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September 10, 2008


Dear Result Makers:

Patrick Mara has won the Republican primary for at-large councilmember. The implications are pretty clear, even for as incompetent and usually incorrect political prognosticator as me. Come January, there will be no Republicans on the city council. Carol Schwartz was personally popular citywide, and her popularity enabled her to win elections as a Republican in this overwhelmingly Democratic town. But with Mara’s victory over her, and with her being off the general election ticket, the at-large seat that she currently holds will almost certainly go to another Democrat who is running under the guise of an independent. That Democrat will most likely be Michael Brown, who this year is executing the William Lightfoot maneuver, named after the first council candidate who knocked a Republican off the city council by changing his registration from Democrat to independent and assuring voters that by electing him they would get an independent (wink-wink).

Partisan Democrats routinely complain that the city charter structures elections so that every two years each party can nominate only one candidate for the two at-large city councilmembers whose terms are up. This ensures that Democrats can’t hold all thirteen seats on the city council, and that at least two members — one at-large councilmember in each election — won’t be elected as Democrats. I take a different view; I don’t think that its good for the city to have one-party monopoly rule, completely shutting out minority party voices. It would be best if we were to have two or even three strong parties that would present strong challenges to each other. Since that isn’t likely to happen, I think that it’s a good thing that there is at least token room on the council for minority positions. Our current election structure has allowed Republicans and Statehood Party members to win elections, as well as independents who had previously been both Democrats and Republicans. And most of those councilmembers have been better than average on the councils on which they sat.

In the last issue of themail, I wondered about the Post’s endorsement of Mara over Schwartz: “But the Post, although it routinely denies its obvious political bias, is a liberal, Democratic paper. Why would it prefer a more conservative Republican candidate?” I noted that the Post’s editorial board wanted to get rid of any politician who would ask critical questions about and undertake independent oversight of Mayor Fenty’s takeover of the public schools, and that it believed Mara would be a faithful follower of Fenty. But with Mara’s nomination, the endorsement seems even more cynical. Since it practically ensures the election of a pseudo-independent Democrat to Schwartz’s current seat, it solidifies the near monopoly of the Democratic party over our city’s government.

Two other matters deserve at least brief mention: 1) Councilmember Phil Mendelson has outlined the amendments to DC’s gun laws that he will introduce, and they promise to bring those laws within at least striking distance of bringing DC into compliance with the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller. 2) Chancellor Michelle Rhee has fired Dr. Phyllis Harris, Deputy Chancellor of Special Education in the District of Columbia public schools. Rhee can try to place responsibility on Harris for the poor performance of special education programs in the past year, but Harris was Rhee’s personal choice for the position. Special education’s and Harris’s failures are inevitably a reflection on Rhee’s judgment.

Gary Imhoff


No Surprise
Dorothy Brizill,

On May 9, 2007, I wrote in themail about the surprise nomination of Charles Lowery to be the Chairman of the Board of Elections and Ethics, replacing Wilma Lewis. On October 14, 2007, I wrote about the nomination of Hiram Brewton to be a member of the BOEE, a nomination that was eventually allowed to die without a council vote. On February 24 of this year, I wrote about Errol Arthur’s nomination to be a member of the BOEE; and on May 21, I wrote about the surprise elevation of Arthur to be the Chairman of the Board, displacing Charles Lowery. On May 11 and May 21, I wrote about the resignations of two senior Board employees, its executive director Alice Miller and public and press relations officer Bill O’Field. On each of these occasions, I wrote about the increasing amount of disarray at the Board, and implied that this disarray — caused by Mayor Fenty’s churning of Board members and Chairmen — would eventually result in problems during an election.

There were problems during February’s presidential primary election, and the city council held a hearing on what went wrong at that election. Yesterday, there was another election, a local primary election for which fewer than 13 percent of voters turned out. It should have been an easy one for the Board of Elections to handle, but it wasn’t. Election officials are minimizing the problems, but the fact is that they weren’t ready to handle even a low-turnout election smoothly. Writing about the accumulating problems at the Board and testifying about them for the past few years has been discouraging. Few people, aside from Councilmember Carol Schwartz, paid attention as first Mayor Williams and then Mayor Fenty put their personal agendas ahead of ensuring that the Board of Elections was run well and competently.

Now, Council Chairman Vincent Gray has appointed a Special Committee to look into what went wrong with yesterday’s election. The special committee will be chaired by Councilmember Mary Cheh; its other members will be Councilmembers Phil Mendelson and Harry Thomas, Jr. That’s a start, but it’s not sufficient. To be effective, the special committee will have to look at not just what specific technical problems occurred yesterday, but also at what the major problems have been at the BOEE, both at the staff and Board levels. It will have to look at what laws, regulations, and practices of the Board need to be altered. It will have to make a strong recommendation to the mayor to return to the practice of the past two decades, when the Board functioned well, of refraining from political interference and manipulation of Board affairs. And it will have to strengthen the will of the entire council to scrutinize any future Board nominations more carefully, and to do more careful oversight of Board operations.


DC’s Second Party: Statehood Green Candidates
Scott McLarty,

Gary Imhoff says don’t be shy about sending endorsements of candidates, so I won’t disappoint him. The DC Statehood Green Party ( looks forward to maintaining its position as DC’s second party in terms of electoral clout this year. Statehood Green candidates have collectively received more votes than Republicans in recent elections for local partisan office, even when we’ve run the same number of candidates. In 2006, the five Statehood Green candidates drew a total of 47,421 votes, while the five Republicans received 32,658 votes ( David Schwartzman, a Howard University professor, is running for the at-large seat on the council ( Dave wants to save our public schools and libraries from the Federal City Council’s real-estate grab and privatization agenda, which Mayor Fenty and some councilmembers have been only too happy to serve. He’s also promoting local tax reform (relief for working folks, higher rates for DC’s wealthiest), Green jobs, and measures to reduce congestion and pollution and expand public transportation. See Dave’s detailed responses to various candidate questionnaires (, including one from the Sierra Club, which makes endorsements without publishing candidates’ responses.

The Green Party, of which the DC Statehood Green Party is an affiliate, is the only national party that endorses statehood for the District of Columbia. The Democratic Party deleted DC statehood from its national platform in 2004 and kept it off in 2008 at Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s request. Ms. Norton insists that we shouldn’t push for statehood and should only demand “DC vote” legislation, which would grant us a single voting seat in the US House. The job description for DC’s “Shadow” US House and Senate seats requires that our Representative and Senators lobby Congress for statehood. If the Democratic candidates for these offices obey Ms. Norton’s mandate, they’ll be delinquent in their duties. All of the Statehood Green candidates ( fully support statehood and have criticized DC’s Democratic Party establishment for dropping statehood in favor of the DC vote bill, which won’t alter the District’s colonial status or the second-class citizenship of DC residents ( Only statehood will provide genuine self-determination, self-government, freedom from Congress’s control over our laws and finances, and the two Senators and one Rep that all other Americans enjoy. The Statehood Green candidates for the US House and Senate are Joyce Robinson-Paul and Keith Ware. Maude Hills, who many of us know as Louise Thundercloud, is challenging Ms. Norton for her nonvoting delegate seat. A good Election Day percentage for Louise will inform Ms. Norton that we don’t accept compromises and bargains on the question of DC democracy. Finally, presidential and VP candidates Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente will be on the Statehood Green ballot lines ( If you’d like to vote for Ms. McKinney and Ms. Clemente — America’s first all women-of-color presidential ticket — but you’re afraid you’ll damage Barack Obama’s chances, have no fear. Mr. Obama will win an easy majority here and take all DC’s Electoral College votes. Voting for Ms. McKinney and Ms. Clemente will help build DC’s second party, which doesn’t take money from corporate PACs and lobbies and won’t back down on the rights and well-being of all DC residents.


The Single Sales Ban
Laurie Collins,

Contrary to the opinion of our Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner [themail, September 7], there is overwhelming public support in Mount Pleasant for Bill B17-0903, prohibiting the sale of single containers of alcohol, and the community thanks Councilmember Graham who has supported our efforts on this issue over the past eight years. ANC 1D is free to disagree; however, it is the minority. Jack McKay said the ANC’s reasons for wanting Mount Pleasant to be excluded from the ban are because:

1) Such single sales bans do not mitigate the problem of public drinking, but merely persuade abusers to take their behavior to nearby neighborhoods. First, the moratorium reduced the problem of public drinking in Mt. Pleasant dramatically. Second, the Mt. Pleasant ANC has opinions but no evidence denoting any increase that abusers have taken their behavior to nearby neighborhoods. In fact, neither the Adams Morgan nor the Columbia Heights ANC s has seen the need for a single sales moratorium. And third, single sale moratoriums were never intended to cure alcoholism-they were intended to reduce public drinking. It is very important to keep these two issues separate. There is probably nobody in Mount Pleasant who is not grateful for the services of Neighbors Consejo, an organization that was founded specifically to address the social and psychological effects of alcohol on alcohol abusers in our community and to provide them assistance to break their dependency. Neighbors Consejo continues to do an admirable job, even as it faces cuts in funding.

2) A legal ban would prevent any trial suspension of the existing ban to find out if it is today really beneficial. A Mt. Pleasant resident posted this response to the ANC’s position on the community discussion forum: “I don’t know that we rank and file residents benefit from bringing back public drunkenness based on a theory of social justice. Is Mt. Pleasant to suffer in a form of protest? Until the problems of homelessness and substance abuse are addressed in a meaningful way by the city, we will bear our brunt of it?” None of our ANC commissioners are substance abuse professionals, but they adamantly state that the single sale moratorium merely pushes the behavior to nearby neighborhoods. Just what benefits would they like Mount Pleasant to reap by recreating the environment that would bring alcohol abuse and public drinking back to our streets?

3) A recent George Washington University statistical analysis of alcohol-related calls for police service before and after the imposition of the singles ban in Ward Four showed no decrease due to the ban. This is not true for Mt. Pleasant. Our calls for service in 2000 went from around 1,500 calls to 650 calls for service in 2008. Our community experienced visual improvements; the support of business owners who used to sell singles; and enhanced economic investment after the ban went into effect. More importantly, no one went out of business from not selling singles.

Rather than antagonize its constituents at every turn, ANC 1D should become partners and sponsor the positive efforts of Neighbors Consejo and its Director, Alfredo Enriquez-Morales, who is making a difference in the Mount Pleasant community, providing the exact services the ANC suggests are lacking. While it is true that ANCs’ positions are given “great weight,” they are merely advisory in nature. ANC 1D does not offer persuasive evidence or any rationale that would, under the circumstances, compel the removal of the language that relates to the Mount Pleasant ban from Bill B17-0903.



DC Public Library Events, September 11, 13-15
George Williams,

Thursday, September 11, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Great Hall. Adult Literacy Volunteer Fair. An estimated 37 percent of the District’s adult population read at or below a third-grade level. This means that more than a third of the city’s residents may have difficulty managing the daily tasks that require reading. The public is invited to find out how to help an adult learn to read, prepare for the GED exam or learn English. Representatives from several adult education providers will be on hand to provide information about their programs, needs and training requirements. The event is sponsored by the DC Public Library in partnership with DC Learns. For more information contact 727-2431.

Thursday, September 11, 11:00 a.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Adaptive Services Division, Room 215. Talking Book Club. Members of the DC Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped adult book club will discuss the book, My Lord, What a Morning: An Autobiography by Marion Anderson. For more information, call 727-2142.

Saturday, September 13. 2:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Great Hall. Author Evie Rhodes will discuss her new novel, Street Vengeance. A book signing will follow the program.

Sunday, September 14, 2:00 p.m. Capitol View Neighborhood Library, 5001 Central Avenue, SE. Sunday Afternoon Jazz.

Monday, September 15, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Second Floor, East Lobby. All the World’s a Stage Film Club: Reel History, Real Lives. Film screening for September 29 book discussion will be Plymouth Adventure.


National Building Museum Events, September 12, 14-15
Jazmine Zick,

All events except Construction Watch Tours at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at

Friday, September 12, 7:00-8:30 p.m. David M. Schwarz Architects: Creating Community Through a Collaborative Process. For thirty years, David M. Schwarz Architects has created civic-minded architecture — from concert halls to stadiums and master plans — and collaborated with dynamic leaders to design places that enrich and inspire. A panel, featuring David Schwarz, Edward P. Bass, Gary Hanson, and moderator Paul Goldberger, will celebrate the firm’s remarkable thirty-year milestone. A book signing follows the event. $12 Member; $12 Student; $20 Nonmember. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability

Sunday, September 14, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Inter-school Student Design Competition Design Charrette. Ever wonder what architecture students do all day? Come find out as teams of students from Washington, DC’s four schools with accredited programs in architecture — The Catholic University of America, Howard University, Virginia Tech Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, and the University of Maryland — participate in a day-long design competition in the Museum’s Great Hall. Free. Drop-in program.

Monday, September 15, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Building for the 21st Century: LED Cities: Investing in the Future. David Konkle, Energy Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan, discusses the city’s plans to promote LED lighting technology across its infrastructure. Free. Registration not required.

Monday, September 15, 5:00-6:00 p.m. Inter-school Student Design Competition Awards Ceremony. Come see the results of the design charrette held at the Museum on September 14, when local architecture students present their design at a public award ceremony. Free. Registration not required.

Monday, September 15, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Spotlight on Design: Weiss/Manfredi. Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, founding partners of the New York-based firm Weiss/Manfredi, discuss their work, which includes the Olympic Sculpture Park for the Seattle Art Museum. Following the lecture, they will sign copies of their latest book, Surface/Subsurface (Princeton Architectural Press). $12 Member; $12 Student; $20 Nonmember. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.


College Awareness Month Policy Forum, September 23
Kadidia Thiero,

You are invited to the College Awareness Month Policy Forum, State-Level Strategies for Supporting a College-Going Culture, on Tuesday, September 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Bell Multicultural Senior High School, Auditorium, 3101 16th Street, NW (Metro: Columbia Heights Metro Station, Green and Yellow Lines).

The 2006 Double the Numbers report – a research effort supported by the DC College Access Network, the DC State Education Office, DCPS, and the DC Education Compact — painted a stark picture: 43 percent of District of Columbia public school students who started ninth grade in 2001 graduated from high school, and only 9 percent completed college in five years. Those rates are far below the national average and unreasonable in a society where an estimated two-thirds of new jobs will require some education after high school. Increasing college awareness — and subsequently college-going and college success rates — is among the major priorities of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

Please join the OSSE and special guests as we discuss the policies and strategies that states across the country are implementing to increase college awareness, college going and college success among their students. The Policy Forum will focus on 1) what students need to know to be “college ready” and how states are aligning high school standards to college expectations, 2) state-funded financial aid programs that help make college affordable and accessible to all students, and 3) statewide college awareness campaigns that help every student know that they are college material. Speakers include Laura Slover, Vice President of Content and Policy Research at Achieve; Michelle A. Cooper, President of the Institute for Higher Education Policy; and Melanie Corrigan, Director of National Initiatives at the American Council on Education, and Project Director of KnowHow2Go. This Policy Forum is one of a series of events brought to you by the College Awareness Month Coalition. For a list of members visit Seating is limited. Please RSVP no later than Friday, September 19, to Monica L. Freeman at For more information, call 724-2069.


Historic Hauntings Ghost Tours, October 17, 19, 24, 28 and November 3, 16, 23
Jazmine Zick,

All tours at 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. The National Building Museum will turn into a mysterious, foreboding place after dark this fall for the Historic Hauntings Ghost Tours. Brave souls are taken on hour-long tours led by the ghost of Mary Surratt, coconspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Visitors are led by the light of a lantern through the Museum’s dark hallways, spooky basement, and up to the fourth floor balcony, which reaches 75 feet high. Along the way, Surratt reveals stories of the other ghosts who share her space, including an irritable horseback rider and mysterious faces in the Corinthian columns.

Recommended for ages ten and up. $12 for Museum members, $18 for nonmembers. Prepaid registration is required. Registration for members opens Friday, September 5 and nonmember registration opens Friday, September 12. Register by visiting or calling 272-2448.


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