Saturday, June 7

DC SATURDAY

RICK ROSENDALL, VP, GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE - What we need is not to turn the police force into an occupation force, and not to infringe civil liberties while insisting that you can get away with it constitutionally. What we need is . . . better basic policing, starting with officers getting out of their cars and getting to know the people in the troubled neighborhoods.

How can the officers who will be involved in the program have been adequately trained in such a short period of time? It is easy to give assurances in an FAQ that officers will respect proper limits, but implementation is another story.

It is particularly disturbing that police officers are being empowered with determining what constitutes “a legitimate purpose” for entering a given area. As my colleague Frank Kameny - one of the pioneers of the gay rights movement in this country - likes to say, this is not some Balkan principality where one has to show one's papers in order to be able to move about freely. . .

It appears that Chief Lanier does not want collaborators in the community, but only cheerleaders. . . It is unfortunate that the city is going down this path rather than recommitting itself to improving basic policing. Before our police department behaves in a way dismissive of community policing, it would be nice if it seriously tried it first.

WASH POST - Checkpoints could be set up in other communities if they are requested by patrol commanders and approved by Lanier. The department also may set up several checkpoints in a neighborhood.

Some pointed out that there are many ways in and out of Trinidad, which could render the program ineffective. Lamar Greene, the 5th District commander, said, however, that the checkpoint will be combined with increased street patrols and deployment of specialty units.

Police will search cars if they suspect the presence of guns or drugs. The enforcement will occur at random hours and last for five days, with the option of extending it to 10. . .

Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) said the initiative appears haphazard and could put officers in danger. He called on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to develop a comprehensive crime-fighting plan. "It's clear that all of us are concerned about violence and murder, but the mayor has no overall strategy," he said. "Do you think . . . murderers are going to tell police they are there to kill somebody?" Barry asked.

Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said the plan could be viewed as an infringement on civil liberties. "It's an extraordinary measure, but it's likely to raise some constitutional questions," Gray said.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), a law professor at George Washington University, said the police department is establishing a distressing pattern. She cited its recent plans to arm patrol officers with AR-15 semiautomatic weapons and another plan to ask residents to submit to voluntary searches of their homes for illegal guns.

But Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) was supportive of the plan. "I commend the chief because she is doing her very best to come up with innovative ways to help resolve" the crisis, he said.

WITH ACTIVISTS ANNOUNCING a news conference at the site of the proposed checkpoint, the police backed off introducing it until this evening. Present at the news conference were representatives of the ACLU, NAACP, National Black Police Association, Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, AFL-CIO, and the Coalition for Housing and Justice. Among the revelations: despite an agreement to consult with the NACCP police task force on significant changes, such consultations never took place concerning the checkpoint.

AT PRESENT ONLY ONE CHECKPOINT is planned, meaning the whole scheme is not only unconstitutional, it makes no sense at all except for gaining space in the media. It's the practical equivalent of swallowing a band aid to stop internal bleeding.

SCHOOLS

DC EXAMINER An estimated 11 D.C. public school students are dropping out of the system each day and will fail to earn their high school diplomas, putting the city's graduation rate more than 10 percentage points below the national average, according to a new report by Education Week. For the study, researchers for the online publication analyzed 2004-2005 statistics . . . Unlike the nation as a whole, D.C.'s graduation rate has been dropping since 2001, when 65 percent of seniors finished high school on time. The rate for 2004-2005 was 58 percent, and Education Week estimates the graduation rate for this school year to be the same.

DC EXAMINER A popular teacher recruitment program failed to abide by federal accounting rules, making it difficult to determine if federal grants were properly spent, according to an investigation by the Education Department's inspector general. Teach for America did not properly document how it spent federal grant money it received during 2003-2005, the period of the audit, according to the inspector general's report.

The nonprofit, which recruits and trains top students to teach in low-income schools, spent about $6 million in grants during the review period. Auditors looked at $1.5 million of that to see how the money was spent and documented. Teach for America couldn't adequately document about half of that, or nearly $800,000, according to the report.

Nearly all of the questioned costs were for food and lodging for recruits and staff members who attended training sessions in 2004 and 2005. Teach for America "did not fully comply with applicable laws and regulations," said the report.

DC: WHERE LIVING IS A MOVING VIOLATION

T GEST, DC WATCH - I had hoped that the Fenty administration would improve the beleaguered DC Department of Parks and Recreation. Instead, I was met this week with a new requirement, not announced in advance, that every entrant at community centers must get a permanent ID card for entry in the future. No rationale was offered for this at the center I visited - just that they had been ordered to do this by DPR headquarters. . . I have been to public community centers all over the US, and never have run into this. Why does our DC government want to make our centers resemble the old Soviet Union? Will we have "watchers" in the halls to make sure we don't misbehave? Free the community centers.

POLITICS

NIKITA R STEWART, WASHINGTON POST Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), often recognized as "mayor for life," will kick off his re-election campaign June 21 at theTemple of Praise Church in Southeast. . . According to the release, 72-year-old Barry, who had a bout with prostrate cancer and is still plagued by diabetes and high blood pressure, "received a clean bill of health from his physician before making his decision to seek re-election." He noted accomplishments, such as 3,000 new affordable housing units, the new Giant grocery store and the soon-to-open IHOP restaurant. . . Seven challengers - Sandra Seegars, Charles E. Wilson, Yavocka Young, Ahmad Braxton-Jones, Howard Brown, Darrell Gaston and Chanda McMahan - have lined up to unseat Barry in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.

STADIUMS

WHERE TO SIGN A PETITION to oppose the city subsidized soccer stadium.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC CLEANSING

WASH POST Standing in traffic, trying to catch the gaze of drivers who fiddle with their radio buttons to avoid looking into the eyes of a homeless person, is less intimidating than standing up for yourself. Which is what Xavier J. Bannister was doing in asking for a place in a neighborhood he considers his own as much as those who own property there.

"I don't know if I made a difference today. I got some dirty looks. That was hard," said Bannister, 31, who marched along H Street in Washington, trying to get the downtown lunch crowd to see him. "But at least I let my voice be heard. And some people honked their horns and waved."

Bannister, with about a dozen other homeless men and about 50 of their supporters, marched through the District, demanding that the eyes hiding behind the giant movie star sunglasses look at them and that the ears plugged with iPods hear them. . .

The city plans to close the homeless shelter in the historic Franklin School at 13th and K streets NW in October. A facility proposed along a rejuvenated stretch of Georgia Avenue for the Central Union Mission was rejected. And the shelter on the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast, where many men are being bused nightly, is tucked far away, said Tom Howarth, director of the Father McKenna Center at St. Aloysius Catholic Church on North Capitol Street.

DC LIFE

BE SURE TO HAVE A LARGE GLASS OF WATER BEFORE PROCEEDING TO A COOLING CENTER: "The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency will partially implement the city's multi-agency heat emergency plan in response to the National Weather Service's forecast of higher than average temperatures over the next several days. The partial implementation will include the opening of cooling centers where passersby can get a drink of water and brief respite from the heat. The cooling centers will be operational from 12 pm until 6 pm today at four District government buildings - Reeves Municipal Center, 2000 14th Street, NW; Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, King Office Building, 3720 Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue, SE. and the Virginia Williams Center, 920 Rhode Island Avenue, NE. " Government announcement

WASHCYCLE Just a reminder that the DC version of the 3rd annual World Naked Bike Ride is this Saturday. The riders will meet at McPherson Square June 7 at 3:00, leave at 4:00 pm, ride for an hour, disband, clean up the area and leave by 6:00 pm. The purpose is to protest oil dependency. Protest indecent exposure to vehicle emissions. Protest all dehumanizing and destructive effects of car-culture. Show your vulnerability as a cyclist on our roads and celebrate the power and individuality of your own body.

This year we had planned on going naked, but Amy at the NPS has decided not to honor our First Amendment Rights and has threatened to arrest anyone completely naked. My advice: sunscreen, in generous portions.

ABC 7 Detectives have identified the body of a woman that was found in the Potomac River. The body was identified as 47-year-old Helen Johnstone. She was found just after 1 p.m. Wednesday floating in the Potomac River near the Virginia side of the river. Authorities believe she may have been hiking and slipped and fell into the water. . . Sources told ABC 7 News, former television star, actress Lynda Carter, of 'Wonder Woman" fame, called 911 after seeing Johnstone's body floating north of the 3500 block of Water Street. Carter had been out on the water rowing when it happened, but left the private Potomac boat club abruptly without giving comment.

B STANFIELD, METBLOGS If you walked by Greater Goods, the all things eco-friendly store on U Street, tonight and glanced in the window you may have wondered what all those nerdy looking guys and girls were doing with soldering irons huddled around several large tables. They were doing what any self-respecting geek in DC could be doing on a Thursday night: attending one of Make:DC's first organizational meetings and putting together a tiny circuit board useful for controlling motors like those found in robots.

Make:DC is a new group organized by local mechanical engineer Adam Koeppel as an offshoot of the popular MAKE Magazine. According to the website, the group aims to “inspire and organize the Washington, DC community of makers for greater collaboration and learning.” From tonight's meeting, it seems they're well on their way.

I went into the meeting not having used a soldering iron since shop class in middle school, and through some expert assistance and liberal borrowing of tools, I was able to build one of the $20 DC Motor Driver Board designed by one of the group members. (If you're not sure what a DC Motor Driver Board is, fear not, I wasn't entirely sure either. But in future meetings, we'll be using them to control motors, build small robots, and do other neat things with them.) If you'd like to find out more, visit the group's website at MakeDC.org. The next meeting is June 19, and other activities are advertised on the website.

DC HISTORY

Things you probably didn't know about Georgetown: "Sydney Paskel received a call a couple of years ago from a company in Georgetown, D.C., that had a leak. While digging for the gas line, they found something unordinary. The gas leak was coming from a bamboo line. 'At the turn of the century, they used bamboo to run gas through. However, as time passed, the wood began to deteriorate,' Paskel said. DC Chronicles

MEDIA

ROGUE COLUMNIST The Wall Street Journal took a look at what it calls a "big daily's hyperlocal flop," as the Washington Post poured resources into creating a "local-local" product for an affluent county. For believers in the power of rigorous local coverage to help save newspapers, the Washington Post's launch of LoudounExtra.com last July was a potentially industry-defining event. It paired a journalistic powerhouse with a dream team of Internet geeks to build a virtual town square for one of Virginia's and the nation's most-affluent and fastest-growing counties. Almost a year later, however, the Web site is still searching for an audience. Its chief architect has left for another venture in Las Vegas, and his team went with him. And while Post executives say they remain committed to providing so-called hyperlocal news coverage, they are re-evaluating their approach.

RECOVERED HISTORY

THE MANUFACTURER AND BUILDER, VOLUME 2, ISSUE 6, JUNE 1870 Some years ago, when experiments were made with the pendulum at Bunker Hill Monument, Massachusetts, it was incidentally found by Professor Horsford, that every morning the plumb-line suspended from the centre of the top to the floor indicated an inclination to the west, every noon toward the north, and in the afternoon to the east. These movements were found the most marked when the sun shone, and thus due to the expansion of one side of the structure by the heat of its rays. It was lately tried what is the amount of this influence on the Capitol dome in Washington, which is of iron, a substance which, as is well known, expands more than stone. A long plumb-line was fastened to the under side of the ceiling of the rotunda, and extended to the stone pavement below. The plummet described daily an elliptical curve, of which the longest diameter was from east to west, and amounted in hot, sunny days to four or five inches. Professor Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution, remarks in regard to this, "By molecular action of this kind, perpetually continued, time, the slow but sure destroyer, levels with the ground the loftiest monuments of human pride."

When your editor was a reporter for Roll Call in the 1960s, he did a story on the diurnal differences in the Capitol dome. Presumably it's still occurring, but no signs yet of leveling this lofty monument with the ground due to molecular action

ACCORDING TO SLOSHSPOT'S LIST of the ten oldest bars in America, Old Ebbitt, established in 1856, makes it into fourth place: Founded by William E. Ebbitt, the guest list has included Presidents McKinley, Grant, Johnson, Cleveland, Roosevelt, and Harding. The bar fell into hard times leading up to 1970, when it was purchased by Clyde's Restaurant Co. Ebbitt's has had many homes throughout the years, moving and expanding over the generations, but it wasn't until 1983 that the bar found its current home. Through the years the bar has amassed a rich history and a wealth of antiques from our Nation's Capital. Still a haunt of the world's most powerful profiles, as well as area tourists, Ebbitt's remains active in many regional events including hosting the World Famous Oyster Riot each year. . . Chances are, if you drink too much, someone more important than you has done the same in just that very seat.

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