themail.gif (3487 bytes)

March 15, 2006

Not Too Late

Dear Latecomers:

It’s not too late to name your choice for an official state animal. Andy Catanzaro seems to have started something when he wrote in the March 8 issue of themail that DC should have an official animal. Amy Doolittle writes in The Washington Times today ( that councilmembers are taking the issue seriously, and are discussing which animal to name. She reports that the giant panda is in the lead. An alternate view is that the District’s official animal should be native to the region, or at least to the United States; Councilmember Sharon Ambrose supports the bald eagle. And, of course, DC Vote says that naming an official animal would be step toward statehood. I’m not so sure about that. After all, naming capitalsaurus as our official dinosaur didn’t get us statehood, and you’d have thought that having our own dinosaur would surely have persuaded Congress to make us a state. On the other hand, we don’t have an official state cocktail, either. Perhaps we should try that route. Which do you think would be most persuasive to members of Congress: “DC, the Martini State,” “DC, the Bellini State,” or “DC, the Scotch Neat State”?

It’s also not too late to let the city council know what you think of plans for the National Capital Medical Center, and of the desirability of the NCMC’s going through the Certificate of Need process. From different perspectives, Frank Zampatori, Leo Alexander, and Jim Myers describe the council’s first hearing on the NCMC below. The Washington Post’s editorial reaction to that hearing in today’s paper is that, “The hearing demonstrated why submitting the proposal to the District’s ‘certificate of need’ process is so critical. An independent review and analysis of the NCMC should examine assumptions that Howard and the city have made about costs, possible utilization, and the hospital’s effect on the District’s other health care providers and the health status of residents, particularly those with low incomes. It should also examine the proposed management and operational structure, balance sheet and financial viability, especially since neither Howard nor the city will be liable for the medical center after three years of operation. A certificate process would certainly fulfill that requirement. . . . The DC Council, however, is in no position to play the role of an independent, expert third-party reviewer of the NCMC. On an issue of this magnitude, with profound implications for health care delivery and city finances, politics must give way to sound policy” (

Councilmember Vincent Orange praised the mayor’s prospective trip to Africa at today’s mayoral press conference: “I think there’s a tremendous amount of opportunities for both countries, for both Africa and the United States, and in particular the District of Columbia.” The councilmember may be weak on geography, but he is also wrong substantively. The mayor’s trip isn’t a tremendous opportunity for anyone because it has no purpose, no goal, and no plan. Many states have international trade offices and many more sponsor trade delegations, but they organize the delegations for specific purposes. North Carolina may send a delegation to Japan to see if they can get a car factory built in their state, or Washington State may send a delegation to see if they can get the Japanese government to ease its restrictions on lumber imports. When a trade delegation has a purpose and a goal, the government that sponsors it can name the outcomes and measure its success by whether it meets its goals. But the Williams administration can’t say what economic benefit the trip will have for any business in DC, and it certainly can’t name any benefit for the residents of the city. The problem with the mayor’s trips to China and Germany and France and now Africa is that the administration does things the wrong way around. Instead of starting with a business purpose for a trip, the administration plans the trip first, and then scrambles to see whether it can find any businessmen in DC who may have enough of an interest in it (or in currying favor with the District government) to help pay the mayor’s way. If the mayor is proud of the trip, why is he stonewalling and refusing to release basic information about the trip’s itinerary, budget, funders, and participants?

Gary Imhoff


PEPCO Collects for Taxes It Never Pays
Warren Gorlick,

A Wednesday, March 15, New York Times article [] concerns utilities that charge their customers for taxes that the utilities never end up paying. A chart in the article shows that Pepco is by far the most egregious offender of all the utilities that this industrious New York Times reporter analyzed. I am not sure which is worse, the blatant larceny of Pepco (which is in the process of greatly increasing its electricity rates both in DC and Maryland at the moment), or the blind indifference (or worse), of our so-called public servants who are permitting this to happen. An excerpt from the article follows:

“Among the electric utilities whose customer tax payments are not reaching tax coffers is Pepco, serving four states and the District of Columbia. Pepco collected nearly $546 million from customers to cover its income tax bill for the years 2002 through 2004. Yet the parent Pepco Holdings did not pay income taxes during those years; indeed, it received $435 million in tax refunds.

“Pepco says the beneficiaries of those refunds were not the company’s shareholders, but utility customers. A vice president, Anthony J. Kamerick, said that without the ability to use taxes embedded in monthly electric bills to help finance its unregulated investments, including new power plants, electric customers would pay higher rates.”


Protecting the Public from Wheelchair Ramps
Jack McKay,

The Public Space Office of the District Department of Transportation appears to be working hard at protecting the public against wheelchair ramps. A funky little market and drug store, the Argyle Convenient Store (yes, that’s its name), has been operated in Mount Pleasant by an Iranian immigrant, “Rocky” Rakani, day in and day out for the past twenty years. But last August, a fire started in the night by an electrical fault burned the shop out.

Six months later, the shop remains closed, as the District government erects obstacle after obstacle to its repair and restoration. Wayne Gleason, the manager of the Argyle property, which houses the shop, was forced to pay a $6000 fine because he dared clean up and repair some of the fire damage before the lethargic bureaucrats at DCRA got around to issuing permits. Wayne decided that, as long as he was rebuilding the shop, he should add a wheelchair ramp to the entrance, accessibility to the handicapped being thought quite important these days. The Public Space Office agreed, and on February 3 routinely issued a permit for the ramp.

Unfortunately for Wayne and Rocky, this shop is right across the street from the residence of a high-level Public Space bureaucrat. She showed up one morning and demanded to know what was being done. Informed of the permit for a wheelchair ramp, this bureaucrat raced downtown and got the already issued permit revoked. The Public Space Office then put numerous bureaucratic hurdles in the way of this ramp, including a requirement that the ANC approve the job. They have never before asked this ANC to approve any such minor work, and until lately haven’t even notified the ANC of such routine permit applications. Said notification arrived on February 23, the job description consisting in toto of “occupy sidewalk only” for “renovation,” as if we’re to understand that this implies pouring concrete for a wheelchair ramp. The ANC responded immediately with a request that the permit be issued "as quickly as possible." That was two weeks ago. There remains merely a great big pit in the ground, and presumably a cement truck somewhere awaiting a call. Sleep well, Washingtonians. The Public Space Office is working hard to keep you safe from wheelchair ramps.


Black Squirrel
Katie Hodge,

Someone asked if there were an animal unique to DC. While not absolutely unique, the black squirrel would be a contender. The Washington Post had an article in 2005 about eighteen Canadian squirrels that were released at the National Zoo during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. The squirrels had a black coat, and it is because of them that we see the many black squirrels in our area. Here’s the article:


Cherry Blossoms in Stanton Park
Jeff Coudriet,

Put me down for best cherries off the mall being in Stanton Park! If you look at them along the Maryland Avenue axis facing west you’ll have a lovely view of the Capitol dome as well! These are my favorites from the many years I lived on the Hill.


DDOT Invites Comment on New Religious Parking Policy
Bill Rice,

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites public comment on proposals to increase parking spaces adjacent to and around religious congregations and to step up enforcement against parking violations. The enforcement will start in late April.

“The goal of these proposals is an easy-to-understand, enforceable, safe system that allows congregations to park near their places of worship and residents access to their cars,” said Michelle Pourciau, Acting Director of Transportation. “We will work with all the concerned parties — the residents, the congregations, the DC Government agencies — to develop site-specific procedures that works for everybody, just as we did for the Convention Center, the MCI Arena and RFK Stadium during the baseball season.”

Before the increased enforcement starts in late April, DDOT will work with community groups and congregations to inform all interested parties of the new policy. These policy and procedures are a cooperative effort of DDOT, the Department of Public Works, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the Executive Office of the Mayor. Comments should be directed to Miss Ann Simpson-Mason, DDOT Policy and Planning Administration at 671- 2740 or at


DDOT’s Religious Parking Plans
Dorothy Brizill,

After weeks of speculation, the Department of Transportation has announced that it has “proposals to increase parking spaces adjacent to and around religious congregations and to step up enforcement against parking violations,” and has invited public comments on those proposals. The problem is that the Department hasn’t released any of its neighborhood-specific parking plans to the public, so it is asking citizens to comment in the dark, with no specifics on which to base their comments.

DDOT’s press release is printed above. It was accompanied by some general comments about what the plan is designed to accomplish, but no details of where or how DDOT planned to provide additional parking spaces. I tried to get that information from DDOT today, but I was first told that the Department didn’t have neighborhood plans, then that it didn’t intend to release them. I was finally able to get the details of one neighborhood parking plan, for Logan Circle. Similar plans must exist for Shaw, Capitol Hill, and perhaps for other affected neighborhoods, but I have not been able to obtain them. The DDOT press release, DDOT’s general comments about its plan, and the actual Logan Circle parking plan are available at Other individual neighborhood parking plans will be added to that web page if and when I am able to obtain them.

If DDOT actually wanted to have a real, effective public comment process, it would have released its neighborhood parking plans to the public. Its reluctance to release information, though, has become a common government practice. In recent years, the DC government has routinely given citizens only partial and incomplete information, deliberately crippling their ability to have effective, informed input on government programs and policies.


NCMC and the Committee of the Half
Frank Zampatori,

On March 13, Council Chairman Linda Cropp chaired a Committee of the Whole hearing on the National Capital Medical Center (NCMC) and the use of Tobacco Settlement Funds by DC to fund its share of the construction costs for NCMC. Very little of the testimony was directed to the tobacco funds. A majority of the eight-hour hearing involved testimony by supporters of NCMC or individuals who questioned the need for NCMC. Based on the questioning by Councilmember Catania and Councilmember Ambrose, new questions were raised concerning the NCMC project, such as whether or not Howard Hospital’s current unfunded pension liability for its employees would be transferred to NCMC (no answer from Howard); whether the unfunded health benefit costs for retirees would be transferred to NCMC (no answer from Howard); what medical services would remain at the HUH on Georgia Avenue, NW (no answer from Howard); the City Administrator stated that the nonprofit NCMC corporation would be responsible not only for the new NCMC but the old hospital as well (this was the first time the old hospital was included); still no answer as whether or not the $30 million federal subsidy for the existing Howard Hospital would be transferred to NCMC or would remain at Howard University; whether Howard University or the NCMC would apply to FHA for the required mortgage insurance which would guarantee lower interest costs (no answer from Howard); and we learned that Chairman Cropp supported both the NCMC and the Certificate of Need (CON) process, as long as the CON was not long. (When does not long become a too short of a process which defeats the purpose of CON?)

What was significant was which Councilmembers showed up, who stayed and participated, and who didn’t bother to attend because of other pressing business. This hearing was the first in a final series to be conducted by the city council on the new $400-$500- million-dollar, 250-bed hospital to be constructed on Reservation 13 in Ward 6. The hearing began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 6:00 p.m With the exception of a few short breaks, Linda Cropp, Kathy Patterson, Sharon Ambrose, Vincent Gray, and David Catania were present for the entire eight-hour hearing, and asked a variety of questions, some of which prodded the city and Howard for more information and others that tried to show a need for NCMC.

Now for the remaining Councilmembers. Kwame Brown arrived at 11:10 a.m., gave opening comments and was gone by 12:15 p.m. He returned at 5:00 p.m. to thank the City Administrator for his efforts on behalf of NCMC; he asked two or three questions, and left at 5:34 p.m. Vincent Orange arrived at the hearing at 4:24 p.m. and stayed to the end at 6:04 p.m. He gave opening comments and asked questions of the City Administrator. Councilmembers Jim Graham, Jack Evans, Adrian Fenty, Marion Barry, Phil Mendelson, and Carol Schwartz were not present for any portion of the hearing. I’m sure we will hear that they were conducting pressing business, or were watching the hearing on Channel 16 or on line (as I was), or were out of the building, or had staff present, or were at 14th and U Streets, NW, distributing campaign literature. The NCMC is a major health care issue for the District. What the city council decides to do — based on documentation presented by the city, Howard University, and the public -- will commit the residents of our city to a specific course of action in health care for decades to come. I am sure the residents of our city want a well informed and educated city council voting for the best possible health care program. What we don’t need is a vote cast by members who are guided by misinformation or emotion, and who are not fully informed. Is this a harsh assessment? Yes, it is. But on Monday, March 13, the Council Committee of the Whole became the Committee of the Half, with only five members attending for the full session; two members making brief appearances; and six members deciding that they had something much more important to do. The city council can and needs to do better.


Why Is the National Capital Medical Center Needed?
Leo Alexander, Ward 4,

After attending the rally for the National Capital Medical Center at Freedom Plaza on Monday, March 13, and listening to four hours of testimony in city council chambers that followed, I walked away with one distinct impression -- some folks just want to protect their personal interest regardless of who has to suffer. Ward 6 Council member Sharon Ambrose wants this initiative scratched in favor of commercial and residential development on the old DC General site. At-Large Councilman David Catania wants assurances from Howard University Hospital that they will provide the same amount of charitable care that a safety net hospital partially funded by the District should warrant. Ward 3 Council member Kathy Patterson wants the Certificate of Need process to evaluate whether or not the need exists for these additional services that the NCMC would provide. Out of these three aforementioned council members, Patterson is the only one running for a District-wide post on the council; so it behooves her to remain open minded, since her challenger for that position, Ward 7 Councilman Vincent Gray, vehemently supports the NCMC initiative. Council Chairman Linda Cropp, At-Large Councilman Kwame Brown and Ward 5 Councilman Vincent Orange (at the rally, but missed the morning hearing) are all in support of this health care initiative. Surprisingly absent from the morning public hearing were Ward 4 Councilman Adrian Fenty, Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry, Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, and At-Large Council Members Carol Schwartz and Phil Mendelson.

Flash back to 2001, the city council unanimously voted to keep DC General Hospital open. The DC Hospital Association also supported the vote. Nevertheless, the mayor and the control board arbitrarily agreed to shut the facility down. To get around the Certificate of Need process to close the hospital, two promises were made to the people: funds would be provided to Greater Southeast Community Hospital so that they could ramp up their care to a Level-1 trauma center distinction, and second, that the old DC General site would house acute care and expanded ambulance services for this sector of the District. For whatever reason, both promises were never kept.

Now one of the main allies of the council to keep DC General open has switched sides. Bob Malson, president of the DC Hospital Association, testified during the hearing and said he supports an ambulatory care facility in that sector, but not the NCMC. Chairman Cropp immediately picked up on his statement and asked Malson if he supported Howard University Hospital and Malson replied, “Yes.” Then she masterfully asked him, “If you support Howard University Hospital at its current site, then what would be wrong with switching the two facilities? Putting the ambulatory care facility at the site on Georgia Avenue and the trauma center on the old DC General site?” Malson appearing stunned, barely muddled an answer, “That’s not my position.” Checkmate. The debate was over. Regardless of which side of this argument the participants were on, there was a general consensus that the eastern sector of the nation’s capital desperately needs a complete health care network of services; now what is left to be determined is how much the District is willing to ante up to make good on its broken promises and who gets the job to do it.


Is This a Reason to Build NCMC?
Jim Myers,

Supporters of the National Capital Medical Center argue that "geography is a critical element in healthcare." And I wouldn’t doubt the premise, except there’s scant evidence that living closer to a hospital or Level 1 trauma center gives one a better shot at a longer, healthier life. Instead, we get anecdotes intended to suggest that individuals from eastern DC are dying at or en route to faraway hospitals, when they might survive if NCMC were open for business.

One such example that’s come up at least twice was first cited in the February 1 themail by NCMC supporter Leo Alexander: “Then there was the case of the shooting in Kenilworth; both victims were taken to Prince George’s Medical Center where one died. No one can say whether or not those two would have lived had there been a Level 1 trauma center in the eastern sector — but what if?” And at Monday’s city council hearing, the same example seemed to be cited again by Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray when he spoke of a “a drive-by shooting in Kenilworth,” in which both victims were taken to Prince George’s Hospital Center and one died.

But what is it that turns this unfortunate shooting into evidence that NCMC is needed? That’s the mystery. It appears that the shooting referred to was on January 27 in the 4500 block of Quarles Street, NE. But does Gray or anyone else who believes “geography is a critical element in healthcare” know where Quarles Street is? In fact, Quarles Street is closer — and probably minutes so — to the Prince George’s Hospital Center trauma center than it is to the proposed site of NCMC on eastern Capitol Hill.

So what is Gray claiming — that it would be best to take victims of shootings and other traumas to hospitals that are farther away? Of course, this is only one example being cited as proof that NCMC is needed, and surely there must be others. But hold on, it wasn’t NCMC opponents who thought this shooting was convincing evidence of healthcare injustice in Washington. It was NCMC supporters. So maybe they can explain their reasoning to those who might still be puzzled.


Stadium Design Unremarkable and Cut-Rate, Despite Unprecedented Public Cost
Ed Delaney,

“The use of glass and pre-cast concrete (limestone was eliminated to save money) make[s] the ballpark look modern and breaks from the popular red-brick throwback stadiums.” ( When is the most expensive ballpark in history the cheapest ballpark in history? When you have a completely incompetent body like the Brigade bullying its completely incompetent stadium plans past an equally incompetent DC council, hiding the design details from scrutiny until after the fact. Yes, the designers not only broke from the popular brick throwback stadiums but from every other suitable design concept to save money, something which is in complete contrast to the ever-rising price tag for this public project designed to house a private entity which will almost exclusively profit from the ballpark’s activity.

The reviews are in, and they underscore what a design failure this “Buick or Ford” stadium (as Cropp called it, which is now fading into secondhand Schwinn status) is, along with the fact that its design both aesthetically and practically will hardly represent the promised step-up from RFK Stadium that precipitated the rationale for building an entirely new ballpark in the first place rather than renovating RFK Stadium: “The renderings for the new Washington Nationals are out, and they look even more like an airline terminal than the Nats’ current home. It’s also a good depiction of that upper deck that will be 21 feet higher than at RFK — for a stadium with 15,000 fewer seats” ( So much for the Brigade’s long-ballyhooed goal of building a ballpark that reflected the design motifs of the city and thus integrated into the landscape. (If only they‘d had enough money to do it up right!)

Not only did the Brigade bull-headedly site the stadium at a traffic-choked, transportation-starved, and parking starved location not needing the boost of its presence and already maxed out with development to the point where development was already being restricted in the area, but they sited the stadium in a way that doesn’t even take advantage of the potential vistas of the river and only allows a sliver of monuments to be seen from a special "viewing platform" at the ballpark (which is supposed to make up for having nondescript and indistinct views from the seats). That DC citizens and taxpayers could’ve been forced out of their homes and businesses to make way for this train wreck rather than have the stadium sited on the extensive RFK Stadium campus is sickening. What’s even more sickening is the amount of corruption and collusion of developers, MLB officials, potential owners, media outlets, and public officials that streamlined the way for that to occur. Worse, the costs associated with this site necessitated this value-engineered (read that as cheap) greenhouse (not surprisingly, the canard of brick being cheaper than glass has died unceremoniously, especially as even the limited use of limestone at the portals was value-engineered out for concrete as predicted), whose cut-rate nature will naturally lessen the draw and appeal of the ballpark much sooner than has occurred at parks like Camden Yards. This in turn will affect the overall revenue figures from the ballpark (whose costs will still have to be paid off). As the final ballpark legislation allows all sorts of budget shifts and creative manners (selling off city assets and so on), this could lead to — you guessed it — even more ballpark costs borne by the public! Those public officials who enabled this nightmare scenario to happen with their midnight political machinations on the ballpark lease, acting in complete disregard for the public and its ability to affect the political standing of the officials, need to learn at the ballot box that this bungling of a project costing the public hundreds of millions at the behest of private entities such as developers and MLB is unacceptable.


DC Politicians’ Contempt for the Law
Bob Evans,

I don’t know why anyone would be surprised by any DC politicians’ contempt for the law ("There Ain’t No Law That’s Hard and Fast, themail, March 12). After all, this is a city council that decided on its own that it was in everyone’s best interest if it overturned a city referendum on term limits. Not only shouldn’t they fear parking tickets, they also feel they should have no reason to fear for their jobs. And this from a group who goes on record to complain that Congress deprives us of our democratic rights by overturning laws that the city passes!


Living Wage, Part 2
Victoria McKernan,

Edward Cowan, in response to my thoughts about a living minimum wage (themail, March 13), makes the standard argument that a living minimum wage would simply drive business elsewhere. Unfortunately, it has just enough validity to keep us all mired in an oppressive status quo. I didn’t understand the “grasping the wrong end of the stick” metaphor, maybe he confused it with getting the “short end of the stick,” but my first thought is, if you’re picking up a stick at all you’re either intending to whack the dog or make him fetch.

Of course there are different lifestyles and economic needs, but I believe that a person working full time should be able to have secure shelter, adequate nutrition, and health care. Minimum wage was designed to provide this at the minimum level, and it once did. But today, an $8.00 minimum wage in DC will not even support a Ramen noodles lifestyle. Employers do not pay wages based on what the job is worth; they pay wages based on how little they can get away. If a government allows employers to underpay workers, then uses tax dollars to subsidize the minimum living conditions of those workers, I still contend that is exactly like the government handing tax dollars directly to the business owner.

I’m all for profits and capitalism, but I haven’t accepted the fairy-tale notion of a free market since I passed my high school Ayn Rand phase. In a free market, my lemonade stand makes better lemonade than yours so I get more business and profit. In the actual marketplace, your lemonade stand receives government sugar subsidies so you can undercut my price. I pay my lemon squeezers enough to pay rent, you pay your lemon squeezers half my wage and rely on them getting section 8 vouchers, which I pay for through my tax dollars. Where is the free market here? I realize government regulations on small business, particularly in DC, are already burdensome, and sometimes absurd. The solution though, is better government, not elimination of government. Remember that the celebrated free market with unregulated businesses has brought us the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Love Canal, black lung disease — and, oh yes — slavery! I know this argument will piss off both Libertarians and Republicans, and some will raise the specter of Soviet-style regulation, but again my answer is — why do you think we can’t, or shouldn’t, do better?

P.S. I don’t know of any secret cherry-blossom groves, but don’t miss the wild golden blooms of forsythia hill in Dumbarton Oaks, 32 and R Streets, NW, open daily 2-6, closed Monday. $7.00 admission (good capitalist market price!)


March 2006 InTowner
Peter Wolff,

This is to advise that the March 2006 on-line edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials (including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’ also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature. Also included are all current classified ads. The complete issue (along with prior issues back to October 2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link provided. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in print, including all photos and advertisements.

The next issue will publish on April 14 (the second Friday of the month, as always). The complete PDF version will be posted by the preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter.

To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “Former Embassy Designation as Historic Roils Adams Morgan Residents — ANC and Preservation League at Odds With HPRB”; 2) “Church Street Block ‘Reborn’ With New Urban Look and Feel”; and 3) “Adams Morgan Essay: Four O’Clock in the A.M.”


Recognizing DC Government as Burlesque: How to Buy a Hospital Instead of Health Care
Len Sullivan,

The leaders of our national capital city have finally bickered their way into building a stadium in which to play the national pastime. They have forgiven Ward 8’s Councilman for diverting a quarter million dollars in taxes he owed the US and DC into his bloodstream. Center stage will now feature buying an extra hospital for the area’s rich instead of better health care for the city’s poor. To add to the entertainment, K Street lobbyists for greater spending on emergency medicine have put out a “National Report Card” purporting to rank the capabilities of our fifty states (and DC) and the US as a whole. DC ranks a close fourth out of 51, behind California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The country as whole gets a C-. NARPAC has dissected the American College of Emergency Physicians’ complicated four-part, fifty-element, highly weighted scoring/grading system. We wanted to test its usefulness in informing the ongoing comedic NCMC decision-making process. Unfortunately, the methodology is seriously flawed. For instance, DC can jump into first place by eliminating all its emergency centers, doctors, and nurses as long as it signs up for a $250K medical liability cap. With this mixed, sliding scale grading system, the country cannot earn a grade much above a C+. Check this out at

So let the show go on. Watch the administration misrepresent the real missing elements in its public health system. Applaud the city council for overturning its own rules to obtain an official certificate of need for a new hospital. Cheer on DC’s influential ministers for contradicting the advice of experienced medical professionals. Enjoy misleading the city’s neediest that better health comes from emergency rooms, not primary health clinics. Keep the country entertained.



Guy Mason Recreation Center Classes Starting, March 20
Toni Ritzenberg,

Registration for Spring ‘06 classes at the Guy Mason Recreation Center (3600 Calvert Street, NW) will be continuing until most classes start the week of March 20. Openings in the regular classes such as art, China painting, copper enameling workshops, pottery, bridge, Spanish and French, Yoga, Pilates, and senior momentum (for those 50 and older) are still available.

A special Chinese cooking class has now been announced to be offered on Tuesdays 7-9 p.m., March 21 and 28 and April 4 and April 11. The class taught by Christine Liu, the author of three Chinese cookbooks, incorporates demonstration and tasting and commentary on nutrition, diet and healthy cooking tips. Also new this spring is rock and roll Yoga on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. As reported in the Daily Candy, “The practices mixes standard yoga with ‘dancy’ moves to get you a little sweatier, a little faster. The constantly changing play list — with the dial turned waay up — ensures you’ll never get bored.”

For specific class start dates, visit the Center’s web site at To register online, visit and click on Activities Program Registration and follow the instructions. For further information and/or to register in person, visit the Center, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. and Saturdays 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., or call Robert Haldeman/Caryl King at 282-2180.


National Building Museum Events, March 19, 22
Lauren Searl,

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

Sunday, March 19, 1:00-4:15 p.m., Environmental Film Festival, Documenting I.M. Pei on Screen: Double Feature. Museum on the Mountain (1:00 p.m.) This film follows the building of the Miho Museum on a sacred mountain top near Kyoto, Japan from conception to execution. Through I.M. Pei’s personal commentary, we learn the immense difficulties that had to be overcome in order to build a large museum on a remote, environmentally protected site. Following the screening, filmmaker Peter Rosen will engage the audience in a discussion of the film (52 min., 1998). $5 Museum members and students; $7 nonmembers. Registration required. For festival information, visit First Person Singular (2:45 p.m.). In this revealing 1997 film, I.M. Pei leads viewers through several internationally known projects. He also discusses his long-spanning career in architecture and teaching, and the different personalities he has worked with over the years. Free. Registration not required.

Wednesday, March 22, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Emerging Voices lecture. Bercy Chen Studio and Escher GuneWardena. Since 1998, Bercy Chen Studio in Austin, Texas has integrated vernacular precedents from various cultures and contemporary contextual conditions, into a combination of sustainable and aesthetically pleasing designs. Founding principals, Thomas Bercy and Calvin Chen will discuss the studio’s work, which includes Factory People, a fashion boutique in Austin, Texas; Azul, a spa resort and conference center in Malinalco, Mexico; and a 120-unit townhouse project in south Austin. The studio recently won a national competition for Urban Reserve, a residential development near Dallas, and was a finalist for the Self- Sustaining House competition, hosted by the Advanced Architecture Institute of Catalunya, Spain.

Since 1995, Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena have addressed issues of sustainability, affordability, form and construction in simple, yet formal, manifestations. Founding principals of Escher GuneWardena in Los Angeles, they will discuss the firm’s work, which includes the Jamie Residence in Pasadena, California; interiors for Electric Sun tanning salons; and installation design for a retrospective of the work of Sharon Lockhart at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. The firm was one of six architecture firms included in the National Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in 2003, and was invited to participate in the exhibition OPEN HOUSE: Intelligent Living by Design, organized jointly by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany and the Art Center in Los Angeles in 2004.


DC Public Library Events, March 20
Debra Truhart,

Monday, March 20, 7:00 p.m., West End Neighborhood Library, 1101 24th Street, NW. Barbara Barski-Carrow, Ph.D., author, and employee relations expert, will conduct a seminar on dealing with and helping others to cope with traumatic issues in the workplace. Public contact: 724-8707.

March and April 2006. The Washington National Opera will present the classic tale, Hansel and Gretel, in partnership with the DC Public Library during March and April 2006. Families will be introduced to the story and music of Engelbert Humperdinck’ opera, Hansel and Gretel, and explore how music communicates plot, character and emotion through hands-on crafts and creative music activities. The free opera workshops target children aged 6 to 12 years old and their families. Schedule of performances: Monday, March 20, 1:30 p.m., Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library, 3160 16th Street, NW, 671-0200. Tuesday, March 21, 10:30 a.m., Capitol View Neighborhood Library, 5001 Central Avenue, SE, 645-0755. Thursday, March 23, 10:30 a.m., Petworth Neighborhood Library, 4200 Kansas Avenue, NW, 541-6300. Saturday, March 25, 10:30 a.m., Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, 5625 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 282-0021. Monday, March 27, 11:15 a.m., Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW, 541-6100. Tuesday, March 28, 10:30 a.m., Palisades Neighborhood Library, 4901 V Street, NW, 282-3139. Friday, March 31, 10:30 a.m., West End Neighborhood Library, 1101 24th Street, NW, 724-8707. Wednesday, April 5, 10:30 a.m., Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library, 115 Atlantic Street, SE, 645-5880. Thursday, April 6, 1:30 p.m., Woodridge Neighborhood Library, 1801 Hamlin Street, NE, 541-6226. Thursday, April 20, 1:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NE, 727-1248. Tuesday, April 25, 10:30 a.m., Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 282-3080. Tuesday, April 25, 1:30 p.m., Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R Street, NW, 282-0220. Wednesday, April 26, 10:30 a.m., Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street, SE, 698-3377. Wednesday, April 26, 1:30 p.m., Northeast Neighborhood Library, 330 7th Street, NE, 698-3320.


Author Talk by Rosemary Reed Miller, March 22
V. Henderson, VHende

Author Rosemary Reed Miller will discuss her book The Threads of Time, The Fabric of History: Profiles of African American Dressmakers and Designers From 1850 to the Present, on Wednesday, March 22, 6-8 p.m., at Petworth Branch Library, 4200 Kansas Avenue, NW. Sponsored by the Friends of Petworth Library. For more information, call 541-6300.


Equal Justice Works Auction, March 24
Joe Libertelli,

Please join friends, students, staff, and alumni of the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (and the Antioch School of Law) at our annual Equal Justice Works auction. As you may know, the auction raises funds for summer public interest fellowships for law students eager to serve low-income Washingtonians and the public interest. This year’s auction will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 24, at the fabulous Ethiopian Embassy, 3506 International Drive, NW, a block from the UDC Campus in northwest DC.

Auction items will include vacation weekends, works of art, tickets to sporting events, a flat water kayak outing/lessons, a variety of terrific merchandise, and gift certificates for a variety of personal services and numerous area restaurants and stores! To donate auction items or services to this worthy cause, contact Stephanie D’Angelo at

Each year, all first-year UDC-DCSL students are eligible to receive modest stipends supporting their work on behalf of low-income clients and the public interest in a variety of settings. Students earn a $2,500 stipend for a minimum of four hundred hours of law-related, attorney-supervised service at a nonprofit group, a government agency, or a judge’s chambers. There is no charge to participating organizations, many of which cannot afford to pay for the help they need. Past placements have included the ACLU, Amnesty International, DC Public Defender Service, DC Office of Human Rights, the DC Employment Justice Center, the Center for Immigration Law and Practice, the chambers of DC and federal judges, a wide variety of DC and federal agencies, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the UDC-DCSL Juvenile and Special Education Clinic, and many more.


Capitol Hill Neighborhood Yard Sale, March 25
Joan Eisenstodt,

Capitol Hill neighborhood yard sale on March 25 at 8 a.m., at the intersection of Independence Avenue and 5th Street, SE, weather permitting.


Investor Education at Your Library, March 28
Michelle Phipps-Evans,

On Tuesday, March 28, 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., at Martin Luther King. Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5, the DC Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking and the DC Public Library have teamed up with the American Library Association (ALA), the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine to host the Investor Education @ Your Library seminar. This free, noncommercial seminar is part of the national Investor Education @ Your Library program, sponsored by the ALA and IPT. Learn strategic steps for investing wisely for a lifetime. Seminar includes materials from IPT, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and the PBS Television series “Moneytrack.” Participants will receive a copy of "Five Keys to Investing Success" from IPT and Kiplinger.

The Evelyn Brust Financial Research and Education Foundation will conduct the seminar. There will be optional one-on-one financial checkups by investment advisers. Advanced registration is required with the business division at the library at 727-1171.


HIV/AIDS Panel Discussion, April 6
Kilin Boardman-Schroyer, 777-4457 or

Many people are aware that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is decimating the populations of developing countries such as South Africa and Haiti, but what most people don’t know is how this disease continues to devastate populations right here in the capital of the richest nation in the world. The HIV/AIDS infection rate in Washington, DC, is the highest of any US city and rivals the infection rates of many developing countries. Recently, with the help of a thorough report produced by DC Appleseed and the advocacy of many local groups, this reality has reemerged as a public issue that must be addressed by our city leaders.

Join us on Thursday, April 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., for a panel discussion and hear from the local experts about the District’s HIV/AIDS status, the different programs and initiatives that are addressing the need, and how you can get more involved in the efforts to further bring this crucial topic to the attention of our city officials. The panel will include representatives from DC Appleseed, Metro Teen AIDS, DC’s HIV/AIDS Administration, DC Primary Care Association, and the Whitman Walker Clinic. This program is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To register or for more information, contact Kilin Boardman-Schroyer, 777-4457 or



You Poor Old Sod
Phil Greene,

In spite of the warm winter, the grass in my back yard is toast. Having a seven-month-old Golden puppy with frequent "play dates" has it looking like a rugby tournament was held there. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where to purchase sod (for delivery), or seed and topsoil, or a low cost contractor who could do the job? Open to any suggestions short of paving the thing. Fortunately it’s only maybe 1500 sq. feet.


Lawyer for Street Corner Preachers
Bryce A. Suderow,

I was deeply shocked when I learned last week at ANC 6A’s monthly meeting that four of the white commissioners intend to stop street corner preaching at the corner of 8th and H Streets, NE. This preaching is a time-honored tradition in the black community, but the newcomer whites, who rarely if ever even set foot on H Street, are offended by it. They plan to stop the preaching through a noise ordinance of some sort.

Can they do this? Will the ACLU represent the preachers if I put them in touch with that organization? This is definitely a free-speech issue. I look forward to hearing from the ACLU or any other lawyer who is willing to represent the preachers


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the subscription form at To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available at

All postings should also be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)