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November 5, 2006

New Toys

Dear Toymakers:

A peculiar press release appeared in the E-mail this week. As you know, Mayor Williams wants to dispose of the city’s historic architectural landmark Martin Luther King, Jr., Central Library, and he wants the city council to approve of his costly plan to replace it with a smaller new library to be built on an awkward triangular corner of the old Convention Center site. Presumptive incoming mayor Adrian Fenty has said that he supports this plan, even though he has attended no public or council hearings on it and has never spoken with advocates of renovating and updating the MLK Library. Fenty seems intent on embracing all of Williams’s worst mistakes early in his term. In addition to throwing away MLK, one of the city government’s most important buildings, he wants to repeat Williams’s attempted power grab to take over the school system and thus to accept personal blame for all the failings of the school system;, and he is now emerging as a champion of throwing good money after bad into the baseball stadium money pit.

One of the major arguments for disposing of MLK is that the building is in bad shape. As I’ve said before, the administration’s argument is that they let the building run down so badly that now they should be allowed to get rid of it. This is a variant of the destructive child’s plea, “Mommy, I’ve broken all my toys; buy me new ones.” One of the things in MLK that hasn’t worked well for decades is its elevator system. The elevators have worked only sporadically, and have been repaired and patched up frequently. But now that the mayor and incoming mayor want to get rid of the library, DCPL is finally going to do a complete makeover of MLK’s elevators. Here’s that peculiar press release: “The District of Columbia Office of Contracting and Procurement on behalf of the DC Public Library has awarded two contracts to Keystone Plus Construction of Washington, DC, for the modernization of elevators. One contract will modernize elevators at Capitol View, Francis A. Gregory, and Woodridge neighborhood libraries. The second contract will modernize three elevators in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. The contracts specify modernizing the elevators, which includes new controls, computer controlled monitoring system, cab interiors, shaft rails, lighting, and emergency phones. The $418,471 branch elevator project and $550,000 central library elevator project will bring these elevators back into service. The modernization work also will bring these library elevators up to code with District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs regulations. Work on the elevators is slated to begin in mid-January 2007. All elevators will be operational by May 2007.”

So, after neglecting MLK for years, the DC government is going to spend $550,000 on elevators in a building that it wants to get rid of. Is this just an example of governmental inefficiency and wastefulness, or is it a half million dollar gift to the unnamed and undisclosed developer that is going to lease MLK? Or, being foolishly hopeful, is it a sign that at least some people in DCPL and the government are reasonable and recognize that MLK should be saved and renovated?

Gary Imhoff


Tuesday’s Election
Dorothy Brizill,

On Tuesday, DC voters will go to the polls to elect a delegate to Congress; a mayor; council chairman; two at-large councilmembers as well as councilmembers for Wards 1, 3, and 5; and the school board president as well as school board representatives for District 3 (Wards 5 and 6) and District 4 (Wards 7 and 8). Sample ballots by ward, a list of candidates, individual voter registration status, and polling locations can all be checked on the DC Board of Elections and Ethics’ web site, Two voter guides with information on individual candidates are available from the Washington Post ( and the DC League of Women Voters (

During the September primary, various jurisdictions, including Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties, experienced problems with their voting machines and voting procedures. In the District, Phil Blair, with the DC Statehood-Green Party, has documented a series of ballot irregularities in Ward 5 that are currently being investigated by the BOEE. District residents, however, are protected by a voters’ bill of rights that was adopted by the BOEE pursuant to the federal Help America Vote Act. These rights include, among others, a right of privacy; a right to vote a provisional ballot if your name is not on the list of voters in your precinct; a right to receive a new ballot if you make a mistake in filling it out, before the ballot is cast; a right to cast a ballot if you are in line when the precinct closes; a right to be free from threats or intimation; and a right to cast a ballot using voting equipment that accurately counts all votes.

If, on Tuesday, you experience any difficulty in casting a ballot or witness an irregularity that could constitute a violation of the District’s election laws or procedures, you should first report it to the precinct captain. If the issue isn’t resolved or if you believe the matter should be brought to the attention of the Board of Elections, you can contact the Board’s general counsel, Kenneth McGhie (727-2194, fax 628-5952, You can also send a copy of any complaint you make to DCWatch will be making its own observations at polling places on election day.


Opt-In Municipal Aggregation Program for Electricity; Deadline November 14
Ann Loikow,

This message was sent by Elizabeth A. Noel, the People’s Counsel: “The District of Columbia Office of the People’s Counsel (OPC) invites all District electricity consumers to look into the Municipal Aggregation Program (DC MAP) II as a possible retail choice. DC MAP is designed to combine the purchasing power of the DC government, residential consumers, and several universities and hospitals to purchase electricity at a low fixed cost. Through the DC MAP program, participants can seek electricity from a supplier other than PEPCO, at a price lower than PEPCO currently offers.

“DC MAP is open to any electricity customer residing in the District of Columbia. At this time participation is voluntary, i.e., on an ‘opt-in’ basis. Customers who choose DC MAP must return a signed opt-in card to OPC by November 14. If an electricity supplier offers savings below PEPCO’s current price, your signed opt-in card binds you to a one-year contract with the alternative supplier at the lower rate.

“Enclosed you will find a self addressed stamped envelope and an opt-in card to use if you wish to participate in the program. For your convenience, OPC has also prepared a fact sheet that responds to many of the questions other consumers have asked about participating in the program. This information also appears in area newspapers. You may check our web site too, at P.S. Yes, for the record I did sign up; I will be following the program closely.”


Big Reasons
Scott McLarty,

Before folks on this list head to the polls on election day and cast votes for the usual candidates who get the usual mountain of media coverage, I invite you to read “Ten Big Reasons to Vote DC Statehood Green on November 7” (

It’s a corrective for those who believe that politics begins and ends with two parties, or, in the District of Columbia, with one party. It’s also a reminder that voting for Statehood Green candidates will help the party maintain ballot status, and that all those Democrats who expect sweeping victories on November 7 have no right to take votes for granted or make reckless decisions (like taking over the DC Board of Education) with a presumed mandate.


Ward One Voters, Write in One Ward
William Jordan,

Ward 1 voters, write-in “One Ward” as your vote for Ward 1 city councilmember on November 7. Write in “One Ward,” and let city officials and politicians know we want true community policing, not just gimmicks such as press conferences, CC TV cameras, and police cars with flashing lights. Send a message that we are not satisfied with a public safety strategy that has us leading the city in robberies. Write in “One Ward,” and let city officials and politicians know that a healthy community needs green spaces, accessible recreation, open libraries not just schemes for “mixed use development.” Write in “One Ward,” and let city officials and politicians know that we want thoughtful management of traffic, parking, and pedestrian safety. Placing signs in front of the Reeves Center parking garage and Power Point presentations are not adequate transportation management policies.

Write in “One Ward,” and let city officials and politicians know that we want quality education and modernized schools, not games that pit school modernization against stable schools delivering quality education. Write in “One Ward,” and let city official and politicians know that we want transparent management of so-called surplus city properties, not sweetheart deals for developers. We don’t want schools, parks, and other properties in the Ward carelessly sold off when community needs continue to remain. Finally, write in “One Ward” as your vote on November 7 for Ward 1 city councilmember. Send a clear message to our councilmember that we want quality services, development, and safe streets throughout Ward 1, not politics and policies that continue to pit one area of the Ward against another or one group of neighbors against another. We should be able to walk the streets safely anywhere in Ward 1 any time of day or night. Image the response of city politicians and official when they wake up on November 8 and find that over 50 percent of Ward 1 voters voted “One Ward,” not politics as usual. Write in “One Ward” for Ward 1 city councilmember; don’t waste your vote affirming politics as usual.


Normal DPW Trash Collection on Friday
Mary Myers,

The Department of Public Works will collect trash and recycling on the Veterans Day holiday, Friday, November 10. Scheduled leaf collection will also take place. However, DPW offices will be closed and other services will be suspended, as is typical for a public holiday. All services, including parking enforcement, will resume on Saturday, November 11.

To see DPW’s entire holiday trash collection schedule, visit the web site at and select Holiday Schedule. You may also click on Agency Calendar for all DPW events.


Street Cleaner on a Sunday Morning in November
Raven McKlintock,

It was 11:15-11:30 a.m., Sunday, November 5, at 14th and N Streets, one block above Thomas Circle. A street cleaner/sweeper was out. You’ve seen them before — the red vehicles that have that electronic bleeping and the “warning, stand back” female electronic voice, bleep bleep. Does anyone know why this vehicle was out on a Sunday November morning?

It finally turned onto one way N Street against the four cars trying to turn legally with the green light, (cars parked on both sides), stared down the vehicles attempting to make legal turns, edged its way through them and the parked cars, and passed in front of N Street Village. It did not even attempt to make a stop at N and Vermont, but jerked to a short stop and then started up again to move through that intersection.

I have rarely seen (or heard) a street sweeping vehicle in this neighborhood, and certainly not on a Sunday morning in November. Was someone out for a joy ride?


Metrobus and Pennies
Jason Maloni, Foxhall Village,

I recently took the metro bus for the first time in a few years, and when I used a dollar bill and some nickels and pennies for my fare, the driver said, “You can’t use pennies.” What happened to “legal tender for all debts public and private?”


Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

I was downtown last night after the late afternoon performance of Cirque du Soleil (a delightful performance, though pricey) and went down 7th Street for a bite to eat. I was dazzled to see all the folks in the streets, restaurants, and bars. It looked like Times Square in New York on a busy evening. When the light changed at the corners of 7th Street, it looked like the front lines of two armies advancing towards each other as folks on each side of the street crossed over to the other side. It was great to see how prosperous this revitalized part of the city has become.

As you can tell, I don’t get out much after dark (haven’t seen the far side of midnight in about forty years). What a change from when we first arrived here in DC about nineteen years ago. That corridor was a wasteland. The new development (thanks to Abe Pollen) and revitalization show what can be done in an inner city. Now if only the schools can be revitalized.


Hey Dude, Where’s My Wisconsin Avenue
Jonathan R. Rees,

Unless I am imagining things, as so many others are who live along or travel each day Wisconsin Avenue, NW, it seems during each morning rush hours on Wisconsin Avenue that there are more cars queuing to leave the city than there are coming into the city. This is making the trip from Georgetown to the Chevy Chase line take about a half hour. This did not exist two years ago, and it seems to be getting worse. Wisconsin Avenue traffic is looking like Connecticut Avenue.

Some attribute this to the establishment of about five new sizable condominium communities and the opening of more retail establishments, and then argue this is evidence that any further development in Ward 3 would create an even bigger nightmare than what we are already seeing: more traffic, less parking space, more noise, elevated property values, accompanying property tax increases, plus more.

While I have never been a champion of the anti-development cause, I am now starting to see clearly what they are screaming about.


DDOT Disney World
Clyde Howard,

If you think that you have to go to Orlando, Florida, just to see Disney World, guess again. Just take a gander at the plan being pushed on people living east of the Anacostia River that is supposed to improve the traffic flow eastbound toward Maryland from the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge. This plan is at the expense of the peace and tranquility of the residents of the area. Their neighborhood streets will be inundated with traffic directed through their neighborhoods from the closing of streets.

These traffic engineers should be known as desk engineers. They have no idea of the harm that their dream world engineering places on the residents. From the way things are going, it looks like DDOT hired the same engineers who developed the Southwest Freeway to develop the plans for the improvement of traffic flows across the Anacostia and into Maryland. Anacostia residents have to stay to stay diligent in their assessment of DDOT’s plans. Don’t let them put anything over on you, because if you do you will have to endure the results of an ill-conceived plan for years to come.


Class Action Suit Against DCRA
Tolu Tolu,

I am interested in exploring filing a Class-action Suit against the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Anyone who is also interested in putting this suit together, please contact me. I am not an attorney. Call 331-4418 or E-mail


Mixed Use Libraries
Ginny Spevak,

Since my son lives in Portland, Oregon, has a degree in Urban-Regional Planning, and has worked with affordable housing there, I asked for his reaction to Richard Layman’s post [themail, November 1]. His comments may be useful: “Yep — I think Portland’s ‘Hollywood’ branch library is a great example of a library with residential uses overhead. My sense is that the residential portion of the project required more subsidy than a typical non-mixed-use project. I’ve biked past the development many times and I’ve been inside that library branch once to check it out. I give it a thumbs up.” I certainly hope something similar can be done at the Tenley Library site.


Now Watch This Drive
Mark Eckenwiler, themale at ingot dot org

My driver’s license expires next month, so I tried out the Department of Motor Vehicle’s online renewal process. It took about five minutes, and my new license arrived in the mail within a week. (According to the web site, one can’t do this every time. Applicants are periodically — once a decade, I think — required to appear in person for a new photo and vision test.) My only complaint is that DMV never notified me in the first place that my license was about to expire; with five years between renewals, I suspect most people need the reminder. Otherwise, I give DMV high marks for this episode.


Fast Drivers License Renewal in Virginia
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

I renewed my Virginia drivers license this week in under ten minutes. Stop at info desk, get a number. Sit down, am immediately called (by big display directing my number to specific window). Pass vision test, turn in old license, chat with cheerful clerk, pay $20. Sit down, am immediately called to photo area. Sit down, am immediately called to pick up license. Pretty amazing.



Hugh Howard on the Founding Fathers of American Architecture, November 8
Brian J. Lang, Dumbarton House,

On Wednesday, November 8, at 7:00 p.m., join us for a free lecture and book signing by noted author Hugh Howard. His recent publication, Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture, discusses the life and accomplishments of famed architect and historian, Fiske Kimball, and the influence of Jefferson, Latrobe, and other early American architects on his work. Kimball served as consulting architect to the 1931 restoration of Dumbarton House, a Federal period historic house museum and national headquarters for The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America.

"Hugh Howard has written not only a life of Kimball but also a history of early American architecture, told with a screenwriter’s eye for scene, character, drama, and a striking filmic juxtaposition of past and present narrative. This is a highly original fusion of the biographies of the founding fathers of American architecture — Jefferson was their progenitor — and the brilliant scholar who helped define them." (Jack McLaughlin, author of Jefferson and Monticello)

Dumbarton House is located at 2715 Q Street NW, in historic Georgetown. For more information or to make a reservation, please call 337-2288, x450, or visit our web site,


National Building Museum Events, November 9, 11
Lauren Searl,

Thursday, November 9, 6:30-8:00 p.m. The Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects is one of the world’s greatest collections of architectural drawings and related materials, from those by Andrea Palladio to Norman Foster. Charles Hind, assistant director (special collections) and H.J. Heinz, Curator of Drawings at the RIBA British Architectural Library Drawings and Archives Collection will discuss a selection of its treasures and consider recently acquired masterpieces. $12 Museum, Royal Oak Society, and AAF members and students; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.

Saturday, November 11. Walking Tours of Downtown DC: Judiciary Square, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Pennsylvania Avenue, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Martin Moeller, senior vice president and curator at the National Building Museum, will lead two different walking tours of downtown DC, focusing on buildings featured in the new edition of the AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC, which Moeller wrote under the auspices of the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Open only to Museum and AIA members, $20 each. Prepaid registration required via phone only. To register, please call the Museum beginning October 20. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


Romance Movies for Grown-Ups, November 9, 14, 21
India Young,

Tuesday and Thursday, November 9, 14, 21, 6:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Movies for Grown-ups: The Many Faces of Romance. Thursday, November 9: “Brokeback Mountain,” from E. Annie Proulx’s story of a secret and forbidden love between two cowboys. Starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Directed by Ang Lee. Tuesday, November 14: “The Fighting Temptations,” a crowd-pleasing, gospel-fueled musical comedy, with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyonce Knowles. Directed by Jonathan Lynn. Tuesday, November 21: “Catfish in Black Bean Sauce,” Chi Moui Lo wrote, directed and stars in this interracial romance involving clashing families and cultures. With Sanaa Lathan, Mary Alice, and Paul Winfield. Adults. For more information, call 727-1265.


King Memorial Ceremonial Groundbreaking, November 13
Kim Bassett,

A memorial is being built in Washington, DC, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, legacy of democracy, justice, hope, and love. Please join us for the ceremonial groundbreaking on Saturday, November 13, 9:00 a.m., on the National Mall, Independence Avenue and West Basin Drive, adjacent to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Register online at, or call 888-484-3373. For additional information, call Kim Bassett at 723-3474.


Bridge Work, December 4
Jonetta Rose Barras,

Esther Productions, Inc., Relationship and Outreach Project of The National Daughter-Daddy Reunion Tour present Bridge Work. It offers daughters, thirteen and older, and fathers a safe place to discuss issues related to absence. It also helps to guide them, using facilitators, through the process of reconciliation when they choose to reunite. Often fathers wants to reconnect with their daughters but don’t know how. This yearlong series of monthly meetings offers tools and strategies for effecting successful reunions. December 4 at The National City Christian Church, #5 Thomas Circle, NW. For more information call Esther Productions, Inc., at 232.0780 or 232-0781, or visit


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