TODAY IS JUNE 21, 2011 — DAY 171 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Winds of change are blowing in Ward 7, writes Jeffrey Anderson in the Washington Times, reporting that a “group of influential Ward 7 residents” voted last week to oust incumbent Democrat Yvette Alexander rather than attempt a “come to Jesus” moment with the four-year D.C. Council member. Redistricting, it seems, was the last straw. Leading the charge is former council member H.R. Crawford, who tells Anderson, “It’s nothing personal. ... But we’re becoming the joke of the city. We need someone who is going to speak up for this community. We are an intelligent, well-educated community, and we want good representation. You look at Wards 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and you see development all over. No community would sit idly by and do nothing.” The group also includes activist Paul Savage, famously part of the Hillcrest cabal that drafted Anthony Williams into the 1998 mayoral race. He says of the redistricting saga: “Ward 6 raised heck, and their councilman supported them. ... Ours didn’t. It’s about fairness and equity, and we don’t have it here.” But, of course, they still need a candidate. Chances are the Hillcrest/Penn Branch crowd won’t be too excited about Ron Moten’s pending candidacy. But at least two reporters are.
AFTER THE JUMP — Grand jury hears Sulaimon Brown evidence — FEMS policy cheats pregnant firefighters — D.C. residents worry deeply about AIDS — Tommy Wells stakes claim as Mr. Reform — Kwame Brown defends chocolate milk — Plotkin takes on Obama
*** MAIN COURSE ***
GRAND OLD JURY — Scoop from the Examiner’s Freeman Klopott: Prosecutors have taken evidence connected to Sulaimon Brown’s allegations before a grand jury, sourcing the news to an “attorney associated with the case.” Why is this important? “Prosecutors must get a grand jury’s approval to file felony charges, and in a high-profile case might use a grand jury for misdemeanor charges. They also use grand juries to issue subpoenas to third parties, such as banks and other financial institutions.” Klopott talks to Mayor Vincent Gray’s attorney, Robert Bennett, who says the mayor has not been called to testify and assures us all that he’s “investigated this thoroughly” and concluded that there “is absolutely no merit to any accusations that Mayor Gray knew or participated or authorized any payments to Sulaimon Brown.” In a sidebar, former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova explains where exactly the legal exposure lies for Gray and his campaign allies.
PREGNANT FIREFIGHTERS SPEAK OUT — The local broadcast news story of the day: How the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department is putting the screws to pregnant firefighters. Attempts to crack down on overtime costs mean that the previous policy, under which pregnant women could stay on limited duty until they had their child, no longer applies. Now pregnant firefighters have only 30 days of limited duty, after which they have to use medical leave, and when that runs out, unpaid leave. Read my blog post for several testimonials from pregnant firefighters who are getting cheated by the new policy. The great Dave Statter points out on his blog that this is not the first time that FEMS has failed to do right by female firefighters. Also WaTimes, WUSA-TV, WAMU-FM, WJLA-TV, WRC-TV.
AIDS WORRIES PERVADE D.C. — Part 3 of the Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll reveals, not surprisingly, that city residents consider HIV/AIDS to be the city’s “most urgent health problem.” Darryl Fears, Peyton M. Craighill and Isaac Arnsdorf report: “More than a third of city residents single out HIV/AIDS — first identified 30 years ago — as the city’s biggest health concern. Nationally, cancer and obesity get far more mentions. And the scourge of HIV/AIDS weighs particularly heavily on the minds of African American residents, who suffer from the disease in disproportionate numbers, are far more likely than white residents to raise it as a concern in discussions and more often fret over whether they or their family members will become infected. More than 4 of 10 African Americans — 44 percent — say they personally are concerned about contracting HIV, compared with 10 percent of white residents, according to the poll.”
DIAL 2014 — Also in The Post poll: Absence has made the civic heart grow fonder for Adrian Fenty, with his approval ratings rising back to 56 percent. But, Nikita Stewart writes, Fenty didn’t have a lot to say about it: “D.C. Wire caught up with the former mayor by text message Monday. ‘I’m not going to comment at this time but thanks for asking,’ Fenty said of the survey. But D.C. Wire also wondered whether he was considering a possible comeback campaign. The last four digits of what we thought was a new phone number are 2014. Fenty called the number a coincidence, and said it’s not a new number. ‘Funny,’ Fenty wrote, ‘it’s an old number.’” Also Loose Lips, DCist.
LET’S GET PROGRESSIVE — Tommy Wells unveiled a package of campaign finance and vehicle management reforms in a news release yesterday. They would, among other things, prevent the city from buying or leasing any luxury vehicle or growing the fleet from its current size. On the campaign finance front, “bundling” contributions from multiple corporations with substantially similar ownership would be banned, and transition and inauguration fundraising reporting would be formalized. Also, the campaign finance reporting schedule would be reset to align with the new April primary date. Also Examiner, WAMU-FM. And Alan Suderman wonders at Loose Lips whether this is a sign of grander ambitions on Wells’s part.
‘PERFECT STORM’ A-COMING? — In a cliche-strewn Examiner column, Harry Jaffe says a “perfect storm” is brewing, and Michael Brown, Yvette Alexander and Marion Barry need to watch out or be blown out. His case: “The ‘new voters’ are about to be heard. Tens of thousands of new residents have made D.C. their home over the past five years. They have had the time to settle in, register to vote and get to know the local political landscape.” Second, “The scent of corruption fills the air.” And finally, “The 2012 season will include a presidential election, which guarantees a healthy voter turnout.” Jaffe cites Brown’s Internet gambling and tax antics. Also: “Name one thing he’s accomplished. Besides, he’s crossed the business community.” As for Alexander, he writes, “Her colleagues lament her low candle power.” And then there’s Barry: “I believe Barry is losing it. His once lucid monologues are turning into repetitive mumbles. Pity.” He’s just noticing the mumbles?
FORMER NOYES PRINCIPAL TAKES A HIKE — Wayne Ryan, who led Noyes Elementary School through dramatic testing gains that are now being questioned, resigned his DCPS administrative post Friday. “Ryan announced he was stepping down as instructional superintendent in an e-mail to colleagues Friday evening. He did not specify a reason for leaving. ... Ryan did not respond to an e-mail or phone message to his office Monday. D.C. school officials, citing personnel rules, said they would not discuss the reasons for Ryan’s departure. He has been accused of no wrongdoing. ... [H]is career took off under Rhee, who hailed him as a rock star when reading and math scores on standardized tests grew dramatically from 2006 to 2009. ... He became a poster image for D.C. school reform in the Rhee era. ‘Are you the next Wayne Ryan?’ said a principal recruitment ad. But Noyes was also one of more than 100 D.C. public schools with classrooms flagged by authorities during that period for elevated rates of answer sheet erasures in which incorrect responses were changed to correct ones.” Also USA Today, which broke the cheating allegations.
KWAME STANDS UP FOR CHOCOLATE MILK — Ed Bruske of the Slow Cook lends more attention to Kwame Brown’s questioning Thursday of Kaya Henderson on the subject of serving chocolate milk in DCPS. Long story short: The good chairman is wondering whether DCPS shouldn’t reverse its ban on flavored milk. “Brown said he was impressed by the nutritional information on flavored milk [a] first-grader had amassed. More likely, Brown was tagged by the long arm of the dairy industry, which relentlessly pursues efforts to keep flavored milk in schools to offset decades of decline in sales of plain milk. As one of a few major school districts to ditch chocolate milk, the District of Columbia has become a crown jewel for activists aiming to topple flavored milk’s rule in the nation’s lunch rooms. Brown parroted the dairy industry line that kids won’t drink milk unless it’s tarted up with sugar, and will collapse in a heap of osteoporosis and rickets without it.”
DOWN WITH OBAMA — It’s official: Mark Plotkin is done with Barack Obama. The Hill reports that the WTOP political analyst is “initiating a public campaign to unseat President Obama in response to the city’s lack of a voting representative in Congress.” Explanation: “Obama has failed to take up the D.C. voting-rights cause since taking office and has ignored requests from various groups to put a District ‘taxation without representation’ license plate on the presidential limo as a symbol of solidarity.” Plotkin wants a “D.C. candidate ‘of substance and stature’ to run against Obama in 2012. ‘You really need a reputable person of some stature and standing, so that this is not viewed as a gimmick,’ he said. ‘It’s not a gimmick; it’s not a joke. It’s the highest form of political expression to say, “You have treated us wrongly and you have ignored us, and we’re not going to take it.”’ In addition, Plotkin recommends that the D.C. Democratic State Committee instruct its three electors either to file blank ballots or to vote for Obama’s opponent in the D.C. Democratic primary unless the president pushes for voting rights.” Read on for slams of Eleanor Holmes Norton and D.C. Vote!
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Wells won’t hold hearing on taxi medallion bill before fall (Thefightback.org)
Online gambling system to start testing over the summer (WaTimes)
Will blaming Joe Mamo lower gas prices? (City Desk)
How the new budget will change D.C.’s TANF program (DCFPI)
How to lose a house in the most infuriating way possible (DCmud)
H.D. Woodson teacher pleads guilty to sex abuse charge (WJLA-TV)
How social media is and isn’t changing campaigns and elections (Four26)
SWEEP inspectors still at work (WTTG-TV)
Gray: Not big on meaningless resolutions — at least in Baltimore! (Loose Lips)
Vince and Sulaimon: Together forever (Loose Lips)
Yes, yes, Courtland Milloy will be on Twitter at some point (City Desk)
WCSA needs a rebranding, apparently (the Examiner)
GU campus plan proceedings will end Nov. 17 (Patch)
A .dc domain? (We Love DC)
U Street rebuild set to begin (GGW)
Ain’t easy being green (WAMU-FM)
Stare into Fenty’s eyes (DCist)
Tomorrow: Go “Behind the Headlines” with Colby King, Tony Williams, Nikita and others (Post)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray powwows with editorial writers in 11 a.m. conference call; attends Congress Heights Main Streets annual meeting, 6:30 p.m. at United Planning Organization, 2907 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE; attends ANC8E meeting, 7:15 p.m. at Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, 701 Mississippi Ave. SE — D.C. Council legislative meeting today, 11:15 a.m.