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April 26, 1998

Your Electronic Cattle Prod for Lurkers

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Dear Neighbors:

Despite pollen counts approaching four digits, I have been enjoying this year's spring. The security lights at Chez Ordway where I live light the azaleas at night. I do not know what this does to their growing cycle or psyche, but the lights make for a pretty sight walking home at night. Driving north on Reno Road, I saw a traffic island of azaleas in full bloom-beautiful enough to cause rubber necking. At least the flowers slow traffic for the Murch School children.

I have also been thinking about Paula Jones. (Bear with me please.) Here is a woman whom in all probability had something unseemly happen to her- at least the equivalent of being flashed by the proverbial man in the raincoat. She deserves justice and compensation. Nevertheless, Jones continues to make one bone-headed move after another. She fails to file the appropriate lawsuit in a timely fashion. She outs herself as the Paula identified in the Brock article, and then asks for compensation based on the outing. She refuses to accept a decent settlement, holding out for an apology-an apology that is not politically possible and is thus a deal breaker. She ties her fate to extremists whose agenda does not marry with her own. Then, surprise, surprise, she loses in court. As has been so often said about Palestinian leadership, she has never lost an opportunity to lose an opportunity.

The District of Columbia is Paula Jones. The cause is just, but the District has acted in such bone-headed ways for years that it is hard to elicit much sympathy for that cause (wherever it lies on the spectrum of self-government to statehood). Lawyers often say a good case is one that never goes to trial. I hope (probably in vain) that during this upcoming election, District voters will chose candidates whose main talents are negotiating deals-rather the usual bunch who are merely qualified to throw kerosene on a burning fire.

Jeffrey Itell April 26, 1998


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Visit Home Saved By Good Citizen
Anne Drissel,

With all the "bad" news in DC - I'd like to celebrate the kindness of one of my neighbors. My daughter came home from graduate school in London to visit for Easter. The evening she arrived, we left my apartment building to walk two blocks to a restaurant in Cleveland Park. When we arrived, we discovered my daughter had lost her wallet. We ran back along the street and up the building stairwell looking for it. We tore my apartment apart, hoping it was left there. No use. The wallet was gone. Resigned to fate, my daughter began the tedious job of calling banks, credit card companies, the police and figuring out how she would replace her passport and Green Card. Then we went out to dinner again - this time on my credit card. When we returned a couple of hours later, two messages were on my answering machine: one from a neighbor in the building next door saying she had found my daughter's wallet on the sidewalk and figured out from examining the contents that the owner was visiting me in the next building! The other message was from the front desk alerting me that the wallet had been delivered by our neighbor and was being held for us. If anyone knows Laquita Wood of Cleveland Park, thank her for reminding us that Good Neighbors do watch out for each other and keep the city a civil and safe place to live!


Retrocession & Not Remembering History
David Sobelsohn,

In his post on retrocession, Timothy Cooper refers to a "Rep. John McMillan (R-NC)," who he claims in the "1960s" was "chairman of the House District Committee." Gee, my recollection of the 1960s suggests that all congressional committees in the 1960s were chaired by members of the majority party, the Democrats. So that would be "Rep. John McMillan (D-NC)." At least now I have a better idea of why Cooper has ignored the total failure of the DC Representation Amendment in the 1970s. I prefer following Georges Santayana & studying history so as not to repeat it.


Retrocession Lawrence
H. Mirel,

Tim Cooper says that the idea of reuniting the District of Columbia with Maryland is "flawed" because it is not the will of the people. Well, Mr. Cooper, you should know that a large and growing number of people do support reunion, and the idea has the potential--once it is better known and understood--to attract support from a much wider spectrum of people than those who currently support statehood for the District. We must be open and practical in our search for a way to bring full citizenship to the people of the District. Reunion with Maryland is one such way and it deserves to be seriously considered. It would be helpful if Mr. Cooper would address the merits of the proposal instead of dismissing it as not popular enough. Good ideas, when properly presented, have a way of catching on.


DC Representation, "Equal Rights," & Amending the Constitution
David Sobelsohn,

Sometimes people who care passionately about a particular public-policy issue propose amending the US Constitution not because they have any idea of what it takes to amend the Constitution, or of how amending the Constitution will address their public-policy issue, but simply because the issue they care about has such emotional resonance for them that it just seems right to aim their sights at our system's highest symbol of government. In beating the dead horse of a constitutional amendment to secure political rights for DC residents, Timothy Cooper continues to ignore the abject failure of the last attempt to write political rights for DC into the US Constitution, as well as the present impossibility of convincing a supermajority of both Congress & the states to support such an amendment. Indeed, Cooper seems to think it will help convince Congress to argue that the amendment will "expose Congress's utter hypocrisy" on DC's political rights. Most people don't rush to support measures that expose their own hypocrisy. Even calling his amendment "the Equal Rights Amendment" echoes the failure of the last "E.R.A.," which--unlike the DC Representation Amendment of the 1970's--at least got close to ratification by the states.

Moreover, longstanding federal constitutional law protects all the citizenship rights of DC residents except the rights to home rule & equal representation in Congress. Providing that DC residents "shall be treated as citizens of a state" goes way beyond what's necessary to secure the rights to home rule & equal representation, making adoption of Cooper's silly & poorly-worded amendment even less likely. Instead of trying to convince a supermajority of Congress & the states to protect more than home rule & equal representation, we should aim to convince a simple majority of Congress to recognize DC as a state, or a simple majority of the Maryland legislature to seek retrocession. Retrocession will attract public support in DC when more residents realize that it's the quickest and easiest path to home rule & equal representation. By pushing a proposal that has no chance of serious consideration & goes way beyond the specific problem, Timothy Cooper just helps postpone the day when DC residents will attain full US citizenship. That makes him part of the problem, not part of the solution.


Questions For the Candidates
Ron Eberhardt,

You have been an elected public official in the District for (blank) years. You have had direct responsibility for (blank) Yet, the City is at the bleakest moment in memorable history. How do you square your failures and inaction which leaves us a totally dysfunctional and nearly bankrupt city? What would you do if elected/re-elected differently to provide true leadership and real change?

If you are elected Mayor, will you vow to never lay blame or fault at others for that which is your responsibility? If you are elected Mayor will you vow to conduct your private and public life in a manner appropriate to the office you would hold. And, will you resign if you cannot do that? If you are elected Mayor will you institute an absolute zero tolerance for yourself and each and every district employee regarding the use of any illegal drugs and participation in corruption? And will you promise to fire and fully prosecute those who violate that policy?

Do you understand that the people of Washington want a hands-on, responsible, can-do mayor who on a daily basis can be found involved in close-up management and instituting changes? Will you take responsibility and hold your subordinates totally accountable for their actions/inactions? Will you lead by example? If you are elected Mayor, please tell us what changes and improvements in the delivery of city services you will fully implement in your first 100, 400 and 1,000 days. What commitments will you make to the citizens of Washington as to how this city will have benefited by your leadership at the end of four years?


Medical Questions for Political Candidates
Carol Newsman,

An important question to ask political candidates is: What do they want to do about regulating managed care companies in DC. Maryland has legislation; What about DC? What appeal rights should patients have? How fast must the companies respond to patients requests for medical help, and so forth?


High Incarceration Rates
Dorothy Persiflage,

<...the District's lazy approach of high incarceration rates and low community involvement has resulted in the worst of all situations-a generation either dead or imprisoned.>

High incarceration rates are the primary reason why crime rates are coming down, and why teen/youth crime is going up (not incarcerated). We need to lock up more bad actors.


Construction Follies
Ted Gest,

A post in the last edition complained about River Road foulups--I'll now ask if anyone out there knows about the vicinity of Connecticut and Nebraska, which has been torn up for weeks. I happen to have been driving when the construction started--March 27. It showed no signs of completion as of today--April 22. I know that isn't much compared to many long-delayed DC projects, but as drivers in the area know, it is causing lots of tie-ups, as motorists understandably slow to a crawl. (The action goes east past Nevada, with the dreaded "steel plates.") Not the worst thing happening in the District, compared with the school woes that many of us are citing, but it's annoying nevertheless.


Confessions of a Lurker
Erik Wemple,

I am a lurker because few dc.story entries piss me off as much as Nick Keenan's asinine dispatch (4/23) about the stinktrees. A piece of advice to the verbose Keenan: If you really "don't want anyone to think you're complaining," then stop complaining. Perhaps gingkostench has infected Keenan with a common malady: D.C. government hypercriticosis. Last year, Post reporter Vernon Loeb articulated this mentality when he wrote a hit piece on DPW for beautifying a desolate stretch of Massachusetts Avenue NW with granite curbs and brick sidewalks--the scandal! How dare the government spruce up public space. Keenan: Save your fire for real issues.


Holly Eaton,

Just wanted to reply to your ponderance about lurkers. I tend to be one because I don't have much to say; I don't watch the news and don't get the paper, so your ezine is the one way for me to stay on top of local news. I mostly just read it for informational purposes, not so that I can argue the merits of city actions. Furthermore, I don't live in the District anymore, so I'm blissfully immune to some of the problems there (at least the ones faced by residents only, such as taxes etc.).


Why Lurkers Remain In the Background
Dean Costello,

Why? Fear. I am afraid that something in my writing style will show that I am against school vouchers, and I don't want my apartment fire-bombed...


Lurking From Beyond
Greg Hall,

I am a lurker, happily. Subscribed to your mail to see the attitude of those that live in our nation's capital. Don't feel I have a right to comment on the problems you people live with every day seems like there are a lot of problems that are similar to the ones we have, but yours are exponential. Ask this question of your mayoral candidates. Will they make an effort to have another person put in charge of the D.C. finances, as opposed to the lady that was run out of Austin, Texas? Don't understand the reasoning behind the politicians giving jobs to losers, especially in a city like D.C. that seems in dire need of a manager that has a past record of being a winner.

Private Values, Private Payment
Jason Juffras,

The ongoing debate about public schools vs. private schools included a point by Daniel Rabbitt that public school curricula often reflect ideological, racial, or religious fears and prejudices. The conclusion is that concern about public support for private schools with bizarre or antisocial or otherwise objectionable viewpoints is misguided. This argument obscures the fundamental differences between public and private schools. Certainly, public schools can teach pablum or hokum, just as private schools can. Nevertheless, the mistakes of public schools are at least the product of public deliberation and an effort to convey skills and knowledge that are valued by the community as a whole. The failures of public schools are the public's business and the resolution of those problems depends on our participation. The failures of private schools are not our business and the public has almost no say in how private schools are run, the values they teach, or the standards they enforce.

If parents want their children's education to reflect their private choices and values, that's fine. But if education is to reflect parental choice of values and viewpoints, then this requires parental payment as well -- not public payment.


Choice and Standards for Schools
David S. Reed,

In the last dc.story, Daniel Rabbit disputed my earlier posting on the need for standards along with school choice. Suggesting safeguards is not an attack on school choice; I hope it is a contribution towards implementing choice. I stand by my position that the whole society has a legitimate interest in the values that are taught in school, not just the individual child's parents. People in hate groups, suicide cults and criminal gangs are sometimes parents; should they be allowed to choose schools that isolate their children from society's contrary values?

Rabbit suggests that I am saying parents can't be trusted to raise their own children. As I wrote, most parents will choose well for their children. But we have always had laws against abuse and neglect, and enough parents violate these laws to keep child protection agencies busy. Parents' choice of schools should be constrained by society's minimum standards for a decent education. This will only prevent the kind of schools that the vast majority of parents would never even consider; for example, a school that kicked back most of the voucher payment to parents, and didn't bother to hire teachers.


Hollywood Crew
Jon Desenberg,

A few months back a big time Hollywood crew surrounded a house on Mintwood and 19th Street. They were shooting well into the night and I was intrigued. Maybe another Clint Eastwood movie (all his DC films seem to shoot in the neighborhood) or maybe Tom Cruise was back, near the site where they shot alot of "A Few Good Men". No such luck, sadly it was "America's Most Wanted" re-creating the awful murder of the young woman in the house a couple years back. It airs on Fox, April 25th. Another reminder of that sad event is the strangely out of place security guard who seems completely bored as he walks up and down Mintwood most days. The neighborhood panicked and all chipped in for the rent-a-cop service.

One last Ward One note, who else is laughing at all the taxpayer-paid Frank Smith mailings suddenly flooding the mailbox. Too little, too late Frank...[John had to get the final ward...Jeff]


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.



Looking for info on Samaritan Inns, Inc.
Frank Pruss

Samaritan Inns, Inc. are planning on opening a rooming house on the corner of my street. They currently operate: Mozart Place Inn, Fuller Street Inn, Harvard Street Inn, Lazarus House, Tabitha's House. All in all, they sound good on 'paper'. While they seem to be federated with National Capitol Area United Way, I can't find much else on them on the web. I'd appreciate any information readers may have to offer.



Cindy Butler,

This is precisely why I lurk! I get awfully tired of all of the Washingtonian breast-beating, but find good leads and things at the end of all the ranting. Thanks, Jeff.


Michael Tacelosky,

I recently had a 2 small plumbing problems -- a leaky faucet and a stopped-up shower drain. I happened to receive a call from a company called "Johnny-B-Quick" saying they were going to be in the area, did I want to get anything looked at, so I agreed. Their bid for these two jobs was $375. I'm no plumber, but even I could tell that this was way out of line. I declined their offer for service, called Beall Plumbing in Georgetown, and got everything taken care of for $115. I liked Beall, and will use them again if I need to.


Amazing Auction
Andrea Carlson,

Great stuff for a good cause. Amazing Life Games, a nonprofit preschool, holds its annual auction Sunday, April 26 from 12-4. Dinner at Restaurant Nora, architectural advice, shiatsu sessions and a plethora of other valuable items could be yours. Moonbounce, face painting, games and other fun stuff for kids, plus great food and drink for all. Amazing Life Games Preschool, 1844 Mintwood Pl, NW, just off Columbia Rd. in Adams Morgan.


Spring Beer Tasting Party to Benefit the Homeless, May 14, 7:00-9:30, Brickskeller

Taste beers from around the world! Party will benefit the Homeless Breakfast Program of St. Margaret's Church and will include dinner buffet, auction, and beer lecture. $25 donation. Brickskeller is located at 1523 22nd St. NW near Dupont Circle. Questions? Contact Bruce McBarnette,, (703) 404-8429


Room Available for the Summer
Phil Shapiro,

We have a room opening up for the summer in our shared student house. $375/month, plus 1/4 utilities. Located at Connecticut Ave. near Nebraska Ave., NW. Walk to Van Ness subway stop. Available May 1, May 15, or June 1. (We're kinda flexible on our side.) Looking to find a summer intern, or the like. Macintosh-enthusiasm a big plus.


RELAXATION? We're The Experts! Stress/Tension/Pain? BodyWise BodyWorks offers excellent massage! A Stress-Free Body Is Heaven On Earth. Call Us: 202-966-6113 3701 Cleveland Park. Jenn Weed, Prop.,


FOR SALE: Furniture -- Ikea unfinished pine dresser, small, 3 drawers: $35; Ikea pine chair with fabric seat and back: $25; Large dresser with 3 deep drawers, slightly marred finish: $80; Futon, no frame, 8 inches, a little over a year old: $80; Bike with medium frame, not too fancy, but rides well: $75 (helmet included). Prices completely negotiable. Call Lexi Sentell , 202-483-3762 or email



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,


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