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February 15, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

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Dear Neighbors:

Gosh I wish I hadn’t pressed that button. Sometimes I feel like I prepare dc.story without benefit of a safety net. No editors to review my work and no time to look over what I’ve written. Last issue, I called Ms Wilma Lewis the Attorney General of Washington, DC. Like that position exists. I knew she was the U.S Attorney, but my fingers did not. Or I just had vapor lock in my brain. Paul Michael Brown ( of the Justice Department fills in the details.

There are 94 U.S. Attorneys, one in each judicial district in the United States. Like the Attorney General, they are all presidentially appointed, and Senate-confirmed. In the District’s unique legal environment, the U.S. Atty. is responsible for representing the interests of the United States (both criminal and civil) in federal court, which is properly known as the "United States District Court for the District of Columbia." The U.S. Atty. is also responsible for criminal prosecutions in D.C. Superior Court. This is a job that in most other jurisdictions would be done by the District Attorney or the Commonwealth Attorney or the Prosecuting Attorney or the State’s Attorney. However, in this jurisdiction, one person wears two hats. That is why the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office is one of the biggest in the system.

All of the attorneys who work for the U.S. Atty. are career civil servants paid by the Dept. of Justice. They hold the title of Asst. U.S. Atty. If you wanna sound like a hop DOJ insider, you can call them AUSAs, pronouncing each letter of the acronym. In the DOJ pecking order, being an AUSA in D.C. is a very big deal. The competition for slots is stiff and only the best is hired. At the management level, there is a "Civil Chief," who supervises AUSAs doing civil work, a "Criminal Chief," and a "First Assistant U.S. Attorney," who is the #2 person in the office. Just thought you’d wanna know. Love dc.story. Keep up the good work.

Jeffrey Itell February 15, 1998


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Retention for Consultants & Trustees

Kathy Patterson Ward 3 Councilmember

Regarding Carl Bergman’s good recommendation to review the control board’s consultant reports via Len Sullivan’s website: the consultant reports vary in quality from lousy to reasonable. In addition, even the few good ones are skewed to proposing actions that require, believe it or not, more work by consultants! Please read with a jaundiced eye. The first report I saw was on the Dept. of Employment Services. Given work done by the Council’s Government Operations Committee on job training, DOES has gotten a lot of review. The consultant report, by a firm called TATC was, I thought, a slight advance to the issues. Then I read the Arthur Anderson report on asset management and the TATC report got a lot better by comparison. The Fire Department report was marginal. And so on.

On Lucy Mallan’s question about Advanced Placement courses: I asked Arlene Ackerman that question at an Education Committee hearing Thursday and she said there were absolutely no plans to scale back AP offerings, and said she wanted to improve the availability of gifted and talented programs, federal funds for which we’ve foregone in recent years. The hearing on the DCPS academic plan was not reassuring.

Threatening letters went out to hundreds of teachers Monday, including exceptional Murch teacher Tim Welsh, alleging that the teachers don’t have required certification. Tim has provided documents repeatedly and even took a day away from his students in September, shared with me a document signed by a DCPS official verifying he’d gone through all the required motions including another $30 fee for the certification document. Two months later, in November, all the same documents were faxed to Yvonne Holt, the official in charge of the certification office. To no avail. Tim got the letter Monday threatening him with no job in the fall for lack of certification. This is someone with an MA in early childhood, 23 years teaching, someone whose classes parents fight over at Murch.. There are three others at Murch in the same boatJane Wigglesworth, Joseph Keegan, and Harold Dawson. I haven’t canvassed other schools. I do know there are teachers at virtually every school who have never gotten raises to which they’re entitled after receiving master’s degrees due to the same dysfunctional personnel officean office that has remained dysfunctional throughout the generals’ 15-month tenure.

The same day I recounted this paper trail horror story at the Council hearing, the control board reinstated the emergency trustees. What do we do with grown-ups who don’t learn?


Teacher Certification
Mike Hill

Ed Barron is just plain offensive in his dissing of teacher certification. Perhaps Mr. Barron has never had a bad teacher, but from my own experience, they were often folks who thought they had learned everything they needed to know on the job and were unwilling to try new things. Others were experts in a subject area without any idea of how you make information live in students’ minds. Ed, would you go to a doctor who learned everything he knew as an apprentice? If this apprenticeship model works so well, why have colleges at all? Why have all the professions moved the weight of professional training into classrooms, instead of "on the job training?"

Every profession in this country, including doctors, architects, engineers, and building tradesmen, promotes certification and continuing education; you are arguing that the folks who set the basis for all our future learning don’t rate the same training. When people don’t know the current thinking in their field (for teachers, ideas like performance-based evaluation, gearing lessons to the learning styles of students, techniques to identify learning differences, etc.) they repeat mistakes and overlook opportunities. I have worked as an architect and now as a museum educator and I work on professional training days regularly. The people who participate in them (both professions) are excited about their work and looking for extra resources to improve their techniques. Lazy people do not opt for additional training, Ed. They stay in class and do the same things repeatedly, whether they work or not. By taking away teachers’ opportunity/responsibility to improve themselves, we condemn kids to a system run by folks who are faking it.


Awards For Outstanding Police Officers
Marie Drissel

Last fall I was TV surfing looking for DC Politics on a Friday evening when I stopped on Channel 13 to hear Police Officers describe how they had tried to tell our leadership what was really happening with facts and no one listened. I vowed to celebrate these brave souls. Then I suggested in the winter with a note to dc.story that we should thank the officer who turned in the public works employees performing private work with DC equipment on DC time. He retired in disgust because the U.S. Attorney’s Office sat on their hands.

On February 23th at 7:00, you are invited to a celebration of these officers at my home. The Alliance For Public Safety Awards-Marie Drissel And Carl Rowan, Jr.- announce a citizen award night for 12 outstanding Metropolitan Police officers.

INTEGRITY AWARDS-Sgt. Harry Hill (Training Division), Sgt. Chris Sanders (SOD), Inv. Kenny Temsupasiri (Recruiting Division), Sgt. Jim Vucci (NSID), Sgt. Steve O’Dell (2nd District)

MERITORIOUS SERVICE AWARDS-Pfc. Leo Scully (3rd District Detectives), Capt. Kevin Keegan (6th District), Det. Wayne Stancil (1st District Vice), Det. Philip Burton (Internal Affairs-Retired)


My home is located at 2135 Bancroft Place, N.W.-(embassy area near Conn. & Florida Ave.-St. Margaret’s Church on the corner of Bancroft Pl. and Conn. Ave.) This is NOT a political event. The awards ceremony is intended for citizens to show their appreciation to these officers. Members of the police force are cordially welcomed as we salute all MPD employees for their devotion to this beloved City. Please bring a very small gift such as a note, poem, or prayer. Parking is a problem in the embassy area and we apologize for the fact that there are many steps leading into this private home. If there is an overflow of people, we will ask the officers to greet everyone outside after the ceremony. Your presence will be greatly appreciated by these officers and their families. Please forward this message on the Internet.


Public Citizen
Jessica "If we don’t start going to ANC meetings our interests will continue to be mis-represented & the embezzling will begin again" Vallette

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of attending my first meeting of ANC 1B and I will tell you that I was amazed. I arrived a little early and found my way to the meeting room and no one was theredespite the advertised 7:00 PM start time. After about 10 minutes of waiting around Lawrence Guyot, ANC chair, clambered up the escalator and welcomed me. Apparently his copying machine didn’t have a collating function, so another person and I spent 5 min. collating handouts. I was optimistic that Guyot would be fairafter all he and I both are against the Shaw Convention Center. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed.

The meeting started almost a ½ late, without the treasurer and without a secretary with minutes (apparently, a secretary had only been selected at the previous meeting and no one had bothered to take notes). So we began with, what should have been a non-controversial issuea proposal to slightly alter Chapin St. Instead the infighting began. Tom Porter, former radio announcer and the infamous Mary Treadwell’s replacement, stated that his community did not want the change because it presented enormous safety issuesand he was right. It makes no sense to drive down a narrow one-way street and suddenly be faced with on-coming traffic. Strangely Guyot sided with the developerand later refused to recuse himself from the vote after disclosing that he had an "interest" (financial) in helping the developer. Porter, fortunately, won.

What amazed me most was the obvious division between folks who have been elected post-Treadwell and the "Treadwell (now Guyot) Cronies." The "post" folks tended, IMHO, to be a very thoughtful information gathering group, while the "pre" folks tended to side with whatever ill-logic Guyot used to support his contentions. Another, short example. ANC5B had asked our ANC to support a resolution requiring a 500-foot buffer between trash transfer facilities and residential communities. The four page res contained political language that the new guard felt was inappropriate. They offered their own supporting substitute language. Guyot protested loudly saying that he hoped that democracy would be preserved by the council voting down the substitute resolution (he supported the 4-page version) --amid groans from the audience.

Fortunately, the substitution won. I walked home with my ANC rep. that said that the meeting was one of the calmest he has ever seen. Was this because Guyot wanted to give me a good impression because I helped him? I’m sure I’ll never know, but I do know one thing, I will attend these meetings with the hope that my presence will lend support to good logic, real democracy, and a positive community.


Rock Creek Space Needles
Paul Penniman

Am I the only one alarmed by the news that our park may be sprouting space needles (cell telephone towers)? And we need them so that yuppies can maintain continuous cell telephone conversations while they are driving? (Why do they have to talk while they drive?) I can understand the occasional emergency need, but there must be a better solution than this. If we have to do this, then the park becomes less of a park.


Towers in Rock Creek
Anne Drissel

As if the towers dwarfing everything along Nebraska Avenue and in Tenleytown aren’t enough, now they’re planning to put cellular phone towers in Rock Creek Park!!! I just spent two hours of pure joy escaping newspapers, commercials, traffic, and work searching for early signs of spring in the hills of Rock Creek’s north end. Now I find out that even here, there will be no escape into the "natural" world.... soon these terrifyingly tall, spiked-sided metal behemoths will shatter the serenity walkers, bikers, and babies in strollers. The only truly beautiful, freeing space in DC.... stolen.... never to be reclaimed....


Litter in Rock Creek
Ralph Blessing

My understanding, from past litter patrol experience in Rock Creek Park, is that the Park Service prefers volunteers to be registered in the event of an injury. A liability issue, I guess, though you would expect the same dangers to be lurking for hikers, joggers, etc. Rather than debate that policy, however, park lovers need to mobilize to confront the proposal from Bell Atlantic to inject its own form of litter in Rock Creek, and we’re talking about litter on a monumental scale. According to the 2/11 Post, Bell has requested permission to install steel cellular towers in 3-4 Rock Creek locations (for starters). These gargantuan towers would exceed the height of the tallest trees in their vicinity, all for making it easier for mobile phone users to have a good connection while driving through the park. In my view, this is blasphemy and must be stopped in its tracks. Let’s join forces to put a halt to this foolishness.


Fly Ronald
Ed T. Barron

In the frenzy following the untimely death of JFK, the bureaucrats renamed the NASA site at Cape Canaveral the Kennedy Space Center and then, in their infinite wisdom, renamed the geographical area of Cape Canaveral, Cape Kennedy. The natives balked, got together and had the name of this geographical area renamed Cape Canaveral.

It is hard to imagine that we will be able to change the name of the local airport back to Washington National, however, since the airport depends heavily on Federal funds. I think the Airport Board realized this and let the name change go through. It’s too bad since this whole thing started out as a piece of Republican mischief. The GOP wizards just wanted to see if wimpy Willie had the you know what to veto the proposal. Of course he didn’t, he had already given at the office.


Congressional Representation
Len Sullivan

The National Association to Restore Pride in America’s Capital does not intend to be a daily or weekly news publication. However, we have just posted the results of the recent Mark Richards’ nationwide poll indicating that the vast majority of Americans want DC to have Congressional representation and home rule"just like other US citizens"and think that home rule is an important example of democracy for the world. Over 70% also think replacing elected officials with unelected officials goes against our "American principles." A slimmer but real majority object to state or federal authorities pre-empting local government. (They were NOT asked what to do if the locals have a meltdown.) The full report can be found by entering "What’s New" at and following your noses from there.


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.


White Rabbit -- Six Feet Tall!
David Sobelsohn

Discuss modern theater with Footlightsthe modern drama discussion group! On Thursday, February 19, Footlights will discuss Mary Coyle Chase’s Pulitzer Prize winning play "Harvey" (1944), about a sweet, middle-aged man whose constant companion is a 6-foot-tall invisible white rabbit. Our discussion of "Harvey" will materialize at North China Restaurant, 7814 Old Georgetown Rd. (MD-187) at Cordell Ave. in Bethesda (301-656-7922), four blocks north of the Bethesda metro. Admission is free; dinner, which isn’t, starts at 6:30 & our discussion at 7:30. For reservations or more info, call 202-484-8303 or e-mail


Zoo Lecture
Margie Gibson RSVP LINE (202) 673-4801

Here’s your last chance to sign up for Don Wilson’s book signing and lecture on bats. Find out why bats are a vital part of the ecosystem and how they benefit you! Dr. Don E. Wilson, mammalogist and director of biodiversity programs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, will sign copies of "Bats in Question," his richly illustrated new book. Following the book signing, Dr. Wilson will present a slide-illustrated lecture. Join him for an inside look at the natural history of bats, exploring these elusive mammals’ biology, from feeding, migration, and hibernation to reproduction and echolocation.

19 February 1998. 7 p.m. Book signing and refreshments. 8 p.m. Lecture. Education Building at the National Zoo. Enter at Connecticut Ave. Park in Lot A. Free, but please RSVP by calling (202) 673-4801 or sending e-mail to


The Library of Congress Adopt-A-Book Program
Ana Kurland

Since 1800, the Library of Congress has built the world’s greatest storehouse of human knowledge and American Memory by acquiring collections through copyright deposits, congressional appropriations, and generous private gifts. Now, we invite you to become a part of this heritage by participating in the Adopt-A-Book Program. We have items available for adoption available for you to examine. Books, maps, manuscripts, photographs, and music recommended by LC curators from our collections are available for TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donations in the range of $50-$500. You may also choose to make donations towards preserving treasures already part of the collections of the Library.

The Library will be holding a Gala Event to open this program on Wednesday, February 25. If you would like to attend, please call the Special Events office at (202) 707-1616, or fax (202) 707-9898 requesting an invitation. If you would like to adopt a book by mail, please contact Nancy Davenport, Library of Congress, Washington DC 20540 or

Leslie Miles

Moms with Nannies: Are your kids in school? Does your nanny have free time during the day? I would like to pay $7.50-$8.50 per hour, three hours per school day. Flexibilityall during school hoursessential. She would work in my Logan Circle/downtown house caring for my 11-month-old daughter, and sometimes join us on errands. Your reference is essential. Call me at 202-408-1622 or email me as below.


An Unsolicited Endorsement
Ralston Cox

Thanks to dc.story, I finally found a really good carpenter! John Taboada (, a regular "advertiser" at the end of dc.story has done great work for me at a reasonable price and delivered his services as promised. What a concept! Nicest of all? The work I needed help with wasn’t a really BIG job [which was what all the other carpenters I contacted wanted to do], but it was important to me. John fit me into his schedule right away, was pleasant to work with, did the work right and did it on time. One satisfied customer (and more content DC resident?) thanks to dc.story.

Suzanne Callahan

Amarone is a nice new Italian restaurant at 1207 19th Street. They are looking to generate business by offering free food and very low drink prices during happy hours. I told the owner, Aldo, that I would mention it to the dc.story group. Hope you’ll consider them for you next eventthey are very nice people and the food is quite good. Call Aldo at 202.822.8988.


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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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