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September 6, 1996

Good as Gold

Dear Neighbors:

Have you ever read Joseph Heller's "Good as Gold?" If you want to understand Harold Brazil, I recommend you check out Heller's take on the bureaucracy. One memorable character, whose name I can't remember, always placed a caveat at the end of his sentences. "The Secretary of State absolutely wants to meet with you Friday at noon, unless of course he doesn't." By covering all bases, the character fails to get out of the batters' box. Naturally, in the peculiar world of the bureaucracy, this creature climbs the Schedule C ladder to success.

Whither Brazil? Deciding between two alternatives, Brazil will provide three answers. Press him on his inconsistency (as Mark Plotkin does so well), and Brazil sweats so profusely that your radio begins to short circuit. The latest example? The Washington Times reported that Chief Financial Officer Tony Williams hired William Highsmith to dispose of the city's $2 billion in surplus real estate--much of which the city has been sitting on since home rule. When asked (and you can be sure he didn't want to be asked), Brazil questioned whether Williams has exceed his authority. "Maybe it's time [Williams] got reined in, [though Willams was] efficient and doing a good job."

What was whirling through Harold's mind? Let's see. Gotta support home rule, but gotta support efficient government too. We need to sell that land and Barry's just sat on it. But if I side with the financial authority and CFO, I'll lose the anti-control board constituency. How to straddle? Geez. This is a campaign. Can't they lay off the tough questions until after the election when I can hide at my law practice?

Brazil, by the way, is a guy who passes for bold new leadership in this city. Why? No one has accused him of corruption. He's passed the smell test, which few officials can.

What about the other major candidates in Tuesday's primary. Joe Yeldell's bribery conviction was overturned by a hold-out juror in a retrial. He's served longer in District government than Hilda Mason, who trekked with Moses. Yeldell isn't the solution to the problem, he is the problem.

On the other hand, John Capozzi has a clean record and is running as the reformer. The problem is he is running with the Mayor's "nod-and-wink" support. You can't be allied with Barry and be a reformer...unless you think like Harold. Moreover, when Capozzi talks about fixing the city's finances, he means doing it all from the revenue side. Capozzi has tilted at many windmills--e.g., dunning Fannie Mae and achieving statehood by petitioning the OAS for human rights violations against District residents--so it's hard to convince me that he'd be an effective council member.

What about Phil Mendelson? Phil's problem is that he's not a natural politician. If a room lights up when Barry appears, the beer runs out when Phil shows up. But Phil knows this city, and especially the council, better than anyone running. I'm not convinced he sees the big picture, but he's someone who can bring some facts, analysis, and sanity to council debates. And his lack of political charisma is virtually endearing. If we want serious, sober (in all senses of the word) citizens to run for office, Phil deserves support. We've had enough flash. It's time to make the city safe for real people.

So here's the deal. If you want to vote for the best candidate running, vote Mendelson. If you want to block Joe Yeldell, hold your nose and vote for Brazil. As Councilmember Kathy Patterson states below, voting in Brazil opens up the Ward 6 council seat, creating an opportunity for the well respected Sharon Ambrose. And if you're a Republican, I suspect I know who you are voting for.

I believe serious folks like Phil deserve our consideration and encouragement. So he's got my vote.

And I'm still voting for Ed Barron for shadow representative. Given the mail I received, we just might be having a party in Ed's driveway.


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Jeffrey Itell



I'm releasing the following statement to reporters today endorsing Harold Brazil in the at-large race:

"Mr. Brazil shares my views on key issues before the D.C. Council including right-sizing the District workforce and budget, and comprehensive reform of the merit personnel system. His is an effective voice for tax relief and for responsible government procurement policies. For these reasons, I am endorsing him in the at-large race. "There are other candidates in the at-large race I respect greatly for their commitment to the community, including Ward 3 ANC Commissioner Phil Mendelson. I had intended to remain silent in this race. To the extent it has developed into a 2-person race, I believe it is my responsibility to voice my preference for Mr. Brazil."

I've heard from many constituents seeking my opinion on the race and it seems a fair enough question to ask. Also fueling my interest in seeing Harold take the at-large race is the prospect of Sharon Ambrose, who works for John Ray and formerly worked for Betty Ann Kane, running for the Ward 6 seat. Sharon would bring ethics, intellect, and knowledge to the Council -- all sorely needed.

Kathy Patterson



I have known John Capozzi since 1988 although I have not spoken to him since this last spring. I have found him to be a tireless supporter of D.C. He really believes in the potential this city has. I have seen him work on projects like the Barney Circle Freeway/New Redskin Stadium. John really worked hard not to just kill the project, but to work out differences between the city and the residents by proposing new solutions that would work for both sides. John also helps kids from his neighborhood after school with tutoring and actually gives them things to do that helps build responsibility and more importantly their self esteem.

I hope everyone will vote for John if they would like some new energy on the city council. John will bring new ideas and actually do the part of the job few of the current council members want to do WORK HARD!

David Hunter



If Capozzi wishes to make such a point about how he has integrity because he is the only candidate who limits his campaign contributions to $100 per person, then he should explain why he holds fund-raisers for an unauthorized "constituent services fund" for which he requests $400 contributions. He held one this spring at Kurt Vorndran's in Woodley Park.

Capozzi may think he's a winner, but Loose Lips noted that "Capozzi should take an issues seminar from ... Mendelson." John still believes in the old statehood baloney, so I don't see him as new and refreshing. Mendelson is.

Ian Gordon



Yes, Loose Lips is right in the City Paper. Diane Miller is the best candidate for Ward 4 City Council. She's the best for several reasons: I know her well and she is very smart - a quick study on any issue - She has the experience to do the job - Diane was an aid to Jarvis and served in the Sharon Pratt Kelly administration as the Ward 4 representative for the Mayor's office. To quote Loose Lips, Diane Miller "brings integrity, commitment, and courage to the twin challenges of Ward 4 politics: healing a divided community and finally bringing economic development to Georgia Avenue." As everyone knows, the incumbent for this office has lots of problems, which I won't go into here. If anyone would like to, this is a great opportunity to really help the City, by volunteering for Diane's Campaign - working the polling stations on election day this Tuesday, etc., etc. Call Diane Miller @ 882-2290 or 291-2064, Fax is 291-1975. Ask if you can help the campaign on Tuesday.

Paul Mc Kenzie



Tom Redding correctly identifies Malik Zulu Shabazz as a bad penny. I had the misfortune of encountering Shabazz at Newt Gingrich's town meeting at Eastern High School a couple of years ago. He and some thugs were hectoring those waiting to enter the hall saying that Newt had no right to speak and should not be allowed to speak and no one should be allowed to hear what he had to say.

An elderly woman objected saying that no one is injured by free speech at which point someone with Shabazz promply proved her wrong by throwing her to the ground injuring her quite effectively. A group of us helped the bleeding woman and confronted Shabazz and his goons. I called his behavior fascist. Shabazz replied with some pride, "That's right. I'm a black fascist." Warming up to the label, Shabazz and entourage surrounded me and said I had no right as a white guy to be in Ward 7. Wonder what he would have done if he knew I was a Republican? -- kill me I suppose, but then what DC resident wouldn't.

Phil Murphy



Hey! I've been writing in Lamont Cranston for shadow senator and shadow representative, too, for all these years. Who knows how many of us shadow Shadow for shadow supporters lurk out here? If Ed's only running for shadow representative, can we all still vote for Lamont for shadow senator?

Tom Price



Some election notes:

1. Spotted on 16th Street near the Jefferson today: Someone who looked a lot like John Ray, wearing a Brazil button. (Another reason not to vote for Brazil.)

2. I had no idea Capozzi was our shadow representative. I guess he's good at keeping a low profile. (Another reason not to vote for Capozzi.)

3. Thanks for the suggestion about voting for Ed Barron. I will pass it along, and encourage others to do the same. Let's see what kind of a voting bloc we can muster, here.

stephanie faul

Yes, I'm for Ed the Parking Barron! His effectiveness in dealing with those pesky parkers makes him a far more interesting candidate than all the rest. He has my vote.

S. Gallagher


The Blame Game

At first, when I enthusiastically read Ed's treatise on the plight of local schools, public education, & necessary reforms in DC , I became a 'shadow fan!' Now, after reading one denunciation after another, comparing and denigrating educators (union or non-union--here or there), he's lost my vote even though I'm too new to the metro area to be a registered voter.

Teachers in both public & private schools, are notoriously underpaid. (Shall we talk about major or minor league athlete's salaries?) It takes many out-of-pocket $$$'s (no longer wholly deductible) for a teacher to achieve a Ph.D +30 additional credits to approach 70K -- 75K per annum salary. Administrators are paid differently. Perhaps, Ed's pet peeves are more related to a school board agendas filled with personal issues that never passed muster. Who knows? Generic, negative assessments of all teachers becomes even more ludicrous by using the 'blame-game' and making Teacher Unions the messengers of profound, socio-professional failure.

Barbara Gollon


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Jeffrey Itell

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