Monday, March 22, 2010
What happened to freedom?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Missing from this [stimulus] legislation is anything more than token support for the long-proven source of most new jobs and new growth in America: entrepreneurs. These are the people who gave us everything -- from Wal-Mart to iPhones, from microprocessors to Twitter -- that is still strong in our economy. Without entrepreneurs, we will never get out of our current predicament.Read the whole thing here.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The turpitude of the subsidy-seekers and handout con artists in Washington should rattle Americans of conscience to their very core. At the most basic level, it’s simply and inexcusably wrong to rip off a dollar from the innocent or the responsible and pass it on to the guilty or the irresponsible. Does it somehow become right if we do it a trillion times? Quite the contrary. It simply becomes a trillion times more wrong if not worse because the sheer magnitude means we can’t dismiss it with the palliative that "it’s only pocket change."
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
By Jeanne McManus
I was born and raised in Washington, and though I live in Bethesda now, I still don't take too kindly to people breezing in from out of town and telling us how to run our lives. Maybe it's because I was vote-deprived for so long. Got that? Maybe it's because I thought it grossly unjust that some Republican congressman like Virginia's Joel T. Broyhill was empowered to tell Washingtonians what our priorities should be, as he opposed home rule for the District. (As you can see, I don't forget. It's kept me in a defensive crouch for a few decades.)
On an even smaller and meaner note, I will confess that when I was deputy sports editor at The Post from 1991 to 1999, I took with glee the phone calls from aggrieved and transplanted New Yorkers complaining that we didn't provide enough coverage of the New York Knicks or Giants. My former boss, George Solomon, will be pained to learn that I would elbow aside other editors to handle such a call, just so that I, in my chirpiest voice, could give the troubled subscriber my solution: "You want more about the Giants? Move back to New York. Bye-bye!"
So many out-of-towners who get stationed, transferred or elected to serve here feel entitled to waltz in and take shots at the way we dress (we wear too much black; women wear sneakers with dress suits), the way we drive (too aggressively and erratically) and, most recently, the way we respond to snow (we like to shut things down).
I speak only for myself when I say that really, honestly, (a) I do wear too much black and (b) I believe in shutting things down on a snowy day. Why? Because (a) it makes me look thin and (b) you don't want me driving in the snow. I'm not very good at it. I don't get much practice. I spent one winter in the mountains of Vermont, and by February I could get up a mountain pass in white-out conditions driving my cheap, rear-wheel-drive Chevy with cinderblocks in the trunk for ballast and retread snow tires on the back wheels. But that was a long time ago. It was an acquired skill that I no longer possess.
"Turn in the direction of the skid," my husband tells me on the few occasions that I venture forth into D.C. snows. This is a man who survived -- even thrived in -- winters in Ithaca and Syracuse, N.Y., Montreal, and Toronto. But his simple rule makes no sense to me. Every time I'm in a skid, I go in several directions. At once. So which way do I turn?
Now comes Barack Obama, newly arrived from Chicago. And I should emphasize that I am most happy to see him and his family here. I welcome them. But after decades of listening to my friend Mike Wilbon, a native Chicagoan, tell me what wimps we are in Washington, I suppose I should have been prepared for President Obama's Chicago bravado. Commander in chief for eight days, he steps right up and pokes fun because Washington-area schools are closed for "some ice." Then he offers this: "When it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things."
Really, now? Well, here's what I can handle that most out-of-towners cannot: I can flawlessly get around any traffic circle in Washington at rush hour. I can deftly navigate the labyrinth known as Rock Creek Parkway after dark when the signs are all but invisible, getting from the Kennedy Center to East-West Highway in minutes. I can negotiate the Mixing Bowl and the Flyover. I can find the Birchmere. I can pick clean a Chesapeake Bay blue crab in three minutes.
And on a larger scale: I was in the streets of Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, during the anthrax attacks that year and during the sniper shootings. And we, all of us, "handled" that.
So welcome to Washington, President Obama. And thanks for the snow advice. I eagerly await August, to see if you can "handle" a Washington summer. Remember: It's not the heat. It's the humidity.
Jeanne McManus retired from The Post in 2005.
© 2009 The Washington Post Company
Friday, January 23, 2009
The unfine print of Mr. Obama's order is that he's allowed room for what might be called a Jack Bauer exception. It creates a committee to study whether the Field Manual techniques are too limiting "when employed by departments or agencies outside the military." The Attorney General, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence-designate Dennis Blair will report back and offer "additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies."
In other words, Mr. Obama's Inaugural line that "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" was itself misrepresenting the choices his predecessor was forced to make. At least President Bush was candid about the practical realities of preventing mass casualties in the U.S.
I have to admit that I fell for the line when he said it.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
"As not whether government is too big or small but whether it works."Strange words from a constitutional law professor who has admitted that the powers of the government are delineated and limited.
"Ask not whether the free market is a force for good or ill but whether its bounty is adequately shared."If a market is truly free then some will necessarily be better of than others. The alternative is communism.
But I guess my main objections to Mr. Obama's comments are in regard to the insults he directed to the past President. No one has been more against the use of torture and other techniques used in the "War on Terror" by the administration but I don't think it's the right time or place to say:
"Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."Here he misunderstands or purposely misleads Americans regarding the motives behind Mr. Bush's actions. He did not make decisions based upon expedience but rather on his view that he was fighting an enemy that did not constitute a sovereign country and therefore who fell outside of the Geneva Conventions. I do not share this view but I think that Mr. Obama has the obligation to frame the debate of ideas in accurate terms.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
President-Elect Barack Obama told us yesterday that he's a "strong proponent" of D.C. voting rights but that "this is just a pure political issue: Can we get it done?"Not exactly how President Lincoln handled questions about slavery.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
See this statement from the Board.
Update 1: I learned last night that the "clarification" that the Washington Post issued regarding their charter story was used by the DCPCSB to defend Tom Nida against the conflict of interest charge. I am extremely proud of this fact, especially in light of the two weeks of extremely hard work it took me to get them to issue it.
Update 2: The Washington Post runs a story today about Attorney General Nickles' decision to drop his investigation. You can see how obviously painful is was for David Fallis and James Grimaldi to write it:
To conduct his inquiry, Nickles sent Nida 18 questions about issues documented in The Post's articles. Nida and the board staff, Nickles said, provided detailed written responses, and he found no need to conduct interviews. "The individuals who had either a direct or indirect conflict of interest appeared to have recused themselves" when it was appropriate to do so, Nickles said.The findings by the Attorney General is a major victory for D.C.'s charter school movement, for Tom Nida, and for right over wrong.
Asked about some specific cases, Nickles characterized them as indirect or beyond the scope of the city's laws. "I don't think the conflict-of-interest rules extend to the situations that you talk about," he said.
He added that he "saw no evidence" that Nida benefited from his actions on the board.
The District's law states, "No public official shall use his or her official position or office to obtain financial gain for himself or herself, any member of his or her household, or any business with which he or she or a member of his or her household is associated."
Nida told The Post in the November interview, which was recorded, that United Bank pays him an annual bonus based partly on any loan business he generates, including from charter school projects. In his written responses to Nickles, Nida said his "bonus determination specifically excludes any business from DC public charter schools."
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Finally, I would ask you to not let Congress take away Opportunity Scholarships for the District of Columbia. They are lifelines for at-risk children, enabling their parents to choose public, private or religious schools that meet their needs. Fortunately, those children have a true champion in Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who is doing a great job turning around D.C. schools.Of course, the President-elect has said he is against them. I wonder if he would say that to the families he might meet over at Sidwell Friends whose kids are there only because of the work of those of us in the school choice movement.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
If you really want to catch Mr. Nida in the act of carrying out his volunteer unpaid position as Board Chair you should have seen him address the parents of Washington Academy on the evening that he had to tell them that he was shutting the place down. He spent a couple of hours being yelled at by folks accusing him of taking their school away from them. Mr. Nida explained why the charter board had really no choice in the matter, the school was failing financially. He then worked in rapid fashion to have one of the best existing charter schools in the city take over the two campuses of the shuttered institution. (William E. Doar, Jr. PCS bid to take over the school but we were turned down in a unanimous vote in favor of Howard Road Academy.)
As I've explained to a Washington Post reporter the D.C. Public Charter School Board has two functions. They support the growth of charters and they hold them accountable for their results. It is important that this body play both of these roles in that one tends to balance out the other. For example, if they were to open too many schools too fast then many would have to be closed when they didn't meet their accountability plan targets.
No one understands or has executed these paired objectives better then Tom Nida. He has supported our school when the evidence was there to stand behind us and he rejected our proposals when he felt that they could harm the kids or the strength of WEDJ. This is the story that should have made the paper.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
There are only a couple of problems with what these reporters wrote. First, by saying that the rent was now so high, they seem to be implying that our school mismanaged our expenses by paying too much to lease our facility. But our rent has always been below the amount the school receives in per student facility payments and we are provided with these dollars so that we can lease space.
Doar's rent was now so high -- $679,000 the first year and then escalating to more than $1 million, records show -- that the school could "probably purchase the facility for what is being paid monthly in lease payments," the charter credit enhancement committee noted in October 2006.
The other thing these reporters got wrong is their comment from the credit enhancement committee that at the amount of rent we pay we could have purchased the building. Believe me if we had the money we would have bought the property immediately. But charter schools are not given a capital fund when they go into business. They are dependent on their per pupil dollars to pay their teachers and to rent space.
This is the problem when you have reporters writing stories about the charter school movement who don't understand the charter school facility issue and have never before covered this topic.
Thankfully, the editors of the Post correctly identify the space problems for charters in an editorial appearing today.
Monday, January 05, 2009
December 14, 2008
Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post
I have been interested for years in your newspaper publishing an in depth article on D.C.’s charter school movement since I believe that the public knows little about how these innovative organizations operate. Your article that appeared was widely off the mark.
In fact, in regard to the school of which I serve as the Board of Directors your reporters got the information entirely wrong. Mr. Nida voted against the William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts opening its high school two years earlier than planned. If he was so interested in making money off the tenant improvements this increase in students would bring then he disguised his true feelings to a degree not known since the days of President Richard Nixon.
Rather than becoming the new Woodward and Bernstein, your reporters completely missed the real story of one school’s attempt to develop 20,000 square feet. Once the charter board, in spite of Mr. Nida’s opposition, agreed to allow us to proceed it took us two years of working day and night to close a $1.6 million construction loan with United Bank, for whom Mr. Nida works. Many times it was difficult to get United to return our calls.
But at least we did obtain a loan through this bank while other lenders would not even consider the idea. Thousands of D.C. children are better off today because United Bank assisted charters in obtaining facilities in which they could learn. This is what your reporters should have uncovered. I guess the good old days are gone.
Mark S. Lerner