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Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 13, Issue 2, February 2007
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

President's Message, George Clark
Officers and Board
Tracking System That Won't Track, Dino Druidi
20 Questions for the Board of Elections and Ethics, Phil Blair
Look Who's Talking: February-March Testimony by the Citizens Federation
Plan B: Complacency Vs. Homeland Security, Anne Renshaw
Good People Now Gone: Barbara Simons and Guy Gwynne
Firehouse News: No News Is Not Good News
CitizenAtlas: The DC Government Does Know "Where You Live," After All, Sally MacDonald
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates


Tuesday, February 27, 2007
6:30 p.m.

Phil Blair
DC Statehood-Green Party
Can the Board of Elections Count?
Charles J. Willoughby
D.C. Inspector General

1201 Seventeenth Street, NW
(At M Street)


On February 14—Valentine’s Day—Guy Gwynne, Mr. Federation, passed away. As you know from last month’s newsletter, Guy led a remarkable life before assuming his prominent role in civic affairs in D.C. And he gave so much to this City and to the Federation—including making this newsletter the success it has been. He will always be missed.

A special luncheon in Guy’s honor will be held at the DACOR House, 1801 F St., NW at 12 noon on Tuesday, March 20, 2007. Guy hosted so many wonderful affairs at this club, and we will continue that tradition with memories from all of you about Guy. The traditional sherry will be served. Please RSVP to me at 202-331-3200 or The Luncheon will cost $25 per person.

We lost another stalwart—Barbara Simons, my predecessor as Forest Hills Association president—the same February 14 day. Barbara had just agreed to act for the Federation in the current PEPCO rate hike case. Ann Loikow will continue to safeguard our interests there.

As you’ll read elsewhere, the Federation is very active in the current rounds of hearings at the Council. At our last Assembly meeting we voted unanimously to ask the Council to delay any vote on the school takeover bill until wards 4 & 7 have elected and serving Council members. We believe that all of our citizens deserve having a voting ward councilmember on this issue of such vital importance. We cannot afford to disenfranchise any of our citizens while complaining elsewhere about a lack of voting rights. And I’m pleased to mention that we have pursued this effort jointly with our sister DC Federation of Civic Associations.

A word about upcoming speakers. March 27 will feature the new Director of the Office of Planning, Harriet Tregoning. City Administrator Dan Tangherlini will speak on April 24. Please mark your calendars for these events.

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Patrick Allen, Esq.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants

Allen E. Beach, Treasurer
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Gale Black
Crestwood Citizens Association

George Clark, Esq., President
Forest Hills Citizens Association

Dino J. Drudi
Michigan Park Citizens Association

Kathryn A. Eckles
Residential Action Coalition

Elizabeth Elliott
Foggy Bottom Association

Carroll Green. Past President
Manor Park Citizens Association

Guy Gwynne
Burleith Citizens Association

James H. Jones, Second Vice President
Crestwood Citizens Association

Ann Loikow, Esq.
Cleveland Park Citizens Association

Sally MacDonald, Secretary
Woodley Park Citizens Association

Ann Renshaw, First Vice President
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Louis Wassel
16th Street Neighborhood Association

A.L. Wheeler, Esq.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants

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Tracking System That Won’t Track
Dino Drudi


At the Federation’s 24 October 2006 assembly meeting, then-Director, E. Michael Latessa, of the Office of Unified Communications addressed the Federation regarding the Emergency 911, Non-emergency 311, and Mayor’s Citywide Call Center systems. Nonemergency 311 is scheduled for integration into the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center. As a mayoral appointee, Latessa had been asked to submit his resignation to afford the incoming administration the opportunity to choose him or its own candidate.

Emergency 911

Under Latessa’s leadership, the police 911 and fire/ EMS 911 staffs have been integrated into a unified staff soon to be at a single location. We will be writing about this aspect of the Call Center in the near future.

Tracking System That Won’t Track

The Mayor’s Citywide Call Center was inaugurated to unify tracking of city service requests covering dozens of subjects from streetlight repair to bulk trash collection. The system, accessible during expanded business hours (7AM-7PM workdays) and on-line all the time asks pertinent questions recommended by the agencies and generates a “tracking number.” While the tracking number gives the impression the service request will be tracked, in fact, it is not.

In Michigan Park, a neighborhood that has recently experienced an unprecedented crime spike, I reported a number of malfunctioning streetlights during the summer. Just after Labor Day I called to check on their status and learned there was no change in status for even those reported almost a month earlier. The malfunctioning streetlights remained that way, so I called back again just before Columbus Day weekend, whereupon I learned there was still no change in status.

After forwarding the list to the City Council’s Public Works Committee—then chaired by Councilmember Carol Schwartz—and asking the Call Center to follow-up, DDOT staff contacted me with questions about one of the requests (“Is that a bridge light?” meaning a light on the Michigan Avenue bridge span itself).

In the course of conversation, the DDOT staff admitted that the problem likely is the inability of the city-wide call center’s computer system to “talk to” DDOT’s computer system, so the tracking numbers get generated, but DDOT staff members don’t find out about them and consequently don’t generate work orders. Only when some hapless and frustrated citizen follows up and the unfulfilled tracking numbers are elevated to a supervisory level (human intervention) does the possibility of action occur. After the call center supervisor contacts DDOT’s higher-level management, the unfulfilled requests (only) then come to the attention of the staff who initiate the work orders.

DDOT is trying to resolve the technology issues so the two systems “talk to each other.” When pressed about the Citywide Call Center’s system-generated inspection due dates and resolution due dates—clearly implying the requested repair is being tracked—Latessa insisted these parameters are imposed on the call center by the agencies. The call center itself does not routinely track the calls or follow up with the agencies to assure completion.

The Call Center’s failure to acknowledge the misleading character of the information implying tracking and its lack of commitment to trying to improve these negatives in the near future render it something of a sham. When citizens contact the Call Center, they should follow up by transmitting the tracking number to their agency contact or the relevant city council committee for follow through. In other words, they need to make two telephone calls whereas before they only made one.

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20 Questions for the Board of Elections and Ethics
Philip Blair, Jr.

I have reviewed the certified results of the September 12, 2006, primary elections as reported on your website (listed below). I now have some questions for you.

  1. How did Eleanor Holmes Norton get 578 votes for Delegate to Congress in my precinct, Precinct 70 (which votes at Burroughs Elementary School in Ward 5), if the Democratic turnout was only 490 voters? How did she get the votes of 118% of the eligible voters? Or, even better, 334 votes in Precinct 99 in Ward 6, when the turnout was 279 voters? (That’s 120% more than everybody.)  
    We have closed primaries in the District of Columbia: three parties, the Democratic, Republican,and D.C. Statehood-Green parties are involved in the primaries. Only registered members of those parties at the close of registration (30 days before the election) are allowed to vote in the primaries.
  2. Again in Precinct 70, you report the turnout for the entire precinct as 639. The breakdown by party is: 490 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 6 Statehood-Greens. If the party figures are correct, there are 134 extra voters who appear in the total turnout. How is it that in this precinct, and in others as well, your turnout figures literally do not add up? 
    Your certified results contain mathematical impossibilities that are apparent in even a cursory reading of the results.
  3. Do you have auditing procedures to catch such errors before they are reported in your official results?
  4. Was the Board of Elections aware of these problems before I brought them to your attention in a series of six requests for investigation delivered to you between October 6 and November 17, 2006? If not, why not? If so, do you knowingly publish defective results, leaving it to the candidates or the voters to discover these problems themselves? 
    District regulations (Chapter 8, pp. 5062-5071 of the D.C. Register) require that certain ballot accounting procedures be followed in reporting election results. For example: spoiled ballots must be counted, and this count must be reconciled with the number of used and unused ballots, to guard against obvious possibilities for fraud or error.
  5. Were these regulations followed? Is there documentation of this process? Are there shortcomings or gaps in these regulations that the Council of the District should correct?
  6. How can winners be determined if mathematical discrepancies are not identified, investigated, and resolved?  
    There are two sets of records that might be used to resolve discrepancies. The first is the pollbooks, the registers of qualified voters, which almost every voter must sign in order to vote. (The exceptions are absentee and curbside voters, and even in most of these cases the pollbooks have a notation of the fact that the voter has voted.) 
    The second source is a database that lists all qualified voters and their voting history. This database, issued on a CD, is available for public purchase. 
    I used the CD database and also personally examined all the pollbooks for the Statehood-Green and Republican primaries in Ward 5. These records fail to resolve the original issue. They even expose new problems.
  7. In the case of Statehood-Green voters in Ward 5, why is it that in 16 of the 139 cases, the pollbook records do not match the CD voting history records? And why doesn’t either set of records match the certified results? 
    Scrutiny of these additional documents does make it clear that something was amiss in the conduct or in the reporting of the primaries (or both). I compared the information from the voter history CDs (which permitted me to identify by name each person who actually voted) with the turnout figures in the certified results. There were problems at all levels of aggregation. 
    In the Statehood-Green primary, in Precinct 66 (Ward 5, Backus Junior High) Statehood-Green
    voters outnumbered reported Statehood-Green votes by a ratio of 6 to 1. In Ward 5 as a whole, 189 Statehood-Green voters voted, but the reported turnout was only 139, a loss of 36%. In the city as a whole, the loss was 32%. But in Ward 7 the loss was 49% and in Ward 8, 59%!
  8. How can this be? How can the number of voters who sign in to vote be so much larger than the reported turnout? 
    I have received a partial answer to that question from Mr. Kenneth McGhie, the General Counsel of the Board of Elections and Ethics. In the case of Ward 5 Statehood-Green voters, Mr. McGhie wrote me on November 3, 2006, “the discrepancy is attributable to the fact that at least 45 (and probably 51) SGP voters in Ward 5 improperly voted Democratic Party ballots.” 
    Mr. McGhie’s explanation confirms that internal discrepancies in the certified results (and mismatches among these results and other records) did reflect a failure of procedures. The election was spoiled by administrative incompetence, and no recount procedures can now repair that failure.
  9. What remedies are available to candidates or parties whose elections are bungled by the Board of Elections? (Full disclosure: This is of personal interest to me. The certified results had me losing a primary for the Ward 5 Councilmember by 7 votes, while the votes of 50 Statehood-Green voters were not counted in our primary.)
  10. Was the "loss" of the votes of 32% of the Statehood-Green voters city-wide caused by the same factors of incompetent election administration which caused the problem in Ward 5?
  11. And does a similar explanation also hold for the Republican primary, in which, city-wide, the votes of 26% of voters were lost in the final count? (In some wards the losses were even greater: 29% in Ward 1, 31% in Ward 4, 40% in Ward 5 and 43% in Ward 7.)
  12. How can you reassure District Republicans that these problems will not affect them in the future? Or the Republican member of Council who chairs the Council Committee on Government Operations, which is responsible for your budget and oversight? Or the Republican members of Congress who might also assert their own authority in any aspect of District government? 
    The loss of Statehood-Green and Republican votes would perhaps explain a countervailing gain of Democratic votes (that is, more votes than voters). Comparing the CD voting histories of all Democratic voters with the reported turnouts confirms that this is the case, but to a startling degree. Wandering Statehood Greens and Republicans cannot explain the extent of the Democratic overvote. 
    In Precinct 70 there were only 9 Republican and 6 Statehood-Green voters. Those 15 persons clearly cannot account for the fact that Mrs. Norton, her opponent, and some write-ins got a total of 609 votes, 119 (or 24%) more than the reported turnout of 490.
  13. How is it that across the city, there were 103,656 Democratic voters recorded in the CD database of voting histories, but a turnout of 106,288 Democrats reported in the certified results. This discrepancy (2.5%) was almost doubled in Ward 6 (4.7% and Ward 8 (4.9%), and in one precinct, Precinct 82 in Ward 6, the discrepancy was 37%. Are such discrepancies considered to be within the normal range of tolerability?  
  14. Has the BOEE investigated the possibility that fraud in the Democratic primary might explain these disturbing facts? 
    Voters in the District are given their choice of using either paper ballots (which are then counted electronically by a scanner) or computerized voting machines provided to the city by the Sequoia Voting Systems company. The majority of District voters choose the paper ballots, but city-wide 20% or so of the voters used the Sequoia machines.
  15. Has the BOEE investigated the possibility that malfunction of the Sequoia machines contributed to the problems of "lost" and "found" votes which have been documented? 
    The Sequoia machines are designed in such a way that they do not produce an auditable independent record. 
    On May 1, 2007, special elections will be held in Wards 4 and 7 to replace ward Councilmembers called to higher offices. Wards 3 and 4 will also elect a new member of the Board of Education. There may even be a city-wide referendum on Home Rule Charter amendments concerning school governance.
  16. Given the history of problems in vote-counting, will the BOEE forbid (or at least discourage) the use of the Sequoia computerized voting machines? Otherwise, we have no possibility of a verifiable audit of contested election results. After all, in low-turnout, special-election ward races in which more than a dozen candidates might well be competing, even a few dozen votes might mean the margin of victory for a candidate. 
    I have presented the Board with a precinct-byprecinct breakdown of the severity of vote loss in the Republican and Statehood-Green primaries.
  17. Do you intend to use this information to identify and even remove personnel in charge of election administration in particularly problematic precincts and wards? Or is the problem higher up in the hierarchy? 
    The previous questions have all been based on issues of mathematical consistency. In addition there are aspects of the reported results that are statistically very improbable, so improbable as to raise questions of data tampering.
  18. How can it be that the CD database reports exactly the same total number of voters in Ward 3 (14,786) as the total turnout figure cited in the certified results? 
    Ordinarily, of course, this exact match would be taken as evidence of success in vote counting and be an occasion for praise. But an exact match occurred in only one of the 17 precincts in Ward 3 (the only such precinct of 142 in the entire city). The exact match at the Ward level only occurred because an excess of votes in 3 precincts precisely counterweighted a deficit in 13 other precincts.
    Finally, my research has been in the hands of the Board of Elections for months now. (And it is also available to the public at the website of the D.C. Statehood-Green Party, at the web address below.) Despite the Board’s early assurances, and even though I brought these issues directly to the attention of the Board members (although the Chair was absent) at their December 12, 2006, meeting, the Board has been either unwilling or unable to resolve these serious problems.
  19. Will the Board of Elections and Ethics cooperate with an independent audit of the conduct and results of the September Primary and the General Election of November? 
    Such an audit should be the subject of Council hearings and should probably be entrusted to the Inspector General of the District of Columbia. The IG may well need outside technical advice in this complicated area, especially when it comes to a review of statistical, probabilistic evidence. 
    Mayor Fenty’s appointment of a new Chair of the Board and Council’s confirmation of that nominee should reflect the seriousness of the mismanagement of the September primary, if my research can be confirmed and extended.
    Mistakes can happen; to err is human. But refusal to admit that problems do exist and refusal to address legitimate concerns raised by citizens amounts to a coverup. This is unethical. It is intolerable.
  20. Will the two sitting members of the independent Board of Election and Ethics voluntarily resign if independent research confirms the accuracy of the research I have presented to the Board?

BOEE certified results of the September primary (a report dated 26 September), are on-line at: mary_2006_results.shtm.

My six (6) requests for investigation and two (2) responses from the BoEE General Counsel are online at the D.C.Statehood-Green party website, at

Phil’s e-mail: 

February-March Testimony by the Citizens Federation

George Clark: February 14, Committee on Public Works and the Environment re. WASA.

George Clark: February 20, Mayor’s Education Plan.

George Clark: February 22, Committee of the Whole. FY ’06 and FY ’07 Spending and Performance by the Office of Zoning and (against) the Geoffrey H. Griffis (Zoning Commission) Confirmation Resolution of 2007.

Anne Renshaw: February 23, Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Performance Hearing.

Ann Loikow: February 26, Public Service Commission, on proprietary information.

Dino Drudi: March 5, Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations on the Board of Elections & Ethics.

Anne Renshaw and/or Dino Drudi: March 5, Committee on Public Works and the Environment on the District Department of Transportation.

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PLAN B: Complacency vs. Homeland Security
Anne M. Renshaw

OK. So the nation’s capital has not experienced (thank goodness) another catastrophic event after 9-11. It could and probably will happen. Is the city ready? Are you prepared?

The Citizens Federation caught up with Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, at a recent civic event on “International Cooperation in Homeland Security.” We asked Secretary Chertoff about dealing with the public’s seemingly complacent attitude about security. Yes, we report suspicious packages and activities. But are we really prepared for major problems, whether weather or terrorism-related?

Secretary Chertoff said that DHS “can’t predict with precision” re. serious plots. “We do not aim to create excitement. We need to educate the press (which broadcasts breaking news before government announcements); it’s not useful to create hysteria.”

That said, what is your Plan B? Do you know at least two ways to/from your workplace, should a major event cut off your main route home?

Sidestep complacency. Avoid hysteria. Get a map; plot out new and different ways to navigate the city, especially to/from your job. Planning for emergencies is up to us. Are you ready … . or not?

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Good People Now Gone: Barbara Simons and Guy Gwynne

Two Federation stalwarts, Barbara Simons and Guy Gwynne, died on February 14. With their passing, the spirit, energy and passion that both exuded for their communities have been extinguished. It is a profound loss for the city and for all of us who worked closely with Barbara and Guy through the years.

Barbara Simons, past president of the Forest Hills Citizens Association and Ward 3 Democratic activist, passed away suddenly on February 14. She was an attorney who specialized in environmental law. An expert on energy issues, Barbara often testified before the Public Service Commission on behalf of the consumer.

Guy Gwynne, Mr. Federation, also died on February 14. For many years, Guy served as the Federation Newsletter editor and annual banquet chairman. He was a recognized city “fixture,” an expert who was involved in a wide-assortment of city and Burleith activities. We have a great appreciation for the many contributions made by Barbara and Guy to the city they loved. Sadly, two good people have now gone. They will be missed.

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Still no word from Mayor Adrian Fenty about the fate of DC’s vital Emergency Medical Services (EMS) which, for over 15 years, has had an uneasy existence within the DC Fire Department. The Citizens Federation is bothered about this delay. It is not good news for the residents of the city.

Mayor Fenty indicated recently that a decision on EMS (whether a separate service, autonomous bureau within DC Fire or the status quo) will be made once a permanent Fire Chief has been named (within 2-6 months).

The Mayor stated, in an August 2006 interview with The Washington Times that he wanted to “end the city’s 15-year troubled effort to combine EMS operations with those of the fire department.” …Separating EMS from the fire department would allow the city to create “two really well-run agencies and neither agency would have to suffer.”

The Citizens Federation wholeheartedly agrees. EMS should be reorganized as an independent, medically-driven first responder agency. The city needs to move ahead on this issue without further delay. How about it, Mr. Mayor?

CitizenAtlas: The DC Government does know “Where you live,” after all!
Sally MacDonald

Last month I wrote about the problems that new (even long-term) residents have in finding out necessary information about their areas—wards, , precincts, police/school districts, ANCs, etc.

It turns out that the District government does have a service, called CitizenAtlas, a GIS service that easily provides some of that information that would be good for residents to have, perhaps to be included in real estate contracts at the time of sale. Agents would not even have to fill out the form. They (or anyone) can access and simply print out a page from the website.

The address for the page is (there is also a link to it from the front page.) You just type in an address under the tab, aptly enough named “Where you live.”

Many of the categories that I mentioned are there. ANCs are listed, and Gottlieb Simon, of the city’s ANC office is trying to arrange for SMDs to be added to the list.

It is worthwhile for all residents to check it out—and particularly for new residents. It helps to have as much identifying information as possible; old-timers might even discover something new about...where they live!

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CitizenAtlas: The DC Government does know “Where you live,” after all!
Sally MacDonald

Last month I wrote about the problems that new (even long-term) residents have in finding out necessary information about their areas—wards, precincts, police/school districts, ANCs, etc. It turns out that the District government does have a service, called CitizenAtlas, a GIS service that easily provides some of that information that would be good for residents to have, perhaps to be included in real estate contracts at the time of sale. Agents would not even have to fill out the form. They (or anyone) can access and simply print out a page from the website.

The address for the page is (there is also a link to it from the front page.) You just type in an address under the tab, aptly enough named “Where you live.” 

Many of the categories that I mentioned are there. ANCs are listed, and Gottlieb Simon, of the city’s ANC office is trying to arrange for SMDs to be added to the list.

It is worthwhile for all residents to check it out—and particularly for new residents. It helps to have as much identifying information as possible; old-timers might even discover something new about...where they live!

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February 27, 2007
March 27, 2007
April 24, 2007
Awards Banquet, May 16, 2007
June 26, 2007

Memorial Service for Guy Gwynne
12 noon on Tuesday March 20, 2007
DACOR House 1801 F St., NW

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