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Washington D.C. Afro-American Newspaper, February 19, 2011

Washington D.C. Afro-American Newspaper, February 19, 2011

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Washington D.C. Afro-American Newspaper, February 19, 2011
Washington D.C. Afro-American Newspaper, February 19, 2011

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Published by: The AFRO-American Newspapers on Feb 17, 2011
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By Valencia Mohammed
Special to the AFRO
Controversy over a budgetdecit announced by theDistrict’s only government-run university is steadilybrewing, causing anxietyamong students. City ofcialssay they were surprised bythe University of the Districtof Columbia’s recent requestfor an additional $8 millionto $10 million to offset theexpense of operating thefast-growing CommunityCollege for the District of Columbia (CCDC), which theD.C. City Council approvedtwo years ago. The requestcomes at a time when thelocal government is facing aprojected $400 million decit.Alan Etter, a UDCspokesman, said universityPresident Allen L. Sessomstold city ofcials that theuniversity is overwhelmed bythe cost of providing coursesand services to students whoenroll at the communitycollege. “The great demandfor a community collegeadded more expenses thananticipated,” said Etter.For two years, UDCcovered the cost of partiallyrenovating a location insoutheast Washington alongwith opening up locationsin downtown and northeastto accommodate the morethan 4,000 students enrolledin the community college.Since then, enrollment hasdropped to less than 2,000students at the main campus.UDC ofcials said they wereforced to spend more than $18million from reserve funds.Doxie McCoy,spokeswoman for MayorVincent Gray (D) and TraciHughes, spokeswoman forCouncil Chairman KwameBrown (D) said they couldoffer no comments for thisstory since they were seekingadditional information fromUDC ofcials.Councilman Marion Barry,Ward 8 (D), said the Councilwas not aware of the decitbecause it is not involved inthe day-to-day operations of the university.Etter, the UDC spokesman,said the president was notaware of an ofcial requestby the mayor or Council fora detailed outline of howthe decit was determined.However, a fact sheet wasbeing prepared by theuniversity of its immediateand long-term needs.“We are working withthe mayor and council tohelp them understand theoperational impact that acommunity college withseveral locations has on ourbudget,” said Etter.University ofcials believethe increase in funding shouldbe realized through the city’s
By Zenitha Prince
Washington Bureau Chie 
President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget, released on Valentine’s Day, is getting little lovefrom either side of the ideological aisle.Republicans, who in a nod to their tea party supporters have proposed $61 billion in spendingcuts for the current scal year ending Sept. 30, said Obama’s $3.73 trillion proposal falls short of his pledge to scal discipline.“The President’s budget reects a complete lack of seriousness about our present scalcrisis. If this is our generation’s Sputnik moment, then the White House clearly hasn’t gottenthe message,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. “If we are serious about cutting the size of government and creating jobs, it is going to require real
Volume 119 No. 28www.afro.com$1.00
Copyright © 2011 by the Afro-American Company
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FEBRUARY 19, 2011 - FEBRUARY 25, 2011
Hear the
on The DailyDrum, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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Continued on A5Continued on A5
B. Smith’sSearch for aNew D.C. StarB3Did Civil Rights-Era Comic Book Inspire EgyptianProtestors?
Continued on A3
Mathis’ Mind: SaveEx-Inmate Programs A9
By Zenitha Prince
Washington Bureau Chie 
The indignities heapedupon the District of Columbia bythe Republican-controlledHouse of Representativesare pilingup, politicalobservers said.The assaultagainst the city’sautonomy beganwhen the GOP,as one of itsrst orders of business, strippedthe District of its vote in theCommittee of theWhole. And inone of the latestincidents, Del.Eleanor HolmesNorton, D-D.C.,was barred fromtestifying on abill that affectsthe city.The measure,the
 No TaxpayerFunding for Abortion Act 
(H.R. 3), would,among other things, preventthe District from using localtaxpayer-raised funds toprovide abortions for low-income residents. In a Feb.8 press release Norton saidthough her request to testifywas submitted beforehand,Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.,chairman of the HouseJudiciary Subcommittee onthe Constitution, denied it.“Not only do Republicansseek to trample on D.C.’srights as a self-governing jurisdiction, they apparentlyseek to trample on my rightas a member of Congress toparticipate in the legislativeprocess by giving testimonyon a bill that directly affectsthe District,” Norton said.She vowed in a Jan. 31statement, “We will not standby while they invade theDistrict’s right to spend ourown money in keeping withthe needs of our residents.Otherwise, there will be noend to it.”Not only was the moveunfair, it also went against
GOP’s Anti-Home Rule Campaign Continues to Mount
By George Barnette
 AFRO Staf Writer 
Former Prince George’s County ExecutiveJack Johnson was indicted on federal bribery,extortion and witness and evidence tamperingcharges on Feb. 14.According to the indictment, the 61-year-old Johnson is accused of conspiring – withdevelopers, political candidates, public ofcialsand Amrik Singh Melhi, owner of Tick TockLiquors in Hyattsville, as well as other liquorstores in the region – to use his inuenceto produce favorable ofcial actions for theaforementioned parties.“Pay-to-play government is not democraticgovernment,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J.Rosenstein in a statement. “Anyone who seeksbenets or approvals from the government
 AP Photo/Charles Dharapak 
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.,speaks as D.C. Vote executive directorIlir Zherka, left, and D.C. MayorVince Gray listen on Capitol Hill inWashington on Jan. 4.
 Jack Johnson Formally Indicted
Congress’inherent rulesof collegialrespect, saidRep. EmanuelCleaver, D-Mo.,chairman of theCongressionalBlack Caucus, of which Norton is amember.“I amextremelyconcerned thatCongresswomanNorton was shutout of a veryimportant hearingthat affects thecommunityin which sherepresents,”Cleaver said in a statement.“Not only is it unfair, it’sdisrespectful and I plan onspeaking with ChairmanFranks about this matter.”Mark Plotkin, politicalcommentator for WTOPradio, said while Franks’decision was in line with theGOP’s stormy history with theDistrict, it still was surprisingin its level of disregard.“The Republican Party hasa terrible history with theDistrict of Columbia,” Plotkintold the
, pointing to themeager Republican support –22 votes – for the D.C. VotingRights Bill. “[But] this was anextreme example. I was evensurprised that they would go
Photo by Rob Roberts
Former Prince George’s CountyExecutive Jack Johnson faces apossible 115 years in jail basedon the indictment handed downon Feb. 14.
Continued on A6 
 AP Photo/Charles Dharapak 
President Barack Obama makes a statement about his budget during a news conferenceon the White House complex in Washington on Feb. 15.
Obama Budget Criticized
City Ocials Claim Ignoranceo UDC Defcit
The Afro-American, February 19, 2011 - February 25, 2011
Did Forgotten Civil Rights-Era Comic Book InspireEgypt’s Protestors?
Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy of social justice andnonviolent protest may have prompted thousands of Egyptianactivists to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.Georgia Rep. John Lewis (D) told MSNBC a 50-year-old comicbook about the slain civil right’s leader and the Montgomery,Ala. bus boycott has gained notoriety in the Arab world.“Egypt is a reliable, dependable friend of the UnitedStates of America, but what we’re witnessing is a nonviolentrevolution occurring in Egypt and we must be on the rightside of history. ... I just heard a day or two ago that morethan 250,000 copies of 
 Montgomery Story
in comic bookform was distributed throughout Egypt and it was copied andtranslated. I believe many of the people in the streets todayhave been deeply inspiredby the civil rights movementin America and deeplyinspired by Martin LutherKing ...”
The Montgomery Story
 was rst published in 1956and highlighted the busboycott that ended the city’ssegregated transportationpolicies. Although itgarnered little attentionstateside, Egyptian bloggerDalia Ziada translated thecomic book into Farsi andArabic in 2008. Accordingto her blog, the Arabic andFarsi translations inspiredVietnamese activists and
 Montgomery Story
is now being distributed throughoutother Asian countries.“The main message I hope that Arabic readers will takefrom the MLK comic book is that: change is not impossible.It is time to stop using our muscles blindly,” said Ziada,director of the American Islamic Congress (AIC) – a activistgroup created in response to the Sept. 11 attacks – accordingto TheGrio.com. “Let’s try using our intellect in innovative,creative ways to pressure decision makers and end dictatorship,tyranny and the suppression practiced against us.”
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Charters South AfricanChapter
The world’s oldest intercollegiate fraternity founded byAfrican-American men has established its rst chapter inSouth Africa. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, founded at CornellUniversity in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1906, chartered Rho Phi LambdaChapter in Johannesburg on Feb. 3.The ceremony was held during the Kenneth HarlanSimmons Memorial Charity Dinner. Simmons, a successfulAfrican-American architect and professor, was a longtimemember of the fraternity known for his work on equal rights,urban planning and community development. He relocatedto South Africa in 1994 after retiring from the University of California-Berkeley.The event, which included an Alpha auction for education,was presided over by the fraternity’s world leader, GeneralPresident Herman “Skip” Mason Jr., and included members of the fraternity’s board of directors, dignitaries and more than200 others.The new Johannesburg chapter’s 13 charter membersrelocated from America to South Africa. However, thefraternity aims to expand by inviting native South Africans to join the fraternity through the Rho Phi Lambda chapter.“We are excited about establishing the rst chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha on the African continent in the 21st century,”said Michael Sudarkasa, chapter president and a HarvardUniversity-trained lawyer initiated at the University of Michigan. “We look forward to playing an integral part inhelping to expand the fraternity’s presence in Africa in thecoming years.”
Va.’s First Black Chief of Justice Dies at 55
Leroy Hassell Sr., Virginia’s rst Black chief justice, diedFeb. 9 at a Richmond hospital, the Supreme Court of Virginiaannounced in a press release. The cause of his death was notreleased.A native of Norfolk, Hassell was a graduate of theUniversity of Virginia andHarvard Law School. Before joining the Supreme Court at34, he became partner at thenationally recognized McGuireWoods law rm.Hassell was a member of the court since 1989 and servedas chief justice from February2003 until his death. Hissuccessor, Chief Justice Kinser,praised Hassell’s intellectand “passion for the law” in astatement.“The Supreme Court of Virginia and the entire judiciaryin the Commonwealth aresaddened by the death of Justice Hassell. He was devoted to theCourt and worked tirelessly to improve the administration of  justice,” Kinser said.On Feb. 11, Hassell’s body lay in state in the state capitolrotunda, where relatives and friends paid their nal respects.His funeral took place Feb. 12 at an undisclosed church whereHassell and his family worshipped.
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the U.S. Department of Education’s Instituteof Education Sciences(IES), showed nosignicant increase intest scores comparedto D.C. public schoolstudents. As a result, in2009, the Democratic-controlled Congressvoted to end furtherfunding for theprogram—althoughit permitted currentlyenrolled voucherstudents to remain intheir private schoolsuntil graduation.“Most Districtresidents would muchrather we focus on thequality of educationfor all of our childreninstead of things thathave shown not tohave a measurableeffect,” said Iris Toyer,former chair of ParentsUnited, a well-knowneducational advocacygroup that lobbies forfull funding of D.C.public schools.Last Congress,the Senate defeatedan amendment toreauthorize the programby a vote of 55-42.However, in a show of power, House Speaker JohnBoehner (R-Ohio) and Sen.Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)—both longtime supportersof school choice—haveintroduced legislation (H.R.471 and S. 206) to sanctionthe voucher program again,with an added caveat thatallows vouchers to familiesregardless of income.In a statement, Boehnerpointed to the benets of theprogram, including a 2010IES report that showed thatthe graduation rates for theOpportunity Scholarshipstudents exceeded thoseof their public schoolcounterparts by 12 percent.Still, some questionwhether voucher fundswouldn’t be better spent onimproving graduation andother outcomes at the city’spublic schools.“Vouchers have nothingto do with the education of children of D.C.,” said Toyer,a former elected D.C. Boardof Education member. “It’sreally about a ideology thatthe Republicans would liketo use nationwide with publiceducation that they would notbe able to pass in their ownrespective jurisdictions.”Since 1964, the BlackStudent Fund (BSF) hasbeen helping students whowanted to attend privateschools without governmentfunding. The mission of theorganization is to desegregateprivate schools. BSF opposedthe voucher program. “Wedon’t want private schoolsto replace public schools.The current voucher programseems set out to destroypublic schools,” said WalterAllen, academic advisor forthe Black Student Fund.Del. Eleanor HolmesNorton (D-D.C.) said thatBoehner is ignoring botha compromise reached onthis issue, and the home-rule public charter schoolalternative strongly preferredby District residents. “TheDistrict’s home-rule publiccharter school alternativehas become a model forthe nation,” she said, “andcharter schools enjoystrong bipartisan support inCongress.”Surprisingly, MayorVincent Gray and DC CouncilChair Kwame Brown havediffering opinions on theissue.Aligning himself withNorton, Gray shares thesame position of the Obamaadministration that studentscurrently in the programshould be allowed to completeit but no new public fundsshould go to private schools.“The mayor’s position hasnot changed in the wake of new legislation. Gray opposesvouchers but he supportscurrent recipients receivingthem until they graduate fromhigh school,” said DoxieMcCoy, spokeswoman forthe mayor. “The mayor feelsstrongly that this is a homerule issue and these decisionsshould rest with the residentsof the District of Columbia.”Brown, however, is infavor of vouchers. “Everyparent should have options inchoosing quality schools fortheir child to attend. My focusis making sure reform stayson track, so that every Districtschool is a quality school,”said Brown.Pro-voucher proponentsagree. Virginia Walden Ford,54, a northeast resident, wantsparents to experience what shedid when her youngest sonattended a private school. “Isupport good public, charterand private schools. Whenthere are not enough seats inthe good public and charterschools, parents need anotherchoice. This is what thevoucher program allows,” saidFord, an Independent voter.Currently, there are 55private schools that participatein the voucher program. Theaverage tuition cost is $4,500yearly. The voucher paymentis $7,500 yearly. Parents canuse the difference to fundbooks, uniforms and eldtrips, Ford said.
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Continued from A1
Anti-Home Rule
I used to thinkbeing good was enoughuntil I learned thatI could be great.Today, I realizeI can choose to…BE LEGENDARY.
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university of washington press
Edited by John C. Walter and Malina Iida
By Valencia Mohammed
Special to the AFRO
The political wheels inthe District of Columbiaare churning up once againas House Republicans take jabs at Home Rule. Havingstripped the congressionalrepresentative of votingpower on the oor, andbarring her from testifying ona bill that affects the District,Republicans have alsointroduced legislation to re-impose the D.C. OpportunityScholarship Program (OSP).In 2004, Congressinstituted the experimentalve-year pilot voucherprogram in the District,a move that was met bymixed reactions—as isthis current legislation. Asyears went by and aftermillions of dollars werespent, independent studies of the D.C. voucher program,including a 2007 report from
D.C. Schools Voucher Program Causing Political Split
Photo by Valencia Mohammed 
School voucher programs havespurred often acrimonious debateacross the nation.
so far as to do this ...“Just common decency,you think, would stop themfrom doing that. But thereare no bounds – Republicansare interested in suppressingD.C. in any way they canwith few exceptions.”Several measuresintroduced by the HouseRepublicans this yearthreaten to push back theadvances toward home rulethe District has managed toeke out in the past four years,according to Norton’s ofce.In addition to revoking theD.C. delegate’s vote, severalbills and the scal year 2011spending bill (ContinuingResolution), which wasreleased Feb. 11, would barthe city from using localfunds for abortions for low-income women or for itsneedle-exchange program,and would revoke a previousdecision and make the D.C.private schools voucherprogram permanent.The GOP assault reectspartisan motives, Plotkinsaid. “The House Republicanleadership is antagonisticto the District because it’sa question, simply, frankly,candidly, of political power.”Quoting now-deceasedSen. Ted Kennedy, who saidthe District suffers becauseit’s “too urban ... too liberal... too Democratic ... and tooBlack,” the political analystsaid, “You combine thesefour components and theRepublicans don’t feel thathelping the District in anyway, in terms of politicaladvancement, helps them –and they’re right. But to thinkthat they are so partisan andso dogmatic about deprivingand denying 600,000 residentsthe rights that every otherAmerican have ... they shouldbe embarrassed. But they getaway with it.”Plotkin said there istoo much “passivity andacceptance of the statusquo” from D.C. residents,lawmakers and governmentofcials, in referring towhat needs to be done toght back against the GOPHouse. There is no helpin sight from PresidentObama, who Plotkin saidhas been “AWOL” on issuesconcerning the District.“You’ve got to shamethem (GOP lawmakers);you’ve got to embarrassthem,” Plotkin said. “[But]the citizenry isn’t insultedand that’s the problem.This is not Cairo ... youdon’t see anybody in thestreet ... there’s no civildisobedience.”

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