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saturday , october 1, 2011
VIRGINIA ON FAITH
Our area, in focus Obituaries Anwar al-Aulaqi was “one of a
kind,” delivering al-Qaeda propaganda in a way that many found compelling. A10 You have pictures? We have galleries. Upload your photos on a variety of local subjects, and see what others have shared.
Power plant to close
The City of Alexandria has reached an agreement with GenOn Energy to shutter its 62year-old coal-burning facility on the Potomac River. B3
Aging and shrinking
A survey says that despite “pockets of vitality,” U.S. church attendance has dipped in the past decade, and many congregations have gone from “mainline” to “oldline.” B2
Va. adopts revised history textbooks
Critics say fixing errors is not sufficient to merit classroom use
Grad student’s role in conflict at issue
ANOTHER VIEW OF CASEY’S DEATH
Police say he may have instigated physical contact
P AUL D UGGAN
K EVIN S IEFF
The Virginia Board of Education has approved revised versions of two history textbooks found last year to contain inaccuracies and questionable research, a decision that is drawing criticism from some lawmakers and academics. The errors and dubious scholarship in “Our Virginia: Past and Present” and “Our America to 1865,” both published by Five Ponds Press, will be fixed in the next editions, according to the state Department of Education, making the books appropriate for elementary and middle school classrooms. The board approved the books last week. But politicians and professors who helped craft the state’s textbook adoption standards say fixing the errors isn’t enough. Books by a writer who is not a trained historian and who used questionable Internet research — as was the case with both titles — should not be in Virginia classrooms, they say. “It’s stunning that so much accommodation is given to a publisher that probably shouldn’t exist in the first place,” said Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria), sponsor of a new law intended to keep error-ridden textbooks out of students’ hands. Increased scrutiny of textbooks caught dozens of errors in recent drafts of “Our Virginia” and “Our America,” including a reference to the “United States Navel Academy” and a misquote from Thomas Jefferson. The state approved these drafts contingent history continued on B4
A George Washington University graduate student who died of a head injury after an altercation in a McDonald’s restaurant near the campus last week had been drinking on the night of the incident and may have instigated the physical confrontation that led to his death, D.C. police said Friday. The student, Patrick Casey, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan, was knocked down by a shove or a punch and struck his head on the sidewalk just outside the door of the restaurant, in the 1900 block of M Street NW, police said. In an interview with The Washington Post this week, Casey’s parents said they were told by a witness that their 33-year-old son had been blindsided by a surprise punch while trying to defuse a dispute in which a female friend of his had been pushed. But a top official of the D.C. police homicide unit contradicted that account Friday.
“From what we’ve been able to establish at this point, Mr. Casey was not just sitting, minding his own business,” Capt. Michael Farish said at a news conference. “He was not just an inactive bystander who decided . . . to come to someone else’s aid. That’s not what our investigation is indicating.” Farish said detectives have interviewed about a half-dozen people who were involved on both sides of the confrontation as well as other witnesses who were in the restaurant when the altercation occurred, shortly after 2:30 a.m. Sept. 23. He said authorities are not sure whether anyone will be charged in the incident. “Bits and pieces” of the incident also were recorded by the restaurant’s security video system, Farish said. “The interviews we’ve conducted thus far with people who were with Mr. Casey [show] he had been drinking that night,” Farish said. He said the D.C. medical examincasey continued on B4
MLK library to keep its Sunday hours
PHOTOS BY SARAH L. VOISIN/THE WASHINGTON POST
City finds extra funding after facility’s patrons complain about closing
Wendy Acosta, 38, of the Dominican Republic in English class with her 9-month-old daughter.
In Langley Park, fear of losing the spirit of the neighborhood
Residents worry about development amid Purple Line plans
J IMM P HILLIPS
Latino market ends in Adams Morgan
L UZ L AZO
D AVID M ONTGOMERY
Amid the sound of mariachis playing dirges and the aroma of Latin American street cuisine, a three-year-old District experiment in business incubation ended with hugs and bitterness in Adams Morgan on Friday afternoon. “I feel very sad, but I say thank you to Pati for her cooking,” Jose Gutierrez said in Spanish, balancing a plate of three tacos in one hand while embracing Patricia Cruz, owner of the El Sabor de Mexico food stall. Cruz smiled and blushed. Later, she said in Spanish: “We are all left without work. I don’t know what we’re going to live from.” Friday was the last day of what supporters say is Washington’s only open-air Latino “market,” a three-days-a-week cluster of nearly a dozen vendors under tents in tiny, triangular Unity Park, at the corner of Euclid Street and Columbia Road NW. “Market” was a generous term almost from the beginning of the effort to give formerly unlicensed food-cart vendors in the neighborhood a sanctioned outlet for their entrepreneurship. The market was more of a popup food court, with a few crafts on the side and no produce. It became a popular lunch spot, operating most recently Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and serving up hearty samplings market continued on B4
chool hasn’t been dismissed for long, but the small playground on 15th Avenue in Langley Park is already crowded. Young kids have taken over the swings, and a game of futbol is underway at the mini soccer field nearby. Outside the aging apartment buildings, neighbors are hanging out with neighbors, and the sound of Spanish music is in the air. It’s a typical afternoon in Langley Park, a small community in northwestern Prince George’s County that over the years has gained a reputation as a hub of gang activity and violence. But some community leaders say this area at the crossroads of New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard has a unique cultural soul that they worry could be lost amid plans for the construction of a 16-mile light-rail line connecting Bethesda and New Carrollton. Area residents generally welcome the idea of
a Purple Line stop to help expand transportation options, but some fear private investment might lead to the elimination of affordable housing and displace residents. About one in five residents in Langley Park lives below the poverty level, according to census figures. People here represent more than 40 countries and speak dozens of languages. Nearly 80 percent are Hispanic, according to the census. “It is so amazing the diversity that we have here,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, the state’s largest Latino advocacy group, based in Langley Park. “There’s a sense of neighborhood, a sense of community.” Here, people are constantly crossing the busy roads and huddling to wait for buses. In the parking lots of some commercial plazas, men in construction gear wait for someone to drive by with an offer of a day job. People from all over come to shop for ethnic food. langley park continued on B6
The District’s main public library got a reprieve from plans to cut its Sunday hours after Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) announced Friday that the city had found extra funding to keep the building open seven days a week. Gray’s statement came about 48 hours before the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library — the public library’s central branch — was set to be closed on a non-holiday Sunday for the first time since opening its doors in 1972. After a report earlier this week on the looming Sunday closure, library supporters urged the city to reverse its decision and restore Sunday hours at the branch, which is at 901 G St. NW. The mayor announced Friday that the city had allocated $316,000 to the library system,
allowing the King library to keep its Sunday hours during the 2012 fiscal year, which begins today. Recent savings on the city’s debt service made the additional funding possible, Gray said. “We had some savings, and we are reinvesting it in the library,” he said. D.C. officials had announced earlier this year it would cut $800,000 from the library system’s budget — to less than $35 million — in response to the city’s ongoing budget woes. When D.C. Public Library spokesman George Williams announced the cuts Sept. 19, he said that ending the King library’s Sunday service was the leastpainful option available. Terry Lynch, director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations and a member of former mayor Anthony Williams’s library task force, wrote in a letter to Gray and council members that the King library cuts ran against Gray’s “own stated goal for improved educational services to our youth and city.” On Friday, Gray said he wished library continued on B6
ROGER G. KENNEDY, 85
Directed transformation of American History Museum
executive with the Ford Foundation in New York. Roger G. Kennedy, the director In 1979, he arrived at the Muof the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History and Technology, seum of American History who as the American history collection transformed the stodgy repositowas then known, without any exry often called “the nation’s attic” perience in museum administrainto a vibrant display that ention but with a visceral passion for shrined pop-culture the past. “I’ll teach hismemorabilia even as it tory to anybody I can get confronted some of the my mitts on,” he once told most shameful moments Newsweek. in the country’s past, died When Mr. Kennedy beSept. 30 at his home in gan working for the Rockville. He was 85. Smithsonian, S. Dillon He had melanoma, his Ripley, the institution’s wife, Frances Hefren top executive, was conKennedy, said. Kennedy cerned with strengthenMr. Kennedy, who ing its mass appeal. Like served as director of the National Ripley, who put the carousel on Park Service after leaving the histhe Mall, Mr. Kennedy cared most tory museum in 1992, took an about drawing people into the unusual path to the top of a major museum and persuading them to American museum. A prolific austay a while. thor but never an academic, he Asked about his legacy at the had held many jobs — Washingmuseum, Mr. Kennedy told The ton correspondent for NBC in the Washington Post in 1992, “I would 1950s, banker, vice president of kennedy continued on B4 the University of Minnesota and
E MILY L ANGER
Dora Escobar, 42, a native of El Salvador, owns money-wiring business La Chiquita Express in Langley Park and other businesses. She said she is worried about redevelopment in the area.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2011
Unfortunately we have a decent chance of a shower with a good amount of clouds. Breezes turn into cool, 10- to 20mph winds, perhaps gusting higher, which should make mid- to upper 50s or maybe lower 60s feel very chilly. Lows drop at night into the 40s regionwide.
News, trafﬁc, weather. Now.
A sense of community
langley park from B1 The Maryland Transit Administration says the Purple Line would help relieve some of that congestion. The MTA is also planning a transit center that would consolidate bus stops in one of the busiest transfer points in the region. Prince George’s has approved a redevelopment plan that calls for additional mixed-use spaces, more businesses and improvements to the residential areas in Langley Park. The county is still determining how it will implement the plan. will bring new investment to the area and new clients for the small businesses in the corridor, said Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), who represents the eastern part of the county that borders Langley Park. “My perspective on this is that if you don’t redevelop that area, it will never improve,” Ervin said. “I believe that all the residents of Langley Park deserve to have a beautiful community with amenities, with walkability and nice bike trails and parks, and all these things come with redevelopment.”
Mayor says MLK library to stay open on Sundays
library from B1 there had been more outcry when he originally proposed the budget in the spring — or when the D.C. Council approved it. “It’s almost as if people don’t pay attention because it’s months down the road,” he said. Library patrons did voice their concerns about the cuts during the library board’s Sept. 21 meeting in Deanwood, according to Ginnie Cooper, the D.C. system’s chief librarian. “They told us that having MLK open on Sundays means there’s a library open when we need it,” she said. As the system’s neighborhood libraries began shuttering on Sundays, patrons relied more heavily on the King library as a Sunday afternoon haven, where parents could bring their children to read a story and the unemployed could use computers to find new job opportunities, George Williams said. “We’re still that place,” he said. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the council’s Public Works, Recreation and Libraries Committee, was a force behind Gray’s reversal, meeting with library administrators and supporters and then lobbying the mayor. “I told them we needed to make this one of our top priorities,” he said. “Mayor Gray agreed and said he would see what he could do.” Lynch said that although he is pleased the King library will remain open Sundays, he wants the city to start restoring Sunday hours at the neighborhood libraries, too.
email@example.com Staff writers Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.
A question of when
In fact, it remains uncertain when any change would take place. The $1.93 billion Purple Line would require both federal and state money and is still awaiting federal approval to begin preliminary engineering. But it’s unclear where that construction money would come from. “As a community, we welcome efforts that would strengthen economic development in Langley Park. However, we believe that it will be morally wrong to do it in a way that will result in massive displacement,” said the Rev. Jacek Orzechowski of St. Camillus Catholic Church, which is based in Silver Spring but offers Mass in Langley Park. Orzechowski said that some residents seem worried about the future of the neighborhood and that many are not even aware of the proposed plans. “Somehow the people who are living there have been excluded” from the redevelopment conversations, he said. “There is a lack of awareness of how the plan will impact them.” Robert Duffy, a planning supervisor with the Prince George’s County Planning Department, said the county wants to preserve affordable housing and the small businesses in the corridor while guiding future growth. In the long run, the Purple Line
A place like home
Whatever the changes, residents say they don’t want to lose a place that has become as familiar as their native countries. “We don’t feel at home anywhere else,” said Eva Yesenia Martinez, 40, who has lived in a 15th Avenue apartment complex with her husband and children for a decade. Four years ago, Martinez lost her eldest son to gang violence in the neighborhood. Ferdy Martinez, 16, was killed in a July 22, 2007, shooting just a block from his home. Almost every afternoon, Martinez sits for an hour or so on the steps where her son played when he was young. She chats with neighbors and watches kids play. “In a way, I feel that I am close to him here,” she said in Spanish. Despite the tragedy, Martinez said she is at ease raising a 14year-old daughter and a 10-yearold son in the neighborhood and remains optimistic about Langley Park’s future. The atmosphere in the neighborhood, she said, reminds her of her native Chiquimula in Guatemala, where the neighbors know each other well and take afternoon breaks at the plaza. Her afternoon ritual is an extension of those traditions. She buys snacks from street vendors and walks to the Latino markets
SARAH L. VOISIN/THE WASHINGTON POST
At the Villas at Langley apartment complex in Langley Park, residents gather on most evenings to watch soccer games. I For more images of life and community in Langley Park, go to postlocal.com.
on University Boulevard to buy the groceries she needs to cook dinner and the meals she sells in the neighborhood. When she wants to send money to her family in Guatemala, she wires it from nearby businesses. “Everything is around the corner,” Martinez said. “It is so convenient.”
Some things have changed here in the past few years. The vendors that used to be on just about every corner selling traditional Latino meals such as pupusas (a traditional Salvadoran dish of corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, pork, refried beans or a combination) are gone. They left after a police crackdown following an outbreak of violence in 2007. A handful of people still sell food, either out of shopping carts or, like Martinez,
from their homes. “When the [food] trucks were there, almost every truck had some people around it,” recalls William Hanna, a professor with the University of Maryland’s Urban Studies and Planning Department, who has been studying Langley Park for more than a decade. “They served as center places for socialization. And the streets were lively. There was a lot of people just hanging out.” Now, the enforcement of a law banning the trucks has “cut the heart of the socialization,” Hanna said. But that spirit still lingers. Many businesses double as informal community centers, and in residential areas, kids play while adults watch and socialize. “The people who live here, live happy here,” said Dora Escobar, 42, a native of El Salvador who came to Langley Park in the 1990s.
Escobar, who owns eight small businesses in the area, said she started out selling food from her Langley Park apartment nearly 20 years ago. “In this country, if you want to do something with your life, you can. I learned that in Langley Park,” said Escobar, who owns a beauty salon, a restaurant and several businesses that wire money, including La Chiquita Express on University Boulevard. Escobar moved to a bigger home in Annapolis four years ago, but she still worries about redevelopment. “If the rent goes up, the people who live here will have to leave,” she said. “Some people here earn $350 a week. They have a hard time paying their rent now. It is nice to bring other transportation options, but how good would that be if you can’t live here?”
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