themail.gif (3487 bytes)

July 9, 2006


Dear Intimidators:

Here’s wonderful news for literature lovers. The first annual World E-Book Fair (, which is normally just $8.95 a year anyway, is free to the public until August 4, and will be free again for one month a year in the future. It offers free downloads of over a third of a million books and other documents, and combines the offerings of Project Gutenberg, the World Public Library, and a number of other publishers. Some of these books are available free at their sponsors’ sites all the time; others are free for just this limited period. Online books is an example of how the world can get better. Anyone who has Internet access can now download and own a personal library of all the world’s greatest books, or at least those that are out of copyright. This would be major news, if anyone still read the world’s greatest books.

Gary Imhoff


Dorothy Brizill,

As Gary and I wrote in the last issue of themail (July 5), last Wednesday I went to the monthly meeting of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics and told them about the massive violations of the District’s elections laws being committed by the circulators of the slots initiative petition. As we reported, the Board refused to send its own observers to confirm and verify the violations, and said that it was the burden of any citizens who wanted to challenge the petition to attempt to prove the violations being by out-of-state petition circulators after they had finished their work, turned in the petition, and left town. In her ruling, Board Chairman Wilma Lewis stressed that the Board’s role was to adjudicate election disputes, not to police and enforce the District‘s election laws.

At the Board meeting, I strenuously objected, noting that many of the out-of-state circulators were extremely aggressive, and that citizens lacked any legal authority to question the circulators regarding their legal residency. I said that the BOEE had the staff (35-40 employees) and legal mandate to investigate violations of election laws (DC Code 1-1001.05(e)(2)), and shouldn’t require citizens to jeopardize their own personal safety. In the past few days, my own experience has proven that fears about personal safety are well grounded. On Saturday, I left my house about 9:00 a.m., and noticed three men standing around a pick-up truck parked in my block. I passed them and walked the few blocks to the Metro. There I saw two of the men whom I had just seen run down the stairs as I took the escalator. I ran some errands downtown and took the Metro a second time to the BOEE office at One Judiciary Square, where I stayed for about a half hour. When I came out, one of the men who had been on my block and on the Metro to downtown was waiting outside. He followed me closely, and by this time I realized that I was being followed and was somewhat fearful, so I turned around quickly and took his photograph with my pocket digital camera. Then I decided that I needed to find a police officer, so I walked to the Municipal Center and persuaded an officer in the lobby of the building to speak to and identify the man who had been following me, and who continued to wait at the curb just outside the door for me to exit. The man admitted to the officer that he had been following me, but said that he thought I was someone else whom he knew. The police officer insisted that I exit by the back entrance of the Municipal Center, where another of the men following me was waiting for me. As I took his photograph, he got a cell phone call and left.

Later in the day, the same three men I had identified were back in our block, parked in their pick-up truck, and a fourth man was parked in an SUV across the street. Gary and I took still and video photographs of all of them and got their license plate numbers. Today, one of them was back on the street again, along with a fifth man whom we had seen walk through our back yard and stand in front of our house on Thursday. When we spoke to our neighbors, they said that they had seen some of these men in our block on several days in the past week, and had asked them what they were doing — they claimed that they were police officers doing observations of drug activity. It is clear to me that the only people who would hire so many men to watch me and my house for days on end would be the financial backers of the slots initiative, and that their purpose in stalking me so obviously was not to shadow me and report on my activities, but to intimidate and threaten me. But I don’t blame the gambling promoters — this kind of unscrupulous behavior comes naturally to them. I blame the BOEE, whose refusal to do their job in investigating and preventing violations of election law subjects citizens to this kind of intimidation.


New Power for Chief; Stripping Rights from Employees
Kathryn A. Pearson-West,

See the Washington Times article, “New Powers Eyed for DC Fire Chief,” This brings up more issues for debate in terms of Emergency Medical Services. Is there a way to instill effective leadership and the proper work ethic without stripping employees of their rights? Does one need to enforce and follow the rules or demolish them? Are employees presumed guilty first without due process? Is there a way to maintain the rights of employees and change the culture of government, or specifically EMS?

Is there already a way to document employees to bring out the proper dismissal, reprimands, or punishment? How do you deal with apathy and leadership issues? Is the city opening up doors and setting a precedent to move to other agencies? Were the current employment rules set up to curb potential abuse and are there any ramifications if they are changed? Sometimes “lead, follow, or get out of the way” is the best policy. A little food for thought as we consider changing the rules in this political climate. But then this may be an issue for union leaders.


A Golden Opportunity
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

With the dismissals of 370 uncertified public school teachers and the expected retirement of many more teachers with questionable credentials before the next school year begins, there will be as many as 750 teacher openings. That’s a golden opportunity to bring in some very qualified and experienced teachers into the DC public schools. To get the best teachers aboard, though, will take some creative recruiting. It is essential that recruitment bonuses and other perks be put into packages that will encourage as many qualified candidates to apply as possible. It’s time to put a bonus system into practice that will reward exceptional teachers and to attract good teachers who have opted to teach outside the District in Virginia and Maryland.


Everyday Mathematics in DCPS
Barry Garelick,

Last year the DC Public School system adopted the textbook Everyday Mathematics for K-5. I, and others, prepared testimony that we submitted to the DCPS Board of Education. We presented arguments against the adoption of this program, which is inferior for a number of reasons. The Board responded at the hearing that such testimony was long on opinion and short on fact. They then brought forth their witnesses (a teacher, a professor of who-knows-what at Georgetown, and another teacher) all saying they thought the program was good. I didn’t hear Ms. Ortiz claim that such testimony was long on opinion and short on fact. Rather, she thanked them for such informative testimony. The board then voted to adopt the textbooks.

I have written various articles about the crisis in math education, and wish to write about what has happened during the first year of implementation of Everyday Mathematics in DC public schools. If anyone has any direct experience, good or bad, with this program, either as a parent, teacher, or from other means, could you please let me know? I need to gather information on what, if anything, has happened with the program, how parents/students have done with it, how teachers are coping with it, do they supplement it, have they received professional development, and if so, what kind. Contact me at the E-mail address above.


The Rosenbaum Gamble
Leo Alexander, Ward 4,

On June 30, I attended a committee meeting chaired by At-Large DC City Councilman Phil Mendelson, where the official results of the Rosenbaum autopsy were released to the public. First of all, they say these meetings are open to the public, and they are, but if you’re going there expecting to ask any questions, you may as well forget it. It’s not that kind of party. The public is welcome as observers only. That being the case, it literally made no sense for Mendelson to ask that the public introduce themselves, because those were the last words we spoke. The other thing you’ll notice right away is that you won’t be able to follow much of the meeting, because the committee members won’t speak into their microphones. So there we sat, for two hours, eight concerned citizens straining to hear. Watching Mendelson chair that meeting reminded me that his seat on the council was up for grabs; and that this time he only faces one challenger, A. Scott Bolden — no hope on splitting the vote east of the park this time around.

This is what I got out of their second meeting. Committee member Dr. David Milzman, of Washington Hospital Center, was asked what he thought the problems with Emergency Medical Services were, and he said, “This problem began in June of 2001 (with the closing of DC General Hospital). DC’s EMS system has been in trouble ever since.” At that point I wanted to lean over and ask George Clark, President of the DC Federation of Citizens Association and seated in the gallery with me, “So why is it again that your organization hasn’t come out in support of the National Capital Medical Center?” Before the meeting started, he told me with a smug expression on his face that his group “hasn’t taken a vote on that.” In other words, that’s your problem east of North Capital Street, not ours. Tell that to the family of David Rosenbaum. It didn’t matter that Rosenbaum was white, had a distinguished career, and lived in a nice community west of the park. It didn’t matter that he had insurance, because his wallet was stolen. But there he was, caught up in the system, lying on a stretcher in a hospital on the other side of town. I’d be willing to bet that his primary care physician didn’t see patients at Howard University Hospital, but none of that mattered when he was left lying on a gurney in that hallway for hours waiting to be treated. How long are his neighbors west of the park going to play DC roulette, the Rosenbaum gamble, and act as though this problem will never affect them? How many more people have to die before the National Capital Medical Center begins to make sense? Just ask any first responder in the District, and they will tell you that when it came to blunt or penetrating trauma, DC General was where they would’ve wanted to be taken, because it was the best in the mid-Atlantic region.

Just think about that the next time you’re driving your family around in the District, or taking an after dinner stroll. You may as well bet with your life, and watch that DC roulette wheel spin, because the law of averages says that ball could stop on your number and make you the next winner of the Rosenbaum EMS prize — a one-way ticket to the other side of town, because your neighborhood ER is overcrowded. So when you or your loved one is lying there unattended and misdiagnosed waiting for treatment, don’t say you didn’t know. Just remember the community organization which is supposed to look out for your best interests didn’t take a vote on that issue.


Apologies and Compromises to No One
Timothy Cooper,

DC Votes’ newly articulated position regarding the DC First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary, which seems to embrace the distinct possibility of retreating from existing DC law in favor of a “nominating primary or caucus to be among the first in the nation” (emphasis added), as potentially sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, requires examination on strategic grounds.

Even if the DNC were to acquiesce to the lamentations of the DC Democratic State Committee (which is highly unlikely, but not impossible), the placement of DC as a second caucus after Iowa would not carry the same substantive weight that a DC First-in-the-Nation presidential primary would. Other than Iowa’s, state caucuses in general have never garnered much significant national attention. At least nowhere near the rapt attention showered on Iowa. It’s simply wishful thinking to believe that a DC “second-in-the-nation caucus” will generate the same level of interest as DC’s First-in-the-Nation Primary, controversial though it may be.

In any event, in the distinct likelihood that the DNC will fail to grant DC a prime spot “before the window” primary, the mayor, DC council and the DC Democratic State Committee should have the courage of their convictions and fully align themselves with the DC First-in-the-Nation primary, and elect delegates to the Democratic National Convention, notwithstanding the fact that it would break DNC party rules. Controversy is a very, very good thing for the District’s centuries-old political struggle. To turn away from controversy, for the sake of political etiquette and sweet conformity, is meekness clothed as activism. After all, Fannie Lou Hammer was the embodiment of controversy, as was Dr. Martin Luther King, and the deeply courageous and combative US civil rights movement. Controversy is the father of history. DC should stick to its law and maintain its position of primary supremacy. If nothing else, it will demonstrate our seriousness of purpose and unflinching desire to turn history on its side — our side — and win fundamental political rights with apologies and compromises to no one.


Milloy Comes A-Knockin’
Malcolm Wiseman,

Thanks to Mr. Barron, for the hands we find so at arm’s length in DC! If, as he writes [themail, July 5], “DC is not a charitable case compared to many third world countries,? then I ask, is it so when compared to what? Some other capital in a second-world country? Wherever be our comparative, make sure to weigh in balance another capital which also denies to its residents basic human and political rights. It won’t be that easy to find, since few so-called “third-world” democracies colonize their capital city.

As the senior Mr. Barron admonishes us to discover, yes we have “hands” at the end of our arms, yet compared to a first-class citizen anywhere else in the world, our hands don’t have all the fingers. Those fingers are the human rights that free people use to buttress and motivate themselves forward. If one thinks that being denied the "finger-right" to self-govern autonomously, for two centuries surrounded in a sea-country of full-fingered Americans, has not done severe and lasting damage to the populace of Washington City, then he must be ignorant of the facts and realities. He’s ignoring recent reports and decisions of international bodies, not heeding our history, not walking in our DC shoes. Most people in this country, in the world even, are ignorant of the absolute and peculiar authoritarian power that Congress wields over its capital residents. Everyone outside a hundred mile radius believes (they don’t think about it) that we are free, just like them. It’s those people close-by who know the situation whom I call to task. Instead of waving the flag and urging Congress to right the original wrong done to their neighbors, many do nothing but carp about us and rationalize the policy. (Yeh, Happy Independence Day to you, too!)

In any political system, even a colony, first-world DC and its rich and powerful will manage just fine. It’s the middle-class and poor who need DC statehood. So, while I thought Mr. Milloy’s article on Mr. Gates’ charitable giving was excellent, instead of spreading around billions of dollars to the usual programs, the greater gift would be that Bill buy us statehood. Some, especially among the poor, might say take the money, but in the long run they’d be wrong. Our playing field, still stateless and tilted, will eventually sap the sudden individual gifts. It would be like giving the money to a third-world dictatorship, or maybe second-world. And I’ll bet Bill could get it for a lot less than $34 billion!

My rant here is not original. It sounds like an echo to me of the sort that comes from us DC statehood supporters whenever we hear elitist remarks about our colonial hometown and the rotten bootstraps with the arms and hands and stuff. Perhaps Gary should have a Usual Complaints section below the Classifieds to put rants like mine and the other post from Mr. Barron about "typical bureaucrats without a clue."


DC Estate Tax and Drivers License Renewal
John Henry Wheeler,

I read Ed Barron’s complaint about DC’s estate tax [themail, June 25] on the same day Warren Buffet announced that he was giving billions of dollars to the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. Ed suggested moving to Virginia to avoid estate taxes. I suggest leaving your money to the charity of your choice. You can create a charitable remainder trust and enjoy income from your donation without having to pay capital gains taxes on the sale of assets. That beats moving to Virginia!

[Re: Ed Barron’s posting about doctor’s letter being required for renewal of driver’s license for people over sixty, themail, July 5] Two weeks ago I renewed my drivers license on-line and wasn’t required to provide any documentation from a doctor. I had to answer some questions about my health. I received the license about three days later.


Who Played that Latin Polka?
Dave Bosserman,

Josh Gibson asked who played the Latin Polka at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. I worked the “Chicago Latino” part of the festival and can tell you that many polkas and waltzes were played by several groups, but called “Latin Polka.” Latin is an older term outsiders used for things Latin American and now generally has been replaced by Latino. Secondly, the many polkas and other dances all have their own names. You probably heard a polka played in the popular Chicago style called “Pasita Duranguense,” or Durango Steps in English. Chicago invented this newest style based on the drum and brass town band music of Durango and other northern states. They threw in other styles popular in Mexico and in Chicago to satisfy a larger audience, laying down a steady hot beat as the base for their reinterpretations of many existing styles.

Glad you liked it; the Festival rides again Friday through Tuesday, July 7-11, from 11-5:30. An all-new roster of Chicago Latino artists and performers will show more of Latino culture in Chicago.


Fenty’s Test
Larry Seftor, larry underscore seftor .the555 at

Many, many years ago I entered the Air Force by going though a period of basic training. The emphasis of a lot of it seemed off the mark to me. After all, I didn’t see how my ability to defend the country was tied to my ability to perfectly polish a pair of boots, make a bed, or wax a floor. But it was explained to me that the ability to assimilate a set of instructions and then complete a task to perfection was what being an airman was about. Before they trusted me to complete tasks in a missile silo (or a laboratory in my case) they wanted to make sure I could reliably complete tasks in a more mundane setting.

The election campaign is the mundane setting in which we assess the ability and character of candidates. What happens in a campaign is really not important except for what it tells us about what we can expect if a candidate is elected. So it really doesn’t matter whether Adrian Fenty keeps Mr. Skinner on his campaign, except for what it tells us about how Fenty will operate if elected mayor. Mr. Fenty should make a decision based on what is best for his campaign and not out of loyalty to Skinner, just as our new mayor should make staffing decisions on the basis of what is best for DC and not personal relationships. Fenty is badly flunking his test.

[To understand who Mr. Skinner is, and what Larry Seftor’s issue with him is, see Seftor’s posting in themail on July 2. — Gary Imhoff]


The Ward 3 City Council Race Is a Major Mystery
Jonathan R. Rees,

Ask the Ward 3 candidates and they will tell you that they are still confronted every day with voters who still believe that Kathy Patterson is seeking reelection to her Ward 3 seat, and when we tell them that she is not, we get the same response, "Since when"! This is happening in about one of every three voters we talk to. Of course, each of the candidates is certain he or she has the best shot at winning and is the best qualified, but still there is a frustration over facing voters who believe that on September 12 Kathy Patterson will be a choice for Ward 3 city council. Do not take my word for it; ask the other Ward 3 candidates if this is not a frustration.

Some of the candidates believe this fact could impact on the outcome of the Ward 3 race when voters on September 12 go to the polls and see that Kathy Patterson not on the ballot, and that may force a third of voters to scramble to pick a name ad hoc. I harp on this issue because I have never before confronted voters who were so in the dark about a sitting councilmember who is not seeking reelection, but who has failed to let her constituents know this in a way where there is no confusion about it. I think Kathy Patterson owes the voters some word that she is not seeking reelection to her Ward 3 seat.

Again, this is failure of Eric Marshall to let voters know what his candidate is running for. Do all the Ward 3 candidates have to take out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to announce that Kathy Patterson is not running?


Controversy in themail
Tony Fisher,

I thought I would let you know about what happens to somebody who criticizes Jonathan Rees in themail. This is a blog that Rees created about Bob Summersgill, who posted about Rees in themail:


Rantings from an ANC Commissioner
Tom Smith,

For the last several weeks, readers have been treated to a series of rants from ANC 3D05 Commissioner Alma Gates about problems with flooding in the Palisades. For those of us who live in that ANC, we hear the rantings more often and over a variety of issues — the latest being plans by Sibley Hospital to expand health care services in the area.

Whether her concerns about Palisades flooding are legitimate or not, there is a better way to deal with problems than resorting to the types of rantings that have characterized her tenure on the ANC. Instead of rolling up her sleeves and trying to work effectively with people, including Councilmember Patterson’s office, Ms. Gates instead always seems first to want to criticize or condemn — or even worse to act unilaterally without considering all the ramifications of her actions. We need leaders at all levels of government who are committed to working together cooperatively to solve problems instead of always throwing darts, like children playing "gotcha."



Fraud Awareness Week, July 9
Michelle Phipps-Evans,

With the recent discovery that 13,000 District employees may have their identities compromised because of a stolen ING-owned laptop, the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) has doubled its efforts in its continuing fight against fraud. DISB has joined the worldwide effort spearheaded by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners -- a global association of members in more than one hundred countries dedicated to fighting fraud -- as it supports National Fraud Awareness Week, July 9-14. This information-driven campaign is committed to increasing fraud awareness and promoting the fight against various types of fraud, whether it is insurance, security or banking fraud. According to a 2004 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, US entities lose more than $600 billion annually to fraud and abuse.

DISB launched its local campaign with a proclamation to declare the fight against fraud by increasing consumer awareness and reducing risk. During the week, DISB will send out daily information and tips on different types of fraud, how to recognize fraud and how to fight against it. District residents needing more information on Fraud Awareness Week or to report suspected fraud, should contact DISB at 727-8000 or its Enforcement and Investigation Bureau at 727-1563. Also, visit DISB’s Web site at for more information on fighting fraud.


Community Schools Through the Arts, July 13
Dorothy Marschak,

You are invited to a workshop on forming collaborative music and arts projects between different DC schools or after-school programs. CHIME volunteer Claire Davis will report on, and show video clips from, her Choral Connections project this year between Stoddert and Amidon Elementary schools, and then participants will share ideas about forming other such projects. These projects not only bring students together from different neighborhoods and backgrounds, but also serve to bring their parents together and strengthen parent organizations. July 13, 4-6 p.m.; please contact CHIME for location and to RSVP.


National Building Museum Events, July 16-17
Lauren Searl,

Sunday, July 16, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Film: Louis I. Kahn: An Offering to Architecture. The 20th century American architect Louis I. Kahn was known for his monumental forms that used the simple geometry of squares, circles, and triangles. This film (1992, 58 minutes) focuses on Kahn’s mature work and his talent and character that created his famous architecture. The film is narrated by Kahn himself, using audio recordings of the many talks he gave around the world. Free. Registration not required.

Monday, July 17, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Lecture: The Amazing Brick. Brick has been used in vast amounts of construction projects for centuries and has withstood the test of time. Dr. James Campbell, fellow in architecture and the history of art at Queens’ College in Cambridge, England, and the author of Brick: A World History, will discuss the evolution of this simple material in the fields of architecture and engineering. This lecture complements the exhibition Cityscapes Revealed: Highlights from the Collection, which will be open for viewing and material exploration. $10 Members and students; $15 Nonmembers. Registration required. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


Mayoral Candidates’ Forum on Statehood, July 21
Karen Szulgit,

The Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition and the League of Women Voters/DC will cosponsor a forum focusing on the state of DC democracy and what specific plans the candidates have to transform The Last Colony into a Free DC. Friday, July 21st, 6:30, 8:30 p.m., second floor community room, The Reeves Center, 2000 14th Street, NW. For more info, call Stand Up!’s Events Hotline at 232-2500, ext. 1, or visit


Seventh Annual Dog Days of August Sidewalk Sale and Festival, August 5-6
Scott Pomeroy,

The MidCity Business Association ( will hold its Seventh Annual Dog Days of August Sidewalk Sale and Festival on 14th Street, U Street, and P Street, NW, and in the surrounding community, on August 5, 10-7, and August 6, 11-5. The festival showcases the unique, vibrant, exciting businesses, experiences, and living opportunities available in the MidCity by featuring shopping specials, sidewalk cafes, and cultural attractions.

On Saturday from 12-5 p.m. visit the MidCity Development Showcase at the Reeves Building at 14th and U produced by the Cardozo Shaw Neighborhood Association ( in partnership with the MidCity Business Association For information regarding the Development Showcase please contact Jon Kardon at 302-3665 or

We are anticipating well over one hundred participating MidCity businesses and organizations and a weekend that will be featuring shopping specials of up to 75 percent off; the third annual "Best in Show" dog contest; cool drinks, lemonade stands, and bbq’s; the MidCity Development Showcase; dog rescue adoptions; sidewalk cafés with lunch specials; the DC tax-free holiday on individual clothing under $100; MidCity artists displays and gallery showings; and walking tours and museum visits. As you wind down from your day after hours of bargain shopping and lot’s of good fun, continue your exploration of everything there is to experience on U Street, 14th Street, P Street, 9th Street and in the entirety of MidCity. Enjoy live music at 9:30 Club, Twins Jazz, or the Black Cat, dine at dozens of MidCity restaurants, or have coffee at Sparkys, 24-7, or Mocha Hut before a night out in MidCity. Find out about all the options MidCity has to offer at our event web site:


Argumentation Academy, August 7-11
Colin B. Touhey,

The DC Urban Debate League (DCUDL) will conduct its free Argumentation Academy for high school students at the University of the District of Columbia from August 7 through 11, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Participants will receive training in the art of debate from an outstanding faculty as well as free breakfast and lunch. Call Carlos Varela, DCUDL Program Director, at 341-5083 or for more information.



Full Time Legal Assistant
Jon Katz, jon at markskatz dot com

Silver Spring. Attention Litig. legal assistants: seeking a career boost? Apply now to our highly-rated criminal/civil lititigation firm. We offer reasonable hours, aggressive pay ($30K-$60K), benefits, and training package to attract and retain the best. Please apply only if you have a minimum of one year litigation experience, are smart, and work efficiently. Fax 301-495-8815,


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

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

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