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June 22, 1997

Wallowing in Watergate

Dear Neighbors:

This issue we "celebrate" the Watergate anniversary. Many "pointy-headed" liberals were inspired to move to DC by JFK’s idealism. But younger folks like me migrated merely to gloat in Nixon’s humiliation. My ardor may have tempered with time, but I remember being glued to the television set during the summer of "73 watching the best damn drama unfold...and wondering if the sonovabitch was going to get away with it. The drama unfolded slowly but persistently—much like the Fischer/Spassky chess championship the summer (or summers?) before. Dean testified in June (I believe) and the spin was whether he could prove what he said. There was also the Butterfield revelations of Nixon’s taping system—the WHAT!!! And then finally the Germans—Halderman and Ehrlichman—thrown overboard from Nixon’s sinking ship and pleading for their lives. Throw in Vietnam and the aftermath of the sixties, and one can begin to understand the malaise of the 1970s. So that’s another thing we can blame Nixon for—Disco music.


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Patterson News Update
Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Councilmember

Here are a few stories you haven’t read in the Post lately:

1. The cup-half-full version of the recent control board/Council budget debate, as contrasted with the Post’s cup-half-empty. I’ll ignore the paper’s factual errors and just hit highlights. There is actually more consensus achieved between Authority and Council than in the previous two budget cycles. The Council and the control board achieved consensus on:

—A balanced budget for FY 98, a year earlier than required by law.

—Avoiding unallocated spending cuts — an agreement made in principle and honored in practice.

—A budget based on dollars, not "full time equivalent" positions.

—Priorities accorded public schools and public safety. Both Council and Authority increased the mayor’s mark for schools and police. The Authority approved more for schools than did the Council; the Council approved more than the Authority for police.

—Scrutiny and reductions in mayoral "detailees." The Council, for example, zeroed out four of the six detailees at the Department of Employment Services; the Authority zeroed out the two remaining.

—The Authority accepted the Council’s spending reductions in targeted areas including locally-funded job training, and accepted the Council’s modest increases in small agencies hard-hit by recent cuts including the Board of Elections and Ethics.

2. The "executive pay package" the Council approved Tuesday that will enable the city to recruit a medical examiner, human services chief, procurement officer, etc., at more competitive salary levels, included a provision that requires any current Council-confirmed cabinet member to come back by the Council before getting higher pay. This provision, opposed by the mayor, was finally agreed to when it was made clear that the Council wouldn’t enact the bill without it. It’s another check on executives who may not be performing, and a way for the Council to exert pressure to — maybe — get better performance.

3. See the Northwest Current for the story about the Council giving the new schools folks — and facilities chief Chuck Williams in particular — a vote of no confidence in not approving a badly flawed facilities plan. (I erred in a recent quote in the Current — I called the plan a flawed piece of garbage. I meant to say it was a piece of garbage and badly flawed.)

4. At the urging of the Council’s Government Operations Committee, the Department of Employment Services finally filed suit against a few deadbeat employers for not paying their unemployment compensation taxes. Leading the list: a company led by Roy Littlejohn that owes the city’s UC fund nearly $1 million in back taxes, penalties, and interest. The mayor announced the action at a press conference but apparently didn’t give details.

5. The chief financial officer is moving forward, we understand, in negotiating with the Internal Revenue Service to assist in collecting DC taxes. Notwithstanding newspaper reports that indicate this item was "dropped" from the Davis bill. The IRS piece does not require legislation. The IRS already works with other states — one of the Dakotas, Vermont, a third I can’t recall — on tax collection.

6. Something occurred between last Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning to prompt the Financial Authority to increase its final budget mark for D.C. Public Schools. When we met with Authority members they’d pegged the number at $453 million — considerably below the $472 million this year and lower than the Council’s mark at, I think, $460-something. It was the big surprise of the meeting. Then, Thursday morning before releasing anything to press — which was delayed some 45 minutes — the authority’s number had grown to $461 million plus $8 million in short-term lease money out of the local funds part of the budget. Rumor du jour: that General Becton threatened to walk if the Authority didn’t raise his budget mark. I’m sort of hoping this is true. I’d like this in a schools chief.


Watergate Wallowing
Steph "This was before word processors, so whenever I wrote a letter I signed the typist’s initials as ‘sh’ for ‘Sally Harmony,’ because she knew how to keep her mouth shut" Faul

I was reading the Washington Post one morning and there was a little item on the inside about a burglary at the Democratic headquarters. I turned to my house mate (I was in the "Group House" stage of life at that time) and said, "The Republicans must have done it. Who else would bother?" Looks like I was right.

I also remember that during the hearings you could find a television *anywhere*. Every Korean carry-out, every customer service desk, every office break room had a TV in it, all turned to the same show. In its way Watergate was an enormously unifying experience.

After the whole mess had been going on for a while there was a big story about archaeology on the front page, above the fold. "Golly," I thought. "I like archaeology a lot, but this looks funny. They must have been saving the space for something that didn’t happen." The next day, Nixon resigned.


A Sort Of Watergate-related Memory
Jean Lawrence

You asked for memories of Watergate. I dated Carl Bernstein pre-Watergate (like half the other young ladies in DC). So I was amused some years later when a Post reporter told me that when Dustin Hoffman was researching the part of Carl for ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, Hoffman went around the newsroom, a la Carl, coming up to people and saying, "Give me a dollar."… "Thanks." People invariably, my friend says, reached in their pockets and handed Dustin Hoffman a dollar. Carl, wherever you are, I guess there’s a chance you’ll see this.


Watergate Nostalgia
Suzanne Gallagher

I hadn’t been out of my nappies all that long when Watergate burst upon the scene, however I do clearly recall the official line in one Upstate New York household — that evil Washington Post was out to get the president. [That evil Washington Post is my favorite newspaper, by the way.]


I Remember Nixon; And, Jazz 90 — Don’t Do It!
Connie Ridgway

In the summer of ‘73 I had just graduated from high school and had my first full summer job—working as a maid in the Holiday Inn. It happened to be the one that many of the rock groups stayed in when they came to town (no, not DC—in the Pittsburgh area), so I got to see the more sloppy sides of Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire. But the most lingering memory is that I would immediately turn on the TV in every room to watch the Watergate hearings. I was riveted. It was the most intense drama, even with all of the legalese.

A year later, I was at Virginia Beach as a camp counselor. And the night Nixon resigned, we were all there, awestruck that we were living through a sad and somehow exhilarating time in history.

Tonight as I listened to Daniel Schorr narrate Nixon’s last manipulations before he resigned, I found myself getting emotional, and 25 years later, more compassionate toward Mr. Nixon. Yet also I was relieved that the injustice he perpetrated was revealed, stopped and righted. I am proud that our system has maintained its balance of power, despite its slow-turning wheels.

Now on to more current troubles: I listen to Jazz 90 all the time, and I’m very upset about its demise. The jazz is great, and the gospel music too. Someone please take on the cause! It doesn’t deserve to die.


Jazz 90: Final Gig
Gordon Glaza

The loss of Jazz 90 (on the FM dial at 90.1) is an immeasurable setback for life in DC. The quality of their programming was consistently high, considering the junk being played on the rest of the spectrum. And Jazz 90 always did a good job reflecting the diversity of this city. The artists we hear on their programs are from the scattered towns or faraway countries we all came from before moving here. Jazz was the unifying element.

Perhaps other local stations can pick up some of the programming and radio talent left behind by Jazz 90. The audience is still here. I don’t know the details of the shutdown, but they certainly could have benefited from the aggressive fundraising approach cultivated by WETA. As listeners, we will need to remind the surviving broadcasters that jazz is still one of the best ways to unite this city.


WDCU: Going, going, gone . . . .

Yes, indeed, there is much heartburn in the jazz community about the demise of WDCU — something I predicted several months ago in dc.story. Unfortunately, jazz fans are not so tightly wound that they are wont to organize protests against the sale. And according to the Post, that wouldn’t have made much difference anyway. Obviously it is an attractive frequency since it is going to bring in more than $10 million to UDC.

Equally unfortunate is the fate of the WDCU jazz library, consisting of thousands of CDs and valuable vinyl albums, many from the vast collection of the longtime DC jazz announcer Felix Grant, who died several years ago and bequeathed all his records to the station.

The new station owners — a religious syndicate — will probably let these albums go at a fire sale, or remainder them to a used record store. What a loss.


Stephanie Faul

As to Bethesda having more restaurants per square mile than any other place in the world: Oh, please. The *world*? More than the equivalent districts in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Toronto, etc. etc.? As they say in Soho: Not bloody likely.


Jamie Treworgy

In response to "Garbage pickup? Rubbish!"… As far as I know the formal policy is not to pick up bulk trash, which I think includes anything outside your garbage can. There is now bulk trash pickup on request from the city… according to a note from the Mt. Pleasant list, "the city will pick up small appliances, loose material in cans or bags, and bundles of tree limbs or other wood in bundles four feet long or less, and all weighing less than 60 pounds at the regular pickup." However you must call 727-4600 first to schedule the pickup, you can’t just put it out.nsfer Station and is open until noon on Saturdays.


More Rubbish
Nick Keenan

To be picked up, it must be household trash (i.e. no yard waste or construction debris). It must be in a bag or a can of non-extraordinary size. The container must weigh less than 40 lbs.

That said, the sanitation workers will often pick up non-conforming trash out of the goodness of their hearts. Some tips I have learned:

- If you have A LOT of non-conforming trash, don’t put it out all at once. They’re more likely to take it if it seems like a small deal. I know someone who got rid of 700 lbs of bricks that way, one shopping bag at a time.

- They are more likely to take non-conforming stuff on the second pickup of the week. I think this is because most people spend the weekend producing trash one way or another (cleaning, partying). So early in the week it’s all they can do just to get all of the legitimate trash in one trip. Later in the week the load is lighter, and they are in a better mood because it’s almost the weekend.

- Make it easy on them. Keep your bundles reasonably small, and your bags reasonably light.

- If at first you don’t succeed… Persistence pays. I have had success putting the same package out garbage day after garbage day, and eventually it disappears.

If you have something that you need to get rid of right away, or you know they’re never going to take, the best thing is a trip to Fort Totten. It’s free for DC residents with non-commercial vehicles, and surprisingly convenient and quick. The facility is open until 4pm on weekdays, and until 2pm on Saturdays. Go early in the day on Saturday to avoid a line. The downside is you need a car or other vehicle (well, there is a Fort Totten metro station...)


Jane Pettit

The last I heard, DC garbage crews didn’t pick up any yard work or contruction-type trash. However, mine is usually picked up. I thought maybe the guys recognize my back gate as one that belongs to a gift-giver at holiday time. I recommend chocolate.


Bulk Trash Pickup in DC
Phil Shapiro

On the subject of bulk trash pickup in DC, a real life incident I had in trying to dispose of some bulk trash prompted me to write an amusing children’s story on the subject. Life’s little travails are always worthy of some chuckles. :-)


Heading For the Hills
Nensi Mabrey

Well, we have finally done the very thing that I have criticized others for doing...we are moving out of the District that I love, into Virginia. This move would be okay, as we are purchasing a much larger home in a neighborhood that I happen to love, second only to my neighborhood in the District. But, you see, there is a problem, we would have preferred to remain in the District for many reasons—where else can you be flanked by a Senator who helps dig out your car so you can get to work during a snow storm on one side and a low-income ethnic family that includes 4 non-working adults that share the most incredible home cooked meals and house sit while I am out of town.

The fact is, we sold out, we were no longer willing to live with the substandard city services that have become so commonplace in our great neighborhoods. Furthermore, we realized that due to the threat of serious crime, we felt compelled to drastically limit the areas that we would consider moving and buying into. Also, should hizzoner get reelected, who knows in what new and innovative way he would extract more money from homeowners.

Why didn’t we stay and fight you ask? Well, we feel that we did. We stayed for four years in a neighborhood that is eclectic at best and unsafe at worst. We made sure to vote in every election, we got actively involved in volunteer projects, election efforts of those that we felt could improve the quality of life, by purchasing locally whenever possible, and most importatnly, by constantly championing the opportunities and favorables of living in the district to residents and non-residents alike. But after living in an area where tax dollars and other fees go to support programs that the community has come to rely, where we don’t have more meter maids than police and where well- funded training programs after three years and millions of dollars do actually train and help some people. I also know that should the need ever arise that I may need the services of the police for a minor incident, I know that they will respond within far less than 72 hours as has been the case in the District, as our police are understaffed, overworked and underpaid and are understandably handling much more serious crimes than the theft of a car or home break-in. And, in Virginia, as a law-abiding resident I can purchase a firearm for self-defense, while in the District, the only ones with firearms are the hardened criminals and the understaffed police that cannot possibly do preventative work.

Who knows, perhaps we will find that we so miss the Russian Roulette of having our trash picked up with any degree of regularity that we come running back home.


Literature Lovers

Applications of story, myth, journal, autobiography, poetry to personal and professional growth. "Intensive Workshop" July 18-21. "Creativity and Aging", with Dr. Gene Cohen, Sept. 26-28. For information Dr. Ken Gorelick, (202)232-4338.

Ken Gorelick


On Wednesday, June 25, at 7:00p.m., Representative Phil English will address the Young Jewish Leadership PAC regarding recent developments in the U.S.-Israel relationship. This event will be a fine opportunity to meet with a good friend of the organization and of the State of Israel. Unfortunately, space is once again limited, so please R.S.V.P. as soon as possible if you would like to attend. Preference will be given to members and contributors. For more information and to R.S.V.P., please reply to this email or call Ken Marcus at 202/342-7679.

Ken Marcus


Nuisance Properties Public Meeting

The DC Government has formed a task force to address the problem of nuisance properties. The task force is currently focusing on Ward Two. There will be a public meeting on Monday, June 23, at 6:30 pm, at Scripture Cathedral church (corner of 9th and O, NW). Questions about the task force can be addressed to the office of Jack Evans, (202) 724-8058.

Nick Keenan


Recall Barry Movement

The Recall Barry movement is up & running. This cause is too important leave for someone else to do, we need everyone’s help. 35,000 valid signatures of registered voters by October is the task before us, and the mayor has already chased many of those who were registered in ‘94 across the border. To obtain petitions or volunteer call Sandra Seegars at 561-6616 or Mike Burns at 546-4287 (both DC #’s) .If you want to register to vote you can do so (we have the forms) then sign the petition afterwards. Please don’t reply by e-mail for now, we’re working on obtaining a permanent address.

Sandra Seegars


House Cleaner

Am seeking a reliable, careful house cleaner to start in Sept, every other week. Have 4 beds, 2 baths, 2 cats and a dog. Located NW, in Shepherd Park. Until Sept our # is (301)421-0188.

Elizabeth M Wulkan


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