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August 28, 2002

The Voters Will Speak

Dear Voters:

There are just three more issues of themail before the primary election, and three more chances to persuade the most involved, influential people in Washington to vote for your candidate and against the other guy's. There are races for offices we haven't even mentioned, and lots left to say. And then, when the dust has settled, we'll get back to real life.

Gary Imhoff 


The Voters Have Spoken
John Olinger, 

In the first national referendum on the Tony Williams' recovery, the voters have spoken. Despite the smoke about the strength of the Washington bid, when the votes were counted, Tony came up short. This is the second time — remember the Tyson fiasco — that Williams and the downtown crowd have bent the rules and sold their constituents short in trying to land a sporting event, and the second time that Tony was left standing on the sidelines. The only sporting event he's been able to land was the Grand Prix, and to get that, for which there was no competition, the taxpayers of the city had to pony up tons of money, ignore its own environmental laws, and turn one of its venerable neighborhoods into an aural Afghanistan. (By the way, do we know how much money the race brought to town?)

Tony wasn't the only one looking foolish. The Washington Post looked like the small town paper that it is. Up until Tuesday afternoon, the Post was reporting the Washington bid as a done deal, dismissing New York as a candidate because — shock!, New York was arrogant. (This is news?) For those who cannot understand how Washington could have been overlooked, you have to turn to Ken Ringle in Wednesday's Style section to find a story that provides a healthy dose of reality. I suppose we will have to wait until Thursday for the Post editorial expressing the shock and outrage of the downtown crowd at this latest slight to their Washington Renaissance. At the moment, the only folks who seem to be relieved by the outcome of this fiasco are the folks in Kingman Park who have already experienced the benefits of Tony's sports fetish.

The gamble of closing DC General to clear the way for the Olympics looks even worse — we won't get any toney sports complexes, just more space for developers and suburban institutions like St. Coletta. Though it is too much to hope for, let's hope that the voters who vote in September are as wise as the US Olympic Committee.


Olympic Ring Around the Collar
Mark Eckenwiler, eck (at) ingot (dot) org

Thank God the USOC passed us over. DC doesn't need the Olympics (or — Bobby Goldwater, take note — Mike Tyson or the Grand Prix) to make it attractive to visitors. We've got that in abundance already in our museums, memorials, government institutions and buildings, and the Mall, so there's no need to gild the lily. Instead of grand schemes — the government equivalent of “get rich quick!” — now maybe DC officialdom can focus on restoring the treasure we already have. Instead of spending untold sums on a white-elephant Olympic MegaDrome, let's see some real progress (instead of empty talk) on seizing and restoring historic buildings now vacant and crumbling. (Hint: DCRA has fallen and can't get up.) Instead of trying to shoot the moon for an imagined Olympic tourism bonanza, let's spend money on programs like the Main Street grants for local commercial corridor redevelopment. (Note to Tony Williams and Stan Jackson: Forget the CDCs, especially H St. CDC. What we need is real redevelopment with community involvement in the planning, not empty rhetoric or sweetheart deals on cinderblock fast-food joints.)

Sure, it's a lot less politically sexy to solve knotty problems in public administration than to charge off in pursuit of the Olympics, Mike Tyson, etc., ad nauseam. (Fewer headlines for you, too.) But that's why citizens elected you four years ago, Mr. Mayor: to bring DC government back to serving its residents. And guess what? The more you do to fix dysfunction in DC government, and the more you do to tangibly improve the still-far-from-perfect basics like schools, policing, and housing, the more people will want to live, work, or spend their tourism dollars in the District — and in the long run, it's the way to earn a lasting reputation for turning the city around. Isn't that the legacy you most want?


Dismay, No — Jubilation, Yes
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom 

The Mayor may be dismayed at the deselection of Washington as a candidate US city for the 2012 Olympics, but the taxpayers and residents of D.C. should be dancing in the streets. The District has likely saved about $400 million that would never have been recovered and left with some white elephant facilities. The District taxpayers would be paying for that fiasco for the rest of their lives.

It is timely now for the Mayor and his cronies to focus on making real, pragmatic things happen. Let's get rid of those phony, unachievable, goals like statehood and the Olympics, and focus on making this city work right. The best and most productive, over the long term, place to start is in the District's schools. Make the schools work right and most of the problems affecting this city will go away. Graduate all the city's kids with real grades, taking real courses, and crime in the streets will disappear. Make the kids smart and joblessness in the ranks of the minorities will go away. The real key to a better city lies in our schools. If we are going to spend $400 million of taxpayer's money, then let's spend it on something other than a mega Grand Prix, the 2012 Summer Olympics. Let the City "fathers" come up with some realistic goals for this city and then begin to implement them.


Improved City Services
Phil Carney, 

Called the Mayor's call center about two problems. 1) In the same block as a soon-to-be-reopened public school, a tree box has chest-high weeds. The Call Center said I had no complaint because “DPW doesn't do weeds, it's the responsibility of the adjacent building owner.” What the Call Center doesn't understand is that it is the responsibility of DPW to notify the owner to clean up the weeds or get a ticket. So no help and score another one for the Mayor's con-the-residents Call Center.

2) Then the Call Center transferred my call to another office. They took the complaint that there has been a car parked on a city street for two months with no plates, multiple flat tires, and a very difficult to miss brightly colored TOW sticker on the window. I was promised, “Tomorrow someone will inspect the auto and begin the process.” Apparently a tow sticker for two months doesn't have anything to do with the towing process in DC.

I now go back to mourning the city's failure to get the Olympic bid. The hospitality industry and developers will lose billions in profits. Us poor residents will lose out on paying billions in Olympic debt for generations to come. What a tragic loss — for some.


Rev. Willie Wilson
Ron Eberhardt, 

Given the apparent interest and support of Prince George's County residents in the mayoral candidacy of the Reverend Willie Wilson, and given that these persons are highly likely members of the church that he pastors, I think we ought to ask Rev. Wilson for his commitment now, prior to the Democratic Primary next month, that he will resign and disassociate himself financially and from any leadership role in the church he leads. I have no idea what the DC law is regarding a Mayor's having “outside interests,” but we ought to get clarification from the candidate now on giving up what I am sure is quite a lucrative financial relationship with his church. DC requires a full-time mayor. What's your answer, Rev. Wilson?


Voting for Wilson
Tolu Tolu, 

I too am voting for Wilson. There are many issues I have against Williams including his asking for help from the public finding a home. If he, with all his resources, cannot figure out how to buy a home, then it just follows that he cannot run his campaign for mayor or run the nation's capitol of the world. I went to a better school than Harvard. I went to Howard, therefore I'm no fool, Mr. Williams.


Reality Check, Please
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

Reading the endorsement of Willie Wilson's campaign by Adam Chase of the Petworth Civic Association in the last issue of themail, I found myself longing for some substantive reason to vote for someone other than Tony Williams. I'm frustrated with the Mayor and I am open to seeing someone new in his place, but folks, we are looking for someone to make a complicated city government function properly. The criticisms of Williams — he is a “master of disguises,” he “doesn't understand” the city, and so on. The reasons to vote for Wilson? He'll bring us together.

Not good enough. I want to hear the specifics. Why is the new affordable housing that's sprung up all over the city inadequate, and how would Wilson do better? Wilson wants to reopen DC General. Fine, but how will we pay for it and how will it improve health care over the managed care plan that Williams is implementing? How will we make sure that downtown development creates economic opportunities for DC residents? Who can we expect to see running city departments who will be better than Williams' choices? What systemic changes will Wilson make to the school department?

Yes, that less tangible quality of leadership is important. But it's these details that make or break a mayor and the city. Come on, candidates, tell us what you plan to do. If you won't, how can you expect our votes?


Blessed Are the Children, But Who Cares?
Lyla Winter, 

I certainly agree that paved potholes, garbage pickup, working streetlights, DMV improvement, and a myriad of other serious problems have been addressed by Mayor Williams. However, the Mayor, Carolyn Graham (Deputy DC Mayor for Children) and Olivia Golden (Director of DC Child and Family Services Agency) have been unforgivably derelict in their concern for, and the protection of, the children living in DC — especially those underage children living in poorly run group homes, supposedly in the “care” of the DC government.

As The Washington Post stated, “. . . children under the city's care continue to be treated as sexual objects.” It also gave the Mayor's phone number for concerned taxpayers (we vote — children don't) to make known their views about our child-protection mess. The least we can do, for these abused little ones, is to call 727-6377.


I Am Proud of My Young Supporters
Paul Strauss, 

I am reluctant to dignify the outrageous slander by Lars Hydle. His absurd allegations really do not merit a response. However, I did want to thank him personally for calling attention to an aspect of my campaign that I am frankly very proud of. I think it's terrific that so many young people have volunteered to help on my campaign. These energetic volunteers, working with others, secured over 5,000 legal, proper and legitimate signatures, far many more than the needed 2,000 signatures to qualify me for the ballot. The fact that some of these 20-year-olds registered to vote for the first time is also something I am proud of. Too many of our young people don't vote, and we all need to do more to get young people involved in politics. I was only twenty-one when I was elected to my first neighborhood office, as Chairperson of Neighborhood Planning Council #3. I won my first ANC Commission office the following year, and became Chair of my ANC the next year at age 23. As far as I know, I remain the youngest person ever to have had that honor. I served ten years in that capacity, and although I moved on to another unpaid elected office, I have remained committed to encouraging young people to get involved in public service ever since. I very am proud of how many have joined us this year.

Unlike my unpaid service as an ANC Commissioner, the US Senator position does not even come with a budget for staff or other expenses. Nevertheless, the fact that I have been able to also encourage young people to volunteer their time in support of my legislative efforts is something that I am equally proud of. None of these volunteers (intern is his word, not mine) receives any money from the government. The fact that some of them work on their own time to advance DC's interests on the Hill does not subject them to the Hatch Act or make them employees of the government. My volunteers are not government employees at all. Even if they were, the truth is that even the paid staff of the sitting US Senators, not to mention the Mayor or DC Councilmembers, are permitted to campaign for their boss (or anyone else for that matter), so long as it's not on the taxpayers dime. My volunteers are never on the taxpayers dime. Their time is their own, and what they donate to our city should be appreciated by all of us who live here. However, it's not even factually accurate to state that it was from this volunteer pool that most of my perfectly legal petition circulators gathered the thousands of my totally legal signatures of registered voters. Many of the signatures were gathered by young volunteers who worked exclusively for my campaign.

Either way, I make no secret of the fact that many of the valid registered DC voters who volunteered their time to circulate my petitions were young people getting involved in the process for the first time. Even though many of my petitions were circulated by older residents, I'm proud of all of my campaign staff who worked hard, followed the rules, and got me plenty more signatures that were needed. Working together with this great team, I expect they'll get me a second term as well.


Shadow Senate Race
Lars Hydle, 

In the last edition of themail, I mentioned that incumbent shadow Senator Paul Strauss had used interns at his office to circulate petitions for his reelection candidacy, and that without them he would not have collected the minimum 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot. I now understand that incumbent Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and incumbent shadow US Representative Ray Brown did not use interns from their offices in their reelection bids.

When I looked at Strauss's petitions at the Board of Elections and Ethics, I did see that he himself circulated 17 petitions, which could have contained up to 340 signatures, ranking him eighth behind the seven interns in numbers of petitions circulated. In contrast, his challenger Pete Ross gathered some 2700 signatures himself, well over the minimum required, out of the 3450 signatures he submitted. This got him out all over the city, in personal contact with DC voters everywhere.


Erroneous Accusations About Campaign Poster Violations
Pete Ross, 

I want to thank Kate Burke for bringing to my attention that allegedly my campaign has to many signs at one location in the District. I personally drove to the location she mentioned and found no campaign poster violations. Ms. Burke, please feel free to contact me directly with any further information on how I can find this supposed violation.

I want to point out that it is not my campaign that has been cited with infractions by the office of the Clean City Coordinator. It is the Paul Strauss campaign! In fact, if you were watching the evening news on August 21, you would have seen Paul Strauss trying to defend his violations. And this is the candidate you are supporting? It seems to me that the only "loyal commitment" that Strauss has made to this city is that of breaking the law.


Doesn’t Work Like That
Chris Kelly, Hanover Place, NW, 

About three months ago the owners or tenants of a house in the unit block of Q Street, NE, cleaned out their basement/garage and dumped a six-foot-tall pile of trash in the alley that almost blocks the alley access. As a property owner in the block, I have called 727-1000 at least ten times, as have others in the Eckington Improvement Association. Yesterday I saw a DPW truck pull up. The driver, in a DC government uniform, got out and took a picture of the pile of trash, which, by the way, is growing as others add to it. I asked the man when the city will pick up the trash. He said, “We don't do that; we will issue the owner a citation.” I asked him who will pick up the trash. He said DPW will only issue a citation, not remove the trash. I asked why DPW doesn't remove the trash and then bill the owner. He said it “doesn't work like that.”

In my humble opinion, as a lifelong DC resident and small business owner, the DC government doesn't work, period. A picture of the trash pile and a citation to the owner is not an example of adequate city services.


It’s a Real Zoo Out There
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom 

I'm not talking about the traffic on I-95, I'm talking about all the motorized traffic on the streets of the National Zoo, On Tuesday of this week, with two little grandkids in tow, we found the Zoo relatively empty of visitors. One could not for a moment let go of the hands of the three- and five-year-olds without fear of them being run over by one or more of the pickup trucks and other motorized vehicles going down every major street inside the zoo. We saw, and had to get out of the way of, at least twenty-five different motorized vehicles in less than two hours. Each vehicle had two folks, one driving and one riding.

Now the Zoo is not a very large place. None of these vehicles was carrying any cargo in the bed, just the two riders. Do they really need to move from place to place in large pickup trucks, polluting the air and consuming gasoline? Whatever happened to Sahnk's mare? Seems to me that they could do a better job of planning and scheduling and get rid of lots of those motorized vehicles. And, as for that 200 HP blower that made more noise than a Boeing 737, whatever happened to brooms and rolling baskets for litter and leaves?


Effective Leaders
Lawrence Pierce, Austin, Texas, 

As a reader of your excellent newsletter on the affairs of Washington D.C., I would like to add my two cents. First, Washington, D.C., has a chance to show the world and this nation that Black Americans are effective leaders and are capable of running large cities, which could lead to other offices. With a majority of the population, black Americans (70 percent or more) have the potential of setting trends other cities could follow from, however, the only trend this fair city has shown is how blacks can't get along with each other. Crime rate is high, primarily in black areas, homicides are up, primarily in black areas, southeast and northeast. And the one thing that I never hear from any of the so-called leaders is for the crime and violence to stop. We are very quick to blame everyone else for our problems and are not accepting the responsibilities for our faults. We spend more resources on protecting the negatives of our culture, then we spend on caring for the positive side. In closing, the black on black killings is a very large number, nearly 95 percents of black Americans killed were killed by blacks, which one would believe this is inherited from the African nation who practice the intertribal genocide of massing killings. We as a nation of blacks must learn to accept the responsibilities of living in this country of ours and stop blaming others for the mistakes we make. We have had some 140 years of freedom, and yet we still enslave ourselves with negative things. If, we can't get along with each other , how can we get along with other races?

The mayor's race is a perfect example of this. DC needs to pull together in this aspect. Your articles are always great and very informative, this is the true meaning of the First Amendment: “free speech.”


DMV Story
Wendy Blair, 

My motor vehicle stories are: 1) I waited from 4:50 a.m. until 8 a.m. to reach the head of the line on August 21, validating Pete Ross's statement (themail, Aug. 21 edition, “A Bureaucracy Incapable of Improvement at the DMV”) that the waits are at least three hours at the Half Street SW Inspection Station. (I'd been by at later times on previous days, only to leave in despair because the line snaked around so many, many blocks.) 2) I recently got a parking ticket from a meter near GWU that took my last two quarters, but gave me only fifteen minutes for BOTH in a thirty-minutes-per-quarter zone. In other words, it gave fifteen minutes, and, with another quarter, nothing more. There were no other meters, I had to get a prescription before a pharmacy closed, so I ran — but not fast enough.

I contested the ticket and received this answer in the mail: “We requested a meter analysis for the ticket described. The meter was checked and found to be properly operating prior to and after the citation was issued. 1) The internal mechanism was removed from the meter, 2) The status report was printed for the meter, 3) The status report was reviewed for the date and time of your violation, 4) A determination was made on the validity of the violation based on this report.” If I want to contest this ticket further I must pay a fee of $10 in order to do so.


DMV Over Easy
Willie Schatz, 

So I see my DMV renewal in the mail and the shakes start. I have nightmares about the Web site breaking down, which it's done twice when I've been the best citizen I can be and followed the "directions" to the letter. Then I think about mailing it in and things start going bump in the night. Close to a seizure, I open the envelope.

And lo! Upon reading it, I discover I can renew at any First Union branch (now Wachovia, but Gary won't give me the space to tell that one.) That just happens to be my bank, and I just happen to going to a branch that afternoon. Wisely thinking that it can't be this easy, I nevertheless give the teller my form and my $65 check and fuhgeddaboudid. A week later, my renewal comes in the mail. It's got everything. I did nothing. Be still, my heart! This doesn't change my negative opinion of Hizzoner, but it's a pleasure doing business with him when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligned with Mars.


Michael Johnson, 

On June 28th of this year I finally made my way over to the Inspection Station but, prior to, I stopped off for supplies — coffee, cookies and magazines. Thoroughly dreading the ordeal, I drove slowly over to Half Street expecting the usual. After making the right turn at the light, I scanned the street looking, of course, for the lines. I didn't see any. So, I thought, maybe it's a bit farther down, but, no, it was right where it's always been. So, I turned the corner, drove up to the entrance of the station, and hesitantly, with some nervousness, thinking “this isn't right, what's going on?” nosed my way into the driveway. I looked ahead to the “drive to” sign and saw a man in a blue uniform waving his arm at me. At first I thought he was waving me away and I thought, “oh, sh*t, all for nothing,” but, no, he was waving me in and he was smiling and I thought, “it's a trap.” But desperation makes us do strange things, sometimes, so I continued on. He must have recognized my expression since he said, “It's OK, it's OK, go to lane 6,” so I did. At the bay door another smile and “May I see your license, please?” “PLEASE!” I thought, “oh no, this can't be happening.” Then it was “Left signal, right signal, step out of your car,” etc. I walked to the other end and was waiting outside and started chatting with the owner of a big SUV that was just finishing its inspection — it failed. To him I said “too bad,” but, I have to admit, schadenfreude took over. Two unread magazines and a half cup of coffee later, I passed inspection with no problem. In at 2:57 p.m., out at 3:19 p.m. It gets more surreal every day.


Ralston Cox, Dupont Circle, 

Hmmm. I thought the mill and barn in Rock Creek Park at Beach Drive/Park Road/Tilden Street were named for Mr. Pierce (i.e., Pierce Mill). But this weekend I noticed that the mill has a large, brown National Park Service sign in front identifying it as “Pierce Mill” but a similar sign in front of the barn identifies it as “Peirce Mill.” Does anyone know the real story?


Down with Affordable Housing?
Len Sullivan, 

It is a safe bet that no other poverty-ridden inner city in the US has undertaken to build more than 10,000 low- and moderate-income houses in its most blighted areas within the last few years. In addition, DC has boarded up thousands of squalid dwellings, and torn down hundreds, if not thousands, of others. Anywhere else, such actions would be highly commended as a major managerial accomplishment melding government grants, private sector partnerships and local politics. But DC's mayor is branded by various activists as an uncaring scoundrel for his efforts. There seem to be four reasons (all specious) why the mayor should cease and desist:

1) By raising the living standards for many, he is being victimized by the clergy and other demagogues for making it more difficult for others to continue to live in squalor. Those who de-gentrify a neighborhood should have the right to prevent its re-gentrification, right? 2) He is being accused of taking credit for some housing actually initiated while the DC Housing Authority was under a court-imposed receivership — because his predecessors had so badly neglected the living conditions of the poor. Obviously not fair to his predecessors, agreed? 3) One reason there is so little affordable housing around the US is that many occupants of low-income and subsidized housing choose not to move to better quarters when their finances permit it, thus preventing the worse off from taking their place. Is that un-American, or what? 4) Low to moderate income households cost the city more than they provide in revenues anyway. For instance, 10 households earning $45,000 per year on average, living in homes assessed at $180,000 on average will provide no net revenues to the city (after paying for city services) if there are two school-age kids among them; two are below the poverty line, one of them is headed by a single female, and together, they live on more than half an acre. So why try?


Red-Light Cameras: A Modest, Jaundiced Proposal
Mark Eckenwiler, eck -at- ingot -dot- org

In the last issue of themail, James Treworgy suggested that longer yellow lights, and not red-light cameras, are the way to reduce occurrences of dangerous red-light running. The only flaw in his proposal, as I see it, is that it does not go far enough. The more effective approach, I submit, would be to eliminate red lights entirely and install permanent yellow signals at all intersection in every direction, producing an instant 100% reduction in red-light violations.

Of course, the usual motley assortments of naysayers will bleatingly complain, alleging that I have misunderstood the problem. Stuff and nonsense (primarily nonsense)! The National Motorists Association conducted an extensive analysis of one whole intersection in suburban northern Virginia that supports yellow-light timing increases. (Small-minded quibblers may argue that the NMA “study” provides no raw data, and that Rt. 50 in Fairfax is not comparable to the District's typical lower-speed, urban-density streetscape — the worst sort of Pecksniffery, I say.) The NMA's pristine record on promoting highway safety — opposing DUI penalties for a BAC of .08, and arguing that “more severe penalties should be phased in at a BAC of .15” and “[l]ower penalties should be adopted for less severe DWI violations [sic]” (see — is good enough for me.


Police Story
Ron Linton, 

Re Bryce Suderow's request for comments on the police story [in the Washington City Paper]: gratuitous assertions based on random samples.


Fine for Fraud
Peter Wolff, 

Gary's footnote to a posting about the fine levied on the mayor's campaign, that “when it is paid, will be paid to the DC Treasurer and go into the city's general fund,” reminded me that I have been puzzled about that little-understood aspect and wonder why it has to be so and whether it might be possible for the city council to enact emergency legislation to direct those funds otherwise.

Specifically, my concern is that the money will just get swept up with all the other miscellaneous off-budget slush funds and effectively be squandered in typical DC fashion. Meanwhile, the Board of Elections will be expending far more to conduct this election than otherwise would have been required. I seriously doubt that its budget really includes funds to pay all the extra people who will be required to spend up to a week counting all the unplanned write-in ballots that will be the result of the mayor's campaign organization failures. Nor do I suppose the budget includes funds to cover what I expect will be the costs of dealing with multiple challenges, especially since the Board has apparently determined that there will be a wide variety of names suitable to use to record one's mayoral write-in preference.

The fine assessed against the mayor's campaign ought to be earmarked to cover those expenses, otherwise it will be us taxpayers who will end up paying the cost for something not our doing.


Short Term Pain and Long Term Gain
Paul Dionne, 

To those who question what the city has to gain by exposing fraudulent petitions, I have some answers. Mind you, I come from the opposite side of the spectrum than Brizill and would not consider myself a fan of hers. However, I do commend her work and the work of others such as the DC Republican Party challenging the petitions. First, if such fraud went unpunished then what would the city gain by allowing the laws to be flouted? Surely, future candidates would engage in such behavior. Do we really want any candidate who cannot gather the necessary amount of signatures to gain access to the ballot? Is it fair to those candidates who work hard and follow the letter of the law to be upstaged by million dollar plus candidates who ignore the law (not only in petitions but also in fundraising)?

I would submit that corruption is corruption and who benefits from it should not be the focus. A candidate or campaign worker who engages in corruption and wins will become an office holder or appointee who engages in corruption. Furthermore, those who recognize that the corrupt get ahead will also engage in corruption in order to win.

Now some might argue that Mayor Williams was not to blame for this. However, these people worked in his name and for his benefit. If we were to allow him access to the ballot when his campaign did not earn it then future candidates would simply leave it to underlings and play stupid if someone got caught. I don't think that is the type of governance we want. In this case, DC is undergoing some very acute short term pain, but in the long term, we will all be better off for it. By saying that we don't tolerate this type of behavior we are sending a strong message to those who would even consider using illegal acts to win their races.


Williams Broke the Law
Vikki Kratz, 

Alan Heymann and Dawn Dickerson ask, “What was the point in exposing the election violations?” The point is that the mayor's campaign broke the law. That's the point. The man charged with running our city can't even be bothered to follow the most basic election law and then, when he gets caught, he whines like an Enron CEO. It sucks that there are no other viable candidates for mayor, but that's no reason not to hold the mayor to the legal standard. If we don't, what message are we sending? Make the DMV lines shorter and it doesn't matter if you flout the law? Our responsibility as citizens is to hold our elected officials accountable. Only by doing that can we ever hope to get a decent candidate that respects us, our city, and our laws.


The Point
Ted DiBiase, 

Usually I just lurk, but Ms. Dickerson's posting causes me to reply: “What's the point?” How can you ask this question? Let me be clear: I like the mayor, I think DC is clearly better off than four years ago and I intend to vote for him. That said, I think what Dorothy Brizill did is great! Why should we stand for wholesale fraud because we think the person who let it happen on his watch is “decent?” It's the fraud that makes a mockery of DC, not the uncovering of it. How would we look if this was discovered after the election? Simply because a person is well intentioned doesn't give them a pass on committing potentially criminal offenses. Good people can do stupid, and even criminal, things and why should we sit by and says it's OK? The point is we have rules and laws and regulations for a reason. The mayor needs to be a more involved manager and hopefully this will serve as an appropriate wake up call. He'll be reelected but it's not going to be a coronation.


The Point
Dorothy Brizill, 

“No man in this country is so high that he is above the law. No officer of the law may set that law at defiance with impunity. All the officers of the government, from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law and are bound to obey it. It is the only supreme power in our system of government, and every man who by accepting office participates in its functions is only the more strongly bound to submit to that supremacy, and to observe the limitations which it imposes upon the exercise of the authority which it gives.” United States v. Lee, 106 US 196, 220 (1882)


Nearly 120 DC Neighborhoods
Mark David Richards, 

[In response to Marguerite Boudreau] I know of no source of detailed demographic information for each neighborhood. Most areas began as developments and are not official neighborhoods with boundaries. They are the names people use to describe where they live, so they are somewhat fluid and perceptual. People sometimes argue about the names and where one area begins and another ends. There is a map showing the general location of neighborhoods in the Washingtoniana Room of the main (Martin Luther King, Jr.) public library The mayor's web site has a listing of neighborhoods which can be sorted by the ward it is located in: (There is also a map of DC's 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions(ANCs), showing single member districts and contact information, The Office of Planning lists DC wards and census tracks:,

The Newcomer's Handbook (3rd edition by Mike Livingston), The Guide to Black Washington -- Places and Events of Historical and Cultural Significance, and The Washington Historical Atlas: Who Did What When and Where in the Nation's Capital all have information on quite a few neighborhoods. They are organized differently for different purposes. H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences OnLine has an extensive listing of web sites associated with neighborhoods and Advisory ANCs:, The Historical Society of Washington, DC, also lists some neighborhoods: And so does the DC Heritage Tourism Coalition,



Recommendations for Fire Place Builder?
Mary Harold, 

Our old gas fire place needs to be changed. We need a reputable person to do the job.


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