A Criming Shame
I edited some pieces quite a bit for length and still some run very long. I apologize but you need to help too. Please try to keep your postings to two paragraphs. Stick to facts, dont repeat yourself, and remember everything your 8th grade grammar teacher taught you.
We hit a nerve on public safety. The emotions run raw. But Id like to shift focus. A police officer dies and the city grieves. A 19 year old with a long criminal record gets gunned down and the story makes page 6 of the Post. Its not their fault. The District averages one murder every day. But are the lives of the murdered not equal. I may feel less comfortable than I used to in my Ward 3 abode, but a short distance away there are kids with life expectancies no greater than soldiers sent to Vietnam. They may not be innocents, but they certainly dont deserve to dieor to die like animals in the street.
Forget for a moment about how to *fix* the problem. Instead, tell us how you feel about it.
Also free! dc.movie: Free movie passes, short movie reviews, and movie discussion. Send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe.
Not surprisingly, the murder of a police officer near the Ibex nightclub has turned into a prime rhetoric opportunity for various members of Congress. This morning (2/11) on NPR we heard about Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinsons proposal to reinstate the death penalty in DC for certain types of crimes, including murder of a police officer. Ignore for a moment your opinion on the death penalty, or your concern about DCs growing crime problem, and ask: Why is Sen. Hutchinson trying to micromanage the District? In particular, why is she pushing a proposal that contradicts the will of DC voters, who voted down a referendum to reinstate the death penalty in 1992?
The answer, of course, is that she doesnt answer to us; no one in Congress answers to us; and we are, therefore, nobodies. The same national legislature that is uninterested in making sure that the capital has a revenue base than can support its services, and which is untroubled by collecting our tax money without giving us representation suddenly gets interested when theres a sexy issue like this. Tax codes, pension liabilities, and democracy are dull stuff, but this is a chance for members of Congress to use DC to push their favorite social issue in a way that they cant in their own backyards.
Be outraged about the crime problem. Be outraged about the Barry administration. But along the way, save some outrage for the politicians we dont get to elect who have the final say on how our city is run. And if youre not outraged about that, I suggest you ask Congress to get rid of the local government completely. Why keep up the pretense?
Gerie Sabol-Stroud email@example.com
I am truly baffled about the fact that no one has picked up on Mayor Barrys comment, made in regard to welfare cuts, that there would be blood in the streets. His comment was published one day before the cruel murder of Officer Gibson and the shooting on police officers trying to make an arrest. I do not think these events were an accident. Some of the Mayors constituents take him literally. Mayor Barry is a role model for many the only one they have. Barry has the potential to do a lot of good and much harm. It is up to him to decide which he will do.
There is enough violence and destruction of life in D.C. Mayor Barry must come out against violence. He must do more tham mouth platitudes. Barry has a lot of power and can go down in history as a great leader if he chooses the high road.
Vera Zlidar firstname.lastname@example.org
I guess I have a false sense of security in my neighborhood. Ive lived on the Hill in SE for a year and a half now, and the assault rate has steadily been falling (according to the Beat 26 newsletter). I feel comfortable walking, running, blading, and biking there, and like it a *helluva* lot better than when I lived in NW.
As for police responses.....I have mixed experiences. We called a non-emergency number 3 months ago when a friend was pick-pocketed on the Metro (watch your bags!), and within the hour, the police came to file a report. Ditto for my roommates stolen car radio. However, when we were involved in a car accident in Adams Morgan three weekends ago, not only did the cops *not* show up after us freezing our buns off in the street for an hour and a half waiting for them, but the drunk driver who hit us got off scot-free. I was told the next day by a friend, "Unless you report that someone is seriously hurt, chances of you getting a cop out there are slim."
Its evident that the police situation is reaching crisis proportions. Would a mass protest upset Barry? It seems to me DC Story could be a great start for an uprising. Would that work? Or am I being too grass-roots? So far, weve had no political support. We need to take action. And we cant wait for the DC and federal government to work it out.
And the crowd around us in Chinatown Sunday wondered why my friends and I howled with laughter when Mayor Barry stood up and spoke about honor and respect (how Chinatown was highly regarded by the District) and then segued into how much honor and respect we as citizens should have for the DC government and all that it does for us. I guess its better than a communist regime.
Robert Hausman Popky@aol.com
Theft of property crimes: Auto theft depends on chop shops and exporters, and other property theft depends on other fences. They are businesses which need regular personnel, locations, suppliers and customers. They are fixed targets that can exist only by the corruption or indifference of law enforcement. The U.S. Attorney and the FBI should address this one. Then youll see a drop in auto thefts and burglaries, which now are free, "ho hum" crimes in the District.
Janine Micunek email@example.com
Yes, i am outraged by the recent violent crimes that have been committed all too close to home. The shooting of the police officer near Ibex is sad but not surprising; however, the news of the murder on Belmont Street (two blocks from my condo) and the rapes in Adams Morgan (INSIDE the ladies room of Heaven & Hell, I heard!) and Tenleytown are much more alarming and depressing. Ill never forget the loud, invasive noise of the helicopter flying above my friends house at 5:00 a.m. two Saturdays ago and the serious loss of sleep it caused, for both physical and emotional reasons.
What was also disturbing was the telephone call I had received at my apartment on the day after the rape near Babes (Sunday morning, mind you!!!). It was some officer from the DC Fraternal Order of Police, soliciting $75.00 for a "bronze sticker" that I could place on my car (presumably so that when I am pulled over or caught parking for longer than the time limit, the attending officer would perhaps be more lenient with me). When I suggested he send me some literature about how my contribution would actually be spent, he told me that I still needed to contribute a minimum of $15.00. An offer of $5.00 for this info did not satisfy him, and the call ended.
[Please let us know if youve had similar experiences with the police selling bronze stickers. Jeff]
Muriel Nellis firstname.lastname@example.org
OK, we, the choir know about how violent the city has become; we know about property values plummeting; we know whos to blame and for how long and in what way. Were properly concernedeven frightened; but how does one get up in arms ?To whom does one take so long a list, albeit serious? I received a lengthy epistle from our ANC folks. Well meaning, intended to be informative about the purposeful actions they have taken. To what avail? A complaint to the Police about policing, or about the absence of services to those who have assumed (ir)responsibility for providing them seems like no more than busy work. It cant be effective. ( Even the Post knows that a DC tale of woe is just old news). What form should our collective complaints take, for even the hope of remedy? Wheres the strategy...the leadership? This dialogue between those of us who are threatened and know we need help may be cathartic, but thats not sufficient, is it?
Our lives are indeed in danger. Theyve been in danger for years, but like the residents of Beirut, a much safer place than is the District, one learns to sleep in powder kegs even as the shells fall all around.
Some things, though, will wake even those who sleep like the dead. Elements of local culture have gotten entirely out of hand. Mid-teens gunning down pre-teens? This isnt insanity - its animality. A person who was once the same as those mid-teens survived the odds and lived to be 23 - and he now stands accused of a cold-blooded murder of a local hero, some poor cop just eating a donut at a stoplight. How to explain it? One Ms. Costello, of the ABC local affiliate, sums it up perfectly. On the night of the shooting, as she reported the event, a man wearing black leathers and a gangsta eraser-head hairdo walked past and brandished a switchblade at her _and neither she nor the camera crew seemed to notice_. Professionalism or ignorant bliss?
I say its bliss. You people downtown, for all of your professional accomplishments and the intelligence implied thereby, simply have not been paying attention. Like the Lilliputians of Gullivers Travels, you deign not to notice a thing unless it has been brought to your attention through the proper channels. Your city has been falling apart, visibly and on national television, for over a decade, and you have made every possible wrong choice.
First, when someone tells you that Rome is burning, _listen_. Do not depend on those whose positions remain secure only so long as all is well to inform you that you are on fire. When someone tells you that people are dropping like flies, _listen_. When someone tells you that you have been complete fools to disarm only the law-abiding while operating a minimum-sanction revolving-door justice system which doesnt begin to address rehabilitation for career criminals - _listen_. In fact, _dont wait for someone to tell you these things_! How is it that you dont know, or knowing, have failed to act decisively by whatever means are necessary?
This is your city, and you are blessed with the great fortune to abide in the most powerful city on earth and indeed some of the readers of this listserv are among the most powerful people in this city. But "to whom is given much of much is required" .Get out of your house and get involved and above all _pay attention_. Dont question the source, _determine the validity of the facts_. If someone tells you bad things are happening and someone else comes up and tells you otherwise, and you know not the doomsayer and do know the soother-of-your-fears, you must no longer listen to the voice you know. Get the facts for yourself. The naysayer might be in the pocket of the elements which are destroying this city.
Get out and see. When you dont know whats up in those dark alleys (I do, or used to), you have no idea whats going to come out of those alleys. If you dont go into those "low class clubs" you have no idea what is going on in there or whats going to come out all drunk and pissed off after hours. If you dont talk with your policemen, man-to-man (gender neutralize that okay?) and not as citizen-to-civil-servant, you arent gong to know the dangers, frustrations and even horrors that they face. If you havent hung out in the heroin hotel, you have no idea of the desperation, the hunger, the degradation - the animals and their keepers. For so very long, the people you dont see have been content to drift along in their invisibility, ignored by you and doing as they would thereby. But like the rats that you dont see outnumbering 10 to 1 the rats that you do see, you suddenly see that there are a lot of rats but you forget that you dont see that many rats out in the light until theres a plague in the tunnels and behind the walls, one that will make the rats boil out upon you all, be it one at a time or wholesale. The rats are coming into the light because theres no place left for them to stay hidden and nothing for them to eat in there and with nothing else to prey on (rats being a metaphor for the underside of DC) you are going to be the sole remaining thing to eat. Welfare is coming down and quickly, the pressure is "on" on the streets, and something somewhere has to give.
You are living in the jungle, people. And you are trying to ask civilized questions as if your high-society rules had any application in the jungle. They dont .Your ship has wrecked and the animals are closing in and theres never a servant around to change the channel on your TV when you need them these days.
If you are to have anything resembling peace, you will _insist_ on a complete Federalization of your police force, will _insist_ that at least 40 percent of those officers are hired from other cities, experienced officers who dont mind getting out in the filth and kicking butt and taking names. You will treat this as a war if you are to get anywhere at all. You will _insist_ on an intensified Federal oversight and involvement into the daily affairs of the locals, even including yourselves. Get rid of whatever youve got to hide even if that leaves you without ammunition in the interminable wars of petty blackmail that are the Districts bread-and-butter. Pick a side. There are three: rule of law; continuation of a cancerous rot of the Center of American Government; or a fence-sitting posture indistinguishable from catatonia in its in profound ignorance and inaction. Pick one, and join it and _work_ for it. This is beyond crisis - the crisis has been going on so long that you dont even notice when it boils over into debacle.
Face it, the rest of the country does notice. If you cant run this city right, you damned sure cant do a decent job of administering a Nation. I do believe along with many that a failure in securing Washington the District of Columbia merely signals total institutionalized incompetence, and the stockholders will simply meet and demand new management and a relocation of headquarters - after all, the old headquarters burned to the ground while the executives slept.
Perhaps Mr. Binder has not lived in the District long enough to know that the people leaving the District for the suburbs are not a "new middle class" but the very foundation of what used to be a primarily middle class District of Columbia. They are our middle class, Mr. Binder.
In Maryland, a handicapped person has the choice of getting handicapped license plates ( one set, no extra hang tags ) for the car or ONE hang tag which is renewable every two years. The hang tag can be moved, with the handicapped person, from vehicle to vehicle. There are month and year expiration stickers on the hang tag exactly like those on license plates. Red Maryland hang tags are temporary and blue ones are permanent. A physicians certification is required before any handicapped license plate or hang tag is issued.
Remember, guys, that not all handicaps are visible to the average eye. For example, people with very serious, terminal heart conditions can and often do look better and healthier and may be much younger than you and I. Do you want to trade places with them for a handicap tag or license plate?
Wake up and Smell the Cesspool
Why tax Fannie Mae and tax commuters? If Fannie Mae were taxed 300 million a year why would it want to stay in D.C. Any other municipality would be crazy not to want a money maker like that even without the ability to tax the profits. It uses virtually no services and yet has a big payroll of taxable employees. The only way Fannie Mae would stay in D.C. is if congress mandated they stay. So it aint going to happen folks. It makes good sound bite for Capozzis of the world, but it has no impact on solving the real problems D.C. is having. Another idea from the minds of excuse makers is to tax D.C. commuters. D.C. commuters pay a large tax for the services they receive. For example the typical worker pays a parking tax, and then his company pays a real-estate tax for his office space, the commuter pays a sales tax on lunch meals, the employer pays electric/gas taxes, the telephone bill is also taxed, etc. etc. And what does the commuter get in return, pot holed streets, an unsafe environment, police that arrive at the crime scene way too late, a D.C. ambulance service that arrives in time for the body bag, etc. etc. The commuter doesnt need nor want to take advantage to the school systems, welfare system, D.C General, UDC, or any of the other city budget eaters.
If we think that we are going to tax/spend our way out of this mess we must be insane and should be locked up in one of our cities, efficiently run, bring your own toilet paper, metal heath care facilities. This is a rich city by any reasonable measure. The city has historically ignored both external and internal audits that recommended changes. WE must eliminate waste i.e eliminated at least one half the number of city workers. This may seem a ridiculous number but when compare to other cities we have more than four time their number per capita. The remaining ones must be reasonably competent and willing to work at least part of the day. Stop the sweetheart contracts abound where the city pays much more than it should and receives poor or non existent services. In short the problems of theft, fraud, nepotism, waste, incompetence, and an entrenched bureaucracy that is resistant to change, must be addressed. These problems are rampant and unless solved virtually any amount of money poured into the cities coffer will also be wasted. All the crying about it being uncle sugars fault and the other excuses given will not cut it any more.
Job Well Done
We read so much about how services are headed down the toilet in the city that its nice to see a job well done. A very large tree feel across MacArthur Blvd. in the wee hours of Sunday morning, February 9. The police with flares and cones had the road blockage rerouted by 7:00 a.m., and left an officer on duty to ensure that the traffic rerouting was not just done, but done safely. The city had appropriate equipment and personnel in place to cut up and haul off this very large tree, which was all done quite efficiently and professionally. DC public employees at all levels can really get things done when the equipment works (it did) and the planning for contingencies is effective (it must have been in this case).
Well, since you encourage this, Mr. Jeff, heres my shameless promotion: The new dining guide concept *Restaurant Maps* is out and in bookstores. Introductory price $8.95. Bright red cover with yellow art. Many dining "guides," books, mags, newspapers do critical reviews the "What" niche. *Restaurant Maps* is the only guide (a real guide in the sense of showing the way) doing the "Where" niche. 808 metro DC restaurants located on road maps. Dont start your evening with a driving hassle finding the place.
Thanks again to the DC Storyers who recommended restaurants. I was able to use all but two or three and got good advice on out of the way neighborhood entertainment areas to include in next edition.
Ive been here less than a year, and Im looking for a good, reasonable florist to deliver Valentines day flowers to my wife at our home in the Spring Valley area. Does anyone want to offer a recommendation?
Cloyd Laporte email@example.com
Does anyone know of a good real estate agent to use for a rental listing? Maybe one who actually lives in and likes D.C.?
Lynn Dorman firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hispanic Division of The Library of Congress and The Embassy of Chile cordially invite you to a Roundtable Discussion (in English) with Isabel Allende, Antonio Skarmeta and Ariel Dorfman
Mary Pickford Theater 3rd floor, Madison Building (101 Independence Ave, SE) February 27, 1997, 10:00 am
Ana Kurland email@example.com
Come to the Noodle Club!
Progressive "twentysomething" professionals and activists to share food, views and news on March 10th at the Yenching Palace restaurant in Cleveland Park. http://www.his.com/~pshapiro/dc.story/announce3.html
Aaron M. Knight firstname.lastname@example.org
Valentines Day Special
Give your Sweetheart the best gift ever - a wonderful massage for BOTH of you at 15% off. The soothing atmosphere of BodyWise BodyWorks is conveniently located at 3701 Connecticut Avenue. February 14th, 15th Reservations Please. Call Jenn at 202-966-6113.
Jenn Weed email@example.com
Brand new buffed black Doc Martens straight from the UK. Unique rugged ankle boot style with traditional rubber soul and yellow stitching. UK size 7 men. Too big for me. Would probably fit US men size 9 or 10. Hoping to get face value $100 or best offer. Julianne 202-244-5789 h, 202-885-1274 w.
Julianne Welby JWELBY@wamu.org
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.
For fast, reliable Internet services and cutting edge Websites contact Michael Mann at Internet Interstate firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: <http://www.intr.nethttp://www.intr.net
dc.storyYour Electronic Backfence http://www.dcstory.com
Kibitzing by Jeffrey Itell (email@example.com)
Copyright © 1997 by Itell Communications, Inc. All rights reserved
Send mail with questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)