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September 14, 2008


Dear Clarifiers:

All right, I understand how perspicuity differs from perspicacity, but how exactly does perspicacity differ from percipience? Please, perceptive correspondents, explain it in simple terms so that I can see it clearly.

By the time most of you have read this, Dorothy and I will be back in town, but we’ve been in New York for the past several days for her aunt’s funeral. Being back in New York, where Dorothy was born and grew up, strengthens our conviction that DC is the place to live. New York is more stylish? That’s an outdated stereotype. The women on the street in DC are much more attractive and better dressed. New York has more culture? Well, it is bigger, so it has more theaters, but our museums and universities rival NYC’s. New York is the center of communications? Sure — it reports on the news that is made in Washington. DC’s drivers are bad? In New York, constantly weaving between lanes and cutting other drivers short is considered a sign of driving skill. New York has better ethnic neighborhoods? Well, when themail’s readers were attending Adams-Morgan Day, Dorothy and I were at Little Italy’s San Gennaro festival, and San Gennaro isn’t what it used to be. For every booth offering seafood from Umberto’s Clam House or desserts from Ferrara’s, there was a booth serving Greek or Hispanic food. That’s an Italian street festival? Not to mention the dirt, the rudeness, and so on.

You should be glad I’m writing about the District of Columbia. If I were writing about New York, I’d really be grouchy.

Gary Imhoff


Another Tenant Emergency
Andrew Willis Garces,

This year Mayor Fenty has been lauded for responding to the crisis in rental housing administration laid bare by a March 10 Washington Post expose by Debbie Cenziper. Part of this response has included, in the last two months, laying off housing inspectors, decreasing the amount of tenant purchase funding available to low-income tenant associations, and firing respected rent administrator Grayce Wiggins, who sided with the Kennedy-Warren tenants against politically connected property manager Barac Co. earlier this year. The march towards reform continued this week with the notice that the tenant organizers who worked with Cenziper for months to document DCRA’s failings will likely be laid off on October 1, following the Department of Housing and Community Development’s refusal to renew contracts with the two largest tenant education service agencies.

This year alone, with funding from DHCD, Housing Counseling Services and the Latino Economic Development Corporation have provided critical services to tenants in 163 buildings with more than 13,600 units. At all of these properties, the tenants are presently at risk of, or have just recently avoided being displaced and losing the affordability of their homes. Many have project-based Section 8 contracts, and some are at critical points in the tenant purchase process. An appeal from HCS executive director Marian Siegel sent this week reads, in part, “We are currently working with 115 properties that need support from attorneys, educators, developers and others as we will no longer have staff necessary to meet these needs.”

It is inarguable that tenant education and organizing has been the most effective and probably the cheapest anti-displacement strategy funded by the city government, particularly in Columbia Heights and other neighborhoods hit hardest by the housing boom. Tenant rights laws are, after all, useless if tenants aren’t familiar with them. As a former District tenant organizer myself, I can attest to the widespread ignorance of tenant rights among residents of subsidized housing. You can send comments on this plan to DHCD’s director, the mayor, deputy mayor, and city council housing committee chair:,,, and And please send copies of your E-mails to and


Why Did Carol Schwartz Lose?
Bryce A. Suderow,

Why did Carol Schwartz lose? Was her defeat a continuation of the revolt that threw Patterson out of office? Or are the younger residents who moved here in the past few years voting for Mara because he’s closer to their age than Schwartz? What do people think?


Teachable Moment for Blind and Visually Impaired Students
Candi Peterson,

Approximately one month ago WUSA Channel 9 covered a story about Denise Hamilton, a teacher who is blind and was fired by the District of Columbia Public Schools in June 2008. The letter terminating her was not sent in Braille as required. Ms. Hamilton continues to fight for her job as a teacher of visually impaired students at Sharpe Health School. She has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and is represented by the Washington Teachers’ Union.

Blind teachers in our DC public school system are treated as badly as DC students with disabilities. Far too often members of both groups are not afforded the accommodations they are required under the 504 Rehabilitation Act and the American Disabilities Act. In this case, Ms. Hamilton’s classification was mistakenly changed by what some describe as the inept DC central office from a Braille teacher (certified) to a special education teacher. In response to this challenge, Ms. Hamilton returned to school to get a second certification in special education. She even hired her own “reader” to read the praxis test to her and failed the test by 1 point. Check out the link below as she discusses the difficulties in completing a test particularly, when everything is read to you. The million dollar question is whether DCPS will hire her back and make her whole again. After all, Ms. Hamilton is a certified Braille teacher and due to no fault of her own was terminated by DCPS due to human error. In my mind, the real travesty in this situation is the harm that has been done to our blind and visually impaired students in DCPS who regard Denise Hamilton as their role model. I salute you, Ms. Hamilton, and best of luck to you in your challenge on behalf of your DC students. Check out this link for the full story:


Victory Overseas
Arthur B. Spitzer, ACLU of the National Capital Area, artspitzer at

On September 11, the Supreme Court of Guam issued its decision in the case of Guam Greyhound, Inc., and John Baldwin v. Dorothy Brizill. A local newspaper’s front page headline reported the next day, “Landmark Decision Expands Free Speech.” Faithful readers of themail will recall that in 2006, Dorothy Brizill was sued in the Superior Court of Guam by John Baldwin, the sponsor of a ballot initiative that would have legalized slot machine gambling at the dog-racing track he owned on Guam. Mr. Baldwin was also the financial backer of the proposed 2004 and 2006 initiatives to legalize slot machines here in DC. Dorothy and others blocked the 2004 initiative by showing that thousands of petition signatures had been improperly gathered, and blocked the 2006 initiative by showing that it violated a federal law. Mr. Baldwin’s lawsuit against Dorothy was based on her statements, in a telephone interview with a Guam radio station, about what happened here in DC. The lawsuit alleged that Dorothy defamed Mr. Baldwin, invaded his privacy, and interfered with his “prospective business advantage.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area represented Dorothy, because we felt this was an abusive lawsuit, targeting her perfectly legitimate speech — and because there is not (yet) an ACLU office on Guam. Happily, Guam has a statute, called the “Citizen Participation in Government Act,” that provides protection even broader than the First Amendment provides to political speech, and that provides procedural mechanisms to enable the quick dismissal of cases targeting political speech. Based on that law, the Superior Court dismissed the case in 2007, and last week the Guam Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that decision. Mr. Baldwin argued that Dorothy was not protected by the Guam law because she spoke only to inform the voters of Guam about the facts, and did not urge them to vote for or against his ballot measure. But the Supreme Court agreed with us that her speech came within the statute’s broad definition.

Mr. Baldwin then argued that the Guam law was itself unconstitutional because it deprived him of the right to sue for compensation even if a person said things about him that the person knew were false and harmful. But the court agreed with us that the legislature of a state or territory has the authority to limit the grounds on which lawsuits can be brought in the courts of that state or territory. This ruling should mark the end of the case. However, because Mr. Baldwin argued that the Guam law infringed on his constitutional rights, he may ask the United States Supreme Court to review the decision. Stay tuned.


DC Election Irregularities
Ted Gest,

Beyond this week’s DC election fiasco, has anyone focused on the fact that, at least in my experience, no one asks for ID at the polling stations. As far as I can determine, I can vote by using anyone’s name and address (as long as I know that the person is registered in a place that votes at the given precinct). This seems to be a huge loophole in our procedures. (I assume I’d have to use a man’s name — maybe I’d be queried if I used a woman’s).

According to the Associated Press, “A federal law that took effect January 1, 2006, requires states to build a voter registration list and check it against other state databases to confirm identities.” But this only works, of course, if you also check ID at the polls. Anyone know whether DC pays any attention to this?


Young America: Something to Be Proud Of
Kerry Stowell,

Take a look around you and feel proud. It’s young America . . . your young America and mine. Take a look at the political volunteers of the last local elections. Polite, energetic, clean and cleaned up . . . new faces . . . new energy. Take a look at the multiple Apple/Mac stores in any state in the USA, and you will find a group of the most intelligent and patient-with-customers early-20’s boys and girls. And let us not forget the Starbucks crowd. Fabulous. “A latte? No? Oh, my mistake, I’ll make you the Americana that you wanted. No problem.” I mean, where did they learn this? Is it company leadership? Perhaps. But I think something else is operating.

Some time ago, manners and courtesies changed. Uniforms became dungarees. There was an emphasis on cash and cost rather than service, and service had nothing to do with style. And now we are seeing a turnaround, with service as the style de jour. Many of these same youngsters have traveled abroad and met youngsters from other countries. They have heard the negative opinions about the USA, and they did not like it. These young men and women have found a way to have it all. To work in a free country at a specific company that offers respect, teaches respect, and insists on respect.

Take notice, America. Cherish it. Appreciate it. Realize it is happening. Realize also that this will be the face of America in the coming years. God bless them. God Bless America.


Single Sales Bans Continued
Jack McKay,

Laurie Collins, the author of the single sales ban that has prevailed in Mount Pleasant for close to eight years, displays the reluctance of ban proponents to admit that such bans merely push problem drinkers out of one neighborhood and into another. The ban, she writes in themail, September 10, “reduced the problem of public drinking in Mt. Pleasant dramatically,” and the ANC has “no evidence denoting any increase that abusers have taken their behavior to nearby neighborhoods.” Well, if the ban didn’t make the abusers go elsewhere, did it cure them of their alcohol problems? No; “single sale moratoriums were never intended to cure alcoholism — they were intended to reduce public drinking.” Okay, so the ban doesn’t cure alcoholics, and if it doesn’t make them go elsewhere, then how, exactly, is “the problem of public drinking” reduced?

As a Mount Pleasant resident testified at the July 11 council hearing, “they went away, and we don’t see them any more.” This is really beyond reasonable dispute: the ban makes the problem drinkers take their bad behavior elsewhere, out of my neighborhood, and perhaps into yours. It’s rather like my curing my backyard rat problem by my driving them into your back yard, rather than doing something to eliminate the rats. The result might be nice for me, but it’s hardly a valid public solution to the problem.


September InTowner
P.L. Wolfe,

This is to advise that the September 2008 on-line edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials (including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’ also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature (the accompanying images can be seen in the archived PDF version). The complete issue (along with prior issues back to January 2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link in the Current & Back Issues Archive. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in print, including all photos and advertisements.

The next issue will publish on October 10 (the second Friday of the month, as always). The complete PDF version will be posted by the preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter. To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “Shaw and Mt. Vernon Neighborhoods Finally to See Actual Groundbreaking for Long Awaited, New Watha T. Daniel Branch Library Building”; 2) “Two of Kalorama Park’s Oldest Oak Trees Cut Down by DC — Neighbors Agitated”; 3) “Adams Morgan Day Festival Set for Sunday, Sept. 14.”



Historical Society Events, September 15-17
Ed Bruske,

Monday, September 15, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff. Join the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) in the kickoff of Hispanic Heritage Month programs. The morning will begin with a special invitation-only breakfast for Latino seniors. From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. all activities are free and open to the public. Several musical and dancing groups from Central and South America will perform on the grounds of the Historical Society and various embassies will display indigenous arts and crafts. The documentary film, Through Our Eyes, 30 Years of the DC Latino Story will be shown at 12 noon in the theater. Produced for OLA by Maya Advertising and Communications, this 26 minute film covers the immigration wave of Central Americans to Washington, DC, and their struggles as well as their civic engagement to address discrimination and create the DC Office on Latino Affairs to represent the community within the government. (A program collaboration of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) and The Historical Society of Washington, DC.) For the entire family. or 383-1828. Admission free.

Tuesday, September 16, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Tango lessons and cocktails, free “The Tango is the easiest dance. If you make a mistake and get tangled up, you just Tango on.” (Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.) Tango (the dance with the stop “Baille Con Carte”) is one of the most fascinating of all dances. Originating in Spain or Morocco, the Tango was introduced to the New World by the Spanish settlers, eventually coming back to Spain with black and Creole influences. In the early nineteenth century, the Tango was a solo dance performed by the woman. The Andalusian Tango was later done by one or two couples walking together using castanets. The dance was soon considered immoral with its flirtatious music! Ballroom Tango originated in the lower class area of Buenos Aires, especially in the “Bario de las Ranas”. Clothing was dictated by full skirts for the woman and gauchos with high boots and spurs for the man. Join us and learn to dance Tango from a professional instructor while you enjoy cocktails with your friends. For more information, contact the Office on Latino Affairs at 617-2825. (A program collaboration of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) and The Historical Society of Washington, DC.) or 383-1828. or 383-1828.

Wednesday, September 17, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Salsa lessons and cocktails, free. Learn to dance Salsa from a professional instructor while you enjoy cocktails with your friends. Salsa refers to a fusion of informal dance styles having roots in the Caribbean (especially in Cuba and Puerto Rico), Latin and North America. The dance originated through the mixture of Mambo, Danzón, Guaguancó, Cuban Son, and other typical Cuban dance forms. Salsa is danced to Salsa music. There is a strong African influence in the music as well as the dance. For more information contact the Office on Latino Affairs at 617-2825. (A program collaboration of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) and The Historical Society of Washington, DC.) or 383-1828. All events at the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square.


National Building Museum Events, September 17-18
Jazmine Zick,

Wednesday, September 17, 6:30-8:00 p.m. For the Greener Good: World Leaders on Sustainability. From congestion pricing to innovative transit corridor development, leaders from Stockholm, Sweden, and Curitiba, Brazil discuss how they are leading the charge to create a more sustainable planet. During the program, The Home Depot Foundation will present its fourth annual Awards of Excellence for Affordable Housing Built Responsibly and its Visionary Award for Outstanding Leadership in Affordable Housing Built Responsibly. $12 Member; Free Student; $20 Nonmember. Special series price! $35 Member; $60 Nonmember. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability

Thursday, September 18, Greening the World’s Capital Cities: The Changing Face of Capital Cities, 9:00-11:30 a.m. Examine the effect of green design on world-class architecture and public spaces. Building a City that Fosters our Green Goals, 1:00-2:30 p.m. Discover how green planning can help national capitals become models for the best urbanism their countries have to offer. National Capital Planning Commission Chairman John V. Cogbill, III and Executive Director Marcel Acosta will provide closing remarks. Free. Registration required. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


DC Public Library Events, September 16-18
George Williams,

Tuesday, September 16, 3:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, New Popular Library, Room 110. Shades of Black Book Club. Discuss the book Love and Lies by Kimberla Lawson Roby.

Next month’s selection: The First Lady by Carl Weber.

Tuesday, September 16, 12:30 p.m. West End Neighborhood Library, 1101 24th Street, NW. West End Book Club.

Tuesday, September 16, 6:30 p.m., Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 Seventh Street, SE. Capitol Hill Nonfiction Book Club. Discussion of recent nonfiction titles.

Tuesday, September 16, 7:30 p.m. Palisades Neighborhood Library, 4901 V Street, NW. Palisades Library Book Club

Wednesday, September 17, 7:00 p.m., Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Interim Library, 945 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Book Club Meeting. Discussion of the book, Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara.

Wednesday, September 17, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Great Hall. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton will make deliver a keynote address in celebration of Constitution Day. Norton, a longtime supporter of libraries, will acknowledge the DC Public Library as one of three thousand libraries across the nation to receive an award through the We the People Bookshelf program.

Thursday, September 18, 6:30 p.m., Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Eleanor Herman will discuss her book, Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope. A book sale and signing, courtesy of the Trover Shop, will follow the program.


Fun Family Films Under the Stars, September 19-21
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, September 19, Langdon Park Recreation Center, 2901 20th Street, NE
Saturday, September 20, Brentwood Recreation Center, 2311 14th Street, NE
Sunday, September 21, Carver/ Langston Terrace, 21st and Maryland Avenue, NE



Fundraising Training Scholarships for DC Groups
Patricia Pasqual,

Scholarships are available for full-day fundraising training seminars at the Foundation Center, Washington, DC. Partial scholarships are now available to enable representatives of under-resourced nonprofits serving Washington, DC, to attend our upcoming full-day training seminars. If you represent a nonprofit organization based in and serving the Washington, DC, area with a budget under $1,000,000 you are eligible to apply. Nonprofit organizations may receive up to two scholarships per application cycle.

This initiative is designed to assist small, community-based nonprofit organizations in building their internal capacity for seeking financial support from foundations, corporations, or other grantmakers. The application deadline is September 22, to attend any seminar from November 2008 through January 2009. Don’t miss this valuable opportunity; apply today! For an application and more information contact The Foundation Center, Washington, DC at 331-1400 x4060 or visit


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