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September 14, 1997

Your Electronic Backfence

Dear Neighbors:

Much has been made about the Control Board retaining leftover managers from the Barry administration like a Tupperware addict living near a Chinese takeout restaurant. Most of us would prefer freshly prepared food but let’s look at the situation: no one is anxious to work for the District, the current folks are presumably past the learning curve (which any new person would have to face), they are backed (hopefully, well) by consultants, and, I think, most importantly, they are no longer hamstrung by Barry’s political objectives. Besides, the Control Board can find new people as they need them. The Control Board has a limited amount of time to prove that it can turn around city management. "Cohabitation" didn’t work. Starting from scratch will take too long. Sometimes the best options are not very good ones.


I haven’t followed the convention center debate as closely as the one over the MCI Arena (which in being built over my dead body). But having studied urban history and planning and visited my share of cities (ancient and otherwise), my reaction to the Shaw scenario is, "What are they, nuts?" Acre for acre, these steel and girder monstrosities kill city life and impose numerous financial costs. The data are not really debatable. The Greeks knew this. The Sumerians knew this. But the egoists today won’t do the math. I can understand the Shaw folk being up in arms with each other—they have parochial concerns to worry about. But a first class city must live by certain rules. Frankly, I wish they converted the Kennedy Center into a convention center and moved that concept (but not that horrendous building) downtown.


David Plotz and Jamie Raskin are continuing their on-Slate debate about the demise of the District. Catch it and if that address doesn’t work, try and fend your way through the table of contents. From my last read, Plotz is ahead by half an ear.


In this issue of dc.story, Shaw comes alive with the sound of rebuttal, a call to arms for hospitals and jazz stations, new developments on new developments, and Itell tries to rid himself of vacation passes in the classified ads.

Jeffrey Itell


dc.story is presented in association with Washington’s News Station WTOP-1500 AM and 94.3 FM***They're both WTOP.


The Mt. Vernon Square Convention Center Site
Gary Imhoff

Leslie Miles has every right to base her defense of the Mt. Vernon Square site for the Convention Center on ad hominem attacks and personal invective, but she would be more convincing if she would try to use facts to address some of the problems with the Convention Center. In what way have the Con men promoting the Convention Center addressed the neighborhood’s parking and traffic congestion problems, except by saying that they will encourage people to use public transportation? (Even the AAA, certainly not an anti-business or anti-Convention Center partisan, has said the Mt. Vernon site will cause serious traffic and parking congestion.) Does Miles find the truck management plan, with a remote parking lot from which trucks will be dispatched efficiently on a smoothly-running timetable, convincing? Does she believe that the Mt. Vernon site is large enough to accommodate a sizeable enough Convention Center to attract the giant conventions which it is supposed to accommodate.

Miles can continue a nasty name-calling campaign, but her assertion that only two people in the Shaw neighborhood oppose the Mt. Vernon site is ridiculous, and her belief that the great majority of Shaw resident support the site is only her personal, unsubstantiated opinion, not based on any independent, reliable public opinion survey.


Convention Rebuttal — Rebuttal!
NB Keenan

About the bribery: It’s real. In the spring I felt like a character in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," as every day I learned about another neighbor who had received cash from the WCCA. My next door neighbor received about $25,000 to do "community outreach." Every member of the Economic Development Subcommittee of the Shaw Task Force got cash from WCCA. In June I went to a community meeting at Scripture Cathedral Church — it was like The Price is Right. Step up to the microphone, make your complaint, receive your payoff. I raised the objection that DPW was not up to their responsibilities outlined in the plan, as evidenced in their poor historical performance in our neighborhood. DPW offered to repave the alley behind my house. In July our neighborhood association, about 20 members, had a community cleanup. The day before, we called WCCA and asked for some food. Presto! Fifty sandwiches. I had them for lunch for a week.


New Convention Center
Peter Harnik

I oppose the location of the planned D.C. Convention Center just north of the old Carnegie Library and Mt. Vernon Square. Shaw is a wonderful neighborhood with all the characteristics of a future Dupont Circle or a Greenwich Village, particularly with the soon-to-be-completed Green Line of Metro and the rejuvenation of the Gallery Place area. The Convention Center would kill Shaw. I’m not referring only to all the trucks and buses. I’m talking about the immutable city principles enunciated by Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities—appropriate scale, the need for mixed primary uses, the need for short blocks, the need for buildings of mixed ages.

If you absolutely feel D.C. needs another convention center, why not build it on the wasteland encompassed by New York Avenue, K Street and 12th Street? The current center has already killed that neighborhood—the city might as well put another one in the rubble there. It would be a lot better than destroying Shaw, one of the truly memorable and valuable areas in the District of Columbia. Let’s not allow anti-human Big Box development across the Massachusetts Avenue line!


School Repair Fines
Jim Zurer

I was shocked to hear the discussions of where the money should come from to pay the fines for the failure to have school roof repairs completed by the judge’s deadline. General Becton has some nerve going to Mayor Barry to find the funds to pay for his failures. It is clear to me that the fines should be paid out of the Control Board’s lavish funding. After all, accountability is what it this whole crisis is all about.....and this fiasco is taking place on Dr. Brimmer’s watch. He should be responsible for finding the money to pay the penalties.


Children’s Hospital Site Update
Paul K. Williams

Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association had learned that developer Donatelli & Klein will be bringing a representative of the parent company of Fresh Fields to the site in late September or early October. Therefore if you have not done so as of yet, it is essential that you please fax or Email your support for a grocery store to: Larry Clark, project manager, Donatelli & Klein, Fax: 301-654-7675. Email


Bus Stripes
Rich Mintz

Evan Roth notes the new Metrobus striping, and asks "how much do you suppose was spent on coming up with the new scheme?"

As I learned from a Metro employee newsletter that I happened to pick up a couple of months ago on line 3 in Virginia (someone left it on the seat), the new striping was developed by a couple of Metro employees (in response to an employee contest, as I recall), and was selected in part because it saves Metro a couple hundred dollars per bus in painting costs (due to the dropping of blue on the upper part of the bus), while keeping the spirit of the old color scheme. Surprise — somebody did something right! (It happens more often than you think.)


Whose Woods These Are We Already Know
Willie "if I only had the money I woulda bought the woods" Schatz

I don’t have a clue about what’s happening with the woods between WIS and Klingle Road, but I know exactly what’s up with the woods on Van Ness between 44th and 45th: they’re down. A beautiful, pristine (for here) 45,000 square foot parcel has been raped, pillaged and plundered by Zuckerman Brothers. One day it’s green forest; the next it’s a strip mine with trucks, tractors, SaniJohns, gravel and six homes "priced from $600,000". Two are frightenly close to completion; foundations are down for the remaining quartet. Too bad it’s too late to heed Don Henley: "Some rich men came and raped the land/Nobody caught ‘em/They built some houses there/And Jesus, people bought ‘em." You can, too. But you’d best bust ass: the Z Bros warn there are only two left.

A final thought (mine, anyway) about the unspeakable Ben Cooper tragedy. What’s the fastest way to get on the DPW’s shit list: 61 moving violations or two unpaid parking tickets?


Development at Tregaron
Greg Jones

The Northwest Current of September 10th is reporting that a developer has made an offer to buy the Tregaron property off of Macomb Street in Cleveland Park and hopes to build 60 to 70 homes thereon. In view of the many hoops that a developer must successfully jump through before receiving permission to build, do any of you living down that way (or anyone else, for that matter) think there’s any chance of this — or something like it — happening?


Danger in Spring Valley
Ed T. Barron

There are a couple of accidents just waiting to happen in Spring Valley. The lurking danger is two dead trees waiting to topple over on unsuspecting motorists or pedestrians. The first of these dead behemoths is right on heavily traveled Mass. Ave. right in front of that landmark Starbucks. Deader than a doornail this tree has, so far, only shed some small branches. Right around the corner on Fordham Road, adjacent to the Crate and Barrel, is an even more humongous tree that has already dropped a very large twelve inch diameter forty foot limb onto the sidewalk. Calls to the D.C. public works have not yet resulted in removal of these potential killers (perhaps we should call for volunteers to cut down the tree). It is only a matter of time and maybe only one high windy day before these trees come down.


The Mayor’s Scripts
Joan Eisenstodt

Nope, I don’t think it’s a good use of the Mayor’s time to pick up ‘scripts .. but there are (1) pharmacies that deliver and (2) to have two staff people in a city towne car (the mayor’s?) ?out doing his errands doesn’t seem such a good use of time either.


Outdoor Dining at Bread and Chocolate
Greg Jones

While running up Connecticut Avenue the other day, I noticed that the Bread and Chocolate in the 5500 block has set up some tables and chairs on the sidewalk. Does anyone know if this requires the permission of the DC Government and, if so, whether B&C got said permission? I seem to remember that the Italian place a few doors down got into hot water when it expanded outdoors (although that may have been because they built a wooden platform over the sidewalk).


Save Jazz in DC
Gordon Glaza

With the demise of the best jazz radio programming in Washington— WDCU Jazz 90 — we are losing a tremendous local asset. However, it is possible that other FM stations could be interested in picking up portions of Jazz 90’s excellent array of jazz programming. For example, ‘Jazz Masters’ hosted by Tim Masters has broadcast the finest music during weekend time slots over the past 15 years. Please contact these local FM stations and encourage them to pick up where Jazz 90 left off. Steve Martin, Program Director (WAMU-FM), Lou Hankins (WPFW 89.3), and Ralph Malvik (WETA-FM91). If these outstanding jazz programs are simply allowed to die away, the quality of life in DC is forever diminished.


Re: Steph "Alien Abduction in the Plumbing Department" Faul’s Hechinger Experience
Stuart "Why Do They Call Them Sales HELP?" Weiser

Those same space aliens must not have been working there the other day when my wife tried to get some screws and wall anchors in the hardware department. After schlepping our 10-month old daughter and her stroller down the stairs, she discovered that there was no one working there. Well, there was a guy behind the counter with a name tag on, but when she asked him for help, he said he didn’t work there (perhaps his normal department is "customer service") ?She finally got someone to come down from the main level to help her (which required shouting at a passing employee), who proceeded to sell her the wrong item. As much as I want to patronize DC retail, this was the last straw for me with Hechingers — Home Despot, here I come.


On the Other Hand
David Hunter

I have also been in Hechingers on Wisconsin twice in the last week and needed help. Both times it was readily available. They even walked around with me until I had everything I needed and was happy. The difference is astounding. I hope it’s not a fluke!




I would like some recommendation concerning Internet service providers for home. Who is good, who to avoid, what’s a good price, what level of service would be appropriate for a computer-literate family with two teenagers?

Terry Matchette


Young Jewish Leadership Fellini Social

Save Sept. 24 on your calendar for the next Young Jewish Leadership social event. We’ll be having it at Fellini, a hot new restaurant/club at 1800 M Street, from 7pm until 10 PM. There’ll be appetizers and a cash bar. We’ll be asking for $15 per person (except $10 for members). It will be also a good time to join the organization, because anyone who joins that night gets in free. This will be our first party since the very successful Ozio event which we had in the fall, so we are expecting a very good turnout. The Young Jewish Leadership PAC is an organization of young Jewish professionals supporting pro-Israel Republican candidates for Congress.

Also, on Tuesday, September 16, 1997…

The National Institute for Public Leadership’s networking reception/ speech by Rep. Jon Fox (R-PA) on the future of U.S.-Israeli relations will be next week. The Young Jewish Leadership PAC of Washington, D.C., will be co-sponsoring the event with the National Institute and Impact DC. The event will take place at 6:15 p.m., in Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Ofice Building and will be free of charge. Rep. Fox is emerging as an important voice on Middle East policy on the International Relations Committee and is expected to provide an engaging insider’s perspective on recent developments. The event will be underwritten by Laszlo & Associates.

Kenneth Marcus


Discounted Passes for Deep Creek Lake

Visit Harley Farm Bed & Breakfast in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Discounted coupons for three (plus) nights available. Check them out at Best offer. Valid through November 16, 1997.

Jeffrey Itell


Attic Sale: Great Prices!

Tifereth Israel Congregation has - for the taking - two dozen plus school desks and chairs for various ages. Most are 10 or more years old, but in good shape. We’d like them to go to a school or non-profit. TI is located at 7701 16th St. NW., that is, 16th and Juniper Streets, NW. If interested, call our Executive Director Michael Shapiro at (202) 882-1605 or me at 202 726 6415 or send me an email.

Carl Bergman


Hockey Tickets For Sales

I’ve got a pair of great season tickets to the Washington Caps … These are lower level, center ice seats … I am looking for sell some of my tickets, preferably in groups of 5, 10, or 20 games. The tickets are not cheap (the Caps upped the price in connection with moving to the new MCI Arean).

Steve Hoffman (301) 270-8520


Temporary Housing Sought

Professional female (28), non-smoker with no pets seeks temporary housing (7 months) in Glover Park or Georgetown starting 10/1. Please leave a message for Stephanie Fitzgerald at 202-333-8486.

Stacey Patmore


Executive Desk For Sale

Six foot, solid wood, walnut, elegant, executive desk for sale. Perfect condition. $650.00.

Jerry Lorentz


Office To Sublet, Part-time

Psychotherapy office available ½ time (or less) in building opposite the zoo. Available for therapy and/or as an inexpensive way to have a part-time place of your own for writing, reading, quiet.

Edna R. Small 328-1083


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