DeMorning DeBonis: June 29, 2011

TODAY IS JUNE 29, 2011 — DAY 178 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

PREVIOUSLY — Ahead of sentencing, Loza apologizes for ‘error in judgment’In Mass., familiar and fishy donations to Dominican RepublicNathan: Taping rules ‘not consistent with the philosophy of the administration’

The D.C. Council’s long-overdue inquest on how Internet gambling got legalized — and whether it is, in fact, legal — is now underway. The Post editorial board, with the help of activist Marie Drissel, airs some sage advice from late council staffer Jeff Coudriet, delivered in an e-mail to aides of Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) six months before he slipped the gambling provision into a budget bill. “Legalizing online gambling on the fly with no public input is probably a real bad idea,” Coudriet wrote. “There are people who would go bat [expletive] about this.” Hard to argue with that POV. And yet “iGaming” is now law. “Why?” the editorial asks. “What was it about this issue that led the council to avoid normal public scrutiny? These and other vexing questions about the planned venture must be answered before the District becomes the first in the country to allow online poker and fantasy sports.” Michael Laris tees up today’s hearing for The Post and airs council member’s perspectives: “ ‘We didn’t even know it was in there,’ said [Jack Evans (D-Ward 2)]. ‘This was requested to be put into a supplemental budget back in December, without any hearing, without any notice, without any anything.’ ... Brown rejected the suggestion that colleagues were left in the dark. ‘Maybe some people didn’t read the budget,’ he said.”

AFTER THE JUMP — Poker in libraries? Will anyone actually play these games? Who is getting rich off this stuff? — Ted Loza gets eight months in jail — Dealing with the Taxicab Commission — Free cops for big events — Officers accused in nightclub beating

*** MAIN COURSE ***

MORE FROM THE EDITORIAL — “When we first asked Mr. Brown in April why that process was not followed, he said he was ‘not sure.’ He later supplemented that explanation by saying he believed the city urgently needed to find revenue to preserve its social safety net during the budget crisis. Now we learn that more than six months elapsed between Mr. Coudriet’s e-mail and the council’s adoption of the gambling measure in the budget bill — plenty of time for open debate. Mr. Brown told us Tuesday that he remembers Mr. Coudriet’s recommendation but that he ‘respectfully disagreed with it.’ ”

LIBRARY POKER — From Laris’s story: “Despite the city’s timetable, officials have not resolved disagreements over which public spaces are suitable for online gambling, an ambivalence reflected in city policies. In many instances, government computers block the type of gambling sites the District is trying to set up. ... D.C. officials are planning to use the government-owned DC-Net as the backbone of the system. The computer network was built to ensure official communications in the District after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, overwhelmed the commercial network. It connects hundreds of government buildings with miles of fiber-optic cable. A public part of the network also provides free WiFi access inside and sometimes around government facilities across the city, including recreation centers, health offices and the Dorothy I. Height library on Benning Road NE. Librarian Robert Garrison said the city, like Maryland with its slot machines, is hungry for revenue. But he’s concerned about the effects on low-income neighborhoods near the library in Ward 7. ‘It’s going to be interesting to see how the local population is affected and which populations will have problems,’ Garrison said. ‘This opens up a bag of worms.’ ... Library officials are considering how to approach the gambling venture. Library spokesman George Williams said the libraries ‘are looking at everything. We haven’t made a decision yes or no at this moment.’ ”

WILL THERE BE PLAYERS? — Ben Nuckols reports for the Associated Press: “While the dollar amount hasn’t been finalized, gamblers will likely be barred from depositing more than $250 a week into their online accounts to begin play, lottery director Buddy Roogow said. Such low stakes will make the District’s online poker rooms unattractive to poker pros, and Roogow is fine with that. ‘We don’t think that this is the type of play that they’re going to be excited about and interested in,’ he said. ... Some industry experts and poker players are taking a dim view of the D.C. venture’s prospects. Players will have to be inside the borders of the district in order to participate, and some wonder whether a city of 600,000 has enough poker players for the site to sustain itself. ... In a poker community still reeling from the shutdown of PokerStars, Full Tilt and other sites, the news that D.C. is getting into the online game has gone virtually unnoticed. ‘No one in poker is excited about this,’ said Robert Fellner, who played online poker professionally for seven years. ‘I just played a World Series of Poker event last week. Nobody’s talking about this. There’s probably a good reason.’ ”

FOLLOWING THE MONEY — Patrick Madden reports at WAMU-FM: “Meanwhile, campaign finance records show that on March 10, five $1,000 checks or money orders from Veteran Services Corporation and several of its employees and family members were sent to the ‘Friends of Michael Brown’ campaign committee. Veteran Services Corporation, or VSC, is the local partner with Intralot, the Greek company contracted by D.C. Lottery to provide the software for the online gaming. VSC owns 51 percent of the deal. Regarding the checks, Brown says he was raising money to balance the books in order to close out the campaign committee fund. Asked if VSC stands to gain because of the online gaming measure, Brown responded: ‘So does every developer who does a deal with the city and they contribute to my colleagues all the time,’ Brown says. ‘It’s all legal and that’s the world we live in.’ ”

EIGHT MONTHS FOR LOZA — Ted Loza will spend eight months in prison for his crimes — the minimum sentence under federal guidelines. Victor Zapana reports for The Post: “Assistant U.S. Attorney John Crabb had asked for 14 months’ imprisonment, saying Loza participated in a long-term scheme to control the District’s taxicab industry. The defense had asked for probation with possible home detention. The judge said Loza’s actions — which included receiving the equivalent of up to $20,000 in cash, trips and other gifts over the years — constituted ‘an abuse of the public trust.’ But he said he also took into consideration Loza’s service to the community. ‘I think it would be unfortunate if he were to leave the United States ... given all his good work,’ [Judge Paul Friedman] said.” Will he be deported? Zapana writes: “Guidelines issued under the Immigration and Nationality Act suggest that resident aliens who are sentenced to a year or more of prison time are deportable. In certain cases, those who have been convicted of multiple crimes are also subject to deportation.” He will report to prison in the next three to six weeks. Also the Examiner, City Paper, WaTimes, DCist, WAMU-FM, WTTG-TV, USAO news release. Here is a statement from former boss Jim Graham: “The sentencing of Ted Loza today was fair and speaks to a wide range of factors, from the seriousness of the charges he faced to Mr. Loza’s years of service. During this difficult time it is important that Mr. Loza’s friends remember his family by showing them support and love.”

TAXI ARREST AFTERMATH — The fallout from last week’s arrests at a Taxicab Commission hearing continues to rain down: In an interview with yours truly, Attorney General Irvin Nathan said the DCTC’s policies against recording meetings was “clearly not consistent with the philosophy of the administration or, in my view, good government or good common sense.” At DCist, Martin Austermuhle wonders whether the Open Meetings Act can be amended to guarantee recording rights: “Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who originally authored the Open Meetings law that went into effect in late April, said she’d be willing to clarify parts of the law to prevent such incidents in the future.” David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington ponders whether the Taxicab Commission needs to be entirely eliminated. The appointed commission, he argues, “divorces policy too far from our elected officials. ... Government seems to work better when decisions are either made by the legislature, or by political appointees directly reporting to an elected executive. The elected legislators or executives might not always be very good, but at least people can throw them out of office if they’re doing a sufficiently bad job.” Tom Sherwood devotes his Notebook to the arrests and his own media-relations counsel: “Our bottom-line advice — and this goes for any individual, group or organization — is that reporters are not your friends, but they don’t have to be your enemies. The worst thing you can do is to ignore a reporter’s inquiry. That’s like leaving only one team on the field.”

FREE COPS — An old issue has not gone away: The District is still footing the bill for police protection at special events, Freeman Klopott reports in the Examiner, including Saturday’s violent Caribbean Parade. “City officials continue to quietly cover the security fees stipulated in agreements for various events despite a budget crunch that has the city looking for dollars to keep roofs over the homeless and add police officers to a strained force, records show. In some cases the money comes from a special fund, and in others the fees are just waived. Last weekend, the District gave $30,000 to the Caribbean Day parade from a $175,000 community event fund. In 2010, the same fund covered $321,000 in police department costs, including $176,000 for the Caribbean Day parade, and $28,000 for Capital Pride, a festival celebrating the city’s gay community. ... Since 2008, the city has waived more than $732,000 in police department fees, including $485,000 for the SunTrust National Marathon and $58,000 for the Cherry Blossom Parade.” But, fact is, the events are popular and contribute to the city’s vibrancy and there’s not much political stomach for changing things.

SHOOTING AFTERMATH — Questions persist about how 19-year-old Terry Jiminez was able to return to D.C. to allegedly undertake the Saturday shooting that killed innocent bystander Robert Foster Jr. Jim Graham, in a letter to Chief Cathy Lanier, accused authorities of not doing enough to keep an eye on Jiminez. Andrea Noble writes in WaTimes: “Mr. Graham’s letter said delays in working out compliance details of a national agreement governing the transfer of adult criminals led to gaps in the supervision of Mr. Jiminez between the D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and officials in New York. However, a CSOSA spokesman said the misdemeanor conviction that landed Mr. Jiminez under court supervision was not the type of crime that would normally warrant out-of-state supervision.” At Loose Lips, Alan Suderman notes that Graham specifically called out Lanier and MPD for a lack of “diligence.” WTTG-TV adds: “One of the other victims, a man shot in the back who didn’t want to be identified, wants to know how officials could lose track of someone with a violent history like Jimenez. ‘I don’t know how this could happen. How could he end up on Georgia Avenue with a gun?’ the victim said.”

MORE COPS IN TROUBLE — Two D.C. cops stand accused of beating a man outside a downtown nightclub this month. WUSA-TV broke the story: “According to sources, the man who was allegedly beaten lost an eye. Both officers were off duty at the time and are allegedly members of the vice squad, sources tell 9NEWS NOW. They could face charges as early as Wednesday.” The Post’s Clarence Williams has more, identifying the victim as Walter Blair II, 24. “The attorney, Ronald Karp, could not confirm whether D.C. police were involved in the beating. He said he looked at video footage of the attack that shows at least two men in security uniforms repeatedly kicking Blair as Blair lay in the fetal position on the ground. The attorney declined to cite the source of the video, and the circumstances that led up to the beating were not clear. ‘I saw one video, and we talked to some witnesses, and what I saw was ugly and mean,’ Karp said in an interview. ‘They were not trying to apprehend the young man, they were punishing him.’ ”

*** SMALL PLATES ***

GAO report of Metro governance will be released Monday (WAMU-FM)

Zoning Commission rejects addition to Mount Pleasant library, already under construction (Housing Complex)

Convicted OCTOgate contractor wants $900,000 from city (WBJ)

“The Time to Start a Workforce Intermediary is Now!” (DCFPI)

Gray stands by the Caribbean Festival (WUSA-TV)

Kaya Henderson stands by plain milk (Slow Cook)

“DDOT recognizes the need for an east-west bicycle connection through downtown, but we are obligated to consider the impacts on all users ... before making a commitment to proceed.” (d.ish)

Missed this yesterday: Post editorial notes “strange disconnect” in opposition to vouchers from Gray, Eleanor Holmes Norton (The Post)

Marvin Gaye Park getting a Planters peanut (Housing Complex)

Heller has not yet, in fact, killed gun control entirely (Mother Jones)

Council members talk Ward 8 development (WaTimes)

The Walton Family Foundation loves D.C. schools (Answer Sheet)

Hyde Leadership PCS votes to split from founder, rename itself (D.C. Schools Insider)

Civil trial on St. Elizabeths patient’s death is underway (The Post)

More Metro riders; more Metro transit cops (WTOP)

Brian Jordan will not lead Cincinnati Police (the Enquirer)

Gray not as unpopular as Dan Snyder (D.C. Sports Bog)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray does interview with WTTG-TV, 8:45 a.m.; holds news conference, 10 a.m. in JAWB G-9; meets with Council, 2:30 p.m. in JAWB 504 — D.C. Council hearing on Internet poker bill, 10 a.m. in JAWB 120

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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