Dear Job Applicants:
Reluctantly, grudgingly, complainingly, Mayor Williams has allowed Robert
Newman to resign as Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Mayor Williams has
explained in today's Washington Post that if he actually had to hold government
employees accountable for doing their jobs well, or for the accuracy of their resumes, or
for following the rules about spending government money, then he would have difficulty
attracting good people to fill the top government jobs. Aw, shucks.
We are coming up to the holiday season, when most government bureaucracies
do their real dirty work, since they think nobody will be paying any attention. In the
days and weeks to come, here are some things to keep your eyes on. What kind of severance
package will Newman receive? Will he get another position in the DC government in two or
three months? What will Mayor Williams do to fill, not only the position of Director of
Parks and Recreation, but the several other key positions that are vacant, some of them
for many months: director of the Department of Public Works, director of the Department of
Human Services, director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the
District's Procurement Officer, and so on. Whom will Williams appoint to his four
appointed positions on the Board of Education? Will the Williams administration develop a
detailed, written plan regarding the future of DC General and the delivery of health
services? (Since DC General will run out of money by the end of February at its current
rate of spending, the administration can either come up with a real plan or just stand by
and see what happens when the hospital goes out of business and the poor and uninsured
have no alternative for health care). The Williams Administration is working on a plan to
split the Department of Human Services into two separate Departments in the first quarter
of this fiscal year, but it has not shared its plan either with the City Council or with
the public in general. What is the plan, and when will the public have a chance to comment
on it? The Administration has also indicated that it may make the Office of Transportation
a separate Department, and take it out of the Department of Public Works. When will the
citizens be told about this, and get a chance to comment on it?
Keep your eyes peeled.
Robert Newman Should Resign
Helen Hagerty, Helenmhag@aol.com
We've heard enough about Mr. Newman and his inability to maintain ball
fields, pay rec employees on time, complete playground renovations, and successfully run
summer programs. Now we have to read about how he has inappropriately spent almost
$200,000! Once again, it's the kids who will ultimately lose while this guy continues to
remain as the Director. $200,000 could pay for four new playgrounds. It's time for Mr.
Newman to resign.
Ill Take One From Column B
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Given the choice of representation in Congress (column A) and paying no
taxes to the Federal Government (column B), I'd opt, in a NY minute, for column B. Sure,
I'd like voting rights here in D.C. but not at the expense of electing Marion Barry to
Congress and Jesse Jackson to the U.S. Senate. And that's a very likely possibility in
this town. If there were some other way that we could get voting rights without having
another layer of inept government on top of the one that we have already, then I'd vote
A New Voice on Campus Plans Take Note
Madelyn Lane, email@example.com
In the October 19 District Extra section of the Washington Post, Sol
S. Shalit, emeritus professor of economics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of
Business, wrote a satirical account of the September 26 BZA hearing on GWU's controversial
10-year campus plan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36902-2000Oct19.html).
This should be required reading for all District Officials, particularly Councilmembers
who have for years facilitated the unrestrained university expansion that has had a major
impact on adjacent communities throughout the city. Professor Shalit's portrayal of the
D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing typifies the constant struggle that our citizens
endure at the hands of a mindless bureaucracy that at best is incompetent to protect our
fragile neighborhoods from encroachment and at worst indifferent to the plight of these
communities. I would even suggest that our Government has been hopelessly corrupted by the
powerful forces of the Federal City Council, of which all of our universities are
prominent members. More importantly, all residents who are interested in campus plans
should refer to the objective analysis presented by Professor Shalit at the September 26
BZA hearing and his follow-up letter to Andrew Altman, Office of Planning (http://www.dcwatch.com/columns/shalit.htm)
which debunk the arguments presented by GWU that neither address the concerns raised by
the Foggy Bottom community nor present valid arguments for continued growth that benefits
the District taxpayer. If ever there was a cogent argument for placing constraints on
university growth and expansion, this brilliant professor has outlined it.
Professor Shalit's remedy concludes that GWU has already achieved
all of its rosy expansion objectives by having staked out the territory, and is fully
aware that times have changed. Its present Plan is merely an end-run attempt to legitimize
the fruit of its aggressive and improper grab and to negotiate the best deal for its
future consolidation. Any OP (Office of Planning) recommendation which calls for freezing
the status quo (to stop the damage) even with severe constraints
while providing the University with flexibility is not a remedy, but a total
victory for the University (its protestations notwithstanding). Such a recommendation
would not only reward the university for its past transgressions and legitimize them, but
would also permanently sentence the community to live with the damage already done, day in
and day out, with no hope of ever reclaiming the neighborhood. While the District is
trying so hard to preserve and revitalize residential communities, the University is
gradually, but systematically, destroying a most desirable and historic residential
neighborhood of this city. This is certainly not their intent, but this is the effect. . .
. The Plan should be rejected, not tinkered with. Instead, GWU should be asked to submit a
new Ten Year Plan containing not just promises of good behavior, but a meaningful
roll-back to its strict prescribed boundaries, coupled with a set of gradually decreasing
enrollment caps to restore Foggy Bottom and welcome GWU back as a good neighbor.
One wonders why, with all of the intellectual talent in our city, we do
not see more of this type of eloquent thought-provoking analysis contributed by private
citizens on behalf of the taxpayer. I believe that if we had more responsible reporting in
our mainstream media we could elevate these important issues to the forefront of
discussions intended to get at some of the major reasons for loss in past years of our
taxpaying population, the decline of stable residential neighborhoods (such as Foggy
Bottom) and the impact on the District's fiscal health and well-being. Let us hope that
our reform-minded government takes heed and reverses some of the more self-destructive
practices of the past. Professor Shalit's arguments appear to be indisputable. Stay tuned.
Fascism in Cardozo-Shaw
Ms. Dorothy Persiflage, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Persiflage is pleased to report that she safely returned to Washington
after a week's business trip to a conference at Disney World. She is also pleased to
report that, while on the trip, her Significant Other obtained and placed several
Bush-Cheney signs in the windows of our home simple, blue-background
signs with a rendering of an American flag. Ms. P thought this added a nice counterpoint
to all the Gore-Lieberman signs about, and showed a commitment to diversity
which really counts, that is to say, of opinion. Ms. Persiflage is sad to report,
therefore, that her enthusiasm for Mr. Bush's character, and desire to head in the
direction of restoring freedom by limiting the role of the Federal Government, is clearly
and unfortunately not shared by all. She herself would never use such language, and so
will simply quote, in its entirety, an unsigned note which someone placed through her
mailbox door opening shortly after the signs went up. This still being a relatively free
country, you may draw your own conclusions.
Hi there! You have a whole hell of a lot of nerve displaying your
right-wing poison in a neighborhood like this. But at least now we know who you
really are! Fuck you and your racist, homo-phobic, anti-woman, anti-environment
'candidate.' (Emphases in the original).
A tout ta' Do
Fascism in Cardozo-Shaw Reply
Karen Ford, email@example.com
Dear Do, While I am supporting Gore/Lieberman, I applaud your stand for
diversity and against your neighborhood's tyranny of the majority. Display
your signs proudly, for they are beacons of light in your neighborhood in many ways (and
so are you !).
[Miss Persiflage copied her original message to Ms. Ford, who copied her
reply to themail; this is why both messages appear in the same issue. Gary Imhoff]
Most Creative Zoning Solution
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Tower Corporation, who is building the 756 foot digital
TV/telecommunications tower in Tenleytown despite the permit being revoked, is a finalist
for the Most Creative Zoning Solution award in the Annual Excellence in
Business Awards of the Tower and Site Development Industry. Although Carlynn Fuller,
Acting Director of DCRA, notified American Tower on Oct. 6 (Friday) that the permit would
be revoked as of 5 pm Oct. 10 (Tuesday after Columbus Day), they accelerated construction
and worked over the weekend to add as much as possible to one side of the tower. When DCRA
revoked the permit October 10, they sued the city and the Mayor and Ms. Fuller,
individually and in their official capacity. They then went to the court and asked for
more time to secure the tower, which means that now they are building again
(bringing the other three sides up to the height of the section they rushed to build after
being notified that the permit was being revoked)! Given the fact that the permit probably
shouldn't have been issued in the first place as the Zoning Regulations required them to
go the BZA for a special exception and to get the Mayor's waiver of the 1910 Height Act
(much less the fact that the DC Environmental Policy Act, among other laws, was ignored),
this is truly creative zoning. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
I wish my recent experience with a trash problem had the same positive
outcome as that described by Andrew Tarpgaard in the 10/19 edition of themail. For the
past two to three months I've made numerous calls to 727-1000, sent E-mail service
requests to DPW, and corresponded with the DC Clean City Coordinator about a severe litter
problem adjacent to the Takoma Metro station. Despite promises from those who answer the
mayor's all purpose service line and efforts by the Clean City Coordinator to
make sure the request reached the right office, nothing has been done about this eyesore.
As Mr. Tarpgaard asked, does it have to take so long to determine who is responsible for
providing what should be routine city services? On the other side of the coin, kudos to
the National Park Service for its sparkling clean-up of the mall following the Million
Family March. Even though its attendance was far less than other recent marches (e.g.,
Million Mom March) or July 4 events, the amount of trash left behind was the worst I've
ever seen. Not just overflowing trash cans, but litter of every imaginable sort scattered
across the length and breadth of the mall. But thanks to NPS, you'd never know that the
event had even taken place. Out of curiosity, does anyone know if we taxpayers end up
footing the bill for such clean-ups, or do event organizers have to provide a deposit or
make other arrangements to assure that trash is removed?
Barbed Wire and the AFL-CIO
Katie Mann, email@example.com
I was walking past the AFL-CIO building last weekend. They're having some
sort of construction, it appears, with the front entrances blocked by plywood and a fence
that comes out quite a distance to the sidewalk on the main entrance side of the building.
Par for the course these days. What really got my attention though was the strand of
barbed wire going across the top of the fence. I haven't noticed this at construction
sites before. Is this normal these days? Does the AFL-CIO perceive itself (whether actual
or not) to be particularly threatened?
Gertrude Stein Democrats Endorse for School Board
Kurt Vorndran, Kvorn@nteu.org
I am pleased to announce the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, DC's largest
gay/lesbian political organization, has made its endorsements for the Board of Education
seats in the upcoming General Election. At a standing room only meeting, the Stein
Democrats picked Peggy Cooper Cafritz for President of the DC Board of Education along
with candidates in three of the four district seats. Julie Mikuta running for District One
(Wards 1 and 2), Tommy Wells, in District Three (Wards 5 and 6) and William Lockridge in
District Four (Wards 7 and 8) each received the Club's backing. No endorsement was made in
District Two (Wards 3 and 4) where Dwight Singleton and Hugh Allen were the strongest
contenders of the six candidates.
The endorsement vote came after appeals from most of the major candidates
in the races. The Gertrude Stein Club's endorsement procedures allow for remarks by the
candidates and then internal discussion by Club members. A supermajority of 60 percent is
required for Club support. Stein previously endorsed Al Gore for President, Eleanor Holmes
Norton for Delegate, Harold Brazil, Jack Evans, Adrian Fenty and Sandy Allen for DC
Council, and Ray Browne and Florence Pendleton for the Shadow positions.
Martin Thomas for Shadow Rep
Tanya Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Thomas's bid for the U.S. Shadow Representative position is a
natural extension of his activism in support of full democracy for D.C. Rather than
stopping short at mere voting representation, which would leave D.C. a colony under the
control of the federal government, Martin fights for statehood. This means that Congress
would no longer have an automatic review and repeal period for all local D.C. legislation.
This means that our annual budget would no longer get put through the wringer in Congress
and come out entirely different, chock full of socially conservative riders that obstruct
the wishes of the people of D.C.
Martin, a member of the steering committee of the D.C. Statehood Green
Party, is the only candidate running who would make the position a meaningful platform
from which to advocate for D.C.'s rights. He is one of the Democracy 7, put on trial for
standing up to Congress as they debated our local budget. He has written and personally
delivered a letter to every last member of the U.S. Congress asking them to support
democracy in D.C. He has organized fundraisers, rallies, and high-profile events for
statehood. He supported the Twenty Citizens Lawsuit, which sought to end the injustices
faced by D.C. citizens. Martin opposes funding for big downtown development projects like
the new convention center when the city claims not to be able to fund necessities like
D.C. General Hospital and other services for its residents.
As someone who wants to make the city better for its residents and not
just big business and real estate interests, I urge everyone to support Martin Thomas for
U.S. Shadow Representative on November 7.
Tom Briggs, a Shaw resident and teacher in the DC public school system,
has been charged by the Office of the Special Council (OSC) with a violation of the Hatch
Act. He was called by Anna Marrone on September 29th and informed that since he was a DC
employee, he was subject to the provisions in the Hatch Act. He was told over the phone
that his two choices were to either resign his teaching position at Dunbar Senior High
School or withdraw his candidacy from the Ward 2 Council race. Briggs received a letter
informing him of this same information on October 5th and was given 7 days to respond to
The law is ridiculous! says Briggs. Teachers in all 50
states can run for public office, but teachers in Washington, DC cannot. Mr. Briggs
is in the middle of teaching his third year in an inner city school. Deciding
between my job and my principles is the hardest decision I have ever had to make,
says Briggs. On October 13th, the OSC filed the formal complaint against Briggs. Briggs
has refused to resign his teaching position or withdraw from the council race.
Consider my actions a form of civil disobedience, and I will continue to fight
against this unjust federal action, says Briggs.
Our biggest challenge is to optimize expansion and economic growth without
neglecting those citizens most vulnerable to gentrification. All too often, neighborhood
revitalization projects have overlooked long-term residents in the development gold rush.
In short, we risk losing the soul of the very neighborhoods we seek to improve. As an
example, within the shadow of the new billion dollar Convention Center one can find
sub-standard housing and homelessness. Throughout Shaw there is a one to three month wait
to begin drug rehabilitation programs, and no city-sponsored adult education or GED
classes. At Dunbar High School where I teach, we have less than ten networked computers to
serve some 900 students. Our task is to manage growth in such a way as to allow citizens
of all incomes to enjoy the fruits of prosperity by preparing them to contribute to that
prosperity, primarily through job training, education and the encouragement of local
businesses. Furthermore, any future large scale development projects must include a
mandate for the improvement of local infrastructure, contributions to social programs, and
a policy of DC first in awarding contracts.
Getting Good Teachers in the Schools
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
With the shortage of good teachers willing to teach in the city's schools
we have to find a better, and different approach to using teachers and hiring them. Roomie
taught for a whole lot of years (almost exclusively in private schools) so I can attest
that it is a more than full time job. She also was paid a pittance (and with very minimal
benefits) compared to the salaries and pensions of long term public school employees. That
said, it is essential that a whole new approach be taken that addresses both the amount of
work required by teachers and how they are paid. Good teachers should be paid enough to
support themselves and their family.
As for getting more good teachers into the system and providing them jobs
that won't require a more than full time job, let's make teaching positions available on a
part-time basis. Some qualified persons might find it reasonable to teach two classes in
the morning during the school year (perhaps mothers with children in school). Other
qualified persons (retired military, perhaps) might be willing to teach two classes each
afternoon for the school year. If the pay was attractive (even with reduced benefits) this
approach might smoke out a whole new cadre of qualified teachers for our schools.
Police and Fire Call Boxes
Paul Williams, Callboxes@aol.com
Lynda Lantz inquired about the fate of the Police and Fire Call boxes in
the city; there is an effort underway by the Heritage Tourism Coalition, and I'm the
coordinator! We have partnered with the DPW, DC Commission on Arts and Humanities and the
Downtown BID and have had over 40 neighborhoods survey their boxes. DPW has included 473
boxes into a contract this winter to begin to restore the boxes (removing lead paint and
priming the boxes), and it is our charge have neighborhood organizations adopt
their boxes; matching artists and historians and determining what it is the neighborhood
would like to evoke on/in their boxes to be a true neighborhood icon. The HTC will
establish a review panel to begin reviewing proposals in the early spring to ensure a
quality product, and dispensing funds to assist in the effort. By the way, the Fire call
boxes first appeared in Washington in the 1860s, when they had an elaborate gas light on
top, surrounded by red etched glass announcing its purpose and location. Police call boxes
were added in the 1890s. To find out if your neighborhood is already participating, or for
more information, E-mail me at Callboxes@aol.com.
The people/organization leading the charge on saving the call boxes was
the DC Heritage Tourism Coalition, in particular Kathy Smith, executive director. You can
find them in the phone book, or contact Paul Williams, who was also involved in the
campaign. Best of luck to you; I have one right on my corner that I would be
willing to help refurbish.
While they are not the organization responsible for the city-wide project
to turn the old emergency call boxes into 'works of art,' the Capitol Hill Restoration
Society is involved here on Capitol Hill. Contact Nancy Metzger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update on Puerto Rican Lawsuit
Mark Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
I recently posted information about a lawsuit in which a US District Court
Judge said Congress could grant Puerto Rico the right to vote for President without
becoming a state or passing a Constitutional Amendment. Although the majority of Puerto
Ricans have not voted in support of statehood, Puerto Ricans are American citizens (whom
Congress exempts from paying federal taxes). Here is an update from The U.S. Council for
Puerto Rico Statehood (http://www.prstatehood.com/):
The First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston recently heard arguments concerning
the granting of the vote for President of the United States to the US citizens of Puerto
Rico. The Court ruled in favor of the United States and against the Puerto Rican
plaintiffs of the lawsuit seeking a vote in November's election. In July, US District
Court Judge Jaime Pieras, Jr., ruled that a citizen's right to vote emanates from
citizenship as a 'fundamental right' in a democratic society. The US Department of Justice
argued both in the July case and before the First US Circuit Court, that states, not
individuals, vote for president and vice president through the Electoral College.
According to the US Constitution, each state chooses electors to represent them in the
Electoral College. These electors actually choose the president. If the residents of
Puerto Rico want the right to vote in presidential elections, the island must either
become a state of the Union or the US Constitution must be amended. Presently, Puerto Rico
is a territory of the United States. Its citizens have statutory US citizenship granted by
Congress in 1917. I believe that in 1820, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal
government had the right to tax DC citizens, even though they didn't have Presidential [at
that time] or Congressional representation.
Responding to my friend Ted LeBlond's (hi, Ted) message on pedestrian
patterns in Foggy Bottom: I walked through Washington Circle twice a day, from upper New
Hampshire Avenue to Foggy Bottom Metro and back, for over a year (1994-95). I ignored the
light on the south side almost every time, and there's a reason: the officially sanctioned
pedestrian pathway is counterintuitive for pedestrian through traffic walking
between New Hampshire (on the north) and the station. Coming from the north, the
authorized path I recall is: walk southwesterly down New Hampshire; cross the north circle
roadway to the plaza in a southerly direction (at about 1 o'clock); walk into the plaza
and counterclockwise around the statue roughly 150 degrees (to about 8 o'clock), to the
crossing point enforced by a break in the fencing; cross the south circle roadway from the
plaza in a southwesterly direction along the New Hampshire axis (this is the problem);
when you reach the other side, twirl sharp left roughly 135 degrees, walk east to 23rd,
then turn right to the station.
It's impossible to overemphasize how annoying the zigzag on the south side
of the circle feels to a pedestrian who has to walk those extra paces day after day,
especially since he just had to walk in a circle around Washington's statue rather than
crossing the plaza in a straight line. Day after day I stood there waiting for the light
thinking Why don't they put a $^@&! crosswalk at the NW corner of 23rd and South
Washington Circle, and cut a hole in that $&#@% fence? (Sure, it sounds petty
now, but it is from just such inconveniences that confirmed violators are made.)
Pedestrians, like floodwaters, will find the shortest path, and the shortest path for
pedestrians crossing South Washington Circle from the plaza is southeasterly through
traffic, from the legal crossing point at the 8 o'clock position on the plaza, to the NW
corner of 23rd and South Washington Circle and vice versa on the northbound trip.
This movement is discouraged (as I recall) by iron fencing along the southern arc of the
circle plaza, but that never stopped me. It's especially treacherous for southbound
pedestrians, who have their back to oncoming traffic, but northbound pedestrians have
their own version of hell they often try walking counterclockwise across the
complicated lanes on the east side of the circle, which seems shorter but is far more
dangerous due to the traffic coming off K Street on the northeast side. I'm amazed I
By the way, same kind of problem in Dupont Circle, where pedestrians
approaching from the east on P Street (where I lived a year ago) feel compelled to cross
diagonally through traffic to the Mass Avenue plaza entrance, but at least there are
Over $10,000 Per Student?
Helen Hagerty, Helenmhag@aol.com
I appreciate the comments of Anthony Watts regarding the candidates for
School Board in District 1. I'd like to correct this number of $10,000 per student. We
often see this figure kicked around and it is inaccurate. DC does not spend over $10,000
per student. It is actually less than half. If we took the overall DCPS budget, including
the Special Education private placement tuitions, and divide it by the number of students,
we would come up with roughly $10,000. With the Weighted Student Formula budget, schools
receive about $4,200 per student. Schools will receive more for Special Ed students.
Compared to other states, DC actually spends less per student.
Trash Force Joins Klingle Valley Cleanup
Paul Nahay, firstname.lastname@example.org
Trash Force's next outing will be this coming Saturday, October 21,
meeting at 10:45 am in Klingle Valley, Washington, DC. We'll be joining the Klingle Valley
Park Association's cleanup (http://www.klinglevalley.org)
of the closed portion of Klingle Road that they are valiantly fighting to SAVE, NOT PAVE.
Refreshments will be served. Info at http://pnahay.home.sprynet.com/tforce.htm#Oct21,
directions at http://www.klinglevalley.org/directions.html.
Please let me know if you're planning to attend (and also if your plans change), and don't
forget to bring lots of plastic bags (at least a dozen) and gloves, if you want them!
The Advocacy Initiative to meet Human Needs is sponsoring free training
yes, you can be a budget advocate! November 30 from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm at Western
Presbyterian Church, 2401 Virginia Avenue, NW (limited parking available; near Foggy
Bottom Metro stop). RSVP by November 20 to DC Action for Children, 234-9404, email@example.com. This free introductory session,
over a brown bag lunch, will review what budget advocacy means, the role non-profits play
in the city's budget, the budget process, and more. Beverages and dessert will be
The Advocacy Initiative to meet Human Needs' training series,
Everyone's an Advocate, is designed to increase the skill and comfort levels
of all budget advocates, new and old alike. Individuals may select one, more or all of the
sessions to attend the goal is a trained and confident advocacy community. January
2001, harnessing the power of the media; February 2001, what is in the Mayor's FY 2002
budget proposal?; March 2001, advocacy day: putting human needs first. For more
information about Everyone's an Advocate, contact Patty Mullahy Fugere at the
Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, 872-1494.
For Rent on Capitol Hill
Ann Bond, firstname.lastname@example.org
Efficiency one block from Eastern Market, available November 1. Month to
month; $700/mo. plus utilities. Call 544-7272.
I'll be taking two out-of-town guests to breakfast (around 9:30 a.m.) on a
weekday in Alexandria, probably southern or southwestern Alexandria, between the Wilson
Bridge and I-395 (on their way south). Any breakfast suggestions along that route?
So here we all are, in our nation's capital, with Election Day quickly
approaching. This is my first election in town, and I was wondering: where are the good
hangouts to watch the votes come in? I don't mean GOP and Dem headquarters, bah. I mean
the bars, coffee shops, etc., where people gather to celebrate the grandeur of Democracy
in a jovial, bipartisan atmosphere. Or something like that. As always, any and all
suggestions greatly appreciated.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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