Thursday, August 31, 2006

End of August comment from Loose Lips

Paul Strauss: Jump on the one-on-one debate bandwagon. The Ward 3 council candidate wasn’t even mentioned by the Washington Post editorial that endorsed his rival Mary Cheh for the seat. So Strauss took a page out of the Cropp playbook. Immediately following the endorsement, he sent out an e-mail proposing individual debates with four candidates who did make the Post A-list: Cheh, Bill Rice, Robert Gordon, and Erik Gaull. To be fair, Gaull has also proposed a one-on-one debate with Cheh.

Mary Cheh: A Wanted Woman - notes from the Washington Post

Declining to Debate Mano a Mano

Mary Cheh is a wanted woman.

It seems lots of folks want to debate her one-on-one. Or two-on-one. Or in some other combination.

That's because Cheh is ahead in a nine-way race for the Democratic nomination for the Ward 3 council seat. With less than two weeks to go until the Sept. 12 primary, Cheh has the support of council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3), who is stepping down to run for chairman, and the endorsements of The Washington Post and the Northwest Current.

Among her prospective debating partners are Erik S. Gaull , who challenged her to go mano a mano on issues of public safety. Gaull is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, District EMT and paramedic unions and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia.

Then there's D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss , who is leaving federal office to run for the council seat. He challenged every candidate, including Cheh, to a one-on-one debate.

Bill Rice , another Ward 3 candidate, wrote to Cheh and suggested that she take Strauss up on his offer and face Rice as well, making it a three-way debate.

Cheh's response to all this attention? She is declining all invitations.

To Rice, she sent this e-mail: "We can have as many debates as you would like but let's respect the fact that there are, to my count, eight viable candidates in the race all of whom have views on the matters we would be discussing. Out of fairness to ward 3 voters and the other candidates -- with whom I disagree on issues but respect for the effort I know they have put into this campaign -- we should have fully open and fully inclusive debates."

Eight viable candidates? Wonder whom Cheh is leaving off the list?

A Craigslist Campaign Come-on
Ward 3 candidate and Advisory Neighborhood Commission member Robert Gordon has stayed out of the debate about debates. But Gordon is still reaching out through the magic of Craigslist.

Yes, Craigslist, the Internet marketplace that more typically features ads about apartments, nannies and lonely single guys.

Gordon's ad reads: "DC Democratic Campaign Work -- 2 Weeks/$10hr."

"We are hiring smart, hard-working people to help with the final stages of a DC political campaign. No experience necessary. Work will include phone calls, meeting Ward 3 constituents, and generally backing the candidate. We need you to begin work on this Wednesday, August 30th to Tuesday, September 12th . . . election day."

No word yet on the response from potential applicants.

By Nikita Stewart and Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tom Sherwood on the Cleveleland Park Poll

Ward 3 Poll Scam?

When the members of the Cleveland Park listserv were asked to take part in an informal poll of mayoral candidates, things were pretty normal at first.
But then suddenly two things happened, almost simultaneously, according to the listserv managers. A bunch of new people started signing up and started casting their votes for candidate Paul Strauss, who took over the lead. However, the new listserv members were in many cases nonsensical addresses. That is, someone or some people were making them up and then casting votes for Strauss.
Strauss, who's already gotten some conflict-of-interest grief over continuing to chair a panel that rules on property tax breaks while he's running for the council, said his campaign had nothing to do with the manipulation even though he initially benefited from it.
Listserv manager Bill Adler says he's not pointing any fingers, but he started the poll over. And he warned everyone that any new attempt to distort the poll would result in the "outing" of those identified with the phony addresses.
That's the trouble when someone tries to manipulate online lists -- there's too much of a footprint.

Inclusionary Zoning Comment forums set for Fall

Inclusionary Zoning Discussions

September 13th & 14th and 19th, 2006

To All ANC Commissioners,

The DC Zoning Commission has scheduled public hearings on where Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) will apply in the District for October 5th and 19th. The IZ regulations will require development projects of 10 residential units or more to provide 8%-10% of the units for households earning below 50% and 80% of the Area Median Income ($31,000 to $72,000 depending on family size). The development may be up to 20% larger and receive some zoning flexibility.

The Office of Planning is holding information sessions to review the changes to the IZ program, present OP's draft recommendations on where to apply IZ and to received feed back from ANC members.

Three dates have been chosen for meetings to be held from 6:30pm to 9:00pm in the evening:

September 13: DCPS Oyster School, 2801 Calvert Street, NW
September 14: Pryzbyla University Center, Catholic University
September 19: Marshal Heights CDC Board Room, 2929 Bennint Rd. NE

If you have questions or need directions please contact OP at (202)442-7600.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Scandal hits the Cleveland Park Listserv

On August 23, the Cleveland Park Listserv announced a fun poll to mirror the Ward 3 City Council election on September 12th.

Listserv members can cast their vote in this unscientific survey of candidates for Ward 3 City Council. This poll will remain open until Primary Day, and after the election we'll see how closely it tracks with the actual results. You can view the poll's current tally at any time between now and election day by visiting

On Friday the 25th however, there was another announcement, "We have reset the Ward 3 candidates poll and started it anew. Why? Well, we discovered yesterday that one of the candidates for Ward 3 City Council was manipulating the poll by having real people and fictitious email addresses join the listserv and cast votes in favor of that candidate. While this poll is more of a survey and was never intended to be scientific, the list moderators don't take kindly to this kind of manipulation. Among other things, cheating ruins the fun for everyone else". Later in the day, there was another announcement,

The moderators have received a number of emails asking "Who did it?" If we know, then it's not right to keep this information from everyone. But the problem is that for us to say publicly who was involved would also require that we present proof positive that the candidate or campaign knew. In other words, there's a leap between knowing that poll was manipulated and proving who was behind it. The fairest thing to do was to start over.

However, we know that there's media interest in this story, and it's very possible that somebody else will be able to do some investigative reporting. So, as they say, "stay tuned."

This morning, The Washington Post reported the story and inferred that Senator Paul Strauss campaign was behind the attempted manipulation.

I have reported earlier on Senator Straus and his deceptive "Parents of DCPS" letter, and we reported on the research findings on the campign monies raised to day (well over 40% of the money Strauss reported was in fact loans and in-kind contributions by the Senator to the campaign). A shadowy pattern for the Senator?

The deceptive practices have no place in politics, particularly in a micro campaign like the DC City Council.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

DC Examiner Coverage of the Ward 3 race

Michael Neibauer, The Examiner
Aug 24, 2006 5:00 AM (6 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 150 of 6,220 articles

WASHINGTON - Among the District’s eight wards, Ward 3 is the steady ship.

During the last dozen years, as the city navigated the Control Board, gentrification, high unemployment and waves of violence, Ward 3 remained predictable and sound, with high household income, quality schools, low crime and a well-educated citizenry.

The occasional appalling murder is a reminder that the area west of Rock Creek Park is not protected by a force field. Ward 3 is also not immune to the periodic failings of emergency medical services or an ineffective education system. But for the most part, residents say, life is good.

“They care about issues that extend beyond Ward 3 boundaries,” Sam Brooks said of the voters. “I’ve been struck by that, by the questions I get about poverty and affordable housing, problems which don’t affect that many people in Ward 3.”

At 26, Brooks is the youngest of nine Democrats vying for the Ward 3 D.C. Council seat.

For the first time since 1994, the ward’s council seat is in play, as three-term Council Member Kathy Patterson vies for the council chairmanship. The next representative will not only be asked to tackle common Ward 3 issues — maintaining streets and parks, taxes and development — but also the citywide matters that impact everyone.

“We cannot isolate Ward 3 from the rest of the city,” said candidate Robert Gordon, an expert in international development and a longtime Chevy Chase advisory neighborhood commissioner. “The problems of the rest of the city intrude on Ward 3. I believe we’re morally obligated to provide good services to everybody.”

Most candidates say education is No. 1 on the minds of voters prior to the Sept. 12 primary.

“We’d be stupid and unwise to lose track of the fact that public safety is a vital issue,” said Erik Gaull, former director of Operational Improvements under Mayor Anthony Williams. “They’re basically tied. We’ve become myopically focused on the education crisis.”

Council aspirants have offered wide-ranging promises when it comes to the schools.

Paul Strauss, the city’s Shadow Senator, vows no school closings in Ward 3 and more council oversight of school spending. Bill Rice, the former spokesman for the Department of Transportation, also pledges no school closures, and claims in his literature to be the only candidate who can “make sure our schools get fixed the right way.”

Gordon would form a corporation to oversee school modernization and ramp up vocational opportunities. Brooks wants to create a BRAC-style school closing commission.

Eric Goulet, the former clerk to the council’s finance committee, said it appears his opponents are “running for the school board.”

“I think my message that we need to spend our money more responsibly is really catching on,” said Goulet, who won the endorsement of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Political observers say the ultimate Ward 3 winner likely will have two things going for him or her as he or she nears election day — endorsements and a strong get-out-the-vote machine.

Gaull has won the support of the Fraternal Order of Police and D.C. Paramedics Union. Mary Cheh, a George Washington University law professor and former special counsel to the D.C. Council’s judiciary committee, picked up the support of firefighters and the Washington Post.

“They want a strong representative, a strong voice on the council who has stature and they’re proud of,” Cheh said of the voters.

Rounding out the candidates are Cathy Wiss, a Tenleytown advisory neighborhood commissioner and president of the Tenleytown Neighbors Association, and Jonathan Rees, known for his aggressive online campaign tactics.

From Loose Lips on Strauss and Goulet

Some candidates in the crowded Ward 3 contest might be concerned about a little-known candidate getting an unexpected boost from top D.C. business groups. But Eric Goulet’s endorsement by the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Washington Board of Trade isn’t creating much fear. He wasn’t even mentioned in the Post editorial backing law professor Mary Cheh.

Besides, everyone in the race figures Goulet’s old boss, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, had the business-group endorsement wired anyway.

But Goulet received much bigger recognition this week than the business groups could have delivered: One of the presumed leaders in the race—Paul Strauss—tried to take Goulet down a notch. “He’s a good committee clerk,” Strauss quipped about the former Committee on Finance and Revenue staffer. “If I win, I would love to hire Eric if Jack doesn’t take him back.”

Goulet is amused by the Strauss dig. “I don’t know if Paul would make my staff,” he says. “I’d have to think about it.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cleveland Park Bank Robbery

On August 22nd at approximately 3:15 p.m. the Chevy Chase Bank located at 3519 Connecticut Avenue was robbed and an undetermined amount of money was stolen. The suspect is described as a black male between 50-55 years old, approximately 5'11" 165lbs. with black hair, medium complexion and a salt and pepper mustache. He was last seen wearing a tan colored hat with the word "Movers" written on it and a tan colored button down shirt. He was last seen walking westbound on Ordway Street from the bank. No weapon was displayed or mentioned. This case is currently be investigated by the MPD/FBI Robbery Task Force. If anyone recalls seeing someone fitting this description yesterday in the area of the 3500 block of Connecticut Avenue or if anyone has any information that may be related to this incident, please contact me by email or telephone. or 282-0038. Thanks.

Kelvin M. Cusick
Second District

Goulet takes top rating in GLAA Poll

Ward 3 Candidate Eric Goulet was rated highest in the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC 2006 Candidate ratings. Goulet is the only non-councilmember to receive the full 3 possible record points or have a rating above 8. His +8.5 rating is unusually good for a non-incumbent.

Mary Cheh earned +7.5. She supports all of our issues. She has a strong record of support for gay and human rights. She took up the effort to add sexual orientation to the George Washington University’s non-discrimination policy in 1990. She serves on the board of the ACLU/National Capitol Area; and worked closely with Kathy Patterson in defending the rights of the 400 protesters and passers-by illegally arrested in Pershing Park in 2002.

Erik Gaull earned a +7.5. He supports all of our issues. He turned in a strong questionnaire and has been supportive of numerous gay groups.

Sam Brooks earned +7. He has a strong questionnaire, supporting all of our issues, and a good record on gay issues.

Paul Strauss earned a +7. He has a strong questionnaire.

Bill Rice earned a +6. He supports with all of our issues. His questionnaire is fairly good. And he has a record of support on our issues.

Jonathan Rees earned a -3. He refused to respond to GLAA’s questionnaire. During the campaign he has equated homosexuality with pedophilia, lobbied Congress to restrict home rule, and promoted a D.C. voter initiative to prohibit same-sex civil marriage.

Candidates are rated on a scale of -10 to +10, based on their answers to GLAA's questionnaire and their record on behalf of the gay and lesbian community. The questionnaires address a variety of issues including same-sex marriage, sensitivity training for firefighters, opposition to legislation which violates the civil rights of transgender people, support of legislation to strengthen the HIV privacy protections, and increased funding for the Office of Human Rights. The GLAA agenda, questionnaire, and complete candidate responses are available online at

Most candidates expressed support for same-sex marriage. Those that did not had other disagreements and/or no record and earned predictably low scores. Most candidates also voiced strong support for increased funding of the Office of Human Rights and publicizing the newly enacted prohibitions on discrimination against transgender people.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cheh receives Washington Post endorsement

. . . and Mary Cheh in Ward 3
In a field of stellar candidates, she shines the brightest.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006; A14

KATHY PATTERSON'S decision not to seek reelection has given Ward 3 Democrats a chance to nominate a new person to represent them on the D.C. Council. On primary day, Sept. 12, voters will find themselves confronted with an embarrassment of riches, since several outstanding candidates are seeking to fill the vacancy. The choice will be difficult with such excellent Ward 3 residents as Bill Rice, Robert Gordon, Erik Gaull and Mary Cheh in the race. However, narrowing the field to two, and in a tough call between Mr. Gordon and Ms. Cheh, we believe Mary Cheh has the breadth of experience; understanding of local government; and commitment to fiscal prudence, accountability and good government that will make her a first-class addition to the D.C. Council.

As special counsel to the council's Judiciary Committee, chaired by Mrs. Patterson, Mary Cheh directed the landmark investigation into the D.C. police department's handling of political protests. That groundbreaking probe, which documented serious shortcomings and unlawful government conduct, resulted in a new law setting parameters for police conduct and strengthened protection of citizens' rights and liberties. Ms. Cheh's legal skills -- she is a tenured law professor at George Washington University -- along with her involvement in community schools as a teacher, and the experience she gained as a prosecutor, also make her well suited to discharge her legislative and oversight responsibilities.

We can certainly understand why voters will want to take a close look at Mr. Gordon, an able advisory neighborhood commissioner and international development expert; Mr. Rice, who would bring a wealth of government and civic experience to the position; and Mr. Gaull, who has broad knowledge of D.C. government operations and is well grounded in public safety. Ms. Cheh, noted for her attention to detail, her compassion for and interest in youth, and her determination, as she has said, "to be an honest and careful steward of the people's money -- in raising and spending it," seems to have all of the professional and personal qualities necessary to best advance the varied interests of Ward 3 and the entire city.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Common Denominator Ward 3 Profiles

Candidates were interviewed by The Common Denominator's staff to learn more about who they are and why they are seeking election.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Progress on the Cleveland Park Giant?

From ANC 3C Chair Nancy MacWood:

Stop & Shop representatives confirmed today that the website that they promised to produce explaining aspects of the Giant supermarket renovation and expansion and the redevelopment of the adjoining properties owned by Giant is up and running:

I believe it is an interactive website so that you can make comments and ask questions. The materials on the website are similar to the presentation that was made last winter by Tony Colavolpe, VP, Stop & Shop. Refinements of that plan that are responsive to some of the suggestions made at the meeting will be represented on the website in the near future. But please take a look and let S&S, as well as the ANC, know what your thoughts are.

S&S are finalizing some of the drawings and concepts that were revised based on the meeting. I hope to schedule another community meeting so that they can bring us up to date during the Fall. I understand that after the second community meeting, S&S will evaluate whether the plans are ready for the regulatory application phase.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is Bill Rice really the money leader?

Much has been made recently in the Washington Post and Northwest Current regaring the recent financial filings by the Ward 3 Council Candidates and their respective correlation to "front runner" status. In a recent blast email, Bill Rice proclaimed himself the front runner in the Ward 3 Council Race. "I not only lead in fundraising for the second straight reporting period, but I lapped my opponents by raising $144,834, while my closest competitors ended up with only $113,292 and $72,540 respectively".

Hold the phone. If you subtract out the $40,000 loan Rice gave himself, and the $39,900 loan that Strauss has given himself, the numbers look much more even. Indeed, if you examine the donations from Ward 3 residents/voters, there is a staggering difference in who should be considered the front runner in this race:

Mary Cheh $34,040.
Eric Gaull $20,123
Cathy Wiss $18,542
Bill Rice $16,920
Sam Brooks $14,964
Paul Strauss $13,300
Robert Gordon $11,631
Eric Goulet $805
Jonathan Rees had no filing.

So are Bill Rice and Paul Strauss the money leaders? Who are they beholden to, if not the voters of Ward 3?

Officials break Sex Ring

Federal agents broke up a sex-slave trafficking ring along the East Coast that coerced Korean women into working as prostitutes in massage parlors and spas, some in upscale Washington neighborhoods such as Cleveland Park and Glover Park, authorities announced yesterday.

Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI arrested 31 people Tuesday, including 19 in New York and four in the District. They also raided 18 businesses, including one in Baltimore and five in Washington, three of them downtown.

The charges, including conspiracy to engage in human trafficking and interstate transportation of women for the purpose of prostitution, resulted from hours of wiretapped conversations.

According to court documents, recruiters in South Korea and the United States arranged travel to the United States for Korean women interested in making money for their families.

The women were provided false immigration documents or were turned over to handlers in Canada or Mexico, who smuggled them into the country, the documents said.

The businesses raided in Washington included the OK Spa, 2428 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 14K Spa, 1; and Cleveland Park Holistic Health, 3520 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

IN-Towner selects Goulet, unkind to Rees and Rice

This from the August, 2006 edition of the In-Towner Newspaper excerpted below:

As readers of this newspaper know, we do not cover the news of all of DC; our primary focus is on those neighborhoods in Wards 1 and 2 that lie between Rock Creek and North Capitol Street and north of downtown. And, since the Ward 2 City Council seat is not up for grabs this year, only Ward 1 requires our main focus, although we will have something to say about the important at-large seat being contested as well as the Ward 3 race that calls for our comment


Finally, a few comments about the Ward 3 race. Bill Rice is presumed to be the odds-on favorite; certainly he has received lots of good press, no doubt from having developed some close relationships with certain members of the press who have extolled his apparent (to them) responsiveness when he served as the DDOT spokesperson. Our experience, however, does run counter to what we have heard said by others. We have found that his attention span is short, frequently not even evident, that he has -- again, in our experience -- demonstrated a lack of follow-through or even a true get-up-and-go approach. He's a nice guy, but we don't think there's a lot there.

One thing we will say about Bill Rice is that if he is elected his personality is not such that he would be a destabilizing force. We cannot say the same about the most vocal and in-your-face angry candidate, Jonathan Rees. He has so absolutely polarized everyone he has come into contact with, has become infamous for his over-the-top rants, his personal character attacks on individuals who disagree with him, and worse that we fear his presence on the Council could completely destroy any hope for continued collegiality which is essential if it is to function effectively.

But there is one candidate that we believe would be able to make a significant contribution not only to the work of the Council but also on behalf of his constituents. We refer to Eric Goulet, possibly not a household name, but a candidate who the voters should take a serious look at. First off, he has the kind of personality and genuine intellect that will contribute greatly to the work of the Council; he is not only collegial, but he is patient and communicates well and is a true breath of fresh creativity. But beyond that, he knows his stuff.

One of his major strengths is his impressive knowledge and understanding of the complexities of DC finance, and has served admirably as clerk of the Committee on Finance and Revenue. He would bring another crucial voice of fiscal rationality that continues to be so desperately needed. In addition, thanks to his years of service as legislative counsel for health and aging issues when serving as a member of former Councilmember Sandy Allen's Committee on Health, he was immersed in a range of critical issues that require the attention of council members who truly understand the heath crisis affecting such a large portion of our citizens; he would bring to the table much needed insight and ideas. All we ask is that voters make an effort to learn more about him; they will be very impressed indeed."

Wash Post: Education is the issue

One Word Dwells on the Lips Of Ward 3 Candidates: Schools
Hopefuls Try to Emerge From Crowd by Pacifying Uneasy Parents
By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 15, 2006; B05

The Democratic primary for the Ward 3 D.C. Council seat is a contest about who knows more, who cares more and who can do more about public schools. And candidates are falling all over themselves to stand out.

Bill Rice, who has no children, is distributing a doorknob placard boldly claiming, "Only Bill Rice Can Fix Our Schools." Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss said he jumped into the race because he is the only candidate who currently has a child in a public school. Mary Cheh, whose children went to a private high school, recently held an education forum to get ideas from a small group of parents.

The race has turned into a feverish, single-issue election because the candidates primarily have talked about public schools, a longtime issue for the ward. Incumbent Kathy Patterson (D), who is giving up the seat to run for council chairman, began her political career 12 years ago as a public schools advocate.

The issue "certainly has a life of its own," said Alan Spears, corresponding secretary for the Ward 3 Democrats. "It's something people can grab on to and make their own."

Spears said he has remained neutral as he wades through the nine Ward 3 candidates who are seeking the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 12 primary.

The field is rounded out by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Robert Gordon and Cathy Wiss, political consultant Sam Brooks, former council staffer Eric Goulet, health-care business administrator Jonathan Rees and Erik Gaull, former special assistant to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Gaull is the only candidate who has previously run for the seat. He lost to Patterson in 2002.

Melissa Torgovitsky, last year's co-president of the PTA at Janney Elementary School, said there is a desperation in the air about where to send children once they move on to middle and high school. The route in Ward 3 leads to Alice Deal Junior High and then to Woodrow Wilson Senior High, considered the best comprehensive public high school in the District. But many ward parents are not satisfied with the facilities and academics. They choose private schools to educate their children in the upper years.

"Right now, everyone's uneasy and exploring other options," said Torgovitsky, a stay-at-home mom.

Residents are looking for a council member who can help fix the schools so private school doesn't have such a draw, Torgovitsky said. "A lot of families would consider staying in the District if they knew the schools were better," she said.

There are other issues in the election, such as rising property taxes, whether high-rises should be built on Wisconsin Avenue and how the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department should have responded in the case of New York Times journalist David E. Rosenbaum, who died after being attacked and robbed near his Ward 3 home.

Patterson has served as a broad voice for the ward on citywide issues such as crime and education as chairman of the council's committees on judiciary and education matters.

Residents are now demanding a more micromanaged approach to the schools.

The ward's high-performing elementary schools have lengthy waiting lists of out-of-boundary students. The crowded, dilapidated schools are also subsidized by parents voluntarily forking over money, in some cases more than $1,000 a student, to pay the salaries of teacher's aides and librarians. The parent-teacher associations operate like small corporations in a ward where 79 percent of residents hold college degrees, according to census data.

In the crowded field, it's difficult to pull front-runners out of the pack, said Robert M. Brandon, chairman of the Ward 3 Democrats. "I don't know if there's any real good measure of that," he said.

But Rice, Strauss and Cheh are ahead in raising funds. Rice, a former spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, has tapped his old connections to raise about $145,000, more than any other Ward 3 candidate.

The three candidates have also collected big endorsements.

Rice has received endorsements from Service Employees International Union Locals 32BJ, District 82 and 500, as well as TENAC, a tenant advocacy group. He touts his job in the Transportation Department as giving him the experience to solve the problems in the public school system, particularly the repair of the crumbling schools.

"I think the modernization problem is not so much an academic problem as it is a management problem," he said.

Strauss, who has been a shadow senator since 1996, has received the backing of the influential Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO. As the only candidate who has a child in a public school, he said, "I'm invested now."

The D.C. chapter of the Sierra Club, the D.C. Firefighters Association and the Northwest Current, a weekly newspaper serving Ward 3, have endorsed Cheh, a law professor at George Washington University.

Cheh, who has the support of Patterson, often finds herself on the defensive on the campaign trail. Critics question her dedication to public schools and her ability to juggle hours at the council and at the university.

Cheh said she will work out a plan with George Washington to be available for council business. She also dismissed criticism about her devotion to public schools. She said her children did not have to go to a public high school for her to empathize with parents whose children attend public schools. "I don't buy it," she said. "I don't buy it at all."

This month, she held an education forum in the living room of the home of Marlene Berlin, a public schools advocate who is supporting Cheh for council.

Goulet said all the talk about education is masking the more important issue of the city's financial health. "The reason I got in the race is because everyone was just talking about education. No one's talking about the city's overall finances," said Goulet, former clerk of the council's Finance and Revenue Committee. "Honestly, a lot of them sound like they're running for the school board. There's only so much a council member can do."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Monday, August 14, 2006

Council to revisit the Tenley Firehouse

By Matthew Cella
Published August 14, 2006

A D.C. Council member has scheduled a hearing to determine why the city's renovation of a historic firehouse in Northwest remains incomplete more than four years after the project began.
"I'm fed up with how many delays there have been," said council member Phil Mendelson, an at-large Democrat and chairman of the council's Committee on the Judiciary, which has oversight of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.
Mr. Mendelson toured the Tenleytown station Aug. 3 with Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson and Herb Tillery, interim director of the city's Office of Contracting and Procurement.
He scheduled an oversight hearing for Oct. 10.
"We were all very unhappy with the pace," Mr. Mendelson said.
For more than four years, the firetrucks and ambulances at Engine 20, at 4300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, have been dispersed to other stations. Some residents have had to wait for service from as far away as Bethesda.
A $2.9 million renovation contract was awarded in July 2002 to District-based HRGM Corp. A dispute was raised about construction issues, and city officials fired the company in July 2003, saying it had defaulted on the contract.
City officials rebid the contract and selected Garcete Construction Co. Inc., increasing the budget to $3.9 million. Garcete began work in August 2004. The work was supposed to be completed by last August, but the city granted an extension to the contractor until October. Before that deadline passed, fire officials announced the building would not be ready until March this year.
At the end of January, the fire department again revised the schedule to say the completion date would be sometime in the spring, but that deadline was pushed back to this month.
Mr. Mendelson said the latest projections he received put the completion date in October. He said he scheduled the hearing to impose consequences if the job is not completed by the latest deadline.
"Their reputations and their jobs are on the line," he said.
The project now is estimated to cost at least $7 million.
Engine 20's crew was briefly housed in a temporary trailer on the grounds of the Naval District Washington complex. The firefighters are now housed a mile away at Engine Co. 31, at 4930 Connecticut Ave. NW, where they share quarters with that crew.
The fire department cannot begin renovating another station -- Engine Co. 28 at 3522 Connecticut Ave. NW -- until work on the Engine 20 house is completed.
Built more than 100 years ago for horse-drawn fire engines, Engine Co. 20 was to be enlarged, its ventilation and plumbing systems rebuilt and its bay doors widened for modern equipment.
The D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board granted the building historic status in February 2002. The status angered some community members, who cite the designation and the rigid oversight for renovating historic buildings as the reason for the delays.

Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Family rescued from Woodley Park Metro elevator

By Matthew Cella

D.C. firefighters yesterday rescued a family of five, including three children, who were trapped for more than two hours in an elevator about 65 feet below ground at a Metro station in Northwest.
Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said the family got stuck at 3:46 p.m., when an elevator serving the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station stopped as it was heading up to street level.
Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. fire department, said the family from the Dominican Republic included a 1-year-old boy and two girls, ages 9 and 12 years old.
"They were tourists here in D.C., and they were getting ready to go to the zoo," Mr. Etter said.
Two rescue squads responded along with firefighters from the special operations division.
Three firefighters were lowered into the shaft on cables to assess the condition of the family members, who were outfitted with a harness and pulled up to street level individually after Metro officials were unable to get the elevator moving.
"It was quite dramatic," Mr. Etter said.
Firefighters brought up the mother first, then the children and the father last, Mr. Etter said.
He said the family was in good spirits through the ordeal and that the two girls seemed to enjoy the ride up the shaft.
He said the 1-year-old cried all the way up the shaft until he was reunited with his mother.
The family was assessed by emergency medical technicians in an ambulance at the scene but did not suffer any injuries, Mr. Etter said.
One firefighter was taken to the hospital with a hand injury.
Mr. Etter said the children were not a complication to the rescue, but they did add an emotional component to the rescue.
The situation in the elevator was "uncomfortable" but not dangerous, he said.
Mr. Taubenkibel said the elevator recently had been malfunctioning and went back into service at the end of last month.
However, he said firefighters were called in to rescue people from the elevator as recently as last weekend, after it got stuck Aug. 5 and 6.
He said a blown fuse was to blame for the mechanical problems last weekend but that officials were not sure what caused the malfunction yesterday.
Metro operates about 250 elevators, of which about 20 are out of service on any given day, according to the agency's Web site at
The elevator at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station was expected to be out of service until at least Monday.

Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Plotkin on the Ward 3 race

Washington, D.C.: Mark, great job last week with the WashPost Radio forum with Ward 3 candidates. Is the "Full Time" (Rice, Brooks) vs. "Part Time" (Cheh, Strauss) councilmember issue something that can bring out differences in this race, and who are your 2-3 front-runners?

Mark Plotkin: QUESTION # 20

Let me correct something right away. I Mark Plotkin was not the questioner on Washington Post Radio. The questioner was the esteemed and able (are you reading this Segraves?) colleague Mark Segraves. He expertly handled all the debates on Washington Post Radio. The Northwest Current is responsible for this grievous error. Segraves and I are writing a letter to correct this historic misidentification.

So that takes care of that. Last week I said the front runners were Cheh, who just got the endorsement of the Northwest Current. Bill Rice, Robert Gordon, Paul Strauss, but the Post endorsement will probably be critical here. But there�s plenty of time before September 12 for someone to catch fire.

Tom Knott on August 10, 2006

Theresa Conroy is a member of an endangered species in local politics -- a Republican who is seeking to represent Ward 3 on the D.C. Council.
Her challenge is daunting, if only because the city eschews the two-party system and considers Republicans to be the bane of all ills, including psoriasis.
At least Mrs. Conroy is being spared the sharp analysis of Thelma Roque, the political pundit who devotes her attention to the nine Democrats crowding the Ward 3 field.
Mrs. Conroy also has not been linked to the vast number of conspiracies lurking on the Internet, many of which cite as the cause of all the problems in Ward 3, including psoriasis.
Mrs. Conroy claims not to feel like the loneliest person in the city, if not the political version of "The Last of the Mohicans."
"You don't do this unless you think you can win," she said by telephone yesterday. "I think the message of positive resolutions could resonate with voters [in November]."
Until then, the fiercest struggle is taking place among the Democratic candidates.
Eight of the nine Democratic candidates came out against psoriasis in a debate that aired on NewsChannel 8 this week.
Each plans to fix the city's public-school system, lower property taxes and extend the life span of each resident by 10 years.
Mary Cheh also plans to maintain her teaching position at George Washington University because being a council member is merely a part-time job.
Sam Brooks, who appears to have just graduated from high school, is touting "25 ideas to move us forward," one of which is to urge council members to eat healthier food during their "Tuesday breakfasts" on the first Tuesday of each month.
As the city's shadow senator for the press 10 years, Paul Strauss is coming out of what amounts to the Witness Protection Program. As low as his profile is, he might as well be a congressional aide.
Mr. Strauss suggests that his experience as a shadow senator would be useful to the D.C. Council. As a council member with real voting rights, he no longer would have to hold his breath until he turned purple in the face to get the attention of lawmakers.
Erik Gaull is positioning himself as the Rambo-with-a-brain entrant.
He thinks he is the only candidate who has ridden on the back of a trash truck and collected garbage in the city. He also thinks he is the only candidate who has "arrested a drunk driver and chased down a bad guy" in a scary alley.
As a council member, Mr. Gaull undoubtedly would feel compelled to fix the D.C. trash hot line. The number is: 202/727-1000. Go ahead, call the hot line. Someone will give you a tracking number and get back to you one of these years.
Cathy Wiss vows to be a human shield any time developers pull a bulldozer into Ward 3, as she has demonstrated as a commissioner with the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Tenleytown. She is pro-tree year-round and pro-heat in the winter. Her tireless work prompted the now-defunct federal control board to bring heat to the Tenley Library.
Robert Gordon saved the Avalon Theatre.
Eric Goulet, no relation to Robert, has 21 progressive initiatives, plus a picture of himself and a nice-looking dog on his Web site.
Bill Rice promises to fix the public schools, improve city services, provide tax relief to property owners and help all the residents of Ward 3 reach their full potential as human beings.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Rice is earning his share of endorsements, starting with the D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition.
Most of the candidates are actively seeking the endorsement of the Ward 3 Obesity Tolerance Association, which is said to be one of the two most critical endorsements in the race.
Thelma Roque, of course, is the other.
Jonathan Rees sees no need to debate the issues with the other eight candidates.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sierra Club pick on Council Chair hinges on -- Klingle Road?

Earlier this week, I posted the Sierra Club endorsement of Ward 3 Candidate Mary Cheh. The Sierra Club also made endorsements for other Candidates including Ward 7 Councilman Vincent Gray. The pick prompted Ward 3 Councilman and Chair Candidate Kathy Patterson to issue this release:

I am disappointed not to receive the Sierra Club endorsement given our important work together over the last three years to stop the threat of "toxic trains" coming through the nation's capital. Sierra Club officials said they base the endorsement of my opponent on his commitment to reopen the debate on Klingle Road and reverse the earlier Council decision to rebuild and reopen the east-west roadway. I declined to make that commitment, and said that the majority vote by the Council should be respected, and the road rebuilt.

I also urged the Sierra Club to focus attention on critical environmental issues including the green buildings legislation I cosponsored and efforts of local anti-poverty organizations to address "environmental justice" issues such as the disproportionate levels of pollution in poor sections of the District. I am sorry that the Sierra Club is focused on a single roadway in upper northwest instead of environmental issues that could have a positive impact on every D.C. resident.

Now I am not the biggest Kathy Patterson fan in the world, but I do have to agree with the posters in the City Paper City Desk blog who claim Kathy's actual record of environmental friendliness over Vincent Gray's talk and discussion about environmental protection. What has Vincent Gray proposed in his 18 months on the Council to promote enviromental friendly laws?

Kathy Patterson has fought tirelessly on the "toxic train" issue. The irony is that she fought for the closure of Klingle Road, but believes that the Klingle debate should be over and not re-opened. The decision of the current council should be respected, and all sides should move on.

I agree with that sentiment. I think the Sierra Club choice on this seat is in error.

Meet the Nats at Turtle Park!

Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten and the team's Mascot "Screech" will join Councilmember Kathy Patterson at Friendship Recreation Center (Turtle Park) at 4500 Van Ness Street, NW, tomorrow, August 10 at 9:30 a.m.
They will be giving away tickets to Nationals games as well as other Nationals items as part of the team's community outreach program across the city and their efforts to support youth baseball and softball. They will also be cheering on "Coach Mac" and more than 150 kids from 4 to 12 years of age who are attending Homerun Baseball Camp at the rec center. So put on your Nats caps and come join the fun.

Great Mapping Tool for DC Political Contributions

The good folks at have overlayed the campaign giving information for DC residents with Google Maps to bring us the ability to see who is giving to which candidates, and by what neighborhoods:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Another Ward 3 endorsement

D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition Endorses Bill Rice

Bill Rice, candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Ward 3 City Council seat, enthusiastically welcomes the endorsement by the tenant advocacy group, TENAC, of his campaign to protect tenants and fix the public schools in Ward 3 and throughout the city.

"The TENAC endorsement indicates the deep support there is for my campaign to maintain rent control and fix our public schools," Rice said. "I support the new law, passed unanimously by the Council, and will vigorously oversee its implementation."

TENAC officials praised Rice for his presentation at the citywide forum on tenant issues on May 17th. They said it was obvious that Bill not only cared enough to attend the forum, he knew tenant issues, both citywide and in Ward 3.

Rice has a long history of supporting tenant rights and affordable housing. He lived for 20 years in a rent controlled apartment in Dupont Circle and was an activist for continuing tenant protections. He recently resigned after six years as spokesperson for the District Department of Transportation to run full-time for the Ward 3 seat and will be a full-time councilmember. He is first on the ballot.

TENAC, the D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition, is the premier pro-tenant organization in the District.

Sierra Club makes its political choices

In the Ward 3 council race, the club endorsed Mary Cheh. The club faced a very difficult decision in Ward 3, which is blessed with a strong field of candidates, including Robert Gordon, who has made environmental protection a prominent part of his campaign, and Bill Rice, noted for his transportation experience.

“This was probably the toughest call so far for this year’s races,” said Lisa Swanson, the club chapter’s political committee chair. “But we see in Mary Cheh a knowledgeable and articulate leader who would be a strong advocate for parkland protection and transit-oriented development that would make D.C. a more liveable place.”

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chevy Chase, Maryland to adopt Speed Cameras

Excerpted below:

By Tarron Lively
Published August 5, 2006

A Chevy Chase neighborhood is adopting a speed-camera program following a test project that will serve as a model for other parts of Montgomery County.

The Chevy Chase Village Police Department installed a stationary camera this summer along a short stretch of Connecticut Avenue, north of the Chevy Chase Circle.

Police Chief Roy Gordon said the results were favorable but that the department did not keep records of how many motorists were photographed during the test. He said the camera was put in that area because it is notorious for speeders. Chief Gordon said the department will start looking for camera vendors this month, then put two cameras in the same spot on Connecticut Avenue -- one for northbound and the other for southbound motorists. Chief Gordon said citations will not include points and that fines will not exceed $40. The revenue would go toward traffic or pedestrian safety.

"That's all spelled out in the law," he said. "You can't just use [the funds] for anything."

Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ward 3 Forum broadcast tonight

Ward 3 Council Candidates Forum will be airing on radio and Cable TV tonight and over the weekend.

Tune in Friday night from 7-8 p.m. to Washington Post Radio 1500 AM and 107.7 FM for a Ward 3 Council Candidates Forum.

Hear the candidates on public safety, public schools and other issues of concern to Ward 3 residents with moderators Mark Seagraves (WTOP) and Elisa Silverman (Washington Post).

The program will be rebroadcast on Channel 8, Monday, August 7 at 10 p.m.

A full report will follow.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And more Whoops from Candidate Robert Gordon

On Closer Examination . . .
Whoops. Ward 3 council hopeful Robert Gordon recently claimed to have the endorsement of the Northwest Current, the ubiquitous free weekly that reaches more than 30,000 readers. But editor and publisher Davis Kennedy said Gordon should have read that editorial a little more carefully.

What it said was that Gordon and rival Mary Cheh "stood out among all the other candidates" in the crowded race to replace council member Kathy Patterson, Kennedy said. But then it went on to note that Cheh has a better grasp on citywide issues, leading the paper to "lean slightly for Ms. Cheh."

Kennedy said Gordon apologized for the mix-up.

This hasn't prevented the candidate from putting the endorsement stickers on his literature and touting it in his door-to-door campaign stops. See my previous entry on this subject, regarding remedial education.

Loose Lips updates the Ward 3 Race: Cheh and Brooks

There’s nothing like a few glowing testimonials from high-profile friends to boost a political neophyte’s credibility. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to tack a few recognizable names or organizations onto your campaign lit.

Ward 3 council hopeful Mary Cheh has some sweet endorsements on her literature and a mailing that she figures ended up in the hands of about 15,000 residents.

Nan Aron, executive director of the Alliance for Justice, says she admires Cheh’s “fierce dedication to fairness, equal rights, and civil liberties.” Cheh is called “a phenomenal friend of animals and all who love and care for them,” by Washington Humane Society Executive Director Howard Nelson. Renee DeVigne, one of the deans of George Washington University Law School, where Cheh teaches, says that “[s]tudents love professor Cheh...because she inspires them to care about their community.”

These community leaders have something in common beyond their praise for Cheh: They all work for nonprofit organizations barred by the Internal Revenue Service from involvement in partisan political activities.

Cheh appears to have overlooked that part of the IRS code. She not only included approved accolades from friends on her mailing but also listed their titles and organizations. Her lit did not include a disclaimer distancing those quoted from their organizations.

Nelson, who says he hasn’t seen the literature, calls the naming of his organization an error. “It certainly was not authorized.” He characterized his endorsement as “a personal quote. It actually has nothing to do with the Washington Humane Society or my role at WHS.” Nelson seems to have a good grasp of the IRS code. “We are a 501(c)(3), and we never participate in any political campaigns.” He’s e-mailed Cheh asking her to “remove the quote or subtext it, like on her Web site.”

It’s a little too late for adding disclaimers, unless he expects Cheh to go rooting through every mailbox from Cleveland Park to Palisades.

It’s not as if Cheh didn’t know that the use of the quotes with organizations needed to be explained to protect her friends from IRS scrutiny. All the statements were approved, but below all the quotes on her Web site, Cheh gives the reader this message: “(*Affiliations are listed for informational purposes only.)”

Cheh would have been wise to take a peak at the Alliance for Justice Web site. The group’s nonprofit advocacy project is designed to give tax-exempt organizations “a better understanding of the laws that govern their participation in the policy process.” It even includes a little fact sheet. Check item No. 1 under how an organization can protect itself from violating the laws governing political activity: “Requir[e] officers…acting as individuals engaged in partisan political activity to clearly state that they are acting in their individual capacity, not on behalf of the organization…”

After the Cheh campaign was contacted by the Washington City Paper, this message was posted on her Web site:

“A recent mailing from my campaign included quotes from people who were identified with their institutional affiliations. There was no attempt to suggest that these were endorsements from the institutions themselves. But since there was no specific disclaimer, the reference to designations could have left that impression with someone. I regret that, although, again, this was not the intent nor do I think anyone would reasonably believe that the designations were anything more than information identifying who was making the statement. To avoid even possible ambiguity, all future mailings will have specific disclaimers.”

Cheh might have been surprised that any reasonable person might see the endorsements as, well, endorsements, but she was quick to lay blame on her own campaign. “I screwed up, what can I say?”

• Ward 3 contender Sam Brooks is all about being different. He’s young, new to the ward, full of new ideas, and now certainly a new kind of Democrat who doesn’t mind pissing off the unions. Brooks is the first candidate in the race to benefit from an independent expenditure from a political action committee openly hostile to labor. Red, white, and blue fliers that look strangely similar to Brooks’ own campaign lit have been distributed around the ward carrying the disclaimer: “Paid for by Citizens for Empowerment PAC.”

The PAC is funded by gigantic concrete maker Miller & Long and electrical contractor MC Dean. Both companies are open shops and help fund the political opposition to the city’s stadium-project labor agreement, which gave preference for construction contracts to union companies.

The flier is pretty standard fare and carries Brooks’ signature “new” ideas of creating a commission on school closings and splitting Emergency Medical Services from the fire department. But a new bullet point is tacked onto the end: “Fair and Open Bidding: allowing union and nonunion companies the same rights to compete for construction work.”

Brooks says he had no idea the mailing was about to hit the streets. He did meet with the PAC board along with several other Ward 3 candidates.

Mary Cheh questioned about GWU committments

A submission to the Tenleytown Listserv indicates that Mary Cheh may not be able to keep her obligations to the GWU Law School while also properly serving the residents of Ward 3. The post, as linked above is penned by "Brian Summers" who calls himself the "Ward 3 Watcher". Mr. Summers indicated that he lives on Connecticut Avenue. However, calls to the number he provided have not been returned. Here is the challange:

A letter is circulating from a GW Law professor that claims if Mary Cheh works more than 8 hours a week outside of GW she is in violation of her GW Contract. Is 8 hours a week enough to be a Council Member?

The letter states "Mary continues to misrepresent her contractual obligations at the university while belittling the time that we have to spend on our students. She is contractually prohibited from working more than one day a week outside of the law school. This limitation is contained in Rule 2-16, which states clearly that faculty are allowed "to spend the equivalent of up to one working day a week" ourside of their teadhing duties" Her repeated statements that she needs only a few hours a week as a law professor is a terrible insult to her collaegues and our profession. Many of us were outraged by her statement that she needs the same amount of time to proapre and tach her classes as she does to job during the week."

Is GW offereing her a sweetheart deal. And if so, what will they expect back if she is elected?

Candidate Mary Cheh has written this response:

"There are messages circulating on this list (and perhaps others) saying that a GW University law Professor has written a letter saying that I cannot remain on the faculty and serve on the D.C. Council. "There is no such letter. There is an anonymous letter claiming to be from a GW law professor, but it is nothing more than a campaign dirty trick. The letter quotes misleadingly and selectively from a University handbook, when, in fact, I have full university approval to do exactly what I'm doing.
"There have been other anonymous and false letters thus bringing swiftboat politics to our Ward 3 election. Letters were also sent to members of the media who concluded that they were nothing more than sleazy politics. In fact one paper is now considering writing about campaign dirty tricks in Ward 3.
"I decided to seek the Ward 3 Council seat because we face serious issues, and I believe I have something to offer Ward 3 and the City. I have straightforwardly acknowledged that I will maintain my affiliation with the University and that I am obliged to teach one course in the Spring of 2007. After that, my course load will be adjusted as necessary. If I am elected, no one will have any reason to doubt my commitment. I will devote as much time and effort to Ward 3 as anybody. I'm in this because I have ideas and want to make a difference. I'm happy to report that the Northwest Current has endorsed my candidacy citing my breadth and depth of experience and strength in policymaking and attacking citywide problems strategically.

So, where is "Brian Summers"?