Hopes, Wishes, and Dreams
Steven Glazerman, who is a serious social science research kind of
guy at a serious DC research outfit, makes a serious objection below to
what I wrote in the last issue of themail about the DC government’s
reaction to the Census Bureau’s projection of a sharp fall in DC’s
population over the next quarter century. Read his complete message, but
the key sentence is this: “The Mayor rightly criticized that
projection because it does not also take into account many other
indicators of urban change and growth, such as ongoing development
projects and housing construction that would cause future trends to
depart from the past.”
So why don’t I take this argument seriously? Three reasons: I don’t
think any city government is particularly skilled at social engineering;
I think the DC city government is particularly unskilled at social
engineering; and I think that whatever development plans and projects
the city has have been and will continue to be ineffective in attracting
the core middle class families the city needs if its population is to
grow. And a fourth reason: over the past several years, as these plans
have unfolded, and as all the construction and development that the
mayor speaks of have occurred, our population has not grown; it has
continued to fall.
Does that mean that a continued fall in population is inevitable,
that it can’t be stanched? Of course not. But DC won’t attract any
substantial number of new residents, particularly middle class families,
through building either high-income or subsidized low-income housing
projects, or through building ballparks or beautifying its river front.
Some people just love the center city; that’s why many of us live
where we do. But most people moving to or within the metropolitan region
will continue to look for a place to live based on the usual basic
criteria, the ones that everybody knows: affordable and attractive
housing, clean and safe streets, good schools, easy transportation, and
low taxes. If the city government continues to concentrate on grandiose,
monumental, expensive government projects -- such as the convention
center, the baseball stadium, and the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative --
at the expense of providing basic city services, it won’t matter how
much money we pour into those big projects. People will make rare brief
visits to the center city for the occasional baseball game or museum
exhibit, and continue to move to and live in the suburban localities
that put their energy and interest into safety and schools and keeping
Despite the fact that the District government has never responded in
a substantive way to any issue I have raised with the mayor through his
web site, I received the following by E-mail from the “District
Government Web Team”:
“Dear District Resident: You have been chosen to receive this email
because you communicated with the District Government through the dc.gov
website during the past six months. We’re looking for DC residents who
love using dc.gov to help us spread the word about the District’s
award-winning portal. If you’re a DC resident at least 18 years of
age, and you enjoy dc.gov, please share some of your positive
experiences with us by submitting the short online form: http://forms.dc.gov/lfserver/COMM/PSA?redirectTo=http://dc.gov/thankyou.asp.
The deadline for submission is 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, 2005. We’ll
then select some respondents and ask them to participate in filming a DC
Public Service Announcement (PSA) that will air on local cable stations
this year. We look forward to hearing from you!"
Perhaps, as you say, they are losing it. If only they would address
Despite being enrolled in Pepco’s automatic payment plan for some
time now, my latest bill includes a “Late Payment Charge” plus a
charge for an unspecified “Adjustment.” Calling “Customer Care,”
I was presented with a phone menu system that seemed to offer no way to
reach a resolution short of indicating to it that I was unable to pay my
bill and that I wished to make other payment arrangements. Suffering
that indignity, I reached an unapologetic human being who efficiently
removed the charges, but I wonder how many others Pepco is overcharging.
What’s Wrong in this City?
D.C. Reardon, email@example.com
Last week the Post had a chart of the causes of murder in DC.
Drugs were the number one cause. At the city council hearing on APRA
Oversight last Thursday, we were told that the four-hundred-patient
methadone treatment program, UMOJA, a contract clinic operated by
Providence Hospital, on Nannie Helen Boroughs Road, NE, is closing is
six weeks. We have no excess capacity in this city to transfer these
patients. The word is they will all be transferred, under a new
contract, to the newest private methadone treatment provider, Good Hope
Institute, on Good Hope Road, SE.
Why is this happening? The word is NIMBY, that once Vincent Gray was
elected to Ward 7, his first order of business was to close this
treatment center. The other word is money, APRA apparently owes
Providence millions of unpaid contract dollars. But the problem is, it
is almost impossible to open another methadone treatment center in this
city because of NIMBY. Baltimore, with very similar addiction
statistics, has over three times as many methadone treatment slots as
DC. DC is last in the country as far as treatment for addicts over age
25, which is the majority of UMOJA patients. We need more treatment, not
less. What is wrong with this picture?
You are right on the money [“Losing It,” themail, April 24]. As a
member of the Advisory Committee on reconstituting the DC Comprehensive
Plan, I have made basic population information a first cause in trying
to understand how planning for the city can proceed. Early on, Barry
Miller, a senior Office of Planning staffer, has been very good about
assembling this material. His analysis shows that the most rapidly
shrinking part of the DC population has been and is middle class
families with children. Clearly, there are a variety of reasons for this
decline. But the most important of these is the quality of public
schools. As a forty-year resident of Capitol Hill and long active in
civic affairs on the Hill, I have seen many families come and go because
of schools and public safety considerations. Right now we are seeing a
growing number of young families on the Hill; whether or not they will
stay is dependent upon the existence of decent public education: public
schools or charter schools. I don’t think private schools will fill
the need. On March 24, the New York Times had an excellent
article on this issue, “Vibrant Cities Find One Thing Missing:
Children.” I have made this issue my central point as a member of the
Beyond this very important matter, I have taken issue with Barry
Miller over the city’s response to the Census Bureau’s estimation of
current DC population and their projections. He says it’s wrong. I say
it may be wrong, but give me a reasoned argument why it’s wrong. So
far no response, except the Mayor says that in twenty years DC will have
a 140,000 more residents than it currently has, and the Census says the
population will be 433,000. That is a huge difference between the two
parties. Our comprehensive plan, by the way, is supposed to plan for the
next twenty years!! The Census says the Mayor is engaged in wishful
thinking and so is the Office of Planning, not only on population but on
many other things. What is going on in these Advisory Committee meetings
is below the media radar, except for the very managed community meetings
by OP. This is a complicated matter in which the public is being mislead
by “feel good” presentations. Stay tuned.
The Census Bureau reported a projected decline in DC population based
on trends in births, deaths, and migration. The Mayor rightly criticized
that projection because it does not also take into account many other
indicators of urban change and growth, such as ongoing development
projects and housing construction that would cause future trends to
depart from the past. So Mr. Imhoff responded with his satirical letter
to the bank manager [themail, April 24].
But Williams is right. If we have one set of projections that is
mindless and assumes the future is the same as the past and another that
is more nuanced, taking into account the impact of ongoing development
projects, then I’d put more stock in the latter.
Losing Population and Crime
Tom Blagburn, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been retired from the Metropolitan Police Department for seven
years. In my last assignment, I was the Director of Community Policing
and the District’s “Point Person” for youth violence prevention.
The exact same analogy [Gary Imhoff] made concerning the census [themail,
April 20] can be made on crime in our city. The mayor and police chief
talk about reaching a sixteen-year low in crime, when they totally omit
the fact that the city’s population has also dropped by more than
100,000 residents during the period they want to compare! And most have
been pushed out of those neighborhoods that are often characterized as
the most violent and impoverished. It is amazing! Crime is down in DC
only because of resident displacement! Most have ended up in Prince
Georges County. Hence the rise in crime and violence there. If
demographers were to make an accurate comparison and prorate the data
they would conclude, I believe, that crime in DC has actually increased!
But nonetheless, we all must continue to deal with this incredible foray
of public deception that our government applies so very well!
I love the two letters (to the bank and the Census Bureau). So where
is the third?
Please E-mail both Kathy Patterson and Phil Mendelson saying you
support a 5 percent cap on the increases in property tax payments. I
testified at the hearing, and Councilman Evans said unless there is some
grass roots support for this cap, we will be stuck with the 12 percent
cap, which means every six years your property tax will double. If you
are paying $6,000 a year now, in six years it will be $12,000 and in
twelve years it will be $24,000.
E-mails are most effective when they are short. Something like, “I
support the 5 percent cap” is sufficient. We all need and deserve
Jack McKay feels that is unfair for owners of expensive houses to get
more of a benefit in absolute dollar amounts from the tax cap. I pose
this question: Would you rather pay tax on the full assessed value of
your house so that others will do the same, or would you rather have
your payments capped? If you choose to pay more so that others will also
pay more, that is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The RFK Games and Their Impact on the
Bryce A. Suderow, Streetstories@juno.com
Last week, concerned citizens attended PSA 107 North’s meeting at
the Boys and Girls Club. Several city officials were there, including
Inspector Solberg and Ward 6 City Council Member Sharon Ambrose.
Noticeably absent were Robert Bobb and Mayor Tony Williams. The fact
that the city had and still has no plan for dealing with parking near
RFK has over the past few weeks resulted in meter maids issuing hundreds
of parking violation tickets and towing numerous cars. Many of the
victims have been DC residents or their visitors. An official from DPW,
which is responsible for the parking arrangements, attended the meeting.
She told the group, “I feel your pain.” That line didn’t work this
time. Angry residents asked her if she lived in the neighborhood. When
she admitted she did not, they asked her how she could feel their pain
then. She later told the group that they’d “ambushed” her.
A 56-year-old black woman spoke up at the meeting and said that her
boyfriend sometimes spends the night. What could she do to avoid him
getting ticketed and towed? Citizens want resident stickers for their
own cars, plus a spare one in case friends, lovers or home repair
contractors need to visit during baseball games. Sharon Ambrose opposed
the idea, apparently because she’s afraid that issuing extra stickers
will cause them to be sold on the black market. Her solution: have the
police issue resident parking stickers. Citizens can stop by their
police station on a case-by-case basis. Just as Ambrose was leaving the
meeting, one resident detained her and pointed out to her that citizens
in northwest DC would never stand for her solution.
He was right. Imagine a 56-year-old woman visiting the police station
to get a sticker for her boyfriend to visit her. It’s treating an
adult like a child who needs mom’s and dad’s permission to have her
friends attend a slumber party. (Besides, knowing the police, they would
lose or run out of the parking stickers.) The numerous meter maids and
the presence of two police cars have benefited the community in one way.
Their high visibility has thus far prevented the ongoing drug turf war
from claiming the lives of any game attendees. In the past five or six
months eight or nine people have been killed or wounded by gang
violence. Someone in this city needs to — in Mrs. Ambrose’s favorite
phrase — step up to the plate and solve this parking problem. The
citizens in NE DC should not have to suffer through ticketing for eighty
baseball game nights.
I can’t estimate when the neighborhood will collectively say,
“Enough!” to this parking mess. I realize that human nature involves
a wide range of responses. Some will grouse, some will grumble, some
will grovel. I, personally, am tired of seeing the neighborhood pushed
around on parking and other matters. I have contacted an attorney, and
we have discussed what should be done to see if we can get the
neighborhood forceful and meaningful representation on the issue of
parking during games at RFK. This attorney has a track record of stellar
representation of our community’s interests on previous occasions. He’s
a good one.
I am asking anyone who would be inclined to join in this effort to
get this parking mess resolved once and for all in a way that represents
residents’ interests to send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Identify yourself and where you live Obviously, we will need to raise
some funds. If you’re not interested in helping out in that regard,
please say so or suggest something else you could do. The cost should be
minimal if shared widely enough, and it could be tax deductible.
Audio Book Issue in Fairfax Public Libraries
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com
Phil Shapiro complained, “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.” He didn’t mention
that the service is provided by NetLibrary.com. Nor did he mention an
alternative service supporting the other computing platforms. If one
exists, it would be useful to know about it. If there isn’t one, what’s
his point? That Windows users shouldn’t be supported until all others
I believe the library system has already expressed unhappiness at
NetLibrary’s limitations and an intention to make the service more
widely available. (Phil, did you check with the library for current
status and intentions?) But if no current offering does that, I don’t
see the benefit of delaying supporting Windows users until one does. The
perfect is the enemy of the good; doing something is better than doing
nothing until you can do everything.
The Fairfax County Public Library was incorrectly represented in the
last issue of themail [April 24]. We would love for Apple enthusiasts to
be able to play our new digital audiobooks on their iPods.
Unfortunately, Apple has kept their products incompatible with the
Digital Rights Management software that allows public libraries to
protect the copyright of the audiobooks we offer to the public.
Fortunately, there are more than ninety other types of portable devices
that are compatible with DRM software that people can use to listen to
our audiobooks. They can also listen to them on their home PCs. For more
information, please visit our web site at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library.
Audio Book Issue Follow-up
Phil Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
For those who might be interested, some follow up info on the Fairfax
County Public Library audio book issue can be found in the articles at http://www.his.com/pshapiro/audiobook.html
If you have a viewpoint on this issue that you would like to share with
the Fairfax County Public Libraries, it’s best to share your views in
hard copy letter form, sent to the address on the Fairfax County Public
Library web site. Because of the reciprocity between DC-area library
systems, all DC-area residents have standing to comment on this issue.
Fairfax County Public Library leaders may reasonably choose to give
greater weight to the viewpoints of county residents, which includes
several Supreme Court justices.
Gabe Feels Pepco’s Pain
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com
Larry Seftor [themail, April 24] continued griping about Pepco,
dismissing my suggestion that he had no factual basis for his complaint
beyond being unhappy at waiting two hours for a repair truck; he said
"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." As are his guesses/assertions that there weren’t other
problems at the same time. He then introduced the blatant unfairness of
his neighbor getting more reliable power via underground cable and his
being served by lines through the trees. Thereby proving my point that
it’s a complex world we live in, not as simple as the Pepco people
willfully delaying responding for an unnecessary hour and 59 minutes.
Neither of us knows the full story. The difference is that I know I don’t
while Mr. Seftor either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Maybe there’s
a larger problem here. Maybe there isn’t. But being unhappy at waiting
for two hours for a power company repair truck seems unreasonable
without knowing more details. Being unhappy is easy; running a power
company to balance service levels and expenses is harder.
Small example: I worked for a small software company, fifteen people
when I joined, sixty people when I left. Customers were sometimes
unhappy we didn’t do what they wanted when they wanted it. But it was
impossible to satisfy all customer demands all the time, based on staff,
time, and money. That impossibility scales to organizations Pepco’s
size. They can’t staff and equip to do everything. You might find out
what their service criteria are. Do they aim to provide service in more
or less than two hours? Then understand what it would cost to improve
the goal, then allocate that to rates. Would you happily pay more for
improvement? If not, where should the money come from? My point is still
that complaining is easy, finding solutions is harder. Complaining to
themail is really easy and maybe fun, though gathering facts and
complaining to the company or whoever regulates the company would be
more useful. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not averse to
complaining. But I try to gather facts, understand why something
happened, understand whether something’s really broken or I just
suffered a "reality happens" moment.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Pride at Work Honorees, April 29
Krissi Jimroglou, email@example.com
Pride at Work and the AFL-CIO, DC, chapter will honor champions in
the common struggle on Friday, April 29, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the
AFL-CIO, 815th 16th Street, NW. Honorees include Wanda Alston
(posthumously), District Office LGBT Affairs; Elise Bryant, National
Labor College, Silver Spring, MD; and Travis Elliott, former staff
attorney, Office of Special Counsel. Suggested donation: $20. RSVP to DC
Pride At Work, 501 3rd Street, NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20001. For
more information, call 434-1326.
Quaker Book and Craft Sale, April 30
Andrew Lightman, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Friends Meeting of Washington will hold its annual Quaker book
and craft sale on Saturday, April 30, 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the
Friends Meeting House, 2111 Florida Avenue, NW (three blocks north of
the Dupont Circle Metro and one block west of Connecticut Avenue). This
popular event features all kinds of used books, including rare and fine
books at very reasonable prices, as well as stamps, CDs, and tapes.
Local artisans will sell their work, including pottery, paintings, and a
variety of handmade goods. All are welcome to enjoy refreshments,
conversation and a day of browsing in the picturesque setting of the
historic Quaker Meeting House.
Proceeds of the sale will go to Washington Quaker Workcamps, a
service-learning program for youth and adults (http://www.wqw.quaker.org);
The Mary Jane Simpson Scholarship Fund for DC Youth; and The American
Friends Service Committee Peace and Economic Justice Program (http://www.afsc.org).
For more information, call 462-9069.
Amazing Life Games Preschool Auction, April 30
Nicole O’Kelly Gulmann, email@example.com
Amazing Life Games Preschool is holding its annual auction and family
festival this Saturday, April 30, 12 p.m.-4 p.m., at Grace Lutheran
Church, 16th and Varnum Streets, NW. This is a great event for both kids
and adults — moon bounce, face-painting, live auction, food, etc. Bid
for some neat stuff: a hosted back yard kid’s summer birthday party;
theater tickets; personal yoga classes for kids and adults; drama
workshop; ski lessons; beach and mountain house rental; birthday guitar
performance; swim lessons; dinner for you and your friends plus
baby-sitting; gift certificates for some wonderful DC stores, salons,
and restaurants. Check it out online at http://www.amazinglifegames.org/auction05.
Amazing Life Games Preschool, 1844 Mintwood Place, NW, is a small,
nonprofit preschool. The auction is its main fundraiser. It raises money
for scholarships and keeps tuition as low as possible.
DC Public Schools Strategic Plan, May 2
Roxanne Evans, Roxanne.Evans@k12.dc.us
On Monday, May 2, Superintendent Clifford B. Janey will announce his
strategic plan to raise achievement and the quality of education DC
public schools provide. Press briefing at 6:00 p.m., public presentation
at 7:00 p.m., and reception at 8:00 p.m., at Kelly Miller Middle School,
301 49th Street, NE.
The announcement follows months of work and collaboration with the DC
Education Compact, a group of more than 100 local officials and
community representatives who have developed action plans within the
Superintendent’s framework for retaining high quality teachers,
improving school buildings and facilities, and other important levers of
change as identified by the superintendent and the DC Education Compact.
Open Spaces, May 2
Brie Hensold, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, May 2, 6:30-8:00 p.m., at the National Building Museum, 401 F
Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Privately developed
open spaces such as plazas, atriums, and parks are under-appreciated
catalysts for urban revitalization. Jerold Kayden, a Harvard Graduate
School of Design professor, will analyze the impact of such spaces, with
an emphasis on New York City. He will join Andrew Altman, chief
executive of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, to discuss other
cities’ experiences with privately financed pubic spaces. Paul Farmer,
AICP, executive director and CEO of the American Planning Association (APA),
will moderate the program. This symposium is cosponsored with the APA.
$12 Museum and APA members; $17 nonmembers; $10 students. Prepaid
Cleveland Park Citizens Association, May 7
George Idelson, email@example.com
All are welcome to the monthly public meeting of the Cleveland Park
Citizens Association on Saturday, May 7, 10:15 a.m. at the Cleveland
Park Library, Connecticut Avenue and Newark Street, NW. Topic: what’s
happening to our trees? Washington, the “City in a Park” is losing
green cover and suffers from split management and competing goals. What’s
needed is an effective tree policy and strong stewardship. How do we get
from here to there? And how can you help? Also on the agenda, proposed
officer slate for 2005-06. For more information, call 362-4279.
Ward 6 Dems Meetings, May 11
Jan Eichhorn, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ward 6 Democrats will hold an issue forum on DCPS school
facilities on Wednesday, May 11, 7 p.m., at Branch Boys and Girls Club,
261 17th Street, SE. Moderator: Tom Sherwood, WRC/NBC-TV.
Panel: DC Council Chair Linda Cropp, school board member Tommy Wells,
Nancy Huvendick of the 21st Century School Fund, Iris Toyer of Parents
United, and ANC6A and Fix-Our-Schools leader Marc Borberly.
Jews United for Justice Awards Ceremony, May 17
Maude Bauchard, email@example.com
On May 17, Jews United for Justice will present the Rabbi Abraham
Joshua Heschel Vision Awards to Heather Booth, for a lifetime commitment
to social justice and tikkun olam; Jos Williams and the Washington
Metropolitan Council of the AFL-CIO, for being a steadfast community
ally; and Margie Klein, as a young, emerging JUFJ leader. The Program
will feature Chicago-based Comedian and NPR Commentator Aaron Freeman as
Emcee, with performances by Folk Singer/Songwriter Laura Baron, and
Judith Dack and Suresh Schlanger.
Reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7:30 p.m., at the
Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I Street, NW. Suggested donation
$72; admission $36 or more, per individual. For more information, or to
RSVP by May 9, call Avi at 331-5835 or E-mail Avi@jufj.org.
Light food and drink will be served at the reception. Attire: business
casual. Please mail checks to Jews United for Justice, 2000 P Street,
NW, Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. To advertise your organization or
business in our Commemorative Program Book, or to send a congratulatory
message, please contact Avi.
Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) was created in April 1998 by a group
of Jews in the greater Washington, DC, area. Drawing on a tradition of
Jewish commitment to justice and the talents and dedication of our
growing membership, JUFJ is an exciting community-based organization
that seeks to begin repairing the world by concentrating on issues of
CLASSIFIEDS — FREE
Free to nonprofit or other needy cause, a Samsung ML -1210 laser
printer. One year old, works perfectly, nice, compact, perfect for home
office, just doesn’t handle my workload. (It will only hold six to
seven pages at a time in its memory.) Contact Victoria, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS — HELP WANTED
Litigation Legal Assistant
Jon Katz, jon at markskatz dot com
High-level criminal and civil litigation work with lawyers in the
news. Requires minimum one-two years law firm experience, grace and
smarts under pressure, and accuracy under many deadlines. Strong pay and
advancement. Collegial team. Paid parking/Metro, health insurance,
vacation and personal leave, performance bonuses, and reasonable hours.
Close to Silver Spring Metro. Fax to Jon Katz, Marks & Katz, LLC,
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