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September 6, 2009


Dear Citizens:

Both Mike DeBonis ( and Eric Wemple ( at the City Paper have scolded The Washington Post for its latest foolish editorial on the Fenty administration (“A School for the Fentys: There’s an Innocent Explanation for Where They Ended Up,” The editorial created an excuse for the favoritism that Fenty received in placing his twin sons in the school the Fentys preferred, but it gave no reason for readers to believe the excuse it invented. Wemple wrote, “[I]f the edit board has a scoop here — then it should say so, within the four corners of its editorial. If not — if it’s just a possible explanation — then the board should take a close look at what it’s doing here. Playing the role of flack for the Fenty administration, that is.” The Post’s editorial board has acted as a highly partisan advocate for Fenty ever since he assumed office, and it has taken his side in every dispute between him and the council or any political critic. There’s no longer any reason to pay attention to the Post’s judgment when it comes to the Fenty administration; it has no independent judgment on that issue. But there’s a difference between being a predictable supporter and cheerleader, by which the paper just loses its reputation for reliability, and being a politician’s spokesman, by which the paper loses its integrity. The editorial board has crossed that line.

Colbert King investigated the death of Deborah Brown, about whom I wrote in the last issue, and asked, “Why Is Deborah Ann Brown Dead?” ( Not surprisingly, the answer has to do with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. King’s open mind, his willingness to be critical of the administration is much missed on the editorial board of the paper.

Gary Imhoff


Deborah Ann Brown, a Postscript
Dorothy Brizill,

On Saturday morning, family and friends of Deborah Ann Brown gathered at the Austin Royster Funeral Home on 14th Street to say a final goodbye to the Columbia Heights resident who was killed by a seventeen-year-old drive-by (bike-by) shooter, Devonte Carlton. In his regular Saturday column in the Post, Colby King memorialized Debbie (“Why Is Deborah Ann Brown Dead?”, and blamed her death on the District’s juvenile justice system and, specifically, the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. King noted that he and the citizens know little about Carlton’s criminal past because the District government restricts access to juvenile arrest records: “The city believes juvenile offenders ought to be protected from the stigma of public knowledge about their behavior.” King also reported that Carlton’s brother, Lafonte, 18, “was charged in January with two homicides in the District — one allegedly committed in December 2008, the other on January 9. He was under the supervision of DYRS at the time of his arrest.” He also noted that, “At age 15, Lafonte was placed in DYRS custody by the court until age 21 for committing a homicide. However, he was released from secure detention 2 1/2 years later.”

At Saturday’s funeral, the city did a further disservice to Debbie. No government officials attended her funeral service. Neither Mayor Fenty, Jim “the sheriff of Ward One” Graham, nor MPD Chief Cathy Lanier attended, sent a representative, flowers, a card, or letter of condolence. Their sympathies are elsewhere.


Half a Million Dollars for an Elementary School Field?
Ed Delaney,

I wish I had blank checks for fun stuff that I could stick my name on. From “Parents who take in a youth soccer game at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights shouldn’t have any trouble remembering who the DC mayor is. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) held a ribbon-cutting at the school Monday to unveil recent renovations, including a new soccer field. The field, which cost taxpayers $558,000, appears to rival those at colleges. It features artificial turf, safety padding, bleacher-style seating for 250 spectators, a wrought-iron fence, team bleachers, and soccer goals with new netting.”


RCN Freezing and/or Pixilating TV Picture
Jay Vinton,

A while back in themail, there were a bunch of complaints about Comcast digital cable service and the TV picture’s freezing and/or pixilating.

We are a district RCN subscriber and we have had the same problem since RCN dropped analog service in the spring. Every couple of minutes there will be a brief hiccup where the picture freezes and/or pixilates, and then continues on.

I would be interested to find out if other RCN subscribers are experiencing this as well.

[As in the Comcast case, if you’re having similar problems with RCN, please send me your complaints, including your neighborhood or block. I’ll forward them to the Office of Cable Television and not publish your E-mail in themail unless you want me too. — Gary Imhoff]


New York Times: Firefighters Become Medics to the Poor
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

“In Washington, Some Firefighters Provide Primary Care, These Days,” September 4, “Peeling off his latex gloves after treating a 4-year-old boy having a severe asthma attack, J. R. Muyleart sighed with a touch of frustration. It was 3 a.m. and in the past 24-hour shift, Mr. Muyleart, a firefighter, had responded to at least one emergency call per hour. But only two of those calls were for fires; most of the others involved heart attacks, diabetic sores, epileptic seizures and people complaining of shortness of breath. ‘I joined the force to battle blazes, not to be an emergency room doctor,’ Mr. Muyleart, 35, said as he and the rest of Engine Company 10 drove back to their firehouse, which for most of the last 15 years has been the busiest in the country, according to industry surveys.”


SHARP Program at Ballou High School
Phil Shapiro,

Here’s something worth watching: a two-minute YouTube video of the Summer Humanities Arts and Readiness Program at Ballou High School ( Inspiring work by teachers, students, and video producer Brandon Bloch (


Wassup Metro?
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

There were two Saturday evenings over the last two weeks that I have taken the Red Line to Gallery Place and transferred to the Green Line for my trek to the Navy Yard Station for another Nationals’ game. Both Saturday nights my total commute each way was one hour and ten minutes from my front door to my seat in section 142. For the entire summer before that my commute each way was only 45 minutes. The difference was the long wait for the Green Line train at Gallery Place and at the Navy Yard stations. All four times the wait was 20 minutes. That seems unreasonable for a Saturday night when there is a ball game at the park. I have to ask Metro: wassup?


Environmental Fellowship
Errol Mazursky, Environmental Leadership Program,

ELP is pleased to announce that applications for our 2010 Fellowship Classes are now being accepted. Over the past ten years ELP has been helping emerging leaders from academia, business, government, and the nonprofit sector to strengthen and refine their leadership capacity. Through our residential learning program, Fellows are continually challenged and inspired by their peers, trainers and ELP staff to move their professional and personal goals to the next level. For more information or to apply, click


DPW Labor Day Schedule
Kevin Twine,

The DC Department of Public Works has announced how services will be affected in observance of Labor Day, Monday, September 7. There will be no trash and recycling collections on the holiday. Trash and recycling collections will “slide” to the next day for the remainder of the week. For example, Monday’s trash and recycling collections will be made on Tuesday and Tuesday’s collections will be made on Wednesday. In neighborhoods with twice-weekly trash collections, Monday and Thursday collections will be made Tuesday and Friday. Collections normally made on Tuesday and Friday, will be made Wednesday and Saturday. Trash and recycling containers should be placed out for collection no earlier than 6:30 p.m. the night before collection and removed from public space by 8:00 p.m. on the day(s) of collection.

Parking enforcement for meters, rush hour ticketing and towing, residential parking, abandoned vehicles towing, and booting will be suspended. Other violations — blocking a fire hydrant, crosswalk, bus stop, or driveway — will be enforced.

Both Ft. Totten (4900 John McCormack Drive, NE) and Benning Road (3200 Benning Road, NE) trash transfer stations will be closed on Monday, September 7, in observance of the holiday. Ft. Totten will reopen Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. for residents to bring their trash and bulk items. Other services suspended for Labor Day include scheduled street and alley cleaning and nuisance abatement. All services will resume Tuesday, September 8. To view DPW’s trash and recycling holiday schedule for the remainder of the year, visit and click on Holiday Schedule under the “Information” header or call the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center at 311.


Separation of Church and State
Malcolm Wiseman,

Thank the gods for separation of church and state! Now, if only we could study and practice its teachings. We might have a better, more peaceful pluralistic world.

“Marriage” is the domain of the church; no government should be about the business of defining or redefining it. Why aren’t we talking about defining “civil union” or some like designation for government-recognized partnerships and leave “marriage” to be whatever a given sect says it is? Civil union is a win-win, unless what you really want is to control and deny others who are different from you or what you may be pretending to be. Like Mr. Austermuhle says here on the issue, “Be honest.”

People who would vote the basic rights of others away, rights they themselves enjoy, based on a religious or other belief, don’t deserve those same rights, and especially not self-determination.


Marriage Equality
Matt Wilson, Ward One,

You gingerly sidestepped Martin Austermuhle’s question in the September 3 themail, but he and your readers deserve an answer from you. Would Loving v. Virginia or Brown v. Board of Education, or the Voting Rights or Civil Rights Acts have enjoyed increased legitimacy had they been validated by a majority of Alabama voters in the immediate aftermath of their becoming the law of the land? Would their legitimacy have been diminished had they not been ratified by Alabama voters? Each of those milestones was a thumb in the eye of the entrenched status quo. Each of them was pushed through by elites doing what they were elected to do or confirmed by Congress to do: be leaders, be on the side of the righteous, promote the general welfare of the nation. And, decades later, almost all of us are thankful that they were forward-looking enough and justice-seeking enough to have done so.

What those of us who support marriage equality want is more of the forward-looking leadership and justice-seeking righteousness that led to those milestones so that decades from now people can wonder again what the fuss was all about. What we fear is bigotry masquerading as go-slow conservatism, and an explosion of demagoguery poisoning civil discourse and attempts at making DC more livable and more just.


Ridiculous Position
Richard Rogers,

Gary and wife, your position on civil rights is ridiculous. No wonder the cops won’t talk to you.


What the Debate Is About
Gary Imhoff,

I’ll try one more time to make myself clear. Dorothy has not written anything about gay marriage, and I have not taken a position on gay marriage. I have taken the position that the definition of marriage is an important issue that should be decided by the public, and not imposed on the public by a council vote that the public is then forbidden to challenge. I believe that government officials are determined to impose that definition of marriage in DC. I am not sure what the result of a public vote would be, though I suspect that Massachusetts, which will have such a vote in November, and the District of Columbia are the two states whose voting public are most likely to support gay marriage. I am skeptical that the DC Human Rights Act determines that gay marriage is a civil right that cannot be addressed by an initiative or referendum (if it were, then the Human Rights Act in itself would have legalized gay marriages, and have made any redefinition of marriage superfluous). Nevertheless, it is obvious that the public in DC will be denied the right to vote on this issue.

The public debate is over whether, in fact, same-sex marriage is a civil right. Matt Wilson demands that the opponents of gay marriage accept all his assumptions as a condition of entering the debate, when it is his assumptions that are the subject of the debate. Wilson asserts that same-sex marriage is a basic human right, equivalent to the civil rights issues of the 1960’s. Many civil rights advocates, veterans of the civil rights struggles, argue that it is not, and that they are offended by the assertion of equivalence. Wilson does not acknowledge their opposition as legitimate. If advocates of same-sex marriage want to convince skeptics and opponents of their position, they have stop offending the people they want to convince, and start treating them with the same respect that they themselves demand. Accusations that there are no grounds save bigotry to oppose them and that all arguments against them are demagoguery will not convince anyone who is not already convinced; name-calling will alienate potential supporters.



Humanities Council Events, September 10
Lisa Alfred,

The Humanities Council of Washington, DC, presents Humanitini: Where Happy Hour meets the Humanities. Thursday, September 10, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th Street, NW. Metro: Gallery Place/Penn Quarter. Free. Please join the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, for its new Humanitini series, where young professionals can come together to discuss the issues of the day that are relevant to themselves and their community, in a relaxed atmosphere. We will be discussing, PHAT or Fat: The Obesity Epidemic in America. The Humanities Council worked with Busboy’s bartenders to create the Humanitini, a lovely, purple colored, fruity martini. Please RSVP at or call 387-8391


DC Public Library Seventh Annual Fall Book Sale, September 11-12
Kandace Foreman,

Come to the annual fall book sale, and get them before the resellers do! September 11-12, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., rain or shine. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. To volunteer, E-mail


Rally and Recovery Fair, September 12
Rob Fleming,

The Washington area recovery community will celebrate and share their sustained recovery from alcohol and other drug disorders with a Rally and Recovery Fair in Meridian Hill (Malcolm X) Park on Saturday, September 12, from noon until 3:00 p.m. The Rally for Recovery, one of dozens around the country and overseas, will feature musical acts and recovery stories and the Fair will offer information from local service providers. All who need or who support recovery are welcome. For more information, contact Rob Fleming at 797-2388. The Rally is being organized by the DC Recovery Community Alliance (


National Building Museum Events, September 12, 13
Jazmine Zick,

September 12, 10:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m., family program: egg drop workshop. Design your own container to protect an egg from a fall from the Museum’s second floor balcony! Families can experiment with engineering and architectural principles to make the perfect structural design. Presented as part of AIA DC’s tenth anniversary celebration of Architecture Week. Members’ children, $7 per child; nonmembers’ children, $10 per child. Ages seven and up. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required.

September 13, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Inter-school Student Design Competition Design Charrette. Ever wonder what architecture students do all day? Find out as teams of students from the Washington, DC, area’s four schools with accredited programs in architecture — The Catholic University of America, Howard University, Virginia Tech’s Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, and the University of Maryland — participate in a day-long design competition held in the Museum’s Great Hall. Free drop-in program.


Adams Morgan Day Festival, September 13
Katherine Rivard,

DC’s most talked about multicultural festival is back this fall with its old traditions as well as some new additions. As always, the festival will feature live music, dance performances and a kids’ fair. New additions to the festival include a Green Pavilion, Pet Zone, and DJ Pavilion. The Adams Morgan Day Festival showcases the city’s latest artist trends and eco-friendly initiatives and bring the arts, culture, family and fun together. September 13, 12:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., 18th Street, NW, between Columbia Road and Florida Avenue. Free.


National Building Museum Ghost Tours, October 16, 18, 26; November 8, 15, 20, 21
Jazmine Zick,

Everyone loves a good ghost story! See a different side of the Museum on this lantern-light tour led by the ghost of Mary Surratt. Who are the irritable rider on horseback and the footless figure? Why are there mysterious faces swirling in the 75-foot Corinthian columns? All will be revealed on this behind-the-scenes tour of the mysteries of the Museum. $12 members; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Recommended for ages ten and up. Members preregistration is open; general registration begins on September 10. Register before tickets disappear! October 16, 18, 26 and November 8, 15, 20, 21, at 8:00-9:00 p.m.

New: custom ghost Tours for your group of five to twenty-five people. Great for a birthday party, family reunion, work retreat, or as a spooky get together with friends. Custom ghost tours can be arranged on selected dates between December 2009 and June 2010. Learn more at


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