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May 18, 1997

Why Won’t You Write Me?

Dear Neighbors:

A number of new people subscribed this week. If you received this and wanted instead, please send me a note telling me to change your subscription. Make sure you tell me what list you are on (dc.story or, what list you want to be on, and your email address.


The following two messages are typical of the mail bag this week.

With all due respect to Sam Smith, whose views are always interesting but whose bleeding heart must make him feel constantly faint, these lengthy, wholesale excerpts from his "Progressive Review" should really have their own web site rather than be piggybacked onto what I thought was supposed to be a chatty newsletter. Come on Sam, talk to us, don’t read from prepared text.

Beth-Ann F. Gentile

I am one of the subscribers who criticized Sam Smith’s earlier diatribe about "police harassment"—and I don’t even live west of the park, which his latest diatribe concludes must be the source of any opinions other than his own. Anybody else out there in the same boat? (By the way, why is it that Mr. Smith is exempt from the same restrictions on length of postings that apply to other subscribers?)

Ralph Blessing

Good points all. But it won’t take long to respond. Sometimes I post messages at length because there isn’t enough material—fresh, funny, useful, or otherwise—to put together a newsletter. Sam is generous is making his material available for posting. Often, I clip excerpts to stimulate discussion. But Wednesday, we used a chunk of Sam’s newsletter because Carl and I found the well dry and we had a news hole to fill.

Over 1,100 folks subscribe to this list. But we probably have no more than 20 regular posters. I’d much prefer if several hundred of you turned in your thoughts periodically, but for some reason you don’t .So maybe now is a good time to start a discussion about why more people don’t post their thoughts. C’mon folks who never post—this is your way of being suckered in.

Are you afraid that other write better than you? (Have you read my writing?) You can’t spell? (We spell check every word and still make mistakes.)

You have nothing to say? (That’s almost the definition of a newspaper columnist.)

You can’t say what you want in two paragraphs? (We’ll weed-whack your prose.)

You don’t have time? (You have time to read this but not write two graphs?)

You’re afraid your prose won’t be selected? (Now you know it’s often slim pickings at corporate headquarters.)


Finally, let me remind you that dc.story is not intended merely to be the "Moan Zone"—though there’s nothing wrong with bitching. Your discussions about the Calvert Street bike path found their way into Washington City Paper last week— and to a wider audience.

But dc.story is also designed to collect and share local news. Folks always complain that our papers don’t cover local news very well. That may be true. Collecting and printing news is expensive. But we have an opportunity here to overcome that problem. That’s why I’m perplexed that so few folks have chimed in on some of the major local stories happening around our city.

Take West of the Park where I live. Who’s got something to say about the MacArthur Theatre/CVS battle? What’s the latest on American Law School and Spring Valley? How about the Sheraton Hotel and the Kennedy-Warren expansion plans? Why can’t someone give us a heads up that the 9:30 PM to 5 AM restrictions on Rock Creek Parkway have been lifted. (By the way, if you haven’t heard…) .Who's monitoring store churning in Georgetown and Dupont Circus? Why don’t ANC representatives from across the city clue us in (and their constituents) on the major issues their neighborhoods face?

All news, all the time. That’s what we’re looking for.


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

Jeffrey Itell


Which Side Of Rock Creek?
John Whiteside

Sam Smith describes the split between black and white Washington as "sad unnecessary," and "terribly dangerous." He’s right, but it’s more than a little hypocritical coming a few lines after he characterizes support for law enforcement as a "west of the park" (Ward 3) viewpoint.

Guess what, Mr. Smith? I live east of the park (Ward 1) and like many of my neighbors, think it’s a good idea to enforce the law. And I hardly even set foot in Ward 3? Where could I have picked up this horrible opinion?

If Smith is really concerned about divisions in DC residents, maybe he should perpetuating them.


City Manager

The city once did have an excellent city manager (under Barry, no less), and her name was (probably still is) Carol Thompson Cole. I understand she’s in the background on one of Clinton’s District advisory teams.

[She’s the White House "point person" for the District. She was a city administrator without the powers envision by Dr. Brimmer. Jeff]


Who Are You?
Suzanne Gallagher

It would be interesting in DC Story to know more about some of the regular contributors. I’ve got a pretty good picture in my mind of Ed Barron (I used to live around the corner from him, although I didn’t know him personally) with that 15 foot pole of his and his vigilante parking enforcement, but I’m curious to know about some of the others, such as Stephanie [I’ve got a million clauses in my middle name] Faul and a few others. Anyone want to confess?


Height Limits
Judi Kahn

Regarding Sam Smith’s discussion height restrictions in the district. It is my understanding these were established by congress about the time the Cairo Hotel was built; long before home rule. As such, congress could have rescinded the rules whenever they wanted.


Express Trains?
Bob Doherty

Have other dc.story readers been experiencing problems with so-called metro "express" trains? On three different occasions in the past few weeks, I boarded red line trains that ended up skipping several stops on the line—with little or no advance notice:

May 14: I boarded a train from tenleytown with my two young children, with the intent of dropping them off at a pre-school near woodley park. At Cleveland park, the train "driver" announced that the train would be proceeding directly to Dupont circle—skipping woodley park. This forced us to "off-load" from the train and wait for another train—no easy matter with young children.

May 12: I boarded a train at farragut at about 5 p.m. After stopping at Cleveland park, the train then proceeded directly to Bethesda—skipping van ness udc, tenleytown, and friendship heights. I and others on the train never heard an announcement. This cost me a half hour of commuting time—and caused me to miss most of my son’s little league game.

A few weeks ago, my wife similarly had an experience where she boarded at tenleytown with our two pre-schoolers—the train skipped woodley park and proceeded directly to Dupont circle. The fact that the train would be skipping woodley park was not announced until the train arrived at Cleveland park—by the time my wife understood what they were saying (this being totally unexpected based on twenty years of riding metro) the train had departed—forcing her and my children to exit at Dupont circle and backtrack. What bothers me most about these instances is that it undermines metro’s reputation for reliability: I can no longer count on every train to stop at every station on a particular line. Causing people to switch trains unnecessarily is a particular hassle for travelers with young children and disabled individuals, and it must make an already confusing system even more so for tourists and elderly people. (Many tourists who aren’t native English speakers may not even understand the announcements). The extra transfer usually means giving up a seat on the original train and boarding one that is extremely crowded. I also get the impression that the purpose of the new policy is to speed up commuting time for suburbanites—at the expense of those of us who live in the city. Finally, if metro is going to have "express" trains, shouldn’t they tell us that a train is express—that is, what stops it will be missing—before we even board it?

I’d be interested in hearing from other readers of dc story whether you have had similar problems—and if you agree with my assessment. If so, I urge you to complain to metro (202-637-1328) and to Dr. Gridlock, the Washington post’s commuter columnist.


Real Estate on the Net
Nick Keenan

I spoke with someone in the Mayor’s office who swore up and down that there is a site on the Internet where you can access property records for the District. He claimed that if you put in the address, the site would tell you the name and address of the owner, and list all current liens. However, he was unable to tell me the URL. I have searched high and low, but not found anything even remotely resembling such a site. Does anyone know of such a thing? Or is it just another example of misinformation from the city government?


For an example of city services at their finest, visit the DC Public Library web site at <>

Nick Keenan


Leila Afzal (And no I am not related to Ms. Patterson.)

I would like to publicly thank Kathy Patterson for the unbelievable job she has been doing on the Council. I do believe she was one of the instrumental people who helped save the Hearst School from closing. I also read that she had funding for school nurses restored in the budget. And then she even had time for constituent services in helping obtain my real property tax bill. With all the problems DC had with trying to correctly bill residents, it managed not to bill me at all. I knew if I didn’t track the bill down, it would return to haunt me. I am sure that Ms. Patterson’s staff prodding the Real Property office, finally led to a bill in mid-April, with no penalty. (I did manage to get a reprint prior to receiving my original bill, but it was nice to see Ms. Patterson’s staff following up on my call.)



Feral Cats

Does anyone have recommendations of what to do or what person or group to contact for help in capturing two feral cats who have been living outdoors near us? This needs to be done ASAP - the "mama feral" has already had two litters - all but one have been captured as kittens, but we have not been able to get her, and that other kitten, now adolescent.

Bonny Cochran


Moving Companies

And another thing...I hope and plan to be moving - locally - this summer. Any recommendations about moving companies or other details would be appreciated. Bonny Cochran


Biking Partner Wanted

If there is anyone interested in mountain biking in the suburban Maryland area (I-270 corridor), or in road riding around DC, Rock Creek, etc., let’s get together. Information is also available for group rates to Whitetail.

Jeff Lins



Don’t forget to bring your recyclables to the John Eaton Elementary School on Saturday mornings from 10:00 - 12:00. It is located at 34th and Lowell Streets, NW. You may bring plastic, aluminum, glass, and newspapers. No phone books please.

Leila Afzal



Buying one shouldn’t be so scary. Setting one up shouldn’t be so scary. Getting on the Internet shouldn’t be so scary.

Jeffrey Itell 202.244.4163


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