Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: You're fired


Photo by Laughing Squid on Flickr.
Taxi Commisioner let go: Taxicab Commission head Leon Swain was fired by Mayor Gray yesterday, leaving headless an agency that seems to be in turmoil even with a leader. Swain was appointed by Adrian Fenty, and personally berated a driver who wouldn't take David to Southwest. (DCist)

Fired teachers maybe fired for good reason?: Though an arbitrator uncovered damning allegations of teacher misconduct in the investigation of firing of 75 DCPS teachers, he still decided the firings were improper since allegations were never presented to those fired. (Examiner)

GOP doesn't get location efficiency: The House GOP thinks all federal offices should be located in cheap, far-flung locations so the government can save money on leases or sell off valuable, central-located land. Nothing like cutting the deficit by forcing people to drive to work on $4/gallon gas. (City Paper)

Developer gives away cars to home buyers: A Chicagoland developer has taken a page from the streetcar suburb developer playbook by offering to subsidize potential homebuyers' transportation. The problem: he's offering to buy them all cars. (Grist)

Good development on 14th Street: PN Hoffman is redeveloping a 5-story building on 14th Street into condos, which will have no parking on-site. The developer may offer buyers free CaBi and ZipCar memberships since the building sits next to the 14th & R CaBi station, and across the street from a ZipCar lot. (UrbanTurf DC)

Fairfax leaders take mode challenge: FABB has invited leaders to take a bike/car/bus challenge on Bike to Work day, testing which mode is faster and cheaper to travel between South Lake High School and Reston Town Center. (WABA)

Students to test SmartTrip IDs: Some DC students will test new combined SmarTrip-Student ID cards. The cards will not set an electronic curfew on the use of subsidized Metro fares, as the WMATA Board considered earlier this year. (Examiner)

Struck pedestrian dies: A woman who was struck by a driver near Rosslyn last week passed away yesterday as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. The driver was charged with reckless driving and may now face more severe charges. (ARLnow)

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 

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@Teachers

I think Rhee had the right idea wanting to revamp the system and remove clearly ineffective teachers, but this is another example of the crazy system that exists in DC. I have no idea how her or any other school administrator thought it was ok to fire teachers without giving them any reason.

If DC had just though things through a little bit first they could have saved themselves 7.5 million./

by Matt R on Apr 28, 2011 8:49 am • linkreport

near Rosslyn? I know you guys don't make it out into the suburbs much, but Quincy st is nowhere near Rosslyn. Rather nearer to Ballston.

by charlie on Apr 28, 2011 8:55 am • linkreport

@Charlie

Ballston/Cherrydale. The one good thing about that bridge is it prevents urbanization of Cherrydale.

by TGEoA on Apr 28, 2011 9:05 am • linkreport

That DCPS article is old and I think was already posted here...

by MLD on Apr 28, 2011 9:09 am • linkreport

I see the Arlington geography lesson has already been covered. Carry on.

by Lou on Apr 28, 2011 9:15 am • linkreport

The Chicagoland development is 50 miles from Chicago... seems like the residents are going to have to drive cars inevitably, regardless of who buys them. The real story is the fact that the developer can't dump the houses. That says a lot more than the fact that he's offering cars as an incentive.

by Rob P on Apr 28, 2011 9:26 am • linkreport

Odds are that Gray wants Swain out so he can install the taxi lobby's preferred choice in the post. Gray's got to repay the taxi drivers for all the support they gave him during the campaign.

Still wondering about GGW's embarrassing endorsement of Gray..

by Phil on Apr 28, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

It's a bad design all around.

People do speed on Quincy. In all honesty, the bike lanes from the bridge to Lee Highway have worked to slow traffic down. I'm not sure if bikers like to know they are being used as lawn furniture.

However, on the bridge itself, and to Washington Blvd, the bike lanes are a mess and aren't helping.

It was a 19 year old with a pickup driving. Probably speeding. From the original ARLnow discussion, I have to assume the pedestrian was in the bike lane or crossing -- I don't see how a pickup truck could jump those 3 inch curbs.

So, if I buy a 500,000 condo, the developer will give me a free Cabi membership, worth a total of $75? Wow. I hope he throws in a clock radio as well.

by charlie on Apr 28, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

Still wondering about GGW's embarrassing endorsement of Gray..

Makes you wonder. The staff of the Fenty administration did a pretty good job, took David's side when necessary and got rid of a bunch of incompetent teachers. Now with the Gray administration, the people who did a good job for David personally are getting fired and we're rehiring incompetents with back pay in the school system.

by JustMe on Apr 28, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

@charlie

It was an inexperienced driver. He was driving with only a learners permit -- without a licensed driver in the car.

by TGEoA on Apr 28, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

I too would like to hear more about the story behind Swain's firing. A lot if journalists seem to imply that it was a long time coming. But I got the sense that Swain was pretty good and he sure came off well in the whole bribery scandal (he immediately reported it and wore a wire). Gray definitely "owes" cab drivers, but I really don't know if the commission was "for" or "against" the cabbies. Regardless, you know now that a pawn of the cabbies will be put in. Don't expect any improvement tithe quality or affordableness of cabs as long as Gray is mayor.

by TM on Apr 28, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

Oh boy, here we go again. The PUMA's never die.

"The Fenty administration did a pretty good job, took David's side when necessary and got rid of a bunch of incompetent teachers. Now..the people who did a good job for David personally are getting fired and we're rehiring incompetents with back pay in the school system.

And we think the birthers are detached from reality. Geez!

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

@charlie
I have to assume the pedestrian was in the bike lane or crossing -- I don't see how a pickup truck could jump those 3 inch curbs.

Seriously? A 3-inch curb is not much of an obstacle especially for a truck. Not difficult to imagine at all, unless you're just trying to find a way to blame the victim.

by MLD on Apr 28, 2011 10:23 am • linkreport

@HogWash,

You actually did not rebute the statement you quoted.

by cmc on Apr 28, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

It's not surprising Swain was fired. Likely largely because he IS a stand-up guy. He's also a former MPD officer [who, on an unrelated note, was assigned to Reagan's presidential detail on the day of his assassination attempt in '81]. At this point he has ratted out at least one elected official's staff member. My guess is that made the Gray administration nervous.

by ontarioroader on Apr 28, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

CMCYou actually did not rebute the statement you quoted.

I didn't think a rebuttal was necessary since the logic was just as twisted as the birthers and you pretty much captured the distorted logic in your response which is likened to, "Well that doesn't mean the birth certificate wasn't photoshopped."

I honestly don't believe that sort of logic deserves rebuttal.

But I'll indulge anyway,
Fenty was a marginal mayor
Can't speak to what he did for David.
He got rid of incompetent teachers.
Don't know who personally did something for David and later fired. (not even sure of the point here)

Was that an adequate rebuttal?

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

@ontarioroader:

I've also heard that Swain was one of the most stand-up guys in DC public service. I'm really curious why he was fired.
Not a good sign of things to come; he's exactly the sort of person we need in government.

Oh, well. We'll always have "faith in our ideas".

[Sorry DavidA, couldn't resist].

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 11:34 am • linkreport

Here's from the link to the "teachers fired" piece. Classic stuff, btw:


**Inside eight dismissals**

Why principals said teachers deserved to be fired:

o Skipped meetings, violated professional protocols with principal, sent mass e-mails rebuking her supervisors to entire school staff.

o Poor classroom managament skills, AWOL from school since May 5, 2008 (recommendations were due June 13)

o Couldn't manage classroom, didn't follow lesson plans, ignored suggestions for improvement

o "Rude and aggressive demeanor" required principal to bring in two teaching assistants to help students

o Lesson plans "sketchy or non-existent," did nothing to improve high student failure rate

o 24 tardies and 20 absences following a sick leave, mostly call-ins on Mondays and Fridays

o Played DVDs and religious gospel songs during class, students say he told them to go to "H-E-L-L"

o Could not manage his students even after moving difficult students to another class and bringing

So *all* of these teachers are being reinstated--with back pay. Buy y'know, nothing wrong with that system. And anyone who wants to actually bring any accountability to the system is obviously a right-wing hack who hates unions.

My kid's in DCPS, and the thought of them ending up with one of these teachers makes me want to put my head through a fucking wall. Pardon my French. Just want to thank WTU's membership for pressuring their union's leadership to police it's own. Heckuva job, guys!

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

A little history, for decades, the taxi commission has been nothing more than a rubber stamp for the taxi mafia. The rules guaranteed that nothing new could be done (remember the maps?)

Fenty put more power into the mayors office and Swain did a fair job of saying no to the cab drivers. For that cabbies despise him. Gray owes them big. The next commissioner will be pro taxi driver and anti consumer.

by blogo on Apr 28, 2011 11:51 am • linkreport

@HogWash

Thanks. I'm all for a good debate, I just didn't see the need to attack his "logic" without providing some of your own.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure JustMe is referencing the second article in the first paragraph where Swain forced the cab driver to follow the law and drive David to Southeast. I suppose Swain could have easily logged the complaint and called it a day, so his swift action is surprising. But I can't say I know much about the man to make an appropriate judgment of his character.

by cmc on Apr 28, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

@charlie

I run down Quincy to get to the Custis Trail, so I've been over the bridge since the accident happened. From the markings on the bridge that I assume are from the accident, it looked like the truck got up on the curb by means of the pedestrian curb cut just before the bridge starts, which is level with the street. I don't think the truck was even on the sidewalk for more than 10 feet before it swerved, but I think this poor woman was on that part of the sidewalk.

by Eric on Apr 28, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

If the kid was driving with a learner's permit and no licensed driver present, I hope there is some outfall to the parents. Someone let him have the keys.

by ksu499 on Apr 28, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

A while back I was going back and forth over sales taxes on food with a few people here.

The Wall Street Journal had a great story today about how the taxing authority decides what "food" is.

by WRD on Apr 28, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

Though an arbitrator uncovered damning allegations of teacher misconduct in the investigation of firing of 75 DCPS teachers, he still decided the firings were improper since allegations were never presented to those fired...

Maybe someone with more knowledge of the situation could help out here, but you often hear that "all you have to do is follow the rules" when firing teachers. But we know that in the 3-4 years previous to Michelle Rhee's tenure, the number of teachers fired for cause was effectively zero.

So... I guess my question is, what's behind DCPS not "presenting the allegations to those fired". What's involved in that? Why wouldn't they just do that?

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 12:48 pm • linkreport

Oboe: those problems are not limited to DCPS, but are in a lot of school districts (even Montgomery). Which is why a lot of people are interested in how this works out DC, and why Congress wants to stick its nose in the issue.

by SJE on Apr 28, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

It just seems a bit too "neat" to me. You have these 75 extremely high-profile firings, and they come back a year later from arbitration with the dismissal "you never presented the teachers with the allegations." I mean, is this like a subpoena or something? Did the teachers hole up in a "safe house" to avoid being "presented"?

It just smells fishy.

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

@CMC, I get your point. However since I don't know JusMe personally, the only thing I can really criticize (and stay w/in GGW bounds) is to attack the logic. Going after logic of others tends to be the norm for GGW. Notice how people keep attacking the "logic" of DAl supporting Gray? IMO, my response is no different. I still not sure what logic I could provide other than my rebuttal (of sorts).

Oboe But we know that in the 3-4 years previous to Michelle Rhee's tenure, the number of teachers fired for cause was effectively zero.
@Kind sir, are you sure about that?

According to the Post report, City Strives to Fill Teaching Positions, Janey, (often accused of doing nothing for DCPS) dimissed 370 teachers.

And also when Janey wanted to fire 1100 uncertified teachers it was Kaya Henderson who persuaded him otherwise.

And when he complained that 25-40% of principles weren't of caliber and subsequently fired some, those Firings were criticized as improper

Hopefully I've embedded the links correctly but I am often shocked by the cognitive dissonance of many Rheeformers and Fenty supporters.

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 2:50 pm • linkreport

@HogWash:

Okay, I see where you're coming from, but the linked story was in regard to 370 *uncertified* teachers. These teachers were fired because they failed to meet the minimum certification for teaching in DC. The article claims they were hired contingent on their completing some basic coursework.

These teachers were *not* fired because the were incompetent, or abusive, or didn't bother with lesson plans or showing up for work.

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

@HogWash:

Just to clarify, this is like firing cab drivers because it turns out they never got their driver's licenses, not because they cheated, got into fights with, or sexually abused their fares.

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

@Oboe, aren't you moving the goal post?

You posited that in the 3-4 years preceding Rhee, effectively ZERO teachers were fired for just cause.

Why doesn't being "uncertified" fall under just cause?

But I do wonder where you derived your information regarding your claim? I ask because it is the common meme found among this group of Rheeformers who seem content on rewriting history.

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

Oh my goodness, well to that point, how many teachers did Rhee fire for being abusive, fighting and cheating?

This rationale seems a bit odd here.

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 3:27 pm • linkreport

Sorry if it looks like I was moving the goalposts. By "just cause" I meant because of issues related to teaching performance: for their performance as teachers. *Not* for administrative issues unrelated to performance.

"Just cause" was a stupid phrase, since it implies "for any legitimate reason".

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 3:51 pm • linkreport

@HogWash,

Although I think you and I both know the cabbie example was what's commonly referred to as a "simile", Rhee fired at least one teacher for fucking their student.

Most of them were just fired for not showing up, being verbally abusive, or not ever preparing a lesson plan.

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 3:55 pm • linkreport

Ever since HogWash chimed in to ask whether the "cupcake deserts" post on April Fool's Day was a joke or not and then started criticizing the concept of food deserts, I simply concluded that he's not a very attentive reader.

by JustMe on Apr 28, 2011 4:20 pm • linkreport

In case anyone is interested, Brookings is putting on an event called "Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America" on Thursday May 12 from 9:30am-12:15pm.

by WRD on Apr 28, 2011 4:30 pm • linkreport

@Oboe, hey man, I responded to what your suggestion but still don't understand the point you are making since you have provided no evidence to back up your claim that no teachers were fired for "teacher performance" in the years preceding Rhee. I see this as part of the fairytale pushed by Rheeformers. I just wish WE would STOP playing footsy with the facts simply to make our arguments stronger. In other words, we need to stop lying. We really, really do. It's not helpful and is intellectually dishonest to do so.

@JustMe, I apologize for not having the intelligence (unlike you smart people) to know that an April's fool's joke..was a joke. And I think you are being dishonest in asserting that I "criticized" the concept of food deserts. In fact, I know that you are.

Again, intellectual dishonesty should not be practiced.

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 4:50 pm • linkreport

@Oboe, hey man, I responded to what your suggestion but still don't understand the point you are making since you have provided no evidence to back up your claim that no teachers were fired for "teacher performance" in the years preceding Rhee. I see this as part of the fairytale pushed by Rheeformers. I just wish WE would STOP playing footsy with the facts simply to make our arguments stronger. In other words, we need to stop lying. We really, really do. It's not helpful and is intellectually dishonest to do so.

Just very shortly, in the year preceding Rhee, not a single teacher was fired for performance issues. Your link doesn't refute that. If you have evidence that a single teacher was fired for poor performance, you can send me a link. I'm more than willing to be proven wrong.

That a bunch were fired (apparently over a whole lot of protest) because they failed to meet the simplest licensing requirements doesn't cut it.

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 4:56 pm • linkreport

Your link doesn't refute that. If you have evidence that a single teacher was fired for poor performance, you can send me a link. I'm more than willing to be proven wrong.

You're right, I don't have that link and can't provide it. But, since you posited the initial line, can you post the link backing up your assertion that none were fired?

It has already become circular in that I responded to you, then you clarified, then asking me for evidence you failed to provide yourself. It would seem that if you did, you would have posted it.

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 5:05 pm • linkreport

Oh wait, you say that in the "year preceding Rhee" none were fired. So you're no longer referring to the 3-4 years you initially stated?

Goal Post

Kick

by HogWash on Apr 28, 2011 5:06 pm • linkreport

Talking of teacher firings, did you hear todays story about the DCPS teacher who fathered a child with a student, that other teachers at the school apparently did nothing to stop him and that he had a history of innappropriate sexualized behavior with students in different jurisdictions over decades?

When Rhee said that someone was fired for having sex with their students, there was an outcry that there was no evidence for this accusation. What does WTU say now?

by SJE on Apr 28, 2011 9:12 pm • linkreport

Oh wait, you say that in the "year preceding Rhee" none were fired. So you're no longer referring to the 3-4 years you initially stated?

Until I get further numbers from you, I'll assume the trendline was flat. Can you provide a single example of a DCPS teacher who was fired for performance reasons before Rhee? At least during the period between, say, 1970-2007?

Mass murderer or child rapist perhaps?

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 9:17 pm • linkreport

LOL, Ok oboe. At this point I think it's pretty clear you are only being argumentative.

First you said no one was fired. I provided evidence otherwise. Then you claim to have meant something else.
Now you've moved from 3-4 to effectively no one was fired for "performance issues" during a 37-year period. Not knowing anything about you other than your screen name and postings, I know you don't believe that. You can't.

I get it. Really I do. Your claim was so impossible that you just have to be right. I don't know how to prove who DCPS did/n't fire other than what is reported. I do know my opinion is surely more in sync w/the truth.

That is unless you also believe, after seeing the short-form official birth certificate, you think the long-form is a fake? Maybe move on to transcripts too? By George it's the logic. It's the logic!

by HogWash on Apr 29, 2011 9:38 am • linkreport

@HogWash, oboe

The articles are out there if you just search for DC public schools fired:
http://goo.gl/KtpZD

But HogWash, I think you need to do some research and accept the fact that before the newest teacher contract, firing someone for just straight up being a bad teacher was nearly impossible. Mountains of paperwork, filings, hearings, etc just made it not worth it for anyone. They managed to fire the person in that article because there were criminal charges.

by MLD on Apr 29, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

LOL, Ok oboe. At this point I think it's pretty clear you are only being argumentative.

Ok, you got me. My fingers wrote a check Google couldn't cover. But, surprise, I still think I'm more correct in the particulars than you are. In order to uncover the fact that DCPS hadn't fired anyone for performance in the year previous to Rhee, the central office had to manually dig through the data.

Given the process required to fire a DCPS teacher for cause (pre-IMPACT) in the absence of any data to the contrary, it's reasonable to assume the number of teachers fired previous to that was "effectively zero". I'd love to see data to the contrary, though.

Here's the sad, but entertaining pre-IMPACT process for termination:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/special/2007/Bfeature0223.pdf

by oboe on Apr 29, 2011 9:58 am • linkreport

@HogWash:

we know that in the 3-4 years previous to Michelle Rhee's tenure, the number of teachers fired for cause was effectively zero.

While I'm in a self-critical mood, I'll point out that they're called "weasel words" for a reason.

by oboe on Apr 29, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

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