After reports that D.C. Council member Jim Graham allegedly “mingled his council role with his service on the Metro board,” the ethics panel unanimously approved a preliminary investigation of his conduct, according to the Washington Post.
An independent report commissioned by Metro said that Graham violated its ethics rules when he attempted to tie the Metro’s plans for a lot on Florida Avenue NW to the city’s lottery contract. The report did not include any evidence that the council member broke any laws.
Graham said he would cooperate fully with the investigation, but questions the need for the investigation.
“All of the essential facts are known,” said Graham. “You have a law firm who spent $800,000 of public funds to uncover every aspect of this. To have another investigation, I don’t know why.”
The new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability will begin with an assessment of whether Graham violated any of the council’s or D.C.’s ethics rules during his tenure on the 2008 Metro Board. A formal investigation will be launched in which he will be able to defend himself to the board if the panel concludes there is “reasonable basis” to these accusations, said Robert J. Spagnoletti, the board’s chairman, to the Post.
Chilean student and protest leader visits D.C.
Camila Vallejo, 24, traveled to Washington to receive a human rights award for a student movement and speak with students in the District, in addition to visiting other campuses in New York and Boston. She was presented the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award.
The student became the symbol of a movement on Chilean college campuses last year, which moved from a protest against high tuition costs to a fight against the free-market policies of the new conservative administration, according to the Washington Post.
“We must recover from the terrible consequences of Pinochet if we want a true democracy,” she said in her acceptance speech, mentioning the widening gap between wealthy and poor students due to the privatization of universities. “In our country, there is no justice, even if we don’t have a dictator anymore.”
According to the Washington Post, leftist and Latin American activists were in attendance, as well as Isabel Letelier, whose husband was an official of Chile’s one-time socialist government. Agents of the Pinochet regime, often characterized as fascist, assassinated him and his assistant, Ronni Moffitt, while he was visiting the District in 1976.
“When I saw these young people marching in the streets of Chile again, I was astounded,” said Letelier, who nominated the movement for the award, according to the Washington Post. “They are so brave, and they bring us so much hope. They represent the ideal that everyone can live together in a truly democratic Chile.”
D.C. deputy mayor for education leaving post for New York
De’Shawn Wright, deputy mayor for education, will leave his D.C. post to serve as New York’s deputy secretary for education in November, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced Thursday.
“De’Shawn is a brilliant educational innovator and a tireless public servant, and our loss is definitely New York’s gain,” Gray said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “He has done a spectacular job serving the children, families and educators of the District of Columbia.”
Wright’s office released a controversial study in January recommending that the city open “more high-performing charters and turning around or closing dozens of low-performing traditional public schools,” according to the Washington Post.
The charter schools, enrolling more than 40 percent of public school students, see continued growth as the closure of traditional public schools continues. According to the Washington Post, community activists oppose this trend, as they fear the “dismantling” of the current school system.
Wright said that his departure and the backlash to his office’s controversial study are unrelated, that the position in New York is a chance “for me to return home to lead education statewide in a place where I started my career.”
Photo from Flickr user afagan