Don’t Play Ball
Dear Ball Players:
Ed Barron and Dorothy both write about baseball, below. The
maneuvering over the baseball stadium is a perfect example of how deals
are done by the city's government. The public's business is being done
in secret, against laws that require it to be done in public. There is
only the flimsiest pretense of obtaining public input, and not even a
pretense that public input will affect the decisions that are made.
Everyone understands that John Richardson, the chairman of the DC Sports
Commission, is a key member of the mayor's kitchen cabinet and a
prominent campaign fundraiser for the mayor. Everyone knows that DC
taxpayers will be milked to build a baseball stadium to enrich a few of
the mayor's political allies, and that the “public-private
partnership” will consist of the public's paying the bills and the
private owners' taking the profits. And there is no outcry; no one is
outraged, no one blinks an eye at the conflicts of interest, and we
stand eagerly ready to pay the bills when they come rolling over us.
Just before the primary election, Mayor Williams and Councilmembers
Graham and Brazil held a press conference at a long-empty
government-owned lot in Columbia Heights and announced that a deal had
been made to build a Target store there. The press dutifully reported
the announcement and ignored the cynics who doubted the deal. In the
last issue of The Common Denominator, Kathy Sinzinger reported that she
had checked with officials of Target, who said that they had never had
an agreement to build a store in Columbia Heights. When a poster
suggested on the Columbia Heights E-mail list that the politicians'
press conference may have been misleading, other posters were highly
insulted and aggrieved at the impoliteness of the suggestion. Abraham
Lincoln's famous quote begins, “You can fool some of the people all of
the time.” In DC, we may as well end the quote there; that's good
enough for us.
Same Game, New Names
Jonetta Rose Barras, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced the Administrative
Services Modernization Program (ASMP), which is expected to bring
technology improvements to major sectors of the government including
contracting and procurement. But what ails many of these areas has
little to do with software or hardware. Consider the Office of
Contracting and Procurement (OCP), which, under its current director,
Jacques Abadie, remains a riddled bureaucracy . The most recent example
of OCP incompetence involves Jair Lynch Companies (JLC)-Alpha Joint
Venture, which has received numerous contracts from various city
agencies and departments. By far the sweetest deals have been with the
Department of Parks and Recreation during the tenure of Director Neil
Albert. For example, between October 9, 2001, and May 22, 2002, the
venture received more than $18.5 million from the DPR alone. Jair Lynch
Consulting, LLC — a separate entity principally owned by Lynch —
received another $724,000 in contracts.
None of the DPR contracts with JLC-Alpha Joint venture was put out
for bid. Five of the contracts were for over $1 million, but none was
submitted to the DC Council for its approval, as required by law. The
contracting with JLC-Alpha Joint Venture was permitted although OCP and
other District officials knew Lynch was not actually performing the
work, but subcontracting it. This was allowed to occur although the OCP
had on staff contracting specialists and the DPR had on its staff
several persons assigned to capital improvement projects, including a
director paid as much as $60,000 per year. (This same director recently
retired but was rehired within weeks as a consultant, performing the
same job he had while on staff but making more money.) What's more, it
appears that Lynch received these contracts at the same time he was a
member of the WISH List Committee, an advisory group to the DPR,
presenting what appears to be a conflict of interest. OCP and senior
Williams administration officials say they did not know about Lynch’s
service on the Wish List. But surely DPR's Albert did.
Administration officials for several weeks claimed everything was
nice and legal in its dealings with JLC-Alpha Joint Venture and that it
had not violated or circumvented any of the city’s contracting and
procurement laws. Except that the $18.5 million paid in so-called
purchase orders to the company was against a contract whose total could
not exceed $1.7 million. Who is Jair Lynch? How did he come to nearly
corner the market on DPR contracting? And what did DPR or OCP do about
it? For the full story, read The Barras Report at http://www.jrbarras.com.
Last Thursday, the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission held its
regularly scheduled monthly meeting. When I arrived, the Commission was
discussing a $120,000 sole source contract that it had awarded and about
which some commission members obviously had serious concerns. But when I
arrived, the Commission's chairman, John Richardson, called for an
executive session and asked all non-Commissioners to leave the room.
When the Commission's public meeting resumed after more than an hour had
passed, Richardson indicated that “personnel and confidential
matters” were discussed during the executive session, but then stated
that the Commission had actually considered its budget for FY 2004 as
well as a revised budget for FY 2003. Over the past year, Debby Hanrahan
and I have been the only citizens who have attended the Commission's
meetings. Increasingly, the Commission has gone into executive session
to hide the Commission's business from the public. It has gone into
secret sessions to discuss noncompetitive sole-source contracts,
engaging private legal counsel, problems associated with the Grand Prix
auto race, and so on. DC law requires the Commission to hold open
meetings except when discussing personnel matters and pending
litigation, but the Commission flouts that law regularly.
At Thursday's meeting, the Commission's Executive Director, Bobby
Goldwater, indicated that the consultants had completed the report for
the “Washington, DC, Major League Baseball Park Site Evaluation
Project.” The report was paid for by the Sports Commission, the DC
government, and the Washington Baseball Club. It had been sent to the
Commissioner of Baseball on Tuesday, but, despite my request for a copy
of the report, Goldwater indicated that it would not be available until
the following week because it still had to be copied. But a copy of the
report had already been given to Craig Timberg, a reporter with the
Washington Post, who began calling District citizens that afternoon to
solicit comments on a report that they hadn't seen and couldn't secure.
That afternoon, Winston Lord, the staff director of the Washington
Baseball Club, acknowledged that the report was not yet available to the
public, but said that it couldn't be widely distributed because copies
of the 70-page report cost $600 each. He said that the WBC intended to
post the report on its web site in the future. After a strenuous
protest, I received a photocopy of the report on Friday. It is posted at
As a final insult, the WBC now does make the report available by E-mail,
but in a version that almost no one will be able to receive — the
WBC's version of the report is over 13 meg. in size, and almost all
Internet service providers cap the storage space for all E-mails at 10
meg. or less.
Only $500 Million
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
That's the estimated cost to build a new major league baseball
stadium in DC. I'd sure like to see the cost/benefit analysis on that
number that would justify building it in DC. It is certain that no Abe
Pollin will step up and build that megabuck structure, which means that
the taxpayers of DC would be asked to finance a major portion of it.
We'd never see a penny of that money returned to the taxpayers.
Maybe the answer is more “camera enforcement.” The take from the
existing cameras on DC roads is $63,000 per day, according to Car and
Driver Magazine. That's from only 39 stationary cameras and five
relocatable radar enforcement teams. By the start of this past summer
more than $25M had been collected since the start of the program in the
summer of '99.
Just try to appeal one of these “guilty until proven innocent”
tickets. If you can prove you were not the driver of the offending car,
you still pay up unless you rat out the actual driver. Should you want
to appeal, you pay $10 for the right to appeal and $10 for each page of
any hearing transcript. Both these fees are nonrefundable. Just as a
comparison, Fairfax County reduced red light running by more than 90
percent at the corner of Route 50 and Fair Ridge Drive by lengthening
the yellow light from 4 seconds to 5.5 seconds. But the down side to our
Northern VA friends is that they only write one ticket per day at that
Recently retired DC Clean City Coordinator Vincent Spaulding has been
elected as ANC7B04 Commissioner. Congratulations to Vince for his
continued service to our city. And a special congratulation to his
ANC7B04 electors, who turned out and voted in greater numbers than any
other ANC single member district. Now if we can just get them to expand
their sense of civic responsibility throughout our city.
Searching DC Government Web Sites
The Greater Washington DC Metro Webspace Search Engine is still up
and running. Roughly weekly, we crawl all known District Government web
sites, and also quite a few of the political, review, and commentary
sites which are all about the Greater Washington DC Metro Area. Please
find us at http://media.earthops.net/Harvest/brokers/Washington_Metro/
— it's not hard to use, and it will often find things that not even
the District Government's servers and search engines can find.
AU Vandals Strike Again Twice
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
Twice this week American University vandals have struck. In the last
episode they took three mailboxes from in front of three homes on
Massachusetts Avenue, just south of 48th Street, NW. They have not yet
been located. This is the third incident of vandalism since the new term
began at AU in September. Theft of US Postal Service mailboxes is a
federal felony crime that has been reported to the DC police, AU
security (they don't seem to care), and to the President's office at AU.
David Sobelsohn, dsobelso-at-capaccess-dot-org
In last Wednesday's issue of themail, John Cleave asked about a DC/MD
boundary marker at Wisconsin and Western Avenues, NW. Tellingly, he
thinks the marker went up before 1928, perhaps much earlier. My sense is
that, unlike most states, DC has few markers, even on major roads, to
indicate that a motorist is entering the District (let alone signs
saying “Welcome to Washington”). A striking example is where US-50
crosses the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, US-50 becoming New York Avenue
and the BWP becoming Kenilworth Avenue. The sign for New York Ave. says
“To Washington.” The sign for Kenilworth Ave. says “To Richmond”
— even though a driver taking either route will enter DC at pretty
much the same time, and even though a driver taking the Kenilworth Ave.
route will go clear across both SE and SW DC before getting to Virginia
(let alone Richmond). Neither route actually has a sign indicating that
the car has entered DC. I had to study a map before realizing that
taking Kenilworth Ave. would also get me into DC. So my questions to
themail subscribers are: where else, besides Wisconsin and Western
Avenues, NW, are there actual boundary markers at the DC/MD border; are
any of recent vintage; and are any visible to motorists?
Another, perhaps more troubling question: why does the sign on a road
going into SE and SW DC say “To Richmond” but not “To
Street Cleaning Schedule
Lyn Stoesen, Park View, firstname.lastname@example.org
The DPW Web site notes that street cleaning is suspended during
January, February, and the first half of March so that the water the
machines spray out doesn't freeze. The actual dates of suspended
service, however, seem to vary slightly from year to year. It usually
begins the first week of January and goes through the second week of
March, but an official notice of these dates will probably be released
in early January. In my recollection, the Post usually publishes
a notice in their “Metro In Brief” section.
Here is DPW official announcement on street sweeping — it is much
later this year than unusual. “The DC Department of Public Works
announces that weekly mechanical street cleaning operations will be
suspended from January 6 to March 17, 2003. During this time, “No
Parking/Street Cleaning” restrictions will also be lifted. Residents
and visitors who park along posted, alternate-side street sweeping
routes will not be required to move their cars on street-sweeping days
during the sweeper hiatus. Further, no citations will be issued for the
specific infraction of parking in a street-cleaning zone for those 10
weeks. Other parking restrictions, however, remain in effect and will be
enforced, including those for rush hour, overtime parking in a
residential zone, parking too close to a fire hydrant or bus stop, and
expired inspection or registration stickers.
“Street cleaning stops temporarily every year during January,
February and the first half of March, traditionally the coldest months
of the year. DPW officials explain that the large street-sweeping
machinery spreads a thin layer of water under its rotating brushes
throughout the cleaning operation. During subfreezing weather, the
water-cleaning method becomes impractical; creating hazardous driving
conditions, and may impede snow removal efforts.
“The city will take advantage of any comparatively warm days during
the winter to catch up on street cleaning. The sweepers will operate on
an unscheduled basis without parking restrictions when weather
Fun with Nigerian Scam E-Mails
Phil Greene, email@example.com
Thanks [to Dan Parker] for submitting that Nigerian scam piece.
Hilarious. I think I'll have some similar fun with the next one. I don't
know how many times I've gotten one of these scam letters sent to me,
either directly or from a client who wants me to do something about it.
Actually, there is something you can do: fax the E-mail to the US Secret
Service at 406-5031. What's really funny about this back and forth
correspondence is that that's the fax number that Savannah gives to the
Klingle Road was a short cut from far Northwest to near Northwest as
was the T Street, NE, bridge that carried traffic from near Northeast to
far Northeast. Klingle Road is a relief valve to the other arterials
that are heavily used in a west to east direction and vice versa. The
pro-closure advocates must not be fully aware of the vital significance
of having alternative east-west and west-east arteries that can
facilitate emergency vehicles in avoiding congested routes. True,
traffic today is much worst then it has ever been, but we must be able
to provide as many open routes necessary to expedite the traffic out of
the city, especially now that we have the terrorists to contend with. I
know that some of you remember the heavy snows of the past and how the
streets were clogged with cars with many drivers not knowing alternative
routes to go home. Klingle Road, once opened, can fulfill the plans of
an alternative route to destinations and will relieve congestion on
other roads. Of course, public transportation is underutilized, but
until public transportation is built that will service major population
centers we will have to contend with the traffic that is generated
because of the void in public transportation.
Neither Dan Tangherlini nor Jack McKay is a traffic engineer. Mr.
Mehra of MCV Associates is a well known and highly respected
transportation engineer and planner in this city. Hmmm, do we need to
guess whom I am going to believe?
Note to Klingle Road People
Jon Desenberg, JonDes@hotmail.com
Note to pro-Klingle Road people: now may be the time to think about
changing strategies. In the last few month's you've 1) heckled and
trashed Phil Mendelson and Mayor Williams, who then went on to
completely trounce their competition. 2) Claimed the Sierra Club
supported you until they had to ask you to cease and dissent. 3) Had the
Adams Morgan ANC renounce their support for you. 4) Continued to resist
calls for compromise even as the road stayed closed. 5) Clogged this
mailing list and others with endless whining. Just a suggestion, but you
might start thinking about new leadership, new strategies, or both.
By every measure provided in the Berger Study, repairing Klingle Road
will improve traffic overall on the roads studied around Klingle Road.
The MCV analysis provides the cost-benefit analysis that is
conspicuously absent from the Berger study, and concludes that repairing
Klingle Road is economically desirable. As Mr. McKay himself admits, the
Berger study found that without Klingle Road, the Porter and Connecticut
intersection is forced to operate well above its designed capacity. This
information was not “ignored” by the Berger group, however, as Mr.
McKay asserts. Indeed, the study found that additional Porter Street
approaches are needed to handle the traffic being diverted from Klingle
Reading further into Mr. Tangherlini’s letter, to which Mr. McKay
refers, we find DDOT admitting that without Klingle Road, the wait time
at the Porter and Connecticut intersection increases by 50 percent. This
impacts far more than just the thousands of people who would use Klingle
Road every day. Tens of thousands travel through the Porter and
Connecticut intersection daily, which struggles to absorb extra traffic
that otherwise would travel effortlessly underneath Connecticut Avenue’s
Regarding Mr. McKay’s derision of the MCV analysis, Joe Mehra is a
well-respected transportation engineer with decades of experience. Mr.
McKay does not claim to be a traffic engineer and should be circumspect
about publicly disparaging Mr. Mehra's integrity.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Pastimes in Washington Lecture, November 20
Jerry A. McCoy, firstname.lastname@example.org
A lecture on “Pastimes in Washington: Leisure Activities in the
Capital Area 1800-1995” will be held in the program room of the
Washingtoniana Division, Room #307, Martin Luther King. Jr.. Memorial
Library. The lecture is scheduled on Wednesday, November 20, from
Author Robert Harrigan discusses in his new book the entertainments,
amusements, and diversions that were a part of the dynamic cultural
history of early American society beginning with the foundations of the
nation's capital. Long before the rise of theme parks, residents of the
Washington area were choosing among a wide array of recreational
activities. From its earliest history, Washington was a Mecca for
tourists not only from Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, but also from
London, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, and Mexico City. The visitors came to see
the wonders of the great nation that epitomized freedom and democracy.
Ward Five Community Development Forum, November 22
Dorinda White, email@example.com
Premier Community Development Corporation, Inc., presents a Ward Five
community development forum with guest speaker Hattie Dorsey, President
and Chief Executive Officer, Atlanta Neighborhood Development
Corporation, Inc. Ms. Dorsey will speak about how Ward Five can create a
vision and make it a better community. Friday, November 22, 7:00 p.m.,
at St. Francis Hall at the Franciscan Monastery, 1340 Quincy Street, NE,
corner of 14th and Quincy Streets, NE. Light reception to follow. RSVP
at 529-1947 or E-mail your RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS — FOR SALE
Chaise longue, upholstered in taupe and ivory fabric, 6'4" long
x 2 1/2' wide. Purchased six years ago -- still in very good condition.
Original price, $1,500. Asking price: $300/or best offer. Color photo on
bulletin board in Fresh Fields/Tenleytown. Call 364-4374 for in-home
CLASSIFIEDS — SERVICES
The woman who cleans my home is looking for additional clients. She
is reliable, trustworthy, and thorough. Please contact me at Itell@comcast.net
if you would like her contact information.
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING
Furnished apartment available for rent in Adams Morgan. Available
starting January 1, 2003, through May 1, 2003. Large efficiency (575
square feet). Great location. Sunny with all the amenities. Rent $900
per month. Must be one person, no pets, no smoking. Need up-to-date
references with telephone numbers. Prefer someone who is tidy and
considerate. For more information, please E-mail email@example.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — VOLUNTEERS
College Bound prepares DC area public school students for college. We
are currently seeking volunteer tutors/mentors with four-year degrees.
For more info: 842-4014, firstname.lastname@example.org,
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