- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 6, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If you want to see what the chairman of the D.C. Council is up to, your best bet is to tweet, email or reach his office the old-fashioned way because his Web domain name expired on Saturday.

That’s right.

After making a kind of a big whoop-de-doo about the launch of the council’s newly redesigned dccouncil.us website, a photo of a smiling Kwame R. Brown now sits atop a link that leads visitors to a landing page, dccouncilchair.com, that says “NOTICE: This Domain name expired on 11/05/2011 and is pending renewal or deletion.”

This after the chairman proclaimed that “we spent the last four months putting [the redesigned council site] together.”

I happened upon Mr. Brown’s embarrassing error early Sunday morning, when, with a mug of java in hand, I popped over to dccouncil.us as usual. (Fortunately, my mug was half-empty when I jolted at the “NOTICE.”)

Mr. Brown is no techno-geek, but unless he wants to become a spokesman for a furniture-repair business located in Maryland, which his former domain site now promotes, he’d better take another gander at the work done by the web techies.

In his announcement last month, Mr. Brown said he hoped “you will be pleased” with the new website.

Well, I can’t imagine Mr. Brown is pleased that his domain name has been hijacked, but perhaps that’s the price he has to pay for trying to “fix” something that wasn’t even broken.

Speaking of taxpayer money: The family of slain Catholic University student Neil Godleski filed a $20 million lawsuit last week saying the city was responsible for his death last year.

The civil culprit, the suit says, is the embattled D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Service’s failure to properly supervise a youth named Eric Foreman, who is now the 16-year-old murder suspect in the case.

Citing a 2010 series of investigative articles published in The Washington Times, the suit says DYRS allowed Foreman “to evade supervision and detention.”

The Times stories noted that Dupree House, the group home in Northwest to which Foreman was committed, had several serious problems, including escapes and unusual incidents.

The suit brings to light the gentle hand with which Mr. Brown, his council colleagues and Mayor Vincent C. Gray routinely mock justice.

Theoretically speaking: D.C. school authorities, like their counterparts elsewhere, require graduates of D.C. public schools to fulfill a community-service component before qualifying for a high school diploma.

But D.C. gets an “F” when it comes to practicing what it preaches.

The city should routinely be marrying delinquents and other young to activities that promote lending a helping hand.

Graffiti cleanups are a perfect place to start, since youths and young adults are responsible for much gang-related tagging and other unlawful markings around the city.

It’s difficult to find empirical data that says schoolhouse policies, such as mandatory community service, which began surging during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, have led to smarter, more humane students.

But making them responsible for cleaning up their own unlawful “art” works is a far cry better than dipping into the city’s coffers.

Besides, giving back, even when forced to do so, is an act of kindness.

As things now stand, soft-on-crime council members, such as Jim Graham, the Ward 1 lawmaker who oversees the troubled DYRS and brags about the city’s graffiti-blasting program, seemingly prefer to allow youths to run amok and grasp a gun.

Young people should be encouraged to clean up their neighborhoods of graffiti and the stench of public urination before they become juvenile delinquents and hardened criminals.

Giving back is a moral tenet.

But if people aren’t encouraged to lend a hand at a young age, they’ll learn in the slammer that cleaning up behind other criminals is part of the price they pay for breaking the law.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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