- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 20, 2011

Commuter friendly?

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart says the District isn’t friendly enough to commuters. Discussing slug lines with reporter Mark Seagraves on WTOP’s “Ask the Executive” program last week, Mr. Stewart boldly declared that big companies are leaving the city because of its hostility to out-of-town workers.

“That is something that I would like to talk about with the mayor because the reality is that businesses are moving out of Washington, D.C., precisely because of some of these issues,” he said. “It’s a bad thing, it’s a loss, for D.C. So D.C. would be wise to be a little bit more friendly toward those of us who come there to work every day.”

Not that we question his concerns for his commuting constituents, but Mr. Stewart — who is strongly considering running for the Republican nomination for retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb‘s seat — kind of sounds like a guy who thinks he might soon have a job in the city himself.

Chancellor Mom

Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee was profiled last week on NBC’s “Today” show. During one exchange in the five-minute segment, Ms. Rhee recounted how she justified to her daughter firing the principal of the girl’s school in 2008.

“I said to my daughter, ‘Do you think that your principal is a great principal?’ She said, ‘Well she’s OK.’ And I said, ‘Don’t you think you and the other kids deserve better than OK? Don’t you think you deserve the best?’ She said, ‘Yes, I do.’”

Maybe she should have used that approach last year instead of famously telling Fast Company magazine after she fired 266 teachers that she “got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school.”

We’re just sayin’.

State of the District

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has posted a public service announcement on YouTube advertising his upcoming State of the District address.

The 40-second video — a handful of D.C.-themed still photos dissolving over an oddly foreboding new-age musical track — invites residents to the March 28 address at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The “program,” which begins at 6:45 p.m., marks a return to prime time for the annual speech. Former mayor Adrian M. Fenty delivered the address during the daytime at community centers and elder-care facilities around the city.

Former mayor Anthony A. Williams routinely delivered the address from the stage of the historic Lincoln Theatre on U Street in Northwest — but his last two years in office he spoke to an invitation-only crowd.

Generally an opportunity for the mayor to roll out fresh, reassuring statistics and proposals unencumbered by details, the speech is often noteworthy for what’s left unsaid.

For example, in 2009 Mr. Fenty left unmentioned questions about an unannounced trip to Dubai paid for by the government of the United Arab Emirates. Likewise, in 2004 Mr. Williams did not acknowledge the demonstrators outside the building in the midst of an unsuccessful effort to recall him.

March 28 is the same day D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh has scheduled a hearing of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment to discuss the “executive’s personnel practices.”

Activist and Peaceoholics founder Ron Moten has already announced plans to hold a State of the District “rebuttal” across the street from the convention center at Bar 7 after Mr. Gray’s address.

So this year’s event should be as memorable.

Who’s up next?

Ever wonder who runs the District when the mayor and the city administrator are off at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual spring convention in Las Vegas or some such event?

One might think it was one of the high-priced senior staffers with the words “deputy mayor” in their title. But according to a Feb. 9 mayor’s order, it was Mr. Gray’s chief of staff who would take charge in the event the mayor and City Administrator Allen Lew were absent or disabled.

Not to worry. The abrupt departure last week of Gerri Mason Hall from that position is not likely to thrust the District into a succession crisis. Presumably interim Chief of Staff Paul A. Quander Jr. will be the next person to step in. So where was Mr. Quander on the depth chart before last week? As deputy mayor for public safety and justice, he was one step below Ms. Hall.

Working for the people

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, on Friday hosted more than 100 constituents at a Farmers and Growers Town Hall meeting in Frederick County on Friday. The goal was to provide farmers and growers with up-to-date information and early season protocols for combating halyomorpha halys, commonly known as the stink bug.

“Thus far we cant control it,” the Republican congressman said.

After the creepy little predators chewed their way through mid-Atlantic farms and orchards last year they launched a horrifying late-summer infestation of homes, cars and businesses that some say will be at least as bad this year.

So it’s good to see someone in Congress has their priorities in the right places.

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