TODAY IS JUNE 27, 2011 — DAY 177 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Mayor Vincent C. Gray today is deploying what he hopes is a conversation-changing focus on economic development and jobs in the city. In Capital Business, Jonathan O’Connell reports that Gray’s event at Yards Park will detail “recent and future real estate groundbreakings as well as efforts aimed at improving the city’s ability to develop its workforce.” Among them: A “reorganization of the city’s Workforce Investment Council,” which will be more closely coordinated with specific industry needs. And in Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins’s office, “a four-person staff [will] focus on growing, attracting and retaining businesses in the government, education/health, retail and technology fields — with an initial focus on technology.” On the recent spate of scandal, Hoskins tells O’Connell: “These things we have are going to happen and they are not ever going to affect my focus. ... My focus is creating an environment for our citizens to thrive. It’s creating an environment where businesses can grow.” Michael Neibauer notes at Washington Business Journal that Gray has also created a “Saint Elizabeths Redevelopment Initiative” to manage and plan for the transformative redevelopment project in Ward 8. Also, O’Connell reports on Gray’s economic development report card: A jobs summit was held, and the deputy mayor’s office has been restructured, but the city still waits on a “long-term, coordinated economic development strategy”; a “blue-ribbon panel ... to make recommendations on prioritizing our capital needs”; and an “economic impact analysis tool that will better enable us to allocate our resources to projects.”
TODAY — The much-reduced Summer Youth Employment Program kicks off today. Tell the Post about your first-day experience this year, good or bad.
AFTER THE JUMP — Lanier says there’s not enough transit cops — White House protest includes arrests of 12 — shooting near Caribbean parade kills one — federal judge nixes D.C. Jail release policy — a DCPS principal details his disillusionment
*** MAIN COURSE ***
NOT ENOUGH METRO POLICE? — A bit of an interjurisdictional police tiff was laid bare before Congress Friday, with Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier testifying that the Metro Transit Police Department just doesn’t have enough officers to do its job. Dana Hedgpeth reports for the Post: “Last year, [Lanier] assigned a 10-person detail to Metro’s Chinatown stop because of a spate of stabbings and fights, but ‘now the problem is down in the train at Gallery Place,’ she said. ‘We push them off the aboveground, public space and they go down into the train,’ she said, adding that she thinks [Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn] ‘needs more cops.’” Metro CEO Richard Sarles “said Metro’s fiscal 2012 budget calls for the system to hire 30 police officers for its ‘special police division,’ which has 153 officers who monitor rail and bus yards and other Metro facilities. Hiring additional officers in that unit will ‘free up’ 15 to 30 officers to patrol Metro’s bus and rail systems, Sarles said.” Adam Tuss adds at WTOP: “Following Lanier’s statement, Chief Taborn told reporters he’d take as many extra officers as he could get. ‘Here, working with [Sarles], we will identify those needs and identify alternatives,’ Taborn said.” Also DCist, WRC-TV.
DOZEN ARRESTED AT PROTEST — “Hundreds of District residents and activists gathered across the street from the White House on Saturday to deliver a pointed message to its occupant: Stand up for the District and against efforts by Congress to reduce its autonomy,” Ben Pershing writes in the Post, wrapping up a rally that included the arrests of 12 more protesters. “A choir made multiple appearances under the midday sun. The program also featured a rapper, a poet and several prayers. Then, shortly after the rally concluded, came the civil disobedience. Before a large crowd of activists and onlookers, 12 protesters sat on a narrow stretch of sidewalk directly outside the White House fence and were arrested. They were charged with failing to obey a lawful order, a misdemeanor, and were released later in the day, according to a Park Police spokesman.” The arrestees included State Board of Education member Trayon White, former youth mayor Markus Batchelor, and former Shadow Representative candidate Nate Bennett-Fleming. The Hill covered, quoting one “At-large D.C. Councilman Vincent Brown,” who “called on the crowd to begin organizing 1 million people to march on the city next April – the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of D.C.’s slaves.” It turns out to be Vincent Orange, who makes this point: “They can’t lock up a million people, right?” More coverage from CNN, DCist, City Paper, WAMU-FM, WRC-TV, and WJLA-TV, which has this fun fact: “Saturday’s arrests bring the total number of people arrested since the 2011 budget deal to 73.”
SHOOTING NEAR PARADE KILLS ONE — Saturday’s Caribbean Parade was marred by a shooting near the parade’s route down Georgia Avenue, killing 43-year-old Robert Foster Jr. Three others were wounded in the shooting, the Post reports: “It appeared that the parade had largely passed when the gunfire erupted, but many people had remained near the route. Witnesses said the sound sent people fleeing down Gresham Place and away from Georgia. Assistant D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes said the shooting had no connection to the festival or the university. Investigators think it stemmed from a neighborhood issue, she said.” WUSA-TV reports: “9NEWS NOW has learned one of the four victims was most likely the intended target of the shooting. Sources say Terry Jimenez, 18, is associated with one of two crews now feuding. He was on the same porch as Lucki Pannell, 17, when she was killed in a drive by shooting. Like Foster, Pannell was also an innocent victim.” The Examiner’s Scott McCabe identifies the warring gangs as “Clifton Terrace University, or CTU, and Hobart.” Also WaTimes, WRC-TV,WAMU-FM and DCist. Homicide Watch notes that YouTube videos of the aftermath were posted, but they are now private.
PRISONER POLICY WON’T FLY — File this one under “Peter Nickles was right”: U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Friday declared a law preventing the release of D.C. Jail inmates after 10 p.m. to be unconstitutional. Del Wilber reports in the Post: “During a 16-month period ending in late 2006, Lamberth found that the D.C. government had improperly held more than 3,000 inmates for as long as several days after they had been acquitted or had obtained orders dismissing charges against them. All those inmates were subjected to strip searches upon return to the jail, Lamberth wrote. In the following months, the jail appears to have improved its operations, Lamberth wrote, and he will allow a jury to decide whether the D.C. government violated the rights of inmates from early 2007 through February 2008. Perhaps as many as 2,000 inmates spent too long in jail during that period, Lamberth wrote.” To refresh your memories, Nickles and Phil Mendelson clashed in 2009 over whether it was constitutional for the council the restrict late-night prisoner releases; Nickles ordered the jail not to enforce the law.
WHY THIS PRINCIPAL LEFT — Bill Kerlina was until recently principal of Hearst Elementary School in Ward 3. But he quit this year to open a cupcake shop, and he explains why to the Post’s Bill Turque: “He said he is quitting a system that evaluates teachers but doesn’t support their growth, that knuckles under to unreasonable demands from parents, and that focuses excessively on recruiting neighborhood families to a school where most students come from outside the attendance zone. ... He is quick to acknowledge that he was far from the perfect principal and that his grievances may strike some as whiny or carping. He also acknowledges that money figured into his discontent: He said he was hired with the promise of making more than his $94,995 annual salary. ... Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said that she was surprised by Kerlina’s resignation and that it was the first she’d heard of his unhappiness. She also said she was disappointed that he didn’t air his grievances more fully before he made his decision. Working in the District, she acknowledged, poses challenges. ‘I guess that we all know everything ain’t for everybody,’ Henderson said.” Kerlina, among other things, is critical of the IMPACT teacher evaluations.
BE MORE CONTROVERSIAL, KAYA — Richard Whitmire, Michelle Rhee’s biographer, shares some thoughts on Henderson’s confirmation in a Post op-ed. At Henderson’s confirmation hearing earlier this month, he writes, no one :dared to ask Henderson a tough question. That was a mistake. Instead of celebrating the diminished post-Rhee controversy about D.C. schools, the council should have been pushing Henderson to become more controversial. Before Rhee, council members never asked why low-income black students in Washington were as much as two years behind similar students in other urban districts — despite per-pupil spending levels that are among the highest in the nation. They rarely asked why the District maintained as many school buildings as districts three times its size. And they mostly looked beyond the incredible scandal of why the District was forced to pay exorbitant fees to send so many students to out-of-district special-education settings. The answer to all those questions: low expectations, a tendency to blame poverty for all shortcomings ... and incompetence. But now, while council members have a highly competent chancellor in Henderson, they continue to duck the real questions.” Among those real questions: Are you ready to fire “minimally effective” teachers? Do more schools need to be closed? Do you support charter takeovers for failing schools?
VOUCHERS ARE BACK — The Post’s Robert Samuels visited Saturday’s school voucher seminar at a downtown hotel, where parents applied for one of 1,300 grants worth as much as $12,000 a year. “Elaine Cousins arrived at Saturday’s session a few minutes after 11 a.m., hoping this year would be different, nodding as a consultant detailed the application process to a room of 40 parents. ... Cousins sat at a table with six other parents and began to fill out the paperwork. ... A former teacher in Prince George’s County, Cousins and her husband, Jeffrey, pulled their three children out of the school system to home-school them. They live in the Edgewood neighborhood in Northeast, and she recalled rowdy conditions during a visit to a neighborhood school. ‘There were kids getting beat up on the way home,’ Cousins said. ‘And I said to myself, ‘That’s not going to happen to my child.”’” Applications will be accepted through the end of June. In her WaTimes column, Deborah Simmons compares the scene there favorably to the White House protest: “Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Vincent C. Gray, both anti-voucher stalwarts, joined other activists under the midday sun bashing President Obama, Republicans and conservatives on Saturday and barking about people choosing life instead of using tax dollars to fund abortions. Well, parents want choices, too.”
THE HEAT GOES ON — CFO Natwar Gandhi may have declared “nothing to see here” on the deed recordation tax issue, but Jonetta Rose Barras isn’t letting him off the hook yet: “Gandhi’s actions betray his assertions. He moved to fix what he claimed wasn’t broken. He requested [Jack Evans] introduce legislation that essentially would repeal the current real estate refinancing section of the clarity law.” And she says that Evans isn’t the guy to be doing oversight on this issue: “Though he heads the committee overseeing the CFO, Evans has neither requested the council’s lawyer provide an interpretation of the Clarity Act nor has he held any public roundtable to examine the facts. ... Politics and self-preservation drive Evans’ disinclination. Evans’ Ward 2 is home to much of the city’s commercial real estate. The owners of that property would be asked to pony up more money if the [Tax Clarity Act] were finally implemented as written. That could mean disgruntled constituents just as Evans opens his re-election bid.”
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Spingarn student recently released from treatment center viciously attacked math teacher in June (D.C. Schools Insider)
Selling One Judiciary Square could net the city a cool $208 million (WBJ)
MPD policy puts breast-feeding officers on patrol (Examiner)
Indictment of defense attorney for fabricating evidence has fellow lawyers “intensely interested” (Post)
Unsurprisingly, the Office of the Attorney General will not be prosecuting the two reporters arrested at last week’s Taxicab Commission hearing (WJLA-TV)
Taxi Commission shut the door on Mark Segraves (WTOP)
Tommy Wells says he’s “going to look at other states to see how they set rates and hear complaints, and also how they plan for the number of taxi cabs” (WAMU-FM)
A call for taxicab transparency (Sunlight Foundation)
AG says votes taken at Brookland ANC’s closed-door “committee of the whole” meetings aren’t binding (Brookland Heartbeat)
Neighbors upset about licensing of strip club for Ward 5 warehouse (WRC-TV)
Terry Bellamy confirmation hearing “less an examination of his skills, abilities, and progress than an airing of parochial grievances” (City Desk)
Park Police gives pedicabs a hard time (Transportation Nation)
Many city officials tweet; not all tweet well (GGW)
Ron Machen has “assigned three veteran prosecutors, including one who successfully tried the Chandra Levy murder case, to work exclusively on cold case homicides” (WTOP)
Federal judge delivers stern words to city lawyers over discovery violations, but no sanctions (Legal Times)
Madam’s Organ wants out of its voluntary agreement (Young and Hungry)
Metro’s hybrid buses have engine defect (Examiner)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray meets with Brussels Mayor Freddy Thielemans, 9 a.m. in JAWB; participates in 17th Annual National HIV Testing Day, 10 a.m. at Bread for the City, 1525 7th St. NW; provides update on economic development agenda, 10:30 a.m. at the Lumber Shed at Yards Park, 4th and Tingey streets SE; tours summer jobs sites, 11 a.m. at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th St. NW and D.C. Central Kitchen, 425 2nd St. NW — D.C. Council hearings on surplussing of Rabaut School, Harrison School, and Scott-Montgomery School, 1 p.m. in JAWB 123; on Advisory Neighborhood Commissions Act of 2011 and Commission on African-American Affairs Establishment Act of 2011, 2 p.m. in JAWB 412g