Please forgive me for riding my own hobbyhorse, but I want to alert
those who may be interested that the Board of Elections and Ethics will
be holding two hearings to close out matters relating to last year’s
slots initiative. Last December, months after the BOEE rejected the
petition submitted for this initiative, Clint Howard, a former employee
of Stars and Stripes, the company that circulated the very petitions
with which the Board found massive irregularities, moved to DC, assumed
control of the "Citizens Committee for Video Lottery
Terminals," and circulated what he claimed were supplemental
petitions. This Wednesday, at 10:00 a.m., in its offices at 441 4th
Street, NW, the BOEE will hold a hearing to determine whether any of the
Citizens Committee’s actions after its petition was rejected violated
the election laws, and whether to assess penalties for these violations.
Next month, on March 10, the BOEE will hold a separate hearing to
determine what penalties to assess for any violations of the law that
took place last summer, during the Committee’s circulation of the
original, rejected petition.
It’s hard to know now whether the Board will be able to reach
beyond the local figureheads — Pedro Alfonso, Vicky Wilcher, and
Margaret Gentry — who were recruited to give the semblance of local
control, and to hold responsible the funders and real decision makers in
the slots initiative, or whether it will be able to hold responsible the
company that engaged in the deceptive and illegal petition gathering
practices. But at some point, at some time, in some state, a Board of
Elections will have to take the first step to hold responsible the
funders and companies that travel from state to state exploiting
election laws, introducing and often passing self-interested
initiatives. The District of Columbia has a good case, and sufficient
evidence for the culpability of the initiative’s funders and of at
least one petition circulation company. It’s possible that
accountability can begin here.
Federal Properties in DC
Lars Hydle, firstname.lastname@example.org
The President has announced his intention to review the approximately
three thousand federal properties in the District with a view toward
turning them over to the District for local use.
The feds and/or the District government should publish a list and a
map of these properties so that the public can participate in the
decision on which federal properties should be transferred and for what
Two articles in Thursday’s Post brought into clear focus the
type of leadership we currently have in the District. The first article
described how the Club U located in the Reeves Center was being
permitted to reopen, in spite of the recent murder there, because the
owners had agreed to pay the city two years’ advance rent. Pay up and
we look the other way.
The second article was about the on again/off again renovation of the
West Virginia Avenue automobile inspection station. It’s only half
completed even though it was supposed to be finished in 2003. No one in
any city agency could answer the reporter’s questions about who’s in
charge or when things will get moving. Meantime, any number of small
businessmen in the area are watching their savings disappear as they pay
rent on shops with no customers. Maybe they should pool their money and
open a nightclub in the Reeves Center instead.
Last Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Council is
considering reducing the annual real property tax hike (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27370-2005Feb15.html.)
Last year, the Council passed a law increasing taxes 12 percent per
Councilmember Jack Evans had originally proposed a 10 percent cap
last year. But several Councilmembers (most of whom were later thrown
out of office), led by Phil Mendelson, argued instead for a 20 percent
annual tax hike. Let me repeat: Councilmember Mendelson wanted a 20
percent annual tax hike. Chairman Cropp proposed splitting the baby down
the middle with a 15 percent cap. However, thanks to Carol Schwartz’s
clever parliamentary maneuvering, the final compromise was 12 percent.
Fortunately, with this year’s tremendous budget surplus, largely
resulting from the increased property taxes, Councilmember Evans has now
introduced a bill to reduce this annual take hike to a more reasonable 5
percent a year.
Why did Councilmember Mendelson oppose the 10 percent cap, and why
was he quoted in Tuesday’s Washington Post as already opposing
the 5 percent cap? Here it is in a nutshell: Resident A, who lives west
of the river, has a property tax bill of $500. Resident B, who lives
east of the river, has a tax bill of only $100. With a 10 percent tax
reduction, Resident A will receive a $50 cut ($500 x 10%), while
Resident B will receive a $10 cut ($100 x 10 percent). Phil says that’s
not fair, because Resident A’s $50 cut is a larger dollar amount than
Resident B’s $10 cut, even though both residents are obviously getting
the same 10 percent cut! (Not to mention that Resident A is still paying
five times as much tax.) Even a graduate of the DC public schools should
be able to see how ridiculous Phil’s argument is. So which of the
other councilmembers will he again be able to convince with this flawed
logic? Stay tuned.
Michael Bindner, michael at christianleft dot net
The mayor and council have yet another reason to make sure the budget
is balanced. If it is not, the Control Board returns to power, even if
the deficit is due to an economic downturn. Until the act which created
the Control Board is abolished (and the return of Marion Barry to the
council makes this unlikely), the District government will take great
pains to assure a surplus. Add to that the Jack Evans anti-tax coalition
(why he isn’t a Republican, I don’t know), which constantly demands
spending cuts, and it is no wonder that services are lacking.
In Mayor Barry’s last term, he launched a transformation plan to
improve services. Many of these proposals were then considered and
adopted by the Management Reform process, which was a joint effort by
the mayor, council, Control Board and agency directors. Sadly, this
process was not only shelved, it was trashed when the current Mayor took
office. By trashed, I mean the actual reports were thrown out of the
City Administrator’s library and the implementing career staff hired
by the Chief Management Officer was fired. Ultimately, the District gets
the government it elects.
There are two important topics which no one has discussed in themail.
1) Young White Couples. In the past five years thousands of young white
couples have moved into the District. Many of them now have very young
children. When the children reach school age, what will they do -- stay
or leave the District because of the wretched public schools? 2)
Reservation 13. It’s supposed to host in the future a bio-terrorism
unit protected by the DC government, a "world class" hospital
run by Howard University, and town houses that will cost $600,000
apiece. It already has a methadone clinic, the DC jail, and a mental
health facility. Is this combination of uses going to work, or is it
another DC boondoggle?
Blogging as a Community Building Tool
Phil Shapiro, email@example.com
If you’re not so sure how blogging can be used as a community
building tool, check out this message I posted this morning to the
E-mail list of the Digital Divide Network, a group of several thousand
people in different professions sharing ideas for bridging the digital
The message can be viewed in this E-mail list’s public archive at http://shorterlink.com/?9EQ50X.
If anyone in themail community has questions about this, I’m happy
to provide E-mail or phone support to get you blogging. (Gratis.) I can
also provide some guidance on what is appropriate and not appropriate to
blog about. themail is a wonderful community, but it is a pseudo-private
community. People who are not subscribed to themail typically don’t
read messages posted to themail. If you have an interest in civic
affairs, I recommend participating in discussions here in themail, and
also blogging on the web. It’s not an either/or thing.
[Re: “Can’t Sing,” themail, February 16:] Throw in Bob Dylan
and of course someone contemporary in the same vein — Rufus Wainwright
— and you’ve got a deal!
I haven’t heard Durante’s voice in decades — and I don’t
associate him with those old ballads. I associate him with the repartee
I recall from his radio show — fifty or fifty-five years ago, no? He
had a certain style singing, but as a crooner he couldn’t keep up with
Frank Sinatra or Bing. As a teenager I danced to a lot of those ballads
(don’t tell my wife; she thinks I don’t dance), but I think never to
vocals by Jimmy Durante.
Larry Miller, lawrencedotmilleratstarpowerdotnet
You can sing like Louis Armstrong? Somehow I doubt it. Your thought
that he was best known for "comic and novelty songs" is
mistaken. Armstrong sang blues and jazz standards and was immensely
popular for decades based on his singing skills as well as consummate
Perhaps Mr. Howard [themail, February 13] does not live in a
neighborhood with a lot of new development and construction, which could
be why he doesn’t think developers and contractors should be forced to
pay for Emergency No Parking signs.
I live in a neighborhood (Adams Morgan) that has been besieged in the
past few years by developers building new “luxury” lofts and condos.
In addition to demanding all sorts of variances and curb cuts, these
developers also block off huge swaths of curbside parking with Emergency
No Parking signs for months and, in some cases, years at a time. Maybe,
just maybe, if these people were hit in their wallets, they might be a
bit more expeditious in returning the curbside parking back to the
Like P.B. Wolf, I read Clyde Howard’s complaint about Zipcar and
Flexcar in the February 13th issue and was confused. Indeed, in Adams
Morgan, there has been a big flap about Zipcar’s request for
permission to park its “shared” cars on the street. As a
non-car-owning, Zipcar member, I find this very misguided. If I were to
go out and buy a car, I’d have the right to park it on the street.
And, if I were to rent a car from Avis, et al., I’d also have a right
to park it on the street. So, why on earth shouldn’t I be able to join
a shared car service like Zipcar, share a car with folks like P.B. Wolf,
and park it on the street? I think this proposal is a reasonable,
rational public service designed to make a dent in our city’s
spiraling and destructive transportation problems.
For all those who approve of paying for the curb space proposed by
DDot, just let me say that I want to be around when they have to pay the
upfront cost for public space for their wedding party or pay for space
to move their belongings in a truck while Zip Car/Flex Car are getting
reserved parking spaces for free. That is like paying tuition for grade
school, because you are occupying a seat in a government building for
which you have previously paid taxes. Zip Car/Flex Car may suit those
who need short turnaround use, but it’s not the panacea for car usage
for accommodating those who need a car for a long term or for a long
trip, or who need interior space for luggage.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Shaw Main Street, Black History at Phyllis
Wheatley Y, February 22
Alexander M. Padro, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Tuesday, February 22, from 7:00-9:00 p.m., Shaw Main Street’s
annual observance of Black History Month will take place at the Phyllis
Wheatley YWCA, 901 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. Admission is free, and no
reservations are required. The Phyllis Wheatley Club Young Women’s
Christian Association celebrates its centennial year in 2005, and
participants in this year’s celebration will learn about how the
country’s first Black YWCA came to be formed; historic figures
associated with the Phyllis Wheatley Y, including Carter Woodson; the Y’s
namesake, America’s first published poet of color; and an update from
the National Park Service on progress on the creation of the Carter G.
Woodson National Historic Site. For more information, visit http://www.ShawMainStreets.com.
DC Public Library Events, February 23
Debra Truhart, email@example.com
Wednesday, February 23, 6:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial
Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. The Audiovisual Division of the DC
Public Library presents its sixteenth annual African American history
film festival that features documentaries on famous African Americans.
W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices. Public contact: 727-1265.
Wednesday, February 23, 7:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial
Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby. Dr. Joan R. Hillsman will narrate
a program about African American protest songs with performances by the
Bowie State Gospel Choir and Theodore Roosevelt High School Choir. The
Black Studies Division of the DC Public Library sponsors this event as
part of a series of programs in observance of Black History Month.
Public contact: 727-1211.
At Harlem’s Height, February 24
Michael Andrews, firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of the District of Columbia and the Vocal Arts Society
will present “At Harlem’s Height: the New York Festival of Song,”
a musical evening celebrating the Harlem Renaissance. This event will be
held on Thursday, February 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the University’s
Auditorium (Building 46 East) located as Van Ness and Connecticut Avenue
in Northwest Washington. Featuring the music of legends Eubie Blake,
Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, William Grant Still, and W.C. Handy, the
lyrics of this live performance are drawn from the writings of Langston
Hughes, Andy Razaf and Paul Lawrence Dunbar.
The New York Festival of Song was founded in 1988 by its co-artistic
directors, pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier. Barrett and Blier
assemble groups of superior singers appropriate to each of their
projects. The "At Harlem’s Height" concert will feature
tenor Darius de Haas, soprano Dana Hanchard and baritone James Martin.
Tickets are available in several classifications, including a "Arts
Mentor" ticket through which the purchaser can claim a $10.00 tax
deduction to support University of the District of Columbia students.
Ticket prices are arts mentor, $35.00; general admission, $25.00; VAS
members and subscribers, $20.00; students and senior citizens, $15.00.
For information regarding tickets sales, call 274-5954.
Media Events, February 24, 26
Dorinda White, email@example.com
The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Association for
Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC Mid-Atlantic) will host a
mentor breakfast with National Geographic President Laureen Ong on
Thursday, February 24, at 8 a.m. at National Geographic’s Hubbard
Hall. To RSVP, E-mail Dorinda White, VP NAMIC Mid-Atlantic, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women in Film and Video of DC (WIFV-DC) will present the Global
Humanitarian Award at the Celebration Latina Night Gala to Cristina
Saralegui of Univision on Thursday, February 24, at the City Museum, 801
K Street, NW from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Event sponsors General Motors and
Blockbuster will provide Latin food, music (live music from Sin Miedo),
and a VIP Reception will help to raise funds to increase AIDS awareness
in the Hispanic community. To RSVP or for more info, contact Dorinda
White, Board Member/VP Communications, Women in Film and Video, DC at email@example.com.
WIFV-DC will also hold its annual Media Job Fair on Saturday,
February 26, from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. at Atlantic Video, 650 Massachusetts
Avenue, NW (Gallery Place Metro Stop). Recruiters from Discovery
Communications, WJLA Channel 7, NBC 4, Associated Press and others, will
be there to recruit for job openings. Free sessions with a career coach
and entertainment attorneys. Bring your resume, business cards and be
ready to meet face to face with employers! For more info, contact
Dorinda White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS — VOLUNTEERS
English Language Teachers Needed
Phil Shapiro, email@example.com
Language, ETC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing
affordable, high-quality English language instruction and other basic
educational programs to foreign-born adults in the Washington, DC,
metropolitan area, is seeking volunteer English as a second language
teachers and tutors. No prior teaching experience or foreign language
skills required. Further details at http://www.idealist.org/en/events/92304:223/88659:301.
(I’m just the messenger on this one. Please contact the folks listed
in the web site link to RSVP.)
CLASSIFIEDS — FOR SALE
Exercise Machine, Chair, and Wigs
Susan Idziak, firstname.lastname@example.org
Body by Jake Bun and Thigh Rocker with all accessories, like new
condition, $45 or best offer. Rolling desk chair in black/grey tweed
cloth, very good condition, $15 or best offer. Two never-worn
famous-maker ladies wigs: one ash blonde, conservative cut, short
pageboy look; and the other sandy blonde, spunky cut on top,
medium/short length on sides; $10 each or best offer. For pick up in
Silver Spring/Burtonsville area. Call 240-460-3522.
CLASSIFIEDS — DONATIONS
Equal Justice Works Auction, March 24
Rita McKeveny, email@example.com
The Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., Chapter of Equal Justice Works at the
University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is
planning its annual auction to fund summer public interest law
fellowships. This year’s event will take place on March 24 at the
School of Law. We need your help! Your donation can help students, the
school, worthy organizations, and the causes and clients they represent!
Please consider donating auctionable items and attending on March 24! We
are seeking a wide variety of salable items and services. Past donations
have included DVD players, televisions, gift certificates, sports and
theater tickets, restaurant gift certificates, "power lunches"
and use of vacation homes. Your tax deductible donation will add to the
success of the auction, and aid in creating additional fellowships. As
always, any donation you can provide is greatly appreciated.
The UDC-DCSL Rauh Chapter of EJW is a student-run organization
committed to working in and supporting public interest legal work. Each
year EJW sponsors summer fellowships for its members to work full time
in legal positions at public interest organizations that would otherwise
be unpaid. Our funding comes primarily from private gifts, alumni
donations, and monies raised through various events, such as the annual
auction. For more information, please see the online edition of The
Advocate, which features the EJW program at http://www.law.udc.edu/advocate/advocate_fall_2004/page1.html,
and reports from individual students at http://www.law.udc.edu/advocate/advocate_fall_2004/page4.html.
If you require additional information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or our auction chair, Christine Mason Spurgeon, at email@example.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Steven E. Levy, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am “fortunate” enough to live an area (Kalorama Triangle) which
receives complimentary home delivery of the new Examiner
newspaper. Has anyone contemplated the esthetic/environmental impacts of
the widespread distribution of these pink plastic wrappers, which seem
to accumulate in front of several homes in my area? In addition, for
those of us who are careful to suspend delivery of our papers during
vacations, has anyone attempted to induce the Examiner to suspend
delivery to a specific home?
The Charter Versus Public School Debate
Selina Musuta, email@example.com
I am working with six students from Cesar Chavez Charter School on a
radio piece. They have decided to do a piece on the history of their
school but they would also like to include the charter versus public
school debate. I was wondering what people and groups would be good to
talk to concerning that topic.
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 http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/subscribe.htm.
To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org
with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages
are available at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail.
All postings should also be submitted to email@example.com,
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.