I’m glad Eric Gaull asked, below, what Board of Education President
Robert Bobb was doing in Las Vegas at the shopping center convention,
since the question was answered in today’s Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/23/AR2007052300463.html).
School board positions are part time. Bobb’s main employment was as a
consultant to Victor MacFarlane, a real estate developer and sports
promoter who is lining up for some of the generous subsidies this city
doles out to the wealthiest developers and sports promoters. MacFarlane
wants the city to give him land for a new soccer stadium and more
surrounding land for profitable enterprises, and Bobb was in Las Vegas
in connection with his employment with MacFarlane Partners. But now,
since Bobb publicly threw a temporary, very temporary, monkey-wrench in
Fenty’s deal to have Congress impose his school takeover bill on the
voters of the District, MacFarlane has fired Bobb. Fenty has made it
obvious that if anyone opposes him politically, he won’t hesitate to
use his power as mayor to get you fired from your private sector job.
Fenty’s petty vindictiveness will harm any attempt his
administration will make to institute its school reform plans. His
education aides have already made it plain that they regard anyone who
opposed his takeover as an enemy, and that they won’t work with them.
But, almost without exception, everyone who has been a schools and
education activist in this city for the past three decades opposed Fenty’s
plan. Therefore, Fenty’s young and inexperienced staffers intend to
develop and carry through with school reforms without consulting with or
working with the any of the leaders of the knowledgeable core group who
have tried for years to improve education in this city. Since Fenty and
his education aides don’t themselves have knowledge, experience, or
expertise in education, this self-inflicted wound will cripple any
halfhearted efforts they may make in the future to work with parents and
citizens on school issues.
This isn’t hardball politics; it’s an ignorant young boy’s
fantasy of hardball politics. Thuggish bullying and enemies lists have
no place in real life adult politics, or in a democratic government.
And the President of the DC school board is in Las Vegas attending a
shopping center convention for what plausible reason?
Bring the Jam
Ed T/ Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
’Cause I’ve got the toast. It’s Robert Bobb (sometimes
misspelled Boob). Bobb has really done himself in by cozying up to
Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu and getting her to block the vote on Mayor
Fenty’s takeover of the DC schools. Perhaps Bobb’s plan is to win
the job of the State Education Officer for DC. If so, he has taken a
very risky path to that position. Lightning will strike, for sure. Bobb
came into the city manager position under Mayor Williams and did a
reasonably credible job of cleaning some things up. After this mess he’s
created with Mayor Fenty, Bobb will have lots of opportunities to clean
up DC from his new position as a driver for the Sanitation Department.
Jonathan Lieber, j lieber at g mail dot com
I am extremely disappointed by the responses to the Fenty school
takeover plan bamboozle in themail last week. It isn’t that the
plagiarism itself is a problem (though it is), but it is that the
plagiarism shows the incredible lack of thought, creativity, and work
that went into Fenty’s takeover plan. Is this how they are going to
conduct their administration of our schools? When they have to make a
difficult decision, fire some teachers, or develop a curriculum, are
they just going to copy those everyday sort of things from other
districts as well?? This is a very disturbing sign from an
administration that may be in way over its head. I now have zero faith
they have any idea how to run the schools or that they have even given
any thought into how they are going to do it before they rushed into
this. Good luck to them — our students need it.
When Bill Rice, a former Ward 3 city council candidate, blasted Ward
3 with his campaign literature claiming that only he could fix our
schools, the entire media laughed at him and pointed out that no one
person could do it, but it would take the efforts of many -- from the
office of the mayor, city council, school board, and parents —
together. Yet when Adrian Fenty made more or less the same claim none in
the media laughed at him like they did Bill Rice. The reality is, both
Rice nor Fenty can fix our schools, and anybody who believes they can
must be smoking the same stuff Marion Barry is.
If Fenty really had a great idea for fixing the DC public schools,
then he would not be afraid of taking his plan before the voters instead
of violating the DC Home Rule Act by going straight to Congress. The
fact is, Fenty has no real intentions of fixing our schools. His real
plan all along has been to give those few billion dollars to his
developer friends to thank them for their support in the campaign and to
assure himself a job when he leaves office.
The Fenty takeover plan will fail for one big reason, and that is
that only 10 percent of the money needed to do the job is available. In
order for DC to bring all of its schools to modern-day standards, it
would cost DC well over $23 billion dollars just for the physical
modernization process. In other words, Fenty cannot succeed because the
money is not there! The best we can expect is a slapping on of a few
coats of paint, new floor tile, new windows, new classroom doors, and
some other knickknacks. We can expect some improvements in the physical
appearance of our schools, but Fenty and his machine will not have any
real impact upon student performance, as the factors causing that
problem are beyond the reach of our political leaders.
Seeing Red in Ward 5
Jason Lee-Bakke, email@example.com
Oy vey, moralizing and NIMBYism in themail [May 23] about
adult-oriented businesses’ proposed move to an industrial part of Ward
5. These businesses were a part of the fabric of the District before
gentrification; the stadium’s occasion for their erasure set a
dangerous precedent. What other DC unpleasantry can gentrification be
used to rub out in the Disneyfication of the city? Let’s add to the
list based on prejudice. Or not.
Acknowledging that sex is a part of life in a city or that some of
that sex might be (shudder) gay pains some people. But DC is not
Branson, and living in a city means living in close quarters with things
we may not always like. I love sit-down restaurants and tree-lined
streets as much as the next person, but surely if that’s all I wanted
I’d live in Fairfax.
In response to Mr. Barron’s comments in the last issue [themail,
May 23]: “I would have to say that those who appear to be the worst
drivers in the city, in my opinion, have Maryland plates. I’m for
congestion pricing for those who drive into the borders of DC.”
If DC had more affordable housing, there would not be so many
Maryland plates. As a daily motorcyclist, I just wish people would put
down the phone and drive. I would have to say that a good number of the
ill-tempered moments I have witnessed, have been as a result of cell
phone drivers or taxicabs. Don’t get me started on taxicabs. Oh wait .
. . DC has a anti-cell phone law. More enforcement would be nice, in
addition to driver education. (Can’t help but laugh at that
statement.) I could quit my job if I could keep half of the revenue from
riding around on my cycle and issuing tickets to cell phone-talking
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
DC Public Library Events, May 24, 26
Randi Blank, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, May 24, 6:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial
Library, Great Hall. Chantal Ellen discusses her new book, The Rise:
Where Neighbors Are Sometimes More. Copies of Ellen’s book will be
available for sale and signing. The Office of Councilmember Harry Thomas
will film the program for cable. For more information, call 727-1247.
Saturday, May 26, 2:00 p.m., Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library,
3660 Alabama Avenue, SE. Historian C.R. Gibbs will present a lecture,
“Breaking the Phalanx: Smashing Jim Crow in the Nation’s Capitol.”
For more information, call 645-4297.
National Building Museum Events, May 30
Lauren Searl, email@example.com
Wednesday, May 30, 8:45 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Symposium: Sustainable Design:
New Directions for Affordable Housing. America needs not only affordable
housing, but also homes that are energy-efficient and sustainably
designed. In this day-long symposium on green affordable housing,
leading experts from across the country, including the New York and
Colorado developer Jonathan Rose, will explore three main themes --
green design process and technologies; costs and benefits of green
design; and realistic strategies for financing. Participatory workshops
will examine three case studies — a new multifamily structure, a
single-homes project, and a renovation of existing units. The program
will conclude with a panel discussion exploring how federal, state, and
local governments can encourage green design in our nation’s
affordable housing stock. This symposium complements the exhibition, The
Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design. For
full program details, visit www.nbm.org. $50 Museum members; $95
nonmembers; $45 students. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in
registration based on availability. The registration fee includes box
lunch, plus morning and afternoon coffee breaks. Nonmember registration
includes a discounted one-year individual membership to the National
Building Museum. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW,
Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at http://www.nbm.org.
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