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July 26, 1996

All the News That Fits We Print

Dear Neighbors:

So you want to know what shape your government is in. The General Accounting Office will tell you if you read their report:

District Government: Information on Its Fiscal Condition. GAO/T-AIMD-96-133. July 19, 1996.

You can find the report at URL:

Or you can order one free copy by calling 202.512.6000.


Also free! Short movie reviews and movie discussion

To subscribe, send an email message to and note the name of the newsletter in the subject line or body of the text.


Jeffrey Itell


DC in the News...

I noticed today that the NY Times has begun their three part series on Washington, DC: "Monument to Decay." The second part will run Friday ("A look at two neighborhoods: Washington's richest and poorest"). And the third part will run Saturday ("The fight of the black middle class"). The title today is: "Trying to Fix Capital Where 'Everything Is Broken.'" It even comes with a handy time line of "Steps on a Path of Steady Decline"-- but it doesn't have the last year or so listed. I am sure that today's article will NOT be a welcome call to bring new residents to the city.


[To read the New York Times stories on line, go to , click on national, and find the District stories. If this is your first visit, you'll have to subscribe, but subcription is free. Jeff]


D.C. Tax Break

That stalwart bastion of fiscal rectitude, The Wall Street Journal, came out today (7/25) with an editorial more or less in support of our proposed Tax Break. Of course, they see D.C. as a testing ground in which to prove that lower income taxes across the board are the key to sound government and economic prosperity.

If the WSJ only had a Saturday "Free for All" section (for especially cranky letters to the editor), I would stress the point that to me, a lifelong Washington resident, the tax break is justified purely on the basis of our representation inequality. (Comparably represented Puerto Ricans pay no federal taxes.)

I agree with the point that Congressman Archer is off-base complaining that D.C. shouldn't get "special favorable treatment." I'll be pretty darn ticked if every other down-and-out city, with its continued full congressional voting representation, gets the same tax deal.

Taylor T. Simmons

[Gingrich has already backed off the tax plan. Instead, he is now pushing for some form of mega-enterprise zone. Further diminution of plans to come, I suspect. Jeff]


Children's Museum

The deal giving two islands behind RFK to a development corporation, for construction of a "theme park," will do little for the surrounding community. The planned project is more akin to a mini amusement park than to a museum, and likely will bring more trash, traffic and petty crime than jobs to the Kingman Park area. For those reasons, the Kingman Park Civic Assn. vehemently opposed the project, as did numerous other citizens groups in that neighborhood. Jobs provided will be low-level (concessions, etc) at best, and the environmental disruption of the islands will be severe.

I wrote a story on this in July 1995 for the Washington City Paper. During one of my research field trips, I counted 20 turtles lounging on one island bank alone, saw a vast array of birds in the mature trees, and walked among splendid blooming bushes. Now that the land transfer deal is done, you can kiss that urban peace and quiet goodbye. Granted, the land is underused in its current state, but that is a pretty lame reason to fell trees and erect an eyesore (and it will be an eyesore; I've seen the plans). Of course, because of the fairly small size of the islands, construction runoff into the already-ailing Anacostia River is inevitable. The whole thing has an ugly feel to it: community disrupted so that profit-minded developer can put a garbage-generating, money-sucking monstrosity with little redeeming social value in the place of aesthetically pleasing park area.

The land pact was OK'd by the City Council a few years ago, but was held up by a Sierra Club petition challenging the city's right to slide National Park Service land to a private corporation. Eleanor Holmes-Norton repeatedly defended the land transfer as an act the city should be allowed to do under home rule. Somehow (read: side-effects of capitalism) the good guys lost again.

John Briley



Since "dan@ids2," who does not even give his real name, is so persistently curious about where I live, I live on Wisconsin Avenue, and I work at Dupont Circle. I *wish* the ACLU paid me enough to live in Kalorama, as he suggests.

It is nice of him to concede that his "choice of words, e.g., "disheveled," may not have been the best to convey [his] views." But the problem is not choice of words but choice of actions -- loitering laws are always enforced against the disheveled, because police officers react to the disheveled just as "dan@ids2" does, without giving it a lot of thought.

Now "dan@ids2" complains about "obviously threatening congregations of people" on the streets. But if they are really threatening, the police can act -- we have laws against assault, and the legal definition of an assault is a threatened battery.

Similarly, Davd Hartley says: "on my block there is a group of people that congregates every day at the nearby bus stop. They urinate on the wall of the metro escalator and drink there all day. They steal all the newspapers from the vending racks, and sometimes I suspect they help keep watch for the local drug dealers. When I complained to the Metro person inside the U Street Station, he said that he was aware of the problem but could do nothing about people like this in public space. What's wrong with this picture?"

What's wrong with that picture is not the absence of a *loitering* law, but the absence of *enforcement of existing laws* against urinating in public, drinking in public, theft of property, and drug dealing. Don't call your Councilmember and demand the enactment of new (and unconstitutional) laws; demand the enforcement of the valid laws that are already on the books.

Art Spitzer


Bad Arbor Day

The second replacement for the tree cut down about 5 years ago is dead. Outside Riggs Bank, at Conn. & Morrison. It looked good for about two months, but bad this week. Sounds like a good place to plant but a bad place to live, if you're a tree and you block someone's view...

E. James Lieberman, M.D.


Reporting From Somewhere in Arizona

I know Jeff wanted local news on this line -- but it was the local news that drove me out of town. Quick update. Yes, saddened by postal robberies, iffy schools, and the weirdness that DC was becoming after my 35 faithful years there, I moved to Arizona six weeks ago. I bought a 3-bedroom house, big yard, for $89K. Is my brain drooling out my ear, as some redicted? Nah. Sometimes I feel like a cheap road-company version of "Morning in America" when I walk over to watch Wal-Mart open instead of strolling through the Zoo, as was my wont, but I am surviving intellectually. I can get the New York Times and WSJ same-day and in English even. They are also online. They use US currency here!

But the good part is that no one is suspicious of you here. The stores leave merchandise out overnight. I bought a bunch of stuff and since I don't drive, I was asking my daughter how we were going to get it home, when the clerk said, "Oh, just take the cart." Whole new mindset. Now, I need to find clients. And new friends. Miss ya, guys. Adults, I've found, are not 100% portable. Teenagers are even less in love with adventure, surprisingly. It's wrenching on some levels. But we continue.



Garage Sale. Cleveland Park--Sat. 7/27 & Sun. 28, 2950 Macomb St NW, off Conn Ave. Household items, camping, clothes, furniture, and more. Sat 10 - 3 and Sun 10 - 1.

David Burka


Maine Coon kitten for sale. 10 weeks old. All shots. Housetrained. Adorable. Needs a good homeowner. $35 to cover shots. Please call Dan Shorkey: 703-526-9439.

Jenna Norwood


Looking for Housemates

Rooms available 9/1 in great group house. U St. area, 1 block to Metro, huge old house, 5 housemates total, 2 shared bathrooms, storage space, washer/dryer, dishwasher, plenty of on street parking, small front and back yard. $300/month plus 1/5 utilities, 1 month's rent as deposit, no pets. Call Amanda at work at 202.357.1302 or at home at 202.358.8454 if you're interested or know anyone who is.

Amanda Revere


My family is moving to northern Loudoun County (near Waterford), and we're looking for advice. If anyone can recommend (a) a good pre-school and (b) a good and reliable general contractor to renovate the basement of the new house. If anyone can help, respond to the address below.

John Heaton


13" color tv not cable ready perfect for the garage or work room. $30. 20" color cable ready tv with stand and remote $175. Glass top coffee table $75 Black Leather sofa 86" $350 Bang and Olufsen beogram rx2 turntable $40 Sony 5 disk cd changer $125

Call 202-884-0290 call before 10:30pm.

Mike Underwood


Home PC Computer Assistance. I'll help you chose and buy the best model for the lowest price, get your computer up and running, teach you the ins and outs of Windows 95 and applications, show you how to maintain your system, build special applications for you, and get you up and running on the internet. $60/hour. 202.244.4163.

Jeffrey Itell


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