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January 10, 2010

Shoplifting Tools

Dear Shoppers:

There are several more comments on the bag tax in this issue of themail. DC is becoming the headquarters for hair-shirt environmentalism, which treats humans as a cancer on the earth, and seeks to punish us for existing. A hundred years ago, people took pleasure in monumental projects, and celebrated leaving their mark with grand dams, powerful locomotives on continent-spanning tracks, and towering skyscrapers. Now we’re scolded and told we should feel guilty for the presumption of leaving a footprint on the ground. Our councilmembers are the ideological prisoners of the most extreme activists, anxious to join whatever the latest faddish movement is to ban and prohibit and impose restrictions on human consumption, no matter how foolish or badly thought out the fad may be. The bag tax is the latest example. Councilmembers let the activists shape and write the bill, and councilmembers didn’t bother to read it or consider its consequences before they passed it. Now they’re surprised when they find out their bill imposes a tax on plastic and paper bags at department stores, clothing stores, book stores, electronics stores, all stores that sell a few snacks or candy bars at their cash registers. (The activists who wrote the bill aren’t surprised, of course; they’re only sorry that the bill didn’t impose a complete ban.) But that surprise won’t be enough to persuade councilmembers to repeal the bill. What will persuade them is the rebellion of store owners when their security officers tell them that all the shoppers entering their stores are carrying roomy, convenient shoplifting tools, and that it’s impossible to sort out the shoplifters anymore.


Now for the really large-scale shoplifters. Fenty’s apologists will continue to excuse his administration’s cronyism and corruption. They’ll say that they don’t see anything wrong with the DC Housing Authority’s secretly issuing a Christmas eve check for $2.5 million to Banneker Associates, the firm owned by Fenty’s buddy, on a contract that the city council had already disapproved and forbidden any further payments on. They’ll say that the city council shouldn’t conduct any inquiry into Fenty’s contracting and spending, that how tax funds are misspent is none of the public’s business. But people who believe that should be forced to watch the full tape of Friday’s council hearing, They should have to listen to the incredible and repeated lapses of memory of Acting Housing Authority Director Adrienne Todman and her officials. They should have to suffer through the insufferable smugness and self-satisfaction of Valerie Santos, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, as she dissembled, evaded, and pretended not to understand the clearest questions.

The one witness in the lengthy hearing who showed any integrity was Debra Toothman, the chief financial officer at the Housing Authority, who had not been brought to the hearing by the Housing Authority, but who had to be specifically summoned by the councilmembers during the hearing. Toothman told the councilmembers that the payment process was unprecedented and highly irregular, that she questioned and objected to it, and that she wrote the check only when she was specifically ordered to do so. She was told by Todman that she and her staff could not leave the office until the check was cut. This is the Fenty administration, though, so we can be sure of one thing: Todman and Santos will be rewarded for their disgraceful behavior, both in following orders to approve of the payment and in defying the council at the hearing. Only Toothman will be punished, for her honesty.

Gary Imhoff


Campaign Suggestions for Jack Evans
Pete Tucker,

Jack, it’s being rumored that, if Vincent Gray runs for mayor, you will run to fill his position as chair of the city council. How exciting! You’ve got nothing to lose from running for chair, since your Ward 2 seat is not up until 2012. Below are a few suggestions to help ensure that your run for chair will be successful. 1) Stop lobbying for Patton Boggs, at least until after the election. This will prevent your opponents from pointing out the conflicts of interest that arise from being both a councilmember (with a salary of more than $125,000 a year), as well as a lobbyist for Patton Boggs (with a salary of an additional $240,000 a year). If giving up your second six-figure salary is a bit too onerous (we all have to eat, right?), then how about just taking down your page from Patton Boggs’ web site ( Next to your picture it states, “Mr. Evans advises clients on real estate matters.” I’m worried that your opponents will point out that it is improper for you to be both a lobbyist working on behalf of your “clients,” as well as chair of the influential Finance Committee, where you play a critical role in determining the direction of billions of precious taxpayer dollars.

2) When running for chair, use the words “economic development” as often as possible. Who can be against that? Of course, your opponents will bring up your poor record of delivering on this promised “economic development.” They’ll point to the huge sums of tax dollars you have spent on projects such as the baseball stadium (more than $725 million), the Convention Center ($850 million), and now the Convention Center Hotel ($272 million), to name a few. Try to steer these discussions towards what you will do, and away from what you have done.

3) Lastly, and most importantly, be very careful about what you say and do with regards to the proposed Convention Center Hotel. Before the summer recess, at the one rushed hearing you held on this enormous deal, you were asked if you had a conflict of interest. Specifically, you were asked if your firm, Patton Boggs, represents Marriott, the proposed recipient of $272 million in public funds. You refused to respond, and two days later you began recusing yourself from voting on the matter. The Federation of Citizens Associations and the Committee of 100, two well-respected civic organizations, sensing something may be amiss, sent you and Chair Gray a letter asking about the extent and nature of your relationship with Marriott. Once again, you refused to respond. Despite this summer’s council votes approving the Marriott giveaway, the deal looks like it may fall through. JBG, a competitor of Marriott’s, has filed suit claiming that the manner in which Marriott received the contract was unfair and lacked transparency. On Thursday, January 7, Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Business Journal reported that you were working to bring together JBG’s managing partner Ben Jacobs and Marriott Chairman and CEO Bill Marriott. O’Connell writes, “There is a quiet move afoot by Councilman Jack Evans, who has been fighting for the hotel since before the convention center itself was built, to get the two principals to resolve their dispute and leave the city out of it. Multiple sources close to the negotiations acknowledge this much: At the behest of Evans, Jacobs and Marriott are talking.”

My advice is that you cease and desist from any and all conversations with Marriott and JBG. I’m fearful that by continuing to be involved with the Marriott deal you are not only jeopardizing your chances of becoming chair, but you may be at risk of becoming the subject of an ethics investigation. If you run for chair, I wish you the best of luck. And if you are the subject of an ethics investigation, I wish you the best of luck with that, as well.


Crack Pots
Richard Worthington-Rogers,

The Stand 4 Marriage DC Coalition has asked the DC Superior Court to order the Board of Elections and Ethics to allow their “Marriage Initiative 2009” on the ballot so they can begin collecting signatures. This was not totally unexpected, but the really great part of the news is the thirty-nine congressmen who have filed an amicus brief to stand by Bishop Harry Jackson and his supporters. In addition to Wicker and Inhofe, House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), the brief was also signed by:

US Representatives. Robert Aderholt (Ala.), Todd Akin (Mo.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), J. Gresham Barrett (SC), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.), Marsha Blackbird (Tenn.), John Busman (Ark.), Jason Shafted (Utah), John Flaming (La.), J. Randy Forbes (Va.), Virginia Fox (NC), Scott Garrett (NJ), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.), Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), Wally Herger (Calif.), Walter Jones (NC), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Steve King (Iowa), Jack Kingston (Ga.), John Kiln (Minn.) Doug Lamborn (Colo.), Robert Latta (Ohio), Don Manzullo (Ill.), Michael McCaul (Tex.), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Patrick McHenry (NC), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Jeff Miller (Fla.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Randy Neugebauer (Tex.), Mike Pence (Ind.), Joe Pitts (Pa.), Mark Souder (Ind.) and Todd Tiahrt (Kan.).


In Support of the Healthy Schools Act
Lauren Shweder Biel,

This is a response to Gary Imhoff’s post on January 6, entitled “Bad Bills.” I am on the Advisory Board of the DC Farm to School Network (, manage the Glover Park-Burleith Farmers’ Market, and am the parent of a future DC Public School student. I will also disclose that I operate under the assumption that getting healthy, local fruits and vegetables to District of Columbia schoolchildren is a worthy cause for its impacts on child health and well-being, environmental sustainability, and economic development.

First of all, I’d like to clarify that the farm-to-school section of the bill is not about “identifying any foods served in schools that students may actually like, and replacing them with more servings of carrot and celery sticks,” as Imhoff claims. It asks schools to serve healthy, local foods in school meals whenever possible, provides financial incentives for them to do so, and asks schools to educate students about the connections among food, health, and the environment. It encourages school gardens — proven vehicles of multidisciplinary and experiential education. Learn more about the farm-to-school components of the bill here — Our coalition of farm-to-school advocates feel these are worthy, effective measures proven successful in other states (through behavioral impact research and economic analysis, not “counting cloth bags,” so to speak).

Policy change is a necessary precursor to any meaningful shift in cafeteria culture. There are certain things legislation can address (or encourage) that the nonprofit and private sector cannot. One good example is requiring full disclosure of where the produce in school meals comes from. While the DC Farm to School Network aims to facilitate the purchase and processing of local produce for school food service providers, and has organized topical educational activities (farm field trips, chef demonstrations, garden visits, etc.), the Healthy Schools Act moves this key issue out of the margins for the District, and puts us in step with the rest of the nation. Cost-effective farm-to-school policy measures have been developed across the country and have been instrumental at making farm-to-school programs successful. See a state by state listing at

When I take up Imhoff’s challenge, and “look for who gets the benefits” of the farm-to-school components of the Healthy Schools Act, I see Washington, DC, students, local farmers, and the local food economy. The District of Columbia’s schoolchildren have the highest child poverty rate in the nation, and one of the highest child obesity rates. It’s not that food service staff don’t want to serve healthy foods to them, that parents don’t want their kids to eat more healthily, or that kids think healthy food is (always) gross. There are many systemic issues that make switching to healthy, local foods more expensive, complicated, and difficult than it could be. Policy change, in conjunction with other efforts, is slowly changing that at the national, state and local levels. After attending discussions with food school administrators, food service vendors, growers, DCPS students, and farm-to-school experts from across the country, I truly believe that the farm-to-school components of the Healthy Schools Act contain measures that will bolster current efforts to provide healthy options for DC kids. And a broad coalition of parents, teachers, school administrators, advocates, nonprofit partners, and others agree.


Ask President Obama to Talk About DC Democracy in the State of the Union Address
Ilir Zherka,

On the anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration, we will remind him of the six hundred thousand DC residents who fight in wars and pay taxes, yet have no vote in Congress. On January 20, we will send the White House more than fifty thousand petitions demanding the vote. We will also ask the president to include a sentence about DC democracy during his State of the Union address in February.

Tell us what you think President Obama should say about DC democracy in the State of the Union. Your language could be what DC Vote takes to the Obama administration! Please send us your suggested language — no more than three sentences — by Monday, January 11. E-mail or post your message on the DC Vote Facebook Fan page. Stay tuned to vote for your favorite among the top three picks generated from all of you! The State of the Union address is an unparalleled opportunity for the nation to learn and better understand the issue of DC voting rights. One sentence from the president will greatly heighten public awareness of the issue.


Not So Bad Bills
Tac Tacelosky, Smokefree DC,

We only wish that the bill introduced by Phil Mendelson did as much to curb sidewalk smoking as you [themail, January 6] and the Examiner like to proclaim. While many people would like our public space to be free of cigarette smoke, they may be disappointed to find out that all the bill does is allow a business to put signs up requesting the people don’t smoke by the doorways. No ban. No Big Government. It simply give businesses a mechanism to keep tobacco smoke from drifting inside and harming the health of workers and public. This is an issue for one particular medical office that called us to report that cardiology patients were sitting in a waiting room filled with cigarette smoke. Believe it or not, many people think the government should allow businesses to ensure the safety of their patrons and employees.


Crack Bags
Richard Worthington-Rogers,

Too bad the city can’t capture five cents each on the tiny plastic crack bags that are littering neighborhood curbs, because the Anacostia would be cleaned up much more quickly.


Bag Tax
James Treworgy,

After reading a half-dozen swoons about the new bag tax [themail, January 6], which simply restate the same flawed premises without addressing any of the criticisms, I felt it was important to ask these questions again.

1) Bag taxes are relatively new. In the United States, this tax is unique in applying to both paper and plastic bags. However, in Ireland, it has been shown that kitchen bag sales nearly doubled in the years following the banning of plastic bags. This is an intuitive result, since most people reuse the lightweight, free bags they get from stores. Since every bag you buy at a store is much heavier weight than the free sort, the net result could in fact be greater use of petroleum. Question: did the District of Columbia consider overall petroleum use and the big picture in developing this policy, or only shifting the way people procure trash bags?

2) In this blog,, from February 2009, which is enthusiastic about the bag tax, we see many pictures of trash in the Anacostia. It is very ironic to me that in all the pictures shown, I can make out only a single plastic bag (I think), in the first picture, among mountains of other kinds of trash. On the other hand, it is clear the a vast majority of the trash is made up of bottles and cans. I pick up trash regularly as I walk around my neighborhood, and the types of trash I pick up are almost entirely bottles, cans, and fast-food waste. This lines up pretty much exactly with what I can see in the pictures in the Anacostia. None of these will be affected in any way by the tax. Fast-food restaurants will generally be exempted, and frankly, the idea of using a reusable bag for carryout food it disgusting. Nobody would ever do this. The only time I ever see a plastic bag is when it contains liquor cans or bottles, or fast food waste. I don’t think that the sort of person who throws their empty beer cans on the sidewalk is the sort of person who will be buying liquor without a bag, or with a reusable one. Their behavior will not change. So these bags will still be on the sidewalk. Question: what is the expectation for how this bag tax will improve conditions in the Anacostia, other than generating revenue? If it’s revenue generation, then why not fund the cleanup with a general tax, instead of one that is highly regressive, such as this one? Since most carryout bags come from grocery and corner stores, and food represents a much higher portion of income for lower-income people, this will unquestionably disproportionately affect poorer people.

3) Given the kind of trash that clearly make up the majority of what’s in the river, and what’s on our streets, why did the District of Columbia proceed with this tax, instead of introducing a bottle bill? Bottle bills have a track record decades long in many other states of being remarkably effective. Even if some people don’t change their behavior, others will pick up the trash in order to receive the refund. Though DC tried to get a bottle bill passed more than twenty years ago, and it was initially very popular, it failed for sociopolitical reasons. But I suspect a bag tax would have failed far more miserably back then. The climate is different now; a bottle bill could easily pass. A bottle bill would have had a dramatic impact on city street and river trash, and significantly increase the recycling rate in the city. It would probably also generate more revenue than the bag tax. Finally, since the vast majority of taxable items are beer and liquor bottles — in some states it only applies to alcoholic beverages — if the bottles aren’t returned, it’s a sin tax, which is much more palatable than what amounts to a tax on groceries. Question: why did we not work on implementing a bottle bill instead of the bag tax, since it’s proven effective and would address much more of the actual waste we see than a bag tax?


Nickel Bag Revolt
Bryce Suderow,

Tonight I spoke to the owner of the DC Market, located one block southwest of my place, where I buy a lot of groceries. Owner: “Eighty percent of customers refuse bags.” Her assistant: “Fifteen to twenty percent bring their own bags.” Owner again: “And the rest carry the groceries out in their arms.” The Manager of the 7-Eleven at 8th Street and Maryland Avenue told me no one is accepting his bags. People bring their own.

The biggest supporters of the tax seem to be the twenty-somethings. Yesterday one of them and I were waiting for the bus near the Blockbuster on 8th Street, SE. She argued passionately for the tax. I pointed out that the tax was imposed without our consent by a mayor and city council who felt they knew what is good for us. “What’s wrong with that,” she said? It’s to clean up the river.” At that moment a police car pulled up with a flashing light. A belligerent cop told her, “What are you doing in the street? Don’t you realize I could arrest you for jaywalking?” She’d taken a couple of steps into the street to see if the bus was coming. She was shaken, embarrassed and angry at the cop. I couldn’t resist: “Well, it’s for your own good. You could get hit by a car. How does it make you feel when someone tells you what to do?” Anxious to get away from me, she muttered, “I’m going to walk home.”

I have to believe this bag tax is costing the stores money. If people are carrying groceries in their arms, that limits the amount of groceries than can buy. Any thoughts on that?


Cleaning the River
Laurie Collins,

I’m all for cleaning up pollution of a river whose pollution has been contributed by humans for over 200 years. However, the River is also surrounded by PG County. It would have been nice if Maryland and Virginia joined the District’s effort. My concerns are these: if everyone carried reusable bags, where is the city going to find enough money to educate and clean up the river? Oh, that’s right, from those who are paying the five cents per bag. But wait, wouldn’t these people be the ones contributing to the clean up and education efforts and be the continued source of pollution as well?



Department of Parks and Recreation Events, January 13-14
John Stokes,

January-April, 5:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m., various locations. Youth Basketball League for ages six through eighteen. Registration starts now! DPR runs a citywide youth basketball league during the winter months. Our recreation leagues are designed to give kids the greatest benefit available from participation in this organized sport. The age groups divisions: pee-wee (6-8); pony (9-10); junior (11-12); intermediate (13-15); seniors (16-18). Girls 12 and under and 13-15. For more information, call Toby Strong at 316-2385.

January 13, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Lafayette Recreation Center, 5900 33rd Street, NW. Basketball Pep Rally for all ages. To kick off the Winter Basketball team members will participate in a pep rally to start the season. For more information, call Mike Thompkins at 282-2206.

January 14, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Therapeutic Recreation Center, 3030 G Street, SE. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.? For adults with special needs. This event will celebrate the history and legacy of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including “I Have a Dream” speech. For more information, call the Therapeutic Recreation Center at 698-1795.

January 14, 3:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m., Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th Street, NE. Remembering a King for ages six through thirteen. Youth will read poems and watch a movie on the life of Dr. King. For more information, call Raphael Marshall, Site Manager, at 698-3075.

January 14, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., Trinidad Recreation Center, 1310 Childress Street, NE. A Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for ages twelve and under. In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, youth will perform a dance and recite poetry For more information, call Anthony Higginbotham, Site Manager, at 727-1293.

January 14, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., Langdon Park Recreation Center, 2901 20th Street, NE. Movie night for ages twelve and under. Kids will enjoy a movie in the multipurpose room. Staff will provide food, popcorn, and juice. For more information, call T-Jai Farmer, Site Manager, 576-6595.


DC Public Library Events, January 11-19
George Williams,

Join the DC Public Library in celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Events include:

Monday, January 11, 1:30 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Jim Lucas of Pin Points Theater will recite Dr. King speeches and perform other works.

Tuesday, January 12, 4:00 p.m., Georgetown Interim Library, 3307 M Street, NW. Teens aged twelve to nineteen will watch the film, “Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream Speech” (NR), and discuss whether Dr. King’s dream has been realized and what dreams he would have today.

Tuesday, January 12, 6:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Dr. Ed Jackson, executive architect of the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial Project, will give an update on the King National Memorial.

Wednesday, January 13, 1:30 p.m., Woodridge Neighborhood Library, 1801 Hamlin Street, NE. Paula Young Shelton, educator and daughter of former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, will discuss and sign copies of her new book, Child of the Civil Rights Movement.

Wednesday, January 13, 6:30 p.m., Capitol View Neighborhood Library, 5001 Central Avenue, SE. Joe Madison, WOL-AM talk radio personality, gives his perspective on Dr. King and his legacy.

Saturday, January 16, 2:00 p.m., Takoma Park Neighborhood Library, 416 Cedar Street, NW. Children of all ages are invited to read Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier. Afterwards, they can design a stained glass window inspired by illustrations in the book.

Sunday, January 17, 1:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Paula Young Shelton, educator and daughter of former UN Ambassador Andrew Young; civil rights activist Robert Artisst; former Freedom Rider Rev. Reginald M. Green; and others share stories of Dr. King and what he may have thought about current issues.

Tuesday, January 19, 7:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Former Congressional Delegate Rev. Walter Fauntroy speaks on Dr. King’s life and his book This Is My Story. This is My Song: A Pastor and his People.

Please visit for a complete listing of events.


Next Step to Save Public Property, January 11, 14
Parisa Nourizi,

Pass legislation on the District Facilities Plan. The District Facilities Plan is a planning document long required by DC’s Comprehensive Plan, yet never completed by the city government. The plan is needed to identify the facilities needs of DC government agencies — and to ensure the fair and equitable placement of services needed by our communities! Due to the demands of the People’s Property Campaign, Councilwoman Cheh has introduced legislation on the District Facilities Plan and is holding a hearing on January 14. We need your help! Turn out, testify or submit a written statement in support of passage of the bill with key changes that are needed to strengthen it.

We are holding a District Facilities Plan testimony preparation and information session on Monday, January 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at 1419 V Street, NW. RSVP to or 234-9119. Sign up to testify at the public hearing on the District Facilities Plan, Bill 18-592, on Thursday, January 14, 11:00 a.m., John A Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 412. To sign up, contact Aukima Benjamin at 724-8062 or Submit written testimony to by January 21.

The District Facilities Plan (also referred to as Master Facilities Plan) is a planning tool long required by and referred to in DC’s Comprehensive Plan, yet never completed by the city. The plan is meant to guide the allocation of facilities for DC government agencies, and can impact the use of public property. For lack of this plan, the city has established a trend of entering into wasteful leases, renting private space for DC government offices, at a cost of over $140 million per year. The Office of Property Management’s data shows that operating out of rented spaces costs the city approximately three times more than operating out of city-owned public property. Beyond bricks and mortar, the facilities plan is an opportunity for the city to explore the equitable placement of facilities and amenities needed by DC residents. Residents and advocates often find themselves testifying at oversight and budget hearings about the needs of their communities — such as recreation, senior services, literacy programs, youth services etc., yet those discussions rarely if ever address the issue of where these services can be located. Public property is a public asset that can and must be used to further to provision of public services to address community needs. The facilities planning process is an opportunity to identify the needs of our residents and link these needs to potentially available public spaces. 

It is a positive step that the Council is pushing forward legislation to ensure that a facilities plan is at long-last created, to ensure better stewardship of public property, better delivery of services to the public, and to save taxpayer money and assets. Changes to 18-592 are needed to ensure that the facilities planning process is transparent and offers multiple opportunities for community input, and to ensure that the final plan adequately assists the council with its oversight duties — including the important question of whether public properties are in fact “surplus” (no further public use), prior to their disposition. A primary goal of the plan must be the equitable, accessible, and adequate placement of services. As such, the bill must provide guidance for how agencies craft their facilities needs requests. The bill should require agencies to state a) the population that they are charged with serving, b) how that population is geographically distributed throughout the District, c) what if any special accommodations are needed by this population, and d) how the agency will serve equitably serve this population through its space request.

The bill must require that some agencies, particularly those charged with human services (homeless services, health care, etc.) hold a public hearing prior to submitting their facilities needs to the Office of Real Estate Services for inclusion in the facilities plan. Facilities needs are rarely raised during budget and oversight hearings, and thus the facilities planning process should be opened up to the public so that residents and advocates can call attention to facilities issues. The council must hold a hearing on the final plan, allow for public testimony, and make changes to the plan as necessary and before it finally approves the plan. For more information, contact: Parisa Nourizi, Empower DC, 234-9119,


Building in the 21st Century: Dell Children’s Medical Center, January 12
Johanna Weber,

January 12, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Learn how Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas became the nation’s only LEED Platinum-certified hospital from the man who created it. Joseph F. Kuspan, AIA, director of design at Karlsberger, a planning and architecture firm, turned a brownfield site into a 169-bed, 473,000-square-foot gem of a green building. Free. Registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at



Older Laptops Sought
Phil Shapiro,

If Santa left you a shiny new laptop under the Christmas tree, you might be wondering what to do with your older laptop. Some high school student would probably treasure your older laptop, even if it’s not new. I’m in touch with a few needy students who have asked me to keep my eyes open for a laptop for them. These are hard working, focused students.

How old can a laptop be and still be usable? Believe it or not, a Pentium III laptop is still quite usable today. Older laptops of this sort can be updated by installing Ubuntu Linux, a free operating system that happens to be virus-free, too. Ubuntu Linux works great with a USB Wifi Adapter, too, so students can be online. And Ubuntu Linux comes with its own free word processor (OpenOffice) and plenty of fun educational games, such as TetraVex (see I can also volunteer my time to refurbish older Mac laptops, which are also in demand by students. If the future is going to be all digital, we need to build a ramp for our students to get to the future.


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