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July 15, 2009

Recent Developments

Dear Washingtonians:

In the last issue of themail, I wrote about the small pocket park at the corner of Girard and 14th Streets NW, which was reopened at a ceremony on Friday after a long and costly renovation. It turns out that on Saturday there was another day-long opening weekend celebration, and during that day the attendees voted to rename the park “President Barack Hussein Obama Park.” This would be something of an insult to any president, since the park is just a basketball court with a seating area, and its most prominent feature is a pair of restrooms. But Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham immediately introduced a bill to rename the park in accordance with the informal vote, (the URL will be changed when the council numbers the bill). The Post’s Tim Craig pointed out that DC law forbids naming any public space after any living person, That could cause a problem, but Graham has actually anticipated it. The bill doesn’t really rename the park; instead, it “symbolically designates” it as Obama Park. It’s not a new name; it’s a nickname, a play name, a pretend name. Obama will be honored, I’m sure. But that’s not the punch line. I wrote about the park that it was difficult to see where the $1.6 million was spent, and that “we’ll never find out how the city managed to spend so much money to so little effect.” On Monday morning, the future Obama Park failed city inspections. It was closed to redo a substantial amount of the work that has been done; it’s expected to be closed for several weeks.

Also in the last issue of themail, I wrote that “the city council’s investigation called for by Chairman Gray has been carefully proscribed and limited to Barry’s contracts with Ms. Watts-Brightwood.” There was something of a public outcry about that limitation, and Gray has responded to a degree. The “Council Contracts and Grants Investigation Authorization Resolution of 2009” still reads as though it is aimed specifically at Councilmember Barry and his contracts with Ms. Watts-Brightwood, but Councilmember Gray has introduced some loopholes in the law that will allow Robert Bennett to do a more thorough investigation of the city council’s contracting and grants, at his discretion ( — again, the URL will change when the council numbers the bill). For example, Sec. 2(f) reads, “As part of the investigation, Mr. Bennett may examine any personal service contract or grant awarded by the Council, including any documents relating to the award. ” This is an opening that we should take advantage of. If you have information about irregularities in any council contract or grant that would be helpful to Mr. Bennett, please send it to Robert S. Bennett, Skadden Arps, 1440 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005 or to,

Gary Imhoff


Bill 18-345 Could Provide a Tool for Voter Fraud
William O’Field,

On Monday, July 13, I presented testimony on Bill 18-345, the “Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009,” at the public hearing of the city council’s Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, chaired by Councilmember Mary Cheh. As a former member of the staff of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE), I felt compelled to comment on the bill, as this is the first time in some twenty years that DC’s election laws have been opened up to this degree for amendment. Overall, I support the bill; however, I have some reservations and concerns about the provision that will provide same-day registration, which allows individuals to register to vote on Election Day.

I support same-day registration but, as I stated earlier this year at the January 26 public oversight roundtable of the council’s Board of Elections and Ethics Investigation Special Committee, I have serious concerns about the Board’s bloated voter roll. The Department of Justice is also concerned about bloated voter rolls across the country, because they could enable voter fraud. I recommend that a thorough review of the voter roll be undertaken by an independent outside consultant. The recommendations from the consultant could be reviewed by the Board’s staff who, I believe, need help undertaking this kind of project. A nonpartisan contractor would give the Board’s staff the support that is needed. After that is done, I would feel better about same-day registration, but I must caution that the District of Columbia is not like the states that have same-day registration, where their voters may be less transient. With the surrounding jurisdictions so close to our ten square miles that make up the District, nearby outside intruders can play mischief with our elections by crossing their state lines and come into our city.

At the January 26 hearing, I also stated that the DCBOEE conducted a voter roll comparison with the surrounding jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia in 1997, following the November 5, 1996, Presidential general election. It was discovered that there were dual registrants who voted in two places. Those individuals voted in their state and then came into DC and voted here. The names of those who voted in two places were referred to the United States Attorney’s Office. I further recommend that the Board once again work with the surrounding jurisdictions to run a comparison match for dual registrants and refer anyone they find who has voted in two places over the last twelve years to the US Attorney’s Office. I always want to open up the franchise further; however, I do not want the District to be victimized by voter fraud with same-day registration and find that an election has been compromised. In my opinion, and that of others, same-day registration is the one place in the election process that is vulnerable to election fraud.


Summer Youth Jobs Program
Melissa Williamson,

Here we go again. Today is the first full day of payment for summer youth children and there are children who did not receive the right amount of money. There are children who have $9.00 on their cards while there are others who received as much as $250.00. When is Mayor Fenty going to get this right?


It’s Been Four Years
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

Four years ago, I called the Department of Public Works in DC to alert them to a potential hazardous situation. The new granite curbs that were being installed in many parts of the city had a very sharp exposed edge on the street side. This sharp edge would ensure that people who fell and hit their heads on that sharp edge would likely split their heads open like a ripe watermelon. Particularly vulnerable are elderly folks and children, who fall more often. I was assured that my caution was relevant and that the DC Public Works Department would look into it. My recommendation was to put a two-inch radius on the exposed edge, similar to the exposed edges on the cast concrete curbs all around the city. Here we are four years later and I just observed the new curbs being installed on Massachusetts Avenue just south of Ward circle. They all granite curbs with very sharp exposed edges. Nice work, DPW.


Legitimate Businessman’s Social Club?
Frank Winstead,

Councilmember Mary Cheh, raised in the state that boasts a decapitated horse’s head on its official seal, Jerseied-up her ward by adding a $50,000 expense to the DC budget to create a Ward 3 “business association” ( Unlike Councilmember Barry’s endeavors, I am confident that Cheh’s entity has all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, with all the principals in lockstep. This money should be returned to the city coffers and Cheh’s “funky funding” investigated. There is not a lot of difference between Marion Barry’s activities and Mary Cheh’s. Open the books and open the doors to the Wilson Building to let all the bad smells and self-serving councilmembers out.


Wither Goest the AMC?
Ed T. Barron,

Just noticed that the movie listings in the Washington Post no longer carry any listings for the AMC theaters in DC and the surrounding environs. Wassup?


Are You a Patriot?
Wenzell Taylor,

Continental Congress 2009 (CC2009) will take place in November. CC2009 is not a Constitutional Convention. The District of Columbia has yet to nominate any delegates to this historic venue. We The People Congress has a brand new easy to navigate web site,, with all the information and tools needed for real patriots to stand up and legally and effectively, yet nonviolently, defend against violations of the Constitution.

CC2009 is the booster shot if not the cure against the latest designed failed attempt of the citizens of DC to secure their right to sovereignty. The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government, lest it come to dominate our lives and interests. Are you a patriot? Prove it.

The rights of all citizens, including the citizens of the District of Columbia, are secured in the founding documents of our nation. Go to the web site There you can take part in this historic action of your first amendment right to hold the government accountable for violations of all our fundamental rights and for tyranny. CC2009 will take place November 9-24, 2009. Right now nominations are being entered into a database to elect three representing delegates from each state and the District of Columbia. You may nominate anyone you feel is of an established respectable character or pillars of the community and who have a proven passion for the Constitution as authors, scholars, or activists. This is the next appropriate legal step in finally giving DC its voice in Congress.


I Am DC: I Demand the Vote
Iler Zherka,

We are thrilled to announce DC Vote’s latest campaign, I Am DC, I Demand the Vote, which tells the real stories of DC residents in their own words. This exciting new campaign will highlight the everyday people that make up the fabric of DC life — nurses, teachers, students, civil rights leaders, activists, journalists, and community leaders. You will see our I Am DC campaign ads on WMATA buses, local blogs, web sites, and newspapers. Take a look at the first advertisement, featuring Julian Bond, NAACP Chairman, which ran recently in Congress Daily: There are more to come!

But, this isn’t just an advertising campaign. It’s about reaching out to all DC residents to join the movement for voting rights. Be a part of this exciting campaign by sharing your story about why you demand the vote for Washington, DC. Our experience has shown that when people in the states are reminded that regular people call the District home, they are more likely to support our cause. That’s why we want you to tell your story. We’ve also launched a dedicated web site, This is your forum to tell us why you demand the vote. You can share your story, read other people’s stories, download the advertisements and more.

In our travels to the states, we want to share your personal stories with constituents. They need to see how people like you are impacted by DC’s denial of democracy. Everyone is facing tough times and full agendas right now — with your help, we’ll be able to elevate the profile of DC voting rights in key states and on Capitol Hill. Are you DC? Do you demand the vote? Tell us why at Then, spread the word to friends and family by forwarding this E-mail, sharing the ads with others, or posting them to your Facebook profile. Together, we will show the nation and world that the movement for DC voting rights is alive and well.


Desi Deschaine
Clark E. Ray,

As a colleague and a friend, I will miss Desi Deschaine. He was one of a kind. His warm smile, his excitement for life, his willingness to always go the extra step for a friend, will be what I remember most when I think about Desi. And I will think about Desi often. Desi knew how to live life to the fullest and I always admired him for that. He made everyone around him smile. He could charm the socks off of anyone and he did. Desi did everything he did with gusto.

I join with so many of Desi’s other friends and colleagues to send my condolences to his family and loved ones.

Desi may you rest in peace, knowing that you will be missed by all who knew you and that though your life was much too short it was one that meant something and will be remembered. Desi you will be forever loved and missed!


On the Hine Development
Norman Metzger,

There have been multiple public meetings on the proposed Hine redevelopment starting last year, with the community given opportunities to weigh in along the way. I have attended these meetings, offered my views, and listened with care to various and often quite divergent views. I’ve been impressed by the strong efforts made by Councilmember Wells and his staff, plus city officials from the Deputy Mayor’s Office, to make sure the community was involved. The last meeting, held several weeks ago, centered on the proposals from four developers — out of initially a much larger pool — for what they would do at the very large Hine site. Those proposals have now been posted online (

Personally, I strongly favor the Stanton/East Banc proposal, not least because of the very able team behind it, one that has time after time demonstrated a deep understanding of the nature of the Capitol Hill community and affirmed that understanding with a strong record of actual development on Capitol Hill, one that has been a key factor in Capitol Hill having become such a a wonderful place to live and to visit. This proposal, I believe, has easily the strongest architectural representation compared to the other proposals, in Amy Weinstein and Phil Esocoff. That team has in turn created a plan with very compelling features including, now quoting my neighbor Randy Steer: “a nice mix of both market and affordable housing, offices, retail, and special-purpose (Shakespeare Theater); a net increase in available parking (provided that half or more of the spaces go to the residential units); and a nice variation in building height and setbacks that fits more naturally into the streetscape than some of the more suburban-oriented designs, and as a bonus a bunch of roof gardens and ‘green roofs.’”


Janney School and Historic Preservation
Richard Layman,

While I know nothing about the specifics of what historical society is involved (since it is unspecified in Ed Barron’s post, themail, July 12), there is nothing in historic preservation law that prevents buildings from being rehabilitated, including for better energy performance, after a building has been designated as a historic landmark or is deemed a contributing resource as part of a historic district. I will grant that it does add time to the process, and provides for a process of review that doesn’t ordinarily exist in such matters. However, my general sense is that this added level of review is particularly necessary in the case of DC-owned properties, where too often haste makes waste, and making long-term, quality decisions is often avoided in favor of the quick fix.

Typically, DC government hasn’t been a very good property manager. This has definitely been the case for the school system. This failure in management capacity has nothing to do with historic preservation, although in many instances historic preservation has been blamed for management failures it had nothing to do with. There are hundreds of thousands of buildings across the country that are designated historic and manage to be rehabilitated just fine. And there is nothing unique to DC to make it some sort of outlier in this regard.

Furthermore, there are many examples of large-sized buildings and complexes (often industrial in nature) that have been rehabilitated and adaptively reused, while at the same time energy efficiency has been enhanced. Rather than be reflexively oppositional (and/or quick to write to themail), it would behoove Mr. Barron to learn more about historic preservation and building rehabilitation.


Re: Robert McNamara
Neil Richardson,

Not to beat a subject to death (no pun intended) but Robert McNamara’s passing reminded me of an encounter I had with him about fifteen years ago. While in grad school I was working as a laborer for a tile and marble installation company doing work at his house in Georgetown. McNamara was having his private bathroom remodeled. Besides an amazing collection of books in the bathroom, I made note that on the back of the bathroom door hung the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Considering his legacy from that point on, I had a better understanding of where his deepest thinking took place.


Intowner July Issue Now Online
P.L. Wolff,

This is to advise that the July 2009 online edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials (including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’ also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature (the accompanying images can be seen in the archived PDF version). The complete issue (along with prior issues back to January 2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link in the Current & Back Issues Archive. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in print, including all photos and advertisements. Special Note: We recently introduced a new way for visitors to our web site to share their comments about our lead stories, the Scenes from the Past feature, and the Publisher’s Desk commentary simply by clicking the link at the bottom of each of those pages.

The next issue will publish on August 14 (the second Friday of the month, as always). The complete PDF version will be posted by the preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter.

To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “14th and U Streets Arts Overlay Zoning District Seen to be of No Benefit — Logan Circle ANC to Review New Approaches to Revitalization Goals”; 2) “Balancing Neighborhood Retail: The 25% Rule”; and 3) “Adams Morgan Pocket Park Gets Constant Care by Neighbors Who Attend to the Plants and Ensure Area Free of Litter.”



Department of Parks and Recreation Events, July 17-18, 20
John Stokes,

July 17, 3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Stead Recreation Center, 1625 P Street, NW. Crafts Exhibit for ages six to thirteen. Participants from the camp will display their crafts projects for their parents. For more information, call Vincent E. Hill, Site Manager, at 673-4465.

July 17, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Ferebee Hope Recreation Center, 3999 8th Street SE. Trip to Six Flags for ages thirteen to nineteen. The teens of the Ferebee Hope community will enjoy a fun-filled trip to Six Flags America. For more information, call Gregory Poag, Site Manager, at 645-3917.

July 18, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Ridge Road Recreation Center, 800 Ridge Road, SE. Adult Sports Community Day for ages eighteen and up. The staff at Ridge Road Recreation Center will host a fun filled day of adult sporting events. Adults will participate in flag football, basketball, kickball, and softball games. Come out and enjoy the fun. For more information, call Sonny Hicks at 645-3959.

July 18, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Emery Recreation Center, 5801 Georgia Avenue, NW. Battleground Round ball Championship for ages eight to fifteen. This outdoor basketball tournament will christen the new basketball courts at Emery. The round robin 3 on 3 tournaments will be open to six teams per age group (10 and under, 13 and under, and 15 and under)

July 18, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Riggs LaSalle Community Center, 501 Riggs Road, NE. Car Wash and Clothes Drive for all ages. Come drop off unwanted clothes and get your car washed. For more information, call Shirleta Settles at 576-5150.

July 18, 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. Cliff Wiley Invitational Track Meet for ages 7-18. Department of Parks and Recreation youth track teem will attend the Cliff Wiley Invitational Youth Track Meet held in honor of Cliff Wiley. For more information, call 671-1700.

July 20, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., North Michigan Park Recreation Center, 1333 Emerson Street, NE. North Michigan Park Indians Kickoff Cookout for ages six to fifteen. Participants on the 2009 football team will take part in a fun-filled cookout as well as drill and exercising. For more information, call Joe Clark, Site Manager, at 541-3526.


Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System (Release Candidate)
Barbara Conn,

Curious about what the upcoming Microsoft Windows 7 operating system will look like? About its new features? About whether you can look forward to using it effortlessly after suffering through or working around the Microsoft Vista operating system? Then join us on Saturday, July 18, as longtime CPCUG member and IT network pro Mark Mabee explores the Windows 7 “release candidate,” investigating the capabilities of the next Microsoft Windows operating system, now scheduled to be available October 22, 2009.

Gather your colleagues and neighbors, and your questions, and bring them to this Saturday, July 18, 1:00 p.m., gathering of the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (E&C SIG). These monthly events are free and open to all. This month’s event is at the Cleveland Park Branch Library (first floor large meeting room) at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW (between Macomb and Newark Streets), just over a block south of the Cleveland Park Metrorail Station on the Red Line. For more information about the seminar, the speaker, and CPCUG (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization), visit To RSVP, send an E-mail to


Humanities Council Grant Workshop, July 20
Lisa Alfred,

Grants Workshop, Monday, July 20, 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Humanities Council of Washington, DC, 925 U Street, NW, near U Street/Cardozo Metro. The Humanities Council of Washington, DC, presents a workshop to assist nonprofit organizations in planning projects and seeking up to $5,000 for programs that celebrate and document the cultural life of Washington, DC. Free. Please RSVP at or call 387-8391.


National Building Museum Events, July 21, 23-24
Jazmine Zick,

July 21, 6:30-8:00 p.m., DC Builds: The Purple Line: A Rail Solution? Hear a panel of experts discuss the Purple Line’s potential to relieve congestion, spur economic development, and connect people to jobs in the rapidly growing Maryland suburbs.

July 23, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Tom Kundig, FAIA, from Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, which is the 2009 AIA Firm of the year, discusses his work, including Chicken Point Cabin and Delta Shelter.

July 23, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Top Green Student Chair Designs. Honorary Chairman Vern Yip (of TLC’s “Trading Spaces” and HGTV’s “Deserving Design”), presents the winners of the National Chair Affair competition and how it is introducing students to green, structural design career opportunities. The winning Chair Affair entries will be on display at the Museum from July 23-26. For more information visit,

July 24, 10:00-11:00 a.m. Design has the ability to influence, unite, and link environments. 2009 National Design Awards winners Gregg Pasquarelli, principal at SHoP Architects, and landscape architect Walter Hood have both used their professional work to create environments with a unique sense of community. Join us for this special morning program to hear about their inspirational work and learn about how design can engage your neighborhood. Free. Registration required. All events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. Register for events at



Legal Assistant — Silver Spring
Jon Katz, justice(at)katzjustice(dot)com

Highly-rated criminal defense law firm is replacing its law school-bound leg assistant. See full details at



Day Care Information
Melissa Rohan,

I am having a hard time finding day care options for my infant. I think that day care is regulated by the District, so I wonder if there is a list of them anywhere (specifically in southwest, Waterfront, Capitol Hill), a review of them (including any complaints), and just generally where I can find the regulations for my own information. Any help on this would be appreciated.


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