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April 21, 2010


Dear Kind Readers:

Readers of themail are the nicest people in town. I know that’s true because I made a stupid error in the last issue of themail. I wrote about the DC Voting Rights Act, and I said that the bill had a nonseverability clause, which would invalidate the entire bill if any part of it were found to be unconstitutional. Well, there is such a clause, but it doesn’t apply to the bill as a whole. Section 212, in Title II of the bill, had a separate severability provision. This meant that if the first Title of the bill, which gave the DC delegate to Congress a floor vote in the House of Representatives, were to be found unconstitutional, the second Title would still restore full Second Amendment rights to citizens of the District who were being denied them by their local government. What makes themail’s readers so nice is that not one of the people who corrected me on this issue called me stupid or ignorant, or any other derogatory name. To give them credit, they were Timothy Cooper,; Elizabeth Weiner,; David Vzvenyach,; and Martin Austermuhle, To the many other people who must have been aware of my mistake and were too kind even to bring it to my attention, my thanks also.

In any case, in the last week, the prospect of DC citizens’ rights being guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the constitution so enraged District elected officials that they demanded that the bill as a whole be withdrawn. Nearly all councilmembers issued statements stressing their fear of how dangerous the residents of DC would be if they were allowed to have the same rights as other Americans.


Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the “National Popular Vote Interstate Agreement Act” ( yesterday, and already has the majority of the city council as sponsors and cosponsors. The purpose of the bill is to undermine the electoral college by creating an interstate agreement under which states will agree to cast their electoral votes for the candidate who wins the national popular vote for president, rather than for the candidates who win the popular votes in their individual states. States are passing bills individually, and the bills are all supposed to go into effect when states that have a total of 270 electoral votes have passed them. I actually hope this bill passes, because I can’t wait for the next time that a Republican president is elected, and Cheh and her other cosponsors have to explain to the public why DC is casting its electoral votes for a Republican rather than for the Democratic candidate who will undoubtedly have won 90 percent of the DC vote.

Gary Imhoff


Clyde Howard

Now that Councilmember Michael Brown has oversight authority of the Taxicab Commission, it is time that he does something with it. He can start by withdrawing the Ward stickers allowing taxicabs to park in your neighborhood. Then these cabs be relegated to what they are actually are, commercial vehicles for hire and not vehicles for personnel use. This would stop taxicabs from being motor pooled in your neighborhood by fly-by-night cab companies and by individual owners and would establish a true line of control by the Taxicab Commission without interference by outside interests.


DCFPI Releases FY 2011 Budget Toolkit
Ed Lazere, DC Fiscal Policy Institute,

Mayor Fenty released his Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal earlier this month — and now the DC Fiscal Policy Institute helps you interpret the documents with the release of our FY 2011 budget toolkit, Want to understand how Mayor Fenty proposes to close the $500 million budget gap? Curious where the major cuts are in each agency? Interested in how the city’s safety net is impacted, and whether there are cuts to programs such as child care or affordable housing? Find answers to those questions in the DCFPI FY2011 budget toolkit.

Our budget toolkit is a handy guide to the proposed FY2011 budget: what has been cut, what has been enhanced, and how you can be involved in the budget process. The toolkit includes analyses of key budget and tax issues from DCFPI and links to important budget-related documents, including the schedule of DC council budget hearings. A spreadsheet showing year-to-year funding changes for DC agencies will be added soon. We’ll continue to update our analyses as we move through the budget process.


DC Vote Supports DC VRA Withdrawal
Alexandra Ludmer,

On April 20, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) decided that she no longer plans to bring the DC House Voting Rights Act to the floor of the House of Representatives this Thursday. We support Del. Norton in her decision. For more than a decade, DC Vote has united organizations and DC citizens in the pursuit of Congressional voting rights in the nation’s capital. This was the most promising opportunity in a generation to achieve our goal. Del. Norton worked tirelessly to reach a compromise with the National Rifle Association, but this week not only did the NRA not compromise, they pushed too far and demanded that numerous additions be made to the Ensign Amendment that would be attached to the DC VRA. These additions are beyond the pale and would also make eventual passage of the bill in the Senate nearly impossible.

President Obama, Mayor Fenty, a majority of the DC city council, DC Vote and numerous members of our coalition agreed when Del. Norton made the choice to move forward with the DC VRA. Nonetheless, we were all concerned about divisions in the District and within our coalition around the gun amendment. We hope we will be unified once again in opposition to the gun amendment when it comes up for a vote. DC Vote believes the gun amendment is a prime example of why we need voting rights in DC — to prevent intrusions such as this. Just last week, we led the fight against the gun amendment by lobbying House Democrats and urging a “no” vote on the gun amendment and “yes” vote on the DC VRA. Unfortunately, the NRA has blocked us from attaining what District residents so greatly deserve.

DC Vote will continue to look for opportunities to pass the DC VRA. We are geared up to fight against the NRA and other pro-gun advocates who continue to try to strip the District of its gun laws. DC residents will not back down. We will persist in our mission to realize voting rights, local autonomy, and statehood for DC.



A Perfect Mother’s Day Gift, April 24-25
Debby Hanrahan,

Do you need a great gift for Mother’s Day — one that will also benefit the library and reading enrichment programs at Ross Elementary School in Dupont Circle? You select a book from teachers’ wish lists of needed volumes, and in time for Mother’s Day we will send a letter to your mother telling her of the gift to the school in her honor. In the book you select, we will memorialize your donation by placing a bookplate with your name and your mother’s name (or the name of another loved one). Come to our booth this weekend (April 24-25) to select a book: on Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., outside the Safeway, 17th and Corcoran Streets, NW, and on Sunday, the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market, 20th and Q Streets, NW. Suggested donation is $25. All contributions to this seventh annual book-dedication event are 100 percent tax deductible and all proceeds go to purchase books. Cash or checks are accepted, with checks payable to Ross Elementary School PTA. For more information, please call 462-2054.


National Building Museum Events, April 28-29
Johanna Weber,

April 28, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Modernist Suburbia. Architect John Burns, FAIA, and landscape architect Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, discuss the history, growth, and influence of Hollin Hills, a Modernist suburban development in Northern Virginia built in the middle of the last century. National Building Museum curator Chrysanthe Broikos moderates. This program presented in collaboration with the Civic Association of Hollin Hills in celebration of the Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour on May 1. Visit for more information on the tour. $12 for museum or Civic Association of Hollin Hills members, $12 for students, $20 for nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.

April 29, 6:30-8:00 p.m., For the Greener Good: Sustainable Schools. Schools house the nation’s most precious resource, yet many expose children to off-gassing toxins, are built in far-flung locations, and lack sunlight, potentially contributing to vitamin D deficiencies. Discover why greener schools mean a brighter future for us all. $12 for members, free for students, $20 for nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at


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