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December 15, 1996

State Functions

Dear Neighbors:

You may want to consider subscribing to if you are interested in receiving free passes for two people to movie screenings. I’ve entered into an informal agreement with an advertising company that handles most of the press and film previews in the city. We’ve found that is an excellent, efficient way of filling up those seats.

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The Control Board’s actions on reforming the District school system is in part modeled on the Chicago experiment. There are many differences in the two approaches, however—the most significant being that the District’s mayor is not involved. I’ve provided below the conclusion of an article about Chicago schools that you might find interesting. Plus a web link to entire article.

"The conditions for serious school reform are in place in Chicago, and many of its citizens believe that the schools themselves are on their way back, ready to reverse the downward spiral they have been in since the early 1970s. The optimism is due to Chicagoans’ faith in their mayor’s ability to fix the schools that his predecessors had kept at arm’s length. City Hall has the authority, the drive, the popular support, and, through better management, the money it needs to succeed. The next three years will tell whether it can take the authority that no other mayor’s office has been given and return the public schools to their glory days when they actually educated most of their students and sent them on to productive lives."


The Control Board has developed a series of recommendations for the federal government to take over what are considered state functions. I haven’t seen the report—the Control Board’s website has been down—but I wonder what you think of the proposal. I’ve been debating this issue for nearly three years and seem to have landed as a minority of one. My experience is that cities usually subsidize their states, not the other way around. New York forks over $1 billion more to the state coffers than it receives from Albany. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia fight for scraps from Harrisburg. And I don’t believe Baltimore does so well from Annapolis, though I’m less certain of this fact.

What people seem to forget is that city residents pay taxes to state governments so that the state can afford to provide the types of services the Control Board wants the federal government to pick up. The question then becomes whether the city receives more or less from the state than its residents kick in. I certainly haven’t found a city that receives a net billion dollars in state aid, but I’ll admit I haven’t looked very hard. Any experts out there?

All of the above aside, the District will need federal money to survive---at least until it can turn around its economy and start producing wealth to take care of its needs. (We should live so long.) But are the Republicans in Congress going to buy this argument? Will the Democrats? My hill sources say absolutely not, but my hill sources are not great. How are yours?

Furthermore, President Clinton has now weighed in on District matters. My cynical reading of his comments is that the District’s governance is merely up for study. What do you think he meant? And why is he talking about the District now?

Jeffrey Itell


The Marcus Garvey Charter School
Gary Imhoff

The "civil rights" veterans who run our city learned well from the southern white racists they fought on those freedom rides. The incident at the Marcus Garvey Charter School repeats in all its details countless racial incidents in the South as they played out in the 1950’s.

The incident begins when a member of the minority group is found alone in forbidden territory and is roughed up by a several toughs in the majority group. News of the attack gets out. The politicians and responsible town leaders dither and are silent, not knowing what to do, since they fear that criticizing a racial attack might make them unpopular with the majority. Then the cover story is released, in several succeeding versions. The first cover story is that the incident never happened at all. When that doesn’t fly, the second cover story is that "she asked for it." She had an attitude; she was uppity; she didn’t know her place. The final cover story is that "she started it." She confronted the whole group that surrounded her, called them names, and then attacked them with her big knife.

When the final version of the story has been floated, the "good" people in the majority finally speak up. Eleanor Holmes Norton has assumed this role for the city. The "good" people claim that they can never know the truth about what happened because of the conflicting stories. Therefore, the best thing for the whole town would be if the whole incident were just kept quiet. "The temperature should be lowered," and, of course, the law shouldn’t be called in. The charges should just be dropped, in the best interests of racial harmony (and, heavily implied, for the safety of the minority). Then, finally, the cooperative leaders of the minority group agree that the victim always was a bit of a hothead and a troublemaker, and that she didn’t know how to behave in order to get along. (She writes for the "Times," after all.)

The only thing that has been left out off this scenario is giving the reporter a one-way train ticket north and a guaranteed factory job in Chicago, if she’ll just leave town and promise not to return.

I suspect, however, that the ending of the story will be different in this case. Mama Anigbo and the Marcus Garvey School will finally go down — but only because the idea of charter schools has too many opponents, who fear that real competition and real options for poor students may force the D.C. public school system to change. They will be happy to use the Garvey incident to discredit the whole idea of charter schools — and that may also answer Jeff Itell’s question of why the Board of Education would have chartered the Garvey School in the first place. What better way to sabotage the idea than to ensure that the schools that are chartered are just as bad as the public schools they are supposed to compete with?


What constitutes a minority?
Peter Luger

While I agree that the Marcus Garvey incident would have been covered and reacted to differently under the circumstances Debbie Weinsheimer describes, it is a ridiculous point that white people are a "minority" in DC. A minority, as a term in government used for anti-discrimination purposes, does not mean the smaller of a group or the group differentiated from the whole. It means a group historically and consistently discriminated against based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, etc. (and even sexual orientation in some places). The 25% of white people in DC typically have higher paying jobs, better educations and live west of Rock Creek Park. They are rarely victims of the high murder rate, don’t get turned down for jobs and promotions that they are qualified for, and most of the time they get picked up when they hail a cab, even though the cab driver is probably a "minority." By the way, women are considered a minority under affirmative action and other programs and laws that use the term, yet they are more than 50% of the population. Hmmm...


Public Works
Gordon Glaza

In recent months, we are witnessing gopher attacks on the city’s streets. A work crew shows up one day and digs a trench one foot wide and a mile long. The next day they leave behind a slapdash asphalt patch, piles of gravel, heaps of unused tar, and they’re off to tear up another street. Is this the MCI cable crew, or some other blessed gift to the city. Thanks to the quality craftsmanship, guess what, we are looking at next year’s potholes. Here are some sites recently under attack:

Tilden and Connecticut Klingle Road near Adams Mill L Street and Connecticut

Who is responsible for this bang-up job? And how do they get away with leaving behind such a mess?


Rock Creek Park
Athan Manuel

What I’ve long advocated for Beach Drive is the HOV concept: during rush hour, any car on Beach Drive between Military Road and Broad Branch (the same stretch that is closed to traffic on weekends) would have to have at least 2 occupants. With the park police station just south of Military Rd., it would presumably be easy to enforce. At the same time, the current entry routes (Bladgen, Park, Broad Branch, Piney Branch, etc.) would still be operative and would allow access to lower Beach Drive/Rock Creek Parkway for all vehicles, regardless of the number of passengers. Based on my own non-scientific tally of cars that use Beach Drive, this would reduce traffic on the Military-to-Broad Branch section by at least 90% during rush hour (myself included).


Cable TV
Athan Manuel

It’s funny how District Cablevision, though a private company, mimics our district government: lame, disappointing, and getting worse. And then they force feed us 3 channels dedicated to DC government. Stop the madness — drop 2 of the DC government channels and give us Comedy Central and ESPN2.

[District Cablevision is virtually a wholly owned subsidiary of TCI. I read recently how Robert Johnson, ostensible owner of District Cablevision, has wanted to sell his minority ownership to TCI but can’t because TCI’s stock has dropped like a rock. Most of the programming changes reflect economic cost cutting by TCI—and other shakeups in the cable industry. Your best bet for complaining resides with writing the City Council, which oversees the tiny regulatory group set up to monitor this monopoly. I believe, but am not certain, that Charlene Drew Jarvis has jurisdiction—at least until the Council reorganizes its committees. District Cablevision has not lived up to the terms of its "charter," especially in providing the number of channels that it promised. That said, my best guess is that complaining won’t do any good. The cable industry is shaking out, competition is coming in, and I suspect you’ll have more choices by the time any protest works its way through the system. Jeff]


News Radio
Art Spitzer

Jim Farley ( asks: "I’d be curious to know which radio station your readers think does the best job of covering news in the District." I wouldn’t know; I only listen to WETA. I get all my news from dc.story.


Rich Mintz

I am a great fan of the news department at 88.5 WAMU, American University public radio. They have excellent local stories in some detail during the Morning Edition hours, and Derek McGinty’s weekly DC politics hour includes some of the best local analysis I’ve experienced in any city. Metro Connection, WAMU’s Saturday morning local news and features hour (11am to 12 noon), is also very much worth listening to.


Banking Laws
Art Spitzer

John Whiteside ( tells the sad story about NationsBank putting a hold on the funds in his new checking account, and asks about DC law. I am NOT a banking lawyer, so I do NOT guarantee that what I am about to say is correct. But I think it is.

Availability of funds is not governed by state laws but by federal law; to wit, the Expedited Funds Availability Act of 1987, as amended in 1991. Mr. Whiteside can find that law at Title 12 U.S. Code, sections 4000 to 4010. In brief, it mandates that deposited funds must be available within specified, short time limits. HOWEVER, section 4003 provides that those limits do not apply during the first 30 days of a new account, with some exceptions (e.g., for cashier’s checks, wire transfers and the like).

This law is administered by the Federal Reserve Board, which has the power to add additional provisions by regulation. Mr. Whiteside might want to call the FRB and tell them about his problem. It does seem unjustifiable for a bank to put a hold on its *own* check, and it may be that the Fed has already made a special rule for that, or will do so after it hears Mr. Whiteside’s story.


Police Reports
Ed T. Barron

Recently, I tried to get a copy of a vandalism report for an incident which took place on 14 Sept. As recently as Thursday, 13 Dec., the Police Records Office couldn’t find a copy in their files (despite a twenty-nine minute wait on the phone). Approaching terminal frustration I called the Second District Police HQ and spoke with Officer Dowdy. He said I could get a copy of their report by stopping by their office on Idaho Ave. Ten minutes later I had a copy. This shows just how totally inefficient the system(?) is. That report should have been on a computer and filed within one day and accessible from that point on by punching in the number.

In Seoul, police cars have a computer and a printer in the trunk and can book and get a rap sheet from headquarters as they arrest a law violator. If he is not dangerous he gets released with instructions to report for a hearing on a date provided by the arresting officers. No booking downtown, no wasted time in traffic. Just move on to the next case. In short, the cops are on the street all the time. That is what deters crime and inspires confidence in the law abiding public.

P.S. Each police car has a locator and headquarters knows where every car in the city is at all times.


Favorite restaurants
Don Taylor

I’m publishing Restaurant Maps. A simple concept. A book full of maps showing restaurant locations (808) in the greater DC metro area—most of us drive to dine out. Seems a lot of Story Neters inhabit Cleveland park and nearby. If anyone wants to nominate a favorite restaurant on or near Conn Ave. to be included just send me a private e-mail. I can wiggle in 2 or 3 more before print date. I prefer publicizing friendly, fun places than the ones that may have great food but surly, uptight management.



Tuesday December 24th (X-Mass Eve) at 8pm, the MATZO BALL for ages 23-28 and the Nations #1 Holiday Party at LuLu’s. LuLu’s is located at 22nd and M streets NW Washington, DC. For direction to LuLu’s call 202-861-LULU. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 with a reservation.

Tuesday December 24th (X-Mass Eve) at 8pm, the BIG CHILL for a slightly older crowd, ages 25-49 at Nantucket Landing. Nantucket Landing is located at 4723 Elm Street, Bethesda, MD. For directions to Nantucket Landing, call 301-654-0022. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 with a reservation.

For reservations to either event, call toll free 1-888-633-5326. For additional information call our 24-hour event line at 202-728-3877 or e-mail Presented by SYJP- the Society of Young Jewish Professionals.

To subscribe to our party e-mail mailing list, send mail to and send the message "subscribe SYJP".

Michael Goldstein


Beautiful 24-inch fresh wreaths (with red bow) trucked in from Maine are available from the Wilson High School Crew Team Boosters for $15. Call Joyce Deroy at 202-244-0274 to order. We will deliver to Northwest locations.

Joyce H. Deroy


Caterer Sought

Does anyone know of an (extremely) inexpensive caterer or restaurant that does catering that we could use for an extreme-budget wedding? I had great luck with this list a couple of months ago in finding a reception hall (a mansion with a big ballroom for $200 near Dupont Circle? Get out of here!). We’re looking at snacks, hors d’ouvers (never could spell that), nothing too fancy.

Randy Lilleston


For sale

Two great (center orchestra) opera seats for New Years Eve — Washington Opera — Kennedy Center — "El Gato Montes" — will sell at face value ($90 each).

Steve Hoffman (301) 270-8520


Piano Teacher Wanted

A friend of mine is looking for a piano teacher located in the upper NW DC (or general vicinity). If you know of anyone who gives piano lessons in this neck of the woods, please contact George Cocron, (202) 237-8688.

Phil Shapiro


House History

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 narrative, 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.

Paul K. Williams


Home PC Computer Assistance

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.


dc.story is a discussion group. The opinions stated are the sole responsibility of the authors. dc.story does not verify the information provided by readers.


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