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January 17, 2010


Dear Holiday Celebrants:

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr., day — an official United States holiday whose meaning has changed dramatically in the decades since it was first officially recognized. The holiday was quite controversial when it was first proposed, and there was a good deal of resistance to it, although Congress passed it by an overwhelming majority. The resistance was understandable, because King was a revolutionary figure, an oppositional figure, an outsider. It’s hard for those who didn’t live through the civil rights movement to understand, but the so-called radicals of the time, people like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, were much less revolutionary than King. Malcolm X and Carmichael preached a doctrine of permanent racial division, and worked for an American society that would still be dominated by race and racial separation, that would differ from the past only in that black Americans would have more power with respect to white Americans. King, on the other hand, foresaw and worked for a quite different end, for racial reconciliation — a post-racial society in which racial differences would not be important to whites or blacks. That is the real revolutionary change.

King was never a man of the establishment, never a friend of government. The meaning of his life has been domesticated and tamed by government’s claiming him, and later by the federal government’s and local governments’ declaring the holiday in his honor to be a “day of service,” on which governments encourage people to work at officially organized and approved service projects. But even after decades of reshaping and reinterpreting and ignoring King’s message, the subversive core remains. And that’s what inspires us.

Gary Imhoff


The Washington Teachers’ Union Can Do Better
Candi Peterson,

Last Saturday, 120 people gathered together at the invitation of Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) General Vice President Nathan A. Saunders to celebrate his graduation from the National Labor College in Baltimore, Maryland. What was significant about this event was that Saunders announced that he would run for the WTU President seat when elections are held in May 2010. With a campaign slogan of “We Can Do Better,” Saunders shared his vision of building an organizing union that is proactive and embraces members ideas, encourages the participation of teachers, parents, and community working collectively to improve teaching and learning conditions.

The gathering included community members, parents, teachers, and school personnel, many of whom remarked throughout the night that there were excited and interested in working to fight for meaningful education reform that doesn’t exclude critical stakeholders. Saunders’ speech focused on the obvious — that teachers have not had a contract for three years and many of our teachers have lost their jobs in part due to our union’s being reactive to Chancellor Rhee’s five year education plan which seeks to terminate a significant share of the teaching force. In a recent press release, Saunders stated, “Teachers are more besieged today than ever. The collective bargaining agreement is expired by three years, working conditions have deteriorated, and teachers are working harder for less money under greater pressure.”

Saunders’ announcement for WTU President 2010 was covered by Washington Post writer Bill Turque on the DC Wire blog, in which he wrote, “Saunders’ candidacy raises at least the possibility that if Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee fails to secure a new contract with the WTU before spring, she could be dealing with a union president who qualifies as her worst nightmare” ( After all, many remarked at the recent campaign gathering that we are at war in this city as teachers and other government workers are in a fight to save their jobs. Turque’s quote got me to thinking that teachers are desperately in need of a union president who will stand up to Rhee and be willing to fight.

On The Washington Teacher blog, I often read comments from teachers who are sick and tired of our union’s current state of apathy and unwillingness to lead us in the fight of our lives. As we sit and watch as more DC teachers and school personnel are unjustly terminated and laid-off, imagine a future with even more terminations with an IMPACT evaluations that are unfair. I know we can do better. As Saunders’ web site states — We Must Do Better! For everything there is a season; it is the season for all of us to gather stones because it is time to fight. I strongly encourage you to check out Saunders’ campaign web site for WTU President 2010 and read about his platform. Visit to get more information. If you are interested in working on Saunders’ campaign for WTU President 2010, please feel free to sign up via his web site or by E-mail,


Report on Commercial Recycling Hearing, January 13
Virginia Johnson,

If you live in a condo or apartment, you are not, in the eyes of the DC Department of Public Works, part of the residential recycling program. Rather, you are part of the commercial recycling program. On January 13, I was the only resident testifying as a resident at the commercial recycling hearing at the Wilson Building. My testimony concluded with the paragraph, “A city that boasts that it is ‘liberal,’ ‘progressive,’ or ‘Democratic,’ but does not have a reliable recycling program in place and is in fact supremely indifferent to that reality is a joke.” I debated with myself briefly whether or not to include that harsh sounding paragraph, but as I first suspected, it just reflects residents’ true level of interest. It is amazing to me that in a city with so much supposed environmental awareness and enthusiasm, not to mention the number of people with post graduate degrees in environmental this or that, that there was a grand total of one person showing up to represent people who live in condos and apartments on recycling.

Reacting to my testimony, the chairman, Jim Graham, noted that he too lives in a commercial building, and that his fellow residents are Johnny-on-the-spot with the recycling and apparently keep an eagle eye out for those who don’t. I felt like asking, “then where are they?” I replied that people in my building are not nearly so avid, and the reaction by both the board and management company when I brought to their attention the lack of general compliance was underwhelming to say the least. Because of this apparent unwillingness or indifference, the changes that I heard are in the works are likewise weak.

Graham noted that last year he tried to get six investigators hired at DPW but was not successful for a rather picayune budget reason. He said he is going to propose something similar this year. Most of the proposals I heard at the hearing (I didn’t stay until the bitter end) are chipping away at the edges, and real overhaul and real improvement is nowhere on the horizon, unfortunately. I wish I could put a cheerier face on things, but until residents draw a line in the sand, and stand firm, your DC recycling program will continue to limp along as the weak one that it is. The bag tax is the lone bright spot on the horizon. I wish the recycling program could be as bold.


DPW Schedule for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day
Kevin Twine,

The Department of Public Works will be closed on Monday, January 18, to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Most DPW services will be suspended, including DPW trash and recycling collections. DPW also will not enforce parking meters or other parking regulations.

Trash and recycling collections will slide one day citywide for the rest of the week. For example, Monday 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 and Tuesday and Friday collections will slide to Wednesday and Saturday. Trash and recycling containers should be put 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. Residents can still dispose of their holidays trees by placing them with the regular trash. Trees will be collected as truck space permits.

The Ft. Totten transfer station will be closed to residential customers on Monday. It will reopen Tuesday for residents to bring their trash and bulk items. Holiday trees can be brought to Ft. Totten (1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturdays) for free tree chipping until Saturday, January 30. All DPW services will resume on Tuesday, January 19. To view DPW’s 2010 trash and recycling holiday schedule, visit, scroll down to DPW Highlights and select “View the 2010 Holiday Slide Guide.”


Environmentalists and Environmentalism
Thomas Grahame,

Gary, I’d suggest you look at environmentalism with a more nuanced eye. We come in all shapes and sizes, some quite sane and agnostic when it comes to environmentalism as a religion. Example: the Chesapeake Bay once had far more wildlife and resources in it. The oyster population is about 1 percent of what it used to be. The blue crab harvest is way down. Once-abundant sea grasses can’t grow at depths they used to grow in, because sunlight no longer penetrates more than the first few feet of water in summer. This means that there is far less sea grass. Sun doesn’t penetrate because algae now grow so prolifically that they block the light. Algae are so prolific because of pollution (nitrogen and phosphorus, plant nutrients, to be precise). The algae keep fish levels down, because juvenile fish need grasses to hide from predators.

Do you think that efforts (not yet successful) to restore the Chesapeake Bay so that the water is cleaner and clearer, and more fish and oysters and sea grasses and crabs can grow are evidence of delusional religion? Or do you think a reasonable society would want to bring the Bay back (not that it will ever be pristine again, but just better!) When the striped bass population was in a free fall about twenty years ago, states (and DC) declared moratoria on catching them, to enable recovery. And recover they did. Doesn’t this look like a reasonable, and successful, environmental initiative?

Many people today want to do more for the environment, generally speaking, but may not always know environmental issues in depth (few have the time). One E-mailer noted that the bag bill probably won’t do much to directly benefit the Anacostia because most floating plastic debris seems to be bottles (I agree; I’ve canoed the Anacostia this fall). It seems to be politically impossible to pass a bottle bill of some sort, however. I do think there will be some incremental revenue from the bill for fixing the Anacostia, and that is incrementally OK with me. My sense is that the bill is “feel good” legislation that probably won’t accomplish much, but which makes Tommy Wells look good with his younger constituents, which may have been the point. Yet, to be fair to Wells, we have to see how much revenue comes into a fund for the Anacostia — I would be quite pleased if the funds were significant, and if they could produce visible benefits. Yes, some environmental ideas can be crazy, and some environmentalists can be crazy, but look at the big picture, and make your judgment issue by issue.


Blogging About DC Politics
Peter J. Orvetti,

I have recently started a blog that, despite my intentions, has mostly been about DC politics. You can find it at


January InTowner Content Now Available Online
P.L. Wolff,

This is to advise that the January 2010 online edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items, editorials (including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’ also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature (the accompanying images can be seen in the archived PDF version). The Selected Street Crimes feature will be updated in the coming days at which time we will send an advisory to our new content upload notification list recipients.

The complete issue (along with prior issues back to January 2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link in the Current & Back Issues Archive. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in print, including all photos and advertisements. The next issue will publish on February 12 (the second Friday of the month as usual). The complete PDF version will be posted by the preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter.

To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “Champlain Street Reopening Leaves Major Elements of Promised improvements Undone”; 2) “Columbia Heights Homeowner Proves Slashing Pepco Bills Doable Without Sacrifice.”



Department of Parks and Recreation Events, January 19-22
John Stokes,

January 19, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Fort Lincoln Recreation Center, 3100 Ft. Lincoln Drive, NE. Martin Luther King, Jr., tribute for all ages. Youth will color and/or paint a picture or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to be displayed. For more information, call Ricky Davenport-Thomas, Site Manager, at 576-6818.

January 20, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Therapeutic Recreation Center, 3030 G Street, SE. Trip to Toby’s Dinner Theater. Adults registered in the Leisure Life Skills Program will travel to Toby’s Dinner Theater in Columbia, MD, to see a matinee performance of “Annie.” For more information, call 698-1795.

January 21, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Arboretum Recreation Center, 2412 Rand Place, NE. Martin Luther King Poetry Slam for all ages. The community will have a poetry slam contest for the community, the best poet will win a small prize and show off their talent. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 727-5547.

January 22, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Joseph H. Cole Recreation Center, 1200 Morse Street, NE. Crazy Hat Night for ages twelve and under. Participants will be judged on the best hat and there will be first, second, and third prize winners. For more information, call Andre Pressey at 724-4874.

January 22, 12:15 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Lafayette Recreation Center, 5900 33rd Street, NW. Half Day Celebration for ages twelve and under. Participants will partake in a fun filled half day celebration including a movie, cookie making, arts and crafts, and refreshments. For more information, call Mike Thompkins at 282-2206.


Calling Ward 1 Organizations, January 22
Susie Cambria,

In 2010, service providers and community-based organizations will to be asked to do more with less as the recession continues to impact our clients and donors. Programs and whole organizations that provide services to Ward 1 residents have been (or will be) cut back or eliminated. We all know how hard this makes our work. But our work would be easier if everyone knew what services were still available so we could make quality referrals and avoid unnecessarily duplicating efforts. Unfortunately, collecting all this information and keeping it updated is extremely time consuming and redundant if each organization tried to do it individually.

So why don’t we come together collectively to identify service gaps, evaluate communication options, and generally take stock of our current situation? Councilmember Jim Graham will help introduce a social service database and SWOT blog as tools to make tracking Ward 1 services and communication across service providers easier.

This is only the beginning, so if you’re concerned about current condition of our Ward 1 safety net and how we as a community can improve our work, please set aside 9:30 a.m., January 22, at the Columbia Heights Youth Club (1480 Girard Street, NW) for the SWOT Kickoff (go to for additional details).


Wine Tasting Event, January 26
Jacqueline Marie Dudas,

Celebrate the grand opening and enjoy tasting a selection of fine wines at the District Restaurant and Lounge — 2473 18th Street, NW — on Tuesday, January 26, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. District is the newest addition to Adams Morgan and the DC restaurant scene.

Red and white wine selections will complement the appetizer selections served from the District’s upscale surf and turf contemporary style menu theme. Washington DC wine connoisseur of Taste DC will also host — Charlie Adler will also promote his upcoming book, I Drink on the Job. Two lucky wine enthusiasts will be able to win a copy of the book, due to come out in February.

Admission is $25 per person; all proceeds go to the Adams Morgan Main Street Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. RSVP to or call 232-1960.


Mayor’s Arts Award Nominations, February 5
Victoria Joy Murray,

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities invites you to submit nominations for the twenty-fifth annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. The Mayor’s Arts Awards are the most prestigious honors conferred by the city on individual artists, organizations, and patrons of the arts. Cash prizes will be awarded in each category. Join Mayor Adrian M. Fenty as he presents the awards!

The Mayor’s Arts Award categories are Excellence in an Artistic Discipline, Outstanding Emerging Artist, Excellence in Service to the Arts, Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education, and Innovation in the Arts. The Mayor’s Award for Arts Teaching categories are Excellence in Teaching Performing Arts, Excellence in Teaching Visual Arts, Excellence in Teaching Language Arts. The submission deadline is Friday, February 5, 7:00 p.m. Click for a nomination form. For more information, contact Victoria Joy Murray, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, 1371 Harvard Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009, 724-5613 (voice) or 727-3148 (TDD), E-mail Please note nominees must be residents of the District of Columbia.



DPR Seeks Volunteers for the 24th Annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet
John A. Stokes,

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the United Black Fund, Inc., will host “Dive Into History,” the twenty-fourth annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet, February 12-14, at the Takoma Aquatic Facility, 300 Van Buren Street, NW. DPR is seeking volunteers to participate in this annual event. The Black History Invitational Swim Meet was established to provide urban youth nationwide with a positive outlet for exposure to strong competition, a forum to meet positive role models, and the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital. The Black History Invitational Swim Meet has been hailed by USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming, as the “premier minority swim competition in the United States and the world.” Over 850 youth from across the nation will attend this event.

Those interested in volunteering should visit or contact Jennifer Nguyen by telephone at 673-7662 or by E-mail at by January 29.


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