DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 15, 2010
TODAY IS DEC. 15, 2010 -- 18 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
The D.C. Republican Committee renewed calls yesterday for Harry Thomas Jr. to turn over all information pertaining to his Team Thomas nonprofit, asking the Office of Campaign Finance to investigate. City Paper's Alan Suderman takes that news and goes on to explain nicely how the Team Thomas affair "exposes one giant blindspot in the public's ability to find out how the money flows to elected officials and their pet causes." He explains: "Look at it from a donor's point of view: Say you happen to be itching to get in good with [Thomas]. Would you rather a) donate a limited amount to his political campaign, which has to be disclosed to the public? Or b) write as big a check as you want to Team Thomas, without worrying about anyone else knowing? ... The problem isn't limited to Team Thomas. Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry gets to give away Thanksgiving turkeys to his constituents in his name ... while having unnamed donors foot the bill." Thus Suderman asks: "Are the District's financial disclosure regulations a complete joke?"
AFTER THE JUMP -- New Dunbar design unveiled; criticism of independent operator continues -- Henderson says she's "tired of breaking china" -- House to vote on District presence in Statuary Hall -- Barry's paycheck garnished, again
*** MAIN COURSE ***
BEHIND THE DUNBAR SHAKEUP -- Another reminder that reform of the D.C. Public Schools continues to resist easy solutions: Bill Turque reports on A1 today that the hiring of Friends of Bedford to independently operate Dunbar High School did little good, according to a letter from Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson to the firm. "In general, the building seems to be in turmoil at all times," she wrote in the letter. "Well after the school day begins, many students are wandering around the building, strolling to class with absolutely no sense of urgency." Also, nearly half of current Dunbar seniors are likely not to graduate. The saga has "turned into an early test of how Henderson and Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D) will respond to school reform efforts that appear to go awry," and was also highlighted by yesterday's unveiling of plans for a new Dunbar, to be opened in fall 2013. Bill has more on the design, including this fact: "The new Dunbar will go up beside the old one, meaning that students won't have to be moved into 'swing space' at another building. But it does mean that that the school's $3 million athletic field, installed in 2007, will be torn up" because that's cheaper than swing space. The new design "looks a bit like private Sidwell Friends with its campus-like setting, atriums and plenty of natural light." Here's a couple early reviews: DCist's Aaron Morrissey likes it; the Post's Phillip Kennicott doesn't, calling it "merely serviceable" and "blandly commercial." See more design materials. Also WAMU-FM.
"TIRED OF BREAKING CHINA" -- The Dunbar drama has put more eyes on Henderson, and Lisa Gartner writes in the Examiner about her more conciliatory style. "[T]he style of leadership that was necessary in June 2007 is different than what people crave now, Henderson says. 'Rhee had to come in and break some china,' she says. 'We're tired of breaking china.' Rhee's job was to create a revolution of reform; Henderson's job is to smooth things out. So she smiles more than Rhee, and she meets with skeptical education boards in the various wards, broaching topics like 'healing' and 'acknowledging missteps.' ... Cherita Whiting, chairwoman of the Ward 4 Education Council who worked with Henderson on the panel through 2008, was initially skeptical of Henderson's appointment. But one month later, they met. ... 'I'm no dummy and I'm no pushover, but she did gain my support in trying to make things work, and mend the fences.'" But will she work permanently for Gray? Time and conflicts to come will tell, Henderson says: "You're not a family until you have a fight." Bruce Johnson, meanwhile, reports at WUSA-TV that Gray "came as close as he could on Tuesday without formally announcing that [Henderson] will be his choice to take the post next month when Gray is sworn into office" and that he "had nothing but praise for how Henderson has handled the interim position, especially establishing community ties which Gray found lacking in former chancellor Michelle Rhee."
D.C. MAY GET A STATUE YET -- The House is set to vote on a bill to place one statue representing the District in the Capitol's Statuary Hall, Ben Pershing reports at D.C. Wire: "The bill represents a compromise, as another measure championed by Norton to add two statues to Congress' Statuary Hall collection stalled earlier this year amid concerns that gun-rights supporters would try to attach language gutting the District's gun laws. ... That earlier measure would put statues of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass and architect Pierre L'Enfant in the Capitol; the two statues have been completed and are sitting at One Judiciary Square awaiting a permanent home. ... With time running out in the 111th Congress, Norton and her fellow Democrats have decided to lower their sights. On Wednesday the House will vote on a bill that includes language introduced by [Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.)], granting one statue apiece to the territories as well as D.C. The measure will come up under suspension of the rules, which means it can not be amended but will need a two-thirds majority to pass." Senate passage is unclear; the D.C. government would pick whether Douglass or L'Enfant will get picked. Also DCist. In other Hill news: Ben reports that the Senate version of the D.C. appropriations bill cuts federal payments to the city by about 1 percent, meaning $11 million less. It does, however, include a $100,000 earmark for Cora Masters Barry's Southeast Tennis and Learning Center.
ALL THE GARNISHES -- A Superior Court judge ordered Marion Barry's wages to be garnished to pay a 2008 campaign debt, Rend Smith reports at City Desk. One problem: "[S]o far, the District hasn't given his clients their cut. A response from the city is now past due, says [lawyer John P. Lynch]. He finds that odd. 'Usually, when I serve it [a garnishment] on city employees, they respond,' he says." The issue probably involves the fact that the IRS is already garnishing Barry's salary to repay his tax debts. In 2009, I wrote in City Paper about Barry's debt from his last council campaign.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Prince Okorie, 16-year-old slain in Petworth, was a witness to August murder of Neil Godleski (The Hour)
Metro GM shortlist includes transit outsiders (WTOP)
Arlington man arrested after threatening Metro bombings on Facebook (Dr. Gridlock)
City seeks review of parking meters (WBJ)
Bring back "Arts DC" job program, Jonetta Rose Barras says (Examiner)
DDOT to snow: Bring it on (WAMU-FM)
District rated subpar on public-health preparedness study (WTTG-TV)
Don't call Tommy Wells a recreational cyclist! (YouTube)
Rhee and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa together on the radio (So. Calif. Public Radio)
Farewell to Bryan Sivak -- and the results-only work environment? (Government Technology)
Bus shelters could get displays with real-time transit info (TBD)
Beware the thief named Kathy Griffin! (WUSA-TV)
We're so rich and well-educated -- and segregated (Post)
Urbanist happy hour featuring Gabe Klein! (GGW)\
Marc Fisher's kid taunted on Facebook by thief; police near-powerless to help (Story Lab)
Epic takedown. (Post)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Fenty, Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper, Library board chair John Hill break ground on new Francis Gregory Library, 3660 Alabama Ave. SE, 10:45 a.m.
| December 15, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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