The Year-End Wrap-Up Date
Dear Neighbors: Here's a hodgepodge of remaining items on my desk as I check out for the holiday season. As always, I welcome solicited material. Since this is now my hobby--not my living--please don't send me assignmentssend me solid information to share with your neighbors. Also, please pass this message to others in the community. We are now about 300 strong, but with ample room to grow.
Happy Holidays to everyone, especially to those of you seeing this message after the holiday. Good luck cleaning out your inboxes.
The Washington Business Journal ran the following headline last week: "Feisty Northwest Paper Back In Business." Look Mom, we're feisty. It's a perfect adjective. I wish I had thought of it first.
Say It Ain't So, Santa
Given my recent succumbing to a fabricated chocolate chip cookie story, I was reluctant to run a story about Santa's arrest. But arrested he wason December 12on the steps of Petito's in Woodley Park. Santa's crime? Singing Christmas carols at Petito's annual benefit for the National Children's Center. It appears that a Woodley Park neighbor did not take well to Santa impersonator Antonio Salvador Gonzales's vocal and keyboard rendition of Feliz Navidad. So s(he) called the cops.
Santa and the police reportedly got into a yelling match. One thing led to another and the police roughed up Santa, leaving him, according the Washington Times, with a chipped tooth, a busted lip, and a disorderly conduct charge. Put that in your stocking. The police are investigating the officers' conductone of the cops allegedly made a derogatory ethnic remark to Gonzalesand Gonzales, naturally, plans to fight the charge.
Wall Street watchers are predicting a heavier than usual delivery of coal on December 15, courtesy of a ticked-off Santa Claus.
We have word from American University Park that scavengers are still beating D.C.'s hired recyclers to the newspaper goods. "Lately (the scavengers) have become so bold that they are staging their raids in daylight, less than half an hour before the city's contractors make their rounds. I am wondering whether, if we catch these guys, it would be worthwhile to report their license numbers?"
Don't waste your time. Currently, scavenging is not illegal, kind of, sort ofat least, if the newspapers are picked up off your curb. The city might be able to make a legal case if the newspapers are tossed in District bins, but that premise has not been tested in court. The District's major hang-up is its lack of a coordinated approach to stopping the scavengers. Arresting suspects is a waste of time if no one prosecutes the perps. Department of Public Works officials have been kicking around methods for dealing with this problem for two yearsas has the city council. We'll give them a few more years before we get on their case.
Tired of waiting in (or on) line for a seat at the Cheesecake Factory? Not to fret. Beginning December 30, a new Clyde's will open in Chevy Chase in the former sites of the Hess Shoe Store and the Georgetown University Shop. The Washington Business Journal reports that this will be the largest Clyde's ever. Upstairs includes a replica of the Orient Express dining car (complete with murder victims, no doubt) and shipping models, including the Queen Mary (and perhaps Queen Betty witnessing a divorce decree). Downstairs features old racing cars. The restaurant will seat 520 people and employ 200 people, some of whom we hope will pay District taxes.
The State of the Union
The big vote about whether Politics and Prose employees would unionize was to have taken place last Friday. With all the holiday shopping (all right, eating), I never inquired about the vote. Does anyone know what happened?
Only One Left Standing
The Chevy Chase ANC has taken on the fire and rescue mantle for Ward 3, with actions akin to firing the responsible parties and rescuing the ward from possible calamity. In a December 12, 1995, letter, ANC Chair Anne Renshaw reminds Fire Chief Otis Latin that the Fire Department has only one working fire truck in the ward. "ANC 3G insists on comprehensive protection from the D.C. Fire and Emergency Rescue Services Department that must include, but not be limited to, coverage by three D.C. trucks, four D.C. engines, and two D.C. ambulance units based in Ward 3." And Renshaw, on behalf of the ANC, insists on written assurance that the equipment will be fully operational. So there.
Why all the fuss? Because Ward 3 took disproportionate hits from fire and rescue budget reductions and the fleet is falling apart. Some of Ward 3's fire and emergency services come from the Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) Rescue Squad, but the Chevy Chase ANC has been all over that issue because of gaps between the two agencies' coverage. At the ANC's insistence, B-CC is renegotiating its MOU with the District with advice from Renshaw and her fellow commissioners.
It's sometimes the little things that drive us mad--such as three parking meters across from the Crown Bookstorenear the bus parking lot--in Friendship Heights. The applicable parking sign permits two-hour parking from 8:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. So what do drivers do? They feed the meter until 6:30 p.m. and head for a cappuccino, figuring that the greatest threat to their car is from thieves. Not necessarily so, unfortunately. Below that sign is another signthe one no one seesthat prohibits parking from between 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Why can't we park in those three spots? Our ticket-bedecked roving reporter can't figure it out. Either can drivers of other cars who are ticketed daily in those spots. The only reason we can deduce is that the confusing sign is a consistent revenue generatorand a sure-fire way for the meter police to make their quotas.
Shanthi Not Impregnated By Insemination
Nancy Pratt, a Zoo curatorial intern, reports that recent endocrine analyses done on Shanthithe Asian elephant who mothered Kumari--indicate that she is not pregnant. The Zoo artificially inseminated Shanthi earlier this fall. Pratt said that "We are disappointed, but confident that we have shown that this new ultrasound-guided technique is an improvement over existing methods and that it will produce a pregnancy in a future attempt." The Zoo has begun using artificial insemination to breed elephants because of the stress (and expense) caused by dislocating elephants from their zoo herds to mate.
Patterson Blasts Council Politely
Last month, Ward Three Councilmember Kathy Patterson gave a speech before the Ward 3 democrats that garnered much attention in city political circles. (Given the state of city affairs, circle strikes me as more descriptive than usual.) In polite language, she blasts her fellow councilmembers for putting parochial interests ahead of city interestsand for essentially not doing their jobs. Strong words in polite prose. Let me give you an example. One might think that the chair of the District Public Works Committee might haul union leaders in to testify after their vexatious Thomas Circle protest before the Control Board. But do you think Harry Thomas (no relation) would call the union leaders to task? Not in our lifetime. Here are excerpts from Councilmember Kathy Patterson's November 28 speech to the Ward Three Democratic Committee on the need for reform of the District's legislative branch: the Council.
"A big factor in the financial collapse of the city is the persistent, institutional weakness of the Council of the District of Columbia. The very important corollary is this: to regain and strengthen the capacity for self-government, the District of Columbia requires strong, professional leadership from the legislative branch.
"We have oversight authority -- the ability to call public hearings, subpoena witnesses, create a bully pulpit. But we don't use it consistently and effectively. And we have budget authority--the mayor cannot spend money unless we have authorized it and to that end we draft budgets each year. We have the power of the legislative veto. What the Council has not done effectively is to exercise the power that it has.
"Between January 2 and today the Council has held oversight hearings on the operations of exactly 12 of the District's 86 executive branch agencies, including schools. This in the year that a control board became necessary; a year in which there has been no shortage of crises within the government. "Oversight is a habit -- a habit of practice and a habit of mind. We have developed and fostered neither the mindset nor the practice of scrutinizing every nook and cranny of our government, regularly, seriously, with better government as the goal.
"It is often said that we have a strong mayor, weak council form of government in the District. That is what I see in practice, but that is not what I read in the Charter. In these time, particularly, the District of Columbia needs a strong, professional legislature. It may not be the preference of the mayor--any mayor or any Councilmember aspiring to be mayor--to have a strong Council. But it certainly will serve the citizens who want more not less, self-government.
"Where do we go from here -- and what can you do? First, become involved in the elections for the Council and the school board next year. Seek out, and support, reform-minded candidates. Ask candidates their views on the Council--on oversight; on budget power. Take the measure of each candidate: are they go along-get along personalities? Why do they want to be on the Council? As a way-station to One Judiciary Square? Or do they want to be part of a strong legislature with all that that should entail? For incumbents the primary question is this: what have you done to stabilize the financial base of the District of Columbia?
"We need to overhaul the structure of the Council...We need fewer committees with more professional staff. "I supported the creation of the control board because the process gave the District breathing room in which to strengthen its capacity for self-government. But unless we exercise our prerogative and reform ourselves, we will be following someone else's vision -- not our own.
"Ten years from now someone is going to make an assessment of this time in the history of the District. That assessment will include two lists. On the first list will be the individuals in elected office, in appointed office, in positions of community leadership who made a difference in rebuilding this city. There will be a second list of elected officials who either did nothing or stood in the way of that rebuilding. I intend to be on that first list. That is my commitment to you."
Please send your response to Kathy Patterson at KpattDC3@aol.com and feel free to copy the message to me.
Events Near You
December 24: The Gefilte Fish Gala--a free alternative to the Matzo Ballwill be held at the Minutes nightclub on Christmas Eve.
January 25: David Chiszar, professor of animal behavior and herpetology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will present a lecture entitled Rattlesnakes, Venom and Predation. He will explore the variety of sensory systems rattlesnakes use to catch their prey. Chisazr will show that this acute sense of smell provides a perceptual dimension to the role of venom that complements its well-known toxic effects. He also promised that he will have some spectacular slides of the West! 7:30 p.m. at the Zoo's Education and Administration Building auditorium.
The Northwest Market Internet Services. If you are in the DC area and require top notch Internet access services or Website hosting and production please call Internet Interstate at 301-652-4468 or email email@example.com (www.intr.net). Cheers, Jeffrey "Feisty" Itell
Jeffrey Itell Publisher dc.story Tel: 202.244.4163 P.O. Box 11260 Fax: 202.362.1501 Washington, D.C. 20008-0460 "For People Who Live Inside the Beltway... But Outside the Loop."
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