Weather or Not
In the last issue of themail, I asked whether you would please name
anything encouraging about living in DC. No one responded. Oh, come on,
this is an easy one, especially on a day like today and the past few
days we’ve had. Just open the window, stick your head outside, and take
a deep breath.
Actions Talk . . . BS Walks
Randy Alan Weiss,
There are three members of the DC city council who are running for
mayor. They are, of course, Councilmembers. Bowser, Evans, and Wells.
Only Councilmember Wells has urged the termination of the so-called
"constituent service accounts." In case you don’t know what these are,
they are accounts for funds collected by a Councilmember and held in a
separate account for "constituent services." Under last year’s ethics
law, which can be found in the DC Code Sections 1-1163.38, "The Mayor,
The Chairman of the Council and [any Councilmember] may establish
constituent-service programs . . . [up to] $40,000 in any one calendar
year." "Funds raised shall be expended only for an activity, service or
program which provides emergency, informational, charitable, scientific,
educational, medical or recreational services [to DC residences]."
Permissible categories include funerals, housing, utility payments,
payments for "necessities," food and refreshments, community events, and
community-wide events. Impermissible categories include political
activities, fines and penalties, giving away cash, sponsoring political
organizations or any mass mailing within ninety days of an election.
It’s interesting to note that neither the "permissible category" nor the
"impermissible category" is exhaustive nor exclusive. That means, for
example, that Councilmember Evans can continue to buy baseball tickets
to Nats games (recreational services) and Councilmember Barry can raise
money to pay his own housing, necessities of life, and utility bills.
This also means that the funds can be used for any mass mailing outside
of the ninety-day limit for any purpose.
It’s hard to say that the Act tightened up the previous law. Maybe it
just made it a teeny bit tougher to hoodwink the public. The law doesn’t
forbid paying the Chairman or Treasurer of these accounts salaries, nor
does it limit the amount used for administrative purposes. The law
should have closed down these accounts once for all and required that
the funds in these accounts be distributed to charities. Folks can
contribute to charities, and Councilmembers can certainly actively take
part in raising money for charities. My suggestion to anyone running for
mayor that, if you are to be taken seriously on ethics matters, close
down your Constituent Service Account and distribute all funds to public
War on Cars — Not Always Seen That Way
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com
If LA can deal with this, maybe there’s hope for DC. "LA Breaks
Driving Addiction as Bike-Train Commutes Grow," by James Nash,
Bloomberg, June 19,
Angeles embodied America’s love affair with the automobile in the last
century. In this one it’s trying to kick the car to the curb. The city
that put drive-through restaurants on the map has doubled its network of
bike lanes to 292 miles (470 kilometers) and expanded light rail by 26
percent in the past eight years, with another 18 miles of track coming
by 2015. Bus and train ridership is on the rise, while the total number
of passenger cars registered has declined in Los Angeles County —
evidence more commuters are breaking their dependence.
"’I feel pretty spoiled by the transit system in LA,’ said Madeline
Brozen, a 26-year-old transplant from New Orleans who uses a bicycle and
buses to make a 12-mile trek from the Los Feliz neighborhood to the
University of California, Los Angeles in Westwood, where she researches
urban transportation. The one-family car Americans grew up with,
combustion-engined and gasoline-powered, is under assault from an array
of options: electric cars, hybrids and alternatives like bikes,
light-rail and car-sharing plans such as the one operated by Avis Budget
Group Inc. (CAR)’s Zipcar Inc. (ZIP) Los Angeles, the largest market in
the biggest US state for vehicle sales, could be the ultimate test of
the conventional car’s future.
". . . The city has become more accommodating to bicyclists, adding
bike lanes and reminding drivers they must share the road with riders.
Los Angeles is making plans for a bike-share program similar to New
York’s Citi Bike, the network inaugurated last month in Manhattan and
Brooklyn. Privately held Bike Nation USA last year announced plans for
bike sharing in Los Angeles, beginning downtown this year, with as many
as 4,000 bicycles eventually. The program is looking for a corporate
sponsor, Derek Fretheim, chief operating officer of the Tustin,
California-based company told the web site Curbed LA last week."
[If you present an article that speaks of driving as an addiction, as
dependence that has to be broken, and celebrates what it sees as the
"one-family car Americans grew up with" as being "under assault" as
evidence that there is no war on cars, what would it take to convince
you that the media are waging a war on cars? — Gary Imhoff]
It’s a good thing the DC council didn’t vote this week on the
ill-advised Large Retailers Accountability Act. That bill would force
businesses whose parent companies report annual sales revenue of one
billion dollars or more or more to pay a salary of $12.50 per hour to
their workers. The legislation, designed mostly to placate unions and
the anti-Walmart crowd, is election-year political grandstanding.
Workers should beware.
The last time the council propped itself up as defender of the
proletariat was in 2008, when it approved the Accrued Sick and Safe
Leave Act. There was as much hype about that bill as there has been
around the retailers’ accountability legislation. But according to a
report by DC Auditor Yolanda Branch, expected to be released this week,
workers may not have received what was promised. Read more at
Isn’t It Time to Rewrite Its Code, and Re-boot
Len Sullivan, email@example.com
After trying unsuccessfully to get Washington, DC, the city, off its
back for ten years, and then going dormant for five years, The nonprofit
National Association to Restore Pride in America’s Capital, Inc. (NARPAC,
Inc.) has reawakened to go after the real root cause of our embarrassing
national political behavior: a hopelessly outdated Congress using a
226-year-old operating system total incompatible with the realities of
21st century America. As we say in our summary "Op-Ed":
"Where is our moral outrage over the ever-shabbier actions and
inactivity by members of Congress, so inappropriately protected by our
outdated Constitution? Why should that seminal creed justify legislative
performance that fails to meet basic ethical standards of modern
business, from bribery to false advertising? Why are many lawmakers
taking oaths to special interest blackmailers (viz., NRA, ATR) at odds
with their oath of office?
"Today’s Constitution still does not mention such key issues as
democracy itself (viz., "one-voter-one-vote"), voters’ rights, or
campaign abuses. Are we a democracy with only 65 percent of eligible
voters registered, of whom only 15 percent turn out for primaries, 40
percent for off-year elections? Must we treat lobbyists, PACs, and
corporations as individuals? Is loose money free speech? Should top
Congressmen raise funds to buy the obedience of other states’
‘representatives’? Why not establish honest campaign practices?"
And a rebooted Congress would surely resolve DC’s orphan status! If
you lean towards our angst, check out why we’re back in business, as
well as our full "Op-ed" at
us your constructive comments there, and if so inclined, drop something
in our tin cup. We — and you — need all the help we can muster. We will
expand our web site as you inspire us.
Issue Content Uploaded
The June issue content of The Intowner is now posted at
http://www.intowner.com, including the issue
PDF in which will be found the primary news stories, museum exhibition
reviews, and community news — plus all photos and other images. Not
included in the PDF but linked directly from the home page is the What
Once Was feature (this month about, as characterized by the writer, "the
dangers of cut and paste history"), as well as Recent Real Estate Sales,
Reservations Recommended, and Food in the ‘Hood.
This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) "Dupont Circle’s
Stead Park Athletic Field Redevelopment Seen as Near With Funding Now in
City Budget for Start in the Fall"; 2) "Big Step Forward for Fall
Completion of New Adams Morgan Soccer Field Welcomed"; 3) "Saturday,
June 8: Gay Pride Parade Big Hit With Thousands Along Dupont to U Street
Route." Our editorial this month revisits the controversial issue of
regulating bicycle riding on the sidewalks. Your thoughts are welcome
and can be sent by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the web
page or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of July 12 (the
second Friday of the month, as usual). For more information, either send
an E-mail to email@example.com or call 234-1717.
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