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June 9, 1996

Multiple DMV Disorders

Dear Neighbors:

Last night we held our second "Electronic Backfence Party." Sorry if you couldn't make it. Our next one will probably take place in September after we've returned from the beach, mountains, or the Potomac swamps. Someone last night moved that we hold the party in Ed Barron's driveway. Seems like a good idea to me.


Jeffrey Itell


City Council

Kathy Patterson asks whether DC residents are aware of councilmembers voting records. Is this information on the web? One of the best examples of a page of this sort is the HR 3322 page at, but in the case of the DC government I don't think I have stumbled across anything of the sort. If someone is writing minutes using a computer it should be fairly easy to put them on a website.

Jim Kingdon


I was very pleased to hear and read on dc.story Kathy Patterson's commentary regarding the Mayor's request for additional $ for the DC Rec Department. Congrats and Kudos for asking the hard questions that oversight requires. All anyone has to do is to look at the Fairfax County Publication on it's Parks and Recreation Programs for 1996 to realize that we are in the Dark Ages when it comes to model P&R programming. I value your willingness to take a stand and I intend to support your stand in whatever forums I participate in.

Nick Kauffman


Too Negative About D.C.

I have to agree with Bob Doherty's comments about living in D.C. Life can't be all that bad for everyone in the City. I was born and raised in burbs, and as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to live in D.C. Like all my friends I had to move in with the parents after college. But the first chance I got, I moved into the city. I know D.C. has lots of problems, and maybe with dc.story we can help fix these problems. But, even if it takes a while to solve the problems of the city, I plan on being here when the problems are fixed. I can even say all this after my bike was stolen on Sunday afternoon. It was locked up in front of Barnes & Nobel in G-town.

Rob Meisnere


More Positive About D.C.

We have had several comments about negative stories about DC and that we should be more positive. I think all comments are valuable. The following are mine: How about a personal pact among DC residents that wherever possible let's shop, dine, or recreate in DC. Any merchant who has decided to stay in the District deserves our support (for the most part anyway.) I try to do all my shopping here, even if the items cost a little more. Considering the cost of gas and time, I may in fact be coming out even.

I went to the new Hechinger's store yesterday. I was very pleasantly surprised, I was never much of a fan. The store is large, well stocked and nicely designed. Besides, yesterday they had a caterer feeding all us shoppers as part of their grand opening.

Lastly, I applaud those of you who have been trying to eradicate the swastikas. NYC has found when efforts are made to eliminate graffiti, including hate crime graffiti, auto thefts, red light running, etc. the more serious crimes lessened. Keep up the good work.

Leila Afzal


Back to Negative About D.C.

How clever of the Mayor to discover the source of those swastikas sighted around Conn. Ave. - it's that Nazi Control Board, in cahoots with the evil Newt himself. (Kudos to Newt for telling the Mayor to stuff it.) By the way, the swastikas have spread as far as Idaho and Mass Ave.

Boo to the city budget which includes oodles of money for more parking police and cameras to nab those red light runners, not to improve traffic flow, but as a source of revenue. Once again, rather than face the painful task of curtailing the gravy train, the city plans to take *more* money from the little people - drivers. Why do people park illegally and run lights. Perhaps because the lights are out of sync and parking is prohibited in too many places? If the city made an honest effort to smooth the flow of traffic and open up more street parking, then strict enforcement would be sensible. Right now it looks suspiciously like another grab for money. And don't anyone tell me to take metro - it doesn't come anywhere near where I live. Remember the NIMBY's of old that didn't want Metro in THEIR neighborhood.

Suzanne Gallagher



While we're on DQ, I've been jonesing for Arby's Roast Beef and a clam boat from Friendly's. Where are the nearest ones?

Rick Rosenthal



in response to Steven_M_ Goldstein, I would like to find out more about Woodrow Wilson High School Hours, too. There is also a pool at 18th Street and Kalorama, but I have not been able to raise them by phone to find out their hours. Of course I was only calling at unreasonable times (9-5, M-F) so there should be no wonder that there was no answer. I understand that there is no budget for an answer-only answering machine so no one answered and I have no info on that. But it does get better. Privatization to the rescue:

WHFS radio advertising highlighted an apparent solution to my needs: Call 1-800-88-clubs for information on the $99 summer special of their health clubs in DC, VA and MD. I do not yet have the skinny, except that the Washington Hilton appears to be a participant (they have a pool) and there seem to be numerous other choices. Call 1-800-88-clubs now.

Bobby Levinson


Road Work

What's the scoop on curb replacement downtown? Perfectly good concrete curbs are being replaced, while nearby potholes remain untouched. I understand that this is one of the Mayor's initiatives. Can anyone provide information?

Cassandra Goodell

[I'll take this one, Cassandra, though I think I've answered this before. The answer is that the work comes out of two pots of money. The Dupont Circus work is badly needed rehab that is primarily federally funded. Contracts were probably let months ago. Potholes are primarily local responsibilities which popped up because of the bad winter. The city didn't anticipate the problem, doesn't have money to fix them, and is now scrambling around to find funds and equipment. The city couldn't redirect the Dupont Circus money to fill holes. The dough comes from a different paymaster.

Does this sound too bureaucratic? On the face, I admit, yes. However, in this case, there's a good reason. The federal government doesn't want to become responsible for filling every damn pothole in the country. Jeff]


Arena Tax

Is anyone else as furious as I am about the "Arena Tax"? What kind of gladiator mentality is driving the approval of that obscene fee, at the same time that everyone acknowledges their dismay at the destructive cuts in the money available for schools in the District? Or is it required that residents should subsidize only the profit-making schemes of the community's macho-entrepreneurs and overpaid warriors and only remain bovine about the lack of funds for books, teachers and school plants? Oops, I misspoke--everyone who cares about education is simultaneously supporting the remnants of public education. I think there's a serious gender-gap in the issues for activists! Where's the nurturing to be found, if not among the feminine instincts in women and men who care enough to say "NO"? How can this bizarre event be reversed?

[As readers of the Northwest Side Story are well aware, I have always supported the arena and the arena tax. A fair and equitable tax that puts money in a few wealthy persons pockets and taxes companies even though they earn no money, the tax will result in a sub-par arena in downtown Washington where it will cause huge traffic jams and deplete the city's revenue base. What's better is that if revenues come up short, the city gets to tax businesses twice annually to fill the arena mavens' coffers. What's wrong with that? Jeff]


Motor Vehicle Department

I must agree that the service to customers at Motor Vehicle is a relatively delightful experience compared to the services provided by many other agencies in D.C. Several years ago the service at the New York Motor Vehicle Department was the pits. Most of the employees were sadistic misanthropes who delighted in telling you that you had just spent the last thirty minutes on the wrong line and that you had to start over on a new, endless, line.

Just last week I was exposed to the New Motor Vehicle Bureau on Long Island, New York. They have taken customer service several notches forward. As you enter the clean, bright, refurbished facility you are welcomed at a welcoming station where they ask you what they can do to help you that day. That info is entered into their terminal and you are given a number AND an estimate of how long you must wait. The target is less than ten minutes and they seem to be bettering that target. In the meantime, you are invited to sit in any one of several comfortable sitting areas until your number comes up on a large screen at each sitting area. The screen announces your number and tells you which station to go to. There is no line. They are waiting there for you and process your transaction quickly and effectively.

In just a few short years the NY State Motor vehicle Bureau, once noted for its lack of civility, has become a benchmark for efficient and pleasant customer service.

Ed T. Barron


The DC vehicle inspection station on Half Street, SE, has been pretty fast and efficient in recent years, but this morning turned into a typical DC-government-falling-apart story.

When I got there at 9:30 the line was quite short. But it moved very slowly -- apparently only one emissions testing machine was working, and both lanes had to share it. Then the one working machine broke. The line stopped dead. Thirteen DC employees, by my count, were just standing around looking at the broken machine. When I finally left after an hour and a half, the line behind me was way out the lot and around the block, just like the bad old days. And of course they gave me a red sticker, since I couldn't pass the emissions test, so I'll have to go back next week.

Oh well. It could have been worse. The temperature was only in the 70s.

Art Spitzer


I'm confused! The District of Columbia is desperately trying to coax one and all to move into the District, yet when we do we are punished. I recently moved here from Florida, with my car. Firstly, I cannot park where I live because I have a Florida tag. Okay, fine. I head down to the DMV and ask the woman at information what I need to do. She said that I needed proof of insurance, gave me a form to fill out and told me to join line 1. "Is that all?" I asked. "That's all." she said. Exactly two hours after joining the line, (with people constantly cutting in front of everyone claiming they had been there earlier), I got to the window and gave the woman my papers. She looked me straight in the eye and said that that I needed to have my leinholder send a copy of the title and finance contract for the car. She also gave me a number to call for verification of receipt by them. "So do I have to join this line again when I return?" I asked. "Yes." she said. Gee, I guess only some people get the privilege of cutting in front of everyone else.

No! That's not the end of my story. Today I spent all morning trying to call that number to see if my papers had arrived, but the line was continuously busy. I finally got through this afternoon. After the phone rang for about five minutes, someone picked it up and hung up quickly. I kept calling back for about half an hour, and each time the same thing occurred.

I really can't believe this. I'd gladly sell my car, but it's only a year old and so I'd lose a ton of money. So in order to help DC's economy, I have to suffer?!


Thursday, 20 June 1996. 6:30 p.m. Free concert by the Capitol Woodwind Quintet Lion/Tiger Hill at the National Zoo

Celebrate midsummer's solstice as strains of music waft across the Zoo. The Zoo's annual Sunset Serenades concert series opens with a performance by the Capitol Woodwind Quintet. Join musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra as they perform Berio's "Opus No. Zoo" and several other "animal classics" perfect for a summer's evening. As an extra treat, WETA's morning program host, Dan DeVany, will narrate "Peter and the Wolf." Arrive early for hands-on fun with musical instruments from 5:30 to 6:15.

Sunset Serenades continues at 6:30 every Thursday evening (except 4 July) through 1 August. Other performers include the U.S. Air Force band Silver Wings on 27 June; Lox and Vodka, a klezmer band, on 11 July; and an evening of country/western music sponsored by WMZQ on 18 July.

For more information, call (202) 673-4717

Margie Gibson NZPEM053@SIVM.SI.EDU


Thursday, June 20 - 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Congress Heights United Methodist Church 421 Alabama Av., SE "Philanthropy Comes to Southeast DC"

Topic: Private foundation funders are coming to Anacostia to discuss funding for nonprofit community-based organizations. Panel: Norman Carter, Economic & Minority Busn. Development, PEPCO Linda Howard, Summit Fund for Washington, Summit Foundation Moderator: Brenda Parker Sponsored by the Support Center of Washington & BDP & Associates. Cost $55. To Register: 202-833-0300. And for those who don't know, the Support Center of Washington puts on some terrific workshops on all topics that relate to non-profit organizations. Call them at the above number for a catalog.

Joan Eisenstodt


Mature, responsible college professor in DC in August to pursue studies and research looking for housing for one month only. Will house sit. Allergic to cats. Does anyone know of anything or have any available housing?

Geraldine G. Stroud


WANTED: Luggage carrier for top of car, such as the Sears "X-Cargo." Preferably the larger model, about 24 inches deep and 5' x 4.' I can be reached at work at 202-482-1984 or via this medium.

Phil Greene


My yoga teacher, Eliana Bacas, is looking for studio space in NW Washington for classes and workshops. Currently she rents a room from the Washington International School a couple of nights a week, but now she'd prefer a full-time tenancy. If anyone knows of any space available in the Connecticut or Wisconsin Avenue corridors (ideally Cleveland Park) or anyplace else in the general vicinity that's safe and has access to parking, please e-mail me and I'll pass it along to Eliana.

Lorie Leavy


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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