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May 4, 2005

Briefly Noted

Dear Note-Takers:

The DC Public Schools’ strategic plan, “Declaration of Education,” (  and the final report of the DC Education Compact, “A Call to Action,” ( were both released on May 2. Your review of them and comments on them are welcome. Do they raise your hopes and expectations, or are they just more of the usual educationalese verbiage?

I’d also welcome any comments about Allan Lengel’s important article in Monday’s Washington Post, “Safety Stops Draw Doubts: DC Police Gather Nonviolators’ Data,” Our current city administration and Metropolitan Police Department seem to be inclined to violate our civil liberties and privacy whenever they can, and to be indifferent to citizens’ complaints about these violations, but this article exposes something we had no idea was happening — and it does not as yet seem to have aroused any widespread protests. It is offensive that the MPD would do random traffic stops, and then enter private information about the citizens whom they had stopped, citizens who had committed no crimes or offenses of any kind, into a police database, for some vague and unspecified purpose. And it’s bad policing.

A message in the last issue of themail was sent by Marlene McGuirl (not Mcguire), and her E-mail address is I apologize for the error. The best way to avoid misspellings of your name and E-mail address is to format your message as it will appear in themail, with your name and E-mail address in the body of the E-mail, above the text of the message.

Gary Imhoff


311 Answers 911 Line
Annie McCormick,

On Sunday, May 1, at 5:20 a.m., I was awakened by a woman screaming on 14th Street near Thomas Circle. I called 911. A “non-emergency 311” operator answered. I have no idea why a 311 operator answered the 911 line. Maybe I was surprised that there was an answer at all.


Insulting DC’s Neighborhoods and Activists
Dorothy Brizill,

On April 20, I wrote in themail about the long-standing vacancies in three key positions in the Williams administration that focused on neighborhoods — the director of the Office of Community Outreach, the director of the Office of Neighborhood Services, and the director of the Office of Neighborhood Action. All these jobs require an intimate knowledge of the District government, its neighborhoods, the issues facing these neighborhoods, and the community organizations and civic leaders in the neighborhoods. I wrote then that these vacancies indicated an inattention to and indifference toward neighborhood issues.

At the mayor’s weekly press briefing today, he announced the appointment of Aretha R. Ferrell-Brown as head of the Office of Neighborhood Action, with a annual salary of $108,000. Brown’s resume ( indicates that she moved to the District last June from Los Alamos County, New Mexico. When the mayor was asked why he would appoint someone who did not have any knowledge about DC’s neighborhoods or any background or familiarity with community leaders to such a key position, he shrugged off the question. He responded that Brown had “management abilities” and would rely on the current staff of her office to provide her with the resources that she needed.


Who’s at Risk for Asbestos in DCPS?
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir,

Asbestos in the public schools? Sure, there still is. Schools that were built and renovated up through the mid 1970’s used asbestos-containing building materials in many different parts of the building. As part of asbestos health risk prevention, the EPA and OSHA stepped up regulations for local schools to determine the risk through building surveys and to put risk prevention plans into place. One of the results of these surveys and risk prevention plans is that work or repair sites must be assessed for asbestos risk.

The web site ( has obtained and posted lists of completed and uncompleted building repair work orders for DCPS through the current year. A cursory review of the Wilson High School work orders shows repeated asbestos test clearances in order for work to begin. In some cases (e.g., classrooms, bathrooms) plaster and paint are being tested. Presumably, the logic here is that exposure to asbestos in the dislodging of plaster or scraping of paint is an occupational safety hazard to the repairmen and women who do the work. Doing this work day in and day out would cause exposure levels to be higher than to your average do-it-yourselfer who takes on a similar project at home on a sporadic basis.

So if the day in and day out exposure to these materials is a problem for the workers who come into the building to fix them, what about the students and teachers who are exposed to them a minimum of eight hour a day, five days a week? If you haven’t been in one of these schools recently, go back to the web site. Look at the photos of Wilson, look at the lists, and consider whether or not students and teachers use the areas highlighted and are exposed to these materials at the same rate or greater than the workers for whom the sites are being tested. In many cases, the walls are collapsing (though not yet as seriously as at Wilson’s pool a couple summers ago). Collapsing walls cause dust. Certainly, the fact that students teachers and parents are submitting these photos suggests that the areas are easily accessible. If the risk is not a threat to the students and teachers as well, then why is the city adding time and money to every repair to protect workers from asbestos?


No Shortcuts to Marriage Equality
Rick Rosendall,

You may be surprised to hear this if you haven’t been following the story, but the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance agrees with DC Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi’s May 3 ruling that gay couples with out-of-state marriage licenses cannot file joint DC tax returns. His decision is online at [and at].

As GLAA sees it, the time is nowhere close to being ripe for pushing same-sex marriage in the District. Like it or not, we are in a marathon for civil marriage rights, not a sprint, and we cannot expect to take a taxi to the finish line and claim victory without bothering to run the race. Going along with Jim Graham, who wants it all right now and damn the consequences, would only provoke Congress to roll back the gains we have already made for domestic partners in DC.

Graham says that the cat is out of the bag and the city has to release the advisory opinion by DC Attorney General Spagnoletti on whether to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, because gay married couples will keep coming forward and are entitled to an answer. This assumes that anyone has any doubt as to the outcome, when in fact it is plain as day that Congress will not allow the District either to issue marriage licenses or to recognize out-of-state marriages involving same-sex couples. Fortunately, the Mayor and Mr. Gandhi have not been swayed by Graham’s reckless grandstanding. For GLAA’s full statement, see


Developers Act Like SE Waterfront Is Vacant Playground for Speculation
Ed Delaney,

From the Washington Business Journal ( “The foundation is floating a plan that calls for a 120,000-square-foot maritime museum surrounded by a retail and office development and possibly even a hotel. It would secure funds for the museum and hope that developers then put in money for the chance to be close the tourist attraction.” Nice; just start planning to co-opt privately held land and property from existing home and business owners as part of a eminent domain project driven by a ballpark scheme (costing over half a billion dollars and rising) for an extremely speculative private venture (with a sprinkling of federal money thrown in). And why not? This is the way things are done in the District now, especially as the media levels hardly a word of criticism of such projects, no matter how ludicrous they are!

“The museum would cost $50.7 million to develop, not including the land price — which could be significant.” Like the ballpark schemers and those who certify their schemes just under certain caps, no one ever seems to properly factor in the land price when talking about projects down there, do they! Wonder why.

“The Spirit of Enterprise would bring in $96.7 million to the city over a 10-year period, according to the Howard University Center for Urban Progress, which the foundation hired to do an economic impact study.” Uh huh. A “replica of a 19th century tall ship” in the Anacostia River is going to generate almost $100 million for the city. I hope the check cleared for that study before it was released. “We’re not sure what the development program is, so we can’t comment on whether it’s going to be a driver,” says Uwe Brandes, a project manager with the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. “It’s a base of uses like this that collectively are going to make the Anacostia a major destination in the city. It’s just such a morale-booster. We’re definitely in favor of it.” Yes, you read it right; this official of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, which of course is the organization set up behind the scenes by city officials mainly from the mayor’s office to be separate and independent from DC government (thus freeing it from a multitude of regulations, checks, and balances that might make it harder to steam roll projects like the ballpark past governmental oversight) is “not sure what the development program is” (outside of a wooden ship worth $100 million to the city) but nevertheless is “definitely in favor of it” because “it’s just such a morale booster.”


Inventing Ways for People to Treat Each Other Better
Phil Shapiro,

I spend a lot of time thinking about inventing ways for people to treat each other better. Here’s my own little contribution to people treating each other better (warning — geekish humor ahead): is an invention for people to treat each other better (credit goes to Jeffrey Itell for bringing this invention to life.) Like every invention, how we choose to use it determines the value of the invention.


Historic Washington Listserv Now Forming
Mary Rowse,

You’re invited to join a new E-mail discussion group called “Historic Washington,” designed for people interested in or involved with the history and preservation of Washington, DC, and its extraordinary neighborhoods. The purpose of this listserv is to provide a forum for exchanging views, ideas and information with those who share a common interest in protecting and preserving the cultural resources of our great city.

Discussion is encouraged in the areas of city and neighborhood history; architecture; historic resource surveying; creating, maintaining and expanding historic districts; zoning; city and preservation planning; existing and proposed city and federal preservation laws and their enforcement; condemnation; demolition; tax credits; easements; building restoration; etc. Those searching for a specific preservation resource are encouraged to post, as well as those seeking advice or action from members to intervene in a preservation battle or crisis. Announcements for local and national conferences, tours, classes and other events that support this focus are welcome. Those working in other jurisdictions are invited to join and share information and ideas. Those seeking or offering recommendations or warnings about businesses doing renovation or restoration work in the Washington area are encouraged to post. Announcements of job and grant opportunities, awards, requests for proposals or calls for papers in the fields of preservation and Washington and neighborhood history are also welcome. This listserv is independent of any organization.

You can join the list by sending an E-mail with your name and address or name and professional or volunteer affiliation to: An invitation will be sent to your E-mail address. After responding to it, you will become a member and be able to post and have access to the listserv’s web site and archive of messages.


Parking Around RFK
Bill Starrels, Georgetown,

I have attended many Nationals games, and I am struck by the number of police and DPW people enforcing the no parking rules around the neighborhood that is close to RFK. Cars are towed. The streets and most of the parking spaces near the neighborhoods are empty before, during and immediately after the games. This is what the neighbors wanted and this is what has been achieved. The larger problem will evolve into the residents who would like to enable their friends to visit and park near the homes the same evening of a baseball games. The Sports and Entertainment Commission has done a lot of work to address the needs of the neighbors of RFK.

Living in Georgetown, we learn to live with vast numbers of visitors from DC, Maryland, and Virginia who choose to take whatever parking they can and avoid paying under $10 to park in an off-street lot. Living in DC and enjoying urban life presents its challenges.


Guest Parking Permits
Matt Forman,

As noted in the previous postings, the current system for obtaining guest parking passes in residential permit parking zones is broken. MPD requires you to accompany your guest to the station, which may be quite some distance from your house, and to present proof of your residence as well as your guest’s vehicle registration. Obviously if you’re hosting a dinner party, that’s not really practical. As your guests are arriving, should you leave your food cooking while you accompany each of them in turn to the station? And if you’re lucky enough to actually have a plumber show up at your house, good luck getting them to meander down to the station with you, at least not without charging their hourly rate.

So the clear solution is to provide residents with guest permits in advance. Either an annual permit or a booklet of daily passes, as the now dusty December 2003 Mayor’s task force recommended ( Several other cities use the annual permit, such as Los Angeles, Baltimore, and right next door in Arlington, Virginia. Yes, Arlington did discover some abuse with annual permits, and is working on program improvements, as indicated on their web site. Why not learn from the experience of these other cities to develop a workable guest permit system? Interested parties should contact at-large councilmember Carol Schwartz at, as she is in charge of that committee.


Pepco Overcharges
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park,

I was another recipient of Pepco’s bogus “late fee” even though I paid in full, the day I received my bill and it cleared my bank two weeks before the due date. Like Mr. Nellis, I called Pepco and the charge was removed, but I sure do wonder whether it is a concerted campaign to overcharge unobservant customers.


DC Population Is Bound to Drop
Isabella Bashin,

I totally agree with the author’s posting [Bryce Suderow, themail, May 1]. DC is not a place to raise a child. What I thought was interesting was the way it was worded; “Low-income blacks with large families are leaving the city. They are being replaced with smaller numbers of white newcomers who are either childless or have only one or two very young children.” Would the same statement be just as effective without the color reference?

My grandfather once told me, “DC is either all black or it is all white.” He thought these two ethnic groups could not cohabitate in the city together. Being a child I did not understand. As I matured into preteen and teenage years I did not believe him. I saw people for the character within not the color of their skin. Now, being an adult, I realize he was right. Why do Americans classify everyone by the color of their skin? Racism is still very much alive though much more subtle.



DCPS Full Funding Campaign and Fair Budget Coalition Rally, May 5
Martina Gillis,

Thursday, May 5, at 10:00 a.m., on the Wilson Building front steps. Councilmembers Fenty, Graham, and Patterson are confirmed speakers and supporters. Use the city’s budget surplus for schools, housing, and health care, not tax cuts for the wealthy. Some Council members have made an outrageous proposal to use the surplus for $125 million in tax cuts, on top of $100 million tax cuts already in the budget. Tell the Council that DC residents want their surplus invested in other priorities: school repairs and construction, keeping our teachers and other critical school employees (stopping over 300 layoffs), child care assistance for working parents, replacing cuts in federal rental assistance, housing for victims of domestic violence, substance abuse treatment, and emergency housing for homeless families with children. For more information, call DC Public Schools Full Funding Campaign, 491-6593, or the Fair Budget Coalition, 328-5513.


National Building Museum Events, May 7
Brie Hensold,

Saturday, May 7, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. When the Atlas Movie Theater complex opened in 1938, its H Street, NE, neighborhood was a vibrant mix of residences, shops, and a synagogue. Eight years after the 1968 riots, the theater closed. Early this year, it partially reopened as the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Scott Kenison, director of Patron and Partner Services, will lead a tour of this project, which includes professional and lab theaters, dance studios, office and support spaces, and the restoration of the distinctive Art Moderne facade. Open only to Museum members, $15. Limited space available. Prepaid registration required.

Saturday, May 7, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thesis projects representing one year of work on a single design scheme signify the completion of the 5 1/2-year Master of Architecture curriculum at The Catholic University of America. Six students from a class of over thirty will present their projects to an internationally recognized panel of jurors: Reed Kroloff, dean of Tulane University’s School of Architecture, Lisa Iwamoto of the Berkeley-based form IS.Ar Iwamoto Scott Architecture, Gregg Pasquarelli of the New York firm SHoP, and Adam Yarinsky of Architecture Research Office in New York. Free. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Saturday, May 7, 1:00-4:00 p.m. Eco Vase. Combine creativity with recycled materials to make an environmentally friendly and decorative vase. A perfect gift for Mother’s Day! $3 per project for Museum members; $5 nonmembers. All ages. Drop-in program. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.


Woman of the Year Award, 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 6; $175 after May 6.

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.


Women of Gala Vision Awards, May 13
Dorinda White,

Women in Film and Video will hold its Women of Gala Vision Awards on May 13 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. Join WIFV in celebrating Hollywood in Washington! You are invited to attend the Women in Film and Video’s Event of the Year. This exclusive black tie gala includes cocktails, dinner, celebrities, silent auction, and awards presentation. In special recognition, WIFV is honoring Carrie Fisher (Richard Dreyfuss presenting), along with an impressive group of Women of Vision honorees. We have prepared a special audio message just for you. Make sure your PC’s speakers are turned on and click Please note that sponsorship opportunities are still available. Call 429-9438 for reservations or to donate to our silent auction. We hope to see you there!


Carmen Deedy at Washington Storytellers, May 21
Brad Hills,

Washington Storytellers Theater presents Carmen Deedy, Ay, Cuba! at the City Museum of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, on Saturday, May 21, 8:00 p.m. Ticket price, $15 (senior, student, and group discount rates available). Purchase at the door or in advance by calling 545-6840 or on-line at Street or garage parking nearby (check web site for details); Metro Red line (Gallery Place), Green/Yellow (Mt. Vernon or Gallery Place), Blue/Orange (Metro Center).

Entertaining thousands of adults and children alike with her ultra energetic and charming style, Carmen Agra Deedy has recounted her tales of growing up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia, for over a decade; and people keep coming back. Deedy’s performances of the humorous and poignant episodes of familial living ring a familiar tone in the ear while retaining the unique quality of her individual upbringing. In addition to her personal stories, Deedy recounts classic folk tales from around the world and is an author of many published children’s books. She is also a regular contributor to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Latino USA and has performed throughout the country garnering awards and honors along the way.



Sierra Club Volunteer Opportunity, May 7
Chris Carney,

Take action for a future with better Metro service. Saturday, May 7, 10:00 a.m., at Southeast Branch Library, 403 7th Street, SE, next to the Eastern Market Metro Station.

Without stable, effective Metro service our region would face an overwhelming increase in traffic congestion and air pollution. We’re going to talk to our neighbors one-on-one about Metro’s long-term funding crisis, and about action they can take to ensure a future with more and better Metro service. To volunteer, send an E-mail to with your name, phone number, address, and your availability.

We’ll meet up at the Southeast Branch Library at 10 am (bagels and coffee provided!). There will be training and discussion, then we’ll go out to talk to our neighbors in the Eastern Market area. Stick around to join us for an after-event lunch social at a local restaurant. Read more about Metro and Sierra Club here: RSVP to Chris Carney at 237-0754 or


Host Families Sought
Harold Goldstein,

We seek families to host visiting students from France this summer. Most will arrive as a group in early August and stay for three weeks, although other combinations are possible. The students will range from twelve to sixteen years of age, and the host must have a child within two years of the age of the visitor.



Day of Service and School Search
Inez Saki-Tay,

The Young Members Committee at the National Press Club is setting up a day of service. Are there any ideas or projects that need assistance around May 21?

Someone very dear and close to me is on a school search for a three-year-old, soon to be four. Any ideas or suggestions?


Watch and Clock Repair
Emily Piccirillo,

I want to make a quick pitch for Moren Watch and Clock repair on the corner of Georgia and Thayer in downtown Silver Spring. (I received no favors for the kind words.) It is a wonderful family-run business. They have parts for timepieces that date back 75 years!


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