Your Electronic Backfence
If we try, will you? Everyone, including your esteemed talkmeisters, need to make an effort to shorten our prose. Pare the redundant phrases. Slice out the self-gratuitous comments. And above all else, even before killing the lawyers, kill the adverbs. Get to the point, one point per posting. If you have two thoughtsand thats a rare day in Corporate headquarterssend two postings. I beg youplease make this an electronic cut-and paste-job for me. I promise to do my part. The reason for all this electronic belt-tightening? More posters and not enough room to post. Plus tight writing and multiple voices makes for a better read.
The coming weeks issue of The New Republic has a story about the Districts current affairs, co-authored by your moderator. Hes already preparing the tar, feathers, and railroad for the publics reception. Ill provide a web link on Sunday if TNR posts a web link.
In this issue of dc.story, members feel like Rodney Dangerfield, ponder whether correction officials are worth it, show no tolerance for zero tolerance, and add controversy to the World War II Memorial controversy.
Also free! dc.movie: Free movie passes, short movie reviews, and movie discussion. Send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe.
The State of Affairs
To me the most depressing events of the past few weeks have been not the takeover but the continued evidence of failure by both elected AND appointed officials. First, the appointed school trustees announce they are opening the schools three weeks late. The trustees have not gotten nearly the condemnation they deserve for this. Wasnt it late openings last year that sealed the fate of the elected board? The Washington Post in particular has missed the boat on this. Where they were (properly) merciless with the elected board, their editorial about this years delay was a muddle that amounted to: This darn lawsuit is preventing the schools from opening and cant the parties please settle it? And the timing of Bectons announcement right on the heels of the takeover bill is perfect. I hope everyone who is expecting big changes from the new management structure will take notice. There is absolutely no reason to think the Control Board will do any better with the rest of the government than they are doing with the schools.
But in case you were pining for the old days Jeff is right on the money to criticize the elected school boards silence about Mary Anigbo. After her conviction, I waited for the school board to announce that they were decertifying her school, or at the very least firing her (which they can do in effect by threatening to decertify the school if she remains). Ms. Anigbo has not only been convicted of assault, but she continues to denounce the process as unfair and tainted a position that is breathtaking in its intellectual dishonesty and illogic. She is the example for DC schoolchildren?!? And certifying charter schools is the ONLY formal responsibility the elected board still has!! Just amazing.
Read David Yasskys editorial about the school mess at <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1997-08/13/010l-081397-idx.htm l>http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1997-08/13/010l-081397-idx.html This address is valid for only a short time. Jeff]
I Feel Like Rodney Dangerfield
I went to the DC Emergency Board of Trustees meeting on the late opening of schools earlier tonight. For better or worse I have come to expect lack of respect from such audiences, with all the jeers and cat calls. What I was not prepared for was the lack of respect from the Board itself! I tried to follow respectful decorum and called the Board ahead of time to get on the list of speakers. In spite of leaving a message to get on the witness list, I was left offmeaning I had speak in the 20 minutes remaining once all the listed speakers were finished. Though promising each speaker there minutes, the Board cut us off at 2. When I pointed the problem out after the meeting they apologized, but I expect the apology was about as empty as their promises.
Unfortunately, this ties in too well with the suggestion I was never provided the opportunity to conclude with. Our children are being taught the wrong lessons by the systems blunders. The children do not deserve excuses; they deserve honest apologies and constructive action. This parent has similarly learned that theres no such thing as respect when it comes to these kinds of things. But then again, perhaps respect isnt the problem at all! [General Becton: Are you looking for a new excuse to point at that wont complain back? Its the clock! Its the clock!] Its that blasted Board of Trustees clock Three minutes to them is only two minutes on any standard clock. Working by that clock it would be impossible to get in any more than two months work during our three month summer. Of course another month is needed to open schools! Can the school budget afford a new clock?
D.C. Corrections Pay
The Post reports that nine D.C. Corrections officers received more in payments from the D.C. coffers than did the mayor. Maybe they all had a better year. (With apologies to Babe Ruth who said something similar when told he had made more in one season than the President of the United States.)
There They Run Again
In reply to the query "where is everyone," Kevin Chavous sent out a letter to all ANC commissioners decrying the usurpation of local control. It was essentially a cri de coeur, nothing more, but perhaps it made Kevin feel better.
How About a Boston Tea Party?
Well, I have thought about a revolution. But not about the current problem of management of the city. I think thats a far too narrow focus. The whole thing is *really* about not having representation in Congress. If we did, this wouldnt have happened. We would not be treated like bastard children or a political football.
What we need is to stop paying federal taxes (you remember from 9th grade history: "no taxation without representation" .And we need to have a major media event to kick it off. So why not a modern version of the Boston Tea Party?
[Larry Mirel, a DC lobbyist, heads a group that conducted such an event several months ago. Jeff]
Boss Shepherds Statue
What we need here is a "Boss Memorial": Boss Shepherds statue standing right next to an equivalent depiction of Boss Barry. Both men managed through pure malfeasance to eliminate self-determination for D.C. residents. Shepherds government, though more corrupt even than Barrys, at least focused primarily on infrastructure; thus we have more to show for Shepherds misrule today than we will have for Barrys in an equivalent time.
In the early 1870s (Im not sure of the date and am too lazy to go looking for it), there was talk of moving the capital to St. Louis, or indeed anywhere but Washington. The city was a mess full of miasmic stagnant canals and rutted streets and without amenities like gas and water (read Charles Dickens or Anthony Trollope for descriptions of the awesome filth and mud). Shepherd spent $30 million in three years, mainly on streets, sewers, gas lines, filling canals, and so forth. The contracts for this work went, of course, to his buddies, and nobody knows how much money made its way into Shepherds own pockets but the general guess is "a whole lot." The city was much improved physical but grievously in debt, and the corruption was appalling. Congress stepped in and said, "Were taking over," and nobody voted here again for nearly a century.
Updates To The Cardozo Shaw Neighborhood Association Web Site:
We have added some interesting links: Dump Barry in 97! A link to DC.Story archive. Updated stories of U Street projects. There is a real concern about the status of the Thompson Dairy site. Apparently it is up for renewal, and may get an automatic renewal since the council is on vacation. Does anyone know about this process? I am wondering if there is a mechanism to extend the period for public input on a project, if the renewal date coincides with the City Council being on break.
Control Board Website?
Ive tried to find out but havent does the control board have an email address and/or web site? Might be a good one to have on hand.
[Point your browseras they sayto <http://www.nubian.com/dcfra/>http://www.nubian.com/dcfra/. Jeff]
Less Than Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance
The "zero tolerance" policy has a few kinks to be worked out, including making more officers available to respond to reports of crimes in progress. Someone broke into my pickup truck early last Saturday morning. One of my neighbors saw the whole thing happen and called the police. By the time the police arrived FOUR HOURS later, the thief was long gone. That inexcusable delay does little to inspire public confidence in the success of the zero-tolerance policy and redistricting as effective means of improving public safety.
I saylet people pee in public and drink alcohol on their front steps free from police interference if thats what it takes for quick response to crimes. It should clearly be a higher priority that the police respond expeditiously to reports of crimes in progress, as opposed to ticketing some woman enjoying a glass of wine on her stoop. This was an opportunity for the police to make a dent in the theft from auto epidemic. Instead, someone is out there poised to strike again. Perhaps it will be someones house next time. My neighbor did his part to fight crime by calling the police. Now the police need to do theirs.
Given The State Of DC Politics, Id Rather Discuss Cable
Did you know that expanded basic now includes The Disney Channel? I discovered this by way of a District Cablevision *commercial* that aired during an Os game. Tuned to "10" with my remote and, sure enough, there was some Disney something, in stereo and fully unblocked, in my very living room.
This will probably mean more to folks who actually *want* Disney, of whom I am not one. Nonetheless, Disney is an attractive option for lots of families, and it used to be a pricey one as well. What with the Home & Garden channel and 10 kerjillion shopping channels and Disney, though, I cant help thinking that District Cablevision has put together its lineup for some *other* District of Columbia. Maybe one where all the women are strong shoppers, all the men are good looking and straight, and all the children are into Dumbo?
Im here, Im queer, and Id just as soon have VH-1 back, thank you. Dont go messing with Bravo, but help yourself to the Fox News Channel, please.
Rock Creek Park
As someone who sees Rock Creek parkway as a lifeline into Northwest, I have to weigh in: it is already a multi-use park. If Rock Creek is restricted more than it currently is (weekend closures), we are going to see even more gridlock on our streets. First of all, there are a host of workplaces in the DC area that are not easily accessible to Metro (either logistically or for time reasons). Second, some people have to drive kids to school or have other responsibilities on their way to work, again, not a Metro-friendly task. Third, there is ever -increasing auto traffic that we just cant wish away. Wanna see more aggressive/angry drivers on our side streets; and Connecticut Ave and Mass Ave as parking lots? Restrict Rock Creek more. Fourth, not everyone works regular hours, or have the ability to shower at work. Fifth, for all the disclaimers Ive seen from posters on this Ezine, on a percentage basis, Ive seen just about as many psycho-bikers, weaving in traffic, going the wrong way on one way streets, and generally terrorizing motorists and pedestrians, as Ive seen "aggressive" drivers.
Whats the Status of Those Damn Lions?
I recall that the statues at the foot of the Taft bridge were removed some time last year when the bridge went under reconstruction. Further, I remember hearing that they ended up in storage somewhere because the District couldnt pay the bill to have them refurbished. Has anyone heard anything more about them?
[I wrote about this topic in early 1994 but lost track of what is happening. Jeff]
Regarding Richard Stone Rothblums comments about Metro:
>>>> > > Please explain what you mean by "the operating subsidy contributed by regional taxpayers which accounts for the loss of income for each rider on the subway.
I think he means that amount that each local jurisdiction chips in, based on a complicated formula, to cover the rather large deficit the transit authority runs. Thus the regional taxpayers, on the whole, are paying this subsidy. Of course you can rightly argue that we are also, through our taxes, subsidizing private automobile transportation through a plethora of taxes that helps build and maintain the immense road infrastructure (not to mention the significant (once was 25%) of police, public safety and courts budgets devoted to maintaining the highways.
World War II Memorial Controversy
I hope everyone saw the Letter to the Editor in the Washington Post a week or so ago, about building a Memorial Arch at Scott Circle. Brilliant. I know, I know, I contradict myself (a wee bit) on the subject of gridlock. But we already have a circle there (with a tunnel) and if this is handled properly, it can be done with minimal traffic disruption. An arch is not only a time tested memorial to victory, it is also consistent with LEnfants plan, and aesthetically appropriate (See Paris: The Louvre, Place de Concorde, and the Arc de Triomphe in a line like the Washington Memorial, White House, and our WW II Memorial Arch).
Former Residents Whove Found a Better Life Outside the Beltway
Relax Phil, Mrs. Lawrence in Arizona was merely stating the obvious. Things are better elsewhere. After 15 years in the District, I was reluctant to take a job assignment that was not within walking distance of Cafe Delux and where I couldnt have the Style Section with my morning coffee, so you can imagine what a shock it was to move to a city of comparable size where: (a) the government works; (b) civil servants are actually civil; © traffic flows; (d) crime is a fraction of the Districts; (e) people are pleasant; (f) theres no state tax; (g) cost of living is less; and (h) I have a congressman and a senator. This doesnt mean we dont miss the District or like it any less. Its just that leaving it impresses the difference upon one rather forcefully the level of incompetence and corruption that DC residents have internalized and dont even notice.
Crib or Cot?
Two visiting scholars from Europe will be coming to stay at my house on Capitol Hill this fall. Their 14-month-old child will be with them for the month of October. Does anybody have a crib or cot to lend or to sell inexpensively? Please contact by email or my home phone at 202.543.3015.
Professor R L Widmann email@example.com
Physical Community Connections by Email
Im a new subscriber to this list. Im also a freelance writer who is doing a story on how physical community connections can be sparked by the Internet. Here in Takoma Park, weve got three neighborhood discussion lists that have fostered real communityfrom repairing the leaky roof of an elderly resident, to nurturing neighborhood patrols, to recruiting volunteers for computer training, etc.
Have you met anyone in this on-line community as a result of a posting here? Has the list motivated you to do something in your neighborhood? Does it make you feel differently about life in DC? Im looking for examples of how "virtual communities" enhance real communities. If you have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to e-mail me.
Jim Buie firstname.lastname@example.org
Free Outdoor Film Festival
WGAY99.5FM, NationsBank, Metro, NIH and Norwood Public Relations Group will sponsor a FREE, OUTDOOR, film festival to benefit NIH childrens charities from Saturday, August 16th through Saturday, August 23rd. The food & dessert pavilion will open at 7:00 p.m. and the films will begin at 8:30 p.m. nightly. Take the Metro to the Medical Center station (its just a few steps away) or park at NIH. Bring your blanket, a picnic and then contribute to the NIH childrens charities through purchases at the food pavilion. The films will be shown, rain or shine (save for lightning and/or thunder) each night. Should a film be cancelled, there will not be a rain date. The schedule will continue unchanged. For more information, call 301-650-4483.
Raiders of the Lost Ark Sat., 16th August My Fair Lady, Sun, 17th August Casablanca, Mon., 18th August Awakenings, Tue., 19th August North by Northwest, Wed., 20th August Babe, Thu., 21st August Ghostbusters, Fri., 22nd August Twister, Sat., 23rd August
Jenna Norwood email@example.com
IACHiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration Rally
In commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the International Action Center of NYC, together with the Gray Panthers of Metro DC, sponsored this annual week of commemorative gatherings and marches to raise awareness of the continuing danger posed by Pentagon weapons programs and corporate mismanagement of nuclear waste disposal on Native American lands and elsewhere. A personal account, a short photo essay, and excerpts from various speakers remarks (in .au sound format) can be found on this Web page, as well as links to more detailed information on the IAC and its Depleted Uranium Weapons Education program. http://myhouse.com/mikesite/iac_rally/
Also available at this site is a short photo spread of the pro-democracy demonstration in front of the White House on August 4, 1997, to mark the occasion of President Bills signing away of the basic democratic rights to self-government of American citizens living in Washington, DC, at http://myhouse.com/mikesite/freeDCrally .
Michael Swartzbeck firstname.lastname@example.org
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