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January 12, 2005


Dear Securitized Residents of DC:

WRC political reporter Tom Sherwood questions the security measures being taken for the inauguration in his current column ( Of course, those in charge of security believe that every loss of freedom is for our own good, and that the more restricted our liberties are, the better off we will be, but Sherwood is right that it is the job of both federal and local elected officials to battle against the loss of liberty. Who among our local elected officials, among our metropolitan area members of congress, or in the federal administration is arguing against the heavy handed authoritarianism of the security state?

“Some folks are wondering how all this celebrates America: People blocked from the homes and neighborhoods unless they brandish a photo-identification card with their street address. Out-of-towners treated as intruders not guests. Metro stations closed down even though miraculously they’re actually in good working order. Metal detector checkpoints three blocks from the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route. (And don’t even get me started on the obliteration of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that some believe ought to be renamed Fear Park). Soldiers, heavily armed, cruising the streets of locked down garages, office buildings and shops. The city’s rivers devoid of local boats, while the skies overhead roar with weapons of war.

“One city official suggested that all of downtown be blocked off -- no one allowed except the parade participants. Then everyone could stay home and watch it 1984-like from their homes. As one reader said, a virtual inaugural.

“If our grand public events have to be twisted into massive police operations, perhaps its time to simply cancel them as relics of a simpler era.

“Lord knows it’s a wild enough world that police and protective services confront. But at what cost does it come to our communities, our country and us? Police and security professional certainly should propose all types of protective measures, but it’s up to civilian leaders who lead our country, states and local governments to battle the creation of a new security, industrial complex."

Gary Imhoff


No Tickee, No Shirtee
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

If the Feds want protection and other services from DC, then they should pay for them. Too bad we have already erected the reviewing stands along the parade route. If I were the Mayor I’d cancel all police and any other activities that were planned to support the Inauguration next week. I wouldn’t have a city employee within five blocks of the perimeter of the ceremonies. Let the Feds figure out how to protect the President. Get Cheney to hire Halliburton.


What’s in It for Kids
Susie Cambria,

DC ACT’s eleventh annual edition of What’s in It for Kids? is now available. The main findings of this budget and policy analysis are consistent: few gains have been achieved for children, youth, and their families in the FY 2005 budget. Level and reduced funding means that many young people and their families will once again go without basic services such as mental health and shelter. For other families, services that support work — such as subsidized child care and job training — are scarce. The book is available by contacting DC Action for Children at and 234-9404.


Parking Signage, Posting, and Noise
Cecilio Morales,

Ever since Sunrise Assisted Living built its monster building in the 5100 block of Connecticut Avenue, those of us who live on that block have been experiencing incredible hassles, including nighttime noise, inconvenience, and harassment from cops. In late summer and fall of 2003, I had to call the cops repeatedly because they were operating noisy construction machines at 2 a.m. in the morning, right under my bedroom, as if it were the middle of the day. This continues to happen in the name of “street cleaning” at ungodly hours (past midnight.). But now the cops refuse to intervene, no doubt bribed by someone.

For about a year, they tore up the sidewalk; they destroyed two bus shelters, one on the northwest corner of Connecticut and Nebraska and another directly across from the DC residence for the elderly a block up. The one across the DC residence still isn’t there. It looks as the stop is being decommissioned. So the poorer elderly now have to walk an extra block for the benefit of the rich elderly. Not only that, but they put in the parking signage wrong and it took two years to get the District to put the signage back up. We had to pay the tickets or spend insane amounts of time convincing officials who look the other way.

I just got a ticket for leaving my car out overnight on December 30, on the grounds that street cleaning was going to take place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This shouldn’t even be happening at that time (it didn’t or I would have called the cops just to set the record straight. DC officials don’t listen. Meanwhile there are taxes and fines for citizens, and abatements for businesses like Sunrise Assisted Living. I wonder at the traffic in bribes that must be going on.


Surveillance Cameras
William Haskett,

I had already read the article in the New York Times that Gary Imhoff refers to [themail, January 9], and it prompts me to wonder if we can finally get some straightforward answers to questions about the use of surveillance cameras: I had not previously been as aware of the Mayor’s admission that the cameras at red-lights (since that is the core of the NYT article) were not solely for safety (a very desirable goal) but also for revenue: this seems a stretch: taxation is for revenue, police work is not, because if it ever becomes that, we furnish a reason for random and formal enforcement of an unreasonable law simply because it brings in revenue. Government ought not to be in the business of raising a revenue simply because it can. Revenue is admittedly raised by fees, but that is for a public purpose, genuinely defined and uniformly administered. Uniform fees are always regressive, of course, because they are applied to the rich as well as to the poor, with massive differences in proportions to income. The same argument applies to levies founded on traffic regulation. We should mind it less, perhaps, if it were frankly admitted, but we are too often told that the purpose of the surveillance is public safety. The NYT article reports what follows: for red-light surveillance, there is an almost equal increase in rear-end collisions (as drivers slow down or stop quite suddenly to avoid running the light) to offset a reduction in side-on collisions between cars moving at right angles to one another.

Different, but broadly equivalent, arguments could be developed for the use of the cameras at places other than red lights. How safe/unsafe is the 25 mph District-wide speed limit, when the police’s own "allowance" is 10 or 12 miles above that. Conversely, how dangerous is a modern car, traveling at 36 mph on a clear and dry road, in the middle of the day, with no obstruction to visibility?

[Interested readers should also see yesterday’s article by Jim McElhatton’s in the Washington Times, “Mayor Says Traffic Cameras Needed for Revenue,” — Gary Imhoff]


Disrespect in DC
Ralston Cox, Dupont Circle,

I couldn’t resist responding to Sam Smith’s comments concerning government’s disrespecting its citizenry [themail, January 9]. While on vacation driving through western Nebraska this summer, I received a speeding ticket in a very small town located there. I paid the fine and court charges in a timely manner, and thought the matter was closed. Two months later I received a notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles telling me that my license to drive was to be suspended as a result of “noncompliance with an out of state moving violation.” If I did not voluntarily surrender my license, the letter threatened arrest and a fine of up to $1,000. The alternative was to ”provide proof of payment of the above mentioned violation. . . .” No instructions, no phone number to call for more information, no nothing.

I had done nothing wrong, but no one at DMV seemed to care or could explain to me why I was being targeted for something that was, plainly, an error. I knew from experience that I was caught in a standard DC Catch-22, so I responded to my government by doing what I thought they wanted. I wrote them a letter explaining the error, sent them a copy of their letter for reference, a copy of the traffic ticket, a copy of the Express Mail label and tracking report showing the ticket was paid in time, and a copy (front and back) of my canceled check. I sent all this by certified mail just to make sure they got it and that I could prove it. One week later I received a response from the city telling me that my transaction was rejected because I did not include a copy of my drivers license, nor did I enclose a copy of a receipt from the court. Nowhere in the original correspondence does it mention that I needed to send them these things. The woman I spoke to in the court in Nebraska got a chuckle out of this — it seems they don’t do receipts and she couldn’t understand why DC needed such a thing, as I had clearly paid my ticket on time. They just assume your canceled check is enough. But they came up with something for me and I sent it, and a copy of my driver’s license, off to DMV (certified mail, again).

And the response from DMV? A copy of my five-year record, noting that the “unpaid ticket violation” was “cleared.” Best of all? The stationery from DMV has a watermark repeated over and over and over — “The Drive to Excellence.” So I’m accused of doing something I clearly didn’t do, had to document that I didn’t do it, had to guess at what documents they would need or want, and, when they finally got what they wanted, they didn’t even bother to write a letter telling me that all was well again (much less admitting their error). So much for innocent until proven guilty.


Trust No More, Baseball and All
Keith Jarrell, Capitol Hill,

The lack of concern among our elected officials should tell you something: that they don’t really care. They would have us think that they are far more intelligent and far more savvy that we are about all the things baseball and a new stadium can potentially do for DC. The truth however, will come out when, just as with the new convention center and other projects, the cost overruns and the new taxes take place. What I find so personally insulting is the numbers game that the mayor and so many members of our city council are playing. Why is it that a true and accurate price tag hasn’t been placed on the project? Why don’t we as voting citizens make sure that one is? Secondly, what I find amazing is how the vote was pushed through the council in order to accommodate the mayor’s wish not to have it run over into the new council session. Why? Certainly it is that with the newly elected members of council, it would never pass. Was justice served to the citizens of the District? I don’t think so.

Several members will not run for reelection and so they have nothing at stake. Others don’t care. It clear that one good person could bring Jack Evans down and he could be replaced easily. Sam Brooks, running for At-Large Councilmember against Brown, received more votes in Ward Two than Mr. Evans did. Perhaps a recall on Evans is in order? It must be on the minds of the people in his Ward. If not, then perhaps they deserve yet another four years of his plan for our future. Ward 5 residents had no help either on this issue or on many others from their esteemed and less than intelligent Councilmember, Vincent Orange. After all, why should he be trusted again for any office in this city when his signature appeared on the petition supporting slots while he was on vacation in Florida. When asked about this, he has offered no explanation. He never will either, cause the evidence is clear who really signed his name.

As voters, we have to become far more intelligent in whom we support and whom we elect to manage the affairs and to govern our city. Thus far, our report card is averaging about a D-, based on many of the things discussed in themail in the past several months. It’s time for more changes in our elected leadership in this city, and it’s time to support further the councilmembers that listen and respond to the wishes and needs of the citizens of the District of Columbia. Just as the significant change was brought in this election cycle, we need to keep this movement going and perhaps even strengthen it again in two years. But today is the real time to start working together to being new faces and new ideas with new approaches to our city and how it is managed.


Post Puffery on DCSEC
Ed Delaney,

“Hired in November as chief executive of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, Allen Lew, 54, took over an operation still in its first phase. An architect has yet to be hired. Stadium designs have not been developed. And land has not been acquired from property owners. Even the project’s ultimate cost — estimated at $440 million by mayoral aides but raised to $530 million by the city’s chief financial officer — is difficult to determine at this stage, Lew acknowledged.”  (

So it was the stadium opposition that was clueless and out of line in not abiding by the terms of a carefully crafted agreement between the mayor and MLB (never mind that nonsense of the DC Council’s essential role of shaping and approving any such deal, especially one of the city’s most expensive ever and one done for the complete benefit and use of a private monopoly), even though their laughable cost estimates (rarely if ever questioned by the Baseball Brigade’s coconspirators at the Post) were not based on a final design — since this article reveals that such designs haven’t even been developed at this point — or any land acquisition achieved, apparently making it “difficult to determine at this stage” for the latest in what seems like a revolving door of DC Sports and Entertainment Commission heads to come up with a “ballpark” figure even here in 2005! I’d hate to think the opposition to the stadium boondoggle and those “jackass council members” that the CEO, I mean mayor, of the District might actually have had a monopoly on the facts surrounding the issue and that it was only political strong-arming from the Brigade and carefully tailoring “coverage” from the Post and Times that cajoled and intimidated the result they wanted out of the DC Council.


Referendum on Baseball
Art Spitzer, (in my personal capacity only)

Regarding the possibility of a referendum on the baseball bill, Lars Hydle notes that “a DC Superior Court judge [recently] 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. . . . 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.” [themail, January 9]

I agree with Mr. Hydle that the reasoning of the recent Smokefree DC decision would prevent all but the most meaningless initiatives or referenda from appearing on the ballot. But it’s only a decision by a single Superior Court judge and is not binding on any other judge of any court. Potential supporters of a baseball referendum shouldn’t be too concerned about that decision; there are more than fifty Superior Court judges and the judge to whom a legal challenge to a baseball referendum would be assigned might well see things differently.

While it’s true that the DC Court of Appeals has interpreted broadly the prohibition on ballot measures that “appropriate funds” or “negate a budget act,” that court has never gone as far as the Superior Court did in the Smokefree DC decision, and I have enough respect for the Court of Appeals that I assume they’ll reverse the Smokefree DC decision. (Not that I’ve never been wrong in the past!) Also pending before the Court of Appeals, by the way, is an appeal in the case involving the “Drug Treatment Instead of Jail Initiative,” passed by the voters in 2002 but subsequently held invalid by the Superior Court on the ground that it, too, was a law appropriating funds. That appeal was argued in May 2004 and the Court of Appeals’ decision, which could come down any time, will presumably provide some additional guidance in this much-litigated area.

I don’t deny the possibility that a baseball referendum might be ruled out of order by the courts. But in my judgment there’s a better chance that a carefully drafted referendum will be permitted. One key provision in the referendum law is the provision allowing a referendum on part of a law. It might be wise for opponents of the baseball bill to submit more than one version of a referendum (one on the whole bill; one on selected parts that seem most clearly appropriate), or to make clear in their submission to the Board of Elections that if it (or a court) views parts of the baseball bill as an appropriations act or a budget act, then a referendum is desired on such parts of the bill as are not within the prohibition.


Appropriate Referenda
Angela Bradbery,

I must weigh in on the issue of whether a baseball referendum is appropriate ballot material. Lars Hydle is indeed correct [themail, January 9] when he cites the very bad ruling issued by Superior Court Judge Mary Terrell last spring. Terrell ruled that the smokefree workplaces initiative was not appropriate for the ballot because it would appropriate funds and unduly interfere with the Council’s ability to set a budget. Under her logic, virtually any measure that has a fiscal impact — positive or negative — would be deemed inappropriate for the ballot, a ruling that pretty much throws the whole ballot process out the window. It was clear by Terrell’s comments from the bench that she just plain didn’t like the substance of the initiative and was trying to find any way she could to keep this matter far from voters. It is extremely unfortunate that she succeeded, because had the matter been on the ballot in November, it most certainly would have won (polls show that a majority of District voters want smokefree workplaces.) It is important to note also that the Board of Elections and Ethics unanimously found the smokefree workplaces initiative appropriate subject material to go before voters. The case is on appeal, but that could take a long time. We are hopeful that in the meantime the Council will pass meaningful smokefree workplace legislation, because all workers deserve to be protected from secondhand smoke.


New Subway Security
Ben Slade, Cleveland Park,

The January 6 Washington Post had an article about new security measures for DC’s subway for the upcoming inaugural (“Metro Officers Keep a Keen Eye on Riders,” The inaugural related subway security measures include behavioral profiling, bomb sniffing dogs (to be loaned from the Transportation Security Agency), explosive sniffing devices on loan from TSA, and airport screeners to run the explosive sniffing devices, also on loan from TSA.

So the obvious question is, with all the various past orange and yellow national security alerts, how come we never saw any of these security measures put in place for DC’s subway? The obvious answer is complacency. It’s too bad that it will probably require a Madrid style train bombing or some other biochemical attack to get local governments to implement reasonable security in the subway.


Mealy-Mouthed on Metro
Simon J. Craddock Lee,

A Washington Post editorial on Sunday, January 9 [], recounted the ducking and dodging over a dedicated funding stream for Metro. “In the face of those responses, it is important that Metro’s main constituency — its ridership — weigh the disastrous consequences of sticking with the status quo.” So, as a recent new resident to the District, allow me to ask, to whom should I appeal if I want to support a dedicated funding stream solution that will sustain Metro?

Virginia and Maryland won’t touch it and the District Council claims it’s impotent. Suggestions?


Metro Service Cuts
Esteban Guzman,

Metro has to use service cuts and fare increases to increase its financial viability. Removing seats is one such service cut. Why are people whining so much? Would they rather have another fare increase? Would they rather have longer platform waits? New York, Boston, and many other systems have bench seating along the exterior walls of the trains and strap hanging in between. It’s not the end of the world. DC’s Metro trains right now are very inefficiently used. Nobody moves to the center of the train. They just stand near the doors. I can understand why Metro would want to try different seating configurations. This is not disrespect, but belt-tightening.


Subway Seats
Nick Cobbs,

Metro’s proposal to convert to a more practical seating arrangement was a bad example for both Doug Neuman and themail to use as an illustration of the District Government’s disrespect for its citizens. Metro is mass transit, not a commuter railroad. At rush hours riders have a choice of being crushed in the limited standing room space that is available in the present car configuration or passing up a succession of packed trains until one with adequate space arrives. The decision to adopt a more realistic seat design reflects concern for the riders’ needs, not disrespect.


Metro Seating
Richard Layman,

I respectfully disagree with linking WMATA’s proposals for the reconfiguration of seating on subway cars to a broader and justifiable concern about disrespect and how government treats the citizens it purports to serve. While the sixteen-seat car may have been over the top, the fact is that the subway cars use a train car seating configuration, rather than a seating configuration common to high capacity subway systems. The configuration at the entrances, with the poles and the seats jutting out on the bias (angle) approach to the door make ingress-egress difficult during high-use periods. Adding capacity from seating configuration changes is much cheaper than adding subway cars, and I think that would be something that all of us would want WMATA to consider. In comparison, the New York City subway cars have benches along the walls of the car, allowing for greater standing capacity, and greater capacity per square foot of subway car space.

The WMATA system has both commuter rail aspects (trips from the out-county ends of the system such as Shady Grove or Vienna) and more traditional subway travel trips (Arlington, DC). Catering solely to the distant riders provides far less capacity during peak periods.

From a PR standpoint, WMATA would have better served its purposes had it included in its proposal (maybe they did, but it didn’t make the papers) a comparison of seating configurations on other high usage subway systems in North America (NYC, Boston, Toronto, etc.), and around the world. Then we all would have had a better base of knowledge on which to judge the various proposals.


Suggestion for the Metro
Michael P. Durso,

There is an easy solution for Metro’s exploration into high-occupancy rail cars. Put the high-occupancy rail cars in the middle of the trains, but don’t create entire trains with the high-occupancy rail cars. For example, if it is a six-car train, put two regular cars at the front and back with the two high occupancy cars in the middle. If you are a rider with a longer ride you would naturally move to the either the front or back of the train and avoid the center cars. However, if you are a quick transfer rider going only a couple of stops, then the high-occupancy cars would naturally make better sense to use. Is there really a need to sit down when traveling from Gallery Place to Metro Center? Although our society is lacking respect, it is acceptable to compromise from time to time.


Students Are Residents, Too
Sally Kram, Consortium of Universities,

I’d like to respond to Mr. Bindner’s criticism of Fannie Mae’s report on poverty in the District [themail, January 9]. First, Fannie Mae has followed US Census Bureau standards in counting students as residents of the jurisdictions where they are enrolled. In the past, this has enabled the District to collect larger amounts of federal dollars because its student population has remained constant, unlike other segments of the population, such as families with children, which have dropped drastically.

Second, students do not routinely benefit from “parents and educational assistance.” As to parental assistance, the average age of a college student in Washington, DC, is 26, meaning that most of them are wage earners in their own households. As for educational assistance, the District of Columbia is unique in the nation in that it provides no financial aid assistance to DC students to attend DC institutions.

Given that students provide the steadiest stream of new residents that the District can depend on, Mr. Bindner should appreciate that they are counted in DC rather than throw them out. Students are residents too!



DC Public Library Events, January 14-15
Debra Truhart,

Friday, January 14, 10:00 a.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Timeless Legacy: A Prerequisite to Genuine Equality. A video presentation about Dr. King by freelance photographer and film producer Joshalyn Lawrence. The Black Studies Division of the D.C. Public Library sponsors this program. Public contact: 727-1211.

Saturday, January 15, 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby. 6th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Scholastic Chess Tournament. Olympic Chess House presents its annual chess tournament to honor Dr. King that gives beginners to advance level players opportunities to compete for prizes. Grades 1-12. Public contact: 727-5535.


Kakizome at the National Building Museum, January 15
Brie Hensold,

Saturday, January 15, 1:00-4:00 p.m. Calligraphy Creations. Kakizome is the Japanese term for the first calligraphy of the New Year. Practice with brushes and ink before creating a Kakejiku scroll. Presented in conjunction with Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today. $5 per project for Museum members; $7 nonmembers. Drop-in program. Appropriate for all ages. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.


Women in Film and Video, January 22
Dorinda White, Women in Film and Video,

Come and join Women in Film and Video as we discuss an issue that crosses any and all professions . . . how to balance your family obligations with your professional commitments. Join us on Saturday, January 22, from 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Discovery Communications, One Discovery Place, Silver Spring, MD. It seems everyone these days is dealing with the struggles of balancing work and family. Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for some insight, a new parent ready to reenter the work world, or an employer wondering how to accommodate your employees, you won’t want to miss this event. We have assembled an extraordinary lineup of professionals. We have invited executives from PBS, Discovery, Fox, PBS, Interface and Team Video to discuss how they are addressing the needs of their working parent staff. Successful freelance producers, writers, and technicians will share their stories. At the end of our half-day, we will open the floor up to a discussion with participants on future programs designed to support working parents.

Our keynote address will be delivered by Ann Crittenden, award-winning journalist and the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Price of Motherhood and If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything. She was a New York Times reporter where she wrote on economic issues, initiated investigative reports and authored a series on world hunger that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

We have arranged childcare at a nearby location. You can bring your very young child to the event. There will be space outside the conference room where you can go if your child becomes noisy. Look for childcare information, registration forms, directions, transportation, and parking information at and by calling the WIFV office at 429-9438. WIFV members and Discovery employees free before January 19, Nonmembers $10 before January 19. Nonmembers and members $15 after January 19.



New Orleans Funeral Jazz Band
Susan Doran,

I am seeking a New Orleans-style jazz band to play at a mock funeral procession and rally on January 20, in Washington, DC, to coincide with Inauguration Day. The March and Rally are organized by The National Mourning Day Project — a broad-based coalition of political, artist, and theater groups from Washington, DC, New York, and Boston. The pre-March rally will convene at Dupont Circle at 9 a.m. The legal, permitted march will leave Dupont Circle and make its way to McPherson Square at 11 a.m.

If you know a band that can play New Orleans-style funeral jazz, please contact (296-4849). We have a very small budget, but should be able to offer something in the way of remuneration.


Secretary and Legal Secretary
Jon Katz, jon at

Secretary, bilingual Spanish-English (complete fluency), Silver Spring, MD. Full time or part time (all Thursday and Friday at minimum.). Junior secretary/receptionist or full secretary. Unlimited career and pay growth potential. Highly-ranked, caring and friendly law firm in the news seeks bright team member thriving on fast pace. Paid parking/Metro and training.

Legal Secretary, Silver Spring, MD. Do you seek a pay and benefits boost and unlimited career growth at a highly-ranked caring and friendly trial firm in the news? Are you experienced in litigation, bright and efficient, and thrive on a fast pace? Join us now. Bilingual Spanish a plus. Marks & Katz, fax 301-495-8815,



DC Registers Available
Betty Ann Kane,

I have a complete set of the DC Register from January 1997 through March 2003 that I would donate to any interested organization or firm that will come and pick them up (on Capitol Hill). The Register is online now, but back issues before 2003 are not. Please let me know by Thursday or they will go in the trash.



Door Gym
Edward Cowan,

Door Gym for Fitness at home. Adjustable doorway bar for pull-ups. Also can be used for push-ups. New in box. $20. 686-6712.



Housing to Share
April Wimes,

A group house in the burbs. Share living, dining, laundry, parking. We have no furniture (the last roommate owned the furniture). The room is sunny and fairly large. Three males and one female currently reside. $660 plus 1/5 utilities. Located two blocks west of Connecticut and four blocks east of Friendship Heights. E-mail


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