District Digest: Absentee woes and mystery patios
This week’s roundup of news in the D.C. area features a strange episode with a patio, a school board member who might not be reappointed for his views on multiculturalism, and the change that absentee ballots can be handed in as late as Election Day due to the Frankenstorm.
Hurricane Sandy’s winds brought down a tree in front of former Georgetown student Samantha Friedman’s (SFS ’05) home Monday, which landed on a car and blocked Cathedral Avenue, according to the Washington Post. But more surprising than the damage was what she discovered when she came home from work Tuesday. The tree was gone, and a table with four stools, which she believes had been made from the fallen tree, was on her porch, complete with cups, saucers, and a teapot.
“Looks like the city of D.C. left us a present when they removed the tree fallen from Sandy’s winds. The table, chairs AND the tea set appeared on my front porch when I got home from work yesterday,” Friedman posted on her blog 26minus5 with a photo of the furniture set.
The furniture is unlikely the work of the Urban Forestry Administration, which oversees tree cleanup in D.C., according to the D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle. They circulated the picture to the staff and no one believed the administration was involved.
“I think our crews are a little bit too busy to be stopping and making tables for people,” Lisle said.
Friedman also emailed the neighborhood’s listserv, but only got offers to buy the furniture. She said that she didn’t feel like it was hers to sell, but that she wishes she knew who built it so he or she could get credit for it.
“It’s a very cute little mystery,” she said.
D.C. Council halts charter school board member’s reappointment
The Council put a hold on a D.C. Charter School Board member’s reappointment after council members discovered articles he wrote challenging multiculturalism in schools. Don Soifer was nominated by Mayor Vincent C. Gray nominated him, and most expected his reappointment.
“The expanding use of such textbooks is a dramatic example of the influence of radical multiculturalists over what is taught in public schools around the country,” Soifer, a board member since 2009, wrote in an article. “These multiculturalists are espousing a conviction that the teaching of history must be liberated from white Eurocentric or Judeo-Christian ‘oppressive’ perspectives.”
He also urged parents “to combat the destructive force that multicultural dogma is exerting on the teaching of American heritage and values.”
In light of the discovery of these writings, council members Kenyan McDuffie and Tommy Wells convinced Chairman Phil Mendelson to delay the vote. The council, which was supposed to vote on the nomination Thursday, released a statement in support of Soifer.
“The members of the D.C. Public Charter School Board stand firmly in support of Mayor Gray’s renomination of Don Soifer to the Board,” said the board in a statement Thursday.
District residents await absentee ballots
District absentee ballots could be delivered by hand or FedEx as late as Election Day, as the D.C. Board of Elections “scrambles” after Hurricane Sandy, during which the District government and public schools were closed, according to the Washington Post.
“Because of the hurricane and the loss of two days because of it, the Board instituted these two options to expedite delivery,” Wesley Williams, spokesman for the elections board, wrote in an e-mail to the Post.
The elections board has also extended early voting on Saturday by two hours because of the storm, closing polling sites at 9 p.m.
Princess Whitfield, president of a voter’s league at the United House of Prayer for All People, requested ballots for herself and 12 other people two months. Four received their ballots Thursday, but the rest have none. Most of these voters are elderly and prefer not to travel on Election Day and one is a college student living outside the city.
“This is voter suppression,” Whitfield said to the Post. “They’re saying, they’re promising to get them to us by Tuesday.”
She decided to fill out a provisional ballot to ensure that she would vote.
Photo of Weeping Willow by the Potomac from Flickr user Glyn Lowe Photoworks through Creative Commons License