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June 29, 2005


Dear Patrons:

Well, I'm back in the fray again, with the last thing I'll write about smoking bans for awhile, so I won't pile on with an introductory note. Next issue, I promise. 

Gary Imhoff  


The Baseball Stadium Project Labor Agreement
Dorothy Brizill,

At a press conference at RFK Stadium on June 16, Mayor Williams announced a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) among the District government; the Washington, DC, Building and Construction Trades Council; and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters ( The agreement will govern all construction jobs at the District's new ballpark. As I wrote in the last issue of themail (June 26), City Administrator Robert Bobb, the lead negotiator of the PLA for the city, stated on WAMU's District Politics Hour on June 17 that the District government had done a “due diligence study” or economic impact analysis of the PLA, and promised that he would provide a copy of that study. On June 23, the City Administrator's office sent me the paper that the administration had submitted to the city council as its due diligence study, a memorandum to the mayor that had been prepared by consultant Jane Brunner, dated June 20, entitled “Project Labor Agreement and the Baseball Stadium” ( Brunner, an Oakland, California, city councilmember, was awarded a sole-source noncompetitive $90,000 contract in June 2004 to work on the ballpark issue. In July 2004 she submitted invoices for her work on the development and negotiation of a PLA, months before Major League Baseball announced its decision to relocate the Expos to Washington on September 29, 2004. 

Now it turns out that Brunner's June 20, 2005, paper was plagiarized from a position paper drafted by the lawyer for the unions of the Building and Construction Trades Council. Holland & Knight Attorney Roderic Woodson, before the city council's Government Operations Committee on June 24, testified that the Brunner memo “is a word-for-word recitation of a memo written for the trade union guilds in April,” and Woodson provided that original memo as proof ( In other words, in its “negotiation” with the unions, the city started by adopting the unions' position as its own, and Brunner collected a fee from the city for copying the unions' position paper and putting her own name on it. 

City Administrator Bobb now acknowledges that the Brunner paper isn't a “due diligence study” and that the city didn't do a due diligence study before deciding to enter into and negotiating the PLA. At a hearing of the Committee on Government Operations on Monday on the DC Auditor's report on improper contracting activities by the mayor and the City Administrator, Bobb testified that the DC Department of Employment Services and the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission are going to write the first half of an after-the-fact “due diligence study” of whether the city should enter into a PLA. This “first half” is due next week, possibly before the Sports Commission votes on July 6 to approve the PLA. The District government is now in the process of identifying an entity that can complete the “other half” of the due diligence study in the next ninety days, months after it would have been useful if the administration had really wanted an independent assessment of whether the city should have entered into a PLA. 


A Solution to Small Planes Flying Over the Nation’s Capital
Phil Shapiro,

I've got a simple solution to the problem of small planes flying over the nation's capital. The FAA should send a hammer and chisel to all small airports within a 500 mile radius. Any pilot submitting a flight plan would be told by the airport manager, “The FAA requires us to chisel into your windshield the words: Don't Fly Over the Nation's Capital.” If the pilot objects, the airport manager could say, “Okay, we won't chisel those words on your windshield if you promise not to fly over the nation's capital.” Pilots would either get the point, or they'd get the point of the chisel.


Bobb, Rhymes with Rob
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

And that what Mr. Bobb appears to be doing — dipping his hand in the public trough as though it were his mom's cookie jar to pay off some cronies from his last place of employment. Seems to me the contracting process in DC is very flawed when an administrative official can award contracts to "consultants" (who are personal friends of the official) at $200 per hour for conversations with Bobb and Internet research. Where are the checks and balances for reviewing contact awards?


Cops Fight Crime — Mostly Jaywalking
Bryce A. Suderow,

On the Saturday before last, a person was gunned down, doused with gasoline and set ablaze behind Danny's Carryout on 13th and H Streets, NE. I think the activity of the cops since that event says a lot about the state of the Metropolitan Police Department under Chief Ramsey. 

1) The police have been driving up and down H Street and its side streets with flashing lights to show their deep concern for public safety in the neighborhood. 2) But the cops' main activity has been issuing jaywalking tickets at 14th and H. Witnesses state that they've issued many tickets mostly to black teenagers. 3) The cops took time off from issuing tickets on one occasion. This is when the jump-out team made its appearance at 12th and H, which is a well known drug corner for the sale of heroin. (Nearby there's also a drug corner for crack).

Let's hear it for the boys and girls in blue!


The Mayor and Voting Resolutions
Steve Leraris,

During all his trips these last few years, has the mayor requested and or received any resolutions of support for DC voting representation? There are some listed on, but I bet none is attributed to him.


Space Shuttle Discovery
David Crawford,

Here comes July, are you ready? The space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to return to flight during the launch window of July 13-31. Space exploration will be back in everyone's mind and manned space flight will continue to inspire another generation of future astronauts. There will be talk of returning to the Moon and then on to Mars again at the water coolers around the world. If Discovery performs as expected, the month of July 2005 will be a major mark on human space exploration history. 

The shuttle Discovery has also gone through many other changes that the average person does not know. It was already on the rebuilding boards before the tragic loss of Columbia. On the interior many gauges and even dials and buttons have been changed into flat panel displays and modern equipment. The shuttle Discovery is the current flagship for human space exploration.

A new generation of human space exploration will begin in the next five years. The space shuttle fleet is set for retirement in 2010 and other human space exploration vehicles are already in the works. What an amazing time to be alive. 


Valuing Intangibles More
Angela Preston, missp72 at yahoo dot com

In answer to Phil Shapiro's questions in the last issue of themail (Giving to Each Other, June 26), a national nonprofit organization named New American Dream, based in Takoma Park, Maryland, works towards creating a society where things are valued less and the intangibles in life are valued more. The organization's web site is at


Eminent Domain
Keshini Ladduwahetty,

I hope that my fellow liberals will a take stand firmly against governmental destruction of whole neighborhoods for the purpose of replacing genuine communities with wealthy developments. I hope I am mistaken in thinking that the opposition to this abuse of power is stemming mainly from conservatives, based on their concern for private property rights.

I would hope that liberals and conservatives see these cases as classic confrontations of corporate power versus human communities. The benefits of genuine communities, which require years to form, represent an unquantified economic and emotional asset in these troubled times. Governments should seek to nurture community, not destroy it.

We have an opportunity here for liberals and conservatives to join together to reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding communities in the face of organized corporate power and governments acting as its handmaiden.


Banned at WPFW
Lea Adams,

I just listened to “Banned at WPFW” [themail, June 26]. It's unfortunate that the controversy surrounding the station has taken such an ugly turn, but from what I heard, it sounds like the protesters are behind most of the discrimination. I listened to three men talk about alleged “racism” and “sexism” at the only radio station in DC that has provided a safe-haven for diversity for more than a quarter of a century. The only station that has consistently welcomed poets, youth, people of various sexual orientations, Caribbeans and Hispanics — from day one! What I heard was, to put it simply, blatant age discrimination cloaked in a complaint about the imagined absence of diversity and some preposterous notion of African-American "racial" discrimination against everyone else. The three men speaking (largely for a defenseless but voiceless woman "victim") showed inexcusable ignorance of WPFW's or Pacifica's history.

It sounded to me like a group of young upstarts who want to usurp their inheritance ahead of time and are willing to destroy those who came before them to get it. I heard greed and arrogance from people who should be grateful. The idea of a group of self-styled “progressives” bringing suit against WPFW and claiming that they're discriminated against because they aren't African-American is downright foolishness. They should be ashamed. They should do like we used to do and work it out. And if they can't, like some of us couldn't in other public or commercial radio environments, they ought to have the courage to start a station from scratch instead of whining about the one they have to serve, respect, and contribute to without instant glory in order to inherit it.

As a founding member of WPFW, I worked in a building without heat or running water at Florida Avenue and 18th Street when Adams-Morgan was anything but chic. We broadcast a dozen programs that included one produced and hosted by “white” lesbians; Vaughn Martin's Caribbeana, the only DC news and entertainment show that offered in-depth coverage of the Caribbean; a literary program hosted by “white” poet Grace Cavalieri. We worked against outrageous odds, without compensation, to get the station on the air, to keep the signal up, to get the lock on the door replaced and the floorboards replaced, while simultaneously bringing progressive radio to audiences who had never heard of Pacifica. Denise Oliver-Velez was a bilingual former member of the Young Lords organization; the late Betty Diaz, spoke, breathed and lived Latina culture on and off the air; Daniel Del Solar, a “white-skinned” [Mr. Ruffin's words] Hispanic man claimed not only his indigenous and Spanish heritage, but also his less visible African antecedents; the late Greg Millard, African-American, gay, with a Chinese-American partner, was our first station manager.


Bring Back Spittoons
David Sobelsohn, dsobelso -at- capaccess -dot- org

A member of the city council is considering introducing a law to legalize public spitting of chewing tobacco, at least in bars and restaurants. I've seen a draft of his speech. Here's an excerpt: “This is not about the right to spit in public. This bill deals with private establishments. After this bill becomes law, any bar or restaurant in this city may either ban or permit the spitting of tobacco. For those who ban the spittoon, tobacco spitters would just have to spit elsewhere. I expect many businesses in Washington, DC, will ban the spittoon. But this is not about the rights of those who think it's disgusting, distasteful, or unhealthy to have tobacco-juice regularly spit into open, possibly overflowing spittoons. You don't have the right to walk onto someone else's property, demand to be served food or drink someone else has bought, and demand that they serve you on your terms. If restaurant owners want to permit tobacco spitting on their premises, that should be their privilege. This also isn't about workers' rights. The idea that Washington, DC, law currently bans public spitting of tobacco to protect waiters, waitresses, and bartenders from getting hit by errant streams of spit tobacco is a canard. There are countless jobs and professions far more dangerous than serving food or drink in the presence of streams of spit tobacco juice. The people who choose those jobs know the risks. The health and safety risks associated with overflowing spittoons of tobacco juice are debatable. But this simple fact isn't: a waiter or bartender who chooses to work for an establishment that allows tobacco spitting knows what kind of environment he'll be working in.”

If this bill passes, the same councilmember, on the same theory, will introduce legislation to permit restaurants and bars to open without providing restrooms. That will preserve choice, denied under current law. Customers who prefer to patronize restaurants without restrooms will have the option to go to those restaurants. Waitstaff who work at restaurants without restrooms will know what risks they're taking, and just have to use facilities somewhere else before and after work. If they have to use a restroom while on duty, and that means they have to leave work and go down the block, and that means they get fired, well, lots of jobs have risks.

Gary Imhoff in the June 26 themail claims some people like “smoky air.” Actually, a person smoking needs clean air as much as the rest of us. Mad Magazine once suggested the perfect solution to the problem of secondhand smoke: just require all smokers to wear space helmets, so the smoke would stay in their airspace. That works for me! But it wouldn't work for smokers, because while they smoke they need to pollute clean air in order to tolerate their own habit. I say, just keep it away from me.


Smoke Free Bill
Richard Wolf,

Gary, your arguments [themail, June 26] miss the point completely. Restaurants are not a home or even a private club; they are places of public accommodation. That is, everyone must be accommodated, including persons with disabilities, like persons with asthma and other long diseases. Look at the DC anit-discrimination law. Since 1964 there has been a warning on cigarette packages that says “the surgeon general has determined that smoking may be dangerous to your heath.” That warning was adopted by the Congress at the behest of some very smart lawyers from Covington & Burling who represented and may still represent the Tobacco Institute. The idea was to put smokers on notice that smoking is dangerous and if you smoke it amounts to “assumption of risk” by the smoker so they have no basis to sue the tobacco companies later for illnesses caused by the smoking. Since then secondhand smoke has been recognized as being dangerous as smoking — in fact, the evidence as to the terrible health consequences of smoking and secondhand smoke is overwhelming. Of course, the tobacco companies have known for many years that you cannot just stop smoking because it is dangerous to your health. Smoking is addictive — almost as addictive as a cocaine habit. So, Gary, I think the freedom to be sick and to inflict your sickness on others is not within the scope of the freedoms which you advocate — certainly not in places of public accommodation.


Debatability Questionable
Bruce Jones, bruce.jones@capitalcitizen

While I'll leave the property-rights argument to others, I find it inconceivable that [Gary Imhoff] believes, and I quote, “The health risks associated with secondhand smoke are debatable” [themail, June 26]. The CDC and U.S. Surgeon General, along with every reputable scientific study of second hand smoke say otherwise. Even Philip Morris and Carol Schwartz now concede that the scientific evidence is conclusive ( 

Do you realize that in 1938, the AP news wire reported that a Johns Hopkins University study showed that “smoking is associated with a definite impairment in longevity”? In 1944 AP reported about a Northwest Mutual Insurance actuary study and in 1948 AP reported about a Mayo Clinic study. Both studies conclusively detailed the risks of smoking and both stories were buried by US newspapers. As the scientific evidence accumulated and Congress held hearings in 1957, the US newspapers were forced to publicize the story. Still, nearly every story concerning smoking risk contained a Tobacco Institute statement dismissing the evidence as inconclusive, when it really wasn't. Our free press ain't exactly free, and that's why themail is important.

If secondhand smoke health risks are debatable, then so is evolution, the earth revolving around the sun, and the evidence that smoking causes lung cancer are debatable too. Mock politics and science if you please, but don't mock the intelligence of your readers. I believe that you're better than that.


Gary Imhoff,

So why don't I fall in line and march with the smoking prohibition crusade? Largely, I suspect, it's a matter of personality type — I wouldn't elevate it to a matter of philosophical differences, or lower it to a matter of political differences. I wrote about this before, when I wrote about the panic over trace spills of mercury in schools. The world of full of things that can kill you. Mostly they won't. It's a matter of dosage and exposure. Something is going to catch you eventually. Before then you're going to be exposed to millions of risks, and that exposure will usually just build your tolerance. If children could be raised without any exposure to childhood diseases, they would be extraordinarily susceptible to diseases as adults. But we live in an age of risk zero tolerance, when many people demand the complete elimination of all risks, even when those risks are well below the dosage level at which they are relatively harmless. It may be necessary to wear a white suit and work in a clean room in order to build transistors; but it isn't necessary in order to serve martinis. The aspiration to an antiseptic world carries its own risks, and not just the risk of living perpetually in fear. I don't want to cry wolf over harmless levels of toxic substances; but to reserve action for real dangers — toxic levels of toxic substances, like the lead that was found in DC drinking water. 

That brings us to the question of what has been scientifically proven about the danger of secondhand smoke. Most people who argue for prohibition very quickly elide from saying, “Secondhand smoke is dangerous,” to saying, “because of what the studies have proven about smoking.” That's because there's good evidence about the health risks of smoking, but the credible scientific studies of secondhand smoke show some small, barely statistically significant danger, not nearly comparable to the health risks of smoking. The results of the scientific studies on secondhand smoke have been politicized and exaggerated for political purposes, to aid in a movement to prohibit smoking entirely, in gradual steps. I've reviewed the page that Bruce Jones cites on the Philip Morris web site, and what it says is, “The government believes that secondhand smoke is dangerous, and it makes us say that, too, to escape further costly litigation.” It amazes me that the same people who are most skeptical of everything that the government says about every other subject become credulous faithful believers when it comes to what the government say about secondhand smoke. I've read everything the American Cancer Society and Environmental Protection Agency have published about this subject, and it all has more to do with politics than science. I stand with the skepticism of those eminent authorities Penn and Teller ( and Michael Crichton (; click on the Caltech Michelin lecture, and scroll a little more than halfway down). No, I don't believe secondhand smoke causes dental cavities or breast cancer, as two studies claim to prove. I wouldn't blow a large cloud of smoke directly in the face of a young child with asthma, but neither irritation nor coughing proves a cancer risk. In fact, it's very unlikely that any of the chemicals in smoke that cause nasal irritation or coughing in nonsmokers are the same as those that cause cancer in smokers. As for the real dangers, as Crichton states, “In a 1994 pamphlet the EPA said that the eleven studies it based its decision on were not by themselves conclusive, and that they collectively assigned secondhand smoke a risk factor of 1.19. (For reference, a risk factor below 3.0 is too small for action by the EPA. Or for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.)” If the subject weren't tobacco, the risks posed by secondhand smoke wouldn't be worth doing anything about. 

This is science in the service of shaping public policy; in other words, it is bad science. As the American Cancer Society says in one of its pamphlets, “Local, state, and federal authorities can enact public policies to protect people from secondhand smoke and to protect children from tobacco-caused diseases and addiction. Because there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke, it is important that any such policies be as strong as possible, and that they do not prevent action at other levels of government” (  That's the plan. Prohibiting smoking in bars doesn't protect children from exposure to smoke. To do that, we must prohibit smoking in homes, in automobiles, anywhere in the presence of children. That's step two, coming soon to a legislature near you. All right, let the fury begin. I'll publish one more round of replies, and then let's move on to fresh outrages. 



Solidarity DC Happy Hour Benefit at Andalu, June 30
Charles Stevenson,

Come raise a glass and celebrate real family values! Join Solidarity DC for the Lawyers for Children and Just Garments Factory Workers happy hour, Thursday, June 30, 5:30 p.m., at Andalu, 1214 18th Street, NW (Dupont Circle Metro). $10 suggested donation (no one turned away). All proceeds go to Lawyers for Children and Just Garments. Live music featuring the Nate Clendenen Duo, DJ Rob, DJ Ted Shred, and DJ Reehee! Solidarity DC happy hour prices!

Lawyers for Children helps children in the child protection system because of abuse and neglect through effective legal advocacy, with a highly dedicated and trained network of volunteer attorneys. Just Garments is the first independent and fully worker-owned, cooperative, garment factory in El Salvador. It is made up of thousands of workers that were blackballed by the established garment factory system in El Salvador after trying to organize a union. Solidarity DC is a group committed to bringing the DC metropolitan area's progressive community together to have fun and achieve justice, one happy hour at a time! This will be our ninth happy hour. To learn more about the event or Solidarity DC or to get E-mail updates, contact


How to Waste a Perfectly Good Half Hour of Your Life
Mark Eckenwiller,

If you have absolutely nothing better to do at the start of the holiday weekend, you can kill thirty minutes watching me on Jeopardy! on Friday, July 1.

In metro DC, the show airs on WJLA (channel 7) at 7:30 p.m.; for station/time information in other areas, see


Inform the International Community, July 1
Gina Trippi,

Friday, July 1, 12 noon, Freedom Plaza, between 13th and 14th Streets, NW, at Pennsylvania Avenue. We will join Worldrights, DC Young Suffragists, DC Vote, Committee for the Capital City, DC Statehood Green Party, DC for Democracy, Black Reparations, DC Peace and Economic Justice Program and Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition for two separate “Equal Voting Rights for DC” Rallies.

Together, we aim to show members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that we in America's capital are angry about the denial of congressional voting representation and we are not going to take it anymore! The OSCE, a collection of fifty-five nations, including the US, has formally addressed the prohibition on voting rights for DC citizens. And the DC city council unanimously passed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Emergency Resolution of 2005, on June 7. 

There is power in numbers. A strong showing of support can only help us to raise awareness and necessary funding for our efforts. The more who know, the more who will support our efforts.


DC Vote to Unveil Political Art Display, July 1
Kevin Kiger, 

At the “Equal Voting Rights for DC Rally” on Friday, July 1, at 12:00 noon in downtown Washington on Freedom Plaza, DC Vote will unveil a political art display that visually describes DC's denial of a vote in America's democracy. The political art display, titled “Under Development: Equal Voting Rights for DC,” features four old-style voting booths surrounded by chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire and featuring bright yellow and black signs warning “DC Residents Keep Out! By Order of Congress.” The art display will take up a 16 foot by 16 foot area with twelve foot long by six foot high fences.

DC voting rights supporters are rallying as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly has its fourteenth annual meeting from July 1st to July 5th — the first held in the United States. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will be considering a resolution that calls on the United States government to grant residents of Washington, DC, equal voting rights in Congress in accordance with OSCE human dimension commitments. Participants in the rally will be Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Ilir Zherka, DC Vote; and other pro-DC-democracy groups. 


DC Public Library Events, July 1, 2
Debra Truhart,

July 1-August 24, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Gallery A-2. Exhibit of In God We Trust, paintings and photographs by Navjeet Singh Chhina and James Stephen Terrell. Public contact: 727-1183.

Saturdays, July 2-August 27, 4:00 p.m. Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R Street, NW. Free classes in American Sign Language are provided. All ages. Public contact: 282-0220.


National Building Museum Events, July 6, August 6
Brie Hensold,

Wednesday, July 6, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-2:30 p.m. FANstruction. Construct colorful handheld fans in the shape of buildings. $3 per project. All ages. Drop-in program. National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.

Saturday, August 6, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Construction Watch Tour: Embassy of the Republic of Turkey. Built by George Oakley Totten, Jr., and completed in 1915, the residence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey on Washington's Embassy Row has long been noted for its opulence and grandeur. It reflects his fondness for architectural effects he saw in palaces edging the Bosporus. Currently the house is undergoing a two-year restoration scheduled for completion in September 2006. Belinda Reeder, architect with Archetype of Washington, DC, will lead a tour of the project. Open only to Museum members, $15. Limited space available. Prepaid registration required. To register, call the Museum or visit beginning June 20.


Music in Mt. Pleasant, July 15
Laurie Collins,

Here are the pictures from the first of five Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Alliance sponsored "Music in the Park" events in Lamont Park, featuring local band Boutros Boutros.

The next event will be Friday, July 15, from 6-8 p.m., featuring The Pleasant Mountain Boys!


Exhibitor and Sponsor Information, Back to School Campaign, August 2
Kim L.E. Bell,

The DC Covering Kids and Families sixth annual “back-to-school” campaign. Save the date and get ready to participate as an exhibitor or a sponsor to ensure that DC children and youth have everything they need to be successful this school year, including free or low-cost health insurance coverage. Get set to participate in making this launch event the best ever. Be a part of this great awareness campaign: press conference, health and community resource fair, and much, much more. Join the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a well-known DC United soccer team player, and great local and nationally recognized entertainment. Go! Mark your calendar today! Exhibitor and sponsorship information will be coming your way soon. 

Exhibitors can be: health providers, social services organizations of all types (literacy, mentoring, tutoring, after-school programs). Tuesday, August 2, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Kennedy Recreation Center (7th and P Streets, NW). For more information, contact Kim L.E. Bell, 234-9404,



Video Producer 
Phil Shapiro,

Do you have personal of family video project you'd like to complete? I've been helping several community members get personal storytelling done using the video medium -- combining scanned photos with narration and “talking heads” video to create something memorable. I don't know what the customary charge is for this kind of work, but if you'd like help with this kind of project, I can work out a fee arrangement that would fit into your budget. Two years ago I worked on a family memories video project with my mom (at her instigation), and the process was a creatively fulfilling one.



Inexpensive Auto Body Repair
Frank DeBernardo,

I am looking for an inexpensive auto body shop in the area, or perhaps someone who does auto body work inexpensively as a sideline. My 1997 Hyundai Accent was sideswiped exiting a shopping center I do not have collision insurance, and the estimates I have received from two shops are exorbitant for a car that has close to 110,000 miles on it. The insurance companies have just begun the process of deciding liability.

Because the car is so old, I do not want to put a lot of money into this, and I am even thinking of having it fixed up just so that it is safe to drive (I don't mind the cosmetic difficulties!) Does anyone have any suggestions?


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