The photographs are striking: hundreds of New Orleans’ buses, both
its mass transit and school bus fleets, submerged in water on their
parking lots. Even though the city government apparently had a plan to
use these buses in an emergency evacuation, and even though the buses
could take at least 13,000 people out of town on each trip, the city
never put its plan into operation. (The New Orleans emergency
preparedness plan for hurricanes is at http://www.cityofno.com/portal.aspx?portal=46&tabid=26.)
The buses were left to the flood. What’s the plan in DC for using
Metro buses and school buses? Who would make the call; who has the
authority to commandeer the buses in an emergency: the city government,
WMATA, the Metropolitan Council of Governments? If an evacuation of DC
were ordered, how would people know where to go to board the buses, and
to what locations would the buses take DC residents? Are food, water,
and other emergency supplies stockpiled at the places to which DC
residents would be evacuated, or is there a plan to get them there if
and when it is necessary? Is our recent upgrade of police and fire
emergency communications equipment a system that would work even in a
mass emergency, as New Orleans’ equipment didn’t? (Read DC’s
emergency management plans for neighborhoods, and decide for yourselves
if they’ll work; they’re online at http://dcema.dc.gov/dcema/cwp/view,a,1226,q,533144,dcemaNav,|31810|.asp.)
Let’s not get into the debate over political blame in themail;
there are plenty of other places where that debate is going on. But let’s
discuss our local responsibility for having a workable, effective, and
tested emergency response plan. How ready are we now? And what has our
city government learned from New Orleans?
Why Didn’t the Buses Get Sent in Before
Star Lawrence, firstname.lastname@example.org
When the order to evacuate New Orleans came, why didn’t the buses
come to the poorer neighborhoods then? Would they come to the
neighborhoods of DC if such an order were issued? Many people in DC,
even in the less poor areas, don’t have cars and aren’t prepared to
hit the interstate.
The People: “Hey, That’s My Home”
Dennis Jaffe, DJWorkHome@aol.com
There’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel — which may
not be constructed after all. The Washington Post reported on
Tuesday, September 6 — I think it bears being highlighted here —
that there is a grassroots and political backlash all across this
country to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that government is not
necessarily prohibited from condemning private property for the benefit
of other private property-owners. If my description of the ruling needs
legal finessing, have at it, esquires. I’m esquire-less.
It only makes me shake my head that much more strongly (now I need a
good chiropractor) how many of DC’s “leaders” exulted over the
Supreme Court ruling. They were on the wrong side of the people when
they led the effort to build a new megabucks stadium. They were on the
wrong side when they exulted. And I hope they’ll be on the wrong side
next election. Some excerpts: “. . . the court’s decision in Kelo v.
City of New London has sparked a furious reaction, with politicians of
both parties proposing new legislation that would sharply limit the kind
of seizure the court’s decision validated. . . . The popular backlash
has slowed or blocked many pending projects, as developers, their
bankers and local governments suddenly face public furor” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/05/AR2005090501087_pf.html).
We have to be smarter, more creative and more resourceful in our
activism and advocacy.
Wenzell Taylor, email@example.com
Linda Cropp’s constituents live in Virginia and play baseball.
After helping stab District residents in the back, why has she even
considered running for mayor of DC? Linda, we are trying to get rid of
Tony Williams’s plan, not find a new leader for it.
Some Woodley Park Residents are calling the spate of “Think Cropp”
signs a “Cropp Blight.” Woodley Road, from Connecticut Avenue to
29th Street, had about a dozen of the large black/white signs, taped
with heavy boxing tape to almost all of our newly-installed,
newly-painted, just-finished streetlight poles. Other, even smaller
streets, had their share; some of those signs were removed by residents,
who dreaded the thought of having to suffer the signs until the city
election, and who resented the intrusion.
To help answer questions, I asked Chairman Cropp’s office today to
get the following information about rules for such signs, now and for
the future: how many are allowed per block? Are there size limitations?
How soon, prior to an election, can signs be installed? Is it illegal
for residents to remove them from public space in front of their houses?
Who will be responsible for any damage to the streetlight poles? Will
DDoT have to recall their contractors to inspect and/or repaint the
To those contemplating running for election, such signs are a classic
case of what not to do! There have been complaints about the fact and
timing of the signs, their number, placement (places and method),
message, even color! I can hardly think of what else one could do with a
sign to offend voters! And none of the people I heard from had been
anti-Cropp before! We wait to hear from her office.
Yesterday evening I was walking down 10th Street, NE, between F and G
when I saw three of the new Linda Cropp posters. “Piensen Cropp,”
they said. I saw them in passing and they made no sense to me at first.
It looked like there were the names of two candidates on the posters —
one was Cropp but who was the other person? We have a Leo Pinson here on
Capitol Hill. Was he her running mate? What was going on?
A bit later I saw “Think Cropp” on some other posters and I
realized that Piensen was a Spanish word, probably for “Think.” But
I was still puzzled. There are no Hispanics on 10th Street. Why did
Cropp’s people put Spanish posters there? Perhaps she’s using the
same team that Anthony Williams used to gather signatures some months
In Columbia Heights, all the signs seem to be in Spanish. The motto
on the signs is “Think Cropp” or “Piensen Cropp” because the
signs are not being erected by the official Cropp campaign committee,
but by the Think DC Political Action Committee, a PAC that filed with
the DC Office of Campaign Finance on August 9 this year. Think DC PAC’s
chairman is political consultant L. Maurice Daniel; its treasurer is his
wife, S. Kathryn Allen, the former Superintendent of the DC Office of
Banking and Financial Institutions in the Williams administration (http://www.dcwatch.com/mayor/990716.htm#allen).
They say their interest is in “promoting strong leadership” for the
city, and they are also contemplating supporting candidates in some city
PACs are not only independent of candidates; they are forbidden to
coordinate their campaigns with them. That may be a problem for Cropp if
many people are offended by these signs and their placement, and if she
gets blamed for them. I mistakenly deleted another message about these
signs before I added it to themail, so that I can’t credit it to its
author. That writer was annoyed that these yard-sign style signs were
being planted, not in individuals’ yards, but in the tree boxes in
public space, although that is legal. The Think DC PAC is also stapling
its signs to trees, which is both illegal and bad for the trees. The
regulations for posting campaign signs is online at http://www.dcboee.org/information/info_can/cam_post.shtm,
but they are written to apply to candidates’ campaign organizations.
It will be interesting to see whether the regulations are interpreted as
also applying to PACs.
On the other hand, the DCIst blog, which mistakenly attributed the
signs to Cropp’s campaign, was intrigued by them, and thought they
were an indication of a dynamic and interesting campaign (http://www.dcist.com/archives/2005/09/06/cropp_hits_the_streets.php).
Inviting a Neighbor or Friend onto
Phil Shapiro, pshapiro@his,com
The value of any network rises exponentially with the number of
people using it. The more people who subscribe to this civic discussion
newsletter, the greater the exchange of ideas and information that will
occur. Thanks for inviting a neighbor or friend to subscribe. firstname.lastname@example.org
would benefit even from having a bunch of new lurkers.
Thanks to the generosity of readers of themail, two guitars are on
their way to DC Armory. One donor also provided two recorders, whose
portability and small size make them very useful in this setting. I’ve
sent E-mail about this to the Red Cross of the National Capital Area,
which is coordinating the DC Armory project (see http://www.redcrossdc.org/About/about_us.php3).
While the natural tendency is to want to call this agency about wanting
to help, E-mail is the more suited communications channel.
After I visit the DC Armory, I’ll share whatever info would be
useful for others in themail to know.
Setting the Record Straight
James D. Thrift, email@example.com
I have been a full-time resident of Gangplank marina for several
years, and was stunned to read the letter in themail [September 4] about
what a great job that has been done by the National Capital
Revitalization Corporation (NCRC) and their marina management company.
The following comments are about actual safety situations at the
Gangplank marina and are not intended as an attack on any group but will
set the record straight as to actual events. If there have been
improvements to the marina safety that’s news to me!
Where to start? When I first arrived I was told by marina management
that safety improvements to the property were to be made as it was then,
and still is, obvious that safety improvement are very much needed. This
past March, in an article in Marina Dockage magazine, their
marina manager stated that NCRC isn’t going to implement the original
renovation plans submitted in 2001 since it’s inline to be renovated
or rebuilt as part of the waterfront economic development project. In
the same article, it describes the business arrangement with Coastal
Properties and NCRC saying that “the arrangement has worked out well
for both parties, with Coastal paying for its expenses and making a
profit, while sending $500,000 per year to the NCRC.” I guess Mr.
Evans is not familiar with Gangplank location, and must be working off
third-hand information. If the marina is providing such a handsome
profit to NCRC why not use some of the money to replace the
near-water-level 50 amp electric plugs that still exist in half of the
marina? The marina has modern electric towers for boat shore power on
only a percentage of the docks, while many live boards still are forced
to use unsafe near-water-level plugs that are subject to direct water
leakage in rain and storms, and no longer meet code in surrounding
In addition to the decaying infrastructure, management has allowed
abandoned boats to remain in the marina for years. Last year after
numerous attempts to have an abandoned barge cleaned or removed from the
marina, I organized a work party to clean the gas containers, cleaning
fluids, and other very flammable objects from the boat and dispose of
them in proper containers. This was after years of unanswered complaints
from numerous residents. I have too many things to do than spend my time
trying to figure out who is responsible for all the safety violations at
Gangplank; but for Mr. Evans to paint the marina with a “safe
standards” brush is more that I can stand. I’ll be glad to show him
first hand what needs to be fixed.
Tom Blagburn, firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t think emergency preparedness has been appropriately
addressed by anyone. I was totally disappointed in the emergency
response in this city last September during hurricane Inez. In my own
neighborhood we were without electricity for four days. Yes, everyone
had running water and food in the refrigerator. Most had a grill in the
back yard. But there were elderly neighbors who were in need of
generators to operate breathing apparatus who called and called the HELP
Center without response There seems to be an inability to gather factual
information on service capacity and emergency service delivery
capability. Every government official carries the same tune: “We are
ready for any emergency!” The fact is that we are not! There is this a
of openness, of candid discussions about preparedness, and of a real
ability to mobilize resources. The fact of the matter is that many
government professionals don’t live in the city. This is true of
police, fire, social services, and other agencies. In order to have an
effective response team, there must be an infrastructure of support
personnel who actually live in the city. There is so very much to this
issue that needs to be addressed but I think themail has at least
started a conversation.
Is Gasoline the New Crack?
Richard Layman, email@example.com
Proposals to stop levying gasoline excise taxes [themail, September
4] are a sign of a deep addiction. Reducing or eliminating gasoline
excise taxes is comparable to recent practices of not funding levee
improvement in New Orleans. Implementing this idea won’t lead to
death, as it did in New Orleans, but such a policy would come at great
cost to current and future generations. Although automobile drivers
think that they bear the full cost of road building and maintenance they
don’t — per gallon gasoline taxes cover 35 percent of the cost of
road building, while vehicle taxes and tolls total 24 percent, leaving
31 percent of the total cost of road building and maintenance to be
borne by local, state, and federal government general funds. (For more
information see the syndicated column by Neal Peirce from May 2003
entitled “Gas Tax Hikes: Needed But Politically Perilous,” which is
discussed in my blog entry “Gasoline Tax Myths,” http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2005/08/gasoline-tax-myths.html.)
Why is your driving so important that other people need to subsidize
your choice, right now or any time? Why doesn’t the increasing cost of
gasoline, and the acknowledged recognition that oil is a finite and
depleting resource, instead foment calls for matching land use and
planning policy with transit and other non-automobile-centric
transportation patterns? Given the prominence access to oil supplies
plays in US foreign policy, why isn’t reducing the country’s use of
foreign oil the number one foreign and domestic policy issue right now
(other than dealing with the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina)?
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Smith Farm Center for the Healing Arts Events,
Greg Finch, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gentle Yoga for stress reduction for adults living with cancer and
their caregivers series, with Corrin Bennett. September 13, 20, and 27,
11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Learn simple, effective yoga techniques tailored
to reduce stress and bring balance to body, mind, and spirit that can be
easily integrated into your everyday routine. $25 for series or $10 per
session (scholarships available).
Our Stress Reduction Series provides opportunities to integrate
mind/body work in the healing process. We encourage you to wear simple,
loose fitting clothes. Beginners and other levels welcome. We ask that
you commit to as many sessions as possible to generate a stable,
supportive group. Creative sampler series with Savneet Talwar, September
15, 22, and 29, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Explore several creative practices from
Smith Farm Center arts programs that unlock innate creative potential
and promote inner listening and self-awareness. Visual art techniques
will reawaken the joy of putting color to paper and celebrating memory.
Therapeutic, body-based practices such as breathing, music, and
movement, along with guided imagery and meditation, will draw
individuals into the creative play of images and open the way to
expression and exploration of life’s mysteries. These September
classes might even encourage you to participate in one of the more
focused, month-long programs! Art-In-Process programs use a variety of
creative media that foster healing. Previous art experience is not
needed in order to benefit from arts and creativity programs. We ask
that you commit to as many sessions as possible to generate a stable,
supportive group. Free.
Living well with cancer day retreat, a day-long Saturday retreat for
adults living with cancer and their caregivers. Saturday, September 24,
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. $15 per person includes materials and vegetarian
lunch (scholarships available). Living Well With Cancer retreats, held
at the Smith Farm City Center in Washington DC, strengthen your innate
healing mechanisms. You will learn to balance mainstream medical
treatment with your own desire to live a healthier, more fulfilling
life. The integrated schedule provides support sessions, yoga,
meditation, deep relaxation, imagery work, creativity sessions, a
gourmet vegetarian meal, and discussions on choices among complementary
and conventional cancer therapies. The Couples Retreat addresses the
unique needs of couples facing illness together. Call 483-8600 or E-mail
heal@SmithFarm.com to register.
All at Smith Farm City Center, 1632 U Street, NW, 483-8600, http://www.SmithFarm.com.
Metro accessible, Red and Green lines. Limited parking available, call
Leukemia Cup Regatta, September 10
Duncan Hood, email@example.com
We still have a few boats available for the Leukemia Cup Regatta on
Saturday, September 10, and would like to make a strong showing. Last
year was a blast. See if you can join us for this one. We’re trying to
line up crews for the race and people to help with our schooner
“American Spirit.” American Spirit will be one of the spectator
boats for the race. It’s a great day for a good cause. Cost of the day
is $25 per person, based on a crew of four per boat. Call 547-1250 and
reserve a boat today.
Washington Sailing Marina, Saturday, September 10, 8:15 a.m.,
registration; 8:30 a.m., one-design registration; 9 a.m.. PHRF skippers
meeting; 10:30 a.m., race begins; 4:30 p.m.: Post-race celebration
hosted by Guest Services, with dinner, live music, awards and silent
auction. Spectator boat passes available. Contact Mike Wilkinson at
703-960-1100. See http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/regatta/hm_reg
Glen Echo Summer of Change, September 10
Sam Swersky, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Summer of Change,” the first reunion of people who participated
in the 1960 protests that led to the racial integration of Glen Echo
Park, will take place at the Park on Saturday, September 10. Among those
planning to attend the event, which takes place forty-five years to the
day after the last protest was held, are former Howard University
students, residents from the adjacent Bannockburn neighborhood, and
civil rights leaders who participated in the protests, as well as
Montgomery County officials and the current leadership of Glen Echo
The protesters, many of whom have not seen each other in forty-five
years, will gather for a private luncheon at noon. From 1:30 to 4 p.m.,
they will share their memories at a public forum. Juan Williams, a
senior correspondent at National Public Radio and the author of the
nonfiction bestseller Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights
Years, 1954-1965, will moderate. Several dozen protesters are
expected to attend the event. Protesters who are interested in attending
the event should contact Sam Swersky at 301-492-6229. Summer of Change
is sponsored by the National Park Service in cooperation with Montgomery
County, Maryland, and the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and
DC Public Library Events, September 14-15
Debra Truhart, email@example.com
Wednesday, September 14, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby. Bonnie White discusses
her experiences as a volunteer docent and tour guide for both deaf and
hearing visitors at the Museum of American History, Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Gardens in Washington, DC. A sign language interpreter will be
present. Public contact 727-2145 (TTY or voice).
Wednesday, September 14, 6:45 p.m., Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library,
5625 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Author John Umana, Ph.D., will discuss his
book, Creation: Towards A Theory of All Things. Public contact
Thursday, September 15, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial
Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby, Meet with local literacy
providers and find out how you can volunteer to help an adult to learn
to read. Public contact 727-1616.
National Building Museum Events, September 15
Brie Hensold, firstname.lastname@example.org
All events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW,
Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.
Thursday, September 15, Thursday, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Smart Growth
Lecture: Next Steps for the Washington Region’s Reality Check. Len
Forkas, chair of ULI Washington’s "Reality Check" event last
February, will discuss the results of this unusual convocation of
government, business, and civic leaders who created a development vision
for the Washington, DC, region twenty-five years from now. Free.
Registration not required.
Thursday, September 15, Thursday, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Architectural and
engineering marvels on film. This two-part film screening features
designs by Eero Saarinen and Santiago Calatrava. Academy Award-winning
documentary filmmaker Charles Guggenheim’s work Monument to a Dream:
The Building of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (1964, 28
min.) traces the challenging task of building Saarinen’s famous St.
Louis Arch. Santiago Travels (2004, 77 min.), produced by First Run/Icarus
Films, explores the work of the internationally known engineer/architect
Santiago Calatrava. Free. Registration required.
CLASSIFIEDS — DONATIONS
Arts for Life is offering creative trauma recovery services to
evacuees — children, adults, and seniors — from Louisiana and
Mississippi being housed at the armory. Can you help us by donating arts
supplies such as rolls of banner paper, magic markers, plastic buckets
for drumming, and materials for making a recovery quilt? Or can you
provide some cash to help our New York colleagues travel to DC? Arts for
Life is a nonprofit consortium of DC and New York storytellers, writers,
dancers, musicians, drummers, visual artists, and actors formed in the
wake of 9/11. We’ve used a trauma recovery model, developed by a group
of NY artists and therapists, which has been extremely effective in
helping young children, teens, adults affected by terrorist attacks, and
service providers suffering secondary trauma cope with the initial and
long-term emotional and physical impact of trauma. You can find out all
about our services at http://www.arts-for-life.org.
If you can help us out now with arts supplies or cash, please call me at
667-3766 or E-mail me.
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
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All postings should also be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of
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