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August 14, 2011

Consent of the Governed

Dear Consenters:

“A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 17 percent of likely US voters think the federal government today has the consent of the governed. Sixty-nine percent (69 percent) believe the government does not have that consent. Fourteen percent (14 percent) are undecided. . . . Perhaps it’s no surprise voters feel this way since only eight percent (8 percent) believe the average member of Congress listens to his or her constituents more than to their party leaders. That, too, is the lowest level measured to date. Eighty-four percent (84 percent) think the average congressman listens to party leaders more than the voters they represent,”

What would a comparable survey of DC voters find about their attitudes toward their elected city officials? Would the city council even reach the heights of Congress? What can our councilmembers and mayor do to regain our confidence? So far, councilmembers have done nothing except defend and try to justify their misuse of “constituent service funds,” campaign funds, earmarks, and other tax funds (see Isaac Arnsdorf’s article in Friday’s Washington Post, “DC Council Members Use Non-Profit to Fund Favorite Charities,”; defend and refuse to retreat from their approval of online Internet gambling and its attendant corruption (see the story in today’s New York Times,; dismiss their constituents’ concerns and doubts about the honesty and trustworthiness of their elected officials; and come forth with no plan to restore their reputations.

Either councilmembers and the mayor do not care, or they think they can just tough out a temporary rough spot until voters forget and forgive them. Tim Craig has a story about Council Chairman Kwame Brown in today’s Washington Post, “Brown Says He’s Not Down for the Count,”, that portrays him as a victim of magical thinking — as someone who thinks that all his legal problems will just dissipate and disappear, and that he will never have to give a good explanation for where all the money from his campaign funds went.

But if our elected officials do not act, it is up to us, the voters, to act. If we don’t, we can’t blame the politicians. If we simply reelect the politicians we have, the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.


With regard to Internet gambling, Robin Diener of the Library Renaissance Project writes that “DCPL policy specifically prohibits Internet access to gambling sites,” and provides a citation to the Board of Library Trustees’ public Internet access policy, I’m not reassured, since that policy can be changed at any time and, if the policy change is done like other DC government moves to promote gambling have been done, it will have been changed before anybody in the public is aware of it.

Gary Imhoff


DC Ambulance Fleet
Anne Renshaw,

The DC Federation of Citizens Associations is troubled by the worsening state of the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) fleet. It has come to our attention that many FEMS ambulances and medical transports are in very poor shape. The city’s ambulance fleet situation could even be deemed bordering on desperate. Ongoing air conditioning problems, for instance, remove needed ambulances from the streets on a daily basis. For example, four of the fourteen Medic units (M-2/Chinatown, M-8 /RFK Stadium SE, M-7/National Stadium SW, and M-21/Adams Morgan) have often been running in non-transport SUVs or sedans because their transport units have broken down mechanically. For victims and emergency personnel alike, this is dangerous.

80 percent of FEMS’ daily workload is EMS in nature. FEMS has thirty-nine EMS transports (twenty-five basic (BLS) ambulances and fourteen advance life support (ALS) paramedic units. For various reasons, it has no dependable reserve vehicles, even though FEMS reports is has thirty back-up units on hand. The BLS and ALS units, when they are not in for repair, are in near constant motion. At the height of DC’s tourist season, with a steady stream of special public events drawing tens of thousands to the city’s center (for example, the August 28 dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial on the Mall), will FEMS be able to reliably respond to both neighborhood emergencies while also covering high-volume, high-profile special events with a downgraded and reduced ambulance fleet?

Reportedly, ten to fifteen new ambulances are on order and may arrive in a piecemeal fashion by the end of the year. EMS transports cost the city over $150,000 apiece. As in any bureaucracy, multiple agencies, including Procurement, are involved in and can slow down high-dollar acquisitions. While FEMS has twelve EMS transport vehicles set aside, as required by its Emergency Mobilization Operations Plan (EMOP), to be used for the frequent special events and all the possible emergency situations (think of the current London riots and acts of terrorism), the regular ambulance fleet, including reserve units, needs to be immediately upgraded to a state-of-the-art EMS fleet and well maintained. The current condition of FEMS’ ambulance fleet is precarious. We therefore request that Mayor Vincent Gray fast-track the purchase of all new (not just reconditioned) ambulances. We need a specific date by when the FEMS ambulance fleet will be entirely replaced. This pending public safety emergency must be resolved well before year’s end. FEMS’ ambulance fleet should be a top priority for the protection of DC citizens, visitors to the nation’s capital and, of course, our EMS responders.


Dying People Are at Risk of Losing Home Health Care
Shirley Tabb,

The District of Columbia is the forerunner among states and other jurisdictions in providing home health and good long term care services , but that is about to change. The city reached its maximum of 3990 slots for personal care services under the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities Medicaid Waiver Program for Home and Community Based Services, and the city’s priority is to recertify current service recipients to ensure continued care.

Some states use a waiting list and perspective recipients wait for years. Many jurisdictions use a “first come, first served” system, and hospice is not a priority category. The DC Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) demonstrated a desire to make hospice patients a priority among EPD Waiver applicants, and expedited hospice reviews/approved home health care for hospice patients within days to ensure the rights of people to die at home, in familiar environments, and surrounded by people who love them. Home care for people over the income/asset limits for State Plan Medicaid is in serious jeopardy.

We must find a way to continue setting the standard for home health care in the nation and keep hospice a priority, as the Medicaid Waiver process is restructured, by allocating a specific number of slots for hospice patients. Please E-mail me if you want to join advocacy efforts


Citizen Volunteers
Aeolian M. Jackson,

I applaud your recent effort (themail, August 7) encouraging citizens to run for city council seats or to nominate others to do so. As a result of your suggestion a citizen wrote (themail, August 10) that he decided to run for a vacant ANC seat. Another avenue for effective citizen involvement is through the Office of Boards and Commissions (OBC). The organizations listed by this office include 169 boards and commissions, most with vacancies. Some have technical requirements that members must meet. Many do not. Membership requires either city council confirmation or mayoral appointment. The Application Form and Guide of the OBC may be obtained at,a,3,q,520782,obcNav,%7C31356%7C.asp

I make a special plea for citizens of the most affected communities, Wards 7 and 8, to apply for membership on one of the sixteen human services committees. The Child Fatality Review Committee, the Developmental Disabilities State Planning Council, and the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Welfare have twenty, eight, and twelve vacancies, respectively. The federally mandated Citizens Review Panel (CRP) is not included on this vacancy list. It is an important panel that now may include adults who have aged out of the child welfare system. Its federal charge is independently to evaluate the degree to which the child protective agency complies with its submitted state plan to protect children.


End-of-Summer Pool Closure and Maintenance Schedule
John Stokes,

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) prepares to bring the District’s outdoor swim season to a close. DPR has released the pool closing schedule for its twenty-two outdoor pools and children’s pools as well as the indoor pool maintenance schedule. A number of pools will be open through September 5. The East Potomac Pool, which is heated, will remain open through October 2. DPR’s Outdoor Children’s Pools will close Sunday, August 21, with the exception of Barry Farms, which will close on Friday August 19. All DPR Spray Parks will close on Labor Day, September 5.

DPR’s indoor pools and aquatic centers operate year-round, but will undergo scheduled maintenance to deep clean the pool and facility. For a complete list of pool locations and hours, visit the DPR web site at or contact the DPR Aquatics Office at 671-1289.


Coming Soon, Computerized Politicians
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

I can see it now: electronic voting machines rigging elections in favor of computerized politicians. Which will extend use of electronic voting machines, which will. . . .

“IBM to Help Cities Predict Long-Term Effect of Municipal Policies,”

“IBM and City of Portland Collaborate to Build a Smarter City,”


Governmental Metaphors Running Amok
Phil Shapiro,

Our government needs to resolutely undertake a war on governmental metaphors — or else be vanquished by verbs. We must rein in metaphors. Please.


InTowner August Issue Now Online
P.L. Wolff,

This is to advise that the August 2011 issue PDF is available at and may be opened by clicking the front page graphic on the home page. There will be found news, commentary, and features content, including the popular Scenes from the Past (this month titled “A Major Late 19th Washington Architect Not Well-Known to Today’s Public”) — plus all photos and other images.

This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) “Long-Awaited PUD Application Filed for Controversial Luxury Hotel Tower on Champlain Street in Adams Morgan”; 2) “1711 Florida Avenue Development Plan Continues to Dominate Meetings With Reed-Cooke and Strivers Row Neighbors”; 3) “African-American Civil War Museum Unveils its New Home on U Street.”

The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of September 9 (the second Friday of the month, as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to or call 234-1717.



DC Public Library Celebrates King Memorial Dedication, August 22-28
George Williams;

Starting August 22, the DC Public Library commemorates the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Dedication with a series of events and exhibits. All events are free. For more information, call 727-1211.

August 25-August 28, library hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. “The King Mural” Self-Guided Tour. Don Miller’s “The King Mural” is the nation’s definitive visual documentation of Dr. King’s great influence on modern American society. By researching Dr. King and interviewing those who worked closely with him, Miller chronicled Dr. King’s work from 1955 to 1968. Self-guided tour information will be available at the information desk.

August 25-August 28, library hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. Remembering King: Images from the Washingtoniana Collection Exhibit. The Martin Luther King, Jr., Library will exhibit images of King in DC, including the March on Washington.

August 25-September 4, library hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, King in Magazines Exhibit (1957-1968). View the emergence of Dr. King’s charismatic leadership and tragic assassination in actual issues of Life, Time, Ebony, and Jet magazines.

Wednesday, August 24, 11:00 a.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. Native Washingtonian Steven Silver, an accomplished actor, poet, and activist debuts his latest DVD, featuring the King-inspired, “I Have A Dream, Too”

Thursday, August 25, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. God’s Miracles Quintet will perform gospel and traditional songs loved by Dr. King. The five-member group started out as a 70’s doo-wop group and has shared the stage with groups like the Delfonics.

Thursday, August 25, 1:30 p.m., and Friday, August 26, 1:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. “A.D. King: Brother to the Dreamer: Behold the Dream” film screening and discussion with A.D. King’s widow, Naomi King. Rev. Dr. Alfred Daniel Williams King, brother to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the main strategists behind several civil rights campaigns including the Poor People’s Campaign. This documentary chronicles King’s contributions and includes interviews with John Lewis and Andrew Young. Following the screening, the film will be discussed with A.D. King’s widow, Naomi King, and Dr. Babs Onabanjo, the film’s executive producer.

Thursday, August 25, 3:30 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library. Kingmaker Foundation Reception. The Kingmaker Foundation provides funding and scholarships to youth educational programs, youth leadership development, global leaders, and community service projects. Rev. C. T. Vivian, minister, author, and ally of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., during the civil rights movement, will be the keynote speaker.

Saturday, August 27, 12:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, Morehouse College Glee Club and Quartet Concert. Morehouse College is the only all-male historically black institution of higher learning in the United States. The Glee Club has shared the stage with opera great Jessye Norman, Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Trisha Yearwood, and soprano Indra Thomas. The Library performance will include spirituals, gospel and Yuroba selections.

Sunday, August 28, 3:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Sing Along. Music Specialist Sam Perryman will sing spirituals from the Civil Rights Movement. He will be assisted by violist Phyllis Flemings and students from the Levine School of Music.


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