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April 13, 2011

Does Anyone Here Know How to Play This Game?

Dear Gamers:

Does anyone here know how to play this game? Does anyone remember how any US territories got statehood? The last states admitted to statehood were Alaska and Hawaii, in 1959, so the answer may be that no one does. Certainly no one playing the game in DC has studied statehood movements that were successful in any territories.

Let me give a hint. No territory seeking statehood ever won it by trying to organize mass demonstrations against the US federal government, or by alienating members of Congress, or by making an enemy of a major national political party. No territory ever advocated for statehood by trying to show at every turn that its political values were far out of — if not actually diametrically opposed to — the American mainstream.

On the contrary, every territory that successfully joined the American union of states demonstrated its public’s love and affection for the union, made friends with members of Congress of both major political parties, and showed either that it would be competitive politically for both parties or that it could be successfully paired with another territory seeking statehood so that the current political balance would be preserved. Every territory showed that it had the capability of being self-sustaining, even prosperous, on its own. Every territory proved it was able to govern itself well — as Alaska did by writing what was universally considered a model state constitution while it was seeking statehood.

The politicians and groups involved in the statehood and self-governance movement are heavily influenced by the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and by the South Africa, antiapartheid movement led by TransAfrica in DC in the 1980’s. And the tactics that they use today — protests, rallies, civil disobedience — are the same tactics used by both earlier movements. But nostalgia for the good old days of protest movements or jealousy at having been too young to have participated in the landmark causes of earlier generations is no excuse for using tactics that are inappropriate, or in fact counterproductive, for today’s cause.

DC’s political leaders and the leaders of its statehood organizations consider it demeaning to behave well, to build good personal relations, and to practice good government. They believe DC doesn’t need to do these things because DC is owed statehood. So they would rather demonstrate against the US government, have sit-ins, and indulge in charades of public disobedience where they will be arrested by police officers who will be sure to be deferential to them and book them on the smallest criminal charges. They’ll be celebrated for their “bravery,” while they neither achieve anything nor put themselves at risk — a friend pointed out to me today that none of the councilmembers who practice law (Catania, Cheh, and Evans) risked their livelihoods by getting arrested themselves. And they can pull off stunts like this repeatedly, because they’ll be in no danger of achieving the statehood that they claim to be their goal.

David Weigel, “You’re Under Arrest,” Slate,
Eric Gislason, “A Brief History of Alaska Statehood: 1867-1959,”
History and Cultural Studies,

Gary Imhoff


AU’s Expansion Plan
Johanna Farley,

Meeting at the Foxhall Community Room Monday night, a coalition of neighborhood groups and associations, united in their opposition to American University’s Campus Expansion plan, voted to extend their thanks to City Council Chair Kwame Brown for his strong support of their position. On April 7, Brown wrote a letter to Anthony Hood, Chairman of the DC Zoning Commission, emphasizing the taxpaying residents’ concerns about the many objectionable conditions that would result from the Expansion Plan. He urged the Zoning Commission not to consider the American University Campus plan until the residents had been seriously heard and taken into account in the plan.

Chairman Brown himself paid a site visit to Westover Place on March 30 and met with representatives from Tenleytown Neighbors, Tenley Campus Neighbors, Wesley Heights Civic Association, Tenleytown Historical Society, Foxhall and Westover Place Homeowners Association, and noted firsthand how placing 770 students in several five-story dormitories on AU’s current Nebraska Avenue parking lot, just forty feet away from the backs of existing homes, would horribly impact the taxpaying residents of those homes. Arriving at the meeting late due to gridlock on Massachusetts Avenue, he also got to experience at first hand one of the major concerns of the neighbors — increasing pedestrian and vehicular traffic feeding into Ward Circle, already a choke point to north-south Massachusetts traffic and east-west Nebraska Avenue traffic. The AU plans for development on both Nebraska Avenue and Tenley Circle will effectively encapsulate Nebraska Avenue, making it the main road through its campus, and virtually a pedestrian walkway during certain times of the day as 770 students cross over and back from their proposed dorms and food establishments.

Other objectionable conditions cited by the residents included density, crime, parking, and quality of life issues. Said David Fehrmann of Westover Place, one of the representatives who met with Brown, “Over the past eighteen months we have met with the DC Office of Planning, the Dept. of Transportation, the local ANC’s, Ward 3 Representative Mary Cheh, the candidates running for the Council-At-Large seat and AU. The urgent concerns of the neighbors have been expressed at multiple joint meetings. So far AU has turned a deaf ear. Maybe this will help them to listen and act upon those concerns.” For further information, contact Susan Farrell, 422-2261, or Mary Ellen Fehrmann, 237-8774.


ABRA Testimony
Asher Corson,

[I prepared this testimony for the April 11 city council hearing on oversight of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration, but I was unable to attend it because of an urgent family matter.] To begin, I would like to thank some of the great people that work at Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and that serve on the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Specifically, ABRA Director Fred Moosally, the ABRA professional staff, and ABC Board member Mike Silverstein are true public servants that deserve to be recognized for their commitment to representing the citizens of the District of Columbia. And thank you, Chairperson Graham, for supporting these individuals.

However, I share the concerns that were expressed by ANC Commissioner Charles Reed at the most recent Committee hearing on ABRA. In brief, I am concerned that the leadership of the ABC Board has made questionable legal decisions invalidating voluntary agreements and expanding operations of problematic establishments. Furthermore, I am distressed that the disposition of the ABC Board’s leadership has changed drastically under Mr. Brodsky and that he has adopted a confrontational approach to neighborhoods and an inappropriately defensive approach to applicants. The reports on WTOP and other media sources that allege that Mr. Brodsky has used his position to benefit his private business are quite disturbing. I am relieved and grateful to hear that Mayor Gray will not reappoint Mr. Brodsky.

In order to restore the tarnished faith in the ABC Board, it is necessary that Mr. Brodsky’s replacement be a person who can bring a renewed respect for ANCs, neighborhoods, ethics, and the rule of law. Mr. Graham, I would ask that you work with ANCs citywide and particularly the ANCs that have been negatively impacted by Mr. Brodsky’s behavior to find a suitable replacement. Furthermore, I believe that the Federation of Citizens Associations and Federation of Civic Associations can provide valuable input. Chairperson Graham, in closing I would respectfully ask you reconsider your position on first time liquor license applications. You have stated that your preference is to give first time applicants “the benefit of the doubt” by allowing them to have the full hours for which they apply. In practice, this policy has allowed for certain operators to take advantage of the system by opening new venues under new companies. The real impact of this policy is that owners do not have to be responsible for their previous bad history in a given neighborhood by forming new organizations. I am eager to work with your Committee on any of the issues discussed in my testimony. Thank you for considering my views on ABRA and the ABC Board.


Taxis, Medallions, Bike Lanes, Etc.
Richard Layman,

You can be in favor of bike lanes, bike sharing, and other programs such as bag “taxes” for a variety of reasons. Bike lanes and bike sharing programs make a lot of sense in terms of congestion management, active transportation practices which promote health, etc. Regardless of what Qawi Robinson writes [themail, April 10], it’s a distraction and a mistake to link these kinds of policies with the specter of the creation of a taxi medallion system. There is no connection. None. And if he wants to succeed in opposing the proposed taxi medallion system, he and others need to be hyper-focused on that fact.

Frequently, I lament that DC doesn’t have a master transportation plan comparable in scope to that of Seattle or Arlington County. Such a plan should include coverage of the taxicab industry. If you look at the Taxicab Commission web page, it is very glaring that there is no overall plan for the taxicab element of DC’s transportation system. The proposed taxicab legislation should not be approved in advance of the creation of an overall transportation plan for this industry. It’s worse than we think, because the reality is that the proposed taxi medallion system is a form of political entrepreneurism, where the proponents convert a license costing a few hundred dollars every couple years to a permanent license which for all intents and purposes can’t be revoked, into an asset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, where the value of the asset is not reaped by the citizens/DC government, but by those who have the privilege of being licensed.

This legislation isn’t about creating and supporting a free market, it’s about taking public assets and privatizing them, where all the monetary rewards of an increase in the value of the asset are solely reaped by the licensee. Right now, the city has few barriers to entry to taxicab licensing. It’s true that this makes it hard for drivers to make a living because supply tends to be greater than demand as a result. This problem has been accentuated by the change to a meter-based system, which no longer allows multiple trips per run, unlike the old zone system. (Carrying multiple riders should be encouraged, as it is a more efficient use of the taxi.) However, this can be addressed without monetizing the value of the licenses and making various taxicab interests wealthy as a result of legislative diktat. The meter system can be adjusted so that taxicabs can carry multiple fares. A ceiling on the number of cabs could be imposed and adjusted annually. Quality standards can be imposed.

A plan could also provide other incentives/concepts/methods to ensure service in underserved neighborhoods such as shared taxi services/jitneys, running regular routes, and maybe with some transportation subsidy (such services operate in many communities, even in Montreal, which has three times the population of DC, where it isn’t cost-effective to provide bus service). Similarly, concerns about the cost of the MetroAccess system could also be addressed, and the taxi industry could be involved in providing rides at less cost — further providing support for taxi service in underserved areas. In short, a plan for the taxicab industry and its operation in DC should be the first order of business, and the situation evaluated, before the city council enacts substantive change to how the industry is operated.


DPW to Observe Emancipation Day
Kevin B. Twine,

The DC Department of Public Works will observe Emancipation Day, Friday, April 15, which will affect how certain sanitation and parking enforcement services will be delivered. Friday’s trash and recycling collections will be made on Saturday, April 16. Street sweeping will be suspended on Friday and resume on Monday, April 18. Parking enforcement, including ticket writing for residential parking, expired meters, street sweeping, and rush-hour violations will be suspended on Friday and resume on Saturday, April 16. The Ft. Totten Transfer Station will be open both Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16. The transfer station is open to District residents Friday between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., and on Saturday it is open to residents between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Directions to Ft. Totten, 4900 John F. McCormack Road, NE: 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.


White House Response to DC Riders Is Tone Deaf
Adam Barr, DC for Obama,

During the 2008 presidential campaign, DC for Obama grew to an organization of nine thousand members and mobilized a third of its membership to knock on doors for Barack Obama in early primary states and battleground states. During the final two months of the general election, we knocked on one hundred thousand doors in Virginia, helping to secure a historic win there. Our sixteen thousand members are some of the President’s earliest and most loyal supporters. Today we are saying we’ve had enough. We are outraged, and we are pledging to withhold our support until President Obama does right by the District of Columbia.

The White House response on the issue of the DC riders included in the FY11 budget bill has been opaque at best. Tough choices had to be made? The President had to do some things he didn’t like? He fought for Planned Parenthood, but he chose not to fight for the women of DC. It has now come to light that other riders were also included in the bill, namely the removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list. This is coming from the President that promised to bring science back into the White House. The fact that DC residents and defenseless animals were singled out in this deal is disappointing, though not surprising. Both have no representation in Congress, and both are being treated as expendable. We expected more from President Obama, and we hope he rectifies these mistakes before it is too late.

The President may think he can win reelection without DC voters, but he will have his work cut out for him to win the state of Virginia without DC volunteers. We urge the President to reconsider. Our support is not unconditional.


We Need More Anger, Not Less, Over Attacks on Home Rule
Bill Mosley,

Gary Imhoff has it exactly backward [themail, April 10] when he slams Delegate Norton’s “inflammatory” and “counterproductive” rhetoric in criticizing Congress for imposing school vouchers and banning DC funding for abortions as part of the deal to prevent the government from shutting down. We all should be angry at being used as pawns in the budget negotiations, and especially at the willingness of our so-called “friends,” President Obama and Senator Harry Reid, to throw us to the wolves in order to get their deal done (“John, I will give you DC abortion,” Obama told House Speaker Boehner, according to the Washington Post). Two hundred years of playing nice has gotten us nowhere. DC residents need to show some anger about our rights being trampled in order to get the attention of Congress and the rest of the country.


Playing Nice Gets You Nowhere
Malcolm Wiseman, Petworth County,

I applaud our non-representative in Congress! For several years or more I’ve been down on Delegate Holmes Norton for what I think are a softball approach in general and IMHO her misguided efforts and priorities in support of voting rights in lieu of DC statehood legislation. Well, she redeemed herself with me in that TV interview last Friday evening. I don’t remember if she mentioned “statehood,” but she sure was chewing on the essence of DC statehood. The odious easy riders open up and illuminate the heart of the tyranny.

If you think how slimy, random, and, yes, even cowardly is this bill, how can you not be angry? Visibly self-restrained, the Delegate still sharply delivered her message, making bold in her stance, making the case. It was a great job of “non-representing!”

Also, the cameraman does a good job for her. Thank you, Eleanor!


A Real Charlatan Moment
Ron Drake,

Tuesday’s demonstration that supposedly became caught up in the passion of the moment that then resulted in the arrest of DC elected officials was one of the more irresponsible and disrespectful acts in recent memory. Those officials who shook their fist at the capitol dome, embraced plastics restraints placed on their wrists by non-hostile police, and who then secured release before the sun came up may have experienced a feel good moment, but at what cost to DC, and to integrity. They may believe it played well with DC residents, but I have a different view. It was a mockery of those who suffered beatings, broken bodies, imprisonment, and death to secure freedom. Who among those arrestees paid that price? Who among those arrestees would dare engage in such pretend conduct, if they faced the real cost risked and suffered by the martyrs to freedom. A real charlatan moment.



Protest the WaPo’s Education Fraud, April 15
Nathan Saunders, President, Washington Teachers’ Union,

On Friday, April 15, at 10:30 a.m., educators, parents, and the community will protest at the Washington Post headquarters, 1150 15th Street, NW, because: 1) the Washington Post ownership of Kaplan Higher Education, a US education profitmaking firm, creates their own conflict of interest on education policies; 2) the Washington Post has buried the truth about education reform in DC; and 3) the Washington Post endorses IMPACT (test-score centered teacher evaluation) at any cost. It has consistently discounted the credentials, abilities and performance of hardworking DC public school professionals while secreting its own multi-billion dollar defrauding of the Federal Department of Education loan programs. Kaplan’s revenues, which are the primary sole of the Post’s survival, fuel the yellow journalism of the editorial board’s JoAnn Armao, et. al.

Its education stories have been uniquely biased against traditional public education and labor unions, creating a worse situation. Their agenda has been about profit, not the people of Washington, DC, or children. No firewall exists at the Washington Post because its executives read financial statements and know that, absent Kaplan Higher Education, they are out of business. Real education reform concepts, such as the broader, bolder reforms have been banished, while Michelle Rhee and those who teach to the test are unabashedly embraced. It took USA Today and other independent investigators to break the test cheating scandals and fraud stories. Profits motivates them, not education. All are invited to this rally, designed to speak truth to power for working people.


UDC Sustainable Agriculture Conference, April 16
Joe Libertelli,

The University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) celebrates Earth Day by hosting the inaugural “International Urban Sustainability Summit.” The 2011 theme is “FOOD — Sovereignty, Security, and Justice.” The Summit will take place on Saturday, April 16, from 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., on UDC’s Van Ness Campus. The International Urban Sustainability Summit is timely, as it will bring together experts, grassroots leaders, and members of the community who are interested in exchanging information and finding out more about fair and equal access to healthy food options in the urban environment. The day-long event will feature a collective of diverse speakers, presenters, and workshop leaders who will provide a broad understanding of urban sustainability issues. Additionally, the venue will feature “Green” exhibitors providing information on cutting edge resources, best practices, community involvement, and the latest Green products. The event will provide for great networking and it will inform, engage, and empower attendees to act.

The featured keynote speaker for the occasion is “Green” innovator and 2008 MacArthur Fellow, Will Allen, founder of Growing Power — a model urban sustainability program. Will Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation, production, and delivery of healthy foods to underserved urban populations.

For more information, including a complete schedule, and to register for the event, go to


Andrea Cochran at National Building Museum, April 19
Stacy Adamson,

The National Building Museum celebrates landscape architecture month with a spotlight on design lecture with landscape architect Andrea Cochran. The founding principal of California-based Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, Andrea Cochran, FASLA, discusses her firm’s recent residential and large-scale work, including Curran House and Allegheny Public Square in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cochran’s work is typified by geometric designs and a seamless integration of landscape, art, and architecture. Following the lecture, she signs copies of Andrea Cochran: Landscapes (Princeton Architectural Press). National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW (Judiciary Square Metro, Red Line). $12 museum, ASLA, and National Museum of Women in the Arts members; free students; $20 nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. To register, visit or call 272-2448. Tuesday, April 19, 6:30-8:00 p.m.


Amy Goodman at WPFW Town Hall Meeting, April 21
Ingrid Drake,

The WPFW Local Station Board is hosting a town hall meeting next Thursday, April 21, from 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Silver Spring Civic Center at 1 Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring. To kick it off, Amy Goodman will provide an update on the attack on public broadcasting. The purpose of the town hall is for our listeners to tell the board and station management how your community radio station is meeting your needs.

The Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, is a short walk from the Silver Spring metro stop and is accessible from several bus lines. Parking is free after 6:00 p.m. at the Wayne Avenue Garage (Garage 60), 921 Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring. This activity is not sponsored by, associated with or endorsed by Montgomery County Government. For more information, E-mail


Spring Flight Artists Bazaar, May 5
Lionel Thomas,

The Prince George’s Arts Council (PGAC) is pleased to invite local artists and artisans to participate in the upcoming Annual Spring Fling Artists Bazaar on Thursday, May 5, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event will take place at the University Town Center, Metro Center 3 Building, Lobby Atrium, located at 6525 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, MD. The bazaar will feature original artwork, handmade crafts and other vendors. To download vendor application, go to and click on SPRING FLING. The vendor application fee is $75.00. For more information, please call 301-277-1407 or write to E-mail at


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