Dear Bug Hunters:
It is an important week in local politics: the mayor will have to
decide whether to carry through with his threat, and keep the school
system in turmoil, by vetoing the city council's bill to eventually
reinstate an elected Board of Education. The veto would be a futile act,
since at least two and probably more councilmembers will switch their
votes to ensure the nine votes needed to override it, but the mayor's
advisors, who told him he would win both the first and second city
council votes on the schools, have probably convinced him he can win
this vote, too. The mayor will also have to decide whether to accept the
FY 2005 budget passed by the city council, complete with its contingency
reserve funds, or whether to declare war on the council by issuing
another futile veto of it. The Board of Education may well settle on a
second choice for school superintendent and be ready to make an offer,
and that superintendent candidate, like Rudy Crew, may also want to
speak with the mayor before accepting the position. So where is the
mayor? Today, after spending four uninterrupted days in DC, Mayor
Williams flew off again, this time to Las Vegas, where he will spend
most of the work week. Next year, when the mayor assumes the presidency
of the National League of Cities, his travel schedule will become even
more crowded, and he'll spend even less time in town.
Completely unrelated: this afternoon, a Bethesda woman panicked
because a cicada was in her car and flew at her face; she drove into a
fire plug at the end of her driveway and flooded her street. Now,
cicadas are in a league with ladybugs and lightning bugs for being
harmless insects. They don't sting; they don't bite; they don't cause
any real environmental damage. Yet us city folks, unused to sharing our
living space with any other species, are panicking at the sight of them.
I'm far from a back-to-nature person, and I'm never going to live on a
farm or spend any time camping. But come on, cicadas? They're big, fat,
slow, harmless bugs that come out for a few weeks every seventeen years,
and we're treating them like they're flying rattlesnakes, or lawyers.
(For those who love cicadas, and can't get enough of them, the
Smithsonian has a nice web site to accompany its exhibit, complete with
plenty of pictures, a FAQ, a PDF fact sheet, and audio samples: http://abbot.si.edu/highlight/cicadas/index.htm.)
Signs, Signs, Everywhere There Are Signs
Bob Summersgill, summersgill (at) yahoo (dot) com
Leaving the District Building on the morning of Thursday, May 20, I
found twenty-three back-to-back campaign posters for Green party
at-large council candidate Arturo Griffith. The legal limit for one side
of one block is three back-to-back signs. Why do political candidates
have so much trouble obeying the law? Griffith has run before, so he
must be aware of the law. The Board of Elections and Ethics even lists
the regulations on their web site at http://www.dcboee.org/information/info_can/cam_post.shtm.
The Board of Elections needs to strictly enforce the campaign sign
laws. At $35 a violation, Griffith owes us $700 for his signs today.
In his testimony at the DC Council Committee on Finance and Revenue’s
public hearing on the Ballpark Revenue Amendment Act of 2003, DCSEC
executive director Bobby Goldwater said that “the District has had an
open, inclusive public process that has encouraged dialogue, input, and
participation.” While plenty of evidence suggests otherwise, at least
DC’s Major League Baseball boosters maintained the barest pretext of
an open, inclusive public progress with a handful of question and answer
sessions and a site evaluation study that supposedly incorporated that
input. However, that pretext has been abandoned, and the promise of an
open, inclusive public process discarded, in favor of a game of high
stakes poker in which the mayor and a handful of city officials and DC
Council members have locked themselves in a room alone with MLB, and
keep tossing public money in to try and get MLB to fold and give DC a
team. Quotes from May 19th’s Post article on the subject (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37723-2004May18.html)
make clear how far this has gone:
“It's been difficult to determine whether Williams and council
leaders even have a clear plan for funding the stadium, much less signed
legislation. Details of the financing package have been a closely
guarded secret. . . . All told, the city would need as much as $24
million a year in new revenue, according to city officials, but they
have refused to say what portion of the sum would come from new taxes on
business. . . . Baseball's No. 2 official, President and Chief Operating
Officer Bob DuPuy, said that, for now, owners are proceeding on the
District's assurances that 'all necessary approvals had been or would be
obtained.' Williams said that if he gets the nod from baseball, he can
win approval for a financing plan in as little as 45 days.” All this
with nary a word to the public on the specifics of the plan that they
would help subsidize and be on the hook for to the tune of hundreds of
millions of dollars of public funds? How nice for the mayor to give such
assurances to a private entity in this manner. “But Evans and Cropp
concede that they have not lined up seven votes on the 13-member
council. Both predicted they would have no trouble, even though some
members strongly oppose using public tax dollars to build a stadium 'to
house a team owned by billionaires,' in the words of council member
David A. Catania [R-At Large].” Isn’t that nice! It’s not only the
mayor but Jack Evans and Linda Cropp telling this private concern behind
closed doors that public input and possible opposition expressed by
themselves and through their city council to a proposal that the
baseball boosters won’t let anyone outside of themselves see until
after MLB makes a decision is “no trouble!” So everyone just go back
to sleep; Big Brother and Sister are making all the tough decisions
about your money for you!
“Neither the mayor nor council leaders have discussed their tax
plan with business leaders, who said they are baffled by their exclusion
from the process.” Why should they feel baffled? They’re just like
most of the DC Council and all of the DC citizenry who have also been
completely left out of the cloak-and-dagger process being conducted by a
select few including private concerns like MLB and the Washington
Baseball Club. “'If I were in [baseball's] position, I'd really want
to know that people are all lined up for the financing,' said Barbara
Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, which campaigned
aggressively last year for a stadium tax. Lang said the business
community is eager to endorse the new plan, as well. But at this point,
she said, 'I don't have a clue what it is.'” You’re not alone in
your ignorance, as everyone else has also been left out in the cold. But
I’m sure the DC businesses who’d be affected by this tax must be
thrilled to be portrayed by the DC C of C head as eager to levy yet
another tax on themselves when all indications are that it will be
substantial and when they has been excluded from the process, this while
Lang admittedly doesn’t even have a clue what the new plan they’re
so eager to endorse is!
The problem with this secret process is that it’s designed to keep
public input out of it until the last possible moment, perhaps a few
days before the boosters have everything lined up for a fast-track vote.
Unless you want to find about a done deal between DC and MLB, you need
to let MLB and every DC official know that you will not let this
clandestine process stand and be run on their timetable and in a manner
that keeps all interested parties outside of themselves completely
marginalized and in the dark. Or just sit back and let Big Bro and Sis
take care of this matter in a backroom poker game at One Judiciary
Show Me the Money
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
The mayor and his cohorts are planning to spend $350 million of the
taxpayers' and District business' moneys to build a new baseball stadium
in DC. I say show me the money and where it will all come from. I don't
fault the City Council Members at all for withholding their support for
such an extravagance in our crime ridden city with desperately
underperforming schools. If the mayor really wants to get baseball to
come to DC then he has to develop a nontax based creative financing
Major companies in aerospace do this all the time. Boeing wants to
build an all new efficient passenger transport. Do they pour all their
money into that project? No way! They get all those folks who want to be
a part of that project to invest their money and get paid back as sales
of the airplanes are made. They become risk and profit sharing
companies. The Japanese companies who will build major sections of
Boeing's new 7E7 will spend their money on design, tooling, and
manufacture of those major sections. So, if the mayor wants to build a
$350 million stadium in DC, then let him line up those companies that
will get major work in building the stadium and those who would operate
the stadium to put up most of the money required to build that stadium.
These firms would get their money back from attendance and vendor
revenues, naming rights, and sales of promotional items over a long
period of time. No more taxes on residents and businesses, Mr. Mayor.
Get creative and go find deep pockets elsewhere.
The Public School Experiment
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir, firstname.lastname@example.org
Part of the public school experiment in the District seems to be
watching parents and there children leave the system. This migration is
not only from job related moves but because parents lose faith in the
public school experiment. In the last ten days, five parents have told
me they are pulling their children because of the city and its inability
to run a school system. "We believe in public education, but,"
or "We tried, but," "We've had enough," or “It's
not worth it anymore.”
The difference between sending one's child to a private school in
Ward 3 and the cost to pick up and move is one incentive towards moving.
In fact, the difference can pay for the move. The peace of mind the Washington
Post (which is as much of the problem as anyone else in fixing DCPS)
affords parents in the suburbs is palpable. For parents who believe that
public education is the way to build a community, commuting to work
becomes an easy sacrifice compared to the fight DCPS has become. In DC,
parents blame politicians, politicians blame parents, business blames
educators, educators blame society.
And so for the past fifty plus years (because the suburbs were
created before Brown vs. The Board of Education), middle class
parents, both black and white, have looked to a home with schools that
are a little more peaceful while being more inclusive. For a city that
claims to need more residents, DC sure seems to be very selective.
“Segregation” in DC Schools
David J. Goldberg, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights,
I don’t know if there is tracking at Hardy Middle School, but I can
say that there is plenty of evidence to show that tracking does not
benefit students by allowing more efficient teaching. Quite the
contrary, low performing students who would get tracked into lower
classes tend to show the greatest improvement when challenged with more
difficult classes. Defying expectations, students in the bottom of their
middle school classes do better when put in harder, college-prep level
classes in high school. For examples, see the following excerpt from http://www.civilrights.org/campaigns/brown/national_scorecard.html
(the web site has the source material for the studies).
“All students have the capacity to learn and improve their academic
performance. High expectations and challenging curriculum work to
improve the performance of all children. Students at the lowest end of
the achievement scale show even greater gains than higher performing
students when put into college prep classes. When challenged with
college prep math and science courses in high school, students who
ranked in the bottom half of middle school performance got better grades
than students placed in lower-level, less challenging courses. When
challenged with college prep English courses in high school, every level
of students — from the ones ranked in the lowest quartile on earlier
achievement tests to the ones ranked in the top quartile — cut their
number of Ds and Fs in half."”
While Hardy may or may not be tracking or intentionally segregating,
it is worth noting that in the District’s school system as a whole,
white students are fourteen times more likely to be in Math AP classes
than black and Hispanic students and over seven times as likely to be in
Science AP classes. Both disparities are roughly 3.5 times worse than
the national averages. You can get this type of data for the nation and
every state at http://www.RealizeTheDream.org,
a project of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. There are also
links that will get you the same information (and much more) for
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Coming Attractions Trailer Night, May 24
Ky Nguyen, dcfs_pr AT yahoo.ccm
Be among the first to preview the Summer 2004 lineup of new movies at
Coming Attractions Trailer Night presented by the Washington, DC, Film
Society. This summer's program is Monday, May 24, from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Once again we'll hold court at the Loews Cineplex Wisconsin 6 Theatres,
4000 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. Coming Attractions allows the audience to
play amateur critic as it shares comments and praise and maybe a few
barbs with local film critics and co-hosts Joe Barber and Bill Henry. As
always, there will be plenty of free film giveaways and movie posters
plus chances for door prizes like theater tickets and restaurant
This one-of-a-kind, semi-annual event is only $5.00 for DC Film
Society members and $8.00 for nonmembers and guests. For more
information on the Coming Attractions Trailer Night program, visit our
web site at http://www.dcfilmsociety.org
or call the hotline at 554-3263 x8.
Breathe Free DC Campaign Kickoff Party, May 25
Eric Marshall, Eric.Marshall@cancer.org
Tuesday, May 25, from 6-8 p.m., at 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite
730. Do you believe that everyone has the right to breathe clean air? Do
you believe that DC should have a law that protects all residents from
the harmful effects of secondhand smoke? If you do, then don’t miss
the kickoff of Breathe Free DC’s 2004 campaign. Breathe Free DC is a
grassroots public health group dedicated to protecting DC residents and
workers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Currently DC has
no real smoke-free workplace law. In DC you can still smoke in offices,
health care facilities, day care centers, and in restaurants. There a
few ways we are going to try to get smoke-free workplace legislation
passed in DC and many ways you can help. Please join us and learn more
about our campaign, meet other smoke-free supporters, learn how you can
help and eat some free pizza. For more information or to RSVP, please
call Eric at 661-5722 or E-mail Eric.Marshall@cancer.org.
National Building Museum Events, May 25, 27
Brie Hensold, email@example.com
Tuesday, May 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m., DC Builds: Keeping Housing
Affordable in Washington. The hot real estate market in the D.C.
metropolitan area has led to skyrocketing home prices, making the
opportunities for affordable homeownership increasingly more difficult.
To complement the Museum's exhibition Affordable Housing, the
exhibition's co-curator, Ralph Bennett of the University of Maryland,
will moderate a panel discussion that explores the challenge of creating
and maintaining affordable housing in our highly volatile real estate
market. Panelists will include Conrad Egan, chairman of the Fairfax
County Redevelopment and Housing Authority; Richard Y. Nelson, Jr.,
former executive director of the National Association of Housing and
Redevelopment Officials; and others. $10 Museum members and students;
$15 nonmembers. Registration required.
Thursday, May 27, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Building for the 21st Century:
Sustainable Urban Design for the 21st Century. In a recent competition,
urban planners, architects, engineers, and managers from nine nations
collaborated to create new models for sustainable community development.
Doug Newman, manager of sustainable energy planning at the Gas
Technology Institute and a member of the US-Mexico design team, will
present these models. Attendees will receive "Energizing
Sustainable Cities," a DVD containing the teams' design concepts.
Free. Registration not required.
Thursday, May 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m., lecture: COTE: Top Ten Green
Buildings 2004. Each year The American Institute of Architects'
Committee on the Environment (COTE) invites architects to submit
sustainable designs for the annual Top Ten Green Projects competition.
Mark David Rylander, AIA, the 2004 AIA COTE Chair, will present this
year's winners. $12 Museum and AIA members; $17 nonmembers; $10
students. Registration required. All events at the National Building
Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.
DC Public Library Events, May 25, 27
Debra Truhart, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, May 25, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial
Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 110. Reading and book signing by the
Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa
Lahiri. Refreshments. Public contact: 727-1186.
Thursday, May 27, 1:30 p.m., Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library,
3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Come see the film version of the Chekhov
play, The Three Sisters, directed by Laurence Olivier and
starring Alan Bates. Public contact: 282-3080.
Twelfth Annual Celebrate Mount Pleasant
Festival, June 6
Annalisa Rosmarin, email@example.com
The twelfth annual Celebrate Mount Pleasant Festival is set for
Sunday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The festival is a
family-friendly, alcohol-free, celebration of city living and urban
diversity for everyone in the metropolitan area. The free festival will
take place on Mount Pleasant Street, NW, between Irving Street and Park
Road, Columbia Heights Green line Metro. There will be four stages for
music, children's performers, local artists, and street performers.
Clowns, jugglers, and stilt walkers will also delight visitors
throughout the festival area. Craft artists and vendors will offer
original works of art, contemporary American crafts and international
folk art in the Festival Market Place. A Taste of Mount Pleasant will
offer a variety of regional American and ethnic cuisine from two
international food courts. Food will also be available from the
restaurants along Mt. Pleasant's Restaurant Row.
A broad range of musical styles will be offered at the two
performance stages at each end of the festival. A third stage will
highlight the talents of local artists, street performers and drummers.
Included in the lineup of the stages will be Latin, rock, jazz, and
R&B music from popular DC metro area bands and rising national stars
from Mt. Pleasant. Bands include Alternate Root (R&B), Congregation
(funk), Janine Wilson Band (rock), Los Lobbozz (Latin rock), and Palenke
(salsa). For fun, children will enjoy a worldwide variety of performers
on the Family Stage. Midway style amusements, face painting, and clowns
will also delight the kids. All children’s events are free. Celebra la
Cilencia, a national, multifaceted program designed to promote higher
Latino participation and achievement in the sciences, will offer free,
bilingual, hands-on science activities for children.
The festival, sponsored by the Mount Pleasant Business Association,
and other neighborhood organizations, is organized by a team of Mt.
Pleasant volunteers. The day celebrates the unique cultural and economic
diversity of this historic northwest Washington, DC neighborhood.
Corporate and civic sponsors are encouraged to support the efforts of
this volunteer project. Booth applications for craftspeople, artists,
community organizations, and other vendors are available at the Festival
Office, 3213 Mt. Pleasant Street, NW, #2; at Bank of America, 3131 Mt.
Pleasant Street, NW; or by mail, by fax, or E-mail. The Festival
Planning Committee also welcomes anyone wishing to perform or volunteer
at the event to call the Festival office: 588-5272.
Democratic Unity Reception, May 30
Dorinda White, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Democratic Unity Reception will take place on Thursday, May 27, at
the Palette Restaurant located at 1177 15th Street, NW (The Madison
Hotel) from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Honorees include Leonard Manning, Chief
Executive Officer, Lottery Technology Enterprises; Tony Hollinger,
Acting General Manager; Joslyn N. Williams, President of Metropolitan
Washington Council, AFL-CIO and The Honorable Jack Evans, D.C.
Councilmember, Ward 2. Tickets are available at various sponsor levels.
Please E-mail Ernestine McNair at email@example.com
for ticket information. Valet parking is available.
CLASSIFIEDS — HELP WANTED
We are looking for a full-time nanny for our three-year old daughter.
Our ideal nanny would be available until 7 p.m. and have some
flexibility to stay late some evenings -- but would have most mornings
off until 11:50 a.m., when our daughter finishes preschool. A car is not
necessary since we live just a few blocks from both the Van Ness and
Cleveland Park Metros and our preschool is also within walking distance.
Of course, we want the basics — someone who is loving, energetic,
reliable, and legal.
If you or someone you know would be interested in this position,
please call 986-9431 at your convenience.
CLASSIFIEDS — VOLUNTEERS
Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care, a metro DC therapeutic and educational
enrichment program for children living with HIV/AIDS, is in need of
support from two volunteers: an administrative volunteer for a couple
hours a week for a short term data entry project, and a development
volunteer with experience with foundations and grant writing. This is
longer term and could lead to an invitation to join the board of
directors. Please contact Emily Piccirillo, executive director,
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
I am in the market for reliable lawncare. Yes, my little
postage-stamp sized yard is too much for me to handle. All suggestions
[Let's interpret this message broadly, and give not only for
recommendations for individuals or firms to tend a yard, but also for
alternate plantings or yard treatments that would make our small DC
yards easy to care for. Have you or any of your neighbors had any
creative ideas, aside from concrete painted green? — Gary Imhoff]
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