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” http://instapundit.com/archives/week_2005_09_18.php.
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, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/14/AR2005091402481.html.
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?
National Capital Medical Center
Eric Rosenthal, email@example.com
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
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
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
Metro and Emergency Management
Phill Wolf, pbwolf at veriz0n.net
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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbwolf/44347342/
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 http://www.macnn.com/articles/05/09/07/fema.relief.services/.
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
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 dc.gov; 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.
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, email@example.com
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 http://www.narpac.org/REXLRPLA.HTM#cogtpbmod.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
I Am Father, September 20
Jonetta Rose Barras, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.
Visit us at http://www.estherproductions.com.
Comp Plan Week 2 Starts September 21
Corinna J. Moebius, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, http://www.wmata.com,
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 http://www.inclusivecity.org/docs.php?ogid=1000000850,
or call 442-8812.
Construction Watch Tour, September 24
Brie Hensold, email@example.com
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 http://www.nbm.org.
Cultural Institute of Mexico Children’s
Concert, September 25
Barbara Ruesaga, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Speaker Series, September 29
Patricia Pasqual, email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or calling 727-3258.
Brookland Festival, October 8
Mary Farrell, email@example.com
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
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 BrooklandCDC@AOL.com.
The festival is sponsored by the Brookland Community Development
Corporation and its Main Street program, the DC Lottery, Verizon, and The
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
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?
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, firstname.lastname@example.org,
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
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.
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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