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September 4, 2002

Election Guides

Dear Guides:

I can't help wondering why the hottest contests in next week's primary election are for the unpaid lobbyist “shadow” positions, while serious challengers avoided running for the top elected positions — Delegate to Congress, Mayor, Council Chairman. My bias has always been that in a democracy politics is for amateurs and not professionals and that, as Senator Fred Thompson said last week when he announced that he would not seek reelection, holding political office should be an interruption in a career rather than a career in itself. In DC, Marion Barry used to be called the “Mayor for Life.” Now all of our elected officials can practically count on incumbency to guarantee job security. That's sad, and bad for the health of our local democracy, even if you like all the incumbents.

GLAA and The Common Denominator post messages below about their voters' guides. Here are the online voters' guides I've been able to find: The Common Denominator and the DC League of Women Voters post transcripts of candidates forums at The League of Women Voter's own voter guide is at GLAA's ratings and questionnaire are at AARP's candidate questionnaire, mentioned in the last issue of themail, is at The Washington Post has a links page for its coverage of the mayoral race at The DC Employment Justice Center publishes the "Human Needs First" voters guide at And DCWatch provides links to candidates' own web sites and publishes campaign materials from all candidates at Please let me know if I've missed any other online guides.

Gary Imhoff 


Bardoe for Mayor?
Diane Schulz, 

Does anyone know who the “Bardoe for Mayor” is who has spray painted his signs on sidewalks? There is a spray painted, stenciled sign on the corner of Park Road, NW, and Klingle Road, NW, if anyone wants to see it.


Campaign Highs
Dorothy Brizill, 

The money raised and spent on election campaigns continues to reach new highs, but candidates seem to be getting very little public exposure for the money they spend. Only an election or two ago, the very best financed ward candidates, except for Jack Evans, who was called “moneybags” as a result, spent well under a hundred thousand dollars on a campaign, and credible citywide candidates spent little more than that. Now Tony Williams seems destined to become DC's first multimillion dollar candidate — he has raised $1,662,372 to date, but has only $216,940 cash left, with $338,540 in debts. Council Chair Linda Cropp has no opponent in the primary and no Republican opponent, and Debby Hanrahan announced her Statehood Party write-in candidacy for Council Chair just yesterday. Yet Cropp has raised $264,955 for her invisible campaign, and still has $198,917.58 in the bank, with no debts. At-large incumbents Phil Mendelson ($154,288 raised, $69,520 cash remaining, $53,482 in unpaid bills) David Catania ($327,968 raised, $220,618 left) are not hurting. And Ward councilmember incumbents are well financed: Jim Graham ($214,351 raised, $127,956 cash on hand), Kathy Patterson ($92,476 raised, $52,022 remaining with a $1,000 debt); and Sharon Ambrose ($145,276 raised, $66,139 cash left). The only Ward challenger with similar funding is Ward 3's Erik Gaull ($126,635 raised; $5,790 left; and a $52,000 debt), but Gaull has donated or loaned his own campaign a good portion of those funds, including all the debt. Since the money these campaigns have spent seems to be largely wasted, the major purpose of such large war chests seems to be to convince potential challengers that their efforts will be futile. (The only laugh among the latest financial reports at the Office of Campaign Finance came from Democratic mayoral candidate James Clark, who reported as his total receipts, “What I need I spend.”)

A revealing footnote to Tony Williams's financial report is how much of his debt is due to his stubborn persistence in defending his forged and fraudulent petitions. Williams still owes $45,120 to the law firm of Holland and Knight, $43,420 to the law firm of Greenstein DeLorme and Luchs, and the $250,000 fine assessed by the Board of Elections and Ethics. Williams's total legal bill was $116,124, including $27,584 that was paid ion August. By contrast, the two teams who challenged the election fraud, DCWatch and Republican activists Shaun Snyder and Mark Sibley, spent under $500 between them: $307 to buy three copies of the petitions, $112 to buy a transcript of the Board's hearing, and $50 for miscellaneous photocopying.


Support for Phil Mendelson, DC Council At-Large
Joan Eisenstodt, 

Phil Mendelson has been, directly and through his superb staff, the most responsive Council member since the late John Wilson and Dave Clarke. From a post on this list, their office learned of frustrations in our neighborhood with dead trees and missing crosswalks and resulting danger. They wrote, they called, and they ensured the problems were handled. We need Phil Mendelson on the Council.


Patterson and Mendelson Didn’t Have to Split Chevy Chase
Jenny Chesky, 

Incumbent At-large Councilmember Mendelson and Ward 3 Councilmember Patterson have been saying during the current campaign that they had no choice but to split my Chevy Chase neighborhood between Wards 3 and 4 during last year's decennial ward redistricting. Not so. Patterson accepted Ward 2 Councilmember Evans' position that he did not want Glover Park to be transferred to his ward, and that he wanted to transfer to Ward 3 eastern Palisades and Foxhall, which included some of his political opponents. She paid more attention to the wishes of her fellow councilmember than to the passionate opposition of her ward's largest neighborhood.

Patterson and Mendelson say they had to split Chevy Chase to get Ward 3's population down toward the Ward average. But the District's redistricting statute, 1-1308(f) plainly says the population can deviate more than 5% from the average “from the promotion of a rational public policy, including but not limited to respect for . . . the natural geography of the District, neighborhood cohesiveness, or the development of compact and contiguous districts.” In other words, factors such as the natural boundary, Rock Creek Park, or the cohesiveness of our long-standing neighborhood, Chevy Chase, are more important than approximately equal population of the wards. While it is obvious that redistricting of the council, by the council, and for the council will always result in gerrymandering to protect incumbents, both Patterson and Mendelson say they want the Council to continue to redistrict itself. Patterson even claims, falsely, that all other US state legislatures have that power — although about a third of them give greater or lesser authority to an independent commission, as proposed by Ward 3 challenger Erik Gaull.

Since Patterson and Mendelson redistricted us against our will, continue to defend what they did, and even insist that the Council should retain that power in the future, they should be held accountable. Chevy Chase Democrats should vote for Beverly Wilbourn, at-large, and where they can, Erik Gaull, Ward 3.


Arthur Jackson Endorses
Rhonda Howell Thurston, rhtrton@msn,net 

Candidate for Mayor Arthur H. Jackson, Jr., has announced his support for Democratic candidates for DC City Council in Wards 5 and 6. Jackson is supporting Ward 5 native son Harry Thomas, Jr., for his outstanding service to all the people of Ward Five, not to a select few, and for his progressive leadership on issues of concern for Democrats: health care, affordable housing, senior citizens and our youth. And in Ward 6, Jackson supports Keith Andrew Perry, a bright star on the horizon for DC. We must work hard to end the policies of Tony Williams to force African American families out of DC and into Prince Georges County. Jackson will confirm his choices for endorsement in his final debate before the primary election at UDC on Thursday, September 5, at 7 p.m.


The Hotly Contested Race for Shadow Senator
Paul Michael Brown, Eastern Market, 

After reading the charges and counter charges by partisans of the candidates for shadow senator, I am reminded of Henry Kissinger's wisecrack about academic politics in which he explained that the battles are so vigorous because so little is at stake.

[I can already see the battles, not over who should be elected, but over who originated the quotation about academic politics. Was it Kissinger, or can you come up with citations predating him? — Gary Imhoff]


Pete Ross for US Senator
Pete Ross, 

While personally collecting 2700 signatures for my petition for the US Senate ballot, and since then in my campaign, I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many DC citizens and discuss with you the denial of our right to vote in the Congress, and the role of our elected US Senator. I have learned that just about everyone agrees that it is an outrage that we have no vote in Congress, but that few know about the US Senate position, or can identify its current incumbent. Even though the Congress has forbidden the DC government from paying the salary and expenses of its US Senators and Representative, and they are sometimes called the “shadow delegation,” we DC citizens must take these positions seriously, and let everyone know that our voting rights in Congress are important to us. After all, when the original civil rights leaders took up the cause of voting rights for African Americans back in the 50s and 60s, they didn't have the right to vote either.

Many DC citizens and organizations have made important contributions to our struggle for voting rights — Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, senior US Senator Florence Pendleton, US Representative Ray Browne; DC Vote, Stand Up for Democracy, DC RABBLE, and Joe Grano with his attempt to put an ad in the New York Times. The challenger for the US Representative position, Susi Baranano, has a good idea, working through the national associations headquartered in DC to influence their nationwide membership and, through them, their Senators and Members of Congress. I would suggest that when our new Convention Center comes on line next year, it be asked to set aside some space for the voting rights effort so that we can use every convention that comes there to raise consciousness about our cause.

Many people and organizations have contributed to the struggle, and many more will be needed. If elected US Senator, I will raise the profile of the office, and focus on mobilizing our own resources, but not for self-promotion; cooperating with others and giving them credit where credit is due rather than claiming credit for myself for their achievements and ideas.


Shadow Senator and Representative
Michael Bindner, mbindner at aol dot you know what

First, on Ray Browne. I appreciate his tireless efforts on voting rights. However, getting voting rights is not the purpose of his job. His one and only job is to push for statehood for New Columbia. That is the job the constitutional convention of 1982 created. If he, or any other candidates, are uncomfortable with advocating for statehood as the solution, they should not seek one of these offices. In November, this is a candidate who takes such an uncompromising position, Adam Eidinger of the DC Statehood Green Party. He deserves the vote of every DC voter who believes in statehood — and according to a recent poll of DC residents, that would be 82 percent of them. By that standard, Ray does not deserve their vote.

Second, on Peter Ross. Peter's main campaign focus seems to be DPW inspections. Peter, that is not your job. Your job is statehood. If you wish to seek statehood by improving local governance, you must raise the awareness of the problem of two New Columbia Constitutions and pressure the District Council to resolve it. Of course, to do so, you need to make the case that Paul Strauss has not done his job — advocating for statehood generally and more specifically doing everything he can for the District on the Hill, especially at budget time. Paul is a known quantity in the Senate and in the Democracy movement. In the movement and on the Hill there is only one question. Peter who? Ray is at least known (and loved) in the movement, although his focus on voting rights is not something that many of us agree with. He at least shows up, as does Adam. Private to Mr. Ross: run for Council again, possibly at-large, possibly for Chair. That is how Mr. Orange built his base. Don't challenge our very successful and able Senator. Finally, the DC Appropriations legislation prohibits federal funding of the DC delegation. The Council could fund it, though it has not chosen to. The provision prohibiting local funding was eliminated many years ago. If Mr. Ross does not understand this, he is not qualified for this office.


Strauss “Behind the Scenes” vs. Ross “Out in Front”
Catherine Cahill, 

AS we approach the primary, we all need to consider the effectiveness of our incumbents and the potential of their respective challengers. Previous articles have talked about the Shadow Senator’s job as requiring a lot of “behind the scenes” work (Mark Richards and Lynne Mersfelder). Should we ask ourselves if perhaps behind the scenes is one of the operational problems for the District of Columbia? Without full voting representation, our Shadow Senator is already working with one hand tied behind his back. Is quiet action really any action at all? Perhaps we need someone to step up and be recognized. We need someone willing to be vocal about our District's circumstances, our needs, and our expectations of equal treatment. Pete Ross, the challenger for the US Senate is that person with the energy and the drive to do those things.

My comments presented here in themail are not neutral. I currently serve as the Treasurer for the Pete Ross 2002 Campaign. Watching his work for the interests of the Foxhall Community Citizens Association made it easy to support him and to help with his campaign. Along with the rest of my neighborhood, I have watched Pete's activism. He immediately and openly takes our issues to the correct source in DC government to resolve the problems. Whenever he has met with resistance, or relative silence, his persistence ultimately wins the day. We can only believe that the same energy and effectiveness that we’ve witnessed locally will be carried into the United States Senate. The visibility of Eleanor Holmes Norton has helped her effectiveness in the House of Representatives. One of Pete's goals is to be just as visible on the Senate side of the Congress. Together with our other senator, Florence Pendleton, he can better support Del. Norton’s accomplishments in the House and see them through the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the District of Columbia.

Behind the scenes may be an occasional course of action for anyone in politics, but not a general rule. It is far more likely that Pete Ross will be out in front with his fellow Senators on behalf of all us in Washington. For all the tax dollars we spend, the residents of the District deserve full representation. When the readers of themail go to the polls on September 10, I sincerely hope that they will give careful consideration to the kind of action that they want to represent them before the US Senate for the coming six years. Will it be behind the scenes? Or out in front?


Paul Strauss and Student Interns
Jason Juffras, 

The “controversy” over Paul Strauss' use of unpaid student interns only makes me more likely to vote for him. The young people I saw working for Strauss at the Ward 2 Democrats endorsement meeting did not seem coerced or unhappy; their energy was palpable and genuine. More power to them!


Slander in the DC Shadow Senate Race
Sean Tenner, 

As an activist in the voting rights movement, I just wanted to note my distaste for Pete Ross' nasty attacks on our Shadow Senator Paul Strauss. While it's great that the Shadow Senate race is competitive, it does our cause a disservice when a challenger makes these personal attacks. Pete should be talking about one thing: the District's lack of voting rights/statehood and his differing views and ideas for righting this wrong. Regardless of who wins, the Shadow Senator will be one of DC's only voices in the halls of Congress and across the nation. Throwing mud in this race will only worsen the District's position in the public's mind.

Ever since I've been involved in the voting rights movement, I've known Paul to be open, accessible and hardworking. He's been there at every meeting, event or fundraiser that I've attended for the District's cause — yet I've never seen Pete Ross. I hope this campaign can get back on a positive, issue-oriented footing.


Stop the Negative Attacks
Kate Burke, 

Despite his assertions to the contrary, Pete Ross does have more than three posters on Nebraska Avenue, NW, on the South Side of the street between Ward Circle and Van Ness Street, and more than three on the North side between Ward Circle and 42nd Street, NW. The truth is, I couldn't care less. What bothers me was the hypocrisy of preaching one thing and doing another. In my DC travels I have not seen more than three Strauss signs on any one side of the street, but who really cares. If Strauss apologized for real or imagined slights, good for him. That takes honesty and character.

Without a salary, paid staff, or budget, Paul Strauss has worked his tail off for all of us in this city. If you want to vote for someone else, that's of course your right. But, whatever you think of Mr. Ross, Strauss deserves better than the string of negative personal attacks that the Ross campaign has thrown at him. Finally, the whole false accusation that the Senator's student volunteers somehow violated federal law by collecting valid voter signatures is ridiculous! Good for him and his young volunteers. Ross is the one who says he's out of “the 1960's.” Why would he criticize the active political youth of today? I only wish the Mayor Williams campaign involved young people, the same way the Paul Strauss campaign does.


Pete Ross, 

Candidates for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate do not get much press; therefore political campaign posters are one of the major ways to get our name out before the public. Over Labor Day weekend, three volunteers set up signs for me throughout Washington, DC. Erik Gaull (who is a candidate for the Democratic Nomination for Ward 3 Councilmember) called me and told me that all of my signs from 4000 Massachusetts Avenue to Ward Circle had been torn down. He told me that the signs were laying on the grass next to the light poles where they had been installed. I personally went out to examine the carnage and replaced the signs. These same signs were torn down again last night.

This in itself would not be so disturbing, except the "Pete Ross for US Senate" posters were torn down on Rhode Island Avenue from 12th Street to the Maryland line, as were my signs on New York Avenue, 14th Street, and 15th Street, NW. Removal of my posters has occurred on several other major thoroughfares. I find it disturbing that none of the signs for the other candidates are being vandalized in such a wholesale manner. As a candidate, we have to expect that some of our signs will be removed. However, in prior races, I have never experienced such wholesale removal of my political signs. If anybody has any information about who is doing this, please call 246-0000 or send me an E-mail.


Ray Browne
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, 

I agree with Patrick Pellerin that Ray Browne deserves reelection. He has worked tirelessly to produce demonstrable evidence in support for DC's case in the political arena. He listens to constituents and has helped to advance DC's most important goal, with title — but without salary.


Mayoral Candidates Forum at UDC
Alverda Muhammad, 

I read the notice for the City Council and Mayoral Candidates' Fora to be held at UDC on September 4th and 5th. While the City Council meeting will be moderated by two local personalities, I am totally aghast at UDC bringing Amy Goodman of WPFW's "Democracy Now" from New York City to Washington, DC for a candidates' forum for a local election. I like Amy Goodman's show. It is probably the best of its kind in all of radio land. However, we have in DC some very able, local personalities such as WTOP's Mark Plotkin, WHUT's Kojo Nnambi and WOL's Joe Madison, to name only three, (there are others), who know the candidates by face and name and who know the Washington, DC issues, and who are involved with the persons and issues on a daily basis and have been for years. If this were a national election, I could understand — but for a local election, I feel this move is inexcusable and an insult to the intelligence and ability of the local news community.


Will the Real Tony Williams Please Stand Up
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom 

Wednesday's issue of the Post notes that there are thirty Anthony Williamses listed in the District and an assortment of Tony Williamses. The same goes for William Wilsons. Any one of these namesakes can declare their write-in candidacy, even as late as three days after the election, and claim that they are the “real” Anthony (or Tony) Williams. Who is to say that some namesake of Williams or Wilson might not lay claim as the Democratic candidate for the general election?

In retrospect it looks like Tony Williams (our current Mayor), in his zest to hang onto the Democratic Party war chest and run as a write-in Democrat, may have been hoist on his own petard. He should have run as an independent and filed the requisite number of valid petition signatures. He would have avoided the primary mess and been a legitimate, unbeatable candidate in the general election. It's like Alice in Wonderland here in DC. Is Carol Schwartz the Cheshire Cat who will then be our next mayor?


Absentee Ballot
Joan Eisenstodt, 

Received mine and found it interesting. A teeny tiny pencil was included with instructions on how to "connect the arrows" and write in if desired. I hope the pencils on election day are far bigger . . . anyone with any arthritis or other hand/motion difficulty will have a problem. It may be an election to BYOP.


Candidate Forum Transcripts Online
Kathy Sinzinger, 

The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia and The Common Denominator have teamed up this year to provide online transcripts of selected candidates forums. Transcripts of the forums, which have been selected and transcribed by the League, can be read on the “Election 2002” page of The Common Denominator's Web site at

This week's issue of The Common Denominator also contains our citywide Voters' Guide to the 2002 Primary Election. The guide, without photographs, also is available on our Web site. There is no charge for accessing current or archived information on The Common Denominator's Web site.


Six Primary Candidates Excel in the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance Ratings
Bob Summersgill, GLAA President, 

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC has announced its ratings for candidates in the September 10 primary election for DC Council and Mayor. Six candidates earned high ratings, well above the rest. Incumbent Councilmembers David Catania (R-At Large) and Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) topped the list with perfect scores of 10 on a scale of -10 to +10. Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) was close behind at 9. Councilmembers Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and mayoral candidate Steve Donkin (Statehood Green) each earned 7.5.

“David Catania, Sharon Ambrose, Kathy Patterson, Jim Graham and Phil Mendelson are among our best friends on the DC Council, and their ratings and questionnaires reflect their commitments to our community and issues,” said GLAA President Bob Summersgill. “It is also important to note that four Democrats, a Republican, and a Statehood Green candidate were all rated very highly,” said Summersgill, “Incumbents and challengers alike rated very well.” Candidates are rated on a scale of -10 to +10, based on their answers to GLAA’s questionnaire and their record on behalf of the gay and lesbian community. GLAA has rated candidates for office in every DC primary and general election since 1971. Independent candidates will be rated prior to the general election. Full questionnaires and rating breakdowns are online at


Board of Elections and Voter Lists
Elizabeth McIntire, 

In response to Dominic Sale's complaint that the BOEE still has not provided the lists of registered voters within the Single Member Districts for ANC candidates, they have also not updated their web site to include listings of ANC candidates , and there are errors in the information on new Single Member District details. As for petitions, even with a conscientious effort, count on 30 percent of signatures to be questionable; people may have moved and not changed their address, etc. So to get 25 good signatures, you should collect at least forty. And to be sure, check the voter lists. Up to this year, my experience of the BOEE has been very positive; they have always impressed me as efficient and courteous public servants, unlike other DC agencies where surly service was the norm.


Mystery Improvements
Victoria McKernan, 

Does anyone know anything about what appears to be new streetlights being installed on Columbia Road between 14th and 16th Streets? I can't find out who knows or should know the plan here. These look like decorative globe-type lights, which I suppose are fine (except for the fact that the street is lined with low-rise apartments into which windows they will shine unmercifully, and glass globes will be shot out or otherwise busted pretty quickly around here for sport), but I am worried that they might be planning to remove the old ones. The existing lights are very effective and this street, only recently recovering from major drug and crime activity, needs lots of light. Additional light, decorative or not is great, taking out the old lights would be bad.

Also, new sidewalks are being put in — very nice. I happened to be coming home late enough that night that the drying cement was just the right texture to rub out all the marks that had been scratched into it. A thought: if you are spending a few thousand dollars to pour new cement, why not find some neighborhood kid or homeless guy and pay them $50.00 or so to keep watch over the drying canvas and "erase" all the inevitable scratchings throughout the night. Easy enough to do since you would only pay upon finding a clean smooth and dry sidewalk.


Motorcycle Road Test
Joshua H. Singer, 

Does anyone know anything about the DC road test for motorcycle operators? No one at the DMV can tell me what it entails.


New Monument Hours? When?
David Hunter, 

As mentioned in someone's post about the DMV, government seems to operate on stealth. Sneak in a regulation, catch citizens unaware. Speaking of that, I was out the Saturday night before Labor Day and it was a beautiful evening. Was driving back home around the Mall and decided that I would try to go up in the Washington Monument. Although I know you now have to get tickets beforehand, I thought I might be able to go up and walk in, as it was pretty quiet and no one was around. I got there at 9:30 p.m. and the Monument was closed. Went to check the sign, and it said that the Washington Monument hours are from 7 or 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon. What? When did this happen? After September 11, no doubt. There is no nighttime viewing allowed anymore during the summer months? What gives? Another way to save taxpayer money and take away even more quality of life in DC? If they're not going to open E Street, how about the Washington Monument?


What Do Others Think About “Anthems?”
Wendy Blair, 

In answer to Mark Richards's question, What do others think about “Anthems?” in the September 1 issue of themail, two friends and I found “Anthems,” currently running at the Krieger Theater, preachy. In fairness, the assignment to come up with a play that expresses the essence of DC is not a promising one. The acting company is superb — but we were disappointed that the material did not rise above the caliber of a good revue. We laughed. We admired the energy of the actors. Qualities not to be sneezed at — but they do not add up to a play. Yet.


Preserving the Fragile Fabric of Freedom and Civility
Len Sullivan, 

Citizens of DC are at some risk of turning their democratic obligations into a cartoon caricature. They must objectively address the basic issue of who should next govern them, from among the very few willing to try. They cannot afford to ignore the Council races, or casually trash the only competent, albeit imperfect, mayor the nation's capital has had in over twenty years.

It is an important time to distinguish naivety from malice, individual responsibilities from self-appointed rights, prudence from histrionics, professionalism from evangelism, reality from sanctimonious sophistry, the common good from personal quirks. Beware the exaggerated idiosyncrasies of activists majoring in negativism, misplaced blame, petty vendettas and peculiar views of democracy. Avoid the racial demagoguery and buffoonery of candidates and critics with little or no knowledge of what it takes to run, and how long it takes to change, a major heterogeneous inner city. No realistic alternative approach to any of the city's many, mostly self-inflicted, problems is being proffered (though some are certainly possible).

Be serious, fellow citizens. This isn't a carnival, a revival meeting, a beauty contest, or a public pillorying. This is not the time to send spiteful or ambiguous messages by ballot. It is time to vote for the future of our nation's capital city: don't let it revert to a national embarrassment.


Kudos to Mr. Sullivan for Thinking Outside the Box
Paul Michael Brown, Eastern Market, 

A few issues back Len Sullivan dissected the flaccid rhetoric of class/race warfare favored by so many here with his cogent and pithy essay entitled: “Misplaying the Poverty Card: Who Doesn't Get What?” In this latest effort, “Down with Affordable Housing?” Mr. Sullivan once again bucks the conventional wisdom with some tightly written and didactic prose in which he dares to posit that Mayor Williams has wisely invested scarce city funds to build more than 10,000 housing units for low and moderate income citizens (never mind the criticism that has spewed forth from the Professional Poverty Lobby.) After reading so much common sense from Mr. Sullivan, I'm considering writing in his name when I cast my vote for mayor.


I Am A Camera (Apologies to Christopher Isherwood)
Mark Eckenwiler, eck [at] ingot [dot] org

At the risk of beating a well and truly dead horse, I'll offer up a few comments in reply to James Treworgy's posting in the last issue on red-light cameras. First, he suggests that his purpose in criticizing the cameras is merely “to stimulate people to stop taking all the pro-camera propaganda at face value and think for themselves.” I commend him for seeking to stimulate thoughtful discussion, but observe that he seems nevertheless unsatisfied by the thoughtful conclusions reached by themailers favoring cameras. (If the last issue is any indication, few are buying what Mr. Treworgy is selling.)

My own experience as a driver in DC is that the timing of yellow lights is just fine. Having driven all over the District in the past several years, I can't think of a single intersection where a too-short yellow signal sandbagged me into running a red. By contrast, I can't begin to count the times I've seen other drivers -- almost invariably driving well in excess of the speed limit — blitz inexcusably through a red light. (I'm also reminded of the occasions when I've stopped at a stop sign — evidently I am the sole remaining driver on the East Coast who follows this quaint custom — and had the driver behind me simply pull out and pass through the intersection on my left instead of stopping. Ditto for the times I've seen drivers run a red light in advance of the coming green signal.) The problem is a behavioral one that, in my view, requires not adjustment by DOT of the signals, but rather adjustment of the bad behavior by deterrent sanctions, as several readers observed in the last issue. On the issue of bias, I did read the Matt Labash piece in the Daily Standard (available at suggested by Mr. Treworgy and found it axe-grindingly unpersuasive. (E.g., there are good reasons to question the commission-style compensation arrangements with the companies deploying cameras, as Labash does. Alas, this sideshow issue has nothing to do with the advisability/efficacy of the cameras themselves.) And contrary to Mr. Treworgy's unfounded accusation, I am hardly a shill for the insurance industry, least of all because I puckishly satirize the patent flimsiness of the NMA anti-camera "study" in Fairfax on which he relies.

An exercise for the reader: if, as Messrs. Treworgy and Labash would have us believe, red light cameras increase the incidence of rear-end collisions, then why is the insurance industry so supportive of the cameras? (Bonus question: If your answer is “because they get to raise the premiums of the drivers involved,” explain a) how this makes economic sense for the industry, and b) why I should care about helping speeders and tailgaters in DC keep their rates low.)



DC Preservation League’s Row House Month Events, September 2002
Kate Farnham, 

To draw attention to the importance of preserving of Washington's predominant housing type, the row house, the DC Preservation League is sponsoring three events in the month of September 2002 with the generous support of Hines. Reservations for all events may be made by calling the DC Preservation League at 202-955-5616.

1) Name that Row House, Saturday, September 14, 10:00 a.m. to noon, Chapel of the Resurrection, Congressional Cemetery 1801 E Street, SE. $15 DCPL members; $20 nonmembers. This lecture/slide show, followed by a walking tour of the Capitol Hill East neighborhood, will help participants identify row house types and histories from Federal to Victorian, Flat Fronts to Bays. Light refreshments provided. 2) City Living: Opportunities and Incentives, Wednesday, September 18, 6:30 p.m., Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1777 Church Street, NW, admission is free. A panel of experts from the public and private sectors will discuss the historical growth of row house neighborhoods, current real estate trends, and the future of residential development, including the City's economic incentives for homeowners. A reception will follow the panel discussion. 3) Nuts and Bolts, Bricks and Mortar, Saturday, September 28, 10 a.m. to noon, departing from the Southwest corner of 1st Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NW (front of the Bloomingdale Market, 1836 1st Street, NW). $15 DCPL members; $20 nonmembers. This walking tour among the substantial brick row houses of Bloomingdale will focus on the rewards and challenges of renovating older homes and include tips for successful preservation. Light refreshments provided.


Hearing on Vacant School Buildings
Denise Wiktor, 

On September 27 the Subcommittee on Latino Affairs Human Rights and Property Management will be holding a hearing on vacant school properties in OPM's inventory, and I am looking for interested persons/interest groups that would like to testify. These would, but not be limited to, proposed uses, buildings of historic or community interest. Please call or E-mail me your name, group (if any) or interest (like I graduated from there) a phone number and the school you wish to address.



Yard Sale
Ann Hargrove, 

September 8 (Adams Morgan Day), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1827 Belmont Road, NW. (Rain date, the following Sunday if necessary.) All proceeds to go to the Kalorama Citizens Association for the purpose of assisting with a historic building survey. Contact Ann or Larry Hargrove at 332-6320 for information or to donate items for the sale. They will arrange pickup if needed. Donate, help, buy!


Nadine Granof, 

Two antique china cabinets, both under $200; a Scan 1950s Hi-Fi stand/desk ($100); mahogany sideboard with slate top ($!50); 1920s elegant floor lamp ($150). Contact:



Need for Used Refrigerator
June Kress, 

The St. Luke's Shelter, now in its 11th year of operation, has a desperate need for a used refrigerator. We are a transitional, community-based homeless shelter that houses up to six men for up to a six-month period. We know you're out there renovating your kitchens, so please consider donating your used fridge to a good cause.



Anyone Know of an Available Studio/1 Bedroom?
Faye Brown, 

Interested in Metro-accessible Studio/1BR apartment. Quiet, NS, neat, responsible, young professional looking to move as soon as possible. Working at a nonprofit so need a reasonable rent. Fairly handy and interested in gardening, so would keep your property neat and in great shape! Please E-mail me at or call me at 732-604-0741.



What to See with Only 48 Hours in DC?
Alan Henney, 

Several foreign exchange students will visit our city for two days before returning home later this month. What advice or strategy do the seasoned Washingtonians give the students as to what to see, how much to see, where to start -- if they only have two days?

Can anybody recommend a safe and affordable place, perhaps a downtown B&B, for them to stay for a couple nights?


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