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June 7, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

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Dear Neighbors:

Full disclosure. During this election season, I'm in the tank for Kathy Patterson and Tony Williams. Big surprise, right? I still plan to be an honest broker, so send your vitriol my way.

However, I would like to write a few words about press coverage Tony Williams has received. Reporters are showing their ignorance of government every time they refer to Williams as a "bean counter." The Chief Financial Officer is a major policymaker in the government. The CFO has responsibility for preparing the budget, the most important policy document of all. The council, mayor, control board, and congress all have their say, but those who control the numbers usually have the biggest say. Finances drive policy choices. DC General is essentially insolvent. Who do you think is going to offer major recommendations for solving that problem? Taxation, revenue collection, property assessments, et al, are city services the same as parking enforcement and pothole repair (and probably just as popular). Williams supervises those activities. Most of our councilmembers, on a good day, legislate and set policy. None execute it, except when they fill an executive vacuum. Thus, their stretch to an executive function is far greater than one Williams would have to make. That he can count beans is an added bonus.


Jim Carrey is coming. Gwynyth Paltrow is coming. Leonardo Dicaprio is coming. And 120 people have sent in their RSVP for our forthcoming dc.story party. Our get together takes place on June 10 at Firehook Bakery (from 7:30 PM until 9:30 PM). We'll meet in Firehook's Garden (the refurbished Roma Garden). Firehook offers coffee, pastries, salads, sandwiches, 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, which covers the cost of organizing the event.

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.

You certainly attend without sending an RSVP but sending one will make it easier to plan the event.

Jeffrey Itell June 7, 1998


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Rock Creek Antenna Towers?
Lindsley Williams (

Bell Atlantic has filed applications to have cellular telephone service towers at two locations in Rock Creek, Notice of which was published in the Federal Register May 26. See pages 28521-28522 or, if you don't keep that publication handy for your daily reading pleasure, search for it at (I'd give you the full cite but you can only get there by searching.)

According to that Notice: One application is for the Fitzgerald Tennis Center. The proposed facility consists of an antenna incorporated into the existing Tennis Center lights, which would raise the light pole height from the current 50 feet, to 78 feet to 100 feet. Additionally, there is a proposed 12 feet by 30 feet shelter to house associated equipment. The second application is for the Rock Creek Maintenance Facility. The proposed facility includes installation of a 100 foot monopole. There is a proposed 12 feet by 30 feet by 30 feet shelter to house associated equipment.

I think area residents should get to know more of the details, and comment before the June 25 deadline. Send your comments to dc.story, and, more important to: National Park Service, Superintendent Adrienne Coleman, 3545 Williamsburg Lane, NW., Washington, DC 20008 (where you can also see the full application. Their phone: (202) 282-1063.

In my opinion, no tower should be allowed if it would upset the appearance of the Park. The industry can produce towers that looks like trees, one reportedly being near Mt. Vernon in Virginia. Second, if anything is allowed, it should be usable by all cellular providers, not just one -- and benefit all cellular users. The "holes" in cellular service experienced in Rock Creek should not be filled by a single service provider, and we don't want a forest of antenna towers, even if made to look like trees.


New Numbers for Nerds
Len Sullivan,

Now that members of the Williams Fan Club have successfully lured DC's finest CFO away from finishing the job he has only just begun, it is encumbent on them to maximize his chances for continuing his good work for our nation's capital city. This involves a new kind of number crunching: i.e., how to survive a 5-man primary without a run-off, but with a not too hidden "wild card".

With the encumbent mayor bowed out, the early straw polls indicated something like a 25%, 25%, 15%, 5% split between the expected candidates with 30% undecided. The addition of a fifth candidate might--optimistically--change these to a 20%, 20%, 20%, 15%, 5% split with 20% undecided--perhaps evenly split between slavishly pro-Barry, and slavishly anti-Barry voters. If as hinted, Barry endorses one candidate, the final tally might be closer to 30%, 26%, 23% 16%, 5%, handily nominating his choice with less than one-third of the votes cast. The 21% drained off by the extra candidates could obviously change the winner in a 3-man run-off, since most of them are unlikely Barry disciples. Hence, in the same order, the run-off results might easily be 32%, 30%, 38% with a different winner. (Even DC's gov't employee unions are wise enough to use run-off elections.)

The Council's evidently self-serving unwillingness to reinstitute run-off primaries continues to make our nation's capital look like American democracy at risk, not at work


Meeting Dr. Barnett

Robert Levine,

I've just returned from a meeting of the Georgetown Residents Alliance that had Dr. Camille Barnett, the Chief Management Officer for the District, as the speaker. She has great charisma and inspires confidence in her ability to manage a city. The problem as she describes it is huge, as we all know, and sounds like it will take several more years to take effective action to upgrade essential city services. Her mantra of Customer Service and Personal Responsibility are a welcome refrain, she sounds like she actually means to implement both points. After listening to a decade of local politicians her attitude is refreshing. I walked out of the meeting thinking that maybe she really can fix our city or at least I hope she can.


Say It Ain't So!
Cheryl Fox,

I haven't heard any comments about Jonetta Rose Barras' new book on our mayor . . . I found the bisexual allegation intriguing. Sort of makes you think again about his trips to Roweshea Burris' house for a sandwich and to "change his clothes."

But seriously, Barras' interview on MSNBC sounded to me like she had graduated from the Matt Drudge School of Journalism. I totally appreciate her writing in the City Paper, and Lord knows she's a breath of fresh air on the DC Politics and Government Hour, but why the salacious rumors? I am very relieved that Barry's not running for another term, but, please, give the man some dignity! And next time someone says he is solely responsible for the city's woes, ask yourself what Evans, Chavous, and Brazil (or any of the other Councilmembers, for that matter) did to make the city a better place to live.


Cars booted at Friendship Heights.
E. James Lieberman,

I just saw three boots in two blocks on the DC side of Western Ave. Apparently folks are parking there in larger numbers to access the Metro, and neighbors don't like it. There's a two hour limit for cars lacking residential parking stickers.


Been to a Library Lately
Lois M. Kirkpatrick,

In the last issue of dc.story, Phil Shapiro writes: "Should neighborhood libraries reserve shelf space for creative content from people in the neighborhood? You bet| Imagine what would happen if that took place." and then refers readers to a web site where he notes: "We need to tap into libraries as the central place where locally produced ideas and information can be shared."

In Fairfax County, most of our 19 library branches have display cases which members of the public can reserve for up to a month to display items of their own interest or artistic creation. You may have seen the article in the Washington Post about a woman who proudly displayed her Humpty Dumpty collection of memorabilia in our Centreville branch.

In addition, most library systems in the area, including ours, make their meeting rooms available to the community for (usually non-profit) public use. You can share your ideas by starting a discussion group, a writers' group, an art appreciation club, you name it. ALSO, most library systems in the area actively seek local and national published authors to feature in library literary events.

All the library systems in the DC metro area have web sites. Check them out to find out what's really going on at your public library, and how you can make a difference. And to participate in an online book discussion group, check out our "Front Porch" at


Two Arrested For Carrying Wrong Message To Council
Beth Solomon,

Steve Donkin and Chris Niles were arrested at the June 2, 1998, D.C. Council vote on the convention center after police tried to confiscate Donkin's briefcase of funny money that said something like: "For delivery to Jack Evans, Charlene Drew Jarvis and Harold Brazil for their service in selling out the citizens to build a billion-dollar boondoggle." Niles and Donkin, pushed by the police, were thrown into several rows of chairs. Convention center architect (and long-time Barry crony) Ted Mariani put a choke-hold on Niles, saying he was "trying to protect him." Right. Donkin and Niles changed the chemistry of the day and led the news coverage. One citizen rushed to Council chambers from Ward 7, saying "Wow, I thought it was boring down there."

The main themes of the day were emphasized further when the "White Elephant" burst into the chambers in the early afternoon. Police grabbed her and ejected her for the day. Councilmember Harold Brazil was not ejected or arrested when he strutted around with a "Convention Center Yes" T-shirt behind the dais. It looked pretty dumb though.


Convention Capers
Steph "More concise than Leslie Miles" Faul

As another conventiongoer who used to write about the industry, I can tell you that attendees (as we call them) don't walk to the center from the hotel unless it's literally across the street. They're afraid of crime and getting lost, plus they're *tired* from touring around the hall. Chicago's center is in the middle of nowhere and seems to do fine, ditto the Javits. The Orlando center is on International Drive near shops and hotels and as a result is becoming difficult to reach by car during busy times. (It's also just expanded -- something the Mt. Vernon center will not be able to do.) The Boston and Philadelphia centers are downtown near hotels but can't hold the biggest trade shows.

Bottom line: Union Station. Cheaper to buy, easier to build, room to grow, and nobody's going to walk there anyway. The Mt. Vernon arguments are so clearly bogus I can't believe sentient human beings believe them.


Convention Center - Mixed Emotions
Ed T. Barron,

Building a new convention center at Mt Vernon Square will decidedly improve the neighborhood and be a benefit to the city much as the new MCI Center has helped restore the are around Chinatown. Kathy Patterson and Sharon Ambrose have courageously raised viable questions about the cost versus locating the new center near Union Station. These are important questions that need answering. Yes the cost has been capped at $685M but there are no supporting bids or contractor quotes that validate the center, as generously portrayed in a recent Post article, could ever be built for that price. The most likely outcome of beginning the project at the Mount Vernon site

is that, as time went on and the reality of the costs come home to roost, we will find a dramatically downsized center with a much less desirable appearance and few of the necessary amenities that would make the center a real boon to the local community and an attraction to visiting conventions. Having visited most of the major city convention halls as an exhibitor over a ten year period, I can say without hesitation that the location of the center in Washington at either spot would not be a problem.


Can Anyone Answer My Question?
Jeffrey Itell,

Most convention centers are net economic losers, even when you account for externalities such as hotel and restaurant business. That's the professional opinion. That's what the books say. I haven't seen a study that concludes our convention center, whether it's built in Shaw, Union Station, or on Mars will add to the city's economy. Does one exist? Is the study valid? Have we been asking the wrong question all along?

Why not foist this economic loser on the suburbs? We won't waste valuable downtown property and many conventioneers will stay in the city to see the sights. The suburbs loss could be our gain. That would be a switch. I acknowledge my ignorance of the studies about this convention center, but I've seen virtually nothing discussing this issue. (I missed the City Paper convention story, which may have covered this angle.) So please enlighten me.


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.



House in Cleveland Park/Woodley Park/ Mass Heights Area Horace Howells,

My wife and I seem to be in the process of expanding and are looking for a house to buy in one of the aforementioned neighborhoods. We are looking for a 4-5 bedroom house. Coincidentally my cousins are also looking for a house, although I think that they are looking for something a bit larger. If you are thinking about selling your house, or know someone who is, we would appreciate any information, please call (202) 244-4803 or email





You're invited to the following Legislative Reception & Issues Forum with the DC City Council. Join DC City Councilmembers and Jewish leaders from the District for a special reception and issues forum to discuss matters from home rule to improved government services.

Wednesday, June 17, 1998 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. District of Columbia Jewish Community Center (DCJCC), Social Hall 1529 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC (close to Dupont Circle metro stop). Positive RSVP's to Vera at (202)785-4200. Sponsored by: The American Jewish Committee Washington Chapter, Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, DCJCC.

Lynne Mersfelder, (Co-Chair, Young Leaders Forum, American Jewish Committee, and Commissioner, Adams Morgan ANC1-C)


Wanted: Babies! Mommies! Daddies!
Jenn Weed,

I am seeking parents with infants (sorry, no crawlers or toddlers for this class) for a FREE series of three sessions to teach you how to massage your infant. Massage helps the bonding process, stimulates myelination of the brain and nervous system, can improve sleep patterns, relieve colic and constipation. I am doing my practicum, so this is the only time the class will offered free and space is limited. Please call 202-966-6113 and leave name, number and best time to reach you. Jenn Weed, Owner of BodyWise BodyWorks, 3701 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite #2


Free Dishwasher!

Historic Whirlpool dishwasher free! Old, ugly, noisy, (not unlike the present owner), still works great but no guarantees (ditto). Call Steph at 202/638-5944 extension 4. or write to


Need Help With Your Computer Needs At Home Or In The Office?
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.


For sale: bookcase, washer, dryer
R L Widmann,

Handmade oak bookcase. 72" high, 32" wide, 12" deep. $125.00 obo. Apartment size white washer. 33" high, 20" wide, 24" deep. $75.00 obo. Apartment size white electric dryer. 25" high, 25" wide, 13" deep. $40.00 obo. or $85.00 for the washer and dryer together. On Capitol Hill, near the Eastern Market, near 7th and Independence SE 202--543-3015 or 202--543-3181 after 7 a.m. and before 10 p.m. Monday--Sunday or email to


Announcing the opening of BALI BLISS IMPORTS upon my return from Bali, Indonesia at the end of this month. Beautifully designed artifacts crafted by hand by artisans on the idyllic island of Bali. Paintings, wood carvings, candlesticks, handmade soaps, scents, aromatherapy and bath oils, contemporary home design pieces, wrought iron lamps and much, much more. By appointment and special events. Send post, email and phone info to be included on list to Patty Friedman,, 202-232-3449.


Also, free! Free movie passes, short movie reviews, and movie discussion. Send an email message to to subscribe.


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

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