Thursday, October 11



BLOOMBERG - When Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier demoted three black assistant chiefs last month to streamline the department's top brass, Ronald Hampton feared that something other than a drive for efficiency was taking place. Hampton, executive director of the National Black Police Association, joined with the NAACP civil rights group in seeking a meeting with Lanier, who is white. The demotions, said Hampton, 62, show that the department is "insensitive to the communities of color."

The incident underlined a growing sense of unease among some black residents that their influence is waning as the size of their population majority shrinks and the wealth gap with whites widens. Anxiety has risen as developers gentrify Washington neighborhoods such as the U Street corridor, where Duke Ellington played, and Columbia Heights, where racial tensions spurred riots in the 1960s. Some of the frustration is turned toward Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Since taking office in January, Fenty, 36, who is black, has appointed whites to top city government posts, including fire chief and city administrator, as well as police chief. He named a Korean-American to head the school system and an Indian- American as chief financial officer.

"It's the new African-American syndrome, where race is less on the forefront of many politicians' minds,'' said Lila Ammons, a professor of black studies at Howard University in Washington. "Twenty or 30 years ago, blacks thought it was important to have a predominantly black government. That dynamic has changed.''

Dee Hunter, head of a U Street residents group, said of Fenty, "Even some of his strongest supporters have grown tired of trying to defend the racial makeup of the Cabinet."

Things have changed since Washington was celebrated in a popular 1975 funk song as "Chocolate City." The black population shrank to 55 percent last year from a peak of 71 percent four decades ago, as many longtime residents and business owners were pushed out by escalating rents. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, predicts that the black population will fall to 50 percent by 2015.

Recently released Census data show a vast difference in median income in 2006 - $91,631 for whites and $34,484 for blacks. The gap is the second-widest in the U.S. based on race, behind Atlanta's, Frey said. Almost 80 percent of Washington's 108,100 residents living in poverty are black. . .

Gentrification means different things to different people, said Pamela Pinnock, 49, a black events manager at Busboys and Poets, a U Street corridor bar and restaurant. "When black and brown people hear the word `gentrification,' they think it means white developers are coming and moving the black and Latino people out of the area," she said. "White people think it means the neighborhood is finally getting a Starbucks or Whole Foods."


KENA SHRINE CENTER, VA - For the first time known in the 55 year history of the Kena Shrine Center there has been a major theft. $1,000.00 reward. On Saturday September 30th 2007 thieves used a power saw to cut the tong lock's off two trailers. Whether they knew what the contents of the trailers were is not known, but they hit the jack-pot, they got away with many thousands of dollars of vehicles. The Kena Antique Car Club had a trailer stolen from the parking lot and inside that trailer was a fully restored prize winning 1920 Model T Ford. The second trailer that was stolen was a 2001 US Cargo and was not owned by Kena but rather by Fairfax County Police Officers and it had four Harley-Davidson Police Motorcycles inside of it.


CAB DRIVERS are trying to get the council not to require them to live in the city. Said Abdul Kamus of the African Resource Center at a hearing, "Police officers, teachers and firefighters are not required to live in the District of Columbia. Why should taxi drivers be targeted?" About two third of the city's drivers live outside of DC. Of course, the gentriphilic council members thought it was the drivers' fault. Jim Graham made noises about a higher registration fee and Murial Bowser asked, "How can we get taxi drivers to contribute more to the tax base of the District of Columbia?" Well, one way would be to have housing in which they could afford to live.

NOT ONLY DO we have charter schools cheating the DC government with phony enrollment figures, but now a GAO report suggests that the much vaunted voucher system lacks financial and safety controls. Reports the Post: "In a random sample of 18 schools reviewed by the GAO, two lacked occupancy permits, and four lacked permits needed for buildings used for educational purposes. At least seven of the 18 schools were certified as child development centers but not as private schools. In one case, a school was operating in a space designed for a retail store, the report says."

SIRUS SATELLITE RADIO has signed Mark Thompson for a three hour daily talk show. Thompson has been a DC-based radio host for 20 years. He is a longtime NAACP activist and an ordained minister. He was emcee of the Million Man March and founder of the Umoja Party. Thompson is also known by his African name, Matsimela Mapfumo.

CU TOWER - New visitation hours that went into effect this semester force guests to leave after midnight on weekdays, even in the Millennium Apartments. The term "guest" applies to any person, including a University student, who does not reside in the residence building or dorm room in question. Under the policy students may only occupy common area lounges after visitation hours if they are a resident of that hall. . . Sarah Daniels, the associate dean of students responsible for Residence Life matters, said that "an inordinate amount" of roommate conflicts arise because of guests disturbing students late at night. "The visitation policy is a great example of a policy designed to articulate and protect the rights of students to live in an environment conducive to academic and person success," said Daniels. . . Several students who spoke with The Tower said they were never informed of the new policy, and expressed their concern that it did not take the late night schedule of college students into account.

LOU STAMBERG, A RETIRED US AID official who was deeply involved in the community council of WAMU, has passed away at the age of 70. Stamberg was also on the board of Pact, an international nongovernmental organization that has worked since 1995 to reduce poverty and ensure social, economic and environmental justice. His survivors include his wife, Susan, a familiar voice on NPR who once worked at WAMU and his son, Josh, late of the 'Studio 60" cast on TV.

WASHINGTON POST - The District government has agreed to cap the number of inmates at the D.C. jail at 2,164, dropping plans to appeal a court ruling last week that threatened to hold Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in contempt if the city failed to abide by the limit. . . The city and jail-reform advocates have been arguing for years over crowding at the Southeast Washington facility. An outside consultant recommended the 2,164 limit that the D.C. Council approved in 2004. In the years since, city officials have declined to set such a firm cap, and the population has often surpassed it, sometimes by hundreds. The jail held 1,907 people last week, but Fenty administration officials said they do not want to be locked into the consultant's number.




Shiloh Baptist Church's Gentrification Forum: On Saturday, October 13, 2007, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Shiloh Baptist Church Family Life Center, 9TH & NW, will host a forum to address the sensitive, yet significant issue of gentrification. Presenter: Margaret Simms, Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute and Former Interim President of the Joint Center For Economic and Political Studies. A community panel – for and against gentrification – will follow Dr. Simms' presentation. Finally, we will hear from participant about possible next steps.


THE STAND UP FOR DEMOCRACY in DC Coalition will observe its 10th anniversary as an advocate for full democratic rights for DC residents at a gala celebration, fundraiser and historic overview of the DC full democracy movement on Friday, Oct. 19, 6-9 p.m. The event, to be held at the historic Carnegie Library, 801 K Street NW (Mount Vernon Square Metro) will commemorate the past decade in the struggle for full democratic rights and statehood for the District since the coalition's founding on July 31, 1997. Speaking at the event will be founders of Stand Up and other leaders of the DC democracy movement. The event will include the presenting of awards to heroes of the movement, as well as food, drink and entertainment.


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