themail.gif (3487 bytes)

October 8, 2006


Dear Washingtonians:

For those who missed the notice in the September 20 issue of themail, I wrote there that “themail is going on break for two weeks. The next issue will be on October 8.” That’s why you didn’t receive issues for two weeks, and that’s why we’re back today.

It’s nice, getting back from a relaxing vacation, to know that I don’t even have to write an original introduction to themail today. I can just copy from Sam Smith, who proposes a “standardized test” for Adrian Fenty, to tell voters whether or not he’s succeeding in his job ( “Does he fire Chief Ramsey as he should? Does he take any steps to end the Rossylnization of DC by developers? Does he end the gross unbalance of services and programs in the city that has severely damaged such things as libraries, health services, recreation and education? Does he stop the pandering to suburban business interests that have supported programs greatly increasing the number of suburban leeches using the city without paying anything for it? Does he become a rare DC mayor who actually increases employment for DC residents? Does he understand that a city’s wealth is not determined by how much money flows through it but how much money stays here? Will he end the indentured servitude of our transit system to suburban interests and come up with ways that public transit better serves DC residents? Better yet, will he seek ways we don’t have to move around so much? Will he work for statehood or continue to hide behind the colonial charade of a token seat in the House for Eleanor Holmes Norton? Will he represent the interests of genuine local businesses — including small businesses like his parents’ — or will he continue to slaver over every con of the suburban oriented Board of Trade? Will he save the taxi zones or will be let the industry be taken over by a few big cab companies at a cost of fewer taxis, fewer jobs, and higher fares? Does he define progress in terms of number of new high rises or by the level of satisfaction felt by those who live here? Will he get in order the house he was elected to run before he tries to take over the school system?”

Here’s one early task for Fenty — stopping in its tracks the land grab that is designed to give away public library land to developers who want to build office, retail, and residential mixed-use developments incorporating some library space to replace several stand-alone public libraries. Mark Jenkins, at the Washington City Paper City Desk site (, gives one infuriating example of how the administration and the Library Board are trying to push through questionable library land development projects before the public or the incoming administration become aware of them.

Charlie Mason, the husband of former Councilmember Hilda Mason, died on October 1. Here’s a notice that was sent by Joe Libertelli at the David Clarke School of Law: “Charles N. Mason, Jr. (age 95). Passed away at his residence on Sunday, October 1, 2006. He was the beloved husband of Hilda H.M. Mason and stepfather to Carolyn Dungee Nicholas and Joyce C. Hamer Betts; step-grandfather to Jeston Hamer, Jr. (Renata Hawkins Hamer) and Stefan C. Nicholas (Gissel) and step-great-grandfather to Julian Cerise Hamer, Jeston Hamer III and Alexander C. Nicholas; There will be a celebration of his life on Wednesday, October 18, at 11:00 a.m. at All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard Street, NW. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to either All Souls Church or the District of Columbia School of Law Foundation in his name.”

Gary Imhoff


Status of Tax Assessment Class Action Suit
Peter S. Craig,

On January 13, Senior Judge Eugene N. Hamilton of the Tax Division of the DC Superior Court issued his final judgment in the class action suit contesting the constitutionality and lawfulness of across-the-board increases in residential real property assessments in the one-third of the city defined as Triennial Group 1 by the Office of Tax and Revenue. Judge Hamilton held that these across-the-board increases were in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the US Constitution and were also in violation of DC law. He ruled that the city should refund to taxpayers the resulting increases in taxes, estimated by OTR to be $15 million. The case is captioned as Peter S. Craig, et al., v. District of Columbia, et al., Tax Docket No. 8112-02.

On February 3, the District government filed a notice of appeal to the DC Court of Appeals, but did not file its brief until August 2. The brief for the taxpayers was filed on September 22. An amicus brief supporting the taxpayers’ position was filed by the DC Federation of Citizens Associations on September 29. The District’s reply brief is due on October 13. It is hoped that the case can be argued before a three-judge review panel by December.

A second case, contesting tax year 2003 assessments in triennial groups 1 and 2 on the same grounds, is also pending. That case has been stayed pending final decision regarding tax year 2002 assessments. I am indebted to Nathalie Black, Steve Truitt, and Steve Ives, three other lawyers in Cleveland Park, for their top-quality assistance in these cases. Also to John Goodman of Woodley Park for his excellent amicus brief on behalf of the DC Federation of Citizens Associations. Individuals wishing to help pay for the out-of-pocket expenses in this litigation may do so by making tax-deductible contributions, payable to The Committee of 100 on the Federal City, sending such checks to me at 3406 Macomb Street, NW.


District School Board’s Calendar Violates Regulations
Warren Gorlick,

Incredibly, by late September, there was no calendar in place for the 2006-07 school year, leaving parents to guess which dates will be school half days or full days off. The last proposed calendar, put out on the school board’s web site in mid-August, is a complete nonstarter, as it violates the school board’s own regulations that require 180 days of full time school — instead, the calendar proposed 168 days of full day school, with twelve half days.

The backdrop to this issue is the steady decline in school instruction time. Two years ago, there were still 183 days of school. Last year, there were 181 days. The proposed calendar for the current year, in various versions beginning late spring, called only for the legal minimum of 180 days. Incredibly, however, in August the board, apparently ignorant of its own regulations, put forward a new version of the calendar calling for an additional nine new half days that had not been included in earlier versions of the 2006-07 proposed calendar. While this time was termed "staff development," the Board had not in fact created any program for such teacher instruction. In addition to an additional three half days for "recordkeeping," there would be a total of twelve half days in the 180-day school schedule.

On September 18 and September 20, the board held hearings, and various parents of District students testified that the proposed calendar were a blatant violation of the District’s own regulations, which not only required 180 days of teaching, but expressly stated that a teaching day was six hours or more, and half days had to be counted only as half days. Even one teacher who supported the move to more professional development acknowledged that the proposed calendar violated the regulations. The Board of Education deferred a final decision on the calendar until this Wednesday, September 27. In the meantime, however, the Board has begun to circulate a proposed resolution to be presented at the September 27 hearing that states that “best practices” now provide for more professional training, and goes on to rescind the requirement, on the District’s books since 1978, that the District provide 180 days of full day education. Two District school board members, Joanne Ginsburg and Victor Reinoso, have been heroes in this fight, and strongly oppose the move to greatly reduce instruction time. However, other board members seem all too willing to go along with this cynical ploy to steal time from our children’s education. This is a matter of concern not just to parents, but to taxpayers as well. I urge you to write to the school board members and urge them not to reduce school instruction time further.


DPW Post-Columbus Day Schedule
Mary Myers,

In observance of Columbus Day, Department of Public Works scheduled services will be suspended on Monday, October 9. There will be no residential trash or recycling collection, street cleaning, graffiti removal or nuisance abatement. There will also be no parking enforcement; including meters, residential and rush hour lane restrictions. The Fort Totten Trash Transfer Station will be closed. All services resume on Tuesday, October 11.

All trash and recyclables collection will slide one day for the remainder of the week, beginning Tuesday, October 11. Whether you have once-weekly or twice weekly trash and recycling service, Monday’s trash and recyclables will be collected on Tuesday; Tuesday’s collection will be picked up on Wednesday; Wednesday’s collection will be made on Thursday; Thursday’s collection moves to Friday, and Friday’s collection will be picked up on Saturday.


Candidates’ Annoying Phone Calls and Junk Mail
Paul Dionne, news at paul dionne dot com

I am curious to hear from those who are annoyed by the phone calls, spam, and junk mail coming from candidates. These methods prove a great way for candidates to be directly in touch with the electorate, and isn’t it our responsibility to be an informed electorate?

The alternative is to only get information from news media, which many argue are biased. So how do you propose that candidates get in touch with you without using news, spam, phone banks, and junk mail?


What Is the Real Crime Crisis?
Jason Ziedenberg,

The Justice Policy Institute submitted testimony to the city council Judiciary Committee on Friday, September 29. Our submission is posted at It was one of two dozen that were critical of the crime emergency measures, and called for alternative public safety strategies in DC. Of those who testified, Kenneth Barnes, Sr., executive director of Reaching out to Others Together, Inc., or ROOT, and whose son was killed in 2001, said it best. Barnes said, in some neighborhoods there has been a crime emergency for many years. “The crime emergency bill is a joke. It’s a joke.”

At a recent presentation to a group of DC nonprofits, the Chief of Police said this city needs to address the underlying “drivers” of crime. He identified the major drivers as lack of quality education, poverty, unemployment/underemployment, family dysfunction, and lack of recreational opportunities. We should take this opportunity to get the council, law enforcement, and DC nonprofits working together on a positive youth development agenda that seeks to deal with the drivers of crime, and seeks to reconnect disconnected youth.


DCPSInfo, a Blog
Marc Borbely,

I’ve just started a blog: The first entry: brief notes from tonight’s school board meeting (on school calendar, truancy rules, age eligibility rules, budget reconciliation, and a budget timeline). I’d like to help keep people updated on school issues, but without bugging everyone too often. Feel free to post comments/questions to the blog, or send information separately.

Just as a reminder, here are also two of the largest citywide e-mail discussion groups for DCPS advocates: (with a broad focus) and (limited to modernization and facilities issues).


The Unemployment Line
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

Things are not looking good for Tony Williams’s employment prospects at this point. Tony joins the ranks of the unemployed in January when Adrian Fenty gets sworn in as mayor of DC. Tony has struck out in a few big-name open jobs: president of American University, the Red Cross, and the World Bank. With Tony’s extensive travel experience he ought to open a travel consultancy.

With a committed mayor-to-be, Adrian Fenty, and a forceful DCPS Superintendent, Janey, there’s hope that we can finally get real reform in the school system in DC. The first step will be to do some benchmarking of inner city school systems that have been successful in turning around their schools. Boston is one example where significant progress has been made. The job for the new Mayor’s Deputy for Education will be to pull together all the stakeholders in reforming the school system to form a genuine team to create a mission, a plan, and a schedule for that reformation of DC’s schools.

This can be done if the Mayor is willing to support a team dedicated to developing a process that will lead to a whole new school system that will provide the education so badly needed for the kids here in DC.


Election Turnout
Ann Loikow, a loikow at verizon dot net

According to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (see, the Final Unofficial Election Night Results for the Primary Election on September 12, was that the election day turnout was 32.20 percent (103,406 voters out of 321,087 registered); for Democrats, 35.22 percent (100,549 voters out of 285,483 registered); for Republicans 7.67 percent (2,343 voters out of 30,560 registered); for Statehood Green Party voters 10.19 percent (514 voters out of 5,044 registered). I don’t think these numbers include absentee ballot or provisional (special) ballot counts yet. Also, I’m sure there is a little inflation in the number registered, depending upon when the list was last culled for deceased voters and voters who have moved. In all, though, I think the turnout is fairly consistent with that of other primaries (34 percent turnout in the 2002 primary and only 23 percent in the September 2004 primary).


Low Turnout
Michael Bindner, mikeybdc at

The low voter turnout figures for DC are not exactly accurate. In the first instance, the number of adult residents includes university students (many of whom vote elsewhere) and immigrants (who can’t vote) or disenfranchised ex-offenders. In the second instance, DC does not purge its rolls for nonvoting. In every other jurisdiction, if you don’t vote in two federal elections (i.e., four years) you are purged from the roles. That is not the case in DC. In a jurisdiction where people come and go often, this is especially noticeable. When I was the Secretary for Information of the DC Statehood Green Party, I had my data manager calculate how many on our rolls would not be counted with normal purging. In 1999 it was about half. I am sure it is even worse now. I would estimate that only about 40 percent of the voter roles are valid. It would seem that turnout is not that low after all.


In Support of Erich Martel
Taylor T. Simmons,

Readers of themail may be interested in the following letter written to Schools Superintendent Janey in support of Wilson High School AP History teacher Erich Martel. It was written by a former Wilson AP History teacher, then named Patricia Diaz, now Patricia Krebs. “Many years ago I taught AP American History at Woodrow Wilson High School. Mr. Martel was my replacement. A Wilson graduate has made a major effort to locate me because of what has happened to Mr. Martel’s teaching assignments. I left my teaching position to return to Pennsylvania to teach and with the hope of being elected to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth. I achieved this and served on the Education Committee of the House and chaired the Subcommittee on Higher Education.

“As a former teacher of high school students and especially Advanced Placement, I know very well what kind of preparation is needed to offer quality education. Not informing Martel that he was being removed from teaching these classes just before school started is incredibly unprofessional. Replacing him with a teacher who has not had an opportunity to undertake all the work that is required to be an AP teacher is another unprofessional act. I recall very well the strong involvement of Wilson students’ parents, and the fact that Mr. Martel has been able to teach AP History for all of these years suggests to me that he has been doing a good job. Otherwise, some of those outspoken and strong willed parents would have made the case that he needed to be replaced long ago.

“I have no knowledge of the results of Martel’s reviews and evaluations by the administration. If they prove to be satisfactory, this should put in question the actions of the high school principal. Fair and effective evaluation includes not only constructive criticism but also recommendations for improvement and then follow-up. I am confident that you are reviewing these records. In regards to Mr. Martel’s raising the issue of whether certain students were qualified to graduate, I applaud his courage. If these students, or even some of them, did not meet the qualifications for graduation, then I fervently hope that Mr. Martel is publicly thanked for standing up for what is right. This should have a positive impact throughout the school system. In closing, I would like you to know that the best years of my working life were spent in the DCPS. In spite of the tough and challenging moments, I carry so many wonderful memories of students’ successes and our shared classroom and out of classroom adventures. So many Woodrow Wilson students and their parents provided me a unique teaching opportunity. I owe them. Perhaps, adding my voice to those concerned about what has happened to Mr. Martel will be a partial repayment.”


Deja Vu, 1990 and 2006
Christopher Jerry,

Jonathan Rees’ comparison of Adrian Fenty and Sharon Pratt Dixon, later Kelly, in the last edition of themail [September 20] makes a point that the two were not supported by the business community during their campaign and after the general election. Mr. Rees seems to suggest it was business community that torpedoed the Kelly administration. Where I would disagree a bit is I don’t think it was only the business community that helped to sink Mayor Kelly. Instead, it was another similarity that happened the night the Mayor Dixon was elected and is likely to happen the night Mayor to be Fenty is formally elected to serve the next four years. That is, a new city council chairman will also be elected to take the reins of the city council.

It’s sixteen years ago, but, as I remember it, after Mayor Marion Barry’s personal problems made his reelection unrealistic in 1990, an energetic candidate named Sharon Pratt Dixon emerged to run for mayor. Many of her promises were to change the way the city ran things, fixed schools and services, and held people accountable. Her signature line during the campaign was "It’s Time To Clean House." Seemed like a good idea, and many in the city were ready for that to happen. Meanwhile, then council chair David Clarke decided to run for mayor, leaving that seat open. The then Ward 2 councilman, the very outspoken John Wilson, decided to run for that suddenly open seat, and he won fairly comfortably. This is just like what happened in this year’s election: the longtime city council chairman Linda Cropp gave up her safe seat to run for mayor.

Unfortunately for Mayor Dixon, instead of working with her to accomplish things for the city, new chairman Wilson and the city council decided to make the council more than a rubber stamp for the mayor, as many suggested it had been in the Barry years. In many ways the council, under Wilson’s brief tenure before his suicide death, was often confrontational with Kelly. It threw roadblocks in front of many of her initiatives. To be fair, some of the plans Wilson and council blocked should have been blocked, but some should not have been. The constant friction between Kelly and Wilson cost her any hope of reelection and led back to Barry’s being reelected as mayor in 1994. Just a few years later, not just because of Barry, but also because of council decisions in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the city fell into the hands of the control board.

It is my hope that new chairman-to-be Gray, who is the councilmember for Ward 7, where I live, continues the good responsible work he has done in our ward, both in making committee assignments and in making sure there is consensus building and working in tandem with the mayor. However, if he decides to flex his muscle and elevate the chair to play a sort of vice mayor — in effect seeing that he and the council, and not the mayor, set the agenda for the direction the city is going to go in, then we may indeed see 1991-1994 play out all over again.


Community Involvement
Erica Kaster,

[Re: Mark Eckenwiler, “Political Brain Twisters,” themail, September 20] While I’m not sure what the qualification for “an active member of the community” is, I think being the head of his condo board would qualify him [Tony Williams, Republican candidate for Ward 6 councilmember] at the least. Personally, I am happy to have a new energetic face in the race, and say the less Tony has to do with the old Capitol Hill cabal the better . For too long Ward 6 has had one ineffective leader after another; it’s time for new faces and new ideas.


Civic Involvement
Tony Williams,

Re: Mark Eckenwiler, “Political Brain Twisters,” themail, September 20] Thank you for asking about my civic involvement. As a native Washingtonian, whose aspiration is only to improve his city, I have always viewed the city as a whole when it comes to opportunities for civic engagement. If the folks at Takoma Elementary need an extra hand on school beautification day, I am there. If the churches East of the River are walking to protest the unfortunate violence that often occurs, I am there. If soup kitchen in northwest needs an extra hand in the kitchen, I am there.

I also have been engaged in the Ward 6 community. I am the president of my condo association and have worked with the South West Collaborative Association to put people back on the track to success. I know that my hands-on approach to leadership is very different from our past leaders, but I believe my time is better spent helping people and effecting change then just sitting on boards.

I would be happy to come by and meet with Mr. Eckenwiler and would encourage him (and any themail reader) to shoot me an E-mail ( or to give me a call at 544-6601, and I would be happy to come by their house as I walk the Ward and introduce myself to voters. I look forward to meeting you.


Fenty and the Schools
Wanda Morsell,

I hope that Mr. Fenty hears and listens to your point [themail, September 20] about Tony Williams’s failure with the schools in that he did indeed pick a political fight that caused a debate that we have not recovered from yet. If someone doesn’t begin to promote unity and cooperation, we will never get it right. Did you know there is a new required piece (actually its an old concept) called “collaboration” that all teachers are required to do in every school? Well, it’s a piece that the mayor, the school board, and the city council need to adhere to. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.


Cecilio Morales,

You write [themail, September 20], "Kenneth Starr and Patricia Wald argued that the bill is not only a desirable, but also a Constitutional, way to give the District delegate a vote in the Washington Post."

Why would a delegate vote in the Washington Post?


Efforts from Brigade to Have Council Breach Ballpark Cap
Ed Delaney,

From “DC officials yesterday speculated that a developer’s rejection of a contract for building a parking garage near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium will force the city to exceed its $611 stadium spending cap. ‘Obviously the cap is a problem,’ DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams said. ‘This gives us issues with the council that we’re going to have to deal with potentially on the cap.’” Note how Williams doesn’t consider asking Herb Miller to kick in more money for the privilege of receiving 100 percent of the development rights to this prime piece of real estate, let alone get other development entities bidding for the work and encouraging “pay to play” via public-private partnering to get the money needed for overruns (though it looks to be an exercise in futility at the current site with its ever-escalating parking, land, and environmental costs). Nor does Williams broach the possibility of asking Major League Baseball or the Lerners to use the cooperative development part of the project to find revenue from the private sector to aid the overall project, meet the overruns, and keep the project under the cap. He doesn’t even ask MLB or the Lerners to cover their post-lease add-ons to the stadium project and budget which the Baseball Brigade has caved on, such as the addition of 66 individual bathroom facilities in each luxury box, even as both entities refuse to obligate themselves to a dollar more of project financing per the revised ballpark lease!

Instead, Williams rushes right to the public coffers with complete indifference to the multiple promises made by city officials and councilmembers against breaching the cap, and eyes another lame duck session to feed more countless millions to the private sector monster of a ballpark project at the completely unworkable cost calamity of a stadium site. We need to ask the baseball brigade and every member of the DC council, who are now being asked to break their words and the supposedly rock-hard cap: are you public servants or private servants? You’re already serving up the outrageous and unprecedented sum of $611 million worth of public money, yet you’ll break your words to extract more from the public and not from the private sector? The mentality of city officials who’ve been more like private than public servants has been on stark display throughout the unraveling of the Miller boondoggle. And it’s this mentality which cannot continue, after the public has committed so much to this project, housing a private entity which reaps the almost all of the project revenue. In a deal purportedly done to maximize city revenue and cover parking overruns, Miller’s “Yuppies and Yugos in the Outfield” plan accomplished neither. Several challenges were apparent and threatened the viability of the project and its timeline from the start, including the engineering and planning with such an undertaking. Legally, the plan violated existing council legislation including an egregious cap-dodging move of selling a city asset to cover ballpark costs and overruns and threatened to bring land estimates and penalties from pending lawsuits from previous landowners at the site that could dwarf MLB’s promised sanctions due to the land and its development rights being turned over to a private entity three months after it was seized via eminent domain for a purportedly public purpose.

Financially, Miller’s contribution reportedly was not required to be made up front or in cash, with the city’s CFO raising several questions about the matter. The amount of Miller’s contribution as he negotiated with city officials kept changing downwards from $70 million in February, $61 million in June, and $39 million in August, with the potential for less money should the city -- which had incredibly committed to paying for construction of the garage part of the project -- rack up overruns, as well as talk of city loans to Miller for construction of excavation of his private project. Worst of all, the non-competitively awarded boondoggle centered on the transfer and giveaway of all of the massively valuable development rights of this land to Miller, despite the land’s being one of the only parts of the ballpark project from which the city is entitled to receive all revenue and despite its prime location that would likely yield the city the most revenue it could expect to garner from the ballpark project. Rather than maximize revenues to the city, the project would have utterly squandered them in another sweetheart deal and damaged the city’s ability to pay down the stadium in a timely fashion. What a solution!

Though these facts were evident under the most cursory examination, the project was sold successfully to the DC council by the Brigade as crucial and as the city’s only option. Whether members were fearful of MLB sanctions due to deadline violations that a majority tied themselves to when they gave away their negotiating power during the midnight knee-buckle that marked the lease debacle or were wowed by the Brigade’s sunny project description and the buddy-buddy approach from Miller remains unclear, as the decision to approve the Miller boondoggle and "no longer require for public purposes" the land in question and its development rights was passed unanimously and without debate. Given the utter collapse of the project and the return of the parking overruns issue (as well as the environmental issues thanks to the presence at the ballpark site of asbestos and dozens of leaking oil tanks adjacent to the Anacostia River watershed) which the Brigade intends to ask the council to solve with more public money, the council can’t take the word of the Brigade and private interests that they are capable of solving these problems except by having the council cut blank checks whenever they’re asked.

Rather than allow the public to be further subjected to the incompetence of a group of officials who act as private servants of MLB and whatever developer eyes a sweetheart deal for itself at public expense, the council must use the occasion of the baseball brigade’s seeking to make the council go back on its word and exceed the spending cap as well as the clear political message of the primaries against free spending of public money on the ballpark project to disable the private interest machine consisting of the outgoing mayor, the DCSEC, Jack Evans, and Herb Miller by holding ballpark spending at the already outrageously generous figure of $611 million. If the council ever wants to put these issues to bed instead of having to deal with the constant demand for funding, it must reject the Brigade’s calls for budget shifts and increases while putting people besides Bill Hall and Mark Tuohey in charge of making sure the project fits under the cap. It wasn’t a coincidence that recent primary election results swept out some of the council’s biggest baseball boosters and reinstated those who opposed the one-sided nature of the baseball boondoggle and the horrible site which has caused most of the overrun problems by itself. Judging by the results and the continued polling showing massive opposition to the ballpark cost explosion, any council member who made a pledge to the public via the rock-hard $611 million cap is going to have to stick to that promise or will almost certainly pay a political price in future campaigns. In other words, if some members are thinking about going back on your word and breaching the cap via any means, they ought to let the political consequences guide them if their political integrity isn’t enough! Solutions can still be found, though it still might involve a site switch, which the council will find out is still viable and cost-effective no matter how many pilings have gone into the current site if they take the time to commission independent studies of the issue.



DC Public Library Events, October
Debra Truhart,

Tuesdays, October 10, 17, 24, 31, 6:00 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Movies for Adults: The Many Faces of Romance.
October 10, “Brown Sugar,” two childhood friends (Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs) find love in this homage to hip-hop. Also starring Mos Def and Queen Latifah. Directed by Rick Famuyiwa.
October 17, “Casablanca,” a classic set in Africa during World War II, from Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s.” Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and directed by Michael Curtiz.
October 24, “Monster’s Ball,” love blossoms amidst family tragedy and southern racism. Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton star is this film that was directed by Marc Forster.
October 31, “Corpse Bride,” an animated fantasy from the directors Tim Burton and Mike Johnson, with Johnny Depp. Adults. For more information, call 727-1265.

Wednesdays, October 11, 18, 25, 7:30 p.m., Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW. Shepherd Park Speaks: an author series with local authors from the Shepherd Park community.
Wednesday, October 11, Pavel Chichikov, author of Dying and Living, Poems of Resurrection.
Wednesday, October 18, Rosemary Reed Miller, author of The Threads of Time.
Wednesday, October 25, Carolivia Herron, author of Nappy Hair, Thereafter Johnnie, and Little Georgia and the Apples. For more information, call 541-6025.

Thursday, October 12, 7:00 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby. The History and Biography Division welcomes author Gary Toyn who will discuss his book, The Quiet Hero: The Untold Medal of Honor Story of George E. Wahlen at the Battle for Iwo Jima. Bob Dole wrote the forward for the book and Senator Orrin Hatch wrote the introduction. Toyn teaches broadcasting at Weber State University and is a former producer of video documentaries. He traveled worldwide for the US Department of Defense, and is a former reporter for UPI and ABC Radio News.


New Book from AARP CEO Urges Boomers to Reinvent America, October 9
Grier Mendel,

Come hear Bill Novelli discuss 50 + Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America. Learn about the opportunities for a generation that transformed America forty years ago to again lead efforts to change the way their children and grandchildren will live in the future. Find out how their influence will transform the way we work, shop, live and vote. Olsson’s Books and Records, 418 7th Street, NW, between D and E Streets, one and a half blocks from the Gallery Place Metro. Monday, October 9, 6:00 p.m. Feel free to bring a copy of the book for signature or purchase one there. Light refreshments will be served.


National Building Museum Events, October 11-16
Lauren Searl,

Wednesday, October 11, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Ralph L. Knowles, professor emeritus at University of Southern California School of Architecture, will discuss how the concepts behind sustainable architecture have been around for centuries and how we can reconnect the built environment to the natural world by drawing on nature’s resources without depleting them. After the lecture, he will sign copies of his new book Ritual House: Drawing on Nature’s Rhythms for Architecture and Urban Design (Island Press). This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition The Green House, which will be open for viewing. $12 Members and students; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.

Monday, October 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Architect Lori Ryker will discuss concepts for off-the-grid strategies and present two in-depth profiles of projects demonstrating how ideas are developed, refined, and applied to residential architecture. Her recent publication Off the Grid profiles ten contemporary residences from across the world which incorporate alternative and off the grid technologies. These homes — urban, suburban, and rural — all demonstrate how more sustainable lifestyles can be achieved through low-tech and hi-tech solutions for energy and resource conservation. After the lecture, she will sign copies of her book Off the Grid: Modern Homes + Alternative Energy (Gibbs Smith). This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition The Green House, which will be open for viewing. $12 Members and students; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


Silver Spring Library Book Fest, October 14
Jerry A. McCoy,

On Saturday, October 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the Silver Spring Library BookFest will be held at the Silver Spring Library, 8901 Colesville Road. BookFest will feature a huge used book sale, a bake sale, and programs for children (face painting, storytelling, and a visit by McGruff the Crime Dog). Allan J. Stypeck, owner of Second Story Books and co-host on the popular radio show, “The Book Guys,” will appraise books and bookbinder Jodi Dee will provide information and examples of her art.

From noon to 1:00 p.m., signed copies of Historic Silver Spring will be available for purchase ($19.99, cash or check only). For a follow-up book to Historic Silver Spring, author Jerry A. McCoy is seeking additional pre-1990 photos showing downtown Silver Spring or the neighboring East Silver Spring neighborhood. Please bring your photographs or memorabilia to share.

For directions to the library, visit


Optimal Health for Black Men Conference, October 21
Clifton Allen Roberson,

Howard University Hospital Comprehensive Areas of Resources, Entitlements, and Services (HUH CARES), with the Metropolitan DC Health Consortium and the Optimal Men’s Health Collective will sponsor The Optimal Health for Black Men Conference. The conference will be held on Saturday October 21, from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. at the Howard University Hospital Towers Auditorium. The HUH Towers Auditorium is located at 2041 Georgia Avenue, NW.

This free conference includes a 7:30 a.m. Tai Chi Class, an exclusive interview with Harry Belafonte on the health of Black Men, and a Women’s Discussion. For more information on this conference please call 301-496-5667.



Building Professional
Sue Brent,

Our neighborhood is being locked into another twenty years of slumification by the number of jackleg construction outfits and these new-class slumlords who watch this get-rich-quick-schemes-buy ten houses by noon tomorrow, play all the angles, etc. None of which would be able to function without the dereliction of duty of DCRA to even begin to insure the safety (can you say firewall?) let alone quality of these so-called repair/renovation projects.

Several commissioners east of the river desperately need a trusted professional we can direct questions to about various building practices we encounter. Somebody who has a day-to-day working knowledge of BOCA, good inspection practices, etc., not theory, and who could dedicate a few hours a week to answering specific questions.

So much of our housing stock is pre 1930’s and connected, townhouse style, and surprisingly woodframe construction, no insulation, no firewalls, etc., with gut "rehab" jobs being done on "interior renovation" permits, no review, let alone inspection of electrical, plumbing, etc., work. We need technical, but hands-on advice. Contact Sue Brent at


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)