Bar the Door
We’re seeing some furious backpedaling on the “Home Safe”
invasion program proposed by Mayor Fenty and Metropolitan Police
Department Chief Lanier (themail, March 26). Fenty has not had any
additional comments on the program, but Chief Lanier has had to throw
herself on her sword and take the full blame for it — the Washington
Times even titled its article on the backpedaling, “Lanier Blames
Self in Initiative” (http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080403/METRO/585337660).
Chief Lanier now claims that she never intended the “Home Safe”
program to be what the mayor and she announced that it would be, and she
portrays the problem with the program as simply a public relations
mistake: “We should have announced this with a lot more information. .
. . I take full responsibility for not announcing this with more
information.” People misunderstood what would happen, she now claims.
The police won’t knock on doors and ask for permission to search
homes, as she and the mayor said they would. Instead, they will, the Times
wrote, “distribute search-consent forms but not ask to search homes.”
Home searches will be “offered by appointment only at residents’
request,” wrote the Associated Press (http://tinyurl.com/5g4owf),
in an article published locally in the Examiner.
Lanier is making distinctions without a difference. The police will
distribute search-consent forms, but they won’t ask to search homes?
Then what will they do? Hand the forms to people while saying, “please
don’t fill this out”? It’s certainly a little bit better than the
initial proposal, in that the police may not be appearing at homes
asking to be let in immediately to do searches. But giving people a
little time to think it over, instead of seeking immediate entry, does
not solve the basic problem with the program. If the mayor and the chief
believe that it does, that shows they still don’t understand what’s
fundamentally wrong with the “Home Safe” searches.
We live in a country in which the people secured for themselves, in
the revolution that founded the country, the right to be safe and secure
in their homes, free from the invasive gaze of government officials and
legal authorities. People won for themselves, and guaranteed to their
descendants, the right to privacy within their own dwellings, the right
to bar the door even to those who would misuse their governmental power
to demand entry. Some members of the city council and press who
originally raised doubts about this program seem to have been reassured
by Chief Lanier’s slight modifications to it. They shouldn’t be. A
little coating of public relations sugar isn’t enough to make this
poisonous medicine go down.
Councilmember Phil Mendelson’s Committee on Public Safety and the
Judiciary will hold a public oversight roundtable on the MPD’s “Safe
Homes” initiative tomorrow, Monday, April 7, at 5:00 p.m., in the
Council Chambers, Room 500 of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania
Avenue, NW. If you have anything to say about the initiative, this will
be your chance.
Great Open House
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
The Nationals Ballpark was opened yesterday (Saturday, April 5)
beginning at noon, as an Open House Day. I’m not sure how this was
publicized, but those who are on the E-mail listing and/or had season
tickets (Including partial season tickets) got an invitation via E-mail.
It was certainly worth the visit. The whole stadium was up for visiting,
including the executive suites and first class clubs. Food concessions
were open on the main level and we enjoyed a Ben’s Chili Bowl half
smoke for lunch. We managed to tour the entire park (except the
clubhouse, which was not open to visitors) from the nosebleed section to
the box seats behind home plate. It seemed, at 12:30, that there were
fewer than a couple thousand folks there. Many may have come later, as
the sun came out with warm weather.
What’s the Republican Budget?
Mitch Wander, firstname.lastname@example.org
As a voter who is very interested in and willing to consider
solutions from either political party, I’m not sure what to make of
the posting “Mayor Fenty Forgets His Promise Not to Raise Taxes” by
Paul Craney of the DC Republican Committee (themail, April 2).
Lobbing criticism at our elected leadership is easy.
I’d like to hear Paul Craney’s specific, constructive suggestions
for balancing the budget that we, as residents, can compare to Mayor
Defender of Privilege?
Sue Hemberger, Friendship Heights, email@example.com
Janney Elementary School currently ranks in the bottom third (68th
out of 100) of DCPS elementary schools when you look at land per pupil.
This is before DCPS implements its plan to increase the capacity of the
school by seventy-five students more than are currently enrolled. Under
these circumstances, arguing that none of the school’s land should be
sacrificed to build an apartment or condo building on campus hardly
strikes me as “an intricate defense of privilege in Tenley,” as Bill
Coe suggests (themail, April 2). It’s a straightforward claim that
public facilities needs, as defined by DCPS itself, should be met before
public land is devoted to private use. And that’s a claim I’m happy
to make (have made, in fact, in lobbying for reform of Title 10)
What’s at stake in Tenleytown is whether the Fenty administration
will put kids or developers first when it makes decisions about the use
of public land. None of the three submissions received in response to
the RFP for this site provided the playground or multipurpose PE playing
field space mandated under DCPS’s own educational specifications for
an elementary school of this size. Such exterior facilities are every
bit as important to elementary school education as interior facilities,
and they are especially important/precious/scarce in urban environments.
So what will it be? Will developers get first crack at this site,
with school facilities provided on whatever land is left over after a
residential building is constructed? Or will Janney’s students get the
facilities that DCPS says they need and are entitled to? And why on
earth should the city’s most overcrowded elementary school be asked to
sacrifice a chunk of its campus to housing in order to get its
facilities needs met in the first place? This is a problem inherited
from the previous administration, when the facilities modernization
queue didn’t pay much attention to issues of overcrowding, but it’s
one that the Fenty administration has not only a chance but also an
obligation to remedy as school closures and takeovers increase
enrollment pressures on remaining high-performing DCPS school like
Murch Blue Ribbon School Ceremony
Martha Saccocio, firstname.lastname@example.org
I feel I must respond to Jonathan Rees’ posting [themail, April 2]
about the recent ceremony at Murch celebrating the school’s Blue
Ribbon Award. As a parent of three children who attend Murch, I have a
different interpretation of Mayor Fenty’s and Chancellor Rhee’s
attendance at this fun, school-wide event. This was a pep rally for the
five hundred children who attend Murch. Having their mayor and other
public officials come to their school to congratulate them on their
achievement was a huge morale boost for these hardworking kids. All
three of my children came home beaming about the event and about their
school. They were proud and honored to host the mayor and others. It
sent a strong message to these kids that they matter. The halls of Murch
might not be the shiniest, fanciest digs in town, but it is a community
that takes pride in what it has achieved. Go Mustangs!
Since I seem always to be on Gary Imhoff’s case about this or that
opinion of his, let me speak now in praise of his views on two matters,
the so-called Home Safe Program, and that silly motto invented to
promote tourism in DC. Home Safe is an example of government
perniciously at work for the benefit of us citizens. The program’s
good intentions are a nice addition to the pavement on that legendary
road to hell. It’s an excellent example of the bad bargain struck when
free people trade away their privacy and personal independence for the
promise of more safety or security. I’m not as worried about its
effects as perhaps I should be, only because Home Safe probably will —
when tested in court — be found unconstitutional. In my view, an
unwarranted police search is not made more reasonable by leading it with
a smile, nor does the absence of a battering ram constitute due process.
On the other hand, since Washington is not one of the “several States,”
maybe the courts will allow Home Safe to stand here (and here only),
much as they might permit the continued enforcement of our highly
dubious gun-control laws. If this occurs, our status as high-end
colonists will, yet again, be affirmed.
I don’t know who came up with “Create Your Own Power Trip.” The
slogan strikes me as dumb at best , and at worst, a shameless appeal to
the very qualities of this capital city which folks in the heartland
love to hate. Then again, what do I know about the sensibilities of
those who twice saw fit to elect our current administration? Maybe they’ll
be charmed by the suggestion that a trip to Washington reflects their
individual power. Good luck to them, when they try to reconcile this
notion with the need for an answer to that polite policeman standing,
without a warrant, at their door.
Create Your Own Power Trip
Qawi Robinson, email@example.com
Awww c’mon. I know you can think of some one liners and satire for
that slogan [themail, April 2). Even WMATA wouldn’t use something like
that. Come to think of it, are you sure that “create your own power
trip” wasn’t Fenty’s 2006 election slogan or campaign promise? If
that new slogan isn’t a sign of the times for 2008 in the Fenty
Administration, I don’t know what is. For example: Nickels and the
ousting of the Attorney General; DCPS’ new Rhee-ality with the closing
of schools and firing of workers; Lanier’s Big Sister search and
seizure; Nakamura’s scheduled and calculated leaks of information;
abolishing the Taxicab Zones for the sake of making Congressional
staffers happy; and now the implied installation of taxicab meters for
Making matters worse, when I went to Destination DC’s web site, http://tinyurl.com/64dd7l,
I read such language as “‘Create your own power trip is our new call
to action. It literally and figuratively takes the power of the city and
puts it into the hands of the traveler,’ said Fenty. ‘DC may be seen
as a government town, but tourism is our industry. The city has invested
billions of dollars in new museums, restaurants, neighborhood
development and a baseball stadium in the past few years. By working
strategically to promote our city, we can introduce travelers to the
energy that’s created here and generate more economic development for
DC.’ Fifteen million visitors spend more than $5.2 billion in the
District each year, generating more than $560 billion in tax dollars.”
Invested billions, yet DCPS is overrun in its budget, and other agencies
like CFSA and DCPL are working at a deficit. Even the neighborhood
development is a joke, as it is not intended to keep the tried-and-true
residents, a.k.a. the real taxpayers, here. As a lifelong District
resident, I like the diversity of the tourism industry, but slowly but
surely DC is becoming simply a destination. Not a place to live, but a
tourist attraction for transient folks. And we can thank the tourism
industry for that. No Gary, you were right for not finding satire in
this. To find humor would be devastating.
Does the Mayor Need $2 Million to Create His
Own Power Trip?
Paul D. Craney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Adrian Fenty announced the city will unleash its latest
marketing campaign, a two million dollar branding effort with the theme,
“Create Your Own Power Trip,” run by Destination DC, 75 percent of
whose funding comes from the Hotel Occupancy Tax. The ads include one
with Mayor Adrian Fenty jogging in Rock Creek Park.
“Before the ink could dry in Mayor Fenty’s FY2009 budget which
includes $100 million in new taxes and fees, the Mayor wants to use tax
dollars to show the world just how fit he is. What really needs to be
trimmed back is the financial burden he is placing on DC residents with
new taxes and fees,” stated DC Republican Committee Chair Robert J.
I Kinda Liked the Slogan (Duck!)
Star Lawrence, email@example.com
I name products and write tag lines for a living, and someone called
me with this one and said, “You will gag.” I didn’t.
Aren’t we sick yet of Capital Choice and tired puns like that? I
used to like Visit Your Money (kidding). Oh, well, I hope the consulting
company keeps the money. But that’s just me.
Peter Luger, lugerpj at yahoo dot com
“Create your own power trip” is funny and clever. It makes fun of
DC’s political and power obsession, but isn’t a turn off. You’ve
got plenty to criticize DC for, but don’t criticize for the sake of
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Special Education Report Release, April 8
Jeff Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
DC Voice and The Children’s Law Center will release a report on
special education on Tuesday, April 8, at 9:30 a.m., on the steps of DC’s
City Hall, the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. DC VOICE
will reveal its findings from the 2007 Ready Schools Project Community
Audit about the state of Special Education in DC Public Schools.
Representatives will outline specific recommendations for Mayor Fenty
and Chancellor Rhee to better serve 11,000 District students with
special needs, immediately preceding the city council’s budget hearing
for DC Public Schools.
An overarching tenet of DC VOICE is that everyone in the community is
needed to raise academic achievement. Consequently, the DC VOICE mission
is to inform and mobilize the public to hold both the schools and the
community accountable for providing high quality teaching and learning
Smithsonian Craft Show, April 9-13
Jazmine Zick, email@example.com
Come to the National Building Museum to discover delightful,
one-of-a-kind and limited edition craft objects in twelve different
media: basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry,
leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art and wood. Preview night
is Wednesday, April 9, 6:30-9:30 p.m., and the show will be open
Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.;
and Sunday, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. For ticket prices and more information,
call the Smithsonian Craft Show Office at 888-832-9554 or visit http://www.smithsoniancraftshow.org.
Cleveland Park Citizens Association, April 10
George Idelson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The role of the National Mall in DC’s new “Center City Plan” is
the subject of the next meeting of the Cleveland Park Citizens
Association. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 10, 6:30 p.m.
at the Cleveland Park Library. Speakers will include Richard H. Bradley,
Executive Director of the Downtown Business Improvement District; Judy
Scott Feldman, Ph.D., Chair, National Coalition to Save Our Mall; Peter
May, Associate Director for Lands, Resources and Planning, National
Capital Regional National Park; and Particia Zingsheim, Associate
Director for Revitalization and Design, DC Office of Planning, and
Program Manager of the Center City Action Agenda 2008.
Despite the economic slowdown, downtown Washington is humming, and
city planners and groups such as the Downtown BID are seeking ways to
keep up the momentum. DC’s “Center City Action Agenda 2008”
targets the area north and south of the National Mall for major
residential and commercial development. This could become the next great
economic engine for the city. With the National Mall at the heart of
this area, the Mall’s urgent need for coordinated planning, better
access, parking, and visitor improvements can no longer be ignored by
city officials or the Congress. The National Coalition to Save Our Mall
has called for a new “McMillan Commission” and a vision for an
expanded, twenty-first century mall, serving tourists, residents and
city growth. As the “new center city” emerges, two initiatives are
underway: A National Mall Conservancy has been founded by the Coalition,
and the National Park Service is developing a National Mall Plan for the
next fifty years. Find out more on April 10, and voice your ideas on the
future of Washington’s downtown and the Mall.
Historical Society of Washington Film Series,
Karen Sallis, email@example.com
Saturday, April 12, 2:00 p.m. Film series: Congressman Robert Smalls:
a Patriot’s Journey from Slavery to Capitol Hill 2006, USA, 55
minutes. As part of the of DC Emancipation Day activities, we proudly
present the documentary, Congressman Robert Smalls. This film captures
the spirit of American pathos — strong work ethic, rags-to-riches, and
strong patriotism. RSVP@historydc.org
with the subject line Robert Smalls or call 383-1828.
Women’s Leadership Symposium, April 12
Ann Carper, firstname.lastname@example.org
A sneak preview of “Frontrunner,” a ninety-minute documentary
about Dr. Massouda Jalal, the first woman to run for president of
Afghanistan, by award-winning filmmaker Virginia Williams, kicks off the
day-long event. Sponsored by the Washington Wellesley Club, the
symposium addresses the groundbreaking and sometimes daring work of
women from around the world who are front and center as political
leaders, social advocates, and public servants. Speakers/panelists
include filmmaker Virginia Williams, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes
Norton, Zoe Bush (Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of
Columbia), Mkawasi Mcharo Hall (Kenyan Community Abroad), Alyse Nelson
Bloom (Vital Voices), Katherine Marshall (Georgetown Berkley Center),
Henrietta Holsman Fore (USAID), and Alan Schechter (Wellesley professor
and a keen observer of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political
The symposium will be held on Saturday, April 12, 9:00 a.m.-4:00
p.m., in Letelier Theater, 3251 Prospect Street, NW, Courtyard/upper
level. The fee is $50 if not affiliated with the Washington Wellesley
Club. RSVP and advance payment are required to email@example.com.
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