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Dorothy Brizill, DCWatch
Complaint to DC Board of Elections and Ethics about publication of a false issue of the DC Register by proponents of the Video Lottery Terminal Initiative
June 7, 2004




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202-234-6982, fax 202-234-6982

June 7, 2004

Ms. Wilma A. Lewis
DC Board of Elections and Ethics
441 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chairman Lewis:

As you are aware, the DC Board of elections and Ethics, at its June 2, 2004, meeting, scheduled a public hearing on June 9, 2004, to determine if the Lottery Expansion Initiative of 2004 is the proper subject matter for an initiative and, if so, to formulate its short title and summery statement. The Board's decision was predicated, however, on the revised text for the initiative's being published in the DC Register on June 4.

Enclosed is the text of an article I wrote for my web site, DCWatch.com, that details the unusual circumstances and unlawful manner in which a supplement to the June 4, 2004, Register containing the text of the slots initiative came to be published.

As you are aware, the DC Code and Title 1 of the DC Municipal Regulations are very clear regarding the DC Register. DC Code §§2-504(a), 2-554, and 2-558(b) are applicable, as are, especially, DC Code §§2-553(a) and (b)(2):

(a) The District of Columbia Office of Documents shall also supervise, manage, and direct the preparation, editing, and publishing of the District of Columbia Register which shall serve as the only official legal bulletin in the District of Columbia government and the temporary supplement of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.

(b) The District of Columbia Register shall contain the entire text of the following . . .:

(2) Every notice of public hearing issued by an agency.

Because of the improprieties surrounding the preparation and publication of the supplement to the June 4th edition of the DC Register, I do not believe that the supplement can be considered a true and official issue of the Register. If that is the case, then I believe that the June 9, 2004, hearing of the Board must be postponed until such time as the revised text for the initiative is properly published in the DC Register.

Dorothy Brizill

cc: Kenneth McGhie, Legal Counsel, BOEE
Alice Miller, Executive Director, BOEE
Robert Bobb, City Administrator

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The Best Government Money Can Buy, in themail, June 6, 2004
Dorothy Brizill, dorothy@dcwatch.com

Proponents of the Lottery Expansion Initiative of 2004 (http://www.dcwatch.com/election/init18.htm) are facing some very tight deadlines if they are to get their Initiative on the November general election ballot, as they want to. They filed the Initiative late, on April 22 — and they can't afford to lose any time. To get on the November ballot, any Initiative has to file approximately 17,500 valid petition signatures with the Board of Elections and Ethics by July 6. The Lottery Expansion Initiative would authorize 3,500 slot machines, or "video lottery terminals," in a complex at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, NE. The Board of Elections and Ethics will hold a public hearing this Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. to determine whether the Initiative is the proper subject matter for an initiative and, if so, to formulate its short title and summary statement. The BOEE had originally scheduled the hearing for June 2, but at that meeting the initiative's proponent, businessman Pedro Alfonso, and his lawyer, former councilmember John Ray, submitted a new text for the Initiative that differed significantly from the initial version that had been published in the DC Register. So the Board insisted that it be republished and that the hearing be rescheduled. The DC Register is the District's official legal bulletin. It is published every Friday by the Office of the Secretary's Office of Documents and Administrative Issuances. The firm deadline for publication in the Register is noon on Thursday of the week preceding publication. So, when John Ray stated emphatically at last Wednesday's BOEE hearing that he was sure the revised text of the initiative would be published two days later in Friday's Register, most people reacted with surprise and skepticism. But that Friday, June 4, a supplemental Part 2 of the DC Register, consisting only of the Initiative text, was mailed to its subscribers and delivered to government offices.

How did that happen? Text for the DC Register is submitted by government agencies; the Register is then formatted by the Office of the Secretary and printed and mailed under contract by the federal Government Printing Office. But this supplement was handled differently. On Thursday afternoon, the text of the revised Initiative was delivered to the Office of the Secretary by Margaret Gentry, a longtime aide to John Ray who originally filed the Initiative with the Board. When the Office of the Secretary finished formatting the supplement, Gentry picked up the copy and paid for having it duplicated at Kinko's. Gentry then returned to the Office of the Secretary and picked up a set of mailing labels that they ran for her, took them to the Post Office and paid for their mailing, and then personally delivered the copies that the Office of the Secretary normally delivers to DC government offices.

When the Office of the Secretary was initially asked about this unusual process on Friday afternoon, its initial reaction was denial. The office's spokeswoman originally claimed that the supplement was printed by the GPO in the usual way, and that the BOEE requested and paid for the expedited supplement. Two hours later, the spokeswoman admitted what had happened, but claimed that there had been a series of misunderstandings — that the Office of the Secretary had been led to believe that Margaret Gentry was an employee of BOEE, and that the proponents of the Initiative had misunderstood what BOEE told them, and thought that it would be all right for them to pay for printing and mailing a supplemental DC Register. Finally, on late Friday afternoon, the Secretary of the District, Sherryl Hobbs Newman, formerly Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, answered a telephone call. Although the Office of the Secretary is relatively small — only about 27 employees — and the publication of the DC Register is its single most important task, Ms. Newman said that she was completely unaware that a supplement to the DC Register had been published; that a private interest's publishing the DC Register was completely wrong and unauthorized; that she would immediately start an investigation to determine how it had happened; and that as far as she was concerned the supplement containing the Initiative's text wasn't an official DC government publication or a real DC Register at all.

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