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March 8, 1996

Property Tax Assessments

Dear Neighbors:

This issue features a query about property tax assessments. Is the District jacking up assessments to pay the bills? What do your assessments tell you? And us? Also, how come District Cablevision doesn't offer comedy channels? Is C-Span funny enough? Shall we start a petition drive.

Folks, some of your postings are coming in long. Please try to keep your postings to 2 paragraphs or less.

Please also pay attention to formatting. Please, no indentations, bullets, all cap lettering, etc. Left-justify all postings and , if your system allows it, keep the width of your messages to under 60 characters. And please, please, please--end your messages with your name and email--just like the ones below. Advertisers! The same rules apply.

By the way, best cultural bets around town are the movies Fargo and The Birdcage. Also, All's Well That Ends Well at the Shakespeare is magnificent.

Jeffrey Itell


Control Board

Financial Control Board member Stephen Harlan will be speaking at our ANC (3F) on Monday, March 18 at 7:30 pm. The meeting is, as always, at the Capital Seventh-Day Adventist Memorial Church, 3150 Chesapeake Street, N.W. I would appreciate it if you could spread the word.

Scott Strauss


Property Taxes

Have you heard any rumblings about the new (just mailed to ho0me owners) 1997 DC real estate assessments? Mine came yesterday. It features a whopping $36,000 increase in my assessment....this in an area of Chevy Chase-DC where homes are selling like lead balloons. I haven't had the time to query my neighbors yet to see what they got. Of course, I am going to appeal (hah!) and will be doing a search of the new assessments in a two block radius of my house. I did this several years ago and found out how much I was being ripped off.

[Following is an additional posting. jeff]

District property owners have just received their "Notice of Proposed Real Property Assessment for Tax Year 1997" from the ever vigilant Department of Finance and Revenue.

From the looks of mine, DC is attempting to buy some new snow plows: the valuation on my house in Chevy Chase DC has been increased by 37.3%. The land value was decreased by 3.3%. In dollars, the Revenue Department has increased the valuation of the building from $142,392 to 195,570. That's an increase of $53,178, folks! And this in a neighborhood were houses are not selling very well. Some homes, within a block, have been on the market for a year. The only home sold on my street (owned by a Long & Foster manager) in the last several years took three months to sell, and then for $258,000!

My next door neighbor lives in an exact duplicate of my home. (1938 tract housing.) His land value was decreased by the same 3.3% that mine was and the value of his house was increased by 3.4%. As a result, his valuation remains exactly the same: $269,806. With the increase I received, my property is now valued at $336,099, more than $66,000 more than his building and land.

We have made no changes in the house, garage or grounds in eight years. I last appeared before the Appeals Board in 1989 and won my appeal. Am I being punished now?

I'd appreciate hearing what's going on with the assessments in Northwest. Has yours gone up or down?

[Please copy your responses to me. I'd like to report whether the problem is widespread or incidental. Jeff]

Bill Leonard


Public/Private Partnerships

I think this is a wonderful idea. I am impresses by what has been done and what is contemplated. As a ward 3 resident I would be happy to provide my signature if that helps, and I am of course interested in supporting these community efforts. We need to build connections and associations we can count on, particularly in these times when we can expect so little from the city in terms of support or trust. Home is the neighborhood now more than it is the city.

I would like to see a list of all of the public/private support entities that serve our neighborhood. I am sure ignorance has prevented me from making my own contribution. Could you/we compile a list and keep it available, maybe re-distributing it a couple times a year?

Bob Gerber


Crime/Private-Public Partnership

I just read Rob Pegoraro's description of his recent robbery. It reminds me of what Jim Nathanson used to say about what we need from the police: "preventative visibility." That means that when there are visible police patrols the bad guys make themselves scarce. Such patrolling doesn't necessarily show up in crime statistics; but it makes a difference. I am quite aware of this because when I bought my house in N.W. I would routinely see patrols cars on my street. Now I only see cars in my neighborhood when there is a call. (I am also aware of this because one of my wife's co-workers was shot within several blocks of my house. The culprit was never found.)

Furthermore, there is no reason that we should not have police patrols. Unlike those who believe that there is no money, I know better. With a budget of approximately $5,000,000,000 for 550,000 people, there is plenty of money for a few patrols. (For those who would differ, I ask for details. Certainly the council cannot make a statement one way or the other. I visited the council budget office and found that they have virtually no information about the money that is collected under their authority.)

A problem I've seen in the few community meetings I've attended is that many people are long time residents. They have come to accept a standard of taxation and lack of services that no one anywhere else would agree to. In a sense we are getting the quality of government we deserve. This thought is buttressed by the movement to fund public services via private donation. I make enormous "donations" to the needs of D.C. through my taxes and it is outrageous that anyone, particularly Council Woman Patterson, suggest that citizens pay twice for these services.

I believe that in the last Mayoral election that Ward 3 spoke loud and clear. I also believe that Ms. Patterson is working within council to serve the interests of Ward 3 residents. However, she is just one voice on the council. Therefore, these particular efforts are in vain.

Instead, Ms. Patterson would better serve her constituents by speaking to residents of the other Wards. Regardless of location or circumstance, I do not believe that the majority of D.C. residents would support poor Government if it is fully revealed. Ms. Patterson needs to use her office as a "bully pulpit" to work towards building a mandate for accountability and better government.

Fortunately, Ms. Patterson's background is in the news business, so she should know how to work the Post and other media to get out her message. Unfortunately, Ms. Patterson does not seem to have the will to act. (Issuing long explanatory memos to her constituents is reflection of this failure.)

If D.C. is to be a reasonable place to live we must all demand that those who have chosen to govern do their job. Remember that while Barry is an easy target, he is only part of the problem.

Larry Seftor



Burrito Brothers is under construction at 1813 M St., NW, should open in 2-3 months. A competitor called Burro opened across the street from Burrito's Dupont location. Burro recently opened near 19th & M, so Burrito Bros. decided to open up nearby (tit for tat..)

Connecticut and Q in the old Cafe Rondo will soon be ?Raku? It's an Asian food concept by the founder of Red Sage - Mark Miller and they will be opening more locations, including one in Bethesda. I have no idea when they will open.

Rumor has it that the owner of Acme Bar and Grill will be opening a new place called Marion ?Waters - I don't know the location, but the Acme Bar's number is (202)833-2263

Slade's Bar and Grill has signed a lease at 14th and F Street in the Shops at National Place. They currently have 4 restaurants with plans for a major expansion. (Karen Lundegaard did an article on them in Wash. Bus. Journal.

Millennium Restaurant at 1310 Wisconsin Ave., NW in the Georgetown Inn. Owners are Nicky DeChiara (owner of Renato's) and Hide Yamamoto of the Jockey Club. Chef is Troy Thompson from Calasia in Bethesda.

Michelle Brown and Linda Orr will open Teaism-A Tea House at 2009 R St., NW in Dupont with 45 Asian Teas and a pan-Asian menu. Planned opening is April.

Coppi's Pizza opening on 3500 block of Connecticut Ave. in the former Peking Rest. This is their second location, the first one is located at 14th and U and does phenomenal sales for such a small location.

By the way, 14th and U is hot right now with a new restaurant opening at least once a month. This may be the new Adams Morgan.

Charlie Adler Fischer Organization, Inc. ph. (202)783-3333 email:



There's no mystery to the defunct Flotation Spa. It was a massage parlor, and according to my source, a pretty sleazy one at that.

Claude Seymour



I noted with dismay last week as I passed the old police station on the corner of Albemarle and 42nd St. in AU Park that the building was being torn down to be replaced by the IONA Sr. Citizens facility. That solid looking brick building was not an eyesore and should have been saved. I can't believe that it could not have been modified into a fine senior center by a creative architect with all the room needed for community senior activities. I'm worried that the replacement will be an architectural nightmare like the AU Law School. They have made some changes to this ugly duckling, but a lot more could have been done if the neighborhood had negotiated up front with AU instead of fighting, what was doomed to be, a losing cause right from the start. ( I hate to say I told you so)

On the bright side, the new Chicken Out facility next to Sutton Place Gourmet on Mass. Ave. (near 49th St.) is proceeding apace and it seems that it will be a tasteful (pardon the pun) addition to the neighborhood. It will certainly be a better looking alternative to the old Exxon gas station. Ed Barron



At about 5:30am on Tuesday, March 5 everyone in Cleveland Park must have heard the screeching fire engines pull into the Quebec House South parking lot. About 15 minutes later, the fire alarms were blaring and I ran to the closest stairwell to discover smoke. Apparently, the fire started in an apartment on the 8th floor. The resident was taken away by ambulance. 2 points: 1. The most frightening aspect of the whole experience was looking around at the people who made it out of the building. 98% of the residents standing in the parking lot at 6am were younger tenants, despite the fact that probably 35-40% of the tenants in this building are elderly. I wondered whether the building supplies the fire department with a map indicating where elderly tenants live. 2. The woman taken away by ambulance is infamous around the building as a chain-smoker. If the fire began as the result of her having fallen asleep with a cigarette in hand, could the woman be responsible for damages if sued by the building?

Jill Poznick



Hey, NWDC, cut it out! The 3/5/96 e-mail was a real bummer. I'd like to respond to those who are moving out of DC. As a single childless apartment renter, I am unaffected by property taxes, DC schools, and curbside recycling. DC politics aren't even a faint blip on my radar scope. I choose to stay in DC because it enriches my life. There is no match for the vibrancy and character DC offers.

For all those moving to the faceless hell called suburbia, I have one thing to say--I pity you. It's a shame that you'll waste countless hours trapped in your car fighting the third worst traffic in the nation only come home to an address like "14600 Little River Turnpike, Apt 5441-D" in some cookie-cutter development with no trees next to a huge car dealership. Then you'll spend you Saturday night standing in line for an hour at the Olive Garden full of screaming kids and white middle-class mannequins. Then you'll go to bed early because there's nothing else to do out there. The VA/MD burbs are completely indistinguishable from the bland suburban sprawl covering the rest of our nation. If you live there, that's as good as it gets. How pathetic, considering that there's a richer life just a few miles away. Life is way too short to waste in the burbs.

Rick Rosenthal



As a non-DC subscriber who enjoys dc.story and can "feel your pain" (as our national CEO puts it), I'd like to pose a couple of questions about your future to the readership.

The first is a mild defense of David Levine, who evokes a suggestion in The Very Long Edition that he "just retrocess himself to Maryland?" As a conservative, I understand the tug of tradition and that many would feel sad if DC should cease to be the independent city, which is also the national capital. As a realist, at least sometimes, I ask what better alternative for the city's salvation is there than retrocession to Maryland? The status quo is, at best, chaos. If anybody really thinks statehood is coming, I would kindly recommend counseling for delusions.

True, Maryland doesn't want DC back at the moment. But I believe that could change. The Jack Kemp branch of the GOP wants to make DC a second Puerto Rico, with a general break in federal taxes for residents. This should be encouraged, on the good-old-fashioned Americanism of "no taxation without representation." Hold out for a full federal tax exemption and you might get half. Business will flow back into the city. Then Congress should offer retrocession to Maryland with the city tax exemption good for 50 years, with a lump payment to the state, plus a long-term subsidy to ease the cost of absorbing the City of Washington, MD.

Then city residents will have a state government to share the costs of pensions, Medicare and jails. And they will be represented in Congress, instead of having Congress represent them with a control board.

Second question. Senator Hatch is now proposing a direct federal payment to DC Police, so it won't be siphoned off elsewhere by the bureaucrats, while insisting this is not a federal takeover of the force. Is anyone buying this? I don't doubt the Utah solon's good intentions, but I'm not sure I understand the distinction. I don't think a Virginian is being a pest by asking, either. The terrible crime rate in the capital is a disgrace to the nation. Think about it.

Thomas Matthes


District Finances

The electronic newsletter GERMAN NEWS (6 March 1996) reporting on the financial crisis of the capital city Berlin wrote the city parliament was forced to make DM5.3 billion in cuts this year and another DM32 billion through 1999. With an exchange rate of 1.47 marks per dollar that is a lot money making the District's $150 million in cuts seem relatively small. The city government is raising user fees and making major job cuts in order to resolve the crisis. Mayor-Governor Diepgen was very pleased to announce that there would be no theater shut-downs. Ah, what a crisis.

Joseph Poisso



For those losing sleep over DC's fines/penalties imposed on Red Light Runners, hopefully my testimony will shed some light on this annoyance. Approx. one year ago, traveling southbound, 8:30am, I was pulled over at the intersection of 16th & U, NW. My crime? Running a YELLOW light. Informing me of my brand new citation (w/ powdered donut residue on his chin), I received a $50 Hallmark. To add further drama, I ventured to Traffic Adjudication to defend my honor. In an overcrowded room w/ 15 other yellow light villains, a faux judge and my Powdered-puff, I pleaded that morning/weekday rush hour produces two chronic scenarios:

1. Major tailgaters in a hurry. What's the rush anyway? To get paradise i.e. the office?

2. Vision impairing sunlight really makes it difficult to distinguish when a light turns from green to yellow. This intersection is one of the worst!

EPILOUGE: The City was not to be denied their $$revenue$$ but erased all points. MORAL: According to DC Gov't, the yellow light is a signal to STOP not the go ahead to continue through.

Katherine Crawford


Post Office

After writing to the Postmaster at Friendship Heights suggesting that postal patrons would appreciate mail addressed to them being delivered regardless of whether their correspondents included the apartment number, I got a call from our redoubtable customer service rep Ms. Cole saying the card from my mother, sans apartment number, would be delivered that day. And it was -- along with 15 other pieces of first class that had been languishing somewhere. (Thanks for the birthday cards, all.) My carrier says they are not to take the time to sort anything without an apartment number. So, if you want to know where your mail is -- call Ms. Cole at (202) 635-5304. You'll have to explain all this to a central operator first. That's new, too -- and as a result, I understand they now report that complaints about service are WAY down. Of course, that's because it's unadulterated, flaming hell to complain now. (Jeez, am I turning into a nut? Surely, I have better things to do. Anyone else want to kick their butt for awhile?)

Jean Lawrence


Cable TV

Perhaps you and/or your readership could shed some light on this issue: Why the heck won't District Cablevision broadcast Comedy Central? I've lived in DC three years now and have written several letters and have called them several times, but to no avail. In some ways, I'm very please with what they offer, after all we do get Bravo and Home Team Sports as part of the Expanded Basic Cable, and that's great. But why no Comedy Central? I miss my Mystery Science Theatre!

Actually, Channel 13 very often offers some pretty hilarious stuff, such as those extreme close-ups with the characters that come into testify before the City Council. By the way, E! would be nice, too.

Give me Comedy Central or give me a friend on Montgomery County who'll tape it for me! No, seriously, why don't we start a petition drive? I've nothing better to do.



In support of braille literacy, the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind is sponsoring training in the "basics" of braille for blind and sighted students. The two hour-long classes are free of charge, and will be held at the Columbia Lighthouse Saturday, March 9th and Saturday, March 16th, 1996 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. For more information, or to register for the free braille training course, please contact the Columbia Lighthouse at 202/462-2900, x3012.


ENTREPRENEURIAL EXECUTIVE. PT or FT from your home. Rapidly expanding, multi-national business needs enterprising professional to recruit and train major new distribution forces. Open-minded, diligent, highly motivated and hard-working individuals are rewarded with exceptional compensation, unmatched professional training and opportunity for extraordinary personal growth. Note: This is not a job -- it is for people who realize that there is no job "security" and that, ultimately, we're all self-employed. Contact: D.J. Loop, President, Panacea International, 202-237-7942.


THE COLUMBIA LIGHTHOUSE FOR THE BLIND OFFERS WIDE SELECTION OF FUTONS FOR SALE. All Proceeds from the sales of blind-made futons support Lighthouse programs and services.

The Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind offers a complete line of futon frames, mattresses, covers and accessories at very reasonable prices. With many styles of beautifully finished pine and hardwood frames, and a large selection of covers available in an array of colors and prints, the futons convert easily from sofa to bed, and are exceptionally comfortable and versatile -- ideally suited for almost any living space. The quality foam core mattresses are made by blind and visually impaired workers, and all proceeds are dedicated to supporting the programs and services of the Columbia Lighthouse.

The Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind is located at 1421 P. Street, N.W. in Washington, DC. For information about futons or programs and services offered by the Lighthouse, call 202/462-2900


BRUCE MCBARNETTE, ESQUIRE FINANCIAL CONSULTANT 248 Willow Terrace Sterling, VA 20164 Telephone and Fax: (703) 404-8429

HELP WANTED: LOAN PROCESSOR Work from your home on your own schedule. Attorney, who is a Financial Consultant, seeks a part-time loan officer to work a few hours per week processing business loans, venture capital financing, and commercial real estate financing. You would basically be an intermediary between those who are seeking financing and those who provide it. You would primarily collect and review information from applicants and forward it to potential lenders. 4 year college degree is a must and some background in at least one of the following areas: banking, real estate, mortgage financing, accounting, and proposal writing. Payment will be in the form of commissions for successful transactions and can range from $200 to $4,000 per transaction. You must have your own phone and access to a fax and computer. You would work as an independent contractor and would pay for your own expenses. Mail your resume to the address above or call Bruce McBarnette, Esq. at (703) 404-8429.

HELP WANTED: TELEMARKETER Work from your home on your own schedule. Attorney representing investors of mortgage loans seeks a part-time telemarketer to follow up on nationwide mailings advertising mortgage loans to developers and shopping center owners around the country. $10,000 commission for every call that results in a mortgage loan. Must have your own telephone and pay for your calls. Mail your resume to the address above or call Bruce McBarnette, Esq. at (703) 404-8429.

MOVIE BUFFS WANTED. Help me finance movies! I need someone who can help me finance theatrical motion pictures part-time. Work will mostly involve collecting information from movie producers and sharing it with movie investors. Work from your home on your own schedule. Must have your own telephone and access to fax and computer. Payment is on a commission basis, which can range from $1,000 to more than $10,000 for every movie financed. You would work as an independent contractor and would pay for your own expenses. Mail your resume to the address above or call me, Bruce McBarnette, Esq. at (703) 404-8429.

INTERNET SURFER WANTED. Work from your home on your own schedule. Attorney, who is a Financial Consultant, seeks internet surfer to help him find investors to fund various business, real estate, and motion picture ventures. Earn a commission from $1,000 to $3,000 for each investor who completes a transaction. Must have access to internet. Call Bruce McBarnette, Esq. at (703) 404-8429.


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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