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DeMorning DeBonis: July 30, 2010


Quietly yesterday evening, the House subcommittee on financial services and general government passed budget language that could hand the District its "biggest advance in home rule in 30 years." That assessment comes from D.C. Council member David A. Catania, who also tells Tim Craig that the move, if passed, would represent "an incredible step forward for our local government." In essence, it would mean that federal lawmakers could no longer interfere in local city decisions on things like medical marijuana, gay marriage and needle exchange via appropriations bills -- by far the most common meddling mechanism. The decision, Tim writes, is "a big consolation prize for city leaders and residents disappointed that repeated attempts to grant the District voting rights have failed." For this we have Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) to thank. Says Catania, "If he succeeds, we should erect a statue in his honor."

NOTA BENE -- Tune in to The Politics Hour With Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood, featuring yours truly as guest analyst with special guests Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, 12 p.m., WAMU-FM.

AFTER THE JUMP -- council makes Fenty jump through hoops to extend summer jobs program -- Republican not appointed to BOEE -- Gray and teacher firings -- DYRS review underway


SUMMER JOBBED -- Last year, frustrated council members voted to limit the 2010 Summer Youth Employment Program to six weeks and $22.7 million. Mayor Adrian Fenty, natch, paid no heed to those strictures and proceeded to plan a seven-plus week, $34 million program, Michael Laris reports in Friday's Post. "More than $8 million in added funding for the summer jobs program came from money the District received under a federal poverty program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families," Laris reports, but the council still needs to approve an extension -- which they did not do at Thursday's emergency legislative meeting. "Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) accused Fenty of politicizing the youth program in the midst of a campaign. 'He's using these kids and their parents as pawns in a political game,' Barry said. 'It's despicable. He's trying to jam the council: "If you don't approve this, you are taking money from the kids."'" (Barry, of course, uses only rooks and bishops in his political games!) Michael Brown has set a hearing on the issue for Monday, with yet another emergency legislative meeting likely to follow. Alan Suderman has the correct read: "LL predicts Fenty will get his way Monday, once the council finishes bashing him a bit. After all, who wants to say no to kids?"

DUCK HUNT -- The D.C. Council unanimously confirmed ex-cabinet secretary Togo D. West Jr. to the Board of Elections and Ethics in the main business of Thursday's meeting. What they did not do is take up the nomination of Mital Gandhi to fill the board's reserved non-majority-party slot. But that didn't stop D.C. Republican Committee executive director Paul Craney and his merry band of GOP council candidates from heading down to the Wilson Building to hand out rubber duckies. You know, because the council is "ducking" an up-or-down vote. Get it? If not, DCist will explain it all to you.

READ MY STUFF -- This week's not-a-column: I look at how Vincent Gray is handling -- or, as the case might be, not handling -- the DCPS teacher firings. "[W]hile Gray may not feel much pressure to say what he'd do about [Michelle Rhee], he will be pressed to say more about what Rhee has done -- in particular, her move last week to fire dozens of schoolteachers for poor performance. The firings, as many as 165 of them, are almost unheard of in a large urban school system, despite the lip service that gets paid to holding teachers accountable. And Gray has duly paid: His education plan promises to "remove low-performing teachers from the system." Now Rhee has done just that. So far, Gray has punted."

TOP-TO-BOTTOM REVIEW -- New DYRS chief Robert Hildum "is reviewing all 900 juvenile criminal cases that fall under the agency's jurisdiction," Freeman Klopott in the Examiner. "Hildum's review of the files reflects a change in direction for the agency, which has focused heavily on community placement as a tool for rehabilitation over the past five years. ... By adding more criminal information to a juvenile's files, it is likely that many youths will be pulled from community housing and placed in secure facilities such as the newly built $46 million New Beginnings detention center in Laurel, the sources and youth advocates said. But New Beginnings often has more committed offenders than it has beds."

BILLS TO PAY -- Why did the D.C. Chamber of Commerce endorse Jeff Smith over Jim Graham? Housing Complex reporter Lydia DePillis finds out that the bowtied one's stances on two pieces of legislation in particular. A Chamber spokeswoman e-mails: "It is the Chamber's mission to balance the need for sound and progressive public policy with the need to protect small business owners from being overwhelmed by new and expensive governmentally imposed mandates, regulations and costs. Our PAC took note of Mr. Graham's consistent opposition to that principal, particularly on the Accrued Sick and Safe legislation and the Human Rights for Ex-Offenders bill -- in both cases he showed no concern for the needs of struggling small business owners, particularly in these challenging economic times."

BUILD A BUS SHELTER -- GGW's David Alpert makes the case for building a bus garage at Walter Reed: "Why does DC need a new bus garage? Its two bus garages in the northern part of DC are falling apart and neighbors would rather use the land for other purposes. The 175-bus Northern garage, along 14th Street between Buchanan and Decatur Street, needs a massive overhaul. ... Meanwhile, the 138-bus Western garage occupies an enormous tract of land right on top of the Friendship Heights Metro, creating an empty block-long wall right on Wisconsin Avenue and heavy bus traffic on the smaller streets in the neighborhood, where the garage entrances lie. Many residents would love to see more street-activating uses on Wisconsin and remove the bus traffic. However, these buses would have to go somewhere."

TO WHAT END -- Taxi drivers are petitioning Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) "to explain a provision he inserted into the 2006 District Omnibus Budget Authorization, which mandated a transition from a zone to a meter system," Joey Flechas reports in the Examiner. "According to Justice for Taxis, a coalition of driver groups and advocates, Fenty has used the provision, which includes a part that grants the mayor the power to opt out of the requirement to install a metered system, to claim authority over the functions of the Taxicab Commission and the right to set fare rates." God forbid.

SIGN O' THE TIMES -- Loose Lips: now a blog!


These parking signs sure are confusing -- good thing Fox 5 is on the job! (WTTG-TV)

Anti-statehood license plate frame not only insensitive, but possibly illegal (City Desk)

Valerie Strauss has more reservations about test-based teacher evaluations (Answer Sheet)

Who's stealing the Turtle Park benches? After all: "This space needs benches because it's got the play turtles and everything." (NC8)

Small animals are being stoned to death in Northeast (NC8)

How Harriet Tregoning found a condo (Examiner)

Kenyan McDuffie not a fan of Barry's disapproval resolutions (press release)

How to fix "food deserts" (NC8)

An interview with Erin McGoldrick, DCPS' chief of data and accountability (DCPS Urban Education Leaders Internship Program)

PCP kingpin in prison for life Examiner)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Fenty kicks off kids' triathlon, hosts Legg Mason draw, and kicks off "street soccer" championship

By Mike DeBonis  |  July 30, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: WTU says DCPS fired far fewer teachers than it announced
Next: Post editorial board endorses Adrian Fenty

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