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June 12, 2005


Dear Festive Readers:

Michael Killian has written a rather funny article in the Chicago Tribune (,1,1955739.story?coll=chi-leisuretempo-hed&ctrack=2&cset=true)  about how the whole city of Washington is going to be turned into a six-month Shakespeare festival for the first half of 2007. “The Washington festival I’m about to describe, however,” Killian writes, “is to ordinary Shakespeare festivals what a theme park is to firemen’s carnivals. Not only will this extravaganza take over the entire city and suburbs; it will feature the participation of no fewer than 22 cultural institutions, ranging from the lofty Royal Shakespeare Company (here from Britain to perform something of its choosing) and Russia’s Kirov Ballet (performing Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’), to a Folger Shakespeare Library musical ‘Lone Star Love, or, the Merry Wives of Windsor, Texas,’ and, from inimitable New York, the Tiny Ninja Theater.” If you intend to leave Washington, it sounds like you should postpone your moving plans for a couple years, so that you won’t miss anything.

But every summer in Washington is a never-ending round of enjoyable community and street festivals. In the past month or so, Dorothy and I have been to the Spanish heritage festival at Strathmore in Rockville, the Bethesda Arts street festival, the Dupont-Kalorama Museums walk, the Philippines festival on Pennsylvania Avenue, and today the Crystal City Rocks tastings event with music from Da Vinci’s Notebook  ( and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy ( — and we’ve passed up many more events than we’re been able to get to. Please help us, and themail’s other readers, find the best events in your neighborhoods this summer. If something good is coming up, don’t keep it to yourself; let us know.

Gary Imhoff


On Trial
Dorothy Brizill,

Last week, after nearly two years, the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) trial got underway before Judge Leon in Courtroom 7 of the US District Courthouse. After a protracted jury selection process, eighteen jurors (including six alternate jurors) were selected. In opening statements on Thursday, US Attorney Anthony Alexis detailed the theft, embezzlement, and money laundering charges and the conspiracy scheme that are detailed in the November 20, 2003, indictment ( In response, attorneys for the remaining three defendants who have not accepted plea agreements — Gwen Hemphill, James Baxter, and James Goosby — proclaimed the innocence of their clients. While acknowledging that “big time thieving” took place, attorney Michele Roberts, representing Baxter, argued that, while he had the title and position of union treasurer, it was “largely ceremonial,” and that he wasn’t fully aware of the union’s financial situation. Nancy Luque, representing Gwen Hemphill, portrayed Hemphill as a “hardworking 65-year-old grandmother” who was simply a secretary and a "low-level employee at WTU," and described former union president Barbara Bullock, who pled guilty on October 7, 2003 (, as the “kingpin” of the scheme who created a “culture of greed” at WTU.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, through the end of July.


Cleaning Campaigns
Zoe Yerkes,

The concept of fair play is often shelved during political combat season, instead replaced by the bending of rules to their extreme. Adrian Fenty is the first of the Exploratory Committee crew to throw his hat into the ring. As an elected official who is campaigning on a theme of good, clean, honest government, Fenty should set the standard for how an Exploratory Committee terminates its operations and, in the spirit of the law, transfer nothing to the actual Campaign Committee.

The Washington Post reports that Fenty’s Exploratory spending included a $71,750 poll. Is it lawful or ethical for him to use the data obtained from that poll to conduct or guide operations of his Campaign Committee? I think not. The information obtained from this poll should be sealed in a vault.

Also, people who subscribed to Fenty’s Exploratory Committee E-mail list are now receiving messages from the official Fenty Campaign web site. That list, compiled via the Exploratory web site and at Exploratory events, should be discarded.


DMV Georgetown Service Center to Close for Summer
Janis Hazel,

The Department of Motor Vehicles Georgetown Service Center, located at 3222 M Street, NW, in the Shops at Georgetown Park will close beginning Monday, June 20, for expansion and renovations. It is anticipated that the construction work will require approximately sixty days. Currently the Georgetown center is limited to renewal services only. When it reopens in late summer, the service offerings will be expanded to include original driver license and ID issuance, vehicle titling, and registration services, and support services such as medical review, insurance support, driver records, and permit control.

The facility will be closed until late summer in order to speed the construction schedule and protect employees and citizens from the safety and nuisance issues it will create. In the interim, citizens are encouraged to “Skip the Trip” to DMV by using Internet renewal options at taking advantage of mail renewal options, and visiting DMV’s three other services centers at 301 C Street, NW, 1233 Brentwood Road, NE, and 3214 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. The exact date for the late-summer reopening is expected to be announced in August. For DMV Service Center locations and hours of service, please visit or call the DMV call center at 727-5000.


New Article About the Digital Divide Network Web Site
Phil Shapiro,

I was recently asked to write an article about the new Digital Divide Network web site ( This web site and accompanying E-mail list unites over 7,000 people worldwide who are working on initiatives to bridge the digital divide. The article I wrote appears in the latest issue of Community Technology Review, a semiannual national publication. You can find the article at

Thanks for alerting people you know who might be interested in this article and online community. There is no charge to participate on this web site or E-mail list. “Digital divide” is defined very broadly in this community. Anyone working to make the world a more inclusive place would feel at home in this online community. It’s useful to note that you can choose your level of involvement on the Digital Divide Network web site. Just showing up counts for a lot.


Sole Source Contracting and Internecine Warfare
Timothy Cooper,

The mayor’s legislation to award a million dollar sole source, noncompetitive grant to DC Vote will only encourage internecine warfare among the various DC pro-democracy groups, inspiring unhelpful animosity and discordant relations, detrimental to the movement as a whole. It is wrongheaded and counterproductive, and as Gary Imhoff has duly noted [themail, June 8] a perfect example of insider-trading in DC government. The legislation should be revised.

Pro-voting rights groups should be permitted to submit proposals for consideration on a competitive basis to a nonpartisan body appointed for that purpose. While DC Vote should have every right to compete for a grant, it should by no means be the sole recipient of the proposed DC voting rights education funding. To suggest otherwise is to disrespect the voting rights movements as a whole. While DC Vote is certainly a contributive part of the movement, it is not the sum total of the whole. Not by any means.


Sole Source Contracting
Edward Cowan,

In principle, I agree with [Gary Imhoff, themail, June 8] about the evils and perils of sole-source contracting. (And when someone gets his numbers wrong, can we trust him to get anything right?) And yet, as a practical matter, one must wonder whether there is a threshold below which an outlay is too small to warrant competitive bidding. To invent a convenient example, if my office needed a stapler, I would send someone to buy it at an office-supply store (preferably a low-priced store). Apart from dollar magnitude, there is the question of expedition. If I discover a leak in the roof and rain is forecast for the day after tomorrow, is it prudent to take the time to seek bids? You get the point.


Seat Belt Laws
James Treworgy,

If seat belt laws exist only to protect people, and not to grant power to the police -- an irrefutable consequence -- then I’d like to know why DC, Maryland, and Virginia do not have bicycle helmet laws except for minors. This is an activity arguably much more dangerous than driving without a seat belt. Likewise, I’d like to know why other common activities that are far more dangerous are not outlawed under the same premise cited by Mr. Goldberg: “The benefits — to individuals and society — of wearing belts are no more in question than the existence of gravity.”

If you think this is a good enough reason to pass a law, just replace “wearing seat belts” with “not eating Big Macs,” “not downhill skiing,” “exercising thirty minutes per day,” and “going to college.” Should we mandate these activities by law under the premise that they are unquestionably beneficial to the individual and society?


Seat Belt Spying
Wenzell Taylor,

Responding to Gabe Goldberg (themail, June 9): Personally, Wenzell Taylor does object to wearing seat belts unless he chooses to do so. And yes, Wenzell Taylor also objects to being told he must do so when he feels he doesn’t want to. The wearing of seat belts, as opposed to not talking on cell phones, putting on makeup, eating, or even reading a map while driving will not make Wenzell Taylor or anyone else a better driver of vehicles. Using infrared devices to catch one not wearing them, though, is a quick, efficient way of making money. If the government is so well meaning, shouldn’t the most vulnerable of victims, school bus children, be required to wear them? Haven’t you seen the onboard videos of these children in school bus accidents being flipped in the air?

What Wenzell Taylor is opposed to ultimately is this rising police state we now live under. The political morons dictating and making public decisions to benefit themselves and not their constituents. He suggests to you that a large amount of the laws passed today are designed in some way to make money. Wenzell Taylor lives in what was one of the first designated “hot spots.” For months now, DC MPD has been highly visible sitting around in the neighborhood in an attempt to curb crime. About ten days ago they went so far as to put up signs declaring the neighborhood as drug free. Knowing better, the children in the neighborhood took the signs down. At night jackasses still stand back in the dark areas and in the shadows and randomly fire automatic weapons and conduct drug transactions with the police hardly forty to fifty yards away. Where are the infrared devices then? As soon as the police cars pull out of the area, after watching the criminals watch them, the kids with the mini bikes and pocket bikes are back out in the streets dodging in and out of traffic and the criminals do business as usual. They do this in broad daylight as well. And summer hasn’t even come to the “hot spots” yet.

Wenzell Taylor would like for the government to enforce laws already on the books and not create new laws making personal decisions for him. With themail’s permission I invite you to listen to the broadcasts Monday through at 10 p.m. at



DC Public Library West End Film Club, June 14
Debra Truhart,

Tuesday, June 14, 12:00 p.m. West End Neighborhood Library, 1101 24th Street, NW. West End Film Club. Bring your lunch and enjoy a film. Public contact: 724-8707.


National Building Museum Events, June 16
Brie Hensold,

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

Thursday, June 16, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Hear the story of how a highly energy-efficient home was built in five days for the ABC television show Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, during one of the worst storms in Los Angeles history. Rob Hammon, principal of ConSol, will tell the story of this project and home, built by Pardee Homes and designed by ConSol to exceed California requirements to save 70 percent in annual energy bills. The house draws less than 1kW during the peak summer utility period. Free. Registration not required.

Thursday, June 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m. David Thompson, AIA, vice president of RTKL Associates Inc., will explore the history of architectural drawing instruments through his own professional odyssey that has taken him from his first use of a ruling pen on linen to the development of computer-aided design software to his current interest in collecting specialized 18th and 19th century architectural instruments. His richly illustrated lecture complements the exhibition Tools of the Imagination, which will be open for viewing. $10 Museum members and students; $15 nonmembers. Registration required.


Washington Democratic Meetup Group, June 28
Susana Baranano,

Come and meet DC Democrats at Washington Democratic Meetup Group 153 at Ben’s Chili Bowl, 1213 U St., NW, June 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tom Sherwood is the guest speaker.



Send a Kid to Camp
Edna Small,

I’ve been following with dismay the low amounts raised so far in the “Send a Kid to Camp” campaign, a fundraising campaign sponsored by the Washington Post for an excellent camp program run by Family and Child Services. (This is a well-run private agency that has run Camp Moss Hollow for many years. People sometime confuse the agency with a DC government agency with a similar name.) Columns by John Kelley in the Comics section covers this effort, and gives directions for making contributions, but many folks don’t read the comics. Unlike me. So check there, or E-mail me. It’s a chance to make an important contribution to area kids who otherwise would never have the experience of summer camp, with all its benefits. Over the years, I’ve read the testimony of former campers, and been amazed at how significant an experience it has been for many.



Life Guard Classes
Peg Blechman,

Does anyone know where a fourteen-year old can take a life guard course this summer in DC?


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