Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark D.C. youngsters interested in following the path of native Washingtonian Duke Ellington may have to toot their own horns this school year: The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has decided to cut its contribution to the D.C. Youth Orchestra in half, from $136,000 to $68,000, reports Carol Rende, the orchestra’s assistant director of administration. When Rende and orchestra director Lyn McLain met with DCPS assistant superintendent Ralph Neal, they showered him with scholarly research suggesting that learning music boosts the development of cognitive skills, particularly in young children.They also argued that the orchestra was a bargain: At a price to DCPS of only $5 per child per week, the orchestra’s instruction in theory and technique qualifies a majority of students who graduate for admission to most university music programs. “If you have something that’s proven to help children and is very cost-effective, you really have to ask yourself, ‘Why don’t you do it?’” Rende notes. The orchestra will take in 150 fewer students this year because of the shrinking funding. Assistant superintendent Neal did not return repeated phone calls asking for comment.

Searching for Change After wading through a sea of electioneers, four D.C. voters proceeded up the Lincoln Middle School sidewalk and walked through the door next to the sign marked “Voting” with an arrow pointing the way. Wandering around the silent hallways with no voting booths in sight, the voters asked a volunteer from Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith’s campaign for directions. “Try upstairs,” he suggested. At the top of the stairs, they ran into two Lincoln students. “You need to go downstairs,” they said. Back at ground zero, the citizens realized that they needed to walk back out the doors and around the corner to the school’s auditorium. “Even when voting, you can’t avoid the runaround in this city,” one remarked.

Church and State Two Sundays ago, an Imani Temple church leader approached James Wilson and asked if he would volunteer for George A. Stallings, a Democratic candidate for the Ward 6 D.C. Council seat and archbishop of the church. “I was in church, and I can’t lie there,” says Wilson, “so I said that I can’t because I’ll be working for Sharon Ambrose.” The church leader was outraged. After all, Wilson served on Stallings’ security detail, in which he was asked to “lay down his life” for the archbishop. “As a bishop and a priest I will follow him,” Wilson adds. “But as a councilman, I cannot support him….[Ambrose’s] record is impeccable in my neighborhood on Capitol Hill.” Wilson was promptly notified he need not show up for his security detail. Wendell Evans, chief of security for Imani Temple, says that Wilson was never part of the security detail and the incident never occurred. “Anybody is welcome to come to our church no matter who they support,” he says.

Not a Mensch Independent D.C. mayoral candidate Al Ceccone bills himself as an experienced political veteran. In 1984, Ceccone ran as a Republican for a Maryland congressional seat, and in 1990, he appeared on the ballot as the Republican nominee for Montgomery County executive. But now that he’s moved into the District, he seems to have forgotten his ties to the GOP. Ceccone says there’s a simple reason he’s not running against Carol Schwartz for the Republican mayoral nomination: “I didn’t want to get my ass beat by a Jewish grandmother.”

Polling for Dollars When mayoral candidate Harold Brazil hired workers to man the polls on Tuesday, he apparently forgot to administer a loyalty oath. Outside the polling station at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Brazil-for-Mayor-T-shirt-clad Joan Walker vigorously foisted the candidate’s propaganda on voters. Walker, however, responded to voters’ questions about the candidate with a question of her own: “Do I have to vote for the guy I’m working for?” Leafing through a Brazil pamphlet, Walker complained that there wasn’t much information on his background and suggested that he hadn’t done anything to distinguish himself from the crowd. Barring a contractual obligation to vote for her primary-day employer, Walker said she intended to vote for Jack Evans.

Reporting by Paula Park, Elissa Silverman, and Erik Wemple.

Please send your City Desk tips to Elissa Silverman at esilverman@washcp.com or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.

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