TODAY IS JUNE 22, 2011 — DAY 172 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
TONIGHT — Go “Behind the Headlines” at a Washington Post town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Friendship Collegiate Academy High School. Colbert I. King will moderate a panel that includes Maudine Cooper of the Greater Washington Urban League; Jeff Franco of City Year D.C.; Mark Plotkin of WTOP radio; the Post’s Nikita Stewart and former Mayor Anthony Williams. Submit your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLASH — New revenue upgrades are in: $107 million in fiscal 2011; $77 million in fiscal 2012 — not quite enough to fund full Medicaid boost.
AND NOW — A moment of silence for the Tune Inn.
In the fourth and final installment of the new Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, Bill Turque and Scott Clement report that perceptions of the city’s public schools are improving. “A majority of D.C. public school parents give the system positive marks for the first time in a decade. ... Fully 53 percent of those with children in the public school system say the city’s 123 schools are doing a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ job, a sharp jump from January 2008, when 31 percent of parents expressed such approval. Former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, a divisive figure during her 3 1/2-year tenure, is viewed more favorably than she was before her resignation in October. The survey found that 55 percent of all D.C. adults — parents and others — approve of the job she did in office, up 11 percentage points from late last summer. The findings are consistent with other signs of slow but discernible progress in the 45,600-student system.” And now the bad news: “Despite the rising approval ratings among public school parents, the survey found views of the general public are still downright negative in some areas. About 60 percent of D.C. residents rate the public schools as ‘not so good’ or ‘poor.’ More than six in 10 see the system as doing a bad job in preparing students for college or the workplace.”
AFTER THE JUMP — Kaya Henderson confirmed, addresses cheating questions — ward redistricting plan is final — ethics bills galore — Vince Gray, talk show host — is Lanier too tough on her misbehaving officers?
*** MAIN COURSE ***
OPTIONS, OPTIONS — More from the poll: “This year, Congress approved an extension of a federal program that provides vouchers to help students from some low-income D.C. families attend private or parochial schools. The survey found that nearly 70 percent of parents with children in the system support such tuition aid. Overall, nearly two-thirds of residents back vouchers, with positive sentiment higher among African Americans. Residents remain ambivalent about the rapidly growing public charter sector, which serves 28,000 students. Forty-one percent consider the independently operated charters better than regular public schools; 42 percent say they are about the same. The favorable rating rises to a slight majority, however, among residents younger than 30.”
CHANCELLOR KAYA — The D.C. Council voted by acclamation Tuesday to confirm Kaya Henderson as DCPS chancellor. Valerie Strauss, meanwhile, would appreciate some “straight talk” from Henderson on cheating allegations: “The testing scandal looms large over the D.C. system, even if the chancellor and the council don’t want to talk about it.” That includes addressing whether former Noyes Elementary principal Wayne Ryan left DCPS due to the accusations. Here is what she told WTTG-TV yesterday: “We’re waiting to hear from the inspector general regarding his investigation. ... That being said, again, to flag seven or 10 out of 1,800 tested classrooms and to follow through with the best company in the business as far as investigations are concerned, I think we’re on solid footing. ... If we find evidence of cheating ... we will move aggressively to deal with the employees who were involved. ... Wayne Ryan said that he was resigning to pursue other options, other opportunities, and so I thank him for his service to D.C. Public Schools and wish him the best of luck.” Also WAMU-FM, WaTimes.
GRAY APPROVAL, BY WARD — Scott Clement breaks down Mayor Vincent Gray’s poll numbers by ward. His approval is highest in his home Ward 7, at 55 percent — a shadow of the 82 percent approval he enjoyed last August. In Ward 3, his approval rating stands at 15 percent.
REDISTRICTED — The ward redistricting plan passed yesterday, but not without one final round of drama. As I described: “The plan passed with one major change. The Woodley Park neighborhood — previously split down Connecticut Avenue NW, with the east side in Ward 1 and the west side in Ward 3 — will now be entirely in Ward 3. A similar amendment offered at an initial vote earlier this month by Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) failed, but on Tuesday Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) changed his position in favor of the change, clearing way for its passage. But the Woodley Park shift caused great consternation on the part of Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who was furious that the change would cause Ward 3 to be very near the maximum size allowed by law, while Ward 7 would be very near the minimum. ‘That is unheard of,’ she said. ‘We should have done more to make these wards even.’ ... Bowser was one of five members who voted against final passage.” Also WAMU-FM, DCist, Examiner. Bring on the ANCs!
KWAME’S BROTHER BANKRUPT — WAMU-FM’s Patrick Madden fills us in on another blemish on the Brown family finances: Che Brown, brother of Kwame Brown, filed bankruptcy in March — shortly before an Office of Campaign Finance audit revealed his company had earned nearly $250,000 from his brother’s 2008 campaign. As a reminder: “OCF says when auditors pressed Che Brown for receipts or itemized reports of how the money was spent, he was unable to provide documentation for the approximately $170,000 spent on ‘day labor.’ ... And earlier in June, in a formal complaint, OCF also alleged that Che Brown was in charge of an unreported $60,000 ‘side account.’ According to a March 14 filing in a D.C. bankruptcy court, Che Brown has approximately $500,000 in liabilities.”
LET’S GET ETHICAL — If there’s one thing the D.C. Council has no shortage of these days, it’s ethics bills. Besides the Kwame Brown/Mary Cheh package that got a hearing last week, we now have a proposal from Vincent Orange to create an “ethics and accountability committee” to police elected officials, and Tommy Wells is proposing new curbs on corporate bundling and inauguration/transition fundraising. In the Examiner, Freeman Klopott deems the bills a “legislative fix to the city government’s public relations woes.” It ends with the obligatory Dorothy Brizill quote: “My concern is all of these efforts are not in response to the needs we have. ... The citizens want ethics reform that deals with the culture of corruption we seem to have here in the District.” The Washington Times focuses on Wells’ bills, quoting the Ward 6 council member: ““I want people to see we can self-correct, we can police ourselves and we can address our own issues.” WAMU-FM covers the legislative plethora. WTTG-TV also covers Wells’ fleet reform bill. And at DCist, Martin Austermuhle looks back on the Council’s 2007 crackdown on exploratory committees as an example of new laws that can “only be as effectively implemented as the city agency actually implementing it.” A piece of OCF literature, it turns out, contains outdated advice to candidates. Writes Martin, “[I]f the agency charged with enforcing these laws doesn’t have the capacity or resources to actually enforce them, well, then we’re bound to see trouble again.”
VINCE GRAY, TALK SHOW HOST — Gray yesterday debuted “Inside One City,” his very own Channel 16 panel-format TV show, where Gray himself plays Charlie Rose interviewing various city-government personages. Despite a surplus of Twitter snark, it wasn’t half bad. In fact, by the standards of Channel 16, it was pretty good. While Gray obviously wasn’t exactly Mike Wallace — asking Paul Quander and Cathy Lanier at one point how they would “change the conversation” away from the loss of 10,000 summer jobs — he is a fluid and engaging host. WJLA-TV for some reason refers to it as a “reality show,” which it most certainly is not.
ESCAPE ARTIST — The Post’s Allison Klein adds more detail to the escape of 18-year-old DYRS detainee Brandon Sparrow at BWI Airport: He got away, in part, because corrections officers got there too late to pick him up. “The escape prompted finger pointing from the corrections union, outrage from a D.C. Council member and self-examination from the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), which vowed to change some policies and regulations. ‘Arriving late under these circumstances cannot be justified,’ said council member Jim Graham, (D-Ward 1), who oversees the department. ‘This appears to be a DYRS lapse. Why wasn’t this individual in restraints?’ Christopher Shorter, spokesman and chief of staff for Neil Stanley, interim DYRS director, said general practice is for officers to arrive 45 minutes early when picking up a detainee at an airport. ‘But that is not formally in our transportation policy,’ Shorter said. ‘This forces the agency to look at internal policy and protocols. It will be part of our written policy going forward.’” Sparrow, who previously escaped from a South Carolina facility, has since been recaptured in Southeast D.C.
IS LANIER TOO HARSH? — In the Washington Times, Jeffrey Anderson takes a deep dive into MPD discipline, making the case that Chief Cathy Lanier is prone to delivering disproportionate penalties to officers that are later overturned on appeal. “The firing and reinstating of police officers is wreaking havoc within the MPD, veteran officers and their representatives say. Beyond the disruption to their career advancement, the officers say, MPD is deprived of their services for months while eventually being forced to rehire them and pay their back salaries. The resulting rap on Chief Lanier is that she does not adequately respect officers’ rights, and that an uneven brand of justice has undermined officer morale. Chief Lanier denies that such perceptions exist. Through a spokeswoman, she insisted she has the right to police the police the way she sees fit.” That includes elevating the penalties assessed by “trial boards” — firing officers instead of suspending them, most commonly. Anderson fingers department HR director Diana Haines Walton for overturning trial board findings, “impos[ing] the ultimate penalty after trial boards have reviewed documentary evidence, witness testimony and cross-examination before handing down punishment aimed at rehabilitating officers, police discipline case documents show. Other times, she changes a ‘Not Guilty’ finding to ‘Guilty,’ the documents show, or ignores findings of fact or conclusions of law reached by the trial board.”
FILL THAT DARN BOEE SEAT ALREADY — Jonetta Rose Barras renews her calls for Gray to fill the vacant non-Democratic seat on the Board of Elections and Ethics. “[E]thics and campaign finance cases involving elected officials who are Democrats may soon come before a panel dominated by Democrats. Legitimate questions could be raised about whether decisions and rulings under such circumstances were fair and objective.” She even has some suggestions: “Ward 7 attorney Bob Richards’ name has been tossed around, as has that of Stephen Danzansky, a Ward 3 resident with impressive credentials, who counts among his supporters [Stephen] Joel Trachtenberg and Gen. Colin Powell. Danzansky would fit nicely with BOEE Chairman Togo West, former secretary of the Army. Ron Collins, head of the mayor’s board and commissions, said several people ‘turned down the position for a number of reasons. We do believe we have two additional candidates whom we are looking at and vetting.’ The legislature should push Gray to make a nomination before summer recess. There is no time to lose.”
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Asked if he’s running for mayor, Tommy Wells offers non-Shermanesque response (Loose Lips)
Raymone Bain, former Barry spokeswoman, is in tax trouble; Fred Cooke is her lawyer (Crime Scene)
A DCPS teacher describes her bad experience with IMPACT (Answer Sheet)
Despite dip, D.C.’s black murder rate remains sky-high (GGW)
Attention David Wilmot, et al.: David Catania would like you to pay your workers better (Examiner)
DPW: We’ve stepped up recycling enforcement to generate revenue (WTTG-TV)
Tom Sherwood has “sources” on grand jury for Gray probe (WRC-TV)
A Peaceoholics movie? (City Desk)
The Gray Lady takes note of CityCenterDC (NYT)
Jack Potter, former postmaster general, set to head Airports Authority (Post)
Apple Store, TD Bank among property tax scofflaws (WBJ)
D.C. cop facing sex assault charges in West Virginia (Examiner)
School Without Walls, Banneker Academic make Newsweek list of top high schools (Informer)
Shock: Hine developers find it hard to please ANC (Examiner)
How to deal with that DCPS/charter school waitlist (On Parenting)
Attention JAWB nerds: Here’s a Council roll call tally sheet for your use (Scribd)
Two years after Metro crash, civil suit is set for trial in February (AP)
Self-immolating rape suspect dies in D.C. Jail (Examiner)
The Metro pie in the sky (GGW)
Bear spotted in Rock Creek Park (WRC-TV)
Today is National HIV Testing Day; get tested for free at Whitman-Walker (Post)
Yes, the whole JAWB press corps is delivering advice Friday to Gray administration officials (Loose Lips)
*** ON THE MENU ***
D.C. Council hearing on “Implementation of the Administrative Services Organization to Improve Medicaid Billing,” 2 p.m. in JAWB 500 — Gray/council meeting, 9 a.m. in JAWB 507; Gray holds news conference, 10:30 a.m. in JAWB G-9; attends WCSA rebranding news conference, 11:40 a.m. at Convention Center; attends Black Women for Obama 4 Change reception, 6 p.m. at the Channel Inn, 650 Water St. SW