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September 16, 1996

Dr. Spreadsheet 96:2

Dear Neighbors:

Our first order of business is the fate of Ed Barron's ill-fated venture into electoral politics. Standing in his driveway as the shadow candidate who would serve but not perform, Ed lost the race for shadow U.S. Representative for the Democratic Party. Candidate Sabrina Sojourner won the Democratic primary with 27,415 votes. However, almost six percent of the vote went to write-in candidates--1,614 votes in all. I don't know how many of those went to Barron, but certainly many of them did. And certainly this is a base Ed can build on for the election in November. We may be partying in his driveway yet.


The Washington Bizness Journal reports that CVS is close to signing a lease for the vacated Hechingers property in Tenleytown. A possible feature of this larger-than-average drug store? A drive-through window for prescriptions. I'll take the Percodan with extra cheese, please.

On a more serious note, the Journal reported two weeks ago that the number of jobs in the District fell 12 percent in the past two years--an absolutely astounding number. You can't blame only Uncle Sam for that catastrophe. Has the District hit bottom or do we still have a ways to go? I'll (uncharacteristically) keep my mouth shut for now. You tell me the answer. Evidence counts.


The following memo dictated by Dr. Smith (erstwhile Superintendent of Schools) was leaked to me and I'm happy to share it with you. To refresh your memory, Smith runs the school system and Dr. Omer is the school system's Chief Financial Officer. City Chief Financial Officer Anthony Williams (who operates--kinda, sorta--independently of THE MAYOR) placed Omer in the school system to get a grip on the system's flagging financial affairs. Omer testified before the Control Board that when it came to financial controls, Smith was performing at the first-grade level.


Date: September 10, 1996

Subject: Request for Resume

As a result of your testimony before the Authority on Wednesday, September 4, 1996, where you stated that the financial conditions in D.C. Public Schools are in "disarray," many persons have telephoned me inquiring about your background to make such an assessment. Some have indicated that they taught with you and that your field was not accounting. Additionally, I have received comments questioning your ability to accurately interpret a spreadsheet using accounting technology.

In order that I might be able to respond to these inquiries and allegations, please provide me with a copy of your resume that contains information I may use in my responses. It is my intent to keep as much chaos and turmoil from the system, and you, as possible.

Thank you for your support and cooperation.


cc: Mr. Anthony Williams, Mr. Stephen Harlan, Dr. Joyce Ladner, Ms. Constance Newman, Mr. Edward Singletary, Mrs. Karen Shook, Dr. Andrew Brimmer.

(end of memo)


Smith's grasp of logic is dicey. Omer made some serious allegations and Smith responded with a nonresponse. "That's old garbage." This from a man who yet again failed to order textbooks in time for the beginning of school. (And, yes, no one disputes that the textbook money was available all summer.) Since he doesn't seem able or willing to refute the charges, he goes after Omer's qualifications instead. Omer holds a doctorate in Public Administration. More importantly, he's earned the trust of Anthony Williams, for whom he's worked since Williams took office.

Now assume the worst--that Omer can't read a spreadsheet, which I find highly unlikely. What's that got to do with the 200 ghost employees Omer found on the DCPS payroll? Or the myriad of Smith's other managerial misadventures? Smith's only hanging 'round because the Control Board can't find someone capable of taking over this forsaken institution.

And by the way, can Smith read a spreadsheet? Can he read the writing on the wall?


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Jeffrey Itell



When I went to vote I was the *only* voter in the polling place. This is actively scary. It is a sad statement about how seriously the city's citizens take elections. Unfortunately, the public is right to be cynical: How many people remember, for example, the referendum to preserve Rhodes Tavern? That's the classic example of just how pointless one's vote is.

[Jeff writing now: Since I was one of the people who forgot the Rhodes Tavern particulars, I asked Stephanie for some background, to wit:]

In short version, a referendum was put on the D.C. ballot to preserve Rhodes Tavern on its site. Rhodes Tavern, as you may recall, was the oldest building still standing along Pennsylvania Avenue (actually at 15th and F). The referendum passed. Oliver Carr tore Rhodes Tavern down anyway.

Another example was the bottle bill, in which beverage companies swamped the city with money opposing it. It lost, of course.

And that's *before* we get to examples of candidates who, when elected, perpetuate the status quo instead of making good on their promises of change. We all know who the chief example of *that* is.

steph "What if they gave an election and no-one came?" faul


Voter Stubs

In response to Jim Kingdon's question about the number of the voter stub. The ballots are numbered and handed out sequentially, so the number shows how many people have voted in your precinct.

Renee Schwager

--- Jim Kingdon asked why the Brazil poll worker asked for his ballot number. The reason poll workers request this is to see how many people have voted without having to go inside to ask. This would involve leaving the entry way (and taking off all of the buttons he or she is probably wearing), possibly missing a voter.

Turnout numbers (which are given to a roving coordinator or called in to the campaign office) are important, as they trigger get out the vote efforts during the day if an area where the candidate is strong hasn't voted.

Michael Bindner


Cable and Satellite TV

Gary Imhoff <> writes of the advantages of DC Cable versus DSS systems. An added feature of DC Cable, little-known, is available to you if you have a stereo TV or VCR, one that allows the use of the Second Audio Program (SAP), the side channel on which programmers transmit Spanish translations or other alternative tracks. DC Cable provides the BBC World Service, live 24 hours a day in FM-quality sound, as the SAP on C-SPAN2. That's the single thing I miss the most from having given up DC Cable when I moved into my unwired apartment last year.

Alex Johnson



Spotted at the corner of 14th and F Streets, N.W.: A panhandler (white, male, long blond hair) hunkered down with a paper cup in front of him and a sign that said, "WHY LIE? I NEED A BEER."

steph "Could have used a beer myself right then, actually" faul


Sidewalk Vendors

In my August posting, I had inquired: 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.

The City Paper reports that police arrest vendors routinely. One flower vendor was shut down on Valentine's Day in 1995 for having an "oversize cart" and he was arrested and forced to dismantle the cart. City Paper also discloses that the mayor runs a "vending task force, which meets every week at One Judiciary Square."

Any other DC Story subscribers heard of vendors being actually __arrested__ for violations of vending regs? What about the "vending task force," any subscribers out there heard what it does, or what kinds of policies it sets?

David F. Power


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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