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April 28, 2010

Guaranteed Job Rights

Dear Washingtonians:

The contract that Michelle Rhee negotiated with the Washington Teachers Union may not do much, if anything, to guarantee teachers’ jobs, but it secretly guaranteed Rhee’s job. Last month, the mayor had no idea where in his FY2011 budget the money was to fund the teachers’ raises in the contract. That’s when Rhee announced she had millions in surplus funds, which have since evaporated. Now the city is looking for thirty million dollars, more or less, to fill the gap between the cost of the contract and the $64.5 million that foundations have pledged to finance it. But good reporting by Bill Turque ( uncovered the commitment letters dated last month, but not revealed by Rhee, from the foundations to the DC Public Education Fund, and from the DC Public Education Fund to the Chancellor — and those letters say that the foundations “reserve the right to reconsider their support for this initiative if there is a material change in DCPS’ leadership.”

That’s guaranteed job security for Rhee, but it isn’t guaranteed funding for the contract, and Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi is obliged to say that he can’t certify the contract is funded, that the money is securely pledged. Therefore, the administration will have to come up with an additional $64.5 million if it wants to say the contract is securely funded. And it has to do it by Friday, when Rhee and Gandhi testify Of course, the Washington Post editorial board, as deep in the tank as it is for Rhee, would advise the city to take orders from the foundations, to write a long-term ironclad contract for Rhee, and take the money — but even they, while giving that advice, would realize that it would set a bad precedent.


I know I’m a sucker for taking the bait, but I’ll be brief. DC Vote, which seems to be trying to reinvent itself as an antigun rights organization, writes in this issue that, “We’ve asked [President Obama] to take a stand against the insane idea that Congress can impose its will whenever it wants against the residents of the nation’s capital.” Yeah, that crazy, insane idea that Congress can forbid the DC city government from denying constitutional rights to its citizens. DC Vote’s insistence that DC self-government gives it the right to nullify the authority of the federal government is one more good reason that DC voting rights is on a slow track, the very slowest track.

Gary Imhoff 


Lesser of Two Evils, Still Evil
Valencia Mohammed, 

While the success of the media to paint the current DC mayoral race as a two-man contest, intelligent voters view it quite differently. Adrian Fenty, the incumbent mayor, touts his accomplishments and avoids questions about corruption, overspending, increased taxes, and fees. Vincent Gray, council chair, is without a platform, and claims if elected as mayor he will do a better job of performing the goals and objectives of the current mayor. In other words, the chair promises to continue the accelerated gentrification of our city, allowing illegal immigrants to take sanctuary here, ignoring the discrimination of Washingtonians in the workforce, and overlooking corruption in the government.

On the street some people say that, between the mayor and chair, they are willing to vote for the lesser of two evils if not given other options. The chairman is considered the lesser. But why substitute one evil for another — it’s still evil. While campaigning for Leo Alexander for mayor in Georgetown, intelligent voters spoke candidly about their decision not to support either of the so-called front runners, the two evils. Surprisingly, many homeowners who have stood in long lines and waited hours or days for permits to build additions or make repairs to their homes, despised the fact the chairman sought to disregard city laws in the building of a fence on his property by a contractor that receives contracts from the government. The chairman also has been cited with alleged illegal activities by using official stationary to collect funds for a political party. One thing I’ve learned about white people in DC, they don’t want to be associated with corrupt black officials. Smart voters will not support evil in any form. It’s time for the media to open up the race and allow citizens to make a wise choice rather than live four more years in the stench of controversy.


DC Vote Responds to Proposed Legislation on DC Gun Control 
Alexandra Ludmer, 

Today [April 27] Senator McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Tester (D-MT) announced their plans to introduce legislation that would, among other things, repeal the DC Semiautomatic Ban, repeal DC’s storage law, absolve the ability for residential or commercial building owners in the District to prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms by tenants, allow DC residents to purchase guns in Maryland or Virginia and loosen DC’s firearm registration system.

The following statement from Ilir Zherka, DC Vote Executive Director, can be quoted in full or in part: “This legislation is a prime example of why we need voting rights in DC — to prevent intrusions such as this. After the DC Voting Rights Act was pulled from the House floor last week because of overreaching additions by the National Rifle Association to the Ensign Amendment, we became more resolved than ever to fight for the rights District residents so greatly deserve. We’ve called on President Obama to state publicly that he will veto any bill that contains or has a DC gun amendment attached to it. We’ve asked him to take a stand against the insane idea that Congress can impose its will whenever it wants against the residents of the nation’s capital.”


Budget Promises
Patrick Thibodeau, 

In regard to one of the questions posed by Bryce A. Suderow in the last edition [themail, April 25]: “What do people think of Fenty’s rerouting the money that was collected on buying plastic bags at a nickel a bag?”

At least Mayor Fenty is being, apparently, upfront in saying that the funds will be used to offset some public works spending. (I honestly thought that was the legislation’s goal from Day One.)

In approving and signing this legislation, the council and the mayor gave their word that this money would be used to help clean the Anacostia River. They have no choice but to follow through on it.



Ward 3 Democrats Committee Meeting, April 29
Tom Smith, 

As a reminder, the next meeting of the Committee is this Thursday, April 29, at 7:00 p.m. at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church. The special guest speaker is Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, a candidate for DC Council Chairman. As the chair of the DC Council Committee on Finance and Revenue, Jack will speak primarily about the budget challenges the city faces this year. Following Jack will be a panel to continue discussion on the budget with DC Council Budget Director Eric Goulet and DC Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Ed Lazere. Precinct 27 Delegate Ann Loikow will moderate. For more information about the program, please check out our web site at

For those of you who may not know, our web master is Precinct 9 Delegate Jeff Kraskin — optometrist by day and web master by night. We are grateful for all the time he spends in updating and keeping the site current. Please be sure to express your appreciation when you see him Thursday night.


Shaw First Saturday, May 1
Alexander M. Padro, 

Come out and be part of the first ever DC Main Streets First Saturdays promotion on Saturday, May 1. Shaw Main Streets’ events will be starting at the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW, at 12:00 p.m. It’s Preservation Month. Watch a performance by the Wong Chinese Lion Dancers, take a free pedicab tour of Shaw, and win prizes at the Shaw Architectural Treasure Hunt! See where history makers lived, worked, played, and prayed; and sample food and beverages from neighborhood businesses. Tour reservations required, so RSVP now! Treasure hunt forms available at the Historical Society of Washington, DC (

Wong Chinese Lion Dancers. The Chinese Lion is a mythological creature that represents strength, wisdom, and good luck and has the ability to drive away evil spirits. Come watch a performance of the Wong Chinese Lion Dancers, where a procession of musicians playing gongs and cymbals will be accompanied by a feathered, four-legged, carnival-like puppet lion swirling, spinning, and rearing up on its hind legs. This ancient ritual starts at 12:00 p.m. in front of the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW. Free.

Shaw Pedicab Tour. Ride in comfort with National Pedicabs ( for a tourguide-led tour of the neighborhood’s history, architecture, and upcoming development. See sites associated with Helen Hayes, ‘Duke’ Ellington, the Washington Senators baseball team, the labor movement, Black history, and much more. Visit an art-filled bed and breakfast in a former mortuary (, and sample wine (, award-winning red velvet and lemon minicupcakes (, delicious coffee and sandwiches (, and Ethiopian food ( Starts at 12:00 p.m. in front of the Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW. Duration: two hours. Free; reservations required. Call 265-shaw or E-mail

Shaw Architectural Treasure Hunt. Walk along 7th and 9th Streets, NW, around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center ( and look up to find architectural details on historic buildings in the area on the photo-illustrated treasure hunt form. Stop for free treats at neighborhood businesses along the way. Turn in completed forms and enter to win prizes from neighborhood businesses. Free. Starts at 12:00 p.m. at Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW. Forms available at information desk in Great Hall. Completed forms must be returned to HSWDC by 4:00 p.m. in order to be entered in drawing for prizes. Must be present to win. For more information, call 265-shaw or E-mail Sponsored by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development,


Military Family Appreciation Week, May 3
Keith Jarrell, 

I realize that many of you may have trouble getting out of the city to attend this event. But I want to extend an invitation to everyone in hopes that as many as possible will make every attempt to drive to Occoquan, twenty-five miles from DC and experience this event. Lt. Col. Maxwell was wounded in war, with a traumatic brain injury and an injury to his elbow. He, like many others, had to learn many things all over again. His story is remarkable and he now works to bring things to those wounded that need. More information is at the SemperMax web site,

For those who cannot make it but who want to donate, please let me know, and I will make it a point to pick up any items donated. If you want the list of needed items, E-mail me and I will forward the list.

Please join us on Monday, May 3, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m., at 301 Commerce Street Occoquan, VA, as the Pink Bicycle and Designing-Things kick off “Military Family Appreciation Week.” The week begins on May 2 and runs through Saturday, May 8. This event is all about gathering together to show our appreciation and support for our wounded soldiers and the agency that works tirelessly to bring some of the basic essential to recovering service man and woman in our area. Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell (Ret.) and his wife Shannon will join us to speak about their efforts and how each and every one of us can help.


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

At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at 

May 4, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Book of the Month: Taxi: A Book of City Words. Join us in the Building Zone for an interactive reading of Betsy Maestro's Taxi: A Book of City Words and take a city tour from the vantage point of a taxi cab. Readings at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Free drop-in program. Recommended for ages three to five.

May 4, 6:30-8:00 p.m., The Smart Growth Manual. Everyone is calling for smart growth, but what exactly is it? Urban planner Jeff Speck attempts to provide a quick, useful, and entertaining answer in this lecture celebrating his new book, The Smart Growth Manual, co-authored with Andres Duany. A book-signing follows the lecture. $12 members, free students, $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.

May 5, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Spotlight on Design: Pugh + Scarpa Architects: AIA Architecture Firm 2010. Hear Lawrence Scarpa, one of the founding principals of Santa Monica-based Pugh + Scarpa Architects, discuss the firm's sustainable and socially progressive work. The firm was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects 2010 Architecture Firm Award and two of the firm's projects were named AIA "Top Ten Green" buildings. $12 members, $12 students, $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.


Ward 5 Democrats Meeting, May 5
Deborah Royster,

The next monthly meeting of the Ward 4 Democrats will be held on Wednesday, May 5, at 7:00 p.m., at Emery Recreation Center, 5701 Georgia Avenue, NW. This meeting will feature a candidates forum for the at-large seat on the council of the District of Columbia, and all registered candidates have been invited to participate in this event, which will include brief statements by the candidates and questions from the audience. In addition, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser will provide her regular monthly update of key legislative and other community issues affecting Ward 4 citizens. The meeting will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us on May 5. If you would like to receive regular notice of monthly meetings, please join the Ward 4 Democrats listserv at:



Mother’s Day Cards
Karen Lee Sippel,

As Mother’s Day (May 9) quickly approaches, I have a suggestion for a quick and easy, but meaningful, gift that your readers can send to the mothers in their lives. Let Children’s Law Center do the hard work this Mother’s Day. You tell us where to send a card (guaranteed to arrive by Mother’s Day on May 9) and we’ll take care of the rest. Your donation will help us to place an abused child in a mother’s loving embrace. Send a card to your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, or friend! But hurry — the deadline to purchase to ensure on-time delivery is Monday, May 3! One card for $25; two cards for $35; three cards for $45, and four cards for $60. To view and purchase cards, visit For more information, contact Jessica Gelin,


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