Costs and Benefits
Art notes: aside from the weather, the most spectacular thing about
this spring season in DC is the outstanding selection of art exhibits
currently at our museums. Be sure to see “Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec:London
and Paris, 1870-1910,” now in its last month at the Phillips
Collection, and “The Renoir Returns: A Celebration of Masterworks at
the Phillips Collection,” open through July (http://www.phillipscollection.org/html/exhibits.html).
“Cezanne in Provence” is in its last three weeks at the National
Gallery of Art; “Dada” is here for only a week longer; and the Frans
van Mieris exhibit is on until late May (http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/index.shtm).
Once you’re full of culture, you can move on to entertainment. The New
York Times approves of U Street’s nightlife, and says “The
Corridor Is Cool Again,” http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/04/14/travel/escapes/14washi.html?8td&emc=td.
I’m a terrible predictor of political races, but for what it’s
worth I think that Leo Alexander is right that race is going to be an
important issue in this political season. However, he’s completely
wrong about how race is going to play out as an issue. Alexander wants
black candidates to run with an explicitly racial agenda and to frame
issues like the National Capital Medical Center in racial terms, and he
claims that he doesn’t understand why that should be seen as divisive.
My instinct is that both black and white voters are instead going to be
looking for candidates who promise to continue Washington’s progress
away from divisive racial politics. Successful candidates won’t run as
black or white, but will be able to assure and convince residents of the
city, regardless of race, class, and neighborhood, that their interests
will come first — before the interests of the developers, lawyers,
sports promoters, special interests, and nonresident “stakeholders”
who come first with the current administration and council. Citywide
candidates who follow Alexander’s advice and run based on racial
appeals, and you know who they are, will lose badly, and they will
deserve to lose.
One issue on which developers’ interests are coming before those of
the residents is the mayor’s desire to dispose of the Martin Luther
King, Jr., central library, which the city council is pushing on a fast
track. Kathy Patterson, below, gives the details for a town hall meeting
at which residents can voice their opinions on MLK. The same
councilmembers who didn’t understand the value of the Wilson Building,
and who made the mistake of giving a developer a long-term lease for it,
now don’t understand the value of MLK, and want to give some developer
a sweetheart deal on it (the developer would get a ninety-nine year
lease, be allowed to add two additional floors to the building, and pay
the District an estimated $60 million over the entire life of the
lease). The plan seems to be to give away the city’s assets, with the
best and most important ones going first. As Trotsky once said about
Dwight Macdonald, “Every man has a right to be stupid on occasion but
Comrade Macdonald abuses it.” It’s one thing to make a mistake once;
it’s another thing not to learn from your mistakes. Councilmembers who
would make this big and this bad a mistake again, and you know who they
are, too, should lose any of their races badly, also.
Mayor’s Proposal to Lease the Martin Luther
King, Jr., Library
Ann Loikow, email@example.com
[An open letter to councilmembers] I urge you to delete section 2032
of subtitle D of Bill 16-679, “the FY 2006 Budget Support Act,”
which would authorize the Mayor to lease the Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Library for ninety-nine years. This centrally located and
architecturally important building should remain under public ownership
and control and be used for public purposes. If it is not used as the
city’s main public library, which I would prefer and for which it was
designed, it should be renovated and used to house the District’s
archives and a a state of the art District government public information
center for residents wanting to access government information. The
Archives are very important and also much neglected public information
depository that the District needs to better support and preserve. We
should not dispose of this building just because the District Government
has not maintained it and has allowed it to deteriorate.
The Omnibus Public Safety Act of 2005 and My
Opponent in the At-Large Race
A. Scott Bolden, firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was a prosecutor my colleagues and I looked toward elected
officials for leadership on public safety measures. Residents and
business owners depend on elected officials to act prudently and quickly
to fill gaps in the system; gaps that criminals exploit. My opponent in
the At-Large Council race, Phil Mendelson, chairs the Judiciary
Committee. Alarmingly, he has single-handedly stalled legislation
proposed by the Mayor, backed by the police union, and supported by
District residents across the city to get tough on criminals.
A striking example: Mendelson has failed to act on a proposal that
would protect individuals using public restrooms from illicit
videotaping and photography, and penalize those who perpetrate this vile
invasion of privacy. Mendelson is also blocking measures that would
impose mandatory prison sentences for possessing armor-piercing bullets,
violent crimes that target juveniles and possession of a firearm by
convicted felons. In our city, armor-piercing bullets have but one
purpose; to kill police. Adults who engage in violent acts against
children and teens deserve little mercy. Repeat offenders caught with
guns should spend an extra year in jail. I call on Mendelson to move
this legislation now! (see Omnibus Public Safety Act of 2005, Bill
Public safety is at risk, yet Mendelson is dragging his feet. These
anti-crime proposals are now more than a year old and Mendelson is
solely responsible for the delay in enacting them.
Stamp Act Congress Voters Guide
Andy Catanzaro, Catanzaroa@gmail.com
We asked all the candidates for mayor what they though about DC
voting rights and what they planned to do. Only Linda Cropp answered our
E-mails. We posted her reply on the blog (http://www.stampouttax.blogspot.com).
I guess there is not much for the next generation of political dialogue
via E-mail and the web. Regardless, read her replies to our voter’s
MLK and Emancipation
Ralston Cox, Dupont Circle, email@example.com
An article on another listserv noted the good, if not overwhelming,
turnout for the MLK Day parade held recently (and rescheduled from
January to avoid bad weather). The article complimented all the hard
work that had gone into what was described as something of a modest
With DC Emancipation Day coming, I received several notices about the
parade on Pennsylvania Avenue and the bells ringing at the Old Post
Office Building, and a festival at Freedom Plaza, etc. What if these two
events were blended together? I know MLK Day is a much bigger event
nationally and I don’t in any way want to stifle the celebration for
the accomplishments of Dr. King, but if these were put together we might
also gather some non-local press interest in DC Emancipation Day and —
maybe — some non-local interest in the lack of voting rights right in
dear old DC.
I’d really love to see the local marching bands and color guards
strutting up Pennsylvania Avenue — on a regular ol’ workday for
those of us who don’t work for the city. Given how it happens during
tourist season, it might make a mighty big splash with those here from
out of town, who might just take a bit of real local lore back home!
Don’t Miss a Single Inning of the Nationals’
Ed T Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
While out here in Seattle, I have been watching (dismally) all the
Nationals’ road games on the ESPN Internet Gamecast. It’s almost as
real as being in the ball park. For those who are statistics nuts, there
are all the stats you could wish for on the batters and pitchers. You
"see" every pitch when it comes to the plate and the screen
shows you where that pitch went. The ball rises up out of the field when
it is hit by the batter and the ball goes in the direction of where it
is hit. You can track every single play of the game by scrolling on the
right window. This is a major upgrade of last season’s Gamecast
broadcasts. You have to bring your own beer and hot dogs and need to
provide your own crowd noise. Other than that, you are
"watching" the real game live and in color.
Ticket Prices at Our New Baseball Stadium
David Sobelsohn, anc6d02 -at- capaccess -dot- org
I read with dismay Ed Barron’s April 12 report from Seattle’s
Safeco Field, new home of Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners.
According to Ed, seats in Safeco’s “nosebleed section” —
presumably not the best seats — usually cost $18 each. Gulp. My
Detroit friends tell me that, in the old Tigers Stadium, now slated for
demolition, not only were tickets among the cheapest in the majors, but
the team sold thousands of seats for five bucks each. When the Tigers
moved to a new taxpayer-financed stadium, the team more than doubled
ticket prices. Tickets then became among the most expensive in the
majors. At an ANC meeting on April 10, I asked Warren Graves, Chief of
Staff at the Sports and Entertainment Commission, what assurance he
could give my constituents that residents of my neighborhood, the
neighborhood of the new Nationals stadium, will be able to afford
Nationals tickets after the team moves in. Mr. Graves assured us that
the new team owner would sell tickets at a fair market price, whatever
that turns out to be. He added ominously that current RFK ticket prices
are among the lowest in Major League Baseball. Does history repeat
itself? Is the Pope Catholic?
For an explanation why teams building new stadiums avoid building
cheap seats, see http://money.cnn.com/2006/04/14/commentary/column_sportsbiz/column_sportsbiz/.
Safeco Field Versus Nationals Ballpark
Christopher Jerry, firstname.lastname@example.org
As I read Mr. Barron’s piece on Safeco Field in Seattle [themail,
April 12], I thought people should know that the baseball home of the
Seattle Mariners is often held up as an example of cost overruns gone
amok. I’ve had the pleasure of going to Safeco to watch a baseball
game two years ago, and also twelve years ago to its predecessor, the
King County Stadium, also know as the Kingdome. The official cost of the
stadium is not $365 million as Mr. Barron quotes; instead the number is
$517 million (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAFECO_Field).
Further, unlike what DC is trying to do in putting a stadium in a
footprint that has no supporting infrastructure at all, Safeco Field was
built partly on a parking lot of the demolished Kingdome.
My point is that something that ended up being a $150 million overrun
— in 1999 — in a place that already had infrastructure in place,
could be nothing compared to the total cost of the new baseball stadium
and infrastructure here next to the Navy Yard. The Safeco Field overrun
was held as low as it was because the decision was made to just have a
retractable roof to cover the field but not enclose the stadium in such
a way it would be an all-weather facility. And unlike Seattle, where the
Mariners picked up a large chunk of the overruns, its still not clear
how much, if any, money will be put up by the Nationals. The much
ballyhooed tax on businesses that is to pay for the stadium does not pay
for in surrounding infrastructure cost.
Though I am a Nationals season ticket holder, it’s my long shot
hope as a city resident that something could still happen to torpedo the
baseball stadium plan at this site.
Being a former other Washingtonian, I must disagree with Ed Barron,
who put the cost of the Safeco Field at “$365 million, which included
the moveable roof cover.” Not unlike DC, Seattle voters had much to
say about the stadium costs and also had a statewide referendum, which
failed once before the legislature kicked in money anyway because they
didn’t want to lose the Mariners.
In 1999, total costs were set at $516 million for Safeco Field, which
was the most expensive ballpark in Major League Baseball until DC came
along. And, I might add, over $100 million in cost overruns are still in
litigation! As you can see below, the taxpayers of Seattle/Washington
State and visitors are really paying for this stadium, as compared to
the “deal” Mayor Williams and the council worked out. I have to say
it still ticks me off every time I fly into Seattle and rent a car.
Seattle did get a retractable roof, which isn’t cheap, and the number
of seats is much larger than in the planned DC stadium. Unlike Ed, it is
one of my favorite parks in the country behind Pittsburgh.
Tenants: Seattle Mariners (AL)
Style: Retractable roof
Capacity: 46,621 (baseball only); main bowl: 24,399; club level:
4,254; suite level: 936; upper bowl: 16,022; disabled seats: 1,010
(505 companion seats).
Architect: NBBJ (Seattle).
Owner: Washington-King County stadium authority.
Cost: $517.6 million (as of July 1999).
Public financing: $340 million from a one-half-cent prepared food tax
in King County and rental-car tax.
Private financing: $75 million from Mariners owners. Cost overruns of
over $100 million are still being settled.
The Washington State Major League Baseball Public Facilities District
(PFD) is the public body responsible for actual construction of the
ballpark. The PFD worked with the Mariners on design and construction
and has oversight of the ballpark now that it is built. On September 9,
1996, the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public
Facilities District (PFD) selected a site south of the Kingdome for
Seattle’s new ballpark. In December, 1996 the Seattle Mariners
Baseball Club signed a 20-year lease keeping them in Seattle through at
least the year 2019.
On June 4, 1998 the Mariners announced that the name of their new
ballpark will be Safeco Field. For the right to have their name on the
stadium, Safeco, a diversified financial services company whose roots in
Seattle date back to 1923, will pay $1.8 million per year for the next
Sales tax credit: state authorized, county imposed .017% sales tax,
which is offset against the sales tax now collected by the state in
King County. (This results in no sales tax increase to the general
Proceeds from sale of baseball stadium commemorative license plates.
Proceeds from sale of two to four sports theme lottery scratch games
($3 million is guaranteed from this source).
Special stadium sales tax of .5% on restaurants, bars and taverns
in King Co.
Special stadium sales tax of 2% on rental cars.
Admissions tax: county has authority to impose two admissions taxes on
the new stadium of up to 5% each.
The Mariners contributed $75 million. Cost overruns exceeding $100
million have yet to be settled.
Movie references seem to go over rather well with this audience, so
here’s another one — The Perfect Storm. There are some good people
out there who really don’t want me to continue to talk about race
relations here in the District of Columbia. For whatever reason, it
makes some uncomfortable. One local AM radio talk show host told me she
thought my comments were, “…so divisive.” I ask you, what is so
divisive about this topic, and why can’t we continue to talk about it?
I know that some members of my own community want to act as though
slavery and the struggle for civil rights were so long ago that they are
therefore passé. Some members of the white community are reluctant to
have this conversation because I guess they feel at the end of the day
the solutions to racial inequities will cost them too much to fix — so
why even bother.
I bring race back up this week because it cannot be ignored when you
talk about the medical feasibility surrounding the proposed National
Capital Medical Center (NCMC). Whether we like it or not, our Mayor has
gotten us all caught up in a perfect storm of race, class, economics,
healthcare and politics, all while a community continues to suffer.
Let’s try to put this puzzle together. When the request for
proposals hit the street that the District was looking to partner with
an established hospital to put a Level-1 trauma center on the site of
the old DC General Hospital (DCGH), all except one ignored the SOS.
Howard University agreed to downsize their level-1 trauma center on
Georgia Avenue, and move 230 of their allotted beds to the new
state-of-the-art hospital on Reservation 13 (the old DCGH site). So
basically, they agreed to shift resources from a sector where there is a
surplus of trauma centers to an area with a void in these same services.
Critics are quick to point out that the people in the eastern sector of
the city need primary care services instead of a trauma center. Good
argument; but why can’t there be both, since nearly half of all trauma
calls come from Wards 7 and 8?
Who benefits from this continued delay in providing Level-1 emergency
medical services to the eastern half of the city? Bob Malson of the DC
Hospital Association is protecting the members of the DC Health Care
Alliance of service providers by lobbying the Council and the Mayor
against this proposal. And here’s why, the serious money can be found
in the District’s till for uncompensated care. One name keeps popping
up — MedStar, which owns both Georgetown University Hospital and the
Washington Hospital Center, has both hands in this all-out cash grab for
medical services to the poor. A source, who asked not to be identified,
offers a couple of interesting connections or mere coincidences: MedStar/Georgetown’s
community affairs VP, Regina Knox Woods, was recently appointed by the
Mayor to the Sports Commission, where she joins GU’s community affairs
AVP Linda Greenan (of Ward 2 Democrats and formerly of Jack Evans
Council staff). Woods, former DC health department staffer, came to
MedStar a year and a day after she oversaw the certificate-of-need
approval for MedStar’s purchase of the GU hospital, which had been
hemorrhaging money. Now you decide, is this a classic example of
improper influence of a government official or just a mere coincidence?
I also hear GU is also looking for a new president, now would it be just
another mere coincidence if the Mayor has struck a secret deal to kill
the NCMC for an opportunity to lead this hallowed institution of higher
learning? After all, he is a lame duck mayor on the job hunt, and with
connections to MedStar and their financial connections to GU — Stevie
Wonder could connect the dots.
Have we lost our collective moral compass here or did it ever exist
in the first place? I ask this because where is the outrage from the
members of the clergy? Are they there just to pass the plate on Sundays
and have us believe we can buy our way into God’s good graces through
tithing alone? Where is our compassion?
Mind you, this is the same city that just ponied up more than 600
million dollars on a stadium deal. City Council Chair Linda Cropp
passionately fought for this initiative by leveraging her significant
power behind the scenes to cajole her colleagues on the council to
support her pro-baseball position. Madam Chair, where is that same
passion for the citizens east of North Capitol Street as it pertains to
their rights to an equitable distribution of this city’s health care
resources? Where is Fenty in this fight? We know he recently voted
against a measure to protect affordable housing. Does he think
revitalizing classrooms alone will win the election? And what happened
to Barry, "The People’s Mayor," why has he been silent in
this battle? Are Orange, Gray, Brown, Graham, and Catania the only ones
who get it?
As far as I’m concerned, if September 12 rolls around and we still
don’t have a deal on the NCMC on Reservation 13, I know who won’t
get my vote for Mayor and Council Chair. One thing is for sure; DC’s
perfect storm has exposed a painful cavity in our soul that has revealed
an absence of morality, compassion and decency for our less fortunate.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Community Briefing on Campus Plans, April 18
Toby Fallsgraff, email@example.com
Are you tired of watching the city government do the bidding of
well-connected developers regardless of the impact on our neighborhoods?
Please join the Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of
Columbia, the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, the Foggy Bottom
Association, and concerned DC residents for a breakfast press conference
and community briefing regarding efforts to stop George Washington
University and the DC government from violating the law and polluting
the environment by gutting their existing campus plan development
agreement. The event will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, at
the Melrose Hotel at 2430 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
George Washington University’s campus plan is a binding agreement
with the city that sets reasonable limits on development in order to
protect neighborhood residents and students from pollution, noise,
traffic and other threats to quality of life. The University has
violated its existing agreement and is seeking the DC government’s
approval to scrap it and write a new one with few neighborhood
protections. The new agreement would reward unethical, illegal behavior
and radically expand commercial development without an environmental
impact statement. The effort to stop the new campus plan has
implications for all DC neighborhoods seeking to maintain their quality
of life in the face of pollution and overdevelopment. If this city gives
the green light to George Washington University to break its word, no
neighborhood is safe.
So join us on Tuesday morning. Have some breakfast, meet fellow
concerned citizens, and learn about the latest efforts to stand up for
the rights of DC neighborhoods and how you can help!
Council Chairman and At-Large Councilmember
Forum, April 18
Dwayne Toliver, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ward Three Democratic Committee and the Ward 4 Democrats, Inc.,
will cosponsor a joint forum for candidates for chairman of the DC city
council and at-large city councilmember on Tuesday, April 18, 7:00-9:00
p.m., at Woodrow Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street, NW.
Moderator: Colby King, Washington Post; panelists: Kathy
Sinzinger, Common Denominator, and Dorothy Brizill, DCWatch. Open
to the public (doors open at 6:30 p.m.).
Hear candidates discuss issues of importance to Ward 3 and 4 and
submit questions for the candidates. For more information on our forum,
please call Ward Three Democratic Committee Chair, Robert M. Brandon, at
966-5333 or 331-1550 or E-mail him at email@example.com,
or call Ward 4 Democrats President, Dwayne M. Toliver, at 585-8852, or
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABC Public Charter School Orientation Night,
Karen Baker, email@example.com
On April 20 at 6 p.m., there will be a mandatory orientation night
for all current and prospective parents of ABC Public Charter School.
ABC is currently recruiting sixth and seventh graders.
This will be a night filled with fun and information. ABC will
introduce new programs for the fall: the Home School Alliance, Club ABC,
the ABC Starter Kit, and the Parent Referral program. Students from the
Poetry Club and Step Squad will perform along with door prizes and food.
Current and prospective parents will need to submit all of the
information needed to secure the students space for the fall:
application, transcripts, health records and proof of residency. If you
need to get this a list of the information needed please, contact the
office at 822-6301 or visit us at http://www.abcpcs.org.
Arts Opening in Brookland, April 21
Lisa Farrell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington Works on Paper presents Padre e Figlia (Father and
Daughter), an exhibition of drawings and photography by Daniel Shay
(drawings on paper and papyrus) and Ginevra Shay (recent photographs).
Opening reception for the artists on Friday, April 21, 6-8 p.m.
Exhibition continues through June 3. Free and open to the public.
Washington Works on Paper, 3420 9th Street, NE, 526-4848, 526-0837
Hours: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 12-4 p.m., Thursday evening, 4-8
p.m. Metro: Brookland/Catholic University Station.
Tijuana, April 20-21
Barbara Ruesga-Pelayo, email@example.com
Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21, 7:00 p.m., seminar:
“Tijuana: Laboratory of Postmodernity” (video and film makers from
Tijuana). All the films and subtitled in English. Free admission and
refreshments. At the Cultural Institute of Mexico, 2829 16th Street, NW.
For more information, call 728-1675. Presented by the Cultural Institute
of Mexico and the Cultural Center of Tijuana.
The Future of Martin Luther King, Jr., Library
Town Hall Meeting, April 21
Kathy Patterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The memo [that Gary Imhoff] mentioned [in themail, April 12] was
dated and delivered Monday, April 10; the Budget Support Act hearing was
April 11, and it was during the hearing that I discussed holding a
subsequent hearing, which Chairman Cropp then mentioned publicly. I
favor considering the issue separately which is why I sent the memo, and
we take the bill up for first reading May 9.
The first order, though, is a more thorough public vetting of the
mayor’s proposal, which we’ve scheduled Saturday, April 22, at 1
p.m., at MLK [901 G Street, NW]. It will be a town meeting rather than a
public hearing because recess apparently extends through the weekend and
I can’t hold an official hearing during recess.
UDC Commencement, May 13
Michael Andrews, email@example.com
Anthony A. (Tony) Lewis, President of Verizon, Washington, DC, will
deliver the keynote address at the University of the District of
Columbia’s 29th Commencement Convocation, scheduled for 10:00 a.m., on
Saturday May 13, as graduates will receive their associates,
baccalaureate, masters, and juris doctorate degrees. Mr. Lewis will
address the graduates and guests at the ceremony at the Verizon Center,
which will be presided over by University President William L. Pollard,
CLASSIFIEDS — LOST AND FOUND
Bicycle found at Cleveland Park Metro stop bike rack. Blue Roadmaster
Mt. SportSX, 18 Speed, in pretty good shape, but brake cables were
detached. Unlocked. If you left it there, or think someone else may have
used it and then left it there, E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
to further describe and make arrangements.
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Does anyone have a recommendation for a contractor who can do kitchen
cabinet refacing and some other minor kitchen updating?
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