themail.gif (3487 bytes)

May 6, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

dc.story is presented in association with Washington's News Station The *New* WTOP!

More popular than Howard or Imus ! WTOP vaults into the top three morning radio shows in Washington in the latest ratings ! Check out the news station that's live, local and late-breaking (and also covers the District on a daily basis) at 1500 AM or 107.7 FM (whichever signal is strongest where you live).

WTOP-AM and FM *** Washington's News Station!


Dear Neighbors:

Doh! That was my Homer Simpson-like response when I read about the recent "Buy-a-Sticker" inspection scandal for taxis. In retrospect, it seems so obvious that such a fraud was occurring. In recent years, hardly any taxi has inspired me with its vim, vigor, and stamina - or safety. Care for another signal I ignored? Several years ago, a taxi rear ended my car while I was stopped (for about 20 seconds) at the stop sign where Beach Drive enters Rock Creek Parkway. "What was the problem?" I asked, not screamed. "No brakes," the hack replied. "I see," I said, but I apparently did not.

So here is what I suggest as homework for dc.story readers. Name other obvious DC schtick that "might" be caused by mal- or misfeasance. Let us draw up a list. I will throw out the first miscreant - former Senator Bob Dole. Al Kamen in the Post noted the other day that he still drives with Kansas license plates (or tags, if you will). I believe that diplomatic immunity applies only to active members of Congress and their staff. Dole lives in DC and Boca Raton and somehow I doubt he drives to Florida. I also believe that his wife, Elizabeth Dole, has a decent District job. I wonder where they pay their local taxes. Al Kamen noted that most retired members of Congress retiring to spend more time with their families respond by bring their families to the Potomac. My feeling is that if this group of ex-lawmakers does not want to abide by District law, they can have the pleasure of commuting to their K Street offices from Dale City every morning.


From today's Washington Post. D.C. Council member and mayoral hopeful Jack Evans (D-Ward 2): "I think we need to find out the reasons why people don't get [driver's] licenses and address these issues." Here is one suggestion: Send renewal notices. How many District residents wake up in the morning with the thought, "Gee, I wonder when my license expires?" Given the 8-point type, most residents would have difficulty reading the expiration date anyway. Many folks do not pull their licenses out of their wallets on a regular basis. Timely reminders would makes streets safer and the District's coffers fuller.

Jeffrey Itell May 6, 1998


Verio DC--formerly Internet Interstate--offers the expert, personalized services and the best-price guarantee you've come to expect from Internet Interstate, as well as the powerful national resources of the Verio network.

Verio DC gives your business the competitive edge-- with Total Internet Business Solutions. . . Guaranteed!

For more information, please call your Verio DC representative at 301-652-4468 or 1-888-VERIO-DC (1-888-837-4632), or visit us at

Verio DC -- Your Internet Department for the Next Millenium.


Been There, Done. . .
Carl Bergman

Kathy Carroll broaches the idea of a run off in the mayoral primary. A wining candidate would have to get 40% of the vote or have a run off against the runner up. That used to be DC law, but was repealed when no one got less than 40 percent. It's not likely that the Council would vote this before the next election -- one that seems headed for an every way split. If we did do this, I see no reason not to go to the more common 50 percent. Given a one party town, it might actually stimulate interest. Meanwhile, David De Seve would like a class action lawsuit for challenging taxation without representation. In the 70s Julius Hobson, community hell raiser and first Statehood Councilmember, brought one. Former Chief Justice Berger torpedoed it unmercifully. His opinion: it was a nice slogan for a revolution, but it's not in the constitution. Worry not, there're a couple more suits underway or soon to be filed.

Tom Barry astutely asks, if we can't be a state why not a territory? You're right, most states started as territories, and they had more leeway than DC. For a couple of years, 1871 to 1873, DC had a territorial legislature and an appointed governor, local hero, Boss Shepherd. They were an active couple of years. The Boss turned the city into a good-looking place, with roughshod improvements and finally bankruptcy. The territorial legislature adopted the District seal, passed an open accommodations law, and required that restaurants place menus in the window to prevent overcharging black patrons. We had our first non-voting delegate whose name was Norton Chipman. Anyone remember his other claim to fame? [The answer appears in dc.query.]


It's a Wrap
Janet Hess,

What the devil's the story on the Cleveland Park Wrap & Roll? Restaurants come & go quickly here, but this was a real doozy. In case you blinked, it's gone. On Monday, May 4, the windows were covered with brown paper and "For Lease" signs; on Tuesday, things were being carried out the door and into a van. Another sign on the door suggests that people go to their Wisconsin Ave. location. Maybe they won't be closing that one til next week?


Favorite Traffic Hazards
Bill Adler,,

Here's my nomination for Favorite Traffic Hazard: Newark and Reno, NW. When it rains, cars crash. When it doesn't rain, cars crash.

Last Friday, May 1st, a mini van and one of those cute, fragile Japanese cars exchanged body parts. The police came, and while the officer was writing tickets --with his car lights flashing-- another accident happened. (How embarrassing!) The problem with this intersection, it seems, is that while Newark Street cars are trying to cross Reno Road, the drivers on Reno race to stop them. "Traffic flow engineers" aside, this is an intersection badly in need of a traffic light or maybe a speed mountain.


Favorite Traffic Hazards
Lindsley Williams (

Last Friday evening, there were two consecutive 2-car accidents at the intersection of 34th Street (Reno Road) at Newark. One of DC's finest showed up to deal with the first, but called for reinforcements after the second one happened. Seems that this corner should be owned by a consortia of local body shops and others that benefit from injury and fault. I would bet a full tally of incidents would show this intersection generates more than one event per week.

My suggestion: restripe the segment of 34th Street between Woodley Road and Tilden Street with center lane dedicated to left turns, much like the portion of "upper" Reno Road from Van Ness Street to Nebraska Avenue.


More West End Traffic
Ted Gest,

Mike Wilkinson is correct in his 5/3 post about West End traffic, but there must have been a typo: it's 22nd Street (not 23rd) that goes northbound at P. The broader problem is that DC allowed the West End to be built up tremendously with no apparent thought to the traffic tieups that have resulted. Among many cases in point: southbound drivers enter the intersection of 23rd and N during evening rush hour with no concern about whether they can clear the intersection, thus preventing eastbound traffic on N from crossing the intersection. Also, after the rush-hour no-parking restrictions are lifted at 6:30, and 22nd Street is abruptly cut from 3 lanes to 1, the intersection of 22nd and N and probably others become impossible. This must apply elsewhere in DC, but when was the last time the 6:30 time was reviewed? Is it clear to all that rush hour suddenly ends at 6:30? That would be nice, but it's not necessarily realistic.


Throw Momma From The Metro
Ed T. Barron,

In case you missed the two bits bus fare special a few months ago on the MetroBus you have another chance to enjoy the Metro system's largesse on Mother's Day, Sunday the 10th of May. But this time Metro is going all out in their celebration of national Transit Week by offering FREE transport all day Sunday on BOTH the MetroBus AND MetroTrain. So take Momma on the train this weekend, gang.


Flower Men
Evan Roth,

Amidou and Pap, the two men who run the flower stand at Connecticut and Ordway, are still there, although their hours vary; they were there only sporadically during the winter. Now that it's warming up, they are usually at that corner toward the end of the week. I just bought some tulips from Amidou on Friday. Amidou and Pap provide an important service to Cleveland Park, and help make it such a lively and livable neighborhood. They also let me practice my pitiful French on them!


Flower Man at Ordway/Connecticut
Karen Anderson,

In response to Barbara Menard's query about the disappearance of the flower seller at Ordway and Connecticut: I agree, this seems like a minor issue but is one that affects our neighborhood's "quality of life." Like Barbara, I was concerned when the flower stand disappeared for several days. When it reappeared, I asked the flower seller what the problem was. He told me that the police have ticketed him several times recently for selling flowers in that spot, and had threatened to arrest him the next time they saw him there. He told me that he has a license to sell (but apparently, not at that particular spot). He thinks that some of the local merchants have been complaining to police about him taking up space on the corner. I don't know the legal issues involved, but I do know that we need somewhere to buy flowers in Cleveland Park -- it's one of the few things missing in our neighborhood.


A Modest Proposal To Rename The Capital City
Steph Faul,

So. Yet another new arrival is *shocked* to discover that D.C. residents are "taxed without any accountable representation." This highlights what may be our two biggest problems: First, the rest of the country doesn't know about our lack of rights, and probably wouldn't care if it did. Second, our population is constantly turning over, so that new arrivals don't know what happened before they got here. (For one thing, we didn't used to be able to vote at *all*; I never saw an election of any kind until I was almost 16.)

I recommend we rename the District of Columbia the "George Santayana Memorial Historical Laboratory," since the city seems doomed to repeat a past of which it is ignorant. Either that, or "Winston Smithville," since D.C. history changes dramatically depending on who is talking.

Steph "At least Boss Shepherd paid his cronies to do something *useful*" Faul


Get Off Retrocession and Vouchers
Richard Rothblum,

Jeff -- Great suggestion to bypass the things that no one agrees on and concentrate on the problems that might be solved with some support and input from "we the people." I am in favor of school vouchers, but if we are not going to get them, let's fix the public schools. We need to face the fact that a lot more money is required to educate many of the students in DC. If it takes $15,000 per head to educate a Sidwell student, why do we think that it is going to be cheaper for less competent staff and management to teach less educable students? It is probably going to take a lot more. We should just accept this and get it done. We really can't afford the alternative of continuing to graduate unemployable citizens.

Evidently, the people of Washington still want the government to take responsibility for education, despite the results so far. Let's get behind that idea and make sure the government does it. Grit our teeth and accept Afro-Centric studies, politically correct history, Ebonics, feminist propaganda and whatever other crap the education bureaucracy comes up with. Just give them the message that they have to teach the kids something measurable and give them the resources to do it despite inefficiency and various other imperfections of the present system.


Discussing Subjects Other Than Retrocession
Greg Hall,

Your point is well taken. Quit beating a dead horse. D.C. Will never get statehood, and no thinking state would take in a gob of leftist, that would re-elect Barry, that vote in a block for liberals, that think the rest of America owes them, that has a school system that is expensive and not working, that has more chiefs than Indians in some departments, that has enough crime for two cities, that gets more money from the rest of us than the rest of us get in benefits from the city, and is full of the looters of America (lobbyist). Talk about something that is possible, like forming neighborhood watch groups, getting the PTA going, protecting the children that want to learn while they are in school, getting www hookups in the libraries, getting people off welfare, rooting out corruption and punishing the corrupters, throwing out the judges that adjudicate based on their opinions rather than the law. Pick one and start something.


Marijuana Legislation
Richard Schmitt,

Petitions are being circulated for a referendum on the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. I think the timing of the effort in the present political situation is ridiculous. Recently, the District of Columbia lost most of its self-governing to Congress. An implicit reason is the re-election of Marion Barry, an accused but not convicted drug user.

Regaining the basic right to what was limited self rule should be a priority for all politically and socially aware citizens. While the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use may be a worthy goal, any success will result in Congress taking back more rights and powers from the inhabitants of the District for an extended period of time. Everyone is entitled to different priorities. Nevertheless, the number one current priority should be refloating the ship, not trying to make a historic improvement to the ship's sick bay. (Yes, I just saw that movie).


NARPAC, Inc. Updates for May
Len Sullivan,

The National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital has revised its web site for May (See "What's New?" at with new headline summaries, additional relevant web sites, and new correspondence to major players in DC's future. It updates several existing sections using actual FY97 DC budget (and personnel) data, and raises the concern that federal assumption of "state costs", coupled with the still-growing economy (even in DC), has made it too easy to balance future DC budgets without the serious "management reforms" needed to generate lower DC tax burdens and a user-friendly environment for its residents. May's editorial first appeared in the Bethesda Gazette and spells out legislative actions at the federal, state, and local levels that could really give DC something to celebrate during its bicentennial. Feel free to visit, comment, and offer to help. Lurkers also admitted free.


DC's Precarious Little Drama...
Mark-David Richards,

...could be funny right now if we weren't gambling with the local voting rights that our Mayor helped win 2 decades ago. If the Congressional overlords and others with voices that carry REALLY want the Mayor to pursue other honorable career objectives, they should hang on to their lightening bolts. Or we in the middle will pay for his decision to pursue an extended war. The Mayor makes many sensible points, including the one that more erosion of District self-government is highly probable if the few Congressional activists from VA and NC have their way. Right now, it seems as if we're all trapped in one big self-fulfilling Macabre dance... full of threatening gestures, teeth bearing and brow beating, but with little information. Most say Barry isn't going to run. If he doesn't run, I'm not sure whether a run-off primary would be worth the trouble?? But, if he runs, a lot of locals angry at the overlords and their supporting locals (who seem to think they can't win if they play by the rules) will vote Barry. And our pro-control board residents may vote Barry to prolong the CBs stay. The Democratic vote will be fragmented... but enough for a Republican to win?--even if it is our own exceptional Carol Schwartz?

If Mayor Barry runs, and the Title (which is becoming more and more only that) is to have a chance of going to another candidate, we need either the run-off Mr. Sullivan proposes (is there enough time?) or some pretty darn accurate voter intention polling data to get a better sense of one another's thinking. Marion Barry, son of a sharecropper, proved to everyone that the American political system could be responsive to voteless citizens if they are persistent, that he could stand up after a personal fall, run again, and win. He will forever be part of the historic drama of our local struggles. Now, he can prove that he can become a beloved man by sacrificing for the people of the District for whom he stood many times and passing the baton. If not, in an encore show of solidarity against tyranny (here's to the middle finger), we all go down together into the pile of home rule ruins. (Curtain.)


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.



Answer: Norton Chipman was the chief prosecutor at the Andersonville trial, the first US war crimes trial. PBS did a play of this a few years back. Chipman was played by Capt. Kirk himself of all people. Carl Bergman



Can anyone recommend a firm that remodels bathrooms? Any advice appreciated--including the names of companies to avoid! One design firm says the price for all new everything STARTS at $15,000 and can easily exceed $20,000, which sounds steep to me. What has been your experience? Lorraine Swerdloff,


Historic House Wine Tasting Benefit!
Paul Williams,

Please join my Washington, DC AIDS Ride Team -- the Bigwheels -- for a wine tasting benefit at the historic Toutorsky Mansion -- a classic DC landmark built in 1892 for Supreme Court Justice Henry B. Brown, and later home to Russian pianist and composer Basil P. Toutorsky. To learn more go to Fine wines courtesy of Jr's bar and Grill on 17th Street and the BigWheels team.

When: This Thursday, May 7, Thursday, 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. Where: the historic Toutorsky Mansion, 1720 16th Street, NW Why: to benefit the Washington, DC AIDS Ride. The Bigwheels is a group of friends participating in this year's Washington, DC AIDS Ride -- a 350-mile, 4-day bike ride from Raleigh, NC to Washington, DC to raise money to fight AIDS. Stop by to tour the mansion, enjoy free wine and light refreshments, and learn more about the Washington, DC AIDS Ride.


Looking for House to Rent

Family looking for house to rent. Need 4 bdrm (4th can be basement). Prefer areas around Van Ness metro, Cleveland Park, and Tenley metro. Please contact Jeffrey Itell at


Copier $100. Fifteen light but legible pp./minute. Enjoy as is, or pay about $350 (Washington Photocopy's estimate) to restore great contrast. Though an '88 ($2,800 then), this Toshiba BD-5110 -- a legendarily strong model -- has needed just 2 minor service calls. Toner's about 2c/p. -- much cheaper than "personal copier" toner. Glad to demo. Hank Wallace, 966-7866,


Housesitter Available. Responsible recent college graduate is available over the summer in DC for housesitting. Prefer northwest. Please contact Rachel Wellborn at Wesleyan University, 860/685-6893, or in DC, 202/362-6609. Stan Wellborn, STANW@AECF.ORG


I have a 1992 Honda Accord EX 4 dr w/18,500 miles. Pristine condition. Asking $10,000 but will negotiate. Call 202-347-5504. Alison Igoe,


Wanted: Wooden playset attachments, such as sliding boards, swings, etc. Have your kids outgrown them? Also, For Sale: Sunfish sailboat, with trailer, in good condition, $600 or best offer. Phil Greene,


Washer & Dryer For Sale Radine Legum,

Whirlpool washer and dryer. Compact exterior, full-size interior. Both operate on 110 volts. MUST SELL. $325 or best offer. Please call (and leave a message) 202-364-0253.


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.

To send a posting, subscribe, unsubscribe, or send the moderator a yummy treat, write to

Kibitzing by Jeffrey Itell. Copyright (c) 1998. All rights reserved.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)