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May 10, 2006


Dear Headliners:

The headlines aren’t the same online, but here is how the print editions of today’s Post and Times titled their stories on the council’s budget consideration yesterday. Post: “DC Council Passes Budget of $5 Billion.” Times: “Council Approves $9 Billion Budget.” Oh well, $4 billion here, $4 billion there; it’s hard to keep track. It turns out that both papers are right, in a way. The Post headline refers to the locally funded portion of the budget; the additional $4 billion included in the Times headline is funded by the federal government.

Either way you count it, it’s a lot of money, and it’s sneaking up to unsustainable levels. For the past several years, because of a good national economy and a booming local real estate market, city tax revenues have exceeded expectations every year. That meant the administration and the city council could throw money at any program they wanted. But now, Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi has warned that, because the real estate market is softening, tax revenues may fall short this year. And, since the real estate market does go through cycles, it’s likely that tax revenues may stop growing by leaps and bounds, and may even fall short, for the next several years. That means that funding for somebody’s pet projects will have to be cut during the next mayor’s and city council chairman’s terms of office. If you were a candidate, would you really want to be elected now, and take the blame for the inevitable budget cuts?

Gary Imhoff


Bell Clement, 2024944014 at verizon dot net

Lots of dead birds this week up in my part of Columbia Heights (Holmead). Six; sparrows; last day or two. Never seen anything like it here. Anyone have any insights?


There Goes the Neighborhood
Ed T Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

It looked like a large dog. A four-legged critter was walking east on Windom Street, NW, across the intersection of 47th Street at about 6 in the morning on Monday. It was not a dog, however; it was one hellaciously sized raccoon. Now I’ve seen a lot of raccoons in my camping days. I was eyeball to eyeball once with a whole family of the critters on the picnic table right outside my tent trailer. But this northwest DC denizen was king sized. Lock up your garbage cans, folks.


Thank You for Not Letting Your Dog Poo on Our Lawn
Robert Marvin,

DC has tackled the issue of smoking in bars and restaurants. But what about dog poop and urine? Some owners responsibly pick up after their dogs’ poo, but many others don’t. More than being unsightly and the killer of plants, dog waste can cause disease, groundwater pollution and attract rats, which eat the stuff. But for many dog owners any talk about managing the problem leads first to denials that there is a problem, assertions that others don’t understand and then just plain old disbelief.

While some might argue there is no problem, one only has to look at this picture of the small park at 17th Street and New Hampshire Avenue for evidence that things in some places have gotten out of hand. Back in the 1980s, this park was overrun with drunken Hispanic men who used the park as their personal urinal. So the park was renovated and the shrubbery and benches removed to discourage this bad behavior. Fast forward to this past Sunday, and see above how the park looks now. Lovely isn’t it? Makes you long for the days when Tecante empties were strewn everywhere rather than Baby Ruth-looking turds. Barely no plant life survives this lunaresque environment. Dogs are off their leashes. No one, except dog owners and their pooches, can enjoy such a place, if enjoy is the right word given the sorry state of things.

C’mon MPD, if you are not writing traffic tickets on Sundays in Logan Circle, how about enforcing the leash and pooper-scooper laws? For that matter, how about the dog owners giving us non-dog owners a break.


Let the Voters Decide
Jonathan R. Rees,

In this election year, most of us running for the DC city council like myself are being overwhelmed with questionnaires about where we stand on over several hundred issues. But one issue that never goes away is that of same-sex marriage. On such a hot button issue as same-sex marriage, the DC city council should never make that decision. That decision should be made by all registered voters of the District of Columbia in a special ten-year binding referendum.

If it passes, then the DC city council signs off and the mayor signs the legislation. If it fails, another vote on the issue shall not be had for ten years. Let the people, not the politicians, decide and whatever that decision may be, let the people accept whatever our overseer the United States Congress does and says in response. In other words, let’s put this issue to bed once and for all so our political leaders can move on to other matters without constantly being slapped in the face with it year after year.


Should the Redskins Return to DC?
Joan Eisenstodt,

After I posted the poll link in the Washington Business Journal [themail, May 7], Gary wrote: “After you’ve voted, let us know how you feel. Should enticing the Redskins back from Largo be a high priority for, or be given any priority by, the District government?” (The link again is — where the answers “Are you kidding?” and “public money should be spent on education and healthcare” are leading.)

Considering the state of DC schools — among the state of so many things that need to be fixed here — I would hate to see the Redskins move to a priority position. The thought of tax dollars going for professional sports versus ensuring a healthy, educated population would be another folly. I don’t see a need for the Redskins “living” in the District. Am I missing something that would say we need them?


What Determines a Declared Candidate?
Christopher Jerry,

As I read Dave Bosserman’s post about candidate forums needing to be open to all declared candidates [themail, May 7], it lead me to double check the candidates to be invited to the Fairlawn community’s planned At-Large candidates forum next week to see if we are excluding anyone who is a legitimate candidate. We had extended invitations to the two current At-Large members up for reelection, Phil Mendelson and David Catania, and also candidate Scott Bolden. However, through word of mouth I heard about another person named Antonio Dominguez. To make sure we invited every eligible and legitimate candidate, I called both the DC Republican Party as well as the DC Statehood Green Party, and in the case of the Republicans, they said they had no candidate, and the Green Party has not at this time returned an E-mail query as to who their candidate would be, if any.

After reading themail, I called the DC Board of Elections and Ethics and found that there are two places that candidates are to register. The first, and perhaps the most important, is the Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE), as that is the only way to officially get on the ballot. As of this E-mailing, there are only three candidates registered there for the At-Large office: Bolden; Dominguez, whom they have listed as a Republican; and another Republican named Marcus Skelton. The second place candidates can be found is at the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF), and there outsiders Bolden and Dominguez are listed as well as incumbents Mendelson and Catania.

This leads to a further question, what is a “declared” candidate? Should there be a minimum standard, such as being registered with the BOEE, which is needed to be on the ballot? Or should registering with the OCF be the standard? What of candidates, who shall remain nameless, who are perennially on the ballot but really aren’t to be taken seriously? I agree that forums should be more inclusive in allowing candidates whose names are not as well known to have their say, but at some point there needs to be a cutoff as to who is thought be a legitimate candidate and who is out there only for the publicity. I don’t think you can invite everyone who says they are candidates if you want to have a effective voter forum in a limited amount of time. Someone connected with a forum has to be an arbiter of who is in and who is out and, unfortunately, sometimes people are left out.



National Building Museum Events, May 15, 19, 21
Lauren Searl,

Monday, May 15, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Smart Growth Strategies: The Massachusetts Experience. Anthony Flint, smart growth education director in the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development and author of the just-published This Land: The Battle Over Sprawl and the Future of America, will discuss the Massachusetts experience with a statewide smart growth policy and the future of that policy after its champion, Governor Mitt Romney, leaves office this year. Free. Registration not required. This series of lunchtime lectures is presented in conjunction with the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Smart Growth Network.

Monday, May 15, 6:30-8:00 p.m.; reception 8:00-9:00 p.m. Lecture and reception: SOM’s Seventy Years of Iconic Designs. Since its founding in 1936, the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has built some of America’s most iconic buildings including John Hancock Center, Sears Tower, Lever House, and the US Air Force Academy. Today its projects range from the Freedom Tower in New York to the Burj Dubai, expected to become the world’s tallest building. Nicholas Adams, Mary Conover Mellon professor in the history of architecture at Vassar College, was granted unfettered access to SOM’s archives to research his book Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: The Experiment since 1936 (Electa). He will discuss the firm’s history, the ideas that drove its founders, and how it remains a vital force in architecture today. At a post-lecture reception, he will sign copies of his just-published book. $12 Museum members and students; $17 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. The lecture by Nicholas Adams, SOM’s Seventy Years of Iconic Designs, and the public reception are sponsored by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP.

Friday, May 19, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Member preview day: The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design. Curator-led tour for Corinthian Members 10:00-11:00 a.m.; curator-led tour for General Members 12:00-1:00 p.m. Museum members and their guests are invited to attend a private preview of the Museum’s latest exhibition The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design. To RSVP for the tour call Caitlin Irvin at 272-2448, ext. 3500, or E-mail by May 12.

Sunday, May 21, 1:00-4:00 p.m. Family program: Was Kermit Wrong: Is It Easy To Be “Green”? Explore the new interactive exhibition The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design to learn about the ways homes are becoming “green” or environmentally friendly. Experience a walk through the Glidehouse, a life-sized replica of a “green” house. Recycle a shoebox(es) of your own to create a house with a grass-roof that will grow in your window. $5 per project. All ages. Drop-in program. Please bring shoebox(es) for the program.


Public Schools and Public Libraries Forum, May 16
Kilin Boardman-Schroyer,

"Making Education a Priority in Our City: An In-Depth Look at DC’s Public Schools and Public Libraries," Tuesday, May 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Most people would agree that providing our children and youths with the educational opportunities necessary to lead successful lives should be one of our top priorities. However, here in the capital of the richest nation in the world, we have seen a continuous disconnect between rhetoric and action concerning our commitment to quality educational institutions. Despite the hard work and dedication of those on the front lines, the condition of DC’s Public Schools and Public Libraries has severely disadvantaged our youth, damaged our reputation as a city, and caused families to abandon the Public School system and at times the city itself.

Join us on Tuesday, May 16, to learn more about the crisis facing our city’s educational systems and what is being done to address it. Representatives from 21st Century School Fund, District Community Voices Organized and Informed for Change in Education (DC VOICE), The Library Renaissance Project, and The Federation of Friends of DC Public Libraries, will discuss the current status of the city’s school and library facilities and programs. Specific topics to be addressed will include the facility/program funding of these crucial institutions, the recent actions taken by community activists and our city leaders to rectify this injustice (such as the School Modernization Act and the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task force on Libraries), how you can get involved, and much more.

This program is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To register, learn the location of the event, or for more information, contact Kilin Boardman-Schroyer, 202-777-4457 or


Bill Cosby Call Out, May 16
Michael Andrews,

Bill Cosby is coming to the University of the District of Columbia as part of his nationwide effort to bring a message of empowerment and hope to America’s lower income communities. “A Call Out With Bill Cosby” will be held on Tuesday, May 16, at the University Auditorium (Building 46East) on the University of the District of Columbia campus. Cosby will moderate a session dedicated to foster parents/children and grandparents raising children from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. A general session for the entire community will be held at 7 p.m. A limited number of tickets are available to the public for both sessions at the University Auditorium box office on a first come, first served basis. Those attending the event are strongly encouraged to use the Metro Red Line to the Van Ness/UDC station.

The Call Outs serve to remind people that the keys to improving their lives and those of their families, neighbors and community are within their grasp. The event showcases inspiring stories of personal transformation told by people in the local communities that provide a motivational road map for change. Most important, the Call Out present solutions by encouraging collaboration and putting people in touch with resources and pathways to find answers to address challenges they face. Cosby has appeared in over eighteen cities over the past year and a half, including Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Newark, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Baltimore among others. In these meetings, Cosby has told audiences, “Our children are trying to tell us something, and we’re not listening.” He has also stressed the importance of community colleges for equipping young people with great opportunities for job and career advancement.

The Call Out is free to the public but tickets are required. Although most tickets have been distributed, a limited number of tickets will be available at the University auditorium box office at the time of the event. The event is made possible thanks to the Host Committee, which is comprised of the Washington Association of Black Journalists and the University of the District of Columbia. Plans are in process to air the evening event (7:00 to 9:00 p.m.) live on WOL-1450AM and XM Satellite Radio (Channel 169) and record the event for broadcast at a later date on Comcast Cable and TVOne.


The Cultural Institute of Mexico, May 18
Barbara Ruesga-Pelayo,

Thursday May 18, 6:30 p.m., at the Cultural Institute of Mexico, 2829 16th Street, NW. Film: “Mi Casa Es Tu Casa” (“Welcome Mr. Postman”) by Madeline Bondy.


Metro’s Many Creators, May 22
Matthew Gilmore,

Lecture: Metro’s Many Creators, Monday, May 22, 6:30-8:00 p.m. A rapid transit system is not the creation of a single individual, agency, or profession, but a collaboration among planners, engineers, architects, and citizens. Zachary M. Schrag, assistant professor of history at George Mason University, will present some of the interactions and debates that resulted in the Metro system we know today.

After the lecture, he will sign copies of his new book The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro (Johns Hopkins University Press). Copies available for purchase in the NBM store. Admission: $10, Museum members and students; $15 Nonmembers. Registration required. Event web site: At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW. Note: the presentations at Politics and Prose, the Washingtoniana Division, and National Building Museum are distinctly different.


District III School Board Candidates’ Forum, May 31
Hazel Thomas,

Premier CDC and the Ward 5 Council on Education will sponsor a Town Hall Meeting on key issues confronting the DC Board of Education and a Forum for candidates running for District III representative on the School Board which includes Wards 5 and 6. This is a critical year for the School Board, since voters in Wards 7 and 8 will elect a District IV representative and voters citywide will cast ballots for a new school board president. Nikole Killion, WJLA/News Channel 8 Reporter and Anchor, has been invited to be the guest moderator for the school board candidates’ forum. Residents of Wards 5 and 6 and the general public are invited to attend the town meeting and forum, which will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, at the Isle of Patmos Baptist Church, 12th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NE. (Isle of Patmos is handicap accessible.)

Paul Washington, chairman of the Ward 5 Council on Education, will lead the town hall discussion in which three presenters will briefly discuss three pivotal issues facing current and incoming members of the Board: 1) the hybrid/elected school board — when will it end? Can innovative, committed people afford to serve on the school board? 2) Rightsizing — should charter schools automatically get surplus buildings? With the changing demographics, could closing schools now be shortsighted? 3) Why can’t Johnny read? How can we actively engage more parents in a partnership to provide quality education for our children? Following the thirty-minute town hall meeting, each candidate will be given three minutes to give an introductory statement, followed by twenty minutes of questions and answers led by the moderator. Following questions from the moderator, the general public will be given an opportunity to ask questions for thirty minutes.


Democratic Primary Candidates Forum, May 31
Jan Eichhorn,

The third Democratic primary candidates forum cosponsored by the Ward 6 Democrats, Voice of the Hill newspaper, Capitol Hill Restoration Society, CHAMPS, Stanton Park Neighborhood Association, Hill East Waterfront Action Network, and DC for Democracy will be held on Wednesday, May 31, at Jefferson Jr. High School in SW. Doors open at 7 p.m. for a brief meeting. Forum begins at 7:30 p.m. Come early for good seats and easy parking! Jefferson Jr. High is on 7th Street, SW. Directions from the Hill: 1) exit the SE/SW Freeway at 7th Street SW, turn left for three blocks; the school will be on your right. 2) Take M Street, SE, past the Navy Yard until it turns into Maine Avenue; then turn right on 7th for two blocks. 3) Change to the Green line Metro at L’Enfant Plaza; take the Green line one stop to Waterside; walk up 6th Street to I Street, go left to 7th and walk right (north) for one block. Parking: There is free parking at the school, at the Waterside Mall on M Street, SW, and on Maine Avenue.

Participants: Councilmembers Vincent Gray and Kathy Patterson, candidates for DC Council Chair; and A. Scott Bolden and Councilmember Phil Mendelson, candidates for DC Councilmember At-Large. Moderator, Mark Plotkin.


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