It seemed like an odd juxtaposition, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams sitting beside Michael Jordan at the MCI Center news conference. The bow tie next to the earring. His honor and his airness.
But to hear Williams (D) talk about the experience, the mayor has a lot in common with the retired basketball great who is taking over the operations of the Washington Wizards.
Like Jordan, Williams said he heads an organization--the city government--that has been broken in many areas for years. The mayor said he could relate to some of Jordan's comments, such as: "I look forward to turning this thing around. Right now we're an underachieving team."
He said he also liked the way Jordan said he was planning to hold accountable everyone in the Wizards organization: "If everyone is looking over their shoulder making sure their necks don't get chopped off, that's good--you go out and do your job," Jordan said.
Perhaps the biggest impression Jordan left with Williams was the star's explanation of how long it takes to turn around a losing team, the same challenge Williams faces.
"He was saying it took the Chicago Bulls seven years to get up to speed" and win a championship, the mayor said.
The D.C. Board of Elections needs more than 1,500 city residents to work the polls during this busy election year.
The District is holding three elections this year: the primaries for president and D.C. delegate May 2; the primaries for six seats on the D.C. Council on Sept. 12; and the general election Nov. 7.
Workers will be stationed at 140 polling places throughout the District. Pollworkers get a $100 stipend for their time, which includes nearly 15 hours on Election Day and two to three hours on the day before to set up the polling place. Pollworkers must be registered D.C. voters. People interested in helping the city run its elections should contact the Board of Elections at 202-727-4555.
A Warm Welcome
The new leader of the Board of Education also is trying to usher in a new era of cooperation.
The Rev. Robert G. Childs (At Large), elected president of the 11-member board this month, presided over his first public meeting last week--and went out of his way to reach out to D.C. School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and the mayor.
At previous board meetings, Ackerman was relegated to the end of the board's horseshoe-shaped table, and the relationship between the superintendent and the board president was frosty at best.
Now, Ackerman is seated front and center on the dais, to the left of Childs.
"I thought it important she come closer," Childs said. "She has said she wants to work closely with us. It's important for us to show the same sign of cooperation."
Childs also paid a courtesy call on Williams right after the New Year and set up a meeting Monday between the mayor and the school board. That may sound insignificant, but the mayor, who took office a year ago, had never met with the board. And now he is trying to get authority from the D.C. Council to appoint the school board members and to hire, fire and oversee the superintendent.
Childs said he has expressed "reservations about an appointed board" to the mayor. "We both agreed we'd both be open to further discussion," he said.
Staff writer Vanessa Williams contributed to this report.