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June 30, 2010

Fancy Footwork

Dear High Steppers:

On Sunday, Mayor Fenty performed the Hee-Haw with the go-go group The Junkyard Band, and there’s video at!, (Fenty starts walking to the stage at the 2:30 mark). City Desk also featured the video, It’s as good as that video from several years ago with Councilmembers Jack Evans and Jim Nathanson doing the Electric Slide. Does anyone still have a copy of that classic footage to immortalize on YouTube? If not, you can get a rough idea of what it was like from watching the Pillsbury Doughboy dancing the Electric Slide:

Fenty is also stepping up his campaign by involving, and using as campaign surrogates, city officials who occupy posts that have traditionally been nonpolitical and nonpartisan, at least in this city. Contumacious consigliore Peter Nickles used the attorney general’s position and the mayor’s campaign rhetoric to attack Council Chairman Vincent Gray when he appeared on Bruce DuPuyt’s NewsTalk program on Monday, Mike DeBonis discussed this appearance on his blog, and DeBonis’ and his commentators’Ź observations about Nickles’ behavior are both interesting, Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, after having earlier indicated her willingness to work in Mayor Fenty’s campaign,, started attacking Gray and talking up Fenty in her interview with WAMU’s Kavitha Cardoza today, (Hat tip to Bill Turque for catching the interview and making its implications plain,

Fenty’s other surrogate campaigner, The Washington Post, gave him an opportunity today to make up for his ducking out of a long-scheduled one-on-one debate on education with Gray, The debate had been arranged by the Young Education Professionals, DC, a group that is composed mostly of Rhee’s new hires in DCPS, and that is by-and-large sympathetic to Rhee and Fenty, Fenty’s snubbing of the organization on Monday evening gave Gray an opportunity to present his education agenda to them; he did well, gave thoughtful responses to very hard questions, and got a strongly positive reception.

I haven’t published an ice cream or sorbet recipe for several issues, so here’s an new, somewhat surprising one: banana sorbet. We had some bananas going — gone — soft, and had to use them right away. I found a few variants on a banana sorbet recipe that’s similar to most other fruit sorbets. Start with a cup of simple syrup (one cup water and one cup sugar, heated and stirred until the sugar dissolves, then cooled in the refrigerator), blend in about a cup of peeled bananas (I used four bananas, which was more than a cupful), freeze in an ice cream maker, and then harden in a freezer. This mixture expands in the ice cream maker, so that it makes about a quart and a half of sorbet. I prefer the version that adds a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to cut the sweetness. The version that adds a quarter cup of orange juice sounds good, too. I’m not sure about the version that add a pinch of salt, but if you like salt on other fruit, like melons, you may want to try it. What makes this sorbet surprising is that it doesn’t have a sorbet texture. It’s smooth and creamy, like an ice cream, so that it’s hard to believe it’s not a dairy dessert.

Gary Imhoff


Council Tables Elections Nominee
Dorothy Brizill,

On Tuesday, the mayor’s nomination of Mital Gandhi to a seat on the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) died. Councilmember Mary Cheh had gone to extraordinary lengths to have her Government Operations Committee vote to approve Gandhi’s nomination at a markup meeting on June 16. (She failed to give advance notice of the meeting to the general public and even to all committee members.) But at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, several councilmembers, especially Phil Mendelson, Jim Graham, and Harry Thomas, Jr., raised serious concerns about and objections to Gandhi’s nomination. Cheh herself described Gandhi as “not the perfect candidate.” As a result, the entire council, with the sole exception of Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, voted to table Gandhi’s nomination. Under District law, the council has ninety days to confirm a mayoral appointment. If a nomination is not approved within ninety days, it is deemed “disapproved without council action.” Gandhi was nominated by Mayor Fenty on March 25, and the ninety-day clock will run out before the next Committee of the Whole or legislative meeting of the council on July 13.

Gandhi joins a number of unqualified and/or inappropriate individuals whom Mayor Fenty has unsuccessfully tried to appoint to the BOEE since February 2009 (Hiram Brewton, Omar Nour, Mark Sommers). As I wrote in themail on May 12, “A critical review of Gandhi’s background raises serious concerns that he does not meet the qualifications for appointment to the BOEE that are detailed in the Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009: ‘When appointing a member of the Board, the Mayor and Council shall consider whether the individual possesses the integrity, independence, and public credibility and whether the individual has particular knowledge, training, or experience in government ethics or in elections law and procedure.” In a briefing paper I distributed to councilmembers on Monday and Tuesday, I urged the council to disapprove of Gandhi’s nomination for a host of reasons: 1) Gandhi will not be a fair and impartial member of the BOEE, 2) he submitted fraudulent signatures on his petition to be elected to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in 2006, 3) he has a poor attendance record as a member of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, 4) he had a poor attendance record as a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, 5) all scheduled BOEE meetings conflict with scheduled ABC meetings, 6) Gandhi was the subject of six lawsuits involving his failure to pay rent, and 7) he is active in partisan politics as an officer of the DC Republican Committee. My briefing paper is posted at

Footnote: on Thursday, July 1, at 10:30 a.m., in Room 500 of the Wilson Building, Mary Cheh’s Committee on Government Operations will hold a hearing “on the readiness of the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics for the September 2010 Primary Election.” Don’t look, however, for any probing questions to be asked by Cheh or for any important information to the forthcoming from the BOEE at the hearing. For the past year, Cheh has consistently put her head in the sand, done limited oversight, and ignored serious problems at the BOEE. For example, Cheh’s budget hearing for the agency on May 7 lasted only twenty minutes. She has consistently refused to consult with individuals in the District who have worked at BOEE or are otherwise knowledgeable about elections in the District. Instead, she has relied on a cadre of current and former law school students who scour the Internet for “new ideas” and innovative election procedure changes, and has then taken the input and advice of so-called election experts based in Wisconsin, North Carolina, New York, and Virginia.


Issues with Permits for Neighborhood Block Parties
Gigi Ransom,

I don't know if you are aware, but there are new regulations in place this year for holding a Neighborhood Block Party. There is documentation that has to filled out and submitted to the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA). This includes clearances from MPD, Department of Fire and EMS, DDOT, WMATA, and DCRA. For DCRA, the sponsor or sponsors of a community block party has to complete a “Clean Hands” application, along with a questionnaire. If any agency says “no,” you can't get the permit to hold the event.

My problems with this are: 1) there was no public notification or education as to this change in procedure; 2) was there a public hearing/roundtable on this matter; 3) if you are not charging for the event (especially an ANC or community group), why do you need to go through the clean hands process; 4) none of the documents states what laws or regulations are involved; 5) what are these fees (which I was told about, but not shown on any document), and why do fees have to be paid for these types of events and permit; and, 6) many have already planned their event, however, the process is supposed to take fifteen days for review and decision, but a resident in another ward told me they were told the process takes two months, since so many agencies are involved, and you don't know if someone is specifically assigned to this processing task, or you have to wait until an employee gets to it.

Many of you have events already planned in upcoming weeks and don't know about this. Please share with other listservs who might find themselves in the same position. We have not been properly notified as to the change in procedures, especially if we now have to pay fees. Contact your councilmember, the at-large councilmembers, and the mayor to complain. It is unfair.


Bogus Parking Tickets, Continued
Jack McKay,

This battle just never ends. In the District, the minimum distance of a parked car to an intersection is forty feet. Ah, but if one is parked on a Residential Permit Parking (RPP) block, and one has the pertinent RPP sticker, one can park to within twenty-five feet of that intersection. Initially that was only at night, but in 2006, thanks to former Councilmember Carol Schwartz, this was made legal at all times. To wit, the applicable text of Law L16-0186, effective November 16, 2006: “2411.21 Vehicles displaying a valid residential parking permit may park at all times, within a designated residential permit parking zone, twenty-five (25) feet or more from the intersection. The Director of the District Department of Transportation shall have the discretion to exempt intersections from the parking restriction moratorium established by this section that the Director determines would be inappropriate and unsafe with such parking.”

Well, I know of no intersections exempted by DDOT, so there you are. Yes, that means that one's car may extend up to fifteen feet beyond a “no parking (to intersection)” sign. Unfortunately, parking enforcement people have a really tough time with the notion that a car can be parked beyond a no-parking sign, and yet be legally parked. But that is the law, and by citing that law I've successfully denied five such tickets. Um, but there was a sixth ticket, and I guess I caught the DMV fellow on a bad day, because he rejected my now-routine observation that this was legal parking. So I proceeded to the next stage, appealing that ticket (after paying the $40, plus a $10 appeal fee) to the DMV Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board. I figured sure, they would understand the law. But no, I guess not. Twenty-three months later (yes, that's how long an appeal takes), the Appeals Board judgment arrived: “the Hearing Officer's decision is AFFIRMED.”

Why? Well, bizarrely, they cite DCMR 18, 2411.19(a), allowing this beyond-the-sign parking only “between 10:00 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.,” and my car was ticketed at 9:18 a.m. Um, here's the current status of that paragraph, according to the Web site of the Office of the Secretary: “DCMR 18, 2411.19(a) [Repealed].” Oops. Rather naturally, this was repealed with the "at all times" law was passed. So this is not the law now, and wasn't the law in 2008, when the bogus ticket was put on my legally parked car. So, it seems that the DMV Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board has upheld a bogus parking ticket, basing their judgment on a paragraph of the Municipal Regulations that hasn't been law since 2006. Maybe those Appeals Board folks should go study up on the laws they're supposed to be enforcing.


Mayoral Forums
Harold Foster, Petworth,

Or is it fora?

Anyway, themail could do us all a big favor by publishing the schedule, such as it is, of mayoral forums\fora here in the city, especially if one or the other of the two front-running candidates are going wimp out at the last minute as Fenty apparently did at the DC Educational Forum.


Fenty “Barnes Dance” Leads to His Opponent
Ted Gest,

My office is in Chinatown, so I see the “Barnes Dance” at 7th and H Streets, NW, daily. I see mostly confusion. "No Turns" signs are rather small, so people turn illegally all the time. Yesterday, two DC police patrol cars made a right turn on H (illegally) without even a turn signal. Either they are oblivious or they don't care. For a while we had full-time traffic officers yelling at people, but that isn't cost-effective, and they're gone. I've wondered why this experiment is necessary, in that one of the destinations at this intersection is an abandoned CVS Drug Store. But now it is covered with Vincent Gray signs, so this Fenty innovation is leading people right to his opponent.


Miss You DC
Blair J. Miles,

After being born in DC, and never having anything other than a DC address for my first thirty-one years of life, I have recently moved to my wife's native Southern California as her job has transferred her. It's been two months now, and I can't quit following DC politics. After being in the middle of it for years through my dad's several campaigns, numerous campaigns of others, working on Carol Schwartz's council staff, and working with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, I thought I'd be ready to leave behind the absurdity, dysfunction, and disappointment that has been the hallmark of local DC politics. Oh, how I was wrong. I can't get enough of waking three hours after you all have and reading the newest developments.

In the two months here, I have certainly taken note of the distinct differences between the political climates of California and DC. I'm sure time will have me embrace the California differences; in fact, I loved for the first time being able to vote for a Senator and member of the House of Representatives. I hope that family, friends, and other Washingtonians (I'll always be one at heart) won't have to leave our great city to experience that feeling. So, although I'm happy with the move, I have one regret in this political season: I won't have a chance to vote against Fenty for reelection!


My E-Mails
Cherita Whiting,

Today, a couple of very good friends informed me that my Ward 4 councilmember, Ms. Muriel Bowser, went to my supervisor and provided him with E-mails from my E-mail address that were sent out to inform parents (from one parent to another) about the Summer Youth Employment Program debacle, which others have described simply as a “mess!” As a resident of Ward 4, I have been an advocate for parents throughout the city for far longer than Ms. Bowser has been a Ward 4 resident, let alone councilmember. I have always and will continue to inform any and all District residents of the issues that may prevent them or their children from receiving adequate services within the District. This is what any good parent would do in sharing information.

The informative E-mails in question were sent out on Tuesday, June 29, at 6:45:34 a.m., 7:07:30 a.m., and 7:10:34 a.m., which demonstrates that the E-mails in question were sent from my personal computer at my home. Any information that I chose to send from my personal handheld device while on a break, or at lunch, or from my home has never come into question prior to my affiliation with and allegiance to Mr. Gray and his mayoral challenge to Mr. Fenty. My Blackberry cell phone bill is paid strictly by me, and the last time that I checked my personal E-mail account was free, which gives me the right to send E-mails or to have someone whom I appoint send E-mails for me.

I have always tried to inform the parents and residents of the District of Columbia on the issues at hand. But to have a councilmember maliciously attack me, as Bowser has done, is unacceptable when we in Ward 4 have several issues that she needs to address instead of my informational E-mails sent from my personal account and on my own time. I have not, until this issue, taken to the listservs to inform you all of the complaints I receive weekly regarding Ms. Bowser’s inaction and that of her staff in response to various Ward 4 issues from residents, but I have the E-mails and text messages that I have sent to her and her staff informing her that residents don't want to wait two to three weeks for a response from their councilmember.

I did not go to the media when it was said that Bowser instructed DC government employees to mow the grass of one of her supporters in our neighborhood, as witnessed by the neighbors on that street. The entire neighborhood was upset. I still have those E-mails as well. As a ward 4 resident I look forward to this election but even more to the 2012 election for my home ward!


Voter Lists
Michael Bindner,

Joan Eisenstodt shared information from the DC Democratic State Committee that the DC Board of Elections and Ethics has purged its rolls [themail, June 27]. I say that it is about time. I checked the link and my name is on it. I moved to Virginia in 2000 and registered to vote there, yet this information was never shared with the District. I have not voted in a DC election since 1998, yet my name was not purged. Anyone seeking to qualify an initiative or a referendum for the ballot faced bloated voter rolls, making it harder to put their issue on the ballot, or to force a recall of the mayor or their councilmember. DC voters were called apathetic because turnout was low — when in reality the voter rolls were inflated by people who have moved to the suburbs or died. It is past time for a voter roll purge. Indeed, looking at the database of those being purged, it is time for the District to go with the accepted standard of removing all who have not voted in the past two federal elections, which means people who last voted in 2002 or 2004 should also be purged.


DPW’s Independence Day Schedule
Kevin B. Twine,

The DC Department of Public Works will observe Independence Day on Monday, July 5. Here’s how DPW services will be affected: trash and recycling collections will slide one day, so Monday’s collections will be made on Tuesday, Tuesday’s collections will be made on Wednesday, and so on. In twice-a-week neighborhoods, Monday’s and Thursday’s collections will be made Tuesday and Friday, and Tuesday’s and Friday’s collections will be made Wednesday and Saturday. Trash and recycling containers should be placed out for collection no earlier than 6:30 p.m. the night before collection and removed from public space by 8:00 p.m. on the day(s) of collection. Parking enforcement will be suspended for parking meters, residential parking, and rush hour lane restrictions. It also will suspend towing of abandoned vehicles. Enforcement will occur, however, in the neighborhood surrounding Nationals Park during all Nationals games July 2, 3, and 4.

The Ft. Totten Transfer Station (4900 John F. McCormack Road, NE) will be closed on Monday, July 5, to residential customers and will reopen on Tuesday, July 6. Normally, residents may bring their trash and bulk items weekdays (1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and Saturdays (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) to Ft. Totten for disposal. In addition, on Saturdays (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), the transfer station accepts residents’ household hazardous waste such as pesticides, batteries, and motor oil. Electronics, including televisions, computers and cell phones, also will be accepted for recycling. Residents may bring up to five boxes of personal paper documents and credit cards to be shredded for free. For a complete list of items, go to and click on Household Hazardous Waste / E-Cycling / Shredding. Compost also is available to residents on Saturdays only.

Other services suspended for the observance of Independence Day include scheduled street and alley cleaning and nuisance abatement. All services will resume Tuesday, July 6. To view DPW’s trash and recycling holiday schedule for the remainder of the year, visit and click on Holiday Schedule under the “Highlights” header or call the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center at 311. Residents who would like to receive service notices from DPW should contact me at



African Diaspora Music Festival in Shaw, July 3
Alexandro Padro,

As part of the monthly First Saturday events sponsored by the Department of Small and Local Business Development, Shaw Main Streets will present the first ever African Diaspora Music Festival on Saturday, July 3, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The public is invited to enjoy free live performances of musical styles created by people of African descent, in air conditioned comfort, at three venues on the 1900 block of 9th Street, NW. No tickets or reservations are necessary.

At Little Ethiopia Restaurant (1924 9th Street, NW), one of Washington City Paper’s 50 Most Fascinating Restaurants for 2010, you’ll hear Yehunie Belay and His Band playing traditional and popular Ethiopian music, and see dancers demonstrating how to move to the groove. At La Carbonara Italian Restaurant (1926 9th Street, NW), listen to traditional and contemporary Jazz by CDH Brassworks. And thrill to the high-energy Afro-Caribbean stylings of the HR 57 All Stars at El Sol de America Restaurant, which serves Mexican/Salvadoran cuisine (1930 9th Street, NW). Be sure to ask about food and drink specials at each venue. Maps with these and other exciting destinations will be distributed at the southwest corner of 9th and U Streets, NW, during the event. Metro: U Street/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Station (Green and Yellow Lines).

For more information, call Shaw Main Streets at 202-265-SHAW or E-mail First Saturday events are sponsored by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development, DC Main Streets, and the Historical Society of Washington, DC.


National Building Museum Events, July 8
Johanna Weber,

July 8, 12:30-1:30 p.m., From Grey Street to Green Street: Redefining the American Main Street for an Era of Sustainability. Hear how the tiny, working-class town of Edmonston, Maryland, is building one of the greenest streets on the east coast, helping to keep pollutants out of the nearby Anacostia River. Edmonston Mayor Adam Ortiz discusses the project and shares plans to replicate the design in other communities. Free. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station.


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