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July 23, 1997

Generally Speaking

Dear Neighbors:

Have I got a treat in store for you—news you haven’t seen in any of the dailies. There’s a new receiver in town and her name is Judge Christian. And the judge is not a happy camper. She’s especially unhappy with the head of the school facilities branch. Below are excerpts culled from Superior Court Judge Kaye Christian’s July 18 order regarding D.C. Public Schools on the ongoing issue of roof replacements. General Williams was brought in by General Becton to fix up school facilities, generally speaking.

The Court was shocked to learn [on July 17] from General Williams’ testimony, that as of July 17, 1997, no work had begun on any of the roofs....The Court inquired of General Williams as to whether there was money available to replace the roofs. General Williams assured the Court that the necessary funds are in place and available to replace the roofs....Based on General Williams’ testimony, the Court ordered the Defendants to prepare a Revised Plan for the roof replacement work at the 49 schools listed in the Court’s July 11, 1997, Order. The Court further ordered, that Defendants file said Revised Plan with the later than 5 p.m. on July 22, 1997.…

As required in the Court’s Order of July 11, 1997, Defendants shall file with the August 18, 1997, a plan setting out the alternative reporting sites for each school that will not be free of Fire Code violations on September 2, 1997, due to roof replacement or installation. Said plan shall also set forth the alternative reporting sites for those schools which will have roof replacement work scheduled to commence after September 2, 1997.… Defendants requested that the Court clear the 49 schools, scheduled to have their roofs replaced, of Fire Code violations and certify them for use. The Defendants’ motion to clear the schools must be denied based on the fact that the Court has evidence before it that 49 schools require new roofs. The Court will not engage in the fiction that no problems exist at these schools.…

Ok, this doesn’t mean that Judge Christian has anything against Robert Ludlum or Danielle Steele. What happened was the Generals wanted to back out of their commitment made to the court to replace some school roofs. These schools currently don’t have fire code violations but were placed on the ‘to do" list because their sieve-like roofs were likely to lead to fire code violations during the year. The judge said "no way."

The Court next turned its attention to those schools that were reported on July 10, 1997, as having roof replacement work completed or currently in progress....The Court inquired of General Williams why schools which had roof work beginning as early as May were still not complete, specifically, why it was taking so long to complete the roof repairs. General Williams informed the Court that in many instances it is not simply a matter of replacing the roof, but there is also the possibility of needed stabilization work. General Williams requested that the project manager on the roof replacement work, Mr. Omar N. Beyah, provide testimony to the court.…

Mr. Beyah testified that although he is the project manager, he had not physically visited Tyler, Shadd, Sharpe Health or Spingarn schools. The Court notes that Mr. Beyah was not familiar with whether the entire roof was to be replaced at Tyler Elementary or just a section of it. Further, Mr. Beyah was not aware, until the testimony of Inspector Randolph of the District of Columbia Fire Department during the hearing, that the Fire Department had recently conducted an inspection at Tyler Elementary School while roof replacement work was in progress and had fined the contractor $2,000 for having a propane tank on the school’s rook without the requisite permit. Nor was Mr. Beyah aware that the contractor had not sought the required permit from the Fire Department for ten other propane tanks it proposed to use in the roof replacement process.…

Whereby it is the 18th day of July, 1997, hereby ORDERED that Defendants shall prepare a Revised Plan for the replacement of the roof at the 49 schools listed in the Court’s Order of July 11, later than5 p.m. on July 22, 1997.…

The Washington Post no longer needs a summer scandal to sell papers when it has the annual August school roof countdown ("Will they or won’t they open our school?") to report. If only the paper would report the news.


Give Mayor Barry Your Recyclables and Give the Mayor a Message: "Don’t Can Recycling!" That’s the flyer I picked up at Politics and Prose this evening. (Sam Smith’s remarks brought out the remaining remnants of the DC Statehood Movement, a movement so in exile that it can remain at home and no one notices.) Back to recycling. The group encourages you to schlep your recyclables to the Mayor’s drop off at 441 4th Street, NW on the first of every month. Next drop off is August 4 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Call 202.783.7400/251 or send a message to to volunteer.


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

Jeffrey Itell


Praise for City Hall
Steph "Amazed and nearly, but not quite, speechless" Faul

Who says the District government is unresponsive? (I do, usually. But I’m going to have to change my tune.) For several months the sidewalk in front of my neighbor’s house has been cracked and jagged, with sharp pieces sticking up — probably a result of frost heaves over the winter. I’ve tripped over it several times myself, and I know the local tricycle gang has trouble with it; I wanted to prevent any gashed knees. My neighbor does not speak English well and asked me to see what could be done. Anyway, finally yesterday (Monday, July 22) I finally got around to calling Kathy Patterson’s office and talking to the Department of Public Works about it. A young man at DPW was quite interested but said "We don’t have any concrete contracts right now. I could put some asphalt on it." I said that asphalt would probably be a big improvement over jagged edges and loose pieces, and sure, that would be fine. Today there was a big smooth asphalt patch on the sidewalk. It’s not perfect, but it’s safe, and it was installed approximately 24 hours after my request. Now THAT is service.


If You Can’t Stand the Heat… Leila Afzal

I have one thought, actually I have many thoughts but will share only one, about Marion Barry’s statement that this city is to much for a manager to handle. If Mr. Barry thinks this job is too much for him, he should have the good grace to resign and let someone who has the confidence and the ability to do a good job. If Rudy Guilliani can tame NYC, I am sure there is some competent soul in this city who can do the same.


Vote Notes
Steph "If elected I will not serve" Faul

What if they gave an election, etc.? This morning I cast my ballot in solitary splendor, the only member of the electorate in the building. Seated in the voting booth I remembered the wisdom of Cora Masters Barry, who explained in yesterday’s paper how wonderful it is to be governed by people who look like oneself. So I wrote in my own name.


Ed T. Barron

Or is it a dichotomy? I find the Post’s editorial yesterday saying that we should not clamor for a City Manager, completely out of sync with their revealing series on the total lack of organization, leadership, and accountability in the D.C. Departments that appeared in the Post editions early this week. Does the Post management think that these articles will inspire Congress to help the city while Barry stays on as Mayor? The Congresspersons read the Post every day (if only to see if they are mentioned). Does the post really think that Barry can be beaten in the next election? If there was a really competent Democratic challenger that could beat Barry in a primary then I would say the Post is right. I don’t feel confident, though, that Barry can be beaten in the next election. I don’t see a knight of any color on horseback riding in to challenge Barry. Thus, I say, to save the district from the current morass, bring in a qualified City Manager or make Williams the interim City Manager with enough power to make the kinds of changes that Julius Becton is finally making in the School System. We need help from Congress and we need major changes in the way the district Government works. It’s not working now and won’t change until Barry is gone. He has no motivation to change anything.


People Who Look Like Me
Steph "Urges everyone to vote for the candidate whose hairstyle most closely resembles your own" Faul

While Barry is away in Africa as an "ambassador of goodwill," his wife apparently has forgotten that goodwill also applies to the people back home. In today’s (Monday’s) Post she’s quoted thusly: "I’m just home," his smiling wife added. "And it’s good, when I turn around and look, that there are so many people who look like me and that they are running things, without someone else telling them what to do."

I guess Mrs. Barry hasn’t noticed that the "people who look like" her and her husband are the ones leaving D.C. in droves, and doesn’t care that this kind of talk is hardly going to endear her to the people who *don’t* "look like" her. I, personally, would *love* to see someone who looks like me running this city, and her name is Carol Schwartz.


Barry Proofing

What should be remembered in any attempt to alter the City government, any improvements should be considered first for effectiveness. While In most ordinary cities, a city manager reporting to the City Council would be an effective institution, it would fail in DC. Who are the City Council? an incredibly ineffective, useless, pile of human flesh. The Post describes most of the DC government culture as personified by Jowhn Wilson, Dave Clarke and Marion Barry. 2/3rds of them are council members (Barry almost counts given his previous council terms), and 2/3rds of them are dead. The DC council is no more effective at governing then the DC school board. I always said the control board was a mistake, far better to have Let DC file for bankruptcy and have a receiver come in, fire half the work force, sell all but critical assets and start over again.


Rock Creek Park Usage Patterns
Jamie Treworgy

In rereading the purpose statement and other information on the park service’s web site, I couldn’t find any argument that this current evaluation was taking place because "our usage patterns are destroying the park." It is, rather be a timely re-evaluation of the park’s purpose, to create a general management plan which will guide the park’s organization in the near future. The initial newsletter of June 1, 1996 which opened discussion about the park’s future can be found at er1/

Rock Creek Park isn’t a rain forest. It is part of an urban environment that serves millions of residents. Of course it needs to be treated responsibly, and the purpose of all this is to make sure it IS treated responsibly in the changing world - a purpose which has not been addressed any time lately. But this does not automatically mean that vehicular traffic isn’t part of responsible use of the park. The park’s own study last year found that air quality in the park was always within federal standards, and noise levels were minimal except directly adjacent to the parkway. It isn’t just about saving 10 minutes on a commute. It’s about being able to enjoy the park more often than the one day a month - or year - you have time to spend a whole afternoon walking around (an activity which would, by the way, probably be a lot less safe if there weren’t significant through traffic in the park). Eliminating the park roads as through-traffic routes would mean that many who are lucky enough to enjoy it several days a week would all but forget it.


Parlez-Vous Assumption?
Gabe Goldberg

Jeff Porten said: "Sorta like saying, if you live in the 514 area code, you speak French." A friend was born in, has lived his life in, Montreal (area code 514), speaks not a word of French. So maybe other assumptions/generalizations also fail.


Cat Chat
Janine Micunek

All the postings on Pet Pantry are hilarious! If anyone wants to hear my plug for the store, please e-mail me - because it certainly is getting a little overdone on DC Story. I’ll be happy to tell you what products I’ve bought for my cat, what works and what doesn’t, the advice that Steve and his partner gave me, my story about Petco, etc. Maybe we could even start a separate chat group for pet owners! We could call it "Cat Chat", or better yet, "Pet Chat" to include all domestic animals. Anyone interested in editing and compiling it?


"Freedom of the Press" Free-For-All

I always thought that the phrase "Freedom of the press belongs to the guy who owns one" was first uttered by H.L. Mencken, the sage of Baltimore. Of course, in the age of the internet, this dictum may no longer apply. As shown by DC Story.


Freedom of the Press & A.J. Liebling
David Sobelsohn

In reply to Steph ("Can go to the library without leaving home") Faul’s dilemma, Bartlett’s ascribes the quote "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one" to one Abbott Joseph ("A.J.") Liebling, "Do you Belong in Journalism?" published in The New Yorker May 14, 1960.


Restrooms and Gender
David Sobelsohn

Several states have addressed the disparity, noted here recently by Bob Kulawiec, in waiting times for men’s & women’s restrooms in publicly-accessible buildings by enacting so-called "potty parity" laws requiring a set ratio (maybe 3:2 or greater) of women’s to men’s rooms in newly constructed buildings open to the public. I myself don’t see a problem with unisex restrooms; we had them at my house when I was growing up.


Bathroom Posts
Vera Zlidar

In response to the recent bathroom posts, does anyone recall the "Potty Parity Law" that women in Congress were trying to pass? If memory serves my correctly, I first read about this in 1992, maybe 1993? I remember being excited that Carol Mosley-Braun, our state’s first female senator, was supporting it. I also remember hearing that there was widespread support for it from male senators and reps (especially the ones with families — one rep told a story of wating 40 minutes for his wife to come back from the bathroom with their kids at a ball game).

I left the country not long after that so don’t know what ever happened to it. Anyone know if it was passed, implemented, vetoed? The bill called for 2 (or 2.5???) stalls in the women’s room for every one stall/urinal in the men’s in stadiums, arenas, theatres, etc. for any building being built after the bill was signed.



Need a Ticket (maybe 2) for Mary Chapin Carpenter Concert?

I’ve got an extra lawn seat ticket to 7/26 (Saturday night) Mary Chapin Carpenter concert at Wolf Trap (might have a second one, too). If you have never seen her in concert, she’s always so enthusiastic and warm because DC is her home town.

Renee Schwager


TV Repairs

Does anyone know of a good television repair shop in the metro area (preferably NW DC)? Thanks for any recommendations!

Carrie Staff


Housing Needed

Looking for a two bedroom apartment in the Cleveland Park area (reasonable walking distance to the Metro) starting from mid Audust or the beginning of September.

Leslie Ruskin


Water Your Plants Daily

Or let Pete put in an watering system that will do it for you! Automatic watering systems actually are more cost-effective than regular watering because they deliver water directly to the plants and reduce wastage from evaporation. I do custom-designed systems that include soaker hoses for beds, drippers for containers and window boxes (great for decks!), and lawn watering. Many happy (and cool) clients in the D.C. area!

Philip Walker, Jr.


Rejuvenate Your Deck!

Let Pete help you gain maximum enjoyment from your outdoor living space. Deck cleaning and staining; flowerboxes; container water gardens; wall accessories, and more!

Philip Walker, Jr.



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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