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February 27, 2013


Dear Sequesterers:

Back in the September 25, 2002, issue of themail, I wrote, "Bureaucracies know how to confront and confound budget cutters. My favorite true story was that whenever the federal budget proposed a funding cut for the National Park Service, the Park Service would respond with its Old Faithful list of spending reductions. Reliably, right at the top of the list, year after year, would be two things: cutting the hours of service at the Washington Monument and closing Yellowstone Park for a few weeks during the summer. Whenever the bureaucracy gets to devise the plan, services to the public will be slashed savagely before anybody in the bureaucracy loses a job, and the most popular services will be the first to be cut."

So it makes sense that the introduction to this issue of themail has been cut because of the sequester.

Gary Imhoff


Open Primaries
Earl Shamwell,

I disagree with Garyís opinion that opening party primaries to members of other parties and to non party voters wonít solve anything [themail, February 24]. First, there are many people here who are registered as independents, and there is no such thing as an Independent party. Accordingly, these persons really have no say as to who will be the candidate for any office. If they vote at all independents have to vote for whomever the other organized parties put up. Therefore, an open primary may just bring more voter participation something sorely needed in DC elections what with our dismal and frankly shameful voter participation rate.

Second, to me an open primary will allow candidates ó even those who identify with the established parties ó to appeal to the independents who have a different view of the direction their party should take. For instance, if a fiscally conservative Democrat were magically to appear in the now open primary, the independents and others of that mind set could possibly make that person the Democratic nominee. In that case, even with the 75 percent Dem registration advantage, there could be a change in the direction of the cityís fiscal policies. Now that would be a welcome change. So I think an open primary may be an answer, if not the answer, to our predicament, and contrary to Garyí s position may just solve something.

Perhaps others can think of other solutions, but we as a body politic are simply going nowhere with the present one-party-rule situation. All the candidates are cookie cutter copies of the incumbents, and during the election season can only resort to calling each other names to distinguish themselves from one another because all share the same ideology and governing philosophy: tax and spend.


Slanted Rules Indeed
Paul Basken,

Itís a strange myopia that leads one to travel the streets of this city and this country to imagine the rules are slanted in the favor of bicyclists rather than cars. Where does one begin? Are most roadsí width designed primarily for cars or bicyclists? The spacing and timing of the lights? The frequency at which they change? The number of bicycle-only highways (please let me know when you find one)? The raw percentage of pavement?

It is, of course, understandable on some level that folks who donít actually travel by bike on a regular basis have a badly misguided impression of what itís really like. Among many other things, as we see in the comments from Mr. Howard and Mr. Jeremy [themail, February 24], they tend to have a seriously unbalanced understanding of whether itís bicyclists who most need protections against poor driving decisions by motorists, or vice-versa. Bicyclists who donít understand things such as the rate at which cars start and stop and accelerate, Mr. Howard, donít actually survive for very long. The notion that motorists somehow understand these things better than bicyclists is a peculiar conceit of motorists. Bicyclists have a very keen understanding of the penalty for a failure of a momentís attention. By comparison, the driver who is surprised by a bicyclist is very often absorbed in multiple activities beyond paying attention to driving.

Motorists are understandably upset by daily high volumes of traffic, and picking on bicyclists is, for some, a cheap and easy way to vent. A moment of reflection, however, might lead them to see that most of the traffic around them consists of other cars, and that encouraging bicyclists and making them feel safer could lead to a few more bicyclists, and a little bit less car traffic. The analogy to the devastation of the riots of last century, Mr. Jeremy, is an interesting one. Among other things, the riots represented a call on people in a position of majority power to think a little bit more about the ease with which they accept the status quo. So yes, that kind of lesson might be worth considering now, if weíd like to avoid leaving folks a different kind of devastation in the coming century.


Senior Transportation Grant
Darlene Nowlin,

The Office on Aging (DCOA) is soliciting applications from qualified entities to operate the Washington Elderly Handicapped Transportation Service (WEHTS). The Request for Application (RFA) will seek an organization to operate the WEHTS program, currently located at 2601 18th Street, NW. The deadline for submission is April 19 at 4:45 p.m., and no late applications will be accepted. A Pre-Application Conference will be held on March 6 at 10:30 a.m., at 500 K Street, NE. The RFA is available on the DCOA web site at and on the Office of Partnership and Grant Services web site at For more information, contact Aurora Delespin-Jones, Program Analyst, or Brenda L. Turner, Program and Grants Manager, at 724-8821.



Save Our Schools Summit, March 14
Parisa Norouzi,

Join Empower DC for the Save Our Schools Summit, an information session and rally building support for Empower DCís lawsuit to stop the planned closure of fifteen DC public schools impacting over 2,700 students of color. Thursday, March 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Temple of Praise, 700 Southern Avenue, SE. The session will include the introduction of plaintiffs from impacted schools, introduction of legal team, review of the legal strategy, expressions of support, and a call to action.

For more information, to RSVP, or request transportation contact Daniel del Pielago, Education Organizer, 234-9119 x104 or


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