Your Electronic Backfence
dc.story is presented in association with Washingtons News Station WTOP-1500 AM and 94.3 FM. Wherever you are in the DC area, tune your radio to the strongest signal, and lock-in the latest news, traffic, weather and sports *** WTOP-AM and FM!
Space is tight and its way past my bedtimeso Ill be brief. You may want to check out Fridays edition of the Washington Post Weekend Section. On the other hand, you may not. Cryptically yours.
Theres more good news about DC management from my alma mater, what some of us called the Gentle Accounting Office. DC is big on overtime and still not very good at counting students. Want to read for yourself? Here are the cites. By the way, dc.story is always looking for good web-based information. Send us your links. And if you have time to read these documents, tell us what they say.
District of Columbia Government: Overtime Costs Exceed Those of Neighboring Governments. GGD-97-159BR. 33 pp. plus 2 appendices (2 pp.) September 11, 1997. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/gg97159b.pdf
- District of Columbia Public Schools: Student Enrollment Count Remains Vulnerable to Errors. HEHS-97-161. 33 pp. plus 6 appendices (13 pp.) August 21, 1997. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/he97161.pdf
Check-out the exciting Cooking Classes at FRESH FIELDS/Whole Foods Market!
FRESHFIELDS/Whole Foods Market is offering: >>"Cooking for Rookies" Series >>Special Theme Classes >>Guest Chef Series
***"Green Cuisine"*** Wednesday, September, 24 at the Tenley store. Thursday, September 25 at the Georgetown store.
Learn how simple and delicious vegetarian cooking can be! Well show you leek and shitake mushroom burgers, acron squash-filled manicotti, and grilled tofu kebabs dressed in sesame & ginger. . . Mmmmm!
Classes begin at 7 pm. The cost is $25 per person or $40 for two"Bring a Friend."
***Mention dc.story and get your second class at half price!***
For more Info or to sign-up, please call FRESH FIELDS/Whole Foods Market at 301/984-4874 x 3089.
In this issue of dc.story, co-dependency with Maryland, in defense of Chavous, the Control Board gets down and dirty, and a humvee of a loophole.
Hey Maryland, How Come You Cut Us Off?
Solutions to DCs democratic dilemma usually run in one of four directions: Statehood, Constitutional Amendment, retrocession, or various forms of lump it or leave it. Lets add another: suing Maryland to let District citizens vote for Congress as part of Maryland. Heres why. When Maryland seceded land to the federal government, it specified that it would not diminish any persons rights. When Congress accepted the session, it specified that Maryland and Virginia law would continue unless changed. Living in DC did not automatically cause disenfranchisement. In Constance Greens Pulitzer Prize winning DC history she notes, "On November 11,  voters from Washington journeyed to Bladensburg, Maryland, to cast their ballots in the nation election; Georgetowners and Alexandrians voted in their own cities." P 23. This was the last time DC residents voted for Congress for about 10 years - from retrocession to when Congress moved in.
When Congress moved to DC, it was assumed that we lost the vote, but no statute expressly said so. Congress does rule the citys workings, and the referendum on the Home Rule Charter probably ends any argument that the local laws of Maryland have not been superseded. Congressional representation is quite another matter. Congress has never passed a law on the right to vote for the Senate. In the house, our non-voting delegate is either simply a non sequetor or an unconstitutional denial of the right to vote for Congress. The presidential vote is covered by Constitutional Amendment. (Walter Fautroys Voting Rights Amendment is simply a failed attempt at a law.) As a practical matter, if a suit were brought it would probably wind up in the Supreme Court. The odds of wining there are not great, but it is possible that Maryland might be delighted to have a larger Congressional Delegation and not fight the suit. Thats probably wishful thinking, but sometimes living in DC requires just that.
Given the choices of the people who are thinking about running for mayor, why are you discounting Kevin Chavous? First, as a staunch democrat, I think that contributing money to a republican is unacceptable. However, I didnt see you getting upset when Harold Brazils PAC contributed last year to Tom Daviss and James Walshs re-election campaigns. Second, its below the belt to say what Chavous will do after hes left public service. Im just as upset as you are about how Chavous is only a part time council person. This is why the job should be full time. That is one reason that we both like Kathy Paterson, shes there giving us her best, every day all day. Putting him in the John Ray category for conflict of interest politicians is unfair. Ray now states that we should privatize D.C. prisons. This is after failing to do anything while on the council (for 15 years) to fix them when he had a chance.
Ward 7 was previously represented by H.R. Crawford who was a corrupt, one-time council member whose slum lord-like property management, got in trouble with HUD. Chavous is honest, sane, competent and smart. Limiting the choice of sane, competent people who can run for mayor in 1998 is counter productiveunless you support our current mayor, who needs of course to retire.
Say What You Will About the Control Board, But NB Keenan NBK@gsionline.com
There is a property on my block that has been an abandoned nuisance for a long, long time. I have tried calling the Housing Complaints office at DCRA so many times that I pretty much know every employee of the office by name. I have called and written letters to my councilmember, Jack Evans. I have called and written the Mayors office. I have attended every public meeting in my neighborhood for months, and made impassioned speeches and reasoned pleas. In short, I have made a pest of myself. To no avail still the weeds grew, the garbage gathered, the crackheads camped, and the owner slithered away unbothered while the city bureaucracy repelled me with ever more imaginative and less believable excuses.
On August 25th, I wrote a letter addressed to Andrew Brimmer, describing my experience. I closed it by saying, "Please Dr. Brimmer, enforce the law." On September 16th, last Tuesday, I noticed a $200 ticket on the property in question not much, but a start. On Saturday morning workmen were on the property, erecting a fence, covering the windows, cutting the weeds and picking up trash. Now, Ill be the first to admit that this is no way to run a city if the employees at DCRA were actually doing anything it would be disruptive to have to jump every time a citizen squawks but it is undeniably an improvement.
Some Perspective Might Be In Order
Whats wrong with this picture? The D.C area has grocery prices 30-40 percent higher than any other region, Maryland has the highest cancer rate in the nation, the entire Metro area has the worst traffic and air quality this side of southern California, the fish in local waters are dying in droves.....and everyones gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands over Marion Barrys latest pronouncements. In view of the aforementioned problems, I can assure you that the desperate moves of an aging, political eunuch are the least of your worries.
Jeff, Im quite interested in your sponsorship of the book talk. Mr. Siegels work looks quite interesting. Will we be getting any additional details? Has there been a book review out in the papers yet?
[Why Nick Im glad you asked. The Washington Times gave it a stellar and prominent review. John Leo of US News calls it, "The best book about cities in decades." And there are numerous other reviews, all extremely favorable so far. And,yes, I will be providing details, ad nauseam, as infinitum.
Just What Tony Williams Wanted to Hear
Last weeks Post article by Dr. Gridlock had a piece about reporting persons who live in D.C. but register them in other states to avoid the one time tax you pay when you register that car in D.C. Theres a big loophole in the enforcement of that regulation. If the car is parked on private property (in the driveway, or in a garage on the owners property, then the law can not be enforced. Only if the car is parked on the city street (and observed in that, or nearby, location for thirty days) can the owner of that car receive a warning that he must register that car in D.C. So, if you are buying a new car, live in a private home with a driveway or garage, and want to avoid the tax that D.C. would impose if you register the car in D.C., just register it in a state where you know someone and the state imposes no tax on the registration that is based on the value of the car. This is a loophole big enough to drive a Humvee through.
And further more.
The Districts meter maids and parking enforcement personnel are striking gold in Spring Valley. There are precious few operating parking meters left in the city for the meter maids to catch cars parked over their allotted time. One of the few enclaves of operating parking meters is on the side road which parallels Mass. Ave. in front of Crate and Barrel, Starbucks, and Sutton Place Gourmet in Spring Valley. Those wishing to dash in for a cuppa at Starbucks or a loaf of bread at Sutton Place return to find their cars ticketed each day by a hungry pack of parking enforcement folks lurking across Mass. Ave. in the Spring Valley Shopping Ctr. parking lot. When there are no more meters left will we still have to pay for the meter maids?
DC Drivers License
I recently had my first experience with the DMV, or rather my boyfriend did. Both of our license are from out of state so we need to take the written test (I believe Ill just have to take the written because my license hasnt expired and hell have to take the written and road because his did), so he took a day off work and went up to the DMV on the errand of "getting the study book." When he came home I asked if I could see it. In Pennsylvania (and Im given to understand other states also) you get a book with various rules of the road and you study it and go take your test.
Imagine my surprise in finding out that what you get in DC is a) only a brochure and b) its a brochure with 80 multiple choice questions and answers of which 20 will be on your test. Maybe I was just naive, but this doesnt seem like a way to screen out unsafe drivers. Im not naive enough to believe that everyone is going to know everything in the admittedly small book and follow it all the time just because they took the exam, but at least an attempt was made to familiarize the person with the rules of the road.
My Kingdom for WHFS
I can never pick up this station in my house, located just off Connecticut Avenue on Davenport but surrounded by apartment buildings. Another problem seems to be WKYS nearby, which seems to dominate that part of the dial. I have tried all kinds of radios (I think). Any suggestions?
Famous DCers Needed Correction
Roberta Flack was pretty much an exclusive at Mr. Henrys on Capitol Hill.
Convention Posting Correction
My correct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Whitesides contention that people who attend conventions use the shuttles between hotels and centers is a good one and supported somewhat by my experience as a meeting organizer and participant and the reason the folks in Shaw do NOT want the Center. The Center folks and some others contend that those who attend meetings at the new Center WILL use Metro, thus cutting down on bus traffic in Shaw.
The issues remain the same: increased bus and taxi traffic in Shaw. Those who attend city-wide meetings use both and esp. use taxis in the "off hours" (times when shuttles dont run and people want to get back and forth to hotels and the centers) the issues have not been well-addressed but it probl. doesnt matter. Seems were getting a new Center in the Shaw nhood no matter what say most sources.
A few weeks ago I inaccurately predicted that some of the schools would not be ready for opening today. That was a bad prediction. The roofing contractors did a magnificent job in completing work that was nearly impossible based on the schedule they signed up for. The only bad news is that to accomplish this work the contractors had to work beau coups overtime and premium time. The bill for this will likely blow our socks off since no contractor would have signed up for that job on a fixed price basis. There was no practical alternative given the late start date.
Cynthia Harrison asks why Radio Shack is pushing Sprint. Well, I suspect that its because theyre a Sprint dealer. I used to be a Sprint Spectrum user but cancelled after a few too many incorrect bills, unresolved incorrect charges, and threatening letters about amounts that I didt owe them. The kicker was being told by the customer service rep to ignore the letter because theyre having trouble with their billing systems. I asked why they send threatening letters to customers when they _know_ the billing system is screwed up. "I dont know." I switched to Bell Atlantic and have had excellent service. Id recommend them.
25 September 1997, 7:30 p.m. National Zoo, Education Building
In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Francisco Dallmeier, director of the Smithsonians Measuring and Assessment of Biodiversity program, will present "Guarding Natures Crown Jewels: Assessing and Monitoring Biological Richness in Tropical and Temperate Rainforests." He will explain why collecting and analyzing data is critical to understanding fragile forest ecosystems and predicting what the future holds for them.
Enter at Connecticut Ave. Park in Lot A. Free, but please RSVP by calling (202) 673-4801 or e-mailing email@example.com
***For information re advertising, contact Jan Genzerthe dc.story marketing mavenat Oltjan@aol.com or 202/364-0383.***
Temporary Housing Sought
Female professional non-smoker seeks room in group house or studio apt. in Glover Park, Georgetown, Cleveland Park, or Woodley Park for at least 6 months. Move in between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1. Leave a message for Stephanie Fitzgerald at 202-333-8486 or email me.
Stacey Patmore firstname.lastname@example.org
Delbe Home Services
To those of you who tried to reach our web page from our posting in the last issue, we had a typo in the web page address. It should have read http://www.delbe.com Our email address was correct at email@example.com
David Burka firstname.lastname@example.org
Also free! dc.movie: Free movie passes, short movie reviews, and movie discussion. Send an email message to email@example.com to subscribe.
dc.story is a discussion group. The opinions stated are the sole responsibility of the authors. dc.story does not verify information provided by readers.
Kibitzing by Jeffrey Itell. Copyright © 1997 All rights reserved.
Send mail with questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)