Open and Transparent Goverment
Inexplicably, the Administration's draft master plan for the DC
General Site, which city officials are now calling “Reservation 13,”
hasn't been released to the public or published on the Office of
Planning's web site or the special web site for the planning process.
Never fear; read it here: http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/res13-020331.htm.
The whole planning process for the DC General site has once again
demonstrated this administration's dedication to doing insider deals
with favored developers behind closed doors. St. Coletta's School was
given prime acreage before the process began, and the public
participants weren't even informed about it until after the planning
process was well underway. The Department of Health will put
administrative offices and labs on the site, and the administration is
passing this off as “health care facilities,” when what the vast
majority of neighborhood participants wanted instead was real health
care facilities at which people could actually get health services.
Citizens can fuss and fume at public meetings, but their “input”
changes nothing. Representatives of the Office of Planning are perfectly
willing to sit through endless meetings at which residents are allowed
to spout off, as long as nothing that the residents say will have any
effect. Mere residents and citizens of this city are nothing more than
window dressing at planning charades, invited in to give a gloss of
decisions that have already been made.
Memo to the Andrew Altman at the Office of Planning: I don't want to
give any more input. Keep your “opportunities for input”; they're a
waste of people's time. You've known that from the beginning, and
citizens in community after community have come to realize it. Instead
of input, give citizens power. I want citizens to have real, effective
power over the development decisions made by this government. If you're
not willing to do that, stop the pretense.
John Koskinen is currently both the City Administrator and the Deputy
Mayor for Operations, but these days Koskinen is feeling overwhelmed and
tired by his long work hours. To accommodate him, the FY 2003 DC budget
indicates that the Williams administration has decided to separate the
two positions: “A new Deputy Mayor for Operations (being proposed in
FY 2002) will focus on infrastructure and support operations of the
Departments of Motor Vehicles, Public Works, and Transportation, and the
offices of the Chief Technology Officer, Contracting and Procurement,
Personnel, Property Management and Risk Management.” This will free
Koskinen, as City Administrator, to concentrate on the “bigger
issues,” policy, and planning.
The actual reason that the two positions may have to be separated is
the out-of-control bloating of the City Administrator's office under the
Williams administration. The operating budget for the City
Administrator's office has doubled from $15.1 million in FY 2000 to a
proposed $30.2 million in FY 2003, and the staff of the office has
nearly tripled in the same three years, from 38 to 111.
A national search is now underway to recruit a Deputy Mayor for
Operations. According to sources, the leading candidate at this time is
the only DC-area resident under consideration: Herbert R. Tillery, the
Executive Director of George Washington University's Center for
Excellence in Municipal Management (a joint project of GWU, the District
government, and the Fannie Mae Foundation). Foggy Bottom residents, now
as always battling constant real estate encroachments from the
University, will be sure to view Tillery's appointment as the latest
example of GW president Stephen Trachtenberg's influence within the
Williams administration. But the administration is sure to argue that
the Center's mission of producing excellent city managers is what
recommended Tillery. Tillery has demonstrated how successful his own
management skills are in his previous position with DC government, as
Chief of Staff to the Control Board's appointed School Superintendent,
General Julius Becton.
We Get the Government We Deserve
Jonetta Rose Barras, firstname.lastname@example.org
Not only is the recent report by Inspector General Charles Maddox
alarming for what it does not disclose about the clandestine fundraising
activities of aides of Mayor Anthony A. Williams but equally troubling
is the reaction by civic and political leaders. DC Councilmembers, such
as Mayor-in-Wanting Kevin Chavous, have correctly argued that the IG
left far too many questions unanswered and sanitized the report, using
inexact language that neither fully exonerated the mayor nor fully held
him accountable for his posse of influence peddlers and fund collectors.
But then Chavous and the others backed away from the obvious course of
action, which is demanding more from the IG or from the mayor. Ward 8
Democratic leader and political operative Philip Pannell suggested that
no one cares except political junkies, who have nothing better to do
with their time. And former financial control board chairman Alice
Rivlin told the Washington Times the fundraising fiasco is
“unfortunate” but “not a major threat. It would be unfortunate if
it deflects from the business of improving the government and the
economy.” Ms. Rivlin always has had a myopic, flawed definition of
what constitutes government improvements. (But let's save that for
another discussion). This attitude is what sponsored the philosophy of
government-for-the-highest-bidder during the several tenures of Marion
S. Barry, Jr. It helped usher in the period where government served not
the people who needed it most but special interests and cronies,
eventually resulting in six major agencies slipping into court-order
The fundraising conducted by Williams’ underlings is important.
Residents — taxpaying, law-abiding, residents who want good, clean
government — should be very concerned, and maybe even a little
hysterical. Here's why: First, the integrity and highest ethical
standard of the office of the mayor has essentially been eroded. It's
rare that anyone notices the incremental damage of erosion, until the
soil has been completely eaten away threatening the entire
infrastructure. Who paid any attention when Barry gave a contract to one
friend, then another? It wasn’t until there was ample evidence that
Barry's friends were getting rich while the poor were becoming poorer
that folks began to shout, albeit not nearly loudly enough, for change.
Like children mimicking their parents, government employees and agency
directors take their lead from the chief executive. If they have been
following Williams they may have already concluded that the best way to
avert culpability is to blame subordinates or recite mea culpa 100 times
before any television camera or newspaper reporter, while simultaneously
avoiding procurement regulations, the Hatch Act, ethic counselors, and
campaign finance laws.
The second reason for citizens not to divert their attention is that
large sums of money remain unaccounted for. Not only have the mayor and
his people been unable to document how much they collected, from whom,
and for what, they also have not quantified how many taxpayer dollars
were spent in this effort. Consider for a moment the IG's conclusion
based on his investigation that some staff in the mayor’s office spent
all their time passing the plate. Because you and I, through our taxes,
pay their salary, we in essence subsidized this unethical and perhaps
illegal activity. The staff person hustling greenbacks for thinly veiled
political activities could have been working on improving education, or
finding money for the pitiful library system, or helping to improve the
city’s mental health delivery system. Third, there was a clear
indication of a quid pro quo: One nonprofit, the Church Association for
Community Services, indicated that it provided blank checks to Williams'
aides with the understanding that it would get the mayor's blessing for
a federal contract, and perhaps more. The question that must be asked is
how many other times did the Williams administration permit itself to be
bought, compromised in much the same way as Barry was during his
repeated turns at the public trough. Did the developers in Columbia
Heights, for example, win that bid because they offered something to the
mayor and his boys? Just who has come through the front door because he
slipped a little something under the back door?
Finally, it is enough to engage in unethical or possible illegal
activities, but then to aid in the destruction of other organizations is
unconscionable. How, you ask did the mayor and his folks do this? Well,
let's take the example of the CACS. As a nonprofit the organization
cannot engage in certain political activities. Not only did it do that
with the assistance of mayoral staffers, but it also diverted its
attention and money to activities that were inconsistent with its
mission, now endangering its tax-exempt status. Residents who are
supporters of Williams also ought to feel betrayed. Here was the man who
not only was going to revive the notion of good government and reform
municipal delivery systems, but who also was going to restore a good
name and reputation for integrity to the office of the mayor. The IG
report indicates that, at least on the latter, Williams and his minions
have failed miserably. And mea culpa just isn’t enough anymore.
Mayor Williams has nominated former Councilmember H.R. Crawford to
serve on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports
Authority, one of the most prestigious and important of this city's
boards and commissions (http://www.dcwatch.com/council14/14-609).
Crawford's appointment and confirmation process are being overseen by
Ron Collins, director of the Mayor's Office of Boards and Commissions
and formerly a senior member of Crawford's Council staff. Last year,
Crawford lobbied the Mayor to appoint Collins to the Boards and
Crawford, long an ally of Marion Barry, was also an early supporter
of Williams. He helped to fund and set up Williams' Ward 7 campaign
office in 1998, provided office space and support for the Mayor's school
charter amendment campaign, and has served as a member of the Mayor's
kitchen cabinet since 1998. As detailed in the Inspector General's
report on the Mayor's fundraising, Crawford also provided the $2000 that
was used to pay Caroline Parrish for chauffeuring the Mayor's mother:
“According to JONES, Dr. OMER tasked him to find a way to pay PARRISH
and to keep her quiet. JONES admitted that he solicited funds from H.R.
CRAWFORD, former DC Council member, former HUD official, local real
estate development, and neighbor of PARRISH, who donated $1,500 to CACS
in August 2000 and $500 to EFG in December 2000. CRAWFORD advised that
he knew that his donations were to support PARRISH. He specifically
remembered being contacted by JONES and by Louise 'Lucy' YOUNG, a
contract employee and assistant to JONES, for these donations and for
instructions on drafting the checks.”
Taxation Without Representation
Pete Ross, email@example.com
Let us stop grousing about our enslavement and begin to make noise.
Women got the right to vote in the early part of the last century by
demonstrating. Blacks got full voting rights by demonstrating. Now is
time for us DC residents to get full voting rights. Join the effort.
Check out http://www.taxationwithoutrepresentation.org.
Let's make noise. We cannot be docile lambs permitting ourselves to be
slaughtered by a Congress where we do not have representation.
The mailman delivered today, Friday, April 5, a Christmas card that
was mailed Friday, December 21, 2001. Have you heard one better than
A very good article about red light cameras from the Weekly
Standard. It's a bit long, in five parts, and very critical of them,
but it's a good read: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/078ftoqz.asp.
Something Good about the DC Government
Pete Ross, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last fall, the DC government placed barrels with sand along several
of the streets in our neighborhood to be used when it snows. On
Thursday, April 3, I observed a crew with two trucks retrieving the sand
barrels. I noticed that the crew retrieving the barrels were dumping the
sand and taking just the barrels, leaving piles of sand in the streets.
I placed two calls to the DC government, one to Bill Rice, spokesperson
for the DOT (671-2004), and a second call to the office of Councilmember
Kathy Patterson (724-8062) at approximately 9:00 a.m. Much to my
surprise, by 11:30 a.m., the DC government had already sent someone to
our neighborhood to investigate this dumping of sand on our streets and
had all of the streets cleaned up by the middle of the afternoon.
The DOT had sent Carlson Klathor (645-7050), Chief of Investigations
& Inspections for the DOT, who personally came to look at what
happened and find out why this occurred. Complements to the DC
government for its quick and timely response with this problem. On
Friday, I received an E-mail from Bill Rice informing me that he
believes that the sand barrels were dumped because they were being
stolen. The thieves wanted the barrels. If anyone notices a crew in
their neighborhood dumping the sand before taking the sand barrels, note
the license on the truck and call the police (and Bill Rice). They are
probably being stolen.
Painting Street Light Poles — Follow-up
Phil Carney, email@example.com
One week to the day that street light poles were “mostly” painted
around Dupont Circle, I saw two DC government employees repainting the
same poles. Hoping to not be recognized, I pulled down my cap, walked by
and said with genuine sincerity, “Looks good, thanks a lot.” They
replied, “Thank you.” And it does look better.
Alphabet Soup, MetroLite, and Regional
Indecision on Transportation
Len Sullivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever lie awake nights wondering what APTA, COG, FTA, GAO, LRTA, NTSC,
and WMATA think about HRT, LRT, and BRT? Throughout the national capital
metro area, the tough decisions have yet to be made on how to expand
urban public transit. How should DC's outstanding Metrorail (HRT) system
be expanded? Do modern multiunit trolleys (LRT) have a niche in DC, and
how would 'MetroLite' compare with new concepts for bus rapid transit (BRT)?
What have other cities got? Where might Very Light Rail fit in? Which
threat is more likely to constrain DC's future growth: random acts of
terrorism or deliberate acts of indecision on the region's
transportation needs? NARPAC's answers can be found in the April update
of its web site at http://www.narpac.org/INTHOM.HTM.
Take a ride. Get positively involved.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Conversations With Newsmakers
Kathy Sinzinger, NewsDC@aol.com
You're invited to chat with DCTV Executive Director Nantz Rickard
about DC public access television's new state-of-the-art facilities at
Brooks Mansion as The Common Denominator, DC's hometown
newspaper, presents another of its free, monthly Conversations With
Newsmakers on Friday, April 12, 2002, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Kelly's
Ellis Island Restaurant & Pub, 3908 12th Street, NE, in Brookland.
Free parking is available. Ellis Island also is within walking distance
of the Brookland/CUA station on Metro's Red Line (exit on the side with
buses). Questions? Call Kathy at 635-6397.
LCCA — Demonstrate for ABC Reform
B. Warren Lane, email@example.com
Forwarded from Donald Hawkins, Logan Circle Community Association:
Join councilmembers and residents in a demonstration for Alcohol
Beverage Control board reform on April 10 from 5:30 - 6 p.m. on the
front steps of the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). This
demonstration directly precedes the Council's budget oversight hearing
at 6 p.m., and is our opportunity to show our outrage with the Board's
lax enforcement of laws and general disregard for community interest.
For more information on our goals for this demonstration, go to http://www.logancircle.org/abc.html.
It is very important that we get a good turnout to show the breadth
of community support for ABC Reform. Please come and bring two friends!
The hearing will be held in DC Council Chambers: 1350 Pennsylvania
Avenue, NW, 4th Floor and is open to all who wish to attend. Anyone
wishing to testify should contact Jasmine Yates at 727-8229 before the
close of business on April 8.
April 13th Anacostia Waterfront Parks Summit
Don't miss the Anacostia Waterfront Park Summit on Saturday, April
13th from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place,
SE. Savoy Elementary school is 1 block from the Anacostia Metro Station
on the Green line. The Park Summit is part of Mayor Anthony Williams'
Anacostia Waterfront initiative and is sponsored by the District of
Columbia Office of Planning and the National Park Service. Come discuss
and learn about possibilities for the Anacostia River and its
waterfront. The envisioned Anacostia Waterfront Parks network will
encircle both sides of the Anacostia waterfront and contain an unmatched
collection of recreational, educational, and cultural facilities all in
a state-of-the-art sustainable landscape. For more information about the
Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, please see our web site at http://www.anacostiawaterfront.net.
We encourage you to share this information with others that might be
interested in attending.
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