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August 6, 2008


Dear Perfectionists:

Please do me a favor, and read the following three articles. Bill Myers exposed in the Examiner ( the Fenty administration’s request for $20.1 million in additional funds for the Youth Summer Jobs Program. The administration made the request to the Chief Financial Officer for money from the city’s contingency fund, which is supposed to be used only in emergencies, rather than to the city council, which would have resulted in hearings about why the program has been so poorly managed and why the budget was so underestimated.” The Post followed up on this story today, in an article by Michael Birnbaum that discloses that the mayor and the Department of Employment Services failed to reveal to councilmembers, prior to the council’s going on summer recess, that there was a substantial budget shortfall ( I’m awaiting the Post editorial explaining why this mean old council shouldn’t exercise any oversight of this perfect mayor or of his handling of the program.

Bill Turque, today, writes ( about a highly suspicious E-mail that was sent to teachers urging them to approve of the still unfinished contract proposal that Chancellor Michelle Rhee will offer to the Washington Teachers Union. He reveals how this E-mail is part of a plan to lobby teachers that has been organized by Strong Schools DC, a group funded by allies of the mayor who support charter schools, the abolition of teacher tenure and job security, and the weakening of school unions. What Turque didn’t include in the article was language from the E-mail that showed what an unbalanced sales job it was: “Two weeks ago I attended an informational session about the proposed contract, where I learned more about the incredible benefits that this contract has to offer! Among them are dramatically higher pay raises; additional bonuses for improved student performance; retroactive pay as our previous contract expired in December 2007; and a choice between two different contract options. That’s right! Teachers get to choose which contract they’d prefer — both of which offer considerably higher salary increases than those currently. For more amazing details, please review the attached contract information packet, and read for yourself.” After teacher Lauren Castillo sent this E-mail, other teachers sent her E-mails asking if she were being paid by Strong Schools DC to send it. Judging from the language of the E-mail, I’d ask who in Strong Schools DC, the Chancellor’s office, or the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education wrote it for her. Rhee and Strong Schools DC deny that they have collaborated in the lobbying plan or in the E-mail; I’d say that’s about as credible as the pitch in the E-mail itself.

Gary Imhoff


DC Vehicle Inspection
Mark Eckenwiler, themale at ingot dot org

I did my biennial vehicle inspection this morning — in and out in under twenty minutes, with pleasant interactions all around. Maybe it helped that I made an appointment using the online scheduler (, or maybe Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. is just the optimal time to show up on Half Street. About the only knock on the system is that they weren’t using the elaborate (and surely expensive) lane management signs and signals mounted over the holding area. If they don’t use it during busy periods, you have to wonder why it’s there.


Metro Heats Up
Paul Williams,

Is it just me, or does it seem that Metro is cutting costs by not air conditioning their stations? All of them used to be comfortable in past years, but this summer, all seem to have no air conditioning at all.


Moody’s Investor Service
Paul Basken,

Here’s an excerpt from an August 6 press release from Moody’s Investor Service: “Moody’s Investor Service has assigned A1 ratings to the District of Columbia’s $350 million General Obligation Bonds, Series 2008E and $150 million of General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2008F. The bonds are scheduled to price on August 6. The rating reflects the strong oversight provided by an independent chief financial officer, a continued record of strong financial performance tempered by narrower forecast operating margins, and a healthy economy that is experiencing some downwards effects of the slowing residential real estate market. The rating outlook is stable.

“Credit Strengths: Greatly improved finances and strong financial metrics relative to other large A1-rated cities, including an ongoing record of operating surpluses and healthy accumulated fund balances; Strong institutional support for continued fiscal discipline provided by an independent chief financial officer, demonstrated commitment by District leadership to financial management best practices including the required five-year plan process, congressional budget oversight and mandated reserves, and the dormant “control authority” provisions of federal law; Robust property value growth, low office vacancy rates and continued strong construction and development, driven by relatively stable federal employment, high-income professional and business services, and tourism; Relatively low pension and retiree health costs due to federal assumption of certain retiree liabilities, initial funding in fiscal 2006 of a trust for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) and appropriation of funds for the annually required contribution.

“Credit Challenges: Narrowing operating margins forecast in fiscal 2008 and the succeeding four years of the financial plan amid lower revenue growth; High government service burden due to the absence of county or state governments, concurrent with revenue-raising power constrained by the prohibition on taxing the incomes of nonresident commuters (71% of total District employment), and a high percentage of federal and other tax-exempt property (32% of total District assessed property value); An above-average tax-supported debt burden that is expected to rise as the District addresses deferred capital needs and pursues various economic development initiatives.”


Capital Gun Owners
Amy McVey,

A group of DC residents, workers, and college students have organized to press Congress and the council to fully implement the right of District of Columbia residents to keep and bear arms as confirmed by the Supreme Court’s recent Heller decision. I am Capital Gun Owner’s (CGO) President. The group supports recent bills introduced in Congress to protect the second amendment rights of District residents. “If the council will not obey the Constitution,” she said “then Congress has an obligation to step in to protect the rights of persons living, working, attending college and visiting the District.” CGO Board Member Joe Brown, said, “The District has failed to make a good faith attempt to comply with the Supreme Court’s holding in Heller. Its continued ban on semiautomatic hand guns and rifles is directly contrary to Heller’s holding that ordinary every day weapons are Constitutionally protected. Also, the District’s trigger lock requirement continues to prevent effective use of a firearm for self-defense.”

I was the first person to register a hand gun following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the District’s 32-year-old hand gun ban. The group’s goal is to overturn District’s continued ban on semiautomatic firearms and to streamline or eliminate the registration process. In addition, District residents should have the right enjoyed by residents of virtually every other state in the nation to carry firearms for their protection, either openly or concealed. CGO Board Member George Lyon, one of the original plaintiffs in the Heller case, said, “Our purpose is threefold: first to convince the city to fix its gun laws to comply with the Constitution, second to serve as a resource for gun owners to exercise their rights responsibly and safely, and third to educate the public concerning firearms issues.” Another of the original Heller plaintiffs, Gillian St. Lawrence, also a board member, said the group plans to meet with each of the Council members to explain what changes are needed in the District’s gun laws to accommodate the self-defense needs of District citizens.

Please join our organization. We have members who are DC residents as well as business owners and employees. You do not have to be a gun owner but rather a person who supports the concept that Washington. DC. residents and visitors should be able to fully exercise their rights protected by the Second Amendment. e will keep your personal information private. Please respond with an E-mail with your name, address, and a preferred E-mail address. I am encouraging you to send this to your friends and family who may be willing to join us. There is strength in numbers. And if you have not yet signed my online petition to have the ban on semiautomatic guns repealed, click on the link In order to sign the petition, you must be a DC resident or business owner. However, to join Capital Gun you just need to be a free American.


Why Is NCLB Being Misused to Remove Extraordinary DCPS Teachers?
Sarah Cox-Shrader,
Hanna Mahon,

We have all heard of American students’ poor showing on international math and science assessments, and how hard it is to attract American high school graduates to major in and pursue careers in the sciences. It would be scandalous for many to discover that the No Child Left Behind Act — the leading federal program aimed at improving American schools — is being misused to drive away successful science teachers in the DCPS. Only three weeks remain before the start of classes at Wilson High School and we remain hopeful that biology teacher Dr. Siebens will be reinstated for the sake of students at our school. You will recall from our earlier postings that Dr. Siebens was removed under the pretext of a restructuring under the No Child Left Behind Act.

There has been an outpouring of support behind our effort, which began with our on-line petition now with over 560 signatures and remarkable comments from past and present Wilson students and their parents. We wanted to mention two extraordinary letters from former students of Dr. Siebens, one from a postdoctoral fellow studying molecular genetics, the other from a medical student, both of whom are where they are solely because of Dr. Siebens. They tell such a wonderful story about what Dr. Siebens does in his classroom and how he inspires his students to not only learn but also pursue careers in the sciences.

The postdoctoral fellow, Sydella Blatch, started with Dr. Siebens’ basic anatomy class in 10th grade and she says Dr. Siebens is the best teacher she’s ever had all the way through her Ph.D. The full text of her letter is at [ADD LINK #1]. The medical student, Brendan Norwood, didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he took Sr. Siebens’ AP Bio class, now he’s President of his class at Columbia Medical School. The full text of their letters is at .

Dr. Siebens is that rare kind of teacher who inspires. But according to the DCPS administration, he “doesn’t fit in.” This makes no sense at all. On the 2007 AP Biology Exam, 41 of the 43 (95.3 percent) students with scores of three to five throughout the entire DCPS were students of Dr. Siebens. Although these AP results are phenomenal, over two-thirds of the students he has taught at Wilson were not Advanced Placement students. So why does DCPS want to remove its best teachers?


Library Funding and Hours
Leslie Kershaw, Executive Office of the Mayor,

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chief Librarian for the DC Public Libraries (DCPL), Ginnie Cooper, announced today that funding has been identified to maintain library branch hours for Fiscal Year 2009. “Public libraries serve as a resource, gathering place and anchor in our communities,” said Fenty. “Residents can rest assured that they can continue to access all of DC Public Library’s resources seven days a week next year.”

The mayor located funds after DCPL reported that its budget for FY 2009 would require libraries to close one day a week in order to stay within budget. The approximately $2 million needed to keep DCPL open seven days a week will come from debt service savings. “We were delighted to see how swiftly the mayor responded to the need for additional funding,” said Cooper. “This funding will allow library staffing levels to remain the same next fiscal year. This funding means that these libraries will be remain open seven days a week next fiscal year.”

In addition to traditional library resources such as books, DCPL has Internet access, literacy programs for adults and serves as a meeting place for community groups. DCPL is the first public library in the country to provide books on tape that are iPod and MP3 compatible. For more information on library hours, services and locations visit


OSCE Presses US for Full Congressional Voting Rights for DC
Timothy Cooper,

In a “Needs Assessment Mission Report” issued by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on July 28, the OSCE concluded that “[w]hile the United States of America has a long-standing tradition of democratic elections, several issues raised in previous OSCE/ODIHR reports, and those highlighted by OSCE/ODIHR NAM interlocutors, merit further attention.” Among those issues raised in previous OSCE reports is the continuing denial of full congressional representation to the nearly 600,000 residents of Washington, DC. In its last election observation report issued in 2006, the OSCE called on the US government to grant DC residents full congressional voting rights. The United States is obligated to guarantee full representation in Congress to the residents of the District of Columbia under the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document, to which it is a party.

The new report’s Executive Summary notes that “only citizens of states are entitled to vote for congressional representation with full voting rights, leaving approximately 600,000 US citizens in Washington, DC, alone without full representation in Congress. . . . ”

The latest report’s findings also state that “[a]ccording to the Constitution, United States citizens who are not citizens of one of the 50 states are not able to vote for members of Congress who have full voting rights in Congress. It is estimated that up to 600,000 citizens in Washington DC alone, without including citizens in US territories, are subject to US laws including taxation and permitted to vote in the presidential election, but cannot fully exercise their voting rights for Congressional representation.” The international human rights non-governmental organization Worldrights lobbied the OSCE/ODIHR for many years to draw its attention to the willful disenfranchisement of DC residents by Congress and the Executive Branch.


Response to Ed Barron
Anne C. Sullivan, ANC 3E05,

Ed Barron is either seriously misinformed or oblivious to the facts when he implies [themail, August 3] that Mayor Fenty’s and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s action in selecting LCOR to build 170 apartments on top of the Tenley-Friendship Library and Janney Elementary School’s soccer field will get us a new library quickly and will be a “green” move.

DCPL was ready to break ground this fall and planned to have the beautifully designed new branch open in the spring of 2010. Adding LCOR’s plan to the mix will delay this library branch by at least two more years beyond 2010. It will also waste the million dollars spent so far on achieving a first-class design that the Commission of Fine Arts labeled “a very strong concept;” “a building the whole neighborhood will be proud of;” and “an extremely intelligent and wonderful design.”

As to being green, try telling that to the elementary school students who will have their entire soccer field paved over for 170 apartments, a garage and driveway for more than two hundred cars right next to their school for the (less green than the planned library) apartments. Oh, and they’ll get a “replacement” field of less than half the area of the current field, and lose one of the two basketball courts to boot. But at least the kids will have some nice new neighbors close at hand, right, Ed?



Fun Family Films Under the Stars, August 8-10
John A. Stokes,

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 shown.

Friday, August 8, Carver/ Langston Terrace, 21st and Maryland Avenue, NE
Friday, August 8, Girard Park, 15th and Girard Street, NW
Saturday, August 9, Trinidad Recreation Center, 1310 Childress Street, NE
Saturday, August 9, Takoma Community Center, 300 Van Buren Street, NW
Sunday, August 10, Florida Park, 1st and Florida Avenue, NW



Marjorie Crockett,

I am looking for a gardener to help my yard in Northwest Washington recover from a couple months of necessary neglect. I pay $15/hour, and there’s plenty to be done. Please be in touch.


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