Sunday, May 18

DC SUNDAY

DC'S POLICE STATEHOOD

WASH POST The D.C. police department's decision to arm patrol officers with semiautomatic rifles is promoted by commanders as a way to stay ahead of criminals. But it is raising concerns among civil rights groups and others, who question whether the weapons are necessary. Hundreds of officers will be issued AR-15 rifles starting this summer, and police say the guns will be a better match for criminals. Although Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier was unable to provide an example of when such firepower would have been needed in the recent past, she said police should not be caught off guard. . . "Against a backdrop of danger and harm that could result from high-powered weaponry, it doesn't seem to make sense," said Johnny Barnes, executive director of the ACLU of the National Capital Area. "I wonder why at a time when we're trying to get guns off the street, we're putting more guns on the street." Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said he is concerned that residents will get the wrong message when they see officers carrying the weapons on the streets. "It's more intimidating to have an officer on the corner with a long arm," said Mendelson, head of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. "That may be appropriate in certain circumstances, but we're not in a police state. We don't want police officers walking the street with long arms."

NOT QUITE AS BAD as Chicago where the cops will be patrolling neighborhoods in full SWAT gear and with armored vehicles, but still a pretty sick way to instill respect for the law. On the other hand, we can't say we're surprised. Here's what we wrote when the Chief Lanier took over:

DC FINALLY GETS WEEKLY HAZARDOUS RECYCLING FACILITY

THE CITY HAS ANNOUNCED its first permanent free, weekly household hazardous waste and electronic recycling drop-off site, at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station, 3200 Benning Road, NE. In addition to the HHW and e-cycling collections, the District will also offer the metropolitan area's first permanent weekly document shredding service for residents at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station beginning Saturday, May 24. All electronics will be broken down into parts and recycled or disposed of safely. Computers and hard drives will be wiped clean three times using US Department of Defense high-level security wiping procedures.

- Acceptable items include leftover cleaning and gardening chemicals, small quantities of gasoline, pesticides and poisons, mercury thermometers, paint, solvents, spent batteries of all kinds, antifreeze, chemistry sets, automotive fluids, and asbestos tiles.

- Unacceptable Items include ammunition, bulk trash, wooden TV consoles, propane tanks, microwave ovens, air conditioners and other appliances as well as radioactive or medical wastes.

The Benning Road Trash Transfer Station will be open every Saturday, excluding holidays, from 8 am to 3 pm. Weekly HHW and e-cycling collections will begin this summer at the Ft. Totten Trash Transfer Station, 4900 Bates Road, NE.

DC SHORTS

IF YOU THINK IT'S BEEN WET in DC in recent weeks, check out these photos from Bethany Beach:

BRUCE JOHNSON, WUSA - A well placed source says the District's top two elected officials met late Thursday and agreed to end their war which had been waged since opening day at the publicly financed stadium that sits along the Anacostia river in Southeast. At issue was the Mayor's insisting that he hold onto all the free tickets to the new ballpark, including tickets to the two posh suites made available to the Mayor and Council by Nat's owners, Ted Lerner and family. . . A well placed source tells me the chief executive had all the tickets from one of the suites delivered to the Chairman's office . . . If you think this matter wasn't deliberated at the highest levels of city hall (John Wilson Building), then consider this; the tickets were delivered to the Council Chairman, not by a staffer, but by the Attorney General.

OF COURSE, in a sane city, the tickets would be considered a bribe, but when you've got the attorney general passing the goodies around, who's going to press charges?

DCRTV - Marc Fisher won't be taking the employee budget-cutting buyout at his subscriber-slumping newspaper. Although he was on the list of those thinking about taking it, "I have decided to stay, both because I love what I do and because I am excited about being part of the reshaping of the newspaper and the evolution of whatever form newsgathering takes in the next phase of our history." Others Posties have agreed to take the buyout, including film critic Stephen Hunter, financial reporter Philip Blanchard, Kids Post editor Mary Lou Tousignant, Health section reporter Sandra Boodman, Metro section reporters Valerie Strauss and Yolanda Woodlee, Book World editor Marie Arana, foreign news reporter Molly Moore, classic music critic Tim Page, Real Estate section reporter Allen Lengel, and deputy foreign editor John Burgess. Those are in addition to the names - like sports columnist Tony Kornheiser and political reporter David Broder - already reported. Some will still work for the paper as freelancers

DC EXAMINER - Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's axing of dozens of school principals was "random and arbitrary," according to the union representing the school leaders. In a harshly worded letter to Rhee, Aona Jefferson, executive vice president of the Council of School Officers, said the firing decisions were made in a "factual vacuum" and says that union leaders are "distressed by the random and arbitrary" way that principals were let go. . . One affected leader, Park View Elementary School Principal Charles Harden, has been in the D.C. Public Schools system for 29 years. Harden started as a teacher and moved up the ranks.

He told The Examiner that during his nine years leading Park View the school hit federal standards every time but once. This year he expects the school to meet required benchmarks again, he said. During his tenure, Park View was noted for its exceptional handling of special education, he said.

DISTRICT CHRONICLES For the last 10 years, [Northeast Performing Arts Group] has been located at 3431 Benning Road but may face closing within the next two years due to rising costs and gentrification. As the city is undergoing gentrification, it is becoming more difficult to pay the bills, [founder Rita] Jackson told The District Chronicles. . . Jackson has helped send more than 250 students to colleges such as the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her approach to saving lives has garnered grants and recognition from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Parent Magazine. Six days a week, six hours a day and year round, children dressed in leotards flock to the center which is hidden next to a liquor store on Benning Road. . . To sustain its programs, the center stages about 150 public performances a year

DC VOICES

CANDI PETERSON - On Friday, up to 30 school social workers were given 3 days notice that they will be involuntarily transferred from their DCPS school assignments to alternate assignments to function as 'educational aides' along side certified special education teachers in many self-contained classrooms where necessary program resources and adequate personnel are lacking. These abrupt changes could impact as many as 80-90 student caseloads. Students with disabilities will now have to adjust to changes in their schedules at years end while having their counseling services terminated due to no fault of their own. Certainly these practices do not support student achievement and are not in keeping with best practices or national counseling standards set forth by the national associations of social workers, school psychologists, and school counselors. Our students have enough to be fearful of in their lives. Having stability and consistency is crucial to students' emotional and mental well-being.

WENDY GLENN [The plan for Eastern High] is akin to classism at its worst. Now all of a sudden being located on Capitol Hill means something. Close the school and throw out all of the programs by 2011 for the new elite Washingtonian, forget about the current students and families who have struggled through with limited success in this quagmire of a school system. We are not accepting any incoming new 9th graders for 2008-2009. What happens to those babies who (13-14 years old) usually would walk to Eastern for 9th grade and now have to board a bus in the dark morning and evening? I am extremely disappointed by this whole thing. The community has been thrown down the sewer and our children's education with it.

READER COMMENTS

EARMARKS

Earmarks are the enemy of good government. They are inherently unjust. No matter how worthy some recipients may be, organizations that need funding the least will always get the most. Earmarks do not allow transparency. Earmarks are like crack. Five years ago the DC budget had none; the FY 2009 budget has $70 million.

There are established "best practices" procedures that allow independent review. There will always be more worthy organizations and projects than dollars -- in every field. To sort out the most viable and valuable, NEA, NIH, and most large foundations use peer review panels, disinterested experts in each field, to make funding recommendations. Funding should not be decided by social and business connections, as it is with earmarks.

I've posted posted about New York City's new competitive cultural grant program. NYC organizations got even more money after they stopped wasting city council members' time by lobbying for earmarks.

If our council members are such arts experts, let them dance "Swan Lake" and sing "Rigoletto" before they are allowed to grant millions in tax money to arts organizations - Mike Licht

Saturday, May 17

WHITE GENTRIFIERS MEET THEIR BLACK NEIGHBORS. . . .THROUGH THE WEB

I've lived on Capitol Hill for some 20 years in two spurts - including editing a neighborhood paper during the time of the riots in the 1960s - but I could not recall anything like the hostility, sense of entitlement and insensitivity of recent messages that started cropping on a local listserv in response to a few teenage muggings, for which responsibility was quickly assigned a nearby public housing project, Potomac Gardens. The project has been there for decades; many of the complainants have only recently arrived on the Hill, and, as in other gentrfying parts of town, are demanding that their new neighborhood meet their standards. One resident even suggest hiring Blackwater to deal with the problem, while someone else proposed a march, not on city hall or the police station, but on the public housing project itself. It was all pretty depressing - until other voices began to be heard and I realized I was getting a unique view of how the Internet can serve as mediator. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion. - Sam Smith

-- Why not march through Potomac Gardens to protest and call attention to at least the following: the consistently awful management of PG and places like it in the city; the inherent unfairness of the disproportionate number of calls for police and ambulance service to -- or as a result of -- residents residing, on the dole, at PG; the childish absurdity and paucity of the "no-snitch" code embraced and perpetuated by PG residents; the ineffectual lip-service paid to those of us who fund, through our taxes, places throughout the city like PG, but who are constantly victimized by its residents and particularly by the children of its lease-holders; the absurdity of DC's juvenile shield laws that seem to fly in the face of the 1st Amendment when it comes to sharing information. . . and finally, the simplest, we're just all sick of the crap we have been force-fed by our civic leaders, PC pundits, and apologists alike, that living in an economically, racially, and demographically diverse urban environment entails accepting that we should expect to be assaulted, stolen from, and abused by those among us who are deemed "less fortunate?" - S&P

A number of other white neighbors supported the idea but then. . .

-- I must say that I am alarmed by the idea of an angry mob storming Potomac Gardens and other public housing developments. . . I do not in any way underestimate the severity of the problem and the frustration and anger over these incidents, but a mass demonstration makes no distinction between the "good" parents and delinquent parents, the good kids and the bad. It comes across as an us/them confrontation, "we" the homeowners and "you" the "welfare beneficiaries of tax dollars." I don't like the sound of it and I don't see it as a way to promote any kind of dialogue or meaningful improvement. - Marika Rosen

-- I disagree with you. There needs to be a firmer and clearer establishment of "us" versus "them", specifically in the area of violent crime and victimization. We need to send a message that among "us," regardless of race and demographics, we do not tolerate being victimized by "them," consisting of people who directly and indirectly contribute to the violence against "us" and our victimization. I'm not suggesting writing off this generation of kids residing in places like PG, but I am stating emphatically that the time has come to forcefully send the message to them, their parents and their apologists that we, as a civilized and peace-loving segment of the greater community have had enough. That it is unacceptable for anybody living among us to violently and brutally assault and rob us.

- I feel for you and am so sorry about what happened to you on Tuesday night. I support your efforts to bring the community together to make our neighborhood safer. I've got to say, though, that a march on people's homes isn't the way to go. I know you're not trying to intimidate innocent families, and again, I fully appreciate your anger and desire to take back our streets, but honestly some of what I've read makes me think of KKK marches in the 60s. I agree with Tom and others who've said the main message is that we want to be safe in our neighborhoods. I like the idea of a broad-based march, but not a march on Potomac Gardens. - Marc

--- When I lived in Philly "Take Back the Night" marches were common and frequent. . . but these weren't people marching on the MLK Projects or the South Broad high rises. . . This was making a statement about the rights of people to walk down a sidewalk, sit on their porch or let their kids play on the stoop . . . I think that starting an idea with the assumption that people will turn this into a race and class thing is to allow it to become a statement that people aren't trying to make. This isn't about tearing down PG. . . t's about being able to be safe in our neighborhoods.

--- I honestly wonder if people know how they sound talking about the people who live in Potomac Gardens et al and the black kids in this neighborhood?

I by no stretch of the imagination think that what the kids who have been attacking people are right. I do think that they should be punished. That being said, every black youth who crosses your path in this neighborhood doesn't live in Potomac Gardens et al. I know of many black kids who live in a house just as nice as many of yours.

Also, did it occur to you that many of these kids are pissed off because their families have been displaced by the crazy prices of homes around here? The houses that they knew as their Grandma's, Aunties, cousin's are now yours. Yes, their anger is displaced but just think about it for a second. Then there is the fact that many of these kids are kids that have had to leave the neighborhood because their families couldn't afford the houses anymore and they come back to hang with their friends they grew up with. . . which again means they didn't come from the projects or section 8 housing.

I hope that you don't look at my daughter and just assume because she's black that she's in the projects. I mean really, we black people can and do amount to more than that.

This whole discussion has taken on an elitist, racist, angry mob slant. Isn't the whole idea to find a productive way to stop this? Can't something be done without making it look like this list is saying "hey all you poor black people, we don't want your kind around here?" I suddenly don't feel so welcome in this neighborhood anymore. - Manda (A single black parent who hopes her daughter never has to feel that she isn't wanted in her neighborhood!)

-- If you hadn't noticed, Potomac Gardens and the other low-income housing in the area are predominantly housed by African Americans. How could Manda, Bessie, or I not be offended by the tone and focus of your "idea". and - to make matters worse, your subsequent postings continue to suggest that low-income residents (a) - don't have morals; (b) don't know how to raise their children; and (c) - don't value living in a crime-free neighborhood.

I wonder what your exposure to inner-city life has been. I wonder just how many low-income housing projects you've lived near. And finally, I wonder if you really understand the dynamics of crime. Your focus on the low-income areas of our neighborhood and the people within them is the very thing that angers minorities (and maybe non-minorities) faced with an influx of "gentrifiers". This "us" versus "them" mentality is exactly what divides a community. How can you even suggest this approach and use "us" versus "them" in a message about building a community against crime??

Your repeated defenses of your statements later in the postings really demonstrate your ignorance of how to effectively deal with these kinds of issues. And I'm not saying I'm an expert on crime prevention or community development, but I'm pretty sure that community development can't result in a march directed on poor folks who are in our community.

In the past, we tried to combat crime by reaching out to our neighbors in hard-hit areas and encouraging them to join in the fight. To me, this would mean knocking on the doors of your neighbors who you don't ordinarily talk to and ask them if they would be willing to be more active in a neighborhood watch. . . or perhaps if they would participate more regularly in the Orange Hat activities or other. Or simply ask people to leave their porch lights on and call 311. It would not mean organizing a posse and marching on the homes of innocents and criminals, demanding change. How do you know that those criminals are even based in Potomac Gardens? How can running in the direction of a complex mean that the crime emanates from that complex? It might be your neighbor's nephew visiting his aunt who engaged in criminal mischief. But you'll never know because your blinders have you directed toward the low-income side of town.

For my part, I will continue to try and work within the community (insofar as my work schedule allows) with additional neighborhood watches, leaving my porch light on, and keeping a vigilant eye. I would not mind meeting with city officials to see if they have any ideas about how we can address these concerns - but I don't think the Housing Authority is the source for a solution . . .

I fully expect to get a heated response from you or others, but please think and breathe before writing back - I did, and I think calming down is what I needed to do. Please think about what you've said in past postings (perhaps re-read them) and think about what others have said in response to the postings and maybe we can come up with a more constructive solution to crime in the area - one other than a "march" on a housing project that some have only assumed holds criminals. - Rochelle, African American

--- I have been watching the conversation of the past several days, trying to figure out how to comment constructively. I'm pretty sure this post will fail spectacularly, but I am too angry and ashamed to stay quiet any longer.

Martin Luther King and his fellow marchers were Americans protesting immoral laws that rendered them second-class citizens. For people with every advantage (affluent, educated, white) to invoke Dr. King's name as they plan a march on their disadvantaged neighbors appalls me.

There have been constructive voices, people who speak of building alliances across racial and economic lines to achieve a common goal. But so many of the posts to this list have been angry and vindictive and, yes, racist and classist. (You don't need to use the n-word to be racist; repeat the word "babymomma" enough times and you've achieved the same effect. Likewise, saying, "it's because they're poor" is pretty much the definition of classism.)

I can't figure out what this march is supposed to achieve, either. I saw a reference to closing Potomac Gardens ­ what, so homeless kids are less likely to commit crime?

Someone mentioned threatening parents of truant children with jail time. I must've missed the news that putting parents in prison improves their children's prospects ­ I thought the evidence pretty clearly demonstrated the opposite.

If you're so passionate about reducing juvenile crime, how about proposing an intensive mentoring program at Potomac Gardens, so we can reach kids before they mug someone?

Another poster mentioned the carrot and the stick. Sticks might work on donkeys, but carrots are far more effective at changing human behavior. (Sticks tend to piss us off.) A lower birth rate isn't a cause of affluence; it comes as a result of it. If we want young women to stop having a lot of children at an early age, we have to increase their opportunities so they have an incentive not to. If we want young men to steer clear of their criminal behavior, likewise: They need an incentive not to.

What if HillEast funded a modest scholarship toward the college tuition of any child at Potomac Gardens who earned his or her high school diploma and did not get pregnant or get into trouble with the police? That's an incentive to straighten up and fly right.

A march whose message seems to be "We're rich and white and better than you, get out of our way!" might be more satisfying than other, more constructive options ­ but it's an incentive to commit mayhem.

Look, I get it: You're scared and angry. Guess what? So are those kids. Scared they'll have to leave the only home they've known, scared that their neighborhood is changing, scared they'll never know anything but poverty, scared they'll die before they're 20. The truth is, they have a lot more reason to be scared than you do. And just because they're expressing their fear as anger doesn't mean you can't come up with something more constructive. - Molly Wyman, Hill resident for 40 years come Tuesday

--- Hey Molly. . . you and I live fairly close to each other, so let's talk about who is appalled, and let's talk about fear. Think of this. . . if MLK was alive today, would he be appalled to know that he gave his life to civil rights, and this is how the kids and families use those civil rights against white people. Would he be appalled that these young black kids are committing racially motivated hate crimes. I think both you and I know the answer is a resounding yes, he would be appalled. Hey white people deserve peace and justice too!

So, he fought to end immoral laws that rendered blacks being placed as second class citizens. Well, I'm not about to become a second class citizen to the criminals. I'm not about to live in fear that my partner and I (gay partner, not business partner) might get beaten down by some young ignorant thug who has an equally ignorant parental structure. That is my fear everyday, that my tall skinny blonde boyfriend might not make it home from the metro because of these thugs. I'm not going to stand for it. I don't care "why" they are that way. I don't care if they are poor, or black, or have baby mommas, or were a product of one. I care about my loved one getting home from the three block walk safe. . . Clearly, you will not be part of the solution.

--- I suppose I'll attend to be community like. . . but is charging those rock throwing arms of the "gang of four" with our home cooked meals really going to solve the problem? I think, probably not. Then again, they'll know we are out of our homes, so please make sure to lock your roof hatches.

--- I'm proposing a weekly Friday Night Potluck Dinner and Discussion to be held at Potomac Gardens ­ open to all members of our community. I will invite Chief Lanier and Commander Kamperin from MPD to join us, as well as the leadership at Potomac Gardens, and I hope to create a conversation about safety, perceptions, and how our neighborhood builds strength in the community among all neighbors.

I'll host the first Friday Night Potluck in two weeks on Friday May 30th, 6:00 ­ 7:30 pm. Given Memorial Day Weekend next week, I think this is our first opportunity. We'll hold them each week on Friday evening through the month of June and if the residents feel we need to continue, then we can keep it going on a weekly basis after that. - Best, Tommy (the city councilmember from the area)

Friday, May 16

DC THURSDAY

FENTY SWEETHEART DEAL OF THE WEEK

David Nakamura and Nikita Stewart. Washington Post - Mayor Adrian M. Fenty pushed ahead in his bid to award a $120 million D.C. Lottery contract to a start-up firm, asking the D.C. Council to reconsider his controversial proposal, a day after the legislative body moved to block it. In two letters to Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), Fenty (D) simultaneously withdrew the contract legislation from the council's consideration and resubmitted it. The maneuver gives the administration 45 more days to persuade council members to support the deal, which would have been declared dead today if no action had been taken.

Fenty and D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi are seeking to give control of the lottery operations to W2I, a nine-month-old venture, but council members have questioned the firm's credentials. Gandhi has said the city is losing $5 million a year under the management of Lottery Technology Enterprises, which has been working with the city for 25 years. . .

W2I is a partnership between international gaming services provider Intralot and W2Tech, a firm established less than a year ago by real estate developer Warren C. Williams Jr. and his wife, Alaka Williams. Council members have raised doubts about Warren Williams, who operated a nightclub that was closed after a patron was fatally stabbed. He also owns an apartment complex where residents have criticized his management.

UNION OFFICIAL GOES TO THE TEACHERS FAIR

Candi Peterson - DCPS teachers from our closing and restructured schools showed up to the first in a series of teacher transfer fairs on Saturday, May 10, at Eastern Senior High School. As a Washington Teachers Union Board member, I took the opportunity to attend the afternoon session of the transfer fair. It was a challenge to gain entry, given that my name was not among the list of those teachers and related school personnel from closing and restructured schools. I, like many others, were asked to show my ID. When I indicated that I was a WTU Board of Trustee member and flashed my business card, inquiry was made at the security checkpoint whether I was coming to the transfer fair as an observer. I nodded in agreement that I was. Checkpoint staff advised me that I would need an escort to walk down a flight of stairs to the transfer event, which I readily accepted.

At first glance, I noticed that there were approximately one hundred forty schools listed on the Excel spreadsheet that was provided to potential applicants, outlining school vacancies for positions ranging from teachers of varying specialties to special education coordinators. Although one hundred forty schools were on the list to interview potential applicants, approximately forty-four schools were conspicuously absent for reasons unclear to all of those in attendance. Many teachers who inquired about the "absent schools" were advised to leave their resumes and told that someone would be in contact with them later.

I took the opportunity to speak with as many teachers as I could. I saw looks on my teacher colleagues' faces that ranged from worry, fear, disappointment, depression, and confusion to frustration, even pain. Even without knowing me, teachers welcomed the opportunity to speak candidly with me. Many wondered what would happen to them if they did not get selected for a position. Some spoke of wanting to follow their students, while others grappled with their own uncertain futures - with college tuition yet to pay, ailing and aging parents, and the fiscal responsibilities of day-to-day life. The hard-core reality is that mid-level to senior teachers just might get overlooked by a reformed school system that favors younger, teachers under age forty. Principals can buy two inexperienced and uncertified teachers for the price of one experienced, certified one. It seemed to me that all they were asking for is a little help from our school system. . . After all, these are the same people who held our system together when for many years DCPS jumped from one educational bandwagon to another, changed superintendents every two-and-a-half years, lacked a long term educational strategic plan, was consistently under funded, failed to provide appropriate professional staff development, lacked high quality leadership, and disregarded the input from our most critical stakeholders - our teachers and related school personnel.

DC SHORTS

Our Official DC Standardized Test results for the grown-ups running our city has been updated

Washington Times The D.C. public school system's entire inventory of buildings made the D.C. Preservation League's annual list of endangered places in the city this year. "Years of deferred maintenance as a result of budget cuts and mismanagement have left many school buildings in an advanced state of disrepair," said the group. Members also were deeply concerned about the future of the school buildings, despite a promise last year by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, to close 23 of the 165 buildings, including those of Elizabethan and Modernist designs, and repair the rest.

Arts Journal Starting next week Night at the Museum II: Escape from the Smithsonian, a Ben Stiller vehicle, will be filmed at the Smithsonian. This is the first time the Smithsonian has allowed its name to be used in a commercial movie title. See the complete memo from Smithsonian acting Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture Richard Kurin after the jump. . . Set primarily in Washington D.C., the movie will include scenes at the Castle and, in particular, the National Air and Space Museum. . . The original film, shot at the Museum of Natural History in New York, resulted in increased attendance

DC Examiner Fort Reno Park was shut down Wednesday after U.S. Geological Survey satellite imaging reports found levels of arsenic that exceed the Environmental Protection Agency's safety threshold. Snow fencing was set up around the 32-acre park at Chesapeake Street and Nebraska Avenue in the Tenleytown neighborhood. Park service officials say the park, a popular site for sports and concerts, will be closed indefinitely.

Radar Heads are voluntarily rolling at the Washington Post as reporters across the paper have opted to take company buyouts from the cutback-happy paper. Among those grabbing the cash: David Broder, known as "the dean of the Washington press corps" because he gave a young Henry Adams his first job on a copy desk. (Broder will remain as a contract employee.) Post executive editor Len Downie is also rumored to be leaving. Finally, sports columnist/radio host/ESPN talking head Tony Kornheiser announced this morning on his radio show that he'll take the package as well. Sad as we are to see the 30-year Post vet Kornheiser go-and we did honestly enjoy his columns, even if he was named Radar's "9th Most Hated Internet Personality" - we're sure his 15 other side gigs won't keep him too far out of the spotlight.

Beltway Poetry Quarterly and Split This Rock will be offering: "GLBT Poets of Washington," a guided walking tour of the Dupont Circle neighborhood, June 21, 10:30 am to Noon. Led by Dan Vera, the tour costs $5 and advance reservations are required. Celebrate Gay Pride Month and learn how gay literary culture has flourished from the 1970s to the present in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, with the influence of such writers as Essex Hemphill, Ed Cox, Tim Dlugos, Michael Lally, Lee Lally, Richard McCann, Andrew Holleran, and many others. Stops include Dupont Park, Lambda Rising Bookstore, the site of the Community Bookshop, and writer's homes. This is an expanded version of the tour first developed for the Split This Rock Poetry Festival in March 2008. The tour takes approximately 1.5 hours and will run rain or shine. Limited to 25 participants. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and carry water. The tour starts outside the Starbucks Coffee where Connecticut Avenue and New Hampshire Avenue intersect with the northern part of Dupont Circle. To register, please send your name, email, and phone to beltway@mac.com.

Montgomery Blair Sibley, who represented the late DC Madam, Deborah Jeanne Palfrey has been suspended by the Florida bar for three years, resulting in reciprocal suspension in Washington, DC.

"He is someone who abuses the legal process," said Barnaby Min, counsel for the Florida Bar.

Nikita Stewart, Washington Post The D.C. Council approved Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's $5.7 billion spending plan for fiscal 2009 yesterday after inserting several amendments, including doubling the cigarette tax to $2 and keeping Klingle Road closed in Rock Creek Park. . . The council stripped $6 million from unused salaries of vacant positions to help pay for the small-business tax break. The council also cut more than $800,000 from video surveillance that links thousands of city-owned cameras -- a program that civil libertarians have said invades privacy. Pushed by Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), the council also inserted language that prohibits the administration from taking further steps with the program until Fenty (D) submits rules to the council for approval. So far, more than 4,000 cameras are being monitored from one site. Ultimately, the city wants about 5,600 cameras linked. . . The outreach effort was part of a lengthy roll of nonprofits and social service agencies that will get earmarks as big as $10 million, for Ford's Theatre, and as small as $10,000, for the Friends of the Hillcrest Recreation Center.

Reasoned discourse on local listservs Neighbors, in the absence of viable prosecution despite police action, I believe it is time to bring in the police, judge and prosecutioner. In the absence of Judge Dredd or Robocop I suggest a community collection to bring in a few Blackwater, CACI or similar community policing agents. If we can leverage unfettered power elsewhere, why not here? Please let me know if you are willing to help fund a community policing effort to fight back on the mayor's lack of action. - Hill East Listserv

Marc Borbely, Fix Our Schools The city council voted unanimously to reject the mayor's proposal to repeal requirements for DCPS budget information and budget hearings. This victory for transparency and public input was thanks to the leadership of Chairman Gray, and the backing of every councilmember, especially Gray, Barry, Schwartz, Cheh and Wells, all of whom expressed their support for DCPS budget information and public input at a council hearing on April 25. More than one thousand parents, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, teachers, and other school reform advocates submitted a letter urging the council to preserve parents' (and others') ability to provide meaningful, informed input before DCPS budgets are finalized.

DC Watch Jonetta Rose Barras has been fired by WAMU-FM as cohost of the DC Politics Hour, recently renamed the Politics Hour, which airs on Fridays on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. WAMU severely diluted its focus on District issues when it expanded the focus of its one-hour-a-week coverage to include Virginia and Maryland. Now it has gotten rid of the one on-air personality who had the most experience and knowledge of District politics, history, and neighborhoods. On WTOP, Mark Plotkin's weekly hour of political commentary now spends much more time on national politics than on anything local. No District television station has any regular program that covers District politics. The Washington Times had a large buyout and downsizing of its staff two weeks ago, and the Washington Post is in the midst of its second large buyout in the past two years. In all of these moves, the principle seems to be that experience, background, and knowledge can be easily dispensed with, because people who have them are more expensive to hire than people without them. Improving the financial bottom line by hiring cheaper employees is more important than keeping up the quality of the news product. This is the same principle being followed in our school system, except that there inexperienced administrators without background and knowledge are proving to be as expensive, or more expensive, than those they replace. . . Erik Wemple, City Paper Barras' dispute with WAMU follows a classic '00s model. Over time, says Barras, her managers at WAMU expanded her responsibilities. Whereas the show was once titled The D.C. Politics Hour With Kojo and Jonetta, the station subsequently expanded its scope to include Maryland and Virginia, rechristening it as The Politics Hour With Kojo and Jonetta. Though Barras thus gained two big jurisdictions to cover, her compensation didn't experience a comparable gain. "They changed the name of the show and scope of the show and then were pissed off because I was asking for more money," says Barras, who has also worked extensively for Washington City Paper over the years.

Go easy on the pork barrel complaints. The $10 million for Ford's Theater was outrageous but many extremely important non-profits depend on special funding from the city to keep going. The idea that these grants should stop is based on an extremely simplistic and selfish view of government. Here are just a few of the good groups that got helped this time around: CHAMPS, Cultural Tourism DC, the Historical Society of Washington, the Marshall Heights Community Development, $1 million to the Lincoln Theatre, Washington Parks and People for the Hoaward University archeological team and to reclaim four parcels of vacant propery in Columbia Heights, the Ethiopia Community Service and Development Council, Vietnamese-American Community Service Center, Avalon Theatre, Field of Dreams, Keely's Boxing and Youth Center, Takoma Theatre, Greater Washington Urban League, the Capitol Hill Community Foundation for community gardens and so on. While there were a number of indefensible grants - such as a half million bucks to DC Vote to pursue its continued support of colonial government by seeking only a vote in the House - many of the grants are not only important but an essential part of communities and our cultural life. It is fine to fight over individual grants but the idea that all such grants are evil is basically a rightwing lie.

Hill Rag Fenty says this budget will add a lot to DC public schools, but no one has been able to find that money in the budget. The mayor also touts lots of new money for housing, yet some key housing programs actually are losing funding. . . In the two years since Fenty has been in charge, public works has seen the largest budget growth. . . And there's a large drop for the Housing Production Trust Fund - DC's main source for affordable housing production. That's because the Trust Fund is tied to DC's deed taxes, which are plummeting. The decline means that the city may not even have enough to fund existing projects. Overall, the housing budget for 2009 is lower than this year's. But it's a lot higher than in 2006. . . Overall, 2009 is not a human services budget, with funding that is relatively unchanged from 2008 and just 1.4 percent higher than in 2007, after adjusting for inflation. . .

DCRTV WAMU (88.5 FM) is touting its fifth place overall finish in the DC radio ratings. Usually, public radio outlets, like WAMU, are not included in the commercial radio ratings. WAMU says its broadcast of NPR's "Morning Edition" ranks third, with 353,000 weekly listeners. The evening drive, anchored by NPR's "All Things Considered," placed second, with more than 214,000 weekly listeners, according to WAMU. The station, which programs news and talk on weekday, and some music programs on weekends, also touts its top-rated Saturday morning and Sunday lineups. When compared with public radio stations in other markets, WAMU says it ranks third nationwide, with 534,100 DC metro listeners, and a weekly total audience of 621,600, including the Baltimore metro. This places WAMU behind only San Francisco's KQED-FM and NYC's WNYC-FM in public radio listenership.

New ANC Listserv Whether you're a new ANC Commissioner learning to navigate the maze of DC government, a seasoned Commissioner with knowledge to share, or a constituent with suggestions for organizational improvement, you use this Google group. Some goals of this group for the immediate future include: Initiate an inter-Commission dialogue to identify issues surrounding the delivery of government programs and services. establish a forum to promote civic organizations, community organizing and community events, city-wide, develop standard operating procedures for the effective management of our commissions and for improved communication with DC offices and agencies.

Politics 1 US Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) declared his $2 million condo in DC as his "permanent residence" until 2005 in order to claim a valuable homestead property tax exemption in DC. Only after reporters asked about it did he end the practice, according to a source. Interestingly, Lautenberg's wife maintains a luxury apartment at 555 Park Avenue in New York City were she is registered to vote. Lautenberg is registered to vote at his NJ condo. The concierge at Lautenberg's NJ condominium building in Bergen County told our source that Lautenberg rarely visited the premises in the last couple of years and only began using the apartment again in the last couple of months. The concierge said that Lautenberg's office sends a staffer to pick up his mail each week. By the way, Lautenberg also owns a $2 million ski chalet in Vail, Colorado. Look for Congressman Rob Andrews's to make an issue of all this in the primary, raising questions about the sincerity of Lautenberg's commitment to New Jersey residents.

DC Examiner A D.C. proposal to install sirens across the National Mall to warn visitors of impending terrorism or other hazards has run into a federal roadblock over aesthetics, District officials say. The National Capital Planning Commission objected to the pilot siren project based "on the look," said Jo'Ellen Countee, spokeswoman for the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. The protests, she said, were raised during a meeting several months ago and have yet to be resolved. The sirens have not been rejected, responded David Levy, NCPC's director of urban design and plan review. "Those in attendance basically expressed that there was really not enough information to provide informative feedback," Levy said. "There was very little information on what kinds of devices they wanted to install, where they wanted to put them and on what buildings they wanted to put them on. We never heard back from them.". . . Bill Line, National Park Service spokesman, said the federal agency has proven itself adept at evacuating masses from the National Mall "in pretty quick order" during the past two Fourth of July celebrations, in both cases for severe thunderstorms.

Mary Lord DC State Board of Education The real question for parents is: does my child have a sub-par teacher? The answer is, probably not - at least not because she or or he isn't 'highly qualified' or 'certified.'

Under DC's rules, an engineer cannot teach math, even though engineering majors use a lot of high-level math and probably placed out of the courses required for a certificate. A history professor isn't "qualified" to teach history here. etc. Many special ed teachers responsible for teaching all subjects (in special programs, for instance), aren't "highly qualified" because they don't have a bachelor's in every subject they teach - i.e., math degree, history degree, etc. Last month, the DC State Board of Education approved a new definition of "highly qualified" similar to the federal definition and those in other counties. Now, a teacher can demonstrate content knowledge of math, say, by passing the Praxis II (like SAT II) test. The board took this step to widen the talent pipeline so that DCPS wouldn't have to take the one 'qualified' candidate that fit our city's narrow and restrictive definition. We have a long way to go in creating a system that can attract and support top teachers. . . Also, bear in mind that private, religious and charter schools do not need to jump through these hoops, and many of their teachers seem to be doing a fine job of educating children.

Vinnie Rotondaro, Washington Post A few months back, I attempted to get a license for a vending cart that would sell homemade Italian goods. . . . I realized that, unlike New York and Los Angeles, where you can get cheap, interesting food right on the street, the District has seemingly forged an alliance with chains such as Cosi, Chop't and Potbelly's, quasi-restaurants that pay much higher quarterly fees to the city than carts would. Consequently, the street life is remarkably dull, lunch options are usually whittled down to two or three options (all chains), and vendors almost exclusively sell pretzels and hot dogs. The city's licensing process for carts is a practice in futility. To begin with, the city is constantly placing moratoriums on the issuing of licenses. . . Meanwhile, applicants are told that they must buy carts and have them inspected before their applications can be processed. This doesn't mean before they get their licenses; it means before the application for a license can even be entered into the system. Most carts cost at least a couple of thousand dollars. Some cost as much as $10,000. It's a risky purchase, considering that the license hasn't been granted yet. This is especially true for immigrants, who account for the bulk of vendors in any city.

Sopan Joshi, Washington Post -It was 50 years ago that Max Kampelman returned home to a surprise. His wife told him she didn't know he had agreed to head a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the zoo. Some neighbors active in a Cleveland Park residents group had just formed Friends of the National Zoo to help run the Smithsonian National Zoological Park along Connecticut Avenue NW. They nominated Kampelman to be the first president of FONZ. . . FONZ, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, grew from four members in 1958 to the current 100,000 . FONZ had six part-time officers in 1958. Today, 1,800 volunteers and more than 300 paid staff members (about 90 of them permanent) provide vital zoo services. "We couldn't run this place without FONZ," said John Berry, zoo director. "There just aren't enough federal employees or funds to do all the work that needs to be done here." The zoo has about 350 staff members including veterinarians and public relations specialists. The zoo doesn't charge an entrance fee. It's one of only four major zoos among the more than 200 accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the United States that don't.

Hilltop According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, in 2007 Howard University had a within six-year graduation rate of 60 percent, up two points from the rate the journal reported in 2006. This is 16 percent above the national average graduation rate for blacks across the country which is 44 percent. . .

Howard is one of only seven HBCUs, which include Fisk University and Claflin University, that graduate more than half of its student-body. http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=695

WTOP Last Friday night, when D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Cardozo/Roosevelt game, it signaled a new era in high school sports in the nation's capital.

For the first time ever, D.C. Public High School students got to play a night game. The game was held at Banneker Baseball Field on Georgia Avenue, NW, the first D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation field to host a night game. But not the last. According to Moses Alexander Greene, a spokesperson for DCDPR, Francis, Guy Mason, and Taft Recreation Centers are also ready for after dark action, and by mid-June, every DCDPR field in the city will have working lights. Most jurisdictions take well-lit community ballparks for granted. But just as the District's school facilities went neglected for years, so too were the parks and rec centers.

The Washington Informer is 50 years old. The Washington Informer is an African American, woman-owned newspaper founded on October 16, 1964 by the late Dr. Calvin W. Rolark. Over the past 38 years, The Washington Informer has grown from an 8 to 12-page weekly to an average of 32 pages or more covering a broad range of topics . It has a circulation of 50,000.

DC'S MOST ENDANGERED PLACES OF 2008

Chosen by the DC Preservation League.

Joseph Taylor Arms Mansion (Chancery of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) 1800 New Hampshire Ave, NW

Georgetown Streetcar Tracks O and P Streets, NW

Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle

St. Elizabeths, West Campus 2700 Martin Luther king Boulevard, SE

Walter Reed Military Hospital 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW

Third Church of Christ, Scientist 900 16th Street, NW

Historic DC Public Schools Citywide

Barney Circle Neighborhood, SE (Potomac Ave SE, to 17th Street SE. Kentucky Ave. SE to Pennsylvania Avenue SE.)

Judiciary Square Clusters 300 Block of E Street, NW

Barry Farm Frame Houses 2700-2800 Wade Road, SE


Thursday, May 15

EMINENT DOMAIN IS A CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE


DAVID T. BEITO & ILYA SOMIN,
KANSAS CITY STAR Few policies have done more to destroy community and opportunity for minorities than eminent domain. Some 3 to 4 million Americans, most of them ethnic minorities, have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of urban renewal takings since World War II.

The fact is that eminent-domain abuse is a crucial constitutional rights issue. The Alabama Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public forum at Birmingham's historic Sixteenth Street Baptist church to address ongoing property seizures in the state. The church was not only a center of early civil rights action, but also, tragically, where four schoolgirls lost their lives in a bombing in 1963.

Current eminent domain horror stories in the South and elsewhere are not hard to find. At this writing, for example, the city of Clarksville, Tenn., is giving itself authority to seize more than 1,000 homes, businesses and churches and then resell much of the land to developers. Many who reside there are black, live on fixed incomes, and own well-maintained Victorian homes.

Eminent domain has always had an outsized impact on the constitutional rights of minorities, but most of the public didn't notice until the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 ruling in Kelo v. City of New London. In Kelo, the Court endorsed the power of a local government to forcibly transfer private property to commercial interests for the purpose of "economic development."

The Fifth Amendment requires that such seizures be for a "public use," but that requirement can be satisfied, the Court ruled, by virtually any claim of some sort of public benefit. Many charge that Kelo gives governments a blank check to redistribute land from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.

Few protested the Kelo ruling more ardently than the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In an amicus brief filed in the case, it argued that "the burden of eminent domain has and will continue to fall disproportionately upon racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and economically disadvantaged." Unfettered eminent domain authority, the NAACP concluded, is a "license for government to coerce individuals on behalf of society's strongest interests."

Some earlier civil rights champions, by contrast, often ignored, or worse helped to undermine, the rights of property owners. Ironically, the same U.S. Supreme Court which handed down Brown v. Board in 1954 also issued Berman v. Parker, in which the Court allowed the District of Columbia to forcibly expel some 5,000 low-income African-Americans from their homes in order to facilitate "urban renewal." It was Berman that enabled the massive urban renewal condemnations of later decades, which many critics dubbed "Negro removal" because they too tended to target African-Americans.

Four years ago, the city of Alabaster, Ala., used "blight" as a pretext to take 400 acres of rural property, much of it owned by low-income black people, for a new Wal-Mart. Many of the residents had lived there for generations, and two other Wal-Mart stores were located less than fifteen miles away. Several of the landowners, particularly those who lacked political clout and legal aid, ended up selling out at a discount.

In the three years since Kelo, 42 states, including Alabama, have enacted new laws limiting eminent domain power, but many of the new laws contain loopholes that make them easy to circumvent. Some 19 states have forbidden takings for "economic development" but continue to permit the exact same kinds of condemnations under the guise of alleviating "blight" - a concept defined so broadly that virtually any property the government covets can be declared "blighted." If takings end up becoming a key constitutional rights issue for minorities in the 21st century, it will be fitting that the crusade against them begins in Alabama, where their victims have suffered most greatly.

Monday, May 12

THE CHARTER SCHOOLS OUR CHANCELLOR ADMIRES

COSMO GARVIN, NEWS REVIEW, CA St. Hope Academy and the St. Hope Academy Foundation are nonprofits, so they have to file what is called a Form 990 every year with the IRS. Like most of the St. Hope entities, they’ve been mostly in the red for several years. In 2005, the academy managed a nearly $450,000 surplus. It was wiped out in 2006, owing $650,000 more than it took in from government grants and other sources.

In 2006, the most recent information available, the combined expenses for St. Hope Academy and the St. Hope Academy Foundation were $2,141,394. The combined deficit was $705,565. A little more long-division, and you find the deficit is about 33 percent. In other words, St. Hope’s budget was more than twice as whacked-out as the city’s.

St. Hope’s current executive director, Rick Maya, says it would be great to be back in the black, but that’s not as important as the organization’s mission. “It just costs more to get the desired results than what we’re currently funded at.”

Saturday, May 10

DC SATURDAY

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, ESPECIALLY THE CHANCELLOR'S

WELL, WELL, Michelle Rhee may not be all about excellence after all. She's fired Oyster-Adams principal Marta Guzman who, reports the Post, has 30 year's experience and runs hose dual language program that "has long made the Cleveland Park school among the city's most coveted, with high test scores and a national blue ribbon for academic achievement. Every year, parents from outside its attendance boundaries vie through a lottery for a handful of spaces to enroll their children." Two of Rhee's children go there. . .

BILL TURQUE, WASH POST Guzman's departure has stunned many Oyster-Adams parents who wonder why, in a city filled with under-performing public schools, Rhee would sack a principal who has presided for the past five years over one of its few success stories. The move has also heightened ethnic and class tensions within the school's diverse community. Eduardo Barada, co-chairman of the Oyster-Adams Community Council, the school's PTA, said Guzman was toppled by a cadre of dissatisfied and largely affluent Anglo parents with the ear of a woman who was both a fellow parent and the chancellor. "I believe there are some parents who want to control and dominate," he said. "They want to silence the Latinos there."

Claire Taylor. . . was one of a group of Oyster-Adams parents, both white and Latino, who dined with Rhee in November and aired complaints about Guzman. Among the issues raised with Rhee, who took notes, according to another attendee, were Guzman's alleged lack of organization, reluctance to delegate and sometimes-brusque style. . .

Maureen Diner, who has a fourth-grader at the school, said Rhee's silence is not seemly for a chancellor who came into office a year ago promising reform. "Anybody asked not to return deserves a process, at the very least a community meeting," Diner said. As for Rhee, "she talked about creating a culture of accountability. At the same time, she needs to be accountable for her own actions."

PORK BARREL UPDATE

STEVEN PEARLSTEIN, WASH POST [Radio One's] advertising sales slumped as bigger competitors had moved aggressively into Radio One's hip-hop and rhythm-and-blues formats, and listeners had begun to migrate from traditional radio. The company was struggling under the weight of a heavy debt load taken on to buy up stations, many at the height of the telecom bubble, and later to finance its initial forays into television and the Internet. Its stock price, which had peaked at $20 a share in spring 2004, was down around $7.

It's only been downhill from there. Last year, Radio One posted a net loss of $387 million after its sales fell even faster than those of the industry generally and it was forced to write down more than $400 million in the value of its radio licenses. Several of its top executives quit or were forced out, its credit rating was cut, and it was forced to sell off several stations to raise cash. Because of accounting errors, the company restated several years of earnings and has been caught up in the Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into backdating of stock options. Yesterday, after announcing another quarterly loss of $18.3 million, Radio One's stock price closed at 86 cents. . .

This is also the story of a management team and a tightknit board of directors who have overreached in their strategy, underperformed in executing it and sometimes put their own interests ahead of those of their public shareholders.

The most egregious example is the new compensation packages recently awarded by the board to Hughes and her son, Alfred C. Liggins III, the chief executive. Under the agreements, Hughes, as chairman of the board with no clearly defined executive responsibilities, will receive an annual base salary of $750,000, along with a potential bonus of $250,000. That compares with a 2007 salary and bonus of $560,000.

Liggins, who in addition to his base salary of $575,370, last year earned a bonus of $468,720 for turning in the worst financial performance in company history. Going forward, the board has determined that Liggins is apparently so valuable and essential that his base salary has to be increased to $980,000, with a potential bonus of another $980,000.

WASH BUSINESS JOURNAL, JAN 2008 - The D.C. Council has approved a $23 million subsidy for the mixed-use Broadcast Center One development in the Shaw neighborhood, which will include new headquarters for Radio One Inc. The deal is slated to bring 103,000 square feet of office space, close to 25,000 square feet of retail, 180 rental apartments and a 195-spot underground parking garage, which will provide parking for the renovated Howard Theater on T Street. Radio One currently owns 54 stations, which primarily target African-American and urban listeners.

DC SHORTS

ARTOMATIC, the homegrown art extravaganza has opened with over seven hundred visual artists and three hundred performances, its one of the most celebrated arts events of the year. Artomatic 2008 will occupy ten floors of the Capitol Plaza I building, located at 1200 First Street (1st, M, and Patterson Streets), NE, next to Fur & Ibiza nightclubs. Just one block west of the New York Avenue Metro station. Hours are: Fridays & Saturdays: noon-2:00 a.m.; Sundays: noon-10:00 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays: 5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.; Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Artomatic's last day is June 15. A full schedule of events

ELISSA SILVERMAN WASHINGTON POST They have scared away patrons of restaurants, put fear into Sunday worshipers and given indigestion to dinner party guests. . . It's the District's hawk-eyed parking enforcement brigade, including city-owned tow trucks that prowl the streets during games. . . More than 200 people packed a room at Capitol Hill United Methodist Church to voice their opinions . . . Many said that the District was too vigilant, ticketing and towing cars that had no connection to baseball. Cars in violation receive a $30 ticket and a tow to the parking lot at the old D.C. General Hospital, Howland said. "I actually had two employees quit because of parking tickets," said Joyce N. Thomas, president and chief executive of the Center for Child Protection and Family Support, which aids abused children. . . Churchgoers also questioned the virtue of aggressive enforcement, which several said requires them to listen to sermons with an eye on their watches. "Is it being done to squeeze out the African American churches in this community?" said Cheryl Kelley, a Maryland resident who is a member of Ebenezer United Methodist Church at Fourth and D streets SE.

JOSHUA KUCERA took the whole trip from DC to NYC by local transit. Now you don't have to; you can read about it in City Paper. Clip: "The itinerary of "The Bus" is clearly designed for those for whom time is not money. We drove into the Villas at Whitehall ("A Senior Rental Community"), stopped at Union Hospital and at Foxridge Manor Apartments. We did a loop through one neighborhood where all the houses were identical aluminum-sided duplexes and the streets had names like "Road 1" and "Road 12"-and then came out exactly where we had entered 15 minutes earlier. I had to change buses; the transfer station was at the Acme grocery store in the Big Elk Shopping Center in Elkton. We also made a 10-minute stop at the Cecil County administration building, where we all had to get out of the bus and into another one with a new driver to continue the journey. . . It was, however, a bargain compared to Amtrak: I paid $11 for the MARC train, a total of $4.50 for two "The Bus" buses, $1.15 on the Delaware DART bus, $9 on SEPTA, and $12.50 on NJ Transit, for a total of $38.15.

BOXING UP WASHINGTON AND CALLING IT PROGRESS

SAM SMITH - Despite the rampant nonsense and insults to the city's history, culture and people, puff pieces like Paul Schwartzman's article in the Post, "Looking Past the Capital City," are important to read for what they reveal about the intentions of the city's business leaders and their official enablers. For example, Deputy Mayor Neal Albert talks about trashing the city's historic height limit and turning Deanwood, Anacostia and Congress Heights into yet more places to store people - presumably mostly white - in boring big boxes built by developer buddies. Expect Fenty to move fast; he is clearly the biggest poodle of the development crowd this city has yet seen.

Schwartzman, whether from his own distorted imagination or because he has been sold a bill of goods, engages in a number of untrue and unfair characterizations of the city. He says DC was a symbol of dysfunction with neighborhoods long-forlorn. But now planners envision "a collection of vibrant neighborhoods knitted together by mass transit." Apparently they are going to revive such forlorn neighborhoods as Capitol Hill, Brookland, Hillcrest Heights, Dupont Circle and Cleveland Park by knitting them together with… well, how about a subway?

Among the goals are "vibrant neighborhoods, scenic riverfronts, pedestrian-jammed sidewalks, art museums, shopping and fine cuisine" which apparently the planners haven't noticed already exist.

What's going on here is the traditional hubris of colonizers: nothing ever happened until we got here. This, of course, is nonsense. We have had two and quarter centuries of interesting and important history. Visitors to this town have long been fascinated by the strength and variety of our neighborhoods. And the height limit has given the city a tranquil beauty and canopy of the sky that is hard to find anymore in an urban setting. The fact that the Post chooses not to report this doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

And what has the new crowd brought with its wonderful plans and heavily subsidized economic development?

Well, for one thing, 10,000 fewer jobs for DC residents than there were in 1984,nearly 25 years ago. In other words, for DC residents all those hundreds of millions of dollars spent on sports arenas, convention centers and stadiums have been largely wasted.

According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, wages have barely changed in 30 years for DC's lowest-wage workers. DC's rich-poor gap has widened over the past two decades. Poverty in the District is at the highest level in nearly a decade. Since with the late 1990s, some 27,000 more DC residents have fallen into poverty. African-American residents are five times more likely than white residents to be unemployed. This gap was greater in 2006 than in any year since 1985.

Employment among African-American adults has been falling since the late 1980s. The employment rate among black adults has even fallen during the city's recent economic boom. Some 51 percent African-American adults worked in 2006, compared with 62 percent in 1988. Employment among residents with a high school diploma is at the lowest level in nearly 30 years. Just 51 percent of DC residents at this education level are working. In the late 1980s, by contrast, nearly two-thirds of residents with a high school diploma were employed.

Further, from the Census we learn that this booming town has the second-highest poverty rate in the country.

As for the alleged influx of cultural creatives, we have yet to see anyone challenge the status, say, of Sam Gilliam, Charlie Byrd or George Pellicanos. The only thing really creative about the new DC crowd is what it imagines it contributes to the place.

Neil Albert is comes across as stunningly ignorant, calling DC "a long ways away from the mature cities like New York and Chicago. . . "We would not say the city has arrived." Perhaps if he would stop having lunch with developers, he might have time to read about DC's history and learn what it has to offer right now.

Mayor Williams' sidekick, Eric Price, is just as bad. He say, "When you go to London, you don't just go there because it's the seat of power, you go to walk on the Thames or take the Underground or go shopping" . . .

He said the same expectation should exist for Washington. "It's a place, a world-class city that you go to for all it offers," he said. "You go for the parks, the ballgames, the waterfronts." Has the guy ever actually looked around DC?

It's sad what this crowd is up to, but at least you have been warned.

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