Thomas Wentworth Higginson is best known today for the two or three
years that he spent commanding a black regiment in the Civil War, but
during his lifetime he was best known as a writer. A charming essay of
his is “Parts of a Man's Life: Books Unread,” in which this
paragraph appears: “Matthew Arnold once replied to a critic who
accused him of a lack of learning that the charge was true, but that he
often wished he had still less of that possession, so hard did he find
it to carry lightly what he knew. The only knowledge that involves no
burden lies, it may be justly claimed, in the books that are left
unread. I mean those which remain undisturbed, long and perhaps forever,
on a student's bookshelves; books for which he possibly economized, and
to obtain which he went without his dinner; books on whose backs his
eyes have rested a thousand times, tenderly and almost lovingly, until
he has perhaps forgotten the very language in which they are written. He
has never read them, yet during these years there has never been a day
when he would have sold them; they are a part of his youth. In dreams he
turns to them; in dreams he reads Hebrew again; he knows what a
Differential Equation is; 'how happy could he be with either.' He
awakens, and whole shelves of his library are, as it were, like fair
maidens who smiled on him in their youth but once, and then passed away.
Under different circumstances, who knows but one of them might have been
his? As it is, they have grown old apart from him; yet for him they
retain their charms.”
It's true. I was once well educated. In high school I couldn't read
Hebrew or Greek, but I could read Latin. I did know what a differential
equation was. I could do calculus and trigonometry, and I even knew what
they were good for. I knew something about physics and chemistry; I had
a rudimentary knowledge of world history and literature; and I could
play the piano and clarinet pretty well. That was all in the past. As I
have aged, I have slipped free of most of my knowledge; it hasn't
burdened me because I have left it behind me. Instead of being well and
broadly educated, I have learned more and more about less and less. And
the saddest thing is that what I know most about is the DC government.
Instead of a misspent youth, I have had a misspent adulthood.
Ivan Walks’ Resignation
Carolyn Curtis, Cabcurtis@aol.com
The Washington Post carried the story about Ivan Walks'
resignation from the Department of Health effective May 1, 2002. Does it
seem curious as to why he would leave so soon after the glowing report
of a reduction in infant mortality? On February 20, 2002, the Joint
Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
visited Greater Southeast on 2/20/02 to 2/25/02 for its survey that
occurs every three years. Public testimony is a part of the survey
process by JCAHO, and it provides information for them to consider for
investigation during the time of the survey.
On February 20, 2002, public testimony was given before the Joint
Commission on the Accreditation of HealthCare Organizations by members
of the DC Health Care Coalition and other citizens and union members.
Their testimony included examples of patient deaths due to gross
negligence, refusal of specialists to treat Healthcare Alliance
patients; safety concerns for the public and patients because arrestees
in handcuffs are allowed to sit in public areas (arrestees are
handcuffed to beds at DC General sometimes for four to five hours); the
kitchen at DC General is not open after 4 p.m. on weekdays and closed on
weekends. During this time there is no facility for food for the
patients or staff; special diet food is not available. Food is delivered
on Friday night, stored in Styrofoam containers, and it must last until
Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday is a holiday); there have been no fire or
disaster drills at DC General since Greater Southeast assumed management
of the facility; patients at DC General are subjected to delays and
excessive wait times for transport to inpatient services, with wait
times of 24 to 48 hours in the DC General emergency room before they can
be transported to Greater Southeast for admission; GSECH engages in
practices that result in denial of care to a particularly vulnerable
population; no hot water in the DCG clinic during February 2002 and
Greater Southeast Community Hospital received a rating of 84 on its
last survey done by JCAHO in December 1998. This rating was the lowest
of all hospitals in Washington, DC. Loss of accreditation by the JACHO
results in the inability to bill Medicaid for services rendered. The
Medicaid population makes up the group of individuals who are eligible
to participate in the DC Health Care Alliance. Perhaps the results of
this most recent JCAHO survey is what has sent Dr. Walks packing.
DC’s Newest Euphemism: “Reservation 13”
Thomas C. Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Washington Business Journal, March 1-7, 2002 edition:
“. . . District officials have surgically removed 'DC General
Hospital' from all cityspeak references to the 67-acre site on which the
controversial, closed hospital sits just south of RFK Stadium. It’s
now officially 'Reservation 13,' a euphemism that is far less likely to
stir protests, as occurred last summer when the District’s only public
hospital was closed. Mayor Tony Williams pulled the plug on DC General,
despite a 13-0 vote by the DC Council to keep the hospital open.
“DC Planning Director Andy Altman says the new name wasn’t chosen
for its political correctness. 'It’s just more accurate to call it
“Reservation 13,”' Altman says. 'DC General is only part of the
picture at that site.' The Office of Planning (www.planning.dc.gov) is
holding site tours and public discussions March 1-3 on the future uses
of DC Gen — oops, Reservation 13. The federally owned campus is being
transferred to District control.”
Quotes of the week: “Citizens have lost confidence in the ability
of the DC government to do real economic development in
neighborhoods,” Councilmember Adrian Fenty at a February 28 oversight
hearing of the Council Committee on Economic Development. Fenty was
expressing his frustration regarding the poor performance of community
development corporations in Ward 4 and his anger that the DC government
continues to fund and work with them.
“I get to appoint a lot of commissioners and they get a view that
they are Supreme Court judges, [that] they are independent and don't
have to listen to me. So what you gonna do?” Mayor Williams,
expressing his frustration over the fact that independent boards and
commissions, particularly the DC Local Business Opportunity Commission
and the Taxicab Commission, actually act independently.
Comings and goings: Kwasi Holman, former Director of the DC Office of
Business and Economic Development under Marion Barry and former
president of the DC Chamber of Commerce, has returned to the DC
government payroll as Director of Business Development at the National
Capital Revitalization Corporation. Meanwhile, Richard Monteilh,
formerly Director of the DC Department of Housing and Community
Development, has suddenly submitted his resignation as the current
president of the DC Chamber of Commerce.
Yet another going: Ivan Walks' resignation as Director of the
Department of Health surprised many, but others had expected it. Walks'
relationship with the Executive Office of the Mayor, particularly with
Chief of Staff Kelvin Robinson, had deteriorated over the past four
months. Some observers of the EOM believe that Robinson resented the
press attention Walks was receiving. Robinson tried to deflate Walks'
ego and put him “in his place” by criticizing Walks' performance
during the EOM's annual review of cabinet members. In a stormy meeting,
Robinson criticized Walks for failing to develop an effective rat
abatement program, among other things. The mayor's staff also privately
acknowledges that the controversy surrounding the closure of DC General
will dog Williams' reelection campaign, and that Walks' resignation,
effective May 1, will remove a public symbol of that closure prior to
the summer campaign season.
Another Amazing Example of Representation
David Berry, Capitol Hill, email@example.com
According to the Washington Post, Council Member Ambrose said
the following in response to the rise in property taxes for Capitol
Hill: “'Oh my goodness. That's shocking,' said DC Council member
Sharon Ambrose (D), whose Ward 6 includes the Hill. 'Capitol Hill folks
will not be happy at all.'” I thought it was her job to know what the
DC Government was doing and represent our interests. I wasn't shocked
about the news about property taxes, and unfortunately I'm not shocked
about the lack of representation.
I would happy to pay additional property taxes if there was any real
expectation that DC Government services would improve — if I could
park on my Capitol Hill street while Congress was in session, if the
streets/sidewalks would be repaired, if the sewer system in my
neighborhood was properly repaired, if the Metropolitan police patrolled
the park in front of my house on a regular basis, if the burned out
street lights were replaced, or if my DC City Council Representative
paid attention to what was going on around her. (I would be willing to
pay a lot more if DC had good public schools and a good public health
Citizens’ Guide to the Congressional
Approval Process for DC
Mark Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary has kindly posted my “final” version of what started calling
the “Rider Report” during the Appropriations process (http://www.dcwatch.com/richards/010907.htm).
The purpose of this report is to make the process more transparent and
to show the extent of federal amendments to DC's budget. This version is
a case study reflecting the beginning to end process for gaining
Congressional approval for DC's current (FY 2002) operating budget.
Although I find nothing is ever perfect, I have tried to be responsive
incorporating new learning/information drawn to my attention. I have
also inserted verbatim quotes from Congressional leaders so you can see
just what they argue about DC and their role on the floor of Congress. I
hope this will be useful as DC prepares, yet again, to have its local
budget approved by Congress. It is beyond the scope of this document to
study inefficiencies and waste in DC's government. Members of DCWatch
address that subject quite nicely.
Here are three comments I draw from watching the FY 2002 process: (1)
The amendments forbidding DC from using its own funds for either DC
statehood or voting rights lumps both "pressure groups"
together as one. These egregious and insulting riders have received no
attention in the media. There are stories to be told about these riders.
Nevertheless, nothing forbids DC's elected officials from speaking out
on this issue, so they should turn up the volume. Put Taxation without
Representation on DC's flag until Congress honors the man whose coat of
arms it represents It is an insult to fly is coat of arms over an area
that still doesn't share in the benefits of what he fought for. And,
nothing stops DC's officials from funding our statehood Delegation.
Elected officials should work with our current and future statehood
Delegation to develop transparent objectives and milestones and link
funding to product. (2) DC can stop amendments if it is well organized
in cooperation with national organizations with good lobbyists.
Congresswoman Norton's office could help by providing more information.
The coalition-building example this year is the removal of the
restriction forbidding DC from using local funds to implement its
Domestic Partnership Law. My understanding is that without Human Rights
Campaign involvement this would not have occurred. So the time is now to
think about coalition building. (3) Senator Paul Strauss (D-DC) pointed
out to me that this year's process is a new first-in 2002 Congress
effectively micromanaged and legislated in all three branches of DC's
government, including the judiciary. It modified DC's Home Rule Charter
without citizen approval. If you think DC can ever have a stable local
government while it is under the exclusive legislative authority of
Congress, think again. Only a status change can solve this problem.
Until that time, Congress is DC's unelected “legislature,” and DC's
Mayor and Council are merely facilitators to whom Congress has delegated
limited powers to help them achieve their “responsibility.” DC
voters have the honor of electing its “legislator's” helpers. Thank
the Buddha for that!
Disappointments in Public Education: Hang
’Em on the Schools or the Parent(s)?
Len Sullivan, email@example.com
Why should poorer school kids do so much worse in public schools than
better off kids? It must be more than the school lunches and household
income. What can we learn from the Census data? And what are the latest
trends in nationwide poverty? Who's poor now and where are they living?
And is there any connection to our interest in designing a new
“capitol esplanade”? The answers can be found in the March update of
the NARPAC web site at http://www.narpac.org/INTHOM.HTM.
Take a look. Get positively involved.
Valerie Kenyon Gaffney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: “Jack Evans Delivers — for Deep Pockets” by Nick Keenan and
“Jack Evans's Responsiveness” by David Sobelsohn — well said! I
have lived in Evens' district for all of the ten years I have lived in
DC. Although I have only attempted contact with Mr. Evans on a couple of
occasions, I have never — not once! — heard back from him, not even
by way of the say nothing form letter responses one receives from the
Mayor's office. Evans certainly doesn't represent me and as far as I'm
concerned, given an opportunity (by anyone!) to unseat him in the next
election, I will willingly vote for that anyone so that Evans will no
longer NOT represent me.
Bursting Your Bubble
Richard Worthington-Rogers, Strngman20001@aol.com
When a carryout restaurant near 9th and O Streets, NW, was diverting
sewage into the storm drain, I called Jack Evans' office. The very next
day the Health Department was on site and shut the violator down.
Ron Daniels misses the facts by a country mile in his post last week
concerning the DC Democratic Party. He claimed 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.”
Point #1: the DC Democratic Party has 254,628 enrolled members. They
have received no such notice from the Party leadership. Point #2: the
Party has no means to determine what individual Democrats do privately.
Democrats who punch a Republican ballot in the privacy of the voting
booth or admit to their sin of voting Republican in the privacy of the
confessional do so without any knowledge or oversight of the Party
leaders. Neither of these locations have any of the new video cameras we
have heard so much about. Point #3: elected Party leaders are not even
required to publicly support the Party ticket. However, those who are
officers of the Party are required not to publicly oppose the Party
ticket. Those who violate this are not thrown out of the Party, as was
falsely claimed. They maintain their membership and all rights. However,
they are and should be removed as Party officers. The Republicans follow
the same practice.
DC Residency Requirement Unconstitutional?
Taylor T. Simmons, TTSimmons@aol.com
I think Mr. Sobelsohn has pointed out an interesting angle here.
Suppose the Maryland-residing DC Inspector General, Charles Maddox, were
to defend against calls for his ouster by claiming that the DC residency
requirement (and the resultant disenfranchisement) was unconstitutional?
Or suppose he was fired, and then successfully sued the city for
wrongful dismissal on those grounds. The question is, would such a
finding in a court of law do anything to support the city's case for
full voting representation with the U.S. Congress? Or would it merely
stand as yet another example of DC citizens' disenfranchisement?
The constitutionality of residency requirements for municipal
employees would not be a question of first impression for the federal
courts. Although I don't have the citations handy, I'm pretty sure there
are a few appellate rulings and perhaps even a Supreme Court ruling —
most of which support the constitutionality of the requirements.
Actually, the “Taxation Without Representation” slogan fits in
with a tradition of tag slogans that simply identify an identifying
characteristic or nickname of a state. Florida is the “Sunshine
State,” Illinois is the “Land of Lincoln,” Connecticut is the
“Constitution State” (although that, like the state's Charter Oak
references, refers to the state's constitution, not the US one). Montana
has “Big Sky,” New Mexico is the “Land of Enchantment,” and DC
has “Taxation Without Representation.” I would love someone who
thinks it's a political statement to explain why — seems like an
observation of fact to me, and the only political piece is how one feels
about taxation without representation.
Slogans without Representation
Larry Lesser, LBLesser@aol.com
To the question why anyone would resist having “Taxation Without
Representation” on their license plate: I don't want to have political
slogans on my car, simple as that. I'll decide where and when to let
people know my political positions.
Messages on License Plates
John Wheeler, email@example.com
I think people commenting on the requirement that people have a
choice of no message if a license plate has a political message are not
correctly interpreting the New Hampshire situation. New Hampshire
license plates have the slogan, “Live Free or Die” on it. My
recollection is that someone taped over that message and the person
received a citation for concealing part of the license plate. My
recollection is that the court held (it may have gone all the way to
U.S. Supreme Court) that under the First Amendment, the state cannot
prevent someone from covering up the political statement. Likewise, you
could cover up “Sunshine State” on Florida's plates. But I don't
think DC is required to give you an alternative plate if you don't like
the “Taxation Without Representation” slogan currently on the
plates. If you don't like it, put tape on the message.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Low Cost Green Solutions for Rowhouses
Alan Abrams, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is your friendly reminder that the Green Building Network will
be hosting its meeting next Tuesday, March 5. Again, the location and
time has been changed due to the topic and guest speakers. The meeting
will be from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the Benton Building in Baltimore, near
the City Hall.
The topic of this month's meeting will be innovative green building
techniques for low-income rowhouse owners. We are extremely fortunate to
have representatives from the Philadelphia Energy Coordinating Agency
come down and explain their Cool Homes Program. Since 1993, there have
been over 250 deaths in the city directly related to “killer heat
waves.” To address this very serious problem, the Program provides
low-income rowhouse owners with reflective roofing materials. This has
been shown to dramatically decrease the indoor air temperature, and
thereby saving countless lives. It also directly addresses the Urban
Heat Island Effect. The second presentation will be from Dr. Mark Bundy,
DNR, and Julie Gabrielli, AIA-COTE, on their study on implementing green
building techniques in Baltimore low-income rowhouse renovations and
rehabilitations. Mark and Julie will provide preliminary data on whether
green building techniques can be used without significant increases in
design and construction costs. This should be an outstanding
presentation, especially for local government representatives addressing
low-income and/or close communities. As always, please feel free to
contact me if you have any questions.
Conversations with Newsmakers
Kathy Sinzinger, NewsDC@aol.com
Join us for another in a series of monthly, after-work networking
opportunities. The Common Denominator presents the second of its
conversations with newsmakers on Friday, March 15, from 6:30 to 8:30
p.m., at Kelly's Ellis Island Restaurant, 3908 12th Street, NE, in
Our special guest this month will be Timothy Jenkins, interim
president of the University of the District of Columbia. In recent
testimony before the city council, Jenkins dubbed himself a “citizens'
president — freer to tell the truth” than his predecessors because
he is not seeking permanent appointment as UDC president. In this
critical time for UDC, when it is trying to rebuild the vision for the
District's only public institution of higher learning into reality and
get itself on a solid financial footing for the future, President
Jenkins will join us in an informal gathering to discuss the status of
No reservations are necessary to attend this event. Cash bar. (Ellis
Island also offers a full dinner menu.) Free parking is available on and
off the street. Ellis Island also is within walking distance of the
Brookland/CUA stop on Metro's Red Line. For directions or more
information, call Kathy Sinzinger at The Common Denominator at
635-6397 or E-mail her at NewsDC@aol.com.
Do you believe in engaging in open and honest dialogue about matters
affecting our society and personal lives? Open Space Forum No. 8:
Understanding Conflict with Others as a Form of Conflict within
Ourselves, Saturday, March 16, 4:30 - 7 p.m.,: DCJCC, 1529 16th Street
NW (Enter through Q Street entrance), $5.
What to Bring: a snack for the group and paint brushes and/or masking
tape for the upcoming renovation of a homeless shelter by the Morris
Cafritz Center for Community Service. Hosted by: Ivor Heyman (email@example.com)
nd the Morris Cafritz Center for Community Service. The central theme we
will explore this month in the Open Space Forum is how we can reframe
our conflicts with others as struggles that exist within ourselves. The
Open Space Forum meets informally on a monthly basis, bringing together
a group of people from diverse backgrounds to discuss issues in an open
and inclusive way. Please visit http://www.mediate-facilitate.com
for more information on the Open Space Forum.
CLASSIFIEDS — FOR SALE
Two movie tickets for free admission at any Cineplex Odeon, Regal or
AMC movie theater. Good for any seating Monday through Thursday.
$12/best offer for both. Responses to Topspindc@aol.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Ryan Edelstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm looking for recommendations for a plumber to do some minor
repairs and possibly some renovations. Anyone happy with their plumber?
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