Dear News Hounds:
It’s time for another round of interesting newspaper articles from
the past few days.
The most E-mailed article in the past week was the cover article of
the December 7-13 issue of the Washington Business Journal:
"Developers Eye Parcels as DC Council Weighs Proposal," with
an online title of “School Closings in DC Put Prime Spots into
Of course, we’re assured, school and library closings have nothing to
do with real estate, profits, and sweet deals for favored developers.
Funny, the business community doesn’t seem to be getting the same
message. They know very well what’s at stake in this exercise, and it
isn’t "all about the children."
Another obvious and widely denied truth was exposed yesterday or
today, depending on which edition of the Post you get: “Another
Setback for Greater Southeast: DC Hospital Loses Its National
Accreditation,” by Susan Levine, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/07/AR2007120702225.html.
How’s that DC General Hospital closing working out for you now,
Yesterday, Colbert King returned to the subject of several of his
past articles, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and its
management by Vincent Schiraldi, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/07/AR2007120701771.html?sub=AR.
King’s new take in this article is how the city council has failed to
do adequate oversight of this agency, just as (though King is too polite
to say it) it has failed to do adequate oversight of the Office of Tax
and Revenue. The problem is that councilmembers share the same romantic
and idealistic view that Schiraldi has of rehabilitation, the same idea,
based on 1960’s liberalism and too many viewings of Boys Town, that
bad boys are just like Mickey Rooney, and only need a good talking-to to
be set on the right path. The trouble is that this leads to the council’s
failure to question the real performance of the Department and its
shirking of its responsibility to protect the entire community against
violent offenders. For another view of this problem, see Dino Drudi’s
article in the October newsletter of the Federation of Citizens
Eventually, and in this town it’s usually later rather than sooner,
the failures of misconceived government policies become evident. If our
only pleasure in watching government is to be able to say, a few years
after the fact, “I told you so,” then let’s at least take that
pleasure. I told you so; we all told them so.
A Tutorial on Good Schools
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
For anyone looking for a good tutorial on what makes for good high
schools, I recommend reading the December 10 issue of US News &
World Report. The article “America’s Best High Schools,” http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/high-schools/2007/11/29/americas-best-high-schools.html,
offers a full menu of techniques and processes that result in great
education for students at every economic level. Rhee, Fenty, and Reinoso
should get a subscription.
[From a letter sent to city council staff members] Respectfully, I
again write seeking a response to the request I originally made in
testimony to the DC council three weeks ago, on November 15, and in a
follow-up E-mail on November 25. I requested of the Committee on Finance
and Revenue any recollections any DC councilmember or staff person has
of any financial or management control questioning of any witness over
the last five years or of any occasion when the Council has followed up
on the many various auditor reports recommending that improvements be
made in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and other related DC
government financial processes. I believe these recommendations have
been myriad and repeated every year in the independent auditor’s
annual “Yellow Book Report.” Because of the reasons cited in the
follow-up e-mail below, the first most relevant opportunities to review
active Council oversight in action should be via tapes of the Committee
on Finance and Revenue. As a fallback, I also would appreciate any
Committee of the Whole oversight questioning anyone can recall regarding
the CAFR and associated financial control improvements cited by DC’s
independent auditors in their allied “Yellow Book” every year for
over five years.
My reason for this request is nontrivial. All of us as a city need to
review how the DC council has fulfilled its bedrock obligation to
oversee the executive, especially regarding critical management control
and financial control weakness and lapses cited by independent parties
such as, but not limited to, the outside auditors. (In truth, the only
recent financial and management control questioning I can recall
recently was Ms. Schwartz asking non-OCFO questions about parking meter
mismanagement based on a DC Auditor report. I cannot find any other CAFR
audit or Yellow Book questioning in the last five years related to the
OCFO’s expansive responsibilities, even though the concerns raised
have been repeated, OCFO-focused, and significant.)
For your convenience, I also have enclosed a simple Excel spreadsheet
that can be used as a template to enter the recalled occasions of
financial and management control process oversight. I await your
response. Any citation to the written or video record can begin to help
set my and others’ minds at ease.
Councilmembers Responsible for CFO Oversight
Dick Wolf, email@example.com
As I understand the situation, it is not the Committee on Economic
Development that has oversight on the CFO but Finance and Revenue —
Jack Evans. The Council Chair has control over the council’s budget
office, which is supposed to review budget submissions in most
categories. My understanding is that under Mrs. Cropp that office did
almost nothing. Of those remaining on the council, Evans has the most
responsibility for not reacting to the Auditor’s reports.
[In the last issue of themail, I inadvertently said that the
Committee on Economic Development has oversight over the Office of the
Chief Financial Officer, when of course it is Committee on Finance and
Revenue. Thanks for pointing out the error. — Gary Imhoff]
Yes, that is what the city regulators have become, proprietors of a
candy store. The DC government officials who rule and regulate the laws
of this city have made themselves lollipops for Major League Baseball,
Radio One, and Soccer. We have built a stadium for a pig-in-a-poke
baseball team for millions. in the process of giving away millions in
land to a radio ownership business, and now touting the change to build
or smooth the way for the building of a soccer stadium. Besides the fact
that some $40 million in tax refund dollars has been squirreled away we
have become the laughing stock of the country. The word should now be,
if you have a scheme that appeals to the greed of certain people in the
development arena, just lay it out on the table and the candy will flow.
We do not need slot machines; we have something better then slots and it
will cost you no money to play the game. If we do not give it away up
front we will see to it that you get it through the back door. And the
people all said, Amen.
I saw this time and time again when I lived in Georgetown and nothing
has changed: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/05/AR2007120502466.html.
I hate writing a non-personalized message like this, but in recent
days I unexpectedly secured a job as the first full-time paid staffer
for Santa Barbara, California-based COAST, the Coalition for Sustainable
Transportation. I will be heading up their new campaign to make walking
more safe, convenient and appealing to folks in the Santa Barbara
region. After nine years in the District of Columbia, I will be moving
in a few weeks. I want to see as many friends here as I can, as I go
about packing boxes and also visiting my great home state of New Jersey.
Since this is taking place in such a compressed time frame, I am first
making sure to share this news like this, and am looking forward to
being in touch before I fly away, which may be before the first of
January. And hats off to DCWatch’s themail.
Ed T Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
As a typical “Joe College,” I took up pipe smoking in my senior
year at an engineering school. I thought it made me look a bit older and
a lot cooler. Actually it was not the cool I was looking for, it was the
warmth. I was spending some time outdoors in the winter of my last
school year and had the pipe going to keep my ears and hands warm. When
I graduated I gave up the pipe. A few years later, in the bitter cold
winter when driving a ‘56 VW Beetle, I had to find a way to keep my
ears warm again. The Beetle had negligible heat in the frigid days on
Long Island and I found a very practical way to keep my ears and hands
warmed as I drove to work (I’ve never been a coffee drinker). Before
dressing for work I put two eggs in a pot of water and boiled them. They
were just right as I headed out the door and kept my hands and ears warm
all the way to work, about a twenty-minute drive. When I got to work, I
cracked the eggs open on my boss’s desk as we had our morning kickoff
meeting, and ate my breakfast.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
DC Public Library Events, December 11, 13
Kandace Foreman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eighth annual young people’s poetry marathon in Spanish. Children
and young adult poets will read their poems in Spanish in a lively
literary marathon. Sponsored by Teatro de la Luna. Teachers can register
students by calling 882-6227. Monday December 10, 10 a.m.: elementary
school students; Tuesday, December 11, 10 a.m.: junior high and high
school students; Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library.
West End Book Club, Tuesday, December 11, noon, West End Neighborhood
West End Film Club, bring your lunch and enjoy a film. Tuesday,
December 11, noon. West End Neighborhood Library.
Adult Book Club, Tuesday, December 11, 1 p.m., Capitol View
Alternate Routes: Copenhagen, a 25-minute travel video about
Copenhagen. Thursday, December 13, 2 p.m., Chevy Chase Neighborhood
All you need to know about mortgages. Credit Counselor Rose Mary Hill
will present a seminar on mortgage law, security and debt, loan to value
ratios, amortized loans and adjustable-rate mortgages. Thursday,
December 13, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library,
Business Division, Great Hall.
David Macauley Lecture, December 11
Jazmine Zick, email@example.com
Tuesday, December 11, 6:30-8:00 p.m., special lecture by David
Macaulay at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary
Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at http://www.nbm.org.
For more than thirty years, David Macaulay’s illustrations have helped
children and adults see and understand the architectural and engineering
processes behind the built environment. During this lecture, Macaulay
will discuss how he uses drawing not only to peel back exterior façades
and interior walls, but also to show how buildings are designed and
constructed. Following the lecture, he will sign copies of his books.
This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition David Macaulay:
The Art of Drawing Architecture, which will be open for viewing. $12
members and students; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required.
Walk-in registration based on availability.
ACLU Book Talk on Civil Liberties, December 13
Liz Rose, firstname.lastname@example.org
The ACLU Washington Legislative Office is having a book talk with
ACLU historian Sam Walker. The topic is this president (George Bush) and
civil liberties. Everyone is invited. December 13, 12:00 p.m., 915 15th
Street, NW, sixth floor. The event is free, but an RSVP is required to
Matt Allee, email@example.com or
CLASSIFIEDS — HELP WANTED
Seeking Arabic Interpreter
Jon Katz, jon at markskatz dot com
Please send me your recommendations for an Arabic language expert to
testify at a trial I am handling, to explain that it is common to have
different transliterations from Arabic into the English alphabet.
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