Climb That Mountain, Plant That Flag
Board of Education president and humorist Peggy Cooper Cafritz has
written an hilarious must-read parody of what substitutes for budget
planning in the DC government, published both in the January 14 issue of
the Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20020114-63531870.htm)
and the January 9 issue of the Northwest Current. Cafritz first starts
with the premise that the Board of Education asked the DCPS
administration to produce a budget “based on what it really takes to
educate the whole child in the DCPS,” and the administration came up
with an annual budget of $979 million, an $338 million increase over
this year's record budget. Cafritz never says what this additional money
would be spent on, or how spending it would improve DC public schools;
instead, she parrots the generations-old DC government maxim that the
sad state of government services is solely the result of underfunding,
and has nothing to do with miserable mismanagement and continuing lack
of accountability. And then she cheerleads: “The $338-million mountain
may seem almost impossible to climb, but with your active support and
participation, we will get there one day. If we hide in safe, carpeted
cocoons and accept whatever budget marks we are given, our children will
continue to receive second-rate educations for many years to come. But
we can climb that mountain together and hoist the flag of DCPS on top of
that mountain, knowing that we have, at last, done right by our
children.” Don't miss this delicious satire.
Selling Bridges, and Anything Else You’ll
Jonetta Rose Barras, firstname.lastname@example.org
No one should be satisfied with the paltry excuse provided by the
District's Inspector General's paltry letter earlier this week in response to
growing concerns about the delay in both his investigation and the
subsequent report. Mr. Maddox suggests that the investigation was
complex, but we're not talking about explaining how Enron went belly up
or identifying the members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. What
we have in the office of the city's IG is a failure to perform, and a
glaring instance of incompetence. You have to wonder why the IG
interviewed Mayor Anthony Williams only a month ago — ten months after
his investigation began in February, 2001. And why is he still
interviewing individuals directly or tangentially involved in the
fundraising fiasco of 2001, especially when he had first indicated to DC
Council members that he intended to conclude his investigation by
summer's end and issue his report soon after? Mr. Maddox himself must
have been convinced that his investigation was coming to a close,
because he initially asked Cecily Collier-Montgomery, executive director
of the Office of Campaign Finance, to delay the release of her report by
ninety days after it was due and finished. The OCF, which also launched
its investigation in February 2001, tried to oblige. But to no avail;
when the three-month extension was over, the IG still wasn’t ready.
We could all perhaps understand this failure to produce if Mr. Maddox
suffered a staffing shortage or a tight budget. But he has staff of 105
and a budget of $11.2 million. Former IG Angela Avant should have been so
lucky. Selected by then-Mayor Marion Barry and the control board as the
first newly configured and greatly empowered OIG, Avant was given the
boot after less than a year. No one had time to wait for her to staff up
or establish important administrative systems. Expectations were high,
although she had one fifth of the Mr. Maddox's staff and far less money.
When the IG is called upon to perform his primary and critical
function of investigating fraud and or abuse in the government, and he
fails to rise to the occasion, then it seems there is grounds for his
immediate dismissal or at least some disciplinary action by his
superiors -- the council and the mayor. If we cannot condone the
apparent ethical violations that occurred under the mayor’s watch,
then certainly there should be equal, and stinging, criticism of the IG.
The council’s Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Ward 5’s
Vincent Orange, is expected to hold a hearing on the OIG tomorrow
(Thursday). Sources say that the IG will be hammered about his place of
residency, which he claims is both the District and Maryland. He also
will be asked his interpretation of when his tenure ends. He contends
it's 2005. But Dorothy Brizill of DCWatch.com was the first in the local
press corps to track down and write about the specifics of Maddox's
appointment, here in themail. The city’s power-hungry IG was appointed
to fill the unexpired term of Barrett Prettyman, who was hired to filled
the unexpired term of Avant. Which all means Maddox’s tenure ends this
month. But the most rigorous questioning from the Council should
surround the office’s performance with respect to the fundraising
investigation. If the Council does its usual dance with faltering
bureaucrats, however, let this commentary stand as the first blow
against continuing incompetence, and sorry excuses used far too often by
government officials to mask their failure to perform.
Taxis: Zones v. Meters
Joan Eisenstodt, email@example.com
Maybe those writing in support of meters don't live on the Hill! I
always know what my fare will be, no matter where I'm going, in the City
or out. It's easy to obtain a zone map and know that you won't be
bilked. Even at the airports, dispatchers hand passengers a map of what
the fares should be in a DC cab.
I've been stuck in traffic for up to 35 minutes for “Congress
crossings” during a vote. With so many street closings on the Hill and
elsewhere, I've had drivers who went very “interesting” routes —
but it still cost the same. In a metered cab, it would not. Why is there
a presumption that visitors won't be taken advantage of with meters v.
zones? Sheesh . . . it's easy for a driver to say they have to go
“this” way and increase the fare substantially. I'm a non-driver and
depend on my feet, the Metro, and more so, cabs to get around.
Yesterdays' op ed piece from a taxi driver [“Meters Won't Make the
Fares Any Fairer,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34820-2002Jan12.html]
made infinite sense to me. No one has yet to present an argument that
meters are better, except for a very few who travel only in small
Ya Gotta Be Impressed
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Only five days after his inauguration as the new Mayor of New York
City, Bloomberg has put in place a very talented cabinet and staff.
Bloomberg already had named a new Police Commissioner before his
inauguration and today named a deputy Police Commissioner charged with
training New York City Fire Department and Police Department personnel
in anti terrorism techniques and procedures.
This latest appointment will have to be impressive to the Olympic
Games Selection Committee as NY City continues its efforts to land the
2012 Summer games. I'm not sure why anybody would be crazy enough to
want to be Mayor of New York City and follow the tough act of Guiliani.
Bloomberg seems up to the job, however. Maybe we can entice Rudy G. to
come to Washington and establish residence. Hey, if it's good enough for
Hillary, in the opposite direction, maybe it's just possible to lure
Guiliani to DC He could run this city with one hand tied behind his
I had one recent episode similar to Joan Eisenstodt's — receiving a
letter on January 7 that had been postmarked in Missouri on October 22.
I've heard of similar stories, but not enough to declare a crisis. I'd
like to hear an account from the Postal Service about what happened to
the millions of pieces of mail that were shipped for decontamination.
Snail Mail and Short Memories
Mark Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
My snail mail has slowed since the anthrax problem. I continue to
receive Christmas cards and invitations to events that took place in
December -- some mail was sent locally. Today I received a Christmas
card from Connecticut, mailed December 4, and a package from California,
mailed mid-September. The package looked like it went through a wringer.
A special paper inside the Christmas card was very brittle —
apparently from the irradiation process.
Regarding National Airport, I have also found that if I say I’m
flying into National Airport, people don’t know what I’m talking
about. Thanks to turnover in the airline industry, the name Ronald
Reagan National Airport has become the recognized name.
Nobody wins when we memorialize a man who thought trees cause
Change the Name
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Though I have never been considered very politically correct, being a
throwback to a former era, I strongly object to the name of the local
professional football team, the Washington Redskins. This name is more
than irritating, it is offensive and insensitive. It is timely to change
the name of this team right now. The team should be called the Maryland
Dorothy Brizill overestimates the political significance and
usefulness of nominating Mirian Saez for School Board. Brizill also
underestimates Ms. Saez’s qualifications. Although her background isn’t
in education, she has previously served on a school board in another
jurisdiction and had a strong asset management background echoing the
skills of Bob Peck, who she would replace. In terms of politics, Mayor
Williams won’t garner a single extra vote for reelection due to this
appointment. Saez is the President of the Gertrude Stein Democratic
Club, “the city's largest and most powerful gay and lesbian Democratic
party organization.” However, that description doesn’t actually
compare them to anything. They are the only gay democratic club in DC.
And although size does matter, it probably isn’t the thing that Stein
should be boasting. They only have around 100 members. Nonetheless, they
are influential in the Mayor’s office and in the DC Democratic party.
There is also no chance that Mayor Williams would not receive their
endorsement. Gertrude Stein is very supportive of the Mayor, as former
Stein president Kurt Vorndran has made clear through his postings to
themail. The only other candidate for mayor that has been mentioned is
Councilmember Chavous. But the Stein Club did not even endorse Chavous
in his uncontested election in 2000. Nor is a gay appointment a
particular coup for the gay community. While Saez would be the first
openly gay member of the school board, there are two openly gay members
of the DC Council and countless gay people on boards and commissions and
throughout the DC government at all levels. This is not a new
phenomenon, but dates back to Mayor Washington in the mid 1970s. Another
appointment is nice, but not a critical factor in gaining votes from the
gay community. Saez may have made it to the top of the nominations list
in part because she is Hispanic, but then so is Paul Ruiz; so that seems
unlikely to be a factor in her selection over him. Brizill did not make
a strong argument for Saez being chosen because she is a woman. In fact,
I doubt that this mattered to anyone at all. Women are not particularly
organized as a voting block in DC, nor is there a particular sense that
woman face a significant disadvantage in DC politics. A quick look at
the DC Council and School Board shows that DC voters are quite
comfortable electing women and women have numerous high positions in the
Kevin Palmer wrist-whacked the Washington Convention & Visitors
Bureau for promoting businesses in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. I
agree that that DC has a wide range of fabulous establishments and
cultural activities the WCTC should promote. However, one thing they
teach you in marketing school is that your existing customers are your
best promotional target. My guess is that the majority of visitors to
upscale DC eateries, clubs, stores, museums, and monuments come from
outside the DC city limits. So why not market to those people?
Regarding DC Marketing: Come on, Mr. Palmer!
Erica Nash, email@example.com
You ask why the Convention Center mentioned neighboring state's
restaurants? That is good business for DC and sound PR practice. Tell
folks what they can do in our area, give them, diversity, show them how
much else they can do if they come to DC, and they will come.
Re: DC Self-Government: Two Aspects by David
George LaRoche, LaRoche@us.net
I gather that Mr. Sobelsohn's point would be that there's no local
self-government without representation in Congress. The apparent
rationale for this conclusion seems to be that, if DC had local
self-government without representation, it could legislate all it wanted
to, but Congress — lacking a protesting vote in Congress from DC —
would still be able to trump all local legislation. Clearly, for this
rationale to apply and his conclusion to follow, there would have been
no local self-government in the first place, so this argument is
Mr. Sobelsohn is right, however, to point out that representation in
Congress is important in its own right. At the same time, however, this
is true only if and when the representatives of the people of DC enter
Congress on the same terms and grounds as all other representatives.
It's one thing to participate in making the laws for all the country,
which is the right of all citizens of the United States; it's another to
participate in a colonial system through ersatz and legislatively
alterable “representation” categorically inferior to that enjoyed by
all other citizens of the United States. In the end, Mr. Sobelsohn's
points about the limits of self-government and the importance of
representation seem to be offered not to advance a vision of
self-government, but to support a political program which is usually
referred to as “incrementalism.” They buttress his more basic
argument that “representation in Congress could help us get local
self-government. . . .” Thus, the benefits of representation in
Congress to which Mr. Sobelsohn alludes also arise from his assumption
that the District necessarily must remain a colony under Congress's
But first, as the three-judge district court said almost two years
ago, representation in Congress is accorded to the citizens of the
various States (almost every professor of constitutional law I've spoke
to who's not already a partisan in this battle (and every judge but one)
agrees with this ruling). So long as DC is not a state or part of a
state, there is no constitutional basis for “representation.”
Second, while we might work toward an amendment, why should we? Why
should the District remain a colony? No one has ever answered this
question. In the lifetime of many of the readers of this newsletter,
Congress has had precisely the same power over millions of other
citizens of the United States, with all the same results. Unlike the
population of DC, most of those people were employed by the federal
government (or were spouses or children of people employed by the
federal government) and many held “top secret” positions, making
them far more important to the federal government's interests than most
of the residents of the District. Congress cut them free and made them
citizens of States, sometimes of States who are fiercely resistant to
federal interests. Before we settle for incrementalism, we should answer
the question of why Congress needs to keep this colony, when it has
shown itself of so many others held under precisely the same
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Gay and Lesbian Unit
Larry Ray, firstname.lastname@example.org
Come learn about the Gay and Lesbian Unit (GLLU) of the Metropolitan
Police Department of Washington, DC. Wednesday, January 23, 7-8 p.m.,
Watha T. Daniels./Shaw Branch library, 1701 8th Street, NW (Rhode Island
and R Streets, NW, across from R Street Exit, Howard/Shaw Metro-Green
line). Featuring Sgt. Brett Parsons and Officer Kelly McMurtrie. Ever
wondered if any of the local men and women in blue prefers to protect
and serve in lavender? The answer is an unabashed yes for the staff of
the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU).
Come meet two openly gay and lesbian members of the department, Sergeant
Brett A. Parson and Officer Kelly McMurtrie. Since its inception in June
2000, the GLLU has dedicated itself to serving the Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) communities in the Washington
Metropolitan area and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Also learn about the Community Mediation Center. Larry Ray, former
Executive Director of the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM)
will describe how the Community Mediation Center can assist you in
resolving business, neighborhood and landlord/tenant disputes.
Moderator: Brad Peterson, coordinator: Thomas Jordan. Sponsored by Ward
Two Council Member Jack Evans; The Community Mediation Center; Cooper
Park Neighborhood Association; and Alexander M. Padro, Commissioner
ANC2C01. For further information, contact Larry Ray, 483-0241, DCLarry@aol.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING
Colleen Dailey, Cdailey68@yahoo.com
Looking for comfortable, affordable lodging for out of town guests? A
good friend of mine just purchased a charming bed and breakfast in Adams
Morgan. Adam's Inn, located at 1744 Lanier Place, NW (745-3600), is
currently offering the lowest winter rates in DC, starting at $45/night
for a room with shared bath, or $65/night for a room with private bath.
The staff is friendly, the accommodations are cozy, and the location is
great -- right around the corner from the 18th Street shops, and a short
walk to the Metro, National Zoo, Dupont Circle, etc. Think about Adam's
Inn the next time friends, family, or colleagues need lodging in DC. For
extended stays, Adam's Inn also offers unbeatable weekly and monthly
CLASSIFIEDS — FOR SALE
Two (2) tickets for any movie theater in the U.S., Monday-Thursday,
$14 or best offer (value $10.50/each); two (2) for any United Artist
theater anytime, $14 or best offer. E-mail: Livs0312@aol.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — BUG BOOKS WANTED
The Bancroft Elementary School Insect Garden (nee the Butterfly
Garden) needs books on bugs and their fellow garden invertebrates,
worms, and spiders. With teacher training provided by the Insect Zoo at
the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History,
Bancroft is developing a science curriculum based on bugs, applying to
the National Wildlife Federation for funds and certification as a
"Schoolyard Habitat," and applying to GROW for a mini-grant.
If you have children's books on insects, worms, and/or spiders,
particularly picture books, story books, and field guides, that you
could donate to the school library, please E-mail me at email@example.com
or at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop
them off on the porch at 3138 19th Street, NW.
CLASSIFIEDS — FREE CORRECTION
Contrary to what Michael Karlan put in the last issue, you don't need
the DC Society of Young Professionals to weigh on your eligibility to
get a Zagat Restaurant guide. Just ask Zagat, at email@example.com.
I'm sure young professionals appreciate not having misleading statements
made in their name.
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Multi-Month Car Rental Sought
Jon Katz, firstname.lastname@example.org
I need to rent a car for about six months. Does anybody know of a
local car rental service that will provide a less expensive rental fee
under these circumstances than the Hertz/Avis weekly rate?
CLASSIFIEDS -- CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, email@example.com
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this
DRAFT DODGING: The District's new way of electing a mayor goes roughly
like this: Fixate on a hopeful who has nothing in common with the
incumbent. Form a core group of supporters from disparate wards to make
phone calls and solicit support. Raise a little money.
“Then you go to the prospective candidate and see if he thinks that
you're out of your mind,” explains Marilyn Groves, a Dupont Circle
civic activist and supporter of a movement to draft Ward 4 Councilmember
Adrian Fenty to run for mayor.
In recent weeks, a cabal of DC residents, primarily from Ward 2 and Ward
4, has been forming an “ad hoc citizens committee” to draft the
31-year-old freshman councilmember to run for the city's highest elected
office. It's not inconceivable.
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 upcoming events:
FRIDAY: Ken Smith discusses his book Junk English at 7 p.m. at
Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free.
THURSDAY: The Mexican Cultural Institute hosts an evening with chef
Patricia Quintana, whose menu features a Mayan Peninsula theme. The
cooking begins at 7 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th
St. NW. $60.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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