I have a complaint about my own subconscious mind, which does a
terrible job at wish fulfillment. Anything can happen in a dream, and
any wish can be fulfilled, but my subconscious won’t cooperate. When I
drift off to the Land of Nod, I am seldom — all right, never —
greeted by a pack of tail-wagging terrier puppies licking my face. Even
worse, I’m never welcomed by a pack of tail-wagging Filipina models.
Instead, in my dreams I am preoccupied by Sisyphian tasks, repetitive
and frustrating, never completed, and by endless travels in which I
cover the same ground over and over and never reach my destination.
My dreams are just like life in Washington, and that’s no way to
Apropos of Washington dreams, Stephen Pearlstein explained them all
in an important column in the Post on Friday, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/14/AR2005071402063.html.
When, over the next several years, you read repetitive bad-dream news
articles that do nothing but repeat self-serving governmental press
releases praising the latest public-private development projects, refer
back to Pearlstein — as the reporters should do before they write
these articles: “. . . I’m getting the sense that Mayor Williams and
his team have gotten so hooked on high-profile, politically popular
dealmaking that public subsidy has become a financing tool of first
resort. The problem with these trophy projects isn’t only that they
may divert money and attention from other pressing needs. It’s also
that there is too much wishful thinking built into their pro formas and
too much price escalation between the moment of conception and final
delivery. It hardly inspires confidence that all these deals have been
negotiated in secret, with the financial details withheld from the
public. And it doesn’t help that each project has become a fresh
opportunity for the mayor to pay back union supporters and placate
neighborhood ‘activists’ with cumbersome rules on hiring and
Fenty’s Financing Act
Zoe Yerkes, zsyerkes-at-gmail-dott-com
Adrian Fenty’s burning desire to sponsor a piece of significant
legislation during his less-than-impressive tenure as a lawmaker has
produced one gem of a bamboozle.
“The proposal, the School Modernization Financing Act, is an
irresponsible piece of legislation that threatens the District’s
standing on Wall Street,” posits the Washington Times in a
recent editorial (http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20050717-093339-9117r.htm).
For someone said to be glued to his Blackberry, Fenty is surprisingly
unfamiliar with the calculator function.
Inane initiatives spearheaded by a lone councilmember are limited in
their ability to wreak havoc on the well-being of the District and its
taxpaying residents. However, a mayor with ham-fisted ideas could
quickly upend the financial stability of DC. Markets are valued as much
on confidence as they are performance. If Fenty grabs the reins, DC’s
bond rating will come under intense scrutiny. One gaffe like the School
Modernization Financing Act and our ability to finance government
operations and future projects will be in jeopardy and come at a greater
cost. Over the course of four years’ time, buyer’s remorse can
amount to more than just a bummer.
Ralph Nader Letter to Mayor Williams on the
Shawn McCarthy, email@example.com
[Excerpts from a letter by Ralph Nader to Mayor Anthony Williams; the
letter in whole is available at http://www.dcwatch.com/govern/sports050719.htm]
“On Sunday, June 26, the Washington Post featured the Eastern Senior
High School baseball team in a moving story that, once again,
demonstrated your penchant for peculiar priorities. While assembling the
Eastern players for a political photo op at RFK Stadium in March, you
promised to attend their first game. A nice gesture, indeed, and one
that would have meant so much to these youngsters. But as the Post’s
David Nakamura reported, not only did you fail to show for Eastern’s
first game, but you never even bothered to attend any of their games.
How quickly they were forgotten. You do attend often, however, the
Nationals games, in part, to show your commitment to the
half-billion-dollar stadium giveaway to Major League Baseball. . . .
“Mr. Mayor, answering to Major League Baseball, you launched this
stadium boondoggle on the District assuming residents could not
distinguish between supporting Baseball, and paying for commercial
Baseball’s extravagant demands. You were mistaken. You thought
residents would believe the fiction that public money spent on a stadium
is money that could not be used for public needs, and that a new stadium
would provide major economic benefits for the city. Wrong again. Such
behavior, mixed with the purposely low cost estimates for land
acquisition, infrastructure and environmental cleanup for the stadium
site, and the recent city auditor’s report detailing contract cronyism
within your administration, is leading residents to wonder what exactly
is happening behind those closed doors as the stadium scam deepens. . .
“Forgive residents if they are skeptical that the homeowners,
property owners and businesses at the proposed stadium site will be
treated fairly as you seek to drive them out through eminent domain.
Likewise, it is doubtful that an honest and thorough environmental
examination will be conducted on the old industrial waterfront setting
that may require extensive remediation, but stands in the way of staying
within cost estimates and Major League Baseball’s timeline. From the
beginning, you have been much less than forthright during your stadium
push. And your broken promise to the Eastern Senior High School baseball
team is what District residents have come to expect from their
preoccupied, stadium-obsessed leader. A public apology to those players
and other District residents is in order, and openness and candor are
overdue, before corporate scandals and conflicts of interest spill forth
publicly. . . . Baseball owners can invest their own money in a new
stadium if they still feel RFK isn’t good enough. Let capitalists
behave like capitalists.”
Ambrose Recall Campaign Falls Short of
Mary C. Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee to Recall Ward 6 Council member Sharon Ambrose ended
its grassroots campaign today after failing to gather the 4,618 voter
signatures needed to hold a special election. The committee collected
only 3,430 valid signatures during a six-month campaign that ended
today. I’m terribly disappointed that we failed to reach our goal of
5,000 valid signatures by this deadline, but I am confidant that the
many supporters of this effort will remain vigilant in working to ensure
that our Council member makes every attempt to represent the majority of
residents and vote in our best interests. The recall petition drive may
have ended but the fight to restore and preserve livable neighborhoods
here in Ward 6 continues.
We launched the recall petition drive on January 24, after Ambrose
voted to support public financing of a new baseball stadium in Southeast
DC, and had refused repeated invitations to meet with the ANC and the
Southwest community to discuss the proposal. The committee of
neighborhood activists undertook this effort as a matter of principle.
We were frustrated. Our councilmember continued to ignore us and then
voted several times against the wishes of the majority on important
issues. We felt totally disenfranchised. The recall campaign was
hampered in its first four months by inclement weather, minimal funding,
and a shortage of volunteer signature gatherers who could devote time to
the door-to-door outreach. There is still a lot of enthusiasm for this
effort. We just ran out of time. In the last few months, we needed money
to buy advertisement and provide additional manpower to keep the
momentum going as we did earlier. We certainly would have gotten more
than 5,000 valid signatures if we had the finances to sustain the
The recall exercise has had a positive effect on Ward 6 voter morale,
empowering many people to speak out. A majority of residents who eagerly
signed the petition complained of Ambrose’s failure to respond to
their requests for help on quality of life issues. They pointed to her
lack of attendance at community meetings over the last two years, adding
that Ambrose seemed to promote huge commercial and luxury condominium
developments over livable and affordable neighborhoods. Even Ambrose
supporters noted that she has become more visible in the community since
the recall began, attending community meetings at least twice each
month. Signature gatherers encountered fewer than fifty people
throughout the Ward who declined to sign the recall petition because
they supported Ambrose. Most explained that they did not believe that
the recall was necessary because Ambrose was seriously ill and had only
a year left in her term. Still others said that Ambrose was not likely
to seek reelection next year. A few said they liked what she was doing
in the community regarding charter schools and supported the
construction of a new baseball stadium. We plan to continue our
monitoring of Mrs. Ambrose’s actions, as well as those of our at-large
city council members. We won’t go quietly into the night.
New AU Art Center
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
The new AU Katzen Art Center has opened, and it is a major addition
to AU’s academic facilities. After a couple of years of bickering with
the neighbors about what could be built on the site on Massachusetts
Avenue adjacent to Ward Circle, a three-story modern building has been
built to house creative and performing arts. There’s also an art
gallery in the round portion of the long, low, three-story building of
more than 300,000 square feet closest to Ward Circle.
With ample parking on three levels below the building, it is worth a
visit just to see the landscaping along Mass Ave. Access is free and the
building is open to visitors in the afternoons on Tuesdays through
Saturdays. Traditionalists and those who decry any changes in DC will
not like this modern building or the modern art collection in the
gallery. But AU has made a very positive addition to the AU Park and
Spring Valley neighborhood.
The Post has published two articles to date about the Rev.
Willie Wilson’s idiotic comments about lesbianism, yet in neither one
is there any reference to his quasi-racist activities a few years ago to
drive Korean corner stores from neighborhoods east of the Anacostia.
Without that background to put his utterances in better context, they
comes across as simply a lapse in judgment by an otherwise upstanding
community stalwart. Sounds like some Post reporters were asleep
during Journalism 101.
Stemming the Tide of Crime and Violence
through Education Reform
A. Scott Bolden, email@example.com
Dorothy Brizill is to be commended for her leadership and the balance
she provided in the discussion on WRC’s TV Viewpoint (Sunday,
July 10).She was most timely in calling for enactment of a regional
agreement to enable police officers to cross the border in pursuit of a
criminal fleeing from the District of Columbia and vice versa. I agree
with Dorothy that it is time to stop with all the excuses and put a law
into effect with the support of the Maryland legislature and federal
authorities that will hamper crime and restore a sense of tranquility to
communities that envelop the District of Columbia/Maryland border.
Earlier this year, I attended a meeting at LaSalle Elementary School
in Upper Northeast Washington, near the Eastern Avenue District border.
Residents from Wards 4 and 5 (Lamond-Riggs and North Michigan Park
communities) discussed crime in their communities, and the police from
Prince George’s County were there also to comment on the crime that
occurs just beyond the District line and which goes back and forth.
Communities like nearby Woodridge and Ft. Lincoln are also touched by
crime that straddles and crisscrosses the District line. Criminals know
that all they need to do is cross the District line to escape the law.
Other communities like Takoma Park and Shepherd Park in Ward 4 are also
near the DC boundaries. Communities in Wards 7 and 8 face similar
circumstances on a larger scale. They see criminals fleeing to Capital
Heights and District Heights in the Maryland suburbs.
We all recognize that there are jurisdictional and
liability issues that are associated with this type of initiative, but a
way must be found without jeopardizing our civil liberties and state
rights. The citizens in Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 on the District of Columbia
border with Maryland know all too well how criminals slip across the DC
border to escape and/or to continue their carnage of crime and violence.
We have to do all that we can to reduce crime with effective, reasonable
measures. While we have to worry about terrorists abroad and their
influence on America and the fear they produce in our urban centers, we
also have to be especially concerned about stopping the daily scourge of
crime in the nation’s capital.
Whether crime is said to be going down or not, one crime
is too many. There is no comfort in hearing city leaders describe how
the crime statistics are now much lower in the District than before when
they hear constantly about victims of crime in their neighborhoods or
family. Dead is dead and citing lower statistics provides no relief to
those in families or communities being affected. Also, there is no
satisfaction in hearing the overall statistics about crime going down
when juvenile homicides are up 50% compared to last year.
We all know that we need to, in all cases, investigate and arrest
criminals after the fact, but surely we must focus as much as possible
on ridding our society of those ills that appear to contribute to the
roots of crime. Indeed, only a certain percentage DC residents commit
the majority of serious crimes in our fair city. This is not a liberal
or conservative issue and preventing crime is much more appealing to
citizens than reacting to it after one has become a victim.
Crime is often thought of as a symptom of underlying problems and
conditions in society that might be able to be abated. We must take a
comprehensive approach to tackling the root causes to truly stem the
tide of crime and violence. And we must take a similar approach to
public education as the two seem all too of ten to be correlated in many
cases. Simply put, those that receive a quality education are more
likely to choose a degree over drugs, gangs and violence.
And those that receive a quality education are more likely to compete
for better jobs and can better provide for their families, rather than
committing a crime. Of course, good parenting, responsibility, and
values feed into this equation as well, but as a city we can
collectively transform our public education system and make it a worthy
crime deterrent. A great public school system would produce broader
qualified workforce to obtain more of the 30,000 jobs created in the
last six years for citizens in the nation’s capital that too
frequently go to Marylanders and Virginians who are "believed and
perceived" by District employers to be more qualified and have
better public schools and job training programs.
While I am candidate for the DC Council-At Large position, I am also
a former prosecutor and parent of children in DC public schools and I
believe crime and safety and people feeling safe inside their homes and
away from their homes are key issues that demand critical examination.
We must do more than express a sense of urgency and rather, treat every
life as precious and worthy and abandon the many excuses we hear from
the police, our elected officials and even our communities. Change will
only occur when we as individuals and as a community will no longer be
afraid nor tolerate the culture that perpetuates crime -- inadequate
education, limited job training opportunities, insufficient youth
programs at recreation centers, and unclean and unsafe neighborhoods.
Through individual responsibility, community empowerment -- we can do
better — we can succeed.
Must Have Thrown a Shoe
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
On Monday, my mail included my May 30 copy of Aviation Week.
It was a little beat up. Might have fallen out of the saddle bag of the
four-legged US Postal Service delivery conveyance. Maybe the Pony
Express horse threw a shoe. Is that manure I smell?
I do feel safe in DC, though the London bombings did prompt me to put
fresh batteries in the little flashlight I always carry, launder the
bandana that had gone a bit grungy in the bottom of my bag, and clean
the sand from a recent beach camping trip out of my Swiss Army knife.
With a flashlight, bandana, and good pocketknife, one can escape,
bandage, or jimmy one's way out of pretty much any situation. I'm not
making light of the tragedy, just being realistic. Something will happen
here soon or later, and authorities who have demonstrated an inability
to handle the most basic logistics of daily urban services can not be
counted on to deal with it.
Even were they capable and organized, with a plan beyond simply
turning roads one way and evacuating everyone out to gridlock the
beltway, it is unrealistic to expect any government's emergency services
to be able to handle all the needs of a major catastrophe. What really
saved people in London was other people in London; people who stayed
calm and pitched in and acted sensibly. What will save people in DC are
other people in DC. People who have put together emergency kits in their
homes and carry flashlights and bandanas in their purses. (I recommend
PrincetonTec — weighs about one ounce, waterproof and great light. Get
them at REI.)
So thus prepared, there was nothing else to do but go on living so
that any day death arrives will find me with no regrets. At the moment,
that meant going down the street to Saint Ex for a bowl of mussels, best
in the city, perhaps the world. The waiter suggested the featured beer,
a Danish brew called “Viking.” A strange and somehow perfect irony I
thought, as I slurped my marvelous mollusks, for a few centuries ago,
Vikings were the terrorists; now they're just Ikea and beer.
I Could Have Blown Up the Senate Office
Bryce A. Suderow, firstname.lastname@example.org
The N22 bus leaves Union Station, and then travels south. At the foot
of Constitution Avenue there’s a checkpoint. Usually one of the cops
leaves a van and stick his head in the bus and asks, “Is everything
all right?” Today he didn’t even do that. I expressed my surprise to
the bus driver. He replied, “You saw the van? Sometimes they get out
and sometimes they don’t.” We passed within 100 feet of the Senate
Office Buildings, close enough to blow them to smithereens with a
bus-bomb this afternoon.
In the library of Congress’s Madison Building, there’s a metal
detector that doesn’t work very well. Every day I waltz through it
with two AA batteries for my digital camera. I never set off the alarm.
If I can bring in batteries, I can set off plastic explosives, which don’t
register on the metal detector either. Thus I could easily have blown up
the Library this afternoon. (Oddly enough, my batteries do set off
alarms in the metal detectors for the Martin Luther King Library and the
building on North Capitol that houses DC Tax and Revenue.)
My conclusion is that this show of security precautions is all smoke
and mirrors and doesn’t deter anything.
Paul Dionne, news at paul dionne dot com
I don’t know, Gary, maybe we should consider using cameras to
prevent crime. Let’s install some in the mayor’s office and see how
it goes. If he can film us in our daily life, why shouldn’t we film
him? And from reading posts here, it would appear that his office is a
busy corner for crime.
Jim Holm, james_holm at msn dot com
While I don’t know if the bus service is getting any worse (it has
never been very good) I agree with Anne McCormick’s assessment that
WMATA does not seem to care about bus driver training or safe and
efficient operation of the bus system. It seems that as WMATA managers
get more and more flack for Metro management, and they’re paying less
and less attention to the busses.
Why are the bus drivers constantly blabbing on their cell phones? Why
do the busses bunch up with each other, then race each other to the next
stop? Why do the drivers accelerate as fast as possible, then slam on
the brakes at the next stop, knocking riders around like bowling pins?
Why do drivers speed away when they see people running to catch them at
the stop? Why on the 42 line (the one I ride almost daily) do drivers
“switch” at Dupont Circle, halfway through the route and typically
with a bus full of people?
There was recently an article in the Washington Post about a
report on the bus system WMATA commissioned from other transit system
managers. Wonder how much they paid for the advice and when they will
implement any changes?
Metrobus Outsourcing — A Good Thing
Paul Michael Brown, email@example.com
Harold Goldstein argues [themail, July 17]: “the reason we have
WMATA is that the private lines that preexisted it would drop lines that
were not profitable. And so, if the various jurisdictions outsource
likely routes, then WMATA will be more and more inefficient.” I think
this misses the point. Whether a given bus route loses money is a simple
matter of fares minus expenses. WMATA’s expenses are very much higher
than those of private sector transit providers, primarily because WMATA
employs an expensive unionized work force. Private transit providers
employ nonunion workers and thus have lower overhead. So they can
profitably service even thinly traveled bus routes. This suggests that
more outsourcing would actually improve District bus service.
Mark Eckenwiler, themale at ingot dor org
In themail (July 13), Ed Barron advised readers to black out their
addresses on the registration and insurance document in their car glove
boxes. Here’s a better piece of advice: don’t keep these docs there
in the first place.
Why not? If your vehicle is stolen and the perp gets pulled over
before you report the car stolen, he stands a better chance of avoiding
arrest if he can produce legit documents. I keep my papers next to my
driver’s license (i.e., on my person), and my esteemed spouse has a
duplicate registration I obtained quickly and for free at the DMV.
(Technically, I think the listed cost is $5, but some clerks seem
willing to ignore that fee.)
If you simply must store these papers in your car, I suggest putting
them somewhere only you and yours know about, where a thief won’t
think to look when pulled over.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
DC Young Democrats General Body Meeting, July
Eric J. Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Tuesday, July 26, at 7:00 p.m., the District of Columbia Young
Democrats (DCYD) will have its next general body meeting. This meeting
will take place at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania
Avenue, NW, Room 123. During the meeting there will be an update on the
upcoming national convention as well as endorsement votes for national
officers. There will also be updates on our recent fundraiser and other
upcoming DCYD events. This meeting is open to the public. To be a member
of the District of Columbia Young Democrats, a person must be between
the ages of 18-35, be a resident of the District of Columbia, and be a
Tuesday, July 26, 12:00 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial
Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 307. Washingtoniana Centennial Film
Festival. The Washingtoniana Division will feature the documentary, City
Out of Wilderness: Washington. The film was produced by the United
States Capitol Historical Society and utilizes historic prints,
documents and daguerreotypes to tell a visual history of Washington, DC.
This program is part of the Washingtoniana Division’s yearlong
centennial celebration. Public contact: 727-1213.
Tuesday, July 26, 6:30-8:00 p.m. In 1936 St. Louis socialite Grace
Lewis Miller commissioned internationally acclaimed architect Richard
Neutra to design a winter house in the burgeoning desert resort of Palm
Springs, California. Stephen Leet, associate professor at Washington
University, will first briefly discuss Neutra’s career and then trace
the Miller House from conception to realization. He will also examine
the complex relationship between the architect and client as detailed in
their extensive and impassioned correspondence. After the lecture, he
will sign copies of his book Richard Neutra’s Miller House
(Princeton Architectural Press). $10 Members and students; $15
nonmembers. Registration required. At the National Building Museum, 401
F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.
The MidCity Business Association will hold the sixth a Dog Days of
August sidewalk sale and festival on 14th Street, U Street, P Street,
NW, and in the surrounding community on August 6 from 10 a.m. To 7 p.m.
And on August 7 from 11 a.m. To 7 p.m. Special events will occur outside
normal business hours. The Dog Days festival is to showcase the unique,
vibrant, exciting businesses and experiences available in the MidCity
Business District by featuring shopping specials, sidewalk cafes, and
Come to U Street, 14th Street, and P Street, NW, and the surrounding
community for hot shopping bargains at over fifty businesses, relax with
ice cool drinks and other specials at sidewalk cafes, and enjoy festive
activities such as barbecues, a dog show and contest, gallery showings,
and live music. You need to mark your calendars now!
The roots of the Dog Days Sidewalk Sale go back to 2001 when Home
Rule and its neighbors in the 1800 block of 14th Street pooled their
resources and started the event as a way to promote the area and the
city during this traditionally slow business period. The event and the
MidCity community have grown every year, both adding more businesses and
activities, with over 75 businesses and organizations participating in
2005. In 2006, the sixth annual Dog Days sidewalk sale promises to be
the most exciting ever. Come out and experience this wonderfully unique
historic community and all the old and new exciting businesses it has to
offer. To find out more details about this exciting event, visit http://www.dogdaysdc.com.
The web site is currently being updated; an event calendar, with
listings of activities, specials, hours, and locations will be posted to
the site by Monday, July 25.
Smith Farm Center for the Healing Arts will hold a week-long
residential retreat for adults living with cancer and their caregivers
on September 19-25. An application is required; and scholarships are
available. In a beautiful lodge near Sugarloaf Mountain, just beyond
Washington, DC, participants learn to reduce fear and stress associated
with cancer, examine personal beliefs and behaviors that do not
contribute to well-being, and explore healthier ways of living. Modeled
after the internationally recognized Commonweal Cancer Help Program
featured in Bill Moyer’s PBS series “Healing and the Mind,”
CHP retreats are designed for adults and caregivers who are seeking
physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing as they live with
The integrated schedule provides daily support sessions led by a
psychotherapist — along with massage, yoga, meditation, deep
relaxation, imagery work, creativity sessions, and a gourmet vegetarian
diet. The retreats also provide facilitated discussions on making
choices in complementary and conventional cancer therapies along with
issues surrounding pain and suffering, and death and dying. These
retreats have consistently provided many with deeply satisfying,
transformational experiences along their journey.
I’m looking for old photos of weddings or any other events held at
the Knees apartment building on Sixteenth and Irving (it’s now called
the Renaissance). Actually, a photo of any of the public areas of the
building would be fine. I’m working on the Mount Pleasant Heritage
Trail, and if someone out there can come up with something, I’d be
The restoration of the Big Chair East of the River in Anacostia is
seeking volunteer carpenters, paint strippers, and funds for this
historical restoration. If you can help or provide funds and space for
the administration efforts, organizing, and planning meetings the
community will be appreciative. Call Sharon Wise, Community Organizer on
492-4229 or Armetria Knight on 531-1187.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to
switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the
subscription form at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/subscribe.htm.
To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to email@example.com
with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages
are available at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail.