June 11, 2008

Working Together

Dear Coworkers:

Here are some lies the Fenty Administration is telling about the Neighborhood Safety Zone Initiative, about which Dorothy and I have written in the last two issues of themail. First, the NSZ Initiative is meant to send a message to criminals that they aren’t free to go into the forbidden neighborhoods. The truth is that it sends a message to all citizens, overwhelmingly good and honest citizens, that they aren’t free to travel on public streets without the permission of the authorities. Second, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier claimed early on that all the residents of Trinidad supported the barricades. The truth is that a few residents do — see Kathy Henderson’s posting below — but the overwhelming majority of neighborhood residents are rightfully offended by them. Third, officials claim that rank-and-file police officers support these tactics, and see them as good policing. The truth is that most police officers — if you can speak to them where MPD officials can’t hear them — think that this is a terrible plan. Most police officers joined the police department because they want to protect and serve people, not because they want to oppress and repress people. They want to work with communities, not against them, and they value our American liberties as much as we do. (See the comments of Kristopher Baumann, who doesn’t have to worry about his position because he’s the chairman of the DC police union, in press articles about the checkpoints.)

Fourth, the claim will soon be made that quarantining Trinidad worked because it reduced violence. In a sense, this is just a continuation of another failed police tactic — that of flooding a neighborhood with police officers after a series of violent incidents, or after a particularly violent incident. In any location, whatever the police do, there will usually be less violence after a series of violent incidents simply because of the law of averages. But if the police increase their presence in any area, and if they are especially visible, criminals will commit their crimes elsewhere. To reduce crime, the police don’t have to blockade streets, demand identity papers, require citizens to tell them where they’re going, and refuse entry to those whose answers they don’t like. The police just have to be around.

So how could the Metropolitan Police Department reduce crime in neighborhoods where there has been a lot of violence, without violating our constitutional rights and traditional American liberties? The MPD doesn’t have to be terribly creative to come up with ideas; it just has to use community policing tactics that it has used successfully in other neighborhoods over the past two or three decades. Don’t send roving special patrol units to a neighborhood for temporary public relations gains; instead, use the police officers who are already assigned to the neighborhoods and are familiar with them, and assign more permanent foot patrol officers for neighborhood patrols. Don’t close off streets for identity checkpoints. Instead, have the police sponsor a block party, at which they’ll grill some hot dogs, play some music, invite the residents out of their houses to have a good time, and let officers meet the people who live in the neighborhoods whom they are guarding and protecting. During hot summer afternoons like those we’re having now, the police can put sprinkler heads on some fire plugs, get the young kids out to run through the water, get wet, and cool off, and they can meet the children’s parents. In other words, in wounded neighborhoods where people are afraid of street violence, the police and the residents have to reclaim the streets at events where they unite and work together. The MPD shouldn’t be using tactics like identification checkpoints and blockades that simply assert their authority and power, tactics that divide them from the people who live on blocks where there are problems and divide them from other citizens of this city.

Fifth and finally, members of the administration have claimed that the blockades and checkpoints are constitutional. Even they don’t believe it, so don’t waste your time arguing with them. Sue them; it’s the only way they’ll pay attention.

Materials about the so-called “Neighborhood Safety Zones” — including the final revised version of the MPD Special Order establishing the Initiative and the MPD Lesson Plan given to police officers manning the barricades — are available at http://www.dcwatch.com/police/nsz.htm. Councilmember Phil Mendelson will chair a city council hearing on the administration’s policing policies on June 16; see the notice below.

Gary Imhoff


DCPS Without School Counselors
Candi Peterson, saveourcounselors@gmail.com

Please view our web site, http://www.saveourcounselors.org. We are urging the DC city council to vote yes to full funding for DCPS school counselors in all elementary schools, regardless of size and on the secondary level with a ratio of 250:1, as established by the American School Counselor Association. DC City Councilmember Phil Mendelson states that there is enough money in the DCPS budget to fund professional school counselors as well as fund positions under the new Comprehensive Staffing Model. In the recent school budget proposals, Chancellor Rhee has eliminated most DCPS school counselor positions in elementary schools that do not have a minimum of six hundred students. In some secondary schools, school counselor positions have been eliminated in exchange for other positions. Demand that Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee keep their promise to give our students the high quality education that they deserve. If you believe that DCPS students deserve the right to consult with a school counselor, like their more affluent peers, please E-mail saveourcounselors@gmail.com to request that an electronic E-mail petition be directly forwarded to you.


Council Refuses to Solve the Gun Problem
Matt Forman, Matthew.Forman2@verizon.net

There’s a very important article in this month’s Washingtonian explaining how DC law is ineffective to deter criminals from using guns, http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/8002.html. According to the article, dangerous gun offenders are often released back onto the streets while awaiting trial, sentences are too lenient, and the requirements for proving gun operability at trial (the only of its kind in the country) are counterproductive, among other things. So as we sit around contemplating neighborhood safety zones and Supreme Court rulings, at the end of the day it’s the city’s lack of enforcement of gun crimes that appears to be the real problem. Who’s to blame? As the article notes, Phil Mendelson has refused to make the necessary reforms to the law, never holding hearings or otherwise holding things up in his Judiciary Committee for years. He instead concentrates on such weighty matters as whether fast food restaurants should disclose the nutritional content of their menus. Who else? Council Chair Vincent Gray, who keeps Phil on as chair of the Judiciary Committee.


At-Large Candidate Mara Raised $50,000
Patrick Mara, patrick@patrickmara.com

Patrick Mara, Republican candidate for the DC council (at-large), announced today that his campaign has raised over $50,000 for his primary campaign — a tremendous tally considering Mara declared his candidacy barely two weeks ago (May 27). Critically, Mara also has more cash-on-hand, over $49,000, than any other challenger in the at-large council race. Mara said that his impressive fundraising total represents the beginning of what will be a vigorous and strongly contested campaign. In a few days, he will announce a major fundraiser to be hosted by several prominent District Republicans and business leaders.

According to Mara, “This campaign will be based on the fundamentals: 1) Supporting real school reform, 2), Promoting a healthy employer climate 3) Extending economic development into all Wards and neighborhoods. On these issues and others, my opponent has lost touch with the Republican party.”

Mara is a former staff member to the late US Senator John Chafee (R-RI). He is a homeowner in the Columbia Heights neighborhood and has been a District resident for ten years. He is active in a number of local organizations and charities. To learn more about Patrick Mara, visit http://www.patrickmara.com or call 276-5859.


Carol Schwartz’s 2008 Reelection Announcement
Paul D. Craney, press@dcgop.com

Today [June 9] I am announcing my candidacy for reelection as an at-large member of the council of the District of Columbia. I look forward to the campaign ahead and making my case for another term based on my solid record of effective leadership in getting the job done, and my demonstrated commitment to the people — all the people — of this city that I love.

For the four decades I have lived here, I have put tremendous energy into making DC a better place for all of us. My record — both as a citizen and as an elected official — shows there is no area where I have not shown commitment.

Early on, I sent my three children to the Recreation Department’s preschool programs, and then volunteered there. I sent them to our public schools, and then ran for the Board of Education. And during the two terms I served on the Board from 1974 to 1982, we hired two strong Superintendents and student test scores went up. And I tried — long before it was fashionable — to lengthen the school day and year, strengthen teacher evaluations, and establish a pre-kindergarten program for all four-year-olds.

As a citizen, I tutored at Malcolm X Elementary School in Anacostia and counseled drug addicts at the Black Man’s Development Center on Georgia Avenue. I served as the first woman President of the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs, and I helped steer us through the worst years of the AIDS crisis as a member of the Board of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. I have personally supported many other organizations serving residents of our city — Iona Senior Services, the Mautner Project, SOME, the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, La Clinica del Pueblo, Metro TeenAIDS and the Greater Washington Urban League, to name a few. I have also enjoyed being a loyal patron to our arts community, and know that a vibrant cultural life with thriving arts and entertainment venues lifts us all.

As a member of the council, first from 1985 to 1989 and again since 1997, I have fought to prevent problems that I saw coming and, when I haven’t succeeded, I have worked hard to solve them. Those who, like me, have been around for a while might remember that during my one council term in the 1980s, not only did I successfully lower income and inheritance taxes so residents would stop fleeing the District, I also was the only member of the council to vote against all the bloated budgets that lead to the severe financial crisis during the early 1990s, when I was not there — a crisis that cost us dearly and, for a time, virtually ended our already limited home rule.

Following my husband’s death in 1988, and when my first term ended, I left the council. While I finished raising my three kids and volunteered for various organizations, I watched with great distress and sadness as the city’s troubles escalated. I could not sit idly by, and that’s why I ran for mayor against Marion Barry in 1994 — even though I knew that for a Republican in this town, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than ten to one, the odds were slim. Still, I won 42 percent of the vote, and then in 1996, I succeeded in being elected again to the council.

In the years since, I have fought for better services, and we have them. I have fought for better financial management, and we have that. I have fought for greater tax parity with suburban jurisdictions, and we have that, too. I have fought to establish our own Department of the Environment, to plant more trees, for a more energy-efficient fleet of government vehicles and for a cleaner city, and we have all that. I have fought for tax-free holidays, free parking in many commercial areas, and to bring us more retail and entertainment options so that we might have more vitality — day and night — and we also have that. I am very proud of the role that I played in our turnaround, and I hope to continue doing all I can as a Councilmember to ensure that we never fall back, that we always move forward.

Over all these years, I have remained beholden to no one but the residents of DC. I have worked full-time — and very hard — on their behalf. If I am reelected to the Council, I will continue to provide the kind of aggressive and thorough oversight of District agencies that residents have come to expect. I will continue to try my best to strike the right balance on each issue. I will continue to work with the Mayor and my colleagues on improving our schools, on making our streets safer, and on training and maintaining a strong municipal workforce. I will continue to push for improvements to basic services, and to remind everyone that these services are not gifts from government, but a responsibility of government that the taxpayers are paying for. I will continue to be responsive to constituents who express their need for help. I will continue to support accessible health care for all. I will continue to try to make sure our residents receive quality training for available jobs, and that they get at least their fair share of those jobs. I will continue to propose and support favorable tax policies that help to keep businesses, especially small businesses, in our city. I will continue to work to keep our current residents here and attract an economic mix of new residents by creating more affordable housing, and maintaining reasonable rent controls. I will continue to protect our seniors, our young people, the disabled, our returning veterans and other valuable and vulnerable populations by paying special attention to them, as I always have.

I will continue to fight for expanding our home rule and for full voting representation in Congress. I will continue to fight for human rights — and equal rights — for all our citizens. I will also continue to fight for greater accountability in government, just as I have in the past by strengthening protections for whistle blowers, by speaking out against sole-source contracts and property sales that are not competitively bid, and by not earmarking taxpayers’ dollars to fund a favored outside group. And if the voters keep me here, I can guarantee them that I will continue to be straightforward, always calling it like I see it, and that I will keep fighting for our city, and for them.

I must admit it’s sometimes nice to get credit where credit is due, like when the Washington City Paper, in its recent “Best Of” issue, named me the “Best Friend of the District Taxpayer” because of my negotiating better deals for the city, and when Colby King, in a recent Washington Post column condemning outside earmarks, said, “Please note: Councilmember Carol Schwartz’s respect for taxpayers and government accountability prevented her from playing the earmark game.” But my work is not done for the media, nor is it often even covered by the media. In fact, it is often not seen. It is done in my office with my staff, in meetings at the Wilson Building or out in the community, and in my home with stacks of papers around me. Make no mistake — much work remains, especially within the framework of the national economy and the challenges it presents. We need seasoned, positive and proven leadership at such a time more than ever.

A lot of people have told me, “Carol, you don’t need this job. Why do you want to continue to work this hard?” And the best answer I can give them is that I am very protective of and, in fact, passionate about this city. I often say that I have gotten over every love affair I’ve ever had except for the one I’ve had with DC for nearly 43 years. I wake up in the morning, usually in the early morning, thinking, “Which problem, which issue, can I tackle today?” If there is such a thing as a calling, this is mine.

I have been around for a while, and over the course of my political career I have taken strong stands on the many controversial issues that have come before us. Some people, it seems, only remember that one issue on which we disagreed, and have forgotten about all the other issues on which we shared similar views — and for which I fought equally hard. So, during this campaign I am going to ask people to look at my record — my entire record. I hope that in doing so, they will conclude that I have been good for this city, and that they would like to keep me here, working for them.

If I am reelected for another four years, I can assure our residents that they will get from me more of the same — more of the same devotion and commitment, more of the same energy and hard work, and more of the same passion — and compassion — that I have demonstrated over the past four decades.


Chief Lanier’s Address
Gwen Blackman, mizgwen@gmail.com

Didn’t the Williams Administration fire or ask for the resignation of a former fire chief who lived in Maryland but had a rented apartment on 16th Street, NW? Should Lanier be treated any differently?


Support for the Neighborhood Safety Zone Plan
Kathy Henderson, khenderson029@aol.com

We are in crisis mode and must utilize every available remedy to fight crime. The [Neighborhood Safety Zone Initiative] plan has been reviewed by US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor and Interim DC Attorney General Peter Nickles and we are assured by Chief Lanier that the plan is viable and does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights. Chief Lanier is responding to our urgent need for increased safety and we support her plan.

We just had another shooting in the 1200 block of M Street, NE, and citizens there support the idea of safety checkpoints and wish to see the plan implemented as soon as possible (today if feasible). I expect the ACLU to debate the issue and the merits of the plan and speculate about the potential of lawsuits, underscoring their job. We expect our elected officials to stand up for us and embrace every reasonable effort to restore public safety. It is time for action that protects the citizens of the District of Columbia.



Most Improved Student Awards, June 12
Kwame Brown, kbrown@dccouncil.us

Tomorrow, June 12, At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown will award fourteen graduating seniors representing the District’s public senior high schools for their efforts to improve their academics. Councilmember Brown’s Class of 2008 Most Improved Student awardees will each receive a certificate of appreciation and a $100.00 savings bond to encourage them to establish and maintain financial stability, during a time in which most young adults are targeted for growing credit card debt. The school administrators and principals, who reviewed the progress made during the final year in high school, recommended students.

Councilmember Brown is delighted to honor students who have made excellent strides to improve their conduct and academic achievements to establish a path to future success. Brown hopes to inspire all youth to strive for excellence at every level and move forward with greater momentum to become community leaders, executives and entrepreneurs. Since Brown created the Most Improved Student Awards in 2006, he has sought to honor students who normally do not receive recognition for their significant progress made nor encouragement to continue pursue greater levels of accomplishment.

The Class of 2008 Most Improved Graduating Seniors Awards Presentation will be held on June 12, at 6:30 p.m., at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Rm. 412.


DC Public Library Events, June 14
George Williams, george.williams2@dc.gov

Saturday, June 14, 1:00 p.m., Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Library. Open house. All ages. Local authors, membership sign-up for Friends of the Library, book sale, Scrabble Club and more! Sponsored by the Friends of the Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library.

Saturdays, June 14 and 28, 2:00 p.m., Southeast Library. Knitting with Miss Renee. Ages 9 and up. Learn and share knitting techniques with Miss Renee.


Real Men Cook, June 15
Ed Bruske, euclidarms@yahoo.com

Sunday, June 15, 4-7 p.m. Family series Real Men Cook. Established in Chicago, this “party with a purpose” is a fun-filled, food tasting celebration attended by families, fathers, and singles. Real Men are ready to shake, bake, grill, and thrill for charity at Real Men Cook. For the single price of admission, attendees can move from station to station sampling the culinary treats prepared and served by volunteer chefs, professional chefs, and celebrities. A Real Men Cook Health Pavilion, with free health screenings, is also featured during the event.

The Washington, DC, Real Men Cook celebration benefits The Faces Project, a local health advocacy and preventive care organization dedicated to “putting a face” on prostate cancer and raising awareness of its impact on the African American community. Ticket information and registration for men who want to participate as a volunteer chef for Real Men Cook can be found at http://www.realmencook.com. It’s a Father’s Day treat for families and singles! RSVP@historydc.org or 383-1828.


Council Hearing on Public Safety Initiatives, June 16
Jason Shedlock, jshedlock@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, announces a public oversight hearing on the Executive’s Public Safety Initiatives and their impact on civil liberties. The hearing will be held on Monday, June 16, at 2:00 p.m., in the Fifth Floor Council Chamber of the John A. Wilson Building located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

The purpose of the oversight hearing is to hear from the public, legal service providers, and the government on the impact to civil liberties by recent public safety initiatives such as the Safe Homes Initiative, Video Interoperability for Public Safety program, and most recently, the Neighborhood Safety Zones. The Committee is particularly interested in hearing from the Acting DC Attorney General and the Chief of Police for MPD.

Those who wish to testify at the hearing should contact Victor Bonett, Legislative Analyst, at 724-4865, by fax at 724-6664 or via E-mail at vbonett@dccouncil.us and provide their name, address, telephone number, organizational affiliation and title (if any) by Thursday, June 12. Witnesses are encouraged, but not required, to bring fifteen copies of their written testimony to the hearing. If submitted by the close of business on June 12, the testimony will be distributed to Councilmembers before the hearing. Individuals should limit their testimony to four minutes; less time will be allowed if there are a large number of witnesses. If you are unable to testify at the hearing, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Copies of written statements should be submitted either to Mr. Bonett or Ms. Cynthia Brock-Smith, Secretary to the Council, Room 5 of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004. The record will close at 5:00 p.m., on Monday, June 30.


Talk for Change Toastmasters Meeting, June 18
Corey Jenkins Schaut, tfctoastmasters@gmail.com

Please join us this Wednesday, June 18, 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.

Some of us are former teachers and alumni of Teach for America. Some of us are making a difference in our community through work in the nonprofit sector. All 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? Join us at an upcoming meeting to see what we are all about. We meet on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. We look forward to welcoming you as our newest member! If you have questions, feel free to send us an e-mail at tfctoastmasters@gmail.com.


Celebrating Caribbean Heritage Reception, June 19
Marlene Belgrove-Roach, mbr_rose@yahoo.com

Celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month with six artists, who hail from the islands of Haiti, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. Art Tribute Enterprises presents the exhibition, Mélange: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean, at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, second Floor, West Exhibit Hall and Gallery A-6, from June 2-July 3. A reception will take place on June 19, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

The featured artists are Dudley Charles, Jonathan Azore, Yvon Fleurival, Kevin Holder, Kwesi Oginga, and Rouby Jeanty. Their contemporary work demonstrates cultural free spiritedness and illustrates the colorful Caribbean theme for which the islands are known. The tone is set in mixed media and modern abstraction in subjects pertaining to their heritage. Their cubism style dazzles the eyes and takes the mind into fascination. Art Tribute Enterprises of Washington, DC, was founded in 2002. The company curates events and promotes artists and their work in public places.


Cambridge Energy Alliance, June 19
Jazmine Zick, jzick@nbm.org

Thursday, June 19, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Building for the 21st Century: Cambridge Energy Alliance: A Community Response to a Changing Climate. Rob Pratt, senior vice president of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, presents the Cambridge Energy Alliance, a comprehensive energy efficiency program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Free. Registration not required. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.


AARP Volunteer Opportunity, September 4-6
Sarah E. Cumbie, scumbie@aarp.org

Have a capital adventure! Life@50+|AARP’s National Event and Expo is headed for the Washington Convention Center, September 4-6. 2008 also marks AARP’s fiftieth anniversary, and it’s going to be a blast! Join the celebration as a volunteer and experience three landmark days and nights of amazing entertainment including concerts by Paul Simon and Chicago; celebrity speakers such as Cal Ripken, Jr., Regis Philbin, Maya Angelou, and Quincy Jones; exhibits, seminars, lifestyle sessions, and much, much more. Volunteers will receive a T-shirt, a meal voucher, and free entrance to the event sessions and exhibit hall. You don’t have to be a member to volunteer. Please visit http://www.aarp.org/dc for a volunteer application and description of volunteer opportunities, or call toll-free: 1-877-926-8300.



Excellent Exterior Door/Threshold Services Sought
Tom Carmody, Thomascarmody@gmail.com

I am interested in references to excellent repair/services people who can work in the District with exterior doors, thresholds, and windows to check for leaks. Very happy to receive any names and contact information you can offer.


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