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January 8, 2014

Questions and Answers

Dear Questioners:

Bruce Johnson’s interview with Mayor Vince Gray,, is must viewing as the mayoral campaign picks up speed. Mayor Gray will have to face the same questions repeatedly, from much more hostile interviewers, during the campaign. What did he know about his own campaign in 2010, and when did he know it? His answers will have to be more forthcoming, and he will have to face questioners who will not accept evasions.

The councilmembers who entered the mayor’s race did so, by and large, on the assumption that the mayor would not run for reelection, and that they would be running to fill an empty seat. With the mayor in the race, his opponents will have to run quite different campaigns, and will have to hit Gray hard, and demand better answers.


One of the most cutting commentaries that I’ve read on Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was posted by Clayton Cramer on December 30,

It is certainly a novel (in the sense of fictional) explanation, from DC's delegate to Congress. From December 30, 2013, Mediaite: “The goal as has been said, it’s seven million people signed up by the end of March,” Lui observed. “Can that happena

“Oh, sure,” Norton replied. “When that fine is going to kick in, you’re going to see people trotting to sign on like you’ve never seen it before.

“What we have been battling now is, first, every time the House couldn’t think of anything else to do, it had a big debate on repealing Obamacare,” Norton continued. “So, there are millions of people out there who think it was repealed.”

I have been pretty harsh on low information voters — but now a Democrat is essentially saying, ‘Our constituents are so stupid and ill-informed that they mistook Republican criticism of Obamacare as being a repeal.’ The only good news for Norton is that none of her constituents are well enough informed to realize how stupid she thinks they are. Welcome to Idiocracy.


Paul Basken and Clyde Howard debate each other on the responsibility of bicyclists and automobile drivers below. I do encourage you to follow the link to Howard’s original posting in themail to decide for yourself whether Basken characterizes Howard’s attitude fairly and accurately. But I do have to question Paul’s conclusion that car drivers are at fault in every accident between cars and bicycles, and that bicyclists don’t have the same responsibility as drivers to follow traffic laws and use the roads carefully, because bicycles weigh less than cars.

Gary Imhoff


Countdown to the April Primary Election
Dorothy Brizill,

Early vote centers. Since 2010, the DC Board of Elections (BOE) has adapted several new procedures that seek to help voters cast their ballots. These new procedures include streamlining the process for requesting a mail-in absentee ballot and opening early voting centers in each of the eight wards around the District so that voters would not have to wait until election day to cast their votes. At the BOE’s January 8 meeting, the Board approved plans for the early voting sites for the April 2014 primary election. With virtually no discussion or justification, and no explanation regarding the budgeting and management implications, the BOE voted to approve the recommendation of its Executive Director, Clifford Tatum, that thirteen early voting sites be opened in the District prior to election day, April 1, 2014. According to the BOE, “The Board plans to operate the early voting site at ‘One Judiciary Square’ located at 441 4th street, NW, from Monday, March 17, through Saturday, March 29, 2014. All sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and will be closed Sundays.” The thirteen sites chosen as early voting sites are: Ward 1, Columbia Heights Community Center; Ward 2, One Judiciary Square; Ward 3, Chevy Chase Community Center and Stoddert Recreation Center; Ward 4, Takoma Community Center and Emery Recreation Center; Ward 5, Turkey Thicket Recreation Center; Ward 6, King Greenleaf Recreation Center, Sherwood Recreation Center, and Kennedy Recreation Center; Ward 7, Dorothy I. Height/Benning Library and Hillcrest Recreation Center; and Ward 8, Bald eagle Recreation Center.

While it is commendable that the BOE takes reasonable steps to ensure that every voter can case his or her ballot, the decision to open thirteen early voting centers raises concerns. There will likely be a low turnout for the April primary. (At the April 3, 2012, primary, a total of 64,361 votes were case by 16.98 percent of all registered DC voters.) The BOE’s decision to open thirteen sites, five more than just one in each ward, raises the question of how much the sites will cost in money and manpower, given that between twelve to twenty poll workers will be needed to man each voting site. Moreover, why does Ward 6 have three early voting sites, and Wards 3, 4, and 7 get two early voting sites (one in Ward 7 around the corner from Mayor Gray’s home). Meanwhile, the two wards with the densest population, Wards 1 and 2, and the largest ward geographically, Ward 7, will still have one voting site each. Moreover, since a voter can case a ballot at any early voting site in the District, not just at a site in his or her own ward, it would seem reasonable that the BOE should have simply adhered to the requirement set forth in the District’s Municipal Regulations (Volume 3, Elections and Ethics, Section 703.3), which states that “early voting centers shall be equitable distributed geographically throughout the District.”


Two Wheels Versus Four Wheels Debate
Paul Basken,

[To Clyde Howard] Aren't you the same guy who suggested on this blog not too long ago (themail, October 9, 2013) that it would be appropriate for car drivers to intentionally kill bicyclists whose behavior the car driver deems inappropriate?

And now you're back [themail, December 29, 2013] asking why the police chief dedicates so much attention to protecting the citizenry from people like you?

DC's network of traffic cameras does seem excessive, and pretty clearly oriented more toward revenue than safety, but knowing there are people like you out there is a good reminder of why videotaping our roads might actually have some overriding value to humanity. How much more dangerous — to others — is unmitigated anger like yours when it sits behind the wheel of a car than when it is found on the seat of a bike? Fortunately most people, including the police chief, appear to recognize the answer to that question.


Clyde E. Howard, Jr.,

First of all, you have misquoted what I have said and I do not intend to repeat it for you. Lanier is only doing what newcomers like you want, yet some of you have no idea of what it takes to obey the traffic rules of law in this city. Allow me to suggest that if you are one of those cyclists, please obey the traffic laws, as they apply to you as well. For your information, I rode bicycles in this city before you were born, and we always obeyed the traffic laws as they applied to us.


Paul Basken,

Dear Clyde, there's no need to repeat it for me — it remains available at, and anyone who chooses to review your angry hateful words can read them there. I admire your military service and longevity but neither gives you any justification whatsoever to suggest treating bicyclists as enemy combatants. That kind of violent antagonistic relationship is in your mind, and I've seen enough drivers deranged enough to act upon such thoughts that I take seriously anyone going around glibly giving public voice to them.

Yes, laws are meant to be obeyed, but you were addressing the police chief, and there are simply more laws and more violations of them than her department can be reasonably expected to address. That means she and her department must set priorities, and in this case she appears to be making a wise decision that laws violated by car drivers can cause far greater death and destruction than laws violated by others out there on the roads. The data on that fact is simply irrefutable, even for someone such as yourself who appears to be letting blind rage outweigh rational common sense.

Just look at the table at, and think about it for a moment. It shows annual traffic deaths in this country in the range of about thirty thousand or more, with drivers usually representing a bit more than half of them. That means that, along with themselves, car drivers are killing well more than ten thousand other people each year in this country. Now look for the statistics on how many people are killed each year by bicyclists. Are there any such cases? I'm sure it happens, on occasion, but it is an event so exceedingly rare that it doesn't even warrant a statistic.

The data makes clear that it's sheer lunacy for you to say the things you say in your blog postings. Why should the chief of police of DC, or any law enforcement official anywhere, waste any significant portion of scarce public dollars on trying to "catch the crazy cyclists that totally disregard traffic rules or laws," when in fact it's the car drivers disregarding traffic rules or laws or even common courtesies who by far are the ones causing the mayhem out there? There's simply no statistical evidence whatsoever to back up your position. On the contrary, your untempered anger makes clear that you, when behind the wheel, should regarded by the police in DC and other jurisdictions in this country as exactly the type of person they should be monitoring as closely as humanly possible.

I sincerely wish that in the new year, you might somehow find a moment for calm reflection and contemplation about the anger and danger you are spreading in this world. We badly need less of it.


Clyde Howard, Jr.,

You have an elitist view on what this city should have to satisfy your position. It is the view of a fool. Perhaps you may find glory in the city as portrayed in the movie Things to Come.


Paul Basken,

Sir, I responded to you with facts and data — do you have any of your own, or have you reached the point in your life where you are good for nothing more than uninformed rants, name calling and incitements to murder?

You also appear badly confused about the moral of the movie you reference, which decidedly was not a paean to your belief in placing more value on modern mechanical devices than on humanity).


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