December 19, 2008



Washington Post The Fenty administration is providing $10 million in tax subsidies to developers for three projects in neighborhoods where city officials hope to see further investment. The largest beneficiary is City Interests, a development company that is getting $8.8 million for its project, which includes 220 residential units and office and retail space along South Capitol Street in Southwest. A second developer, Four Points and W Street Acquisition, will receive $1.1 million for a residential and retail project along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast. The third, Neighborhood Development Co., is getting nearly $800,000 for a 70-unit apartment building on Georgia Avenue in Petworth.

In September, the District invited developers to bid for the right to redevelop the Park Morton housing project, a 174-unit complex in Petworth. But after developers raised concerns, D.C. officials modified the application process, easing potential financial burdens. Developers no longer have to put down a deposit with their application for the project, according to a memorandum written by Fenty's director of development, David Jannarone. . . Jannarone also wrote that the District is "willing to offer limited pre-development funding" to developers, money that can be used to pay for architectural drawings and other design needs.

Dave McKenna, City Paper - There is something memorable about the battle for the 2008 Unsportsman of the Year Award. The decisive moment came in October, with the announcement from Ted and Mark Lerner, owners of the Washington Nationals, that they'd be paying the $3.5 million they owed the city in back rent on taxpayer-funded Nationals Park-but only in exchange for $4 million more in taxpayer-funded concessions. That put the citizens' tab on the stadium to, oh, about $1 billion and four million. And counting. "I don't understand that deal," says Vincent C. Gray, chairman of the D.C. Council, speaking for pretty much an entire city. "They paid us the three-and-a-half million they owed us, and we give them four million. And that's what they owed us anyway, no matter what?"


Gary Imhoff, DC Watch - By a vote of five to eight, the council rejected the lottery contract championed by Mayor Fenty. The mayor and the Washington Post wanted the contract to be awarded to Fenty's cronies, rather than to the longtime cronies of several councilmembers. Neither group got it, so the contract to operate the DC Lottery will be put up for rebid. Perhaps this time it will be awarded on merit, rather than on the basis of whose friends make the best sounding unverifiable promises about future performance.

Councilmember Mary Cheh turned in an unexplainable performance for a constitutional professor who in the past had championed civil liberties. She introduced an unconstitutional bill to limit free speech and the right to protest by forbidding picketing in residential neighborhoods, and then withdrew it at the last minute. And she amended the gun licensing bill by adding an unnecessary and useless training requirement that guarantees that anyone who files a lawsuit challenging DC's new gun regulations will win, regardless of Attorney General Peter Nickles' characteristic bluster that he will successfully defend them in court. . .

[A bill] passed by a unanimous vote, disposed of sixteen acres of city land on the southwest waterfront for ninety-nine years, at a charge to the developer of a dollar a year. Here's what one correspondent, who wants to remain anonymous, wrote about it: "We need the project, but the deal's terms and details were opaque. This was the worst and sloppiest year-end rush job ever, and the deal is third in size only to the stadium and the convention center. What's the scope of the subsidy? Who knows? What's the sweep of indemnifications? Who knows? What's the recurring added annual subsidy? Who knows? This was emergency legislation, passed in a way that totally denied the public access to the full terms of the deal. Most council members and their staffs don't know and can't articulate even in the simplest terms the outline of the deal or the financial returns on it. You should ask the council members, 'What was the deal? What did DC give and what did DC get? What was the net all-in cost? What is the net financial return to the district?' See what you get as a response. Such a megadeal should not be ramrodded through with such a rush and lack of consideration, certainly not in this fiscal environment."


Scott McCabe, DC Examiner Given the choice to serve drinks at a councilman's party or train to save lives, 32 D.C. fire recruits chose to save lives. Last week, The Examiner reported that D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin had ordered his recruiting classes and their instructors to help D.C. Councilman Jim Graham host birthday and holiday parties, at a cost to taxpayers of about $4,000 per affair. Rubin insisted that using the recruits as waitstaff was part of the curriculum because it taught the rookies the importance of community service. But Monday morning, instead of ordering the recruits to that day's party, the fire department asked the recruits if they'd volunteer. None of them raised their hands, and the rookies continued their studies, according to a fire department member who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions.

When The Examiner showed up to the Columbia Heights Community Center on Monday to photograph the recruits, D.C. Deputy Chief Kenneth Crosswhite insisted that the recruits were there, pointing to four men in the corner. "We're not going to let The Examiner dictate how we manage the fire department," Crosswhite said. But the four men said they were not recruits, but firefighters. Crosswhite then admitted that the recruits were not needed because the firefighters "were tripping over themselves" to volunteer.

Washington Teacher - A 'hit list' is a list of people or programs to be acted against or disposed of. This was the subject of the WTU Delegate Assembly's Tuesday meeting. . . On Tuesday evening, union members told horror stories of principals regularly interviewing DC students about their respective teachers in exchange for bribes of candy. While others told a story of a DC principal rating all teachers as either 'traditional teachers' or 'non-traditional teachers' on structured observations with traditional teachers being given lower performance ratings then their non-traditional teacher colleagues without explanation. Yet another discussed a situation in which a DC principal lied about who actually performed his structured observation. Another teacher reported that a principal lied on a teacher who presented their lesson plans stating they were non-existent. Stories abound of DC teachers not receiving promised interventions and supports.

Now even spying on citizens has become privatized, reports Mark Segraves, WTOP: D.C. will participate in a privately-funded crime fighting effort called Safe City. Funded by Target and Sprint Nextel, the program includes the installation of nearly 30 video cameras on street corners in D.C.'s Ward 5 Trinidad neighborhood. The new system allows police to monitor multiple cameras in real time.

Shelley Broderick, Dean, UDC School of Law
The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law is thriving. Among the best of the good news is that this summer, 92% of the Class of 2008 passed the bar on the first attempt in our main jurisdiction (MD) and 100% passed the DC bar. Nationwide, our first time 2008 pass rate was 82%. These are new records for us, but they are by no means aberrations: 85% of our graduates over the past 5 years who have taken bar exams have passed them, including 100% of bar-takers from the Class of 2004. . . The student body continues to be among the most diverse in the nation. And through our clinical, community service and internship programs and summer public interest fellowships, we provided 85,000 hours of legal service over the past year to some of the District's most vulnerable residents.

DC doesn't make it onto too many Top Ten lists, so it was nice to see us make the NY Times lists for the most corrupt places in America.

Gary Imhoff, DC Watch - Washington has lost two popular longtime restaurants with which nearly everyone has a history. Les Halles, serving thin French-style steaks and fries on a key corner of Pennsylvania Avenue, is already gone, and the historic Market Inn, part of Capitol Hill since 1959, is closing on New Year's Eve.

Washington Post
Dozens of sex workers marched through the streets of downtown Washington, demanding better treatment from law enforcement officials of prostitutes who become crime victims. Clutching red umbrellas and carrying signs that read, "Sex Work Is Real Work" and "Stop Shaming Us to Death," the men and women came from San Francisco, New York and other cities across the country to publicize a rarely discussed issue that they say is not taken seriously. . . "I'm just so tired of hearing, 'If I choose to do X, then I put myself on the line,' " said Charmus, 34, a transgender woman who gave only her first name. She lives in Maryland and said she has worked as a prostitute. . . Once the protesters reached the Justice Department, they stood on the sidewalk and told their stories under the watchful eyes of federal police officers. Leila, a 24-year-old woman from San Francisco, shared an experience that she said showed the importance of sex workers banding together. Leila said a client wanted to pay her at the end of their date and even provided his passport as collateral. She was skeptical, but agreed. Then the client said he needed to take money out of the bank, and she went with him. But at the teller, the client asked for his passport back for identification. When Leila handed it back, the man ran. Leila told the protesters that she chased the man and even caught up with him. He punched her in the face. But when she complained to police, she said, they threatened to arrest her for working as a prostitute.

WTOP - Thursday marks 11 years to the date that Festivus made its TV debut. You remember that from Seinfeld in the days when you actually watched a lot of TV. Around the world people are finding ways to celebrate "The Holiday for the Rest of Us." In Adams Morgan, at a kiosk at Columbia Road and Adams Mill Road people are posting their grievances on a board. Here's a sampling of what's there:"Everything costs too much.". . . "Poor escalator etiquette.". . . "Ladies tights and UGGs are not cute.". . . "I work too hard." On Saturday and Sunday all of the grievances will be read aloud as part of the "Airing of Grievances." And, of course, "Feats of Strength" will be performed, as well.

Now that the council has voted to raise the meter rates, could they get them fixed? Your editor tried three credit cards in one on Capitol Hill and none of them worked, so he had to go a kiosk across the street to get his little piece of paper.

Even in a town where much legislation has the feel of a turtle crossing Pennsylvania Avenue, Tommy Wells and Harry Thomas deserve credit for the most mind-bending insignificant change in a bill. After complaints that the previously approved 5 AM bar closing during Inauguration time was too late, they submitted a bill that changed the closing to 4 AM, which was approved. As we all know, most bar related violence occurs between four and five AM.

You won't hear much about this in the other media, but the murder rate has gone up under Cathy Lanier. Not much, but enough so we don't have to treat her as god's gift to law enforcement especially when she undermines the Constitution with apartheid style neighborhood blockades.

A group of activists including Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben is planning an act of civil disobedience in March at the Capitol Hill power plant. Their argument: "Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our atmosphere back to a safe level lies in stopping the use of coal to generate electricity. Even if climate change were not the urgent crisis that it is, we would still be burning our fossil fuels too fast, wasting too much energy and releasing too much poison into the air and water. We would still need to slow down, and to restore thrift to its old place as an economic virtue. . . We will cross the legal boundary of the power plant, and we expect to be arrested. After that we have no certainty what will happen, but lawyers and such will be on hand. Our goal is not to shut the plant down for the day-it is but one of many, and anyway its operation for a day is not the point."


At 10:44 AM, Blogger Abagale said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Post a Comment

<< Home