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January 23, 2005

The Only Story

Dear Story Tellers:

It’s snowy, it’s cold, and schools are closing. On days like this, local television and radio stations are reduced to this single story, although newspapers can still fill their pages with wire service stories of real news from warmer climates. For those of us living here, brain freeze sets in, and we’re unable to think seriously, much less act seriously enough to cause news to occur. That’s my excuse, at least, for not fulminating in this issue of themail about some recent misdeeds of city government.

I made the mistake of watching a couple episodes of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon on DVD last night, but the similarity between the frozen Yukon and Columbia Heights was so discouraging I couldn’t finish the entire disk. In any case, many thanks to those of you who soldiered on through the snow, the cold, the school closings, and the government holidays to send your messages to themail. Please keep sharing.

Gary Imhoff


Who’s Responsible for the Criminal Neglect?
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir,

Back in November, before an inkling of this year’s DCPS budget proposal had come out, an Education Compact retreat was held in Warrenton. Some folks were suspicious of the closed door meeting, which was put together by Fannie Mae, whose recently resigned CEO, Franklin Raines, is also a director of the Washington Baseball Club. The result of the meeting was that the parties involved would work together. But towards what was unknown. One public schools advocate, Marc Borberly, who has run the web site, refused to participate in the closed door meetings claiming it lacked transparency and public access.

Now that DCPS has put out its budget, the city knows what the attendees of those meetings agreed to: quietly continuing the status quo. The proposed DCPS budget ( doesn’t keep up with the Consumer Price Index, not to mention the drastic increases in the cost of housing or health care in the region. There is no strategic planning to withdraw the city from the special education quagmire it is in, which absorbs 30 percent of the public school budget. Meanwhile, schools are in deplorable conditions. Teachers have too many students and not enough resources. The buildings are falling apart around the students. Programming is being cut back by adminstrators who have been told to hold the line. Many students are just moving along unprepared for the next year as they were for the year before.

Shortly after the Education Compact retreat, Superintendent Janey was quoted in the Post claiming the state of the schools showed “criminal neglect” ( Before going to that same retreat, Mayor Williams said to the city in the Washington Times, “I will readily admit to everybody that my record on that is questionable, and I’m being kind. . . . My record on schools [is that] I was flaky” ( Now, two months later, the no-growth schools budget is in the Mayor’s court, as he prepares to hold hearings and pass his rendition of it on to the council. Accordingly, observers should not be surprised if the Mayor and his allies choose “criminal neglect” over improving the public schools. The school board president said in the Post a couple weeks ago, “We were given a mark by the mayor. We were told it would be basically a waste of our time to exceed the mark. . . . In the past, we’ve been beaten up for exceeding the mark. . . .” (


Trish Chittams,

While assisting an out-of-town genealogist, I contacted the Washingtoniana Division of the Martin Luther King Library in search of a yearbook for Armstrong High School. I learned that the Library has no yearbooks for Armstrong, nor for Dunbar. They have a few of McKinley Tech’s, but that’s all. I was really surprised that there weren’t any yearbooks for any of these schools.

So here’s the plea. When spring cleaning arrives, please think of the Washingtoniana Division and make a donation. They cannot grow without donations. Without donations, amateur genealogists cannot locate information about their families. Please contact Ms. Karen Blackman-Mills, who is the Chief Librarian for the Washingtoniana Division, at 727-1213 for more information.


Nothing Inappropriate about Brown’s Campaign Expenses
Jamie Kendrick, Service Employees International Union,

As one of the major contributors to Kwame Brown’s campaign for city council At-Large councilmember, I must say that we are stunned by the recent reporting and reaction to his campaign expenses – not because there is anything inappropriate about how Kwame’s funds were used, but because a) we really don’t see what the news is, b) we don’t see what difference it makes, and c) it was fairly common knowledge throughout the campaign.

SEIU members, through their several local unions and through individual contributions, contributed more than $4,000 to Kwame Brown’s campaign. We expected nothing in return (other than to beat the pants off Harold Brazil, who repeatedly stood in the way of social and economic justice initiatives for working families.) We knew full well that Kevin McGhaw, his campaign manager, and Che and Marshall Brown, his family members/field coordinators, were working without any compensation throughout the entire campaign, including many times not even reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses like gas, meals, etc. We also knew that if Kwame won the Primary, he would be able to raise additional funds and reimburse Kevin, Che, and Marshall for some (a fraction, really) of their time and value. Perhaps it is because we were so close to Kwame during the campaign, but we fail to see the news. Next time, the reporters ought to ask the contributors how they feel about the use of their funds -- fairly common practice in reporting on campaign finance issues.

The members of the Service Employees International Union in the District of Columbia stand by Kwame Brown.



DC Public Library Events, January 27, 29
Debra Truhart,

Thursday, January 27, 1:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 221. Something Novel Book Club. Read and discuss The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Public contact: 727-1295.

Thursday, January 27, 6:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 307. Kickoff party for 100th anniversary of the Washingtoniana Division at the D.C. Public Library. This event will mark the start of a yearlong series of programs, exhibits and publications celebrating one the most extensive collections of materials about the District of Columbia. The collection includes items about the District’s history, society, architecture, natural history, people, politics, law and government. Two exhibits, Treasures of Washingtoniana and Washingtoniana Then and Now: The First 100 Years, will be on view from January 10 through April 10 in the Division. Public contact: 727-1213.

Saturday, January 29, 2:00 p.m., Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, 5625 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Author and dancer Chan Park will discuss his new book, Tango Zen: Walking Dance Meditation. Program includes a demonstration and a book signing. Sponsored by Friends of the Chevy Chase Branch Library. The D.C. Public Library is not responsible for, nor does it endorse, health information given to participants during the program. Public contact: 282-0021.


National Building Museum Events, January 29-30
Brie Hensold,

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

Saturday, January 29, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Government Girls of World War II. This film, narrated by Cokie Roberts, tells the story of the young women who flocked to Washington, DC, during the 1940s mobilization for World War II. The film complements the exhibition Washington: Symbol and City. Free. Registration not required.

Sunday, January 30, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Flying in the Great Hall. Learn about model airplanes as members of the DC Maxecuters fly their planes in the Museum’s Great Hall. Watch rubber band-powered free flight model airplanes soar in a series of launches throughout the day. Free. Drop-in program. Appropriate for all ages.

Sunday, January 30, 12:00-3:30 p.m. Breezy Bird Kite. Create a kami-tsubame, meaning “paper sparrow.” This Japanese flying toy will twist and turn when it flies through the air. Presented in conjunction with Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today. $3 per project. Drop-in program. Appropriate for all ages.



Dinette Set and Stuff
Joann Clark,

Nice light oak and white wood dining/kitchen table with four chairs, outdoor mailbox with post, and ceiling fan fixture (no blades), all in good condition. No charge, however you must pick up all items before Saturday, January 29.



Beautiful Calico Ready for Adoption
Pat Yates,

Dolly, a recent resident at the DC Animal Shelter but now living in my foster home, is a two-year-old, happy, sweet, affectionate lap cat. Her previous owner gave Dolly to the shelter because she thought that Dolly was sucking the breath from the owner’s new baby. Au contraire! Dolly brings life, she doesn’t take it. This is a truly fine house cat, made even cuter by a tail that was accidentally bobbed to two-thirds length, soft, long fur with beautiful markings, and a slight resemblance to Carol Channing.

Call 265-2855) or E-mail if you might like to come meet her. You can see her picture, and the pictures of other wonderful cats and dogs ready for adoption, on



Repairs, Restoration, and Renovation
Romes Calhoun,

There have been a number of times that inquiries have been made from subscribers to the newsletter about good people found who are reliable and provide quality work. I have found such a person who is currently doing work on my house. His name is Dennis Mosley and can be reached at 703-527-9514 or by e-mail at  His web site is


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