- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 10, 2011

From fast-track hirings to campaign finance irregularities to one-too-many erasures on standardized tests, various D.C. officials — or at least the folks they oversee — have come under scrutiny by federal inspectors.

But no worries. While most people don’t like having eyes over their shoulders, city officials found the perfect tactic: Just own it.

First, Mayor Vincent C. Gray called for an investigation into his transition team’s hiring practices, including claims he paid and promised a job to a minor mayoral candidate who bashed incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. When the topic comes up, Mr. Gray, a Democrat, reminds reporters of the number of times he has reminded them that he called for the inquiry.

On Thursday, an attorney for D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown asked an elections board to fast-track a campaign finance complaint against Mr. Brown’s 2008 re-election committee to the U.S. attorney. The board did so, but only after finding “apparent violations” by Mr. Brown’s team. In response, Mr. Brown, a Democrat, said he welcomed the investigation and is “looking forward to moving forward.”

And on Friday, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson was fine with news the Department of Education is lending a hand to the D.C. inspector general investigating suspected cheating during standardized testing in 2009.

“I think that is a huge step in ensuring that we have a thorough and serious investigation,” Ms. Henderson said, noting the federal agency has the “depth and breadth” of experience to take on the task.

Um, can I leave my seat?

Shortly before Vincent C. Gray took to the podium on Friday to announce standardized test scores for D.C. students, one of his staffers had a polite request for people in attendance at the Safe Shores Child Advocacy Center in Northwest.

While they should avail themselves of the restroom next door, they should not wander elsewhere in the building. The request was made to protect the confidentiality of children who enter and leave the facility, a safe harbor from neglect and abuse.

Moments later, the mayor praised the work of the center and recent efforts to bring it from blight status to a sparkling facility.

“If you get a chance,” he told the crowd, “take the opportunity to walk around this building.”

Move over Nancy Grace

You can add Maryland Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs to the list of people outraged by the acquittal last week of Casey Anthony on murder charges.

Mrs. Jacobs, Harford Republican, expressed her disapproval in the days following the verdict, joining such noted legal analysts as, ahem, Kim Kardashian and Ralph Macchio. But while they took their anger to Twitter, Mrs. Jacobs promised to do something about the perceived injustice, announcing plans to introduce legislation that would make it a felony in Maryland for a parent to not report the death of their child.

“People are saying to me, ‘Good grief, that woman’s as guilty as can be, and they’re not doing anything,’ ” Mrs. Jacobs told the Baltimore Sun.

Ms. Anthony, of Florida, was found not guilty of first-degree murder, but convicted on misdemeanor charges of providing false information to police in the 2008 disappearance and death of 2-year-old daughter Caylee, which Ms. Anthony did not report until a month later. She initially told investigators the child was missing but later said she drowned in the family swimming pool.

First Round: McDonnell 0, France 1

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to bring French business back to the commonwealth, but things seemed to be working the other way around last month.

The governor jaunted across the Atlantic for an overnight stay in Paris to watch the air show and advertise Virginia business. More than a dozen state legislators tooled around, touring a nuclear plant on the dime of a company seeking to develop uranium in southern Virginia. And the Virginia Tobacco Commission director and two more state lawmakers enjoyed a state-funded trip, saying they were recruiting business to economically depressed areas of Virginia.

How do they score on making Virginia a better place? The jury is still out. But when it comes to supporting France’s tourism industry, they definitely deserve an A-plus.

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