Sunday, May 18



WASH POST The D.C. police department's decision to arm patrol officers with semiautomatic rifles is promoted by commanders as a way to stay ahead of criminals. But it is raising concerns among civil rights groups and others, who question whether the weapons are necessary. Hundreds of officers will be issued AR-15 rifles starting this summer, and police say the guns will be a better match for criminals. Although Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier was unable to provide an example of when such firepower would have been needed in the recent past, she said police should not be caught off guard. . . "Against a backdrop of danger and harm that could result from high-powered weaponry, it doesn't seem to make sense," said Johnny Barnes, executive director of the ACLU of the National Capital Area. "I wonder why at a time when we're trying to get guns off the street, we're putting more guns on the street." Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said he is concerned that residents will get the wrong message when they see officers carrying the weapons on the streets. "It's more intimidating to have an officer on the corner with a long arm," said Mendelson, head of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. "That may be appropriate in certain circumstances, but we're not in a police state. We don't want police officers walking the street with long arms."

NOT QUITE AS BAD as Chicago where the cops will be patrolling neighborhoods in full SWAT gear and with armored vehicles, but still a pretty sick way to instill respect for the law. On the other hand, we can't say we're surprised. Here's what we wrote when the Chief Lanier took over:


THE CITY HAS ANNOUNCED its first permanent free, weekly household hazardous waste and electronic recycling drop-off site, at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station, 3200 Benning Road, NE. In addition to the HHW and e-cycling collections, the District will also offer the metropolitan area's first permanent weekly document shredding service for residents at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station beginning Saturday, May 24. All electronics will be broken down into parts and recycled or disposed of safely. Computers and hard drives will be wiped clean three times using US Department of Defense high-level security wiping procedures.

- Acceptable items include leftover cleaning and gardening chemicals, small quantities of gasoline, pesticides and poisons, mercury thermometers, paint, solvents, spent batteries of all kinds, antifreeze, chemistry sets, automotive fluids, and asbestos tiles.

- Unacceptable Items include ammunition, bulk trash, wooden TV consoles, propane tanks, microwave ovens, air conditioners and other appliances as well as radioactive or medical wastes.

The Benning Road Trash Transfer Station will be open every Saturday, excluding holidays, from 8 am to 3 pm. Weekly HHW and e-cycling collections will begin this summer at the Ft. Totten Trash Transfer Station, 4900 Bates Road, NE.


IF YOU THINK IT'S BEEN WET in DC in recent weeks, check out these photos from Bethany Beach:

BRUCE JOHNSON, WUSA - A well placed source says the District's top two elected officials met late Thursday and agreed to end their war which had been waged since opening day at the publicly financed stadium that sits along the Anacostia river in Southeast. At issue was the Mayor's insisting that he hold onto all the free tickets to the new ballpark, including tickets to the two posh suites made available to the Mayor and Council by Nat's owners, Ted Lerner and family. . . A well placed source tells me the chief executive had all the tickets from one of the suites delivered to the Chairman's office . . . If you think this matter wasn't deliberated at the highest levels of city hall (John Wilson Building), then consider this; the tickets were delivered to the Council Chairman, not by a staffer, but by the Attorney General.

OF COURSE, in a sane city, the tickets would be considered a bribe, but when you've got the attorney general passing the goodies around, who's going to press charges?

DCRTV - Marc Fisher won't be taking the employee budget-cutting buyout at his subscriber-slumping newspaper. Although he was on the list of those thinking about taking it, "I have decided to stay, both because I love what I do and because I am excited about being part of the reshaping of the newspaper and the evolution of whatever form newsgathering takes in the next phase of our history." Others Posties have agreed to take the buyout, including film critic Stephen Hunter, financial reporter Philip Blanchard, Kids Post editor Mary Lou Tousignant, Health section reporter Sandra Boodman, Metro section reporters Valerie Strauss and Yolanda Woodlee, Book World editor Marie Arana, foreign news reporter Molly Moore, classic music critic Tim Page, Real Estate section reporter Allen Lengel, and deputy foreign editor John Burgess. Those are in addition to the names - like sports columnist Tony Kornheiser and political reporter David Broder - already reported. Some will still work for the paper as freelancers

DC EXAMINER - Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's axing of dozens of school principals was "random and arbitrary," according to the union representing the school leaders. In a harshly worded letter to Rhee, Aona Jefferson, executive vice president of the Council of School Officers, said the firing decisions were made in a "factual vacuum" and says that union leaders are "distressed by the random and arbitrary" way that principals were let go. . . One affected leader, Park View Elementary School Principal Charles Harden, has been in the D.C. Public Schools system for 29 years. Harden started as a teacher and moved up the ranks.

He told The Examiner that during his nine years leading Park View the school hit federal standards every time but once. This year he expects the school to meet required benchmarks again, he said. During his tenure, Park View was noted for its exceptional handling of special education, he said.

DISTRICT CHRONICLES For the last 10 years, [Northeast Performing Arts Group] has been located at 3431 Benning Road but may face closing within the next two years due to rising costs and gentrification. As the city is undergoing gentrification, it is becoming more difficult to pay the bills, [founder Rita] Jackson told The District Chronicles. . . Jackson has helped send more than 250 students to colleges such as the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her approach to saving lives has garnered grants and recognition from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Parent Magazine. Six days a week, six hours a day and year round, children dressed in leotards flock to the center which is hidden next to a liquor store on Benning Road. . . To sustain its programs, the center stages about 150 public performances a year


CANDI PETERSON - On Friday, up to 30 school social workers were given 3 days notice that they will be involuntarily transferred from their DCPS school assignments to alternate assignments to function as 'educational aides' along side certified special education teachers in many self-contained classrooms where necessary program resources and adequate personnel are lacking. These abrupt changes could impact as many as 80-90 student caseloads. Students with disabilities will now have to adjust to changes in their schedules at years end while having their counseling services terminated due to no fault of their own. Certainly these practices do not support student achievement and are not in keeping with best practices or national counseling standards set forth by the national associations of social workers, school psychologists, and school counselors. Our students have enough to be fearful of in their lives. Having stability and consistency is crucial to students' emotional and mental well-being.

WENDY GLENN [The plan for Eastern High] is akin to classism at its worst. Now all of a sudden being located on Capitol Hill means something. Close the school and throw out all of the programs by 2011 for the new elite Washingtonian, forget about the current students and families who have struggled through with limited success in this quagmire of a school system. We are not accepting any incoming new 9th graders for 2008-2009. What happens to those babies who (13-14 years old) usually would walk to Eastern for 9th grade and now have to board a bus in the dark morning and evening? I am extremely disappointed by this whole thing. The community has been thrown down the sewer and our children's education with it.



Earmarks are the enemy of good government. They are inherently unjust. No matter how worthy some recipients may be, organizations that need funding the least will always get the most. Earmarks do not allow transparency. Earmarks are like crack. Five years ago the DC budget had none; the FY 2009 budget has $70 million.

There are established "best practices" procedures that allow independent review. There will always be more worthy organizations and projects than dollars -- in every field. To sort out the most viable and valuable, NEA, NIH, and most large foundations use peer review panels, disinterested experts in each field, to make funding recommendations. Funding should not be decided by social and business connections, as it is with earmarks.

I've posted posted about New York City's new competitive cultural grant program. NYC organizations got even more money after they stopped wasting city council members' time by lobbying for earmarks.

If our council members are such arts experts, let them dance "Swan Lake" and sing "Rigoletto" before they are allowed to grant millions in tax money to arts organizations - Mike Licht


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