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January 3, 1996

Dear Weekly Readers

Dear Weekly Readers:

Happy New Year.

I trust that you have cleared out your inboxes and are ready for your new dc.story (junk) mail. With the commencement of a new year, I will commence with a new format-a kind of moderated discussion group for writers and lurkers alike.

Here's how I hope dc.story works. Send me messages. Sign off with your name and email address. I will review the messages and post all those I can fit into a weekly message. I may even comment on a few. Or invite you to comment on messages. Maybe I will even send messages to experts who know what they are talking about.

dc.story can become a great vehicle for sharing community information with others. Palisades. Talk to Forest Hills. Chevy Chase. Tell Cleveland Park how to run a merchant's association. Every subscriber gets to become cub reporter Jimmy Olson.

Please help us increase our mailing list by sending this message to a local friend on email with a note imploring them to subscribe.

A Bitter Blow for Labor

This is unofficial, but I was told that the union resoundingly lost at Politics & Prose by a 20-8 vote or some such. supposedly, the original City Paper story on the dispute was somewhat overblown. The union advocates were a minority of mail handlers...but you'll have to check this out.

Any Weather Experts?

Another topic, possibly trivial. Have you ever checked on the District's policy on government closings/delays because of weather? On December 20--the day of the last ice storm--I was called for jury duty at 8 a.m. I duly checked TV at 6 a.m. and found a bunch of school/government closings but nothing on D.C. government. So I showed up, only to be told that the courts were opening at 10 a.m. Then I went to renew my driver's license and was told that the whole D.C. government was opening 2 hours late. I am fairly sure this was not announced at 6 a.m., but in any case this was a pretty mild storm as storms go. Is it really necessary to close our government at the drop of a hat (or flake of snow)? I raise this only because it's sure to happen again!

Bribery Might Help

After the recent snowstorm, ice covered many DC streets. As many as 3 days after the storm, this situation persists on many of the streets in my neighborhood (Forest Hills). Do you have any idea how the government decides who is worthy of sand/salt or plowing? Is there anything one can do, other than bribery, to increase one's chances of getting attention?

I'd suggest the usual. Call your councilmember for constituent services. I agree with you, BTW. I've been driving every day and it doesn't look like they used very much salt. Though one look at my car might convince you otherwise.

Also, I know you asked for news and not questions, but perhaps you would be willing to let us know whether, given the unbelievably absurd budget situation, there is any renewed fervor for Ward 3's secession from DC, or for other dramatic action like setting up an alternative governmental body to which we pay taxes and which will take care of basic services for us?

I keep checking but there is little going on. The legal obstacles are enormous, more so than in most cities. I'd hate to say it, but if you're that concerned, I'd suggest moving. I just can't see Ward 3 breaking off from the city in our lifetimes. Since I love to predict, I think we'll have a problem with the delivery of basic services for a long time. The city workforce was hired and trained as an employment program--not as a workforce. It's still managed that way, though not as much as it was during the 1980s. Finances are easy to fix compared to management problems. And service management is about the only area left for the mayor to administer. So you can anticipate that service won't be turned around like a laser. Sorry for bad tidings on the holiday eve. But heck--it's only my opinion. Let's hope I'm wrong.

As always, we look forward to your continued reports, which we greatly enjoy. Happy Holidays and many thanks for a great publication!

The Arena Tax

Am I the only one in this city who didn't know all businesses are being forced (i.e., required) to pony up $50. For (theoretically) the arena? This tribute is extremely annoying to me. Hey, I only wrote about the arena tax about a dozen time. And I think the minimum tax is $100. BTW: Since revenues are low, the council has authority to impose the tax twice per year.

New Clyde's Opens in Friendship Heights

Actually this newest Clyde's got "national" press in Vegetarian Times. It seems they'll have an extensive vegetarian >selection available. For those of us trying to maintain a modicum of kashruth outside the home, that's good news.

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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