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April 6, 2014

Under Vote

Dear Abstainers:

In the week since the April Fool’s primary, commentators have been making all sorts of excuses for the low turnout of voters — the early date of the vote, the bad weather of the winter months during the campaign season, and so on. What almost nobody has said is that nonvoters made a choice to abstain from voting, that they didn’t much like the options that were presented to them and made a conscious decision to stay away from the polls.

To get people out to the polls, some candidate or candidates have to excite voters, either positively or negatively. People have to think their votes will make a difference, that they will be able to vote in a candidate that will give them hope for a better government or to vote out a candidate that they actively dislike. In this primary, at the head of the Democratic ticket, voters were presented with several candidates that they didn’t think stood a chance and with two candidates that didn’t move them either way. They had to choose between an incumbent mayor who had told them for the past three years that on the advice of his lawyer he couldn’t speak openly and honestly with them and a leading challenger who promised a restoration of the Fenty administration that they had enthusiastically rejected three years before. As between Gray and Bowser, it made good sense for voters to keep their distance from the polls. No excuses were necessary.

Gary Imhoff


Election Reform
Dorothy Brizill,

Last week, the District had the lowest voter turnout for a primary election in thirty years. Only 22.5 percent of all registered voters went to the pools, with only 11.47 percent in Ward 8 and 16.48 percent in Ward 7. Yet, despite the low number of votes cast, the DC Board of Elections again proved unable to conduct the election and tabulate the votes properly. I visited all the early voting sites between March 17 and March 29, and nearly twenty polling precincts on April 1, and I witnessed serious problems that raised concerns about the BOE’s ability to conduct elections. For example, electronic voting machines and poll books didn’t work, precinct captains were left to fend for themselves and repair equipment, several poll workers were poorly trained, supplies at polling precincts were inadequate, etc. On election night, as has already been reported (, the BOE was unable to tabulate the turns in a timely and accurate manner.

On April 29 at 1:00 p.m., Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, the chairman of the council’s Government Operations Committee, will conduct a hearing regarding the BOE’s conduct of the April 1 primary and the problems that arose. Prior to the hearing it would be helpful if voters and poll workers sent me E-mails detailing the issues and/or problems they encountered when they voted, whether at an early voting center or a voting precinct on election day. I hope to hear from concerned citizens and research the problems that arose, and to make recommendations for fixes to be made prior to the general election on November 4. Please send your comments to me directly at or at 202-234-6982.


Testimony to City Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment
Daniel Goldon Wolkoff,

I was very encouraged to hear the council’s Environment Committee Roundtable on March 24, especially concerning combining food, nutrition, physical activity, and urban farming. It’s not a lost cause; just the opposite, it’s an incredible opportunity for large scale sustainable adaptive reuse to benefit the environment, all the people of DC, the nation, and international visitors for generations. I was encouraged by Councilmember Cheh’s compliment last year, and offered additional testimony to the March 24 hearing. I’m connecting the rapidly growing movement to save a “Great Place” with Ms. Cheh’s hearing on “indoor agriculture, a DC food hub.” We need an urban nutrition and exercise hub, which would be a DC Eco-Campus, very much. We have the place — McMillan Park. By preserving all twenty-five acres of historically protected surface park and twenty acres of existing mystical underground galleries we could create the exciting potential for sustainable large scale “indoor agriculture” and aqua-ponic fish production, and get unlimited other potential benefits.

Enlightened urban planning, would start the process with McMillan Park, and keep going to include the entire 113 acre McMillan Reservoir, save the Harewood Road wetlands, and reopen the parkland at Armed Forces Retirement Home for wooded hiking, biking, and jogging paths, the “green emerald necklace” of Senator McMillan’s vision. We’ll create community gardens and a food, nutrition, and healthy exercise complex with jogging around the reservoir, like in New York’s Central Park, where residents and visitors can come and enjoy the outdoors, the sunsets, and stroll and meet at our “Sustainable Eco-Campus.” DC needs a “Great Place” for music and film festivals, art studios, yoga classes, a “ DC Glen Echo,” with sustainable energy demonstrations, even an urban sand beach when we “sunlight” Tiber Creek. Please see this fascinating video on the vertical farming process at


Affordable Care Act
Bryce Suderow,

How is enrollment for the Affordable Care Act coming along in Washington, DC?



How to Get a Job in the Obama Administration, April 16
Susana Baranano,

Have you ever wondered how some people get Presidential appointments and others don’t? What events you should attend, people you should meet and activities you should volunteer for to expand your network and better your chances? Meet a panel of appointees from across the administration for advice and best practices on how to position yourself as the best candidate for a job you are interested in. Join us for a panel discussion with Mekell Mikell, senior administration employee; Niara Phillips, Small Business Liaison, US Department of Commerce; and others to be announced. Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Wednesday, April 16, 6:00-8:00 p.m. Members, $15; nonmembers, $20, including one complimentary drink.


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