Washingtons controversial Mayor Marion Barry said Saturday the streets of the nations capital were the safest in the United States and blamed the media for portraying the city as crime-ridden, rundown and traffic-choked. "It is safe or safer than Topeka, Kansas, he declared during an interview on the CNN program "Evans and Novak."
Janet Dodd (firstname.lastname@example.org) reports: My 12-year-old son goes to tennis camp. When it rains, the kids are bussed to indoor courts. On July 2, he was bussed to East Potomac, where he saw none other than the mayor playing tennis all morning. There were cops and security guys all over the place. Gosh, does he have nothing to do? Has he really been stripped of all his duties?
Mayor Barry has vociferously complained about reductions in his security detail, claiming that a level of Praetorian protection deemed appropriate for other mayors would endanger him.
Mayor Rudolph Guilliani of New York knows his precinct captains by name and doesnt hesitate to call them when he sees something out of line.
Starbucks....the latest (but not the last, I fear) of DC tragedies.
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Marion IVs Political Principles
Even a charmed life has to take it in the shorts now and then. Example: Marion IVs claim on CNNs Evans and Novak that dcs streets are the safest in the nation. This audacious, and easily disproved, assertion was a typical performance. Typical does not mean either mindless or foolish. The CNN interview followed a consistent and thoughtful strategy. Its purpose was to make news, keep up his presence as a national figure - even if its negative. Most of all it follows his campaign principal make yourself, rather than an your performance, the center of attention.
Reuters bit and ran a story recycling the interview. Only the horrid Starbucks slayings quickly reframed the issue back on urban crime and away from him. This was an exception. Most of the time he succeeds making himself, rather than an issue, the center of attention. Look at recent issues hes pushed, capital punishment for cop killers, taxicabs, city contracts for city businesses. None of these were pressing public issues. None really has a great chance and none are seriously pursued - except at press conferences. Each, however, lets Barry go on at great length, gets ink, talk show coverage, etc. Most of all these divert attention from city government performance and problems.
To make himself the center of attention, Marion IV follows a set of rather firm principles that aid in denying responsibility while claiming as much credit as possible. Certainly, his is not alone in applying these principals, but he as did our other mayors, Marion I, III and III, has perfected them. Reduced to their essentials they are:
1. Deny Everything. If a quote or action embarrasses, deny it, e.g., Get over it.
2. Admit Everything. Pressed for why you did nothing on ambulance service, personnel systems, foster care, or public housing say things were bad back then under Marion I, II or III. You werent focus on it then, but now you are. No facts, no agendas, no issues, no plans, just now youre focused.
3. Just Kidding. Attack an opponent for something, like sending their kid to a private school. Pound on it. Get caught doing the same. Hypocritical? Not the least, it was just politics.
4. Use Race. Most politicos would steer away, but you have a great method. Dont accuse someone of being a racist, just say they are insensitive, but make sure you only use this on people whore white. You dont trot this one out often, but youve been using it since the first home rule election. If pressed, use rule one.
5. Recite Mantra. Sum up all things into a simple, repeatable phrase. Redemption, redemption was great last time. Transformation, transformation may be next.
6. Use Class. Paint your same race opponent as from the wrong class or caste. You did a great job on Pat Harris making her accomplishments look like she was a sell out. If that didnt get the point across, having Ivanhoe Donaldson go around claiming your were the black candidate did.
7. Forget the Rules. Your opponents are boy scouts. Theyre aware of the rules and generally follow them. Nonsense. Use city buses to bring supporters to a rally. No big deal. Get contribution from your appointees. Doesnt everyone. Forget to file campaign reports, or file them incomplete. Pay a small fine. Hit up city contractors for contributions. This is how the big boys work. See rule one.
8. Out Factem . Its a rare reporter who challenges your facts. More rare one who checks them out. Facts make you sound in charge. Facts make you sound knowledgeable. Spewem out. Real or imagined. We have four hundred thousand commuters coming into dc everyday. Our economy is up six percent over last year. Crime is down by three hundred major crimes a month. Who knows, who cares. Make a mistake. See rule one.
9. Blameem .When pressed on an issue, blame one or more of the following: Congress, courts, Tony Williams, council, control board, Eleanor Norton, Sharon Pratt Dixon, Sharon Pratt Kelly, Andrew Brimmer, us attorney, grand jury, traffic lights, Virginia, Maryland, metro, crime, commuters, Ward 3, Washington Post, media, federal payment, Walter Fauntroy, Walter Washington, John Walter Hechinger, Walter Tobriner, Walter Winchell, commuter tax, senator or representative ___________, white house, OMB, home rule, supreme court, court appointed master, school board, school trustees, or Hale Bob.
Jeffs revelation about the budgeting process in D.C. is frightening. Its no wonder there is no accountability. There is no visibility. With budgeting down to the Department level only, there is no way to evaluate the cost effectiveness (or lack thereof) of any of the programs or projects being conducted within any Department. Most organizations define budgets by program or project ad break out the budgets into manhours, travel, materials, etc a very detailed level.
I have worked with two organizations where the Department budgets were developed by a team with representatives from each of the departments. This approach is very constructive and results in cooperation instead of competition between departments and a greater understanding about the needs of each of the departments. In the old days some would consider this anarchy. In todays enlightened organizations the buzz word for this is empowerment. It works. If D.C. is ever to gain control of the finances in the city they will have to fix a badly flawed budgeting process.
7th Street Open, Closed, Up And Down
It is now a regular event for 7th Street to be closed briefly during morning and evening rush hour so that heavy machinery can go in and out of the construction site for the new MCI arena. This is pretty intolerable its a major commuter route but I dont care because I dont drive. However, when my girlfriend and I were walking to work down 7th Street this morning, the sidewalks on both sides were closed due to construction. We walked in the street, which was a problem since only two lanes are open, so pedestrians and cars had to take turns.
When the arena was proposed, we were promised up and down that the construction of the arena would be carefully managed to have the absolute minimum effect on traffic on 7th Street. Only one sidewalk and the curb parking lane would be closed, so that pedestrian and automobile traffic would flow smoothly. However, as the project has slipped further behind schedule and budget, those promises have gone out the window, and the construction site has taken over bigger and bigger pieces of public space on 7th Street.
Now the city is proposing a new convention center at Mount Vernon Square about three blocks north along 7th Street from the new MCI arena. There is fierce opposition in the neighborhood; residents are concerned about the traffic and disruption a major project like this could bring. The citys response: "Trust Us." One only has to look about three blocks south to see why such trust could be misplaced.
Against The Embattled Farmers Rode
I suggested last week that city officials might have a tiny responsibly for making the District unlivable. Now I find myself joined with General B. Arnold to ride against Paul Revere, the embattled farmers and General Washington, all the while torching Tom Jeffersons writings and the constitution. Such a heady experience. Despite the antithetical polemics, it is highly unlikely additional self governing authority will be granted to the city. The "poor little me victim" model doesnt sell any more, it just sits on the shelf gathering dust. It would be an entirely different matter if the character, high moral standards and ethical behavior exhibited by Kathy Patterson and Eleanor Holmes Norton were the norm for city officials instead of rare exceptions. Whatever Congressional failures in oversight have been, this Congress is watching closely. The Republican majority will almost certainly add new members who will be even less sympathetic to a city whose officials soil their own nest.
dc.story and Content
Hey, whats all this about doing good and making nice on this discussion list? I thought it was about kvetching about potholes and keeping up with the mayors latest offenses. Thats what makes it so enjoyable. There hasnt been a good squabble on this list since the great smokers vs nonsmokers debate over a year ago. There was some mighty fine prose in those missives. The only thing that comes close is the commuters vs bikers argument. Please, dont go nice on us. For that I can read the Washington Post. Down here in Texas, where, ahem, everything is better, we dont get much news about whats really going on in the District, and this is my main source of scoop. In my most recent visit to the Center of the Universe, I got stuck in Rock Creek Park evening traffic, Calvert Street traffic, and National Airport traffic, all of which I was forewarned about here. Jeffrey is doing a great service to the city. Keep it up!
The Community Meeting Game
David Sobelsohns posting about the frustrating experience of attending a Library town meeting rang all too true. Ive had similar experiences with just about every public meeting Ive attended in this town. I wouldnt be surprised if somewhere there was a secret manual for running a public meeting, and it read something like this:
"The goal of a public meeting is to make people feel like they are wasting their time by getting involved. Here are some tips: 1. Start the meeting late. 2. Spend the first 90 minutes or so hearing about a dozen mind-numbing reports by minor oficials, each about 5 to 10 minutes. 3. At least 4 minutes of each report should be spent on introduction of the speaker, acknowledgement of the introduction, and praising elected officials. The remaining 60 seconds can be used for adjusting the microphone. 4. Have the question and answer period last, and keep it to 10 minutes. Be strict about this, as by this point the meeting will be running at least an hour late. 5. Cut off any questioner who takes more than 30 seconds to phrase a question, or who starts asking tough questions. Limit each person to one question. Mindless praise should be allowed to go on until the speaker is unable to continue. 6. If someone asks a hard question, say "Ill deal with that personally," and give out a phone number. DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR REAL DIRECT LINE that is a recipe for disaster! Instead, give out the phone number of a voice mailbox you know is full. The question will thus be quietly defused. In this way we can continue to go about our business without the interference of pesky, nosy citizens." ****
I have had a very different experience with the DC library system than Mr. Sobelsohns .I find the people at the Tenley-Friendship Branch to be helpful and friendly. They have called other libraries for books for me and they take my word for it if I say I have returned a book that their computer says is out. (There was a major problem with the computer system last year and tons of books did not get checked back in.)
I have also used the MLK library and found the reference staff similarly helpful. Perhaps the problem lies with his branch?
Homeless on Mars
Did anyone happen to see portions of a press conference on CNN shortly after the "Sojourner" space toy "woke up?" The NASA Project Director, giddy with excitement, described a particular rock in the pictures like this:
[laughing] "This rock here [he points to rock] looks like some kind of old couch. Maybe some homeless people have been up there and left it." [more laughter]
My jaw dropped when I heard this comment on national TV and NOBODY seemed to notice. It was disgusting, really. Are we supposed to be excited because we can spend billions of dollars to send high-tech toys to Mars, but we cant provide the most minimal shelter, food, or health coverage to all our citizens? And on top of that, have to listen to some self-righteous, ignorant engineer make jokes about the fact that some people are homeless??
Apparently, times are so good at NASA that many can be completely insulated from the grim realities of life (see DC or any big city).
Rock Creek Park Proposals
Four alternatives were presented by the Park Service ranging from #1 Do Nothing to #4 Urban Wilderness Scenario so it should not be assumed that the park will be closed or that commuting will be banned .It is likely that the Park Service wants to do something between alternatives 2 and 3 and the others were just for show. They have already backed away from the stated parts of #4 that would close the stables and the Carter Barron Ampitheater.
As for the commuting issue you have to go back to the originally stated purposes of the park to get a feel for the Park Services position. Commuting was not seen as being a function of the park and while pollution per se is not a particular problem, at this time, commuting at its present level does interfere with the other, more parklike, purposes of the park.
As to the absurd Post position about the effects of closing the park to commuting one only has to look back a few years to when Beach Drive was, in fact, closed for some 6 months to through commuting to realize that park commuters did find other options which did NOT significantly impact upon adjacent routes.
The Devil Made me Do It
It may be necessary for me to invoke the Twinkie Defense for what I did at the Pallisades Fourth of July Parade last Friday. First, I signed the recall petition that was being carried around. The when the mayor passed by, standing in a top down convertible (a mere five yards away), I gave him two thumbs down. The mayor looked me right in the eye and gave me that big grin and a "V" for victory sign (or was that a two day supply of the "Bird") ?The man knows that victory is within his grasp.
Trash & Recycling
I didnt realize that we who have 2x trash pick up are in the minority, until I went to a Campaign to Restore Recycling in DC meeting 2 weeks ago. This is the same group that "dumps on Barrys door step (1 Judiciary Square)" the first Monday each month. They have it arranged so that people can drop off their recyclables there and a truck (run by Eagle I think) comes and picks it all up at the end of the day.
Anyhow. A question the group was mulling over was whether the group should expand its focus to a bottle bill (and we all know how well that went over in the 80s) or keep it narrowly defined to curbside pickup. I personally lean in both directions because since I dont own a car it isnt exactly convenient to lug all those bottles to the nearest grocery store (but it would be convenient if my corner store was an exchange place). On the other hand as an environmentalist with a much lower than average income it would be nice to have the benefit of cleaner streets and to get some money back as the case would be under a bottle bill. Now, by way of explaination, I believe that if recycling were to be reinstated, the second day of trash pickup would be eliminated to pay for the program. That would be the break even point for it, ie elimination of the second day of pick up would pay for recycling.
The reason I have a second day of pick up is because our house is between two streets (no alley to put a supercan), but I would still favor recycling + a Supercan instead of a second trash pickup and apparently many people (including us) forget that theres a second pickup anyhow.
What do you think? Bottle bill or curbside if thats the only answer. Of course the real solution would be a combo of both. Curbside for paper and other recyclables that dont fall into bottle bill categories and bottle bill for the rest.
Taylor Simmons TTSimmons@aol.com
As a longtime AOL subscriber, Id like to throw a word or two of support to my "digital dictator." Regarding the allegedly busy modems, I usually log on twice a day and have hit only a couple of busy signals since mid-January. While the Washington area may be better supported by AOL than other areas of the country, Washington is really all that matters in this context. This stale AOL-bashing is just a worn-out sales pitch from less popular ISPs.
And if dc.story is limited to 16,200 characters (or whatever) because that is AOLs cutoff before reforming the message as a file attachment, it nevertheless does seem to be an appropriate limit. Any longer and I might not take the time to read it. And I agree with the "its my sandbox" theory: Jeff has done a terrific job with this ezine and I would hate to pester him to the boiling and discontinuation point.
Bella Roma Ristorante Italiano
Has anyone been to the new Bella Roma Ristorante Italiano (and Sports Bar) yet? Comments?
Phil Greene firstname.lastname@example.org
Levine School of Music
Has anyone seen or heard anything about the status of the Levine School of Musics proposed move to Upton St. NW, east of Connecticut Avenue? Im living outside of DC temporarily, but own property in the neighborhood.
Lisa Errion email@example.com
Tennis Courts Near Logan Circle
Does anyone know about or use the tennis courts located at 10th & Rhode Island NW? They are labeled as belonging to the Shaw neighborhood, but they seem to be the closest courts to Logan Circle. My husband and I have been hiking to Georgetown to use the public courts and it would be nice to have facilities close by. If anyone has any suggestions you can email me or post to the list. Elizabeth Frazee firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been asked by a potential plaintiff to locate the attorney representing the plaintiff in an employment case " Leonard Radliff v. Assoc. of Community College Trustees" - settled in 1996 in Washington, DC Courts and dont have ready access to Lexis-Nexis. Any information regarding how I can get name & address of this attorney in this case appreciated.
Paul Foldes phone 703-370-0008 email@example.com
Behind Our Masks: Gay and Lesbian Writers
Our next conference is October 31-Nov. 2 at the Washington Plaza hotel. At the opening reception, participants will be encouraged to come costumed as their favorite authors. Saturday will consist of workshops, presentations, panel discussions, a concurrent reading series, and night time poetry slam. Sunday will include two panel sessions and a closing brunch.
Registration fees will start at $60, with a $10 late fee after August 30, and will include reception hors doeuvres and the brunch. Registration will close October 10. Contact me for more information.
Charles A. Diago firstname.lastname@example.org
Rollerblades For Sale
Womens Size 7.5 Rollerblade Lightening TRS. Perfect for beginner to intermediate skater. Excellent condition. $45, OBO.
Michelle Treistman email@example.com
Hoping to buy a vacuum cleaner in the $50 range in good condition.
Eileen Yam firstname.lastname@example.org
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