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September 8, 2002


Dear Endorsers:

The Washington Post is finally catching up with writers to themail, and giving Tony Williams a daily beating for his distant and unfriendly personality. Personality is important — a leader won't know what people want or think if he shrinks from listening to them — but in concentrating on personality the Post implies that the only grounds for dissatisfaction is personal, and that Williams's policies and management are above complaint. Against all evidence, the Post still pretends that District agencies and service delivery have been greatly improved, that the public schools are on an upswing, that public health care was increased and its cost decreased by closing DC General Hospital, and that the generally good economy that DC enjoyed for the past several years resulted from city government policies. We often vote based on nothing but superstition. We usually believe that an officeholder lucky enough to serve during a good economy must be a good politician deserving of reelection, and a politician unlucky enough to be in office during a recession must deserve replacement. Tony Williams has been lucky enough to have been CFO and Mayor during good times, and to have put off the news of returning budget deficits and the prospects of even further service cuts until they are too late to hurt him at the polls. He will benefit from that timing and from our search for a Mayor who is a good-luck talisman, but he will most likely find that the next four years will be a tough slog through rocky terrain.

Will Williams have learned anything from this election? Will he have learned to listen to voters? Is he really likely to attend any further community meetings or block parties the week after the primary is over? Will he be accessible to and listen to citizens and residents, or will he instruct his police guards to return to keeping the peons at a respectful distance? Will his manner of governing or any of his policies really change? Or, if he wins the primary with a huge majority, will he learn only that he is invincible, unaccountable, unharmable by any misdeeds, crimes, or scandals; that he is indeed, as Washington Times columnist Adrienne Washington calls him, “Teflon Tony?”

Gary Imhoff 


News from the Campaign
Dorothy Brizill, 

The Williams campaign has an uncanny talent for shooting itself in the foot with its own campaign ads. Several weeks ago, the campaign published a flyer imploring voters to write in Williams []. The photo on the flyer, supposedly showing Williams campaigning with voters, was actually an old photo from the 1998 campaign, and featured then campaign aide Marshall Brown. Brown is best remembered for causing the first embarrassing faux pas of the Williams administration when his complaint over David Howard's use of the word “niggardly” led to Williams allowing Howard to be forced out of the administration. Now Williams is running a television ad that shows eight people praising Williams's accomplishments. The woman in the ad who says, “I'm going to write in. . .” Anthony Williams is Ana Raley, the former CEO of Greater Southeast Hospital who worked with the city to close DC General Hospital. Raley is now a senior executive with Doctors Community Healthcare, the Arizona corporation that is making millions on the deal and that has contributed tens of thousands to Williams's campaign. If Raley does write in Williams, she'll be committing election fraud; she's neither a DC resident nor a registered voter in the District.

The Williams campaign has an issues committee that meets weekly, but the committee hasn't published any issue papers. The chair of the committee is Peter Rosenstein, who, when asked about it, first denied that the issues committee existed, then said that he didn't know who the members of the committee were, and then that he was too busy to prepare a list of the members. Williams campaign manager Ted Carter promised to reveal the list of members a week ago, but hasn't delivered.

Perhaps the most interesting campaign flyer of the season is from Al-Malik Farrakhan, who is running as a Democratic candidate for At-Large Councilmember. Farakkhan, who makes his twenty-one-year incarceration a key highlight of his campaign resume, uses a picture of himself in a striped uniform suggesting a prison suit, with a “wanted” sign hung around his neck []. 

One thing to watch for after the campaign is over: Stephen Callas is a current member of the Board of Elections and Ethics whose renomination Mayor Williams sent to the City Council just before its summer recess. Sources close to Williams say that he is still furious over the Board's rejection of his nominating petitions, and that he is considering whether to withdraw Callas' nomination or to persuade Vincent Orange, chair of the Government Operations Committee, to bury the nomination in Committee.


Phil Mendelson in the Primary
Janet W. Brown, 

Dear Friends in DC, I'm writing to urge you — if you are registered as a Democrat — to vote for Phil Mendelson in the council-member-at-large race.

As some of you know, I've worked very hard with a lot of friends over the last two years on affordable housing issues in DC. Much of that has been work with the Council — to get a good law and a reasonable budget. In the process, I have closely observed the Council Members. Phil Mendelson is one of those who has earned my lasting respect. He is honest, straightforward, principled. One always knows where he stands. He works very hard (full-time, with no outside employment, unlike his opponents) and does his homework. He's accessible, responsive, and listens to new ideas — quite capable of changing his positions if he learns new facts. He is courageous and not afraid ever to stand alone — against the whole Council if need be — and he has left his mark on many bills. And he volunteered to do the job of redistricting, which nobody else wanted and which probably cost him some votes. I have not always agreed with Phil, but I know you will not find a better public servant. So please vote for him on Tuesday.


At-Large Council Primary
Charles King, 

In the Democratic Primary it seems the race has come down to two real contestants: Phil Mendelson and Dwight Singleton. Though much touted, Beverly Wilbourn never really materialized as a force on the campaign trail. Indeed, Marc Fisher of the Washington Post was right in February when he wrote the following for his weekly on-line “Potomac Journal” Q & A session: “Wilbourn is the kind of candidate who can only happen in the District, where political activism is limited to a small group of people and someone who has no real experience in city affairs can come along and, with the backing of a few business folks, pretend to be something she's not. Last time, voters saw right through her act. Let's hope they're smart enough to do so again.” [


Negative Campaigning
Barbara Somson, 

It is a political truism that a losing candidate has no where to go but negative, but the mailing I received on Friday from Erik Gaull established a new low in campaign literature, based on my fifteen election seasons in the District. The piece contains lies and distortions about Kathy Patterson and contains no information about Erik Gaull, his record, or what he would do if he were on the Council. Indeed, it does not even ask Ward 3 residents to vote for Erik Gaull; it asks us to “vote no on Kathy Patterson.” Among the lies and innuendoes in the brochure is one asserting that Kathy is soft on handgun control. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Kathy is a longtime opponent of handguns and, in fact, introduced a resolution in the Council, timed with her participation in the Million Mom March, calling for a ban on the manufacture and sale of handguns nationwide.

But the most offensive aspect of Gaull's piece is his use of Kathy's children to score negative political points. He claims Kathy cut funds for summer school, "while sending her own children to private school." Kathy did not cut funds for summer school, and both of her kids went through Murch Elementary and Deal Jr. High with my kids, then went to Maret for high school. (In contrast, when the candidates were asked at the NW Current forum whether they would send their children to DC public schools, Erik Gaull acknowledged he had none and said, if he did, he wasn't sure whether he would send them or not!) Kathy has an outstanding record as a public school advocate, predating her first run for office and continuing to this day. Public school parents from Ward 3 and from around the city turn to Kathy for help and advocacy in matters concerning the public schools and she delivers. I've got a daughter at Wilson HS and I've been a public school activist for over ten years and I've never seen Erik Gaull show a dime's worth of interest in the public schools until he began his campaign to unseat Kathy.

Kathy Patterson is running on her record of results, not only for Ward 3 residents but for District residents throughout the city. Erik Gaull is running a myopic campaign focused solely on the ward. Now that he realizes it is not working, he's turned vilely negative. Shame on him.


The Choice in Ward 3 — Erik Gaull
Lars Hydle, 

Incumbent Ward 3 Council Member Kathy Patterson enjoys the great advantages that incumbent DC Council members have over potential challengers — name recognition, endless Channel 13 telecasts, the absence of partisan competition, endorsements and contributions from police officers and firefighters whose budgets he Council committee controls, an informal code of mutual support among incumbent Council members that would make the Mafia jealous, and the endorsement of the city's incumbent newspaper. Earlier this year, according to the Post, she was seemed to be a shoo-in. But now that Erik Gaull resigned his position in the Office of the Mayor and entered the race, she faces a tough challenge, suggesting that dissatisfaction with her performance may trump her advantages as an incumbent.

The choice comes down to their respective attitudes toward the voters. Patterson has been lackluster, compared with neighboring Ward council members, in fulfilling individual constituent requests for service and in supporting the struggles of groups and neighborhoods with developers and large institutions. She has shown that she thinks she knows better than DC and Ward 3 voters, by voting to repeal the term limits we imposed on Council Members in a 1994 initiative, without coming back to us for our approval; and to redistrict ward council seats contrary to legal redistricting principles and the views of her constituents. She has tried to portray these decisions as tough and courageous, but they benefited her and her colleagues, not us.

In contrast, Erik Gaull has focused in his campaign on listening to and working for us -- individuals, groups and neighborhoods. He has said he would not have repealed term limits without our approval, nor placed numbers ahead of neighbors when redistricting, and that he would transfer redistricting from the Council to an impartial commission. I urge Ward 3 Democrats to break the stranglehold of incumbency by voting for a Council member who will pay attention to our interests and respect our views, not just every fourth August, but all four years — Erik Gaull.


Eric Gaull for Ward 3
Frank J. Haendler, 

Before voters go to the polls September 10 to vote in the Democratic primary for Ward 3 City Council, I would like to raise an important issue. Newspaper endorsements and Kathy Patterson's own written campaign material do not mention a single, concrete initiative to address any local issue of significance to Ward 3 residents. When it comes to gut issues involving the day to day quality of life in our various Ward 3 neighborhoods, issues with long term implications for us and our families such as development, zoning and traffic, Kathy Patterson is nowhere to be found. She is evasive, elusive, and in the rare event that someone finally manages to reach her directly, she says she does not wish to be involved, that it is too early to address the problem, that she will take the issue under advisement. If she finally does take a position, it is usually too tardy and tepid to have any effect.

As a director of the Tenleytown Neighbors Association, one of Ward 3's most active neighborhood groups, I know directly whereof I write. I want to stress that I am writing solely in my personal capacity. We were involved in a serious, precedent setting zoning matter that galvanized our neighborhood — the 3901 Albemarle development issue. Of course, we turned to our Council representative for advice and help. It was in vain. All three At Large Council members we approached came to our aid. Phil Mendelson met with us; gave us advice; wrote a powerful, detailed, substantive letter, and personally appeared before the DC Zoning Commission. David Catania met with us, wrote the Commission and testified. Carol Schwartz received us, listened and wrote a good letter in support. Patterson finally and far too late, wrote a noncommittal letter suggesting a traffic study. Eventually, the DC Zoning Commission unanimously agreed with our position and the integrity of our neighborhood was saved. Sadly enough, in a recent radio show, WAMU FM's DC Political Hour, Kathy Patterson grossly misrepresented her conduct, cliaming she had given us vigorous support, something that is patently not true.

It is no wonder that I have an Erik Gaull sign in my front yard. Erik Gaull served as Director of Operational Improvements on the staff of City Administrator John Koskinen. According to Mayor Williams, he “has shown great insight into the city's problems and has demonstrated the leadership and ability to solve them creatively.” Having served as President of the Palisades Citizens Association, we know Erik Gaull understands neighborhood problems and concerns. We want and need a Ward 3 representative who is balanced and will work both for the city and for us, not one who seems to be busy positioning herself for some other office such as Council Chair or Mayor. Erik Gaull for Ward 3.


Vote for Kathy Patterson on September 10th
Marie Sennett, 

On Tuesday, September 10th, voters in the Ward 3 Democratic primary should reelect Councilmember Kathy Patterson, a skilled and dedicated legislator who has helped the DC Council become an equal and effective partner in city government. While challenger Erik Gaull was voting in New Mexico and claiming the homestead tax exemption in the District, Kathy Patterson was leading the city out of its severe financial crisis, before we even had a control board or a chief financial officer. She helped turn a $722 million deficit into five consecutive budget surpluses, and has been the Council’s strongest voice for fiscal responsibility.

Kathy has been an outstanding Chairperson of the Council’s Judiciary Committee. Her relentless oversight over the police department’s homicide investigations led Chief Ramsey to re-create a specialized unit dedicated to homicide cases. She secured pay increases for police officers, firefighters, and emergency communications workers, and kept the spotlight on the Fire Department’s lack of adequate reserve equipment and poor response times during the troubled reign of Chief Ronnie Few. Kathy is endorsed by DC police officers and DC firefighters, due to her leadership on public safety. Her record on education is equally strong. Kathy protected early childhood education and teachers’ aides from cutbacks during the financial crisis, and has increased the education budget during the city’s recovery. She spearheaded the legislation authorizing the renovation of Oyster School through a public-private partnership, and she kept Hearst Elementary and other successful schools open when the Control Board tried to close them.

Erik Gaull says he wants to work on public safety, and that he wants to work on public education. Kathy Patterson has worked on public safety, public education, the city’s finances, and government reform, with excellent results. She’s the clear choice on September 10th.


Erik Gaull: Raising the Standard for Representation in Ward 3
Mary Rowse, 

It is extraordinary that the only DC races discussed exclusively in separate, lead editorial endorsements in The Washington Post have been the Ward 3 race and the Mayor's — in that order. The other six DC races involving fourteen other candidates (excluding shadow seats) have been dispensed with in two “group” editorials that each appeared at the bottom of editorial pages on August 30 and 31. It does seem unusual that the first editorial endorsement to appear on any DC race was the August 24th Ward 3 one. This is even before the Mayor's race! Was it a mere coincidence that this editorial followed on the heels of a lengthy, unprecedented Metro section article on the Ward 3 race indicating that Erik Gaull was proving to be a “tough challenge” for Kathy Patterson? No other race in the city other than the Mayor's has merited such lengthy attention in the Metro section. All others have been discussed in the District Weekly.

The Post's editorial was unusual in it's fury; slamming Erik Gaull for being a newcomer to DC politics, but never once mentioning his eminent qualifications for the Council seat, or any of the issues in Ward 3 that have many people so unhappy with the incumbent and ready to vote for a change on Tuesday. Why such special attention to the Ward 3 race on the part of The Post editorial board?

It's been a long time since Ward 3 residents have had an advocate for their concerns on the council. Our representative doesn't attend community or Advisory Neighborhood Commission meetings and doesn't consider it a priority to address the myriad issues that have confronted every neighborhood in the ward. As a result, other council members are forced to pick up her slack, such as Ward 4's Adrian Fenty, who obtained $50,000 in citywide funding for the vacant Avalon Theater. Because of this critical void in leadership, citizen activist groups have had to form in nearly every neighborhood in the ward to work on solving problems of unreasonable development and zoning; traffic; crime; soil contamination; outdated fire fighting facilities; inadequate ambulance service; vacant storefronts; poorly equipped and managed schools, libraries and recreation centers; and even the unnecessary, illegal splitting of a cohesive neighborhood, in disregard of natural geographic boundaries during redistricting. We're ready in Ward 3 to elect a representative who will listen to us and work for us, and not just in an election season.


Negative Campaigning Two
Ed Johnson, 

While I can admire Mr. Ross' obvious enthusiasm for his US Senate campaign, there are many people like Senator Strauss who put in the long hours and the hard work to promote voting rights and Statehood for all DC citizens, and we're hardly out there for the glory of it all. We do it because we know its the right thing, and if writing letters and researching legislation isn't as glamorous as marching in the streets, well, it takes some of both to make it all happen.

I'm turned off by negative campaigning. I want to know what my candidates (and they are mine, not even Congress can take them away!) plan to do, not what they think is wrong with their opponent. I can tell that Mr. Ross cares deeply about our rights. But I have to ask, the first time he meets opposition -- and there is and will continue to be plenty of that -- will he point fingers and blame others, or just buckle-up and keep putting in the hard work to keep us on the road to Statehood?

Next year, and probably a few more after that, I'll be doing my part to support our Shadow Senators and Representative no matter who they are — whether it's making the posters or carrying them in a march. On September 10th though, I'll cast my vote for the candidate with too many street signs and not the one telling me about it. The first I can forgive, the second I'd just as soon do without.


An Open Letter From Pete Ross
Pete Ross, 

This has been one of the more dynamic forums for Senatorial communication. I appreciate the attention that themail has given to our Senatorial race. The Senator from the District of Columbia is an important position because our voting rights are important. To gain our voting rights requires leadership and persistence. As I have shown during my campaign, I am dedicated, vocal, and up front about my successes and actions in the Senate. To gain voting rights, we must mobilize our own people as a united force through public knowledge and activities. The days of relying solely on back room and shadow politics are behind us. We must educate the American people that we do not have a vote in Congress and enlist their support toward our voting rights.

In my endorsement by the City Paper (the only non-incumbent to be endorsed), it was noted that: “If he comes close to pestering those in Congress the way he has LL [Loose Lips], all 100 US Senators will be fully briefed on the District's disenfranchisement. And they might finally take action on a voting rights bill just to shut him up.”" This is the type of dedication and hard work that will be visible to you. Please vote for me, Pete Ross, Democrat for US Senate.


One For Strauss
Winston Bull, BULWIN@AOL.COM 

I met Paul Strauss in 1997 and was quickly impressed with his love for this city. But his work was not done only in the halls of the Senate to which he has ludicrously limited access. His work for us all and for our need for voting rights and Congressional representation comes out of a sincere interest in-and connection with-the people who make this city what it is. I have watched him stay up all night listening to a constituent's issues, working to learn what that person's issues are and how he can help to make that person's life better. His work as the incumbent Shadow Senator takes him all over the city, to every ward and neighborhood.

His work in his law practice, dealing with housing and regulatory issues, has also brought him closer to his constituents. He has not been simply taking care of issues related solely to his own neighborhood: he has been dealing with citywide issues and has established a real foothold with the very members of congress who are in a position to help us gain what every other citizen in this country has: Congressional Representation.

Paul Strauss has held rallies, meetings and forums to raise awareness of our plight, has taken the message to visiting groups of out-of-state students, and has admonished President Bush for his lack of support of this worthy cause. He has not missed an opportunity to push this issue to the forefront wherever and whenever possible. DC Voting Rights is an issue that is admittedly swimming upstream against over two hundred years of constitutional mandate. But the passage of time does not automatically make a flawed notion right; I am glad to know that there is someone with experience, strength, and a proven track record of working to change our disenfranchised status, and I, for one, know which way I will be casting my vote in the September 10th Democratic Primaries. Paul Strauss has reinvigorated a strong and just fight: it is now up to the residents of this great city to send him back to complete the job that he has begun.


Pete Ross for US Senator
Lars Hydle, 

The race for US Senator is important to all of us, because our Senators and Representative are our only elected officials whose principal duty is to get voting rights for DC residents. The question of whether incumbent Senator Strauss has violated the Hatch Act by his use of interns for "unofficial business" has triggered an investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel. I have heard that one intern returned home to New Jersey in May when she found that she was being asked to gather signatures for Strauss's petition rather than to work on DC voting rights. I hope Strauss cooperates with the investigation, so that it can be quickly resolved!

Congratulations to Pete Ross for his endorsement by the City Paper, their only endorsement of a non-incumbent; and for scheduling meet-and-greets at his home for both Rev. Wilson and Mayor Williams, illustrating his ability to reach across geographic, racial, and ideological lines -- the only way to mobilize DC residents to get the voting rights in Congress that we deserve. For US Senator, remember two four-letter words — Pete Ross.


Make Your Vote Count
Mark Richards, Dupont East, 

Tuesday's weather is projected to be a partly sunny 86 degrees. That's not bad for a trip to the neighborhood civic space to see friends and neighbors, to stand in line, and to try out the new voting system. In the September primary in 2000, 13.5 percent of registered voters — 39,258 people — made an effort and narrowed the field for the November election.

In the last issue of themail, Gary Imhoff wrote, “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.” My view is that if voters are unsatisfied, they will try to change their elected officials even if they like them on a personal level. DC has changed the makeup of its Council significantly before and will do so again. But for now, my mood favors the incumbents. No protest votes this year. In my book, a favorable record is the main reason for reelecting an incumbent, even if people I like are challenging them. I also appreciate experience . . . DC can't afford too many learning curves. We need to be steady at the wheel at this uncertain time nationally. I have some issues with most candidates, but overall, I'm satisfied. For that reason, as a Ward Two Democrat, I will vote for Eleanor Holmes Norton for Delegate to the US House of Representatives, Paul Strauss for shadow Senator, Ray Browne for shadow Representative, Tony Williams for mayor, Linda Cropp for Chair of the Council, and Phil Mendelson for Council At-Large. I appreciate their work over the past years, and want them to continue. And I will continue to clamor for them to do more for DC democracy. Let's hope for a cool breeze to go with that partly cloudy 86 degree weather on Tuesday.


Going to the Polls?
Ralston Cox, Strivers' Section Historic District, Dupont Circle, 

Gee, here it is less than a week before the primary and I don't know where to go to vote. I was redistricted from Ward One to Ward Two and — silly me — I assumed that the DC Board of Elections and Ethics would be able to tell me where I'm supposed to go to vote. I visited the web site ( and find that they think I'm still in Ward One. And calling the office for an answer? Fuhgeddaboutit.

I wonder how many folks are going to be turned away at the polls because DCBOEE told 'em to go to the wrong place. Yet another example of my government not being able to do the simple, basic things right. Remember, folks, redistricting was completed months ago. Sigh.


How to Teach DC Kids About Voting and Other Stuff
Susan Ousley, 

Many schools are voting sites, so DC kids get one of their few opportunities to view democracy in action on voting days. Teachers use election days to show their students election booths, hold mock campaigns and elections, and learn more about the process. Creative principals display school activities and accomplishments — on these rare visits of non-parents — and find other ways to build community/school links.

What lesson will DC kids learn from the November Election 2002? They've been kicked out for the day.


Another Source for Neighborhood Listings
Lea Adams, 

The real estate industry is one source of neighborhood categories Mr. Gilmore didn't mention. The list of Major Area/Subarea Codes and Subdivision Boundaries used by DC area Realtors with access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) shows 47 in NW, 11 in SE, two in SW, and 19 in NE. It's interesting to note the significant cause and effect relationship between residential property sales and the labels given to our neighborhoods, often by people who have little or no real knowledge of the places or the people who make their homes in DC. As a relatively new agent (who, by the way, is a lifelong DC rez as well), I was curious to know if my pre-incarnation perception was right: that the market would eventually prevail. In the decades following the 1960s, Georgetown and Capitol Hill — both comfortably working class communities of neighbors when I was growing up — were submerged by waves of “what's in a name”: “Transitional” became “acceptable,” then “desirable,” then “great,” and finally “hot,” as they were submerged in gentrification, and speculator investment in the city's “renaissance.” Nothing changes but change.


Miracles at the DMV Inspection Station
Pete Ross, 

By now, many DC citizens know that I have been campaigning daily at the DMV Inspection Station on Half Street, SW. The lines have been horrendous. In the morning, the lines were always at least two hours. Mayor Williams visited the inspection station on Tuesday, September 4 at approximately 4:00 p.m. Miracles occurred by the time the inspection station opened on Wednesday morning. For the first time in a long time, the inspection station started inspecting cars promptly at 6:00 a.m. with all of the inspection lanes open, and several DMV personnel were in the street directing traffic. Wednesday morning was one of the few times that I observed management personnel on the street managing. The number of automobiles inspected in the first two hours after opening was considerably more than what they normally inspect during the first two hours of opening.

Miraculously, by 7:45 a.m., the line of vehicles on the Half Street in front of the inspection station had only four cars! This had never occurred before in the two months that I have been at the inspection station. I was very pleasantly surprised to observe the complete transformation that occurred at the inspection station after one mayoral visit.

Congratulations to Mayor Williams for his courage to meet voters at the DMV Inspection Station. I know that at least one disgruntled customer who had a lengthy wait expressed his frustration while the Mayor was there. I have previously suggested to several council members to campaign at the DMV Inspection Station, but all of them felt that it would be to risky to campaign there. PS: The downside is that I have to find a new location to campaign! I no longer have a captive audience waiting in line to have their vehicles inspected.


If It Walks Like a Duck, It May Be Photo Surveillance
William Haskett, 

I should begin by emphasizing that I am not talking about the so-called red-light use of cameras, but only about the common-or-garden use of cameras to enforce the District's artificially-low speed limit of 25 mph “unless otherwise posted.” The use of this speed means simply, of course, that most drivers in the District are most of the time technically in violation of the regulation on speed. There is a widespread misapprehension that this system, and its attached procedures of what is mistakenly called adjudication, is a part of the usual legal system. It is not, and every assumption elsewhere true of the law is rendered inapplicable in the actual administration of the system; including the presumption of innocence, the right to be heard by a judge or some other legal officer, the right to counsel, the standards of evidence to be applied, etc.

The only matters admitted to be relevant are the fact of the photograph itself, and two other possibilities which are also taken as matters of fact: that the car was stolen from you (and this fact had been reported to the police before the photograph was taken), or that you were not driving the car at the time, and the person was not authorized to drive it by you. Nothing else is admitted, and you cannot comment unless you deny one or other of these facts, or claim one of these exceptions. The administrative hearing is, despite appearances, not a trial: the person who conducts the hearing is not necessarily a lawyer or a judge, the right to be heard is tightly constrained to a denial of simple fact, in case of denial of the fact (not covered by the exceptions already described) the transcript of the procedure is made by the Hearing Officer, and is the only form of evidence transmitted to what is called the Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board. The party to all of this does not know what this last entity is, does not know who its members are, or by what rules of evidence they conduct themselves, has no right to be heard by the TAAB in any event, and pays $10.00 for the privilege of not being heard by it.

Beyond the Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board lies the first step where the law proper can be said to apply, in that the person charged has a right to be heard in an actual court. It is only there that we climb out of the morass of administrative procedure and into the light of day, where we know that we are charged with a violation of the law, and the normal procedures and assumptions of legal/civic action take over. All the rest is prolegomena — a Greek term meaning a form of words preceding an actual ceremony or ritual. Postscript: It should be noted that not everything about the TAAB is negative: if it does not respond to your appeal in two years, the ticket is reported to be dismissed.


Red Lights
James Treworgy, 

It's funny how most of themail is spent criticizing DC's various agencies, especially Public Works, for their incompetence. Yet when it comes to designing intersections and light timings, which is arguably one of the most complex tasks they face, the red-light camera advocates steadfastly refuse to consider the possibility that there could anything wrong other than scofflaw drivers. Let me try this one more time, and I promise I won't comment again in this round. I am not arguing that red light cameras are necessarily bad, or necessarily increase the overall incidence of accidents. I am arguing that there is significant evidence that they are implemented primarily with a goal of revenue generation, and not safety. To summarize:

1) There are numerous, documented instances that show a pattern of installation guided primarily by potential income and not potential to reduce accidents. (High red-light running intersections versus high accident intersections). 2) Some intersections are inherently more dangerous than others, e.g., result in higher number of red-light violations and/or accidents proportional to the amount of traffic. Why is this? Are we to believe that bad drivers and scofflaws only use certain intersections? We should be interested in analyzing an intersection to determine the causes of the problem, rather than simply slapping a camera on it. 3) Every counter I've seen to the analysis that actually highlights problems with these studies is simply dismissed. As Bill Adler writes in the last issue, “People bury their noses in studies and simply fail to use their eyes and common sense.” Well, I'll fundamentally disagree with that statement: you should not believe your eyes and ears. Anyone with high school science can tell you that. Scientific observation and analysis is all that matters. Why does someone telling you that increasing a yellow light timing at a certain intersection dramatically reduces red light runners make you cringe? Why is it impossible to believe that there's a scientifically calculable “right” timing for a yellow light — and maybe it's longer than they are presently set in some intersections?

My questions are: Why don't you care about what makes certain intersections unsafe compared to others? Why aren't you interested in finding out if there is actually something wrong with an intersection before you simply start enforcement that may reduce certain types of accidents while potentially increasing others? Doesn't the fact that rear-end collisions increase after red-light cameras are installed — even if less than the reduction in overall accidents — tell you that maybe, just maybe, there's something else wrong with the intersection other than the drivers? And if that's the case, isn't it possible that there's a better solution than just a red light camera?

[I'm calling a temporary halt on red-light postings. Please wait a while before reopening the discussion unless you can add some new information. — Gary Imhoff]


Groping for a Grip on Urban Profit and Loss
Len Sullivan, 

Some communities in DC raise more in revenues than they consume in services. Others, per force, take more than they give. Add it all up, and DC residents run up a net loss of over a billion a year. And it's up to DC's taxpaying businesses to bail them out. Without those businesses, how many upscale Ward 3 households would it take to pay Anacostia's bills, or how many Tenleytowns to make Shaw break even? Does it make any difference? Can we solve DC's financial structural imbalance by attracting more residents? NARPAC's very approximate answers can be found in the September update of its web site at Try a new approach to making DC better. Get positively involved.



Forty Plus Singles Dinner
Michael Karlan, 

The DC Society of Young Professionals is hosting a Forty Plus Profile Singles Dinner at Tuscana West on Friday night, September 13, at 7:30 p.m. As is typical with our singles dinners, this event is now sold out for women. However, we do have space for more men. Women can get on our wait list by E-mailing Like all of our prior dinners, this event is expected to sell out for men as well. As with all of our events, anybody is welcome at this dinner. The majority of attendees at this event, however, will be at least forty years old. At this dinner, each participant will be given a questionnaire in advance. Based on the answers to the questionnaire, we wills eat you at a table of five men and five women with similar interests. This event is $60. For more information on this new event, to purchase tickets, or to be added to our E-mail list to hear of all of our events, please visit, E-mail (and type “Add 40 Plus List” in the subject header), or call 686-6085.



House Sitting Opportunity Wanted
Rachel Hines, 

Professional female seeking long term house sitting opportunity in Washington, DC, area near Metro. Will take excellent care of your house, plants, and pets while you are gone. Please E-mail


Efficiency for Rent
Irina Livezeanu, 

Lovely efficiency in beautifully renovated townhouse (and possible office as well) available October 1. Located between Adams Morgan and Woodley Park, close to Metro. It can be rented equipped and semi-furnished or not; $1050/month. It can be rented for five months or longer. Call me at 588-8205 if you are interested.


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