City Paper is not for tourists
Morning all. And a happy Columbus Day to all—-the holiday you only get off if you work for the government. This was a good weekend if you’re interested in watching DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee take some lumps. Start with Robert McCartney‘s Sunday WaPo column: ‘I want to love Michelle Rhee—-really, I do—-but she makes it so hard sometimes,’ he writes. What’s making it hard, he writes, is how she went about the teacher layoffs. ‘She picked a spectacularly bad time, just as the school year was shifting into high gear. She also mishandled the theatrics in such a way that she enraged the unions and D.C. Council even more than she usually does. As a result, labor and political tensions simmering in the city over Rhee’s reforms since she arrived in 2007 boiled over last week. The spillage might jeopardize her whole project and poses a significant challenge for her patron, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), as he seeks reelection next year.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-First-year teacher talks about her firing; Hartsock supporters rally at city hall; Colby King isn’t seeing results; WaPo’s Milbank lays into DOH; Red Line train driver flakes out; and remembering a promising 17-year-old caught in crossfire.
OH BOY—-At Thursday’s Freedom Plaza rally, says McCartney, ‘George T. Johnson, head of the District Council 20 AFSCME, urged civil disobedience and likened Fenty to Hitler and Rhee to Himmler. (He admitted later that he “got a little carried away.”)’ And Vincent Gray ‘was greeted with sustained chants of “Run for mayor!”‘—-which McCartney says ‘is sure to increase the chances that he’ll decide to challenge Fenty, with firing Rhee a central plank in his platform.’
More teacher layoff items:
—-Ex-first-year DCPS teacher Jodie Gittleson shares her experience with the Rhenty ax. She was the only third-grade teacher at Shaed ES; after her pink-slipping, ‘My principal informed me that my students would be mixed in with fourth- and second-graders. Yes, these are tough economic times, but does that justify providing a poor educational experience for these children?’ Gittleson closes: ‘The decision to lay off teachers weeks into the school year has been disruptive to the children and dishonest to the teachers who made commitments to the D.C. schools. I am floored by what has happened, and I cannot help but draw conclusions about the long string of missteps that must have led to this. And I have to ask: Will Chancellor Rhee be held accountable?’
—-Kavitha Cardoza of WAMU-FM covers Saturday’s D.C. Council ‘youth hearing,’ where some students said ‘classes have increased in size and they’re worried about being able to graduate on time….Dana Downs from Alice Deal Middle School says she was in the middle of a science project she was excited about. Now a different teacher has come in and abruptly changed course. Downs says students are also acting out in class, taking advantage of their new teacher. She says “they will talk really loud and won’t listen to her and throw things.” Also WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
—-HuffPo blogger: ‘[W]hat is astonishing is how little media coverage there has been about HOW those firings came down….It’s a horrible story that bears repeating. It’s a story that deserves a giant front page headline that screams out: DC TEACHERS YANKED FROM THE CLASSROOM LIKE CRIMINALS Or STUDENTS WATCH WHILE DC TEACHERS REMOVED BY ARMED POLICE.’
—-Rhee foe Candi Peterson: ‘There is a double standard within Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s administration. What we are seeing is a chancellor who is not being accountable when it matters most to be accountable.’
—-Education Week: ‘Is Michelle Rhee in Trouble?…Is the budget gap really just a ruse to oust teachers, especially veterans that Rhee and her principals don’t like, as the WTU contends? Or, perhaps even more troubling, is there a problem with managing budgets on her team that is supposed to be stacked with smart, Blackberry-wielding whipper snappers?’
—-Union PR consultant to WaPo: ‘Is there no end to The Post’s fawning coverage of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee?…Instead of throwing Rhee softballs about “whether Friday was her most difficult day as chancellor,” The Post would better serve the public if it investigated whether the chaos she has created has only made a bad situation worse.’
—-The WaPo editorial board, it seems, is aware that the circumstances of the layoffs are indeed suspect. So on Sunday’s page, they go big picture: ‘So what is really the cause of the continuing rift between school and union leaders? Is it Ms. Rhee’s blunt style and her budget-mandated reduction in force? Or is it that the union cannot abide, above all in the nation’s capital, a contract under which schoolteachers—-like employees throughout the private sector—-might have their work judged, and their compensation awarded, in part on how well they do their jobs?…Could it be that the union couldn’t stomach the notion that factors other than seniority—-such as how well students were being served—-helped determine which teachers would remain in the classroom?’
—-Says Gary Imhoff in themail: ‘The protest rally on Freedom Plaza last Thursday marks a turning point in DC politics. Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s war against DC school teachers and their union led her to overreach with a maneuver that was too cute by half — to hire many more teachers than she needed for this school year in order to provide an excuse for largely arbitrary firings, calling them a Reduction in Force. That offended not just veteran teachers, but also younger teachers who realized that they, too, would be the targets of Rhee’s iron whims. It showed students and DCPS parents how Rhee’s methods, when put in practice, would harm them. And it energized government workers and unions — not just local unions, but national union leaders — in recognition that the Fenty administration is engaged not in an effort to improve education, but in an effort to bust public employee unions. That changes the momentum in the 2010 mayoral race.’
ALSO—-Rhee has new haircut, chats up Jeb Bush at conference, Reliable Source reports.
The furor over Ximena Hartsock‘s rejection as parks-and-rec director continues: Friday saw a Wilson Building rally on her behalf from ‘Hispanic community activist,’ Tim Craig reports in WaPo, who ‘accus[ed] members of racism and sexism.’ And Hartsock herself in not above the fray: ‘In interviews with The Washington Post and Spanish-language TV stations, Hartsock accused the council of showing disrespect for the city’s growing Hispanic population. “I was mistreated,” Hartsock said. “Not only me, but my entire heritage….There is nothing worse than creating a precedent for injustice.”‘ Says Harry Thomas Jr.: ‘I don’t think the full [Hispanic] community is behind this….These are just Hartsock supporters trying to create an issue where there is none.”‘
If that’s not enough explanation, Thomas explains his vote against Hartsock’s confirmation. He comes out swinging in WaPo letter: ‘Like so many Post editorials regarding the D.C. Council, this commentary about the rejection of Ximena Hartsock for the position of director of parks and recreation was off-base. The council’s disapproval of her confirmation was rooted not in “political spite”—-as the editorial claimed—-but in concerns about the nominee’s disregard of District law and personnel practices during her tenure as acting director….The council cannot confirm a nominee if it has doubts about her commitment to the personnel practices and laws of the District.’
ALSO—-PoP readers vent.
Colby King says he ‘naively expected that last week’s column about youth gangs preying on students at the Friendship Collegiate Academy on Minnesota Avenue in Northeast would bring some relief for kids who, with parents and devoted teachers, are doing their best to learn.’ Well, it didn’t. On Thursday, the ’37th Street Crew’ jumped a ninth-grader there, sending him to the hospital. ‘I’ve received e-mails from Ward 7 council member Yvette Alexander and [Gray], who previously represented Ward 7, promising meetings with police and school officials to develop a plan. Sounds like a lot of talking and listening will be going on. As for doing?’
WaPo’s Dana Milbank sees in the District’s response to swine flu evidence of ‘many problems with the nation’s patchwork of a public health system.’ DOH, he writes, at one point proposed inoculating private school kids after public school kids and ‘more oddities,’ including priority for ‘incarcerated persons.’ So ‘[f]ederal health officials got wind of this strange plan and placed a call to the D.C. health director, Pierre Vigilance. He was home sick, as it happens—-with the flu. District officials, who say that the plan wasn’t finalized and that it was never their intention to vaccinate prisoners before kids, revised their plan and are now in line with the CDC recommendations.’ So no big deal, right? D.C. in-school vaccinations begin Oct. 19.
WaPo’s Carol Morello reports that some local gay couples are choosing to wait on their nuptials until gay marriage in legal in the District. For one, because ‘they wanted to marry here, where they live, not in some distant state where they have no connection. Or because they saw no practical reason to wed as long as the District didn’t recognize their unions, which it began doing only this summer. Still others were considering weddings in gay-friendly locales and now are thrilled they might not have to incur the expense and hassle after all.’ Included in the piece: Paul Cooper and Michael Ulrich, married by Tommy Wells.
Big piece on parking-registration evaders from WaPo’s Monica Hesse. LL has zero sympathy for these people, who float from unzoned block to unzoned block to maintain their out-of-state plates. OK, maybe a little sympathy for Dan Maceda, who decided to switch, only to endure this: ‘With the transaction nearly complete, the clerk decided that his proof of residence was insufficient—-he’d brought a cellphone bill instead of an approved utility. Maceda said he would come back with proper proof of residence, in addition to his Social Security number and current license. “That’s going to be a problem,” he remembers the clerk telling him. “I just shredded your New York license.”‘ But mostly the piece is full of jerks who’ve lived here eight years and still have their Oklahoma licenses.
Metro train driver walks away from his train, stranding Red Line passengers at New York Avenue station late last Monday. James Hohmann reports in WaPo that the operator requested a bathroom break, and that he disappeared for at least 15 minutes. ‘When the operator finally returned to his train and was told to continue to the end of the line, he would not. According to a Metro source, the operator said it was time for him to go off-duty.’ The driver has been placed on leave.
Kenyetta D. Nicholson-Stanley, 17, caught in the crossfire of a Thursday evening shooting in Edgewood Terrace, died Friday of her wound. ‘It remained unclear Friday who fired the fatal shot….Homicide detectives are investigating the shooting,’ WaPo writes. NC8 reports that she was student at Hyde Leadership PCS. Also WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
‘Good Samaritan’ Clinton Price, 21, shot after trying to stop a robbery in the grocery his family owns on Rock Creek Church Road NE, WaPo reports. ‘The suspect carjacked a vehicle on Crittenden Street, then collided with another car on 16th Street NW.’ Price is expected to recover. Also WUSA-TV.
Federal Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson refuses to jail alleged taxi scammer Yitbarek Syume pending trial, apparently finding that a halfway house is sufficient to contain a man caught on tape threatening to kill a co-conspirator outed as an FBI mole. WaPo’s Del Wilber notes that prosecutors plan to appeal the ruling. Also WRC-TV.
What’s this you say, Detroit Free Press? Robert Bobb bringing in old friends and associates on no-bid contracts? Among them: ‘Kevin Clinton, the executive director of the Department of State and Federal Programs for DPS, and Bobb worked together for Washington, D.C., and for the city’s school district. Clinton was a fiscal officer for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for Washington, D.C., and Bobb was the state school board president.’
George Hawkins is officially out the door at DDOE. Replacing him in the city environmental office will be Maureen McGowan, one of Dan Tangherlini‘s legion of ‘program analysts.’ Vandana Sinha covers for WBJ: ‘Before Friday, McGowan had served as special assistant to the director at DDOE, where her job duties included representing the agency at DC WASA board meetings. Previous to joining DDOE’s ranks, she had helped oversee that agency’s budget from the city administrator’s office. Sources said she has been tapped to fill the top post for the next 60 days, and the mayor’s search for a permanent replacement is under way.’ Hawkins starts at WASA one week from today.
Circulator to Rosslyn? According to Examiner’s Kytja Weir, ‘officials are laying the groundwork’ to extend a line from Georgetown across Key Bridge. ‘D.C. Councilman Jack Evans, D-Ward 2, introduced a bill last week asking to change the rules that prevent the D.C. Circulator from running outside the city limits. The idea is to allow the Circulator to run to Rosslyn, taking the place of the privately run Georgetown Metro Connection, known as the “blue bus,”‘ which is run by the Georgetown BID, which ‘has long hoped the Circulator would take over the route.’
Ah, yes, the libertarian case against taxi medallions. Samuel R. Staley of the Reason Foundation lays it out in a WaPo op-ed. ‘Instead of a market dominated by nimble and flexible enterprises, the industry [under a cap] becomes controlled by a few large companies with exceptionally strong incentives to maintain the status quo, whatever the cost and regardless of higher prices and declines in service quality….The D.C. Taxi Commission would do well to avoid attempts to restrict the supply side of the District’s market. District visitors and residents value the efficiency and benefits of having 8,000 cabs, and they want more service, not less. Competition and openness in the market create incentives for cab companies and their drivers to meet these needs and preferences.’
Teachers at Marie Reed ES in Adams Morgan have embraced a Japanese teaching model called ‘lesson study,’ Emma Brown reports in WaPo, which includes . ‘collaborative examination of the mechanics of teaching.’ It represents ‘a wholly different approach from the workshop-with-an-outside-expert model that dominates professional development for U.S. teachers.’ In case you’re wondering, Reed’s DC-CAS scores are up.
WaPo Magazine does Q&A with D.C. GOP executive director Paul Craney.
Investigative author Gerald Posner has a book out about Miami decadence, and, hey, whose name comes up? ‘Perhaps developer Don Peebles will cringe when he reads Posner’s detailing of the politics he played as he was revamping the Royal Palm Hotel and the Bath Club. There’s also the bit about Peebles’ ties to Marion Barry, and, according to the book, evidence revealed that “the mayor had taken girls to Peebles’ flat” in Washington, D.C.’
A lamentation from Harry Jaffe on the demise of the Black Rooster Pub. ‘The impending shuttering of The Black Rooster will rip another hunk out of Washington, D.C.’s, hometown heart. Every tavern that closes removes a place for us to gather, make friends, create memories, have our first date, our first kisses. Among the dearly departed of late are: Nathans in Georgetown; Timberlake’s and Childe Harold in Dupont Circle; AV’s on New York Avenue.’ But it’s not over yet! Sign up to save the place on Facebook!
Nine D.C. post offices still up for closure: Columbia Heights Finance, Fort Davis, Ledroit Park, Naval Research Laboratory, Navy Annex, Northeast, Petworth, Randle, and Woodridge.
Man, 18, shot multiple times Sunday night on 800 block of 10th Street NE. ‘Authorities say they are looking for two black males that were seen leaving the scene on mountain bikes,’ NC8 reports. Also WTTG-TV, and WUSA-TV has full descriptions.
More from WaPo on man suspected in string of robberies from taxicabs and gas stations in Northeast. ‘Officers described the suspect as a man 35 to 40 years old and about 5-foot-10 with a slim build and a goatee.’
‘GWU Toucher’ has been arrested, WTTG-TV reports. Is he the same as the Georgetown Cuddler? TBD.
Man struck and killed on B-W Parkway, on ramp to New York Avenue. As of early Sunday, he had not been identified, WaPo reports. ‘Police said he was apparently Hispanic, about 5 feet to 5-feet-3 and weighing about 135 pounds. As an aid to identification, police released images of a white T-shirt he wore, with intricate designs on front and back. One side bore the words “Semper Paratus,” the other “Royal Ruthlessness.” Call 610-8737 with information.
Tasked with developing the retail component of the J Street/Gallaudet Florida Avenue Market redevelopment is Edens & Avant, Jonathan O’Connell reports for WBJ, which is a South Carolina firm that specializes in strip malls. ‘[T]urning the roughage of the market’s existing setting into a safe, inviting shopping center with wholesalers, street vendors and possibly a culinary institute would be a tall task even for a company that wasn’t used to dealing in Publix grocery stores and Old Navy’s. “We’ve got a lot of work to do out there,” Bruner said, smiling. “Just a little bit.”‘
The National Equality March draws a crowd: ‘Thousands of people marched from McPherson Square, a few blocks from the White House, down Pennsylvania Avenue, chanting “President Obama: Let mama marry mama!” and “L, G, B, T—-We demand equality!”‘ writes WaPo. ‘Marchers carried signs reading “We Won’t Wait for Full Equality” and “Mind Your Own Marriage.” Spectators watched from the street and the roof of the Newseum, many cheering the participants. As the march ended about 2:30 p.m., people gathered on Capitol Hill for a rally.’ Also AP, WAMU-FM, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV. See GLAA Forum for more.
Fenty addressed march participants at a Friday night reception, Metro Weekly reports. ‘Fenty [said] he was “especially pleased” to soon have the opportunity to sign the marriage equality legislation introduced this week by Councilmember David Catania (I-At Large). “When—-not if—-it passes the City Council,” Fenty said, “all of us will come together…and sign that bill, and become one of the first cities to make sure that we have full equality and marriage for all of our citizens.”…”[The mayor] underplays his role,” said Catania during his remarks. “Had he not come out so early and so strongly in support of this, people would have tried to tried to drive a wedge between him and the council.”‘
ALSO—-Christian Science Monitor covers D.C. gay marriage.
Everything you ever wanted to know about getting a flu shot, courtesy of DCist.
WAMU-FM covers Bikestation.
Wondering what’s happening to city homeless spending? Wait till Wednesday…
Fenty co-chairs, with Caron Butler, ‘the “Sister to Sister’s Bike For The Heart” event at Verizon Center on Sunday. The fundraiser, which raised awareness to heart disease, was hosted by Wizards co-owner Irene Pollin.’ Butler got the night off.
In case you’ve ever been wondering about those Doric columns on the 1600 block of Florida Avenue NW…
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.