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January 5, 1997

UDC, Taxies, and You

Dear Neighbors:

I posted a number interesting postings on the DC taxis toward the end of this issue. Don’t miss them just because they bring up the rear.


It’s time yet again to review posting policies. I’ve taken a heavy cursor to some of today’s postings, mostly because they are in the form of copy and retort. Please repeat after me. This is not a news group. We don’t need to read what someone wrote last time. If you take issue with what someone wrote, include their ideas in your terse, frosty riposte.

And I did mention terse? Shoot for two paragraphs. I’m starting to receive doctoral dissertations that require three-part postings...and leave no room for Ed Barron.

The compliance police salute your efforts.


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

Jeffrey Itell


Big, Bad, Barry
steph "Still haven’t ‘gotten over it’" faul

Marion Barry is giving an excellent impression of a desperate man. Lawyers have a saying: "When the facts are against you, pound the law. When the law is against you, pound the facts. When both are against you, pound the table." Barry’s recent attack on Kathy Patterson is pure table-pounding. I assume he targeted Ms. Patterson at least in part because she is female and because Carol Schwartz, a bigger target, wasn’t yet on the council. I also assume, with regret, that his remarks will play splendidly in those areas of the city that have been damaged most by his own malfeasance and irresponsibility.

One could draw the conclusion from Mr. Barry’s attitude that he hasn’t taken enough advantage of his own opportunities for education, but that would be uncharitable. Uncharitably yours.


Harold Goldstein

While we agree that all institutions need to live within their budgets there might not total agreement as to what that budget is for UDC. During the Kelly years UDC was the only city agency to see its budget cut and this continues.

Also, UDC is no more a political dumping ground than any other city agency. There are, of course, a handful of political jobs here as there are spread throughout. You’ll find that almost all faculty got their jobs through normal channels; the same as at other local institutions. To profess otherwise without offering specifics is a gratuitous and cheap shot.

As to the other comment, about ‘little college-level teaching’, that also shows only ignorance about our institution. The fact is that we graduate a signficant number of students every year. I can attest to the fact that engineering graduates of UDC fare very well, competitively with other local engineering graduates. Yes, there is a significant number of remedial courses in amth and english since 2/3rd of our incoming students need it. This is not the Universities fault by any means. This is a problem with the DCPS system and it will reamin a problem until it is acknowledged and addressed.

And this IS about destroying the institution. To think otherwise is delusional. There is a critical mass, beyond which we cannot function effectively. I believe that UDC is approaching that critical mass. You can debate, with arguments valid on both sides, as to weather or not the district should have a University. But continued funding of UDC at a level that does not maintain the preent level of instruction puts us squarely on the verge of being non-functional.


Jim Preer

Your comment that "little college-level education has occurred at UDC" reveals a shocking ignorance of the record of UDC graduates. UDC has produced over 850 graduates a year since its inception. UDC graduates go on to receive advanced degrees from major universities, are employed by and own major private firms, work as scientists and engineers in government, university, and private industry, and staff many major organizations in this city and throughout the nation. Your gross misrepresentation of the facts on this point is insulting to thousands of UDC graduates and to the faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly for many years to provide educational opportunity to the citizens of the District of Columbia.


Terry L. Smith Executive Assistant to the President, UDC

The following comments refer to Jeffrey Itell’s posting on DC Story.

The District gave about $75 million to UDC in 1991 and another $3+ million to the DC School of Law (which is now part of UDC). This year (FY 1997) it is giving UDC (including the law school) $38.5 million.

Tuition was increased by the Board of Trustees in April 1996. The increase is being phased in over a two year period. At the end of the tuition increases, graduate tuition at UDC will be comparable to that charged at other public institutions in the metropolitan area. (Law tuition is already comparable to that at other public institutions.) Undergraduate tuition will be higher than most community colleges and lower than most four year public institutions.

UDC cannot (by law) spend its endowment and has not done so. It can only spend earnings from the endowment. Perhaps the reference to the endowment actually meant to refer to the reserve fund. (An endowment is like an annuity, a reserve fund like a savings account.) This fund has dropped to zero. Normally, colleges are expected to have a reserve fund that is equal to or greater than 5% of the annual operating budget. By this standard, UDC should build its reserve fund back to about $4 million. It would do this by saving some of the income it gets from grants, fees, gifts, etc (but not from the District of Columbia government: appropriated money cannot be saved from year to year).

UDC conferred 963 degrees in 94/95 and more than 990 (I can’t remember the exact number) in 95/96. It also conferred approximately 75 juris doctor degrees in 95/96.

UDC is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditation by Middle States was reaffirmed in 1995. Normally, accreditation is awarded for five years unless there is some problem. UDC’s accreditation in 1995 was awarded without condition—i.e., Middle States found no problems that caused it to put conditions on UDC’s accreditation. It did, however, express concern about the rapid decline in UDC’s government appropriation and asked to be kept informed of developments in this area. (These developments led it to warn UDC in 1996 that its accreditation may now be in jeopardy.)

In addition to the accreditation of the university as a whole, a number of programs have special accreditation—e.g., electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electromechanical engineering technology, civil engineering technology, teacher education, speech and language pathology, radiography, respiratory therapy, nursing, mortuary science, and aircraft maintenance.

It is true that many students who enter UDC need remedial work in one or more areas. This does not mean, however, that students can graduate from UDC without mastering college-level work. They cannot. Fortunately many students take advantage of the special opportunity offered by UDC and go on to earn degrees that bring them upward mobility. A study done prior to the Middle States accreditation visit revealed that 80% of UDC graduates reside in the District five years after earning their degrees and therefore add significantly to its tax base.


UDC Reply
Jeffrey Itell

To Harold Goldstein, I would suggest that one reason UDC has seen its budget cut is that it was being given too much money for its mission. I know that’s a radical notion in the public sector—I’ve been there—but it’s a fact of life elsewhere in the economy. As for saying that UDC is no more a political dumping ground than any other city agency, you couldn’t prove my point about patronage any better.

Regarding Mr. Smith’s comments about UDC overspending, I ought to have said that UDC was spending interest earned on its endowment—without congressional authorization and in violation of the federal anti-deficiency act.

To the larger question of the quality of education at UDC, I may indeed need enlightenment. But citing the number of students graduated without knowing graduation standards doesn’t tell me anything. Two-thirds of UDC freshman require remedial reading and math. And the Post reported recently that a large percentage still require remediation in their junior years. Without the basic reading and writing skills, how are students mastering college level material? Especially when they didn’t have the skills to master high school curriculum?

I’m certain that UDC has graduated many capable students—but logic is akin to arguing that the Soviet Union had a great space program. That doesn’t tell us how well the University is functioning. And public reports say not too well—and not just because of budget woes.

It’s understandable that each of three writers focus on saving UDC as an institution since they work there. But I’m addressing a different question: How best to educate kids the majority of whom lack basic skills. I’m not alone is being skeptical about a University being the solution to that problem. Being an amalgam of several colleges, there are parts of UDC that work---and parts that don’t .Therefore, I welcome UDC’s revamped administration’s willingness to look at the institution’s mission with Dr. Brimmer.

UDC employees deserve credit for taking on a mission that many folks would rather ignore. We also should not forget that many schools throughout the nation face similar difficulties.

But providing credentials rather than education has been a continuing trend in schools throughout the country—especially at open enrollment schools. I speak as someone at the receiving end of one of those degrees. And before someone attacks me of elitism or practicing meritocracy, I concede the point...but don’t plead guilty.


Street Cleaning and Parking
Dianne Rhodes

The Post’s District Weekly states that street sweeping has been suspended for winter. "The sweepers, which operate in sections of Wards 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7, will not operate during the winter months because the water they emit could freeze on the street and cause hazardous conditions. …

Consequently, during the next three months, motorists will have fewer parking restrictions on streets normally cleared for cleaning. Although all other parking restrictions will be in place, no parking tickets will be issued for motorists violating the sweeper [sic]"

So what’s so special about wards 3 and 8?


Van Ness North Cooperative joins the World Wide Web
Austin Kelly

A few days ago the Van Ness North became the first cooperative in the D.C. area on the net. We’re still under construction (what a surprise for a web site, huh?) but we’re adding links to sites and events in the Van Ness Metro area, as well as advertizing what a great building the Van Ness North is, and listing apartments for sale and for rent. Anyone with good ideas for links, or lists of events in the area broadly defined as Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues, from Dennis Rodman street to the Maryland border, please drop me a note. And pay us a visit at


Alban Towers
Suzanne Gallagher

Alban Towers is being renovated. I believe they intend to do some upscale apartments, of course, preserving the nice exterior. The gradually dimming lights and now total darkness are the result of slowly easing out the last few tenants that weren’t in any rush to leave.


Federal Prisons
Dianne Rhodes

The courts have consistently ruled that sending someone to prison thousands (or even hundreds) of miles away from their families and friends is unconstitutional and consists of cruel and unusual punishment. I know, because two people I knew personally were transferred from one federal prison to another so they could be closer to their families. Maybe our readers need to realize that prisoners are real people. As much as certain dc story readers would like to suspend the constitution and the bill of rights (perhaps in the memory of John Mitchell on May Day) there are still some protections.


Eric Holder: the Post’s whining strategy
sam smith

The Post appears to have launched its campaign for the city’s humdrum US Attorney, Eric Holder, with a front- page story remarkable for its whiny tone. The complaining subtext of the piece by Toni Locy is that blacks don’t support members of the black establishment when they run for office. The evidence: Sharon Pratt Kelly, Patricia Harris, and Clifford Alexander.

The story is inaccurate both historically and sociologically. In fact, Alexander had little in common with the other two. Unlike Kelly and Harris, he had some real idea as to how to run the city. Kelly in particular was amazingly uninformed, a fact carefully covered up by the Post’s hyper-editorial campaign on her behalf. Second, Kelly and Harris (like another Post favorite: John Ray) were unable to build any significant base outside of the white parts of town. Alexander not only took many overwhelmingly black precincts in his close race against Walter Washington in 1974, he beat Walter in Ward Eight. Finally, a look at the voting patterns for Charlene Drew Jarvis — whose DC social standing is at least equal to that of Kelly or Harris — shows that it is possible for a member of the black elite to pull well in lower income black wards. In 1990, for example, Jarvis beat not only Kelly in Ward Eight but Ray, Fauntroy and Clarke as well. In a later run for city council chair she tied Clarke in Ward Eight.

The solution to the Post’s problem lies not in foisting on the city yet another run-of-the-mill black candidate with whom the Federal City Council and the Board of Trade feels comfortable. They’ve tried this Ward Three strategy a few times already and not only has it not worked, it has taken up political space that might be filled by a true reform candidate. The irony of the Post’s whining strategy is that it tends to produce candidates so weak that even a poor alternative can easily beat them.


Alex Morin

Re DKBlack’s post about nimbyism I share his views in principle and I can’t speak about the other instances he cited...but he is wrong about the Presbyterian Home expansion. (The back of my house directly faces the area where the proposed expansion will take place). The central problem is that this essentially commercial (money-making) venture—from an organization that pays no DC taxes—will bring about 150 new residents, with all their cars, visitors, service personnel, deliveries, etc., into a quiet residential neighborhood that inevitably will suffer a deterioration in quality of life as a result. It’s just too large in scale for where it will be sited, and I can’t see any real benefit to the city as a result. The justification that it will make more facilities available to the elderly is nonsense, when all sorts of more openly commercial (and taxpaying) ventures are competing for residents. The Home wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t think it will make money for them; that’s why they rejected all proposals that would reduce its size. They’ve been good neighbors up to now, but they’ve over-reached in this instance, and this kind of institutional force majeure is among the problems we face in trying to keep the city livable.


Dianne Rhodes

If some 25,000 people have left DC over the last two years, who do we expect will move into the expanded Kennedy-Warren? Has there been any analysis of where most people are moving from and moving to? And I mean an actual body count, not just speculation.

It also my understanding that the Sheraton provides a large enough site for some very large conventions requiring massive trucks to transport the displays, including some unpopular defense/weapons shows. I have been attending classes at the zoo when the back streets around the Sheraton have been clogged with these very large trucks, parked wherever they please. I believe that was the source of the complaints.


Not in My Backyard
Ed T. Barron

There are many reasons to allow positive and productive operations to be conducted in underutilized facilities that happen to border residential areas. One of the most recent cases is the AU Law School which is located (in a largely unused major facility) adjacent to the Spring Valley Shopping Center amid many residences of AU Park. There was a hue and cry from AU and Spring Valley residents that their quality of life would be dramatically impacted. After AU corrected the initial parking problems, there appears to be little negative effect. The local merchants appear to be doing a land office business. Change is inevitable and should be managed—not resisted. Knee jerk reactions are appropriately named for their source.


Taxi Zones
Art "If I’m right you can contribute 20% of the fares you save to the ACLU" Spitzer

Rob "usual disclaimers" Pegoraro says that he pays an extra zone fare because he lives on a street (Conn. Ave.) down the middle of which runs a zone boundary.

I don’t have the taxi regs handy, but my recollection is that a taxi driver is *not* supposed to charge the higher fare when a rider is picked up or dropped off on a street or at a corner that lies on a zone boundary. Perhaps R.P. should call the taxi commission and see if I’m right.


Taxi Zones
Art Chimes

I read once years ago (City Paper?) that both sides of a zone boundary street are considered in the "cheaper" zone. In other words, if you’re going from the White House to the 1700 block of U Street, it doesn’t matter which side of the street you get out on, it’s still a one-zone fare. Wimp that I am, I always avoided the issue by asking to be let off a safe half-block away.


Jeff Porten (My opinions ARE those of Millennium Consulting, dammit. What’s the point of owning a business otherwise?)

Personally, I always used to like the zone system. No worries about getting rooked by a cabbie taking the long way to get somewhere — you know *his* incentive is getting you there as soon as possible. No $15 traffic surcharges. No worries about getting overcharged — if you’re on a route where you know the number of zones from previous trips. I like the system a lot less since the rates went up — seems like it’s $7 now every time I go anywhere.

But if we’re talking about a dream system, why not a hybrid? Zones for a clearly marked downtown area — metered for trips originating or ending outside that area. If the taxis used a *real* map for the zones, it might even make sense.


William Menczer

So far, I have not read anything in this newsletter regarding the "interstate" mileage scam many DC-licensed cabbies perpetrate on National Airport customers. To wit, when one is waiting in line for a cab at National, he/she is handed a printed red, white, and blue single page leaflet that explains the fare structures for DC, Fairfax/Falls Church, Arlington, Alexandria, PG, and Montgomery County cabs, and lists estimated fares to various parts of the metro area.

The form makes it very clear that these example fares are "approximate" and "your actual fare may be different than the amount shown on the map." When I take DC-licensed cabs from National Airport to my home in Woodley Park, the leaflet estimates the fare @ $14.00. In virtually no case has a cabbie charged anything other than $14 and has always cited the leaflet as the fixed fare for this destination. (In no event have I paid the $14 fare, after sometimes heated discussion with the driver.) If calculated based on the complicated mileage formula specified by DC law and explained on the leaflet, the actual fare is only $12.50. Have any readers encountered similar rip-offs for their trips to DC locations from National?

Conclusion? Meters should eliminate the rip-off, but will probably raise the fare beyond $14!!!


Taxi Zones
John Keefe

According to the great article "Hacked to Death" in the City Paper 3-4 years ago on the horrible zone system, if a D.C. cabbie drops you off on a street dividing two zones, the law says you pay the lower price. Also, the route through which a cabbie takes you doesn’t determine the zone distance — only the absolute number of zones between the first and the last one. So if you go across four zones to get to the one next door, you’re supposed to pay for just one.

Actually getting your driver to follow the law is another matter. I’ve found that many have their own interpretations and defend them adamantly. Other drivers rely on a creative sense of geography — such as the one who spent 20 minutes trying to convince me that Walter Reed hospital was in Maryland so he could charge me a higher rate.


MCI Arena
Catherine Lancaster

First I have to say that I am *completely* bias, as I work for MCI and one of my projects is reporting and analyzing the technology that we are putting into the MCI Center. Obviously most of the information that I am working with is confidential (how DC) but I do want to say one thing in defense of the MCI Center.

The MCI Center is NOT going to be closed, sitting there and not producing revenue when there are no sports activities, concerts or other center type activities going on. There will be a 3 story restaurant and bar, retail shops, internet access kiosks, banking facilities, and other venues that will draw people to the center even when there are no other activities happening. Plus currently all of the major tour bus companies in the city will have the MCI Center as a regular stop on their routes.


Friendship Heights-DC 3 blocks to Metro. Large room (with great built-in bookcases) available in spacious, lovely, historic non-smoking house. Newly remodled private bath. All amenities. *Lots of extras* $478+ Utils.

Jan Genzer 202-364-0383(WMS Broadcasting)


A friend is looking for a rentable space for a wedding reception in town (or close by) I remember a few spots being recommended by DC story subscribers, but didn’t save names. Could whoever offered them up, reprise please.

judie guy


books to give away

we are cleaning closets, bookshelves and have books to donate to a book sale. if you know an organization in DC that is looking for book donations now, email me with information.

joan eisenstodt


kid’s software -Liquidation Sale!

Must Sell = New, Review Copies - Educational & Edu-tainment Software for Kids. Most are available on hybrid CD-ROM formats; some Windows & Mac, floppy disk super programs remain. Contact me for incredible, after-the-holidays, Deep Discounts! The more you buy, the more you save.

Barbara Gollon


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.

Jeffrey Itell


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