Opaque and Equivocal
Dear Straight Shooters:
If you were involved in a sticky situation, how would you respond if
you were asked whether you yourself did anything wrong? With your clear
conscience, you would immediately give a straight and direct denial of
any wrongdoing, wouldn't you? In last Wednesday's Mayoral press
conference, after Tom Sherwood of WRC-TV and Mark Plotkin of WTOP both
referred to Mayor Williams's administration and the slow dripping of
scandal revelations as Nixonian, Sherwood asked the Mayor the money
question: “You're confident that you didn't do anything wrong?”
Williams's answer, complete and unedited: “I, you know what, I got, I,
I wake up, look, I wake up and I walk around during the day, and I'll
come to a press conference like this, and, clearly, I'll say that, you
know, things could have been done differently, but I'll go to bed, I go
to bed at night, knowing that I didn't do anything wrong.”
John Aravosis, below, writes about one instance of police
misrepresentation at the Mayor's public townhall meeting on crime
yesterday, but there was another misrepresentation that has been more
frequently made by Chief Ramsey and Mayor Williams and, I think, is more
important: the use of crime statistics to argue that crime is down in
DC. As the stories on Aravosis' web site repeatedly demonstrate, some of
the most common complaints against MPD are that “of the police simply
refusing to respond to repeated 911 calls for help (e.g., Skynear
furniture store), of the repeated reports we have of officers refusing
to file crime reports and then dumbing down the crimes if the reports
are taken (writing up stolen items as 'lost' items), of officers telling
us confidentially that they are ordered to dumb down crime reports or
not take them at all, etc.” (http://www.safestreetsdc.com).
One way to bring down crime stats is to reduce the incidence of crime;
an easier way is simply to juggle the statistics by refusing to take
crime reports or by understating the crimes that are reported. Why is
the murder rate going up when other crime rates are falling? Murder is
one crime that has to be reported and can't be understated. City
officials argue that citizens' complaints about crime are exaggerated
because the statistics are constantly improving; citizens instinctually
know that they can't trust the statistics that city officials rely on.
John Fund reports in the Wall Street Journal that the Democrat
Party and its candidates, except for Al Sharpton, see the prospect of
having the first primary in the District as a potential disaster, and
will do what they can to prevent it. Fund asks, “Can Donna Brazile
Save the Democratic Party from Disaster?” (http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110002950),
and speculates that Democrats are relying on Donna to dissuade local
politicians from changing DC's primary date.
DC Police Intentionally Mislead Citizens at
Mayor’s Crime Summit
John Aravosis, john@SafeStreetsDC.com
According to today's Washington Times report on yesterday's crime
summit: “A real estate investor who attended the homicide workshop
told the group that he had recently moved and said he felt safer on the
streets of New York City, with its population of more than 7 million,
than he does in the District. He was politely told that the District is
not New York, which has 40,000 police officers.” (Denise Barnes,
“Residents Vent Crime Concerns,” http://www.washingtontimes.com/metro/20030126-83139240.htm).
Yes, but New York City has 8 million people (the correct population
figure), while DC has only 572,059 per the latest census. What matters
is not how many police each city has, but rather, how many police each
city has per capita, i.e., in proportion to its total population.
According to the latest data from the US Department of Justice's Bureau
of Justice Statistics (May 2002), DC has 25 percent more sworn police
personnel per capita than New York City, and, in fact, we have the
highest number of cops-per-resident of any city in the US. You can see
the data for yourself here, page 2: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pdlc00.pdf.
What's troubling about this incident is that it yet again shows the
DC police leadership trying to diminish a citizen's complaint by playing
games with the numbers -- in front of the Mayor and over a 1,000 people,
no less rather than simply accepting responsibility for the fact that DC
has growing problems with crime in our neighborhoods, and growing
problems with a police leadership that is increasingly out of touch with
the citizens it is supposed to protect. (If you can view the Justice
Department document — it's a PDF file — you can view the relevant
page here: http://www.safestreetsdc.com/graphics/percapitapage.jpg).
CareFirst Families Using Children’s
Melody R. Webb, firstname.lastname@example.org
DC inaction once again helps drive the aggrieved to the courts for
relief. As DC Insurance Commissioner Larry Mirel remains deaf to
concerns of thousands of Washington area CareFirst families using
Children's, the families are escalating their advocacy methods. The
January 31st deadline looms large, threatening to close the doors of
Children's to CareFirst families should the two parties fail to renew
their contract by the end of the month.
This week, some CareFirst families began to file complaints against
CareFirst BlueCross with the insurance commissioner of DC, alleging
deceptive marketing and improper rates. The insurance commissioner,
assuming he finds grounds to do so under the law, should investigate
these claims. CareFirst gave inadequate notice of the termination of
coverage for families using Children's. To file a complaint against
CareFirst or to get information about how to do so, you can visit
www.lobbyline.com. Second, CareFirst families have selected a top notch
insurance litigation firm to represent them in a suit against CareFirst.
For information about how to join a potential class of parents with
CareFirst insurance in a suit against CareFirst. Please visit
www.lobbyline.com or write email@example.com.
DC officials, please stand up and work to avert the launch of yet
another lawsuit flowing in part from government's unwillingness to get
involved. The ball is still in the court of DC officials. Ms. Ambrose,
under whose jurisdiction these matters fall, can hold hearings to
require CareFirst to testify as to whether the Children's dispute
evidences the influence of its for profit conversion and merger with
WellPoint, a California based company. Commissioner Mirel can also hold
hearings, taking a page from the book of Steve Larsen in Maryland.
Virginia's Tom Davis and Jim Moran are on record on this issue and are
actively working to help the families. So, that's Maryland and Virginia
and, once again, DC is left behind. Let's please catch up. You can still
E-mail your representatives on the Council to urge involvement at www.lobbyline.com.
Recently, at an event for the elderly, numerous people told me how
difficult the Metro is for them. Their fears center on people running
down escalators, the fact that escalators are so frequently out of order
and the lack of curtsey by drivers and kiosk managers. After hearing of
their concerns, I became more observant of the conditions they
mentioned. I notice people running down escalators at Woodley Park full
speed and on several occasions a group of boys racing each other, with
heavy backpacks, down the two down escalators.
Further, the escalators seem to be not running more often on
weekends. At Woodley Park they put no notice of operating status at the
top of the first stairs that the next and longer stairs are not
operating. Further, there and elsewhere, it is possible for an older
person to ride down to the next level and find not only the next
(longer) stairs not working but the stairs back to the street level also
out. I cannot understand why they would have stairs running down turned
on and have the up stairs out of order, thus forcing people to walk up.
Try talking to Metro staff about this and you will quickly learn about
I read, periodically, that Metro is working on courtesy issues. I
wonder how many complaints they get. I write this knowing full well that
few people today complain and those that do quickly tire of a lack of
response and continued boorish behavior. Nevertheless it would be
interesting to know as would the average salary of a bus and train
driver, including overtime. Several years ago I wrote them asking about
salaries and never received a reply. I also sent a message to various
Board members stating my question and the fact that I never received a
reply. I never heard from any of them -- perhaps there is a message
there. Even more interesting is the bonuses given each year to Metro
officers. For some reason I doubt they ever skip those awards. Like DC
government there appears to be little accountability. I wonder what will
happen when some elderly rider is seriously injured. Perhaps that is
what it will take to center attention on ridiculous actions, inactions,
and rudeness by Metro staff.
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Metro here in Naples (Italy, not Florida) must have bought their
escalators from the same company as the DC Metro system. Lots of them
If you want a firsthand view of what has gone on in at least one DC
elementary school, I suggest you read “My Classroom from Hell” on
page W13 (Weekend Section) of Friday's (01-24-03) Wall Street
Journal. The author, Joshua Kaplowitz, got a real education, plus
slapped with a $20 million lawsuit, while attempting to teach fifth and
second graders and passes his experience on to the reader in a seemingly
honest, straightforward manner. Read this one article and you'll
understand why the DC Public Schools rate near the bottom of the barrel
on a national basis. A current (who knows how long it will be good for)
link to this article on the web is http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110002957.
[This article is a shorter version of Kaplowitz's City Journal article
mentioned before in themail, at http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_1_how_i_joined.html.
— Gary Imhoff]
McLean Gardens and Dogs
Kate Burke, email@example.com
McLean Gardens has some serious priority issues. Living there is like
living in a bubble of Dog Lovers. Everyone is so concerned about getting
a dog park up and running. The whole place is already like a dog park.
Maybe my neighbors could start giving a damn about the fact that the
windows are so old, we are "heating the outside." Or perhaps
the fact that my roommate's car was stolen from the street in broad
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad
Eric Gaull, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed T. Barron shouldn't worry about BCCRS discontinuing service to the
NW residents it is serving any time soon. BCCRS doesn't charge for
service (as most emergency medical service providers in the US do), but
it does launch a massive door-to-door and mail fundraising drive each
fall. When I was a paramedic with BCCRS, the Squad took it more than
$650,000 a year, much of it in the form of tax-deductible contributions
from the residents in its NW service area. BCCRS prides itself on
service to portions of NW, and it relies on donations it receives from
If DC residents want to ensure the vitality of BCCRS, they should
consider upping their annual donation or making an additional
contribution if they receive service (many people who receive service do
this already). Another way to help ensure BCCRS is around to serve
people in need would be to volunteer with BCCRS. It is a rewarding
experience. BCCRS will provide all the training needed, and even if
people do not wish to be on an ambulance, there are lots of ways to help
(e.g., accounting, public relations, administrative duties, etc.).
Residential Parking Permits
James Treworgy, email@example.com
Those of us living on unzoned blocks in DC cannot obtain an RPP
sticker, and in effect are treated exactly like nonresidents. We have no
parking privileges in DC at all. Why, then, do we register our cars
here, pay higher insurance premiums, deal with DMV hassles, when we
could register them in a bordering state? I propose we talk with our
dollars. Next time my registration's up, I'm “moving” to Maryland.
I'm through sitting on the moral high ground and telling people to “do
the right thing” and register in DC, when Dan Tagherlini won't even
comment on the matter despite numerous E-mails. So far, all I've gotten
for “doing the right thing” is a parking ticket when I park 100 feet
from my front door on Lamont Street. Because I can't get an RPP sticker.
As of now, I rescind every judgmental comment I've made about people
with out-of-state plates on my street: they're the smart ones, I'm the
idiot. All along, I could have had exactly the same benefits as I have
now, without all the headaches and expenses of a DC registration.
This is so simple to fix. There's no rational reason for restricting
RPP to people on zoned blocks. It would make a lot of people happy. It
would put an end to this debate. It would probably get a lot of folks to
register their out-of-state cars too, since there would actually be a
benefit. Yet I can't even get a comment on the matter out of DMV. The
best I've gotten is “why don't you just zone your block?” Well guess
what — maybe I don't want to, because we have no daytime parking
problem and I want my visitors to be able to park without getting
ticketed. Or maybe I don't have a choice, because most of my neighbors
don't want to zone it. As long as unzoned blocks exist, we should be
treated fairly, like residents, not like commuters. If DMV can't even be
bothered to come up with a comment (much less an explanation) about this
situation, or — heaven forbid — take the 30 minutes or so it would
require to pass a memo around to implement the policy change, then I'm
done doing the right thing.
In the last issue, B. Wildered wrote, “I am frankly sick and tired
of being told that I must be an instant expert to survive . . . I am
middle class and lucky. What do the poor do?” That's easy. For those
who have no money, life is a breeze, no need to make any choices about
life's bothersome little luxuries like heat or food. When you have no
insurance and your public hospital has been closed, it really doesn't
matter how much you understand about medical care, 'cause you ain't
gettin' any anyway.
The posting made me think of a sardonic little book I have of
cartoons from the eighties. It's called “The New Reagan Diet: The Diet
Craze that's Sweeping the Nation! No fat! No calories! No money! No
food!” 'Nuf said.
Moving Up the Primaries Would Be a Welcome
Bob Summersgill, firstname.lastname@example.org
The efforts to move up DC's primaries are a complete nonstarter, but
there are simple, and probably welcome, ways to move up the primaries.
The primaries should be viewed in terms of our media market. Politicians
are already spending wads of cash to flood suburban Maryland and
Virginia with campaign ads. The cost to politicians of including DC's
primary on the same day as either Maryland or Virginia would be
negligible. They will already be campaigning in the area, flooding our
airwaves and making the regional investment. In 2000, New Hampshire was
February 2. Virginia's primary was February 29. Maryland's was March 7.
DC was May 2. A few extra campaign stops and an earlier mobilization of
volunteers for three extra electoral votes is easy for them, and raises
our relevance without trying to take on New Hampshire's fiercely guarded
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net
I think the push for the first primary is a good idea. Not because
it's going to give us amazing influence over presidential candidates,
not because it could necessarily even happen, but because it's an
opportunity to put the spotlight on the shabby treatment DC citizens get
in the political process. As for the Manchester Union-Leader's
editorial, well, what do you expect? You've got to remember that New
Hampshire is the Virginia of New England — backwards, run by
ultraconservative demagogues, inadequately financed, with a culture that
places no value on silly things like educating its populace, helping its
poorest citizens, or providing any adequate planning or direction of its
development. This was one of the few states that rejected having an MLK
holiday. They do have good skiing, though.
The idea that this state exerts so much influence over American
politics has always been disturbing. And the Union-Leader has
always been the mouthpiece of the heart of New Hampshire: petty, racist,
xenophobic, dogmatic. So the editorial is exactly what you'd expect; I'm
surprised they didn't just come out and say that the problem with DC is
that too many black people live here, because I've no doubt that's what
the editorial staff up in Manchester was thinking.
I, for one, like my commentary to be just that. I don't read Gary
Imhoff for “persuasive” editorials “founded on evidence.” I read
for the generally concise, occasionally “artful” collection of words
that represent Gary Imhoff's point of view, period. Isn't that what
opinion is supposed to be? On the other hand, when I read opinion
passing as news — offered by far too many of the print and broadcast
media that actually persuade the largely uninformed masses who survive
on this limited, if not downright unhealthy diet — I am reminded of my
brief but formative experience as a student/resident of New Hampshire,
where I learned that the three most dangerous words in the State were: Manchester
Union Leader. And they still are.
I thoroughly enjoyed themail's January 22 edition, which featured
mail from Mark David Richards, Tim Cooper, George LaRoche, and Roxanna
Deane — four people who have honored themselves and our community on a
consistent basis over the years, by contributing their very best to who
we are through their appearance in print. Don't change a hair for me.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS AND CLASSES
CitiWide Computer Training Center has tickets to the Disney on Ice on
February 13. The seats are located at the Main Concourse for perfect
viewing enjoyment. The time is 7:30 p.m. We are auctioning these tickets
to raise money for our organization. Minimum bid is $25. Please let us
know if you are interested. These are wonderful entertaining shows.
Aerobic Exercise Classes in Cleveland Park
Marilyn Myers, email@example.com
Hi/Lo exercise class convenient to Metro at Daumit Dance Studio, 3333
Connecticut Avenue, 2nd floor. Class schedule: Thursday, 6:35 p.m.;
Saturday, 8:30 a.m.; Sunday, 9:00 a.m. Wood floor, mirrored room. Pay by
the class (drop-in) or sign up for a session discount. Each one hour
class offers a total body workout: warm-up, stretching, muscle toning
& strengthening using (optional) weights, aerobic/cardio routines,
cool-down, choreographed by Jacki Sorensen. ACE certified instructor.
How to get started: E-mail Marilyn or call (703-587-9086) to confirm
class time; bring a towel or exercise mat and water bottle; classes are
continuous and ongoing, you may start any time. Get ready for a fun and
friendly class, and a great workout!
CLASSIFIEDS — VOLUNTEERS
Adult Literacy Tutors
Sylvia W. Keene, firstname.lastname@example.org
Metropolitan/Delta Adult Literacy Council, Inc., will conduct a
15-hour tutor training class on two Saturdays, March 15th and March 29th
from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Registration is required. Please call
234-2665 to register.
CLASSIFIEDS — HELP WANTED
Sylvia W. Keene, email@example.com
Full time. Salary in low to mid 30's. Manage five home visitors and a
data manager for DHS home visiting program operated by an adult literacy
agency in northwest Washington, DC. Must possess superior organization,
management, interpersonal, communication, and computer skills. College
degree preferred or equivalent social service experience with target
population. Fax resume to 234-1511.
Executive Director, DC Board of Education
Paula Perelman, firstname.lastname@example.org
The District of Columbia Board of Education is seeking an exceptional
individual to serve as its Executive Director. The Executive Director is
responsible for ensuring the effective operation of the Board. He/she
serves as general advisor to the Board for developing policies and
proposing solutions to administrative, personnel, and internal executive
problems and speaks with the authority of the Board in explaining,
interpreting, and applying Board policies and other actions taken by the
Board. The successful candidate will have a J.D. degree or Master’s
degree with a major in a field related to the major responsibilities of
the position and at least five years of relevant professional
experience. Pay range, $84,945-$109,515. Interested applicants should
submit a cover letter and resume by January 29, to Paula Perelman,
Executive Director, DC Board of Education, 825 North Capitol Street, NE,
Suite 9108, Washington, DC 20002.
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING
One Bedroom Apartment
Brigid Quinn, email@example.com
Wonderful first floor (totally above ground) one bedroom apartment in
two-unit townhouse on lovely block of Corcoran Street, between Dupont
and Logan Circles. Parking space is included. $1400 per month, plus
utilities. Available February 15th. Call 387-7237.
CLASSIFIEDS — FREE
Two Palm HotSynch Cradles with Charger, V
Series for Donation
Jeffrey Itell, Itell@comcast.net
I have two Palm HotSynch Cradles with Charger (V Series) that I would
like to donate to a nonprofit organization. Please send inquiries to the
E-mail address above.
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