DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 19, 2010
TODAY IS NOV. 19, 2010 -- 44 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
PREVIOUSLY -- Wal-Mart and the District's retail divide
Finally, some names! Nikita Stewart has an early leak from Mayor-elect Vincent Gray's transition of "potential candidates" being vetted for high administration posts: "The candidates include John W. Hill Jr., chief executive of the Federal City Council, and Allen Y. Lew, executive director of the city Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. Gray (D), who will be sworn in Jan. 2, said that he is unsure whether Hill or Lew would be interested in joining his administration and that he has had no conversations with them about posts. ... Two sources within the transition team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the process, said that not all those under review might be presented to Gray as potential candidates. But the vetting would prepare Gray, who now serves as D.C. Council chairman, to start building his mayoral Cabinet, including senior staff and potential hires to head education and economic development." Other names floated: ex-Hotel Association chief Emily Durso; ex-DCHA director Michael Kelly; ex-Williams housing official Milton Bailey; former deputy mayor Brenda Donald Walker; plus current Cabinet members Bill Howland (DPW), Linda Argo (DCRA), and Lucinda Babers (DMV).
AFTER THE JUMP -- More WaTimes reporting on DYRS violence -- Keely Thompson arrested by feds -- Urbanists strike back -- Arlene Ackerman takes shot at Rhee -- RPP prices could rise
*** MAIN COURSE ***
DYRS INVESTIGATION -- More from Washington Times reporters Jeffrey Anderson and Matthew Cella on the city's juvenile justice system in Part 2 of their series dubbed "A Horrible Answer": "An investigation by The Washington Times has revealed a persistent and troubling trend to be the pattern of violence among a population under the supervision of the city's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). Deaths alone tell the story. Of the 110 people publicly identified by police or prosecutors as being arrested for or charged with homicide in the District between Sept. 1, 2009, and Aug. 31, The Times investigation found that 41 were 21 years old or younger. At least 26 of these alleged young killers -- more than 60 percent -- were either committed to DYRS at the time, previously committed or had a record of prior juvenile arrests." Included is more tough talk from interim DYRS chief Robert Hildum: "Mr. Hildum declined to comment about a specific case. But he said 'abscondence' -- either fleeing a group home or evading the oversight of a case worker -- is a serious concern. He added that he was 'very concerned' about the abscondence rate and that he has made finding absconders a priority. In his first two months, DYRS and police found 87 absconders, compared with 53 who were located in the two months prior to his arrival. 'The view from the prior administration is that kids run, that's what they do. I don't agree with that,' he said."
KEELY IN CUFFS -- Keely Thompson -- a former boxer who ran a Columbia Heights youth center that received $1.4 million in city funds, much of it through council earmarks -- was arrested Thursday on charges of stealing more than $500,000 from the operation. Spencer Hsu reports in The Post: "Prosecutors charged that between 2004 and 2010, Thompson used the boxing center's debit card to spend $150,000 on cruises and gambling in Atlantic City, losing more than $140,000 at Bally's casino alone. In addition to drawing an average annual salary of $55,000 over six years, Thompson also cashed $355,210 in checks from the center with no legitimate business purpose, according to an affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent James M. Price. 'I used the money in the wrong way. I done it and I can't change it,' Thompson told Price in August, the agent wrote in the affidavit. Thompson, dressed in a black Sean John track suit, was represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender David Bos. He said little at the hearing, except that he had contacted former D.C. Democratic Party chairman and criminal defense lawyer A. Scott Bolden to help him find a lawyer whom Thompson could afford."
HIKE IN RPPs? -- Still no budget proposal from Hizzoner. But a raise in residential parking fees might be in the offing, Tim Craig reports at D.C. Wire: "The mayor plans to achieve most of the savings through spending reductions, officials say. But the administration is also eying some revenue increases. ... Currently, District car owners pay $15 annually to receive a permit sticker allowing them to park in their neighborhood without having to adhere to time limits. In addition to raising an undisclosed amount of money, increasing the fee to $30 could further the Fenty administration's goal of encouraging more residents to embrace mass transit. Last year, Fenty proposed raising the fee to $25, but the council did not include it in their final version of the budget, according to council staffers. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, said he would be open to discussing a possible increase this year."
WAR OF THE PLANNING NERDS -- As you probably expected, Greater Greater Washington responded yesterday to the Committee of 100's call for Gray to oust DDOT's Gabe Klein and planning chief Harriet Tregoning. David Alpert writes: "[The Committee of 100] claim that the two don't listen to to public input. But the truth is that they are hearing far more public input than ever before. That public input simply doesn't match the Committee's policy preferences. ... [T]he Office of Planning has been a model for the right way to conduct public input. They have already conducted 166 public sessions on just the zoning rewrite, and already have 32 more scheduled in the next 6 months. That means there have been more public meetings on this one project than there are members of the Committee of 100." More than 600 have signed an online petition to keep the two. The Ward 3 Dems also threw their lot in with the anti-Klein/Tregoning crowd. Rudi Riet asks: "Can we just send the committee of 100 out to sea?" Tim Craig covered the back and forth at D.C. Wire.
'FREAKY FRIDAY' INDEED -- Petula Dvorak on fire today: "The economy must remain in a deep freeze if the announcement of Wal-Mart coming to town gets cheers in D.C. and Marion Barry starts dissing his most impoverished constituents. In the same week! Don't forget, it was only recently that the city was clamoring for more Whole Foods outlets (with custom gelateria this time, por favor, and make sure that roof is green) and Barry (D-Ward 8) was handing out city contracts to his girlfriend like they were bonbons and flowers. But in these more sober times, the announcement that Wal-Mart is planning to build four stores and employ at least 1,200 people is met as a triumph." Meanwhile: "In a move that critics called 'puzzling' and 'baffling' and had a serious Freaky Friday flavor, Barry came out with a bill to limit the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to five years. ... And, to my great surprise, that was fine with lots of the people I talked with in Ward 8."
ARLENE KNOCKS MICHELLE -- Former DCPS superintendent Arlene Ackerman, now doing the same job in Philadelphia, shares her thoughts on Michelle Rhee with the Philly Inquirer: "Did Rhee get a bum rap? After all, she shook things up in the failing district, shutting down underenrolled schools, removing hundreds of underperforming teachers, offering others cash incentives in exchange for tenure. Nothing wrong with that. 'I don't think she was culturally competent for the community she was trying to help,' Ackerman says, though she does support some of Rhee's reforms. 'And I don't think she took time to listen.' Ackerman adds that Rhee's mistake was that she thought she could 'tell somebody she knew what was good for them when she hadn't walked in their shoes.' " Says columnist Annette John-Hall: "Hmm. It sounds as if Ackerman has just described her own problem."
GAO AGAIN KNOCKS SCHOOL SPENDING -- You know that Government Accountability Office audit Jonetta Rose Barras wanted earlier this week? Well, they've been looking at schools spending of late, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Schools Insider: "Between 2004 and 2009, GAO said, [DCPS and OSSE] have received $190 million in federal payments (apart from Title I or IDEA funds) for a range of initiatives, including charter school facilities financing, teacher incentive pay and summer programs. But federal officials say that the District has had persistent problems demonstrating exactly how the money has been spent, especially prior to 2009. ... District officials say in the official response pretty much what they've said for years: that they're doing better. ... As with many GAO reports, it's a mix of serious stuff and what sounds like nitpicky, nickel-and-dime tail chasing. But it was enough for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member and soon to be chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to fire up another press release lamenting the loss of the voucher program." Also the Examiner.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Pre-Turkey Bowl drama! Dunbar wants Ballou investigated! (The Post)
Tom Davis declares D.C. voting rights deal "dead as a doornail" (Politics Daily)
Security crackdown means long lines at Moultrie (The Post)
D.C. foreclosure process is now "quasi-judicial" (Housing Wire)
WIN event canceled after learning that first weatherized home belonged to a convicted felon (D.C. Wire)
A well-stated case against time limits on TANF (GGW)
More on the Wednesday streetcar hearing (TBD)
Traci Hughes now working for Kwame Brown transition (D.C. Wire)
WTU candidate Nathan Saunders: "One of the things that Michelle Rhee is excellent at is promoting Michelle Rhee." Also, Randi Weingarten is "absolutely confusing." (Socialist Worker)
Residents urge city to hold on to Franklin School (Housing Complex)
More reasons to be sad Michelle Rhee is gone (Dropout Nation)
More Rhee at Harvard (Crimson)
Eleanor talks pat-downs (We Love DC)
How Wal-Mart kills D.C.'s uniqueness (District Curmudgeon)
A call to make the D.C. Council vacancy appointment process into a reality show (We Love DC)
Will Barry give a blogger a tour of Ward 8? (Dave Stroup)
Gray's college major: "pre-mayor" (D.C. Wire)
Sigh. "A city run by a convicted crack head tax evader and a mayor who gives his cronies public contracts is tackling an AIDS epidemic with a government website that matches condoms to personalities." (Judicial Watch)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Vince Gray attends morning Pre-K conference, Washington, DC Economic Partnership annual meeting; and "Brother 2 Brother Youth Conference" in the afternoon -- I'll be a guest on WPFW-FM, 89.3, 6:30 p.m.
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