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July 9, 2014

Trotsky’s Farsightedness

Dear Washingtonians:

In the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, economist Daniel Drezner writes about “The Uses of Being Wrong,” His point is that academicians shouldn’t fear being wrong or admitting that they were wrong. “Anyone who has a passing familiarity with the social sciences is aware that, by and large, we do not get an awful lot of things right.”

“I’ve read a fair amount of international-relations theory over the years,” Drezner writes, “from predictions about missing the great-power peace of the Cold War to the end of history to the rise of a European superpower to the causes of suicide terrorism. Most of these sweeping hypotheses have either failed to come true or failed to hold up over time. This has not prevented their progenitors from continuing to advocate them. Some of them echo the biographer who, without a trace of irony, proclaimed that ‘proof of Trotsky’s farsightedness is that none of his predictions have come true yet.’”

Here’s your chance to compete with Trotsky’s farsightedness. Predict the outcome of November’s general election in DC. Who wins which seats? Can Bowser win the mayoralty race by continuing to duck all debates and refusing to take positions on any issues? Can the press continue to ignore the fact that Schwartz is in the mayor’s race? Will the marijuana legalization petitions have enough legitimate signatures to qualify for the ballot? Will the number of voters who turn out in November be enough to fill a high school stadium?

Gary Imhoff


Public Service Commission Update
Dorothy Brizill,

On Tuesday, July 8, Kenyon McDuffie’s Committee on Government Operations, with limited notice, held a markup and approved Betty Ann Kane’s nomination to a new five-year term on the Public Service Commission (PSC). Although he had indicated to the members of the committee that he would delay any consideration of Kane’s nomination until the fall, when the council returned from the summer recess, on late Monday afternoon McDuffie informed them that he would hold a mark-up of PR20-812. During the mark-up and the debate and discussion on Kane’s nomination, Councilmember Mary Cheh offered a motion to postpone committee consideration until October 15. Cheh argued that Kane’s June 5 confirmation hearing was held without adequate public notice, and noted that as a result, despite the role and significance of the PSC, there had been no public witnesses or written testimony submitted. Although Muriel Bowser joined Cheh in raising concerns regarding how the committee had handled the nomination of Kane and Willie Phillips, she nevertheless refused to vote in support of Cheh’s motion.

In the end, three councilmembers — McDuffie, Catania, and Orange — voted to support Kane’s nomination. Cheh voted against, and Bowser voted present. Continuing his effort to fast-track the Kane and Phillips appointments to the PSC, McDuffie plans to put the nominations on the agenda of the council’s July 14 legislative meeting.


Deconstruction vs. Demolition — Second Chance, Inc.
Mary Rowse,

In June, I paid a visit to Second Chance, Inc. ( in Baltimore, MD — an enormous warehouse filled with donated and salvaged building materials. It’s like Community Forklift ( only in two hundred thousand square feet of retail space. This is a new location; they’ve only been here a few years. I last visited eight years ago. “Second Chance, Inc., creates ‘green collar jobs’ by taking apart buildings that would otherwise be demolished and dumped in a landfill. We then offer the reclaimed materials to the public at a discount, helping fund our job training and workforce development programs,”

I took a lot of photos showing the variety of items that can be purchased here, although I missed several areas. This was just one day. Items are changing all the time. Click on the link to see the photos. It’s a big file, at 15 MB:

When developer Robert Holman demolished 3823 Morrison Street, NW, in Chevy Chase, DC, on June 17, 2014 (, against the wishes of over two hundred neighbors (, he threw away a great deal, not the least of which were the reusable contents of a one-hundred-year-old Arts & Crafts home filled with highly sought after materials. The house could have been deconstructed down to its foundation and the materials reused. Think organ donation, about five thousand times or more.

Deconstruction “generates jobs because it takes more time and skill. There’s a five-to-one ratio of workers in deconstruction verses demolition.” More benefits of deconstruction vs. demolition can be seen here: “Deconstruction enables thousands of tons of material to be diverted from our landfills and reintroduced to enhance spaces where we live, work and play. Deconstruction is one of the few triple-bottom-line industries: it is socially responsible, financially sustainable, and environmentally friendly. . . .“ Second Chance has made a huge contribution to the effort to redirect landfill debris by saving nearly 5.8 million pounds of reusable materials. When will DC make it mandatory to deconstruct rather than demolish?


The Responsibilities of the Washington Post
Jason Lee Bakke,

[Re: Ms. Brizill’s “Ruben Castaneda and the Washington Post,” July 2]: I submit that DC residents are not owed an apology from the Washington Post, any more so than if a reporter came to work sick from chemo and maybe not in her best mind. Those in so-called active addiction are not “sordid”; they are people suffering from a chronic, progressive, terminal disease. I’ve seen plenty of co-workers come to the office with “bloodshot” eyes and “disheveled’ clothes. This coworker knew they were just new parents.


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