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July 10, 2005


Dear Safety Guards:

Nobody has written about it in themail, but last week’s terrorist attacks on London and the frequent precautionary evacuations of congressional buildings here make it a necessary topic. Do you feel safe in the city? Has it affected your lives? Do you use public transportation and go to public events as frequently as ever, or have you cut back and stayed closer to home? Do you feel that the federal and city governments are taking enough precautions against terrorist attacks here or, alternatively, do you feel the threat to this city is exaggerated and the precautions overdone? If you feel that some disaster will inevitably happen here eventually, are you confident that the federal and local government agencies will respond as efficiently and well as they did in London? As residents, do we need to demand more and, if so, more of what? What have you seen, what do you know, how do you feel about it?

Gary Imhoff


Update on the New Howard University Hospital and Medical Center
Frank Zampatori,

This past Thursday, July 7, at Kelly Miller Middle School in Ward 7, an important meeting occurred on a topic that will have a great impact on our city. It was sponsored by Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray and attended by the mayor, the City Administrator, the President and Vice President of Howard University, seven councilmembers including the chairman, and between 275 and 300 residents, a majority of whom were from Ward 7. The topic was the creation of the proposed Howard University National Capital Medical Center on Reservation 13 in Ward 6, between Independence Avenue, SE, and the proposed Burke Street, SE, extension, adjacent to the construction site for St. Coletta School. There has been an almost complete lack of information about the content and purpose of this meeting in the printed and televised media since this meeting occurred.

During the 2 1/2 hour meeting, a wealth of information was presented by the City Administrator and the President of Howard University, and there was a question and answer period with audience members for the last hour. I will attempt to provide you with some salient points of the discussion. 1) The Howard University National Capital Medical Center will include a 250-bed all-digital hospital with all private rooms on nine acres of land on Reservation 13. 2) The facility will include the hospital proper, plus additional sections designated for medical/doctors offices, diagnostic testing, “research,” and residential treatment programs for substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment. 3) It is projected that the hospital will primarily draw its patients from Ward 7, northern Ward 8, southern portion of Ward 5, eastern Ward 6 north of East Capitol Street, and Prince George’s County in Maryland. (PG County is now identified as a service area for the new Hospital.) 4) The nine acres will be leased by the District to Howard University for $1.00 a year for 99 years, similar to the arrangement with St. Coletta School. 5) The hospital is to be a level 1 trauma center with a full-service hospital that will include a “healthy patient mix of those with insurance and those who are subsidized.” 6) The District’s total available hospital beds among all of the city’s hospitals will not increase, because 250 beds, which is the number of beds in the new hospital, will be removed from use at other hospitals. In other words, available hospital beds will need to reconfigured citywide. 7) It was clear from the discussion and Q and A that the current Howard University Hospital on Georgia Avenue, NW, will cease to exist in its present form at some point in the future, and at best will continue to function as an ambulatory care center with no inpatient beds. 8) The City Administrator is prepared to present to the city council on October 1, 2005, a contractual and financial agreement between the city and Howard University. 9) The city is committed to funding 50 percent of the building costs, which is estimated to be a direct cost to the city of at least $200 million. 10) Howard University will own and operate the complex. 11) The contract will not call for a future DC subsidy, but the mayor made it clear that if some financial shortfalls arose in the future in specific program areas, the city would step in to fill the void. 12) There was a section on the percentage of projected patient mix according to those with insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, age, and no insurance. Unfortunately, the City Administrator went through the figures so fast, I was unable to write them down. This information is needed in part to help determine the financial viability of the hospital.

There were a few other points I would like to mention. Several speakers from the audience who were alumni of Howard were concerned about the University’s ability to carry out this project without negatively impacting the financial well-being of the University as a whole. Also, it was clear from the comments of the program speakers that this topic had moved to an emotional and political level, with the selling point being that Ward 7 needed a hospital “East of the Anacostia River” — even though the proposed hospital is in Ward 6, west of the Anacostia River, on Reservation 13. And finally, many speakers from the audience supported the idea of a new hospital but were concerned about the overall cost and scope of the project, and felt they needed more information. Councilmember David Catania will conduct an oversight hearing on the “Status of the National Capital Medical Center” to be held this Wednesday, July 13 at 10:00 a.m. in the DC Council Chambers, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 5th floor. If you wish to testify in person or present written testimony, contact Benjamin Young via E-mail at or phone 724-8170 by close of business on July 11.


A Quick Fix for Metro’s Financial Problems
Larry Seftor, larry underscore seftor .the757 at

In the Post article on Saturday about the new Circulator bus [], it is noted that the bus service is being outsourced to a private firm, First Transit, rather than Metro. It seems that First Transit can operate the busses for $57 an hour, rather than the $76 that Metro would charge — a savings of fully 25 percent. I suggest that Metro should take this lesson and outsource its bus operations. Private industry is moving to outsourcing for many of the same reasons that would lead to savings for Metro. The fact that Metro is part of the public sector does not mean that it should not do the same. While First Transit might not be able to handle the full Metro bus fleet, some private firm would be able to do the job. Given the current financial status of the Metro system, it would be irresponsible not to pursue this option.


Evaluating Performance
Ralston Cox, Dupont Circle,

A brief squib in Thursday’s District Extra section of The Washington Post caught my eye, and I wanted to make sure others saw it []. Mayoral spokeswoman Sharon Gang was asked about the District’s delivery of the glossy twenty-page “Summery Fun Guide” to DC households in the last week of June (yes, folks, the last week of June!). When asked about why the publication came out so late in the summer, “long after many parents had made their summer camping arrangements,” Ms. Gang said that it took so long because it incorporates information from a variety of nonprofit and city agencies.

But the quote of the day; from Ms. Gang: “The fact that it came out with very few mistakes is a triumph.” Let’s see now. Get it out too late to really be of use, get it out with at least some — but only a “few” — mistakes and the city declares it a triumph. Yessirree, that’s a surefire way to evaluate performance — and get nothing but the usual mediocrity, at best.


Gun Control Petition
Bell Clement, 2024944014 at verizon dot net

My gun-control activist brother in California has sent this petition — access it at — calling for enforcement of the District’s gun control laws and respect for local democracy. Please have a look, sign on if you are able, and circulate as widely as you see fit.


Possible DC Parking Ticket Scam
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

Dana Miller [themail, July 6] reported receiving notices from the Department of Motor Vehicles for failure to pay two separate tickets that she never received. I received a similar notice. In my case, I was parked in violation of alternate-side-of-street signs — but there was no ticket on my car. I paid the ticket’s face value when I received the nonpayment notice, enclosing a letter explaining that I’d never seen the ticket. A while later I received an even nastier letter demanding money but showing that I owed $0! So someone likely entered part of the necessary info — marking the ticket “paid but not fully satisfied” or some such. So I wrote another letter, enclosing a copy of the first; we’ll see what happens. Maybe I should have enclosed a check for $0 marked “Payment in full for ticket #xxxxxxx.”


Bryce A. Suderow,

I publicly apologize for my unpleasant posting to Mr. Bull in the last issue of themail (July 6). I could have made my point without being so confrontational. Yes, my postings are negative, but they are born of seventeen years of suffering at the hands of a corrupt and incompetent city government whose only interest is to squeeze money out of its citizens. I phoned Gary and asked him to yank the letter, but obviously he got the message too late.


Broad Generalizations
Anne-Marie Bairstow, annemariebairstow at hotmail

In response to Bryce Suderow’s posting in the July 6 issue of themail: I’ve lived here fifteen years and been a subscriber to themail for a while, and I definitely do not agree that "none of the city agencies is functional." When you make an overly broad generalization like that, you weaken your entire case.

Two generalizations I do feel comfortable making: 1) it’s a lot easier to whine and complain than to actually make some positive change in this town; it would be better if people concentrated on the latter. 2) Just because someone is new to the District doesn’t mean their opinion should automatically dismissed -- sometimes a fresh approach is the best.


MPD and Newbies
Winston Bull,

In a final response to Mr. Suderow’s latest letter [“A Positive Suggestion for the Police,” themail, July 6], I would like to say that I could not agree more with him that there are definite problems revolving around the DC Metropolitan Police Department. I have seen those issues since I first moved to Washington in 1974. I remember the shame that descended when this city was known internationally as the murder capital of America, when Rayful Edmund was pathetically revered by the city’s youth as some sort of persecuted folk hero. Those truly were awful days, and so many of the systemic problems that beset the city then — mismanagement, incompetence, corruption, embezzlement, etc. — still exist. But the answer — as I read it in Mr. Suderow’s response — is not simply to sit back, “waiting for things to improve.” It is to stand up, to work with the existing institutions, to fix them, to work with others who also share such a goal, and to say that this stuff will not be tolerated and, as it were, to move on. That is why I do go to community meetings, why I am getting involved. Perhaps Mr. Suderow is also attending these meetings, I don’t know — that would certainly be a positive thing.

But along those lines, one thing that is also needed is to get new blood into the system. If we are going to revitalize Northeast, and do so respectfully of those who do already live in the area, who also want change, then it will take cooperation and a considerable sense of hope. Had I not already been living in this city, were I still only thinking of moving to Northeast, reading a post where someone derisively and so paternalistically refers to new residents as “newbies” would not entice me to proceed. I have never understood that way of thinking, where those who do have the benefit of experience and supposed wisdom feel a need to dismiss and denigrate newer members of the community. That is simply counterproductive nonsense.

Rather than give credence to what one bad cop apparently told Mr. Suderow about not seeing one drug dealer in five years (nonsense), I am simply going to assume that he was one of those people, present in any and all professions, who are simply there for a paycheck. Of course they are in the MPD: they are everywhere. We have all seen such attitudes; the answer, however, is not to throw up hands in sarcastic despair. We do not need to be victims of a system; we do not need to be victims at all. We need to work to solve our problems. Of all the people in our neighborhood with whom I have had any contact, Mr. Suderow is the only person who has done anything other than simply welcome my wife and me into the area, make us feel we have something to contribute, and tell us he is glad to have us in the neighborhood. That is a great thing.


July 2005 InTowner
Peter Wolff,

This is to advise that the July 2005 on-line edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials (including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’ also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature. Also included are all current classified ads. The complete issue (along with prior issues back to March 2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link provided. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in print, including all photos and advertisements. The next issue will publish on August 12 (the second Friday of the month, as always). The complete PDF version will be posted by the preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter.

To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: “Historic Preservation Design Decisions Seen as Being Unfair and Inconsistent”; “Neighbors Mobilize to Save Century-Old Ginkgo Tree on Sheridan Circle”; “Longtime 14th Street Car and Truck Repair Business Sells Property to Developer.”



A View from the Hill, July 14
Brie Hensold,

Thursday, July 14, 12:30-1:30 p.m., at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. A View from the Hill: Reflections on the National Politics of Smart Growth. Who are some of Congress’s current leaders on livable communities, and what may be effective strategies and leverage for creating stronger federal partnerships? Sharing her perspective from six years on Capitol Hill working for Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D, Third District, Oregon), Maria Zimmerman, vice president for policy, Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit Oriented Development, will share her observations about changing views and opportunities for advancing smart growth policies in Congress. Ms. Zimmerman, who recently joined the nonprofit transportation group Reconnecting America, will also highlight the growing demand for transit-oriented communities and new provisions within the current federal transportation reauthorization bill to strengthen the connection between transit and economic development. Free. Registration not required.



Web Designer
Kim Bynum,

I need someone to design a web page for my father, who owns a construction company. Please phone me at 262-7709.



Fix-it Guy
Paul Penniman,

I don’t need him this summer (knock on rotting drywall), but I heartily recommend Clarence Gaines for brickwork, plastering, roof patches, and lots of other fix-it jobs. You can call Mr. Gaines at 445-3291.


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