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August 9, 2006

Election Pitches

Dear Pitchers:

William Wright has been writing a history of Washington’s Union Station. He announced earlier this week on the DC history E-mail list that he has posted drafts of the first three chapters of his book online, and is seeking comments, corrections, and suggestions. He is especially seeking materials that describe personal experiences of travelers or workers at the station before 1950. You can download the chapters and view photographs of early history of Washington railroads and the construction of the station at

I’ve written about this before, but what are art critics and scholars being taught, that they not only no longer believe that art should give pleasure, but even scorn the idea of art’s being pleasurable? David Post, on the Volokh Conspiracy blog ( calls attention to a particularly dumb article by Holland Carter in the New York Times on “Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting,” currently at the National Gallery. Carter concedes that the show is “very beautiful” and “a feast,” and then complains, “So what, pleasure aside, is the point? To transport such treasures across the world is an expensive proposition; never mind the cost in physical wear on the objects themselves. Surely such an effort should be grounded in scholarly purpose.” Critics like Carter are enemies of art. The great artists of the Renaissance didn’t paint beautiful paintings for a scholarly purpose; they painted them for people to appreciate and enjoy. So confound a critic today, and go to the National Museum just to look at beautiful paintings and take pleasure in them. Maybe you can go back a second time to learn something, but the first time through, enjoy.

Gary Imhoff


Voter Registration Deadline for September Primary is August 14
Bill O’Field,

The voter registration deadline for the September 12 Primary Election is Monday, August 14. Citizens who are District of Columbia residents can register to vote at the Board’s office, by a mail-in voter registration application, online at the Board’s web site, or when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses at the District of Columbia Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The Board’s office will be open during regular business hours from 8:30 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. on August 14 for citizens to complete a voter registration application in Room 250 North of the One Judiciary Square building located at 441 4th Street, NW. The building is accessible and conveniently situated along Metro’s Red Line at the Judiciary Square stop.

Citizens may register by mail. Mail-in voter applications are available at any District of Columbia public library, firehouse, or police station. Mail-in voter applications must be postmarked no later than August 14 to be valid for next month’s Primary Election. The application is also available online at the Board’s web site at Forms completed online are considered pending until the Board of Elections and Ethics has received the printed application signed by the voters. The forms must also be postmarked no later than August 14.

Through the Motor Voter Program, a citizen may register to vote when applying for or renewing his or her driver’s license at the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles. Registrants can easily complete a voter registration form when applying for a driver’s license. For more information about the upcoming election, the public may visit the Board’s web site at or call 727-2525 (TDD: 639-8916).


A New Low at BOEE
Dorothy Brizill,

As District residents prepare to cast their ballots in the fall elections, recent actions by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics raise renewed concerns about how the Board interprets and enforces the election code. The most recent incident occurred today, when the BOEE held a special board meeting to consider the recall petitions filed by Sidney McMahan against ANC 6D03 Commissioner Mary C. Williams. Although the hearing was scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m., a room full of residents had to wait for more than two and a half hours while Charles Lowery, the Board member assigned to preside at the hearing, discussed the case and "evidence" behind closed doors with the BOEE staff. During the course of the hearing, the Board gave great weight to a report by Kathy Fairley, the Registrar of Voters, that indicated that, after reviewing Williams’s challenge to individual signatures, she found that Mr. McMahan had submitted eleven petition sheets with 123 valid signatures, which was a sufficient number to trigger the recall process.

I was shocked and, as I sat in the audience, I repeatedly sought to be recognized by Mr. Lowery to address the Board. I was surprised with Fairley’s report because I had reviewed the eleven petition sheets myself, and last week I had discussed with her the serious problem with them. Voters who sign petition sheets have to know what they are signing, whether it is a nominating petition, an initiative petition, or a recall petition. That is why, by law, all petition sheets have to be circulated as double-sided sheets, with the subject of the petition printed on the front side (DC Code 1-1001.17(e)). McMahan did not do that. Instead, he photocopied the front and back pages of the petition separately. Of the eleven petition sheets he submitted, only one was photocopied on both sides. Six of the sheets had signatures just on the back pages, with no signatures on the front pages, which should have been presented to all voters who signed. All of those petitions should have been rejected because they violated the format required by law. And that format is not just a formality; it is required for a good reason. The presumption that voters who sign a petition know what they are signing only holds true if the subject of the petition is printed on the same sheet as the signatures; it is completely invalidated if voters sign signature pages that don’t state the subject of the petition.

Kathy Fairley’s report was limited to counting individual signatures, and matching them to the voting rolls. The Board should also have heard the issue of whether the petition sheets themselves fulfilled the requirements of the law. But it did not hear that issue, and the Board never examined the petition sheets themselves, because in a public hearing it refused to acknowledge members of the public and hear testimony from them. For the first time in my experience, and completely contrary to the rules and regulations that govern its hearings, it refused to allow members of the public to speak. For the past two years, the BOEE has grown increasingly unfriendly and even hostile to citizens who want to participate in its proceedings, but refusing to allow citizens to testify and refusing to allow them to present evidence at a public hearing has to be a new low.


Something Is Broken in Public Safety
William Jordan,

In large measure we are in a crime emergency today because of the state of public safety in the Third District/Ward 1. Statistics show that while in the rest of the city crime rates continue to trend downward in most categories, in 3D/Ward 1 the incidents of crime are trending upward. Improvements in crime stats made from 2004 to 2005 are being reversed from 2005 to 2006 in 3D/Ward 1. Normally, a one year blip would not lead to the conclusion that the system is broken, except this reversal is occurring despite numerous high profile crime initiatives in 3D/Ward 1 over the last year or so and also despite a fully functioning police substation, at least three large Hot Spots zones, tens of millions in public and private investment in community and economic development. I don’t think anyone envisioned a scenario in which millions spent in economic and community development would lead to streets that are less safe.

Clearly something is broken in 3D/Ward 1. In response, our police leaders and political leaders are offering more of the same broken approaches, strategies, and excuses. Maybe it is our public safety leadership that is broken; maybe we, too, as residents are broken for accepting the same broken approaches, strategies, excuses and leadership. Something is broken.

See Crime Emergency Statistics, July 12-August 6, Are Released,; Third District Monthly Crime Statistics July 2006,,a,1239,q,560591.asp; and Third District Monthly Crime Statistics July 2005,,a,1239,q,557749.asp.


Ramsey Leadership and Crime Emergency
Matt Forman,

As reported in the Washington Post, the murder of Alan Senitt could possibly have been avoided had the police simply followed up on extensive leads and apprehended the throat-slitting murderers for their prior crimes ( This lackluster detective work is standard operating procedure for the Metropolitan Police Department. In the weeks following the murder, a robbery victim reported her own incidence of MPD detectives failing to follow up on credit card receipt and photographic data to arrest her assailants ( Shortly thereafter, another victim reported that after being shot outside a convenience store, and despite the presence of an eyewitness, no police followed up on the shooting for weeks until the victim wrote the mayor to get a detective to finally show up ( Even Ramsey admitted that his detectives weren’t solving murders ( See also and

For this performance, the council overwhelmingly gave initial approval (on first reading) to Chief Ramsey’s pension package increase last month. The committee report,, prepared by Judiciary Committee Chair Phil Mendelson, stated that the Control Board made a “promise” to Ramsey that his DC pension would be increased to make up for the pension shortfall he would incur by leaving the Chicago police dept. Wrong! As shown on the DCWatch web site (, the Control Board said they would “undertake an effort to address any loss of retirement income.” That’s not a promise. Mr. Mendelson’s report also stated that the District lost its title as “murder capital” under Chief Ramsey’s tenure. Wrong again! We were the murder capital as recently as 2002, and I think again in 2003 (,

The only councilmembers opposing the pension package increase were Catania, Patterson, and Fenty. Keep this in mind as you head to the polls next month.


ANC Participation in Political Campaigns
Bill Mosley,

Tom Smith’s posting on Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners’ participation in political campaigns [themail, August 6] shows a lack of understanding of what the federal Hatch Act does and does not allow. The 1993 revisions to the Hatch Act removed most restrictions on federal employees participating in partisan political campaigns. Therefore, ANC commissioners (considered federal employees in the Office of Special Counsel’s ruling) are well within their rights to endorse candidates and otherwise participate in electoral campaigns, partisan or otherwise. Federal employees may not themselves run in partisan campaigns, but in most respects they can participate in the democratic political process like other citizens.

But I would go further and argue that it is an absurdity to treat ANC commissioners — who are unpaid elected officials, not civil servants — differently from any other elected officeholders. The mayor and members of the DC council are not restricted in their partisan political work or their ability to seek election to other positions while in office. The wrongheaded OSC ruling shows why Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s bill to remove DC from the jurisdiction of the Hatch Act is needed now more than ever.

[The restrictions that remain on the political activity of federal employees relate mostly to fundraising activities, and they protect bureaucrats from being pressured into contributing to political campaigns as well as guard against using the federal bureaucracy to solicit and collect political contributions. Delegate Norton’s bill requires that DC pass its own version of the Hatch Act before it can be removed from the provisions of the federal Hatch Act, which is why it is important that DC’s bill covers fundraising activities adequately. — Gary Imhoff]


Nancee Lorn,

I totally understand the desire for Bryce [Suderow, themail, August 6] and other nonminorities to understand why certain comments should be considered inflammatory, such as that by Solsberg. I think part of the problem is that most people didn’t hear, or forgot, Solsberg’s other comment, which was, “If you see three or four black men standing on the corner at night in this neighborhood, call 911.” To me, it’s hard to see what part of that statement doesn’t scream inflammatory, but then I realize that it may be hard for some folks to understand what they have never experienced.

When I was a little black girl growing up on Long Island and would sometimes venture on bike with a couple of my friends into the exclusive, all-white town of Garden City, just one block away, people would come out of their homes to stare rudely at us. And if we had the audacity to stop our bikes and chat for just a few minutes, as kids will do, the police would be called. Mind you, we were ten to eleven years old and very well behaved. Further, this wasn’t that long ago. I have a brother who’s actually a NY detective. The thing is, to many folks a group of black or Latino men is a threat. To us, they are our fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, etc., who may be out trying to have a good time just like everyone else. The problem is society can’t see the difference, and too many of our fathers, brothers, husbands and boyfriends have been harmed, killed, or falsely imprisoned simply because they “fit the description” or were somewhere people felt was “unusual” for them to be. Bryce can try to give an example that puts the Solsberg situation on a level playing field for whites and blacks, but is there one if you’ve never walked in the same shoes and given the history and traditions of police brutality against minorities?

I really think some people still don’t get that police brutality actually exists, or maybe they just don’t know their history. If my brother and his friends hang out in Georgetown and at 2:00 a.m. walk back to their car, which may be parked in a residential neighborhood, they are going to be looked at as criminals and the police will probably be called. To the caller, no big deal. To my brother, it could mean his life. I find it frustrating that in society’s haste to push racism under the carpet, some are insensitive to the fact that it still impacts people every day. And it is even more frustrating when people who don’t know what it is like to be a victim of racism try and dictate how others should feel in that situation. The bottom line is that any upstanding citizen should feel welcome in any neighborhood, just like my friends and I had the right to feel welcome and be regular children riding our bikes in Garden City.


Is This Coffee Talk?
Liz Karch, wizzyliz at comcast dot net

It was interesting to read Saturday’s Washington Post article, “Debating Race in Cyberspace. DC E-Mail Lists Allow Spirited Discussions at a Safe Distance,”

Although themail was not mentioned, the story certainly rang true for some recent discussions and posts. The protection of anonymity while seated in front of your computer monitor can fuel a debate that otherwise would not be done sitting across a table from your audience. Fortunately, I can edit what I read in themail or other printed matter by not reading it. Of course it’s harder to walk out on a heated debate because you’ll be noticed. But it’s a stretch to think that some authors would say in person what they write in cyberspace.


Response on Georgetown University Boathouse from Eleanor Holmes Norton
Elliot Doomes,

Larry Seftor wrote you [themail, June 14] alleging that a boathouse proposed for National Park Service land by Georgetown University creates a conflict of interest for me because I am a member of the law school faculty. The facts show otherwise. Although I have continued to teach one course annually, I have no reason to curry favor with Georgetown because I am a tenured professor and, in any case, Georgetown has never asked for me to intervene on its behalf since I have been a Member of Congress. I am not a member of the committee of jurisdiction that could influence congressional decisions on the project. However, I have been kept informed by Georgetown and by my constituents, who live where the boathouse is proposed. They are represented by ANC 2E, which has reviewed the boathouse proposal throughout the process and has unanimously supported it five times. Further, the other local, city, and federal entities with jurisdiction have reviewed and approved the boathouse, including the Georgetown Waterfront Commission, the Old Georgetown Board, the DC Zoning Commission, and the National Capital Planning Commission. Georgetown exchanged an environmentally valuable parcel it owns along the Capital Crescent Trail for the land proposed for the boathouse. This land exchange was examined through an Environmental Assessment and was subject to a public process that found “no significant impact.”

If anything, some would argue I have acted against the university’s interests. I spoke on campus against the university during the student hunger strike that resulted in a living wage and again successfully intervened on the side of workers, to ask the university to agree that check-off recognition for these contract workers was appropriate.

Although, like other higher education institutions, Georgetown receives federal funds, these funds are controlled by statutory requirements or are competitive and not subject to intervention by Members of Congress. The House Committee on Standards each year reviews and has consistently given written approval for me to teach a seminar at Georgetown University Law Center. Georgetown has confirmed in writing that I have conformed to specifically stated rules of the Committee on Standards allowing for teaching. My modest stipend is paid entirely from Law Center operating funds, not from federal funds.


More of the Same from Cropp
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir,

The police officers in Linda Cropp’s most recent attack literature of Linda jumped out at me. There they were beside their vehicle in their uniforms smiling while talking or . . . is it aiding Linda Cropp . . . from the unworthy candidate shirking or lurking in the corner. My thought was that these officers are being used in election campaign literature. I went to the Hatch Act ( According to the US Special Counsel, DC employees may not use official authority or influence to interfere with an election. Second, a DC employee may not engage in political activity while on duty, in a government office, wearing an official uniform or using a government vehicle.

In a similar campaign related note, the blog “Inside Edge” on New Jersey politics ( reports that the Cropp campaign took $3,000 from the defamed former US Senator Robert Torricelli. For those who remember, Torricelli had to quit a few weeks out on his 2002 campaign because of gross campaign finance irregularities. Many recipients who benefited from Torricelli largess began to return the money in fear of being associated with the corrupt practices.

The DC Office of Campaign Finance documents this recent transfer of funny money between Torricelli and Cropp. On June 9, the on-line campaign finance search engine ( records $2,000 of the money entering the Cropp ledger. The other $1,000 shows up in an expenditure report on June 10 ( as a refund to Torricelli for US Senate. Apparently, someone in the Cropp campaign recognized that there was a limit on mayoral campaign contributions of $2,000 regardless the source.


The Mayoral Campaign
Norman L. Blumenfeld,

During the next thirty-five days or so, voters will be observers of incidents and events that at first blush will appear trivial. But they should peel away the covers and see what lurks beneath. One such episode is the happenings surrounding the announced Johns-Fenty debate. It reveals much if we look closely.

An experienced and capable public officer holder must be able to think on his feet and act with dispatch in negotiations, in emergency situations, and at unscripted hearings and conferences. As a colleague from Alabama once said "I do not have a dog in this fight," so I really do not care if and how Johns and Fenty square off behind the barn house. But I was shocked how easily Johns caught Fenty off guard by challenging him to a debate, and how unsure Fenty was of himself when he stuttered his response of "sure." I should not have been surprised, however, because Fenty has revealed his inexperience in attempting to answer unexpected questions from media panel members in the past. But this straw broke the poor camel’s back. This relatively minor incident really shows that Fenty is not ready to represent the District in important arenas where seasoned congressmen, knowledgeable business and labor leaders, and informed governors of other states lurk. He will not always have the luxury to run to the confines of mayors from other cities for a quick review course on how to govern. We expect chief executive officers to respond to crises and problems by drawing on their own experiences and their own talents. I feel Mr. Fenty lacks sufficient training and expertise to act on behalf of the District at this time. This debate incident seems to support my view.

But there is more. Having found himself in a situation where his lack of debating skills will be exposed, and probably having a campaign staff that is horrified that he even accepted the challenge to participate in the debate, Fenty is now trying to get out of it. If this were not yet another incident which cast doubts on his qualifications to be mayor, it could be ignored. But, as I noted above, what appears to be an insignificant decision may in fact be an important consideration for the voter. His argument as to where the debate should be held is plainly an attempt to avoid the debate altogether. I am less concerned if these two candidates debate in what may well be a private setting, than I am concerned with the reason given by Fenty to steer clear of the debate. Again another small, but important, matter for the voter to consider. At this point, whether the debate is held or not is immaterial. I suggest that being caught off guard and then the effort to wiggle out of the commitment are events in and of themselves that create a telling impression.


Fenty’s Dishonorable Retreat
Dominic Sale,

The fact that Adrian Fenty is maneuvering to back out from a debate with Marie Johns is much less surprising than the fact that he accepted such a challenge in the first place. Those following this mayoral race closely know that Fenty had little to gain from verbally sparring with a very articulate Johns, and such a debate would likely have hurt him more than helped him. More surprising, however, is the juvenile manner in which the candidate appears to be wriggling out of his commitment on a technicality. His reason for bailing? Because the candidates had discussed Ward 8 as the probable location, he is now refusing to debate at Johns’ location of choice.

If he is at all concerned about the voters of DC, and portraying himself as is a man of his word, Fenty should strongly reconsider such a transparent attempt to back out of this commitment. It’s one thing to refuse to debate someone when it’s not to one’s benefit, but it’s quite another to accept the offer when put on the spot, and to renege at the last minute when one thinks nobody is looking.

I’m not sure which concerns me more about the prospect of a Mayor Fenty. On one hand, he showed great lack of judgment and political acumen for accepting such a challenge in the first place. On the other hand, his specious withdrawal demonstrates a lack of commitment and courage. Either reason should be enough to call into question his suitability to serve as our next mayor.

[The Fenty-Johns debate will be held this Saturday; see the CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS section for details. — Gary Imhoff]


Kathy Patterson Has a Record of Results
Tom Heinemann,

In response to the post by Chuck Thies regarding the race for council chairman [themail, August 6]: I agree with you on your last point. Words do matter. Especially if the words you are using inaccurately describe the facts. And actions matter even more than words. The fact is that nobody on the council has a record of performance and delivering for all residents of the District like Kathy Patterson.

As Chair of the Judiciary Committee, she used the committee’s oversight authority to put more than two hundred additional police on the street, not by spending more on new officers, but by requiring the police department to better manage itself and the deployment of its existing officers. She also forced MPD to improve homicide and other violent crime investigations by holding multiple public hearings that gave grieving families and crime victims the opportunity to share their frustration over how their cases had been handled. Kathy Patterson has been the leader behind making the establishment of a DC forensics lab a priority so that police can solve more crimes and keep criminals off the street. As Chair of the Education Committee, she was the lone councilmember who rescued the School Modernization bill and got it passed by the council, unanimously. That bill wasn’t going anywhere until Kathy cast the lone vote to get it out of the Finance and Revenue Committee and then rewrote it into something everyone could support (talk about building consensus). Now the city is providing the investment needed to finally rebuild our schools — this was her first priority when she took over as Chair of the Education Committee and she got it done. That’s a lot better record than just signing your name to a bill and then doing nothing to actually get it passed. Kathy meets regularly with the Superintendent and Board of Education members -- the school system is making progress on a lot of fronts and Kathy has been a leader at the forefront of it. A system that has been broken as long as ours cannot be fixed overnight, but reform can only happen with the sustained attention, encouragement and oversight that Kathy has brought to the issue.

I’ll leave it for others to do the proper examination of Mr. Gray’s record. But saying that Kathy’s record is anything other than exemplary is just ludicrous. Her experience is unmatched and she’s already proven her leadership on all of the key issues. For the position of chairman, she’s simply the best choice.


DC City Council Chair Candidate Gray: Way Too Green
Laurie Collins,

Gray is green in more ways than one! We need an experienced council chair. Gray may have the green endorsement, but getting there shows how green he really is in DC city politics. Like many greenhorns before him, Gray has made promises to the Sierra Club that he can not keep. By pandering to special interests, Gray has pledged to work for them, and not for you! DC council chair candidate Kathy Patterson would not make false promises to the fickle Sierra Club, who just last year made her their champion when they worked together to keep "toxic trains" from traveling through downtown.

Gray has no new ideas about the true environmental issues facing us — the cleanup of the Anacostia, the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the ongoing and worsening impact of congested and clogged traffic. Kathy Patterson has shown her concern for the safety and well-being of DC’s environment and its citizens. Gray, on the other hand, has only made vain promises to undue decisions that are already in place, and pledges to reverse long-standing efforts that will actually aid the environment, while improving public safety and provide economic benefits to lower income communities. There are lots of real, serious environmental issues for us to tackle going forward. The Sierra Club has led Gray down the primrose path, if you ask me. There are lots of real, substantive environmental issues that need to be tackled. Kathy Patterson knows and understands these issues, and won’t be heading us down a dead-end street.

Yes, Gray is green. Gray’s commitments to support the Sierra Club’s special interest agenda would waste more of our precious green resources. We need a council chair who understands the complexities and real needs of DC environment and citizens, not one who makes promises he can not keep about issues he does not understand.


Vincent Gray
Avi Fechter,

For the past week there have been several posts on this listserv and others attacking Vince Gray in one way or another. It has been stated that Gray represents a return to the “bad old days” and that he will appoint Barry Chair of the Education Committee if elected. It has been stated that he was a horrible manager when he was head of the Department of Human Services. It has been stated that Vincent Gray is “bought and paid for” because a lot of the people contributing to him are contributing the maximum they can.

I, for one, am tired of the negative attacks and would like to set the record straight see we can discuss the several policy differences between Patterson and Gray. First, Gray has denied offering anyone the chair of any council committee. The rumors about a deal are exactly that, rumors. Second, Vincent Gray’s record as a manager at DHS and Covenant House is one of the reasons why so many organizations have endorsed him. The AFGE represents the very workers who served under Gray when he was head of DHS. They endorsed his candidacy in large part because of his outstanding management performance under very difficult circumstances. Vincent Gray’s record as a manager, not only at DHS but also as executive director of Covenant House for ten years, is one of the major reasons why both the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce endorsed his campaign. The Washington Post said in 2004 “Vincent C. Gray has compiled an admirable record of both public and nonprofit service.” Those who know his management record best praise it. Third, Vincent Gray is not "bought and paid for" by the business community. Gray has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, TENAC (representing renters), the Fraternal Order of Police, and every Democratic Ward organization that has voted (Wards 1, 5, and 8).

I think it is truly remarkable and refreshing that business and labor organizations, landlord and renter organizations, grassroots and environmental organizations, can all unite in support of one candidate. Gray’s ability to garner all of these endorsements speaks to his ability as a consensus builder and leader. It demonstrates that he has what it takes to achieve the “One City” vision for the District that he is campaigning on. I have found the Council Chair candidate forums to be refreshing in their focus on the issues and their lack of personal attacks. Both Gray and Patterson have refrained from the kind of personal attacks that too often muddy political races. They have focused on their policy differences and their positions on the issues that matter to voters. If only Patterson’s supporters would do the same on these listservs.


Standing Up to Poverty, Its Causes and Its Fallout
Len Sullivan,

With less than five weeks left until DC’s key primary, the candidates are tiptoeing around DC’s colossal poverty issue as if it were some unmentionable condition like venereal disease or mental illness. Virtually all of DC’s third-world socioeconomic indicators (health, crime, education, and joblessness) flow from America’s most embarrassing, but often curable, condition. Poverty is a condition urban kids are frequently born into, and many bear its scars for life. Poverty can be self-perpetuating if not treated soon after birth, but it is neither chronic nor genetic. It is transmitted primarily by parental ignorance. It is best cured in living rooms, not schoolrooms, courtrooms, or emergency rooms. Without the will to learn, youngsters become unemployable adults, and hence poor. Lack of education often leads them to unintended pregnancies, and single-parenting: kids rearing kids. Lack of parental education creates a barren home environment making kids far less receptive to learning, particularly disenchanted young males. Some 16,000 black single moms with their 36,000 disadvantaged kids account for almost 60 percent of DC’s 90,000 food stamp users.

Compensating for poverty is a huge drain on DC’s budget. If 90 percent of the health and human services budget, 50 percent of the safety and justice budget, and 25 percent of the public education budget are poverty related, then a full half of DC’s gross 2006 operating budget (over $3.5 billion) treats poverty. It drives out the middle class (and its vital ethical base), and inflates the bureaucracy. Some 13,000 DC city workers, averaging $60,000 a year in pay, administer poverty-related programs. It is big business in DC, and occupies the efforts of thousands of activists and volunteers as well. Yet only a tiny amount of this effort goes towards redeeming (recycling?) the wayward kids who could still break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their kids. Pouring money into schools, police, ERs, and jails will not fix this root problem. Do your favorite candidates address this subject honestly?


Councilman Catania Has Lied to the Voters
Jonathan R. Rees,

Fact — when David Catania ran for city council the first time, he made a pledge to voters that if we elected him, he would only serve one term and not seek reelection, and this was because of his support for term limits. Why is Catania not keeping his word to voters and dropping out of the at large race?


Forgiveness Versus Forgotten
Leo Alexander, Ward 4,

For several weeks now, I’ve read the postings in themail attacking me for my position on the controversial statements made by MPD’s Andrew Solberg. To sum them up, they call me “racist,” an “old-fashioned hate-monger;” and one person was downright offended that I had the audacity to use a hypothetical situation involving the Jewish community to illustrate my point. That person, so blinded by hateful venom for me, couldn’t comprehend that I was actually commending the Anti-Defamation League vs. the irrelevant NAACP. It didn’t end there; one person even asked that I be permanently censored from posting anything else on this site. The one I found most amusing was a comment from an African American who asked, “Does everything have to be cloaked in race?” Let’s think about that for a second. When Mel Gibson made his insensitive statements about the Jewish community, I don’t remember a single member of that community publicly saying, “He’s really a great guy. And to prove my point, he lives in a community with several Jews. And furthermore, his kids go to a school with them.” Not one Jewish person said anything close to that. But let a white guy say something that can be interpreted as being racist, the media goes into immediate overdrive to find that one black person who will rescue the guilty party. Now to answer my delusional brother’s question, “Does everything have to be cloaked in race?” You should immediately stop whatever you’re doing, get a lawyer and sue that know-nothing teach-nothing school system which produced you.

I love the District for its diversity but I refuse to ignore the continued suffering caused by racism and classism, here and throughout the country. By refusing to ignore it, does that make me a racist? Yeah, well, that’s what some would have you believe. But let’s go back to school. First of all, racism is about power. And since black folks are nothing more than consumers who do not control any of the institutions of this country; i.e., financial, media, and government, it’s impossible for any one of us to be a racist. African Americans as a race have never written, implemented, and orchestrated any policy that would subject another race of people to unfair treatment. Yes, we like any other minority group can certainly be prejudiced and bigots, but never racist.

On August 5th, I attended the Ward 7 debate for mayor and at-large city councilman. In the rear of the sanctuary I had an opportunity to speak with former MPD Chief Isaac Fulwood about the comments made by Solberg, “Chief Ramsey should have crushed him right then, but he blew it.” I didn’t take his hard line stance to mean Solberg should have been given a fourth chance. Does that now make Fulwood a bigot? No. He simply recognizes that racial profiling cannot be tolerated, especially in a position that carries the power to take some ones life. Like a script from a B movie, what does Solberg do next? He goes to one of Georgetown’s many black churches, filled with senior aged women to apologize. Now that must have taken some real courage. Why didn’t he appear before a group like the 100 Concerned Black Men, the Alliance for Concerned Black Men, or the DC mosque of the National of Islam? After all, weren’t black men the target of his racially insensitive comments? When will we learn that forgiveness is ultimately between Solberg and God? His actions should never be forgotten.

This whole experience of expressing my views in themail has been a time of personal growth. I have learned that for some, even when faced with the truth, they will still hold onto their arcane beliefs, no matter how damaging they may be. The disappointing thing about this city, where blacks are in the majority, most fall into three categories: Some are completely clueless, others are still too scared to do anything to address our problems and there are others who simply don’t give a damn unless it directly affects their bottom line. This is both tiring and frustrating. Part of me wants to say, “To hell with it.” Unless I see others openly discussing DC’s social conditions, and putting their names and reputations on the line, I will remain silent. After all, why should I be the lone public voice for our struggle? But then I’m reminded of a quote from the late Rev. Vernon Johns, the pastor who was voted out of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, his discretion — social activism (before Dr. King arrived). He said, “If you see a good fight, get in it!” That spirit still lives within me.



Bring It On, August 12
Liz Rose, Johns for Mayor,

Announcing Johns versus Fenty, the campaign event. Come see the only one-on-one debate of this mayoral race, between Marie C. Johns and DC Councilmember Adrian Fenty, one month before the primary election. The race could turn on this debate. 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday, August 12. The Fenty campaign selected the debate location. It will be held in Ward 8 at the non-air conditioned, non-ADA compliant, non-Metro accessible Community Center of Woodland Terrace Housing Complex in the 2300 block of Angel Place, SE. The Fenty campaign also selected the time and date, as well as radio personality Joe Madison to serve as moderator for the debate. The Johns campaign offered two air-conditioned, ADA-compliant, Metro accessible locations — one in Ward 2 and one in Ward 8 — but the Fenty camp refused each one without explanation.

Marie Johns explained why she challenged her opponent to the one-on-one debate. “I believe I’m the better candidate,” Johns said. “Nearly half of Adrian’s supporters only support him ‘somewhat.’ Many voters are rightfully concerned with Mr. Fenty’s lack of experience running anything. The District government is an $8 billion operation with 30,000 employees. Leadership and management experience, as well as life experience, are a must if we are to have a responsible, accountable and successful government.”

Come watch the debate — then decide on who you believe is the best person to lead. R.S.V.P. to or 399-0669.


An Evening with Frank Lloyd Wright, August 16
Lauren Searl,

Wednesday, August 16, 8:00-10:15 p.m. Films: an evening with Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright built his legacy as one of the greatest 20th century architects through his buildings, teachings, and writings. Join us for an evening of conversations with and about Frank Lloyd Wright with two film screenings. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Mike Wallace Interviews (1994, 53 minutes) documents the architect in conversation with Mike Wallace in 1957. The Frank Lloyd Wright Way (1997, 60 minutes) which shares perspectives on Wright from four of his apprentices. This program complements the exhibition Prairie Skyscraper, which will be open for viewing. Free. Registration required. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


Financial Management for Cooperative Longevity, August 22
Laurie Blair,

Empower DC is hosting a free training for Housing Cooperative Associations to help them understand the threat the city’s unfair property tax assessment presents to their affordable housing. Understanding budget development and financial management allow co-op boards and members to effectively manage the cooperative’s money and provide community accountability. The training is entitled “Financial Management for Cooperative Longevity.” Beverly Moses of New Columbia Community Land Trust, a nonprofit cooperative development consultant, will provide two hours of practical experience that cooperative owners can use in developing an operating budget and important tools for keeping the cooperative solvent and affordable. Tuesday, August 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Reeves Center, 2000 14th Street, NW, at U Street. For more information, contact Linda Leeks, 234-9119.

The District of Columbia Grassroots Empowerment Project’s (Empower DC) mission is to enhance and improve the self-advocacy of low and moderate income people in the District of Columbia in order to bring about sustained self improvement in their quality of life. Take action for affordable housing, child care and government accountability with Empower DC.


Ward 5 Candidates Forum on Affordable Housing, August 31
Hazel Thomas,

Premier Community Development Corporation presents a Ward 5 candidates forum on the issue of affordable housing -- does it exist, how to retain it, and how to build it in DC. At Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church, 610 Rhode Island Avenue, NE, Thursday, August 31, 7:00 p.m. For information, call Hazel Thomas, 635-4299, or Stephanie Rones at 907-7404.


2006 Champions of Democracy Awards Reception, October 24
Karen Paul-Stern,

Join DC Vote as we honor our 2006 Champions of Democracy: The Honorable Jack Kemp, Carol Thompson Cole, and Charles Miller. Tuesday, October 24, 6:30-9:00 p.m, The Madison Hotel, 15th and M Streets, NW.

For more information about purchasing tickets, becoming a sponsor, or donating to our silent auction, please visit or contact Karen Paul-Stern by phone at 462-6000 x18 or by E-mail at


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