Old Movies and Old Jokes
Dear Cliché Lovers:
That classic moment in Casablanca has become a cliché because it
presents political hypocrisy so accurately and truly. Claude Rains
closes Rick's Cafe because, he says, “I'm shocked, shocked, to find
that gambling is going on in here.” The casino manager immediately
come up to Rains and hands him a stack of money, saying, “Your
winnings, sir,” to which Rains replies, “Oh, thank you very much.”
On Sunday and Monday, the Washington Post published two articles
about this town's Community Development Corporations. The articles
didn't expose anything that people who live in the neighborhoods
blighted by these CDCs haven't known for decades — the corruption of
the CDCs has been a secret only in the sense that Humphrey Bogart's back
room casino in Rick's was a secret. But the Post's articles
performed a service — the newspaper's long delayed public
acknowledgment of the CDC disgrace has made it impossible for
politicians to pretend ignorance any longer.
The pretense of ignorance has now been replaced with the public
display of hypocrisy, as Mayor Williams and Ward One Councilmember
Graham call for reform. Williams and Graham both came into office fully
aware of the corruption and ineffectiveness of CDCs, and they worked to
perpetuate that corruption. They both fought to maintain the CDCs'
stranglehold on neighborhood development projects, to steer city land
and money to CDCs, to enrich CDCs at the expense of neighborhoods like
Columbia Heights, Shaw, the H Street Corridor, and Anacostia. No Mayor
and no Councilmember has ever fought the old-boy network of CDCs and
their bureaucratic allies, but Mayor Williams and Councilmember Graham
were particularly slavish allies of the worst of the CDCs, and they
fought hard against the neighborhood groups and residents who dared to
That's where the old joke comes in. An accused man is explaining to a
judge why he shouldn't be held responsible for burning down a hotel by
smoking in bed. “I didn't start the fire, Judge,” he says, “the
bed was already aflame when I climbed in it.” This is one case where
the alibi is really true. Williams and Graham didn't start the CDCs'
corruption; they found the corruption already blazing and climbed in bed
with it. Rick's back room might remain quiet for a week or two, but it
will be back in business as soon as the public's attention moves on to
the next scandal. Bet on it.
Hooray for the Washington
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
And boo for the Williams' administration. The Post articles
this week on the mismanagement of development monies from DC and the
Feds to refurbish rundown properties in the District, are just another
example of the lack of reform promised by Mayor Williams in the DC
government. Mayor Williams promised, in his pre-election days that he
would help reform the DC government and to make it better managed.
Where's the beef? Where's the promised reform and better management?
So far we have the Mayor sitting on his buns while revelation after
revelation come from exposes by the Post and other well meaning
agencies/interests. We have a real reactive DC Mayor instead of the
proactive one that was promised and elected some four years ago. Get off
your buns Mr. Mayor, you've got nothing to lose except the shine on your
Mayor Williams has chosen Charles N. Duncan to serve as the campaign
manager for his reelection bid. Duncan is currently an advisor at Global
USA, Inc., a DC-based government relations, lobbying, and campaign firm.
He previously served as Associate Director of Presidential Personnel in
the Clinton White House and as Executive Assistant to Secretary of
Agriculture Mike Espy. His political bio is available online at http://www.globalusainc.com/Pages/People/Duncan.htm.
The DC Office of Boards and Commissions has signed a contract with US
Investigations Services, Inc., to do background investigations of
nominees to key boards and commissions. The administration's decision to
vet its nominees comes after several embarrassing lapses in its
knowledge about its nominees over the past three years (for example,
Robert Newman, Christopher Lynn, Sam Kaiser, Ronnie Few, Charles
Maddox). Former senior MPD official Max Kruppo will direct US
Investigations Services' work for Boards and Commissions.
For those interested in keeping track of former Williams
administration officials who are still in the kitchen cabinet: Max Brown
has established a firm, Group 360, LLC, to lobby the District
government. In his January 2002 filing at the Office of Campaign
Finance, Brown indicates that his lobbying clients include Dynamic
Concepts, ACS, Colonial Parking, and CityNet. Colonial Parking is an old
hand at influence peddling in DC, but ACS is even more interesting. ACS
stands for Affiliated Computer Services, the new name for Lockheed
Martin IMS's spun-off subsidiary, which has the contracts for the
District's red light and speed camera.
DC General Hospital Land Listed on Historical
Carolyn Curtis, Cabcurtis@aol.com
As the discussions regarding the use of the land on which DC General
Hospital sits continues, it is important to note that DC General
Hospital is listed as a national historical medical site by the National
Library of Medicine. It is also listed on the National Historical Places
register of the National Park Service.
Jack Evans Delivers — for Deep Pockets
Nick Keenan, Shaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
The members of the DC Council are extremely successful at getting
themselves reelected, which means they must be delivering for the people
who put them in office. So the question isn't whether councilmembers
provide service to their constituents — it's who the constituents are
that they provide service to.
I'm sad to report that Jack Evans in my representative on the
Council. While councilmembers like Fenty, Graham and Ambrose engage in
retail politics, where they represent individuals in their ward, Jack
has more of a wholesale approach. He champions the cause of big
organizations — businesses, non-profits, universities. They don't have
to be in his ward, or even in this city. They only requirement is that
they provide cash, and lots of it. In the past four years Jack has
raised more money than any politician in the city. You can see that cash
at work by looking at his legislative record (http://www.council.washington.dc.us).
Every year Jack introduces dozens of pieces of special-interest
legislation -- tax breaks, tax deferrals, alley closings, permit
exemptions, regulatory “clarifications,” and outright giveaways in
the form of tax-increment financing. Almost all of his output is created
under the guise of either temporary or emergency legislation, which
allows him to bypass the normal legislative process, and almost all of
it benefits the deep pockets who fund his elections. He is also a
reliable source for ceremonial resolutions.
It is true that if you call or write Jack's office, you will get a
sympathetic phone call in return. What you won't get is action. Mundane
issues like police responsiveness, trash collection, parking, nuisance
properties, the schools, or liquor regulation appear to interest Jack
not in the least. In his twelve years on the council, Jack has authored
hundreds of pieces of legislation, but not one with the intent of
improving the quality of life of the residents of Ward 2.
Jack Evans’s Responsiveness
David Sobelsohn, email@example.com
In the last issue of themail, Renee Schwager wrote a long paean to
Jack Evans's constituent services. Since my experience is so completely
different from Renee's — I rarely get a reply E-mail or a returned
telephone call — I'm wondering if Renee can share her secret with us.
Is there some particular individual currently in Evans's office we
should contact next time we have a constituent problem? And what is that
individual's telephone number and E-mail address? The next time my local
police are unresponsive it would be nice if my own councilmember would
take the problem seriously enough at least to acknowledge an E-mail
message. It's odd that I got a reply from Jim Graham and not from Jack
Evans to a complaint about something that happened in Ward Two to one of
Jack Evans's constituents.
Perhaps Evans is looking at the electoral map, and has instructed his
staff to ignore contacts from constituents he's got rid of in
redistricting. Or maybe the difference relates to vocal political
support, which Renee provides for Evans and I don't. I remember a major
meeting of the Ward Two Dems, back when Evans was running for mayor. I
hadn't decided how to vote. When I wandered into Evans's hospitality
room, the people staffing the room greeted me with, "Are you an
Evans supporter?" When I said I hadn't decided, they told me to
return when I had. Since then, the only thing I've found reliable about
Jack Evans's constituent services are his holiday greetings cards.
Incidentally, I wonder how much the themail postings on city
councilmembers' responsiveness reflects where themail subscribers live.
We haven't heard anything at all about most councilmembers. And does
anyone even bother to contact at-large councilmembers about constituent
License Plates and Political Messages
Stan Wellborn, firstname.lastname@example.org
Another reason that the District must supply an alternative license
plate derives from a series of state and federal court decisions several
years ago. A car owner in New Hampshire objected to the phrase “Live
Free or Die” on the state license plate, and sued the government of
New Hampshire. The courts decided that taxpayers should not be forced to
display a political message on their cars. In the District's case, the
Corporation Counsel determined that “Taxation Without
Representation” is a political message, and thus DC had to provide
alternative plates. Otherwise, they were sure to face legal challenges.
I do not know whether the DMV provides information to car owners about
the optional license tag.
Why Not Claim What You Wish to Assert
William Haskett, email@example.com
A curiosity: why does the DC license plate not make a claim of “no
taxation without representation,” and settles, instead, for the quite
pallid and immediately meaningless declaration that reads “taxation
without representation”? Is this last a simple factual assertion, an
offer, a proposal, an incomplete sentence?
Should it read, “Taxation without Representation is . . . .” (put
your own choice here)? Bumper sticker non-thought is everywhere too
common, so I would settle for the claim, and avoid the empty factualness
of the present form of words. Is the license plate “official” in
this sense? And, if so, what is it asserting, and what should it be
9. You have a choice between using $7.3 million of capital
improvement funds to renovate a public school to the specifications and
for the use of a politically well-positioned national organization which
has yet to provide hard data on its usefulness or to renovate buildings
for various District citizens. Where do you put the dollars?
[This posting responds to my invitation in the last issue to send
additional questions to test Mayor Williams's ability to “draw the
line.” The reference is to the National Children's Alliance plans for
the Gales School Building — Gary Imhoff]
Those who are opposed to pigeons in the ongoing debate about pigeon
feeding may want to take a look at the lyrics to Tom Lehrer's
“Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” http://www.keaveny.demon.co.uk/lehrer/lyrics/pigeon.htm.
I wonder if the pigeon-haters in our midst prefer the ten pound
squawking, cawing crows that have taken the place of pigeons in many
neighborhoods. I don't know the ecology of birds, but it does seem that
the crows appeared only after the pigeons disappeared. Then too, I
wonder what St. Marks Square would be without pigeons. I used to enjoy
being awakened by the soft cooing of pigeons until my next door
neighbors installed some vicious-looking wire/spike contraption on their
Maybe we should invite the NRA to come in to hunt them, like they do
deer in the Cradle of the Confederacy. But really, have we come so far
from our roots as creatures that we cannot stand any wild thing sharing
our environment? Come on folks, loosen up a little! Live and let live.
DC Democrats Threaten to Throw Out David
Ron Daniels, Jr., firstname.lastname@example.org
The DC Democratic Party Leadership has notified at DC Democrats that
if they support publicly or privately David Catania for Mayor, they will
be thrown out of the Democratic Party like a sack of potatoes.
Councilman Catania recently made an appearance in Ward 8 and was warmly
greeted by a mostly Democratic audience that encouraged the 2nd term
Councilmember to run for mayor. We urge you to schedule a meet David
Catania night in2002 your community at your home or a
neighbor's home by calling Councilman Catania's office today at
727-1000. Hear about his legislative goals for this year and his views
on the growing corruption in the District Government, and how we as
citizens can make government work for all people.
Suit Against Ward 8 Redistricting Plan
Robin Denise Ijames, email@example.com
We are seeking Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners to file a class
action suit against the Mendleson redistricting plan for ANC's. In Ward
8 a plan was submitted which was not approved by the Redistricting
Committee. Also members of the Green Party and Independents should join
this suit. Contact Commissioner Robin D. Ijames at 563-6769 or E-mail
Thank You, DCWatch
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
As the king of windbags this will be my shortest post, in honor of
DCWatch. Thank you, DCWatch. (OK, it won’t be my shortest post,
because I can’t stop with just that.) DCWatch offers an important
public service in DC’s civil life and community. It’s not for
everyone, and nothing is. But, I’m grateful that you’ve allowed me
to speak. I encourage others who get even a slight urge to type some
words in the public forum of DC Watch — but hesitate — to speak
their voice. I can’t think of a place in the world with more promise,
or one more in need of watchful and loving attention.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
5th Annual DC Charter School Job Fair
Dolores Young, email@example.com
The 5th annual DC charter school job fair, presented by the DC Public
Charter School Resource Center, will be held on Saturday, March 9, 9:00
a.m.-3:00 p.m., at Howard University, Burr Gymnasium, 2400 6th Street,
NW. By bus, #70 Georgia Avenue; by train, Green Line to Howard/Shaw
station. Take Georgia Avenue to Gresham. See Howard University campus
map at http://188.8.131.52/CampusMaps/MapA.htm.
DC Public Charter Schools offer unique learning and teaching
environments. Existing public charter schools are expanding and two new
schools are scheduled to open in September. All 42 campuses seek
exceptional school leaders, teachers, administrative professionals, and
support staff. Join us if you are interested in this exciting new
industry. Registration: bring one copy of your resume to register and at
least twenty to distribute. Candidates must register at the Job Fair to
receive charter school profiles and job descriptions for SY 2002-03
Pediatric HIV/AIDS Care Work Day will be held Saturday, March 2, from
9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at a center that assists, strengthens and preserves
the well being of families with children affected by HIV and AIDS in the
greater Washington area. The children attend, on a once a week basis,
after-school programs that include dinner (provided by DC Central
Kitchen/Food and Friends). A sampling of what volunteers are needed to
do is carpentry, plumbing, cleaning, organize files, install ceiling
fan, others are railing to basement is loose; set up room for computers;
set computers on desks; determine additional equipment and furniture
needs for computer area; take inventory of closet and shelves in room;
clear out stairwell up to first floor; build shelving. In the classroom,
organize and inventory supplies; label storage bins; list needs for room
(i.e., chalk, eraser, etc.); doors under sink replaced. The Center also
needs two gently used vacuum cleaners, ceiling fans, hanging drawer file
cabinets and recycling bins. It is located on M Street, between 4th and
5th Streets, NW If you would like to volunteer — we need you — or
have questions, please telephone either Sarah Barnett, 248-3212 home or
776-7821 office; or Gerri Graves, the Executive Director, at 347-5366.
CLASSIFIEDS — HELP WANTED
Administrative Assistant, DC
Heritage Tourism Coalition
Juanda Mixon, Juanda@dcheritagetourism.org
The DC Heritage Tourism Coalition is seeking an
administrative assistant to provide clerical and general administrative
support for Coalition staff and consultants, and in particular for the
Executive Director. While the job includes basic clerical duties, it
also provides opportunities to interact with a great variety of people
throughout Washington, to participate in cultural programs, and to
become creatively involved developing new administrative systems. The
job includes the following responsibilities: General clerical: Answering
the telephone, managing mail and fax; assisting with copying, mailings,
and deliveries, making meeting arrangements and keeping calendars,
fulfilling requests, ordering supplies, answering routine
correspondence, and other clerical duties as assigned. Financial
assistance: Writing checks and assisting with financial records.
Computer assistance: Maintaining databases. Program assistance:
Attending meetings as requested and providing general assistance for
Coalition programs and special events.
Skills and aptitudes: Strong interpersonal and communication skills;
ability to write and speak clearly; excellent computer skills including
database entry and management; experience with Excel, Microsoft Word,
and E-mail required; familiarity with Microsoft Publisher, Powerpoint,
and Access a plus. Must be willing to take initiative and work in an
organized and efficient manner in situations that involve multiple
tasks. A college degree is preferred. A knowledge of and interest in the
District of Columbia and its cultural institutions is a plus. References
required. Salary: $30,000 plus benefits Fax cover letter, resume and
references to 202-661-7599, attention Heritage.
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