- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2014


This column is going to read like an endorsement in the D.C. race for mayor.

Actually, it is not because that is not a station in my professional life.

At this juncture, with a little more than a month before we hit the polls for the April primaries, allow me this: Washington could use Andy Shallal as its CEO.

The Baghdad-born Mr. Shallal, 58, hasn’t held elected office, like the majority of Democrats in the run for mayor.

He is vested in the city, not merely as a homeowner but also as a father of young children and a business owner.

He is an activist and philanthropist, fighting the good fights on behalf of underprivileged families.

In our interview and during other occasions we’ve chatted, he has railed against warmed-over grits and policies, especially those that have yet to open up dead-end socioeconomic programs that lead to generational welfare. And on education and economic development, he said government “bureaucracy weighs down” new ideas and visions.

“The District needs a new education toolbox,” Mr. Shallal told me on Friday, because the teaching is “stagnant.”

I cited U.S. examples where students are given or already use computers for school, like in and around West Chester, Pa., which uses online teaching and learning, while Mr. Shallal pointed out that the District still follows the desk-and-blackboard model.

“It’s the opposite in other places,” he said. “The kids get the lecture [online] ahead of time, then actually do the homework in class.”

Mr. Shallal, who said that reversing such a student-instructor relationship and the interaction that follows in the classroom would benefit children who “oftentimes don’t have the help when they get home from school.

Economic development and taxes, as you might imagine, are major concerns of Mr. Shallal, a restaurateur who owns Eatonville and Busboys and Poets in the District and nearby Maryland and Virginia.

Planning to open another sit-down spot in the sit-down desert known as East of the River, he has no kind words for red tape but, then again, most businessmen don’t.

So, I asked, why does everything “take so bloody long to be built” in Southeast?

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