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Marcus Moore Restorations

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From the Publisher's Desk...

ARE THE MAYOR’S MINIONS PROMOTING A CULT OF PERSONALITY?

It goes without saying, of course, that we are 100 percent supportive of the city’s on-going program of school modernization and we are especially pleased when we see the benefits devolve to schools in the neighborhoods served by this newspaper. So it is that we don’t begrudge work that improves the environment and learning experience for the children at Columbia Heights’ Harriet Tubman Elementary School.

But — over a half-million dollars for a new soccer field covered with fake grass?! Do they spend that kind of money on needed computer labs for the students? We understand that the field was dangerous to play on because it had been allowed to deteriorate to nothing more than bare dirt, which would never have happened if a proper grass-covered field had ever been maintained all along — and a new one could be seeded and nurtured and affordably maintained.

We are not suggesting that athletics at school are a frill — far from it. Progressive educators back in the late 19th century like Felix Adler founded schools that practiced the “sound body, sound mind” idea for children.

Once again we see priorities misplaced, especially when the only discernable advantage for using the fake grass was to make it possible to permanently enshrine Mayor Fenty’s name emblazoned in gargantuan letters so as to ensure that nobody would ever doubt that he was taking all the credit for the new field.

And when the criticism for this cult-like narcissism began to get embarrassing, the Mayor’s minions made sure that the very competent head of the city’s Office of Education Facilities and Management, Allen Y. Yew, was pressed into service to explain — which he really could not. Nevertheless, one of his employees came to the rescue with the notion that it is a common thing to place the name of the school mascot on these fields. Was he suggesting that the Mayor is a school mascot in addition to being everything else he wants us to believe he is?

If the field really needed a name, why not honor some historic personage associated with the area now known as Columbia Heights? Or, even, why not simply “Harriet Tubman Field”?

The problem with political leaders falling into the trap of not feeling fulfilled or truly unquestionably important is that they crave seeing their name (and picture) everywhere; they begin to view themselves as the head of something more than a mere government; instead, they begin to crave cult status. And one of the symptoms of this is that such persons see themselves as far more important than not only the governed but also of emissaries from beyond — so important that they can keep them waiting outside the palace gates.

Might this explain the snubbing of the internationally acclaimed poet, admired by recent Presidents, Maya Angelou, and of Dorothy Height, the great women’s and civil rights leader who was on the platform with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 when he delivered his inspiring “I have a Dream” speech in 1963? What was it that the Mayor had to do that was more important than acquiesce to their request for a meeting? Hold another photo-op to announce some minor something way off in a remote section of the city?

And the purpose of their request for a visit with the Mayor was to support the cause of Cora Masters Barry’s Southeast Tennis Learning Center that the District’s Attorney General (really the Mayor’s legal advisor) had summarily ordered be evicted because of a technical defect regarding the organization’s corporate status, something easily correctable — which it was in fact accomplished once it became known to the organization. And why were these two women of such great distinction so caring about saving the tennis center? Maybe it had to do with the fact that they, along with not only parents whose children have so benefited from the offered programs at this superbly run and beautiful facility but also civic leaders here and outside of DC long recognized the amazing success of the program and the benefits it has brought to the community.

If only the Mayor would re-think his priorities he could still reclaim the loyalty of the citizen majority that elected him to office. Hope springs eternal.