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January 30, 2005


Dear Commentators:

There are many things to call to your attention this week, so I won’t comment on any of them; make up your own comments. The rebel, anti-corruption slate won the Washington Teachers Union election, and the election marked the end of the American Federation of Teachers supervision’ of the local union. Although the local papers haven’t covered it yet, the AFT online newsletter has a brief article on it this week:

The Washington Examiner, the new free daily tabloid newspaper, starts publishing on Tuesday. It will be available in street boxes, and you will get free door-to-door delivery if you live in an expensive enough neighborhood. Its web site, which will be at, isn’t up yet, but Harry Jaffe has written the best story about their business plan:

The DC Pulse, the new “urban arts and entertainment” magazine, does have a web site:

A recent report on red light cameras by the Virginia Transportation Research Council for the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Transportation found decidedly mixed results: “Further the data show that the cameras are correlated with a definite decrease in crashes that are directly attributable to red light running, a definite increase in rear-end crashes, a possible decrease in angle crashes, a net decrease in injury crashes attributable to red light running, and an increase in total injury crashes.” The abstract, at, has a link to the full report.

Ex-Councilmember Kevin Chavous has become a Distinguished Fellow with the Center for Education Reform, an organization that promotes charter schools, and the Center announced last week that the Sonnenschein law firm, where Chavous is a staff attorney, is creating its own charter school, the Legacy Charter School, in Chicago:

Gary Imhoff


Return the Budget Surplus to the Homeowners
Matt Forman,

As the Washington Post reported, the city has yet another budget surplus ( At the beginning of every year, the city’s Chief Financial Officer claims that the sky is falling, but by the end of each year, he announces a surplus. No doubt, a large part of the surplus was derived from massive real property tax increases paid by residents over the past few years. The article mentions that part of the surplus will fund reductions in income tax — a paltry reduction from 9.3 percent to 9.0 percent, resulting in a savings of $150 for $50,000 of income, which pales in comparison to the real estate tax burdens homeowners have had to bear. In many cases, real estate taxes have doubled, resulting in an increase in payments of hundreds to thousands of dollars per homeowner per year. But since the income tax reduction applies to all incomes over $30,000, this means that the surplus will be spread to non-homeowners who shared no part of the increased property tax burden. The money should be rightfully paid back to the people who paid it in the first place.


Tilting at Windmills
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

Mayor Williams has announced a goal to eliminate homelessness in the next decade. What a ridiculous and unachievable goal. To begin with, homeless people will always be there unless all the mental hospitals are reopened. To spend money and resources on this hopeless cause takes that money and the resources away from more attainable goals, like improving the schools and the educational processes. Stop tilting at windmills, Tony, or buy my horse, Rosinante.


US Public Opinion About Equal Rights for DC Updated
Mark David Richards, contact at markdavidrichards dot com

Just before the turn of the century in 1997 and 1999 (so long ago), I conducted national opinion research to learn a little bit about awareness and opinions on DC political rights. The research was published at in April 2000. Public Perspective magazine also published a summary article at

Now we have updated information. DC Vote commissioned the national study of 1,000 US adults to update the trend questions and to expand on what we learned before. We found that support for equal Congressional voting rights has increased since 1999, to 82 percent today. For the first time, we have a measure of awareness for all adults: 78 percent think DC citizens already have the right to vote in the Senate and House, and 4 percent are not sure. (Previously, I only had awareness data among college graduate voters.) Today, 18 percent of US adults are aware that DC does not have equal Congressional voting rights. Those who have visited the District are more aware than others. We also found support for DC budget autonomy and tested reasons for supporting DC voting rights. To see the report, visit

Spencer S. Hsu wrote about the poll last week: For comparison, he provided historical data in his article. DC Vote held a voting rights forum on Tuesday, which Tom Sherwood wrote about: Tom Toles crafted an astute editorial cartoon on the topic, see: On Thursday, Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) joined D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce the No Taxation Without Representation Act of 2005: WTOP covered the story, see: The Deseret Morning News,,1249,600107571,00.html, and The Puerto Rico Herald,, offered commentary. published the results here: Ilir Zherka of DC Vote wrote about Baghdadis and Washingtonians in The Globalist: The Globalist is conducting an unscientific readership poll on DC voting rights on its web site: For other media coverage, see (The topic was not discussed on the DC Politics Hour.)


Interactivity at the Washington Post
Phil Shapiro,

The Washington Post is doing a fabulous job increasing the interactivity it has with its readers. Here’s one example from the religion section: "Do you believe there are religions other than your own that offer a path to God? E-mail responses of 100 words or less to and include your name and telephone number."

Next up? Explain in haiku form your views both supporting and opposing Social Security reform.


Disabled Parking Spaces
Paul Penniman,

It is absolutely legal to procure a disabled parking space in front of your house, and it is necessary if you live in a congested neighborhood. I have seen such a space on Upton Street, NW, although to my knowledge anyone with a disabled tag may use the space. Of course, it is unlikely any disabled person other than the homeowner would want to.


The Usual Suspects Show Their Usual Backsides
Dorcas Dessaso,

I made up my mind at the end of last year that I was not going to read any more stories about the baseball fiasco, but I could not help but laugh my ass off when I read about those poor suckers (oops, I mean baseball fans) who had the nerve to believe they were going to get “prime” seats in the upcoming games [themail, January 26]. Did they forget where they were? This is the “butt-kissing capitol” of the world! It’s all who you know and unless you know Mr. Tavares you don’t count! HAHAHAHAHA . . . still laughing my ass off!


DC Text Alert System
Ralph J. Chittams, Sr.,

Matt Forman wrote [themail, January 26] that the DC Text Alert system now operates like the boy who cried wolf, with constant inane messages of the most mundane events. I respectfully disagree. While the alerts may not have pertained to earth-shattering events, like a terrorist attack, they are helpful. Since January 21, the four messages from DC Text Alert have been: a winter storm warning (January 21), reporting on the status of the snow emergency (January 22), a wind chill advisory (January 24), and the minor power outage (1/25). Just presenting the other side.


Bus Shelter
Sharlene Kranz, Office of Councilmember Kwame R. Brown,

Cecilio Morales wrote last week [themail, January 12] inquiring about the bus shelter on Connecticut Avenue across from the Regency House seniors building. According to Alex Eckmann at DDOT, the shelter at Connecticut Avenue and Huntington Parkway has been replaced.


Local TV Stations and News
Harold Goldstein,

Several complain about the quality of local news. Having Baltimore local news for over a year now (since we live about 300 feet into Howard County, Direcway considers us Baltimore oriented) makes me appreciate how good the local news in DC actually is in comparison to most markets.



DC Public Library Events, February 1, 2, 3
Debra Truhart,

Tuesday, February 1, 4:00 p.m., Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW. A Black History Month program that will include a discussion and reflections on the life and literary contributions of African American writer Langston Hughes. Young adults. Public contact: 541-6100.

Wednesday, February 2, 12:00 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. The Audiovisual Division of the D.C. Public Library presents its sixteenth annual African American history film festival that features documentaries on famous African Americans. Richard Wright: Black Boy. 6 p.m.: Elijah Muhammad and Marcus Garvey.

Wednesday, February 2, 1:00 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW., Second Floor East Lobby. Poetry Read Here! DC Public Library staff will read their favorite poems. Public contact: 727-1281.

Thursday, February 3, 12:00 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Brown Bag Recital Series. Cellist Vassily Popov and pianist Ralitza Patcheva perform music by Haydn, Mozart and Rinaldo Hahn. Public contact: 727-1285.

Thursday, February 3, 2:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 221. The Piano Lesson, a play by August Wilson, will be discussed. Public contact: 727-1281.

Thursday, February 3, 7:00 p.m. Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library, 3160 16th Street, NW. Punto Vivo Series: Heart Like a Drum: Love in African American Poetry, a poetry reading exploring the concept of romantic love in African American poetry. Hosted by Melanie Riviera and featuring three local writers. Includes open mic and refreshments. Public contact: 671-0200.


National Building Museum Events, February 1, 3, 6, 12
Briana Hensold,

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

Tuesday, February 1, 6:30 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 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.

Sunday, February 6, 1:00 p.m. In this seldom seen film Antonio Gaudi (1984, 72 min.), Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara takes viewers on a grand tour of the Catalan architect’s enchanting and eccentric work. With a minimum of narration, Teshigahara uses expressive camerawork and evocative music to capture the whimsy and fantasy of Gaudi’s designs. To introduce the film, Guido Francescato, professor of architecture, University of Maryland, will discuss Gaudi and his influence on such artists as Picasso, Miró, and Dali. $8 Museum members and students; $10 nonmembers. Registration required.

Sunday, February 6, 2:00 p.m. Visit the exhibition Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today and explore how culture, climate, location, and natural resources affect the way people live. Afterwards, build a model of a traditional Japanese house. $7 per house for Museum members; $10 nonmembers. Ages 8 and up. Registration required.

Saturday, February 12, 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Special bus tour of the restoration of James Madison’s Montpelier. Located in Orange County, Virginia, the Montpelier mansion, home of James Madison, fourth president of the United States, is undergoing a major, four-year restoration that will return the structure to the size, form, and furnishings that James and Dolley Madison knew in the 1820s. A major part of the restoration involves removal of additions to the mansion by owners after Madison’s death in 1836. In an exclusive tour, Alfredo Maul, associate director of architectural research for The Montpelier Foundation, will lead an extensive, behind-the-scenes tour explaining the archaeological and architectural research underlying the restoration. Tour participants will also see recreations of two Madison rooms from Montpelier and other furniture and decorative arts on exhibit at the education center. Open only to Museum members, $70. Fee includes roundtrip bus transportation from the Museum, box lunch, and admission fees. Prepaid registration required and must be received by February 4. Limited space available. To become a member, visit or call 202 272-2448.


Public Hearing on a Cultural Hub in Greater Shaw/U Street, February 22
Chris Bender,

The District of Columbia Government’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and the Office of Planning (OP) will conduct a public hearing to receive comments on DUKE: Draft Development Framework for a Cultural Destination District within Washington, DC’s Greater Shaw / U Street. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, February 22, at 6:00 p.m., at Florida Avenue Baptist Church, Fellowship Hall, 623 Florida Ave., NW. Each individual or representative of an organization who wishes to present testimony at the public hearing is requested to furnish his or her name, address, telephone number, and name of organization represented (if any) by calling 442-8964 no later than 12 p.m., Thursday, February 17. All oral presentations will be limited to five minutes. Written statements may be submitted for the record until the conclusion of the public hearing.

DUKE addresses the redevelopment of key public-owned buildings and land, including the Howard Theater and Grimke School on Vermont Avenue, National Capital Revitalization Corporation’s Parcels 33 & 42, Metro’s Shaw Parcels and private parcels in the 7th Street/Georgia Avenue and U Street/Florida Avenue commercial corridors. DUKE will guide will District agencies and commissions on the development of affordable housing, local businesses, cultural facilities and programming, transportation and traffic, zoning, and local resident participation. While the plan calls for five to ten years of development, it plans outline how to achieve progress sooner rather than later. Once public comment ends, the District will submit DUKE to the Council for approval.

A copy of DUKE is available on the OP website at under “Project Summaries.” Individuals may also request a copy of DUKE by E-mailing or calling Kevin Brady, Staff Assistant at OP, at. or 442-8964. Forward written comments to or via fax to 727-6703. Mail comments to Derrick Lanardo Woody, Project Manager, Office of Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 317, 20004.


AARP 2005 Legislative Forum
Tony Copeland,

Older District residents had a roller-coaster political year in 2004. And we face new challenges in 2005. If you’d like to get a better understanding of the issues facing older District residents in 2005, and how the new Congress and Council will likely respond to the issues AARP members care about, please join AARP DC for a legislative forum on Friday, February 25, 12:00-3:00 p.m., at Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW (corner of Connecticut and McKinley Street). Free parking and a free box lunch will be provided.

Participants will include Mike Naylor, AARP Advocacy Director; Tom Nelson, AARP Chief Operating Officer; Mimi Castaldi, AARP DC Director; Romaine B. Thomas, AARP DC President; Mark Plotkin, WTOP political commentator and analyst; and Bruce DePuyt, Host of “News Talk,” NewsChannel 8 To reserve a seat and box lunch, please call 1-877-926-8300 by February 21.



Tutors List
Faith Williams,

At our library on the Hill, we get occasional requests for tutors. We have an organization in our files that offers tutors for adults; we’d like to have a list of volunteers who tutor children. Failing that, a list of tutors for pay would be helpful as well.


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