I am the mayor of a medium-sized city in the United States. To
preserve my anonymity, I'm not going to name it. I tried to get my name
on the ballot for reelection, but the great majority of the signatures
on my petitions were forgeries, and in addition my campaign had engaged
in lots of other fraud. Because of this, our city's Board of Elections
refused to let my name be printed on the primary party ballot, which I
don't think is fair. But now they say that they found over five thousand
instances in which my campaign broke the election law, and they're going
to levy a fine against my campaign for them. I could be fined up to $200
per count, and that could be over a million dollars. I say that the fine
should be much lower. There are so many separate violations that I
should get a volume discount for the number of separate counts, since
giving the maximum fine for each count would add up to too much money.
Furthermore, I say that I've already been punished by being taken off
the ballot, so the fine should be lower because of that. What do you
Dear Mayor: You are wrong on both points. First, as the total amount
of the fraud increases, the penalty for each element of the fraud should
also increase, because the whole offense is greater. Rather than
receiving a discount for committing so many violations and so great an
election fraud, the total number of offenses should count against you in
calculating how much to fine you for each offense. Second, not allowing
your name to be printed on the ballot did not punish you. It simply
deprived you of the fruits of your campaign's crimes. When the
authorities take away from a robber the money and goods he stole, that
is not part of his punishment. It just prevents him from benefiting from
his robbery. Whatever punishment he will get is a separate matter, and
his punishment is not lessened because whatever he stole was taken back
from him. Your being kept off the ballot should not count as a point in
your favor when calculating your punishment. In addition, other
candidates are kept off the ballot if they do not collect enough
legitimate signatures on their petitions. They are not being punished;
they, like you, are simply being denied what they did not earn.
Gary Imhoff (with apologies to the NYTimes Magazine
I wonder if anyone else saw Otto Preminger's film “Advise and
Consent” with Charles Lawton, Don Murray, etc. The reason I mention it
is that I am glad the picture was made when it was because it helped to
put the scene of my arrival on Capitol Hill in a time capsule of sorts.
It was 1959, and the ink wasn't dry on my business college diploma. Sen.
and Mrs. Sparkman had met me at National Airport in their black limo; it
was heady stuff. I think the euphoria lasted until I arrived at the
office. My first job turned out not to be typing, filing, or shorthand;
I was handed a rag and a bottle of Old English polish and was directed
to half-a-dozen six-foot bookcases that were being moved into a new
suite — so much for starting at the top. Other disappointments were to
follow, but overall, my years in DC were some of my most formative ones.
I wasn't still with them when the Hollywood crew arrived, but I read
that Preminger was complaining that “. . . those people won't get off
my set,” meaning the Senators and Members of Congress. I knew I'd
never get the flavor of the old Dupont Circle neighborhood life back
that I enjoyed, but I did the next best thing — I moved to Baltimore!
I attended the August 7 candidate forum for At-Large Councilmember
candidates sponsored by the Current newspapers. Of the five candidates
invited, only Phil Mendelson, Dwight Singleton and Beverly Wilbourn
My take on the forum was that Wilbourn and Mendelson both gave
coherent, well thought-out answers, though Wilbourn's resonated more
with me as one who resides east of the park. Singleton, in my view, gave
mostly vague, rambling answers, and in some cases didn't even address
the topic of the question.
Last week, Doug Patton, the Holland and Knight attorney who is the
legal counsel for the Tony Williams campaign, was missing in action.
First, Patton failed to attend Tuesday's oral arguments before the DC
Court of Appeals in the Williams's campaign's appeal of the Board of
Elections and Ethics decision. Then he failed to attend the three days
of hearings the Board held to review the formal complaints filed by
DCWatch and the DC Republican Party, to determine criminal referrals to
the US Attorney and the Corporation Counsel and to determine whether and
how much the Williams campaign should be fined.
The web site for the Committee to Re-Elect Tony Williams, http://www.williamsformayor.org,
starts with an unusual home page — an apology to the voters. The
letter is the same “dear friend” letter that Williams is mailing to
DC Democrats, in which he apologizes “for the poor judgment and
inexcusable actions of my early campaign organization.”
Meanwhile, in an effort to recruit the thousands of volunteers that
election experts say the Williams campaign will need to mount a
successful write-in effort, the campaign is really reaching out. Last
week, it tried to recruit two unlikely volunteers — Gary and me. I was
first called on Wednesday afternoon, just thirty minutes after the Court
of Appeals decision upholding the DC Board of Elections. The campaign
caller invited me to attend a Saturday meeting for Ward One volunteers.
Although I pressed the caller, she assured me that she was, in fact,
calling Dorothy Brizill. On Thursday, both Gary and I received separate
telephone calls asking for volunteers to come to the Saturday meeting.
We considered attending — we really did — but we decided against
going, thinking of both the potential reception we would get and the
good weather over the weekend.
Ward 8 Democrats Favor Jackson for Mayor in
Shelly Schwartz, firstname.lastname@example.org
A recent poll of Ward Eight voters shows Ward 8 Democratic State
Committeeman Arthur H. Jackson, Jr., leading incumbent write-in
candidate Tony Williams in the race for Mayor in fall 2002. Jackson, a
lifelong democrat and former Maryland City Councilman was favored by 58
percent of ward eight voters in a fall match with Mayor Tony Williams.
We polled two hundred voters, who stated they plan to vote November 5,
Jackson is considering challenging Mayor Williams in the fall
election, and is considered one of the city's leaders of the progressive
wing of the DC Democratic Party, which is considering resigning en mass
from the Democratic Party if Tony Williams wins a write-in campaign on
September 10. The poll was conducted by Democratic Polling organization,
The Voters Choice , based in Boston, Massachusetts.
[Jackson has picked up petitions to run as an Independent. At
Saturday's endorsement meeting, the Ward 8 Democrats endorsed Douglas
Moore for Mayor in the primary election. — Gary Imhoff]
Payments for Signatures on Petitions
Romes Calhoun, email@example.com
I think the problems that have arisen with signatures on petitions
has to do with the practice of paying one dollar ($1.00) for each
collected. This I have only noticed within the past three or four years.
This practice seems to encourage people to look at the rewards of how
much money one can earn over a short period of time rather than their
actual concern for a particular candidate. There needs to be some
legislative or regulatory actions taken to prevent this practice in the
I have spent a great deal of time over the years collecting
signatures for candidates in whom I believe and did it for the benefit
of helping those candidates. I felt it was my responsibility as past
Chairman of the Ward One Democrats and a ten year member of the DC
Democratic State Committee, to work on their behalf.
The People in the Red/Yellow Jackets
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
Twice this week, people have told me happy stories related to being
lost and getting assistance from “those people wearing the red/yellow
jackets.” In one case, a family who is here for the month asked for
directions and the person pleasantly gave them the information they
needed. In the other case, a summer intern who is staying with one of my
neighbors asked for directions and the person with the red jacket
astonished her by making a phone call and getting the needed
information. The “red jacket people” are called Downtown Sam, http://www.downtowndc.org/SAM/sam.html,
and are part of the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID). The
yellow jacket people are part of the Ambassador Program of the Golden
Triangle BID, called the “Clean Team,” http://www.gtbid.com/programs.html.
It seems that the “red and yellow jacket people” are making DC look
good in more than one way! Bravo!
If the elected DC officials would direct their collective lobbying
energies to getting support from the federal government for a major
urban education initiative, instead of lobbying for statehood, the
District's students would be far better served. Washington should become
a model for an urban educational system, a system that produces educated
and capable students. That should be the District's only major priority
for the upcoming years.
DC officials are spinning their wheels and will never make any real
progress in their Quixotic quest to convince a Republican administration
to give any consideration that will allow DC to have elected
representatives in Congress. If you are going to expend energy and
money, direct it to a much more achievable program — one that would
get the support from the Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
At what point did it become politically incorrect to issue tickets
for littering? This city has a fair enough share of resources dedicated
to ticketing my car five minutes after my meter runs out. How about
creating a litter enforcement division? Maybe we'll even get some
revenues out of it. Instead of focusing on the impossible task of
cleaning up after the violators, why not slap fines on them and make
them think twice about doing it again? Does anyone have any information
on the number of littering tickets written in a given year in DC? Also,
have any other major cities cracked down successfully on littering
through law enforcement?
While I wait for an answer I'll continue to watch the trash pile up
on Mt. Pleasant Street and pick up what I can as I walk along. In the
meantime, if you haven't already, check out the “Clean City”
Initiative website and look at the cleanliness ratings at http://cleancity.washingtondc.gov/maps.htm.
You may be surprised at how clean the city thinks your neighborhood is.
No Mail Boxes at Airport
E. James Lieberman, email@example.com
Last week at Dulles airport I asked where to mail a letter. No more
mailboxes. They've been removed. It was not a serious problem to carry
the item to California, but if I had been going abroad, it would have
been a different story. Moral: mail your letters before you get to the
Washington, the Song
Kirsten Sherk, Dupont Circle, firstname.lastname@example.org
To respond to Susan McPeck, I learned the song “Washington” when
I was in school too — nearly twenty years after you did! I've always
really liked it (as a ten-year old, it was really fun to sing LOUD), but
I've never heard it elsewhere.
But I wonder if living here for thirty years and knowing the
“official” city song overcomes my lack of property when it comes to
being a real Washingtonian.
“Washington, the Fairest City in the
Greatest Land of All”
Pat Yates, PatEdCats@aol.com
Here's what I remember about the failed official song of our fair
city. Would be interested to hear other versions of the events, as
memory is tricky thing.
When I was a student at Stuart Junior High School during or about
1951, the Board of Trade held a contest to find the official song for
the District of Columbia. There were lots of entrants, but the contest
was won by one Jimmy Dodd, who came to a school assembly and taught us
the song, which I too remember to this day. Mr. Dodd was introduced by
our principal, Mr. Barton, as a big celebrity from Hollywood, which
thrilled all of us Movieland readers — even though none of us
had ever heard of him. A few years later, the same Mr. Dodd resurfaced
as the adult on the Mickey Mouse show.
And it's really not a very good song. A much better Stuart assembly
was when very young actors from the fledgling Arena Stage (then at the
old Hippodrome Throatier just across from the Carnegie Library downtown)
gave a reading from “Julius Caesar,” which we were reading in school
at the time. What a thrill!
John Whiteside says criticism of Anthony Williams for not owning a
home in DC shows undue bias against renters who can't afford to buy
property. I agree that renters shouldn't be criticized for that reason,
but to my knowledge, Williams has not given that as a excuse, but rather
says that he hasn't had time to shop for a home. I'd say that is a case
of misplaced priorities. The mayor of this city should own property here
and experience what the rest of us go through in terms of assessments,
property taxes, water bills, etc. Unfortunately, his failure to buy
property perpetuates the image that he is a short-term visitor here with
no long-term investment in the city. Of course, he has much bigger
Any candidate running for political office who uses 911 (an emergency
system whose efficient operation might just result in the saving of a
life) to report an improper traffic infraction [Pete Ross, in themail,
August 8] won't get my vote.
Dear Ms. Goodwin, in hindsight, you are 100 percent correct. I should
have called 311, which is the non-emergency number. I was concerned
about the dangerous situation that this had created and the potential of
a dangerous accident with so many cars on the street and high tempers.
This is to advise that the August 2002 on-line edition has been
uploaded and may be accessed at http://www.intowner.com.
Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports,
editorials (including prior months' archived), restaurant reviews (prior
months' also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes
from the Past” feature. Also included are all current classified ads.
The complete issue (along with prior issues back to June 2001) also
is available in PDF file format by direct access from our home page at
no charge simply by clicking the link provided. Here you will be able to
view the entire issue as it looks in print, including the new ABC Board
actions report, all photos and advertisements. The next issue will
publish on September 13. The complete PDF version will be posted by
early that Friday morning, following which the text of the lead stories,
community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly
To read this month's lead stories, simply click the link on the home
page to the following headlines: 1) “Restaurant Owners Fighting
Neighborhood License Protestants”; 2) “City Sees Neighborhood
Planning for Self-Help Key in Terrorist Hits”; (3) “Adams Morgan
Festival on Tap for Sep. 7 & 8 — Art, Music, Sports, Food &
Crafts All Featured.”
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Telling Computers What Needs To Be Done
Instead of How To Do It
Barbara Conn, email@example.com
Genetic algorithms and genetic programming are species of artificial
intelligence developed by academics from MIT, Stanford, and around the
world over the last thirty years. Is Darwinian programming, in which
computer programs have sex, mutate, and evolve to replace human
programmers, breaking out of academia? Does the field have profitable
business applications? Genetic programmers have cited corporate data
mining, computer graphics, electrical engineering, financial
optimization, and networking as areas of commercial viability. Software
engineer and complex systems analyst Toby Perkins will review the
history of genetic programming, outline its state of the art, and
discuss technology transfer issues.
Gather your questions, friends, and colleagues, and bring them to the
Saturday, August 17, 1:00 p.m. (check-in: 12:50 p.m.), meeting of the
Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special
Interest Group (SIG) at the Cleveland Park Library (Second Floor Large
Meeting Room), 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, just a block and a half
south of the Cleveland Park Metrorail station and half a block south of
the Cineplex Odeon Uptown movie theater.
Meetings of the CPCUG Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG are free and
are held each month. For more information about this presentation, the
speaker, CPCUG (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization), and its
E&C SIG, and to register for this and/or future SIG meetings, visit http://www.cpcug.org/user/entrepreneur/802meet.html.
Neighborhood Issues Forum
Kathy Sinzinger, NewsDC@aol.com
Join us on Friday, August 16, for a lively discussion about the
Metropolitan Police Department's performance and other
neighborhood-related issues, including upcoming elections of advisory
neighborhood commissioners, when The Common Denominator welcomes
James Berry as our special guest for “Conversations With
Newsmakers.” Berry has served for many years as both chairman of the
Police Chief's Citizens Advisory Council and president of the citywide
This free, monthly networking event will be held from 6:30 to 8:30
p.m. at Kelly's Ellis Island Restaurant & Pub, 3908 12th Street, NE,
located just off Michigan Avenue in Brookland. It's a short walk from
the Brookland/CUA stop on Metro's Red Line. Parking is available on and
off the street. No reservations necessary.
Coming up in September: Dan Knise, executive director of the
Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition bidding to host the Summer
Olympics, has agreed to be our special guest on Friday, September 13th.
Same time. Same place. Mark your calendar! Questions? Call The Common
Denominator at 635-6397.
CLASSIFIEDS — FOR SALE
1994 Ford Taurus Wagon
Nicholas Cobbs, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a 1994 Ford Taurus GL Station Wagon for sale. A/C, cruise
control, power windows, auto door locks, folding 3d seat (8 passenger),
am/fm/cd player, ABS, dual air bags. Good condition, 92,500 miles,
maintenance current. Blue book value $3,750. Will sell for $3,000. Call
452-8222 days, 452-1659 evenings.
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