Grist for themail
What do you like and dislike about living in the District of
Columbia? Your neighborhood? It’s all grist for the mill in themail.
Write and tell us.
We Apparently Have Enough Parks in DC to Give
On June 6, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)
will hold a hearing concerning the proposed surplusing of the McMillan
Sand Filtration Site, which is both a DC Landmark and listed on the
National Register of Historic Places (http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/13000022.htm).
Apparently we have so much historic parkland in DC that we can sell it.
Would a responsible government sell a historic park, designed by
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who designed the National Mall and several
other parks in Washington? Is it common for our government to sell
historic properties as surplus? While DMPED is trying to sell McMillan,
the mayor has noted that parkland was left out of the design of NoMa and
he’s so concerned about it that he put a request for about $50 million
into his 2014 budget to buy land for parks for NoMa. Yet he asked for
about the same amount in last year’s budget to destroy McMillan in
preparation for development. Either the mayor is right and we have so
much surplus parkland in Washington that we can afford to sell it, or
we’re lucky that our government doesn’t have the ability to sell the
Mall and the various monuments and museums downtown, because those would
fetch a pretty penny. This all makes dollars but not sense.
Lawsuit Sponsors Define Who and What They Are
Empower DC’s monthly membership meeting, on Saturday, May 18, was
heralded as an opportunity to "Take a swing at the people hurting our
communities — the Gray/Hendeson Pinata" — complete with a visual
readying the faces of public officials for smashing. Is this how Empower
DC wants to define who and what they are for a national movement?
Apparently so. Instead of rethinking, when called on the violent image,
the poor model this offers children, and the failure to pursue
respectful engagement, Empower DC shrugged: "The real violence is taking
away what few resources low income communities have. . . ." Clearly
Empower DC seeks to present its work as linked to the civil rights
movement and presumes to teach "civil disobedience" (although
"non-violent" is not stressed). But the pinata stunt — being neither
civil nor disobedient to any immoral law — merely demonstrates how
little this organization is grounded in the movement it claims to honor.
And if Empower DC cannot do better, its bizarrely juvenile statements
will not only discredit the movement for equitable education but sully
the history it seeks to continue.
I have already severed my own relationship with Empower DC over its
failure to respect diversity of religious beliefs (including lack
thereof). Its leadership, including members of its legal team, insisted
there was no problem with asking everyone at a lawsuit rally, not
advertised as religious in content, to dedicate its donations, efforts,
and prayers in the name of Jesus. Ironically, the pinata event was held
in a church, and, while I am not a Christian myself, I am pretty sure
that "turn the other cheek" didn’t mean "take a swing." (I asked Rev.
Sutton of the host church for comment, but have not heard back.)
Mohandas Gandhi, Mahatma/teacher to generations of activists around
the world, believed that "We must be the change we wish to see in the
world." Having worked with members and staff of Empower DC, I do not
believe that the entire organization supports a world in which leaders
are dehumanized and people, rather than policies, are attacked. I also
doubt that the whole organization is uninterested in being more
welcoming to people of non-Christian or no faith. I hope there are group
members, staffers, and perhaps additional elders in the community who
will step up to help Empower DC endeavor to better embody the change we
all want to see in the world.
Dorothy, it is so considerate of you to share with us readers [themail,
May 15] the negatives of undergrounding our power lines. Now could you
please share the benefits and cost benefits of burying the lines? For
example, what was the cost to the city, to PEPCO, and to the consumers
who rely on power for generating income, as well as other things?
Perhaps that way your post would not so easily be interpreted as biased
against burying the lines. Thanks for whatever light you can shine on
the benefits to all of us.
[There are certainly costs and benefits to burying the District’s
power lines. The purpose of my May 15 posting was to make District
residents aware of the proposed plan and to suggest that they demand a
full, unabridged version of the Task Force’s report, including the
recommendations of its finance and technical committees. As is often the
case in the District, the devil may be in the details. The mayor’s May
15 press conference was mostly a feel-good lovefest among the members of
the Task Force. Very few details were provided about the project’s
seven-year timetable regarding which feeder lines would be buried or how
the project would be finance and managed (whether by the city or by
Pepco). Because the project will require approval by both the council
and, with regard to Pepco’s proposed rate increases, by the Public
Service Commission, citizens will hopefully have an opportunity to
review the proposed plan and testify on it at pubic hearings in the
fall. — Dorothy Brizill]
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Rally for Child Care, May 21
Did you see the article "Life with and without DC’s Child Care
Subsidy" in Thursday’s Washington Post,
article describes the challenges that parents and providers face when
trying to access and provide quality, affordable child care through DC’s
Child Care Subsidy Program. The subsidy program has been cut by thirty
million dollars over the last several years, and the fiscal year 2014
budget proposes it be cut again by one and a half million dollars.
Once again Mayor Gray relegated Child Care to his "wish list" — a
list of items that could possibly be funded later in the year if the
city comes into additional revenues. The problem is, child care was on
the wish list last year too and, despite new revenue, was not funded.
This year the mayor listed child care as priority #1 on the wish list,
to the tune of $11 million. It’s up to the DC council to put child care
in the actual fiscal year 2014 budget.
On Tuesday, May 21, our members will be visiting the Wilson Building
to make one last appeal for council leadership and support to move child
care from the wish list into the fiscal year 2014 budget. Please join us
to visit our councilmembers to urge their support. Whether or not you
can make it, please take a moment to call or E-mail the council. Join us
on Tuesday, May 21, at 9:30 a.m., at the Wilson Building, 1350
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, to rally for child care.
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