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August 1, 2007

Best of All Possible Schools

Dear Healthy Skeptics:

Not enough books, not enough teachers, not enough air conditioners (,,, The excuse for these failures at the beginning of the school year? Of course, it was the previous school administration’s fault; we had no idea the problems were this bad. That excuse should work for a couple years.

What will be the excuse at the end of the school year, when the standardized test scores don’t show the promised great improvement in students’ reading, writing, and math skills? Months ahead of time, Marc Fisher has already tipped on his blog what the administration’s excuse will be ( “One consistent theme in her [Chancellor Rhee’s] work before coming to Washington is a healthy skepticism about the current fashionable obsessions with testing. . . . Can Rhee push aside the testing mania enough to relieve kids of the cynical and pointless practice of drilling math and English strictly to boost test scores. . . ?” So don’t pay any attention to those missing books and teachers and air conditioners or those miserable test scores; take our word for it that every day, in every way, things are getting better and better.

Gary Imhoff


Gina Arlotto, Save Our Schools,

Just who is calling the shots for DC Public Schools? Certainly not the parents, as noted in the Post article on principal hiring procedures (, definitely not the neutered school board, but probably not even our new Chancellor, Michelle Rhee. In the we-told-you-so category, word comes this week that Michelle Rhee is not only taking her cues from Mayor Fenty and Victor Reinoso, but also from Reinoso’s former employer, the Federal City Council and Terry Golden. In a meeting of business leaders recently, Rhee calmly informed those in attendance that all proposed school initiatives (presumably any from the business community, but it sounds like any through her office as well) must "secure approval" from the Federal City Council before implementation in DCPS.

So Terry Golden’s dearest wish has finally come true. After giving Fenty his marching orders (gain control of the schools budget and buildings via mayoral takeover) immediately after the primary last fall, Golden has become the puppeteer for DCPS. Michelle’s Rhee’s hiring in light of her extreme inexperience only makes sense when you factor in the ulterior motives sought by the FCC and Terry Golden — full privatization of our schools through charters and vouchers, and the sell off of DCPS real estate.

The secret West End library and firehouse sale to Eastbanc, coupled with Neil Albert’s quote in Marc Fisher’s column last week, that DC is going to sell "a lot" of DC owned properties during this mayor’s regime (, is just another piece of the puzzle. All of these things expose the culpability of Terry Golden and the FCC as those who truly control DC from behind a cloak of invisibility worthy of Harry Potter. Just when are we going to put an end to the FCC’s control of everything here in DC?


Construction Blocking Roads and Sidewalks
Jim Champagne,

For the past many years, downtown developers — in violation of both common practice and laws — have taken out of service both sidewalks and road lanes with impunity. This is a major inconvenience to pedestrians, would-be shoppers, tourists, and normal vehicular traffic. Yet when I call the local police department to complain, my complaints are treated as “not-our-problem” — which according to my reading of DC law, they clearly are.

Just one example (there are many) underscores the problem: the development at the corner of M Street, New Hampshire Avenue, and 22nd Street, NW. For over a year, the construction firm has arbitrarily closed one and sometime two lanes and a sidewalk on New Hampshire Avenue; two lanes and a sidewalk on M Street; and a full lane and sidewalk on 22nd Street. The main purpose apparently is to provide free parking for the managers and workers involved in the construction project.

Multiply this problem at least by twenty-fold in the downtown area alone, and it represents a sizable financial loss to DC coffers, and a major disservice to residents, workers, and tourists. Perhaps one of our erstwhile council members might be willing to take up the cudgel on this one.


Meeting Canceled for Too Much Interest
Meredith Manning, 

The Taxicab Commission has canceled a public meeting on cab meters due to public interest. That’s right — canceled because too many people may show up. Instead, the Commission has decided to make its decision based solely on the results of a short telephone survey of residents and a written questionnaire sent to cab drivers. One of the reasons the meeting will be canceled is that there is inadequate parking at the downtown library where the meeting was scheduled to be held. Apparently, the Commission believes that interested parties might be reluctant to take cabs to the meeting. What does that say about cab service in DC?


Stormwater Landscaping from DDOE
Candace McCrae, 

The new District Department of Environment (DDOE) is soliciting applications from DC homeowners for free stormwater friendly landscaping enhancements to be installed in their yards. DDOE is looking to fund projects that will demonstrate ways to reduce river and stream pollution. Selection criteria will include visibility of the home, accessibility to public transportation, willingness of the homeowner to allow tours, willingness of the homeowner to continue maintenance of the landscaping installations and adaptability of the property to the landscaping.

One home in each Ward will be selected to install a large shade tree, rain garden, “Bayscaping,” pervious surfaces, and a rain barrel. If the selected homeowner has an impervious surface such as a driveway or patio, it may be replaced with pervious surface such as paving stone, porous pavement, or other hard surface that permits water penetration into the soil. The rain barrel will capture and store rainwater from the rooftop to be reused in the yard. Bayscaping will provide aesthetic native plants that require little to no watering, fertilizing, or pesticide use. The eight homes selected will serve as demonstration sites for DDOE’s new pollution reduction campaign scheduled to debut in 2008. The program will offer incentives for homeowners to adopt the storm water reducing techniques on their property that are mentioned above. The campaign goal is to reduce storm water runoff and increase storm water quality, which will improve our rivers and the District’s environment as a whole.

The deadline for submitting applications is August 10. Interested residents should visit the DDOE web site at and click “DDOE Seeks Applications For Stormwater Demonstration Sites” (under DDOE News) to fill out an application. If you have questions, please call Lorin O’Toole at 727-5160.


Washingtoniana Microfilm Holdings and Georgetown Artifacts Exhibit
Jerry A. McCoy, 

An updated index to the microfilm holdings at the Washingtoniana Division is now available. If you would like to have the document E-mailed to you as an attachment, please let me know.

A small exhibit of historic Georgetown artifacts that were saved from the Peabody Room/Georgetown Branch Library fire of April 30 is now on display in the Washingtoniana Division, Room #307, located in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street. The library is conveniently located across from the 9th Street exit of the Gallery Place Metro Station on the red, yellow, and green lines. The exhibit will be up until Friday, September 7. A few of the items on display may be viewed at


Library Flags, 13th and H Streets, NE
Raven McKlintock, 

I noticed on a bus as I was going by that the flags on the DC Library on H Street at 13th Street, NE, are ruined, being tattered and faded. It looks as if they have never been taken down. The flag of the United States and the District should never be displayed in such shameful condition. They should be retired and disposed of properly and replaced immediately.


Library Collections
Dan Maceda, 

[Re: Bryce Suderow, “Altering the DC Library System’s Collections,” themail, July 29] What exactly are you saying? Are books being removed from the collection and being pulped, or just being removed from the shelves but still kept in the catalog and available on request? Library collections and purposes need to be rethought. With computer access to catalogs and intra- and interlibrary loans any and all books should be accessible to the residents of DC. With online libraries such as the Project Gutenberg, vast collections of classics are available for download and printing. Libraries would do well to provide print on demand access to these collections.

[See also the article on the library’s collection by Bill Myers in the Washington Examiner, which is hidden on their web site. It is only in the PDF version. Go to, click on the PDF symbol in the upper right corner of the page, click on the DC edition, and at the top of the page that appears choose July 31 and then Page 9. — Gary Imhoff]


Who Is Jonathan Rees
Roy Stewart, 

The representations that John Henry Wheeler made in the July 29 edition of themail are total falsehoods, as I am not Jonathan Rees, and you will not by Googling Stewart come up with Jonathan Rees — unless somebody has deliberately posted matters on the Internet attempting to link Jonathan Rees and me together.

I have attached a copy of my non-drivers’ ID so that the people at DCWatch will know I am a real person and will publish what I say. I think Mr. Wheeler may be another Mary Cheh supporter whom Cheh has put up to bashing Jonathan Rees for speaking up.

[The E-mail included an image of a Washington, DC, official non-drivers’ identification card for Roy Stewart, Jr. The address on the card is not Jonathan Rees’, and the photograph is not of Rees. Searching for web pages that mention Stewart and Rees together leads to several pages that say Stewart is a pseudonym used by Rees and that they share the same address, and also to a blog comment by Ramon Stewart-Rivera denying that he is Jonathan Rees. — Gary Imhoff]


Malcolm Wiseman, 

DCWatch(ers), If I asked you to go buy me a Coke, and you brought me a Safeway-brand cola, or if I asked you for a Xerox copy of my memo, and you gave me a mimeograph instead, or if I am having problems with my mailing list server, and I call an IT shop and ask for a listserv technician, and they send me someone who knows how to fix listserv list servers, but he can’t fix my system because it is in fact the EZ Mailing List Manager, should I be upset?

In a post from Mr. Wheeler asking who is the person that some DCWatchers would ban from this board, he repeatedly uses the word “listserv” to mean a system that sends E-mail. I have previously pointed to this incorrect usage committed by posters and Mr. Imhoff alike on DCWatch. You might consider this my annual warning-correction-advisory. See the statement from L-Soft, owner of the LISTSERV trademark, at (for example). Saying “listserv” is probably not going to cost you anything, except if I or others in the know hear you say it, but writing it very well could cost you something. It’s a list server!



DC Public Library Events, August 3-4 and beyond
Randi Blank, 

Fridays, August 3-August 31, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, G Street Overhang. Music al Fresco. Join us for weekly outdoor concerts in a variety of music styles, presented by members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 161-170. If it is raining, concerts will take place in the Great Hall. Music al Fresco runs through August 31. For more information, call 727-1245.

Saturday, August 4, 10:00 a.m., Palisades Neighborhood Library, 4901 V Street, NW. Chesapeake Lace Group. For more information, call 282-3139.

Saturdays, August 4, 11, and 18, 2:00 p.m., Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library, 3660 Alabama Avenue, SE. Beginning Sign Language. Learn to communicate in sign language in this three-hour class. For more information, call 645-4297.


Black Indians, Black Japanese, August 9
Corey Jennings, 

Next Generation Awareness Foundation (“NGAF”) announced today that it has chosen filmmaker Rich Heape’s Black Indians: An American Story and filmmaker Yohei Suzuki’s Our Pride: The Spirits of Black Japanese in Georgia for its upcoming multicultural program on August 9 at 7:30 p.m., as part of the 2007 Urban Film and Discussion Series hosted by Landmark’s E Street Cinema (555 11th Street, NW). Tickets range from $10 (general) to $15 (VIP) and can be purchased in advance at or at the Landmark Theater box office. Proceeds will benefit NGAF’s upcoming free children’s film festival. Jay Winter Nightwolf, a Washington-area American Indian/Native American teacher, WPFW-FM radio commentator, and host will introduce the program and lead discussions at the event.


Free Back-to-School Workshops for Students and Parents, August 13-29
Ana Hitri, 

Learning pathways: brain and learning with subject specific workshops on standard based key topics in math, science, English, or Spanish. The two-hour workshops are weekdays from 6-8 p.m. at the Georgetown Academic Studio, starting Monday, August 13, and continuing through August 29. To register call 746-8795 or 337- 0144, send a fax to 337-0146, or mail Georgetown Academic Studio, 2121 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite C-66-68, Washington, DC 20007, Attn: Dr. Ana Hitri.


Talk for Change Toastmasters Club, August 15
Corey Jenkins Schaut,

This newly formed Toastmasters Club is seeking members who would like to take advantage of a great personal development and networking opportunity. We can help you improve your communication and public speaking skills; conduct meetings; manage a department or business; lead, delegate and motivate others; and meet great and interesting people.

We meet the first and third Wednesdays of the month at a convenient location on K Street, NW, right off McPherson Square. In August, we’ll meet next on Wednesday, August 15, at 6:45 p.m. at the Teach for America offices at 1413 K Street, NW, 7th floor. For more information and to RSVP, please E-mail


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