Dear Careful Considerators:
Nikita Stewart wrote a good background article on the shaky deal that
the city council approved for the government to underwrite the sale of
Greater Southeast Community Hospital to Specialty Hospitals of America,
“Some on Council Now Doubt Wisdom of Hospital Deal: Members Say Faith
in City Officials Was Shaken by 11th Hour Notice of Financial Risks in
$79 Million Plan.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/01/AR2007110102872.html?sub=AR).
The unusually lengthy headline tells the gist of the story. Chief
Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi’s serious reservations about the
financial soundness of the deal (http://www.dcwatch.com/govern/cfo071023.htm)
were kept from most councilmembers, and General Counsel Peter Nickles
didn’t even show Gandhi’s letter to Mayor Fenty. Nickles gave
Stewart a deeply cynical, in-your-face response when asked why he didn’t
let councilmembers know about the financial problems with the deal and
about Gandhi’s warnings: “‘It came to me in a sealed envelope. It
was marked confidential,’ he said. ‘Well, I’m an honorable person.
. . . I honor confidentiality, even to the point that the mayor was
surprised’ that the letter existed.”
The city council voted for the deal as a result of being denied vital
information about it, and as a result of its own propensity, which it
shares with the mayor, of acting rashly and precipitously without giving
itself enough time to read the bills before them, research them, consult
widely with experts and the public, and deliberate fully and completely.
As a result, councilmembers are now reduced to merely hoping that their
mistake won’t prove to be as disastrous as it is likely to be: “‘We’re
all keeping our fingers crossed. We’re not entirely sure that it’s
going to work,’ said council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), echoing
the sentiments of a majority of council members.”
We all regularly encounter — and are annoyed if not frustrated by
— those “go-away” signs and barriers at construction sites that
force us off the sidewalk. It doesn’t have to be that way, and indeed
it isn’t: New York City requires well protected walkways on the
sidewalk at construction sites. For slide shows comparing what happens
in DC and what NYC does, please see my web site, http://walkdc.googlepages.com/home.
DC Department of Transportation officials told me some time ago that
they are “working on new regulations.” Very good news indeed, albeit
tempered a bit by their silence when asked about the timing and nature
of those new regulations, and their enforcement plans. Why is it taking
so long to fix a problem that seems to be getting worse, uglifies our
streets, and forces risks on walkers, including the disabled?
GAO on DC School Vouchers
Paul Basken, firstname.lastname@example.org
For your information, the Government Accountability Office has
released a report on the DC school voucher program, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-9.
The Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences released
another critical report in June, http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20074009/
[full report at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20074009.pdf].
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
Those protesting cab drivers claiming they will lose money with
meters as opposed to zone fares are crying crocodile tears. Cab drivers
will actually fare much better with the generous proposal of the Mayor
on how the meters will charge fares. A flag drop of four dollars is 60
percent higher than fares in New York and most other US cities. With
additional charges for slow moving and heavy traffic or time waiting,
the cab drivers in DC will find that they are far better off. And don’t
forget the rush hour surcharge of an additional buck during rush hours
(6 a.m. until 9 p.m.?). Passengers, on the other hand, will likely find
they are paying more for their cab rides. Also, drivers here don’t
have to pay for a cab medallion as they for in New York. Last time I
remember a medallion being sold in NY it was about seventy thousand
dollars. That’s about forty times the cost of a new meter.
Band-Aiding the Symptoms
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
Another all hands on deck for the police in DC to make a lot of
arrests in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Nice, but not the real solution
to crime in DC.
Why do we have crime ridden neighborhoods? The answer is that these
neighborhoods are starved for the elements that make neighborhoods good
neighborhoods. Yes, I’m talking about money and investments. Studies
have shown that kids coming from very good families but growing up in
bad neighborhoods will likely become bad kids. Conversely, a kid coming
from a very dysfunctional family, maybe even a bad kid, but growing up
in a good neighborhood, will likely become a good kid. So, we are
treating the symptoms, crime, when we should be treating the disease,
poor neighborhoods. If we want to lower crime we have to bite the bullet
and start making some serious investments in turning poor neighborhoods
into functioning middle class neighborhoods. Let’s see what kind of
plan can be put together by the current administration, perhaps a pilot
program with one neighborhood, to make that neighborhood a functional
Though it may be obvious to others, I have a question regarding
Dorothy’s “Sounding the Alarm” [themail, October 31] about the
Fenty order to erase DC government E-mails after six months. Does the
January 5, 2008, starting date begin the clock ticking toward the first
six-month elimination date or on January 5 will all government E-mails
older than sometime in early July 2007 be automatically (or manually?)
[According to Mayor’s Order 2007-07 (http://www.dcwatch.com/govern/octo070921.htm),
the government can, and probably will, begin erasing E-mails on January
5, 2008. — Gary Imhoff]
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
First-Wednesdays Money-Saving Seminar,
Michelle Phipps-Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the first time the District of Columbia has declared November
as Health Insurance Awareness Month, which had been spearheaded by the
DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB). To mark this
month, which coincides with the Open Enrollment season, the upcoming
First Wednesdays Money-Saving Seminars will focus on the topic of health
insurance; and DISB’s Senior Insurance Operations Specialist Carolyn
King will give the presentation. Wednesday, November 7, from noon to 1
p.m., at DISB’s office at 810 First Street, NE, #701.
Be prepared to ask as many questions as you may have while you decide
on your health insurance needs based on your life stage. We look forward
to seeing you at the next-to-last installment of the First Wednesdays
Money-Saving Seminars for 2007. Don’t forget to bring your lunch.
Thanks so much for coming out and supporting the programs of DISB.
Should you have any questions, please call Michelle Phipps-Evans at
The DC Department of Health will be conducting a mass vaccination
clinic to test the District’s capability to respond to a pandemic or
other public health emergencies. Free flu shots and pneumococcal
vaccinations will be provided to District residents aged nine and up on
Thursday, November 8, at the Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 7th Street,
NW, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and at the DC Armory, 2001 E. Capitol
Street, SE, from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Anyone under the age of
eighteen must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, please
contact the DOH Call Center, 671-5000.
[This is being reprinted from the last issue of themail to correct
the telephone number for the DOH Call Center. — Gary Imhoff]
Home Energy Efficiency Expo, November 10
Hazel Thomas, email@example.com
The Office of the People’s Counsel will hold a home energy
efficiency expo at the Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon
Place, NW, in Rooms 101, 102A, and 102B, on Saturday, November 10, from
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It will feature hands-on demonstrations, energy
audit information, “green” loan programs, energy upgrade success
stories, green builders, insulation providers, solar energy providers,
and information on getting started, getting licenses and permits. For
more information, call 727-3071.
New Communities Initiatives Forum, November 13
Angie Rodgers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join the DC Affordable Housing Alliance for a neighborhood
forum on DC’s New Communities Initiatives. The focus of the evening
will be on information sharing so that all members of the community are
updated about the current status of New Communities. The forum will be
held on Tuesday, November 13, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the St.
Aloysius Church, 900 North Capitol Street, NW, between I and K Streets.
Panelists include Buwa Binitie, New Communities; Dorothea Ferrell, Barry
Farms; Patricia Malloy and Brenda Williams, Lincoln Heights/Richardson
Dwellings; Northwest 1 Council, Northwest One; and Marie Whitfield, Park
The New Communities Initiative was designed to improve the physical
landscape and social opportunities for residents of areas in the
District with high concentrations of violent crime, poverty, distressed
housing, and strong development pressures in the neighborhood. The
initiative seeks to be a comprehensive approach to revitalization —
integrating housing, business, and community asset development with
human services programming. Four communities are slated for
redevelopment. The forum sponsor, the DC Affordable Housing Alliance
(AHA), is a broad community coalition of more than seventy organizations
and senior citizens, developers, housing advocates, tenants, citizens
with disabilities, and homeless families working together for affordable
housing in the District of Columbia, especially for low-income
residents. For more information, contact Angie Rodgers, email@example.com.
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