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July 14, 2010

Standardized Tests

Dear Testers:

In the last issue of themail, I called for contumacious Attorney General Peter Nickles to be fired and disbarred because he misused his office by threatening to launch a criminal investigation of Council Chairman Vince Gray in retaliation for Gray’s criticism of him. This kind of abuse of power can’t be tolerated from any prosecutor. In response to my call for disbarment, one lawyer called me to say, “You know that anyone can file a complaint with the Bar Counsel, don’t you?” Then another lawyer E-mailed me with the name and address of the Bar Counsel. Now, I don’t necessarily mistake that for popular support; it more likely stems from a desire to be entertained: “Let’s you and him fight.” But, still. . . .


The latest standardized test scores from DC Public Schools are not good news for DCPS or Chancellor Rhee, especially since Rhee and DCPS have staked everything on test scores as the measure of their success. Bill Turque headlines the news, “DC Elementary Test Scores Show Decline,”, and Valerie Strauss writes about “Rhee’s Problem with DC’s New Test Scores,” So how does DCPS deal with the decline in elementary test scores? By issuing a press release that ignores it entirely, and instead says, “DCPS Secondary School Students Demonstrate Significant Gains for Third Consecutive Year,” Within a day or two I expect to see a Washington Post editorial contradicting all its previous editorials that claimed that small gains on the standardized test scores proved Rhee’s genius, admonishing readers that standardized tests don’t prove anything, and that they should not pay any attention to them.

Gary Imhoff


School Crossing Guards
Jerome Lindquist,

Pat Taylor (themail, July 11) brings up a point that has bothered me for quite some time — school crossing guards. In my Glover Park neighborhood, a school crossing guard showed up one day. Since then, she has spent the entire day, every day, at one intersection by Stoddert School. She always parks her car illegally close to the corner (and is never ticketed because she fraternized with the local parking ticket writers), and seems to view herself as the corner guard. However, she spends more time petting neighbors’ dogs and feeding them treats, and often misses people in the cross walks. Furthermore, she acts as though she is a traffic cop, directing which cars can proceed through the intersection even when no pedestrians are around. In the twenty years I’ve lived in the neighborhood, the only crossing guards I ever saw were retired people, likely serving as volunteers. There has not been a single incident in all that time, either. So what gives? Does this school district have so much money that they can afford to have these make-work jobs exist across the city? I guess I shouldn’t be as upset as Pat Taylor, since I’ve only seen the one guard. Maybe there are more at the other corners surrounding the school. After all, not all children come from only one direction.


More on Tax Dollars Wasted in Chinatown
Ted Gest,

I continue to be outraged about the “Barnes Dance” at 7th and H in Chinatown. Hardly anyone is abiding by the poorly marked “no turns” signs. I just saw a cab and limo ignore them. Yesterday DC had three uniformed police officers yelling at people about this. These were not traffic control officers but regular uniformed cops. Does anyone else see this as a waste of time and effort?


An Open Letter to Robin-Eve Jasper
Robin Diener,

I think your office oversees Protective Services for DC buildings. Last night the guard at the rear entrance of the Wilson Building would not let me enter the building to attend the end of the city council session because he could not locate the council session on his schedule and I was “not authorized.” As I was detained there at the desk, others were allowed to enter the building simply on the basis of saying they were attending a meeting in room 120. They signed signing in but did not display badges or have their names checked against a list or other form of “authorization.” Observing my plight, many of them assured the guard that anyone can attend the DC council session and that it was still going on. Their protestations were of no avail. After I persuaded the gentleman to call his supervisor, the supervisor told me he didn’t have anyone to “escort” me to the Council chamber. No one was being escorted to the meeting in room 120. When I asked what could be done to allow me in, he asked me if I had heard what he said. I told him that I had and that I would pass it on.

While this was going on, I felt as if I had entered the Twilight Zone where a foreign government had taken over. Fortunately, Neil Albert happened to be exiting soon thereupon. He asked a member of the mayor’s staff who happened to be reentering to escort me to the fifth floor. This was done.

I have copied this letter to a few reporters who have a strong interest in open government. However, as a former retail store owner, I suspect strongly that the issue is one of training. I urge you to take a look at the customer service training these men have been given. If, in fact, this is a budgetary issue, then we also need to look at your budget. If there isn’t enough money to secure the Wilson Building for citizens to attend council sessions, then something needs to be done. I won’t even go into the irony of my being there to witness the disposition of the West End parcels, again. I will be happy to talk to you further at your convenience. There may be a budgetary issue, but clearly training also needs to be improved. The supervisor in particular was entirely out of order. Thanks for looking into this. I would appreciate hearing from you.



CPCUG Talk: “MS Office 2010, Free and Fee-Based Versions,” July 17
Barbara Conn,

Join us as Capital PC User Group President Dennis Courtney demonstrates the current incarnation of Microsoft Office. He will show us some of the new functionality of the just-released 2010 Office suite and discuss its integration with Microsoft SharePoint. He will also introduce the new free version. Learn what new features of Office 2010 you can use and whether a free version will meet your needs.

Gather your friends, colleagues, and neighbors, and your questions, and bring them to this Saturday, July 17, 1:00 p.m., gathering of the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (E&C SIG). These monthly events are free and open to all. This month’s event is at the Cleveland Park Branch Library (first floor large meeting room) at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW (between Macomb and Newark Streets) — just over a block south of the Cleveland Park Metrorail Station on the Red Line. For more information about the seminar, the speaker, and CPCUG (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization), visit To RSVP, send E-mail to


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