themail.gif (3487 bytes)

December 8, 1996

Marcus Garvey

Dear Neighbors:

It’s the hot story in the city and so far not a peep on dc.story. What do you think about last week’s incidents at Marcus Garvey Charter School? If you believe the Washington Times story, this would be the third (in part) racially motivated attack on a white journalist by black students/teachers in the past couple of months.

According to the Post’s account, the controversy concerns where Garvey’s "director, Mary A.T. Anigbo, assaulted a Washington Times reporter on Tuesday and confiscated her note pad. Police and prosecutors are investigating that altercation, as well as a scuffle later that day involving school students, staff members, a Times photographer and police."

"Anigbo disputes Washington Times reporter Susan Ferrechio’s account of the alleged assault and says Ferrechio entered the school and tried to interview a student without permission, brandished a knife and used racial epithets in speaking to students. In a statement, Wesley Pruden, editor of the Times, said that Anigbo’s version of events is untrue and that Ferrechio went to the school "armed only with her note pad, a pen . . . and her curiosity."

The D.C. Board of Education, demonstrating why the Control Board decided that the Board would hinder, not help, school reform is responsible for charter schools but doesn’t know what it’s responsibilities are. President Karen H. Shook’s looking into it, so we’ll know soon, maybe, perhaps.

"There is no history for us to refer to in D.C.," said Shook. "This is a brand-new experience for us. So we want to make sure it’s legal and professional."

I heard Anigbo defend herself on the McGinty/Plotkin hour. She took up a lot of air time avoiding questions about the incident. Anigbo issued a blanket denial, saying essentially that if she and ten students attacked the petite Ferrechio, the reporter would have had to been carried out on a stretcher. I’ll hold the rest of my remarks until I hear from you.

An interesting note is that it was Congress that forced charter schools on the city in last year’s appropriation, though the concept is supported by many District residents. Charter schools are funded by city coffers, but are autonomously managed. Is Marcus Garvey Charter School what Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp had in mind?

So...what do you think about l’affair Anigbo? And can anyone add some facts to the stew that may have been reported by media I missed?


Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

According to Mayor Barry, "Last year, we had three times as much snow as normal and one third the equipment. But we’re prepared now. For a normal kind of snow, the City of Washington and your local government is ready and prepared to make sure that within a reasonable period of time, we either melt the snow or remove the snow."

"If you have enough vehicles, the goal is to get the snow emergency routes done and then get right into the residential areas before it gets packed down and freezes," said Cellerino C. Bernardino, acting director of public works.

Three questions. Why did we have one-third of the equipment last year? Will we have one-third of the equipment next year? And what the heck happened to Larry King, the Director of Public Works? There’s a new interim director, but I missed King’s departure and the circumstances around it. Anyone know?


Sam Smith, the man behind the Progressive Review, has started a new web site. In his words,:

Because of the congressional usurpation of DC home rule, we have established a web site on DC issues for the duration of the occupation. It is currently under construction, but residents of the capital colony may wish to check it out at™


Also free! Free movie passes, short movie reviews, and movie discussion. Send an email message to to subscribe.

Jeffrey Itell


Patterson on Welfare
Carl Bergman

I saw her vote in the Post and too wondered why, but not for the reasons usually cited. She did not vote with the usual ‘reformers’, but her vote was on the right side of a complex issue.

DC’s welfare payments are higher than MD and Va. All this means is that a family here may drown in thirty feet of water, rather than forty feet in MD or fifty feet in Va. If you think that a welfare payment has any relation to the cost of food, clothing and shelter in the city, you’re mistaken. The payment is want the city wants to pay and Congress allows. It has NO basis, it’s simply an arbitrary number. Should it equal the minimum wage, especially since work is required? Should it be enough to ensure that the family’s children have enough to survive? Don’t ask, you may not like the answers.

What is clear is that the payment level has never kept up with the cost of living - you might say that welfare families were the first to be deindexed. Add in that most federal and state legislative actions for years, not just the latest act, have been punitive in spirit. In Michigan and Wisconsin conservatives have had to face up to years of denial that getting people off the rolls and working is not easy, takes time and costs money.

The only result of cutting welfare payments in DC will be to make life a little more miserable for the great bulk of recipients. Their only sin is trying to feed their kids and make it day to day. Those who cheer payment reductions, and worry about competition among welfare programs do so from very full stomachs.


Kudos to Kathy Patterson for her stand on welfare "reform"Cynthia Harrison

Anyone who thinks that Congress improved the nation’s welfare system is dreaming; the changes will simply push many destitute women and children into more desperate poverty. All the research demonstrates that true reform would have cost lots more money: for child care, health care, transportation, and public sector jobs of last resort. The average AFDC grant of $375 a month for a mother and 2 children (+ an equal amount of food stamps) is pitiful and it’s cruel to cut it further. (Of course, some states, such as Mississippi with a maximum benefit of $120 a month, make DC look generous.)

We claim to be worried about increased o/w birthrates, but there’s no evidence that o/w birthrate is affected by grant levels (and some evidence that the relationship is inverse — higher benefits correlate with lower birth rates). We claim that welfare mothers need to be forced to work, but 70% of AFDC recipients were already employed or looking for work. The problem is that they can’t support two children on the jobs they can get, and they lose the jobs when their kids get sick or their cars break down.

In short, the recent legislation was untroubled by any of the research about effective public assistance programs. It also ignores the fact that 40% of AFDC recipients have serious disabilities which will prevent a full-time long-term labor force attachment. So we punish their kids. (Or we can remove them and jail the mothers for neglect, for a bill of $40,000 a year ($10,000 per kid in foster care and $20,000 for Mom in jail).) Of course, desperate low-wage workers offer great possibilities for union-busting. (See, e.g., NYC’s workfare program.) And the fact that the legislation requires little in the way of data collection to evaluate state "reforms" guarantees we will know little about the failures.

Anyway, it’s nice to see some public official make some gesture in opposition to this particular juggernaut.


Joan Eisenstodt

Kathy Patterson, whether one agrees or disagrees with her positions, is a contributing member to this group which means she is an active on line user.

Do we know, or how can we find out via this medium, who else from the City Council and/or ANCs are on line and might want to be part of this to contribute their views?

[You could call your councilmember, school board member, ANC representative, etc. and ask them to subscribe. Given the nature of this enterprise, you will also have to encourage them to post messages. They could be lurking and you’d never know. Jeff]


Still Crazy After All These Years
Bob Doherty

Another example of what’s wrong with the way this city is run, even when it pretends to do the right thing: Yesterday, we received a newsletter from our esteemed police chief and mayor talking about their new "community-based" policing initiative. We were invited to attend a "community" meeting in Ward 3 to discuss the plan and how we can help cut the crime rate. The only problem is that the newsletter was postmarked December 4—and the meeting took place on 11/26.

I’m still crazy enough to like living here, but it is hard to stomach the waste of tax dollars that has been S.O.P in D.C. government.


No more drives in the park?
Ted Gest 76710,

Since our last go-round on this issue, rush-hour traffic on the Rock Creek Parkway seems a bit better, maybe because more signs have been posted northbound and the Beach Drive cutoff delineated more clearly. Still, the park service said at a meeting with the Chevy Chase Citizens Association that it is considering barring or eliminating driving in the park, pending a study. I don’t need a study to tell me that if that happens, streets like Connecticut and Massachusetts will be clogged miserably. I agree with a resident who was quoted in a Northwest Current account of the meeting as saying that it can’t be assumed that the only way to enjoy the park is by walking, jogging or biking. Driving through the park is in itself enjoyable, and the various activities cited are not mutually exclusive. Anyone have other ideas?


Flat Tax
Tom Berry

Let me add a different spin to the arguments regarding the hoped-for demise of Norton’s DC Tax Plan. I support her efforts for one reason and one reason only. DC citizens are treated like colonists by the federal government. We do not even have the same status as US citizens in Guam, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Those good folks don’t have voting representation in Congress, either, but they also pay no federal income tax. We do. A little tax relief certainly isn’t parity, but it’s a step in the right direction.


DC Taxes
Greg Jones

As a firm and longtime believer in a flat tax (at the federal and state levels), I, too, applaud Del. Norton’s plan for the District. (I have never seen the "fairness" in a tax system that requires you — who make, say, twice as much as I do — to pay more than twice as much as I do in income taxes.) That having been said, does anyone out there actually know anyone who has left DC because — and only because — of the tax structure here? My spouse and I talk about it from time-to-time but we’re highly unlikely to decamp (at least until retirement or unless the Control Board decides to balance the budget on our backs) for at least three reasons: 1) the tax situation, overall, in Montgomery County is only marginally better than DC; 2) commuting from Virginia appears to be a nightmare; and 3) — most importantly — for all the headaches, we live in a nice neighborhood, with great neighbors, and can’t imagine going anywhere else for the time being.


The Hawaii Marriage Bill
Joan Eisenstodt

There is also, for those interested in following this, a superb list for up-to-date information direct from Hawaii. I am traveling and don’t have the address with me. But email directly and I will send you information.


Military in the Schools
Ed T. Barron

Sam Smith has come down hard on the involvement of former military personnel in our school system. Despite my 8 years of service in the U.S. Army I’m not particularly fond of the military as a long term career. My active duty experience did show me, however, that Regular Army officers were uniformly (pardon the pun) well educated (many at West Point), very experienced in conducting educational programs and managing large numbers of personnel.

I have, for a long time, advocated the use of retired military personnel as teachers in the D.C. schools. Retired military personnel are smart, experienced in dealing with life threatening situations, can teach, and at the same time can bring a sense of order and discipline sadly lacking in the home lives of many of our D.C. students. I would like to see a qualified retired military person as the Principal in most of our schools. Teachers’ Unions and educators will turn red and blue over this suggestion but you don’t need to be a classroom teacher to be a good leader (administrator) of personnel or to be a student advocate.

The skills required to be a good Principal are good problem identification, good problem solving, surrounding yourself with capable and hard working people, and empowering those people to make the right things happen. These are all the same kind of skills I found in the RA officers in the U.S. Army. I don’t know Gen. Becton personally, but based on his credentials and endorsements I surely think he should be given the chance and the time to make things better in our schools.


Clearing Up the Ice on Moon
Phil Shapiro

In an effort to clear up all the misinformation about ice on the moon I’ve taken it upon myself to set up a web page on the subject. On this page I’ve included a verbatim interview with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in which each of them discusses when they first suspected ice on the moon - - - including frequent references to Zamboni’s, figure skating, and Buzz Aldrin falling on his butt. Indexed in Alta Vista so that researchers worldwide can easily obtain the very latest misinformation about ice on the moon.


Storage and Stereo Cabinet For Sale

Lighted, custom-made shelving unit and stereo cabinet. Honduran mahogany, inlaid with red oak. Eight feet long, 6’ 6" high, 22" deep. Upper unit has glass shelves with wood trim. Lower unit has adjustable heavy duty wood shelves and drawers behind cabinet doors. Excellent hardware. Cost $3000 to have built. Our price: $1200. Call (202) 398-7781.

David Uglow


Car For Sale

1990 Mazda 626 HATCHBACK! They don’t make full-sized hatchbacks any more, but you can buy this one for only $5900! Four-door hatchback, white with light blue interior.Automatic, power windows/doors.SUNROOF.Only 61,000 miles. New DC Inspection. Complete service records.Check out the recommendations and recommended prices in the Consumer Reports ($7450) car buying service and Edmonds’ web page ($8500): ( Our price: $5900. Call (202) 398-7781.

David Uglow


In search of new mothers’ group

My wife and I recently (early November) had a baby girl, and my wife would like to find a "new mothers’ group" to share experiences, advice, and generally socialize. We live in the Dupont Circle area, but would like to know about any groups in the general vicinity.

Stuart Weiser


Car for Sale

1988 Toyota Corolla FX, blue 3 door hatchback, 65K miles, AM/FM cassette stereo w/security code, great gas mileage, new tires, original owner. $3,250 or best offer.

Joe Piacentini


Home PC Computer Assistance and Small Business Applications

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.

Jeffrey Itell


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


dc.story—Your Electronic Backfence

Kibitzing by Jeffrey Itell (

Copyright © 1996 by Itell Communications, Inc. All rights reserved

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)