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November 6, 2013

If You Like themail, You Can Keep themail, Period

Dear themailers:

Here’s the explanation for the latest gap in sending you issues of themail. Upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 turned my computer into a brick, and it took the last two weeks of October, several telephone calls, a total of nine or ten hours on the telephone with Microsoft technical support, and the efforts of three level 2 techs to get it working again. But it is working now (knock wood), as you can plainly see by the results in your inbox. Take advantage of the renewed opportunity, and write what you will about your life in Washington.

Gary Imhoff


The McMillan Development Bride Is Dead, But the Wedding Is Still On
Kirby Vining,

Press reports in circulation following the controversial Halloween HPRB hearing on the proposed development of McMillan Park are skewed in favor of the spin which Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), the Mayor’s chosen design team) has put on the HPRB decision. After hearing the VMP presentation, followed by about thirty pieces of public testimony, all but a couple vociferously denouncing the proposed destruction of McMillan Park, the HPRB voted, unanimously, to approve the HPO Staff Report without comment or change. While VMP is spreading the word that the HPRB approved their plan, it is not noting that the recommendations of the HPO, approved by the HPRB, contain this pesky detail (recommendation one from the HPO Staff Report): "Find that the proposal will result in substantial demolition, as defined in the preservation regulations, and therefore inconsistent with the purposes of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act. . . ."

What this means is that the HPRB rejected the VMP plans as too destructive of this Historic Landmark — which is what the HPRB does: enforce the Historic Preservation Act. As the HPRB rejected the VMP plan, VMP can and probably will appeal to the Mayor’s Agent, who will listen to any "special merit" the project has which VMP and DMPED will argue should force the Mayor’s Agent to overrule the HPRB condemnation of the project. The Mayor’s Agent grudgingly allowed "special merit" to the DC Water project to destroy two of the McMillan sand filtration cells because of the help this work would be in preventing the catastrophic flooding of Bloomingdale homes, but he made one condition: DC Water is to return those two cells to the exact external form they have right now. How will he react to this request to demolish the surface and the rest of the cells?

At the same time that the Mayor’s Agent will be evaluating this "guilty as charged" sentence for destruction of a historic landmark, the case will be presented to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a presidential board established to enforce the Preservation Act regarding federal properties. This is relevant in the McMillan case because the 1987 deed transferring the property from the Army Corps of Engineers to the District contains a historic preservation covenant binding the District to do just this, in the event that the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO, HPRB in our case) and any proposed developer fail to reach agreement on the preservation side of things. That has happened.

So while VMP suggests that the wedding is still on, the bride is about to undergo an autopsy by two renowned pathologists. Should be a lovely Reception.


DCPS Chancellor’s State of the Schools Address
Candi Peterson,

[Statement by Elizabeth Davis, president, Washington Teachers Union] There’s nothing in this study that shows any evidence that DC public school students are doing better because of the IMPACT evaluation system. The goal of IMPACT was to improve student achievement. But, in fact, student achievement has been flat except for the year of the alleged test score scandal. Our teachers need a comprehensive teacher development and evaluation system that helps teachers improve their instruction and boost student achievement.

If we are to improve student learning outcomes in DC, our teachers need our support and coaching. The IMPACT evaluation system has failed to provide teachers this support. It has only served to sort teachers and schools. Teachers and principals have realized that IMPACT needs a lot of work. The Washington Teachers Union welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively with DCPS and Chancellor Henderson in getting reform and our teacher evaluation system right.


United Medical Center’s Future
Carole Jacobs,

In arguing in favor of UMC’s expanded operations, Mr. Jordan wrote [themail, October 16] that the feasibility of making UMC financially viable has been examined too narrowly. He wrote that, "[t]he District has not factored savings and revenues that can be generated by a comprehensive preventive care plan that actually reduces hospital usage by improving the general health status indicators of east of the river neighborhoods. The lion’s share of these savings would come from bolder approaches to the management and prevalence reduction of chronic illnesses, treatment of which represents approximately 70 percent of the public health budget in the District."

This point is at least as critical as any other in evaluating the future of UMC. That said, do we have information demonstrating the effectiveness of preventive care plans operating from a hospital setting versus community-based primary care clinics? Do we have information on the per capita cost of delivering preventive car services in a hospital setting versus a community-based primary care clinic? My concern here is that enchantment with the idea of a major hospital east of the Anacostia and the goal of "increasing market share" may be clouding decision makers’ judgment on how best to effect positive health outcomes for DC residents who live east of the river.

We need more hard information, plus some projections about how implementation of Obamacare will affect how and where DC citizens seek medical care.


Realigning Voting Sites with Precincts
Elizabeth McIntire,

[An open letter to the Board of Elections] Whoever had this idea must be new to the city, and possibly not even live here. Had they heard of the Census, which takes place every ten years?

The Single Member Districts are made up of Census blocks that are discrete entities, and the SMD’s are routinely shaved and rearranged here and there when redistricting occurs, in order to maintain an approximate population of 2,000 residents per SMD to provide equal representation ("under law") .

Unless whoever thought this up also thinks that we have reached stasis on change, they have also not taken note of all the cranes around the city building new housing. This is a worthless undertaking that will have to be repeated, if its sole purpose is to reduce multiple precincts for a SMD. The dearth of responsible civic minded ANC candidates will not be changed by this proposal, and it is a waste of time. Or maybe it is a Republican plot?



Ward 5 School Fair, November 16
Faith Gibson Hubbard, Ward Five Council on Education,

The Ward Five Council on Education is hosting The Ward 5 School Fair on Saturday, November 16, from 10:00 a.m. until noon at Dunbar Senior High School. For more information, log on to To RSVP, go to

This effort is to highlight all of our Ward 5 schools, both DCPS and charters. It will be the first of its kind and we know that it will be of great benefit to the community. This event is not just for parents to have the opportunity to explore the education options for their children but also for community members to come and find out more about the education options in their neighborhood. We hope that this event will allow community members to find ways to connect with and support the schools in their communities (i.e., through volunteering or creating ways to develop relationships between the school and the community). We are all education stakeholders and there are may ways we can connect to the multitude of education options that we have in our community.

For any questions, please feel free to reach out to us via E-mail at or by phone at 505-4309. For more information about the Ward Five Council on Education, please visit our web site at


Walton Francis to Speak to Chevy Chase NARFE Chapter, November 21
A. Loikow,

Economist Walton Francis will discuss and advise Federal employees and retirees on their choices of their health insurance plan (FEHBP) during the current open season. Mr. Francis is the eminent authority on the health insurance in the Federal sector, having written Checkbook’s annual analysis for several decades. The Chevy Chase Chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), President Randolph Clarke, will sponsor this meeting for the public. This is a free meeting.

Thursday, November 21, 6:00 p.m., IONA Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle Street, NW.


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