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October 5, 2008


Dear Arrogance Busters:

You would think that this week I’d have more than enough reasons to rant about something done by the District government. Chancellor Rhee announced that she would ignore the city’s contract with its public school teachers, and treat them as subjects who have no job rights that she has to respect. Mayor Fenty closed the Franklin School homeless shelter, in direct defiance of a city council resolution. Fenty sent an “Omnibus Anti-Crime Amendment Act of 2008” ( to the city council without any previous consultation with councilmembers. Sam Smith describes the bill in DC City Desk: “Fresh from his efforts to ignore the Supreme Court gun ruling and his South Africa style neighborhood check points, Adrian Fenty and his Karl Rove, Peter Nickles, are up to more constitutionally contemptuous mischief,”, scroll down to October 5, 12:28 p.m.

You would think I’d rant about these things, but the way they coincided in the past week have convinced me that there’s little need to. The incredible arrogance displayed by the administration, the contempt that it displays for other branches of the government as well as for citizens, the attitude that the mayor doesn’t need to work with anyone and that everyone else must bow to his will — they are so self-destructive that they will inevitably lead to this administration’s downfall. Eventually, the courts will call Fenty to account when lawsuits are filed, or the city council will grow a spine, or enough citizens will have had personal interactions with the government to understand its nature. I’ll continue to rant, of course; that’s my nature. But arrogance may be the most self-destructive trait a politician in a democracy can have; a politician cursed with it does more damage to himself than any critic ever can.

The links in the E-mail edition of the last issue to reports on the September 9 election by Sequoia and the DC Board of Elections and Ethics didn’t work, although they would work if you cut and pasted them into your browser address bar rather than clicked on them. Here’s a second try. The Sequoia report is at and the BOEE’s report is at

Gary Imhoff


DCGOP Calls for Strauss to Step Down
Paul D. Craney,

In light of the recent report from the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (DC Auditor) [“Auditor’s Review of the Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals Operations,”] the DC Republican Committee sent the following letter to DC Council Chairman Vincent Gray.

“In light of the recent report from the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (DC Auditor), we urge you as Chairman of the DC Council to conduct a hearing to investigate whether Senator Paul Strauss should be removed from the positions of US Senator (Shadow Senator) and Chairman of the Board of Real Property Assessment and Appeals (BRPAA). The DC Auditor made the following recommendations: 1) the BRPAA Chairman should not accept campaign donations from individuals who appear before the BRPAA. 2) BRPAA members should not simultaneously hold an elected office and an appointment position. DC residents deserve quick and decisive action. We should never tolerate elected officials who ignore basic standards of conflict of interests.”


Business Promotion
Michael Ward,

What kind of “world-class” city tickets people who go to patronize downtown restaurants for dinner on a Friday evening with an arcane “No Parking 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.” restriction in the heart of its downtown? Are they still worried about prostitution so many years after they pushed the trade from downtown? Do they think this is keeping prostitution from returning, or is the revenue it generates just too alluring? Since the ticket was written at 9:17 p.m., I can just imagine the ticket writers scheduled to sweep through and generate revenue right after the magic time.

For $30, the District has guaranteed that this neighbor from the suburbs will simply not bring my wallet downtown to patronize its businesses and pay meal taxes. Since I am also an owner of a district-based business, I already get saddled with the ballpark fee for the stadium with a losing team that can’t fill the seats. I’m not particularly encouraged to continue to do business in the District or even come to visit. What are those who govern the District thinking?


Two and a Half Months in the Dark
Qawi Robinson,

I enjoy DCWatch. I find it informative and not the gripe session some make it to be. However, this time, I must contribute to the complaint/gripe department about District services. I have tried to no avail, even contacting Fenty via the web site, to get something resolved with little success. As it stands, for almost two and half months of wrestling with Public Works and DDOT, my neighborhood is still without a much needed street light. At this point, the darkness is beyond a safety issue. It is becoming a textbook example of DDOT and DC government mismanagement.

In early August, coincidentally after a fire hydrant replacement on the corner, streetlight #74814 (located in the 300 Block of 34th Place, NE) stopped working. After no fewer than five neighbors called, a crew came out, “assessed” the situation, and blamed it on the contractors who replaced the fire hydrant. Granted, although the hydrant is on the corner and the light pole is in the middle of the block, this was deemed a plausible reason. Several weeks later, still with no light, more neighbors called and a crew came out and dug up tree boxes and painted lines on the concrete, all to no avail. More weeks later and after more calls and Internet requests, no more work has been done and no one has updated the status, leaving the residents to feel literally “in the dark.” I personally talked with Jeff Merudian, Customer Service Director of DDOT, and Stephen Gross, Technician Manager of DDOT, and got promises from both to get the light fixed, all to no avail. Neither returned my calls when I asked for a follow-up. E-mails have also been sent to Councilmembers Alexander, who represents the Ward in which this light is out, Council Chairman Gray, and Mayor Fenty as well — all without a response. Adding more insult, three of the service requests I put in about the light were marked completed/closed with little or no comment on how the problem was resolved. When I asked the 311 Operators and Mr. Merudian, I got mixed messages. One of which was that the Online Request system is “imperfect,” in that a request can be “closed” merely because an inspector looked reviewed the issue, not because the item was resolved.

Simply put, DC government’s (DDOT, et al.) incompetence and lack of response is not only a letdown to me but also to other lifelong residents, several of whom are over eighty years of age. If bringing this issue to Alexander, Gray, and Fenty can’t get the job done, who else is left? Eleanor Holmes-Norton? If this was Fenty’s neighborhood or that of any other official, the light would have been replaced or at least emergency lights would be set up. The darkness is so bad that the houses are almost indistinguishable and several visitors refuse to park in the area. If there is anyone in this blog who has better connections beyond 311 and E-mails that could assist in this matter, it would be greatly appreciated.


A Fine Project at Ross Elementary That Should Go Citywide
Susan Meehan,

So much has been reported that is negative about the DC public school system, that it’s a pleasure to report on something that works so well that it should be replicated throughout the system, in my opinion. That program is called, “The Kindness Game,” and it is played by the first graders at Ross Elementary School. It has marvelous implications not only for kids’ academics but for their social behavior as well.

Here is how it goes. Once a week, the first graders at Ross are asked to write a postcard. The idea is for them to improve their writing, vocabulary, and even grammatical/sentence structure skills. Ms. Butler, their teacher, helps by putting words up on the blackboard that she thinks the children might want to incorporate into their postcard — words along the lines of, “kindness,” “helpful,” and “generous.” The kids are asked to address their postcards to another member of the class. The subject of the card is thanking the recipient for a kind act the recipient had performed during the week. The cards are read out loud and the children are thanked. The children love doing this, and of course, they love being the recipient of cards! It is a wonderful behavior changer; there are no class bullies, and I suspect that none of these children will ever become class bullies! They are being trained to become kind, decent persons, and this early-age training will, I believe, stick. One interesting aspect of the Kindness Game is that at the beginning, the popular children received the greatest number of postcards, but this has gradually changed, and the spread of postcards is quite even! That this happens shows that the children have thought through what it takes to become worthy of receiving a kindness acknowledgment, and then they respond with positive actions that elicit postcards. They have learned how to help others and to be rewarded for so doing. Eventually, they will not even need any acknowledgment by others to be kind; it will have become internalized.

I think this should go citywide, and should be adapted to meet the academic and social needs of kids throughout the DC public school system. It costs nothing, and makes such a difference. Who could ask for anything better ! It can only improve the atmosphere of the schools and the character of our schoolchildren. In fact, why don’t we call it the District Kindness Game and spread the word nationwide, both in academic and public service media? It would bring the DC public school system a good name. While Ms. Butler didn’t invent the game, she is clearly implementing it successfully, and both she and the Ross School principal deserve commendation for supporting this well-thought out and worthwhile project.


Citywide Singles Ban
Mary Beatty, ANC 6A05 Commissioner,

I am responding to statements made by Jack McKay and Bryce Suderow regarding the sale of single containers of beer. As the leader of the ANC6A single sale moratorium on H Street, NE, (an effort that took over three years to accomplish), I can assure Mr. Suderow that the moratorium has worked. There were seven stores impacted by the moratorium, (he mentions only one on 14th and H) with the greatest negative impact of street drinking between the 700 and 1200 blocks of H. This area was a destination for public drinking before the moratorium. Since the ABRA ordered moratorium, there has been a noticeable reduction of loitering, litter, and public urination. MPD statistics demonstrate the success of the Mt. Pleasant moratorium as well.

The real issue that Mr. McKay and Mr. Suderow seem to be addressing is how to avoid moving the problems to areas where the ban doesn’t exist. The clear and obvious answer is to ban singles citywide. The ward-by-ward legislative approach (some wards allowing exemptions, some not) is a recipe for failure. All research indicates that single sales bans must be implemented uniformly in a large area in order to reduce negative impacts. If the single sales area is small (blocks versus miles), people do tend to move to continue the daytime public drinking. But Mr. Suderow should not characterize the H Street moratorium as a failure. H Street is much more pedestrian-friendly without public drinking on every corner. We at ANC 6A would love to see those benefits extend to the entire city.


Encore Azaleas
Mindy Mitchell,

Encore azaleas really do bloom repeatedly. They are great.


Advice on Azaleas
David W. Dragnich,

Landon School in Maryland has an Azaleas Festival every spring. They have everything imaginable and knowledgeable people to talk about them.



DC Public Library Events, October 7 and following, October 9
George Williams,

Tuesdays, 7:00 p.m., Lamond Riggs Library, Fall lecture series by C.R. Gibbs on African History and Culture. October 7, Abraham Lincoln: From the White Reunion to Black Liberation; October 14, The African Presence in Early Asia; October 21, Carter G. Woodson’s Washington; October 28, Defeating the Enemy Within: Black Self-Oppression, A Workshop.

Thursday, October 9, 11:00 a.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Room 225. Talking Book Club. Members of the DC Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped adult book club will discuss Ninety Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper.


Candidates Forum, October 11
George Idelson,

Pre-Election Candidates Forum, Saturday, October 11, 10:15 am at the Cleveland Park Library. The forum, which will hear from candidates for At-Large Council, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 3C) and other elective offices, is sponsored by the Cleveland Park Citizens Association and Woodley Park Community Association.


Historical Society of Washington, DC, October 11
Ed Bruske,

Saturday, October 11, 12:30 p.m., Film: Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Free admission. At the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission.

Saturday, October 11, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., adult writing workshop: Writing Lives: Creating Autobiographical and Historical Plays. At the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. If you are a writer or an aspiring writer, you don’t want to miss the “Writing Lives” workshop created in remembrance of Washington’s Renaissance writer, Georgia Douglas Johnson. This workshop explores how to create performance monologues using autobiographical materials or historical records to transform personal narratives into works of art for the theatrical stage. The class will open with the exploration of two short monologue plays or solo works followed by an analysis of how dramatic form is used in the creation of these plays. Finally, participants will create and perform their individual works. Note: a performance can simply be a reading! Required reading: 1) “Creating Your Own Monologue” by Glenn Altermann. Allworth Press; 2) “The Plays of Georgia Douglas Johnson: From the New Negro Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement” (Paperback) : University of Illinois Press (March 7, 2006); 3) “The Playwright’s Process: Learning the Craft from Today’s Leading Dramatists” (Paperback) by Barry McLaughlin. There are no prerequisites for this workshop. Books can be purchased in the HSW Bookstore or in class. Limited to fifteen adults. Registration required. or 383-1828. Fee $10.

Saturday, October 11, 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Can a Sistah Rock a Mic Festival. At the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission. The fourth annual Can a Sista Rock a Mic presents a special screening of “NO! The Rape Documentary” in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Produced and directed by Aishah Shahidah Simmons, “No! The Rape Documentary” is a groundbreaking, award-winning feature length documentary that unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in Black communities. Through testimonies of survivors, violence prevention advocates, theologians, sociologists, and historians, NO! breaks the silence around rape and engenders deep discussion on the critical non-negotiable need to end rape. The internationally acclaimed NO! has been translated into French, Spanish, and Portuguese and is being used around the world by grassroots and mainstream movements to end rape, sexual assault, and other forms of violence against women. After the film, you are invited to participate in an audience discussion moderated by Konyka Dunson, program host with DCTV and WPFW, and a reception with a special musical performance, part of the fourth Annual Can a Sistah Rock a Mic Music Festival, the Washington metropolitan area music festival featuring an all women lineup of independent artists. (A program collaboration of Can a Sistah Rock A Mic Festival and The Historical Society of Washington, DC.) or 383-1828.


The Rise and Fall of the Dillinger Gang, October 16
Beth Meyer,

Jeffery King will discuss his book, The Rise and Fall of the Dillinger Gang, Thursday, October 16, 7:30 p.m. at Kensington Row Bookshop, 3786 Howard Avenue, Kensington MD. The Rise and Fall of the Dillinger Gang is the first book to focus on John Dillinger’s partners-in-crime as well as on Dillinger himself. The backgrounds, criminal careers, and the eventual fate of the Dillinger gang members — Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, “Red” Hamilton. Homer Van Meter, Tommy Carroll, Eddie Green, Harry Pierpont, Russell Clark and Charles Makley — are gone into in great detail.

Jeffery S. King was a reference librarian at the US Bureau of the Census for twenty years and at the Washington, DC, Public Library for seven years. The author of The Life and Death of Pretty Boy Floyd, he lives in Washington, DC. For more information, call 301-949-9416, E-mail, or go to



Indian Buffets
Larry Lesser,

On the subject of Asian all-you-can-eat-for-a-single-price buffet restaurants please consider Indian as well. I’ve never been disappointed at the Delhi Dhaba on Connecticut between Yuma and Albemarle []. When I take lunch there I skip dinner later. Although I suspect that the food is a tad over salted the ingredients are basically healthful — mostly vegetables and legumes but with a chicken dish and another meat dish also available.

[A correspondent who wishes to remain anonymous also responded to my request for recommendations for Asian buffet restaurants: “Try the Green Olive Buffet, Some of the food is lousy, as you describe. But most of it is actually quite good.

“The sushi is decent, the peel and eat shrimp are large and not overcooked. They have oysters on the half shell, good steamed dumplings and excellent roast duck. Their fried oysters are as good as any I’ve had at the shore, and the crab cakes are refreshingly light. (Too bad the tartar sauce is lousy. But they have lots of fresh lemon.) Avoid the conventional Chinese dishes like General Tso’s chicken and beef with broccoli. Dessert is nothing special, but they sometimes have a good selection of very fresh fruit. The dining room is modest, but pleasant. And they have a liquor license. Weekend all day price is $14 plus drink, tax and tip.” — Gary Imhoff]


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