I have a miserable cold, so I’m doing the lazy thing and reusing a
relevant introduction to themail from almost exactly ten years ago, “Street
Cuts and Cherry Blossoms,” March 19, 2000: “We have plenty of time
to think about the condition of the city’s streets these days, since
we have little else to do as we wait in garages for our automobiles’
tires to be patched and suspensions to be repaired. Even bicyclists and
drivers, normally at war with each other, are on the same side of this
issue; all of us appreciate a smooth ride, and frequently travel to the
suburbs just to find one. Street cuts and potholes have been as abundant
as cherry blossoms but, while the cherry blossoms are fleeting,
symbolizing to the Japanese that nature and life are transitory; street
cuts and potholes are eternal, symbolizing to Washingtonians that
incompetent city management is permanent.
“Perhaps, instead of having an annual Cherry Blossom festival,
Washington could sponsor a pothole and street cut festival. A major
advantage would be that tourists could be assured of always having an
abundant crop to view, no matter what time of year they came. We could
decorate the utility cuts, elect a Pothole Queen, and sponsor
sightseeing tours in Hummers and other off-road vehicles. We should take
a tip from the hucksters of self-esteem, and celebrate our shortcomings.
Just as our moles are merely beauty marks, our potholes and utility cuts
are simply safety speed bumps in reverse.”
Valerie Strauss writes today in her blog, “Why not fire all the
teachers?” She writes (http://tinyurl.com/yfbuvxl),
“Finally, a school system has decided to fire all of the educators at
an ailing school. Why didn’t we think about this sooner? Firing some
of them hasn’t really proven effective in turning around schools, has
it? So why not get rid of all of them and start over?” She’s being
sarcastic, of course, but a number of her commentators take the
suggestion seriously. Sheesh.
Fenty Nominee Rejected?
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
Today, the city council’s Committee on Public Services and Consumer
Affairs, chaired by Muriel Bowser, voted unanimously to adopt a
resolution of disapproval of the nomination of Vicky Beasley to be the
People’s Counsel, PR 18-579. The Committee’s action marks a dramatic
reversal of fortune for Patton and Boggs attorney Beasley, whose mentor
is Fenty pal and Patton and Boggs partner Matthew Cutts. As a loyal
Fenty supporter, Bowser initially tried to fast track the nomination by
convening a confirmation hearing on November 20, 2009, just three days
after it was referred to her committee. When community concerns arose
regarding Beasley’s personality and her lack of qualifications for the
position, however, Bowser was unable to secure the votes in her
committee to approve Beasley’s nomination.
The disapproval resolution will be on the council’s agenda at
Tuesday’s legislative session. Citizens and members of the Consumer
Utility Board will be monitoring the meeting closely to make certain
that the Fenty administration doesn’t try to repeat the legislative
maneuver it employed in November 2008 to secure council approval of
Peter Nickles’ nomination as attorney general. (The council’s
Judiciary Committee had voted out a disapproval resolution on the
nomination, but at the council’s legislative session Councilmember
Jack Evans moved a substitute resolution of approval that secured the
necessary seven votes. Reaching seven votes for Beasley may be more
difficult however, as Evans should be ethically required to recuse
himself from voting on the nomination of a partner in his law firm, a
clear conflict of interest.)
Bag Tax Regulations Open for Comment
Jean Gray, firstname.lastname@example.org
Since many readers of themail have voiced opposition to this tax, I
found out the proposed regulations are open for comment. They were
published in the DC Register on February 5, and I believe they are open
for comment for thirty days.
Is the Post Covering Up for Jack Evans?
Peter Tucker, email@example.com
While the city faces the prospect of unprecedented budget cuts for
the foreseeable future, Jack Evans, the powerful chairman of the
Committee on Finance and Revenue, is attempting to ensure that $272
million in public funding is used to assist Marriott in building a new
1,167 room, $550 million hotel alongside the convention center. In a
February 12 article, “Out of Control: the sorry saga of the convention
center hotel,” Washington Post business columnist Steven
Pearlstein had little favorable to say about the Marriott deal.
Pearlstein wrote, “Over the years, I’ve learned to cast a wary
eye when government officials want an economic development project more
than the private interests chosen to develop it do. Projects grow bigger
and more ambitious than they need to be, thereby requiring more
subsidies than they deserve, until virtually all of the economic
benefits wind up in the hands of private interests.” He continues, “Here
in Washington, there is no better example of that than the convention
center hotel, the star-crossed project that the city has been pursuing
since before the ‘new’ $800 million convention center opened off
Mount Vernon Square in 2003.” Pearlstein noted that most of the
project’s $330 million in private financing is “from a still-unnamed
Middle Eastern investor.” Additionally, he points out that Marriott’s
fingerprints are hard to miss: Quadrangle, the project’s lead
developer (which is currently under investigation by the SEC and NY
state attorney general), partnered “with a new minority-owned firm
headed by Norm Jenkins, who just happened to have led Marriott’s work
on the project.”
In conclusion, Pearlstein wrote, “[I]f the hotel really requires
this much of a subsidy, then it raises a serious question about the
economics of a project that, at best, is expected to increase convention
spending in the city by $100 million a year. Right now, it looks as
though the benefit of all those subsidies will be fully captured by
convention attendees, the convention hotel’s developers and perhaps
the owners of the city’s other hotels. If all goes well, the taxpayers
will get their money back, but not much more.”
While containing much detail, Mr. Pearlstein’s article is missing
pivotal facts. Amazingly, Jack Evans’ name is not mentioned, despite
the fact that Mr. Evans spent several years openly advocating for the
Marriott deal and used his position as chairman of the Committee on
Finance and Revenue to line up $272 million in public funding for the
project. What’s more, Mr. Evans may have a conflict of interest due to
his employment at the law firm Patton Boggs (where he earns $240,000 a
year, in addition to his council salary of more than $125,000): When
asked at a hearing if Patton Boggs represents Marriott or any of the
other interests involved with the deal, Mr. Evans refused to respond,
then suddenly began recusing himself from voting on the issue two days
later. Mr. Pearlstein’s omissions are all too consistent with the Post’s
lack of coverage of Jack Evans’ possible conflict of interest. It is
time for the Post to break its silence on this issue and give
Washingtonians the whole story.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
National Building Museum Events, February 25
Johanna Weber, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 25, 6:30-8:00 p.m., For the Greener Good: A Green Building
is a Healthier One. Can working in a green building make you healthier?
And if you can prove this, would it reduce a company’s health care
insurance? Find out if this is a game changer when considering how and
when to build sustainably. $12 members, free students, $20 nonmembers.
Prepaid 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 http://www.nbm.org.
A Financial Town Hall Meeting, February 25
Michelle Phipps-Evans, email@example.com
The DC Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB)
invites you to a community town hall meeting on financial policies,
programs and services. You will meet DISB’s new Commissioner Gennet
Purcell where you can her some of your urgent financial questions. Also
on hand will be representatives from the US Securities and Exchange
Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal
Reserve Bank. Feel free to find out how each agency is dealing with the
Be prepared to have a conversation on issues related to insurance,
banking, investments, and other financial services in the District of
Columbia. Come ready to discuss issues such as identity theft, personal
banking and savings, automobile, home and life insurance options, and
general financial literacy. Federal and DC government officials will be
prepared to provide up-to-date information on these topics and the
ongoing financial reform.
This first in a series of city-wide events will be at THEARC, 1901
Mississippi Avenue, SE, on Thursday, February 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30
p.m. For more information, call 442-7832 or visit DISB’s web site at http://www.disb.dc.gov.
Also, check Facebook and Twitter for updates.
Recorder of Deeds Tours, February 25, 27
Alexander M. Padro, firstname.lastname@example.org
The tenth annual DC Recorder of Deeds building tours celebrating
Black History Month may be the last, as the agency moves to a new
location. The District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds Building, completed
in 1942, features seven recently restored WPA-era Black history murals
(depicting African American heroes including Benjamin Banneker,
Frederick Douglass, Crispus Attucks, Matthew Henson, and the
Massachusetts 54th Regiment) and other artwork, in a building designed
to house the only District agency led and staffed almost exclusively by
African Americans for over 125 years. Come visit the ROD Building and
hear about the history of past recorders of deeds, including Frederick
Douglass (the first Black recorder of deeds, appointed by President
James A. Garfield in 1881) and Blanche K. Bruce, the work of such
prominent African American artists as William E. Scott and Selma Burke,
and see the building’s intact 1940s decor, which was almost lost to
demolition in 2001.
The 2010 tours will be held on Thursday, February 25, at 6:00 p.m.
and 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday, February 27, at 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m..
The tours are free and no reservations are required. The DC Recorder of
Deeds Building is located at 515 D Street, NW, just one block from the
Archives/Navy Memorial Green and Yellow Line Metro station and Judiciary
Square Red Line Metro station.
These may be the last tours offered for the foreseeable future, as
the Recorder of Deeds will be moving to new office space in May 2010.
Plans for renovating the historic building were removed from the
District government’s FY 2010 capital budget. It is unclear what plans
the Fenty administration may have for the building’s future. The ROD
building was threatened with sale to a private developer in 2001, but
the proposal was withdrawn after widespread publicity highlighting the
building’s important role as an African American historic site. The
ROD building is one of the two hundred most important African American
historic places in DC, listed on the Washington, DC African American
Heritage Trail. For more information, call the DC Recorder of Deeds at
727-0419. Sponsored by the DC Office of Tax and Revenue/Recorder of
Department of Parks and Recreation Events,
John Stokes, email@example.com
February 26, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., DC Center for Therapeutic
Recreation, 3030 G Street, SE. Salute to Black History for adults with
special needs. Prolific African Americans with accomplishments in the
fields of science, arts and literature will be explored and discussed
through games and trivia. For more information, call Rita Robinson,
Recreation Therapist, at 698-1794.
February 26, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Sherwood Recreation Center, 640
10th Street, NE. It’s Blackademics for ages eight through twelve.
Youth will participate in a black-facts game show. For more information,
call Jean Mason, Recreation Specialist, 727-5547.
February 26 – 27, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Prince George’s Sports and
Learning Complex, 8001 Sheriff Road, Landover, Maryland. Mid-Atlantic
Indoor Track & Field Classic for ages nine through eighteen. A
premier track and field invitational meet held for high school athletes
from around the region, while allowing ages 9-14 to compete in the
relays. For more information visit the web site http://www.runningmaryland.com
or call Edgar Sams, Track and Field Coordinator, at 425-2859.
Rhodes Tavern Exhibit Extended until February
Joe Grano, firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to snow closures, the Rhodes Tavern exhibit has been extended
until February 28. This is an exhibit of photographs and memorabilia
marking the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Rhodes Tavern,
Washington, DC’s, first unofficial city hall, at the Washingtoniana
Division (Room 307) of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library.
Many thanks to the staff of the Washingtoniana Division, particularly
Also, I am happy to report that the Rhodes Tavern-DC Heritage Society
Call Box project has finally been completed. All art has been installed,
as well as back plates describing artwork and listing credits. We thank
the numerous individuals, businesses, and organizations that made this
project possible. (Names available upon request). Here are the locations
of the boxes with the names of the prime sponsors of each box: Abraham
Lincoln, 10th and F Streets, NW (SE corner), Madame Tussauds of WDC;
Downtown Washington, 1801, 15th Street and New York Avenue, NW (NW
Corner), PNC Bank; Inaugural Parades, 15th and G Streets, NW (SW
Corner), The Old Ebbitt Grill; British Spare Rhodes Tavern, 15th and F
Streets, NW (NE Corner), John Cosgrove, for the National Press Club.
Casey Trees Tree Planting Class, March 3-4, 6
Bianca Gutierrez email@example.com
Do you want to learn how to plant a tree? Learn to select and prepare
a tree planting site, chose appropriate species for the site, and
properly plant the tree to ensure survival. We cover the technique
critical to maintaining urban tree health, including mulching, watering,
and pruning. The service component consists of community tree planting
and maintenance projects. Students from this tree planting class are
encouraged to volunteer their time to help Casey Trees plant trees
around the District. These students are asked to be leaders at community
tree planting events and to plant with untrained volunteers.
Free and open to the public. Preregistration is required. Instructor:
Jim Woodworth, Director of Tree Planting. Wednesday, March 3, and
Thursday, March 4; field training Saturday, March 6. Classroom work on
March 3 and 4 will be at 1123 11th Street, NW; field training to be
determined. Classroom sessions from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; field
training from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. A light supper will be provided
that includes vegetarian options. For questions, call Carol Herwig at
349-1907, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit http://www.caseytrees.org.
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