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December 18, 1996

Vistas (Not That One)

Dear Neighbors:

The DCFRA strategic plan is one of the more important city documents to come down the pike that none of us has read. It lays out a road map for the city to get from here to there. Maybe we should read it?


The following web reference crossed my desk the other day. The State Center for Health Statistics (SCHS) in Washington, D.C. is the clearinghouse for birth and death certificates for events that occur in the District of Columbia.

You might want to check out the site to see whether the city considers you dead or alive—and advise your tax planner accordingly.


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

Jeffrey Itell


Rich Mintz

Those of us who live in Washington, a highly planned city with a mostly human-scaled urban environment, are used to frequent pleasant surprises in the urban-design department. To my long list of personal favorites, here’s a new one: the new control tower at National Airport is in direct line of sight of Dupont Circle along the 19th Street axis. (You can’t actually see it from ground level on Dupont Circle, because of the lay of the land, but you can see it dead ahead from lower 19th Street.) I’m wondering whether this was intentional, or is just one of those happy coincidences (as I would assume it to have been in virtually any other city I’ve ever set foot in)?


Why is Clinton talking about the District now?
steph "I’m not wild about being mentioned in the same sentence as Marion Barry myself" faul

Because he’s a lame duck. Being mentioned in the same sentence as Marion Barry can’t hurt him now so he may as well. I hope it does some good. He *does* live here, after all, even if it’s in an establishment roughly equivalent to a maximum security prison, with an equivalent amount of contact with the locals.

Cynically yours,


Clinton’s Safety Net
willie schatz

Okay, so why is Clinton suddenly talking about our fair city’s dire straits? Because he’s been re-elected and he doesn’t have to sweat the hostile reactions to the word "city," which for most of the country is a dirtier word than all of George Carlin’s magnificent seven.


Charter Schools
Barbara Somson

The events surrounding the Marcus Garvey Public Charter School incident and its aftermath cry out for debate and discussion — not on the incident itself, but on the public’s relationship to charter schools.

For starters, is a charter school a "public" school? It receives from the DCPS budget the "per pupil expenditure," (*roughly* the amount of money it costs DCPS annually to teach one student), times the number of students enrolled at the charter school. But it has its own board of trustees with most of the powers and authority associated with a private school (except it can’t discriminate). So should a charter school be treated more like, say, Deal Jr. High or more like Sidwell Friends?

Specifically, should the public have access to a charter school? At Deal JHS, a member of the public may, at designated times, observe students being taught. At Sidwell Friends, you may not see kids in classes until your kid has been accepted.

Should the public have an interest in the curriculum and instruction of a charter school? Last week in DC Story, Adrianne Flynn wrote about the Garvey School, "there’s nothing wrong with cultural nationalism....provided the kids are learning the math, English and social studies and other skills they need." But doesn’t it matter WHAT they’re being taught in these subjects? Does the public have the right to withhold funds from a school that teaches, for example, that the Holocaust never happened? that evolution is not how life forms were created? that one race or another is genetically intellectually inferior? What about a school that uses corporal punishment? Has fifty kids in a class?

If you concede the public has some interest in what and how a charter school teaches, where do you draw the line? Should a member of the public be permitted to file a complaint concerning a school’s practices with the chartering authority (currently the Board of Education) or should this procedure be limited to dissatisfied parents? Should a school’s initial charter be for five years, or for two or three? These are just some of the questions that should be addressed in amendments to the current charter school statute. I’d like to hear what people think.


Marcus Garvey
Paul Penniman

There was too much silence (and therefore implicit approval) after Debbie Weinsheimer’s whine about how whites should be "raising holy hell" about the Marcus Garvey incident. We are to accept Debbie’s hypothesis, meaningless as it is, that "near rioting" would ensue if a black reporter got her notebook taken away from her. Furthermore, I take it, we whites are to feel like a (presumably oppressed) minority.

What would be the point or consequence of our demonstrating/petitioning/posting diatribes on bulletin boards?

To vent our spleen, trying to exorcise the demon of affirmative action from our lives? (Cf. misplaced admiration for Judge Thomas.)

To show how little we care about DC Public Schools but how much we care when an isolated racist incident takes place against one of our own?

To claim that although we are politically and economically the ruling race that we are statistically a minority and therefore somehow systematically mistreated?


State Functions
Harold Goldstein

Ok, so many cities provide a harvest for their states. But that ignores the issue that the control board, finally, recognized. We have to run various operations that no other city performs. What if NYC ran and paid for its welfare program, its auto licensing, its own prison system, etc etc. Where would the equation lie then? And what if NYC was unable to levy tolls on the bridges into the city? And what if NYC was unable to levy income taxes on non-residents?

It amazed me that local politicians rarely if ever used this argument to ‘justify’ our budgetary crisis. Not to mention the obvious point that the federal payment is not a gift; its payment for services rendered and to make up for the vast value of govt property that is removed from our tax roles. And that payment has come no where near keeping up to the increased levels of inflation!!!

DC is certainly an inefficient and bungling bureaucracy that should do a lot better. But DC also does not deserve the level of abuse it gets. Other cities have gone bankrupt and been bailed out so why is DC different? Other cities, most cities of our size I’d say, also have bungling, inefficient bureaucracies as well. DC has been singled out unfairly and Barry, as much of a jerk has he has been, is not THE culprit he has been made out to be. Kelly is much more responsible for our present level of debt and the city council (and norton) have pretty much stood by and let the mayors let things get out of hand.

[Personally, I think it’s all Walter Washington’s fault. But leaving the first mayor behind, Harold, I think you are mixing up apples with apricots. When you write "What if NYC ran and paid for its welfare program, its auto licensing, its own prison system, etc etc.?," you miss my point that New York City residents pay for those services. (You’re right—they don’t run them.)

New York wage earners pay taxes to Albany so that the state bureaucrats can provide these services. Here’s how it works. I live in Queens. I send $1,000 each year to the New York State Comptroller. The comptroller uses the money to pay state bureaucracies to deliver state-delivered services. Since I live in New York City, I receive only (and this is an estimate) $900 in services (including welfare, auto licensing, prisons, etc.) If I lived in Horseheads, New York and pay the same amount in taxes, I’m likely to receive more than $1,000 in services (albeit a different mix of services).

The District government taxes at the level of a city and state (and a plutocracy). Yet it claims it can’t afford to deliver typical state services. The Control Board apparently agrees. The mayor agrees. Members of the City Council agree. The President kinda/sorta agrees. But I still don’t see the logic of the District’s argument, except that the city’s taxing authority is circumscribed and that the federales should pick up these functions as a quid pro quo for tax exempt properties and the lack of a commuter tax. But if the city ought to be careful. You can’t argue in favor of home rule and turn over city activities to the federal government. Turn over enough functions and what is left at home to rule? jeff]


Unemployment Insurance
Calvin Eigsti

There is a possibility that my wife may get laid off at the end of the year. I tried calling the DC government office for some information about unemployment, but I’m sure you can imagine how successful that endeavor was. Can anyone help with these questions? What is the formula for determining the amount of benefits? (e.g. my wife had always worked full-time until returning from maternity leave 4 months ago, to work 2 days/wk.) What requirements must be followed to prove that you’re looking for work?


Jury Duty - Again
Tom Berry

Please allow me to indulge an old subject. As further evidence of the lack of a "random selection" process for calling prospective jurors I submit my wife’s recent call to report to DC Superior Court for jury duty. This has become a civic incarceration every two years for us and others, just like clock work. Mind you, she was also called for grand jury duty this year and ardent readers will recall that this possum did his stint in US District Court earlier this year. Jury duty has become more regular than a damn good vacation. I’m sorry, but I must vehemently disagree with those who believe that jury duty is a civic right and responsibility when that duty becomes a scheduled calling. If it’s supposed to be random, keep it random. If it’s random I’ll be happy to serve. But don’t put a policy in writing and practice the opposite by snookering the suckers who do the right thing.


Steph "Some days I miss Walter Trobriner, even" Faul

Where can I get one of these? I saw it on the back of a car heading north on Reno Road. A bumper sticker that said:


Don’t we all.


News Radio
Frank Pruss

I second the nominations of WAMU. I also have to admit that I don’t jump around. If there is another local station that has good LOCAL news coverage outside of the normal NPR and Derek McGinty hours, particularly weekends, I’d love to hear about it.

Derek’s show is really an amazingly great discussion hour.


WAMU is WAY better than WETA, for my money (although both get it...). Particularly from the perspective of local information.


Favorite Restaurants and Websites
Michael F. Mann

Speaking of favorite restaurants as Don Taylor has, we at Internet Interstate have put together an electronic Web guide with menus of about a thousand DC restaurants. Fully searchable by location, price range and cuisine type. All at no charge and with no advertisements in the way. Please see Also for those of you new to the net you may not know about Washington’s ultimate Web resource - Washington Web - at and of course dont forget to review back issues of DC Story at


Kent Jeffreys

Does anybody know what’s going on with all the DC trucks on 39th Street recently? Every morning for over a week, several dump trucks (most with what appear to be large vacuum machines attached) and a recycling truck or two have parked along 39th street for an hour or two, usually departing before noon. They park along 39th near Windom and Yuma, just a block off Wisconsin.

The drivers generally leave their trucks, apparently to get coffee at a nearby 7-11 store. There is road paving work in the vicinity, but these trucks (as many as six at a time) don’t appear to be equipped for that kind of work.


Beach Drive
Herschel Browne

A correction to what Ralph Blessing says about the weekend closure of Beach Drive to motorized traffic: Beach Drive is closed all the way down to Pierce Mill, not just to Military Road. The HOV idea is a dreadful one, which would merely reinforce the image of Beach Drive (and Rock Creek & Potomac Parkway) as a commuter route. Beach Drive is not suitable as a commuter highway and shouldn’t be used as one. Give people a genuine public-transport alternative to commuting in their cars and you won’t need to force scenic roadways into service for which they were not designed and to which they are ill-suited. More important, stop subsidizing automobile commuting and stop encouraging the catastrophic land-use patterns favored by public policy over the last 50 years, and issues like the misuse of Rock Creek Park will disappear.


Charlie Adler Productions New Year’s Eve Gala is officially being held on Tuesday, December 31st from 9PM to 1AM at Petitbon’s American Grill in Rosslyn, Virginia - 1911 N. Ft. Myer Dr., just across the Key Bridge from Georgetown (the former "Pawn Shop Restaurant") .Plenty of Free Parking is available in the adjacent garage.

A Complete Dinner Buffet with Carved Tenderloin of Beef (9PM-10:30PM), OPEN BAR, Party Favors, and Champagne at Midnight. The Cost is $65 in Advance, $75 at the Door. RSVP by December 27th, call (703)527-7501 for Reservations between 2 and 10 PM. For Deluxe Guest Accommodations, call the Arlington Quality Inn Iwo Jima at (703)524-5000, only $59.97 per room, call Now!

Charlie Adler


Gefilte Fish Gala

Nothing to do on Christmas Eve? The third annual Gefilte Fish Gala takes place on Tuesday, December 24 at the Crow Bar, 1006 20th Street, 20th and K street. They’re open late and it’s free. FREE. Right around the corner from the Matzoh Ball so if that ain’t working for you stop by the Crow Bar.


Faith Dane continues to wow crowds of bar patrons at Mr. Henrys. She has launched her campaign for DC Mayor in 98. On Saturday, December 21 see a seasonal performance of West Indian and Latino music along with comedy, political satire, vintage soul talk and the ever present clips from the film Gypsy. Curtain time 8:30PM. Free admittance. Mr. Henrys, Adams Morgan 1836 Columbia Road. 727-8882

Jeff Krulik


Today on December 18 Footlights—the Modern Drama Discussion Group, meets @ La Madeleine, on Old Georgetown Rd. across from the Bethesda Metro, to discuss Tom Stoppard’s recent play "Arcadia," now in production @ the Arena Stage. Dinner @ 6:30 & our discussion @ 7:30. Please RSVP if you can (202-484-8303).

On Tuesday January 7 we will attend the 7:30 p.m. performance of "Arcadia" @ the Arena Stage, staying after the performance to discuss the play with the director & cast. Tickets are $24. Contact Robin Larkin @ 301-897-9314 asap to see if tickets are still available. You need not attend our December 18 meeting to purchase a ticket to the January 7 performance.

To receive our postal newsletter call Laurie Cullen @ 703-461-8752.

David Sobelsohn


Sherri’s Party Helping can make your holiday party easy, helping with cooking, serving and cleanup. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are still open! Call Sherri at (703) 941-8442 for details.

Claude Seymour


Wanted: Cheap Parking in Dupont Circle Area

Does anyone know of any cheap parking garages/lots in the Dupont Circle area? I’m looking for a monthly payment setup where I am guaranteed a parking slot and can leave my car without worry of harm. Any suggestions are appreciated!

Nicole Darnall


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 herein are the sole responsibility of the authors. dc.story does not verify the information provided by readers.


Jeffrey Itell

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