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April 17, 1996

No Tax Relief Yet

Dear Neighbors:

I spent some time this week pondering big questions such as why were all those UDC students blockading Connecticut Avenue. President Tilden J. LeMelle said it was because the Chief Financial Officer couldn't (ac)count and the CFO said "Nuts." Nuts it is. LeMelle was overspending his budget, got caught, and needed to buy some time to figure out a way to save his job. He sold the students a crock of bull, riled them up and voila--you were all late to pick up the kiddies from day care.

On the "leaf tax," Councilmember Patterson called for an end to the persecution by leaf nazis. (My words, not hers.)

Finally, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton submitted her tax reduction plan for the District. The plan would provide $750 million in tax relief to District residents, cutting the average federal taxpayer's liability in half. Nope, the bill won't pass this year but it is part of a bipartisan strategy to bring tax relief to cities with fleeing populations. I'll be writing on this subject this week and would be grateful to hear your thoughts.


Jeffrey Itell


Leaf Nazis

The problem with the tickets given recently for leaves in tree box spaces, i.e. in public space next to residential property, is not the tickets per se, rather it is the timing of the tickets. Last fall Chevy Chase Citizens Association paid for the delivery of notices to all residences in our area (some 6000 notices) reminding people that leaves should be bagged and put out for pickup by DPW. Unfortunately, some residents chose not to bag their leaves and raked them into the tree box space or into the street. The time to ticket those residents was last fall, not several months later.

Residents and businesses also have a legal responsibility to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks. That information was included in a monthly Chevy Chase Citizens Association newsletter this past winter. The failure of many residents and businesses to clear their walks presented serious problems for many people trying to use the walks. Again, the city had the authority to issue tickets and the time to issue them was when the sidewalks were not cleared.

Understandably, in these days of potholes and cutback city services, the issuing of tickets in April for last fall's leaves has not been well received.

Evelyn Mittman Wrin, President Chevy Chase Citizens Association ****************************************

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.

I applaud the program to enforce the trash laws. Where I live, in the Dupont Circle area, we have a lot of problems with improperly handled trash in alleys attracting rats (a health hazard). The law on leaves should probably be changed, but do not condemn a valuable program because one small part of it may have overreached.

Jim Kingdon


I'd be less irritated by the reports of leaf nazis if I thought the District was picking up the ones already bagged and now languishing in my alley. They've been there for weeks with no sign of any interest from DPW. I've decided that I'll rake--no, by now it's "shovel"--the leaves in the alley when there's some evidence that they'll actually be removed. It does seem the height of chutzpah to issue tickets when the city itself isn't exactly on the j*o*b.

Barbara Bovbjerg


Leaves don't do much damage, but it *would* be really nice if everyone picked up after their dogs.

Randi Rubovits-Seitz



Papa Joe's Pizza is preparing to open at 2311 Calvert. They have posted advertising signs around the neighborhood, by ATTACHING THE SIGNS WITH NAILS TO TREES. I removed their sign and told them that we'd love good pizza in the neighborhood but they are not welcome to deface the neigborhood in front of my house and most especially are not welcome to damage the trees with nails. Please be alert for this in *your* territory!!

Randi Rubovits-Seitz


Sorry to read that Tortilla Coast is reopening. I could never understand why it was generally crowded with customers. It serves the lousiest so-called Tex-Mex food I have ever had. Don't youthful Capitol Hill staffers have any taste---are they so busy gossiping about politics and ruminating about their careers that they don't pay attention to what's going into their mouths?



Spring Valley Parking

In what may be as rare an appearance as the recent comet, the D.C. Parking Enforcement made two passes through the neighborhood near the AU Law School and struck pay dirt. I counted six parking tickets on Mass. Ave and the short block of Fordham Place. I'm sure there were several others in AU Park if the enforcer made passes there. The time it took for the two passes I saw was about twenty minutes. That's $195 for one-third of an hour or almost $600 per hour (the going billing rate for a pretty good lawyer). A few days like this and the city will be financially sound.

Ed Barron



Break ins have been reported by residents of Northwest DC, in the neighborhood of 35th and Porter. In one instance, a resident ran into the intruder (carrying a gun) at 4 a.m. on her staircase, screamed and then her husband kicked the intruder down the stairs, who quickly ran out of the house. The intruder broke a window to gain access to the house. DC's finest, investigated, took prints, but indicated they don't have resources to conduct a full scale investigation, which could have at least involved questioning the driver of the early morning bus route down Porter Street. . Supposedly other residents have reported similar nocturnal break ins and a suspect, carrying a plastic gun was arrested last week in the early morning hours for public urination in the neighborhood.

Anonymously Yours


C&O Canel

Yesterday I attended the C&O Canel Clean Up that I heard about here in the dc.story - what a great time! I highly recommend that everyone attend the 4th annual clean up next year; this was one of the most well run, organized volunteer events I have ever attended.

In three hours about 150 people cleaned a mile of shore line on both sides of the C&O, painted the bridge on Jefferson Place and re-seeded grass. {Plus probably more things that I didn't see.} We pulled from the canal a Washington Post paper machine (what are those things called??), a toilet, a shopping cart, a bunch of metal, and other items, then picked up countless bags of trash on the shore line.

I talked to a bunch of interesting people, petted a few dogs, enjoyed the sunshine, ate the *fantastic* free lunch that they had for the volunteers and had a true sense of pride in the beauty of a small section of DC. What a great Spring day.

Catherine Lancaster



I need to get my house painted and would appreciate hearing any recommendations (positive or negative) on painters. Thanks... [Please post your responses to Alison directly. jeff]

Alison Kamat


For people who think DC is bad...

NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuter) - Most people living in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region are satisfied with their quality of life but nearly half would move if they could, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The survey by the Regional Plan Association and Quinnipiac College of Hamden, Connecticut, showed that residents of New York City were most likely to move, followed by those of Long Island, New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. It found that blacks (59 percent) were more likely to move than whites (37 percent).

The region's residents were ' 'generally satisfied'' with their quality of life, although the percentage of those ' 'very'' or ' 'somewhat'' satisfied dropped by five per cent to 78 percent from last year's survey.

State and local taxes, air and water pollution, the quality of public schools, the high cost of housing and a lack of sense of community all became bigger problems in the past year, the poll showed. But the percentage of New Yorkers who said crime is a big problem in their community dropped from 53 percent to 46 percent.

The poll was conducted by telephone among a random sample of 1,500 residents in February and March. There were 300 respondents from each of the five areas within the region.

The sampling error for the entire region was plus or minus 2.5 percent, said the Regional Plan Association, which conducts research to recommend policy improvements and promote cooperation between government and private enterprise.

Bill Adler


City Parking

I've left out the original author's name because I'll admit I have no sympathy. (Warning: what follows is written by an otherwise mostly-normal DC resident who has never gotten a driver's license.) Metro runs from the 'burbs to downtown, making for a convenient ride that goes right under traffic. Parking downtown is available, if expensive, and anyone who has seen downtown gridlock can understand why the enforcement of parking regs is onerous. And -- as I gather -- Metro parking is available at Park and Ride, although presumed full at noontime. I guess my question is, what's the problem here? All of the above from the parking lots to Metro to the Smithsonian itself represents HUGE investments in infrastructure for our use, but since it's not quite perfect, this person might bail on it entirely? I don't get that -- are we at the point now where so much of our lives is made simple that a minor inconvenience now seems like a major attack on our collective dignity?

The problem here is that since I can't park at Metro mid-day (as I said, but the response ignores) the fact that it goes under traffic doesn't help, and it's too expensive/risky to park downtown mid-day, so I'm less likely to come down for some events.

No big deal. Unless people running events actually want people to attend them, or the District actually wants people to visit since they might spend money while in town.

I'm not "bailing on it entirely" -- what does that mean? Anyway, I didn't say or imply that.

I indicated that the parking ticket was valid, since I overstayed the two hour meter by 7 minutes.

My point was that the combination of circumstances makes some downtown events less inviting, and I wondered what the solution might be. The responder seems unable to imagine that someone else's transportation issues and tradeoffs, though different from his own, might be equally valid. It's a minor inconvenience, yes, that I can't attend all the events that appeal to me. I don't think I mentioned my, or collective, dignity being attacked. We're not likely to solve many problems if we attack people who discuss them, eh?

Gabe Goldberg



Claude Seymour, in his response to my "Republican diatribe" on retrocession, (the most recent one, anyway) asks about the "discontiguous" Virginia counties of Accomac and Northampton. I guess we could also throw in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan here, but the isolated nature of these areas does not change the fact that only once has a state had its territories physically separated by another state (ie, New Hampshire separated Massachusetts from Maine when the Bay State owned the latter). In any event, the point here is that if DC is to "retrocede" (or is it "retrocess"?), it will be back to Maryland, not to Orange County, California or some other randomly chosen part of the Union.

As for "Republican diatribe," let me point out that my defense of retrocession is probably a GOP minority viewpoint, not to mention a Virginia minority opinion. In terms of political strategy, returning DC to Maryland, where its heavily Democratic population would help tip its congressional votes and its electoral vote toward the left, is a very bad Republican move indeed. I just happen to think it's more important for DC residents to have representation in Congress and resolve the current chaos and corruption of home rule, so ably noted by many contributors to <dc.story>. My suggestion that retrocession be combined with a federal tax break, to entice Maryland to take DC back, also would not help Virginia economically. As for diatribes, I am going to continue to note that the GOP did its duty during Watergate as long as the Democrats continue to say "So What" to the abuses of Whitewater, Travelgate, and now, Iran-Bosniagate.

Tom Matthes


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