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Editorials and Opinions

Georgetown Eyes on Strasburg

Beer? Check. Hotdog? Check. Strasburg jersey? Check. After roaming M Street speaking with eager and angry baseball aficionados about Stephen Strasburg’s debut tonight, I have come to a conclusion: Nationals fans are psyched, Nationals bashers are scared. “I wish him the best of luck. He may put up the numbers, but there’s no way they will win,” said a devoted Oakland Athletics fan. Dodgers fan Daryn Towle doesn’t believe he will live up to the hype. “It requires experience to do well in the majors. [Strasburg] just doesn’t have it.” Well, my good ol’ Nationals fans beg to differ. With a 100 mph fastball, Georgetown locals have hope in their hero and are waiting to see if this could potentially be a winning season. “I can’t wait to see him pitch. I know he’s a rookie, but I can just see him throwing those strikes and getting a perfect game,” said fan Bryan Pike. “It’s a gut feeling.” As tourists and Pirates fans pour into the city to watch this potentially history-making game, Georgetown local Calvin Smallwood says, “It’s great people are coming out to support our nation’s pastime for once!” T-minus-3 hours until Strasburg takes the mound and I can guarantee that residents of Georgetown, as well as ESPN junkies worldwide, will have their eyes focused on our hometown tonight.

‘Greener’ Gas: Where Should We Fuel Up?

Washingtonians live in an environmentally friendly city. New buildings meet green standards, transit ridership is very high, residents use a mix of renewable energy and recycling to increase sustainability. Locals, who value their health and the environment, shop at bustling organic grocery stores and farmers markets. D.C. residents are leaders in “green” living. They are also horrified by the ongoing oil spill that has shattered lives and the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama and environmental leaders have embraced this leadership moment, calling for an end to foreign (or all) oil dependence in as few as two decades — a reversal of a 15-year trend of more driving, flat fuel economy, higher greenhouse gas emissions, and more complicated and risky oil extraction. Local residents must also channel their outrage into better choices for our planet. In the short term, Washingtonians can reduce their carbon footprint by carpooling or grouping errands by location. In the long term, they can choose to live in walkable communities or buy more energy-efficient cars. When they fill their gas tanks, they must not decide, as usual, on the cheapest or closest option. Instead, they must select an oil company based on its environmental, employee, and regional impact. They must also disregard oil company “greenwashing” efforts, such as BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign, which overhyped small renewable energy efforts, and Shell ads showing a pristine marine sanctuary supported through only a few thousand dollars. A wealth of truly relevant public information on environmental, safety, lobbying, and spill records can help consumers pick a pump. There are some excellent sources: - One of the most comprehensive is the Sierra Club’s 2007 article called “Pick Your Poison,” which records human rights or environmental abuses, companies’ stances on global warming and green initiatives. The information is shocking — it details huge pipeline and tanker spills, murdered activists, large fines and contaminated water. It also ranks the oil companies on their environmental impact, with Sunoco coming in first (“Top of the Barrel”); Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Valero Energy Company, and Citgo next (“Middle of the Barrel”); then ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips (“Bottom of the Barrel”); and BP (dishonorable mention, as of 2010). - Federal government records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Minerals Management Service, and the Coast Guard forecast and track the impact of oil company activities. Consumers generally can’t easily search these Web sites and compare companies. But a handful of nonprofits are doing the dirty work. For example, a Center for Public Integrity study showed two BP refineries of the 55 that are now federally inspected accounted for almost all (97 percent) of the past three years’ flagrant workplace violations. - Community stakeholders and environmental groups communicate on the Web about local issues with oil extraction, processing, and transportation at sites such as www.chevrontoxico.com and www.oilwatchdog.org. Sorting through this information will likely become even easier. Web and iPhone applications that point consumers to the cheapest and/or closest gas stations are being released to give consumers access to this information. These apps might also have consumers check priorities — such safety records over renewable energy initiatives — and push out rankings or more information. Washington area residents care about the environment, but still drive an average of around 22 miles per day. They must think twice before they fuel up. Local drivers must read through available oil company information and stay up to date on Web and phone applications. It’s one of many critical ways to care for people, pelicans (other wildlife too!) and our planet.

High Time For Oil Conservation

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, the people of the United States will have used up (forever) 100,000 gallons of oil. The most important well ever drilled was in a remote section of northwestern Pennsylvania in 1859 by “Colonel” Edwin Drake. This may have been the first successful well ever drilled for the sole purpose of finding petroleum, and began the international search for oil that eventually changed the way we live. Today hydrocarbons power our economy. They provide the raw material for fertilizers to put food on our table and for the plastic containers that we drink from. They also drain our funds, enrich our enemies by bankrolling terrorism, corrupt our political system and foul our environment. Much like the whale oil of old, petroleum is a depleting resource. Petroleum, coal and natural gas (the “fossil fuels”) are forms of stored energy from trillions of plants and animals that were buried before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Of course, new oil is still being formed today in some parts of the world, but you might have to wait another 150 million years to turn it into something you could use in your car. Oil is only worth something when its final value is more than what it costs to produce it. As we drill deeper, the costs of extraction go up exponentially. In the case of deep offshore drilling, very little of the difference between revenues and costs accrues to our benefit. Unlike countries that have already nationalized their petroleum industry (like Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Libya) only a relatively small portion goes to our government in the form of royalties and taxes. The rest accrues to the benefit of largely foreign shareholders who often recycle that money back into our own economy by buying even larger interests in American assets like other oil properties, real estate and shares of American banks. Many of us have heard that the U.S. is sitting on enough domestic reserves of gas and coal to last centuries. We are not told that much of the gas is too deep and the coal too remote to produce it without heavy subsidy. Natural gas development requires substantial investment in infrastructure spending. And, after centuries of mining, our shallow coal resources have been heavily exploited. The recent Massey Energy explosion in West Virginia brought renewed focus to the dangers of deep coal mining. Deep water provides its own set of challenges. Typically below 1700 feet, offshore platforms cannot physically rest on the sea floor and instead must float on the surface. By now, we all know what problems can be created when things go wrong thousands of feet below. Whenever we suffer through an oil boycott, a fall in the value of our currency, a terrorist attack or a disastrous oil spill, we must again remind ourselves that we have to act now to conserve. Alternative forms of energy such as solar and wind are simply too undeveloped to have an immediate impact, though efforts in those directions must be encouraged. Nuclear energy is burdened by its own set of problems — exorbitant costs, the risks of an accident or terrorist attack, the threat of proliferation and the challenge of disposing of the nuclear waste to name but a few. A nuclear accident will make the Gulf spill look tame. Unlike oil pollution, deadly radiation cannot even be seen or smelled. Then there is the issue of uranium depletion. The best ores of uranium have been mined, leaving mainly low-quality ores left to exploit. And with a country the size of ours (compared to the size of France, which has an active nuclear program) it would take a massive investment in many dozens of new plants taking many years to make even a small dent in energy availability. Some experts think that hydrogen will form the basic energy infrastructure that will power future societies, replacing today's fossil fuels, but that vision probably won’t happen until far in the future. There are obvious things we can do personally to save energy by changing our habits. Others, such as increased mileage standards and light rail systems, can only be accomplished though government mandate. Higher taxes on energy will spur a better allocation of resources. The higher cost of gasoline in Europe has led to the widespread use of lighter fuel efficient vehicles and greater utilization of public transportation. Higher taxes on energy use might be acceptable if offset by tax cuts elsewhere. Higher prices for petroleum products will inevitably curb consumption. Would it not be better that the proceeds from higher prices be directed to our own treasury rather than to foreign entities? The unemployed are another wasted resource. As a temporary measure during the Great Depression, FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs to millions while providing natural resource conservation on public lands in every state. During that time, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America and constructed more than 800 parks that would become the foundation of our state parks today. We can and should vote for candidates who promise to do something to promote conservation and the environment. We have all heard the mantra “Drill Baby Drill” from the likes of a certain political figure (I won’t embarrass her by mentioning her name). How many times must we be reminded? The U.S. today consumes a fourth of the world’s supply of oil, almost 3 times that of number two contender, China. As the populations of the developing world continue to trade in their bicycles for cars, the price of oil is certain to rise. Comprehensive climate and energy legislation must be given top priority — now. There are no easy solutions. Wrenching lifestyle changes are going to happen anyway. Perhaps these can be greatly lessened by our immediate attention. The author, a former oil industry analyst for a major mutual fund company, is a frequent contributor of photographs to The Georgetowner and The Downtowner.

Letters to the Editor, June 16

  -To the editor: I read with considerable interest your June 2 editorial “Single Sales Ban: We’re Over It.” And I must say that I share your view when you question the need for the law in the first place. But there are two important facts which your editorial overlooks. First, that resolution, drafted by Commissioner Bill Starrels ("he likes to cook," according to the resolution) was adopted by the slimmest possible majority: 3-2-0, with Commissioner Golds and myself in opposition, and Commissioners Birch and Solomon in absentia. Further, I'd think as a matter of policy you would mention that the author of the "venomous" tract is a regular contributor to your paper. Charles F. Eason, Jr. Commissioner, ANC 2E07 To the editor: As a longtime resident of Papermill Court in west Georgetown, I am writing out of concern that my fellow Georgetown residents may have developed a negative attitude about our neighborhood after reading an article in last issue of The Georgetowner about rodent control ("Georgetown to City Rats: Look Out," June 2). The article described our lovely neighborhood as "claustrophobic," "forgotten," long-shuttered," "defunct" and "ripe for infestation." At least we don't have any more rats. After reading this article even they won't come here any more. Charles Pinck Georgetown

We Remember: A Star, A Poet and A Bruin

Rue McClanahan of the Golden Girls --- If you’re a television star, as opposed to any other kind of star, you are who you play even unto death. This is why A-list movie stars were and are rarely seen on television, except when promoting their latest project on late night talk shows. In the kingdom of television, Seinfeld will always be, well, Seinfeld, Carroll O’Connor will always be remembered as Archie Bunker, Ted Danson, no matter what he does, will be Sam the bartender on “Cheers” and the late Dixie Carter will always be remembered first and foremost as Julia Sugarbaker. And so on. “The Golden Girls”, the mid-’80s and early ’90s sitcom about four women of a certain age, which defied the conventional wisdom that people wouldn’t watch a show about women of a certain age, is a splendid example of the adage that on TV you are and will always remain who you play. And so on “The Golden Girls”, Bea Arthur will always be the retired school teacher Dorothy Zborniak, Estelle Getty will always be her crusty Sicilian mother, Sophia Petrillo, and Betty White will always be the dimly long-winded Rose Nyland. And Rue McClanahan, who died recently at the age of 76, will always be Blanche Deveraux, man-hungry and slightly slutty, but with dash, a breathy languorous, dishy way about her that gave Scarlett O’Hara a run for her Confederate money. No question it wasn’t all that McClanahan did in her showbiz life. She was a dazzling hoofer, stepping her way to stardom in numerous shows, and also criss-crossing with Arthur on “Maude” (the other role Arthur will be forever remembered for) and with White on “Mama’s Family.” She starred on stage in “The Vagina Monologues,” among other plays, and in 2008 starred in a cable series called “Texas Sordid.” “The Golden Girls” was an anomaly among TV shows in an age where the young audience was already courted for its spending power. It was a big hit for seven years and lives on mightily in syndication on Lifetime. Shows like that become national mantras for a reason, in this case, because the women were complex, funny and struggling with life issues that were familiar to anyone getting older, or younger people with parents. And that the women were portrayed by gifted, vivid actresses who remain hard to forget. McClanahan had a sassiness about her, a certain shamelessness that refused to bow to age. She was going to be the prom queen for as long as they had proms and young guys with eyes that roved everywhere. They’re almost all gone now. Arthur died last year, and Getty passed away the year before. All four actresses won Emmys for their roles at one time or another. Only one of the Golden Girls remains standing, and that’s Betty White, who defies the rule. Rose may be memorable, but White goes beyond any television role. She is television, and was television, going back to her roles on radio, game shows, daytime soaps, trashy movies (she played a monster mom who controlled a deadly alligator), memorable commercials and, most recently, an acclaimed appearance as the oldest person to ever host “Saturday Night Live,” courtesy of a wild campaign on Facebook. Those Golden Girls, they’re golden. ___ Peter Orlovsky of the Beat Generation --- Peter Orlovsky died May 30 of lung cancer. If you want to find Peter, really see him in sunshine and splendor, go to the National Gallery of Art’s West Building, where he remains luminous in black and white in the exhibition of beat poet and icon Allan Ginsberg’s photographs. Orlovsky’s prominent presence in this exhibition — along with Ginsberg himself, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso — can be accounted for by the fact that he was, off and on, through thick and thin and other relationships, Ginsberg’s great love and companion for over 40 years. In the exhibition, Ginsberg, in front of the camera and behind it, reigns supreme, as guru, jester, enthusiast supreme. Orlovsky, supine, up front with his stunning face, seems bemused, a kind of passive Pan to all the other great writers and cavorters. He was one of the true boys, like Neil Cassady or the often sullen Kerouac. Orlovsky was, of course, more than Ginsberg’s muse and companion, even inspiration. He was a poet himself, and became quite a fine one, though never quite attained the quality or style that could blot out the literary sky like Ginsberg with his “Howl.” He published several books of poetry, including one with Ginsberg, “Straight Hearts Delight: Love Poems and Selected Letters.” Ginsberg died in 1997. Orlovsky continued to write. Both appear very much alive in Ginsberg’s photos, which not only resurrects their life as a couple, but a whole culture that was counter to the Eisenhower’s placid small-town, suburban 1950s America long before there was a counter-culture that went by that name. ___ Coach John Wooden --- John Wooden, who died at the fine age of 99, was the best basketball coach ever. Period. Coaching the UCLA Bruins of the ’60s and ’70s, he won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including seven in a row between1967 to 1973, the height of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton eras. He won 620 games in 27 seasons. His record of NCAA titles is not likely to be topped in the men’s game any time soon, if ever, given that most college players with an aptitude for the pros are drafted before becoming upperclassmen, and the kind of consistency and solidity provided by four-year players no longer exists. Wooden, known as the Wizard of Westwood, a nickname he apparently hated, was not much for razzle-dazzle. In fact, he was both one of a kind and a throwback, a man who was deeply devoted to his religion and to his family in a way that would brook no hint that he was anything other than what he appeared to be. He wrote love letters to his wife for years after she passed away, and, speaking of his Christian faith, was famously quoted as saying that “If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.” He coached teams, not individuals, even though he had spectacular stars among his list of players. He was no overnight sensation — he didn’t win his first NCAA title until his 16th year at UCLA — but by the end he had won a record 88 games in a row, 38 straight NCAA tournament games in a row and 98 straight home games. The record also shows that he never made more than $35,000 a year. He obviously did not have an agent, never asked for a raise and turned down an offer to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. Imagine all that.

Behind the Lens

I assure you that my images on this page are not the result of trick photography or Photoshop chicanery. That is indeed House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer locking hands with Republican Whip Eric Cantor. And that’s outspoken conservative Congresswoman Jean Schmidt having her softball signed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There they were. Members of Congress of both parties wielding baseball bats, but not at each other. For one entire evening, bipartisanship indeed reigned supreme as female members of Congress participated at the Second Annual Congressional Women’s Softball game at Guy Mason Park on June 16. The fundraiser raised money for the Young Survival Coalition, a breast cancer advocacy group. The D.C. Women’s Press Corps team came back from an early deficit to defeat the Congressional members squad 13-7 in a spirited match. It was much closer than the final score would indicate, with the Congressional team actually leading until the final inning against a Press team that was, on average, literally half their age. It’s unfortunate that convivial Congressional events such as these are so rare. The “process” is partly to blame. Members of Congress require enormous quantities of cash to get re-elected. Fundraising demands that they spend a large amount time traveling back to their own districts, leaving less opportunity to socialize with their peers. Apparently, the way to raise the big money these days is to appeal to the more extreme elements. Partisan acrimony seemed to reach a low point when, during the last Presidential State of the Union address, South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson screamed “You lie!” Wilson promptly became a hero to the right wing, and millions of dollars poured into his coffers. Joe Wilson’s remark was not the lowest point in Congressional incivility. That might have been in the spring of 1856, when another South Carolina Congressman, Preston Brooks, assaulted Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts literally on the floor of the United States Senate. Sumner had given a speech attacking Brooks’ relative, Senator Andrew Butler. A few days later, Brooks confronted Sumner at his writing desk in the Senate Chamber. Brooks said, “Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine.” As Sumner began to stand up. Brooks began beating Sumner with his wooden walking cane which had a gold head. Sumner, trapped by his desk and blinded by his own blood, collapsed into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat Sumner until he broke his cane. Other Senators rose to help Sumner but were blocked by fellow South Carolina Congressman Laurence M. Keitt, who took out a pistol, shouting “Let them be!” Sumner would be unable to return to his duties in the Senate for three years while he recovered. South Carolinians sent Brooks brand new canes with one bearing the inscription “Hit him again.” Brooks resigned his seat but his constituents, considering him a hero, promptly returned him to Congress. It is no accident that Congress today has a favorability rating only slightly higher than that of British Petroleum. As everyone knows, a filibuster is a form of parliamentary obstruction in which a lone member of a legislative body can delay or prevent a vote on a legislative measure. It is not new. One of the first known practitioners of the filibuster was the Roman senator Cato the Younger over 2,000 years ago. There was a rule at the time that all business in the Roman Senate had to be wrapped up by nightfall. With his long-winded speeches, Cato would stop a vote just by talking — and talking. Needless to say, Julius Caesar was not pleased. Our legislative branch of government had worked reasonably well over the years precisely because the filibuster was only rarely invoked. A minority party that can keep its members in line has the power to stop any legislation or nomination in its tracks, which is what the Republicans have done on almost every occasion since Obama became president. Under the rules of the U.S. Senate, any senator can speak on any subject unless three-fifths of the Senate (60 members) bring debate to a close by invoking cloture under Rule XXII. Changes to the Senate rules can be changed by a simple majority. Unfortunately, a rule change itself can be filibustered, which makes any change difficult. In the current environment when the majority party fears becoming the minority party, the prospect of eliminating the filibuster rule would seem remote at best. Clearly this is not what our Founding Fathers intended. I do not suggest that the parties have to agree. Partisan differences are healthy necessities in an American democracy, but serious matters such as immigration, energy, our environment, the deficit and unemployment all demand immediate attention. In a rapidly changing environment, doing nothing is seldom a good option. The filibuster rule is a purposeless artifact from another time and place. At Wimbledon and the World Cup elimination rounds, someone has to advance, and a tiebreaker is often used to establish a winner. Penalty kicks wouldn’t do too well in the Senate, but a simple up or down vote would work just fine. Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “in free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.” That’s a tall challenge, to be sure, but the harmony that prevailed on a Georgetown softball field offers the prospect that all things are possible. [gallery ids="99156,102854,102856" nav="thumbs"]

Remembering Robert Byrd

West Virginian Robert C. Byrd, Senate stalwart and vacillator, segregationist and crusader for the rights of the trampled, died Monday at age 92, leaving behind him a swath of controversy, a throng of admirers and friends and a legacy to be long remembered, a life fully led. It’s not unusual for politicians, legislators especially, to serve well into their retirement years, especially if they continue to ride a wave of public favor. Byrd did just that, only he rode something more tsunami-like, an intensely loyal voter bloc that elected him nine consecutive times to the nation’s most prestigious congregation. While there he witnessed — and influenced — the dramatic evolution of America after the second world war: its shift from agrarian economics, the explosion of the middle class, the rise and fall of anti-communist hysteria and the struggle for civil rights, on which Byrd had, at best, a spotty record. During his 51-year tenure as senator, he served in a variety of high-profile capacities, including majority leader, minority leader, president pro tempore and chairman of the Senate’s largest committee (Appropriations), among others. It’s also not unusual for politicians to reinvent their personalities, to sacrifice their convictions to the popular breeze, be it noble acquiescence to constituents or a rapacious grab for votes. Byrd did this too. In 1942 he joined the Ku Klux Klan, moved up the ranks, and told a prominent segregationist, “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt … than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels.” He quit the Klan before his run for the House in 1952 (he was elected to the Senate six years later), but for years looked back fondly on the society that first extolled his qualities as a leader. In 1964, part of a coalition of Southern Democrats, he filibustered the Civil Rights Act, but later voted for the 1968 civil rights legislation championed by Lyndon Johnson. By the end of his life, Byrd saw his liaisons with white supremacists and his opposition to racial equality as a stain on his career, and to his grave he was emphatic with regret. In a way, Byrd the man mirrored the trajectory of race relations in our country, reaching, after a century besot with war and class struggle, a kind of moral denouement amounting to reconciliation, a broad step toward total resolution. He was known for bestowing on his home state a generous annual sum — surpassing $1 billion by the early ’90s — viewed by many as flagrant pork, by others, badly needed relief. He was a man of diverse pursuits that didn’t always pertain to bills, remembered as the one who first brought C-SPAN cameras to the Senate chambers, who knew parliamentary procedure so well he managed to have absent senators arrested and forced back on the floor for a vote. During the Michael Vick debacle he delivered impassioned speeches in defense of man’s best friend. In the last year of his life he was the linchpin vote against a filibuster of the universal health care bill, a position he no doubt found redemptive, given his past. Most of all, like many enduring men and women, Senator Byrd was an enigma, a maverick before the word became loaded, a man who, much like his country, made his share of mistakes, but could at once look back on them while marching forward.

Strasburg Syndrome

Baseball will always be the same, no matter how much it isn’t the same. You can dress it up all you want with mascot races, raffle drawings, over-priced hot dogs, home-run explosions and astronomical salaries, but there will always be small boys down by the dugout, staring longingly at the kid pitcher, seeing their someday selves. There will always be older people sitting in the shady seats under bleachers, taking it all in, remembering. There will always be guys in T-shirts, sons and fathers with matching mitts, suburban college kids basking in beer, guys posing with the portraits of legends like DiMaggio, Mantle and Cobb. There will always be phenoms. That’s what the Washington Nationals have right now: an out-and-out, genuine, dyed-in-the-fastball phenom and All-American young guy with a beard stubble and a hundred-mile-an-hour whiffer. That would be Stephen Strasburg, the rookie sensation pitcher who, in four starts since coming up from the minors like a savior, has won two, lost one, and struck out a ton. He’s young, unassuming, professional, married and throws a ball that sinks like the Titanic on its last breath. That’s what a group of seniors from the Georgetown Senior Center, still game in their own way, and still reeling with memories from the loss of founder Virginia Allen, got to see for a trip to the ballpark led by Jorge Bernardo, driving the van and leading the way. They ate hot dogs, stayed out of the sun, they cheered as grandmother and grandson (Marta Mejia and Sebastian Carazo), aunt and nephew (Helen Adams and Gerard Duckett) and mother and daughter (Janice Rahimi and Jamila), or as themselves, like Gloria Jiminez, Jane Markovic, Betty Snowden, Betty Hoppel and volunteer Mary Meyer. Some cheered as old diehard Chicago baseball fans, like Vivian Lee, who, as the presidential mascot race came up, remembered the ways of White Sox owner Bill Veeck, Jr., who was the first great baseball promoter. “People thought he was a little bit crazy,” she said. “In Chicago, you were back in the 1950s and probably now a White Sox Fan or a Cubs fan. I was a White Sox fan. We lived in Hyde Park.” We reminisced, rattled off old names: Early Wynn, Chico Carresquel, Minnie Minoso, Rocky Colavito, Nellie Fox and so on. Baseball lives on like that, in the reciting of names. Down by the field, before the game, Strasburg was warming up: raised leg, follow through, intense concentration, red uniform on green field. Cameras were clicking in the sun. The game was like a slow, teasing dance. Strasburg struck out nine, but gave up nine hits, most of them, strangely, on two-strike counts. It may be that the kid doesn’t know how to throw a bad pitch on purpose, which is a learned thing with time. In front of us, a young man was yelling and screaming, drowning out the occasional “yikes” from our group. He could have been Strasburg — except for the tattoos, the nose piercing, the fanatic eyes. But he did sport a wobbly chin beard and he bounced up, hand held high, before I realized he was high-fiving. He ran down the row of the Georgetown ladies and high-fived them all after another Strasburg strike out. That’s the game, folks. It ended 1-0 for the Kansas City Royals, on dinkers and dubious hits and on nothing much for us. But everyone will remember the afternoon, the silence on the field, the shadows, the stillness until the windup and the pitch. That was baseball, the day the folks from the Georgetown Senior Center came to watch.

Too Much Doublespeak at Chairman Forum

On July 8, city council chairman candidates Kwame Brown and Vincent Orange squared off at a public forum held in the basement of Georgetown’s Latham Hotel, one of several debates between the pair in recent weeks, as the days leading up the Democratic primary in September begin to wind down. At the forum, during which the two men alternately delivered extemporaneous responses to policy and ethics questions submitted by Georgetown’s community leaders and the public, it was disappointing to hear from both men what amounted to little more than canned, anemic responses to the issues confronting Georgetown today. Granted, the chairman race has been and will be overshadowed by the Fenty-Gray mayoral battle, and Georgetowners are probably still a little puzzled why their own councilmember withdrew his bid right out of the gate, despite earlier indications that he would go head to head with Brown for the council’s highest seat. But even though neither candidate lives in Georgetown, should we be impressed by their coy and cautious responses to the issues confronting the neighborhood? At best, the two spoke obliquely. When CAG President Jennifer Altemus asked about Georgetown University’s 10-year campus plan, specifically whether the council chairman would “ensure that the community’s concerns are given great weight when the [Zoning Commission] votes on the plan,” Brown called for “transparency” and “consensus” without bringing much to the table. Orange was a little more direct, declaring that “residents always come first,” but seemed to lose rhetorical momentum when the conversation turned to finance, dusting off the old “tax and spend” line that seems to lose teeth more and more every time it gets used. At worst, the candidates seemed to pursue contradictory objectives. While both endorsed tax breaks and increased government spending for local, privately owned businesses in Georgetown (and the District), each later said he supported incentives for large luxury retailers to entice them back into the city. That balancing act will surely prove a headache for District legislators down the road, the future chairman included.

Georgetown’s Newest Parking Lot?

  -In the June 30 issue of The Georgetowner, you gave your implicit endorsement of a recent decision to allow left turns to be made from M Street eastbound onto Wisconsin Avenue northbound (“Return of the left turn,” GT Observer). The decision was "coaxed" by Ward 2 councilman Jack Evans and others, probably those living on the side streets north of M Street, which were getting added traffic. According to DDOT officials, they intend to eliminate parking spaces on the south side of M Street to help traffic flow. While the concept sounds great in theory, one has to wonder whether or not this will add to an already horrific traffic jam on M Street. If anyone truly believes that the entire curb-side lane on M Street will remain empty all day, they are dreaming. Those spaces will be occupied by delivery trucks, UPS and FedEx trucks, and the everyday assortment of illegally parked service trucks and cars. Why should anyone believe that these assorted drivers, who park illegally already, will not merely use this new space as just another area to park illegally? And if that does occur, and since the District police force barely enforces illegal parking on M Street now, this new rule will make M Street even more difficult for all drivers, both residents of Georgetown as well as commuters coming into the District. Gary Langbaum Water Street, Georgetown