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October 9, 2005

Boulevard of Dreams

Dear Boulevardiers:

Recommended reading: two letters in today’s Washington Post by Robert Malson ( and Eric Rosenthal ( The administration wants to build a new National Capital Medical Center to fill the gaping holes left by its closing of DC General Hospital. Just a few years ago the administration swore Greater Southeast Community Hospital would fill all the need for hospital care in that part of the city. Now the administration has switched its position and claims a new full-service hospital is needed, but it wants to avoid the formal process of getting a Certificate of Need to prove its case. Malson’s conclusion: “If the city is going to invest taxpayer money in a National Capital Medical Center, intense public scrutiny is warranted. The public should demand that the certificate-of-need process not be bypassed — particularly in an atmosphere already charged with election-year posturing and pandering.”

Also recommended: Josh Levin’s biting summary of the current plans for the new ballpark, “Rich Fan, Poor Fan,” in the current issue of the Washington City Paper ( The City Paper demonstrates that it can do good in-depth political reporting, on those few occasions when it cares to. And it is a political issue, the way the stadium is being built to maximize the profit of Major League Baseball and the eventual team owners, and to maximize the perquisites for the richest few fans, when it is the taxpayers of DC who are paying the bills.

Please remember that themail will take a three-week break for the last three weeks of October. I’ll resume publishing on Wednesday, November 2. Please hold your messages for that issue until late October; I look forward to hearing from you then.

Gary Imhoff


DDOT, GSA, and the Washington Post Need to Learn DC Streets
LaTanya Wright, iamlatanya at verizon dot net

On Wednesday, September 7, the General Services Administration gave an overview to ANC 8C on its plans for St. Elizabeth’s West Campus: to move the US Coast Guard’s headquarters there. In the eye-catching, color handout, a map shows one street boundary of St. E’s as “Martin Luther King Blvd.” On October 3, in the Washington Post story, “DC Red-Light Cameras Fail to Reduce Accidents,” the print edition featured a map of DC’s major streets. Once again, “M.L.K. Blvd.” is on the map as a major DC street.

On October 6, 2005, in the Washington Post’s story highlighted on the front page of the District Weekly, “Hot Spots for Crashes Multiply,” the Post provided a map on page 11. Again, “M.L.K. Blvd.” The source for the map: “DC Department of Transportation.”

Last I checked — and I ride Metrobus up and down this street daily — the only street named after Dr. King in this city was an avenue. In fact, other than MacArthur, I don’t believe there is another boulevard in this city. When DC’s gentrification reaches its height in the “last frontier” of Ward 8, maybe the District government, the Post, and the feds will publish the street names correctly. Or, this could simply be the result of DC’s “new” residents filling up the District’s civil service payroll.


The Verizon Foundation Resource Center
Phil Shapiro,

For those of you in the nonprofit sector who might be interested, The Verizon Foundation Resource Center has launched (see

This reminds me of my first online experience with the Verizon Foundation, about eight years ago (in 1997.) Verizon was offering free surplus office equipment to Washington, DC, nonprofits. You could apply for surplus equipment online right on the Verizon Foundation web site, explaining your nonprofit organization’s needs in a web form. So I applied online at 2 a.m., one early morning. Fewer than ten seconds after I submitted my request, I received an E-mail announcing that regrettably my request for surplus office equipment was not accepted. Now that is a best practice policy worth noting: automated rejection of nonprofit grant requests. Sure streamlines things, doesn’t it? I wonder if the Verizon Foundation has some of the same people running their web site, or whether they have brought in new blood.

I must admit that the Verizon Foundation has done a lot of good in this town supporting literacy and other worthy causes, but I will not let the overall good this foundation has done remove the foundation from responsibility for boneheaded things it has also done. Either you’re committed to doing things right, or you’re not. There was a time the Verizon Foundation was not committed to doings things right. I hope that has changed.


It’s Spring Again
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

Here in New Zealand it’s spring all over again. Lovely flowers and trees much like DC in the spring. Lots of familiar stuff here Down Under in both Australia and New Zealand, yet in many ways very different. Cities here are much cleaner and there are very nice, well maintained, public toilet facilities everywhere. They speak a somewhat familiar language which is much easier than the Irish brogue. Sports fans abound and crazy for their rugby. Can’t figure out cricket, though.


Departure of Andrew Altman
Erling Hansen, erlinghansen at verizon dot net

An item in the news this week is Andy Altman’s resigning as Chief Executive Officer of the Anacostia Waterfront Development Corporation and heading to the Big Apple. Perhaps we can now get a replacement who is less arrogant (he’ll fit in fine in NYC, I think) and show less disdain for the citizenry while making the rounds of neighborhood meetings. There are many mourning his loss, but I think we can do better.

It is a post requiring Council approval and one heavily supported by Hizzoner Williams because the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative is supposed to be one of the crowning jewels of the Tony Bowtie era. We’ll watch with interest who is nominated to replace Mr. Altman.


Red Light Cameras
Ralph Blessing,

Some of us were not as easily convinced by the Post’s article on red light cameras as Gary apparently was [themail, October 5]. What I got out of it was a rather elaborate recitation of statistics, but little in the way of analysis. In other words, if crashes have increased at certain intersections, why? The Post implies a causal relationship between an increase in the crash rate and the presence of red light cameras. But without a careful analysis of individual crashes (something I recognize would be a massive undertaking), their conclusions don’t necessarily hold water. For instance, opponents of traffic cameras routinely claim that yellow lights are shortened at intersections with cameras. Or else they claim that because more people are now stopping when the light turns yellow — what a novel idea! — they are more likely to be rear-ended. But the article doesn’t evaluate either of those claims.

As a keen observer of traffic safety issues, I pay particular attention to the timing of traffic signals and the like, yet I can’t recall seeing an unduly short yellow light anywhere in the District. Quite the contrary, practically every DC traffic signal now has a delayed green. Did the Post factor that into its analysis? Is it possible that the delayed green gives red light runners a false sense of security that they can beat a light that just turned red, with the occasional result being that they broadside a car that has the right of way?

The delayed green was phased in around the same time as traffic cameras, so it would seem logical to include that factor in any investigation of crash rates, though there is no indication that the Post did so. Rather, the article simplistically hints that a spike in crashes (what the Post glibly refers to as “accidents”) is the result of red light cameras, period. I get the impression that the Post reporters were, figuratively speaking, running a few red lights to make their deadline.


Red Light Cameras
Greg DuRoss,

If the District were truly interested in reducing red light running and accidents, they would have installed camera boxes at virtually all busy intersections in the District years ago; let’s just estimate four hundred locations. Then they would have publicized the fact that a limited number of cameras — say fifty — would be rotated on a random basis to all the four hundred locations. This would truly have a preventive impact because people would never know when there is a camera operating at a particular location. But of course we all know this is about revenue — big revenue — and so low-cost prevention strategies that don’t bring in big bucks do not even get considered.


Red Light Cameras
Harold Foster, Petworth,

I am looking into this, but I think Denver or some other politically consequential city has finally just confessed that automated red light and speed surveillance systems really do not achieve all the great things ascribed to them: greater pedestrian safety, slower speeds, less yellow-to-red light running, and fewer accidents. But they went on to state the obvious: automated red light and speed surveillance had become such a cash cow that, for fiscal rather than safety reasons they were continuing and even expanding the program.

The Post study and the earlier study of the more limited automated red light surveillance program in Virginia both pretty much refute these safety assertions. There is some semi-anecdotal evidence that slightly fewer fatal traffic accidents occur at monitored intersections, but there is a correspondingly greater number of so-called fender-bender accidents. And most of the latter are caused by motorists panicking when the traffic signal facing them goes green to yellow. They brake suddenly and often get rear-ended by the following car. I have seen three such accidents at a monitored intersection near our home.

I would hope that, since he’s now a lame duck, Williams would just come out and say that the city literally cannot afford to abandon any program that nets $32,000,000 in less than a decade. Personally, I actually don’t mind the complaints coming from non-District motorists that this program is a sort of backdoor commuter tax. Whenever we “Columbians” hear that, we ought to point out to our neighbors from Maryland and Virginia that, if there were a true reciprocal income tax, they could at least deduct it from their local and state income taxes. As it is, unless they get ticketed while on the job, they can’t do that after being photographed running a red light on New York Avenue or North Capitol Street.


Rear Ended in themail
Michael Bindner, mikeybdc at yahoo dot com

The question on red light cameras is whether a low speed rear-end collision is more deadly than a high speed side-on crash. Fenders can be replaced, the left side of my body can’t.



Worry Free Advocacy Training, October 13
Martina Gillis,

On Thursday, October 13, 12:00-2:00 p.m., at 1200 U Street, NW, Alliance for Justice expert trainers will help you understand the rules of nonprofit lobbying and election related activities. This workshop is for nonprofit managers, staff , and board members. It will provide an in-depth overview of the legal rules for nonprofits that engage or wish to engage in lobbying and election work. Since this is an election year, we know many of you are planning election activities, so come make sure that your activities are within the legal limits! Registration is required; the fee is $15 for Fair Budget Coalition members, $30 for nonmembers. Registration fee includes workshop materials and follow up consultation with Alliance for Justice. Please fax or E-mail your contact information to 328-5515 or if you plan to attend. For more information, contact Martina Gillis, 328-5513. This event is sponsored by the Fair Budget Coalition.


Used Book Sale, October 15
Edna Small,

Come to the used book sale, with books for grown-ups, Saturday, October 15, 12:00-4:00 p.m., in conjunction with the Stoddert School Fair, on the school grounds at 40th and Calvert Streets, NW. Come find a treasure.


Fifth Annual Renovator’s House Tour, October 15
Ed Lazere, lazere@dcfpi@org

The fifth annual Capitol Hill renovator’s house tour will take place on Saturday, October 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Capitol Hill Cluster School, a DC public school. Capitol Hill is the nation’s largest historic district. But the self-guided Renovator’s House Tour does not focus exclusively on preservation. Rather it highlights unique homes and the creative and interesting things the owners have done to accommodate their modern families. The Tour showcases how 21st century families live in 19th and early 20th century homes. It promotes ideas and processes and can inspire those planning their own home improvements. With an eclectic mix of houses, including several neighborhood landmarks, this year’s tour promises to be among the very best.

To order tickets, you can contact me at, or you can order tickets online at


Workshop: How To Become a Great Presenter, October 15
Barbara Conn,

Want to become more compelling and creative as a presenter or speaker? Want to deliver a message that will grab your audience’s attention, speak their language, playfully provoke new ideas, and sustain group attention? Want to generate laughter, helping others become more receptive to your serious or "bottom line" message, and overcome your own presentation/performance fears?

Gather your friends, colleagues, and family members and bring them to this Saturday, October 15, 1:00 p.m. (check-in: 12:45 p.m.), workshop of the Capital PC User Group Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (CPCUG E&C SIG) led by the “Stress Doc,” Mark Gorkin. This free talk will be in the First Floor Large Auditorium of the Cleveland Park Library at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, just over a block from the Cleveland Park Metrorail Station on the Red Line. For more information about this event, the speaker, and CPCUG, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, and to register, visit


Correction, Janine Di Giovanni Talk, October 17
Bruce Snyder, Chevy Chase Library,

At the Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, on Monday, October 17, at 6:30 p.m., author Janine Di Giovanni talks about her book Madness Visible: A Memoir of War, about the breakup of Yugoslavia. This date is changed from Wednesday, October 12.


Exit 11: Stories from the New Jersey Turnpike, October 21
Brad Hills,

Washington Storytellers Theater‘s Mainstage season begins on Friday, October 21, at 8:00 p.m., at the City Museum, 801 K Street, NW. Catherine Conant will present “Exit 11,” her group of personal tales about the lunacy of 1950s and 60s industrial New Jersey. Ticket price, $15; for reservation call 545-6840. NES (The League of Advancement for New England Storytelling) calls the stories “beautifully crafted first person tales, told simply and directly, of something pretty close to ordinary life. But for Catherine Conant, ordinary life is a gently absurdist comedy.” One of these stories, “Toast,” recounts Conant’s epic struggle against a modern-day Goliath: a toaster manufacturer. It’s not exactly “The Insider,” but her account is a comic distillation of some of the things about a consumer society that make us crazy — and her talent makes it a treat.

“Exit 11” is the first of seven performances in Washington Storytellers Theater‘s sixteenth season. WST is one of only a handful of theaters in the country that present the art of storytelling on a regular basis.


National Building Museum Events, October 21-November 5
Brie Hensold,

All events except Construction Watch Tour at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.

Monday, October 24, reception 6:00-7:00 p.m., program 7:00-8:30 p.m. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) will receive the Museum’s 2005 Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology in recognition of its promotion of sustainable design and building practices and development of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program. Richard Fedrizzi, president and CEO of USGBC, will moderate a program about the implications of LEED, focusing the new Genzyme Center in Cambridge, MA, as a case study. It is the world’s largest structure with the highest LEED rating (platinum). After German architect Stefan Behnisch describes the biotechnology firm’s headquarters, Genzyme president and CEO Henri Termeer, together with Philip Coleman, project executive, and Brett Kass, project engineer, both of Turner Construction Company, will join a round table discussion about the project and LEED. $12 members of the Museum and USGBC; $16 nonmembers; $10 students. Prepaid registration required. Turner Construction Company is sponsoring the reception honoring the USGBC.

Tuesday, October 25, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Earlier this year, preliminary designs were unveiled for the Cultural Center that will become part of the complex of structures at the former World Trade Center (WTC) site. Designed by the Norwegian firm Snøhetta, the project will house two museums — The Drawing Center and the International Freedom Center — plus the visitor’s center for the WTC Memorial. Craig Dykers, a founding principal of the firm, will discuss the Cultural Center and some of his studio’s other internationally acclaimed projects including the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt and the National Opera House in Oslo, Norway. $12 Museum members; $17 nonmembers; $10 students. Prepaid registration required.

Thursday, October 27, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Smart Growth: Strategies for Revitalizing Downtowns. Though every downtown is different, common revitalization lessons can be applied anywhere. Christopher Leinberger, partner in Albuquerque’s Historic District Improvement Company and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, will discuss these lessons and the fundamentals for a downtown turnaround plan. Free. Registration not required.

Thursday, October 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m. For more than half a century people have marveled at the sweeping forms of the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, lined up to enter the St. Louis Gateway Arch, and admired the sensuous lines of Knoll’s pedestal chair. All of these were designed by the Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. Architectural historian Jayne Merkel will discuss the life and work of Saarien, now considered to be one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. After the lecture, she will sign copies of her book Eero Saarinen (Phaidon). $10 Members and students; $15 nonmembers. Registration required.

Saturday, October 29, 8:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. Celebrate the Museum’s 25th anniversary at the best bash of the year! Socialize with celebrity guests, indulge in neon cocktails and gourmet munchies, enjoy live entertainment, and bid on one-of-a-kind items at a silver-themed auction. A luxury raffle may also have you leaving with a new set of wheels! And don’t forget great mingling with noted design professionals, architects, and lovers of the built environment -- all in the Museum’s historic Great Hall. $75 Museum members; $95 nonmembers. Special support levels available. All ticket contributions support the Museum’s exhibitions and education programs and are partially tax-deductible. Advance registration suggested; limited tickets available at the door. Buy tickets online at, or call 272-2448, ext. 3559.

Monday, October 31, 6:30-8:00 p.m. DC Builds: Intown Living Around the Country and in DC. In Washington, DC, and across the country, people are returning downtown to live and play. Ann Breen and Dick Rigby, cofounders of the Washington, DC-based Waterfront Center, have studied this phenomenon in eight cities. They will present their findings and briefly relate them to Washington. Gerard Widdicombe, director of the economic development at Washington’s Downtown Business Improvement District, will then discuss downtown living trends in the District. After the lecture, Breen and Rigby will sign copies of their book Intown Living: A Different American Dream (Island Press). $10 Museum members and students; $15 nonmembers. Registration required.

Tuesday, November 1, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Building for the 21st Century: The 2005 Solar Decathlon. In October during the Solar Decathlon, eighteen university teams from around the world constructed a village of solar houses on the National Mall, and competed in ten categories ranging from architecture to energy efficiency. Richard King with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will discuss the competition and its results. Free. Registration not required.

Tuesday, November 1, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Inside the Not So Big House: Discovering the Details that Bring a Home to Life. Join architect and best-selling author Sarah Susanka as she zooms in on the architectural details that make a home functional, harmonious, and filled with the personality of the homeowners. After the lecture, she will sign copies of her just-published book Inside the Not So Big House (Taunton Press). $12 Museum and AIA members and students; $17 nonmembers. Registration required.

Saturday, November 5, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Construction Watch Tour. Currently under construction on the Potomac River near Georgetown, the House of Sweden will contain the new Swedish embassy, as well as facilities for various cultural activities. The modernist glass-and-wood-clad building is designed by the Swedish architectural firm Wingårdh Architects. Brad Hunter of Lano / Armada Hoffler and Gunilla Ekberg, general manager of the House of Sweden, will lead a tour of this project. Open only to Museum members, $18. Space is limited. Prepaid registration required. To register, call the Museum or visit beginning October 24.


DC Public Library Events, October 25-31
Debra Truhart,

Halloween Parties at DC Public Libraries: Wednesday, October 26, 4:00 p.m., Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Children come dressed in your costume for games, stories and fun. All ages. Public contact: 282-3080. Thursday and Friday, October 27 and 28, 3:30 p.m., Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street, SE. Games, face painting, scary stories, treats and more. School ages. Public contact: 698-3377. Saturday, October 29, Takoma Park Neighborhood Library, 416 Cedar Street, NW. Scary stories, crafts and treats make for Halloween fun! School ages. Public contact: 576-7252. Monday, October 31, 4:30 p.m., Capitol View Neighborhood Library, 5001 Central Avenue, SE. Halloween treats and prizes will be awarded to the scariest, funniest and most original costume. School ages. Public contact: 645-0755. Monday, October 31, 6:00 p.m., Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library, 3660 Alabama Avenue, SE. Storytelling and activities with a Halloween theme for children. All ages. Public contact: 645-4297. Monday, October 31, 4:00 p.m., Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW. Come dressed in costume for scary films and stories. Ages 6 and up. Public contact: 541-6100. Monday, October 31, 4:00 p.m., Palisades Neighborhood Library, 4901 V Street, NW. Stories, games and treats. Ages 3 – 10. Public contact: 282-3139.

Tuesday, October 25, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 307. Washingtoniana Centennial Film Festival. View the film, Greatest Moments in Washington Redskins History, which features historic games, players and plays of the Redskin’s from the 1930’s to the 1990’s. Public contact: 727-1213.

Tuesday, October 25, 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, October 29, 2:00 p.m., Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library, 3160 16th Street, NW. Angel Robles-Pena, Esq., will talk about his book, Guia y Formularios de Inmigracion, and the legal rights of immigrants. Public contact: 671-0200.

Thursday, October 27, 1:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. United Nations at 60: Celebrating the World at your library . . . Beginning with Water. Students and teachers from local schools will experience the "Water Is Life" celebration with United Nations speakers and local water conservationists. Grades 6 - 8. Public contact: 727-4804.


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