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December 23, 1996

Merry Christmas

Dear Neighbors:

Here’s a Reuter’s news summary about a recurring phenomena.

1996 New York City murder rate down

New York City is poised to finish the year with fewer than 1,000 murders for the first time in almost 30 years, authorities said Friday. Dramatic drops also were evident in the number of other serious crimes in the city, such as rape, robbery and assault, according to New York City Police Department statistics as of Dec. 15. Not since 1968 has the annual number of murders stayed below 1,000. That year, the number was 986. The high was 2,245 murders in 1990. Last year, there were 1,126 murders in New York City.

So why can’t Metropolitan Police Department do even half as well as New York (and the rest of the country)?


The Gentle Accounting Office issued a study available on the web about the new Convention Center. I don’t have the heart to read it. Convention centers are even bigger money pits than sports arenas and some of you may remember how I felt about the MCI arena—and the taxes I have to pay to build it. But if you’re interested in reading the report, click on the magic url and tell us what it says.

District of Columbia: Status of the New Convention Center Project. AIMD-97-17. December 20, 1996.


Post Them If You’ve Got Them.

I’ll be here over the holidays, filling everyone’s email boxes to the brim. If you post, I will be hear to receive.


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

Jeffrey Itell


Crime - Dupont Circle and Moving
Dianne Rhodes

We have had two armed robberies in our building by the same perpetrator. I am writing to warn everyone about this guy because the police are stepping up their surveillance in our area, and I fear he will move on to your area. Also just a general reminder that crime increases around the holidays and to be alert.

The perp enters a garage by following a car. His victims are women alone. He is armed with a knife. He is described as a dark complected black man in his 20’s, 5’10" to 6’2", approximately 180 lbs, wearing a ski mask. Since the beginning of December, there have been six incidents in sector 1 of District 2 (Dupont Circle area) that seem to be the same guy. There have also been similar robberies in other parts of District 2, but the man was not wearing a ski mask.

Our building currently has a closed circuit TV security system and the police say our security is excellent. However, other buildings nearby have cameras which record 24 hours day, making us vulnerable. We will be installing recording cameras ASAP. Police have authorized over time starting 12/20 and will be increasing patrol and using plain clothes police men and women.


Hillary Clinton "discovers" the District
Frank Pruss

Apparently last week, Hillary Clinton announced that she will be making the District one of her top priorities for her next administration. I believe she kicked this of with a sizable donation out of her book royalties to a community development bank. This is actually pretty admirable considering the apparent financial difficulties of the Clinton family.

This was the subject of some discussion on the weekly DC Politics hour on Friday’s Derrick McGinty show on WAMU.

The hosts took offense on behalf of the city for one of her comments inadvertently compared DC to third world countries and backwaters of Mississippi.

I was really only listening with half an ear, but I had to chuckle "So what’s your point?" when the following snippet went by. I think it was Mark Plotkin commenting when I heard:

"… the only thing previous First Ladies brought to the city were some turkeys..."


Barbara Somson

In response to the question about radio news coverage on the District, I’m surprised no one has mentioned WTOP, 1500 on your AM dial. I often listen to WTOP in the car — they do the best job by far of covering breaking local news. It was their reporter who asked Clinton about the District at last Friday’s press conference and created some news!


He’s a Lumberjack..…Evan Roth

Some rather large trees were cut down along Rodman Street, near the corner of Quebec Place, where the Melvin Hazen branch of Rock Creek Park comes up to the street. There is a gray house right next door, which was shaded by the trees. Now there are just a bunch of stumps there.

Does anyone know the story? Why were these trees cut down? Who cut them? The Park Service?


Taylor Simmons

Kent Jeffreys asked about "all the DC trucks on 39th Street … with what appear to be large vacuum machines attached."

Could it be that the "elephant trucks," as my father used to call them, the much beloved, randomly deployed, and recently presumed defunct leaf-collecting trucks, are alive and well?

Did anyone else partake in the annual psychic dance of leaf-raking season — trying to guess when the elephant truck would show up so you could rake all your leaves into the gutter just before the truck turned the corner onto your street?

Ahh, the fuzzy memories of growing up in our fair city…


About that Pesky Control Tower
Mary Lou Fahey

This responds to Philip Murphy’s comments about the control tower at National Airport and the disappointment of the architects over the FAA’s "redesign" of the tower. My understanding (from an article several months ago in the Washington Post) is that the architects goofed when they designed the tower. The FAA required the tower to be moved because its placement prevented the controllers from having a full view of the runways. It was a safety issue.


Beach Drive?
John Whiteside

Every time I read a suggestion about closing Rock Creek Parkway to traffic, I imagine what the narrow streets around my home (Kalorama) would look like after all those cars were displaced onto city streets. And isn’t Connecticut Avenue at rush hour (aka the Cleveland Park parking lot) bad enough as it is?

Closing roads is a good way to convince residents and businesses that they’re better off in Virginia and Maryland. It’s also a good way to create a general economic drain as people spend more time and gas commuting. Create good alternatives to Rock Creek Parkway — like better public transit in and out of the suburbs — and you’ll see less traffic.

(By the way, does anyone else think congestion would be helped out if the one-way hours on the parkway were extended to 7:30 in the evening?)

Just sign me, "dreaming of the day he can take the Metro to Herndon."


Beth-Ann F. Gentile

The discussion in DC Story about the use of Rock Creek Parkway as a commuter route has shocked certain synapses in my brain to recall that during my childhood in the District, Rock Creek Parkway was considered more a recreational drive than a way to get from point A to point B. Exhibit 1: The current bike path along the Parkway was a system of bridal paths for horseback riding. You could rent a horse at Rock Creek Stable and safely ride it along the trails, many of which were very close to the road. Exhibit 2: There were at least two "Fords" which flowed across the Parkway at different locations. One was very close to the Shoreham Hotel. The Fords were sites where Rock Creek flowed across the Parkway. To cross the Ford in a car you had to be going VERY slowly. After driving through, there were large signs warning drivers to check their brakes, just in case traversing the Ford had caused brake damage. Rock Creek Parkway was one of the favorite locations for the then traditional Sunday drive.


Driving Thru Rock Creek Park
Carol Newman

Why is driving thru rock creek park considered to be so terrible? Should the park really be reserved for those people who can manage to get to it on the weekends and also find a place to park? Surely the park is not safe at present to hike alone in during the week? Why can’t drivers have the pleasure of driving thru the park en route to work? Is their pleasure any less worthy than hikers on the weekends? Further, removing drivers from the park will only congest and the neighborhood streets even more than now and make those neighborhoods more crowded and polluted. The park is for everyone- not just weekend strollers and bikers.


Beach Drive
David Sobelsohn

Herschel Browne writes that making Beach Drive HOV during rush hours is a "dreadful" idea because it would "reinforce the image of Beach Drive . . . as a commuter route," for which it "is not suitable . . . and shouldn’t be used." But the current reality is that people are using Beach Drive as a commuter route, and the question is what DC (or the National Park Service) can do about it. Is Mr. Browne predicting that making Beach Drive rush-hour HOV will actually increase the number of cars on Beach Drive during rush hour? If so, that’s a good argument against the HOV idea. But I disagree with the prediction; I don’t think banning single-occupant cars from Beach Drive will increase the number of cars on Beach Drive. But if that’s not what he means, who cares if making Beach Drive HOV "reinforce[s] the image of Beach Drive . . . as a commuter route"?

Mr. Browne urges that some undefined entity (perhaps dc.story subscribers) "Give people a genuine public-transport alternative" & "stop subsidizing automobile commuting and stop encouraging . . . catastrophic land-use patterns." I certainly agree that Congress (& MD, & VA) should, for example, appropriate more funds for mass transit & increase the gas tax. And no one, I think, will admit to favoring "catastrophic land-use patterns." But DC & the Park Service should consider whether to impose an HOV limit on Beach Drive on its own merits, not on the supposition that some legislative body might help reduce vehicular traffic in some other way.


The Future of 90.1 FM (Continued)
Lorie Leavy

My previous posting on the subject of UDC’s radio license was unfortunately timed: moments after I clicked the "Send" button, I discovered that the answers to most of the questions I had posed were in that day’s Post. Apparently the other interested party is George Washington University, which is committed to the idea of a student-run station. I’m excited by the possibility that GWU could bring back real college radio to this city of cookie-cutter broadcasting. Does anyone have any information on the situation beyond what the Post has reported? Apparently WETA officials have been schmoozing with the mayor—how well-connected are they? What would WETA likely do with a second outlet? And is there anything the public could do to influence the decision—for instance, by launching a letter-writing campaign to the FCC stressing the uniqueness and diversity that a student-run station would bring to the local airwaves?


Charter School Discussion
Edna R. Small

I would like to introduce another dimension to the charter school discussion by recommending a book entitled "The Power of Their Ideas" by Deborah Meier. A Macarthur fellow (genius awards) for her pioneering work establishing and running a charter school within the New York City school system, the book described that process . Even more importantly, it is an impassioned and reasoned reminder of the importance of public education in a democracy. It might help us all focus more on the process and goals than the politics and skirmishes.


Lies, damn lies, and statistics
Keith C. Ivey

Sam Smith wrote about "the mysterious non-disappearing middle class":

The number of DC taxpayers earning over $30,000 has actually increased [...]. In 1984 there were just 66,000 such taxpayers. By 1994 there were 102,000. While the data does not take into account the effect of inflation, the picture is nonetheless dramatically at odds with the conventional wisdom.

Not taking inflation into account isn’t just a minor flaw. It’s a serious error that makes the statistics worse than useless, because they’re misleading. Someone making $30,000 in 1984 was a lot better off than someone making $30,000 in 1994.

I looked up the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site (; the value is 102.9 for 1984 and 150.9 for 1994. That means that $30,000 in 1984 is equivalent to nearly $43,994 in 1994 (and $30,000 in 1994 is equivalent to only $20,457 in 1984).

Wait another decade, and even more people will be making more the $30,000. Wait 50 years and practically the whole city will be making that much. That’s the way inflation works. It doesn’t mean the city is gaining middle-class residents.

What would be interesting are statistics comparing the number of people making equivalent salaries, in real (inflation- adjusted) dollars. Does anyone have any?


Beth-Ann F. Gentile

Sam Smith has many interesting and provocative things to say. However, I think inclusion in DC Story of excerpts from his "Progressive Review — Free DC News Service" is inconsistent with the concept of DC Story as a friendly, neighborhood backfence means of communicating. If I want to subscribe to the Progressive Review, I know how to contact Sam.


Tenley Exxon
Cynthia Harrison e-mail:

I recall a while back a few folks recommended Tenley Exxon for auto service. I can’t find any station called "Tenley Exxon." Could someone specify which Exxon station you are referring to or am I remembering this all wrong and it’s Tenley Amoco?


Favorite Restaurants
Don Taylor

Thanks to all who sent notes about friendly eateries and hangouts. All recommendations were of locally owned restaurants. Not a national chain outfit in the bunch. That big-national vs. small-local issue was up front in the Wash Post Monday biz section this week. Also interesting was how prodigious well written the recommendations were. Vivid images. Literary even.

I am looking forward to a "snowy day," by the "floor to ceiling windows," at La Tomate and a flower at the place of my lady from the Italian chef at Al Tiramisu — hope he’s not tooooo Italian. Restaurant Maps book in stores mid to late January. If ya need to find your way to meet a friend at a restaurant in the ‘burbs before then, drop a note.


A listing of a-mail available e-zines/e-journals/e-newsletters.

The list currently contains well over 200 items for you to subscribe to, on a very wide variety of topics, each with description, subscription and other link information.

Todd M. Kuipers New Media Propagandist - Kumo Software Corporation


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Kathleen Gwin Editor, Young Conservative Letter


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Claude Seymour


Home PC Computer Assistance

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