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.
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.
[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 [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/24/AR2006042401690.html].
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Candace McCrae, email@example.com
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 http://www.dceo.dc.gov
or by calling the DC Energy Hotline at 673-6750. The rebate form can be
downloaded at http://www.dceo.dc.gov/dceo/cwp/view,a,3,q,601835,dceoNav,|32974|,.asp.
It Is Time to Clean House at the John Wilson
Jonathan R. Rees, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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 http://www.Monopoly.com.
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
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 http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/donotpassgo.
Servicing the Convention Center Debt
Jenefer Ellingston, email@example.com
[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, Kjarrell@rcn.com
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
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.
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, Leo_alexander1@yahoo.com
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.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
NAMIC Breakfast, April 28
Dorinda White, firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications
Mid-Atlantic Chapter (http://www.namic.com)
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
Woodridge Library Book Sale, April 29
Suzanne Griffith, email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family Strengthening Conference, April 29
Kendra Dunn, email@example.com
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharon Bell Mathis Reception, May 19
Elizabeth Davis, email@example.com
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
CLASSIFIEDS — VOLUNTEERS
Greater DC Cares Servathon, May 20
Kilin Boardman-Schroyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 http://www.servathon.org 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 email@example.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — HELP WANTED
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
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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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.