front page - search - community 

Taking note . . .

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

WHISTLEBLOWER VINDICATED: Civic activist Michele Tingling-Clemmons has a new D.C. government job after more than three years of fighting her firing for exposing mismanagement of the D.C. government's federally funded programs for feeding needy children. The D.C. government agreed to settle with Tingling-Clemmons shortly before her case, brought under the District's whistleblower protection law, was set to go to trial in D.C. Superior Court in June.

A nationally recognized nutrition and anti-hunger advocate, the Ward 7 resident alleged reprisals and retaliation when she was discharged three months after testifying in January 2002 before the D.C. City Council that her supervisors were attempting to divert resources from the District's Special Nutrition and Commodity Distribution Programs in violation of federal regulations. A the time, Tingling-Clemmons was state director for the District's programs designed to provide meals to low-income schoolchildren and child care programs.

Last month, Tingling-Clemmons received a $415,673 settlement from the D.C. government to cover back pay, compensatory damages and attorney's fees. In early August, she began working for the D.C. Department of Health as bureau chief for nutrition and physical fitness programs in the Division of Health Promotions.

NO DISAGREEMENTS: D.C. City Council Chairman Linda Cropp, due to formally join the 2006 race for mayor this week, won't win many votes among the city's democracy advocates if she continues to defend the need for elected officials to hold private discussions of the public's business.

"You shouldn't have all of your discussions, all of your fights in front of everyone," Cropp asserted Sept. 2 on radio station WAMU's "D.C. Politics Hour" program when asked about her proclivity as council chairman to keep council members' real debate on most public issues behind closed doors and out of the public's earshot.

Um…we beg to differ with the council chairman. Our definition of a healthy democratic government calls for almost all of those discussions and fights by elected officials to be conducted, with proper public notice, in public view. There's no better way for citizens to become informed of their elected officials' attitudes and performance of their official duties, so that they may be held accountable at the ballot box.

AIDING GULF COAST VICTIMS: Among all of the charitable organizations pitching in to help victims of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans flood, one local group stands out for its direct Louisiana connections. The Louisiana Network, also known as the "LA Network," was formed about six years ago by Louisiana natives in the Washington area to act as a sort of "extended family" to help others from the state relocate to the Washington metropolitan area. The organization of predominately African-American professionals is now seeking cash donations to help the displaced and pledges that "every dollar" collected will aid individuals directly affected by the disaster. Checks should be made payable to the "LA Network," with a notation on the memo line reading "Katrina Relief Fund," and may be mailed to P.O. Box 71645, Washington, DC 20024-1645.

Copyright 2005 The Common Denominator