Get Government Out of Our Whole Houses
Fifty to sixty years ago, the big liberal movement was to “get
government out of our bedrooms,” to stop government from criminalizing
sexual acts that took place in private. I used to think that was a good
idea, but I’m not so sure anymore. That’s because politicians are
incurable regulators, and if they can’t pass nanny-state regulations
forbidding what people do in their bedrooms, they’ll pass laws
regulating and forbidding what people do in every other room of their
houses. Prohibitionist politicians will forbid you from smoking
cigarettes inside your office or any other public space, from smoking
outside too near a doorway, from smoking inside your apartment. They’ll
forbid you from looking after your neighbor’s kids, unless you have a
government license to do so. They’ll use taxes to discourage you from
eating and drinking the foods you like, because liking what you eat is a
sure sign that you shouldn’t be eating it, and from transporting those
foods and drinks in bags unless they approve of the materials those bags
are made of. They’ll forbid you from using toilets that flush with
more water than they think you should use. They’ll forbid you from
using light bulbs that cause one kind of pollution, and require you to
use light bulbs that cause mercury pollution instead.
Politicians, in short, will pass all sorts of unnecessary laws, if by
doing so they can show how superior their lifestyle preferences are to
yours, and can impose their preferences on you. On October 21, I wrote
in themail about the Wildlife Protection Act of 2009, Bill 18-498 (http://www.dcwatch.com/council18/18-498.htm),
which requires household exterminators, or “wildlife control
operators,” to be licensed in the District; to follow the regulations
in the bill; to prove that each animal they trap and relocate or, as a
last resort, kill, is causing actual damage or danger; and to have a
written plan for relocation of trapped animals approved by the District
government for each job they do. On Monday, November 23, a short month
after introducing the bill, Councilmember Cheh is going to hold a
committee hearing on it. The ostensible purpose of the bill is to
prevent animal cruelty but, in fact, there is no evidence that
exterminators are currently engaged in any unnecessary animal cruelty.
The bill was written at the behest of, and with the cooperation of, the
Washington Humane Society, but all that the WHS can provide in support
of it is speculation about possible harms, and no evidence of real
harms. Dorothy spoke with two representatives of the WHS today. They
both said that a exterminator could set a foothold trap, or a bear trap,
carelessly and harm a child or a household pet. All right, Dorothy
asked, how many children in the District have been wounded by a bear
trap in the last five years? They didn’t know of any. How many pets
have been wounded by a foothold trap? They didn’t know of any; they
didn’t keep records of any instances. But a careless exterminator
could leave an animal in a trap for days, to die painfully. How many
instances of that happening could the WHS document? Well, none, but it
could happen. What about the provision that forbids moving, trapping, or
killing bats nesting in a house for six months of every year? The WHS
didn’t know anything about that, but I wonder exactly what the Health
Department or the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs or the
Department of Housing thinks about the advisability and desirability of
humans sharing their houses with bats.
It doesn’t really matter whether there’s any good rationale for
passing the bill. Politicians, having been kicked out of our bedrooms,
are now working their way through every other room in our houses,
looking for ways in which they can regulate whatever we do. And passing
a bill for which there's no proven need gives them more satisfaction
The Public Doesn’t Need to Know
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
As I wrote in themail on Sunday, Mayor Fenty has nominated Vicky
Beasley, an attorney at the law firm of Patton Boggs, to replace Betty
Noel as the People’s Counsel. Herb Harris notes in his message below,
that Murial Bowser, chair of the council Committee on Public Services
and Consumer Affairs, has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Beasley
on Friday, November 20. Bowser, however, has gone to great lengths to
limit citizen participation in the hearing. As I wrote last Sunday, I
first learned about the hearing when I ran into Ms. Beasley at the
Energy Expo at the Convention Center last Saturday. There was, however,
no notice of the hearing published or posted on the council’s online
calendar, nor was a written notice of the hearing available at the
council’s Office of Legislative Services. As a result, on Wednesday
morning I sent an E-mail to Ms. Bowser, members of her committee, and
council chair Vincent Gray complaining about the lack of notice and
arguing, “How can you call it a public hearing when you fail to inform
the public in a timely manner that the hearing will be held?” In
response, Ms. Bowser’s office sent me an E-mail stating, “Immediate
consideration is required in order to avoid a vacancy in the Office of
the People’s Counsel. On December 10, the 180-day holdover term (DC
Official Code §1-523.01(c)) of the incumbent People’s Counsel,
Elizabeth Noel, ends. Therefore, the Committee should expeditiously
consider Ms. Beasley’s nomination.”
According to informed sources, Bowser had been told in early October
that Fenty would be nominating Beasley. Moreover, the mayor’s letter
to the council formally transmitting her nomination is dated November 3,
which is about when Bowser had a private meeting with Beasley. It
clearly appears that Bowser, working in collaboration with the Executive
Office of the Mayor, fabricated a tight time frame for council review
and public scrutiny of Beasley so that the council will be forced to
vote on her nomination at its next legislative meeting, on December 1,
which will be nine days prior to the expiration of Noel’s term in
Beasley’s nomination by Fenty is at the behest of her mentor at
Patton Boggs, Matthew Cutts, a Fenty pal who was selected by the mayor
in 2007 to head the Sports and Entertainment Commission. Apparently,
Cutts discussed with Beasley several possible positions in the Fenty
administration, and she selected the People’s Counsel office, even
though she is not a litigator and the People’s Counsel is a litigating
position. The most important duty of the People’s Counsel is to
protect the citizens from unjustified and unnecessary rate increases by
utilities, and Noel’s success at that has led to Fenty’s displeasure
with her. When Beasley met with some citizens who asked her what her
priorities would be for the office, she didn’t mention rate regulation
at all; instead, she said her top three priorities would be “smart
metering, smart grid, and submetering.” These priorities should please
landlords and utility companies, but they are peripheral to the real job
of the office — representing citizens in the regulating process and
protecting them from the rapacious utilities that are Fenty’s primary
concern in making this nomination.
Public Roundtable on People’s Counsel
Herbert Harris, Jr., DC Consumer Utility Board, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Fenty is not re-nominating Elizabeth Noel as the People’s
Counsel of the District of Columbia. This decision by Mayor Fenty will
have immediate consequences for consumers in the District of Columbia.
Mayor Fenty, without any public input, has nominated Vicky A. Beasley to
replace Ms. Noel as Peoples Counsel. Ms. Noel was never given the
courtesy of a meeting with Mayor Fenty to discuss her renomination. On
Friday, November 20, at 1:30 p.m., in Room 120 of the John Wilson
Building, the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs will
hold a public roundtable on Beasley’s nomination for Peoples’
Counsel. This nomination is being fast tracked to minimize public
comments. We requested a full hearing and formal public notification and
the request was denied.
The city council needs to hear from residents about the importance of
the Office of the People’s Counsel and the selection of the People’s
Counsel. This hearing is a forum to discuss the lack of a public process
for selecting a nominee for People’s Counsel, protecting the
independence of the Office of the People’s Counsel, and the important
service OPC provides to consumers on utility issues. The Office of the
People’s Counsel is the independent legal representative of DC
consumers before the Public Service Commission, FCC, Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC), and DC Court of Appeals. The strong
independent voice of the OPC under has protected consumers against
record rate increases, poor customer service, and other abuses at the
hand of Pepco, Verizon, and Washington Gas.
Many of you know firsthand the legal and consumer education work done
by the OPC. Their record of accomplishment and presence in the community
is unparalleled in the District government. It is no secret that the
utility companies have made it a priority to block and prevent Ms. Noel
from being reappointed. A Pepco official openly stated, “I’m going
to get her if it is the last thing I do.” The utility companies should
not pick the People’s Counsel. Consumers deserve the most qualified
representative as the People’s Counsel, not just another mayoral
appointee. Register for the hearing to testify, and encourage others to
attend the Public Roundtable.
Keep an eye out and be safe, because this guy wants to come to you. I
just got a call at work from a guy named “Roy Jameson” who
identified himself as “DC Police Post #2979.” He asked for my boss
my name. After I asked him exactly what he was calling about he said
they were contacting local businesses looking for donations to support
the DC police. He left a number: 704-8832. I asked him if this was for
the Fraternal Order of Police, he said, “No this is directly for DC
police and that’s who the check gets made out to.”
Some years ago a guy who sounded pretty much like this one (flat
affect, very matter-of-fact) tried a similar scam, claiming to be from
the FOP, wanting to come to our location physically to pick up money. We
notified the police, who assured us it was not legit. The caller ID said
“Derek Williams.” A quick net search yielded this article about him
from the Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/a-1497139%7ED_C__Police_Blotter.html.
DC Fiscal Policy Survey
Ed Lazere, email@example.com
The DC Fiscal Policy Institute is seeking your feedback to help us
understand how our work is used and how it can be improved. We have
developed a brief survey to collect your thoughts about our Budget
Toolkit, what other topics we should research, and much more. The
results of this survey will be used internally at DCFPI and will not be
publicly distributed or published.
If you have a few minutes this week or early next week, please visit
our survey at http://tinyurl.com/y8u5dxj
and let us know your thoughts. The survey will be up through close of
business next Wednesday, November 25. Thanks in advance for your
One Way of Avoiding Colon Cancer
Phil Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Because I have a very high risk of getting colon cancer, my
gastroenterologist recommended that I have my colon removed — which I
recently attended to. Guess what? Life goes on quite well without a
colon. My uncle had his colon removed at my age (forty-nine) and is now
enjoying life at the ripe old age of ninety-two. Without a colon, my
chances of getting colon cancer are almost nil. That’s welcome news
considering both my father and grandfather died of colon cancer.
In case there is anyone in this online community who has questions
about colectomy surgery (removal of the colon), feel free to lob them
over my way. I can also answer any questions folks have about
colonoscopies. If you’re over fifty and you haven’t had a
colonoscopy yet, you’re skirting danger. See also http://ilovecolonoscopies.blogspot.com
In this Internet age, doctors look out for the well being of patients
— and patients look out for the well being of other patients, too. Eat
right. Exercise. Asks lots of questions. Live long.
Watching Howdy Doody DVDs?
Star Lawrence, email@example.com
I thought I got “geezy” sometimes! You will love the USPS’s old
TV show stamp array, though — it was everyone on it . . . Sgt. Bilko,
Gleason, Red Skelton, Perry Mason, Kukla, etc., Ed Sullivan, Groucho,
and of course, the puppet du jour. Call 800-782-6724 and just say old TV
show stamps or something. They also have a banging catalog of fancy
stamps. I also favor The Simpsons. It costs a buck extra to get them
Fabulous lead article! It was like having a special sweet treat with
my coffee. And especially meaningful for those of us (the neighborhood
latchkey kids) who also watched Howdy Doody in the afternoons (in our
house on a floor model, blonde-toned TV console-type piece of furniture
with a funny shaped screen which curved outwards on the vertical sides).
Would have been great if you could have embedded the audio of the Howdy
Doody theme song.
Regarding the connection between Mr. Bluster and the “Prohibition
on Government Employee Engagement in Political Activity Act of 2009,”
Bill 18-460, maybe that legislation should be nicknamed the “DC
Hatchet Act.” Haven’t read the act myself, but per your analysis it
sounds like Section 3(b) is going to do a hatchet job on any possibility
of ethical conduct by the exempted persons including the employees of
the DC courts, and the mayor and city council (and by extension their
respective employees). Mayor Bluster undoubtedly would have been very
pleased. By the way, surely among the local supporters of a DC version
of the federal Hatch Act, including Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton
(sponsor of the Congressional bill), the DC city council members, the
powers that be in the DC court system and the mayor’s office there are
some Howdy Doody fans in general, but more likely fans of Mayor Bluster
in particular. (Speaking of Howdy Doody, did you notice that Governor
Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has been dubbed Howdy Doody by some of the
cable news talking heads?
Sometimes art follows life and sometimes vice versa. So the legacy of
Howdy Doody lives on, though many (mostly the generations following the
original Howdy Doody show) will miss the keen insights your article
brings to the politics of the present, locally — and nationally where
those insights may also apply.
[Good idea about the theme song. See http://www.televisiontunes.com/Howdy_Doody_Show.html,
— Gary Imhoff]
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
City funding for the homeless is down, yet the need for homeless
services is growing. This Saturday, November 21, the Dupont Circle
Citizens Association is going to join the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless
Walkathon in support of Charlie’s Place. We want you to sign up and
come along. It will be fun, and we will raise money to help deal with
the problems of our neediest neighbors. Why Charlie’s Place? You
probably know about Charlie’s Place’s long history of providing a
substantial breakfast, a stable address, and links to social, legal, and
health services, for the homeless and working poor in the Dupont Circle
area. Do you also know that recently Charlie’s Place has been able to
expand its work to include some case management? Last year they found
housing for seventeen and jobs for forty-seven clients The neighborhood
needs more of this sort of help. That’s why we’re walking. That’s
why you should join us.
Don’t wait another minute. (On November 21, the registration fee is
$5 more.) Sign up now at http://www.charliesplacedc.org (click on “Walkathon”)
or sign up at http://www.helpthehomelessdc.org.
Be sure to indicate Charlie’s Place as your beneficiary organization.
The registration fee is $25, but only $15 for those twenty-five years
old and younger. Sponsorships are available to cover the fee. If you
want to walk, Charlie’s Place wants to hear from you.
For further information, contact Tom Goss at 355-1017 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or Susan Dunn at 387-2467 or email@example.com.
See you on the mall in the C Section, under the Charlie’s Place
banners. Don’t be late, and don’t forget to sign in on the mall.
Registered walkers must sign in at the official desk (and collect a tee
shirt) in order to be credited toward the bonus for Charlie’s Place.
Sponsored walkers sign in under the Charlie’s Place banners.
National Building Museum Events, November 21
Johanna Weber, firstname.lastname@example.org
November 21, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Outreach Program: Design Apprenticeship
Program Final Presentation. Through a series of hands-on exercises,
participants in the fall 2009 Design Apprenticeship Program explored the
configurations of various modular building blocks such as bricks, tiles,
and concrete masonry units. During the final presentation, students
present the projects they created using one of the building blocks and
discuss their design process. At the National Building Museum,
401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at
Department of Parks and Recreation Events,
John Stokes, email@example.com
November 21, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Riggs LaSalle Recreation Center,
501 Riggs Road, NE. Citywide Fall Soccer Championship for ages five
through eighteen. This tournament will mark the end of the DPR’s Fall
Soccer Season. Fifteen teams with an average of twelve players on each
team with compete in the Championship game. For more information, call
Abdullah Tunis, Soccer Manager, at 671-1700.
November 21, 12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., Trinidad Recreation Center, 1310
Childress Street, NE. Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway for ages 21 and up.
The staff of Trinidad Recreation Center will pass out turkeys to needy
families for the Thanksgiving Holiday. For more information, call
Anthony Higginbotham, Site Manager, at 727-1293.
November 24, 12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Brentwood Recreation Center, 2311
14th Street, NE. Thanksgiving Basket Distribution and Decorating for
ages three and up. Participants will have an opportunity to donate
canned goods and decorate baskets for disadvantaged seniors and
families. For more information, call Lorenzo Carter, Site Manager, at
November 24, 7:00 p.m.-8:45 p.m., Kalorama Recreation Center, 1875
Columbia Road, NW. Thanksgiving Basket Give Away for all ages. The site
will collect food and donate baskets to needy families in the community.
For more information, call John Borges, Site Manager, at 673-7606.
November 24, 6:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Petworth Recreation Center, 801
Taylor Street, NW. Community Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner for all ages.
Participants will enjoy a pot luck dinner. For more information, call
Howard Marshall at 576-6850.
November 24, 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Greenleaf Senior Building, 1200
Delaware Avenue, SW. Thanksgiving Luncheon for ages 55 and up. Seniors
will enjoy lunch and fellowship for the Thanksgiving season. For
registered participants only. For more information, call 727-1774.
November 24, 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m., DC Center for Therapeutic
Recreation Center, 3030 G Street, SE. Thanksgiving Luncheon for adults
with special needs. Individuals will dine at local restaurant. For more
information, call Rita Robinson, Recreation Therapist, at 698-1794.
November 24-25, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Hardy Recreation Center, 4500 Q
Street, NW. Thanksgiving Basket Drive for all ages. The Ward 3 community
may donate nonperishable food for needy families. For more information,
call Rodney Brown at 282-2190.
CLASSIFIEDS — SCHOOL APPLICATIONS
Duke Ellington School of the Arts Accepting
Applications for 2010 School Year
Barbara Power, firstname.lastname@example.org
Duke Ellington School of the Arts at 3500 R Street, NW, is accepting
applications online now through December 18 for the 2010-2011 school
year. Serving all wards of the city, Ellington is the only DC public
high school that provides a dual program of intensive pre-professional
arts training alongside a complete college preparatory curriculum. The
school benefits greatly from partnerships with the Kennedy Center,
George Washington University, DCPS, and the Ellington Fund, and
attendance is tuition-free for accepted DC residents grades nine through
twelve. Ninety-eight percent of Ellington seniors graduate on time, and
95 percent of those go on to colleges or conservatories.
Please visit the school web site at http://www.ellingtonschool.org
and go to the Admissions area to learn more about the school and the
admissions process, and to fill out an application. For any questions,
please contact Barbara Power in the admissions office at 298-1777 ext.
1774, or at email@example.com.
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