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April 24, 2005

Losing It

Dear Remaining Washingtonians:

On April 21, the Census Bureau released its latest state population projections for 2030 (see the press release at and the table of state projections in Excel format at The Bureau projects that in the next quarter century the District of Columbia’s population will fall 24.2 percent, from its 2000 census figure of 572,059 to just 433,414. As the term “projection” implies, the Bureau just projects current population trends in births, deaths, and immigration to and emigration from DC to arrive at this figure, but it would be interesting to find out more about implications of these trends. Does the Bureau foresee, as many of us do, a hollowing out of the District’s population, losing the middle class in favor of just the rich and the very poor, losing married couples in their middle years in favor of just singles and the young and old? What does this mean for the racial make-up of the city? A serious review of these questions would be worthwhile.

But I am distracted from serious issues by the city’s official response to the projection, given by Mayor Williams in his press release (, here quoted in full: “Mayor Anthony A. Williams today disputed the US Census Bureau's 2005-2030 population projections and suggested that officials there had grossly undercounted DC's population: ‘Despite 7,000 new housing units built in the last four years, despite dropping rental vacancy rates, fewer abandoned homes and an explosion of activity by developers all over the city, the Census Bureau today projected that the city will lose 138,000 people between now and 2030. That projection is laughably wrong. It runs contrary to all of the city's best planning projections, which continue to show a surge in growth that will swell the city's population to 712,000 by 2030. I have great confidence in our own projections, which have historically been more accurate than those of the Census Bureau, and completely reject this poorly constructed estimate. People who live in this area need only look out their windows to see the significant increase in the city's population. My hope is that with continued efforts to spread affordable housing to all corners of the city, along with new commercial growth downtown and near a revitalized Anacostia River, our city will maintain its healthy pace of population growth.’”

Mayor Williams’s response has inspired me to compose a series of letters, three of which I shall share with you. “Dear Bank Manager: I have reviewed my latest monthly account statement, and I find the balance to be laughably low. My own income expectation, and the rapid, almost exponential growth in bank deposits that I foresee, would indicate that a much higher balance would be more accurate, and I demand that you correct. . . .” “Dear Census Bureau: I note that you project that my wife and I will age twenty-five years between now and 2030. This does not comport with my own expectations, which show that I shall age no more than two or three years during that time period. Indeed, my wife grows younger in my eyes each day, and I believe that a more realistic figure is that she will grow two to three years younger during the next quarter century. I expect that you will issue a retraction. . . .” “Dear Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. . . .”

Gary Imhoff


Who Benefits from the DCIZ Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Proposal
Marilyn Simon, MJSimon524 at

After a careful reading of the text amendment that the DC Campaign for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (DCIZ) has sent to the Zoning Commission, it is clear that this proposal benefits no one other than the developers of luxury condominiums. The negative impact on many neighborhoods is clear, since the DCIZ proposal will allow, without Advisory Neighborhood Commission or further Zoning Commission review, massive increases in height, density, and lot occupancy through much of the District.

The proposal, through extremely generous increases in allowable heights and densities, will lead to destabilization of some neighborhoods by accommodating and accelerating development on a scale that is incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood and far larger than that neighborhood can support. Meanwhile, the proposal diverts development from other neighborhoods that cannot support luxury condominiums, neighborhoods that could benefit from stabilizing new development, and discourages the rehabilitation of existing buildings that cannot take advantage of the bonus heights and densities. Further, the proposal does not provide any housing to households that cannot afford to rent existing apartments. Proponents of this proposal are seeking support from the ANCs. I hope that the ANCs will go beyond the superficial presentations and consider the impact that the actual proposal will have on the neighborhoods across the District.

The proposal provides extremely generous increases in the allowed height and density of new development, far beyond that which was contemplated when our neighborhoods were planned. For example, at the Fannie Mae site on Wisconsin Avenue, the existing building is slightly less than 400,000 square feet. With current zoning, a developer could add over 1,080,000 additional square feet (1,080 large apartments), while maintaining the existing office use. With the inclusionary zoning proposal, the developer could add approximately 300,000 SF (approximately 360 units) of bonus space, beyond the 1,080,000 SF of new space currently allowed. This is 20 percent of the approximately 1.5 million SF currently allowed on the site. Since affordable housing is 12 percent of the units, but the units are smaller than the market-rate units, less than one third of the bonus 300,000 SF would be used for affordable housing, with the remaining increase in height and density available for market-rate housing. The bonus market-rate housing, at current prices, can sell for $120-140 million. The affordable housing units, part of the bonus density, can be sold for prices above their construction costs: half the 600 SF one-bedroom apartments selling for approximately $195,000, and the other half selling for approximately $110,000 (with a development cost less than of $78,000, based on the costs of some luxury condominiums in OP’s latest pipeline report). Since the text amendment specifies that this bonus is available as a matter of right, no zoning approval would be required, and the relevant ANC would not be given an opportunity to weigh in on its appropriateness. In addition to the increase in density, the text amendment allows an increase in the maximum height, from currently allowed 65 feet to 78 feet, and an increase in the portion of the lot which the building can cover, from the current limit of 80 percent to 96 percent of the site.

The proposal will accelerate the already rapid rate of development in high income, stable, established neighborhoods by providing the most valuable density and height bonuses in those neighborhoods. This rapid rate of development and increase in allowable development will destabilize some of those neighborhoods. The bonus height and density allowed is most valuable in those neighborhoods where luxury condominiums can be built and sold. With larger market-rate units, the affordable units use a smaller percentage of the bonus floor area. Further, the bonus market-rate units have a higher price per SF. With the most valuable bonuses in stable neighborhoods, the DCIZ proposal will divert development from other neighborhoods that can benefit from stabilizing development.

Further, the proposal does not provide housing to households that cannot afford existing rental units in the District. Half the units will be sold or rented to households with "moderate incomes," i.e., incomes under $71,400 for a four-person household, or under $57,120 for two-person household. At 30 percent of their income, a four-person moderate-income household can pay $1,786 in rent. The other half of the units will be sold or rented to households defined as having "low incomes," with incomes below the lower income limit, which for 2005 is $44,650, who can pay approximately $1,116 a month in rent. According to a recent Fannie Mae Foundation report, the median advertised rents in the District were $900 for a studio, $1,150 for a one-bedroom, and $1,750 for a two-bedroom unit, with half of the advertised apartments renting for less than these amounts.

It is obvious, when you read the proposal carefully and do the math, that the DCIZ text amendment does not benefit the District, harms many neighborhoods and only provides extra profits for developers, while removing ANCs and the Zoning Commission review from the process. The proposal that is being considered is available at


Post Calls for Unaccountable Mayor
Ed Dixon,

In response to Parents United's failing report card for Mayor Williams (, the editorial staff at the Washington Post made excuses. These excuses are the same excuses that we hear the Washington Post editorial staff groan over when they come out of the Board of Education or DC Public Schools. The fact of the matter is that Mayor Williams political allegiance is not to the school children in DCPS but to the business community entrenched in the city, whose members are often not residents of the city.

If the mayor's idea of taking over the school system was such a good idea, as the Post editorial board has proposed, than perhaps the idea of streamlining accountability should be taken one step further. Frequently the Congress interferes with the mayor's decision, so should we return all the control to Congress to help make government decisions more efficient? I don't think the Post would get anywhere with that argument, and they are not going to get anywhere by raising the idea of eliminating the school board again (other than their usual ploy to derail budgetary decision making on DCPS).

The Post's declaration that responsibility should be shared between the various local authorities is true. But the Post's idea of not singling out problems in the leadership leaves the citizenry unempowered. The last council election was if nothing else a referendum on the fate of the schools, with the dismissal of Councilmembers Kevin Chavous and Harold Brazil. Both had heralded their promises and “success” in public education. The city finally caught up with them and put them out. Similarly, the removal of Dwight Singleton from the school board came from a similar sentiment. It's time that the city start looking at Mayor Williams as a problem for the badly managed public school system and stop making excuses for him.


More than 800 Cars Ticketed
Lisa Alfred,

A preliminary count of parking tickets written in the Hill East and Kingman Park neighborhoods during the first three Washington Nationals baseball games at RFK indicates that more than 800 cars were ticketed -- or roughly 220 per game. But, as we now know, many and possibly most of the cars were ticketed in error, because ticket writers did not know the rules or ignored valid stickers in their haste to write tickets. Other cars of residents with legitimate rights to park in the area were ticketed because the owners had not yet heard of the new enforcement rules or gotten the proper special event sticker.

The Washington Times has reported that traffic enforcement on April 14 (Opening Day) alone cost the city $300,000. The massive ticketing and towing campaign in the neighborhood has continued for three more games and was in evidence last night, April 20. We have no way of knowing how many of the 812 ticketed cars actually belonged to fans going to the first three games. The possibility remains that most of the ticketed cars belonged to Hill East residents who did not deserve them.

The count for the first weekend baseball series: Thursday, April 14, opening day: 144 cars in the special event zone had no RFK Decal 1; 22 farther from RFK had no residential zone 6 permit (RPP), and 22 cars were ticketed for other violations. Saturday, April 16: 163 cars had no RFK decal; 91 had no Zone 6 RPP permit; 26 had other violations. Sunday, April 17: 277 cars had no RFK decal; 45 had no Zone 6 RPP permit; 43 cars had other violations. Totals: 584 cars had no RFK decal; 137 had no RPP permit; 91 had other violations. Also, approximately 36 cars were towed during the first three games.


New Demonstrators’ Rights Law in DC
Art Spitzer, ACLU of the National Capital Area,

I’m delighted to report that the First Amendment Rights and Police Practices Act of 2004 became law in the District of Columbia within the past few days, having survived the period of congressional review that is required for all laws enacted by the locally-elected legislature of this taxed-but-unrepresented colony. Enacted after a two-year investigation by the DC Council Judiciary Committee, under the strong leadership of Kathy Patterson, this law provides significant additional protection for the public exercise of free speech and free assembly in situations where police have sometimes been unfriendly and courts have sometimes been murky.

In some key provisions, the new law:

1. Declares that it is the official policy of the District of Columbia that persons and groups have a First Amendment right to conduct demonstrations “near the object of their protest so they may be seen and heard.” The law requires the police to “recognize and implement” this policy (Sections 103, 104(a), 107(a)). We hope this will make it harder for the police to create the supersized buffer zones that have begun to appear around events that generate protest.

2. Replaces the existing “permit system” with a “notice system” under which demonstrators need not seek a permit to demonstrate, but merely provide advance notice to the police department, which may then impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions by issuing an “approved plan” for the demonstration, after negotiations if there’s disagreement about the details (Sections 104(b), 105, 106). Requiring a police permit to demonstrate suggests to police, demonstrators, and courts that Americans need the government’s permission to exercise First Amendment rights. But they don’t, or shouldn’t. We hope this change in nomenclature will result in a change in attitude on the part of police, and also a better understanding of their rights on the part of the people.

3. Provides that no notice at all is required for assemblies of fewer than fifty persons that do not occupy the streets, and for marches or parades of any size that plan to remain on sidewalks and obey traffic lights (Section 105(d)). The major justification for “permits” is the need for advance police planning. No planning is needed in circumstances such as these.

4. Prohibits the police from dispersing or arresting demonstrators solely for failing to give advance notice, even for demonstrations that are not exempted from the notice requirement. Instead, the police must accommodate such demonstrations if possible (Section 107(f)(1)). Some have expressed concern that this provision will deny the police advance notice of significant events — which we agree is useful — but we don’t share that concern. Major demonstrations will want the benefits of having an approved plan, including police protection and exclusive use of a route or area. And the police know about significant demonstrations through their own intelligence.

5. Prohibits imposing any restriction on an assembly based on the content of the beliefs that will be expressed (of course that’s settled law, but it’s nice to have it in the statute book), or based on the “attire or appearance” of persons participating or expected to participate (wearing black clothing doesn’t make you a vandal) (Section 104(c)).

6. Prohibits imposing restrictions on First Amendment activities that are not imposed on similar non-First Amendment activities (Section 104(c)).

7. Requires police officers to wear identifying badges and nameplates, and, when policing demonstrations, to wear “enhanced” identification “even if wearing riot gear” (Sections 109, 321). We understand that the DC police have now stenciled ID numbers on riot gear. It’s about time.

8. Prohibits dispersal of an assembly in response to problems arising at the event, unless a “significant number or percentage of the assembly participants are engaging in, or are about to engage in, unlawful disorderly conduct or violence toward persons or property” or a “significant number or percentage of the assembly participants fail to adhere to … time, place, and manner restrictions,” and means short of dispersal fail to restore order (Section 107). New time, place or manner restrictions may be imposed on an ongoing demonstration only if there is an “imminent likelihood of violence endangering persons or threatening to cause significant property damage” (Section 104(b)(2)(C)).

9. Requires that any order to disperse must be clear and audible, and that participants must be provided a “reasonable and adequate time to disperse and a clear and safe route for dispersal” (Section 107(e)). This responds to problems we have had with inaudible orders and “trap and arrest” techniques.

10. Prohibits the use of police lines to encircle demonstrators except to protect their own safety (e.g., from counter-demonstrators), or unless there is probable cause to arrest a “significant number or percentage” of the participants and an intention to make such arrests (Section 108).

11. Requires the police to contemporaneously record the justification for each arrest; the Chief of Police must account in writing for any failure to do so (Section 110). This also responds to a problem we’ve encountered at mass arrests.

12. Permits restraints (e.g., handcuffs) to be used only “to the extent reasonably necessary … for the safety of officers and arrestees” and specifically prohibits restraining an arrested demonstrator “by connecting his or her wrist to his or her ankle [or] in any other manner that forces the person to remain in a physically painful position” (Section 111).

13. Requires the police to provide adequate staff and processing systems to ensure that persons arrested in a demonstration are promptly processed for release or presentation in court; requires that such arrestees be given written notice of their rights, including their release options; requires immediate release of arrestees as to whom arrest documentation has not been prepared and preserved; requires the police to provide food “food appropriate to the person's health” to any person not released within a reasonable time (Sections 112, 113). These provisions respond to problems we’ve had with overlong detentions, inadequate or inaccurate information given to arrestees, and inadequate food.

14. Prohibits the deployment of riot-geared police except where there is “a danger of violence” (Section 116(a)). The deployment of riot troops around peaceful demonstrations has become commonplace; we believe that practice foments violence rather than preventing it.

15. Prohibits the use of “large scale canisters of chemical irritant” against demonstrators unless the commander at the scene determines that such use is “necessary to protect officers or others from physical harm or to arrest actively resisting subjects.” The commander must file a written report of explaining his decision within 48 hours (Section 116(b)).

16. Requires that news media representatives be given “reasonable access to all areas where a First Amendment assembly is occurring” (Section 114).

17. Declares that “[t]he provisions of this [law] are intended to protect persons who are exercising First Amendment rights in the District of Columbia, and the standards for police conduct set forth in this [law] may be relied upon by such persons in any action alleging violations of statutory or common law rights” (Sections 117 & 213).

18. Title II of the new law is a detailed regulation of police investigation and surveillance of activities protected by the First Amendment. Investigations must be based on “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity, defined as “a belief based on articulable facts” and not “a mere hunch,” and may not be based on the “race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, lawful political affiliation or activity, or lawful news-gathering activity of an individual or group.” Investigation techniques are limited, and written authorizations, periodic review, and accountability are required throughout the system.


Metro Bus Tale
Bryce A. Suderow,

I was on the X-2 bus today when an incident occurred that seems worth mentioning. A thin, bespectacled, light-skinned, black man got on the bus as I sat on the aisle and positioned himself directly in front of me. He wore a tool belt bristling with objects. The tool belt and his back were almost in the faces of two teen-aged black girls. One of the girls said to him, “Excuse me.” He ignored her. She said again, “Excuse me, you stepped on my foot.” He continued to ignore her. “You'd better apologize,” she said. “You're lucky I didn't hit you in the face.” He still ignored her.

To diffuse the situation, I offered to let him take my seat. A statement from the only white man on a bus of black people only served to direct the hostility of the four black people in the vicinity against me. “What did you say?” the angry girl asked me twice. I explained that I had offered my seat to him so that he couldn't step on her feet. From that point on she regarded me with open hostility. The man with glasses said nothing to me, but regarded me with a disdainful look. A burly black man on the seat to my right noted the bespectacled man's rejection of my suggestion and approvingly commented to him, “Some people do things just because a white men suggests them.”

The girl got off the bus, but the man with glasses and my burly neighbor continued to glower at me until I got off. So what's the moral here? That white people should ride the bus but keep their mouths shut?


About the Property Tax Cap
Jack McKay,

Let's see how fair the “cap” is with some specific cases. There are several magnificent mansions here in Mount Pleasant, assessed at well over a million dollars. The owners of a couple of those are doing rather well; their property taxes being cut by 50 percent by the cap. My own house is assessed at quite a bit less than theirs, but the cap is worth a mere 7 percent break to me. The cap reduces my taxes by just $520 a year, while the owners of the millionaire mansions are reaping $5000 and $6000 benefits, and paying less property tax than I am. Next year I'll be paying 100 percent of my assessment, while they're still saving thousands on their property taxes. Is that fair?

Take another Mount Pleasant example, that of a series of five nearly identical row houses, three owner-occupied, two rentals. The three homeowners are currently enjoying a 40 percent reduction in their property taxes, courtesy of the cap. The rental units get no benefit from the cap, nor do they get the homestead deduction, so those owners are paying about $3000 a year higher taxes. I think we can assume that the higher property taxes are passed on to the renters, and it's no wonder that rental rates here are skyrocketing. Is it fair to have a property tax policy that places a heavier burden on renters than on homeowners?

The right way to deal with the problem of escalating real property values would be to increase the homestead deduction to protect low-income homeowners, and cut the tax rates so that the total property tax revenues remain constant. The notion of “capping” the annual rate of property tax increases, so our huge tax increases are spread out over several years, is like cutting off a dog's tail an inch at a time so it won't hurt so much.


Budget Increases 4 Percent; Property Taxes 12 Percent
Matt Forman,

The city council imposed a 4.7 percent spending cap increase for the 2006 budget. The mayor’s office sent around representatives to the various community association meetings to give presentations on the mayor’s 2006 budget, in which they informed us that their proposed budget actually came in below the limit, at only 4 percent. So if the budget is going up only 4 percent next year, then why is the mayor proposing to keep increasing our real property taxes at 12 percent per year? Why are we forking over 8 percent more than is necessary to keep the budget afloat? No wonder there’s always a surplus. And, oh yeah, homeowners make up only about 40 percent of the population, so only some of us are getting screwed.


DC Blogs
Patrick Thibodeau,

I’m trying to develop and organize a list of DC-specific bloggers arranged by category. The web site is Every blog is potential treasure, but it’s not easy finding blog writers who pen about city life. Many have developed good link rolls, and following one link after another leads to some finds. I’m trying to refine some of this and provide a summary on what’s new.

I’m especially interested in community journalism trends, in particular the so-called “citizen editor” idea. I write about that at another site: If you would like your blog listed, or know of one I should list, please send it along.


Audio Book Issue in Fairfax Public Libraries
Phil Shapiro,

There's an interesting fairness issue brewing in the Fairfax Public Libraries. Leaders of this library system think it's a good idea to provide audio book downloads in Windows Media file format. These digital rights managed (DRM) files won't play on Macintosh or Linux computers, nor on iPods. Taxpayer funds are being used to pay for the audio books. A friend asked me to write a song about this to help the library system better understand how their actions are discriminatory. I've posted the song at Throughout the history of our country, rights have only vested after they have been specified in law. From voting rights to gender rights to civil rights to disability rights, the rights were freely disregarded until specified in law. What's needed is a digital equal protection amendment so that this issue doesn't get revisited every time someone comes up with another bright idea.

Do you know who is getting the shortest end of this stick? The tenants in affordable housing units in Northern Virginia, where Linux computer labs have been set up for them to use. Many of these tenants are hardworking immigrant families. Could the adults and children in these families benefit from greater access to audio books? You tell me. “Sorry, buster, you're a digital minority. No audio books for you.” How about this for irony — one of the books currently inaccessible? Martin Luther King, Jr., On Leadership: Inspiration and Wisdom for Challenging Times, by Donald T. Phillips. I hear it's a good book.

Having said all the above, I'm a huge fan of the Fairfax Public Libraries and deeply cherish the contributions Lois Kirkpatrick has made right here in over all these years. Inclusive is good. Once this issue is sorted out, I really do hope the Fairfax Public Libraries holds a symposium on the rights of digital minorities and on technology access issues in general. We're all human and prone to make mistakes. Learning from and rising above those mistakes knits us closer together as a community. I wonder if my good friends at the Washington Post would be interested in sponsoring such a symposium. Whatdya say? A time for some healing and moving forward? Are we here to learn from one another and grow?


Microsoft Office Instructor Ad
Malcolm Wiseman,

[Re the Classified Ad in themail, April 17]: Please tell me that Howard is also hiring or already providing instructors for OpenOffice ( along with the proprietary MS Office suite. Governments and organizations, especially those with limited resources, owe it to their constituents to use free-to-the-public, General Public License software wherever possible. OO is every bit as robust as MSO in most office environments. To train someone on a budget how to use a powerful yet free business tool is really doing something for that person. When you're teaching vendor-specific, proprietary software, you're just working for the vendor.

Anything you are doing in MS Office or MS Word, you can do in OpenOffice. They all run in Windows, so they essentially look the same. A small business will save what is on their scale a lot of money by incorporating professional-grade GPL systems and applications like Linux, OpenOffice, and MySQL. I think the General Public License is the first thing they oughta teach in B-school. Oh, check that -- elementary school!


Neighborhood Inaction
Neil Richardson,

While I agree with Gary and Dorothy’s conclusion [themail, April 20] that it may be hard to “sustain the illusion of the administration’s concern about revitalizing neighborhoods,” there are several factual errors that need to be corrected. The Neighborhood Action Initiative did not have vaguely defined or overlapping responsibilities. Neighborhood Service coordinators take care of core services (rats, trash and potholes), Neighborhood Planners asked people to create plans about what folks wanted their neighborhoods to be 3-5 years in the future. The Executive Office of Neighborhood Action formed the citywide strategic plan and guided the connected offices in incorporating the public voice based on data from the Citizen Summits and community meetings. The data collected was context for the city budget and policy priorities. All of this could be found on the Neighborhood Action web site. The concept was complex, not vague. The only office that had the task to create a “network of community supporters for the Mayor’s initiatives” was Community Affairs, not unlike the constituent services office in nearly every municipality in the country. This office was only nominally connected to Neighborhood Action, and we provided no oversight.

Under the leadership of Beverley Wheeler and myself, after her dismissal, the initiative remained firmly committed to listening to what the public thought regarding issues and we added that insight to policy and budget development. Only in the last few months of last year was I ever asked to use the resources of the office for political purposes. I resigned shortly thereafter. The promise of the initiative was to listen objectively and report objectively; this promise was never broken. Regarding specific achievements, there are many including a citywide strategic plan, strategic neighborhood action plans (SNAPs), citizen summits and myriad community meetings, abatement of persistent problem areas, and crime reduction in Hot Spots. Added to this are achievements by ServeDC and the Office of Partnerships and Grants Development that also connected their work through Neighborhood Action.

Neighborhood Action was an innovation that failed. It was an idea that was before its time in this city. We had hoped to create a system for the public voice to be more directly heard. Neighborhood Action had many enemies because it sought to bring greater transparency to important issues that faced the city. Cynicism was its strongest foe and the one that finally destroyed it. I am not sure what is more remarkable, the fact it failed or the fact that it almost worked.


The Race Isn’t On
Chuck Thies,

In “The Big Question” (themail, April 17) Gary Imhoff praises Colby King for his op-ed assessment of mayoral candidates. I, too, follow King's pieces with great interest and usually find his opinions well-founded. However, in what Imhoff describes as a “one-paragraph takedown” of Councilmember Jack Evans, King gets his facts wrong and steps over the line. On Friday, April 22, the Post printed my letter responding to King's column ( I applaud Mr. King for publishing a direct challenge to his position; he personally saw to the task.

Injecting racial undertones into the fledgling contest for mayor is risky business. As readers of themail know, there are social and economic issues of great importance that candidates need to address. If today's debate (seventeen months before voters head to the polls) is tainted, what can we expect come the summer of 2006 when campaigns are heated and heading into the homestretch? Already I've listened as one potential candidate described how he is blacker than another. Doubts regarding a white candidate becoming mayor are not uncommon either. All of this is nonsense

District residents should hold politicians accountable to the highest principles, and our hometown newspaper should present a tone of comparable standards. It is only in this kind of campaign environment that a clear understanding of qualifications and ideas can be divined, and the best interests of District voters served.


Gabe Feels Pepco’s Pain
Larry Seftor, larry underscore seftor .the757 at

Gabe Goldberg, while apparently living in Virginia, apparently feels Pepco’s pain as they provide subpar service to DC. In his flame “How Long Does Pepco Really Take to Respond” [themail, April 20], Mr. Goldberg accuses me of hiding facts, while all he does is present guesses about Pepco’s tardiness. Mr. Goldberg, the evidence is my statement: “call placed, over two hours to respond.” Your statement that there might have been “a hot wire down on a road or some other emergency,” are guesses, and groundless ones at that. The fact of the matter is that, as a consumer, the internal operations of a private company that has contracted to provide a service is not and should not be my concern. My next-door neighbor has a buried power line and has had no outages compared to my last eight! Since Pepco has decided to provide power to my house via lines through the trees, they need to have sufficient crews standing by to correct the problems that this faulty delivery mechanism entails. I have lived many places around the country, I have paid many electric bills, and I have been subjected to outages. Pepco provides a lower level of service than I have received elsewhere. I don’t expect a free lunch, as Mr. Goldberg accuses. But I do expect a level of service comparable to what is provided elsewhere (including Mr. Goldberg's Virginia).


DCFPI Analysis of Mayor’s Proposed Budget
Ed Lazere,

On April 21, DCFPI released a summary of the proposed budget submitted by Mayor Williams for FY 2006. The DCFPI analysis found that the proposed budget is 6.0 percent higher than the revised FY 2005 budget. This is lower than the growth rate for proposed budgets in most of the DC suburbs. The budget includes $108 million in new or expanded initiatives, including $78 million in so-called “community investments” and $30 million for roads and bridges. More than half of this additional funding is targeted on lower income residents, including funds for job training, child care, homeless services, and literacy programs. The DCFPI report provides a complete list of the community investments.

The proposed budget also includes a substantial amount of one-time expenditures, including additional funding for capital construction projects. DCFPI's report provides a complete list of these “resident dividends.” The mayor's budget includes $94 million in tax relief, $22 million for property taxes and $72 million in income taxes. These include some progressive tax changes, such as an expansion of the DC Earned Income Tax Credit and an increase in the Homestead Deduction under the property tax. The budget also would continue implementing income tax cuts under the Tax Parity Act, which would provide substantial relief to high-income households.

The full report can be found in the DC Fiscal Policy Institute's Budget Toolkit at or



National Building Museum Events, April 28
Brie Hensold,

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

Thursday, April 28, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Architects and engineers with vision seek to create buildings that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsive. Steven Strong, president of Solar Design Associates, Inc., will present an overview of Solar Electric Architecture, using outstanding examples of solar-powered residences and commercial buildings from Europe, Japan, and the US. Afterwards, he will sign copies of his books. Free. Registration not required.

Thursday, April 28, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Each year the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment (COTE) invites architects to submit sustainable designs for the annual Top Ten Green Projects competition. Vivian Loftness, FAIA, 2005 COTE chair, and David Nelson, AIA, a member of the 2005 COTE advisory group, will discuss this year’s winners, many of whom will be present to briefly discuss their projects. $12 Museum and AIA members; $17 nonmembers; $10 students. Registration required.


Pirates Command the Stage at Duke Ellington Theater, April 28-May 1
Mary Kay Claus,

A would-be picnic on the beach brings out pirates, beautiful young women, hopes of marriage and honor, orphans, and an inconvenient misunderstanding of the meaning of Leap Year when the Washington Savoyards, Ltd., the area’s premier Gilbert and Sullivan light opera company, produces The Pirates of Penzance at the Duke Ellington Theater. With veteran stage director Ray Cullom at the helm, the production offers audiences a fresh carnivalesque look at the classic story of love versus loyalty. Uri Kogan, tenor, makes his Washington debut as Frederic, and Kari Paludan, soprano, returns to the Savoyards stage as Mabel. Long-time Savoyard Michael Galizia, bass, is The Pirate King. They are supported by an ensemble cast of pirates, maidens, police, and the classic "Modern Major-General." Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular comedic opera premiered in New York, 1879. In a letter to his mother, written soon after the premiere performance, Sullivan wrote, "I think it will be a great success, for it is exquisitely funny, and the music is strikingly tuneful and catching." The same holds true at this year’s performance of one of our most popular and endearing works of light opera.

Evening and matinee performances are scheduled April 28 through May 1. Visit or call 315-1323 for ticket information, including special rates for seniors, children, and groups. The Savoyards participates in “Stages for All Ages.” Children under 17 are free, if accompanied by a paying adult. The Washington Savoyards Ltd., incorporated in 1972, features a unique blend of professional and amateur artists, each committed to its mission of bringing the joy of opera to audience members of all ages.


Celebrate Spring with the Revels, April 30
Connie Ridgway, kaniru at aol dot com

The Washington Revels is bringing in the May with a May Pole dance, children's songs, a Mummer's play, and lots of wonderful traditional May and spring songs. Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., at the National Arboretum's Flower and Plant Sale, and Sunday, May 1, from 3:30-5:30 p.m., at the Audubon Naturalist Society Nature Fair. Visit for further information.


Connect the Dots 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk, May 7
Richard Schmitz,

The Society for Women’s Health Research is sponsoring a 5K run and 1-mile walk on Saturday, May 7, at 8 a.m. in West Potomac Park, on Ohio Drive, SW, just South of Independence Avenue. The event kicks off National Women’s Health Week, May 8-14, and serves as a springboard for "Sex Differences in Health Awareness Day," Tuesday, May 10, which is the Society’s National Health Observance to draw attention to biological health differences between women and men. Come out to support women’s health and bring friends and family for a fun morning of exercise in one of Washington’s beautiful and scenic national parks! Registration is just $15 and you can register online: For more information or sponsorship opportunities, contact Richard Schmitz at 496-5011 or via E-mail at

The top overall male and female finishers will each receive a Timex watch with GPS and heart rate monitoring technology, the second overall male and female finishers will each receive a Timex watch with heart rate monitoring technology, and the third overall male and female finishers will each receive a Timex Ironman watch; all watches are courtesy of Fashion Time. The top finishers in six age groups will receive: a $20 gift certificate to City Sports and gift certificate of at least $25 from Fashion Time.


Woman’s National Democratic Club Woman of the Year, May 11
Tamara O'Neil,

The Woman’s National Democratic Club Educational Foundation Woman of the Year Award will be given on May 11, 6:30 p.m., at The Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. Price: $150 ($90 tax deductible) before May 1; $175 after May 1.

Ellen R. Malcolm, the founder of EMILY's List, will receive the 2005 Woman of the Year Award from the WNDC Educational Foundation at a gala dinner. The list of those attending the dinner reads like a who's who of Washington players. Tributes will be given by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Mary Beth Cahill, Judy Litchman of National Partnership for Women and Families, Cecile Richards of America Votes, Steve Rosenthal of America coming Together, and Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign.

Proceeds from the event help fund WNDC-EF's numerous philanthropic endeavors such as providing training for future leaders through the Young Women's Leadership Project and intern program, providing college scholarships to deserving Washington, DC, high school students, educating the public through speaker programs, and operating a nationally recognized museum dedicated to educating the public on the history of women in national and regional politics. For more information about this event, please contact Tamara O'Neil at 232-7363, ext. 3002.


The Four Nations Ensemble at Grace Church, May 22
Sam Carabetta,

The renowned Four Nations Ensemble, featuring Broadway chanteuse Anna Bergman and Ann Monoyios, soprano, will present Torch Songs, an innovative program exploring the world of heartbreak and longing in music, from Purcell to Gershwin and Couperin to Noel Coward. Hundreds of years may separate them, but heartache and desire are common grounds on which all composers have written their most moving and beautiful works.For almost two decades, Four Nations has developed a leading presence on the early music scene in New York and across the country, performing at major houses and series throughout the US, including the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center.

The concert will be held on Sunday, May 22, at 5:00 p.m., as part of the Grace Church Concert Series, at Grace Episcopal Church, 6507 Main Street, The Plains, Virginia. Suggested donation $15. For further information, please call 540-253-5177 or visit our web site



LSDBE Certification
Tara Goldberg, The AHJ Group,

There are more than seventy District of Columbia funded construction projects, all requiring District of Columbia Certified Contractor or Supplier participation. If you are a District based Contractor, your Business may qualify to bid on these projects. Contractor services that are needed include all construction trades, building maintenance, security and landscaping services, and suppliers of construction materials, uniforms, office supplies, and equipment. These are L.S.D.B.E. certification projects. If your business is not a District of Columbia Certified L.S.D.B.E. business, contact the AHJ Group by E-mail at or call 256-1651, Monday-Friday, 12 p.m.-10 p.m.



Shoes Needed
Letitia Martinez,

Do you have shoes you want to get rid of? Don’t want to throw them away? Is so, then we need your shoes. DC Coverings Kids and Families will be holding a press conference during the week of May 1st to highlight “Covering the Uninsured Week.” Our aim is to highlight the challenges faced by the uninsured and the underinsured. The shoes will be used to represent the number of residents in DC that need health insurance coverage. If you would like to help us in our cause, you can drop off your shoes no later than April 29 at the following locations: Healthy Babies Project, 801 17th Street, NE, or DC Action for Children, 1616 P Street, NW, Suite 420. After the event, shoes donated will be given to those in need.

If you are unable to drop off your shoes, we will pick them up for you. Just call me at 234-9404 or E-mail



Legal Sized File Folders
Mike Livingston,

Free: three hundred new legal size (14") hanging file folders, 2" capacity. Pick up from Freedom Plaza office location. C'mon, if you have legal size file drawers, you must need these.


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