Back in 2001 and 2002, Ed Barron wrote several messages to themail
suggesting that DC drop its ill-advised determination to build a major
league ballpark, and instead build a minor league baseball stadium.
Belatedly, we want to affirm the wisdom of his suggestion. It’s not
just that the ballpark giveaway was a waste of public funds, and the
economic development promises surrounding it were phony. It’s that
going to a minor league game is a lot more fun than going to the big
As part of our Fourth of July celebration, we went to an Ironbirds
game at Cal Ripken stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland. Ripken stadium,
because it is relatively small, doesn’t have a bad seat in the house.
The emphasis is on family entertainment and involving kids in the game
— from having a children’s group sing the national anthem, to having
kids be guest announcers during some innings, to having a hoagie toss
contest during an inning break. By definition, the players aren’t
quite up to major league standards, which is why they’re in the
minors, but they’re up to Washington Nationals standards. There are
still thrilling plays and a high level of competence. The ticket prices
top out at fourteen dollars for the best seats and the parking is free.
(According to today’s Post, metered street parking near
Nationals Stadium can run to forty dollars for a four-hour game, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/05/AR2008070500564.html).
The food is affordable, and it isn’t just hot dogs and hamburgers; a
dozen steamed crabs supplied by Bo Brooks Restaurant (http://www.bobrooks.com)
cost twenty-four dollars, which is cheaper than they are anywhere else.
And Ripken stadium is almost full rather than mostly empty, because the
team’s emphasis isn’t on selling expensive skyboxes to corporations
and law firms whose members can’t be bothered to go to games when the
home team isn’t performing well, but on involving locals to come out
and root, root, root for the home team as faithful fans. By the way, a
road trip to Aberdeen has the added advantage of allowing stopovers in
Baltimore for a corned beef sandwich at Attman’s (http://www.attmansdeli.com)
or an all-day breakfast or Greek specialty at the Broadway Diner (http://www.broadwaydiner1.com).
Here are links to the Aberdeen Ironbirds, http://www.ironbirdsbaseball.com,
and to two closer minor league teams, the Bowie Baysox, http://www.baysox.com,
and the Frederick Keys, http://www.frederickkeys.com.
Gary Imhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
I received this the other day. After thinking about it, I’ve
decided that the only response that might have any effect is
publication. Clearly, the Cab Commission doesn’t believe that it has a
duty to protect the public from impaired cabbies, so what else can you
“Good Morning Ms. Manning: This will acknowledge receipt of your
letter alleging that, on 5/5/08 at approximately 6:30 p.m. the driver of
H61156 committed the following act: hit you from behind with his
passenger mirror. While the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission (‘Commission’)
is deeply concerned about drivers who fail to conduct themselves in an
orderly manner or who pose a risk to public safety because of erratic or
unsafe acts while operating their vehicle, we can only take disciplinary
action against a driver for conduct that is in violation of the rules
set forth in Title 31 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations
(‘Taxicabs and Public Vehicles for Hire’). Unfortunately, the
conduct that you describe does not constitute a violation of those
rules. It falls under the jurisdiction of moving and parking violations
governed by Title 18. As a result, we have no choice but to dismiss your
complaint pursuant to Title 31 DCMR 701.12.
“We will, however, keep a record of this complaint and a copy of
the driver’s response, if any, in his file and it will be reviewed,
along with any other complaints involving this driver, and will be taken
into consideration in advance of any request by the driver to renew or
extend his privilege to operate a taxicab in the District of Columbia.
On behalf of the Commission, thank you for taking the time to contact us
about this incident. Your continued vigilance provides us with
invaluable assistance as we strive to improve the standards associated
with driver training and customer service. Sincerely, S. Laster, Office
Manager, DC Taxicab Commission”
Might Just Be a Good Idea
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
The idea of reducing commuter traffic on DC’s roads might just be a
good idea. Commuters use a ton of DC services, clog the roads, and pay
no taxes for the services they are using. By making commuting into DC
much more difficult two problems can be solved. Residents will benefit
from cleaner air and less traffic, and the Metrorail and Metrobus system
will make some money. It will be essential that both Metrobus and
Metrorail upgrade their service to accommodate heavier commuter traffic.
One thing that could be done is to make the incoming roads into DC
single lane for cars with one lane dedicated to express buses. This
could be done on Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, and
Pennsylvania Avenue. The result should be a dramatic reduction in
commuter cars coming into DC.
Paul Wilson, dcmcrider at gmail dot com
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the limited possession of
firearms for self-defense in one’s home is a constitutionally
protected right (at least in DC), this is a great opportunity for a
teaching moment. All those who believe that the lawful, private
possession of firearms inevitably leads to more gun violence may
henceforth post large, prominent signs on their property announcing to
all passersby that said property is a “gun-free zone.” It would be a
great opportunity to put one’s money where one’s mouth is. I would
even approve of having the signs made at taxpayer expense, and of course
there would be no waiting period or background check required for a
Wouldn’t It Be Lovely?
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
The reaction to the Supreme Court decision knocking down the DC gun
law was surely expected. And even if it were not expected, why don’t
we have a city government that is proactive instead of being totally,
deer in the headlights, reactive. Why did the city officials not meet to
develop a “what if” plan in the eventuality that the ban on guns in
DC would be overturned? This lack of planning is the most notorious
shortcoming in the city administration’s way of not running the city.
Everything that happens brings cries of, “we’ll find out how it
happened so it won’t happen again.” And then it happens again. We
should be looking for council persons, a mayor, and officials in every
decision-making post who can think ahead and plan. If the city has any
real plans, they are a deep dark secret.
During the thirty-two years that I and a(n apparently large) number
of other city residents suffered through the silly regulatory overkill
of the DC handgun ban, I personally came to know of fifty otherwise
law-biding, taxpaying District residents who knowingly kept handguns in
their homes or businesses in violation of the ban. And, for the record,
I am not — nor was not — one of this group.
As part of the group of (mostly African-American) District residents
who tried to overturn this silly law -— well, the absolute handgun
restriction in it anyway —back In The Day when it was first passed, I
thought of those fifty “criminals” when I read the essence of the
Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. These
were solid citizens who, as Eugene Robinson observed in his op-ed piece
supporting this decision (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/26/AR2008062603656.html)
were exactly who the Founders had in mind when they wrote the Second
Amendment to make clear that, yes, Virginia: individuals in this country
had a right (not an obligation, mind you) to keep and bear arms. Within
some reasonable regulatory limits that could be, and still can be, set
for the greater good of civic society as a whole.
The most persistent thought that came to me in reading through the Heller
decision was the last line of the movie The Great Escape: “This
[decision] is dedicated to The Fifty.”
Are these people who desire to take away our rights to own a gun as
affirmed by the US Supreme Court losing their minds or are they just
plain ignorant? Do they not realize that criminals do not apply for a
gun permit or go to a legal, licensed firearms dealer to acquire the
guns they commit their crimes of robbery, murder, rape, and other
crimes? How many people who have purchased a gun legally have used that
gun for illegal reason?
Are those in power so naive that they do not understand criminals
acquire their guns through burglaries, robberies, guns which have been
brought into the United States illegally at our ports of entry, guns
that have been brought across the borders illegally, and even, yes, even
weapons stolen from the military by gang members who have been permitted
to enlist into the armed forces.
Unfortunately, it sounds like those in power in DC want to be totally
separate from the rest of the country. I have a better idea. Tell those
who fall into that category to find another place to practice their
tactics to control the citizens. After all, this is the United States of
America and we do have a Constitution that guarantees us certain rights,
regardless of what the Fenty administration may think.
So far 259 people have signed our petition to save DCPS school
counselor positions since mid-June 2008. We are concerned that
Chancellor Rhee’s budget allocation model will cut sixty-one school
counselor positions this school year on the elementary and secondary
level in DC public schools, without regard to student enrollment. The
mayor and the Chancellor have failed to advise us that they are cheating
DCPS students by reducing critical school counselor and teacher
positions in exchange for their promise to provide schools with the
comprehensive staffing model.
The Committee to Save Our Counselors has requested that the DC city
council hold public hearings in order to seek answers and to ensure that
all DCPS students receive high quality academic services, ensure that a
strategic educational plan is developed, ensure greater accountability
and transparency, and ensure that the DCPS school budget allocates all
of the needed resources as outlined in Fenty’s and Rhee’s Renew,
Revitalize and Reorganize plan.
We have received the support of Mr. William Lockridge, DC State Board
of Education; Mr. Josh Williams, President Metropolitan Washington
Council, AFL-CIO, Mr. George Bordenave, AFT/WTU National Representative;
Mr. Nathan Saunders, WTU General Vice President; and WTU Executive Board
members, as well as ANC Commissioners, DCPS teachers/related service
providers, and DC residents. Won’t you consider signing our petition
to help ensure that DCPS students receive the quality education they
have been promised?
Readers Rally at Demolished Library in NE
Robin Diener, firstname.lastname@example.org
Local residents gathered at noon on Saturday in front of the
demolished building for a rally organized by the local Benning Library
Dynamo. Library advocates decried the closed processes that allowed the
Board of Library Trustees to reject a land swap that would have yielded
a larger library, an endowment for expanded services, and more amenities
— without consulting the community. Citizens who participated in the
design noted that current plans by DC Public Library do not incorporate
oft-stated community preferences for the library to help address issues
of special concern to Ward 7, such as low adult literacy, high drop put
rates, and the deep digital divide. See a video of the rally at http://www.districtdynamos.org/dynamos/benning/rally_june_28_08.
Other speakers expressed frustration with the now nearly four year
process that left them without an interim library for two years, and
still has not resulted in a replacement facility. One is now scheduled
to open in 2010 but, unlike the vibrant community gathering places of
the 21st Century promised in the 2006 “Blue Ribbon Task Force on
Libraries” report, the new library as planned appears to be a lot like
the old one: there will be vending machines instead of a café, meeting
rooms will be buried in the lower level as they were in the old library,
and 80,000 volumes (two times the old library’s collection) will be
housed in a forest of bookcases on the main level with no dedicated
computer training space. One thing the old library had that the new
building won’t is the possibility of expansion at a later date.
Ironically, the building that was torn down was structurally engineered
to have floors added.
Let Benning Decide was the message for the day, and drivers-by honked
in agreement. Ralliers could only hope public officials would hear of
the clamor, since none chose to attend. Book lovers did get something
out of it: more than two hundred volumes, donated by the Brian Mackenzie
Infoshop, Cleveland Park Library Friends, and Ralph Nader’s Center for
Responsive Law, were carried away. The rally was sponsored by the
District Library Dynamos, DC Library Renaissance Project, and the Ward 7
Development Advisory Committee.
In his missive against District voting rights (“Just Say No To a
Vote for DC in Congress,” July 2), Jonathan Rees claims that “the
District of Columbia has recently announced that it will spend up to
$500 million taxpayer dollars in lobbying efforts to get a vote in
Congress.” This is wrong, and hilariously so. The District of Columbia
has allocated $500,000 in its 2009 budget for DC Vote’s educational
and lobbying activities. Mr. Rees is right in spirit, but when it comes
to the details, he’s off by a factor of a hundred.
As to his other point that the District should forfeit its fight for
voting rights in exchange for tax-exempt status, Mr. Rees seems to miss
the simple point that democratic rights are not something we trade away
for financial gain. Activists, revolutionaries, and regular citizens
have fought for centuries around the world for their democratic rights,
and it’s appalling to think that we could merely do away with them
just so we could avoid having to pay taxes.
On July 2, The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton invited
representatives of the US Geological Survey, National Park Service, and
the Environmental Protection Agency to explain the circumstances around
the closure of Fort Reno from May 14 to May 28, due to a false arsenic
alarm. The other key player, the DC Department of Environment, was
notably absent. For nearly three hours, Ms. Norton held forth with
patience, civility, and decorum.
A DDOE employee, Richard Albright, provided information to the DC
Examiner in November 2007 that set the arsenic ball rolling, http://www.examiner.com/a-1045020~D_C__toxic_waste_trail_might_be_spreading.html.
There has been no explanation of why the DDOE and USGS, who were aware
of the map’s public health implications in November 2007, took over
five months to inform NPS of the potential for high arsenic levels at
Fort Reno. DDOE’s failure to act promptly underscores the poor state
of DC agency communications when potential public health threats are
identified, as noted by a Post editorial: http://tinyurl.com/5olj8l.
Councilmember Mary Cheh, who soldiered through the entire meeting,
asked for an explanation of the “bizarre [aerial imaging] map” of
arsenic contamination. http://www.flickr.com/photos/27335560@N06/.
Partially responsive and misleading answers from the USGS information
officer, Michael Gauldin, led to additional questions on the USGS
methodology. He said that red areas on the map were “stressed”
areas, and not necessarily arsenic-affected. Then, as if reversing
course to validate the map, Gauldin said the arsenic map was 83 percent
accurate in Spring Valley.
After much discussion, we learned that the map merely covers 83
percent of known arsenic contamination in Spring Valley and does not
measure arsenic. This is a meaningless and misleading observation. It
could just as easily have been observed that the map covers areas in
Spring Valley that contain homes, for example, of 83 percent masonry.
Elsewhere in Northwest, the map displays red areas where elevated
arsenic levels are claimed. In direct contradiction to the Spring Valley
claim of “83 percent accuracy,” all ground samples taken by the
USEPA in May 2008 at Fort Reno and other locations “in red” were
negative for elevated arsenic levels. The USGS was unable to explain the
conflicting results except for other stresses.
Things got worse for the USGS when the investigator himself, E.T.
Slonecker, got up to defend his work. Facing an increasingly skeptical
audience, he struggled to explain the relevance of the “83 percent”
data from Spring Valley. Then he mentioned that the technique, which was
based partly on arsenic reflectance measurements in a greenhouse
environment (2005-2006), has a 55 percent “user accuracy.” No one
appeared to understand what that means, and I still don’t.
Running short of answers, Slonecker went on to explain that aerial
imagery interpretation was very complicated, depending on analysis of
hyperspectral aerial images (HSI) and the use of “many operators.”
This was unhelpful to the discussion, as it did not clarify why all the
ground data were negative where the bizarre map displayed elevated
arsenic levels. HSI technology has produced some marvelous pictures, for
example the rings of Saturn, oil from leaking tankers, and smokestack
plumes that travel hundreds of miles. Elemental chemical analyses
through HSI, like arsenic detection, are challenging.
My view on the usefulness of the USGS’ findings remains unchanged
by the presentations. To put it politely, aerial arsenic imaging needs
substantially more validation. To be blunt, the much-circulated USGS
image is valueless. There is a tangle of reasons why this is so: no “ground
truth data” at the imaging time (October 2000); no relevance of
greenhouse arsenic measurements in 2005-6 to the image interpretation;
and a force-fit of known arsenic concentrations in Spring Valley to the
image interpretation. There was no allowance for extreme vegetation
stress (when leaves died and began falling in October 2000) in Spring
Valley, Fort Reno and other identified “arsenic” locations. From
what little has been disclosed, poor scientific methodology was used by
the USGS and DDOE to obtain completely inaccurate ground data at Fort
Reno in April 2008. USGS results remain unreported; hopefully USGS will
provide this data as promised to Ms. Norton.
My suggestion to the USGS: evaluate the HSI technique in the western
states, where anthropogenic and naturally occurring high arsenic levels
exist in many locations. See if it works. If it does, prepare a sampling
protocol that can be peer reviewed and shared in advance with the
public, and try again in Washington or another metropolitan area.
The best news from this meeting is that we are safe from arsenic
threats in our neighborhoods until more ill-planned USGS and DDOE
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Fun Family Films Under the Stars, July 8-10
John A. Stokes, email@example.com
The District’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will hold
“Fun Family Films Under The Stars,” its 2008 Family Movie Night
Season, this summer. “Fun Family Films Under The Stars,” which
continues until late-September, will afford residents of all ages and
families of all sizes the opportunity to enjoy viewing the free,
family-oriented films in DPR’s outdoor settings. As in previous years,
viewers are invited to bring their own snacks, chairs, and blankets.
This year, District residents will have a greater selection of viewing
locations. Movies will be shown from 8:45 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Community members who arrive early enough for each screening will
have the opportunity to place a vote between two movies that may be
shown that evening. The movie that receives the most votes will be
Tuesday, July 8, Edgewood Apartments, 601 Edgewood Street, NE
Wednesday, July 9, DC Village, Lane S.W. Bldg. 1A
Wednesday, July 9, Columbia Heights Recreation Center, 1480 Girard
Thursday, July 10, Petworth Recreation Center, 801 Taylor Street, NW
Official Opening and Ribbon Cutting for The
Wanda Alston House, July 8
Brian Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wanda Alston House is Washington, DC’s first transitional
living program for GLBTQ Youth. It’s official opening ceremony will be
on Tuesday, July 8, at 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., at 804 46th Street, NE (off
Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, three blocks from the Minnesota Avenue
Metro Station). Light refreshments will be provided. Come out to support
the opening of this groundbreaking housing program for youth in DC. For
more information call 636-1646.
Georgetown Library Community Design meeting,
Martha Saccocio, email@example.com
The DC Public Library will host the third in a series of Community
Design Meetings to discuss the renovation of the Georgetown Neighborhood
Library. The meeting will be held Thursday, July 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at
Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Georgetown Parish, 3240 O Street, NW
(Potomac Street and O Street, NW). For more information, please visit
the DC Public Library’s web site at http://www.dclibrary.org.
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