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March 22, 2009

It’s News to Me

Dear Reporters:

Who’s going to pick up the slack as the major newspapers either close or severely cut back their coverage of local news? Two points are usually made by the advocates of traditional media outlets. The first is that smaller media — community newspapers, web sites, neighborhood blogs — are incapable of covering local news because they can’t afford to pay reporters; the second is that larger, traditional media outlets are unbiased and balanced, as opposed to smaller papers and web news sites run by individuals or supported by interest groups.

Jesse Walker’s article “After the Newspaper,” in Reason last week,, takes up the question of where the news will come from after the newspaper closes (or, I would add, after the newspaper stops covering the news). The answer he gives is that it will come from the same four basic groups that it has always come from: the gadflies, the activists, the insiders and whistleblowers, and the neighbors. The difference is that these groups have become empowered to report on and deliver the news themselves. I would also say that their news is now uncensored and unfiltered by the reporters to whom they give scoops or by the editors who rewrite, refocus, and sometimes squash the stories the reporters write.

“A few years ago,” Walker write, ‘the Washington Post wrote excitedly about the Gannett chain’s attempts ‘to involve readers in news-gathering’ and draw ‘on specific expertise that many journalists do not have.’ It’s a fine idea and I wish them well, but the article’s grand example, in which ‘retired engineers, accountants and other experts [were] solicited to examine documents and determine why it cost so much to connect new homes to water and sewer lines,’ doesn’t sound all that different from the age-old journalistic practice known as ‘finding good sources.’ The real challenge, particularly as papers either cut back or go out of business altogether, is to tap the information already flowing from citizen to citizen without any journalist’s intervention. Then you can help it flow farther.” For years, newspapers and broadcast stations have drawn upon news sources and ideas that originated in smaller community newspapers and local news web sites, just as those smaller papers and web sites have drawn upon the larger newspapers and broadcast outlets. The difference is that community papers and web sites have generally been scrupulous about giving credit to their original sources, while the larger papers and broadcast stations have usually avoided giving credit and attribution to their sources.

But doesn’t the filtering and selection done by reporters and editors result in better, less biased, more reliable news? Not necessarily; sometimes it results in more biased, less complete, and misleading news. Here are a few recent examples. On March 11, Mayor Adrian Fenty and Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, held a major joint fundraiser in town. The Washington City Paper sent a reporter, but the paper didn’t do any original reporting on the event; it just linked to the Post’s account. The Post sent three reporters, but its coverage the next day was shockingly incomplete. The fundraiser was picketed and protested by over one hundred people from two different groups: labor unions that had protested the mayor’s unqualified nominees to the Public Employees Relations Board just the week before; and Empower DC, which chanted, “One Term Mayor,” and charged that Fenty was selling out the city to the developers who were his major campaign contributors. This was the largest political protest over local city politics in decades, but there was no word of it in the newspaper or on the web site. The Post’s three reporters were too good and professional not to take note of the protest and to write about it, which means that their stories were deliberately edited to remove any account of the protest.

On March 20, Mayor Fenty held a press conference about the financial scandal at the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO). You probably saw the short video clip that television stations carried that night, in which Fenty, visibly angry, said that he was outraged. What you didn’t see was the questioning that led up to that short clip. Fenty was in fact rather indifferent, emotionless, and matter-of-fact at the press conference. Then reporters peppered him with a series of questions, asking him whether he weren’t angry, whether he weren’t outraged, whether he weren’t outraged about how widespread embezzlement could be through the District government. It was in response to the fourth question in a row that he gave his angry answer, which you saw on news shows that night. But the anger that you saw wasn’t at the OCTO scandal, it was at the reporters who were hounding him to come up with an angry response. At that press conference, Dorothy said that another DC agency was now being investigated by the Inspector General for a similar embezzlement scandal involving ghost employees on the District’s payroll, and that one employee of that agency had already been dismissed. Neither the mayor, nor anyone in his administration, nor any member of the press asked her for any details.

Finally, last Sunday I noted in themail that Mayor Fenty had not only not reported his China and UAE trip gifts to the Office of Campaign Finance, but that he had not reported any gifts to OCF since he became mayor. Either Fenty is so unloved and unpopular that no one has wanted to give him anything or he is so contemptuous of the law that he thinks he isn’t bound by reporting requirements. But in the past week no major news outlet in town has picked up that lead.

Gary Imhoff


Cutting Jobs, Raising Taxes
Dorothy Brizill,

On Friday, Mayor Fenty released his FY2010 budget, “Meeting the Challenge” ( The $10.3 billion budget includes $186 million in stimulus funds available as a result of the Obama administration’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (for example, $6 million in COPS funding under the Act will allow the District to hire 150 additional police officers by FY2010). From March 24 to April 24, the council will hold hearings on the FY2010 Budget Request Act of 2009 and the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Act of 2009 (the notice and schedule of public hearings is posted on the council’s web site at

The Fenty budget eliminates 1631 government employee positions — 458 vacant positions, 398 positions eliminated through attrition, and 776 positions “eliminated through organizational realignment.” In the Executive Summary of the budget, Table 1-5 (on page 1-8 in Volume 1) details the personnel (FTE) changes being proposed by the Fenty administration. Some of the proposed changes include the “elimination of positions due to reduced funding” in the Office of the City Administrator (10 positions), the Department of Human Resources (33), the Office of Contracting and Procurement (24), the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (118), the Department of Housing and Community Development (34), the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (29), the Metropolitan Police Department (45), the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (28), the Office of Unified Communications (18), DC Public Schools (250), the office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (126), the Department of Human Services (45), the Department of Public Works (138), and the Department of Transportation (55). Other positions are being eliminated as a result of outsourcing — for example, the Department of Medical health (240 positions), Department of Health (16), Department of Parks and Recreation (250), and Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (13).

While Mayor Fenty claims that his budget doesn’t raise taxes, it does contain a number of policy proposals and a laundry list of new or increased fees that will reach directly into the pockets of District residents. For example, the mayor’s budget proposes (Volume 1, pages 4-42 to 4-46) to eliminate sales tax holidays, expand automated traffic violation enforcement, increase taxi and limousine license fees, levy economic interest taxes on sales of co-op units, repeal the law that automatically raises the homestead deduction with the consumer price index, repeal the law that indexes the standard income tax deduction and the personal exemption to the consumer price index, impose a DCRA basic business license expedited service fee, establish a new “streetlight maintenance fee” on homeowners, impose filming fees for movie and television productions, increase the E911 fee on wired and wireless telephone carriers, increase parking meter rates, impose parking meter fees on Saturdays, increase DCRA administrative fees for abatement of housing code violations, institute a DCRA fee for zoning compliance letters, increase DCRA fees for building plats, increase DCRA basic business license fees and fines, and expand automated traffic violation enforcement. (This last item makes it clear that red-light and speed cameras are primarily a money-raising measure, rather than a traffic safety program.)


Fenty’s Freudian Admission
Timothy Cooper,

The statement by Mayor Fenty in the Washington Post article (“Fenty Says Bite the Bullet on Vote Bill,”  that, “The opportunity to get a vote in the House of Representatives — if it dies now, it probably won’t come up for a long, long time,” admits to a stunning lack of faith supporters of the one-vote bill have in their own strategy of achieving equal rights by way of incrementalism.

Ever since Rep. Davis came up with this concoction in 2003, the bill’s long line of supporters have been studiously claiming that the so-called “Davis” House vote would help pave the way to full political equality for DC residents, justifying its less-than-equitable distribution of fundamental human rights as a mere stepping stone to genuine political parity. Many longtime political activists didn’t buy it, but the public at large swallowed it whole. Now the mayor’s own words reveal authentic insight into the current thinking of DC politicos about their long-professed strategy. The logic of Fenty’s most recent statement is that if we can’t get one vote in Congress now, it will be a “long, long time” before we can try that again — and an even longer (translated decades, if not centuries) before we can go down the road to statehood.

The truth is our so-called “civil rights” leaders may have at one time believed their own strategy of “incrementalism,” but I seriously doubt if any do today. Otherwise they would have hopped on the “let’s get with statehood” bandwagon after the Democrats took over the entire US government. In a rare moment of candor, the mayor has let the cat out of the bag. It’s the one-vote-in-Congress bill or it’s nothing. Only that. Reason enough to put it out of its misery once and for all and get on with the task of challenging the country to step up to do the whole thing right and grant us equal rights under law.


Admitters, Apologizers
Anne C. Sullivan,

Mayor Fenty is not the only one who refuses to admit a mistake on the Tenley-Friendship Library/Janney Elementary School project. The person most responsible for pursuing private development on the site, and who continued to support the resulting delay of the library and the sale of school land until the folly of the project was abundantly clear to even the most casual observer, was the Ward 3 councilmember, Mary Cheh.

There is a more important way that Councilmember Cheh can and should make amends. Councilmember Harry Thomas is planning to or already has introduced legislation that will strengthen Title X of the DC Code, the part that requires a “suplussing” decision before public land can be offered for sale or lease for more than twenty years. This decision, to determine that public land is no longer needed for public use, was never made in the Tenleytown case, even though the ANC 3E Special Committee urged this type of analysis from the beginning. Planning for the educational needs of the school children at Janney Elementary School and avoiding the costly and lengthy continuing delay of the Tenley-Friendship Library should have been the first priority. Instead, the government’s priority was to push the private development project ahead, and the library and school would have to make do with the leftovers.

Prevention is the cure in cases like this. Once the land is offered to developers, the fight to protect public facilities becomes an uphill battle. Councilmember Cheh would be wise to help get Councilmember Harry Thomas’ Title X reform legislation passed quickly. After all, Councilmember Cheh is now the chairperson of the committee that will oversee the surplussing decisions for public land. If Title X is strengthened, it’s possible that some of our politicians and government officials won’t owe us so many apologies.


DCSBOE Approves New Student Residency Verification Regulations
Beverley Wheeler,

The DC State Board of Education (DCSBOE) unanimously voted to approve the new Residency Verification Regulations at a public meeting held March 18. The most notable change in the regulations is to the date at which local education agencies can begin their residency verification process. It is being moved from July 1 to April 1 annually. As part of its decision making process, the State Board had received updates on the changes to the existing regulations from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education at previous public meetings and received input at a public hearing on February 18. State Board President, Lisa Raymond stated “these new regulations will enable school leaders more planning time for the coming school year. We have heard overwhelmingly from leaders at the district and the school level that this will be helpful for parents by allowing them sufficient time to enroll their children and for schools by providing more preparation time and having real numbers to prepare for.”

Also at the meeting, representatives from the Higher Achievement Program along with one student participant gave a presentation to the State Board members. Their program works with five hundred students from across the DC metro region. It is a research based program whose mission is centered on developing the academic skills, behaviors, and motivation of middle school children to prepare them for acceptance to college preparatory high schools.

In addition, Micki Freeny, Coordinator of Children’s and Youth Services for the DC Public Libraries (DCPL), presented on the DCPL children’s programming and its work with the District’s youngest learners. The research based program offers forty preschool reading programs a week at local libraries. Ms. Freeny also noted that an outreach program has been instituted to reach parents who may not currently visit the library programs. The outreach program teaches parents techniques on how to promote their child’s literacy regardless of the parent’s literacy level.


The Best We Can
Frank Winstead,

Online, the City Paper’s Loose Lips presented a story of passive-aggressive conflict in “Tech Support” (scroll down to “Doing the Best She Can”) The City Paper omits a link to the video, so here it is (start at the 3:51 mark): In an oversight hearing, Councilmember Cheh brings out the verbal rusty pliers on Bridget Davis, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, which has eleven employees assigned to answering questions from the DC council. Cheh claims these public servants cook council-requested data too much for her taste. The City Paper paints a picture of the noble Cheh as the victim of a vast mayoral plot to keep the council in the dark.

A quick check of Ms. Davis’ DC government biography shows: “Prior to joining the Fenty administration, Davis staffed national and local political campaigns, while working for political consulting and mailing firms.” Using the awesome power of Google, I see that a “Bridget Davis” was a paid employee of Bill Rice’s 2006 campaign for the Ward 3 council seat. Rice dared to run against the mighty Mary Cheh. Others who have only opposed Cheh’s policies, such as Anne Sullivan and Nancy MacWood, have felt the wrath of Mary in the Council Star Chamber. So, is Cheh really upset over how the mayor formats information sent to the council, or is she giving political payback to opposition? Is there one Bridget Davis or two? I eagerly await your answers.


Edward Cowan,

Gary asks [themail, March 18]: “Why is it so hard for our local politicians to admit error, especially when they make so many of them?”

If the premise is correct, “they make so many of them,” it answers the rest of the question. Surely error rate varies with individuals.

It is a common if not universal characteristic of elected officials to resist acknowledging error. What they fail to recognize is that an occasional admission would strengthen their credibility. Of course, a continuing stream of frequent admissions would be damaging.


Tree Removal
John Wheeler,

A problem when we hear only one side of a story, is we jump to conclusions based on incomplete facts. I suspect we’re missing important facts in Jack McKay’s message about the city’s order for him to remove a street tree [themail, March 11]. First, I doubt the city considers the tree to be a street tree.

Here’s my street tree experience. There was a perfectly good street tree in front of my house, but I wanted it removed. (I wanted it removed because it was a white mulberry, an undesirable tree planted by a bird.) I made the request on-line. I also requested what type of tree I’d like to be planted to replace the mulberry. DC removed the mulberry and replaced it with my requested tree.

My recommendation to anyone in doubt on how to get DC services that they call 311 or visit the DC Services web site. You’ve got to admit that this is thousands of times better than the old system of looking in the blue pages at hundreds of listings for the DC government and guessing what the proper office is, then calling it to find out the number is wrong. The one-number system isn’t perfect, but it’s a huge improvement.


Much Ado about Nothing
Wayne Turner,

Pete Tucker’s recent diatribes about the Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Reporting Act of 2007 [themail, February 25, March 1, March 4] are growing tiresome. The Act (A17-0039) was passed by a majority vote of the DC council at two readings and was signed by the mayor in May 2007. Far from being a mandatory program, the law allows parents and legal guardians “to opt our of the HPV vaccination program, for any reason.” (Sec. 5 (b)(1)(B)(iii). If Mr. Tucker is seriously seeking to repeal this law, he has the option of filing a referendum and gathering petition signatures, as provided by the DC Home Rule Charter, DC Code §1-204.101(b). Residents of the District of Columbia are facing grave and very real health concerns, including a raging HIV/AIDS epidemic. Councilmember Catania and the Committee on Health need to conduct agency and budget oversight hearings without irrelevant distractions.


Lest We Forget
Dave Donaldson, DC Democratic State Committeeman,

In the last edition of themail, Paul Craney, Executive Director of the DC Republican Committee, and writing on its behalf, wrote an open letter about a recent scandal involving the Chief of Technology and a story about the Board of Elections and Ethics’ missteps with absentee ballots in the November General Election. Through guilt-by-association tactics, Mr. Craney attempted to smear Councilmember Cheh’s reputation because Cheh was asked to head up the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment and a Special Committee involving the Board of Elections and Ethics.

In that letter, however, the Republican Committee exhibited an incredibly faulty memory; It failed to acknowledge that the councilmember who had two years of oversight over the Office of the Chief of Technology Officer and the Board of Elections and Ethics was herself a Republican with more than a decade of council experience. By contrast, in her two months of oversight responsibility, Cheh has moved swiftly on both cases cited and, in the latter case, Cheh was the one to ferret out the scope of the problem and find a workable solution to it. Cheh is fast earning a solid reputation with her oversight responsibilities — witness her opposition to the appointment of Lori Lee to the Public Service Commission. Frankly, the DC Republican Committee should be embarrassed about playing “gotcha” politics, especially when it would have to acknowledge that its leaders were sleeping at the switch.



The Mayor’s Arts Awards, March 23
Masresha Tadesse,

Reminder: the twenty-fourth annual Mayor’s Arts Awards will be held on Monday, March 23, at 6:00 p.m., at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Concert Hall, Millennium Stage. Hosted by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the Mayor’s Arts Awards are the most prestigious honors conferred by Washington, DC, on the individual artists, arts organizations, and patrons of the arts. Free and open to the public. To find out more the 24th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards, go to


Department of Parks and Recreation Events, March 23
John Stokes,

Monday, March 23, 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Arboretum Recreation Center, 2412 Rand Place, NE. The Arboretum neighborhood will have an Easter Egg Hunt and celebration for all people in the community. They will play music, games, and have snacks. For more information, call Donald Perritt, 727-5547.

Friday, March 23, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Bald Eagle Recreation Center, 100 Joliet Street SW. March madness for ages twelve and under. Youth will spend the day cleaning and beautifying the recreation center and its grounds by planting flowers, picking up trash, and cleaning the building. For more information, call Lorraine Westfield, 645-3960.

Monday, March 23, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Dunbar Senior High School, 1301 New Jersey Avenue, NW. DC Speed outdoor track and field season begins. Orientation and information session about the DC Speed track and field club along with a short practice; please arrive early. Ages seven to eighteen. For more information, call Edgar Sams at 671-0395.

Monday, March 23-Friday, March 27, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., various locations. Spring Break Camps for ages six to thirteen. DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will introduce Spring Break and Spring Break Sports Camps for children and youth ages 6 to 13 years old at twenty-two DPR centers. All Spring Break Camps will operate from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. each day. Participants will need to provide their own bag lunches. Registration can be completed online or in person at any of the Spring Break camp sites listed below. There is a $25 registration fee per participant, payable only by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or money order made payable to "DC Treasurer."

Spring Break Camps locations: Bald Eagle Recreation Center, 100 Joliet Street, SW; Banneker Community Center, 2500 Georgia Avenue, NW; Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW; Emery Recreation Center, 5801 Georgia Avenue, NW; Fort Davis Community Center, 1400 41st Street, SE; Fort Stevens Recreation Center, 1327 Van Buren Street, NW; Hillcrest Recreation Center, 3100 Denver Street, SE; Kenilworth Recreation Center, 4300 Anacostia Avenue, NE; Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 7th Street, NW; King Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N Street, SW; Lamond Recreation Center, 20 Tuckerman Street, NE; North Michigan Park Recreation Center, 1333 Emerson Street, NE; Riggs LaSalle Community Center, 501 Riggs Road, NE; Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th Street, NE; Trinidad Recreation Center, 1310 Childress Street, NE; Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue NE; Watkins Recreation Center, 420 12th Street, SE.

DPR Spring Break Sports Camps locations: Baseball Camp, Ridge Road Community Center, 800 Ridge Road, SE; Football Camp, Fort Stanton Recreation Center, 1812 Erie Street, SE; Football Camp, Takoma Community Center, 300 Van Buren Street, NW; Soccer Camp, Volta Park Recreation Center, 1555 34th Street, NW; Sport Camp, Hardy Recreation Center, 4500 Q Street, NW. For more information, contact DPR Camp Central at 671-0295 or E-mail

Monday, March 23-26, 5:45 p.m.-7:45 p.m., Ferebee Hope Recreation Center, 3999 8th Street, SE. March madess tournament for ages thirteen to eighteen. Youth will engage in a friendly competition in a video game tournament. For more information, call Gregory Poag, 645-3917.

Monday, March 23-27, 5:00-8:00 p.m., Palisades Community Center, 5200 Sherrier Place, NW. Children aged five to twelve will learn how to make and assemble kites. For more information, call Katrena Edwards, 282-2186.

Monday, March 23-27, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Spring break photo workshop for ages six to thirteen. Campers will learn about traditional photography. Campers will also collaborate on a group photo project to be presented at the end of the session. For more information, call Fran Scott, 282-2204.

Monday, March 23-27, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Lamond Recreation Center, 20 Tuckerman Street, NE. Spring break football camp for ages five to thirteen. Players will learn skills and techniques that will help them on the upcoming Pop Warner football season. For more information, call Ricky Davenport, 576-9541.

Monday, March 23-27, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Takoma Community Center, 300 Van Buren Street, NW. Spring break football camp for ages six to thirteen. Youth will take part in football drills and flag football games. For more information, call Al Cook, 576-7068.


King Philip’s War, March 26
Beth Meyer,

Sheppard Ranbom will speak on his book-length poem King Philip’s War at the Kensington Row Bookshop, 3786 Howard Avenue, Kensington, Maryland, on Thursday March 26, at 7:30 p.m. King Philip’s War reveals the life, leadership, and legacy of King Philip and the final years and days of the Native American tribes of New England that hosted the first Thanksgiving and were, within half a century of the European arrival, victims of genocide. The book reveals the inner life of King Philip, the rebel Wampanoag leader who led the uprising that historians have called the bloodiest war in American history. Moving from rage to tenderness and resignation, Philip’s voice is redolent with the rhythm of the seasons, the beliefs and dreams of an ancient people, and the bitter realities of a civilization being lost. The book, born from historical record and native legend, is a meditation on tribe and family, natural harmony, and human tolerance.

Sheppard Ranbom is a Washington, DC, poet. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, he spent much of his childhood and youth in a landscape replete with reminders of the Algonquians who once populated all of New England. In this volume, he captures a period in our history that changed America forever and the daily dreams and struggles of a people seeking to retain their way of life.

Copies of King Philip’s War are available at the Kensington Row Bookshop or online at


Mayor and CFO at Ward Three Democratic Committee, March 26
Thomas Smith,

The Ward Three Democratic Committee will hold a special community dialogue with Mayor Adrian Fenty to discuss critical issues of importance to the community on March 26, 7:15 p.m.-9:30 p.m., in the Great hall of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle Street, NW, one block off Wisconsin Avenue at Tenleytown Metro. Mayor Fenty will speak at 7:30 p.m. At 8:00 p.m., DC Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi also will discuss the fiscal health and well-being of the District, especially in these economically troubled times that are forcing many other city and state governments to cut programs, reduce budgets, and eliminate projected deficits.

The Committee also will debate and vote on a resolution calling on the mayor and DC council to abandon plans for a public-private partnership at the Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street location and approve a construction contract for the rebuilding of the Tenley-Friendship Branch Library as soon as possible. For more information, contact Thomas M. Smith, Chair, Ward Three Democratic Committee, 364-7130 or


UDC/DCSL DC Voting Rights Symposium, March 27
Joe Libertelli,

Please join us for The Struggle to Vote: The Right to Political Self-Determination in the District and Beyond, on Friday, March 27, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Building 38, 2nd floor Windows Room (Red Line Metro at Van Ness/UDC Station). The morning reception will begin at 9:00 a.m., followed by the international panel at 10:00 a.m. The afternoon lunch reception begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by the DC panel at 2:00 p.m. An evening reception will follow the afternoon panel.

Speakers will include Wade Henderson, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Walter Smith, Executive Director, D.C. Appleseed Center; Johnny Barnes, Executive Director, ACLU, National Capital Area; Ilir Zherka, Executive Director, DC Vote; Timothy Cooper, Executive Director, Worldrights; Prof. Seigfried Wiessner, St. Thomas University School of Law. An individual’s right to vote has long been regarded as "an inherent dignity of the human person." Yet, in countries all across the globe, some citizens are denied the right to express themselves politically. In the District of Columbia, citizens have the right to vote for the President of the United States. We, however, lack a representative with voting power in either the Senate or the House of Representatives; and our own elected legislature is subject to the whims of congress. President Obama named the District of Columbia a priority during his administration and is likely to sign the DC Voting Rights Act of 2009. But will this bill give the citizens of the District the same political voice as the citizens of the "several states"? What is the most effective method of enfranchising these citizens? How have other disenfranchised peoples around the world fought for their voice and how can these struggles inform our local debate? Our symposium will examine these questions in two contexts: first, the right to vote abroad, and what initiatives were used to obtain that right; and, second, our focus will shift to the District and the specific challenges presented to obtain the right to vote in DC. For more information and to RSVP: Julie Akemann, 274-7362,


National Cherry Blossom Festival Family Day, March 28
Jazmine Zick,

Saturday, March 28, 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m., family festival. National Cherry Blossom Festival opening ceremony, 4:00-5:30 p.m. Celebrate the opening of DC’s cherry blossom season with a family festival that explores Japanese arts and design and the official opening ceremony of the 2009 National Cherry Blossom Festival.

As part of the day’s events, the Museum will install Fu-an, a contemporary “floating” Japanese tea room and present a discussion with architect Kengo Kuma. The Museum extends its thanks to the Japanese Embassy for assistance with translation, installing the tea house, and arranging for the architect’s travel. During the Festival, Mr. Kuma will conduct two 20 minute moderated discussions at 11:00 am and 1:00 p.m., on the inspiration of his design.


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