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October 16, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

Dear Correspondents:

Sorry, but a cable outage yesterday delayed this issue of themail.

In the last issue of themail, I asked if anyone had a source that showed that Marion Barry himself was the originator of the quip that Barry’s mayoral plan for snow removal was the arrival of spring. So far, there hasn’t been any direct source for it, although there have been a couple of close tries. John H. Muller,, sent along an article by Martin Weil and Barbara Carton from the January 26, 1988, Washington Post about “Heavy, Wet Snow Blankets Most of Area.” From that article: “Mayor Marion Barry, who was widely assailed last year when city streets were clogged with snow for days while he was out of town attending Super Bowl festivities, expressed satisfaction yesterday that the snow did not come later this week. He had said last week that he would not go to this year’s game in San Diego or would return early if snow disrupted the weekend here. At a news conference yesterday he joked with council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) who pointed out a window to the falling snow as Barry talked of managing the city. ‘Don’t worry about the snow,’ Barry said. ‘We’re the snow masters. We’re doing that like Doug Williams is directing the Redskins.’” Second, Tom Grahame,, wrote: “Gary, this is from the Wash Post, if my memory holds, probably not the former mayor: ‘Mayor Barry’s snow removal plan is Biblical: what the Lord giveth, the Lord will take away.’ Something like that.”

Gary Imhoff


DC Water’s Mega $2.6 Billion Project
Pat Taylor,

DC’s water authority, “DC Water,” plans to spend $2.6 billion on a project to reduce sewage overflow into the Anacostia River, Potomac River, and Rock Creek. The $2.6 billion is to be paid by DC residents and businesses.

This is a huge, costly undertaking. Does anyone know whether there was effective oversight or expert review during the development of plan for this project? Can DC taxpayers have confidence that the plan is a cost-effective one and will work as claimed? Can DC taxpayers have confidence that there will be effective, ongoing oversight during the implementation of this huge project? Or will this turn into a very costly failure?

As a longtime DC resident, I am skeptical of the ability of any DC agency to plan and carry out a project of this cost and magnitude. I’d be interested to hear from anyone from outside of DC Water that can provide assurances on these matters.


Occupy DC
Carolyn Long, Tenleytown,

In “Seasonal Solutions,” [themail, October 12] Gary ridicules the Park Service’s gentle handling of the Occupy DC protesters and predicts that cold weather will clear them out without the brutality and arrests that characterized the New York police response. I was flabbergasted! Whose side are you on, Gary? Are you really a fan of the banks and corporations and millionaires that have brought our country to the sorry state we’re in? I, and everybody in my neighborhood with whom I’ve spoken, are totally in support of this protest — and note that we are people in our 50’s-70’s, solid citizens of the District of Columbia. We’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street protests with great interest and cheering them on. We were glad that the protests have spread to other cities, including DC. Some of us have been down to Freedom Plaza.



DC Federation of Citizens Associations, October 15
Anne Renshaw,

The DC Federation of Citizens Associations will hold its October assembly on neighborhood security on Tuesday, October 25, from 6:45 p.m.-9:00 p.m., at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church, 2300 Cathedral Avenue, NW (off Connecticut Avenue). All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church is near the Woodley Park Metro on the Red Line. The church parking lot is on Woodley Place, behind the church. Use the entrance down the garden steps from the parking lot. The door will be open by 6:30 p.m.

Are DC Neighborhoods prepared for an act of terrorism? Another earthquake? In the aftermath of recent Metro shutdowns, an earthquake, tropical storm, prolonged public demonstrations and the (thankfully foiled) assassination attempt of a foreign diplomat, the October 25 Citizens Federation Assembly will focus on not “Homeland Security,” which is the responsibility of city and federal first responders, but neighborhood security, which assuredly will be left up to us.

Millicent West, Director, DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, will participate in a “community conversation” on the role of neighborhood associations in neighborhood security planning and response. Is it enough for DC residents to be told to “shelter in place” and “have a plan?” Knowing that the city may not be able to provide emergency assistance to neighborhoods for days (or longer), are DC neighborhoods ready to fend for themselves? The Citizens Federation urges DC neighborhood organizations and residents to join in this critical public meeting on Neighborhood Security. For further information, contact Anne Renshaw, President, DC Citizens Federation, 363-6880.


Dream City Discussion, October 17
John H. Muller,

On Monday, October 17, Greater Greater Washington is sponsoring a discussion with the authors of Dream City, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post will moderate. The event will take place at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library starting at 7:00 p.m., in the lower level meeting room. There will be a question and answer period.


National Building Museum Events, October 18
Stacy Adamson,

Tuesday, October 18, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Building in the 21st Century: The Evolution of Green Building in Arlington, VA. Free. Registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. Joan Kelsch, LEED AP, green building programs manager for Arlington County, discusses the county’s efforts to design, construct, and operate environmentally responsible buildings as part of a five-year climate action program.

Tuesday, October 18, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Spotlight on Design: BIG/Bjarke Ingels Group. $12 members, $10 students, $20 nonmembers. Registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. Bjarke Ingels, Danish architect and a founding principal of BIG/Bjarke Ingels Group, believes that quality of life does not have to be sacrificed when designing environmentally responsible architecture. Ingels explains this “hedonistic sustainability,” as seen through a variety of BIG projects that include a combination ski slope and waste incineration plant and a torqued-pyramid apartment building. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at


Mark Plotkin and Vincent Orange at Ward 3 Democrats, October 20
Shelly Tomkin,

Political commentator Mark Plotkin and At-Large Council Member Vincent Orange will speak at the October 20 meeting of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee. The Ward Three Democratic Committee will hold its regular meeting Thursday, October 20, at 7:15 p.m. at the St. Columba’s Episcopal Church at 4201 Albemarle Street, NW. The Committee will hold elections to fill eight vacancies for at-large delegates. (See the Ward Three Democratic Committee web site for further details at Following the election, political commentator Mark Plotkin will speak on strategies to achieve self determination for the District of Columbia and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange will speak on DC Ethics Reform.



Boundary Stones Volunteer Opportunity, October 22
John H. Muller,

On Saturday, October 22, there will be a fence restoration project for the Ten Miles Square boundary stones on the DC/MD side of the Potomac. The number of fences (and which ones) will depend on the number of volunteers. Start times are to be determined and will be staggered, but figure on 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. Details to follow once, the volunteer groups are put together. Please contact Stephen Powers,, with any additional questions and let him know if you can join us. Once the participants are confirmed, teams will be identified and additional details sent out.

The plan is to cover the fence with paint stripper (I have an eco friendly bio degradable product that comes recommended for this type of work). We will have gloves, masks, and goggles and brushes. Wear old clothes and long sleeves. We then will use scrapers to scrap as much of the paint and rust off as possible. This will be the hardest part of the project. We do need to caution folks that the existing paint may be lead based. If you have an aversion to removing this type of paint, do not take part.

The next step will be to paint the fence with Rustoleum Rust Inhibitor and Primer. It is a “combo” product that should help us out. It is an oil-based product that will be hard to wash off skin (We will have mineral spirits available). So again . . . wear old clothes and long sleeves. We don’t recommend wearing shorts. The final step will be to paint the top coat on. We will have trash bags, some clippers and rakes, and mulch to do some beautification at the sight. Given the lessons learned from earlier restoration efforts, we believe we can have the work completed within three to four hours per fence. We also plan on taking photos for the American Society of Civil Engineers web site of before, during, and after to document the day.


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