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December 3, 2006


Dear Correctors:

There’s been some side correspondence about an item in the last issue of themail, but since none of it was submitted for publication, I’ll just describe it. In the last issue, Leo Alexander praised Mayor-elect Fenty’s "bold and decisive leadership," and welcomed a "new era of accountability." As one example, he berated Councilmember David Catania’s oversight of the Department of Mental Health and the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration, and recommended that Fenty “should demand a full accounting of where these errors took place and require an outside independent agency to certify the findings. Then the appropriate heads should roll.” This caught the eye of a member of Councilmember Catania’s staff, who wrote, “Couldn’t help but notice the irony that Leo Alexander spent two-and-a-half paragraphs lavishing praise on Fenty and then said David’s ‘head should roll’ for lapses in oversight of DMH and MRDDA. Last time I checked Fenty had oversight of MRDDA.” In fact, Fenty chairs the Committee on Human Services, which does have oversight responsibility for the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration. Leo Alexander replied that he had called the Committee on Health and been told by a staffer that it did have oversight over the MRDDA. In any case, consider the correction made.

Gary Imhoff


The Coming Week
Dorothy Brizill,

Fewer than thirty days remain until January 2, 2007, when the District will inaugurate a new mayor, council chairman, and school board president. As the sixteenth legislative session comes to an end and the terms of some councilmembers (Cropp, Patterson, Orange, Ambrose, and Fenty) end, there will be last-ditch efforts to seek approval of certain legislative initiatives.

On Monday, December 4, Mayor-elect Fenty, Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, Council Chairman-elect Vincent Gray, and Councilmember Jack Evans will be in New York to meet with bond-rating agencies (Standard and Poors, Moody’s, and Fitch). On Tuesday, December 5, the current council will hold its penultimate legislative session. Controversial bills on the agenda include the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2006, Bill 16-876; the Inclusionary Zoning Implementation Act of 2006, Bill 16-779; the District of Columbia Green Building Act of 2006 (Bill 16-515); the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Designation Act of 2006, Bill 16-891; the Biennial Mayor and Council Compensation Advisory Commission Establishment Amendment Act of 2006, Bill 16-1001, which will provide a salary increase of the mayor and councilmembers; the Community Access to Health Care Omnibus Amendment Act of 2006, Bill 16-913, legislative that would replace Mayor Williams’s and Howard University’s National Capital Medical Center (NCMC) proposal with the construction of a healthplex on Reservation 13 (the DC General Hospital site) and two ambulatory centers in Wards 7 and 8; the Use of Closed Circuit Television to Combat Crime Amendment Act of 2006, Bill 16-894; and the National Malpractice Insurance Reform Act of 2006, Bill 16-334.

The fates of two mayoral legislative initiatives are in doubt because they had not been placed on the council’s agenda as of Friday. Bill 16-734, the Library Transformation Act of 2006, would authorize the city’s disposing of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Central Library in a 99-year lease deal and replacing it with a smaller central library on the old Convention Center site. That bill was tabled on November 21 by the council’s Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation. The committee’s chair, Kathy Patterson, has indicated that she will not try to move the mayor’s bill as emergency legislation or to discharge the bill from the committee. On the other hand, Vincent Orange, acting on behalf of former Councilmember John Ray’s latest project, will attempt to discharge Bill 16-868, the New Town at Capital City Market Revitalization Development and Public/Private Partnership Act of 2006, from Sharon Ambrose’s Economic Development Committee and to move it as emergency legislation.

Also on December 4, the Fenty transition organization will hold its Ward 3 town meeting at the University of the District of Columbia, Building 47, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, at 6:30 p.m. The Ward 2 town hall meeting will be held on Thursday, December 7, at the Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 7th Street, NW, at 6:30 p.m. On Friday, December 8, Mayor-elect Fenty; Victor Reinoso, his appointee as Deputy Mayor for Education; and members of the city council will travel to New York City to meet with Mayor Bloomberg regarding Bloomberg’s takeover of New York’s public schools. There is no indication that the delegation will meet with any of the parent and teacher groups who think that the mayoral school takeover has been less than a resounding success.


Broadcast News
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

The wholesale purge of the long-term broadcasters at NBC 4 TV is reminiscent of the movie Broadcast News. When big companies start to lose profits they cut costs. In this case, the network is either losing money or their profits are down. The solution -- fire all the high-paid persons in stations on the network and replace them with lower paid personnel. This is a death spiral for NBC 4 since viewers, including me, will switch to one of the other network stations.


Street Sweeping Hiatus
Mary Myers,

As it does every winter, the Department of Public Works will temporarily suspend weekly signed residential street cleaning. This year’s sweeper hiatus will start earlier than usual, on December 4, and will extend to March 31, 2007. This longer period will allow DPW to shift personnel sooner from street sweeping duties in order to focus on fall leaf collection, and it will keep employees in place longer to cope with any late season snow removal. During this time, “No Parking/Street Cleaning” restrictions will also be lifted. Residents and visitors who park along posted, alternate-side, daytime street sweeping routes will not be required to move their cars on street-cleaning days during the sweeper hiatus. Posted residential street cleaning resumes Monday, April 2, 2007.

However, overnight sweeping scheduled for the District’s major arterials (such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Constitution, Independence Avenues, and others) will take place as usual all winter, with the attendant parking ban during sweeping hours. Motorists are urged not to park in these areas during the posted overnight hours. As colder weather approaches, motorists are also reminded that during declared snow emergencies, vehicles can be ticketed and towed if they remain parked on designated snow emergency routes. Look for the red and white signs before parking this winter.


How Would Fannie Lou Hamer Be Using the Internet Today?
Phil Shapiro,

A few years ago I did some work at the MLK library downtown training adult literacy learners how to use computers and the Internet. One of my coworkers, Stephon Gray, introduced me to the life journey of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Stephon had written a concise biography of Fannie Lou Hamer which he narrated and put up on the web. I sat beside him while he did this. (See the two-minute QuickTime file at On that day in February 1996, I set myself a life goal to love freedom half as much as Fannie Lou Hamer. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I’m heading in the direction of getting there.

Towards this end, this past summer I started wondering how Fannie Lou Hamer would use some of the free citizen journalism tools on the Internet. The free tools available are powerful, but there’s one tool that’s missing — a way for anyone to video interview anyone on the Internet, with the resulting video having crystal clear audio. Fannie Lou Hamer needs crystal clear audio for her words to carry their full meaning. Other community activists also need very clear audio. So is there any possible way to get very clear audio in a video interview conducted over the Internet? (Continued at


Math in DC Schools
Barry Garelick,

I have asked this question before, so my apologies. Any reactions from parents over the math that is being taught your children in the DC elementary schools? They use a program called Everyday Mathematics. I’d be curious if there are parents who have hired tutors or are sending their kids to Sylvan, Kumon, or other learning centers to ensure their kids are learning math.


Jack Kemp Calls on Congress to Pass DC Voting Rights Act
Ken Kiger,

Jack Kemp has released the following statement on the DC Voting Rights Act: “There remains a strong possibility of enacting the DC Voting Rights Act during the lame duck session of Congress. Conversations I have had with House and Senate leadership about the bill have been positive and encouraging. Leaders in Utah are doing their part to lay the groundwork for enactment of the DC Voting Rights Act. I am hopeful they will reject doubts raised by unnamed sources in Washington, and continue to take the necessary steps to craft a four-seat map on Monday.

“Voting rights groups such as DC Vote, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and others are pounding the pavement to educate Congress that we can give democracy to citizens of our nation’s capital by the end of the year. I support their efforts and lend my voice to the cause. I call on Congress to pass the DC Voting Rights Act next week during the lame duck session. Tom Davis is a strong leader on this issue and has bipartisan support for the bill. This can not wait. History will record those who took this issue over the goal line, not who moved the ball down the field.

“We have built up momentum this year to complete the unfinished business of American democracy. Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud of the work done thus far. However, we should not put off until next year a civil rights victory we can achieve today.”


Washington, DC, Wants What Utah Wants
Sam Jordan,

Utahans are giddy with the prospect of a new seat in Congress. If Bill H.R. 5388, is enacted into law, the deed will have been done except for a few years of lawsuits seeking to protect the US Constitution from this shameful political manipulation.

According to the Constitution, only a state may have a full vote in Congress. H.R. 5388 does not confer statehood upon the District of Columbia. Instead, Washington, with its nonwhite majority, must be "balanced" by Utah, the reddest and whitest state in the nation. Just as Hawaii, with its nonwhite majority, had to be balanced by Alaska, with its white majority, as a nonnegotiable condition of its admission to the union in 1959.

Should the seat given Washington be found unconstitutional, Utah could keep its new seat, since it’s a state. "Severability" is the legal term. But what do the residents of Washington, DC, really want? Nothing less than full citizenship. Just like any others who pay federal taxes and fight in the wars for democracy — just like Utahans. Has it crossed Utahans’ minds that you too are asking the residents of the capital of the free world to just be grateful for anything they can get?


The Supremacy Clause, Guns, and DC Slots
Paul Wilson, dcmcrider at gmail dot com

It would seem to this amateur constitutional scholar that, Mr. Seftor’s mention of the Tenth Amendment notwithstanding, the salient issue is the Supremacy Clause in Article VI: “This Constitution, and the law of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be Supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The argument that a DC citizen’s initiative can trump federal law is not unlike the reasoning behind the DC government’s defense of the handgun ban in the case of Seegars v. Ashcroft. Back in the February 29, 2004, issue of themail Gary Imhoff wrote: “Another memorandum to the defenders of home rule: if you believe that citizens of DC are full citizens of the United States and should have all the rights of other citizens, you have to defend that principle consistently and advocate the equality of DC residents all the time. You can’t abandon the cause of our equality when it conflicts with your other political causes. On January 14, District Court Judge Reggie Walton wrote a truly appalling opinion in the case of Seegars et al. v. Ashcroft & Williams. Over a month ago, Paul Wilson wrote to themail decrying this decision (‘Some US Citizens Are More Equal than Others,’ January 18), [] but Wilson’s message didn’t garner any support. Much of Walton’s opinion is conventional, in that he advocates the well-known but controversial modern line of legal interpretation of the Second Amendment that is hostile to individual rights. Walton turns the Second Amendment into a nullity by interpreting it as granting no individual right to own weapons, but only as granting a right to be armed to those who must be armed as members of state militias. But Walton goes further when he agrees with the argument made by DC’s Corporation Counsel, representing Mayor Williams, that DC citizens do not have any Second Amendment rights at all. ‘The Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia,’ Walton wrote, and he was led to this decision by our own mayor and Corporation Counsel, who argued against our Constitutional rights and our coverage by the Bill of Rights, who argued in their brief that we do not and should not enjoy the rights of other citizens.”

In that case, the mayor’s then-spokesman Tony Bullock, and others who are no slouches when it came to beating the statehood drums, rushed to the microphones to celebrate the ban’s upholding. It would seem the idea of statehood and full constitutional rights for DC residents were eminently expendable when it came to a liberal nostrum like gun control. So much so that the Corporation Counsel walked into federal court to argue plainly for DC’s non-statehood. As Gary summarized above, the courts have applied the collective right interpretation for quite some time, and that was all that was needed to uphold the ban. Indeed, in Parker v. DC, the court upheld the ban on those narrow grounds. But Walton didn’t stop there; he piled on. Following the Corporation Counsel’s lead, the judge ruled that since DC is not a state and the Second Amendment only applied to the fifty states, then DC was perfectly free to circumvent a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It would seem that, just like Messrs. Coe and Seftor, when it comes to gun control it is not enough that DC become a state subject to constitutional norms. They want it to be a ten-mile-square outlier, a free-ranging uber-state. That ought to be a fearsome prospect regardless of your political persuasion.


DC Gambling
Malcolm Wiseman, Washington Free DC!,

Mr. Coe is right on the money with his comments re: DC gambling. I live in DC, I like guns, and I think we should own guns legally and responsibly. Except for the occasional $2 bet on the big Lotto, I don’t gamble with money at all, and I don’t believe we need gambling casinos here in our city-state.

So, the neighborhood bully happens to be on my side today. I should be happy that I’m getting my way. Instead, I’m angered by her repeated and unwanted interference (Columbia’s).

Our local decisions are ours to make. They should not be second-guessed and fouled by outside congressional interference. What makes people think this crap would stop if we were to get one or three votes in Congress? This is why statehood (territoryhood) is critical. It’s all about autonomy, period.


Steel in the Ground
Bill Coe,

Let me answer Mr. Delaney’s sputtering response [themail, November 22] to my comments on his earlier postings about the new baseball stadium. My submitted remarks were a bit lengthy, so Mr. Imhoff quite reasonably abbreviated them [in the E-mail version; the posting was complete in the online version]. The part he dropped explained that, in several respects, I do agree with Mr. Delaney and others who suspiciously regard this project. Like them, I believe the District can and should be more assertive in negotiations with the Lerners and Major League Baseball. I also think it would be a big mistake to engage Dan Snyder in talks on a return of the Redskins to the District.

I’d hoped our new mayor would play a stronger hand in protecting and advancing the city’s main interest in that new ballpark — i.e., the larger developments it will anchor. Unfortunately, early signs are not encouraging. I think nonetheless that arguments over the project should proceed from two assumptions -- that the stadium is going to be built at its current location, and that our elected officials are acting in good faith to secure needed improvements in that section of the city. Enough with the vitriol. Let’s get down to business!


Tenley and Rockville Libraries
Brigid Quinn,

I’d be curious to learn the geographic parameters of the area served by the library in Rockville [see Ed Barron, themail, November 29]. I suspect that it is far larger than the area served by the Tenley Library. I also suspect that many, if not most, of the Rockville library’s users have to drive to avail themselves of its services. Quickly reconstructing the Tenley Library should probably not be at the top of the city’s capital spending priorities. Anyone living in the Tenley Circle area can easily jump on the Metro and be at the MLK Library in fifteen or twenty minutes, and the Cleveland Park Library isn’t that far away from Tenley. This city is small. That every neighborhood is not served by its own library branch in my view is not a good basis for labeling DC dysfunctional, nor an acceptable reason to oppose statehood or any other form of full self determination.



Gifts for Good Market, December 2
Amy Weiss, Point Blank Public Affairs,

The Gifts for Good Market to benefit the needy worldwide will be held on Saturday, December 2, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, 4700 Whitehaven Parkway, NW, between MacArthur Boulevard and Foxhall Road. For more information, call or E-mail Julie Anbender, 295-0165,

The Gifts for Good Market, staffed by children and parents, will provide the opportunity to purchase gifts from and for a number of organizations serving the community and the world. Kids can even make crafts and cards to tell friends and family that a donation was made in their honor. The “gifts for good” include a year of nutritious lunches for a student at St. Patrick’s sister school in Haiti ($25); a goat for families in the developing world (Heifer International); a direct loan to a budding entrepreneur in Latin America and elsewhere (Kiva); helping an uninsured family in DC get the medical care they need (Community of Hope); "adopting" an endangered animal or assisting with environmental repair (World Wildlife Fund); restoring the sight on an individual in the developing world through cataract surgery for $50 (Seva); and more.


DC Public Library Events, December 6-7, following
India Young,

Wednesday, December 6, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Main Lobby. Women and Deafness: Double Visions: A Roundtable Discussion. In celebration of Clerc-Gallaudet Week, December 3-9, join Dr. Susan Burch, a professor in the Department of History at Gallaudet University, and other contributing writers for a book discussion. For more information, call 727-2145 voice or 727-2255 TTY, or send an E-mail to

Wednesday, December 6, 7:00 p.m., Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW. Shepherd Park Speaks: An Author Series. When Duty Calls by Faith Deveaux will be discussed. For more information, call 541-6025.

Wednesdays, December 6, 13, 20, 27, 4:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 110. Need help with your homework, science fair project or research papers? Young Adult Services Division is sponsoring peer tutoring and cross-age tutoring for young adults in grades 6-8. Honor roll students will help their peers in math, reading, spelling, writing and language arts. Ages 11-14. For more information, call 727-5535.

December 6-30, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 110. Chess League for teens. Vaughn Bennett, an instructor at the Olympic Chess House and the CABLE Foundation, will instruct young adults in chess. The following neighborhood libraries will also host the program: Capitol View every Wednesday at 4 p.m.; Francis A. Gregory on Fridays at 4 p.m.; and Washington Highlands on Thursdays at 4 p.m.. Teens can participate in the Chess Challenge every Saturday at 2:30 p.m., at MLK. All participants and finalists will receive trophies and prizes. This program is made possible with a grant from the DC Public Library Foundation. Public contact: 727-5535.

Thursday, December 7, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Room A-5. Brown Bag Recital Series. Surprise Concert! Trios for the rare combination of two cellos and a tuba! Cellist Vasily Popov and guest artists, Michael Parker on tuba, Jeff Van Osten on cello, and Marvin Mills on piano. For more information, call 727-1285.

Thursday, December 7, 2:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 221. Discuss the short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway. For more information, call 727-1281.


Community Meetings, December 9, 11
George Idelson, Cleveland Park Citizens Association,

Saturday, December 9, 10:15 a.m.-noon at the Cleveland Park Library. “What’s Ahead for the DC Council?” Speakers: Vincent Gray, DC Council Chairman-Elect (10:30-11:30 a.m.) and Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Councilmember-Elect (11:30 a.m.-noon). Sponsored by the Cleveland Park and Forest Hills Citizens Associations and Woodley Park Community Association.

Monday, December 11, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Macomb Street at Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Progress Report: Plans for Giant Supermarket and Related Development on Wisconsin Ave. Speakers: Tony Colavolpe, Senior Vice President of Stop and Shop; and PowerPoint presentation by Street Works, an urban design firm. Q & A period to follow. Sponsored by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3C and the Cleveland Park Citizens Association.


Handel’s Messiah by Shiloh Senior Choir, December 10
Hazel Thomas,

Shiloh Baptist Church Senior Senior Choir proudly presents Handel’s Messiah, A Sacred Oratorio. Thomas Dixon Tyler, conductor; Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, co-director; Everett P. Williams, Jr., guest organist; Lisa Edwards-Burrs, soprano; Julie Moore, mezzo soprano; Roderick Dixon, tenor; and Theodore Jones, baritone. Also featuring the Shiloh Youth Choir, the Shiloh Liturgical Dancers, the Amidon Elementary School Choir, and ochestra with timpani. Sunday, December 10, 5:00 p.m., at Shiloh Baptist Church. Free.


Building the Gotthard Base Tunnel, December 12
Lauren Searl,

Tuesday, December 12, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Construction of the world’s largest tunnel. Ambros Zgraggen, deputy director of communications at AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd., a subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways, will discuss the project AlpTransit. In particular, he will focus on progress of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, a flat rail link for future travel through the Alps and, at 34 miles, the world’s longest tunnel. This program is presented in collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland. $12 Museum members, Friends of Switzerland, and students; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


AARP Annual Christmas Luncheon, December 13
Vera Abbott,

The Washington Highlands Chapter #4870 of AARP, Inc., cordially invite you to our annual Christmas luncheon, Wednesday, December 13, from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m., at the Market Inn Restaurant, 200 E Street, SW. Cost: $25.00 per person. Please RSVP by December 6 to Chair-Elect Virginia Major, 3301 5th Street, SE, phone 561-2837; or for details contact Vera Abbott, 561-8611. Annual chapter membership is $12.00.


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