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October 25, 2006

Travel and Seizure

Dear Travelers:

Mayor Williams doesn’t like much about Adrian Fenty, but he has found one thing to applaud. At today’s mayoral press conference, Washington City Paper’s Jim Jones began a question, “Mr. Fenty has been traveling around the country, asking different mayors about. . . ,” when Tony interrupted him: “Good start; got to start traveling early.”

In the last issue of themail, Bryce Suderow asked for people’s opinions about the scandal involving the DC Board of Education’s charter school operation. (To be clear, the Board’s chartering operation is separate from the independent DC Public Charter School Board.) No one has responded yet, so I’d like to repeat his question and expand it. The hottest races in the upcoming general election are going to be for seats on the Board of Education, and especially for the chairman of the Board. I have a nagging suspicion that the important thing that is at stake in that election, and in the power struggle that will follow between the Board of Education and the newly elected mayor, is gaining control over the real estate owned by the schools, and not improving education for the children in those schools. What’s your opinion?

Gary Imhoff


Library Update
Robin Diener, Library Renaissance Project,

Back in April, as you may remember, Library Committee Chair Kathy Patterson held two hearings in response to public outcry at the Mayor’s stealth attempt to insert authority for leasing MLK into the 2007 budget in order to realize a piece of his funding plan to build an “iconic” new central library on the Old Convention Center site. What emerged from the hearings was that an AIA/Urban Design Committee Study about the feasibility of renovating MLK, led by local architect Kent Cooper in 2000 and expanded by David Hamilton in 2006, had never been “costed-out” in spite of strong interest from a public that keeps bringing the plan back to the table. (You can view the plan on our web site,  Patterson, to the great happiness of those many who had backed the plan over six years, did the right thing and demanded due diligence. She requested the Chief Financial Officer have the plans costed-out and provide her a comparative cost analysis between the mayor’s plan and the AIA/Cooper renovation plan.

Fast forward to September. The CFO sent Patterson a letter summarizing and analyzing the findings of what he identifies as the PSA-Dewberry Report Update comparing renovation with building new. Will it surprise you to learn that after six years of waiting, and after Patterson’s specific request, the AIA/Cooper plan still has not been costed-out? Whatever the PSA-Dewberry Report is based on, it is not the AIA/Cooper plan, nor indeed is it a plan that has ever been discussed at any Board of Library Trustees meeting. Whoever oversaw this report owes the citizens of the District an apology — and a report, as requested. This one makes a mockery of the public process.

Be on hand to demand an explanation at the third hearing in this matter: Friday October 27, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 412 of the Wilson Building. For further details or to present testimony, contact Evelyn Bourne-Gould, Legislative Assistant to the Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation, at 724-8195, or via E-mail at

[The October 27 hearing will also focus on the administration’s new proposal to dispose of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Central Library and to relocate the central library to the old Carnegie Library. The Chief Financial Officer’s September 15 letter to Councilmember Patterson is available at; the financial charts in the PSA-Dewberry Report are at (in PDF format); and the EDAW study for the DC Public Library Foundation of the feasibility of moving the central library to the old Carnegie Library is at (in PDF format). — Gary Imhoff]


Emergency Contacts on IDs/Drivers Licenses in the District
Joan Eisenstodt,

I renewed my non-drivers ID recently and was not asked for my emergency contact. It seems a brilliant idea — and from Florida, no less. The state of Florida added a feature effective October 2 that allows you to enter up to two emergency contacts (with three numbers each) to your driver’s license. Florida drivers can go to the web site, and click on the emergency contact link. It will ask for their driver’s license number and birth date. Then they can enter in their emergency contact’s name, address, and contact phone numbers. Click save and you’re done!

If you were in an accident they would run your driver’s license and your emergency contact info would come up. It would save them a lot of time trying to track down your relatives. Hopefully, none of us will ever need it.


Navy Blue
Paul Williams,

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. Has anyone else noticed the water in the Navy Memorial fountains across from the National Archives is a sick color of blue? The water churns baby blue in the aerated sections of the fountain. It used to be clear, as I remember. It now looks like a college prank, but the color has been there for months now. Is this intentional?


The Undeclared War on DC Families
Dennis Moore, Republican Write-In DC Mayoral Candidate,

Even as a write-in mayoral candidate, I sincerely expect and wish the best for the expected winners of DC’s mayoral and council member elections. Nevertheless, I cannot and will never ignore the daily realities of ongoing socioeconomic suffering by the District’s low-income to middle-class families. My family is among them. There is an undeclared war on District of Columbia families. Pretentious public officials, media-elected candidates, and assorted special interests continue to divide and control our city. Behind the headlines, DC residents are reaching the breaking point of social and economic discontent. The hype and deception continues. Recent US Census figures, when sorted and filtered for actual full-time non-transient residents, show the reality of DC population losses in families, permanent residents, and long-term middle-class taxpayers. These losses will create the coming District budget deficits and fiscal imbalances — especially when much of our money will go to a new baseball stadium, dysfunctional DC agencies, and other revenue-wasting mayoral initiatives. Simply, families need good schools, affordable housing, public safety, accessible healthcare, local jobs, and neighborhood retail services. Simply, families leave when these assets are missing. Selling-off our schools and land to condo developers won’t help.

Based on DC Board of Elections figures, over two-thirds of eligible DC Primary voters did not vote. Hype, the hypocrisy of DC democracy, and special interest candidates suppress voter turnout. Over 285,000 District voters who didn’t vote want real change. District discontent continues and increases throughout diverse hard working communities. It should be no surprise that our rising discontent has less to do with party politics, economic status, ethnic group, ward issue, or unresolved community complaints ignored by District officials. Our discontent is deeply rooted in the serious lack of real accountability, genuine respect and effective action on the actual common needs of everyday DC residents. This discontent can be eliminated by a mayor with the genuine will, innovative leadership, and a real action plan to aggressively and always act in the best interest of District citizens first.

Electing a progressive Republican or other DC mayoral candidate in a city-state long dominated and dependent on Democratic public officials may seem like an impossible challenge — while struggling for fair DC news media attention. But, I confidently believe most District voters are ahead of anyone acting on the hype of an alleged “mandate” and “landslide.” Can we afford four more years of self-serving promises based on shaky records that provide minimal socioeconomic empowerment? Are low expectations our highest standard? Ironically, some of the same DC public officials heard, mismanaged and paid lip service to the problems they now claim they want to solve — now that they are candidates. No doubt, we can no longer find comfort in public officials who are again all too comfortable with another opportunity for unaccountable, arrogant, fiscally irresponsible District governance.

We all know this is the time to make real change. Beyond the millions in special interest campaign money and media hype, District of Columbia citizens still want genuine leadership of change and empowerment -- a change to policies and priorities directly benefiting us, the people. Change will come from a new standard of District leadership and vision. Vision without a real action plan is just campaign hype and style. Hopefully, most of us will vote — vote for real change on Tuesday, November 7. Your comments and responses are most welcomed at or a direct web page visit to


Outrageously Generous Ballpark Cap to Be Busted for First of Many Times
Ed Delaney,

From “Government officials who have talked to Gandhi said he thinks the city could be liable for up to $100 million in penalties to the Nationals under a worst-case scenario, although the letter does not give a specific amount.” Once again, convenient yet unverifiable numbers from city officials are being used to urge a course of action, this time to breach the ballpark cost cap in a massive way to cover parking overruns at the current unworkable site. And if anyone thinks that more overruns, whether caused by the land costs or environmental issues or post-lease and CAA add-ons and private suite improvements demanded by the Lerners, will be unnecessary hasn’t a clue.

From “Gandhi says only three options remain. All of those options require either millions more in city funds or approval from the Nationals. Last week the City Council failed to agree on any of these options.” Gotta love the scenario being painted here. Nowhere is it pointed out that the city could challenge the entitlement by MLB and the Lerners to any and all penalties due to shortcomings on their part from the added expenses made at their behest and failure to provide key financial and legal documentation to the city over six months after it was due. Nowhere is it pointed out that the city could make the deadlines or at worst only incur $5 million to $19 million in potential penalties from MLB while saving countless millions in land costs and potential lawsuit damages from the pending litigation from existing landowners, zoning hurdles, transportation and infrastructure improvements, and environmental and parking overruns while recapturing every available dime of development rights it stands to lose now at the current unworkable site and solving the transportation and parking issues in one fell swoop by moving the stadium to the RFK Stadium site. Suddenly, $611 million would be more than enough to build this ballpark with materials that don’t suggest an airport terminal or a greenhouse and without parking garages looming in the outfield. Existing legislation demands that this move not only be considered along with Gandhi’s three options but actually calls for it to occur, especially with this latest breach of the cap.

Instantly, the project’s most troubling costs already listed would shrink away, allowing the project to be completed not as a cut-rate “Buick or Ford” greenhouse that will be as alluring a structure as FedEx Field but as a topflight stadium and destination without its charm and ambiance value-engineered away as it has been. Such a move to the RFK Stadium site could unleash a tremendous amount of development in the city where it is truly needed, where there is space enough to do it properly without giving development rights away to the likes of Herb Miller to cover overruns, and where shopping dollars are escaping to the suburbs at an alarming rate with nothing in place to stop it. This would also permit the already burgeoning southeast corridor to undergo a more complementary development that will maximize the potential of that site as a continuation of downtown and a new neighborhood rather than another manufactured entertainment destination, with this one possibly the least accessible in the city and most underutilized on all but eighty-one days a year (less with doubleheaders, of course!).

From “The stadium agreement provides the Nationals no more than $2.5 million if parking isn’t available as required in March 2008, Council Member David Catania said during a recent council meeting. It’s worth the penalty, he said, to wait a year and do it ‘thoughtful and circumspect.’ ‘I need us to stop this chocolate-factory mentality,’ Catania said, ‘that if we don’t hurry up and jump to their tune, the sky will fall.’” Further breakdowns of the numbers will prove just how important it is for the city to undertake a thorough and independent analysis of the cost and benefits of stopping the hemorrhaging of public money that has public officials throwing more good money after bad at the current site as the only answer. There’s still a chance to do this right and build a ballpark that’s like Camden Yards (and not in name only) and brings as much to the city as that ballpark did.


One Vote Short
Leo Alexander, Brightwood,

I sincerely hope one vote short is not going to be the forecast for future Mayor Fenty emergency proposals coming before the new city council. If so, we’re in for a long four years. Case in point, the new stadium-parking proposal: Fenty needed nine votes to get it passed and got 8. The Post reported on October 19 [] that Fenty focused his lobbying effort heavily on Phil Mendelson, but the two-term incumbent held fast to his no vote.

Here’s what’s at stake — a proposal that would have allowed the stadium to have its allotted parking spaces finished by opening day 2008. Fenty’s proposal would have cost the city an additional $31 million, on top of the $25 million already budgeted for parking. However, this proposal had it passed would surely have prevented the owners of the baseball team from potentially suing the city because of its failure to provide the required spaces by opening day. How much do you think that will end up costing us? Try tens of millions — easy.

It’s my contention that all of this could have been avoided had someone on Fenty’s transition team thoroughly evaluated the five councilmembers who voted no. First, they should have been able to count the yes votes before the proposal went before the council for a vote. That strategy would have avoided any potential public embarrassment on behalf of the soon-to-be mayor. Second, it is a waste of time to lobby Mendelson and Catania. They are both currently running for reelection and this only gives them more fodder for their campaigns. Third, Schwartz and Barry are safe. So politically, they can afford to make a statement vote. Now, that leaves soon-to-be unemployed Ward 5’s Vincent B. Orange, Sr. Here is your potential swing vote against the emergency parking proposal. I suggest that someone on the transition team should approach him and find out what he wants most, on his way out, for his northeast constituents. After coming in fourth in the four horse democratic primary race for mayor, I’d be willing to bet that Orange has everything to gain and nothing to lose by supporting this Fenty proposal. Give him some dignity, get his vote, and end this mess. Now that you’ve got your ninth vote, get them back to the dais as soon as possible to make it official.

Then the new Fenty administration can tackle other hot-button issues like finding a new police chief, formulating a collaborative atmosphere with the newly elected school board, and devising a plan for affordable housing and a comprehensive health care system anchored by a full service hospital with a Level-1 trauma center on the site of DC General. These are some of the quality of life issues I would like to see our new mayor address, and not get bogged down in a no-win defense over stadium parking. Besides the hole has already been dug — what’s $31 more million to fill it in? At this point, none of us have to like it; we’ve just got to get it done.


Dirty Deals
Kathy Henderson, 5B10,

Your comments about the New Town Development and unsophisticated Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners are offensive [themail, October 22]. I testified in support of the project on October 20, because it is a development project that will greatly benefit Ward 5 and our city. The project is expected to have a substantial retail component and a 40 percent affordable housing component for buyers within the range of 50 to 120 percent of the area median income (which is approximately $85,000.00 for the region). The project will allow firefighters, police officers, and our working citizens the opportunity to own a home in the District of Columbia. Home ownership in the District is approximately 46 percent; we need to increase the homeownership rate to grow our tax base and maintain our current level of fiscal solvency.

The New Town project will provide 5000 immediate construction jobs and 9000 permanent jobs, underscoring a 1.2 billion dollar development opportunity. The project will also feature recreational amenities, office buildings, an amphitheater, restaurants, and markets; and it will absolutely revitalize a blighted, malodorous, rat infested area of our city. The current market is the scene of numerous crimes that undermine public safety and drain Fifth District police resources. Crime statistics for the Fifth District clearly document and attest to my assertions here.

The New Town project is an excellent example of a public private partnership that will greatly benefit the citizens of Ward 5 and our city at large. It is time for Ward 5 citizens to enjoy parity and opportunities that citizens in other wards enjoy. I applaud the vision of the eleven cosponsors of Bill 16-868. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Councilmembers Catania and Schwartz and expect their unreadiness regarding this project to be discussed and hopefully resolved in a collegial manner. Finally, I support preserving the historic Union Market and look forward to a reasonable spirit of negotiations to address the concerns that some owners and Gallaudet University have. My support of this project is based solely upon my belief in utilitarianism, underscoring the greatest good for the greatest number. As the elected representative for the good citizens residing in ANC 5B10, it is my responsibility to advocate for their interests. The New Town Development project outlined in Bill 16-868 serves my constituent’s interests, Ward 5 citizen’s interests, and our city’s interests.



DISB’S Moneywise, October 27
Michelle Phipps-Evans,

The DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking hosts DISB’s Moneywise, a consumer information fair on Friday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th St., NW, Old Council Chambers, Lobby Level South. This free public event is your one-stop financial information fair that features mini-workshops, and more than twenty exhibitors from select nonprofits and government agencies that provide a range of resources for managing personal finances. Find out about your insurance needs, financial fraud, credit counseling, wise investing, payday loans, and check cashers. For more information, contact Lucy Drafton at 442-7775, E-mail:, or visit DISB’s web site at under “Consumers.”


Southwest Public Library Book Sale, October 28
Andy Litsky,

Friends of the Southwest Public Library will hold their fall book sale on Saturday, October 28, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The Southwest Library is located at 3rd and K Streets, SW, at Wesley Place, one block from Metro’s Waterfront Green Line stop. Most hardbacks are priced at 50 cents and paperbacks at 25 cents. Thousands of political science, children’s books, fiction, mysteries, science fiction, art books, religion, music CDs, and cassettes will be on sale. For more info call 724-4752.


Woodridge Library Book Sale, October 28
Suzanne Griffith,

The Friends of the Woodridge Public Library is holding a used book sale on Saturday, October 28. We have hardcovers, paperbacks, fiction, nonfiction, books for adults, books for children, books on tape, records, videos, and more. All proceeds will benefit the library. The library is located at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 18th Street, NE. Call 541-6226 or send an E-mail to for more information.

We’re also accepting donations of books, videos/DVDs, records, comic books, and the like.


Redskins Film at the Library, October 31
India Young,

Tuesday, October 31, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 307. View the film, “Greatest Moments in Washington Redskins History,” a film highlighting historic games and plays of the Redskins from the 1930’s to the 1990’s. For more information, call 727-1213. Young adults-Adults.


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