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December 31, 2006


Dear New Year’s Revelers:

We’ve come to the end of the year and the beginning of the new one. New Year’s, along with Easter and the vernal equinox, are three annual days that celebrate renewal and new life. But Easter and the vernal equinox signal the rebirth of spring, while New Year’s comes in the dead of winter. It is renewal in the dead season, when trees are barren and the hardiest grass is dormant and the gardens are desolate. At New Year’s, the old year exits as an old, long-bearded man carrying the scythe of time; in fact, he’s often called “Old Man Time” or “Father Time.” Meanwhile, the new year enters as a newborn baby, “Baby New Year.” On this day, we slough off the detritus of the dead old year and express our hope that — no matter how good or bad the past year has been — the new year will be better.

In democracies, we do the same thing at regular intervals with politicians. Every two, four, six, or eight years we kick out the worn-out husks of the politicians we prematurely aged in office, and replace them with brand-new, fresh faces, thereby renewing our hope for better things in the future. Well, New Year’s Eve is no time for cynicism or for blasting hope. So for tonight, let’s go with that — as Bobby Burns himself might have said, if he wrote English rather than Scots, “For days of long ago, my dear, for days of long ago, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for days of long ago.”

Gary Imhoff


Not All Bad
Liz Karch, wizzyliz at Comcast dot net

I visited the Department of Motor Vehicles at C Street this morning to replace my lost drivers license. I brought only one form of ID -- a US passport — and no proof of my Social Security Number (the reason for which still confounds me). The representative at the window reiterated the requirement of a SSN. Knowing the situation was hopeless, I tried the line, “It was lost with my wallet. What can I do?” While preparing myself for the inevitable return visit, much to my delight she replied, “Seven dollars.” Although I thanked her, she may not have realized that her service sustained my belief that DC government employees are not all bad.


Something Nice
Susie Cambria,

As part of the Fenty Human Services E-Transition Team work, we (the homelessness working group) held a public meeting at 441 4th Street, NW, for folks who are currently homeless or who have been homeless. The purpose of the meeting was to get their suggestions for making the system work better. Many homeless individuals do not have ID, and this is problematic when they want to enter a District government building now that they are 100 percent ID check. The Protective Services Division of the Office of Property Management was amazingly helpful when asked to waive the ID check requirement for the meeting. Not only did they immediately agree with the request, but they followed up immediately after my first call and gave me numerous phone numbers for the officer in charge in case there were problems. I have never had such a good experience with the division and the office, and they deserve public recognition for their common sense and humane approach!


Who Gets Hurt?
Ed T Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

Metro’s proposals for fare increases on Metrorail will be extremely hurtful to those who can least afford a fare increase. Those low income service workers who travel from outside DC to their jobs in the city each day and single moms in DC taking their kids to school via Metrorail will be hit real hard by the proposed increases. It’s a very regressive fare increase proposal. As for those who can afford the proposed fare increases, I still maintain that the shortfall in the Metro system budgets should be made up by increasing the assessments to DC, Maryland, and Virginia. If any of these three participants refuse to add to their assessments, then there should be a curtailment of services to that participant’s area. In other words, if Maryland refuses to up its contributions to Metro, then there should be a significant cutback in service to Maryland until it pays its fair share.


Winter Holiday Trash and Recycling Collection Schedule
Mary Myers,

In observance of New Year’s Day, Monday, January 1, 2007, and the national day of mourning declared for President Gerald R. Ford’s funeral on Tuesday, January 2, there will be some changes to Department of Public Words services this week. On New Year’s Day, the District government will be observing normal holiday operations. Offices will be closed and most services suspended. There will be no DPW trash and recyclables collection and no parking enforcement on that day. Residential trash and recyclables collection will slide one day for the remainder of the week citywide, beginning Tuesday.

On Tuesday, January 2, 2007, a national day of mourning, the District government will again be closed. There will be no DPW parking enforcement, except as necessary to support security and other requirements for the former president’s state funeral. However, residential trash and recyclables will be collected and bulk trash appointments will be honored on Tuesday. In other words, Monday’s trash and recyclables should be set out on Tuesday. Additionally, the Fort Totten Trash Transfer Station will be open for resident drop-offs from 1 - 5 p.m.


Starting Off on the Right Foot
Len Sullivan,

The changes in DC’s government and Congress’s majority both present important opportunities for our nation’s capital city to grow in local and global stature. Here are five New Year’s resolutions for DC’s movers and shakers, official and self-appointed. Promise to act as if: 1) DC is our capital city, and the core of a key metro area. Recognize its unique responsibilities to present the best of what America can offer in urban living, not just to showcase quirks; 2) DC is much more than the sum of its residential neighborhoods. Make major decisions regarding the city’s long-range future with its full range of functions and features in mind; 3) DC’s physical infrastructure (including all transportation aspects) is inseparable from regional and federal objectives. Develop regional and federal perspective, cooperation, and support; 4) DC’s image is hurt by its bipolar demographics. Reduce the ranks of the poor who squeeze out the middle class and small business in favor of the rich, and big, commuter-staffed, business; 5) Droves of teachers, police, case workers, and ER doctors cannot offset missing, uneducated, or dysfunctional parents in raising successful kids. Fix DC’s chickens, better chicks will follow.


Green Buildings
Mary Vogel,

I just sent this to the DC Green Building Act Task Force, but I wanted to share it with themail’s readers too, as it is quite relevant to DC issues. As some readers may know (if they read AP wire stories or neighborhood newspapers), on December 5 the DC council passed a Green Building Act that will cover a portion of private sector building by 2012. Here’s what I sent. “For those of you who will be continuing on the Green Building Advisory Council, I want to make you aware of some recent developments with both government mandates and rating systems. On December 13, England mandated a Code for Sustainable Homes for new homes. It will kick in at the sale of existing homes too. And Beijing has ordered that all new buildings use just half as much energy as older buildings. There are some interesting rating systems being developed that go beyond LEED too. For those of you who missed GreenBuild, or who went and just couldn’t absorb it all, I’ve included some links to them as well. Finally, I included a link to Ed Mazria’s Architecture 2030 challenge. It may see us move up some of our own timelines. May you have an exciting new year full of positive change!”

The Code for Sustainable Homes, launched by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) on December 13, 2006, set mandatory performance levels in key areas. From April 2007 the Code for Sustainable Homes will replace EcoHomes for the assessment of new housing in England: Beijing has ordered that all new buildings use just half as much energy as older buildings: - 39k - July 2006. You can open the whole rating system as well as a two-page summary from this site. Some aspects are still in the works: The Natural Step’s LEED Infinity, a construction industry task force organized by the Oregon Natural Step Network, has been studying how to apply the Natural Step system conditions in the design, construction and operation of commercial buildings: I attended the Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings workshop at Ecobuild here in December and was very impressed with the results it is already getting in Canada. Getting into the Pilot Program for the US could enable DC to start achieving significant savings right away in the places that most of us will continue to live and work:

Finally, slowing the growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions and then reversing it over the next ten years will require immediate action and a concerted global effort. As Architecture 2030 has shown, buildings are the major source of demand for energy and materials that produce byproduct greenhouse gases. Stabilizing emissions in this sector and then reversing them to acceptable levels is key to keeping global warming to approximately a degree centigrade (°C) above today’s level. Read “The 2030 Challenge,” by Ed Mazria,


Police Cruiser Lights
Bernie Arons,

Add me to the list, apparently growing, of those who want to turn off the lights. I cannot think of a more useless and distracting action by those helping us reduce and address crime and safety issues. How many of us will be needed to make it a movement. Then we’ll need a song, a long one, maybe about those of us, like myself, who travel a lot in other places and keep on pulling over when we see a cruiser with lights blinking, as we must in all those other places.



L’Enfant’s Legacy, January 9
Lauren Searl,

Tuesday, January 9, 6:30-8:00 p.m., L’Enfant’s Legacy: Public Open Spaces in Washington, DC, lecture and book signing. Washington is a dual city composed of the federal core’s monuments and grandeur and the everyday city’s downtown and neighborhoods - both supported by and connected with a system of avenues and open spaces. Michael Bednar, senior professor of architecture at the University of Virginia, will discuss the parts of Washington tourists may not visit, and how the system of democratic, public open spaces has served residents during the two centuries since its inception. After the lecture and during a reception hosted by the UVA School of Architecture Foundation, he will sign copies of his book L’Enfant’s Legacy: Public Open Spaces in Washington, DC (John Hopkins University Press). This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition Washington: Symbol & City, which will be open for viewing. $12 Museum members and students; $20 nonmembers. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Prepaid registration required. Register for events at Walk-in registration based on availability.


DC Public Library Events, January 9
India Young,

Tuesday, January 9 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 307. Photo Archivist Donna Wells will conduct a workshop on preserving photographs of African American ancestors. For more information, call 727-1213.


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