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January 18, 2006


Dear Customers:

Successful companies believe, or at least pretend to believe, that the customer is always right. That means that they try to serve their customers and provide what they want. Unsuccessful companies, like the one Dilbert works for, demand that customers be satisfied with whatever they provide, rather than adapting to their customers, they try to force their customers to adapt to them. In other words, they behave like governments. Which brings me to Comcast.

All of my E-mail goes to the DCWatch web site, and all of the E-mail is forwarded from the web site to my Comcast E-mail address. That means DCWatch sends two or three thousand E-mails a day, almost all of which are spam, to my Comcast address. This worked smoothly for several years, but on Christmas Day Comcast started blocking the E-mail from DCWatch.. I went through the standard procedure for getting DCWatch onto the whitelist, so I could get my E-mails. Getting on the whitelist took a couple days. That worked for a couple more days, then Comcast started blocking DCWatch again. And again, and again. Since Christmas, Comcast has put the DCWatch server on its spam blacklist five times. Today, finally, since dealing with the problem through E-mails wasn’t working, I decided to go through the Comcast telephone “service” process. After an hour on the phone, and going through three levels of technical service operators, I finally spoke with someone who knew what the problem was and who could solve it. Except that he couldn’t solve it, because Comcast had a rule against solving it. He could put DCWatch on a permanent whitelist so that I could receive my forwarded E-mail reliably, but he wouldn’t do that because it was against the company’s policy. Essentially, Comcast doesn’t want to have to deal with that much spam E-mail, so it is deliberately making it difficult to forward a large amount of unfiltered E-mail to its addresses -- something that many of its customers will want to do.

The technician did suggest a workaround. Here’s how to make mail forwarding work and get around Comcast blocking: set up a account with Google. Forward the E-mail from the web site to the gmail account, and then forward the mail from the gmail account to Comcast. Google will carry the burden of filtering out most of the spam, so that Comcast won’t have to. I’m not sure what that says about Comcast’s business ethics — no, that’s not right. I am pretty sure what it says about Comcast’s business ethics. It’s the ethics of those who want others to bear the costs of their business, so their expenses will be less. Isn’t that how business is done in DC? Get the public to bear the cost of building a stadium for you, or a hospital for you, or get the taxpayers to subsidize your development project. Why pay your business expenses yourself, when you can get somebody else to bear them?

Gary Imhoff


Attorney General Opposes Amending Zoning Code to Compel Better Permit Info
Rachel Thompson, rachelwtoo at

ANC 3D in June voted unanimously to endorse an amendment to the city’s zoning code that would have required the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to make more information on building permit requests available to ANCs, and on a more timely basis. That amendment failed to be set down for consideration by the Zoning Commission at the Commission’s January 9 meeting. We currently receive a limited amount of information on permits requested and granted, generally receiving all information from one month about two weeks into the following month. This delay in obtaining permit information — that ought to be made available electronically, and on a timely basis, to any resident seeking it — in turn limits our ability to spot potential problems and to assist neighbors who ask for help to determine if construction is properly permitted and/or in conformance with approved building plans.

The proposed new language was developed by the ANC’s zoning committee, which for several years has been seeking better reporting from DCRA, and endorsed by the Foggy Bottom ANC by resolution. Its purpose was to address a well-known problem which is that there are time limits on appeal of any permit, and you can’t appeal something you didn’t know about. In two very substantive appeals of permits for Wesley Heights construction (one in the Wesley Heights Overlay District, and one abutting it), one was preceded by extensive testimony on timeliness and the other was tossed out on those grounds. While each case is very different, a common theme in all cases is access to information — obtaining proper notice, filing a citizen complaint or appeal in a timely fashion, and obtaining access to documents such as building plans from DCRA with which to back up one’s objections. This is a very complicated process for an ordinary person to undertake, even without roadblocks.

In one of the cases above, the owner of an abutting property sought documents from DCRA to prepare his case but was told they had been “pulled.” In our experience this happens with some frequency. It wasn’t until he came before the Board of Zoning Adjustment that he learned DCRA’s attorneys had them in their office; they were “pulled” because DCRA was using them to build the case for dismissal. This is grossly unfair. This amendment addressed only one dimension of the problem, access to permit information. Though I was unable to attend the Zoning Commission hearing on the proposed amendment and will thus need to review the transcript later on, my understanding is that the Attorney General’s office opposed the Commission’s even taking this proposal up on its merits, arguing that the Commission does not have the authority to impose such an operational requirement on DCRA. Yet the language the ANC was seeking to modify is already incorporated in the city’s zoning code, which suggests that a different view prevailed at an earlier time. Better, faster access to routine building permit applications is a necessity for ANCs, neighborhood groups and citizens to obtain due process on zoning issues. DCRA is in the midst of a major effort to upgrade and integrate its computerized record-keeping systems and to establish links with other agencies involved in permit reviews. Public access to original permit application images should be made a requirement in this work. That this information could be viewed by anyone at any time might also result in more complete and accurate applications.


Have I Got A Deal For You — NCMC!
Frank Zampatori,

Mayor Williams and his City Administrator, Robert Bobb, will shortly introduce draft legislation to the city council to exempt the $400-$500 million dollar National Capital Medical Center (NCMC) funded by DC and Howard University from the required Certificate of Need (CON) process which, according to the American Health Planning Association, is required wholly or in part by thirty-six states and DC. According to the mayor and city administrator, the independent CON process will require a public review and hearings to determine the need for NCMC, the financial viability of NCMC and Howard to cover construction and operating costs, accessibility of NCMC, the quality and continuity of care, and acceptability of the proposed NCMC. The request for the exception for NCMC from CON by the mayor is based on his belief that NCMC is not a typical CON project, could be delayed by a lengthy review process, would add an additional $300,000 to the $400-$500 million dollar project, and a formal city council review would serve as a public review. All of this sounds reasonable until I remember several proposed projects from the Office of the Mayor (some large and some small) for my Southeast neighborhood that either collapsed or needed drastic revisions once subjected to public scrutiny.

Remember the plan in 1999 by the Mayor to move the University of the District of Columbia to a site near the Anacostia Metro stop and sell off the current UDC campus on Connecticut Avenue, NW? That plan died when the Mayor was forced to concede that UDC was built on Federal land, was not owned by DC, and could not be sold off. Then there was the March 2001 proposal to set up a new car impoundment lot in an empty RFK parking lot on the Anacostia River. That plan died after it became public at a council oversight hearing and it was determined that the land was owned by the National Park Service and was leased to RFK. That same lot is now proposed to provide one thousand surface parking spaces for NCMC. Then there was the proposal in late 2001 to lease several acres on Reservation 13 to the St. Coletta School, until the school determined that DC did not own the land and that any use of the land would first require approval from GSA. Approval was finally obtained from GSA in October 2002. Then there is the baseball stadium which according to both the Washington Post and Washington Times, was initially proposed as costing $279 million, then $435 million in September 2004, and by December 2005 was costing $535 million, or $589 million, or $667 million, or $712 million depending on who you listen to. I won’t even address the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the city.

All of these examples may not matter in the great scheme of things, but NCMC does matter in the real issues of life and death. We are about to set out on a project which will commit us as a city for decades to come, both in terms of health care delivery and financial resources. When first proposed in October/November 2003, Howard proposed a 110-120 bed hospital funded 100 percent by Howard at a cost between $150-$175 million. By mid-January 2004, the project morphed into a $400 million dollar 250 bed facility with DC and Howard sharing the costs. On July 12, 2005, the NCMC proposal was finally presented to the city council. On October 27, 2005, the proposal was revised and NCMC was downsized from 775,000 sq. ft. to 600,000 sq. ft., its 1500 car underground parking lot eliminated, and the building reconfigured. But construction costs for NCMC did not decline, but rose to $424 million, with an additional cost assigned to the District of $32 million in infrastructure and site preparation costs plus $28.7 million for NCMC-related street improvements. The total cost to the District increased from zero in October 2003 to a minimum of $272.7 million today. (The total cost of the NCMC hospital is currently projected to be $484.7 million).

Since first proposed, the need for NCMC has been questioned by the medical community including the DC Hospital Association, DC Primary Care Association, and the Medical Society of DC. The printed media issued editorials in opposition to NCMC, including six editorials in the Washington Post, and editorials in the Voice of the Hill and the Washington Examiner. themail has printed many items from individuals opposed to NCMC, as well as several items from supporters. But there remains major opposition to NCMC primarily because many believe that the proposal does not address the serious health care needs of District residents as they relate to asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and HIV. Such diseases are best treated through primary care physicians in an outpatient environment where quality medical care is provided and is readily accessible. Rather than spending $400 million plus on a building, the city and its residents would be better served if DC’s share of the cost were spent on constructing several comprehensive medical centers, a fully funded Level 1 Trauma Center at Greater Southeast, and fully funding the Medical Homes Initiative.

An open, independent, and public review of the NCMC project through a Certificate of Need process is what is needed to address the questions raised by this latest project from the Office of the Mayor. The residents of this city do not need to have their elected officials circumvent the CON in the name of political expediency. Enough issues, questions, and concerns have been raised about the NCMC project to warrant an full review by an independent third party.


PNC Bank Complaint
Pete Ross,

On Sunday, January 15, the fraud department from PNC Bank called to alert me that there were two fraudulent charges to my VISA debit charge card, one for $869.00 and a second charge for $416.00. The fraudulent charges were made at on January 15, which was a Sunday, so the merchandise could not have even been shipped. In spite of the fact that PNC knew that the charges were fraudulent that day, the funds were taken from my account on January 17, two days later.

The fraud department informed me that it would take ten to fourteen days to have the funds given back to me. I was informed that the funds could be returned to my account only after I completed an affidavit confirming that I did not make the charges. I went to the Georgetown branch of PNC Bank, hoping that the it could print out an affidavit for me to sign to expedite the process, since I was going to be out of town. The bank vice president there informed me that the blank form could only be mailed to me. The branch could not provide it to me, the form could not be E-mailed to me, and it could not be faxed to me. I explained to Mr. Smith that I was going out of town on January 19. The vice president explained that the funds could not be replaced until the fraud department had a completed signed form from me, which I felt was understandable. But I was very surprised that, and he could not explain why a blank form could not be E-mailed or faxed to me.

Bank of America advertises that if a similar situation would occur with an account, the funds would be reinstated the following day. I think the newsworthy item is that PNC Bank delays the reinstatement of funds fraudulently taken from an account by its policy of refusing to fax or E-mail a blank form, even to one of their branch offices. I feel that this little known fact about PNC Bank’s slow response in reinstating the fraudulent removal of funds should be factored into a decision as to where to bank.


Asthma and Bill Collector Attacks
Shuta Myoli,

About two years ago I had an asthma attack not too far from George Washington University. I had misplaced my inhaler. I went into the emergency room of GWU Hospital, was seen by a doctor, and got the standard treatment -- a nebuliezer treatment and oxygen. I was released an hour or two later. I remember telling the people at registration that I was a member of the DC HealthCare Alliance, although at the time I did not have my card. A month later they sent me a bill for $900 and some cents. I called them and explained I was not working on account of my condition, and therefore I was not able to pay that much. They sent the bill to bill collectors, who are still haunting me up to today.

GWU President Stephen Trachtenberg says about hospital charges, “if they can’t pay, we eat it.” I would not take him at his word. That is not the whole truth. How many people like me does GWU set bill collectors after, and ruin their credit ratings?


The DC Council Is Out of Step with America
Jonathan R. Rees,

Our current DC city council is out of step with America. Most of America has finally shifted its political ideology to the center after years of going back and forth between the left and right, but the DC city council continues to follow failed, leftist policies, which is the proximate cause of why our government fell apart economically, why our taxes are almost the highest in the nation, why people are leaving and businesses are also leaving or don’t incorporate here.

Our current DC City Council has not learned from past mistakes. Between a baseball stadium, a new hospital (NCMC), school renovations, and a few other nifty but not well thought out matters, I am wondering who the Feds are lining up to sit on out next Federal Control Board to oversee our second bailout?

Our current DC city council doesn’t care what happens when the XXXX hits the fan because they will already be far gone from DC at their dream homes they have built up in New England, the Caribbean, and down south. The fact they already are planning to get out of town before sundown should alarm us that they know what is coming and they are smart enough not to want to be here when all Hell breaks loose. Russia is finally going to bury its greatest social engineer, Joseph Stalin, and DC needs to bury this current city council and the people need to replace them with council members who are planning to eat what they are dishing out and not going elsewhere when it is time to eat crow.


The Examiner Online
Eduardo Romero,

[In the last issue of themail, I wrote that an article in The Washington Examiner was not available online. This message explains how to read an article in the paper online, even though it hasn’t been posted in html format. — Gary Imhoff] Quick note on links to stories in The Examiner: though it’s a bit unwieldy, their entire newspaper is uploaded page-by-page in PDF in this format: In this example, “2006” is the year, “01” is the month, “16” is the day of the month, “2” can remain unchanged (I think it was originally going to be or is the differentiation for VA/MD/DC editions, i.e. “2,” “3,” or “4”); and the last “16” is the page number in the print edition.


WMATA and Rail Cars
Greg DuRoss,

We can only hope that the fresh perspective that Dan Tangherlini has brought to DDOT will carry over into WMATA. I know when I recently sent suggestions about the rail car changes, the reply I received basically gave me the kiss off. I’ve made three suggestions for cost effective service improvements, but getting anyone to listen is easier said than done. 1) Rush hour cars. My suggestion was that since Metro uses a lot more cars during rush hour, that they dedicate one or two cars per train as “rush hour” cars (perhaps in conjunction with the phase-in of eight-car trains), and remove all the seats except maybe to meet minimal handicap seating requirements. These cars could be marked on the outside with "rush hour" designation, placed in the same spot on every train, and run only on shorter length runs (like Silver Spring to Grovesnor). This would address most of the objections while greatly increasing capacity.

2) Connect Farragut North and Farragut West via tunnel. This of course is not my original idea, but if we believe our leaders they suggest it is not “if” but “when” Metro is attacked by terrorists. By linking these two stations with a one-block tunnel under Farragut Square, they eliminate congestion at Metro, significantly reduce transfer time for many folks needing to switch lines, and, most importantly, build redundancy and transfer options into the Metro system in the event of partial system shut down.

3) Extend the yellow line. The yellow line should be extended in stages as follows: first, up to Columbia Heights; second, build over to Woodley Park and the Red line; third, yellow and red trains can share the line up to Bethesda vicinity; fourth, build the initial phase of the purple “loop” line connecting Bethesda and Silver Spring. Obviously this is a ten- to twenty-year plan, but I have never even heard it considered. For relatively minimal cost compared to other capital expenses being considered, there are many benefits, including linking the revitalized Columbia Heights and U Street corridors with Adams Morgan (eliminating the cost and need for the current bus shuttle); adding a stop in the heart of Adams Morgan where service is badly needed; doubling service on a portion of the crowed red line; linking two growing commercial centers in Montgomery County, providing a link that might just get people out of their cars and off the beltway; and providing options during a partial shutdown, whether for the ever increasing maintenance work required or in the event of a terror attack or other emergency.


The Marion Barry Follies
Cecilio Morales, cecilio.morales (at)

I first moved to Washington in 1958, when the city, like the nation, was segregated. I have moved away and returned several times, the last one now twenty-five years ago. In that time, the mayor who has most honorably presented a role model is, to my mind, Anthony Williams. My only relationship to Williams is having voted for him with a reasonable amount of satisfaction. I do not work for DC, nor for any political party nor advocacy group nor any business seeking contracts with DC. The man is not perfect, nor is his administration, but he seems to have kept government at a minimum level of graft — this is endemic of most municipal government, notably in DC — and a maximum level of efficiency. If anyone is looking for someone a black child should emulate, let them point to Williams, whom I do not know personally but who appears to be devoid of serious character flaws and to have given city government a good college try.

As to Marion Barry, he may well have been an energetic civil rights advocate in the 1960s, but nothing he allegedly contributed to the city wasn’t already a given in the city of Washington when he popped up in the municipal political landscape. We have a generous social welfare safety net? So what, we are all overwhelmingly liberal Democrats: McGovern, Gore, Kerry all won here by overwhelming majorities not matched even in Massachusetts. We are open to racial diversity? Let’s recall this is an 80 percent nonwhite city with a remarkable international variety. Precisely what municipal policy required the three-time election of a second-string civil rights advocate with a penchant for wine, women, and cocaine? Not to mention the dysfunction we all suffered through. That Barry was corrupted by those who surround officeholders like leeches is his personal tragedy, no doubt, but it is nothing of which to be proud.

But there is no accomplishment of DC government — few as they are — that can be attributed to the exclusive presence of Barry that someone else less malleable, somewhat more moral, somewhat less willing to hide his egregious moral flaws behind the color of his skin, couldn’t have accomplished just as easily and at a lower social cost to the city. In my experience, those who praise Barry are his former toadies, the people who warm or have warmed seats in municipal government, providing us our municipal taxes at rest.


Marion Barry
Delores Anderson,

I am not a big fan of Marion Barry. I think his time has come and gone. I live in Ward 7 and do not have to vote for or against him. However, Barry is not all bad nor all good. He is a flawed human being like us all. As a political scientist, I have followed his political career for years, even prior to relocating to the District in 2001. I am aware of his contributions and mess ups. Stepping back, I am able to put his achievements in proper perspective. Does that make me an apologist? I do not think so. What it does is underscore my training and experience as a scholar.

To refer to Barry as a race hero is simply ignorant. My prayers go out to Barry and his family. Addiction is tough. Over the years I have watched friends battle addictions. I made a constant effort not to be an enabler but I did not stomp on them in their lowest moments. There are a lot of people disappointed in Barry, least of all maybe himself.

Whatever he decides to do is his decision. I hope he keeps the residents in Ward 8 in mind as he thinks about his situation. There is one thing we do know: there are very few people outside of Ward 8 who care enough about the residents of Ward 8 to even consider their best interests, including people who regularly read DCWatch.


Marion Barry, Brothers, and Love
Harold Goldstein,

Some have eloquently expressed that Marion Barry is their brother and they love him unconditionally. That, and his past contributions to the city and to civil rights, is not a free pass to a barb-free life. He is a very public figure and he chose to return to stay in the public eye by both running for office and by doing stupid things.

If you love him unconditionally then give him help, because as long as he does stupid things then he will be ridiculed, rightly or wrongly. Both sides are right here. He did some great things as Mayor and before; he did some bad things as Mayor and after. He is neither a deity or a monster. He deserves accolades for the good he has done for sure, and whether he deserves them or not he will get ridicule for he bad things he has done and continues to do.


Barry and Schools
Nora Bawa,

As Ms. Dickerson has decided to share her message to me with themail [January 15], I will also share my answer to her. I would like you to know, that while I’m not a DC native, I have lived in DC since 1971, very much during the Barry tenure, and that I was until recently a teacher in an inner city high school. So I am not judging as an outsider but as someone very much affected by the particular way Barry provided jobs. (Also, please be aware that I am not judging Mr. Barry’s personal life, his afflictions, or sorrows.)

You talk about a jobs program. The summer youth employment program was a jobs program, quite a good one. Selecting educators for a challenging student population should not be a jobs program! Many of the young people who dropped out and/or became part of the crime statistics over the years could have been reached by more able and more dedicated teachers and administrators. As it is, many enthusiastic, well-trained, and dedicated teachers leave the system every year because they can no longer struggle against a broken system.

I don’t know how many jobs were provided for working-class African-Americans. Rather, an entrenched middle class was developed and supported by the Barry crowd, many of whom show little concern for those they’ve left behind in the ghetto, and who indeed, often live in the suburbs. Perhaps this is why these ill-prepared and unmotivated educators often give up on educating our children, and simply pick up their paychecks.


Schools and Services
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir,

Gary’s analysis of the employment situation at DCPS needs some reinforcement. The first question is why does DCPS need so many employees. However, he illogically concludes that these must all be related to instruction. That is not an absurd assumption based on the fact that the "S" in DCPS stands for schools. However, reality tells us that adults have placed so many demands on public schools outside of instruction that, though many DCPS employees are teachers, many others are not.

There are people to take care of the buildings, drive a fleet of buses, provide health care in buildings, prepare the reports and justifications for the expenditure of federal and local revenues, counsel students and families, translate for non-English speaking families, provide services for the children who are homeless and must transfer between schools, food preparers for the school breakfasts and lunches, and more. I am leaving a lot out without even addressing the number of teachers in a classroom. Why do schools get involved with nursing or feeding children among other things?

Our society has come to believe that we can’t figure out how to solve the problems in society (e.g., universal health care or access to food and housing), so we dump them on the schools. Every time someone comes up with a great idea like the schools should be doing “this,” it may be because the adults don’t know how to deal with it. That’s one of the reasons teachers have to train for important instructional needs like character development, because society has abandoned its responsibilities.


Tuohey Makes More Promises
Ed Delaney,

Http://  “‘It’s going to get done,’ Tuohey said recently. ‘People said we were not going to get the team, but I said we would, and we got it. And people said we wouldn’t get the lease finished, but this will get done, too.’ ‘Things might not have occurred as quickly as projected,’ Hall said. ‘But in terms of Mark’s overall enthusiasm in getting it done, the fact is that it’s gotten done, and it’s getting done.’” Gotta love the baseball Brigade’s continued "don‘t bother us with the facts, leave the driving to us" attitude even after all of their deceit has been laid bare. The evidence Tuohey offers as to why everything will just get done is hardly encouraging, since DC only got the team by giving away the store on a deal whose horrific details the Brigade hid and deceived the council about as long as possible to get it done but has finally come to light. Unfortunately for the Brigade, their promises and bluster along the lines of “it‘ll get done” do not fly in the least given the trail of broken promises that have brought us to huge stadium overruns and uncertainties at a site that is completely bereft of adequate funding for infrastructure, road and Metro improvements. If they can‘t come up with proof this month on how a deal can get done that‘s acceptable to the public, the services offered by Tuohey and his pals will no longer be needed.

“To others, including several DC Council members, Tuohey has been part of the problem. They describe him as a likable and committed chairman whose inexperience negotiating was exploited by MLB’s Jerry Reinsdorf. Not only did the city’s negotiating team agree to pay for the stadium and all cost overruns, but it even threw in the kitchen appliances, a concession that drew chuckles in baseball circles, according to MLB sources. ‘Did they take a hard enough line? The answer is no,’ council member Kwame Brown said of Tuohey and the city’s other negotiators. ‘When were we going to say to baseball, “Okay, we’re going to walk?” It’s always, “Here’s the best deal we could get. We worked hard for it.” It’s like they’re always putting a happy face on it.’” At least the DCSEC’s embattled president, the well-compensated Bobby Goldwater, had experience in the stadium/arena field, where Tuohey had none. Yet Tuohey was not only made the head of the DCSEC but also was put in charge of the city’s negotiating team and later the city’s end of the ballpark design process. It reportedly was Tuohey that goaded the mayor — who was chomping at the bit to add something to his legacy after the failed and equally boondoggle-ish Olympics bid, which so visibly shook him — to make MLB a blank check offer and apparently rely on strategic politics and the fuzzy feelings associated with getting a team to get the deal past the council with a minimum of scrutiny of the specifics. Tuohey’s welcome-mat negotiating stance extended until after the stadium deal was done, where for budget reasons he initially objected to MLB’s demands outside of the original agreement for an entire concourse level worth of club seats and luxury suites plus a 7500 SF conference center, but eventually caved in as per usual in the move that single-handedly drove the cost of the ballpark level beyond the level of acceptability. Happy faces don’t cover up bad deals like this.

“Tuohey bristles at such criticism, pointing to baseball’s concession last month to a payment of $20 million that had not been included in the original stadium agreement in 2004. ‘Is Jerry Reinsdorf a more able negotiator than I am? Yes, he’s probably been better,’ Tuohey said. ‘But we got two things that are unprecedented -- the $20 million and a non-relocation agreement in which we have a lien on the team.’” MLB gets an unprecedented gift of what will total at least $1.1 billion of public financing (and much more if he had his way) as well as almost every revenue stream generated in the ballpark, and Tuohey crows about lining up a measly $20 million laden with conditions and tradeoffs that make more money for MLB? Also, the Tampa Bay franchise has not been able to move anywhere despite their horrific existence because of a strong lease (which is one of many that exist in pro sports), so spare us this talk about an unprecedented lien as some sort of coup. If those two insignificant “gets” are the best you can tell the public you’ve gotten, getting kicked out of the stadium process should be the least of your worries, and getting taken seriously as any sort of an advocate or negotiator should be your main concern from hereon out.

“The stadium lease negotiations were supposed to begin last spring and wrap up well before the Washington Nationals’ inaugural season ended in October. But the process dragged on through the fall. Part of the problem, Tuohey said, was that baseball at one point had promised to name a team owner for the Nationals who would sit in on the negotiations. But that never happened.” And yet, Tuohey et al. are fighting the efforts of those on the DC Council to demand MLB name an owner so that the owner can be part of the final lease negotiations!

“To Sharon Ambrose, the large negotiating team compromised the city’s position because the team had trouble reaching consensus. ‘I have a feeling Mark might have been better off if he was left to do his own negotiating than to constantly have whoever’s turn it was from the mayor’s office to be the baseball person get involved,’ Ambrose said. But David Catania noted that the negotiating team was inexperienced and had never bargained with a professional sports league. ‘We need a group more capable and experienced,’ said Catania, who last week brought in stadium consultants from Chicago to meet with the council. ‘That’s what’s been missing from the whole process. We’ve had no one negotiating the stadium deal with any kind of experience. It’s such an amateur hour.’” Amateur hour is right, and sending Tuohey in there alone would’ve made it even worse, given his complete lack of experience in this field. It’s time to bring down the curtain on the amateurs and turn the process from dictation on MLB’s part to negotiation.

“William Hall, a sports commission board member who worked closely with Tuohey, said the city’s hard line over key issues, such as who would control the development rights, delayed the process. To the council, however, the lease appeared to be a clear victory for baseball. At a public hearing in December, Carol Schwartz grilled Tuohey about who would pay for cost overruns on the project, now estimated to cost $667 million, up from the $535 million budget approved last year. ‘Don’t worry. It’ll get done,’ Tuohey told her. ‘By whom?’ Schwartz demanded. ‘We can’t rely on a buddy from heaven. I want to see proof.’” Hall makes it clear for anyone who had doubted it that MLB had not only targeted development rights in exchange for the $20 million in back-end cash designed to buy votes for the lease but that the DCSEC, who obviously leaked this info to their water carriers in the press, was chomping at the bit to fork them over in order to move things along. How dare city officials not speed up the process by turning over development rights — which are technically not general fund dollars for the Brigade’s budgeting but are undeniably city assets of considerable value to the public — to MLB in order to secure votes on the lease deal! The Brigade is still working to engineer more of the same, and these deceitful characters need to be stopped in their tracks.



Community Greening Grants Information Meetings, January 18-22
Kim L.E. Bell,

Community Greening Mini-grants up to $1,000 are available from Garden Resources of Washington for community and youth gardening projects in DC. The application deadline is February 17. Potential applicants are urged to attend an information meeting. Bring two or three leaders of your project, learn about the grant program and get tips on successful applications, and pick up an application. Wednesday, January 18, 6:30 p.m., Woodridge Library, 18th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NE; Thursday, January 19, 6:30 p.m., Lamond-Riggs Library, 5401 South Dakota Avenue, NE, at Kennedy Street (Ft. Totten Metro station); Saturday, January 21, 10:00 a.m., Capitol View Library, 50th Street and Central Avenue, SE (Benning Road Metro station); Saturday, January 21, 1:00 p.m., Washington Highlands Library, 115 Atlantic Street, SW, at South Capitol Avenue; and Sunday, January 22, 2:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Library, 901 G Street, NW (Gallery Place Metro station). For detailed driving or bus/Metro transportation directions, see or call the library.

Neighborhood and youth groups, schools, after-school programs, civic associations, churches, nursing homes, shelters, transitional housing, community gardens, etc., can apply for grants for projects such as learning gardens, healing gardens, neighborhood beautifications, community gardens, tree box beautifications, butterfly gardens, food gardens, habitat gardens, rain gardens, etc. Funds can be used for plants, seeds, tools, soil amendments, mulch and other gardening supplies, educational materials, community outreach. Funds cannot be used for stipends, salaries, or contractors’ fees. Selection criteria include the project leadership team; detailed project plan; practical time line; realistic budget; long-term upkeep plan; and, for youth projects, learning goals. Special consideration will be given to groups that attend an information meeting as well as projects involving low-income DC residents and those living in poverty.

For one-on-one advice about your project idea or for more information on this funding opportunity, contact GROW at or 234-0591. Garden Resources of Washington, 1419 V Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Also visit our web site at for additional information.


National Building Museum Events, January 21, 23-24
Lauren Searl,

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

Saturday, January 21, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Film: Regular or Super: Views on Mies van der Rohe. The story of a simple gas station near Montreal designed in 1967 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 –1969) at the end of his career serves as the point of departure for this documentary (57 min., 2004) that examines the wide range of buildings designed by one of the 20th century’s greatest architects. This screening is a Washington premiere. Free. Registration not required.

Monday, January 23, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Spotlight on Design: Davis Brody Bond/Max Bond. In July 2004, the architecture firm Davis Brody Bond was selected to complete the overall plans for "Reflecting Absence," the World Trade Center Memorial in New York designed by Michael Arad, AIA and Peter Walker, FASLA. A founding principal of the New York-based firm, J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA will discuss this central piece of the WTC site as well as his firm’s other notable projects, including Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. $12 Museum members; $17 nonmembers; $10 students. Prepaid registration required.

Tuesday, January 24, 12:30-1:30 p.m.. Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, will discuss the various tax incentives for saving energy in the recently enacted Energy Policy Act of 2005 which include incentives for high efficiency new homes, commercial buildings, heating and cooling equipment, appliances, solar, fuel cell and micro turbine systems, and for upgrades to existing building shells and commercial lighting systems. The talk will provide an update on implementing regulations for these provisions, and will discuss where the biggest opportunities for savings are, both from the point of view of the country, as well as for individual consumers and businesses. Free. Registration not required.

Tuesday, January 24, 6:00-7:00 p.m., reception; 7:00-8:30 p.m., program. LiTraCon (Light-Transmitting Concrete) is a revolutionary product that brings translucence to a traditionally opaque material. Hungarian architect Áron Losonczi, the inventor of LiTraCon, will discuss its evolution and use in various projects, including Europe Gate 2004. This program complements the exhibition Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete, which will be open for viewing, and features a five-foot tall LiTraCon wall. A reception precedes the program. This event is supported by the Embassy of Hungary. $12 Museum members and students; $17 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required.


The Front Page at the Library, January 28
Debra Truhart,

In the second of a planned series of programs featuring journalists, columnists, editors, business-side representatives and production staff, The Washington Post gives a behind-the-scenes look at how decisions about news are made at the newspaper on Saturday, January 28, at 11 a.m., in the West End Branch Library, 1101 24th Street, NW. “The Front Page — How National Headlines Impact All of Us,” is the title of the second topic in this series. For reporters and photographers, the front page is the most coveted spot in a newspaper. For readers, it’s where they find the day’s most important stories. During this program the audience will gain insight on who decides what stands out on Page One and what gets buried inside. They will also discuss what behind-the-scenes efforts shape the page that starts the day for many readers, including the direction, the decisions and the deadline pressures of working on Page One. Prior to the program the Friends of the West End Library will host a Coffee Klatch at 10:30 a.m. in the library. At the conclusion of the program the Friends will sponsor a reception for all guests and attendees.

Featured staff from The Washington Post will be Mike Abramowitz, National Editor; Liz Spayd, Assistant Managing Editor, National; Neely Tucker, Style Staff Reporter; Ed Thiede, Assistant Managing Editor, News; Joe Davidson, Assignment Editor; and Gina Acosta, Editorial. Rich Foster, Director of Programs at the Newseum, will moderate the program. Other topics slated for April and July will include: “The Metro Section — How the Media Covers Washington’s Communities,” and “The Style Section — What’s Hip in DC.” For more information about this and future programs in the series, please contact Anna Velazco, Executive Director, DC Pubic Library Foundation, at 727-3258; Monica Lewis, DC Public Library, at 727-1186; David Jones, The Washington Post, 334-4917; or Jean Caplanis, Newseum, 703-284-3593.


Tikkun Olam Series, February 1
Jeremy M. Goldberg,

Join us for an inspirational evening with Ethan Zohn, winner of Survivor Africa and AIDS activist, followed by a thirty-minute screening of A Closer Walk, on February 1, 6:30–8:30 p.m., at Washington DCJCC Screening Room, 1529 16th Street, NW. Tickets: $5 in advance, $10 at the door. Mr. Zohn will talk about the importance of tzedakah and tikkun olam through his experiences in fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa. Mr. Zohn is also Vice-Chairman of Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to mobilize the global soccer community in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Zohn was the winner of CBS’s television program “Survivor: Africa,” and is a graduate of Vassar University. He has played and coached soccer professionally in Zimbabwe, the United States, and was a member of the US team for the Pan-American Maccabiah Games in Chile. In recognition for his work Mr. Zohn was awarded the 2004 Nkosi Johnson Community Spirit Award by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, the Heroes Among Us Award from the Boston Celtics and the Massachusetts State Health Department as well as the Auxilia Chimusoro Award from the US State Department in Zimbabwe. A Closer Walk will be screened at the end of the evening and is the first film to depict humankind’s confrontation with the global AIDS epidemic. The film is narrated by Will Smith and Glen Close.


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