themail.gif (3487 bytes)

February 23, 2005

Coming and Going

Dear Go-Getters:

I’m starting themail late tonight, so I’ll be brief. Dorothy and I were out all day at the Board of Elections and Ethics. As I wrote on Sunday, the Board was going to hold a hearing today on whether to penalize the slots initiative proponents for circulating and submitting additional petition sheets after their initiative petition had already been rejected for having insufficient signatures. At 10:00 a.m., the Board met and announced that they had reached an agreement “in principle” with the initiative committee, and that they would reconvene at 3:00 p.m. to release that agreement. So from 3:00 p.m. on, a small hearty band of us waited in the Board’s conference room until they actually finished the agreement and released it at 10:30 p.m. Long story short: the slots committee will pay a $100,000 fine for election law violations that it committed in December, circulating the additional petitions, and it still has to face a penalty hearing next month for the more serious violations it committed when it circulated the original petitions last summer.

Secondly, my own call for recommendations. I’m trying to persuade Dorothy to move our telephone service to VoIP (voice over Internet protocol). Does anyone have a success story about using Vonage or Lingo or any other VoIP company that I can use to convince Dorothy, or a story about poor service or phone quality from a VoIP company that Dorothy can use to convince me?

Third, Wendy Blair gives a good example below of how “they get us coming and going.” What’s your favorite example of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” in DC? Please share it with us.

Gary Imhoff


They Get Us Coming and Going
Wendy Blair,

The DC Office of Tax and Revenue has a new January 2005 law under which any citizen who turns out to have underpaid income tax owed for 2004 income will be fined. The apparent aim is to get more people to pay quarterly withholding taxes on income. Under an earlier law, which has been in effect for a long time, any overpayment of DC income tax, refunded in one year, is taxed as income the following year.


Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Business as Usual
Richard Layman,

The speed of the architect selection process, a seeming unconcern for urban design and connecting to the broader community, make me concerned that the baseball stadium construction process is merely going to be round two in the steam rolling Washington for baseball. The Sunday February 6 Post has an article, “DC Seeks Signature Ballpark,”, which says, “But don’t expect a throwback stadium such as Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which started a ballpark building boom in 1992, with its red-brick facade, ornate ironwork and historic warehouse. ‘We do not want to see just another baseball stadium,’ said Allen Y. Lew, chief executive of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission. ‘We want signature architecture. We’re not looking to just mimic other cities.’”

All too often, “signature architecture” means “modernism” and too often modernism is about architecture as art rather than as connection of buildings to people and making places that we can be proud of and even love. But it gets worse. Today’s Post has two articles about the stadium. The first, “8 Bid to Design Nationals’ Stadium: Architects to Oversee Timetable and Budget for Construction,”, has this line: “Major League Baseball, which owns the Nationals, wants a facility designed to draw large crowds and to offer attractions that encourage them to spend money inside the ballpark.” This is a major “economic development” issue with MCI Center. The arena’s owners schedule events at times so soon after work that people go directly to the arena, and eat and spend the bulk of their money inside. Spillover economic benefits aren’t that significant — or is having chain restaurants like Hooters, Coyote Ugly, Ruby Tuesday, and others a big win for the city?

Philip Bess, an architecture professor at Notre Dame, is the author of City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. His work makes the point that today’s baseball stadiums are outrageously expensive and provide neither intimacy nor a sense of community comparable to the classic neighborhood ballparks (like old Memorial Stadium). Retro or not, today’s stadiums are conceived as suburban buildings. They are a drain on taxpayers, they yield seating arrangements that are worse for the average fan in the upper deck, have high ticket prices, and they tend to destroy the physical and spatial fabric of cities. But most of these liabilities can be ameliorated by once again understanding the baseball park as an urban building subject to the physical constraints of urban networks of streets and blocks. Clearly, urban city-oriented design isn’t in the program for DC, if this line represents the prevailing attitude about baseball as the driver of economic development and revitalization of the Anacostia waterfront: “Herb Miller, a major retail developer in the city who has submitted a plan to use private financing to pay for the stadium and build big-box stores on land around the stadium. . . ” (

Professor Bess offers us these eight imperatives for traditional neighborhood baseball parks: 1) think always of ballpark design in the context of urban design; 2) think always in terms of neighborhood rather than zone or district; 3) let site more than program drive the ballpark design -- not exclusively, but more; 4) treat the ballpark as a civic building; 5) make cars adapt to the culture and physical form of the neighborhood instead of the neighborhood adapting to the cars; 6) maximize the use of preexisting on- and off-street parking, and distribute rather than concentrate any new required parking; 7) create development opportunities for a variety of activities in the vicinity of the ballpark, including housing and shopping; 8) locate non-ballpark specific program functions in buildings located adjacent to rather than within the ballpark itself. In closing, he tells us that, “It is possible to make new ballparks that are neighborhood friendly and generate equivalent revenues as current industry standard stadia, for about 2/3 the cost. . . .” If this process has taught us one thing, it’s that the old adage is true: “haste makes waste.” Hopefully, there is still time to get this process on track in a way that will provide great architecture and great connection in a way that is truly urban. (More information and links on my blog at


Ballpark as Detention Center
Ed Delaney,

From the Washington Business Journal, (   “‘We’re trying to balance the desire to move people in and out with the idea that we want people out on the street,’ says Steve Green, director of development in the DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.” Translation: we bluffed our way past our transportation problems and are now seeking any spin we can to cover ourselves! Outrageous.

“The new plan, officials acknowledge, might create a logjam on sold-out game days that could keep hundreds or even thousands of fans milling about South Capitol Street and the surrounding area.” Don’t you like this idea of trapping people at an event that can run three to four hours for some economic development goal? “Come, let us Shanghai you at the Anacostia waterfront until your pockets are empty!” I’m sure families already facing a long trek home will love having to wait around after a game, say at 11 p.m. or midnight, because Steve Green and Herb Miller haven’t squeezed enough dough out of them! Pathetic; just when you think this despicable group of schemers can’t hit a new low, they pull something like this.


Brilliant Snipe — Not
Ed Dixon,

Last issue a contributor came up with the argument that “even a graduate of the DC public schools should be able to see how ridiculous Phil’s argument is.” I could easily go on about the snobbery involved in this commentary, but Gary might cut me short. Nor is it my place to take on the snooty cocktail humor that passes for high class in this town. However, let me say that the comment shows how little education folks require in order to make erudite arguments on property tax levels and then stoop to the level of picking on high school students. Contact me directly, and I can introduce you to a lot of DCPS students, not graduates, who are not only bright but have better manners than you. As for graduates, you might want to check with Warren Buffet on how DCPS served his math skills.



DC Public Library Events, February 24-27
Debra Truhart,

Thursday, February 24, 12:00 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Contralto Juanita Jackson and pianist Elizabeth Fountain honor the legacy of spirituals with a performance that includes the poetry of African American writers with historical narration. 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.

Thursday, February 24, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 307. Local author Dianne Dale will discuss her book, Historic Hillsdale: Anacostia’s Invisible Black Community. Public contact: 727-1213.

Sunday, February 27, 2:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby. Dance Depot will present a tribute to Black History Month through dance, music and literature. 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.


DC Film Society’s 13th Annual Oscars Party, February 27
Ky Nguyen,

Watch the 2005 Oscars broadcast live on the big screen, hosted by local film critics Joe Barber and Bill Henry. “And the Winner Is” attendees get to enjoy the casual comfort of an Art-Deco theater with affordable food and drink (cash only), fabulous film door prizes and trivia contests, a “Predict the Winners” contest, and the best Silent Auction ever!

Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA. Doors open at 7:15 p.m.; $20 tickets on sale at the door at 6:30 p.m. (cash/check only). Call 554-3263. Http://


Town Hall Meeting, March 5
Martina Gillis,

Do you ever feel that you should have a say on Policy and Budget decisions made by DC’s elected officials? So do we! Come tell elected and government officials what the people’s priorities are for the District. Saturday, March 5, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., True Reformer Building, 1200 U Street, NW.

Come insert your voices into the Budget process! Child care and food provided. RSVP for child care, 328-5513. For more information contact or 328-5513; fax: 328-5515. Cosponsors: Fair Budget Coalition, Legal Aid Society of DC, Consortium of Legal Services Providers, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, The Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, Capitol Hill Group Ministries, Empower DC, The ARC of DC, DC Hunger Solutions, Tenant Action Network, Sasha Bruce Youthwork, Our Place, DC, Center for Nonprofit Advancement, DC Action for Children, Urban Housing Alliance, Gray Panthers of Metropolitan Washington, Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care Healthy Families/Thriving Communities Collaborative Council, Washington City Church of the Brethren.


UDC Community Day, March 22
Michael Andrews,

The only public university in the nation’s capital, the University of the District of Columbia, is setting aside a day for area high school sophomores, juniors and seniors to inform them about the outstanding educational opportunities that exist at the University of the District of Columbia. On Tuesday, March 22, UDC, the nation’s only urban land-grant university, is inviting students and their families, principals, counselors, teachers, school board members, city council members, local clergy, and other members of our community to visit the university’s campus in Northwest Washington for their second annual UDC Community Day.

Last year more than 900 students attended this event, which was the highlight of the academic year on the University’s campus. This day-long celebration to showcase the University, its academic degree and non-degree programs, faculty accomplishments, student life, alumni, and other exciting programs available to students seeking higher education is becoming a tradition. UDC Community Day presents an excellent opportunity to prospective students to explore the more than 75 different academic offerings at the university, while getting a firsthand taste of the college atmosphere.

UDC Day kicks off with a program in the University Auditorium at 10:00 a.m. Festivities for the general public will begin at 12:00 noon, with events scheduled until 7:00 p.m. Officials from every department and program will give prospective students detailed information on the University’s academic programs in a fun-filled and entertaining setting. Guests can expect a day of music, song and dance. Local radio and television personalities will be on hand, and guests can also attend a healthy living fair. Campus tours will be given and there will be more surprises throughout the day. There will also be an opportunity to apply for admission, with full tuition scholarships being awarded to selected applicants. For more information about UDC Community Day, call 274-6333.



New Leaders for New Schools
Abby Mollen,

Do you believe that all students can learn at high levels? Do you believe that strong principals can ensure that all children reach their highest potential? Become a new leader. Apply online at by March 15. New Leaders for New Schools fosters high levels of academic achievement for every child by attracting, preparing and supporting the next generation of outstanding school leaders for our nation’s urban public schools. Today more than 150 New Leaders are leading change for students in schools in Washington, DC, California’s Bay Area, Chicago, Memphis, and New York City. Our comprehensive school leadership training and support program features 1) hands-on, cutting-edge training, including six weeks of rigorous academic course work taught by a nationally-recognized faculty and a yearlong, full-time paid Residency alongside an outstanding mentor principal in an urban public school; 2) three years of intensive professional development, coaching and support provided by New Leaders for New Schools’ staff of highly successful former principals; 3) support in obtaining administrative certification and in obtaining a principalship in an existing or startup public district or charter school; and 4) a network of like-minded peers throughout the country who are working to affect significant change in our nation’s urban schools.

We are looking for qualified individuals to apply to become New Leaders who have at least two years K-12 teaching experience and strong knowledge of teaching and learning; demonstrated ability to lead adults and build successful relationships; and an unyielding belief in the potential of all children to excel academically and a relentless sense of personal responsibility to make it happen. Want to learn more? Join us for an information session. Tuesday, March 8, 7-8:30 p.m., Sumner School, 1201 17th Street, NW. RSVP to


Writer’s Assistant
Lea Adams,

Local writer needs part-time assistant to help organize project files and archival materials. Job requires ability to stay focused; basic computer literacy (use of Microsoft Office suite required, familiarity with Adobe Creative Suite preferred); attention to detail; interest in DC history a plus. Perfect for a student or a retired person. Fee and schedule negotiable. Send E-mail stating interest to



DC Babe Ruth Baseball Coaches
Pat Bitondo,

DC Babe Ruth Baseball League needs coaches for the spring 2005 season. Be a volunteer and help make the tenth year anniversary season the best ever. Contact or Pat Bitondo at 337-2843.


Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, April 2
Gina Mathias,

Every time you get a drink of clean water from your faucet, thank the volunteers who have pulled over two millions pounds of trash from the Potomac River. Each day the Potomac River and its tributaries supply about 500 million gallons of fresh drinking water to more than five million people in four states and the District of Columbia. Every year since 1989, concerned citizens have joined with neighbors, friends, and family to pull tires, bottles, cans, washing machines, cars, and even a tombstone carelessly discarded in the Potomac River Watershed.

Volunteers are needed this year to help with the 17th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, which will be held on Saturday, April 2, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at more than 160 sites in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

This year’s theme, Take Pride in Our Potomac: It Starts in Your Backyard!, emphasizes that the health of the Potomac depends not only on what is done along it shores, but also on what is done throughout the watershed -- in our yards, in parks and playgrounds, on city streets, anywhere water drains into the Potomac.



Aeron Chair
L.E. Adams,

Aeron Chair (1994 Stumpf-Chadwick design) made by Herman Miller Company, $650 or best offer. Gently used for just over a year. Practically a necessity for architects, designers and others professionals. The ultimate luxury for students or anyone else who can afford it. It’ll pay for itself in a few months of saved massage/chiropractic fees! Call 484-7474 if seriously interested.



Computer Monitors
Bryce A. Suderow,

I have two free computer monitors that I want to give away. Phone me (546-3358) or E-mail me.



City Dogs on Parade, February 26
Pat Yates,

Looking for the dog of your dreams? The DC Animal Shelter will have really nice, adoptable dogs at Dogs by Day, 1724 14th Street, NW, this Saturday, February 26, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. At this writing, it’s too early to know exactly which dogs will be there, but to get an idea of the wonderful variety that are currently available, please do visit the Washington Humane Society web site:

Are cats more to your liking? Every Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the DC Animal Shelter joins with other community groups to show adoptable cats (most from foster homes) at Doolittle’s, 224 7th Street, SE. Another great option for both dogs and cats: visit the DC Animal Shelter, 1201 New York Avenue, NE, and spend some time with our wonderful adoptable animals. The shelter is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from Noon until 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There are really nice pictures and complete information on


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)