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April 13, 2008


Dear Honest Citizens:

Gary Emerling has a major follow-up story on the spy-cam network that the Fenty administration is setting up unilaterally, without the involvement, cooperation, or consent of the city council, The more we learn about this initiative, the worse it sounds. The Williams administration marked the seventy-four Metropolitan Police Department spy cameras that it installed in public places with signs warning that the area is under surveillance. The Fenty administration isn’t going to mark the areas around the thousands of other cameras that it is adding to the network. Read the slippery disingenuousness with which Darrell Darnell, director of the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, attempts to justify not giving the public the same fair warning that they are being spied on: “This isn’t a crime surveillance tool; this is strictly a monitoring function. It may not seem like there’s a difference there, but there is.” No there isn’t, and Darnell knows it.

That’s not the end of Darnell’s double-talk about the program. “We’re not surveilling,” Darnell tells Emerling. “Unless MPD comes to us and specifically asks for something, we’re not going to MPD unless we catch it.” So they’ll watch the camera monitors, but they won’t “surveil” them, and it’s not like they’re watching for crimes or suspicious activity, because they’ll only report what they see to MPD if they see it.

Darnell’s evasions, however, are nothing compared with the MPD’s shameless duplicitous explanation of why it isn’t bound by the law that forbids officers from actively monitoring the spy cams. MPD spokeswoman Traci Hughes writes, “Chief Lanier is not prohibited from actively monitoring the cameras, as the statute states that ‘. . . video feeds may not be monitored in real time . . . ,’ not ‘. . . shall not be monitored in real time. . . . The language of the statute was not intended to, nor shall it be read to, be a limitation on the chief’s authority to order active monitoring.” So a law that says you may not do something means that you can — just you try arguing that the next time you’re in a fight with the city.

Even if you don’t value your privacy, and don’t care whether Big Brother spies on you, do you trust surrendering your privacy to government officials who have shown themselves to be this dishonest and disrespectful of the law when they first set up their spy camera network? And does the city council care?

Gary Imhoff


DCPS School Bus Drivers’ License Invalid and Fraudulent
L. Schmidt,

Numerous District of Columbia School bus drivers have been transporting children without a proper commercial driver license (CDL) with an “S” Endorsement to operate a school bus safely. The DCPS transportation administrator, David Gilmore, has been aware of the federal deadline for years, and clearly before the 2007-08 school year began. Some drivers have passed the required testing, but due to an enormous backlog must wait months before able to drive. Others have failed the test more than once, and there are those that passed but cannot drive due to multiple traffic violations and or enormous fines, and, allegedly, a few drivers have resigned due to license fraud.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that, beginning September 30, 2007, a school bus driver with commercial driver license (CDL) must have a new “S” (school bus) endorsement ( The S endorsement will be required to drive a school bus vehicle designed to seat sixteen or more persons, including the driver. To receive an “S” endorsement, extra testing is required that test comprehension of vehicle inspection, loading, road safety, after-trip vehicle inspection, prohibited practices, and other essential safety points. If you pass, you will receive an “S” endorsement on your license.

Citizens for the Children is once again calling for Judge Paul L. Friedman to seek immediate removal of transportation’s administrator David I Gilmore for blatant negligence. Judge Friedman granted Gilmore receivership and the duty as stated in the 2003 Consent Order, “To transform DCPS Transportation into a transportation entity that consistently provides SAFE and appropriate transportation services. . . .” DCPS special education parents and children should expect late pickups, school arrivals and late returns due to the number of bus routes affected by Gilmore’s failure, once again, to comply with Judge Friedman’s Order to “. . . provide safe and appropriate transportation services to eligible special education students in compliance with, inter alia, the Orders of this case, including the Petties Transportation Plan, the Petties Transportation Standards, and relevant statutory provisions. . . .” Previously, the CFTC alerted the community about the administrator harboring a convicted criminal; currently, she remains the top manager,


Labor and Chancellor Diss DCPS Teachers
Candi Peterson,

As a Washington Teachers’ Union Board of Trustee member, I learned about the DCPS Teacher Transition Award (TTA) by watching it on television news last Thursday. That same evening, a citywide E-mail was sent to all teachers by Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson providing the details of both the early out for teachers eligible to retire and the monetary awards that are being offered to DCPS teachers in closing and restructured schools. I learned based on the news reports that my teachers’ union requested this plan. I believe this to be true, as our Washington Teachers Union Chief of Staff, Clay White, read a media statement from our WTU President, George Parker, at that Thursday press conference alongside Chancellor Rhee and Mayor Fenty. I am sure had our union not supported such a plan, that claim would have been disputed by Mr. White at that time. This was not the case.

This TTA plan was not brought to the attention of our elected WTU Executive Board for review or consideration. I know that it does not have the support of our WTU teacher members. At the very least, WTU elected board members should have been made aware of this plan before a televised press conference. I feel much like I imagine Chairman Vincent Gray of the DC city council must feel when he learns about Mayor Fenty’s and Chancellor Rhee’s plans in the local press: disheartened, disengaged, and disrespected. While I support an incentive package for DCPS teachers eligible to retire, I have a problem encouraging young mid-level and senior certified teachers to resign with meager monetary awards with as little as $1,000 up to $15,000 when there is a teacher shortage across this country. If they resign under this plan, they cannot return to DCPS for five years, and obviously they cannot support themselves for long on these meager awards. I do not know of any other credible school system or teachers’ union that would facilitate the resignations of young and mid level teachers resigning. Certainly this is not a remedy to the problems we face.

It is a sad day for all DCPS teachers and related service providers. I strongly urge all eligible DCPS teachers and providers in our closing and restructured schools to stand up and resist being forced out. The plan is to hire new teachers in your place. Just say “no” to TTA for we have been dissed!


Semisecret and Anti-Everything
Sue Hemberger, Friendship Heights,

In addition to hosting three special community-wide meetings on the Tenleytown project and presenting reports on its work at regularly scheduled ANC meetings, the “semi-secret” ANC 3E committee Ron Lefrancois refers to [themail, April 9] has consistently posted not only its analysis and recommendations online, but also the underlying meeting minutes, interview notes, data, and FOIA’d documents that have informed its work. All of these materials can be found at by clicking the meeting minutes or documents links provided in the first two paragraphs of text. And critics of the proposal to build a private residential building on the already heavily-utilized Janney/Tenley-Friendship Library site are hardly “anti-everything,” as he claims. We’re pro-sports fields and playgrounds and quite excited about the new library DCPL has planned for us. You can see its design (as well as that of the other three neighborhood branches being rebuilt) at

What’s striking about Ron’s post is that he is not in favor of any actually proposed public-private project involving the school and library. Like a handful of other residents, he has simply been enamored of the idea of such a PPP for years. Literally nobody (individual or group) has come out publicly in favor of selecting any of the submissions or partners that have emerged from the RFP process. It’s a shame that the Deputy Mayor’s office botched this project so badly. Had they done a better job, it would be clear by now, even to Ron, that the reality of a PPP is much less appealing than the concept, given the economic and physical constraints of the site.

Meanwhile, don’t despair for mixed-use in Tenleytown. The metro station in question is already home to two schools, a church, a couple dozen stores and restaurants, and a couple hundred condos and, soon, a new library!


April 2008 InTowner
P.L. Wolff,

This is to advise that the April 2008 on-line edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials (including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’ also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature (the accompanying images can be seen in the archived PDF version). The complete issue (along with prior issues back to January 2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link in the Current & Back Issues Archive. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in print, including all photos and advertisements.

The next issue will publish on May 9 (the second Friday of the month, as always). The complete PDF version will be posted by the preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter. To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “Adams Morgan Liquor License Moratorium Up for Renewal — Proponents Petition Seeking 5-Year Extension & Additional Restrictions Granted”; 2) “ABC Board OKs 5 More Years for Moratorium”; 3) “Haynes Charter School Moving to Georgia Ave. from 14th & Irving Sts.”



Park in Armed Forces Retirement Home, April 14
Reyn Anderson,

Have you wanted to get involved in Washington Central Parks’ quest to get parts of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) reopened as public park, and wondered how? Now’s your chance! Please come out this Monday, April 14, 6:30-8:00 p.m., to a public meeting sponsored by the National Capital Planning Commission (at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School, 3102 Georgia Avenue). You can download the AFRH’s development plans at or view a hard copy at the Petworth Library.

The AFRH’s plans still include over six million square feet of development (that’s the size of the Pentagon, or ten times the DC USA development in Columbia Heights); almost nine thousand parking spaces (that’s almost double the number of cars going out to a Nationals’ game at the new stadium, coming to our neighborhoods every day). Come support the alternative: development along the public transportation corridors of North Capitol and Irving Streets, supported by Emancipation Park at the Old Soldiers’ Home!

Emancipation Park will preserve the setting of Lincoln’s Cottage, where he worked on the Emancipation Proclamation, for generations to come, and provide a green backbone to support the neighborhoods East of Georgia Avenue, which currently have access to five times less parks and open space than neighborhoods West of Rock Creek Park. You can view Washington Central Parks’ overall vision at


Democratic Debate Watch, April 16
Hazel Thomas,

The Ward 5 Democrats, Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr., and the DC Young Democrats invite you to join them for a watch party of the Philadelphia Democratic candidates’ debate. The watch party will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, at the Cardinal’s Nest Restaurant located at 3847 10th Street, NE (one block from the Brookland Metro). Parking is available adjacent to the restaurant.

We welcome you to join the Ward 5 Democrats Community and the DC Young Democrats as we watch this pivotal debate between Democratic candidates, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. As stated by Ward 5 Democrats Chairman, Tim Thomas, “this debate will be their last direct encounter before the critical Pennsylvania primary on April 22, where 188 delegates will be at stake: thirty of whom are unpledged super delegates and one hundred fifty of whom are pledged delegates who will be allotted on a proportional basis.”

Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Ward 5 Democrats Chairman, Timothy Thomas at 309-2229 or at


Roundtable Discussion on Buried Munitions in Spring Valley, April 17
David Starrels,

In case you didn’t know, what is now the Spring Valley neighborhood in upper Northwest was at one time the location of heavy munitions testing during the First World War. Physical and potentially dangerous remnants of this period are still being unearthed today. The US Army has spent nearly $150 million in the clean up of contaminated properties and the disposal of chemical munitions. District residents, decision makers and others continue to be concerned that a larger clean up is necessary and that the health and safety of District residents continues to be at risk.

Come explore this critical issue at an upcoming roundtable discussion hosted by Global Green USA and the DC Environmental Network at Friends of the Earth. The April 17 event begins at noon. It will be held at Friends of the Earth, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 600. For more information call 222-0746.


Historical Society of Washington, DC, Events, April 19
Karen Sallis,

Saturday, April 19, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Family series walking tour: Northern Liberty Market/Shaw. Join fourth-generation Washingtonian and master guide Jeanne Fogle on a walking tour, as she guides you down history lane. Learn little known facts about the Shaw neighborhood, its landmarks and social and political pioneers. Limit 25 people (ages 12 to Adults). Meeting place at 2:15 p.m., at the front door of the Carnegie Library, 801 K Street, NW . Registration Required. with the subject line walking tour or call 383-1828.

2 p.m. Film series: Thurgood Marshall: Portrait of an American Hero, 1985, USA, 30 minutes. Tracing the illustrious career of the first Black person appointed as a Supreme Court Justice, viewers follow Thurgood Marshall through legal studies and private practice, where he concentrated on civil rights; his appointment to serve as head of the NAACP’s legal division, and his career as Supreme Court Justice. with the subject line Thurgood Marshall or call 383-1828.

2:45 p.m. Film: Skin Deep, 1999, USA, Marian Marzynski, 60 minutes. Skin Deep is one episode of a 26-part PBS series by People’s Century, a co-production of WGBH and the BBC, filmed around the world and shaped in Boston and London. Skin Deep examines the fight against legal, institutionalized racism in the United States and South Africa, from the 1950s through the 1990s. with the subject line Skin Deep or call 383-1828.


National Arboretum in the Twenty-First Century, April 21
Jazmine Zick,

Monday, April 21, 6:30-8:00 p.m. America’s Public Oasis: The United States National Arboretum in the 21st Century. How does the United States National Arboretum (USNA) serve Washington, DC, and the nation? Dr. Thomas Elias, director, USNA and Faye Harwell, landscape architect and director, Rhodeside & Harwell, Inc., address this question and discuss the arboretum’s Master Plan for the 21st Century. $12 Members; $12 Students; $20 Nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk in registration based on availability. DC Builds is presented by the National Building Museum in partnership with the DC Office of Planning. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


Rainbow Families DC Conference, April 26
Julie Drizin,

“Out Families: Proud Families,” the Rainbow Families DC annual conference, is Saturday, April 26, from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the Takoma Park Middle School on Piney Branch Road in Takoma Park, MD. The conference features a full day of workshops, panels, discussions, food, and fun for lesbian, gay, bi, and trans parents and prospective parents. There’s also a full day of Kids Camp enrichment activities for ages 2.5-8, and ’ tween programming for ages 9 and older provided by COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere). Preregistration for children is required. The keynote speaker is attorney Shannon Minter on “The future of LGBT Family Law: New Hopes, Fears and Uncertainties for Same-Sex Couples and LGBT Parents.” More information and registration at


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