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June 8, 2005

Sole Source

Dear Sources:

In this issue of themail, Ilir Zherka, the executive director of DC Vote, complains about what I wrote on Wednesday about the million-dollar line item in the FY2006 budget support act for “voting rights education.” The scuttlebutt around the Wilson Building is that this is an inside, wired deal, and that the money is going to go to DC Vote. The council can’t legally award contracts by legislation, of course, so the intended recipient had to remain unspecified; that was the reason that the bill was written to allow the mayor to give the entire amount as a noncompetitive, sole-source grant. I didn’t write that on Sunday because I couldn’t verify it, but I’ll take Ilir’s indignation as sufficient evidence that the scuttlebutt is right. In any case, the budget support act was pulled from Tuesday’s legislative session, and the council didn’t vote on it because of problems that it still had to resolve on several issues, so the million-dollar, sole-source, noncompetitive grant remains pending. Ilir thinks that noncompetitive, sole-source contracts are a fine way for the city to do business. I don’t, but if the mayor were giving me a million I’d have to seriously reconsider my opinion.

On the other hand, Ilir says that the million dollars is just one ten thousandth of one percent of DC’s budget, which would make our annual municipal budget a trillion dollars a year, or close to $1.79 million for each of our 560,000 residents. The mayor could easily afford to give each of us a million dollars, and provide adequate city services with the rest. The actual FY2006 projected city budget isn’t a trillion, though it is a very hefty $6.26 billion, or about $11,000 per capita.

Until the budget reaches a trillion and we can overspend all we want, I’ll continue to object to no-bid, noncompetitive contracts that give taxpayers’ money to friends of the administration. It’s bad business and bad government. The DC Auditor recognizes that, as Dorothy points out below, even if the mayor and the City Administrator don’t.

Gary Imhoff


Follow the Money
Dorothy Brizill,

This week, DC Auditor Deborah Nichols released a scathing audit report regarding $150,000 in sole source contracts given by the Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM), including the Office of the City Administrator (OCA) ( The audit “sets forth findings and recommendations regarding oral agreements and payments to Lily Hu/Lily Hu & Associates and Melinda Yee-Franklin/The Siena Group, both located in Oakland, California, and payments to Mr. Ira Sockowitz/the Phoenix Consulting Group for work performed on the Mayor’s ‘trade mission’ to China/Thailand on October 14-25, 2004. Also included in this report are findings regarding a sole source noncompetitive contract awarded by the City Administrator (Mr. Robert C. Bobb) to Ms. Jane Brunner, a lawyer and member of the city council of Oakland, California.”

In her report, Nichols concludes that the “sole source agreements issued to four individuals by the Executive Office of the Mayor and Office of the City Administrator revealed a failure to follow sound procurement policies and procedures and to comply with the spirit, intent, and letter of the Procurement Practices Act of 1985, as amended, and procurement regulations. Moreover, public officials entrusted with responsibilities to ensure that public funds are used efficiently, effectively, economically, and in a way that complies with applicable laws and regulations did not adequately discharge these critical obligations. The transactions examined in this report reflected management behaviors that did not conform to the high ethical and professional standards expected of government officials and employees in the performance of their official duties. The District’s procurement regulations state: ‘The procurement business of the District shall be conducted in a manner above reproach and, expect as authorized by law, with complete impartiality and with preferential treatment for none.’

“The City Administrator’s action of identifying friends and associates, principally from Oakland, California, for noncompetitive, sole source ‘deals’ with the District government resulted in transactions that were not above reproach, ‘arms length,’ completely impartial, and free from the appearance of preferential treatment. The manner in which the Hu, Yee-Franklin, and Brunner transactions were handled increased the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse of District government resources. These transactions, or business opportunities, were not publicly disclosed or subjected to a credible competitive procurement process. The transactions examined by the Auditor were financed with public funds, and thus should not escape or be exempt from public scrutiny and complete accountability.”

Perhaps Nichols’ most devastating conclusion is contained in the reports’ final paragraph: “It is evident that the EOM has not learned any lessons from past procurement debacles involving the misuse and mismanagement of purchase cards, poor oversight, and lack of accountability for District owned and leased real estate, real estate purchase, mismanagement of the procurement of services for renovation projects and their costs while under the supervision and control of the Office of Property Management, and the long-standing mismanagement of the District’s procurement and contracting function and responsibilities. This and other examinations have repeatedly revealed that there have been no discernible improvements in the integrity of the District’s procurement and contracting operations.” Mayor Williams’s and Mr. Bobb’s angry and hostile resistance to and derisive dismissal of these disclosures don’t give much hope of future improvements, either.


How to Undermine Voting Rights
Ilir Zherka,

Themail makes several errors in its article, “How to Undermine DC Voting Rights” [themail, June 5] that I would like to correct. First, the mayor made a pledge to help raise $1 million for DC voting rights education at a DC Vote event in 2000 in response to a direct request for help from my predecessor. The mayor never forgot the pledge and has continued to work closely with DC Vote and other voting rights groups, but was hamstrung against raising private funds for this effort by his own Counsel’s office. For the last year, DC Vote has been working with the mayor and the city council to find ways for the city to raise public awareness of DC’s denial of voting representation in Congress. We applaud their decision to include funds for an education campaign in next year’s budget. This type of campaign is necessary since a recent, national poll commissioned by DC Vote showed that nearly eight out of ten Americans don’t know that DC residents do not have equal voting rights in congress. Once they were informed, more than eight out of ten Americans believe that congress should let DC vote. The grant (which represents less than 1/10,000th of 1 percent of DC’s budget) will be used to educate the public on a topic that impacts every aspect of life in the District. This is not a “forbidden expenditure,” as themail suggests. Congress forbids the city from “lobbying” for DC voting rights. The law (which is an outrage!) expressly bars spending money directly asking members of congress to vote for or against legislation on DC voting rights. But the definition of “lobbying” does not including “informing” or “educating” people about DC’s status. That is very much legal and necessary. It is sad that themail is more critical of the mayor for standing up for voting rights than of congress for both denying DC representation and gagging it from fighting against that injustice.


Is Bald Beautiful?
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

We’ll have to wait until the DC Mayoral election (and primaries) in ‘06 to find out if bald is beautiful. That’s when one of the seven male mayoral wannabes, five of whom are seriously folliclely challenged, may be elected mayor. Hard to tell if either of the two female challengers is wearing a wig.


Seat Belt Spying
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

Wenzell Taylor compared police enforcing seat belt laws to the Gestapo [themail, June 5]. I guess I missed learning how well-meaning the Gestapo really was, and how their ultimate penalty was issuing citations to the six-million Jews who must have died of causes not related to Gestapo actions. That’s an astonishingly offensive comparison, to two of the three parties — today’s police and Gestapo victims.

Wenzell then asked whether it’s important enough to justify “spying,” noted that it’s a privacy invasion, and asked, “How is it that the law was passed to force adults to wear seat belts? Can’t we all make that choice on our own?”" Though it’s difficult to take the questions seriously, here are the answers: the laws are passed to protect society from amply demonstrated societal consequences of peoples’ not wearing seat belts. The benefits — to individuals and society — of wearing belts are no more in question than the existence of gravity. Does Wenzell object to wearing belts or to being told that he must do so? Would he wear them unless he’s required to do so? Does he happily wear them in states where they’re not mandatory?

Does Wenzell oppose laws such as Virginia’s, which mandates use of headlights when windshield wipers are in use? Should that be everyone’s individual decision? Though the law doesn’t seem to be much enforced, more cars with headlights on means safer roads. I’m tired of not being able to see the morons who don’t turn on their lights even when all the cars around them have headlights on. Regarding the privacy issue — how much privacy can be expected when driving? Given what I see people doing in their cars every day, not much.


Big Box or Boutique, and Stripes on Flags
Elizabeth McIntire, elizabeth at innercity dot org

Ms. McKernan’s question [themail, June 5] is a good one. But the Columbia Heights’ Target, the last I heard, will be two stories, and there are supposed to be some smaller street-front storefronts as part of the plan, unless there have been drastic changes since the proposal of seven years ago. There is also an elaborate and ambitious “public realm” plan for Columbia Heights, that is yet to be fully funded, including a triangular public plaza opposite the Tivoli and the Target parcels. So in this specific instance, with some interested vigilance, there may be a welcoming pedestrian climate, if the sidewalks are wide enough and the fumes of vehicles stuck in traffic are somehow mitigated.

However, in the more general realm of the Comprehensive Plan / “Inclusive City” process, I hear there are questions about the zoning, and thus survival, of the smaller commercial sections on the 1400 block of Park Road and three blocks of 11th Street. These are currently supporting local businesses, new and old, and common sense would seem to indicate this would be the complementary component to the aforementioned disguised megamall. Maybe I’m not being fair to the planners, but responding to the condo fever by converting every square inch of less dense space, especially what has always been commercial in an already very dense residential area, does not seem appropriate.

As for the stripes and flags of Ed Barron’s query, these might be utility markers — they are color coded, but I don’t know the code.



Hoops Sagrado Fundraiser, June 9
Mindy Moretti,

It is that time of year again and Hoops Sagrado needs your help! Our primary grant has been halved this year, so we need your help now more than ever. Hoops Sagrado’s annual fundraiser will be held on Thursday, June 9, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at Chloe Restaurant in Adams Morgan, 2473 18th Street, NW. We will be featuring guest bartenders! The Hoops Sagrado students will run a non-alcohol smoothie stand. Spend at least $20 on drinks (at ANC Commissioner Miscuk’s bar) and get a free Chloe Brunch, or do the same at ANC Commissioner Moretti’s bar and get a free pie! Raffles for sports memorabilia, original art and free dinners at local area restaurants, and maybe be served a drink by Washington, DC’s, next mayor!

All tips and a percentage of the food and drinks will go towards airfare and Spanish school for Washington, DC, youth to spend a month working in Guatemala; where they spend their mornings learning Spanish and their afternoons in surrounding villages running basketball camps for the local Mayan children.

For five years we have run Hoops Sagrado (an Adams Morgan-based 501(c)3) and, thanks to many of you, Hoops has grown and flourished in the few years since we started the nonprofit organization. This past year we took seventeen DC kids to Guatemala for a month for an unforgettable experience of learning, growing, and acquiring critical leadership skills. Our trip is fast approaching, and we can’t do it without your help, so please join us for a drink.


Smoking or Non Town Hall Meeting, June 9
Alan Heymann, aheymann (at) dccouncil (dot) us

With four bills on smoke-free workplaces pending before the DC Council, Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward One) has scheduled a town hall meeting to hear from constituents on this issue. "Smoking or Non?" will feature brief presentations from eight panelists with various points of view, followed by an extensive session of questions from the audience. Bruce DePuyt of WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8 will moderate. Spanish translation will be available. Thursday, June 9, 7 - 9 p.m., Lincoln Theater, 1215 U Street, NW.

The eight panelists are Angela Bradbery, Cofounder, Smokefree DC; Ivy Brown, New York resident and business owner; Juan Romagoza, MD, Director, La Clinica Del Pueblo; Scott Sledge, Executive Vice President, Adams Morgan Business and Professional Association; Eric Marshall, Field Representative, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; John Warling, Sales Manager, Airistar Technologies; Peter Shields, MD, Oncologist, Lombardi Cancer Center of Georgetown University; Denis James, Executive Vice President, Kalorama Citizens Association.


DC Public Library Events, June 11
Debra Truhart,

Saturday, June 11, Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW. Author Cynthia Lee will discuss her book, Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom. Public contact: 541-6100.

Saturday, June 11, 1:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby. Celebrate the musical legacy of the late Eddie Kendricks, former lead singer of the legendary Temptations. The Black Studies Division of the DC Public Library sponsors this program in observance of Black Music Month in June. The event is hosted by Jimi Dougans, president of the Eddie Kendricks Memorial Foundation and former member of The Young Senators. Special appearances by The Young Senators and Washington, DC’s hottest rising star, Can-D. Also, free CD giveaways compliments of Motown Records. Public contact: 727-1211.


National Building Museum Events, June 13-14
Brie Hensold,

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

Monday, June 13, 6:30-8:00 p.m. The ancient system of Vedic architecture (also called sthapatya veda or vastu) transcends the current understanding of sustainability and helps architects design buildings that are profoundly in harmony with “natural law.” Jonathan Lipman, AIA, a practicing architect and a past president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, has spent the last decade designing buildings throughout the U.S. using the principles of Maharishi Vedic architecture. He will discuss the contemporary revival and scientific validation of this most ancient, sustainable system of architecture. Jeffrey Abramson, partner in The Tower Companies, who is planning a 195,000-square-foot, green, Vedic office building, will also participate in the program. $10 museum members and students; $15 nonmembers. Registration required.

Tuesday, June 14, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Since its founding in 1998, Studio 27 Architecture has produced some of Washington, DC’s more creative and unusual residential, commercial, and institutional projects using a design process evolving from primitive sketchbook “coffee washes” and chipboard models to sophisticated computer-aided techniques. Founding partners of the firm, John K. Burke, AIA, and Todd Ray, AIA, will lead a behind-the-scenes tour of the studio and discuss the firm’s design process using modern drafting techniques. This tour complements the exhibition Tools of the Imagination. Open only to museum members, $10. Space is limited. Prepaid registration required. To register call the museum or visit beginning May 16.


Humanities Council Honors George Pelecanos, June 14
Shana Young,

Tickets still available! On June 14, 6:00-8:30 p.m., the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, will present best-selling novelist, screenwriter and producer George Pelecanos with the Public Humanities Award in honor of his contributions to Washington, DC, history, life, and culture. Pelecanos is the author of thirteen best-selling crime/noir novels, including The Big Blowdown, Hard Revolution, and the most recent Drama City. This is a salon-style event with conversation and audience interaction, and will take place at the Arts Club of Washington (2017 I Street, NW). Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Tickets cost $100 and proceeds benefit the Council’s public programs. Contact Shana Young at 387-8391 for more information.


Set Point Doubles Tennis Tournament, June 18
Vanessa Brooks,

SET POINT, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) organization comprised of concerned parents and professionals who want to see our area youth meet their academic maximum potential through participation in an individual sport such as tennis. In an effort to raise the necessary funds enabling a group of tennis playing youth "East of the River" participation in this year’s annual ATA (American Tennis Association) tournament, Turner Construction, Clark Construction, PEPCO, Session Title Services, as well as other community responsive business partners have stepped forward to assist in this effort to stage this organization’s first annual adult doubles tennis tournament. Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. until dusk, at Anacostia Park Tennis Courts on the Anacostia Waterfront. Entry fee is $25.00. Contact Vanessa Brooks at 581-0406 or E-mail for application and additional information.


Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Public Board Meeting, June 20
David Howard,

The Anacostia Waterfront Corporation will hold a public board meeting on Monday, June 20, from 6:00 p.m. through 8:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at Van Ness Elementary School, 1150 5th Street, SE, in the Auditorium. Copies of the presentations will be available on-site. Questions should be directed to Melissa McKnight at 724-4314. The agenda for the public meeting is as follows: 1) CEO’s report, 2) public comment, 3) summer grants announcement, and 4) chairman concludes.



Yard Sale
Patricia Chittams,

Rain or shine, Saturday, June 11, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 2709 N Street, NW Books, kids clothing, toys, miscellaneous furniture. There will also be hot dogs, chips, and soda for sale.



Repair Technician for IMAC G5 Computers
Gary Rice,

I am seeking a repair technician for IMAC G5 computers. It is more about getting it set up properly than a need for repairs. Anyone know of such a person, please contact me at


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