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July 31, 1996

How ’bout That Police Department?

Dear Neighbors:

Washington Business Journal reporter Karen Lundegaard reports that Petco of Van Ness is pulling up stakes...and moving to the undergound Park 'n Shop location vacated by Herman's World of Sporting Goods and Bankruptcies. Except the move to take place in autumn. The new store will be almost 4 times the size of the Van Ness store.


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Jeffrey Itell


Flat Tax

I appreciate your work with DC Story. However, I have to tell you that I think you used your editorial power to quash discussion about the tax proposal. Your criticism has been quite reasonable, but where is your usual even-handedness? Where are your usual creative alternatives, or revisions to make the proposal better? Surely 15% on middle and upper income brackets would be better than a 0% rate--which was the direct implication of what I had been advocating for months, by demanding NO federal income taxation without representation. Yet I never saw that criticism from you. Nor have you applied your creativity to proposing how a new local DC tax structure could look absent a Federal income tax--how about dropping those appallingly regressive sales taxes? Or giving a credit for sales tax and property tax to lower income residents, as is done in many communities elsewhere in the US?

Following your "Feds are the District's state" line of thought, the District gets milked about $1 billion per year more than we receive in the Federal payment. That's $2,000 per capita, compared to your example of _8 cents_ per capita of New York City residents. With Norton's flat tax implemented, the Federal drain would still be about $600 per capita--would not that be a _little_ more reasonable?

You rightfully harp on the treatment of America's cities, yet when a significant proposal arises to address that treatment of DC, all you can find time to do is trash it.

At the very least I would hope you could help address the appalling lack of awareness that DC is different--that we have been different from the day the Constitution was ratified, making us the _only_ citizens without democratic representation in a nation founded on the idea of democracy. This disempowerment may have looked puny then, compared to the continuance of slavery or the disenfranchisement of women. But today, with voting rights assured for others, DC remains a appalling exception--an exception for which the leaders elected by others cannot even educate themselves.

Also, following your "shut up and act locally" argument, I could not agree more. Many in the District have been working to demand better accountability and services for years. But a major impediment for _years_ has been this rich uncle (the Feds) giving those local political slugs a big bonus check, with little or no accountability,...I would rather that money stay in the pockets of DC tax payers, and if need be some of it can then be given up through restructured local taxes.

But why should they, when even our most decent, enlightened and well-spoken residents--such as yourself--will not speak the truth.

Randy Wells

[Here comes the truth, he said with tongue firmly in cheek. First, District residents don't get drained by the federal government anymore than any other American. We pay for common services in the form or entitlements, defense, interest, and the rest of government (parks, highways, etc.). Second, I don't equate lack of representation with the right to pay no taxes or lower taxes. One's a political argument and the other is economic. Economically, I don't think the flat tax helps as much as other $500-$700 million programs could. As for positive proposals, I've certainly stated some: a better performing local government (which is beginning to happen), more regionalism to develop economies of scale, federal payment of Uncle Sam's share of the pension liability, federal exceptionalism on a program-by-program basis because of the District's unique status, and a renegotiation of the home rule charter that better reflects the reality of the federal and local interests. With all that said, better schools and police would make all the difference. OK, where are the ballot petitions?

BTW: How come there is no righteous indignation about Barry's mismanagement of the police department? Crime is way down across the country, but the best funded police department in the country in floundering under pathetic leadership? Jeff]


The District of Columbia budget is often examined in a piecemeal manner.

Since each small piece may not look bad in isolation, not enough warning flags are raised. The result, in toto, is a budget of over $5,000,000,000 for about 550,000 people, or over $9,000 a person.

To illuminate some of this darkness, I have provided some numbers at:

For those who find the compuserve web server too slow, and for those who do not have web access, I'll be glad to Email the information directly.

Larry Seftor


D.C. isn't bleeding population because of high taxes. Wards 2 and 3 *increased* in population, and why? Because they're nice places to live. People are leaving neighborhoods where there are drugs, high crime rates, and a lower quality of life, factors a change in taxes will do nothing to address. However one may feel on the "loitering law" issue, cleaning up the city -- by which I mean stong crime enforcement, including "minor" violations -- would do wonders towards bringing people back. We have an extensive stock of beautiful houses, and if they were in safe neighborhoods people would be lining up to buy them.

stephanie faul


I agree with Jeffrey that many of DC's problems result from incompetent government. The root cause of incompetent government, in my opinion, is the fact that our elected leaders have an impossible task and therefore noone (well, few, sorry Kathy) competent wants the job. This is caused in large part by Congress looking over their shoulder every time they do something. I know of only two solutions for this--retrocession and statehood. I don't have a strong opinion between the two, but neither one is possible until the financial problems are solved. A nice little catch-22. I like the Norton tax proposal based on a (perhaps naive) view that dumping money into the district (but not the DC government) might help, but if anyone has better ideas about how to cut this gordian knot, I'd be interested in hearing them.

Jim Kingdon


Children's Island

here is my opinion on the children's island park in the form of a letter that i sent to president clinton:

i am writing to you, mr. president, to express my adamant opposition to hr 1508, the national children's island act, the bill transferring kingman and heritage islands back to district control.

preserving and protecting these islands would be a great legacy to children everywhere, not just in dc. it would teach a reverence for and promote a deeper human connection to nature.

i would surmise that an entertainment park, which is proposed for the site, would not be nearly as accessible for children, especially poor children, as the undeveloped islands currently are. wouldn't a piece of nature, albeit a man-made island, untouched by humans, be more of an educational tool than a sterile entertainment park and human-created nature center? is nothing sacred in our quest for economic growth, fulfillment of material desires or artificial stimulation? can this project really be called "progress" when nature is destroyed, wildlife habitats lost, and water and air fouled?

our consumption and overpopulation have already ruined a multitude of natural, pristing areas. please, mr. president, veto hr 1508 and return the islands to the park service for current and future generations to enjoy.




I have lived in Cleveland Park for over two years. The strip of neighborhood shops along both sides of Connecticut Avenue (a pharmacy, a market, banks, theater, restaurants, liquor store, bookstore, barber shop, etc.) was one of the main reasons I chose to settle here. However, I find that I am taking more and more of my business outside of the neighborhood. Why? Bad customer service. Without getting into the details of each story (I'd be glad to share them off-line--they're almost surreal!), pleasant shopping experiences have turned into disasters at:

Cleveland Park Wine & Liquors: I refused Peter's advice, so he "ruded" me. I now shop at Calvert-Woodley.

Postal Plus: The jolly ol' manager asked how could he help me, but then he "ruded" me when I wanted to make ten copies 5 minutes before closing time. I now use USPS for mail and Kinko's for copies.

CVS: When the sale price mis-scanned on a bag of potato chips, both the clerk and the manager "ruded" me when I pointed out the difference. I simply do all my shopping at Safeway.

Is it just me? Is there anybody out there who has similar stories about being ruded at the shops in charming and quaint Cleveland Park?

Michael O'Neill



Does anyone know what is going to happen to the space at the corner of Mass. and Wisconsin Avenues where the restaurant Primavera used to be? It was one of our favorite restaurants, and we were quite dismayed to see it suddenly disappear.



There was a story in the Post some months ago about a non-competitive women's basketball league. I can't remember the details. Can anyone tell me who to contact and/or how I could find the story. Thanks.

Tracy Greer


Along M street from 28th to Wisconsin and on Wisconsin from M to R, I counted about 30 empty store fronts. I this some new scheme to ease traffic congestion in Georgetown?

[Maybe Georgetown is aspiring to imitate Van Ness? jeff



As a MD resident I dont usually discuss crime in the District. Although I am familiar with it and it is a major reason why I left DC a few years ago. In any event, my friend and I parked his Audi in front of 2501 Porter street in Cleveland Park on Saturday and returned at 1:00 AM to find the window bashed in and his car phone, license and checkbook stolen. I am glad I live in MD and I dont think I am excited to head back to Cleveland Park - a neighborhood I used to like.

Michael F. Mann


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


ANC 3F ("serving North Cleveland Park") is looking for a new Commission Administrator. We need someone is interested in the community and in pursuing issues that are generally -- though not exclusively -- of local concern. Ability to deal with people (in other words, your neighbors), DC government personnel, and ANC 3F Commissioners essential. Bookkeeping skills would be helpful, as well as minimal computer/word processing skills (typing letters, meeting agendas, resolutions and meeting minutes).

Ideally, the administrator will need to devote roughly 15 hours per week (spread over 3-4 mornings) in a nice office located in the Intelsat Building (at 3400 International Drive, N.W.), and be able to attend one monthly meeting (generally held the third Monday of the month), which usually lasts 2-3 hours.

If interested, please contact Scott Strauss by e-mail or at 202-879-4000


A friend of mine in Chevy Chase, Maryland, is looking for someone to tutor her 14 year old son on IBM computers. The kid is apparently real bright, but fairly new to computers. They have a Dell Pentium, or somesuch, at their house. Looking to find a school computer teacher or someone who has had previous experience working with kids and computers. Lindsay Miller, (301) 654-2041.

Phil Shapiro


FOR RENT: One-bedroom basement apartment near Friendship Heights Metro. Full bath, kitchen, lots of closets, ceramic tile floor, separate entrance, laundry. Two blocks to Red Line, Cheesecake Factory, and shopping. Quiet non-smoker preferred; there are two resident cats. Rent is $585 including utilities. Contact or 202/363-1449.


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