February 11, 2009

DC WEDNESDAY

Leah Fabel, Examiner - District Mayor Adrian Fenty and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee touted improvements in graduation and truancy rates Monday - from abysmal to slightly less so. High school students with more than 15 absences by December, an average of one absence per week, declined by 30 percent from 2007 to about 2,290 students in 2008. At all grade levels, that number fell by 16 percent to 3,430 students. Overall, however, more than 7 percent of the District's 46,000 students were chronically truant through December, compared with more than 8 percent in 2007.

There are 21 officially listed rights and privilege of a member of the House of Representatives. Eleanor Holmes Norton has 20 of them, all except voting on the House floor.

In 2008, about 200 more students graduated than in 2007, bumping the graduation rate from 68 percent to 70 percent by last August. Of the District's 17 high schools, 14 increased their graduation rate, but often to still-failing levels. Graduates from Bell Multicultural High School in Columbia Heights jumped by 14 percent, but that still left more than half of its potential graduates without a diploma. At Northeast's Spingarn High, the graduation rate increased by 6 percent to about 57 percent overall.

Loose Lips, City Paper - WASA's Jerry Johnson at water-safety hearing held yesterday by Jim Graham and Mary Cheh, according to Nikita Stewart's WaPo account: "The general manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority told council members yesterday that he would allow a child to drink the city's tap water despite a recent independent study. . . But when asked if he would give that advice to the general public. . . Johnson said, 'I don't know.'"

"Johnson appeared flustered and irritated at the questioning, particularly Graham's inquiries about allowing a child to get a drink of water from the faucet. 'You asked me what I would do, Mr. Graham,' Johnson said. 'That's a trick question. . . . You don't deal with the general public the way you would deal with yourself.'"

Campbell Kilefer, Baltimore Sun - Would Maryland accept D.C.'s problems of many failing public schools and pockets of poverty as the trade-off for adding more than a half-million citizens and a booming D.C. urban economy, as well as the pride and prestige in having the national capital inside Maryland? I think so..

Washington Post - In the District, as startled office workers gathered and stared outside Alex Cooper Auctioneers at Wisconsin Avenue and Jenifer Street NW, about 50 demonstrators forced a pair of workers to retreat into an office, lock the door and call for help on mobile phones. . . The protesters chanted: 'Save our homes! Save our homes!' and 'Bail out Main Street, not just Wall Street!'"

DCist - The Examiner's Michael Neibauer reports that the Adams Morgan Taxi Stand pilot program has been torpedoed after less than three months. What's especially interesting is that the program was apparently discontinued by DDOT all the way back in December, though as far as we know, the agency never announced that change.

Hill Rag - Friendship House, a Hill landmark was abandoned in late November or early December. Since 1936, the site has been the headquarters of a social service organization that for decades supported people with food, job counseling, services for the elderly and summer programs for children. Friendship House and its grounds are listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings, according to Dick Wolf of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. Nancy Metzger, chair of CHRS's Historic Preservation Committee is concerned that neglect and damage might be its permanent undoing; "It's a nightmare" Metzger laments. "The roof is torn back and water is getting in the structure, as well as mold." There is a growing fear that this historic property could be irretrievably damaged or even destroyed. The property has been appraised at $5.5 million. Attempts to reach members of the current Board of Directors and those listed on its web site have proved unsuccessful.