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July 4, 2007


Dear Firecrackers:

Over the years, Dorothy and I have seen the Fourth of July fireworks from a number of perspectives. We’ve been on the Mall, on the Capitol steps, on the Georgetown waterfront, on the rooftop of the Harbour Square apartment building in southwest, in the rooftop restaurant of the Hotel Washington, on the upper tier of Meridian Hill Park, and on the grounds of Cardozo High School in Columbia Heights. But we continue to be surprised. We were going to skip the fireworks this year because of the thunderstorm, and we decided just to go out to dinner. We chose a restaurant we had never been to before, Singapore Bistro on 19th Street, NW, between L and M Streets, and we finished dinner just after 9:00 p.m. It turns out that that stretch of 19th Street has a direct line of sight to the fireworks, so at the same time that we left the restaurant most of the diners, waiters, and cooks emptied out from all the restaurants on the block, and we all spent the next half hour standing in the street getting our yearly complementary dazzling. Nooshi (the new name for Oodles Noodles), Smith & Wollensky, Rumors, and the other restaurants on the block basically suspended business to celebrate the Fourth, and everybody on the block smiled, laughed, and applauded during and at the end of the show.

By contrast, there were no fireworks in the city council last week. As I predicted, the fact that the Deputy Mayor for Education, Victor Reinoso, committed plagiarism was seen as no bar to his appointment; and the fact that schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee doesn’t have the qualifications to head a large, troubled school system and that she padded her resume with exaggerated claims that can’t be substantiated was passed over easily. Reinoso, on the bad legal advice of the mayor’s General Counsel, Peter Nickles, told the council that he didn’t have to answer their questions about who in his office participated in copying the report or whether anyone was disciplined for it, and the council rolled over and played dead for him. If the city council thought it had trouble getting information from the Board of Education, wait until they try to get any straight answers from Reinoso’s office, now that Reinoso has established the principle and the precedent that he doesn’t have to tell them anything. (Last week, Nickles also said that when Mayor Fenty was a councilmember he didn’t have to disclose in his financial report the fact that his wife was paid for legal work she did for the National Capital Revitalization Corporation because -- well, it doesn’t matter what argument he used, because it doesn’t make any sense; it all comes down to Nickles’ consistent position that Fenty doesn’t have to follow the laws that apply to others []).

In any case, if you ignore the city’s government, it’s still a delightful city to live in. Dinner at Singapore Bistro was satisfying, and the fireworks are always worth seeing, whether you make an effort to see them or not. The joy of lights in the sky.

Gary Imhoff


Dropped the Ball
Ed T Barron,

As I sit here wearing my Kathy Patterson for Council Chairman T-shirt I can only wonder why Mayor Fenty dropped the ball in selecting Victor Reinoso as his Deputy Mayor for Education. Fenty has really fumbled on this selection. Far better qualified for that job is Kathy Patterson (now a director for the Pre-K Now organization). Reinoso is a lightweight in both experience and a demonstrated capability for making things happen, compared to Kathy. She’ll do a great job in her new organization, but the District has missed a golden opportunity.


Arrested Development Update
Dorothy Brizill,

At Tuesday’s court hearing in Superior Court, the case against me for simple assault was dropped. The US Attorney’s office made the decision not to proceed with prosecution and thus the case got "no papered." I was arrested on the evening of June 13; the US Attorney’s office made this decision on Friday, June 15. It made a notation to that effect on my arrest report, but no one bothered to inform me. Although I repeatedly tried to secure a copy of the arrest report from MPD (both the First District Commander and the Public Information Office) over the next two weeks, I have still not been successful. I spent two weeks trying to find and hire a criminal defense attorney, which I would not have done if I had known the charge had already been dropped. It wasn’t until my attorney called the US Attorney to determine the status of the case that I learned that the case would be no-papered. Meanwhile, the news was widely known and shared within the Executive Office of the Mayor. I understand that the reason that the US Attorney’s office made the decision not to prosecute was that, after reviewing the arrest report, it found “insubstantial evidence” to proceed.

Even though I did not assault or even touch anyone, I now have an arrest record. I will have to go through a time-consuming process to petition the court to have the arrest record sealed and, hopefully, expunged. Despite the adage that the criminal justice system treats suspects as innocent until proven guilty, that really isn’t true. After someone makes a false or unfounded allegation against you, even if the charge is dropped, you must fight to prove that you are innocent. As Massachusetts Governor and Secretary of Transportation John Volpe Labor Secretary Ray Donovan said after being cleared of corruption charges against him, “Where do I go to get my good name back?”


Hands Free?
Peter Turner,

It’s almost three years exactly since the hands free cell phone law took effect in DC, and anyone who drives with eyes open must see that enforcement of this law by the Metropolitan Police Department has been a complete failure. Many drivers seem to think that holding the cell phone a few inches further away from their face constitutes hands free, while others continue to veer dangerously around the streets of DC while driving and chatting. I’ve seen countless police officers also talking on cell phones while driving, and contacted the MPD, who say the officers were in emergency situations, and so exempted from this law. A year ago, I suggested to the MPD that an awareness campaign or crackdown on this dangerous practice would go a long way, but still nothing.

Also, in reply to Gary Imhoff’s snide footnote to my message about the monotonous debate on this list regarding the DC schools situation, I neither (unlike some) blindly support nor oppose the mayor’s takeover. I do think, however, that the editorials on this mailing list reflect a short sighted and completely unbalanced view of that issue, and often at the expense of examining other important issues facing DC residents.


Getting the Finger
Harry Jaffe,

[Re: Getting the Finger, themail, July 1]: With regard to correct spelling, that would be John Street, mayor of Philadelphia.

[I had written John “Streeter.” — Gary Imhoff]


I Nominate Adrian Fenty
Bryce A. Suderow,

Sorry you’re getting so much grief for printing residents’ criticisms about Fenty in your newsletter. I for one will continue to criticize Fenty and his government whenever they step over the line, even if it means Peter Turner and others get upset. So just keep printing my comments.

Remember when you and I got the same grief for criticizing his highness Anthony Williams? Apparently people felt that since Williams was going to single-handedly fix every agency in the District, it was uncharitable to tell the truth about his habitual disregard for the law. Well, guess what, you protectors of the good rep of Williams and Fenty? The government’s still dysfunctional. So acting like the three monkeys who saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil didn’t do a damn bit of good during the Williams administration. And it won’t do any good with Fenty either. Because they aren’t here to fix things. They’re here for power.

When are you going to learn that, folks? Let me be the first to nominate Adrian Fenty for the position of God.



DC Public Library Events, July 6, 7, 10 and following
Randi Blank,

Fridays, July 6-July 27, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, G Street Overhang. Music al Fresco. Join us for weekly outdoor concerts in a variety of music styles presented by members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 161-170. If it is raining, concerts will take place in the Great Hall. Music al Fresco runs through August 31. For more information, call 727-1245.

Saturdays, July 7, July 21, 1:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 215. Technology Training Session. Demonstrations of new assistive technologies and group training for people of all ages who use assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired. For more information, call 727-2142.

Tuesdays, July 10, 17, 24, 31, 7:00 p.m., Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Book bingo: read, play bingo, and win prizes! For more information, call 282-3073.


First-Wednesdays Money Savers, starting July 11
Michelle Phipps-Evans,

For the rest of 2007, the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) will host a series of moneysaving seminars to help you take stock of your financial future. Every first Wednesday of the month, you will find innovative ways to realize your dreams. These will be held at DISB’s office at 810 First Street, NE, Suite 701, from noon to 1 p.m. The topics are The Truth about Credit (July 11), Saving for Retirement with 20 more years to work (Aug. 1), Life Insurance Month (Sept. 5), Saving Tips for the Family (Oct. 3), Health Insurance Month (Nov. 7), Tax Tips that Save (Dec. 5). For more information, visit DISB’s Web site at or call Michelle Phipps-Evans at 442-7822.


Community Service Partnership Fair, August 20
Dena R. Bauman,

Are you a nonprofit public interest organization (including the government and judiciary) that provides legal services to District of Columbia residents? Would law student volunteers help you? If so, we want you to take advantage of the UDC-DCSL Community Service Program. Come to the community service partnership fair on August 20 from 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. At the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Building 39, Room 205 (Second Floor). UDC-DCSL requires students to complete a minimum of forty hours of pro bono community service during their first year as part of their Law and Justice Class. The work must be law-related and benefit District of Columbia residents.

Community service is an integral part of the UDC-DCSL curriculum. Students learn invaluable lessons from their real-life experiences with clients, deadlines, workplace rules, and supervisors. Beyond the initial assistance our students provide, many continue their relationship with their host organization through additional voluntary internships, School of Law summer stipends and academic credit internships. You are invited to send a representative with materials to this free event. We will provide a table, chairs, lunch, and Class of 2010 students who are eager to meet you! Unfortunately, we cannot assist individuals seeking legal advice through this event or program. Examples of past participating organizations include: CAIR, DC Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area, the Council for Court Excellence, DC Office of the Attorney General, National Veterans Legal Services Program, District of Columbia Office of Bar Counsel, AARP Nursing Home Ombudsman Program, US District Court, Public Defender Service of DC, DC Superior Court, UDC-DCSL Immigration Law Center, and Time Dollar Youth Court. Please RSVP by E-mail to by August 13. Please send the name of the person attending and all contact information (street address, phone, fax, E-mail). If you are an organization new to working with UDC-DCSL, we will ask for more information about your program. The UDC garage has a limited number of guest parking passes for $3.50 (rather than the usual $8.00). If you need a parking pass (the garage is under the campus off Van Ness Street) you will need to request it by August 13. Your name will be added to the guest list. Street parking is limited. We are at the Van Ness/UDC metro stop, Red Line. If you cannot attend, but are otherwise interested, please let us know.



Helen Sebsow,

Reward: my lutino cockatiel (small white bird with golden yellow mohawk, orange cheeks, and yellow flecks on chest) flew away from the DC/Montgomery County border on May 26. He is unbanded, fully flighted (unclipped), and capable of flying long distances. He is feisty and affectionate and loves to sing his song. If you see him please coax him to you with whistles, kisses, and light hand clapping. Once you have him, gently scratch his head and then stroke his back and gently catch him from his back (never from the front, it compresses their lungs), take him home and call me at 244-0610 or E-mail me at If you’ve already rescued him, please do the same.


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