With former D.C. Board of Education vice president Mirian Saez bound for San Francisco, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) is busy looking for someone to replace her, preferably someone with a background in education, finance or business.
The mayor hopes to make the appointment later this month and is interviewing several candidates who meet those qualifications, sources said. Among them:
* Joseph Sternlieb, deputy director of the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District, co-founder of D.C. Vote, and an outspoken advocate for sidewalks for schoolchildren in his Forest Hills neighborhood;
* Keenan Keller, senior Democratic counsel for the House Committee on the Judiciary and a member of the local school restructuring team at Bancroft Elementary School in Northwest;
* Jerry Hauser, chief operating officer of Teach for America;
* JoAnne Ginsberg, special assistant on education to the chairman of the council's education committee, Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3).
Current board members say they are not getting involved in the mayor's selection process because he has not acted on their recommendations in the past. Still, they couldn't resist offering Williams some advice about the qualifications they believe are most important for Saez's successor.
First off, all agreed that the board needs someone with an even temper who can tread the often fractured fault lines that separate the five elected board members and the four who are appointed by the mayor.
In addition, elected board member William Lockridge (District 4) said he's looking for an appointed member who would be independent of the mayor, someone like Charles R. Lawrence III, who didn't walk in lockstep with Williams. Lockridge noted that Lawrence wasn't reappointed because his votes often went contrary to the mayor's wishes.
"I'd like to see a board member that is going to be fair and vote on the merits of the issue and not with the appointed board members for political reasons," Lockridge said. "We see the appointed board members vote the same most of the time."
Elected member Victor A. Reinoso (District 2) said the board needs "someone who can work with the council. Our relationship with the council is good now, but it's been strained in the past."
Appointed member Carrie L. Thornhill, on the other hand, said she'd like to see Williams appoint someone who actually has a child in the D.C. public school system. "That is one of the missing elements right now," she said.
Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz, who is elected, agreed, saying the parent should also be African American, "because you need a balance."
The board now has five black members, two white members and one Latino member.
Brooking No Interference
Sam Brooks, that ambitious youngster who impressed many D.C. politicos with his performance in last year's at-large council race, is apparently hungry to get back in the game. Outraged by legislation in the U.S. Senate to repeal the District's ban on handguns, Brooks fired off a letter to one of the bill's co-sponsors, Virginia senator George Allen (R), earlier this week, offering suggestions for how Virginia might amend its laws.
"Even though our lack of full voting representation in Congress is a continuing injustice, we at least maintain the fundamentals of self-government upon which our Nation was founded. And, so, your recent actions are hard to understand," Brooks wrote to Allen. "Nevertheless, I am thankful for your input, and I thought I might return the favor. Here are several suggestions for Virginia:
"1) Virginia residents who work in the District -- and who use city services like police, fire, and transportation even though they pay no local income taxes -- should make a voluntary, $1,000 a year payment to the District's general fund.
"2) In an effort to promote good health and, consequently, decrease tobacco production, the state should impose a cigarette tax of $5 per pack.
"3) To conserve Virginia's soil and water supply, the state should mandate that farmers use the no-till farming method. (I found this through a Google search, but it seems like a good idea.)
"I look forward to continuing this dialogue with you," Brooks wrote, in summary. "Or, of course, you could go back to serving the constituents who elected you . . . ."
A Challenge to Yale Grads
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) delivered the keynote speech on May 22 to Yale University graduates. Norton earned master's and law degrees at the university and served on Yale's board of trustees from 1982 to 1988.
After a few remarks for the cause of D.C. voting representation in Congress, Norton challenged the 1,292 graduates to define themselves as the first collegiate generation enrolled after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In Congress, "the stock question for almost four years has been, 'Are we safer than we were on 9/11?' Is that the right question?" Norton said. "Who will ask the harder question? Can we keep our society both open and safe at the same time in an era of global terrorism? Fresh questions by new thinkers may yield better answers. Are you new thinkers?"
Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.