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March 9, 2011


Dear Judges:

Bitter Fenty partisans, anxious to refight the last election, are gloating at the opportunity that Sulaimon Brown has given them to attack Mayor Vincent Gray and punish him for beating their hero in the 2010 election. I’m looking at you, Washington Post editorial board,

There was contact between the Sulaimon Brown for mayor campaign (which consisted, as far as anyone can determine, only of Sulaimon Brown himself) and the Gray for Mayor campaign, and for the past two weeks that in itself has been treated as a scandal. Competing political campaigns have communicated with each other ever since democratic elections have been held, so there’s nothing scandalous in that alone. Sulaimon Brown struck most observers during the campaign as being flaky, and not a credible candidate. Brown’s odd campaign consisted mostly of going to candidate forums and urging voters to vote for him but, if they couldn’t vote for him, to vote for Vincent Gray. After the Gray administration took office, Brown was given a job in the Department of Health Care Finance. (I use the passive voice here because it’s not yet clear exactly who was involved in arranging Brown’s hiring.) After questionable items in Brown’s history were disclosed, Brown was fired, and he began to retaliate by accusing Gray of a variety of unethical acts.

First, Brown accused Gray of not only encouraging him to make Fenty the primary target of his campaign, but of also of paying him to do so, both with cash during the primary campaign and with the job after the election. That’s an accusation worth investigating. A successful candidate’s rewarding his political supporters isn’t a crime or a scandal; on the contrary, it’s a consistent practice of all politicians. But there are two problems here. First, if one candidate’s campaign gave money to another candidate’s campaign, and neither campaign reported it, it’s a violation of campaign finance laws. Second, if Gray gave Brown a job for which he wasn’t qualified as a reward for his political assistance, that isn’t a crime, but it’s an offense against good government. Gray denies both payoffs, the cash one and the job one. Fenty partisans have jumped to believe Brown. Their argument for believing in Brown’s credibility is a self-contradictory one. They say that Brown’s case is obviously true because he is so flaky and unreliable and obviously unsuitable for the position he got that blatant political favoritism is the only explanation for hiring him.

On the other hand, Gray partisans turn that argument on its head. If Brown is so flaky and unreliable, they argue, why would anyone give Brown’s accusations against Gray any credibility? Brown has supported that argument by having a Charlie-Sheen-like breakdown in public, escalating his behavior and his outrageousness daily in order to keep himself the center of public attention. Brown approaches the District’s congressional oversight committee one day to tell his story; the next day he approaches the FBI; and the press reports those contacts as though they confer respectability on Brown’s story. Meanwhile, he escalates his accusations daily, fantasizing that Gray paid off precinct captains at the polls on primary day to suppress the vote in order to steal the election. The wildness of that charge should be enough to discourage even the most fanatical anti-Gray zealot from championing Brown, but by now they’re addicted, and ready to accept whatever he says.


I published the wrong E-mail address for Mary Levy with her submission to the last issue of themail. For those who want to correspond with her, her right address is, and I’ve corrected it in the online version of themail.

Gary Imhoff


I Signed Weaver’s Petition
David Schwartzman,

“David Schwartzman. Dorothy Douglas. Natale Stracuzzi. Nelson Rimensnyder. Eugene Kinlow. These names are amongst the 1,417 that Interim DC Councilmember Sekou Biddle says fellow candidate Bryan Weaver improperly collected in his attempt to get on the ballot for the April 26 At-Large special election.”

Why is Biddle challenging my signature on Weaver’s petition? Random choice in hopes of getting Weaver off the ballot? I signed Weaver’s petition, likewise the nominating petitions of Patterson, Mara, and all of the others when I was requested to, even though I strongly support my party’s candidate, Alan Page, DC Statehood Green Party, and wouldn’t vote for anyone else.

Why? Because everyone has a right to get on the ballot if they go to the trouble of getting three thousand good signatures. And since this is a Special Election, any registered voter, regardless of affiliation, can sign any petition. This is what democracy look like. Critical issues such as the brutal and avoidable budget cuts in low income programs and why our elected government continues to undertax wealthy residents and hand out corporate tax giveaways deserve to be debated.

Biddle’s challenge stinks.

[I think that I’ve criticized Sekou Biddle enough in themail so that I can defend him on this issue without being accused of partisan favor. There are plenty of good reasons that the signature of a legitimate, registered voter on a nominating petition can be challenged. For example, a whole petition sheet must be rejected if it was circulated by someone who isn’t a registered voter, who used a different address from his registered address, or who signed the sheet on a date that predates the individual signatures on the sheet. I haven’t checked any of the signatures listed in the DCIst article, but without knowing why Biddle’s representatives challenged specific signatures and examining the petition sheets, I can’t accuse them of bad faith. — Gary Imhoff]


GAO Report on Charter Schools
Paul Basken,

From today’s GAO Daybook: “The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following report, correspondence and testimonies: District of Columbia Charter Schools: Criteria for Awarding School Buildings to Charter Schools Needs Additional Transparency. GAO-11-263, March 9.,; Highlights —


Diabetes Clinics
Leo E. Hendricks,

Fidelity Christian Center Church has opened two safety net diabetes clinics for underserved and uninsured persons with Type 2 diabetes at 3937 Ferrara Drive in Silver Spring, MD, and in Washington, DC, at 1208 Crittenden Street, NW. Whatever a person can afford to pay out-of-pocket is the price he or she pays for each clinic visit. Clinic visits are by appointment only on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Call today for an appointment at 301-942-0678.

Those who may wish to help underwrite our safety net clinic may do so via our web site at


Councilmembers Are Not Part Time
Edward Cowan,

In her post Sunday [themail, March 6], Dorothy contributed to transparency by listing the salaries of all councilmembers and council staffers. But why did she write that councilmembers’ jobs “are considered part time?” Considered by whom? And why does Dorothy put this in the passive voice, leaving us wondering who so considers them?

Does Dorothy consider members’ duties to amount to part time work? I don’t. From what I’ve seen at the Wilson Building in the past six years and at public meetings around town, a councilmember’s job is a full time job — not an ordinary Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 job, but one that entails more than forty hours and five days most weeks. Some members may work harder than others, but so what?

This phrase “considered part time,” which Loose Lips used a couple of weeks ago without explanation, is largely a canard — and when put in the passive voice, a sneaky accusation for which the writer ducks responsibility.

[Councilmembers’ jobs are considered part time because they are both legally and factually part time. The council chairman’s position is legally a full time job, and the chairman is forbidden from taking any other paid position. The other twelve councilmembers are free to take other jobs, and many councilmembers have worked at other jobs since the beginning of the home rule council. In the current council, the councilmembers who hold the most prominent and best-paid jobs are Jack Evans, David Catania, and Mary Cheh; other councilmembers also take consulting and short-term jobs. — Gary Imhoff]


Two-and-a-Half Cheers for Mary Levy’s Analysis
Len Sullivan,

The city owes a debt of gratitude to Mary Levy for her continuing outstanding knowledge of DCPS budgets and related statistics [themail, March 6]. But her persistent unwillingness to address the school infrastructure is a serious limitation. School expenses aren’t just about payrolls and spending per kid. They’re also about money wasted on obsolescent buildings and properties way in excess of what will ever be needed again. Selling those obsolete properties could become a welcome source of financing for the modern facilities the city should have — and for the extra services those schools should be providing to “recall” their dropouts.

Using the tables from Ms. Levy’s testimony, try this on for size: if those schools were right-sized to handle 63,400 kids in 2003, then there are thirty-four too many schools in 2011 (out of 120). If those schools were reconfigured (closer to national averages) to hold five hundred kids in Elementary and PreK-G8; six hundred kids in Middle schools, and one thousand kids in High Schools. then the current DCPS has forty too many aging schools, forty too many principals, forty too many cafeteria staffs, custodian staffs, sports coordinators, etc. And imagine what you could sell those forty properties (on perhaps two hundred acres) for. It is high time to raise the heat on all aspects of the DCPS shambles.


Half a Cheer for Rich Layman’s Speculation
Len Sullivan

In a quick scan of census data (now a few years old), I can’t find any support for the notion that DC should pay any of its local government workers more because of all those many jobs they do, or how well they do them. The average annual wage for all state and local government workers in 2007 was $46,800, and they totaled fifty-three workers per one thousand in population. By comparison, DC had 52 percent more workers per capita and paid them 30 percent more than the national average, while our well-run neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia averaged -3%/+3% in workforce, and +13%/-6% in pay, respectively. Even a really low-population-density state like Vermont had 19 percent more workers but 8 percent lower pay than the national average. I suspect the DC aberration has gotten only worse since 2007.

Given DC’s dubious performance as a middling US city, poverty-burdened core city, reluctant national capital city, make-believe tiny county, or would-be poorest state, I see no analytical justification for padded pay scales and payrolls in this, Layman’s rightly-dubbed “lesser functioning community.”



John Ross on Palestinian Human Rights, March 14
Ann Loikow,

On Monday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m., John Ross will speak to the St. Columba’s Peace Fellowship. John is a human rights advocate and intern at the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights. From August 2009 to June 2010, he taught English to Palestinian Christian and Muslim students in the Bethlehem area and lived with Palestinian and Jordanian seminarians at the Latin Patriarchal (Catholic) Seminary of Beit Jala, Palestine. He will speak about his experiences in Bethlehem and his current work on behalf of Palestinian human rights. The event will beheld at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, which is located at 42nd and Albemarle Streets. NW, one block west of the Tenleytown Metro station on the Red line. The public is invited to attend.


Business Workshop: Saving Money and Promoting by Going Green, March 16
Paul Williams,

Why not learn how to save and make green with Eco-Coach? Ten key steps to sustainability and saving money for your business. Dupont Circle Main Streets is proud to have Eco-Coach conduct a 75-minute interactive workshop for the owners, managers, and staffs of area businesses on the morning of March 16 at the Dupont Hotel. The workshop will educate everyone on easy steps to become more eco-friendly while saving money. The participants will interact by considering and discussing their own situations. Participants in the workshop will be provided with resources and information to help them change their habits and to continue their education on money saving friendly alternatives. Follow through on what you learn, and you can advertise and promote your business as green! Cost is $17, which includes a full breakfast. Seats are limited to twenty-five: Register today at


Morehouse College Glee Club at the DC Public Library, March 18
George Williams;

On March 18, the Morehouse College Glee Club will perform at the at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library as part of its spring tour. Directed by Dr. David E. Morrow, the ninety-two-member Glee Club performance will include spirituals, gospel, and Yoruba selections. The free performance will begin at noon and alumni are encouraged to attend. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is located at 901 G Street, NW, near the Metro Center and Gallery Place Metro stations. For more information, call 727-1261.


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