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January 27, 2013

Grahamstanding

Dear Washingtonians:

Dorothy, below, calls attention to on op-ed column in the Washington Post, "Scapegoating Jim Graham," http://tinyurl.com/bg763ze. Iíd like to mention it here, not for the legal, semilegal, and rhetorical arguments made by its authors, but for the skeptical and hostile comments that readers made to it. "How much weíre these two lawyers paid to write their opinion of Grahamís involvement in the Ď08 lottery contract? Why does Jim Graham need a lawyer if he has done nothing wrong? Are these two being paid with city funds also?" "Who will stand with Jim Graham? This is what I want to know . . . and I want to hear from someone other than his defense lawyers, please." ". . . [T]his piece is nothing more than paid attorneys writing a preview of their legal defense strategy for that client. Truly pathetic." "The only question I had when reading this was how many billable hours it represents and who will pay that bill." "It is telling that on the comment boards here and in all local media even that apart from The Washington Post not one friend, colleague, or constituent has murmured even a hint of support for ĎAIDS Griftí apart from this dense prose his criminal defense team proffers. Communications professionals would question to what extent an exercise such as this reeks of desperation lacking any corroboration from the community at large."

The people have spoken.

Gary Imhoff
themail@dcwatch.com

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The Martyred Jim Graham
Dorothy Brizill, dorothy@dcwatch.com

The DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) held a special meeting on January 18 to consider "next steps in the preliminary investigation of Jim Graham with regard to his conduct while serving a dual role as a sitting councilmember and as a member of the Board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority." The Board received a seventeen-page written submission and heard an oral presentation by Grahamís attorney, William W. Taylor, III. It has yet to issue a decision. Taylorís resume on the web site of his law firm, Zuckerman Spaeder, boasts that he obtained the dismissal of all criminal charges against former International Monetary Fund Director Dominique Strauss-Kohn, http://www.zuckerman.com/william_taylor. Taylor asked the BEGA not to launch a full investigation into Grahamís role in 2008 in awarding the Districtís lottery contract and WMATAís awarding a contract to develop a WMATA-owned parcel on Florida Avenue.

Taylor argued that his client was simply seeking to protect his ward from the dangers of a bad developer, Banneker Ventures), and that "sharp-elbowed political behavior is not a violation of any District ethics provisions." Taylor summarized his arguments in an op-ed piece written with his co-counsel, Rachel F. Cotten), published by the Washington Post on January 27 ("Scapegoating Jim Graham," http://tinyurl.com/bg763ze). They write, "To brand DC Council member Jim Graham as a villain in the DC lottery controversy is to unfairly tarnish the reputation of a public servant who has tirelessly served the best interests of the District for thirty-five years. We trust the DC Board of Ethics and Government accountability will take an objective and level-headed look at the matter and see it as we do."

As a longtime resident of Ward One, I am personally familiar with the image of Jim Graham. Whether you are a concerned resident, civic leader, businessman, developer, or government official who lives or works in Ward One, you have probably had an unpleasant encounter with Graham, since he has insisted on injecting himself into every issue or project in the ward. For example, in 1998, when project managers for WMATA wanted to meet with residents of 14th Street in order to complete the construct of the Green Line Metro, Graham had a temper tantrum. He called WMATAís General Manager and other senior officials at WMATA and the DC Department of Public Works because they had organized the meeting with local civic organizations and ANCís, and hadnít gone through his office. After yelling, screaming, and threatening to have them fired, Graham admonished them that he was in control and made all decisions regarding Ward One. That it is Jim Graham that I have come to know ever since he was first elected to the city council.

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A New Year ó No Parking Enforcement
Clyde Howard ceohoward@hotmail.com

A new year with no parking enforcement. We must suffer another year without parking enforcement. Aside from that, we have been saddled with a parking plan with a lot of promises and no results. It seems that William Howland, Director of Public Works, has done nothing; neither has he increased the cadre of parking aides to police the new parking restrictions posted for the new DDOT parking plan for Ward 1. A lot of smoke and mirrors has been put before the residents that the new parking restrictions would be strictly enforced, yet as always Howland continues to blow smoke that his parking aides are writing tickets in and around alcohol corrals of U Street, NW. This is far from the truth, in that we still have to put up with the sots that frequent U Street plus the extra hours of their sucking up more alcohol. Added to this are the Metro buses that dead head back to U Street. It just a matter of time before these buses will have an accident involving the school children walking to Harrison Playground. Perhaps 2013 will bring some relief, and we will obtain a progressive thinker to represent our Ward.

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Driving Is a Liberating Technology
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

"Driving is a liberating technology" says Gary [themail, January 23]. Sure ó and so were the wheel, lever, steam engine, airplane. And so are mass transit, Capital Bikeshare, Zipcar. Itís not a zero-sum game; supporting any travel mode but the sacred car is not "seeing driving as the enemy." Why canít drivers and people who love them realize that anything that reduces driving helps those still driving?

Driving is liberating for me ó sometimes. But if Iím coming into DC for the day planning multiple stops around the city, Iíd be nuts to drive ó and park, and park, and park. So I take Metro and mostly walk between stops. If theyíre really far apart or weather dictates, Iíll take Metro. Metro surely has drawbacks ó my Metro stop parking lot fills so itís useless for coming downtown midday. And DC policies have drawbacks, with loony/complex parking restrictions and meters running until 10:00 p.m., leading to previously parked-up streets sitting empty, indicating that people are either not coming into DC or are paying extortionate garage fees. Either way, brilliant move by DC ó inconveniencing people or costing them money and reducing city revenue.

Times change. Cities change. Cars will be here for a long time. But blindly resisting anything else ó especially experiments ó to preserve one moment in time is folly.

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Response to Prohibition in themail
Patrick Thibodeau, dcblogs@gmail.com

I donít know exactly what [Gary Imhoff is] defending on gun rights [themail, January 20]. Clearly, prohibition and confiscation wonít work. Iím not going to support a multi-billion-dollar buyback of assault weapons. No one will.

What I do want is a strong pushback on the excesses of the NRA and the arming of our society. Things are so out of control, that the NRA managed to get language in the Obama Care bill prohibiting medical professionals from asking about gun ownership. There is good cause for a medical professional to ask some patients, especially those who may be at risk for suicide, about whether they own a gun. A pediatric professional may want to know as well. The NRA and its enablers have been working with little opposition to expand conceal carry laws to just about every place. Their opposition to background checks is nonsensical We have been a on path to loosen gun laws around the country and society has largely ignored it. Thatís what needs to change. I do get the part that criminals will own guns.

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CLASSIFIEDS ó EVENTS

Teatro Lirico of DC presents "Rossini in Spain"
Marco A. Campos, teatroliricodc@aol.com

Gioacchino Rossini was a master composer who wrote nearly forty operas, including The Barber of Seville, along with countless other pieces. In the concert Rossini in Spain, the artists link the composerís use of Spanish rhythms throughout his work and the impact of his relationships with Spaniards in his productions. Featuring Gina Maria Perregrino (mezzo), Jose Sacin (baritone) and Callie Schlegel (soprano) on vocals, the program will highlight selections from Rossiniís salon, religious, and operatic works. Get a deeper understanding of this legendary composerís music during this fantastic concert.

Casa Italiana, 595 1/2 Third Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station, Saturday, February 2, 7:00 p.m. Tickets and more information at http://www.teatroliricodc.com.

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