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April 10, 2013

Diversity

Dear Diverse Correspondents:

Jonetta Rose Barras has endorsed Patrick Mara in the special election for at-large city councilmember, because he would bring diversity to the DC council, http://tinyurl.com/cgnb889. But Jonetta means the kind of diversity that really counts, intellectual and political diversity. Thatís not the grounds on which our elections are fought. We fight over sex and race, not ideas. Anita Bondsí first campaign pitch in the current special election was made to women, to whom she argued that she should be elected because she is a woman, in order to increase (or maintain) the number of women on the city council. Now that Michael Brown has dropped out of the race, her primary pitch is that she should be elected because she is black, to maintain the number of blacks on the council.

Everybody elseís campaign pitch has been that he or she should be elected because he or she is a Democrat, not a Republican, and Repugs are just fuggly and should never be elected to any office ever. One exception to that rule is Perry Redd, the Statehood Green candidate, who argues that Democrats are too conservative, and should all move further left. The other exception is Pat Mara, the Republican candidate, who argues that heís just as liberal as any Democrat on most issues, so his party shouldnít be held against him.

I donít know. I want a real troublemaker on the council, one who will challenge the group think and that keeps the current councilmembers on their toes. The current councilmembers donít like one another and donít work together as a team, but they donít challenge each other on ideology, policy, or their idiotic special pet projects, either. I would like someone on the council who has a backbone and is smart, and who starts some arguments over the direction of this cityís government.

Gary Imhoff
themail@dcwatch.com

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Peak Blooms
Carole Jacobs, caroljjacobs@gmail.com

You really must try harder to sort out the characteristics of groups whom you find objectionable. A case in point: how have the nature-adverse urbanists of Washington come to be so attached to a brief season marked by such a risky dependence on undependable weather?

I am a pretty typical urbanist, and I can assure you that it is cars we are averse to, not nature. What could be better than deciduous trees in the city, providing shade when needed, oxygen all the time, and their elegance to the landscape? [An attached] photo shows my urbanist home, my urbanist Yoshino [cherry tree], my urbanist vehicle (the bike), and an example of the kind of vehicle (behemoth hipster truck) whose numbers on my urbanist street I would prefer to see reduced.

I know you find the increase in bicycle traffic in the city a bother, but my mode of transport does not emit particulate matter that causes asthma, heat, and greenhouse gases that contribute to the urban heat island or global warming, make potholes, or create gridlock. You should be happy that every cyclist you see ó even the pesky ones ó are pedaling along the margins rather than crowding yet another motorized vehicle onto the street.

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How Strongly Held Are Anti-Automobile Positions of Some Younger DC Residents?
Tom Grahame, tgrahame@mindspring.com

Gary, it seems to me that you might have spotted the strength of anti-automobile people earlier than I did. Look at what Jason Mitchell says in an exchange on Larry Janezichís blog . . . regarding a new proposed residential building near the Potomac Metro, where the developer wants permission to build a smaller number of parking spaces than required. Please look at the insensitivity of a person named Jason, who essentially tells me that I should move if I donít like being inconvenienced as a elderly car owner, and then my reply to that.

For context, I wrote: "There is also the issue of precedent to consider. If one developer gets to build more apartments with less parking, then it will be hard to say no to the next developer, and the next, and the next. The result will be that the people who need to on street parking the most ó those who no longer can do all they need to do on foot or on bikes ó will have an ever more difficult time finding parking near their home. If you want to do something about automobile traffic and emissions, keep on raising the downtown parking garage fees, which will incentivize commuters ó who drive many more miles a year than most DC residents ó to take Metro. Please donít punish the people who moved to DC long ago, drive very little, but still need their car, in a crusade against automobiles."

Jason replied: "DC is an urban city for all that entails. Where does it say that a city must provide parking for all? If you must own a car (and I would argue that I find it hard to believe that if youíre elderly thatís the best way to get around) then you should either own a home with off-street parking or perhaps move to a cheaper location which offers a car-centric lifestyle. Your argument about people who moved to DC long ago holds no water, as their home values have skyrocketed and thus they could afford to move. Donít forget that weíre still below peak population levels in DC. Oh whatever did all those people do with less cars back then? They chose to live in a city, as do we all that live here. There are positives as well as negatives which go along with that. Better public transportation, greater density, and better zoning helps alleviate the need to drive even for those with special needs."

I replied to him: "Jason, perhaps the reason you find it hard to believe that a car is the best way for us to get around is that you arenít there yet, and donít know our activities! I wonít take up space here to detail it, but I can guarantee that I need a car on average four days a week, never to get to work (I walk two miles to work, Metro home most nights). If you want details, please reply. I agree that greater density around Metro stations is a good idea. I just donít agree that the greater density should be without parking, or very low parking. As for moving, most of our social community, our social lives, are wrapped up in Capitol Hill. We do not want to move. We could afford to, but it would impoverish our lives greatly, we would no longer be near our friends. We moved here when cultural attitudes to parking and commuting were different, we were the oddballs because we did want to live in a city, and didnít want to commute by car. Please donít tell us that we have to conform to the rules of a new generation in ways that will be difficult for us to accommodate, or leave everything we have known as adults."

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CLASSIFIEDS ó EVENTS

Origami Mural Project at Yards Park with Artist Iona Rozeal Brown
Marybeth Brow, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, marybeth.brown@dc.gov

Meet DC artist Iona Rozeal Brown and learn about the ancient art of Origami making. The public is invited to contribute to the installation of DCís first ever Origami mural! Thousands of Origami figures will unite to form a work of art along New Jersey Avenue, SE, in Navy Yards Park.

Join us at the corner of M Street and New Jersey Avenue, SE, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 13. All ages are welcome. Special thanks to The Yards and the Capitol Riverfront BID.

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