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August 21, 2013

Tart and Refreshing

Dear Diners:

I havenít printed any ice cream or sorbet recipes this year, and now that weíre getting a few weeks of summer weather again after a cool spell itís time to make up for it. Hereís an easy lemon sorbet or lemon slushy recipe thatís tart and refreshing. Make a simple syrup by heating three cups of sugar in three cups of water until it is dissolved. Cool the syrup. Add two and a quarter cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice (RealLemon is a perfectly acceptable substitute in this recipe) and the grated rind of two lemons, and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker. Straight out of the ice cream maker the lemon mixture can be served as a slushy or frozen drink. After a couple hours in a freezer, the mixture can be served as a sorbet. You can also substitute lime juice and grated lime rind for the lemon to make limeade, or substitute an orange for one of the lemons to make a milder, less tart lemonade.

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Matthew Yglesias rides one of his hobby horses again, campaigning against houses with yards, in "Get Off My Lawn (I Donít Even Want a Lawn)," http://tinyurl.com/m3dujqn. Yglesias argues that yards are nothing but wasted space and sprawl, and that cities shouldnít encourage them or set zoning requirements for them. What is surprising is that even from what should be his most supportive audience, the readers of Slate Magazine, the overwhelming reaction he gets from his commentators is disagreement. Readers tell him if he didnít want a yard, he shouldnít have bought a house with a yard; he should have rented an apartment or bought a condominium instead. But he should let other people live in the kind of housing they prefer and not complain about it. A healthy city life is about providing a variety of choices for people at various stages of their lives, not about fitting everyone in a one-size-fits-all "smart growth" straight jacket.

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The reputation of the March on Washington will survive its reenactment this coming weekend, but it wonít be enhanced by it. It will be better to treat the upcoming event as a tribute to what was a unique inspiring gathering and a turning point in American history a half century ago than to compare and contrast it to the original.

Gary Imhoff
themail@dcwatch.com

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When the Council Reconvenes
Dorothy Brizill, dorothy@dcwatch.com

The council will end its summer recess in mid-September, and will hold its first legislative session on September 17. The Large Retailer Accountability Act (B20-62), also known as the living wage bill, which was passed by the council at its last legislative session, on July 10, will serve as the backdrop for a pitched battle between the council and the mayor when the legislative body reconvenes. Gray, concerned about the threats from Walmart to abandon its plan to build six stores in the District and warnings from other retailers, has hinted that he is likely to veto the bill. Meanwhile, the billís supporters, including eight councilmembers ó Bonds, Evans, Grosso, Orange, Barry, Graham, and McDuffie, and Mendelson ó will need the support of at least one more councilmember in order to overrule a mayoral veto.

The councilís September agenda will also include several issues that could impact the 2014 elections, e.g., whether to hold the Districtís primary election on April 1 or to reschedule it to June (Phil Mendelson has an emergency bill he plans to introduce to shift the date) and whether t postpone the first election of DCís attorney general from 2014 to 2018 (such an amendment is attached to a bill on the role and duties of the office of the AG that will have its second reading on September 17).

On or about September 17, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, chair of the Councilís Government Operations Committee, will introduce a comprehensive campaign finance reform bill that will consolidate in a single bill the key provisions contained in the more than twelve campaign finance reform bills what have been introduce in the council in the past year. McDuffie will then hold a public hearing on the bill and try to schedule a vote and secure council approval in the fall (October or November). In addition to reviewing substantive changes in the Districtís campaign finance laws and regulations, the council will also have to determine when any of those changes will be implemented. Since nominating petitions are scheduled to be released to candidates in the April 2014 primary by the DC Board of Elections on November 8, the council and the mayor will have to agree on which reform measure can be implemented during the 2014 election cycle.

The July 25th term agreement regarding the construction of a new DC United stadium at Buzzardís Point in southwest has a very tight timetable. Under the term agreement, the "Transaction Agreements" between the District and DC United must be finalized by October 1, and the council must give legal approval to the stadium deal by January 1, 2014. As a result, the fall session of the council could provide the backdrop for a protracted political battle over a new stadium similar to the very nasty fight over the construction of the Nationals baseball stadium.

Other important issues that will be considered by the council when it reconvenes include: a) council approval of a new CEO to replace Natwar Gandhi; b) legislation to reform the Districtís CBE (local and minority business) program; c) legislation to underground Pepcoís power lines; d) competing education legislative proposed by David Catania (seven separate bills) and Mayor Gray; and e) sanctions to be imposed by the council on Councilmember Marion Barry for accepting $6800 in gifts from two city contractors.

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My Only Experience in a DC School
Tom Grahame, tgrahame@mindspring.com

I donít have kids. As a lifetime public policy person, though, I have always cared about schooling, especially inner city schooling. Throughout the 1970ís and 1980ís, I would read every year or so about some new innovation that this time, this time, would cause inner city kids to learn more. And they never did; the scores were always dismal.

In the late 1990s, in Washington Monthly (started and edited by Charles Peters, a Democrat who headed JFKís Kanawha County, West Virginia, campaign), there was an article explaining in great detail all the reasons why public schools could not improve. The longish story was centered around Chicagoís attempt to fire a truly bad teacher. It went through the courts for years, with the teacher eventually winning, and eventually getting several million dollars. There were many issues in that article, most dealing with how over-lawyering tied the hands of the best teachers. After that, and based on my previous reading as well, I decided that I had to support a new type of urban public school, charter schools. They would have a bit more freedom to do things right, I thought. It was a gamble, but it had to be better than continually failing so many kids, giving them little or no chance for the kind of job that would earn them enough money to move someplace safe, to be able to contribute.

Fast forward to about 2007. I got a chance to tour the SEED school, a charter school that is also an in-town boarding school. Local kids slept at the schoolís dormitory five nights a week and went home for the weekend. During the tour, I buttonholed a ninth grade girl, and asked her, "What is the biggest difference between SEED and the school you went to before?" Not missing a beat, she said that at SEED, a counselor is knocking on your door several times a night to make sure you are doing your homework. Back at her previous school, no one cared if you did it or not. She had the look of someone who was learning good work habits.

Iím not drawing any huge generalizations from one visit. What she had to say about what her previous school did fit my preconceptions, though.

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