The Washington Times - September 28, 2011, 08:28AM

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson says middle schools must focus on lagging literacy rates and address a series of emotional issues undermining student performance, such as sexual promiscuity, safety concerns and the 10 percent of the city’s eighth-graders who have attempted suicide, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times.

An engineering firm tasked with rappelling down the Washington Monument to look for earthquake damage postponed its 555-foot descent Tuesday afternoon because of looming thunderstorms. But not before the crew placed a barrier around the lightning-rod system that spans the peak of the monument and a safety officer for the firm began draping colorful ropes so fellow climbers could dangle safely while they worked. The spectacle unfolded amid low-hanging clouds that blanketed the 126-year-old monument and high above curious onlookers, double-parked satellite news vans and media videographers live-streaming the event, according to The Washington Times.

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A local political activist who is the subject of an inspector general’s investigation centered on improper expenditures was elected head of the District of Columbia’s Ward 5 Democrats on Monday night. Robert Vinson Brannum, accused of using a debit card to spend funds as head of the Fifth District Citizens’ Advisory Council and obstructing efforts to determine how the funds were spent, won handily over the incumbent chairman, reports Luke Rosiak of The Times.

The Metropolitan Police Department is complying with a recent ruling that forces it to pay overtime to officers who worked extra shifts in 2009 as part of Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s signature crime-prevention initiative, All Hands on Deck. The initiative will continue as the department identifies all officers who worked outside their regular tours of duty during two weekends in 2009. Those officers will be given overtime pay for the additional hours, department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said Tuesday, according to The Times.

A former D.C. government employee has been charged in federal court with stealing more than $400,000 from the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, according to court papers. Mary Ayers-Zander was charged Monday with wire fraud in federal court in Washington in a “criminal information,” a type of document that signals a plea deal is near. The accusation arose in the same D.C. tax office that was at the center of a massive $48.1 million embezzlement scam that came to light in 2007, according to The Washington Post.

As a Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2009, Bob McDonnell supported the ouster of Delegate Jeff Frederick from his post as state party chairman. Now, in 2011, Gov. Bob McDonnell, eager for a GOP majority in the Virginia Senate, has given Mr. Frederick his blessing in his battle for Northern Virginia’s 36th Senatorial District against three-term incumbent Democrat Linda T. “Toddy” Puller, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Virginia is withholding $20 million from Northern Virginia transit agencies in an impasse over a seat on Metro’s board of directors. The total will reach $33 million if the stalemate is not resolved by the end of October, according to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which doles out the money. That puts in jeopardy the local bus services and commuter trains that rely on the funds, officials said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, met Maryland Republicans on Tuesday at a breakfast fundraiser in Baltimore. Dozens laid out at least $2,500 to attend the meeting, which marked the beginning of a fundraising swing through the D.C. region. Mr. Perry also drew some surprising endorsements and seemed able to split a Maryland state GOP that many expected would lean heavily toward a more moderate candidate, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to the Baltimore Sun.