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April 11, 2010

The Bonds of Trust

Dear Trustees:

No one has written to themail about Valerie Strauss’s excellent blog about schools and educational issues on the Post’s web site, “The Answer Sheet: A School Survival Guide for Parents (And Everyone Else),” ( One of the best things about her blog is that Strauss invites many guest columnists to write about their special fields of knowledge. If you haven’t tried The Answer Sheet yet, a good introduction is a blog entry on April 9 by Larry Cuban, who is a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University ( Cuban explains why Michelle Rhee has failed and cannot and will not recover, and the posting is worth reading in its entirety. Here are the highlights:

“If Rhee leaves by the end of 2010, it won’t be because test scores have either dipped or slowly risen or a combination of both. If she leaves or stays for only a short time, it will be because she failed to crack the hardest nut that ‘change-agent’ DC school chiefs face: connecting to teachers. . . . The proposed new contract between the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) and Chancellor Rhee is a series of practical compromises that trimmed back Rhee’s ‘no excuses’ agenda and gave union members important concessions. . . . Both sides can come out and say they ‘won.’ But Rhee had already lost in the most important game in town: working closely with 3,800 teachers to improve how and what they teach their students each day. . . . [T]he core of any sustained improvement in urban districts is the bond of trust between veteran teachers and their leader. . . . Teachers need to believe that those at the top understand the situation they face each day and are supportive, even as they push and prod. But teachers are also jumpy, irascible, and feisty agents in their own right — a fact that too many superintendents come to understand too late. Teachers can accept the prodding and shoving as long as they trust those at the top. Once the trust is lost, it is only a matter of settling the details of exiting that have to be worked out. And that is where the situation is now with Chancellor Rhee.”

Trust between the leader and the line workers is necessary for success in any organization, and that trust is what both Fenty and Rhee have squandered. It’s too late for either one to recover it, even if either one wanted to. Neither DCPS teachers nor DC government workers believe that Rhee and Fenty “understand the situation they face each day and are supportive. . . .” When the bonds of trust have been broken, they can never be repaired. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” is a motto most people live by, and there’s no reason that DCPS or DC government workers should believe that Rhee or Fenty understands their situation or cares about them.

Gary Imhoff


The Emerging Budget Saga
Dorothy Brizill,

On Monday morning at 10:00 a.m., Mayor Fenty is scheduled to appear before the council’s Committee of the Whole (COW) to provide a public briefing on his FY2011 proposed budget and financial plan. The COW briefing marks the formal start of the council’s review of the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request Act of 2010 and the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Act (BSA) of 2010. Individual council committees will then hold hearings on the budget and BSA from April 13 to May 7, and mark up the budget from May 11 to May 13. Finally, on May 25 the council will vote on the Budget Report Act and hold a first reading and initial vote on the Budget Support Act. The second reading and final vote on the Budget Support Act (BSA) is scheduled for June 15.

In the last, April 7, issue of themail, I wrote that the Fenty administration had made the decision not to make copies of the budget books available to the council or the general public by the April 1 deadline set in the law (Resolution 18-337, the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Submission Resolution of 2009). While the council did eventually receive copies of the budget and the Budget Request Act of April 8, it has yet to receive the Budget Support Act, which was also due April 1. In a letter to the mayor dated April 8, Council Chairman Vincent Gray indicated that Eric Goulet, the Council’s Budget Director, “was informed [by the City Administrator’s Office] that the Budget Support Act is still not completed and that you [the mayor] will not provide a copy of this document prior to Monday, April 12, 2010. If the Budget Support Act is not completed, how could the Chief Financial Officer have certified your budget submission?”

The BSA is a significant document that accompanies the budget. It details the policy initiatives and changes in government programs, taxes, and fees underpinning the budget. In his April 8 letter to the mayor, Gray makes the point that “as the revenue chapter [of the budget] alludes to, the Budget Support Act contains over one hundred million dollars in tax and fee increases that the council the public need to examine. Footnote: at the mayor’s State of the District address on Friday, April 9, I queried City Administrator Neil Albert about the BSA. His immediate response was, “the law doesn’t require the mayor to submit the BSA with the budget when he forwards it to the council.” I then asked if this was the opinion of Attorney General Peter Nickles, who accompanied Fenty to an April 1 budget briefing and press conference with the council. Albert would not respond either yes or no.

In the last issue of themail, I incorrectly reported that the FY 2011 budget was available online with a link from the CFO’s home page. In a press release issued last Thursday, the CFO’s office indicted that the budget was available in PDF form on its web site at,a,1321,q,589949,cfoNav,%7C33210%7C.asp and the FY2011 Operating Budget Chapters, Operating Appendix Tables, and Capital Budgets are available arranged by agency at,a,1321,q,645445.asp


Clyde Howard,

At long last streetcars are returning to the city after a bone headed decision by the Feds in 1962 to abandon them for buses. Again, hopefully, neighborhood clusters will be connected, but we must be on our P’s and Q’s lest another bone headed decision by two individuals, Gabe Klein, Director of DDOT, and Tommy Wells, Councilmember, Ward 6, give cause not to go forward. That decision is to lace the city’s core with overhead wires, only widespread this time. Klein is too wet behind the ears to remember what Baltimore looked like when they had electric buses, and Wells is still living in a time warp. Every concerned organization is against this plan to overturn the 121-year-old law against overhead wires in the city’s core. I side with these organizations; I do not wish to live under a spider web of wires that can make this city look dirty and less attractive. If those two want this place to look like their home town, then let them take a bus trip back to their home town.


Teacher, Fire Fighters, and Police Raises
Amy McVey,

DC teachers will receive a 20 percent raise with 11 percent retroactive. I heartily agree they should have the increase, and in fact I think all public servants should have some sort of raise, even if it is a modest one in hard times. DC fire fighters were just handed a 0-0-0 percent raise for the three-year contract that expires this coming September. (Some chief officers received rather hefty raises.) There is not going to be any retroactive pay for the firefighters nor is there going to be even a one-cent raise. What this translates to is that because of increased costs such as insurance premiums, the take-home pay of a DC Firefighter has been effectively reduced for each of the last three years. Considering the city will likely stall negotiations with the Firefighters once again, it is probable they will have gone almost 6 years without a penny raise. How is it the city thinks so little of their firefighters? Anyone know if the police were able to squeeze even a little bit out of the city? I’ve repeatedly heard chatter about taking care of “teachers, firefighters, and police,” but at least in the case of the firefighters, it is all lip service.


WTU’s Tentative Agreement: A Thousand Ways to Fire DC Teachers
Candi Peterson,

Given that DC public schools excessed approximately six hundred plus teachers last school year, there is reason to believe as many DC teachers will be excessed in June 2010 due to impending school system budget cuts and the school restructuring slated to take place. According to the Washington Teachers’ Union Tentative Agreement (TA), by definition “excess is an elimination of a teacher’s position at a particular school due to a decline in student enrollment, a reduction in the local school budget, a closing or consolidation, a restructuring or a change in the local school program when such an elimination is not a reduction in force (RIF) or abolishment” (page 5 of the TA). Should DC teachers be excessed under the proposed agreement, there is a great likelihood that excessing would lead to termination, as there would no longer be a requirement for placement according to system seniority.

Rather than have the central office place teachers into existing teacher vacancies, principals would now be able to hand pick who they want (a.k.a. mutual consent) under the WTU Tentative Agreement negotiated by WTU President and chief negotiator George Parker and AFT President Randi Weingarten. “NYC Educator,” a NY public school teacher turned blogger wrote that mutual consent “is a misleading term. What it actually indicates is that principals get a veto on any incoming transfers.” In WTU’s TA, mutual consent means no teacher shall be placed without the teacher’s and supervisor’s consent (page 27). Mutual consent has been negotiated in other teacher union contracts in places like New York where Randi Weingarten, now AFT President, negotiated this clause as the former United Federation of Teachers Union (UFT) president. Many New York public school teachers believe that the mutual consent provision led to the explosion of what is now known as the absent teacher reserves (ATR) in their state. In New York, teachers are part of an pool of teachers and continue to draw salaries while awaiting job placement. Some work as substitutes while others seek employment opportunities daily as they wait to be hired. This has led to thousands of extra teachers being paid and has contributed to an eighty-one million dollar growing debt.

So it seems that teachers and related school personnel in DC could suffer an even worse fate than our New York counterparts. While the WTU TA does not specifically address the absent teacher reserves like in New York, it does suggest that eligible permanent teachers with effective or higher ratings have the option of being placed into what amounts to a teacher reserve for one year if they cannot find a mutual consent placement. For all other teachers, the WTU TA implies that probationary teachers regardless of annual performance ratings, teachers who opt in for individual performance based pay regardless of annual performance ratings and permanent teachers with less than effective ratings will be terminated within a two-month time frame if they cannot find a mutual consent placement after excessing. 

Permanent teachers with an effective rating or higher will face a number of obstacles in securing the three options available to them under this agreement if they are excessed. While they can select a $25,000 buy out or an early retirement with twenty years or more of creditable service, the catch is these options would be subject to government and budgetary approval. The Tentative Agreement clearly states in Article 40, on page 103, that, “Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as a promise that Congress, the DC Council, or any other organization shall appropriate sufficient funds to meet the obligations set forth in this Agreement.”

In addition, should eligible teachers select to work an additional year, they must make a substantial effort to interview at a minimum of five schools or interview for all vacant positions for which they are qualified if the total number is less than five. Teachers assigned the one year extension would be assigned in one or more capacities to include one on one tutoring, small group instruction, class coverage, long term teacher replacement or central office support. If at the end of the calendar year, teachers had not secured a mutual consent placement, they would be terminated as well.

The WTU Tentative Agreement includes undisclosed side letters that were crafted in part by mediator Kurt Schmoke. Washington Teachers’ Union members, as well as the DC city council and DC residents, must demand that these written documents be made readily available for review. Although it has been previously promised to them, WTU members are still awaiting receipt of the WTU Tentative Agreement in the mail. I strongly encourage all WTU members to read the 103-page Tentative Agreement in its entirety and request a written legal opinion from our WTU Legal Counsel, Lee W. Jackson of O’Donnell, Schwartz and Anderson. As always the devil is in the details.


The National Zoo and Ward One
Jack McKay,

The National Zoo considers itself a Connecticut Avenue, Ward Three institution, when it bothers to think about the District at all. Yes, there is a back entrance, accessible from Beach Drive and from Harvard Street. But for years the Zoo has regularly closed those gates, shutting out people from the “east side,” without warning to those of us who actually live here and might want to get into the Zoo via this “servant’s entrance.” Well, now the Harvard Street gate is closed 24/7, as work is being done on the bridge over Beach Drive. So, what are people on this side of the Zoo to do for access to the Zoo, to the Rock Creek Park bike path, and to Beach Drive? Um, too bad for y’all, come back when that construction job on the bridge is finished.

But surprise, there are people here who would actually like to get to and from the Zoo from this east side. There wasn’t a lot of this when the weather was cold, but the arrival of warm weather has brought out a lot of would-be Zoo visitors from Ward One and points east. How to get there, with the Harvard Street bridge closed? Well, we can hike down the Beach Drive exit ramp, climb down the slope to Beach Drive, then make a dash across Beach Drive traffic to get to the Beach Drive gate. Well, the Zoo didn’t like that. Messed up what little grass manages to grow on that steep slope. So they put up a snow fence (in April?) specifically to keep people from climbing up and down that slope. That’s their priority: save the grass.

So people have been hiking on down the Beach Drive exit ramp to its end, then dashing across Beach Drive, and walking up the bike path to the Beach Drive gate. Works, though seeing baby strollers being pushed across oncoming Beach Drive traffic is unnerving. Well, the Zoo didn’t like that, either. So they closed the Beach Drive gate, thereby eliminating all access from shabby old Ward One. We’re supposed to make our ways all the way around the Zoo to Connecticut Avenue. It’s said that there’s a Zoo shuttle offered that will take visitors “between Harvard Street and the Rock Creek entrance of the Zoo.” I’ve yet to lay eyes on this apocryphal shuttle, and I’ve been doing this Beach Drive cross-traffic dash twice a day for many weeks. The good news is that drivers speeding along Beach Drive have noticed the flocks of pedestrians attempting the dash across that busy road, and have begun voluntarily stopping to let people cross. They’ve got more consideration for people than the Zoo has shown. Surely somebody should have anticipated that closing the Harvard Street entrance was going to cause some difficulty for people coming from the east side of the Zoo. Telling pedestrians and bicyclists to go around to the Connecticut Avenue entrance is not a reasonable option.

Imagine, for a moment, that the Zoo had to close that Connecticut Avenue entrance. Would they just close it, and tell people to somehow make their way around to the backside of the Zoo? Or would they have anticipated the problem, and worked out some alternative means of pedestrian access, for those folks from the high-rent neighborhoods? D’ya think?


Security or Unlawful Detention at the Wilson Building
Mary Williams,

It’s been quite a long time since I was threatened with arrest for “disorderly conduct” for simply asserting my right as a citizen, and I certainly didn’t expect that it would happen in city hall. But after stopping by the Wilson Building last Wednesday evening to speak to a few councilmembers who were still at work, and watching Deputy Chief Diane Grooms drive up as I walked by, that’s exactly what happened when I crossed the contract security guard. After presenting my valid DC drivers’ license to him, and then signing the visitors booklet at the D Street entrance at about 6:30 p.m., a security guard demanded that I tell him why I was there. When I told him that I was going to speak to my councilmember, he then demanded that I tell him which one and what it was that I wanted to talk to them about, before he would allow me to go through the magnetometer. He actually shouted that I was not going anywhere until I disclosed the information. Quite frankly, I was a bit shocked, but quickly responded that I didn’t have to tell him anything to gain entrance to a building where public hearings and meetings were being held, and that I wanted to speak to my councilmembers.

Even that was not enough. He then demanded that I tell him which one, and whether I had an appointment, claiming that he had a list of all the hearings and meetings scheduled after hours. I hesitated. Under the cloak of security, I realized that this guy was screening visitors. I couldn’t believe that all of this information was necessary for security, particularly since he couldn’t confirm that any of the other visitors were going to where they said they were headed, which was a public meeting on veteran affairs. I may have dropped in on that one but I did not have a schedule of hearings. I knew that many councilmembers I wanted to see were still there because their cars were parked outside. But I was actually blocked from exercising my right by this guard who became more belligerent when I told him that he could not arbitrarily question citizens about their business with the elected officials because no one had voted him in as the gatekeeper. I demanded to speak to his supervisor.

While waiting for more than twenty minutes for Lt. Lee of the DC Protective Services to arrive, several people attempted to intercede on my behalf, including City Administrator Neil Albert and Deputy Chief Diane Grooms, both of whom failed to convince this guard that it was OK for me to enter. Ironically, this same guard made a big deal of waving through the deputy police chief and her colleagues without the usual sign in and proof of identification required of other employees and citizens because “they are in uniform.” So, if you want to breach this high-tech Gestapo security guard, just be sure that you are wearing a uniform. And if I thought that his supervisor was going to put an end to this absurd abuse of power, I was mistaken. Standing there, I was an obvious threat to the entire Wilson Building. One would have thought that I was stopped carrying a weapon or was on the National Security Hit List. It made me wonder when five Protective Services cars drove up and officers were seen rushing up the steps. The subsequent conversations didn’t go any better with Lt. Lee or a Sgt. Harris, who was standing off to the side with an irritated look on his face and urging the officers to arrest me for disorderly conduct. When asked how my standing there was disorderly conduct, he said that I had been asked to leave the building twice and refused to comply. This was a standoff, and no one had told me to leave the building. He told me that I couldn’t go further into the building until I told him the information. I refused. They then decided to call Vincent Gray, who wasn’t in. But if Neil Albert and Diane Grooms weren’t enough to vouch for me, I didn’t think that any councilmember would suffice. I left the building after another ten minutes because I was tired after a long day at work and there was nothing urgent that I needed to say to either of the remaining councilmembers. So much for citizen input in the government process. If I weren’t so tired, I would have waited until they called the mayor and every councilmember. Law-abiding residents should not have to answer to overzealous security guards. Having told a few people about my encounter last week, several people have complained about this very same guard. I will file a complaint. I hope that others who have had similar encounters do the same. Let’s not allow this to continue to happen in city hall. If the elected officials are being threatened, then let them screen for the actual suspects. Join me in encouraging the council to contract with a company that knows how to deal with the public.


Direct River Funds to the River
Samuel Jordan, The START Coalition,

The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009 (ARCUP) authorized a five-cent fee on plastic bags used to carry purchases from specified retail outlets in the city. The funds generated by the fee were intended for use in river clean up, protection, and restoration activities and community engagement programs promoting an improved river ecology. The mayor’s proposed “gap-closing” budget measures for 2010 seek to fund the entire three-million dollar Department of Public Works (DPW) mechanical street sweeper program with monies collected in the ARCUP and Stormwater Funds. For FY 2011, the proposal includes a $2.6 million transfer from the river funds. Transferring these funds from DDOE to DPW is contrary to the legislative intent of the ARCUP act. Moreover, the monies will be used not only for the streets along or near the Anacostia, but for city-wide street-cleaning operations — thereby stretching the “river impact” rationale.

There is another problem with the proposed unauthorized transfers. The ARCUP fund collected “only” $150,000 in the month of January. Since the bag fee will lead to the modification of the shopping behaviors of retail customers by encouraging the use of reusable bags, the fee can be said to be “self-extinguishing.” The January total may therefore, be near the peak of monthly receipts. Accordingly, the fee will not generate projected revenues of ten million dollars in four years. Consequently, there is little likelihood that the ARCUP and Stormwater funds will generate the sufficient “gap-closing“ three million dollars in 2010 or $2.6 million in 2011.

The fate of a declining level of receipts from the bag fee should have underscored the presence in the legislation of three additional sources of revenue. These funds are voluntary and are authorized by what are called the Save The Anacostia River Trust and License Tag Program or START amendments. They derive monies from: ) a new license tag; 2) a check-off box on the DC income tax form: and 3) donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and testamentary gifts. Unfortunately, the START program has not been well promoted. Supporters of the START program also sought to make the ARCUP fund, with its START donations, independent of city government. Advocates of independence feared political interference in the allocation of the funds or manipulation of the budget process, resulting in diversion of the funds to other city expenditures. Call the mayor and your councilmember. Demand that river funds be dedicated to the river.


No Gray Area for Gray’s Unethical Behavior
Paul D. Craney, DC Republican Committee,

The DC Office of Campaign Finance (DCOCF) recently concluded that Chairman Vincent Gray is clear of wrongdoing in regard to the letter he sent from his council office, using council letterhead, to Comcast soliciting a political contribution to the DC Democratic State Committee. However, if you look closely at what Chairman Gray said leading up to the DCOCF’s conclusion, you will see that he admitted what he did is wrong and regretted doing it.

Chairman Vincent Gray claimed that because he is the council chairman, one of his official duties is to promote voting rights. The bottom line is that there is no way you can say a solicitation of a political contribution on government stationary to a political party is part of the duties of the council chairman. Chairman Gray is using DC voting rights as a scapegoat to clean up the mess he made for himself. If you are a member of Congress and are sitting on the fence about supporting voting rights, Gray’s response will not help.

From this point on, our elected officials will use this as an example to legally use their council offices, staff, and resources to solicit campaign contributions for themselves, their peers, and their party. We have this problem time after time because our elected officials, include Chairman Gray, refuse to create a bipartisan ethics committee. The DCOCF and the DC Board of Elections and Ethics are not an independent bipartisan ethics committee. Until District residents vote by replacing the incumbents who turn a blind eye and a political party that fosters this type of unethical behavior, we will continue to have relapses of this type of behavior.


April InTowner Now Online
P.L. Wolff,

This is to advise that the April 2010 online edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items, ABC Board action reports, 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 that presently covers the period through March 14 will be updated later on, 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 front page image graphic. 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 May 14 (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) “New Use for Historic Franklin School Building of Concern to Large Numbers of DC Residents”; 2) “Artists Studios Anchor Shaw’s East End — Annual Open House Set”; and 3) “New Public Art Comes to 5th and K.”


Anti-Gay Marriage Diehards Keep Losing
Rick Rosendall,

On April 4, Gary Imhoff rightly noted Valencia Mohammed’s nasty, narrow, and ahistorical attacks on behalf of mayoral candidate Leo Alexander, yet Gary himself could not resist showing his own bias when he wrote that Vincent Gray “has shared Fenty’s contempt for traditional morality, and has echoed Fenty’s opposition to allowing citizens to vote on the definition of marriage.” By “traditional morality” might Gary be referring to couples sealing their commitment to one another with a public, legal contract? Recognizing that love is what makes a family? Respecting other people’s differences in a diverse city? Acknowledging that children are better off when their parents are legally married, that many same-sex couples are raising children, and that this has been the law since a court ruling in 1995? Embracing the Founders’ assertion that all men are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

If Gary is talking instead about a more negative tradition of intolerance against gay people, I would point out that in the 19th century, many ministers of God cited Scripture in support of the tradition of slavery. No, the two struggles are not the same, but intolerance and discrimination are ugly in either case. God gave us brains and voices with which to question traditions that are unjust and exclusionary. People have created civil government, and in America we have the constitutional separation of church and state (as Thomas Jefferson put it in describing the First Amendment), so that religious doctrines may not be used by adherents of one sect to oppress others. Gary may have noticed the thundering silence of most of our city’s clergy in response to the demagoguery of carpet bagging Bishop Harry Jackson; apparently, they want no part of Jackson’s mischief. The fact is that neither Harry Jackson nor Gary Imhoff has a monopoly on morality, and numerous polls show that a majority of Washingtonians disagrees with them on the legal question.

Valencia’s campaign-mode confidence reminds me of past flacks sneering at the poor boobs who failed to see the inevitability of their candidate’s victory. If she thinks that insulting large swaths of the electorate will help her candidate, I say good luck. We’ll see how well that works for her. 

Valencia on April 4 wrote about a “revolution” that’s going to sweep her candidate into office; then on April 7 she referred to gay protesters outside Scripture Cathedral as “rebels.” I am not sure that this is a good time to be pushing war metaphors, but leave that aside. Also leave aside the fact that, whatever obscenities some gay demonstrators may have used in a protest outside that church, they could hardly have been worse than the anti-gay vitriol coming from that church’s pulpit, which Valencia entirely ignores; and the vast majority of gay citizens were not at those demonstrations. The term “rebels,” to the extent that Valencia has in mind the gay population generally, hardly seems apt given the pro-gay side’s overwhelming victory on the marriage-equality bill — a victory not won by rebellion but by decades of working within the system. We won despite a great deal of vitriol and fear-mongering from some anti-gay pastors and their acolytes, a substantial number of whom are from Ward 9. On the pro-gay side were two hundred clergy who (perhaps radically, from Valencia’s point of view) preach respect for all of our families.

Valencia’s denial of political reality on this is something she shares with Gary, who continues pounding away with his insistence that the people have been denied a say on marriage. Ward 5 ANC commissioner Bob King recently announced, along with Bishop Harry Jackson, a campaign to defeat Mayor Fenty and the eleven councilmembers who supported the marriage equality bill. Leo Alexander is just their cup of tea. We get a hint of the unreality involved when Valencia states that she has no use for either Jack Evans or Kwame Brown as council chair. She must be similarly frustrated by the Democratic at-large council race, in which Phil Mendelson is challenged by the openly gay Clark Ray. With these as the leading alternatives, where will Valencia’s revolution come from, other than her fevered imagination?

The people already have spoken, many times. We have a representative democracy, folks, and our legislature thirty-one years ago, under the leadership of Arrington Dixon, enacted a prohibition against ballot measures in which people would vote on other people’s rights. Congress has never challenged that prohibition. Local civil rights leaders, including veterans of Mississippi Freedom Summer like Lawrence Guyot and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, support that prohibition and support equal protection for all the families in our city. Those who disagree had the opportunity to lobby on the marriage bill, testify against it during two long days of hearings, and testify at several hearings before the Board of Elections and Ethics. They also have the right to vote in the next election, assuming they are registered to vote in DC, which many opponents of DC marriage equality are not.

Come September, after Valencia and her revolutionaries have failed to replace a single incumbent with an anti-gay candidate, will they continue talking as if the voters don’t know what they’re doing? It is no accident that our city consistently elects an overwhelmingly pro-gay legislature, or that anti-gay candidates consistently lose. Gay people have deep roots in this city. We are of many colors and faiths, and are found in every neighborhood. Those who continue to demonize us for political gain are well past the point where they should have done a post-mortem. They have not only underestimated gay rights advocates, they have underestimated the people of this city. The fact is that we won civil marriage equality in DC the old-fashioned way: we earned it.



Michel Martin, Race and Gender in the Age of Obama, April 13
Patricia Bitondo,

Emmy-winner Michel Martin now hosts Tell Me More, the one-hour daily news and talk show on National Public Radio. On Tuesday, April 13, she will speak at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, and give us her views on race and gender in the age of President Obama. She joined NPR in 2006 after being a correspondent at ABC News on Nightline, Day One, This Week with George Stephanopoulos and Life 360. A former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter, she also was a panelist on Washington Week and a contributor to NOW with Bill Moyers.

The bar opens at 11:30 a.m., and lunch is at 12:15 p.m. Members, $25; nonmembers, $30; lecture only (no lunch) $10. Register at


DC Emancipation Day, April 16
Glenda Richmond,

DC Emancipation Day commemoration, rally, and march to honor the ancestors and to advocate for DC statehood. Rally at 11:00 a.m. at Franklin Square, 13th and I Streets, NW. March at 12:30 p.m. to the DC Historical Society, 9th and K Streets, NW. Celebrate the history of DC compensated emancipation and learn about the first freed. Speakers, exhibits, parade, wreath laying, lectures, essay contest, singing, reenactments, poetry, jazz, films, forums, and more. For a full listing of events, view the DC government calendar at,a,1207,q,645466.asp. For more information, contact the friends of DC Emancipation Day at, 232-2500, or 635-9337.


Girl Scout Day at the National Building Museum, April 17
Johanna Weber,

April 17, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Join the National Building Museum for this activity day designed especially for Girl Scouts. Explore the world we build for ourselves and how we can make it green! Visit for a full description of the day’s activities and to register. $12 for scouts, $5 for non-scouts. Prepaid registration required. Recommended for children ages six and up. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station.


Teen Dating Violence and Digital Abuse, April 20
Katie Kraft, DC Women’s Agenda, Wider Opportunities for Women,

Come learn about unhealthy relationships and digital abuse at the DC Women’s Agenda lunch and learn. Tabitha Joyner, Education and Outreach Coordinator from Break the Cycle, will provide training and up-to-date information to students, parents, service providers, and advocates on how to identify teen dating violence and how to get help. Tuesday, April 20, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Anacostia High School, 1601 16th Street, SE. Please RSVP to Katie Kraft at or call 464-1596, ext. 117, by Thursday, April 15. Sponsored by the DC Women’s Agenda, and



The Kibera School for Girls
Alix Haber,

My name is Alix Haber. I grew up in DC and attended public school from Janney Elementary all the way through Wilson High School. I now attend Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and spent last semester studying in Kenya. I was able to spend a great deal of time in Kibera, Kenya, the largest slum in Africa and a place ridden with concentrated poverty, poor sanitation, and little formal schooling. This lack of education is especially damaging to girls whose families are often unable or reluctant to make their daughters’ education a priority. I want to tell you about the Wesleyan Friends of Africa, a student organization I’ve gotten involved with that is partnered with Shining Hope for Communities. Along with other Wesleyan students, sophomore Kennedy Odede founded Shining Hope for Communities and The Kibera School for Girls. The Kibera School for Girls is the only free school for girls in Kibera. Currently we have 45 students enrolled, and our goal is to connect each student with a sponsor. At only $30 a month (or $40 for an HIV-positive student), you will be able to foster a relationship through letters with a little girl from Kibera and pay for her schooling, health care, daily nourishment, clothes, and more. Please consider sponsoring a child and becoming a mentor for a girl in need. For more information, you can E-mail me at or visit the web site at


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