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October 19, 2011

Weed Clusters

Dear Back Yarders:

Lydia DiPillis, in the Housing Complex blog of The Washington City Paper, tells Ward 5 residents they should learn to accept and admire pot growers and dealers in their neighborhoods — otherwise, they’re NIMBY’s. Her argument is that the pot trade is a desirable business: “Concentrating marijuana production (and even sales, although that's not what these applications are for) in Ward 5 would be a boon to the area, not a blight — they're employment centers, after all, that will pour capital back into the communities they inhabit. Cannabis greenhouses would celebrate and compliment the presence of the neighboring National Arboretum. They're heavily regulated enough that any leakage of product to people who shouldn't have it would get them shut down in a jiffy. . . . I have no idea why a neighborhood wouldn't welcome a weed cluster. It's hell of a lot better than strip clubs,”

Shani Hilton, on the other hand, tries to be more open-minded to the opposition of Ward 5 NIMBY’s in the City Desk blog of the City Paper, “Sure, logically, the signs point to pot dispensaries being a good thing in neighborhoods. But decades of pot-is-a-gateway-drug training are hard to undo. And for longstanding black residents who saw drugs destroy communities, it's not a surprise that they're less willing to draw a distinction between pot and other drugs. Besides, the pillars of Ward 5, like those in every other ward, often don't want anything new, be it a pizza joint or a pot dispensary. Like NIMBY’s everywhere, they fear traffic, noise, new people walking around. And in the case of a dispensary, they have this extra armament to fight against the proposal by demonizing drugs. While I agree with Lydia, I'm not surprised at all that people reflexively don't want weed, legally or illegally, being sold in their backyards.

Oh, those misguided NIMBY’s. Just because they saw their neighborhoods devastated during the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s by the trade in such a useful and socially beneficial drug by locally based entrepreneurs, and just because they saw those upstanding capitalists turn their communities into shooting galleries (in both senses of the word), they stubbornly stick to their irrational prejudice against a harmless recreational medicine. As commentator “ER” replies to DiPillis’ question, “I have no idea why a neighborhood wouldn’t welcome a weed cluster”: “You could ask them.”


The hunt for the spring-removes-snow quote continues, and it may be inching closer to success. One correspondent wrote that he doesn’t want to be quoted because he hadn’t researched it yet, but that, “I seem to recall that the snow controversy came in Barry’s first year when he allowed Post reporter Milton Coleman to ride along with him in his car. I think Milton may have quoted Barry as saying God brought the snow and He could take it away. I do remember that Barry was so furious at the Milton Coleman article overall that I don’t think another local reporter ever rode with Barry.”

Erica Nash,, has done a thorough search, and has come up with another close call, a Washington Post article by Ed Bruske and Leah H. Latimer on January 29, 1987. “[Marion Barry], who took a helicopter tour of the city yesterday morning after arriving home from California, said he had requested a blow-by-blow account of how the District deployed its snow removal resources, to determine whether equipment and planning could be improved. But he and other officials, hit by a barrage of complaints that city streets had remained unplowed too long, refused to take any blame for poor road conditions. ‘I wish it had not snowed this way, but obviously we have cold weather and certainly I'm not very happy that any resident or any commuter was inconvenienced,’ Barry said. But he said residents must recognize that ‘Washington is not a snow town. We're not Buffalo. We're not in the far Northeast where snow is confronted all the time, where you spend a lot of money on it.’”

Gary Imhoff


Lottery Board Plays Bait and Switch
Andy Litsky, ANC 6D-04,

I received a call moments ago from Charles Allen in Tommy Wells' office. He was just told that the Ward Six i-Gambling community meeting that was scheduled for this Thursday — tomorrow — has been moved by Buddy Roogow to next Thursday. No messages regarding this change ever went out from the Lottery Board to any Ward Six organization — none of the Ward Six ANC commissioners — none of the Ward Six community listservs — and none of the customary Ward Six web sites.

After being called on the carpet by the media for scheduling their community meetings in the middle of August and over Labor Day, once again the Lottery Board is tampering with the process that they themselves established. If Buddy Roogow and his Lottery Board crew can't be trusted to maintain a simple schedule of community meetings, how can they be trusted to run a citywide gambling operation? Flying way under the ethics radar screen, they are either wildly incompetent or too cute by half and boldly believe that can get away with no supervision.

The Council needs to step up to the plate and exercise some oversight. And while it may be fine to some that Buddy Roogow, as a Maryland resident, pays no DC taxes — someone needs to remind him that his salary is being paid by the residents of the District of Columbia and that he still reports to the Council's Committee on Finance and Revenue.


Problems with Ward 3 Redistricting
Mary Alice Levine,

Ward 3 ANC Redistricting has been a distressing affair. I was horrified by the lack of democracy and the lack of concern for Ward 3 citizens, as ANC lines were redrawn with little or no consideration for residents. A coup by ANC 3E, which retained its small five-person commission, resulted in the ANC’s taking over all the issues in Tenleytown, leaving more than half of Tenleytown’s citizens in ANC 3F.

The five commissioners of ANC 3E now have jurisdiction over every business and institution in Tenleytown (including DC Public Schools Janney, Wilson, and Deal and countless private schools) and all businesses on Wisconsin Avenue between the District line and Veazey Street, while being accountable mostly to citizens in American University Park and Friendship Heights. Yes, there are a few of us in Tenleytown east of Wisconsin who are now in ANC 3E, but not enough of us to be a political force or to have our own SMD. My new single member district will be populated mostly by people who live on the opposite side of Wisconsin Avenue, mostly residents of AU Park. Unlike most of my neighbors, my home was pulled into ANC 3E because of a last minute deal that puts local ANC boundaries on small, non-arterial residential streets. Most of my neighbors, whose lives are centered on Wisconsin Avenue and Tenleytown institutions, will be represented by ANC 3F (whose commissioners resisted the coup) that must now focus on Connecticut Avenue issues, far to the west of where they live.

It was a situation where the majority of the Task Force representatives were responsible to no one but themselves and/or their employers. Most who voted against the residents did not feel compelled to answer our letters and still fewer gave reasons for their votes. But there was code: “the reunification of Tenleytown” was how several ANC 3E commissioners repeatedly characterized their stick of dynamite.


Language Requirement in DC Schools?
Bryce A. Suderow,

A couple of days ago someone told me that two weeks ago it was required that students must take three years of a foreign language in order to graduate from our DC high schools. Is this true?


Answering Questions about the Clean Rivers Project
Alan Heymann, DC Water,

Pat Taylor [themail, October 16] raises some great questions about DC Water’s ongoing Clean Rivers Project to reduce combined-sewer overflows into District waterways. We are grateful for the opportunity to answer them. The Clean Rivers Project is mandated by a federal consent decree, an agreement similar to many in cities with combined sewer systems. Planning for the project began in the late 1990’s, resulting in a long term control plan. This plan was completed in 2002 and forms the basis of the Clean Rivers Project. It underwent extensive public and stakeholder review during the development process. The planning process included comparison of several viable alternatives and technologies and analysis to determine the most cost effective solution.

In 2005, DC Water (then called DC WASA) entered into the consent decree with the federal government and several environmental groups. The result was a twenty-year completion schedule to minimize the financial impact to District rate payers. (Note that as an independent agency, DC Water’s capital projects and operations are almost entirely funded by its retail and wholesale customers, not by District tax dollars.) From 2005 to 2008, DC WASA moved ahead with facilities planning — including budgets — for the projects affecting the Anacostia River. The program implementation has continued to move forward since 2008, and DC Water has applied technical and management controls to maintain the project on schedule and within budget. Nonetheless, we aim to finish the project for even less than its initial budget.

At last week’s groundbreaking, we announced the start of discussions with the United States Environmental Protection Agency to reopen the terms of the consent decree. The goal would be to explore green-development technologies that could reduce or eliminate future pieces of the project, create jobs, green the District and reduce rate increases for customers. Other cities, notably Philadelphia, have proposed solutions that rely heavily on green techniques instead of tunnels. You can read the consent decree, the entire long-term control plan as specified in the consent decree, and the details of the first tunnel system at


Was the Sewer Tunnel Reviewed?
Marchant Wentworth, Brookland, 

Pat Taylor asks if the DC Sewer tunnel system was reviewed. Yes. For years. And years. Lots of alternatives were examined, compared, particularly in regard to rate impacts and clean up effectiveness, and discussed at hearings in every part of the city. In my view, the tunnel system is simply the easiest and quickest way to clean up the Anacostia.

A huge amount of DC drains into the Northeast Boundary Sewer that runs roughly under Florida Avenue. That one sewer is the largest single polluter of the Anacostia River — discharging millions of gallons of raw sewage into the river when it rains. The tunnel will allow that huge volume of mixed sewage and rainwater to be stored till after the rain and then sent to our sewage treatment plant to get cleaned.

Will it work? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Although it sounds like a huge amount of money, it is over a ten- year period. But ultimately it will result in a cleaner Anacostia (and Rock Creek and Potomac — portions of which you do not want to approach after a rain). There have been lots of studies done on the benefits of cleanup -- they far exceed the costs. It is literally a deal we can not afford to refuse.


Controlling Snow 1996
Michael Bindner,

When the 1996 storm hit, the District was knocked flat from lack of equipment. Mayor Barry took the blame for it, even though he did not have to. What people don't know was that Chief Financial Officer Anthony Williams had frozen all purchases a few months before because he had found that his predecessor had directed that no bills be paid because the District was running shortfalls, which resulted in bills being put into drawers unopened, rather than being forwarded to the Comptroller for payment. The downside of this moratorium was that equipment upgrade needs were unmet and the District was caught flatfooted. It would have been easy to blame Tony or Mayor Kelly, but he took the fall instead. Thank about that next time you look for a quip. By the way, when Tony hired the former Comptroller as CFO, largely at the request of Alice Rivlin, disaster almost ensued. To his credit, he fired her when she proved to be incompetent.


InTowner October Issue PDF Now
P.L. Wolff,

This is to advise that the October issue content has been posted at, including the issue PDF, which can be accessed directly by linking to There will be found the primary news stories and certain features, including the popular Scenes from the Past (this month titled “The Mansion Next to Washington’s Spanish Steps”) — plus all photos and other images; other features not included in the PDF, such as Recent Real Estate Sales, can be linked directly from the web site’s home page.

This month's lead stories include the following: 1) “Reed-Cooke Neighbors and Other Adams Morgan Residents Pack Meeting to Hear from Hotel Developer and Ask Questions”; 2) “Rehab and Landscaping Work Starting on Connecticut Avenue Median Above Dupont Circle and at Q Street Park”; 3) “Historic Former Wonder Bread Complex in Shaw to be Restored and Developed.” The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of November 14 (the second Friday of the month, as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to or call 234-1717.

Special Note: We are now on Facebook and Twitter! On both we will be posting alerts about news and information items that we upload on occasion throughout the monthly issue period. It is easy to check by simply clicking one of the link buttons located at the top of the button panel on the left side of our home page – or, better yet, follow us on either of these social networks.



LeDroit Park OktoberFest, October 29
Alan Holmes,

The LeDroit Park Civic Association and Common Good City Farm are pleased to announce the first annual LeDroit Park OktoberFest. OktoberFest is a family and community-oriented event with live music and entertainment, games, food, and local vendors. The event will also feature Common Good City Farm’s Harvest Festival, an afternoon of activities like pumpkin carving and painting, scarecrow making, face painting, and more!

OktoberFest entertainment will include the Peacemakers, one of the original "go go" groups in Washington, DC, eisa taiko drumming and dancing by the Chin Hamaya Culture Center, and traditional German-style music and games. The LeDroit Park Civic Association thanks the following sponsors for supporting this community event: Wells Fargo Bank, Busboys and Poets, Zipcar, and Howard University.

OktoberFest will be held on Saturday, October 29, from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Park at LeDroit, located on the 300 and 400 blocks of Elm Street, NW. The Harvest Festival will be held 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at the Common Good City Farm (entrance between 2nd and 4th Streets on V Street, NW).


CUMC Jazz Vespers, November 6
Terri Stroud,

Christ United Methodist Church (CUMC) will be holding its annual Mildred B. Twitty Jazz Vespers on Sunday, November 6, at 5:00 p.m. This year's Vespers features the Vince Smith and Friends Group (starring Wes "Suga" Biles on bass, Ronald Compton on drums, Bonnie Harris and Julian Hipkins on vocals, Michael Thomas on trumpet, Sam Turner on percussion, and Vince Smith on piano).

The Jazz Vespers will be held at CUMC, located at 900 4th Street, SW (on the corner of 4th and I Streets, SW). Tickets cost $15, and can be purchased by calling 316-7024 or 554-9117.



Literacy Tutoring Volunteers Needed
Ty Woolfolk,

Reading Partners provides one-on-one literacy tutoring for students in DC elementary schools that are reading below grade level. Tutoring with Reading Partners requires absolutely no experience and can take as little as 45 minutes per week. We provide tutors with an easy to follow curriculum and there is a site coordinator present at each center to provide assistance.

Opportunities are available Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Our tutors range from high school students (starting at age 14) to retirees. We have 8 locations throughout DC (Ft. Totten, Anacostia, Congress Heights, Columbia Heights, Thomas Circle, Edgewood, Trinidad, Birghtwood). For more information contact


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