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August 4, 1996

Drink Up

Dear Neighbors:

I want to take a survey and you may not want to participate. But I wonder if others, besides myself, have experienced stomach related problems that "might" be related to the quality of the water supply. Please, PLEASE, don't send me details. I won't post them, and I don't want to read about them either. But a simple reply with water in the subject line would be sufficient to give us an indication if the problem is bigger than reported.

Incidentally, if your drinking bottled water, you may want to find out about how the producer creates the magic elixir. My alma mater, GAO, studied bottled water four years ago and found that there were no purity standards for bottled water and that for most brands, there was no discernible safety difference between the stuff out of your tap and the stuff that comes out of a plastic jug. In fact, most come from the same source. One pint (or point) the report leaves out is that bottled water doesn't come through the pipes leading to your home or apartment. I've been told that these pipe's are the nastiest part of the water system.

I will yield to the experts on the this subject. Gentle people, please start your postings.


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Jeffrey Itell


Police Department

I served on the DC Police Dept in the 3rd District from 1973 to 1988 when I was forced out on a disability retirement after almost being killed in the 2100 block 16th St NW. One of the things that disturbs me today is that the higher ups knew for many, many years that there would be a massive number of retirements beginning around 1989. When Richard Nixon authorized the almost doubling of the Dept about 1969 it didn't take a mental giant to figure out there would probably be a massive exit 20 years later.

The actual crime fighters in the scout cars, like myself, knows it takes years to gain the necessary experience to become an excellent officer. The gradual inclusion of rookies over time who would receive real training on the street, by experienced officers who were proud to wear the MPDC uniform seemed to make more than mere common sense. We tried to make sure that the Dept had excellent trained officers. When I helped teach a rookie to be a good street cop, I did whatever it took to help enable he/she was to be "good to go". We didn't have to worry whether our coworkers had criminal records. We knew where our next tank of gas was coming from. Car trouble? Zip over to the NE Shop off Florida AVe NE. Need backup? It was always there. We were proud to be on the Dept. The Homicide division had one of the highest closure rates in the country.

And it was a Clean Dept. All these criminal acts by criminal cops make me sick. The thought that a recruit could be accepted even with a criminal record is totally ludicrous. "We'll see what type of offense it is," the higher ups say. Residents of DC should demand much higher standards for their Dept. You had it before and you deserve it today!

DR Weinsheimer


Norton Flat Tax

The following appeared in the latest on-line edition of the Progressive Review. To receive the Review on-line send the message "subscribe" to


Another sign of the collapse of American liberalism: DC's congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has joined the right in an astounding effort to turn the capital into a federal tax haven. Under the proposed law, DC residents would pay a federal flat tax of 15% and no capital gains on DC investments. Among the probable effects: a big rise in property values as the wealthy move into town to take advantage of the tax haven. Norton's solution: she suggests putting a freeze on property taxes, which sounds good until you realize that the main beneficiaries would be the same wealthy residents and immigrants being aided by federal tax relief. Property tax freezes simply allow inequities to proliferate.

The tax relief would hasten the conversion of low and middle income rental property into high-priced owner- occupied units. Many of the city's mainly black tenants would lose their homes and apartments. If combined with a phase-out of rent control -- also planned by the city's congressional overseers -- the steady eviction of the city's less wealthy residents would turn into a rout.

Many DC residents would get little or no benefit from the tax relief, because they are too poor to pay US income tax. Others file returns, but are entitled to an Earned Income Tax Credit. Under a federal tax exemption, they would actually lose this money.

Another provision in the bill would exempt from capital gains tax any DC investments. The major form of local investment that produces capital gains is real estate. In other words, what's being proposed here is a triple subsidy to gentrifiers and real estate speculators. First they get federal tax relief, then they get a property tax freeze and finally they don't have to pay capital gains on their local investments. And this from a black liberal Democrat!

The ultimate effect would be a resettlement program for the nation's blackest city -- a subsidized gentrification program that would turn DC into a southern Manhattan. Is this an exaggeration? Well, consider this: the tiny island of Guernsey went to a 20% flat tax some years back and now has 75 major banks and a special immigration quota for multi- millionaires. Something similar can be anticipated in DC, turning it from Chocolate City into yet another sanctuary for the redundantly avaricious.

Sam Smith


Wrong, Jeffrey. The lack of representation is an economic issue/argument, not just a political one. Every other city in the country has senators and representatives at the state and federal levels to argue and vote for their fiscal interests. Not having a vote to barter, what leverage does Norton have in any discussions that occur on the Hill? Other ongressmen/women just brush her off. If she could vote on issues affecting their districts, you can damn well be sure they'd be more attentive to DC issues. And until we get a vote, we'll have to beg for crumbs year after year, hoping that the James Walshes of this world can see beyond the Marion Barrys of this world. Sure, $500-700 million programs might be better than a flat tax, but until the tooth fairy drops them in our laps, where do we turn?

Ralph Blessing


Jeff wrote: "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."

I strongly disagree. By this line of reasoning Puerto Rico and Guam should be paying Federal Income Tax. Either that, or every other state should lose its voting representation.

The American Military would probably back the citizens if this happened in any other country. The President would be up in arms decrying said country as oppressive, dictatorial, etc. The media would also blast such a country as being third world, or some such. We would send our soldiers to that country, to assure a democratic govermnet was maintained.

There is something inherently wrong with "shut up and pay, and you get no say". Taxes are a huge financial burden for everyone in DC as much as they are in the rest of the country.

The DC government may be in shambles, but I don't see any excuse for taxation without representaion. From what I understand, that is one of the reasons that the US was created in the first place.



Incidentally, one *major* benefit of a lowered tax rate would be to entice people who live in the District to become legal residents. As things stand, a high percentage of D.C.'s inhabitants are not registered to vote here and do not pay taxes here because they remain "residents" of whatever state they came here from, even though they may not have a home there. (George Bush and Bill Clinton are two famous examples of this phenomenon, but they are not alone.) Does anyone have information of how many of the people who live here are registered to vote in other places?

stephanie faul

[Certain government employees, including congressional staff and, I assume, executive staff as well, are permitted by law to retain domicile in their home state. Ever notice how many military folks drive around with Texas and Florida license plates--two states without income taxes. But Stephanie's point is still on mark. Many folks move to D.C. and never become residents. Jeff]


DC Taxes:

Larry Seftor's email really hit home. But . . . let's put it another way:

If every district resident had to write a check each month to the DC Government for their share of DC government services, the amount of the check would be for $789.00! A family of three would have to write a check for $2,367. Every single month. Let's see what that covers:

$282/month for "Human Services" (whatever those are) $121/month for DC public schools $35/month for the DC Lottery $20/month for Metro $37/month for police protection (a bargain, I think) $13/month for the fire department (a bargain, I think) $3/month for the public library (a bargain, I think)

Rick Rosenthal



Georgetown recently has had a lot of storefront vacancies for a few reasons:

First, it's not the hot retail market it once was. The proof is in the fact that retail rents are down from as high as $60-70/s.f. in the primest spots to maybe $45-50 (and when I say prime, I mean corner of M & Wisconsin). Tourists are the biggest purchasers in Gtown.

Parking- it sucks! The District even made it worse by disallowing parking on M St. on the weekends (more tickets = more revenue = more bureacratic jobs, etc..) and recently there's been alot of streetscaping (this hopefully will help the situation when construction is complete)

Locals don't go there on a regular basis to do purchases (the exception might be Dean & Deluca's and maybe Barnes & Noble will help) It's just a hassle to find affordable parking and fight with tourists to make a purchase.

Every retailer wants the best space! Go towards the Key Bridge on M St. from Wisconsin, and traffic decreases exponentially block by block.

Charlie Adler


How Rude!

Michael O'Neill ( talks of being "ruded" by some Cleveland Park merchants. Could it be because he speaks an unusual form of English, in which adjectives become verbs. (Do they teach English at G'town?) Can he or someone else explain what "ruded" means?

Seriously, I've lived in the neighborhood for seven years and have found most of the merchants along the strip courteous and helpful. I'm sure there are lapses here and there, but there is no epidemic of rudeness as far as I can see. Perhaps if Mr. O'Neill courtesies them, the merchants won't rude him.

Evan Roth The usual disclaimers about my employer etc.



Criminals win/DC loses: the Loitering Law has been put on hold, according my source at the DC police dept. They're not enforcing it, thanks to the ACLU. While Art Spitzer celebrates with the criminals, the rest of us can despair.

Andrea Carlson


Theft from Automobiles

Re Michael Mann's story on his friend's car getting broken into on Porter Street: A little crime prevention goes a long way. It seems his story should be a lesson in what NOT to do: park your car on a dark street (one lined by woods on one side) and leaving a license, checkbook and a carphone in it for the world to see on a SATURDAY night. For a crime to occur, all it takes is for one person to have a good opportunity to commit it-- and don't fool yourselves, that opportunity can occur anywhere. Instead of locking up in the suburbs and abandoning a locale you like, I'd suggest being a little smarter next time.

Robert William


If Mike left DC because of crime problems, then he should have fully known the risk of leaving a "fully loaded" car on the street for several hours. Please don't tell me that the car was not alarmed. An Audi at that. Every city resident who does not have a garage, and values his/her car realizes that this is a must. I know this because I lay down to bed every night to a serenade of "STAND BACK FROM THE CAR", followed by a symphony of nazi sound-torture.

Don't expect him to find much sympathy among DC residents. His taxes don't go to fund the already overwhelmed, DC police force, and the people who do pay, aren't about to increase patrols to protect suburban partyers. The sales tax on beer just doesn't cover it.

The DC police force is already swamped with suburbanite crime complaints. Party in Maryland, and let the DC police concentrate on the DC residents, who see very little (if any) of their tax dollars at work anyway.

I know, alot of people will say that DC needs the business. But these late night party-hardy suburban people, really don't do much more but take up all of the on-street parking, block driveways, drive drunk on the streets, throw crap all over the place, and act loud and foolish. Then, when something bad happens, they decry the condition of DC, only to return the next weekend to repeat the whole ritual. I may be biased because of where I live (Adams Morgan), but that's my opinion, and i'm sticking to it.

BTW, sorry to hear about your friend's car. When you called the cell phone, who answered?



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Jeffrey Itell


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