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August 28, 1996

Town Meeting on Public Safety

Dear Neighbors:

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is sponsoring a Town Meeting on Public Safety, Monday, September 16, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 1100 Longworth House Office Building. Speaking will be U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder, Jr.; Police Chief Larry Soulsby; Park Police Chief Robert Langston; and the FBI representative William Megary. The Topic? How we're going to spend the $15 million Congress granted the city. You can call Norton's office for details at 202.225.8050.

I won't be able to attend, but I'd be really pleased if one of our subscribers attended and reported back to us. Any volunteers?

BTW: Checking around, I found out the Soulsby is well connected in Congress. His uncle is Senator Robert "Pave My State" Byrd and he's buddies with Congressman Heilmann, a former law enforcement chief assigned by Newt Gingrich to oversee the department. A shrewd pick by Marion Barry and a guarantee of long tenure, despite scandals and mismanagement.


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



I saw the Cleveland Park Bats! Lots of em over the Roma Grape Garden last night 'round 8PM. Far out! Even Bobby Abbo was mesmerized.

Jeff Krulik


Council Elections

Phil Mendelson wrote: "I will focus solely on the whole range of city taxes with an eye toward restructuring them to be more fair, competitive with the suburbs, and possibly lower."

Possibly lower?? Again Phil Mendelson proves he is more than qualified to join the other flunkies on the City Council. What does he mean by restructuring DC's taxes so that they are more competitive with the suburbs if not lowering them? Does he think we are competing with the 'burbs to see who can raise their taxes the highest. As a member of Jim Nathanson's staff, Mr. Mendelson has already helped DC win that competition handily. I guess in a city as dysfunctional as DC, a politician can get away with admitting to have been part of the problem for nearly a decade and still expect to be elected.

Give me Old Weird Harold any day over a policy wonk.

Phillip Murphy


School System

Smith may consider himself a scapegoat or fall guy of the Control Board for the problems with the D.C. schools but he has been only a reactor as a Superintendent. He has been continually surprised to learn of problems because he had no idea what was really happening in the schools. We need a proactive superintendent, not one who listens to the biased stories of school employees and School Board members.

But Smith is only one flawed piece in the puzzle. To merely replace him would be like putting a band aid on a spurting artery. The whole flawed system needs to be dismantled then rebuilt from scratch. Yes, the School Board should be dissolved by Congress and then a Support Team established by the Receiver appointed by the Control Board. This Support Team should include school system employees and volunteers from the different wards of the city.

We have no alternative. The answer to many of this city's biggest problems lie in providing the young people with a decent education that will enable them and their children to make a better lives for themselves. The sooner the Control Board acts, the sooner Congress can act to get the School Board dissolved and we can begin the overhaul of a badly flawed school system.

This morning's Post article describes former NY City School Chancellor Cortines as a prime candidate. This is an outstanding candidate. Cortines has a track record as a proven administrator. His tenure was cut short in NY City because he would not accept the micromanaging of Mayor Guiliani. The former Police Commissioner also resigned for the same reason. If Cortines will take the job Washington will be well served.

Ed T. Barron


Doom and Gloom

Many who post here are brave enough to point out the facts, and to note the existence of trends, but most don't seem willing to directly voice the answers that spring readily to mind when one answers the question "what will we face if this goes on?" - but since I don't have a job to worry about losing for being honest as I see it, and it's not as if I am going to lose any respect for answering such a question, I have to do my mad-prophet routine and prepare to suffer the usual fate of the Cassandra, chained to a rock waiting for the tide to rise.

As usual, such visions are rather dark.

Mr. Itell sensibly notes that in the face of longer hours and less pay, District public-servants (where not ethical) can reasonably be expected to be more likely to succumb to bribery, particularly when confronted with look-away monthly payments equal to their yearly salary, coming from multiple sources. Where ethical, there's the possibility that the good officers will simply quit in outrage and disgust.

Combine this with President Clinton's amazingly charitable (or is it cowardly?) extension and expansion of Washington DC's role as a Welfare Reservation, one can only assume that those residents who now have no legitimate gainful employment will (in the face of capital-flight and flight of private-sector employers) increasingly turn to various brands of crime, with drug-dealing probably pre-eminent. Assuming that suburbanites will continue to be willing to prop up the underground economy of the District, further entrenching the payoffs and corruption that alone can be responsible for the present sordid state of affairs, will we continue to see an expansion of the criminal under class gnawing at the soft-white-underbelly of the blithely-ignorant pollyannic Federal Enclave? Will the expansion of a predatory or parasitic voting majority continue to inexorably vote into power whoever will best serve their needs for an underlying base of duplicity, cronyism, payoffs and incompetence?

Will Washington effectively become the Nairobi of North America, second only to Lagos in the entrenchment of corruption, apathy, poverty and filth? In the absence of a functional morgue and sewage treatment facility, will the ecological-correctness factions be appeased by knowing that the rats are being fed upon the dead who will be killed by dope-dealers and never found due to an ineffective and disempowered homicide squad, with the food-stamps traded for a dealing-stake being supplanted by a diet of man-fed rats? Will the middle-class, black and white, finally flee to someplace they can vote for the final dissolution of the District, while die-hards illegally arm themselves to the teeth and wall themselves within their deep-Northwest compounds, telecommuting to their government jobs via satellite link because the Utility Commission can't get enough police support to keep the land-lines repaired?

Will whoever receives this last legacy of the failure of the Great Society (at last concentrated and distilled into a clear vintage to be displayed to the rest of the nation that looks to it as the shining example of for which the flag stands, with fear and loathing for all) finally have the sense to call a sow's-ear something besides a purse? And actually do something about it? Like maybe what?

Or are things going to go just the way they've been going? And where will that trail lead?

Sleep well and soundly - for now.



Speed Trap Redux

The speed trap Ed T. Barron referred to is an historic one that has been set-up as long as I can remember. My wife and I for a while lived on North Old Glebe rd near there and would see the Arlington cops frequently giving out tickets to all stripes of drivers, D.C. residents or not. We also noted that the highway barricade located at the curve just below where the police cruiser would sit was crashed into and usually ruined on what seemed to be a weekly basis. It was so frequent that it ceased to be a novelty unless the offending vehicle was still in place nose down in the culvert with some poor soul climbing out of it. It seems that those who brake to that "very slow" speed of 25 mph save more than just "bucks".

This makes me think of other "historic speed traps" that have been in place at least since I started driving in the District in the late 60's, such as on Foxhall Road, the south end of the Taft Bridge over Rock Creek, or down the hill on Arizona Ave between Nebraska and MacArthur Ave's. It is my belief that most or all of these locations probably originated as a response to accidents there or citizen complaints to the police about excessive speeding rather than some sort of revenue cow for the municipalities involved.

Speeding and its cousins, failure to stop at red lights or stop signs, aggressive lane changing and pedestrian endangering, have almost become pandemic in this area, and speed traps have their part in slowing traffic down to safer velocities, at least within a limited area of influence. In the past, the presence of dedicated traffic cops on Harley Davidsons (hard to spot), in concert with a more effective police force as a whole and a lower level of traffic overall had the effect of a rather high rate of compliance with traffic laws by the population as a whole, at least in my memory. I remember in 1972 getting a warning ticket in Chevy Chase for doing what the Montgomery County Policeman called a "California stop". I swear that I fell short of a legal "full stop" by only slightest of margins imaginable (the police car was in full view), but was stopped all the same. A lesson learned and since then I got into the habit of coming to a full stop at stop signs. Nowadays, it feels like that will as soon as not get you rear-ended by some maniac in some god awful hurry to who knows where. That same maniac more often than not has his or her whole family in the 4 x 4, (or other late model car such as a Volvo etc.) and you can only imagine what kind of driving lesson is being taught in that family.

In the near future we will most likely see automated traffic violation detection devices installed (or hovering) over area intersections or the locations mentioned above, promising a ticket mailed to home. These devices, switched from one intersection to another so that you never know if that gray box is looking at you, will be an attractive option for municipalities and could make many future pedestrians very happy. Big Brother watching your driving, but perhaps not the same thing as that cop on the Harley.

James Whitelaw


City Services

Embarrassment is the only way to get city services!!!! In a previous story we told you about an abandoned car that was painted with a message that said " BARRY'S - DC". The car was towed three working days later. We also did the same thing with a pot hole that had been around for three months. It was filled within three working days. Get those paint cans out and glorify his his honor the Mayor and home rule. Be creative, caustic and entertaining. Just don't sit there and whine. Other third world banana republics express political positions the same way. At least you will get the pot holes filled in your neighborhood and perhaps get the message across that this system is broken.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' Zoo Lectures

Welcome back to the fall and the new lecture season. We already have two lectures on the schedule for September. Here are the details:

16 September 8:00 p.m. Education Building Auditorium National Zoo Enter at Connecticut Ave. and park in Lot A Free, but please RSVP by sending an e-mail message to

Dr. Arturo Gomez-Pompa presents the keynote address at the First Sustainable Coffee Congress. His lecture is entitled "Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation: Friends or Foes?" Gomez-Pompa has studied issues of small scale agricultural production in Mexico, including traditional methods of growing coffee that provide sustainable income for communities and habitat for wildlife. He will describe the environmental and social dimensions of the coffee sector and provide a better understanding of how conservation, coffee, and the marketplace can work together.


24 September 7:30 p.m. Education Building Auditorium National Zoo Enter at Connecticut Ave. and park in Lot A Free, but please RSVP by sending an e-mail message to

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the National Zoo presents an evening with Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, renowned plant chemist at Cornell University. He will share his discoveries of medicinal plant use by wild gorillas and capuchin monkeys. Hear the story first-hand from one of the foremost scientists investigating the use of medicinal plants by wild animals.

Office of Public Affairs, National Zoo Washington, D.C. 20008 (202) 673-4866, FAX (202) 673-4607

Margie Gibson NZPEM053@SIVM.SI.EDU


Computer Service

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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