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July 28, 2010


Dear Preferrers:

So in the last issue of themail I called for endorsements for candidates in the upcoming primary, and I nearly shut down correspondence to themail completely. This is the shortest issue of themail in years. Does no one have a preference in the mayor’s race, the city council chairman’s race, the at-large councilmember races, or the four ward councilmember races? Are you simply bored with politics, and do you want to talk about the heat wave and Restaurant Week instead? If so, please do — themail is about all aspects of living in Washington, and you shape it yourselves by what you write.

In any case, I’m stubborn, at least stubborn enough to try again. Please teach us to understand your favorite (or least favorite) candidate the way you do. Influence the race that means the most to you. Convince us.

Gary Imhoff


Eleanor Holmes Norton Channels Vince Lombardi
Samuel Jordan,

Eleanor Holmes Norton is not a leader of the DC statehood movement. Accordingly, several statehood advocates have extolled Mrs. Norton’s promise, published in her July 25 op-ed in the Washington Post, to submit a statehood bill at some time in the future as a victory of sorts. But like the Trojan horse, the article itself bears closer scrutiny ( 

In the first instance, Mrs. Norton begins with a twisted history of the failure of her most recent attempt to submit the DC Voting Rights bill — a bill that would give her a seat in Congress balanced by an additional seat for the sovereign state of Utah. Joined by DC Vote and the Leadership Council on Civil Rights (LCCR), Mrs. Norton was urged, in the words of Wade Henderson, Executive Director of LCCR, to “just take the deal.” The “deal” was the surrender by the District of Columbia of its prerogatives to regulate gun sales, portability, and registration. An amendment to this effect was proposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its vassals in Congress who are reluctant to appear soft on Second Amendment rights to bear arms, constitutional misinterpretations notwithstanding.

Mrs. Norton, DC Vote and LCCR agreed to the compromise with NRA and its minions within 24 hours after she had appeared at an event to commiserate with the communities and families directly affected by the murderous mayhem that occurred on March 30 in far southeast DC in which four youth were killed and at least nine others were injured. A firestorm erupted. Roots, Inc., a leading organizer of the anti-gun violence effort in the city, shifted into emergency mode and called upon all the families and communities who would preserve the District’s right to legislate gun ownership and safety to resoundingly reject the Norton-led compromise. Even DC for Democracy, the Brady gun control group, Stop Gun Violence, and the League of Women Voters abandoned the effort. Several DC councilmembers, with great chagrin, also had to retract their support for the compromise. 

Shamelessly, on the day following the storm of rejection, Mrs. Norton announced that she had withdrawn the bill in response to the attempt to add the “gun amendments.” First, the great compromiser, she would now cast herself as the champion of DC’s restrictive gun laws, although her own sympathies lay with the withdrawn bill. With this turnabout, Mrs. Norton demonstrated another more disturbing tenet of her political method, say whatever the situation requires.

It is this troubling penchant to say “whatever,” that proves Mrs. Norton’s absence from the leadership of the statehood movement. In all of her campaigns for Delegate to the House of Representatives since the House vote on DC statehood in 1993, Mrs. Norton has only pursued alternatives to statehood including the Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) inspired “one vote for me and one vote for Utah” scheme. Mrs. Norton has never since 1993 published a statement announcing her intention to submit a statehood bill. But then never in her campaigns for Delegate has Mrs. Norton feared the loss of the support of Ward 3 voters. That is the game-changer. Ward 3 is her most coveted voting block.

A few weeks ago, Mrs. Norton polled second to Doug Sloan in a Ward 3 Democratic Primary straw poll. Mr. Sloan garnered 63 percent of the votes cast to Mrs. Norton’s 30 percent. The article in the Washington Post followed posthaste — with its slack regard for truth and principle. In it, Delegate Norton promises to submit a statehood bill at some point in the future while continuing to pursue the one vote bill. Statehood advocates would do well to remind themselves that Mrs. Norton has always promised to submit a statehood bill, but only when she decides it is timely.

Her article makes no acknowledgement of the untapped demand for complete local autonomy the anti-gun amendments firestorm revealed. The statement includes DC CFO Natwar Gandhi’s unsupported declaration that statehood would cost $1.2 billion in lost federal resources. Yet, the article does not cite the more than $1.8 billion due the District from the commuters who work in the District, but live elsewhere. Nor does it demand a fair federal payment for the services rendered to the federal government by the District without reimbursement. These revenue sources amount to a net gain from statehood in the hundreds of millions. The Norton article makes no attempt to cite any other source of political legitimacy but her subjective discretion. This is not leadership. It is unadulterated self interest.

In order to keep statehood advocates and a growing constituency that rejects the one vote bill at bay, Mrs. Norton also resorts to unethical sleight of hand. She writes, “As we move forward, it is important to remember that today all approaches would need to overcome the gun provision, even statehood; gun proponents would oppose statehood bill altogether because the District would enact strong gun safety laws. . . .”

The sleight of hand or dishonesty is regrettably shallow. A “gun provision” cannot be added to a statehood bill. Statehood confers sovereignty. All states enter the union on equal footing, thereby invalidating any attempt to saddle a state with restrictions on its power to legislate its own laws otherwise compliant with the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, there is no gun provision that could halt or encumber a statehood bill. While it may be true there will be opponents to statehood for the District, the NRA and its henchmen will not be able to introduce a gun amendment as a condition of passage of a statehood bill. Mrs. Norton has not only said what she thinks will appease Ward 3 Dems who chose Mr. Sloan, but she has deceived statehood supporters into thinking that a statehood bill may also be held hostage by the NRA.

Statehood for the District of Columbia is a matter of full equality for District residents with all others who pay federal taxes. It is not an opportunistic sound bite to be used when the political winds don’t fill one’s sails. The Norton article in the Washington Post is but her own spin on the Vince Lombardi rule, “winning is everything” — but we knew Vince was just playing a game.


What DC Residents Can Do During Storm Related Outages
Melanie Deggins,

As of 8:00 a.m., Monday, July 26, Pepco is reporting approximately 246,500 customers out system wide, including 22,500 customers in the District of Columbia. The company is estimating a, “multi-day restoration effort.” First, make sure your outage has been reported. Do not assume that Pepco is aware of an outage or a neighbor has called to report an outage. Pepco needs to hear from every affected customer to help locate problem areas. Call Pepco’s 24-hour outage report line, 1-877-PEPCO-62 (1-877-737-2662). If you cannot use your home phone, it is still important to call and follow the prompts. Make sure Pepco has a working phone number where you can be reached about service restoration. Second, check on elderly and at-risk friends and family to make sure they have access to plenty of water, a telephone and food. Third, do your part to help keep the power on. Electricity customers can take simple electricity conservation steps: 1) close curtains and blinds to keep out the sun and retain cooler air inside; 2) postpone using major electric household appliances such as stoves, dishwashers, and clothes dryers until the cooler evening hours; 3) if health permits, set air conditioner thermostats higher than usual; and turn off electric appliances and equipment that you do not need or are not using.

Keep the following numbers handy: Pepco Safety Emergency 872-3432 — to report wires down; Pepco Claims Office 872-2455 — to request a form for electric service related damages; DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Hotline 727-6161 — to request assistance with emergency shelter or report a hazardous condition; OPC 727-3071 — to request any information or assistance



Candidates Debate at UDC
Geralda Jean,

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. The DC Open Government Coalition 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. At 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. The event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP by E-mailing so we will have an accurate head count.

Sponsors for the evening also 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.


Brutalism, July 31
Johanna Weber,

Susan Piedmont-Palladino, National Building Museum curator and architecture professor at Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Center, explores Brutalism, the form of architecture that many love to hate. $12 Members; $12 Students; $20 Nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. July 31, 1:00-2:30 p.m., at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for this event at


Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association Mayoral and Council Chair Debate, August 3
Crystal Proctor,

The Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association would like to invite the public to attend their Mayoral and Council Chair Debate. The event will take place on August 3 at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, 5301 North Capitol Street, NE. The event will begin at 6:30 with a brief meet and greet. The forum is scheduled to end at 9:00 p.m.


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