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November 13, 1996


Dear Neighbors:

The question du jour appears to be whether the control board has the authority to eviscerate the power of the School Board. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton sees the control board’s impending action as an assault on home rule. Fine. Yet the control board asked for and received additional powers from Congress to deal with the schools and other issues. Congress granted these powers when it passed the District’s budget this year in a continuing resolution. Norton did not speak out against those provisions then. I believe, in fact, she helped shepherd them through.

So why is she bitching and moaning now? Because the control board’s plans exceed the power granted to them by Congress. The control board got what it wanted. Why would it grab more power than it needs? Because of the outrage of thousands of citizens across the city about the abridgement of democracy. Again, I don’t think so. No one has gone to the barricades. We’ve got almost 900 folks on this list and nobody’s raised a peep about the issue. The fact is that most Districtizens support the control board’s actions regarding the least for now.

So I’m still puzzled by Norton’s outrage. She’s upset about an action she supported and, in fact, urged. I think the cause of her reaction transcends politics. Lawyers, activists, me understand Norton’s beef. I want to feel her pain.


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Jeffrey Itell


Out Bound Barry
Carl Bergman

I have no problem with hiz honner going to another country and taking some of his buddies along. Its when he insists on coming back that gets me.


Art Spitzer

Jeff Itell notes: "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...."

Gosh, it seems to me this ought to be public information. If the money is being given to the Mayor as a personal gift (which I doubt), he is required to report it on his financial disclosure report (see DC Code section 1-1462(a)(5)). If (more likely) it is a gift to the government, then the record of it is a public record, available under the Freedom of Information Act (see DC Code section 1-1526, which defines public information to include "information in or taken from any account, voucher, or contract dealing with the receipt or expenditure of public funds by public bodies") .So why don’t you do us a public service and file a FOIA request, Jeff? Send it to CFO Williams, perhaps he’d be happy to respond.

[I’m on the case, Chief. jeff]


School Board

For what it’s worth, I met General Becton several times in my several careers, e.g., when he was 3rd Corps Commander in Germany, and when he was Director at FEMA. He is a solid man. If he has any specific and continuous theme in his speeches and writings and beliefs, it is that the most fundamental dimension of leadership is its moral dimension. I can’t think of a better person, with a better frame of reference and beliefs, than General Becton to remedy the hideous situation in the DC public school system. I hope that the Control Board follows through. Then, watch out - I can’t imagine Julius Becton complaining about all the supposedly impossible bureaucratic obstacles the way Frankie has - Becton will do something about them.


DC Term Limits
Art Spitzer

Larry Seftor asks: "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?"

Larry, you probably voted for this, as did most DC voters, who enacted term limits for DC offices by initiative in 1994. No one may serve more than 2 *consecutive* terms in the same office, but terms served prior to 1995 don’t count. If you want the details, they can be found in DC Code section 1-1312(b).


DC Electoral Vote
E. James Lieberman, M.D.

I haven’t seen a tally of minor candidates in the local election. How did Nader do?

[And the results are....]

Bill Clinton 152,031 (85.5%) Bob Dole 16,637 (9.4%) Ralph Nader 4,592 (2.6%) Ross Perot 3,479 (2.0%) Harry Browne 565 (0.3%) John Hagelin 270 (0.2%) James Harris 249 (0.1%) Ed Barron ?


Special Treatment?
Paul "get to know your burglar" Williams

Reading the recent story in the Post about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s loot being recovered after a mugging made me a wee bit miffed. The report said that her government ID was kept for forensics to evaluate. How many of you have been mugged in DC, or had friends that have been? Did the Police find the stolen goods, much less perform forensics on them to determine the perp?!

I have been broken into 3 times, with 10 attempts during the past year, and despite a pint of blood left behind by my intruder, (with a trail to his room in an abandoned house) when I asked if they needed to test the blood, I was told by the Police "You’re not OJ; DC doesn’t have the money for DNA tests"

Bader lost $40 bucks, and probably her Channel handbag for a few hours, and got forensics?! I lost $16,000 worth over the past year, know who did it, and got nothing! Talk about Supreme justice!


Regional Job Growth
John Whiteside jmw@USORDER.COM

Jeffrey Itell writes: "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."

Do you really think that those Virginia and Maryland employment statistics have much to do with the federal government? Northern Virginia is a high tech hotbed much like Silicon Valley and Route 128 in Massachusetts once were. Employers in Virginia have a hard time keeping good people because jobs are so plentiful, and skilled professionals are in short supply. Most of those jobs have little to do with the federal government; I think you’re seeing Virginia (and perhaps Maryland) becoming increasingly independent of federal employment. The question for DC is how to become part of that regional growth, rather than the exception to it.

How do you convince employers to locate in the District, rather than in Fairfax County? Part of it has got to be making the District a more appealing place to live, which comes down to basic services like schools and public works, which is why we’re seeing Washington turn into the depressed urban core at the center of suburban growth and affluence.

Ideas like commuter taxes and the ballot question that unfortunately passed are likely to accelerate this trend.


Security Systems
Larry Seftor

I’m sure that DR Weinsheimer has a valid concern about security system false alarms. And I would be quite willing to shoulder any extra burden from my alarm by paying a fine for any false alarms. But I think there is another side to the story.

Properly working alarm systems act as eyes and ears. My system allows me to have a degree of protection that would otherwise requires heavy patrolling of my street by DR Weinsheimer and other D.C. officers.

The fact of the matter is that in 1990 when I moved into my house I saw periodic patrols in my neighborhood — something Jim Nathanson used to call preventive visibility. Now, I virtually never see a police car on my street. So essentially I, and other alarm system owners, provide eyes and ears for ourselves since the police are busy elsewhere.

Finally, DR Weinsheimer, if you think I’m taking advantage of the D.C. Police, contact me. I’ll be glad to show you my monthly invoice for alarm service including maintenance costs. You’d be surprised how much some people feel they have to pay themselves because they do not feel safe under the protection of the D.C. Police.


Gordon Glaza

I just heard on the radio that Metro will finally be changing the recording used to herd passengers away from the closing doors on Metrorail cars. Anyone who rides Metro has heard this annoying recording at least umpteen zillion times. It is a uniquely Washington relic.

As you stand crunched with your fellow Metro riders, a voice from the AT&T school of warm and fuzzy blurts from the speaker near your ear: "Please stand clear of the doors THANK YOU." The words are hurled as if this were the sixty-third time in the last five minutes you were asked to do so. The pent-up annoyance in this three- second ditty seems to sum up everything wrong with the city. The words THANK YOU are delivered like daggers.

I look forward to a new message, speaking of a better city.


Phil Greene

Another question on the traffic patterns of Rock Creek Parkway: why is it in the mornings, on southbound Rock Creek Parkway, that they close down two of the four lanes of the section on either side of Mass. Avenue, channeling all the traffic onto the lower stretch of road, but then re-open all four lanes once you get past the Buffalo (Q Street) Bridge. There’s such a bottleneck as four lanes condense to two, but I can’t understand why they do it. It’s just empty road. There must be a reason.


Ed T. Barron ( a non-incumbent Shadow Representative)

Just one more indication that the city’s processes are turning to glue. I called the Police Dept. and asked if I could get a copy of a police report on a Spring Valley neighborhood incident. I was told that I could get a copy and that one was on file at 300 Indiana Ave. (Judiciary Sq.). I went down there early this morning and was told (laughingly) that the 500 series reports were not in yet. They were still in the "review cycle" and that they may not be down until next month. The incident, by the way, took place before mid-Sept. I can just picture four or five "reviewers" poring one page police reports. What value does a reviewer add to a police report. Folks who have to file insurance claims routinely require police reports. Does this mean they must wait three months to get one? Another sad tale. I’ve heard similar horror stories about getting a building permit.


Klaatu’s Corner

Regarding General Becton’s possible appointment to DCPS Superintendent’s post: " who thinks a fascist coup is underway?"

I wouldn’t call it a fascist coup, but clearly the problems with the DCPS simply aren’t going away on their own. We’ve seen massive foot dragging all throughout this last year, on the schools-issues as well as others, and since the DCPS are a war zone, why not bring in someone with not only military discipline but extreme administrative excellence?

Could he possibly make things _worse¯ than they are?


re: Voting Rights

Michael Bindner wrote that he wrote 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, as a matter similar to the voting rights of other Federal Enclaves and Reservations.

He also notes that this issue, while separate from all considerations of retrocession or home-rule, is probably a necessary prerequisite to either Statehood or retrocession, and also proposes a commission or board motif to administer the actual Federal enclaves.

I’ve been pushing this myself in assorted newsgroups and a bad political SF novel or two, for years. Personally, I favor retrocession, on the Baltimore City-Baltimore County-State of Maryland tier structure.

One thing is for sure, the district Denizens need to have someone to vote for other than city-council members and a mayoral position.

It’s patently unfair to leave District Denizens the option of bitching about lack of representation as an excuse to foot drag and stonewall.


On the issue of regional road authority, Jeff Itell notes that "Someday down the line the Metro area is going to wind up with a Regional Transportation Authority."

I’ve got to concur. The old saying "all politics is local" is fast disappearing, or maybe it would be better to note that the concept of local is being reinvented. Local is not DC, nor Rockville nor Hyattsville, local is everything to the north and east of the Potomac River, and to a lesser degree, to the west of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia. Regional in this area is becoming ever-more intertwined with Federal spending on cross-Potomac bridges, tunnels and public-transit.

Since for now (until the Feds wisely accelerate the ongoing process of Enclave Dispersal for admin functions while consolidating the Marble Zone as an almost-purely-formal/ritual/memorial national icon) the vast majority of the District’s commuters live in the suburbs and commute downtown, annoying the government workers by making it impossible for them to get to work is going to go over as well as trying the kill the 50-ton Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs (which when enraged looks suspiciously like a tyrannosaur). You just can’t let the place turn into a war zone populated with squeegee-pests and illiterate high school-grad gangsters, pockmarked by potholes and expect gratitude from the commuters who are deciding to flee the Outer District and move even further away, taking more of their tax money with them as they go, and acquiring a vote to oversee the District that so badly failed them.

But this is exactly what has happened, and the Mayor they abandoned is getting his revenge by saying that he’s going to make it holy hell to get to work? Heh, if you thought the Control Boards was being a bunch of big meanies before, you ain’t seen nothing to compare to what’s going to happen if we get another combined Federal shutdown combined with terrible weather and the inevitable illumination of BarryCronies assorted peccadilloes.

If I was the mayor, I’d worry about keeping the government in town, he’s already managed to run of most of the high-dollar taxpayers. I mean, the winter commute is already hell, and he wants to let hell freeze over, unplowed?

Maybe we’ll see just how good HumVees are in urban-winter situations after all.


Bill Haskett

UDC’s alternatives are few and not convincing. If it is closed down in its present form, and some substitute funding is proposed---such as vouchers to send its students to other area universities, which is an old favorite which pre-dates the founding of the predecessor institutions, there are the obvious problems of dealing with the genuine educational deficits of the graduates of the public schools as presently constituted---an average reading level at graduation which approximates that of the 9th. Grade---and is sometimes worse---and a mathematical knowledge which places very high percentages of those graduating in remedial courses at the university. does anyone seriously think that the private universities would be willing---or, if they did, that they could do better with less, alongside their own present student-body---or that, if they chose not to, that the problem of advanced training or education for the students of dc would simply go away?

I offer the following, without detail, but merely as a suggestion of what might be thought of as solutions.

a new public school system running from K1-14, extended to take in an actual junior college as part of public school provision.....but presumably differently supervised and run.…

a new, rather smaller university to cover the last two years of the present four-year institution...with an expansion of scholarship grants to permit more students to become full-time students (as against the present situation, when weak students are required to make up deficiencies in preparation while working to pay for even the low-cost fees currently in place.…

with adequate controls to ensure quality---perhaps with the help of a multi-university consortium to offer assistance and advice---something might be made of a currently-miserable set of depressing alternatives.


Harold Goldstein

>From UDC students need to pass 2 college math courses. From DCPS it is my understanding that they are required to pass the same math courses as most of the counties (and local jurisdictions) require. But the problem is that students are passed from one grade to the next without any real attempt to ascertain that they have absorbed the required material! Once they’ve gotten to high school it has become, essentially, too late for most, even if they decide to shape up since they are so far behind.

that is why i feel that it is absolutely 100% essential that we institute a system of passing students from one grade to the next. No matter what administrative changes we see, no matter who is ‘upstairs’, nothing will effect the product of the DCPS until we do this.

To throw some shocking statistics out … 2/3rd of our entering students at UDC need remedial math. ½ of those need to start with VERY BASIC ARITHMETIC!! Of that 2/3rd needing remedial math, on the order of 1/3rd ever get to take a college math course because they never pass the remedial math courses!!!

To state that differently, about ½ of the graduates of the DCPS that we see at UDC are unable to master remedial courses that are actually below high school level in content!


In Search of Dick and Jane
Julie Newman

I’m sure everyone remembers how hard it was to research your senior thesis. It’s hard, and I need help! I am looking for old children’s readers. If you have any old "Dick and Jane" or "Alice and Jerry" books, or if you know where I can get my hands on them, please get in touch with me.


David Barrett

FOGGY BOTTOM efficiency available Dec. 1st. Two blocks from Georgetown, GWU, Metro, and a supermarket. Quiet and secure building with W/D, storage, fitness room, and roof deck. 620/month. 1010 25th Street(25th and Pennsylvania) #407. David 625-6264......tell a friend.....tell anybody.


Joseph R. Wagner, MD

I am a 34 year old mediocre basketball player with former Div III JV experience. Any leagues or weekly gym slots out there? Let me know.


Free Rabbit
Ralph Blessing

Male, neutered rabbit, mostly white and about one year old turned out to be more of a responsibility than my nine-year old son bargained for. Free to a good and loving home. E-mail or call at 202/726-0587.


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.

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