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Posted at 10:18 AM ET, 04/22/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: April 22, 2011

TODAY IS APRIL 22, 2011 — DAY 107 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

PREVIOUSLY — Gray responds to GOP abortion letter with Fenty slamCampaign attacks to hit mailboxes during D.C. Council race’s closing weekend

Still no answers on how and why Charlie Sheen managed to get an MPD escort from Dulles Airport to his Tuesday gig at DAR Constitution Hall. But you should read Mary Pat Flaherty and Paul Duggan’s A1 Post story for the lede alone: “Sheen, who likes to say, ‘I’m an F-18, bro,’ was moving at a decidedly subsonic speed Tuesday evening as he motored to Washington from Dulles International Airport. Still, 80 mph in a sport-utility vehicle is pretty fast. ... But you might wonder: Who authorized the D.C. police escort — at least two marked cars with emergency lights blazing — that helped the fired sitcom star and his entourage hurry into the District? How important or famous must one be — how much tiger blood and Adonis DNA must one possess — to rate a police motorcade in the nation’s capital?” Here is the closest the Post has come to an answer: Assistant Chief Lamar Greene, head of the MPD homeland security bureau, “said Thursday that he had not personally looked into the Sheen matter. ‘I know, of course, there’s a lot of inquiries floating around about it,’ he said, adding that the department ‘has put together a fact sheet that will pretty much answer any- and everything you guys need to know.’ Was the escort proper? ‘Oh, yes,’ Greene said without elaborating. Asked about the fact sheet, [spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump] said: ‘Oh, that’s an internal document. That’s not something we’re putting out.’” Chief Cathy Lanier tells WTTG-TV: “I have asked Internal Affairs to investigate because from what the allegation is, it is not something authorized by the Metropolitan Police Department. ... We don’t do escorts of celebrities.”

AFTER THE JUMP — groups move to prevent congressional move against gay marriage — youth arrested for murder still at large after S.C. escape — more special election endorsements — no streetcars till 2012 — Fenty only mayor not to sign Obama letter

*** MAIN COURSE ***

GAY MARRIAGE NEXT? — In the Washington Blade, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports on potential attempts on Capitol Hill to end same-sex marriages in the District: “Some congressional insiders are speculating that same-sex marriage opponents on the Hill may attempt to attach a rider calling for repeal of the D.C. marriage law to legislation next month needed to raise the federal debt ceiling. Such legislation is deemed crucial by most lawmakers and the White House. Traditionally, federal debt ceiling bills have not been used as a vehicle for social riders, but some Hill observers have speculated that conservative GOP lawmakers may make an exception to that practice this year.” Local and national gay-rights groups are working to keep that from happening. “R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said his group has already begun urging moderate and conservative Republicans in Congress to oppose any effort to repeal D.C.’s same-sex marriage law. Cooper said he has learned from conversations with congressional GOP staffers as well as members that most Republicans don’t favor a messy fight over D.C.’s gay marriage law. ... ‘This whole thing is limited so far to a handful of House members,’ Cooper said, in discussing supporters of overturning D.C.’s marriage law. ... But he acknowledges that GOP leaders, including Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) are coming under great pressure from the social conservative faction of the party to take up social issues, including the marriage issue.”

ESCAPES BRING HEAT ON RTCs — Three of the four DYRS-committed youth who escaped from a South Carolina residential treatment center have been caught. The fourth remains at large, Allison Klein reports in the Post; Jim Graham tells her the teen had been charged with murder. “One of the teens who was recaptured had escaped from two other facilities, Graham said. Another was sent to the center for a destruction of property charge and the third for reckless driving, he said. It was unclear why those two were placed in the South Carolina facility. Officials declined to say how the teens escaped or how three were caught.” MPD has since identified the missing youth as Treyvon Cortez Carey, 18, and released a photo. Graham tells the Washington Times and the Examiner that incident in Summerville, N.C., “underscores the need for us to re-examine and analyze the use of residential-treatment facilities outside of the District of Columbia.” Also in the Examiner, police union chief Kris Baumann goes there: “How will a senator from South Carolina explain to his constituents that this city deserves autonomy when it lets dangerous kids run loose?” Meanwhile, the Blade reports, Lanier and city prosecutors are looking to improvements in the “flawed” juvenile justice system to address a rise in anti-gay hate crimes: “The strict privacy rules required under D.C.’s juvenile justice laws often prevent D.C. police from properly investigating crimes of violence by sometimes barring them from questioning youth charged in crimes.”

POST: ANDERSON, PANNELL FOR SBOE — The Post editorial board offers its picks for State Board of Education seats. In Ward 8: “Trayon White, a community activist whose nonprofit is doing interesting work with inner-city youth, was mentored by [the late William Lockridge] and has been endorsed by his widow as well as by D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D). Mr. White has insights into the problems confronted by students in Ward 8 schools, but his ideas about direct intervention are more in keeping with the ways of the old board than with current needs. A better choice is longtime activist Philip Pannell, who combines a keen knowledge of Southeast neighborhoods with a broad view on policy.” In Ward 4: “D. Kamili Anderson stands out with an appealing blend of firsthand experience and expertise in education policy. ... Ms. Anderson has a background rich in academic scholarship on topics such as at-risk youth and diversity in higher education. She speaks eloquently about the need for rigor and accountability and says traditional schools need to be as innovative as successful charters.”

MORE FOR MARA — Harry Jaffe uses his Examiner column to tell you “send the bums a message” next Tuesday by voting for Patrick Mara. “This election stands out as a perfect opportunity for D.C. voters to say business as usual by the Democrats who have been running the city since the dawn of Home Rule is over. No more sweetheart contracts. Real consequences for shoddy ethics. True transparency. ... We deserve a clean, freshly minted political leader. The Democratic front-runner, Vincent Orange, is a captain in the old guard. He looks and sounds like a snake oil salesman; during his stint on the council he was in bed with developers. For Orange, money talks.” Also: “We need a council member who’s not a Democrat. The Home Rule Charter calls for two council members who are not from the dominant party, yet we exist in a Soviet-style, one-party state.” And: “With the GOP running Congress, we could use a bridge to the right side.” Georgetown Dish proprietor Beth Solomon is also a Mara fan: “ The District government is in desperate need of fresh thinking. While all the major candidates for the D.C. Council at-large election to be decided Tuesday are qualified, gracious, and equipped for leadership positions in local government, only one candidate has the independence to offer a counterweight to the District’s crippling one-party state. ... Mara understands that we need to advocate more effectively on behalf of the District in the offices of Republicans who will continue to play a significant role in national politics, influencing our local affairs.”

MORE FOR WEAVER — The Greater Greater Washington endorsement goes to Bryan Weaver. Jamie Scott writes: “His commitment to youth issues is needed at a critical moment for juvenile justice in the city. ... On taxes, Weaver has been the most forward thinking. He supports creating a six-tiered income tax system that will more equitably distribute the tax burden in the city. ... Weaver has been similarly forward thinking on tax abatements and new development in the city. As an ANC commissioner in Adams Morgan, he worked with developers to provide tangible community benefits in exchange for a $46 million tax abatement. ... On education, Weaver recognizes the disparity between the highest and lowest performing schools. He believes the city should provide incentives for the highest performing teachers to teach at the lowest performing schools. ... There have been many scandals in the city council over the past few months, and Weaver would be an independent voice.” And, oh yes: “Weaver is a supporter of multimodal transportation and livable communities.” Almost forgot.

STREETCARS IN 2012 — D.C. is a year-and-a-half away from seeing streetcars on its streets. Lydia DePills reports at Housing Complex: “The 2012 budget doesn’t include operating dollars, which means that trolleys won’t start trundling down those tracks until fiscal year 2013, or late 2012 in regular people years. In between, there’s a lot more work to be done. Power substations have to be installed on District-owned land behind the kiosk library at Spingarn High School and at 12th and H NE (the last will be temporary; a permanent station will be incorporated into the redevelopment of the Autozone site.) Though this phase will use overhead wires, in order to comply with legislation passed last summer, DDOT has to issue a request for proposals for streetcars that can run for at least a mile without them. The agency also has to solicit bids for an operations and maintenance contract, expected to cost between $3 million and $4 million annually. Perhaps the largest remaining hurdle: Reaching an agreement with Amtrak over the eventual terminus at Union Station. They’ll need to by the end of the summer, if DDOT is to hit its late-2012 deadline–but [streetcar coordinator Scott Kubly] is optimistic that things will work out.” More at GGW — including some skepticism on how streetcar service will interact with existing bus lines.

FENTY NO-SIGN — Former Mayor Sharon Pratt wrote a letter to President Obama formally asking him to put “Taxation Without Representation” license plates on his limousine: “Although a seemingly modest gesture for a man who has consistently sided with the voices of freedom and championed the causes of human dignity, the action affirms your alliance with President Abraham Lincoln when he said ‘Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.’” The AP reports that Pratt attempted to deliver the letter directly to the White House, but the Secret Service informed her that she would have to put it in the mail. The letter is signed by Mayor Vincent Gray, Mary Washington, widow of Walter Washington, as well as former mayors Marion Barry and Anthony Williams. Noticeably absent, WTOP’s Mark Plotkin reports, was the signature of former mayor Adrian Fenty. Pratt, according to Plotkin, “repeatedly called him, left e-mails, tried in every modern form of communication to get a hold of him, and he chose to not even respond.”

EARLIER BRUNCH? — At a Council hearing, residents and lobbyist react to the Gray’s budget suggestion that package liquor sales hours be extended to midnight and the sales tax be raised to 10 percent — plus a new proposal to allow Sunday booze sales to start two hours earlier, at 8 a.m. Jessica Gould reports for Washingtonian: “Taken together, [Jim Graham] says the proposals would raise $6.3 million in 2012. And the councilmember says he already has plans in mind for some of the additional funds. The mayor’s budget would eliminate $499,000 from the city’s ‘reimbursable detail’ program, which helps liquor licensees contract with off-duty police officers to patrol the areas outside their establishments. ... Still, the booze-business reps at the hearing had mixed responses to the proposals. Ed Sands, co-owner of Calvert Woodley Liquor, said a sales-tax increase would slice profits at his upscale wine-and-spirits store. He said his store has already lost 54,434 customers since the last sales-tax hike in 2003. And Andrew Kline, representing the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, said the prospect of higher taxes would push party planners to move events from the District to the suburbs, where the taxes are lower. Some residents said they worried about the impact of later sales hours on peace, order, and quiet—and about the safety of shopkeepers tending their stores after dark. ... But the stakeholders were more sanguine when it came to the new rules for Sunday sales.”

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE — Michelle Rhee is among the Time 100 — that is, “the most influential people in the world ... artists and activists, reformers and researchers, heads of state and captains of industry” whose “ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes even revolution.” Davis Guggenheim, director of “Waiting for Superman,” writes her up: “Rhee has distinguished herself by her single-mindedness and her dedication to kids. Anyone who works in the political world quickly learns that personalities and competing agendas have a way of devouring people’s best intentions. Not Rhee’s. She set a goal to improve the lot of the nation’s students, and she has stuck to that. And she paid dearly for it, stepping down from her D.C. post in 2010 after Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his bid for re-election, a public rejection that some saw as a repudiation of the tough steps Rhee took to raise the standards of the city’s public schools.”

STAND TALL — Trish Vradenburg, “D.C. 41” arrestee, writer and wife of philanthropist George Vradenburg, recalls her lockup in a Huffington Post piece: “Jail was truly dehumanizing. They take away you license, your Blackberry, your Armani mascara. No longer a name, I was reduced to # 12. And they didn’t even serve food. We were there for 10 hours so I was expecting a buffet. All we got was water and a port-a-potty. # 11 wrestled me for the one cough drop I had smuggled in. She was 6 ft-1 and in good shape so I didn’t stand a chance. ... What they did enforce was that there would be no fraternizing between women and men. I have no idea what they thought would happen. No one was contemplating dating.”

*** SMALL PLATES ***

Special-election candidates pursue the LGBT vote (Blade)

Breaking down the at-large endorsements (DCist)

Did you know Kendrick Meek’s wife is a D.C. administrative law judge? And she wants to be a Superior Court judge? (Legal Times)

Josh Lopez’s sharp campaign web ad (Four26)

Wal-Mart foes want “a living wage ($12.50 an hour) to transit benefits ($50 per employee per month) to parking minimums (up to 2.5 free or low-cost spaces per 1,000 square feet of building space).” They couldn’t tell Wal-Mart directly, though. (WBJ, Post)

Council members stand against bullying (Examiner, WAMU-FM)

Gray “testy” over bike question? (Examiner blog)

Real Pain I: Cuts to Interim Disability Assistance (DCFPI)

Real Pain II: Cuts to domestic violence services (TBD)

David Catania wants Medicaid MCOs to hire workers to stand in ERs, sending non-emergency patients to clinics (WBJ)

Wone defendants want to force MPD detectives to testify in civil case (Blade)

GGW readers’ most popular redistricting moves (GGW)

Ward 2 crews beef in Ward 1 (Crime Scene)

Washington Harbour tenants sue landlord over flooding (WBJ, WaTimes)

More accounts from firefighters trapped in Northeast blaze (Post, WUSA-TV, WRC-TV)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Happy Earth Day, Good Friday, Easter — no public events for Gray — no events for the D.C. Council

By  |  10:18 AM ET, 04/22/2011

 
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