themail.gif (3487 bytes)

July 12, 2006


Dear Trigger Fingers:

The gambling promoters behind the slots initiative insisted that they had enough valid signatures on their petition to get the initiative on the ballot in November, but that they simply chose not to submit the signatures to the Board of Elections. Rather than making that claim, wouldn’t it have been wiser for them simply to refuse comment? A bit of wisdom from, briefly describing a news item from ABC news: “The most important thing to remember when tucking a gun down the front of your pants is to keep your finger off the trigger.”

The controversy over messages from Jonathan Rees continues and gets more complex all the time. In the last issue of themail, I published an E-mail from “Tony Fisher,” who claimed that Jonathan Rees is really the “Ramon Rivera” who created a blog that is a personal attack on Bob Summersgill, because Summersgill criticized Rees in themail. Now “Ramon Rivera” has written an E-mail claiming that “Tony Fisher” is really Bob Summersgill; Jonathan Rees has written me that there really is a “Ramon Rivera” who has worked for him and who created the blog and that "Tony Fisher" is spreading lies about him; and it appears that “Tony Fisher” may also really be Rees himself.

Definitely read Mary-Frances Daly’s article on the New Town project in July’s Hill Rag ( New Town is being promoted by developer Sang Oi Choi, lawyer John Ray, and Councilmember Vincent Orange as a massive development that would replace the Florida Avenue Wholesale Market. All that it would require for the project to succeed is massive city investment in it, widespread jiggering of city laws and regulations, and — oh, of course, the use of eminent domain to seize the land from the other 69 landowners in the area who don’t want to sell their businesses and property to Choi. As Dorothy wrote in themail on June 21, Choi and some of his partners in the Korean American Business Association paid for Mayor Williams’s trip to Korea, accompanied him on it, and had private access to him for several days. Why don’t councilmembers and the mayor want to limit eminent domain so that it can be used to take land only for legitimate public uses? Because they like the benefits they get from being able to take your houses and your businesses to give to their favorite developers. The question is whether you like living in a city where your right to enjoy your own property is good only as long as somebody richer and more influential doesn’t get a pet politician to take it away from you.

Gary Imhoff


The Petition Post-Mortem
Dorothy Brizill,

As you probably know, the Video Lottery Terminal/Slots committee did not submit their petition to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics by the Monday deadline. As a result, the initiative will not be on the November ballot. It is unclear what the slots promoters will do now, since under DC law they have 180 days from the day they received the petition, or until December 11, to circulate the petitions and submit about 19,000 voter signatures to BOEE. They have a number of options, including tossing all the bad signatures they have gathered to date and starting the signature gathering process over, using DC residents as circulators this time; abandoning the effort; simply waiting for some of the negative publicity to die down, and then restarting the signature gathering process; and mounting a public relations campaign touting the benefits of slot machine gambling casinos. In any case, citizens must continue to remain vigilant, continue to observe and monitor the activities of petition circulators, and continue to document what they observe and forward their observations to the DC Board of Elections.

As I reported in the last issue of themail, I had a frightening experience, in which up to five men would follow me at one time in the final days before the petition submission deadline. I would like to thank all those people who called or E-mailed me to express their concern and support. And yes, I have filed a formal complaint with the authorities, since it is not only against the law to stalk someone, but also a violation of election law to threaten or intimidate a voter during the initiative signature gathering process. If anyone else has been harassed or intimidated by the slots petition circulators or promoters, please let me know. I am aware of at least one incident that occurred last Saturday at the Whole Foods Market on P Street; if there have been others, we need to document them.


Council Applauds Crime Wave
Matt Forman,

A newcomer to the city has his throat slashed in Georgetown while the assailants attempt to rape his female companion. An activist is shot in Mt. Vernon Square. Police announce a “crime emergency.” DC is the third most violent city among large US cities and has been for years (see, and FBI statistics at The majority of the council apparently approves of this crime wave by giving yet another vote of confidence to Chief Ramsey, who has reigned over this abysmal crime record since 1998, during which the city remained as murder capital. (See “Ramsey Era Brings Little Improvement,” The council voted 10-3 Tuesday to give police Chief Ramsey a major boost to his pension. This is after the council already gave Ramsey a salary increase from $150,000 to $175,000 a few years back. Only Catania, Fenty, and Patterson opposed the pension increase. This vote was only the “first read,” so let’s see how they vote on the second round.

Remember this vote as you head to the polls this fall to elect a new mayor, council chair, and various ward representatives.


Fraternal Order of Police Solicitation
Lawrence Sprowls, Dupont Circle,

You may have received a phone call from the Fraternal Order of Police DC Lodge #1 asking for a donation for the families of policemen killed in the line of duty. Before contributing, you should know that 85 percent of your donation will go to the marketing firm hired to solicit your support. So the suggested “gold” contribution of $35 would generate $5.25 (15 percent) for the families.

According to the phone solicitor, two years ago the FOP-DC ran the fundraising campaign itself and collected about $10,000. Last year, after it hired the marketing firm, it collected over $60,000. But to achieve this, citizens would have had to contribute over $400,000.

The American Institute of Philanthropy ( recommends that no more than 40 percent of a charity’s contributions be used for fundraising and general administration. The FOP-DC lodge maintains a web site at Should you wish to support this charity, you may want to contact the lodge to see if it will accept a donation directly.


The Council Needs to Stop This Train Wreck
Mary C. Williams, ANC 6D03,

The council should join David Catania in demanding that the administration be held accountable immediately for the construction problems of the baseball stadium. Catania said that the first step would be to sue the firm of Deloitte Touche to recapture the cost of the report and for damages. The firm was paid approximately $466,000 for an environmental analysis of the baseball site, Catania noted. The firm subcontracted the report to an environmental specialist, but then withheld important material information provided in the final report that caused the council to approve a total of $8 million for remediation. To date, however, the cost for remediation has topped $14 million and only a fraction of the site has been cleared. Catania noted that the information withheld from the council was to the detriment of this city, which now is obligated to pay all remediation costs and has set no limit on spending for this aspect of the ballpark. This cost comes from the general fund budget. So much for this stadium not costing taxpayers a penny, Mr. Mayor.

Meanwhile, Councilmembers Barry, Brown, and Gray have an opportunity to right the wrong done last year when they voted in favor of a city financed baseball stadium. The deal, which no one disputes was the worst possible ever made on behalf of this city, is spiraling out of control. That is why the three who so publicly betrayed their constituents should admit their mistake and attempt to redeem themselves by joining Catania, Graham, Fenty, and Mendelson in stopping this train wreck. At last Thursday’s Economic Development Committee hearing, the city’s Chief Financial Officer gave the council at least eleven reasons why the Western Development proposal, a thirteen-story structure consisting of two floors of underground parking, four floors of above parking that will be concealed on the nourished by condominiums, and a hotel, is not economically sound and a huge financial risk that he would not recommend. Among the top three reasons Gandhi listed: 1) Western Development has to provide adequate financing and the deal must be signed and in place by this September. Financing for a $300 million project takes more than two months. The financing is highly unlikely. 2) As proposed, the Western Development plan is about $9 million underfunded. The only way the numbers can work is if the city agrees to cut out all affordable housing requirements and community benefits, which means that there will be no LSDBE perks here. So much for making this a project to help the community. No LSDBE benefits here, Councilmember Brown. 3) Western Development would have to indemnify the city. The city is legally bound to the Nationals to have the baseball stadium and 1,225 parking spaces on site constructed by April 2008. If the city delegates that responsibility for the parking spaces to Western Development, the city would still be liable if the construction is not completed. Gandhi estimated that the city would suffer a loss of about $50 million minimum.

Given that the Western proposal calls for underground parking, which must be started as soon as possible in order to meet the deadline, and the stadium construction is also going on simultaneously on the same site, the physical maneuvering on this limited space may be the biggest challenge to city planners and the Sports and Entertainment Commission. No one mentioned how bringing in another contractor to share space on this site will change the Clark/Hunt/Smoot contract. There are many critical issues that have not been fully investigated but it appears that the Western Development, while an improvement over the "alleged" demand by the Lerners for only above ground parking garages, is not the best solution for this city. The only logical solution is for the city council to step up to the plate, bench the SEC, sack the administration’s highly-paid hacks, and send the rest of them back to the farm team. We need someone to appeal directly to Mr. Lerner in order to work out a better solution to this dilemma. My community wants a ballpark that will be an asset to the area, not a white elephant.

I recommend that the four councilmembers who clearly understood the need for accountability and transparency in government as it relates to this deal be appointed to meet with the Lerners immediately to try and work out a compromise that might include giving the city another year to fulfill all of its 1,225 parking spaces requirements on the site. The city might also explore the possibility of annexing additional property (WASA) to enlarge the baseball perimeter to provide the parking spaces. There are some other alternatives but all require additional time and money. The council should first weigh the cost of all damages that will have to be paid in 2008 (about $50 million plus) against the total loss of revenues over thirty years and the loss of community support and goodwill. It’s time the residents of this city speak up and be heard. Stop this train wreck.


EMS and Excessive Sirens
Daniel Wolkoff,

[From testimony to the city council] It should come as no surprise that the District’ 911, EMS, and Howard University’s Emergency Room committed multiple failures in the death of journalist David Rosenbaum. The Fire Department’s procedures are so rigid, antiquated, and overheated that they contributed to the failures the night David Rosenbaum was assaulted. The night that David Rosenbaum was injured, where were the one hundred ambulances in our fleet? Why were six ambulances waiting at Providence Hospital? Making non-critical runs, babysitting them, waiting for admissions? Were these critical, medical emergencies? Why wasn’t an ambulance closer and available sooner to David Rosenbaum? Why wasn’t Bethesda Chevy Chase Volunteer Rescue Squad called, since it is the nearest to Gramercy and 38th Streets, NW? The DC Emergency Medical Services system is a failure every day, and they disrupt city life with incredibly overpowered, deafening sirens. The judgments of our EMS, 911, and ER personnel during this tragic incident were poor, but the entire system is hyper, overheated, and endangering the city every day. The EMS procedures treat every single call as a manic emergency run. When every minor thing is such an “emergency,” then real emergencies are treated casually. This distortion and imbalance of Fire Department procedures contributed to the death of David Rosenbaum.

EMS personnel are rushed around to the point where they say they can’t even take bathroom breaks. They are diverted from one emergency run to another, coming and going with intense sirens blaring. They have to drive with the ambulance windows closed to block their own sirens, and Chief Martin said the Department actually handed out $1500 earplugs to reduce immediate hearing loss. Anyone spending eight hours rushing around with this destructive siren going would certainly have their judgment impaired. Exposure to these incredibly powerful sirens raises adrenaline, increases the risk of heart disease, damages hearing, ruins our sleep, and shortens our lives. Children in preschools on ambulance routes are bombarded by sirens all day, they’re guinea pigs, as no one knows the impact. Did you grow up this way?

It is a one-size-fits-all system. Sirens all the time every time, every transport, every response, coming and going over 120,000 times a year, making DC a noisy bedlam. This does not occur in normal communities. Maryland and New York and probably most everywhere follow sensible protocols that distinguish between real medical emergencies and non-urgent routine transports that use lights, not sirens. In Maryland, Priorities 1 and 2 are assigned to patients whose condition is determined to be an emergency, and they are transported with haste to the nearest hospital with sirens. But if a patient has been stabilized on the scene, the EMT in charge may determine that the patient can be transported in routine mode, with lights and no sirens. Maryland’s Priority 3 requires prompt medical attention for non-life-threatening conditions. They transport these patients to the hospital in routine mode, with lights and no sirens, saving many patients the anxiety and fright of incredibly loud sirens. However, the District’s emergency rooms are full of patients who have been transported and disturbed by the unnecessary use of sirens. Even a heart attack patient is better served by arriving quickly to the emergency room without the fearful agitation of rushing with loud sirens. Maryland’s Priority 4 “non-urgent” patients are advised by the dispatcher that their condition does not require the use of an emergency medical vehicle. That is sensible, but our EMS is spending the day picking up the homeless, alcoholics, perfectly healthy people committing insurance fraud, or people going to medical appointments using the ambulance for so-called “bus rides.” Perhaps the District picks everybody and anybody just to make money from Medicaid applications. The District of Columbia has no protocols, just a list of patient conditions, all treated the same way, speeding, running red lights, running stop signs, sirens wailing automatically.


Inspection Line and Petition Workers
Ruth Holder, rutheholder at yahoo dot com

This morning, I got my car inspected, and the whole experience took fewer than fifteen minutes. Add that to the list of things that are working in DC!

When exiting the station, I was asked by petitioners to sign a petition for gambling. I declined, then asked the man where he lived. He replied that he lived in California, then pointed to a woman in a wheelchair next to him and said that was his DC witness. I asked the woman where she lived in DC, and she said "DC! Just DC! Why are you quizzing me?"

I did not press the matter, but wonder whether they are required to show identification or give an address (or at least a neighborhood) to the citizens whom they approach — or to anyone else? Anyone can say they live in DC, if they don’t have to prove it.


Rants and the Ranting Ranters Who Rant Them
Sue Hemberger, Friendship Heights,

Speaking of rants, Tom Smith’s post re ANC Commissioner Alma Gates [themail, July 9] is the second such nastygram of his I’ve read this week. Character assassination aside, both diatribes have been virtually content-free. It’d be one thing if Smith had argued that DC government’s failure to respond in an effective and timely manner to the concerns about flooding that Palisades residents have been raising for at least five years played no role in the destruction of the Quandt home. But he doesn’t make such a claim; in fact, he suggests we should ignore whether Gates’s criticisms (of Kathy Patterson, among others) are legitimate, and condemn Gates for being confrontational rather than cooperative.

Having worked with Alma Gates on development issues in Ward 3 over the past few years, I’ve been continually impressed by her helpfulness and, in particular, by the knowledge and focus she brings to bear on environmental issues. It’s also worth remembering that ANC commissioners are, by definition, in an “advisory” role, not a policy-making one. So whether or not Gates’s comments are productive depends, ultimately, on whether councilmembers like Kathy Patterson, who are in a position to take effective action, respond to the concerns raised by their ANCs.

From this perspective, Gates is just doing her job when she speaks up about what’s going wrong and lets us know when her advice isn’t being listened to or acted upon. Conversely, Patterson isn’t doing her job if, as Smith seems to imply, she only listens to people who refrain from criticizing her.


Palisades Flooding
Michael Leaveck, Palisades,

I am writing to take strong exception to the insensitive and ill-informed comments of Tom Smith regarding the recent flooding in the Palisades, which he seems to doubt even happened [themail, July 9].

I live across the alley from the most severely flood-damaged property and the heir to that property, Ms. Caroline Quandt, is living with my wife and me while extensive and necessary repairs are accomplished and she can move back in to her house. The flooding was real, the devastation is real, and the deliberate and unconscionable ducking of the underlying drainage problem by city officials over the past five years is also very real. Mr. Smith is evidently unaware that flash flooding knocked an equally large hole in Ms. Quandt’s foundation once before in 2001.

As Mr. Smith claims to be a resident of this ANC, I would advise that he take a short drive over to our neighborhood and take a look for himself. He could easily see the collapsed foundation of Ms. Quandt’s house by driving through the alley off Macomb between Sherier and MacArthur. I see it from my windows every day. Alma Gates, ANC 3-D Chair, has been one of the few DC officials to take the problem of stormwater management in the Palisades seriously. Her concerns, as well as those voiced by Caroline Quandt and her neighbors, including myself, have repeatedly been met with patronizing yet dismissive reactions by the rest of the city government, including our council member.


Everyday Math
Susan Gushue,

[Re: Barry Garelick, themail, July 9] I am a math teacher and tutor and have been for over twenty-five years. According to research on student achievement and retention of content over the long haul Everyday Math and Investigations came out at the top of a National Science Foundation research project on math programs that work. No single math program is perfect, but Everyday Math is very, very good. It is well designed and although it has been a good program from its inception it has been getting better by incorporating concerns about its effectiveness in teaching basic facts. It is really a great step forward for the system to have adopted this system.

I am not a DCPS elementary school teacher, so I don’t know how much training the teachers were given to learn to use the program. I have been a math resource teacher for elementary school and a middle school math teacher as well as currently being a high school math teacher. Professional development and parent buy-in are often the key to whether a program works or not. Success isn’t as dependent on the book as it is on the program’s implementation. As a disclaimer, let me say Everyday Math isn’t my first choice; it would be my second. I prefer another top-rated program, Investigations, but that requires much more upfront work with teachers to be implemented well, and I think DCPS made a very pragmatic choice. Everyday Math does not require as much professional development or teacher planning to be a good program. It can be very, very effective when carried out well.

For those of you who are interested in math instruction I highly recommend the site A couple of other recommendations: Beyond Facts and Flashcards by Jan Makros, games by the company thinkfun (available at Barnes and Noble and Child’s Play among others), and Marilyn Burn’s books The I Hate Mathematics Book and Math for Smarty Pants. I don’t work for DCPS or NCTM.


Clyde Howard,

In themail [July 9], Dorothy Brizill indicated that she is being tailed by unsavory characters with the intent to intimidate her into not being seen or heard about the corruption in acquiring signatures on the petition for slots in DC. BOEE is not doing its job, and that gives the appearance that they are part and parcel of the shady goings on. No wonder Mr. Bow Tie is bailing out of the mayorship; the workings of his administration put you in mind of some third world government. Perhaps, Dorothy, you may need to call in the FBI or Homeland Security to investigate not only the shady characters tailing you but the members of the BOEE as well. They don’t seem to realize that they will be culpable in any legal proceedings. You must remember that the money behind this is unclean; calling in the FBI would not be a bad idea. Why wait until further threats become physical?


Fenty’s Test: Another Perspective
Wanda Morsell,

Responding to Larry Sefton on his offering in the mail called “Fenty’s Test” [themail, July 9]. Well Larry, you could look at this another way. I imagine that Mr. Skinner is still working on Fenty’s campaign because when Fenty was contacted concerning Mr. Skinner’s debt, he told him, “You pay up or you don’t work with me.” So the fact that Skinner is still there shows that Fenty required him to do the right thing.

Sure, you can simply fire and disassociate yourself from folk, but a better and stronger characteristic would be to make folk tow the line and take responsibility. You can’t always throw out the baby with the bath water, especially when the baby has potential, talent, and smarts (or is just cute — smile, it’s a joke). As mayor he will need this strength, because there just aren’t enough bullets for the number of incompetents in DC government who need to face the firing squad.



Fish Fry Benefit, July 14
Linda Leaks,

Fish fry with veggie burgers and a video screening of "A Hero Ain’t Nothing But A Sandwich," with Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield. Friday, July 14, 5:30 p.m., at 2548 University Place, NW, between. Euclid and Clifton Streets 14th and 15th Streets. Proceeds to benefit the Ella Jo Baker Intentional Community Cooperative for Social Justice Activists. RSVP 232-2548.


Talk: Free and Low-Cost Internet Resources for Small Businesses, July 15
Barbara Conn,

During this lively and interactive event, Julia Loughran, president and owner of ThoughtLink, Inc., discusses a myriad of information technology resources that are only a click away on the Internet. These resources provide a springboard for anyone interested in starting a new business or in expanding or adding a new product or service to an existing business. The technologies and resources include collaboration tools, web site development tools, and templates for business plans. There will be a handout.

Gather your colleagues, friends, and family members and bring them this Saturday, July 15, at 1:00 p.m. (check-in: 12:30 p.m.) to this talk presented by the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (E&C SIG). This free event will be held at the Cleveland Park Library (second floor large meeting room) at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW -- just over a block from the Cleveland Park Metrorail Station on the Red Line. For more information about this event, speaker Julia Loughran, and CPCUG (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization), and, to register, visit


National Building Museum Events, July 18, 20
Lauren Searl,

Tuesday, July 18, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Smart Growth: The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise. Washington Post reporter Michael Grunwald will discuss his argument outlined in his new book The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise (Simon & Schuster) that any successful attempt to save and restore the Everglades will have to include smart growth. Free. Registration not required.

Thursday, July 20, reception 6:30-7:00 p.m., lecture 7:00-8:30 p.m. Spotlight on Design: Stefan Behnisch. Earlier this year, Harvard University announced the selection of the German architecture firm Behnisch Architects as the designer for the Harvard Stem Cell Institute on the University’s Allston campus. The co-founding principal and lead designer for the project, Stefan Behnisch, will discuss the studio’s environmentally-friendly "green" building designs, including the Allston project, which is the second major commission in the United States for the Stuttgart-based firm. For the Genzyme Corporation’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA, Behnisch Architects was awarded a platinum LEED rating, the highest environmental rating from the US Green Building Council. $12 Museum members; $17 nonmembers; $5 students. Prepaid registration required. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


Deanwood History Storytelling Event, July 22
Laura Brower,

The Deanwood History Committee will sponsor a Deanwood history storytelling event on Saturday, July 22, 1-4 p.m., at the IDEA Public Charter School, 1027 45th Street, NE. Has your family been in Deanwood for generations? Did you once visit Suburban Gardens? Do you have pictures of Carver School? Do you have memories of Sparrows Beach? These are some of the questions members of the Deanwood History Committee will ask Washingtonians during a memory-sharing session on Saturday, July 22 at 1 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

The afternoon will feature storytelling and picture sharing with former and current Deanwood residents. Volunteers and members of the Deanwood History Committee will take oral histories and scan photographs for an upcoming book project and Neighborhood Heritage Trail. A project of Cultural Tourism DC, Heritage Trails consist of poster-sized street signs combining history with photography.

The Deanwood History Committee is supported by the DC Historic Preservation Office, the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization. For more information, contact Kia Chatmon, 543-9514 or


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)