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September 5, 2010


Dear Obstructed:

Have you heard about Attorney General Peter Nickles’ latest attempt to obstruct and delay an investigation of corruption and cronyism? On August 19, Councilmember Yvette Alexander wrote to DC Auditor Deborah Nichols, asking her to investigate the grants and contracts that DC government gave to Peaceoholics, under the leadership of Fenty pals Ron Moten and Jauhar Abraham. In response, Nichols requested documents from several city agencies and departments — the Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Human Services, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, the Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, the Justice Grants Administration, the District of Columbia Public Schools, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Office of Contracting and Procurement — asking for any contracts and grants that they had given to Peaceoholics, Inc. On September 2, Nickles sent her a letter saying that he was taking charge of responses from all agencies and would review them for any “potential privilege issues that may be implicated.” Fenty, Nickles, Moten, and others involved in the Fenty 2010 campaign obviously don’t want any Auditor’s report to be issued before the primary election is over, and Nickles is intervening to prevent the departments and agencies from providing the Auditor with the information that she needs to complete her report speedily. Undoubtedly, Nickles will then complain that the council is dragging out its investigation unnecessarily.


In last Wednesday’s issue of themail, I wrote about a video that had been posted on the We Love DC web site,, that contended that Nickles did not live in the apartment in the Lansburgh apartment house that he claims as his legal address, but that he in fact still lives at his horse farm in Great Falls, Virginia. The video itself was embedded from YouTube, and by sometime late Thursday morning or early Thursday afternoon it was pulled from YouTube for an unspecified “terms of service” violation. After Lea Adams informed me of that in her message posted below, I started corresponding with Tom Bridge, who had posted the video on We Love DC, and found out that Tom and I have two basic disagreements about the story. First, Bridge thinks that the person who made the video “stalked” Nickles, and speculates that YouTube took down the video because it depicted stalking. I don’t think it fits any legal definition of stalking. The one clip of Nickles, showing him walking from the Wilson Building and getting in his automobile, is taken on a public street, in plain public view, so there was no invasion of his privacy. The clip in Great Falls shows the street address on a sign, and the car in the driveway. Nickles’ address is a matter of public record, and the shot of the house and driveway appears to have been taken from the public road in front of the house. This is no more than Google Maps does when it photographs houses from the street. There’s no indication that the videographer stalked Nickles, followed Nickles on his drives, or confronted Nickles. In other words, the tape shows ungentlemanly behavior on the part of the videographer, but it’s the kind of ungentlemanly behavior that newspaper and television reporters engage in all the time. The video by itself doesn’t prove that Nickles lives in Great Falls, but it shows enough to make his residency a legitimate question.

The second disagreement between Bridge and me is over whether there should be a residency requirement for top government officials. He wrote me: “In the end, why does it matter where he lives? Does that have professional repercussions over his law practice for the district? If we want him to understand crime, why not require that he live in the worst neighborhood in DC? Perhaps you can explain to me why you think it’s important that the Attorney General be a resident of the District and not a suburb or exurb of his choosing? I don’t have a strong need for Nickles to live in DC, only work here every day. I do think that proper politicians (i.e., elected ones) should have to live in their jurisdictions. I don’t feel the same way about appointed officials, and believe there’s a significant difference between the roles and responsibilities of both, and think that ought to be noted in your piece.” What do you think? Do you care whether the top appointed officials in DC government — officials like the Attorney General, police chief, fire chief, and chancellor — live in the city? Would you like to have the law changed to let top DC officials live in Maryland and Virginia, or elsewhere?

By the way, in case you want to see it, I’ve posted the video at or at 


Erich Martel’s reassignment from Wilson High School, discussed in the last issue of themail, is the subject of an article in the Washington Post ( and a blog posting (, both by education writer Jay Matthews. For background materials on the issue, go to

Gary Imhoff


Counting Votes
Dorothy Brizill,

On Saturday morning, September 4, Mayor Fenty held a press conference and political rally with Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee at the Broad Branch Market across from Lafayette Elementary School in Chevy Chase. Despite an E-mail alert sent to Fenty supporters through the District, urging them to attend the press conference and to “wear green” (Fenty’s campaign color), the 150 attendees were almost exclusively white Ward 3 residents. After Rhee was introduced to the crowd by Councilmember Muriel Bowser as the District’s school chancellor, and after Mayor Fenty referred to her repeatedly as the chancellor, she prefaced her remarks by stating that she was attending the rally as a “private citizens.” In her remarks, Rhee went out of her way to appeal to the basest fears of those in attendance. First, she explained how one of her daughters, who is attending Alice Deal Middle School this year, has a classmate who had transferred there from the private Maret School. According to Rhee, the student had transferred to Deal because her mother “was tired of paying $30,000 a year” in tuition. Rhee went on to tell the assembled parents and students that school reform “is not done yet. The only way we are going to continue the progress we’ve seen is to reelect this man here,” Adrian Fenty.

After the press conference, I approached Rhee and asked her if she were violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from using their official authority or influence to interfere with an election, or from using their official titles when engaging in political activity. In response, Rhee reiterated that she was attending the political rally as a private citizen, and said that “I consulted with my lawyer, and he told me it was okay to be here as a private citizen.” When I tried to press her as to who her attorney was (e.g., a DCPS attorney; an attorney from Perkins Coie, which is the legal counsel for the Fenty 2010 Committee, or Peter Nickles), she refused to answer, turned her back, and simply walked away. John Falcicchio, Fenty’s campaign guru, overheard my conversation. He indicated that he was not familiar with the Hatch Act, but said he would get back to me with the name of the attorney. To date, Mayor Fenty and his campaign, in typical fashion, have not provided the lawyer’s name.

Election footnote: on Wednesday, September 8, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) will hold a hearing on applications for three new political parties — The Black Watch Party, the Dred Scott Party, and the DC Independent Party — in the District. The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. In Room 280 North, 441 4th street, NW. This will likely be the final public meeting of the Board prior to the September 14 primary. Anyone who has questions or concerns about the operation of the early voting centers or the primary day election may want to attend and raise them with the Board. If you have any questions regarding voting, the home page of the BOEE ( has been redesigned to provide basic information on “where can I vote” and “how I can vote.”


Nickles-Watch Invisible
Lea Adams,

Against my better judgment, I clicked on your link to the “We Love DC” site to determine if my assumptions (and those of most pundits) about Peter Nickles’ faux residency in DC was really faux. When I tried to check out the snooper’s findings, I was told that “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.” Alas. I’ll have to stop minding Nickles’ business and just keep looking at the issues to find out how he’s minding mine. Thanks to themail@dcwatch, at least I’m not in the dark. It doesn’t take a postman knocking twice to know whose there, and where Mr. N. hangs the hat he actually wears.


Stupid Mayor Tricks
Sue Hemberger,

ANC 3E spent two years fighting to keep Mayor Fenty from replacing Janney Elementary School’s soccer field with a condo building. And, despite the fact that both our school and library modernizations are now fully funded and in progress, that fight still may not be over. This July, as the council was getting ready to leave for its summer recess, the mayor submitted a change-order that removed the funding for previously promised and planned underground parking for Janney teachers and staff. This document also indicates that the school’s design “has been structured in such a manner so as to not impede development opportunities on the parcels adjoining the school site” (e.g., the school’s soccer field).

August renderings of the project confirm that the modernization has been planned as if the playing field were not part of the school’s campus. No educational facilities (interior or exterior) are located on it, and it is shown covered with trees which, of course, eliminates or severely compromises its use for PE. A new smaller soccer field has been relocated (to the only part of campus that abuts single family homes). Basically, the strategy appears to be to take a significant portion of Janney’s campus that has always been heavily used and turn it into a wasteland, the better to declare it surplus. Post-modernization, Fenty clearly hopes to sell part of Janney’s campus off. This is (as it has always been) a stupid idea in a situation where school capacity is being expanded and buildings are added. Janney’s growing student body needs more — not less — exterior programmatic space (both for recess and for PE). And, of course, opening a brand new library only to re-close it a year or two later to build housing on top is pretty harebrained as well.

Alerted to this situation, both Councilmember Cheh and Chairman Gray have vowed to restore the previously promised underground parking (removed, I suspect, to create leverage for a public private venture — otherwise what would a residential developer have to offer at that site where a new school and new library have already been constructed with public funds)? Gray’s campaign manager has also indicated that Chairman Gray is not interested in seeing residential development on the school’s campus. I’m really tired of watching our public lands being sold off (at fire sale prices with additional subsidies attached) with little regard for current and future public facilities needs. And that’s another reason I won’t be voting for Adrian Fenty.


Jonetta’s City Paper Article
Bryce A. Suderow,

For those of you who are interested in finding out more about the mayor’s race, I urge you to read Jonetta Barras’ article, “Recruiting Diversity,” in last Thursday’s City Paper,


So Now What?
Roger Scott,

I would like the asked the obvious next question, “So now what?” For weeks and months now I have been reading about Fenty’s blatant cronyism. We all know that Peter Nickles does not live in the District. We have watched Michelle Rhee rip the heart out of DCPS, fry it up, and eat it on a picnic table in Rock Creek Park. “So now what?” This group of city officials, along with others, writes their own rules and largely ignores the established ones. People have protested, officials have quit, employees have sent letters, written blogs, picketed, marched, rallied . . . but nothing has changed. These are the people in power. There is no one above them to hold them accountable until the next election cycle. Is that it? Are the people virtually powerless to stop this madness. It sure appears so? The mayor, the Attorney General for the city, and the head of the school system seem to be able to do what ever they want to do, since they have each other’s backs. The city counsel has not even stepped in to right the wrongs. “So now what?”

Like many of you, I did my thirteen years in DCPS. I’m a better person because of the awesome teachers and principals who loved us and believed in us. It’s heartbreaking to see what has happened to this system and this city. Don’t get me wrong; sure, some change was needed. But it needed to be a change in the right direction and for the right reason. Unless of course you are going with the “Burn it to the Ground and Rebuild” philosophy. So it appears to me that the only power we have left is our vote. Our voices have been largely ignored, our cries of foul and unfair have been ignored, our letters get shredded, and all the while the child, the citizens, the employee, the taxpayer, and justice itself suffers.

My question stands. “So now what?” What can you and I do to stop this? Do you sue the mayor in Federal court? Do you ask Congress to investigate corruption? Or is the ballot our last hope? If that is the case, then this kind of thing can and will happen again. Fellow readers, this is not a rant. I am seriously asking the question, “So now what?” Aren’t you tired of reading and writing about another teacher, another land grab, another school closing, another Freedom of Information request for a public document, another city contract, and the list goes on and on and on? Could someone please tell me, tell us, tell the teachers, tell the children, tell the taxpayers of this city, how do we stop this madness? So now what?


The DC Three-Dimensional Major Issue Matrix
Alvin C. Frost,

Washington, DC, is a unique American city. In many ways, it is similar to the ancient Greek city-states, such as Athens, Sparta, and Thebes, a small area surrounded on all sides by competing, and often warring, states. As a result, their continued existence was always in question, much like Washington, DC. The city was controlled entirely by the federal government until limited Home Rule began in 1974, and there are now still suggestions to have DC returned to Maryland, which ceded this land to begin the City of Washington, DC, in 1800. The Virginia portion that was ceded to help create Washington, DC, was retroceded to Virginia in 1846, just in time for Richmond to become the capital of the Confederacy (CSA) during the Civil War.

President Lincoln freed the slaves in Washington, DC, in 1862, nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1860, DC had a Black population of about 14,340, or 19.1 percent, out of a population of 75,080, directly across the Potomac from where slaves where still being bought and sold in Alexandria. Washington, DC, was established for the sole purpose of protecting the Congress from being at risk by being located within any one of the original thirteen colonies, and therefore at the mercy of that state. Of course, the federal government, especially the Congress, is no longer threatened by what any local group of citizens or state government can do to them now. That theoretical threat is still used to limit the political rights and future opportunities of the of almost six hundred thousand US citizens

Today, there are three major issue/constituency groups: 1) the people, 2) the DC government, and 3) Washington, DC. In America, government is, theoretically, dependent upon the consent of the people, not the other way around. The difficulty in managing such a complicated city-state is exacerbated by: 1) the extremely diverse population, 2) limited home rule; 3) the high incidence and concentration of poverty; 4) the congressional restrictions on taxing non-residents who work and/or earn income in Washington, DC, and 5) the ignorance and/or indifference of most Americans to the plight of DC residents, who are treated as something less than fully American.

While there are numerous issues in DC that require, no, demand, that the District government address, mediate and/or resolve, I have identified eleven major issues that I believe DC voters should use to compare mayoral candidates, in regards to their: 1) understanding of; 2) ideas, plans, and promises to ameliorate, and; 3) their educational, employment, and managerial preparation to attack these issues/problems/concerns. The eleven major issues, as identified by me, are: 1) jobs/training; 2) housing/utilities; 3) health/hunger/nutrition; 4) crime/criminal justice; 5) education/training; 6) poverty/welfare; 7) transportation/metro; 8) infrastructure/roads; 9) voting representation; 10) legal and fiscal autonomy, and 11) the economy.

Each one of these major issues should be looked at in a number of different ways, such as: 1) some expressed need, desire, or goal for the issue; 2) a statement of the issue; 3) a definition of the affected group or population; 4) the consequences if the issue is not resolved, and; 5) a detailed plan to resolve the issue. Now, one way to develop a better understanding of each of the above elements would be to construct a three-dimensional issue/decision matrix that would include the three major constituencies, the eleven major issues, and the five-level approach to resolving each issue, or a 165-cell matrix. And, no, I am not the 1, not Neo! We do not live in the Matrix, but the Matrix can be used for good.

The voters of Washington, DC, and the candidates for mayor must begin to use more sophisticated tools to better understand the entire situation, the problem, the resources, the plans, and promises, if we are ever to develop effective and permanent, or, at least, long-lasting, solutions. The people with the greatest need are much more dependent upon DC government for assistance than those individuals who have college educations, professional careers, and financial resources. My comments are much more oriented to those of greatest need, as opposed to those who want an extra cherry, or two, or three, or four, on the top of their already very abundant sundaes. Or, would you care to share?

There is no one major or predominate issue out of the eleven that I indicated above. Each of these issues, and many others that I did not list, is dependent upon and/or interdependent upon many, if not all, of the other issues that I listed. Just to take one random issue, education, for example: a child is much more than the few hours that are spent in the classroom. No matter how new the school building, or enthusiastic the teachers, that cannot, and can never, do for the child what joblessness, homelessness, hunger, crime, and poverty can do to the child while not under the control and influence of the school system. Gunshots and sirens throughout the night does not help Johnny to have a good night, or to enhance his preparation toward learning at school the next day.

In addition, teaching children how to take tests does not necessarily translate into critical reasoning or computational skills that will be required for the rest of that child’s life. For many individuals, the only tests that are taken after completing the educational process, are: 1) eye tests, 2) driver’s tests, or 3) professional certification tests. Our children are much too important to continue experimenting on. The biggest determinant of success in school for a child is the family and community that that child is raised in. If the family and community are financially secure, educated, loving, and supportive, then that child is much more likely to do well in life, than a child who has to daily deal with the consequences of joblessness, homelessness, hunger, crime, and poverty.

While I have neither the time nor the space in this forum, to complete the matrix that I envisioned above, I do believe that this can be an effective tool that the people, the mayoral candidates, the DC government, and Washington, DC, needs to begin using to decide on the best strategies that could be implemented to deal with the extremely complex situation that is Washington, DC. On the popular PBS kids program, “Sid, the Science Kid,” Sid is taught the rudiments of the scientific method, to “observe, compare, and predict.” Now, if Sid the Science Kid can attempt to be so objective and rational, can the adults of Washington, DC, attempt to be any less objective and rational?



DPR Releases Labor Day Schedule, September 6
John A. Stokes,

On Labor Day, Monday, September 6, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will open a select number of recreation centers and aquatic facilities. Three sites will be utilized for Early Voting. All other DPR facilities will be closed in observance of the holiday.

The following recreation and community centers will be open 10:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 6: Ward 1, Banneker Recreation Center, 2500 Georgia Avenue, NW, 202-673-6861; Ward 2, Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 7th Street, NW, 202-671-4794; Ward 3, Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 202-282-2204; Ward 4, Emery Recreation Center, 5801 Georgia Avenue, NW, 202-576-3211; Ward 5, Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE, 202-576-9238 (indoor pool will be closed); Ward 6, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th Street, NE, 202-698-3075; Ward 7, Deanwood Community Center, 1350 49th Street, NE, 202-671-3078; Ward 8, Bald Eagle Recreation Center, 100 Joliet Street, SW, 202-645-3960.

The following aquatic centers will be open 12:00 noon-6:00 p.m. on Monday, September 6: Anacostia, 1800 Anacostia Drive, SE, 202-724-1441; Banneker, 2500 Georgia Avenue, NW, 202-673-2121; Deanwood Indoor Pool, 1350 49th Street, NE, 202-671-3078; East Potomac, 972 Ohio Drive, SW, 202-727-6523; Francis, 25th and N Streets, NW, 202-727-3285; Harry Thomas, Sr., 1743 Lincoln Road, NE, 202-541-7499; Jelleff, 3265 S Street, NW, 202-462-1317; Takoma Aquatic Center (open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.), 300 Van Buren Street, NW, 202-282-0381; Upshur, 4300 Arkansas Avenue, NW, 202-576-8661; Volta Park, 1555 34th Street, NW, 202-282-0381.

The following locations will be open for early voting from 8:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. from Monday, September 6 through Saturday, September 11, excluding Sunday: Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE, 202-576-9238; Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 202-282-2204; Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (no recreational programming on Saturday, September 4, through Monday, September 6), 701 Mississippi Avenue, SE, 202-645-6242. For more details regarding early voting, please visit the DC Board of Elections and Ethics web site,


The HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities, 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 interagency 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


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