On Thursday, October 23, Tracy Sandler of the mayor’s press office
sent out a press release about new legislation that the mayor has
submitted to the city council. Bill 17-988, the “Halloween Safety
Promotion Act,” makes it a crime to carve a pumpkin into a jack-o’-lantern,
or to display a jack-o’-lantern. “Carving a pumpkin is inherently a
dangerous act,” says the press release, “and Mayor Fenty’s
administration is serious about protecting the people and preventing
them from engaging in activities that could harm them.” The press
release cites a paper from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand,
“Hand Surgeons Warn of Pumpkin Carving Dangers” (http://tinyurl.com/6ca6hq),
as support for its contention that using sharp knives and other
implements on hard vegetables like pumpkins could lead to serious
“We are intent on making holiday celebrations safe for our
citizens,” the press release quotes Fenty as saying. “Just as we
have attempted to ban such dangers as sparklers and burning snakes on
the Fourth of July, we will prevent hand injuries by banning the carving
and display of pumpkins on Halloween, and we will soon introduce
legislation to make Christmas safer by banning the sale and display of
live Christmas trees, which are a fire hazard.”
Bill 17-988, aside from its provisions directly regarding pumpkins,
also bans the sale and possession of knives and other sharp implements
that could be used to carve pumpkins. Acting Attorney General Peter
Nickles expanded upon this ban: “We are working on amending
legislation that will create limited exceptions to this ban for people
whose professions require the use of sharp implements, such as butchers.
They will be allowed to apply for knife licenses that will allow them to
use knives at their workplaces, provided that they are kept locked and
secured at all times when they are not in use. This amending legislation
should be ready within a year.” When asked whether the knife ban may
be prohibited by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, Nickles said,
“The Second Amendment applies only to weapons, and we aren’t banning
knives because they are weapons, but because they can be used to carve
pumpkins, and are dangerous for that purpose. We are confident that the
courts will uphold this limited and reasonable legislation in the
interest of public safety.”
So what tipped you off that this story isn’t true? The lack of a
link to the bill? The time or two that I really stepped over the line?
But I did have you going for a while, didn’t I? Because it’s just so
credible. Meanwhile, have a happy Halloween. At least this year, while
you still can.
My Wife’s Coworker Was Murdered by a Gang
David F. Power, firstname.lastname@example.org
[An open letter to Mayor Adrian Fenty] Adrian, I never thought you
would so ignore your basic duties that someone I knew would get
murdered. I have lived in DC for over twenty-seven years, and I have
never suffered the grief and rage from having someone I knew be murdered
here, until this month. Adrian, you are so obsessed with taking control
of the schools and all school-related public property that you could
give away to your developer cronies that you have ignored the wave of
deadly violence engulfing DC workers and commuters. Your working
citizens and taxpayers are being murdered at a higher rate than last
year, but you do nothing to protect us.
This has been bottled inside of me up for several weeks, ever since a
veteran federal agency attorney at my wife’s federal agency workplace
got stomped and beaten to death by a gang of black teenagers just a few
blocks from his apartment near the Waterside Mall in southwest DC around
9:00 p.m. at night on October 6, as he was bringing groceries back to
his kitchen. Three black teenagers have been arrested, so far; I don’t
know whether they were arraigned or whether they tried to plea bargain.
You must do something; you must protect us. Where are the cops on the
beat? What is MPD doing in the neighborhoods in southwest, not to
mention northwest? I have not seen a cop on foot or on a bicycle or in
an MPD police vehicle in my northwest neighborhood for two months. What
the MPD spending on “Homeland Security” while your voters and my
wife’s coworkers get beaten to death on their way home at night?
My wife’s murdered coworker was given a Jewish funeral/memorial
service on Wednesday, October 22, in the Philadelphia area, where he
grew up. (No, Adrian, do not send flowers; it is too late for that, and
besides flowers are not usually part of a Jewish funeral.) I understand
the service was attended by a dozen or more of my wife’s coworkers,
including her boss, the Chief Counsel of her agency. Two weeks ago, her
agency made a public grievance on NBC4-TV in front of their office
building about the assault on their coworker (they didn’t know at that
time that it was a murder, he was still on life support). The Washington
Post confirmed that there has been an average of one attack by
teenager “pack robbers” in Adams Morgan every three days during
August-September; there has been a rash of feral-pack teenager assaults,
robberies, and rapes against white commuters and/or residents at the
Potomac Avenue Metro Blue Line station recently; my wife’s coworker
was just one of a half dozen victims of feral teenager assaults on the
same night in southwest near the Waterside Mall exit of the Metro Green
Line. You, Mayor Adrian Fenty, and your Chief of Police, Cathy Lanier,
do not care about working taxpayers who commute by Metro. You have done
nothing to protect us. You are obsessed with your plan to become a
dictator over the public schools and all public property in any vicinity
of our public schools, while our coworkers are being murdered out here.
What are you doing to protect us?
The police statistics have been delivered to us twice, once by Lt.
Ewell at last Thursday’s PSA 107 monthly meeting and again by the
First District Commander on Monday during the mayor’s walk in the
neighborhood. Their statistics are minimal because they only count the
robberies in the immediate vicinity of the Metro stop. Jack Colhoun
pointed out these selective statistics on the New Hill East listserv.
Here’s what he said:
“The crime map on the back of the PSA 107 newsletter bears this
out. I only got a brief look at the crime map at the meeting. But the
map and my memory of recent reports on the newhilleast listserve
indicate there were numerous assaults by youth and robberies on 14th St.
near the Safeway, 14th & C Sts., the 1300 block of C St., and the
300 block of Kentucky Ave. from September through mid-October. My sense
is that the bad guys often observe vulnerable pedestrians from the
shadows north of the Potomac Metro stop and follow them on their routes
So the number of attacks is greater than the cops are admitting to.
If pointing out that the assailants are black teenagers and the victims
are whites is offensive, then I say the truth offends you; you need to
On Friday, Mayor Fenty filed a reelection committee, “Fenty 2010,”
with the DC Office of Campaign Finance. As in 2006, the co-chairs of
Fenty’s campaign are William Lightfoot and James Hudson. Again as in
2006, Ben Soto, a Fenty friend, developer, and member of the DC Sports
and Entertainment Commission, will serve as the committee’s treasurer.
The Washington Examiner quotes Fenty as saying, “It’s
always good to start as early as humanly possible.” Translation: start
those donations rolling in.
Anybody Been “Rumbled” Yet?
Star Lawrence, email@example.com
On my health humor blog, Health’s Ass (Lexis-Nexis), I blogged on a
new doohicky called “The Rumbler,” which police departments are
using to signal motorists to stop, pull over or just pay attention. It
creates a low-frequency tone that shakes your whole body. It is being
rolled out in DC, the story said. Here is my coverage: http://healthsass.blogspot.com/2008/10/cop-out.html.
Has anybody experienced this or do you know anything about it?
When Newspapers Stop Printing
Phil Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine if at some point big city newspapers stopped being available
in print. How would the newspaper business change if all content were
delivered in digital form? What would a newspaper look like without the
space constraints that defined the print age? What pricing model would
be appropriate when ink, paper, and physical delivery costs are removed
from the equation? In what ways should community members participate in
the future of newspapers? I share the hope of almost everyone that
newspapers do not simply shut down their business when the print age
comes to an end. Are we planning enough for when that transition might
happen? Is that transition more imminent than anyone previously
expected? I don’t know, but I sure do want to find out. What’s your
take on this?
No Big Loss
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
Bagel City, on the corner of 49th and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, is
gone. Their bagels were bad and the service was worse. In the six times
I ventured in to satisfy the bagel cravings of NY visitors, I was always
disappointed. Most times never got what I wanted. Had to trek down to
Einstein’s on Wisconsin to get reasonably good bagels and excellent
service. The old Bagel City site is under renovation and purported to be
a breakfast/lunch spot when finished. Maybe they’ll have good bagels.
Will wait for them to work out the early kinks and then try them out.
Look for a report.
Another local restaurant, Tara Thai, opened in the Spring Valley
Shopping Center a few months ago. Tried them out with roomie a couple of
weeks ago. Entree’s were just so-so, service was OK. Was originally
seated in one of the many booths along the walls. Big mistake. Was akin
to a medieval torture. Changed to a regular table, of which many were
unoccupied. Most of clientele seem to come from staff and students of
the AU Law School, just down the street.
Department of Public Works Brochure
Anne-Marie Bairstow, annemariebairstow at hotmail dot com
I thought the brochure was excellent and very well done. Yes, most of
the information is available on the web site, but a lot of people don’t
use or know about the web site, not everyone is DC has Internet access
at home, and sometimes it’s nice to get an answer without having to
turn on the computer. I’m keeping mine in the kitchen, which is where
trash-related questions arise and where there is no computer. I imagine
Mr. Howland and others at DPW feel like they can’t win: they get
criticized for not communicating with constituents, then when they
produce a topnotch piece of information, people complain about that too.
I wish that themail posters would remember that it is a lot easier to
complain than to actually get things done.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
At-Large Candidates Forum on Education,
Andrew Simon, email@example.com
In DC, 85 percent of white students test proficient in math compared
to 48 percent of Hispanic students and 35 percent of African-American
Students. We must do better to close the achievement gap! On Monday,
October 27, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Francis Stevens Education Campus,
2425 N Street, NW, DC School Reform Now (http://www.dcschoolreform.org)
is hosting a community dialogue with at-large city council candidates
Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, Dee Hunter, Patrick Mara, Carol Schwartz,
and David Schwartzman to discuss education and school reform.
Leah Fabel from the Washington Examiner will moderate. Half of
the event is reserved for questions from the audience. For more
information, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historical Society of Washington, DC, October
29, November 1
Ed Bruske, email@example.com
Wednesday, October 29, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Historical Society of
Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission.
Book signing and discussion, The Historic Campaign: Barack Obama in
Photos. This astounding book examines, through 150 color and black
and white photographs, the road to Barack Obama’s historic nomination
as the first African American to lead the presidential ticket of a major
party. Announcing his campaign in Springfield, Illinois on Feb. 10,
2007, Obama stood on the grounds of the Old State Capitol, where Abraham
Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech against slavery
in 1858. During an eighteen-month campaign, from the snows of Iowa to
the hunt for Democratic super delegates, this junior senator from
Chicago confounded the party establishment and rewrote the play book on
modern presidential campaigning. This amazing collection of photograph
captures the public and private moments of his journey, and offers a
unique window into one of the great upsets in American politics. The
range of images are transformative as they express beauty, pathos,
poignancy, emotion, euphoria about the man, Barack Obama, and the
Presidential campaign. The book, co-authored by Kevin Merida (Washington
Post) and Deborah Willis (New York University), published by Amistad/HarperCollins,
captures the transformation of a nation and the rise of a new leader for
this generation. Many of the photographs show enthusiastic crowds and
offer a link to the history of images produced over the last forty years
of presidential campaigns. This exhibit also captures the activism of
communities, younger and older, established and organized — locally
and virtually though new venues such as Myspace and blogging. These
insightful images reveal a concern for preserving the multiple stories
and experiences of the subjects within the photographs. RSVP@historydc.org
Saturday, November 1, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Family Series,
Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon
Square. Free admission. Join the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs and
the Mexican Cultural Institute in celebrating The Day of the Dead (El
Día de los Muertos in Spanish). The Day of the Dead is a holiday
celebrated mainly in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage (and
others) living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on
gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and
relatives who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1 and 2, in
connection with the Catholic holy days of All Saints’ Day and All
Souls’ Day, which take place on those days. Traditions include pinata
breakings, building private altars honoring the deceased, and using
sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the
departed. For more information, contact the Office on Latino Affairs at
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.
[This message is being rerun to correct the date.]
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
I want to hook up my computer to cable so that I can download faster.
What cable companies are there in town and what are the recommendations
of subscribers to themail?
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