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May 2, 1996

Breaking 700

Dear Neighbors:

Congratulations to John Whiteside ( who became our 700th subscriber. Sorry, we have no prizes to offer but we are working on it. Thanks to everyone for helping get new subscribers. Please keep helping.

A couple of technical matters. Please, please, please (have I groveled enough), sign your postings with your name and your email address at the bottom of your message. Formatting this letter is a word that starts with a "B." Following the posting rules can really help me out.

Also, many of you may not be aware that your email software may allow you to click on a world wide web address and launch your browser to go directly to the cited site. This letter includes a couple of web addresses. You may want to check it out.

Finally, I'm dumbfounded by the few comments we've received about the mayor's latest antics. I can only conclude that dc.story readers have either gotten over it or are suffering a severe case of "been there, done that."


Jeffrey Itell


Cleveland Park

I've been meaning to ask this question ever since the first issue of Mr. Itell's "Cleveland Park 20008" several years ago (I'm a bit of a procrastinator): Does anyone have any explanation for the signs on the east side of 19th Street just north of Dupont Circle that say "Begin Cleveland Park"? Whose definition of Cleveland Park is that? [Mr. Itell didn't publish Cleveland Park 20008. His son jeff itell did.]

Keith C. Ivey <> Washington, DC Untangling the Web <>


Rock Creek Park

Stonehenge in Rock Creek. Near the Rock Creek Nature Center, near the corner where Grant Road heads downhill toward Broad Branch, there now stands a configuration of huge, freshly-cut logs standing on end in a row. Bored Park Service employees, or chariots of the gods? Ritual arbocide?



Have any of you ever hiked part or all of the Appalachian Trail? I plan to hike from Harper's Ferry to Georgia this coming Fall, and am looking for suggestions of what to bring/what not to bring, tricks for outmaneuvering bears and monsters, books on how to live on $1 a day, hiking lore, accessible youth hostels, etc. If you or anyone you know has experience in this area, I would appreciate your insights.


Sheraton Hotel

The Board of Zoning voted yesterday to deny the Sheraton's application for expansion by a 3-2 vote. We'll have to see how this unfolds

Ian Gordon



I've certainly done my share of moaning and complaining about DC services (or rather the lack thereof), but two recent events have shown me there's at least some hope for change. About two Saturdays ago, a DC truck came by. Two people jumped out, and one began to mark up our curbs with orange spray paint. The other put signs up on our trees stating that no parking would be allowed for three days the next week. I asked, obviously, what was going on. The men told me that our street (Cathedral Avenue right off 34th) was about to be repaved. This after our (very few) potholes were actually FILLED a month previously!

Lo and behold, the street was PAVED the next week. What is going on? Other streets, with far more and much worse potholes haven't been repaired. As a matter of fact, the burned-out street light that I called about hasn't been fixed. But the street has been paved. Should I just call myself lucky or figure that the street crew was getting in practice on Cathedral Avenue? The men in question who did the work said that the city has just signed a new contract for work. Has anyone else seen an improvement?

Rona Mendelsohn

[Rona: It's neither luck nor happenstance. Last year, when DC didn't have its 20 percent to leverage its federal highway money, Congress granted its first exception and "loaned" DC the money. Thus, there is about $90 million this year for fixing roads of national significance. That encompasses about 40 percent (400 miles) of DC roads. Cathedral is one of those roads. As for the side streets, there's almost nothing in the til, even for potholes. jeff]


The District's street maintenance is no longer functioning. Snow plows and pot holes are obvious, but storm sewers are not maintained, street signs and signals not repaired or replaced, and the roads are a national disgrace. Even Clinton lost hubcaps going to play golf. The lack of a functioning street program is dangerous, expensive in terms of personal property damage, and an embarrassment to the USA.

DC is unlikely to be up to the task, at least any time soon. My thought is to emulate the successful governance of Metro and the airport authority by creating a new authority to handle streets. I'd call it the National Capital Service Authority. Congress is now creating an authority to take over water and sewer-- that's the logical place for streets since the same rights of way are involved. In response to my suggestion Mr. Davis has responded saying this plan is too complicated. Very disappointing.

The issue is going to be handled someday. The current City administration does not consider public works a top priority and nor is Congress showing the necessary concern. The losses and dangers to the public will increase with time. It seems as though only a major disaster will get the attention we need.

Anyone interesting in taking this one on?


I was very pleased when the K street corridor was redone. The brick crossing surrounded by granite, the brick sidewalks. Wonderful. Unfortunately, cars and buses drive up and down K street and before you know it, the brick crosswalks were being ground to dust. I, apparently, wasn't the only one that noticed the deteriorating state of K street. All of the crosswalks in the vicinity of my office were redone, once again in brick and once again, K street looked great. Again, however, they made the mistake of letting cars and buses, not to mention trucks drive up and down on K street. The crosswalk are, yet again, being transformed into dust. The next time they redo the crosswalks on K street (which may or may not be soon) I hope they take precautions of not letting anymore traffic on K street. (then again, maybe some observant soul in the DPW may realize that brick is not the best building material for roads in the DC area).

Since I'm onto my pet peeves, how about the new bridge on Connecticut across rock creek? Will the Lions ever be replaced? Will the storm drains ever be cleaned? I've noticed that it can be quite refreshing to be a pedestrian on the south side of the bridge after a rain storm (with all that standing water being sprayed by cars on passersby).

Larry Bouton


Parking Tickets

[I asked Mr./Ms. Luger--please sign your postings!--to explain how you can beat your parking tickets without long waits downtown. jeff]

On the back of the parking ticket it explains that you can make your case by mail, including photos and any other "proof." While it is in adjudication, the fine cannot be doubled. I'm pretty sure a ticket in adjudication also does not count toward the maximum of three tickets you can have before they boot you, but I wouldn't swear to it.



By the way, Gordon Glaza has branded himself a newcomer with his ignorance of the D.C. bottle situation. Would someone who remembers the details better than I do explain how much money the beverage companies shoveled into the city in order to defeat the bottle deposit initiative? When *was* that, anyway? I've been here *too* long, if anything.

stephanie faul



Why do I doubt the recent "independent audit" of the school system's enrollment figures that concluded there are nearly 80,000 students in the schools? For starters, because the number of kids claimed by the public schools -- 78,591 -- is nearly equal to the TOTAL number of school-aged children (5-17) who were counted in DC during the 1990 Census -- 80,008. And because 1990 Census data indicate about 67,000 DC kids went to public school and we've been losing population since then while the school enrollment has remained steady around 80,000. Add to that the fact that, according to the auditors' report, the criteria for determining and reporting school membership was determined by DCPS, not the auditing firm.

Superintendent Smith's explanation is that the 1990 Census grossly undercounted in the District and the reports of population loss since then may have been grossly exaggerated. While it is true that the Census undercounts minority populations, when you compare local Census data and school enrollment figures from other cities, there is not nearly the discrepancy between the two as there is in DC. For example, in 1990 Detroit claimed 175,436 kids in its public schools, the Census data indicated 181,812, for a discrepancy of -3.5%. The same year the respective figures for Atlanta were 61,373 and 56,406, for a discrepancy of + 8%. NYC's discrepancy was +1.2%, Chicago's +4%, Boston's +3.3% ,Baltimore's was +4.4, and LA's -1.6%. Yet Washington's was 20.6%. Although I did not excel in college statistics, I do understand the concept of sampling errors and know that the Census school population figures are based on samplings of households. I just don't know why there is such a high discrepancy here in D.C.

One explanation for the difference might be the number of kids attending D.C. schools who live in the suburbs. You can stop laughing -- this is not as funny as it may seem, given the fact that D.C. offers full-day pre-k (the 'burbs offer none) and full-day kindergarten (the 'burbs have half-day). And lots of suburban families use grandparents still living in the District for after-school child care.

But we don't know the real explanation because, as Franklin Smith said at his press conference yesterday, they paid $95,000 to a company "to verify the school system's enrollment." They got what they paid for -- it's just that the taxpayers out here still have some questions that need answers.

Barbara Somson



The response has been impressive to my postings about "No taxation without representation"--even enthusiastic, a bit surprising given Washington's reputation for jaded political cynicism.

If it was not clear, my greatest hope for real action on this issue is a political or legislative solution. Some have raised question with the constitutional arguments against Federal taxation of District residents, but I would not rule out such a tact completely. Particularly if there are a sizable number willing to openly challenge the legality of this taxation, and importantly those willing to help defend them, a legal tact can contribute substantively toward a political or legislative solution. Though the passage of time without a successful challenge would raise doubt about whether a legal/constitutional silver bullet exists.

Which leads to the question: Does anyone have first-hand knowledge (or solid second-hand knowledge) of District residents not paying Federal taxes _for the political purpose of lacking representation_? I am regularly told by friends and associates that such is not uncommon, even _legal_ (!), but have yet to identify a single individual actually fessing up to doing so (Seems like the definition of an Urban Legend unique to DC).

In either case, I do have a number of proposed actions regarding the entire issue of taxation and representation. For those who have expressed interest thus far, thank you. And for anyone else interested, please let me know.

Randy Wells A DC Citizen for Tax Justice


Jeff -- It seems like you've got some good follow up on the federal taxation without representation and related issues. Maybe we can start an electronic forum/DC Story sub-group for those who are interested in doing legal and political legwork on this issue. I'm not a lawyer either, but why can't the constitutional issues be challenged under other clauses, such as "equal protection under the law?" If you try and tell me that a kid growing up somewhere in the depths DC has the equal protection of a kid growing up somewhere in McLean, VA -- one glance at the murder statistics alone would prove you wrong. There have got to be legal and/or political options to deal with the injustices here. Let's do something about it.

Jim Foti



As a non smoker, I've tried to keep an open mind regarding the rights and concerns of both anti and pro smoking militias. But as a chronic sufferer of asthma who has sucked down oxygen in EVERY emergency room from the OLD Children's Hospital to Shady Grove-1995, I've come to the conclusion that the folks leading the Smoker's Rights Militia just don't get it. Your so-called rights greatly effect those such as myself who packs Primatene like Adrianne Flynn packs cigs.

Cigarette smoke has impacted my respiratory system when smoking was considered "cool" and LONG before any Philip Morris scandal hit page A-1. Certainly, the Washington, DC climate has never been a friend of mine, but before offers the age old advice to relocate to the asthmatics promised land--Arizona, let me ask why should I transplant 3000 miles away to a 100+ degree climate because your so-called rights plays a factor in my ability to simply breathe? Must I have a seizure across the ashtray of Adrianne Flynn, for the realization to set in that...duh...there's a separate population of adults and children that aren't concerned about second hand smoke-lung cancer--they're busy contributing to the rising death rate of asthma induced attacks. No, not every statistic results from loitering in Tobacco Cave, but I can promise you it plays a factor.

Adrianne Flynn points out "our atmosphere is full of noxious toxins" and makes an impressive whine from the smoker's newest level of caste...sniff-sniff....or in my case wheez-wheez. But Ms./Mr. Flynn, let me provide a visual of my nic fit vs. your decision to have a nic-fit. My lungs, unlike your black-sooted ones, react to Camels by constricting and filling with mucus. Therfore, it's my nebulizer I must dig from my purse to return my breathing to normal and hey--if that don't fix it, then...hi-ho, to Holy Cross Adventist I go....


Please keep running the diatribes from smokers. They're amusing, in a predictable, radiantly self-righteous way. I think smokers should be encouraged to learn about using e-mail anyway; emphysema and laryngectomy make it awfully hard to use the phone.

stephanie faul


Perhaps we could put aside mutual intolerance and move on to far more scintillating matters, such as the Mayor's latest peccadillos and whether Ed Barron ever found an interesting place to put his 15-foot pole.

Suzanne Gallagher



Last Wednesday night {the 24th of April} at around 10:00 PM *6* fire trucks with full horns blaring and 2 police cars pulled up to the building next to mine - 3801 Connecticut. They proceeded to pull out hoses, oxygen tanks and various equipment, then kind of ran around a little bit. Then 15 minutes later packed it all up and left.

Does anyone know what this was? Was it a training exercise, or maybe a false alarm? This is the second time that I have seen this happen and it has me very curious.

Catherine Lancaster


Used Books

To Dan Turner: I deal happily with Alphaville Books, next to the Avalon Theater at Ch. Ch. Circle. I agree you should get a decent price, but that's 1/3 to 1/2 of what the dealer can sell it for, not necessarily what an appraisal says it's worth. Goodwill and Salvation Army and Vassar Book Sale and Stone Ridge School all take used books and give donation slips.

E. James Lieberman, M.D.



For a virtual World Wide Web taste of the raw, terrifying potential of the Silver Spring mall, check out Discovery Channel Online's Special Event "Buy-O-Sphere" in which writer Vince Rause is sent to the world's largest enclosed shopping complex -- the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta -- and doesn't come out again for three long weeks. Feel his pain, join his vacuum-sealed existence and watch as science-type experiments are performed on him.

You'll need a Netscape-version web browser or Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but it WON'T work well with AOL's browser, because AOL's browser doesn't support tables and uses proxy servers. The address is: Click on the Special Event button to the right.

This could be our future. . .

A. Sanford


People's Republic of New Columbia Poetry Poem 2 Financial

There was an television bacchanal A man, a woman, a kind of white powder Which polite persons and PC (Neither group is gracious enough To include the likes of me) Whisper Not a word, Beg your pardon And see no impediments to service At least high and low public. How else does one learn To be a distinguished wizard fancy Of all aspects of District finances?

Joseph R. Poisso <c> 1996


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Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

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