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DeMorning DeBonis: July 20, 2010

TODAY IS JULY 20, 2010 -- 56 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

How's this for an election-year personnel move: Marc Schindler is out as director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, replaced by Robert Hildum -- heretofore a top deputy to Peter Nickles in the attorney general's shop. It's a drastic change at the top of the city's controversy-plagued juvenile justice agency. Hildum, as Henri Cauvin reports in the Post, "has been the city's top juvenile prosecutor and is familiar to senior officials at [DYRS]. But his appointment took many people inside and outside DYRS by surprise and raised fears among some advocates that juvenile justice reform in the District could be set back" -- and more to the point, brought more solidly within Nickles' sphere. Examiner's Freeman Klopott rightly interprets the move as still more evidence of a Nicklescentric governance model: "Neither [Schindler], nor his predecessor Vincent Schiraldi, reported to Nickles as other agency heads do, one source said. By placing Hildum at the top of DYRS, Fenty has added another agency to Nickles' zone of influence." The shakeup goes deep: Top aides David Brown and David Muhammad also resigned from DYRS, "citing uncertainty about its future," Klopott reports.

AFTER THE JUMP -- Council reacts to Schindler's ouster -- more Fenty ads -- plans for Virginia Avenue SE building unveiled -- Fenty takes aim at Gray education plan -- Carlos Allen's petitions challenged

*** MAIN COURSE ***

COUNCIL REAX -- Phil Mendelson tells Henri that the prospect of further turnover "hurts the agency," noting that a court monitor recently lauded progress in educational programs. "At a time when the agency has been commended for enormous improvement, this doesn't make a lot of sense," he said. And Tommy Wells says: "Unless there's some new information that I'm not aware of, I'm really surprised by it and I think it represents a step backwards." He went further in speaking to Klopott: "I view the leadership change as a step backwards. ... The mayor has lost the political will to reform the agency."

BACKGROUND -- More from Henri: "Nickles, who was the lead lawyer in a class-action suit over the city's juvenile justice system before joining the Fenty administration, said Hildum is committed to maintaining and accelerating the reform efforts of the past several years. 'As the lead lawyer for the advocates for many, many, many years, I would never support a nominee who would not further the efforts that I spent so many years promoting,' Nickles said. ... Schindler, who was chief of staff at DYRS under then-director Vincent N. Schiraldi, had appeared well positioned to win the permanent appointment from Fenty. Schindler, a lawyer and longtime juvenile justice advocate, was expected to ease some of the tensions that had built at DYRS during Schiraldi's effort to remake the agency. But within a few months of taking over from Schiraldi, Schindler was confronting the South Capitol shooting, which had been erroneously linked to a 14-year-old who had walked away from a DYRS group home, and other crimes that involved defendants with DYRS histories. In a matter of weeks, a nomination that had seemed a foregone conclusion was an open question. D.C. Council members have been jockeying for legislative solutions -- and political cover. And some critics have been demanding that Schindler be fired." Also WUSA-TV.

PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS -- More Fenty ads! They follow the same format as the first three, but debunk a whole new series of "some people say" statements about Hizzoner. For one: "Some people say Adrian Fenty doesn't play well with others," says Ward 2 council member Jack Evans in one spot. But Fenty "can work with others and get results," such as the newly reconstructed School Without Walls. Nikita Stewart notes some irony in the ad: "'Some people' would include Evans. In November, he told The Washington Post that Fenty has always tended to 'operate alone.'" And let's not forget: "In 2006, when Fenty successfully ran against then-Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, who was endorsed by Evans, the Ward 2 council member made a number of unflattering statements about Fenty. ... But Evans, the council's longest-serving member, began changing his tune after Fenty was elected. He has become an ally of the mayor on a council where Fenty has few supporters and where his chief challenger, Chairman Vincent C. Gray, has developed a reputation as a collaborator." Check out all the new spots at the fentyrelect YouTube channel

RENT TO OWN -- The city's $400 million albatross by the Southeast expressway, aka 225 Virginia Avenue SE, is finally set to be put to productive use, Liz Essley reports in Examiner. "The vacant building near Nationals Park ... will get a makeover complete with a green roof, large windows and an art gallery, according to D.C. Department of Real Estate Services Director Robin-Eve Jasper. ... After the $86 million makeover, the building will be home to three District agencies -- the Child and Family Services Agency, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Windows will be a major change" for the former Washington Star printing plant, Essley writes. Ribbon-cutting is set for spring 2012. Also DCmud.

FISCAL RECTITUDE -- Harry Jaffe, in his Examiner column, slaps city legislators for their free-spending ways: "[H]ere's what our legislators and mayor did for us when they were actually in session during the past four years: They spent our savings to the nub and borrowed more money that will mortgage us far into the future." He goes on to cite a dwindling fund balance, innumerable debt refinancings, and the ever-rising cost of government as reason for panic. And, via CFO Nat Gandhi, he passes on the latest message from Wall Street: "This time there was much finger wagging by the MBA's who pass judgment on D.C.'s fiscal well-being. Why, they asked, was the city planning to sink $24 million into United Medical Center, suddenly a public hospital owned by D.C.? Gandhi is generating a letter about his Wall Street visit to the mayor and the council. The good news is D.C. gets to keep its gold-plated rating for now; the bad news is that if our politicians add to the debt and keep dipping into the savings account, the ratings will go south and the cost of borrowing will go north and add millions more to the cost of government."

YOU WANT COMPREHENSIVE? -- The Fenty administration is trying to poke some holes in Vince Gray's "birth-to-24" education plan, Leah Fabel reports in Examiner: "D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said the District has made strides in [the early-education] effort since 2009, when it opened the Early Stages Center to identify 3- to 5-year-olds with special needs. ... Gray's plan also called for more career and technology training in high school -- a need Calloway again said is being addressed She shared a spreadsheet detailing career programs offered at each high school, from HVAC repair to early childhood education. A proposed spreadsheet for the 2010-11 school year provides additional tracks from nursing to masonry. ... Child care advocates have criticized Fenty for making cuts to child care subsidies since 2007. But as council chairman, Gray also made cuts to early education initiatives, said an official with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education. They include about $1 million over two years to a program offering home visits to special-needs infants and toddlers." Still waiting to hear the Fenty UDC plan that doesn't start with appointing running buddies to the board.

YOU PUT YOUR WEED IN THERE -- Medical marijuana isn't even officially legal yet, and already a NIMBY fight, NC8 reports: "[T]he location -- two blocks from the Takoma Metro station, next to a liquor store and right across from a small park known as a hangout for drunks -- has [residents] worried: 'If there's going to be considerable traffic in and out of the area and if it's bringing in shady people in and out,' said Naveed Chaudhry, a neighborhood resident. Opponents say medical marijuana should be dispensed out of a medical building, not next to a Chinese carry-out. They note Coolidge High School students taking the Metro will walk right by it. They also worry it will attract criminals."

GOOD RIDDANCE? -- Second-tier White House party crasher turned fourth-tier mayoral candidate Carlos Allen may not be long for the D.C. ballot, The Reliable Source reports. His petitions' "validity has been challenged by a supporter of fellow long-shot candidate Leo Alexander. Allen told us he submitted about 2,080 signatures (2,000 are required), which doesn't leave a lot of room for error, but he told us that if rejected, he'll stay in as a write-in."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

More on the $900,000 discrimination judgment against the MPD -- do note that current Assistant Chief Diane Groomes played a key role in the case (Post)

After detective/father's testimony, D.C. jury finds Silver Spring man guilty of 1990 road rage killing (Post)

Just how much "great weight" should ANCs get when it comes to liquor license applications? (GGW)

Shadow rep candidate Nate Bennett-Fleming continues to rack up endorsements, winning the Ward 8 Dems' nod on Saturday (campaign blog)

Where you'll be able to procure a Capital Bikeshare velocipede (GGW)

Providence Hospital celebrates 150th anniversary, with special guests Vince Gray, Harry Thomas Jr. and David Catania (WUSA-TV)

Marisa Demeo will finally be sworn in as a Superior Court judge Friday afternoon (AP)

The house where Robert Wone was murdered is for sale (Crime Scene)

Former DDOT chief Emeka Moneme joins David Carmen's lobby shop (Legal Times)

Nevadan wants a Michelle Rhee clone (Nevada News & Views)

KIPP's long-school-day model deserves a closer look (Post editorial)

Fenty breaks ground on contentious Washington Highlands library reconstruction (news release)

Get your free, government-funded colonoscopy! (Post)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Vince Gray holds golf fundraiser this morning at Langston

By Mike DeBonis  |  July 20, 2010; 9:43 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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