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April 27, 2005

Hopes, Wishes, and Dreams

Dear Dreamers:

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 taxes low.

Gary Imhoff


Losing It
Meredith Manning,

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 website during the past six months. We’re looking for DC residents who love using 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, please share some of your positive experiences with us by submitting the short online form: 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 my complaints!


Pepco Overcharges
Ken Nellis,

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,

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?


Population Statistics
Richard Wolf,

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 Advisory Committee.

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.


Mindless Projections
Steven Glazerman,

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,

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!


Losing Correspondence
John Campbell,

I love the two letters (to the bank and the Census Bureau). So where is the third?


Cutting Off Your Nose

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 this.

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 Neighborhood
Bryce A. Suderow,

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.


This Parking Mess
Jim Myers,

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 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 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 can be?

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.


Audiobooks and iPods
Lois Kirkpatrick,

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


Audio Book Issue Follow-up
Phil Shapiro,

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 and 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.



Pride at Work Honorees, April 29
Krissi Jimroglou,

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,

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 (; The Mary Jane Simpson Scholarship Fund for DC Youth; and The American Friends Service Committee Peace and Economic Justice Program ( For more information, call 462-9069.


Amazing Life Games Preschool Auction, April 30
Nicole O’Kelly Gulmann,

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

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,

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,

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 registration required.


Cleveland Park Citizens Association, May 7
George Idelson,

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,

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,

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 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 local concern.



Laser Printer
Victoria McKernan,

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,



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, 301-495-8815,


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