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April 22, 2009

Inquiring Minds

Dear Want-to-Knows:

A few unanswered questions: 1) how much time does Mayor Fenty spend on the job? I don’t mean how much time he spends out of town. I mean when he is in town, how many days a week does he spend away from the Wilson Building and off the official schedule? How many hours during the business day, when he does show up at the Wilson Building, does he spend jogging, bicycle riding, playing basketball, practicing for marathons and triathlons, and playing other sports, as opposed to working? Do we need to install a time clock? As a candidate, Fenty worked 24/7; as a mayor, he’s part time. When will the press bust him for it?

2) Who has given Fenty reelection campaign staffers instructions to call current DC government contractors and those who want contracts, and to threaten them that if they want to keep their contracts or get new ones they must contribute to the campaign? And which contractors are willing to talk about the pressure that’s being put on them?

3) To which positions are Fenty planning to make illegal appointments — appointments that the mayor doesn’t have the power to make or appointments that he can’t make without city council confirmation? Will the mayor invent a new category of “interim appointees” to boards and commissions, a term that doesn’t exist in the law, and then claim that “interim appointees” can perform their duties before they are confirmed by the city council? Will the mayor follow through on his promise to nominate qualified people to the Public Employees Relations Board by Friday, or was that promise just a feint to try to stave off the council’s emergency PERB legislation?

4) The Peaceoholics have been kicked out of Spingarn High School after charges of sexual abuse against one of their “mentors.” Is that the first school they’ve been evicted from? How many school programs are they still running, and how many programs are they still being paid to run? And, as WTTG’s Paul Wagner has asked (, why was the Peaceoholics “mentor” not required to undergo the mandatory criminal background check on government workers and contractors who work with children that would have revealed his murder and drugs convictions?

5) Attorney General Peter Nickles claims to Mike DeBonis that he will be moving into DC as required by the terms of his office, and that he has located a DC residence to which he will move by early May, although he refuses to reveal its address ( A reader who wisely wants to remain anonymous asks some good questions to investigate in late May, “Has anyone checked his voter’s registration, auto tags, vehicle registration, driver’s license, apartment insurance, W-4 tax form, primary address for mail, and tax returns (what address he uses with IRS as his tax residence)?”

6) The city council’s Board of Elections and Ethics Investigation Special Committee, chaired by Mary Cheh, has released its report on problems with the November 2009 election (, and it reduces a hot topic to a fizzle. Too short, too general and nonspecific, too namby-pamby — it avoids, rather than answers, all the hard questions. Will the final report of the Special Committee, which is supposed to address larger questions about the operations of the BOEE, be any better, and any more useful to the council and the public?

Gary Imhoff


Sun and Fun in the Dominican Republic
Dorothy Brizill,

On March 20, emergency rulemaking was published in the DC Register to provide a legal basis for the transfer of a DC government fire truck and ambulance that had been declared surplus to Peaceoholics, which in turn would donate the vehicles to the city of Sosua in the Dominican Republic. Ever since then, questions have been raised regarding why the District was disposing of valuable surplus property in such a manner, and who in the Fenty administration was involved in the deal. Here’s part of the story in brief.

In November 2007, the mayor of Sosua, Vladimir Cespedes, visited Washington, DC. As part of this visit, he was introduced to senior officials in the executive office of the mayor in the Wilson Building. He met with David Jannarone, Director of Development in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development, and Pat Ellwood of the Office of Protocol and International Affairs within the office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia. The meeting was arranged by William Walker, a District resident who heads a nonprofit organization, Faith Productions, that has taken troubled DC youth to Sosua to participate in a series of boxing matches. At the meeting, discussions soon turned to Sosua’s need for a fire truck and ambulance, and whether the District had any surplus vehicles. Based on that introduction to Sosua’s mayor, Jannarone and Sinclair Skinner, as well as some of their friends and associates in and out of DC government, started traveling to Sosua frequently to party and have a good time. Skinner is a longtime friend and a fraternity brother of Fenty, and he was the controversial field director of Fenty’s 2006 mayoral campaign. In the spring of 2008, after numerous meetings and conversations with Jannarone and officials in the DC Office of Contracts and Procurement (which oversees the disposal of surplus and excess DC government property), Mr. Walker and Faith Productions were offered a surplus fire truck and ambulance to present to Sosua. However, neither vehicle was operable, and therefore they could not be transported to Miami or to the Dominican Republic by boat. After concluding in April 2008 that both vehicles were junk and little more than scrap metal, Walker abandoned his efforts to act as a middleman. Unbeknownst to him, Jannarone, Skinner, et al., continued to travel to Sosua. Using their influence with the Fenty administration, they were able to inspect and select a different fire truck and ambulance in good condition that could be declared surplus. The fire truck they selected, for example, had only 55,290 miles on its odometer (despite the fact that Fire Chief Dennis Rubin claimed in sworn council testimony that it had 197,000 miles).

Again using their influence, Jannarone and Skinner were able to have both vehicles inspected and repaired at DC government expense prior to being sent to the Dominican Republic. At some point, however, concerns were raised about the seemliness of transferring titles to the vehicles to Jannarone and Skinner. It was only then, in early March 2009, that they reached out to Ron Moten, Chief Operating Officer of Peaceoholics, a major District contractor, to act as the middleman in the deal. They then arranged for the emergency rulemaking. They called on two senior government lawyers, Andrew “Chip” Richardson, Mayor Fenty’s Acting General Counsel, and Thorn Pozen, Special Counsel to Attorney General Peter Nickles and the mayor’s Ethics Counselor, to provide them with legal counsel and to facilitate the drafting and publication of the emergency rulemaking in the DC Register.

After Mike Neibauer’s story breaking the news of the deal in the DC Examiner on March 27 and subsequent press coverage, Moten and the mayor’s office partnered to cover up the true background of the donation. Moten claimed Peaceoholics originated the idea, and that it grew out of youth trips to Sosua that he claimed were run by Peaceoholics rather than Faith Productions. Ironically, Moten has never been to the Dominican Republic, and doesn’t even possess a passport. After press coverage raised questions about the donation, Attorneys Richardson and Pozen played lead roles in Attorney General Peter Nickles’ so-called investigation of the incident and in drafting the AG’s April 3 report on the deal ( — a report that didn’t mention the roles of Jannarone, Skinner, other DC officials, or themselves.


I Blew This One
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

My prediction that Ryan Zimmerman, the premier third baseman for the Nationals, would play out his current contract to become a free agent and then flee to a pennant contending team was wrong. Z man has signed, according to my roomie, in a phone call last night while I’m here in FL body surfing, a contract worth some $45M for several years. That’s a real surprise. I guess he likes living in the area where he grew up and has lots of friends and family. Good for the Nats’ fans.


Gay Marriage
Susana Baranano,

I am concerned about Bill 18-66. I do not support gay marriage, and am concerned that Bill 18-66 will lead to the support of gay marriages. I believe marriage should be reserved only between a man and a woman. The relationship between a man and woman is unique, not exchangeable, and not replaceable.

Consequently, families from this marriage can not be considered as the same as any other. Families created by same-sex couples cannot be considered indistinguishable from any other family. This issue is a fundamental one for society as a whole. Therefore, I do not support Bill 18-66. I urge everyone not to support it and to remove it from council consideration.


Use Metro
James Treworgy,

Clyde Howard,, says [themail, April 19]: “If you have business at 301 C Street, NW, it is best that you have someone drop you off” because of the difficulty parking. He goes on to bemoan the expensive meters and aggressive parking enforcement. I may be stating the obvious, but since you didn’t mention it in your missive, perhaps you are unaware. 301 C Street NW is within two blocks of stations on the Red and Green Metro lines, Archives or Judiciary Square.


Finding a Good Vietnamese Restaurant
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

The surest way to find a good Vietnamese restaurant is to find out where all the Vietnamese truck drivers eat.



National Building Museum Events, April 23-29
Jazmine Zick,

Thursday, April 23, 6:30-8:00 p.m. The Federal Triangle: Building Big. A panel of experts discusses the construction, political origins, and the integration of various fine arts in the Federal Triangle. Panelists include Robert Leighninger, author of Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal; George Gurney, author of Sculpture and Federal Triangle; and Dr. Richard Longstreth, Professor of American Studies and director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at George Washington University. Moderated by the National Building Museum’s Martin Moeller. Free. Held at the National Archives’ McGowan Theater. Tickets available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Limited seating available. Visit

Wednesday, April 29, 6:30-8:00 p.m., For the Greener Good: Vertical Farming. Learn how buildings and structures can be transformed to provide sustenance. Panelists include Robin Osler, Elmslie Osler Architects, Dickson Despommier, Professor of Public Health, Columbia University, Carolyn Steel, author of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives. William Thompson, editor, Landscape Architecture, moderates. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at


The Internet Is Serious Business, April 24
Leigh Ann Caldwell,

Come join us for “The Internet Is Serious Business,” presented by People’s Production House and Radio Rootz (free and open to the public), 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 24, at The Latin American Youth Center Art and Media House, 3035 15th Street, NW (one block west of the Columbia Heights Metro station).

The Internet Is Serious Business follows an alien from outer space learning about the Internet: who owns it, how it works, and why that matters. What the alien doesn’t realize is that the federal government has pledged billions of dollars towards expanding the Internet. How should they spend it? We’ll envision the Internet we want to see and talk about how we can achieve it. Younger media activists and media educators are invited to participate in a special hands-on prescreening workshop from 4:30-6:30 p.m.


Department of Parks and Recreation Events, April 24-25
John Stokes,

Friday, April 24, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Hillcrest Recreation Center, 3100 Denver Street, SE. Trip to National Museum of the Native American for ages 55 and up. Take a trip to the National Museum of the Native American, see the latest exhibits and enjoy lunch out. For more information, call Ben Butler at 645-9200.

Friday, April 24, 7:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m., various locations. Teen Night for ages 13–19. Call 671-0451 or visit for a list of locations and times.

Saturday, April 25, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Turkey Thicket, 1100 Michigan Ave., NE. Fit 2 Live Community Health Day. DPR and the Miss Black USA organization have partnered with the 50 Million Pound Challenge to raise awareness on health issues. The Fit 2 Live Community Health Day will feature an obstacle course, a 3K Fun Run/Walk, health screenings, physical fitness tests, and fitness and meal demonstrations. This year a new component has been added to Fit 2 Live; Community Law Help. During the entire day, DC lawyers will provide free twenty-minute individual, legal consultation to the community on various issues including family law, landlord and tenant law, and civil rights law. For more information, contact Miss Black USA program coordinator Breyuna Williams at (404)539-7251.

Saturday, April 25, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Trinidad Recreation Center, 1310 Childress Street, NE. Supreme Teens Community Service Project for ages 13–19. Teenagers will clean up the inside and outside of Trinidad Recreation Center to earn community service hours. For more information, call Anthony Higginbotham at 727-1293.

Saturday, April 25, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Bald Eagle Recreation Center, 100 Joliet Street, SW. Mini Barnival for ages 6-16. Youth in the community will have a day of carnival activities and entertainment. Refreshments will be provided. For more information, call Margie Robinson at 645-3960.

Saturday, April 25, 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE. Turkey Thicket spring beautification fling for all ages. In conjunction with the Greater Brookland Community Association, The Brookland Chamber of Commerce, and the Brookland Community Garden Association, all community residents are invited to clean, preen, plant, and prune the Turkey Thicket recreation center grounds. For more information, call Mark Williams at 576-9238.

Saturday, April 25, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Lafayette Park Recreation Center, 5900 33rd Street, NW. Go Green Month for ages 5-8. Participants will clean and beautify the recreation center. For more information, call Justin Rouse at 282-2206.


Big Read DC, April 25, May 2-3
Lisa Alfred,

The Big Read DC invites Washington, DC, residents to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of reading and experiencing a single book as one community. The annual event is presented by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. This year, DC is reading Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. The Big Read DC is part of The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This year’s honorary chair is DC’s own George Pelacanos, author and screenwriter. He follows upon the heels of former First Lady Laura Bush, who served as honorary chair in 2008. For a complete schedule and to RSVP for events go to

Saturday, April 25, 11:00 a.m., Big Read DC 2009 Kickoff at Gallaudet University’s Estad Auditorium at 800 Florida Avenue, NE. Please join us this Saturday for the official kickoff event for the 2009 Big Read DC and the city read of Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Special guests include the 2009 honorary chair, George Pelecanos, crime author and writer/producer of the acclaimed HBO series “The Wire.” The kickoff will celebrate the themes in the book, and will feature an integrated deaf/hearing program. Refreshments will be served. Free. 387-8391, or RSVP at

Saturday, May 2, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Read-a-thon at Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. Come and join the marathon reading of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by special guest readers from the DC community including Councilmember Bowser, Sally Quinn, Maureen Orth, Sam Ford, and others. Free. 387-8391.

Sunday, May 3, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 16, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Walking Tour: New Deal Washington. Tour of the Foggy Bottom and Downtown neighborhoods surrounding the White House gives us the opportunity to see the Federal core of Washington with new eyes, as we imagine how it looked during the Great Depression. Learn about the New Deal, and the people who created its innovative programs. The tour examines the period in which The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is set. Humanities Council of Washington, DC, 925 U Street, NW. Free. 387-8391, or RSVP at


Bike Rack Public Arts Dedication, April 27
Deirdre Ehlen,

The honorable Mayor Adrian M. Fenty invites you to a dedication ceremony to mark the completion of twenty-eight artistically designed bike racks by six DC artists. This project began as a collaboration with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the DC Creates Public Art program, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), and Councilmember Tommy Wells. The artistic bike rack project was created to encourage people to bike more and to increase the amount of bike racks throughout the city that are both artistic and functional. The artists whose designs were selected are Matt Barinholtz, Karin Edgett, William Gordon, Carolina Mayorga, Melinda Merinsky, and Joe Sutliff. All six bike rack designs will be displayed at the dedication event.

Monday April 27, 2:00 p.m., at US DOT Southeast Plaza, located at New Jersey Avenue and Tingey Street, SE. RSVP to Deirdre Ehlen,, 724-5613. For more information about the project, please go to


Creation: Towards a Theory of All Things, April 30
Beth Meyer,

Dr. John Umana, author of Creation: Towards a Theory of All Things, concerning the evolution debate between Darwinism and intelligent design. This book seeks to reconcile differences between Darwinism and Intelligent Design, where possible, based upon the scientific evidence. What is the meaning of ‘evolution’? The book argues that Darwinists are correct in concluding that all species descend from common ancestors — evolution is real. But Darwin’s hypothesis 150 years ago that natural selection and random mutations account for the origin of species remains unsubstantiated. What accounts for the emergence of life and origin of species? Has life emerged on Mars or other worlds? John Umana is a lawyer in Washington, DC. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy and a law degree from the University of Michigan where he taught philosophy. As a young student, he was a National Science Foundation scholar in physiology. Author talk on Thursday, April 30, 7:30 p.m., at Kensington Row Bookshop, 3786 Howard Avenue, Kensington, MD.


Best-Selling Mystery Writer Laurie R. King to Discuss Newest Book, May 3
George Williams,

Best-selling mystery writer Laurie R. King will discuss her latest book, The Language of Bees, on Sunday May 3, 2:00 p.m., at the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, near the Cleveland Park Metro station. The Language of Bees is King’s ninth novel in her Mary Russell series. It opens as Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, return to Britain’s Sussex coast after several months abroad. The anticipated rest and beekeeping is interrupted when a surprise from Holmes’ secret life emerges. The son Holmes never knew existed appears and asks for their help with finding his missing wife and child.

King’s 1994 book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, first introduced Mary Russell to Sherlock Holmes. A cult following soon developed. In addition to the Mary Russell series, King is the author of highly praised stand-alone suspense novels and the Kate Martinelli mysteries series. King has won the Edgar, Creasey, Nero, and MacCavity awards for her writing. A book sale and signing, courtesy of the Trover Shop, will follow the discussion.



Volunteer Radio Producer Sought
Jonetta Rose Barras,

Graduate student or retired journalist sought to help produce a weekly radio show focusing on District politics. Must be willing to commit a minimum of five hours each week; must have some knowledge of radio production, ability to write pithy prose, conduct research, and ability to negotiate District government bureaucracy without becoming frustrated or angry.

Interested individuals should send a resume or bio via E-mail to


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