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October 1, 2008


Dear Constant Bloomers:

I’ve spouted off, below, in response to a posting by Norman Metzger, so I’ll forego writing anything annoying here. Thanks for your advice about azaleas. Has anyone had any experience with Encore azaleas, hybrid varieties that are supposed to bloom twice or even three times a year?

Newly posted on DCWatch are Sequoia Voting Systems' report to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics on what may or may not have gone wrong at the September 9 primary,,  and the internal report of the BOEE on that election,

Gary Imhoff


Fiesta DC Snarls Traffic in Mount Pleasant
Bill Mosley,

For this past Sunday’s Fiesta DC, Mount Pleasant Street, NW, was closed from Park Road all the way to Columbia Road, closing down Irving Street, a major through street and route into and out of the neighborhood. This resulted in Mount Pleasant residents, visitors and delivery drivers having difficulty getting into the neighborhood if they could get there at all. We had a scheduled grocery delivery that never arrived after police turned away the driver several times. Last year’s Fiesta also caused headaches; we were returning home from the airport in a taxicab that had to stop several blocks from our house, from which point we had to drag our luggage home. A number of other neighborhood residents or their visitors had similar problems. To our knowledge, there was no notice given to residents of the disruptions to traffic. In addition to the closure of Mount Pleasant Street. and cross streets, police turned away cars as far as three blocks away. Previous street festivals in the neighborhood, including the now-defunct Celebrate Mount Pleasant festival, kept Irving Street open, preserving some degree of access to and through the southern half of the neighborhood — and provided four continuous blocks of festival space, while running the festival all the way to Columbia adds only two more blocks. I hope our ANC will insist on better traffic management for future events.


Absentee Ballot — Not
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

It appears that I won’t be voting in the General Election this year despite filling out all the proper forms and submitting them, via mail, to the DC Board of Elections in late August. I have made two follow-up phone calls to the Board of Elections and was routed to “Darlene,” who seems always to be unavailable and requires that you leave a voice mail message. My messages of September 26 and 27 were very clear: “I’ll be away from DC from October 20 until after the fourth of November. When will I receive my absentee ballot? Please call me back.” Haven’t heard a peep from “Darlene” or anyone else in the Board of Elections. No news is bad news, and seems typical of most of the bureaucracies in the DC government.


Test Firing
Dorothy Brizill,

On Monday evening, the District’s Zoning Commission held a public hearing to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Heller case and “finalize regulations pertaining to the location of firearm retail sales establishments and the sale of firearms as an accessory use within another retail establishment such as a pawn shop, department store, or sporting good store” (Case No. 08-20,

Only three public witnesses attended the hearing — Mitchell Berger, a former lawyer in the Enforcement Division of DCRA; Councilmember Phil Mendelson, chairman of the city council’s Judiciary Committee; and myself. Mendelson’s testimony,, was particularly well researched and thoughtful, and prompted the Zoning Commission to direct the Office of Planning to review its draft regulations. Even though the regulations siting firearm retail establishments will be likely to have an impact on neighborhoods across the District, to ward councilmember or Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner attended the hearing or offered testimony.

Comments on the proposed regulations can be submitted until October 27, when the record will close. The Zoning Commission will hold its final deliberations in the case at a special meeting on November 20 at 6:00 p.m.


The Doughnut Not the Hole
Norman Metzger,

From a newsletter by a group that offers support for a DC elementary school: “Chancellor Rhee has met her promises by repainting the building, furnishing it with new lighting, and funding music, art, and physical education teachers. . . . Chancellor Rhee is to be congratulated for making changes which will give the school a better chance to improve.”

I suspect many other schools can tell the same story. And I wonder if we ever heard stories like this when the DCPS had revolving door leadership, a dysfunctional school board, and was competitive [to be] the worst system in the country, and in cost per student the most expensive?

[The answer to Norman’s question is, “Yes.” DC schools have been repainted in the past (although Mayor Fenty did make a significant initial lump-sum increase in the money available for physical repairs of the schools in order to make his takeover look effective), and schools have had music, art, and physical education teachers before Rhee became Chancellor. Sorry, but I’m not that easily impressed. Public school parents know that they had better praise Chancellor Rhee if the schools perform normally, because they can expect retaliation if they criticize or question her. Do Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso and Councilmember Tommy Wells claim that they were dysfunctional school board members on a dysfunctional school board? Have the competitive ratings for DC’s public schools improved? Hasn’t the per-pupil cost of public school education increased significantly under Rhee? I have criticized the DC Public School system for years, but the way for Rhee to show that she is improving education is to improve education, not to denigrate the DC schools the way she denigrates older, experienced DC teachers. — Gary Imhoff]


Slimming DC Government in Light of the Projected Fiscal Shortfall
David Schwartzman,

First, the rainy day money should be used to cover any deficits, and to prevent cuts in the already austere FY 2009 budget, which shortchanges middle- and low-income people in DC. Mayor Fenty dipped into the rainy day fund to cover the escalating costs of the youth summer job program; he should do likewise now to avoid hurtful budget cuts. The rainy day fund now has about $200 million left, according to a source in the DC Fiscal Policy Institute.

And yes, there should be cuts in the FY2009 budget, such as: a) the subsidies to the corporate sector should be looked out, with corporate earmarks (e.g., $50 million to Verizon/MCI) at the top of the list for elimination. b) Collect rent from the baseball stadium owners! c) Start using District property for District functions instead of renting space (Empower DC estimates some $110 million/year is paid out for such rentals). d) The $484 million in special funds hidden in the budget must be revealed and critically examined for potential cuts in corporate welfare.

But given the now depression conditions for so many of our residents, the social service budget must be increased, not cut, i.e., we need more funds for a whole lot of programs such as the Housing Production Trust Fund, TANF (directly linked to child poverty), Local Rent Supplement Program, child care, job training, substance abuse treatment etc. The Fair Budget Coalition proposed some $200 million in additional funding for this budget, with modest improvements, and very little was approved, with the budget not even keeping up with inflation. And are more funds now needed in our school budget to hire more teachers? We still need a sustainable revenue stream from individual and corporate taxes. We should at least make our regressive DC tax structure for families and individuals both progressive and more capable of meeting this challenge by taxing those who can most afford to pay, not the middle/working class now sinking closer to poverty. Maryland has hiked their income tax rate for millionaires. Why can’t our DC Democrats on the council and our mayor support the same here, now? A modest tax hike for the top 1 to 5 percent of DC residents will generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in additional revenue. (By the way, I’m running for a city council At-Large seat on the DC Statehood Green ticket. Our web sites, and, discuss these ideas in greater detail.)


Cost Savings
Tonya M. Butler-Truesdale,

I think the District of Columbia would realize the greatest savings by keeping a closer eye on contracting and procurement, even though there are raves about the new Director. There is still great waste due to noncompetitive bidding.


David Bardin,

When we owned a house and garden, I loved deciduous azaleas, some of which are fragrant, to complement the more common evergreens. There is a native variety of deciduous azalea (sorry, don’t remember the name) that has orange blooms and grows well and easily. When I walk past our old house I see that bush still thriving more than years after planting.

The National Arboretum has experts, expertise, and a myriad of examples. It also hosts an annual exhibit and sale by the local azalea (or rhododendron) society. During that event one can hear lay and professional speakers and discuss issues face to face.


Azalea Buying Recommendation from Washington Consumers’ Checkbook
Kent Slowinski,


Azaleas at the National Arboretum
Mary Melchior,

I’d recommend contacting the National Arboretum on azalea ideas. It is a wonderful place here in town that seems to be a secret to many. The have a huge azalea collection and I’m sure that they’d have recommendations. When the city starts turning to fall colors you should stop by the Bonsai garden to see the deciduous bonsai arrayed in their fall glory.

Thanks for keeping pressure on our elected officials to stay honest. Now if only we can do something about her Majesty the Chancellor.

[Kristina Jones,, also recommended contacting the azalea specialist at the National Arboretum. — Gary Imhoff]


No Azaleas
Wendy Maiorana,

All I can say about azaleas is that they are beautiful for maybe two weeks of each year; then they turn brown and are ugly for the rest of the year. We just got rid of all of ours (which we inherited when we bought our house) and replaced them with evergreen shrubs. Also, they need lots of sun.


Brookland Heartbeat September-October Issue Now Available
Abigail Padou,

The September/October issue of Brookland Heartbeat is now available. Articles and features in this issue include: Ward 5 Groups Left Behind in $48 Million Grant Hand-Outs, Brooklanders Struggle to Make Voices Heard, CUA Sees Spike in Liquor Violations, M&S Barber Comes Through Again for Brookland Kids, Brookland Boasts “First Friend,” and more. Brookland Heartbeat is mailed to more than 9,500 homes in the greater Brookland area. Brookland Heartbeat is also on the web at Brookland Heartbeat is a nonprofit, all-volunteer community newspaper. To be added to the E-mail distribution list, send your E-mail address to



DC Public Library Events, October 2-4
George Williams,

Thursday, October 2, 2:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Room 221. Let’s Talk about Books. Discuss Long Day’s Journey into Night, a play by Eugene O’ Neill. Next month’s selection: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petersen.

Thursday, October 2, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Auditorium A-5. Brown Bag Recital Series. Music of Schubert performed by cellist Vasily Popov and pianist Ralitza Patheva.

Saturday, October 4, 1:00 p.m., Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library. Warm winter energy savings. Learn how to conserve energy and save money with Energy Specialist Charles Satterfield from the District Department of Environment, Energy Division.

Saturday, October 4, 11:00 a.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Room 221. Deaf Characters in Literature: What Do We Know? Librarian Diana Gates from Gallaudet University will discuss deaf characters in literature.

Saturday, October 4, 11:00 a.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Room 200. Braille Book Club for Kids, Discuss Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.


The Greedy Triangle, October 7
Jazmine Zick,

Tuesday, October 7, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Family Program: Book of the Month: The Greedy Triangle. Readings at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Join us in the Building Zone for a special interactive reading of The Greedy Triangle written by Marilyn Burns. Learn basic math while finding out what happens when a bored triangle visits a local shape-shifter to add more angles to his shape. Free. Drop-in program, recommended for ages 3 to 5. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.


Historical Society of Washington, DC, October 9
Ed Bruske,

Thursday, October 9, 12:00 p.m. High Noon Film: Calle 54. Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission. “Calle 54,’ named after New York’s 54th street where most of the studio filming was done, is a gift from director Fernando Trueba (“Belle Epoque”) to lovers of Latin Jazz everywhere. The film features ninety minutes of music by some of the idiom’s finest artists with bonus material including a director’s voice over offering brief commentary and bio’s on the featured artists and interviews which trace the origins of Latin jazz in general and Afro-Cuban jazz specifically. Artistry includes la musica picante of Tito Puente in his final weeks to the haunting sax of Gato Barbieri. However, such notables as Arturo Sandoval, Poncho Sanchez, etc. more were not included leaving plenty of room and yearning for another installment. A must see/hear for Latin jazz lovers. For the entire family. (A program collaboration of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) and The Historical Society of Washington, DC.) or 383-1828.


Economic Stimulus Payment Filing Assistance, October 11
Teresa Hinze,

On October 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, the DC Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign will host a free tax assistance session for residents who need help filing for the Economic Stimulus Payment (ESP), have questions about the payment, want to help a relative or friend file, or need help filing a normal tax return for 2007 or before.

Given the economic environment and the upcoming October 15 deadline to file for the Economic Stimulus Payment, it is crucial that we reach the fifteen thousand eligible DC residents who have not filed, causing the city’s residents to lose $4.5 million. We are especially targeting community members who are elderly and/or disabled and/or receive Veterans’ Benefits. These are the groups the IRS data shows are most likely to miss out on this opportunity for the $300-$600 check.

Please contact Meg Newman, DC EITC Campaign Coordinator, at 419-1442 or if you have ideas of ways to spread the news to the populations highlighted above and/or would like to assist with the event. Time is limited to apply for the ESP. Together we can target each of the fifteen thousand eligible individuals and ensure they benefit from the much-needed income boost during these tough economic times.


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