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September 2, 1996

Primary Day

Dear Neighbors:

Primary Day--which is the equivalent of Election Day in this one-horse town--is September 10. Once you settle in from the shock of being back to work, please forward your notes about the candidates. Do you like Harold? Can Phil pull an upset? Does the fact that one juror held out against upholding a bribery conviction against Joe Yeldell make a difference?

Moreover, should this list debate the candidates and vote a slate. Given the expected very light turnout, we could get some attention. On the other hand, maybe we want to toil in cyber-obscurity. It's your call. The mailbox is open.


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


City Council Election

Two months ago Phillip Murphy was on my case because I wasn't specific enough. Now he faults me for being a policy "wonk."

I think it's time we elected someone new to the Council who is thoughtful and hardworking. Murphy, though, would prefer "Old Weird Harold" (his words) to me, even though last week's City Paper reveals that Brazil has one of the worst attendance records of any councilmember.

Murphy also faults me for failing to say emphatically that I will lower taxes. If life were only so simple. The city has a budget out of balance and hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance. In this fiscal climate it isn't a simple matter to lower taxes. But here is what I will work toward on the Council:

1) Re-bracket the individual income tax so that middle income filers pay less than the top rate (currently a person earning $20,000 pays the highest (9.5%) rate -- hardly progressive).

2) Lower the 9.5% income tax rates for both businesses and residents, which are the highest in the area.

3) Adopt technical reforms to benefit businesses: expand the applicability of net operating losses (which makes a big difference for business start-ups) and end the double taxation of dividends received from non-D.C. subsidiaries.

4) Roll back the insurance premium tax from an effective rate of 2.55% to 2%. The current rate is one of the highest in the country and has caused insurers to leave the District.

Murphy prefers Brazil on taxes even though Brazil has never acknowledged, let alone endorsed, most of these reforms (Brazil has proposed lowering the income tax rate for corporations only).

There should be other reforms, too. It is unclear, though, how the government can afford any of this. Through tax restructuring and selective reforms the cost to the government can be minimized. This is why I stand four-square behind the new Tax Revision Commission.

Phil Mendelson Candidate for City Council


City Council Election

The Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance candidate ratings and questionnaires are online at For me the most telling question was #9, about the system of distributing federal AIDS money through a special channel rather than through DHS (part of the DC government). Candidates who "get it" realize that this is just one more way in which the DC government is broken, and say DHS needs to be fixed so it can do its job (e.g. Mendelson (at-large), Capozzi (at-large), McLeod (ward 2)). Candidates who don't, fail to see this as a symptom (e.g. Brazil (at-large)), or even talk about making the DHS-bypass band-aid permanent (e.g. Evans (ward 2)).

Jim Kingdon



Ed Barron made some very good points about the Board of Education, NYC leadership of Ramon Cortines, his positive objectives for the NYC Public Schools, and how DC local school problems are escalating. DC needs a Cortines prescription! Having recently relocated from NYC, and always networking with former school-based colleagues, I knew how much was lost when Cortines left, under protest from parents & staff. Hizzoner, the NYC Mayor, has really NOT been a team-player.

I do agree with those who demand good management in all public systems. Fiscal responsibility is crucial to any values system. Public Schools everywhere must be role models for youngsters. I suggest that DC powers-that-be assemble an exemplary (surrogate?) management team, and actively recruit an acknowledged and respected educator like Cortines. Things could only get better!

[The Wash Times reported that Cortines has taken himself out of consideration to replace Smith. He still may consult. jeff]

Barbara Gollon



I remember hearing a cliche once that said "to kill the snake, cut off it's head" or something to that effect. Recently I heard about Franklin Smith whining about being a scapegoat. Well, Mr. Smith, if you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem. In my opinion, it's sad that money and friends can keep corruption in power. Ah, well, such is life I guess.

Jeff Lins



I was curious, are there any D.C. Story subscribers who have heard about or seen police actions against sidewalk vendors? I have heard that merchants associations in various ANC's have asked for police help against vendors, and I am trying to understand why.

Are there any subscribers out there who have views about the large numbers of sidewalk vendors and their impact on city life? Any reporters researching police activity involving vendors? I'd appreciate any comments. Full disclosure-- I am a DC lawyer and one of my clients is a vendor.

David F. Power



I received a communication from the D.C. Government that appears to offer me some sort of amnesty if I will admit to having falsified my homestead exemption; the implied threat is "Come clean before we do an audit and reveal your lies."

It almost makes me want to confess everything, except that there's nothing to confess. I live in the only property I own, and always have. Is the government sending one of these to *every* property owner, or what? And why?

stephanie faul


Police Farce

"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."

Congressman (Fred) Heinemann (R-NC), actually. Re the rest, I agree with you. The chief has been a major disappointment of sorts. I winced while watching his recent willfully ignorant and evasive performance on 60 Minutes. But take heart: his tenure will end when Mayor For Two More Years finally departs.

Can we get a dc.story debate going re the OJ Appearance in D.C.? And who is this Malik Zulu Shabazz character who keeps turning up like a bad penny?

[As faithful readers no doubt have noticed, I have a horrible facility for remembering names. Heinemann, Heilmann, how should I know? Now you know why I prepare this letter instead of having a real job. Also, readers of the Northwest Side Story when I wrote it now know how talented my editor was. jeff]

Thomas Redding


Digital Satellite Systems

Has anyone out there dropped DC Cablevision in favor of a DSS system (i.e., the ne with the 18-inch satellite dish that's placed on your roof or elsewhere on your property)? I went out to Circuit City in Bethesda today and got the rundown. After some fairly hefty up front costs (e.g., for receivers and antenna installation) the price of a fairly extensive line up of stations (but not including any local stations) seems pretty competitive with DC Cable. Yet, the quality is far better. In addition, the package they're pushing includes about 30 channels of stereo music. .... Any comments on this service would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Greg Jones


Upcoming Events at Tenley Library

September 24: Investment Seminar at 7 p.m.

October 19, 10 am-4 p.m. Used Book Sale and Open House

Urban Odyssey Lecture series. Book signing and sale of Urban Odyssey follows each lecture:

November 12 at 7 p.m. Steven J. Diner will give a lecture on "Washington's Jewish Community. Separate But Not Apart" Mr. Diner is a professor at George Mason University.

November 19 at 7 p.m. Olivia Cadaval will give a lecture on "The Latino Community: Creating an Identity in the Nation's Capital." Ms. Cadaval is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies.

December 3 at 7 p.m. James Oliver Horton will give a slide lecture on "Washington's African-American Community Before the Civil War: Uncovering the Social History." Mr. Horton is a professor of American civilization and culture at George Washington University and director of the Afro-American Communities Project at the National Museum of American History.

January 28 at 7 p.m. Washington Post sports writer Christine Brennan will lecture on the "World of Figure Skating." This will be the public's first opportunity to purchase the paperback edition of her book Inside Edge, which has a new afterword.

All events are free to the public. The Tenley-Friendship Branch is located at Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle St., N.W. Take the Red Line Metro to the Tenleytown Station.


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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