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February 1, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

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Dear Neighbors:

This issue is devoted mostly to the semi-whimsical Tony Williams poll I concocted on Thursday. As I write, it appears that Williams is leaning against a run for office. He plans to announce his intentions on Monday. Consequently, I will make every effort to get these results to him before then.

First a caveat. Having worked in and around the field of statistical sampling and polling for my entire professional life, I have perhaps less respect for its validity than the average person does. This is not the place to into all the arguments but suffice to say that if polling was predictive, Clinton ought to either (a) begin hitting on interns or (b) continue to hit on interns to improve his job performance ratings. Polling does not work that way, especially when you phrase the Tony Williams question the way I did.

Nevertheless, I think polling can be indicative and surprising. Here is what you said in response to the last message. Eighty-three of you encouraged Tony Williams to throw his bow tie into the ring. While not a large percentage of dc.story readers (the number of subscribers is a trade secret), this total is as large as any response I have received to offering free movie passes on In another words, just as many people want to see Tony Williams run for office as they wanted to see The Full Monty. In addition, 20 readers volunteered to work for a Williams's bid for mayor.

The Marion Barry camp did not do so well. Only three dc.story readers placed his name in the subject line and no one wrote a word on his behalf.

Twelve readers fell into the neither camp. They were Republicans, Democrats who supported other candidates, or people who found the rush to judgment distasteful. One person questioned Williams' competency.

In place of the usual format, I will group excerpted comments together, first those in favor of a Williams's candidacy and then those opposed. For lack of comments, there is no Marion Barry section. To save space and make the text more readable, I am publishing unattributed comments. The rest of the kibitzing follows.

Jeffrey Itell


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Comments in Favor of a Tony Williams Candidacy

Tony Tony Tony

TONY! (I liked him before it was cool to like him)

Even Monica Lewinsky would be an improvement. :)

Anthony Williams is as good a candidate as we are likely to get--nobody really sensible would want to be Mayor of this city--and if he is willing to run, I'll be all for him.

You wrote that Barry "squeaked" by John Ray and Mayor Kelly. He won the primary by over 14,700 votes. Hardly a squeaker...

* Barry 66,777 [47%] * Ray 52,088 [37%] * Kelly 18,717 [13%]

Sure, I would support Williams. At least he's honest and competent.

Jeff: So you rigged the poll! Like you're the first or you'll be the last? Not in this life. This is politics, remember? Master Dick Daley would be extremely proud at your Machiavellian maneuvers. And Boss Tweed would genuflect in admiration. So I'm in. May even do some Tony time if I can find some Willie time.

Tony sans bow tie.

Tony--anyone other than Marion, really.

A lot of open support from Ward 3 for Anthony Williams might just be the kiss of death. Better for us to lurk in the background until primary day and then come out of our caves in massive droves to vote for this best of what is out there so far. I think he might just make a good mayor. He admits mistakes when he makes them (unlike unnamed politician whose only mistake was being caught with a non-bubble pipe in his mouth). Williams has a lot going for him but he should not play coy here and ask for a draft. If he's going to run he should say so and get out on the stump.

I think your idea is a good one.

He came and spoke to the Glover Park Citizens Association some time ago. He wowed us.

I think I'd be willing to volunteer. I want to check in to Mr. Williams background a little more before committing to the idea of volunteering (I don't like to make commitments I don't fully intend to keep, though his running does sound like at least one of the better ideas I've heard in a while)

Yeah, but I've rarely seen him make a public statement. Can he win our hearts as a person?

Sure, let's encourage him to run.

Williams would make an ideal candidate. However, he would also be a much better target for Marion since he (Tony) would be a living symbol of the Control Board, which Marion has already identified as his main opponent in the upcoming election. As you say, Jeff, the only way this could work would be if the other Dems (Evans, Brazil, et al) were to drop out because of a ground swell of support for Williams.

How about a Carol Schwartz and Anthony Williams Ticket. Carol could handle the politics and schmoozing and Tony could handle running the place!

Put me firmly in the Anyone-But-Barry camp. Sorry I can't volunteer from here, but presumably if they can vote from the cemetery, I can vote from San Antonio. Throw the bum out!

Tony, why not? Who else is there?

Tony should run but this is not an endorsement.


Comments Not In Support of a Tony Williams Candidacy

You wanted us to vote on whether Anthony Williams should run for mayor. "Yes" was to put his name in the subject. "No" was "Marion Barry." My answer is No, let's elect Carol Schwartz.

I have nothing against Williams. I don't know that much about him or his vision of how government should work. But I'd have to find out a lot more to know if I wanted to vote for him, and the next mayor doesn't *have* to be a Democrat, you know. I say this as a Democrat my own self.

Why not put a "'Williams for Mayor" banner on the top of the web site? I think that replacing Barry is the first priority--Numero uno...but why start organizing the first ship to come along? On the contrary, I think that Chavous, Brazil and Evans all have the ability to beat Barry. Why not do a real poll with all the choices, rather than a campaign ad for someone who really doesn't want the job. How about Eric Holder? Plotkin's first choice. Oh that's right, he never wanted the job. I think that those who have the guts to ask for the job deserve our attention.

Carol Schwartz.

Tony--before I work for his candidacy I want to know him better. What exactly has he done for us? What are his positions on issues other than home rule? How can we find out where he stands on things other than financial? What is his history? And While I don't mind dc.story soliciting help on behalf of a candidate, I don't think it's time to be urging support for one.

Not Marion.

If Williams is taken seriously by the electorate, it will truly mean that the lifeboats are all gone and that the citizens are grasping at straws. During my tenure on one of the few DC programs that worked -- on time and under budget, his minions systematically attacked us. He certainly hired people just like himself. This hotshot accountant never understood the difference between grant money and appropriated funds during my entire tenure there. Maybe he has learned since, but I doubt it. If a pack of fools could steal the city blind, imagine what an accountant in the top slot could do.

Could we find out some more about Anthony Williams before we vote? It is good that he is intelligent, politically astute, and has done his job. What has he done to make us think that he can get a handle on the bureaucracy? That is what did in Sharon Pratt Kelly -- she had no experience of managing a large organization, much less one totally committed to self-aggrandizement.

While your candor in admitting that your poll is skewed is refreshing, it is still skewed. As for myself, I'm working for Jack Evans, who _has_ announced (unlike Mr. Williams). I agree with you wholeheartedly that Mr. Williams would make an excellent mayor -- he is extremely intelligent and brings about all the experience one could reasonably expect to have to the job. But its foolhardy to think that Evans (and Brazil and Chavous) would defer to Williams (who has no political machine) when they are not deferring to Barry or each other. Even if Barry's "strategy" is 'divide-and-conquer', a "Draft Tony" campaign will do little more than play INTO that strategy. If Williams and Evans split the Ward two and three vote, and Chavous and Brazil take most of their respective wards, Barry still wins by more than 50 percent (assuming all wards have equivalent population and turnouts).


Tony Williams should stick to his job and get the district on better footing, before running for Mayor. No, I am not a Marion Barry fan and want a new mayor, but want Williams to make sure the systems are up and running before he tackles the entire city.

I have never voted for Marion and never ever will, but I am not willing to follow your polling method. I do think it is possible that someone other than Barry can win in a crowded field. I think that Evans has a real chance. On Tony Williams, I recommend the thoughtful comments in today's Post-- he should resign now if he wants to be mayor. His integrity and impartiality will inevitably be questioned, if not compromised, by his contemplation of elective office.


And In Other News....

Car Inspection
Art Spitzer

Regarding the closure of one inspection station, Margaret Yoma Ullman asks, "can we start a campaign to allow inspection at any time during one's designated month rather than holding it to a particular date?" I wonder how many others suffer under this misconception. You are free to get reinspected any time you want to. You can go two months before your sticker expires if you want to. If you don't like waiting on those long lines in the hot summer months, just go get reinspected now and your stickers will expire in January from now on.


Car Stuff
steph "Let them drive mopeds" Faul

D.C. Story can't afford Dr. Gridlock, of course, so amateurs must leap in to the breach. Hence the following:

1. The inspection sticker date is a deadline, not an appointment. You can have your car inspected before, on, or even after the day indicated if you can escape the parking harpies. The move to two-year inspections has cut the wait considerably, but if you care about such things the slowest months are December, January, and February. (Or were a few years ago, when I last looked into this issue.)

2. Not only do seat belts save lives, seat belt *laws* save lives because the increase compliance. When people protest loudly and often about some innocuous regulation, this raises doubts about their ability and willingness to comply. Thus, I do believe in protecting people from themselves, especially those people who insist they're so grown-up they don't need laws to behave properly.

3. On a personal level, I live very close to the new Friendship Heights development. I am interested to see how Montgomery County will cope with traffic at the intersection of Wisconsin and Western; the Saturday before Christmas was probably a foretaste of what's to come and it wasn't pretty. God bless the Metro, because that'll soon be the only way to get out of the District.


Intern Nostalgia
Connie Ridgway

I came to Washington DC in 1978 for an internship from Penn State University. I worked in Anacostia at Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit which helps people to buy and/or renovate their home for low cost. My most enlightening experience was traveling from Adams Morgan to Anacostia on the 96 bus every day. Usually I was the only white person on the bus. Being a young, scared suburbanite, I sat way in the front next to the driver until one day when I felt comfortable enough to venture further back. Sitting in about the middle, I was happily reading the paper when an older gentleman, with noticeable alcohol breath, turned around from the seat in front of me and murmured, "You white Jezebel!" I wasn't sure whether to be frightened or complimented. (I did however return to my seat next to the driver for several more trips.)

In the 20 years since, I have grown to enjoy living in a town which offers such diversity and challenge. I never have wanted to move, and the current challenge of government "re-engineering" will not keep me from living in the city I love and appreciate.


The 25th Anniversary of the Metrobus system
Terry Matchette

Try taking a 30 series bus from Eastern Market west on Pennsylvania Avenue to the end of the line. You'll get to see first class views of the Library of Congress, the Capitol, House Office Buildings, Air and Space Museum, National Gallery of Art, National Archives, Navy Memorial, FBI Building, White House, Georgetown, National Cathedral, and all of Wisconsin Avenue to Friendship Heights. Not even the Tourmobile has a better ride!


Regarding Democracy
Richard "Chooses Sobriquets Badly" Rothblum

Re Mark Richards' comments on my thesis that democracy is not the answer to everything: Most people confuse democracy with rights. Virtually every totalitarian regime has dressed itself in some sort of democratic guise. Yes, the people can vote, and the Brezhnevs, Mobutus, Amins and Saddams keep on getting elected. (I guess I left out Hitler, who was more or less democratically installed as Fuehrer.) More important than a vote is the right to speak out and to be protected from the excesses of government. I am not saying that democracy is unimportant, but that rights are more important. The American Colonists had the right to vote at the time of the Revolution. They could elect representatives to the British Parliament. What they objected to in the Declaration of Independence was not the lack of a vote, but the infringement of their rights as British subjects. When I (lightheartedly) signed my screed "Vote with Your Feet," in the context of my argument, that should have been interpreted as, "Don't Come Here If You Don't Like It," not "Love It Or Leave It. " People who are born into an unfair situation have the duty to try to change it, whereas those who move to a place which they know to be unfair have diminished grounds for complaint.


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.



Roller Blading Lessons.
Valerie Kenyon Gaffney

I recently bought roller blades, and although I've managed to stay upright the three or four times I've been out, what I really need is the name/phone number of a group or retail outlet that offers lessons. Any suggestions?


Washington Tasting Society Presents:
Charlie Adler

Thursday, Feb. 5th, "Wine Basics 101", 6:30-9:00PM, Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW, Washington, D.C., $30.00, RSVP at (202)333-5588 or email:, New Location to accommodate the phenomenal demand! This introductory class focuses on the wine basics with Michael Franz, Wine Columnist for the Washington Post.


Have you ever wanted to learn how to tell a great story? Washington Storytellers Theatre offers "Telling Tales," a workshop in storytelling for novices. Using personal reminiscences, folk tales, and fairy tales, participants will explore the art of storytelling as an extension of conversation. Storytelling skills will be learned through games and exercises. Taught by Ann Mesritz, co-founder of WST. Spring session begins February 4 and space is still available. The class takes place on 8 Wednesday evenings at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, Washington, DC. The cost is $175; a $50 non-refundable deposit is required. Space is still available! Information: 703/549-6657. Robert Revere


Searching for highly qualified administrative assistant to work approx 35 hours/week in home-based office in Cleveland Park. Qualifications: Outstanding administrative, organizing, computing, budgeting/bookkeeping, secretarial and some research skills. Excellent references required. Good salary. Some work could be done from home. Position available early April, 1998. Please write to Meg Saunders (c/o Schorr, 3113 Woodly Road, NW, WDC 20008) or e-mail Meg Saunders


Couples Massage Training Class.
Jenn Weed

Enrich Your Relationship with the BEST back massage. Everything supplied, very limited size class, warm, secure environment. $100. per couple. Sunday, February 15, 2-5pm 3701 Conn. Ave Cleveland Pk. Call Today 202-966-6113 to register.


Work it!, an exercise studio in Woodley Park, is offering a workout class for these over 50 called 50+ Fitness on Monday nights at 5:30. The class is 55 minutes long and is designed to work on strength, balance, flexibility, bone density and cardiovascular endurance. Plus, it's a great way to meet new friends! Call Rachel or Zoe at Work it! (202)319-1939 or e-mail with questions. Rachel Posell


Party Time?

Marcus Rosenbaum

Ginger at Uptown Caterers in the Kennedy-Warren says she has plenty of dates still open for 1998, if you're looking for a place for an elegant party. And she says it may be your last chance to entertain in the Kennedy-Warren's gorgeous art deco downstairs ballroom. It may not be around after the apartment house expands. You can reach Ginger at 483-2058.


Moving Sale.
Jeff Lins

Hewlett Packard DeskWriter(inkjet) 600 printer for Macintosh, with color and b/w cartridges, printer driver, cable, and user's guide. $150.


Dupont Circle sublet available March 1 or possibly mid-February for at least 2 months. Gorgeous, furnished 1 B/R, fireplace, W/D, D/W, all the amenities. Walk to metro, movies, restaurants. Call to discuss price. Patty Friedman 202-232-3449


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 (c) 1997. All rights reserved.

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