themail.gif (3487 bytes)

September 1, 2010

Late Voting

Dear Late Voters:

Don’t vote early; if you do, you’ll miss the late breaking scandals. There are a few in this issue of themail.

Many of you are familiar with Wilson High School history teacher Erich Martel, or at least with his past battles to improve public education in DC and specifically at Wilson. Now he has been reassigned to a technology high school by DCPS’s administrators, motivated by the complaints of a principal who was upset by Martel’s fight to keep the school’s administration honest and accountable (see Bill Turque’s blog,, and the front-page article in the September 1 issue of the Northwest Current, Sept. 1 1.pdf). This is another example of the Rhee administration’s petty, personal retaliation against teachers who are not members of the Rhee/Fenty inner circle — retaliation that has nothing to do with the competence and ability of teachers. See a lot more about this in Martel’s message in this issue and in the links from his message.


On May 20 and May 24, 2009, Dorothy reported in themail that Attorney General Peter Nickles claimed to have moved into the Lansburgh, at 420 7th Street, NW, to establish residence in the District, since being a resident of the city was a legal requirement for him to hold the job of Attorney General. She also raised the question of whether Nickles actually lived there, rather than on his horse farm in Great Falls, Virginia. Now an anonymous good citizen has gone to the trouble of actually checking where Nickles drives at night after work, and the “We Love DC” web site has posted video of the findings, You already know the results, of course. Washington Business Journal reporter Mike Neibauer contacted Nickles for a response, and Neibauer has posted the results on his Twitter account. Nickles is “outraged” that his pretense of being a Washington resident has been exposed. After all, Nickles went to all the trouble and expense of creating a false address in DC, and he doesn’t see why he should also have to go through the humiliating unpleasantness of actually living in the city, rather than out of state.

Gary Imhoff


Conflicts of Interest
Susan Parker,

I came across this information. Towanda Paul-Bryant is Fenty’s current Chairwoman of the Real Property Assessment and Appeals Board. Following her appointment in late 2008, three members of the Board resigned in early 2009, One publicly claimed that she had politicized the Board, Now Paul-Bryant has been awarded a CBE (certified business enterprise) contract with the District (under the DC Supply Schedule Awarded Contracts) under the business name of Chase Creek Media. This contract is effective from July 11, 2010, to July 10, 2010, for “marketing media & public information services.” Chase Creek Media has also received $800,000 from Fenty’s reelection bid according to the campaign’s schedule B, “itemized operating expenditures.”

This is a lot of money for a company with a web site that is “under construction” and has an office in the Willard Hotel. Isn’t it a conflict of interest for a person with such an influential appointed post to have both a contract with the city and to receive close to $1 million from Fenty’s reelection campaign? To do what? Where is the money trail? Oh, and Paul-Bryant’s husband, William Bryant, is Fenty’s fraternity brother, and just recently he was added to the company’s listing as an owner. I discovered this information last week, and then he was not listed as an “owner” of Chase Creek Media; now he is. What is Chase Creek Media? What does it do? Why does its owner hold an appointed position in the DC government, receive a city contract, and receive a massive from the mayor’s campaign committee?

By the way, Keith Lomax, who became infamous for driving a taxpayer-paid car that is used by Fenty, is also on the DC Supply Schedule for CBE’s. His office is in Maryland, though by law CBE’s must have a DC office and/or residence.


Open Letter to Chancellor Michelle Rhee
Erich Martel,

[This letter and its attachments are a “protected disclosure” (DC Code 1-615.51).] I am outraged that you would permit Instructional Superintendent John Davis to involuntarily transfer me from Woodrow Wilson H.S. to an off-budget assignment at Phelps ACE H.S. ( on transparently fabricated grounds of my “significant educational philosophy differences with the Wilson H.S. administration” and then to besmirch my decades-long commitment and contributions to students and colleagues at Wilson H.S. and throughout DCPS by affirming that action as being “in the best interests of DCPS.”

The involuntary transfer came after I sent several “protected disclosures” (DC Code 1-615.51) describing mismanagement and other violations at Wilson H.S. to Ms. Henderson, to Mr. Davis, and to you and which I made for the purpose of correction. Each one described actions by one or more members of the Wilson H.S. administration that undermined the learning environment at Wilson H.S. The action by Mr. Davis is, therefore, an act of retaliation, as defined by law. (My reports were in compliance with the DC Whistleblower Reinforcement Act, which Chancellor Rhee E-mailed all principals and teachers on April 29, 2009, to inform us of our responsibility to report waste, fraud, and mismanagement the DC Office of the Inspector General.)

In this report, I am making requests and reporting additional violations: fraud, cronyism, and serious allegations of improper behavior by DCPS employees and abdication of their responsibilities for supervising 88 students on a class trip. Everything I am reporting would not have happened, if Mr. Cahall held his subordinates accountable, if Mr. Davis held Mr. Cahall accountable, if you and Ms. Henderson held Mr. Davis accountable, and if Mayor Fenty held you accountable. At Wilson H.S., that failure has resulted in cronyism and private arrangements that have had a depressing effect on student learning and a chilling effect on teacher morale.

Our school has one of the most accomplished and dedicated faculties in the city; yet fundamental academic decisions are made behind closed doors by an inner circle with little or no classroom experience. The results show on DC CAS, SAT, and AP results. 

You know from previous investigation requests that I have made that my reports are accurate and well documented: (Gardiner, Kamya Report, 2003: Wilson HS Class of 2002), (DC OIG, 2007: Wilson HS Class of 2006).

I am requesting that you immediately:

A. Rescind my transfer from Woodrow Wilson H.S. and, effective immediately, restore me whole to my original, budgeted position as Social Studies teacher at Woodrow Wilson H.S. with the schedule I was due to have prior to the involuntary transfer: two sections of World History 2; two sections of AP US History; one section each semester of DC History and Government

B. Request that the Office of the Inspector-General of DC conduct an investigation into the role of members of the Wilson HS staff and administration and central office supervisors who approved or had any role in approving the Wilson HS senior class trip to the Bahamas during four school days, April 12-15, 2010, which I reported with names and details to you and to Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson on April 15, 2010, specifically:

1. Misrepresentation of the excursion by the Assistant Principal to teachers and parents as an educational “field trip”;

2. Permitting students who were failing classes and who had large numbers of unexcused class absences (homeroom and subject teachers gave me the details that I reported to you: eight students had more than two hundred class absences; another ten had over one hundred unexcused absences)

3. Removing students from AP classes three weeks prior to their national AP exams;

4. Participation on this excursion of seven staff members, who were thus absent from their assigned responsibilities during school time: Assistant Principal, one teacher, four support staff, one former member of the support staff who was still on budget. Note: No parents were included

5. The role of the Wilson HS principal in approving this excursion;

6. The role of Instructional Superintendent John Davis, the principal’s direct supervisor, or other DCPS officials and their designees in approving this trip (all trips over thirty miles must be approved by the instructional superintendent).

7. The results of any investigations conducted under your authority into my reports of the above.

C. Request that the Office of the Inspector General of DC conduct an investigation into the role of members of the Wilson HS staff and administration and central office supervisors who approved or had any role in approving the above referenced Wilson HS senior class trip to the Bahamas in light of the following allegations made by some students to teachers (Because of the nature of the allegations, this is an urgent request for an immediate investigation). (Please Note: The assistant principal and the six DCPS employees who were on this excursion were legally responsible for the supervision and safety of all students during the time they were placed in her charge to the time they were released back to their parents or guardians.) (Note: These are reports that students told teachers, who in turn told me; they are being reported as allegations to be investigated. They have not been confirmed by me.)

Students said that:

1. Students were unsupervised and allowed to go off on their own

2. Students reported sexual activity

3. Many students consumed alcohol; the legal drinking age is 18, but was not enforced. (Approximately half of the students on the excursion were under the age of 18.) Some reportedly were so drunk that they could not walk straight

4. There were reports of inappropriate behavior between supervising adults and students.

5. Prior to their return to Washington, the Assistant Principal told students not to tell anyone what went on.

D. Request that the Office of the Inspector General of DC conduct an investigation into your response and that of your subordinates to my “protected disclosure” of the senior class trip in my April 15th report to you, including the role of Instructional Superintendent John Davis and WHS Principal Peter Cahall and possible others in:

1. Approving the excursion. Did they check on students’ status at Wilson HS: attendance, truancy, tardiness, etc.; class grades; readiness for the upcoming AP exams? If they did not check, why didn’t they? Note: in DC STARS, an administrator can run a quick report that would quickly extract grades, unexcused absences, etc. for students whose names were submitted. Why wasn’t that done?

2. Responding to my reporting of these facts to you. At an SCAC-Administration meeting on April 29, Mr. Cahall said to me (Building Representative) and SCAC members that there will be no more class trips during school time. He very angrily read a letter, which he said was from the DCPS Counsel. I asked for a copy, but he refused. In other words, as a result of my reporting this trip to you, some action was taken. On May 3, 2010, Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson E-mailed me and wrote that I should have taken the matter up with Mr. Cahall, then with Mr. Davis, before reporting to her.

3. Failure to report the information I sent you to the parents and guardians of these students;

4. Failure to recognize the obvious: the senior class trip was an excuse for an inside clique at Wilson HS to take a vacation together on school time and at the expense of students, some of whom were our most vulnerable students, desperately in need of mature, professional role models.

E. Request that the DC OIG investigate the existence of collusion between the Wilson H.S. administration and individuals in the Department of Human Resources in the commission of fraud in personnel placements and step awards between the Wilson HS administration and the Department of Human Resources in hiring decisions and in the assignment salary steps to favored individuals:

F. Request that the DC OIG investigate athletic violations I reported

1. Ineligible students approved to play several sports, including varsity basketball, varsity football, track, etc.

2. Assignment of unqualified staff to extra-duty coaching position that require a bachelor’s degree.

3. Assignment of the former ET10 Athletic Director … to the social studies position that was created by involuntarily transferring me.

This smells of a corrupt arrangement. I reported to you that Wilson HS had ineligible players, including five-year players, because their eligibility forms were either not properly signed or the process was ignored. Eligibility forms require the signatures of the coach, the athletic director, and the principal.

G. Investigate the Practice of Falsified IMPACT Observations Reports by Assistant Principal.

1. During the SY2008-09 school year, Ms. — failed to observe over forty teachers, because she attempted to do the observations after the June 5th deadline.

2. For my first principal observation (November 25, 2009), she gave me scores averaging 3.11 in our morning post-observation conference; in the afternoon, she sent an E-mail that she had made a mistake and was going to lower the scores to 2.56. After several protests to Kate Wheeler and the threat of a grievance, the original score was restored. I am requesting an investigation into whether this attempted lowering was the result of collusion with someone else.

3. At least two teachers were given IMPACT evaluations, even though the assistant principal did not observe them.

Sincerely, Erich Martel, Social Studies. Currently assigned to Phelps ACE H.S. to a non-budget position (so that it will be easier to remove me when equalization occurs).


Baseball Stadium
Ron Drake,

Can someone answer the following questions regarding the tax and ownership structure of the new baseball stadium:

1) What were the District’s annual real estate tax receipts from the property prior to the District’s taking the property for the new baseball stadium? 2) How is the title now held to the stadium and underlying land? 3) Are the stadium and underlying land currently on the District real estate tax rolls? If so, what are the annual real estate tax receipts? If not, why not? What is the resulting amount of real estate tax revenue lost annually? 4) Do the owners of the baseball team pay District of Columbia income tax? If not, why not? 5) Can the baseball stadium and underlying land be sold to a private entity and returned to the real estate tax rolls, and the District’s bonded indebtedness reduced? If not, why not? 6) If the baseball stadium can be sold, what would be the resulting real estate tax revenue benefit and bond rating improvement to the District? 7) If the baseball stadium cannot be sold, why was no provision negotiated to allow for such disposition?


Potential Personals Ad to Appear in the NY Post?
Frank Winstead,

Threesome seeks fourth, fifth, etc. We are IFTM-EC (Incumbent First Time Mayor, East Coast), DT -LCC (Dominant Teacher, Left Coast Curious) and TJSM-NC (Trans-Jurisdictional Sado-Masochist, Non-Congressional). You are MSI-RVDC (Manhattan Submissive Independent, registered to vote in DC). Role playing as a Democrat required. DCPS-positive status accepted. Come party with us on September 14, buses from NYC Penn Station to polling sites will leave hourly. Free food and beverages en route. Will help with all expenses.

Tentative: Write-in party for November 2.


DPW Services on Labor Day
Kevin Twine,

The DC Department of Public Works has announced how services will be affected in observance of Labor Day on Monday, September 6. Trash Collection: there will be no trash and recycling collections. Trash and recycling collections will “slide” to the next day for the remainder of the week. For example, Monday’s trash and recycling collections will be made on Tuesday and Tuesday’s collections will be made on Wednesday. In neighborhoods with twice-weekly trash collections, Monday and Thursday collections will be made Tuesday and Friday. Collections normally made on Tuesday and Friday, 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. Due to projected poor air quality and temperatures in the 90’s, trash and recycling collection will begin at 6:00 a.m. each day this week (August 30-September 3).

Parking Enforcement: on Monday, September 6, DPW will suspend enforcement of parking meters, residential parking, and rush hour lane restrictions. It also will suspend towing of abandoned vehicles. Ft. Totten/Household Hazardous/Electronic Waste Collection and Shredding: Ft. Totten Transfer Station will be closed on Monday, September 6, in observance of the holiday and will reopen Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. for residents to bring their trash and bulk items. Ft. Totten will be open on Saturday, September 4 for normal Saturday operations including Household Hazardous Waste/E-cycling/Shredding from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Other services suspended for Labor Day include scheduled street and alley cleaning and nuisance abatement. All services will resume Tuesday, September 7.

To view DPW’s trash and recycling holiday schedule for the remainder of the year, visit and select “Education and Outreach” then “Brochures and Fact Sheets,” and then “2010 Trash and Recycling Collections Slide Guide.”


DMV Online
Kevin B. Twine,

With over thirty online transactions and mail alternatives, there is rarely a reason to visit the DC Department of Motor Vehicles in person unless you are a new resident or purchase a new vehicle. Take a look at some of the many things you can do online at 1) Need to renew your vehicle registration? This transaction can no longer be done in-person, but must be done either online or by mail. 2) Need to renew your driver license or ID card? If you didn’t renew online or by mail during your last renewal period, you can do so either online or by mail. 3) Has your driver license, ID card, or vehicle registration been expired for less than ninety days or is it about to expire? Not to worry; instead of making a last-minute DMV visit, renew online and print the certificate to extend your credential by 45 days. 4) Did you lose or have your DMV credentials stolen? Prior to making a trip to DMV, try obtaining a duplicate driver license, ID card, title, or vehicle registration online. 5) Need to pay a parking, photo, or moving ticket? Save the trip and postage stamp and pay online? 6) Do you sometimes not receive a ticket on your vehicle and later find out the ticket has doubled? Eliminate that problem by signing up online for our e-mail ticket alert service. 7) Need a copy of your driver record? As long as you don’t need a certified copy, check out our online transaction or request it by mail. 8) Need to schedule a hearing for a minor moving violation and photo tickets? Access our scheduling calendar online. 9) Want to verify if your driver license or vehicle registration is currently valid? Try our online driver license and registration verification transactions. 10) Did you recently move and need to change your address with DMV? Not a problem; just use our new online change of address feature. 11) Do you want your name on your license tag? You can go online to check and see if the personalized tag of your choice is available for ordering. 12) Are you waiting for your lien holder to send DC DMV your out-of-state title so you can title and register your vehicle? No need to contact the Call Center for the status; you can access the information online. 12) Do you want to avoid waiting at the Inspection Station? You can schedule an appointment online. 13) Do you need to resolve an insurance lapse, even if you may owe an insurance lapse fee? Skip the trip and do this transaction online. 14) Is your driver license suspended due to failure to pay a ticket or for some other reason? Check online and see if you’re eligible to reinstate your driver license online.

Please call 311 or 737-4404 if you have additional questions.


Nine Negative Mayoral Personality, Attitude and Character Traits
Alvin C. Frost,

No person, let alone a mayoral candidate, is a perfect human being. Each of the current candidates for DC mayor has an assortment of good, bad, or so-so personality, attitude, and character traits. We each arrive at our present selves due to our ancestral genes, our family upbringings, our extended families and community, our early experiences and our educations. We have varying interests, capabilities, and skills that we bring to everything that we do in life. The more positive, substantive, and supportive our early years, the more productive, effective, and successful we become in later life. This past Sunday, I wrote in themail about nine necessary mayoral personality, attitude, and character traits. Today, I write about the exact opposite, things that we don’t want to see in a mayor. Because I spent so much time detailing those positive traits, I will not spend quite so much time on describing the following negative traits:

1) Subjectivity is the substitution of personal desires, interests, and perspectives in place of a basis in reality, and it cannot be verified using concrete facts and figures. Subjectivity is valid in personal or private realities, but not where public realities must be aligned with objective reality. 2) Capriciousness is defined as being governed or characterized by caprice, impulsiveness, or unpredictable behavior or actions. Synonyms are fickle, inconsistent, mercurial, temperamental, and volatile. 3) Irresponsibility is often defined as being careless, not answerable to higher authority (neither God, nor the DC council or the US Supreme Court), said or done with no sense of responsibility, or lacking a sense of responsibility. 4) Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality. The term is used, usually pejoratively, to describe thinking and actions that are, or appear to be, less useful or more illogical than other more rational alternatives. Irrational behaviors of individuals include taking offense or becoming angry about a situation that has not yet occurred, expressing emotions exaggeratedly, maintaining unrealistic expectations, or engaging in irresponsible conduct such as disorganization or extravagance. 5) Inconsiderate — lacking regard for the rights or feelings of others; selfish — concerned chiefly, or only, with yourself and your advantage to the exclusion of others; tactless or untactful — lacking or showing a lack of what is fitting and considerate in dealing with others; or showing a lack of careful thought. 6) Impulseness is a personality trait characterized by the inclination of an individual to initiate behavior without adequate forethought as to the consequences of their actions, acting on the spur of the moment. 7) Non-communicative — lacking an interest, ability, or understanding of the critical need to communicate effectively and openly to, and with, others, on a regular basis. 8) Lack of conscientiousness is the trait of being lackadaisical and careless, or the quality of acting without true concern for others. It includes such elements as a lack of self-discipline, carelessness, a lack of attention to detail, or organization, etc. 9) Lacks of Emotional Awareness — without emotions, and an awareness and understanding of them, it’s impossible to build, or maintain, strong, healthy, lasting, mature relationships. The feelings of others will escape you, unless you’re familiar with your own emotions. But lose control of your emotions, and you’ll descend into confusion, isolation and doubt.

As I said earlier, it would be very difficult to find a mayoral candidate who strongly presented either all positive or all negative personality, attitude and character traits. Each candidate is an admixture of both good, negative, and not so good traits. It is up to each voter to decide which mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly would be most effective in reducing the impact of problems in the District, and, correspondingly, improving the good that is to be widely found throughout the city. It is distressing to see, hear, and read about the demonization or deification of the candidates. Remember, they are neither that good nor that bad.


Re: It Isn’t About Race
Frederick H. Blake,

I think you went too far [themail, August 29]. As a transplanted African-American New Yorker who lived in the District over 25 years, the fabric of DC’s AA community isn’t monolithic and has a deep and proud political and cultural history — some of which is not readily available to non-African Americans. While I generally agree with your comments that cut across DC’s racial divide, perhaps the gulf that existed due to the city’s segregated past have lessened, but they have not entirely disappeared. However, race is only one key determinant in this mayoral election, and the abrasiveness of the Fenty administration rancors across demographics and may overcome the so called political wisdom of media pundits.


Unfortunately Money Does Count
Wendy Blair,

I wish you were correct [themail, September 29] — but Fenty is going to have enough money to get out the vote in a big way. Gray, not so much.

It does boil down to getting people to vote.


You Are Right
Sarah Campbell,

Thank you for saying [themail, August 29] what too many reporters now are too inexperienced to understand.



National Building Museum Events, September 8
Johanna Weber,

September 8, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Smart Growth: The HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Beth Osborne, USDOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy; Shelley Poticha, director for HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities; and John Frece, director of EPA’s Smart Growth Program, review the first year of the inter-agency partnership. The partnership is focused on ensuring that housing and transportation goals are met while simultaneously protecting the environment, promoting equitable development, and addressing the challenges of climate change. Free; registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To change the E-mail address for your subscription to themail, use the Update Profile/Email address link below in the E-mail edition. To unsubscribe, use the Safe Unsubscribe link in the E-mail edition. An archive of all past issues is available at

All postings should be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.


Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)