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August 4, 2010


Dear Fora Attendees:

I’m writing this introduction to themail on Wednesday evening at the Ward 4 Democratic Party forum for mayoral candidates. The room holds only a few hundred people, but it is packed, and a few hundred more are outside. More members of the press are here to cover this forum than at any previous one; six from the Washington Post alone. Fenty supporters from all wards of the city got here early, even though they can’t vote in the straw poll, and took most of the chairs inside the room. They’re rowdy, despite repeated requests from the Ward 4 Democratic Party chairwoman not to applaud, cheer, or boo, shouting their support for Fenty and heckling Gray. Contrary to the stereotype that has dominated this campaign, the Fenty supporters who turned out tonight are not white yuppies who recently moved into the city. Instead, they’re older and black, many of whom I recognize as past supporters of Marion Barry — even though Marion is here himself tonight wearing a sticker supporting Gray. Fenty’s wife, Michelle, attends; this may be the first public campaign event she has come to, but she leaves at 6:30 p.m., a half hour before the meeting begins. Many administration officials, including cabinet members, are here to support Fenty. Another large and noisy group of Fenty supporters is wearing orange t-shirts. They’re not supporters of City Council Chair candidate Vincent Orange, though; they’re members of LiUNA, Laborers Local 667. They leave early, at 8:00 p.m., because they have to be bussed back to Baltimore. At the start of the forum, the loudest of the shouters is Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who yells “fact” more than twenty times during Fenty’s two-minute introductory statement. When Bowser moves and quiets down, her job as chief cheerleader is passed to Ron Moten, who sits on the floor directly in front of the candidates, throwing gang hand signs at Fenty’s opponents until forum moderator Bruce Johnson asks him to stop.

The biggest issue of the night is introduced by a comment from fellow candidate Leo Alexander, who accuses Fenty and Gray of working together to pass the budgets that have raided the rainy day fund. Gray’s response is that he wished the mayor and the city council had worked together, but that Fenty has not agreed to meet with him once in the past seven months; Fenty rose to rebut many statements Gray made, but he didn’t deny that. What is surprising is how sharp, pointed, funny, and well-received by the whole crowd are the barbs that all of the minor candidates — Ernest Johnson, Sulaimon Brown, and Alexander — point at both of the major candidates, Gray and Fenty.

Fenty has turned into an angry, mean, attack dog of a candidate, far from the confident incumbent with the huge war chest that he should be at this stage of the campaign; and Gray is running with a front-runner’s certitude. It’s the world turned upside down from the expectations of six months ago. At the end of the forum, few minds have probably been changed but, with many of Fenty’s supporters already gone, the cheers inside the room are much louder for Gray than for Fenty. But the chants outside the forum are “Four more years.” As we publish themail, the Ward 4 Democrats are doing a recount to confirm the straw poll results, but the preliminary results show Gray winning with 59 percent of the vote.

Gary Imhoff


West’s Ascension, Gandhi’s Requiem
Dorothy Brizill,

According to Mayor Fenty’s press office, he swore in Togo West as a member of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) on Tuesday afternoon. The swearing-in ceremony was not carried on the mayor’s public schedule, it was not announced in a press release, and no photo has been posted on the mayor’s web page. Given West’s high profile national status, it is curious that Fenty would hold a secretive, stealthy event rather than giving the swearing-in wide publicity.

On Tuesday, the city council voted seven (Gray, Mendelson, Michael Brown, Kwame Brown, Cheh, Thomas, and Alexander) to four (Catania, Evans, Bowser, Wells) — Graham and Barry being absent — not to confirm Mital Gandhi to a seat on the BOEE. Gandhi almost immediately sent an intemperate and childish E-mail to councilmembers and the press denouncing the decision. As Mike DeBonis commented in his online column,, “Not since Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert slammed LeBron James for leaving town has a potentially questionable decision been so instantly validated.”

Footnote: following the council vote, I received an E-mail from a former senior manager at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, on whose board Gandhi serves. The E-mail said of Gandhi’s tenure on the ABC Board: “I found him to be one of the least ethical people that I had to work with in my thirty-five years in law enforcement.” The council voted correctly.


Franklin Coalition Applauds Gray Stand on Franklin School as Home for UDC Law School
Joseph L. Browne,

Mayoral Candidate Vincent Gray responded to a question that he could think of no better use for the Franklin School building at 13th and K Streets, NW, than for it to house the David A. Clarke School of Law. Gray was responding to questions at a “meet and greet” evening in Cleveland Park on Tuesday evening, August 2. I could not agree more with Council Chair Gray’s proposal.

The Fenty Administration issued a Request for Proposals in September 2009 geared toward private uses. The city received three proposals in response — a charter school that had been previously rejected, a boutique hotel, and the Coalition suggestion of possible educational uses. Although the process closed in January 2010, the Fenty Administration has remained silent on the future of the historic building. The Coalition views private, commercial development as “incompatible with the spirit and history of the building and inappropriate for a site that the taxpayers of the District of Columbia have supported for over 140 years.” The Coalition for Franklin School supports continued city control of the landmarked building facing Franklin Square and believes that the historic Franklin School and the David A. Clarke School of Law are a logical pairing that would be supported by the entire community.


Fenty Signs
Keith Jarrell,

The Fenty Campaign has a total disregard for citizens and their rights. Today I returned home to find a Fenty sign posted in my front yard, covering up my Vince Gray for Mayor sign.

It shows the trouble the campaign is in along with the terrible mindset that they have for being greedy and tacky. It proves the point that they have very little regard for voters’ making up their own minds and supporting who they feel will be the best choice.

It only instills in me that my thoughts are even more correct and that I must do everything I can to see that Gray is elected as our next mayor. Thanks, guys, for making the decision all that much easier.


Infant Mortality Rises in the District
Hye Sook Chung, DC Action for Children,

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual Kids Count report last week, and the news is decidedly mixed for infants and toddlers in the District. On one hand, many indicators of childhood well-being showed improvement since 2000, including the percentage of low-birth weight babies, mortality rates for children ages one through fourteen, and the percentage of children living in poverty (down 13 percent, but still frighteningly high at 26 percent of all children).

But during that time, infant mortality rates rose. Across the District, the rate spiked by 9 percent to 13.1 infant deaths per one thousand live births in 2007. The rate was much worse in Ward 8, at twenty infant deaths per one thousand live births. While infant mortality is improving across the country, it’s rising in the nation’s capital. What does this say about our priorities? What does it say about our future? Clearly, we are failing to protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens when they need our help most — when it is truly a matter of life and death.

In the coming weeks, DC Action for Children and our partners from DC’s Home Visiting Council will go behind the Kids Count numbers to answer these questions and propose solutions on our blog at We hope you will join the discussion. Keep up to date on news and issues affecting DC’s youngest citizens by following us on Twitter ( and Facebook (



Department of Parks and Recreation Events, August 5-10
John Stokes,

August 5-August 8, 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., National Hershey Track and Field Games, Hershey, PA, for ages nine through fourteen. The following individuals have qualified for the National Hershey Track and Field Games and will receive an all expense paid trip to Hershey, PA. This is Juwan Hikim’s third year qualifying. He placed third in the softball throw during the 2009 National Hershey Games. Brandon Jones (9-10), standing long jump, Turkey Thicket; Cortez Kinard (9-10), softball throw, Lamond; Kaylah Smith (11-12), softball throw, Ridge Road; Fahirah Crews (13-14), softball throw, Kenilworth; Juwan Hikim (13-14), softball throw, Kenilworth. For more information, call Luna Harrison at 316-4249.

August 6, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Camp Adventure Trip to Breezy Point Beach, Calvert County, MD, for ages six through sixteen. Campers will travel to Breezy Point Beach for an afternoon of fun in the sun! For more information, call Priscilla Jones at 698-1794.

August 6, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Camp Funward Bound Closing Luncheon, Golden Corral Restaurant, Largo, MD, for adults with special needs. Participants of Camp Funward Bound will enjoy a tasty meal while reminiscing about the wonderful camp experience had by all! For more information, call Rita Robinson, Recreation Therapist at 698-1794.

August 10 and 18, 7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., DPR 7-Men and 3-Women Citywide Slow Pitch Softball Tournament at Randall Field, South Capitol Street, SW, for ages eighteen and up. Teams from the 7-Men and 3-Women Slow Pitch Leagues will compete in an end of the season single elimination tournament for the City title bragging rights. For more information, call Luna Harrison at 316-4249.


Community Review of Georgia Avenue, August 7
Parisa B. Nourizi,

The ECAC, a founding member of the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force (GACDTF), invites all residents, business owners, and other stakeholders to a community review of Georgia Avenue on Saturday, August 7, from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Howard University School of Architecture at 6th Street and Howard Place, NW. The Georgia Avenue corridor is undergoing major change from New Hampshire Avenue to S Street. It is important that the current residents and businesses clearly identify the issues and the vision they have for new development before the bulldozers arrive. At this Community Review of Georgia Avenue, participants will have a chance to discuss issues that will affect their quality of life in areas such as housing, safety, retail options, environmental initiatives, recreation, and more. Small group discussions will take place between 9:30 and 1:00, with a large group meeting beginning at 2:00. Lunch will be provided.


Dog Days of Shaw, August 7
Alexander M. Padro,

On Saturday, August 7, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., as part of DC Main Streets First Saturday, come celebrate the Dog Days of August in Blagden Alley, directly behind Wagtime Pet Spa and Boutique (, the city’s premier doggie day care, groomer, and retail store and Long View Gallery (, which is presenting a show of the work of Tony Savoie, many of whose mixed media pieces feature canines. Bring your dog and enjoy canine contests, doggie splash pools, games, prizes, and free gift bags, dog-shaped cookies from Chatman’s Bakery and Cafe (, popcorn from Independence Federal Savings Bank (, light fare and refreshments, and frozen margaritas. And stroll 9th Street with your pet, visiting other businesses offering dog-themed specials and tastings, including Modern Liquors. Don’t miss Arts on N Street, with eighty artists and craftspeople selling their work, and new art installed in windows of the Washington Convention Center. Enter the alley next to Squares Fashions, 1208 9th Street, NW. This event is free. DC Main Streets First Saturday is sponsored by the Department of Small and Local Business Development, DC Main Streets, and the Historical Society of Washington, DC. For more information, call 265-SHAW or E-mail


National Building Museum Events, August 7
Johanna Weber,

August 7, 1:00-2:30 p.m. Postmodernism: Roger K. Lewis, FAIA, architect, planner, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, and author of the “Shaping the City” column in The Washington Post, draws on his years of writing to discuss this reactionary approach to architecture. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at


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