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June 9, 1997

Student Ghetto

Dear Neighbors:

I think I’ve figured out Rock Creek Parkway Roulette. The Parkway is closed 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 am when construction teams are working on the bridge over Massachusetts Avenue. How do we know when they are working? See the word roulette. Traffic mismanagers have created a detour for those going north. You exit and cross over Massachusetts Avenue and reenter Rock Creek Parkway via the service exit. The roads a bit bumpy. I saw an aircraft carrier lost in one of the craters. I don’t believe there is an elegant solution going south. Construction traffic managers are a wee bit lax, however. Last night, the "We’re Closed" sign was posted but the road was open. I expected to hit one of those painted walls the coyote often hit in the roadrunner cartoons. But I’m alive to post this note this morning.

All in all, I believe there’s too much certainty in our lives. Don’t you? Don’t the highway engineers?


Amanda Ripley, Assistant Editor of Washington City Paper, is seeking your help for a story.

We are in search of examples of zero tolerance policing. We are not looking for opinions, just incidents. Please send your stories to, as soon as possible, including your name and phone number. Thank you for helping us cover this issue.

Amanda Ripley


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Jeffrey Itell


Student Ghetto
Stephanie Mencimer

Why don’t you take up the Georgetown overlay issue? I’m sure you’ve heard that people like Westy Byrd and the Burleith Citizens Association are trying to get the office of planning to outlaw group houses in the neighborhoods around Georgetown University, which they’ve deemed a student ghetto. The zoning overlay would ban more than three unrelated people from living together in the same house. The overlay extends to Foxhall Village, where the houses are certainly big enough to house more than three people. I’m not sure the overlay would hold up in court, but it’s being supported by Jack Evans and apparently Mayor Barry as well. Students are rightfully pissed off that they are being targeted and their cheap housing options diminished. They also argue that more students will move to Dupont Circle—where they can get a zone 2 parking sticker—and then drive to class everyday, thereby clogging up parking in Georgetown further.


Weenie of the Week
Phil Greene

It doesn’t surprise me that Channel 9 (WUSA, owned by Gannett) has bagged the Glenn Brenner Run. Several months ago, while doing a trademark search, I discovered (and then reported it to a friend at the Post, which ran a story on it), that Gannet had filed to register "Weenie of the Week" as a Federal trademark, in spite of the fact that it’s creator, the late great Glenn Brenner, was deceased. So Gannet can pick at Glenn’s bones, but they won’t continue a worthy event in his honor. And you wonder why Maureen Bunyan left.


Sidewalk Deals
Randy Wells

Carl Bergman notes the fact that the Federal Government owns DC streets. This is not a "however" in response to Leila Afzal’s lament on DC being a colony—its a case and point. Just another example of trumping locals in negotiations—make things a fait accompli, and what’s to discuss?

Okay, here is my positive suggestion. DC Council created a downtown parking authority a couple of years ago. Only problem: no bond authority accompanied its creation. So lets make a deal, Uncle Sam. Give us bonding authority, chip in a small revenue stream to help pay the bonds, and lets start building some municipal parking. With MCI Center, Opera House, new Convention Center, and GSA tossing out curbside parking, we need it.

My motto: making driving a hassle, but parking easy.

PS—Getting unexpectedly outed has sent me to the Catskills to begin my 1000+ page autobiography. Fortunately, when completed around 2040, it will be too lengthy to post on dc.story.


The "Malling" Of Friendship Heights
Larry Seftor

We are starting to hear a little about Montgomery County’s strong desire to take advantage of the Friendship Heights Metro stop. In simple terms, this means build as much as possible near the Metro stop, and then collect taxes.

Since my house is in this area, I see the area getting trashed (see Ballston, for example) with the revenue from the taxes going North to Montgomery County. In other words, this is all pain and no benefit.

I know this will occur sometime in the future, but the picture is nasty enough that I’m getting concerned now. I’d be interested to hear whether anyone else in this area has any similar concerns.


Vehicle Tags
Damian Buckley

Just recently there are a number of vehicle tags that begin with AA and are followed by four numbers, ie AA 1234. Only fairly recently the DC Public Works were issuing plates that were in the 860000's. What happened? did we suddenly run out of numbers, not enough were regurgitated? What happened to the 900,000 numbers?


Metro Hours
Mary Buckles

Having just returned from Paris I can confirm that the Paris Metro shuts down sometime after 1 am.


Oh Heck
Michael Stempel

I went to Hechinger’s last weekend, during their sale, and given my frustration with the experience, and Junior’s raise I can honestly say I will go out of my way to shop there again. I have tried to give my money to local businesses, but my time is worth something too. Untrained cashiers, few staff in the isles, and no help loading my car… I will drive the extra miles to Home Depot next time.


Heck Again
Steph "Never buy an old house" Faul

Ask anyone who lives around Tenley Circle and shops at Hechinger’s — most will tell you they’ve finally given up and started driving out to Strosnider’s or Home Depot. The place is not quite a disaster area, but close, and a big part of the problem seems to be employee-related. Not that I blame the employees themselves — they’re obviously poorly trained and almost completely unmotivated. Here are a few of the many stories I’ve heard or experienced:

I made an appointment with a "kitchen counselor" to plan for cabinets. At the first appointment he wasn’t there and didn’t show up for 15 minutes, so I left a card and a note on his desk. He never called me back. I found a second counselor, who told me he couldn’t plan a kitchen for me because a kitchen has to have at least 8 feet of space, and mine is only 6 ½ feet wide. Compare this with the Home Depot counselor, who came up with a creative way to plan the exact same kitchen so it feels bigger.

A handyman I know was parked on the roof and tried to leave, but there was nobody there to take his ticket. He left his truck and told an employee in the store about the situation. "He’s on his break and will be back in a minute," was the answer. After about five or ten minutes, with car horns blowing behind him and a line forming, the handyman finally drove through the barrier, breaking it off, and let everyone out of the lot.

Another friend went to shop for a new screen door. There was nobody in the door department, nobody who knew anything about any of the doors or could explain the differences in price and quality, and nobody who would help her carry the door to her car. So she left and went out to Home Depot. I had a similar experience when it came to buying windows, although when I went out to Home Depot they were just as bad. (I ended up at ABC Lumber, in Shirlington, with a *wonderful* man named Bob, if any of you need windows.)

These problems all look to me like bad management. Hechinger’s can change its product mix all it wants, but until it becomes customer-oriented it’s going to stay in the red.


Selling Cigarettes
E. James Lieberman, M.D.

The item about John Hechinger Sr. ending the sale of guns at his store after the JFK assassination reminds me to ask: Does anyone know of a grocery chain ready to say they will no longer sell cigarettes? I would like to see this happen, and realize it will happen only if the store loses no money. While smokers (maybe 1/3 of shoppers?) might object (not all of them would), many non-smokers would "change brands" of grocery chain in response. What would the PR impact be worth? How much do groceries realize from cigarette sales?

BTW: Three members of the Board of Citicorp, my favorite bank, are on Boards of major cigarette companies, including the Citicorp CEO, who did not answer my query on the subject until pressed by Board member Richard Parsons, who did respond to my letter quite promptly. Parsons is the top man at Time Warner. Why is Citicorp so tightly tied to tobacco? I guess the cancer kings have to keep their money somewhere.


Snow Retort
Martha Saccocio MarthaNS

I feel I must respond to Larry Seftor’s attack on my attempt to share information to my fellow residents regarding snow removal funds and options for recycling. First the snow removal funds: I was simply imparting the information I had been given by Council Member Patterson’s office. As for the recycling program, I did not "propose" or even endorse the idea of "citizens paying for their own recycling" (although that’s not a bad idea, now that he mentions it — but that is a separate and longer discussion). I was merely informing residents of their options. I take exception at the suggestion that I was "encouraging the failure of the local government..." Let’s all try to be a little more responsible with our words, shall we???


GSA and Terror

Sandy Barsky

I do not view it as arrogance that the GSA should choose to curtail street parking in front of certain federal government office buildings. Instead I understand that the GSA is in a sad position of having to be proactive to avoid catastrophes such as the infamous bombing of the muira building in Oklahoma. The GSA is destined to be damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t in its efforts to protect the properties that it manages. Would we as citizens rather be counting lost parking revenues or victims of a terrorist act? I’d prefer that the GSA reimburse the district for the lost revenue and act in a responsible manner in how and when it chooses to manage the security of buildings for which the agency is responsible.


The Bell Rings
Ed T. Barron

Congress rang the bell again yesterday. Did anybody hear it? Is anybody listening? The message, once again is very clear - Congress will not step into help the District of Columbia until Barry is gone or his power as Mayor is taken away. Lest anybody be foolish enough to say we should wait until the next election, just remember what hizzoner said yesterday " I like being Mayor" .Barry will run again and easily be elected.

Once again, it is most clear that if the District is ever to get the badly needed help it needs from Congress then that must come about by having a credible City Manager appointed by the Control Board and stripping all but the ceremonial duties from the Mayor’s responsibilities. In two years the salary for the job as Mayor can be reduced to what is appropriate for that ceremonial post. Wake up and smell the roses. Congress has rung the bell again.


Successful & Painless Appeal of Property Tax Assessment
Paul Michael Brown

In April I wrote requesting the form needed to file an appeal of the property tax assessment on my condo. They sent it to me in two days. The form was quite simple to fill out. In my particular case, I argued that the assessed value should be reduced because it was about 25 percent more than the price I had paid for the condo last spring. I backed this up with a copy of my settlement sheet. I filed my appeal on April 30 and my case came on for a hearing on June 4. The folks at the Board of Real Property Assessment Appeals were as polite as they could be in greeting me and telling me where to go. About 30 minutes before my scheduled hearing time, the Chairman of the panel hearing my appeal found me in the waiting room. "Do you want to save some time?" he asked. This was a question I don’t normally hear from city functionaries.

He told me that the city had looked at the records I submitted and — get this — the city agreed my assessment should be lower. We then went "on the record" for maybe 90 seconds and I signed on the dotted line. Total time invested: 20 minutes to request the forms, 30 minutes to fill them out and 45 minutes to attend the hearing. Granted, you could argue that the city never should have over-assessed my condo in the first place. And the minions who do the paperwork could still foul it up. But I thought it worth noting that some parts of the system appear to be working well.


Is DC Ok???? Are You Ok?
Bob King

I assume Larry Seftor’s "if you are still in DC, you must like DC government" non sequitur was designed to provoke a response. It worked for me.

Washington is a beautiful city. To use an old expression, it is the "Seat of Government" of a great country with attendant power, splendor, history, and cultural attractions. It is certainly a great place to visit. It should be a great place to live. DC government, however, has nothing to do with making Washington great. I, personally know no one who points with pride to anything dc government is responsible for. In fact, if dc government does anything really well, it would be so overshadowed by the public failures no one would notice.

I, personally, don’t expect much from dc and they more or less satisfy my minimal needs. They collect my trash like clockwork but occasionally ignore my bagged leaves in fall. They deliver water (generally unpolluted) from the Corps of Engineers and dispose of my sewage down river. The police respond on the rare occasions they are needed as do the fire department although I can’t remember the last time they were needed for a residential fire in Chevy Chase. They should leave the emergency medical problems to Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, since BCC is fast, efficient, free, and don’t bring along a fire truck along just to scare hell out of the neighbors. DC is much too good at relieving me of large portions of my income, but I will grouse about that another time.



Tire-destroying Potholes

Some time ago there was a posting about the city reimbursing some for tire-destroying potholes. I didn’t think I’d ever need the information and did not save it, since I thought I knew where every danger lurked. Never-the-less, now I could use the information if someone recalls it.

Bernie Arons


Seeking Recommendations For Leased Line ISPs

I am seeking recommendations for local ISPs providing high speed leased line Internet access. My Silver Spring based office needs to get wired soon and any comments or experiences (good or bad) people have had with local providers would be very helpful. If anyone has any general advice I’d love to hear that too! We’re only interested in leased line service. I’m not concerned with dial up or any other non-full-time service. Thanks for any comments - please email directly to me, I’d be happy to summarize for the mailing list if I get a lot of feedback.

James A. Treworgy



It’s spring, and even classical music groups feel the need to kick up their heels a bit. The Palestrina Choir is known as one of DC’s premier early music groups, but director Michael Harrison is giving his singers (many of whom have other musical lives in opera and other venues) a chance to bust loose in some romantic, late-19th-century Viennese religious fervor. Come hear the music of Josef Rheinberger at 8 PM on Saturday, June 7, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2430 K Street NW, near the Foggy Bottom metro station.

Francine Krasowska


Child Care

Loving, experienced and reliable nanny available to care for your child in your home. Light house cleaning. Spanish-speaking. Excellent references. $250 per week. Call Rosemary 703-641-5666 (evenings).

Meg Murray


Car For Sale

1991 Acura LS Integra for sale. Dark red, 2 door, 5 speed, sunroof, power windows, cruise control, and only 52,000 miles!!! Excellent condition. Selling for $8,300 or best offer.

Matt Tumminello



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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