The Ward 6 races heats up. Marion and Carol want to give cop killers the chair. There are more sex scandals in one DC school than in the Congress (that we know of), and Finance and Revenue gives homeowners another try at the homestead exemption. DC Hacks get their act together with a one day strike. To top it, a council committee, beats congress for once, and down sizes hiz honors police guard.
Who Owns That Sandlot: Only Pat Moynihan May Know
The school trustees are fast replacing the old board for caprice in public service. Even the Post understands they wandered off the range. But their priorities seem clear and set, closure is but a step to the real game, speculation and development.
The board may find, though, that while selling land you dont own may be a time honored American tradition, its still frowned upon in polite society. Apparently, the Control Boards not phased by such matters. An aid to the Board, told the Post that it mattered little who owns Phoebe Hearsts land, DC or the Feds. First the Board will decide what to close, and then figure out who owns it.
It may not be so easy. DCs public land is spread among GSA, the District, the Park Service, and Metro for starts. When one of these sells to the other theres no deed exchange, no sales contract. Fold in the Districts usual record keeping, and youve got the makings of a good range war. How does Pat Moynihan figure in this? In the early 70s, as Nixons Domestic Advisor, he presided over a land swap between DC and the Park Service. DC paid for half the National Zoos upkeep and other park properties. Moynihan had DC pick up about four hundred Park properties scattered all over town. In return, DC got to end membership in FONZ.
Unfortunately, theres no record of what went where. Nor did the swap have any real pattern. For example, the Park Service unloaded most of the citys traffic islands, but held on to MacArthur BLVD..s .DC picked up, for example, all the tiny parks on Capitol Hill. They may have USPS on the ironware, but theyre strictly DCs .Like a school child, the board may find school yard puddles far deeper than they ever suspected.
Kudos to those whove ferreted out my e-mail address, but please send all your material to Story@intr.net. Jeff forwards me all the mail. Thanks.
Right - Soon More than Twice A Day
I finally was able to reach someone in the know about the faulty time and temperature display at the 24 Hour Crestar Bank at Ordway and Connecticut. It appears that the sign is real old and that the parts are not being made anymore. There is also confusion about who owns the sign. Crestar is trying to work these problems out. The good news is that Crestar has made the decision to keep the sign and to get it working properly again. It may take some time.
Wants to Vote: Dont Answer by AOL
I suppose I should spend more time around Eastern Market Metro taking leaflets, and I wouldnt need to get on here and ask this. Sorry, gang. If anyone here has any kind of "bullet list" of Steve Michaels campaign goals (I dont really want to say "promises" here) especially about marijuana policy and the restoration of social/political rights for American citizens in DC-could you please email it to me? Hes been in and out of the office, so hes tough to reach by phone, and his email is still hosed (poor guys still on AOL).
Im sorry, but Bethany Bridgham hit on my favorite pet peeve. She writes that her cat, Harry, "went out 3/23 and never came back", as did five, or so other cats in her AU neighborhood. I love animals. Have a dog. Have lived with cats. Owned birds and other small creatures. So I dont want anyone to think Im one of those pet haters. Far from it. My message is: Bethany, et. al., cats, dogs or other animals allowed to roam, without fairly constant owner supervision, are subject to a multitude of problems, not the least of which is catnapping (diseases, fights with injuries, festering sores, and speeding vehicles).
While I think stealing pets for any unauthorized purpose (pit bull bait, laboratory experiments, etc.) is repugnant, pet owners who place their pets in a position to be snatched are at least half responsible. I know many cat owners who have turned their cats into lovely house kitties. And I know many who walk their cats on leashes, despite cat owner protests that cats wont walk on leashes. Pshaw. A loving pet will do what you train it to do, period.
I hope you find your cat. I hope the cat nappers are nabbed, but I hope, mostly, that you keep future pets safely at home.
My heart goes out to the cat owners whose pets have disappeared. The cat nappings in the AU Park neighborhood reinforce something that the folks at the shelter in Boston, where I got my cat, and my vet, have told me: wandering outside alone is bad for your pet. As much as wed like to let our cats come and go as they wish, its a dangerous thing.
I remember a story in the Boston Globe that reported the average life expectancy of a domestic cat was something like 12 to 15 years if the cat is kept indoors. It is less than 2 years if the cat goes outside alone. Along with the threats of cat nappers and vehicles, you have to worry about other animals, disease, and parasites. Please, unless you live in a quiet secluded area (i.e. not in DC) dont let your cat wander off. Living in a house with loving, attentive humans is not cruel; letting your cat get run over, sold to a lab, or mauled by another animal certainly is.
Tube Times Proposal
I agree that METRO is not open late enough, especially on Friday and Saturday when it could be the most useful, however, I do think keeping the whole system open late is a financial hardship.
I would suggest METRO go to a different model. Have primary service stations and secondary service stations. Close all the secondary service stations after say 10 PM, and run the primary stations until 2 AM. The savings will pay for the others. Use some criteria on the stations that stay open based upon prevalence of night time traffic, and connection to other transportation modes and distances between stops.
Black Market-How can you doubt it?
Living in Ward 2 (encompassing parking zoos such as Georgetown, Dupont, Shaw, Downtown, and Waterfront), I have had the experience of acquaintances wondering out loud whether there wasnt some arrangement we could make to get them a sticker.
Does anyone have access to a count of outstanding residential stickers? That is, how many are "out there somewhere" in each ward? It seems odd to me that "residential parking stickers can be issued for such broad areas as to make their residential character almost meaningless. Do other cities not have a system that tracks the number of parking stickers issued by block?
School Closing Dilemma
The General is having a tough time figuring out which schools to close. It really is fairly simple. Keep those schools open that have demonstrated academic achievements and standards AND have substantial parental involvement in the schools activities. These schools will succeed and the students will succeed. Thats what education is all about.
One very big reason that parochial schools succeed in educating their students is that students parents are heavily involved in the educational process. Should a student become disruptive all a teacher has to do is call a parent and discuss this situation. Those students dont misbehave again. General Becton should narrow his criteria to those above and then bring the population of those schools to a level that is cost effective. Closing schools that have high academic standards and a track record of success would be a tragedy.
Re: Tree Planting - Missouri Ave. & Nebraska Ave.
Bill Beck, Chief Horticulturist for D.C.s Dept.. of Public Works Tree & Landscaping Division, was at a Chevy Chase Citizens Association meeting Tuesday, the 15th. I asked him about the trees in the small, pocket-sized parks near Missouri & Georgia Aves recently mentioned in a DC Story. Bill said that the parks may belong to the National Park Service. They may have planted those trees. This could also be true for trees along Nebraska, near Reno, if they are on the federal property in that area.
Chevy Chase Citizens Association has a very active tree program planting more than 200 trees in the past few years. Funding comes from community contributions. Last year, several trees were planted along Nebraska Avenue, near Reno Road, and numerous other locations in the Chevy Chase area. George Smith is the Chair of CCCA's Tree Committee. We would be happy to hear from anyone who would like more information, or would like to contribute or participate.
Railroading Bike Lanes
The Calvert bike lane controversy is up and running and already the issues are confused and people are talking past each other.
First off, lets temporarily ignore the macro issues such as whether or not the city should offer incentives or disincentives for bikes/cars. Lets start with a most basic issue: the bike lane addition was done without public hearings or public debate. In a full hearing process, I doubt these bike lanes would have gone through, because there are many more DC auto commuters who use Calvert in the AM/PM rush than there are cyclists. Under the "greatest good for the greatest number", bikes would lose. How did such a major road change get through without full public debate? What part of the city bureaucracy has been captured by the cyclist lobby? Now lets turn to the bigger issues. Someone wrote in the last issue that the neighborhood residents support bike lanes. What a joke! All you have to do is go up to Woodley to see where all the displaced traffic is. After construction is finished and the bike lanes are up, this traffic pattern (albeit at a lower volume) will continue. IMO, the remark about the neighborhood support is shortsighted and ignores the underlying beggar-thy-neighbor outcome.
Finally, arguments about putting bike lanes in to punish MD drivers, save the environment, etc. are not the least bit relevant. The first job of the DC govt. is to deal with the realities. It is not to be a nanny state, force the citizenry into preferred behavioral patterns, or get even with suburbanites. The reality of the situation is quite simple: there are orders of magnitude more cars than cyclists in the AM/PM rush. Nothing is going to change the situation. Forcing two lanes of traffic into one will make more people worse off than better off. This is unfair and, from a practical perspective, stupid. Youre not going to keep cars out of bike lanes, when they are clear, without continually diverting police resources.
Bikers and Bike Lanes
Biking is great. Everyone should bike more. We should have less cars. We should use more mass transit. Bikers have as much right to the road as drivers. The whole city should be one big, continuous bike lane. Mayor Barry should ride a bike around town and be escorted by his 30 member security staff on bicycles.
That said....my car is bigger than you and hurts more. When Im making a right turn and you come up on my right side (illegal), it is your fault (biker), not mine. I dont pull up on the right side of a car making a right turn, so you shouldnt either. Even the safest, most courteous driver who looks in his/her side view mirror before turning right may not see an approaching bicycle. If bikes are going to share the road (their right) they have to follow the rules of the road.
I am allowed to make a right on red at many intersections, including when a bicyclist is coming up on my right side. You are not allowed to run a red light on your bike. I agree that many drivers break the law. My point is, I dont want to hurt you because Ill feel really bad. And the reality is, if I hit you, you have the most to lose. Ill refrain from a tirade about the people who bike on the sidewalk. I would like to send them flying over their handlebars by sticking my umbrella in their spokes
Cyclists and Drivers
I think its really great that a lot of people bike instead of driving. I think its really appalling how many bikers flagrantly ignore traffic laws. I go out of my way to respect people on bicycles and motorcycles, since too many drivers think that these "dont count" and will practically run them off the road. But an astonishingly large percentage of bicyclists run through red lights, cut off cars, ride on the wrong side of the street, or worst of all-ride on the sidewalk. That last violation-which can easily seriously injure a pedestrian-is far more common in Washington than anywhere else Ive lived.
But I could do without cyclists sanctimony about "automobile-centric lifestyles." Does anyone think that people sit in rush hour traffic because its fun? And as for the "why are you driving, theres a Metro stop near there" comment-well, believe it or not, sometimes you have to drive past Metro stops to travel between two points that Metro doesnt connect well or at all (like my home and my office, for example).
As for the Calvert Street bike lanes-sounds like a quick fix that wont fix anything. How about a city-wide plan for a system of bike lanes that will actually make bicycles a safer and more practical alternative to cars? How about Metro trains with room for bikes so people can bike from Metro stations to locations that are too far to walk? With a little creativity I think we could find some good alternatives.
Its not about bicycles, its about process
I dont know whether traffic lanes on Calvert street should be converted to bicycles lanes. I do know that Im left with an uneasy feeling about the manner in which the decision was made.
For decisions that affect the distribution of limited resources, it is important that all parties affected should have input to the process. From the response to the "announcement" in the Dr. Gridlock column in the Post, it appears that this did not happen.
It is also important that, when changes are made to traffic patterns, the full traffic system be considered. After all, traffic pushed from one street just appears somewhere else. However, from the comments published in the Post there is no discussion of such analysis. Instead, we are told that bicycle riders applied pressure to make this happen.
I can live with a decision that I dont like, if I feel that it is a result of a fair-minded, well-considered decision process. In the case of Calvert Street, it seems to again be a case of D.C. Government as usual.
Help with Nuisance/Abandoned Properties
I dont live in Ward 3, so there are nuisance properties on my block. Recently, a group of neighbors has become interested in dealing with them. But we dont know where to begin. We are looking are looking for specific advice (names, phone numbers, strategies) for dealing with the following problems:
* Vacant city-owned properties * Vacant private property * Inhabited problem private property
Id love to hear from anyone who has dealt with these problems- successfully or unsuccessfully.
Win some Gabe Goldberg email@example.com
I received DC parking ticket last summer for expired meter, when I *knew* I wasnt overtime. I wrote an obligatory grump letter, figuring I was wasting my time and stamp.
Couple weeks ago I received letter that another ticket Id protested was valid, even though the applicable no-parking sign was bent over and facing away from street.
But today I received *two* copies of a letter in envelopes with this return address:
D.C. Department of Public Works Insurance Operations Branch
Inside, the letters are from Government of the District of Columbia Department of Public Works Bureau of Adjudication
In ALL CAPS (which Ill spare you), the letters said (in part):
We requested a meter analysis for the ticket listed below to determine whether this red meter citation should be upheld or dismissed. Our meter technicians reported that the meter under inquiry was malfunctioning prior to the time this ticket was issued.
A hearing examiner thereafter reviewed the technicians report and dismissed the infraction. We regret any inconvenience caused by the issuance of this citation.
So, aside from the nearly year to respond, duplicate letters, unsigned letters, strange envelope return address, and all caps text, its not bad. Maybe the decapitated meters were seeing were punished for keeping inaccurate time.
Takoma DC Home
Know of anyone interested in renting a 3 BR house in Takoma DC? It is available now for the summer and could be available on a longer term.
Lynn Dorman firstname.lastname@example.org
Driver wanted to take senior citizen who lives in the Sutton Place/ Cathedral Ave. area and her nurse on errands preferably every Friday morning but day of week could be negotiable. Must be a very safe careful driver with a reliable car and insurance that covers passengers, as well as the driver. Lets discuss salary. If interested, please call 202 966 4193 or email me.
Martha Bramhall MarthaBram@aol.com
WEB DESIGNER NEEDED
Web designer is needed for a simple web page design Kindly contact Mr. O Ryan at 202 6867306.
R Kemps email@example.com
House & Building History
Can you answer when people ask you about your house or building history? When it was built, who built it, who lived there, and what did they do? 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 $450 to $600 for the average DC townhouse. Call or contact us with your address for a free estimate, or visit http://www.ustreet.com/pkelsey. Many happy dc.story Customers Served! Kelsey & Associates 202-462-6251.
Paul K. Williams PkelseyW@aol.com
Buying one shouldnt be so scary. Setting one up shouldnt be so scary. Getting on the Internet shouldnt be so scary.
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