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December 25, 2002

Merry Christmas

Dear Celebrants and Non-Celebrants:

I know that we went through this controversy last year, and I know that it is controversial to make a reference to any holiday except possibly for Arbor Day, but as I left a Pakistani restaurant this week, one of the workers wished me a Merry Christmas. If he didn't feel restricted to sentiments of “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays,” why should anyone else feel embarrassed to say “Merry Christmas?”

Gary Imhoff


Washington Teachers Union
Karin Schach-Navas,

This scandal involving the president of the WTU, whom I know personally because I've been a union member for twenty years, is absolutely horrible. Most of my colleagues from my current and former school who've been in the system (as we say in DCPS) for any time also know Barbara. The woman we knew had always been a tireless defender of the rights of DC teachers, available by phone or in person to advocate for us, answer our many questions, help us in a variety of ways. She regularly came out to local schools to speak to the membership about current negotiations, problems with supervisors, possible layoffs, and what were our contractual rights. She was well-dressed as any professional woman, like a lawyer, like an executive, because she represented us. No one that I knew ever questioned how she could afford her wardrobe because it didn't look exaggerated. The teachers I know are nauseated by this horrible betrayal and await the indictments. Meanwhile, we keep spending our own money on the extra books and supplies we want (actually need) for our classrooms, knowing we'll never be paid back. But then again our job isn't about money, though we look forward to the negotiated raise that now may never come. Some of us are naive to think that's it's still about believing in children's potential to succeed. Many of us could have gotten other more prestigious jobs. To hear that our leader stabbed us in the back with trips to Neiman-Marcus and a private dressmaker hurt. Sorry. We're still at the grief stage about this.

[The FBI affidavit that was filed to get the search warrants for union leaders' homes is available at — Gary Imhoff]


You May or May Not Be Invited
Dorothy Brizill,

Legally, newly elected mayors of the District of Columbia are sworn in on January 2nd after the election. In preparation for the inaugural ceremony, Mayor Williams belatedly established an Inaugural Advisory Committee on December 10 to “encourage and seek financial support from the private sector” for his inauguration. Beverly Perry of PEPCO chairs the committee, and other members include former Greater Southeast Community Hospital executive Donna Rattley, Logan Circle developer Jim Abdo, and former Councilmember H.R. Crawford. (The mayor's order establishing the committee and the full list of members is available at Logistical planning for the day's events is being done by Chief of Staff Kelvin Robinson. However, with fewer than eight days remaining, the Mayor's office is having trouble finalizing the details.

At the Mayor's weekly press conference on December 18, a flyer was distributed indicating that the festivities would consist of a prayer breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, a swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building, and a People's Party Celebration at the National Building Museum. That afternoon, however, the Mayor's office sent an E-mail to the press saying that the flyer had been distributed “prematurely,” and that arrangements had not been confirmed for the prayer breakfast and the People's Party. Word has it that the Hyatt Regency and the National Building Museum were insisting on being paid to host the events, and that fundraising had been slow to get started. Moreover, many vendors are insisting on prepayment because of the late payment history for past Williams events, including prayer breakfasts. Concern was also expressed about holding a two-hour swearing-in ceremony outdoors on the steps of the Wilson Building in early January.

On Friday, December 20, senior staff in the Wilson Building learned that, despite the fact that thousands of engraved invitations to the swearing-in ceremony had been printed and readied for mailing, the location of the swearing-in had been changed to the Warner Theater. Meanwhile, no information has been released about where the prayer breakfast or the People's Party will be held, and it is still unclear whether tickets will be needed for any of the events, and how those tickets will be distributed.


Leaving Leaves
Mary Marchi,

I would like to know why we have been asked to rake our leaves by December 1st, but no one ever collected them. It's a shame to see the streets in the 20016 area.


Wizards Arena
David Hunter,

Ed Barron wrote about the empty seats in the MCI arena. The NBA only releases to the public number of seats sold. So the Wash Post only goes with the numbers they get. I have been hoping for the past few years the NBA would also release actual attendance figures, but then some might actually realize that fan support isn't all that great and they wouldn't be able to charge $45 for a seat in the last row of the end zone for a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers or Memphis Grizzlies and the Wizards.


Safety Spin
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

The safety "improvement" cited by John Cleave is a bad joke. So, a group of Washington executives rates police protection better than they did a year ago. That's nice, but how many of those executives have actually had any need of police protection in the last year? That would have been a good follow-up question. Meanwhile the actual crime rate is up. But we're supposed to be happy that a group of people who probably haven't interacted with police at all think they're doing better? Are we that stupid?

[On Monday, the Washington Post published a comprehensive assessment of Chief Ramsey's five years in office and of the crime situation in DC by Craig Timberg and David Farenthold, adequately summarized by its title, “Ramsey Era Brings Little Improvement,” Actually, Chief Ramsey is doing the job for which he was hired five years ago by the Memorandum of Understanding partners, led by the Control Board. The assessment of the MOU group was that DC's police problem was not primarily crime, which they felt was on a natural downward swing for demographic reasons, but public relations. They looked for a police chief who could make citizens feel better about the police department and feel safer, even if they weren't actually safer. Chief Ramsey is an expert in public relations; he has a television show, a radio show, a spiffy web site, and a regular column, and he gives a good speech. He'll be secure in office until the city leaders' priorities change from public relations to performance. — Gary Imhoff]


Crime Across the City
Clyde E. Howard, Jr.,

I agree that the new stadium being proposed for baseball will benefit the rich and drain the not-so-rich of money that could have been used to improve the school system and other important areas of the city. This stadium is just like the new city convention center that is nearing completion. Only the rich can benefit from it, and the ones that are most affected by it suffer.

I am also in agreement about neighborhood crime. It seems that it is all right for the non-VIPs to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but it the movers and shakers must enjoy the peace and tranquillity of safe areas. Enforcement is just a word if it is not done equally across all sectors of the city. All people have the right to enjoy peace and tranquility in their neighborhoods. One of these days we might all wake up and smell the roses, because crime is not held in check by neighborhood boundaries.


Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

At this time of year, the winter season, many folks from this area head south on Caribbean cruises. There's been several outbreaks of the Norwalk virus affecting hundreds of passengers on several cruise lines. My theory about what is spreading this virus is very uncomplicated. I believe that the virus germs are being spread from hand to hand via the utensils handled by diners serving themselves in the buffet lines. The cruise lines should find out just where those getting the viruses have been eating. I contend that those who avoid the buffet lines and eat only in the dining rooms will be much less likely to be victims of this virus.



New Years Eve Gala, December 31
Michael Karlan,

The DC Society of Young Professionals is hosting a new Year's Eve Gala at the Ritz-Carlton. This event features seven international themed party areas: New York, New Orleans, Jamaica, Monte Carlo, Havana, Tokyo, and Vienna. It also features a top shelf open bar, champagne toast, elaborate food stations, party favors, white glove service, and much more. For more details or to purchase tickets, please visit, E-mail, or call 686-6085.


Sandra Thurman at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, January 14, 2003
Pat Bitondo,

Sandra Thurman will speak at the Woman's National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, on January 14, 2003, at 12:30 p.m. Ms. Thurman is President of the International AIDS Trust and was formerly the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy in the Clinton administration. (Mr. Clinton and Mr. Nelson Mandela are Co-Chairs of the IAT Advisory Board). Ms. Thurman will present an overview of the pandemic and reveal plans to bring about leadership and resources to effectively battle this disease. How will the US leverage support from international agencies to educate and develop programmatic approaches to the problem? She will examine the global security impact of HIV/AIDS on nations and the imperative of shaping and adequate US response.

Proceeds from this luncheon are tax-deductible and will be used to help fund the WNDC activities at Nevell Thomas School. For reservations, call 986-2791 and ask for Patricia Fitzgerald.


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