Wednesday, May 7

DC WEDNESDAY

MORE FOXES IN THE CHICKEN COOP

ADRIAN FENTY has named a member of the right wing American Enterprise Institute and an advocate of alternatives to public schools to be "watchdogs" over the DC school system, another indicator of how brazen is the Fenty-Rhee attack on public schools.

RALPH NADER, 2003 The American Enterprise Institute . . . is loaded with corporate money, full of rich fellowships for Washington, D.C. influence peddlers, masquerading as conservatives, who wallow in plush offices figuring out how to assure that big corporations rule the U.S. and the rest of the world.

During the past twenty-two years, the AEI, their nearby corporate patrons, their allied trade associations and corporate "think tanks" have, in effect, taken over the executive branch, the Congress and promoted the judgeships of right-wing corporate lawyers demanding another salary increase.. . . How does the AEI keep its corporate supremacists writing those big checks? How to avoid institutional ennui? Why, go after the liberal or progressive non-governmental associations. Describe them as a collage of Goliaths running an all-points wrecking machine over government and business. Open a theater of the absurd.

DC SHORTS

WE LIKED THE HEADLINE on the latest Post story about Rhee - "Rhee's Need to Hurry Runs Into Parents' Fear of Change" - because it was classic corporate spin: If you don't want to things our way, you're afraid of change. The fact that there are an infinite ways of changing never gets mentioned.

BILL TURQUE, WASHINGTON POST The colored letters on the classroom bulletin board at Stevens Elementary spelled out "Welcome Chancellor Rhee." On this humid evening late last month, however, she was beginning to wear it out. Stevens, which opened in Foggy Bottom in 1868 to educate freed slaves, is one of 23 underenrolled D.C. schools Rhee intends to close, all but three by this summer. Its 236 students have been offered spots for the fall about a half-mile away at Francis Junior High, which will expand to pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. For the 40 or so parents who turned out, there was a thicket of unanswered questions: about safety, about which Stevens teachers would move to Francis, about a decision that smelled to some like a grab for the prime K Street NW real estate where Stevens sits, rather than a move that will benefit their children. . "How can you close a building you've never even been in?" asked Bernard Hackett, whose 5-year-old son attends Stevens. Rhee has toured numerous schools but, until the evening meeting last month, had never entered Stevens. . . Other issues have left Stevens parents anxious. They say they have had no input into the planned $5 million redesign of the Francis building to accommodate preschool and elementary students, including how the retrofitting will keep small children safe from harassment or worse by middle-schoolers. Those seeking other public schools for their children say the chancellor's office has been elusive and unresponsive. There also is frustration because, with less than six weeks left in the school year, parents do not know which Stevens teachers and staff members will move to Francis, a key component in their decision-making about the fall. "This is like the war in Iraq. Let's invade, but we have no plan for the occupation," said Florence Harmon, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in West End-Foggy Bottom.

FORMER CHIEF RAMSEY, who was in charge of the police abuse of demonstrators while in DC, is in trouble again in his new job in Philly. Reports ABC News: A half-dozen Philadelphia police officers kicked and beat three men pulled from a car during a traffic stop as a TV helicopter taped the confrontation. Aerial video captures Philly officers in a confrontation with shooting suspects. . . The tape shows about a dozen officers gathering around the vehicle. About a half-dozen officers hold two of the men on the ground. Both are kicked repeatedly, while one is seen being punched; one also appears to be struck with a baton. The third man is also kicked and ends up on the ground. ABC News

NOW THAT THE SMITHSONIAN REGENTS have voted not to go corporate on redeveloping the Arts & Industry Building, things are looking better for a latino museum on the Mall.

LA TIMES Four years ago, a museum celebrating the history and culture of Native Americans opened at the east end of the National Mall. Within a decade, one honoring the contributions of African Americans will be erected on the west end, near the Washington Monument. Yet Latinos, the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority, have no museum of their own in the nation's capital. But the National Museum of the American Latino came one step closer to reality Tuesday when the House, by a vote of 291 to 117, approved legislation that includes creation of a commission to study the feasibility of building such a facility.

There's no timeline for construction. Neither the museum's location nor the scope of its collection has been determined. . . . The National Coalition to Save Our Mall welcomes the Latino museum commission as long as it takes the time for careful analysis with public comment. The construction should be part of a rethinking about the grand plan of the mall, said Judy Scott Feldman, the coalition's president.

WE GOT A NOTE FROM Muriel Strand, one of the mayoral candidates in Sacramento along with Michelle Rhee's questionable pal Kevin Johnson whose St Hope charter school has turned out to be something less than a wonder. Writes Strand: "I would advise DC folks to look closely at his record before hiring him to run any schools. and I'm not talking about his sex life (or lack thereof) as much as his corporate record, the actual track record of his schools, and his actual development track record."

OVERHEARD BY EAVESDROP DC - "Dude, South America and South Africa are like totally the same thing". . . "No they're not. . . one has latinos and the other has African Americans". . . "Whatever, Jose"

DC EXAMINER A former judge who lost a $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaners over a missing pair of pants is suing to get his job back and at least $1 million in damages. In the suit filed in federal court, Roy Pearson claims he was wrongfully dismissed for exposing corruption within the Office of Administrative Hearings, the department where he worked. In court documents, Pearson said he was protected as a whistle-blower and that the city used the fact that he was being "vilified in the media" to cut him out of his job

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