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November 9, 2011

Raise the Level of Ethics

Dear Levelers:

In the last issue of themail, November 9, I asked for your ideas: “On Sunday, the Washington Post published ‘The Ethics Reform That DC Needs Most,’ which it described this way: ‘The Post asked Tom Sherwood, William P. Lightfoot, Dorothy Brizill, Muriel Bowser, Martin Austermuhle, Bryan Weaver, Robert Kabel and Kathy Patterson: what is the most important thing that can be done to improve the level of ethics in DC government?’ in around two hundred words. See what they wrote at, and then send your favorite idea that they left out to the next issue of themail.”

Nobody responded. I know you have wisdom to share, and we could all profit by hearing your ideas. What can we do to improve the level of ethics in DC government? Help us out here.


Challengers to elected incumbent politicians seem to be having a hard time getting started this time around. Fiona Greig, the only announced Democratic Party primary challenger to Councilmember Jack Evans in Ward 2, has already withdrawn from the race, Sekou Biddle, who lost the at-large councilmember’s office that the Democratic Party had appointed him to in a special election last April, has filed to win the office back in this April’s primary. However, Dorothy has discovered that the filing for his committee, Biddle 2012, is legally deficient in two ways ( — it names only a treasurer, not a chairman, though by law a candidate’s principal campaign committee has to have a chairman; and it lists as its address a postal box at a UPS Store, when the code requires a campaign to name an actual physical address, not a post office box. Since a campaign can’t raise money until it is legally registered, this puts in doubt whether Biddle can keep, or has to return, the money that he has already raised.

Gary Imhoff


The District Can’t Give It Away
Alma H. Gates,

On October 28, the Washington Business Journal’s Daniel J. Sernovitz reported, “Northrop Grumman looked close at St. E`s,” Sernovitz noted, “The District government offered up one of the city’s choicest vacant properties to Northrop Grumman Corp. in its unsuccessful bid to attract the defense contractor’s corporate headquarters. . . . The rear view mirror glimpse came to light this week in an interview with former DC economic development official Steven Siegel, who told me in an interview the District was prepared to gift the land to Northrop. . . . The 170-acre east campus at St. Elizabeth’s would have been in addition to a $25 million incentives package the DC government also put on the table for Northrop, an offer that drew plenty of critics who questioned why the city would stake so much to gain the mammoth company as one of its home-based businesses.”

The Washington Business Journal failed to mention that in January 2003 Mayor Anthony Williams announced the planning schedule for the St. Elizabeth’s Campus Framework Plan. This was meant to be a nine-month open and inclusive public planning effort to maximize the economic and social benefits of a valuable land asset for the benefit of the neighborhoods East-of-the-River and the entire city. Residents were encouraged to determine how best to utilize the remaining land and buildings on the East Campus of St. Elizabeth’s. Knowing that the outcome of this effort would affect the neighborhoods surrounding the campus, the planning process was structured to encourage the broadest possible public participation as redevelopment options were analyzed and considered.

Ward 8 residents did participate and eagerly awaited the outcome of their input given at numerous meetings across the planning process. The city stated, “We will develop a shared vision in order to best serve the city and the neighborhood in which the St. Elizabeth’s Campus resides.” Residents continue to wait for the outcome of their planning input, which abruptly ended in August of 2003. It is now known that the Federal Government did not convey the West Campus to the District as anticipated, but rather designated it the consolidated Department of Homeland Security (DHS) complex. And it appears the input from residents of Ward 8 was not given promised priority. Rather, the District decided to move forward with another plan that would locate Northrop Grumman on donated land on St. Elizabeth’s East Campus and to include a $25M incentives package for the major corporation. While tax income from the Northrop deal would eventually benefit the entire city, it appears little in the deal would benefit the residents of Ward 8 who are already wondering how they will cope with the addition of the DHS complex and its traffic.

Although the enticement package wasn’t sweet enough for Northrop, it is likely the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has another corporation eager to feed at the trough of District largess. It is difficult to find much resemblance between plans advocated by residents in 2003 and what is being planned for the entire St. Elizabeth’s campus today. Meanwhile, Ward 8’s champion, former Mayor Marion Barry, has remained silent throughout the framework planning process and recent turndown by Northrop. Marion knows the public participation process is simply a pro forma exercise undertaken by the city to give the appearance of public input, but, in reality has little to do with redevelopment plans being considered by those who know what’s best for the city.


No DC Residents on MLK Advisory Panel
Robin Diener,

None of the eight panelists named to participate in an assessment of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) lives in or near the District of Columbia, according to descriptions on the DC Public Library (DCPL) web site, Five of the eight are based in California. The closest is from Richmond.

The panelists are leading a process to “assess and review the value” of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library building, and to “make recommendations on how to leverage the value of the building to benefit the District of Columbia,” according to a DCPL press release. The process will consist of interviews conducted by the ULI panel with parties invited by Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper. Only invited parties will have the opportunity to be interviewed by the panel.

DC residents and library users are, however, invited to direct comments to the Board of Library Trustees on Wednesday November 16, at 6:00 p.m. at the Southwest Library, located at 900 Wesley Place, SW, a short walk from the Waterfront metro stop. Comments can be E-mailed to The public is also invited to the ULI panel’s presentation of findings and recommendations on Friday, November 18, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Great Hall of the MLK Library, located at 901 G Street, NW, a short walk from either Metro Center or Gallery Place metro stops.


PEPCO and Stalling Elizabeth Noel’s Nomination to the Public Service Commission
Mary C. Young,

Is anyone else asking why Councilwoman Yvette Alexander is not marking up Elizabeth Noel’s nomination to the Public Service Commission so it can come to a vote before the whole council? It seems to be a PEPCO political move . . . this is the PEPCO that has not paid a penny in taxes and only takes our money.


Dancers Wanted
Karen Szulgit,

Calling all dancers interested in participating in a flashmob — very soon! Learn the dance moves this weekend or via YouTube.


AOI on the DC War Memorial
Bill Brown,

Thanks for posting Joe Grano’s piece about the DC War Memorial [themail, November 5]. Here is the Association of Oldest Inhabitant’s press release on the matter: “The Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia, the city’s oldest civic organization, is calling upon the District’s elected leaders and residents to attend the reopening of the District of Columbia War Memorial scheduled for Thursday, November 10, at 11:00 a.m. The District’s memorial to its men and women who served in the first World War was dedicated on November 11, 1931, and its reopening is scheduled for the eve of its eightieth anniversary. We need to keep it exclusively devoted to the District’s men and women who served in the first World War, as it has been since it was first dedicated on November 11, 1931, (Armistice Day) eighty years ago.

“The memorial has been cleaned, rehabilitated, and landscaped with more than two million dollars of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar personally participated in a pre-rehabilitation cleanup at the memorial earlier this year. The restoration efforts have kept the memorial closed to the public for most of the intervening months until its reopening on November 10th.

“The restoration and reopening of the District of Columbia War Memorial is significant in that currently there are attempts in both houses of Congress (See bills H.R. 938 and S.B. 253) to rename the memorial as part of an initiative to plan for and celebrate the centennial of World War I by establishing a commission to oversee the centennial. Unfortunately, in yet another attempt by the United States Congress and other private interests to ignore self-determination for the nearly 600,000 residents of the District, part of the legislation includes the renaming of the memorial to “The District of Columbia and National World War I Memorial.” This is wrong on several fronts, the most noteworthy being that it ignores the rights of the District’s residents and continues to ignore their desires despite the billions of dollars they pay in Federal Taxes. Secondly, the Peristyle Doric Temple located in Ash Grove on the National Mall in West Potomac Park is the District’s War Memorial, not the World War I Memorial as when it was dedicated in 1931 the 1914-1918 conflict in Europe was referred to as The Great War or simply The World War and no numerical suffix was ascribed to the monument. Finally, the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants has strongly endorsed a suggestion that Pershing Park — with its tribute to the American Expeditionary Forces and General John C. Pershing located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, NW – would better serve as a National Memorial to the millions of US men and women of all service branches who served in the first World War. The AOI of DC has testified in opposition to the pending Congressional initiatives before the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission and has worked closely with District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton as she introduced her own Congressional Resolution – H.R. 346 – to officially stand in opposition to co-opting and renaming our District of Columbia War Memorial. On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, the District of Columbia Council passed the ‘District of Columbia War Memorial Recognition Resolution of 2011’ introduced by Chair Kwame Brown which ‘heartily supports the continued status of the District of Columbia World War Memorial as a local memorial honoring Washingtonians who served in World War I and those Washingtonians who died serving their country.’

“On the occasion of its reopening on Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 11:00 a.m., the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia calls upon its members, the membership of its fellow civic organizations – The Federation of Citizens’ Association and the Federation of Civic Associations and the Committee of 100 of the District of Columbia — all District of Columbia preservation and historic associations, DC Vote, our mayor and city council to be present at the District of Columbia War Memorial to demonstrate our unwavering support for our memorial to our residents who served, were injured and killed in the first World War and to demonstrate our solidarity in opposition to it being renamed. The DC War Memorial is located in Ash Grove along Independence Avenue directly opposite the new Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial. It is accessible via the Smithsonian Metro Station’s Agriculture Department entrance (SW corner of 12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW) and walking west along Independence Avenue or by parking in West Potomac Park and walking to the memorial via either the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial or the King Memorial via West Basin Drive.”



DC Public Service Commission Community Hearings, November 8-22
Sandra Mattavous-Frye,

The DC Public Service Commission will convene eight community hearings in each ward of the city to hear from DC utility consumers regarding their perspective about Pepco’s application for a $42.1 million increase in distribution rates (Formal Case No. 1087). District of Columbia residents are invited to participate in any of the community hearings listed below. Attendance is not limited to the ward in which you reside. Let your voice be heard at the meeting that is the most convenient for you.

Those who wish to testify at the community hearings should contact the Commission Secretary at 626-5100 by close of business three business days prior to the date of the hearing. Representatives of organizations shall be permitted a maximum of five minutes of oral presentations. Individuals shall be permitted a maximum of three minutes for oral presentations. If an organization or an individual is unable to offer comments at the community hearings, written statements maybe submitted to the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 1333 H Street, NW, Suite 200, West Tower, Washington, DC 20005.

Community hearings: Tuesday, November 8, 6:30 p.m., Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School (Ward 8), 2427 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE; Wednesday, November 9, 11:00 a.m., DC Public Service Commission, Hearing Room (Ward 2), 1333 H Street, NW, 7th Floor East Tower; Wednesday, November 9, 6:30 p.m., Emery Recreation Center (Ward 4), 5801 Georgia Avenue, NW; Friday, November 18, 11:00 a.m., Chevy Chase Recreation Center (Ward 3), 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW; Saturday, November 19, 11:00 a.m., Deanwood Recreation Center (Ward 7), 1350 49th Street, NE; Monday, November 21, 11:00 a.m., Columbia Heights Recreation Center (Ward 1), 1480 Girard Street, NW; Monday, November 21, 6:30 p.m., Bethesda Baptist Church (Ward 5), 1808 Capitol Avenue, NE; Tuesday, November 22, 10:00 a.m., King Greenleaf Recreation Center (Ward 6), 201 N Street, SW.


DPW to Observe Veterans Day, November 11
Kevin Twine,

Department of Public Works services will be affected in observance of Veterans Day, Friday, November 11. Friday’s trash/recycling collections slide to Saturday, November 12. Leaves will be collected as scheduled. This applies to both once-a-week and twice-a-week collection neighborhoods. Trash and recycling containers should be put out for collection no earlier than 6:30 p.m. the night before collection and removed from public space by 8:00 p.m. on the collection day. Parking meters, residential parking, and rush hour lane restrictions will not be in effect . DPW also will not tow abandoned vehicles. Parking enforcement will resume Saturday, November 12.

Ft. Totten Transfer Station, located at 4900 John F. McCormack Road, NE, will be closed Friday, November 11. It will reopen Saturday at 1:00 p.m. for residents to bring bulk trash. The next Saturday Household Hazardous Waste/E-cycling/Document Shredding drop-off day is December 3, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Directions to Ft. Totten: 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.

Between Monday, November 7, and Friday, November 19 (including Veterans Day), DPW will collect leaves from “Area A” neighborhoods as designated in the leaf collection brochure mailed to households that receive DPW trash/recycling collections. Residents can use DPW’s web site to view the 2011-2012 leaf collection schedule by selecting Leaf Collection and clicking on “Check Leaf Collection Status in Your Neighborhood” ( and enter their address.


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