Speakers Table

Why Patrick Mara IS the Best Choice

April 17, 2013

My friend Peter Rosenstein wrote in The Dish about why he opposes Patrick Mara in the April 23rd special election for At-Large D.C. Council.

Peter and I agree more often than we disagree. When we disagree, it is always respectfully.

Like Peter, I am a Democrat.

Before I met Patrick Mara, I had never voted for a Republican.

In 2008, Mara earned my vote when he was running against Kwame Brown and Michael Brown. They won that election; a result that didn’t really turn out to be a good thing for the District.

Mara is a socially progressive Republican. He supports marriage equality, the right of women to make their own health care and reproductive decisions, and the District’s gun control laws.

Maybe social issues are not high on your list of priorities for the D.C. Council.

How about education?

Mara is one of the most active, hardest working School Board members in the District.  

But don’t believe me. Here is what The Current Newspaper said when it endorsed him: “Mara is the best choice -- sure to bring the diligent work ethic he has shown on the State Board of Education to the job of legislator. We heartily endorse his candidacy.”

Not sold on the Current? No problem. Here is what the Washington Post wrote when it endorsed Mara: “Patrick Mara, in our judgment, is the best choice, offering a record of energetic service to the community marked by a thoughtful approach to the issues and a willingness to speak his own mind.”

OK, so we know Mara is good on schools, works hard and is thoughtful.  


How about ethics and honest government?

Mara speaks passionately about the need to protect our tax dollars from crooks and cronies. Just today he issued a statement about a corruption scandal that seems likely to get messy as more facts become known.

The environment?

The Sierra Club endorsed Mara.

The economy?

The Chamber of Commerce endorsed Mara.

Quite a coalition.

And that is why Mara’s opponents are hammering away on him. Because he can win, and because he will shake up the Council.

Some of Mara’s opponents are doing worse things than hammering: they are nefarious.

Peter wrote that he is concerned about a Washington Post story the focus of which is a contract Mara signed. In 2009, Mara agreed to raise money for a non-profit organization. The agreement said he would contact prior campaign donors to seek their support. That could be a violation of rules, but is likely not. It seems to be an honest mistake or lack of knowledge about an esoteric rule. Indeed, Mara says the contract was not properly worded and the work he did amounted to nothing more than a hill of beans.

But here is the nefarious part: the contract cited in the Post story may have been stolen from Mara. I spoke with Mara about the issue. He says that only two people ever had proper access to the contract. He believes it was improperly obtained.


Not really. But you get the picture.

And how convenient ... That picture gets developed in the closing days of the election. All the signs of smear campaign.

I doubt many voters were rattled by the Post story. We've seen this kind of eleventh-hour mud-flinging before.

I am voting for Patrick Mara. He is still the only Republican for whom this Democrat has ever voted. I am confident the D.C. Council will be a better legislative body with Mara on it.

I made my case at NBC Washington and I appreciate The Dish for allowing me to make it here, too.


Written by Chuck Thies, political consultant and NBC Washington columnist


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Union Station to Georgetown

March 12, 2013

Want to catch a streetcar and be in Union Station in 15 – 20 minutes during morning rush?  The District of Columbia is scoping alternative analysis for premium transit service between Union Station and Georgetown? 

Recently, Georgetown stakeholders from the Georgetown BID, Georgetown Business Association, Citzens Association and Georgetown University met to discuss values and requests for DDOT’s Union Station to Georgetown premium transit analysis.  The meeting participants all agreed that if the study could expand to include connecting areas to the west of Georgetown such as the Palisades and Fox Hall, with a longterm goal of areas to the north of Georgetown such as upper Wisconsin Avenue, NW to Cathedral these routes would be optimal for connecting Georgetown with mass-transit.

The key points submitted by Joe Sternlieb, CEO of the Georgetown BID, to DDOT are as follows:

1.    Travel time between Union Station and Georgetown should be as fast as possible – and a goal of travel time should be established.

2.    Headways should be as frequent as possible.

3.    The alternatives analysis should provide a chart listing the costs and trade-offs for faster and more frequent service.  

4.    The study area must include Georgetown University in order to connect the Georgetown campus with the Law School and SCS (Georgetown Downtown bldg.). 

5.    Georgetown should not be the end of the line (westbound).  The analysis should ensure that the line can be extended to the west in the future. 

6.    The analysis should include alternatives for interconnectivity between the K Street line and public transit that runs north on Wisconsin Avenue from K Street to both the Safeway and Tenleytown Metro. 

Meeting participants included Joe Sternlieb of GBID, Susan Armstrong of Georgetown University, Greg Casten of GBA, Nick Cibel of GBA,  Hazel Denton of CAG, Josh Hermias, GBID, Janine Schoonover of GBA, and Jim Wilcox of GBA.  The ANC Commissioners were also invited, however, unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.  The Georgetown Business Association Board of Directors voted “All in Favor” to support the scope of the study with many of the small business owners excited at the prospect of making it easier for residents and tourists to get to Georgetown to shop and dine.  Greg Casten proposed making a dedicated street car route connecting Book Hill to the Georgetown Waterfront with a stop at Wisconsin & M.

Joe Sternlieb, CEO of the Georgetown BID stated, “As more people move to our city and region, we need solutions that connect neighborhoods without worsening traffic.  It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that the Georgetown Streetcar route can be extended easily west past the University and into the Palisades and beyond.  We want to make sure that as many neighborhoods as possible can eventually be connected to premium transit services in the District.”

For more information on the proposed streetcars and their route, please visit www.unionstationtogeorgetown.com.

Written by Janine Schoonover, CEO of JSW Group

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Georgetown Art Show Draws Crowd to House of Sweden

February 17, 2013

Cindy Howar with her watercolors (Photo by: Betsy Cooley) Cindy Howar with her watercolors

The opening reception for Georgetown ARTS 2013 drew over 440 people to the House of Sweden to view the works of 31 Georgetown artists.

Art projected along the halls (Photo by: Betsy Cooley) Art projected along the halls

Georgetown Arts 2013, the 4th annual art show of the Citizens Association of Georgetown started with the gala opening reception Thursday evening and also included a fascinating Artists Salon on Saturday with presentations by artists Guy Fairlamb, Joan Konkel, Sidney Lawrence, Jane Lepscky, Edward "Bear" Miller and Mary Wagner, who discussed their inspiration and experience, as well as their unique techniques.

Clare Scrimgeour with her painting (Photo by: Betsy Cooley) Clare Scrimgeour with her painting

Artist Joan Konkel, who works with layers of metal and mesh to create low relief wall sculpture, conducted a demonstration of how to manipulate her signature mesh material to create different color and pattern effects. And artist Sidney Lawrence walked the audience through three of his featured art pieces, which included two mixed-media reliefs of ocean surfaces and a panoramic ink drawing of Stockholm. 

Joan Konkel describes her mesh compositions (Photo by: Betsy Cooley) Joan Konkel describes her mesh compositions

A very active committee worked for months organizing the four-day show which included oil and watercolor paintings, prints, sculpture and photography. Chair Laura-Anne Tiscornia was assisted by Cassandra Blohowiak doing public relations, and new Georgetowner and recent Corcoran graduate, Jennie Buhler designing and installing the show.

Ingrid and Ben Mast enjoying the show (Photo by: Betsy Cooley) Ingrid and Ben Mast enjoying the show

House of Sweden, lead sponsor of the show, was graciously managed by  Cecelia Browning and Andrew Osborne. Other sponsors were Cynthia Howar & Washington Fine Properties, Atmosphere Lighting (which provided enhanced lighting for the show), PNC Bank, The Phoenix, Cox Graae + Spack Architects, Appalachian Spring, Clay Bourne Decorator, and Washing Framers’ Workroom.

For a complete list of participating artists, images of their work and a price list, contact the CAG office: cagmail@cagtown.org.

Written by Betsy Cooley, Executive Director, Citizens Association of Georgetown

Perfect setting for art show (Photo by: Betsy Cooley) Perfect setting for art show

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