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August 25, 2010

Party Time

Dear Independent Thinkers:

In 1995, the actor Hugh Grant was arrested for soliciting a prostitute. It was a major scandal in the press, but Grant made no public appearances or statements for a few weeks. Then he was a guest on The Tonight Show. The show’s host, Jay Leno, introduced Grant and was silent as Grant rather sheepishly walked on stage and took his chair. After a pause that was perfectly timed to emphasize the awkwardness of the moment, Leno’s first words were, "What the hell were you thinking?"

Somebody ask Adrian Fenty that question. In the midst of his humility tour, meant to convince voters that in the future he would be friendly and collaborative, his campaign committee filed a petition with the DC Board of Elections and Ethics asking it to allow independent voters, those registered as "No Party," to change their party registrations and vote in party primaries even as late as the same day of the election ( The committee’s lawyers, from Perkins and Coie, as well as the Fenty 2010 chairman, William Lightfoot, dressed up Fenty’s request as "enfranchising" independents, but it was obvious that Fenty was simply shopping for votes among independents, that he thought he could get the votes of independents more easily than the votes of Democrats. The committee’s request falsely said that that in the past independents could vote in DC party primaries and that federal law required allowing independents to vote in party primaries.

This morning, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics held an emergency meeting and disposed of the Fenty petition rather quickly, in under two hours ( Not only did Fenty’s political maneuver fail, it embarrassed him badly.

Admitting independent voters to party primaries is a major step toward open primaries. Primaries are simply one means by which parties choose their candidates in political races; parties can also hold caucuses and conventions, but the point of all of them is that members of parties, those who identify with and affiliate with those parties, choose the candidates. Some states have open primaries, in which their primary elections are open to members of other, rival parties; most have closed primaries, open only to members of their respective parties. After the current election, it may be worthwhile to have a debate over whether DC wants to have open primaries. Generally, the public supports open primaries when they think political parties have grown too powerful and thwart the public will, and they want to weaken the parties.

Fenty’s petition, if there were any legal rationale to support it, would have given him a chance of gaining him some independent votes in this year’s Democratic primary, but it would inflict damage on all the political parties in this town, in all their future primaries. That’s why the DC Democratic and Statehood-Green parties testified in opposition to it this morning, along with many other citizens. Fenty, like his political mentor, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, may think he is bigger and more important than any political party, but his disregard for and insult to his fellow party members is unlikely to help him in the Democratic primary. So if you see him, ask him, "What the hell were you thinking?" If you get an answer, send it to themail, we’d all like to know.

Gary Imhoff


Dorothy Brizill,

Today, August 25, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics hold an emergency hearing to consider a formal request from the Fenty 2010 Committee to amend BOEE regulations so that voters could change their party affiliation status at an early voting center or at the polls on September 14. This change, if it had been approved by the approved by the BOEE, would have allowed individuals who are not currently registered as Democrats to participate and vote in the upcoming Democratic primary. Citizens, candidates, parties, and civic organizations packed the BOEE hearing room and the second floor hallway outside it to insist that the Board not change the District’s election law just prior to the start of early voting on August 30. After the hearing, William Lightfoot, chair of the Fenty 2010 Committee, tried to argue that the real issue before the BOEE was one of civil rights, equal rights, and increasing voter participation.

Despite this pronouncement from the Fenty campaign, however, it was very clear that Fenty was trying to tap into the pool of 72,435 individuals currently registered as "no party" in the District. Moreover, it should also be noted that Mayor Fenty vetoed the Corrupt Election Practices bill the city council had adopted in July because, he argued, no changes in the District’s election laws and procedures should be made so close to a pending election.

The BOEE’s memorandum opinion and order, issued at the conclusion of the hearing, denied the request of the Fenty 2010 Committee. It is available at


Vote for a Candidate and the Candidate’s Ideas
Alvin Frost,

This mayoral election is contest of both candidates and ideas. Unfortunately, most candidates, voters, and, especially, the media seems to consider the candidate and their ideas as a package. I am suggesting that DC voters should consider the ideas that each candidate presents in the context of what’s best for Washington, DC. By doing this, the voter is making a decision on what the future direction of the city should be that is independent of the candidate who presented the idea. This process would then proceed to which candidate is best prepared and experienced to achieve that vision and mission. The end result of such a process would allow for each voter to say to whoever wins the election that: "I voted for you, not because I agree with everything that you campaigned on, but because I believe that you are most likely to meet the needs and achieve the best results for the entire city."

Most campaigns and elections are all-or-nothing, winner-takes-all contests. As a result, a lot of votes are against the other candidate, and their ideas and preparation, as opposed to for a candidate, and their ideas and preparation. The Grand Jury standard to indict an individual is "probable cause" and the standard to convict a defendant in Court is "beyond a reasonable doubt." Unfortunately, "probable cause" is as close to discovering which candidate is "most likely" to be the best, or better, person to vote for. One thing that the electorate should not do, is to think that their civic duty is done when they cast their ballots. It is at that time that they must step up their efforts and make sure that the nominees are constantly reminded of their campaign promises and the reasons that most voters selected them. The last thing that most voters expect are election victors who misrepresent both themselves and their opponents, in addition to their plans and intentions for their subsequent administration.


Mouths Taped Shut
Ellis Whiting,

In Maryland, taping a child’s mouth is a felony with no statute of limitation. Ask the Catholic Church. When someone admits to a crime, is it punished if the person committing it is Rhee, Fenty, or Kenneth Johnson? The Turque article on "Michelle Rhee, First-Year Teacher,", shows her true colors, abusing African American children.



Outreach for Bruce-Monroe Campaign, August 28
Parisa B. Norouzi,

Join the People’s Property Campaign for outreach to build support for the campaign to rebuild Bruce-Monroe. Saturday, August 28. There will be two shifts, from 10:00 a.m. To noon and from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Meet at the Bruce-Monroe site, Georgia and Irving Streets, NW. RSVP to, 234-9119, and let me know what shift you plan to join!


Celebrate the New Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library, Saturday, August 28
George Williams,

This Saturday, August 28, come to the new Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library’s grand opening party for a fun-filled day. Activities will include jazzy drawings for kids; face painting; a yoga demonstration for adults, a poetry slam, a Mac photo workshop for teens, and a water-balloon battle. Refreshments will be served throughout the day. The Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library is located at 1630 7th Street, NW, across the street from the Shaw/Howard University Metro Station.


Ward 4 Democrats Events, August 28, September 1
Deborah M. Royster, President, Ward 4 Democrats,

I am writing to advise you of two upcoming community events sponsored by the Ward 4 Democrats. First, on Saturday, August 28, we will hold the third annual backyard barbecue from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at 1850 Redwood Terrace, NW. Please join us for Democratic fellowship, picnic fare, swimming, and fun, and to learn more about the new voting procedures for the September 14 Democratic primary election. (In the event of inclement weather on August 28, this event will be held on Sunday, August 29, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.) All registered Democratic candidates have been invited to this event; however, no campaigning will be permitted on the premises, as this is a Ward 4 Democrats fundraising event, the proceeds of which will be used to support our voter education and outreach activities. Tickets are $25.00 per person and may be purchased by E-mailing Ms. Marlena Edwards, Program Chair, at or by calling Mrs. Evon Ervin, 882-1122. Due to space limitations, a maximum of two hundred tickets will be available for purchase.

Second, the next monthly meeting of the Ward 4 Democrats will be held on Wednesday, September 1, at 7:00 p.m. at Emery Recreation Center, 5701 Georgia Avenue, NW. Representatives of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics will be present to discuss early voting and to demonstrate the new voting equipment. The meeting will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us on Wednesday, September 1. If you would like to receive regular notice of monthly meetings, please join the Ward 4 Democrats listserv at


City Council Chairman Candidates Forum, August 31
Robin Diener,

Please join the Dupont Circle ANC, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, the Foggy Bottom Association, and the Ward 2 Democrats for a community forum for council chairman Democratic candidates the Honorable Kwame Brown and the Honorable Vincent Orange. Tuesday, August 31. Doors open at 6:00 p.m., forum begins promptly at 6:30 p.m., at the Academy for Educational Development, Idea Exchange, Connecticut Avenue and T Street, NW. Light refreshments will be provided. Written questions from the audience will be accepted in advance at the forum, or online in advance at


Candidates Forum on Statehood and Democracy, September 7
Bill Mosley,

The Stand Up! For Democracy in DC Coalition (Free DC) will present a forum for candidates for the offices of mayor, council chair, and US representative on Tuesday, September 7, at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Public Library, 9th and G Streets, NW (Gallery Place Metro), beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Great Hall.

The purpose of the forum is to educate the voting public about the candidates’ positions on and plans regarding statehood for the District of Columbia, as well as about democracy, civic duties, and responsibilities, and other relevant issues in a changing America. The forum will feature three segments, one for each office, with invitations extended to all candidates listed by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics on the 2010 Primary Election ballot for the three offices. They will be seated by party and given equal time to answer questions. Audience participation will also be encouraged. The moderator will be Jerry Phillips, a legend in local radio and television. Contact: Anise Jenkins, 361-9739 or The DC Public Library is presenting this debate as a nonpartisan educational event.


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