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September 11, 1996

Primary Aftermath 96:1

Dear Neighbors:

There were three losers in yesterday's primary election.

The mayor. He was caught red handed by the Washington Post shadow patrol transporting voters to the polls in government property on government time. Another investigation and more work for his attorneys.

Statehood. Only 15 percent of the population bothered to vote. Neither the Washington Post or Washington Times put anything on their covers reminding folks it was primary day. Brazil can rightfully claim victory, but 40 something percent of 15 percent doesn't amount to much of a base to build on.

Ed Barron. Ed didn't become out city's shadow statehood representative. The not-so-uncontested Sabrina Sojourner received 94 percent of the vote, so we'll assume Ed made a strong showing of 6 percent. Alas, not enough for a party in his driveway.


I came across this news item recently.

Teachers in India marched through streets of New Delhi naked or in underwear or loincloths to protest not being paid in years. College professor Ram Dineshwar Singh said, "We teach other people's children, but we can not afford to send our own children to school."

I wonder if underpayed District employees--especially police who are waiting for their pay cut to be reinstituted--will employ similar tactics. Please reserve a curbside seat for me.


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

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' Primary

It came as a curious surprise to read in John Cappozi's election eve file that he supported me in my upset win over Jim Nathanson two years ago. Funny I didn't know it at the time. Makes me wonder why, then, he told Jim Nathanson, reassuringly, on primary election day, outside St. Albans (and in my pollworker/husband's hearing) that he had been moving around Ward 3, had hit a lot of precincts, and "Jim, you don't have anything to worry about."

Kathy Patterson Ward 3 Councilmember


After I voted, the Brazil volunteer asked me my number (I assume he meant the number on the stub from the ballot). I wasn't sure whether to tell him; does anyone know why he was asking?

Jim Kingdon

---- Taxes

"I'm confused about the e-mail re. the Earned Income Credit (EIC). As far as I know, there is no special DC tax on the EIC. Can you shed some light on this?"


You are correct there is no special tax on EIC. My reference was to the District's tax structure taking away EIC.

When I was in the city auditor's office, we worked out several examples showing this problem. The tax code has changed since then and made the situation somewhat better, but the basic problem still remains.

This problem is offset, partially, by three factors: exemptions, standard deduction and the low income credit. However, DC does not exempt the EIC, and its tax table taxes all income above the deductions. So, my statement is a bit of a reach, but not much.

My point is that it Phil wanted to play with the tax code, he should look at its full impact and administration, not just play who can cut it the most. Tax reform and tax reduction aren't always one in the same.

Secondly, I thought someone who has been in a professional staff position in the Council, and want to be a reformer, should let us know what his solutions to the city's difficult problems.

Hell, I'm for eliminating the sales tax, the property tax, transfer taxes and anything else that restrains economic growth or is regressive. These would be great for the city's economy, but not exactly a boone to funding city services.

Taxes and government services, especially ours, are an easy target, I wanted something more. As you may have gathered, he won't get my vote.

Carl Bergman



In response to Brian Reeves' observation of police writing tickets--doesn't anybody see anything strange about this? Perhaps the crime rate would be lower if the ticket-writers wrote the tickets to free up the police to focus on what they're primary function. It's not hard to figure out that it's vastly cheaper to employ a minimally-trained ticket-writer than a full-fledged member of DC's finest. On a morale/job satisfaction note, it must be boring as hell for the cops to write tickets all night.

Rick Rosenthal



For the record, Stephanie Faul, I, too, received the "come clean letter" for homestead exemptions. But what caught my eye, was that it was post- marked from Philadelphia. Also it was an incredibly poorly worded letter which if not read thrice, might cause one to Volunteer for an audit, when one has done nothing wrong.

Leila Afzal



During a Tuesday morning coffee drive-by, I discovered, "It's Your Mug" formerly at 26th & P in Georgetown is vacant. Certainly, there's latte grande-access at every corner, but The Mug, slightly off the beaten urban path, featured entertainment, poetry readings and a mecca for bookwormage. Have they relocated? Closed shop?

Kathy Crawford



Ed Barron wrote about the problems caused by teacher union:

If you were trying to support a family on $27K per year with no medical benefits, you'd find the idea of union representation pretty appealing.

Do you really think it's a good thing to pay teachers lousy salaries and not give them benefits? Gosh, I'm sure that will attract the most qualified people to teach our kids.

I think it's great that your wife was able to do such good work without financial rewards. I also think it's great that you were presumably earning enough money and getting benefits to make her low salary a non-issue in your household. Would you care to support a few more low-paid teachers while you're at it?

John Whiteside <>


Teacher Compensation

Evidently my diatribe calling for the abolishment of the teachers' union (along with getting rid of the school board and the administrator) struck a nerve in one of the Net Buddies. It was interpreted that I felt that teachers are overpaid. Au contrarire, mon ami. Good teachers work very hard and are seldom paid for their efforts. Most teachers are paid for their longevity and how many credits they have accumulated beyond a Master's Degree in Education ( a totally useless degree). No, I am in favor of paying teachers who demonstrate good skills in the classroom a decent salary that will enable them to be the breadwinner in their family.

I recognize the problems of determining who the good teachers are. The current system is a farce. Does anyone for a moment believe that 90% of the District's teachers are really of excellent or superior in classroom skills. Not very likely. The real problem is finding independent evaluators with the skills needed to make real evaluations of the effectiveness of teachers in the classroom. You cannot have principals or other teachers in the same school as evaluators. That's like giving Willie Sutton the combination to the bank vault. Part of the job of the School Superintendent is to assure that teachers are being fairly evaluated. There should be an element of the Central Office that is comprised of independent and skilled evaluators. Get rid of the bad teachers and pay the good ones a decent salary based on their performance in the class rooms.

Ed T. Barron


Cable Versus Direct Satellite

Someone recently asked about the advantages and disadvantages of subscribing to DC Cable versus installing and subscribing to a DSS (direct satellite system). I haven't seen any replies, so I'll take a shot at it.

Advantages of DSS:

1) The total cost of a complete cable channel package or a complete DSS package (including both USSB and Directv, the two programming providers for DSS) would be roughly equal, about $80 a month. (You could pay more, if you ordered pay-per-view movies or events on either cable or DSS, or if you bought DSS premium sports packages.) But for the same price DSS gives you dozens of additional channels, including very attractive cable channels that DC Cable doesn't carry (History Channel, Comedy Channel, Turner Classic Movies, and so on), and multiple channels of each of the premium movie services (HBO, Showtime, Encore, etc.).

2) Both the picture and sound on DSS are superior to those provided by cable. The better your stereo system and television, the more difference you'll see.

3) Look at how much of your cable bill goes to DC government.

Advantages of DC Cable:

1) The up-front cost is much less. You pay only for installation, not for equipment and installation. The cost of DSS equipment is coming down, but the system you'll want will still cost several hundred dollars, not the $200 you see in ads.

2) With DSS, you get one station at a time, unless you buy extra equipment and pay extra monthly programming charges. With cable, you can buy a simple signal splitter (between $5 and $35, depending on whether you want two or four outputs, or want a powered signal booster) and tape one station while watching another, or watch two stations at the same time.

3) With DSS, you don't get the networks or other locally broadcast stations, and you'll still need a separate antenna to get good local signals. DC Cable carries the local stations.

4) DC Cable gives you the most fascinating channels of all -- the Council's, Mayor's, and School Board's channels. Wow! It also gives you a worthwhile full-time local news station, Channel 8.

5) When both cable and DSS offer internet access, as they both promise to within a year or so, cable access will be significantly faster than DSS -- but they both will be much faster than even ISDN telephone service.

If you want the best of both worlds, and can spend a little more money, get both cable and DSS. Basic cable service, which is just $10.50 a month, will give you a good signal on the local stations, the government and public access channels, and a few extras (TBS, WOR), and Channel 8. You can then get your premium cable channels by satellite.

Gary Imhoff


"The GIRL SCOUTS in NW DC need a team to run their annual giving campaign. Share Her Annual Real Expenses (SHARE) begins in late September and runs through mid-November.

"Adult volunteers coordinate the program among about 25 troops in NW DC, provide training, support and encouragement to Troop ShareLeaders, and encourage families' additional contribution through the United Way/CFC drive. The time commitment at the height of the campaign is about 5 hours per week, and involves mostly telephone work. Prior fund-raising experience is not necessary; you will be working with seasoned Service team, and full training is provided. For more information, contact Adrienne via e-mail, or leave a message on my machine at (202) 363-9374. Thanks!"

Adrienne Sedgewick


1st Annual Van Ness/Forest Hills Festival

Mark Your Calendars for this October 5! Live Music, Free Food, Kids Activities & more!

Back in June I wrote to DC Story that a group of concerned merchants would get together to address the problems facing the Van Ness area. Since then, the Forest Hills Merchants Association has been formed to improve the Van Ness neighborhood and to shift some of the positive momentum into community building. Our first goal is the First Annual Forest Hills Festival. I would like to take this opportunity to invite all readers of DC Story to come as our guests!

On Saturday, October 5, the Forest Hills Merchants Association will sponsor the first annual Van Ness/Forest Hills Festival from 11am to 6pm. The event, free to the public, will be held on Connecticut Ave. between Van Ness and Albemarle. There will be fun for the whole family, and ample parking.

Live local bands will perform near the UDC/Van Ness Metro all day long. Arrow 94.7 FM will be co-sponsoring the event along with area retailers EJ's Town and Country Baths and Calvert/Woodley Liquors. DJ's from 94.7FM will emcee the event and give away gifts and prizes from area merchants.

There will be activities for ages 3-83. Area restaurants will sample their food, and many stores will have sidewalk sales. Other events include:

* Raffle for gifts and prizes from area merchants * Moon bounce, face painting and clowns for kids * Free samples from many area restaurants and cafes * Fire truck from the DC fire department * Canine unit from the Secret Service * Cheerleaders from the Washington Bullets * Aerobics demonstrations including special classes for kids and seniors * Bloodmobile from the American Red Cross * Auto care clinics, computer user clinics ... and much more!

Rain Date: Sunday, October 6, 1996, 11am-6pm

Need more information? E-mail or call me at (202) 364-2600. Hope to see everyone there! Andrew Frank, President, Sirius Coffee Co. President, Forest Hills Merchants Association


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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