“Sometimes, they just write themselves,” Dorothy said. In the last issue (themail, July 22), I wrote about Councilmember Mary Cheh’s suggestion that Jonathan Rees should have to pay the government’s costs of investigating his complaint against her campaign, since the Office of Campaign Finance found that the campaign did not violate election law. Jeremy Faust of Councilmember Cheh’s office sent us her response to our request for a comment, printed below, and I agree with Dorothy’s reaction to it. This stuff just writes itself.
Councilmember Cheh’s E-mail is personal, petty, bitter, and unworthy of a councilmember. It is further proof of how bad her idea is that any citizen should be punished for making a complaint about anyone’s election campaign, even if that complaint is not ultimately upheld. Citizens should not have to live under the fear that politicians motivated by the kind of animus exhibited by Councilmember Cheh will try to ruin them financially if they dare to challenge them. Cheh calls Rees “loopy,” someone “who it would be generous to call a fringe candidate,” and says, “He simply cannot be taken seriously.” On the contrary, it is the duty of elected officials, even Councilmember Cheh, to take all their constituents and all citizens seriously, and not to dismiss them contemptuously. The idea that politicians should be able to judge which citizens are responsible enough to make complaints about them — and then to risk their fortunes if they make any complaints — is reprehensible. Cheh still doesn’t see that. Do her colleagues?
Meanwhile, Joseph Sternlieb called to say that the Office of Campaign Finance made several errors in its investigation and in its report about the investigation. Sternlieb declined to write anything for themail about these errors, but he said that he was going to write to OCF and that he would send a copy of that letter to me. If and when he does, I’ll post his letter on DCWatch and report on it here. Sternlieb also denied that he supported Adrian Fenty for mayor prior to the primary election last year. He said that while his wife, Linda Singer, hosted a fundraiser for Fenty, he himself did not support Fenty and didn’t even vote for him in the primary. Given Fenty’s tendency to retaliate against those who didn’t support him, that’s a brave admission for a developer who seeks the city government’s favors to make. In the last issue of themail, I inadvertently omitted a link to the Washington Post article about the Office of Campaign Finance’s report (though I have added that link to the online version of the E-mail). It is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/17/AR2007071701843.html. The OCF report is now posted on DCWatch: http://www.dcwatch.com/govern/ocf070717.htm.
Hospital Care for Wards 7 and 8 May Collapse
|B-20||43,300 mg/kg Lead|
|E-9||1,300 mg/kg Lead||3-5 ft|
|E-8||31 mg/kg PAHs||0-2 ft|
|E-4||16,000 mg/kg Lead||1-3 ft|
|1,600 mg/kg Chromium||1-3 ft|
|E-1||550 mg/kg Lead||0-2 ft|
|970 mg/kg Lead||6-8 ft|
|TP-1||470 mg/kg Lead||2-3 ft|
|TP-2||4,500 mg/kg Lead||5.5-6.5 ft|
|TP-3||930 mg/kg Lead||6-7 ft|
|TP-4||970 mg/kg Lead||5.5-6 ft|
|TP-5||710 mg/kg Lead||6.5-7 ft|
|TP-7||1,100 mg/kg Lead||2-4 ft|
|TP-8||420 mg/kg Lead||4-14 inches|
|1,000 mg/kg Lead||1.8-4 ft|
|TP-9||18.4 mg/kg PAHs||.5-2 ft|
|58.6 mg/kg PAHs||6.5-7.5 ft|
|1,700 mg/kg Lead||6.5-7.5 ft|
|TP-10||670 mg/kg Lead||11-11.5 ft|
|TP-11||1,600 mg/kg Lead||8.5 ft|
|1,900 mg/kg Lead||11.5 ft|
400 ppm for lead, 12 ppm for PAHs, 500 ppm for Chromium
|Extracted Lead||Estimated Total Lead|
|#826||3,384 ppm||18,435 ppm|
|#825||308 ppm||2,080 ppm|
|#822||3,655 ppm||19,879 ppm|
|High||126 to 480 ppm||1,000 to 3,000 ppm|
|Very High||>480 ppm||>3,000 ppm|
Extracted lead levels over 300 ppm are legally hazardous
Estimated lead levels over 1,000 ppm are legally hazardous
Extracted Cadmium normally does not register at all, at most .1 ppm is occasionally found. Cadmium is a probable carcinogenic substance.
|#826||3.6 ppm Cadmium|
|#825||5 ppm Cadmium|
|#822||2.4 ppm Cadmium|
The following description of the property is from the DC Office of Planning web site (http://www.planning.dc.gov/planning/lib/planning/project/anacostia_waterfront/RiverParksPlan-PDF/chpt4-sec2.pdf): RFK/NPS Buffer and Recreation Area — The land in the RFK/NPS Buffer and Recreation Area is made up of Udorthents (U1), Udorthents-Sandy (U3), Udorthents-smoothed (U6), and Urban land (Ub). In general, these mapping units have poor potential for building, except for Urban land which is comprised mainly of areas covered with roads, buildings or other structures. Areas with U6 soils have good to fair potential as recreational areas, lawns, landscaping, and vegetable gardens. These three mapping units are characterized by high levels of disturbance and have been subject to cutting, filling, and development. Approximately 74 percent of the area in the RFK/NPS Buffer and Recreation area is made up of fill material. Due to the disturbed nature of soils in the RFK/NPS Buffer and Recreation area and the presence of uncontrolled fill, determination of uses and limitations of the soils and potential geotechnical constraints associated with development on the soils is not possible based on available information. The presence of uncontrolled fill in the RFK/NPS Buffer and Recreation area could result in differential settling, variability in bearing capacities, and unstable conditions for the placement of foundations and other structures.
Friends, abject poverty is neither ennobling nor personally fulfilling, despite the “money isn’t everything” mantra chanted by the wealthy. I have not fully recovered from the financial drain of the recent campaign for the Ward 7 council seat, and with your help will find a place in the labor market. All leads will be treated seriously. In the meantime, I’ve decided to share several projects that I’ve worked on for some time but, due to impoverished necessity, will now require support and assistance from additional participants.
The first project to share is the sequel to the CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield (CFBCBS) attempt to convert from nonprofit to for-profit status. Five years ago, CFBCBS applied to the Insurance Commissioners in Maryland, DC, and Delaware for permission to appropriate unto itself and its executives all the money it had acquired over the years, with more than a little help from the taxpayer, as a major nonprofit insurance carrier. With cash reserves exceeding $735 million and a slush fund of $37 million, CareFirst set out to prove to legislators in the jurisdictions in its service area that for-profit was the way to go. Health Care Now! (HCN), my nonprofit employer, opposed the conversion without qualification, while the core of the local health care services/advocacy community organized as "CareFirst Watch" under the auspices of DC Appleseed, supported the conversion, but pressured CareFirst to maximize its contribution to a foundation that would be created in the wake of conversion approval. Without support from CareFirst Watch, HCN initiated a cross-border "Coalition to Keep CareFirst Non-Profit."
We won! With the help of Representative Jim Moran (D-VA); the families of some very challenged children at Children’s Hospital, Health Care For All in Maryland; my appearance on the Diane Rehm Show; the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, Steve Larsen; and the Speaker of the Maryland General Assembly, Michael Busch (D-Arundel). Citing the excessive golden parachutes for CareFirst executives and the lack of a valid business justification for the conversion and the proposed increase in the cost of premiums, the Maryland General Assembly prohibited conversion for five years. Five years have passed, and a few things are different that almost guarantee a renewed application for conversion. Former Commissioner Steve Larsen now is in the private sector; former DC Council Chair Linda Cropp is now on CareFirst’s Board of Directors, and several key members of CareFirst Watch count CareFirst among their best friends and partners. We must act now to impact the public discourse on the anticipated conversion attempt in order that an informed debate is available to policy holders and non-policy holders alike. Share this project with me. Please reply by E-mail immediately.
“In what is certainly a first for The Bee, and maybe for the newspaper industry, the paper expects to take another interesting step down the Internet highway: It will soon begin accepting video letters to the editor. The video commentaries would come from readers who want to voice their opinion about issues of the day, just like they do in the traditional letters to the editor printed each day in the paper.” (See http://www.sacbee.com/110/story/283954.html. Registration required.)
Here are four good reasons why the Washington Post has not gone down this path yet: 1) people in the DC-area don’t have any opinions worth sharing, 2) people in the DC-area don’t have the technical expertise to upload their videos to YouTube, 3) the cost of YouTube hosting such videos would be prohibitive, 4) it might take a junior intern more than a day to set up a submit-your-links web page.
Compare and contrast to this YouTube Editor’s Choice video, http://youtube.com/watch?v=GHVbxsbECCM
Today the city council’s Office of Legislative Services told me that it still did not have copies of any of the forty-four bills the council adopted as emergency legislation more than two weeks ago, on July 10. The Office of the Secretary of the Council hopes to have copies of the bills by late on Friday.
Here is a statement from Councilmember [Mary] Cheh: “I am very proud of the scrupulously honest campaign I ran and proud of the people who devoted themselves to it. I am pleased to have been given a clean bill of health by the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF), but I am outraged that the OCF spent months and perhaps hundreds of hours of time, costing the city dearly, because one misguided and loopy individual, Jonathan Rees, thought he could make mischief. All of his charges — improper campaign contributions, unregistered PACs, etc. — were found to be without substance and dismissed. After taking an exhaustive look at my campaign, all that we have is a trivial issue of a missing label on a flyer distributed at one forum and put out without my knowledge. Once I was aware of the flyer, all subsequent distributions of it had the proper attribution. Mr. Rees’ actions were malicious and done by an opponent who it would be generous to call a fringe candidate. As is his M.O., he continues to make unfounded charges, and I am but one of his targets. He simply cannot be taken seriously.”
In his comments on the dispute between Jonathan Rees and Councilmember Mary Cheh, Mr. Imhoff correctly asserts that "a citizen who witnesses what he believes to be misconduct in a political campaign should be encouraged to report it to the Office of Campaign Finance." Bravo, Mr. Imhoff! No one doubts that we need accountability in our politics, and that this depends on the efforts of citizens who responsibly use systems provided to correct wrongs committed by public officials. I’m confident that Ms. Cheh would be the first to agree with this. Where Mr. Imhoff errs is in making Jonathan Rees the poster boy for his unassailable argument. Last year, Rees offered himself as a candidate for city council from Ward 3. During the campaign, I managed to attend a couple of the candidates’ forums. All of the many contenders showed up — long shots and leading lights alike — except for Mr. Rees. On both occasions, his chair was empty. This is not surprising, since he has never advocated for anything. Mr. Rees is a hatemonger. He survives in the public realm by hurling invective at those more successful than he is, and by making scurrilous unsubstantiated accusations against the people we choose to represent us.
Of course, it is one thing to be a snot in the press. (Not surprisingly, Rees has found a helpful stage for his performance here in themail, which to Mr. Imhoff’s credit extends an openhanded invitation to anyone with just about anything to say about local affairs, but which itself to Mr. Imhoff’s discredit seems editorially to favor an unrelenting, one-note frontal assault on our leaders rather than positive advocacy.) It is quite another thing, however, to use our civil institutions to grind one’s personal ax.
All Ms. Cheh has suggested is that she might exercise her right to recover damages inflicted by the filing of a frivolous, costly legal action against her. She recognizes, as does any sensible citizen (and the law itself), that the misuse of our regulatory bodies by cranks like Mr. Rees poses a dangerous threat to the very accountability which ensures the integrity of our government. We cannot afford to have the time and resources of our public guardians tied up trying to settle flimsy or baseless charges. When Mr. Rees begins arguing substantively in favor of real changes in policy, when he advances a vision for something better in our community and, then, when he decides to show up for debates where his positions might fairly be examined, perhaps he will enjoy some presumption of legitimacy in his recourse to legal enforcement. Until then, no way.
As concerns the above titled story in themail [July 22], the sad truth is the DC OCF was deliberate in not looking at a lot of evidence or talking to a lot of people who had no vested interest in the matter. The OCF was given photographic evidence that the Mary Cheh for City Council committee occupied her campaign headquarters for two to three months before she admitted to entering into a lease agreement, and the people in the Christian Science Reading Room confirmed it, but they chose to ignore it. She had a party at that office on July 4, 2006, after appearing in the 2006 Palisades Parade. She accounted for only two of the four months for which she admits having leased the space, based on her own financial records, and so much more. OCF ignored the fact that the flier they did pop Cheh over was printed by Sternlieb from a monetary pool collected by him from those so-called non-PAC supporters and more.
Without belaboring the issue, the DC OCF’s ruling in the matter of DC OCF Investigation 2007-101 is grossly flawed, it was incomplete, it deliberately did not look at damning evidence, it did not talk to all who were potential witnesses, and it was never intended to get to the truth; but this is DC OCF’s stock in trade. It perverts the outcome to render favors to sitting government officials.
Readers might find it amusing that the investigation stopped two months before the report was written. At that point, DC OCF allowed Mary Cheh to know what they had or would write, as Cheh was sending her chief of staff Susan Banta to the OCF often to see when the final report would be ready. Cheh even knew before I did when the report would be ready and kept on calling to OCF and leaving voice mail messages. I have kept the Office of the United States Attorney, Fraud and Public Corruption section, well informed, I will be appealing this matter to the DC BOEE and onward to the DC Court of Appeals if need be. If the US Department of Justice digs deeper than OCF did, I am 100 percent confident they will find exactly what I have alleged took place and probably a lot more. Call me controversial, but I am tired of dishonest government officials cheating the taxpaying voters, and it has become a sad state of affairs when a person has to cheat to win.
In response to Ed Delaney’s post on Sunday [themail, July 22], let us be clear, the current opposition to DC United’s stadium has almost nothing to do with DC United or the stand-alone viability or merit of a soccer stadium. Nor is it a discussion about the best place to put the team. While the developers of the project appear to have some real attachment to the game and DC United, at the end of the day the stadium proposal is a way to attach an identity and a popular (and yes it would be popular) public draw to what would be an otherwise dense, bland, large office and housing block landscape.
Opposition to the stadium comes from a range of folks. For the politicians and other public officials who supported the baseball stadium, it is a chance to buff their "neighborhood not downtown development" credibility at no real political cost. It is a face-saving fight for those environmentalists who backed the baseball stadium and have seen the green building concessions they won threatened and diluted by their allies. For those who lost the baseball stadium fight, it is a make-up stadium fight they can win. For the neighborhood, it represents the ever-present and necessary fight for respect and benefits for the current residents. It is a similar fight for respect and concessions for the National Park Service. And somewhere in it all, there lies an inexplicable fight over whether soccer really deserves a place in the nation’s capital and the US sports scene the way baseball apparently does.
In this environment, defeating the stadium will be relatively easy: Defeating the alternative plans that emerge from the call for proposals, however, will be much more difficult. It is almost assured these plans will be similar to the current McFarlane plan, without the easy target of a stadium. To maximize revenue, they will be likely to consume as much or more riverfront land and provide even less real public access or use and even fewer entry level jobs. Of course, they will also require less overt government subsidy and provide more projected tax revenue because there will be more rentable space and as little affordable housing as possible. For this reason, I beseech those who really want to shape the development of Poplar Point to enhance its neighborhood benefits and reduce its environmental impacts to avoid developing “stadium vision.” For the DC United fans among them (and I am one), we should make our support for the team and the stadium known but also be clear that our support is dependent on the suitability of the entire development for the community and banks of the city’s other river.
On Saturday, July 28, at 1:00 p.m., the Historical Society of Washington, DC, is opening its first new exhibit since the DC city council’s debate on public funding for DC history programming. Wages of War: Bonus Army to Baghdad commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary of a sad moment in DC history — the forceful eviction, at bayonet point, of twenty thousand World War I veterans protesting to Congress to pay the bonus promised to them years before. Wages of War explores issues that are close to us today and reflects on the human costs of the efforts made by American men and women in uniform. Saturday’s program will give detail about the District of Columbia’s war time history and veterans, screen the critically-acclaimed PBS video, The March of the Bonus Army, and question and answer session with the authors of the 2004 critically-acclaimed book The Bonus Army: An American Epic. Your attendance will be a great show of support for the Society and efforts to ensure DC history resources are collected, protected, celebrated, and shared. We look forward to seeing you!
Exhibit Opening Saturday, July 28, 1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Historical Society of Washington, DC, at the Carnegie Library, 801 K Street, NW. Contact Leslie White at 383-1837 or email@example.com. The Wages of War: Bonus Army to Baghdad will run through November 12.
Sunday, July 29, 1:30 p.m., Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library, 3660 Alabama Avenue, SE. Beginning Sign Language. Learn to communicate in sign language in this three-hour class. Class will continue on August 4, 11, and 19. For more information, call 645-4297.
I have a big dead tree that need to be cut down, and I would like some input about the right people to contact for the job.
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