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November 17, 2002

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.

Gary Imhoff


Same Game, New Names
Jonetta Rose Barras,

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


Bad Sports
Dorothy Brizill,

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,

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 intersection now.


Congratulations Vince
Phil Carney,

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 — 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.


Boundary Markers
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 Washington”?


Street Cleaning Schedule
Lyn Stoesen, Park View,

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.


Official Street Sweeping Announcement
Denise Wiktor,

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 conditions permit.”


Fun with Nigerian Scam E-Mails
Phil Greene,

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 would-be scammer!


Klingle Road
Clyde E. Howard, Jr.,

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.


Credible Credentials
Tonya Jackson,

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,

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.


The Klingle Studies
Laurie Collins,

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 Road.

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 Glover Bridge.

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.



Pastimes in Washington Lecture, November 20
Jerry A. McCoy,

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 noon-1:00 p.m.

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,

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



Chaise Longue
Lyla Winter,

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 appointment.



Cleaning Services
Jeffrey Itell,

The woman who cleans my home is looking for additional clients. She is reliable, trustworthy, and thorough. Please contact me at if you would like her contact information.



Adams Morgan Apartment
Virginia Johnson,

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



College Bound
Wendy Sittner,

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, info@collegebound.org


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