Hard to Be Outraged
Dont look now, but a meritocracy may be emerging in the District. At least the devout can pray for it. The so-called bailout plan has shifted power to the Authority, but DC government officials could retain much of their power. How? By being part of the solution instead of part of the problem. (Sorry to drag out that chestnut but it seems to fit with the 1970s style protest movements garnering the handful of folks who that havent moved to Takoma Park.)
Council members have stepped up oversight of government agencies. Not uniformly, but Kathy Patterson and others have demanded answers to hard questions (and often couldnt get answers to easy questions). Patterson, for example, will continue to oversee personnel reform; real estate reform; procurement reform, and oversight of the Department of Employment Services. Patterson even gets to sit on the DOES management team at DOES! To the extent councilmembers perform oversight jobs, their power could increase, not increase, under this arrangement. A working councilmember can save the price of a few Anderson consultants.
The latest school poop is that schools official position (as filed in Superior Court documents, no less) is that its okay for 13,000 students to start school three weeks late (assuming construction work goes according to schedule)! There is still no permanent Chief Academic Officer, dozens of principal positions are unfilled, as are over a hundred teaching positions. Unless youve missed the shopping malls, school starts in four weeks. Wheres General Becton on these issues? On vacation in Alaska until the 8th of August.
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Finding It Hard To Be Outraged
I know you were looking for strongly worded opinions regarding the federal governments recent action toward DC but I am having a hard time being outraged. Although the plan is far from perfect (and I do have many of the same problems with no representation and our decreasing say in running our own city) it is at least an attempt to correct management problems within the city. This is more than any of our elected leaders have tried to do for many years.
I am more outraged at the poor quality of the city streets, broken street lights, inefficient trash and recycling pickup, substandard public housing, high dropout rates, millions of federal dollars going unspent due to poor management I could go on but I think you get the point. City officials have known for years that tighter controls needed to placed on city dollars, that agencies needed computer upgrades and personnel training but they have refused to make any serious attempt to correct these problems instead relying on the federal government to bail them out at budget time.
When the control board was initiated two years ago, city officials still could have taken a leadership position and made changes to improve the city but they instead chose to fight with the control board and each other. They were so busy trying to stake out a position as the last purveyors of democracy that they continued to contribute to the situation we now find ourselves in.
I apologize for not being properly outraged at the federal government but I am still too busy being outraged at the mayor and city council.
We Dont Need A Revolution
Before we revolt we need to wake-up and smell the DC water! We dont have the right to run down the Nations Capitol because we cant get our own act together. This city has so much wasted potential and we as citizens (wether we vote or not) are the most responsible. Our attitude that getting something for nothing has got to change. The just passing through mentality, here today moving tomorrow, of community will never foster "good" citizenship.
Congress action maybe the much needed swift kick in the pants that we need. And while Democracy First protests and Norton back-peddles, no one can deny that the District Government along with the City Council and School Board is broken. The nation has given us the chance of a life time and wed fools not to seize the opportunity.
Williams NOT for Mayor
While I cannot disagree that Williams is a smart man, it seems to me he is also a mean hearted and vindictive man who, once his mind is made up, is unwilling (or unable) to change it. I would no sleep easily if this fellow was mayor of the city. (Though he has much more power now than he would as mayor so, on that basis, maybe Id prefer that he be Mayor).
As for the bizarre statement that no one who has run for mayor knows anything about the city how soon they forget. Once, in his early years, Marion Barry was seen in a much different light. Whether you like him or not he clearly knows the city and knows how it works (or doesnt) he didnt put us in the hole we are in now, Kelly did that. While Barry gave Kelly a damaged product is was surely no worse off than a dozen other comparable cities - especially considering the significant handicaps that the bailout plan finally is addressing.
You know, the one constant in the years of decline is Norton and she is the only one getting off scot free and looking like a Saint in the process. She has been an absolutely worthless bum in her position. Her job was to win friends in Congress and get favorable treatment for us. In all these years she has gotten zilch. A woman who totally screwed up her own affairs has given us little evidence of her abilities to deal with those of the District.
"Transformation"Randy Wells email@example.com
I theorize that Mayor Barry is unwilling, and perhaps unable, to bring his department heads to task for implementing his new reform agenda (aka "transformation") .This I base on his political willingness to talk the talk (at times) but steadfast refusal to walk the walk.
Thus, I suggested here in May that DC department heads be made answerable to a new, independent City Administratorwho can only be fired by the Control Boardand that during the "control time" the department heads should only be fired by the Control Board, and be required to answer to the Control Board.
Chairman Brimmer effectively has stated that he will hire a non-City Manager (effectively the Control Boards City Administrator), and as of today 9 city agencies heads are fired and will in future answer for their jobs to Brimmer and Company (not to be confused with the Brimmer Company).
Perhaps we should now look toward the future when the control period has ended. I suggest that this expanded power over department heads remain with the City Council. The Councils inability to get effective oversight, provided they actually want such a thing, would be greatly enhanced.
Ridiculous DC parking tickets
Has anyone else gotten nitpicking, ridiculous parking tickets? My car was parked legally, on the street in a zone for which I have the current zone sticker in the proper place on my windshield. I received a ticket for "failure to remove expired RPP sticker" Note that this "violation" is not one listed on the ticket, like parking in a bus zone, staying too long at a meter, etc.
I plan to contest this abuse of power by the parking enforcement officer, but I am wondering if anyone else has been a victim of DCs latest revenue raising scheme?
Where art thou, Boss Sheppard?
What is the latest for the wayward statue of Boss Sheppard? I recall that he had been stranded in recent years to the politically poignant and pungent Blue Plains...and that residents of his namesake neighborhood (Sheppard Park) were endeavoring to bring him thither for suitable placement. I vaguely recall that he was now destined for a more prominent location downtown.
Could a fellow faithful reader update us on the status of Sheppards stature? Could I visit him in his current locale?
7th Street Revisited
Attentive readers of dc.story may remember my rant from about a month ago about how construction around the MCI center had closed both sidewalks and all but two lanes of traffic on Seventh Street. This despite the fact that the developers had promised up and down when the project was proposed that only one sidewalk and one lane of parking would be closed.
Well, I had pretty much gotten used to walking in the street through the construction, but yesterday they upped the ante. When I went to walk to work, I found that one of the two remaining lanes of traffic had been taken over by the ever-expanding construction site, and that flag men (or "flaggers" for the PC-minded) were alternating traffic through the remaining lane. Today it was the same, so Im inclined to think this is not a temporary shift. If present trends continue, I calculate that by the end of the year the site will stretch from the Capitol to the White House.
Question: Does anyone know who I should complain to in the "DC Government" ?Or is that term obsolete? (It was always oxymoronic).
Moving from D.C.
Jean Lawrence wrote that it has been a year since she left D.C. and its been a lot easier. Phil Greene wrote in reply, asking what her point was. I thought it was pretty self-evident, given that so much of dc.story seems devoted to describing problems which herald the citys supposedly imminent collapse (something weve all been worrying about for decades now, I think). I imagine her point was something like, if D.C. is *really* bothering you that much, there really are places that dont have its problems. Or something like that. But I dont think she means to rub anyones nose in her good fortune since moving.
I know how she feels. I moved out to Iowa City, not to escape D.C. per se, but to go to grad school. But now, when I return to D.C. or talk to my friends and family still there, or read dc.story, Im amazed I didnt go nuts. (Ive spent more time trying to get D.C. to correct an error on my property tax bill thats several years old than Ive spent on all bureaucratic dealings Ive had in Iowa combined.)
To the extent Ms. Lawrence is suggesting the answer is to move, well...I dont think thats an option for many (most?) of the readers of dc.story, and I just cant see Washingtonians enjoying Arizona as much as D.C. (good grief, not to mention living in Iowa, which, though I personally feel is wonderful, is like a whole different planet). But still...when Mr Greene writes "I love it here in D.C....and I really could do without your occasional Im glad I got out missives," I dont understand, if he loves D.C. that much, why anything Ms. Lawrence or anyone else would say would get under his skin so badly. Maybe Im missing the point myself.
"Free"?David Sobelsohn firstname.lastname@example.org
I had to chuckle at Greg Joness recent recommendation of the brunch at the Morrison Clark Inn, especially at his claim that the restaurantwhich charges $25 for a tart, a trout, & a browniehas "FREE valet parking." Next to "love" & "friend," "free" must be the most abused word in the English language. To be sure, everything costs something, if only an expenditure of energy. Even my "free" ISP requires that one have access to a computer & modem. But if you get valet parking only by paying $25 (over $30 with tax & tip), the proper adjective really is "included," not "free."
Willie Schatz writes, "What other explanation is there for a regionalsubway that still isnt finished after 20 YEARS of work?" How about money? The subway was built on the false premise that it would cost $1.4 B. Conservative, reactionary, mean-spirited and racist members of Congress claimed that the cost would exceed $4.0 B. We left that figure behind long ago. At the time the subway was built, the capital costs could have paid for a Cadillac automobile and perpetual gas and maintenance costs for each rider. This doesnt even address the operating subsidy contributed by regional taxpayers which accounts for the loss of income for each rider on the subway.
Please dont tell me that the costs are worth it. There is no one more opposed to individuals driving mile and miles to get to their workplaces, just so they can despoil the remaining semi- natural spaces in this area. But, lets face it. The development patterns around Washington and most other metro areas in the country have been shaped by the automobile and highway system, so that employment and living densities are too diffuse to make rail transit a practical idea. Note that the New York subway was built in 1890. Around here, we have been busy tearing up track, starting around the first third of this century.
I agree that more roads are not the answer. But neither is more rail. How about a good bus system a "smart" bus system or network of small systems, that competes with taxis in service smaller cars, "smart" highways that safely accommodate more and faster traffic at very high densities and pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly planning and development, and limited rail development where it is economically justifiable. Maybe air travel shouldnt be ignored.
Remember that construction of railroads is not ecologically friendly. At the time of the building of the original Metrorail system, critics estimated that it would take 100 years to recover the energy costs sunk into the construction of the project. I have no idea whether this is really true, but as a general rule, the cost of a project is reflective of energy consumption and related environmental degradation as well.
Does anyone know how I can file a change of address with DMV by mail? The recorded message says I can do it, but I have to go to 301 C Street to get the form. I went down there today and they said I have to get a new license, which means standing in line, etc. Just Not Worth It. Any ideas?
Nick Keenan http://www.gsionline.com email@example.com
Conversational Spanish classes
Please email me if you would be interested in participating in a conversational Spanish class (intermediate beginner level) this fall in Takoma Park. I just finished the summer class for raw beginners and the teacher is excellent. The fee would depend somewhat on the number of people interested, but this summer it was $100 for two classes a week for five weeks.
Francine Krasowska firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Base August Meeting
Thursday, August 7th 4:30-6:30 p.m. Buffalo Billiards, Dupont Circle 1330 19th Street, N.W. (19th & N) Across the street from the Dupont Circle South Metro exit
Featuring happy hour drink prices and free billiards as well as a prize drawing from Buffalo Billiards. Bring your business cards so we can network while we socialize. Hope to see you there!
Everyone scores when they reach Home Base!
Jenna Norwood email@example.com
"Indisputable Truth" From A Tibetan Buddhist Master
"Indisputable Truth," A Public Talk by the Venerable Chokyi Nyima Rinpchoe, Monday, August 18th, 7:30 PM. Cost $15. At the Dupont Plaza Hotel, 1500 New Hampshire Ave NW (Dupont Circle). Details at http://www.his.com/pshapiro/dc.story/announce10.html
David Uglow firstname.lastname@example.org
Art show opening
"Recycling as a Way of Art" mail art show opens at Galaxy Hut (2711 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA; near Clarendon Metro) on Friday, August 8 from 7-9 PM. Ambient/improv music by La Reproduction Interdite and C n V Music Machine.
Jeff B. email@example.com
Press Assistant Wanted
Busy press/public relations/political company wants smart, hard working, excellent writer to produce press releases, s peaches, etc. Fax resumes to Laszlo & Associates, Inc. 703-276-1605.
Jennifer Laszlo firstname.lastname@example.org
Dog Looking For New Home
An adorable short leg beagle (male), nine-months old, is looking for a new home. Call Alexandra at 202.232.5123.
Jeffrey Itell Story@intr.net
MIS/Desktop Publishing: Maintain Mac Network; proposal production; promo materials; equipment maint; familiarity w/ Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, PageMaker, MS Office, Filemaker preferred; e-mail/web development, GIS a plus. Resume w/ salary history and cover letter to : MIS, 1101 30th St. NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC. 20007 or fax (202) 338-1565. No calls/principals only.
Kathy Crawford K._Crawford@telesiscorp.com
Part-time Clerical support staff to work 20-25 hours a week on a Tuesday through Friday schedule with some flexibility. Must be proficient in Microsoft Office programs, familiar with office equipment, and flexible. Will work on public policy and housing issues. Tasks include, but are not limited to, typing, filing, copying, faxing, and retrieving congressional and administrative documents. $10.00/ hour. Please fax or email resume to Francine Ronis, Child Welfare League of America, fax, #202-638-4004.
Francine Ronis email@example.com
Bicycle For Sale
GTArette bicycle - 6 years old, infrequently ridden, great shape, one owner. With bike rack and kryptonite lock: $387.00, or best offer. Without bike rack and kryptonite lock: $300.00.
Virginia Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
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