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July 25, 2010

Call for Endorsements

Dear Endorsers:

It’s close enough to the primary now to start getting your endorsements in to themail. Encourage your fellow citizens to vote for the right candidates, who are, of course, the candidates you support. Make your best arguments; let us know what has convinced you. Or send your anti-endorsements to themail. Tell us all the reasons we shouldn’t vote for that bum who has earned your scorn. The only rules are: 1) keep it short, 2) keep it civil, 3) use your real name and E-mail address, and 4) if you’re associated formally or informally with a candidate’s campaign, reveal it. Come on, join in the debate in themail.


Chancellor Rhee’s firing of 241 more teachers last Friday is not likely to change anyone’s mind about her. People whose hearts thrill at the teacher firings, who think that the best way to improve schools is to fire teachers, will be pleased. People who think that Rhee acts arbitrarily and precipitously, that her mass firings will make it increasingly difficult to recruit good teachers to the DC system, will have their distrust of her confirmed. Valerie Strauss expressed her doubts in her blog on July 23,; the Post’s editorial board predictably expressed its unwavering and uncritical faith in her in an editorial today,


Mayor Adrian Fenty is campaigning on two themes: that he’s become unpopular because he has made “the tough decisions,” but that he has a long list of accomplishments over the past three years. But what tough decisions has he made? He has supported Rhee almost as enthusiastically as the Post’s editorialists, but he’s made it clear that she’s responsible for the educational decisions and the teacher firings, and that he hasn’t been involved in her decision-making. Fenty’s list of accomplishments doesn’t involve “tough decisions”; it’s a bricks-and-mortar list. He’s claiming that he’s responsible for building and renovating schools and recreation centers, and he recites the whole list of schools and rec centers in his campaign speeches and at candidate forums.

What do you think of Fenty’s construction program? Is he building what neighborhoods want and need most? Is he consulting with the people in neighborhoods enough to know? Then, is his administration contracting for the construction efficiently and honestly? Does he deserve the credit, or is he simply claiming the credit that should go to previous mayors and to councilmembers who planned and prepared for the projects, and to Allen Lew, who has been overseeing school construction projects and now projects for the Department of Parks and Recreation?


Jonetta Rose Barras is angry about what I wrote in the last issue of themail, July 21. She says that her column in the Examiner ( didn’t endorse either Kwame Brown or Vincent Orange in the race for City Council Chair, and that I misread her. She’s absolutely right, and I don’t know why my synapses were misfiring when I wrote that. Jonetta’s column definitely leans strongly toward Orange Brown. My only excuse, and it’s a poor one, is that I didn’t reread Jonetta’s column before I wrote my piece.

Gary Imhoff


BOEE Update
Dorothy Brizill,

On Monday, July 26, at 2:00 p.m., the council’s Government Operations Committee will hold a roundtable meeting to consider Mayor Fenty’s nomination of Togo West to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (declaration of emergency at; nomination and West’s resume at The mayor sent West’s nomination to the council on Thursday evening as an emergency bill under council rule 308, and the council briefly interrupted its summer recess on Friday afternoon in order to accept the nomination and to schedule Monday’s roundtable hearing. Later this week, the council will again interrupt its summer recess to hold a legislative session to vote on West’s nomination.

The emergency consideration of West’s nomination stems from the sudden, unexpected resignation of Errol Arthur, the current chair of the BOEE, effective July 31. As I wrote in the July 21 issue of themail, Arthur’s resignation created a true charter crisis by leaving the Board of Elections with just one member. In the emergency declaration accompanying West’s nomination, the mayor indicates that Arthur’s resignation would leave the BOEE “without a sufficient number to constitute a quorum” and that, without a quorum, the BOEE “will not be functional” (i.e., not able to deliberate and resolve disputes, to prepare for the September 14, or to certify the primary election results). Prior to publicly announcing his selection of West, mayor Fenty, in an interview at the Ward 2 Democrats forum, indicated that his nominee would be “blue chip.” A review of West’s resume details a distinguished career (he practiced law at Covington and Burling 1973-1975, 1976-1977, and 2000-2004), public service (as a former Secretary of the Army and of Veteran’s Affairs), and as a member of several corporate boards (Bristol-Myers Squibb, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and Medstar Health). Nonetheless, West’s nomination does raise some concerns about potential conflicts that should be addressed before the council votes on his nomination:

1) he was a colleague of Attorney General Peter Nickles at Covington and Burling and testified on Nickles’ behalf at his confirmation hearing before the council; 2) according to some reports, West is a close personal friend of William Lightfoot, chair of Fenty’s 2006 and 2010 campaign committees; 3) West is a member of the Greater Washington Board of Trade’s Senior Council and a former chairman of the Board of Trade, which endorsed Fenty in the mayor’s race this year; and 4) West has a very active consulting career and is a member of more than half a dozen corporate boards, which may make it difficult for him to attend BOEE meetings and oversee the work of board and its staff. Don’t expect any councilmembers to raise any of these issues, however. They will be so honored that someone of West’s prominence will deign to do us the favor of taking the position that they won’t ask him any hard or potentially embarrassing questions. Nevertheless, Fenty’s ability to come up with this very high quality nomination in such a short time raises the question of why he wasted a year and a half pushing BOEE nominees who had few or no qualifications, and then blaming the council for not rubber-stamping their nominations.


More Bad Decisions by Chancellor Rhee
Richard Urban,

Schools are not just “businesses.” While testing has its place, it is by no means a complete or accurate measure of the progress of children’s education. Here is a comment from the Washington Post web site regarding the firing on July 23 (again) of 226 teachers by Ms. Rhee deemed “ineffective,’ with a whopping 737 more teachers rated “minimally effective”: “I wonder if every teacher in the District doesn’t deserve a well motivated, well behaved, student body, with strong support from their home environment. Without those things, Ms. Rhee’s evaluation system is meaningless. The school system has descended into extreme political correctness, ill-conceived business models, and the use of DC teachers as the fall guy of last resort.”

As long as a large majority of DC youth are growing up without both parents in the home, or even one parent in the home (some 25 per cent of all DC youth), then there are going to be major problems. Are these factors considered in Ms. Rhee’s evaluation scheme? I would challenge Ms. Rhee herself to come and teach some of the unruly high school classrooms that I have seen myself during the course of my work with ULTRA Teen Choice. A successful approach to helping our youth must be holistic, especially in working with parents, as well as the community.

Having more homes with both parents present will drastically improve the learning environment in DC Public Schools. Character-based sexual health education is the right place to start this; youth should be advised and encouraged to abstain from sex before marriage. Teachers are actually in a similar position to parents within the school environment. And when you are dealing with “family,” decisions cannot just be made based on a (flawed) business model. Concern for the children, those teaching the children, and parents should be at the forefront of our school system. Ms. Rhee fails to show true concern for all three of these groups.


Dealing with DMV
Bob Levine,

I found the “contact us” button online at the Department of Motor Vehicles web site and asked how I can change my vehicle registration address online, and they sent me the address that will let me change my driver’s license address. I have already done that and have a new license, but DMV still thinks my car hasn’t moved and isn’t helping much. I will go down to the service center Tuesday, but since all in-person car registration services have been stopped I don’t know if that will do any good. I think my car is doomed to reside forever at my old address, at least according to the DMV. How can I change the address on my vehicle registration?


Proud History
Ron Drake,

In the early 1970’s we were writing a new constitution for the Georgia Democratic Party. The preamble drafters included the following statement in the proposed new constitution: “We acknowledge the proud history of the Georgia Democratic Party.” A white party leader from south Georgia spoke up and said: “Our party does not have a proud history in Georgia. I object.” No posturing, just, “I object.” The offending phrase was deleted, a small step toward racial reconciliation.


The Affordable Housing and Homeless Crisis in the District Is Getting Worse
David Schwartzman, DC Statehood-Green Party Candidate for At-Large Councilmember,

First, a correction to my previous post, “A New Round of the War Against the Poor” [themail, July 21]. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program was not “wiped out,” as I mistakenly claimed, but rather reduced by $1.3 million in the FY 2011 Budget, a 15 percent cut, leaving $7.4 million. This cut will reduce potential benefits in this program in an economic crisis generating more need, not less. (I apologize for misinterpreting the DC Fiscal Policy Institute’s assessment of the FY 2011 Budget).

The affordable housing and homeless crisis in the District is getting worse. I learned this at the 2010 Candidates Briefing sponsored by the DC Affordable Housing Alliance and COHHO, held on July 22. Support for DC’s affordable housing programs is one third lower ($41 million) for FY2011 than in FY 2008. All major housing programs have been cut, including first-time homebuyer assistance, rent subsidies, and the Housing Production Trust Fund (DC Fiscal Policy Institute). The main program benefiting truly low income people, earning less than thirty thousand dollars a year, the Production Trust Fund, is now down to less than four million dollars, with projects in the pipeline needing more than eighty million dollars. A critical obstacle to the provision of affordable housing to our low income residents is use of the Average Median Income (AMI) of the Greater DC Metro Area, $102,700, in existing laws and regulations.

Many more units would be provided in District subsidized housing to our low income residents if the Median Income of $58,553 (2008) for the District itself were used instead. DC tax data shows that some 60 percent of District families (excluding elderly) fall below fifty-seven thousand dollars (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; go to: This issue should be highlighted in the upcoming candidates forums.



DPW Online Chat on Parking Enforcement, July 28
Kevin Twine,

The Department of Public Works (DPW) Parking Enforcement Management Administration will respond to citizens’ questions regarding parking enforcement in the District during its monthly hour-long online chat on Wednesday, July 28, at 12:00 p.m. Citizens requested this topic during last month’s online chat regarding litter and graffiti and are encouraged to continue to suggest future discussion topics. Residents can join or follow the discussion at once the chat session begins. Residents also may submit questions in advance to

This is the sixth in a series of monthly online chats with DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr., and other DPW officials. Future topics will address trash collection, leaf collection, and other DPW operations.


Candidate Forum at UDC, July 29
Leah Ramsay,

I’m pleased to invite you to an in-depth discussion on the major issues facing Washington, DC, with the top candidates for mayor of the District of Columbia and the chairman of the DC city council. DC Vote is cosponsoring this special conversation with the candidates with several of our local partners. Whether it’s securing full democracy for District of Columbia residents, improving HIV/AIDS services, revamping the child support system or cleaning up the Anacostia River, the mayor and city council chair have an impact on almost every aspect of daily life in the nation’s capital.

Here are the event details: Thursday, July 29, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. The University of the District of Columbia’s Auditorium, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW (Building 46E). The closest Metro stop is Van Ness/UDC on the red line, and paid parking is available in UDC garage.

Candidates: Mayor Adrian Fenty (invited), Chairman Vincent C. Gray (confirmed), At-large Councilmember Kwame Brown (confirmed), and former Councilmember Vincent Orange (confirmed). Moderated by Bruce DePuyt from News Channel 8 and former DC City Councilmember Kathy Patterson. Sponsors for the evening include DC Vote, DC Appleseed, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, ACLU of the National Capital Area, Access to Justice Commission, Consortium of Universities, DC Branch NAACP, DC Consortium of Legal Services Providers, Defeat Poverty DC, District of Columbia Affairs Section of the District of Columbia Bar, and the University of the District of Columbia.


Non-Representational Photography Exhibit Opening, August 5
Alex Pergament,

I am excited to invite you to the opening of my first DC photography show entitled |non|representational photographs. The opening will take place at Tryst (Adams Morgan, 2459 18th Street, NW, just south of Columbia Road) from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 5. The photographs being shown were taken over the last year and capture the mood or touch of specific moments in time. I deliberately misrepresent the scene by using out-of-focus, over and under exposure, and camera movement. This results in pieces not immediately identifiable as photographs, where the physical reality becomes secondary to the experience of the scene. Please visit and follow the links to Current Exhibition for a preview of the show.

The opening reception will feature the jazz/funk music of The Rast, Ostle, Blackwood Trio (see and for a sampling), and hors d’oeuvres will be served. This will be my first show in Washington, DC, after successful showings of [photography as painting: an illicit affair] in Chicago and New Jersey. The show will be on display from August 5 though August 31. I hope you will join me for an evening of photography, jazz, hors d’oeuvres, and drinks.


Arts on N Street, August 7-8, 14-15
Rachel Dickerson,

Arts on N Street, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, is DC’s new and free outdoor market displaying indie talents and handmade expressions. Featuring high-quality, one-of-a-kind creations, concepts, and more. Visit Portraits of DC, a one-block long, large-scale, outdoor photo exhibit. Music, food, friends, and art — rain or shine. The Festival will be held August 7 and 8, 14 and 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., along N Street between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. For more information, go to


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