TODAY IS APRIL 26, 2011 — DAY 111 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
PREVIOUSLY — D.C. IG report finds faults in fire truck donation, two years later — Vincent Orange and the mystery of ‘Cleopatia Smiles’ — Absentee voting heralds lower black turnout in D.C. special election
Polls are now open in the first citywide special election since 1997. If you haven’t cast your vote yet, some late-breaking information you might want to consider: The Examiner endorsed Patrick Mara, hours before polls open — and after about 2,500 absentee voters already cast ballots.. Vincent Orange’s campaign finance reports have some interesting entries. David Catania recorded a robocall for Sekou Biddle. Orange supporter Sandra Seegars made Biddle’s white wife a campaign issue. Harry Jaffe says that Mara’s run is a last gasp for the D.C. Republican Committee. Mara has sided with residents against the American University campus plan. And an Orange win “would mean four colors in office, constituting every one of them who’s ever served,” GGW calculates. Still undecided? You might also want to consult voter guides from DCist, Patch, the D.C. Progressive Alliance, or The Georgetown Voice. Meanwhile: WUSA-TV asks: “Will Anybody Show Up For The Special DC Council Race?”
AFTER THE JUMP — what are Biddle’s colleagues doing for him anyway? — the truth about MPD escorts — IG issues fishy fire truck report — 15 years ago, Congress gave us charter schools
*** MAIN COURSE ***
FRIENDS LIKE THESE — At D.C. Wire, Tim Craig asks what all those council endorsements end up meaning for Biddle. Answer seems to be: not much. “So what are the council members who support Biddle doing to help their colleague in his matchup against [Orange] and seven other candidates? Turns out, not much. And one of them even appears to be working for the opposition. On Monday, residents in Ward 7 received a robo-call from [Yvette Alexander] asking them to support Orange. And interviews with five of the eight other council members who support Biddle reveal that many of them won’t be spending the next 24 hours heavily working their wards or contact lists trying to round up support for their endorsed candidate. It’s not that they aren’t willing to help, some say. Instead, several indicated that they haven’t been asked to do much. Take [Mary Cheh], who won reelection last year with 60 percent of the vote and represents vote-rich Ward 3. In an interview, Cheh said she’s been attending house parties for Biddle but wasn’t out campaigning for him over the weekend. ‘He didn’t ask me to do anything,’ she said.” More on Alexander’s flip at Loose Lips.
D.C. GOP’S DO-OR-DIE MOMENT — More from Jaffe, in the Examiner: “The political climate has brought us the perfect storm to elect a Republican. Will it be a momentary squall or a sustained change in weather? Republicans will answer that today: If they show up and vote for Patrick Mara, he can win; if they can’t be bothered and ignore the race, it will be blue skies forever for the Democrats. ... Mara and the local party are trying to reach voters one by one. Mara’s right hand is cramped from signing so many personal notes to likely voters. Every night volunteers gather at the Republican National Committee headquarters to use the national party’s sophisticated phone system to personally urge members to vote. Will they? ... [I]f Republicans don’t show up, this moment will be lost — for decades, perhaps forever.”
LAST WORD ON THE FISHY FIRE TRUCK — More than two years after Mike Neibauer came across the word “Peaceoholics” in his weekly Register reading, the Office of the Inspector General has issued a report on the donation of a fire truck and ambulance to a Dominican seaside town via the controversial nonprofit. As I note: “It mostly reiterates the findings of an earlier D.C. Council investigation, but the report offers new and pointed criticism of several officials — including Fenty’s development director, David Jannarone; his general counsel, Andrew ‘Chip’ Richardson; and Deputy Fire Chief Ronald Gill Jr.” Sinclair Skinner, at the center of the donation scheme, issued a statement: “Hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars were used to investigate the donation of an out-dated fire truck and ambulance to a developing country. This is the real misuse of government resources we should be angry about.” Loose Lips characterizes the findings as “some minor misdemeanors.” The Examiner alights on this line: “The lack of proper oversight allowed private parties ... inappropriately to influence the activities of District government employees. ... This further resulted in a waste of District government resources.” Also NBCWashington.com and WAMU-FM.
‘WE SHOULD NOT DO ESCORTS FOR ANY AND EVERY BODY’ — Latest on Charlie Sheen and his MPD escort: The Examiner and AP report on an e-mail sent by Commander Hilton Burton, who commands the Special Operations Division, to his subordinates demanding information on the Sheen escort. From AP: “In response to Hilton Burton a series of written questions about the escort, Burton told subordinates in the e-mail, ‘This is why we should not do escorts for any and every body.’ Burton also demanded to know the cost of the escort, the ‘law that allows us to do it,’ where the escort came from and whether security was provided during the show. He also asked if Sheen was given an escort after the show. Burton also asked, ‘Who approved it?’ However, it was unclear if he was referring to security at the show or the escort.” The Examiner’s Freeman Klopott confirms that police escorted the New York Rangers out of town after their season-ending loss to the Capitals on Saturday. He notes: “The police escort was just one day after D.C. police Chief Cathy Lanier said in a statement that ‘our written policy states that police vehicles shall be used for escort duty only for the purpose of providing security for the president and vice president of the United States and such visiting heads of state or their representatives who may require extra-ordinary protective measures.’” Jalopnik links to documents shared by the Partnership for Civil Justice, showing that MPD broke its own internal rules by using lights and sirens outside of the District for a nonemergency.
15 YEARS OF CHARTER SCHOOLS — The Washington Times, in an editorial, celebrates the 15th anniversary of the passage of D.C. charter school legislation: “When the reform act passed in 1996, one out of two high-school students dropped out before graduation. Conventional wisdom held that the District’s kids, mostly hailing from bad parts of town, were just too poor and stupid to do any better. Today, charter schools in the worst neighborhoods - drawing from the same population as nearby public schools - put that soft bigotry to shame as they consistently outperform their DCPS counterparts, despite having fewer institutional resources. ... Allowing parents to create and pursue better choices for their children’s education should be expanded in Washington and replicated in school systems across the country. The success of charter schools tends to be measured in terms of rising test scores, higher graduation rates and fewer instances of violence. However, the best measure of success is the number of children whose lives have been irrevocably changed for the better because their parents were given the choice.”
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Cheh is having a hard time serving Sulaimon Brown (WAMU-FM)
Cabbie kicks out gay couple for kissing (Post)
What Vivek Kundra’s up to these days (Capital Business)
Is Broad Branch Road closing the beginning of another Klingle-like battle? (Housing Complex)
Teen stabs teen at National Zoo event (Post)
Our bridges are fine (WTOP)
Why anti-Wal-Mart group’s demands don’t really make sense (Housing Complex)
Preservation board refuses to protect Southeast deli (JDLand)
South Carolinians vent about RTC (WaTimes)
DNS testing backlog foils hunt for serial killer (City Desk)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray opens bakery, 10:30 a.m. at 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; launches DCRA Small Business Resource Center, 2 p.m. at 1100 4th St. SW; visits with D.C. Nurses Association, 3:15 p.m.; attends education forum at School Without Walls at Logan, 5:45 p.m. at 215 G St. NE; attends Convention Center Community Association meeting, 7 p.m. at Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 7th St. NW — no D.C. Council happenings — Cathy Lanier on NewsTalk, 10 a.m. on NewsChannel 8