D.C. Council Member Jim Graham Proposes Renaming Girard Park for President Obama

By Tim Craig and Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) introduced a resolution this week to rename Girard Park in Columbia Heights Barack Hussein Obama Park.

The recently renovated park, at 14th and Girard streets NW, features a basketball court and play equipment.

"The park is a jewel," Graham said. "I think the overwhelming point of view that has been expressed is that the park should be renamed in honor of our president."

But it might be harder than Graham thinks to rename the park. It's against the law.

According to the D.C. Code, "no public space in the District shall be named in honor of any living person, or in honor of any person who has been deceased less than 2 years, unless the deceased person was a President or Vice President of the United States, a United States Senator or Representative, a Mayor of the District of Columbia, or a member of the Council of the District of Columbia."

Because Obama is alive, the council would have to change the law before it could move forward on Graham's resolution.

If the council approved the resolution, the park would be the first D.C. facility or asset to be named in honor of Obama. Last month, the Prince George's County school board voted unanimously to name a new school in Upper Marlboro Barack Obama Elementary.

In recognizing Columbia Heights's diversity, Graham emphasized that Obama's middle name be included in the park's name. (During the presidential campaign, Obama shied away from highlighting his middle name, but he used it when he was sworn in to office).

Graham said he hopes Obama will visit the park if it gets renamed in his honor.

"It has a great basketball court," Graham said. "Hopefully the new president will use it."

Test Preview Doesn't Pay Off

An unspecified number of students at a District school have had their DC-CAS test scores invalidated because they apparently got an advance look at the test, according to a June 18 letter from Kerri L. Briggs, acting state superintendent of education.

The letter, from which all names and other details have been redacted, says multiple school staff members were dismissed after an investigation. The document appears as a public notice of a "test security violation" on the "Assessment and Accountability" page of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education's Web site.

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