Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday News Bombs

We live in interesting times, readers. Take a look at some of the breaking news from the last few days ...

Reorganization

On January 23, the board of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA)  elected a new chairman and vice chairman.  Derek Hyra will serve as the new chairman, replacing Melvin Miller who has served since 2000, while Merrick Malone will fill the vice chairman's spot. 

Recovery

Alexandria police were called yesterday to an abandoned home in Ft. Washington, Maryland as Prince George's County law enforcement officials investigated a tip about a body found in a well.

According broadcast news reports, it will take some time for local police to shore up the well, which is sited in a remote location, so the body can be retrieved and identified.

News reports and the presence of the Alexandria police suggest that these might be the remains of missing activist Lenny Harris, whose car was found last year in PG County after his disappearance.

Revolving Door

Alexandria City Public Schools announced yesterday that Jefferson-Houston Chief Executive Officer Stephen Wilkins will be leaving soon to take another job.

Mr. Wilkins, who wore multiples hats at ACPS -- including Transformation Officer for T.C. Williams High School and Project Director for the Total Compensation Review -- will serve as Chief Operating Officer at the DeKalb County, Georgia school district.

Curious how ACPS officials blamed constantly reshuffling leadership at Jefferson-Houston for the school's academic woes under former Superintendent Rebecca Perry but have the same turnover problem on their hands now. Readers will remember that former J-H principal Kimberly Graves also departed last year, taking a post in the ACPS central office.

Recriminations

ACPS Chief Financial Officer Jean Sina announced his resignation at Tuesday's School Board meeting, telling them he had accepted a position with the City of Alexandria to help implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

However, Mr. Sina then sent ACPS staffers a letter informing them of his departure due to health issues which he blamed on an allegedly hostile work environment and issues with his supervisor, Deputy Superintendent Margaret Byess.

The Growler has no idea what to make of this. Could Mr. Sina's departure have anything to do with recent reports about lax controls over ACPS capital expenditure processes which have already cost two unnamed ACPS employees their positions? And is it ever a good idea to blast your former boss publicly as you are walking out the door?

The Alexandrianews.org article reports that the City is now reconsidering its job offer.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Miller is out! This news is cause for celebration. Miller is such a phony, favoring Bland's racially segregated multifamily buildings.

Anonymous said...

"Miller is such a phony, favoring Bland's racially segregated multifamily buildings."

What about Jefferson Houston School? He's no angel.

Anonymous said...

The recent news out of the school system begs the question "how much is this costing us?" Both in dollars and in educational cost. The constant changing of leadership at Jefferson Houston directly impacts teacher morale, which in turn impacts student performance. Also, how are the constant changes within the ACPS central office impacting the district as a whole? Lately we have seen big news about mismanagement of CIP funds, resignation of staff from key positions, and now the allegation of the creation of a hostile work environment. Examination of ACPS student achievement results for the past few years shows that schools have decreased substantially in many academic areas. Alexandria is too small a town to allow this to occur. The Jefferson Houston School Board rep, as well as the other reps on the Board must hear from the citizenry. They must be held accountable and reminded that it is they who truly run the school system.

Anonymous said...

Can I get an amen??!!?! Was Melvin deposed or did he step down voluntarily? In any event, great news for everyone. Long, long, long overdue.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised there was no comment on this - it looks like Bland had a change whereby they now are going to "unscatter" some of it.

http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=356875&paper=59&cat=104

Protecting the Investment
Unscattering scattered-site housing at Bland.

By Michael Lee Pope
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 Bookmark and Share

For years, the trend in "scattered-site" housing has been to split public housing from market rate housing. Now things are moving in a different direction, at least in Alexandria.

At their December public hearing, members of the Alexandria City Council voted to approve a new development special-use permit for one block of the massive James Bland redevelopment. Previous plans for the block in question, which faces the east side of Henry Street between First Street and Montgomery Street, called for a large multi-family building that mixed market-rate housing with public housing. After council members approved the original design in 2008, the investors decided they wanted a separate building for the market rate units.

"They’re interested in protecting their investment," explained Melvin Miller, chairman of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

The revised plan approved Saturday has three buildings instead of one, two public-housing facilities without elevators and one separate market-rate building that will be much more high-end. The unscattered-site housing development will need to apply for tax credits in March, so council members were facing a time crunch to approve the amendment on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean they were thrilled with the proposal. Councilman Paul Smedberg said the revised plan watered down the architecture by moving toward something city planners call "warehouse vernacular."

"There’s nothing of interests at all on these buildings," said Smedberg. "I’m sick of always having to compromise on architecture."

Although council members voted for approval, members of the authority will be working with staff to see if they can add some spice to the architectural details of the building.

Anonymous said...

Good times!

http://alextimes.com/2012/01/shots-fired-in-old-towns-hopkins-tancil-neighborhood/

What began as a possible police standoff ended quietly Thursday afternoon after the department’s special operations team entered an empty public housing unit in the Hopkins-Tancil neighborhood.

Police received an anonymous report of a gunshot fired inside the 306 Hopkins Court house earlier in the day. Authorities clamped down on the neighborhood, diverting traffic around the block, and brought in their heavily armed special operations team. Residents in nearby Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority buildings were evacuated and others were told to stay inside.

But when officers broke into the home shortly before 2 p.m. – following repeated demands for anyone inside to give themselves up – they found no one, said Ashley Hildebrandt, department spokeswoman. There was no evidence of any crime committed and officers do not believe there is a gunman on the lose, she said.

Authorities wrapped up their investigation into the incident Thursday afternoon, Hildebrandt said. She did not know if detectives were looking into the individual behind the anonymous tip.

The incident occurred in a neighborhood familiar to many in the department. Two officers – Cpl. Charles Hill and Officer Andrew Chelchowski – were shot during a hostage crisis in the 300 block of Hopkins Court in March 1989. Hill, suffering a gunshot wound to the head, died shortly afterward. Chelchowski was wounded and died in 1993.

Anonymous said...

Authorities wrapped up their investigation into the incident Thursday afternoon, Hildebrandt said. She did not know if detectives were looking into the individual behind the anonymous tip.

"The incident occurred in a neighborhood familiar to many in the department. Two officers – Cpl. Charles Hill and Officer Andrew Chelchowski – were shot during a hostage crisis in the 300 block of Hopkins Court in March 1989. Hill, suffering a gunshot wound to the head, died shortly afterward. Chelchowski was wounded and died in 1993."

Growler, give us a flippin' break! More Hopkins Tancil/ Chatham Square bs? The report indicates no one was inside the unit but to make the incident sound bigger than it obviously was we are reminded of deadly incidents that occurred more than 10-20 years ago. Hopkins Tancil/Chatham Square's issues pale when compared to the densely packed Bland redevelopment. The question remains why did Miller permit black public housing residents to be resegregated? He's a sell out, sell out, sell out.

Anonymous said...

on another note, part of the mystery about Lenny Harris has been solved...

http://www.alexandrianews.org/2012/01/body-in-pg-well-identified-as-lenny-harris/

While many may not have agreed with Mr. Harris' goals and tactics, no one deserves to be murdered and have their body heartlessly discarded in a well. Prayers go out for his family. It will be interesting to discover the true motive behind this case.

Anonymous said...

"It will be interesting to discover the true motive behind this case."

Couldn't agree more! So far the city has been hyping his celebrity and not much more. No one deserves a violent end. Was he trying to help rehabilitate an inmate who became angry? Was it related to his financial woes? Let's hope the facts are honestly reported as Queen and Fayette is buzzing.

Mike said...

A woman was nearly stomped and or stabbed to death on the 1000 block of Queen Street on Friday night. I have no idea of her condition because it hasn't been reported anywhere. When she left in ambulance on Friday night her condition was described as going either way. There's been too much discussion about the waterfront and schools and other things that while important are of a secondary nature. The first priority is always safety and it seems to me that Parker Gray has had quite a bit of serious violence in the last calendar year.