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October 6, 2013

Playing the Clavichord

Dear Washingtonians:

I want to explain and to apologize for the irregular schedule of themail over the past few weeks. A couple weeks ago, I fainted, fell on my shoulder, and broke my clavicle, so I’ve been typing with one hand — and some days I haven’t felt like typing at all. That’s not your problem; to keep themail coming, all you have to do is send in your submissions.

One more thing that isn't your problem: my G-mail account has been hacked by a phishing site that’s sending out announcements that ask you to open a Google Doc. It’s a fraud; ignore it.

Gary Imhoff


Changing Voting Precincts
Dorothy Brizill,

Last week, at the monthly meeting of the DC Board of Elections, the Board approved a staff report, "2013 Precinct Boundary Efficiency Plan," that would realign all election precinct boundaries in the 2014 elections to correspond to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission single-member boundaries,,pdf. The goal of the project is to improve the administration of district elections by reorganizing election sites. The BOE is accepting public comments on the plan by October 30, and it will hold a public hearing on Friday, October 18, at 10:00 a.m., at the Office of Zoning Hearing Room, second floor south, at One Judiciary Square.


Two-Wheeled Entitlement
Alma Gates,

DDOT is very quick to inform anytime the needle moves on the number of DC residents using bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. Their numbers are supposedly pushing five percent, which means 95 percent of DC residents are using other modes of transportation, or not driving at all. In the past week, I’ve encountered bicycle riders who think they should occupy the middle of the drive lane and are exempt from any traffic regulations. Red lights do not mean STOP. Cross walks do not mean YIELD to pedestrians. I’ve also been downtown after dark and encountered bicyclists all over Pennsylvania Avenue without lights or helmets, not in the dedicated bike lanes or obeying traffic signals.

I appreciate that many ride bicycles, but I don’t appreciate bicycles acting like pace cars for all traffic along streets where there is a single drive lane. If a car does not keep up with the speed limit, it is subject to a ticket for impeding traffic; if a car breezes through a red light or fails to yield to a pedestrian, the driver can expect a hefty fine. Moreover, license, registration and proof of insurance are necessary documents at all times for vehicle operators. The public can’t count on the police to enforce regulations regarding bad biking habits because there are few regulations or requirements to enforce. Some riders are very responsible and courteous but the majority are not. Most behave like the iconic figure in Andrew Wyeth’s, "Young America," and ride with complete abandon on busy public streets.

When will DDOT stop giving bicyclists a pass on regulations? If the agency is serious about expanding its bicycle program, the time has come for DDOT to consider licensing regulations, insurance, and registration for bicycles. Make riders accountable because it’s clear they have created their own rules of the road. The failure of DDOT to impose regulations is reinforcing bad behavior that has resulted in a prickly interface among bicycles, cars, and pedestrians; and, an assumption that this entitled group need not respect traffic regulations or extend courtesy to others with whom they share the city’s public streets.


Office of Planning: “We’re Not Proposing Building on Parks”
Kirby Vining,

At the September 25 National Capitol Planning Commission hearing on the Height Act, DC Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning said in her remarks, "We’re not proposing building on parks." In fact the city is planning to erect thirteen-story office buildings, among other structures, on historic McMillan Park, an historically integrated park, listed on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites (1991) and on the National Register of Historic Places (2013). That doesn’t count as "building on parks"?

While the above is entirely factual, the following, entirely fabricated, further quotes from the OP Director, are fiction. We hope.

Director Tregoning continued, "Well so what if we are building on parks? What are they good for, anyway? No way to rent such space out, and the folks who use them are at negligible points on the income curve. Who needs them? In fact, it has been brought to my attention that when Senator James McMillan first arrived in Washington to serve as one of Michigan’s senators in about 1889, what he saw looking out from the Capitol down toward the White House was an open sewer where Constitution Avenue is now, called Tiber Creek in that time. East of the sewer was a line of brothels, so-called Hooker’s Row, set up to serve the Union troops during the Civil War and never dismantled. West of the sewer was a line of slaughterhouses — how convenient to have a place to throw the offal from animal carcasses into the sewer/creek. And right smack in the middle of what is our mall were two railroad stations. McMillan, who is memorialized for cleaning all this up by the park and fountain which bear his name (the only monument in the world to his work to extend the L’Enfant plan), made the mall and the heart of Washington what we see now, especially in the core area. But, I ask you, what is wrong with railroad stations, and open sewers, and brothels, and extra train stations? These are all moneymaking enterprises, and none of that land pays a dime in taxes. So let me take back that remark about not proposing to build on parks. Perhaps we should. Can’t have enough cash, and our grandchildren will never know about the parks we deprive them of now."



The Loaves and Fishes Un-gala Gala, November 22
Jason Lee Bakke,

Each year, Loaves and Fishes serves more than 30,000 hot, nutritious meals at noon on Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays from our kitchen at 16th and Newton Streets, NW, in Columbia Heights.

We are overwhelmingly a volunteer-run organization, and in keeping with this spirit, we invite you to join us for our third-Sunday-of-the-month meal for a fourth-Friday-of-the-month dinner — oven-baked chicken and greens with our much-loved chicken gizzards, prepared by a team of long-serving volunteers.

Learn how we feed the city’s hungry, an activity we have been carrying out for more than forty years. Hear from our guests and volunteers about what Loaves and Fishes means to them. Break bread, while nourishing others. A reception begins at six, with dinner at seven. Registration:


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