On the Road
The debate over Congress’ requiring DC to end its taxicab zone-fare
system continues in this issue of themail. Several different viewpoints
are represented, but I don’t think we’ve exhausted the subject.
Please add any experiences or opinions you may have.
I believe that, after four days of trying, all subscribers finally
received the October 14 issue of themail (http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/2007/07-10-14.htm).
The same can’t be said about the September 26 (http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/2007/07-09-26.htm),
September 30 (http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/2007/07-09-30.htm),
October 10 (http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/2007/07-10-10.htm)
all of which are online. I’d encourage you, if you missed any of those
issues, to read them online; several contributors to themail had
interesting things to say. Here’s where things stand with delivering
themail. I now have two ways of sending themail through DCWatch’s web
hosting service. One way allows me to use formatting like colors,
bolding, italics, and different-sized fonts, but it takes longer for the
web hosting service to send the messages to all of you. The other way
requires plain-text messages, but it sends those messages quickly (and I’ve
been assured that it will not send those messages multiple times).
Again, I’m asking your help: please let me know if you receive
multiple copies or if you don’t receive themail at all, and have to
read it online.
On October 12, Mayor Fenty and school Chancellor Michelle Rhee held a
press conference to announce their plan to "right-size" the
Central Administration office of DC Public Schools (http://www.dcwatch.com/mayor/071012.htm).
In legislation forwarded to the city council that day, Bill 17-450,
Fenty seeks to reclassify all nonunion DCPS staff as “at-will”
employees would be required either to accept “at-will” status
or be fired. The legislation would also give the mayor unfettered
authority to create a Reduction in Force (RIF) plan, identify and fire
employees, and elimination competition, retreat, or assignment rights
within the central office. Fired employees would be entitled to a
fifteen-day separation notice as well as severance payment.
In light of the new personnel authority Mayor Fenty is seeking at
DCPS, it is interesting to note how the mayor has treated his own loyal
employees in the past. For example, last week’s District Extra reports
that Neil Richardson, Fenty’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, was
recently demoted from his high position in the mayor’s bullpen at the
Wilson Building to a senior policy analyst position at 441 4th Street,
NW, with Serve DC, where he will recruit volunteers to work in the
The Post attributes Richardson’s fall from grace to “growing tension between Richardson and Fenty over the mayor’s
insular decision-making style.” Source at the Wilson Building also
suggest that Richardson was “too much of a thinker” for Fenty,
who prefers “doers and followers” to people who are too
thoughtful, and consider too much before acting.
In addition to Richardson, Fenty has also kicked other loyal
employees to the curb without notice, prominently including Alec Evans,
his campaign strategist and spokesman (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/23/AR2006102301116.html);
Merrit Drucker, his director of Neighborhood Services and Community
and Dr. Gregory
Pane, director of the Department of Health (http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/health071019.htm).
All four of these people had been working long hours and successfully
for Fenty, with no prior indication that Fenty had been displeased with
them or their work. DCPS employees who are reclassified as “at-will” employees have every reason to expect the same kind
What a Difference Ten Years Makes
Bryce A. Suderow, email@example.com
Today’s [October 18] DC Examiner contains an article that
reminded me how much my neighborhood on Capitol Hill has changed in the
past ten years [ http://www.examiner.com/a-995877~Police_use_DNA_to_solve_decade_old_murder_case.html].
Ten years ago Security Guard Thurman Craig Brown was murdered at the
Teacher’s Credit Union at 9th and D Northeast about a block from my
apartment building. The case went unsolved for ten years and was closed
on Tuesday with the arrest of John Williams who was charged with
shooting Williams while trying to rob the place. The case was closed
because of DNA evidence left on baseball cap that fell during the
struggle between the two men. In the immediate aftermath of the murder
the rumor in our neighborhood was that Brown had been killed by the drug
dealers operating on the street corner outside the credit union. It was
also rumored that Brown had begged for protection after the drug dealers
threatened to kill him because he was a witness to their transactions.
That is what things were like on my block ten years ago. Now that
corner’s drug market has moved two blocks further west to 11th Street.
What a difference ten years makes!
Speed Traps in DC
Ed T Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
For those of you crazy enough to drive in DC, you might be interested
in knowing where the traffic enforcement folks have set up speed traps
to enhance the revenue to the city coffers. Just go to this web site and
click on the District of Columbia: http://www.speedtrap.org/speedtraps/stetlist.asp.
Select the neighborhood you’ll be driving in to find the latest speed
Last Person Left Who Prefers Zone Fares
Joan Eisenstodt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, on the way home from an appointment, the cab driver took the
most circuitous route I’ve ever taken from the same location. I wanted
to ask if he was practicing for meters. Earlier this week on the way
home from another location, along a route that is under heavy
construction, the traffic crawled, and the ride with meters would have
been easily been four times the fare. I know that for visitors and some
residents the zones pose a problem. Yet, when I moved here in ‘78, it
all made sense and still does. With zones, I can budget for cabs. With
meters, I fear the routes or the motorcades or the streets on the Hill
blocked for members of Congress to cross. I guess it’s a done deal and
I’ll figure it out. But I’m gonna map my own way and give the maps
to drivers! It’s gonna be an adventure.
[Response to Washington Post article by Sue Ann Pressley,
October 16, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/15/AR2007101501399.html?sub=AR]:
Upon reading your article on the city zone system, it is quite apparent
to me that you did very little research and that your opinion is to
change a system that you did not personally like. Any system devised by
man comes with some flaws. If you were to ask the people of New York
City to voice their opinions on the taxi system they would respond that
they too, need a change. You only publish that which validates your
uninformed opinion. You really need to do a better job of research and
publish both sides of the issues.
You state that passengers getting a cab at National Airport coming
into DC were being charged varying fares to the same destination, but
you failed to say if they were DC, Arlington County, Prince Georges
County, or Montgomery County cabs. If you don’t get a cab from the
same jurisdiction, you undoubtedly will get a different fares. Drivers
whom you might consider as dishonest will continue to charge different
fares, no matter what system is being used. The study that you site for
reference was so greatly flawed and questionable that it was never
publicly used because of its flaws. If you and Mayor Adrian Fenty truly
want to discuss these and other important issues about the taxi industry
in DC, you need to contact the office of the DC Professional Taxicab
Drivers Association at 832- 3002.
The office of the Mayor has repeatedly fail to meet and discuss these
very same subject, after telling us that they would invite such a
meeting. It also would help you tremendously it you had better knowledge
of your subject before issuing flawed material.
Respect for Cab Drivers
Qawi Robinson, email@example.com
In reading the comments of firstname.lastname@example.org
[themail, October 14]
and those who support meters, one would think that the metropolitan area
is filled people who hail cabs on a daily basis. While most of the
comments have merit, there are some things that cannot be denied: 1)
Fenty indeed caved in to Congressional pressure. How is it that Congress
can exert pressure to push along the issue of metered cabs to
"benefit its citizens," yet almost totally ignore DC citizens’
right for true representation. Carl M. Levin did support S.1257 (the DC
Voting Rights Bill) and keeping DC’s Gun Laws intact. I don’t know
if this taxicab fare imposition is a tradeoff for Congressional support,
but you be the judge. Also, to decide for time and distance meters and
have no idea of the timetable, how it is going to be implemented, and
how much it is going to cost is a mistake. Sounds not only blind,
shortsighted, and halfhearted, but a sure recipe for fiscal
irresponsibility, like Nationals Stadium parking.
2) Zones are not the problem. From most of the complaints I’ve
read, several cite drivers cheating them. If a cab driver is dishonest
about fares, report him or her. This nonsense about the zones could be
founded in folks not being able to read a map, to understand rush hour
and passenger surcharges, or to know boundary and surrounding streets.
This is really an education problem, one that only makes folks less
likely to learn boundaries with meters. The boundary issue specifically
and being not in touch with riders was only highlighted by Fenty
standing on the corner of Naylor Road and Alabama Avenue. Most people
familiar with that area realize that there’s a Metro station nearby
and also realize that most of the people complaining about zones don’t
live in southeast, east of the river. 3) Predictable fares won’t come
through meters. While meters tend to benefit those who take shorter
trips, don’t be lulled into believing that meters will make fares
overall cheaper or more predictable. Rather than cite the many examples
already posted, just think about what meters are based on, aggregating
time and distance, both of which are more variable then starting point
and destination. While meters may work in other metropolitan cities
(mainly because the riders don’t complain and are forced into getting
used to it), this system is far from consistent or efficient.
3) Taxi meters won’t make a city world class! And Fenty’s saying
that we are working towards making DC world class through meters is a
black eye to all residents. DC is not NYC, Philly, or Boston. Otherwise,
the seat of government would have stayed in those locations. What is the
fascination about making DC into other cities at the expense of the
residential tax base? The NYC taxi system is based on a sense of
uniformity that does not have the same commuter demographic and volume
as DC. I guess the next thing to do is make all DC cabs the same color,
like the medallion taxis, too. 4) Certain people just don’t have
respect for the profession. Being a public service vehicle operator
(driver, hacker, cabbie, etc.) is not a job for lowlifes, high school
dropouts, or ESL people. It is a profession in which the safe passage of
precious cargo is done on a daily basis. Not enough respect is given to
them, especially based on the comments about odor and language I’ve
read. There may be a proliferation of drivers from many cultures taking
on this profession, but that doesn’t give us a license to belittle
them. While the Taxicab Commission conducted a sham survey, if the
drivers tell you what would help their profession, you’d better listen
to them. A Public Service Vehicle Operator license requires far more
scrutiny, far higher insurance costs, and in these days far more risk of
life and limb than many professions. Not enough respect is given to the
drivers who take this career seriously. While there are good, bad, and
interlopers in every profession, if the city’s politicians were so
concerned about taxicabs, they wouldn’t be fighting for meters. They’d
be fighting for and subsidizing other reforms in the profession: cameras
for safety, point-of-sale systems for debit and credit card users,
alternative fuel fleets, etc.
The decision for meters in taxis should be a much heralded decision
by the mayor, for once in his administration, but when he relegated to
the Taxicab Commission the time line to have meters installed in taxis,
that was a bum decision. The Taxicab Commission is useless when it comes
to making hard decisions about regulating the taxicab industry. Fenty
will find out how ineffective the Commission really is. As for the
outrage expressed by certain drivers about the decision to use meters,
it can only be construed as a protest against their ability to continue
bilking the public using the current zone system. Meters will now make
honest the charges made for trips in and around town. Yes, it is
expensive to install these meters, but considering how much money the
current set of drivers made, they ought to be able to afford the
installation. Has anyone counted how many new cab companies have come
into existence since the beginning of the year? This should alert you to
how much money was being charged the riding public with the current zone
system to entice more cabs on the streets of DC. Lets hope that the new
meter system will sift the chafe from the wheat.
Built Like A Brick Outhouse
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
Demolition contractors tearing down the old Tenley Library are
finding the task pretty daunting. Seems that the old gal was really put
together and is resisting coming down despite the heavy equipment
bashing and crunching. Makes one wonder if there was a good cost versus
benefit analysis to determine if the old library could not have been
extensively modified at a lower cost and within a much shorter time
frame. Don’t dust off your library cards yet. It’s likely that the
card or you will be long expired before we see a replacement library if
the District chooses to go it alone with a replacement facility.
We are looking to connect with parents who are homeschooling or
intend to homeschool in northwest or elsewhere in DC. (We are in
Columbia Heights.) Our two sons are three years old, and we are
homeschooling from a non-religious perspective. We are members of a
great preschool-age homeschoolers group, but most of the members are in
northern Virginia and we are hoping to find folks around here as well.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Anderson, Logan Circle/Shaw, email@example.com
In response to Ed Barron’s post on a large number of acorns in his
area [themail, October 14], the trees in our neighborhood went nuts
(pardon the pun) last year. The Washington Post ran an article on
the subject. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/18/AR2006101800367.html).
Here are two salient paragraphs that explain the phenomenon: “This  is one of those years when certain species of oak are
producing a bumper crop across large geographic areas. Horticulturists
call it masting and are seeing it in the mid-Atlantic in a group of
closely related oaks, especially white oaks, chestnut oaks, swamp white
oaks and post oaks.
“‘In the chestnut oaks, we are having a huge crop,’ said
Joan Feely, curator of native plants at the National Arboretum.
Scientists generally believe that the phenomenon is a key survival
strategy for oaks and that it may take several years for an oak to build
up enough nutrient reserves to seed heavily. The irregular cycles thwart
pests and predators by producing an occasional crop too large for them
to consume.” Maybe the variety of trees in your neighborhood is
"masting" this year. Ours aren’t. As far as weather
prognostication goes, I’m not so sure.
In his latest posting in themail [October 10], a Mt. Pleasant ANC
commissioner makes another attempt to support scofflaw business owners
and disparage neighborhood activists with his argument that DC laws and
regulations get reduced to “weapons for disgruntled neighbors to
persecute their neighbors,” while he selectively describes the
circumstances that led highly regarded neighborhood groups to press for
city enforcement of its laws in dealing with obstinate and scofflaw
property and business owners.
McKay neglected to mention that the property owner took over an
entire block of public space (parking) without permission and built a
driveway, a parking pad, and numerous wooden trash houses (one
dangerously near a gas connection) on that space, and began directing
large commercial trash trucks onto a small residential street --
blocking the street, blocking the sidewalk, creating noise, rat
harborage, stench, visible food waste -- and creating a dangerous
vehicular and pedestrian safety situation in our community. With the
largest square footage on the entire commercial strip, the negative part
of this business spilled into the neighborhood, becoming one of its
The property owner received four years of slack. He deserved no more.
The Public Space Committee, hearing testimony from the DC Council,
Historic Mount Pleasant, the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Alliance, the
Metropolitan Police Department, and many neighbors from the community,
voted to deny the property owner the ability to store garbage on public
space and ordered the illegal construction removed. When the owner
failed to comply, the city did it for him. The Latino restaurateur
mentioned has nothing to do with this; it is up to the property owner to
comply with the law. All three businesses operating on this property
need to do what every other business owner on the commercial strip is
required to do. That is, store their trash on their own premises until
trash pickup day and use the reserved loading zone in front of the
buildings to pick it up. Finally, after a long four-year wait, we are
finally seeing accountability from the Fenty Administration, but we get
no such support from our local ANC. How pathetic.
Nothing New to Analyze: Same Old, Same Old
Len Sullivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
NARPAC dutifully assembled all the Washington Post headlines
concerning DC government-related actions for September, 2007, divided
them into six categories, and catalogued them by date, just as it has
for the past 129 months. For several months now, there has not been a
single new issue worthy of original or updated analysis. DC seems to
churn along regenerating the same old, same old, headlines about
mediocre government performance at a rate of about one hundred articles
a month. So this month, we have simply categorized some of the most
egregious examples and asked a set of rhetorical questions for which
there are no real-world answers. Each month provides fresh fodder to
feed justifiable scorn for our national capital city, and to jeopardize
its growth as a vibrant symbol of our American future. These remain the
two major concerns of this organization. You can find a summary of this
month’s concerns on our web site at "What’s New?": http://www.narpac.org/INTHOM.HTM.
Let us know where you take exception to our discouragement.
Subscribe to the Corrupt 1 Blog
Jonathan R. Rees and Ramon R. José Rivera, email@example.com
In only a five-month period, The Corrupt 1 Blog has grown to be read
each day by fifteen thousand readers in DC, including members of
Congress, the leaders of the government of the District of Columbia, and
people like you. Warning: the Corrupt 1 Blog deals with matters of
corruption inside the government of the District of Columbia and those
business leaders doing the corrupting, and we add to it a touch of
comical sarcasm with music videos now and then for you old school,
The Corrupt 1 is for a mature audience and contains some profanity
and tactlessness in driving the truth home. See the Corrupt 1 at
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Off the Chain Dog Fighting Documentary, October 25
Corey Jennings, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of America, will join
the October 25 conclusion to the Next Generation Awareness Foundation’s
2007 Black Docs Film Series as it presents Off the Chain, a shocking
documentary on underground dog fighting produced by Bobby J. Brown (The
Wire, The Corner, City by the Sea, and Major League II). The program
will take place at Landmark’s E Street Cinema located at 55th and 11th
Streets, NW, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $11 for general admission
and $15 for VIP admission, and can be purchased online at
UrbanFilmSeries.com or at the E Street Cinema box office.
Wayne Pacell, Bobby Brown, and others will introduce the film and
have a question and answer session about the film and the issue of dog
fighting in America. Pamphlets and giveaways will be provided by the
Humane Society for attendees. The program will conclude a second
overwhelmingly successful year of the Black Docs Film Series. Tickets:
general admission, $11.00; VIP admission, $15. Available at
UrbanFilmSeries.com or Landmark E Street Theater box office.
Harold Valentine Event, October 27
Alexander Padro, email@example.com
Were it not for Harold Valentine, Washington, DC, might well still
not have an active Housing Production Trust Fund. You may recall that
for over a decade, the DC Housing Production Trust Fund had no deposits
made into it. It was a fund in name only, established by the District
government but inactive due to a lack of enforcement of the revenue
generating procedures that were intended to fill its coffers. However,
Harold Valentine remembered the Fund. And in a hearing before
Councilmember Phil Mendelson, Valentine dusted off the documents that
created the Fund and the process of bringing the Fund, which some
referred to as “The Sleeping Giant,” back to life began.
Today, the HPTF is creating new affordable housing for low and
moderate income families, sustained by a portion of the District’s
deed and recordation taxes. We have Harold Valentine to thank for the
revival of the Fund. And to thank him, on Saturday, October 27, from
2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Phillips Flagship Seafood Restaurant, 900 M
Street, SW, Harold Valentine will be recognized at an event entitled,
"Honoring a Man of Purpose." You are invited to be a part of
Leaders from the housing, community development, social service, and
crime prevention areas will join in paying tribute to this multitalented
activist and advocate. Valentine has spent nearly forty years supporting
initiatives that strengthen families, support youth and seniors, make
neighborhoods safer, and prepare men and women for productive careers.
He has worked with such groups as Housing Counseling Services, Manna CDC,
Manna Inc., United Planning Organization, Columbia Heights/Shaw Family
Support Collaborative, Shaw Community Ministry, Shaw/Northwest One
Anti-Crime Task Force, Friends of Kennedy Playground, Mid Atlantic
Gleaning Network, Organization for Training Others in Need, DC Public
Schools, and the DC Apprenticeship Board, to name but a few. A two-term
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Columbia Heights, Valentine has
been effective in creating positive change for our city’s most
vulnerable citizens. A portion of the proceeds generated by this event
will be used to establish the CHSFSC Harold L. Valentine Shaw
Apprenticeship Support Fund, assisting job readiness and preparedness
programs and the Shaw residents they serve. The event will feature a
buffet meal, an inspirational musical tribute by Patricia Barnes
Brookes, testimonials and tributes by colleagues and beneficiaries of
Valentine’s efforts, city officials, family, and friends.
We invite you to send representatives from your organization to join
in honoring a man that has made such a difference to our city and the
affordable housing movement. Advertisements in a souvenir program for
the tribute are also available. If you are unable to attend, you can
donate a ticket so that someone who has benefited from Valentine’s
work but cannot afford a ticket can attend. Tickets are $40 each and are
available by contacting Priscilla G. Francis at 375-8063 or Amanda
Bridges (CHSFSC) at 518-6737 or by E-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creation Theory Book Talk, October 29
John Umana, email@example.com
Monday, October 29, 7:30 p.m., West End Neighborhood Library, 1101
24th Street, NW. Author John Umana, Ph.D., will discuss his book, Creation:
Towards A Theory of All Things, concerning the debate between
Darwinism and intelligent design. Are these theories reconcilable? Is
there life on other worlds? For more information, contact 724-8707.
The Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) and the
Business Division of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library will co-host a
series of free financial-education seminars to help you jump-start your
financial portfolio, help you get out of debt, and build wealth.
A seminar on Tax Tips that Save will be held on Tuesday, October 30,
at 6:30 p.m., at Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Great Hall,
901 G Street, NW. William Stromsen with the Tax Division at the American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the George Washington
University School of Business and Public Administration, will discuss
saving money during the tax season and through various tax advantages.
For more information, visit DISB’s web site at http://www.disb.dc.gov
and visit the agency calendar. For more info, call 727-1171 or 442-7822.
CLASSIFIEDS — DONATIONS
American Heart Association
Bruce Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been asked to help raise money for the upcoming Greater
Washington Heart Walk and I have accepted without hesitation because I
am one of the many who was nearly killed by cardiovascular disease years
ago. It was midsummer, hot and humid, and I was on assignment in
southeast DC with photographer Mike Fox. The tightness in my chest that
wouldn’t go away was dismissed as indigestion, then it hit me: I am
having a massive heart attack. If Mike had not gotten me to a fire
station and paramedics not gotten me to Greater Southeast hospital I
would have died. They hit me with clot busters; but it wasn’t enough.
I was flown by helicopter in the middle of the night to the Washington
Hospital Center, where a team of doctors stood ready to perform an
emergency angioplasty. It worked. I survived and went on to complete my
first Marine Corps marathon.
Everyone knows someone who has been affected by heart disease or
stroke. In our lifetimes one in three persons will be affected by these
diseases. On November 3, I’ll be helping the American Heart
Association fight the Nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 causes of death, heart
disease and stroke, at the Start! Greater Washington Heart Walk. Funds
raised through the Heart Walk support research, community service and
public and professional education programs.
My personal goal is to raise $1,000 Your support will help. If you
would like to donate online please feel free to go to my personal web
page at https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=211655&lis=1&kntae211655=2AE43C0DFC924E68B5D935305097C5EE&supId=192313662.
Or please send your donation to American Heart Association. The Start!
Greater Washington Heart Walk is quickly approaching, so please send it
as soon as possible. Together we will make a difference!
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
NARPAC has been approached by a group of fourteen out-of-town college
students who would like to spend their spring break next year in DC
being helpful, wherever they’re needed: "such as in housing
projects or park cleanups, or anywhere that needs work done for a
week." Any agency that would like to help these kids help them,
please let me know and I’ll put you in contact with them.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, use the
subscription form at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/subscribe.htm.
To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to email@example.com
with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages
are available at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail.
All postings should also be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of
Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to
be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief
paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can
be put into each mailing.