Monday, June 2



DC EXAMINER - D.C. Schools Facilities Chief Allen Lew won't release a master plan for school buildings until September, more than a year after the original deadline, members of his staff told The Examiner. Initially Lew was charged with releasing the critical planning document at the start of the academic year - so the public and city officials would have a clear understanding of the cost analysis and schedules for school construction.

In the fall, Lew successfully extended his deadline until October 2007, when he officially took over the school facilities office, and then again to May 2008. Now he has delayed once more, meaning the final version of his master plan won't be available for three more months.

The plan is expected to give an enormous amount of detail about projects now under way and on plans to close, modernize and update deteriorating school buildings. Activists who follow school construction funds said the multiple delays were worrisome.

"I'm very concerned that the DCPS capital budget has become a $200 million-per-year slush fund that the mayor can spend on whatever seems most pressing at the moment. We have no idea how many millions of modernization dollars have already been spent on other projects," said former teacher Marc Borbely, who runs the oversight Web site


Jonetta Barras The Department of Parks and Recreation kicked off this weekend its community garden program. But efforts to locate a dog exercise area or dog park at 39th and Newark Sts. NW could jeopardize one of the District's oldest such enterprises, say some members of the Newark Street Community Garden Association, many of whom are actually dog owners. Other residents in the McLean Gardens community, where the proposed DEA is situated, say the site is "the wrong size and the wrong place." Still others complain about the danger to children.

Proponents counter that the location is perfect, and will provide much needed space for nearly 500 dogs. They claim to have more than 200 signatures of support. . . The battle on Newark Street likely will be replicated in other parts of the city as the DPR attempts to force these DEAs in communities where residents are happy with dogs on leashes and parks for people. . . Gardeners maintain there are threats to wildlife and the possibility of water contamination. . . "Many dog lovers are in denial about their pooches' leavings. But researchers have named the idea that areas used by dogs pump more bacteria into waterways - the "Fido hypothesis," wrote Traci Watson in a recent USA Today article. . . Valerie Harwood, a microbiologist at the University of South Florida, told the USA Today that "Studies done in the last few years put dogs third or fourth on the list of contributors to bacteria in contaminated waters."


Casey Trees This summer we are conducting a study whose purpose is to quantify the shade and urban climate benefits of residential trees. What you may not have heard is that trees planted strategically on the East and West sides of houses can bring about 15 to 40% savings in cooling costs. Getting a handle on the numbers specific to DC will help us encourage best planting practices leading to energy savings and a reduced carbon footprint. If you live in a single-family home within DC, you can help by filling out the survey here.


The Historical Society of Washington and the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum have a great exhibit up at the Carnegie Building on black baseball in DC. Will be there until October 5.

Tom Sherwood, Channel 4 Debby Hanrahan, a longtime city activist, won a big individual victory against Amtrak and was awarded $35,000 (plus $10,000 in legal fees) for what was basically a false arrest back in 2004. Mayor Anthony Williams and the city were using Union Station for the big celebratory unveiling of the Nationals’ logo. Hanrahan was on the fringe of the crowd as an opponent of the whole baseball deal. She wasn’t causing any disruption, but she was holding a sign opposing public funding for the stadium. She was promptly hustled out of the station by Amtrak police, who then arrested her. She was held for 28 hours before being released. . . As those who know her might expect, Hanrahan promptly gave away her part of the award to the local chapter of the progressive National Lawyers Guild and to the Center on Conscience & War, which assists conscientious objectors. Attorney James Klimaski handled the settlement with Amtrak, spending hundreds of hours on the case. Attorney Paul J. Riley handled Hanrahan’s criminal case and got the charges dropped against her in January 2005.


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