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June 20, 1996

Stone-Age Formatting

Dear Neighbors:

Aren't we formatted lover-ly this time? If not, I know I'll hear from you. The best computer scientists and hackers have been working on this problem. I appreciate all of your help, but wish your advice wasn't incomprehensible for ungeeky me. (Is Mime-Hex a Voodoo thing?)

Now onto the correction department (where I could end becoming a ward thereof). First, my snide aside about Carol Schwartz's campaign for the D.C. Council ("Not that you read it in the Post") was unfair, as a reader (from the Post) pointed out. I'm told it ran Tuesday in the Metro section. In fact, I now recall reading it.

Also, Harold Brazil will not have to give up his Ward 6 seat to run for the at-large seat. Cautious Harold is safely ensconced regardless of his decision.


Jeffrey Itell


Sam Smith

Cleveland Park has been the home of a number of independent journalists. I'm sure I'll leave out many of them, but to name a few who practiced their trade way before coffee bars replaced real bars, there's Izzy (I.F.) Stone, Milton Viorst, and Sam Smith.

This month, or thereabouts, Sam celebrates his 30th anniversary as writer, journalist, political activist, and editor of The Progressive Review (formerly the DC Gazette and before that, the Capitol East Gazette). A native Washingtonian, he covered his first Washington story in 1957 as a radio newsman. The Progressive Review has been a finalist in five of the eight years in which Utne Reader Alternative Press Awards have been given. Twice has had articles selected by Project Censored as one of the top ten under-covered stories of the year.

Sam has long been active in alternative politics. He's currently writing a book to be published by WW Norton on how we can create a society in which the politics aren't broken and the politicians aren't fixed.

His book, Shadows of Hope: A Freethinkers Guide to Politics in the Time of Clinton, was praised by the liberal columnist Coleman McCarthy, the conservative Washington Times, the populist Texas Observer and the libertarian Reason magazine. The book was published by Indiana University Press as was his earlier work, Captive Capitol: Colonial Life in Modern Washington.

Smith has helped to organize two recent national conferences of third party activists and was on the founding boards of the Green Politics Network, the National Drug Strategy Network, the DC Community Humanities Council, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, the Washington Review of the Arts (formerly the arts section of the Gazette) and the DC Statehood Party. He is currently on the board of the Fund for Constitutional Government and on the advisory board of Funds for the Community's Future. Has been a neighborhood commissioner and a PTA president.

He was active in SNCC's Free DC movement and the campaigns of Julius Hobson, Fred Harris, and Gene McCarthy. And was a co-plaintiff in six public interest law suits involving DC issues -- four of them successful, including one requiring the city to give "great weight" to the opinion of neighborhood commissions.

He has been a drummer, piano player and singer and has led his own band. He co-wrote a musical revue of DC history performed in the 1970s. He was navigator of a Coast Guard cutter and executive officer of a Coast Guard reserve unit.

He was a member of the state of Maine crew in the 1958 New England Men's Sailing championship and a member of the Harvard sailing team.

Which all goes to prove that a good life is worth living good and unbeholden. As one independent "whatever" to another, thanks for showing me the possibilities. I wish you 30 more years of success.

Jeffrey Itell

Sam Smith can be reached at 1739 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington DC 20009. 202-232-5544. FAX: 202-234-6222. or on the web at


Mad Driver's Disease

[Kristen wrote in last week about one of D.C.'s inspired drivers--the type that seeks pedestrians in crosswalks. Instead of asking us what we should do when these psychos come upon us, I asked Kristen to ask the Park Service Police. As Kristen found out, yes, Virginia, there is a Sargent Claus. jeff]

I finally called the Park Police and spoke with Sargent Claus, a very helpful person. He said that since I don't have a cellular phone, I couldn't do much at the time of the event. In addition, face to face confrontations are obviously not advisable. He did take my information (plate and description) and said he would look up the guy in the computer. If he found the driver's file, Sargent Claus said he would call the driver and tell him that someone made a complaint against him and he had better be careful (unless a cop sees the event, they cannot do much). He will call me back after all this is done. When I asked about the Police Officers who are working on the traffic flow/transition on Rock Creek Parkway, he said they are usually concentrating of their jobs.

I also asked about the availability of driving records to the public. S.C. said in MD a person could go to the DMV, pay some money, and get all kinds of information. He wasn't sure, but thought that DC had the same laws. Hmmmm.




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,

Ok, Art, I'll split the difference with you. The train tunnels do go on one side of Farragut, but the NPS objected to the pedestrian tunnel. I think the tunnel also got knocked out over price as well.

Carl Bergman


Adam's Morgan rumor

The city is forcing the vendors on Columbia Road, east of 18th Street, to leave. The vendors wanted to know why they have to leave but the market at the Crestar bank (Columbia Rd and 18th Street) can stay. The city said, "because Crestar is responsible for them." Crestar said, "No way." Now, I hear the market is going to be closed. Anyone? Anyone at all?

Peter Luger

[If I remember the news article correctly, the market has one month to get the necessary permit to remain open. I can't remember the details, but I got the impression that some arrangement would be made to keep the market open. I may eat my words--if not my tomatos--if I turn out to be wrong. Anyone else want to weigh in? jeff]



There are three great places to rent canoes in DC: (1) Fletcher's Boat House off of Canal Road, (2) Thompson's Boat House at VA ave and Rock Creek Parkway, and [my favorite] (3) Jack's Boat House at the Western end of K Street under Whitehurst Freeway. Each offers a different portion of the Potomac River.

Rick Rosenthal


Cable TV

>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 don't know if you have a choice, but I recently got DC Cable Vision. They were very efficient in making the appointment on a Saturday, getting there on time, and getting the job done. They are currently giving a rebate from Sprint, and a deal on HBO. There are also lots of not-quite documented channels that are quite amusing, and I even found The Dating Network one boring afternoon.

Dianne Rhodes



Councilmember Patterson wrote:

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.

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].

There is no such thing as a Council or Congressionally mandated line item in any city agency budget. Under the system used by Congress and the Council all agencies are divided into one or more Control Centers. For example, Foster Care Payments in DHS is a Control Center. These centers also show 'Object Classes", for example, buidling rent, or Personnel Services. The budget does not go any lower.

To add to the lack of control, the Object Classes have no formal establishment or modification rules. That is, the board can justify $4.5 million for kindergarten aids, and put some or all of the money in a line for contractual services. To put an even more fine point on it there is no program, no budget, no nothing called kindergarten. Someone at the school system may have a number on an envelope, but there is nothing with that name anywhere in the city's financial system.

However, there is NO critiera for these. They vary in size and in logic from agency to agency. As I noted here before 80 percent of all funds in the school system are in one control center. This is the level that Council and Congress review the budget. The Council has been mandated to review and approve these divisions for fifteen years, but simply ignores this task.

Ms. Patterson should ask the board where these new funds are shown, and how the Council would know if they were moved from their purpose. I don't doubt that she and the other members of the Council think they put these funds in the budget. Apparently, they are unfamiliar with how the city budget system works -- or doesn't.

Carl Bergman



I have taken great interest in the Merchant News section of DC Story, especially as this news pertains to the Forest Hills/Van Ness area. About a month ago a subscriber to DC Story asked - "So, what's the deal with Van Ness"?

I will attempt to answer this question as both a resident and a merchant. Your responses will assist a newly forming Van Ness/Forest Hills Merchants Association in addressing issues, comments, and solutions that are on your mind.

1. The area is in need of a face lift. Tall buildings and lots of concrete impose an urban feel on an area that needs to have more of a neighborhood feel. Area landlords need to be convinced to add green: trees, flowers, park benches, bike racks, and other things that give visual clues that it is a neighborhood, not the inner city. Most retail areas along Connecticut Ave. in NW DC are one or two storeys high, while Van Ness looms at 7+ storeys. This could be brought to "neighborhood scale" with tastefully designed awnings, more trees and more park-like public space. The unsightly edifice of the building housing Boston Market and Office Depot could be improved tremendously by commissioning a large, colorful mural.

2. Parking is difficult. Improvements have been made recently, such as the addition of about 25 parking meters behind Van Ness station (4250 Conn. Ave.).

3. The retail mix is not correct for the neighborhood. A specialty bakery, art film house, and a post office are more appropriate for the bedroom demographics than Roy Rogers (on its way out, I've heard) Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Part of the problem is that are two distinct customer bases:

* UDC and the office crowd, who shop during the day * the Van Ness/Forest Hills residents, who shop evenings and weekends

As UDC has been continuously weakened by budget cuts, these businesses dependent on the disappearing students, staff and faculty have been closing their doors. New businesses that might be considering locating in Van Ness are frightened off by the growing number of vacancies. I believe residents of the area are becoming frightened off for the same reason.

The irony is: we now have an opportunity to attract the type of stores the residents of Van Ness/Forest Hills want.

4. The Van Ness neighborhood is composed of many apartment dwellers who are quite transient. They are unlikely to have a vested interest in the neighborhood since they own neither property or progeny, and at best will reside here a year before moving on. The residential base on the tree-studded side streets off Connecticut are physically removed enough to require the use of their cars when running errands. See #2.

5. The neighborhood lacks critical mass. There are lots of good businesses in Van Ness ... they're just spread out over several L-O-N-G blocks, in stead of being clustered right next to each other like Cleveland Park, Woodley Park or Chevy Chase.

6. The ANCs for the area are terrified of giving liquor licenses; when they do, the licenses are bogged down with restrictions that tie down operators' hands unnecessarily. The chief concern of the ANC is that liquor licenses bring noise, traffic, and unruly folks into the neighborhood. As a resident of the neighborhood, I am sensitive to these issues. However, the virtual moratorium on new licenses prevents ethnic eateries, bistros, and cafes from locating in Van Ness, preventing the formation of any critical mass. All other neighborhoods along the NW Conn. Ave. corridor have lovely eateries that DRAW quality people - neighbors AND non-neighbors - to the neighborhoods, not frighten them away.

The apartment dwellers and young people in the neighborhood do not attend ANC meetings, leaving these important decisions to the elderly MINORITY who complain and are opposed to the very type of institutions that could re-invigorate the area.

7. UDC is a vital - and virtually untapped - resource in the neighborhood. To date UDC has been ineffective in offering its riches to the neighborhood. There are often jazz concerts, plays, lectures ... but there could be a lot more, and these need to be effectively and regularly communicated to the public. UDC has a beautiful, state-of-the-art auditorium, a cozy outdoor amphitheater, and lots of open public space just begging to be used and appreciated. UDC is OUR university, by the way, and we need to participate in its development into more of a cultural resource for the community at large.

I not only welcome - but ENCOURAGE! - anyone reading this to respond to me either through the DC Story or via e-mail regarding the Van Ness "situation". You can be sure all your ideas and suggestions will be forwarded - in writing! - directly to the Merchants Association.

Andrew Frank, President, Sirius Coffee Company and Van Ness Resident


Free fully-appointed 10 gallon fish tank with large, fancy goldfish to a good home. Moving to Germany on June 24th. If interested, please immediately send e-mail note to


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Jeffrey Itell Publisher: dc.story

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