themail.gif (3487 bytes)

September 7, 2005


Dear Prepared:

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 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,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?

Gary Imhoff


Why Didn’t the Buses Get Sent in Before Katrina Hit?
Star Lawrence,

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,

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” (

We have to be smarter, more creative and more resourceful in our activism and advocacy.


Cropp’s Constituents
Wenzell Taylor,

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.


Think Cropp
Sally MacDonald,

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 poles?

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.


Piensen Who?
Bryce A. Suderow,

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 ago.


Think DC
Gary Imhoff,

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 ( They say their interest is in “promoting strong leadership” for the city, and they are also contemplating supporting candidates in some city council races.

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, 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 (


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. 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 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,

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 jurisdictions.

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.


Emergency Preparedness
Tom Blagburn,

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,

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,”

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)?



Smith Farm Center for the Healing Arts Events, September
Greg Finch,

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 to register.

All at Smith Farm City Center, 1632 U Street, NW, 483-8600, Metro accessible, Red and Green lines. Limited parking available, call for info.


Leukemia Cup Regatta, September 10
Duncan Hood,

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 for details.


Glen Echo Summer of Change, September 10
Sam Swersky,

“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 Park.

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 Culture, Inc.


DC Public Library Events, September 14-15
Debra Truhart,

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 282-0021.

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,

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.



Arts for Life at the DC Armory
Juliet Bruce,

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 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 subscription form at To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available at

All postings should also be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)