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The U.S. Treasury mints every coin with the motto “E Pluribus Unum””Out of many, one.” Where those very same coins are concerned, the “many” apparently doesn’t include the nation’s capital. In 1996, Rep. Michael Castle sponsored a bill to create a commemorative quarter for each of the 50 states. This month, DelawareCastle’s home turfkicked off the 10-year program by replacing the quarter’s American eagle with an equestrian likeness of state hero Caesar Rodney. (A new quarter will be issued every 10 weeks.) The District of Columbia, however, was not included in Castle’s bill. D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton sees the omission as yet another affront. “It’s bad enough we don’t have a vote,” says Norton. “For goodness’ sake, give us a coin.” Next week, Norton will introduce a bill that includes D.C. and the four U.S. territories in Treasury’s program. “This is basically a pride-in-your-hometown issue,” says Norton. “The District could always use a little pride.”
Cell Points At the Barney Circle Anti-Crime March last week, a marcher pointed out a “For Sale” sign on 17th Street SE to prospective D.C. homebuyer Mayor Anthony A. Williams. “Does it have a good view of the Anacostia River?” Williams asked. “Well, to be honest,” the neighbor replied, “it has a better view of the cemetery and both jails.”
A Terrible Thing to Waste Charter schools have shaken up the D.C. school establishment with innovative approaches to staffing, curriculum, and teaching techniques. But the Young Technocrats Math and Science Public Charter School neglected to do its homework on a more prosaic issuehow to dispose of its refuse. Instead of selecting from an approved list of city contractors, Principal Wali Williams pulled Eric Landscaping Inc. out of the yellow pages. According to Anita Chavis of the city’s Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU), the firm has no business license to collect solid waste. Last week, ECU investigators stumbled upon three truckloads of Young Technocrats’ trash on the grounds of another D.C. public schoolFerebee Elementary. “We had no idea where they were taking the trash,” claims Williams. “We assumed they were dumping it somewhere legal.” Chavis says the Fort Washington firm dumped old file cabinets, lockers, computers, typewriters, and assorted other items on Ferebee’s grounds. And investigators have since discovered two other illegal dump sites that the company has used. D.C. fined Eric Landscaping $5,000 for each site. Young Technocrats, meanwhile, must pay for the Ferebee cleanup.
Turning Japanese D.C. city agencies are rarely sought out as models of bureaucratic efficiency. Two weeks ago, however, a four-person Japanese government delegation toured the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in search of tips on streamlining business licensing and regulation. “In Japan, they have to go through the government and then the province that the business is working in,” says DCRA spokeswoman Lyn Alexander. “They learned that it’s much easier here.” That assessment might surprise the countless vendors, restaurant owners, and other entrepreneurs who contemplate hari-kari while waiting in line for licenses at DCRA’s rodent-infested 614 H St. NW headquarters. But DCRA Director Lloyd Jordan instead emphasized the department’s “new hands-on approach to helping customers walk through what has been described…as a vast and confusing corporation registration procedure,” according to a press release celebrating the momentous occasion.
Ackerman’s List Last Friday, D.C. public schools principals submitted the names of teachers identified for dismissal through Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s new performance review process. The controversial program allows principals to sack underperforming teachers if they don’t improve after a 90-day probationary period. “This will only help our students,” says one Northwest principal. But last week, an anonymous group of teachers faxed a slightly less charitable interpretation of the new policy to teachers throughout the system. “A more appropriate title for the new evaluation process is: PPEP (Pre-determined Punitive Elimination Process)….Stay informed and watch your back.”
Reporting by Nefretiti Makenta, Alexandra Phanor, and Elissa Silverman.
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