themail.gif (3487 bytes)

February 2, 2005

Attention Please

Dear Attentive Readers:

Biggest breaking story this week: Mark Segraves’ investigative series on WTOP, which will continue throughout the next several days, on contracting irregularities and favoritism linked to City Administrator Robert Bobb and baseball contracts. The first story, with links that will be updated to all the subsequent stories, is at Councilmember David Catania has already requested that the DC Auditor investigate the contracting:

Councilmember Phil Mendelson has introduced a bill to require political exploratory committees to report their contributions and expenditures, just as though real money and real political influence were involved. The bill isn’t numbered yet, but it’s available at (The address will change when the bill is numbered, with the “a” replaced by the number.) The Washington Post editorialized yesterday that: “Unregulated cash and clean politics don’t mix. Any law that allows political money to be raised under a promise of anonymity should be stricken from the city’s books. . . . The public deserves to know the source of every dollar that is given. And DC voters should pay close attention to how council members vote on Mr. Mendelson’s bill. A no vote is a yes vote for corruption.” ( The issue can’t be put more simply than that. The Post article that outlined the exploratory committee issue was published Monday (

Corrections: the URL address that I gave for the Washington Examiner in the last issue of themail appears to be only for corporate communications; newspaper content is slowly being added to, which will be their web site. Kathy Sinzinger of The Common Denominator wrote to point out that, even though no story about the final results of the Washington Teachers Union election had appeared in the printed newspapers, the Denominator had an online story about it at

Gary Imhoff


National Capitol Medical Center
Eric Rosenthal,

The Ward Six Democrats sponsored a forum Monday night on the National Capitol Medical Center, the Mayor’s proposal to build a new hospital for Howard University on the site of DC General using upwards of $100 million of public funds. The Mayor was represented by Robert Bobb, the City Administrator. Councilmembers David Catania and Kwame Brown spoke at the forum, as did representatives from Howard, the DC Hospital Association and the DC Primary Care Association.

Catania cited overcrowding in emergency rooms as evidence that we need a new hospital. He offered no response to several speakers who pointed out that overcrowding occurs because many patients go to emergency rooms for medical problems that would be better handled in primary care settings. Bobb talked about the new hospital as if it were a fait accompli. While he insisted over and over that he is working to build a new hospital only because the need is demonstrated by “empirical evidence,” he failed to share any of his evidence with the audience.

The DC Hospital Association web site reports that on average 25 percent of acute care hospital beds are unfilled each day. Virtually all morbidity and mortality in the District result from hypertension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases that are best handled by primary care facilities, not by emergency rooms and not by acute care hospitals (and I say this as an emergency room doctor). If our elected officials would focus on people’s health care needs, instead of their own political health, no doubt they would come up with a better use of $100 million than building another hospital in DC.


UDC to Public: Drop Dead
Paul Penniman,

The latest word about the spacious and usually empty UDC pool is: the pool will be open for about fifteen to twenty hours a week, but it will cost the general public $60/month or $200/semester to join as a community member. The woman at the "aquatics office" informed me that the semester is defined as January to May. Considering the pool was closed the entire month of January, and the lackadaisical management there can never guarantee the pool will remain open when classes are not in session (a week in March and the last two weeks in May), I started laughing. She didn’t understand the humor.


Disabled Parking Spaces
James Treworgy,

Mr. Penniman confirms [themail, January 30], though without references, that the practice of setting aside street parking for handicapped plates in residential neighborhoods is legal, and necessary. Whether or not this is the case, I’d like to reiterate the original question: What is the standard? Can anyone with handicapped plates get one? Is this a good thing? There are a great many people in this city with handicapped tags. I suspect most don’t realize they have this tremendous, unused benefit waiting for them. Should the secret get out, I am sure that at least a half-dozen spots, scattered up and down my street, will shortly become unavailable to the general public.

Like any other kind of reserved on-street parking, this is a double whammy. First, because the amount of space taken is greater than that used by a typical car on-street when parking is unrestricted, and second, because the spot will sit empty when it’s not being used by its “owner.” Nobody else can use it. So when they’re on vacation, or at work, or in Florida for the winter, nobody can use it. Mr. Penniman says it’s necessary if you live in a congested neighborhood. I would argue that in a congested neighborhood, the opposite is true — the cost is too high for everyone else. Every reserved spot probably takes away the equivalent two street spots from everyone else, considering the extra size, the fixed position, and the nonuse of the spot when the “owner” is absent.

I am sympathetic to the needs of handicapped folks. But when did driving, and parking on street, in front of your own house in an urban city setting, become a right? What next — will we issue a “right to drive” so that all the handicapped folks who currently take the bus instead of driving at all can join the road warriors? What if there are eight people in a single apartment building who apply for such a spot — will we set aside the entire street? Or does this only apply to wealthier handicapped people who live in single-family houses?


Disabled Parking Spaces
Sharlene Kranz,

DMV and DDOT rules do allow a disabled person to obtain a disabled parking space. The permit number on the street sign erected by DDOT is matched to the permit number on the person’s handicap tag issued by DMV. The space is to be used only by the holder of the handicap tag, not by anyone else, even a family member. To petition DDOT to erect such a sign, the handicap tag holder must get the signatures of 56 percent of his/her neighbors in agreement. The privilege goes with the person, not the car. If any of your readers wish more information on this procedure, please E-mail me directly.


Response to Ed Barron
Gina Kline,

In response to the posting by Ed T. Barron, "The Tilting of Windows" [themail, January 30]: I think it is important for readers to know that the elimination of homelessness in Washington, DC, within the decade, is hardly a “ridiculous and unachievable goal” as Mr. Barron believes.

What makes the goal “ridiculous and unachievable” in our wealthiest nation on earth is individuals who fail to embrace the facts about homelessness and its origins. Mr. Barron alludes to the fact that “homeless people will always be there unless the mental hospitals are reopened.” This comment is shortsighted to say the least. Individuals are homeless for a myriad of different reasons, one of which involves problems caused by mental health related concerns. However, let’s be clear. There are numerous individuals who work every single day without mental health issues, earning a low wage that excludes them from ever obtaining housing in this city of ever-inflated prices and a crisis-like scarcity of affordable housing. These individuals sell concessions at the MCI center, and work in the glossy hue of the newly renovated downtown BID, but will never earn enough money to be truly counted as residents of our city.

Mr. Barron suggests we focus our attention upon more “achievable goals” like improving schools and “educational processes.” However, I wonder if Mr. Barron knows any of the more than nine hundred families that are precariously housed in shelter in the District that often send kids to school who are hungry, have slept in an open room with five other families, or who have stayed awake all night worried about their safety? Perhaps ending homelessness in the District would, in fact, bode well for our “educational processes.”


New City Politics Column
Andrew Lightman, Managing Editor,

Check out “The Nose,” our new city politics column. Now that Loose Lips is defunct, get your DC political fix in The Last Word section of our three papers (The Hill Rag, East of the River, and DC North).



DC Public Library Events, February 7-8
Debra Truhart,

Monday, February 7, 6:30 p.m., Northeast Neighborhood Library, 330 7th Street, NE. Monthly book chats about mysteries. Call for book titles. Public contact: 698-3320.

Tuesday, February 8, 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. Lumumba: Death of a Prophet.


Author to Discuss John Wilkes Booth, February 10
Jerry A. McCoy,

Author Michael W. Kauffman will discuss “American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies” on February 10, at 6:30 p.m., at the DC Public Library’s Washingtoniana Division, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Washington, DC. The event is free. Information 727-1213.


Free Umpire Training Clininc, February 12
Pat Bitondo,

DC Babe Ruth announces that the Regional Umpire in Chief for the National Babe Ruth League will conduct a Free Umpire Training Clinic on Saturday, February 12. The clinic will be held at the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls’ Club #10, located at 2500 14th Street, NW, from 9:00 a.m-3:00 p.m. This clinic is free to individuals sixteen years and older.

High school students between sixteen and eighteen years old: you can start a new career by becoming a Junior Umpire with DC Cal Ripken Baseball and have spring-summer supplemental employment umpiring baseball games for youths aged twelve years and under. A requirement is that you must attend this clinic.

This clinic is open to all interested parties. For further information or to confirm your attendance, contact Gerard Hall, 582-3909, E-mail, or visit the web site at for more information.


Judith Black at Washington Storytellers Theater, February 19
Brad Hills,

Washington Storytellers Theater in association with The National Capitol Area Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and The National Family Caregivers Association is proud to present: Judith Black: Retiring the Champ: Coaching Life’s Last Big Bout, at The City Museum of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, on Saturday, February 19, 8:00 p.m. Ticket price $15 (senior, student and group discount rates available) at the door or in advance by calling 545-6840, or on-line at Street or garage parking nearby (check web site for details). Metro: Red (Chinatown), Green/Yellow (Mt. Vernon / Chinatown), Blue/Orange (Metro Center).

The delightful and moving story of Trina — known also as “the little Pitt Bull” — and her battle with Alzheimer’s. The eldest child of immigrants, teacher, and union organizer in the New York City schools, Trina, at 83, was still throwing punches. With moments of laughter and redemption, this is a story about coaching a feisty prizewinner through her last big bout and her son and caretaker’s journey from angry boy to soulful adult.



Baseball Coaches Needed
Pat Bitondo,

DC Cal Ripken Baseball desperately needs volunteer coaches for youths aged twelve years and under. Anyone interested in coaching or assisting coaches, please contact or telephone Pat Bitondo, 337-2843. Volunteering with youth activities in DC are very rewarding.



Used Computer
Julie Adrian,

My computer was stolen and I need a quick replacement.



Two Persian Cats Need a Permanent Home
Tedd Appel,

Two Persian cats seek a permanent home. Both are neutered and up-to-date on all shots and ready to go to their new home. You can see pictures of Matt and Mr. Boots and read their stories at This is not a “free to good home” ad but rather a foster placement for the Washington Humane Society.



Mary Chiantaretto,

We need to paint the exterior of our house and we will appreciate suggestions regarding people who can do a good job


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the subscription form at To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available at

All postings should also be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)