Morning Read: Prostitution-Free Zones Unconstitutional? - NBC4 Washington
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Morning Read: Prostitution-Free Zones Unconstitutional?

Move to expand zones seems unlikely



    The District’s Attorney General ruled Monday that D.C.’s newly established “prostitution-free zones” seem unconstitutional, making it unlikely that the D.C. Council will expand the zones or make the existing ones permanent.

    “Prostitution-free zones” allow police to make arrests for up to 24 days in the designated area if two or more people congregate in public and ignore dispersal orders, according to the Washington Post

    But at a council hearing yesterday to expand the use of the zones, the Post reports that the District’s attorney general and assistant police chief seemed wary of the zones, citing flaws in the 2006 law which similarly authorized designated prostitution-free areas.

    Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham further went on to say that the zones have played only a minor roll in decreasing prostitution in the area.

    “While PFZs may have contributed to a temporary displacement of street level prostitution, development and changing trends in prostitution have likely played a greater role,” the Post reports Newsham saying at the meeting. According to the Post, Newsham did point out that there has been a decline in prostitution related calls in the District.

    D.C. gay activists have been staunch opponents of these zones. Specifically, transgender activists say the proposal to establish permanent zones is just an attempt to drive away transgendered women out of neighborhoods whether they are sex workers or not, WAMU reported.

    Activists made this documentary to show how sex workers, transgenders and other communities have organized to oppose these zones.

    * Keeping with the prostitution theme of the day, D.C. Council candidate Kevin Chavous signed a deal Tuesday that would drop his misdemeanor charges for soliciting a prostitute in exchange for 32 hours of community service.

    Chavous, who was arrested last month for soliciting oral sex from an undercover cop, also agreed to stay away from the block of K Street where the incident occurred, according to Washington City Paper’s Loose Lips blog.

    After his arrest, Loose Lips reports that Chavous tweeted, “I am innoncent of the charges against me and look forward to clearing my name!”

    Chavous, 27, is running for the seat his father once held representing Ward 7. His incumbent opponent, Yvette Alexander, was the council member who introduced the bill yesterday to strengthen the district’s anti-prostitution zones.

    * Mayor Vincent Gray will have a press conference today to talk details about a recently announced strategic digital alliance between the city and Microsoft. The partnership will promote job training, job growth and education in the District.

    Speculators say that a Microsoft center may open at St. E.

    * Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley attended the State of the Union address last night as a guest of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    Pelosi has close ties to Maryland. Pelosi was born and raised in Baltimore and both her brother and father have served as mayor of the city.

    * Baltimore City School Chief Andres Alonso told Senate legislators yesterday that he wants to borrow a whopping $1.2 billion to overhaul and renovate the city’s dilapidated school buildings.

    The $1.2 billion is six times more than the system’s current bonding authority, according to The Baltimore Sun.

    Alonso told members of the Senate’s Budget and Taxation committee that the plan could save the city time and money in the long run by bundling the necessary repairs into a single construction initiative, according to The Baltimore Sun.

    The Sun reports:

    “But the plan hinges on financial commitments from the state and an increase in the city's bottle tax — both of which could prove tough sells. Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr., an Anne Arundel County Democrat, raised concerns about increasing the city's tax on bottled beverages, a proposal that has drawn opposition from retailers and the beverage industry and citizens weary of the city's high tax rates.”

    Alonso said the needs in schools are great, and a school system-commissioned study will be released in February or March, detailing the needs of individual schools.

    According to the Sun, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings has said she would allocate $23 million to fund school construction, allowing the school system to float as much as $300 million in bonds.

    Alonso said he would put in the $19 million the city typically dedicates to school construction.

    * The three Republican members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday against awarding the county sheriff an $8,000 raise.

    But the seven Democrats on the dais ultimately voted and passed a motion to raise Sheriff Stan Barry’s salary to $160,193.

    According to The Washington Post, the Republicans voted against the raise because they were unhappy with Barry’s decision to seek another term last year despite entering a retirement program that rewards participants with a lump sum and requires them to leave.

    “Stan broke his word,” Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R) told the Post. “I don’t think we should reward bad behavior.

    Barry, a Democrat, has served as sheriff since 1999.