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October 8, 2008


Dear Politicos:

It’s time again to review some guidelines for posting to themail. I’m getting a number of campaign press releases, but I’m not publishing all of them. Here’s why. If a message is sent to, I assume that it’s meant for publication unless it is explicitly marked as private. If a message is sent to any other address at DCWatch, I assume that it’s not intended for publication. If is included in a blind list of addresses, it won’t be sorted into the right folder for themail, and it won’t be published. Also, all messages published in themail have to be signed by an individual person, with an E-mail address at which that person can be reached. Messages sent by a political party, a campaign office, or a public relations company, with no individual identified as the writer, won’t be published.

If you’re an individual who supports or opposes a candidate because of a position that candidate has taken, something that candidate has done, or your personal experience with that candidate, that’s a lot more interesting to themail’s readers than a message from a party organization that says it supports its own candidates. If you’re a candidate, please send themail a message saying how you would improve our city’s government and why voters should support you; I’d certainly like to know.

The Eduwonkette blog at Education Week gives a good example of how Chancellor's Rhee system of firing teachers disfavored by the administration will work: “We've now had an inside look at how Michelle Rhee's system manages talent. [Arthur] Siebens applied for all open science positions at a hiring fair in June, and was not called for interviews at any of the schools to which he applied. He interviewed at several other schools over the summer, and either was not offered the position or told that ‘the position has been filled for us.’ On the first day of school, Siebens — who has a PhD in Physiology — was assigned to teach 9th grade environmental science, a course he has never taught before. To date, he has not even received the teacher's edition of the environmental science book, despite asking for it repeatedly. And the kicker? The Washington Post reported a week ago that Wilson has a science vacancy. Is this what the ‘strategic management of talent’ looks like?” (, with a tip of the hat to Sam Smith’s City Desk, which discovered it first).

The preliminary report of the city council’s Board of Elections and Ethics Investigation Special Committee on the September 9 primary election has been released:

Gary Imhoff


Hardworking Writers or Union Slackers
Ed Dixon, Georgetown Reservoir,

Having been a DCPS teacher for the last three years, I can’t resist sharing the details of the Washington Post reporters’ and other newsroom workers’ contract negotiations, since they seem to share so much about the teachers’ contract details in their paper. In that same spirit of free speech here’s a clip from Union City, the local AFL-CIO list serve.

Washington Post workers will vote on a proposal today [10-8-08] to extend their current contract until May 7. The proposed extension was reached to give more time to bargain over print/internet operations integration, time negotiations ‘to a period more likely to be aligned with the rollout of significant changes,’ and maintain current job security provisions, says a Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Local 35 Bargaining Committee report. The contract was set to expire November 7.”

Whenever the Post has a story on line about teachers and the union, the commentaries are usually filled with anti-union vitriol. Maybe we could get similar speculation going here in themail on the ability of the Post writers to do a good job based on their affiliation with a union? Maybe by discussing the Post writers’ contract, evaluations, and pay scale, we could make them feel better about their jobs and going to work everyday? Salary details for newsroom positions are here: Anyway here’s to Jay Matthews, Marc Fisher, Colby King, Valerie Strauss, and Bill Turque on their contract negotiations. May they get their raise and not get painted as union slackers.


Republican Party on Michael Brown and Patrick Mara
Paul D. Craney,

The DC Republican Committee made the following statement to respond to Michael Brown’s promise to keep DC inmates closer to DC. “Instead of finding solutions to solve the gang related crimes that plague certain sections of DC, Michael Brown is putting the interests of inmates ahead of victims,” stated DC Republican Committee Chairman Robert Kabel. According to Michael Brown’s web site, under “Crime,” he doesn’t make one reference to how to deal with gangs or the violence in the Trinidad area of DC. “Michael Brown has already promised to increase spending and now he wants to make DC a more dangerous place to live. Michael Brown is out pacing everyone to be the most dangerous council candidate we have ever seen,” concluded Kabel.

The DC Republican Committee made the following statement in regard to Patrick Mara’s (DC Council candidate, At-Large) getting endorsed by the DC Board of Trade. “Patrick’s support from the DC Chamber of Commerce and now the DC Board of Trade proves that he is the only candidate qualified to handle our fiscal issues,” stated DC Republican Committee Chairman Robert Kabel. “While Michael Brown is promising to increase spending and sink our economy faster into a recession, Patrick is asking the local business community what else we can do to make DC more affordable and business friendly. Patrick is the only candidate with the right balance to attract jobs and strengthen our middle class,” concluded Kabel.


Expanded Recycling Programs
Nancee Lyons,

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced that starting today Department of Public Works recycling collection crews will accept an expanded list of items for recycling, especially plastics. Now residents can recycle film plastics like grocery, produce, and dry cleaning bags, as well as aerosol cans and a variety of rigid plastic including plastic lawn furniture, toys and flower pots. Mayor Fenty noted that District residents exceed national recycling rates for newspapers, cardboard and plastic and glass bottles. He added that there are opportunities to increase the overall recycling rate by increasing the number of acceptable items and diverting more cardboard, and steel and aluminum cans from the landfill to the recycling processing center.

Beginning October 6, residents can recycle aerosol cans, milk and juice cartons; plastic bags, grocery bags, newspaper bags, and shopping bags (please “bag the bags” by placing all the bags into one bag); rigid plastics such as plastic milk/soda crates, plastic buckets with metal handles, plastic laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, plastic totes, plastic drums, plastic coolers, plastic flower pots, plastic drinking cups/glasses, plastic five-gallon water bottles, plastic pallets, plastic toys, and empty plastic garbage/recycling bins; and wide-mouth containers such as peanut butter, margarine/butter tubs, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, whipped topping, and prescription and other medicine bottles.

For a complete list of accepted recyclables and instructions, review a copy of the new DPW Reference Guide, which is being mailed out to DPW customers and distributed throughout the city, or visit Residents whose recyclables exceed their container(s) can put additional recyclables in either a brown paper bag or a small cardboard box and place them next to their recycling bin or cart. For an additional cart or bin, residents may call 311.


Our Purpose in Life Is Noticing
Phil Shapiro,

I’ve been heartened by feedback I’ve heard from others on themail that they noticed the community supportive E-mails I send from time to time. Our purpose in life is to notice. It’s the most human of all acts. Weave noticing into your week and you’ll begin to notice something. Here’s some noticing I did this morning. It’s not related to DC, but it might prove food for thought. See

Aside from noticing, the most human of acts is telling, as you can tell.


Singles Ban Discriminates Against the Working Poor
Dwayne L. Smith,

In response to Mary Beatty [themail, October 4], I’m sure that there has been a reduction of public drinking and the “unsavory” behaviors associated with it. But, I still believe that I have a right to be able to purchase a single beer if I choose to do so or if my financial circumstances dictate my choice. I have always thought this ban on singles was discriminatory toward the working poor, who often don’t have enough money to buy larger quantities and who for the most part aren’t seen doing the behaviors that this ban has addressed.

This ban is like putting a bandage on a tourniquet wound. It doesn’t address the root cause of these behaviors, which are addiction, lack of jobs, education, and even law enforcement. If we focused on those root causes, then it would be a win-win situation for everyone.



Festival of the Building Arts, October 11
Jazmine Zick,

Saturday, October 11, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Family Program: Festival of the Building Arts. Come participate in the Museum’s annual, all-ages celebration of the building arts: Festival of the Building Arts. This year’s festival features hands-on activities; a nail-driving contest; a construction vehicle "petting zoo"; a ballet featuring skid steer loaders; plus glass designers, stone carvers, woodworkers and more, demonstrating their craft. Free. Drop-in program, no registration required. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.


Historical Society of Washington, DC, October 12
Ed Bruske,

Sunday, October 12, 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m., HSW Author and Lecture Series: The Making of the American Capital, at the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission. Featured author, Fergus Bordewich, (Bound for Canaan) depicts how such improbable and unwelcoming terrain on the Potomac came to be chosen in 1790 as the site for the nation's capital. Bordewich likewise narrates the graft, inefficiencies, and myriad injustices that went into the design of the new capital and the construction of the first state buildings. As the author emphasizes, slavery affected everything about the genesis of Washington: the politics of selecting a site that was nominally Southern to placate Jeffersonian Democrats; the construction of such buildings as the White House and the Capitol — projects that exploited slave labor. Bordewich also reveals the backroom politics wherein the conservative Northern Federalist Alexander Hamilton made a deal regarding federal fiscal policy and the site of the so-called Federal Territory. Bordewich is especially strong in painting portraits of such memorable characters as city planner Peter Charles L'Enfant as well as the brilliant black mathematician, astronomer, and surveyor Benjamin Banneker, who did essential work on the first survey of the city, along with various piratical speculators whose greed nearly sank the grand project more than once. In sum, Bordewich tells a fascinating tale, and tells it well. or 383-1828.


Journeying through Decades of Russian Live, October 23
Liz Meyer,

Naomi F. Collins, Ph.D., author of Through Dark Days and White Nights: Four Decades Observing a Changing Russia, will give a talk on “Journeying Through Decades of Russian Life” on Thursday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m. A book sale and signing will follow the program.

Ms. Collins will talk about her experiences in Russia from the mid-1960s as a graduate student at Moscow State University through the turn of the 21st century as the wife of the American Ambassador to Russia. She provides an eyewitness account of the Soviet Union’s evolution from awesome super power to disintegrating empire and through the roller-coaster rebirth of Russia.

Ms. Collins is currently a consultant to cultural, educational, and international organizations. She has previously served as Executive Director of the Maryland Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and of the NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The Cleveland Park Branch of the DC Public Library is located near the Cleveland Park Metrorail Station. All District of Columbia Public Library activities are open to the public free of charge. For further information, please call the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library at 282-3080.



Indian Buffets
Pat Yates,

Please do try Nirvana at 1810 K Street, NW. It’s vegetarian, and every day the lunch buffet highlights a particular state or region: Gujarat, Rajasthan, South India, Delhi and the North, and so on. Mrs. Doler Shah, the proprietress, is a charming, multi-talented Jain woman from Gujarat, but she does use onions and garlic. In addition to presiding over the kitchen and warmly welcoming guests, Mrs. Shah has herself painted most of the dining tables in the bright reds, greens, and yellows of Rajasthan. The walls have wonderful photos of India, with focus on Jain temples. Mrs. Shah loves art; she’s a volunteer docent for one of the local museums. The restaurant is very convenient to reach by Metro and bus, including the Georgetown-Convention Center Circulator. Martinis are very reasonably priced! See and the Washington review at

Farther afield, and not so good for public transportation, are two South Indian “pure” vegetarian restaurants in Langley Park, with lunch buffets seven days a week. (Among other things, “pure” means no alcoholic beverages.) Both are very nice inside, but located in ugly strip malls near the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard: Woodlands on the northwest and Udupi Palace on the southeast. For those needing meat, there’s also Tiffin, owned by and very near to Udupi Palace, but I don’t go there. See and

The lunch buffets of all three of these vegetarian Indian restaurants include numerous dishes of appetizers, main courses, chutneys/pickles, raita and breads, made with different spices and having varying degrees of hotness — in other words, a varied menu with lots of different taste sensations. Some days, they are wonderful; other days, they are merely very good. (Udupi and Woodlands may have dinner buffets, too; I’m not sure.) Nirvana is my favorite because of the food, the welcoming atmosphere, the gorgeous tables, and the location. But the other two are good, too!


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