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July 19, 2009

Anger Management

Dear Managed People:

When you run the government in a petty and personal way, it’s useless to try to convince people that that’s not what you’re doing. Case in point: Kristopher Baumann, the head of the police union, who was fired last week by Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, only to be reinstated two or three days later. Baumann has been an outstanding spokesman, not just for police officers, but for the police force and the citizens. His problem is that he represents his officers energetically and enthusiastically, even when their interests conflict with the police brass. He spoke out about Chief Lanier’s and Attorney General Nickles’ unconstitutional blockade of the Trinidad neighborhood; he opposed the Chief and the Attorney General — and the city council — when they took clearly unconstitutional measures to resist the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller; and he most recently took issue when the administration suppressed the evidence that it had intervened and interfered with the MPD’s professional handling of a barricade situation. The MPD and the Fenty administration have had Baumann in their sights for months, but Nickles denied that Baumann was targeted. He told Examiner reporter Freeman Klopott that that was “baloney,”, but Baumann is the one who has earned credibility and believability and Nickles is the one who has a history of personal retaliation and pettiness. It’s obvious who’s full of baloney. On June 26, Councilmember Mary Cheh held a hearing on her “Whistleblower Protection Amendment Act of 2009,” and she issued a press release saying that she was “shocked and disappointed to hear that the District apparently tolerates retaliation against whistleblowers.” Retaliation against whistleblowers starts at the top. Here’s a case, Councilmember, that deserves a follow-up hearing of its own.

On Thursday, Michael Birnbaum reported in the Post on Nickles’ latest move to make it difficult for attorneys who represent special education students to represent their clients. He has sued attorneys whom he thinks are too aggressive in getting their clients the special education services they’re entitled to, and now he’s withholding the city payments that lawyers are entitled to when they win cases against the government, “There is no intentional delay,” Nickles unbelievably said to Birnbaum, even though several special ed lawyers have had to file lawsuits to attempt to get Nickles to pay their bills. “We now have to look at these invoices much more carefully to see if the costs are commensurate with the case.” It’s called pattern and practice, and when Nickles refuses to pay attorneys in case after case, and attorneys have to sue repeatedly to get what they’re owed, then Nickles should eventually lose his qualified immunity against being sued personally, and the courts should require him to bear personal responsibility for the campaign he’s waging against the neediest students in our school system and the lawyers who are trying to get them the help they need.

Here’s some gratuitous and unrequested advice for any marathon runners you may know, the “Top Ten Reasons Not to Run Marathons,” Like a Letterman top-ten list, it counts down from ten to one: 10) damage to the liver and gall bladder and alteration of biochemical markers; 9) acute and severe muscle damage; 8) kidney dysfunction; 7) acute microthrombosis in the vascular system; 6) elevated markers of cancer; 5) brain damage resembling acute brain trauma; 4) heart damage; 3) spine degeneration; 2) elevated incidence of brain cancer; and 1) “[t]he first marathon runner, Phidippides, collapsed and died at the finish of his race.” Just saying.

Gary Imhoff


Short Takes
Dorothy Brizill,

Amended FY2009 and 2010 budgets: late Friday evening, Mayor Fenty forwarded amended fiscal year 2009 and 2010 budgets to the council ( On Monday, July 20, at 1:00 p.m., the council will be briefed on the Fenty administration’s deficit-closing budget. A hearing to secure public testimony will be held on Friday, July 24, at 10:00 a.m., and the council is scheduled to vote on the amended budgets on Friday, July 31. Will Singer, Mayor Fenty’s budget director since 2007, is leaving his position to go to law school. His replacement is Morav Bushlin, who, as recently as two years ago, began her government career as a Capital City Fellow intern in the Office of the City Administrator.

The park at 14th and Girard Streets, NW: as Gary has already reported in themail, the park had a grand opening on Friday, July 10, with a press conference and ribbon cutting attended by Mayor Fenty and Councilmember Jim Graham. By Monday, however, the park was closed so that “concrete and utility work” could be done. Now posted notices indicate the park with reopen July 27. The closure of the park comes after weeks in which the contractors worked overtime to meet the July 10 date for the press conference. The DC Housing Authority, which was supposed to oversee and supervise the construction for the Department of Parks and Recreation, met that artificial deadline but failed to ensure that the work was done properly the first time. It hasn’t been announced how much the major reconstruction work will add to the $1.6 million price tag, or which Department will bear the cost.

West End development: On Thursday, Mayor Fenty and Councilmember Jack Evans held a press conference to announce the issuance of a Request for Proposals for the redevelopment of two government-owned parcels in the West End — the library and the firehouse, Despite inaccurate press reports, representatives of a variety of community groups attended the press conference not because they supported the issuance of the RFP, but because they wanted their presence to put the Fenty administration on notice that they wanted an open, developer transparent selection process. Two years ago, the administration tried to give development rights to developer Anthony Lanier’s EastBanc company through emergency council legislation.

New Beginnings: since the New Beginnings Youth Center opened in Laurel in May, seven young offenders have escaped from the new facility. In recent weeks, attention has focused on flaws in the design and construction of the facility. For example, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services has now acknowledged that “windows may not have been secure enough.” It turns out that DYRS apparently planned to provide security through landscaping — the insecure house-grade windows that faced the outside of the Center’s grounds were to be guarded against escapes by the thorns of rose bushes that were to be planted around the building. Like much of DYRS’s work, that’s an idea that works only in fairy tales.


“All Hands On Deck” Is Bogus Policing
Jack McKay,

Thanks to Theola Labbé-DeBose at the Post for noting that the MPD’s favorite anti-crime show, “All Hands On Deck,” takes detectives off their investigations, compelling them instead to roam District streets []. Chief Lanier thinks that saturating the streets with uniformed officers will reduce crime and make us safer. No, it won’t.

First, uniformed officers on random patrols do not reduce crime. The odds are still heavily against an officer stumbling across a crime in progress. Back in 2004, for example, Mount Pleasant saw a virtual army of patrol officers, after two homicides in the fall of 2003. In the month of January 2004, with cops everywhere, the number of robberies jumped to seventeen, the highest count I’ve seen in the seven-plus years that I’ve been tracking these statistics. One of those robberies was of a shop within sight of the MPD “Weed and Seed” van parked on Mount Pleasant Street. Yes, the robber escaped. When the intensive patrols ceased, the robbery count dropped to a seven in February, zero in March.

Second, the best deterrent to crime is, or would be, a substantial likelihood of being caught. But more than four out of five robberies and burglaries in the District go forever unsolved. Robbers and burglars know that, once they’ve fled the scene, there’s little chance that anyone will track them down. So why are we taking detectives off that duty, reducing further any chance that these perps will be caught, and their robbing and burglarizing stopped?

Third, those higher-grade officers are, to put it mildly, unhappy at being forced into street-patrol duty. There are reports of their expressing their displeasure by issuing all the parking tickets they can, ticketing violations that the MPD would ordinarily not bother with. Add to that their unfamiliarity with some subtleties of the law, such as the provision that one can park a car up to fifteen feet beyond a “no parking to intersection” sign, if one has a Residential Permit Parking sticker, and it’s an RPP-zoned block (see themail, August 8, 2007). For the first time in a year, I’ve gotten a ticket for that, from an MPD officer who isn’t up to speed on the law. For all I know, the MPD officer concerned may be a superb detective, but he’s a lousy parking enforcement officer.

“All Hands On Deck” is merely a stunt for pleasing the public and certain councilmembers. As a crime-fighting technique, it’s less than worthless.


The Parking Meter Polka
Roger Scott,

I ride a motorcycle to work just about year-round. I park in the Golden Triangle area of downtown. Typically, I park at a twelve-hour meter, but they fill up during the summer months. During this time of the year, I have to park at the four-hour meters a few blocks away. Yesterday, I arrived at my motorcycle to find a ticket, while I still had time on my meter. The ticket we for “overtime.” As I stood fuming, wanted to kick over my own bike, staring at that $25.00 citation, I needed answers. I located a parking attendant, calmed myself so as not to be disrespectful, and asked him about this. He indicated that I have to move my vehicle every four hours to another meter. The purpose is to make sure that other people wanting to patronize the local businesses, have a place to park. Really? So moving my bike from one space to the next will accomplish this? There were four other spaces available. How exactly am I preventing other people from parking? I’m going to attempt to appeal this on the grounds that I was not preventing other people who ride motorcycles from parking. I paid my money to park in a spot. I have met my obligation. In exchange for my money I should be allowed to park.

While I understand the purpose, I do not feel that the signage accurately conveys the this policy of moving. If I have to park at these meters again, I will shift my motorcycle six inches to either side or to another meter when I go to deposit additional funds. Can any of you fine folks expound on this practice in other parts of the city or on this policy?


Bill 18-345 Could Provide a Tool for Voter Fraud, Round 2
William O’Field,

In the last edition of themail, I wrote that Bill 18-345, the “Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009,” could provide a tool for voter fraud through same-day registration ( Since then I have been asked about the 1997 investigation spearheaded by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) in cooperation with the surrounding jurisdictions of Maryland and Virginia. Today, I write to provide the facts. On March 4, 1998, DCBOEE announced that the names of 3,639 people appeared on voter registration rolls in both DC and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Of those, 261 people cast ballots in both jurisdictions in the 1994 and 1996 general elections. DC and Prince George’s election officials forwarded the names of voters who cast ballots in both jurisdictions to the US Attorney’s office for prosecution. It was also determined that Montgomery County, Maryland, and DC had about 2,300 dual registrants, with voting irregularities in all of DC’s eight wards.

On the day after the Board’s announcement, The Washington Post editorialized “And they laughed when some wags labeled Prince George’s County DC’s Ward 9. The term first applied because so many former residents of the District’s eight wards continued to maintain close social, business and professional ties to the city after moving into the county. Well, little did we know just how close and binding were those ties.” As I testified at the hearing of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, chaired by Councilmember Cheh, I support same-day registration, however, I recommended that DCBOEE take the leadership role again and work with Maryland and Virginia election officials to conduct another voter roll comparison. After all, it has been twelve years since the last comparison. I also recommended that the DCBOEE hire an independent outside consultant to review the voter roll for duplications, typographical errors, and other anomalies.

Before major changes are made to DC’s election laws, which includes the addition of same-day registration recommended by Councilmember Cheh, why not eliminate the bloat and ensure that the voter roll is clean? There is time to clean up DC’s voter roll between now, the enactment of Bill 18-345, and the September 14, 2010, primary election. After all, the voter roll is at the core of the integrity of the electoral process.


Paying to Read
Phil Shapiro,

If moves to a “pay to view” model for its web site, what would make it worth your while to pay for this web site? Besides delivering news, what related civic functions can a newspaper perform? Are newspapers, by definition, in the education business? What role, if any, can there be for non-literate community members to participate within civic exchanges in a newspaper community? In what ways do the interests of newspapers, public libraries, schools, and workforce development overlap? What intersections exist between newspapers and the performing arts? Where do civic discussions originate and in what ways are these discussions expanded? Should there be different subscriber levels for the different ways that people choose to involve themselves in a newspaper? Are there creative, non-intuitive ways of measuring the public good? Should newspapers be involved in that endeavor? Can there be more than one way of measuring public good? What are the best ways of using abundance?

Are there funding sources, previously unimagined, that could play a role in organizing the information within a city — and making that information universally accessible on mobile and non-mobile devices? What role should there be for the nonprofit sector within a newspaper community?


LA Follows DC onto Google
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

A comment (about LA, not DC) from another list: “Not sure what worries me more. An antiquated govt. system, or outsourcing such critical information to the Google cloud.” How widely known is DC’s use of Google?

A story in the Los Angeles Times (,0,4147298.story) reveals that “Los Angeles is weighing a plan to replace its E-mail and records retention software with a service provided by Google, a move that could allow the Internet giant to retain sensitive records transmitted by the police and other municipal agencies. If approved by the City Council, responsibility for protecting the internal data and public records would be shifted from the city to Google, according to a report submitted this week to a council committee that will weigh the proposed $7.25-million contract. . . .

“Washington, DC, is the only major city using Google E-mail and office applications, but others are contemplating a switch, according to a Google official. The applications and data would be housed on Google servers, not on city property, and accessible via presumably secure Internet connections.”


A Conflict of Interest: Councilmember/Lobbyist Jack Evans and the Marriott Giveaway
Peter Tucker,

Apart from earning more than $125,000 a year as Ward 2 councilmember, Jack Evans earns an additional $240,000 a year as a paid lobbyist for Patton Boggs, where he “advises clients on real estate matters” ( On Tuesday, July 14, a “real estate matter” came before the city council and the council voted on $272 million in public financing to build a privately owned Marriott-run hotel next to the convention center. Evans, in his capacity as both the Ward 2 council member and the Chair of the Finance Committee, played an aggressive role in crafting the Marriott giveaway.

The vote was unanimous, with one recusal: after many years of openly lobbying for the Marriott giveaway, Evans recused himself (for the first time on June 26, then again on June 30 and July 14). Why did Evans begin recusing himself on June 26? Interestingly, on Wednesday, June 24, at a hearing regarding the Marriott giveaway, I publicly questioned Evans about Patton Boggs’ relationship with Marriott. While Evans refused to answer my question, his recusals began two days later.

The Committee of 100 and the Federation of Citizens Associations wrote a compelling joint letter asking Mr. Evans and Chair Gray about the extent and nature of Mr. Evans’ involvement with the Marriott giveaway in his capacity as a lobbyist (  The citizens of the District of Columbia deserve answers to these questions before we break ground on another Jack Evans-inspired publicly funded project for private profit. We continue to remember (and pay for) the baseball stadium ($750 plus million), as well as the convention center itself ($850 million), both of which saw major cost overruns.

Every taxpayer should stand with the Committee of 100 and the Federation of Citizens Associations in demanding immediate answers to their important questions. At a time when basic services are being cut, we deserve to know the details regarding Mr. Evans’ role in this “real estate matter” before we break ground on what may turn out to be the next baseball stadium.


Rhee’s Gentrification of DC Schools
Candi Peterson,

Another great principal has been fired in Michelle ‘Terminator” Rhee’s saga of slash and burn school reform. Chancellor Rhee decided not to renew the contract of Dr. Reginald B. Elliott, principal at Luke C. Moore Academy, which is an alternative high school that formally was known as the DC Street Academy. Rhee’s decision was made subsequent to Dr. Elliott receiving the Middle States National Accreditation for Colleges and High Schools in May 2009. Dr. Elliott’s last day was June 30. Gone also is the school’s vice principal, Gloria Tisdale. Many argue that the elimination of Ms. Tisdale from her position was just another indiscriminate termination by Chancellor Rhee. In the words of a fellow education blogger known as NYC Educator: “So I got to wonder this — if Ms. Rhee has no qualms about misleading the taxpayers, what reason do we have to suppose she’d look after our children? Because make no mistake, Ms. Rhee wants the right to fire working people with no due process whatsoever. Don’t enough people get fired in this country? Shouldn’t we be aiming for fewer, rather than more Americans losing jobs for no reason? And shouldn’t our children have rights based on something more secure than the changing whims of Michelle Rhee?”

Saved for now is Luke C. Moore Academy, which is a historic building. The school boasts a newly modernized and renovated addition and global classrooms on a desirable campus near the Brookland Metro thanks due to the personal fundraising efforts by Dr. Elliott of over half a million dollars. Moore Academy parents complain that Rhee has revealed that she has plans to make this alternative high school into a “model school.” What worries most of them is that if Rhee has her way the school may give many of the schools current students the boot in exchange for a more affluent student body. Luke C. Moore Academy students, for the most part, have been kicked out of regular DC public high schools for a host of reasons prior to entering the school; many have been described as students on the fringe of society.

It is important to note that Dr. Reginald Elliott has worked tirelessly for thirty years in DC schools. In 2001, the National Association of Secondary School Principals awarded Dr. Elliott its Middle States accreditation and was not phased that Moore is one of four DC public high schools to receive this distinction. Further, a recent press release confirms that Moore students met or exceeded mandated academic targets for years 2001-2008 despite inaccurate information listed on the OSSE - NCLB web site.

Parents, students, as well as community residents have demanded that Rhee explain why their highly regarded principal was fired, to no avail. Despite their well-intended writing campaigns, they have yet to be provided with an acceptable answer or face-to-face meeting with Chancellor Rhee. Efforts to lobby the DC city council resulted in some discussion about placing the school under the administration of UDC, where it once was, in an effort to save Dr. Elliott’s position. Luke C. Moore students set up a special meeting with Chancellor Rhee and went to appeal to her face to face in order to save the job of Dr. Reginald Elliott. As sophomore Timothy Hill said in a recent July gathering of concerned residents, “I got the feeling that while we talked, she [Rhee] wasn’t even listening to us.” I am sure a Rhee spokesperson will soon report that personnel laws prevent the city from discussing specifics in regards to Elliott’s recent dismissal, blah blah, blah. Certainly, Rhee’s actions are not in the best interest of Luke C. Moore academy students and their citywide parents. If you are interested in joining forces with parents, students, and community residents who support quality education for all DC students and want to protest arbitrary teacher and principal terminations, send your name, E-mail, and contact telephone number in care of


The Washington Post/Kaplan Benefits from NCLB Policies It Endorses
Mai Abdul Rahaman,

The Washington Post has editorialized and used its pages for countless articles and editorials supporting, initiating, and advancing positions it deems best for our children and our public schools. What the Washington Post has so far failed to openly disclose is how critical No Child Left Behind and Student Supplemental Education (SES) funding is to the survival of its enterprise.

NCLB/SES funds as of 2005 totaled a $3.5 billion initiative that benefits privately held companies, among them Kaplan, a subsidiary of the Washington Post. SES funds are provided to poorly performing school districts that are mandated to outsource and funnel these earmarked funds to largely (70 percent) for-profit large publicly held or privately owned SES vendors. These are companies that provide tutoring services to the growing Title I student population in large urban school districts. The large and growing SES multi-billion dollar fund has attracted the notice of large for-profit companies such as Kaplan, Princeton Review, and privately owned Sylvan Learning Centers, Huntington Learning Centers, EduVentures, Inc, and Knowledge Quest Ventures (“Knowledge Universe” — the “cradle-to-grave education-business empire” created by the former junk-bond specialist Michael Milliken). The Washington Post lost more then two thirds of its publishing revenue; these funds have offered it the means to stay afloat. In the fall of 2008, the Washington Post Company reported dramatic earnings losses totaling 77 percent, while the company’s Kaplan education division saw a 52 percent growth. In 2003, just one year after NCLB/SES was passed, Kaplan’s revenue for its elementary and secondary school division doubled.

Federal SES funds are generously awarded and continue to increase, while student enrollment, according to the Department of Education’s 2009 Report, has remained stagnant at 20 percent nationally. SES providers are exempt from meeting the highly qualified teacher federal requirements; they are free to determine the curriculum they offer, the instructional practices they use, and how services are delivered. NCLB has allowed SES companies to run their programs with little oversight or monitoring while guaranteeing payment regardless of the number of students enrolled or hours utilized. Princeton Review’s Annual Report elaborates: “Providers are paid per student for each hour attended, whether the student attends for one hour or the maximum possible number of hours. Payments are subject to a maximum total amount an SES provider may earn per student, known as the Per Pupil Allotment (‘PPA’), which is determined by the state or the school district.” With the promise of increased revenue and assured payment regardless of student attendance, private for-profit SES providers have shown great interest in NCLB/SES funds. As a result, in 2005 the for-profit K-12 education companies saw revenue growth of 2.7 percent, totaling $50.1 billion.

Since 2002 the Washington Post Company has reaped millions, while its subsidiary company Kaplan has taken advantage of these guaranteed funds that have shown little if any substantive results in student improvements. Most troubling is the ability of the Washington Post to use its journalists, writers, and editors to dictate and advance local and federal policies that the company directly benefits from.


Republican Party on Election Reform
Paul Craney,

Every mayor in DC’s history as appointed one Republican to the Board of Elections and Ethics. The Board is made up of three members, and the District Home Rule Act requires at least one member to be from the minority party. A bipartisan Board would ensure that the necessary checks and balances are in place to hold fair elections in the District. Protecting minority rights, in this case minority party rights, should be an interest to all. The DC Republican Committee has offered the Mayor’s office Timothy Jenkins as our nominee. Mr. Jenkins has a Howard undergraduate and Yale law school degree. Mr. Jenkins has a long history in DC, has been appointed to important positions by other mayors, and was formerly an advisory to DC’s native Senator Edward Brooke (R-Mass).

The legal counsel for the DC Republican Committee testified on Monday in support of fixing the Board and ensuring that one of the Board members is a Republican when Chairwoman Mary Cheh held a hearing for her Election Reform Act of 2009, B18-345. At the hearing, the DCGOP argued against the following provisions; allowing same-day voter registration on Election Day, allowing District employees to take a paid leave of absence to work as poll watchers, allowing non-DC residents to serve as poll watchers, creating an appointed “Advisory” task force from the mayor and council, allowing political propaganda to be permitted on clothing at polling locations, and allowing satellite offices for early voting in the District. Most of these ideas are borrowed ideas from other jurisdictions.

The DC Republican Committee argued that unless we can find solutions to the Board’s problems, we shouldn’t expand its role. You may remember, the DC Republican Committee discovered absentee ballots mailed last November printed in error. Cheh’s legislation does very little to address DC’s election problems.


Edgar Cahn on Social Entrepreneurship
Phil Shapiro,

One of the most interesting social thinkers and social change agents in DC is Edgar Cahn, cofounder of the now-closed Antioch School of Law and founder of TimeBanks, a nonprofit organization that promotes community members working for each other. ( Edgar speaks with a soft voice, but what he has to say is well worth hearing. Edgar is a social engineer with a keen understanding of what we need to do next to create the kind of society we want to live in. You can hear some of what he has to say in this fifteen-minute video: (See also

ABC News recently covered TimeBanks in this story: One of the central tenets of the TimeBanks philosophy is that every human being has worth and value to our communities, and it’s up to our communities to recognize that worth and tap into that value. If we spend a little time looking for the best ways for people to help each other, then the dividends we reap can be very large. When you create systems that sew social fabric, what you end up with is social fabric. Instead of asking ourselves “so what?” we should be asking ourselves “sew what?”



Department of Parks and Recreation Events, July 21, 23
John Stokes,

July 21, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Petworth Recreation Center, 801 Taylor Street, NW. Video Boxing Tournament for ages twelve to fifteen. Youth will enjoy participating in this friendly three-day competition for bragging rights. For more information, call Howard Marshall at 576-6850.

July 23, 12:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Chevy Chase Playground, 5500 41st Street, NW. Chinese Buffet for ages six to thirteen. Campers will go to the library and learn about China’s culture and bring in special food dishes for a buffet. For more information, call Ann Martin at 282-2200.


Ward Eight Council Against Domestic Violence Walkathon, July 25
Sandra Seegars,

The Ward Eight Council Against Domestic Violence will hold it second annual walkathon on July 25 at TheARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue, SE. Registration at 9:00 a.m.; walk at 10:00 a.m.; program and raffle immediately following walk. Children under 12, free; students aged 13-20, $5.00; adults aged 21 and up, $10.00; businesses, organizations, and churches, $50.00 and up. Sponsorships are accepted so others may walk. All donations accepted; donations are tax deductible, make them payable to the Anacostia Coordinating Council. Mail to the WECADV, 1107 Savannah Street, SE, Washington, DC 20032. For more information, call 561-6616 or E-mail


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