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April 15, 1996

Leaf Nazis

Dear Neighbors:

If you don't get the Saturday Post, you don't get it...or news of all the city's absurdities. Check out the excerpt below from a Hamil Harris story.

[Nora Bawa] got a $25 ticket for not raking the leaves from a two-foot-wide space in front of her home. Victor Christensen also received a certified letter last week citing him for not raking the leaves from the narrow strip of city-owned property between the sidewalk and the curb known as the "tree box."

After months of delays, the Department of Public Works is starting a new sanitation enforcement program, hiring and training 25 inspectors to search out unraked lawns and other violations of the city's trash laws.

When the $800,000 program is fully operational, [city official] Hotaling said, "strike force teams" will comb the city to educate people and enforce the regulations. Currently, six inspectors are issuing a total of about 50 tickets a day. Once computers are installed to track violators, the city will begin assessing escalating fines on repeat offenders, Hotaling said. Businesses could face fines of up to $2,000 for a fourth ticket within 60 days, and litterbugs and those who don't clean up pet feces could also net fines ranging from $35 for a first offense to $2,000 for the fourth.

We need to learn more about our leaf nazis. Send your stories this way.


Jeffrey Itell

BTW: Thanks to everyone who wrote to inform me that Associate Justice Scalia is not Chief Justice Scalia. In a future issue, I will drive you nuts by inserting an obscure, deliberate mistake and asking you to find it. That'll blow your workday.



Well.....just when I was starting to feel a sense of rising loyalty to D.C. (the underdog syndrome), the city has gone and done it again. In a move that smacks of pettiness, chutzpah, and misplaced priorities, the city has just begun ticketing residents for not raking leaves from their front lawns, sidewalks, curbs and tree boxes. The Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program -- announced last October, though no one I've asked has ever heard of it -- will cost $800,000.00, employ "strike force teams" to issue tickets, track repeat offenders by computer, and put liens on property if the fines are not paid.

Strike teams? Computer tracking? Liens? Last I checked, Washingtonians were not smoking or dealing oak, beech and maple leaves. Perhaps everyone should take their bags of arboreal contraband (which the city surely won't collect) and fill each and every pothole with it!

P.S. If I didn't know better, I'd think this was one of our recent April Fool's stories.

Alan Grossberg



NEIGHBORHOOD SCAM UNDERWAY IN MOUNT PLEASANT and WARD 3 On Monday April 1 @3:00pm a white male in his late 20's entered the home of one of your neighbors with the claim that he had just moved into a house on the neighbor's street. He gave a valid address on the street and stated that he had been mugged the night before. He said his wallet was taken along with his keys and that he needed money for a cab to get to his mother's house. He first asked for a ride and when the neighbor said no, he then asked for money for a cab. He wore a pair of glasses (wire rim) that appeared to be broken and held together with tape. He claimed they were broken when he was mugged. He also claimed to be a chef, saying he would be back to thank the neighbor by making dinner.

This con artist is very verbal and fluent with language. He spoke with a New York or east coast accent and is very convincing. Of course, he does not live where he claimed. Subsequent reports indicate that he has been working this same con in Mt. P. for approximately 1 week.

Description. White male, late 20's. Dark medium length straight hair. Height estimated as 5'10"; thin body, angular face. dressed in a casual style (jeans, jacket and shirt). Did not appear to be carrying anything at the time. Reports are this person is currently (4/11) working this same scam in Ward 3.


Deborah Dougherty Co-editor, News in the 'Hood



I just called Carmella Kitty's and got some pretty confusing information, if you can call it that. Anyway, I was at least encouraged when someone answered the phone "Carmella Kitty's," and I asked if they were open. A woman said "just for dinner." I told her that the word on the street was that they had shut down, and she said that no, they hadn't shut down, but that they were going to close down in 2 weeks (!). What!?, I asked, you all are shutting down for good? No, no, she said, they are just going to close down the kitchen for awhile to renovate, and then they will reopen. I'm relieved, but something tells me I'd have heard just about anything if I'd stayed on the phone long enough.


I've learned that Carmella Kitty's has indeed closed. Joe Englert (owner of Insect Club, Big Hunt, State of the Union etc) has sold it. It will reopen as the Mercury Grill, according to a well-placed source, offering "fusion" food (several kinds of cuisine).

Evan Roth


Tortilla Coast will be reopening almost 2 years after closing. The new location is on 1st St., SE in the former Heads BBQ (I think it was Anton's before that), this is the same owner as Cafe Deluxe on Wisconsin Ave., NW.

Pappa John's Pizza, a Domino's type delivery restaurant will open in a few weeks at 35th & Reservoir in the former Orient Express, too much Chinese competition closed the original restaurant.

Jolly Crab & Tiki Bar is opening at 1990 K St. NW.

Disclaimer: None of this information is guaranteed, and only serves entertainment purposes.

Charlie Adler



The night herons at the zoo come every year and stay until August. They prey on the baby ducks (as do raccoons and foxes), so the keepers must go around picking up the duck eggs in the wetlands area so they won't hatch. "It's like an Easter egg hunt," they (the keepers, not the night herons) say.




On Thursday, April 11, Parents United sponsored a dialog between public school parents and Dr. Joyce Ladner, member of the D. C. Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (aka "Control Board"). Nearly 200 parents and public school advocates attended the meeting at Hine Jr. High on Capitol Hill. John Hill, Executive Director of the Control Board, also was there.

News from the meeting, not covered by the Washington Post (surprise!), included: -- the Control Board has made public education a "core service," entitled to budgetary priority (along with public health and safety); -- the Control Board has announced its intention to consolidate D.C.'s debts and seek a loan (Chairman Brimmer reversing his position announced in the Post last week); -- the Control Board has told the Board of Education that it does not want the BoE to furlough teachers; and -- the Control Board intends all closed school building to become revenue-generating and all revenues to be plowed back into capital improvements for the schools (the Mayor proposed in the past that some of these revenues go into the city's general fund); -- the Control Board intends in its second year (just beginning) to exercise more authority under its "management assistance" mandate; with respect to DCPS, the Control Board intends to see more resources going to the classroom.

Most speakers asked that the Control Board actively oversee the management of the schools. Specifically, parents requested that the Control Board: make DCPS produce school-by-school budgets; make DCPS produce a capital improvement plan; ensure that any taxes or payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOTS) on property of closed school buildings go to DCPS for capital improvements; have DCPS explain why it subsidizes food services by more than $10 million a year; support the concept of school-based management or "Enterprise" schools in more than name only; and improve the school lunches.

Dr. Ladner was both an intent listener and an outspoken advocate for public education. She remarked that all five members of the Control Board "care deeply about the city's children" and share her view that public education is one of the city's very highest priorities. She stated her intention to work within the Control Board to find money to increase the starting pay and top pay for teachers, expressing her concern about attracting and retaining good teachers. All in all, it was a very positive and hopeful event. Now we just need action.

Barbara Somson


American University and Spring Valley

The current issue of The American Jurist, the Student Magazine of the Washington College of Law, has a cover story proclaiming, "Spring Valley, As pretentious as they want to be." The cover includes an advertisement from the 1940's which not so subtly proclaims the neighborhood's ability to keep "Disturbing Elements" out of the neighborhood. Inside, the story details the racial covenants, lawsuits, and other tools the neighborhood has used against various unwanted types. I guess the truce is still a ways off in this war.

Jon Desenberg


It has become painfully clear that American University either grossly underestimated or intentionally understated the numbers of cars that their students would be parking at the Law School on Mass. Ave and 48th St. In either event this error or lie has resulted in a chaotic and painful situation for those who live near the Law School. My own version of "frontier justice" coupled with a twelve foot pole with large letters proclaiming DRIVEWAY and DayGlo red paint on the curb edges have kept some of the offending parkers from blocking the entrance to my driveway and garage or my exit to the street. I have found the Law School students to be polite, contrite, and genuinely unaware that they were illegally parking. The fault is clearly in the planning, or lack thereof, by American University. There is a bus that purportedly carries students to and from the Law School from the main campus. The bus is almost always empty but for a few, obviously, foreign born students who do not have, or want, a car to drive in Washington, D.C. The number of available spaces in the parking garage is apparently far fewer than is needed to keep students from taking up the available spaces that are needed in front of homes near the Law School. There have been few, if any, incidents involving disorderly or rowdy students at, or near, the school and that is what I would expect of graduate students in search of a profession.

The District Police have clearly abdicated their responsibility and do not enforce legitimate parking restrictions. Don't bother calling the District Police. My own track record is four responses to thirty-three calls and only two tickets issued. It would be clearly cost effective to enforce parking in this area. One parking enforcement person would pay for his/her salary and benefits three or four times over each day by writing tickets for those who ignore the unenforced parking time limits and other violations that abound in the neighborhood adjacent to the Law School.

What next? Look for AU to drop the other shoe. They will lay claim to the majority of parking spaces in what is now the only parking facility for Super Fresh. And that will force the closing of a major asset, indeed a major necessity, for the residents of AU Park and Spring Valley.

The AU security personnel WILL respond to calls from neighbors who have been grossly inconvenienced by someone blocking their exit to the street. IF the student number is provided to the AU Law School security chief (the sticker is on the windshield of student owned vehicles) they will track down the student and get the car removed. As for frontier justice, it works. The word is out. Don't park in front of Ed Barron's house or you'll find Crazy Glue in your trunk lock. That's a $75 private parking ticket. No, I was not the vigilante that blocked Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's limo the other night. The Red Baron was in New York when that happened. But should Ms Ginsberg return and park in my driveway - Look out Snoopy.

Ed Barron


Public Works

My neighbor Jonathan Abram makes a good point about the dark street lights on 34th Place. I called Public Works today (939-7900) and the phone was answered on the first ring. A knowledgeable-sounding man gave me this report: The "old style, short-stem" street lights on our block are a high-voltage model that only Pepco can replace. He said the city council is expected to review the contract with Pepco next week, and that work on such street lights can begin immediately if the contract is approved.

Ted Weidlein


I don't know if it was the electronic activism or simply that DPW just got around to it, but the northwest corner of Garfield and Connecticut is, indeed, a corner again. The chasm once poised to break a leg or consume a pet has been covered by new concrete and a fresh personhole cover.

So there's hope!

John Keefe


I also got a flat tire from the pothole at Reno & Newark. Mine occurred on Tuesday night 4/9. I didn't even see it coming but I sure felt it. There were two cabs and another car parked directly in front of the pothole, apparently with flat tires as well. I thought about sending my $80 tire bill to DPW with a patching plea but knew it would be ignored/lost/laughed at. It's so deep you can practically see molten magma at the bottom from the earth's core.

Also, there's an incredible pothole obstacle course on Garfield St. eastbound right before it's intersection with New Mexico Ave. There is almost no road surface left. The remaining pavement resembles an english muffin of potholes four to five feet in diameter. Navigate those nooks & crannies carefully. Or just take Cathedral.

Rick Rosenthal


Peoples Republic of New Columbia Poetry Poem 5 Marlene

Marlene Johnson remember her Just an old friend of Marion's. Long she may have been toiling In anonymity but now is in charge Of rates of utility. Her powers of management are so great The district managed so well That the mayor once sent her To work in the great Caribbean So the Virgin Islands could be like the District And have good government too. Never one to break a commandment and Scrupulous in every way got paid Two different times for the same workday. She is back to bring the city Up to par or at least the proximity. Brilliant and excellent at her craft Only a bore like me would chortle As the mayor and she finds a rhyme Ending in corruption and graft

Joseph R. Poisso <c> 1996 Joseph.poisso@


The Washington Storytellers Theatre is presenting two events of interest in our community during the next two weeks:

Saturday, April 20, at 8:00 pm: MI PUENTE ES UN CUENTO/MY BRIDGE IS A STORY, a program of storytelling for adults at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, 4700 Whitehaven Parkway NW (off Foxhall Rd.). The storytellers include senior citizens from Colombia, Santo Domingo, and Cuba, who will tell some very lively traditional tales from their countries in Spanish (there will be English translation alternating with the Spanish); after intermission Quique Aviles, a local performance artist, will present selections from "Latinhood," a series of vivid monologues by (fictitious) Latino characters in DC. Tickets are $10; $6 for seniors and students; reservations may be made at 202-291-2170.

Saturday, April 27, 10:00-4:30, is a day-long symposium with workshops, co-sponsored by Washington Storytellers Theatre and the African-American Writer s Guild with funding from the Humanities Council of Washington, DC. Entitled WEAVING WORDS: STORYTELLERS AND WRITERS SHARING THE COMMON THREAD, the day aims to bring storytellers and writers together to discover from each other useful creative techniques, and to teach verbal artists how they can serve the local communities as important educators. Workshops include "Storytelling Across Cultures," "Finding Stories Through Improvisation," "Fusing Narrative into Poetry," "Creating Stories with Children," "Words and Rhythm." A panel of artists who have worked in public housing, service agencies, schools, senior centers, etc. will discuss "The Storyteller and Writer in the Community."

It's going to be an exciting day full of both creative fun and serious reflections on/information about serving and bridging gulfs in our city. Thanks to the Humanities Council funding, registration costs only $5.00 for the entire day.

WEAVING WORDS will take place at the Edmund Burke School, 2955 Upton Street NW (at Connecticut and Upton, 1 block from the Van Ness/UDC Red Line METRO). Advance registration is required, since space is limited. Call 202-291-2170. For other information about WST, e-mail me, Jo Radner, at JRADNER@AMERICAN.EDU.


There is a pretty solid underground of early music (we're talking medieval up through baroque) fans out there. You know who you are. Catch the 10th Anniversary Concert of the Palestrina choir April 27 at 8 p.m. at St. Matthew's Cathedral (1725 Rhode Island Ave., at the corner of RI & Connecticut NW). It's free, but they're also taking donations. Music of Palestrina, natch, but also Lassus, Clemens non Papa, & Layolle.

Francine Krasowska


If you're working too hard for too little...if DC, its too, too winter weather & other assorted aches & pains is getting to you...if you yearn for something to sharpen your senses and brighten your spirits...I have the perfect remedy! My small company specializes in Italy (because it's the place I feel most ALIVE)...and we've put together a Spring in Tuscany & Umbria trip to die for. Join our group--just 8 so far but we can take 3 more--and take off from Dulles to Rome on May 14. We sample the Eternal City (everyone loves our Tosca walking tour) and then we drive off in our cars to Siena for our private villa in the vineyards. YOU can be with us, sipping wine on the terrace as dusk falls and the lights come up on the Torre di Mangia in Siena below us. Si, si, this is a WOW, mamamia kind of trip. We're going to visit the wine producing estate of Vignamaggio (where the Mona Lisa was born and where the Kenneth Branaugh film, Much Ado About Nothing was made). After some delightful festivals & visits to the most charming hilltowns, like San Gimignano, we'll move on to Orvieto and Gubbio for a fantatistic, yet still not crowded, festival & cross-bow competition in medieval costumes. E cosi via! There's lots more with an overnight in Ravenna and we end up in Venice & fly home from there May 30. You may never, ever have a "dolce vita" trip to Italy to equal this one. Want a free brochure? Email or call me, Patrizia (Patti) at 202 237-5220.


Summer sublets or house-sitting wanted, mid-May to mid-August for grad students from U. Texas, Austin, coming to DC for internships. Also, if you know anyone going to Austin for the summer, space is available there. Contact me, or, in Austin: Dan Lieberman, 512-302-1927. E-mail: <>

E. James Lieberman, M.D.


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Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

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