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July 22, 1998

Your Air-Conditioned 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: On August 5, dc.story kicks off what we hope will be a monthly forum and get together on DC issues. The Georgetown Fresh Fields at 2323 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (333-5393) has generously donated their space for these events. This free event takes place from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM. Free underground parking is available. Park on levels 2 and 3 for extended time. Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson will be the featured speaker. Patterson's talk will focus on her work chairing the city's Government Operations Committee, which oversees numerous agencies. Patterson has frequently contributed to dc.story and many readers have expressed interest in meeting her. Your suggestions for other speakers are being considered and, of course, more sugestions are welcome. Fresh Fields will offer food samples. Sample Odwalla juice -- as fresh as it gets! Sample other Fresh Fields tasties -- veggies and dip, organic pretzels and mustard, and their own wonderful bread dipping oil with organic baguettes. Keep in mind that these are just samples, so quantity is limited -- please come early! Complete dinners are available for purchase in the prepared food section. Your anal retentive moderator wants to determine how many people plan to attend. Please send an email message to with the word "fresh" in the subject line. ---- Our city faces important elections this year-ones that will determine our future. Even with the mayor's position up for grabs, turnout is expected to be low in the city. We argue for democracy but don't do a very good job of practicing it. Registration in the District is simple but you must register 30 days before an election. The primary elections take place on September 15 so you have little more than three weeks to register. The web site of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics can provide you simple and valuable information for registering. Check them out at ---- Now for some thoughts about email proliferation. How many times (today) have you received an anonymous message warning you of a fatal virus with consequences worse than Deep Impact or Armageddon? Or how many times did you receive the list of Marian Barry quotations-which Steve Twomey of the Washington Post showed to be fallacious? (Yup, I was guilty of passing on the list.) Here is my suggestion to both reduce email and improve the validity of information you receive on the Internet. Do not forward any unsigned email. If someone is not willing to stand behind their writing, then there is probably something fishy about what they wrote. That is the main reason I require all dc.story submissions to require a name and email address. It forces you to take responsibility for what you write-and consequently improves the validity of submissions. ---- About a year ago, I received complaints that several subscribers of dc.story had been added to ThePartyDigest email list without their permission. I deleted members of that organization from the dc.story subscriber list, but it is difficult to tell if all aliases have been culled. Recently I've been getting new messages from my loyal readers that this is happening again. Please let me know if this is the case, and I will do what I can to set things right with the world. Jeffrey Itell July 22, 1998

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WIN is Making a Difference in DC's Mayoral Race
Ron Eberhardt,

There is something more to DC's upcoming mayoral campaign then Marion Barry's absence. Monday night WIN - the Washington Interfaith Network - crammed nearly a thousand delegates into the Asbury United Methodist Church in Downtown Washington and brought with them the signatures of 18,000+ District Voters who seek absolute commitments from DC's mayoral candidates on a five- point agenda. Candidates Harold Brazil, Kevin Chavous, Jack Evans and Anthony Williams accepted invitations from WIN to appear and participate in the forum. WIN was founded in 1996 and represents a multitude of races, religions and every ward and is non-partisan. Candidates were asked to publicly commit to implement WIN's agenda in public safety, education, homeownership and jobs and a return to Home Rule. WIN's specific agenda is to: (1) Return 900 police officers from administrative jobs to foot and bike patrol in neighborhoods and have an outside audit of the police department's crime statistics; (2) Create a $30 million annual dedicated fund to support after-school and youth programs citywide and allocate $3 million from DC funds to support 10 WIN after-school programs in DC public schools; (3) Provide WIN with free land and $25 million in public subsidy to build 1,000 Nehamia homes for sale to persons earning $20-$45,000; (4) Convene a wage development and jobs creation summit which includes WIN, labor, business, government and education to develop living wage jobs ($8-$11/hr + benefits) and codify that in an ordinance covering private businesses which have contracts with the city and projects which receive $100,000 or more in public subsidies; and (5) A pledge from candidates to be accountable to District residents and work to have Congress restore home rule for DC. All of the provisions have very short implementation deadlines Anthony Williams and Jack Evans were 100% across the board in committing to WIN's agenda. Councilmembers Harold Brazil and Kevin Chavous were less clear on their commitments with Chavous waffling on the 900 police officer re- assignments and the $25 million for the homeownership provision. Brazil would not commit to codifying the living wage ordinance. The bow-tied Williams won audiance and applause response with Chavous a close second. Brazil, if elected, might adopt Marion Barry's always late arrival schedule as he arrived at the forum 45 minutes after his counterparts.

Mendelson's Requiem
Philip Murphy,

I've never cared much for Phil Mendelson's political beliefs but I must say I sympathize with his earnest effort to inject some original thought into DC' ruling party politburo. There are few places on earth as inhospitable to entrepreneurs as the District yet Mendelson's attempt simply to discuss easing the tax burden on businesses is treated by the local cadre as blasphemy. His meager proposals were even labeled "pro-business." This, of course, is a vicious epithet by DC standards. By his tone I could almost hear Mendelson's mind opening -- "I'm proud to be a Democrat, but . . ." It's got to be tough for a smart guy like Phil to be a Democrat in DC. Without any accomplishments to show after dominating the political debate for 15 years and without any competition for new ideas, the DC Democrats are left to whine about totally inconsequential issues like statehood and parking enforcement. But dare to question authority about the ruling junta's hostility to capitalism, its poisonous obsession with race, its inability to consider any idea conceivably thought by a Republican and you get the door slammed in your face. I feel sorry for Phil. He's a liberal who just got mugged. But therein lies hope.

Where Does Jack Evans Really Stand on Nuisance Properties?
Nike Keenan,

It depends on where he's standing. If he's standing before a bunch of community activist types, as at last Wednesday's Sierra Club Mayoral forum, he is a staunch defender of higher tax rates for vacant and abandonned properties. If he's standing before the people who bankroll his campaign, as he was later last week at a Chamber of Commerce get-together, he favors tax "fairness" -- a single tax rate for all non-residential property in the District, which would include those same vacant and abandonned properties. Given Evans' history of selling out his constituents to business interests, it's not hard to guess which way he's really leaning. At the Sierra Club forum the seven announced candidates were asked to prepare written answers to a series of questions. Interestingly, all seven favor curside recycling, a tree in every tree-box, and higher tax rates for vacant and abandonned properties. So however the mayor's race ends up, expect to see all of those things _real_ soon now...

Barry'S Florida Connections
Marcia Gelbart,

From The Palm Beach Post, 7/20/98 "Black men need to be "prophets, priests, providers and protectors," Washington Mayor Marion Barry told a Riviera Beach congregation Sunday. "We need black men to try and stop the killing of black men by other black men on the streets of our cities," Barry told the Rev. Thomas Masters' congregation at the New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. "We need men who will go up against giants, like David. We need men who have the missionary zeal of Paul." He was speaking on the theme of Black Men Making a Difference. Barry, who served prison time for a drug conviction, said the black community needs more men like him and Masters "who, in spite of difficulties, keep on keeping on _ who will stand, in spite of it all." Masters, who is Barry's brother-in-law, recently was found liable in civil court for allegedly raping a retarded boy. He was not charged criminally in the case."

What's in a Name?"
Dorothy Persiflage (

Mr. Auerbach has done a wonderful thing and raised a marvellous question for us all: what to name after our current mayor? Ms. Persiflage would suggest that Jefffrey run something of a contest, with the ten best nominations to be sent to those burghers from the District -- not to be confused with Calais -- who pretend to run things around here. Wouldn't that just be great fun! Ms. Persiflage will start the ball rolling, as it were, by nominating a modestly-sized pothole on 19th Street, N.W., south of Pennsylvania Avenue. Now how, one might reasonably ask, can we properly instruct future generations and at the same time appropriately immortalize our mayor with the evanescence of a D.C. pothole? Well, first, Ms. Persiflage must insist, from long personal experience, that evanescent potholes -- at least in the District -- constitute what Ms. Cotton, (her Latin teacher and strict English grammarian), would absolutely describe as a plural oxymoron. One day sometime in the next century, however, that pothole, together with its many relatives, may actually be filled in with something-or-other, and its memory will then slip into the same nothingness as its predecessors on the Via Appia and other ancient roadways. So Ms. Persiflage proposes the following to erect, as it were, an appropriate and enduring monument to the mayor: Let's make a concrete cast of the pothole, and then carefully break the roadway around it to remove a perfect cast. This should then be uprighted, mounted on a suitable durable base (perhaps at the corner of 19th and Pennsylvania Avenues, N.W.), inscribed with an accurate quote from the mayor (may Ms. P. be so bold as to recommend the abbreviated "Get Over It!" although Jeffrey may opt for a separate contest for the defining quote), and then, of course, dedicate it with the usual speeches, campaign signs, self-congratulatory puffery, music, and the sine qua non -- ethnic food. Ms. Persiflage hopes sincerely that she hasn't been too forward in making this recommendation for which she openly confesses she has delicious private thoughts.

Whose Finger is on the Button at Channel 7?
Ron Eberhardt,

Can anyone tell us who it is that has his or her finger on the "We interrupt this program to being you a news bulletin" button at Channel 7? It must be a nervous nelly type who, thank god, is not in charge of the early warning system at the Pentagon! What I'm referring to, of course, is the astronomical number of times annually that our ABC affiliate interrupts regular broadcasting for news that Washington cannot wait for. The latest imprudence was Tuesday night when at 9:15 p.m. Jeff Gilbert, the lead weatherman, interrupted network broadcasting and appeared on our screens for a weather bulletin to tell us what was NOT happening. Gilbert said he was there to tell us that a cell of passing thunderstorms was over as if we couldn't look out the window and know that presuming that anyone was even watching last ranked ABC anyway. Gilbert actually said he was on to give the all clear to what had been an ordinary thunderstorm. He also lengthened his non-news bulletin by showing us urgent film from Rock Creek Park where some trees had fallen. So? One fell in my backyard too, however, it didn't warrant news coverage. This has happened with great frequency at Channel 7 over the past year - I can only suppose in search of ratings. They even once interrupted network programming, during sweeps week, 20 minutes before the 11 p.m. news to give us more non-news. It is very annoying and sophmoric. You guys over there, get a grip.

Art Spitzer,

Considering that Leslie Miles has been participating in a Task Force that Jack Evans has convened on this issue, she is surprisingly misinformed. She states that DC law "requires money to change hands for an arrest to be made." That is simply not true. DC Code section 22-2701 makes it a crime to "invite, entice, persuade, or address for the purpose of inviting, enticing, or persuading any person or persons in the District of Columbia for the purpose of prostitution." The typical arrest and conviction for soliciting for prostitution in DC involves nothing more than a conversation between a police officer and a prostitute, or between a police officer and a john. One can only wonder who has been feeding Ms. Miles this misinformation, and why?

Traffic, Prostitutes, Etc.
John Whiteside,

My observations driving through the Logan Circle area: when the police aren't blocking traffic, it takes about three minutes to drive through, and there are prostitutes around. When the police are driving through, there's total gridlock (even at 11 PM on a Saturday night), and the prostitutes are a few blocks over. If anyone thinks relocating the prostitutes and creating a traffic jam is doing anything to actually stop prostitution, they're naive. It's about appeasing the loudest homeowners. And the reader who insists that blocking streets doesn't cause traffic problems has no idea what she's talking about. Or was I just imagining that I was stuck in a line of cars that didn't move?

A Bad Police Story
Valerie Kenyon Gaffney,

For every heartwarming story about DC cops, there's at least one other story which tells only of their incompetence: Friday night, about 9:15 PM, while travelling west on M St between 23rd and 24th, a pick-up truck was observed travelling east on M St. For those of you unfamiliar with this area, M St is decidedly one way, west bound. Apparently, the DC cop in the patrol car travelling east bound in the lane adjacent to me is as unfamiliar with this area as the truck driver, since no notice was taken of the truck travelling the wrong way on a one way street. In fact, despite vehicles taking every precaution to avoid a head on collision with the truck, the cop obliviously continued west to 25th, turned right and disappeared into the night. I'm so glad those two neighborhood cops observed Mr. Goldstein's open deck door. If only they were as observant while driving the streets of our fair city!

Parking Unenforcement
Sharon Cochran,

On Sunday mornings in the Staunton and Lincoln Park areas, we have a huge problem with illegal double parking by church goers. We can get no enforcement from the MDP 5th district police. Are other areas of the city having this problem ? We have been told at PSA meetings that this is the price for living in the city. There ia a rumor that patrol officers were told not to ticket even double parked cars that are blocking folks in.

Parking Issues contd.
Joan Eisenstodt

Know we continue to look at the parking issues in District in residential n'hoods. Like the idea of parking "snitches" -- I'd do it even if there were no reward! But what I need 'splained to me again is why the District doesn't restrict parking to zone permit holders on weekends too. We pay high taxes, pay for a permit, and have to fight for a parking space w/in 5 blocks of where we live on weekends. Sometimes, we're not even that "lucky". Today, more rental units went on the market on our Cap. Hill block .. which means more cars w/ which to contend. I empathize/sympathize w/ those who have household help, contractors, and others who need parking during the week -- have to deal w/ that too. Perhaps it would be good (and a revenue source) for us to be able to purchase temp. zone parking permits.

Parking Enforcement
Victor Chudowsky,

I'm intrigued by Calvin Eigtsi's post on lack of parking enforcement in Chevy Chase. From what I've seen and experienced, one of the few well-functioning parts of DC government is parking enforcement, given it is a big source of revenue. The Post wrote the average PE officer writes a huge number of tickets a day. I live in Woodley Park and they ticket here like mad - mostly for parking too close to a stop sign. Many an out-of-town zoo-goer returns, kids in tow, to find a "souvenir" on his windshield. It's a rip-off because nobody from out of town knows the distance you are supposed to park from a stop sign - it is not posted anywhere (hell, I live here and I don't even know - 8 ft? 10 ft? Someone throw me a bone!) One funny story though - I was walking back to my house with my dog when I come across one of those little funny parking enforcement cars, engine running, with the "meter maid" sleeping inside. Seat back, radio on, engine running, etc. Didn't wake up when I knocked on the window (thought he might be ill). I'm sick of these guys constantly ticketing my neighborhood, so I call up parking enforcement and tell them there's one of their guys sleeping in front of my house. Person on the other line says "yeah, OK" and hangs up.

A Billion Dollar Train Set
Larry Seftor,

In Sunday's Post Metro general manager Richard A. White responded to criticism about the increasing failure of Metro trains to run on time. In his disingenuous reply, Mr. White claimed that any train that is less than four minutes late is, indeed, on-time. This is something like my telling a policeman who stops me for speeding that my personal standard for speeding is 30 miles an hour over the limit. Unfortunately, I don't get to set the standards for the police and, similarly, Mr. White doesn't get to set the standards for Metro service. The fact is that Metro has schedules for each train (although only night and weekend schedules seem to be published these days), and to the extent those trains are late, Metro fails its riders. To explain Metro's increasing lapses, Mr. White notes that the system is 22 years old. The implication is that the billions of dollars that went into building the Metro rail system were really only good for 22 years or so. I, on the other hand, believe that the system was built for ongoing use. I expect that the moving/wearing parts on each train (wheels, brakes, axles, motors, etc.) are replaced regularly. I also expect that, knowing that the rolling stock does not last forever, Metro management, from day one, had a plan in process for replacing components (including cars) as needed. If that is not true, then we need more than the replacement of a few cars, we need the replacement of a management team that treats a billion dollar resource with the same lack of foresight that a child treats a set of toy trains.

Check It Out
Ed T. Barron,

If you have desire to see the inside of the MCI Arena, then you ought to take advantage of the bargain prices to see the Mystics (the Washington area's women's NBA basketball team). The team is not very good but they draw big crowds of enthusiastic fans (many of them families who can afford to bring their kids to see a professional sports event). We sat in the cheap seats (8 bucks) that are $65 to see the Bullets....oops Wizards. The Arena is a real treat with excellent sight lines and lively entertainment at time outs and half times. A great place to be on a hot day. Check it out.

[Ed, I'm glad you like the Arena that my business taxes are helping to finance...and I can't afford to attend. Wait until the Convention Center is built. Then we can all grumble. Jeffrey]

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Room Wanted
Elizabeth Layton,

A historian from Warsaw with a fellowship at the Holocaust Museum for the month of September would like to live with/rent from a DC family in order to brush up his English. Suggestions? More information? Contact Olga at

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Free To Good Home: Window Air Conditioners
Nike Keenan,

I am trying to rid myself of three older but quite functional window unit air conditioners. I would prefer to give them to a non-profit, but failing that they go to anyone who can pick them up. One is a standard 110-volt unit that can cool a single room. The other two are monsters -- 220-volt powered, the size of small refrigerators, they cool a much larger area. I can't lift them by myself. Email me if interested.

If anyone knows of a yoga teacher to teach an early morning yoga class outdoors in Kalorama Park one to three times per week please send me an email message. I am also looking for people to fill the class. If you are interested in taking an early morning yoga class and if you live in the Kalorama area of Adams Morgan, please also e-mail me. I will contact everyone who responds to give them full details. Virginia Johnson,

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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 pave the moderator's street, write to

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

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