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December 17, 1997

Your Electronic Backfence

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

***With the help of generous listeners like you, WTOP has already raised more than $100,000, this year, for "A Place for the Kids"***

Your tax-deductible donation is being used to rebuild the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubhouse at 2nd & M, NW—right off New York Avenue.

Help us finish the structural work in time for Christmas by sending your tax-deductible contribution to "A Place for the Kids" WTOP Radio, 3400 Idaho Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016. All proceeds—every penny—go to the effort!

(Our goal is to raise another $30,000 for backboards, hoops, and bleachers.)


Dear Neighbors:

Thank you, Art Spitzer. It’s the Knapp Commission, the commission that made Serpico famous and launched Al Pacino. Thank you, Bruce Abramson, who reminded me of the (Warren) Christopher Commission in Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots. Both commissions were outside looks at the respective police departments — all in the tradition of the Teddy Roosevelt-era muckrakers, the Untouchables, and the Tom Dewey. It seems like everyone is now going to investigate DC’s finest. But most of the investigators are tainted because Larry Soulsby was their man. An outsider with experienced investigators could gain the confidence of the citizenry. Nothing less will do, I’m afraid. And, boy, am I afraid of what they will find.


* Here’s a special holiday gift idea for the family Matriarch or Patriarch*

Preserve those special memories with "Video History Services" .We provide quality audio and video interviewing services for people who wish to preserve their family history. VHS Staff—using skilled interviewing techniques—will capture the warmth, energy, sense of humor and overall personality of loved-ones being interviewed. Photos, home movies & video, favorite music and other memorabilia can be used to edit-together a video biography that tells a colorful story—for the benefit of future generations.

Video History Services: "Helping People Recall the Past for Memories to Last." For more information, please contact Reed Dewey at 202/363-8433 or


Jeffrey Itell


Universities as Movie Venues
Glenn Harnden, Associate Dean 202-885-2080

Your comments about the demise of "art" movie houses in D.C. was picked up by Ivy Broder, Dean of Academic Affairs at AU and, ultimately, forwarded to me. In fact, American University’s School of Communication is one of the leading schools in the country. We are a professionally-oriented school, with undergraduate and M.A. programs in print and broadcast journalism, public relations, and film and video. We have over 700 undergraduates and over 300 M.A. students, and are the second largest school of communication in the United States in terms of graduating M.A. students.

Now to the point you were discussing. We do have a Wechsler theater, equipped to project 16mm, 35mm, and all electronic (video and multimedia) formats. The theater seats 100. We have regular classes and screenings of films (mostly classics — genre, great directors, international, etc.) for film study courses in the theater from morning until 11:00 PM Monday through Thursday. On Friday evenings and sometimes on the weekends we have special events, sometimes showing local independent work, sometimes showing hard to find or recent international works, sometimes showing faculty and student work, occasionally premiering more alumni work, etc. Recently, I have thinking about how we might try to fill the gap in the screening of international and art features. The problem is that, as a non-profit institution, we cannot charge admission, so we have no easy way of paying for the film rentals. Donations seldom pay the expenses. Am very open to ideas. I greatly miss the films screened at the Circle, the Biograph, the Key, and would like to see a theater for international and independent works get started.


Chaos on the Horizon
Ed T. Barron

If you think the delayed school opening this Fall was a disaster, hold onto your hats. The policy established by the appointed school board to retain students in the third and sixth grades who do not meet the minimum standards in reading and math, will make that school opening disaster pale in comparison. More than 50% of the students in those grades are at risk of being held back in grade. It will be like withholding all the timber cut in one year in Alaska and the releasing it next year. There will be a log jam in the schools that the school system is totally unprepared for and ill equipped to handle. And think of the impact on the kids and the outrage of their parents.

One should expect the appointed school board to be pro-active in this situation and to be finding ways to identify those students likely not to meet minimum stds, to conduct tutoring, add teacher’s aides, reduce class size, conduct after school and Saturday programs, and to plan for a Summer session to get these students up to grade level. If our kids can’t read they won’t learn. It’s that simple.

Where is the plan to help these kids? Where is the plan to handle the new classes that will flood the third and sixth grades?


The Continuing Saga Of Metropolitan Baptist Church…Leslie Miles

I know this is a little late in coming, but it surprised me that no-one pointed out that the members of Beecher Hicks’ church live in Maryland and Virginia— check the tags on the cars. If they hadn’t invited the Council (at the last possible moment) Clinton would have been addressing a room almost entirely bereft of residents about DC’s problems. And it should be noted that the church is suing the local community association to try to get the Logan Circle historic district overturned because it is preventing a monstrous building from being erected in the middle of the neighborhood. Great place to address DC, Mister President.


Police Commission And New Chief Required
Ronald G. Eberhardt

For most of us it has been evident for quite a long time that among all of the dysfunctional department’s of D. C. Government that the police was the most dangerously so. Years of corruption, cronyism and incompetence have come home to roost. From unsolved murders to outright police corruption the citizens of Washington have never been in more danger then today.

Unfortunately, the same incapable D. C. Council and dishonest Mayor who have presided over decades of decay appear to be the ones who are yet directing police reform! It appears that these two are now even leading the Control Board Members. That is incomprehensible since the Board was created to protect us from these very numb-skulls !

The answer is clear and easy - - that is, if anyone has the courage to make the call. Congress - yes they are the only ones who can do this - ought to pass emergency legislation which creates a federal commission to investigate police corruption and misconduct. Someone of the stature and competency of former FBI Director and federal jurist William Webster should be appointed to head this commission. This body would have Federal subpoena authority, take sworn testimony and offer plea bargain deals for credible evidence where needed. The U. S. Justice Department should prosecute the cases and there will be plenty of cases to prosecute.


Art Spitzer

Carl Bergman writes: Monday’s Post noted that the MPD lost 249 officers and signed up 246. A net change of three. The story notes new officers make about $30,000 per year. Not so those leaving. While not every officer retires on full pension, their last position usually pays more than $30,000. Lets call it $40,000. That means every departing officer leaves a $10,000 windfall. That’s $2,490,000

I don’t purport to know the numbers, but this seems to me a risky assumption. The retiring officers get pensions, which may well be larger than the difference between their salaries and the salaries of the new officers, resulting in a net loss.


"I’ve met the enemy, and he is us" (for those of us who remember Pogo)
Larry Seftor

I most strongly agree with John Whiteside’s comments about the trouble with D.C. — it is the Washingtonians, who are truly getting the Government they deserve. It is easy to blame Barry, it is easy to blame the Congress, and it is easy to blame the control board. But it is inconvenient to blame ourselves. And as a resident of Ward 3, it is easy to blame the remainder of the city, who can out vote us. It is also easy to say that money is a problem, when anyone who looks at the figures knows that $5,000,000,000 is plenty of money for about 550,000 people (even with the former pension liability).

The complacency is all around. Years ago I used to attend community meetings, until I was sickened with the residents who thought well of the schools (from their memory of 30 years ago) and felt that the police were working under great disadvantages (which they refused to see was caused by waste and malfeasance within the department). For those who care, voting is just the first step. Make an appointment with your city council member, take an hour of so off from work, and meet with them. From my couple of visits, the District building could use the fresh air of some direct citizen input. Don’t accept explanations — demand good Government.


Big Jack
Jon Desenberg

As someone who goes both to the MCI and the Big Jack in Landover I can’t overstate the difference between the two. Its not just the Big Jack’s horrible location and terrible traffic that makes it a nightmare. Its the throw-it-up archi-torture that really bothers me, I know Mr. Cooke wanted to see it completed before he died, but did he really have to leave us with a stadium that has a chain-link fence for an exterior wall… As opposed to the MCI, Cooke left us with a cold, bland, and unfinished looking concrete shell.

The difference in values between Mr. Pollin and Mr. Cooke is reflected in their very different arenas.


The New Arena
Rob Frazier

Call it the Pollin Arena, the DC Arena, the Downtown Arena, the Gallery Place Arena, or the Chinatown Arena, but, unless you have personally negotiated a lucrative "Saying Rights" contract between you and a local, major, soon-to-be-sold long distance telephone company, don’t use three initials starting with "M" to refer to that arena.

I am very glad that Mr. Pollin has built his arena in downtown Washington, and I am glad that MCI was headquartered in Washington, but just because they gave Abe a whole lot of money, doesn’t mean that we have to give them a whole lot of free advertising every time we refer to events at the Gallery Place Arena.

I also strongly object to my DC tax dollars paying for those big, green, free advertising directional signs all over downtown. Are they directing us to 7th & F Sts, or 1801 Pa Ave? They should be replaced. But I’ll let sleeping dogs lie if Abe can find and honor some sportsperson with a name like Marcus C. Imani.… And while I’m griping, the same goes for the LARGO Center, and the Cooke’skin Stadium in LANDOVER.


So you’re interested in that big advertising spot in the beginning of dc.story? Contact Jan Genzer — the dc.story marketing maven—at or call him at 202.364.0383.


dc.query Wanted, reliable, cheap place to have my VCR repaired, or at least an estimate.

Phil Greene


The Society of Young Jewish Professionals presents its 11th annual Christmas Eve events on Wed, December, 24 8:00pm- the Matzo Ball at LuLu’s which is located on 22nd & M Streets, NW Washington, DC, call 202-861-LuLu for directions. Also for a slightly older crowd, the BIG CHILL(35+) at Capitol City Brewing Company 7735 Old Georgetown Rd. Bethesda, MD, call 301-652-2282 for directions. Doors for both parties will open at 8:00 and tickets are $25 at door or $20 with advance reservation. Call 1-888-633-5326 to reserve your tickets now, last year-Sold Out. The Matzo Ball and Big Chill are the original Christmas Eve Events and accept no imitations. Please visit our home page at Any questions or comments contact us at:, or call us: 202-452-5541.

Michael Goldstein


Looking for child care and household help, 20-30 hours/week. Several months ago, a few people wrote in raving about their nannies. At the time, I didn’t need one — now I do! Please call Andrea at 202-797-1009 if you have a recommendation.

Andrea Carlson


Office/computer chair: ergonomically correct, swivel, adjustable, comfy — can be used with or without arm rests at desk or computer station. Slate gray fabric. Purchased for ~$200 at Staples two years ago....not used much and has been un-assembled (2 pieces, plus arm rests) for ease in transport to new home. $75 or best offer.

Donna Loop 202-237-7942


Massage: Holiday Special! BodyWise BodyWorks has the perfect solution for office, friend, sweetheart: Gift Certificates for a full hour Spoiler Massage. Buy Two, Get A Third For Half Price! Call Jenn: 202-966-6113.

Jenn Weed


Residential Job Opportunity at AFSC Washington DC facility

Jim Matlack, director, Washington office of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), indicated a need for help at Davis House, the guest house for international visitors which also provides the base of operations for the AFSC Washington, DC office. Mr. Matlack indicated that he is eager to talk with any persons who might be willing and suitable to take on live-in responsibility for a residential facility near Dupont Circle in Washington, DC for an extended period in the Winter and/or Spring of 1998. This might be a perfect situation for people between jobs, or recently retired people.

Compensation and benefits are subject to AFSC guidelines and open discussion. The position involves long hours but a varied work pace with periods of relative quiet. Interested persons should contact: James Matlack, Director, Washington office at 202-483-3341. (e-mail can be sent to ). The Web address for the American Friends Service Committee is

Joanna Rom


Excellent opportunity to make a difference in 1.5 to 2 hours per week as a volunteer at Recording for the Blind and Dyslectic of Washington. The studio is near the Friendship Heights Metro, in a building with free underground parking for volunteers. Service is needed as reader, taping monitor (recording engineer), and other tasks to facilitate the recording of books (mostly textbooks for students). Friendly atmosphere, professional work, excellent training program to get you started, with a national organization that is doing great things to provide students and others with recorded materials on a no-cost basis. This program enables countless students to excell at high school, college, grad school, and in careers by providing tapes for the visually-impaired and dyslectic. Recent research indicates that dyslexia can be overcome/eased by listening to the tapes while looking at the text and diagrams. Both day and evening sessions. Please call 202-244-8990 to speak to a staffer.

Stew Reuter, a volunteer at RFTB


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

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