Business as Usual
Dear Business-Minded Citizens:
Sean Madigan of The Washington Business Journal wrote an
article this week calling attention to an important legal opinion that
DC Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti issued back in September: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2005/11/14/story6.html.
The Attorney General’s opinion clarifies the legal status of the
National Capital Revitalization Corporation and the other
quasi-independent and pseudo-private agencies created by the city
council, such as the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, the DC Sports and
Entertainment Commission, and the Washington Convention Center
Authority. For years, the council has been creating these organizations
to do questionable business deals that would never pass public scrutiny
if the councilmembers had to do them themselves. These organizations
have in turn claimed that they can operate like private businesses, and
that they aren’t bound by the guidelines and safeguards, such as the
Sunshine Law and the District’s contractings and procurement laws,
that give the citizens of the District some ability to inquire into
their schemes and boondoggles.
Simplified, Spagnoletti’s decision says that these organizations
are part of DC government, and subject to the laws and regulations that
govern other government agencies. It says that the Home Rule Charter
gives the council the authority only to create an "office, agency,
department, or instrumentality" of the District government, and
that the council can’t create any entity outside of the District
government unless Congress grants it the power to do so. This is good
news for citizens — if the law can be enforced, it gives us some
increased power to rein in the excesses of these secretive, unresponsive
agencies. However, the businessmen and politicians who want to continue
to do business as usual, without the inconvenience of following the laws
that bind government agencies, are squealing. They are pressuring
Spagnoletti either to reverse or to withdraw his opinion. Read it
yourself at http://www.dcwatch.com/ncrc/050912.htm.
The Fannie Mae 2005 report on Housing in the Nation’s Capital, and
the reports from the three previous years, can be downloaded from http://www.fanniemaefoundation.org/publications/reports/hnc/2005/hnc2005.shtml.
Its conclusion can also be stated simply: if you’re an average citizen
with an average income, and you don’t already own a house in the city,
you probably can’t afford to buy one now. Does anyone have any
thoughts about a workable, affordable solution to this? If the middle
class can’t afford to buy its own homes, it obviously can’t afford
to pay enough taxes for the government to finance or subsidize the homes
for them. Or do you have a plan?
There’s a Message Here, Carol
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
The results of a study that ran a year and a half on the affects of a
smoking ban in all public places in Pueblo, Colorado, show a decrease in
heart attacks of twenty-seven percent. That’s a compelling reason to
ban smoking in all public places, including restaurants and bars, here
in DC. Carol Schwartz should learn from this study and make DC a
healthier place for all of us and visitors to DC.
[I’d think it more likely that this study is another example of
politicized science and manipulated results. The results are simply too
dramatic to be believable. The press release from the Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids, the organization promoting the Colorado study, pairs
it with this one: “the number of heart attacks declined by 40 percent
in Helena, Montana, during the six months that city’s smoke-free law
was in effect in 2002” (http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/Script/DisplayPressRelease.php3?Display=878).
The Helena study purports to show that heart attacks fell by 40 percent
during the six months the ban was in effect, and rose to previous levels
as soon as the prohibition was lifted. Do those who believe that
secondhand smoke is a serious health danger really believe that it is
the cause of 27 to 40 percent of heart attacks, or believe that its
effects are immediate, rather than cumulative, through prolonged
exposure? If secondhand smoke were the immediate cause of 27 to 40
percent of heart attacks, then banning cigarettes entirely would surely
eliminate all heart attacks. — Gary Imhoff]
The problems with Comcast start with their customer service. I have
not been able to get my billing address changed in over two years. So I
gave up on them. Sometimes I get the bill and sometimes I do not. The
solution amounts to adding the +4 to my zip code, but each time I have
spoken to a customer service person I am told, "Oh the post office
takes care of adding that." But the programming on Comcast is
terrible. If you listen to the commercials, they are oriented towards
people who are brain dead or have credit problems.
I use to have DirecTV and it was wonderful, but the place where I
live now does not permit satellite dishes on the roof.
Thanks very much to Leah Gurowitz for underscoring that jury service
is an important civic responsibility [themail, November 13]. And as a
side benefit, it’s an opportunity to learn more about the city, some
of its workings, and the court system (both civil and criminal).
Treatment of jurors is one area in which the DC government has improved
almost immeasurably in the last few decades. The first time I got called
to Superior Court jury duty was in the early 1970s, when that Court was
in the building that is now the National Building Museum. One reported
every day for a full month, and this long, long month was extended if
one were selected for a jury toward the end. There was one big jury
lounge, and there were almost no amenities. Staff tended to treat jurors
as if they were the prisoners.
Through what seems to have been a gradual evolution over the years,
things are much better now -- much more jury friendly. Superior Court
now uses the one-day-or-one-trial system, amenities (with a quiet room
and a business room and a reasonably comfortable large lounge) are much
nicer than before, and generally the staff is pleasant, courteous, and
helpful. Now if only they would do something about that dismal
It’s nice to be able to give credit where due every once in a
while! (I am just an ordinary DC citizen, with no connection to the
Reopening Klingle Road in Klingle Valley, as Laurie Collins has been
frantically preaching for years, would be a foolish waste of DC
government resources. Collins conveniently ignores that Mayor Williams,
a sensible manager of resources, opposed reopening/rebuilding Klingle,
and signed the legislation to reopen Klingle only because it was
embedded in an omnibus resolution. It should now be obvious that
rebuilding Klingle Road in this ravine would be far, far more costly
than previously estimated. The DC city council should use these funds
elsewhere in the city
Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the
David Culp, Capitol Hill, email@example.com
Laurie Collins (themail, November 13) criticizes local environmental
organization for their support of Klingle Valley, near Rock Creek Park.
She states: “Political candidates who have a genuine concern for the
environment should not be fooled by factions touting bogus environmental
concerns. . . .”
Adrienne Coleman, the Superintendent of Rock Creek Park, has objected
to rebuilding a paved road in Klingle Valley as “environmentally
destructive” to trees and soil on National Park Service land.
Superintendent Coleman has stated that it is not possible to rebuild
Klingle Road for cars without causing further environmental harm to
Klingle Creek, a tributary of Rock Creek.
I plan to work hard this election for candidates who support Klingle
Valley and urge others to do so. This is great weather for seeing for
yourself why Klingle Valley is worth saving. For a map and more
information, go to http://www.klinglevalley.org.
Are GWU Kids Turning Foggy Bottom into Animal
Len Sullivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quite by chance, NARPAC got drawn into the heated battle between the
Good Citizens of Foggy Bottom and the Dread Invaders from George
Washington University. A month later, we conclude that the hype has
gotten pretty well out of hand, and some of it is pretty silly. We can’t
find any overriding reason to encourage the further expansion of GWU
into the downtown area, nor, on the other hand, to place an absolute
ceiling on GWU’s student or employee population within its current
boundaries. But it surely is not justifiable: a) to constrain on-campus
growth by zoning limits substantially below those applied to its
immediate surrounds; b) to discourage any nonprofit institution from
creating developments on its property that could provide valuable income
to both the city and itself; or c) to permit local neighborhoods to veto
continued urban development around vital DC Metro stations, particularly
based on specious argumentation. At the risk of further inflaming the
debate, take a look at our analysis in the November update of our web
site at http://www.narpac.org/REXGWU.HTM.
We think it’s time for a return to reason: want to estimate the odds?
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
National Building Museum Events, November 19,
Brie Hensold, email@example.com
Saturday, November 19, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Construction Watch Tour.
The new Orientation Center and Education Center/Museum under
construction at George Washington’s Mount Vernon are the largest new
buildings undertaken within the estate. Their underground construction
and careful integration of architectural and landscape design will still
enable visitors to experience the estate much as Washington did. Alan
Reed, principal design architect from GWWO, Inc. /Architects, and Jack
Rogers, Turner Construction Company project executive, will lead a tour
of both buildings. Open only to Museum members, $18. Space is limited.
Prepaid registration required. To register, call the Museum or visit www.nbm.org
beginning October 24.
Monday, November 21, 6:30-8:00 p.m. James Carpenter expands the
technical potential of glass and other materials to place light at the
heart of architectural or sculptural design. The 2004 MacArthur Fellow
and principal of New York-based James Carpenter Design Associates will
discuss his projects, which include New York’s Seven World Trade
Center with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Fulton Street Transit Center
with Grimshaw and Partners, New York, and the Blue Glass Passage for
Seattle’s City Hall. $12 Members; $17 nonmembers; $10 students.
Prepaid registration required. At the National Building Museum, 401 F
Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.
Hugh Kennedy at Chevy Chase Library, November
Debra Truhart, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, November 21, 6:30 p.m., Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library,
5625 Connecticut Avenue, NW. British Historian Hugh Kennedy will discuss
his book, When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of
Islam’s Greatest Dynasty. Kennedy’s talk includes the glory days
of Baghdad in the 8th and 9th centuries, when it was a center of the
arts and sciences. Public contact: 282-0021.
UDC’s Annual Holiday Concert, December 5
Michael Andrews, email@example.com
The University of the District of Columbia will present its Annual
Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m., Monday, December 5, in the University
Auditorium, located on the University’s campus at 4200 Connecticut
Avenue, NW. The concert is the University’s annual holiday gift to the
Washington, DC, community and is free and open to the public. The UDC
Chorale, directed by William Jones, starts the evening with a program of
choral music followed by the gospel sounds of The Voices, directed by
Gerry Gillespie. The UDC Jazz Ensemble, directed by Allyn Johnson,
carries on the legacy of Calvin Jones and closes the program with big
band jazz sure to spread the holiday spirit.
The University Auditorium (Building 46 East -- Van Ness Campus) is
conveniently located on Metro’s Red Line at the Van Ness/UDC station.
Complimentary parking will be available on the night of the concert.
Contact Judith A. Korey at 274-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional
CLASSIFIEDS — FOR SALE
I think this is a worthy cause. Happy Holiday season to everyone.
0“Hi, my name is Allegra Penny, and I am a member of Wilson Crew. We
are the only DC public school that has crew, and therefore, the DCPS
gives our team no funding. We raise all the money ourselves, primarily
through fundraising, done by the rowers. Each rower has a fundraising
goal of $400.
“To help achieve these goals, Wilson Crew is selling wreaths for
the holidays. The wreaths are 24" in diameter, balsam fir, from
Nova Scotia. Each wreath comes with a red bow, and they sell for $20.
Wreaths will be delivered to your home on Saturday, December 3, and
Sunday, December 4. If you are interested in purchasing a wreath to
support us, you can send your order and cash or a check payable to
Wilson Crew Boosters, to 3205 38th Street NW, Washington, DC 20016.
Orders should arrive by November 19th. If you have any questions, please
contact me at 244-2142. Thank you in advance for your support!”
CLASSIFIEDS — FREE
Concrete cinder blocks, square pavers, bricks, used slate shingles
free to a good home. Send an E-mail for information and to arrange
pickup in American University AU Park to email@example.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Lead Water Service Pipe Replacement
Erich Martel, Chevy Chase, ErichMartel at Starpower dot
I recently received a proposal from the DC Water and Sewer Authority.
It has hired a company to replace the lead service up to the property
line. The urgent proposal listed the price it will charge me to complete
the job from my property line to the first plumbing connection inside
Has anyone gotten a competitive price from a plumber?
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