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May 23, 2010

Elected and Dangerous

Dear Protesters:

Gabe Goldberg, below, accuses me again of being mean and vicious. Some elected officials in town think that getting elected gives them the wisdom, the power, and worst of all the right to regulate the smallest details of what laughingly used to be called our private lives — including our diets. They want to become our uninvited personal dietitians, to determine what we can and cannot eat and drink (for our own good, of course), and Gabe is worried that I may hurt their feelings by calling them “the food police.” Geez, you’d think they would take it as a compliment.

Here’s how mean I am: I’m going to fight back with my own protest. Before sugar and sweet desserts are made illegal, here’s another sorbet recipe, for kiwi-lime sorbet. Make a simple syrup with a third cup of sugar, a half cup of water, and the grated rind of one lime, then cool the syrup. Peel and chop four kiwis. Juice the lime. Blend the simple syrup, the kiwis, and the lime juice until they are smooth, freeze them in an ice cream maker; and put the finished sorbet in a freezer to harden. For a refreshing summer drink with the same ingredients (from, blend two peeled and chopped kiwis with the juice from one lime and four tablespoons of rich simple syrup (made with two cups of sugar to one cup of water). Divide it between two tall glasses, add cracked ice, fill the glasses with club soda, and stir. For an even more refreshing variant, if you won’t tell anybody I suggested it, add vodka or gin.


On May 9, I wrote in themail about the need for some moderates or even conservatives in DC politics to temper the heated strain of progressivism that is turning DC politics into what Councilmember Jim Graham celebrates as “more liberal than West Hollywood.” In the past week, both Washington Post reporter Tim Craig, and columnist Colbert King,, have explored what it means when the dominant political force of this city changes from a liberalism that focused on poverty and economic issues to a progressivism that focuses on bike lanes and social style.


On May 20, the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives issued a highly critical report on the response in 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to elevated levels of lead in DC drinking water. If you’ve been following the press stories on this report, you may want to read it: “A Public Health Tragedy: How Flawed CDC Data and Faulty Assumptions Endangered Children’s Health in the Nation’s Capital,” If you’re interest in the background, see the extensive materials linked from

Gary Imhoff


Ward 7 Resident Attacked by Gray Supporters
Valencia Mohammed,

I spoke with a longtime Ward 7 resident who alleged she was thrown out of a campaign meeting for Vince Gray because she dared to question his stance on same sex marriage. According to the resident, the volunteers first verbally attacked her in the basement of Trinity Church. She demanded the discussion occur outside the church because the volunteers showed no respect by shouting loud remarks at her.

When the woman went outside, she found herself surrounded by a pack of wolves who continued to taunt her because she stood firm on her Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and that Gray should denounce his actions to legalize same sex marriage. Overwhelmed, she left and vowed never to return. “I thought I could overlook the fact that Gray did not give the citizens the right to vote on same sex marriage, get him to change his mind and support him. But it won’t work,” she said. The woman has joined Leo Alexander’s campaign because he is a righteous man.


Street Cars
Lou Glorie,

Commenting from afar is always risky, but I’d like to add my few cents to this discourse. Street cars and other forms of cha-chas are nice, but the infrastructure investments and the fact that riders cannot pay for the system causes me to say, “Wait!” My reason is that these sorts of grand projects should be funded by regional and federal agencies rather than municipalities. These are the kinds of projects that can break a city and are often done for the wrong reasons. Saying we should spend a billion on a trolley system because we used to ride them back in ’62 isn’t logical. Also, the fact that the buses are dirty neglects the fact that trolleys run on some kind of power — there is no such thing as clean energy at this point. The power generated to run an electric system comes from somewhere and generates waste, filth, and sometimes — as in the case of mine accidents — tragedy.

The problems with the bus systems can be fixed. Hybrid buses are a good interim investment. Also, the buses’ flexibility is a plus. Let’s assume that with oil production peaking, we will have more people riding public transit. Why not wait to see where the demand is in twenty years? This question gets to the heart of the matter, because what is happening today is that developers have now turned their gaze toward the cities that they’d once abandoned. TOD stands for Transit Oriented Development. Instead of waiting to see where people settle, the developers and their friends in government want to determine where people will live by laying the lines of trolleys and light rail along the corridors where they want to see future development.

The worst thing about this new boondoggle is that the poor will be the ones to suffer most. Look to LA to see what happens to “public transit” when a city spends money on moving the affluent to and fro. The bus lines that served the workers of Los Angeles have been shut down to allow the city to keep the rail system going. As I said, I love choo-choos. I used to live across the street from an SNCF station in France. But this is not the time for DC or any city to be spending this kind of money on rails. It is time to upgrade the smelly, inefficient bus lines.


Vic Miller,

The benefits of fixed rail primarily accrue to those with property ownership alongside. Thus, the primary beneficiaries of a streetcar line along H street would be those who own the storefronts on H street and the Hechinger Mall.

It would be one more transfer of wealth from the taxpaying citizens of the city to the segments of the real estate industry that are favored by Councilmember Evans and his colleagues. And, yes, our taxes would have to go again up to pay for it.

It is extraordinary how much blood Mr. Evans can squeeze from a stone.


Speaking of Making Healthy Food Appetizing
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

Designers create video games to teach kids about healthy diets, “Alec Fisher-Lasky and Kurtis Smith sat behind a Toshiba laptop and a 22-inch drawing slate Saturday trying to jolt a vast virtual dinner table to life. The goal was to help end childhood obesity. With a faint techno soundtrack humming in a George Mason University computer lab, this was their vision: Yous’re a small dude, soaring above the table. You’re banking and diving and veering out of the way of the doughnuts and pizza slices like any good superhero might. Then you run right into the broccoli. ‘Ideally, instead of flying around, we’d like you to be running, to get the idea of activity, but with 48 hours, flying is easier to do because you don’t have to do the animation,” said Fisher-Lasky, 24, a Mason game-design student. The player has to hit a daily recommended calorie count.’”


Decorum in themail
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

I’ll again violate the modern version of Mark Twain’s famous advice, “Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel” — which I’d phrase as, “Don’t argue online with the man who edits your local E-newsletter.”

Gary accuses me of being humorless by citing his ribbing the kale and garlic cauliflower school lunch — which I didn’t mention, which I don’t object to, and which is indeed faintly funny, though hardly guffaw worthy — but doesn’t mention his actual nasty language I cited: food police, hair shirt nutritionalism, anti-pleasure cult. And he uses a genuinely funny — though a bit long in tooth — New Yorker cartoon to dismiss my call for mutual respect between himself and readers/contributors.

I’ll briefly repeat: must editor Gary demonize people and opinions with whom he disagrees? Strident language hardly respects people (readers of themail, public figures, etc.) who hold opinions he mocks. Even worse, it undermines — doesn’t support — his positions and arguments, and doesn’t lead to useful discussion.


Bravo Dave Mallof
Nick Kauffman, Palisades DC,

Dave Mallof on “Covering DC’s Budget Crisis” [themail, May 19] — bravo! Mallof for elected Comptroller of the District of Columbia! I can’t wait to send in my campaign contribution.



National Building Museum Events, May 26-27
Johanna Weber,

May 26, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Smart Growth. Climate Change and the Developing World: World Bank’s World Development Report 2010. Marianne Fay, chief economist of the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Network and co-director of the Development Report, relates the struggle to identify appropriate and cost-effective means to mitigate and plan for climate change in developing countries. Free; registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.

May 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Parking Is Not Free. Donald Shoup, professor of Urban Planning at UCLA and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, puts parking garages in the context of parking policies in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and shows how we can design our cities for people, not cars. $12 members, free students, $20 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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