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April 26, 2006

Information, Please

Dear Informants:

In the last issue of themail, Lawrence Spowls wrote about his difficulty in getting the Washington Convention Center Authority to release its FY2005 financial statement, which by law must be publicly released. In this issue, Mark Eckenwiler writes about DCRA’s newly imposed charges merely to inspect public records. Last week, Dorothy asked to see the final report of last November’s Citizen Summit, the administration’s major (and practically only) effort to reach out to residents; she was told the report hasn’t been done yet.

These are just three anecdotal examples of the widespread shutdown of public information. It has been going on since before the Williams administration, but it has been progressing at an advanced pace during the past seven years. Who among the candidates for mayor and city council chairman in this year’s election will reverse this trend, and get the city government back to releasing public information freely, over the counter, without unnecessary formal Freedom of Information requests, and in a timely fashion? City government is too important to be left to the politicians. If the public is to be involved in government and in the life of this city, it has to be informed, and to be informed it has to be given the information it needs.

Gary Imhoff


When Public Records Aren’t Really Public
Mark Eckenwiler, themale at ingot dot org

I recently wanted to get details on the certificate of occupancy for a business in my neighborhood, and called DCRA’s records office (442-4480). The person who answered the phone claimed that she was not supposed to give me information over the phone, and that I would need to appear in person and pay a $7 fee to inspect the C of O. That’s right: even if I only want to look at a public record — not get a copy, but merely inspect it — DCRA wants me to pay $7 per record.

Words fail me.


School Closing
D.K. Duel,

[An open letter to Gloria Smith, principal, Ross Elementary School] In [the April 25] edition of The Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher wrote about possible DC school closings []. Mr. Fisher noted that some schools will be targeted solely because of their small enrollment size. He also mentioned the benefits many smaller schools, such as Ross, offer. “Teachers make it their business to understand students’ home lives and connect with a parent. Teachers know each child’s obstacles so well they can effectively demand higher performance.” As someone who has worked in Ross for more than five years as a community partner, there is much I could add to that description, not to mention the fact that small class size with attentive educators are the very reasons why parents who can afford to do so seek out private schools. Ross teachers, administrators, support staff, and scores of volunteers know each child as an individual — their intimate involvement is the cornerstone that creates your very successful school focusing on the whole child rather than the cumulative test score.

The Washington Humane Society’s education program is designed to acquaint children with the agency as an important community helper and encourage students to become the eyes and ears for animals in their neighborhoods. Animals, like children, are often the victims of abuse and neglect. Children are never too young to become part of an involved citizenry. Through our biweekly program at Ross students learn responsible animal care and begin to develop their own thoughtful attitudes and values based on empathy and concern for animals. When I leave the building at lunchtime I am often introduced by students to their reading partners; these are folks in the community who donate their lunch hours regularly to read with individual Ross students. I’m often able to suggest a book with a humane theme that the student can share with his/her reading partner, enabling the student to benefit from both the Washington Humane Society’s education program and the lunchtime reading program simultaneously. This signature program should be modeled at schools across the city; students in District of Columbia Public Schools, no matter the enrollment size, could benefit from the regularly scheduled one-on-one reading time as well as the small class sizes and informed and invested staff and corps of volunteers.

Ross Elementary School, under your leadership, Mrs. Smith, is a school that should be emulated, not abolished. As director of the Washington Humane Society’s education program, I look forward to working with the tightly knit Ross family of staff, volunteers and students for years to come.


Trash Collection Day Changes for Some Residents Next Week
Mary Myers,

Beginning next week, some residents will have a new trash day. In an effort to normalize a dozen overburdened trash routes, approximately 7,300 households will have their trash and recyclables collection day switched to Wednesdays. The change goes into effect next Monday, May 1, and affects only those homes with once-weekly collection service in small areas of Wards 1, 5, 6, and 7. The households will be notified of the change via printed door hangers that were distributed on April 26.

According to Department of Public Works (DPW) officials, some routes are heavy and some are light due to slight shifts in the population base over the years. Using GIS-supported routing software, the same resource used to map out recycling routes when we brought that back in-house, DPW will move twelve trash routes that are crammed into four already full collection days, to fourteen routes collected on one day — Wednesday.

All other elements of the service remain the same. Only the day DPW crews pick up the trash and recyclables is changing. Residents should continue to put out containerized trash at the point of collection no earlier than 6:30 p.m. the night before collection, and no later than 6 a.m. on the morning of collection.


Rebates for Energy Star Refrigerators and Air Conditioners
Candace McCrae,

The DC Energy Office (DCEO) is offering $100 and $50 rebates on Energy Star rated refrigerators and window air conditioners to all DC electric customers. It’s all about promoting energy efficiency. Only electric customers that live in the District of Columbia can receive a $100 rebate on an Energy Star rated refrigerator and as many as two $50 rebates on Energy Star rated window air conditioners that were purchased between June 1, 2005, and May 30, 2007.

Energy Star is the symbol for energy efficiency that is placed on all types of appliances and equipment. Energy savings on Energy Star products can be as much as 40 percent. Products with the Energy Star symbol are backed by both the US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

To receive the rebate, the buyer must mail in a dated sales receipt with an attached rebate form to the DCEO, 2000 14th Street NW, Suite 300 East, Washington, DC 20009. Additional details on the rebates can be found on the DCEO web site at or by calling the DC Energy Hotline at 673-6750. The rebate form can be downloaded at,a,3,q,601835,dceoNav,|32974|,.asp.


It Is Time to Clean House at the John Wilson Building
Jonathan R. Rees,

If the people of DC are going to finally tackle our biggest problems of high property taxes, high income taxes, the lowest tax exemption levels in the nation, the proper spending of our tax dollars on rebuilding our schools, and more, we cannot achieve that if we reelect the same council members or ANC commissioners who are in fact the cause of the mess to a great extent or elevate ANC commissioners now seeking to get elected to our city council.

We need new councilmembers, new ANC commissioners and greater voter participation to clean house. It is like an infection in the leg. If you don’t clean out the entire infection, it will come back and infect the entire leg and leave our city limping into the future.

I think DC voters are ready for a big change and to finally give many their walking papers so DC can go back to not being the most expensive city on the east coast but the 20th most expensive where we had good jobs, good benefits, affordable housing, and schools that were kept up. We cannot change for the better by reelecting the same people even if it is to another position, as that will not solve the problems but shift them.


Real Estate Monopoly
Dan Melman,

Do not pass go! The makers of Monopoly have blundered into thinking they can sell our national treasures and even public office while touting the real estate mantra of "location, location, location" for their marketing purposes. From April 24 to May 12, the public will decide the future of the newest Monopoly game through an online poll at The Monopoly Here and Now Edition is supposed to be a fresh spin on the classic board game. Per the web site, “the top voted city will be honored with the coveted blue property traditionally occupied by Boardwalk.”

At first I was worried that Washington would not be included in the game, but when I saw the options of DC landmarks I was even more alarmed. While the classic game is certainly showing its age, I can’t imagine my kids saying to me “I want to buy the White House,” a possible option of the online polling. That is wrong in so many ways.

When Hasbro created the London UK Here and Now Edition (found online) the game makers stayed truer to the original game based on streets in Atlantic City, NJ. You can’t buy Buckingham Palace or 10 Downing Street. For the US edition, they are taking the best from twenty-two cities, and having the public choose a defining landmark. With our local picks, they just dropped the ball. The idea of having a price tag and ownership of national treasures is insulting to our city. Rather than having the public pick among the White House, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial, a series of better choices more in keeping with the original game may have been the more general Pennsylvania Avenue, Capitol Hill, and Embassy Row. An online petition has begun at


Servicing the Convention Center Debt
Jenefer Ellingston,

[Re: “Convention Center Won’t Provide FY2005 Financial Statements,” themail, April 23] Small piece of info on the Convention Center. In the year 2004, servicing the Convention Center debt (interest and principle) cost $36,765,000 — not an exact figure.

I got this information in 05, that’s why it’s the ’04 figure. It took several days and many phone calls to get this figure.


The Crime Bill and Councilmember Mendelson
Keith Jarrell, Ward 6,

At-large Councilmember Phil Mendelson is probably one of the most trustworthy people this city has known as an elected official. He stands hard on issues that are important. He is not holding up any crime prevention bill but rather attempting to assure the citizens of the District of Columbia that when the bill is presented for consideration it is fully thought out and comprehensive. He has the eye of an eagle for detail and to do so takes time.

Essentially, what is happening here is Mayor Williams is now attempting to put his foot print on the elections this fall. His public criticism of Mendelson was an attempt to interject his thoughts about legislation that he submitted. In doing so he mislead all of us about the real issue here. Had this piece of legislation been clearly thought out by the Mayor and his staff, then Councilmember Mendelson wouldn’t have had to spend so much time on getting it right.

When listening to both Mendelson and A. Scott Bolden openly answer questions in public on this and other issues. It becomes very clear that our support and indeed our vote should easily be cast for Phil Mendelson. He is the one that has his eye on the best needs of the public in the District of Columbia. He knows what our needs are and he knows how to deliver.


Crime, Legislation, and Mendelson
Chuck Thies, chuckthies[at]aol[dot]com

Last week, a few people defended Councilmember Phil Mendelson for delaying passage of the Omnibus Public Safety Act of 2005. Let’s be clear: it is now 2006 and District residents worry every day about crime. Mendelson, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has a responsibility to act swiftly when matters of public safety are concerned. That’s an obligation he is sworn to uphold.

A year is too long to wait while Phil dots I’s and crosses T’s. No legislation is perfect, and over time most get amended. Laws that stiffen penalties for gunslingers who possess cop-killer bullets, adults who commit crimes against children, and repeat-offenders who use guns are laws we need. Phil has even delayed a law that makes it a violation to secretly videotape or photograph someone using a public bathroom. That’s obscene.

In 2002, I worked for Phil Mendelson. I managed his reelection campaign. I know how Phil gets bogged down in details that matter only to him and loses sight of the big picture. I don’t support Phil’s reelection, in part, because his legislative style is no longer in the best interest of District residents. Phil’s foot-dragging on the Omnibus Public Safety Act of 2005 is a prime example.


The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost
Leo Alexander, Ward 4,

A full week has gone by and still no word from the Mayor. I’m not surprised, because I never expected his people to set up a meeting in the first place. I mean, what was he going to say to me that would possibly justify an act that I found paramount to treason. I’m not even sure I would have heard a word he said, because I’ve always had an issue with black folks who seem to have forgotten our debt to our ancestors. We are only here today because of all the sacrifices they made, and therefore; we must never forget our struggle. After Williams said he would be glad to meet with me, I immediately thought, for what? So he could later say I misunderstood or misquoted him. I have seen his type before. They will do whatever it takes to assure the power structure that they are a “safe Negro,” and if that means he has to order the closing of public hospitals (Boston and DC), in spite of the fact that thousands of families who look like him will suffer . . . his kind will do it every time.

Malcolm X had a quote back in 1963, “The chickens are coming home to roost.” Well here come the DC healthcare chickens. At the mayor’s last press conference, we learned the names of the members of his new health task force. Dr. Gregg Pane, director of the DC Health Department, will chair the task force, which will deliver recommendations to Mayor Williams and the DC council before July. Other members include Cornelius Baker, policy advisor, AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families; Sharon Baskerville, executive director, DC Primary Care Association; Colene Daniel, president and CEO, Greater Washington Region Doctors Community Healthcare Corporation; Dr. M. Joy Drass, president/CEO, Georgetown University Hospital; Vincent A. Keene, CEO, Unity Healthcare, Inc.; Robert A. Malson, president, DC Hospital Association; Kwame Roberts, Regional Addiction Prevention, Inc.; Michael C. Rogers, executive vice president, MedStar Health; Edward Shanbacker, executive vice president, Medical Society of DC; Dr. Bailus Walker, chairman, Mayor’s Health Policy Council; and, Dick Wolf, Chairman, Capitol Hill Restoration Society. To add a bit of sad comic relief, guess who the Mayor had standing next to him when he announced this sham committee — none other than “The People’s Mayor,” Marion Barry.

Did you notice the opposition to the proposed NCMC plan are front and center: Bob Malson of DC Hospital Association, Michael Rogers of MedStar, Georgetown University Hospital and four others. But where is the balance? All I see is a collection of "safe Negroes" and a few white folks. Where are the representatives from Howard University, or the Citizens for the National Capital Medical Center? This wasn’t an oversight by any means. This was deliberate. Williams isn’t interested in doing the right thing. Remember, his thing is doing what’s safe, and that means putting other folks who think like him on the task force. This way, no one can say the findings of this bogus exercise are racist. At the end of the day, the power structure can always show clean hands. It’s those “safe Negroes” doing dirt to some of their own. Now how can that be considered racist? After all, it’s just business as usual.



NAMIC Breakfast, April 28
Dorinda White,

The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications Mid-Atlantic Chapter ( is hosting a mentoring breakfast on Friday, April 28. Come hear how industry leaders breakdown the glass ceiling to reach their career goals! The event takes place at 7:30 a.m., with a breakfast, followed by an 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. panel discussion at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), 1724 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Seating is limited; please call 301-625-3537 to attend. Guest speakers include: Kelli Lawson, Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing, BET; Karen Wishart, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, TV ONE; Darlene Chapman Holmes, Vice President of Marketing, AmericanLife TV Network. Admission: $25/members; $35/non-members; Students free. To RSVP, please call 301-625-3537. NAMIC’s mission is to educate, advocate, and empower for multiethnic diversity in the communications industry.


Woodridge Library Book Sale, April 29
Suzanne Griffith,

The Friends of the Woodridge Library invites you to its Spring Book Sale, on Saturday, April 29, from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. We’ve got something for everyone: fiction, nonfiction, hardcovers and paperbacks, books for adults and kids, books on tape, videos, records, and more.

The library is located at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 18th Street, NE. All proceeds from the sale will benefit the library. Call 541-6226 for more information or send an E-mail to


Family Strengthening Conference, April 29
Kendra Dunn,

April has been designated Family Strengthening Month in the District of Columbia. There are two events this week in observance of this special month. First, pick a night during the week of April 24-30 to have a sit-down dinner at home with your family. Spend some time talking about what happened during the day. Help each other celebrate the successes and overcome the challenges. Repeat as often as possible throughout the year. This activity is sponsored by the Partners in Prevention Coalition.

Second, attend a free conference on Saturday, April 29, to strengthen your family and help other families in your community. Food and childcare will be provided. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bishop Alfred A. Owens, Jr., Family Life Community Center, located at 605 Rhode Island Avenue, NE (behind the Rhode Island Metro). Topics covered include staying financially focused, home ownership, handling difficult youth, healthy relationships, and protecting children from Internet predators. To register and get more information, call Jamila Taylor at 667-4940. This annual conference for parents is cosponsored by Parents Anonymous — Metro DC and the DC Children’s Trust Fund.


Miguel Covuarrubias Exhibit, May 3
Barbara Ruesga Pelayo,

The opening of the exhibition “Miguel Covarrubias, Genius of Mexico in the United States,” at the Cultural Institute of Mexico, 2829 16th Street, NW, on Wednesday, May 3, at 7:00 p.m. Attending will be Ambassador Carlos de Icaza; Alejandro Negrín, Director of the Institute; and Adriana Williams, Covarrubias biographer, who will talk about Covarrubias´ life, travels, and works.


Community Dialogue on HIV/AID with Michael Brown, May 3
Kilin Boardman-Schroyer,

DC Fights Back! and Greater DC Cares’ Citizen Academy will host the first in its Community Dialogue on HIV/AIDS series. On May 3, DC mayoral candidate Michael Brown will meet with key stakeholders from the community and the public at large to dialogue about HIV/AIDS and its impact on the greater DC community. Statistics have shown that Washington, DC, has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection of any other major city in the country, with one out of twenty residents estimated to be HIV positive. What’s more, studies show that HIV disproportionately affects African Americans and has gotten so out of control in the metropolitan area that some have suggested declaring the District of Columbia in a state of disaster.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the event will start promptly at 6:00 p.m. and will go to 7:30 p.m. Opening remarks will be provided by Brown, a longtime DC resident and noted activist on the issue. Mr. Brown will then engage in a dialogue with members of the communities most affected by HIV/AIDS and all District residents will then be encouraged to share their own personal experiences with the disease. This in no way is an endorsement of any mayoral candidate. Rather, it is the first in a series which hopes to bring all candidates to the table one at a time to discuss this crucial topic. 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


Sharon Bell Mathis Reception, May 19
Elizabeth Davis,

The DC Area Writing Project (DCAWP) at Howard University School of Education will honor Sharon Bell Mathis at a gala reception on Friday, May 19, from 6:30 to 9:00 in the evening, at the Metropolitan Day School, 1240 Randolph Street, NE. Ms. Mathis is being cited for her more than thirty years of publishing award-winning children’s stories and novels. As a former teacher and librarian, Ms. Mathis has always demonstrated a strong interest in the well being of children. Her most recent publication, Ray Charles, won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. Some of her most enduring books are The Hundred-Penny Box, a Newberry Honor Book and Teacup Full of Roses, an ALA Notable Book. Listen for the Fig Tree and Running Girl: The Diary of Ebonnee Rose continue to be favorites among children.

Ms. Mathis is the fourth recipient of the DCAWP Award of excellence and joins Ethelbert Miller, Ishmael Reed, and Eloise Greenfield as previous award winners. The 2006 honorary chairpersons are as follows: Dr. Rc Saravanabhavan, Interim Dean of Howard University School of Education; Dr. Clifford B. Janey, Superintendent of DC Public Schools; Dr. Andre Owens, Senior Pastor of St. Phillips Baptist Church; Dr. Richard Sterling, Executive Director of the National Writing Project; Dorothy Gilliam, retired columnist for The Washington Post; Dr. Wilma Bonner, Assistant Superintendent of DC Public Schools; Arthur Brown, Community Partnerships Manager for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; W. Chris Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Educational Dimensions, Inc.; Deborah Menkart, Executive Director of Teaching for Change, Inc.; and Dr. Renee Shea, Professor of English at Bowie State University. Suggested tax deductible contribution is $50.00 per person. Checks should be made out to DCAWP or DC Area Writing Project.



Greater DC Cares Servathon, May 20
Kilin Boardman-Schroyer,

AOL/Greater DC Cares Servathon is rapidly approaching on Saturday, May 20, and it’s time to reserve your spot! Servathon is Greater DC Cares’ largest annual fundraiser and the region’s largest day of community service and this year we hope to engage over three thousand people in hands-on volunteer service projects. Join us as we clean up public parks, paint public schools, conduct general facilities upgrades at homeless shelters, install computer labs in community centers, and many more community improvement projects. But don’t stop there, we encourage you to become a team captain and get your friends, family and coworkers involved to make the Greater Washington region a better place. Servathon will be held on Saturday, May 20, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., followed by our Servathon Celebration Party at Buffalo Billiards with free food and Sam Adams beer at 1 p.m. For more information or to sign up visit and start a team today!

Like a walkathon, Servathon participants ask friends, family and coworkers to sponsor their day of service through making donations. But don’t be worried; we make it really easy and we have a raffle with great prizes such as plane tickets and theater tickets for those who reach our goals. All proceeds will benefit Greater DC Cares, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization committed to sparking change through inspiring and engaging our region’s most valuable resource; men, women, children, and companies that want to give their time, talent and compassion to making the Greater Washington region a better place. A donation of $15 might allow Greater DC Cares to organize a morning of food delivery to homebound elderly. A donation of $50 allows us to screen, train and place three caring mentors with children in foster care. A large donation of $1000 could allow us to install a computer lab at a job placement center using volunteer technology professionals. Help us reach our fundraising goal and sign up for Servathon. For questions contact Julie Howard at 777-4447 or



Experienced Legal Assistant
Jon Katz, jon at markskatz dot com

Full time experienced legal secretary (fully fluent bilingual Spanish-English required). Excellent pay ($30,000-$60,000), excellent benefits package (including health insurance), paid parking/Metro, and training. Reasonable hours and schedule. Unlimited career and pay growth potential. Highly ranked, caring, and friendly law firm in the news seeks experienced Legal Secretaries (minimum one year legal experience required, preferably with excellent private law firm trial litigation experience) with excellent skills in communication, organization, loyalty to the law firm and its clients, promptness with work, and productivity. The successful candidate will be a team player who is drawn to our practice mix and philosophy of delivering excellent service for justice. Requires a person with common sense who thrives with a fast pace and a bachelor’s degree or equivalent intellectual ability. Fax 301-495-8815,


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