I know that national issues are beyond themail's purview, but if I
didn't write the following item I'd just be commenting on Craig
Timberg's article on the mayor (“A Hundred Days and Few Successes,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15030-2003Apr12.html)
and on the Post's editorial remarks on the article (“The
Mayor's 100 Days,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26644-2003Apr14.html).
They speak eloquently for themselves, and besides you can already guess
what I'd say about them.
Last night, Dorothy and I attended a reception for Columbia
University alumni. (Dorothy attended graduate school there.) The event
was the introduction of the new president of Columbia, Lee C. Bollinger.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who got her LL.B. from
Columbia University Law School, was a featured guest at the event, and
sat in the front row for Bollinger's address.
Bollinger took the occasion to promote his position in favor of
affirmative action. I found two things about this event interesting.
First, Bollinger had at least two obvious applause lines in the
affirmative action section of his speech, but, by my observation at
least, only about a third of the audience applauded either time. (I
couldn't see Justice Ginsburg to determine if she applauded or
abstained.) Second, given that the University of Michigan affirmative
action case, Gratz v. Bollinger, is currently under consideration
by the Supreme Court, does anyone else find it unseemly either that
Bollinger would take this occasion to address a Supreme Court Justice
about it, or that a sitting Supreme Court Justice would attend an event
to honor the defendant in a case that she is currently deciding? Since
Bollinger is the former Dean of the University of Michigan Law School
who is the named defendant in the Michigan case, and since the case
hinges on actions that Bollinger personally took, ordered, or approved
of, does anyone else think that either person's behavior went beyond
unseemly to unethical?
Last Saturday, the DC Water and Sewer Authority turned off water to
several hundred, possibly thousands, of households without warning for
over twelve hours, as part of a scheduled maintenance project. Here's
what happened. On Friday night, around 11 p.m., many Cleveland Park
residents were surprised to find that they had no water. Calls to DC
WASA revealed that crews were working in the neighborhood to repair a
valve. DC WASA promised that water would be turned back on in a few
hours, definitely by morning. But by the next morning, water was not
back on. And it stayed off until after 12 noon on Sunday. Trying to get
through to DCWSA by phone on Saturday morning was possible only if you
were willing to be on hold for over a half hour, because hundreds of
irate residents were simultaneously calling to find out whey they had no
water. DC WASA's customer service personal were polite, apologizing for
After multiple calls, I was able to piece together what happened, and
here's the tale. DC WASA was repairing a valve on the 3200 block of
Macomb Street. DCWSA dutifully notified some residents in advance that
their water was going to be turned off from about 12 midnight Friday
until 8 a.m. the following Saturday. (The water outage lasted not until
8 a.m., but until after 12 p.m.) But DC WASA didn't know that by
shutting off this valve they were also going to turn off the water to
hundreds or thousands of other homes and apartments. Was it sheer
ignorance on the part of DC WASA that they didn't know which blocks were
going to be affected by turning off a valve on Macomb Street? Or was it
a bureaucratic snafu and somebody simply forgot to notify a few hundred
or thousand DC residents that they weren't going to have water for over
twelve hours? Either way, it is simply outrageous and inexcusable for
this to have happened.
A postscript: a couple months ago, we were notified that our water
would be turned off for about six hours, from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m.,
during dinner time, as crews worked in the neighborhood. On that
occasion, neighbors had an opportunity to stock up on water and make
other plans, but repair crews never appeared and the water was never
turned off. DCWSA never told neighbors that the scheduled maintenance
had been canceled.
DCMR and DC Register Online and Volunteers
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
Everyone interested in DC government needs access to three major
documents: the DC Code, the DC Municipal Regulations, and the DC
Register. The Code has been available online for years, with a gap of
several months when it changed publishers. Its address is http://dccode.westgroup.com/home/dccodes/default.wl.
At a meeting last year with Suzanne Peck, the city's Chief Technology
Officer, Ms. Peck asked Gary and me what our wish list would be for the
government web site. At the top of our list were publishing the DCMR
(the Municipal Regulations), and the DC Register (the city's equivalent
to the Federal Register). They are expensive and bulky, and the copies
at the Public Libraries are frequently outdated, missing, or in tatters.
Over the past year, Ms. Peck worked with the Office of the Secretary to
put the DCMR and the DC Register online.
Starting with the April 18 issue, the DC Register is available in
Adobe PDF format. This week, the first few titles of the DCMR have been
put online, and eighteen out of the thirty titles should be available in
the next few weeks. The Register and DCMR are posted at http://os.dc.gov/services/online_mun_reg.shtm.
The Office of the Secretary currently has one staffer working to update
and correct the remaining titles so that they can be posted over the
next few months. It is seeking volunteers to provide assistance with
these titles to compile, edit, and update them with the outstanding
amendments so that they can be posted. Volunteers will work directly
under the supervision of the Director of the Office of Documents and
Administrative Issuances and may use equipment and facilities provided
by that office. Interested persons should contact Arnold Finlayson at
727-7882 or by fax at 727-6042.
Consultants in the DCPS Budget
Erich Martel, Wilson High School, firstname.lastname@example.org
There is an item in the DCPS budget that should provoke concern,
since it consumes a great deal of money: the excessive money spent on
high priced consultants, as noted in the April 10th Washington Post [Justin
Blum, “Consultant's Higher Pay Decried,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1203-2003Apr9.html].
This should not be allowed to continue unless documented and detailed
justification is provided.
I understand that there are quite a few consultants in the central
office. Their functions must be seriously questioned.
What the Washington Post did not address, but must be asked
very forcefully, is this: why are we paying a Chief Financial Officer
approximately $125,000 a year, if he doesn't know how to do his job? Why
was he hired to do a job he doesn't know how to do? The person described
in the Washington Post article is called a consultant.
Consultants assist, explain, and train the people they are consulting.
The person described in the article was hired to do a job no one else
seems to know how to do. He “consults,” i.e., does a job no one else
is doing. Why hasn't he trained a team of people and delegated the
responsibilities to those he has trained, so that he can gradually pull
back and be called upon to . . . to “consult” when needed? If the
people under the CFO are incapable of learning how to do that job, why
are they still there?
The Board of Education and Superintendent need to provide the public
with a detailed list of every consultant, including all details in their
contracts pertaining to hiring by DCPS, such as job description;
description of the objective standards for knowing if they are doing
their jobs; how to know when they have completed their contacts; pay
rate; length of time on the DCPS payroll; supervising DCPS officer
he/she reports to. Then there needs to be an explanation by the School
Board or Superintendent why they have appointed people to top level
positions who need consultants because they don't know how to do their
jobs. If existing staff members are incapable of doing the jobs assigned
to them, are they being trained to do them? If they cannot do the jobs
they are hired for, why are they there?
DC Emancipation Day
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
Today is DC Emancipation Day, the day on which 3,100 slaves owned by
citizens of the District of Columbia were emancipated by Congressional
act signed by President Lincoln on April 16, 1862. According to
historian Constance McLaughlin Green (Washington: A History of the
Capital 1800-1950), “The act ensured owners compensation [Note:
$300 at most for each slave] and included a provision for colonizing
freedmen outside the United States; nobody put faith in the colonization
plan.” Green wrote that most DC white residents agreed that “no one
would regret the end of slavery in the District” but, “While the
bill was under debate, District householders, fearful of the timing,
fought the main proposal with petitions and memorials, published letters
and newspaper editorials. Mayor Wallach and the majority of Washington's
councilmen besought Congress to delay legislation which at this
'critical juncture in our national affairs' would convert the city,
'located as it is [sic] between two slaveholding states, into an asylum
for free negroes. . . .” The Star and the Intelligencer
supported gradual emancipation. Congress overrode DC officials, bringing
great joy to enslaved people across the nation.
According to data from the US Census, in 1860 there were 10,983 black
residents in Washington City (18 percent of the total population), of
whom 9,209 were free and 1,774 were enslaved. By 1870, the black
population of Washington City was 35,392 (32 percent). Green wrote,
“The repeal of municipal black codes followed within a matter of
weeks, thereby opening up new opportunities to enterprising Negroes.
Colored men could now engage in any kind of business and several who had
patrons on the Hill obtained government clerkships.” Emancipation Day
was celebrated yearly with parades and events until the around 1900. In
recent years, Loretta Carter Hanes has worked to bring back the
commemorative tradition. Throughout this week, there have been programs
reflecting on emancipation. Today, the Stand Up for Democracy in DC
Coalition held a commemoration with a reenactment of the breaking of the
chains, songs, and testimonials on Freedom Plaza — “First Freed,
Last Free.” Last year, Howard University Press published First
Freed: Washington, DC, in the Emancipation Era, a book edited by
Professor Elizabeth Clark-Lewis. Also visit The Historical Society of
Washington, DC: http://www.hswdc.org/Learn_About_DC/School_Resources/D.C._Emancipation_Day.asp.
Oppose School Vouchers for DC Children
Melody R. Webb, firstname.lastname@example.org
Some members of Congress have too much free time on their hands,
enough to run local DC. Between February 11 and April 11 of this year,
Rep Jeff Flake has been busy gaining supporters for his voucher
legislation, which purportedly would give poor children a better shot at
a good education in DC. Delegate Norton today in the Washington Times
states that the people of DC have spoken on the issue of choice by
choosing charter schools, rather than vouchers. Sen. Kay Bailey
Hutchison expends energy, time, and political capital on capping special
ed fees for attorneys. Mr. Flake is steadily gaining support, now at 40
cosponsors. See more on this at http://www.lobbyline.com/leavedc.
But, don't the voters of Arizona and Texas have something to say about
what their representatives are spending their valuable time on? As a
DCPS parent, graduate, and reformer, I am working to get other parents
(regardless of their position on vouchers) and supporters of legislative
autonomy to tell Congressional constituents that their Congressmen are
cheating on them — tending to a political mistress called local
we give DC residents the opportunity to write to Arizona newspapers
(Sen. Hutchison's Texas is coming next week) to tell his Arizona
constituents through Arizona newspapers that Mr. Flake is two-timing
them. In the letter that you E-mail from Lobbyline, you can remind
Arizonans that Arizona governor Janet Napolitano thinks that Mr. Flake
is one of the AZ congressman failing to tend to his constituents. Gov.
Napolitano is so convinced that Mr. Flake and company are neglecting
Arizonans that she is planning to set up an office in Washington to
lobby for AZ in light of Mr. Flake's failure to do the job. Mr. Flake,
by the way, is thought by some in the more conservative wing of the
Republican party to be a prospective challenge to Senator John McCain
when his seat is up. Read more on this at http://www.lobbyline.com/flakeleavedc.
At Lobbyline.com, Arizona residents can send an E-mail to Rep. Flake and
call his cheating chops back home; Arizona residents can tell Mr. Flake
to leave DC schools and DC alone, and to spend his time on them. They
can urge him to support voting rights initiatives and to close the door
to Congressional intermeddling in DC affairs by Mr. Flake and the rest
of Congress. Arizonans can basically tell Rep. Flake to tend to his own
flock in Arizona. Join us at Lobbyline in identifying other members
whose constituents need to know what they are up to, join us to spread
the word to Arizona that their Congressman is a cheat.
Taxpayers Are Fodder of Untoward Scoundrels
Okonkwo Auten, email@example.com
Mayor Williams's major campaign contributor, Mr. Jeffrey Thompson,
owner of DC Chartered Health Plan, received $22 million dollars for
continued management of the broken and dysfunctional computer network at
DC DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), and UDC (the University of the
District of Columbia), and also $11 million dollars to regulate access
to the DC government's and his "privately owned" DC Chartered
Health Plan patient and account records. This is a substantial conflict
of interest by Mayor Williams and Mr. Thompson! Clearly, DC taxpayers
loose valuable services when DC computers don't work properly.
Additionally, a $2 million dollar federal grant (for DC General
Hospital) surreptitiously disappeared and turned up in Mr. Thompson's
pocket. i.e.: The same major contributor of the Mayor.
It appears that the Mayor has an uncanny ability to find, employ, and
protect other scoundrels like: the previous fire chief, Gwendolyn
Hemphill, Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates, his previous
advisor/Chief of Staff Mark Jones (who just happened to illegally
operate up to seven fraudulent nonprofits directly from the Mayor's
offices), and Norm Neverson. Mr. Neverson is the DC Democratic State
Party Chairman. It is reported that at the Party meetings, Mr. Neverson
oversees vulgarity, insult, and slanderous "N-word"
descriptions of his members’ views of themselves. Mr. Neverson is at
home in this dysfunctional environment of untoward scoundrels.
Mr. Neverson narrowly lost a close Council race in 1984, later to be
brought down in his 1998 Ward 4 controversy while supporting Mayor
Anthony Williams. Here again voter fraud included harassment. Oddly
enough, Mr. Neverson publicly continues his support of (soon to be
charged, certain to be convicted of accused money laundering and
forgery) the DC Teacher's Union’s Gwendolyn Hemphill, who also oversaw
substantial forgeries of documents and signatures for Mayor Anthony
Williams. Mr. Neverson has publicly stated, “He would have voted for
the 'three-fifths compromise,'” [the constitutional clause decreeing
that slaves counted as three-fifths of a person]! It should be of no
surprise that DC's Democratic Party supports dishonesty, deceit, and
untoward scoundrels who personally profit financially while
east-of-the-park schools are without, books, paper, and pens.
Tax Parity Act of 1999
Mark Eckenwiler, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the last issue, Warren Gorlick inquired about the recent lowering
of the DC property tax rate for apartment buildings. In brief, the
source of this change is neither mysterious nor obscure: the Council
enacted the Class 2 rate reduction as part of broad package with the
rather disingenuous name Tax Parity Act of 1999. Jack Evans was the
primary author of and cheerleader for this legislation. For a good
summary, see the documents (taken directly from DC's website a few years
ago) on my website at http://www.panix.com/~eck/taxparitytext.pdf
Note that these historical documents are no longer completely
accurate, inasmuch as a) the reductions in income tax rates have been
frozen in light of budget shortfalls and b) the old Class 5 (vacant and
abandoned property) tax rate was reinstated last year under a new
“Class 3” label. See http://cfo.dc.gov/services/tax/property/class_3.shtm.
Answers to DC Government Questions
Joy Marie, She741@aol.com
[Reply to Lyla Winter, themail, April 13]: Yes, Lyla, there was a
time when the streets of the District of Columbia were clean and safe;
when children went to public schools, had books, and were actually
educated; when the government was efficient and services were delivered.
Cronyism, incompetence, greed, and indifference were not the order of
When, you ask? When the federal government had total jurisdiction
over the city, and residents were not allowed to elect officials by
Some People Won’t, Not Don’t, Get the
Brian Vogel, vogelbp at mail dot com
It appears that John Whiteside is not the only person who gets the
point, and that Adam Eidinger and Nora Bawa don't just miss it, they lob
it aside. Snarling rush hour (or any other hour, for that matter)
traffic is not going to persuade anyone to a position they don't
espouse; in fact, it's likely to do the opposite. That isn't just Mr.
Whiteside's assessment, either. I will offer the following URLs from The
Hook, a Charlottesville, VA, alternative paper, to illustrate how
widely Mr. Whiteside's position is shared: http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2003/04/09/letterStoppingTrafficBadMo.html
(Links likely to expire by April 18.)
Those who would attempt to change opinion using the tactics that have
been discussed here do so at the peril of their own objectives.
[Responding to Gary Imhoff's posting in themail, April 13]: Regarding
sweetness and light and music, I agree, but all it means is that we are
As a Native Washingtonian, what I hoped for I now hate: the mayor's
office and the for-life DC City Council. The quality of my life here has
gone down to the point that I am looking to move out of DC for life. I
should have left long ago. It has and continues to cost too much to live
here. Costs includes over regulation, poor education (and even the
educated (teachers) do not know how to protect themselves), only two
major health insurance companies with individual plans, a worthless
police department, “extortion's by fines and taxes” to cover current
and future DC government waste, and an ignorant and dangerous judge
ruling in the DC Probate Court. I'm tied of typing!
It is good to have differences of opinions. Differences of opinion
can serve to make better decisions about issues. The idea is to work
together on positive endeavors in a respectful manner to improve the
quality of life for DC residents and visitors. The issue before us
presently is DC Metropolitan Police services to the public, which
includes the 911 system. When I addressed police services I emphasized
being a part of the solution by engaging in positive endeavors to
improve police services. Like any other organization, the Metropolitan
Police has individuals who work for them that are accountable and
responsible as well as those who are not. This is a given.
Resolving service issues that have been allowed to fester for decades
takes time and numerous individuals and creative methods to resolve. I
believe that Chief Charles Ramsey has improved the police services
greatly during his six years tenure in DC. I believe that DC needs to
keep his dedication to high police service standards so, that there is
continuity as the police service improves in future years. I for example
find it rewarding to spend numerous hours working with the Metropolitan
Police and other affiliates to improve police services. I will be happy
for you to come to a monthly Police Service Area (PSA) or a Citizen's
Advisory Council (CAC) meeting so that I can address the many positive
things that I do to improve police services. I would be happy to hear
what you are doing as well in being an active participant in the
solutions towards better police services.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
CHIME Presents “The Making of an Opera”
with Betty Byrne, April 19
Dorothy Marschak, email@example.com
On April 19, at 2 p.m., at Petworth Library, Georgia Avenue and
Upshur Street, NW, learn how an opera is put together: the drama behind
the footlights! What does it take to bring together an orchestra, a
chorus, dancers and the star singers in a production, together with the
sets, lighting, costumes and box office? Washington Opera Docent Betty
Byrne will reveal all in this program, illustrated with video clips from
actual productions. Ms. Byrne has developed and presented programs on
opera to thousands of area students. She is a member of the Washington
Opera Guild Board and is the Opera Representative to the Kennedy Center.
For directions to the library call 541-6300. For more information about
the program or CHIME (Community Help In Music Education): http://www.chime-dc.org;
firstname.lastname@example.org; or call
Save the dates for the last three CHIME programs this season: April
26: Klezmer music at Juanita Thornton/Shepherd Park Library; May 3:
Afro-Cuban folkloric rumba at Mt. Pleasant Library; and May 10, dance
music of Scotland at Washington Highlands Library.
DC WASA Public Meetings, April 22 and
Libby Lawson, email@example.com
You're invited to a community meeting to discuss capital and service
improvements, and proposed rate increases. Please attend one of the
District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority meetings listed below.
There will also be a public hearing on May 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, 777 North Capitol
Street, NE. For information or to testify, please call 787-2330.
Meetings on Tuesday, April 22, 6:30 p.m., Anacostia Library, 1800
Good Hope Road, SE; Wednesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m., Shepherd Park
Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW; Monday, May 5, 6:30 p.m., Washington
Center for Aging Services, 2801 18th Street, NE; Wednesday, May 7, 6:30
p.m., Southwest Library, 920 Wesley Place, SW.
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