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March 25, 2007


Dear Clear-Minded Readers:

Some people may think that the positions taken by the District of Columbia government in the past few weeks have been confusing or contradictory. Let me help clarify and explain them. Our local elected government officials unanimously support the Congressional bill that would grant DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton a full vote in Congress because of their belief that DC residents deserve and should have equality of rights with all other citizens of the United States, and the District should be recognized as having equality with and the status of the states. The bill has been blocked in the House of Representatives by an amendment offered by Republicans that would abolish DC’s absolute ban on handguns and give full Second Amendment rights to residents of the District. This tactic was disgracefully partisan because overturning DC’s gun ban had broad support from Democratic members of Congress, more than enough Democratic support to pass, and passing a bill with bipartisan support is purely partisan politics. To avoid passing the amendment, the Democratic leadership pulled the Norton voting bill itself, but they may reintroduce it later under a floor rule that would deny Republicans the right to offer any amendments, which DC officials would welcome as a fine example of bipartisan cooperation.

DC officials opposed the gun rights amendment because if Congress had passed it, Congress would have been acting as a local legislature for DC and imposing a law on District residents. Local officials completely believe that Congress acting as DC’s local legislature is a very bad thing and oppose it under all circumstances. The mayor and city council want Congress to act as a local legislature for DC and impose the mayor’s school takeover bill on the District, because they believe it is better for Congress to amend the District’s Home Rule Act than to have District residents vote to amend the Act. Of course, when Congress considers a bill for the mayoral school takeover, that will give Republicans and Democrats who support the Second Amendment another opportunity to introduce an amendment to overthrow DC’s absolute ban on handguns. DC officials would oppose that because a gun rights amendment would contradict their view that the Second Amendment does not guarantee any rights to DC citizens. They believe that because they believe the Second Amendment applies only to citizens of the states, and that the District of Columbia is neither a state nor the equivalent of a state. Therefore the Second Amendment has no force within the District, and District residents do not and should not share in all the rights of other citizens.

I hope that straightens everything out, and clarifies the crystalline logic behind superficially contradictory positions.

One correction and one addition. The correction: in the March 21 issue of themail, my editing error introduced a mistake into the message from William Haskett. Professor Haskett had written that at its height, the University of the District of Columbia had ten thousand students and five thousand “"FTE’s.” I expanded that abbreviation to “full-time employees,” but Haskett had intended “full-time equivalents,” meaning that UDC had a total of ten thousand students, who were the equivalent of five thousand full-time students. The addition: the text-only version of the report on adult literacy in the District of Columbia by the State Education Agency of the University of the District of Columbia, mentioned in the March 21 issue, is now online at

Gary Imhoff


Truth Is the Best Defense
Dorothy Brizill,

Gary and I started DCWatch in 1995. In 1997, we inherited DCStory, changed its name to, and started publishing it as a twice-a-week E-mail discussion forum for citizens to share information on all aspects of life in DC, including comments on DC government. Last week, we discovered that DCWatch, Gary, and I had been sued for several million dollars on March 1 for postings in themail — the first lawsuit against the web site in twelve years.

Last year, between May and July, Jonetta Rose Barras sent a number of messages to themail about the Department of Parks and Recreation and hirings that had been made by its Director, Kimberly Flowers. As a result of her reports, both the DC Office of Personnel and the Inspector General conducted investigations, and Roslyn Johnson was fired as the Deputy Director of Programs at the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. Johnson has now filed a lawsuit against Barras for her reporting, against us for publishing her reports, and against the DC government for releasing information to Barras. She charges defamation, libel, false light action, and intentional interference with contract, and states that, “As a direct and proximate result of the false and defamatory statements made by Ms. Barras, the character and reputation of Ms. Johnson were harmed, her standing and reputation in the professional and personal community were impaired, and she suffered, and continues to suffer mental anguish and personal humiliation.”

We’re not going to comment on this lawsuit while it remains in the courts, but we did want to inform themail readers about it. The lawsuit is available at The Inspector General’s report on the case has been posted on his web site, On the main page, click on Audit Reports; on that page click on 02-08-07, “Audit of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation’s Hiring Practices.” In the Inspector General’s report, Johnson is referred to as “Employee A.”


Give Jack a Choice
Phil Carney,

Jack Evans has proposed city welfare for poor Abe Pollin of fifty million in bonds in exchange for a special "free" Verizon Center skybox. Jack has done such a great job of supporting businesses that he deserves better privileges. Let’s give away one hundred million in bonds to Abe, and then Jack can have his pick of two skyboxes. Let’s give Jack a choice.


Real Property Tax Bill
Mariuccia Marolo,

By presenting documents over documents last December, I managed to have the 2007 assessment of my house slightly decreased from 2006.

Now I have been charged in the tax bill due next week with the ten percent minimum cap increase, even though the value of my house is actually a few thousand less than last year, and consequently the tax bill should be a few dollars less. Any professional suggestions, please?


DC Postcard Collection Finding Aid
Jerry A. McCoy,

In commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary earlier this month of the establishment of the postcard (as American society knows of them today, where the address and message appear on one side, and the image on the other), I have created a finding aid to the DC Public Library Washingtoniana Division’s “Washington, DC Postcard Collection, ca. 1898-1940s.” The finding aid is available on the H-DC web site at

The collection consists of three linear feet, about 2,000 postcards and 24 postcard folders. The earliest postcards in the collection date from circa 1898. Due to Washington, DC’s, continual focus as a tourist destination, contemporary postcards continue to be added to the collection.

The greatest percentage of material dates from the 1920s to the 1940s. The collection consists almost exclusively of imprinted (ink) postcards with fewer than a dozen being of the real-photo (gelatin silver) variety. The collection leans heavily towards images of tourist Washington, but many images of hometown Washington are included as well (businesses, churches, organizations, restaurants, schools both private and public, stores, and streets). I’m really excited about this collection and want researchers to know about it as they might find images contained therein that exist nowhere else.


DC Free Content Group Formed
Phil Shapiro,

Are you interested in helping to create free educational content that others here in the city (and elsewhere) can use? A new group has formed at

This group is not listed in Yahoo (so it will not attract spammers) and all list messages will be moderated, so no spam will reach subscribers. We’ll be working on projects similar to Experience the rewards of having people in your neighborhood -- and far away -- learn from educational content that you’ve produced.

After all, people in the DC-area are far more creative than those folks out on the West Coast, don’t you think? Those folks out there are mere dabblers, I tell you. Mere dabblers.


OSCE Finds US Government Violates Human Rights
Timothy Cooper,

On March 9, the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) issued a major report on the 2006 mid-term US congressional elections, and concluded that the US government violates DC citizens’ basic political rights, as well as those of US citizens living in the territories, by denying them full representation in Congress. The OSCE report states, among other things, that “US citizens who are not citizens of one of the fifty states are not able to vote for members of Congress who have the right to vote on the floor. . . . These restrictions exist even though such US citizens are subject to US federal law and pay federal taxes. . . . It is . . . estimated that in Washington, DC, alone, without including US citizens of US territories, up to half a million US citizens are not permitted to vote in federal elections for full congressional representation. As these citizens are subject to US laws, including taxation, the denial of full representation, as underscored by the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions, would appear to be a limitation of voting rights.” The OSCE recommends that “US authorities should consider all possibilities to provide full representation rights for all US citizens.”

The OSCE is Europe’s largest human rights monitoring body. It is composed of 56 countries, spans the globe from Russia to Canada, and is the world’s preeminent democratic election monitoring body, which regularly observes elections in all OSCE countries. The US is a founding member of the organization, and is bound by all of its human rights commitment. The right to participate equally in one’s own national legislature is a key OSCE democratic election standard under the 1990 Copenhagen Act. In 2002, Worldrights launched a campaign to win the OSCE’s endorsement of full Congressional voting rights for DC residents. Since then, Worldrights has appeared at the OSCE’s annual Human Dimension Implementation meetings in Warsaw, Poland, pressing for the OSCE to address the DC issue and make recommendations. The complete report may be found at:

Worldrights has also requested that the US Helsinki Commission, under the new leadership of Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), hold hearings on US noncompliance. The Helsinki Commission regularly monitors the human rights compliance of other OSCE countries.


Tilting at Windmills
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

Once again the DC vote advocates continue to waste time on an issue that will not be resolved as long as the Republicans control the White House. Why bother tilting at windmills? There are many more important issues in DC that require attention and focus by the mayor. A march on the Capitol is another waste of time. It’s as big a waste of time as the Democratic Congress spends issuing subpoenas in trying to fix the blame on the Republicans and the President. Time flies by. Why not spend that valuable time working on things that can be fixed?

I read in the Seattle paper here on Thursday, March 22, that a foundation based in Issaquah is providing $112 million for scholarships for high school students bound for colleges. These scholarships will be for low-income minority students and will be based on potential, not grades. From Washington to Washington, with love.

Another nice perk at the Seattle airport: rocking chairs in all terminals. Great for us senior citizens.


Jason Lee-Bakke,

The following quote in today’s Post from Brian Robinson, spokesperson for US Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), elicited a whoa from me: “Everyone knows Democrats are salivating at the thought of having two guaranteed seats in the Senate.”

Apparently the Republicans now admit that they don’t care about the issues of a majority-black city, and could never garner enough votes here to win an election. Issues of inequality in, say, healthcare or education, not what the GOP wants to try to win on.


Bell Clement, clement at history dc dot org

To the Washington history community — the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, and the city-altering riots that followed here in the District, is upon us. A number of us — the Historical Society of Washington, the Washingtoniana Division of the King Library, the DC Archives, GNU German Special Collections and the DC Humanities Council (a group sure to grow) are partnered in an effort to find productive ways to commemorate those events. One particular concern is to begin collecting and documenting the still-living memories of that period.

What are everyone’s thoughts — witnesses, scholars, Washingtonians — about how we can best collect and preserve the record of these events? Who is working to research and analyze the riots and their aftermath? Is someone writing fiction? Are there great poems out there?

And, as we collect this material, how can we use it most meaningfully — to commemorate the events, but also as an occasion to reflect on where we find ourselves in the city in 2008? Was 1968 just a tragic and violent time, or do we live with its echo today? Was the violence of the time only destructive, or did it create new opportunities? For whom? Did 68 change how we think about our community and our city? What light does 68 shed on the arguments we are having today ?

What are everyone’s thoughts, and how can we explore this further ?


Community Policing
Keith Jarrell,

I totally disagree with Ronald E. Hampton’s comment about community policing [themail, March 21]. As a citizen involved with the old PSA 102, I know firsthand the effects of community involvement in policing matters that brought safer streets and neighborhoods to the District. Under former Chief Charles Ramsey, officers had a dedication to and were very involved in sitting down on a regular basis with members of the community. Issues were resolved, crime was lowered, and people felt safer. It worked. It could have worked better at times. But community policing worked.

Mayor Fenty’s nomination of Commander Lanier to become the new Chief of Police is a prime example of an elected official that listens to the people that voted for him. We want safer streets, less violence, and better protection through proactive policing.

Although there were any number of well qualified police officials, many of them former members of the MPD, that could have been brought back to bring all the above things to the position, Mayor Fenty wanted to promote from within. He had a solid relationship with Lanier from her days in the 4th District and knew her to have the talent to bring true leadership to the position. I would suggest to Mr. Hampton that he and others simply give this a chance and not prejudge Chief Lanier’s abilities on anything other than the true merits of her ambitions and qualifications.


In Support of Cathy Lanier
Naomi J. Monk,

[From my testimony to the city council in support of Acting Chief Cathy Lanier’s appointment as Chief of Police, March 16] Acting Chief Lanier’s profound performance of a variety of duties has distinguished her in being selected by our Honorable Mayor Adrian Fenty and Distinguished Past MPD Chief Charles Ramsey as the number one candidate for Chief of the MPD. I have listed her impressive attributes at the last few paragraphs of this testimony. Under the leadership of Chief Ramsey and with the invaluable services provided by the Policing for Prevention Division Personnel (PFP), Acting Chief Lanier has had exemplary on-hand experience working with law enforcement, neighborhood partnerships, and systemic prevention all at the same time. PFPD personnel provided and still provides needed policy and programs to improve community policing strategy as well as continuity, stability, accountable, up to date technology, and knowledge management for now and the future within the MPD.

I look forward to continuing to work with the PFPD and my First District Commander Diane Groomes under the leadership of Chief Lanier, as I did Chief Ramsey. In the fall of 1999, PFPD personnel trained, civilians, police men and women to work as a team in their communities to deter crime and improve safety. I was a participant. Southwest Police Service Area (PSA) and Partnership for Problem Solving (PPS) units have held and still do hold monthly community policing meeting at different sites to share information inclusive of all locations throughout Southwest to share information, discuss strategies collectively in order to deter crime and improve safety. Hundreds of different and diverse residents and some of the same community residents, agencies and others amicably participated in stated meetings, since December 1999. These meetings have had an everlasting positive improvement in safety concerns in southwest DC.

Acting Chief Lanier’s record shows that she has sixteen years of extraordinary exemplary service with MPD as Commander of the Fourth District, Commanding Officer of the Department’s Major Narcotics Branch and Vehicular Homicide Units, Commander of the Emergency Response Team, Aviation and Harbor Units, Horse Mounted and Canine Units, Special Events/Dignitary Protection Branch, and Civil Disturbance Units. She established the agency’s first Homeland Security/Counter-Terrorism Branch. Acting Chief Lanier educational credentials are outstanding. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Unit Commanders Academy. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Management from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Acting Chief Lanier is the proud mother of a successful and aspiring teenage son.


Defending the Abuser
Bryce A. Suderow,

I was amused by Anne-Marie Bairstow’s criticism of Clyde Howard [themail, March 18] for pointing out that the DC government is a mess. What is there about DC residents that makes them defend one of the most dysfunctional local governments in the country? I’ve lived here nineteen years, and I’ve watched it happen hundreds of times. I’ve seen people defend the police, the schools, the social services, all of which agencies are abysmal. It’s like a victim of a beating defending the beater. Can anyone answer my question?



DC Public Library Events, March 28, April 1-2
Randi Blank,

Wednesday, March 28, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Deaf History Month Celebration: Dr. Yerker Andersson, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Gallaudet University, will discuss Lawrence R. Newman’s book, Sands of Time: NAD Presidents 1880-2003.

April 1-30, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, A minute for poetry over the intercom, every day at noon. To celebrate National Poetry Month and the joy of poetry, our Library staff will read one-minute poems every day at noon. We will present poems that have been selected for their mind-grabbing qualities, as well as their brevity.

Monday, April 2, 6:30 p.m., Northeast Neighborhood Library, 330 7th Street, NE. Capitol Hill Mystery Book Club. We will discuss The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Call 698-3320 for more information.


First Charles H. Atherton Lecture and Framing a Capital City Symposium, April 10-11
Sarah Kabakoff,

While Washington, DC’s, L’Enfant Plan has withstood the test of time during the city’s two-hundred-year history, the national capital continues to evolve, balancing the permanence of monuments and memorials with the dynamic changes of a living city. Organized collaboratively by the US Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and the National Building Museum, the first annual Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture and Framing a Capital City Symposium will guide the National Capital Framework Plan, a joint NCPC-CFA initiative to plan for the 21st century.

At the Framing a Capital City Symposium, experts and authors from across the country will discuss the landscape of commemoration and symbolic narrative beyond the National Mall, the creation of a more sustainable urban ecology, the evolution of the use of public space and architecture in Washington, and the challenges facing local and federal authorities to build a capital city that honors our nation’s achievements while maintaining the qualities of a livable city for both residents and tourists. Speakers include: Lucy Barber, author of Marching on Washington the Forging of an American Political Tradition; Larry Beasley, former Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver; Timothy Beatley, Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, University of Virginia School of Architecture; Joe Brown, President and CEO of landscape architecture firm EDAW; Maurice Cox, Associate Professor, University of Virginia School of Architecture and City Counselor for the City of Charlottesville; Judy Scott Feldman, Chairman, National Coalition to Save Our Mall; Alex Krieger, Professor in Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Design Department of Urban Planning and Design; Dan Tangherlini, City Administrator and Deputy Mayor, Washington DC; Lawrence Vale, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT; and Michael Z. Wise, author of Capital Dilemma: Germany’s Search for a New Architecture of Democracy. Robert Ivy, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, will moderate the Symposium.

The Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture series commemorates the life and legacy of Charles Atherton, who served for almost four decades as Secretary of the US Commission of Fine Arts. The program examines the architectural, historical, and natural context of the city and its development to promote visionary planning and design excellence in the nation’s capital. In this inaugural program, David Childs, FAIA, will discuss the past, present, and future of the planning of Washington, DC.

The Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture will be held at the National Building Museum from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., on Tuesday, April 10. The following day, April 11, the Framing a Capital City Symposium will be held, featuring four discussion sessions throughout the day. For more information on both events, please visit or call 272-2448. The Charles H. Atherton Memorial lecture is supported by generous contributions to the Charles H. Atherton Memorial Fund. Prepaid registration is required: $12 Museum members and students; $20 nonmembers. Framing A Capital City is being hosted and sponsored by the National Capital Planning Commission and the US Commission of Fine Arts in partnership with the National Building Museum. Free. Registration required. To register go to



Greater DC Cares at Servathon 2007, May 4-5
Julie Howard,

Servathon brings together thousands of individuals for two amazing days of volunteer service to complete projects at nonprofit organizations in our communities around the Washington region. You, your family, friends, and colleagues can help by volunteering your services, skills, time, and energy on Friday, May 4 (Sponsors’ Day of Service), and Saturday, May 5 (open to all, including sponsors). Volunteers will participate in a very hands-on project such as landscaping, painting, or building a playground, for the first half of the day and afterwards we will have a celebration party with free food and free Sam Adams beer. Registration is $20 per person. For more information or to start a team, visit


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