Schools Insider for updates. Also: Bowser committee to take up permanent pawn shop restrictions; Fenty cuts ribbon on Waterfront Station development; DC for Democracy hosts meet-and-greet tonight for Dem primary candidates.

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 2, 2010; 9:29 AM ET
Categories:  The District  
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Next: Breaking: DCPS teachers ratify contract


I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are back. There has been a void in DC political coverage since you stopped doing LL daily. This is great. Nice picture too!

Posted by: Urbanette | June 2, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: jeffyrose | June 4, 2010 1:23 AM | Report abuse

glad to have you (and this roundup) back, sir!

Posted by: IMGoph | June 7, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

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