Saturday, December 6

DC SATURDAY

ANOTHER DAY WITH RHEE

Sue Hemberger, Concerned 4 DCPS -
Rhee wants to be your personal savior -- she seems delighted to reach down and take on some individual's request (find me a job, find me a school, fix my computer) because what she gets in response is so much flattery (which can then be translated into great PR on an anecdotal level). Reminds me of State of the Union Addresses where some ordinary Joe gets to sit with the First Lady while the President tells his humble and inspiring tale. Or, more surrealistically, of Bunuel's Simon of the Desert.

Gary Imhoff, DC Watch - The Washington Post shares Rhee's faith that the path to improvement is to get rid of older, experienced workers in favor of younger, inexperienced ones, assuming that the new workers will have an initial burst of energy and enthusiasm that will make up for their lack of background and knowledge. Malcolm Gladwell, in his new book Outliers, argues "that excellence at a complex task requires a critical, minimum level of practice," and that "researchers have settled on what they believe is a magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours," It's a commonsense notion, long ago distilled into three words: "practice makes perfect." Rhee rejects it; she thinks teachers are best at the beginning of their careers, and that practice at teaching makes them imperfect. Similarly, over the past few years the Post has used repeated worker buyouts to rid its newsroom of many of its best writers and editors, those with years of experience and depth of knowledge in their fields. As readers of the newspaper, we've seen how well that is working out.

DC CLIPS

When your editor
first heard about the plan to name a portion of South Capitol Street "Taxation Without Representation Street" he immediately recalled answering his door on A Street NE and being confronted by five firemen, a hose, and several hatchets. "I think you want A Street SE," he said. Now imagine a tourist calling 911 and reporting a fire or a mugging on the Taxation Without Representation Street. The dispatcher says, "That's not a street. What's the real name?" And the tourist replies, "Well, that what it says on the sign." And the flames go happily on.

Since the DC Council has finally admitted that it can't ban gun owners, it will just harass them instead. The new legislation requires renewal of gun licenses every three years and annual notification as to whether they still own a gun. They also have to undergo a background check every six years. Of course, if you're a murderer or other violent criminal you'll just keep on ignoring all gun laws, so the only people affected will be the good guys.

Valencia Mohammed, Informer - Hundreds of bands from all across the country are competing for an opportunity to showcase their talents in the upcoming Presidential Inaugural Parade . . . While more than a dozen groups hope to be the entity to represent the District of Columbia, many residents believe the nation's capital should have more than one participant. Sources said Howard University, Ballou, Cardozo and Eastern Senior High School are at the top of the list to represent the District. The tug-of-war to represent the place where the first-elected African American president will live has become a silent "battle of the bands." According to Maj. Maurine Schumann, media spokeswoman for the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, it has received over 1,500 applications for bands, motorcades, organizations and other parade participants. "We've never seen anything like this" Schumann said. "

Marc Segraves, WTOP - Jim Graham, the bow tie wearing councilmember from Ward 1, thinks some of his colleagues in the D.C. Council are quiche-hating ingrates. "I think there's an anti-quiche sentiment," Graham tells WTOP. . . Each month a different councilmember takes a turn providing the food and drink. With 13 council members, it takes a while for a member's turn to come up. When it's Graham's turn -- the Council sometimes leaves the table unsatisfied. Most months the banquet includes eggs, bacon, grits, potatoes, juice and coffee. There's usually so much food staff members can count on plenty of leftovers. This month Graham provided his customary "light" buffett, which didn't offer much for the members, much less the staff. "The introduction of a nice spinach quiche I thought would be refreshing," Graham said.

"Who is responsible for this?" questioned Councilmember Tommy Wells with a look of disappointment on his face. Councilmember David Catania, who at previous breakfast meetings has picked his food by its color, didn't have a lot in the way of choices. "This is a Graham thing isn't it? And he wonders why he can't get any votes. . . Another breakfast like this and Graham won't be able to get the Ten Commandments passed." Graham was not amused. "I detect an absence of gratitude," he said.

DC Indymedia - Metro's Rider's Advisory Council voted 14-2 to call on the Metro Board to hold public hearings on its random bag search policy and to delay the implementation of the searches until after such hearings. In late October, the transit authority announced that Metro Transit Police would begin searching Metro riders' belongings. At tonight's RAC meeting, Metro Police testified that the controversial searches have not begun. "This is a constitutional issue," said Pat Elder of the DC Bill of Rights Coalition, "The RAC is right to ask Metro to delay implementing this policy that has such significant constitutional implications. The Fourth Amendment is supposed to protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures.". . . The RAC passed its resolution after hearing from concerned transit riders from the DC Bill of Rights Coalition, the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, Flex Your Rights, and the Defending Dissent Foundation.

Windy City Times, Chicago - To many politicians and journalists, the communist menace was much closer than the Soviet Union. Joseph McCarthy, a senator from Wisconsin, built his career around accusing government employees of being disloyal. But McCarthy was not alone in this. Lots of public figures together helped make the hunt for communists and their sympathizers a national campaign. In the process, precious freedoms of speech and association were compromised, and lives were ruined. What most history courses don't tell you, however, is this: During the McCarthy era, the witch hunters ousted a lot more gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from government jobs and the military than they did political radicals.

David Johnson, a historian who studied at Northwestern University and now teaches at the University of South Florida, has written a very gripping book titled The Lavender Scare. He offers a close look at life in Washington DC in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, when the purges of "sex perverts"- as gays, lesbians and bisexuals were labeled - were at their height and the persecutions most intense. He paints a terrifying portrait of government investigations, secret surveillance and police abuse. Women and men lived in fear. Co-workers and neighbors spied on one another and became informants. FBI and military investigators engaged in chilling interrogations of suspects. Thousands and thousands of folks lost jobs or were expelled from the military. Many others were cut off from prospective employment. Some packed up and left town; others took their own lives.

WMAL - DC Police are investigating a rash of license plate vandalism in the Mt. Pleasant area. Some area residents say their tags were spray-painted black and they wonder why their cars were targeted. Many of the tags were from out-of-town and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jack McKay expressed concerned that someone may resent non-locals taking parking spots and the vandalism would make them go away. News Channel 8 reports that some of the painted tags are from the District and that finding leads some residents to believe that the vandalism is just a random, inconsiderate act.

Philip Kennicott, Washington Post Staff - Over time, the U.S. Capitol has taken on two very different faces. What was once deemed the back side of the building -- facing the Mall -- became a grand, ceremonial front, with the addition of dramatic stairs, terraces and landscaping that emphasized its prominence on a hill. To the east, the old "front" of the Capitol became, by contrast, more modest, accessible and pastoral. Before ground was broken for the new Capitol Visitor Center in 2000, you could stand on the east side and imagine cows and sheep grazing, as if in the foreground of a romantic landscape painting. This duality -- grandeur and authority vs. simplicity and openness -- also expressed an ideal of government. To survive, a republic must have authority, tradition and ceremonies. But it must also have its yeoman side, which allows the people to wander the halls of power as equals with their legislators.

The "truth to power" side of the Capitol, the East face, has been demolished by the new Visitor Center, a tragically misconceived and overscale addition, which opens today. The East face has become something entirely new, with a false and slick pomposity created by an impressive promenade over an imposing bridge, which seems to cross a kind of moat. It is a historical and aesthetic jumble, a nonsensical place and a gross disfigurement of one of this country's most important and iconic buildings.

Michael Neibauer, Examiner - The District's Department of Transportation receives 400 to 500 service requests each day due to malfunctioning parking meters. City officials have fielded more than 100,000 complaints about its parking meters already this year - an average of several gripes apiece for its aging stock of meters, and a huge increase in angered customers over recent years. . . The long-term trend is even more shocking. In 1995, the city registered only 2,665 meter complaints, meaning the annual increase since then is more than 3,800 percent. . . Texas-based ACS State and Local Solutions is in the second of a five-year, $20 million contract to maintain the District's meters. The company is assessed an $11.98 fine for each day, after 72 hours, that a failing meter goes unfixed. Lisle said the company is meeting its contractual obligations.

Washington Times - A D.C. Inspector General's audit has found that city employees made numerous mistakes in awarding a multimillion-dollar service contract for the District's traffic-camera system that opened the city to potential legal action. "A flaw in any component of the evaluation process places the District at risk for litigation, compromises the integrity of the evaluation process and limits the District's ability to determine whether it is receiving the best value for the goods and services it procures," the audit states.

A new group has been formed to push for DC statehood. Called DC Statehood Yes We Can, the new organization should provide some relief from the taxpayer subsidized colonial wimps at DC Vote. Fifth generation Washingtonian Ann Loikow is behind the effort.

EMENDATION


Harold Cox - I am writing to correct something that was pointed out to me in one of your recent blogs. My name is Harold Cox and I still work for DC Public Schools. I was not fired; however I understand your confusion because I was re-assigned to another school along with 17 of my fellow workers at Coolidge High School this past June, 2008. We were all given letters by Leland Burton, the principal that said we would not be offered positions at Coolidge for the upcoming school year.

I based my letter on the fact that I spoke out about a document Mr. Burton was requiring teachers to sign who re-applied for their jobs at Coolidge. I say this because just earlier last year in a feature story by Washington Post writer Lonnae O'Neal Parker I was praised by Mr. Burton as one of the best teachers he had. How I went from that to being a undesirable can only be explained by the aforementioned incident with the document I refused to sign.;

Although I have been moved from the school I was assigned on August 19, (Wilson High School) I am still on DCPS payroll and placed at Dunbar High School. I am glad that I was able to clear this up because it has caused some undue stress for a number of my associates.

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