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.
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, email@example.com
Gary Imhoff says don’t be shy about sending endorsements of
candidates, so I won’t disappoint him. The DC Statehood Green Party
(http://www.dcstatehoodgreen.org) 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 (http://www.dcboee.org/information/elec_2006/general_2006_results.shtm).
David Schwartzman, a Howard University professor, is running for the
at-large seat on the council (http://www.davidschwartzman.com).
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 (http://www.statehood4dc.com/schwartzman/candidate_surveys),
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 (http://www.statehood4dc.com/home) 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 (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-state.php?ID=93).
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 (http://www.runcynthiarun.org).
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
DC Public Library Events, September 11, 13-15
George Williams, email@example.com
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
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,
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 http://www.nbm.org.
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
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
College Awareness Month Policy Forum, September 23
Kadidia Thiero, email@example.com
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
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 www.doublethenumbersdc.org.
Seating is limited. Please RSVP no later than Friday, September 19, to
Monica L. Freeman at MonicaL.Freeman@dc.gov.
For more information, call 724-2069.
Historic Hauntings Ghost Tours, October 17, 19, 24, 28 and November
3, 16, 23
Jazmine Zick, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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 http://www.nbm.org
or calling 272-2448.
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