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Posted at 10:56 AM ET, 11/29/2010

DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 29, 2010

By Mike DeBonis


If you hadn't figured it out already: The deal to get the District a vote in the House of Representatives is dead as can be, Ben Pershing reported in Sunday's Post. He deploys this chestnut from two years back: "'I really can't think of a scenario by which we could fail,' Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said in November 2008. Yet fail they did. House leaders decided this year to pull a voting rights bill from the floor rather than have it coupled with a measure to weaken the District's gun laws. Now, with Republicans set to take over the House in January, the window to move a voting rights bill appears to have closed, and glum supporters are wondering what -- if anything -- to do next." Former Rep. Tom Davis, architect of the deal that could have been, puts chances of passage in a GOP Congress at "zero," with the overall chances of a deal "gone, I would guess, for 10 years." Meantime, a Republican Congress is sure to press the gutting of city gun laws anyway. Meanwhile, also in the realm of federal affairs, the Georgetown Dish ponders what Mayor-elect Vincent Gray will be talking about with President Obama when they have lunch on Wednesday. Will there be "an ask"? Will it be for a license plate? For vouchers? Or for more?

AFTER THE JUMP -- What the investigations of Banneker Ventures and Team Thomas have in common -- D.C. embraces the bicycle -- city youths' violence extends beyond the city borders -- masks now illegal at residential protests -- why Ingmar Guandique's conviction was a mistake


POTS AND KETTLES -- Gander Harry Thomas Jr. is getting what's good from goose Peter Nickles, Jonetta Rose Barras writes in a fab Examiner column today: "Thomas, his council colleagues and their pro bono attorney, Robert Trout, have demanded an ever-expanding body of information from Banneker Ventures and others as part of the legislature's investigation into a multimillion-dollar government contract awarded to that company to renovate city recreation centers. Thomas has said the council simply has been trying to get to 'the bottom' of things. Nickles has been similarly motivated [in investigating the "Team Thomas" nonprofit. ... Thomas told me he wouldn't respond to the AG's demand for additional information by Nickles' Wednesday deadline. He said he likely would go to court. 'Mr. Nickles is continually moving the target, trying to fish for information to prove I've done something wrong,' Thomas added. That's a charge Banneker's President Omar Karim and his lawyer, A. Scott Bolden, made about Thomas' gluttonous council investigation. But Thomas doesn't see any similarities between the legislature's demands and those being made by the AG."

WE LOVE BIKES -- Tim Craig in Saturday's Post chronicled D.C.'s growing bicycle culture -- including the unalloyed success of the Capital Bikeshare program. "With the city adding bicycle lanes and storage facilities in recent years, officials say more residents are discovering that getting around the city on two wheels is becoming safer and easier and is even adding a bit of coolness to a city that has long battled its stuffy reputation. 'A lot of what we're doing is back-to-the-future type stuff," said Gabe Klein, the city's transportation director. 'People are demanding more and more, and we are just trying to give it to them.' According to census data, the number of Washington residents who commute to work by bicycle has nearly doubled, to 2.2 percent, in the past 10 years. Official hourly 'bike counts' conducted by the D.C. Transportation Department suggest much of that growth has occurred since 2007. ... [O]fficials say they are stunned by the immediate popularity of Capital Bikeshare, a network of 1,100 communal red bicycles scattered around the District and Arlington County for residents and tourists. ... Jim Sebastian, director of the Transportation Department's Bicycle and Pedestrian program, said the system has 4,700 annual members, a number growing by '30 to 40 a day.' Officials had estimated 6,800 members by the end of August, prompting them to begin plans to expand the program in the coming months. 'It's absolutely plausible to have 10,000 bikes in 10 years,' Klein said." Gary Imhoff grumbles a retort in themail, calling cycling a "niche enthusiasm." Also: Man and woman, both elderly, struck and injured by bicyclist Friday. And did you know White House employees get their own Bikeshare station?

EXPORTING JUVENILE VIOLENCE -- Jeffrey Anderson and Matthew Cella continue their juvenile justice series in the Washington Times by highlighting a spate of killings committed outside District boundaries by city-supervised youth: "A university student was attacked as he bicycled home after working the evening shift at a waterfront restaurant. A school principal was fatally shot in his bedroom in a Maryland suburb. An American University professor was killed in her Maryland home, the unsolved slaying complicated by the arrest less than a day later of a teenager behind the wheel of her stolen car. These brutal attacks, robberies gone awry, have at least one other thing in common: Juveniles committed to the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) have been charged or identified as suspects. ... The slayings of [Ruth Marcum], [Brian Betts] and [Neil Godleski], widely publicized for their brutality and their shocking nature, show that DYRS youth violence is a regional problem with the potential to affect people's lives in a disturbingly random fashion. ... D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray told The Times that when he takes office in January, he plans to overhaul the juvenile-justice agency, which has had three leaders this year alone. But Mr. Gray offered little insight into what an overhaul would look like. 'DYRS must be held accountable for youth under its supervision,' he said in an e-mail."

OAK HILL LIVES? -- Also: "[Interim DYRS Director Robert Hildum] said at the D.C. Council hearing in September that his staff was examining ways to create additional secure bed space and that there are no plans to request funds to build a new facility. He and council member Tommy Wells, chairman of the committee that has oversight of DYRS, briefly talked about renovating a building at Oak Hill, the city's infamous juvenile jail that was closed last year. Mr. Hildum said they looked at one building that would take about $2 million to rehabilitate. Asked by Mr. Wells whether $2 million would be a bargain, Mr. Hildum acknowledged that the legal permissions that would be required, but said it might be worth the cost. Then he added: 'Politically and symbolically, I think that's a very dangerous thing to do.'"

METRO REFORM NOW -- Bob McCartney makes the case for adopting the Metro governance changes recommended by the MWCOG/GWBOT task force: "Although the measures are not sufficient by themselves to cure Metro's ailments, they are a necessary part of the recuperation. They would put Metro in a considerably better position to overcome its three biggest current shortcomings: lack of safety, lack of reliability and lack of cash. ... Regardless of how the region sorts out the details, it's vital to push through the principal reforms. They could go a long way to helping Metro win back the public's confidence." Among the recommendations is ending the jurisdictional veto, which has historically been near to the District's heart. McCartney says the practice has "been abused at times, and veto powers can make it harder to do what's best for the system as a whole. ... I support limiting its use, but I'm not sure about dropping it. The veto might be needed in some matters, such as to prevent the suburbs from ganging up on the District to eliminate city bus routes." Also: The Examiner reports that Metro ridership is not meeting projections. "Initial findings show that rail ridership has remained flat but revenue is down because riders are adjusting their schedules to avoid the 'peak-of-the-peak' fares. Meanwhile, bus ridership has taken a 5 percent hit "due to the economic recession and the fare increase."

MIND YOUR MASKS -- It's now illegal to wear a mask while protesting outside of a residence, Freeman Klopott reports in the Examiner. "The D.C. Council has unanimously passed a strongly worded bill to deal with an animal rights group that has been known to wear masks and appear unannounced outside District residents' homes shouting things like 'You should die.' Residents have been complaining to their council members that they felt 'terrorized.' Critics of the bill say it's too broad and limits First Amendment rights. 'They scared some people so much that they feel like prisoners in their own homes,' said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who sponsored the Residential Tranquility Act of 2010. ... Now, police have the authority to arrest the protesters -- groups of three or more -- on sight if they: Fail to inform police before a protest; Protest outside a residence between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.; Wear masks. The American Civil Liberties Union came out against the bill."

MARION BARRY, HYPOCRITE -- Harry Jaffe has some fun in his Examiner column with Marion Barry, welfare reformer: "[W]hat blows my mind is Barry's unabashed hypocrisy. 'Unfortunately,' he explains, 'in our city, we have elected officials, members of the media, advocates and residents who seem to prefer to keep [welfare recipients] enslaved, without jobs and without hope.' For God's sake, Barry is that 'elected official' who has 'enslaved' thousands of D.C. residents. He created the nonfunctioning job-training system that has failed for decades. He ignored a public school system that failed to educate generations of poor Washingtonians. I was trying to wrap my arms around Barry's latest version of himself when he reverted to form. He ordered $26,000 worth of turkeys from Giant Food stores so he could give them away at Union Temple Church before Thanksgiving. But he didn't pay for them; he was $9,000 short. Giant declined to deliver the birds. Instead of forking over the dough, Barry called Giant 'heartless.' Barry, the sudden welfare reformer, wanted a handout."

GUANDIQUE SHOULD HAVE GOT OFF -- In a Post op-ed, Deirdre M. Enright and Matthew L. Engle of the University of Virginia's Innocence Project argue that Ingmar Guandique's conviction was a mistake and, moreover, that the prosecution shouldn't have happened in the first place: "The fact that there was so little evidence that Guandique was responsible for [Chandra Levy]'s death may have been one reason that U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines and Levy's mother called the verdict a 'miracle.' Largely due to the work of Innocence Projects, society now accepts that 'miracles' like Guandique's conviction often turn out to be cases of wrongful conviction. These cases routinely feature the same issues that appeared in Guandique's case -- a botched police investigation, prosecutorial tunnel vision, reliance on jailhouse informants and, perhaps, jurors who feel they owe a conviction to the victim or his or her family. ... The U.S. attorney's office should not have prosecuted Guandique or invited a jury to convict him without first developing real evidence of guilt, particularly given law enforcement's responsibility for destroying or failing to collect all the evidence. ... [P]rosecutors spent a lot of taxpayer dollars to obtain a conviction in which no one should have much confidence."


Talker: Six juveniles charged with sexual assault at Dunbar High School (Post)

More thoughts on nonpartisan elections for D.C. (Yglesias)

NoMa needs parks (WBJ)

Dorothy Brizill counts ward residency for Gray transition personages (themail)

Balancing courthouse security with courthouse access (Post editorial)

The buses are talking! The buses are talking! (Examiner)

"DC Metro Governance: What Does It Mean? (And Why Should I Care?)" (Transportation Nation)

How a streetcar battle is playing out in Atlanta (L.A. Times)

What local progressive groups are thankful for -- EITC, TANF and Tommy Wells (City Desk)

Second arrest in Joseph Sharps murder (WTOP)

Kaplan School of Law coming to ballpark area? (Capital Business)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Council hearing on "Bullying Prevention Act" and "Harassment and Intimidation Prevention Act," 10 a.m. in JAWB 500

By Mike DeBonis  | November 29, 2010; 10:56 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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