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Posted at 11:01 AM ET, 08/03/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 3, 2011

TODAY IS AUG. 3, 2011 — DAY 213 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

PREVIOUSLY — Another Kevin Chavous eyes Ward 7 D.C. Council seat

Classroom-level test data is out for the District’s public schools, with all eyes on how those schools implicated in cheating accusations might have responded. “In a few cases, the plunge recorded through the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System was especially stark,” Nick Anderson reports in The Post. “At Noyes Education Campus in Northeast Washington, the pass rate in reading dropped more than 25 percentage points, to 32 percent, and the pass rate in math dropped more than 20 points, to 28 percent.” At other schools under scrutiny, results were mixed: “At Leckie, pass rates slid slightly this year in both subjects. At C.W. Harris, there was a two-point uptick in the reading pass rate, to 21 percent, and an eight-point drop in math, to 8 percent.” Do note: “Test scores can rise and fall from year to year for various reasons, including teacher and student turnover. What is unclear is whether heightened test security this year played a role in changing results at those three schools or others where student answer sheets from years past have shown unusually high rates of erasures.” In other news, the Examiner’s Lisa Gartner notes that 52 DCPS and charter schools met federal “adequate yearly progress” standards this year, 15 more than last. “But an increasing number of schools were deemed needing improvement, and the achievement gap between white students and minority groups remained in D.C. Public Schools, which lagged the city’s charter schools.”

AFTER THE JUMP — Gray pocket-vetoes bond tax delay — Sherwood says action is needed on ethics — Post editorial takes issue with union noise — Jonetta Rose Barras won’t let tax botch go — Dan Snyder may have a point

*** MAIN COURSE ***

FLASH — Mayor Vincent C. Gray has declined to sign the council’s last-minute adjustment to the fiscal 2012 budget that would delay a new tax on municipal bonds for one year by dipping into funds reserved for savings, Michael Neibauer reports at WBJ. He includes this statement from spokeswoman Doxie McCoy: “The Mayor did not sign the [Budget Support Act] emergency bill due to his concerns about the bond tax amendment and its potential negative impact on the reserve funds and the District’s rating on Wall Street. Note, the Council has time to act on this legislation before the fiscal year begins in October and the temporary BSA has had only a first reading.” Mary Cheh is ticked: “If that’s their justification ... it’s so hollow as to be laughable.”

DO SOMETHING — WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood writes in his Notebook: “As a political entity, the citizens of the city are entitled — no, obligated — to weigh in on the Thomas affair. It’s one thing for citizens to await action by the U.S. attorney, but that doesn’t mean the city’s political establishment can’t act or that the judicial process has to play out before the political system acts. Thomas, by agreeing to pay back $300,000, is acknowledging that he did something wrong, legal niceties aside. Yet he will continue to serve as a council member, earn his $125,000-a-year salary and vote on the issues that come before the D.C. Council. We all must await the criminal process, adhering to the legal “innocent until proven guilty,” but again that is not an excuse for inaction by Thomas’s fellow council members. First and foremost, some believe the council should consider and vote on emergency legislation that would require Thomas to disclose any contributors to his new legal defense fund.”

‘LESS COWBELL’ — The Post editorial board has a bone to pick with noisy downtown labor protests: “Workers can’t concentrate, it’s impossible to meet with clients, and stores and services report a drop-off in business. Never mind the effects on those poor souls who moved downtown because they believed the city’s promise that it was a good place to make a home. ... ‘It is what it is,’ D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) told us when we asked why officials couldn’t find a solution to the problem. He said past attempts to tighten the noise ordinance have run afoul of the First Amendment. Baloney. Other cities have been able to enact reasonable noise control laws that protect the public peace while preserving the right to protest. No one is suggesting that the union protests can’t continue, only that they proceed without the ruckus of bells, drums, whistles and other noisemakers. ... These pickets are no more free speech than incessant car horn-honking. The refusal of city officials to enact reasonable protections is something that will give pause to firms thinking about moving into the District.”

‘CONTROL BOARD RELIC’ — Jonetta Rose Barras uses the recordation tax controversy to take another whack at CFO Natwar Gandhi, noting that the Office of Tax and Revenue seemingly decided to change tacks on the 2001 tax law in 2007: “It’s unclear why OTR lawyers decided to reinterpret the statute. But if there was a problem, Gandhi was obligated to take his concerns to the council — the only local government entity authorized to change District laws. He didn’t alert legislators until this year. ... ‘He believes he is all-powerful,’ said [David Catania], calling Gandhi’s decision to stop collecting the tax a ‘control board-esque act. [He’s] nothing but a control board relic.’ ... Gandhi’s apparent unilateral decision to stop complying with an existing law provides fodder for those critics who already characterize him as imperial and impervious. For my taste, he spends too much time playing politics and not enough focused on improving the internal operations of the city’s financial management system. But, politicos and others with whom he has ingratiated himself have helped fashion his Teflon armor.”

JACK’S RICHES — More campaign finance news: Jack Evans has raised $143,000, per Loose Lips, leading all candidates. And Tom Howell Jr. rounds up all the reports: “Among the hundreds of contributors documented in the reports, certain newsmakers and persons of influence spread their money around to multiple candidates. Joe Mamo, whose control over numerous gas stations in the District is threatened by anti-monopoly legislation before the council’s Committee on Government Operations, donated $500 each to [Yvette Alexander], [Muriel Bowser] and [Michael Brown] through his company, Dag Petroleum of Springfield. ... Emmanuel Bailey, a Maryland businessman who oversees a joint venture that runs the D.C. Lottery, donated $500 to Ms. Alexander and Ms. Bowser. His company, Veteran Services Corp. (VSC), provided $500 more to each of the women. Additionally, VSC Chairwoman Barbara Bailey donated $500 to Ms. Bowser, and its executive vice president, Rebecca Mattingly, donated $100 to Ms. Alexander.”

SLAPP IN THE FACE — Does Dan Snyder have a point when his lawyers argue that the the D.C. Council has no ability to make an anti-SLAPP law? Well, he just might. Via Erik Wemple : “ ‘The reach of the Home Rule Act is a very good argument,’ says Steven Schneebaum, a partner at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP and author of an article on D.C. courts. ‘The Home Rule Act restricts the ability of the city council to tinker with the jurisdiction or the procedures of the D.C. courts.’ Hold on here: Doesn’t Congress approve every law passed by the District, including the anti-SLAPP bill? Indeed, but Schneebaum says that’s a weak basis on which to defend the constitutionality of the anti-SLAPP law. ... ‘Arguing that by not disapproving it, Congress has implicitly changed — implicitly amended provisions of the Home Rule Act [regarding the courts] — that’s rather a stretch.’ ”

*** SMALL PLATES ***

In deal on false impersonation charge, Chuck Brodsky agrees to diversion program (the Examiner)

Police exploring whether attacks on transgender residents are connected, hate-motivated (The Post, WAMU-FM, DCist)

What “NIMBY” means (Housing Complex)

Why I don’t want a homeless shelter in my back yard (GGW)

Judge: City on the hook for wrongful revocation of man’s parole (Legal Times)

Catch your Megabuses and Bolt Buses at Union Station (WAMU-FM)

“[C]ould it be possible that the most fiery race could take place in Ward 8?” (DCist)

Got a warrant? Surrender safely next three Saturdays (CHotR)

Obama appoints Nancy Ware, former executive director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, to run CSOSA (Legal Times)

And Catherine Easterly of Public Defender Services nominated to federal appeals bench (Legal Times)

“Bring back the Oklahoma Avenue Metro Station” (Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space)

Knights of Columbus to buy Pope John Paul II Cultural Center (The Post, Detroit Free Press)

Trial lawyer Patrick Regan talks about the David Rosenbaum case: “Today if you need an ambulance in DC, it is a much safer, much more efficient system.” (Washingtonian)

Yes, ticket writers get assaulted (TBD)

Lights out at Prettyman (Legal Times)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray cuts ribbon on Guy Mason Recreation Center and holds weekly news briefing, 10 a.m. at Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert St. NW; attends Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute closing ceremony, 12:30 p.m. at Howard University Blackburn Center, 2397 6th St. NW.

By  |  11:01 AM ET, 08/03/2011

 
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