DeMorning DeBonis: April 29, 2011

TODAY IS APRIL 29, 2011 — DAY 114 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

PREVIOUSLY — Leon Swain’s firing fulfilled Gray promise to cab industry

Why did Leon Swain, D.C. Taxicab Commission chairman and fearless federal informant, get a pink slip from Mayor Vincent C. Gray? At Loose Lips, Alan Suderman suggests that Marion Barry has his eye on appointing his old taxi czar from the ’90s, Novell Sullivan, who was active on the Gray campaign. But if you take it from Larry Frankel, a prominent cab organizer, the firing was simply the fulfillment of a campaign promise Gray made. Firing Swain was one of three pledges, he said; the others were to institute a gasoline surcharge — which Gray did last month — and to appoint three industry representatives to the eight-member Taxicab Commission. Why was Swain so hated? It was the aggressive hack inspectors, Frankel said: “It seemed to be a private police force that Mr. Swain was in charge of. ... This man was not easily reined in. He was a renegade or a maverick.” Swain has another theory, too: He was starting to take a hard line on cab drivers’ and cab companies’ tax returns.

NOTA BENE — Tune into the Politics Hour on WAMU-FM at noon where I’ll be joining host Kojo Nnamdi and fellow guest analyst Dorothy Brizill. Guests include Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

AFTER THE JUMP — Marion Barry’s manifest destiny — sole gun dealer is temporarily out of business — CFSA is still a mess, IG finds — DCPS teacher who allegedly impregnated student had a history

*** MAIN COURSE ***

DRAWING A LINE — Today in the not-a-column, a look at Marion Barry’s redistricting wishes: “Barry would like to polish the Ward 8 brand by going west — redrawing its boundaries to include what are now revitalizing parts of Ward 6, just across the Anacostia River. Call it manifest destiny, Marion Barry-style. ‘What we need is diversity,’ Barry said. “We need economic diversity; we need racial diversity.’ There’s a reason he mentioned ‘economic diversity’ first. Barry is eyeing the portions of Ward 6 that he’s eyeing — the Southwest Waterfront and the area in Southeast near Nationals Park — in part because they happen to be home to some of the largest-scale development efforts the city has ever seen. ‘As soon as this bill is signed, the Akridges and the Deborah [Ratner Salzbergs] and others, they’ll be part of Ward 8,’ he said, referring to two prominent developers who are active in the ballpark area. ‘So when they go to a meeting somewhere, they’ll talk about the Yards’ — a major project by Salzberg’s Forest City Washington — ‘and they’ll say the Yards are in Ward 8. People will get an instant change of perception.’” And, of course, they’ll want to “give back” to Ward 8 (even though many of them already do). But Barry’s wishes have run into serious opposition in Ward 6. Said one resident at a Monday hearing: “If we are absorbed into Ward 7 or Ward 8, we will not solve Ward 7 or Ward 8’s problems.” The fab JDLand has more.

ALLEGED DCPS PREDATOR HAD A HISTORY — Disturbing: “The attorney for an emotionally disabled former D.C. public school student who says she became pregnant during a relationship with a teacher in 2009 said Thursday that four other women have come forward to report that the same instructor had inappropriate sexual contact with them when they were students in other school systems,” Bill Turque reports in the Post. The allegations appear in a federal lawsuit filed by Ayanna Blue, who attended Transition Academy at Shadd and accused teacher Robert Weismiller of impregnating her. The other four women say they were assaulted by Weismiller as far back as the 1970s in various suburban jurisdictions. “D.C. school officials did not respond to questions about what kind of background checks were performed when Weismiller was hired. Blue also has spoken out for the first time, to Bill, and to WUSA-TV, WJLA-TV, WAMU-FM and WTTG-TV.

CFSA STILL NEEDS WORK — A new inspector general’s report has found ongoing problems at the Child and Family Services Agency, Freeman Klopott reports in the Examiner. Investigators “found morale remained low at CFSA, case loads for social workers are still too high, and there is too much pressure to close cases quickly, all of which erodes care for the city’s vulnerable youths. ‘The children are endangered if these issues go unresolved,’ D.C. inspector general spokesman Roger Burke told The Washington Examiner on Thursday. ... The inspector general made 23 recommendations to improve the system. Key among them was improving the city’s child abuse hot line so investigators spend less time on frivolous cases. In one case, a father reported that his child’s mother was spending child support dollars improperly, the report said. The father’s complaint was sent to an investigator, even though there was no report of neglect or abuse, the inspector general wrote. An investigator then had to meet with the family and school. ... The inspector general also recommended rewriting District regulations to give case workers more time to close cases. The current 30-day time frame makes investigations ‘superficial in nature because the social worker’s main objective is to determine a disposition for the case rather than arranging and coordinating care,’ the report said.”

CONTRACTOR SUES DDOT — The contractor tasked with rehabbing the 14th Street Bridge wants a time extension and $5 million extra, Michael Neibauer reports at WBJ — and Martins Construction is blaming DDOT for the problems. A contract appeal “alleges DDOT was completely unprepared for the 14th Street Bridge work. The D.C. agency, for example, had failed to coordinate with the Virginia Department of Transportation, which required a speed reduction permit and three days notice to motorists before work could begin, the appeal argues. That accounted for a 17-day delay. Martins also claims that DDOT failed to obtain a permit from the National Park Service for work on the water or on NPS property until July 20, 2009, that it specified the wrong type of turbidity curtain (it’s a device to contain and control muddiness created by stirring up sediment), and that it rejected, then accepted four months later, Martins’ proposed method for demolishing pier cladding. This list of complaints goes on for 17 pages.”

NO GUNS FOR YOU (TEMPORARILY) — District residents can’t register guns right now, WTOP’s Mark Segraves reports, because the one guy with a license to transfer guns bought outside the city is moving his office: “Since the lifting of the handgun ban in June 2008, Charles Sykes has processed more than 1,000 handguns for District residents. Sykes tells WTOP he’s stopped taking orders for now. ‘I’ve lost my lease,’ Sykes said in a phone interview. ‘I’ll take care of the customers who already placed orders, but I don’t want to take any more until I know where I will reopen.’ Sykes is the sole proprietor of C S Exchange, the only licensed firearm dealer in the city that will transfer guns for individuals. Sykes doesn’t sell the guns — there are no gun stores in D.C. His company facilitates the transfer of guns from out of state stores into the District for a fee of $125 per gun.” It could take months for Sykes to move, and the Heller plaintiffs’ lawyer is threatening to sue over it.

*** SMALL PLATES ***

”A council source said [Judy Banks] is expected to say she ‘remembered incorrectly’ when she’s quizzed on Friday” (Examiner)

“I ask that the Council not draw any negative inference regarding my client’s decision,” says Glenn Ivey (WaTimes)

What hath the special election wrought? (Four26)

Does Donald Trump have his eye on the Old Post Office Pavilion? (Housing Complex)

Yvette Alexander to constituents: How dare they call us “needy and poor” (WaTimes)

Why Gray’s tax withholding gimmick is a bad idea (DCFPI)

Georgetown loves Patrick Mara (G’town Metropolitan, Patch)

D.C. vs. Congress, on PBS (NewsHour)

Landlords discriminate against vouchers, nonprofit finds (Post)

Could suburban redevelopment harm downtown’s vibrancy? (Examiner)

Ross Elementary auction features lunch with Michelle Rhee, lunch with Kaya Henderson (Borderstan)

Metro budget outlook improves (Examiner)

OAG lawyers lose legal dispute over arbitration — but Irv Nathan has “made overtures in trying to settle” (Legal Times)

Ra-Heem Jackson remembered at poetry slam (Examiner)

Radio One heads to Silver Spring, not D.C. (Post)

Know your street trees (GGW)

Gagged Washington peers over U Street NW (DCist)

PPP future for streetcar system? (Housing Complex)

S.C. DYRS escapee was collared in Laurel (WaTimes)

Clyde’s getting $4.5 million from downtown TIF (Housing Complex)

Sharp new Blade web site (Blade)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray breakfasts with Consortium for Child Welfare, 8:30 a.m. at National Press Club; appears at Duke Ellington Park concert/celebration, 4 p.m. at New Hampshire Avenue and M Street NW — Gray hiring hearing, featuring Judy Banks, 3:30 p.m. in JAWB 500

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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