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August 1, 1998

Your Electronic Beach Cabana

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Dear Beach Bums: Let's talk food. Jim at the Brookville Grocery Store in Cleveland Park (and when is Jim not at Brookville) tells me that the popular Oodles of Noodles will replace the defunct Wrapworks location in Cleveland Park, located at the corner of Ordway and Connecticut. Doris and crew have not begun renovations that will turn the old Crestar Bank location into a two-story restaurant.

A reader informed me of an outfit called Cybermeals, which offers food delivery and take-out orders for restaurants close to home. I have not used the service or checked it out, so semper fi, er, caveat emptor, which means, don't sue me if you are not happy. The web address is I am told you can order food up to 90 days in advance. Cool. In November, I will certainly be hankering for a traditional turkey dinner.

It appears the engineering battalion has cleared the obstacles to the new convention center. Personally, I prefer Sam Smith's advice--skip building this inadequate facility and start planning the third inadequate one. Proponents, of course, demonstrate studies that show that it will generate an economic gain for the city. The technique used to project the economic effect is anal digital extraction. Studies conducted after construction are more telling since one can measure real data. These studies are not encouraging. The convention center will make history if it turns a profit. Virtually all convention centers are not only loss leaders, but also economic drags on their cities. Yes, the MCI Arena has created economic activity along the 7th Street corridor. However, remember, that corridor was already coming to life without that behemoth. Think of the opportunity costs for that money and property. Besides, Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis, one of the smartest folks in the city, has the un-Midas touch when it comes to economic development-everything she advocates turns to blight. Check out Georgia Avenue some day. Take another sacrosanct facility--Camden Yards in Baltimore. A great ballpark. The best. Has it spurred development in the Inner Harbor? No doubt. What's Baltimore's biggest development issue now? Too much Inner Harbor development. More importantly, has Camden Yards improved the economic life of Baltimore? Not at all. Camden Yards is a wonderful gift to Marylanders and DC residents, who do not have to carry the financial burden of the ballpark and infrastructure. Another question to ponder. If Tom Davis thought the convention center would be such an economic miracle, don't you believe it would have been built in Potomac Yards? Northern Virginia gets the best of both worlds--spillover effects of a convention center without having to foot the cost. Remember that it could have gone the other way for this one billion-dollar project. A final contrary note, to which I give great credence. I am paraphrasing Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (I hope correctly) when he points out that cities do not become great when they focus only on costs. Great cities build majestic buildings to fulfill their aspirations. I might buy that argument for the MCI Arena (with a little arm twisting) but not for the convention center, either at Mount Vernon Square, Union Station, or in Rock Creek Park. Jeffrey Itell August 1, 1998

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Total Disrespect for the Concept of "Local" Government

With all of the Post's recent attention to the egregious "riders" the House of Representatives is adding onto the DC appropriations bill, it shocks me to see that no one involved with dc.story has broached this issue. Does no one care that Representatives from Mississippi and Oklahoma are imposing the values of their home states on the people of the District through riders that will ban such things as the District using its own funds to provide needle exchange programs or abortion services? Or imposing a ban on adoption by same-sex couples? Perhaps the most egregious was the threat by Rep. Jim Moran to insert a rider that would decree certain areas on 14th street be "official" pick-up spots for Virginia commuters - regardless of whatever traffic problems and policing issues they may cause. Residents of the District long ago decided such policies as allowing gays basic civil rights and that the City health authorities should attempt to stem the spread of HIV among injection drug users by implementing a needle exchange program - is no one alarmed to see these rights being stripped away by a body in which we have no representation through a method of tacking extraneous provisions onto our funding bill? The House shows no shame when it uses this subversive method to pass provisions its members know would never be passed as stand-alone pieces of legislation. Still, dc.story readers seem to be so beaten down by Congressional usurpation of local authority that we do not even respond. And a legal question: given the current Control Board / weak Mayor structure of DC government, if such riders are passed, is there any recourse through the use of petitions and referendums to have them overturned? Or, are we simply destined to live under the value systems of the elected officials from Mississippi and Oklahoma in perpetuity? Finally, a note on comity. On today's dc.story, I noticed two postings that disturbed me in their tone. I am fairly new to dc.story, and thus am not aware if there are any "ground rules" but it seems to me that in order to continue to foster an open an honest exchange of ideas, we need to be respectful and polite to one another when writing and responding to one another's postings. That being said, I would like to request that members of our virtual community self-impose some limits and attempt to avoid expressions like "put up or shut up" and ascribing "points" to hitting baby carriages, both of which appeared in today's issue. Perhaps I am too "sensitive", but both of these comments jumped out at me and made me blanche.

Ped Regs
Cheryl Fox,

In regard to Michelle Treistman's posting about out-of-towners not knowing the rules for crossing the street, perhaps Ms. Treistman should read her copy of the DC Driver's Manual. Any pedestrian, baby or no, in any crosswalk, crossing against or with the light, _always_ has the right of way. In other words, if a car driver and a pedestrian meet in an intersection, the pedestrian has the right of way. **** The Right To Speak For Oneself Scott McLarty, Carl Bergman calls it "local discipline" (DC Story, July 18), but since when does representative democracy mean that we require citizens to cease pressing their grievances because City Council has already made a decision? Beth Solomon and the Shaw Coalition have every right (indeed, every obligation) to complain to members of Congress, and anyone else, that the Convention Center will waste over a billion in DC taxpayers' money, that the structure will displace residents and small businesses for blocks around it, etc. They maintain that right whether or not decisions have been made, even whether or not ground has been broken for the facility. Excuse me, Ms Norton, home rule does NOT mean that one swears allegiance, obedience, and acquiescence to DC officials. Beth Solomon and the Shaw Coalition have correctly recognized that we really suffer TWO assaults on democracy in DC. The first assault, of course, is our lack of representation in Congress combined with the recent takeover (the Financial Control Board, the 1997 DC Revitalization Act, Congress's attempts to force Republican policies on DC). The second assault is the extent to which our own local elected officials have been bought off by major corporate and suburban interests: the Board of Trade; Marriott CEO Terrence Golden (whom Council named to the Washington Convention Center Authority); the suburban hotel and restaurant industry; contractors and developers; etc. These folks hire lobbyists, lawyers, and PR firms; they advertise; they leverage jobs; they negotiate deals (as Mr Bergman ironically says) "behind closed doors." They dump big money into campaign and party coffers -- read the campaign contributor lists in the Campaign Finance Office. Imagine the guffaws if Delegate Norton scolded Terrence Golden or Abe Pollin about meeting with Congress members! If private individuals like Beth Solomon pursue every means to petition and protest on their own behalf, they deserve our respect, not lectures on home rule "discipline." Democracy is the right of people to speak on their own behalf, or it is nothing.

Subject: Sales Tax Collection at Rodman's Drugstore
Bill Menczer, William.Menczer@FTA.DOT.GOV

For at least a year, perhaps longer, Rodman's Drugstore, located at 5100 Wisconsin Avenue, NW has been charging what it calls a "snack tax" on candy bars and other snack foods. This "tax" is assessed by Rodman's at 10%. The sales tax in DC is 5.75%; restaurants charge 10% tax on prepared meals. According to Tom Kerwin, Supervisory Tax Auditor at the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, there is no such thing as a "snack tax" and Rodman's should be charging 5.75% on all of its non-food items. The manager at Rodman's insists that there is an "immediate consumption" tax of 10% on all snack foods and drinks. Mr. Kerwin said they could charge 10% if they, for example, were serving sandwiches or hot dogs, and agreed to contact Rodman's to end this inappropriate assessment. DC will likely initiate an audit to determine how much money has been improperly collected. If any readers shop at Rodman's and incur this improper tax, quote Mr. Kerwin and demand a refund. If you have any old receipts, demand a refund for those also. Perhaps we should consider a civil suit/class action suit on behalf of Rodman customers to recover the thousands of dollars collected at this inflated rate.

Grind Stone
Francie Kranzberg,

Speaking of signs...recently in my upper 16th St. NW neighborhood there have appeared numerous signs sporting the words "Grind Stone" along with a rather ghoulish picture. These are small (8 1/2 x 11) self-stick signs stuck on lampposts, street signs, and anywhere else they will adhere. Does anyone know what this means?

Recycling Clarification
Steve Donkin,

Evelyn Wright mentioned three locations for weekly recycling drop-off that supposedly continue to be operated by Thumbs Up. Some clarification is in order. I can't speak to the status of two of the sites mentioned; however, being a volunteer at the Bancroft School site (18th and Newton, NW), I can say that it does indeed continue to operate, thanks to volunteers from the Green Party of DC. Newspaper, cardboard, aluminum cans, bi-metal cans, plastic, glass, and scrap paper (NO magazines or telephone books please!) are accepted from 9 am to noon every Saturday. Donations are accepted to cover the costs of renting the truck only. We usually just break even, with the Green Party committed to cover any shortfall in the cost. Since there are no extra proceeds from this operation, no organization is making any money from this effort. We do this simply because we believe in the importance of maintaining recycling in the District - a belief our current elected leaders apparently don't share. Hopefully our government will someday return to the 1990s and restore this most essential of public services so that citizens won't have to bear the burden of doing DPW's work for them.

Purse Snatching
Janet Dodd,

Last night at 12:45, my next-door neighbor, a woman who works a late shift, pulled up in front of her house and noticed another car also pulling up. She didn't think much of it. When she opened her car door, a man in a ski mask jumped out of the other car and grabbed her purse. Her screams woke us; luckily our windows were open. My husband immediately ran outside, and I phoned the police, but the thief was already gone. We brought her into our house and calmed her down and waited with her for the police (who came within 10 minutes, and 911 was answered on the very first ring). This exact same thing happened to another of my neighbors about 3 years ago, but it was around 10 o'clock. So, women, if you're driving alone at night, you need to be checking to see if a car is following you. Always lock your car doors. If a car pulls up behind you, or in front of you, and you don't immediately recognize it as a neighbor's, drive around the block and see what happens. If you believe you're being followed, drive to the police station. I guess.

Candy Scam Kids
John Landis Griffiths,

I haven't seen any kids "scamming" people by selling them candy in my neighborhood - all the kids I encounter selling candy are fundraising for their church/softball team/basketball team/etc... and have flyers with them explaining what they're doing and providing the telephone number and address of their pastor/coach/advisor. What were these children you busted doing?

District Cablevision
Phil Greene,

On the subject of District Cablevision's recent channel survey, there is the issue of Channel 13, the City Council channel. I believe this would be an even more entertaining program if they produced this as a joint venture with the characters from Mystery Science Theater 3000. You know, have Crow, Tom Servo and the others offering running commentary on the proceedings. I can see their silhouettes now, goofing on the Extreme Close Ups offered by the production crew (NostrilCam), the inane testimony, the posturing-when-not-napping council members (except, of course, for Kathy Patterson), etc. If they won't give us Comedy Central, why not throw us a bone of the home grown variety? Now, that would maximize revenues.

Prostitution Again
Leslie Miles,

Art, please take a chill pill. The new prostitution statute criminalizes beckoning, repeatedly going up to cars or pedestrians. THAT is the reason the new emergency statute makes it a crime to ask everyone you meet on the street to have sex with you, not the details of what is discussed. I did not say that the new statute changes the definition of prostitution. Frankly, I found your ramble about Jack Evans and his wife hard to follow and did not get your point. As for money, what I said was that money has to be involved. The police prefer to have money offered (shown) to bust a john. They must have money requested to bust a hooker. This is the necessary proof to establish the element of the offense, which Art concedes is sex "for a fee" . Is this really so difficult to understand? I repeat my point-- until the passage of the emergency bill, the police had to conduct undercover operations (called reversals) to bust johns and hookers because money is an element of the offense and without that element being satisfied there can be no arrest. No cop in a squad car could possibly be present to hear the money element being satisfied. That is why the new law is such a step forward and gives the police a huge new tool, despite the way in which the Council gutted the area known for prostitution, behaving like a prostitute and dressed with exposed buttocks or genitals). I repeat-- money is an element of the offense of prostitution, without undercover operations that element cannot be established, and the new law (based on the laws common in other cities) criminalizes beckoning in a way that will enable uniformed officers to arrest prostitutes. I hope that this is the end of this discussion, which I am sure is of little interest to most readers, who are mainly concerned with whether the new law is a reasonable means of coping with a crime that turns our downtown into an open-air brothel. I have put up, Art. Now let's please shutoriginal bill (removing language allowing the arrest of people found in an up, to respond to your request.

Home Sweet Home: Signs, Sins, And Slugs
Mark David Richards,

Since we all have so much to say but can't find enough places to say it, we should get Dr. Barnett to consider putting a few kiosks in every neighborhood. Kiosk building... a new summer jobs program... make them in the shape of a jackhammer, painted red (for debt) with a clenched fist mounted on top--half could be Barry monuments, the other Boss Shepherd monuments (a hero for each century). As for the home rule sin committed by anti-convention center activists, I suppose this sin would be committed less if Congress didn't have the authority to meddle in local issues, even when there is no federal interest. People will always go to whomever has the power. We are way past due in encouraging Congress to develop a means test. I doubt our police chief's attempt to enforce the law on slug lines and our decision to use some of our local tax money to fund our locally elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissions would be considered crimes that require Congressional intervention. Until that structural problem is solved, Mr. Taylor and all the other Congressmen and women on the Hill shouldn't be surprised or find it ironic to hear from suburban VA, MD, and DC businesses, and even residents too. They should, in fact, be more surprised that we're such a docile bunch that we continue to allow it. And yep, it's summer, tourists are here in full force, and it takes longer to get anywhere because they don't know to stand to the right on the metro escalators. But it provides free entertainment every day. I heard one woman say to another as they walked past a protest outside the Chinese embassy "Now THAT'S something we don't do back in Idaho." I've also had several tourists tell me "I thought this place was a lot worse than it is." Hummm... wonder who gave them that impression. Here's a thought--maybe we should turn this place over to Disneyworld and let them create "The American Dream." We'd have to give up wine and eye liner, but all the trash would be sucked up by underground vacuums and cars and hookers would be kept in Virginia and Maryland. And since it would be perfect, we would have the right to vote. Ahhh, there really is no place like home. But a nice trip to South Beach would be nice about now...

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.


Can anyone recommend a really good French language teacher, preferably one who uses the "French in Action" method? Evan Roth,

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,

Thursday, 20 August 1998 7:30 p.m. Lecture National Zoo Education Building. Enter at Connecticut Ave. Park in Lot A. Free, but RSVP by calling (202) 673-4801 or e-mailing to David Steward, a veterinarian who has worked at the Dingo Sanctuary in Bargo, Australia for sixteen years, presents Dingo Days: Working with Australia's Wild Dogs. While aboriginal peoples in Australia have opened their hearts to this wild canine that roamed the continent "down under" for at least six millennia, Australian sheep farmers have viewed it as an enemy that destroys their livelihood. In his slide-illustrated presentation, Steward explores the history, ecology, biology, and behavior of dingoes. He also talks about his work to educate the public and to provide care for the Dingo Sanctuary's residents.

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,

Rejuvenate Your Yard
Philip Walker, Jr.,

Don't spend the rest of your summer stressed about your yard! Let Pete maximize your enjoyment of your outdoor living space via watering systems, new plantings, hardscapes/rock gardens, outdoor lighting, water gardens/waterfalls, expert maintenance/clean up. Experienced in variety of projects/settings, from small town house gardens to developing a 65-acre nursery. Many satisfied D.C. Story readers as clients.

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.

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

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