In the past few days, Mayor Williams's administration's under-the-table, unethical, and
in many respects illegal fundraising for the independent nonprofits and
political action committees that the Mayor controls has come under scrutiny from
conscientious reporters Tom Sherwood of WRC-TV, Jonetta Rose Barras of the Washington City
Paper, and Yolanda Woodlee of The Washington Post. Even more will come out on this story
in the next few days. In response, Mayor Williams has claimed that he was unaware of his
fundraising activities, and assured us that his practice is to be kept ignorant of and to
have no control over anything that his staff does on his behalf or in his name. To show
his good faith he will, he says, appoint a committee to determine what he knew and when he
knew it. He also says he will appoint a panel of lawyers to give him ethical advice. This
shows that the Mayor has kept his sense of humor; next he will appoint a group of
morticians to give him health advice.
I often criticize District of Columbia institutions in themail, and the public school
system is one of my most frequent targets. However, I have never been as sweepingly
damning as Councilmember Vincent Orange, who offered the following definition in a bill he
recently introduced in the Council: 'Student' means a person enrolled in the
District of Columbia Public Schools who has been arrested for a reportable offense.
Not even I thought things were that bad.
I must point out that in the last issue of themail I misquoted badly the adage,
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Since I had
both key words wrong I thought that the phrase was history are doomed
I couldn't even look up the correct wording until I recalled that the author of the
sentence was George Santayana. There, I caught my own mistake before you did. That's a
After years of smooth sailing renewing tags and residential parking permits via mail, I
too had the experience Yoma Ullman described, receiving tags and registration but no
parking sticker. About a week before the existing sticker's punched expiration date, I
began making calls to try to track down the errant sticker. None of the numbers I found on
various official web sites rang through to a live human, nor did the number
provided by the central operator. I finally reached the correct office using a number from
an extremely useful and up-to-date listing of D.C. municipal services numbers (http://www.panix.com/~eck/dcphones/dcphones.txt).
Unfortunately, the irritable and exasperated person I spoke with offered no help and
insisted I had to pick up the sticker in person. I did learn, however, that D.C.'s
computer showed my expiration date to be 12/31, while my printed residential parking
permit had 12/25 and the sticker itself had 12/20. Go figure! In any event, entirely
independent of my inquiries, the sticker turned up in the next day's mail.
One of the biggest problems with Mayor Williams's failure to fill top-level vacancies
in his administration is that some of those positions have been filled with temporary
appointees for over a half year for example, Leslie Hotaling as Director of the
Department of Public Works and Carolyn Graham as Director of the Department of Human
Mayor Barry used to refuse to send his appointees to the City Council for confirmation,
especially when he knew that the Council wouldn't confirm some unacceptable appointments.
Because of that, the Council passed a law that no one could serve in a position that
required Council confirmation for more than 180 days unless his name is submitted for
confirmation. The Williams administration is pretending that this is just a
technical violation of the law. When Councilmember Catania asked Carolyn
Graham about it at a Council hearing this week, she claimed that the law didn't apply to
her because she had been named interim director rather than acting
director, even though neither term is mentioned in the law.
But the fact is that any actions taken by temporary or acting or interim directors who
have served more than 180 days aren't legal. Just as ex-President Clinton can't issue
executive orders anymore, because his term in office is over, Leslie Hotaling and Carolyn
Graham can't legally sign any contracts, hire or fire any employees, or even draw their
salaries as agency directors, and any of their official actions can be successfully
challenged in court by a dissatisfied contractor, employee, union, or citizen.
I sympathize with anyone who has cans, be they beer, soft drink, or any other kind,
dumped on their property. It's inconsiderate, ugly and, of course, illegal. However,
proponents of the one-can ban may be unaware of or indifferent to the
purchasing problems of the poor and unfortunate in our city. A savvy old cop who spent
many years patrolling the streets explained it this way:
For many of the poor their only social venue is the outside. They have limited
purchasing power and may only be able to buy one can at a time, even though they pay a
premium for doing so as opposed to buying in quantity. Even if they can afford a six-pack,
they have nowhere to store it safely and they know full-well that if they carry a six-pack
around they will soon be surrounded by others less fortunate who will want a share and so
they will end up with one can anyway. These folks can't afford to go to bars and so, in a
sense, the liquor store becomes their bar and the liquor store server is their bartender
for which they pay a premium per can.
Some of these one-can consumers may suffer from alcoholism or low impulse control.
Would we prefer that such unfortunates would buy larger quantities of beer or malt liquor
at one time with perhaps the perception that they have to drink it in a hurry or lose it?
Alcoholism is a very serious problem for the poor and unfortunate in our society. It is
also a very serious problem for the rich and famous and for the aspiring middle classes as
evidenced by the toll to society caused by those driving while intoxicated. In the 19th
century the upper crust coined the phrase, Drink is the Curse of the Lower
Classes, as if they themselves were immune to it. In the 21st century in our city,
do we really want to address this kind of problem by further limiting the already low
purchasing power of the poor, or is it possible to take a more enlightened and
constructive approach? What about treatment programs, counseling, employment, housing?
The Case Against Statehood: Not Proven
David Sobelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the most recent issue of themail, Timothy Cooper claims that it certainly was
not the case for Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada, as well as with the territories of
Washington, Montana, and the Dakotas, that at least some of these jurisdictions
needed massive assistance from the federal government as they entered the union as states,
and that at least some were not yet economically self-sufficient, the
requirement Mr. Cooper imposes (with no constitutional basis) on DC statehood. I haven't
replied thus far to any of Mr. Cooper's historical postings on this subject because, if
one reads them carefully, they don't support his argument. But I also have neither the
time nor the desire to combat Mr. Cooper's arguments against DC statehood, a cause I
support only reluctantly. If, rather than support statehood or retrocession the
most efficient means of acquiring voting rights for DC Mr. Cooper wants to waste
his time trying to convince two thirds of Congress and three quarters of the states to
support a constitutional amendment more poorly worded than the one a more liberal Congress
approved but only six states ratified in the 1970s, at least that will keep him off the
I am not sure what Tim Cooper is suggesting about the economic hurdles that D.C would
face in this quest for statehood and justice, but it sounds like excuse number four. That
is, D.C. doesn't have enough money or a large enough economic base to be a
state. Well, the IRS says that D.C. pays more income tax than most states! So please
erase that as a reason to continue to deny justice to D.C.
From a speech by Senator Ted Stevens on the occasion of his being named Alaskan
of the Century: In the fifties
working under the direction of Fred
Seaton, then Secretary of the Interior, and under the tutelage of Bill Snedan, who was the
publisher on the Fairbanks paper, and Bob Atwood, who is a publisher of the paper here
all three outstanding newspapermen, I received an education second to
none. Statehood was achieved, in my opinion, because of those publishers. They went to
publisher William Randolph Hearst, publisher of the Hearst newspapers. They went to Henry
Luce, publisher of Time-Life magazine. They went to publishers of dailies, of weeklies, of
monthly papers, to magazine publishers of all descriptions, and to those who broadcast the
news in movie houses, and on television, and on radio. Our state was born, in my opinion,
because the news media came together to support Alaskans led by those publishers, and by
the Statehood Committee and by Bob Barkman. The media joined our fight. They urged the
admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the union of states. Just imagine this: Its the
turn of the century, a territory unorganized, with 64,000 residents, connected only by
boat to the contiguous states, and by 1958 had only 226,000 residents, they succeeded in
becoming a full partner in the greatest nation in the world. We did that because we were,
are, and must continue to be a team.
Developing Arguments in Favor of a Remedy to Achieve Equal
Rights in DC
Mark Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
On December 27th, 2000, Harris/Excite.com posted a question on its website:
Should the District of Columbia be granted statehood? Results: Yes (28%), No (66%),
or Not sure (4%). These results are meaningless, even though nearly 75,000 people
voted. While they called this a poll, the fine print reads: This poll is
a voluntary survey for our users, and is not scientifically projectable to any other
populations. Meaning, it is not scientific poll. The participants were not randomly
selected they were self-selected. (The method used to conduct the poll is more
important than the number of people who participated.) In any case, it makes more sense to
get a reading of whether people feel D.C. citizens should have equal
(political/constitutional/voting) rights before asking about which remedy (statehood,
retrocession, amendment) they support. When I've asked about whether DC should have equal
voting rights in Congress using representative samples of U.S. public 18+, between 72%-79%
support equal voting rights in Congress. Of those who supported equal rights, 57% would
support DC citizens if they sought statehood as a way to accomplish that.
Back to Excite.com: readers could also offer comments about their opinion. While one
cannot know the weights or distribution of responses from the
Excite.com poll, the types of comments people made are likely typical of those
one would hear in an open-ended question (Why do you feel that way?) on a
nationally representative survey. The comments (http://news.excite.com/news/poll/history/
search under discuss other polls, about three screens in) are useful to
explore the kinds of things people are thinking about D.C. for developing arguments in
support of DC's preferred remedy.
Re: Recruiting Managers by Quotas by Len Sullivan
Naomi J. Monk, NMonk10501@aol.com
I differ with [Mr. Sullivan's] E-mail. Why? All races are not given equal opportunities
to become your concept of proven managers. What you consider a proven managers
might not be what others or I consider proven managers.
Governing DC is like no other proven manager job that I know off, since it is the only
territory as well as the Capital of the United States of America or elsewhere. I believe
that there are numerous African Americans and other minorities to include myself (if I
were to apply) that can fill upper level positions. I believe to select Minorities as well
as Caucasians is not recruiting managers by quotas. It is giving the minorities the same
equal opportunities as the Caucasians. Also, it is in the eyes of the beholder. Whoever is
selected to any position should be accountable, efficient and effective as well as
productive and civil when performing duties at the lower to the upper level positions.
Further, I cannot relate hiring a surgeon to Major Williams hiring staff to unique manager
positions jobs like no others in the USA or elsewhere.
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Computer and Desk (Separately or Together)
John Whiteside, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Original Bondi Blue iMac this is the original iMac, not as souped up as the
later ones, and only came in one color, but a great machine for writing, E-mail, web
surfing, etc. It's just as it came out of the box 32 MB memory, keyboard and mouse,
built in modem, CD-ROM, hard disk wiped and original software reloaded (AppleWorks,
Quicken, other odds and ends) and oh so cute. Plus a copy of MS Office 98. $400.
An Ikea Jerker computer desk nice work area, two sliding shelves for
mouse, coffee cup, whatever, and two upper shelves to hold printers, paper, speakers, and
other odds and ends. Requires slight assembly/reassembly to get out of my house but
nothing major. Shelves are white, held together by dark metal frame. Sturdy, handy, but
just too big for the tiny room I've got it in. $100.
For both items, you pick up at my house in Logan Circle. Call John (up till 9 p.m.
evenings) at 387-7291, or E-mail email@example.com.
Natalia Martin Cantero, firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm looking for an apartment/efficiency/room in a shared apartment in D.C. (or nearby
area) from mid-February until the end of April/mid-May, preferably furnished. I'd really
appreciate any suggestion or witty idea. You can reach me at 483-1844, or by E-mail.
Good Place to Donate Books?
Christina Samuels, email@example.com
Like many folks doing late winter/spring cleaning, I find myself with a box full of
mostly paperback books that I would like to get rid of. They're in nice condition, but
it's not like there's a vintage gem in the bunch. Before I truck them off to the Salvation
Army, are there any suggestions of nonprofit groups or other organizations that might need
a library enhancement?
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, firstname.lastname@example.org
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
HAVE MERCY: Mayor Anthony A. Williams and his backup crew at One Judiciary Square publicly
say, Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, suggesting that, to a certain
extent, they regret their questionable use of nonprofit organizations to help raise funds
for special events and apparent political activities, as reported by LL (1/26) and other
media. But sources close to the mayor's office say that privately Williams and his team
are thumbing their noses at the press and District residents.
They think they are invincible, says one of several sources interviewed.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/lips.html.
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for
FRIDAY: Laurie Mylroie discusses her book Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's
Unfinished War Against America, at 7 p.m. at Olsson's Books & Records, 1239
Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free
TUESDAY: Steven Michael Selzer reads from and signs copies of his book By George: Mr.
Washington's Guide to Civility at noon and 7 p.m. at the National Archives Theater,
700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and
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