Saturday, April 26


DC MUD - A plan to physically connect Roosevelt Island to the District by means of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge is gaining momentum. The 90-acre federal island park, dedicated to our nation's 26th President back in 1967, is currently accessible solely by way of the George Washington Parkway, and only via northbound, at that. The proposal, heard before the DC Council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment in November, requests that the city work out a relationship with the District Department of Transportation and come up with nearly $35 million to pay for the span.

NATALIE GONTCHAROVA, CURRENT Metro transit planners are considering building a new line that would include a station in Georgetown as part of a series of proposals that would help the agency handle the projected increase in ridership during the coming decades. The line would run from Tysons Corner to RFK Stadium, with potential stops at Rosslyn, Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, Connecticut Avenue and M Street, the Washington Convention Center and Union Station, according to Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, who said he strongly supports the idea, which has been in the works for years. Building the new line would involve constructing a new tunnel under the Potomac River. . . Constructing the new line would cost about $3 billion, which the city could not afford, Evans said. Two-thirds of the $10 billion initially spent to construct the Metrorail system came from the federal government, he said.

WTOP It's like something out of a Franz Kafka novel -- a city buys streetcars for $10 million, but has no tracks to run them. . . . WTOP Radio has learned that three streetcars, purchased by the D.C. Department of Transportation for about $10 million, are running around the streets of the Czech Republic. The cars were purchased more than three years ago, yet they have not yet found their way to the city that paid for them.

D.C. Department of Transportation Director Emeka Moneme tells WTOP the holdup is tracks for the streetcars to run on. They have not been put down, and there is no current timetable for when those tracks will go down. . . While all the details about contractors and operators are worked out in D.C., the streetcars continue to roll around streets of the Czech Republic. . . The cars are not picking up passengers, but they do have to be taken out from time to time so that they are maintained.

WASH POST From a glance at his latest campaign financial disclosure report, it looks as if Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) has finally hit rock bottom. Because, according to the report, Rehberg, a millionaire who sleeps on the sofa in his congressional office and showers in the House gym, spent a cold February night at the Tune Inn, which, while it offers plenty of cheap draft beer and greasy food, doesn't rent rooms -- not even by the hour. Rehberg's reelection campaign report lists a nearly $300 expenditure on Feb. 25 for "lodging" at the Tune Inn, a storied dive bar on Capitol Hill whose walls are covered with mounted deer heads (and a few deer butts) . . . Bartender Matt Manley assured us the bar does not offer any type of lodging, at least not really. "There's a cot in the basement," Manley explained. "But usually people just pass out on it." We had to wonder if Rehberg helped himself to the cot, given his past cavorting on congressional trips. (In Kazakhstan in 2004, Rehberg had several shots of vodka before he fell off a horse, was trampled by another and broke at least one rib.) But it did seem odd, given his tremendous personal wealth: He's the 11th-richest member of the House, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. . . But Rehberg spokesman Bridger Pierce says . . . the campaign just mistakenly listed the Feb. 25 Tune Inn expenditure under "lodging" instead of "food," Pierce explained. He described the event as a "voter appreciation campaign meeting." It must have been a pretty big group, and people must have been really thirsty and hungry. Racking up a $300 tab at the Tune Inn takes serious effort. A cheeseburger costs $7 and a Busch draft beer goes for $3.50. So, do the math.

DOROTHY BRIZILL, DC WATCH More than three weeks ago, I contacted the public information officer at the DC Department of Health, LaShon Seastrunk, to get the resumes of two senior officials in the department. After a somewhat testy telephone conversation yesterday, I was told that my request for simple, basic information had to be reviewed by the City Administrator's office and the mayor’s freedom of information officer. Later in the day, after three weeks had passed, Seastrunk indicated that a formal determination had been made that, "We are going to give you the biographical information you requested.". . . Now some boards, such as the Board of Elections and Ethics, are trying to make public participation in their monthly meetings more difficult. In the April 11th edition of the DC Register, the BOEE has published a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend Section 102 of Volume 3 of the DC Municipal regulations regarding its meetings. After stating in Section 102.8 that, "The Board encourages comments on any issue under the jurisdiction of the Board at its regular meetings and will provide the public with a reasonable opportunity to appear before the Board and offer such comments," it undermines that assurance with a proposed new regulation, Section 102.7, that provides that, "Any member of the public who wishes to comment regarding any agenda item or any issue under the jurisdiction of the Board must notify the Board of his or her request to do so no later than the close of business on the Monday before a Wednesday Board meeting in a writing which includes: (a) their name; (b) Their address; and (c) The specific matter they wish to bring before the Board." It should be noted that the Board seldom has a meeting agenda until the morning of its Wednesday meeting, thus making it impossible, under the proposed new regulation, for a citizen to give adequate advance notice of an intent to comment on an agenda item.

DC FOODIES Despite the published opening bid price of $10,000, the Office of Tax and Revenue ended up selling the contents of Murky Coffee for $7,000. Included in this figure were the espresso machine, which retailed when new for more than $12,000, and a water purification system whose estimated cost was between $3,000 and $4,000. Thankfully, the equipment was purchased by a local man who plans to open The Big Chair, a coffee shop located near the famous landmark in Anacostia. Of the more than 30 groups that have submitted proposals to occupy the space that will be vacated once Murky Coffee is formally evicted this month, the list has been winnowed to four contenders - and it sounds like most, if not all of them, are proposing new coffee shops. These bids are under consideration and a winner is likely to be selected shortly.




Harnessing Student Power to Stop Bullying and Violence

A book that challenges the current thinking that keeping schools safe is accomplished primarily by heightened airport-like security, stricter policies, and zero tolerance. Instead, the book details an inside-out approach, focusing on the influence students have to change the social norms of their own school's culture. The book's Safe School Ambassadors program argues for a diverse and socially-influential group of student leaders with nonviolent communication and intervention skills that in turn, give youth the confidence and power to reject the code of silence and speak up to prevent, de-escalate, and stop hurtful incidents within their peer group, school, and community.

The authors, Rick Phillips, M.Ed., John Linney, M.A., and Chris Pack, B.S.E. have helped thousands of students to reduce bullying and violence, and build a more positive climate in their schools.

"Students hold the key," asserts Rick Phillips, Founder and Executive Director of Community Matters, an organization that works with youth and adults to harness the power of young people to prevent and stop bullying and violence. "Students see, hear, and know things adults don't and can intervene in ways adults can't. Equipping them as peacemakers addresses their needs for purpose and power, and empowers them to stop the cruelty they see around them."



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