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February 4, 1996

Third World Solution for a First Class City

Dear Neighbor:

I'm still seeking volunteers to help me write a story. I can't reveal much about the idea but your duties would require no heavy lifting. I suspect our endeavor will also be fun. I will need three to four hours of your time on Saturday, February 17. Please send me a message marked Volunteer if you are interested.

Jeffrey Itell


Re: Tree at Connecticut & Morrison NW in front of Riggs Bank

This is in response to an inquiry from E. James Lieberman, about a tree that was illegally chopped down in front of the Riggs Bank at Connecticut and Morrison NW. The Tree Committee of Chevy Chase Citizens Association, along with the Main Street Chevy Chase organization, is looking into replacement of this tree. Although we probably won't be able to do anything about finding the vandals who destroyed the tree, we are working with the City and with Riggs Bank to have the tree replaced. In addition to this tree, we are talking with Safeway about the replacement of two small dead trees on Morrison St., just off Connecticut Ave. on the east side. We will also be meeting soon with the Trees and Landscaping Division of the D.C. Government to discuss a spring planting that Chevy Chase Citizens plans to do with funds that the Association has raised from neighborhood residents and businesses. I will be happy to share any further information with Mr. Lieberman if he would contact me. Evelyn M. Wrin, Chevy Chase Citizens Assn.


Thanks for the reply. Do you know exactly when the vandalism took place? How much money was raised at the time for a replacement? What happened to the small tree that was planted subsequently (died--of what?).

E. James Lieberman, M.D.


To: "A D.C. driver" re: "please don't use my name on this one because I am breaking the law"

I'm not a lawyer so I can't speak to your message technically, but I believe you're in the right and not breaking any law. I had a similar experience a couple years ago. I sent in a check for my license and residential parking renewal. Received the license renewal ok, but never did see the residential parking permit. About 4 months later I received a ticket. I sent the ticket back in together with a nasty letter and a copy of my canceled check. Took awhile and some additional correspondence (in which I got even nastier) that they requested, but eventually I got a notice that the fine was waived. I actually do believe under contract law that if you can prove they have your "consideration" (the $'s), you can prove you have complied.

Now if you want another story, how about the time I couldn't renew my plates due to outstanding fines on the plates for tickets that were issued BEFORE I received the plates (presumably to the prior holder of that license #)...

Isn't DC a WONDERFUL place to be subjected to?

Brian Nielsen


The swastikas really started appearing big time around the city about two and a half years ago, with big spray painted swastikas and SSs signs, as well as the smaller magic marker ones. There were a lot in downtown DC, Capitol Hill, and even on the Mall and across from the White House. Interestingly, they never got much up above P Street on 17th Street, or too much into Adams Morgan or Georgetown (although I did eradicate a few in G'town). I was forced to carry around cans of white and black spray paint in my backpack to spray over them. A homeless man from Greece who was living in his car and came by way of Chicago I believe (I saw one solitary article in the Post about this) was arrested, and told to clean them up and not to do it anymore. I don't think it's exactly a capital offense so there's not that much the government can do to these malicious and possibly crazy miscreants.

In any case, after a year or so, the swastikas seemed to subside and then they started up again, this time with mostly just magic marker ones, much smaller all over the place. Then I fought back with magic markers, because carrying the spray paint got to be too much for my pocketbook. But now the spray paint villain is back.

I have never figured out if it is one person, a few, or a whole bunch. There is no particular artistry to making a swastika so it's hard to identify the artist.

In any case, I suggest you carry at least a magic marker around, a big one, and help us do our work. I know there is at least one other person, probably more, helping me eradicate these symbols. The city isn't going to do it. Most of the swastikas are, I would assume, purposefully put on private newspaper boxes, etc. so it's not the city's responsibility anyway.

I would be interested in hearing from any of the other people who are already helping paint over these hateful signs.



[I asked Libby to tell me a little about how she knows so much about graffiti. jeff]

I've been in DC for the past 20 years. I have heard that frequently when these hate mongers start marking up places, they find it a good gauge of whether or not their message--or cult--will survive and flourish in that area. In other words, if people just ignore it or don't bother to get rid of them, they take that as tacit agreement or acceptance.

As for me, it just bugs the hell out of me to see them littering the city with hate so I do what the city doesn't have the time to do. Even though I suppose I could be arrested or cited for graffiti, even though I'm trying to eradicate it, most of the time, no one says a thing to me. Rarely does anyone say anything, although people do tend to stare: some people actually DO NOT KNOW what a swastika means, as unbelievable as that may seem! So, I have the opportunity to educate them in a sentence or two, if they bother to ask. Rarely but sometimes, people will say that I shouldn't be doing it, and very occasionally someone says "good job," but mostly, no one says a damn thing and just walk on by.

What I want to know is if they walk on by when someone is trying to get rid of the swastikas, likewise do they walk on by when someone is putting the swastikas on in the first place....

Again: I would love to hear from others, like myself, who have taken it upon themselves to cross them out or paint over them. Are they graffiti artists who carry their tools around, or just concerned citizens like me who are sick of the hideous message and just don't want to take it any more? Either one, I would love to thank and congratulate them!



We have received a framework of an agreement which will run with the land (actually be recorded as an encumbrance on the deed) for 20 years. The aspects of the agreement are that the Sheraton will not seek to add to public assembly space for 20 years; protect the "greenspace" for the community/public, completely enclose the loading dock facilities (roof and all) to almost eliminate all noise affecting both 2800 Woodley Rd residents as well as apartment residents on 29th Street; it reduces their original plan by eliminating Exhibit Hall "D" and reduces meeting space by some 13,500 square feet. In addition, they have agreed to increase net parking additions from the original 200 cars to 290 - 310 cars by further enlarging their new parking structure underground. They have also agreed to limit all of the new meeting space to just that, and to not use any enclosed or unenclosed areas of the hotel for exhibit space except their existing exhibit halls.

There are many more points to the agreement, and if we can work out the details by the end of the month, it looks like we'll have a good one. The Woodley Park Community Association executive committee voted 9-3 in favor of nailing down the agreement in order to support their BZA application for the Sheraton. So, it looks like we are very, very close to a win/win for everyone. There will be a community meeting on the agreement and the revised plans when the agreement has been finalized and is acceptable to both parties and ready for signature.

Ian Gordon


[We're still looking for some bad ASCII email art. Please submit your best and your worst. Jeff]

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                              Barnum's Troupe of performing cows

David Jeffrey Horowitz


A version of this article appeared in a previous edition of Washington City Paper.

Third World Solution for a First Class City

Under an avalanche of criticism for the city's preposterously inadequate snow removal, City Council Chair Clarke has introduced a bill to make a difference. His goal? To provide the mayor with walking around money to pay city residents-especially the homeless, unemployed, teenagers, and residents of halfway houses-to shovel out public spaces. Just what the city needs in this time of fiscal distress-Mayor Barry walking around with pocket change to grease the wheels of his constituency.

But Clarke misses a more fundamental point in proposing his bill. The United States is an advanced economy, and the District of Columbia-despite some evidence to the contrary-is part of that economy. In an advanced economy, labor is relatively expensive and capital is relatively cheap. Thus, it is more efficient for the city to pay a driver $25 per hour to plow our streets (and to spend enough dough to keep the plow trucks operating) than to use the same money to hire a brigade of residents to shovel Pennsylvania Avenue by hand. If this was not true, we would all still be subsistence farmers.

But if Chairman Dave's theories of economic development are true? Maybe the District's problem is that it is underworked and overcapitalized. If we shift our thinking to the Dave Clarke paradigm, all sorts of solutions to chronic District problems become feasible. Start with the police. Since the city cannot afford gas and tires to keep squad cars on the streets, trade in those carbon-monoxide, global warming producing vehicles for bicycles, or, better yet, rollerblades. Then take the spare cash and hire more cops. Heck, with all that extra exercise, we will be hard pressed to find men and women in blue with Bavarian beer bellies.

Cutting capital expenditures can also save our schools. Experts estimate that District schools need $5 billion in capital repairs. Forget it. Let the kids learn outside under oak trees. It worked for Homer. Instead of summer recess, let the students enjoy recess during winter, when they can earn money shoveling snow from streets. And since the school administration cannot supply children with enough school books and will not let them take the books home to study, why not save a forest and junk school books altogether? If oral history was good enough for our ancestors, it should be good enough for our students. After all, city test scores are so low that they can only improve.

If we all thought like Dave, intractable problems all of the sudden become...well, tractable. The John Wilson Building is falling down around the councilmembers' feet? Abandon it and hold legislative sessions at the Carter-Barron Amphitheater. The roads are filled with potholes? Let each neighborhood be responsible for fixing their streets. Revise city laws to require all city residents to take pothole-mending courses sponsored by their community associations. (Surprisingly, Clarke Logic coincides nicely with that of freshman Republicans, who believe that the best decisions are those made at the most local level.)

The cardiogram of the District's Blue Plains sewage and water treatment plant is flattening out? Let it expire. Make residents start their own compost piles. Since city trash pickup has become hit or miss, residents would take comfort in the daily routine of daily composting, versus their current experience of leaving trash out for days in hopes that a city truck might accidentally wander by. Instead of running an inefficient recycling program, residents can put out their newspaper, glass, and plastic for scavengers. Whoops! I forgot the rag pickers already get the pick of the litter.

No work is more backbreaking than shoveling snow. If that's our standard for treating employees, why not replace the city's limousine fleet with litters for our elected officials? Litterbearers can chauffeur our elected officialdom from meeting to meeting in pollution-free comfort, with the knowledge that they are contributing mightily to meeting EPA's air quality requirements. Want to bet that Mayor Barry would become involved in far fewer traffic incidents with this politically correct mode of transport?

Clarke's logic inspires a solution for every city problem. No toilet paper in the City Council building? Supply rosewater instead. No paper for the Xerox machine? Forget the machine. Award a contract to Ezra the Scribe. The District cannot fork up its share of money to complete the Metro? Make an in-kind contribution. Impress our legions of unemployed and make them dig the Green Line by hand. Show the workers World War II prisoner-of-war films for training.

Marion Barry talks about Washington as a World Class City, but more and more our politicians offer us Third World solutions.

Jeffrey Itell


Trivia Question and Answer

The January 23 Washington post article on Raymond Chandler contained a factual error. How many novels did the reporter claim Chandler wrote in his lifetime? How many did he, in fact, write? And in what section did the article appear?

Answers: 10, 7, and Style.

P.S. Bonus Round: Gil thinks that Chandler did write 10 volumes--a collection of short stories and two books of essays. Hence the mix-up.

Lisa Wormser




Millennium Institute State of the World Indicators 2 February 1996

Days until the January 1st, 2000: 1,429

World Population: 5,785,260,807 Years Until Insufficient Land - Northern Diet: 9 Years Until Insufficient Land - Southern Diet: 40 Species Extinctions Per Day: 104 Years Until 1/3 Of Species Are Lost: 10 Years Until Half of Crude Oil Is Gone: 4 Years Until 80% of Crude Oil Is Gone: 24 Percent Antarctic Ozone Depletion: 60 Carbon Dioxide, Years Until Doubling: 61

Philip Bogdonoff


The End


Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

Tel: 202.244.4163 P.O. Box 11260 Fax: 202.362.1501 Washington, D.C. 20008-0460

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