Region’s education leaders talk challenges, successes…Meyer Foundation names Janice Thomas as VP for finance and operations…CBO says U.S. is facing a deep recession [News, 8.22.12]

EDUCATION | Yesterday, WTOP gathered education leaders from most of our region’s jurisdictions to talk about their successes and challenges, both common and unique. It’s worth the time to listen to some of the show’s segments. (WTOP, 8/22)

- Despite their growing popularity and success in the District, charter schools operate as effective “second-class” citizens when it comes to funding and policy decisions. (WaPo, 8/22)

COMMUNITY | Congratulations to Janice Thomas on being named the new vice president for finance and operations at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation! Janice has been WRAG’s neighbor down the hall at the Consumer Health Foundation for the last three years. While we’ll miss seeing her in the hallway, we’re very excited that she’s moving to another great foundation in our community.

Julie Rogers, Meyer’s President and CEO, has these words of praise for Janice:

We are delighted to welcome Janice to the Meyer Foundation…She brings an uncommon and invaluable combination of skills and experience. Beyond her finance, technology, and human resources background, Janice’s degree in social work gives her an additional perspective on the foundation’s work.

PHILANTHROPY | New Web Site Informs Philanthropists About Nonprofits (Chronicle, 8/21) “The new Web site is called the Giving Library and includes videos from 250 nonprofits hoping to catch the attention of donors who visit the site.”

LOCAL | I mentioned the death of local homeless man Peter Bis – and how it has touched a lot of people – earlier this week. Today, the Post has a nicely-written front page article about him. (WaPo, 8/22)

ECONOMY | The weather is getting pleasant, people are relaxing a little as the summer winds down, and…the United States is evidently facing a deep recession next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. We already know that massive tax hikes and spending cuts are going to severely hurt our region, but the CBO’s new report says the rest of the country is in grave danger, too, if Congress doesn’t get its act together. (WaPo, 8/22)

HOUSING | From Greater Greater WashingtonLong-term home ownership does foster civic engagement (GGW, 8/22)

TRANSIT | Arlington County has released a video that shows the plan for (and benefits of) its new streetcar system. They ignored the “don’t make videos nine minutes long” rule, but it is certainly interesting if you have time to watch.  (ArlNow, 8/22)

Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!” is probably one of the most famous phrases (noises?) in American pop culture. Homer’s voice actor, the hilarious Dan Castellaneta, explains that not only was “D’oh!” originally unscripted, but it actually has roots in one of the greatest comedy teams ever. Trivial, but fascinating!

Also, here’s the first poster for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic, starring Abraham Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. This is at the top of my must-see list.

Local nonprofit merger is going well…A detailed look at charitable giving data…Prince George’s County names temporary schools chief [News, 8.20.12]

NONPROFITS | Last year, District nonprofits N Street Village and Miriam’s House announced that they were merging together. The merge would hopefully alleviate some of the financial stress caused by the recession and increase their capacities to serve the community. Did it work? The Post says yes (WaPo, 8/20):

Nearly one year since the vows, two nonprofit darlings of the District — N Street Village and Miriam’s House —are calling their merger a success.

COMMUNITY | We are absolutely thrilled to introduce you all to the newest member of the WRAG family! The Washington AIDS Partnership’s Jenn Jue and her husband Peter are proud new parents to Marcus Jue. Last week, the little guy entered the world at a healthy 7 pounds and 11 ounces. His parents are both doing great. Congratulations, Jenn and Peter!

GIVING | A new, interactive study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy breaks down individuals’ charitable giving by state, city, and neighborhood. There are some really interesting stories to be told from the data, including (for an election year) giving in red states versus blue ones.

In our region, the Chronicle finds that faith is a primary driver of giving. (Chronicle 8/20)

EDUCATION | Prince George’s County Public Schools have named Alvin Crawley as the temporary schools chief, effective September 4th. Crawley is currently DCPS’ deputy chief of programming for the special education office. (Examiner, 8/20)

LOCAL | Bank of America’s Mid-Atlantic president, Bill Couper, has been with the company for forty years. He looks back over the decades and considers how our region’s economy has changed, particularly for banking. (WaPo, 8/20)

HEALTH | Maryland, D.C. tap outside consultants to adopt changes in health care law (WaPo, 8/20)

FITNESS | Many of you have probably wandered by a park and seen large groups of people contorting their bodies into uncomfortable-looking yoga positions. If you are like me, you laugh at them and keep walking. But apparently outdoor fitness classes are the hot new thing, and the D.C. Council wants to capitalize on the trend by collecting fees. (WAMU, 8/20)

If you’ve ever lived or worked on Capitol Hill, then you’ve probably run into Peter Bis. Though he occasionally biked around, Peter’s regular spot was on a plastic crate under a tree, in front of the Exxon at 2nd and Mass Ave. Though he was homeless, he never asked for anything and always greeted passersby with a countdown to the weekend, a reminder about upcoming holidays, and (my personal favorite) a warning not to go skinny dipping. He was a little crazy, but he was always kind.

Peter passed away from a heart attack last week. My Facebook news feed filled up with my friends’ memories of him. Local news outlets shared stories. Even the national press wrote about his death. It was wonderful to read about how important he was to the community – and how people, particularly the Exxon staff, took care of him as a cherished neighbor. He’ll be sincerely missed.

Budget cuts could cost region more than 160,000 jobs…MoCo considering affordable housing incentives…GGW argues for centrally hired education committee employees [News, 8.16.12]

SEQUESTRATION | A little doom and gloom for your Thursday. Sorry! George Mason’s Stephen Fuller has run numbers to see how the looming federal budget cuts would affect the region (WTOP, 8/16):

“[W]e’re looking at the loss of about 65,000 federal jobs in this region and about 96,000 federal contractor jobs.”

Fuller says it could lead to a “devastating recession” in the area. He says a ripple effect could also result in loss of more jobs outside the federal government.

HOUSING | The Montgomery County Council is taking a new look at a law that would “exempt residential developers from paying development taxes…if at least a quarter of the apartments or houses meet affordable-housing guidelines.” Advocates say it encourages affordable housing construction, while critics say that it would cost too much in lost revenue. (Examiner, 8/16)

- When Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown resigned from the D.C. Council, his staff members who oversaw the education committee left as well. Greater Greater Washington makes the wise argument that committee staff members should be centrally hired rather than tied to politicians. (GGW, 8/15)

Charter school known for rigor comes to D.C. (WaPo, 8/16)

HEALTH | D.C. submits plan for health-benefits exchange to feds (Wash Times, 8/16)

NONPROFITS | The Chronicle profiles controversial academic Richard Steinberg, who argues in favor of big up-front spending toward long-term growth for nonprofits. Steinberg has an advocate in Dan Pallotta, who spoke at WRAG’s 2009 annual meeting (Chronicle, 8/16):

[Pallotta] argues that nonprofits should operate more like businesses. The public is “illiterate” about the need to invest in fundraising to help an organization grow, he said in an interview, calling Mr. Steinberg “the hero of an unsexy cause.”

BUDGETS | Virginia state employees are getting bonuses after the state ended its fiscal year with a $448.5 million surplus. (WaPo, 8/16)

JOBS | Looking for a new job? Need to get the word out about a job opening? Check out WRAG’s Job Board for positions in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. The board is full of neat opportunities.

You can post an announcement for $60/60 days – and WRAG members can post for free (email Christian).

LOCAL | The release of the audit of Mayor Gray’s 2010 campaign has been delayed indefinitely. (Examiner, 8/16)

Conveniently related: Watchdogs: D.C. Area Governments Need Work On Transparency (WAMU, 8/15)

SHARKS! | So we’ve had sharks in the Potomac on rare occasions, but WTOP felt like it would be a good idea to terrify us by confirming that the monsters are common to the Chesapeake. They even dropped this gem of a line (WTOP, 8/16):

Given the general prevalence of sharks in the bay, it’s unusual that there has never been a shark attack here or anywhere else in Maryland….

Great. I’m moving to Indiana. Or Liechtenstein.

With the 2012 Summer Olympics finished, we can finally start campaigning to have synchronized swimming banned from the next games. Why? Because of this.

Also, in honor of Shark Week and the beasts who will probably eat me next time I swim in the Chesapeake, here’s one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs – Fins

Rebekah has the Daily tomorrow, so I’ll wish you all a great weekend.

Getting ready for school: truancy, librarians, math scores and…gambling. [News, 8.15.12]

EDUCATION | A new report from the District’s Inspector General on the city’s efforts to fight truancy reveals self-defeating tendencies:

D.C. Public Schools sabotaged its efforts to curb truancy by firing attendance counselors and choosing not to track when students were picked up by police…Inspector General Charles Willoughby’s office also said lax policies created inconsistent responses to unexcused absences throughout the system.

Thirty-nine percent of D.C. high schools were chronically truant at last count, meaning they were unexcused and absent for at least 15 days. (Examiner, 8/15)

- According to the Examiner, 57 public schools – including 64 percent of the ones in Ward 5 – won’t have librarians when the school year starts. (Examiner, 8/14) That’s crazy. Good librarians are as important as good teachers. Mrs. McKenna and Brother Marvin made a big difference in my education…even though Brother Marvin gave me detention all the time.

Also, can’t we think outside the box? If funding is the issue, how about setting up a network of volunteers?

- Fairfax County Public Schools will repay the federal government $1 million after an employee lied about having secured matching funds and then forged signatures to try to prove it. This happened twelve years ago, which begs a comment on the bureaucracy of the Justice Department. (Examiner, 8/15)

- Math scores in Northern Virginia dropped considerably last year as the tests got tougher. (WaPo, 8/15)

GAMBLING | The Maryland House (no, not the one on I-95) has given initial approval to gambling expansion in the state. The legalization of table games – and consequential construction of new casinos, including in Prince George’s – could bring as much as $750 million in annual revenue dedicated to education. (Examiner, 8/15)

TRANSIT | Metro is still opening doors. In tunnels. (NBC4, 8/14)

GIVING | Opinion: Pablo Eisenberg considers the Ford Foundation’s recent $500,000 grant to the Washington Post – designated for beefing up coverage on government accountability – and thinks that it “is inappropriate and a waste of money.” (HuffPo, 8/15)

ELECTION | Opinion: Now the Presidential Race Is About Nonprofit Issues (Chronicle, 8/14) The author, Mark Rosenman, labels himself an “activist,” so this is less than an unbiased piece. But he does take a thorough look at how the Ryan Plan would likely affect nonprofits.

One quick tangential thought as we move into full gear toward the election. Tamara and I were talking yesterday about the state of politics, and the art of deceptive campaigning in general. We agreed that it’s important to remember that, despite what 30-second ads want us to believe, political candidates are fighting for the chance to do what they honestly believe is best for the country. We can and should debate policies and outcomes, but it seems disingenuous to accuse either party of simply not caring about – or worse, hating – specific constituencies of people. We should be careful and thoughtful with our political rhetoric.

Greater Greater Washington linked to this great NY Times article from 1964. It offers predictions about the United States in the year 2000, almost all of which were completely wrong. For example, it predicted that we’d have no nurses, waitresses, watch repairmen, or shoes makers, because our entire population would have become white collar and wealthy. Even for 1964, this article is crazy.

Fun note: Two weeks before that article was written, the Beatles made history (surprise) as the first band to take over all of the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Women’s Foundation joins ‘A Partnership for Women’s Prosperity’…MoCo supporting young farmers…Fairfax executive warns of agency cuts [News, 8.7.12]

COMMUNITY | Washington Area Women’s Foundation announced that it has joined five other women’s funds from across the nation for a joint-venture called A Partnership for Women’s Prosperity. The partnership is supported through funding from the Walmart Foundation and designed to allow participants to share best practices, scale up successful models and programs, and find solutions to common problems. (WAWF, 8/7)

ENVIRONMENT/WORKFORCE | Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has announced a new program that will train aspiring farmers and place them on private land to grow crops and livestock. (WaPo, 8/7) And now I have this stuck in my head.

EDUCATION | The Hudson Institute’s Peter Meyer considers a long-running debate: do we have to “cure the poor before we can educate them” or educate them before we can cure poverty? He believes that there is a clear answer. (HuffPo, 8/7)

- Last week, WRAG partnered with Arabella Advisors for a session on impact investing. Folks from the Consumer Health Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and Living Cities talked about how they are shifting their perspectives to embrace impact investing and maximize change. Rebekah recaps the event here. (WG Daily, 8/7)

- What happens when you mix venture capitalists, funders, and entrepreneurs? The Chronicle writes a story about it! And they also develop interesting ideas. (Chronicle, 8/7)

BUDGETS | Fairfax County Executive Edward Long has issued a memo to county employees telling them to be prepared for agency cuts over the next two years. (WaPo, 8/7)

TRANSIT | MoCo has been awarded $40 million for transportation improvements related to Walter Reed’s move to Bethesda. (WAMU, 8/7) Jet packs, please. Because MD 355 is not getting any wider.

POLITICS | This is borderline gossip, but since it has been confirmed…well, what the heck. Mayor Gray’s chief of staff met with the crisis management expert who advised Monica Lewinsky, Sen. Larry Craig, ineffective quarterback Michael Vick, and even thespian Wesley Snipes. In the spirit of transparency, the Gray administration admits the meeting took place, but that the adviser “has no role in the administration, paid or otherwise.” (HuffPo, 8/7) Let me emphasize, “no role.” They were probably talking about the weather.

I won’t link directly to the video since it contains some profanity, but if you run a Google search for “Irish Olympic commentator,” you’ll find links to a laugh-til-you-cry video. The Irish commentator speaks his mind while watching a sailing race – a sport about which he knows nothing. Again, fair warning, there is some profanity.

In G-rated territory, here’s a spectacular video of the world-record breaking group skydive. Wait until they get into formation and then disperse.

What if we spent Olympic level funding on fighting poverty?…Voucher program supports 300 new students…Successful teen pregnancy program faces funding problem [News, 8.6.12]

POVERTY | Opinion: Mark Bergel, executive director of nonprofit A Wider Circle, asks – What if D.C. made an Olympic effort to end poverty? (WaPo, 8/4) Bergel considers how much money is being poured into the Olympics:

So here’s my question: If we were prepared as a community to mobilize the region’s resources and fund the premier athletic event in the world, why can’t we make the same commitment to house our homeless neighbors, feed hungry families and clothe young and old in our community? If our local government and the private sector were prepared to provide beds, healthy meals and showers for athletes from around the world, why do so many among us not have a bed, a healthy meal or a shower?

It’s an interesting premise, and it can be applied to a lot of other things. What if we took the profits from just one blockbuster movie and used them to fight poverty? What if the federal government didn’t throw away hundreds of millions of dollars on obviously dumb investments like Solyndra and spent it on fighting poverty instead?

And if we had the necessary resources, would we actually be able to end poverty? Bergel says yes. What do you folks think?

Related: As it so happens, organizers are considering bidding to have the Olympics in DC/Baltimore in 2024. (WTOP, 8/6)

- About 300 new students have been awarded private school education vouchers as part of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. (WAMU, 8/6)

- Montgomery schools expand autism services (WaPo, 8/6)

- Editorial: Evaluating the District’s teachers (WaPo, 8/5) “Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson is on solid ground in raising the standard for what it means to be effective.”

TEEN PREGNANCY | The District has had a lot of success with its New Heights program for teens who are expecting or have children. It is designed to keep those teens in school while connecting them to critical services like welfare, health care, and child care. With federal funding, the program expanded to 15 locations – but a cut off in federal money is threatening 13 locations.

As the program faces financial trouble, it has a strong advocate in D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, who herself struggled to stay in school as a teen mother in D.C. (Examiner, 8/6)

LISTS | The Nonprofit Times has released its annual Power & Influence Top 50 for nonprofit leaders across the nation. (NPT, 8/6) I think I was probably ranked 51st. If only that Bill Gates hadn’t gotten in my way…

LOCAL | Poor response rates to P.G. emergency calls under scrutiny (Examiner, 8/6) In Capitol Heights, for example, more than 30 percent of calls don’t get a response within a minute.

BUDGETS | Here’s a list of the ten states receiving the most federal funding per capita. It isn’t clear if D.C. was considered, but Maryland and Virginia rank third and second, respectively. (247WallSt, 8/6)

FINAL FRONTIER | NASA’s Curiosity rover landed a little after 1:30am ET today. It was surprisingly exciting and tense to watch the room full of NASA operators as they navigated the incredibly difficult landing. Their reaction to the landing was absolutely priceless – watch this from about the 2:30 mark. And then, amidst the celebrations, Curiosity began sending us pictures from another planet. Wow.

Back on earth, other impressive things have been happening. Usain Bolt cruised in to another Olympic record in the 100 meter sprint. So, he’s gotten faster with age. And, shortly before, South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius challenged our conception of what it means to be disabled as he competed in the 400 meter semifinals. 

Hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

- Christian

White House profiles Washington AIDS Partnership…WRAG releases new giving report…United Way seeks to have greater impact through new policies [News, 7.30.12]

On its website, the White House profiles the really great work that the Washington AIDS Partnership is doing with its Positive Pathways program. Positive Pathways is supported by the Social Innovation Fund and trains community health workers to identify and connect with out-of-care women living with HIV. From the blog:

During the first eight months of implementation, the Washington AIDS Partnership contacted 2,367 individuals and enrolled 268 people who had been out of care. With additional funding from the Social Innovation Fund, the program aims to enroll 500 more people.

GIVING | Today, WRAG released the latest edition of Our Region, Our Giving. The report looks at local funders’ giving and assets, as well as nonprofits that have received the most funding from our region’s funders and funding trends by issue area. Read the report here.

PHILANTHROPY | The United Way for the National Capital Area has announced a new giving strategy focused on increasing impact by supporting larger, high-performing nonprofits. The change requires nonprofits to raise more than $50,000 annually in order to qualify for funding, and that threshold potentially cuts funding for as many as 200 smaller nonprofits. Though the new policies are controversial, the Nonprofit Roundtable’s Chuck Bean says (WaPo, 7/30):

It’s a good move…It’ll enable them to focus on high-performing organizations. It won’t be without pain.

NONPROFITS | The Capital Area Food Bank has opened up a massive new distribution center – the size of two football fields – that features kitchens, warehouse storage space, and loading docks for trucks to serve more than 700 nonprofits and food pantries. According to the Post, the food bank has seen local need increase from 23 million pounds of food a year at the start of the recession to 33 million now.

The project’s capital campaign was headed by philanthropists Donald E. Graham, J.W. Marriott Jr., and Abe Polin, and construction was launched thanks to a $5 million gift from the Carlyle Group’s Bill Conway. He says (WaPo, 7/29):

I think it’s great…It’s too bad this huge need exists….We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re making progress.

- According to a new survey from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, nonprofits don’t really pay much attention to their funders’ social media. (Chronicle, 7/26)

AGING-HIV/AIDS | With big improvements in drugs and access to care, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is creating a new demographic – aging HIV-positive adults. By 2020, more than half of Americans living with the disease will be over 50. Studies are finding that afflictions that typically affect much older adults are targeting HIV-positive adults in their 50s. (WTOP, 7/27)

EDUCATION | D.C. public and charter schools show gains in math scores (WaPo, 7/26)

YOUTH…| A new study finds that the transition from child to adult is happening later in life than it used to. The “emerging adult” phase now takes place from 18-29. (WTOP, 7/30) Oh good. One way or another, I will have emerged as an adult in five months!

I’m in full Olympics mode, how about you? For example, I’ll probably have an eviction notice on my door when I get home due to all of the screaming I did during the men’s 4×100 swimming relay last night. And also due to all of the cursing I did after we finished second to France.

Oh, and is there anything more majestic than John William’s Olympic Fanfare? It’s so good!

If the games aren’t for you, then maybe you’ll enjoy this interesting PBS video about the evolution of viral videos.

Corporate giving up 4% … Maryland has lost more jobs than any other state … Arlington streetcar moving forward [News, 7.24.12]

PHILANTHROPY | In a special report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, giving by major companies nationwide rose by 4% in 2011. However, amid concerns about the economy, most companies are not planning on giving any more in 2012. Among the top ten givers were WRAG members Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup.

ECONOMY | Maryland has lost more jobs in 2012 than any other state in the country. (Washington Times, 7/23)

Related: Virginia job losses from Federal cuts may be worse than predicted. (WBJ, 7/20)

TRANSIT | Very early this morning, (or late last night, depending on how you see things), the Arlington County Board voted to follow the County staff’s recommendation and approve the streetcar as the preferred mode of transit along Columbia Pike. (ArlNow, 7/24) The street car is linked to Arlington’s Columbia Pike Area Neighborhoods Plan, which would seek to redevelop the area while preserving existing affordable housing. As you might recall, the issue of streetcars vs. articulated buses has become an issue of some controversy. And call me a geek, but the story of the original extent of the region’s streetcar network, and how the region lost their streetcars in the first place, is fascinating.

HIV/AIDS | Lots of great coverage of this issue thanks to the International AIDS Conference being in town, but here’s a highlight: “In 2005, 6 percent of all babies in the United States born with HIV were from Washington, D.C. But there’s been some progress; there hasn’t been a baby born with HIV in the District since 2009 because of better screening and medical advances.” (WAMU, 7/23)

EDUCATION | In David Alpert’s continuing series, he asks, “What could DC do to encourage diversity in schools?” (GGW, 7/23)

POLITICS | In a follow-up to yesterday’s story, the D.C. Housing Authority is trying to figure out how the Gray campaign got their hands on public housing lists in the first place. (WaPo, 7/23)

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, died yesterday of pancreatic cancer. It’s a great embarrassment that it took the U.S. twenty years longer to send a woman into space than it took the U.S.S.R.

She was 32 when she took her first space flight, almost the same age I am now. Watching her and the succession of women who came after her in my childhood, I always thought I would go into space myself. It seems pretty unlikely at this point. But with the mission to Mars seemingly moving forward, maybe my daughter will make it!

On another note, can those who have seen both Avengers and the Batman movie please weigh in on this controversy? I’m sure Christian will have something to say about it when he gets back.

- Robin

Rick Moyers on board lessons from UVA…Gray to chair Chesapeake cleanup council…Report says Maryland lost 31,000 wealthy residents [News, 7.10.12]

NONPROFITS | In his latest Against the Grain column, the Meyer Foundation’s Rick Moyers analyzes the recent University of Virginia turmoil and says that big mistakes made by the university board offer a lesson for nonprofits (Chronicle, 7/9):

For board members of all types of nonprofits, this episode should serve as a cautionary tale about what can go wrong when a board and its leaders are not clear about their roles. Trouble often erupts when people forget that boards govern, board members do not.

Related: Here’s an old article from the Nonprofit Quarterly about how personalities affect boards. (NPQ, 2003)

ENVIRONMENT | District Mayor Vincent Gray has been chosen as the new chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, a group of the region’s officials dedicated to protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.  The council is another great example of the power of regionalism. (Examiner, 7/10)

HEALTH | Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius writes a defense of the Affordable Healthcare Act and offers facts to counter three attacks on the bill – about costs, the burden on small businesses, and the impact on Medicare. (WaPo, 7/10)

WEALTH | A new study from Change Maryland – an anti-tax group – finds that a net 31,000 wealthy individuals left the state between 2007 and 2010, when Gov. O’Malley’s “millionaire’s tax” was in effect. The group says that the tax cost the state $1.7 billion in lost tax revenue. On the flipside, the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute says taxes weren’t the drivers of the exodus, and new residents offset most of the exiting ones. (CNBC, 7/10)

POLITICS | It must be pretty easy to be a local politics reporter. All you have to do is recycle the same story and switch the names. This week’s conspiracy, fraud, and campaign finance violation charges go to former Vincent Gray donor/aide Eugenia Harris. (WAMU, 7/9)

LOCAL | Due to damage from the earthquake, the Washington Monument will need to be scaffolded (again) and likely won’t reopen until 2014. (DCist, 7/10) 2014? Who is managing this repair? Metro?

CORRECTION | For those of you who get the Daily via email, I forgot to add the hyperlink to Pablo Eisenberg’s article yesterday. Here it is. Sorry for the confusion.

When Paris ran out of room for cemeteries, officials dug up graves and moved the bones deep underground into the city’s extensive network of catacombs. I had a chance to visit recently, and it was a strange but impressive experience.

Well, it seems that Hong Kong is also facing an overcrowding problem, so designers have suggested unique alternative. Floating graves. Or really, a floating ship of graves – complete with a food court and worship areas. Very innovative.

Economic crisis widens the racial finance gap…DMV ranks as one of the best for the creative class…Leggett’s support for Baker’s casino plan benefits the whole region [News, 7.9.12]

EQUITY | A Washington Post analysis of mortgage disclosure data finds a massive credit gap between black and white Americans:

The implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans…They disproportionately held subprime mortgages during the housing boom and are facing foreclosure in outsize numbers. That is raising fears among consumer advocates, academics and federal regulators that the credit scores of black Americans have been systematically damaged, haunting their financial futures.

Though the article doesn’t mention it for some reason, the corresponding data charts appear to show that Hispanics have fared about the same as blacks – at least in terms of loan rates, home equity change, and wealth. (WaPo, 7/9)

CREATIVITY | Ten years ago, Richard Florida wrote about the rise of the creative class in America – people across all sectors who “create for a living.” Florida has revised his book with new statistics ranking the country’s highest concentrations of the creative class. Our region ranks third with an impressive 46.8% of our workforce being part of the creative class. (Atlantic, 7/9)

REGION | As debate continues about the proposed Prince George’s County casino, County Executive Rushern Baker is getting support from his next door neighbor, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. Leggett praised Baker’s efforts to explain the economic benefits of the plan, and WRAG President Tamara Copeland points out that Leggett’s support is an important demonstration of regionalism:

Ike Leggett certainly didn’t need to voice his support for the project – and he could have even opposed it on the grounds that a casino in Prince George’s County would draw entertainment dollars away from Montgomery. Instead, his support offers leverage for Baker’s economic argument. A more prosperous Prince George’s would most certainly benefit Montgomery County as well. A favorite adage continues to ring true – a rising tide in Prince George’s raises boats across the entire region.

PHILANTHROPY | Pablo Eisenberg has a theory about how funders can promote democracy – buy local newspapers (Chronicle, 7/9):

Rich donors could individually or collectively buy ailing newspapers to make certain that they continue their service as publicly minded information providers and watchdogs. Perhaps the most effective strategy might be for wealthy philanthropists to purchase the papers and convert them to nonprofit institutions…

Excellent idea. Eisenberg goes on to condemn “unaccountable institutions and corrupt politics” and suggests that local newspapers protect the free flow of information.

As a pop culture tangent (sorry, I’m a nerd), it is no coincidence that Superman - who stands for truth, justice, and the American way – works for a newspaper.

HEALTH | Deal consolidates P.G. emergency rooms (Examiner, 7/9)

EDUCATION | The Examiner breaks down the region’s charter schools by jurisdiction. As charters thrive in the District, experts say that Maryland and Virginia both have some of the worst laws governing charters in the entire country. (Examiner, 7/7)

It seems that we’ve finally (if temporarily) escaped the inferno! Congratulations are in order to all of us for surviving the heat wave. Now that we can enjoy being outside again, Summer Nights from Grease seems like an appropriate anthem – especially since somebody recreated the movie scene with Legos.

And a question for all of you. The legendary Ernerst Borgnine passed away at the ripe age of 95 this weekend – what was your favorite role of his? Mine was Dutch Engstrom in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.


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