- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2006

D.C. Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty yesterday said the biggest concerns in the city are public schools and affordable housing.

“You can’t even really believe the problems [in schools] you see,” Mr. Fenty said during the Russ Parr Morning Show on WKYS (93.9 FM). “There’s got to be much more of a sense of urgency around education for the next four years.”

During the roughly 35-minute show, Mr. Fenty proposed ways to improve the housing and school situations and fielded calls from D.C. residents, including two seniors at the School Without Walls in Northwest.

When asked about violence inside the District’s schools, Mr. Fenty said city officials have to do a better job of managing school security, which he called “a joke.”

The Metropolitan Police Department oversees the school-security contract — a two-year, $30 million agreement awarded last year to Hawk One Security Inc.

Mr. Fenty also said city officials have to create a culture in which students would rather bring textbooks than weapons to class.

“When you create that climate and that environment, people won’t even think about bringing a gun to school or bringing a knife to school,” he said.

The District’s public-school system has been plagued by crumbling facilities, failing test scores and violence.

In 2004, a football star at Ballou High School in Southeast was fatally shot by another student. In September, a 15-year-old student was shot in the leg outside Cardozo Senior High School in Northwest. Last month, the principal of Eastern Senior High School in Northeast and a student were arrested after a fight inside the building.

Mr. Fenty did not mention his possible plan to take over the school system. If a such a takeover occurs, it likely will relegate the District’s Board of Education to an advisory role.

Mr. Fenty, 35, also said the lack of affordable housing can be resolved by creating government incentives for developers to build such units.

“The government’s inability to plan to build affordable housing has just left the market with complete control of what’s going on,” he said. “If you leave it to the private sector, they’re going to maximize their profit, that’s what they do.”

Mr. Fenty also fielded questions about customer service at the Department of Motor Vehicles and reforming the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

He said he’ll bring in Andrew A. Adelman, the director of building permits in Los Angeles, who has streamlined that city’s permit-application process by placing it on the Internet.

Also yesterday, Mr. Fenty announced two appointments in his administration.

Linda Singer, executive director of the nonprofit legal advocacy organization Appleseed, will serve as the District’s new attorney general. Mrs. Singer, a Harvard law school graduate and former staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City, will replace Robert J. Spagnoletti.

Mr. Fenty also named Peter J. Nickles, a senior litigation partner at the D.C. law firm Covington & Burling LLP, as general counsel to the mayor.

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