- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2012

The District’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services took to Twitter last week with an announcement.

“No DYRS youth charged w/homicide in 2012 so far,” the agency said.

To put the tweet in context, it comes after we reported in 2010 that a year’s worth of homicide data indicated that one in five homicides in the city included a DYRS ward as either a victim or a suspect.

We reported last year that the agency’s own figures said that more than 50 committed youths either had been killed or found guilty of killing someone else over the previous five years.

So it makes sense that the agency would want to trumpet a piece of good news.

What some might question was the hashtag that followed: “#progress.”

For an agency that’s mission is to rehabilitate thousands of juvenile offenders, who in recent years have contributed to an epidemic of youth violence on city streets, the notion that no one in their custody has been charged with murder could be construed as a pretty low bar to claim progress.

Prenatal education?

If putting kids in a school-like setting as young as 6 weeks old sounds intense, how about giving them a little schooling before they’re even born?

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray wouldn’t mind. In fact, on more than one occasion, he’s said he’d put a fetus in an educational program if he could.

In fact the opening of Educare, an early childhood education facility in Ward 7, on Thursday had an obvious prenatal theme to it.

When Mr. Gray arrived at the state-of-the-art facility, a reporter from The Washington Times asked, jokingly, “Is this where the fetuses go to school?”

“I’m gonna mention that!” he beamed.

Indeed, he told a crowded reception room that fetuses would be evaluated up the road at a new health clinic in Kenilworth-Parkside; then they’d come down the street to Educare and then attend Neval Thomas Elementary School next door.

Educare’s executive director, Carol Howard, jumped on the bandwagon, too. In her opening remarks, she quipped the construction and unveiling of the facility was like birthing a baby.

New perspective

Senate candidate Tim Kaine took to the skies of southwest Virginia in his latest ad touting his energy policy vision with a coal-fired power plant as the backdrop — but the campaign of his opponent, Republican George Allen, immediately tried to bring him back down to earth.

Mr. Kaine mentions the new Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County as evidence of his support for the state’s coal industry and has touted an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that supports clean coal, offshore energy, natural gas and emerging clean energy technologies.

“As governor, I supported its construction,” the Democrat says of the plant. “I also support offshore energy, conservation and innovative investments in wind and solar, which together employ more than 66,000 Virginians. That’s what I call unleashing our energy potential.”

The last comment is an apparent tweak at Mr. Allen, who speaks frequently on the stump about the need to “unleash” the United States’ energy resources.

Mr. Allen frequently chides the Obama administration for its regulations on coal-fired power plants and its refusal to open up the area off Virginia’s shores for offshore oil and natural gas exploration. Mr. Allen also says consistently that on his first day in office, he would introduce a bill to allow Virginia to explore for oil and natural gas off its coast, with the state’s share of royalties going toward roads and transportation.

In fact, Mr. Allen’s campaign argued that the Wise County plant could not even be opened under current regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Tim Kaine’s new television ad says he’s proud of the Virginia Hybrid Energy Center coal-fired power plant,” Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith said. “It’s too bad that President Obama’s new regulations won’t allow anyone else to build one.”

Tom Howell Jr. and David Sherfinski contributed to this report

• Matthew Cella can be reached at mcella@washingtontimes.com.

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