themail.gif (3487 bytes)

May 23, 1996

Eleanor Holmes Republican?

Dear Neighbors:

I'm back. And I was so happy that Marion Barry managed to stay off the front pages of the newspapers in Vienna (Austria, not Virginia). He wasn't so lucky during my past trips. I first read about his crack bust on the front pages of the Frankfurt Times.

I've spent the past few hours parsing the three-foot stack of accumulated newspapers to cull the mayor's latest moves. It seems that a Cora-directed purge is taking place with Yeldell and Allem. More heads are promised to roll. Even though some have predicted Michael Rogers, the city administrator, to be the next one carted through the streets to the guillotine, I wouldn't expect it. He appears to have built a good rapport (finally) with the CFO and Control Board and they might fight to keep him. (Any comments from CFO and Control Board readers would be appreciated.)

Meanwhile, Rock Newman gets caught with his credentials down, trying to milk some money from the city's Blue Plains fiasco. What does this all mean? How can we tell the purgers from the purgees? Here are my guiding principles. Rock Newman and Cora Masters Barry go back a long time together. They put Barry back in office and I suspect (with all due respect to the institution of marriage) that they'd dump him if Barry no longer served their purposes. Rock and Cora have already crawled out of Barry's corner (Newman's press conference, the Barrys' marital problems). Barry seems to be groping to get back into their good graces.

I'll go back through the old papers and see if a clearer pattern develops.

BTW: To join the tax discussion group, just send a message to me with dc.taxes scribbled somewhere.

Also, another gentle reminder. Please sign your postings at the bottom with both your name and email address. Please, please me.


Jeffrey Itell


Eleanor Speaks before an ANC

Ms. Norton vigorously attacked then notion that the District's problems are unsolvable. She stated that the District should strive to copy the "Philadelphia model," and urged that we force City officials and the Control Board to study what has been done in Philadelphia and New York, two cities that have returned from the brink of fiscal disaster.

As for Congress, she said that the only way to make progress was for the City to demonstrate that changes were taking place. The City must govern more efficiently, and show Congress that DC is getting its house in order. Speeches and hearings that are not followed by action simply will not cut it.

Ms. Norton defended her "DC Economic Recovery Act" legislation, noting that it enjoys Replubican support because the bill seeks to stimulate growth through tax cuts.

In response to questioning, she stated that while public schools are important, school advocates must recognize that the dollars per pupil spend on DC school children were as high as anywhere in the country. The problem is that the money is not getting into the classroom. She urged that we go directly to DC Public School System officials and demand an explanation of how our dollars are being spent.

Norton urged the ANC to continue to invite government officials to address the community, and told us that we should not let them leave until they have said how they plan to fix the problems within their purview.

Scott Strauss



I noticed your report on the Tenleytown man living in the tent. That gets me to wondering what the city's policy is on rousting crazy street people. Cleveland Park has at least one guy like that. He often hangs out in the Crestar Bank ATM lobby at the corner of Connecticut and Ordway, scribbling nonsense on deposit slips (I've read them) and mumbling to himself. I once saw him defecating on a tree along Connecticut Avenue. He's obviously mentally disturbed, and yet he's always there on Connecticut Avenue and no one in authority seems to take any interest in him. He would seem to be a prime candidate for a stay at St. E's.

In a related issue, I've noticed an increase in panhandlers along Connecticut Avenue between Ordway and Macomb. One is usually found outside the Brookville Supermarket, another outside the CVS and another who seems to pop up hither and yon.

Where do these people come from? I'm sure I'll seem to some like an smug, Newt-onian pig with no social conscience, but I honestly am getting tired of these people. I refuse to give them any money, and I encourage others to do the same. Am I alone in feeling so hostile to them?

Evan Roth



In case you missed it, today (May 15) at about 3:00 pm there was a hold-up of the Cleveland Park post office. On the way back from work, I noticed that the entrance to the provisional post office was shut off by yellow police line tape. There were squad cars on either side of the street and armed detectives were questioning storekeepers and pedestrians. I heard from someone who had just spoken to the police that there had been a hold-up. This was confirmed by several others. The word was that such a crime is considered to be a federal offense, punishable by 20 years in prison.

Also this week, I witnessed: * a con man trying to trick the fellow behind the counter at McDonald's out of the money for a meal by simultaneously trying to buy food and get change.

* a man being detained by police on the street between the public library and Ireland's Four Provinces.

* a very aggressive panhandler in front of Blockbuster's.

A few months ago late at night, two young men were running gleefully down Ordway Street at breakneck speed. They told me to "watch out." I gather they had just ripped off something.

A week or so ago, another hyper-aggressive panhandler interrogated someone about when he could expect money and what was the name of the restaurant where he was heading.

In addition to all this, the demented fellow who sits atop the Ordway Gardens garbage dump is, of course, a regular fixture in the neighborhood.

Let's not forget the spate of muggings that recently evoked an effective police response for a blissful couple of weeks.

None of this should surprise you, but if you step back and analyze what we have been conditioned to accept as natural, everyday events, our little corner of the world is certainly in a precarious state. If any one of us is in the proverbial "wrong place at the wrong time," we will be dead.

Seth Elan


As everyone will know when this runs, some upstanding types robbed our Postal Shack and now it is closed for at least three weeks (I'd bet longer). So in memoriam to the services we used to enjoy P.A. (Pre-Anarchy), I thought I'd pass along my precious direct telephone number into the Friendship Station, which will allow you to express your feelings to our customer service rep directly without going through Runyon's infernal switchboard. The number is, and write this down, (202) 523-2187.



Woodley Park

As for neighborhood issues, loud parties, parking and traffic are serious problems for the residents of the 2600 block of Woodley Place. Also, of course, rats pose problems aside from being nuisances, they are dirty and can bite neighborhood cats and dogs...unless, of course, you have the best rat catching dog in the neighborhood! Also of concern, however, are dog owners who do not pick up their pet's daily droppings as they are dropped...Our neighborhood is disgusting with its piles of dog droppings on the sidewalks, next to the sidewalks, in people's gardens and on their you know, it is illegal to leave such droppings behind. Does anyone know of a way to enforce the law on a neighborhood basis? Can we have roving patrols of dog walker watchers? I often have an extra bag with me on my walks, but I will not, not, not pick up other folks' dogs' do-do...

While I am at it, both blocks of Woodley Place are pretty dismal looking in terms of the curb-side areas....I know it is difficult on the sides where parking is allowed to maintain a nice-looking space....However, the sidewalks often are covered with dirt and debris, as are the curb-side areas. I include myself in the group that ought to do a better job with our curb-side area. Although the very expensive shrubs we planted two years ago for our area and that of the American War Mothers died within a year or so due to abuse by truck drivers and others using that space to unload their trucks or their passengers. Further, the fumes from parked but left running trucks contributed significantly to that situation. Could we organize an informal group of folks willing to work with the neighborhood to keep Woodley Place a cleaner, more attractive street? Including, of course, finding a way to keep dog-owners from leaving behind their dog waste? How about hiring some of the school kids from the Adams Morgan area who shoveled snow in the winter? They could earn money and we could have a cleaner neighborhood. If anyone has further thoughts, please speak...or write....

Oops, almost forgot...the Boston University student residence on Connecticut avenue will house an awful lot of students...I have been assured by our neighborhood representative that students have fewer cars than apartment dwellers and that it should pose no problem....However, I think it would be useful to develop an early relationship with the BU folks to ensure that the students feel welcome to the neighborhood and also committed to ensuring the neighborhood does not experience any negative fall out from a transient population of an age usually given to more thought about their good times than deep thought about their neighbors...Perhaps we could arrange some sort of welcome to the facility and its managers and students that would include establishing a very positive dialog early on....even establishing a student representative to the neighborhood....


Western Avenue

The pothole story about Western Avenue in the May 13 issue was nice but not accurate. Yes, there are lots of potholes on Western, and yes, more of them are on the side farthest from Maryland, but it is not true that the District boundary line goes down the center of Western. This is another urban legend. All of Western Avenue is in the District. In fact where we live, near Chevy Chase Circle, D.C. goes several feet on the other side of Western.

Ted Gest 73652,


Back in the early 80s, when I worked for the District, I was under the pretty clear impression that Western Ave belonged in its entirety to the District. If one side of it has been repaired and the other not, this is a freak of DC repair scheduling and not a representation of DC-Maryland differences. Perhaps others in the backfence community know more about this, but I am also under the impression that NONE of the border streets are shared in the way AG suggests.

Barbara Bovbjerg


Street Stuff

Re: Daniel Emberley's mention of Paul Dickson and Douglas Evelyn's book, "On This Spot," which chronicles much of the good stuff (and some of the bad) that used to make up our nation's capital, readers may be interested to know that it is being turned into a World Wide Web site.

One will be able to click on a map and find out that, say, Benning Road NE "has been the traditional staging area for the circus when it comes to town." Or see a photo of "Penny Land Shooting Gallery," formerly on 9th St. between F and D.

No URL yet, but I'll let you know.

Dave Nuttycombe


On the tarmac sidewalk boarding Archibold Glover Park where Macomb enters Mass. Ave there is a hole that measures 4'x4'x4'. If this was Florida they would call it a sink hole. It's above a sewer pipe that empties into the Potomac. Is this under the control of the NPS, WSSC, or G-D forbid the D.C. Gov't.?

Steven Fuchs


In Glover-Archbold park, there is a trail between Massachusetts/Macomb and Van Ness streets, that goes behind McLean Gardens. There is now a sign up that says that "behind this fence the area is contaminated with PCBs, do not allow pets, etc. etc." What's up with that? Why is that area contaminated? Is all the creek that runs through there also contaminated? Any clues?

A. Sanford


[Mostly they are the result of citizen initiatives to slow traffic in residential neighborhoods. In Bethesda, Takoma Park, and other places, officials have resorted to installing speed bumps. jeff]

A friend recently told me that in some Latin American countries, speed bumps are called "sleeping policemen". :-)

Philip Bogdonof



I see Bob's Famous Ice Cream is being replaced by another ice cream joint. I forget the name, but a sign says they will open by Memorial Day weekend and that they are looking for people who like to have fun when they work. I didn't think Bob's ice cream was all that good, so hopefully the new place will offer something better.

Also, a Cleveland Park merchant tells me that Crown Books on Conn. Ave. in Cleveland Park has decided not to renew its lease and will close sometime in the near future.

Evan Roth (I don't speak for my employer and my employer doesn't speak for me.)


In response to Margie Siegel on Caffe Italiano and US Famous...I thought the restaurant, though often empty, served excellent, reasonably priced food. Frozen yogurt is a good idea, but I could really go for a Dairy Queen in the neighborhood or somewhere in the DC Metropolitan area.


Herman's in the Park and Shop is going out of business. Does anyone have any rumors about what will replace it?

Leila Afzal


20 May, '96

Maybe Sunday is a slow day at the chicken ranch, but there was little happening at the newly opened Chicken Out on Mass. Ave. yesterday. At four PM there was one couple inside, one couple outside, and one couple (the Frau and me) waiting for takeout.

I knew they should have held a Grand Opening Party for the neighborhood (ala Crate and Barrel). But, then again, maybe nobody would have come to the party.

The verdict - A tasty, affordable meal for two. The side salads are particularly good. Decor is tasteful and not gaudy and for the cooler evenings (you remember those) they have propane heaters on the outside deck. I'll go back.

Ed T. Barron



Anyone know if phone books can be recycled?

E. James Lieberman, M.D.


City Services

Having just moved here last month from Atlanta, GA, I had been dreading the day of becoming an official DC driver by registering my car & changing from a GA license to a DC license. The thought of a 6% excise tax on a relatively new car, which has resided in three states in the last two years now (hence, I've paid tax on this car three times now!) was really eating away at me. Nonetheless, I made my way downtown Monday morning, ready to deal with the bureaucracy.

I was out of there by 9:15 am, new registration, title, stickers, and drivers license in hand. Of course, I still had to head out to the inspection station, and that did take a couple of hours (I sat behind two metro buses in line - I can understand waiting behind fellow residents for an inspection, but surely the District can handle the buses another way without holding us up further...). Nonetheless, I was rather impressed with the efficiency of the process. In MD and GA, I recall having to go through a similar time-consuming process, only to be told certain pieces of documentation would be mailed to me later on. For example, in GA they mail your drivers' license to you and give you a 30-day temporary license. Here in the District, everything was done on-site, at one time. There were a lot of frustrated residents there, however, many of whom were ill-prepared for the process - they did not have the appropriate documentation to begin with, and I think many of them were on their second or third visit! Could this be where so many of the complaints come from - people who did not phone ahead & learn what would be required of them once they got there?


A friend is Urgently looking for office space to sublet (or share with existing tenant). He would prefer to be in Northwest, Bethesda, or Chevy Chase. Please post replies to me directly at (ELAITMAN@USHMM.ORG) and I will forward them to him. He is looking for June 1st move in at the latest.



We're looking for a house to hide in over the summer (June through August) while a second floor gets added to our current home. Anybody know of a house that needs sitting?

A. Sanford


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


Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

Your Electronic Backfence

For a free subscription, send e-mail to


Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)