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December 12, 2010

Fairness and Evenhandedness

Dear Separators:

I haven’t seen any speculation about who is going to become the Attorney General in the Gray administration. Everyone knows Peter Nickles is gone, partly because Nickles and Gray can’t stand each other, but mostly because of Nickles’ misuse of his office. In the last months before he goes, however, Nickles seems to be indulging in his worst impulses, using his official position to punish his political enemies. Gray needs to appoint someone as Attorney General who will be an anti-Nickles: independent from the mayor, rather than serving the mayor; dedicated to enforcing the law rather than managing the city’s government; and interpreting the law straight, rather than twisting it and misreading it, like a petulant child, to serve his personal agenda. After Gray gets the opportunity to appoint an AG to one last full appointive term, we as citizens will get the opportunity to elect the next attorney general in 2014. Then we need to find candidates for the office who will exhibit those same traits. So far, the only person who has announced an interest in the office is Councilmember David Catania, who proposed the first version of the law to give DC citizens the power to elect our Attorney General. David and Councilmember Jack Evans, however, have been the two members of the city council who have been most supportive of Nickles and forgiving of his misconduct. Before Catania would be a credible candidate for Attorney General, he would have to demonstrate that he would not follow in Nickles’ path and allow his ample ego and confrontational style to undermine peoples' confidence that the AG's office operates with fairness and evenhandedness.


In the last issue, I wrote about Councilmember Tommy Wells’ expressing a belated doubt about the DC government’s acting as a nanny state and believing that its role is to make the most minute of personal decisions for its citizens. There are two paths toward improving the world, the secular and the spiritual, the political and the personal. The first path attempts to make a better society by changing things, and the second by changing people. These two paths define two realms. Governments govern best when they confine themselves to the secular, to finding out what people actually want and shaping government programs to provide it for them. Governments go very wrong when they rise above their place in the world and attempt to change and reshape human nature, to make “the new man,” as the Soviet and the Chinese Marxists did. Governments fail when they try to change human nature to fit the political leaders’ ideals. On the other hand, religion’s role is to try to reshape human nature, to make people themselves better, to change the choices that people make, and religions are out of their place when they lower themselves to play political roles and reshape the secular world.


I don’t publish anonymous contributions in themail; themail is intended as an open forum for people to express their opinions on a wide variety of issues that relate to life in the District of Columbia, but I want people to take responsibility for their opinions, and advocate them openly. However, I’m making a one-time exception in this issue for the first item, below, and I’d like to explain why.

A week ago, someone wrote to themail questioning why I’ve criticized Vincent Gray recently, essentially suggesting that I should give Gray a honeymoon period, or at least wait until he’s installed in the mayor’s office before criticizing the things he does. Since I ask people not only to identify themselves but also to reveal their connections to and interest in the subjects they write about, and since this person was heavily involved in the Gray campaign, I asked him to include a reference to this connection in his message. He declined, and asked instead that I not publish his message. But the answer to his question is that I’ve criticized Gray because several — many — people from Gray’s campaign have approached Dorothy and me with their own stories about being mistreated in the aftermath of the campaign and during the transition. They uniformly have said that they could not make their stories public because they feared retaliation. These stories of threats and retaliation, of punishment if they’re seen even talking to Dorothy, have been so consistent that the information in the anonymous E-mail we were sent seems reliable. After Adrian Fenty was elected in 2006, there were stories of how he had discarded and disrespected his campaign volunteers. In 2010, Fenty couldn’t assemble a group of campaign volunteers again, and he had to pay almost everyone who worked in his campaign. If Gray is making the same mistake now, then this is the time to write about it.

Jim McElhatton’s story on Lorraine Green in today’s Washington Times is relevant to this item:

Gary Imhoff


Lorraine Green

I’m writing on behalf of the Gray campaign supporters; we have been egregiously mistreated by the Transition Chair, Lorraine Green. We worked tirelessly for Vince Gray’s success. Ms. Green’s very negative and disrespectful attitude toward the Gray supporters who worked for free is insulting, to say the least. We are not name calling; we are trying our level best to express ourselves about a very serious matter. For this Transition Team to disrespect District voters and volunteers in this fashion does not speak well for how Vince Gray will run this city, nor does it speak to the campaign theme he won victory with: his differences from Fenty.

We would like to know how Lorraine Green’s daughter, Leslie Green, was placed in a six-figure-salary job working with Kaya Henderson at DCPS; this was done directly after the general election. We would like to ask these very relevant questions to Mayor-elect Gray; however, he is unreachable, untouchable, and appears not to care.

We, the fearless, tireless volunteers of Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8 were looking to be included; instead, we have been excluded. To have a secretive Transition Team that is comprised of eleven members from the very Wards that did not support Vince Gray for mayor and only four members from the Wards that did support Gray is very telling. Mayor-elect Gray is from Ward 7, and yet there is no member of this Transition Team from his very own Ward, his base, and only one member representing East of the River. Mayor-elect Gray should remember not to disrespect the supporters of the Wards who voted him into the mayor’s office. We secured Mayor-elect Gray his victory; essentially, we gave him his job! DC residents who were Gray supporters want a seat at the table of the Mayor-elect that they supported with blood, sweat, tears, time, energy, effort, money, and unwavering/undying loyalty to this candidate. We are sending this to you anonymously, as we are extremely fearful of reprisal by this very unscrupulous and vindictive woman.


NYC City Council Hears Both Sides of Bike Lane Battle
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

“The Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, sang a self-written song about bicycle lanes to the tune of a popular selection from ‘The Sound of Music’: ‘These are a few of my favorite lanes.’ A forty-year resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn, testified that an influx of cyclists had made her afraid to cross the street in front of her house. A group of cycling advocates wondered why the city would reject a nimble, environmentally friendly mode of transportation in favor of bulky, polluting automobiles,”


Missouri Snowplow Technology Going Nationwide
T. Lassoc,

Here’s a story about the TowPLow, a rather simple snowplow innovation: It sounds like there’s real potential for saving money while getting the job done. Maybe Mayor-elect Gray should know about this now — before the first big snowfall.


Budget Matters, A Thin Silver Lining
HyeSook Chung, DC Action for Children,

There was no one celebrating Tuesday when the DC council gave preliminary approval to a budget to fill the city’s $188 million gap. Funding for critical safety-net programs was slashed, including basic income assistance to thousands of families with children. We had to look hard to find it, but there was a silver lining. Thanks to your calls and E-mails to the council and the hard work of our High 5 partner organizations who have been living at the Wilson Building, a handful of programs serving our youngest and most vulnerable were spared. The council restored the bulk of the funding for the recently passed Healthy Schools Act, which had been stripped in Mayor Fenty’s budget proposal. The Act helps ensure that children in the District’s public schools have access to fresh, nutritious meals and comprehensive health and wellness services. This comes as a big relief when many struggling families are unable to provide healthy meals at home and when many children would otherwise come to school too hungry to focus on learning.

We are also happy to report that the cuts to funding for the Community Collaboratives were not as deep as we feared. Research has shown that child maltreatment spikes in times of economic hardship, and the Collaboratives provide an important, frontline defense through outreach and services to families in high-risk areas. Finally, the council restored one million dollars in funding for child care. Unfortunately, it’s still far less than what we need to support high-quality early care and education for all children in the District.

Indeed, we cannot rest on these small wins. The city faces an even bigger budget gap in FY 2012, and it’s going to be an uphill battle to preserve critical programs. We will continue to do everything we can to speak up for proven programs that help reverse the cycle of poverty for our youngest citizens and create a brighter future for our city. As we gear up for this fight, please sign on to our High 5 platform, if you haven’t already done so, to show your support.


December Intowner Now Available
Peter Wolff,

This is to advise that the December 2010 issue PDF is available at and may be opened by clicking the front page graphic on the home page. There will be found all content, including the popular Scenes from the Past feature (this month titled “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”) — plus all photos and other images.

This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) “Mayoral Candidate Gray Won Over Voters Following Primary at Citywide Community Meetings,” 2) “Budget Crisis Hearing Witnesses Detailed Impacts, Suggested Fixes”; 3) “Bread for the City Opens Expanded Facility in Shaw for More Services.” The Selected Street Crimes feature, which is separately posted on the web site, will be updated later on, at which time we will provide notification.

The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of January 14 (the second Friday of the month as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to or call 234-1717.


Grammatically So
Art Spitzer,

Willie Schatz wrote [themail, December 8] “Regarding the noun: take heart, Gary. At least one other subscriber uses the subjunctive. Which, upon further review, makes you and I (along with the self-confessed Queen of the Nerds) sticks-in-the-mud. Or should that be stuck-in-the-mud? Further, if we were the chief legal officer of three states, would we be attorney-generals or attorneys-general? (I know, but I won’t tell.)”

“You and I? You and I?” Into the doghouse with Mr. Schatz!


Stew Reuter,

As a matter of consistency, it’s “Courts Martial” for the plural, not “Court Martials.” And it’s “Attorneys General,” also.



Biden Biographer to Speak at WNDC, December 14
Pat Bitondo,

The definitive biography of Vice President Biden has been written by Jules Witcover, one of Washington’s most prolific journalists and author of numerous books. In Joe Biden, A Life of Trial and Redemption, Witcover examines the fascinating life of a man who, with his tenacity, outspokenness, and charm, has shaped Washington politics for the past forty years and who now serves as the forty-seventh vice president of the United States.

On Tuesday, December 14, Witcover will speak at a luncheon at the Women’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. For more information, write to or call 234-7363. To register, go to


National Building Museum Events, December 16
Johanna Weber,

December 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m. CityVision Final Presentation. Learn more about District of Columbia Public School students’ vision for their city. Students from Browne Education Campus, Takoma Education Campus, and Truesdell Education Campus present their innovative plans, developed in collaboration with the DC Office of Planning, for sites in Brookland, on the Southwest Waterfront, and near RFK Stadium. Free; registration not required. Reception following presentations. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station.



John Campbell,

We have a friend who provides excellent catering services year-round but especially during this holiday season. She has more than thirty years of experience chefing and catering both private and corporate, plus cooking instruction for kids, teens, and adults.

She has a healthy, fresh, Mediterranean/international approach to food — Italian, Greek, Spanish, Thai, Indian are specialties. And she has an extensive repertoire of vegetarian and vegan menus. She does holiday parties and office parties (as well as weddings, bar mitzvahs, engagement and anniversary parties, and special birthdays). And she can do drop-off of prepared food, or onsite full service, as well as event planning.

She can provide plenty of references from organizations and individuals if you wish. If you would like to get in touch with her, let me know.


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