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March 5, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

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Dear Neighbors:

>From comedian Dennis Miller on D.C.'s $25 million overhaul of its old and damaged parking meters. "City officials hope the new meters will stop people form illegally parking while they're buying crack and handguns."


When Monkey's Fly?

Last week, Ed Barron's asked what Carol Schwartz is up to. Well, there is the notice of a public roundtable held by Councilmember Schwartz, chair of the Committee on Local, Regional, and Federal Affairs, on the "Sense of the Council on Appointing Elected Officials to the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority Resolution of 1998," on Tuesday, March 10, at 10 AM in the Council Chamber. This resolution was introduced by another mayoral hopeful, Harold Brazil, and expresses the Council's sense that the Council chairman and the mayor should be appointed to the control board when the present members' terms expire. This would, of course, require Congress to change the underlying stature since it forbids local elected officials from serving.


Interested in seeing a free movie? Passes for the following film are now available.

---- Odd Couple II

Monday, March 9 Cineplex Odeon Inner Circle 2301 M St. NW, Washington Washington, DC 2:00 PM

"Odd Couple II," the long-awaited sequel, marks the 10th film in which Lemmon and Matthau appear together.

---- To be eligible for a reservation, send an email message to with "Odd Couple" in the SUBJECT line. In the body of the text, write your name: last name first. Please do not return a copy of this message.

I will send you an email message confirming your reservation, assuming availability. This message will serve as a pass for you and a guest. A printed copy of your email response is necessary to enter the theatre.

Note that this Free Movie is an afternoon showing at 2:00 PM. Please do not request a pass if you cannot attend the film. There are usually more people who request passes than we accommodate.

Jeffrey Itell March 5, 1998


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Apology to John Ferren?
Peter Luger @

In the last issue, I wrote about Corporation Counsel John Ferren's poor opinion in the case of a transvestite's treatment by the DC Fire Dept.

Vernon Loeb (of the Washington Post, but you know that) sent me an e-mail requesting more information. He said he has always written good things about Ferren, but wanted to know more to be fair. Before responding to Mr. Loeb, I did a little more research. (I based my opinion on what I've read in the Washington Blade during the last few weeks). It turns out that Judge Ferren was unaware of the opinion as it was prepared to leave the Corp Counsel's office. Once told about the opinion by the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA), he changed it. The Blade articles clearly stated that the opinion was changed under pressure from Gay Rights Groups. GLAA strongly supports Judge Ferren and felt he responded quickly and rationally. Judge Ferren asked GLAA to call him directly in the future if something like this happens. I wrote to Mr. Loeb explaining the situation. I also asked that he follow up anyway, since this story should make the mainstream press (re: discrimination in treatment by the fire dept).

I would like to write some sort of explanation, since I have unfairly attacked Judge Ferren (although, in my defense, I based it on extensive coverage of the issue by the Blade). Do you think I should?


Marion in the Land of Many Names
Carl Bergman

Marion must have used his typical contracting methods to make his travel plans to Israel. He is paying $1,900 round trip and as he so modestly noted its economy class. My informal survey of recent travelers finds no one who has spent nearly that much. I can only figure the extra is either for mayoral luggage, or perhaps the airline surcharges oversized egos.

Regardless, it is a perfect place for him. Not for its spiritual qualities - that was for the last election -- but for its remarkable ability to reflect what the visitor came to see. Who you are determines what you see, but even what you call the place: Jews go to Israel, Arabs to Palestine, and Christians the Holy Land. Marion is the same way. For years, liberals saw a former civil rights leader, the business community a dealmaker, and scads of voters a job generating benefactor - many still do. Travel usually brings out the grandiose in him. Traveling to one of the most inspiring places on earth probably will do the trick. It will be interesting to hear where he says he went, and just which of his many personas he will come back wearing.


Pushing Weed
E. James Lieberman @

Who are the drug pushers at Metro? I refer to the explosion of cigarette ads on the sides of bus stop shelters. Cigarettes cause more damage healthwise than all illegal drugs combined. And they are the first step in the transition to the illegal ones.


Parking Meters 101
Bob King @ RHAYK@AOL

The purpose of parking meters is to: 1) regulate short-term parking so shoppers can conveniently patronize businesses in crowded urban areas; 2) provide modest revenue from the coins offered for the parking privilege; 3) provide major revenue by strict meter patrols to slap every violator with a $50 (average) parking ticket; 4) provide an opportunity to get reserved, all day, free parking by fraudulently using a handicapped drop tag or license plate; 5) finance an evening's booze or drug habit for the desperate or deranged; 6) provide a target for vandals and petty thieves; 7) serve as an object to be ignored (along with other parking restrictions) by DC government official vehicles - those with GT-xxxx tags; 8) provide block after block of decapitated meters to serve as galvanized "up yours" gestures from a city government which doesn't seem to know or care about the consequences of bad government.

The correct answer(s) depend on where you stand. Hizzoner clearly has chosen # 3 (one ticket = 200 quarters $$$) and damn the consequences. I, reluctantly, have arrived at # 8 (based on 7,6,5,4 and 3). Parking can be regulated without putting an armed guard on every meter or putting in million-dollar, indestructible meters. Success relies on public support and confidence. I hope our new city manager gives this problem the thought it deserves as this appears to be a test for the "Dragon Lady." If she is successful, I have a great T-shirt for her.


Roth IRA
Tracy Greer @

I read a story in the Wall Street Journal last week that said that the District and 17 other states have not enacted state law equivalents for things like the Roth IRA. The Journal noted that unless theses states do so, residents would not enjoy the tax benefits, and it might not be advisable to put money in a Roth (for example) until DC acts. Does anybody know whether the City Council or Mayor has this on their radar screen?


ECON 101
Richard "Power from the Project" Rothblum @

Jeff's remarks about colossal buildings that remain empty most of the time and the continuing controversy about the location and size of the new convention center made me wonder. Maybe the problem is that the government is usurping decisions that could be better made by individuals putting up their own money. My life in the bureaucracy made me realize the truth of Parkinson's Laws. Ambitious officials will always endorse grandiose projects -- they have nothing to lose and lots of turf to gain.


Recycling Lives
Rob Fleming

Until the city gets its act together, you can still drop off your recycling in Mount Pleasant on Saturday mornings from nine 'til noon. We will take newspaper, cardboard, magazines, phone books, office paper -- anything that came from a tree except waxed paper like milk cartons. We will take jars, cans, and plastic bottles -- almost anything but window glass and lawn furniture -- without sorting. BUT, please bag or bundle your paper so it does not fly off the truck on the way to the sorting site.

The drop-off site is at Bancroft School Playground, just downhill from 18th and Newton, NW. To get there from Far Northwest, come East across Rock Creek Park on Porter Street (it becomes Klingle briefly, but you won't notice) to Park Road, and up hill to the light at 18th. Turn left and go to the end. From East of the Park, turn off 16th at Harvard and immediately turn right on Mount Pleasant. Turn left at the second light at Park Road, right on 18th, and go to the end.

This is an all-volunteer effort, and we have to pay the hauler, so please leave a few bucks and stay a while to help load the truck.


Red Coats
Jon Desenberg @

Surprised I haven't seen any messages relating to the Business Improvement District "Red Coats" on the street in downtown DC. At first I just saw them around the MCI Center, with the distinctive lights flashing on the sides of their red jackets they really help convey a sense of safety along 7th Street after games. More recently, I have seen them further west, and I hear they are coming to the area between Dupont and the White House.

Another group, "Ready, Willing and Able," with the bright blue jumpsuits, has started cleaning the streets around U Street. For years, we had to do with an occasional city worker sweeping the streets and then the ill-fated attempt at mechanical street sweeping. These new private groups are really a great psychological step forward for all of us.


Why Do We Give the City Back?
R. Allen @

The Washington Post and others have assumed on this bulletin board that we want home rule back. I would argue that this is exactly what many of use do not want. The city is finally beginning to turn around. Just as we get a budget surplus all the political cronies and politically correct weenies want to immediately give it back to the morons that ran it into the ground in the first place. I recommend that we try 20 years of control board rule instead. (just to make sure) By that time most of us will be drooling in wheel chair and won't give a damn.

As soon as the city has budget surplus of $100 million hishoner da finantual wizard wants to immediately spend it on new programs. Let me grasp this concept; Williams fires 300 of hishoner's cronies and the city goes from a projected $50 million deficit to a surplus of $100 million. Heck then if we fired 3,000 more I bet we have a $1 billion surplus.


Students Beware
Ed Barron @

You'll be fined 50 bucks for illegal parking in most of the parts of the city, but if you live near American University, the parking enforcement folks will ding you for 250 bucks if you are an AU student. AU has their own parking enforcement folks who patrol the streets adjacent to the AU Law School on Mass. Ave and 48th St. I know because my car was ticketed while legally parked in front of my house (not in front of the driveway). I caught up with the ticket writer and was told they ticket all the cars and those that are registered to students have to pay a $250 fine for parking on the streets near the AU Law School. The parking enforcement person tore up my ticket. Try getting a D.C. parking enforcement person to tear up a ticket or even stop writing one even after they have barely put pen to paper. This heavy penalty has deterred even the well to do students from parking in the neighborhood. Students be alerted.


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.



Travel Inquiry to London
Valerie Kenyon Gaffney @

Leaving next Tuesday for London for six days. This will be my third trip & I have done all the tourist "gotta dos." Seeking suggestions for current theatre which I may not have seen here or in NY & some "do not miss" restaurants. Other suggestions for things to do (I am travelling solo) would also be welcome. A day trip other than Windsor and Bath, perhaps?


Meeting Location Sought
David Sobelsohn,

Our discussion group seeks a meeting location in a restaurant in a near-suburban location, either in VA or in MD. We need a private, quiet, well-lit room seating 25-30, with movable square or rectangular tables, in a restaurant near the metro and with at least some main courses below $10. We can't pay extra for the room. If you know of such a restaurant please send an e-mail message to


Marquis de Sade at the Footlights
David Sobelsohn @

Footlights--the modern drama discussion group--meets monthly to discuss plays from the modern theater. Membership & attendance are free. At our next meeting, Monday, March 23, we will discuss the play Life Magazine called "one of the most sensational theater works of our time": "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" (1964), by German playwright Peter Weiss. Our meeting will feature director Jesse Berger, whose production of "Marat/Sade" opens March 12 at the Washington Shakespeare Company. We will meet at Luna Books, 1633 P St., NW (just E of Dupont Circle). Dinner starts at 6:30 & our discussion takes place from 7:30-9:30. You can get a copy of "Marat/Sade" at Backstage Books, 2101 P St., NW. For reservations or further information call 202-484-8303, send e-mail to, or visit our website at <> m/footlights/ .


Two twin-sized mattresses for sale: Only used three times (they were in the guestroom; now it is the home office). Buy both for $50. Call 202-234-4464 or email Martin Lynds @


Skiing anyone? An ex-DCer now living in southern Vermont invites you to come and ski. We do have snow. Small apartment within one hour drive of Mt. Snow, Okemo, Bromley and Stratton available. Rate varies with length of stay. Call 802-257-7998 or email. Lynn Dorman @


I know that many of us read last Sunday's Washington Post front-page story about companies who hire teenagers to design web pages. Well, I am an adult who is available help anyone out with designing a web page. Why should you hire an adult instead of a teen to do your web pages? 1) I have my own car and driver's license. 2) I don't live under my parents' rules (i.e. curfew). 3) I am not in high school so I don't have a class schedule to work around. 4) I am more mature and patient at finishing a job according to your wishes than an arrogant know-it-all kid. I have my own computer at home so I can work either at home or at your office. I can do both local businesses (<> and non-profit groups (<> eartland/Acres/9450/). Check out my web page (<> and my resume (<> k/UnicornResume.html). I (Kim Stark) can be reached either by e-mail ( or by telephone (301-441-2473).


King Sized Waterbed for Sale, Best Offer. Oak headboard & Frame, six-drawer under-bed dresser space, heating element, mattress liner, linens & spread. Originally purchased in 1992 @ $1,000...For Sale at Best Offer. Buyer must supply own transportation. Contact or call Dante Terrana, (202) 362-6867.


Need Help With Your Computer Needs At Home Or In The Office?
Patty Friedman/Nick Chang (202.237.0130)

PC hardware repairs and upgrades; hardware/software installation and upgrades; maintenance, troubleshooting and network support; Back-up and archive your files and email on CD-ROM; setup computer network for the small office; build customized database in Access or other programs; web training and web page development; application/Internet training; data recovery. Reasonable rates. Excellent references.



Small design build firm specializing in additions, decks, built-in furniture, and custom-designed furniture available for in-home consultation. No job too small. John Taboada @


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) 1998. All rights reserved.


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