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Tom Stabile’s article on Gen. Charles Williams (“Fiddler on the Roof,” 8/22) did a real disservice in its portrayal of the handling of roof repairs within DCPS. The article’s conclusion bore little resemblance to the information contained within. And most dastardly, Washington City Paper succumbed to the same kind of pathetic whining we’ve heard from disgruntled elected school board members and from parents screaming about opening delays. (Where was the outrage when the schools were falling apart or when a school principal was assaulting a reporter and teaching her students racism?)
Exactly what information here was supposed to support Stabile’s hyperbolic criticisms? Maybe Tom needs to reread his own article, especially the parts where he concedes that Williams had to create a staff, familiarize himself with DCPS’s institutional background, hire a new capital facilities director, replace that director a short time later, handle a “huge” roof disaster (while dealing with inherited fire-code violations and other crumbling infrastructures), andby himselfhandle “planning, bidding, negotiating deals, and evaluating progress…”
First you criticize Williams for not awarding contracts until July, then you acknowledge that he didn’t have the money to do so until late June. You concede that contractors hate to deal with DCPS but imply that they would no doubt have jumped to sign on the dotted line at a time when D.C. didn’t even have the funds to pay them.
There is a growing culture of unrealistic expectations in D.C. The idea that change will be painless and smooth lacks maturity. We ought to get our act together when it comes to the way we react to the process of transition in the D.C. bureaucracy, because there is a lot more of it to come in the police department, public works, and on and on.
So let me paint a different picture than that depicted in Stabile’s article. In a very short period of time, the control board and Williamsnew
to all of thishave tightened the
budget, closed unnecessary buildings, fixed and replaced roofs, focused on other crumbling facilities, reviewed employees’ qualifications, and have taken all the heat while doing so. D.C. is finally getting its money’s worth!
We’re not being realistic when
we slam Williams and the progress being made. Stabile’s article was
really digging, and without much success. City Paper should not make complaining itself an objective of