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December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Dear Kids from One to Ninety-Two (and above):

As Mel Torme and Robert Wells wrote:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s bringing lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you

Don’t believe the version that reads, "Everybody knows some tofu and some mistletoe . . ."

From Dana Bryson, now in the private sector, via Jonetta Rose Barras, comes the announcement that Isaac Bobb, Jr., the father of former City Administrator and future Board of Education President Robert Bobb, has died. Condolences can be sent to Otis Mortuary, 501 Willow Street, Franklin, LA 70538 or directly to Mrs. Corita Ambroise Bobb, 1058 La. Hwy. 318, Jeanerette, LA 70544.

Gary Imhoff


Naughty and Nice
Dorothy Brizill,

I’ve made a list and checked it twice; in DC, I’ve found out who’s been naughty and nice. Naughty: 1) the offshore promoters of a slots casino in DC. After they failed to get their casino initiative on the ballot in 2004 because of election law violations, they refiled it in 2006, and again they hired non-DC residents to circulate petitions. This time around, I was mysteriously stalked by a group of men the week before the promoters were scheduled to turn in their petitions and the promoters sued me for defamation in Guam for speaking out against a slots casino initiative they filed there. 2) The city council, for their abusive labeling of legislation as emergency. The emergency legislation process is supposed to be used only when there really is a time restraint that makes it impossible for the council to go through its regular notice and public hearing process that allows for public input. Just this month, this council has used or attempted to use the emergency legislation process to give the mayor and themselves pay raises; to dispose of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Central Library; to promote the New Town development to replace the Florida Avenue Market; and to grant $3.5 million to the NAACP to relocate to Washington. 3) Mayor Williams and his administration, for awarding $341,000 in performance bonuses in October to some of the District government’s worst performing administrators: Patrick Canavan, DCRA, $8,551; Kimberly Flowers, Parks and Recreation, $5,360; E.. Michael Latessa, Unified Communications, $7,943; Gregory Irish, Employment Services, $11,055; and Lisa Marin, Personnel, $11,053. 4) The promoters of the New Town Project, who want the District government to use its eminent domain power to assemble the land for their benefit. 5) The editors of the Washington Post, who continue to reduce the space allocated to DC news in the Metro section, even as they face increased competition from online news and now a third daily newspaper. 6) Mayor Williams again, for excessive and unnecessary out-of-town travel, and for continuing reluctance to release detailed budget, funding, sponsorship, and delegation information about the trips. 7) Adrian Fenty, who has copied both Tony Williams’s litany about an “open and transparent” government and Williams’s refusal to provide information that the press requests. 8) The Library Board of Trustees, who failed to proceed with plans to renovate or rebuild four closed branch libraries (Anacostia, Benning, Tenleytown, and Watha Daniels) for more than two years, yet nevertheless went on to promote a plan to close the MLK Central Library in favor of an unbuilt and undesigned new library. 9) The city council, again, for approving substantial — 25 percent — pay increases for themselves right after the November general election. 10) Adrian Fenty, one more time, for appointing Linda Singer as the District’s Attorney General, even though she has lived in DC for more than thirteen years without joining the DC Bar, while more than 60,000 attorneys are members of the Bar. Singer’s husband, Joe Sternlieb, raised substantial funds for the Fenty campaign.

Nice: 1) Art Spitzer and the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Region. This is personal for me — when the slots promoters sued me in Guam, Art and the ACLU agreed to represent me pro bono, when hiring a lawyer in DC and a lawyer in Guam to represent me may well have bankrupted me. 2) Colbert King, who in his weekly columns and his unsigned editorials in the Washington Post brought historical and human insight to the Post’s coverage of DC. Though he will continue to write his column, his retirement from the editorial board leaves a huge void. 3) The Ballou Senior High School football team, which lived out one of those against-the-odds sports stories that normally occur only in movies to win the citywide championship. 4) The DC Arts Commission, which organized an eclectic and interesting collection of art by DC artists at the Wilson Building. 5) The Smithsonian Institution, whose renovation of the Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery brought new life to those museums. 6) The Peaceaholics, who brokered a peace between two rival Southeast street gangs, the Lynch Mob and Choppa City. 7) The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, whose sponsorship of restaurant weeks in January and August brought new business to normally dead periods of restaurant activity, and introduced thousands of diners to new restaurants. 8) The DC Library Renaissance Project, which organized and rallied the community to focus attention on the condition of DC’s libraries and defend the endangered MLK Library.


An Exit Strategy
Dorothy Brizill,

Years ago, when I worked at the State Department, there was a general unease and concern during the waning days of an administration — or during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or the Superbowl. During these times, senior officials and policymakers at the highest levels of government were away, and the government bureaucracy was run by a skeletal crew. When these times were over, there was always relief if no crisis occurred and if our enemies didn’t strike.

As the Williams administration comes to an end, and prior to the start of the Fenty administration, we have to ask if anyone from the Williams team is left to turn out the lights, or to respond to a crisis if one should arise. Tony Williams himself left town at the beginning of last week, and won’t return until just prior to the January 2 inauguration and swearing-in of Fenty. All of his department and agency heads and senior administrators were required to submit their resignations in November, and with few exceptions (Devon Brown, Director of the Department of Corrections; Deborah Gist, State Education Officer; William Howland, Director of the Department of Public Works; and Vincent Schiraldi, Director of the Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services) Fenty has failed to inform other senior managers whether they would be retained. Fenty had promised Williams that he would let them know by December 15.

As a result, the District government’s office buildings, especially the Wilson Building and One Judiciary Square, are ghost towns. Most of the District’s senior officials are using their accrued vacation and leave time, taking extended holiday breaks, or are simply absent without leave.


Right Hand, Meet the Left Hand
Ed T Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

The move to replace police Chief Ramsey is clearly a very good move based on the information in the article “Don’t Shoot” in the January issue of Washingtonian magazine. Ramsey established very punitive rules for police about using force in making arrests. The result is that there are currently more internal police investigations about police arrests than there are investigations about homicides. Internal investigations are triggered off any time someone being arrested claims that excessive force was used in the arrest procedure. Drug dealers and thugs being arrested know this, and file complaint after complaint about any cop successfully inhibiting drug traffic in the city. Each complaint results in an internal investigation. The result is that good policemen are becoming very timid about making arrests. Lots of turnover of experienced good police each month is another symptom of the poor internal police policies established by Ramsey. I strongly recommend reading the Washingtonian article.

In another typical DC bureaucratic mix-up, the refurbished bus terminal in Friendship Heights is too low to handle the new buses that run with natural gas tanks on the roof. In DC, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. And both of these hands are in the same department. That’s the problem with bureaucracies, as opposed to team-based organizations. With teams working to address problems or processes, all those who should be involved in making things happen are working on the same team. Everyone is involved in the decision making and solving problems. Let’s hope that the new mayor will evolve his government from a traditional bureaucracy into functional teams.


Artee Milligan for Ward 4 DC City Council
Jonathan R. Rees,

Democrat Artee J. Milligan, Jr., Executive Director of the Metropolitan/Delta Adult Literacy Council and a former DC mayoral candidate, has announced that he will seek the Ward 4 council seat to be vacated by Mayor-elect Adrian Fenty. He explained his platform in the following statement, which I have posted on “I am a longtime Shepherd Park resident and community activist, and I promise to continue and improve upon the constituency services we’ve all come to expect. After more than 25 years in corporate America, I left the business world to run a grassroots nonprofit. Today, I run a citywide program that helps students who did not obtain a high school diploma prior to leaving the DC Public School system to obtain their GED so they can continue on with their lives.

“Education is the great equalizer and fixing our public school system is of primary importance. As Ward 4’s next councilmember, I will work closely with the mayor and school board to improve the level and standards of education in our public schools. I will support increased funding for vocational training, early childhood development, programs for children with special needs, and after school programs. Further, I will work to bring economic prosperity to Ward 4. I will encourage Mayor Fenty and the council to fund an adult preparation center to provide the educational programs needed for people who have not completed high school or college, so they can get job training and placement. The increase in skilled workers will provide an incentive for businesses to invest in Ward 4, and will also factor into a plan to address the District’s high unemployment rate.

“Finally, I will work with my fellow residents and Fourth District police officials to develop a workable plan to address public safety and crime issues, so everyone can feel safe anywhere in Ward 4.”


A Very Modest Proposal
Cecilio Morales,

Now that a new mayor and council are being sworn in, could we ask that they overturn the absolutely silly rule that DC police cars always have their flashers on? It’s alarming to find a flashing police car behind you and it’s never quite clear what’s going on. Could we have our peace back?


Police Parking Privileges
Bob Levine,

At 11:40 a.m. on December 23, I was traveling down Wisconsin Avenue toward M Street and took a right onto N Street, when I saw a police cruiser #9240, license plate #2367, illegally parked on N Street. I thought, “How nice, police business in progress.” A young, black, female officer in uniform without any visible markings of rank, with her arms full of packages, crossed in front of my car and unlocked the police cruiser unloaded the packages from her arms and got inside. I proceeded on my way happy in the knowledge that our police are protecting us with last minute Christmas shopping, glad in the knowledge that the taxpayers can pay for her gas and time on the job. Illegally parking and doing last minute Christmas shopping in full uniform, another way the DC Metropolitan Police are protecting you. I feel safer, how about you?


DC Flickr Sites
Michael Schade,

Re "DC’s Citizen Photojournalists" [themail, December 20] Another great photographic resource of our city is Flickr. DC has thousands of residents and tourists who post their photos to this site. Probably the largest local Flickr group is “Washington DC/Metro Area” (, with 1,745 members and over 21,000 photos. You should also visit and There are specialized groups for everything imaginable, from the Smithsonian ( to the Potomac River ( And the geo-tagging feature gives you a cool way to find photos, like the map for the Washington biking group:


Right Turns Around Busses
Harold Goldstein,

[See themail, December 17 and December 20] Actually having the bus stops after the intersection (called far-side stops) would be a good solution for situations where right turns are a problem. The three options are discussed at



DC Public Library Events, December 27, January 8
India Young,

Wednesday, December 27, 1:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Career search for teens. Teens discover their ideal career in this session. For more information, call 727-5535.

Monday, January 8, 2:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-9. Char McCargo Bah will host a genealogy lecture for tracing slave and free ancestors. For more information, call 727-2079.

Monday, January 8, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Great Hall. Juan Williams, senior correspondent, Morning Edition, National Public Radio, will discuss Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, views on the Vietnam War and whether he would have spoken out on the conflict in Iraq. For more information, call 727-1261.


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