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January 9, 1996

Which Came First: The Plow or the Plough

Dear Neighbors:

Whatever the pressing matters of the day, I know dc.story is going to hear a lot about snow plowing. I'm convinced that I'm more likely to see a horse-drawn plough on my little side street than a District vehicle this week. Yes, I know it's old news that the District provides worse services than surrounding counties, but it's still relevant (sometimes vital) to our lives. So send those snow stories forward. I can't plow you out but feel free to vent your frustration here. Just wait a few days for a decent interval. This isn't Buffalo and this was a bad storm.

Other news tidbits. The city is looking to raise water and sewer utility rates by as much as 80 percent over the next few years. Rates haven't been increased since 1986. Meanwhile, the utility funds have been raided to pay for other projects. Now the chickens have come home to roost and they want clean water. Also, Tuesday's Post (if you found it under the snow drifts) reports that Tony Williams, the District's Chief Financial Officer, requested the Control Board to fire city Budget Director Rodney Palmer. This is very good news. Observers were concerned that Williams would be a lap dog of the mayor but he has proven--so far--to be aggressive. And he controls the city's purse strings, except for whatever Mayor Barry has been able to wrangle through personnel maneuvers at the Lottery Board, nee District Slush Fund.

Jeffrey Itell

Commotion at Quebec

When I arrived home early from work on Thursday, January 4, there were 3 police cars and quite a bit of commotion at Quebec House South in Cleveland Park. From what people said, there was an argument amongst people on a floor above the sixth floor and a man was pushed through a window and plunged into the courtyard. Two women in the lobby heard and/or saw the incident. I presumed I would hear something about the incident on the news on Thursday or in the Washington Post on Friday... but there was no account of this incident. What can you dig up? It was certainly disturbing to hear of such a tragedy in my building.

Jill Poznick

Fresh Fields Opens in Tenleytown

I visited the new Fresh Fields in Tenleytown on its opening day, Friday, January 5, 1996. I arrived in the morning and was very impressed. The stock of items appeared to me to be considerably larger than the River Road store. One of the managers confirmed that the new place is, in fact, much larger: 23,000 sq. feet of floor space versus 14,000 for River Road. FYI: the store is in what used to be (and part of which still is) the parking structure between 40th St, NW and Wisconsin Ave. The primary entrance is through an alley between Guapos restaurant and Tenley Liquor. There is apparently another entrance for cars only on 40th St; however, that entrance puts you one floor below the store. There is no street entrance: even if you walk in (as I did), you must go into the parking garage. (There are also no windows in the store, perhaps for good reason. The exterior walls already have graffiti spray painted on them.) The manager assured me, however, that the parking situation is much better at Tenleytown than River Road. As you would expect, the quality and prices appear to be the same as at River Road -- but with more choices. All in all, an excellent addition to the neighborhood -- and welcome competition to Sutton Place and Wagshall's (sp?) in Spring Valley.

Greg Jones

Contacting Your Councilmember

For dc.story readers trying to contact me: my e-mail address is not an office address but a home PC address. Anyone who wishes to use it is welcome to do so, but if there isn't an immediate answer, please call my office, 724.8062, or the after-hours voice mail line, 537.5037.

Councilmember Kathy Patterson

The Recylcing Outrage

Thousands of us did our duties on the rainy morning of Tuesday, Jan. 2, putting all of those old bottles, cans and newspapers on our tree lawns (in my case at 6:15 a.m.] We were dismayed to find the junk still there upon returning home later in the day. Then the Post informed us in a story buried in the next day's paper that somehow the District had been unable to cut a check so the company didn't pick up anything. Service may be restored next week--in the meantime, the junk sits on the lawn (or are we all expected to take the soggy stuff back inside??] Granted the various fiscal problems around D.C., but is this the kind of thing we must blithely expect? Can anyone be held responsible??

Ted Gest >

That Darn 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?...

The "minimum" is $25, although a very few businesses (primarily our smaller "home alone" unincorporated, professional crowd) may in fact be exempt. Most, but not quite all, businesses are required to "pony up" or be subject to penalties. Theoretically all these businesses will benefit from the increased revenues generated by the arena. (Yeah, like I'm waiting for Abe Pollin to call on me to handle the tax returns for the new arena business!)

Brian Nielsen, CPA

Pan Handling Blues

Everyday on my commute to work by way of the Woodley Park/Zoo subway station, I encounter the same neatly dressed young man soliciting funds from subway riders. He askes everyone for a quarter in a soft voice and is successful at least 10% of the time.

This "solicitor" normally stands opposite the escalator entrances at the Connecticut Avenue level. However, on occasion, he stands on the platform between the two escalators to do his soliciting. This area clearly constitutes Metro property. I was under the impression that DC law specifically prohibits soliciting on Metro property. Based on this understanding, I notified the Woodley Park station manager, Mr. Crawford, that solicitation was taking place on their property (escalator platform). His response was astounding.

Mr. Crawford informed me that Metro will not arrest anyone for "begging in a station." I asked if it would help for me to call either the Metro General Manager or the Metro Police. He advised that I should call anyone I want to in the system and that he "did not want to be bothered anymore" nor did he want "to hear of my complaints" regarding "the beggar" in the future. He expressed open hostility to my report and was quite rude during the exchange. Either he is a personal friend of the "beggar" or does not want to perform his job functions and was embarrassed by my bringing up the subject.

I ask your readers if they have had any experience regarding the "beggar" or Mr. Crawford, and whether they think our subway system should be used for solicitations.

Sincerely, William B. Menczer MENCZERW@TBP.DOT.GOV

The Answer is Larry King, Director of the Department of Public Works

Do you or does anyone else know why new curbs and some sidewalks are being installed on Conn. Ave. between T St. (Wash. Hilton) and the Taft (?) Bridge, while one can hardly walk on the nearby sidestreets (Kalorama, Wyoming, Ashmead Pl., etc.) because they're in such poor condition? Did one of our mayor's buddies have a surplus of curbs or something? Granted, it's nice to have all the streets in order, but what about priorities? Who's responsible for such decisions?

Those Darn Secessionists

Secession of Ward 3 from D.C. is a wild fantasy. This is as much a fantasy as thinking that the Distric will ever become a State. We are destined, only, to be in a continuous state of chaos. As much as I would love to see it happen it will not be. A much more like scenario is that the whole kit and kaboodle of Desperation City be taken back by Maryland or Virginia. I'm not sure that either of these States wants a big headache like D.C. and would only do so if they could call the shots on who was mayor and who controlled the budget.

P.S. Regarding Jesse Jackson's election as shadow senator for D.C., I would never waste my vote on someone who couldn't run a one car funeral. In that election I wrote in the name of my candidate for "Shadow" senator - Lamont Cranston.

Ed Barron


This is my submission for your electronic newletter. PS I posted subscribtion information on the Internet. I hope you get a couple of subscribers. This is not quite reporting but I think it is good and deserves an audience. However, I won't be upset if you decide that this is the wrong forum. :)


There was a porcelain cat glued to the side of a building above
Connecticutt Avenue by Dupont Circle. It is gone now but in my mind
it came alive and wanders the city.
I can hear it now. I can see through its eyes.
Winter is the District of Columbia's other season.
The cat scratches and the winter beggars are amoung us.
Thunderstorms pour water onto the earth and the pavement.
Lightning streaks through the falling water. Then glows the
Washington Momument brilliant white as a fog of rain envelopes
and shimmers in a holy quiet between gunfights.
This is the fully illustrated history of a moment,
A version in pen and ink with colorization to follow.
It is raining harder. The cat meows and complains against the wetness.
Louder now, begging.

I hear empty beer cans clatter.
Glass bottles smash. There is violence.
Between three and five-thiry in the morning,
Washington Streets are quiet. Dark faces peer through
parked car windows. Bricks smash glass. Radios, tape decks gone.
Drug money wars. Dark faces, dark hands. I know those faces.
I know those footsteps. I hear quick shuffles.
Shadows moving at the edges. Seven times, I hear them outside.
Seven times, I act in time. New faces,
new moments of uncertainity. Sounds of feet running
through the cold morning air. One day, someone will not run.
One day, I will be late. Blood then on the streets.
The rain pours on the District of Columbia. A cat
perches on the side of the building and looks out over
Connecticutt Avenue. This is its night.

South African apartheid protest oppression.
Broken glass, stolen radios, uplifted human spirits. Education
knife and gun, drugs, drugs, drugs.
Radio voices black proclaim the the enemy, my enemy, my enemy
is white. Not some specific person but all white skin houses the
enemy. All black Ph'ded and professionalized who don't carry
guns or bricks have sold out and gone over. I hear the angry voice
of black radio. Thunderbird. Thunderbird. I smell Thunderbird.
I smell volmit. The future has arrived. A bright salvation is at hand.
Drugs, wars, bullets.

Across the roof runs the cat. Porcelain paws stretches to
limits. Eyes glow and the cat run free through the cold night.
To the East there is a hint of orange. Jesus comes.
Jesus comes. No. No. It is Jesse. Just Jesse.
It is Jesse Jackson coming to rule at the edges of power.
The sky grows brighter. The sweet smell of spring is remembered and
wafes toward me. Thus ends the reign.
Each day and minute, Jesse grows ever smaller.
Smaller than presidents and smaller than shadows.
Soon cities and villages will be too large to contain him.
Jesse the savior. Jesse the anointed God emperor of dust.
Jesse shrinks and will soon fill a footnote on the way to glory.
Jesse, dipolmat, grape striker and convention attendee,
walks alone somewhere below the edge of in the shadow of power.

I believe in dreams. I believe in cats walking across rooftops.
The seconds pass below and the District of Columbia
rings like the memory of a broken bell, everyday, less musical,
less powerful. Each clatter inspires winces of contempt and
painful thoughts of purpose and universal dreams
centered and lost in the distant past.
An epoch has begun. Men and women of less faith and esteem
walk amoung us. Our road divides just ahead into the
thousand choices of God. We have lost the vision and now will wander
aimless, choosing paths instead of building roads and bridges.
The cat looks down from the roof's edge. Rain continues to pour.
The night is cold, long and is now silent.

Joseph R. Poisso

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