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July 3, 2011

Crime and Punishment

Dear Punishers:

The District of Columbia is not alone in being shamed by politicians who have no shame. Prince Georges County is now blushing from the behavior of Leslie Johnson, a member of the Prince Georges County Council and wife of former Prince Georges County Executive Jack Johnson. Both Johnsons were caught receiving bribes in a pay for play scheme. Leslie Johnson didn’t resign from the county council on the day that she was caught by the FBI, stuffing a cash bribe in her brassiere and flushing a check bribe down her toilet. She didn’t resign when she was indicted. She didn’t even resign when she submitted her guilty plea in court and the court found her guilty. Instead, she has declared her intention to remain on the county council and draw her paycheck until October 13, when she will be sentenced and will, presumably, begin serving time in jail. Then, finally, a Maryland state law will kick in, and she will be forced from office.

In recent days, both the Washington Post editorial board ( and columnist Robert McCartney ( have called upon Johnson to resign and upon her county council colleagues — the majority of whom have remained silent about her case — to publicly denounce her crimes.

Odds are that, as some current scandals ripen into indictments, the District will soon face the dilemma that Prince Georges faces with Leslie Johnson, and it’s likely to face it more than once. But if the Prince Georges government is failing the test, failing to face up to the corruption of elected officials, failing to repudiate them and their corruption, the odds are also that the District government and its elected officials will fail even more badly. After all, they wouldn’t like to judge. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I couldn’t find a provision in DC law that requires elected officials to resign from office if they’re indicted, convicted, or sentenced for a crime. I may be missing something, but it looks to me like a DC politician can serve in office while he or she serves time in jail.


Here’s a proposal that doesn’t seem far-fetched anymore. The DC government is moving to provide our soft drug needs through marijuana dispensaries, to facilitate our hard drug needs through needle exchange programs, and to provide our gambling needs through government-run slots parlors. It is fighting to provide our abortion needs against the resistance of backward, unenlightened federal legislators who don’t understand that to us abortion is a sacrament. Government is providing for all of our basic needs except for sex. Isn’t it time for the DC government to open its own licensed and regulated houses of prostitution? Legalized, government-run prostitution would increase the employment of local residents at the same time that it would encourage tourism. The DC government would make money by taking not just taxes, but also the pimp’s share of the profits. Whore houses could be run by the Department of Employment Services in cooperation with the DC Housing Authority, and teens could be introduced to the profession through the Summer Youth Employment Program. By having the government run the program, we could ensure that there would be no sexual or gender discrimination: male, female, and transgender sex workers and clients would all be treated equally, perhaps assigned to each other at random. And, just as Councilmember Michael Brown sells his online gambling proposal as a consumer protection program to protect gamblers from unscrupulous Internet gambling sites, the mayor and councilmembers who support the proposal could promote it as a consumer protection program. As government-run facilities, the brothels would serve only healthy snacks, prescribed by Councilmember Cheh’s dietary regulations, and they would not serve sodas or sugary juices, and they would ban smoking, at least cigarette smoking. The brothels would protect everyone from both fattening diets and secondhand smoke. We do have our values and our priorities.

Gary Imhoff


Kwame Brown’s Day of Reckoning
Dorothy Brizill,

On Thursday, July 7, at 10:00 a.m., the DC Board of Elections and Ethics will meet in room 280N of One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW. It will hear the case of the Office of Campaign Finance versus the Committee to Re-Elect Kwame Brown (Institution of a Charge and Formal Hearing). Following the OCF’s release on April 4 of its Final Audit Report on the Committee to Re-Elect Kwame Brown ( and further investigation by the OCF, on June 10 it filed a complaint with the Board of Elections against Brown’s 2008 reelection committee ( In the complaint, as the OCF’s press release stated, “The Committee is charged, among other things, with failure to report 210 contributions totaling $102,763.00, failure to report 53 expenditures totaling $169,431.49, failure to amend its Statement of Organization to include a bank account and identify a signatory, and failure to substantiate $174,785.57 in expenditures, all of which are in violation of the DC Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act.”

At the conclusion of the public hearing, the BOEE will deliberate in private and review all evidence presented by OCF and Kwame Brown’s attorney, Fred Cooke. If it follows its past practice, BOEE will then issue a written order in which the board can decide to impost a fine for the Committee’s violations of campaign finance laws and also refer the matter to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia for criminal prosecution.


Vegas on the Potomac
Patrick Thibodeau,

The District’s new gambling law has the potential of leading to radical transformation of neighborhoods. Here’s how. This law was approved as a rider to the budget last December. It was authored by Councilmember Michael Brown, and approved with by the apparent tacit endorsement of then Mayor-elect Gray. It was adopted with stealth and for good reason. This law offers casino gambling electronically from servers managed by DC Lottery and its contractor, Greek-based Intralot. The initial games will include bingo, poker and slots. Gambling will be allowed from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. DC Lottery will decide which businesses can offer electronic gaming under the same process it uses to approve lottery terminals at retail stores. There is no limit to the number of restaurants, bars and hotels that can be approved as electronic gaming venues. As it now stands, the local ANCs will not be notified in advance or asked for input.

Bars and restaurants that offer gambling will see new types of customers arriving in the morning and afternoon to gamble. Gambling may become their leading source of profits as well as food and liquor sales. These businesses may start focusing on supporting gamblers, such as expanding the number of gambling terminals and creating environments that cater to different age groups. Before too long, neighborhoods may begin to see neon signs that say, simply, “casino.” Those signs will be an entirely accurate description of the activity allowed inside these establishments. Once inside a bar and restaurant that offers electronic casino gambling, customers will log onto, accessible only through the District’s internal network, DC-Net. They will be able to use their own laptops but bars and restaurants will likely offer terminals for customer use. Bars and restaurants that offer gambling will see new types of customers arriving in the morning and afternoon to gamble. Gambling may become their leading source of profits as well as food and liquor sales. Before too long, neighborhoods may begin to see neon signs that say, simply, “casino.” Those signs will be an entirely accurate description of the activity allowed inside these establishments.

To gamble, you will need to set up an account. Credit cards will be prohibited. Gamblers will be prohibited from adding more than to $250 to their account each week, or $13,000 a year. It’s unclear whether the initial $250 deposit will have to be exhausted before new funds can be added. An important part of a casino’s operation is its financial services in support of customers. Neighborhood casinos will want the ability to accept up to $250 cash from a customer and put it on account. Or, they may want the capability of issuing a “gift card” that a customer can use to establish their online account. (A wide range of customers may want a gift card option to avoid any risk of entering their debit card information online, especially over a WiFi network that may be in use). Payday loan type companies may set up shop next to neighborhood casinos with offers of gambling specific gift cards.

In summary, DC’s casino gambling law has the potential of creating neighborhood strips of blinking casino signs and payday loan companies. Entirely new business ventures may take root in response to the law. The 4:00 a.m. gambling operation limit means businesses will be encouraged to stay open longer. A crime increase seems likely. Neighborhood gambling will also hurt neighborhood economies. Gambling doesn’t create new wealth. It competes for household dollars now spent on other goods and services. Following a Finance Committee roundtable last week, Councilmember Jack Evans, called for additional study on the proposal. He announced an agreement to prevent implementation of gambling in neighborhoods until public hearings are held in each Ward about the proposal. He wants to see rules that ensure neighborhood engagement. His action was commendable, but the law remains a clear threat to city neighborhoods. It’s also entirely possible that proponents may push for downtown casino operations in the interim. Despite Evan’s action, the law’s proponents remain on track to achieve their objective. I urge people to raise this issue with our elected leadership. [For more information, see]


Ward Five Is Not a Den of Corruption
Kathryn Pearson-West,

Lydia DePillis has written an item in the Housing Complex blog at Washington City Paper calling “Ward 5 a Den of Corruption,” ( How insulting to the good people that call Ward Five home! True, Ward 5 is going through a somewhat embarrassing period of scandals, where some in leadership may possibly have stumbled, but that is not the way of life or culture in Ward 5. The leadership accused of wrongdoing has not gone to court or pleaded guilty to anything. The judge’s gavel has not yet come down on the accused; therefore, so far, the troubles amount to trying times, though the possible outcome might bring pause. Scandals are never pretty and are not representative of the ward. While Ward 5 has its share of problems and challenges, it is far from a den of corruption, and the citizens refuse for their ward to be painted or labeled as such.

Contrary to what one may read, Ward 5 is a ward marked with heightened civic activity, pride, and responsibility despite relentless efforts to turn a section of the ward into a red light district or perhaps to establish a future zone for marijuana dispensaries. Many citizens want to make sure that there are no plans to target Ward 5 as a preferred site for online gambling at or near libraries, recreation centers, or elsewhere. Ward 5 is a ward filled with long time residents that take pride in their communities and newcomers seeking to take root in a promising ward. It is a ward filled with diverse communities and cultures. Yes, the ward still has some issues that need to be resolved. It is not perfect or flawless but it is not corrupt.

Ward 5 has many citizens in their twilight years making old age seem like a time for many seniors to strut their stuff. Many eighty and ninety year olds can be seen enjoying life and keeping up with young folks. Check out some of the social events and see them dancing, joking, and living life to the fullest (even if some bring a cane with them). Try keeping up with some of their social calendars. And on the other end are families raising bright young children ready to succeed in this magnificent city. There are good parents trying to make a difference in the lives of their children and uniting with the proverbial village to raise a child. Ward 5 is no den of corruption, and residents resent that categorization. Ward 5 is a promising ward with a Costco on the way and other merchants to make neighborhoods sustainable. Should leaders go astray and be proven culpable in wrongdoing, residents will be ready to send them packing even if they are saddened by the gesture. Ward 5 is so keen on integrity and pinpointing potential problems that they repudiated the Ward 5 Democratic Committee for holding an election without ample notice, forcing the body to postpone the election until September. And that was just for not adhering to the rules, no matter how innocent the inaction may have been. There are watchdogs in the ward and there are citizens that will speak up and denounce unscrupulous activities or basically anything that deviates from the established rules. Rules are not made to be broken. Ward 5 is a ward of hope, dreams, and aspirations. It is a ward of citizens seeking change for the better and a ward of second chances, high expectations, and anticipation for a brighter tomorrow. Ward 5 is still standing with the doors open to a purposeful destiny and it is moving beyond the remorse of yesterday to reach the potential of the ward and its future. Citizens encourage strong ethics and when some fall short, redemption, prayers, rehabilitation, forgiveness and all that come into play, but clearly distance away from the public coffers is required for violators of the public trust, faith, and confidence. Ward Five nor the nation’s capital is a den of corruption or any other negative classification or moniker. The mighty Ward 5 is alive and well, but encountering a few potholes along the way to greatness. Ward “Fivers” are proud of their ward and if the leaders don’t measure up, then they are out and time moves on. But still, due process must be exercised and respected before residents call for your permanent exit, stage right.


The First Casualty
Bryce A. Suderow,

It looks like the first casualty of the redistricting battle will be Yvette Alexander, the city council member who represents Ward 7. This was revealed in a June 20 article in the Washington Times written by Jeffrey Anderson, During the week prior to June 20, twenty influential citizens from Ward 7 met in the offices of real estate developer H.R. Crawford and decided they needed to pick a candidate to run against Alexander next year.

There were three reasons given for this decision. First, Alexander is under investigation for stealing money from her constituent service fund. Second, she has not brought development to her ward. Third, and perhaps most important, Alexander did not grab a profitable part of Ward 6 during the redistricting negotiations. Instead she settled for Reservation 13.

Said Paul Savage (who drafted Anthony Williams to run for mayor several years ago), “Ward 6 raised heck, and their councilman supported them,” Mr. Savage said. “Ours didn’t. It’s about fairness and equity, and we don’t have it here.” Savage was articulating a bizarre but prevalent notion that is floating around Wards 7 and 8. According to this notion, because those wards are poverty stricken, somehow they are entitled to grab portions of wealthy areas that are gentrifying.


DC State Board of Education Opens Student Representative Application Process
Agnes Moss Lurry,

The District of Columbia State Board of Education is looking for two students to serve as representatives for the upcoming school year 2011-2012. All applications for the positions are due by the close of business on Friday, July 29.

The student representatives on the District of Columbia State Board of Education will act as liaisons between the student population of the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia State Board of Education. In order to serve as a student representative, applicants must be residents of the District of Columbia. All applicants must be currently enrolled as a junior or senior in a District of Columbia High School or a freshman, sophomore or junior in a local college or university. The student representative term begins in September 2011 and ends in July 2012.

All applicants wishing to serve as a Student Representative must submit an application via E-mail to or by ground mail to 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 723 North, Washington, DC 20001. Applications may be downloaded on the DC State Board of Education web site at For further information, please contact the DC State Board of Education Office at 741-0888.


InTowner Retail Sales Listings
P.L. Wolff,

Effective July 2011, the Selected Recent Real Estate Sales monthly feature of will no longer be published in the issue PDF but instead now has its own web page and may be accessed directly by the link in the middle of the home page or by the button in the left side panel.

We have today posted our listing of closings that were recorded during May that occurred for residential properties — including single-family houses, condos, and co-ops — in the several neighborhoods covered by us.



Smart Meter Education Workshop, July 6

The DC Office of the People’s Counsel and AARP present a Smart Meter Education Workshop on Wednesday, July 6, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., at 1901 Evarts Street, NE. Consumers 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. To request disability accommodations or interpreter services, please contact OPC at 727-3071.


Jazz Evening, July 7
Patricia Bitondo,

The DC Federation of Democratic Women, the mayor, and members of the city council invite you to an evening of jazz, cocktails, and auctions on Thursday, July 7, 6:30-9:00 p.m., at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. Music by Melinda Ford. Contributions $40, payable to the DC Federation of Democratic Women. Discount parking $7:00. For reservations or more information, contact Nancy Smalls, 288-7606.


Three Movements in Architecture, July 9, 16, 23
Stacy Adamson,

Every summer the National Building Museum hosts a series of lectures dedicated to significant movements in architectural history. Be sure to note the member and nonmember series tickets available for these programs until July 9. On three Saturdays in July, novices or professionals can learn about these movements in architectural history. This year’s Three Movements in Architecture series explores the following significant periods:

Saturday, July 9, 1:00-2:30 p.m., The Gothic Revival. Margaret M. Grubiak, Ph.D., assistant professor of architectural history at Villanova University explores the enduring legacy of the Gothic Revival, an architectural style that stood in stark contrast to the classicism of the 19th century.

Saturday, July 16, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Frank Lloyd Wright: Prairie School. David Bagnall, director of interpretation for Sites and Collections at the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, Oak Park, Illinois, discusses the distinctly American building forms of the Prairie school, created by Frank Lloyd Wright at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Saturday, July 23, 1:00-2:30 p.m., The Glass Box. G. Martin Moeller, Jr., National Building Museum senior vice president and curator, looks at the resurgence of glass curtain wall systems in modern office buildings, buildings that now offer energy efficiency and a “cool” factor.

All events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at For anyone who wants a closer look at the architectural styles featured in the series, use the self-guided tour sheets found at


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