Dear Bell Ringers:
As the saying goes, everybody has an alarm clock; they just go off at
different times. The Washington Post headlines today its latest
local political poll, which shows that more and more people are waking
up about Mayor Adrian Fenty (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/30/AR2010013002452.html,
Tomorrow, the Post will print the similar results of its
companion poll about Michelle Rhee (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/31/AR2010013102757.html?hpid=dynamiclead).
Today’s story, and most commentary I’ve heard about it, finds
mysteries in the racial disparity of opinion about Fenty and the fact
that most people report they’re satisfied with city services, yet are
dissatisfied with Fenty. Let me suggest an explanation. Washington is
supposed to be a recession-proof city, in which government growth during
bad economic times keeps the city prosperous. Yet our unemployment rate
has been over ten percent for months, and among black males in wards
east of the river it has been around thirty percent. To quote the slogan
made famous in the first Clinton presidential campaign, “It’s the
economy, stupid.” In addition, of course, to the fact that Fenty is an
arrogant son-of-a-bitch who is contemptuous of the city council, the
citizens, and the law.
Victorino Matus has a story in the Weekly Standard about
Council Chairman Gray’s and Councilman Evans’ January 4 letter to
President Obama inviting him to a reception in his honor at the Wilson
The White House answered the invitation with a form letter that
essentially said, “t’aint likely,” which led to Gray’s outraged
E-mail to Evans: “This response is beyond belief. Our reception at
city hall! The person obviously did not even understand our request.”
Matus’ comment on this: “I think he did. It’s called taking your
votes for granted.”
Random thought: I’ve been reading for months about how city and
state Tea Party movements nationwide are moving the Republican Party to
the right and promoting conservative candidates within the Party. I
haven’t heard a word about any local Tea Party movement, or of any
efforts to promote conservative candidates within the DC Republican
Party. The local party strikes me as being moderately conservative on
economic issues, at least in comparison with the local Democratic Party,
but as being as liberal as the Democratic Party — and more liberal
that most state Democratic Parties — on social issues. Am I wrong?
Would a conservative Republican Party do better in DC elections, or
would it do even worse?
In the last issue of themail, I singled out Harry Jaffe’s column in
The Examiner as an example of the excuses that Chancellor
Michelle Rhee’s apologists were making for her latest smear about DC
teachers. I didn’t mention the slanted Washington Post editorial
about the smears, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/25/AR2010012503736.html,
because that kind of unbalanced commentary about Rhee and Fenty is
simply what everyone has come to expect from the Post’s editorial
board. But that editorial has engendered its own controversy, which is
worth pointing out if you haven’t been following the story. Eric
Wemple of the Washington City Paper broke the story, http://tinyurl.com/yjbm3j6,
that Post education writer Bill Turque committed honesty in his
online blog by explaining that the editorial board got Michelle Rhee’s
story first because Rhee can be assured of a friendly reception from the
board. That resulted in Turque’s blog item being pulled from the web
without explanation, being rewritten, and then being reposted without
any acknowledgment of the alterations. Wemple got some of the
explanation and preserved the original version of Turque’s blog post, http://tinyurl.com/y9baw3v,
and Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander followed up by revealing (http://tinyurl.com/yhww48j)
that Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt was annoyed by Turque’s telling
the truth about editorial writer Jo-Ann Armeo’s bias in favor of Rhee
— a bias that is obvious any regular reader of the newspaper — and
complained to Managing Editor Liz Spayd, who discredited the paper by
pulling the column, rewriting it, and reposting her tamer version
without notice to readers. Alexander wrote the facts of the events, to
his credit, but bought into the unbelievable corporate line that the
editorial board’s coverage of Fenty and Rhee has been objective. Even
so, Alexander’s column has been relegated to publication only on the
web; his print column today is on a controversy over a story in the
Has anyone else noticed that mail seems to be taking longer to arrive
these days? I know that shipping rates have gone up. But I didn’t know
that delivery has been cut back. It used to take my regularly sent
letters about two to three days to arrive. Now it is taking four to
five. Has anyone heard anything about this?
I complained in the January 21 issue about the parking enforcement
folks having a great difficulty understanding that cars can extend
beyond “no parking to intersection” signposts, and yet be legally
parked. That’s been the law at night since 2002, and all day as well
since 2006. That very morning I found another Metropolitan Police $30
souvenir on my windshield. My scorecard: four of these bogus tickets
dismissed, one non-dismissal on appeal (eighteen months and counting),
and now a brand new one added to the stack.
But wait, there’s more. The District recently decided to jack up
their parking meter revenues by extending parking meter hours to 10 p.m.
in certain high-traffic neighborhoods. Our little business strip in
Mount Pleasant was not on the list, but our parking signs got those 10
p.m. stickers anyway, much to the dismay of our business owners, who
aren’t happy about their customers staying away to avoid parking
tickets. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has promised
to come back and remove those bogus 10 p.m. stickers.
But wait, there’s more. There used to be a handicapped-reserved
spot outside a Mount Pleasant facility that served handicapped people.
That service moved away long ago, and we got that parking spot freed up
for regular use seventeen months ago. But surprise, the handicapped-only
signs suddenly reappeared, for reasons unknown even at DDOT. Drivers
hardly noticed them, but the parking enforcement sharks certainly did.
One very unhappy victim asked me piteously for help with his truly
brutal parking ticket, $250. For low-income workers, that’s food and
rent money gone. Why such a vicious fine for parking in a handicapped
spot? Surely a fraction of that amount would do the job. In this case,
it wasn’t even a legitimate handicapped-parking spot. It was all a
mistake, and that poor fellow is going to have to pay a wicked fine for
the District’s bogus handicapped-only posting.
Parking restrictions are supposed to serve the public good, e.g., by
promoting rapid turnover of customer parking spots. Unfortunately, all
too often it seems that the purpose of parking laws is to extort as much
cash as possible from hapless residents.
How Google Sees the Future of News
Phil Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
See the YouTube video clip starting at this point http://tinyurl.com/y9y3gyz
(New York Times and Washington Post mentioned).
What will happen to newspapers in the age of the iPad? Will they be
able to survive? I hope they do, but realistically things are not
looking too good.
Their ability to adapt and think anew tends to be pretty poor. Will a
phoenix arise from their ashes? If so, what will that phoenix look like?
In what ways will the phoenix engage with community in ways that
newspapers never did?
Reports of Spingarn’s Principal Termination
Candi Peterson, email@example.com
Reports circulated Saturday on The Washington Teacher blog that a
longtime DC principal has been reassigned to head Spingarn Senior High
school, which is located at 2500 Benning Road, NE. According to
anonymous sources, Spingarn’s principal, Blanca Reyes, and assistant
principal, Morrall Thompson, were terminated by Rhee and company last
week. Insiders report that under the helm of new leader Principal Blanca
Reyes the school was chaotic and she (Reyes) was frequently out of sight
and in her office. Reyes is reported to have had great difficulty in
managing the school as well as had problems relating to the Spingarn
staff and student body due to her thick accent which made it difficult
for students and staff to understand what she was saying. Reyes, who
began as a principal last August, laid off fifteen of Spingarn’s
veteran teaching staff in October. These teacher and staff layoffs led
to a Spingarn student-led walkout to the DC city council last October.
Gary Washington, formerly the principal of Choice Academy, located at
1401 Brentwood Parkway, NE, is reported to have been reassigned to take
over Spingarn Senior High, which is confused yet again by this game of
musical chairs when it comes to replacement of DCPS administrators. Well
that’s to be expected, especially given that Chancellor Rhee changes
DC principals quite frequently.
Here’s what one DC insider shared via E-mail: “Yes, Gary
Washington will be the new principal at Spingarn High School. He didn’t
have any choice. Gary must take control and proceed on Monday with the
staff, students, and parents to gain order. Unfortunately, I didn’t
see any information about the ex-principal of Spingarn in the Washington
Post. Rhee’s new leader, Blanca Reyes from Spingarn High School,
was forced to leave Friday afternoon. Most likely former Principal Reyes
will pop up somewhere else in DCPS like Noah Wepman, former CFO, who is
still working for DCPS on the ninth floor. These folks really don’t
get fired, they are hidden and protected. Rhee has failed again with
another ‘New Leader’ who is clueless on how to manage an urban high
I could take your diatribe against Rhee [themail, January 27] more
seriously, if you also acknowledged that she has made significant
strides in improving the schools, and has been very courageous and
determined in opposing entrenched powers that have been preventing
serious change for years.
Defamation in themail
Ed Dixon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks Gary [introduction to themail, January 27]. I’m just waiting
for this nightmare for the teaching corps to end at this point.
This is not the first time that the implications of English have
tripped people: I am tired of hearing that denial of scholarship money
for private school attendance is unfair. . . . Put in the word “some”
and you are correct, leave it out and you aren’t. Not every student,
but a fraction of the whole is benefited, leaving the others (i.e.,
more than “some,” but larger in numbers) outside the box of
Similarly with Ms. Rhee. She fired teachers for “x” reasons,
without saying “some,” and we have the broad-bush libel that
everyone was covered by x, when not everyone was.
I propose that we erect a monument to “some,” even though it
ruins the game of unfounded allegation.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
“Re-enslavement Revisited” Opening
Reception at DC Public Library, February 1
George Williams, George.Williams2@dc.gov
On Monday, February 1, at 6:30 p.m., celebrated artists Terry Dixon
and Robert Morris will discuss their mixed-media exhibit at the Martin
Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library entitled “Re-enslavement Revisited.”
Inspired by Douglas Blackmon’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery
by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil
War to World War II, the exhibit depicts African-Americans being
forced to work for free from 1865 to 1945 through abstract digital
images with acrylics, oil pastels, and inks. In addition, the exhibit
features video interviews of Blackmon discussing how state government
and judicial systems worked with major industrial corporations to
continue what amounted to slavery. The exhibit, which runs through
February 28, is part of the DC Public Library’s Black History Month
celebration. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is located at
901 G Street, NW, near the Gallery Place and Metro Center subway
Guys, Guns, and Garages, February 3
Johanna Weber, email@example.com
February 3, 6:30-9:00 p.m., Guys, Guns, and Garages Film Series: The
Driver. Directed by Walter J. Hill (1978, R, 91 minutes). Getaway driver
Ryan O’Neal stars opposite Bruce Dern as a cop determined to catch his
“cowboy.” CAR; Choreographer Kate Watson-Wallace (2008, 30 minutes).
Complete dance performance recorded at the 2007 Philadelphia Live Arts
Festival. $10 members, $10 students, $12 nonmembers. Member Special: $15
for all three films! Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration
based on availability. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street,
NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at http://www.nbm.org.
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