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December 15, 2010

Must Reads

Dear Readers:

Marilyn Simon and Dan Gamber, below, write about how the city government is making driving and parking harder. Dan seems to give city officials the benefit of the doubt by speculating that the confusion in parking signs he notes may be just the result of officials’ incompetence or failure to think through the consequences of their actions. But I think Marilyn is closer to the truth: it’s a deliberate plan. The Fenty administration wanted to make parking and driving inconvenient in order to force people to give up their cars. The Fenty transportation planners think that people will meekly stay in the city and put up with any amount of inconvenience. I fear the Gray administration will follow in Fenty’s footsteps or bike paths. If the city tells residents they have to rely on public transportation or bikes, and tells businesses they have to rely on customers and employees who come by bus or bike, and the suburbs provide residents and businesses with ample parking for peoples’ needs, which part of the region do you think will grow and prosper, and which part will stagnate?


More must-read articles: Valerie Strauss’ column on Michelle Rhee’s legacy, “What Rhee Has Wrought,” “Anyone who thinks that Michelle Rhee was a whiz as chancellor of DC public schools and should be heading a national ‘reform’ movement ought to read about a high school she attempted to ‘transform’ in the nation’s capital. . . . The truth of her tenure is less compelling. In fact, some parts are disturbing. The tale that my colleague Bill Turque wrote about Dunbar Senior High School [] reveals the bad assumptions and decisions Rhee made in trying to transform a long-troubled school, and, further, exposes some of the mindlessness driving modern school reformers today across the country.”

Marc Fisher’s wrote his online column today,, about the burglary of his house and the theft of his son’s laptop, which will assure that his case will receive a lot more attention than most burglaries in DC. Here is the key passage: “I thought this was as close to a slam-dunk case as there could ever be. I thought that by handing over the photo [of the burglar], I was delivering the police an instant arrest. I thought wrong. Two officers confided that they and their colleagues rarely press hard on burglary cases because the courts almost always let thieves go with nothing more than probation. Maybe that’s why four days after we handed over the photo, we were still waiting to hear from the detective assigned to the case. Burglaries are up 11 percent citywide this year, to a total that will top 4,000 — most likely a reflection of continued hard times, especially since virtually every other category of crime is down. DC police made 30 burglary arrests in the last two weeks of November, up from six in the same weeks last year. Nationwide, police solved only 12 percent of burglaries last year, according to FBI data; in big cities such as Washington, the figure often is barely more than half that high. No wonder the guy in our photo wore such a confident smirk.” Fisher assumes that violent crimes in DC are falling, but Michael Cella would claim that the numbers aren’t that clear. On Monday, Cella’s article in The Washington Times was “Violent Crimes of All Kinds Are on the Rise in DC,” And if the police and the courts don’t take burglaries seriously in DC, compared with the police and the courts in the suburbs, which part of the region will grow and prosper then?

Gary Imhoff


Gray’s Job Summit
Dorothy Brizill,

On Monday, December 13, Mayor-elect Vincent Gray held a “Job Creation and Economic Development Summit” at the downtown law offices of Arnold and Porter. The stated purpose of the meeting was to focus on the jobs crisis in the District which, in certain neighborhoods, has resulted in an unemployment rate as high as 30 percent. According to the press release from Gray’s transition committee, the stated purpose of the meeting was to develop concrete solutions and create “strategies and an action plan for delivering jobs to District residents.” However, most of the discussions from the 94 invited participants centered on the obstacles to job creation in the District and specific problems that hinder the hiring of District residents — poorly educated job applicants lacking basic skills, the decline of vocational education, job applicants with felony arrest records, a cumbersome regulatory process in the District, and a weak and poorly functioning DC Department of Employment services. By the end of the summit, no formal strategy or action plan was developed, nor was a single job commitment made by any invited business or entity.

The tone for the summit was set by the individuals the Gray transition chose to invite: corporate executives (e.g., CVS, Care First Blue Cross, Giant Foods, Macy’s, Comcast, Amtrak, the Washington Post, Safeway, Verizon, Neiman-Marcus, PNC Bank, Walmart, WMATA, Fannie Mac, PEPCO, the Washington Nationals), developers (e.g., Akridge, Donohue Construction, Sigal Construction, Bundy, Rand Construction), colleges and universities (e.g., Georgetown, American, Gallaudet, Howard, George Washington, UDC, Trinity, Catholic), and nonprofits (e.g., Sibley Hospital, Smithsonian, AARP, NEA). The invitation list was largely drawn from the membership of the DC Chamber of Commerce, whose president and chief executive officer, Barbara Lang, co-chairs Gray’s economic transition committee. Notably absent from the meeting were individuals and organizations who could speak directly about the problems and hurdles facing the unemployed in the District. The list of list of meeting participants prepared by the Gray committee and Gray’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Development, which was distributed to the participants and hewed closely to the plan prepared during the primary, are at


Eliminating Parking Minimums Will Impact Our Neighborhoods
Marilyn Simon, MJSimon524 at

The DC Office of Planning is proposing eliminating parking minimums in many areas, and it recently released a map of those areas. Parking minimums mitigate parking spillover problems that can affect the quality of life in our neighborhoods. The Office of Planning repeatedly assured the Zoning Commission that off-street parking minimums would be retained in areas where a potential spillover effect exists, but this is not the case. The office recommends eliminating parking minimums near many single-family and row-house neighborhoods, including areas that already have significant spillover problems.

The Office of Planning claimed that the DC Department of Transportation has tools to mitigate the impact of this recommendation. Yet the tools presented mainly involve residential parking permits and do nothing to mitigate the impact of eliminating parking minimums or to address existing spillover. Further, the Transportation Department representative clearly stated that residents of new apartment buildings — the very buildings that would not be required to provide adequate parking for residents, employees, or guests — will be eligible for residential parking permits and visitor parking permits. This means that, rather than having the developer provide sufficient off-street parking, apartment dwellers will rely on the already crowded streets of nearby neighborhoods, leaving the residents there to either pave their small back yards or park farther from their homes.

Many of DC’s successful transit-oriented neighborhoods lie near areas where planners propose to eliminate parking minimums. These are walkable low-density neighborhoods, near transit, where many residents use transit for commuting, but also rely on cars for other transportation needs. Many of the houses lack adequate off-street parking, and those residents rely on on-street parking. And many of these neighborhoods already have tight on-street parking conditions, as neighborhood streets are shared by residents, shoppers, local business employees and commuters who drive to Metro. As a result, residents frequently find it difficult to park near their homes. DC’s current parking minimums are the lowest in the area and are far below the actual vehicle ownership for residential buildings. Currently, only one space for every two to four apartments (depending on the zone) is required. Because of this, spillover parking in many single-family neighborhoods near apartment and mixed-use zones is evident.

Regulations should not be changed based on an unrealistic expectation that future residents will own fewer vehicles or none at all. The District’s transportation system is efficient at carrying commuters to the employment core, but for many households it is not robust enough to meet most transportation needs. On January 10, the Zoning Commission will consider the Office of Planning’s proposal. The record (ZC Case 08-06, B-15) will remain open for written comments until December 20 at 3:00 p.m.


Parking Confusion
Dan Gamber, Dupont Circle,

Gabe Klein’s rush to experiment has resulted in some serious confusion for those wishing to park — or perhaps call it bait and switch. Example: 17th Street, NW. In front of 1636 17th Street, NW, is a parking ticket machine, with a big “2” — which means that there is a two hour limit and you must pay at the machine. However, if you go down to the corner of 17th and R you see a sign that says “no parking loading zone, for commercial vehicles only, 7:00 am to 6:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday.”

Now many drivers will look at the machine and presume they can park. But if they are not commercial vehicles, they get a $50 ticket. Or, if you are a vehicle with commercial markings, you can park free while spending the day drinking at the Tavern. And restaurant owners who use their own private vehicle to procure supplies from a farmers market may not park there while provisioning their restaurants. (One of the objectives of the 17th Street reconfiguration was providing delivery zones to reduce double parking.) And DDOT wasted a lot of money installing the parking machine.

Another example of parking confusion is the 3400 block of Connecticut, northbound. That is the commercial block with the parallel access road on the east side. The Connecticut Avenue side of the separator now has a confusing set of signs about loading zone, rush hour, and pay to park. At 1:00 p.m. last Friday, the result was that there were no vehicles parked on the Connecticut Avenue side of the separator.

Another example: the south side of the 1300 block of U Street, NW, has had four different parking payment systems in the last few months. One of the systems was a parking machine smack in front of a stairway to a restaurant, which narrowed the walkway to about two feet. (DDoT answered a complaint about that machine by saying that the location was required by Americans with Disabilities Act!) This is no experiment, it is mass confusion.

A further result in many areas has been a reduction is street parking spaces. In addition to the above, that is the case on 15th Street, NW, where the bikeway (which I love to use) has resulted in the elimination of several spaces.

As for double parking for deliveries: given the configuration and traffic flow on 17th, this has never been a significant problem. But it is a horrid problem on the U Street, NW, commercial strip. Commonly, a delivery vehicle is double-parked at the approach to an intersection. When someone wants to turn left at the same place, traffic stops entirely. No delivery zones have been created on U as various parking systems were installed.

On another theme, pedestrian protection: a few months ago, northbound 15th at U had the signal changed to provide a few second advance green for pedestrians crossing U. That seemed to work very well. But then a couple of weeks ago that system was replaced by a new signal with a left turn arrow for 15th northbound. It would be nice to have someone who thinks things through before acting.


How DPW Services Will Be Affected by Christmas and New Year’s Day
Linda Grant,

Here is how the services of the Department of Public Works will be affected in observance of Christmas, December 25, and New Year’s Day, January 1, 2011. DPW crews will follow the normal collections schedule and pick up trash and recycling Friday, December 24, and Friday, December 31. This applies to both once-a-week and twice-a-week collection neighborhoods. Trash and recycling containers should be put 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 collection day.

DPW will suspend enforcement of parking meters, residential parking, and rush hour lane restrictions Friday and Saturday, December 24 and 25, and Friday and Saturday, December 31 and January 1. Also, DPW will not tow abandoned vehicles.

The Ft. Totten Transfer Station, located at 4900 John F. McCormack Road, NE, will be closed Friday and Saturday, December 24 and 25, and Friday and Saturday, December 31 and January 1. Bulk trash drop-off services will be available Monday, December 27, through Thursday, December 30, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The next Saturday household hazardous waste/e-cycling/document shredding drop-off day is January 8, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., (these services are available the first Saturday of the month, except holidays). Directions to Ft. Totten: travel east on Irving Street, NW, turn left on Michigan Avenue, turn left on John F. McCormack Road, NE, and continue to the end of the street.

Leaf collections will be made from most “Area B” neighborhoods, except on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Area B residents should rake their leaves into their treebox spaces by the Sunday before their collection weeks.

To view DPW’s trash and recycling holiday schedule for the remainder of the year, click on or call 311. Residents also can use DPW’s Web site to view the 2010-2011 leaf collection schedule by selecting Leaf Collection and clicking on “Check Leaf Collection Status in Your Neighborhood” ( and entering their address.


Response to Anonymous from a Gray Volunteer
Robert Marshall,

I am a Gray supporter/volunteer who has served as a volunteer in both Mr. Gray’s campaign to be elected council chair and, more recently, as mayor. My reasons for doing so include my belief in Mr. Gray as an individual and in the issues that he has championed.

On several occasions, I have had the good fortune to meet and interact briefly with Lorraine Green. Based on those chance encounters, I am impressed with her loyalty to Mr. Gray, her professionalism, astuteness, and her genuine concern and dedication to our city and its people.

It appears to me that Anonymous’ complaint [themail, December 12] is simply that he/she did not receive the patronage (job) that apparently was the motivation for his/her campaigning for Mr. Gray — nothing more and nothing less. Failing to provide patronage jobs to a particular campaign volunteer does not, in my mind, constitute abuse and mistreatment on Mr. Gray’s nor Ms. Green’s part.


Lorraine Green
Leslie Green,

The information posted [themail, December 12] about my mother, Lorraine Green, was not just incorrect, it was disrespectful. People will have their own opinions, so there is no use speaking to the name calling and the slander. What I will respond to is the assertion that I was hired by Kaya Henderson for a six- figure job. I am currently employed by a communications company in DC, and I have never been considered for a job within Kaya Henderson’s agency, nor do I plan to work for DC Public Schools in any capacity.


Lorraine Green
Brigid Quinn,

I see you weren’t so quick to relax your long-held ban on publishing anonymous contributions for a post in support of Vince Gray and his team. Yet some whining naysayers you happen to agree with get to play by new rules set solely for them. With regard to the report on Ms. Green’s tenure as interim Inspector General for Amtrak, I would stress that the negative report is the work of two Republicans. Ms. Green, of course, was twice appointed to federal posts by President Clinton, a Democrat. Duh.

[I wrote that someone with a connection to Vince Gray’s transition team submitted a message complaining about criticism of the transition effort. The problem with the message wasn’t that it was anonymous; it was that the submitter wanted it published without a sentence revealing his connection to the transition. More importantly, Brigid tries to dismiss the criticism of Lorraine Green’s appointment as an interim Inspector General at Amtrak, and her subsequent actions in that office, because it was made by Republicans, as though that automatically discredits it. But that’s how our system works; two competing political parties criticize each other and each other’s nominees, and keep watch on each other. Judge the reports for yourselves on their own merits. The report from Senator Grassley and Representative Issley, critical of Amtrak’s firing of its Inspector General and of Lorraine Green’s role in the issue, is at; the reply memorandum supporting Amtrak, by Democratic staffers of the Senate Commerce Committee, is at; and Senator Grassley’s press release criticizing the Democratic reply is at — Gary Imhoff]



Fundraiser to Support Love Thy Neighbor, December 18
Ann Loikow,

A Fundraiser to Support Love Thy Neighbor’s Work Teaching Nonviolence to Children in Palestine will be held at the Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th Street, NW (corner of 16th and S Streets), on Saturday, December 18, at 7:00 p.m. It is sponsored by the Universalist National Memorial Church, Love Thy Neighbor, the American Palestinian Women’s Association, and Sabeel DC Metro. A traditional Palestinian dinner will be served and the Glade Dance Collective will perform “The Wall.” $25 donation requested. RSVP:


Mae Reeves Vintage Hat Party at WNDC, December 21
Pat Bitondo,

The Mae Reeves Vintage Hat Party, Tuesday, December 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m., reception and show at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW.

’Tis the season to be jolly! And what better way to revel and rejoice than to see beautiful women showing off spectacular hats. Come crowned in your own lovely hat at the party of the season. Donna Limerick, Mae Reeves’ daughter, will bring models sporting the vintage hat collection. Jan DuPlain will co-MC the event and we will also have a jewelry store set up for your last-minute holiday shopping.

In April 2009, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) acquired part of Reeves’ extensive hat collection, antique furniture from her millinery shop, and other personal items to tell the story about her illustrious career. Her fifty-year collection will be part of a permanent fashion exhibit at the museum, expected to open in 2015. Members $25, nonmembers $35; register at


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