Dear Civic-Minded Citizens:
As always, this city is most pleasurable when we forget and neglect our civic duties. Dorothy and I had a very nice dim sum lunch downtown, watched the parade that was part of the National Fallen Firefighters memorial service, caught the last day of the Winterthur exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, and went through the new sculpture gallery rooms, which are spectacular. There really are advantages to living in Washington, if we take time to take advantage of them.
Now, back to the grindstone.
Reader Shaughness is pleased that the Director of the Department of Transportation, Dan Tangherlini, is willing to ignore traffic engineering "warrants" and install stop signs: "When the issue got to Dan, he just put the signs up" (themail, September 29). But traffic engineers know that stop signs are ineffectual for traffic calming, and those Federal Highway Administration warrants are based on practical experience. This note from the Transportation Division of the city of Tempe, Arizona, accurately describes our own experience with stop signs here:
“A school crossing may look dangerous for children to use, causing parents to demand a stop sign to halt traffic. Now a vehicle which had been a problem for three seconds while approaching and passing the intersection becomes a problem for a much longer period. A situation of indecision is created as to when to cross as a pedestrian or when to start as a motorist. Normal gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely no longer exist. An intersection which previously was not busy now looks like a major intersection. It really isn't -- is just looks like it. It doesn't even look safer and it usually isn't. Most drivers are reasonable and prudent with no intention of maliciously violating traffic regulations. When an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security in a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt in a motorist. These two attitudes can and often do conflict with tragic
results.” — http://www.tempe.gov/traffic/q&a.htm#stop.
Like Mr. Shaughness, I thought the stop sign put here at public request two years ago was a great idea. In practice, it has done pedestrians little good, it has only increased the hazard to law-abiding bicyclists, and it inflicts enormous noise and air pollution on the nearby residences. Stop signs are springing up everywhere in the District, because the DDOT has decided to placate politicians and citizens with the stop signs they want, even when contrary to traffic engineering standards. Think of this the next time you find yourself driving through the District, compelled to stop at every block.
At-Large Election in themail
Michael Bindner, mbindnerdc at aol
The Post editorial is interesting for its lack of mention of the only DC Statehood Green Party candidate who actually has a chance in the election,
Michelle Tingling-Clemmons. Its endorsement of Beverly Wilbourn four years ago was the single biggest factor in removing Hilda Mason from the Council, to the benefit of David Catania. It must believe that by ignoring her candidacy, she will go away. Of course, how she actually does has as much to do with her efforts as the Post endorsement, as well as the support garnered by Eugene DeWitt Kinlow. As a Democrat, Phil Mendelson is almost an automatic winner, so if the Post endorses Catania and Kinlow, the sole purpose of doing so would be to keep Catania on the Council (since Kinlow will not beat Mendelson head to head). If the Post endorses Mendelson, what results is an honest three way race for the second seat. If the DC Statehood Green candidate runs a good campaign, including a mailing to all likely voters and the same level of support from labor that Mason received four years ago, she has a very good chance of knocking Catania off the Council, provided Kinlow does not split the African American vote. Of course, if Tingling-Clemmons ignores the need to send direct mail, Kinlow may just succeed in knocking Catania out.
Over the past two weeks, several important reports have been released on a variety of issues, ranging from poverty in DC to the construction of a new baseball stadium. 1) The Council of Latino Agencies has published
“The State of Latinos in the District of Columbia: Trends, Consequences and
2) DC Agenda has published a report on poverty in DC by Mark Rubin, its Director of Research, based on 2000 Census data:
3) The DC Auditor has concluded an audit that details the financial consequences of DC Public Schools' poor management of payments for its special education program:
4) The DC Office of the Inspector General has released a report on the DC Jail and the Department of Corrections' poor record keeping, especially on its inability to release on time prisoners who have completed their sentences. The report isn't yet posted, but when it is posted it will be available at
5) A major component of the District's effort to attract a baseball team will be the construction of a new baseball stadium. Information on the District's Major League Baseball Park Site Evaluation Project is available at four web sites: the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission,
http://www.dcsec.com; the Office of Planning,
http://www.planning.dc.gov; the Washington Baseball Club,
http://www.baseballindc.com; and at Justice and Sustainability Associates
Political Animal Mimicry
Mark Eckenwiler, eck at ingot dot org
The newly installed posters for Eugene Dewitt Kinlow are remarkably similar in design to the Catania posters (three DC-flag-inspired stars as the sole graphic element; simple white typography on a dark background and enclosed by a simple line frame). Does anyone else find this, well, odd?
No DC Lottery Purchase Necessary
Okonkwo Auten, email@example.com
Too often, past political indiscretions refuse to die. In the new millennium, New Columbia’s special interests gain millions. Voting citizens and every resident taxpayer got robbed. From Congresswoman Norton's office throughout Mayor Williams’s secretive administrations and DC's Council Chambers, evidence shows that financial mismanagement and cronyism continue to benefit political interests, not citizens, voting and nonvoting. Most pernicious to date is our three hundred million dollar instant deficit! Post primary results prove that incumbent politicians benefited in the electoral result through nondisclosure, concealment, and financial gerrymandering of public dollars. The Congressional Budget and Appropriations Committee held a related budget discussion, enforcing the Congressional Committee's authority and requiring Municipal accountability. But the Mayor, DC Council, and Chief Financial Officer disclosed our multimillion dollar deficit post primary!
In the primary incumbents gained a one hundred percent victory by concealing financial mismanagement. All incumbents falsely appeared
“accountable,” while knowing that disclosing a three-hundred-million-dollar-plus deficit would subject them to exposure. They kept public documents secret before and during the primary. Congresswoman Norton, Mayor Williams, and the City Councilmembers up for reelection withheld disclosure until after the primary and balloting were official closed. Two years ago, Mayor Williams and Delegate Norton touted to Congress DC's ability to manage itself, tying in
“accountability,” “look, no deficit,” and “Statehood.” Unfortunately, we pay tax every day to pay for everything, including the Mayor's recent vacation. We now pay a higher price, and the taxpayers owe another $323,000,000.
Where did the Housing Trust Fund money go? How was the Mortgage Lending Act made toothless? Where has the tobacco settlement money gone? How come DCTV refused to telecast the Mayor’s DCBOEE trial? How did the Board of Education over spend millions of dollars, and children get less, Arthur Andersen advisers? I believe supporting illegal political activities affect credibility. We still have the right to dissent from improper behavior and criminal acts, even if the perpetrators are elected politicians, they are not above the law. Will other secrets yet undisclosed be
“discovered” after the general election too? What do you think?
The Eiffel Tower
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Barron asked about the “Eiffel Tower” on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenley. On June 14, 2001, US District Court Judge Paul Friedman dismissed with prejudice (i.e., can't file again) American Tower's federal claims under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and dismissed the nonfederal claims without prejudice to their being refiled in a more appropriate forum (before DC courts or agencies). American Tower has appealed this decision to the DC Circuit and the oral argument on American Tower's appeal is set for Friday, Oct. 18, at 9:30 in courtroom 20 of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
On another front, the DC Zoning Commission has been looking at the District zoning regulations regarding antennas and antenna towers, including broadcast towers such as the American Tower in Tenley. On September 9, they approved a technical amendment to the Zoning Regulations that corrected a miscodification of their 1989 antenna order and made it clear that antenna towers are only allowed as a special exception in Commercial districts (such as the American Tower site in Tenley which is zoned C-2-B). Under the special exception process, notice must be given to the community and a public hearing held to determine if the application meets the regulatory requirements for granting such an exception
— which did not happen in this case.
The Zoning Commission is also considering revising the antenna (including towers) regulations and is holding a public hearing on October 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the Office of Zoning hearing room (suite 220, 1 Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW). This would be the first major revision of the antenna regulations since 1989. Everyone citywide interested in this issue should participate. In addition to the Tenley tower, both Wards 4 and 7 have had major antenna controversies recently. You must file your intention to testify in writing with the Secretary to the Zoning Commission, Office of Zoning, Suite 210, 441 4th St., NW, 20001). The notice and proposed amendments developed by the Office of Planning were published in the August 9 DC Register at pages 7702-7722.
All candidates who lost in the September 10 primary should have their political posters removed by October 10. The fine for each remaining poster is $35.00 per poster. All candidates signed a statement promising to remove posters within thirty days of the primary if they lost. I have attempted to remove all of my posters (Pete Ross - Democrat - US Senate). If I have missed any posters, please E-mail me at
email@example.com or call me (246-0000) with any sightings of remaining posters. I will immediately remove any posters.
It should be an obligation for all of us former candidates to make sure that our posters are removed to help make this a cleaner city. If you see any remaining posters after October 10 from candidates who lost in the primary, E-mail David Dyer,
firstname.lastname@example.org, and Vincent Spaulding,
email@example.com (who is the Clean City Coordinator) listing streets and names of candidates where there are violations of the campaign poster law. Washington, DC, can partially solve the $325,000,000 budget deficit if the city would issue tickets for all remaining posters from candidates who lost in the primary on September 10.
Residents Vote on Budget Priorities for Children and Youth
Susie Cambria, firstname.lastname@example.org
DC Action for Children, the District's only multi-issue children's advocacy organization, recently kicked off an election/budget season project,
“Cast Your Vote for Kids!” Ballots are being distributed to residents and employees via community-based service organizations, schools, houses of faith, advocacy organizations, and others. The purpose of the initiative is to engage residents in the budget process. Child- and youth-serving organizations that are participating on a large scale are using this as part of civics and empowerment efforts.
Once the ballots are collected, DC ACT will compile the results and share them with elected and appointed officials. Ballots are available on DC ACT's web site,
www.dckids.org, by selecting the
“vote for kids” button; they are also available by calling 234-9404. Businesses, neighborhood groups, schools, and families are being encouraged to vote by the project deadline of November 8.
Preventative Arrests in themail
Michael Bindner, mbindnerdc at aol
Our moderator asked our opinions on the preventative arrests of anti-capitalist protesters. Since I wasn't there, I am not sure what went down. Some who were report that arbitrary arrests took place, although most paid there fines, which ended the matter from a criminal law point of view (unless they can still request a hearing to challenge the arrests
— any lawyers out there know the answer?). There is one thing you can be sure of, however. If the arrests were arbitrary, there will be legal action, either through the tort process or through a complaint to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for violations of civil rights under the cover of law.
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net
Annie McCormick asks about donating cell phones to neighborhood watch groups. I hadn't heard of that, but you can take them to Radio Shack to donate to battered women's shelters. They give the phones to women to make 911 calls in case of an emergency (such as the return of the abusive spouse).
Economic redevelopment plans are still gaining momentum all over the city. Many involve adaptive reuse of older buildings judged to have immortal historic significance. The biggest new one coming into focus involves the unique 300-acre St. Elizabeth's Hospital site east of the Anacostia. In theory, if flat and unencumbered, that site should eventually be able to produce $200-300M annually in revenues. Care to guess how much of the site isn't useable, how much is reserved for use (tax-free) by the DC government, and how much must retain the image of its past? It will be lucky to generate $25M by focusing on its lunatic days. Can we expect soon to see classified notices right here in themail recommending we dine at the Cuckoo's Nest, high atop the Trauma Towers just off Phrenology Freeway, where the Therapists Trio plays nightly? How about taking in a performance by the Schizoid Players at the Cranium Theater along Lobotomy Lane where Mussolini's brain is attractively displayed? NARPAC's more serious analysis and commentary on the St. E's planning process can be found in the September update of its web site at
Try a new approach to making DC better. Get positively involved.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
At-Large Council Candidate Forum
Susie Cambria, email@example.com
Covenant House Washington is holding a youth led and focused candidate forum on Monday, October 7 from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, in Room A-5. All
— but especially young people — are encouraged to attend. Questions should be directed to 610-9600.
Renovators’ House Tour on Capitol Hill to Benefit Local School
Mark Eckenwiler, eck at ingot dot org
The Renovators' House Tour is a self-guided walking tour of Capitol Hill homes featuring creative design and renovation ideas. This year's tour is slated for Saturday October 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and includes an 1805 house recently renovated under the direction of award-winning architect Robert Gurney. Also on the tour is a loft space planned by local architect, Eric Jenkins, who won an Inform 2002 award for the project.
Tickets are available at Trover Books, Grubbs Pharmacy, and Randolph Cree Salon on Capitol Hill, or by calling 543-0805. All proceeds go to support Watkins Elementary, a DC Public School within the Capitol Hill Cluster.
CLASSIFIEDS — DONATIONS
Purchase from Barnes and Noble to Support the Library
Alexander Padro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Barnes & Noble Booksellers will donate 20 percent of qualifying purchases (all purchases except gift cards, Readers Advantage memberships, and cafe items) made from Tuesday, October 8th through Saturday, October 12th, to the DC Public Library Foundation. As a member of the DC Public Library Board of Trustees, I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to
“painlessly” support our public libraries and get some early holiday gift shopping done at the same time. In order to qualify, customers must present a voucher available at DC Public Library branches at the register. Barnes & Noble stores Downtown (555 12th Street, NW, Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., 347-0176) and in Georgetown (3040 M Street, NW, Open Sunday-Saturday 9 a.m.-11 p.m., 965-9880) are participating in this fundraising event to support the District's public library system.
CLASSIFIEDS — SERVICES
The AHJ Group, a Washington business development and government contracting consulting firm, is accepting new clients to apply for government contracting certification. We assist small, minority, and women owned business in applying for the District's LSDBE program and area SBE/WBE/MBE programs. For consultation call 271-5522 or E-mail
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to
switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the
subscription form at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/subscribe.htm.
To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to email@example.com
with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages
are available at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail.
All postings should also be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of
Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to
be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief
paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can
be put into each mailing.