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October 3, 2010


Dear Harassed Citizens:

Douglas Neumann, below, brings up a point we haven’t discussed recently in themail, “the recurrent harassment one feels as a resident from the city government on an almost daily basis.” This is what I’ve termed the predatory government, the government that’s out to get its citizens in innumerable ways, that exists to make daily life in the city more inconvenient and difficult and expensive. It’s a result of a legislature that feels it is its duty to pass a few hundred new laws every years, regulating its citizens’ lives in ever more petty ways. It’s the result of an administration that wields its power with little or no regard for the weight of its impact on individuals’ lives.

Here’s a suggestion for a future Gray administration and for a Brown-led city council that will inherit a tight city budget with its reserves spent down by its free-spending predecessors. You can’t start new government programs and expand existing ones, because you don’t have the money. Make a virtue of that by cooperating on an ambitious program of repealing existing laws and regulations, simplifying the DC Code and Municipal Regulations and rationalizing them, getting rid of those that don’t make sense any more and that people experience as just oppressive. Don’t cut government expenses by cutting every program across the board by ten or fifteen percent. Instead, get rid of entire government programs and government contractors that are ineffective and unnecessary, and spare from cuts the necessary programs that work well.

And stop the harassment. People will appreciate that more than any expensive new government program that you can’t afford to fund, anyway.

Gary Imhoff


Welcome to DC
Douglas Neumann,

Two recent short visits to DC brought back memories of the recurrent harassment one feels as a resident from the city government on an almost daily basis. In August I flew into Dulles, rented a car, and stopped at a friend’s house in Palisades to spend the night before proceeding to the Delaware Shore. My car was parked on the street from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. the next morning, and I was surprised to find what looked like a ticket on the windshield. It was not a ticket but only a warning that my rental had been found parked on the street a second time within six months and that I should register the car in DC. Maybe it is too much to expect DC parking enforcers to notice the bar code stickers on the windshield and realize that my vehicle was a rental; I was just glad that I wasn’t using the car the third time it was discovered parked on a DC street, which would have resulted in a ticket.

I received my ticket instead while passing through DC on my return from Delaware to Dulles. I made the mistake of parking at a meter that already had a quarter (or some other coin) jammed in the slot, preventing me from paying. I dutifully called in the meter information and was surprised to find a $25 ticket on my car ninety minutes later. I mailed in my appeal with the confirmation number of my phone call only to receive notice today that DDOT records do not show that my meter was broken. So there is not much for me to do except pay, taking responsibility for DDOT’s failure to keep accurate records.

I have lived in other US cities, but have never felt their governments were constantly trying to shake me down, as is the case in DC.


Let The WTU Races Begin
Candi Peterson,

Even though the May 2010 Washington Teachers’ Union officers election was hindered by the current ‘Hold Over’ union president, George Parker due to his failure to turn over the necessary documents to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), WTU members will finally be able to elect a new union president and a slate of officers. According to AFT, ballots will be mailed to members mid-October and must be returned by no later than October 24 to be counted on October 27.

AFT notified the Saunders slate this weekend that we have satisfied the requirements of the WTU Constitution and have been certified as official candidates in the upcoming union election. For information on our campaign, please visit our web site:


Politico Article on School Reform
Bryce A. Suderow,

The September 18 issue of Politico reveals that the national union of The American Federation of Teachers spent one million dollars to help Vincent Gray’s campaign and provided campaign volunteers to reach out to the DC community.

A friend of mine tells me that he received one political ad from the union that denied Fenty and Rhee were “reforming the system.” The ad featured a picture of six children sitting in a classroom. Four of them were white. This picture was a not very subtle way of implying that the “reform” was really an attempt by whites to take over the District schools. Here’s the link to Politico:


New York Times Article on Education
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabe gold dot com

“Waiting for Somebody,” Gail Collins, “Let’s talk for a minute about education. Already, I can see readers racing for the doors. This is one of the hardest subjects in the world to write about. Many, many people would rather discuss . . . anything else. Sports. Crazy Tea Party candidates. Crop reports.

“So kudos to the new documentary Waiting for Superman, for ratcheting up the interest level. It follows the fortunes of five achingly adorable children and their hopeful, dedicated, worried parents in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC, as they try to gain entrance to high-performing charter schools. Not everybody gets in, and by the time you leave the theater you are so sad and angry you just want to find something to burn down.”


Columnist Barras Is Way Off Base
Eric Woods,

Washington Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras is flat out wrong to call for an immediate decision on DCPS leadership, There is absolutely no need for Gray to rush his decision. Let him take his time to perform due diligence and identify someone he could work with to lead a real education reform effort. It is my hope that Gray would reject Rhee as Chancellor and continue the reform effort with a true educator that has actually walked in the shoes of a principal. Education reform in DC deserves far better than the Michelle Rhee brand.

I believe that people who want to see Rhee depart are smart enough to see past her smokescreens and the media sound bites and recognize that her brand of reform is not what this city needs. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 1) Is it enough to applaud test scores that are going up while the achievement gap between whites and blacks is simultaneously widening? 2) Are you willing accept implementation of reform strategies that would restrict hundreds of non-affluent, nonwhite students that live in every ward from attending high-performing schools such as Hardy MS? 3) How would you like it if your child’s poorly performing school was merged with another amid promises for a new building in two years only to find out later (quietly) that construction is many years away? 3) Are you in favor of parents and teachers having absolutely no input in the selection of a principal to lead your child’s school despite system requirements for inclusion? 4) Where is the focus on providing a quality education in the strategy of “teaching to the (standardized) test” at schools in non-affluent areas when core curriculum subjects of science and social studies are not being taught over nearly the entire school year? 5) How much integrity is demonstrated when a Chancellor provides murky and questionable justifications for teacher and principal firings or reassignments?

Barras talks about some blacks having “abandoned that imperative of quality education at all cost” as if they are so ignorant and uneducated that only truly trivial things command their attention. It seems disingenuous of her to later give them credit for being educated enough to “talk ad nauseum about policy” at the expense of the education of their children. Folks east of 16th Street have largely been shut out of the reform effort over the last three years, and exercised the only recourse they had on September 14. Rhee’s own actions undermined her efforts to bring reform that citizens in a democracy could live with.


Catania’s E-conomy Transformation Acts of 2000 and 2007: Inefficient, Ineffective, and Too Costly
Mai Abdul Rahman, Schwartzman for Council campaign manager,

In 2000, Councilmember–at-Large David Catania authored legislation that offered Information Technology (IT) businesses affordable facilities and tax incentives to relocate to DC. On his campaign web site he boasts that his E-conomy Transformation legislation offered IT companies “relocation cost credits, employee wage credits, lease guarantees, and . . . tax incentives,” Catania’s tax incentives include five-year abatements of property tax increases and 100 percent franchise tax exemption at a cost of more than $4 million annually in lost revenue. According to Gandhi, the DC Chief Financial Officer, Catania’s E-conomy Transformation Act of 2000 costs our city revenue losses and provides an expanded tax benefits to IT businesses already located and operating in DC. While according to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute his legislation failed to attract any new IT businesses to DC,

Gandhi’s warning withstanding and DC’s Fiscal Policy analysts’ call for effective assessment of the E-conomy Act of 2000 did not deter Catania to again in 2007 push to expand these tax incentives and extend tax benefits for 10 more years to IT companies, with provisions that included IT businesses that have already benefited from his 2000 E-conomy legislation. Meanwhile our city is facing critical budget cuts and a growing number of poor residents in need of social services while our tax revenues are dwindling. Our city needed Councilmember Catania to assess the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the E-conomy tax incentive both in 2000 and 2007 programs. To attempt to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our city tax relief measures and expenditures, to critically evaluate, modify, or eliminate DC tax cuts that are found to be ineffective so that our limited city resources can be used more productively.

Catania’s web site features a Colbert King quote which speaks of his intellect, Colbert’s opinion is very convincing. So, accordingly, Catania could have deliberately advanced tax legislation that could benefit both residents and businesses in the DC — but chose not to. Instead he continued to support ineffective E- economy tax cuts persuaded by his political leanings. Catania’s E-conomy Tax cuts to IT companies failed to attract IT companies to DC, while we lost more than $40 million in tax revenue since 2000, which otherwise could have been invested in infrastructure, service enhancements, affordable housing, homeless shelters, job training, and services for DC poor.


Good Police Work?
Jack McKay,

As Gary wrote [themail, September 29], solving crimes rarely involves high-tech forensics. Only two percent of solved homicides are solved by means of forensic evidence. The rest are solved either because the perpetrator is known from the start, or because somebody who knows who did it comes forward with that information. Robberies are tougher to solve than homicides because the victim and the perpetrator are invariably strangers, so it’s hard to find anyone who knows who did it and is willing to give the MPD that information. The clearance rate for homicides in the District is 60 percent, whereas the clearance rate for robberies is just 17.2 percent. Nationwide, cities of comparable size clear 21.5 percent of robberies. For years I’ve been asking why the District’s clearance rate is significantly lower than the nationwide average, but no good explanation has ever been offered. This suggests that we really could and should do better at putting robbers out of business, as well as discouraging others from undertaking that career choice.

A Fenty advocate, complaining bitterly about the outcome of the September primary, had this to say: “Mayor Fenty and Chief Lanier will also continue to work to make violent crime in DC a thing of the past.” Well now, is violent crime — and the majority of violent crimes are robberies — in decline in the District? Let’s look at the statistical record, comparing the number of robberies during the last three years of Chief Ramsey, to the robbery count during the four years of Chief Lanier’s tenure. Citywide, the number of robberies per year during the warm-weather months, May through September, averaged 1637 under Ramsey, 1859 under Lanier. Oops, that’s an increase of 14 percent. In Ward Four, where our unhappy Fenty-Lanier advocate lives, the robbery count is up a whopping 41 percent under Chief Lanier. It’s hard to see this as progress towards making “violent crime in DC a thing of the past.”

I know some fine police officers in the Metropolitan Police, including some in the top ranks. Mayor-to-be Vincent Gray won’t have to look far to find someone who will work at increasing the District’s robbery clearance rate, solving crimes and putting robbers out of business, and making real progress at reducing violent crime in the District. What we need is not Chief Lanier’s flashy “all hands on deck” stunts, but more resources directed towards increasing the District’s robbery clearance rate and so putting those violent criminals behind bars.



National Building Museum Events, October 5, 9
Johanna Weber,

October 5, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Book of the Month: Lot at the End of My Block. Join us in the Building Zone for an exciting exploration of Kevin Lewis’s story Lot at the End of My Block, an adventure of revising an empty space for something fun! Readings at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Free drop-in program. Recommended for ages three to five.

October 9, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Festival of the Building Arts. Future builders can watch live demonstrations, learn how to thatch a roof, design a building of the future from recycled materials, climb aboard a construction vehicle, and much more during the Museum’s annual, all-ages Festival of the Building Arts. Free drop-in program. No registration required. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station.


Planting with Casey Trees, October 9
Robin Diener,

Volunteers are needed for fall fun and green glee on Saturday, October 9. DCCA and Casey Trees are organizing a morning tree-planting in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Join us for a fun morning of coffee at 8:30 a.m., tree planting from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, and free lunch from noon until 1:00 p.m. We’ll convene at T Street Triangle Park at 8:45 a.m. Please RSVP to Nancy and Kathy


Capitol Hill Solar and Sustainable Home Fair and Tour, October 16
Jeffrey Johnson,

On Saturday, October 16, talk to Hill residents who went solar and tour solar and sustainable homes. Also learn about wind power, geothermal, organic cleaning, weatherization, green roofs, and rain gardens; see an electric scooter and car. More than thirty vendors will be on hand to explain the ins and outs of solar panels and discuss green products. The fair will be from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol Street, NE. The tour will be from noon to 4:00 p.m. Tour map and guide are $5 per family. Advanced purchase is available through the web or at Frager’s Hardware (1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE), Hill’s Kitchen (713 D Street, SE), Riverby Books (417 E. Capitol Street, SE), or Coldwell-Banker (605 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE). Guides will also be available at Eastern Market on October 9-10. For more information and details, go to


Dupont Circle House Tour, October 17
Robin Diener,

During the years I have known them, Debby Hanrahan and Phil Carney often mused about closing 17th Street for a neighborhood festival. The completion of Streetscape provided the opportunity to make their dream a reality by holding a community celebration to promote local business and allow neighbors to mingle in the middle of the road. Congratulations to all who worked on the first annual 17th Street Festival last Saturday. Estimates put the crowd at ten thousand, over the course of four hours. DCCA sponsored the Art Show featuring fifty-six local artists, whose booths lined the street for two full blocks. Artists were full of praise for the friendly and helpful atmosphere, the donated table rental and credit card terminal access, as well as the opportunity to meet the public and sell their work.

Special thanks to Vice-chairs Debby Hanrahan and Ron Riley, and committee members Phil Carney, Lucia Edmonds, Siobhan Gavagan, John Hanrahan, Monica Hernandez, Pam Moore, Kathy Nelick, and Victor Wexler. It was a pleasure to work with some of the visionaries of east Dupont.

Now, onward to a great 2010 House Tour. Reserve your tickets immediately for Sunday, October 17, in support of DCCA’s major fundraiser — the forty-third Annual Dupont Circle House Tour. Another visionary leader, Debbie Schreiber, has put together a sweeping tour of fourteen homes that show off modern urban living in a historic district. Have you ever seen a twenty-two-sided house? How about a swimming pool on the second floor? What’s a spite room? These are just some of the intrigues that await you from 12:00 noon until 5:00 p.m. This year’s tour cuts a crescent swath through twelve square blocks but you will never be far from afternoon tea at the Anderson House or a nibble at the Tabard Inn. Your ticket gives you entree to both, as well as fourteen lovely homes and architecturally significant buildings. Tickets and available at many local outlets and online at A few volunteer slots are still available — volunteers get free admission to the tour and their own after-party at Black Fox Lounge. Please join us.



Affordable Trainings for Advocates, Providers, Funders, Community Activists
Susie Cambria,

We can always do more to make positive differences for our clients, customers, or causes. Trainers Susie Cambria (public policy and local budget expert) and Diana Winthrop (journalist and documentary filmmaker) will share what they know in a series of four trainings starting October 22. The purpose of these affordable ($15 each) workshops is to share what we have learned over the years and engage workshop participants so they will share their experiences, too. The fall 2010 schedule includes trainings on having a personal relationship with local media types, getting to know and maintaining relationships with council staff, getting to know executive branch staffers, and outreach that actually reaches out. Those who would benefit from the sessions include communications staffers new to the work or DC; policy, program and advocacy staff; EDs; and interns in government, nonprofit, business, and faith settings. The cost is fifteen dollars per workshop per person with a discount for individuals who register for all four. More information is here:


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