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January 11, 2006

Judy and Marion

Dear Fans:

I’ve been thinking today of Judy Garland. Brilliant, radiant, supremely talented. A wreck of a human being, enslaved by drugs and drunkenness and by her own personal demons. Barely able to take care of herself, unable to maintain lasting relationships, ruining her own and her children’s lives. Insecurity crippled her career yet, up to the end, when she was pushed on stage she was capable of electric performances, at least when her performances were not embarrassing.

Her fans became her apologists and her enablers, turning a blind eye to her fragility and illness, to her deterioration. They never learned, even after she disappointed them time after time, that apologizing for her behavior, ignoring her faults and trying to depend on her, would always break their hearts. They never learned that they were part of her problem, that their need for her, their excusing of her, their toleration of her transgressions and iniquities, was destroying her as surely as she was destroying herself. They never learned to turn away, to demand of her in return for their respect and adoration not just that she sing her songs, but that she clean up and take care of herself and live a decent life.

But that is the problem with apologists. They never realize the damage they do.

Gary Imhoff


Building Schools Without Bonds?
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir,

Last summer, Jack Evans’ problem with the School Modernization Bill was that the revenue it was based on was too unstable to securitize bonds reasonably. Well now he’s come full circle and provided an equally if not more unsecure revenue stream and the problem of having to deal with the bonding companies has been eliminated. The fact of the matters is Evans’ plan to base increases in school modernization financing on "revenue growth" asking the voters to depend on that which he refused to do with Wall Street, unstable financing. The revenue source for the school modernization bill is neither secure nor stable.

Evans cannot be blamed for the removal of the bonds from the legislation though because Kathy Patterson did it. These two councilmembers’ unwillingness to raise bonds for rebuilding schools rings hollow. They know the value of bonds. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have produced municipal bond issues for the Maret and Beavouir Schools, both private schools in Ward 3. Could those schools have depended on the certainty of PTA funds to pay for their modernizations? No. And so the projects were issued bonds.

The reason a municipality issues bonds is because it is sure it wants to tackle a project and is willing to make the financial commitments and sacrifices to complete it. (Take me out to the ball . . . oh, never mind). Evans and Patterson know the political value of a bond in terms of financial commitment. However, when it comes to privates schools of particular interest Evans and Patterson are willing to write b-o-n-d into the legislation. Apparently, when it comes to the public schools, they think your talking about home run hitter Barry Bonds.


Washington Teachers Union Scandal Update
Dorothy Brizill,

After more than three years, the Washington Teachers Union scandal is finally nearing closure. There have been six guilty pleas, including those of former WTU president Barbara Bullock, and a lengthy three-month jury trial in which Gwendolyn Hemphill and James Baxter were each convicted of twenty-three counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, first degree theft, and aiding and assisting the preparation of a false tax return. Since their convictions on August 31, 2005, both Hemphill and Baxter have been at liberty, awaiting sentencing.

Since her trial, Gwen Hemphill has made several out-of-town trips, including to Los Angeles to celebrate her forty-seventh wedding anniversary; to Durham, North Carolina, to inspect colleges; and to Pennsylvania to visit relatives. She has filed a motion to replace her court-appointed attorney and a motion seeking a new trial on numerous grounds. And her attorney, in a presentencing memorandum filed with the US District Court, now claims that she suffered from a mental disease or defect when she committed her criminal acts. James Baxter has gotten married and deeded all his real property to family members. The sentencing memorandum filed by Baxter’s attorney seeks a sentence of “community confinement” as a "reasonable punishment," along with some unspecified amount of financial restitution. In the alternative, his attorney is proposing a term of imprisonment of twenty-one to twenty-seven months. The US Attorney’s office has responded with an alternate recommendation to the judge of twenty years’ imprisonment, restitution in the amount of $4.6 million, and three years of supervised release. Sentencing for Hemphill and Baxter was originally scheduled to take place on December 8, 2005, but had been rescheduled to January 12 for Baxter and January 17 for Hemphill. In recent days, sentencing was postponed again to an undetermined date because of legal issues that the defendants’ attorneys have raised. A status hearing will now take place on Thursday, January 12, to deal with legal issues and set a new sentencing schedule.

In 2002, following public disclosure of the theft and embezzlement of WTU funds, Nathan Saunders, then a union member and now vice-president of the WTU local, filed a lawsuit in which he accused WTU’s board and officers, as well as the American Federation of Teachers, the local’s parent union, of failing to oversee the organization’s finances properly. On November 21, 2005, a legal settlement was reached in the lawsuit, and Judge Emmit Sullivan issued final judgment in the case (http://www.dcpswatch/wtu/051121.htm). The most important provision is that the WTU and the AFT will jointly pursue recovery of the money from the defendants named in Saunders’ lawsuit, and that any and all money that they recover will be given entirely to the WTU treasury. With the government’s legal case having concluded, in recent weeks the Federal Bureau of Investigation has turned over to the WTU all the items, ranging from fur coats to art work, that it had seized from the various guilty parties. The WTU has currently put these items in storage, and will dispose of them in the coming months, returning any cash received to the union treasury.


Case Management as Another “Community of Wellness” Strategy
Richard Layman,

Add one more thought about the National Capital Medical Center debacle. Today’s Post has an article about how New York City is stepping up and managing chronic diabetes care in the article “New York City Starts to Monitor Diabetics” []. The article mentions privacy issues, but that’s not what strikes me about it. It reminds me of the case management practices in the health care industry. There are two ways to look at this, as “demand management” or trying to restrict use and access to health care or as “case management,” where the case manager is focused on helping the client take better care of their health needs. I am thinking of case management, not demand management.

This is a big issue, because care for many chronic diseases doesn’t have to be exorbitantly expensive, but if people don’t do the everyday monitoring (and admit it, wouldn’t you hate to have to check your blood sugar constantly and take insulin shots; I hate shots myself) there can be really negative results, that not only harm the health of the person, but are costly as well.

In this idea of creating a “community of wellness” (see my blog entry “Piling on the hospital issue” at perhaps adding a thread of case management for chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes could be considered?


No Blank Check for the Mayor
Eric Rosenthal,

The National Capital Medical Center is a bad idea from the perspective of improving the city’s health and I have tried to make that case, as have many others. But the National Capital Medical Center also is a bad idea in terms of good government.

The agreement signed last week by the Mayor says very little []. It really is an agreement-to-make-agreements in the future. It states that critical decisions about medical services, budgets, deficit financing, governance and public involvement all would be decided after the Council has enacted it into law. In other words, the public and the Council would have no opportunity for meaningful input.

The Mayor is asking the Council to give him a blank check to spend unknown sums of public money for no demonstrated public benefit. He’s asking for carte blanche in terms of deciding the details. Any councilmember who allows him to have what he wants does not deserve to be in office.


Another Impending Blunder
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

Marc Fisher, in yesterday’s Post, has it right ( A huge full service hospital in southeast DC is a waste of taxpayers money. It’s strike two for the Sultan of no-swat, Mayor Tony Williams, who has signed an agreement with Howard University to build this hospital. This new hospital would be a major duplication of existing facilities and, unlike the new baseball park, has no redeeming features that will improve the neighborhood, and will never produce enough income to pay its own way. In short, it will be a major taxpayer burden from day one. It will also hurt the incomes of the existing full service facilities in, and around, DC.

The Mayor and his misguided supporters, even some on the city council, are aiming in the wrong direction if they want to improve the health care for the poor in SE Washington. Fisher says that what is needed is a primary care facility. This could likely be established at a tenth of the cost of a full service hospital. This new facility, in my opinion, should also provide courses in prevention and good health for residents in the area. Courses for pregnant women and new mothers would likely have a positive impact on the new infant death rate. Courses in nutrition and other health measures could relieve the suffering of those with Diabetes. We should be attacking diseases and problems at the front end, the causes, not the back end. Kaiser Permanente, a local HMO, does a good job in preventive medicine with their primary care doctors and nurse practitioners in teaching prevention.. That could be a good model for a DC primary care facility in southeast. What we don’t need is an onerous legacy on the taxpayers from Tony Williams. I sincerely hope the Council will take a sane approach to improving health care in southeast DC.


Logan Circle Parking Situation
Robert Marvin,

The Logan Circle parking situation is out of hand. Some middle ground must be found. The neighborhood has been up in arms about the danger, inconvenience, and lack of an level enforcement playing-field in the application of parking laws. Meanwhile the parishioners at local churches say, where were you two decades ago when we first started these creative parking practices? Why should we stop now? The ANC chairman asks for tolerance. I agree. How about limiting the hours and the areas the double parking goes on. This link,, shows photos of what was happening this past Sunday.


Arena Stage
Joan Eisenstodt,

Ah, Gary, great idea [themail, January 8] — something positive! “Damn Yankees” is superb, and just what’s needed as the District muddles through this baseball mishegoss. Highly recommended for the costumes, casting, choreography, and of course the music. The children who are there for almost all performances to sing “You’ve Gotta Have Heart” could warm any curmudgeon’s soul.


Basements and Attics: Two Levels of Bliss
Angela Preston,

This is in response to Gary’s call for fun DC news. Last year several interesting shops opened up in Brookland. The new offerings include a coffee shop, a home accessories place, and my favorites: furniture resale store Basements and Attics and an art gallery, Roxanne’s Artiques (yes, “artiques” — it’s not a typo). What’s fun about Basement and Attics is that the merchandise changes constantly. I’ve been several times since they opened a few months ago and it’s never the same store twice. On a recent visit I saw a marble dining room table, a Grecian key patterned drapery panel, a cedar wardrobe, and a glass bowl shaped like a flower. For those folks like me who enjoy vintage furniture perhaps a little too much, Basements and Attics is two levels of bliss.


DC and Its Joys
Yoma Ullman,

I set out to answer your plea [themail, January 8] for a letter praising life in this city. I thought I could do it easily, and I tried. But in the end I couldn’t. The deaths of David Rosenbaum and of so many others extinguished my enthusiasm.


Part Happy, Part Sad
Tom Blagburn,

Happy New Year! You know very well [themail, January 8] that happiness is a matter of personal perspective. There is a lot which is right with our city, but there is also a lot wrong. Trying to find that happy medium that makes all of us reasonably happy is the challenge this community and its leadership faces But there is hope! Within our psyche we know what it takes to make a lot more people in the District happy rather than sad. The issue is what our priorities are going to be. Students going without books to crumbling schools, unheated in the winter and too hot in the summer, can’t be happy about their education; residents who hear gunshots every night and observe drug dealing on their streets can’t be happy about public safety. Until such time as we collectively decide that changing the conditions which breed pain, suffering, and human alienation are our priorities, most of us who are thoughtful will remain somewhat unhappy even with a brand new baseball stadium!


The Baseball Stadium Lease Deal: Can We Get It Done?
A. Scott Bolden,

Many residents have asked for a clarification of my position on the stadium deal. I want baseball and believe baseball would be great for the District of Columbia — at a fiscally responsible cost. Indeed, a commitment to invest $2 billion in the area by developers, which would generate roughly $100 million in tax revenue, is simply too hard to ignore. As a former chair of the DC Chamber of Commerce and business lawyer, I get that part and like it. The broader problem I have, that is shared publicly and even privately by the business community and community activists, is the price tag. Do we really know what the price tag is; is it a credible number; can we trust the Williams administration or even Major League Baseball (MLB) to give us the real deal; and if they do, is the real deal just too expensive for baseball to be here?

Reed Smith LLP worked on a similar stadium deal in Pittsburgh, PA. According to both my partners in Pittsburgh and MLB, the deal worked and worked well. The total cost for the Pittsburgh stadium was about $225 million, including site acquisition and preparation, and soft costs. The construction price was about $180 million. The team contributed about $40 million. The team selected the architect and contractor, designed the ballpark, and negotiated the contracts. The local government had input and approval rights. The contracts were assigned to the public authority that owns the ballpark but the team remained responsible for constructing the project. In exchange for being able to manage the project, the team assumed responsibility for all cost overruns. Hence, there was a connection between the responsibility for designing and building the project and for the ultimate costs. The project came in on budget because the team could not afford overruns and the contractor was bound to a guaranteed maximum price for the base work.

Clearly, the cost of a new stadium in 2005 or 2010 will be more expensive than ten years ago, but to get it done, we should consider the following: review the full use of federal grant programs, and the District of Columbia federal appropriation bill, regarding enhancement of local economic development impacts and other federal policies (e.g., housing, education, transportation) for the completion of the ball park and joining infrastructure needs; require the contractor to be bound to a guaranteed maximum price for the base work and severely restrict the need for change orders; sell the surrounding parcels of land to developers for the full face value and provide them with tax credits for their development efforts; sell the air rights to private companies to generate additional revenues to cover the costs of the stadium; build a far less expensive stadium and upgrade it over time to coincide with the future development of the community around the stadium; and, although less likely, request that MLB contribute more to the project including sharing in the cost overruns in exchange for additional control and/or responsibility for constructing the stadium.

Again, baseball may be good for DC and we are too close to let this opportunity pass, but not at any cost. What is even more important and necessary is real leadership and the political will to get it done. I hope the necessary political leadership exists. If not, the September primary is only months away, but will baseball leave before then?


Debunking the Nonexistent Ballpark Surplus
Ed Delaney,

From the Washington Times, “Gandhi expects the city to collect an average of $58 million to pay off $535 million in 30 years but says only $38 million is needed. That means as much as $20 million could be left over each year — cash that has not been earmarked.” It’s shocking, but the numbers don’t remotely add up. What’s hilarious is that the Brigade via water carrier Lemke are sending the message that the project is just going to be awash with revenue and is thus reverting to the empty promise stage, obviously choosing their favorite tactic of bluffing their way past the council instead of working to make actual needed changes in the ballpark project to make it acceptable and passable. “This is like bonus money,” said Vince Morris, a spokesman for Williams. “Every year we’ll get more and more.” Yes, the ballpark project’s like Santa Claus and the Great Pumpkin all rolled into one! Don’t talk about how much of this money is going straight to Deutsche Bank, as the city is set “to pay back the loan by turning over various revenue streams, such as rent payment from the Nationals, the tax on ballpark concessions and the utility tax on businesses and government buildings” according to AP. Moreover, none of the cost overrun issues is being answered sufficiently, nor is the council’s desire to cap all spending on the project at $535 million and to resolve the cost uncertainties that the current site brings, but don’t think twice, it’s all right! How the Brigade could have to gall to be in grandiose promise mode is unbelievable, and it’s up to the council to disabuse the Brigade of the notion that their play book will work anymore.

“The city estimates it will raise an average of $14 million from the ballpark fee on businesses, $24 million from taxes on concessions and other goods from the stadium, $14 million in a utility tax on businesses and $6 million in rent from the Nationals. Those numbers could fluctuate depending on the financial success of the team and the businesses being taxed, but if both are successful the city will have extra money to use.” That’s a rather sizable “if,” according to none other than DC’s CFO before the Brigade reined him in a few years back. In June of 2003, Gandhi testified concerning the 2003 Ballpark Revenue Bill, calling the ticket sales tax “a bit uncertain” because of the lack of DC’s ability to tax ticket sales via the Internet, and said the annual figure yielded from ticket taxes could run as low as $4.1 million, while the stadium schemers were giving $10 million for its estimates. The CFO also said that “a DC-based team could face a $2 million annual shortfall if the team played poorly and that overall revenue could run as low as $13.1 million a year, nearly $2 million less than administration officials say they need to pay off bonds” (Post, June 13, 2003). Gandhi further testified: “There are other factors, both positive and negative, that influence attendance, such as the attraction of a star player, the state of the economy — it may have reduced overall sales 10 percent or more in 2002 — and possible players strikes.” Other factors that would certainly negatively affect attendance would be building a cut-rate Buick, Ford, or Schwinn greenhouse that loses its appeal quickly, as well as a site with insufficient road infrastructure, parking, and Metro accessibility which even the Brigade have indicated are likely at the current site. This revelation of reality was troubling enough to the DC baseball effort that from then on, the Brigade kept criticism and information flow about the ballpark project’s details at a minimum and stayed on-message with the help of their water carriers in the media, with the CFO’s reports staying on their message as well until the present day.

We already know that the rent figures are not guaranteed and could end up averaging below $6 million annually over the term of the ballpark’s existence. The utility tax, which has jumped up from previous estimates, will be forked over to Deutsche Bank and is this outrageously high due to Wall Street’s requirements, as with the business tax — which would‘ve been cut by $6 million annually “but for” Wall Street‘s insistence due to the Deutsche Bank scheme. The Post has an article today about a search by council members for tax money for school repairs, and it’s obvious that such money could’ve gone from this utility tax to those repairs "but for" the stadium’s being built at the current unworkable site where the Deutsche Bank plan is required. Were the stadium plan shifted to the RFK Stadium site and realistic cost estimates done by independent entities, it would be clear that the Deutsche Bank boondoggle, requiring $28 million annually in utility and business taxes would not be needed, and the city would not only save itself a tremendous amount of revenue but would be able to use those taxes — especially the utility tax — towards other community needs. The council needs to match the Brigade’s aggression and seize the best deal possible by telling MLB they’re tossing the current site ASAP and holding all spending to $535 million, period.

“At a hearing last month, Gandhi said he likely would inform the council of the surplus at the end of each fiscal year, and the council would vote on where the money should go. But city leaders and council members already have ideas. Council chairwoman Linda Cropp has introduced legislation calling for a rebate of the extra money to businesses because they are paying for a large share of the stadium. But other council members have pushed money to be used for other needs, such as school modernization. Some city leaders have suggested the money be added to a community benefit fund based on tax revenues from development around the ballpark. Other city leaders said the money should be used to pay off the bonds early, possibly saving the city millions of dollars in interest. Still others have suggested earmarking some of the money for stadium cost overruns.” Stop dreaming, people! If you remain at a site with such tremendous cost uncertainties as the current site and keep a deal where the city’s on the hook for the overruns no matter how the Brigade tries to shuffle the payments around, there’s going to be no surplus and instead there likely will be a lot of shortfalls. If city officials want revenue for other projects or to give back to businesses, the way to do that is to stop listening to the deceit from the Brigade, improve the deal and switch sites.

“‘It does provide an additional source of money for construction and cost overruns, but I think that’s politically unlikely at this point,’ said William Hall of the DCSEC. ‘It hasn’t been determined yet.’” It’s about time that the council gets the DCSEC out of the decision-making process for such things, given their abysmal track record and their continued opposition to truly improving the deal. “Several council sources said they are eyeing a possible vote on the lease at the body’s next legislative meeting Feb. 7, but nothing has been scheduled.” If the Brigade has time enough to delay like this, there is certainly enough time for the council to commission independent studies of both sites in question and all of the cost implications thereof so as to have the answers they need in place to best resolve the ballpark impasse.


Sierra Club Responds to “Trashing DC’s Environment”
Devin Lavelle, Sierra Club,

Last Wednesday, it was noted in this forum that notices with Sierra Club’s name were inappropriately posted in Dupont Circle. The FFPIR (Fund For Public Interest Research) is the organization that Sierra Club works with in running our door-to-door membership canvass. We currently operate in about twenty-five cities across the country but they are headquartered in DC.

All canvass office directors are instructed to follow established guidelines regarding the recruitment of canvassers. Those guidelines include complying with city regulations regarding the posting of signs in public areas. In this particular case, the zealous office directors were unclear on what they were allowed to do. The posters were removed Sunday night and the office directors have been spoken to about this issue.

We are all in agreement that this type of recruitment outreach is not appropriate, and we apologize for the misunderstanding. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


Sierra Club’s Posters
Jason Broehm,

As chair of the Sierra Club’s Washington, DC, Chapter, I’d like to respond to a recent complaint in themail [January 8] about Sierra Club employee recruitment posters cluttering the urban environment around Dupont Circle (as I’ve already done directly with the individual who brought this to our attention.) We agree that putting up posters on light poles was inappropriate, and we regret that the staff who run the local door-to-door canvass on behalf of the Sierra Club were misinformed and a bit overzealous. I’m told that all of the posters were removed soon after we became aware of this issue. The staff involved have been educated about city posting regulations and the expectations of the Sierra Club that this should not happen again.

We are your neighbors, and we share your desire to live in a clean urban environment. As we fight for cleaner air, water, and parks we also want a clean, clutter-free urban environment. While I hope this will not happen again, if it should I encourage anyone who sees such a poster to contact me directly.


DC’s Litter Law
Elizabeth Barry, Senior Advisor for Environmental Affairs, Executive Office of the Mayor,

Mr. Carney’s objection to advertisements posted on public space [themail, January 8] is one that I share. He is correct that it is illegal to post notices in public space. This includes leaving information anywhere on vehicles. It is also illegal to puncture city trees. Trees are living things and even a small wound can cause the tree to die if it becomes infected. I routinely either call and/or E-mail those who post flyers, postcards, etc., to inform them of the law, and of the maximum penalty. The DPW Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program (SWEEP) issues tickets to violators. To report illegal signs, call the Citywide Call Center at 727-1000. Also, feel free to use self-help -- you can call and/or E-mail the contact listed on the poster to inform them of the law. A template notice, which includes the law, is below. Feel free to use it under your own signature. Since the fine is up to $1000 per item, it can be very effective to notify businesses of the law. As a citizen, you can note that you are reporting the violations to the city and asking for enforcement.

“I am contacting you in connection with your advertising/marketing using postcards, signs and/or flyers to inform you that DC law specifically prohibits such activity, which creates litter. For your information, the DC law is copied below (DCMR 24, sec. 1008.) Distributing flyers, cards or other advertising material of any kind on public space (trees, telephone poles, wastepaper boxes, vehicles etc.) is illegal and subject to a fine of up to $1000 per item. You risk a considerable total fine. In addition to no longer distributing promotional materials on public space, you may wish to remove all items already placed on public space. Please consider this a friendly warning to ensure you are aware of the law. You are on now on notice; your information and an example of the materials distributed may be kept on file with the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Police Department. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Reginald May at or at 727-1000 (ask for Reginald May in DPW.)

“TITLE 24. PUBLIC SPACE AND SAFETY. CHAPTER 10. DEPOSITS ON PUBLIC SPACE. 24-1008. PAPER, HANDBILLS, CIRCULARS, AND ADVERTISING MATERIAL. 1008.1 No paper, handbills, dodgers, cards, circulars, or advertising matter of any kind, or samples of merchandise, shall be thrown, pushed, cast, deposited, dropped, scattered, distributed, or left in or upon any street, avenue, alley, highway, footway, sidewalk, parking, or other public space in the District of Columbia, or in or upon or from any vehicle.

“1008.2 No paper, handbills, dodgers, cards, circulars, or advertising matter of any kind, or samples of merchandise, shall be thrown, pushed, cast, deposited, dropped, scattered, distributed, or left in or upon the parking or doorsteps of any premises in the District of Columbia, or within the building line, vestibule, or yard of any premises, if it is likely to be taken up by the wind and scattered in the streets, or in or upon any of the places listed in §1008.1.

“1008.3 This section is not intended to prevent the delivery of newspapers and addressed envelopes within the building line of any premises within the District, or the distribution of anything other than commercial and business advertising matter.”


Image Problems
Chuck Thies, chuckthies [at] aol [dot] com

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men will have to work real hard and real smart to put DC’s image back together again. Eight days of public relations we could live without: January 3rd, Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy trashes District government in the Washington Post. His piece appears nationally. January 4th, Marion Barry robbed at gunpoint. Story circulates nationally, including the front page of Drudge Report (10 million daily page-views). Barry says he wouldn’t want the thugs prosecuted ( January 8th, the nation learns that a veteran New York Times reporter is murdered in "safe" DC neighborhood. No suspects, botched investigation, slow 911 response. January 11th, front page Washington Post story, Marion Barry tested positive for cocaine. The story hits the wires, the Drudge Report and is circulated nationwide. Most reports include references to Barry’s tax problems and recent robbery (

Question #1: does the mayor have a public relations plan for restoring the District’s image? Question #2: do any of the mayoral candidates have a public relations plan for restoring the District’s image?


The Pied Piper of Hamlin
Jonathan Rees,

The biggest complaint I hear from voters in Ward 3, where I am vying to succeed Kathy Patterson, is that all candidates look alike in that all hold the same position on all the issues, all say the same thing but never say how, and candidates for the various position are showing little or no individuality to set themselves apart from the next candidate but each jumps on the bandwagon of whoever says it first. Also, voters feel that unless we start seeing candidates who are willing to break from the pack that nothing good will come and the same old same old will continue.

I have felt for a long time that until DC goes back to the basics; namely, insuring all its residents of a good education, affordable housing, food on the table, healthcare, and safe streets, and achieve this without making DC the most expensive city in American, most of our hidden problems will not go away. Those who follow me believe that the reason our population is declining, businesses are moving away, and each of us is holding a heavy burden to keep our city afloat is because we have reached a point of taxing our businesses and people to death, we are engaging too much in social engineering, we are passing legislation to do this or that but never knowing where the money is coming from. While we are a progressive ward, we also realize that we can’t keep on driving up the price tag of living in DC, as that will cause more to leave and increase the burden on those who remain.

Building a new baseball stadium, building another hospital, and many other matters before us is not going back to the basics but may lead us into new problems that will increase the burden of all tax payers, drain us from more needed things and this is because we just don’t know when to say enough is enough. Let baseball build its own stadium. Let Howard University Hospital get out of the red and stop laying people off before it embarks on a new project. Let the DC Public Schools explain where out tax dollars over the years went to upkeep our school but never did before we throw more money at the problem. Let DC government realize that its workforce of 34,000, when we have a population of 540,000, is the same as in 1976, when we were over 800,000, and that that is a major part of the problem of why the cost of living in DC is out of control, and let’s finally have the guts to cut it down to a reasonable level. Let’s start getting real about addressing all problems and each of us show a gusty individuality.


Barry the Human Hero
Malcolm Wiseman, Washington Free DC,

Gary, that’s Barry the “Human Race Hero” to you, sir. Leo Alexander and Lea Adams [themail, January 8] express the story well and, as they said, some folks will choose never to understand it and will seemingly forever dwell on the foibles of this man’s character rather than his many achievements. That’s why some of us who do see our warrior’s battered breast beneath his tar and feathers will be supporting him on February 8 at 10:00 a.m., in a rally at the US Court House in his sentencing for nonpayment of taxes. We understand how and why a person living here in Washington in the deep shadow and crack of America’s democracy could back-burner and neglect to pay taxes to a government which does the same to us and our rights. Barry started and shouted “Free DC!” in the early ‘60’s and our organization,, continues to do so today. Free Barry! Free DC!


The Newcomers Will Never Understand
Claudette Perry,

The newcomers will never understand the perspective from which those who love our “Mayor for Life” are coming. They weren’t here. They didn’t know the man. And, since they never had to fight for basic human rights, I suppose they can’t even fathom the battering he’s suffered nor the immense dedication required to move even one step forward. I was a young activist here — way back when Barry was running for mayor the first time; when he got shot over in city hall trying to protect a young WHUR disc jockey who was killed in the shooting; when city hall was taken over. I also saw this city before he brought in big business and made sure everyone had something. DC was a dump! Well, instead of criticizing us, they should take note. Mr. Barry is a consummate — perhaps even congenital — public servant and politician. Someone recently said, “people generally love you when you love them back.” And that is why people in DC of all income levels, ages, colors, and genders love Marion Barry. Everyone deserves a second chance, and his past indiscretions should not negate or absolve his contributions to DC, its people, his race, nor the human race.


Human Race Heroes and Home Cooking
Lea Adams,

I hope no one interpreted my message as characterizing former Mayor and current Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry as a “race hero.” America’s uniquely divisive use of the race concept is anathema to me, and I hope I live to see “white,” and all the labels it created to sustain itself, eliminated from our census, so everyone can figure out who they really are and get on with the business of being human.

Perhaps the most misinterpreted aspect of Barry’s leadership is that, while he proudly serves a primary constituency that is largely African-American and poor, he was equally dutiful during his tenure as Mayor to a city that was and continues to be also Hispanic, rich, gay, white, Asian, elderly, young, small business, university, Congressional, association, women, homeless people, etc., an incredibly diverse urban population. One reason Barry’s fall from grace made so many people so angry was that they took his assets and his defects so personally. There are those who will never forgive his breach of trust. Others believe the words, “a saint is just a sinner who fell down . . . and got up.” Are they divided along racial lines? Only if you want them to be.

I still find my greatest DC joy in diversity, and I pray it is never completely wiped out by the Greenbacks and the Rat Race. As for my favorite new restaurant, it’s Busboys & Poets, hands down. There’s still a chance that the world can be changed over a decent meal and good conversation! (Although I still miss Omega, the Astor, and the Calvert Cafe when Mama Ayesha was still alive and cooking. Maybe that’s what happened to the dinosaurs. All their favorite restaurants closed!)


Marion Barry’s Good Work
Alverda Ann Muhammad,

Thank you, Lea Adams [themail, January 8]! It was rewarding to learn that there is someone left in DC with a balanced memory and gratitude for some of the good work for which Marion Barry was responsible. Under Mr. Barry, every child within a certain age range was encouraged to register for a summer job and was, indeed, guaranteed one. I don’t know what other jurisdictions offers(ed) such a program, but it was a great training opportunity and financial help to many families in the District. Mr. Barry instituted the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute that trained young people in community responsibility and the workings of the government. The youth in the Institute conducted campaigns and ran for the offices of youth mayor and city council members and the winners shadowed the real office holders to witness firsthand the functioning of these positions. There were a lot of youth who found their inner strength and ability to speak and advocate in that process. There were active rat and mosquito abatement programs in place. Mr. Barry used the mayor’s physical office as a gallery for artists in the community to display their work and hosted The Mayor’s Mini Art Committee, assigned the responsibility for regularly changing the display. A reception was held for the artists at each opening. In addition to Mr. Barry’s support of the youth and artists, his support of the elderly is legendary. Yes, it is too bad he had a personal frailty and embarrassed himself and the city and disappointed many, but he was never guilty of misappropriating one dime of the public’s funds and it is reported that $40 million was spent to bring him down.


Marion Barry
Nora Bawa,

While we are remembering the contributions of Marion Barry to our fair city, let us not forget how his habits of nepotism, graft and cronyism destroyed a number of city agencies. His malfeasance had its worst impact on the public school system, which still hasn’t been able to get rid of the “old boy/girl network” that stymies, with laziness, opportunism, and mediocrity, any efforts of dedicated educators to improve our public schools. The public seems to think it’s a mystery why we can’t get our schools to work. Ask any teacher or administrator inside the school system about this. They will tell you about the “same old, same old.” How do you think it got that way?



Pride: Party or Protest?, January 13
Keith Clark,

Pride: Party or Protest?, a retrospective of the history of gay pride in DC, presented by the One In Ten Museum Project and the Rainbow History Project, will be shown from January 13 to June 11 at the Charles Sumner School Museum, 17th and M Streets, NW. Please address all inquiries to Keith Clark at Keithclark@aol or by phone at 954-568-1154.


National Building Museum Events, January 15, 17, 19
Lauren Searl,

All events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at

Sunday, January 15, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Flying in the Great Hall, a program for kids. Learn about model airplanes as members of the DC Maxecuters fly their planes in the Museum’s Great Hall. Watch free flight model airplanes powered by rubber bands soar in a series of launches throughout the day. Free. All ages. Drop-in program. From 12:30-3:30 p.m., inspired by the DC Maxecuter’s planes soaring in the Great Hall, families can be a part of the high-flying action by creating fun paper forms that twist and turn when moving through the air. Twirly-whirlys can be built for $3 per project.

Tuesday, January 17, 6:30-8:00 p.m. A symposium on greening roofs. In the US, green roofs are a rapidly emerging technology of sustainable architecture and best management practices. Benefits of green, or vegetated, roofs include reducing storm water runoff and urban heat islands, while lowering a building’s energy requirements. Michael Perry with Building Logics and Dawn Gifford with DC Greenworks will discuss the applicability and benefits of this technology, the elements of green roof systems, and examine the growing trend in the United States towards green roofs. $12 Museum members and students; $17 nonmembers. Registration required.

Thursday, January 19, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Scully Prize Presentation: Phyllis Lambert: Ironies in the Public Life of Architecture: The Seagram Building, 1954-58. Over the past fifty years, Phyllis Lambert, architect, author, educator, activist, and philanthropist, has made outstanding contributions to the design of the built environment, advancement of public awareness of design, and architectural preservation. Early in her career, she served as the director of planning for the Seagram Building, the Mies van der Rohe masterpiece. On the occasion of receiving the Museum’s Vincent J. Scully Prize, Ms. Lambert will give a lecture about the public reception and long-term impact of the Seagram Building on architectural culture. $12 Members and students; $17 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required.


Summer Youth Employment Program Registration, January 17
Donna Henry,

The Department of Employment Services’ 2006 Passport-to-Work Summer Youth Employment Program registration will kick off on Tuesday, January 17, and will continue until Friday, April 21. Registration can be done Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and the application packet will be available at the Department of Employment Services Office of Youth Programs, 625 H Street, NE. For more information, call 698-3991 or 698-3492.


Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the DC Public Library System, January 17-February 27
Deborah Truhart,

The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of the DC Public Library System will hold a series of ten "Listening Sessions" at District public libraries in every Ward and at the central library. The Task Force is seeking citizen views on their recommendations of what it will take to transform the library system into one that is state-of-the-art and delivers services that reflect the needs of the community in facilities that are safe, inviting and hi-tech. Once the sessions are concluded, the Task Force will incorporate the responses of residents into their final Task Force report to Mayor Anthony A. Williams. The Task Force, which was established by Mayor Williams in Fall 2004, was charged with recommending a course of action to the Mayor that implements his vision for transforming the DC Public Library into a 21st century state-of-the-art system. The Task Force developed recommendations to create a renaissance in the public library system of the District of Columbia. Task Force members felt it was vital that residents have an opportunity to respond to the Task Forcerecommendations and express their expectations of the public library.

During the Listening Sessions citizens will discuss the Task Force recommendations and share their ideas on transforming the District’s public librariesinto a system serves their needs. The sessions will last 90 minutes and will include a review of the Task Force recommendations, a DVD presentation on libraries and a group discussion.

Following is a complete schedule of Listening Sessions to be held at neighborhood libraries around the city. Tuesday, January 17, 5:30 p.m., Washington Highlands (Ward 8), 115 Atlantic Street, SW, 645-5880; Wednesday, January 25, 6:30 p.m., Woodridge (Ward 5), 1801 Hamlin Street, NE, 541-6226; Saturday, January 28, 1:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, 727-0321; Tuesday, January 31, 6:30 p.m., Cleveland Park (Ward 3), 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 282-3080; Tuesday, February 7, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, 727-0321; Saturday, February 11, 12:30 p.m., Petworth (Ward 4), 4200 Kansas Avenue, NW, 541-6300; Wednesday, February 15, 6:30 p.m., Georgetown (Ward 2), 3260 R Street, NW, 282-0220; Tuesday, February 21, 6:30 p.m., Mt. Pleasant (Ward 1), 3160 16th Street, NW, 671-0200; Saturday, February 25, 12:30 p.m., Northeast (Ward 6), 330 7th Street, NE, 698-3320; Monday, February 27, 6:30 p.m., Francis A. Gregory (Ward 7), 3660 Alabama Avenue, SE, 645-4297.


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