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November 30, 1996

Contest with Deadline!

Dear Neighbors:

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday.



I own a pair of tickets to "Three Nights in Tehren," a comedy about Oliver North’s 1986 trip to Tehren to secure the release the four Beirut hostages. Remember the birthday cake with the key, the Ronald Reagan-incribed Bible, and the pearl-handled hand guns. The performance is 8:00 p.m., Wednesday night, at the Signature Theatre in Arlington. Here’s how you win the tickets.

Send me an email with the word "Ollie" in the subject line. In the body of the message, enclose email addresses of friends, enemies, acquaintances, coworkers, and family who would like to be added to dc.story’s mailing list. The person submitting the most email addresses wins. In the event of a tie, the earliest postmarked entry will win. Also, enclose your telephone numbers so I can contact you. All entries must be sent by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 3 December 96. I will notify the winner early that evening to give you time to arrange for a babysitter.


District News Brief

Though it’s been a quiet week for dc.story, it’s been a busy week for the District. Tilden LeMelle is out as UDC Presdident. Dave Clarke picked a new city auditor whose main qualifications are that he was the subject of numerous scathing audits while running the Lottery Board. It looks like Booze-Allen will perform a top to bottom scrub of the Metropolitan Police Department at the behest of the Control Board. Police Chief Larry Soulsby looks like he’s on his way out, as does Inspector General Angela Avant. This year’s city budget is still severely out of whack..and it’s great sport watching the politicians whack each other over how to shave $85 million. Look for a large chunk to come out of schools and welfare. On the crime front, city crime is reportedly down but violent crime is reportedly up. Barry has implemented a community policing program for the umpteenth time. The program is dead on arrival. Look for the Control Board to take the lead here.

The School Board’s lawsuit against the Control Board continues, with ACLU, the NAACP and the Appleseed Foundation joining the plaintiffs. A few parent-lawyers (and aren’t we all) who’ve looked at the legal issues believe that the School Board could prevail. However, the general feeling is that even if they do, the Control Board will trundle up to Congress to get overriding legislation.


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

Jeffrey Itell


The Becton Affair
sam smith

AM I to understand that providing fallout shelters for politicians and letting the public fend for itself was standard conservative Cold War policy? That seems to be Tom Matthes’ interesting defense of General Becton’s FEMA years.

Matthes also argues that Becton was chosen because of his exemplary record at Prairie View. Once again, please note that everything most people known about Becton in this town consists of what the Washington Post has told them — the wonderful folks who gave you Sharon Pratt Kelly. Although the Post to this day will not admit it, Kelly did more to screw up the city’s finances in her one term than Barry had in all his preceding years. In the case of Becton, I think there is more than a hint that once again the Post has hyped one of its own.

As for his view’s on Thomas not being relevant — it goes to the core of the matter that no one seems to talk about. The changes in DC were designed, voted and are now being implemented by a bunch of rightwing Republicans who couldn’t beat the Socialist Workers Party in this town if they actually had to run for election.


Kent Jeffreys

Tom Matthes writes of ad hominem arguments as a textbook fallacy. While this is true in logic, what’s that got to do with winning a political dispute? In fact, that’s about the only kind of argument engaged in these days. In the specific example covered, if informing the public that Gen. Becton is "right-wing" and a fan of Justice Thomas is an accurate assessment, then it seems at least potentially pertinent. Right-wing can be a descriptive term, as well as invective.

And since "logic" cannot resolve the debate over affirmative action, emotional appeals seem as valid as any other kind. So how should we debate this issue?

BTW, Justice C. Thomas is the *ultimate* example of an affirmative action baby. At least we know conservatives are willing to overlook the illogical nature of affirmative action when it suits their purposes.


School System Reform
Ed T. Barron

Since my proposal to eliminate the Teachers’ Union from the school system is not likely to fly, I have an alternative proposal. The volunteer school oversight team should establish an independent teacher evaluation panel staffed by qualified teachers who can accurately evaluate teachers. Pick these evaluators from outside the District to assure there is no hanky panky (conflict of interest) in providing independent evaluations. Develop a comprehensive evaluation plan asure all teachers are fairly evaluated on their classroom skills. Use these evaluations to determine who should remain in the classrooms to conduct the educational programs for our students and who should be rapidly phased out of the classrooms.


Newt and the City
David Black

Newt and Co. are paralyzed in fixing the city by the same reason as Clinton: Hizzoner. If they were to do the best thing for the District, namely make Barry and his cronies walk the plank off the roof of the District Building, how long do you think it would take for people to play the race card? Ooooo, nasty white overseer, stepping on the neck of the black man’s home rule. And where would Bill be? Standing on the sidelines chuckling (especially before the election).

The sooner the control board does to Barry and the City Council what it did to the school board, the happier I’ll be.


Evan Roth The usual disclaimer about me and my employer

Itell said: "We have a city manager, Michael Rogers. He works for the mayor."

Not exactly, Jeff, as I’m sure you are aware, or should be. I think Mr. Rogers is called the city administrator; he is not really a "city manager" as found in many cities.

In a city manager form of government (also called a "weak mayor" government), the city manager is hired and fired by the city council — not the mayor. A city manager is akin to a school superintendent; he or she’s supposed to be a trained professional who is somewhat removed from politics (although this is not always, or even usually, the case in real life).

The mayor in a city manager government is usually the chairman of the city council and has few executive duties (thus the so-called weak mayor).

Whether a city manager government is really better than a strong mayor (as we have in DC) I don’t know. However, proponents shouldn’t view it as a panacea (just look at the DC school district, which is essentially a city manager form of government).

[Mea culpa. Evan is right. I passed this course in grad school. I might not pass it now. Jeff]


Corinne Rothblum

I am a recent subscriber to d.c. story and work for the International City/County Management Association, the professional association for appointed local government administrators. I would like to clarify your response to David Hunter in the 11/24 issue concerning Michael Rodgers title and responsibilities.

Michael Rogers is NOT a city manager, he is a city administrator. This is an important distinction. The District, like most large U.S. cities (with some notable exceptions: Phoenix, AZ, Dallas, TX, San Diego and San Jose, CA, to name a few), operates under the mayor-council form of government. In this system, the mayor is directly elected and serves not only as the community’s political leader but is also responsible for the day-to-day administration of services.

In the council-manager form of government, (which according to ICMA statistics is the form of local government in 59.4% of U.S. cities with populations over 25,000) all power is concentrated in the elected council. A principal elected official, usually the mayor (who is generally chosen by council members from their ranks), assumes a significant leaderhip and coordinating role. The mayor does not, however, have any powers that exceed those of the other elected council members. The council appoints a professional city manager to administer the daily operations of the community. The city manager functions much like a business organization’s CEO, implementing the policies adopted by the elected body and serving at the council’s pleasure (the average tenure of city managers is 5 - 6 years). Department heads answer to the city manager, NOT to the mayor.

I have great respect for Michael Rodgers, but as City Administrator, he lacks the powers of a City Manager in a Council-Manager government, and, importantly, answers to Barry, NOT the city council. My exposure to council-manager government in action (which I confess I had never heard of until I started working at ICMA almost two years ago) has convinced me that it ensures greater professionalism and accountability, and is an option that should be given serious consideration for D.C. by the powers that be.

Our Executive Director Bill Hansell recently appeared on the Derek McGinty show (I believe on 10/29 - I was unfortunately out of town) to discuss council-manager form of government. Staff have also met with members of the D.C. Council and Congressional Committees to explain the merits (and disadvantages) of council manager government. I would be happy to send additional information or to put you or others who are interested in touch with the appropriate staff here at ICMA.


Dianne Rhodes

As reported in the Dec 1996-Jan 1997 Foggy Bottom News: Crime in D.C. is no respecter of persons, exemplified by the bold snatching of the purse of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg. The justice was returning from Kennedy Center to her Watergate home.. when the purse was grabbed… Several days later Mel Maeda, during his usual pocket park cleaning, spied the purse near 26th and Eye. He first called the Metropolitan Police, then the Secret Service, which responded almost momentarily with seven, count them, seven patrol cars. And later on a Supreme Court security officer became involved as well. So I guess the answer is no and yes.


Phil Greene

Does anyone know anything about the man who was shot recently near the intersection of Garrison Street and Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., in Friendship Heights? I saw an item in the Post, but not much detail was given.


John Eaton public school will be holding two holiday fund raising events.

The annual Christmas Tree sale will be on December 7, 8, 14, and 15. The trees are very fresh and you’d be helping out a great cause.

The holiday book sale will be from December 9 through the 13th from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (with extended evening hours on the 11th until 8:00 p.m.) This is also a wonderful chance to do some of your holiday shopping while helping the students. Eaton is located on the corner of 34th and Lowell Streets, NW.


Please Help Children’s Hospital
Marcus Rosenbaum

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. the shops of Foxhall Square, 3301 New Mexico Ave. NW, will donate 10% of their sales to the Board of Lady Visitors of Children’s Hospital. The Ladies Board is a volunteer fundraising group that supports many patient activities at Children’s Hospital. Refreshments will be served.

In addition, between now and Christmas, Tree Top Toys and Books, which is located in Foxhall Square, is offering another opportunity to help out Children’s Hospital. Tree Top has a "wish list" of new books for the Family Library at Children’s Hospital. Customers may purchase the books for 20% off, and the books will go directly to the Family Library. The gift is tax deductible.


Footlights—A Modern Drama Discussion Group

David Sobelsohn

Join us to discuss modern drama! On Wednesday December 18 we will discuss "Arcadia," a sexy, brainy, comic mystery by British playwright Tom Stoppard, author of "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead." We’ll meet at La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe, 7607 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda (less than 3 blocks from the Bethesda Metro), with dinner at 6:30 p.m. & our discussion starting at 7:30. For more info call (202) 484-8303; for tickets call Robin Larkin at (301) 897-9314. Join our list by sending the message "join theatre" to


Office Space Edna Small

Large office suitable for mental health provider, or a writer’s studio, etc. available full or part-time. In building opposite zoo. Call Edna Small at 328-1083.


I am in search of a good Electronic’s store in the District. Over the week-end my husband and I had a terrible experience with "Graffiti" which is located on Wisconsin Avenue. This almost made me break my self-imposed edict that I will only buy from local merchants in the city (where possible) and run to Circuit City. Please correspond privately at


Rose Kemps

Visiting European University professor needs DC accomodations (studio or basement apartment) Dec 13/Jan 13. Extremely neat- non smoker. Local references available. Call Rose Kemps at 202 244 1911.


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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