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August 28, 2005

Long Election

Dear Electors:

Zoe Yerkes, below, makes a good point. It may or may not be true that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but it’s unquestionable that the unexamined candidate isn’t worth electing. In DC’s short electoral history we’ve elected several people to political office who were promising, even exciting, candidates, but who were disappointments in office. We need to get better both at recruiting good candidates for public office and at examining those who run. We need to ask better and more specific questions of our candidates, and demand better answers from them. Tough, competitive, and even long election races may be ugly and exhausting, both for candidates and the public; but on balance they are the only way to expose both the strengths and weaknesses of those who want to serve us.

Yerkes has expressed, in a series of messages to themail, serious doubts about Adrian Fenty’s readiness and qualifications to be mayor. Some of her doubts strike me as better founded than others, but all of them deserve to be answered. But it isn’t enough to ask questions just of Fenty. Councilmember Vincent Orange and Marie Johns are announced candidates for mayor; Michael Brown has said that he will announce; and Council Chairman Linda Cropp has said that she will announce her candidacy on September 7. They, and any others who may enter the race, need to make it clear why they want to be mayor; what they will do as mayor; and whose interests they will serve as mayor -- and we can’t let them get away with the usual platitudes about how they’ll serve "all the people." I’d like some specific commitments this time around.

In the last issue of themail, Ted Knutson asked whether this election season weren’t starting too early, long before anyone other than the candidates themselves care. Well, of course, most people aren’t going to pay any attention until a month before the primary, and then again a couple weeks before the general election. But we political junkies have been paying close attention for months now. If you really want to influence the races for mayor, council, and school board, jump in now. And if you have questions to ask about any of the candidates, ask them early.

Dorothy’s piece on the Washington Teachers Union trial, which she promised would be in this issue of themail, turns out to be longer than she thought it would be. We’ll probably send it as a special issue of themail in a day or two.

Gary Imhoff


DMV Incompetence
Pete Ross,

Last year I received a ticket in the mail for a tag number and car that did not belong to me. The Department of Motor Vehicles sent me a letter stating that I had to prove that the car and tag did not belong to me. I responded that it is impossible for me to prove that a car and tag does not belong to me, but that the DMV can verify my denial by reviewing their registration records. This was not an adequate answer for them so they wanted me to pay the ticket. I then contacted Councilmember Patterson’s office, which was very helpful in having the DMV void the ticket.

On August 8, 2005, I received notification in the mail of a $100 ticket (Ticket # 336 271 994) for a car and tag number that does not belong to me. I sent a letter on August 15, explaining the ticket was issued to a tag number and car that did not belong to me. On August 22, the DMV sent me an unsigned letter stating that a “15 day suspend had been entered into the system to provide additional time for you to produce a registration or certification from the Department of Motor Vehicles.” How can I produce a registration for a car that I do not own to prove that a car that I do not own does not belong to me?

I then spent one hour on the phone trying to get somebody at the DMV to help me solve this problem. Everybody that I spoke to said that I had to prove that the tag number and car do not belong to me. It is unfortunate that I will have to again request help from Councilmember Patterson’s office to deal with incompetence at the DMV.


“DC Government”: Oxymoron?
David Sobelsohn, dsobelso -at- capaccess -dot- org

The letter came to an ANC commissioner. It was sent by the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Dated July 27, it announced an August 6th job fair to recruit youth correctional officers. According to the postmark, it was mailed August 26. It arrived August 27, exactly three weeks after the event. At least the post office works. “DC Government” is an oxymoron. Or some kind of moron.


Thinking About the Residents of New Orleans
Phil Shapiro,

The focus of has always been DC, and I love it just the way it is. That said, I’ve been thinking a lot about the very difficult time the residents of New Orleans will be facing very soon. I picked up my guitar a minute ago to sing the opening verse of Mr. Tambourine Man, written by Bob Dylan in 1964 while visiting Mardi Gras. In times of trouble, we reach out to each other in song, a metaphorical hand stretching across the distances between us. That’s what we do. (See

I’ll be uploading this to the Internet Archive in a minute, and when released tomorrow by the Internet Archive, I’ll be submitting it to a web site named using the tag (descriptor) neworleanskatrina. Others around the country wishing to send thoughts to New Orleans residents in text, pictures, audio or video form could do the same after putting their thoughts on the web. Here is where you’ll find this on ( For those who might not know, is an excellent social bookmarking service. To learn more about, view these three excellent screencasts.


Cell Phone and Blackberry Misuse
Ralph Blessing,

Having had similar experiences as those described by Harold Foster [themail, August 24], I wholeheartedly concur with his comments -- with one exception: the crashes these idiots cause are not “accidents” but are instead totally preventable if they would just hang up and drive. We, as a society, need to stop excusing them (as well as speeders, red light runners, etc.) by pretending that the havoc they wreak is somehow accidental.


Fenty the Candidate
Nora Bawa,

As a DC voter, I would appreciate Roger Scott’s giving examples of the claims he makes for Mr. Fenty [themail, August 24]. In the paragraph below, Mr. Scott claims Fenty “walks the walk . . . has proven he is a people’s politician . . . is the best the city has to offer . . . will make this city a better place. . . .” How do we know this? I don’t live in Ward 4, so I am asking a serious question here, wishing to know more about the candidates. Thanks in advance for a few more details.


Postings about Fenty
Zoe S. Yerkes,

I do not currently support any of the people running for mayor in DC. And I am not sure why people think I have to be supporting a certain campaign just because I don’t believe in Adrian Fenty. My feelings about Fenty are from his actions. He makes me angry with the way he pretends to be the squeaky clean politician, but really he is just like all the others, except he is young so people think he is honest.

People post messages all the time in themail critical of Mayor Williams and many other politicians, but you don’t ask them who they support. Once again, Adrian Fenty seems to be the beneficiary of the benefit of the doubt, but really he doesn’t deserve it.

I did all the fact-checking about my E-mails to themail about Fenty, and everything is accurate. Most of it was based on what I read already in newspapers or online elsewhere. If my statements weren’t based on facts, I can see why there might be a problem, but I didn’t dream up this stuff. You won’t like it if he becomes mayor. People will be gleeful the first few weeks, but then the reality of having an unqualified mayor who tends to bend the rules for his own purposes (like the Exploring Committee stuff) will set in.


Expanded Online Information
Kathy Sinzinger,

The Common Denominator has added links to more than thirty online DC neighborhoods to the main page of its web site at If we have missed your neighborhood, please let us know so that we can add it.

This year, The Common Denominator also is expanding its coverage of high school sports, in both our print and online editions. In addition to information about the DC Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA/D.C. public schools), information is now available online about schools that compete in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC), the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAC) and other leagues, as well as other independent DC high schools. We are starting with football season, but we plan to expand beyond football coverage. Click on the "High School Sports" link on the main page of The Common Denominator’s web site to access this information.



Bill Lofy on Paul Wellstone, September 6
Tamara O’Neil,

Bill Lofy discusses and signs copies of Paul Wellstone: The Life of a Passionate Progressive, on September 6, at 6:00 p.m. Price: $15, including cocktail reception. At The Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW.

Bill Lofty, Director of Communications for Wellstone Action, has written a compelling biography of the legendary progressive who changed the face of Democratic Party politics. Hardworking, funny and well-liked, Paul Wellstone died with his wife, daughter, and aides in a plane crash during his 2002 campaign for a third term as Minnesota’s Senator. Come celebrate Paul Wellstone’s life and legacy at a reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the historic Woman’s National Democratic Club. Tonight’s event will kick off the national introduction of Lofty’s book. The book will be available for purchase. This event is cosponsored with Politics & Prose. For more information about this event, please contact Tamara O’Neil at 232-7363.


Planning DC’s Transportation Future Forum, September 7
Benjamin Slade,

The Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities is holding a forum titled, "Planning DC’s Transportation Future Transit, Streets, Traffic and Parking for a Livable City" with Dan Tangherlini, Director, DC Department of Transportation, Wednesday. The forum is to be held on September 7, 6:00 p.m., refreshments; 6:30 p.m., program, at the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), 401 9th Street, NW, North Lobby, Suite 500. RSVP (attendance only) to WRN, 244-1105, or E–mail This event is free of charge. NCPC is located on 9th Streets between E and D Streets; Metro Stations: Gallery Place, Metro Center, Archives, Federal Triangle. Please arrive before 7 p.m. and bring photo ID. For more information see


National Building Museum Events, September 7, 10
Brie Hensold,

Wednesday, September 7, 6:30-8:00 p.m. The complex geometries that characterize architect Frank Gehry’s buildings are made possible by architectural software pioneered by Gehry Technologies. Founded in 2002 as an offshoot of Gehry’s design firm, Gehry Technologies promotes integrated, three-dimensional, digital design and construction methodologies. In 2004, the company released Digital Project, a suite of software that supports complicated projects from design development to on-site construction coordination. Dennis R. Shelden, Ph.D., chief technology officer with Gehry Technologies, will discuss these technologies and their effects on the design process. This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition Tools of the Imagination, which will be open for viewing. $12 Museum members; $17 nonmembers; $10 students. Registration required. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.

Saturday, September 10, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Construction Watch Tour: The Odyssey. The Odyssey Condominium in Arlington, Virginia, will feature an astonishing 13-story glass curtain wall. Located along a bluff on the edge of Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood, the building takes advantage of remarkable panoramic views. The glass and brick high-rise is sculpted to engage the grid of the city and is set back from the street behind a series of row houses. The 460,000-square-foot project will offer 271 condo units, a rooftop pool, and other amenities. Robert Sponseller, design principal with Shalom Baranes Associates, will lead a tour of this project, scheduled for completion in spring 2006. Open only to Museum members, $15. Space is limited. Prepaid registration required. To register, call the Museum at 202.272.2448 or visit beginning August 22.


Changes in the Supreme Court — Justice for Women, September 8
Sheila Willet,

Retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has stated, “When you change one member of the Supreme Court, you change the Court.” The National Capital Chapter of OWL (Older Women’s League), the voice of mid-life and older women, will consider this emerging issue on Thursday, September 8, at 1 p.m. The public is cordially invited to this free event. Coffee and cake will be served. The two-hour presentation will be held at the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. To ensure seating, please RSVP attendance only to

The distinguished panel of speakers will include Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Past President of the National Organization for Women; Dr. Martha Burk, Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations; and Mary Jean Collins, Senior Vice-President and National Political Director of People for the American Way. The panel will discuss the implications for women should President Bush’s nominee for the position, John G. Roberts, Jr., be appointed; the future of Roe v. Wade; and other judicial matters affecting women of all ages.


National Daughter-Daddy Reunion Tour, September 11
Jonetta Rose Barras,

The National Daughter-Daddy Reunion Tour launches in Washington, DC, from September 11 through October 2. Father absence is a silent epidemic in America, affecting twenty million girls under twenty years old and another forty million adult daughters. It crosses all boundaries with devastating consequences. Unfortunately, there has been little focus within the National Fatherhood Movement on the relationship between daughters and daddies. Many people still believe fathers are less important to their daughters than their sons. But a father is critical to his daughter’s development. When a girl loses her father, she grows up with an unexplained ache that nothing seems to soothe. But fathers also suffer from the loss of a relationship with their daughters. Often men want to reconnect but believe that they are unnecessary or forgotten in their daughters’ eyes. Further, they are unsure of how to build a bridge back without upsetting other people. If you are a daughter thirteen or older, who wants to understand the effects of father absence in your life, wants to heal and wants, perhaps, to reconnect with your father, or if you are a father who has been separated from your daughter and want to restore the relationship with her, register for The National Daughter-Daddy Reunion Tour. Send an E-mail to or call 722-4639 for more information.


Celebrating the Story, September 13, 17
Brad Hills,

Washington Storytellers Theater opens its 2005-06 Season with two celebrations that survey a broad landscape of storytelling. When you think of storytelling, the first image that comes to mind may be a circle of children sitting cross-legged on the floor of a library. Or perhaps a cultural presentation at a museum, with a performer in traditional dress telling ancient and sacred tales. With its first two events of the 2005-06 season, Washington Storytellers Theater attempts to change those images, replacing them with something more aggressive, energetic, and fun.

On Tuesday, September 13, WST presents its first SpeakEasy of the season. The theme is Naked: Stories about being exposed, and will feature three performers who are all young practitioners of the monologue. Funny, dramatic, and sometimes over the top, these three enjoy playing with the comic edges of the art form. SpeakEasys always include open mic performers; on this special evening, HR-57 will be collaborating with WST by providing a jazz ensemble to kick off the evening. The featured performers are Stephanie Garibaldi, Robyn Holley, and Josh Lefcowitz. Stephanie Garibaldi is a veteran improviser, writer, and humorist. She has been featured on WETA and WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show. By “veteran,” we do not mean to imply that she’s old. She just started really young. And now she’s back from her whirlwind tour of Ireland to kick start our season opener. Texan Robyn Holley won’t be around town much longer. This may be the last chance to catch the phenomenal and unpredictable Master of Divinity and Motley Crue fan on stage in DC. Holley is the author of “Turkey Lurkey,” “The Bird,” “Litter Hurts Babies,” and “My First Trip to the Gynecologist.” Josh Lefkowitz is an actor, writer, and solo performer. As an actor, he has worked with Woolly Mammoth, Center Stage, Signature Theater, Arena Stage, and Olney Theater, as well as with actor/writer Eric Bogosian and performance artist Holly Hughes. Josh’s first full-length solo production, entitled HELP WANTED: A Personal Search for Meaningful Employment at the Start of the 21st Century, has received public readings at Center Stage in Baltimore and at Washington DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. Josh performed this piece on the opening night of the Single File festival in Chicago this August. The Chicago Sun Times, in a review of HELP WANTED, called Lefcowitz “a bristlingly smart, boyish fellow in his early 20s, chronicles his depressive post-college days in a clever, confident, knowingly precocious way (at moments even verging on the smug) that is neatly and unapologetically imitative of [Spalding] Gray.” HR-57 Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues, 1610 14th Street, NW (between Corcoran and Q Streets), Tuesday, September 13, 7:00 p.m. Metro Red Line (Dupont) or Green Line (U Street/Cardoza). Ticket Price: $10.

Later in this same week, on Saturday, September 17, we will present Chris Chandler, who is a self-proclaimed huckster, wandering minstrel, and medicine show sideman, as well as an acclaimed musician and storyteller, in a performance that celebrates his newest CD release, “American Storyteller.” Utah Phillips calls Chandler “the best performance poet I have ever seen.” The performance caps off a successful forty-day tour, during which he played the main stage at several of the countries most prestigious festivals. Now back at home, Chandler will appear at the Takoma Park Folk Festival and WST’s September 13 Speakeasy. But the real party will be the following Saturday, when he will play at WST’s home in Takoma Park, Seekers Church, with pianist David Roe and other musical guests. “American Storyteller” is an enhanced double CD produced in Takoma Park, and features three new short films including the acclaimed “This is not a Folk Song,” which tells the true tale of a slave graveyard that sits between the runways of the Atlanta airport. Seekers Church, 274 Carroll Street, NW, Metro Red Line (Takoma), Saturday, September 17, 8:00 p.m., Ticket Price: $12. Reservations: 545-6840.


Cultural Institute of Mexico Events, September 14, 16
Barbara Ruesaga,

Wednesday, September 14, at 7:00 p.m., at the Cultural Institute of Mexico, 2829 16th Street, NW, the grand opening of the exhibition Mirrors: Contemporary Mexican Artists in the United States. The exhibition features one hundred works by thirty-six artists, selected by the prestigious curator Santiago Espinosa de los Monteros. It includes paintings, videos, sculptures, installations, and photographs. RSVP 728-1675. Free entrance; limited space available.

Friday, September 16, at 7:00 p.m., at the Cultural Institute of Mexico, a concert to launch Fiesta DC. RSVP 728-1675. Free entrance.


Second Annual Citywide Child and Youth Policy Forum, September 16
Susie Cambria,

What’s in it for kids?: Assessing the investment in children and youth in the FY 2006 budget, will be held on Friday, September 16, at 10:00 a.m.-noon, at the True Reformer Building, 1200 U Street, NW (on-street parking and close to U Street/Cardozo Metro Stop on Green Line). Join DC Action for Children for our second annual child and youth policy forum. This event will feature findings from DC ACT’s annual budget analysis, What’s in it for kids? DC ACT staff will brief attendees on the investments being made in children and youth as well as outstanding issues and recommendations for FY 2007. Other panelists will respond to the findings and will present their priorities for the FY 2007 budget. Following the panel presentation, there will be an hour of Q&A.

The forum panel will include Neil O. Albert, Deputy Mayor, Office of Children, Youth, Families and Elders (confirmed); the Honorable Linda Cropp, Chair, Council of the District of Columbia (invited); the Honorable Adrian Fenty, Council of the District of Columbia (Ward 4 representative and Chair of the Committee on Human Services) (invited); Susie Cambria, Director of Public Policy, DC Action for Children; Evita Smedley, Public Policy Analyst, DC Action for Children; and Frankeena Wright, Senior Health Policy Analyst, DC Action for Children.

Agenda: 9:30 a.m., registration. 10:00 a.m., briefing begins. 11:00 a.m., questions and answers. Noon, briefing concludes. There is a $15 fee for this event; fee includes refreshments and materials. Registration is required, and the registration deadline is September 14. Direct questions to Alexis, 234-9404, Please make checks payable to DC Action for Children and note "Policy Forum" in the memo section. DC ACT is only accepting registration via postal mail. Mail completed form with payment by September 14 to DC Action for Children, 1616 P Street, NW, Suite 420, WDC 20036, Attn: Policy Forum. Please give your name, title, organization (if applicable), address, phone fax, and E-mail address.


A Community Responds to Homelessness, September 17
Elizabeth Conger,

Friendship Place Partners and the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place (CCH/FP) invite concerned members of the Washington, DC, community to a symposium about the pressing problems of homelessness in our midst in upper-Northwest DC. Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson will deliver the welcoming remarks. This will be a free public-service event.

Panels of experts will address the disturbing fact that although Ward 3 is the wealthiest ward in the District (top in both median household income and average per-capita income), Ward 3 and other areas of upper-Northwest also have significant numbers of homeless people: people living on the streets, sleeping in the parks, eating from garbage cans, and suffering from disabling mental and physical illnesses. The symposium will be held at the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW (parking available; located between Massachusetts Avenue and Foxhall Road, adjacent to American University), on September 17, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (Brief lunch break; box lunches provided.) To preregister, call 364-1419 (ext. 21) or send E-mail to



Fred Davidson,

Wingback chair: solid hardwood frame in dark walnut frame, tight back, upholstered in pale pink fabric, $175. Provence style oak dining table: simple rural beauty, includes one leaf for expandable dining and four matching chairs, $275. Vintage Alston club chair: semi-attached back pillow, upholstered in classic chestnut fabric, reinforced stitching, $175.



Scarves for DC Homeless
Mary Boland,

Have you knitted, crocheted, or woven presents for every family member and friend three times over? Expand your gift list. Friends’ Action, a 501(c)(4) charitable organization that advocates for Congressional voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia, is collecting winter scarves to be given to those who live on the streets of Washington. We ask for your help. Pull out your warmest, prettiest yarn, whip up something wonderful, and send your creation(s) to Friends’ Action, PO Box 3138, Hagerstown, MD 21741 by December 9. We will distribute all donations to DC area shelters in December. If you are a member of a craft guild, church/synagogue/mosque, or have friends who could contribute, please pass the word.


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