Archive for July, 2009

Making Sure it All Measures Up

Inspector Charles Sampson allows one of the summer youth to assist in the price check.

Inspector Charles Sampson allows one of the summer youth to assist in the price check.

Recently, the communications team was given the opportunity to step outside of the office and see what the folks over in Weights and Measures do on a daily basis. We loaded up the cars and drove to the newly renovated section of Columbia Heights. There, we went to Target and did a price-check. Price-checking is necessary because it ensures that customers are not being ripped off. The point is to pick up 85 random items and make sure that the figures in the computer correspond with the sales tickets/stickers that the consumer sees. It’s easy to be ripped off these days because not many people take the time to make sure that the receipt and the price tag have the same value.

Another thing that causes people to be cheated out of their money is total trust in computers. Inspector Charles Sampson said, “People tend to forget that OTHER people program computers, therefore there are bound to be mistakes.” DCRA only handles overages meaning that the companies only get reprimanded if they advertise that their products are cheaper than what they really are. Luckily for Target, when we made our visit, there were no discrepancies because fines can go up to $100 PER (wrongly priced) item.

After leaving Target we met up with another inspector, Lawrence Taylor, at Giant to see how they test scales. Mr. Taylor goes to the stores with his own weights to make sure that the scale is not faulty in its reading. After moving the weights to each quarter of the scale Mr. Taylor marks the scale with either a green sticker (certified) or a red sticker (uncertified). Removal of the sticker by anyone other than an inspector or someone working on the scale can result in a $500 fine.

Inspections such as these were thought to be unnecessary by some around the time that computers became more widely used, but it’s always important to have a real person monitoring the computers. Inspector Sampson says “it’s very rare that a store won’t have any errors.” DCRA definitely does a good service to the people of the District by making sure that they aren’t being taking advantage when they go shopping.

Summer youth, Kenneth Allen and Duane Bumbray assisted in the inspections.

Darion Parker


Friday Funny

I hope you all have a great weekend! —Ms. Kemp

From: Randy Glasbergen

My Experience At DC General

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is very active in

Eunik Jones, Writer

Eunik Jones, Writer

the District. They have two different locations–941 North Capitol Street, NE and 1900 Massachusetts Avenue, SE, better known as DC General. There are summer youth working at both locations.  Recently, I had the opportunity to visit DC General.  I was given a tour of the building and I interviewed Teresa Malone.  Ms. Malone is an administrative worker she has been with DCRA for 8 years. She explained to me that they do not receive a lot of face to face contact with customers and most of their business is handled over the phone.

Ms. Malone stated that work is enjoyable and rewarding once you have helped a customer. After having an interview with Ms. Malone, I learned that any place of business in the District of Columbia has to have a Certificate of Occupancy. Ms. Malone also told me that there are inspection codes to help protect the public.  Inspection codes are very important to DCRA because the purpose of the agency is to protect the consumer. She also talked to me about permits such as: electrical, fireworks, street vending, construction, plumbing, and elevators.

The most important step in construction is zoning. Zoning is important because it helps ensure that every building in the District is properly placed. The people who make codes are engineers, officials, politicians and firemen. The experience that I had at the D.C General was fun and unforgettable and I hope to go back one day again.

Eunik Jones

Healthy Alternatives for Lunch!

Fresh fruit is always a good alternative to fried snacks.

Fresh fruit is always a good alternative to fried snacks.

Limited funds and time are definitely things to consider while on lunch break. Being situated in the heart of downtown DC makes it even harder to find anything for a reasonable price – but it is possible! It’s important to not go to lunch starving. Bring a small snack to eat right before lunch so that when you do go to lunch you don’t settle for the first thing you see. It’s very crucial that you don’t settle for the first thing you see because this can lead to making expensive and/or unhealthy food choices.

Recently, I took a trip to Union Station to scope out the area. On the Upper Levels there are definitely some healthy alternatives, such as Au Bon Pain, but they also happen to be very pricey.  However I was surprised at Sbarro’s buffet (under $10) which featured several fresh fruit platters, baked chicken, and rice and vegetables. If that doesn’t do it for you Sbarro also offers their famous pizza for around $5 per slice. By the way, don’t feel bad about eating pizza! Depending on your toppings, pizza is actually pretty healthy! The cheese provides you with a daily serving of protein and calcium. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which has been named one of the best foods for men by Men’s Health Magazine. Just DON’T overdue it! If you’re not very active, all the carbohydrates from the bread will cause weight gain.

Some of the healthy choices at Sbarro.

Some of the healthy choices at Sbarro.

While McDonald’s does offer healthy salads and snack wraps for cheap, beware of salad dressing. Dressing is very tasty, but it is also the reason why many of the salads will be high in calories, especially thicker sauces such as ranch and blue cheese.

While at Union Station, STAY AWAY FROM THE BOTTOM FLOOR…well at least until they open the new Subway. The lure of several different ethnic foods is strong on the lower level but many are made quickly and have thick, greasy sauces and fried foods. Not to mention some of them are VERY expensive.

And once you get your food avoid sitting down…you know we only have 30 minutes!

I will be following up with other places to eat in the near future!

Darion Parker

Benefits of Bringing Your Lunch

Fruit is always a great item to include in a bagged lunch.
Fruit is always a great item to include in a bagged lunch.

Some people enjoy bringing $10 or so every single day to pick up, order, or take out a lunch. Partially because the food is good, or maybe they’re just too lazy to make their own lunch at home.  As growing teens and young adults, our bodies deserve a nutritional meal more often.  It isn’t like you have to make a Caesar salad with light dressing and gourmet croutons early in the morning, but there are surely alternatives to the meals we limit ourselves to.

So, what is a good lunch to bring to work? Well, there are plenty of yummy, healthier options that can easily be made right at home. Take, for example, the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  You can use different types of flavors and breads, or you could make a nice deli sandwich or sub; just meat, lettuce, bread, and whichever cheeses and spreads you would prefer. You can also make salads, leftover dinners, or even bring in a frozen entree.

Grocery stores and supermarkets are filled with options. It just depends on how creative and involved you want to become when making your lunch. Youth employee Sardera Thorne says that she usually brings in leftovers that she cooks herself.  When asked what her ideal lunch would be, she said, “Soup.” Everyone has their own preferences.  Jazmine Singletary, another youth employee, likes both going out to eat and bringing in a lunch. When she has brought them in, she says she eats “frozen dinners and what her mother makes,” but she really prefers going out to buy lunch during the day. Her ideal meal would be chicken.

Looking at it from another prospective, my mother, DCRA Employee Cheryl Randall-Thomas, says she “prefers bringing in lunch because I don’t like how much it ends up costing,” which makes a lot of sense in today’s economy. She stated that “When you bring lunch, you know exactly what you’re eating (wholesome, not greasy, good amounts of food, etc.)” Her ideal lunch would be soup and salad, and she usually makes the lunch herself. Mrs. Randall-Thomas believes it is better to bring in a lunch from home because she has noticed that you can get more out of bought groceries over a week’s span than one day’s meal however, she still enjoys a hot prepared meal every once in a while.  Another Summer Youth employee, Jeremy Bennett, says that he usually goes out to eat somewhere everyday. His ideal lunch would be Chinese food. “As far as finances go, it would be better to bring lunch,” Bennett says about whether or not bringing in lunch is better than buying a lunch. It all just depends on how you are feeling a particular day, or even how your personal finances are measuring up.

Also, choose foods that won’t drag your day down or stuff you. It’s better to eat a single heave or main item with snacks on the side than a few heavy items or all snacks. There are also plenty of options for drinks to bring – sodas, juice, coffee, etc. After asking the opinions of some of the other summer youth employees, it seemed as if bringing lunch is the best way to go. Once you realize how much better bringing in lunch is, you’ll begin thinking of more meal ideas, and someone else may even envy your lunch!

Lesley Thomas


DCRA SYEP Polo Shirts: Hit or Miss?

The DCRA summer youth polo shirts have been well received by the young employees.

The DCRA summer youth polo shirts have been well received by the young employees.

In the past, being properly dressed for work has been a problem for some of the District summer youth employees.  Summer youth have been sent home from work because they were improperly dressed or were not aware of how to dress business casual. This year, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has provided youth with polo style shirts with the summer youth employment logo on them. Youth have been asked to wear their shirts every Monday so that at least once a week the summer youth have a uniformed look. Most of the youth appreciate the fact that DCRA has given them shirts for work. Some students reported that they would appreciate some small changes in the shirts, such as a difference in color.

I asked some youth on a scale of 1 to 10 how they felt about the shirts and many of the youth appreciate the fact that DCRA has helped them with a start to dress more business casual for work. In my opinion, the decision by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to provide every youth in this program with a shirt is very helpful. It allows youth to see how much they are appreciated by the program.

I had the opportunity to get some honest opinions from summer youth workers. I asked them exactly how they felt about the polo style shirt and I got some really good feedback. Summer youth Jazmine Singletary reported that she felt the shirts were kind of masculine for females but she does enjoy the fact that she does not have to find something to wear on Mondays. If Jazmine could change the color of the shirt she would feel better if the color were lighter. I also talked with summer youth worker Chidiomimi Ukwuani. She actually likes the color of the shirt but would like to change the day that that shirts are suppose to be worn. She said she would rather wear her shirt on a Friday. After interviewing youth based on their feelings about the polo style shirts most youth appreciate them and understand why DCRA feels like the shirts are an essential part of the summer program.

Dajah Blackwell

Exploring Your Career Options

Check out some of the highlights from last Friday’s second professional development workshop.  DCRA summer youth employment program participants were treated to some great words of wisdom and insight from panelists in four different professions.