DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 22, 2010
TODAY IS NOV. 22, 2010 -- 41 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
The shocker Friday news dump came from the police department: Assistant Chief Diane Groomes -- a fixture at community meetings and crime scenes alike, and a favorite of politicians, activists and journalists -- was placed on administrative leave following allegations that she helped fellow members of the MPD brass cheat on a training exam. Groomes said in a statement to reporters that she was "sorry for my actions and bad judgment ... and for the discredit I caused to the best chief, department ... and city." Paul Duggan with more from Saturday's Post: "Groomes has been the public face of the department at numerous community meetings throughout the city, listening to concerns about street crime, from vandalism to shootings, and other nuisances. 'She has made everyone safer by making "community policing" a reality,' said Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. 'From where I live in Mount Pleasant to every other part of town, she has walked the streets with residents and small-business owners and made our neighborhoods better.'" Assistant Chief Alfred Durham replaces Groomes atop the patrol division. WTOP has more details on the test. Also WTTG-TV, WaTimes, TBD.
AFTER THE JUMP -- more Wal-Mart details as urbanist hand-wringing proceeds -- meet Reuben Charles -- Marion Barry makes his welfare reform case in op-ed -- not all is hunky-dory at Hardy Middle School -- still no Team Thomas docs
*** MAIN COURSE ***
BENTONVILLE, D.C. -- Your Wal-Mart news roundup: In this week's Capital Business, Jonathan O'Connell has much, much more on the four sites that the mega retailer is eying for its stores. "Wal-Mart will be asking for no public subsidies on any of its four sites, although at least two of the planned stores require approval from the city. ... Adrianne Todman, interim executive director of the D.C. Housing Authority, which owns the [East Capitol Street] property, is hoping the company will agree to certain hiring provisions during lease negotiations, similar to the way it did in making a pact on wages with the Chicago City Council for stores there." Meanwhile, GGWers demand "urban-friendly" formats for the stores, particularly for the New Jersey Avenue and Georgia Avenue sites. Wal-Mart told O'Connell that it'll "be flexible in our approach so that the final size, look and format of our stores is a reflection of the neighborhood where it's located." The rendering I've seen of JBG's New Jersey Avenue building looked pretty darn "urban" -- mixed use, underground parking, street-level retail. Meanwhile, in the side battle between old-line planning activists and smart-growthers, Gary Imhoff sticks up for the former in themail.
REUBEN'S RISE -- Inside Sunday's Metro section, Nikita Stewart and I (but mostly Nikita) look at the quick rise of Reuben O. Charles II into and out of Vincent Gray's inner circle. "Charles's breakneck rise through the ranks of the Gray mayoral campaign was so fast it rendered the staff unable to control the public scrutiny of Charles's past. A decade ago, he was an ambitious venture capitalist in St. Louis, where a major deal to help minority businesses collapsed. The fallout - a series of lawsuits and liens - has haunted Charles. ... The rocky financial history led some to pressure Gray (D) to distance himself from a man pivotal to his defeat of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). It didn't help that in Charles's first week as head of the transition, Gray's election-night victory party was held at a nightclub owned by a man who owes the city more than $600,000 in back taxes. ... 'We made some mistakes, and I own up to them,' said Charles, a married father of two elementary school-age boys who moved to the District three years ago. But Charles's supporters fear Gray folded too easily to pressure from critics who say Charles lacked the experience and maturity to be chief of staff. Charles, they said, deserves credit for fund-raising and for gaining the trust of education reform stakeholders worried that a Gray mayoralty would slow progress in schools."
THE REFORMER -- Marion Barry's 15 minutes of fame as "welfare reform advocate" neared their end this week, with an appearance on Bruce DePuyt's TBD show and a Post local op-ed. From op-ed: "My legislation, while imperfect and incomplete, is intended to start a serious dialogue on how to break the cycle of generational poverty, government dependency and economic disparity in the city. ... It is wrong to suggest, as some have, that I would be so callous as to advocate the immediate removal of thousands of TANF recipients; to do so only spreads fear among recipients instead of advancing a solution. But I am firmly committed to a five-year limitation, with exemptions for those who face severe barriers to employment -- as long as it is part of a full-scale program redesign. ... The people who need the most help are not receiving it. They are the most vulnerable in our society, and we are failing them. I am confident that Mayor-elect Vincent Gray thoroughly understands this problem and the massive overhaul that is needed." Also, the council member was not happy with the Post's previous editorial on the issue.
HARDY UPDATE -- In a Post article today, Bill Turque checks up on things at the most politically charged of D.C. public schools: Hardy Middle School. What he found: "[D]espite [Michelle Rhee]'s assurances that the Georgetown school's special identity would remain intact - anchored in its citywide enrollment and fine arts and instrumental music program - parents and staff say Hardy has suffered in the transition to new leadership. They say the school stands as a monument to some of the most damaging missteps of Rhee's tenure. Hardy still draws a majority black enrollment from across all of the city's wards. The number of incoming sixth-graders from surrounding elementary 'feeder' schools has also increased, which was an objective Rhee had pursued. But returning parents and teachers say the school climate has deteriorated, with a rise in tardiness, fights and disrespectful behavior toward a less experienced administrative team. ... They also contend that Rhee's decision to allow new Principal Dana Nerenberg to split her time between Hardy and nearby Hyde-Addison Elementary - which resulted from an attempt to promote a sense of continuity among Georgetown schools and make Hardy a more attractive option for neighborhood families - is impractical given the demands of running a 520-student middle school." Notably, Vince Gray says he is leaving the school's management in Kaya Henderson's hands, and Henderson says she's sticking with Nerenberg.
GRAY EDU-SPEECH -- In a speech to a group of pre-K supporters Friday, Gray said that a $175 million budget gap won't obliterate his dreams of a "birth-to-24" education system -- particularly the birth to kindergarten part. Bill reports in the Post: "'I know we're in a fiscally challenged era. I didn't miss that,' Gray told a spirited gathering of educators at a conference sponsored by Pre-K for All D.C., a nonprofit group focused on promoting early child care and education. But Gray, in his first major education speech since the Nov. 2 election, said budget pressures also create opportunities to bring new clarity to priorities. A 'robust expansion' of infant and toddler care - with a focus on children with special needs or those at risk of developmental delays - is critical to controlling education costs later in life, Gray said."
YES, NEW BEGINNINGS IS TOO SMALL -- Washington Times reporters Jeffrey Anderson and Matthew Cella continue their series on juvenile justice in D.C. In the third part, they look at the insufficiency of the city's options for securely detaining delinquent youths -- including New Beginnings, the $46 million facility that is now widely acknowledged as too small. In a companion piece, the authors focus on interim DYRS Director Robert Hildum, who "came across as part truth-teller and part job applicant, with equal doses of vision and humility about what his future holds." Gray offered no hint of what he'll do, Hildum laid down his marker: "[W]hile he hesitated to openly criticize former DYRS director Vincent N. Schiraldi, a nationally known advocate for compassionate juvenile justice reform, he pulled few punches in criticizing the state of the agency that Mr. Schiraldi left behind. 'I don't want to bash my predecessor,' Mr. Hildum said, after a two-hour interview in which he excoriated DYRS for 'lack of administrative management and oversight,' and for conditions that he finds 'distressing.' .. Mr. Hildum says he wants a chance to tackle DYRS. 'When I was in the attorney general's office, if we criticized DYRS the attitude was, let him take a snap, see how easy it is,' he said. 'Now I'm wearing the jersey.'"
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Harry Thomas still hasn't handed over those nonprofit documents; he has until tomorrow (Loose Lips)
Gray transition subject to "bunker mentality," Dorothy Brizill says (themail)
D.C. GOP chief says Patrick Mara, Dave Hedgepeth or Tim Day will run for at-large seat (Examiner Capital Land)
Another anti-Nat Gandhi broadside from Jonetta Rose Barras: "When the city's chief calculator can't calculate accurately, we're in deep trouble." (Examiner)
In final days before decisive WTU vote, President George Parker stumps for votes among TFAers (WTU E-Portal)
The debt cap is coming fast (WBJ)
Peter Nickles talks to U.K. House of Commons committee about gun control (Parliament)
Doug Jemal and family play down liquidity concerns, ready for move into housing (Capital Business)
Did Jim Graham drop a dime on the boxer he sent thousands of dollars in city money to? (City Desk)
Also: Graham in war of words with organic grocer (Housing Complex)
Industrial revenue bond recipients not spending enough on CBEs, auditor says (WBJ)
Third Church of Christ, Scientist is doomed. (Capital Business)
A sensible suggestion: Start by raising RPP rates on second and third cars first (GGW)
"Waiting for Superman" shortlisted for Oscar (Arts Desk)
H Street NE business owners want further tax relief (Capital Business)
Still no verdict in Levy trial (McClatchy)
Fire lieutenant: "[W]ith Vincent C. Gray as mayor we will gain the ability to sit down and talk with management at the table, a common decency that was never offered by the Fenty clan." (Post letter)
Muriel Bowser is "very interested to learn more from Walmart executives about their interest in Ward 4" (press release/PDF)
Headline says it: "Rush of applicants at D.C.'s new IHOP illustrates distress of a stalled economy" (Post)
Deborah Simmons predicts a high-earners tax will soon be in the offing (WaTimes)
Surprise: Abstinence-only types don't like DOH's new condom campaign (Fox News)
Ballou ousted from Turkey Bowl; Dunbar in! Appeal pending! (Post)
"Mayor Adrian Fenty Still Dabbling in DC's Social Scene" (Fab Empire)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Vincent Gray to discuss the "State of the District's Budget", 10 a.m. in JAWB 412