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November 12, 2008

National Affairs

Dear Nationalists:

I’ve always tried to keep national affairs and politics out of themail, but I’ve also said that any current national issue with an immediate relevance to local affairs and life in the District of Columbia was a proper subject for discussion here. Well, an issue has arisen with the election of a Democratic president and increased majorities of Democrats in both houses of congress. How will that affect the relationship between the District of Columbia and the federal government? On November 10, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton issued a press release headlined, “Norton Predicts Clean Sweep for Voting Rights and Self-Government Bills with Obama and a Democratic Congress.” In it, she predicts, “Moreover, after two centuries, residents will have a Democratic House and Senate that will pass the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act and send it to President Obama. . . . [T]he District of Columbia Voting Rights Act could conceivably have more than the necessary 60 votes [in the Senate]. . . . The coming year carries great promise for completing the home rule that Congress began when it enacted the Home Rule Act of 1973. . . . The change in the national government can open the path to a true democratic transformation in the District of Columbia. Our goal should be to go the full way to complete democracy for the 600,000 Americans who live in our nation’s capital. We can make 2009 the year of the clean sweep for democracy in hometown DC — for DC voting rights and full self-government, too, after centuries of unceasing and hard work.”

Michael Neibauer had an interesting article in the Examiner, also on November 10,, that has a wider range of opinions. Neibauer quotes Mayor Adrian Fenty and Councilmember Mary Cheh as largely agreeing with Norton. Fenty says: “The hope really is that it means full voting rights faster, and that the issues of big urban cities in this country will be a higher priority for the federal government. . . . President-elect Obama will push the rights of DC residents and abolish our lack of franchise, not because of any campaign promise, but because it’s the right thing to do.” And Cheh says: “I believe that we can have less interference with our own local budget and local decision-making. . . . We can impress upon the administration and Congress that we have been extraordinarily responsible.” But Alice Rivlin of the Brooking Institution, says, “I think Congress needs to recognize its responsibilities to the District as the nation’s capital and play some of the role that a state would play if we had a state. . . . I would worry less about federal interference and more about getting Congress and the administration to acknowledge this is the nation’s hometown and we want to make it as good as it can possibly be.” And Mary Levy sounds a cautionary note: “Democrats tend to start off with attention to DC, but it fades very quickly. Part of that is, political reality sets in. . . . [President-elect Barack Obama] and his administration are going to be so distracted by the economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care. What’s going to be left over for the District, which he can always count on anyway?”

Three questions: what’s your prediction on whether there will be any substantive change in the local-federal relationship, what’s your preference for what that change should be, and what can citizens of the District do to encourage change in the direction you prefer?

I’ve had an inquiry about whether themail will run classified ads either requesting or offering housing for the inaugural. The answer is yes. If you want to rent a room or rent out a room, let it be known. In the last issue, I recommended the web site of Teachers and Parents for Real Education Reform, but used an “at” symbol in its address where there should have been a period. The right address is

Gary Imhoff


So the Mayor Wants the Obamas to Choose DCPS?
Gina Arlotto,

Yes, I know, please stop laughing now. In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times, our vaunted mayor has the audacity to suggest the president-elect Obama and his wife choose DC Public Schools, when he and his wife won’t even do the same. I stood at 11th and East Capitol Streets, SE, here on Capitol Hill with Adrian Fenty just a few months before he won the primary. I asked him, will you ever put your children in DCPS? And he replied, “Absolutely my children will be in our neighborhood public school next year.” Funny, isn’t it, that I actually believed him then? It’s what secured my vote in the primary. Yeah, I’m still waiting. Fool me once.

So here we are, many of us well-educated and able to afford private schools, making thoughtful, intelligent, informed decisions to choose DC public schools for our children, and yet, when it is even barely suggested that the president (or the mayor) do the same, it is somehow regarded as completely out of the question. I had to challenge a few people in the last few days, who said, “Oh, absolutely not.” And I said, “Well, why?” I am sick of the old canard that the Secret Service cannot provide full security if the president’s children are in a public school. If that were true, we should all be worried about the safety of our children. But we all know what the Secret Service is afraid of, and maybe the Obamas, too — poor black children.

I wrote all this in an E-mail today to the Obama campaign and, while I am sure it will never be read, it made me feel better. I also wrote that, while it hasn’t been easy having my children in DCPS these last nine years, it has made them stronger students and better people. They do not sit on an island of privilege which, let’s be real is what these private schools are. I don’t care how many minorities or voucher students Sidwell or Georgetown Day purport to have or how often their students work at a soup kitchen or deliver blankets to the homeless. My kids know the real world, and it’s not always a beautiful rainbow of happiness. My children’s learning experience has value and honor as well as academics, and it’s a crying shame that my own mayor and now the latest “populist” elected official on the scene, president-elect Obama, can’t see that.


Campaign Posters
David Hunter,

Now that we are done with election season isn’t there a time limit when the illegal campaign posters need to come down from the light poles, stop signs and telephone poles?


Some Friendly Tips on Television Converter Boxes
Phil Shapiro,

A kind retired person recently asked me for help hooking up her digital converter box that she purchased using those government provided coupons. After about three hours of volunteer work, I was able to successfully determined that the General Electric converter box she purchased barely works. It barely works at all. You’ll find others on the Internet encountering a similar experience with the GE converter box. (A hearty thanks to FCC engineers who certified this device as usable.)

Other converter boxes might work better, but it’s good to know that the converter box route is always a second best option. Far more recommended is to buy a digital television. These can be purchased from Best Buy for as low as $130. If the FCC were doing a better job looking out for the needs of consumers they would allow those $40 coupons to be used for the purchase of a converter box or a digital television. ’Nuff said.


Jim Graham Is Responsive on WMATA
David Sobelsohn,

In the November 9 issue of themail, Dino Drudi criticized WMATA’s new policy of randomly checking bags on the Metro. He writes that “since I live in Ward Five, I can’t express my objection to this policy through the normal democratic means of voting Jim Graham out” of office, since Graham represents Ward One.

I live in Ward Six. I have found Jim Graham responsive to my criticisms of WMATA. I believe Graham rightly considers that, in sitting on the WMATA Board, he represents the entire city. So although indeed one can’t actually directly vote against Graham unless one lives in Ward One, he will respond to messages from outside his ward regarding WMATA. Try sending him one.



Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Events, November
Lisa Alfred,

November 10-30. Exhibit of stamps from around the world honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. B. Smith’s Restaurant will host this exhibit of stamps from around the world honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., throughout the month of November. This is the personal collection of Lisa Alfred. Please stop by the restaurant to view the stamps and enjoy a meal in one of Washington’s première locations. Some of the countries represented in the exhibit include Belgium, Cameroun, Djibouti, Guinea, India, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Turkmenistan, the United States, and Yemen.

Sunday, November 16, 4:30-7:00 p.m. The Foundation of Martin Luther King. In this discussion, Dr. King’s immensely important spiritual foundation and the source of his moral authority will be examined. Panelists include: Dorothy Gilliam, former columnist, The Washington Post; Lewis Baldwin, Vanderbilt University; Peniel E. Joseph, Brandeis University; and Rev. C. T. Vivian. Musical performance by the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Children of the Gospel Choir. Free admission.

Monday-Tuesday, November 17-18. Gandhi King Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace. This exhibit and video features the lives of Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Daisaku Ikeda — three men from different cultures and countries who followed a common path of profound dedication and achievement to addressing the plight of the common people. This exhibit and video was created by Dr. Lawrence E. Carter, Sr., Dean of the Martin L. King, Jr., International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, as a means of promoting peace through nonviolent action and community peace building.

Monday, November 17, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Martin Luther King: Giving Freedom a World Voice. Opening Reception. Featured Guest: Tom Houck, Dr. King’s assistant and driver, and author of Driving Dr. King: Chasing The Dream. Indian music and international food. Art exhibits include stamps from around the world featuring Dr. King, priceless Russian Nonconformist Art, photo exhibit of African Americans in Germany.

Tuesday, November 18, 12:00-2:00 p.m. Dr. King’s Impact on Global Human and Civil Rights Law. This forum will discuss the significance and continuing impact of Dr. King’s work on contemporary human rights and civil rights both domestically and internationally. Panelists: Ved P. Nanda, University of Denver; Huwaida Arraf, The International Solidarity Movement; Maina Kiai, Woodrow Wilson International Center; Dianne Orinthlichter, American University; and Adam Shapiro (The International Solidarity Movement. Free admission. To learn more about this series of events honoring the international legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., please visit our web site at


Ready Schools Community Meetings, November 14-15
Jeff Smith,

As you know, last month we released the results of our Ready Schools research on DC’s consolidated schools. (Links to DCVoice reports are at This week, a second and broader round of data will be released, and we want you to join us.

Our second annual Green Eggs and Ham breakfast and community meetings will be held this weekend, November 14, 9:00 to 10:45 a.m. at All Souls Church, 2835 16th Street, NW, and November 15, 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Ward Memorial AME Church, 241 42nd Street, NW. At these meetings, which will take place in two different parts of the city, community members will have an opportunity, not just to hear findings from the fifth annual Ready Schools Project but to participate in small group discussions to share reactions to, impressions of and strategies around the data and what must be done to improve or maintain it. To confirm that you will attend either of these breakfasts, please go to


Department of Parks and Recreation Events, November 15, 17
John Stokes,

Saturday, November 15, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Arboretum Recreation Center, 2412 Rand Place, NE. Yard sale: the Friends of Arboretum will host a yard sale for the community. For more information, call Donald Perritt, Site Manager, at 727-5547.

Saturday, November 15, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Barry Farm Recreation Center, 1230 Sumner Street, SE. Football Jamboree: Ward 8 teams will play other teams from Ward 6 and Ward 7 that did not proceed to the playoffs. There will be music and light refreshments served. Ages 5-15. For more information, call Charles Lowe at 645-3896.

Saturday, November 15, 9:00 a.m., Takoma Recreation Center, 300 Van Buren Street, NW, and Coolidge High School, 6315 5th Street, NW. Citywide Soccer Championship, ages 5-15. There will be ten teams and fifty players. For more information, contact Michael Williams, 673-7674.

Saturday, November 15, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Wake Field Park, 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale, VA. DC Speed Track and Field Club at the Potomac Valley Association Cross Country Track Championship, ages 7-18. Participants will compete in the Potomac Valley Youth Cross Country Track Championship, in order to quality for the Regional on November 22, and hopefully the National on December 13.

Monday, November 17, 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Coolidge High School, 6315 5th Street, NW, and Kenilworth-Parkside Recreation Center, 4300 Anacostia Avenue, NE. Practice begins for DC Speed Indoor Track, ages 7-18. Practice continues on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. For more information, call Edgar Sams, DPR Track and Field Coordinator, at 671-0395.


National Building Museum Events, November 18-19, 22
Jazmine Zick,

November 18, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Community in the Aftermath: The Alternative Housing Pilot Program: The Louisiana Cottages and Carpet Cottages Project. Wil Jacobs, Housing Policy Director, Louisiana Recovery Authority and Ben Dupuy, a partner of Cypress Realty Partners, LLC, describe the design process for the iconic Louisiana Cottages and Carpet Cottages, and challenges facing the Affordable Housing Pilot Program in Louisiana. The completed cottages will provide essential housing stock for the Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged areas of Louisiana.

November 19, 12:30-1:30 p.m., National Award For Smart Growth Achievement. Now in its seventh year, this award program honors up to five communities for their forward-thinking smart growth strategies. Smart Growth is presented in association with the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Smart Growth Network.

November 22, 2:00-4:00 p.m. DAP Building Blocks Final Presentation. The young designers from the Design Apprenticeship Program present their final projects: structures constructed out of modular building blocks such as bricks, tiles, and concrete masonry units. All events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


Historical Society of Washington, DC, November 19
Ed Bruske,

Wednesday, November 19, 12:00 p.m. Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at Mt. Vernon Square. Free admission. HSW Author and Lecture Series: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, 103 mins., 1988, director, Robert Zemeckis. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit is sheer, enchanted entertainment from the first frame to the last - a joyous, giddy, goofy celebration of the kind of fun you can have with a movie camera. The film takes place in Hollywood in 1947, in a world where humans and Toons exist side by side. The Toons in the movie include not only new characters such as Roger Rabbit and his wife, the improbably pneumatic Jessica, but also established cartoon stars such as Bugs Bunny, Betty Boo, Dumbo, Mickey Mouse and both of the great ducks, Donald and Daffy (they do an act together as a piano duo). Worried that his glamorous missus Jessica (voiced by Turner) is cheating on him, cartoon actor Roger Rabbit (voiced by Fleischer) asks the studio to hire grumpy gumshoe Eddie Valiant (Hoskins) to uncover the truth. But when a man ends up dead, Roger becomes the prime suspect and so he taps Valiant — a man who hates anything drawn with a pen — to help him find the real killer. Visually stunning and creatively superior, Zemeckis’s work is frequently staggering and always entertaining. Pulling off that old trick of appealing to the kiddies, while also satisfying their cynical chaperones is part of the film’s charm.” — Ben Falk, BBC. or 383-1828.


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