Many City Schools Still Lack Books

D.C. Auditor to Examine Chronic Shortages

Three months into the school year, many D.C. public school students still do not have books, according to D.C. Council members and leaders of the teachers union. D.C. Auditor Deborah K. Nichols said that she will investigate the shortage. The troubles are taking place despite promises from D.C. school officials that they would have enough books when classes began in September; textbook shortages have been a chronic problem.

U.S., D.C. Officials Urge Probe

Post Reports Detail Contracting Violations

A member of Congress and several D.C. Council members called for investigations of the city's spending practices in the wake of Washington Post reports that detailed contracting violations by city officials. Out of $2.5 billion in purchases last year, the city spent about $425 million in unauthorized payments and no-bid contracts, according to a review of records.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said he welcomes the scrutiny, saying that the city's financial records are much better than they were a year ago. Among those calling for investigations were Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, and D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D).

Group Homes Faulted in 4 Deaths

District Cites Poor Care in Closing of Facility

Four mentally retarded people have died since November 2004 after receiving inadequate care in group homes overseen by the city, according to a court monitor's report. Two of the people resided in the same group home, the monitor said. D.C. officials since have shut down the facility.

Court monitor Elizabeth Jones warned that other mentally retarded people remain at risk and urged that action be taken immediately to address serious neglect in the homes and shoddy oversight by the city's mental retardation agency.

Planning Rock Creek Park's Future

Road Would Remain Open to Weekday Traffic

The National Park Service unveiled its long-range vision for Rock Creek Park, and one of the first targets is the thorny issue of traffic. The Park Service plans to continue to allow weekday traffic on a two-mile stretch of Beach Drive, between Joyce and Broad Branch roads, that is popular among bicyclists, skaters and pedestrians. But the speed limit along that stretch would be reduced from 25 to 20 mph. That change could take place shortly after Feb. 15, the deadline for the public to weigh in on the proposal. Other parts of the plan, including the renovation of the Nature Center and Planetarium, rerouting hiking trails and creating a visitors center, could take years to accomplish. The 115-year-old park has more than 3,000 acres.

Marble Plummets From Supreme Court

Some See Damage to 'Authority' as an Omen

A piece of marble fell from the facade of the Supreme Court -- and chipped away at "Authority," a sculpture adorning the building's west pediment. The incident became the punch line of the day, as bloggers and onlookers pondered its hidden meaning.

The piece fell to the foot of the steps, not far from a crowd waiting to get inside. No one was hurt. Tourist Lawrence Lippmann called the incident "a little unnerving."

Tai Shan to Make His Debut

Public Viewing of Cub to Start Thursday

The National Zoo's giant panda cub will make his public debut Thursday. More than 100 journalists got an advance peek at the 5-month-old cub, who demonstrated his climbing skills for the cameras. Tai Shan, whose name means "peaceful mountain," is the zoo's first surviving giant panda cub.

Meeting the Press Tai Shan, the National Zoo's nearly 5-month-old giant panda cub, plays as reporters watch during his first photo opportunity.