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January 5, 2011


Dear Answerers:

William O’Field writes below about the candidates who have registered to pick up petitions to run for the at-large councilmember seat vacated by Kwame Brown. It’s a short campaign period with a big field, and there’s no party primary, so it could be a very interesting and surprising election. It’s a nonparty election, so a Republican or Statehood-Green candidate has a chance to slip in, against what is now an almost all-Democratic field, with two independents. Does any big-foot or long-shot candidate want to enter at the last moment? Do you have a preference among the announced candidates, or for another potential candidate?


In the last issue of themail, Dorothy asked for your wish lists for the Gray administration. So far, we’ve had only one response. Do you wish for different appointees, different priorities, more emphasis on other subjects? Or are you completely satisfied?


Also in the last issue of themail, I suggested that the mayor and city council refrain from subsidizing a few large-ticket development projects before they cut other government programs or raise taxes and fees. If anyone agrees, do you have a project you would suggest cutting? If anyone disagrees, do you think government subsidies for development projects are so valuable that they should take a higher priority than other government programs or than preventing higher taxes?

Citizens have the most influence on local government in the few months before an election, when politicians are anxious to make promises that will please citizens, and in the first few months after an election, when they are setting their priorities for the next political term. Get in your bids now.


In the last issue of themail, there was a message attributed to Toni Ritzenberg. It was submitted under her name and E-mail address, but she tells me that she didn’t send it and that her E-mail address must have been spoofed, so I have removed it from the online version of themail, and ask you to ignore it in your E-mail version.

Gary Imhoff


Parsing the Inaugural Addresses
Len Sullivan,

As an American octogenarian who first visited my capital city in the late ’30’s, and has since been embarrassed often by it’s public (global) persona, I scanned last Sunday’s inaugural addresses with keen interest and some skepticism. That both our new mayor and chairman emphasized continuing to try to improve public school education is good news, particularly in the higher grades, and with greater focus on parental participation. But after a decade of plugging away on this theme with NARPAC, the failure to recognize that many of this fall’s unprepared parents were last spring’s unprepared high-schoolers leaves me disappointed. “Recycling” DCPS dropouts — or at least teaching them how to read (and be parents!) — should become a mandated city function.

The new chairman’s emphasis on both fiscal belt-tightening and municipal agency watch dogging was reassuring but obvious. But as long as DC fawns over a Chief Financial Officer who presents himself as a (pseudo-) “humble bookkeeper,” instead of hiring a bulldog program/budget analyst, the council’s amateur politicos will have little sway over the city’s professional bureaucrats. Failure to acknowledge DC’s economic dependence on — and essential physical linkages to — its daytime workforce is disturbing. So is ignoring its de facto role as the region’s poorhouse.

The mayor’s promise to work much more closely with the White House and Cabinet (and the Congress as well?) is of key importance. Establishing an office to work with federal and elected officials who also want to restore our capital city’s global image would be much more productive than demanding to become our smallest, poorest, dumbest, sickest, united state. DC doesn’t need more earmarks: it needs to become a unique national institution. Why not just work the Feds, keep Ms. Norton on the Hill, and find a way to get DC residents a greater voice in Congress without the deceptive trappings of statehood?

The mayor used NARPAC’s “P-word” seven times, but only to stir residents’ pride their city. DC has an inescapable and unique obligation to all Americans, many of whose expectations for their capital city go well beyond low buildings, trolleys, and bike racks. Sadly, there was no mention of DC’s potential role as the essential core city of our nation’s eighth largest metropolitan area. DC isn’t destined to be a separate state: it’s the world’s most famous urban hub. That neither the mayor nor the chairman deigned to stake out a relationship with DC’s faster-growing, wealthier, smarter, healthier suburbs is a worrisome failure. DC can’t afford to display itself as some remote, self-indulgent island populated by smalltime idiosyncratic xenophobes. Large metro areas are now the heart of US socioeconomic growth and global competitiveness (though not represented per se in Congress). DC should lead this inescapable evolution, not appear to ignore or thwart it.


Special Election for At-Large Member of the DC City Council, April 26
Bill O’Field,

The DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) will hold a city-wide Special Election on Tuesday, April 26, to fill a vacancy for At-Large Member of the DC city council created when Councilmember Kwame Brown successfully beat back his opponents to win the office of Chairman of the Council in last year’s Primary and General Elections.

According to the DCBOEE web site, at, thirteen candidates have picked up nominating petitions to qualify for ballot access for the Special Election. They are Ward 1 Democrats Stanley Mayes and Dottie Love Wade; Ward 4 Democrats Leo Alexander, Sekou Biddle, Calvin Gurley, and Joshua Lopez; Ward 5 Independent George Jackson; Ward 5 Democrat Vincent Orange; Ward 6 Independent Arkan Haile; Ward 6 Independent Alan Page; Ward 6 Democrat Kelvin Robinson; Ward 7 Democrat Dorothy Douglas; and Ward 8 Democrat Jacque Patterson.

To qualify for ballot access, each candidate is required to file three thousand signatures of registered DC voters (without regard to party) on their nominating petition with the DCBOEE no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16, which are subject to a ten day challenge period. The challenge period will run from Saturday, February 19, through Thursday, February 28.


Freeze Salaries for DC Employees
Maureen Flanagan,

Why can the federal government freeze salaries for its employees without issue, and the DC government, whose service is often marginal and probably will get worse under a Gray administration, not freeze salaries? Are we still operating under the attitude of the Barry administration’s guarantee of DC government jobs for friends, campaign supporters, and cronies?


Estate Tax: Yawn
John Capozzi,

William Haskett again writes that the DC city council needs to discuss a lowering of the Estate Tax for District residents to match the new Federal limit. Yawn!

As I stated in my last response, this is a tax that effects only about 1 percent of DC taxpayers. Worrying about a fair tax policy for the 99 percent of DC residents who do not stand to inherit over one million dollars is more important than lowering the tax of those who are the 1 percent wealthiest of DC residents. Someone needs to pay taxes if we want to continue to live in the greatest country in the world. Having the 1 percent of the wealthiest pay some taxes after they have passed away is something that is fair. To quote Bill Gates, Sr.: “A common, and misguided, criticism of the estate tax is that individuals who work hard and save their money should be entitled to pass on the fruits of that labor to their family. I am not against working hard, saving money, or taking care of your family.

“We must acknowledge that the person who accumulates wealth in this country was not able to do that independently. The simple fact of living in America, a country with stable markets and unparalleled opportunity fueled in part by government investment in technology and research (something my family has plenty of firsthand experience of), provide an irreplaceable foundation for success and have created a society which makes it possible for some men, women and their children to live an elegant life. So I believe that those of us who have benefited so greatly from our country’s investment in our lives should be asked to give a portion of our wealth back to invest in opportunities for the future.”


My Wish List for the Gray Administration
Wendy Glenn,

I started this journey with Chairman Gray on March 30, and saw it to its successful fruition on January 2; I am proud to now call Chairman Gray, Mayor Gray. Finally, I feel like we, as a city and as a community, have won! You [Dorothy Brizill, themail, January 2] asked a very poignant question, one that I think every District resident and native Washingtonian should look introspectively to answer; it will invoke a different response for everyone. As for my family and me, we would want Mayor Gray to “return DC residents to work.” This has to be priority No. 1. Qualified and competent District residents should be the first to be considered for employment in their own government and in the First Source Employment Program. There is a true need to return qualified professionals to a place where we can contribute once again, to our families and our government.

As I wrote in a letter to Tim Craig, in response to his article entitled “DC’s Ward 8 pins its hopes for economic improvement on Mayor-elect Gray,” I had the distinct pleasure and honor of working on the Vince Gray for Mayor campaign in/with Ward 8 residents. I worked with current unemployed residents of Ward 8 who are Ivy League and Big Ten college graduates (Purdue and Dartmouth just to name a few), former mayoral cabinet members (former Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and former DOES Chief of Staff), former DC councilmembers, attorneys, doctors, educators, and many hard working homeowners, federal government civil servants, and military personnel. This is the Ward 8 that I know and am extremely proud of. This is the Ward 8 that voted for Mayor Gray in historic numbers. This is the Ward 8 that secured a 16-0 victory for Mayor Gray, both in the primary and general elections, and never wavered in their support. This is the Ward 8 that gave both sweat equity and money to this very worthwhile campaign because we believed in both the message and the messenger. Those who truly have supported Mayor Gray when he had limited to no support, the men and women of Washington, DC, who gave of themselves and all that we had, either through undaunting work ethic or by giving money that we “truly” did not have, just be able to, in some small way, ensure the success of the One City campaign. I like to call it the “all guts and no glory campaign.”

It has always shocked me the number of District residents who are receiving unemployment insurance and the number of District residents who are eagerly awaiting a return to work. These are the residents who were displaced from employment because they were not favored by the Fenty Administration. It further shocks me that over 50 percent of DC government workers live in outlying counties and jurisdictions, with the District having no means of taxing their income at its source. Returning citizens to work would accomplish two very necessary goals; it would eliminate the burden to our unemployment roles and it would increase to amount of taxable revenue to the city.

No one but this group of unemployed District residents can truly understand the emotional turmoil that was this past holiday/Christmas season caused because we “suffered in silence” for the benefit of family and friends. Many of us did not celebrate the holidays because we had nothing to celebrate, many of us have lost or are on the verge of losing our homes, many of us have had children who have either had to leave college or not start at all because of the lack of income and resources. Many of us gave of ourselves this holiday season to keep each other encouraged because we had no money to do otherwise.

We are the homeowners, renters, and taxpayers who have paid our taxes and supported our government even when it was not supporting us. We are the mothers and fathers who, as Mayor Gray stated in his inauguration speech: “this city means something quite different to us; to us, it is home; it’s where we work . . . raise our families . . . build communities . . . practice our faith . . . teach our children . . . and live our lives.” As I stood at my volunteer post, yet again, for the inauguration, these words resonated with me; these are the reasons that my two son, aged 21 and 19 (voting for their first time), and I voted for Mayor Gray, because we, as a family, believed that he shared our love for this city and its residents as much, if not more than we. Again, we put aside our fears and apprehensions about being still unemployed going into another year and a cold winter, to outwardly display our enthusiasm and loyalty to our new mayor.

Commitment, dedication, motivation, loyalty, involvement, investment, and enthusiasm are among the descriptive terms that everyone that I know uses when they speak about the pride that they have in the job they performed and perform for DC residents. These are the feelings that I and many like me would like to feel again, the respect of having professional pride in performing a professional service. These feeling can only be felt through a “return” to gainful employment in the city that we hold near and dear.


Nominees for Potter Stewart Award
June B. Kress, Council for Court Excellence,

What heroes do you know in the local and federal justice system? Nominate these champions of justice for the Council for Court Excellence’s 15th Annual Justice Potter Stewart Award! Click here to access the fast and easy online nomination form. The Justice Potter Stewart Award is given annually to two individuals who exemplify the very best in the administration of justice. Your nominee should be an individual or organization whose contribution to the administration of justice, the legal system, or the administrative aspects of government in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area has been significant and sustained.

The Council for Court Excellence will present the award at our annual dinner, which will be held on Thursday, May 12, 2011, at the US Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street NW. To view a list of those who have received the Justice Potter Stewart Award in previous years, please click

We are counting on you to nominate outstanding honorees for this year’s fifteenth annual event! In addition to our online form, we also welcome nominations submitted by letter addressed to: Justice Stewart Award Committee, Council for Court Excellence, 1111 14th Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. The deadline to receive nominations is Monday, January 31. Click to submit your nomination today.



National Building Museum Events, January 10
Tara Miller,

January 10, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., readings at 10:30 and 11:30 am. Book of the Month: Henry Builds a Cabin. Free, drop-in program. Recommended for ages three to five. Join us in the Building Zone for an interactive reading of D.B. Johnson’s Henry Builds a Cabin, and learn with Henry as he decides how to build his very own cabin in the woods.

January 10, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Intelligent Cities: Makeshift Metropolis. Prize-winning author, professor, and architecture critic Witold Rybczynski discusses his latest book, Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas about Cities, exploring the history of city planning, the kind of cities we want, and the kind of cities we need. This program is part of the Museum’s Intelligent Cities initiative, a yearlong effort to improve the way our cities look, feel, and function. $12 members, free students, $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.

Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at


Woman’s National Democratic Club Luncheon, January 13
Tonya Butler-Truesdale,

Andrew Bacevich, Sacred Trinity and Washington Rules: America’s Foreign Policy for Over Fifty Years, a luncheon at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, January 13. In his presentation, Professor Andrew Bacevich will explain and critique “Washington Rules,” which dictate that protection of the American way of life requires a global military presence and a willingness to intervene anywhere, at any cost, and how these Rules have forced the United States into a state of perpetual war in an open-ended pursuit of national security. Members $25, nonmembers $30, lecture only (no lunch) $10. Register at


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