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January 30, 2011

Pie Source

Dear Pie Eaters:

Sarah Livingston recommends a pie source in response to my plea from a few issues back. Be sure to take a note of its address below. Does anyone else have a suggestion for good bakery or restaurant pies? After all, the last Sholl’s Colonial Cafeteria closed a dozen years ago, cutting off the last reliable supplier of rhubarb pie; and I haven’t had gooseberry pie for decades. If old-fashioned diners can come back to popularity from the edge of extinction, can’t old-fashioned pies undergo the same resurgence?


Since the council is back in session, it’s time to open nominations for the stupidest bill proposed in the city council this year. Have you spotted a worthy nominee yet?

Gary Imhoff


Terry Bellamy Must Leave DDOT
Stanford Ledbetter,

Bellamy was brought into the DC Department of Transportation for his background in municipal operations. He shook up the Transportation Operations Administration. This got him promoted to Deputy Director. As Deputy he was out of his league, dealing with large federally funded capital improvements and long range regional planning and policy matters that nothing in his career had prepared him for. He responded by taking the approach that it wasn’t his responsibility to know any of that and he’d simply fire or demote anyone that caused him personal embarrassment. He created a climate of fear and distrust between planners and engineers, and drove out the best and brightest from both groups.

Well, he has no one to blame but himself for the snow removal operations failure last week. DDOT is directly responsible for snow removal operations on the national highway system, including the 3rd Street Tunnel, New York Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, 16th Street, and Canal Road — all the biggest choke points in last week’s horribly mismanaged event. Bellamy is supposed to be the operations guru; he personally reorganized DDOT operations since last year and hand-picked his top operations managers, James Cheeks and Gloria Jeff. Bellamy is ultimately responsible for snow removal operations and last weeks’ utter failure on the national highway system. He must not be retained as DDOT Director and should be removed altogether.


Sarah Livingston,

Have you tried Chatman’s D’Vine Bakery and Cafe at 1239 9th Street, NW ( People rave about the sweet potato pie and the key lime cheesecake. In fact, just before Thanksgiving, Debra Chatman had to interrupt a conversation with me to take a call from a woman in West Virginia who wanted to order pies for her feast! She’s only been open about two years and is in the still lightly traveled 9th Street corridor near where the new hotel is going in, but word is spreading and you know what that means — her baked goods taste good!


Dorothy Brizill’s Double Standard
Patrick Mara,

In the January 26 edition of themail, Dorothy Brizill criticized my candidacy in the special election for at-large council because, if successful, I will be required to vacate the Ward One seat on the State Board of Education, which will then need to be filled in a special election. While this is true, there is a troubling element to Brizill’s critique: a double standard. I have checked archives of themail carefully. In 2006, when Councilmembers Adrian Fenty (Ward 4) and Vince Gray (Ward 7) ran for mayor and council chair respectively, Brizill did not criticize either for risking a special election. As we now know, both won and both of their council seats were filled through special elections. In 2010, when Councilmember Kwame Brown (At-Large) ran for council chair, not a word of concern from Brizill about the potential for special election. Brizill is holding me to a standard that she didn’t apply to Fenty, Gray, or Kwame Brown. This should trouble any objective thinker.

To be fair, Brizill cites our current budgetary crunch as one of the reasons for her concern. But budgeting is not done after-the-fact, it is done with foresight. If Brizill’s concern about funding special elections was consistent over the years — if Brizill had sought to save the District from the scourge of special elections in the past — perhaps the rules for special elections or funding for them would be different today. But that is not the case. My position on this is clear: Democracy does not have a price tag. We should be smart and restrained when spending tax dollars, but saving relatively small amounts of money at the expense of voters and those who seek office is not the place to begin cutting.


Bearing the Cost
Dorothy Brizill,

In response to my January 26 posting in themail, Patrick Mara alleges that I used a double standard when criticizing his candidacy for an at-large council seat in the April 26 special election. He mistakenly argues that I never expressed any concern about the cost of special elections in the past, because I have not written about the issue in themail. But my civic activism, specifically my involvement with election matters, is not limited to what I write in themail. For nearly twenty years, I have closely monitored the conduct and cost of elections in the District. I have consistently expressed concerns about both the low voter turnout and the high costs of special elections. (In the well-funded and hotly contested race to replace Fenty as Ward 4 councilmember in May 2007, only 14.15 percent of eligible voters cast a vote. In the special election in August 2007 to fill the vacant Ward 1 Board of Education seat, the turnout was less than 1 percent.) Most recently I testified on January 19 before both the council and the DC Board of Elections about the cost and planning for the April 26 special election.

Mara argues that the special election that would have to be held in Ward 1, if he is successful in the April 26 special election, is no different from the special elections that were held in 2007 to fill the Ward 4 council seat vacated by Adrian Fenty when he was elected mayor or to fill the Ward 7 council seat vacated by Vincent Gray when he was elected the city council chairman. But there was one important difference. When Adrian Fenty ran for mayor in 2006, he had been the Ward 4 councilmember since 2000. When Vincent Gray ran for council chairman in 2006, he had been the Ward 7 councilmember since 2004. Even Kwame Brown served as an at-large councilmember for six years prior to being a candidate for council chairman in 2010. Mara, on the other hand, registered to run for an at-large council seat seventeen days after being sworn in as a member of the State Board of Education, and before he had attended even a single monthly meeting of the Board.

Mara knew that his decision to run could cost a cash-strapped District as much as $250,000 for a special election, should he win and resign his State Board of Education seat, but he states that his “position on this is clear: democracy does not have a price tag.” Apparently, neither does blind ambition.


Smart Growth, Hate Speech, and Puritanism; Really?
Tom Grahame,

Gary, don’t go off the deep end on us. I’m just starting to read a book of all the letters of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a bit of a hero to me, and someone whose intelligence and bipartisanship at least 98 percent of US Senators could usefully emulate. He had a suspicion of an authoritarian instinct he thought he saw in the far left wing of the Democratic party. I think you might have had this in mind when you wrote “San Francisco, Boston, and Us.” [themail, January 26]

But try to be a bit more understanding of Smart Growth, and don’t confuse it with anti-free speech campus codes, or with Puritan New England. There are legitimate reasons to like Smart Growth without being an authoritarian. First, we are a society that spends huge amounts of money on oil. When the price goes up, the country goes into recession — and then we get lost jobs and higher government deficits at all levels. This scenario has played out in 1974, 1979/80, and 2008 (the Great Recession we are in had other, larger causes than just $140/barrel oil, but when oil hit $140/barrel, people lost many tens of billions of spending power, and it was an important contributor to where we now find ourselves). It would be good, from the perspective of anyone in the US, to reduce our oil consumption. If people live closer to work and don’t drive cars to work, that is a good thing.

Secondly, not everyone on this blog would call themselves an environmentalist, and there are many different meanings to the word in any case, but another good reason to like smart growth is that increasing suburbanization where forests and farms used to be really does reduce and harm the natural world. If you would like, I can expound on that in another E-mail — just ask. A third reason to like Smart Growth is that society spends fewer resources on building and maintaining roads and bridges, and at the individual level, on lost time due to traffic jams, which as we can see by looking around us, can’t really be dealt with by government — except by efforts like Smart Growth.

Where you go off the tracks, Gary, is that smart growth does not compel anyone to not live where they don’t want to. You said that New Urbanism prevents “the diffusion of Americans out into the exurbs where they will live as they please rather than following all the rituals and requirements that the New England mind knows are best.” Please, Gary, you really do know better than that. If you want to live in the exurbs, nobody will stop you. A more likely interpretation of the Smart Growth wars is that suburban developers need sewers and roads to be build, by governments at taxpayer expense. To do that, they curry favor with local suburban boards, usually with PAC money, just as developers do in the District. It helps them get their way when Smart Growthers can be portrayed as authoritarian enemies of the people.

There are very legitimate criticisms of how Smart Growth is carried out in DC. These criticisms have to do with destroying the fabrics of neighborhoods, and of running roughshod over established comprehensive plans and zoning laws and regulations, for starters. To the extent that Smart Growth advocates cut corners and evade established procedures for democratically determining land use decisions, then I begin to agree with an authoritarian critique. But it seems to me that most city governments turn to strong-arming projects they want — whether it is baseball stadiums or anything else that PAC money contributors want. Does the name Peter Nickles ring a bell? Do you confuse him with Cotton Mather? It isn’t a return to Puritanism, it is in large part just same old, same old: money talks.



Smart Meter Education Workshop, January 31
Herbert H. Jones, III,

Pepco has begun installing “smart meters,” at the premises of every electric customer in the District of Columbia. The Company anticipates that all of the new meters will be installed by December 2011. To assist DC consumers in the transition from traditional analog meters to the new “smart meters,” the Office of the People’s Counsel will continue to partnering with government agencies and community organizations to present “Smart Meter Education Workshops.”

At the Smart Meter Education Workshops consumer will learn what to do to prepare for the meter exchange; how to alert PEPCO that someone in your home has special medical needs; the steps of the meter installation process; and about proposed changes to rates, bills, and services. The DC Office of the People’s Counsel and Ward Five Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr., will sponsor the next workshop on Monday, January 31, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE.


Prof. Maurice Jackson Lecture on Anthony Benezet: Quaker Abolitionist, February 1
George Williams,

On Tuesday, February 1, the DC Public Library presents Dr. Maurice Jackson, associate professor of History at Georgetown University and author of Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism, for a Black History Month lecture. Jackson will chronicle the contributions of Anthony Benezet, the eighteenth-century Quaker leader who challenged slavery by educating black children. His lecture will be followed by a performance of the Sidwell Friends Chamber Chorus. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m., and be held at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, located at 901 G Street, NW. For a complete listing of the Library events, visit


DC for Democracy Candidate Forum, February 3
Daniel Wedderburn,

The candidate forum for the at-large council special election has been rescheduled for Thursday, February 3, at 6:00-8:30 p.m. at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW.

The following eight candidates were invited and are confirmed to attend: Sekou Biddle, Joshua Lopez, Patrick Mara, Stanley Mayes, Vincent Orange, Alan Page, Jacque Patterson, and Bryan Weaver.


Hollywood Modern: Film Design of the 1930’s, February 5-March 8
Tara Miller,

The National Building Museum is proud to partner with the American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center (AFI) in presenting the film series Hollywood Modern: Film Design of the 1930’s, a month-long festival highlighting the eclectic — and occasionally over the top — modernist set designs seen in ten classic films of the era. Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday and National Building Museum curator Deborah Sorensen will introduce the series before the screening of the first movie, Grand Hotel, on February 5.

All films are screened at the AFI Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD. Tickets can only be purchased through the AFI web site ( or box office. NBM Members receive the AFI member rate by showing their NBM Membership card.


MOMIE’s TLC Black History Event for the Whole Family, February 13
Ingrid Drake,

On Sunday, February 13, from 5:00-7:30 p.m., MOMIE’s TLC is having its annual Opening Gala for the Children’s Gallery of Black History at All Souls Church (1500 Harvard Street, NW). There will be food, entertainment, and children’s activities. You and your family will also get a tour of the Children’s Gallery of Black History, which features interactive exhibits on the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s theme of Standing Up for Justice During Civil War. The Gallery features child-friendly empowering exhibits on the lives of Captain Mbaye Diagne, Rwanda; Emmanuel Jal, Sudan; Elizabeth Keckley, US Civil War; Robert Smalls, US Civil War; Lt. Alexander Augusta, US Civil War; Mridula Sarabhai, India-Pakistan; Eliza Burton “Lyda” Conley, Native People’s Liberation Struggle; Sonia Umanzor, local leader from El Salvador.

At the Gala, MOMIE’s TLC will also present its 2011 Black History Awards to filmmaker Haile Gerima, 2011 Winner of the Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti African Self Determination Award, and Sylvia Robinson, Founder of the Emergence Arts Collective, 2011 Winner of the A. Philip Randolph Organizing for Empowerment Award.

Tickets are available at the door for $15/individual or $25/family. Business sponsorship is also available. For more information call 545-1919 or E-mail


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