Im writing a couple of thousand words for the November edition of the Northwest Side Story. Ill focus on the upcoming election, progress made since the Barry election, and the state of home rule. The usual stuff. If you have any suggestions or especially witty phrases for attribution, please send them to me right away. Place NW in the subject line so I will know not to post the message.
Why do I produce this newsletter? For the millions of dollars it brings in? For the glory? The shame? Because Im a rich dude with too much time on my hands? The answer is none of the above, but if you bug me, Ill discuss this topic one day. Ive heard through several grapevines that readers have wondered how I make money with the newsletter (Hint: I dont).
All of which is a long-winded way of asking you to make my job easier. Formatting is the most time consuming aspect of the job. And the most time consuming task is finding your name and email address in the header, cutting it out, deleting the header, and pasting both at the end of each message. So I beg youagainto please follow the format laid out in every issue. A title line, a blank line, a brief discussion (no more than two paragraphs), another blank line, your name, and, finally, your email address. Please dont substitute your signature file for your name and email address. I dont like bottom fishing any better than fishing in the header.
Also, no CAPITALIZATION please. Everyone wants attention BUT WOULD YOU WANT THE NEWSLETTER TO READ LIKE THIS.
Few postings arrive with correct format. If they did, I could actually spend a little time on your grammar and mine to make the letter more readable.
Also free! dc.movie: Short movie reviews and movie discussion. To subscribe, send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org and note the name of the newsletter in the subject line or body of the text.
Id like to see some discussion of the upcoming local elections. Everyone says to vote for Carol Schwartz, an opinion I agree with, but what about the other at-large council seat? The InTowner said some nice things about Sam Jordan, but then hesitated to suggest a vote for him, apparently because that might hurt Schwartz (even if you vote for Schwartz too?). Im afraid I dont understand the strategy here (for that matter, I dont even understand the *mechanics* of this one-seat-reserved-for-a-non-Democrat system).
Any other interesting local votes other than at-large council? I mean, there is shadow senator/representative, but that is a sideshow, not a race.
[Jim: On election day, you get to vote for two candidates for the City Council chairs-at-large. Since the city is 107 percent Democrat-registered, its a given that Harold Brazil, who won the Democratic primary, will win a seat. The fact that the other seat is reserved for a non-majority party member stems from the Home Rule agreement. Congressional Republicans didnt want to the obvious to occurthat all elected seats would go to Democrats. Democrats in sheeps clothinglike Bill Lightfoot (an Independent) and Hilda Mason (Statehood Party)skirt the rule by running under "looks and smells like a Donkey" parties. Even Marion Barry ran for the council one year as an Independent.
Schwartz is expected to take the other spot because shes the only figure on the ballot who has demonstrated that she can garner votes across the city. Voting for Jordan would hurt Schwartz because she needs the votes to finish second. Brazils chances of not finishing first in the election are as a likely as Marion Barry...never mind. Jeff]
School Issues: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop
Members of the Control Board must engage in less talk and take immediate action with respect to the DC Public Schools. It is simply irresponsible of the CB to have leaked in August their intention to remove the Superintendent and still to have done nothing by mid-October. Their irresponsibility was compounded more recently when Andrew Brimmer told reporters the Board will likely make the Board of Education advisory, but he wont tell us until after the election. Please, save us the suspense and do us the favor of letting us know what were voting for on November 5!
For what its worth, heres my prescription for reviving public education in the District. We need the Control Board to remove and replace the Superintendent. They should also request the resignation of each member of his cabinet. We need the new management team to Produce a short-term facilities plan to see that all schools occupied by students are dry, heated and free from life-threatening fire code violations; Produce a long-term facilities master plan for the consolidation and modernization of school buildings; Find out how many students we have and where they are located; Verify the residency of all students and charge tuition to those who dont live in DC; Find out how many people are employed by DCPS and what they do,especially how many teachers and where they are located; Negotiate a contract with the teachers union; Hire aides and substitutes, as needed; Evaluate all principals before the end of the school year and all teachers by the end of the schools year.Train those who are minimally substandard; fire those who are incompetent or who fail to improve after training.
We need the DC Council to: Replace Hilda Mason as chair of the Councils committee on education; Draft and pass legislation to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of DCPS managers and administrators; Draft and pass legislation to tighten personnel rules and regulations that make it difficult to fire DCPS employees who are incompetent, who commit crimes or have criminal records,or who commit acts of malfeasance. And we need all this to happen yesterday.
The response to my call for an alternative to UDC apparently woke somebody up at UDC. JBRITTON@UDC.EDU says that Im uninformed. It is true that so far I must rely on what I read in the Post or hear on Channel 9. If the writer is operating with information that is incorrect then lets have the facts. What is the enrollment at UDC for this academic year (perhaps an anemic academic year that may only last six calendar months if the threat to shut down in March is real)? Next - What is the operating budget? This includes funds provided by the District, funds provided by the federal government, and funds provided by tuition. What is the ratio of students to faculty? How many total employees are there at UDC? What proportion of the total number of employees are teaching faculty? What proportion of the total number of employees are administrators or staff (non-faculty)?
This is the information needed to make informed decisions about the fate of UDC. Its called Government in the Sunshine. If we have more sunshine in the District well have better informed citizens and better disbursements of our tax dollars.
In addition, I have never questioned the laudable mission of UDC - to provide educational opportunities to inner city post high school student who might not be able to afford or be accepted at other area schools. That mission is much like the mission of New York City Technical College (City Tech). The secret to long term improvement in the District is the education of our youngsters from first grade through college.
Dick Gill email@example.com
Why do we need a full-fledged University to assist the "underprepared" student. Wouldnt the resources be better spent by attracting even more students into a 2-year "community college" format? That seems like a natural format to prepare motivated students for higher education or for top-notch vocational programs.
Where do the 4-year college bound go? With the right programs in place, they could join the "prepared" high school seniors at one of the many DC private colleges or at either Virginia or Maryland state institutions. I believe that DC could make a deal with Virginia and Maryland to accept DC students at resident rates with suitable subsidy from DC.
That would likely get strong support from those of us taxpayers who have children nearing college age who dont need UDCs special services but would be pleased to be able to attend Virginia or Maryland schools at resident rates
Might even get Congress interested, since dollars could flow directly to Virginia and Maryland higher education institutions instead into the District coffers.
It seems to me that UDC risks losing everything if it insists on retaining its current structure in the face of continuing budget reductions. Reality is that there is unlikely to be any budget break for UDC; the Control Board seemed to make that clear. From press reports, it also seems likely that, in the face of continuing budget declines, UDC will lose accreditation; if that happens the cries to dismantle the institution will certainly increase. Bold action now might save the day.
[Until the financial crisis became apparent, the major argument for UDC was that all major cities and states have their own university. By the same logic, thats why virtually every nation has their own airlineseven if it consists of a lone 727 on the runway of Burundis airport in Bujumbura. The lesson: Dont confuse the facts with logic. jeff]
I am glad that someone finally chose to convert Starbucks to a verb. There SHOULD be a verb for a company that thinks it needs to be in EVERY neighborhood in the city - and it shouldnt be a good one! Their site selection process is a very invasive and hostile process - much like rape. I dont imagine they seek the consent of the neighborhood before they make their penetration. The property owners nothing more than pimps cashing in.
Starbucked - Boston Marketed - whatever !!!! Im tired of seeing these national companies invade our neighborhoods without any respect for the local character. As citizens, we need to take a more active role in keeping them out!
Donna Ancypa firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh for petes sake - Im for the mom and pop diner as much as the next person, but surely WrapWorks is not the sign of the global conspiracy that Jeff thinks it is (worse, if it is, it may be too late to stop it).
A disclaimer: I havent eaten at WrapWorks (yet), so Im speaking off the cuff, or napkin, as it were. I have, however, eaten at Chevys .The margaritas are good, the food is good, and the happy hour specials in the bar make the place eminently affordable in a city known for overpriced cuisine.
Caveat emptor, chain restaurant eater: you get what you pay for, and if its not to your liking, dont eat there. If it tastes like overprocessed chain restaurant grub (TGIFridays), to me its not worth it, whatever the price. If its good (Cheesecake Factory), its worth the money. That being said, Im not ordering food named after a cartoon character, no matter how good.
Im wordy here because I am fairly passionate about the homogenization of America - the foundation of the global village may have been the television we all watch, but it was stealthily cemented with the franchises at which we all shop and eat. I hate the notion that Wal-Mart is now our common denominator, but there you are. For better or worse, our society has already changed forever because of it. We can and should rail against the dying of the light, but anyone who thinks McDonalds is going out of business anytime soon is loopy.
Feel free to rip me to shreds, but Id prefer to hear about the places people like to eat instead.
For all you Curious Georges wondering about WrapWorks, heres the scoop. Ive been to the Georgetown WrapWorks twice since it opened. The burritos are pretty good (I had the Colonel Mustard - very good; and the Coat and Thai - not bad). They do have an extensive listing of burritos and the ingredients, though rarely Mexican, are very fresh and, at least seemingly, healthy. WrapWorks has a pretty cool iced drinks (a.k.a. Slurpee) bar which I have not yet tried. They also serve alcohol, including a beer called Monument Ale (also very good) from a new, D.C. based brewery, Washington Brewing Company.
The atmosphere is upbeat, at times almost bordering on cheesy. They have cute names for all the positions (i.e. the cashier is a "QCA" - Quick Change Artist). The original concept of WrapWorks was in San Francisco and, for some reason, they figured if it did well there itll do OK in DC. (As an aside, this seems to be a trend - Starbucks first expansion out of the west coast was to DC and the Dupont Starbucks is, apparently, the most successful in the US).
The lunch lines were long, but moved quickly. The prices were very good (entire meal for under $7). They serve lunch and dinner and upstairs seating is available. As for those of you who like to take pleasure in others mistakes - apparently, the architects were brought in from California and as a result, they have placed the order counter (with the QCA) right at the front of the restaurant so that lines run out the door and onto the sidewalk. No problem now, but I dont think Californias winters are as bad as ours and come winter, I dont know if anyone will want to stand in the cold for a Wrap! Enjoy.
Take Away Food
Joan Eisenstodt writes in praise of take-out food. I have only 2 problems with take-out: money & health. It costs too much (for me, anyway), & has way too much salt & fat (restaurants usually dont tell you how much). Now, not everyone will like the following menu, but you can (1) steam broccoli, (2) bake fish, (3) steam plain rice (baked potato may take a few minutes more; adding vegetables to the rice will take a few minutes more), & even (4) chop lettuce for a salad, for 2 people, in a total of about 15 minutes. Its a plain, balanced, low-fat, low-salt quick meal, & with the right spice combination even tastes good. We dont all need to go to the lengths of Michael Jacobson of The Center for Science in the Public Interest, who (rumor has it) has pretty much stopped going out to eat. But there must be cheaper & healthier alternatives than Yenching Palace, even for busy people.
I ate my first meal in DC at Vesuvios, too, in 1983, but Im sorry to say I went back a number of times over the course of the next year, until I could tolerate no longer the puddle of oil in the middle of each pizza.
Jim Foti email@example.com
The first night I moved to DC (on my birthday in 1988), I walked forever trying to find someplace (like in NY) where I could buy pizza by the slice. An hour and a half later, I landed in Vesuvios .It was arguably the worst pizza I have ever eaten. I wont miss it.
I ate my first "wrap" in San Francisco about a week ago. They are the rage of the town there, and wraps could soon be the new wave of fast food in DC.
Dumb No. 1. Has anyone managed to get their supercan replaced? We had two upon a time, one took a hike. The others handle is broken. When they put it on the lift it goes all over the place union reps may be calling us any day. Normally, Id do the twelve call tango to track it down, but a sharp neighbor gave up in disgust last year trying to replace one. In short, who do I have to say rumpelstiltskin to?
Dumb No. 2. Due to an old habit and to being compulsive, I always note the highest DC auto tag no. I saw something at 997000 the other day. When they hit 999999, they have to issue new tags heaven forbid we go to a AAA000 system. Does anyone know if a new series is planned, or is this another mess waiting to happen? Yes, I could try to call DPW, but theyd probably send me a low number trash can.
Dumb No.3. We had a car stolen in 1990. Its license no was my ham call W3HBK. Each year since then, a detective calls to find out if Ive recovered the car. I explain that it belongs (if not in little pieces) to the insurance co. and to take my name off his hot. They always agree. When they call next year it will be seven years.
If they still track the car, what about the tag? Id like to start using W3HBK again. Has anyone replaced a vanity tag on a stolen car without problems? Im sure theyll sell me the tag. I just want to make sure I dont get nailed as a thief of my new (used) car. Then again, maybe DPWd end up giving me a supercan with my vanity plate. It would probably get booted and towed.
This past weekend I joined my girlfriend and another couple for what we thought would be a fun evening at the newly refurbished Uptown Theater. Boy were we wrong.
Although we heard that the plan was to actually reduce capacity from 1200 to 1000 and install larger, more comfortable seats, we think that the sadistic planners must have increased capacity and totally ignored the comfort of anyone over 5 feet tall. The new larger seats are not that much more comfortable, or maybe they are, but they are so close together that three out of the four of us could not move our legs or recline at all. I am only six feet tall, and one of my friends is about two inches taller, but we could literally not fit in those seats.
It is a real shame that such a nice building is now totally useless. Any movie that draws anywhere near capacity at that place is off limits because there is no way to comfortably enjoy a film shown there.
November 10-14 there will be a childrens book fair at the Gan Hayeled Nursery School at Adas Israel Synagogue, 2850 Quebec Street. Hours are 8:30-12:30 daily, and Tuesday, Nov. 12 and Wednesday, Nov. 13 7:00-9:30 in the evening. In addition to offering a major selection of childrens and young adult literature carefully selected by parents and teachers, there are books on Jewish heritage and holidays. Special events featured are the following:
Sunday, Nov. 10, 10:00-11:30AM: Donna Gunger (Borders storyteller), face painting and opening reception
Tuesday, November 12, 7:00PM: Pam Gardener, childrens literature expert, talks about raising children with a passing for reading
Wednesday, November 13, 7:00: Joan Nathan book signing and informal talk (@7:30) on getting children excited about cooking.
murch school country fair
Murch Country Fair will be held Oct. 26 rain or shine at the Murch School, cor. 36th and Davenport, from noon to 5:00PM. It will offer games, activities, a vintage furniture sale, food, and fun for the whole family.
For Sale: Michelin tire for Volvo Turbo
The potholes in DC took care of three of the tires on my wifes station wagon. When I went to get them replaced, I was shocked at the price and opted for less of a "sport" tire (it is of course a station wagon).
In any event, I now have a Michelin HX Pilot 205/50 ZR16 tire with about 3,000 miles on it. My wife is sick of it sitting in the basement. I encourage any and all Volvo turbo owners to check their tires for bulges. These tires a very low profile and hence prone to such damage.
The tire is essentially new and obviously I would be willing to sell it for far less than the NTW replacement value.
Horace Howells firstname.lastname@example.org
Haja, a hard-working, charming, gentle, and well-trained home-health aide took care of my Mother beautifully. If recommendations came with stars, shed get five. Should you need such services, you cannot do better. Contact me by e-mail (email@example.com) or by phone (202-986-3463) to get more information and her number.
Daniel A. Turner firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone have a pied-a-terre in NYC mid town or upper east side location that youd like to rent when youre not using?
Karen Feld btwm32a@PRODIGY.com
Home PC Computer Assistance. Ill 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 Story@intr.net
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