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October 10, 1996

Kemp Falls Flat

Dear Neighbors:

Did you stay awake through the Kemp-Gore debate last night? Congratulations if you did. And no regrets if you didn’t, except for Kemp’s passing reference to Eleanor Holmes Norton near the end. How did she enter the debate? The progressive flat-tax plan, of course. Kemp tried to make the point that the Democrats don’t have a plan for America’s inner cities—and he cited presidential indifference to the fate of DC as a case in point. He didn’t make the point very well. In fact, Gore had him for lunch.

But even if Kemp was persuasive, his economic thinking is wrong. (If the President can categorize policy issues as either "right" or "wrong," I’ll take the same liberty here.) Kemp wants to create wealth in the inner cities (read minority) and he sees welfare payments as being the bane to wealth creation. Fine. But to create wealth, Kemp believes all you need is access to capital. Must be where they got the word capitalism from. If you don’t tax it, you’ll have more of it. Well, that’s probably true. What’s not true is that increased capital causes increased wealth.

Capital is one of only many factors that create wealth—and a relatively small one at that. Skills create wealth. Education creates wealth. Infrastructure creates wealth. Government institutions create (and can take away) wealth. Oh, and clever ideas, like monopolizing the production of software, can create wealth. Stupid ideas, like start a local newspaper, can diminish wealth.

Pouring capital into the Nation’s Capital is like loaning money to the District Government (before there were fiscal controls). The desire is insatiable, the ability to use it wisely negligible. Gore implied the point that one has to work on all factors of wealth creation to succeed. Pouring investment money into a city where so many citizens are churning through the penal system is not going to create a healthier city. The issue is more complex than that.

And apparently too complex for Kemp to understand. He’s been singing this one note for 20 years. Kemp’s ideas for cities sound sweet, and if you like wealth redistribution to those that already have it (and some of you probably do), support him. But don’t kid yourself that Kemp’s policies will help people in poverty. Kemp has himself fooled, but fortunately the overnight polls show he didn’t fool too many people in last night’s debate.


On the advice of counsel (editorial, not legal), I’m no longer running the classified ads separately. Instead, I’ll go back to placing them at the end of the newsletters. Why? I don’t know. My counsel persuaded me that more of you will read them this way.

So send in those ads and listings and I’ll run them—space available.


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


Barriers in Barrytown
Catherine Lancaster

Those barriers where only up because of all the traffic surrounding the 10,000 financial people in town for the IMF and World Bank meetings. Their headquarters was the Sheraton on Connecticut. Plus pretty much every Embassy in town had a party last week for their financial people and since most of the Embassies are fairly close together, the barriers were there to try and help with traffic control. That is also why there were so many limos and Lincoln Town cars on the road.


Newt Takes on Marion

Why would newt launch a tirade on Marion Barry? Newt figures he’ll hold the house this year, and that he is laying the ground work to eliminate the home rule government. That and tirading at Marion is safe and he needs someone to vent upon.


Vicki Leonard-Chambers

After reading Dianne Rhodes’ comments on generating positive p.r. for the city, I had to take a few deep breaths and calm myself down. Crime is bad in D.C. (worse than most people know) and I get angry when people poo-poo it. In particular, auto theft is spiraling upward. So I don’t blame that guy from the dating service for not wanting to drive his car into D.C.

To give a personal illustration of how bad auto theft has become, my husband and I have assisted the police in recovering six stolen cars in the past two weeks, five of which were from Maryland. (We live in Bloomingdale, which is the neighborhood between North Capitol and Georgia Ave. and Florida Ave. and Michigan Ave. It is located in Ward 5 and in is the 5th police district.)

The sad part is that the police don’t have the resources to recover stolen cars in a prompt fashion. Through our efforts to get the stolen cars we found recovered, we learned that there is only one working tow truck available to recover stolen cars and that not a single flat-bed truck is available to pick up those that have been stripped of their wheels. And get this—to make up for this lack of resources, the police rely heavily on the insurance companies of the stolen car owners to tow recovered stolen cars.

Another problem the police have is storage of recovered stolen cars. In 5D, there are often more stolen cars than space available to store them. In such instances, the cars are often left to sit on the street or alley, making them easy targets for stripping. This leads to the need for a flat-bed, and I’ve already told you the situation with that…

If folks really want to know how bad things really are, I suggest they get a police scanner and tune in to the channels for 5D, 7D, and 8D—the three highest crime areas in the city. And if you identify a stolen car in your neighborhood (it’s easy to spot them—punched out locks, busted steering column, broken window, some times with paper tags for some other car rather than a hot tag number) look for papers in the car identifying the true owner and call him. Once the true owner comes to reclaim the car, the police have no choice but to come and complete the necessary recovery paperwork so that the owners can take their cars back. I have tried this and it really works.


John Whiteside Not Ready to Move to Fairfax jmw@USORDER.COM

Dianne is quite right. I work in Herndon, and I was amazed when one day a number of people in my office commented that they would never go into DC after dark. When people find out I live in DC, they usually respond with polite shock, and it’s clear they’re thinking, "Why??" I try to do my bit by talking about how nice it is to live in Washington… though in all fairness, you have to be someone who prefers city life to like it. There are some folks who are just happier in a more rural setting, and that’s fine (a number of people in my office live out in Loudoun and Fauquier counties, which is nice in an entirely different way).

Part of the problem, I think, is that DC gets a lot of bad press on crime. Not that the crime problem isn’t there; but news about crime is presented in such a way that people forget that the majority of DC residents go through each day unscathed. This extends beyond the DC suburbs; when I was moving here from Boston, many of my neighbors in my inner-city neighborhood with drugs and gangs and murders said, "Oh my gosh, how could you live there? You can’t walk the streets at night!" But I live in a nicer neighborhood in DC than I did in Boston (for less money, I might add).

Step one is to reduce crime, obviously, but it doesn’t hurt to let people know how much is good about DC, to encourage them to come in and take advantage of all it has to offer… which also gives everyone around Washington a greater interest in making DC a safer, more pleasant place.

So don’t forget to tell all your suburban friends about all the good things that keep you living here.


A resident of the Quebec House apartment building was mugged at gunpoint on Monday, October 7, 1996, on Quebec Street, NW. This person was walking home around midnight when the incident occurred near the Adas Israel parking lot. I heard that the suspect is a tall, light-skinned black man with an athletic build and slight mustache and wearing a fanny pack.

You might want to contact the Police Department for confirmation of this description. What’s happening to the neighborhood? First a steak-knife attacker, followed by an increase in vandalism along Porter St, then a robbery at the Post Office and now gunpoint attacks?? Maybe it is time to move to the suburbs!!


Jury Duty
Stephanie Mencimer

How sick am I of hearing people bellyache about jury duty! I have little sympathy for all of you, and I suspect that the same people who bitch and moan about having to spend what usually amounts to one day every two years at Superior Court are the same people who were kvetching about how stupid the O.J. jury was. Jury duty is not the hardship d.c.story contributors seem to think, and it is not just a privilege but a duty of citizenship in a democratic society. You have no right to complain about the state of the justice system if you aren’t willing to participate in it fully.


Tom Berry

Since many of Story’s readers seem to live in the Cleveland Park area, I’d like to pose a question to them. Eating at Yenching Palace recently we noticed a steady stream of yupsters walk up to the cash register, pick up a bag of carry out and depart. Our surroundings were old, yet pleasant, but the restaurant had slightly more than a few diners eating at tables. I asked management what percentage of the Palace’s business was carry out and was told that it was 60%. Now the question. If the food is good enough to eat why don’t more people dine in? Are we that busy that we don’t have time (or want to take it) to enjoy a meal? Hey, the mai tais are wonderful at the Yenching but you can’t get them with your carry out. I realize this has nothing to do with potholes, Anacostia or Uncle Marion but an explanation would satisfy this curious one.

[BTW: Any feedback (so to speak) on Coppi’s in Cleveland Park? jeff]


An odd thing happened recently on Rodman Street.
Evan Roth The usual disclaimers etc.

You may recall my tale of the sinkhole that was finally fixed after I called Councilwoman Kathy Patterson’s office. Well, only a week or so after the sinkhole was fixed, the District sent a crew to Rodman that laid new asphalt over two big portions of the street (at the intersection of Quebec and a little farther west). Oddly, they didn’t repave the entire street, only those two portions. And they didn’t bother towing parked cars, so the new paving doesn’t extend from curb to curb. (As far as I can tell they city didn’t give local residents much warning, if any, of the impending repairs.)

I’m thankful they repaired a stretch that’s been in sore need of repair for quite some time, but I can’t help laughing at how they did it. I reckon that a half-asked job is better than none, and as much as, if not more than, we can expect from the District.


Re: Spring Valley Exxon & Emissions Test
David F. Power

Sorry a reader could not pass the DC inspection test due to emissions. However, it’s very unlikely that the mechanics at Spring Valley Exxon caused that problem.

I had a similar rejection once, with my ‘88 GM product. The DC Inspector at the Half Street station gave me the printout of the emission result, so I could take it to my mechanic. I took the printout to a mechanic (not Spring Valley, but the Bethesda Buick at Wisconsin & Jennifer). Mechanic did nothing, said "oh, you just took your car in for the test when it was cold. Take the car out on the beltway for 20 minutes and run it at 50 mph or faster. That will warm it up. Then drive straight to the inspection."

Did that, passed the test. Engines probably emit more half-combusted particles when not warmed up. Try warming up the ‘88 Mazda and going for inspection immediately after warming it up.


Steinway Grand Piano, Model L Ebony satin finish for sale $22,500.00/OBO, 1975 vintage. beautiful finish. Bench included. 10% commission to brokers, Cash sales. Must see.



I’m am interested in renting a harpsichord or possibly buying one if reasonably priced. Any suggestions on how to arrange this would be appreciated.

karen lightfoot


Photocopy Machine Needed

D.C. elementary school’s copier is busted and is praying for a corporate guardian angel (or sugar daddy—take your choice) who might have an older model not quite ready for the garbage heap. Call June Confer at 576-6140 or Debby Thomas at 564-5041.

Ralph Blessing


Tutor: Spanish, French, Italian. All levels; guaranteed results. Contact Carla at (202)363-8571


For Sale: Dining Room Table and Overhead Light

5’x 3’ beveled glass dining room table with 6 chairs $200. Matching overhead halogen light $200. Buy both for $300. Call (202) 682-6338.

Martin Lynds


I’m planning to sand and refinish my hardwood floors. Can anyone recommend an affordable, reliable person/company?

Martin Lynds



Come join us to discuss plays from the modern theater! Footlights meets every month at a metro-area restaurant to have dinner & discuss a modern play, from Ibsen to Albee. Sometimes a local director or actor joins our discussion, & often we attend the play we’re discussing & stay afterwards for a 2d discussion, this time with the director & cast. Join our list by sending the message "join theatre" (without the quotation marks) to We will be meeting Monday, October 21 to discuss Robert Bolt’s "A Man for All Seasons," Tuesday November 19 to discuss John Guare’s "The House of Blue Leaves," & Wednesday December 18 to discuss Tom Stoppard’s "Arcadia." RSVP by e-mail to

David Sobelsohn


Help Offered

If there are any charitable organizations in the metro area seeking to set up a web page, I’d be happy to offer advice and assistance for free. Good things can flow from having a web presence, methinks.

It’s best to reach me via email, but I can also be reached at my home/office at: (202) 686-5465. If there is a charitable organization in your neighborhood that you support, I’d appreciate if you could pass along this message to them.

Also, when calling by phone, please keep in mind that I live in a shared house and my house mates may not have a clue of how to answer your html questions. :-)

Phil Shapiro (personal) (work)


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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