Don’t Turn Your Head
Dear Head Turners:
There are a few complaints about complaining in this issue of themail.
I’ve started a reply, and I’ve demoted it to the end of this issue.
Therefore, all I’ll do here is call your attention to an article by
New York City’s school chancellor Joel Klein and Al Sharpton that
urges President Obama to support Chancellor Michelle Rhee. “Come on up
for the Rising,” is in the current issue of The New Republic, http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=7a99bd1c-903a-4f47-a2ee-9e4838975b05
Tenley-Friendship Library Held Hostage
Anne C. Sullivan, email@example.com
Neil Albert, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development,
responded to a letter that Councilmembers Kwame Brown and Mary Cheh sent
to him on October 29, asking him to terminate negotiations with LCOR for
the Tenley-Friendship Library/Janney Elementary School site. Albert’s
response arrived two and a half months later, on January 12. It refused
to honor the Councilmember’s request to end negotiations for a project
that has been uniformly opposed by neighborhood groups and the previous
neighborhood ANC. Albert’s letter can be found at http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/westend090112.htm.
The members of the former ANC 3E Special Committee have sent a letter
to Councilmembers Brown and Cheh in an effort to point out the
misrepresentations and false claims in Deputy Mayor Albert’s letter (http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/westend090116.htm).
The committee attached a PDF including images of LCOR’s site plans for
the project as they were presented to the community in October, November
and December (http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/westend090116.pdf).
You will see that the images bear out the claim that very little
substantive revision — and no attempt at problem-solving — has taken
place over the course of the past four months.
The story I have heard, through a source whom I have always found
credible, is that a tuition increase under consideration at the
University of the District of Columbia would raise tuition from $105 per
credit hour for DC residents to $292 per credit hour. This proposed
increase of $187, to be implemented within the next semester, represents
an increase of 173.33 percent. One effect is to immediately set up the
game so that a smaller increase (let’s say, to split the baby, 86.67
percent) would then look reasonable. Obviously, it wouldn’t be. And
reenter Charlene Drew Jarvis, she who had such a big role in saddling DC’s
residents with that white elephant of the new convention center. (And,
we are supposed to believe, the new white elephant that just
coincidentally happened to benefit Terry Golden and the Marriott
corporation for which he fronts. How nice.) As president of Southeastern
University, Jarvis is said to be key in orchestrating a proposed “merger”
of Southeastern, heavily laden with debt, into the public university.
Once again, Jarvis schemes to have the public pick up her pet, private
Who will get hurt? I could regale you with stories of students, with
whom I have sat in class as a part-time student for several years, who
struggle to stay awake and focused as they try to maintain a full-time
job while they take a full-time course load. These kids, and some older
adults, aren’t simply students who work; they’re workers who are
trying to obtain a higher education. But I’m sure this is common
knowledge. What isn’t common so commonly expressed is that once again
the most vulnerable people in the District are to fall victim to the
local political establishment. Longtime District residents, I’m sure,
can tell you how rarely our councilmembers speak of the public
university. All I can ever recall our councilmembers and mayors talking
about is about Howard University. Howard certainly deserves the praise,
but that is not our elected leaders’ charge; the University of the
District of Columbia is. And the elected leaders in the District, with
notable exceptions such as Charles and Hilda Mason — the two were a
unit after all (and Mr. Mason was in fact a Howard alumnus) — have
continuously shown their contempt for the public university in the
paucity of the budgetary allotment: It’s a disgrace.
Added to this disgrace is the crime of our Congressional Delegate’s
selling the university downriver with her complicity in helping Congress
craft and pass the Tuition Assistance Grant, so that children of
wealthier families in the District can send their kids “out-of-state”
for the respective states’ instate tuition. But asking Democratic
elected officials in this town to stand up to Eleanor Holmes Norton is
like asking people to accept that corporate campaign contributions, even
on the local scene, are in fact bribes: They ain’t gonna do it. So we
“little people” must. But I should not only point any fingers at the
new convention center; there’s also the new baseball stadium, funding
for which was guaranteed by the District. I have heard there’s to be a
new stadium for soccer, funded similarly. And then there’s the
sweetheart land deal for Abe Pollin, who doesn’t have to pay a dime in
property taxes for the Verizon Center. Why don’t low-income homeowners
subsisting on low wages ever get such a sweet deal?
Folks, this tuition increase is not simply about improving the only
public university in the District, as Jarvis would spin it. If that were
indeed the case, then included in the proposal would be a plan to add
and strengthen graduate programs where students (and the graduate
faculties) would have to prove that they’re on the cutting edge of
their fields by writing theses and dissertations — the sine qua non
of a university. And that is what President Sessoms should be telling
the District’s government: As public officials, they must at long last
accept tangible responsibility for the public university, fund it
properly, stand up to the Congressional Delegate, and keep it affordable
for students. Please help us thwart this tuition increase in its
Why Obama Visited a Closed Rec Center
David J. Mallof, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Martin Luther King Day my thoughts were in part on economic
inequity and injustice related to granting abusive public subsidies and
direct cash gifts via taxation schemes to those least in need. All local
papers reported — including the Washington Post again proudly
last Sunday on Metro page C1 -- on the historic visit by then
President-Elect on Sunday, January 11, to play hoops in DC at the closed
Marie Reed Recreation Center in Adams Morgan. Closed? That’s right.
All recreation centers are shuttered DC-wide on Sundays. Shockingly,
Marie Reed is closed on Saturdays too, while most others close early at
about 4:00 p.m.! Weekday hours are anemic for most working people, both
early and late. (Go to http://www.dpr.dc.gov for an eye opener.) DC has
unacceptably high incidents of diabetes and hypertension per capita.
Kids roam the streets at night. It seems we spend money for police
cordons rather than to keep rec centers open. Cops should meet kids
there, not at street barricades.
Unfortunately while rec centers persistently go begging for adequate
operating funds, the DC council did gift, via a special scheme using its
precious excise taxation powers, $50 million to the already wildly
popular private Verizon Center just a little over one year ago. Leaders
said the special outright subsidy scheme would be paid mostly by
Marylanders and Virginians buying tickets at Verizon, so DC residents
would be unaffected. Unfortunately too, DC now frantically seeks
relatively small increments in new revenue to support flagging social
programs. For example, it recently raised parking meter fees by $7
million. Yet the DC council, in the Verizon case, wastefully gifted $50
million in precious excise tax revenue to those least needing it.
(During its 2007 deliberations, the DC council also concurrently sought
and accepted a second skybox, on top of another skybox DC’s leaders
already controlled, for the council’s exclusive use. This was a
blatantly corrupt quid pro quo.)
And to this day the DC government, after repeated Freedom of
Information requests during 2007-08, refuses to disclose the plan,
required by a DC law that the Mayor approved, of just how the public’s
$50 million is being spent on “capital improvements” to increase the
value of the private property. Meanwhile Marie Reed and all other DC
recreation centers go vastly underutilized. Our president should not
return to any DC recreation center until they are all open to the public
widely. He emphasized in his inaugural address: “. . . those of us who
manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend
wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day —
because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and
Mayor Fenty should pick up the phone this week and ask Verizon Center’s
owners in good conscience to rebate back the shameful $50 million excise
tax gift in order to increase public access to essential public health
and recreation centers. And the DC council should return the keys to
their second skybox post haste.
Charter Buses’ Idling
Annie McCormick, email@example.com
I understand that the District has an anti-idling law. Apparently no
one told the charter bus drivers who parked on 14th Street between
Thomas Circle and N Streets. On Monday, January 18, the buses parked
there idled for much of the day. Also there was a yellow construction
vehicle parked near the middle of the block on east side of 14th Street
for weeks. The buses had to park around it. It was suddenly and quietly
moved sometime before midnight on Tuesday night, too late to have freed
up the space for the charter bus parking on Monday and Tuesday.
Phew — DC Residents are Inauguration
Joan Eisenstodt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Dorothy’s observations and those of others about DC
residents not attending the inauguration activities. We thought it was
“just us” and felt we’d miss the energy of all those from out of
town. DC has made some dumb mistakes around all this — one of which
was not making tickets for even the parade readily available to those of
us who put up with all of this. More, the Taxicab Commission’s absurd
decision not to have flat fares so that drivers could pick up people
along the way makes it painfully difficult for many to get around. We’ve
gone to two related but not connected events so far; we’ll watch
Tuesday’s events on TV and wait for the District to settle down a bit
before heading out again. Maybe we’ll get a glimpse of the First
Family in the next four years.
As many as two to four million people are expected at the inaugural,
and somehow or other you find a way to bash the DC government for its
inefficiency. Get a good strong grip on yourself. Some things actually
happen with absolutely no DC government cause, good or bad, behind them.
Gary, why not go down to the Mall or out in the city and try to
participate and enjoy yourself? The fresh air might clear out all those
negative thoughts. All around Washington today, people were celebrating
MLK and Obama. I attended a wonderful and hopeful performance at Sousa
Middle School. Students from Alice Deal played jazz; students from Sousa
danced. I volunteered there as well, taking energy efficient packages of
light bulbs and such around the neighborhood. All is free. The public is
invited. Get out in the world and enjoy the benefits of living in the
nation’s capital. No one is telling you to stay at home and complain.
Needless Sour Grapes Make Unpalatable Whines
Len Sullivan, email@example.com
C’mon whinos, complaining about tight security and not being wanted
downtown, or stomping futilely for statehood, is totally inconsistent
with hosting a landmark American presidential inauguration. Those ‘themail’
readers who want to live in a state should move to any one of the fifty
that surround us, and are represented here. Those who want to be part of
our nation’s capital city, should make sure all those short-time
visitors from our fifty states (and beyond) find a proud, welcoming,
world-class city populated by residents who understand their unique role
in this unique place. Get your hair done and go downtown next week. And
then find some positive way to make Washington, DC a better symbol of
our national goals.
Inauguration with the Cranks
M.H. Rudolph, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary and Dorothy, thank you for the encore presentation of
Inauguration with the Kranks. You’ve both been around long enough to
know that, as DC residents, you get to host great events whether or not
you are in the mood for it. Think Millennium Celebration, Million Man
March, World Bank meetings.
Watching from two thousand miles away, I am a bit sad that I am not
there today, notwithstanding the hassle of getting around and dealing
with the crowds. Your most recent rant reminds me of the reaction to
that snowstorm in 1996 when the weather shut everything down and lawyers
everywhere were incensed that they could not get in to work. For the
rest of us, the soft silence of snow packed streets for a couple of days
was a joy.
Just chill for once, and enjoy the fact that we have a new president,
that so many people came to witness this and show their support for him.
Be grateful for once, and humble, and ditch the cynicism. Just this
once, take a break from the whining.
In the next issue of themail, I’ll address why Dorothy and I were
critical of the DC government’s handling of the security for the
inauguration. For now, I just want to point out that we were right.
First, the good news. There wasn’t a single arrest at the swearing-in
ceremony or inauguration parade. This is testimony not only to a
well-behaved crowd, but also to unusual restraint by the many
law-enforcement agencies that overlooked numerous small, harmless
infractions. Now the bad news: all our predictions about the ill effects
of giving security agencies a free hand to run the event came true.
We said that — unless DC government officials stood up for this
city’s residents and our visitors and insisted on changes —
overweening security restrictions would result not only in gridlock but
also in keeping people away from inaugural events. This proved
especially true at the parade, which was one of the most sparsely
attended inaugural parades in recent memory. One of our friends reported
having gone through three checkpoints in a block and a half to get to
the Wilson Building, on the parade route. This deliberate blocking of
attendees resulted in a parade route that even at the beginning had
blocks of empty sidewalks guarded by solid lines of police officers.
Most blocks never got more crowded than 7th Street in Chinatown on a
Friday night, with spectators only three or four deep at most.
The level and extent of security restrictions was unprecedented. As The
New York Times reported, “Though intelligence agencies have
detected no credible threat to any inaugural event or to Mr. Obama, law
enforcement agencies, operating from a network of centers, will command
ground, air and waterborne forces numbering in excess of 20,000 police
officers, National Guard troops and plainclothes agents from more than
50 agencies, according to security planners. The security measures,
enhanced by a White House announcement of emergency financing for public
safety, are by far the most extensive and stringent for the swearing-in
of a president. . . . While the federal security officials have not
projected their total cost for the inauguration, officials in the
District of Columbia have said the city might spend nearly $50 million.
State officials in Maryland and Virginia have estimated they might spend
$12 million and $16 million respectively, and officials in each of the
three jurisdictions have said they hope the federal government will help
pay for their expenses,” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/us/politics/15security.html.
The problem arises not just from the massive growth in the size and cost
of security for this inauguration, but from the imposition of new and
uncalled-for restrictions on the freedoms of Washingtonians and others
who attended the inauguration. “With hundreds of rooftop marksmen and
thousands of police and guardsmen deployed throughout Washington,
inaugural parade participants have been told not to make any sudden
moves or turn their heads to look at Obama as they pass his reviewing
Luckily, the majority of parade participants had the good sense to
ignore this ignoble command; in this democracy, peasants are still able
to gaze upon the faces of their rulers.
These restrictions succeeded only in making people’s lives
difficult, not in increasing real security, but security agents and
government officials have been unapologetically proud of having gone
well over the top in closing down the city. For the record, some
personal accounts of the problems resulting from overzealous security
officers issuing ever-changing orders are detailed in the comments to a
post on DCIst, http://dcist.com/2009/01/swearing-in_ticketholders_also_deal.php.
Terry Lynch, quoted on City Desk, gave his personal thumbs down to
security problems, “‘I waited at the 7th & D checkpoint entrance
amidst a crowd of thousands; Secret Service had only a few metal
detectors in place, so over a couple hours only 250 folks maybe got
through, leaving tens of thousands to leave or left out. A disgraceful
performance by the Secret Service.’ Further, Lynch is also not pleased
by City Administrator Dan Tangherlini who, he says, ‘has failed to
allow many folks to witness the parade or leave with some orderly
semblance after the Inauguration.’ To sum up: ‘A very disappointing
showing; security has trumped access; and there was a vacuum of crowd
control afterwards. DC’s residents and its many visitors deserved
Jason Cherkis gave an account of needless obstacles placed in the way of
those trying to leave the Mall, http://tinyurl.com/9cvbz7.
Post articles about the gridlock problems include http://tinyurl.com/7s63vd,
which details how some of Obama’s relatives who came from Kenya to
attend the swearing-in event weren’t able to get in.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Summer Camp Early Registration, January 21-31
John A. Stokes, email@example.com
The DC Department Parks and Recreation (DPR) has begun an early
registration period for District residents for DPR’s 2009 summer
camps. From January 21-31, District residents are able to register for
any of DPR’s 2009 Summer Camp sessions by visiting one of DPR’s
centers during regular hours of operation. This summer DPR will offer
five two-week sessions from June 15-August 21, Monday to Friday, 9:00
a.m.-5:00 p.m. Camping fees are $100 per session for District residents
for most camps. DPR will also offer eight one-week camping sessions at
Camp Riverview, DPR’s coed residential (overnight) camping facility
located in Scotland, Maryland. The campground is nestled among 217
wooded acres along the Potomac River near the mouth of the Chesapeake
Bay. Complete information on all of DPR’s summer camps is available at
the web site, http://summercamps.dc.gov.
Early registration must be done in person at a DPR center and proof
of District residency is required. All camping fees must be paid at the
time of registration; acceptable forms of payment are Visa, MasterCard,
and Discover, or money orders made payable to DC Treasurer. Checks or
cash will not be accepted. DPR offers a scholarship rate for District
residents to ensure that summer camps are available to everyone,
regardless of their ability to pay. Children of eligible families attend
camps at a flat rate of $25 per child, per camp session. To determine
eligibility or to apply, families must complete a 2009 Summer Camp
Scholarship Rate Application. Applications are available for download at
http://summercamps.dc.gov or by
request by contacting the DPR Camp Central office at 671-0295.
For more information about DPR’s 2009 Summer Camps contact the DPR
Camp Central office at (202) 671-0295, by E-mail at DPRcamps@dc.gov,
or visit http://summercamps.dc.gov.
General registration for DPR’s 2009 Summer Camps will begin on
February 2, 2009.
DC Public Library Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Events, January 23-26
George Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, January 23, 10:30 a.m., Washington Highlands Neighborhood
Library, 115 Atlantic Street, SW. Dr. King Story Time. Enjoy stories,
films and reading activities about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. Ages 1-5. Contact 645-5881.
Saturday, January 24, 1:00 p.m., Capitol View Neighborhood Library,
5001 Central Avenue, SE. Slavery and Civil Rights. Discuss the Atlantic
slave trade, the Jim Crow Era, the Civil Rights Movement and the
backlash, and the modern Civil Rights Movement. Adults. Contact
Monday, January 26, 10:30 a.m., Washington Highlands Neighborhood
Library, 115 Atlantic Street, NW. Dr. King Story Time. Enjoy stories,
films and reading activities about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. Ages 1-5. Contact 645-5881.
DC Public Library Events, January 24-26
George Williams, email@example.com
Saturday, January 24, 3:00 p.m., Petworth Neighborhood Library, 4200
Kansas Avenue, NW. Petworth Quilters. For more information, contact
Monday, January 26, 7:00 p.m., Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood
Library, 945 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. History Book Club. Discuss
biographies of famous American leaders who struggled for freedom and
equality. For more information, contact 671-0267.
National Building Museum Events, January 25-27
Jazmine Zick, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 25, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Girl Scout Day. Calling all Girl
Scouts! Come discover, investigate, and design environmentally-friendly
communities. Scouts will construct a model green community, design
gardens, and much more during this fun-filled, interactive event. $12
per Scout. Open to Brownie, Junior, and Cadette Girl Scouts. Prepaid
registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.
January 26, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Building for the 21st Century.
Sustainable Communities: Connecting Infrastructures and People to
Protect the Environment. Dr. Woodrow Clark discusses his work developing
“agile” energy systems, which generate energy for a cluster of
buildings, such as a college campus, from local or on-site power while
also tying to the central grid. Free; registration not required.
January 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m. For the Greener Good: Sustainability
Roundtable. Join the Editor-in-chief for Architectural Record and
Executive Editor from National Geographic as they discuss the
future of green. What does climate change mean for the built
environment, natural world, and politics? $12 Member; free for student;
$20 nonmember. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based
on availability. All events at the National Building Museum, 401 F
Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events
Vanishing Local News, January 27
Anne Renshaw, email@example.com
The Citizens Federation probes print media’s vanishing local news
coverage, and asks why, on Tuesday, January 27, 6:45 p.m.-9:00 p.m., at
The Charles Sumner School, 1201 Seventeenth Street, NW (at M Street). We
will explore what appears to be the fading prominence of city and
neighborhood news by DC’s major daily publications.
Guest speaker David Jones, Managing Editor of The Washington
Times, will discuss the workings of today’s newspaper industry in
general and his publication in particular. Mr. Jones will address
whether budget pressures, downsizing, competition from electronic and
Internet media, as well as the plethora of national and international
incidents, have squeezed out local news. Is local news now considered
unimportant or will coverage improve, both in quantity and quality?
If newspapers are to be relevant, they need to expand local news,
according to the Citizens Federation. Neighborhood organizations and
community leaders rely on the media to investigate and report local news
(beyond broken water mains, possible panda birth, budget cuts, and
shootings), as well as monitor the performance of District officials and
agencies. The Federation hopes to forge a partnership with Washington’s
newspapers to strengthen their community outreach. For further
information, contact: Anne Renshaw, Federation President, 363-6880.
Seal Woman at
Kensington Row Bookshop, February 5
Beth Meyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Solveig Eggerz, author of Seal Woman, will speak at Kensington
Row Bookshop, 3786 Howard Avenue, Kensington, Maryland, on Thursday
February 5, at 7:30 p.m. She will describe how her award-winning, debut
novel, Seal Woman, is informed by the ancient tale of the seal
torn between two worlds. Charlotte, a German artist, escapes the
devastation of postwar Berlin by following an advertisement placed by
Icelandic farmers calling for “strong women who can cook and do farm
Drawing on the historical event of the migration of 314 Germans to
primitive Icelandic farms in the late 1940s, Solveig describes the
healing powers of Iceland’s rugged landscape and of the plants and
herbs of the tundra landscape. The novel is set in Iceland, Germany, and
Poland in 1928-1959.
A native of Iceland, Solveig spent summers as a teenager working on
Icelandic farms. She has lived in the Washington, DC, area since 1974
and worked as a journalist and a teacher of English and Icelandic. As a
storyteller in elementary schools and in Washington, DC, women’s
shelters, she tells the story of the seal woman. Seal Woman was
published by Ghost Road Press in May 2008
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