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June 19, 1996

Ed Barron’s Driveway

Dear Neighbors:

Reading between the email lines, you can tell that I’ve been playing around with ways to format this letter—without much success. I’m trying to use Microsquash’s advanced tools to correct spelling and obvious grammar mistakes and format it so that it’s as pleasing as email will allow. But mostly I’ve been messing up by leaving in codes that many of your programs can’t translate. I think I have the problem licked with this message. But given my luck, I have a feeling I may have made the problem worse. Thanks for sending back lousy copy so I can see what’s happening out there. Please do the same if this message looks like email from outerspace (or the mayor’s office).


Not that you read it in the Washington Post, but Carol Schwartz has jumped into the fray for one of two open, at-large council seats. Schwartz’s entry really changes the fall races. The two at-large vacancies are created by the retirements of John Ray and Bill Lightfoot. Harold Brazil is giving up his seat to run for the Democrat al-large seat, presumably to buck up his chances for a run at city figurehead, er, mayor. (The seat is not reserved for Democrats but let’s be realistic.) Some Democrats like Harry Thomas Jr. (son of Harry Thomas, Sr.) were debating whether to run as an independent instead of a Democrat because of Harold Brazil. (The other seat can’t go to the Democrats—they’ve already got too many seats.) But with Schwartz in the race, we’ve got two well-known candidates going after the two open seats. And what if Lightfoot (an Independent) changes his mind and runs? Oy gevalt. So much to write about.

Here’s an anecdote I picked up. Carol Schwartz told Kathy Patterson that once she’s elected to the council, they can take turns being hated by the other councilmembers. *********************************

Good news. Ed Barron has volunteered to host the next Electric Backfence Party in his infamous driveway, though he cautions, "It's not my driveway anymore. The District has annexed it by surrounding it with a Metro Bus stop."


Jeffrey Itell


Sucking Up (we encourage it)

It seems that people only write a letters when complaining about a rude a snippy waiter or crummy food. Therefore, I'd like to steal this opportunity to say that I REALLY enjoy the hometown, info, insight, sometimes crossfire, misc. griping and humor that I get in DC Story. It's become an interoffice way to relax w/ my cup 'a jo while simultaneously performing a Copperfield-illusion of hard worker.



It is clear that Barry has picked a Police Chief who is in hizonner's back pocket. It was very clear, during the UDC debacle, that the mayor runs the Police Department. A courageous Police Chief would have arrested the mayor (and by so doing would have won the hearts of a lot of people in the District and those who were trying to drive on Conn. Ave. that afternoon) and opened up the street.

Ed T. Barron



A correction to Carl Bergman¹s interesting bit of Metro history. He says "Farragut North and West. Metro wanted to build a tunnel between the two stations, but the Park Service objected. The tunnel line would have gone under Farragut Park and wiped out many of its trees." In fact, the red and blue/orange lines ARE connected by a tunnel. I would presume it goes under the park. It is, however, not used for passenger service; it's just for moving trains between the two lines. You can see it if you watch carefully.

Art Chimes


Local Web Sites

I have created a Website that might be of interest to residents of Adams-Morgan. ( It has many photos, and a more realistic perspective on the neighborhood. I am looking for a little more textual content, however, as most of it is photographs. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

Rex Toler


A page that might be of interest: a friend's tribute to Beth Nielsen, the woman who sits at M and Wisconsin and harangues passerby with her conspiracy theories. Find it at <

Drew Williams

[Incidentally, many email programs have click through capability, which means if you place your cursor over the web site URL cited on this email message and click, your browser will be launched and the page brought up. In casual conversation, I found that most people don’t know that this feature exists. jeff]


Do You Know If…

By the way, you raised an interesting point in the pothole saga - that one of the reasons for filling the holes is to avoid lawsuits. May one actually sue the District for damage caused by potholes? Has anyone ever done it successfully? Is it worth the effort?

Suzanne Gallagher


Does anyone know who the cable provider is for Dupont Circle? Do I have a choice or am I stuck with the holder of the monopoly in my area?



I have an addiction to the fresh, never-refrigerated local tomatoes that appear in area produce stands the last two weeks of July and first week of August. Any suggestions from subscribers on the best places to buy these?

I'd also solicit recommendations for places in the area to rent canoes for a day's paddling.



Phil Mendelson Responds

Philip Murphy must have been in a bad mood when he willingly picked up my campaign flyer at the Cleveland Park Metro. Sure, it doesn't answer all his questions, but then he should know, as a former candidate himself, that it is impossible to capture a reader's attention with lengthy manifestos. Now that I've gotten his attention, though, I am happy to answer his questions.

First, how will I "revitalize D.C. Government so we get the serves we need, at a cost we can afford"? Through effective oversight on the Council. For years, Councilmembers' approach to oversight has been reactive, sporadic, and confrontative. Councilmembers should be proactive, their oversight should be continuous, and the approach should be collaborative -- in the sense of working with agencies to find solutions.

Take procurement problems at the Dept. of Human Services. Over a year ago Mayor Barry revealed that hundreds of service providers had unwritten contracts with DHS. Not only is this a terrible way to run a government, but it is against the law. Harold Brazil, the Councilmember who oversees procurement practices held a day-long hearing. The Council then adopted a bill to authorize payment to these providers. No one was identified as responsible for these contracting abuses. Indeed, neither Brazil nor the Council even went so far as to label the abuses for what they were : illegal. There was not even a recommendation to discipline the violator(s). The practice, of course, continued, and finally last month the Control Board announced it would fire a DHS contracting officer. Shortly thereafter, when asked on the Derrick McGinty Show whether DHS Director Vernon Hawkins should be fired, Brazil equivocated. A few weeks later, the Control Board announced that Hawkins would be fired too. The acquiescence shown by Councilmembers to illegal procurements is a contributing factor to the malaise and mediocrity which characterizes our city bureaucracy.

Nor has the Council performed adequate oversight regarding personnel. In 1995, when I was a legislative staff person at the Council, I found that out of 400 annual employee performance evaluations in the Department of Finance and Revenue, only one employee had been rated as unsatisfactory. Taxpayer complaints belied the veracity of those evaluations. No agency can improve its performance if it does not realistically evaluate its employees and hold them accountable. But to date, the Council's Committee on Government Operations (Chaired by Brazil) has failed to hold a hearing to explore how to get Department Directors to improve these evaluations and abide by other aspects of existing personnel law.

Second, how will I "improve public education?" Again, through better oversight. The Council does not have direct control over the schools, but it does have means -- such as the budget -- by which to effect improvements. For two decades the Council and School Board have emphasized mutual finger pointing rather than problem solving. Moreover, Councilmembers have often allowed the debate over educational improvement to be framed in terms of "full funding" -- whatever that means. It is not enough to say we need to fully fund our schools' what has been lacking is earnest inquiry about how to do these things better. These are questions I will bring forward.

Mr. Murphy misconstrues my position on crime. While I believe tackling "root causes" (i.e. improving education and job opportunities) would make a big difference, we can have a more immediate effect on crime by focusing on improving detective work. That is why my flyer says "more cops and prisons don't do enough to stop crime." In many areas of the city the police do not bother to investigate burglaries. this creates a climate of tolerance that breeds crime. Most criminals commit many crimes, so catching one prevents many crimes. Beat cops are important, but detectives are the ones who solve most crimes. We must put more resources there -- catching perpetrators is the best way to reduce crime.

Finally, my position about Home Rule is very simple. We are giving it away and that is wrong. As I say in my flyer: " It's time the Council acted responsibly--and then turned to the Control Board and Congress and said: "Enough!"

Phil Mendelson, Candidate, DC Council At-Large



The District’s budget proposed for FY 97 went to the Congress today -- representing what Financial Authority Andrew Brimmer characterized as a "consensus" budget developed by the board, the mayor and the Council. This is to report specifically on the budget for D.C. Public Schools -- including good news and bad news. The bad news is that the bottom line for schools is reduced from the spending level for the current fiscal year -- from roughly $600 million for FY 96 including federal carryover grants, to $580 million. That is going to require continuing belt-tightening within the schools. The Board of Education’s formal submission to the mayor requested $652 million. The mayor recommended $544 million.

The good news: for the first time the Financial Authority accepted several "line item" spending mandates recommended by the Council. Background: the control board authorizing legislation gave the Council line item authority over school spending, meaning that the Council could require specific spending levels within the school system’s budget, a major change from its traditional role of approving only two numbers a year: a bottom line appropriation from D.C. general funds, and a total workforce number, with all decisions on how the money is allocated left to the board and superintendent. Last summer the Council recommended some specific workforce cuts aimed at the central administration, but the control board went along with the school board’s plea to be given total authority in deciding workforce cuts. This past spring in acting on a final package of cuts for FY 96 the Council recommended that the authority reverse the school board’s decision to eliminate funding for kindergarten aides and substitute teachers. Again, the authority heeded the school system rather than the Council and did not reverse those decisions.

This time, however, for FY 97 the Authority listened to the Council (and, probably more significantly, the pleas from public school parents) and approved the following: $9.2 million for school repairs; $1.2 million for local school allotments; $4.5 million for kindergarten aides [300 aides]; $2.8 million for substitute teachers; $1.8 million for additional counselors; $2.8 million for per pupil costs of $6,300 for students attending public charter schools [if any are approved by September].

I’d like to thank the parents who made their views known to the Council and to the Financial Authority, particularly the group that has been lobbying tirelessly on the issue of early childhood aides. Although the Council did not hear from the Board of Education or the superintendent during our own Committee of the Whole mark-up of the budget, and the Authority staff indicate they did not hear formally from the school system as they were making their decisions on a bottom line allocation -- they DID hear from the superintendent on the subject of the line items. I do not have that text but I understand in a fax late last week Dr. Smith urged the control board to reject the line items and provide him with maximum flexibility in spending for the coming school year. I find it ironic that, not having lobbied as other parts of government did for their total budget, the school system nevertheless lobbied against these items that have such a very high priority for children and parents. I commend the Authority members for making a difficult decision -- one that admittedly puts them at odds with one set of local elected officials (the school board) while achieving consensus with another ( the Council). I think they are listening to parents, and putting kids first. It’s about time!

Kathy Patterson/Ward 3 Councilmember


Sail on a tail ship in the Aeolian Islands, sampling the fascinating isles of Stroboli, Vulcano & five others. The second week you'll relax on a baronial estate in the foothills of the Madonie Mountains. Day trips from this central base will take us to Palermo and many other marvels of the big island of Sicily. There's just one spot left in this congenial party of seven travelers led by a knowledgeable tour escort -- we’re leaving Washington on Sept. 12, returning Sept. 30. Call or email for free brochure. Great Travels, Inc., 202 237-5220 or email


Beginning Yoga Class in Mount Pleasant. Weekday evenings (time to TBD). Each class will run 75-90 minutes. Starting early July.

Give yourself the gift of time to listen to your inner voice, to find a quiet place inside. Yoga poses (the asanas) along with relaxation techniques make efficient use of all physical and mental resources to bring about better adjustment to various life situations. Yoga paves the way to grace, strength, energy and firmness of body and mind.

Beginning classes are designed for those preferring more guidance. Emphasis is on gentle, through practice of classic postures.

Deborah Dougherty (202)462-6234


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Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

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