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June 6, 2010

Tougher and Meaner

Dear Feisty Readers:

Tim Craig reviewed last Thursday’s mayoral candidates forum before three Ward 3 citizens organizations in Saturday’s Washington Post, implying that the win went to Mayor Fenty over Chairman Gray, “A Feistier Fenty Goes on Offensive Against Gray,” “Fenty’s style represented a departure from his 2006 campaign, when he avoided direct references to his opponents. But Fenty’s friends and advisers, increasingly alarmed at the direction of his campaign, have been urging him to fight back or risk losing. ‘I’m sure he’s hearing from a lot of people who are concerned,’ said Terry Lynch, a Fenty supporter and executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. ‘I think he is hearing, “Get tougher, get meaner and look at Gray’s vulnerabilities.”’”

If Lynch is right, and if Fenty’s advisors are telling him to get tougher and meaner, then Fenty needs to fire his advisors. Anyone who has had to deal with Fenty since he has assumed the office of mayor, whether on his staff, on the city council, or among the public, knows that he is tough and mean, and has 

had quite enough of that already. In fact, those may be the defining characteristics of his personality, and the aspects that are causing him the most difficulty in his reelection campaign. Getting even tougher and meaner than he already is will only accentuate his weakness.

Regardless, Craig’s article implies that Fenty’s personal attacks on Gray, and his attacks on Gray’s record as Director of Human Services under Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly nearly twenty years ago, were effective in the candidates’ forum. Judging by the audience’s reaction, that wasn’t the case, and the strategy misfired. In fact, the audience was surprisingly cold and detached toward Fenty in general, and in particular his attacks on Gray did not get receive any applause or enthusiastic response. Gray didn’t do much better with the audience, though some of his answers did get applause from the general audience, which is more than can be said for any of Fenty’s answers. (The only candidate who routinely got applause was Leo Alexander, whose cheering squad seated in the rear of the audience started clapping for his every response even before he finished answering the questions. However, the applause for Alexander didn’t spread beyond his claque of supporters.)

Fenty’s argument for the success of his term seems to boil down to bricks and mortar — to a list of construction projects, mostly recreation centers, school renovations, and library rebuildings, that were completed or begun during his term. Soon after the mayoral takeover of the school system, I said that the mayor would sell his management of the schools as a success by holding a photo opportunity every time a new window or a new air conditioner was installed in a classroom. That has proven to be Fenty’s governing strategy, not only with regard to the schools but with regard to the entire government. Build fast, spend more money than is actually available in the budget, and have a photo op (which Fenty bills as a press conference) to take credit for everything that is built. But the strategy has been to build and renovate government facilities quickly, with minimal advance planning, not only without community involvement but in the face of community opposition; and to build government facilities without any idea of how to finance or staff the programs that are supposed to take place in them. This election will test whether that strategy works, at least in the short run.


In the last issue, I asked whether you wanted campaign-related messages from candidates, their supporters, and their opponents to be put in a separate section of themail or left in the main section. Your reaction has been mixed, so I’m not going to make any changes now. But I’ll stress again that anyone who is associated officially or unofficially with a campaign or candidate and who writes to support or oppose candidates should make their relationship clear with every message.

Gary Imhoff


Open Government?
Dorothy Brizill,

At 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning, June 7, the council’s Government Operations Committee, chaired by Mary Cheh, is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Bill 18-777, the Open Government Act of 2010. Since its introduction by Cheh on April 26, however, the bill has been substantially rewritten by less-than-public working groups that she convened on May 6, 13, 20, and 27. The text of the revised Open Government Act, which will be the actual version of Bill 18-777 considered at the June 7 haring, is posed on Cheh’s personal web site,, and not on the council’s official web site.

According to a press release from Cheh’s office,, the Open Government Act is a “sweeping reform measure that will increase the accountability and transparency of the District government.” In addition to making significant changes in the District’s Freedom of Information Act, the legislation would also create an Open Government Office, “an independent agency to monitor the District’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, to assist the public and promote effective use of the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act, and to resolve disputes between agencies and requesters regarding access to government records.”

Cheh’s bill should not be confused with Bill 18-716, the Open Government Is Good Government Act of 2010, which Muriel Bowser introduced on March 16, and about which is wrote in themail on March 20 and 24. Cheh’s Government Operations Committee will hold a hearing on the Bowser bill on July 12.


Clean Sweep
Eric Woods,

The May 30 issue is more evidence that I am not alone in desiring to sweep clean the elected officials of the District. I am disgusted with all of them taking action to get reelected rather than doing what is fiscally responsible or best for the citizens. The Colby King piece was almost on target, but I can’t exempt Evans, who has wanted to give away everything in the name of corporate relocation, baseball stadiums, or real estate development.

Once again, the future of our city comes down to governance and fiscal soundness, and our present city council and mayor don’t get it. It bears repeating that we need a second elected body to bring some balance to the power wielded by a majority of seven in the council and some competitive threats to all elected officials. Nonetheless, the current council lacks the backbone to look into, and change, the laws that allow the mayor and chancellor to spend tax dollars as they deem fit with no accountability. The council lacks the will to make tough choices to prevent the mayor from raiding the rainy day fund and force the administration to truly make cuts below current levels instead of cuts that reduce the amount of a budgetary increase. Moreover, the mayor shrinks when facing his responsibility to lead the city fiscally, believing it is better to take money from the surplus established by Mayor Williams and also nickel and dime citizens with fee increases that may drive more people out of the city because those fees eventually will undermine the quality of life.

I hope the citizens scrutinize publicly each candidate running for office. I hope the primary and general election will serve as notice to anyone elected this year and in 2012 and beyond that the days of corruption, laziness, no accountability, and soft budgetary and programmatic oversight are over. We can change our system and shed our status as the stepchild of American citizenship.


No WTU Elections For You
Candi Peterson,

The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) is looking a bit iffy these days in terms of election preparedness, thanks to teachers’ union president George Parker. With less than three weeks to go until school is out, things just keep getting stickier. It seems that there will be no WTU elections for officers, not yet, if George Parker has his way. First the elections committee was bungled and AFT President Randi Weingarten had to intervene and oversee a secret ballot for the elections committee. After the elections committee was elected last week, I received a courtesy copy of a June 2 E-mail from the WTU Elections Committee Chairperson, Claudette Carson, since I am running as a candidate for the WTU General Vice President. Carson asserts that when the WTU Elections Committee asked union president George Parker to provide copies of the most current membership list, two most recent union dues report, and all nominating petitions for all elected positions submitted by April 30, George Parker refused to provide the necessary information so that the elections committee could proceed with union elections. Now that’s a way for Parker to stay in office.

Each week, until our union elections move forward as required by our WTU constitution, I plan to publish a roundup of the week’s big news related to “election bungles” courtesy of George Parker on The Washington Teacher blog. In the spirit of transparency, here is a copy of WTU Elections Committee Chairperson, Claudette Carson’s E-mail titled: President’s refusal to comply with WTU Elections Committee’s request for information: “President Parker, This letter verifies your denial of the WTU Elections Committee’s request for information and documents necessary to hold an election as required by the WTU Constitution and the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. For the record, the Elections Committee Chairperson Claudette Carson, and its members Thomas O’Rourke and Darlene Nelson, verbally requested said information after you refused to address the elections committee. General Vice President Saunders supplied you with the written notice of the Election Committee Chairperson election, including the document request and the Elections committee’s desire to speak with you immediately. Previously, you denied the same request when made via E-mail by General Vice President Saunders on our behalf allegedly for technical reasons. You asserted he did not have the right to ask. Prior to that, you denied the request of a former elections committee for the same material. Our committee, whose AFT supervised election was certified May 28, 2010, by the American Arbitration Association, is duly authorized and empowered by the WTU Constitution, Article VII and By-Laws Article VII (e).

“Your previous and current dilatory actions do not allow the WTU to have elections as required. Your refusal to comply with the Elections Committee, WTU Constitution, and law unilaterally could bring, if left unchecked, the Elections Committee’s work to a halt. Although the Election Committee has no legal questions of Lee Jackson, Esq., any pertinent information you believe he has, should be provided in writing immediately. The Elections Committee views your refusal as a violation of WTU By-Laws Article III, Section 3 (A, C, I, and K) among others. We are, therefore, forced to secure legal counsel to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities for what amounts to your serious misconduct. Sincerely, Claudette Carson, Chairperson, WTU Elections Committee”


Is Gray for Real?
Bryce Suderow,

Until now City Council Chairman Vincent Gray has run for mayor based on being a friend to the poor, an alternative to the heartless Mayor Adrian Fenty. But is Gray for real? We learned the answer the other day. In the early hours on Tuesday June 1, faced with a $500 million deficit, Gray cut $47 million from the H Street streetcar project. Yuppies and greenies from all over the city put pressure on Gray to change his mind, and he did. Only a few hours, later from the dais, Gray said the city could borrow enough to finish the street car program.

Gray did not restore the funds he had cut from social programs for his supposed constituency of poor people — disability assistance, emergency rental housing, and aid to the homeless.

For more on Gray’s slip-flop, I urge readers to turn to Harry Jaffe’s column in the DC Examiner of June 1,


Thanks, Gary
Elizabeth McIntire, Elizabeth at

Thank you for that sweet reminder of the origin of Memorial Day [themail, May 30]. You do know, no doubt, that General Logan was your neighbor by a century, at 13th and Clifton Streets, NW, and that he was the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 1874?

[An historical marker for Columbia Heights, available at, shows the mansion at 13th and Clifton Streets, NW, that was built by Ohio Senator John Sherman, who developed Columbia Heights as a subdivision. The mansion was successively lived in by Sherman, then General (and also Senator) John Logan, and then by William Jennings Bryan. — Gary Imhoff]


DC Democratic State Committee Certifies Ward One Election
Bill O’Field,

The DC Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) has certified the recent election of the officers of the Ward One Democrats. Those elected on May 15 were Bill O’Field as Chairperson, E. Gail Anderson Holness as Vice Chairperson, David Donaldson as Recording Secretary, Barbara Jean Johnson as Corresponding Secretary, and Lillian Perdomo as Treasurer.



Department of Parks and Recreation Events, June 9-13
John Stokes,

June 9, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Kenilworth-Parkside Recreation Center, 4300 Anacostia Avenue, NE. Annual Senior Picnic for ages 55 and up. The Annual Senior Picnic will provide food, fun, entertainment, and fellowship to District seniors. For more information, call Jennifer Hamilton at 664-7153.

June 11, 7:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m., Harry Thomas Recreation Center, 1743 Lincoln Road, NE. Citywide Teen Night Closing Program for ages thirteen through nineteen. Teen Night Program will provide food, fun, entertainment, and fellowship to District Teens. For more information, call Lou Hall, Jr., at 671-0451.

June 11, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., DC Center for Therapeutic Recreation, 3030 G Street, SE. Leisure Life Skills (LLS) Closing Program for adults with special needs. LLS participants will enjoy fun, games, and dancing. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call Rita Robinson, Recreation Therapist at 698-1794.

June 11, 12:00 p.m., Odyssey Cruise Ship, 600 Water Street, SW. Senior Luncheon Odyssey Cruise for ages 55 and up. Seniors will enjoy fun, food, and entertainment on the Odyssey Cruise Ship. For more information, call 664-7153.

June 11-12, 7:00 p.m., Ft. Stevens Recreation Center, 1327 Van Buren Street, NW. Young Ladies on the Rise Lock In/Sleepover for ages seven through thirteen. This is the third annual Young Ladies on the Rise (YLOR) Lock In at Fort Stevens. This program is for the YLOR members only, to come together and fellowship. For more information, call Nicole Carroll at 541-3754.

June 12, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Benning Stoddert Recreation Center, 100 Stoddert Place, SE. Family fun and fitness day for all ages. Join Benning Stoddert and Friends for health checks, arts and crafts, moon bounce, and so much more. For more information, call Richard Evans at 698-1873.

June 12-13, 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Charles Herbert Flowers High School, 10001 Ardwick Ardmore Road, Springdale, Maryland. AAU District Qualifier Meet for ages six through eighteen. First of many meets where athletes compete in track and field events that qualify an athlete for the 2010 AAU Olympic Games. In order to qualify for the National Qualifier, each athlete must compete and achieve a valid time or mark in their respective events. For more information, call Edgar Sams at 671-0314.


To Live or Die a Slave, June 12
George Williams,

Dolen Perkins-Valdez will discuss her debut novel Wench Saturday, June 12. 12:00 p.m., at the Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library. Perkins-Valdez explores the lives of four slaves serving as masters’ mistresses who meet when their owners vacation in Ohio. As they see free blacks and hear whispers of abolition, they each grapple with the choice of staying or running away. Saturday, June 12. 2:00 p.m., Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, 5625 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Free. To sign up, call 282-0021.


Local Author Tells of The Good Fight, June 12
George Williams;

Calvin Goddard Zon will read and discuss his book, The Good Fight That Didn’t End: Henry P. Goddard’s Accounts of Civil War and Peace, Saturday, June 12 at 2:00 p.m., in the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library’s first floor auditorium. Zon tells his great-grandfather’s story in the Union Army, Reconstruction, and beyond using letters, reports, and newspaper writings. A question and answer period, and a book signing and sale will follow the program. The Cleveland Park Library is located at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. For more information or to sign up, please call 282-3080.


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