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April 27, 2008

Hazardous Waste

Dear Recyclers:

This weekend, a slim segment of Washingtonians partied at the glittering intersection of press, politicians, and Hollywood celebrities that is the White House Correspondents Dinner. At that dinner in the Washington Hilton, newspaper and network executives get to pretend they are as hardworking as their reporters, as powerful as the politicians they cover, and as glamorous as the movie stars they invite to share their tables. As one of the perks of his office, Mayor Fenty was an invited guest at the dinner.

A lot more of us spent weekend hours in the traffic jam surrounding the Carter Barron Amphitheater, the chaotic site of the Department of Public Works’ semiannual recycling drive for hazardous and not-so-hazardous waste materials (,, Dorothy drove there with a few things to drop off, but drove away after approaching the site from several directions and realizing that she would be waiting in line for hours.

Thousands of people did show up, and hundreds of cars waited in line all day, from 7:00 a.m., two hours before the site opened, until hours after the event was scheduled to end at 3:00 p.m. The gridlock shut down the surrounding Gold Coast neighborhood and inconvenienced both the potential recyclers and the neighbors of the park. In today’s faddish idiom, the “carbon footprint” of the event — the wasted gasoline of hundreds of cars idling for hours — far outweighed whatever environmental benefit the recycling may have had. We’ve heard promises from councilmembers that the event will be better run in the future, but of course the city council doesn’t run these events, so their promises don’t amount to much. The Fenty administration ran this circus. (Actually, that’s very unfair to a circus, which is planned and organized so that large, complex, and potentially dangerous shows run smoothly, safely, and timed to the second.) But we haven’t heard anything from Mayor Fenty, even though the event took place in his neighborhood, or from the Director of the Department of Public Works, William Howland, about what they will do differently next time. How will they reorganize these semiannual events or, better yet, rethink the government’s recycling efforts to retire these events, so that this doesn’t happen in the future? Fenty holds a photo opportunity nearly every day, and shows up to share the spotlight at nearly every newsworthy event. Why didn’t he show up at Carter Barron with something to offer, instead of at the Hilton to party?

Gary Imhoff


Hi, I’m a Metro Has-Been
Ted Gest,

Metro is notorious for its poor communications: garbled messages in stations, no indications of how long escalators will be out of order, etc. The agency may have outdone itself: I noticed on April 24 a new poster at the Friendship Heights station with the text starting, “Hi, I’m Dan Tangherlini, the new Metro interim general manager,” followed by instructions on how to send complaints to him. Dan might be surprised to learn about his new/old job.


Ah, The Boys of Summer
Ed T Barron,

The Nationals are the boys of summer here in DC. But they will not be the boys of October, at least not this season. On last Wednesday night the team turned in a less than spectacular performance and lost to the NY Mets. A big crowd of 33,000 was on hand for Jackie Robinson Night (sixty-one years after his first major league ball game with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Filed) that included a very large number of Met fans. My guess is that fewer than one hundred of those in attendance could claim to have seen Jackie Robinson play in Ebbets Field in the late 40s to mid 50s. I was one of those fortunate to have watched Robinson play those years.

Metro seems to be working well from the Navy Yard station. They will have to work on the connecting trains at Gallery Place, since three Green Line trains dumped their fans there for transfer to the Red Line before a single Red Line train came into the Gallery Place station ( a wait of about twelve minutes). This caused a bit of chaos, with lots of folks trying to pry themselves onto the northbound Red Line train. It was most fortunate that half the Green Line folks who boarded at Navy Yard departed at L’Enfant Plaza to connect to Virginia bound trains.


Klingle Road, One More Time
Jack McKay,

Here we go again. For seventeen years, the bit of Klingle Road within Rock Creek Park that passes under Connecticut Avenue, allowing drivers to bypass the traffic light delays where Porter crosses Connecticut, has been closed, while residents fought over whether to rebuild the road for cars, or to convert this bit of National Park land to recreational and natural use.

In 2003, District council passed an act calling for Klingle Road to “be reopened to the public for motor vehicle traffic” I predicted at the time that the National Park Service would block the construction of the road. Wrong; it’s been the Federal Highway Administration, requiring repeated revisions and rewrites of the Environmental Impact Statement, the latest just this past January. Now Councilmember Graham and Mayor Fenty want to short-circuit the Federal obstacles by paying the full bill for road construction, now up to eleven million dollars entirely out of local funds, without the usual 80 percent Federal contribution.

This was a major topic in the council committee hearings concerning the DDOT budget on April 18. Most of the arguments against the road were the same that have been heard many times before, and which failed to carry the day five years ago. But now there’s a new reason for rejecting this road. Its essential function was to provide a speedy route for us east-of-the-park folks to get to shops and schools west of the park, back when facilities on the west side were far better than those on the lower-income east. But look to the east side of Rock Creek Park now, and you’ll find resources galore: a Whole Foods; a Giant; a Target; a Best Buy; a Radio Shack; a Bed, Bath, and Beyond; a Lane Bryant; a Fedex/Kinko’s, and now a Harris Teeter. Before long there’ll be a Staples and more in Columbia Heights. What do we east-siders need to go to the west side of the park for? Not schools, with two good charter schools here supplementing an improving Bancroft Elementary. Not banks, with three located right there at 14th Street and Park Road. Not shops, not markets.

The need for the Klingle Road short-cut to our west has been overtaken by developments in Ward One. The needs for unspoiled nature in the city, for quiet places in the woods, and for automobile-free bicycle routes, remain. The eleven million dollars that Graham and Fenty want to spend on Klingle Road can be put to much better uses.


And the Award Goes To
Ed T. Barron,

The award is my own, to the ugliest house in Spring Valley. It’s even too bad that this monstrosity is located right on the southwest side of Massachusetts Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets, NW, instead of being buried on one of the side streets. This newly renovated house is probably three times the size of the original house (which, even then, was a bit out of character with its neighbors and the more normal style homes in the area). The new abortion is a series of huge boxes, side by side and atop one another. And, to top it off it has a bright and shiny metal roof on the tall, wide steep sloping roof on the front of the main box. A caution: wear your sun glasses on a sunny day. I feel for the neighbors who must endure the chuckles from passing pedestrians and motorists.


DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee
Jonathan R. Rees,

DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee keeps on saying that the key to seeing our children do better is the quality of our teachers. How wrong she is. The key to seeing our children do better is the quality of the after-school help they get from their parents, older siblings, and/or tutors.

Ms. Rhee does not know what she is talking about, but what do you expect from a person who never ran a school district before; she ran an employment agency that placed teachers. As for the equally incompetent members of the DC city council who confirmed her, they showed all of us how ignorant they are on matters of education and the historical facts surrounding what does and does not result in Johnny-can-finally-read.

Children who have a parent, older sibling, or tutor to help them with their after-school work will do better than those who don’t, regardless of their teachers. Ms. Rhee is an incompetent puppet who is only repeating what others like Dan Tangherlini are scripting for her, as a justification to terminate good teachers. There is no evidence to support Ms. Rhee’s novel theories.



Ward 5 Democrats, April 28
Hazel Thomas,

Come out and participate in the Ward 5 Democrats April meeting, Monday, April 28, at 7:00 p.m., at Michigan Park Christian Church (Taylor Street and South Dakota Avenue, NE). There will be a brief business meeting, a report from the office of Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., a discussion with the DC Board of Elections about what will happen on election day at precinct voting sites located at schools slated to close, recruiting for the Ward 5 Democrats voter registration drive, and planning for the DC Democratic State party convention on May 3.

For more information, contact Tim Thomas at:


Help Prepare the Republican Party Platform, May 19-20
Paul D. Craney,

On May 19 and May 20, the DC Republican Committee office will be open after hours to take testimonies from the public in crafting our party platform for the 2008 Republican National Committee Convention. The DC Republican Committee will compose a party platform and present it at the convention in September. If you would like to learn more about this event, please contact us at 289-8005 or E-mail us at:

DC residents with expertise in policy that affects the District are encouraged to attend and let us know what you would like the DC Republican Party to include in its 2008 party platform.


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