Political notebook

Storied Washington hotel will briefly be home for the Obama family

January 1, 2009
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President-elect Barack Obama, who vows to change the ways of Washington, has stayed away from the nation's capital during the transition, building his Cabinet in Chicago and vacationing in Hawaii.

But he plans to move to Washington this weekend, and to hit the ground running with meetings next week on reviving the economy, his aides say. That puts him in the vortex of power as the new Congress convenes on Tuesday. It begins work on the economic recovery plan with a hearing by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Wednesday. That same day, President Bush has scheduled a White House lunch for Obama and the former presidents.

The storied, exclusive Hay-Adams hotel, just yards from the White House, will become a temporary "home suite home" for Obama and his family for most of the time before his Jan. 20 inauguration.

With daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, beginning classes Monday at the private Sidwell Friends School, the family needed a place to stay. They inquired about Blair House, the government official guest residence across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, where presidents-elect sometimes stay before taking the oath of office. But it's unavailable, booked solidly through Jan. 15, the Bush administration said.

So after Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their daughters wrap up an extended family vacation at a $9 million rental home in his native Hawaii today, they will trade their house in Chicago for a suite at the Hay-Adams, which sits across Lafayette Square from the White House.

Opened in 1928, the hotel's name comes from two historical figures who lived on the site: John Hay, the private assistant to President Abraham Lincoln and later secretary of state, and Henry Adams, an author and descendant of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.


Educators: Renovations will boost student achievement
WASHINGTON - Barack Obama probably cannot fix every leaky roof and busted boiler in the nation's schools. But educators say his sweeping school modernization program - if he spends enough - could jump-start student achievement.

More children than ever are crammed into aging, run-down schools that need an estimated $255 billion in repairs, renovations, or construction. While the president-elect is likely to ask Congress for only a fraction of that, education specialists say it still could make a big difference.

"The need is definitely out there," said Robert Canavan, chairman of the Rebuild America's Schools coalition, which includes both teachers unions and large education groups. "A federal investment of that magnitude would really have a significant impact."

Obama has given few specifics about his economic recovery plan, which could cost as much as $850 billion over two years. There is no word on how much of that would go to schools.


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