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Taking note . . .

Observations about public affairs in the nation’s capital
by the editor of The Common Denominator

TURNING OUT THE LIGHTS? Michelle Walker, the mayor's senior adviser on education and architect of his failed effort to wrest control of the public school system from the Board of Education, is the most recent political appointee preparing to leave the Williams administration for a new job.

Walker is the 35th political appointee to give notice to the mayor since the first of this year, the D.C. Office of Personnel tells Common Denominator political columnist Diana Winthrop. That, along with the increasing number of Tony Williams' former supporters who have moved on to work for other mayoral candidates, appears to leave few stalwarts to mount a second re-election campaign for the mayor – unless, of course, you count his Northern Virginia baseball supporters.

Walker, who has been employed in the Executive Office of the Mayor since the fall of 2001, is jumping ship to become the director of the Office of Public/Private Partnerships at D.C. Public Schools. She's scheduled to start her new job Aug. 15.

BAILING OUT AT DCPS: Superintendent Clifford Janey will begin his second year at the helm of D.C. Public Schools this fall with more than a smidgen of the school system's institutional memory missing. At least two assistant superintendents have chosen to move on to other education-related endeavors -- both with a connection to Edison Schools, the New York-based corporation that operates 157 charter schools in 19 states and the District.

Ralph Neal, 65, who climbed the ladder from junior high school teacher to assistant superintendent during his 43 years with the city schools, retired in June. But rather than sitting around in a rocking chair, Neal will try to replicate his successful 12-year run at the helm of Eastern Senior High School in its heyday by stepping into the top job at Friendship-Edison Public Charter School's Blow-Pierce campus in Northeast Washington.

Gloria Grantham, 62, who has spent the past five years overseeing the District's public middle and junior high schools and the so-called "transition" schools, was selected last week to become superintendent of the small-but-troubled Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania. Grantham officially was "on vacation" from her D.C. position last week when she participated in something akin to a side-by-side job interview with her lone competitor at a public meeting in Chester. She will take the reins this fall of a financially strapped school system that has been under direct state control since 2000 and has experimented with Edison taking control of most of its traditional public schools.

SICK CALL: Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry landed back in the hospital last week for what his executive assistant, Linda Greene, said was a case of dehydration. The 24-hour inpatient stop at Greater Southeast Community Hospital was the 69-year-old former mayor's third hospitalization this year. Greene described Barry's frequent trips to the hospital as "being proactive" about his health, after the popular D.C. politician "ignored symptoms of pneumonia" and fell seriously ill following his election last November.

Copyright 2005 The Common Denominator