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April 23, 1996

Tax Cut, Anyone?

Dear Neighbors:

Does anyone remember the last time we enjoyed springtime in Washington. It seems that as soon as I store the mukluks, I've got to call my plumber to charge the air conditioner. It's either sweat pants or boxer shorts around the old Itell Communications, Inc. household these past few years. I miss my spring and I want it back. If I wanted the weather Washington has been dishing up, I could live six months in South Florida (summer) and six in Buffalo (winter). In fact, I have.

No one has chimed in on the Norton nonoxymoronic progressive flat tax, restimulation, folks-won't-leave-the-District-anymore bill. The bill provides about $750 million in federal tax relief to District residents. I'm certain it won't pass this year but I seem to be one of the few people who thinks Norton's not out of her mind. In fact, I expect urban tax relief (beyond enterprise zones) will become a defining issue for the Republican Party. To paraphrase Norton at her press conference: "None of the urban programs over the past 30 years have helped out cities. It's time to try something new." Eleanor Holmes Norton--Born-Again Republican? I doubt it though I see Newt's fingerprints all over this initiative.


Jeffrey Itell


The Control Board

Pretty much high marks so far. More than anything else, they stood their ground in the face of the usual political gimmicks from Hizonner and the Council. Their effect is finally being seen in some vague sense of reality in the budget coming from the administration.

I reserve all of my scorn for the Democratic state committee for opposing the Control Board and trying to make it an issue in the upcoming elections. Shame on them. Without the Control Board we would be in far worse shape than we are now (and that is saying something!). I have my problems with the Republican congress, but in this instance they had the right idea. Fact is that the city got into this trouble on the Democrat's watch.

As for respecting Home Rule, let's get real. Given the choice of self governing versus well equipped police, clean streets and fire engines that work, there is no contest. If our elected officials don't understand that then they need to find a new line of work.

Dick Gill


What control board? do you mean that sort of "shadow" control board, the one we hear about from time to time, the one that does nothing as far as I can tell? the control board that dares not speak its name? the one we delude ourselves about? Oh, THAT control board! Enuf sed?

Stephanie Gerard


Leaf Nazis

If the D.C. Govt. is so concerned about maintaining the space between the curbs and sidewalks, I hope they will crack down on the concert halls that plaster day-glo posters on street trees throughout neighborhoods east of Rock Creek Park. Not only do they help create a trashy-looking environment, the staples and nails used to afix them--most trees bear the scars of hundreds of staples--shorten the lives of mature trees. If DPW is concerned about quality of life issues, here's one they can sink their teeth into. And at the going rate per infraction, the city's budget could be balanced in no time.

Ralph Blessing


A quick question for you on this leaf situation... When do they come to pick up the leaves? I rent on Ordway street and I got a disturbing call from my landlord in the fall about some leaves that I had left bagged on the corner. As it turned out, he had been ticketed $25 by the city for something like "unlawful bag dumping etc." We have stopped putting leaves out on the curb whenever possible, however our neighbors have not. I now worry that we will get ticketed for their dumping too! Is there an answer to this leaf riddle?

Elizabeth Clark


Much has been made about the tickets given out to home and property owners who don't clean up their property. In fact, this is a good thing. Now, you might argue that the city has gone overboard but the results, if the enforcement covers alleys, walkways, empty (but owned) lots, and is city wide, will ultimately be a very good thing. I point to NY (my non-favorite city, but one that looks a great deal better than when I left there in '87) where the current mayor said "No more windshield washers". These entrepreneurial homeless persons would stand on street corners and literally blackmail you into giving them a quarter to wipe your window with a greasy rag as you waited for a stop light. The effect on residents and visitors to the city was devastating. When the mayor enforced the ban (interestingly, it is estimated that there were less than 100 window cleaners in the whole city) the entire climate of the city changed. That gesture alone provoked people into watching where they throw their trash, the subways are cleaner (but nothing near as nice as our own Metro), and the city looks a great deal better. So, I withhold my condemnation of the so-called Leaf Nazis until I see what the total picture is and if there is follow through by the city. It may just be a passing mini-fad or brain burp of the mayor.

Ed Barron



Based on considerable written communication and one face-to-face meeting, the Federation of Friends of the D.C. Public Library has found the Control Board to be accessible and reasonable.

On March 15, 1996, three representatives of the Federation of Friends met with control board member Joyce Ladner (former acting president of Howard University) to persuade the Control Board to restore funding to the D.C. Public Library (DCPL) FY 1996 budget. At that time, DCPL was facing a $1.434 million gap due to unfunded raises negotiated with the unions by Mayor Barry. According to Federation reps Melissa Kunstadter (Tenley) and Rita Cloutier (Cleveland Park), the meeting with Ladner was friendly, positive, and encouraging. On March 29, 1996, the Control Board announced that it would restore $1 million to the DCPL's FY 1996 budget. This action assures that all branch libraries will remain open, and that Sunday hours will be maintained at the Martin Luther King main library at 901 G Street, NW. (MLK is the only public library open on Sundays.) Had funding not been restored, the DCPL's absolute worst case scenario called for the closing of 12 branch libraries.

On April 10, 1996, at the monthly meeting of the DCPL Board of Trustees, assistant director Andrew Venable stated that the remaining $434,000 gap would be bridged by reducing internal costs, i.e. overtime; postage; travel; staff training; equipment, supplies, and furniture; and deferred maintenance.

Clearly, it was not just the Federation's meeting with Ladner that convinced the Control Board to restore funding and keep the libraries open. Representatives of the DCPL board of trustees and top administrators also met with Ladner on that same day to plead their case. In addition, many, many citizens also wrote, called, and faxed the Control Board, urging its members to support the libraries.

So, the libraries are open, and MLK is open on Sundays. That's the good news. The bad news is that it starts all over again next month when advocacy begins for the Library's FY 1997 budget.

Jill Bogard, President Friends of Cleveland Park Library



Subject: Who to contact about taxes? Jim, Responding to your note in the dc.story. Suggest that you contact ANC Commissioner Anne Renshaw. Recall that she was the initiator of the "Not one penny more" tax ceiling move-ment last year. Her tele is 202.244.3431. Also David Reed is a great advocate of tax abatement for DC residents. Anne can give you David's number.




Hello everyone. I just want to respond to the negative publicity our low-budget speed bumps (sometimes known as pot holes) are getting. how can anyone fault the mayor for his touching regard for the safety of our children? The ruin of a few automobiles, buses and trucks is a small price to pay!



The on-going discussion of retrocession has been fascinating. It reminds me of a nostalgic boomlet of interest a few months back for statehood: well-meaning, sincere, even a good and viable suggestion.

Just one problem: it misses the point, and succeeds only in dividing DC residents themselves. Without unity there, nothing but the status quo will prevail, with the occasional tinkering around the edges by Congress, such as exemplified by the Control Board in place today.

Instead, I propose a comprehensive program to demand "No taxation without representation." This can begin by exercising our constitutional right to redress of grievances--a grassroots petition addressed to the President and Congress that demands a cessation of Federal taxation unless and until DC residents receive equal rights and representation of every other tax-paying American citizen. The timing is crucial, because a citizen lobby is essential to the success of the current legislation by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to give a partial tax break to DC residents. Though only partial, such a break would be a major step in the right direction.

Importantly, this avoids the old (and tired) arguments over whether statehood is preferable to retrocession, etc. ad nauseum. This debate divides DC residents (about 1/3 in favor of each, and 1/3 for the status quo) before we even get to the fact that surrounding suburbs and states will never have an interest in empowering the District. The key point is that no other citizens of the US are required to pay Federal taxes without receiving representation. Those citizens that lack voting representatives (Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, Virgin Islands in the present, and territories prior to receiving statehood in the past) do not now nor have they ever been expected to "earn" their representation or rights by paying Federal taxes.

ONLY by ceasing the unjust payment of Federal taxes by DC residents will the Federal Government or the states _ever_ have any political or economic interest in resolving the issue of equal representation for the District.

Randy Wells


Ed Barron

>I'm ready to organize a symbolic D.C. version of the "Boston Tea >Party." Any ideas ?

Ummm... how about a big midnight leaf dump in Ed Barron's driveway? And speaking of that fabled easement...

>Only two problems remain. What do I do with my fifteen foot pole and >all the Crazy Glue?

I believe this question is what's known in the business as a "softball." Would that I were a disgruntled parker, that I might imbue the obvious answer with the necessary vitriol.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against Ed Barron's driveway, or against Ed, and I'm happy that he wrung something resembling victory from DC Guv. I just think it's funny that, through this creepy medium, I know so much about it. I've dated women about whom I've known less. And come on, I know I wasn't the only one who had that reaction to the whole fifteen-foot-pole-and-all-the-Crazy-Glue question.


Ed Barron asks: "Only two problems remain. What do I do with my fifteen foot pole and all the Crazy Glue?"

Congratulations, Ed! Why don't you put the 15 foot pole and the crazy glue in a nice frame and donate it to AU Law School for display as art in the lobby? They can put a plaque under it explaining its meaning. And you can take a tax deduction.

Art Spitzer



About a year ago we caught a suspicious looking man pressing his face to the screen door of our Porter Street home. We think he was about to open it. When we caught him he acted startled and would not leave demanding we give him money. He was not a regular Cleveland Park panhandler. Nor did he look homeless. At the time we reported the incident to the police because he was so menacing. He came back a couple days later and we reported it again.

We thought we had seen the last of him until this past Friday (April 19) when he was back with his routine. He seems is attracted to homes when doors are open, as in springtime. He likes the Porter Street corridor between Conn Ave and 34th Street where we live. We reported this, the third, incident to the police Friday evening.

He walked by our home again last night! Luckily we were sitting on the steps as he strolled by, but as he walked toward Connecticut, he approached another home around the 3000 block of Porter in the same fashion he has now approached ours three times. He is aged 35-40, 6'1", 180lbs, thin, dark-skinned African American and was wearing a bright red baseball cap, an untucked, stripped dress shirt with a solid white collar and khaki pants. We called the police. They responded within minutes and I took a ride through the neighborhood with them trying to find him to no avail. They think they know who it is and he is a known burglar. FYI...

Brian Kemler


Collaborative Projects: This past week I've been having fun creating a real interesting "multimedia documentary" about a retired community leader in DC. This multimedia presentation includes scanned photos, recorded voice, and scrapbook writings. I'm now interested in producing several more of these to help hone my production skills. Willing to offer my time for free to help document the lifework/community-work of individuals in our community. The resulting software can run on Macs and Windows 3.1 systems. Contact: Phil Shapiro, (202) 686-5465 (home/office).

Also, I need help in copying a new videotape I recently created. I will shortly be distributing this video to Mac-using educators nationwide.

Phil Shapiro


You can succeed where DC has failed! Get tips from Beth Kobliner, writer for Money Magazine and author of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties.

She'll be at Borders Fairfax on Wednesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. 11054 Lee Highway (703) 359-8420

Nancy Henderson


HOUSE FOR SALE: N. Cleveland Park/Tenleytown: Semi-Detached Tudor 3 Bedroom, 2.5BA, Finished Attic, 2-car auto garage, CAC, Renovated throughout. Please call Ann Young at (202) 471-5239. Ani Gabrellian


For fast, reliable Internet services and cutting edge Websites contact Michael Mann at Interstate Internet Web:


Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story
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