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February 24, 2008


Dear Competent Correspondents:

I tell you, it’s delicious. On the first page of the Washington Post today, Daniel LeDuc writes, “With Washington’s new ballpark a little more than a month from its scheduled completion, the project has failed to meet the majority of hiring goals meant to provide construction jobs to city residents, and the District has not sanctioned any contractor for falling short” ( Is the Post the only entity to be surprised by this? Everybody else knew long ago that the promise of stadium jobs was as specious as the cap on stadium costs, and everybody else knows that the same empty promises, with no intention of ever fulfilling them, will be made about the upcoming soccer stadium giveaway (Clark Construction, which has the ballpark contract, has also been named as the Poplar Point developer), and the football stadium giveaway, and the volleyball stadium giveaway, and the curling stadium giveaway, and whatever other schemes sports promoters can dream up. Jobs a-plenty; tax revenues a-plenty; development opportunities a-plenty; and just a small, minimal, tiny really, contribution from the city — that will be the story from the mayor and the majority of the councilmembers, from the Post and the Federal City Council and the Greater Washington Board of Trade, from all the usual suspects.

On the front page of the Metro section of the Post, Marc Fisher covers another Child and Family Services Agency horror story, one that is the opposite of the Jacks family story ( Here, in the Caplan family case, instead of CFSA’s not following up a tip, it overreacted and took two twin infants away from their parents because one of the girls bumped her head. It continued to press child abuse allegations against the Caplans even after the police investigator, five examining physicians, and a DC Magistrate found no evidence, no grounds, no basis for abuse allegations. Fisher quotes CFSA Director Sharlynn Bobo as justifying CFSA’s continuing actions against the Caplans because, “This family is privileged and able to marshal significant resources to accomplish its goals and fight the allegations.” He quotes Acting District Attorney Peter Nickles as admitting that, “It may very well be that the weight of the evidence supports the Caplans’ position,” but nevertheless applauding CFSA’s decision to try to deprive them of the custody of their children. The only person within the city government who seems to understand what’s wrong with CFSA’s actions in this case is CFSA’s Deputy Director Roque Gerard, who wrote, “In our attempt to protect, we have also lost the ability of balance for fear of retribution.” Gerard will undoubtedly suffer for his honesty; honesty is something DC government does not tolerate easily.

In Fisher’s account, the only person aside from Gerard who has a balanced viewpoint on the case is the victimized father, Greg Caplan. Fisher writes: “The Caplans reject the idea that the city is only doing its job well by being on hair-trigger alert. ‘Do you believe innocent families have to get caught up in this?’ Greg asks. ‘This is a false choice. What has to happen is not overreaction, but competence.’”

Gary Imhoff


Judge Tells District to Settle Benning Library Case
Robin Diener,

Last Friday, Superior Court Judge Judith E. Retchin ordered the District government to “provide language for relief” in settlement of the final count of the suit over the future of the Benning Library. Judge Retchin’s order will, in effect, require the government to address community concerns about the size and services of the new library, the rumored sale of the library land for redevelopment, and the apparent loss of an important collection of African-American literature. The plaintiffs have also asked for assurance that there will be adequate space for literacy programming, computer labs, and community meetings in the new Benning library as recommended by the Blue Ribbon Task Force Report on Libraries.

Plaintiffs are also seeking a response “in particularity” to issues raised by the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) including a financial impact report on the razing and rebuilding of the library versus renovation and expansion, consideration of adding a second floor, and delineation of a citywide plan for community involvement in the proposed transformation of the DC Public Library (DCPL) system. Archie D. Williams, Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist for DCPL, participated in the meeting where he said he believed DCPL would develop a “model” process for community inclusion.

ANC 7D plans to sponsor a forum for DCPL and other officials to address the public’s questions. This was the fourth hearing in the Benning library matter. Judge Retchin retained jurisdiction, pending an equitable settlement.


Invitation to Councilmembers Alexander and Brown to Debate the Noise Bill
Joseph Fengler,

We are disappointed with Councilmembers Alexander’s and Brown’s votes to table the Noise Control Protection Amendment Act of 2007. By tabling the bill, Alexander and Brown voted to deny any discussion of the bill. It is hard to understand why Alexander voted to table the bill, given her publicly stated support at the January 5 Hillcrest Community Civic Association meeting.. At that meeting, she told approximately one hundred Ward 7 residents that she would support this bill. More perplexing is Brown’s support of Evan’s motion to table, as he was a cosponsor of the bill. Brown has participated in many Capitol Hill community meetings over the last few months as part of his reelection campaign. At no time did he indicate to the residents that he was anything less than one hundred percent behind the bill.

Yesterday, Alexander and Brown failed to support the residents of Ward 6 and Ward 7. After the vote, Alexander and Brown both mentioned they still supported the bill, but that it needs to be “worked out” before it comes to the council again. I am personally prepared to debate the merits of this bill with Alexander and Brown in a public forum over the next three weeks. I would welcome that opportunity. We have worked over two years to develop this bill to balance the concerns of all parties. Perhaps a public debate will provide the opportunity for Alexander and Brown to highlight what changes are needed to garner their support. Our goal is to get this bill back in front of the council in early March in order to protect the residents from unrestricted levels of noise in their homes. Every resident should have the right to peace and quiet within the confines of their own home. By voting with Evans, Alexander and Brown appear not have that same goal.

As a reference guide to understand how unrestricted, amplified speech impacts a residential community, please see the comprehensive review published in the Washington Post, “Sounding Out Solutions for Noise Pollution,”


BOEE Revisited
Dorothy Brizill,

On Friday, February 15, Carol Schwartz’s Committee on Government Operations held a public oversight roundtable to discuss “problems that arose” during the District’s presidential primary on February 12. During the hearing, Alice Miller, the Executive Director of the District’s Board of Elections and Ethics, gave testimony in which she repeatedly praised the Board and its staff for what she called “a successful election” in which “voters were never at a disadvantage in the ability to vote.” However, during the hearing, there was evidence presented that: 1) many polls ran out of paper ballots, some on more than one occasion, and there was a delay in resupplying the precincts; 2) the ballots were, as in recent election, poorly designed so that the perforated tab at the top of the ballot, if not removed, jammed the vote-counting machines; 3) the privacy sleeves or envelopes were again too small for the ballots; 4) many voting machines, both the optical scan and touch-screen machines, malfunctioned at several precincts; 5) there was a shortage of poll workers; 6) three days after the election the Board had still not counted all ballots that were cast on election day (out of ten thousand special ballots that were cast on February 12, only 618 had been counted by the hearing on February 15); and 7) after the polls closed, the vote-counting cartridges from all several precincts were not delivered in a timely fashion.

In the aftermath of the election, many individuals, both voters and poll workers, have contacted the city council with accounts of problems they witnessed during the presidential primary. Dan Seligson wrote a detailed account of his experience as a poll worker in Mt. Pleasant in the February 14 edition of Electionline Weekly, entitled “A Ballot-less Nightmare in the District” ( He recounts how his “precinct descended into chaos.” The next week’s issue of Electionline Weekly, on February 21 (, reported that the Board of Elections its appreciation for his bringing these problems to its attention by telephoning Seligson on the same day his article appeared, and telling him that in the future he could no longer work as a poll worker in the District. Since pollworker positions are paid, Mr. Seligson is covered by the District’s whistleblower law.

Last week, the Fenty administration nominated Errol Arthur to fill the vacancy as the third member of the Board of Elections ( Mr. Arthur is a recent graduate of Howard University Law School and a resident of Ward 4. He is a sole practitioner with offices in a townhouse at 14th Street and Spring Road, NW. He first registered to vote in the District in 2000, and first voted in 2002. Little is known about why he was selected for this important position. His confirmation hearing has been scheduled for March 14 at 9:30 a.m. His wife, Sherri M. Beatty-Arthur, has been nominated to serve as a member of the board of the Office of Employee Appeals.


We Are Very Evil People
Jonathan R. Rees,

As one of the owners of the Corrupt Ones 2008 Blog with a readership now of over 64,000 people daily in DC and over 200,000 in the Metro region, we have recently learned about censorship by the Fenty Administration. Some employees of the government of the District of Columbia have informed us that they have received E-mail notices forbidding them from reading our blog because our blog is perceived as being negative in its nature and its coverage of elected officials, and fails to allow the other side to tell their side of the story. As of February 21, our blog will be blocked so employees of the government of the District of Columbia cannot access or read what might be said. As such, it appears that the DC Office of Technology is monitoring and censoring all E-mails received by employees of the government of the District of Columbia before they are relayed and allowed to be seen.

What does this say about Mayor Adrian Fenty? It would suggest that he had crossed over into being a little Hitler who will not allow anyone to disagree with him let alone allow that disagreement to reach the ears and eyes of his servants. Does this sound like Fenty believes in democracy? Every blog or message board has always allowed Fenty and his henchmen to submit their position on the issues that they might be criticized on, but they to my knowledge have never done so. What are Fenty and his henchmen afraid of?

[As always, I’d welcome any confirmation or contradiction of this charge. If you are a government employee, can you access Rees’ blog from your government office computer? If you got the E-mail that Rees describes, can you forward it to Thanks. — Gary Imhoff]


A Mini-Survey
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

Since the fifth of January, this year, I’ve been on the road thirty-one days, traveling on four different airlines and coming back to two DC area airports. On each trip, I checked a rolling duffle bag and on one trip a pair of skis as well. When I landed at Dulles, I waited an average of forty-five minutes until the bags started coming onto the luggage carousel. For the two trips ending at National Airport, the bags were already coming onto the baggage carousel when I reached the baggage area (about five minutes walking from the landing gate). My conclusion from this mini-survey is that the baggage system, and or baggage handlers, at National, are much better than those at Dulles.


Fifteen Million for Lincoln’s Cottage; Homeless Veterans Out in the Cold
Ralph Blessing,

[Re: Faye Pinkney, themail, February 20] Competing priorities aside, I find it hard to believe that a relatively small house like the Lincoln summer home would require such an enormous sum to restore. I wonder how many new homes of comparable size could be built with $15 million.


Tours of the DC Recorder of Deeds Building
Paul Williams,

It’s really ironic that this year represents the eighth year anniversary of tours of the DC Recorder of Deeds building at 515 D Street, NW, highlighting the 1942 era murals inherent in the interior of the building built the same year. I would like to offer my own virtual tour of the critical third floor “square and lot” room to highlight the horrible condition of the actual records the building was built to hold. I’m sure it won’t be on the heritage tour again this year. When I research there often amongst dozens of title insurance company employees, we all laugh, joke, and seriously ponder how anyone buying property in the District has a clear title to any parcel in the city of Washington.

I would love to show the heritage tour participants the broken electronic lektrievers (70’s era auto file cabinets) whose contents have been spread over a two-room area in no apparent order for more than six years now, the vacant check-in and security desk, priceless vintage Sanborn maps strewn about, no personnel in sight for hours, deed recordation only summarized on index cards (easily removed and frequently stolen and missing), an average temperature year round of 90 degrees, open windows, and no fire protection. All the summaries held in this building are the only ones known to exist. Individual property deed summaries from the years 1925 to 1935 will be missing entirely . . . they are across the hall in unmarked and unknown file cabinets obtained from a private company. Fifteen years ago, in fact, I had alerted a Washington Post reporter to follow me to the earlier records (pre-1875) kept on the fourth floor, in a shamble and pile of open, handwritten ledger books dating from the 1790’s on the floor, under open windows year round, covered with snow in the winter. They are now gone, our bluff being discovered before the story ran, sent off to an unknown dump.

Other researchers and I were led to believe that some “DC Archive Task Force” was looking at this current situation and other reported violations of critical citizen records, beginning years ago. It is now very obvious that the task force members never actually use the records they were tasked to investigate. Why is it that researchers and title examiners can retrieve fully digitized deed records in Montgomery County that reflect 100 years or more of land transactions (and in most of the nation in fact), when DC residents are once again left with our records literally left open to criminal and environmental elements?


Taxicab Issue
Richard Layman,

I too am a transplant, here but for twenty years. And I was fine with the present zone system, and foisting off Congressional intervention in local affairs. But here’s the thing. Judging by my own experience, I bet just about every cab user has at least one (if not many) bad experience arguing with a cabbie about a fare. Even one instance of that is one too many. There is no question that a traditional taxi metering system will eliminate all arguing and disputes. Maybe it won’t eliminate grousing.

However, it’s true that the “zone meter” system would have worked the same way. And that shows the real problem is the lack of transparent metering, not necessarily a zone method of charging versus charging by the time-and-distance method.


Taxicab Gas Surcharge
Erik S. Gaull,

Here, here! I couldn’t agree more with Jim Champagne (themail, February 20). An extra dollar? Per fare? Cabbies must be praying that the gas prices never go down. Based on this gas surcharge concept, perhaps my newspaper should cost an extra quarter because the newspaper delivery guy faces a higher cost of gas, and the salad bar at the luncheonette near my office should be an extra fifteen cents per pound so the owners can offset the cost of gas as well. Come to think of it, I’m marching into my boss as soon as I finish this E-mail and inform him that I’ve added a gas surcharge of $5,000 per year to my salary to compensate me for my higher commuting costs.

I sincerely hope that when we go over to the meter system that the cost of doing business is figured into the metered cost.



Homefront: WWII in Washington, February 26
Jerry A. McCoy,

The Washingtoniana Division of the DC Public Library presents a free screening of the WETA broadcast of Homefront: WWII in Washington on Tuesday, February 26, at 6:30 p.m. in the Washingtoniana Division, Room 307, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW.

Following the screening, WETA producers and directors will take questions from the audience and share the ups and downs of making the film, which was aired in December 2007 on Channel 26, WETA.


US-Iran Policy Discussion, February 27
Julie Drizin,

What should the next President do about Iran? What do you need to know about US-Iran policy? Join NPR host and Shepherd Park resident Michel Martin for an in-depth discussion, Wednesday, February 27 at 7:15 p.m. at the Washington Ethical Society (7750 16th Street, NW). Hear from progressive peace activist Carol Waser and conservative foreign policy scholar Michael Ledeen and join the conversation.

$15/ $12 for students and seniors. Refreshments provided by Taste of Jerusalem.

It’s Spark: The ThinkingOutLoudSpeaker Series at WES. Open your mind before you make it up. Michel Martin is the host of NPR’s Tell Me More, heard weekdays at 2 p.m. on WAMU. All are welcome. For more information, go to


Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene, February 27
Corey Jennings,

Landmark’s E Street Cinema will host an exclusive VIP premiere of Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene on February 27 at 7:00 p.m. The documentary tells the real story of Petey Greene, America’s original shock-jock. The perfect documentary companion to Talk To Me, Adjust Your Color is narrated by Don Cheadle and contains rare archival footage as well as exclusive interviews of Chuck Brown, James Brown, “Sugar Ray” Leonard, Dewey Hughes, Marion Barry, and others that help tell the real story of Petey Greene. Tickets for the screening are $15 for general admission and $25 for VIP reserved seating. Tickets can be purchased at Landmark’s E Street Cinema (11th and E Streets, NW) or at Proceeds will benefit Next Generation Awareness Foundation’s upcoming children’s film festival in the Washington, DC area.


What Makes Great Streets, February 28
Jazmine Zick,

Thursday, February 28, 6:30-8:00 p.m., DC Builds: What Makes Great Streets? Panelists Petronella Muraya, professor of geography, Howard University; Darrel Rippeteau, Rippeteau Architects PC; Emeka C. Moneme, director, District Department of Transportation; and Joe Englert, DC nightclub impresario, discuss the essential components necessary to create vibrant, livable streets in Washington, DC. $12 members; $12 students; $20 public. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


UDC Law Review Hosts Katrina Symposium, February 29
Wayne Turner,

On Friday, February 29, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law will host a symposium titled Katrina’s Wake: Emergency Preparedness and Response from the Bayou to the Beltway. The Symposium will feature leading scholars, advocates, and public officials who will examine the parallel racial and economic disparities in New Orleans and the District of Columbia. Topic areas include the administration of justice, addressing the needs of vulnerable populations, and accountability in disaster planning and relief spending.

The symposium will be held in Building 38, Second Floor Windows Lounge, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Red Line Metro at Van Ness Station. The event is open to the public and is wheelchair accessible. The full schedule is available at RSVP is recommended by contacting Wayne Turner, Symposium Editor, UDC-DCSL Law Review, 274-7362 E-mail:


UDC Auction, April 1
Joe Libertelli,

Please join us on April 1 for our annual Joe Rauh Equal Justice Works Chapter, Summer Public Interest Fellowship Auction! (And it’s not too late to donate an item; just E-mail to or contact auction chair Karen Hainer at Proceeds support our students in summer public interest fellowships at a wide variety of public interest, judicial and government placements.

Thus, your donations do quadruple duty. When you support the auction, you help the School of Law provide $3,000 stipends to students for ten weeks of service, broaden our student’s legal education and help provide them with terrific career contacts, assist a wide variety of public interest, governmental and judicial offices, and support the clients and causes these entities exist to serve! The auction itself is a fun-filled occasion attended by elected officials, School of Law and University board members, faculty, students, alumni, and members of the community. This year’s EJW Auction will take place at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, right atop the Red Line Van Ness/UDC Station. Park under the campus off Van Ness Street.

Please consider helping us towards our goal by joining Busboys & Poets, The Tabard Inn, Verizon, Amtrak, Wilmer Hale, Williams Connolly, Steptoe & Johnson, and many other companies, firms, foundations and friends that have established a tradition of support for the District of Columbia’s public law school. We will publicize your organization or company’s support on our web site, in our Advocate which is mailed to more than six thousand leaders of the bench and bar in the District of Columbia, and in other publications throughout the year. So far, our fabulous items include meals at fine restaurants including Busboys and Poets, the Tabard Inn and many more; fabulous Rehoboth beach house from August 30 to September 6; two round trip speedy Acela train tickets from DC to NYC and weekend stay in nice Upper East Side NYC apartment for four adults; two seats at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights May 14 dinner; long weekend at a lovely beach house; two symphony tickets; dinner for eight cooked and served by Lane Green and Ed Bruske (you choose the menu, purchase the food); lots of baseball tickets (at least four different games); two seats at the Alliance for Justice luncheon in the end of April; shadow LCCR’s Wade Henderson for a day; shadow king of torts Jack Olender for a day; shadow “best job in the world” holder, Dean Shelley Broderick, for a day; use, but don’t abuse, Prof. Tom Mack’s cabin on the Shenandoah River in Luray, which sleeps six or more; wine tasting dinner for six (with guest appearance by Dean Broderick); and lunch with VA Association of Trial Lawyers officer.


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