In the last introduction to themail, I wrote about the prospects for
next year’s mayoral election, and broke down the interest groups and
issues that could have an effect on the election. My conclusion was that
the anti-Fenty forces have the numbers and the passion to win the
election; but that they don’t have a candidate that they can agree on
and work together to support. The three groups that are most
dissatisfied and that could tip the election are labor, DCPS parents,
and traditional marriage supporters. If they formed an alliance, they
could win, but it’s unlikely that they will join in a common cause.
What are the implications that this situation has for the council
races? Chairman Gray, At-Large Councilmembers Mendelson and Catania; and
Ward Councilmembers Graham (1), Cheh (3), Thomas (5), and Wells (6) are
up for reelection. The mayor’s rubber-stamp supporters on any issue
are Catania, Graham, Evans, Bowser, and Wells. None of them has opposed
Fenty on any important issue, and three of them are up for reelection
this year. That makes them vulnerable, but none of them is facing any
serious announced challenger. In fact, the only serious challenger that
any councilmember faces is Clark Ray, who is running against Mendelson.
Ray is running to be another rubber-stamp supporter of Fenty, and he is
opposing Mendelson because Mendelson has dared to oppose several of
Fenty’s worst mistakes.
But even those councilmembers who have put some distance between
themselves and Fenty have very mixed records. Labor has a reason to run
candidates against almost all councilmembers, since most councilmembers
have bad records on labor’s issues: supporting the mayor’s
anti-labor nominees to the Public Employee Relations Board, voting for
the mayoral takeover of the schools and for Rhee’s nomination to be
schools chancellor, voting for Attorney General Peter Nickles’
confirmation, being unwilling to challenge the mayor and Attorney
General when they try to deny witnesses or information to the council,
and being unable to enforce their own laws to challenge closing DPR’s
child care facilities. DCPS parents don’t have any reason to support
any current councilmembers, since none has raised a finger to rein in
Fenty’s and Rhee’s drive for complete control of schools. The
council is starting to talk about exercising a little oversight over the
schools now, but so far it’s just talk. Traditional marriage
supporters, of course, have a reason to oppose nearly every
councilmember — and they must oppose them to get the council either to
overturn the gay marriage bill that it is going to pass this year or to
amend the human rights law that is being interpreted to block a public
vote on gay marriage.
The ineffectiveness of the council, its inability to protect DC
public property against despoliation and to protect DC laws against the
mayor’s and attorney general’s defiance, makes all of the incumbents
vulnerable. Ward One’s Graham is the most vulnerable, of course, but
three or four others are not much better off than Graham. Yet no serious
candidate has announced, much less begun to campaign, against any of the
most vulnerable councilmembers. Next year’s election can’t rely on
the emergence of volunteer candidates; the movements and interest groups
that want to make a change in city government have to draft candidates,
and if each of the movements works alone and drafts its own candidates,
the incumbents will win again.
There is more accurate reporting about DC Public Schools today, two
articles in today’s Post and one on its web site, that the
editorial board of the Post will have to ignore to continue its
unstinting praise of Chancellor Rhee. They are a not-to-be-missed
anonymous posting on the CityWire web site, “Fifteen Questions for
Chancellor Rhee”; http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/2009/10/fifteen_questions_for_chancell.html#comments;
Bill Turque’s article on the real effects on high schoolers of teacher
layoffs, “For McKinley Students, a Lesson in Disappointment,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/13/AR2009101301765.html;
and Courtland Milloy’s column on the layoffs, “No Use Studying for
This Test,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/13/AR2009101303289.html.
If you were wondering how and why the editorial board can get it so
wrong about the Fenty administration, Mike DeBose has the answer: they
just take dictation from the Fenty administration. “How to Get a Sweet
WaPo Editorial,” http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2009/10/14/how-to-get-a-sweet-wapo-editorial/,
is complete with a screen shot of this October 5 E-mail from Rhee to
Ximena Hartsock, “Spoke to Wapo ed board folks about you today. Told
them you are the most qualified person possible, that you have amazing
capacity and that everything you do has your hallmark of excellence.
They’ll write a good piece for tomorrow.”
I Just Figured It Out
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be
Mayor Fenty’s new Hydrant Czar. Sounds like a terrific job. I can
remember when I was much younger when, on very hot summer days, the kids
in Brooklyn were treated to an open fire hydrant in many neighborhoods.
It was a riot to see all the kids splashing around. (Many were in just
their skivvies — who owned a bathing suit that fit?). With many hours
of experience under those open hydrants with splash shields diverting
the water into wonderful sprays I think I’m eminently qualified. How
do I apply?
I ride the 90 or 92 Metrobus every day from 8th and F Streets, NW, to
Pennsylvania Avenue. Today en route to Pennsylvania Avenue, I waited
forty minutes in the rain for the bus before a bus came. The first bus
was jammed to the door with passengers. So was the second. The third
came ten minutes later and had room. On the way home during rush hour, I
waited thirty minutes for a bus.
The drivers told me they had been ordered not to pass other
Metrobuses. Thus the slowest bus dictated the speed of all the other
busses behind it.
I don’t know why this is happening, but I do know that if any of
you take busses, you can expect considerable delays from now on.
The Root of the Rhee Dilemma
Ralph J. Chittams, Sr., email@example.com
Rhee is either the best thing ever to hit DCPS, or the biggest
disaster since the Edsel. What is the foundation from which these two
distinct conclusions are formed? I submit that the difference lies in
the historical values-based decision-making processes which divergent
groups bring to the table. Both sides are willing to admit the
following: 1) there are bad teachers within DCPS who need to be removed;
and 2) there are good teachers who have been caught in Rhee’s
sweep-out-the-bums methodology. It is how these facts are viewed that
make Rhee either a reformer or a despot. The pro-Rhee camp is willing to
sacrifice good teachers for the sake of reform. The anti-Rhee camp is
not willing to make that sacrifice. The question we must all ask
ourselves is this. Is it better for an innocent man to die in order to
kill guilty men, or is it better for guilty men to go free in order to
save innocent men?
African-Americans, by far Rhee’s most vocal critics, carry within
them the historic injustices perpetrated upon their innocent. How many
innocent Black men became “strange fruit” in the South? That legacy
causes African-Americans to generally side with the innocent over the
guilty. Other groups do not carry that legacy within their American
history. Therefore, they appear more willing to sacrifice and ignore the
legal rights of an innocent in order to exact justice on those perceived
to be guilty. Which line of thinking is correct? That is a moral
decision which each of us must make for ourselves.
But what to do next is the most important question. Understanding the
dynamics of this city, for Chancellor Rhee to succeed in her efforts to
reform DCPS, she must bring the greater community into the process and
allow them to take ownership of the reform efforts. Unfortunately, that
ship may have sailed. Every citizen of the District of Columbia wants
better schools. But we have to work together to achieve our common goal
— a school system that is the envy of the world. Our children deserve
A Rude Awakening
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
A rude awakening is what awaits the DC Department of Tax and Revenue.
The Feds have suspended the Required Minimum Distribution from IRA and
401K accounts for the tax year 2009. That will result in a major loss of
tax revenue for the District in April 2010, and earlier for those who
pay their DC income taxes on a quarterly basis.
Issue Now Online
P.L. Wolff, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is to advise that the October 2009 online edition has been
uploaded and may be accessed at http://www.intowner.com. Included are
the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials
(including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’
also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the
Past” feature (the accompanying images can be seen in the archived PDF
version). The complete issue (along with prior issues back to January
2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page
at no charge simply by clicking the link in the Current and Back Issues
Archive. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in
print, including all photos and advertisements.
The next issue will publish on November 13 (the second Friday of the
month, as always). The complete PDF version will be posted by the
preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following
which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected
features will be uploaded shortly thereafter.
To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the
home page to the following headlines: 1) “Ambitious Expansion Plans
for Library in Mt. Pleasant Roils Community; Many Object to Design and
Question Programs”; 2) “Dupont Circle House Tour to Show Victorian,
Beaux Arts, Contemporary and More.”
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Church Yard Sale, October 17
Vivian Henderson, Vhende1886@verizon.net
The Sixth Presbyterian Church, at 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW, will
have an interesting yard sale on Saturday, October 17, from 9:00
a.m.-3:00 p.m., rain or shine. Items on sale include furniture, adult
bicycles, grills, luggage on wheels, electronic games, jewelry, and
international foods. Items from the Church’s gift shop will also be on
National Building Museum Events, October 17,
Sara Kabakoff, email@example.com
October 17, all day, exhibition opens: House of Cars: Innovation and
the Parking Garage.
October 20, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Next Generation Green Technologies. Metropolis
magazine challenged designers to “fix our energy addiction” in this
year’s Next Generation competition. Susan Szenasy, Metropolis’s
editor-in-chief, presents the prize-winning submissions and discusses
the power of problem-solving through design thinking. $12 members; $12
students; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk in
registration based on availability.
October 22, 10:00-11:30 a.m., Estate Planning Workshop. Marc W.
Boland, Esq., of Bregman, Berbert, Schwartz and Gilday, LLC, discusses
current estate planning techniques and management issues, including
wills, trusts, probate, power of attorney, advance directives,
charitable giving, and more during this free workshop. Free.
Registration required. Register online.
October 23, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 2:00-4:00 p.m., Family Program:
Haunted Halloween. Celebrate the spirit of Halloween as you build and
design your very own haunted house. Fun for the whole family, the
festivities include crafts, treats, and ghosts stories (more silly than
spooky!) about the Museum. $10 per house of members; $15 per house of
nonmembers. Registration required. Recommended for ages six and up. All
children must be accompanied by an adult. At the National Building
Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for
events at http://www.nbm.org.
Take Steps with a Purpose,
Beth Meyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the greatest journey of his life, Eric M. Latham literally walked
across the United States to raise money for cancer research. Along the
way, he met thousands of people who shared their amazing stories with
him. Now, he’s sharing those stories with the world.
Take Steps with a Purpose: A Walk About America for Cancer Research
is an inspirational story about tragedy and triumph, about life and
death, about hope, courage, and strength. But most of all, it’s a
story about people and how they’re affected by cancer. Full-color
photos and nearly two hundred pages detail the faces of America. Take
Steps with a Purpose records each challenging step Eric took to
fight for a cause that he believes in. Born in DC and native to
Rockville, Eric recently moved back to the area. He is also the author
of Entitled to a Nation. For more information about the book, go
Free event. The author talk will be at Kensington Row Bookshop, 3786
Howard Avenue, on Wednesday, October 21, 7:30 p.m. For further
information, call 301-949-9416.
DC State Board of Education, October 21
Beverley Wheeler, email@example.com
The DC State Board of Education (DCSBOE) will hold its regularly
scheduled public meeting during which the Office of the State
Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will present on two issues. OSSE’s
Health and Wellness team will present an overview of a grant proposal
through the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).
The Board will also receive an overview of OSSE’s progress on
implementation of the Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act, please see
the recent press release on the DC Government’s web site.
The State Board will also hear comments from two advocacy groups
regarding the implementation of the District’s Arts Standards and
Health Standards which were approved by the State Board on May 21, 2008,
and December 13, 2007, respectively. The public meeting will be held on
Wednesday, October 21, at 5:30 p.m. at 441 4th Street, NW, in the
District of Columbia State Board of Education Chambers, located on the
lobby level of the building.
Constituents who wish to comment at the meeting are required to
notify the State Board of Education in advance by contacting the
Executive Director, Beverley Wheeler, by phone at 741-0884 or by E-mail
at Beverley.Wheeler@dc.gov before the close of business Monday, October
19, 2009. Please provide one electronic copy and bring fifteen copies of
testimony to the hearing for the State Board members to view. The
meeting will air live on District Knowledge Network (DKN) Comcast
Channel 99 and RCN Channel 18.
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