Today’s Nerdity and a Neologism

In my work today, I came across two coards* that have sunset dates in the coming months. One, the Tenant Advisory Council, sunsets next Monday, and the other, the Advisory Committee to the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs, sunsets at the end of March. I mention these specifically in the event that either of these issues is important to you and you think the sunset of the coard is a concern.

More generally, however, I raise the issue in this space because I was asked  the question “why?”

I don’t really know. I wasn’t around for the establishment of either of these coards (now I’m just using the word as much as possible to engrain it in your mind). I have been told, though, that the Office of Boards and Commissions has the intent to include a sunset date in all Orders establishing new coards. This is so that coards don’t exist on paper long after they have ceased existing in fact…or continue to exist long after their purpose is met. I don’t know how consistently this has been applied, and I don’t know if the length of time between establishment and sunset is approximately the same for each coard or if context/substance/policy/politics come into play. It would be an interesting thing to look into.

But tonight I’m rearranging furniture. Remind me later?


*This started as a typo in a tweet, but I decided I like it as an intentional abbreviation for “board/commission/committee/council/group/panel/taskforce.” Another thing that I would love to look into but don’t have time is the difference (if there is one) between each of these types of entity.

Ramblings on employment of DC residents

Earlier today there was a hearing on Bill 19-486, the Unemployed Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2011. As the title indicates, it is about adding “unemployment status” to the list of protected classes in DC’s human rights law, so that employers can’t look at a long gap in an applicant’s resume and decide there is something inherently wrong with the applicant and not hire him or her.

I did not watch the hearing, but I did glean snippets via Twitter.*

The snippet that made me pay any attention at all to the hearing is this, courtesy of Jim who actually did watch the hearing: Chairman Brown finds it insulting to say that DC residents are not getting jobs because they aren’t qualified.

That may be. Though “we” all recognize this problem, that there is a gap between the jobs that exist and the skill level of the people looking. This is why there are efforts made to bring different types of industry to the city. This is (part of) why there is so much attention paid to school reform and school improvement. This is why attempts are made every year to make the Summer Youth Employment Program more meaningful. Can you fairly say “you’re insulting us by implying XX” and then turn around and say “XX”?

But more to the point… that’s not the point! The point isn’t DC residence. It’s employment status.

So here’s an idea. Let’s stick to the topic at hand and not assume inflammatory intent. ‘Kay?


*I realize that this is not a good way to make an informed analysis of the proceedings, but it is much more fun.


If you didn’t guess from my previous post on the matter, I have a bit of a love affair with the Freedom of Information Act. (This may have something to do with my own searches for information that should be public, if only anyone knew where to find it.)

One of my tweeps recently received a response to a FOIA appeal he filed, and he posted it online. It is an important decision because it holds that ANCs (Advisory Neighborhood Commissions) are subject to DC’s FOIA. I thought this was obvious, but now it exists in writing.

Jim pointed out, and I think rightly so, that there is still a problem with charging for documents that ought to be posted online and available without a request, but this is a start.

Lazy government workers

Government workers get a bad rap. We’re supposedly all lazy, unhelpful, want to give people the run-around, etc.

My experience has, for the most part, been the opposite. I confess personally to some minor irritation when someone from outside the government wants some sort of help from me, but that’s because they are generally on the phone and I hate talking on the phone. (Want something from me? Send me an email. Or ask via Twitter.)

But I’ve had two experiences recently that, while not implying laziness on the part of the other people involved, are worth sharing for their shake-my-head-ness.*

Remember, I’m trying to figure out the effective status of old Mayor’s Orders. (And doing so by organizing them by agency with additional information.) This is my job. But in some cases, I need to know what’s actually going on as a practical matter, and for that, I have to go to the agencies.

So. Experience one. There is a Mayor’s Order from 1984 regarding proceeds from vending machine sales.  Back in 2007 I heard a rumor that proceeds from the vending machines in the Wilson Building operated as described in this Order, with some going to the Mayor’s Office and some going to the Council, depending on which floor the vending machine was on. But I had no empirical proof that this is the case. So I emailed my contact in the Chief Financial Officer’s office to ask as a practical matter what happened with vending machine proceeds, citing the Mayor’s Order. Her response? OAG can tell you if the Order is still in effect. Well no, actually I’m the one who can tell you if the Order is still in effect but I can’t!**

Experience two. Rulemaking from 1981. Refers to the Department of Recreation (this is two name changes ago). I want to know if, again as a practical matter, the rulemaking is still in effect. (Not a DPR rulemaking. Another agency.) I send my question, and the response I get? “Attached are the sections of the DCMR that respond to your question.” No, I told you what sections of the DCMR I wanted to know about! I have them already.

So please, if I ever ask you for information, please do not just parrot back what I’ve told you I know.



*It might be that I don’t know how to ask questions.

**It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that an Order can be technically still effective but so far out of date that no one pays attention to it. There’s an Order that requires everything to be submitted to the Mayor on floppy disk. I doubt that anyone in the Mayor’s office even has a floppy drive on their computer.