themail.gif (3487 bytes)

May 7, 2008


Dear Markers:

Dorothy’s message about the city council’s earmarks in the FY2009 budget in the last issue of themail generated a lot of comment, some of it sent anonymously and some given not for attribution. Below, Dorothy writes about the most revealing lead, a tip about a previously unreleased council study of the growth of its own earmarks.

Dorothy used some earmarks in the budget of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment as an example of earmarks in the FY2009 budget. The examples she used got some interesting responses. The $100,000 grant to Mt. Pleasant Main Street drew comment because in December 2007 the Department of Small and Local Business Development terminated its grant to Mt. Pleasant Main Street and its designation as a DC Main Streets program “due to MPMS’ inability to fulfill the terms of its grant over the last two years.” The $100,000 grant to the Reeves Recovery Group, Inc., drew the comment that in making this earmark Councilmember Jim Graham was giving funds to his own personal recovery group (a connection that the commenter said was no AA secret, since the councilmember himself had publicized his membership in the group in the past). There was another comment that earmarks sometimes are traded or switched between committees. Two examples that were given are that Jack Evans’ committee sent dedicated funds to Carol Schwartz’s committee to be given to a particular church’s homeless voucher program, and that Mary Cheh’s committee sent $250,000 to Schwartz’s committee to be spent on Greenworks.

What’s wrong with earmarks, anyway? It’s not that the groups that get earmarked funds are necessarily bad groups, or that their projects are bad. It’s that earmarking is not how government funding decisions should be made. Good governmental budgeting starts with the government’s deciding, through a democratic process, what work needs to be done, what work government employees can do themselves, and what work must be done by outside contractors. To find those contractors, the government then holds an open and competitive bidding process to solicit proposals and to determine contractors’ qualifications.

Earmarking turns that process on its head. An organization with the right contacts, the right friendships, the right godfathers, decides that it would like government funding for its projects, and it solicits government assistance. Instead of the government’s selecting the best qualified and lowest-cost contractor for work that the government has decided it needs, the government instead gives taxpayers’ money to politicians’ friends and the well connected for what those friends want to do.

Mike Licht, below, writes about how New York City ditched earmarks for cultural and arts groups and instituted a competitive process for cultural grants. That’s not innovative; it’s just old-fashioned good government. Funding by competitive bidding rather than through political favors is simply how it should be done. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better than distributing government funds on the basis of who knows who.

Gary Imhoff


District Taxpayers Deserve $769.23 Per Day for Fenty’s Time
Paul D. Craney,

In the aftermath of DC Mayor Adrian Fenty’s spending Monday in North Carolina campaigning for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, the District of Columbia Republican Committee sent invoices to the Obama campaign and Mayor’s office to compensate the District for the Mayor’s taxpayer funded campaign trip. The District of Columbia mayoral position receives an annual salary of $200,000 or $769.23 a day. The DC Republican Committee is requesting for $769.23 to be reimbursed.

“In addition to the $100 million Mayor Fenty proposed in new taxes and fees, and a $35 million revenue shortfall reveled this week by the District’s CFO, the DC Republican Committee is identifying creative ways to save the District much needed money and that is through billing the Obama campaign and Mayor’s office for every day the Mayor spends campaigning out of state for the Obama,” stated DC Republican Committee Chair Robert J. Kabel. Additional sources of revenue would include reimbursements for travel and meal expenses that were otherwise paid for by DC taxpayers.


Open and Transparent Pork
Dorothy Brizill,

After my article on earmarks was published in Sunday’s issue of themail, senior council staffers contacted me and indicated that I had highlighted an ongoing, troublesome abuse of the District’s budget process. Several staffers told me that the council’s Office of Policy Analysis had completed a study on earmarking that I should review. But don’t expect that the OPA exists to serve the public or to inform the public about the findings of its studies. On Tuesday, I went to the OPA office in the Wilson Building. When I requested a copy of the report, OPA staffer Erica Hamilton dug a copy out from a tall stack of papers. She said it was her only copy, so I volunteered to make a copy for myself. When I returned to the office, I was told that I had to wait, because Hamilton had gone to check with the office of the Chairman of the council to see whether the report was public, and whether she was permitted to give me a copy. When she returned, she said that the report, although dated March 12, 2008, was not public and had not been released, and demanded that I return the original and the copy I had made. I asked why the report was not public, and she said, “This office is set up for the benefit of the council, not the general public.” She indicated that the OPA operates under the “conditions of confidentiality,” and that it is at the discretion of councilmembers whether to release a report to the public. Doxie McCoy, Chairman Gray’s press secretary, responding to my request for a comment on this, sent me an E-mail today indicating that “the nature of the office’s work is confidential. . . .” McCoy wrote that she knew I had requested the report, and that, “It has been given to a couple of news outlets that recently requested it from me. . . .” In light of that, she offered to release it to me, also.

I haven’t received a copy from McCoy yet, but here are a few highlights from a copy of the report that I obtained from other sources. 1) The report’s methodology appears to be flawed. It tracks only earmarks contained in Budget Support Acts, not earmarks in the annual Fiscal Year budgets for departments and agencies. Therefore, the actual number and extent of earmarks is vastly underestimated. 2) The report also underreports earmarks by tracking only direct funding for organizations, institutions, and private sector entities, not earmarks for specific projects and programs internally within the government. 3) Even with these limitations, the report finds an extraordinary growth in earmarking over the past decade. Between 1999 and 2003, the council made no earmarks. In 2004, the council made three earmarks designated as contract awards, with no dollar amount specified. In 2005, there were two earmarks worth $1,250,000; in 2006, twenty-five earmarks valued at $17,510,900; in 2007, forty-four earmarks costing $29,308,282; and in 2008, ninety-nine earmarks costing $49,766,576. It is obvious from this explosive growth that earmarking abuse of the DC budget has been uncontrolled. The report concludes that, “The council is at a turning point, like many other jurisdictions in the United States, including the United States Congress, relative to identifying the most appropriate method for reforming this practice. The council must determine whether or not it should abolish its use altogether or reform the existing process.”


Such a Deal
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

The Newseum (the newly opened museum of journalism right across from the West Wing of the National Gallery) has a somewhat steep entry fee ($18 for seniors), but this is one great museum for those who have followed world events over their lives in newspapers, magazines, films, and TV. There’s really way too much to see in one visit, so there’s a real deal to be found for those who will be making more than one tip to the Newseum over the next year. Seniors can get a one-year membership for $50. The eighteen bucks for your first admission can be applied to the fifty-dollar annual membership, and the whole fifty dollars is tax deductible. My annual membership (and rooomie’s, too) would actually cost only about ten dollars after figuring the tax deductibility. And, you get a gift of a stuffed moose (two mooses, in our case) with your purchase of the annual membership. Such a deal.


Cultural Earmarks in the Big Apple
Mike Licht,

Mayor Fenty’s pal Mike Bloomberg and the New York City council ditched cultural earmarks in the Big Apple, replacing them with competitive peer-reviewed grants for arts organizations. This means the council doesn’t waste time listening to beggars from multimillion-dollar cultural organizations and can concentrate on public safety, schools, and other issues. See

If the Ford’s Theater dust-up doesn’t convince the mayor and DC council to apply the NYC solution, then Washingtonians need to vote in politicians who know more about art. Primary candidates must audition or submit a portfolio.


Pork, Part II
Dorothy Brizill,

In last Sunday’s issue of themail, I wrote about “pork,” the earmarks in the city council committee reports marking up the FY2009 budget. As an example, I referenced the earmarks Councilmember Jim Graham had included in the budgets of the departments and agencies under his Committee on Public Works and the Environment. I could have made it clearer that the examples I used were just a partial listing. The earmarks I listed are being funded out of the budget for the Department of Public Works, and are referenced in the committee report as “committee initiatives.” Graham’s earmarks will be funded largely by revenues from increased parking enforcement in the District. The committee approved a 25 percent increase in DPW funding and personnel dedicated to neighborhood parking enforcement and patrols for registration of out-of-state automobiles. The committee anticipates that the additional resources for DPW will generate $14.1 million annually in recurring revenue. Graham then earmarked $11.7 million of that additional revenue.

With few exceptions, Graham’s earmarks are for groups and projects in his ward, Ward One. Other committees and councilmembers are also guilty of earmarking government funds to pet projects and groups. For example, Jack Evans’ Committee on Finance and Revenue transferred $250,000 to the Committee on Health for the Capital Breast Care Center, and transferred $150,000 to the Capital Area Asset Builders for the DCEITC Outreach Campaign. Meanwhile, Kwame Brown’s Committee on Economic Development from the Community Benefit Fund Initiative to a variety of groups and organizations, including $398,000 for a feasibility study for a Children’s Museum, a $500,000 grant to the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, and $232,000 to Keely’s Boxing and Youth Center.

The Budget Support Act, Bill 17-670, a separate bill that accompanies the FY2009 budget, also contains an additional $24.6 million in earmarks, including $10 million to Ford’s Theater; $300,000 to City Dance; $25,000 to a community garden at 13th Street and Kentucky Avenue, SE; $500,000 to DC Vote; $250,000 to the Fort Dupont Ice Arena; $50,000 to the High Tea Society; $1,000,000 to Peaceaholics; and $1.5 million to Southeastern University.


Fenty’s Popularity
Anne-Marie Bairstow, abairstow at alum dot swarthmore dot edu

Why is Fenty popular? While I wouldn’t call myself a Fenty cheerleader, I will offer my opinion on the issues that Gary outlined [themail, May 4]. (By the way, I don’t fit the profile of what you call “his core supporters.”)

1) School firings. In my daughter’s school, there was a completely inept gym teacher. He frequently didn’t show up for work, and when did, he was mean to the kids. He was just not a person who should be teaching kids. It took the principal until April to get rid of him. And she worked hard at it. While I am sorry that he is out of a job, I am not going to sacrifice my kids’ education to keep incompetent people employed. It’s not that I “don’t like public school employees, even classroom teachers.” I love my daughter’s classroom teacher, the librarian, the art teacher, etc., but I can’t help wondering how many times my kids will have to sit through eight months of an outright mean teacher. That’s just not in the best interest of DC schoolchildren. So I support Rhee’s overall approach, and I suspect that many other DCPS parents who’ve been through similar situations feel the same way.

2) Taxicabs. Perception is reality. Gary makes good points about the costs of cabs and the ability to tamper with a meter. But the zone system made people feel like they were being ripped off. A tour company operator told me about how they had to revamp their ticket collection system, which involved spot checking tickets, because when other customers saw people getting on and not buying or showing a ticket, they got upset. Because it appeared that other people got away with paying nothing, customer who shelled out eighteen dollars felt like chumps. It actually worsened the experience for them. Which is exactly what happens with DC cabs under the zone system. You end up feeling like a chump. Even though I’ve lived here eighteen years and somewhat understand the zone system, I was still quoted different rates almost every time I got in a cab. Some of those times I was definitely being ripped off. And for visitors I think it feels even worse, because they don’t understand the zone system, and even if they did, they don’t know the city well enough. While I complain about tourists as much as anyone else, in reality, I want tourists to come here because I want them to spend their money in DC (and I want them to come back and I want them to encourage their friends to visit). If their first experience on the ground is a negative one, that can color their whole trip.

3) Making enemies: Jack Evans was quoted in the Post the other day, something like “he acts like a normal mayor, you mess with him, he’s going to mess with you worse,” (sorry I can’t remember the exact quote.) People who have spent time working in other cities tell me that the mayors in Boston and New York are like that, leading to less craziness and incompetence. Is that the right way to govern? I don’t know, but I can make the argument that it’s more effective that a mayor and council who do nothing except point fingers at each other (which we have seen in the past). While there are plenty of areas that I think need improvement (can we have an Attorney General who lives in the city, please?), I don’t find the mayor’s popularity unfathomable.


Schools and Fenty’s Popularity
Karen Loeschner,

I am a childless yuppie and a new Washingtonian. I am skeptical of Fenty’s method of governing. I’m also a certified high school teacher and staunchly pro-union. So I don’t know where I fit in your profile. But I don’t understand the repeated complaints I’m hearing about why it’s taking so long to fix DCPS. This is an egregiously inefficient bureaucracy with a wealth of problems going back decades. What kind of successes do people realistically expect to see in less than one year? Schools have historically been stuck in the middle of many, many stakeholders. With each party trying to pull the schools towards its own agenda, it’s no surprise that little gets accomplished. In a healthy district, this system of checks and balances works well to produce a synthesis of successful ideas. In an unhealthy system, the result is infighting and inertia, while still releasing into the community every June thousands of students who have received a substandard education.

But let’s assume DC can get beyond the inertia. If and when change does occur, it’s going to be at a snail’s pace. It’s like trying to right an ocean liner that’s gone off-course: you will not correct it overnight. The best you can do is make incremental changes back towards the right direction, and wait. Sometimes a long time, often much longer than people have patience for. DCPS has been shamelessly allowed to languish for years by every stakeholder in this city, so don’t be so quick to judge those who are now doing something to fix it. It is so far off course the map needs to be thrown out and redrawn.

As for teachers getting booted, I’ve worked alongside “academic deadwood,” arriving at the conclusion that unfortunately education is sometimes a great meal ticket for the unambitious. Luckily, in my experience, the unambitious were far outnumbered by truly caring and competent professionals. For the incompetents, however, I felt resentful that they were allowed to remain in their jobs, often with enviable salaries (far more than me, at least), for many reasons: for “phoning it in” every day with their students, who deserve better; for failing to uphold academic standards; for not being invested in their own professional development, much less the academic development of their students; and for abusing tenure, which is meant to protect good teachers, not excuse bad ones. Yes, it’s a major inconvenience for people to have to reapply for their own jobs. However, given the need for talented teachers, I trust that, for those who are not merely making a meal ticket out of DCPS, this is a formality and their jobs are safe. But for the deadwood, this is an opportunity to get rid of them . . . to remove the protective shield of tenure that has kept them employed. Don’t be surprised when the union cries foul over this. They’re obligated to support all union members, not just the good ones, in a morally precarious position similar to how the ACLU must defend racists. Promise a union official anonymity, though, and I’d be shocked if he or she didn’t admit many of those teachers need to go, if not express outright relief that someone else is taking the heat for getting rid of them.

I am on sabbatical but planning on staying in DC, and I’ve been asked many times if I want to teach here. I don’t know yet, but I can say that this “competent, certified and experienced” teacher does not want to work in a district that hastens its downward spiral by retaining unmotivated, incompetent and/or ineffective teachers. Because nothing is more “counterproductive, destroys employee morale, wastes valuable talent, and tarnishes future teacher recruitment efforts” than that.

[The reason that people complain about the amount of time is that Mayor Fenty said he wanted to take over the school system because improvement was taking too long under the Board of Education. He promised that if he were given control he would ensure that the schools improved rapidly. Now the mayor and Chancellor Rhee are saying that it will take just as long, or even longer, to see any measurable improvement as it would have under the previous, democratically elected Board of Education. That means that Fenty’s stated rationale for the power grab was false. — Gary Imhoff]


Hardship for Taxi Drivers
Qawi Robinson,

In hearing the sentiments of cab drivers and the pro-meter lobby, the reintroduction of meters is taking its toll in ways the public is not aware of. In fact, it seems the mayor’s administration seems not only to have steamrolled the deal, but also to do it in a way that shows a sincere lack of concern for the profession and drivers as a whole. To those who complain that cab drivers are “getting what they deserve” or are cheating folks, they need to understand what it is “like” in the profession. There are dishonest people in every profession, but for those really wondering why Cab Drivers are crying foul, please understand the following. First, in addition to being subject to higher scrutiny to get their licenses, their vehicles must go through inspection every six months. For the drivers who own their cabs, that can be a costly venture, as things that a normal person could neglect in their passenger cars (such as steam cleaning the engine), must be done to pass inspection. Some drivers who rent their cabs, may pay as much as $50 a day, or $350 a week. Adding to that, all DC cab drivers must maintain insurance, which is roughly $250 a week. If they drive a radio cab, there are other dues that they pay. Add all of this to the cost of gas, and one begins to understand how costly this profession is to independent entrepreneurs. Now add meters to the mix, and you really begin to see the impact.


Cab Drivers
Katrina Lee,

Most DC cab drivers wouldn’t last a hot minute in any other northeast city. (I don’t know about other cities; I haven’t taken that many cabs elsewhere.) In other cities, cabbies can instantly map out alternate routes from any given point to any given destination, and know which streets to take (or not) at which hours. Sometimes they’ll offer riders a choice between the fastest way and the cheapest way, and if a rider requests/declines a certain route, the drivers comply. Here, they argue. The zone system lets cabbies get by without having to really learn the city. Even if it means the trip will take longer, cabbies can take whatever streets they like — and they usually like the streets where chances for piggyback fares are best.

I’ve never been anywhere (besides DC) that allowed cabbies to pick up additional riders and charge them the full amount. I’ve had cabbies cram three fares into a cab, basically tripling their profit (and, for the original rider, the time required for the trip). The multiple fares easily make up for any time spent sitting in traffic. In these circumstances, what incentive does a cabbie have to get a rider to his destination quickly? I’ve had plenty of cab rides that were slower than a bus trip would’ve been, even if it involved multiple buses. I’ve often had to hail two or three different cabs to find one willing to take me to my destination. One cabbie terminated the trip abruptly after two blocks, throwing me out when he ran into a buddy he wanted to hook up with. I’ve had drivers refuse to take the routes I’ve requested (“if I break down, it will be harder for a tow truck to find me”), drivers who refused to drive over 35 mph in a 45 mph zone (“it puts too much strain on my engine”), drivers who refused to turn on the AC (“it’s not that hot” — especially if you’re in front of a dashboard fan), drivers who laughed at my request for a receipt, drivers whose accents I couldn’t begin to understand, and drivers who apparently never ever carry change for a twenty-dollar bill or any other denomination.

The DC cab system has, for a long time, operated on the laws of averages. This deprives drivers of incentive. You might want to pick another example . . . that is, unless DC teachers operate under similar circumstances.


Klingle Road: The Mount Pleasant ANC Speaks
Jack McKay,

On May 6, by a unanimous (5 to 0) vote, the Mount Pleasant Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed the resolution below, endorsing the text put in the report of the Public Works and Environment Committee by Councilmember Cheh, which amounts to a permanent closing of Klingle Road to automobile traffic: “Resolved, that ANC1D advises the Council of the District to approve the expenditure of $2 million in federal funds for environmental remediation of Klingle Valley and construction of a recreation trail.

“Issues and concerns: The construction of an automobile road along the Klingle right-of-way, as contemplated by the Klingle Road Restoration Act of 2003, would result in the permanent loss of a portion of Rock Creek Park to automobiles, at the expense of natural and recreational uses. With the change in automobile traffic patterns of the past several years, the need for the automobile road has greatly diminished, whereas needs for bicycle routes and recreational areas have increased. The preservation of this portion of Rock Creek National Park for natural and recreational use today offers the highest value to the people of the District.” Voting “yes”: Commissioners Edwards, Scott, Bosserman, Zara, and McKay (Commissioner Tunda absent).


Pork and Klingle
Kristina Jones,

Dorothy Brizill forgot a bit of pork in her list of May 4. Ms. Brizill points out that Jim Graham, as Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, is specifically responsible for “. . . matters relating to environmental protection regulation and policies. . . .“ In this capacity Mr. Graham has judged that he is fit to dismiss the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) required for all projects. He has set this precedent by pushing for a road in Klingle Valley Park, as the area is named on US Park Service maps, even though the road project cannot meet the standards required in the EIS.

If this road is pushed through by dismissing the EIS, Graham and pro-road supporters turn the project into a narrow special interest that will be paid for with pork, and which could weaken environmental protection in all of DC in the future. Graham’s plan is to forfeit federal transportation funds originally planned on for this project. All States receive a limited amount of these federal funds to pay for 80 percent of projects that meet EIS standards. Therefore the Klingle Valley road project would require special funding or pork: 100 percent DC taxpayer money instead of the pre-planned 20 percent. A road in Klingle Valley (KV) is currently estimated at $11.8 million upfront, plus a conservative 5 percent interest for that borrowed money totaling $21 million for the 0.7 miles of road — a rate greater than the infamous Alaskan pork “bridge to nowhere,” which was canceled.

Furthermore, the Berger Report mandated by the council three years ago concluded that 52 percent of the trips in the vicinity of KV are made by mass transit, on bike or on foot. Of the 48 percent that are made in cars, fewer than a quarter on either side of Connecticut Avenue have a final destination on the other side of Connecticut Avenue (east or west). That means a road in KV exclusive to cars (no walkers, bikers or busses) would benefit fewer than a quarter of people living in the vicinity, but would be subsidized 100 percent by all DC residents, and would cause environmental damage that affects everyone everywhere and could weaken environmental protections citywide. Additionally the Berger Report concluded a road in KV would not improve traffic at Porter and Connecticut Avenue or at other area intersections. This project, as Mr. Graham currently envisions it, is a special interest pork-funded project costly to all in terms of resources (environmentally and fiscally) for the benefit of a very few. Contrast a hiking/biking trail that does meet EIS standards and can be 80 percent paid for with federal transportation funds at a fraction of the total cost, thus greatly minimizing the burden both fiscally and environmentally to all DC residents.


Klingle Road
David Culp, Capitol Hill,

Laurie Collins (themail, May 4) continues her defense of reconstruction a closed road in Klingle Valley, an arm of Rock Creek Park. Last week, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh was successful in striking $2 million in city funding from being used to begin rebuilding Klingle Road. Instead she redirected funding to a hiker/biker trail through the valley. The vote was 3-2 in the Public Works Committee, with Councilmembers Cheh, Kwame Brown, and Yvette Alexander voting for the trail. Councilmember Jim Graham is expected to try to reverse that vote and seek to restore funding to rebuild the road, when the full DC council will vote on the city budget on May 13. Send an E-mail message to all thirteen council members urging them to support Councilmember Cheh’s plan for a hiker-biker trail in Klingle Valley — not a road. You can send a single message to Your message will be distributed to all thirteen councilmembers. It is important that council members continue to hear from us before the full council votes on the budget on May 13.



Third Black Docs Film Series, May 8
Corey Jennings,

Landmark Theater’s E Street Cinema, 555 11th Street, NW, will host this year’s Black Docs Film Series from May through September under the theme: “Through The Eyes Of.” “Through The Eyes Of” is a monthly examination of the development and movement of urban life and culture from different ethnic and cultural perspectives. The series kicks-off May 8th with “The Souls of Black Girls” and the premiere of “This Is Our Club.” Tickets are $10 general admission and $15 for VIP reserved seating and can be purchased at the theater box office or The five-month fundraising event will benefit NGAF’s upcoming children and health awareness programs.

Tickets: $10 general admission; $15 VIP reserved seating. Tickets are available at the box office or online at All times for dates below are 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. May 8, Black Girls and Social Grouping: The Souls of Black Girls and This Is Our Club: The History of the Montgomery County Maryland Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. June 12, AfroMexico/Indian Heritage and Free Slave Movements: La Raíz Olvidada (The Forgotten Root) and De Florida a Coahuila (From Florida to Coahuila) ((films contain English/Spanish subtitles where necessary). July 17, African Unity and Bob Marley: Africa Unite. August 14, Cuban Legends: Los Zafiros (The Sapphires): Music from the Edge of Time. September 4, Urban and Demographic Change: The Water Front and Twilight Becomes Night.


Artomatic and James Bond Film Festival, May 8-9
Elizabeth Price,

Artomatic, the Washington, DC, area’s homegrown art extravaganza, opens to the public at noon on Friday, May 9, with over seven hundred visual artists and three hundred performances, including the fire-dancing troupe Flights of Fire on Friday night and performance art in the form of a new TV game show “The Road to Success!” on Saturday.

Artomatic 2008 will occupy ten floors of the Capitol Plaza I building, located at 1200 First Street (1st and M Streets), NE, just one block west of the New York Avenue Metro station. Show hours are Fridays and Saturdays: noon-2:00 a.m.; Sundays: noon-10:00 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays: 5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Artomatic’s closing day is June 15. A full schedule of events is available at

The summer-long James Bond Film Festival opens May 8 with “Dr. No” beginning at dusk at the intersection of Florida and New York Avenues, NE. The site is located directly across Florida Avenue from the New York Avenue Metro station on the Red Line and the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) headquarters. Bond films will be shown each Thursday night through August 28, rain or shine, with each film showing preceded by an Odd Job and other Bond character look-alike contest. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket and a picnic and walk, bike, or take Metro. The film series will take place on the future site of MRP Realty’s Washington Gateway project, a one million square foot mixed-use project that will begin construction later this year. A movie schedule and map are available at Both events are accessible from New York Avenue Metro Station on the Red Line.


Witold Rybczynski at NBM, May 13
Jazmine Zick,

Tuesday, May 13, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture: Witold Rybczynski. Author, scholar, professor, and architect Witold Rybczynski examines Washington DC’s height limit, which for nearly one hundred years has set firm limits for the heights of buildings in the District. Rybczynski explores the historical context of height limits across the country and offers thoughts on the future of DC’s skyline. $12 Members; $12 Students; $20 Non-Members. 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


Robert Creamer at MLK Library, May 14
George Williams,

Veteran political organizer and strategist Robert Creamer will discuss his new book, Listen to Your Mother: Stand Up Straight. How Progressives Can Win, and the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m., in the Great Hall of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. A book signing will follow.

The book lays out a broad strategy for progressive victory and describes the tactics needed to win real-world political battles one at a time. Creamer argues that progressives have an historic opportunity over the next two years to create long-term political realignment in the United States. However, to be successful, Creamer advocates that Progressives reassert their commitment to fundamental progressive values and vision for the future. “Some people think that in order to win, Democrats need to move to the political center by adopting conservative values and splitting the difference between progressive and conservatives positions,” says Creamer. “History shows they are wrong. To win the next election and to win in the long term, we need to redefine the political center.” With Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton engaging in an historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Creamer’s analyzes the elements of a successful campaign and recommends strategies that would be useful to any office seeker.

Creamer, who is the husband of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), has been a political organizer and strategist for almost four decades. He has worked with many of the country’s most significant issue campaigns, and was one of the major architects and organizers of the successful campaign to defeat the privatization of Social Security. He is a consultant to the campaigns to end the war in Iraq, pass universal health care, change America’s budget priorities and enact comprehensive immigration reform and worked on hundreds of electoral campaigns from the local to national level. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the Library on the day of the event. The customer information number for the Creamer event on May 14 is 202-727-2014


Georgetown Library Design Meeting, May 22
Martha Saccocio,

The DC Public Library will host the second in a series of Community Design Meetings to discuss the renovation of the historic Georgetown Neighborhood Library, Thursday, May 22, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Parish Hall, 3240 O Street, NW (Potomac Avenue and O Street, NW). The architects, Martinez & Johnson, will present preliminary design concepts and will solicit input from the community. Residents are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit the Library’s web site at


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To change the E-mail address for your subscription to themail, use the Update Profile/Email address link below in the E-mail edition. To unsubscribe, use the Safe Unsubscribe link in the E-mail edition. An archive of all past issues is available at

All postings should be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)