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May 24, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

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

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Dear Neighbors:

Mark your calendars for June 10, the date of our next dc.story party. Festivities begin at 7:30 PM (until 9:30 PM). Meet the faces behind those email addresses and meet the folks who will be shaping the course of city politics over the next few years.

I am delighted that I have secured the old Roma Garden for this occasion. The refurbished garden reminds me of the wine gardens of Vienna. Firehook Bakery offers coffee, pastries, salads, sandwiches, - and beer and wine.

PLEASE RSVP BY SENDING ME AN EMAIL MESSAGE WITH "GARDEN" IN THE SUBJECT LINE. I need a head count and will send out an announcement in the event we have to postpone the event due to rain. Admission to the event is $5.

Firehook Bakery is located in Cleveland Park at 3411 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Neighborhood parking, metered parking, and pay lots are available. The Cleveland Park Metro is only a couple of hundred feet from Firehook. Consult Metro for information about the several major bus routes that service the neighborhood.


Now I'm Over It.

You won't hear any lamentations in this corner about Marion Barry's decision not to run for reelection. Let's hope he lives long and prospers far, far away from D.C. As a person more interested in realism than symbolism, I fall in the camp that rates Barry's entire tenure a disaster. Why wait for history to judge when the facts are in plain sight. Marion Barry is the District's Coleman Young, Detroit's long-time mayor whose legacy is synonymous with misery.

Barry apologist Tom "that was Harry who wrote that book" Sherwood makes a revealing observation in the recent Washington City Paper about Barry's legacy: Barry's departure will probably do little to quell Congress's assault on home rule. Now that the representatives from North Carolina have micromanagement in their blood, it will take leeches to bleed it out of their veins. However, Sherwood reaches the wrong conclusion that it wasn't all Barry's fault. Ok, El Nino wasn't Barry's fault. However, Barry and his Jim Jones acolytes brought the District into ER on a gurney. Now the trick is to rescue the comatose patient from the hands of incompetent doctors.

His downfall was cast from the beginning, though it took a time for the tragedy to play out. Like a drunken gambler, he kept borrowing money from the Casino, hoping he would hit a jackpot. He knew how to give away cash prizes in dribs and drabs, but all at the expense of creating wealth that could benefit all. He bankrupted the city, he sank the boat, he (add your own metaphor here). If was skipper of the Titanic, the ship wouldn't have hit an iceberg -- it would have floundered around lost at sea until the provisions ran out.

We'd all be in far better shape today if the mayor cared about the city more and himself less.

What do you think?


Ready for a good chance get serious about fix your city? The D.C. Inspector General wants to hear from you. You may now contact the D.C. Inspector General on a toll-free hot line number. If you have any information about corruption, waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement involving any D.C. government agency or official call the Inspector General at 1-800-521-1639. All calls are confidential, and callers may remain anonymous."

You can even ask them why they need a toll-free telephone number.

Jeffrey Itell May 24, 1998


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Helping Chief Ramsey Find his Cops
Ron Eberhardt,

New D. C. police chief Charles H. Ramsey recently said that he was frustrated that he couldn't find his officers as he traversed the city on unannounced visits and while riding with patrol officers. Frustrated citizens can tell Ramsey where to find his cops, and we can tell where they are not. This past Saturday morning a half-dozen (or more) cops were busy writing radar tickets in the 1200-1300 blocks of Ninth Street, N. W. Then on Monday scores of DC cops were busy stopping drivers for seat belt violations. They did the same nonsense a few weeks ago at rush hour on the 14th Street Bridge.

These are places where the cops ought not have been, doing what minimally may have the least effect on either crime or quality of life. Those officers on Ninth Street stood where otherwise, 18-hours a day, people gather to hang-out on the sidewalk and stoops of boarded up buildings drinking alcohol, blocking the sidewalk and carrying on obnoxiously while just steps away a brave soul recently opened a day care center! Those cops were one block from an apartment building where two unsolved murders have happened in six months. They were two blocks from where prostitutes operate loudly in residential neighborhoods from midnight to 7:00 a.m. every day of the week. All with immunity from police.

Yet, when the police or their commanders are approached about these problems, the standard line is that they do not have sufficient officers to conduct sting operations aimed at hookers and their johns (though six weeks ago they held their first such operation years) nor do they have time to clear sidewalks. Apparently they don't have time to solve murders either. Our new Chief needs to understand that the citizens do not have much trust nor confidence in their police. How can we when we see examples of misused police resources or the regular sight of a half dozen cop cars parked at the nearest Seven-Eleven? Chief Ramsey needs to stop looking for his officers and begin directing where they should be found and what they should be spending their time - and our tax dollars doing. Then, both his and our collective frustrations will be eased!


Remembering Marion Barry. . .
Sam Smith,

The story of Marion Barry is far more interesting and complex than the media has often suggested. Your editor met with Barry in 1965 and has followed him closely over the next three decades. For some notes made along the way see


Wild Critters on Hallowed Ground
Anne Drissel (

I thought I had seen everything in this town until the other night.....Actually this happened one evening a couple weeks ago -- I was driving through the grounds of the Washington Cathedral when I saw an unusual animal cross the roadway and scurry across the lawn on the east side of the Cathedral. It looked like an oversized cat. I had a fleeting thought that this critter might be a relative of the Tysons Corner Cougar Family rushing to reboard a tourist bus after Evening Vespers. But it didn't quite fit my picture of cougars - especially its tail.

The critter had a cat-like contour -- definitely not a dog contour -- but it was significantly larger than a house cat. It's rear legs were longer than its front legs. It's tail was bushy and pitched high on its hind quarters (carried somewhat like a horse's tail). I've looked in several animal books and realize I've never seen an animal with this shape anywhere. I did see a description of a "Marten" in one book that could have been a possible choice. Can anyone guess what type of animal this might have been? Any suggestions who might know??


Shaw Convention Center is BAD for Ward One"
Scott McLarty, DC Green Party candidate for the Ward One seat on DC City Council,, 202-518-5624

I strongly urge Center Ward One residents to testify against Shaw Convention at the May 29 DC Council hearing on Convention Center finances (Friday, May 29, 9 a.m., One Judiciary Square -- call 724-8180 to sign up). The Convention Center was proposed for the Shaw neighborhood in 1993 at a cost of $444 million dollars. Current costs are estimated at $650 million, but the US General Accounting Office projects at least $737 million. The cost may spiral up to $1 billion because of excavation costs and because of the bond interest. A hotel and restaurant surtax has been proposed by the DC Council Finance and Revenue Committee to cover cost overruns in excess of $650 million. The surtax will hand DC restaurants, which like all DC businesses are still paying an Arena Surtax, the bill for the Convention Center, even though at least half the revenue will go to the suburbs. Such a surtax will unfairly burden Ward One's thriving restaurant business.

Since the surtax won't cover the likely extra hundred-million-dollar-plus costs of construction, money may be transferred from the general fund (i.e., out of the taxes we all pay), and possibly from public transportation funding. If transportation funding (e.g., the Highway Trust Fund) is siphoned off to the Convention Center, we may see delays in the completion of the Green Line extension into Columbia Heights in Ward One. The Shaw Convention Center is part of a master development plan which will add a stadium on a Massachusetts Avenue site and freeways to accommodate the traffic for the Convention Center, the MCI Arena, and the stadium. The plan threatens to revive the defeated proposal to extend I-95 down 13th Street, displacing Ward One residents. Call DC Council members (main switchboard 724-8000) and tell them to vote NO on the Shaw Convention Center!


A Word from One of Our Own Regular Posters About the DC Curfew Law
Art pitzer,

Court of Appeals Says D.C. Curfew Law Unconstitutional, May 22, 1998

The second-highest court in the nation ruled today that the District of Columbia's juvenile curfew law violated the constitutional rights of children. In a 2-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed a lower-court decision that permanently prohibited the D.C. government from enforcing the city's 1995 curfew law. That law prohibited people under age 17 from being in any public place or private establishment between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays, and between midnight at 6 a.m. on weekends. The curfew law had not been enforced since the lower court's decision in October, 1996. The American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of a group of children and their parents, hailed the ruling as an important victory for the rights of young people and families. While the three judges issued three separate opinions, the majority agreed that although the city had a strong interest in preventing juvenile crime, there was no good reason to believe that the curfew law would have any significant impact on that problem, and it would seriously infringe on the basic right of liberty.


A League of Their Own
Mike Aspen,MAspen1020

According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, nearly 15 percent more woman than men voted in the '96 Presidential election. In an attempt to close this "participation gap", Mike Aspen has formed a new grassroots organization: The League of Men Voters, based in Boys Town, Nebraska.

According to Aspen, "The new league...stresses the idea that the differences between men and women, despite misunderstandings and injustices, actually contribute a vitality and creativity that is indispensable to our culture."

Detailed information is available by calling (402) 445-2903 or writing to League of Men Voters, P.O. Box 300, Boys Town, NE 68010-0300. Memberships may be obtained by calling 1-888-SAY-VOTE (1-888-729-8683). Visa and Master Card are accepted. Lifetime Memberships are also available.


Vouchers, A Good Idea
Ed T. Barron,

If I had a youngster in the DCPS in a neighborhood where the local schools were poor in quality, I would welcome the opportunity to send my kids to a non-public school. It's well and good to say that we should make the DCPS better. If the new school leaders come up with a decent plan to completely revise the school system and then implement that plan they will get the kids back. Realistically we are talking about five years for the schools to show major improvements. In the meantime I'd want my kids to get a good education and would welcome the opportunity to use vouchers to ensure that better education.


Millennium Plans
Paul Williams

Lois Kirkpatrick (Y2K-1) asked for innovative plans for the millennium; I don't know how big her plans can get, but I'm taking a nephew and being joined by a few friends going to Fiji for a week before the big date and toward the end being some of the first humans to celebrate New Years. Then, thanks to the international date line, we will all fly to Hawaii the next day (arriving a day previous, New Years Eve again) to do it all over, being some of the last humans on earth to celebrate the same event.


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.



I am an apartment dweller and in search of a good patch of earth for planting some vegetables. I would like some information about community gardens in the Woodley Park or Cleveland Park neighborhoods. Brad Jones,


We have two foreign students visiting in July and August, a young lady of 17 and a boy of 13. Both speak good, although far from perfect, English. We would appreciate any information you might have on summer schooling for them in Washington -- academic, athletic, or both. Ed Kane,





On Wednesday, May 27, the League of 8,000, along with the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, is sponsoring its first mayoral debate at St. Peter's Catholic Church on Capitol Hill (2nd & C Streets, SE). 7:30 PM. Moderator Bruce Johnson of Channel 9 will ask the mayoral candidates to discuss "Their Records and Our Neighborhoods."

The League of 8,000 will hold a second mayoral debate on June 24 at 7:30 PM at Holy Comforter Lutheran Church at the corner of Branch and Alabama Avenues, SE.


Two tickets available for the production of "Rag Time" on May 30 at 8pm. Tickets are $75 apiece. Eliza Leighton,


Busy journalist needs personal assistant/miracle worker, a right arm she can count on to manage home/office in Georgetown Handle business and personal matters including troubleshooting, scheduling, correspondence. You must have strong organizational, communication, and people skills, be savvy, mature, and discreet. Non-smoker. Please respond in writing, describing qualifications, salary requirements, etc. Karen Feld,, or fax 202-338-4750



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,


Job sought - Federal employee seeks part time job in VB programming, database applications, or systems/user support. Availability limited to evenings and weekends. Call Richard Koris at (202) 708-8604 or


Non-smoking female Sarah Lawrence student seeks summer housing in D.C. from July 1 until August 15. Group house OK. Please contact Lauren Bishow at (610) 658-0861 or by e-mail


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

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