To Walk or Not to Walk
The primary laws of the physical universe were not discovered by
Newton or any scientist, but are lived every day by every one of us. The
primary laws are unintended consequences and its result, irony. Today,
as Ralph Blessing writes about how the construction policies of DC are
governed by the attitude of “pedestrians be damned,” the chief
announcement at the mayor's press conference is that DC was named one of
the ten best walking cities in America by the American Podiatric Medical
Association. (Of course, criteria for selecting the cities include the
number of podiatrists, fitness stores, and health clubs in each city.
The condition of sidewalks is not a criterion.)
As for me, bring on the Segway. I'll follow William West Hopper's
example below. I get too much exercise as it is, walking between the bed
and the computer chair. The Segway seems to be the perfect way for me to
avoid walking, if I ever have to leave the house.
The District is the only US city I know of (though I suspect there
are others) where downtown construction projects can go all the way out
to the street without any consideration for pedestrians. Other cities
where I've lived or visited require protected walkways for pedestrians.
No so DC. Case in point: 9th Street, NW, abutting the National Archives.
Halfway between Pennsylvania and Constitution pedestrians are greeted by
a sign announcing Sidewalk Closed — Use Other Side. And the fenced-in
sidewalk is not even part of the project; rather it's being used as a
parking lot for construction workers, which probably means that phase II
of the project will be to replace damaged walkways and plant new street
trees, all at taxpayer expense, of course. Does anyone know the
legislative history of this policy? Does it precede home rule or is it a
result of our city's cozy relationship with developers? Regardless, it's
high time that it be revised to take into account the safety and
convenience of pedestrians.
Loyalty Is a One-Way Street
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
Mayor Williams is continuing to cleanse the government of his last
few loyal supporters from his 1998 race. Peggy Armstrong, his longtime
aide and former press secretary, resigned rather than be demoted and
shuffled off to the Department of Health. And Williams decided not to
reappoint Anne Renshaw, prominent civic activist and Williams's deputy
Ward 3 coordinator in 1998, to her key position on the Board of Zoning
Adjustment. Developers and development lawyers who are close to the
Williams administration complained that Renshaw was too protective of
zoning rules and residents' interests, and Williams jettisoned her as a
step toward making the BZA more compliant to developers' wishes. Her
replacement, nominated on March 19, will be Ruthanne Miller, who has
less than a year's experience with zoning matters as a vice president of
the Cleveland Park Historical Society. But Miller will face no problem
being confirmed by the Council. Her husband is Robert Miller, committee
clerk for the Council's Committee of the Whole, which has oversight
responsibility for the BZA.
Two Limericks for the Mayor’s Right-Hand
Philip Blair, Brooklander, firstname.lastname@example.org
A super-Mom from deep in the heart of Brookland
(Who does not answer to “Sue” but to “Susan”)
Keeps hope alive
Over here in Ward 5
And if somebody we’ve never heard of named Neil Richardson in the
Executive Office of a Mayor doesn’t know who she is and what she has
done and still does (unpaid, by the way) for DCPS in general and for
Duke Ellington especially and for charter schools, too, and, and, and .
. . but why go on just for the benefit of some clueless smirker who
feels all warm and fuzzy about last November when the stuff that was
shoveled (and it sure was not snow) just barely missed hitting the fan.
(Brookland can be found on some maps, maybe even in the Mayor’s
Yo! Susan, stay un-“recalibrated,”
Be warmed by your thoughts about Tony (X-rated).
You’re past mean, and you’re Green
And you’ll leave his clock clean
(But in the meantime I too am -- oh-oh . . . -- nauseated).
A History of Mount Vernon Square
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
The Washington Post published “The Past is Present” by
Michael Farquhar on Sunday, March 23. The article is a history of Mount
Vernon Square — worthwhile reading as the new Convention Center and
the City Museum prepare to open: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56152-2003Mar19.html.
Why I’m Down on Public Schools
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
The public schools have become nothing more than training factories.
They spend most of their time training and not educating. There's a huge
difference between educating and training. Training is for seals and
dogs. Education is what we should be offering to our kids. Good teaching
and good educational programs will enable our kids to think logically
and solve problems. That is not what is happening in our schools. Too
much time is being spent on teaching to the test. Everyone is being
evaluated on how well the students perform on standardized tests. That's
not what life and education are all about.
Yes, there should be some standards that must be met to ensure that
students earn their graduation certificates. But by spending all our
time training kids to take standardized tests we will never produce
educated students who can enter the real world, interact with others,
and solve the problems that they will face in their chosen professions.
In fact, many will never be able to get into any college of their choice
because they will lack the ability and skills to get into those
colleges. We need to rethink just what we are doing in the public
schools and, with the help of better educated and motivated teachers
(like they have in the charter schools) provide a real educational
program and not training programs.
Force Feeding DC — A Bad Idea
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
We hardly need new examples of why DC residents need full local
self-government instead of home fool, but here is another one to watch.
The Washington Times today, in an editorial titled “Help for DC
urged Congress to push forward and impose Rep. Jeff Flake's (R-Arizona)
school choice legislation on DC, overriding home rule by using the
special privileges Congress has over DC elected officials and citizens.
The Washington Times does not explain how this school choice
legislation is so important to the national interest that DC home rule
should be thrown to the gutter once again so Congress can save ignorant
DC from itself!
Maybe the proponents of school choice should try what must be done in
the rest of the nation — work to persuade DC citizens at the
grassroots that school choice is the right way to go. Or pass federal
laws that apply to all states. If school choice arguments fail locally
and nationally, then the arguments are apparently not strong enough and
proponents need to go back to the drawing board. Force feeding DC
officials and residents from the top down is not a wise approach, and I
predict this method will only cause DC officials and residents to bunker
down even more against this threat of arrogant intervention in local
Assessment Appeal Procrastinators
Mark Eckenwiler, email@example.com
For those who missed it, info on appealing your real property
assessment is available at http://cfo.dc.gov/services/tax/property/how_to.shtm.
Note that the deadline is April 1.
Property Tax Assessments
Karen Alston, firstname.lastname@example.org
We looked up our councilman, Vincent Orange's, tax assessment. Though
the market value is in the mid-$300's, the tax assessed value was much
lower than many of our houses in Eckington.
DC Tax and Revenue and Form 1099-G
Alverda Muhammad, email@example.com
I read Mark Eckenwiler's posting regarding DC Tax and Revenue and the
Form 1099-G he did not receive until March 21. I, too, kept watching the
mail looking for my copy of this form, and after repeated telephone
calls and unkept promises to mail a copy to me, I took a day off from
work and went into the office on North Capitol Street last week. I was
informed by the very nice clerk who gave a printout to me, that the
responsibility to mail the forms belonged to the contractor who was
hired by the city to do it; that the contractor had not done a complete
mailing; and that they were in the process of redoing the mailing at
that time — March 20!
A posting in the last issue of themail suggested that the owner of
the rental house should be held responsible for death resulting from the
fire because of the presumed lack of smoke detectors. I would add that
Councilmember Evans' staff, in response to neighborhood complaints,
called the DCRA in November (i.e., well before the January fire) to
request that DCRA investigate possible building code violations. Perhaps
if DCRA had followed up on these complaints, the fire could have been
averted. So now, we have three district agencies that didn't perform
their duties: MPD, for not having enough 911 call takers on duty; FEMS,
for not having enough of its own call takers; and DCRA, for not
enforcing building code violations. When will the mayor hold his agency
I had the pleasure of jogging from my home in Mount Pleasant to
Silver Spring through Rock Creek Park on Saturday. It was an absolutely
perfect day to be in the park. What blew me away was how few people
seemed to agree with me. I passed no more than two dozen groups of
people on the entire five-mile length of Beach Drive. Much of the time I
was alone in the park. What does this have to do with Klingle Road?
Quite simply, we don't need more park. Rock Creek Park is the largest
inner-city park in the country. It's beautiful, it's underutilized, and
it serves those few who choose to enjoy it very well in its current
incarnation. On a gorgeous day on the weekend, large stretches of its
most accessible areas were vacant. How would adding a tiny new section
of nearly inaccessible land that is Klingle Road — it's steep, it has
no parking, and it's not particularly useful compared to the extensive
network of trails that already exist — serve the needs of the majority
of citizens? The answer is, it doesn't.
All I can think when I hear the rallying cries of the so-called
environmentalists is “selfish.” They want to add another acre to
their empire, which is already a vast sanctuary, barely used by most
people in the city. I hear they want to close Beach Drive all day during
the week as well, further restricting enjoyment of the park apparently
to people who don't work during the week and might otherwise be able to
drive through it, which I presently do every day. The park is already a
jewel in the middle of a big city, truly a treasure that is unmatched in
any other city to the few people who choose to enjoy it. Yet that isn't
enough. The very same people who are able to get the most benefit from
it, those who live closest or have the time and/or physical ability to
walk or run or bike through the park anytime they want, want to take
more, close doors, further restricting access. This is not fair, it is
wrong, and it does not suit the needs most residents of Washington, DC.
Klingle Road Hearing
William H. Carroll, firstname.lastname@example.org
On March 13, the District of Columbia Council held a hearing on two
Klingle Road bills. The bill sponsored by City Council Chair Linda Cropp;
Chair of the Public Works Committee, Carol Schwartz, and several other
Councilmembers requires the DC Government to fully repair Klingle Road,
NW. A bill introduced on behalf of the city's Mayor seeks authority to
partially repair the road for use as a “hike/bike trail.” Both plans
rely upon federal funding.
Chairman Cropp elicited testimony from the Federal Highway
Administration that, whichever bill is passed, the FHA will defer to
local interests. She obtained National Park Service agreement that, as
long as there is no additional taking of national park land, NPS will
respect the bill which is passed by our DC government. Bolstered by a
legal opinion from the City Council's legal counsel, Councilmembers
Adrian Fenty and Schwartz demonstrated that the Mayor's plan constitutes
a “road closing,” that can only be authorized by the Council under
applicable law. Councilmembers Cropp and Schwartz also exposed
assumptions underlying the Mayor's cost projections that can only be
described, charitably, as reckless disregard of reality. In sum, the
Council's examination of federal and DC government witnesses was a
splendid and significant exercise of our limited form of home-rule
Prior to examining government witnesses, the Council patiently and
respectfully accepted six and one-half hours of testimony from over one
hundred DC residents, much of which was passionately delivered. Rightly
so, from the perspective of this supporter of the Cropp/Schwartz bill.
From 1885 until its partial collapse due to city government neglect in
1991, Klingle Road functioned as part of the DC infrastructure. Pushing
non-Klingle Road agenda, such as closing Rock Creek to all automobiles
and preventing residential development in Cleveland Park, hike/bike path
supporters are attempting to exploit the District Government's
mendacious neglect of its responsibility to maintain and repair this
infrastructure component. All DC citizens should rally to support the
City Council's responsible, deliberate and professional effort to
rectify the Mayor's abdication of responsibility.
I read in the Washington Post that the National Capital Region
Transportation Planning Board has invested many years and millions of
dollars in “visioning” and other exercises designed to try to change
the way people travel and live, but almost no time or money on
addressing how people actually choose to travel and live. A recent
regional publication advises that if area officials order an evacuation,
people should “avoid heavily congested arteries and use alternate
routes.” Thousands of residents choose to travel and include Klingle
Road in their lives. It is inconceivable that we are debating rebuilding
Klingle Road and not letting cars use it. To hear these people who want
to take a road away from this city for a dog walk is purely selfish. The
park is hardly utilized in the first place.
While our country is at war, our urban life continues to adjust. We
saw intense gridlock from one guy on a tractor. We need our roads. We're
going to rebuild Klingle Road — let's make it a road for all of us to
Council members Cropp, Schwartz, Fenty, and Graham gave an
outstanding performance at the Klingle Road hearing. They were well
prepared, had their facts straight, and were still going strong when the
government witnesses arrived in the early evening. The National Park
Service, after numerous questions from Ms. Cropp and Ms. Schwartz, was
absolutely satisfied that whatever DC decided, whatever road was built,
that all environmental concerns would be addressed.
While Washington may be a target — one man on a tractor managed
complete gridlock in our city for days — how could we ever think to
build a road and not allow cars to use it? Rock Creek Park is already a
quiet sanctuary — the trails and bike paths both underutilized. These
very people who want to close Klingle Road now want to close Beach Drive
seven days a week and make Rock Creek Park a “car-free” zone. Surely
in these ever-changing times, we aren't seriously entertaining these
ideas? Keep our options open. Keep Klingle and Beach open.
[Since the Klingle postings are again getting repetitious, I'm
calling another temporary halt in the debate, until there is another
action or reason to reopen it. — Gary Imhoff[
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Baseball Back in DC, March 28
John Vocino, email@example.com
Baseball is back in DC. You'll hear the crack of the bat and the pop
of a catcher’s mitt the weekend of March 28th through 30th. That sound
will be coming from the diamond at Benjamin Banneker Recreation center
on Georgia Avenue, NW, as four DC high school teams face off in the
first Maury Wills Invitational Tournament, hosted by Cardozo Senior High
School. Along with Cardozo High's baseball team, the other DC schools
invited to play are Eastern Senior High School, H.D. Woodson Senior High
School, and Archbishop Carroll High School. This event will be a wood
bat tournament — a new experience for DC public school baseball teams,
and one these teams often don't get due to tight school budgets and
difficult conditions of baseball programs in the inner cities.
The tournament is named after Mr. Maury Wills, the Dodger baseball
great, who was born and raised in Washington, DC, and is an alumni of
Cardozo Senior High School. Today, Cardozo High is a multicultural,
urban, public school serving the District’s Latino and the
African-American communities. Although Mr. Wills will be at LA Dodgers’
spring training and unable to attend, members of his family who still
reside in DC will be there and are participating in the organization of
this event. The schedule for the round-robin tournament is as follows:
Friday, March 28, H.D. Woodson vs. Cardozo at 1:00 p.m., Carroll vs.
Eastern at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29, Cardozo vs. Carroll at 1:00
p.m., Eastern vs. Woodson at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30, Woodson vs.
Carroll at 1:00 p.m., Eastern vs. Cardozo at 3:30 p.m.
Concessions will be provided by Cardozo High School. DCBaseball.org
is one of the sponsors of this event. Other event sponsors and major
contributors include Peggy Cooper Cafritz, George Pelecanos, the
Columbia Heights CDC, and Councilman Jim Graham. Any additional proceeds
raised will go toward Cardozo Senior High School athletic department’s
to alleviate their budget problems so the school’s boys and girls have
an adequate opportunity to participate in sports like baseball and fast
pitch softball, as well as to the DC public school/DCIAA baseball and
softball programs at Eastern and H.D. Woodson. We hope to expand the
tournament next year to include a four-team girls fast pitch softball
program. Please don’t hesitate to contact Frazier O’Leary, Cardozo
High's head baseball coach, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or myself if you have any additional questions.
CHIME Brings Sax Appeal to Mount Pleasant
Library, March 29
Dorothy Marschak, email@example.com
Rhonda Buckley, Founder and Director of the Patricia M. Sitar Center
for the Arts, will give a brief history of the saxophone, including its
use in jazz, popular and classical music at Mount Pleasant Library, 16th
and Lamont Streets, NW, on March 29 at 2:00 p.m. She and her students
will play examples from several styles and periods. Ms. Buckley received
this year’s Mayor’s Arts Award and is a fabulous saxophonist. For
directions to the library, call the library at 671-0200.
This program is part of the series “Music Around the World” of
twenty-two free programs presented this year by CHIME (Community Help In
Music Education) at eleven DC neighborhood libraries. For a complete
schedule of these programs, and to learn about other CHIME activities,
visit our web site, http://www.chime-dc.org.
We are a volunteer organization, and rely on donations and volunteers
for support. There is information on how to help on our web site, or
contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call
232-2731. Next programs in the series: April 12, What is Opera? at
Northeast Library. April 19, The Making of an Opera, at Petworth
Looking for Segway HT Owners
William West Hopper, WWHRestoration@att.net
Now that the local Segway HT training for new owners has been
completed, HT's will be on their way to DC. I have met several folks
from DC and MD who are awaiting the arrival of these new electric
powered personal transportation devices. Designed as a personal
transportation device for short trips and for urban commuting, no doubt
they will be showing up around here soon. If you want to know more about
Segways in general there is always the company web site, http://www.segway.com.
For those who want to know more about Segways in the DC area or for
Segway HT Owners, there is a regional group started to promote and
support Segway HT ownership. The Segway Club of Greater Washington, DC.
or log on to the new web site, http://www.dc-segways.com.
Strengthening Partners Initiative Summer
Anthony Chuukwu, email@example.com
Citiwide Computer Training Center offers an exciting, adventurous
entertaining summer program full of fun this summer . The program is
designed for children six to eleven years of age. The program is
educational and fun at the same time. Students are divided into groups
based on their age or their grade level. In addition to the basic
curriculum activities, the students will learn about and explore
different cultures. They will participate in swimming, soccer, judo and
field trips based on the theme of the week. Certified lifeguards, CPR
and teachers would be available. Check out our summer program online at http://www.mycitiwide.com/summerprogram2003.htm.
CLASSIFIEDS — PETS
Wanda, an older female cat, is available for adoption. I am allergic
and so is my wife, so the critter must move on. She is affectionate and
feisty. She is petite with white, tan, and black fur. Would do best in a
household with no other animals. She can live in an apartment or can go
outside. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 249-0535
PS Be sure to check out our web site, http://www.ustreetasiahouse.com
and stop by the March 8 and 9 fall collection close-out sale. We bring
the best of Southeast Asia to Washington, DC's, U Street corridor and
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Good Installer of Gutters/Downspouts
Roy Kaufmann, email@example.com
Looking for good referral of a person to install some gutters on our
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