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September 18, 2005


Dear Pork Busters:

Several members of the blogosphere are engaging in a Porkbusters campaign, which Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds describes in this way: “How are we going to mobilize the blogosphere in support of cuts in wasteful spending to support Katrina relief? Here’s the plan. Identify some wasteful spending in your state or (even better) Congressional District. Put up a blog post on it. Go to N.Z. Bear’s new PorkBusters page and list the pork, and add a link to your post. Then call your Senators and Representative and ask them if they’re willing to support having that program cut or — failing that — what else they’re willing to cut in order to fund Katrina relief”

We can do even better here in themail, because we can work together to identify local pork. We in DC aren’t used to cutting federal spending on us; our usual tendency is instead to complain about not getting enough of it. But certainly there is plenty of wasteful spending that we can relinquish for a few years. Let me start the ball rolling by proposing one cut that the federal government has already made, $47 million in Department of Housing and Urban Development support for the DC government’s plans for Skyland Shopping Center. Local officials want to use eminent domain to take the shopping center from its current owners and operators, who aren’t rich enough, upscale enough, and politically connected enough, in order to give it to richer and more favored developers. I like upscale shops, myself, but I’m not convinced that subsidizing their developers is one of the highest goals for government. DC officials are fighting to get the money, according to an article in the Post, Why don’t we just give it up as a bad idea? $47 million saved.

What federal funding can you think of that DC misspends? What other pork can we bust locally?

Gary Imhoff


National Capital Medical Center
Eric Rosenthal,

The Mayor no longer is pretending the National Capital Medical Center (NCMC) has anything to do with health. The District’s standard review process for proposed medical facilities would require he demonstrate that the NCMC meets “a public need.” As reported in Saturday’s Washington Post (, he plans to evade that process, a decision that clearly tells us he knows the NCMC would do little, if anything, to meet any public need. Unfortunately, the mayor’s tacit admission is correct: the evidence shows that the NCMC would not address our health needs. As the Post pointed out, no respected health expert has backed it. In fact, both the DC Primary Care Association and the DC Hospital Association testified in opposition, and the Mayor’s own consultant said we would be “better served” with improved outpatient care.

That the NCMC would be a lost opportunity to improve health in DC is in itself a tragedy, given our awful rates of chronic disease and early death. However, even if you support the NCMC, you should be troubled we may adopt a major health initiative without ensuring it would have an impact on health. You should be concerned we may spend hundreds of millions of public dollars in building costs and at least tens of millions of dollars annually ad infinitum to support the NCMC without proof it would do anything useful for anybody. If the new hospital were a good idea, where is the evidence and why avoid the scrutiny?

Now is the time to slow down. Health really is a serious problem in Washington and we do need to make major changes to improve it. The mayor should put his plans on hold and appoint a well-respected, independent commission to study our health problems and make evidence-based recommendations to eradicate them. Yes, this would take a little time, but doesn’t everyone, on all sides of this issue, want us to get it right? Budget deficits, politics-above-everything decision-making and the dreaded Control Board are beginning to slip into memory, thanks in large part to Tony Williams. It would be ironic if one of his last major decisions as Mayor were responsible for returning us to those bad, old days.


Metro and Emergency Management
Phill Wolf, pbwolf at

Sometimes, Metro finds itself in the news for accepting, or not accepting, certain advertisements. Other times, Metro finds itself in the news for doing something really silly without thinking first! Which category does this bus shelter fall in? Did none of Metro’s ten thousand employees foresee any difficulty arising from decorating a glass bus shelter with a big advertisement that says, “In Case Of Emergency, ___?” Complete the sentence yourself and then check your answer at


Beware, Beware, Beware
Clyde Howard,

Traveling westbound on Florida Avenue, NW, at the intersection with New York Avenue, NW, do not make a right turn on red to travel eastbound on New York Avenue. When you attempt to make this right turn on red, it causes you to advance too far into the intersection, tripping the red light camera to take your picture. Right turn on red is legal at this intersection, but you must be extremely careful when doing so. The sensors for the camera should be adjusted to allow you to make right turns. The city probably will not make the adjustment until after it has trapped a great number of drivers into receiving tickets.


DC Emergency Plan
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

Thanks to an insider, downtown, I had a quick peek at the DC plan for what will be done in the event of a terrorist attack or major event in the city. A helicopter is on standby near the District and will land on the roof of the building that houses the Mayor’s office. The helicopter is only on standby when the Mayor is in town, so it is needed only two or three days each month. If the Mayor is in town when anything hits the fan (and assuming someone tells him about it), the helicopter will be dispatched and the mayor will go for help.


Why We Can’t Leave Folks Locked Out Online
Phil Shapiro,

Earlier this year in this forum I expressed concerns about the Fairfax County Public Libraries providing downloadable audiobooks that were not accessible to Macintosh or Linux computer users. It just doesn’t seem to be a good thing for governmental agencies to provide online services accessible to some, but not to others. See


DMV Dining
Ron Leve, Dupont Circle,

I’d like to follow-up Ann Witt’s note in the September 14 themail with a couple of observations about service at 301 C Street, NW. First of all, why is this building still adhering to security standards that have even been dropped by the TSA? I refer to not allowing nail clippers with an attached metal file. Mine were lost when I visited the building last month. Perhaps the Department of Motor Vehicles is not the landlord, but whoever is, needs to modify the standards.

Second, DMV does not allow eating or drinking in its waiting room. This is not a totally unreasonable standard, but, with waits of several hours, it’s also not unreasonable for visitors to need to eat. On the visit referred to above, a very kindly DMV examiner came out from behind the counter and gently informed me of this rule (I had not noticed it posted on a wall sign). He even offered to handle my matter when I returned from completing my lunch outside if my number was called in my absence.

His courtesy notwithstanding, perhaps DMV might consider setting aside a portion of the room where eating would be allowed. This would meet the needs of its customers and enable it to minimize the clutter that might entail.


DC Laws Online
Mark Eckenwiler, themale at ingot dot org

In answer to Larry Seftor’s inquiry in the last issue [themail, September 14], Gary notes that the DC Code is available free online (owing to West Publishing’s arrangement with the District government) and that the city’s regulations -- the DCMR, which in reality does much of the heavy legal lifting — are partially available. The easiest way to reach either resource is to visit; under eServices (in the lower left corner), click on “searchable databases.” Unfortunately, the selection of free DCMR titles is very limited, although it includes some useful ones such as zoning and the construction codes supplement. (It was this resource to which I linked in my September 11 posting. Such links apparently don’t work, which is why Larry couldn’t get to the resource, but the info is indeed accessible free of charge.) For full DCMR access, you have to pay, alas.

Thanks also to Art Spitzer for correcting my error on the signage regulations. It’s never fun to be taken to the legal woodshed, but I welcome Art’s useful and informed commentary all the same. Color me chastened and wiser.


Gratuitous Attack
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

Phil Shapiro said [themail, September 14], “We have a couple of corporations in town whose goals are to maximize profit, not community well being.” We sure do, likely more than a couple. Does Phil suggest that corporations should neglect profits for the sake of “community well being”? How exactly does he suggest that corporations be run? According to his beliefs? To whom does he think that corporations are responsible — his vision of “community well being” or the people who own the corporations — shareholders, Phil’s fellow citizens?

I support corporate responsibility and community involvement, but a corporation that neglects profit will soon be a former corporation. Profits allow corporations to address community and other feel-good issues. It’s one thing to criticize specific corporations for lack of community involvement but illogical to criticize corporations in general for wanting to be profitable.

And remember those shareholders — does Phil believe corporations should neglect their interests to fulfill what he feels are their corporate obligations? Phil’s ideas of corporate responsibility might not be why people invested; they might be unhappy that their income or investment gains have been sacrificed for someone else’s fuzzy community well being goals. Maximizing community well being, not profit, is fine for a green-investment portfolio company or a community co-op. But it’s an unlikely model for a corporation seeking investors, growth, credit, survival, etc. Corporations are established to be profitable. People invest in them to profit. Satisfying those goals allows addressing community well being.


Just How Bad Are NARPAC Typos Going to Get?
Len Sullivan,

For those hundreds, if not thousands, of bitterly disappointed themail readers who could not link to our critique of the COG traffic forecasting model (09/14/05), please try again at



I Am Father, September 20
Jonetta Rose Barras,

Esther Productions, Inc., and United Planning Organization present I Am Father: Fathers Speak Out about Life without Their Daughters, a feature of the National Daughter-Daddy Reunion Tour, Tuesday, September 20, 5:30-7:00 p.m., at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 17th and M Streets, NW, (near the Farragut North Metro Station-Red Line). Come meet Greg Jones of Black Men Raising Girls Alone, then hear fathers tell their stories of living without daughters and share your own. Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jonetta Rose Barras at 722-4639 or send an E-mail to Visit us at


Comp Plan Week 2 Starts September 21
Corinna J. Moebius,

Help shape the DC Comprehensive Plan and the kind of place the District will be for generations to come. The Comp Plan guides how and where we as a city will grow, and provides the policy and planning guidance we need to address the issues facing Washington, DC, today. The Office of Planning (OP) invites you to attend a “Planning Fair” during Comp Plan Week 2 — on the day and location most convenient to you. Planning fairs will be held from September 21-28 in locations throughout the District. Each of the four planning fairs will be held in the evening, from 6-9 p.m. The content of each fair is the same. Use the WMATA RideGuide,, to find the best way to get to a meeting using public transportation.

Wednesday, September 21, Kelly Miller Middle School, 301 49th Street, NE; nearest Metro: Benning Road (Blue), bus lines: U8, W4. Thursday, September 22, Thurgood Marshall Center, 1816 12th Street, NW; nearest Metro: U Street/Cardozo (Green), bus lines: S2, S4, G8, 66. Tuesday, September 27, Eastern High School, 1700 East Capitol Street, NE; nearest Metro: Stadium Armory (Blue and Orange), bus lines: D6, B2. Wednesday, September 28, Woodrow Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street, NW; nearest Metro: Tenleytown (Red), bus lines: 36, H4.

The planning fairs will feature stations on topics including housing, public education facilities, transportation, land use, economic development, historic preservation, urban design, arts and culture, parks and recreation, public facilities and infrastructure, and environment. At each station, fill out a questionnaire with feedback on proposed ideas/approaches related to that station topic. A Map Room will display different kinds of maps, and members of OP and other city agencies will be available to answer questions. Your participation is important! For more information, read the Planning Fair Itinerary at, visit, or call 442-8812.


Construction Watch Tour, September 24
Brie Hensold,

Saturday, September 24, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Construction Watch Tour: National Museum of the Marine Corps. Visible from Interstate 95 in northern Virginia, the signature feature of the National Museum of the Marine Corps Museum is a 210-foot-tall mast leaning at a 60-degree angle through a sky-lit atrium. The upswept mast recalls, among other things, the iconic image of Marines raising the United States flag on Iwo Jima near the end of World War II. The 120,000-square-foot museum will include more than 40,000 square feet of exhibits, a 300-seat theater, and other amenities. Project architect Brian Chaffee, with Fentress Bradburn Architects, and project manager Col. Joseph Long, USMCR (Ret.), with the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, will lead a tour of this project, which opens in November 2006. Open only to Museum members, $50, which includes a $25 nonrefundable charge. Space is limited. Prepaid registration required. The tour will be by bus from the Museum. To register, call the Museum or visit


Cultural Institute of Mexico Children’s Concert, September 25
Barbara Ruesaga,

Sunday, September 25, at 1:00 p.m., at the Cultural Institute of Mexico, 2829 16th Street, NW. Let’s Sing Together, a children’s concert by José Luis Orozco, a brilliant exponent of children’s Latin-American music tradition. R.S.V.P. 728-1675. Free entrance.


Washington Post Speaker Series, September 29
Patricia Pasqual,

The DC Public Library Foundation presents an exciting new program, “Cover to Cover — Life Through the Lens of The Washington Post,” a panel discussion series featuring the people who report the news that you care about most. The inaugural event will be “Redskins vs. Ravens. Nationals vs. Orioles.” Can a nationally recognized newspaper maintain journalistic principles and show support for its local team? Who decides what stories make it into the sports section? What does the newspaper provide that’s different from television and radio? Join the discussion as journalists from The Washington Post’s sports section examine these issues and take questions from the audience.

Thursday, September 29, 6 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. Panelists: 1) Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, Assistant Managing Editor, Sports; 2) Jonathan Newton, Photojournalist; 3) Mark Maske, NFL Reporter. Moderator: Rich Foster, Newseum Programs Director. The program is a cooperative effort of the DC Public Library Foundation, DC Public Library (Music and Recreation), The Washington Post, and Newseum. Please RSVP for the event by E-mailing or calling 727-3258.


Brookland Festival, October 8
Mary Farrell,

Brookland, one of Washington’s DC Main Streets communities, will hold its ninth annual Brookland Festival on Saturday, October 8. The festival always captures and highlights the special small-town-in-town flavor of Brookland. At 11:00 a.m., a parade featuring the John Carroll High School Band and the Festival’s traditional spoof brigades, such as the canine and lawnmower brigades, will march from Franklin Street to Michigan Avenue, NE. Between 12:00 noon and 5:00 p.m., performance and exhibit pavilions, including nonprofit organizations, businesses, and arts and crafts exhibitors, will be featured in pavilions on Brookland’s Main Street (12th Street NE) between Monroe and Otis Streets, NE.

The festival will include a performing arts pavilion featuring the jazz and blues of notable local groups such as the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation and the Barrelhouse Brawl. Children and adult students of Dance Place and Northeast Tae Kwon Do, two well-known Brookland institutions, will perform as well. A history pavilion will include an exhibition that tells the story of Brookland’s beginnings and growth, and the many notable African-Americans who have lived and worked in the community, people such as Ralph Bunche and Pearl Bailey. New this year will be an arts pavilion featuring a clothesline sale of works on paper, including prints, drawings, and photographs by local artists.

Children’s activities, including storytelling, games, and creative activities, will be centered near the corner of 12th and Newton Streets, NE. Main Street stores, service providers, restaurants, carry-outs, and pubs will offer special eating and shopping opportunities that Saturday. Booths are still available to nonprofit organizations, business, and arts and crafts exhibitors, as are corporate sponsorship opportunities on several levels and volunteer opportunities. Individuals, corporations, organizations, and government agencies wishing to participate or should contact Festival Coordinator, Brookland CDC, at 529-8400 or The festival is sponsored by the Brookland Community Development Corporation and its Main Street program, the DC Lottery, Verizon, and The Washington Post.



Dog Trainer
Deborah Fort,

Kindness and responsibility made me put down my miserable and beloved sixteen-year-old mutt a couple of months ago. Thanks be that we don’t make our old animals suffer. I now have adopted a badly trained eleventh-month-old puppy. Can anyone recommend a good trainer?


Car Tax
Matt Brukman, mbrukman at gmail dot com

I’m soon to move to DC and I was concerned about the excise tax for moving my car, too. A Google search turned up a post on your site: “Clubs and Other Car Fun,” by John Whiteside,, dated May 28, 2000. This post discussed DC’s web site being ambiguous on this point (I noticed the same thing, now five years later). Anyway, the web site refers the reader to DC Code 50-2201.03. Scroll down to subsection (j) to read about the excise tax. Subsection (3) reads “The issuance of certificates of title for the following motor vehicles and trailers shall be exempt from the tax imposed by this subsection” and exemption (H) is, “Previously permanently registered motor vehicles and trailers purchased or acquired by nonresidents prior to coming into the District of Columbia and establishing or maintaining residences in the District.”

To me, this clearly indicates that a person moving a car into the district does not have to pay the excise tax. On the web site, it looks like there were no follow ups to Mr. Whiteside’s question. I would love to hear from people who have moved their cars to DC and hear whether they did or did not have to pay the tax. If they did, it appears that the DMV has misapplied the motor vehicle code.


Car Alarm Regulations
Michelle Grifka,

Can you tell me what, if any, regulations exist or can be interpreted to apply to nuisance car alarms that sound repeatedly. Our neighborhood is experiencing a car alarm that is wired so sensitively that passing motorcycles and large trucks trigger the alarm. We have left notes on the car for the owner asking him or her to have the alarm adjusted with no success. We do not know the owners, so cannot approach them directly.

The Metropolitan Police Department has informed us that all we can do is report the alarm each time it sounds to the 311 non-emergency number for documentation. At the very least, it would seem like some disturbing-the-peace code would apply.


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