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September 20, 1996

Not Quite the Washingtonian

Dear Neighbors:

Not quite the Washingtonian? Yeeks. I wouldn't even want to be compared to them. But as a diversion from usual political news (which we'll get to in a moment), I am soliciting information on favorite fall outings. Yes, it's dc.story's version of "100 Favorite Getaways." Why do this? Well, I'm tired of the same old places--climbing "Old Rag" now requires a permit and in autumn, has traffic lines longer than the Shirley Highway. Also, a new topic might bring out new voices.

Why share your secrets with us? We won't tell anyone. The information is only posted on the internet. It's not like anyone's going to find out about it. :)


Now back to politics as usual. First crime. "It's bad. Gotta stop it." Thank you. That was my George Bush imitation. None of our volunteers could make the crime summit, but the results were predictable (as reported in the Post). Crime is up and the police don't know what to do about it. The cops have finally admitted that we have a major gang problem. (Check out today's Post story about the Mount Pleasant gang shooting.)

Here's the deal. Crime in the District has been rising in most categories, although not precipitously as it did in the 1980s. But, nationwide, crime has been falling by big chunks year after every less-bloody year. Criminologists have found that policing makes a huge difference. Were we to have effective policing in Washington, we could save quite a few lives.


How about that SuperSmith? The man can't open his mouth without lying. When caught in a lie, he retorts, "Well if that's the way they see it..mumble, mumble, mumble." Whether it's his compensation (about 50 percent higher than he said) or the reasons why the National Science Foundation pulled a major grant, Smith keeps shoveling it. The only folks who seem to believe this crap are school board members, who are more concerned about covering their tuchuses than educating children.

Ah, if it wasn't for D.C. officials, we'd have to pay for professional entertainment.


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



In reply to Stephanie's comments about the low voter turnout, I would offer the following.

I think the distribution of voters, like income, is very skewed in D.C. A very few people, relatively, provide a lot of the D.C. revenue. (I seem to remember that out of 550,000 people, only 35,000 make over $50K/year.) Those small number of voters cannot make a real impact on election results, as reflected by the fact that *almost* everyone in Ward 3 voted against Barry in the last election.

Therefore, many citizens are resorting to the other means of voting, with their feet. The city can continue to overtax and under serve. But no one can prevent tax paying citizens from leaving -- and that is what they are doing.

Larry Seftor


Stephanie Faul wrote that the DC primary showed "just how pointless one's vote is." I'm not sure I disagree with her conclusion, but I found her logic a tad puzzling. To support her case, she pointed to two referendums -- Rhodes Tavern and the bottle bill. In the former, the people voted to keep the tavern, but Oliver Carr tore it down anyway. Well, that certainly supports the premise that voting doesn't matter.

But the bottle bill vote just doesn't work as an example. Quite the contrary. The people voted the bottle bill DOWN, and our governors accepted their decision. To me, that shows that voting DOES matter. (Full disclosure: I don't work for the beverage industry. I DID vote against the bottle bill. Has Stephanie ever lived in a place with bottle deposits? It's a real pain. Recycling is MUCH better, and although I haven't read any scientific studies on the matter, DC streets don't seem particularly more littered with bottles and cans than, say, Des Moines streets.)

Is Stephanie saying that democracy only works when the voters agree with her?

Marcus Rosenbaum


The Voice of Washington City Paper

Dear DC Story Regulars: It's time again to take a look at the quality of life here in D.C. Any comments? What's made your life good or bad over the past month? Has your car been swallowed by a pothole? Or have you had a good experience with the D.C. government? Pass your tips along.

Everyone who takes up residence in D.C. becomes an instant expert on the quality of life in town. One of the city's most time-honored hobbies is scouring the streets for the biggest pothole, the newspaper for the biggest scandal, and the alleys for the biggest rats. And every time we spot a crisis, we declare that it's the final straw for this embattled city.

Anyhow, Washington City Paper in March began monitoring quality-of-life trends in a special monthly column titled "The Needle." The column looks at the key and not-so-key events of the month and rates their impact on the District's quality of life. If you have tripped across any news or events or whatever that affects the quality of your life in the District, please send me a note at I am interested in any quality-of-life development whatsoever--the opening or closing of a restaurant, the falling of an important tree, and so on.

Erik Wemple

[Eric is also soliciting stories entitled "How Dumb Do You Think We Are?" The inspiration for the series was a Safeway closed for "repairs," when it was actually closed by the health inspectors. I mean, how dumb do they think we are? Got it? Then send it to Eric. jeff]



[Please copy back your responses to me at as well. Thanks.]

Considering going to NYC by bus rather than train. Interested in others experiences with Greyhound and/or Trailways.

Edna Small


Lead Paint Problem

District Home Owners: Have you had to abate and/or remediate a lead paint problem in your home? My neighbor, Kim McGillivray (who does not have email!) recently discovered that some flaking paint in her house contains lead, and needs to make some decisions about the best way to take care of it. She'd like to hear about your experiences, and find the names of reliable, responsible, and inexpensive contractors. Please either call Kim directly at (202)686-8857, or email me or dc.story, and I'll forward the responses to her.

Caren Ginsberg



[Perhaps you caught the front page story in the Post about Lexis-Nexis and your social security number? Our list's privacy guru, Dan Turner, looked into the matter and discovered the following. jeff]

(1) The threat to security is real.

(2) They don't necessarily have your SSN (they didn't have mine) or birthdate (they guessed (correctly) at mine) or mother's maiden name (they didn't have mine). In other words, it was non-damaging in my case. Whether they even *can* have your SSN is debatable -- I got two conflicting answers from them on that issue.

(3) a message I wrote to someone who was saying this was nothing to worry about:

"Ah, but armed with that information I can get your tax records for as far back as I want, your driver's license information, MEDICAL information about you, your driving record, your credit card numbers and how much you spent, etc. I can even do a FOIA request on your behalf. It's not paranoia...or, rather, it is paranoia, but "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone's NOT out to get you". It's just lovely that people can get your medical information -- maybe *you* have nothing to hide, but what if people could get information you entered about your family? How would it be if your HMO could find out that you'd been tested for AIDS at some point in your life? They might legitimately raise your rates, since only people who are at risk for AIDS get tested...the potential for evil is so large, that whenever we can we must work to eliminate the potential. While the likelihood that they could get that information is low, due to doctor-patient confidentiality, it's not that hard to pretend I'm you when I call your doctor...and I could get who your doctor is from your credit card, and I could get the credit card information by talking the company into faxing me your credit card bill from X month using your SSN and mother's maiden name (or, in the case of some CC companies, your zip code) :) Way too easy.

"Yes, there are databases containing your information. However, they're not generally open to anyone with a credit card. Sometimes, yes, they are, but not always, and when do you have a real opportunity to REMOVE yourself from a database like that? Take the opportunity! Seize the day! And they won't ask you your SSN, just your name and address."

Daniel A. Turner


I highly recommend we start a movement to get the District to stop using our Social Security numbers on our Driver's licenses. It is becoming increasingly easier to have our identities stolen and have our credit trashed. I for one refuse to use my Driver's license as a form of identi- fication.

If we want to get this policy change how do we go about it?


Another E-Zine

[Certainly you get too much email everyday--and that only includes the messages I send. But there's a daily list that I've enjoyed and found useful. It provides a quick read of the news before I delve into the stacks of newspapers. I'm not affiliated with them, I don't know them, and I don't stand to gain anything from pushing the list. They asked their readers to pass on the info (much like I ask you to spread dc.story (like kudzu), and I am delighted to do so. Jeff]


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The D.C. Affairs Section of the D.C. Bar invites all readers of D.C. Story to a series of programs addressing critical and controversial issues facing the District. The programs, which feature key leaders in the public and private sectors, are sure to provoke thoughtful, challenging discourse. Registration is only $20 (with a discount for District government employees). To register, call the D.C. Bar Sections office at 626-3463 to secure a registration form. Lawyers and non-lawyers are welcome. Join us at the following:

9/25/96 at 5:30 p.m. +The Health Care Crisis in the District of Columbia.+ Hogan & Hartson Litigation and Conference Center, 555 13th St., N.W.

Speakers include Hon. Linda Cropp, D.C. Council; Dr. Mohammad Akhter, Mayor+s Health Policy Council; Tamara Smith, VP, Capital Community Health Plan; and John Fairman, Executive Dir., D.C. General Hospital.

10/08/96 at 6:00 p.m. +The D.C. Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority: Challenges and Priorities for the District of Columbia.+ Marriott at Metro Center, Lower Level, 775 12th St., N.W.

Speakers include John W. Hill, Executive Dir., D.C. Control Board, and Daniel Rezneck, General Counsel, D.C. Control Board.

11/13/96 at 5:30 p.m. +Town and Gown Relationships.+ This program will explore the often fractious relationship between local universities and their neighbors. The location of the program will be announced in the next several weeks.

Speakers include Hon. Kathy Patterson, D.C. Council Ward 3; Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President, The George Washington University; Jerry Moore, Esq, Arter and Haden (Attorney for Howard University); and Maureen Dwyer, Esq. Wilkes Artis (Attorney for Georgetown University and American University)

Karen Hardwick KMH@DC3.HHLAW.COM


This week is celebrated as National Adult Day Care Week, and I wanted to provide interested parties with the following information:

The HOLY CROSS HOSPITAL ADULT DAY CARE CENTER is pleased to announce the 4th annual caregiver education series. Topics of interest to caregivers of elderly and/or medically disabled adults will be featured the first Thursday of the month, 7:30 - 9:00 pm, from October to June. This program is open to the community at no charge. For more information, call 301.754.7152.

All programs held in the HOLY CROSS RESOURCE INSTITUTE 9805 Dameron Drive, Silver Spring

George Liao


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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