Early Briefing: A Friend For The Fillmore
* Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has proposed a series of measures that would provide an estimated $800,000 in tax breaks over 10 years to the operators of a music venue in Silver Spring and give the property owner the green light to develop the surrounding site for up to 15 years, triple the usual period.
Leggett (D) reached agreement in January with music producer Live Nation to open one of its Fillmore venues at the site of the former J.C. Penney store on Colesville Road. The site is owned by the Lee Development Group, and the $13.5 million music hall deal depends on Lee's donation of the land in exchange for a measure of protection for the company to build on its adjacent property.
* From Marc Fisher's blog Raw Fisher comes word that the battle over whether to build a soccer stadium for D.C. United at Poplar Point will move today beyond the rhetorical and into the realm of legal quicksand, as a coalition of green groups serves legal notice on five governmental entities that they are about to be sued big-time.
The Earth Conservation Corps, the Anacostia and Potomac Riverkeepers, the Sierra Club, D.C. ACORN and the Friends of the Earth have teamed with an arm of Georgetown University's law school to take the first step in a federal lawsuit against the National Park Service, the Navy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Architect of the Capitol and the D.C. government to halt any move toward developing 40 acres of national parkland along the Anacostia River into the $2.5 billion retail, office and sports complex that the D.C. government envisions for the site.
"We're looking to use any method possible to preserve that land for people," says Glen O'Gilvie, president of the Earth Conservation Corps, a District-based group that advocates for the river and trains Washington youths to do environmental work.
"This action says, 'Clean the parkland up now, before any development starts,' " says Erik Bluemel, a lawyer at Georgetown's Institute for Public Representation, which is handling the case for the green groups. As a result of the groups' action and the legal fight to follow, "we're looking at a many-year time frame before any shovel could hit the ground."
* The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by W.R. Grace in a criminal case brought by the government over the company's alleged release of asbestos from a Montana mine, according to the Associated Press.
Federal prosecutors charged the company and six executives in February 2005 with violating the Clean Air Act by releasing asbestos from a vermiculite mine in Libby, Mont., even though they allegedly were aware of its dangers.
The justices' decision, without comment, allows the government's case to go to trial.
W.R. Grace, of Columbia, argues that the Environmental Protection Agency's definition of asbestos doesn't cover most of the substances taken from the mine. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula, Mont., agreed with the company, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned that ruling.
* Verizon Communications said Monday it might withhold work from some of its contractors if it finds that immigrant laborers who dug ditches for the company's next-generation fiber-optic cables in the Washington area were not paid for their work.
The statement by Verizon came after advocates for immigrants said they would rally in front of the company's District headquarters today, calling on the company to ensure that the laborers were paid fairly for their work.
"If it is true that workers are not being paid by subcontractors . . . Verizon will take the proper course of action," Sandra Arnette, a Verizon spokeswoman, said in a statement. She added that these actions may include "withholding work from the prime contractor, suspending the prime contractor until the contractual obligations are met or firing the prime contractor."
Representatives for the three groups pressing the workers' cause -- Silver Spring-based CASA of Maryland, the District-based Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and the Charlottesville-based Legal Aid Justice Center -- said they would press ahead with their planned protests.
"Verizon has known about these problems for some time," said Tim Freilich, a lawyer with the Justice Center's Immigrant Advocacy Program. "They need to ensure payment now."
June 24, 2008; 6:24 AM ET
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