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December 20, 2006


Dear Mandaters:

Mayor-elect Adrian Fenty has a mandate; there’s no question about that. In the primary and general elections, he won every precinct in the city, and that’s his answer to a serious challenge to any of his proposals or decisions: “One hundred forty-two precincts.” But what he won wasn’t a mandate for any particular policy, program, or platform. He didn’t run on a platform. Instead, he won a personal mandate, a vote of confidence in him as a person. He ran as a breath of fresh air, as someone whose term wouldn’t be Williams III. More importantly, he won because he gave the impression that he would listen to the citizens of the city and be responsive our interests.

That’s a vague promise, one that every person interprets differently. A politician’s promise to deliver on specific platform planks is one thing. The voters know what to expect, and can measure the success or failure of the candidate by whether the candidate delivers on that plank. But a promise to listen to the people and do what we want is quite another matter — particularly because Fenty doesn’t really think he has to consult with the people, or even with his close advisors. Every time Fenty makes a decision on his own (say, when he appoints a new police chief without asking the opinion of his major public safety advisors, and even without informing them beforehand), people will think, “Well, he certainly didn’t listen to me on that”; and every time he makes a decision, the people who don’t agree with that decision will think, "He certainly wasn’t response to my interests on that."

The personal mandate, the mandate based on carrying out the will of the people, is the most fleeting and fragile of mandates. That’s why the most politically dangerous thing that Fenty can do is to think that he is so popular, so well thought of, that he has a mandate to do whatever he wants, and that the citizens will follow him wherever he wants to go. On the contrary, now he has to explain his programs and all of his major priorities to us, and convince us to follow him. He didn’t use the primary or general election campaigns to lay out his platform and to get the public’s support for it. Instead, he used the campaigns to convince us that his platform was to support whatever the public desired. Because of that, he has to campaign now and after he becomes mayor. He has to convince us to support his major initiatives in order to convince us that he is following our lead.

Gary Imhoff


DC’s Citizen Photojournalists
Bill Adler,

Did you witness a crime? See a zoning violation? Spot a coyote in downtown DC?

If you have a cell phone camera, as a citizen photojournalist you can instantly share what you see with thousands of others. There are countless cell phone cameras in the Washington, DC, area, and chances are good that when news happens, somebody will be there with his or her cell phone camera. Citizen photojournalists can capture the truth where they see it. Snap a photo with your cell phone, send it in, and your photograph will instantly be displayed for the world to see.

To sign up or for more information, E-mail me or visit


Winter Holiday Trash and Recycling Collection Schedule
Mary Myers,

Following is the holiday schedule for Department of Public Works services through the beginning of 2007. Christmas Day, Monday, December 25: District government offices will be closed and most services suspended, including DPW trash and recyclables collection, street cleaning, parking enforcement and towing. All services will resume on Tuesday, December 26. Trash and recyclables collection will slide one day for the remainder of the week citywide.

New Year’s Day, Monday, January 1, 2007: likewise, on New Year’s Day, District government offices will be closed and most services suspended, including DPW trash and recyclables collection, street cleaning, parking enforcement and towing. All services will resume on Tuesday, January 2, 2007. Trash and recyclables collection will slide one day for the remainder of the week citywide.

Additionally, residents should mark their calendars for the annual Christmas tree collection. Holiday tree collection, January 2-13, 2007. Residents who receive DC trash collection service are encouraged to put holiday trees and other greenery — without ornaments or tinsel — in curbside tree boxes by January 2, 2007. Trees will be picked up during a special two-week collection from January 2-13. Residents who wish to keep their trees longer should put them out at their normal point of trash collection (curbside or alley) after January 13. DPW will then collect the trees along with the regular trash, as truck space permits over the following weeks.


Williams’s Legacy: Enriching the Rich
Mary C. Williams,

Anthony Williams has done a few good things for the entire city. Improving some city services is one of them. But in my Southwest neighborhood, he leaves a legacy of some really questionable development deals that have only served to further enrich the rich while adding to the burden of the poor and middle-class. What’s worse is that many of these deals are long term and designed to extend beyond terms of seven mayors, critically undermining Mayor-elect Fenty’s ability to manage and shape this city’s future over the next four years. Can we forget the perpetual money-pit called the Nationals’ new baseball stadium? We’re only in the first year of this unconscionable contract and can expect this deal to haunt us for the next thirty years — that is if it doesn’t push the city to the brink of bankruptcy before opening day and then force us to give it to the Lerner just to be rid of it. Oh, I forgot, to give it to the owners may well be the objective. So why wait? Just give it to them now before taxpayers spend a billion dollars building it and another half billion paying the Lerners for all of the minor breaches of contract issues. There are so many things about this stadium contract that gets my blood boiling, but one little thing in particular strikes me as so ironic that just the thought sends me into a tizzy. It is the Williams’ administration, and possibly some councilmembers’ insistence that Major League Baseball include minorities in the deal. I’m a civil rights lawyer and advocate, but something is not right about this. So the Lerners begrudgingly round up a few prominent and wealthy African-Americans — not all DC residents — to secure the deal. I’m an African-American woman who can’t afford to buy season tickets to any athletic event, let alone come up with the financing to become a part owner in a major team. Yet I have to pay $2 more each month to Comcast to finance baseball. I am a just a bit put out that people who have money are considered and the middle-class and poor foot the bill. I understand the inclusion of minorities, but these are fairly well off minorities. How about making MLB pay for its own stadium and stop taxing the poor people, of all races, to enrich the rich? But I digress. I have another deal to rant about this time.

As if we didn’t have enough with the stadium deal, our soon-to-be-ex mayor and our Ward 6 compassion-challenged Councilmember, Sharon Ambrose, who single-handedly engineered the demise of rent-control and affordable housing in this city so that friendly developers could put up high-end condos, have come up with another deal that might rival the stadium in terms of giveaways to the rich. Last month Williams proudly announced that the city not only will give to developers the entire 13-acre site on the Waterfront metro that is now Waterside Mall, valued at over $100 million, but the city will sweeten this already unbelievably saccharin deal by actually signing a fifteen-year lease to rent 500,000 sq. ft. of office space on the newly-developed site at $14.9 million a year. I don’t know what office space is going for these days but that sounds like a very high rent for land that the city already owned. But what a deal for those lucky developers! Bresler Reiner, who has held a 99-year-lease on the Waterside site for the past 49 years, paying less than $10,000 a year to the city for the privilege, now gets to own the land outright and then gets to gouge the city, sorry, I mean collect rent from the city. For this too-good-to-be-true deal, Bresler Reiner partnered with Forest City, and Kaempher, now called just Waterfront. I don’t have the time or space to recount the history of Bresler, but the community has long been overlooked. This time around, the developers had help from RLA/NCRC, the quasi-government agency that is supposed to manage our city’s land. The NCRC shopped and lauded this deal like its life depended on it, telling Southwest residents for nearly the past year that the thirteen-acre land was worth only about $5 to $6 million over 75 years of rent. The NCRC employee/promoter, a resident of Southwest, repeatedly told us economically-challenged residents that the land was actually worth more to taxpayers after we give it to developers than if we just collected rent on the land for the next fifty years. Some of it was true. But when that didn’t seem to sit well with me and some of my more stubborn supporters, who recommended that the best plan was for the city to eminent domain the site and bid it out developers who were able and! willing to redevelop the site with their own monies, the NCRC promoter’s husband, acting as vice president of our local civic organization, jumped on the giveaway bandwagon, announcing that if the community didn’t support this sweetheart deal they were shoving down our throats, then the developers would not build the huge office complex inside the residential community and leave us with our decrepit space. No more upscale Safeway or a Starbucks.

Still, I argued that the city should give the Waterfront developers the so-called $6 million lease value and shop the site to other developers if Waterfront didn’t act by the deadline for complying with a clause in their current lease that required redevelopment of at least 300,000 sq. ft. of space by 2007. As poorly written as it was, I read the lease amendment signed in 2003. I also called on NCRC to abandon its shameless and questionable promotion of this deal and return to its mission of managing the public’s land. But then I was hit by the reason that NCRC had abandon the taxpayers who paid their salaries in favor of these newfound friends called the developers. NCRC stood to benefit from this deal, too. In exchange for “extinguishing the long-term lease,” (that’s the term NCRC used), NCRC would get its own little parcel, about 58,000 sq. ft. of land, in the northeast corner of the property, on which NCRC planned to construct a residential/condo complex. NCRC officials claims that profits will be used to finance other projects. However, my instinct tells me that the funds from this little development project would go toward keeping them in their fancy downtown offices a few more years and pay already overrated and inflated salaries and bonuses. Whatever the reason for the funds, there is something wrong, possibly even criminal, when the entity charged with managing the property of others, promotes and benefits from a deal that is not in the best interest of the owner. There are several names for this. It’s called self-dealing, and in any other city in America, this would be prohibited. The stadium deals stink. This development deal stinks even more. How many more deals like this can this city afford? And will someone please tell me where are our councilmembers when it comes to oversight of these deals? Elected officials were caught napping on the baseball stadium. What excuse will they use on these other late-night deals? If Mayor-elect Fenty hopes to have some hand in shaping this city’s future, he will first have to wrestle much of it back from the friends and cronies of the last administration.


Right Turns Around Busses
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

Russell Cramer suggested [themail, December 17] the “more sensible” solution of not having bus stops at intersections, but at least fifty yards before them. But that consumes more parking spaces: since parking is already prohibited near intersections, near-corner bus stops don’t create/enlarge no-parking areas as much as mid-block stops likely would. And mid-block stops wouldn’t be as handy for transferring between crossing bus lines.

Regarding more efficient use of no-parking areas: I’ve wondered why fire hydrants aren’t placed near driveways/alley curb cuts. Since parking is prohibited too close to them, the full access distance wouldn’t have to be reserved just for the hydrants. Of course, simple solutions don’t always work — so someone may have equally good reasons why that would be a bad idea.


Save Martin Luther King, Jr., Library
Loretta Carter Hanes,

We must find a lawyer to petition the courts on behalf of the citizens of the District of Columbia and also get signed petitions to the mayor and the city council to stop all actions on the closing of Martin Luther King, Jr., Library . "Those who believe in freedom cannot rest." We must respect Martin Luther King, Jr., by restoring and renovating the Martin Luther King, Jr., Library.


MLK Library
Claudia C. Pharis,

Yet another land grab! It would be very interesting to know who is in line to redevelop that space. That would tell us who it is we have to contend with when Williams is no longer on the scene. What "public interest" excuse is being touted for this maneuver?



DC Public Library Events, December 26
India Young,

Tuesday, December 26, 1:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Kwanzaa city celebration. Learn about Kwanzaa and how it is celebrated. For more information, call 727-1211.

December 26-29, library hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Games for teens. Teens are invited to drop-in and play XBox, cards and board games. For more information, call 727-5535.

Monday-Friday, December 26, 2006-January 5, 2007 (except December 27), 1:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Movies for teens aged 12-19. For more information, call 727-5535.



A Needle in a Haystack
Leo Alexander,

I recently had some work done around the house — talk about contractor hell. After a few bad apples, I finally stumbled upon one who turned out to be the real deal. His name is David Smith, and he’s literally an artist with wood and tile. His number is 270-1322. Now that’s my present to all you guys. Happy Holidays!


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