As everyone in DC knows, the most ungrateful and ungracious welfare
recipient in the District has been the Lerner family, which was gifted
with an overpriced baseball stadium built at taxpayer expense. Among its
many petty slights against its benefactors has been a major one: having
been given the stadium, the Lerners refused to pay the rent they had
agreed to, $3.5 million a year. On October 18, a very uninformative
press release was issued by the mayor’s office: “National’s
Stadium Rent Issues Resolved: The District and the Nationals Reach an
Agreement.” Here’s the release, in full: “City and stadium
officials released the following joint statement: ‘We thank the
taxpayers of Washington, DC and Washington Nationals fans everywhere for
their patience as we worked to ensure that they get all they were
promised for their public investment in Nationals Park. We all worked
closely on a daily basis for several months to get to this point. It was
always our position that the very best possibility for the long-term
success of the Nationals — and, for realizing the fullest economic
development return on the taxpayer dollar — was to build a premier
ballpark with all the amenities that could make it the kind of family
entertainment destination that befits the Official Home of the National
Pastime in the Nation’s Capital. We applaud all involved for their
efforts to resolve the issue. We believe the process was well-served
through diligent work and we thank everyone for their cooperation
through the entire negotiations. The Nationals have agreed to release
the rent payment and all parties will work together from this point
forward and have resolved all outstanding issues.’” When a press
release doesn’t tell you anything, doesn’t give any of the facts or
details about the deal it’s praising, you know there’s something
seriously wrong with the deal.
There was, as was evident when the agreement itself was released. The
DC Sports and Entertainment Commission was unable to get the Lerners to
live up to their agreement, so the Fenty administration’s take-charge
man, Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles, took over the negotiations.
Sure enough, Nickles was soon able to get the Lerners to agree to pay
their first-year rent, including the $3,078,546 in delinquent rent they
owed. As a great negotiator, he was able to do this by a simple
expedient — he gave the Lerners an additional $4.25 million to get
them to pay the $3.5 million they owed (http://www.dcwatch.com/govern/sports081017.htm).
In other words, Nickles paid the Nationals to pay their delinquent
ballpark rent, and they made a profit on it. Nickles caved, the Lerners
got even more taxpayer money for doing nothing, we get to pay the bill.
Nickles is using this success as another argument for why the city
council should confirm him as the permanent Attorney General. Some
members of the city council have actually had the effrontery to object
to the agreement (http://tinyurl.com/62eqsy),
but Nickles is offended that they aren’t adequately acknowledging his
brilliance and skill.
Please Don’t Sit in the Front Seat of a Cab
Phil Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cab drivers are most often victims of crime, rather then
perpetrators. But please be careful if a cab driver ever asks you to sit
in the front seat of his or her cab. Rather wait for another cab — and
see if you can notice distinguishing characteristics of the cab driver
to pass on to the police. See http://tinyurl.com/5cm7la.
[An open letter to Mayor Fenty] When a government decides it is a
good thing to send its citizens expensive brochures, with prominently
displayed, full-color photos of its department heads, touting the great
value that it brings to the citizenry, then that government has lost
touch with its people.
Today DC citizens received in the mail Mr. Howland’s “reference
guide” to DPW, “DPW — The Preferred Choice.” (Do we have a
choice? Who else would plow the streets, enforce parking laws, collect
the trash?) Why is this self-promotion necessary? What process in DC
government decided that in these times of looming budget shortfalls,
almost-certain tax increases, recession, and hard times for taxpayers,
it was a good idea to pay large sums of money to tout DPW to the
Doesn’t the DC government web site satisfy our information needs?
Would you please tell me how much was spent on this brochure, and why
this is the best use of my taxes? I look forward to your answers.
William Howland, Director, DPW, email@example.com
Mr. Walters: Almost every response that we have received about the
guide has been overwhelmingly positive. We have been to a few civic
association meetings and other events were we have handed out the guide.
All of the comments have been that they are grateful that we are
providing good information and think it is very well done. I have also
received other E-mails about the guide and those have also been very
We developed the guide because a lot of citizens are not familiar on
how to access the services that DPW provides. I suspect most DC
residents have never visited the DPW web site. There is still a
significant digital divide in the District and we thought it was best to
get the information to the citizens is with a guide. I also think the
guide is easier to navigate than the Internet for our services.
The cost per guide is $1.07. The design was done by staff. The cost
of printing and mailing totaled to $345,000 (which includes the
translation into Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese). If
you have additional questions, please let me know.
With more than ten billion dollars being spent in Iraq (and eleven
billion dollars in unaccounted cash deliveries), wouldn’t it be nice
if somebody at DoD could find .00005 percent of that amount to put
towards desperately needed renovations on the Embassy of Iraq at 1801 P
Street, NW? The historic former Mabel Boardman mansion is looking
downright sad these days.
Giving Technocracy an Even Worse Name
Richard Layman, firstname.lastname@example.org
In response to Gary’s discussion [themail, October 19] of the piece
in Atlantic Monthly about urban educational “reform” in DC, I
must say that I am big on technocracy. But when you do it, you can’t
screw it up, you have to have a deep and wide fundamental understanding
of the subsystems, processes, structures, culture, and issues that shape
the system you are trying to change-innovate-transform. Almost by
definition, if “technocracy” is focused on fixing people rather than
on building robust and resilient systems that support and strengthen the
people who do the work and receive the services, it isn’t
technocratic, because it isn’t system based. Therefore it is more than
likely to fail. My observation (and I don’t have children) is that the
changes in the school system thus far are on trying to hire “superstar”
teachers and principals who then must work without any fundamental
support structure for either the school or the classroom (another term
for this is “flying blind”). Even the most able people cannot
succeed without structure and support (see the factors leading to job
dissatisfaction as discussed in Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_factor_theory).
Some of the most interesting successes in education today, in
Montgomery County, Maryland’s Title I schools, and the Region 5
District in New York City covering parts of Brooklyn and district in
Queens, under Superintendent Kathleen Cashin, show the necessity of
building strong systems and processes that support principals, teachers,
and students at many levels. From the New York Times article, “Bucking
School Reform, a Leader Gets Results” (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/04/nyregion/04schools.html)
about Dr. Cashin: “Where Mr. Klein insists that school administration
must be reinvented to reverse generations of failure by generations of
educators, Dr. Cashin, a product of the old system, insists she can get
results with a clear instructional mission, careful organization and a
simple strategy of every educator’s being supported by an educator
with more experience.” According to the article “Staff Investment
Pays Dividends in Md. District” from Education Week (http://tinyurl.com/57yqkz),
3 percent of the annual budget for the Montgomery County School System
is spent on staff development, including hiring, because “investing in
choosing the right people and providing them with the right kind of
training builds a shared culture of language, goals, and methods”
focused on achieving outcomes. A follow-up article published earlier
this year, “When “Unequal” Is Fair Treatment” (http://tinyurl.com/5a8j2y),
demonstrates the effectiveness of this complete approach, highlighting
MCPS success in achieving high outcomes from lower income schools, which
is closing the achievement gap between high-income and low-income
schools in Montgomery County.
What DC needs is a superstar “system” that supports and develops
people — principals, teachers, support and resource teachers and
staff, children, and parents — at all levels. Until we get that type
of approach, Chancellor Rhee and Mayor Fenty are likely to fail, giving
us technocrats an even worse reputation.
Teach for America
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
Excellent article about Teach for America and DC Schools Chancellor
Michelle Rhee in the October 27 issue of US News and World Report.
Very detailed description of the results achieved by TFA alumni and
teachers in improving the education processes. Rhee is adding more and
more TFA personnel in the schools and that might just have some real
benefits for the students in a relatively short time. Likely that some
of the Principals who are TFA alums will show up in the next few years.
Sounds good to me.
I mailed the request for my absentee ballot on October 8, but, even
if I sent E-mails to the Board of Election to inquire why they did not
sent it to me, I’m still waiting for their answer and off course for
the absentee ballot. I’m starting to be suspicious about the matter.
Elect the Attorney General
Richard Layman, email@example.com
The Attorney General should be an elected, not an appointed, position
within DC Government
As Gary pointed out in the last issue of themail [October 19], the
Attorney General position in DC government is a position that spans the
boundaries between the Executive Branch of the government and the
people-citizens of the city, who are sovereign. The people and our
interests should be represented first, before those interests of the
government, which serve us. Both the mayor and the city council have
legal counsel offices separate from the Office of Attorney General.
It makes sense to convert the AG position to one that is elected,
which is common across the country at both the state and county level.
This should be thought of as an evolutionary step in post-Home Rule DC
government. (Relatedly, there should be a Charter Revision Commission.
Home Rule was granted in 1973. It’s been thirty-five years and it’s
time for a review.)
Gang Attacks Near Potomac Avenue Metro
Brigid Quinn, firstname.lastname@example.org
in response to Bryce Suderow’s question [themail, October 19], one
step that citizens can take in response to these horrific crimes is to
request that the city council amend the youth corrections act to give
far less latitude to authorities in using the act when those under
twenty-one commit violent offenses. I was thoroughly disappointed to see
that the three teen aged thugs who beat a man to death in southwest
recently are going to be tried as youth offenders. Their crime was
premeditated, barbaric, and senseless violence that should be punished
with more than the slap on the wrist available under the youth
corrections law. Sentencing under the youth corrections act basically
means that offenders won’t serve time beyond their twenty-first
birthdays (and maybe less time), and their records will be expunged. the
only way to ensure safe streets is to keep violent offenders, no matter
what their ages, off the street.
“The whites in the neighborhood near Potomac Avenue Metro are under
siege from black teenagers and young black men.” Surely this is
satire. Those roving gangs of angry black men are out to take your money
and women, whites!
Gang Attacks Near Potomac Avenue Metro
Ralph J. Chittams, Sr., email@example.com
In the October 19 edition of themail, Bryce Suderow leveled some
racially-charged and divisive accusations. As a result of his message, I
contacted the Metropolitan Police Department and inquired about crime
around the Potomac Avenue Metro Station. Following is the response from
Assistant Chief Diane Grooms: “There has been a major increase in
robberies and assaults near the Potomac Metro and Pennsylvania Avenue in
southeast. Most have been committed by the youth in the area that reside
in Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Plaza. This occurs in spurts from year to
year. We have identified the youth, done outreach in areas and made some
arrests. The past two weeks have been quiet and no attacks in the area
except for the female that was attacked in her home from a burglar
(older b/m not the youth) . . . 500 block of 14th Street, SE. We did a
walk today in [the] area with all agencies and the mayor which went
well. Citizens see additional police patrols and asked for other agency
support such as better lighting and some cameras. As throughout the city
we have had an increase in groups of juveniles robbing citizens, not
just white but Hispanic and black. It is not race based . . . crimes of
Crime around the Potomac Avenue Metro Station, as elsewhere in the
city, occurs in spurts. Whites are not being victimized by blacks “nearly
every day.” Washington, DC, requires neither racially inflammatory
rhetoric nor race-baiting language to solve our problems. We are all in
the same boat, and unless and until we all (black, white, Latino, or any
other method used to divide people) come together, we will sink
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
At-Large Candidates Community Dialogue on HIV,
Alex Lawson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Community members will dialogue with At Large Council candidates
about DC’s HIV epidemic, which is the worst in the country. It is
estimated that one in twenty District residents is infected with HIV,
and we know that one in fifty is living with AIDS. On Saturday, October
25, from 1-4 p.m., DC Fights Back and the National AIDS Housing
Coalition are teaming up to sponsor a dialogue about HIV/AIDS. The event
will be held at Greater DC Cares, 1725 I Street, NW, Suite 200.
Candidates Kwame Brown, Carol Schwartz, Michael Brown, Dee Hunter,
and Patrick Mara will join people living with HIV and concerned
residents in discussing ways to combat the DC HIV epidemic. The DC
community is encouraged to come engage in the dialogues. For more
information, contact George Kerr at email@example.com.
Historical Society of Washington, DC, October
Ed Bruske, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, October 25, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Historical Society of
Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission.
Family event: create a Halloween mask. Visual artist Camila Young will
help you create an original mask in minutes. Sure, you could go to the
store and buy the same Halloween masks as everyone else. Or in just
minutes you can make an original mask that will wow the Halloween crowd.
The possibilities are endless. Bring the entire family and create
sensational masks to take home. RSVP@historydc.org
Sunday, October 26, 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Historical Society of
Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission.
HSW author and lecture series: Stand the Storm by Breena Clarke. Breena
Clarke’s new novel, Stand the Storm, is about the struggles of
slavery. The story is set in Georgetown. The book’s main character,
“Sewing Annie Coats,” is a slave working for the Ridley plantation.
Before her, “Knitting Annie” watched over her and taught her
everything she knew about sewing. Her talent for sewing kept Annie from
having to work in the fields. After falling in love, Annie had two
children, Gabriel and Ellen. Annie taught them everything she knew about
sewing and soon they were both adept at the task. At the age of ten,
Gabriel was sold to a tailor, Abraham Pearl. Soon Annie begins to work
with Gabriel and they continue to sew in order to buy their freedom.
Along the way, they meet a runaway slave named Mary and help her. Mary
and Gabriel fall in love and they get married. They also begin to help
other slaves escape to freedom. But, when they think they have bought
their freedom, they discover that Jonathon Ridley has been cheating them
and others. They continue to struggle through this oppressive time until
freedom becomes a reality. Breena Clarke’s writing is like poetry. The
images she creates through her expressive and detailed phrasings and
word uses make the reader feel the characters’ pain and joy. After
buying his family’s freedom, Gabriel returns to them, and instead of
speaking, he begins to sing, and soon they all join him in expressing
how they feel at that moment. It is moments like this that make this
story so powerful. Breena makes you feel the family’s faith and hope.
What Mary went through when she was caught for running away will stay
with me for some time. I think you will feel the same. Breena Clarke’s
new novel, Stand the Storm, is a powerful and heartfelt novel
that you should add to your reading list. RSVP@historydc.org
DC Public Library Events, October 25, 28-30
George Williams, email@example.com
Saturday, October 25, 12:00 p.m., Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library.
Symbolism of the Tarot. Learn about the secret meanings hidden in the
images of the tarot, the history of the tarot and how it can be used for
self-transformation. The DC Public Library is not responsible, nor does
it endorse information given to participants during the program.
Monday, October 28, 7:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial
Library, Room 221. All the World’s a Stage Book Club. Different
countries, times and lives. Each book is an adventure. Discuss When
She Was White by Judith Stone.
Tuesday, October 28, 7:00 p.m., Anacostia Library, Anacostia Book
Wednesday, October 29, 6:30 p.m. Francis A. Gregory Library, Popular
Book Club, monthly discussions of popular books.
Thursday, October 30, 12:30 p.m., Southeast Library, Lunch Time Brown
Bag Book Discussion, bring your lunch for our midday book chat.
Thursday, October 30, 7:00 p.m., Southeast Library Fiction Book Club,
discussion of new and classic novels.
DC’S At-Risk Kids: Who Cares?, October 28
Anne Renshaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Citizens Federation explores DC’s troubled child welfare system
on October 28, 6:45 p.m., at The Charles Sumner School, 1201 Seventeenth
Street, NW (at M Street). The October Assembly of the Federation of
Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia will focus on DC’s
troubled child welfare system, the scope and severity of the problem,
the city’s plans to better protect the city’s vulnerable youth and
the multi-agency collaboration set up to work with the Child and Family
Services Agency (CFSA).
Delving into the uneasy topic of “DC’s At-Risk Kids: Who Cares?
will be City Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray; CFSA Interim Director,
Dr. Roque Gerald; Court Monitor Judith W. Meltzer; and Dr. Jacquelyn
Henry, Executive Director of the Collaborative Council. Other invited
panelists include Commander Lillian Overton (MPD Youth Services) and
FEMS Chief Dennis Rubin.
The Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia
is a coordinating body for 50 citywide citizens’ organizations. Formed
in 1910 and incorporated in 1940, the Citizens Federation serves as a
liaison between its member organizations and the city government on
important issues affecting District residents. For further information,
contact Anne Mohnkern Renshaw, President, 363-6880.
Third Annual Taste of Dupont Event, October 28
Paul Williams, email@example.com
Have you ever been to fourteen restaurants in one night? Now you can!
The third annual Taste of Dupont is next Tuesday, October 28, from
6:00-9:00 p.m., at the recently restored Carlyle Suites Hotel, located
at 1731 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. The popular event features chefs from
Dupont Circle eateries cooking a signature dish for your tasting, while
local art galleries and collections display their art work. This
pre-High Heel Race event allows participants to vote on who will become
the 2008 Chef of the Year!
The event is organized by the nonprofit Historic Dupont Circle Main
Streets as their yearly fund raiser. Tickets are only $65, and can be
purchased online at DupontCircle.biz. For a list of participating
restaurants and galleries, and more information, visit http://www.dupontcircle.biz/tasteofdupont.htm.
National Building Museum Events, October 28,
Jazmine Zick, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, October 28, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Smart Growth: Partnering to
Create Green Communities: San Francisco’s Treasure Island. Jack
Sylvan, director of Joint Development, San Francisco Mayor’s Office,
presents the city’s sustainable master plan to redevelop Treasure
Island, a former Naval Station in San Francisco Bay. Following the
program, attendees are invited to take a docent-led tour of the Green
Community exhibition. Free. Registration not required.
Thursday, October 30, 6:30-8:00 p.m. For the Greener Good: A Green
Apple. Many are surprised to hear that Manhattan is considered to be one
of the greenest cities in the US, based on density, reliance on mass
transit, and small carbon footprint. Listen as the NYC Transportation
Commissioner, the Chief Urban Designer for New York City, and the Vice
President of Sustainability for The Related Companies describe their
visions for a green city. $12 member; free student; $20 nonmember
Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on
availability. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street,
NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at http://www.nbm.org.
DC Act Budget Forum, October 29
Abby Bonder, email@example.com
The Budget Nitty Gritty: Understanding the Ins and Outs of the
District Budget Process, Wednesday, October 29, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
Registration to begin at 12:30 p.m. Goethe-Institut Washington, 812 7th
Street, NW, near the Chinatown Metro Station on the Green, Yellow, and
Red lines. Have you ever wondered what actually happens at each step of
the budget process and why it is important? Have you ever wondered why
the budget for the District of Columbia is presented in the way that it
is? DC ACT believes a better understanding of the process and what the
budget is and is not will lead to the improved accountability of
government agencies and improved decision-making ability of elected and
This forum is designed to answer these questions and more! Topics to
be included: the budget process including what happens and when it
happens; the publications and documents that are associated with the
District’s budget; the budget format the District uses: Performance
Based Budgeting and why it is used rather than another format such as a
line item format; how to use and read the budget documents; what the
budget is and what it is not and where to find information not included
in the budget such as CapStat and Annual Report. Who should attend?
Advocates; service providers who work with children, youth, and their
families; concerned residents; government employees; and media.
Speakers: Eric Cannady, Deputy Director for Human Services and Grant
Management, Office of Budget and Planning; and William Singer, Chief of
Budget Execution, Office of the City Administrator.
Please register by Friday, October 24, at http://action.voiceshub.org/dcact/events/budgetforum/details.tcl.
Space is limited. Please share with colleagues and others who may be
interested. Registration will take place on a first come, first serve
Fifteenth Annual Race for Mental Health,
Joan Eisenstodt firstname.lastname@example.org
A good cause and a chance to get some fresh air! See http://newsroom.dc.gov/show.aspx/agency/dmh/section/2/release/15126.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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