It’s bigger than Barry. On Tuesday, the city council may begin to
take some steps to discipline and punish Councilmember Marion Barry for
alleged conflicts of interest and misuse of government funds in personal
service contracts and earmarks. On that day, it will receive the final
report of attorneys Robert S. Bennett and Amy R. Sabrin, should they
wish to amend or make any additions to their draft report on Barry’s
actions submitted to the council on February 16 (http://www.dcwatch.com/council18/100216.pdf).
Councilmembers have been making noises about censuring Councilmember
Barry, about removing him from his chairmanship of the Committee on
Housing and Workforce Development, and about removing him from
membership on the Committee on (He’s also a member of the Committee on
Human Services, the Committee on Economic Development, and the Committee
on Health, but so far there has been no talk about removing him from
those Committees.) Finance and Revenue. The council has the power to
determine committee chairmanships and memberships under its normal rules
— the council chair appoints committee members and chairs, and the
council then votes a resolution of approval of that lineup. To modify
committee chairmanships and memberships, all the council has to do is
amend Resolution 18-02, the “Council Period 18 Appointment of
Chairperson Pro Tempore, Committee Chairpersons, and Committee
Membership Resolution of 2009.”
But the council does not have the power to censure its members.
Although there had previously been several laws and rules scattered
throughout the DC Code and Municipal Regulations concerning
inappropriate conduct by elected officials and other government
employees, it wasn’t until September 2009 that the council adopted a
formal Code of Conduct for the first time (http://www.dcwatch.com/council18/conduct.htm).
However, that Code of Conduct is toothless. It doesn’t specify any
punishments or penalties for violating the code. Chairman Vincent Gray
promised at the time that the code was passed that the council would
adopt further rules, including punishments and penalties for
councilmembers, and establishing a procedure by which could investigate
and monitor itself, but that hasn’t been done. In order to hold a vote
of censure, the council will first have to amend its rules of
organization and procedure (Resolution 18-01) to give itself the right
to censure a member, and that will require it to formulate general
requirements and conditions for censure.
In formulating those requirements and conditions, the council must
not tailor them just to fit Councilmember Barry or the specifics of his
case. It has to write them with enough generality that they will fit
misconduct and improprieties, personal or financial, by any of its
members. Before it can take any action against Councilmember Barry,
except for changing his committee memberships or voting for a resolution
referring the matter to the US Attorney or the Office of Campaign
Finance for further investigation, the council will have to change its
Code of Conduct to provide penalties for all conflicts of interest and
misuse of government funds by all councilmembers and their staffs. That
will put many of them at risk for their actions regarding earmarks and
personal service contracts that up to now been commonplace.
Gary Imhoff and Dorothy Brizill
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Letter to Rhee’s Chief of Family and
Candi Peterson, email@example.com
The DC Schools Insider blog featured a story about DC Public Schools’
lining up support for the upcoming city council annual performance
oversight hearing on March 15 (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/2010/02/dcps_lining_up_support_for_cou.html).
Bill Turque wrote: “Testimony at these events tends to become an
open-ended infomercial for those unhappy with Chancellor Michelle A.
Rhee. So Peggy O’Brien, Rhee’s family and public engagement chief,
is reaching out to those who have had kind words for DCPS and have asked
what they can do to help.” Rhee’s staff has created talking points
for those willing to testify favorably, and it will give them a reminder
call about one hour before their turn comes up on the council docket.
In my February 26 open letter to Peggy O’Brien, I discuss what is
wrong with this picture: “I am most concerned about your inappropriate
effort to solicit positive testimony only from a group of parents who
have previously expressed support for the Chancellor’s reforms. In
your role as chief of Family and Public Engagement for a taxpayer
supported agency, you have an obligation to appeal to all DCPS
stakeholders to testify at the March 15 city council hearing, not just
to identified supporters. In the interest of all the DC residents your
office represents, I ask you to do the following: post an announcement
on the DCPS home page about the hearing, inviting all family and parents
of DCPS students to testify. Just announce it. Do not provide positive,
unsubstantiated talking points as you did in your original E-mail. Send
an E-mail to your original group of supporters acknowledging your error
in using your public office to solicit positive views only.
“Of course, I understand that your office would welcome positive
testimony, given the chancellor’s recent controversial remarks about
RIF’d teachers hitting and having sex with children and her sliding
poll numbers. Thus, I suggest you contact groups like DC School Reform
Now, a nonprofit organization founded by former Teach for America
workers to support the Chancellor’s reform efforts. Interest groups
such as this would see it as their mission to mobilize their members and
provide talking points that are strictly supportive of the Chancellor.
Unlike public agencies, they don’t have an obligation to serve all
citizens, but only those who share their point of view.”
It’s Open Season on Metaphors in the City
Phil Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Living in the DC-area places you in a growing thicket of metaphors.
Well, let me tell you, it’s open season on metaphors in the city.
Metaphors are running rampant out there. I saw a metaphor running down
Pennsylvania Avenue in broad daylight. Unafraid. Undaunted. Unrepentant.
Metaphors are not like similes. Oh, for a simile. Like, any simile. I
say bag ‘em and don’t release them. Bag ‘em and don’t release
them. (That’ll be five cents for each bag, please.)
Another DCPS Teacher Calls It Quits: Who Is to
Candi Peterson, email@example.com
Lately, I have received a number of E-mails and text messages from
teachers and colleagues about how many DC public schools teachers are
voluntarily calling it quits. Teachers that I have spoken to admit that
one of their reasons for leaving is the recently introduced IMPACT
evaluation, which was rolled out this year without its having been
piloted first. It will take a total of three years for teachers to be
graded on all of three of the IMPACT components. Many complain of
inadequate training, which is being provided “on the job” while
teachers must digest an instrument that is complex and misinterpreted by
principals, instructional coaches, program managers, and master
educators (who often aren’t so masterful). PowerPoints to supplement
IMPACT are still being developed as we speak to help further explain
rubrics that are not so specific. Teachers and service providers are
rated in areas in which there has been inadequate training. Teachers are
complaining in some schools that they have lost their planning periods
to more grade level meetings, extra duty, more paperwork, and many other
demands that result in lost time to plan. As a result, many of our
teachers come to work as early as 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and stay until 6:00
or 7:00 p.m., and continue to work into the night. Yet they are still
demonized in the press by Rhee and company. Time for family, friends,
and social activities is virtually nonexistent.
Many teachers and service providers are receiving performance ratings
on IMPACT evaluations with scores averaging in the minimally effective
and ineffective range. Even I received a low impact score, of course
being marked down in the attendance area due to being seen at a protest
rally while I was on scheduled leave. Could it be that Rhee’s plan is
to rate teachers low so that she can force out a significant share of
our teaching workforce through terminations, layoffs, resignations, and
retirements, as revealed in her five-year educational plan?
I received an E-mail from a teacher asking me to post the resignation
of yet another certified DCPS teacher. Her E-mail states, “A certified
special education teacher with a masters degree resigns from Maury
Elementary School due to belittling by Principal Carolyne Albert-Garvey.
Maury is located at 1250 Constitution Avenue, NE. The principal heavily
imposed special education coordinator (SEC) duties, which is a full-time
job, by the way, and gave an unjust Impact rating. SEC duties ‘IMPACTed,’
no pun intended, on this special education teacher’s planning and
instructional time. This special education teacher had a case load of
twelve special education students in testing grades 3, 4, and 5. Go
figure. Now the school is left with a brand new uncertified teacher.”
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Public Service Commission Announcement on
PEPCO Rate Increase Request, March 2
M. Deggins, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Public Service Commission is announcing a decision on Pepco’s
request for a $44.5 million increase to existing retail rates and
distribution services in the District of Columbia. The announcement will
be made on Tuesday, March 2, at 10:00 a.m., at the Public Service
Commission for the District of Columbia, 1113 H Street, NW, 7th Floor,
East Tower, Hearing Room. We strongly encourage you to attend or send a
representative. For additional information, please see the attached
hearing notice or contact the Public Service Commission directly at
National Building Museum Events, March 2-3
Johanna Weber, email@example.com
March 2, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Book of the Month: Tip Tip Dig
Dig. Join us in the Building Zone for a special interactive reading
of Emma Garcia’s s. This colorful book explores the noises and
functions of construction vehicles. Readings at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.
Free drop-in program. Recommended for ages three to five.
March 3, 6:30-8:00 p.m. A 21st Century African American Museum. Last
year the architectural team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup was chosen
to design the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American
History and Culture to be located on the National Mall. NMAAHC Executive
Director Lonnie Bunch shares the vision for the new building, followed
by a discussion with David Adjaye and Phil Freelon. $12 for museum
members and NMAAHC members; free for students; $20 for nonmembers.
Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on
availability. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street,
NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at http://www.nbm.org.
Blacks in Wax, March 5
John A. Stokes, firstname.lastname@example.org
The DC Department of Parks and Recreation’s (DPR), will host “Lift
Every Voice and . . . STAND” the fourth annual “Blacks in Wax”
program to be held Friday, March 5, at the Southeast Tennis and Learning
Center (SETLC), 701 Mississippi Avenue, SE, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
There will also be a matinee exhibition at 1:00 p.m. for invited
community schools. The event is sponsored by the Recreation Wish List
Sponsored by the Recreation Wish List Committee, the year’s Blacks
in Wax will feature over seventy figures from Black history, which will
all be brought to life by DPR youth and parents. In preparation to
portray these historic figures, youth complete background research and
prepare to teach visitors about the life and work of the figures they
are representing. Youth pose as still figures and, when a button is
pushed, come alive to speak about the life and achievements of the
figure they are representing.
In addition to the exhibition, there will be a special twenty-minute
special performance starting at 7:00 p.m. The special performance will
highlight this year’s Blacks in Wax theme, “Lift Every Voice and . .
. STAND” by connecting the stories and lives of major African American
entertainers, writers, and performers who have used their talent,
celebrity, and skills to benefit the well being of the community and
world. Individuals to be portrayed in this year’s program include
tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, world-acclaimed poet Maya
Angelou, philanthropist Russell Simmons, and President Barack Obama. For
more information, contact the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center,
Irish Fun on St. Patrick’s Day, March 7
Michelle Phipps-Evans, email@example.com
Seeking some authentic Irish fun to mark St. Patrick’s Day? Join
the Father McKenna Center and the Gonzaga Mothers Club at their third
annual Rollicking Afternoon of Irish Music and Dance. It features Pete
Moss and the Bog Band, Irish musician Paul Gannon, and the Boyle School
of Irish Dance. This talented group has a true passion for Irish music,
and the evening promises to be one of fun, dance, and the luck of the
This annual event will be at the Lower Church at St. Aloysius, 19 I
Street, NW, on Sunday, March 7, at 4:00 p.m. A basket for donations and
freewill offerings will be at the door. For more information, please
call Tom Howarth at 842-1112 or visit the web site, http://www.fathermckennacenter.org.
The Father McKenna Center, located at St. Aloysius Church, serves the
needs of poor families through a variety of programs funded by generous
individuals, religious orders and institutions, foundations and grants.
All proceeds from this event goes to the center.
NEA’s Poetry Out Loud, March 8
Ebony Blanks, firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Endowment for the Art’s Poetry Out Loud State
Recitation Contest, an evening of poetry, will be held on Monday, March
8, at 5:30 p.m. Come to Gala Hispanic Theater to cheer on DC students as
they perform to compete in the NEA’s Poetry Out Loud finals. One
student will be chosen to represent DC on the national stage. For more
information, contact Ebony Blanks, Ebony.email@example.com.
Update on Public Works Committee Recycling
Hearing, March 10
Virginia Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The March 10 Public Works Committee hearing will be on the oversight
of the Department Public Works and the Environment and not just on
recycling. The committee chairman has stated that snow issues specific
to DPW will be handled at the March 10 hearing, and it is believed that
a large bulk of the public testimony will be around snow. It is
unfortunate that the chairman has decided to commingle recycling with
one of his favorite issues — cars — in this way, but there it is. It
is still important to attend and make our voices heard about our city’s
failures around recycling (this is our hearing). To sign up to testify,
contact April Hawkins-Mason, Legislative Assistant, Committee on Public
Works and Transportation 724-8195, email@example.com.
Next time you are throwing things away and asking yourself why can’t
they recycle it, realize that you had your chance.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
Wednesday and Sunday. To change the E-mail address for your subscription
to themail, use the Update Profile/Email address link below in the
E-mail edition. To unsubscribe, use the Safe Unsubscribe link in the
E-mail edition. An archive of all past issues is available at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail.
All postings should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of
Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to
be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief
paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can
be put into each mailing.