Saturday, September 27

DC SATURDAY


ADRIEN FENTY: DC'S WORST LANDLORD

As Bush and Congress were preparing to bail out Wall Street with $700 billion, Adrian Fenty engaged in one of the largest evictions in DC history at the Franklin homeless shelter.

HARD DAYS AT CITY PAPER

Sam Sweeney, Georgetown Voice - "I see the City Paper a year from now as something that is very, very, very much a web machine," Erik Wemple, editor of the Washington City Paper, said, sitting in his corner office above a side street in Adams Morgan. "[It] had to make a choice so it's customizing its material for the web and then scrambling as best it can to push it into the paper. "And if there's a narrative out there," he added, "if there's a long cover story, it's done on someone's personal free time."

Wait, what? A City Paper without a regular cover story?

Yes, Wemple said, probably within a few weeks. The resources for a weekly lengthy feature with artwork and graphics just aren't there. . . .

Creative Loafing, a national chain of alternative newsweeklies, bought the City Paper and the Chicago Reader from a group that owned both papers in July 2007, the new ownership has meant one thing for D.C.'s altweekly: getting serious about the web. The newspaper industry's shift toward the internet is just too strong to ignore, Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason believes.

"You can't say, we're going to do something different," Eason, an Atlanta native, said in a slight southern drawl. "You're going to get crushed.". . .

But how will the City Paper maintain its character and culture as part of a larger, national corporation? The answer, Eason thinks, lies in Wemple and Amy Austin, the City Paper's publisher. He may tell the pair how much money they need to cut from the budget and what direction the paper should go in, but Eason leaves the details of the budget cuts, as well as all editorial decisions, to Wemple and Austin.

Online advertising revenue is growing at an exponential rate for the City Paper, Austin said, but it only makes up approximately 5 percent of the paper's total revenue. In the newspaper industry as a whole, revenue from online advertising grew by 18.8 percent in 2007, but this increase was dwarfed by the 9.4 percent decrease in print advertising revenue, according to figures from the Newspaper Association of America. . .

As a result, the City Paper's net income as a percentage of advertising revenues, traditionally around 15 percent, declined from 11.3 percent in 2003 to roughly 4.7 percent in 2006. By the time Creative Loafing bought the City Paper in July 2007, it was still a profitable business, but, Austin said, "It wasn't as profitable as [Creative Loafing] would like companies to be.". . .

The City Paper now has eleven full time editorial staff members, putting it on par with the staff of Seven Days, Burlington, Vt's alt weekly. . . The City Paper'sstaff is only going to shrink further. A lackluster financial performance in July and August coupled with recessionary trends in the economy make more editorial layoffs seem inevitable.

UDC'S NEW HEAD


From a Business Journal interview with new UDC President Allen Sessoms

UDC is a place that needs to be simply rebuilt, and it's an opportunity that comes hardly ever. And it seemed like a reasonable place to try it. If you believe the folklore, this is the capital of the free world. It is also a major metropolitan area. It's also a quasi-state. And it's a little place. Everyone knows everybody else. If you can't fix something here then it's probably not fixable. The issue for me is getting things done, or finding that it's impossible. And I think one of the two will be pretty clear soon.

What were your impressions of the school before taking the job?

It's hard to characterize it gently. If you had to put a phrase on it, it was not considered a serious institution. It was considered under-resourced. It was considered limited in its intellectually capacity. It was considered a place that, because of open admissions, was of limited rigor. The students who did well were probably exceptionally gifted anyway, and then it lost most of the ones who weren't particularly gifted because they didn't pay attention to them. . .

They had a staff that was not particularly focused on the mission. There are a lot of political appointees in a place that simply can't stand them, a lot of folks not doing their jobs, and it showed. So UDC wasn't taken seriously at any place I've ever been. It's really hard to get this one wrong. You have to get it right or close it.

Are you also hoping that there will be less reliance on the city for funding?

I am assuming that we get what we get from the city; with autonomy you find the rest of the money. I'm not expecting any more money from the city. Maybe an uptick for inflation, that's about it. I expect to triple the size of the budget without needing any more money from the city, because you have to. This place is under-resourced. It's silly. You need to go and strongly couple with business and industry and do what they value, and therefore they support you. Strongly couple with the federal government. I know that's a complicated process in the District of Columbia, but that's where the money is. It's also the biggest industry in this town, and if the state university can't respond to the biggest industry in the state, well, what's it doing? And the second biggest industry is hospitality and tourism, so we have to bring exceptional value to that industry for that industry to support you. And then there are more lawyers than people in the District, and one has to really find out where their needs are, and I think the law school is doing what it can with no money and no facilities, but that has to change. . .

DC CLIPS

Adrian Fenty is beginning to annoy some of the big money and power guys who backed his rise to power. It's one thing to be arrogant towards the poor and the weak, but you don't want to do it with your bankers. The political skies are beginning to look Grayer.

City Paper - [Grayce] Wiggins is the rent administrator axed in August, months after a pro-tenant ruling regarding the Kennedy-Warren building in Cleveland Park aroused the ire of local landlords, developers, and lawyers. Tenant advocates have cried foul play ever since the firing. Yesterday, a joint hearing held by Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary M. Cheh tried to pry out of city officials the circumstances behind Wiggins' firing. Leila Edmonds, chief of the Department of Housing and Community Development, appeared . . . Also appearing was Phillip Lattimore, general counsel from the city's Department of Human Resources. . . Lattimore was there to make sure Edmonds and Visser uttered nary a peep about Wiggins' firing, lest they run afoul of District regulations on the disclosure of personnel . . . Barry and Cheh did get a few fun tidbits out of them. For instance, Edmonds testified that she and other housing officials did meet with three of the most powerful landlord attorneys in town, Richard Luchs (aka The "Painmaker") and Vincent Mark Policy of Greenstein, DeLorme & Luchs and Rick Eisen of Eisen & Rome, regarding a decision Wiggins was involved in. At that meeting, she says, no issue of substance, let alone Wiggins' job performance, was discussed: "The nature of that meeting was just to discuss process and procedures and to discuss next steps."

DC Legal's poll of the at large race has the two Browns on top - Kwame at 66% and Michael at 33% - followed by Carol Schwartz at 25%, David Schwartzman at 10%, Patrick Mara at 7%, Mark Long 5% and Dee Hunter 4%.

Mike DeBonis, City Paper - OK, yes, the final game was rained out, meaning the total paid draw of 2,320,400 is based on only 81 games rather than the scheduled 82. Still, no asterisk is necessary on this dubious feat: If you add the per-game average of 29,005 to the 80-game total, you still can't match Cincinnati's 81-game 2003 mark of 2,355,259. . . Look on the bright side: The Nats didn;t lose their 100th game at home, and if you look at the how full the ballparks were in their inaugural years, the Nats narrowly beat out the Reds: Nats Park was 69.2 percent full this year; the slightly larger Great American Ballpark was only 69.1 percent full in 2003. As for next year? Look for a sharp dropoff. The Reds went from a 29,077 average in Year 1 to a 28,237 average in Year 2 (and a 23,989 average in Year 3. . .

The Everymay estate in Georgetown is for sale for $49 million. Long owened by the Belin family it included a huge house and 3 and a half acres.

A group of local arts institutions are pushing for the former Dupont Circle underground trolley space to be used for exhibitions and events. Warehouse, Hunt Laudi and Pink Lane Project are among those behind the idea. An effort to convert it into a mall some years back came to naught.

1 Comments:

At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If CityPaper becomes web only, then i hope they improve it because the way it is now is TERRIBLE. Their blogs are awful - mostly the technological format of them.

 

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