themail.gif (3487 bytes)

July 6, 1998

Your Bottle Rocket Backfence

dc.story is presented in association with Washington's News Station The *New* WTOP! Top News, Non-Stop ! WTOP is the radio station that doesn't make you wait. Traffic and Weather together every ten minutes on the eights. Sports every half hour at 15 and 45. Money News every half hour at 25 and 55. CBS News at the top of every hour. Plus, more regular coverage of the District, Congress, the White House and regional issues than any other radio station. 1500 AM or 107.7 FM.....whichever signal works best where you are !

Dear Neighbors: How was your Independence Day holiday? I spent my in traditional American fashion-on hold with the Microsoft in-Support-able Cold-As-Ice Line for nearly six hours. I watched Croatia beat Germany in the World Cup and Lucy trick Ricky into singing at the Babaloo Club. What's that great sucking sound I hear out of Redland? I would not have minded as much-that is, I would not have gone ballistic-if tech support admitted they did not know how to solve my simple problems. But when I got the inkling that I knew more than they did-they either had to speak to their supervisor every ten minutes because of their ignorance or some hygiene problem-I was ready to give my computer the boot. As it was, I booted my computer more often than Mussolini booted other countries. With about the same amount of success. My morning of Independence was more fun, however. I marched in the Palisades parade with Kathy Patterson's float. Float might be an exaggeration. Like other candidates, Patterson had a banner, folks with balloons, and a convertible that dispensed unpolitically correct candy to kids. Only Harold Brazil acted strangely. Ms. D.C. floated in his group, but sat on top of a Humvee. What message was that supposed to send? Brazil is tough on crime? Brazil is afraid of crime? Brazil confused Palisades with Basra? Cheers, Jeffrey Itell July 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.

All Wet
Katie Mann,

Does anyone know why the pavement on this intersection is .always. wet? I should clarify, I've only been driving about a month in DC, but seem to have managed to make at least 2 trips a weekend by this intersection (coming and going), and it doesn't seem to matter which weekend day it is, or time of day, this intersection always seems to be wet. I did consider that it was victim of that favorite DC business pasttime of watering the sidewalk, but I've never seen anyone out there doing it, nor have I seen the sidewalk wet. Does anyone know or have a theory? I'm starting to wonder if it's a leaking pipe, but then that still begs the question of how did it get on top of the road.

70-Hour Bike Lessons?
Lois Kirkpatrick,

In the last issue of dcstory, Ed T. Barron, speculated that the high per-bike dollar figure for DC cops probably includes 70 hours of bike- riding instruction. 70 Hours?| You could probably teach circus tigers to ride a bike in less than 70 hours| Was this just a guesstimate, or based on verifiable DCPD documentation?

Sewer Covers
Mike Hill,

If your car is hitting a raised manhole, it means the repaving isn't finished. Several layers of asphalt are required to pave a street, and each layer needs time to harden and settle individually. The final layer should put your street 'even' with the top of the manhole. Before we complain about how inept public works is in DC, let's be sure we understand what's necessary to do a job. If you want to complain about how long it takes to install the various layers, that's another matter, but one that is also governed by standard construction practices.

Media Coverage of the Aids Bike Ride
Jim Farley, WTOP Radio,

Please let me point out that two of reporters, Chuck Williams and Tucker Echols, rode all the way and we carried stories before, during and after. We'll do it again next year...Chuck will ride again and may get more of our folks to join him !

dc.story Party Epilogue

Traffic Signs/Lights and Motorcades
Gabe Goldberg,

After the dc.story party, driving to VA, I noticed particular absence of street signs in multiple DC intersections. This isn't news, I've noticed chronic and egregious missing signage before. But I wonder whether anyone can report successfully complaining about missing signs and having them replaced or added? And to whom -- in the various local jurisdictions, since DC is hardly alone -- does one complain? It seems, of course, that at least missing signs should be noticed by police, reported, and restored -- but no, naturally not. A separate issue, of course, are the unspeakable *new* traffic lights on 14th Street at the R**g*n Building, which may be synchronized with traffic lights on some other planet, but which don't mesh with adjacent 14th Street lights, and so muchly delay traffic. And as I neared the White House, I was delayed for maybe 10 minutes by motorcycle police closing an intersection in anticipation of and then passage of some mighty motorcade with many limos and vans with cheerfully twinkling multi-colored lights. So I wondered who rates such travel besides POTUS and vice-POTUS, whether motorcades are common annoyances downtown, etc.

Department of Public Non-Works
Ted Gest,

Unfortunately, I must report that the D.C. auto license office is no better than ever. On July 1, it took about 1 1/2 hours for my son and me to renew his learner's permit-- something that should be doable in 10-15 minutes. (Remember, this was just a renewal.) The problem starts with the tape recorded information, which incorrectly implies that one should wait until after the permit expires. (In fact, such a wait would require one to start all over, producing a birth certificate, etc.) The real problems begin after arrival at 301 C St., where both a sign and an "information" officer misinform people that one should wait in what July 1 was a long line for room 6. After getting to the front of the line 45 minutes later, we were informed that we shouldn't have been in that line--we should have been in room 7 to take a re-test. After that was done, we were directed to another room to get a notarized form. Waiting in line there resulted in a clerk's telling us that we had to go to another room way down the hall and a statement, "I can't understand why they told you to come here." I don't assume that our experience was atypical. At least Mayor Barry thoughtfully provided a form to rate the office's efficiency, which I filled out appropriately.

Property tax reform? Forget it.
From Judith Rosenfeld,

Cynthia Harrison is only 50 percent right when she states that D.C. law "forgives" property taxes for homeowners over 65; senior citizens whose income is less than $100,000 still pay half of the assessed tax. The D.C. Tax Revision Commission, which was appointed by the Mayor and the City Council didn't like the senior tax break either. It has just recommended its the elimination, favoring a means-based circuit-breaker. The Commission also wants the city to do away with the Homestead Exemption which excuses homeowners who live in their properties (Class One taxpayers) from paying tax on $30,000 of assessed value. At the present tax rate of $.96 per $100 of value, the Exemption represents a saving for these residents of $288 a year.(It is also a big nuisance. Not only do people have to be in Class One to qualify for the Homestead Exemption, but the city turns around and uses the Homestead Exemption as a prerequisite for Class One status. If the city loses your exemption renewal,or you forget to send it in, you're bopped into Class Two, lose the $288 tax break,and pay $1.54 per $100 of valuation. Trying to get out of this mess is contributory to road rage.) There's a lot more in the Commission's report,including Draconian new business taxes on professionals doing business in the city, elimination of special tax goodies for coop owners,and speedy death of the newly-instituted triennial assessment process. Certainly, these recommendations are political hot potatoes, and unwelcome in an election year. Still, they represent the work of experts appointed by the Mayor and the Council and charged with heavy responsibility for simplifying and rationalizing the city's tax system. The Washington Post has urged voters to query mayoral candidates on the Commission's proposals. So where's the debate? And what is the Council going to do? Nothing, according to Candidate Jack Evans. At a gathering in a home in the Palisades neighborhood, he stated with evident satisfaction that there would be no action in the City Council"either before the election or after the election," and that the count was already seven to five against. Does anyone out there in Storyland know who the seven are?

Speaking of Property Taxes and 'folks living alone'
Harold Goldstein,

Cynthia Harrison, makes point about forgiving property taxes for senior citizens. While I agree that, possibly, the income requirement for this relief might be looked at closely, I do not like the stated implication that somehow people living alone in houses that are maybe too big for them are somehow not as worthy as tax relief as lower income people with kids. On the other hand you can argue that childless couples have been subsidizing the educational system (be that as it may - whether or not you use it) and maybe deserve that tax relief more. Further the bit about their houses being somehow bigger than they need to be is downright insulting ... you suggest that when I get older I should somehow be morally obligated to move to a smaller house because I might have empty bedrooms? well I do live in a 4 bedroom house with my wife, have for 18 years without kids, and I resent the implication. While the income level argument has validity, please watch carefully how you word your justifications and whose feet you are verbally trodding upon.

More On Tax Policy
Cynthia Harrison

My point is that someone who chooses to live in a 4-bedroom house which has appreciated to the point where they can't pay the taxes from a substantial income can afford to pay the taxes due when the the property is conveyed by sale or bequest. For the record I live without children in a 3-bedroom house -- I wouldn't dream of suggesting that the other taxpayers of the District owe me a tax subsidy. With our mortgage deduction policy and this tax rebate, we are subsidizing the lifestyle choices of the well-to-do while we offer rent subsidies to only 25% of the poor.

Cop Bikes
Mike Hill,

I agree that a bike for use by police officers needs to be a specially equipped, top-of-the-line bike that will not only stand up to hundreds of miles of riding on rough streets, but the added stresses of being used as a police vehicle. Remember, cops are pursuing and apprehending criminals on these bikes, or at least need to be prepared to do so. I would balk at the idea that, as T J Hardman suggests, the auxiliary parts and components are being recycled [no pun intended] onto new frames. The district can barely keep its police cruisers on the road, and the infrastructure to maintain and repair their cars should be well-established. Also, didn't I see a message in this very forum last year, asking for volunteers to fix bikes for the officers at the 4th District Station? A better solution might be to hand the bikes over to City Bikes or Bikes USA after 3-4 years, for use in their various recycle-a-bike programs. Added benefits: bikes could go from cops directly to needy kids on their beats, great publicity for Metro PD.

NARPAC, Inc. Web Site: July Edition Challenges DC Candidates
Len Sullivan,

The National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital has revised its web site for July (See "What's New?" at with new headline summaries, one additional relevant web site, and new correspondence to major players in DC's future. It offers three new items: lengthy excerpts from Eleanor Holmes Norton's memo to the President outlining the remaining tasks for the Control Board; a summary of the new "whistleblower statute" from the DC Council; and a summary of the growing problems in the Prince George's school system (from the Post series)--'deja vu all over again'. July's editorial presents NARPAC, Inc.'s views of the six major issues key to DC's future (and our preferred solutions). We encourage all DC political candidates to challenge this strawman and debate their own individual convictions on: the capital's symbolism; redefining home rule; mature local democracy; professional city management and administration; long-term city finances; and expanded regional cooperation. We remain open to visits, comments, and offers to help -- and are grateful for those we have gotten. Special rates still apply for lurkers.

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.


Recommendations Needed For A Dressmaker Or Tailor
Cynthia Harrison,

I need to have a dress altered. Anyone have a good choice to recommend?

Ongoing Bank Discussion, New Spin
Julie Newman,

With so much banter about weird banks that do or don't advertise, I figured that this group really knows their banks, so I'm trying to enlist help. I just moved from Foggy Bottom to Dupont Circle, so my beloved credit union (NIHFCU) is no longer easily accessible to me -- time to find a new bank. Sigh. Thus far, I like Riggs' Convenience Plus Checking Account: unlimited check writing unlimited ATM use no fee for using another bank's ATM free home banking free visa check card no minimum balance optional savings account w/ 2.9% interest All this for a $10 monthly fee (fee waived if monthly balance kept above $2,500. Can anyone top this with another bank that is near Dupont?

Billions of Business Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean!
Carla White,

The Inter-American Development Bank will offer a seminar on July 14 on business opportunities that result from the IDB financed programs for modernization of the state and public sector reform in Latin America and the Caribbean. There is a $150 fee per participant which includes a six-month subscription to IDB Projects, the monthly magazine that carries the Bank's inventory of projects. The seminar begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Andres Bello Auditorium on the 9th floor of the IDB headquarters at 1300 New York Avenue, N.W. Those interested in attending should contact in advance Carla White (202) 623-1365, or Kathy Sanchez at (202) 623-1364.


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,

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.

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)