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March 15, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

It's no joke: on April 1, WTOP-FM moves up to 50,000 watts at 107.7 FM.

WTOP will boost power that day and its signal will be available in most of the District. 1500 AM will remain WTOP-AM. Both will broadcast all news and the Orioles.

For now, 1500 AM and 94.3 FM are safe havens for public radio listeners tired of the begging during Pledge Week on WAMU !


13 March 98

Dear Diary:

I met my brother-in-law for breakfast this morning. As I entered the Park-Hyatt dinning room at 7:30 AM, I noticed Vernon Jordan sitting at the last table. Aware of his fondness for helping people the careers of strangers, I unhesitatingly approached him. He knew what I wanted before I could open my mouth. "Let's go to Revlon," he said." I'll send the limo around to pick you up."

---- 14 March 98

Dear Diary:

My tuchus is freezing off.....


Almost as soon as I pushed the send button launching the last issue, you started to write in about the source of Jamie Raskin's home-rule article. Carl Bergman tells me that the article is still a draft - a hefty one weighing in at 100 single-spaced pages. Carl promised to contact Raskin to find out about his publication plans and pass the news on to dc.story readers. Carl talked about putting a summary on the net, but the article would need a considerable makeover (worthy of Linda Tripp?) before it is net-ready.


Colby King, who along with Bob Asher at the Washington Post editorial staff, tells us what we should believe about the District of Confusion, has written in recent weeks about new members for the Control Board. Most of the current members apparently want off or are wanted off. King has floated some names. I have some ideas but I am going to hold my tongue until I hear from you. Other than Ed Barron, who has thrown his driveway into the ring (see below), who would you like to see appointed to the Control Board (as if you have any say in the matter)? Remember that these are not the Academy Awards. Residents and business owners only. British actors need not apply.

Jeffrey Itell March 15, 1998


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Public School Starting Date in 1998:
Leila Afzal --

I am writing to respond to Ralph Blessing's question about the starting date of school. I attended a Cleveland Park Citizen Association's meeting where the guest speaker was Arlene Ackerman. As she finished answering questions after her talk I told her we parents of children attending public school are hearing rumors that school would begin on Sept. 1 this fall. She looked at me annoyed and said that the Elected School Board set that date back in 1996, that it had always been the starting date for 1998. I informed her that the parents did not know this and a formal notice would be nice so that we could plan accordingly. She said she would do that. It has not happened to date. My question is since when does this new team follow any of the decisions of the elected school board and how are we parents suppose to divine which decisions will be followed and which will not. Lastly, I must sadly report that I was the only parent of a child attending public school that attended this meeting.


Control Board Membership
Ed T. Barron --

I say that we should encourage Barry to become a member of the Control Board. Of course he will have to resign his position as an elected official of the D.C. Government before that can be legally considered. I would like to throw my hat in the ring for the next Mayoral election. I have considerable experience with Parks and Recreation and would forgo any bodyguards. This alone would pay for the $135K salary that the new mayor will get.


Taxes & boarded up houses
Glenn Melcher --

Norma Zane Chaplain complains (3/11/98) about boarded up houses in Shaw. She incorrectly states that higher taxes have not worked. I suggest anyone that is concerned about boarded up houses check the tax rolls for those particular properties -- most likely, they will be shocked to find that, on a property that has been vacant for years, a homestead exemption is being claimed and the property is being taxed at the lowest residential rates. In our neighborhood, we have been fighting a (so far unsuccessful) battle with the DC tax people to have these abandoned, boarded-up properties re-classified to Class 5 properties -- which would result in a greater than five-fold increase in the tax rate the owners are required to pay. We should all urge our council members to pursue this revenue option for the city. Lower residential tax rates and homestead exemptions are designed for people who live in the city, not absentee owner/investors waiting for a turnaround in the market!


Eureka! - A Response
Tom Berry -

After I wrote my piece on the Convention Center for last Thursday's issue of dc.story, I received a response to my October letter to Councilperson Patterson's office. If funding of the proposed Shaw Convention Center is your cuppa Starbucks, then read on. I was informed that Charlene Drew Jarvis did introduce the "Washington Convention Center Financing Act" before the DC Council last September; it's basically been tabled and won't be marked up until the maximum cost of the center is established by the Convention Center Authority. (Has any government body in history ever accurately predicted the cost of anything? What's their incentive? It's not their money at stake.)

Regarding the surtax issue, there is no proposed surtax on DC residents in the above Financing Act. However, DC businesses are in the middle of a surtax freeway. Businesses will have a 10% surtax slapped on either the Corporate Franchise Tax or the Unincorporated Business Tax, whichever applies, to fund this project. Now ain't that incentive enough to entice more businesses to move in from the burbs?!

Finally, Councilperson Patterson (as told to me by a staffer) is against the Convention Center at the proposed Shaw site.


Response Plus Apology
Kathy Patterson -

Responding to Tom Berry's question about convention center funding AND his criticism of non-response by this elected official: I plead guilty on the latter charge. I found Mr. Berry's October letter in our correspondence file with no evidence of having been answered. That's a mistake and I apologize here and directly to Mr. Berry. His e-mail query to me at this home e-mail address was received and my practice is to give hard copy of the message to a staff member to answer. That, too, did not occur in a timely fashion and I take the fall there also. For future reference, the most effective way to contact my office in most cases is by mail (441 Fourth St. NW, Suite 709, 20001) since it usually helps us to have a paper trail, by phone (724-8062) and, third, by fax (724-8118). Fax is third because occasionally both paper and memory are exhausted overnight and over weekends. It's also fine to contact me via this e-mail (though we're about to get a new server so watch dc.story for a new address). We have e-mail at the Council office, but because that system has been down two or three times, once for an entire week, in the last six months I'm hesitant to encourage people to use it. We're pushing for a better system.

On the substance of Mr. Berry's complaint, he has provided the facts in [the above] posting. I can add that I do not approve of automatic escalators in taxes, voted against such an escalator in the current arena tax (my side lost) and will, if the opportunity arises, propose changing any automatic tax hike in current law, including the provision that affects the new convention center. And Mr. Berry is accurate on my opposition to the Shaw site for the convention center. It makes no sense to me to build something that is too small with insufficient room to grow.


An Interesting 'Net Site
Rich Rothblum --

An interesting 'Net site to visit is <>. They have a little routine that calculates the comparative cost of living for "any" city in the US. I was surprised to find out that for upper income people in this area, Washington is the cheapest place to live by far! Maybe that is why rich people are moving in and middle class people are moving out! I admit I don't understand how the calculations are performed, but they include such things and taxes, including property taxes, and the cost of appropriate housing for one's income bracket.


D.C. Treasury Mini-Windfall
Ed T. Barron -

The recent announcement that the D.C. treasury should have a surplus for the next five years may actually have understated the estimates. It is likely that the budget wizards have not taken into account a temporary mini-windfall from the taxes that must be paid on Roth IRA conversions. IRAs that are converted in 1998 must have taxes paid on the gains in those accounts to date, over the next four years. This means that the D.C. Treasury will be getting some increased tax revenues for that period of time. This is only a temporary boost however and the piper will be paid downstream in five to fifteen years when the IRAs are cashed in and no taxes are required. Then D.C. revenues will decrease.

Someone recently cautioned D.C. Story readers not to rush in to convert to Roth IRAs since the District has not acknowledged that Roth IRA withdrawals after five years will not be taxed. Get real D.C. You cannot tax at the front end AND the back end, too. If D.C. does not tax up front then this is a real no-brainer. When you get ready to cash in those Roth IRAs in five, ten, or fifteen years you establish residency about a mile from where you are now into MD or VA and never pay any taxes. So, D.C. will likely get their taxes up front. This is the best gesture of largess for the middle class by the Feds in my lifetime. Don't pass it up. When the Feds realize what will happen downstream they will terminate this program


A Simple Statement -and a Question
Chris Richardson -- CHRISR@AECF.ORG

God bless the good people of D.C. who stay in the city. We certainly need them. However, Christopher Hitchens' article in the latest Vanity Fair -- "District of Contempt -- says it all for me. I honestly don't know how people can continue to take the unchecked greed and corruption. Life can be hell in D.C. Just when you think it couldn't get any worse...

Jeffrey: Perhaps you might wanna elicit reactions to Hitchens' article. As you know, this unflinching critique of D.C. was written by some who actually lives in the city. I don't know if the entire article is too vague and unwieldy to respond to, but I know that I, for one, reacted quite viscerally to Hitchens' assertions. Just a thought..

Note: This missive was written by one who lives quite close to D.C. -- Takoma Park/Silver Spring -- but would never see myself ever living within the city. But please, continue to fight the good fight. The city has just about broken my spirit. Honest.


The Totally Deliverable Cat
Stephanie Faul --

You all know about having cat food delivered from the Pet Pantry on Connecticut Avenue, right? Now there's cat *litter* delivery! Yes! You can have six bags of Pine Fresh cat litter delivered from Cansorb Industries, 1-800-956-8333, for a total cost of $19.61. This is somewhat more than Safeway used to charge for this product, but (a) Safeway doesn't carry it any more and (b) they never did bring it to your door. Pine Fresh is made from sawdust. It is biodegradable and (it claims) flushable, though I'd try that particular feature initially at someone else's house, if you get my drift. It's also compostable, for back-to-the-land types. Mostly what I like about it is that when Puff tracks it all over the house it's not gritty underfoot. -- Steph "Now all I need is a vet who makes house calls" Faul


Tobacco Ads in DC
Michael "Tac" Tacelosky -- Webmaster, <>

Near the end of his comments about tobacco ads on the Metro, Michael Kirshenbaum mentioned that the City Council is considering banning all tobacco ads where children walk or play. People who wish to write city council to support this bill can use Smokescreen's EZ-Letter writing system at <>

It is illegal to market tobacco to children. The tobacco companies have been targeting children for decades, using the Flintstones in the 60's and Superman movies in the 90's. They cannot be trusted to voluntarily adhere to any code of conduct. Ads placed next to candy, ads at eye-level to a child -- these are unacceptable and should be illegal. To repeat Michael's quote: No all slopes are slippery.


Tobacco Ads and Bus Shelters
Rob Fleming --

Metro may be planning to phase out tobacco ads, but most of those bus shelters are owned by the good ole D.C. government, the same folks who are under a Federal mandate to, through the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, discourage underage smoking. Yet another case of the left brain not knowing what the right brain is thinking.


Pushing the Evil Weed
Richard "Give Me a Coke or Give Me Death" Stone Rothblum --

Thanks to Suzanne Gallagher and Tom Berry for weighing in against unenforceable and mostly unfair proscriptions against tobacco sales and advertising. We don't need criminal nico-gangs. Two things are ironic: the more strictures we put on cigarettes to keep them out of the hands of children, the more they become an attractive badge of adulthood; secondly, cigarettes are probably a drug for which total legal prohibition might actually achieve close to the desired effect. It would be a little like criminalizing Coca-Cola. Most people would drink Pepsi rather than risk jail. It really is about time we got rid of the "War on Drugs" entirely rather than looking for more windmills to tilt at.


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.



My PowerBook Query
Evan Roth --

It pays to advertise in DC Story. I received a bunch of responses to my query for help for my PowerBook, and am well on my way to solving the problem. Thanks to all!


Vocal Celebration - March 22, 3 PM
M. Treistman -

The Washington Women's Chorus and the National Building Museum present: A concert in celebration of American women composers. Discover the wide variety of music written by American women composers featuring works of Alice Parker, Gwyneth Walker, Louise Talma, Libby Larson & more. In the National Building Museum, on Sunday, March 22, at 3:00 PM, 401 F St, NW (across from the Judiciary Square Metro). Tickets $12, Students $10. Advanced Reservations Recommended. To order call (202) 244-5925. Visa/Mastercard gladly accepted. This musical event is part of the National Building Museum's "Concerts In Partnership Series."


The Good Samaritan Foundation
Kathy Carroll --

Fresh Fields-Georgetown and Fresh Fields-Tenleytown are holding a 5% Day to benefit The Good Samaritan Foundation on Wednesday, March 25th. The Good Samaritan Foundation was started by Charles Mann, Art Monk and Tim Johnson to provide training opportunities for D.C. kids. Meet the future Hall of Famers at the Tenley store from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. or at the Georgetown (Glover Park) store from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. on the 25th. Bring your favorite Redskins souvenir for an autograph or your camera for a photo. Most importantly, 5% of Fresh Fields' pre-tax income from that day will go to the Foundation to support the summer job training program.


Capital Oscars

The Washington D.C. Film Society proudly presents Capital Oscars: Hollywood on the Potomac. Monday, March 23, from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM at Fellini, 1800 M Street, NW (202.785.1177). View the ceremonies live on big screens. Complimentary champagne from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Cash bar. Buffet of Italian foods, raffle prizes, silent auction, and door prizes. Creative Black Tie dress encouraged. $20 donation. Call 202.554.3263 for ticket sales and information. All proceeds support the work of the Film Society and its parent organization, Filmfest DC.


Zoo Lecture: The Handicap Principle
Margie Gibson -

On the occasion of Israel's 50th anniversary, Amotz Zahavi, a renowned Israeli zoologist and professor at the Institute for Nature Conservation Research in Tel Aviv, presents "The Handicap Principle." Before the lecture, he will sign copies of his book, "The Handicap Principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin's Puzzle." Zahavi studied Arabian babblers, a Middle Eastern songbird that lives in flocks. Adult babblers help care for young that are not their own. Zahavi's studies indicate this behavior is a selfish investment in advertising social prestige, a kind of "showing off." Other species, ranging from ants to peacocks, and gazelles to humans, exhibit similar behaviors that impose a cost, or handicap.

15 April 1998, 7 PM book signing. 8 PM lecture. The Education Building at the National Zoo. Enter at Connecticut Ave. and Park in Lot A. Free, but please RSVP by calling (202) 673-4801 or sending e-mail to


Red Toy Poodle Puppy
Karen Feld --

Anyone want to buy an adorable male red toy poodle puppy? My dog fathered 3 pups (I'm keeping one and the breeder kept one) --there's one left. they were born Jan. 5 so are now 9 1/2 weeks old. The male will make a wonderful pet, great temperament, playful, affectionate, training started, hand held since he was born, a real lap dog. He's now 6 1/2 inches tall by 6 1/2 inches long, has a thick coat, long leather on the ears, weighs 2.5 lbs. now and will probably be 6 pounds when full grown. I wish I could keep him but 3 is too many! He's ready to go now so if interested, let me know.


HOUSE FOR SALE/RENT TO OWN. Alexandria, Va. Large back yard which faces a large soccer/ultimate field big enough for 2-3 playing areas. 2 story duplex. 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room and during room. Washer/dryer, 1 Bath, Utility room. Large fenced, tree filled yard. Yard backs onto soccer/ultimate field. Nice deck. Driveway parking. Gas heat/stove. 2 window AC units.1.5 miles to Huntington Metro (Bus available). 1/2 mile to Safeway and Giant, Belle View Plaza and Beacon Mall. 1 mile from Potomac River and Mt. Vernon bike trail. Lots of windows. Quiet neighborhood. Pleasant neighbors. Price: 89,500 or Neg. rent to own.

Please contact Laura Capozzi at for a tour.


Summer Camp For Actors!!!
Stan Kang --

The Educational Theatre Company (ETC), a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting arts education by bringing theatre professionals into the school system, is pleased to announce ETC summer classic at Janney Elementary school, 42nd and Albermarle Streets, NW. ETC summer classic is a unique, intensive theatre camp directed by Tom Mallan. The camp will have two sessions:

Session I: Shakespeare 9:00-3:00, M-F, June 29-July 10 for 8-13 year olds.

Session II: Greek 9:00-3:00, M-F, July 13-July 24 for 10-15 year olds.

For information, please call Elizabeth Kitsos or Stan Kang at (703) 841-0277 E-mail:


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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