In the past few months, my introductions to issues of themail seem to
have devoted almost exclusively to recounting problems with sending
themail to you. This will be no exception. Our latest involuntary break
was the result of a hacker attack on the DCWatch web server that brought
down our ability to send or receive mail through the web site. We lost a
few days’ mail, so if you sent a message to themail that hasn’t been
published, please send it again.
This breakdown compelled me to find yet another way to send themail,
a commercial service that I’m trying out for the first time with this
issue. Several people had complained that they weren’t receiving their
issues of themail, and others were receiving it in plain text format
even though it was being sent in HTML. If the new service works well,
these problems should be resolved. Please let me know if you have any
trouble receiving your subscription to themail.
Last Friday, the district filed its Supreme Court Brief in the Second
Amendment rights handgun case DC v. Heller, http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/gun080104.htm.
The District is appealing the 2007 decision of the US Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia Circuit, which struck down provisions of
the District’s Firearm Control Regulation Act of 1975, and read the
Second Amendment as guaranteeing an individual right to keep and bear
arms. The Supreme Court granted the District’s petition for a writ of
certiorari, and phrased the question of the case as to whether DC Code
7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 violate the Second Amendment
rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-related
militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private
use in their homes. Oral arguments will be heard in March, and a written
decision is expected this summer.
As has been widely reported in the press, two attorneys who are
listed on the District’s brief, Attorney General Linda Singer and Alan
B. Morrison, special counsel to Singer, are no longer associated with
the case. Singer resigned as Attorney General in December after enduring
a year in which her authority as the District’s lead attorney was
usurped by the mayor’s General Counsel, Peter Nickles, who was
subsequently named as her interim replacement. In one of his first
official acts, Nickles dismissed Morrison, an experienced Supreme Court
litigator who was scheduled to argue the District case. Now, despite
the fact that there are more than three hundred attorneys in the
Attorney General’s office, DC’s legal team is dominated by private
attorneys: Walter E. Dellinger of O’Melveny and Myers, Thomas
Goldstein of Akin Gump, Robert Long of Covington and Burling, and DC
Solicitor General Todd Kim, http://www.dcwatch.com/gun080104b.htm.
On Monday, the city council’s newly established Office of Policy
issued its first report, “Education Reform in the District of
Columbia: The Modified Role of the Council of the District of
The report describes itself as “a primer to the new role of the
Council of the District of Columbia in public education.” The report’s
conclusion notes that “mayoral control [of DCPS] has yet to be proven
as effective reform” and also argues that “the Council’s expanded
role is fraught with political minefields.”
Georgetown Report on DC Voucher Program
Rachel Pugh, email@example.com,
through Paul Basken, firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers at the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) at the
Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) have released the results of
the third qualitative examination of the Opportunity Scholarship Program
(OSP), the parental school choice program targeted at low-income
families living in the District of Columbia. The report, titled
“Satisfied, Optimistic, Yet Concerned: Parent Voices on the Third Year
of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program,” examines the experiences
of families who have been in the program since its inception three years
ago in 2004 and those who entered two years ago in 2005. Unlike prior
evaluations, this report sought not only a deeper understanding of
families’ evolving attitudes about and behaviors associated with
school choice, but also how they measure student success and how they
are most likely to express their satisfaction (or the lack thereof) to
policy-makers and other interested stake holders as the pilot program
A full press release is available online at http://explore.georgetown.edu/news/?ID=30078.
This year, DC got its own quarter and its postmark back, the DC
council considered installing electronic billboards outside the baseball
stadium and the Wilson building, and DC Vote held a tea party. While
these efforts bring our lack of voting representation to the attention
of the nation and give DC its due respect, they don’t have a
measurable impact on the daily lives of DC residents.
In 2008, I propose that the mayor, DC council, and our advocacy and
neighborhood organizations focus its efforts on an issue that would
bring us closer to true Home Rule: local ownership and control of the
District’s parks. Many people may not realize that most of the
District’s circle and square parks, as well as numerous scattered
“pocket” parks (grassy triangular areas formed at intersections) at
federally owned. What that means is that MPD does not patrol them
(responding only in cases of emergency), our DC government does not
maintain them, and DC residents and officials have little influence over
them. Instead, the parks (it is generous to call some of these areas
parks) fall under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service and US
Park Police, whose foremost concern is the National Mall and monuments.
US Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers was fired for admitting as much,
conceding that her agency lacked adequate resources to protect
neighborhood parks. No other city or state has such a crazy quilt of
I’ve proposed that the DC council, with the support of the mayor,
pass a sense of the council resolution supporting transfer of all local
parks to the District, and that Rep. Norton introduce legislation to
effectuate the transfer in 2008. Home Rule Over Our Parks. You can read
more about the issue, view a map, and download the proposal here: http://caryforcouncil.org/campaign/index.php?blog=9.
Nader, Weissman Urge Firing of Nickles
Barry Williams, email@example.com
[An open letter to Mayor Fenty from Ralph Nader and Robert Weissman]
We are writing to urge you to dismiss immediately Peter Nickles from his
position as Acting Attorney General and as general counsel. Mr. Nickles
contends in a recent Washington Post story that he provides you
and the District with vital, experience-based good judgment. But his
actions while serving in your administration belie this claim, and show
instead that he is unfit for the responsibility you have entrusted to
him — as well as that which he has aggregated for himself.
As general counsel, Mr. Nickles on several occasions engaged in
extracurricular activities beyond his job description -- and exceeding
his authority. Even more seriously, he blocked numerous ideas from your
Attorney General Linda Singer and her associates to initiate aggressive
litigation strategies to hold corporations accountable for harming
District residents and depriving the District government of tax
revenues. Perhaps Mr. Nickles’ experience as a career corporate
litigator with Covington & Burling actually interfered with his
“good judgment” in these cases; whatever the reason, he obstructed
Attorney General Singer from undertaking the innovative initiatives that
she was uniquely well equipped to bring forward. It is well understood
that Ms. Singer resigned as Attorney General because of Mr. Nickles’
regular interference with her ability to carry out her statutory duties.
Now, as acting attorney general, Mr. Nickles has dismissed Alan
Morrison, one of the most accomplished Supreme Court advocates of the
last quarter century. Mr. Nickles inappropriately disparaged Attorney
General Singer for her relative youth and lack of trial experience. What
rationale does he proffer for firing Mr. Morrison — other than that
Mr. Morrison served as counselor to Ms. Singer? In what conceivable way
is he aiding the District by firing Mr. Morrison in advance of a
crucially important gun control case that Mr. Morrison was to argue soon
before the Supreme Court?
“What you pay for in a good lawyer is judgment,” Mr. Nickles told
the Washington Post. You are not receiving good judgment. Your
tenure as mayor will continue to be undermined so long as Mr. Nickles
possesses such at-large power within the District government. Unless,
that is, Mr. Nickles only does what you tell him to do.
More Democracy: An Independent Attorney
Richard Layman, firstname.lastname@example.org
While I was away, the city’s Attorney General resigned, indicating
that the Mayor’s General Counsel was meddling and second guessing. See
“Singer Quits Post; Aides Cite Clashes With Fenty Counsel: Top Lawyer
Felt Sidelined, Some Say,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/17/AR2007121700730.html.
Most, if not all, states have elected an attorney general. DC has
pretensions of being a state, yet too often the executive and
legislative branches of government do not function at an equivalent
level (see “Residents Keep D.C. Vote Fight Brewing: Tea Party Protest
Evokes Famed Boston Revolt,” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/16/AR2007121601875.html).
In response to the resignation, Councilmember Mendelson has offered
legislation putting more strictures on how the executive (the mayor) can
deal with the Attorney General; see “Mendelson Moves to Redefine
Attorney General’s Role,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/19/AR2007121900871.html.
From the article: “Under the bill, applicants would need at least
seven years’ experience in the District; a vetting process for the
position would be required; the term would be six years; and there would
be protections against removal. These qualifications are similar to the
ones the council approved for the inspector general’s job in 2003.”
And the Washington Post editorialized some mumbo-jumbo on the
same topic, in "DC’s Attorney General: As Linda Singer departs,
the position’s independence must be preserved," http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/23/AR2007122302231.html.
In the US form of government, the people are sovereign. The law
belongs to the people. Therefore, make the Attorney General an elected
position, and the Attorney General would ultimately be responsible to
the citizens of the District of Columbia. (Elsewhere I have suggested
that this also be done at the federal level.) Such a proposal could go
on the ballot in the 2008 general election and, if passed, could become
operative with the 2010 primary and general elections.
First Person Singular
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com
Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools speaks: “When I
joined Teach for America, my parents were like: ‘What are you doing?
Get a real job.’ Traditional Korean American families don’t want
their children to go into education. They want you to be a doctor or a
lawyer or a hedge fund manager. It’s funny, when I came here for the
announcement of my nomination, I brought my kids and my parents. And we
got off the plane, and right on the newsstand there, The Washington
Post had done this huge article on the front page [essentially
asking], Can D.C. schools be fixed? My mother looked at it, and she was
like: ‘Holy crap! Are you going to be able to do this?’” <like
“. . . [M]y parents were like, . . .” “. . . [S]he was like, .
. .” And this continues throughout. This person runs DC education? And
speaks/writes this way? And allows herself to be quoted this way? Maybe
it’s a generational thing but I’d hope for a higher standard for
students, let alone the schools chancellor. A letter in the December 30 Post
made this same point: “Like, Where’s the Grammar?” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/29/AR2007122901406.html.
A Returnable Bottle and Can Bill for DC
Richard Layman, email@example.com
I was reading a blog on Bloomingdale (http://imgoph.blogspot.com)
that, among other things, focuses on the public spaces, particularly
litter. In an entry, one of the commenters made a point about the need
for a returnables law, and I responded (slightly edited): A bottle bill,
requiring recycling of beverage bottles, was attempted in 1988 through a
citizen initiative. The forces opposed to it made it into a racial issue
and recruited the black churches, among other stakeholders, in a
successful campaign to defeat the bill. The DC Environmental Network is
still interested in this, but it would still be a tough fight, given
that racial politics are still very extant and visible in the city.
But I realized after writing this to the Bloomingdale blog that,
legally, the DC city council could enact such a law without there having
to be a referendum. But, because the business agenda dominates the
council, it would be a struggle to get such a law passed.
While it is true that Congress has the ultimate authority to approve
DC laws, for the most part Congress doesn’t concern itself with our
local laws. Because DC doesn’t have to worry about state or county
enabling legislation, DC as a city has much more control over its laws
than almost any other municipal jurisdiction in the country. But often,
we do not utilize this capability.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
I have a proposal in the Intellectual Property exhibition at Meat
Market Gallery in Washington, DC. My submission, Global Warming,
proposes a visit to Meat Market under the effects of extreme weather.
The rear gallery has been destroyed and the front gallery is flooded.
Visitors view the exhibit on a little boat. The opening reception is
Friday, January 11, 6-8:30 p.m. The show runs through February 3. Hours:
Wednesday-Saturday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 12-3 p.m. Meat Market
Gallery, 1636 17th Street, NW. For more information, call 328-6328,
or go to http://www.meatmarketgallery.com.
Memorial Service for Hilda Mason, January 12
Joe Libertelli, firstname.lastname@example.org
A memorial service will be held for Hilda Mason at the 19th Street
Baptist Church on Saturday, January 12, at 10:00 a.m. Nineteenth Street
Baptist Church, 4606 16th Street, NW, 829-2773, email@example.com.
National Building Museum Events, January 13,
Jazmine Zick, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, January 13, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Flying in the Great Hall:
watch as the DC Maxecuters fly their model airplanes in and across the
Great Hall! Free drop-in demonstration program for all ages.
Wednesday, January 16, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Building for the 21st
Century: Sustainable Buildings Industry Council 2007 Awards. Richard
King, director of the US Department of Energy’s Photovoltaic R&D
Team within the Solar Energy Technologies Program presents the top three
winners of the 2007 Sustainable Buildings Industry Council Awards and
how they incorporate a holistic approach to their design and
construction projects. Free, no registration required.
Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW,
Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.
Voter Registration Deadline, January 14
Bill O’Field, email@example.com
The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics announces that
the voter registration deadline in the District for the February 12
Presidential Preference Primary Election is Monday, January 14. Citizens
who are not yet registered to vote can register at the Board’s office,
by a mail-in voter registration application, online at the Board’s web
site, or when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses at the
District of Columbia Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
The Board’s office is open during regular business hours Monday
through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. for citizens to complete a
voter registration application in person. The Board is located in Room
250-North of the One Judiciary Square building at 441 Fourth Street, NW.
The building is accessible and conveniently situated along Metro’s Red
Line at the Judiciary Square stop. Mail-in applications are available at
any District of Columbia public library, firehouse, and police station.
The applications must be postmarked no later than Monday, January 14, to
be valid for the February 12 Presidential Preference Primary Election.
The application form is also available online at the Board’s web
site at http://www.dcboee.org. Any
form completed online is considered pending until the Board of Elections
and Ethics has received the printed application signed by the voter. The
signed form must also be postmarked no later than January 14. Through
the Motor Voter Program, citizens may register to vote when they are
applying for or renewing a driver’s license at the District of
Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles. Registrants can easily complete a
voter registration form when applying for a driver’s license.
January 14 is also the deadline for citizens who are already
registered to update their address or party affiliation. Voters
registered as independents or with a minor party are not eligible to
vote in the February 12 Primary. Only voters registered with the
Democratic, Republican, and DC Statehood Green parties may vote in their
party’s primary. To register to vote in the District of Columbia, a
person must be a United States citizen, a District of Columbia resident
and at least eighteen years old by the next election. For more
information, the public may call 727-2525 (TDD: 639-8916) or visit the
Board’s web site at http://www.dcboee.org.
Upcoming Talk for Change Toastmasters Meeting,
Corey Jenkins Schaut, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join us this Wednesday, January 16, at 6:45 p.m., for our next
meeting of Talk for Change Toastmasters. We meet at the Teach for
America offices, located at 1413 K Street, NW, on the 7th floor. At Talk
for Change, we believe in the power of education. By following the
Toastmasters curriculum, we have an opportunity to continue to develop
and improve our leadership and speaking skills in a safe environment.
Many of us are former teachers and alumni of Teach for America. Many of
us are making a difference in our community through work in the
nonprofit sector. And many of us just value the opportunity to keep
learning. We welcome anyone to join our friendly, fun-loving group.
Are you curious what Talk for Change can do for you? We welcome you
to join us at an upcoming meeting to see what we are all about. We meet
on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. As your improved
communication skills become obvious within the workplace, increased
visibility, recognition and promotion will follow. Your improved
presentation skills will win you the respect and admiration of your
colleagues and employees — and make them wonder what you did to
change! Leadership skills acquired through participation in Toastmasters
will increase your management potential. You will acquire an increased
ability to motivate and persuade, making you more effective as a
supervisor or manager. You’ll have access to a wide range of
educational materials, including books, CDs, DVDs and seminar programs,
available at reduced cost through the Toastmasters International Supply
Catalog. We look forward to welcoming you as our newest member! If you
have questions, feel free to send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
The People’s Meeting, January 17
Kathryn A. Pearson-West, firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a ball of confusion with the twenty-three simultaneous
meetings on the DCPS school closure plan scheduled for January 17. Stop
the madness! Stop all of the closings of neighborhood schools. See the
boycott information below and please attend the People’s Meeting on
school closings, which may prove to be more productive. Show your
concern about public education and the process to ensure that it
improves with the advice and concern of the electorate. If you are
concerned about the closings of your neighborhood school and feel there
should be other options, you might want to attend:
Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Michelle Rhee have absurdly planned
twenty-three simultaneous meetings on one night. "This format is
disingenuous and it disenfranchises residents," said Councilman
Harry Thomas, Jr. Fenty and Rhee’s chaotic meeting format may also be
illegal. Be empowered and attend the People’s Meeting, Thursday,
January 17, 6:00 p.m., John A. Wilson District Building, 1350
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. This meeting is sponsored by the Coalition To
Save Our Neighborhood Schools and Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. We
demand respect and will settle for nothing less!
Synthetic Biology Luncheon Roundtable, January
Chris Weiss, email@example.com
Friends of the Earth and the DC Environmental Network will be hosting
a luncheon roundtable discussion about governance options for the
rapidly developing field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is the
combination of biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology,
artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies in order to
create life anew. Washington, DC, is at the heart of this developing
field, with large companies and universities pursuing this research in
our own backyard. While synthetic biology may be exciting, it is also
potentially very dangerous since it aims to re-engineer life from
scratch. It is important that the local Washington, DC, community
participate in developing policy for this emerging technology since the
local environment, economy, and academic institutions are at stake.
The event takes place at noon on Thursday, January 17, at Friends of
the Earth, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 600. Please RSVP to
Gillian Madill at firstname.lastname@example.org
Academic Debate Tournament for Teenagers,
Anthony Burley, email@example.com
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Psi Chapter and the Delta Sigma
Theta Sorority, Inc., Mu Beta Chapter, are proud to host the Washington,
DC, metropolitan area public debate tournament for teenagers on
Saturday, January 19. If you know any teenagers who would like to
participate as debaters, please have them complete the entry form.
The topic of the debate is: Resolved: In a democracy, civil
disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice. There
will be one open division of unlimited teams. Teams may consist of one
to three students. Also, teams are not required to represent a school
but all teams must have an adult sponsor. Time limits will be:
affirmative constructive speeches, six minutes; negative constructive
speeches, six minutes; and rebuttal speeches, five minutes. Teams are
not required to have a plan of action, therefore enabling any team
without a plan of action to focus primarily on the advantages and
disadvantages of the stated resolution.
Entry forms can be obtain from, and should be E-mailed back to,
Anthony Burley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for registration is January 18. The winning team will receive
$200.00, the second place team will receive $150.00, the third place
team will receive $70.00, and the fourth place team will receive $50.00.
Top speaker awards: first place, $100.00; second place, $75.00; third
place, $50.00; fourth place, $25.00. Top coach award: $100.00. Schedule
(subject to change): 8:30 a.m.-8:50 a.m., registration; 9:00 a.m.-9:55
a.m., first round; 10:00 a.m.-10:55 p.m., second round; 11 :00
a.m.-11:55 p.m., third round; 12:00 p.m.-12:30 p.m., lunch; 12:45
p.m.-1:40 p.m., fourth round; 1:45 p.m.-2:40 p.m., fifth round; 3:00
p.m.-3:30 p.m., awards and closing. Location, The George Washington
University, The Marvin Center, 800 21st Street, NW.
Democratic Party Delegate Selection Caucus,
David Meadows, email@example.com
Inviting all registered DC Democrats to participate in the DC
Democratic Party 2008 pre primary delegate selection caucus, Saturday,
January 19, 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., McKinley Technical High School,
151 T Street, NE. Come and elect a delegate to represent your
presidential candidate at the National Democratic Convention in Denver
this summer. Shuttle bus service available at the New York Avenue,
Florida Avenue, Gallaudet University Metro Station from 10:00 a.m. until
For more information contact the DC Democratic Party, 1341 G Street,
NW, 347-7260, http://www.DCDSC.org.
Community Meeting for the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw
Neighborhood Library, January 30
Archie Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
The DC Public Library is hosting a third Community Meeting to work
with the community in designing and constructing the Watha T.
Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library. The firm of Brody, Davis, Bond, Aedas
has been retained as the architects for the momentous task of designing
this library and is presenting their preliminary concepts to the
The Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library community meeting will
be held Wednesday, January 30, at 6:30 p.m., at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw
Interim Library, 945 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. Please join DCPL staff and
the firm of Brody, Davis, Bond, Aedas to discuss the design of these
neighborhood libraries. Please feel free to contact Archie D. Williams
from DCPL (email@example.com)
if you have any questions regarding these events.
Ellington Theater Delight, February 7-15
Susan Ousley, ess ell ousley at ay oh ell dot com
Enjoy Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ aspiring artists and
accomplished professionals performing the The Wiz. A delightful
experience for all ages, at Ellington Theater, 3500 R Street, NW.
February 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, February 9, at
For tickets, call the Ellington Box Office at 337-4825 or go to http://www.ellingtonschool.org.
Tickets are $20; $15 for twelve years and under.
DC Democratic Party Primary, February 12
Jeff Norman, firstname.lastname@example.org
The DC Democratic Party urges all registered Democrats in DC to vote
in the DC Democratic Presidential Preference Primary on February 12. DC
will be voting on the same day as Maryland and Virginia in what has been
called "the Chesapeake primary." The primary vote will take
place at your regular precinct polling locations.
The Democratic Party has a system of proportional representation. The
percentage of the vote that each presidential candidate gets in the DC
primary determines how many of those thirteen delegates he or she will
be sending to the Democratic National Convention representing DC. All
registered Democrats are urged to vote in both the primary.
CLASSIFIEDS — FREE
Free Home Radon Testing Kits
Robin Graham, email@example.com
January is National Radon Action Month (NRAM), and the District
Department of the Environment (DDOE) is taking action. DDOE is offering
free home radon test kits and conducting radon community workshops by
request. Radon can not be seen, smelled, nor tasted. Radon is a
pollutant that comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium
in soil, rock, and water and can enter the indoor air we breathe. Radon
has been found in homes all over the United States, including the
District of Columbia. Radon has been reported as the second leading
cause of lung cancer in the US; it causes about 15,000 deaths a year. If
a home is contaminated with radon, levels usually register high during
cold months when windows and doors are closed.
DDOE is encouraging DC residents to test their homes now because
dangerous levels could unsuspectingly exist. DDOE’s goal is to inform
one hundred percent of DC residents about radon and its associated
health risks. To get a free Home Radon Test Kit or request a workshop,
DC residents should call the DDOE Radon Hotline at 535-2302 or visit the
DDOE web site at http://ddoe.dc.gov.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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