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February 18, 1996

CVS Rules the World

Dear Neighbors:

A few quick neighborhood notes. As you may have read, Higgers will soon be taken over by CVS. The Biograph Theatre plans to close on June 30th. The site will become a CVS. To reduce the federal deficit, freshman House members are urging CVS to make the Washington Monument the tallest drug store in the world.

Only one of the above stories is not true.

Jeffrey Itell



[Following is an open letter to the Financial Authority by Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson. Dr. Brimmer is the Chairman of the Control Board. jeff]

February 12, 1996

Dear Dr. Brimmer:

You are now required to do the work that the mayor and the D.C. Council have failed to do, namely to reduce the District's current fiscal year spending by some $150 million. Should you want some suggestions, I offer the following. This does not, of course, reflect the view of the Council -- though there are individual colleagues who may agree with one or more of these proposals.

1. Reduce the public subsidy for D.C. General Hospital and stop operating a full-service public hospital. This is the biggest ticket item worth some $50 million this year. At the moment the D.C. Council is awaiting action on a proposal by the mayor to create a "public benefits corporation" to encompass the hospital and the public health clinics, a proposal that might work if it had strict guidelines for reducing the scope of the hospital and strengthening the clinics as our primary care delivery system. I fear, though, that the PBC will be a new structure to siphon funds from the clinics to maintain jobs at the hospital. Specifically: halve the hospital subsidy and use the remainder to create a pool of funds to finance uncompensated trauma care at private hospitals, retain an ambulatory care clinic, strengthen the existing clinics by adding van routes into underserved neighborhoods.

2. Phase out the $40-million-plus public subsidy for the University of the District of Columbia in the 4-year financial plan, starting now. Force trustees to decide the most important way to spend tuition and private funds. My preferences: end any graduate program that is not self-sustaining, including the D.C. School of Law. Shrink undergraduate offerings to meet local workforce needs.

3. End the mayor's summer jobs program for savings of $6 million. The recent Council debate on this program was revealing. My colleagues described as essential family income the stipends the program provides to young people between 14 and 21. If summer jobs represent an income transfer undergirding low-income families, then say so, and address the need through existing public assistance programs. End the charade that this program is job training. Paying young people to be "recreation aides" whose work is swimming, sunning, and playing basketball does not teach job skills. It risks teaching youngsters dependence on the public dole, a dependence we should not foster.

4. Reduce the line item for the mayor's office ($1.5 million) and the D.C. Council ($8 million) by 10% each -- reductions that go beyond cuts made last summer and are important symbolically as well as in dollar terms. The Council, for its part, underspent its own budget by a considerable amount last year and should be able to exist on a similar reduction this year.

5. Eliminate the Office of Tourism and Promotion, the Office of Banking, the Mayor's Youth Leadership Development Program.

Dr. Brimmer, please do not do what the elected leadership has done in the past. Virtually nothing of any significance was done last year to reduce the structure of District spending. Last year we reduced spending by one-time-only policies, specifically pay cuts, furloughs, and non-payment of city vendors. When Mayor Barry speaks of "reducing the deficit" in FY 95 according to the recently-released independent audit, he speaks a half-truth. The FY95 deficit was smaller than the FY 94 deficit but the accumulated deficit is worse. Put another way, the hole we're in isn't twice as deep, but it's deeper.

These proposals make a start at reducing the size and scope of what the District government promises. To preserve funding for essentials like schools and sanitation and public safety, we need to put everything else to the test.


Kathy Patterson



Since a full-blown commuter tax, ala NYC, seems out of the question, how about a "modified" commuter tax -- one that would reach only employees of the DC Government who choose to live outside the city (a majority, if I'm not mistaken)? Or would this engender the same knee-jerk response from area Congresspeople as the "regular" commuter tax proposals?

As an alternative, what about the Kemp proposal to exempt DC residents from federal income tax altogether as a way of making DC a more attractive place to live? Most of the other proposals being floated are simply not radical enough to accomplish much. Ms. Holmes-Norton's plan, for example, falls far short of what is needed.

Greg Jones


City Services

Tax strike, no question. Sign me up. Can I get my employer to put my withholding into escrow? How?

Stephanie Faul


City Services

Here is my suggestion for the deplorable services unfortunate district residents are receiving, or often not receiving:

As Senator Hatch is now openly talking about placing DC Police under control of an independent commission, citizens should descend upon city hall and Capitol Hill and demand this be done for all city services, bar none. Argue that the entire government structure is corrupt and a disgrace and it is the duty of Congress to make it right. Continue these protests on a bigger and bigger scale until the entire nation is sick of hearing it. Eventually you will get it and force Congress to reform home rule or provide the city with adequate services.

My guess is DC will never get statehood, as you couldn't get it when Clinton and the Democrats controlled both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But you can either get a better home room deal from an embarrassed GOP Congress, or force them to bribe Maryland into taking DC back, in which case the city will no longer be in the political no-man's land it has been for the past two centuries.

Good luck in any event. Whether or not you like Senator Hatch, he was right when he noted the situation is intolerable and a national disgrace.

T. Matthes Springfield, VA



About eight months ago, or so, the DC government curtailed its recycling program. Several enterprising residents --mostly students-- took advantage of this gap in service to pick up home owners' newspapers every week. (Hurrah for them!) Then a court ordered the DC government to resume recycling, and the entrepreneurs were out of business.

The District is paying a private vendor to make the pickups. Now DPW tells us that curbside recycling will be every two weeks. (I'm considering my daughter's request for a parakeet: At least I'll have someplace to put two weeks worth of newspaper. And I will have to buy a book on "How to Turn Your Used Soda Cans Into Toys Your Kids Can Make Model Houses With.")

It's time for the entrepreneurs to come back. DC resident's care about recycling, but we don't care who picks up the goods. If a bunch of students can do a better job than DPW and their contractors, let them.

--Bill Bill Adler, Jr. Adler & Robin Books Literary Agency "Number 1 in New York Times Bestsellers"



We have got to become more active in fighting for our rights as district residents. If all we do is complain to each other and over the internet, no one notices or cares. Contacting district government at any level is a waste of time. How is it that only district government employees conduct protests at city council meetings, in the streets or on the bridges (and get paid by the district for doing so)? We need to organize protests of taxpayers. We need to put pressure on the control board so that they will actually do something. We need to explore the possibility of suing the city and its leaders for failure to provide adequate services. We need to discuss organizing our own neighborhood snow plowing - it is neither expensive nor difficult - and encourage private entrepreneurs to pick up newspaper and cardboard recyclables - as they did this past summer. Anyone who is interested to explore these and other options, please contact me.




Re: Richard Levine's comments (from a previous issue)

Most people who know me would admit that I am the last person in the world to begrudge anyone's personal opinions. However, a portion of your comments regarding the welfare recipients vs. taxpayers argument to be appalling. To apply the blanket label of "losers" to the class of citizens receiving some form of welfare is not only insensitive, but way off the mark. I, for one, have faithfully served my nation for my entire adult life and have never been on welfare. However, in my time in the Air Force, I have encountered more than several young families also serving the Air Force who needed food stamps and AFDC just to put food on the table. Also, when I was a child, my father injured his hand and was unable to work for nine months. As he is a musician and composer (independent), there was no such thing as Workmen's Compensation available. He (and our family) were on welfare that entire time.

Now, I do not mean to insinuate that there are no deep, intractable problems with our welfare system. However, your terminology (if indeed you were the first in this string to use it) is demeaning to all the millions of proud Americans who, through unfortunate circumstance, have had to rely on their fellow citizens for some form of support during their lifetimes.

Yes, the District has more than it's fair share of residents who are on federal assistance. I suspect the deep seated reasons for this lie more with the myriad things preventing development of any economic/job creating environment other than retail sales. How many people do you think CAN get off of welfare making $5.50 an hour at Starbucks, anyway?

David J. Meyer



We ought to see what other city residents have done when their cities, i.e. New York, Newark et al, have been under the control of a Financial Control Board. How did New yorkers respond to getting their recycling picked up every other week? (Although I doubt it was an issue then) But what can we learn from their experiences -- should we organize a a taxpayers forum, and invite the Control Board to talk about what they will do to keep us homeowners and taxpayers in town, or an I being naive? Or maybe we should just hope for a receiver -- the two we have now seem to be straightening out and improving the systems they were brought in to work on -- maybe David Gilmore and Jerry Miller should take over the city.

We obviously need to organize -- the question is how and around what issue and through what forum? All this is being written as I watch the snow fall on unplowed Ordway Street.

Margie Siegel MASiegel


Sheraton Hotel

Apparently while I was away on vacation, the developer agreement talks between the WPCA, ANC and the Sheraton broke down. Evidently, one of the major sticking points we wanted resolved, that of restricting the movement of trailer trucks into and out of the property from 10PM to 7 AM could not be resolved, with the Sheraton people insisting on the restrictions from 10:30 PM to 7 AM. Needless to say, supporting their application to permit this expansion which would permit the hotel to have two (2) conventions occurring simultaneously would potentially increase truck traffic (due to 2 exhibits occurring simultaneously). The proposed redesign of the loading dock facilities could have been a significant improvement in noise abatement for the surrounding apartment buildings, however, having truck traffic that late at night is not acceptable to neighboring residents (and no one should blame them for complaining about belching tractor trailer trucks outside their bedroom windows at 10:30 at night seven days per week) and consequently we are proceeding with our request for a denial of this application. There were other provisions the community wanted as well which the hotel was unable to agree to perhaps of different rather than lesser importance, but protecting our residents was critical to this entire process.

The Board of Zoning hearing is now scheduled for February 21, 1996 and the ANC, the Woodley Park Community Association and several resident groups will be opposing this application before the Board.

Ian Gordon



If you take a look at that new annex for the Cleveland Park Library, you'll see an airconditioner in the window. That doesn't promise a speedy renovation, as it's now February. Well, that's how the Post Office goes.

Bill Adler, Jr.


City Services

Dunno what to do about street repair, but the tree problem is easy. Affix pickup trucks to downed branches and drag them to the hon. Barry's street. Leave them there. They'll *somehow* find money for them to be removed. ;) Alternatively, cut them up for firewood and make a "firewood" donation (just drop it off at the end of Barry's street, again -- this way, it's easier to transport).

I am not responsible for legal consquences of following my advice *grin*|

Daniel A. Turner President, Turner Consulting Group

2830 Calvert Street, N.W., Suite 2000; Washington, DC 20008 | | Computer jocks-of-all-trades, specializing in DB/WWW apps | | 202-986-5533(V) 202-986-5532(F) |
"Yes, it can be done"++



[Please keep those submissions coming. Remember. They don't have to be originals. jeff]

We heard that someone named Martha operates a big Vineyard on an island so we've decided to investigate. :)

|                                      /              |
|                                /     /               |
|       /                      _n     /                |
|    (~)              fish>0\   ( )  /<fishing tackle |
|    `|'                    ^ \_|__/o                 |
|  ___^______________________(_)______________<boat |
|  \                                          /       |
|   `---------------------------------------' water |
|  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <   |
|  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~     |


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The End


Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

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