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June 2, 2002

The Campaigns Are Here

Dear Campaigners:

The political season is upon us, and the candidates' campaigns are sputtering into gear. The cardinal rule of politics for incumbents, or at least one of the cardinal rules, is that you either run unopposed or you run scared. Several incumbent politicians are running unopposed, and a few are running with healthy opposition, but none seems to be running scared. That is not necessarily because DC's incumbent politicians have satisfied the electorate, but because the incumbents can be assured that their challengers will receive little or no attention in the press.

Let's give all the candidates some attention here in themail and on the DCWatch web site. DCWatch will publish all the campaign materials (except for fundraising appeals) that any candidate publishes and provide links to the candidates' own web sites (the election home page is  If you get any letters, flyers, brochures, or position papers that we haven't published, please forward them; and if you want to praise or condemn any candidate, or publicize any campaign event, please let us all know by writing to themail.

Gary Imhoff 


District Government Giveaway
Jonetta Rose Barras, 

The District government can’t finance this year’s summer school. But it is allowing the Jos-Arz Therapeutic Public Charter School to keep millions of dollars for students who were never enrolled in the Northeast-based institution. Further, last week the DC Council’s Committee on Economic Development gave preliminary approval for a $16 million bond sale that would benefit the Jos-Arz school. This all occurs as the DC Board of Education is expected to approve a recommendation to place the school on probation, according to government sources and documents.

The Jos-Arz, founded by Gwen and Rollie Kimbrough — apparently major political players — claimed in 2000 through 2001 that it would serve 190 special education children, who would have been diagnosed with emotional disturbance/behavior disorders and who required residential care. Following the charter school laws, the city allocated more than $10.4 million to fund the education for that number of children. But there was never any residential facility at Jos-Arz where children could spend the night. Further, during the 2000-2001 school year, only 18 students were actually served by the school, according to government documents. Consequently, Jos-Arz was obligated, by law, to return, a portion of its advance. When the DCPS went to collect, the council and mayor came to its rescue. Emergency legislation was introduced and approved by the full council that protected the charter school against any demand for the return of all funds. Instead the school was required to reimburse the city for only half of the original allocation. The legislation also allowed for advance funding, which meant in the end Jos-Arz had to pay back only about $3 million or $4 million. It still has not made that reimbursement, according to school and executive branch sources. There are other financial arrangements that are troubling and have caused some DCPS officials to recommend probation. Among issues of concern is an $882,000 rental payment for the building where the school is located that was made to a nonprofit organization on whose board Rollie Kimbrough sits. And, a contract to provide transportation services went to a company that is owned, at least in part, by Gwen Kimbrough. For the full story, log on to the Barras Report at                  


It Won’t Make Any Difference
Ed T. Barron, 

The plan to redo all the schools in the District, one in each ward, over the next several years is a flawed plan. Admittedly many of the schools are in poor condition. But you could make all of the schools in the District a collection of Taj Mahals and it would not make a damn bit of difference in the quality of the educational programs, nor would it make any of the students better educated. The school system needs to find the best ways to spend its limited budget and to spend it most wisely. The wasted money spent on special education is a clear case of getting no bang for our tax bucks.

A far better plan is to refurbish those schools that need improvements in safety/security, and energy efficiency. The rest of the capital budget should be spent in acquiring and supporting the best teachers we can hire — teachers who know how to teach. To spend moneys on making the schools new and nice won't make any difference in what is really important — educating our kids. The secret to quality education is what happens in the classrooms, not what the buildings look like. Take a look at some of the successful charter schools. They are achieving good educational outcomes in facilities that are substandard even when compared to the District's public schools.


The New Little Blue Thing on the Light Pole
Mark Richards, Dupont East, 

When a little blue “hockey puck-like” thing appeared at the top of the ugly steel highway light pole in front of my condominium, my first thought was that DC might be putting in a civil defense/alert system. Was it a blue light similar to those on police cars? In fact, my imagination is working overtime. I believe this device controls the timing of the streetlight! I suppose I would never have thought this “little blue thing” might relate to emergency planning before Sept. 11. But after Sept. 11, I notice and wonder about things. I have also read that insurance rates appear to be rising. I'm wondering how other people are feeling in the post-September 11 era-how are people living, reacting, preparing — or not. Apparently, I'm not the only one with this topic on the brain. Are we prepared?

The Washington Post poll of DC residents that I cited in the previous issue of themail revealed that Washington, DC, residents are the most nervous of residents of all cities nationally about a new terrorist attack. Twenty-seven percent feel not too or not at all safe, and only 27 percent feel very safe. But most (70 percent) feel at least somewhat safe. Sixty-three percent said they are concerned about another terrorist attack in the Washington area. And 5 percent have seriously considered leaving DC because of concerns about terrorism; 11 percent talked about it; and 84 percent have not considered the issue seriously.

I understand that some are postulating a scenario in which an area of a few blocks gets hit with a dirty bomb with radiological, chemical, or biological agents. God forbid. Planning ahead with common sense measures is worthwhile, if only psychologically. We definitely don't want panic in the face of an emergency. I believe the first thing to do in case of such an (hopefully) unlikely event is to take shelter. In most cases of contaminants in the air, it may not smart to immediately flee on the emergency exit routes (“event routes”) that are being printed in the newspapers these days. I think it is probably smart to keep tape in your home so one can seal any leaky windows; have water; a battery powered radio to find out what is happening and what to do; flashlights/lights with extra batteries, etc. . . . items one should have for any type of emergency. As a reminder, the DC government's emergency planning information is located at:


Stolen Medals at the Vietnam Wall
Annie McCormick, 

We went to visit the Wall on Monday, May 27, around 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. As you know, many things are left at the wall. We noticed that someone had left a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, and a Distinguished Flying Cross. There were also two other medals — one I think was the Vietnam Service Medal and another medal in one box. When we went back on Tuesday around 5:45 p.m. the medals were gone! Someone had ripped the Medals off their ribbons in their boxes and taken them, leaving the ribbons in the boxes. To get to the Purple Heart, they had to open the plastic zip lock bag, and open up the box to rip it off the ribbon. Has anyone ever heard of something this despicable happening? No one saw this happen? Aren't there Park Rangers to watch out for these type of low life scum? Isn't this a crime?


Why the DMV Can’t Succeed
Shaun Snyder, Chevy Chase, 

Here's why the DMV can't be a popular agency: no one needs it! My car would still run even if it didn't have valid registration stickers on it. Actually, it would run if it didn't have license plates. And I would still know how to operate a motor vehicle if I didn't have that little piece of plastic called a driver's license. The problem is that a successful trip to the DMV produces no net benefit, just a continuation of the status quo for me. How can that ever be something people like?


Bring Back Tippett
Ed T. Barron, 

A few years ago, when it was time to replace the last Fire Chief for fraud and other crimes, we had a very sound candidate in the ranks of the DC Fire Dept. His name was Tom Tippett. He was a cinch to be selected as the new Fire Department Chief until he drew a line in the sand about the number of persons who should be riding on fire trucks responding to a call. Push came to shove and Tippett resigned. He seemed to be an ideal candidate with great support from the ranks of the Fire Department. Perhaps he is available to come back to DC as the next Chief.


Sports Report
Jack Polidori, 

The Capitol Hill Dawgs opened their 2002 maiden season in the Prince George's County Senior Babe Ruth League with a resounding 17-2 win over Fort Washington in a game played at Cosca Park (PG County). Clyde "CJ" Bailey led the Dawgs with a sterling mound performance, allowing only four hits in a complete game victory (seven innings). Bailey struck out nine batters and walked only two, exhibiting excellent command of his fast ball. Leading the Dawgs' 18-hit offensive attack were Justin Lazenby (three hits, including a double and triple, three runs scored, along with three RBIs) and Aaron Scott (two hits, two RBIs, two runs scored). James Freeman, Kelvin Bigesby, and Calvin Bigesby also chipped in with two hits each.

The Dawgs, playing with only one practice session behind them, also displayed strong defense: Calvin Bigesby played strongly behind the plate, throwing out one of two runners at second; Justin Lazenby and CJ Bailey executing a perfect relay and cut set of throws to nail a runner attempting to advance to second base on a single to right field; and the team consistently executed infield throws on close plays and run-downs. Also apparent was the fantastic team speed up and down the Dawgs lineup that resulted in fifteen stolen bases (three from James Freeman and Kelvin Bigesby and two each from Franklin Davis, Aaron Scott, Justin Lazenby, and Calvin Bigesby). Third base coach Al Scott conveyed to the Dawgs' players a very aggressive offensive philosophy.


Re: Boys Town
Richard Layman, Northeast DC, 

Jack Fletcher wrote some stuff last issue that I take issue with. As someone from a broken home, I have some experience with the child welfare system, and I am often uncomfortable about opposing residential care facilities — especially because neighbors across the country tend to oppose these kinds of projects as a matter of course. I am also not knowledgeable about the specifics of the Boys Town issue — it's enough to keep track of issues in my immediate neighborhood. However, as a thinking person I do have some serious concerns about some aspects of the Boys Town project.

First, too many times in this city, form trumps substance in zoning decisions, usually to the detriment of the impacted neighborhood. Form may be that these are four separate dwellings and that they could avoid review as a result, but reality or substance clearly indicates that these four separate buildings function as one facility. That is how they should be evaluated from a zoning perspective, and the neighborhood group was right to press that issue.

Second, the amount of money to be paid to Boys Town for care for each placed child is $150 or more each day. That seems outlandish to me — it's over $4,000/month. That should be looked into as well.


Blue Plains Odor
Michael Marcotte, 

In the May 29 issue, Ms. Dickerson commented favorably about Blue Plains and wondered what had happened. What's happened is that the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority has invested over $100 million in capital improvements, including modifications to the way we store and handle biosolids (the smelly materials that are a byproduct of wastewater treatment). Along the way, we've also modified a number of our chemical storage and handling systems, including eliminating the use of tank-car delivered chlorine and sulfur dioxide. More improvements are underway, including updates of our screening and grit removal facilities, other periodic sources of odors.

We thank Ms. Dickerson for noticing and commenting upon our improvements. I anticipate that you may well receive other communications that indicate that we are not completely odor free. This is true -- no outdoor wastewater treatment plant can fully achieve this objective. But please be assured that the 1100 DCWASA employees are working hard to continuously improve our operations and to construct updated facilities to serve the public and protect the environment. By the way, tours of Blue Plains are available by calling our Public Affairs office at 787-2200. You can also take a virtual tour of our plant at our web site —


Klingle Road
Ralph Blessing, Shepherd Park, 

If nothing else, those opposed to reopening Klingle Road have mastered the art of deceptive language. For example, the two May 30 postings on that subject contain zingers such as “pave Klingle Valley” (surprise! there's already a paved road there — or are they suggesting that road advocates want to see the valley's hillsides covered with asphalt too?) and the one claiming that road proponents want “Klingle Valley for cars, not people.” Gee, must be those newfangled, robotic cars they have in mind, certainly none driven by humans.

I also find their environmental claims a bit specious. For instance, how would repaving the existing road threaten mature trees, unless the road were to be widened in the process? And why do they feel that the runoff from cars on Klingle Road would cause more environmental damage than the harm resulting from the excessive idling from cars waiting for lights at, say, Connecticut and Porter — especially since they maintain that very few cars would use the valley road anyway? Finally, there's the argument that this topic has been discussed for too long and that it's now time to move on. I wonder if they'd propose the same to advocates of DC voting rights/representation. After all, the courts have ruled on that issue a number of times, so maybe we should all just accept our colonial status and roll over and play dead.


Beach Drive Closed to Bikes: Response
Eric Gilliand, 

To clarify a previous post, the small group of bicyclists that was referred to in a previous post is not trying to close Rock Creek Park to autos during the week. They are looking for a test closure during non-rush hours, a proposal that the Mayor has supported. The group held morning bike commute rides on Fridays beginning after the morning rush hours. The group abandoned the late morning rides after several experiences of automobiles passing the group, crossing the double yellow line around blind corners, at speeds in excess of 45 mph (note, it's a designated bike route and a national park, folks). In the interest of safety for the bicyclists and other road users, the rides were stopped. However, it's good to hear that those that use the national park for its intended purpose — as a commute route for single occupancy vehicles — are not cab drivers, don't run red lights, are good drivers, and don't drive overheated SUVs. That would make it unique among roads in this city.


For Dorothy: Kudos Redux
Barbara Bode, 

I agree with John Olinger, and I want to add my praise for Dorothy's commitment and advocacy. Before Few, there was Newman, and before him, that trash talker (with no accompanying action) from Illinois, and in every instance, Dorothy Brizill has done our town's homework and warned of incompetence and pending problems. I recall a comment from Gary some time ago that Dorothy's optimism -- her belief that things can be changed for the better — is what drives her . . . and often leads her to disappointment. Well, as John notes, Vindication Day!

Virtue triumphs! Thanks, Dorothy, for all you do for all of us.



The 2002 Capital Pride Guide is Available Now
Randy Shulman, 

The Official 2002 Capital Pride Guide is available free of charge all over town at your favorite GLBT (and GLBT-friendly) bars, nightclubs, restaurants, retail establishments, and nonprofit organizations. For a look at this year's Pride Guide cover online, please click on Inside this year's 136-page edition you'll find listings of all the official Capital Pride Events (as well as some additional events of interest) beginning on Sunday, June 2, and culminating a week later on June 9, with the day long festival on Pennsylvania Avenue. You'll also find a map of the new Saturday night Parade Route; a story on why changes in the parade took place; a listing of parade participants; a guide to the Festival Site; a complete listing of festival booths and vendors; and the entertainment and speaker lineup for both the main stage and the arts stage; and more.

You'll also find interviews with Hollywood's most outrageous gay icons, Bruce Vilanch, lesbian folk sensation, Catie Curtis, and dance diva Pepper MaShay. And don't miss the in-depth story on the volunteers who continue to make Pride a roaring success. And you'll not want to miss the 140+ photographs, many in full color, from last year's Pride Parade and Festival — who knows, you might see your friends... or yourself!


June Stein Meeting Room Change
Kurt Vorndran, 

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, NSD, will hold its next meeting on Monday, June 10th, at 7:00 p.m., at 441 4th Street, NW. The room will be the first floor conference room (formerly the Council Chambers). Items on the agenda include endorsements for the Office of DC Delegate to Congress, Shadow Senator, and Shadow Representative. The Club will also be addressed by Chad Johnson, Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats. For more information, call 667-0105.


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