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July 8, 1998

Your Electronic Backfence

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Dear Neighbors: Time to resurrect a dinosaur. The HOME ALONE BUSINESS GROUP, for people with home-based businesses, returns. Our initial get together takes place on July 16 at Firehook Bakery (from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM). We will meet in Firehook's Garden (the refurbished Roma Garden). Firehook offers coffee, pastries, salads, sandwiches, beer, and wine. I guarantee it will not rain.

The group costs nothing to join. However, I do need your email address to inform you of meeting schedules and locations. We plan to meet every other week. Send me a message to if you would like to be included. Also, send this message to friends, enemies, colleagues, comrades, and contrarians who want email reminders. Firehook Bakery is located in Cleveland Park at 3411 Connecticut venue. Neighborhood parking, metered parking, and pay lots are available. The Cleveland Park Metro is only a couple of hundred feet from Firehook.

Independence got me thinking, always a dangerous occurrence. While driving through the Deep South, below Old Town, I was acutely aware of how well the confederates venerate their secessionist heroes. Not only was the traitor Jefferson Davis not shot after the (un)Civil War, his name adorns part of the main East Coast drag, US Numero Uno. Meanwhile, District residents treat its heroes like chopped liver. New York has Lincoln Center and the renovated Grant's Tomb. Lincoln has only his memorial and I don't know where Grant is venerated. Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan's name is affixed to everything that doesn't move. Here is my proposal (apart from sandblasting Reagan's name wherever it resides.) Rename 16th Street Lincoln Boulevard. It's a main artery, leads directly to the White House, and has historical ties to Lincoln. Second, let us change the name of Dulles Airport to either Lincoln or Grant. Dulles deserves some pages in a history book--no more. And renaming DC's international airport after a Union hero in the Confederate, Jim Crowe, and segregationist heartland would be a real stick in the eye--and deeply satisfying to me. Anyone want to light the torches and march with me? Cheers, Jeffrey Itell July 8, 1998

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Running at Large: Who the Deuce Are There People Anyway?
Carl Bergman,

The race for two, at large, city council seats is the orphan of the upcoming primary and general election. The media ignores them preferring the Mayor's race. Most political operatives and activists gravitate to ward races. Unless they hit upon a clever theme, or are particularly media hip - which few are -- they have no natural place to see and be seen. If there is a forum just for at large, it's news to me. Add to this, the usual mob of wannabes. There are eighteen candidates running for two at large positions on the council. Fourteen are Democrats seeking its one nomination. Why so many? For one thing, there's no Democratic incumbent. For another, the at large races seem to draw those hoping lightening will strike. Name recognition becomes everything. Few really have it. Arrington Dixon, is known, but it may not be an advantage. Others include: William H. Bennett, II, James S. Chapelle, Gary R. Feenster, Charles Gaither, Phil Mendelson, Linda Moody, Phyllis J. Outlaw, Kathryn A. Pearson-West, Don Reeves, Greg Rhett, William L. Rice, Sabrina Sojourner, Simon N. Stubbs. Each of them must collect 2,000 Democratic signatures. Some won't make the cut. Given how little there is out there, other than street signs, about each, I'm going to try and contact each and pass on my take on their experience and positions. If you can do this, please feel free. Phil Mendelson recently sent in his. Please, you're part of a at large campaign say so. Info on the other parties' candidates is also most welcome.

Frank Smith's Campaign Signs
Paul Williams,

On my way home last night, I noticed a young lad putting up Frank Smith councilman campaign posters all over my neighborhood. After stapling two back to back to a light pole, he would then unleash a massive roll of clear packing tape and wrap the sign, pole, and anything else in his path firmly to the surface. I know this is illegal, and then noticed mayoral candidate Jack Evans posters featured the same maneuver. The only ones that met the code and were properly afixed with staples only were Jim Graham's. Isn't it ironic that the two violators were on the council when the campaign poster mounting specifications were placed on the books?

Not Going To Take It Anymore
Judith Rosenfeld,

I've just unearthed a file dating back to 1992, when the refinancing of our home was held up because the D.C. Dept. of Public Works said we owed a $50 fine for littering. In fact,we had never seen the ticket; the fine had, presumably, been levied against the former owners years before. That, however, didn't let us off the hook. Blackmailed into paying up if we wanted our refinance to proceed, we wrote a check to our real estate attorney, who remitted it. Three weeks later, we appealed the case and won. Two years after that,figuring that -- by city standards -- a reasonable time had passed for action, I sent a copy of the canceled check, and the official decision, to the Bureau of Public Space Adjudication, reminding the folks down there that they owed me $50, plus interest.Result? A thunderous, reverberating silence. Well, the District has eaten my $50 and I want it back. Not only do I want it back, I want everybody else's money back, too. Given the huge budget surplus all those candidates are taking credit for, I think the time has come for us victims of bureaucratic inertia to retrieve moneys owed, and I am willing to find out how to go about it if there are enough claimants to justify a meaningful joint effort. So, fellow rebels, if the city owes you money (Let's stipulate that the debt goes back at least a year), and you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any more, get in touch.

Abandoned Cars
Joshua Kranzberg,

Is it just me or am I the only one who's noticed all the abandoned cars around the District. I'm talking about those cars folks keep in their back yards or side yards, or driveways; the ones with the tags that expired five or ten years ago. And I mean all around the District, even in so-called "nice" neighborhoods. In my neighborhood, for instance, I can't even count the number of these wrecks sitting around gathering dust. Included in our local "collection" are a Mercedes, a Lincoln, and a motor home! My kids and I like to go around looking for the one with the oldest license plate (the oldest we've found so far was last renewed about 15 years ago). As much as I enjoy the quality time with my kids, I'm beginning to get tired of seeing these things everywhere I look. They're also bound to be safety hazards, and they don't do much for property values. What I want to know is this: Is there some law in the District against having unregistered vehicles on ones property, and if so, what hapless city agency gets to enforce it? If there isn't such a law there ought to be, right?

Does Anyone Know Why The Pavement On This Intersection Is Always Wet?
Mark Eckenwiler,

Katie Mann,, doesn't say which intersection, but it made me think of 4th St./ Mass Ave/H St. NW, where a leak from a manhole cover has been giving the street a good soaking for weeks now. I just called the responsible [sic] office in DC government and spoke to a Mr. Anderson. He informs me that the valve is broken, and that they can't fix it w/o cutting of water service to some large area. For what it's worth, he also claims that the valve is on order & is supposedly arriving this week. We shall see.

Department of Public Non-Works, Part 2
Ted Gest,

Unfortunately, the "all wet" intersection that Katie Mann complains about is not identified in her post. In any case, her post reminds me of the major intersection of Military Road and 27th St., N.W., where the street sprung a leak many months ago. A steel plate was installed, which has remained seemingly untouched, with zillions of motorists trying to drive around it. I also raised the question of the seemingly endless construction around Nebraska and Connecticut Avenues, which started in early March. When I queried about it in a post in May, Kathy Patterson's office helpfully called to volunteer that it would be finished in about a month. Guess what, folks, it's now July, and there's no end in sight. I agree with the post by Mike Hill that we should be patient about street construction--it must conform with standards. But I have seen no explanation from the authorities of why this street (and many others) must be torn up for so long...where are standards?

Wet Sidewalks
Neil Schuster

The street is always wet because it is crying. Wouldn't you cry, too, if you were a city street in the District of Columbia?

Public Works Follies
Stan Wellborn, STANW@AECF.ORG

If one wants to encounter visible -- and bone-jarring -- evidence of poor planning in roadbuilding, one need only drive down Nebraska Avenue these days: Steel plates, sunken pavement, unfinished surfaces, and ominous orange spray paint marks indicating more to come. And no hardworking road crews in sight since the holes were dug many weeks ago. This is particularly ironic since just two or three years ago Nebraska Avenue was completely rebuilt down to the bedrock level, all the way from AU to Rock Creek Park, at a cost of millions, I am sure. Now, vast stretches of the road are scarred permanently until the next major resurfacing in the distant future. The problem, which is seen in streets all over DC, is that the various utility companies -- phone, gas, electrical -- do not coordinate their work with that of the public works department. This is the kind of coordination that city managers are supposed to oversee and carry out. Camille Barnett, are you listening?

Man In The Way Of Proposed Convention Center Gets Shot
Beth Solomon,

A small business owner who has resisted attempts by the D.C. government to evict him from the proposed convention center site in Shaw has been shot, according to police. Omar Douki, owner of Duke1s Pizza at 8th and N Streets, NW, was shot through the knee last week during an armed robbery at his store. Drops of blood are still visible on the kitchen walls. Douki says he was not only a victim of an armed robbery, but of criminal neglect and bureaucratic malfeasance by the D.C. government. It all started last summer when the government told Douki he had to get his pizza business off the Shaw convention center site, but could get no relocation money because his three-year-old service doesn't turn a profit. "They wanted me to disappear," he said. "I said, no." When Douki hired a lawyer, officials agreed to pay for his move. But then they forced him to gather multiple estimates from movers, construction companies, plumbers, etc., after which they hired their own estimator to tell Douki he would only get half of his projected costs. The process took over a year, during which time officials took control of the property and repeatedly threatened Douki with eviction. Meanwhile, the area deteriorated from "dangerous" to "war zone" under typical D.C. ownership. Prostitutes and drug lords are now operating out of D.C.-owned buildings on the block. This isn't the first time the D.C. government has failed to deliver on the economic miracle promised to the Shaw community in the form of the proposed convention center. Negotiations have broken down between contractor Clark Construction and labor unions, jeopardizing the possibility for apprenticeship programs that were sold to Shaw residents as a reason to support the project. A promised trade school in Shaw never materialized. 3Don1t believe the hype,² Mayoral front-runner Kevin Chavous warned at a candidate1s forum last week, refering to promises of jobs for D.C. residents by the Washington Convention Center Authority. "You can't believe anything they say," said Douki. Duke's Pizza (still in business) is at (202) 289-6666.

Greens play a major role in working to place Measure 59 on the DC ballot
Scott McLarty,

The "Yes On 59" coalition, which seeks to allow marijuana for treatment of serious illnesses, scored a major victory on Monday, July 6, when it handed in over 30,000 signatures (over 1800 petition sheets) to put Measure 59 ("Medical Marijuana") on the DC ballot. The DC Board of Elections and Ethics requires 17,000 valid signatures to put Measure 59 on the ballot on November 3, so Measure 59 is very likely to qualify. Our work is a tribute to the memory of Steve Michael of ACT UP Washington, initiator of 59, who died in May of AIDS complications. His surviving lover Wayne Turner took over the leadership. The Green Party assumed much of the chore of ballot petition signature collection, with Karen Szulgit, Kevin McCarron, and Steve Donkin each gathering thousands of names. (Stand Up For Democracy's Anise Jenkins collected the most, about 4,000.) By the last few weeks dozens of us were out in DC, sacrificing our free time, working the streets. It's a triumph for all of us -- something we accomplished on a minimum-budget grassroots level. It's an exercise in real democracy: not just petitioning One Judiciary Square or One Thomas Circle, but educating, organizing, and acting on our own behalf. Now the next battle begins. We've already drawn the wrathful opposition of the rabid fundamentalist Family Research Council, rich brat Steve Forbes, and General Barry McCaffrey, czar of our failed draconian "war on drugs" policy. We may see Congress try to override Measure 59, in which case the issue is no longer the comfort and healing of the sick, but a new assault on democracy in DC, a potential tyrannic invalidation of the direct will of the people. Vote YES on 59!

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Child-Care Recommendations
Sally Kux and David Weiner,

A job change makes it necessary for us to explore new child-care options for our 14 month-old daughter. We would be grateful for recommendations from DC Story readers on 1) child-care centers in the Dupont Circle, Embassy Row, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Van Ness, AU Park, Friendship Heights, or (our preference) Chevy Chase DC neighborhoods; or 2) full-time nannies or nanny-share arrangements.

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.

An experienced housekeeper and caregiver seeks employment and housing for herself and her 13-year old son. References provided. For further information, phone Teresa, 202-483-7474 after 5 p.m. Reena Kazmann,

Design/Build/Carpentry: 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,

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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