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WORDS: Date for MLK memorial words speeding up

- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2012

We pointed out in a story by Tom Howell Jr. last week that the controversial "drum major" quote inscribed on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial had not been changed despite pledges from the National Park Service six months ago to fix it.

Many observers, including poet Maya Angelou, have said the truncated version of the quote etched into granite — "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness" — was a disservice to the civil rights leader.

Harry E. Johnson Sr., president of the foundation that oversaw the memorial's creation, told us he thought the work could be performed between October and mid-January — after the height of the tourist season.

A day after we posted the story Aug. 27, the Associated Press wrote its own version of our report. In that version, Mr. Johnson also told a reporter that the work would be completed after tourist season. But he said the work could be completed in September or October.

A day after that, on Aug. 29, WAMU-FM (88.5) posted its version of our story. Its story quotes Mr. Johnson as saying the full King quote will be re-inscribed in September.

At this rate, with a few more news stories the monument could be fixed by the end of the week.

Your point, Mr. Barry
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and council member Marion Barry engaged in a rare public dispute this month.

The Ward 8 Democrat placed a legislative hold on a contract modification that would have allowed the District to pay $1.3 million for the installation of smart meters in taxicabs instead of forcing drivers to pick up the tab.

Mr. Barry initially said he wanted to make sure D.C. residents performed the installations at local, minority-owned companies. Then he put out a press release that urged Mr. Gray and the D.C. Taxicab Commission to "abide by the law" by waiting for the city's Contract Appeals Board to rule on protests from companies that did not win the meter contract.

On Friday, the appeals board ordered meter installations put on hold while the complaints are resolved.

On Saturday night, Mr. Barry took a victory lap.

"I stand on the right side of the law and in the best interest of our taxi drivers," Mr. Barry said in a gleeful press release.

He wasn't finished.

"It was irresponsible to proceed," he continued.

But our favorite line: "I've been in government a long time and I know how things work."

Foot in mouth in under 140 characters
The best way to smooth over the sudden firing of one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray's Cabinet members is to shoot out an awkward tweet, right? We mean, no one's ever gotten into trouble because of a popular website that lets you instantaneously talk to thousands of people, right?

The person who mans the District's Department of the Environment's Twitter handle certainly knows that, because he or she shot off a missive on Twitter that said "face palm" after the agency's director, Christophe A.G. Tulou, was dismissed by the city administrator Friday.

It had been a quiet afternoon at the John A. Wilson Building. Multiple council offices were locked and dark (lawmakers are in recess), and there was the hum here and there of a maintenance crew doing some work in the chamber's lobby.

But suddenly, the office of City Administrator Allen Y. Lew said it had dismissed Mr. Tulou for a "serious breach of protocol."

The DDOE then tweeted the offending material before deleting it rather quickly. Not quickly enough, though, as several members of the city hall press corps retweeted it out to their own followers.

A council staffer called them out as well, asking, "Really, guys?"

Soon enough, the DDOE tweeter had a little more to say: "Apologies for that tweet. That was unacceptable."

— Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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