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August 16, 1996

Bats, Birds, But Not Orioles

Dear Neighbors:

When everyone arrives back from vacation in September, I'm going to initiate a discussion about this ezine. What's good? What's not? Too long? Too short? Balanced? Unbalanced? Etc. Whatever. In the mean time, I will make my periodic plea for your help in signing up new subscribers. I'm trying to turn this into a commercial enterprise, meaning simply that I'm trying to attract a corporate sponsor who would like their name and products sent with this email missive. Our numbers are good for an ezine, but are not yet high enough to attract ad money. I obviously won't be able to continue this service for free forever, but if each subscriber could bring in just one new subscriber, and each of them brought in one, etc., I'd be in great shape. And we can continue this adventure. Please help. It'll keep me from having to beg for money.

Chief Financial Officer Anthony Williams is spending these days with armed security protection a.k.a. bodyguards. He fired 28 finance officials last week and plans on firing more folks who don't have the skills to do the job. Apparently, he had received death threats, though that hasn't been confirmed. The item was deep in a Post Metro story yesterday but made the front page of the Washington Whitewater Times. City residents ought to be outraged that government workers are subjected to this form of harassment. Though this is the most visible example, thuggery of this sort apparently exists throughout the Barry government. I've collected plenty of similar stories over the past several years, but none from a source willing to go on record. Just because you don't hear about it doesn't mean it ain't happening. Who knew it would take this amount of courage to serve a city in dire straights? Instead of bitching all of the time (the shoe fits and I'm wearing it), we ought to also take time to thank the civil servants and control board members who are trying hard to undue what our elected leaders have done to us. I'm sure they would appreciate hearing your support.

According to the Washington Post today, "Roweshea L. Burruss, an associate of Mayor Marion Barry under investigation by a special fraud task force led by the U.S. Secret Service, has been jailed without bond on charges that he conspired to possess counterfeit checks." So another Barry associate bites the dust. If you judge a person by the company he keeps...

Finally, I am getting tired of restaurants serving me caffeinated coffee with dinner (when I order the unleaded variety). It's 4:30 am and I'm not the least bit tired. There ought to be a law.


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Jeffrey Itell


Republican Platform re: the District

I was reading part of the new Republican platform on the web for a work-related project when I ran across the plank on D.C. I thought it might be interesting to dc.story folks, so here it is. Perhaps someone out there can supply the corresponding plank from the Democratic platform. If you agree with what the Republicans say about D.C., I say keep it on your hard drive so you can hold their feet to the fire if Dole wins:

"The District of Columbia should be an example for the rest of the country. Instead, decades of domination by the Democrat party has left the city bankrupt and dangerous. Its residents - and all Americans - deserve better than that.

"We reaffirm the constitutional status of the District of Columbia as the seat of government of the United States and reject calls for statehood for the District.

"We call for structural reform of the city's government and its education system. For both efficiency and public safety, we will transfer water and sewer management in the District to the Army Corps of Engineers or to a regional entity.

"We endorse proposals by the congressional Republican Leadership for dramatic reductions in federal taxes - and the city's own outrageous marginal tax rate - within the District. Bill Clinton opposes that idea. A Republican president will make it part of a comprehensive agenda to transform the nation's capital into a renewal community, an enterprise zone leading the way for the rest of urban America to follow."

[But Dole said he didn't read the platform. Whatever. Jeff]

David A. Price 71726.651@CompuServe.COM



This last week has been a nightmare for anyone who cares about the DC schools and the kids in them. I've been following school issues closely for about four years and feel I have a pretty good idea of the depth and breadth of the problems. I was in no way surprised by the events and antics surrounding the fire code violations. But I was shocked by Yolanda Woodlee's story in the Sunday Post on the Kedar School scandal. Shocked and depressed. [A convicted felon with no qualifications landed a charter school deal from SuperSmith. "I guessed we should have looked at that one more closely," said Smith (approximately). The school never got up and running but the contractor's Mercedes is running just fine. jeff]

That story should make every caring adult in this city DEMAND that all our public officials, elected and appointed, commit themselves to uncovering the problems in our public schools and finding solutions. It will require a sustained effort and it will cost money and it will take time. But if we don't do it now, when we've got before us more than enough incriminating evidence that this school system is for and about ADULTS and not children, then I fear for the future of this city.

Barbara Somson


I would ask the following questions of Valencia Mohammed, but I do so anonymously, or under the name Joe Klein, take your pick.

"You are now running for DC Council, name three successes for which you are personally and primarily responsible while on the School Board. Please do not include your success at getting your daughter's grades changed, so she could attend school in Detroit."

"Please describe in detail what a "School Curriculum" is. Do not describe a lesson plan?

If you are unable to do so, how can we expect you to learn the important functions of the city government?

The background for these questions comes from widely reported news stories. First, Mohammed's daughter was getting into terrible trouble here in DC and had failed most, if not all, her classes. VM decided to send the girl to her aunt's (VM's sister) in Detroit and go to school there. However, her grades were so bad she would not be able to get into school. VM then went to the principal of the DC school to get her daughter's grade raised to a C so she could transfer. The principal refused. VM threatened her with dismissal if she didn't do it. The principal relented and changed the grades but to all A's. When the kid got to school in Detroit there, that principal raised cane, because it became painfully obvious the kid was not an A student....and blew the whistle. The principal confessed but said she was forced to do it. VM was furious and said the principal should be fired for not obeying her and inflating the grades too high so that her daughter would be found out. VM never did figure out what she did was wrong, illegal, unethical, and immoral.

VM back AfricanCentric Curriculum and has tried to get contracts for her proposed curriculum. The best she ever came up with, as I understand it, was a lesson plan or two. This is not the same story as Abena Walker, who also does not understand the difference between a lessen plan and a curriculum.

[Remember. Please send in your questions for elected officials. The elections will happen swiftly after Labor Day and I would like to compile a dc.story list for candidates to avoid, moderators to dodge, and reporters to ignore. jeff]



What About Them Bats

The bats live in the chimney (yes!) of the Cleveland Park Library, and have ever since I was a child some 40 years ago. At that time I could hear their squeaks and chitterings; alas, I can't now. The Wild Bird Center sells bat houses, for those who want to encourage populations near their homes, and the National Bat Center in Rockville can give you more information -- 301/984-2227.

stephanie faul


I live near Connecticut and Porter, and almost every night we see a bat or two at sunset. They do some aerobatics for us (sorry) and eat a bunch of bugs, then quickly peel off and head off, usually veering west . We can't figure out if they're camping out in someone's attic nearby, or living in Rock Creek Park. Given that the park service doesn't have the budget for as much dead tree clearing as it used to (or has decided to leave some dead trees up for housing for various forest dwellers), the bats could also be living in dead trees in the park. Or under bridges, like the one on Connecticut just north of the zoo.

Anyway, Cleveland Park geography is relatively full of bat housing, and Rock Creek plus one or two other creeks (and countless gardens) guarantee that there are bugs around for food. (For those who aren't really comfortable with this situation, it's o.k., really - we've been viewing the bats over the back yard for years and they never have gotten near us - we're just a couple more obstacles to be avoided).

Pat Hahn


For Janet Hess, the Bat Lady of Cleveland Park, I'm afraid I have disappointing news. Those bats are birds--Chimney Swifts, to be precise--and they have fooled many a person with their batlike, alternate-wing fluttering. As you might imagine from their name, they like to roost in chimneys. A friend tells me that one evening some years back he was watching a bunch of swifts dart around the Cleveland Park library when suddenly they formed a perfect funnel cloud, drilled down into the chimney, and disappeared. I was hoping to see this phenomenon repeated a few weeks ago, but although there was plenty of activity around the library, it didn't appear that any of the birds entered the chimney. Perhaps the library has swift-proofed it.

Lorie Leavy

[Would one of our readers from the National Zoo fill us in on the correct story? jeff]


So What Else is New

Yes, pessimism is what a lot of people are feeling. But, hey, what do ya do? Where's the leadership? Charlene Drew Jarvis became President of Southeastern University July 8th so how much time can she devote to Ward 4 issues now? Last year or so she was absent or did not vote over 90 times. Now that she'll be earning new income from another source, Jarvis won't be able to work important issues, control board, schools, water, roads, etc. for the Ward. A part-time councilmember.

[Question: She is up for reelection this year and will probably squeak by again. Why do you think that is? Anyone? You may take this question home and use your textbooks. jeff]

Paul McKenzie


A Disturbing Trend

This relatively (until recently) low crime rate area (AU Park/Spring Valley) has witnessed a major robbery at the local Super Fresh. This one by a sawed off shotgun toting bandit and at least one accomplice. Although this is the first story I have read in the Post about robberies in this small area, it, apparently, is only one of a series of local merchant robberies in the recent past. Since I've been at home recovering for the whole Summer I've had the opportunity to hear the police car sirens fairly frequently over the past few weeks. There was one robbery at the hairdressers on Yuma and another police activity at either the Starbucks coffee or at Crate and Barrel. In short there is a mini crime wave in this area. It may be timely for the local merchants to pool their money to get some security protection both uniformed and plain clothed. With seven banks within a three wood shot (poor choice of words) of my front door it may only be a short time before one of these is hit. Like Willie Sutton said "that's where the money is".

[If you remember, last year the City Council cut the pay of all police officers. And we know under what appalling conditions they are working under. And we all know that Police Commish, Larry Soulsby is, at best, ineffective and that's why Barry picked him. So the surge in crime, while crime is way, way down across the country (if you want statistics, I have a data base that shows the major crimes for every metropolitan area in the country over the past ten years--but you'll have to pay me to run the numbers) indicates that something is rotten in out fair city. A veteran New York Times reporter confided the obvious to me. When you cut cops' pay, they are going to make it up somehow. Another D.C. institution going down the drain. jeff]

Ed T. Barron



UDC Law School appears to have a new lease on life. First year students have been spotted lurking about Sirius Coffee at pre-9 a.m. hours, cramming with their outline books, wearing ties, suits, in the middle of August. Nice for the Van Ness area that both law schools (incl. Howard) will be in business.

David F. Power


Over My Cold Dead Body

That's the response a reporter got from a spokesperson for one of our neighboring state's delegations when asked if that delegation would meet with D.C.'s notorious mayor. This just reemphasizes the point that no one is interested in helping or saving the District as long as Barry is the mayor. We will not see any help from Congress either until the Barry's are history.

I see now why there has been little campaigning for Carol Schwartz for a City Council seat. Today's Post says that of the two "At large" seats on the council is automatically reserved for a non-Democrat candidate. Since no other "non-Democrat" is likely to get more than a handfull of votes, Carol appears to be a shoo-in for that seat. If only half those in Ward three that voted for her in the last mayoral election come out in the City Council election Carol should win in a walk.

Ed T. Barron


Auto Mechanic

Regarding Michael Buckley's query re auto mechanic: When you find him (or her) please let us all know.

Randi Rubovits-Seitz


I have a GM product of some vintage. It has always received excellent attention from the Spring Valley Exxon, 4861 Mass. Ave., N.W. (across street from Sutton Place). Also, for dealer prices but reliable mechanics and certified parts, I go to Chevy Chase Buick at 5220 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (right at Friendship Heights Metro). But remember, mechanics don't work weekends.

David F. Power


I've used Tenley Exxon (or what I call Tenley Exxon) just above Roy Rogers on Wisconsin and have always gotten excellent service. Phone: 364-6372. Bill Bauman is the manager. Tell him Sam Smith sent ya.

Sam Smith


Seeking 1-2 bedroom apartment with balcony in Adams Morgan, Dupont, or Mount Pleasant in $700-$900 price range (that price range includes utilities). Need to move first week of October.

Erika Williams


I'm in need of occasional assistance in editing short freelance writings I produce. Am happy to barter computer consulting time (Mac, telecom, AOL, web, home page setup, multimedia production, etc) with any editors needing assistance with such. I can make house-calls in the upper NW DC and offer phone/email support.

Phil Shapiro


Home PC Computer Assistance. I'll help you choose 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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