In the last issue of themail, I wrote about Black Friday sales, and
asked for recommendations of good Black Friday deals at local and
specialty stores. I expected to be criticized for this by
anti-consumerist, anti-consumption activists who view shopping and
buying as secular sins, but I didn’t get those complaints. Nobody
wrote that all Christmas presents should be either made at home out of
construction paper or home-baked (with whole grains and without sugar,
eggs, and milk, of course).
I did get two unexpected complaints, however. Tom Sherwood writes,
below, that Black Friday is not normally the busiest shopping day of the
year (although it sometimes has been). He’s right, but I never called
it the busiest. I called it the “biggest” sale day. It is, in the
sense that it has the biggest sales — the biggest discounts and the
best prices. This is a recent development; it’s only in the past few
decades that the day after Thanksgiving has displaced the day after
Christmas as the single biggest (again, not busiest) sale day, and only
over the past decade that it has become so popular and so publicized.
Vincint Thomas wrote to complain that I shouldn’t call the day “Black”
Friday, and should find another name for it. Just to clarify, the
meaning of “black” in “Black Friday” is that it is the
approximate date on which retailers get out of the red and into the
black; that is, that they begin to turn a profit. That’s a good thing,
and nothing at which to take offense, unless you believe that the word
“black” should never be used.
Suggestions for local shopping outlets did come from the Brookland
and Mid-City (U Street) neighborhoods. Please look for them in this
issue and consider them if you’re looking for something that can’t
be found in large and chain stores.
Transitions: it’s not news to themail’s readers, but on Monday
Mayor Adrian Fenty and Michelle Fenty had their third child, Aerin
Alexandria Fenty. Also on Monday, Jonathan Rees, a frequent contributor
to themail who both created and was the subject of a lot of controversy
here, died after a long illness.
Construction Blocking Streets and Taxicab Gas
Jim Champagne, email@example.com
Really, I am not trying to beat a dead horse. But what happened to
the supposed law designed to prevent construction firms from taking over
sidewalk space, as well as street lanes? One such company is in the
process of building a “green hotel” at the northwest corner of 22nd
and M Streets, NW, and it has with impunity closed the sidewalks, as
well as street lanes on both 22nd and M. Who can I talk to if I want to
file a complaint and to get relief from this ridiculous practice?
Am I the only one puzzled and perturbed that cab-riders are still
subject to the $1.00 add-on for each and every ride, even though the
cost of gas has dropped from over $4.00 in July to its current below
$2.00 level? I did not agree with the surcharge when “they” imposed
it. And I sure do not agree with it now. What is our recourse other than
Rival Neighborhood Fights at Spingarn and
Dunbar High Schools
Carolyn C. Steptoe, Ward 5, firstname.lastname@example.org
It is my understanding massive and intense gang fights (and arrests)
occurred all day Monday at Spingarn and Dunbar High Schools. I was told
the level and range of today’s violence at both schools was horrific:
I understand students were jumped, simultaneous gang fights occurred on
different levels of the schools, guns were confiscated, and the
principal, teachers, and staff were afraid to intervene. Apparently the
fights occurred as a result of the increased mix of different citywide
neighborhood gangs and rival neighborhood populations under one roof.
Given what I was told, coupled with the recent school violence at
Anacostia High School, it appears the mayoral takeover and mass school
closings have escalated the already deadly neighborhood rivalry to
powder keg status in our local DCPS schools. The safety of our DCPS
children, teachers and employees is even more unstable than before,
given the increased forced mix of rival neighborhood gangs and factions.
Any substantive learning and teaching is not likely to be occurring in
I hope the mayor and Chancellor will do something tangible —
besides conducting national interviews and propagandizing artificial
education reform — to abate the heightened safety concerns and dangers
resulting from the executives decisions involving takeover, mass school
closings and NCLB restructurings.
I am in total disagreement with those who advocate that, “it takes
a whole village to raise a child.” This cliche went out with
high-button shoes. Disciplining a child that is not yours will wind you
up in trouble with the parent or the law; therefore, an unruly child is
the responsibility of the parent, not the school or the whole village.
The whole village’s responsibility is to see if the law can take
charge of this uncivilized child.
The community can no longer tolerate the misbehavior of someone else’s
children or turn a blind eye to their unlawful ways. We must demand that
civility exist in our schools or send these incorrigibles to a training
school or a school, like Bundy was in the old days before some of you
got here, that accepts such students. We need schools that have teachers
trained in discipline that can bring these students under control. Until
we stop trying to correct the behavior of children who are set in their
ways of destruction and creating mayhem, only then will we have school
rooms conducive for educating those who want to learn. We either take
control of the students or they will take control of us.
[“It takes a whole village to raise a child,” couldn’t have
gone out with high-button shoes, since that “ancient African proverb”
has been traced back only as far as Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1970’s.
Maybe it went out with platform shoes. — Gary Imhoff]
Washington Post on
Brian Robertson, Briancrispin2004@yahoo.com
After reading the Colbert King articles in the Washington Post
on the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/21/AR2008112102686_pf.html,
the only conclusion to be drawn is that the Fenty administration and the
city council have made a political decision to tolerate a high level of
violent juvenile crime. Otherwise, they would devote sufficient
resources to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, without
which police efforts to do something about juvenile crime are completely
ineffective. If there is no place to keep young offenders and they are
let back out on the street to terrorize citizens, any pledges made by
the mayor or the council to do something about juvenile crime are a joke
and a fraud. King’s articles in the Post have identified the
problem; we should not be diverted by any other considerations until we
demand and receive some resolution from the mayor’s office and the
council to the crisis of juvenile detention facilities and
administration of DYRS.
School Violence and Compulsory Education Age
Ralph J. Chittams, Sr., email@example.com
That “compulsory education age” phrase has also been perverted,
in my humble opinion. Compliance with “compulsory education age”
should not be the responsibility of any school system, it should be the
responsibility of the parents. It should be the responsibility of
parents to see that their children are educated until the age of
majority. Placing that burden on the school system absolves parents of
any responsibility for regulating their children’s behavior. The
message parents have received, and continue to receive, is that, we, the
so-called professional educators, know what is best for your children.
Turn them over to us and we will handle it. School systems have been
complicit in spreading this message.
After more than forty years of this failed policy, we now see a push
for “parental involvement.” If the parents hadn’t been pushed out
of the schools in the first place, there would be no need for policies
and programs to lure them back. If parents had not been stripped of
their responsibility to parent, perhaps they would not have abandoned
their involvement in the public school system. Perhaps that is why
parents at private and parochial schools stay involved. They have a
vested interest in their children’s education. It is their money on
the line. If little junior cuts his butt, mommy and daddy pay a price.
What is the cost to public school parents when little junior acts up?
Do-gooder, PC-types start yelling and screaming. It is now not junior’s
fault that he or she stabbed someone; the child is not held accountable,
and nothing happens! Now the school is held hostage by these repeat
offenders, the teachers can’t teach, and the good kids can’t learn.
The law (from the Feds down to the local level) needs to change. We
need a paradigm shift in thinking as it relates to public education in
this country. Why is the right to an education deemed an absolute when
no other right rises to that level? Murderers and rapists are executed.
Did they not have the right to life? Yes. However, they lost that right
based upon their actions. The right to a free public education should be
no different. Everyone has a right to it. However, if you act in such a
manner as to become a danger or a disruptive influence, you should lose
that right. When is someone going to stand up and advocate for the
thousands of children who are on the right path?
Violence and disorder in schools threaten learning and should be
dealt with promptly and appropriately. But schools also teach important
lessons about just and fair decisions. DCPS is responsible for enforcing
all of the District’s regulations regarding discipline in public
schools. Those regulations outline both the offenses for which students
can be disciplined and the process that the school and the Chancellor’s
office must follow in order to suspend or expel students.
Before a student can be suspended for any length of time or expelled,
the school must provide notice to the student’s parents and an
opportunity for a conference or hearing that allows the student to
explain his or her side of the story. Notice and hearing are required by
both DCPS regulations and the Constitution. DCPS has a long history of
ignoring these important procedural safeguards and unlawfully kicking
students out of school. Students and parents tell us that, too often,
notices come late or not in parents’ native languages, as DC law
requires. Notices that are sent often include incorrect information (for
example, recent notices list, as places where students and parents can
seek assistance, the names of organizations that no longer provide such
assistance). Conferences and hearings are often not convened, meaning
students have no chance to present a defense.
When students are kicked out of school, they become more susceptible
to disengaging from school, dropping out, and starting down a path that
has become known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” This is not to
say that no student should ever be suspended or expelled, but such
actions can have grave consequences and should not be taken lightly or
without lawful procedures. For these reasons, the American Civil
Liberties Union of the National Capital Area is committed to combating
unlawful, excessive, and arbitrary removal of students from school. For
more information, please contact Kaitlin Dunne, Equal Justice Works
Fellow, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, November 21, I received a large packet in the mail from
the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Office of Civil Infractions. It said my wife and I would be required to
pay a fine of two thousand dollars for work illegally done without
permit on our property at 3526 11th Street, NW, in May 2008. This seemed
odd, since we had not done any work on our property in May. At the back
of the packet was a series of pictures, with notations by DCRA Inspector
Kevin Smith, of a property that was clearly not ours. Smith noted “illeagle”
work, including a fence that was “to high” and a post that went “overe”
a property line. He initialed and signed the documents. We thought
perhaps this was just a minor error, that maybe the property was in NE,
not NW. After a while, I realized the front door of the house in one of
Smith’s photographs looked familiar, so I went over to 10th Street,
NW. Sure enough, the property in question on 10th Street, NW, not 11th
Street. By my count, Smith’s incorrect listing of our address occurs
at least fifteen times in the DCRA packet we were sent.
We contacted DCRA by phone and got an answering machine. We E-mailed
DCRA, as well as Councilmember Jim Graham, his staff, and several DCRA
officials whose names appear on the document. As usual, Councilmember
Graham’s staff got to work on the matter immediately. DCRA did not
reply at all. On Monday, I E-mailed again around midday, and received no
reply, save for an E-mail from James McKay, who was listed on the DCRA
document as General Counsel of DCRA. The signed document says McKay
received the document by intra-office mail on November 19. McKay
informed me that he has not worked for DCRA since September.
Today I heard back from Timothy Handy of DCRA saying he had just “signed
and filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) a Notice of
Summary Dismissal which dismisses the Notice of Infraction I701004 which
you received in error.” I appreciate his response. However, I then
received a message from CM Graham’s office, helpful throughout this
nonsense, that included this earlier response from Edries Jamal of DCRA,
which for some reason Mr. Jamal did not send to me: “Our investigation
shows that this case was forwarded to the Office of Administrative
Hearing (OAH), and if the complainant feels that he was wrongly cited,
he has to go the hearing to challenge this matter.” I do not “feel
that I was wrongly cited” — I was wrongly cited. I know where I
live. I also do not see why I should have been required “to go the
hearing to challenge this matter” — the error lies with the city,
not with me. I live here and pay taxes here. I do not appreciate the
suggestion that the government has the right to force me to defend
myself against its own ineptitude. It is also not my concern which
subset of which division of the massive DC bureaucracy one government
employee chose to refer the matter to. That’s their affair, not mine.
If the city screws up, it is the city’s obligation to make it right.
As of now, to my knowledge Kevin Smith has not been reprimanded for his
It’s That Time of the Year
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom
Folks are raking their fallen leaves out onto the street adjacent to
the curb here in northwest DC, and that poses a potential hazard to cars
parking along the curb. If you should park your car atop a pile of
leaves you may come back to a burned out wreck. The catalytic converter
under the car is blistering hot and will ignite any dry leaves that come
in contact with it. Be advised.
DC Vote Promotes “Taxation Without
Jaline Quinto, DC Vote, email@example.com
Today, DC Vote urged the DC city council to approve a bill introduced
to rename a portion of South Capitol Street, SE, as “Taxation Without
Representation Street.” The council will consider Bill 17-909 to
designate the portion of South Capitol Street, SE, between N Street, SE,
and Potomac Avenue, SE as “Taxation Without Representation Street, SE.”
The street name refers to the fact that DC residents pay the second
highest per capita federal income taxes in the nation but are denied
voting representation in Congress.
“‘Taxation Without Representation’ has become the battle cry
for DC Vote and thousands of DC voting rights supporters. The license
plates with this phrase have educated millions about our issue,” said
Ilir Zherka, DC Vote Executive Director. “The renaming of a street in
the District to reflect DC’s status would go a long way to educate
even more.” Zherka added that the councilmembers have long been
advocates for the DC voting rights movement. “We have great allies in
the council in our fight for DC voting rights,” he said. “DC Vote
applauds the efforts of the DC government to highlight the plight of DC’s
residents who are denied a vote in the governing body that taxes them at
the second highest rate in the country.”
Teaching the Easier Levels of Freerice.com
Phil Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
The web site called Freerice.com is a useful tool for boosting
English language skills, but the easier levels of the web site are not
so accessible. So I’ve started creating some free learning resources
to help youth and adults become more comfortable with the easier levels.
Here is a screencast video I recently uploaded to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3pOWrBTS_A.
Within the description of this YouTube video is a link to downloadable
versions of this video that run well on older computers (as far back as
1995) and a version of the video that runs on iPods and iPhones. If you
know any youth or adults who could benefit from this video, thanks for
alerting them to it. This video is in the public domain and may be
freely redistributed for any purpose.
On this Thanksgiving day meet John Breen, the Indiana computer
programmer who created Freerice.com. He will remind you that a single
person’s ingenuity can alleviate the suffering of many. You can meet
him in this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecM_4JLGg28.
Our society is not so good at the ingenuity thing, although we sometimes
delude ourselves into thinking we are. Ingenious we are as individuals,
but are we ingenious yet as a society? Not so much. How do we become
more ingenious as a society? You tell me.
Black Friday in the Mid-City Neighborhood
Natalie Avery, email@example.com
In response to the request for Black Friday shopping tips,
particularly at independent and small shops in town, see the Mid-City
Black Friday promotion for shops and restaurants in the U and 14th
Streets, NW, neighborhood at http://www.midcitylife.com.
“Think Local First” Holiday Shopping Guide
Abigail Padou, firstname.lastname@example.org
The November/December issue of Brookland Heartbeat is now
available. Articles and features in this issue include: “Think Local
First” Holiday Shopping Guide; Bubba’s Muscogee Restaurant to Close
Doors on Dec. 24th; Council Votes to Bury 12th Street Power Lines; Plan
for Rhode Island Avenue Gets Underway, and more. Brookland Heartbeat
is mailed to more than 9,500 homes in the greater Brookland area. Brookland
Heartbeat is also on the web at www.brooklandheartbeat.org.
Brookland Heartbeat is a nonprofit, all-volunteer community
newspaper. To be added to the E-mail distribution list, send your E-mail
address to email@example.com.
Please stop calling this day Black Friday and think of another word.
Signed, a concerned African-American male.
Black Friday is not — not — the “biggest sale day of the year.”
Although it is popularly said to be so, it’s actually only one of the
busiest days of the year. While there are a lot of shoppers out looking
and doing some buying, the busiest shopping day of the year in terms of
sales is normally the Saturday before Christmas. This from the shopping
center executives. You could Google for more definitive backup, but I
have this battle with TV types every year. It’s similar to my battle
over the word “factoid.” While many think it is a little-known or
minor fact, it is — in fact — something that appears to be true but
isn’t. Like Black Friday being the busiest shopping day of the year.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Department of Parks and Recreation Events,
John Stokes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 27, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Fort Davis Recreation
Center, 1400 41st Street, SE. Tenth Annual Feed the Homeless Program,
ages 13-19. Volunteers and teen club members will meet at Fort Davis
recreation center to prepare sandwiches, fruit, and drinks to distribute
to homeless residents of the District of Columbia. The teens will visit
several sites throughout the city. For more information, call Elijah
Fagan, Ward 7 manager, at 645-9212.
Friday, November 28, 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., Fort Davis Community
Center, 1400 41st Street, SE; Riggs LaSalle Community Center, 501 Riggs
Road, NE; and Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th Street, NE. 2008
Girls Volleyball, ages 9-15. Beginning November 28, the 2008 Girls
Volleyball Season will kick off at three centers. The season will
consist of six games, with a one game elimination playoff, and a
Citywide Championship Game.
National Building Museum Events, December 2, 4
Jazmine Zick, email@example.com
Tuesday, December 2, 6:30-8:00 p.m., 2008 L’Enfant Lecture on City
Planning and Design: Revisiting Learning from Las Vegas. Thirty-six
years after its release, Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for The
New Yorker, revisits Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s
seminal book Learning from Las Vegas and asks whether we can
still learn from Las Vegas.
Thursday, December 4, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Divorce Your Car. While public
transportation use continues to rise in America, the overall number of
people served is fairly small. What will it take to get Americans out of
their cars? A panel of experts discuss how to encourage more energy
efficient travel for the future. 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.
Board of Education Hearing on Improving
Education, December 3
Sean Greene, firstname.lastname@example.org
The District of Columbia State Board of Education will hold a public
hearing Wednesday, December 3. At the hearing, the State Board will
receive public input on ideas, recommendations, and initiatives to
improve education in the twenty-first century. The hearing will begin at
5:30 p.m. at 441 4th Street, NW, in the District of Columbia State Board
of Education Chambers, located on the lobby level of the building.
Constituents who wish to comment at the hearing are required to
notify the State Board in advance by contacting the Executive Director,
Beverley Wheeler, by phone at 741-0884 or by E-mail at Beverley.Wheeler@dc.gov
before the close of business Monday, December 1. Please provide one
electronic copy in advance, and bring fifteen hard copies to the hearing
for the State Board members to view. The meeting will air live on DSTV
Comcast Channel 99 and RCN Channel 18.
Historical Society of Washington, DC, December
Ed Bruske, email@example.com
Saturday, December 6, 1:00 p.m., Historical Society of Washington,
DC, 801 K Street, NW. Free admission. How the Grinch Stole Christmas,
Dir. Ron Howard, 1 hr. 45 minutes, 2000. Director Ron Howard casts
comedian Jim Carrey in the title role in this live-action adaptation of
the famous Christmas tale by Dr. Seuss, giving this rendition of How the
Grinch Stole Christmas a delightfully magical spin. In the land of
Whoville everyone loves Christmas and count down the whole year until
that wonderful time. However just outside Whoville lives the Grinch (Jim
Carey), a green hairy twisted creature that hates, and always has hated,
Christmas and was rejected by the Who’s as a child. A young girl from
Whoville sets out to befriend the Grinch and help him find his love of
Christmas but, when it goes wrong early on, the Grinch becomes even more
rotten and plans to ruin it for everyone. RSVP@historydc.org
Saturday, December 6, 3:00-4:30 p.m., Historical Society of
Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW. Free admission. Sacred Music Series:
Mitchell Ringers and Jubilee Ringers, “Ringing in Christmas.”
The Mitchell Ringers, fourteen adults, and the Jubilee Ringers, fourteen
children, are two of ten handbell ensembles from St. Matthew’s United
Methodist Church. The ringers perform on a seven-octave set of
Schulmerich Handbells and a six-octave set of Malmark choir chimes. With
a growing reputation for excellence over the years, the Mitchell Ringers
have performed at the Mormon Temple Visitor’s Center at Christmas for
the last 25 years. The Jubilee Ringers are all in the seventh grade and
they have participated in our Children’s Melody Madness Handbell
Festival for three years. St. Matthew’s handbells group’s most
recent CD, recorded in June of 2008, is “Who Let the Bells Out?”
Nancy Cappel, founder and director of these ensembles, is beginning her
fortieth year as Director of Music at St. Matthew’s. She directs four
vocal choirs and eight of the ten handbell ensembles. Nancy has
published several articles in Overtones, the bimonthly publication of
the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Inc. Her book on “Children
and Beginning Handbells” is widely used by handbell directors. RSVP@historydc.org
Holiday Cocktails in the Nation’s Capital,
Philip Greene, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Museum of the American Cocktail presents a holiday cocktails
seminar by Derek Brown and Phil Greene. Tuesday, December 9, 6:00-7:30
p.m., at Bourbon, 2321 18th Street, NW, the heart of Adams-Morgan.
$35.00 per person pre-registered; $40 at the door. Get ready for the
holidays in style!
Join renowned DC mixologists Derek Brown, Justin Guthrie (of Central
Michel Richard, http://www.centralmichelrichard.com), Owen Thomson of
Bourbon, and Museum cofounder Phil Greene as they prepare their favorite
holiday cocktails and tell you the stories behind them. Drinks will
include the Tom and Jerry, Baltimore egg nog, hot buttered rum, glogg,
plus many others. Entertain in style this year with great recipes and
new twists on the classics. Light appetizers will be served, along with
sample-sized holiday cocktails.
Please RSVP in advance, so we know what quantities of food and cheer
to have on hand. Must be 21 or older to attend. Please don’t drink and
drive! How to register: http://www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org/Events/default.aspx?city=Washington#Seminar30
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