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August 19, 1996

Black Helicopters

Dear Neighbors:

I devoted part of my brain this weekend to figuring out the politics of the District's schools. Having come up short on answers, this is not a part of my brain that I wish to leave for science. I remained puzzled how the so-called "reform" members of the School Board--Jay Silberman and Karen Shook--can support Dr. Smith's actions.

But then I applied the "devil you know" logic to the situation and the picture started to become clearer. The Superintendent's job pays $90,000 plus incentives (an extra $500 bucks for each school opened on time?). For a top level job, especially in Washington, that's not much money. And look at the situation a new superintendent would inherit. A failing system under attack from all quarters; a failing infrastructure; and,

lest we forget, failing students. It was hard enough finding a super to take the job five years ago. You can bet that folks are not lining up at the door to take the job. (And in all fairness to Smith, lots of quality folks are probably not lined up outside of his door seeking employment.)

Another school board faction wants Smith's head on a platter for closing underutilized schools and supporting reforms such as privatization and charter schools. If this group, let by Valencia Mohammed, got their way, you'd see a lot more of Kedar examples (School board member Terry Hairston's pet project) and who knows what else.

Thus, although Smith may be fumbling badly, the alternatives could be far worse (including, depending on your perspective, abolishment of local control). Thus, Silberman has reasons to prop up Smith without believing Smith has acted wisely. Now, if Jay really believes that Smith is doing a super job, we'd have to bring in a metaphysician to examine him.


Now, for all of you anxious for a modern, efficient government, the future is now in Massachusetts. And the future may not be all it's cracked up to be. Folks in Massachusetts can now pay their PARKING TICKETS ONLINE. Check out their web site at <>

Why do I get the feeling that the first evidence of the mayor's transformation will come in the form of an improvements to our parking ticket system?


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



After assuring everyone that all schools would be repaired, cleared of code violations, and opened on time, School Superintendent Smith now unveils a cockamamie plan to whiz hundred of students around the city on buses to places they ought not be. This loser could screw up a one car funeral. It's time for the Control Board to act and bus this banana across the border before the school system self-destructs.

Ed T. Barron


No Leadership and No Accountability

The problems with most of the agencies in the District is that they are all hunkering down under the threat of major cutbacks. Lie low, don't stick your head up, don't stand out in a crowd, and watch out for number one (forget the other guy). This whole attitude will turn the City to glue before too long.

There has been no effort to restructure the city's agencies into autonomous teams with a specific mission and supporting goals. Treating all activities as processes and letting those who are stakeholders in the process determine how best to revamp those processes is the way to go. This takes leadership and team building. I discussed both of these subjects with John Ray and Kathy Patterson (and even got a response from Clark on those subjects). Until someone takes the helm and holds agency heads accountable and lets them revamp their processes things will slowly grind to a halt.

The plan developed for the Mayor by an outside organization in Georgetown is not a bad approach. Any plan is better than no plan (except when developed by Franklin Smith). When is this big Rejuvenation going to begin? Probably we won't hear about it until just before the next election. That'll be the main theme for Mayor-for-life Barry's campaign.

Ed T. Barron


Black Helicopters?

Last night (8/15) at about 11:30 p.m. a helicopter was flying around Woodley Park, seemingly very quickly, it sounded like an out of control fighting machine. It lasted about 20 minutes. Although I could not see it from my apartment, it was clearly in search of something (although going too fast to catch much of anything). Anyone know what was going on?

Sherri Powar


A helicopter buzzed the Woodley/Cleveland Park area for 10 minutes last night (Thursday night) around midnight. Anyone know why?

John Keefe



Due an unfortunate encounter with a parking garage pillar, I am in need of a body shop to do some minor repair (mostly paint smudges, scrapes, rust protecting) on my fenders. Can anyone help with a recommendation?

Lisa Baker


Car Repair

I'll second the recommendation of the Tenley Exxon. You'll not meet a more straight talking fellow than Bill. He's done well by my 88 honda. He got two well deserved stars in Consumer Checkbook's autorepair survey (for price and quality). I'll add a recommendation also for Petrovitch at 14th and Florida, who served me well for many years before I located the even more convenient Exxon.

Judie Guy


To all looking for the car doctor of car doctors, look no further than Tenley Exxon (technically Call Carl) on Wisconsin and Warren. I've been taking my mean machines to Bill Bowman (sorry, Sam, but that's his correct name) and his boys since their original Spring Valley location (now the nefarious Chicken Out). This group defies every gas station stereotype: they're straight, they're honest, they do great stuff at great prices, and they 'fess up when they screw up. Go there; you'll be glad you did.

Willie Schatz


Distad's Amoco in SE is worth the hike. I have been taking my 86 Chevrolet there for 4 1/2 years. I have a friend who has taken her 12 year old Honda there for the past 9 years. Their prices are reasonable and they'll never sell you anything you don't need. They are located at 9th and Penn, SE, near the Eastern Market Metro. I live in Glover Park and I swear they are worth the trip.

Stacey Patmore


Like new (used less than 10 times) Mistral Escape windsurfer board, 5.8 hurricane sails (6 orge), sail mast, & boom. Package: $700. Contact Clara Miller at <>. Or call 473-0656 (work) or (703) 760-9484 (home; evenings/weekends).

Michael O'Neill


Wonderful live-out babysitter/housekeeper available after 10 am Monday through Thursday and all day Friday and Saturday. She is loving, reliable, legal and has transportation. Great references.

Cassandra Goodell


Bob the Saab needs a new home. 1990 with 41,000 miles. One owner. Ding and rust-free. A loyal friend and priced to sell. (202) 588-9553.

Leslie Pilcer


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


For fast, reliable Internet services and cutting edge Websites contact Michael Mann at Internet Interstate Web: <>


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