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November 10, 1996

Substitute Teacher

Dear Neighbors:

The mayor and his entourage leave for a 10-day "privately paid" trip to Asia tomorrow. I place "privately paid" in quotes because taxpayers will still foot the bill for His Honor’s Praetorian Guard...and because we never get to see who privately pays for these trips. If the city’s coffers are "overflowing" from the mayor’s last trade mission to Africa—plus the "goodwill" he garnered from attending the Republican Convention—why don’t we pay for these trips out of those revenues?

But then the mayor might stay home more often. Whenever the mayor leaves town, the Control Board, CFO, and Michael Rogers, the city administrator, start kicking bureaucratic butt. It’s just like how students react when they have a substitute teacher—except acting unruly in this city is akin to doing good. If reform breaks out, expect the mayor to cancel his trip and return home immediately.

On the economic front, His Honor might want to focus more closely on close to home. The Washington Business Journal reports that the District lost about 30,000 jobs during Clinton’s first term, down 4.5 percent. That’s because the federal government shrunk? Look again. Employment in Virginia and Maryland increased by 7.7 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. Out of 50 states rated in creating jobs, the District finished 51st. Only Hawaii also failed to generate any jobs during this period.


Karen Lundegaard of the Journal reports that "That’s Amore" has opened in the space formerly known as Hamburger Hamlet. Have you visited? Is it "That’s Good?"


As you know, the Control Board plans to replace School Board Superintendent Franklyn "ServiceMaster" Smith with General Julius Becton, who is credited with having turned around FEMA and Prairie View A & M College. General Becton, I understand, is looking forward to the assignment. I guess if you’ve been to war, how bad can DCPS really be? Meanwhile, city officials and media are expressing outrage about the Control board’s assault on democracy by diminishing the role of the School Board. One commentator went so far as to compare the action to ones made just before the Nazi’s took over Germany.

So, who thinks a fascist coup is underway?


Also free! Short movie reviews and movie discussion. Send an email message to to subscribe.

Jeffrey Itell


Rhino Chasers
Margie Gibson NZPEM053@SIVM.SI.EDU

The Zoo’s newest resident, the rhino calf born on 31 October, has been named Himal. Mother and calf are doing well and the Elephant House should reopen tomorrow around noon. So be among the first to welcome Himal—and I guarantee you’ll fall for his charm!


What is so bad about Harold Brazil?
Vicky Leonard-Chambers

I met Harold Brazil at two meet and greets held before the election. Before meeting him, my impression was that he was a "slick willy" type of guy. After meeting him and asking him questions, I thought he was okay. He came across as concerned about getting the city back on track and expressed ideas as to how to do it. I would like to here from others why they are so down on Harold Brazil. Hard facts please, no impressionary stuff.


School Board
Harold Goldstein

Does anyone really think that, with the candidates we had, the make up of the school board is at all relevant to the actual supposed product of the school system?

Maybe I missed it but I didn’t read a single statement by any candidate that had any bearing on the present plight of the school system. The bottom line is that the large majority of kids in the DC school system are not learning!

In the post Sunday editorial section a few weeks ago only one of the 5 contributors focussed on this bottom line. I agree with that person that the only way to turn the school system around is to define the end result that is desired and to mandate that kids do not go from grade to grade unless they achieve this end result.

I would suggest an incremental phasing in of standards of this nature. While some kids may suffer because of this, those same kids are not getting anything out of the system as it stands. The present school system is perpetuating a giant fraud upon the city and its victims don’t realize it until it is too late. Most of those reading this have NO IDEA how bad the quality of the graduate from the DC school system is and would be shocked to find out.


Election Fallout
ralph martin

The complaint about voters at John Eaton being "asked to vote later" was ill advised. The hall was very crowded at about 8:45 a.m. Some people left after signing in and receiving their voting card. To prevent vote fraud, such people cannot be allowed back to vote later. (They might give or sell the card to someone else). Observing this, the lady in charge had the sign-in table volunteers ask people, before they signed in, whether they wished to vote later. The question was not designed send people away, but to make sure that those who might be inclined to leave did not lose their opportunity to vote.


The Barron Juggernaut
Ed T. Barron

It’s hard to determine just how many write-in votes I got in the "Shadow" races they are all lumped together. I guess I squandered my $11 campaign budget. Perhaps some of you saw the eight nanoseconds of my TV ad on channel 9 the evening before the election. It was sort of a subliminal ad since it appeared for such a short time. If you blinked during the broadcast you would have missed it. Let’s face it $11 doesn’t buy much TV time today. I wish, however, to thank my supporters and my detractors as well. It doesn’t matter what they say about you as long as they mention your name.


Getting His Hopes Us
Larry Seftor

Periodically we hear Barry called the "Mayor for life." If I remember correctly, I was told by Tom Sherwood about a year ago that because of some type of term limit, Barry can "only" serve one more term. Am I delusional or is there something to this.


Voting Rights
Michael G. Bindner

On election day I wrote to the Maryland State Administrative Board of Election Laws to request ballot access for citizens of the District of Columbia for the office of U.S. Senator in the next, and all succeeding, elections. I asserted that, as a matter of constitutional right, D.C. residents are entitled vote for and seek office for this post as if Maryland citizens. This right is found in the 20th Amendment, which shifted representation in the Senate from the various state legislatures to the people of the states. When this occurred, the citizens within the "natural boundaries" of Maryland should have obtained senatorial representation rights in the same way that residents of Andrews Air Force Base and the National Institutes of Health enjoy the right to elect ..Maryland Senators.

This issue is separate from any proposals for Statehood or retrocession. It is simply a claim for our constitutional rights. These governance options are under study in other places, including a city-wide effort initiated by a group of Ward 3 Democrats of which I am a part. The option that I am proposing as part of this effort is to create a federal enclave as provided for in the Home Rule Act.

A federal enclave could be governed by a Commission (the way the District used to be) which could also be empowered to set the federal payment to truly compensate the District for services rendered and revenue lost (including what we would otherwise garner under a commuter tax). Congress could then exercise its oversight authority over that body and leave the rest of the District alone. Note that establishing such an enclave is necessary under all governance options, including statehood and retrocession to Maryland.


Commuter Tax
Donna Ancypa

[I can’t really tell in his message whether Rex was for a commuter tax or just against commuters. This is my $.02 worth]

A commuter tax, while a great idea on paper might indeed be the kiss of death for our shrinking tax base. Speaking as a native Detroiter, the implementation of a commuter tax in that city (by then mayor-for-life Coleman A. Young) was another nail in the coffin of Detroit’s dying business center. While certainly not an expert in these matters, I do know that southeastern Michigan now resembles northern Virginia with its suburban tech centers, exurbs, and new freeways snaking around and away from a city whose publicly funded art museum can’t afford to keep its doors open.

Just an example; I know the commuter tax wasn’t the only thing fueling the decline. I’d be interested to hear people’s suggested alternatives for generating revenue (are you listening, Fannie Mae?).

[Allow me to gaze into my crystal ball, especially after Mayor Barry unwisely picked a fight with the feds by proclaiming that residential road plowing would take priority over suburban feeder roads. Someday down the line the Metro area is going to wind up with a Regional Transportation Authority, akin to the transit authority but encompassing roads, bridges, tunnels, sidewalks, sidewalk cafes, cappucino machines, etc. Working within artificial "city" boundaries for a road network doesn’t make much sense. And since the District keeps threatening to become the "There That is Not There" in the regional scheme, the federales will one day just take away public works authority from the city as well. Someday soon we won’t have DPW to kick around anymore. I don’t see Home Rule diehards going to the barricades over this issue—they didn’t when Blue Plains was further regionalized—but it will another step in the disovlement of District management into regional entities. It’s smart policy, even if the city was not run as a kleptocracy. Jeff]


Parkway traffic
Rick "Use the pedal on the right you idiots!" Rosenthal

I have commuted the GW Parkway daily for the last two years between Cleveland Park and Alexandria. To get to Memorial Bridge from the Northbound Parkway, motorists must (no-merge-area) merge onto Route 27 for about 100 yards before the Arlington Cemetery circle. (1) Route 27 traffic is fast and heavy, (2) many oncoming cars are slowing to merge RIGHT to 50W and Key Bridge, (3) it’s tougher to judge speed in the dark (winter problem only). This causes a huge backup which spills out onto the parkway. Sometimes a car gets through only every 30 seconds or so. Very lame. I imagine the Route 27 traffic is coming from the Pentagon, but that’s just conjecture.

Hardcore alternative uptown route: Exit for Mem Bridge but blow by everybody in the right lane. Go through Rosslyn, cross into town via Roosevelt Bridge, exit onto the E St Expressway and pick up Rock Creek Parkway at VA Ave. Saves about 5-7 minutes.


Park Driving Redux
Ted Gest 76710,

I accept the explanations from all of you about why Rock Creek Park rush-hour traffic is heavier. But no one has addressed the point about the non-solution: Further restricting park traffic will just clog the main arteries further, right? Since my original post, I received a notice that the Chevy Chase Citizens Association is having a public meeting with the Assistant Superintendent of the park to discuss this issue at 7:30 p.m. Tues., Nov. 19, at the Chevy Chase Community Center, Connecticut and McKinley.

And regarding a post by Carl Bergman on D.C. license plates, he’s correct about the general situation, but off on the numbers. I believe the current series of plates started around number 920000, went to 999000, started again at zero and now is about 850000. So we have a way to go before running out of numbers. Whether D.C. has figured out the next step may be another matter.


Computer Lab at Retirement House
Phil Shapiro

For the past few months I’ve been helping a retirement house in northeast DC that is serving as a host for a computer lab that children in the neighborhood can use after school. Residents of the retirement house get to spend time with the kids and the computers. It’s real lovely watching the intergenerational thing happen. The project currently has Apple II, Macintosh, and Windows computers set up. (A total of about 17 computers.) The residents of the retirement house have been getting a big kick making greetings cards and sneaking in some extra time to play arcade games on the computers.

The room where the computers are housed has a separate phone line, so the next step is getting this project onto the net. This project could sure use one or more volunteers to help show the kids (and seniors) a thing or two about the net. Location: Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G St. NE., Washington DC 20002.

The volunteer director of this project is Corliss Grimes, Institute for Academics - After School Tutorial Program. The project is a 501(c)3, and could also use donations of hardware, software, and blank (or used) floppy disks (both 5.25 and 3.5).


LeAnna Marr

"Jeff Porten wrote about whether it makes sense for him, without children, to vote school board candidates."

If you pay taxes in this city, decisions made by the school board affect you even if you don’t have children. The potential of thousands of DC residents is wasted due to undereducation and illiteracy — due in no small part to the crumbling of our school system. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, the dropout rate in the D.C. Public Schools approaches fifty percent. According to the 1993 National Adult Literacy Survey published by the U.S. Dept. of Education, 140,000 adults in the District of Columbia are functionally illiterate. Without a decent education, thousands of DC residents are unable to access opportunities for upward mobility and many of them end up overwhelming our social service programs or filling the DC correctional institution. For this, we all pay!


John Whiteside

The state of DC schools matters whether you have children or not. The quality of schools in DC affects the value of your home. The ability of DC schools to educate children helps determine whether DC kids grow up to be educated citizens capable of playing a role in their city government, with skills to get good jobs — or become unable to support themselves or contribute to society. The success of DC schools helps determine what kind of labor market we have here, and whether businesses want to locate here. I don’t have children either, but I certainly want to see our schools do their job well.

Besides, you’re paying for the schools whether you send kids to them or not.


DR Weinsheimer

Re to Larry Seftor’s post on his alarm system being hooked into the police non-emergency number and his concern about the company not being able to get through. Having been a DC cop for 15 years and answering God knows how many burglar alarms, this is a subject that gets me mad enough to respond. Studies have been done that show that over 98% of alarms are FALSE. The millions of dollars that are wasted answering these alarms over and over again is outrageous. And the alarm companies have a good scam going also. They merely contact the PD and go back to sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get the companies to respond and correct the problem. Why should they? They know the cops will respond no matter how many times it goes off. These aren’t just the fly by night companies either. Every one of the Big Boys has been involved in this problem. What a wonderful scam. They collect a fat monthly fee while the police do all the work. Don’t forget, every minute spent on yet another false alarm is time spent away from protecting DC’s citizens. Some people counter with "what about the 1% that could be real?" That may be true, but what about vast majority not being able to afford an alarm? Is it fair to them? If a person continually called the police, inventing reasons to get them to respond, he/she would probably be arrested. So what’s the difference? If alarm companies were heavily fined and/or the police would not respond after a certain number of false calls per month (and a low # at that), this problem would be resolved because the responsibility would be placed squarely where it belongs. I don’t exaggerate when I say that part of the reason response time is lower is because one alarm will automatically take 2 one man cars out of service for at least ½ hour. Makes you think doesn’t it? Especially since (surprise) most of the alarms are in the 2nd District Do you know where your friendly scout car officer is?


Ed T. Barron

Some have complained about the police using Whiteout for their reports. My suggestion is to provide each police officer with a Piltdown. This is a low tech version of the Apple Newton. It uses a black slate (the CPU) with a piece of white chalk (for data entry) tied to a string and a rag (to delete). The modem consists of a baggie with two quarters (for a phone call).


National Zoo
Margie Gibson NZPEM053@SIVM.SI.EDU

20 November 1996 7:30 p.m. Education Building Enter at Connecticut Ave. and park in Lot A. Free, but please RSVP (acceptances only) by calling (202) 673-4801 or e-mailing to

In commemoration of American Indian Heritage Month, Susan Secakuku presents Animals, Our Family: Hopis and the Animal World. Ms Secakuku, a Hopi from Second Mesa, Arizona, is an assistant at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Animal imagery suffuses Hopi life: Clans are identified with the various animals native to the Southwest. At the culmination of a seven-day prayer for rain, priests and members of the Snake Clan handle rattlesnakes as part of the snake dance. Many kachinas (deified ancestral spirits) represent animals. Ms Secakuku will explore the wide range of animals that play an important role in Hopi culture.


Karen Hardwick KMH@DC3.HHLAW.COM

The Town and Gown program will take place on November 13, 1996 at 6 p.m. at the DC Bar conference center, which is around the corner at 1250 H Street, NW. The speakers will be the Honorable Kathy Patterson, D.C. Council (Ward 3); Stephen Trachtenberg, president of George Washington University; Jerry Moore, Esq. of Arter and Hadden, counsel for Howard University; and Maureen Dwyer, Esq. of Wilkes Artis, counsel for Georgetown and American Universities.

In addition, we have invited all the ANC representatives to attend and discuss the issues that affect their communities. We anticipate a lively discussion that will address, among other things, whether local universities should may payments to the District in lieu of taxes, whether local universities can play a more active role in providing educational opportunities for District residents, and whether the universities and ANC’s can find more constructive ways to address controversial issues.

If you would like to register, please call the DC Bar Sections office at 626-3463 or send me an e-mail.


Fabulous Trip to Venice for Carnevale, Feb. 6-17,1997
Patti Absher

Join our small party for mardi gras, Italian style escorted by lively, literate (English & Italian) NW resident. Five days of free concerts, costume parties in St. Mark’s Square, special tours of Venice museums, gondola serenade through the canals and festive, gourmet dining. Plus, two days in Florence without the heat & crowds of summer and three days in Rome where we’ll follow Tosca’s footsteps and do a cupid’s tour of the city’s ancient wine bars. Email or call for fun brochure & itinerary. Phone/202 237-5220.


John Whiteside

Can anyone recommend a good cat sitter (who could come to Kalorama) or place to board a cat for a few days? I hate to leave the cat alone with dishes of food and water for four days.


White Table and 4 Chairs for sale: Table is 42" square, with rounded corners and tube legs ($50). Chairs have white vinyl padded seats and back, white metal frame ($25 each, $90 for all four). Excellent condition. Suitable for casual dining room or kitchen. Please call Wanda at 202.966.1799.


Rag rug for sale—9’ X 12’, mulitcolored, $50. Original cost $150 from Conran’s .Rug was never used. Please call Wanda at 202.966.1799.


House History
Paul K. Williams

Can you answer when people ask you about your house history? When it was built, who built it, who lived there, and what they did? Ever wondered when that rear addition was added or your fence repaired? Find out! A professional house history narritive, complete with copies of your building permit, first deed, maps, and sometimes even historic photographs. A terrific and unusual gift.

Selling your home? Have potential buyers fall in love with the history, and you have your sale. Our prices range from $350 to $600 for the average DC townhouse. Call or contact us with your address for a free estimate. Many happy DC:Story Customers Served! Kelsey & Associates 202-462-6251.


Home PC Computer Assistance and Small Business Applications
Jeffrey Itell

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.


For fast, reliable Internet services and cutting edge Websites contact Michael Mann at Internet Interstate Web:


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