DeMorning DeBonis: Feb. 16, 2011
TODAY IS FEB. 16, 2011 -- DAY 46 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Mayor Vincent Gray made it all but official yesterday: Michelle Rhee's legacy will live on in the D.C. Public Schools. Gray said at yesterday's news briefing that Kaya Henderson, Rhee's hand-picked successor, is indeed interested in keeping the permanent job, Bill Turque notes at D.C. Schools Insider. And Gray said a search committee led in part by staunch Rhee backer Katherine Bradley will be highly influential in making the final pick. And they aren't going to be looking too hard: "We will be looking at moving quickly to get this done," he said. The committee is required by law to "give great weight to any recommendation of the Washington Teachers' Union." But as any ANC commish can tell you, "great weight" isn't necessarily a feather's worth in D.C. government. Meanwhile, the Examiner's Lisa Gartner writes that the education transition team is recommending "significant changes" to the IMPACT teacher evaluation system. But the changes don't appear to be much more than putting a collaborative-y sheen on things, bringing in outside experts to beef up professional development and collect feedback. The WTU's input is kept separate from the committee's findings -- none of which attacks the core of IMPACT.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Kwame Brown brokered UMC compromise -- Irv Nathan emerges to address drunk-driving prosecutions -- Devon Brown out at DOC -- Hardy parents still ticked -- Catania wants easy access to the Pill -- assistant police chief gets chief salary
*** MAIN COURSE ***
THE SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE -- To the disappointment of dais-watchers, the D.C. Council did not take a vote on the composition of United Medical Center's board of directors at yesterday's legislative meeting. Nikita Stewart explains why not in today's Post, crediting Chairman Kwame Brown with brokering a detente: "By Monday night ... board chairman Leon Swain Jr. had tendered his resignation and D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chairman of the council's Committee on Health, had approached [Brown] about striking a compromise. More board members were expected to follow Swain's lead, with Stephen T. Baron, a Fenty holdover serving as interim director of the Department of Mental Health, resigning Tuesday. 'In exchange for withdrawing the legislation, I would move the mayoral nominees immediately and let the mayor choose the chairman,' Catania said in an interview. ... Gray's proposal to stack the hospital board in his favor marked his first visible effort to flex his power as mayor. The compromise also reinforced Gray's reputation as a leader willing to bend and Brown's newfound position as mediator. 'Kwame played that role very nicely,' Catania said. 'I had a point of view that I felt strongly about. The mayor had a point of view that he felt strongly about. Reasonable people can reason together.'" It helps that Gray seems willing to slow down and "hire an independent consultant to review the hospital's finances, assemble a request for proposals and find a buyer," which, said Gray, "could take six to 12 months, maybe closer to 12." WBJ's Ben Fischer also covers the events, noting Gray's change in tone and the terms of the deal.
DRUNKDRIVERGATE -- Acting Attorney General Irvin Nathan emerged from his undisclosed location to read a statement on the status of city drunk-driving arrests, many of which have been dropped due to questions about breathalyzer accuracy. Mary Pat Flaherty covers the affair for the Post, writing that Nathan estimates that it could be four months before breath tests can again be used in court. "In the meantime, officers and prosecutors will rely on urine tests in addition to field sobriety checks, Nathan said. The urine tests are much more expensive, costing about $75 each, compared with less than $10 for a breath test. D.C. police test about 123 suspected drunk drivers a month, department records show. A federal highway grant will cover the extra cost of urine testing. But the added expense, Nathan said, is needed to bolster confidence in a process that for a year has been battered by problems with accuracy." Examiner's Freeman Klopott notes that Nathan confirmed that some were dropped due to concerns about how some officers conducted urine tests.
CORREX BOSS OUT -- Department of Corrections director Devon Brown is out after five years, Jason Cherkis reports at City Desk: "Brown had served as director for close to five years and in many ways had proven just as tough and reform-minded as Rhee. Although there are zero documentaries, Time magazine cover stories, and WaPo mash notes posing as editorials to attest to Brown's savior status, he certainly resurrected a troubled agency once mired in lawsuits, badly trained corrections officers, erroneously releases, and embarrassing performances before the D.C. Council's judiciary committee." Prisoner advocate Phil Fornaci "thinks Gray is going to have a hard time replacing Brown. ... 'It's kind of a no-win job. People who are really good will know better than to come here.'" The interim director: The agency's IT chief.
MORE HARDY BLATHER -- Jonetta Rose Barras writes in her Examiner column that Hardy Middle School might have a new principal, "[b]ut no one should think the majority of parents, students or faculty are satisfied." Here's her novel idea: "Who better to restore the school's stellar reputation than [ex-principal Patrick Pope]?" Here's what Kaya Henderson had to say about her pick: "I kept an open mind and listened to all suggestions. Parents said they wanted a proven leader who has had experience as a middle school principal and experience in scheduling. ... I appointed a well-qualified, well-respected interim principal with more than 20 years experience."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Catania bill would allow pharmacists to dispense birth control without doctor's prescription (Post)
Assistant police chief is making police chief money (Examiner)
Gray transition report says that Adrian Fenty's DDOT "'skirted responsibility,' suffered from a 'lack of transparency,' and put together a budget based on 'deliberately overstated federal earmarks'" (Dr. Gridlock, Housing Complex)
Union leaders: Rhee "believed she was above the rules" (All Opinions Are Local)
Team Thomas probe to wrap "soon," says Nathan (Loose Lips)
"Potomac Primary" is virtually kaput (Post/Virginia Politics)
Another MPD cop shoots a dog (WTTG-TV)
D.C. Medicaid provider subject of overbilling probe (WaTimes)
DCPS still considering appeal to teacher reinstatement (WTTG-TV)
Catholic U. students victimized in burglary might have been selling weed (City Desk)
Legalize strollers! (GGW)
Cutting night-owl Metro service will kill people, says reader (Post letter)
Catholic Charities chief to step down (Post Now)
Is Gray's "One City" logo snubbing Virginia? (NBCWashington.com)
"Shotgun Stalker" wants out of St. E's (WTOP)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray, Brown testify on vouchers before Senate committee -- memorial service for Jeff Coudriet, 11 a.m. at Foundry United Methodist Church