Tuesday, November 27



WE HEAR that the Fenty crowd is in negotiations to have Bloomingdale's take over the ML King Library. Where the library would go is uncertain. The scheme - which couldn't be more insulting and emblematic of the effects of gentrification on DC - would replace the first great local tribute to the black civil rights leader with a store catering to white consumerist culture. . . from "I have a dream" to "I want it all."


DC EXAMINER - Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration has more than tripled the number of public employees making $175,000 or more, figures obtained by The Examiner show. As of Oct. 1 at least 25 city employees were making $175,000 or more, finance office and public school records show. Five city employees, including the mayor, make at least $200,000.

At the same time last year, only eight employees were paid $175,000 or more, the records show. There were three employees who made at least $200,000. One of them, former University of the District of Columbia President William L. Pollard, was fired earlier this year but continues to draw his $236,000-plus salary.

The highest-paid official in D.C., schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, is paid $275,000 per year and was given a $41,250 signing bonus. She, in turn, has paid three top aides at least $195,000 per year.

That's only slightly more than Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier, who is paid $191,531 per year. Eric Stanchfield, the executive director of the D.C. retirement board, is paid $193,125 per year. District Council Chair Vincent C. Gray makes $190,000 per year and is followed by Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who is paid $186,600.



BBC - The woman who became the "Voice of the Tube" has been sacked after allegedly criticizing London Underground. Voiceover artist Emma Clarke, 36, is the woman millions of Tube travelers hear warning them to "mind the gap". Ms Clarke, from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, upset her paymasters by allegedly saying she did not use the Tube because it was "dreadful".

LU said it would not be offering her further work but Ms Clarke said she had been "wildly misquoted". She told BBC News: "What I actually said was that traveling in a Tube train would be dreadful for me, listening to my own voice and seeing the haunted faces of commuters being subjected to me telling them to 'mind the gap'.

"I would find it quite an uncomfortable experience in the same way that when I call a company when I'm their on hold voice and it's me saying - please press 2 for accounts - it's a creepy experience to be honest."

Ms Clarke also made a series of spoof announcements on a website promoting her voiceover work. . . . In one announcement, Ms Clarke, a mother of two who has worked for the Underground since 1999, says: "We would like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly." FROM THE SPOOF SITE


NY TIMES - With nearly 2,000 miles of small service streets bisecting blocks from the North Side to the South Side, Chicago is the alley capital of America. In its alleys, city officials say, it has the paved equivalent of five midsize airports. Part of the landscape since the city began, the alleys, mostly home to garbage bins and garages, make for cleaner and less congested main streets. But Chicago's distinction is not without disadvantages: Imagine having a duplicate set of streets, in miniature, to maintain that are prone to flooding and to dumping runoff into a strained sewer system.

What is an old, alley-laden city to do? Chicago has decided to retrofit its alleys with environmentally sustainable road-building materials under its Green Alley initiative, something experts say is among the most ambitious public street makeover plans in the country. In a larger sense, the city is rethinking the way it paves things.

In a green alley, water is allowed to penetrate the soil through the pavement itself, which consists of the relatively new but little-used technology of permeable concrete or porous asphalt. Then the water, filtered through stone beds under the permeable surface layer, recharges the underground water table instead of ending up as polluted runoff in rivers and streams.

Some of that water may even end up back in Lake Michigan, from which Chicago takes a billion gallons a year.

The new pavements are also designed to reflect heat from the sun instead of absorbing it, helping the city stay cool on hot days. They also stay warmer on cold days. The green alleys are given new kinds of lighting that conserve energy and reduce glare, city officials said, and are made with recycled materials.

The city will have completed 46 green alleys by the end of the year, and it has deemed the models so attractive that now every alley it refurbishes will be a green alley.


The number of students who say they've carried a gun to school in D.C. has doubled in the past two years, a new study shows. High school and middle school students at D.C. public schools reported in a new nationally administered survey that they are having sex, using drugs and carrying weapons in greater numbers than when the last survey was taken two years ago. But school officials say that in most cases, this year's numbers remain far better than those that revealed a crisis among the city's students a decade ago. Nearly 58 percent of high schoolers said they had had sexual intercourse, up from 48 percent in 2005. And 31 percent of middle schoolers reported that they had ever had sex, which is 8 percent higher than two years earlier survey. In 1997, however, a whopping 71 percent of high school students and 41 percent of middle school students said they were sexually experienced.

The D.C. Department of Public Works will suspend street cleaning until spring, starting this Friday. That means the no parking restrictions for street cleaning are suspended, and motorists can park along the posted daytime sweep routes without having to move their cars on the signed days.

The police department says that the number of tickets officers have issued to drivers using cell phones without a hands free device has increased for the third straight year. . . Up until October this year, officers gave out 9,484 tickets to drivers who a cell phone in their hand. That's already 13 percent more than the 8,358 issued all of last year.

- Although the number of homicides is already more than last year's 169, that figure was the smallest in the city in 21 years. With 35 days left in the year, this year's pace remains below 2005 and 2004, when the totals were 196 and 198, respectively.


- My main problem with the DCPS governance transition is that there is not, to my knowledge, a program that outlines the goals that are to be met and how and when the new way of being organized to educate the youth is going to meet those goals. Right now it seems that having Ms. Rhee going around telling everyone in no uncertain terms that things are going to change in every nook and cranny of the system including that she will gain all manner of power to implement those changes along with some facilities repair and a recently announced plan for better security is all that the program amounts to.

While I think it's a good thing for everyone in the DCPS to be put on notice that they do not have the same unquestioned security that they once had, it is going too far to move further down a path of privatizing public schools, which I believe is the whole intent of the No Child Left Behind Act. It sets unrealistic, impossible goals and the says that if schools don't meet them they have to put them into somebody else's--charter school, private company or "other". That is simply one more way that we the people are being told that we cannot solve problems unless someone makes a profit from it. That's not true! and that is why I was not in favor of the Mayor's takeover. It bears close watching.


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