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January 9, 2005


Dear Respected Readers:

Doug Neumann, below, strikes a theme that we’ve often discussed in themail, the lack of respect for DC’s residents and citizens shown by our government, public institutions, and public officials. I’d write about that but, luckily, I can indulge my laziness and simply quote from what Sam Smith wrote in his column yesterday. Read the whole thing at; scroll down to Saturday, January 8, “Standing Room Only”:

“Washington’s subway system is considering removing some if not most of the seats from its cars, thus converting its rolling stock into high capacity freight cars for those it used to consider its customers. In one concept there would be just 16 seats in a car for 225 passengers.

“While we have become accustomed to the disrespect of citizens by the police, airport screeners and so forth, we are less aware of the many ways in which government and large corporations increasingly demonstrate contempt for those they are supposed to be serving. . . .

“In recent years, thanks in large part to the post-9/11 panic but also to a general disintegration of local culture, respect has been markedly disappearing from my home town of Washington. The cops have gotten meaner and more brutal, the processes more pointlessly complex, the interactions between strangers more sullen, the local politicians less interested in what people say, the bureaucracy more burdensome, and the weakest -- including the poor, the homeless and our children -- more mistreated or ignored.

“It may seem trivial to add to such a list the proposed removal of seats on the Metro. But it is precisely in such small ways that respect or disrespect is demonstrated and announces its priority. . . . Our officials -- certainly those in my town -- have become remarkably indifferent to such concerns. One Metro board member actually said, ‘Part of the goal is not just squeezing more people on the train, but making the overall experience better.’ That makes no sense; it convinces no one; but as long as you can get away with it, so what? . . .

“If you watch for it, you’ll come up with your own examples of the increasing disrespect of the powerful towards the ordinary. You don’t even have to be poor. You just have to be not in charge.”

In a related theme that themail readers have been very interested in, and that is timely again with the addition of more traffic cameras, on Thursday the New York Times published an article on the debate over whether traffic cameras primarily promote safety or raise revenue:

Gary Imhoff


New St. Louis Cardinal’s Baseball Stadium
Ed Barron,

My favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals will be getting a brand new stadium next year. St. Louis is a largely minority populated city with a relatively small minority fan base attending regular season games. The team does, however, draw big crowds at their inner city stadium. Here are some of the details of their new stadium. The new home of the Cardinals will be owned by the team and privately financed using a combination of private bonds, which the Cardinals are required to repay, bank loans, cash from Cardinal owners and a long-term loan from St. Louis County. Estimated costs for the ballpark and complex are around $400 million. In August 2004, the Cardinals and Anheuser-Busch agreed on a deal to keep the Busch Stadium name alive. When the Cardinals open their new ballpark in 2006 it will be known as Busch Stadium.

Construction of Busch Stadium II began in December 2003. Official groundbreaking ceremonies took place on January 17, 2004. The ballpark will be built adjacent to the current Busch Stadium and will be completed in time for opening day 2006. Most of the ballpark should be completed by that time. However, because of the location, part of the ballpark is going to be built where Busch Stadium currently is. Therefore part of the ballpark may not open in April 2006.

Once completed Busch Stadium II will be one of the best stadiums in the country. The exterior of the ballpark will reminisce classic ballparks, and will consist of brick, granite, and arched masonry windows. Inside, the ballpark will have nearly 46,000 red seats. The main grandstand will consist of four tiers and extend from the left field foul pole to down and around home plate; and down the first base side and around the right field foul pole. Additional seating will be located beyond the outfield wall. The main scoreboard will be located above the seating area in right-center field with an out of town scoreboard to the right of the main scoreboard. From nearly anywhere in the ballpark, fans will have magnificent views of downtown St. Louis, and the Gateway Arch. The Cardinals plan to build a Ballpark Village beyond center field of the new ballpark. This area will contain a Cardinals Hall of Fame, an aquarium, restaurants, shops, offices, residential units, and parking areas. Some of the buildings in this area of the ballpark may have rooftop viewing, like at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Sounds like a great stadium. Pictures can be found on the following Web site: And, just think, the taxpayers of St. Louis are not paying for this great stadium.

[If Ed and the source for the financing information are right, there’s another interesting point in this financing plan. In Missouri, St. Louis is an independent city; St. Louis County, which is cited as the source for a loan, is the suburban county to the west of the city. This would be the equivalent of Montgomery County giving a loan to build a stadium in DC. — Gary Imhoff]


Referendum on Baseball
Lars Hydle,

Mr. Spitzer, a distinguished lawyer, may be right [themail, January 5] that a referendum on the baseball deal, carefully drawn, might be considered by the Board of Elections and Ethics to be a proper subject for a referendum. He cites the case on the first Convention Center in 1981, though if memory serves, ultimately no referendum was held on that issue. I was thinking of a more recent case in which a DC Superior Court judge ruled that the smokefree DC initiative was not a proper subject for an initiative because it violated the prohibition against a budget act because, according to various critics of the initiative, it might have affected DC tax revenue. The judge’s decision is on the SmokefreeDC website; the link is I believe Smokefree DC or its allies are appealing to the DC Court of Appeals. My point is that this is a sweeping decision which, if upheld, would make it hard for any referendum with any budgetary implications to get off the ground.

The Board of Elections and Ethics ruling on the propriety of a proposed initiative or referendum is a very early step in the process, before signatures can be collected, so it requires the quick action of only a small group. The more serious problem for referendum advocates is that the signatures must be collected before the end of the Congressional review period, thirty legislative days after the DC law has been submitted to the Congress for review. In contrast, initiative proponents have up to six months to gather signatures for an initiative. During the history of the initiative and referendum on DC, many initiatives but few referenda have made it onto the ballot.

I agree with Mr. Spitzer that if the opponents of the baseball deal want to stop it, they should consider a referendum, and be quick about it.


Remembering 2004
Doug Neumann,

One of the most bizarre events (of many) on the local political scene last year was the Council’s marathon public hearing on the Mayor’s baseball scheme. Only rarely do elected officials treat their constituents so openly with such contempt. May the voters remember this.


What I Learned Last Year
SH Henery,

What I learned last year is that lead in the water meant absolutely nothing to the powers that be. Blame was passed from the Army Corps of Engineers to WASA officials, and any other person or entity that could be conveniently blamed. The long-held secrecy of such a significant health hazard reconfirmed my opinion of city many officials who are too self-absorbed with personal agendas to care about the health and welfare of residents. However, residents were eventually rewarded, with an increase in their water bills.



Capital City Public Charter School Open House, January 11, February 3
Sue Bell,

Capital City Public Charter School will hold two open houses for prospective parents on Tuesday, January 11, and Thursday, February 3. Both will be from 9-11 a.m. at the school (3047 15th Street, NW). See the teachers and students in action and join the founding principal for a brief Q & A session. The school is located in Columbia Heights, on the corner of 15th and Irving Streets, NW, in the newly renovated former Central Presbyterian Church.

Capital City is a small, award-winning public school of choice for children Pre-K through eighth grade. The school uses an innovative approach to learning based on two nationally recognized models for education reform, Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) and Responsive Classroom. ELOB emphasizes project-based instruction to help students meet rigorous academic and character standards. The Responsive Classroom model provides a consistent school-wide approach to classroom management and focuses on respectful social interaction as an integral part of children’s cognitive development. The school’s 236 students come from nearly every zip code in the city and represent a broad range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds (Black, not Hispanic, 36 percent; White, not Hispanic, 31 percent; Hispanic 27 percent; other, 6 percent; low income (qualify for free or reduced-price lunch) 46 percent; limited or non-English proficiency, 16 percent; special education students, 19 percent).

A charter school is a free public school that operates independently of the local school system with funding determined by a per pupil formula. The school is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization led by a board of trustees that includes parents, educators, community leaders, and financial and legal experts. The school has made significant, measurable academic student achievement indicated by standardized test scores, teacher evaluations, and portfolio assessments. Capital City is one of nine charter schools to make Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind legislation as noted in the DC Public Charter School 2003-04 School Performance Reports.


National Building Museum Events, January 11-13
Brie Hensold,

All events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.

Tuesday, January 11, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Architects Tod Williams, FAIA, and Billie Tsien, AIA, design minimalist structures and spaces that celebrate the inherent beauty of materials and construction. This husband-and-wife design team will discuss their recent projects, which include the Museum of American Folk Art in New York, the Mattin Art Center at Johns Hopkins University, and The Neurosciences Research Institute in La Jolla, California. After their presentation, they will sign copies of their book Work/Life (Monacelli Press). This program complements the exhibition Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete, which they designed. $12 Museum members; $17 nonmembers; $10 students. Prepaid registration required.

Wednesday, January 12, 5:30-8:00 p.m. Outreach program: CityVision. CityVision is a twelve-session program that teaches DC middle school students how to initiate and promote change in their communities through the processes and products of design. To conclude the fall 2004 program, students from Ronald H. Brown Middle School, Browne Junior High School, and Stuart-Hobson Middle School in the District of Columbia will present their ideas for improving the Anacostia, Brookland, and H Street NE Corridor neighborhoods. Free. Registration required. Refreshments will be served. RSVP by Monday, January 10 to Stacie Lemmon at 272-2448, ext. 3556, or E-mail at

Thursday, January 13, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Architect Rafael Viñoly will discuss the astonishing public spaces he has created around the world, including the Tokyo International Forum, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, a proposed new plaza at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well as his vision for the World Trade Center site. Following the lecture, he will sign copies of his book Viñoly (Princeton Architectural Press). This program complements the exhibition OPEN: new designs for public space, which will be open for a special preview. $15 Museum members; $25 nonmembers; $10 students. Prepaid registration required.


Chevy Chase Day School and Preschool Fair, January 18
Sarah Pokempner,

The Chevy Chase Citizens Association is holding its second annual Day Care and Preschool Fair on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW (at McKinley Street). If you have a little one aged six or under, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn more about preschools and day care centers in our area. Now is the time to prepare for September ‘05 enrollment. You will hear representatives from each center present information about their philosophies, schedules, age requirements, and have the opportunity to ask questions and obtain materials. Refreshments will be served.



Bed Frame
Ted Knutson,

Seeking a frame for a queen-size bed. E-mail or call me, Ted Knutson, 547-1387 (home and office).


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