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March 28, 2012

What Election?

Dear Voters:

What if they gave an election and nobody came? The April 3 primary may be the election with the lowest turnout of voters in the District of Columbia’s brief history of self governance. I’ve been unable to detect any noticeable enthusiasm for any candidates, either incumbents or challengers. There’s no sizable coterie of supporters following any candidate to any of the debates or public meetings at which they speak.

The federal investigations of Councilmembers Thomas and Kwame Brown, Mayor Gray, and fundraiser Jeffrey Thompson have reduced the prevalence of cash contributions and money order substitutes for cash. The bad publicity given to bundled contributions has temporarily reduced the domination of law-busting bundles. The relative lack of money in this election cycle has showed itself in the virtual absence from most campaigns of campaign flyers and literature, paid campaign workers, and all the paraphernalia of earlier campaigns. Only Councilmember Jack Evans, who is running unopposed in his primary in Ward Two, incumbent Ward Four Councilmember Muriels Bowser, and self-financed Shadow Senator candidate Pete Ross are swimming in money in this election; everyone else is waiting for the heat to die down to collect the bulk of campaign donations. In addition, the early primary date appears likely to depress voting numbers significantly, which may have gone into the calculations of incumbent councilmembers who voted to set the primary date this early in the year. An election with a very low turnout is likely to be dominated by incumbents who have built effective get-out-the-vote machines in past elections, so that even in a year with a disgusted electorate, ready to act on its desire to “kick all the bums out,” the bums will remain safe in their seats.

In any case, when I begged in the last issue of themail for readers’ endorsements in this election, I didn’t get any. Not one reader was enthusiastic enough about any candidate, incumbent or challenger, to say a good word about him or her.

Gary Imhoff


Vincent Orange Filing Irregularities
Dorothy Brizill,

Under District law, campaigns are required to file a report with the DC Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) that details all funds raised and spent by campaign committees eight days prior to an election. As a result, all candidates in the April 3 primary are required to file their “eight-day preprimary report” with OCF by midnight March 26. On Monday, March 26, the Re-Elect Vincent Orange 2012 Committee filed its eight-day preprimary report ( It indicated that for the period March 11 (when the last report had been filed) through March 26, the campaign had received $150 in contributions, made no expenditures, and had a balance of $114,538.72 cash on hand. As a longtime observer of campaigns in the District, I found Orange’s filing to be suspect because it is highly unlikely that any citywide campaign for elective office would not have had some expenditures in the two-week period prior to the election. I know that Orange’s filing was false because since January I had been making field observations of campaign activities and expenditures by all the candidates in the April primary. I made a concerted effort to attend campaign events, visit campaign headquarters, talk to campaign workers and supporters, and make observations regarding campaign expenditures. Orange had a luncheon on March 19 for more than one hundred twenty-five seniors at the Eclipse Restaurant on Bladensburg Road, and after the luncheon he transported then and five school buses and a fifteen-passenger van to BOEE’s early voting center at Judiciary Square to cast their ballots. I also know that the Orange campaign had expenditures for a paid campaign staff (including campaign manager Doug Sloan and field director Joe Ruffin) and a new piece of campaign literature distributed in the week of March 18.

On Tuesday, when I tried to ask Orange about his OCF filing, he would not take my telephone calls. Instead, Doug Sloan, his campaign manager, called me. I asked him why the campaign had failed to report the expenditures for the seniors, for the buses, etc. Sloan admitted that the campaign had expenditures between March 11 and March 26, but tried to attribute “errors” in Orange’s electronic filing of his report to a computer at OCF and indicated that an amended report would be filed at OCF and posted by Wednesday morning. At 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, I went to OCF’s office in the Reeves Building and learned that OCF was not suffering any computer problems and that Orange had not yet filed an amended report that accurately detailed all contributions and expenditures by his campaign.

It is worth noting that Vincent Orange touts the fact that he is “a lawyer, certified public accountant, and auditor” when he argues that he is the most qualified candidate to serve on the city council. Since he has previously run for elective office in the District as the Ward 5 councilmember, mayor, council chair, and at-large councilmember, he should be very familiar with the District’s campaign finance laws. Finally, given ongoing investigations and heightened public concerns regarding Orange and the financing of his past political campaigns (including the use of bundled contributions from Jeffrey Thompson’s network, money orders and cashiers checks, independent expenditures by individuals and corporations, and cash), did he think no one would review his OCF filing and note the lack of expenditures and contributions of only $150 during the reporting period prior to the primary? (Footnote: as a result of the concerns I raised with OCF’s General Counsel late Wednesday afternoon, Councilmember Orange has not filed an amended report that addresses some, but not all, of the omissions that I noted.)


Phil Mendelson’s Vote on Noel
Ann Loikow,

More and more is coming out in the press about Councilmember Mendelson and Pepco. Besides owning more than $5,000 in Pepco stock (the exact number of shares and their value has not been disclosed), the Washington City Paper reported ( that Councilmember Mendelson received three thousand dollars in campaign contributions from Pepco. This was more than the other members of the Committee. Councilmember Bowser received $2,300, Alexander $1,900, Graham $1,800, and Cheh nothing. This article also reported that the DC Chamber of Commerce, one of the very, very few entities beside Pepco to oppose Betty Noel’s nomination to the Public Service Commission, gave Mendelson $5,000, Alexander $3,300, Bowser $3,200, Graham $2,300 and nothing to Cheh. Donna Cooper, a Pepco Vice President, is on the DC Chamber’s board of directors.


Another Bogus Crime Wave (Jack McKay)
Richard Rothblum (

[Re: “Another Bogus Crime Wave,” themail, March 24] Jack, it is very nice to read a voice of reason regarding hysterical statistics hyped by The Washington Post. However, it is my impression that crime in upper northwest has gotten a lot worse recently, although not as bad as perhaps it once was. What is your take on the statistics for Ward 3?


Another Bogus Crime Wave (Correction)
Jack McKay,

In the March 24 issue of themail, I wrote that “By my count (obtained from the MPD crime map site), there were 794 robberies in the District between January 1 and March 13 (how the Post gets 875, citing the same source for their data, I do not know).” Well, now I know: the error was mine, one fumbled cell in my spreadsheet, causing a significant undercount of robberies in 3D. Nonetheless, my conclusions remain the same: there were, by my corrected count, 867 robberies in the District during the period January 1 through March 18, which is a lot more than the 662 recorded last year, but fewer than the 891 counted in 2009, and comparable to the 793 recorded in 2008. Last year, the January-February crime count in DC was depressed by bad weather. This year, with mild weather and no snow, it wasn’t, and the robbery count went up to rather ordinary numbers. Not a crime “surge.” Just good weather, bringing people out onto the street, providing more opportunities to robbers on the prowl for victims.

A correspondent asked about the crime rates in upper northwest. In MPD District 2, the 74 robberies recorded is indeed higher than in any other year since 2005, but still, only barely more than the 72 counted in 2009. I suppose that’s something for upper-northwesters to worry about, but what amounts to a record crime count in upper Northwest is still low compared to anywhere else in DC. MPD 2D has about 19 percent of the District’s population, but accounted for only 8.5 percent of the city robbery total during this period. No other MPD district had fewer than one hundred robberies. Yes, I know, nobody wants to hear that they shouldn’t complain because the crime problem is worse somewhere else. But those of us who don’t live in upper northwest resent the amount of attention paid by District councilmembers and the MPD to the DC neighborhoods that have by far the lowest crime rates in the District.



DPW Live, Online Chat on Street Cleaning Issues, March 30
Kevin B. Twine,

The Department of Public Works Street and Alley Cleaning Division will discuss new street cleaning initiatives for 2012 and address citizens’ concerns and questions regarding this service during a live, online chat Friday, March 30, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. The chat was previously scheduled for noon, Thursday, March 29. To participate in the session once it has begun, place into the browser’s search bar or visit and select the “Live Chat” icon up at the top of DPW’s home page. Transcripts of all chat sessions can be reviewed after the session by following these same instructions. DPW’s online chats are held at noon each month with DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr., and other DPW officials.


Woman’s National Democratic Club Meetings, April 3, 5
Patricia Bitondo,

Tuesday, April 3, luncheon with Morgan Weibel, Asylum from Gender-Based Violence. Please join the Global Women’s Task Force in welcoming human rights advocate and attorney Morgan Weibel of the Tahirih Justice Center. What are we doing about gender-based violence, including genital mutilation, torture, rape, human trafficking, honor crimes, widow rituals, forced marriage, and domestic violence? Ms. Weibel and the staff at Tahirih provide legal representation to women fleeing these threats in their countries, as well as case management services, to create a new life here. We will hear about their important work, and what we can do to spread the word, advocate and support their efforts to protect women and girls whose victimization affects us all. Ms. Weibel has developed an expertise in femicide and international women’s rights. She will present some of her cases to us, and give us talking points to raise awareness about this worldwide problem. At the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. Bar opens at 11:30 a.m.; lunch 12:15 p.m.; lecture, presentation, Q&A: 1:00-2:00 p.m. Members $25, nonmembers $30; lecture only $10. Register at

Thursday, April 5, luncheon with The Honorable Donna Edwards. Congresswoman Edwards represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. When first elected to the Congress in 2008, Congresswoman Edwards became the first African American woman to represent the state of Maryland in the US House. Ms. Edwards on the following committees: Transportation and Infrastructure, Science and Technology, and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Ms. Edwards is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and was recently chosen to CO-chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” task force. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of New Hampshire School of Law. She has lived in Prince George’s County for more than twenty-five years, and her son is a recent university graduate. Congresswoman Edwards works tirelessly to improve the lot of women and has spoken out on many issues, including making certain that the minimum wage covers workers such as restaurant workers where the wage has remained unchanged for 21 years — still at $2.15 an hour. Don’t miss the chance to hear and have a dialogue with Congresswoman Edwards. At the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. Bar opens at 11:30 a.m.; lunch 12:15 p.m.; lecture, presentation, Q&A: 1:00-2:00 p.m. Members $25, nonmembers $30; lecture only $10. Register at


Spotlight on Design Lecture with Diana Balmori. April 4
Stacy Adamson,

Diana Balmori, FASLA, founding principal of Balmori Associates, discusses the environmental benefit of integrating landscape and architecture on Wednesday, April 4, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Dr. Balmori “calls on us to recognize new relationships — between disciplines, between inert and living materials, between nature and culture.” Recognized internationally as one of the leading professionals working in the fields of landscape and architecture, she discusses projects that reflect her vision for contemporary urban spaces that successfully integrate these relationships. Dr. Balmori’s projects range from the master plan for Korea’s new government complex to the largest monitored green roof on top of Silvercup Studios in New York City. Dr. Balmori will be introduced by Kathryn Sullivan, PhD, a former astronaut and now Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and NOAA Deputy Administrator and Chief Scientist (Acting). This lecture is presented in celebration of National Landscape Architecture Month. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. $12 members, free for students, $20 for nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. Register for events at


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