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August 2, 2006


Dear Hot Stuff:

Heat. Heat makes people stupid. I know that I’ve written that I love summer and detest the cold of winter, that I’d like to live on a tropical island, But enough is enough, and a hundred degrees for days in a row is more than enough. It’s not enough that the heat makes you exhausted and drained, sweaty and uncomfortable. The heat makes you stupid. Think of it. Have you had a conversation with anyone over the past few days that was any deeper than, “Hot enough for you?” “Some heat, huh?” “Is it hot out there?” With all the events going on, has local news concentrated on anything other than man-on-the-street interviews asking, "How are you coping with this heat?"

And look at the introduction to themail. What’s it about? If anyone asked you, would you say there was anything new, creative, or particularly interesting in it? No, you would say it was just stupid.

I blame it on the heat.

Gary Imhoff


Can Ward 1 Democrats Stand Together?
William Jordan,

Recently, the Ward One Democrats, Inc., I believe that’s their official name, circulated an E-mail with their endorsements for mayor, council chair, and council-at-large seats. Soon afterwards E-mails were circulated reminding readers that the Ward One Democrats Inc. was a rogue organization and that the true Ward One Democrats would announce their endorsements soon. It was also noted with pride that the true Ward One Democrats included some of the rogue Ward One Democrats in their efforts. The exchange reminded me of the foolishness a few years ago where at least three groups claimed to be the true leaders of Ward One Democrats. I guess this is the type of leadership that helps our area become the one with rising robbery rates helping to trigger our current crime emergency with no coherent plan to address it, while having the most development outside of downtown.

Given that Ward 1 is in a sense a microcosm of the opportunities and issues that the city as a whole will face as we continue to redevelop, I thought was that a thorough airing of issues in this year’s Ward 1 council race would benefit not only the ward, but also the entire city. Also, given that one of the jobs of ward committees is to inform and educate voters about issues and candidates, I dashed off an E-mail to both Ward 1 Democratic organizations asking that they work together to host four outdoor debates for the Ward 1 council seat. I said, let’s take this to the streets and have outdoor debates to maximize visibility and impact, and four debates to cover the four major areas of the Ward. I figured, if the Ward 1 Democrats can’t work together in the interest of ward residents, that maybe they could at least fight together for our benefit. I even offered a $50 donation to help fund the debates. I received a reply from the rogue organization saying they would consider it. After two E-mails, I have not even received the courtesy of a reply from the official organization of Ward 1 Democrats.

As a registered Ward 1 Democrat, in a ward facing opportunities and pressures from housing, to education, to recreation/public space management, to public safety, to how so many different peoples and individuals are going to share such a small space, I wonder whether this lack of civic leadership from Ward 1 Democrats makes sense to you? Why do our party leaders lack the maturity to work together? Is there something I don’t understand? Why is the Ward most in need of consensus among its Democratic leadership do disjointed? Is this typical across the city?


Stadium Costs Escalating Beyond Cap
Shawn McCarthy,

[An open letter to DC councilmembers] The residents and taxpayers of the District of Columbia have been told by members of the DC council that the baseball stadium has a $611 million cap on spending from city resources for the new stadium project. But the council is now being asked to violate its mandate to hold costs at $611 million. As reported by WTOP on July 26, “At a recent stadium task force meeting, DC councilmembers were told [in the likely event that developer Herb Miller’s parking plan isn’t in place by mid-August] they would need to amend the current stadium legislation to waive the cap on spending and approve the additional costs.”

According to reports on the three fallback parking options from District Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, the Council would need to vote on raising DC taxpayer costs for the stadium to somewhere between $655 million and $709 million. As the overruns and risks build, the Wall Street bond issuers are sure to take heed.

The DC council — especially those members who switched positions on the stadium lease under the cover of a spending cap — must reject additional costs to the taxpaying residents of the District of Columbia. With the council in recess, it has also been reported that the additional spending would not be submitted to the council for a vote until after the September 12 primary. Rest assured, however, that the additional spending will be a major issue in a city whose residents are 70 percent opposed to public spending for the stadium, and who have already been betrayed. This issue is not going to go away. It’s time to say “No More!” From now on, let the owners of the Nationals invest their own money or raise it in the capital markets. We ask that you respond, immediately, with a commitment that you will vote against additional spending for the stadium project.


Standing Up to DC’s Future Economic Viability
Len Sullivan,

There are fewer than six weeks left until DC’s key primary. Voters need to decide what they want from their elected leaders and the officials appointed by them. Will DC take charge of its own economic viability or sit back and whine about circumstances beyond its control? Myths abound about DC’s financial subservience, but facts do not support it. After all, DC is the US national capital city and the core of a hugely prosperous metro area. It is not some isolated, besieged, rural encampment blockaded by antithetical suburbanites and a vindictive federal government.

Folklore about DC’s “structural imbalance” are based on analytically and arithmetically faulty studies produced under misguided political pressures. To infer that the federal presence denies DC more revenues than it generates is absurd: DC would look like Camden, NJ, without its only true business attraction. Suggesting that DC residential and commercial taxes should not exceed the average of cities with no national and/or global focus is self-serving. Resenting commuters (and an equal number of tourists and visitors) is self-defeating: both generate more DC revenues (and jobs) than they cost in wear and tear. Assuming that your average residential family produces more net revenues per acre than your average office building full of commuters is simply wrong.

The biggest threat to economic viability is DC’s misguided pursuit of socioeconomic stagnation. DC cannot afford to attract and keep more than 40 percent of the metro area’s poor with less than 12 percent of its taxable wealth. It doesn’t need more moderate income taxpayers. It needs less high tax consumers. It cannot condemn “gentrification,” America’s basic social indicator of economic success. It cannot demand affordable housing for unaffordable households. It cannot demand subsidized services for the poor without pressing to raise their earning power. It cannot be the region’s poorhouse, or invoke socialist practices at the core of the world’s leading market economy. Would any of the candidates own up to these unpopular assertions?


It’s a Killer Not a Blaster
Ed T. Barron,

The latest in filling potholes in northwest DC is not a Blaster (as I originally named it); it is a Pothole Killer, according to the name on the truck. It has a boom and nozzle on the front of the truck. The driver sits comfortably in the air-conditioned cab and controls the boom. The boom nozzle sprays out a stream of hot black goop initially, then a mixture of small sharp gravel mixed with the goop. Then it finishes with just some more gravel.

The whole process takes less than six minutes for a pretty decent-sized pothole and with only the driver in the truck. I’ll watch to see how long these repairs last, but it seems to be an efficient way of fixing our streets.


Can’t This Be Ended?
Katherine Howard,

By not being posted? I am referring to the latest post by Leo Alexander [themail, July 30], regarding a police officer’s treatment, as a result of something he said at a community meeting in Georgetown following a horrible crime. This steady diet of pure racism is a throwback to a time a long time ago, when there was much more ignorance and prejudice characterizing some of "his" people; in this day and age, it is a complete anachronism.

Surely, there are other sites where people with his beliefs can post their racist drivel that are devoted exclusively to that subject. Spare the readers of themail, a most literate, intelligent, and cosmopolitan following, the insult of such low mindedness!

Forget that city politics or current events are a supposed reference point. Does themail post mail from anti-black racists? No. Then why post writing from an anti-white racist? Think about it. This racist soapbox of one person’s opinion has gone on for long enough now, and it’s time themail was cleaned of such odoriferous postings. The readers of themail deserve better than that, I, for one, believe!


Taking Issue with the Issue
Christopher Jerry,

I’d like to take issue with two contributors to the July 30 edition of themail.

First, to Mr. Leo Alexander, I have to say, as a Black man I feel your passion, but c’mon brotha, does everything have to be cloaked in race? What Inspector Solberg said was unfortunate because it sounded stereotypical and could be used by people like yourself to paint him as a bigot. But do you really feel that he was talking about “all” Black people or just some that looked out of place in that neighborhood at that time? I live in a part of town that’s been slow to be gentrified, and is at least 95 percent Black. We’ve been known to have drug related issues from time to time. Many of those times buyers, white buyers with Virginia and Maryland plates, sit idly by in their cars waiting for their dealer to approach. Would police be out of line to say, if you see white folks sitting in a car in my neighborhood, something suspicious is probably going on? And most people would know what they meant, that they aren’t talking about the young white men who are with the Mormon church who ride bikes through the neighborhood on their way to and from places they are doing good works. One of the things most troubling to me about the criticism of Inspector Solberg is when there is no recorder or tally light on, most Black folks, if being honest, would think and say Solberg was on point. Yet many of us feel the need to take issue with his comments in public even if we felt he was right We increasingly live in a society where speaking the truth is trumped by how it is said.

The second of the people I would like to take issue with is Mr. Ed Barron. I live in Ward 7, but I am not affiliated with any party, so I have no horse in the race in the upcoming primary elections. If I were eligible to vote in the primary, I don’t know whom I would support between Mrs. Patterson or Mr. Gray. I think both people would have been better off staying as ward representatives instead of running for citywide office. However, when Mr. Barron wrote, “Kathy Patterson has the support of those who really count in the District,” who, Mr. Barron, in your mind, is it that really counts? Surely you know that kind of comment could mean many things to many people. What I have read about the upcoming race seems to indicate Mrs. Patterson has the backing of businesses and some organizations, many of which whom the majority of their members aren’t voters who live in the city. Meanwhile Mr. Gray appears to have support of the grassroots Dems in all wards except Patterson’s Ward 3. So, Mr. Barron, in order to not be "Solberged," would you like to clarify who it is you think really counts? Seems to me the only people that really count are the ones who can submit a completed ballot on September 12. At this time it looks to be shaping up as too close to call, meaning both have support of the people who really count.


Gray Area
Ralph J. Chittams, Sr.,

I would like to know to what Mr. Barron is referring when he stated [themail, July 30] “Unlike Mr. Gray, who has a questionable past and who has played the role of the head bushwhacker on the council in his limited seventeen months there.” You can’t just lob something like that out there with no substantiation. Or maybe you can, after all, all is fair in love, war and politics!


Reply to Ed Barron on Vincent Gray
Greg Rhett, Ward 7 Democrat,

I beg to differ with your posted views regarding Councilmember Vincent C. Gray [themail, July 30], and your assessment as to “those who really count in the District. 0148 Something about your statements rub me in the wrong way. In my humble estimation, obtaining the endorsements from all of the former council chairs who are still with us, and former councilmembers from Wards 1, 7, and 8 (both Democrats and Republicans), is a major statement about Councilmember Gray’s leadership and positive contributions over the past thirty years to our beloved city.

Secondly, apparently the actual Democrat voters from Ward 6 expressed the same positive sentiments by overwhelmingly endorsing Councilmember Gray in the recent Ward 6 Democrats candidate’s forum/straw vote. Ditto for straw votes in Wards 1, 5, and 8. I guess, by your standards, all of these informed Democrats don’t really count either. Nevertheless, for those us who support Councilmember Gray’s candidacy, we say thank you to our fellow Democrats in Wards 1, 5, 6, and 8! Finally, I personally am acquainted with and have worked with both Councilmembers Patterson and Ambrose, and am positive that they would never condone their supporters’ utilizing such negative and unfounded statements such as “head bushwhacker,” and “questionable past” when speaking of Councilmember Gray. Mr. Gray has earned universal respect throughout the District and is known as a man of character and integrity by all us who have worked with him.

I am very proud of both Councilmember Gray and his opponent for their positive and issue orientated debates during this campaign season. Both have refreshingly raised the bar and taken the high road when it comes to pointing out their various differences on issues affecting District residents and voters. Please, let’s follow their lead and keep our comments on this particular campaign on higher ground. Surely you are intelligent enough to express your views on which candidate is better equipped to serve as council chair without being totally disagreeable and disrespectful to those who may have another point of view.


People Who Count
Nancy Lorn,

Ed T. Barron’s comment that Kathy Patterson has the support of the people who really count in DC speaks to the heart of the matter that continues to plague this city: the idea that there are some DC residents who are more valuable than other DC residents.

If there is such a thing as people who “really count” in DC, I would say it’s those who don’t maintain this kind of elitist, anti-humanity mentality.


No Ghosts from the Past for Kathy Patterson
Jonathan R. Rees,

While I agree with what Ed T. Barron has said about Kathy Patterson in the July 30 edition of themail, I feel the majority of voters do not keep up with the accomplishments of each member of the council. I believe the chair race will go along racial lines, and that is why I have been saying goodbye, Phil Mendelson, and goodbye, Kathy Patterson, for quite some time.

I believe that when all is said and done, our council will return to minority rule, Marion Barry will have one more hoorah, and the make-up of the council will be far more conservative in its views and action.


Watering the Trees and the DC Office of Tax and Revenue
Joan Eisenstodt,

Paul McKenzie asked [themail, June 30] about watering District-planted trees on North Capitol Street. When we lived on the Hill (before moving downtown) and trees were planted, we were told it was the responsibility of the residents to water them. And we did -- each neighbor taking turns to do so. DC government told us at that time (two or three years ago) that after they were planted, the trees were not their responsibility.

I have been owed a refund since last year, and even letters and calls from my accountant to the DC OTR have not been returned. He persists. We doubt we’ll ever see the money paid that is due back to me. As Star Lawrence said about despising these people [themail, June 30], I can go along with that. It makes me wonder (more) why we decided to stay here versus moving to a state.


Office of Tax and Revenue’s Point of Contact
Natalie Wilson,

At the Office of Tax and Revenue, we appreciate your bringing agency related issues to our attention via themail. We would also like to encourage taxpayers who have comments or questions regarding individual, business, or real property tax issues to drop us a line at under “Ask the Director.”


Begging the Question
Jack McKay,

Well, if we’re going to quibble over details of English usage, here’s an interesting quibble. In the July 30 issue, Ben Aspero writes, “This begs the question: does he recognize the difference. . . ?” For us older folks, “beg the question” is “the term for a type of fallacy occurring in deductive reasoning in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises.” Unfortunately (in my opinion) this meaning is now being displaced by Mr. Aspero’s usage, “to raise the question." Quoting Wikipedia ( on this dispute. “More recently, ‘begs the question’ has been used as a synonym for ‘invites the question’ or ‘raises the question,’ or to indicate that ‘the question really ought to be addressed’. . . . This usage is often sharply criticized by proponents of the traditional meaning, but it has nonetheless come into common use.”

Usage prescriptivists will pronounce Mr. Aspero’s usage “wrong,” while usage descriptivists will retort that “that’s now common usage, so stifle your objections.” In this case, I’d be in the prescriptivist camp. I’m no rigid defender of traditional grammatical style, and I’m notorious for conflicts with certain stiffly rulebook-bound copy editors, but I’m dismayed to see a perfectly clear, if idiomatic, expression be overrun by what appears to be a misunderstanding of its original meaning. I’m surprised that Gary, evidently a prescriptivist, let this usage pass. However, I think it’s appropriate that he do so, so that we know that the writer of this entry, not Gary, is the one responsible.



Candidates Forum on Historic Preservation and Planning Issues, August 7
Norman Metzger,

On Monday, August 7, 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I Street, NW, there will be a candidates forum with Democratic Council Chairman candidates Kathy Patterson and Vincent Gray. The focus will be on city preservation and planning issues, and will be moderated by Mark Segraves, WTOP investigative reporter. The sponsors are the DC Preservation League, Historic Districts Coalition, and the Committee of 100 for the Federal City.

This promises to be a great opportunity to ask the two Democratic candidates for DC council chair questions about their views and approaches to preservation and planning issues in the District. Invite your friends and neighbors; come with questions. For more information, contact DC Preservation League, 783-5144.


Meditation at the DC Public Library, August 9, 23
Debra Truhart,

Wednesdays, August 9 and 23, 6:00 p.m., Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R Street, NW. The Fruits of Silence -- The Power of Meditation. Learn about the benefits of meditation from the Brahma Kumaris Center of Washington, DC. The DC Public Library is not responsible, nor does it endorse health information given to participants during the program.


Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Public Board Meeting, August 9
David Howard,

The Anacostia Waterfront Corporation will hold a public board meeting on August 9, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., at Southeastern University, 501 I Street, SW, Multipurpose Room, 2nd Floor. An agenda will be posted on our web site,, on or before August 7.


AARP Mayoral Forum, August 10
Grier Mendel,

AARP District of Columbia invites you to find out where mayoral candidates stand on the issues District residents aged fifty and over care about most, such as economic security, long-term care, and help for grandparents raising grandchildren. The fall’s mayoral elections are key to the future of our city. Join us to discuss critical issues and determine whom you believe should be the District’s next top official. All major candidates have confirmed participation.

Before you vote, get the facts. Please join us at the forum and have your voices heard. The forum will take place on Thursday, August 10, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue, SE. If you need directions or special accommodations, please let us know when you RSVP. RSVP at 434-7722 or

[This notice appeared in the last issue of themail, but I mistyped the date in the headline, so I am repeating it with the correct date. -- Gary Imhoff]



ESL Instructor
Cris Covelli,

ARRIBA Center is seeking a qualified ESL instructor to work on a part-time basis (two hours per week) with the ARRIBA clients. Spanish is the first language of the majority of ARRIBA clients. It’s expected that the ESL training will provide the clients with the basic elements of English language skills to transition into work activities and social integration. The applicant for this position must have a college degree and a DC teaching credential. Applicants should contact Dr. Cris Covelli at the ARRIBA Center. Phone 887-8081 during working hours.



Ralph J. Chittams, Sr.,

My office has approximately twenty Lucent telephones (a combination of Models MLX28D and MLX16DP) available for any nonprofit organization that would like them. Contact me (737-8833) and arrange a time to come and pick them up.


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