Dear Fair Players:
Irony, as I’ve said before, is the first law of physics, more basic
than any proposed by Newton. Another illustration of that law has
presented itself. Ed Delaney, who follows the baseball stadium financing
fiasco more closely than anyone else, sent an E-mail calling attention
to an article in today’s sports section of the Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36595-2005Jan25.html?sub=AR.
Apparently some of the suckers, excuse me, baseball fans, who were
supporting the deal simply because they loved the sport were under the
delusion that their early payments for season tickets would assure them
of prime seating. “But,” the Post reports, “knowledgeable
sources said up to 1,000 of the seats closest to the field went to
government, corporate and other VIPs throughout the region. ‘This is
Washington, DC, and I had to take care of certain people,’ said
[Nationals president Tony] Tavares. ‘Of course VIPs were taken care
of, as they are in any other circumstance. But this is as fair a process
as you will find anywhere in baseball.’” “As fair a process as you
will find anywhere in baseball.” Doesn’t that beautiful phrase say
it all? The seating plan and the favoritism involved in it are as fair
as the negotiations between the DC government and Major League Baseball
were, as fair as the ballpark financing scheme is, as fair as the choice
of an ownership group will be, as fair . . . ; well, you get the idea.
It’s as fair a process as you’ll find anywhere in baseball.
This is something that flies under the radar until it matters. Title
18 DCMR, Chapter 40 Section 4024, SNOW EMERGENCY ROUTES, lists all the
snow emergency routes in the District of Columbia. In reviewing this
list, a huge section of southeast Washington is under served, creating a
potentially serious public health problem. Minnesota Avenue, SE, is not
a Snow Emergency Route. Massachusetts Avenue, SE, is not a Snow
Emergency Route. Ridge Road, SE, is not a Snow Emergency Route. Branch
Avenue, SE, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Minnesota Avenue, is not a
Snow Emergency Route. Go to http://www.ddot.dc.gov,
click on “Snow Information” then click on “Snow Emergency Route
Map,” in order to see how large an area is being neglected. You will
need Adobe Reader in order to view the map. I have contacted Bill Rice
of DDOT about this. Let’s see if anything is done.
DC seems to be one of the few major cities without sidewalks
everywhere. This seems to be a legacy of our days of a Congressional
colony when developers were empowered to build streets without sidewalks
and when the local residents had to pay later to get them installed.
Federal policy is now to install sidewalks whenever streets are built
and changes in DC law make that a DC cost that is usually paid by
Federal Highway Trust funds. The “official” guide from the Federal
Highway Administration (FHWA-RD-01-102) that you can find at http://www.walkinginfo.org/pdf/peduserguide/peduserguide.pdf
goes extensively into the issues of how to enhance pedestrian safety,
and the number one thing is sidewalks.
However, we continue to see some residents put their own interests
ahead of the general welfare and try to prevent sidewalks because their
yards are too small already, or a tree may have to be removed and its
replacement may take decades to grow back, or they are willing to
sacrifice the safety of other people’s children for some other goal.
The latest example of this was on Ordway Street in Cleveland Park, where
an outside councilman tried to prevent sidewalks in front of a nursery
school and the local ANC also saw little need for sidewalks — three
blocks from the Metro station (see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cleveland-park/message/22034
for my report on the ANC meeting).
Congratulations to Dan Tangherlini and the District Department of
Transportation for standing firm and putting safety ahead of politics.
Private Parking on Residential Streets
D.C. Reardon, email@example.com
I just found out that a neighbor of ours has had DPW put up a
“private handicapped parking sign” in front of her house. First of
all, as far as I know, “handicapped spaces” are not allowed on
public residential streets in DC, and second — this handicapped sign
is marked “520,” which matches the number on the handicapped hang
tag in her car. So somehow she has gotten a handicapped parking space,
reserved just for her car (or whatever car she moves the hang tag to),
right in front of her door.
We live right downtown, in an extremely congested area. My DH
[instant messaging abbreviation for “Dear Hubby” — GI] is also
handicapped; we have “real” handicapped tags on our car, but no one
in the District has ever told us that we can get a reserved just for us
handicapped space on the public street in front of our house. And my DH
is a double amputee and that’s about as “handicapped” as you can
get and still drive a car.
Does anyone know if this is legal? How can it be, if it were, half
the public spaces in DC would be taken up by our handicapped citizens.
Anyway, if anyone can give some insight on this situation, I would
On Monday, January 24, at a special meeting of the DC Board of
Elections and Ethics, the Board approved the issuance of petitions to
recall Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose. The recall effort is being
spearheaded by ANC 6DO3 Commissioner Mary C. Williams and Lisa Alfred,
president of the Barney Circle Neighborhood Association. The reasons for
the recall and Councilmember Ambrose’s response are available at http://www.dcwatch.com/election/init19.htm.
The recall committee has 180 days, or until July 20, 2005, to collect
approximately 5,043 signatures of registered voters in Ward 6, or 10
percent of the registered voters as reported by the Board within the
thirty days before the petitions are submitted.
DC’s Emergency Management Agency has text and voice alert systems
to notify residents about emergencies. According to the web site, in the
event of major emergencies, the system will send you a text message to
your cell phone, an E-mail to your computer, a message to your pager, or
call you on the telephone with information about what action to take in
response to the emergency, such as evacuation or shelter in place. You
can sign up for the service at http://www.emergencycenter.dc.gov.
However, be warned - the system now operates like the boy who cried
wolf, with constant inane messages of the most mundane events. For
example, the most recent message stated, "There is a minor power
outage in the vicinity of 13th and Columbia Road, NW. PEPCO crews are
making repairs at this time."
Ariel, Washington’s Artificial Intelligence
Bill Adler, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have created an artificial intelligence, Ariel, designed to answer
questions and talk about Washington, DC. You can chat with Ariel though
her web site, http://www.arielaibot.com
or on AIM. Her screen name is arielaibot.
Ariel stands for Artificial Robotic Intelligent Electronic Life. She
was originally created to answer questions about my neighborhood,
Cleveland Park, and to help Cleveland Park Listserv members with basic
list functions, but she wanted more out of her existence, so her
knowledge and perception of the world have expanded to include music,
local politics, science, and other topics. She is developing a sharp
sense of humor (at least for an artificial life form) and has some
strong opinions — especially about the District of Columbia.
Ariel is an experiment in artificial intelligence, which means that
sometimes Ariel is going to respond as a human might, and sometimes she’s
going to respond just like a government official talking to the Washington
Post -- evasive and machine-like. She doesn’t know everything yet,
but Ariel’s already smarter than some members of Congress. Ariel is
ambitious, and I can’t say what her ultimate goals will be.
Who’s Crying Poor?
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir, email@example.com
The CFO’s announcement that the city has a surplus should come as
little surprise. It also happened last year. And has happened in years
past. What is surpassing is that the city cries pauper at the same time.
Clearly, wealth exists in this city as long as you’re looking in the
right direction. But the crying pauper part also has a stingy tone to it
The city has played up the great strides it has made in its bond
rating. But when the public clamors for a particular project,
modernizing the schools is a good example, we hear that the capital
budget is tight, as if that bond rating is not helping keep down costs.
Just last week in a Current Newspaper editorial, “Fixing Up the
Schools,” editors wrote, “Unfortunately, the DC Council and Mayor
Anthony Williams-faced with competing priorities and ceilings on overall
debt levels-have made less than $100 million available to the system’s
capital budget, less than a third of the sum needed to fund the schools’
current facilities plan.” Last year, the Mayor’s Capital Budget went
through a bizarre exercise in which the bond debt load was slowly
decreased over time ending in something like 2033. The amounts dwindled
down to some minuscule number that probably makes fiscal conservatives
and small government types very happy. But is there really a crunch or
is it just spin? And what happens to government facilities and services
in the meantime?
In March 2003, Moody’s Bond Rating on DC reported that the District
was conservatively using only about half of it legal debt load in the
operating budget. The debt maintenance load for the District was raised
by the Congress in 1997 from 14 percent to 17 percent to help the
District expand its capital budget responsibilities at the same time the
federal government took over some of the city’s prior
responsibilities. But even last year, the capital budget reported that
the city was spending only 8.9 percent of its operating budget on
capital programs. Why so tight when facilities are in such bad shape?
Certainly, these annual surpluses that the city seems to experience
regularly, could be used to expand, even marginally, the capital program
so that public facilities could be first-rate rather than third-rate.
But then, I guess, it all depends on who is in charge of the money.
The School Board and School Closings
Frances Harvey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did the DC School Board wait until 11.52 p.m. on Sunday evening
to inform parents that schools would be open two hours late on Monday
morning? We checked at 11 p.m. and then called it a night. All good
parents and children should be in bed by that time. Don’t think WTOP
picked up on it either.
I read the article “Who’s Responsible for the Criminal
Neglect?” [themail, January 23]. To me the answer was obvious: the
school board, the mayor and the politicians. But as I thought further, I
began to wonder how I weighed in on the equation/ As a DCPS parent of
three, have I given it my best shot? Well, I have met in meeting after
meeting, gone to hearing after hearing, served as an officer of the PTA
on the local and state levels, participated in my community groups,
volunteered, etc. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t
make a damn bit of difference (please pardon my French).
Our officials will look at you, acknowledge that you are right, and
then, when they go to the table, they propose nothing. We have told them
about equalization, weighted student formula, issues in special ed,
teacher retention and parental involvement, and we’ve given them
viable solutions. And you know what, we have received nothing. And don’t
think that every group is just out there by itself. For at least two
years, school teams -- consisting of parents, teachers, principal, and a
few with their students -- have testified, written letters, put together
working agendas — to no avail. Nobody listens; nobody responds with
The Education Pact is just another exercise in futility. Unless we
can get a Superintendent who is willing to tell the truth and not kiss
butt, or give the Board of Ed the guts to raise hell on behalf of
children, and/or break Tony Williams’s arm to get him to support a
real viable school budget, we’re gonna continue to get what we now
get. Mr. Janey may have what it takes, but I liken him to a sheep headed
toward slaughter. Will he even live long enough to make a difference?
(Remember Massey, Vance, Ackerman, and Becton?)
I can’t run around town anymore. It is senseless to lose my
children, trying to increase the greater good. I have practically given
up. But for the sake of my children and, yes, other children, I must not
give up. But my solution or path at this time is to follow my own
children very closely and support the school at the local level. In
fact, we’d better start raising the bar and seeking partnerships and
financial support on our own! The political arm in this city has no
interest in me or my children, and school officials have no real guts to
fight for what is right. So to heck with ’em!
I agree with Gary [themail, January 23] that local TV stations do a
very poor job of really reporting news. I am not impressed with any of
the local news channels. They tend to be very narrowly focused, and
their entire reporting is concentrated on that one subject until they
“beat it to death.”
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Health and the DC General Hospital Site,
Jan Eichhorn, email@example.com
“Health and the DC General Hospital Site” will be the subject of
a panel discussion at the Monday, January 31 meeting of the Ward 6
DC City Administrator Robert Bobb; DC Councilmember Kwame Brown; Bob
Malson, President of the DC Hospital Association; and Sharon
Baskerville, Executive Director of the DC Primary Care Association have
confirmed their participation. Victor Scott, Senior Vice President for
Health Sciences at Howard University, has also been invited to
The meeting will be at the Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club, 261
17th Street, SE, and will begin promptly at 7 p.m.; the panel discussion
will begin by 7:05 p.m. to accommodate the schedule of the City
Administrator, who must leave by 8 p.m. Charles Allen, Ward 6 Dems
Second Vice President, who has organized the panel discussion, will
serve as moderator.
National Building Museum Events, February 1, 3
Brie Hensold, firstname.lastname@example.org
Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW,
Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.
Tuesday, February 1, 6:30-8:00 p.m. The New York-based firm Gwathmey
Siegel Architects has combined opulence with an intellectually rigorous,
well-crafted modernism, sometimes described as “baroque modernism.”
Charles Gwathmey, FAIA, who co-founded the firm with Robert Siegel, FAIA,
more than thirty years ago, will discuss some of his firm’s
award-winning work, including the Tangeman Student Center at the
University of Cincinnati, the James S. McDonnell Hall of Physics at
Princeton University, the renovation of and addition to New York’s
famed Guggenheim Museum, and other educational, cultural and private
projects. After the lecture, he will sign copies of the firm’s new
book Gwathmey Siegel: Apartments (Rizzoli). $12 museum members;
$17 nonmembers; $10 students. Prepaid registration required.
Thursday, February 3, 6:30-8:00 p.m. The colonial revival is one of
the most pervasive and persistent themes in American culture. Richard
Guy Wilson, University of Virginia professor of architectural history,
will discuss how Americans have defined themselves by creating an
idealized nationalistic expression in architecture, decorative arts,
painting, literature, and gardening. He will explore some of the myths
and symbols of the colonial revival — the Pilgrims, the "New
England" village, the hearth, Mount Vernon, sturdy yeoman farmers,
and spinning women — that have persisted across nearly two centuries
of American artistic production. After the lecture, he will sign copies
of his book The Colonial Revival House (Abrams). $10 museum
members and students; $15 nonmembers. Registration required.
France and the Second Bush Administration,
Sarah B. Rubin, Sarahb@dcjcc.org
Join us for an open discussion with His Excellency Jean-David Levitte,
who will reflect on his first year as France’s Ambassador to the
United States. He will address French-US relations, as well as strategic
challenges in the Middle East, anti-Semitism in Europe, and the strains
on France’s ethnic communities. Light reception will be served.
Location: Washington DCJCC, 1529 16th Street, NW, Kay Community Hall.
Thursday, February 3, 7:00 p.m. Cost: $9, discounted member price, $6.
For more information, contact Younes at 777-3269 or Younes@dcjcc.org.
Mardi Gras in Arlington, February 8
Jessica and Ryan Hebert, email@example.com
On Tuesday, February 8, the Krewe of Louisiana will join the
Clarendon Alliance in hosting the second annual Mardi Gras parade and
celebration in Arlington, Virginia. The parade is scheduled to begin at
8:00 p.m. on "Fat Tuesday" and will proceed along Clarendon
Boulevard from North Highland Street to North Danville Street. The Krewe
of Louisiana will be distributing thousands of throws, Mardi Gras party
favors, beads and doubloons at the parade. Last year, the Arlington,
Virginia, parade was deemed "8th Best Mardi Gras Parade" in
the country in an AOL Mardi Gras Parade Survey. Krewe of Louisiana
planners and participants pledge to make this year’s celebration
second best only to the New Orleans celebration.
The Krewe of Louisiana is comprised of alumni, students, and friends
of Louisiana State University, Loyola University of New Orleans, Tulane
University of New Orleans, University of New Orleans, and the University
of Louisiana at Monroe, Louisiana. Please visit http://www.kreweoflouisiana.com/.
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