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November 20, 1996


Dear Neighbors:

The Control Board has launched it’s web site. Find it at { ] The complete report school system report is posted along with other Control Board activities and scheduled meetings.


The following news clip crossed my electronic desk the other day. I have no doubt that a similar system will soon be in place in the District. But will the city make it work?


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been working to revitalize East St. Louis, Missouri, developing hard evidence with which to confront slow-moving city inspectors — 800 specific sites of serious code violations (illegally dumped trash, derelict buildings, dense overgrowth) that students surveyed and entered on the university’s computerized Geographic Information System. The project’s Web site   is being used to gather data, maps and analysis for neighborhood improvement and to force city cooperation. Computers, including surplus university equipment, are being installed at multiple sites, with training available.


On Sunday, November 17, 1996; The Washington Post editorialismos made the following points.

"In sweeping aside the current governing structure, the control board concluded that the D.C schools crisis had reached such proportions that nothing short of intervention and a radical overhaul of the system was warranted. No dispassionate observer of the disastrous District schools can argue with that assessment."

"The growing list of failures — both managerial and academic — and the inability of the school’s leadership to come close to correcting them, left the control board with little choice but to take strong action."

"In the most far-reaching arrangement of the new structure, the CEO will report to an nine-member board of trustees (dominated by control board appointees) which in turn is accountable to only the control board. That arrangement relegates the elected school board to the role of advisers to the board of trustees, where real power resides."

"Reasonable people who applaud the control board’s intervention can still feel uneasy with a school governance structure that eliminates all accountability to District residents, which surely is the result when an appointed body of trustees reports only to a congressionally created institution. "

"But the control board has not explained why the responsibilities given to the trustee board could not be, if not wholly entrusted to, at least shared with the newly constituted and much improved school board. It should explain."

"But the case for nullifying the results of the recent school board elections through the insertion of the board’s chosen leaders has not been satisfactorily explained. The financial control board owes residents that much."


The editorialismos certainly apply fuzzy logic in this tortured story. The accountable School Board was the source of the school problem. Just because a few new members were elected doesn’t change that fact. Elections are held every two years. Do you give each new board two years to right the wrongs of its predecessors? If so, when does the Control Board jump in?

And if you want the Control Board to succeed, why handicap the new school administrators by making them work with the culprits that caused the mess. If the School Board retained authority over the schools, who do you think the Control Board would have been able to recruit for the superintendent’s job? Franklin Smith’s stupider brother?

The Post is dead wrong about the Board nullifying the results of the recent elections. The board nullified the election months before when it sought—and received—authority from Congress (with Norton’s help) to shove the school board out of the way.

Regarding the accountability question, the Post writers ought to know that the Control Board is accountable to its legislative mission, which means that it’s accountable to CONGRESS for fixing the city. (Yes, residents will benefit too, but Congress was primarily concerned with being stuck with huge debts run up by city officials.)

The Control Board’s action wasn’t a blow to home rule. Despite Norton’s protestations, most of limited home rule was given away during the Barry/Kelly/Barry years. If the Control Board succeeds (which is very if-able), Districtizens will be able to reclaim some aspects of its lost home rule, if they don’t get sold off to Maryland first.


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

Jeffrey Itell


sam smith

Those enthusing over the arrival of General Becton should ask themselves two questions: What do you know about General Becton? Where did you find it out?

If the answer to the latter is the Washington Post then you may not know the following:

— General Becton was head of FEMA when word leaked of that agency’s $1.5 billion plan to provide 2200 fallout shelters for state and local officials. The general public was to rely on low-cost radiation detectors, informational materials and "self-help." The plan was laughed out of existence.

— General Becton testified in favor of the nomination of Clarence Thomas, indicating that he shared Thomas’ views concerning affirmative action etc.

— General Becton intends to straighten out the DC school system from a residence in Springfield, VA.

While most DC residents wish to see DC schools improve the notion that this is best accomplished by turning the problem over to a Ford lobbyist, a rightwing general, and a rate adjuster for Wall Street seems a little wacky.


Schools and Democracy
John Whiteside

John Capozzi writes "Everywhere else in the World the right to vote is held up very high. Evaluation of the performance of those elected leaders is subject to debate and discussion. Then after people decide they are unhappy they vote again."

It’s interesting to see how this works in cities with more traditional local government. When I lived in Boston, that city’s voters elimated the elected school board (through a ballot initiative) and replaced it with one appointed by the mayor. This year, Bostonians voted to maintain that system by defeating a referendum measure intended to return the elected school board.

Why? It’s pretty simple: the elected school board didn’t work. It was a stepping stone in the careers of local politicians whose aim was to move on to the city council or state legislature. And so education took a back seat to politics, and voters got sick of it.

Voting for the school board is probably more important to DC voters because there’s little else we get to choose ourselves. But ultimately, people want to see a school system that works more than one that they choose themselves.

With Barry in office, I’m in no hurry to see a school board appointed by the mayor, but I wonder what a good city council that hired a city manager and appointed people to run the schools, police, etc. could accomplish. DC run by the control board forever is not an appealing prospect, but DC cleaned up by the control board and then turned over to an effective government accountable to DC voters is another story. The question is, how do we get a city council that works better than the current one?

Sprague Simonds, who ran against Norton this year, mentioned the idea of eliminating the office of mayor and letting the city council hire a professional city manager. I was surprised this idea didn’t get more discussion. What do dc.story readers think about it?


barbara green

In this city of lawyers I’m surprise no one has suggested that we-the-people sue the former School Board. If they really didn’t know what was going on, they were derelict in their duties. And if they knew and did nothing about it, isn’t that malfeasance?


Making Things Happen in D.C. by Bootstrapping
Ed T. Barron

Now that the Control Board has stepped up on the issue of Public Education it is timely for the citizenry of D.C. to stand up and be counted.

In each of the communities of the city there are ANCs. These are comprised (I hope) of community members and leaders who care about what is happening in their small piece of the city. Using these ANCs as a launching point, small teams can be formed to address one issue that is of major concern to that community (eg Public Safety). Each team will develop a set of specific goals for that team and then do some analysis of the existing Public Safety activities and problems in their own area. Each team can develop a series of recommendations on how to solve the major problems and then present these recommendations to the Control Board. Other team members on this Public Safety Team would include a representative from: the Police Force; and Fire Department (and Emergency Services?) in addition to those who volunteer from the community. Within about eight to ten weeks a team can come up with their initial recommendations. Implementation of these recommendations, after Control Board endorsement can carried out by the Control Board since they have the budget.

By using this Bootstrapping process across the District we will be able to develop the involvement of those who really want to make this city well again. The same process can be used to address Public Education with each community team reporting their recommendations to a centralized volunteer team that replaces the School Superintendent and the School Board. There’s no doubt in my mind that Congress would respond very positively to these initiatives and come up with the funds necessary to implement viable recommendations by the Community Teams and the Control Board. If this sounds too progressive to some of the ANCs then let’s start with a Pilot Program involving a couple of those ANCs who think this just might work. Let’s get the Control Board moving. We can’t wait two more years.


Tamara Kreinen

Jeff Birnbaum, Time; Howard Fineman, Newsweek; Marty Schram, CNN will discuss Campaign ‘96 results, their take on the elections and what the results mean for the future...they will also discuss this from the perspective of the Jewish Community and through the eyes of Jewish journalists.…

Thursday, November 21, 1996, reception at 6:30, program at 7pm 1800 M Street, N.W. (north enterance), 10th floor conference room. Sponsored by the DCJewish Community Center National Institute for Public Leadership $12 JCC members, $15 non-members RSVP to (202) 775-1765.


The Big Deal
Barbara Somson

Been wondering what you might do to help kids at a D.C. public school? Simply shop at Politics and Prose Bookstore this Friday, Saturday or Sunday and tell the cashier you’re a Deal Jr. High School supporter. 20% of the bookstore sales will be donated to Deal to improve the library and upgrade technology.

Deal JHS, located on Nebraska Avenue at Davenport Street, is home to nearly 1000 kids from around the city and a hard-working and dedicated faculty and staff. Politics & Prose, located on Connecticut Ave. just south of Nebraska, has a great selection of books, as well as holiday cards and gift wrap. And if you’re a former Deal student or parent, join us at P&P Saturday night from 7 to 10 p.m. for an informal reunion and 65th anniversary celebration. Wine and cheese, coffee and cookies, and live music.


Guide to Cleveland Park Merchants
Judy Hubbard Saul

The Cleveland Park Historical Society (CPHS) has just published it first ever "Guide to Cleveland Park Merchants," Fall 1996. The guide lists merchants on Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues, their addresses, phone numbers, hours, and a description of their services and/or products. A map of each avenue is included for those who are visually oriented. This handy guide is lightweight, inexpensive, and especially useful now that for some silly reason the local phone company has decided to incorporate the business (white) section into the humongous classified (yellow) section. The guide is free to members of CPHS. The guide can also be purchased for $2 ($1+$1 for postage & handling). Call the CPHS office at 363-6358 or send checks made out to the Cleveland Park Historical Society, to CPHS, P. O. Box 4862, Washington, DC 20008.


Zoo Lecture

Margie Gibson NZPEM053@SIVM.SI.EDU

The Age of Exploration lives! Learn not only about the discoveries of new species, but about a completely new life form in this stimulating discussion.

J. Craig Venter, president and director of The Institute for Genomic Research, will talk about an unusual deep-sea microbe that may revolutionize thinking about the origins of life; Richard Thorington, curator of mammals at the National Museum of Natural History, will describe some recently-discovered mammals; and Michael Robinson, director of the National Zoo, will discuss new findings in the invertebrate world and what these discoveries mean for biological inquiry.

Wednesday, 4 December 1996 7:00 p.m. Education Building Auditorium National Zoo Enter at Connecticut Ave. and park in Lot A. Free, but please RSVP by calling (202) 673-4801 or sending e-mail to

Office of Public Affairs, National Zoo Washington, D.C. 20008 (202) 673-4866, FAX (202) 673-4607


Video Producer available to create promotional business videos, and video biographies (oral histories). Will also shoot events. Reasonable rates. Call Video History Services at (202) 363-8433.


Health insurance for the self-employed
Kris Herbst

I would appreciate any advice on how to get health insurance, as a self-employed person, at minimal cost.


Stereo Systems
Carol Newman

Does anyone have advice on purchasing speakers and a receiver. I need to replace mine and am unsure which ones do the best with classical music. I heard some B &W speakers at Audio Associates for about 1000 which sounded good until I heard the B & W’s for $2000 which sounded even better but 2000 is a lot. I believe they were recommending Harmon Kardon or Marantz receivers for I think about $400 to go with the B & W speakers. So if anyone has some ideas on speakers, receivers or stores to purchase same can you let me know?


Apartments for Rent

Logan N. 2 Units1/2 block to U metro, Fire places, Lots o light: #1 1bdrm very large $625+util #2 Large 2 bdrm back yard $900+util (301) 587-1601.


Car for Sale
Carrie Staff

1985 Honda Accord LX 4-door, 5-speed, grey, clean, 116K, $1900. Call Joanne at 301-907-8548.


Steven J. Hoffman

I’m looking for a typist/word processor to help on a paper I’m writing … preferably someone working with Word for Windows 95 since that’s what I’ve got … This would be probably a few hours a week spread out over the next few months, working out of your home or office … This is a not-for-profit project so I’m looking for a typist who’s affordable … If interested please reply @ 301/270-8520


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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