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August 30, 1998

Deep Thoughts by themail

Deep Thoughts by themail, August 30, 1998

Just in time for making final decisions about the primary election, themail arrives with issues galore to ponder: what's the story about Tony Williams, more on UDC and rent control, privatizing prisons, suing over Convention Center taxes, making DPW respond, health care issues, and — most important of all — comfortable seats in movie theaters. Just where do the candidates stand on pesto-flavored popcorn at the movies?

Three comments on things that aren't in this issue. First, even though I've begged, nobody done wrote nothing about no candidates for the at-large Councilmember seats. Are we apathetic? (Who cares?) Second, everybody got angry about a message in the last issue in which one person wrote about another person. The person who wrote the message didn't intend for it to be sent to the entire list, and was angry that it was posted; the person who was written about didn't appreciate the comment, and was angry that it was posted; everybody has apologized to everybody else (well, close enough); and the names and all correspondence along this line are being withheld so that, with any luck, everybody will forget all about it. Third, Seth Morris and Patty Friedman asked why, if no one objected to having classified ads, I have limited commercial ads so that each can run only once a month. The reason is that I want to keep themail to a reasonable length. Look at how long this mailing is. Almost a third of it is classified ads. If every commercial ad were repeated in every issue, themail would soon have to be sent at a package rate, rather than by first-class E-mail.

Finally, another plug for the DCWatch site. DCWatch has agreed to be a "content partner" with American Online, and to provide coverage of the local elections for AOL's Digital City. For the most complete on-line coverage of all the candidates in the primary and general elections, go to

Gary Imhoff


Anthony Williams' track record/accomplishments
Harold Goldstein,

I keep reading here about the many accomplishments of Anthony Williams. Perhaps someone can tell me just what HE has been able to accomplish that's so impressive when you look at what he had. He had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted without having to worry about political consequences. He had millions and millions to spend on consultants.

Heck, if a 10 year old kid had that much money he could have hired the consultants, listened to them and balanced the budget. I see Anthony Williams as a potentially competent (since it hasn't been proved otherwise) accountant without any real proven leadership ability or political decision making record. I seem to remember a not too distant female Mayor about whom people were exalting. She too had no real
proven leadership ability and it showed.


Quandry over the mayor's race
Leila Afzal,

I am still in a quandary, I don't know for whom I should cast my vote in the upcoming primary. I thought I would vote for Williams, but I have heard him speak on the radio and in debates. I am afraid I am terribly
disappointed. I believe he did an excellent job as CFO, but I see nothing that gives me comfort that he will do well as Mayor. (M. Jordan is a great basketball player, but was mediocre as a baseball player. Not all talent translates into other arenas.) Williams' answers are unclear and have no vision. He shows no coherent plan for the city. He seems to have little understanding on how to fix problems that are not just fiscal. I would love to read posts from supporters of Williams and the other candidates on why you support a specific candidate.


The UDC solution
Ron Eberhardt,

The solution to UDC's woeful mismanagement and lack of meaningful courses that meet real job needs is to close the school. But, that is not all. The multi-million dollar annual appropriation for UDC from both the District and Federal budgets would be set aside in an education trust fund. DC, assisted by the federal department of education, would arrange for waiver of out-of-state fees for qualified District residents to attend state supported public institutions in Virginia and Maryland. The trust funds would pay for that education while continuing the same pro-rated share of federal student-aid funds for DC students who would pay no more then the cost of attending UDC. At the same time, the District would sell the upper Northwest campus and buildings to create a high-tech service zone in the city. This would provide good-paying jobs for the now-educated DC college students who took worthwhile and credible courses from the colleges and universities in nearby Virginia and Maryland.

District students seeking higher education would receive a better education; taxpayers would get more for their money; the District would start to compete with Virginia and Maryland for the never-ending growth in high tech markets and DC would collect corporate taxes from the newly arrived high tech firms. The District would also collect payroll taxes from the new employees who hopefully would be DC residents and homeowners also paying taxes! Presto. Fixed! Sounds like a creative effort for our next Mayor Anthony Williams!


Jeff Itell is right about rent control
Mary Lou Fahey,

Jeff is right about the dinosaur nature of the District's rent control laws. Another reason why rental property is scarce is that DC has the most restrictive (or expansive, depending upon your viewpoint) tenants' rights laws in the country. (For example, you are entitled to a jury trial on an eviction in DC — almost unheard of in other jurisdictions.)

Our tenant in a rental property in Mount Pleasant stopped paying rent in April 1997. We had to sell the house in order to get rid of her and it still took us 8 months. She finally left in July 1998, after we forgave $15,000 in back rent. Then we had to haul over 2,000 pounds of trash out of the house. (She was waiting for recycling to come back.) One more rental property off the books. We are buying again, but this time it is in Bethesda. Maryland's laws are much saner.


The prison industrial complex — D.C style
John Capozzi,

The complex issue of how to reduce crime in the District is now entering a critical phase, mostly without input of D.C. citizens. Lobbyists hired by private prison corporations called Correctional Corp. of America (CCA) and Wakenhut seem to have duped the District's leadership to accept privatizing most of our prisons. That is no surprise considering that former council members, Betty Ann Kane, Eddye Whittington, John Ray and others all lobby for CCA or Wakenhut. Also, our former Head of Corrections and others who worked for the D.C. Department of Corrections now work for CCA and Wackenhut as well.

The story of the disaster in the Ohio CCA private jail, includes murders, stabbing, escapes and prisoner abuse, is an indication of where privatization is going if this trend is not reversed. This issue is one that we should be debating in themail, to see how all mayoral and council candidates stand on this issue, because the lives of all citizens are touched by crime and because such a huge amount of public dollars are involved.


Convention Center gets class (action)
Beth Solomon and Debby Hanrahan,

They said it was a done deal. Councilmember Jack Evans said "Don't talk about it." Since December, 1996, D.C. residents and small businesses have held off the effort to build a new convention center at Mt. Vernon Square, a horrendous project that would result in the destruction of a historic Black neighborhood in exchange for a wasteful, polluting drain on our budget: a facility with no room to expand and no parking — a "billion-dollar mistake," as a Washington Post report described it.

Now a serious oversight by the D.C. government may provide an opportunity to stop the Mt. Vernon convention center once and for all. The D.C. government illegally collected at least $55 million in taxes from all D.C. business, restaurant patrons and hotel visitors. Residents and small businesses are now mounting a class-action suit to return the unauthorized taxes to their rightful owners. Anyone who bought a meal, a drink or a cup of coffee since September 1996 is due for a refund, and D.C. taxpayers have a chance to plug a billion-dollar drain on the budget which could reduce school, police and other spending for the next 30 years. [Plug for the website: to see the lawyer's letter on the class action complaint, go to ]


Can anyone make DPW respond?
David Wong,

What a pleasant surprise to come home this week to see that three large potholes on my street actually paved and black topped. I don't know who called it in, but thanks to the caller and DPW. I live around the corner of 44th and Harrison street which has an elevated bump/barrier requiring cars to detour. This is a danger zone because all the directional signs and reflectors warning people has been destroyed by cars bumping and cruising them. I and my neighbors have called the DPW, so has Kathy Patterson, but nothing has been done in four months.

Now if only we can enlist the help of the person who called to have the potholes filled...... Any suggestions otherwise?


Health care issues in DC
Muriel Nellis,

There are a couple of issues that deserve some attention from dcwatchers and which I have not seen given any coverage here. For example, how can we continue to ignore the already burdensome and unequal costs of health care? Not only is it now a unique problem for DC residents to secure medical advice/attention, but it is even more costly to ACT on that advice. In DC — unlike VA — all medications, both prescription & over-the-counter are taxed! (As though most aren't overpriced enough).
And how about food — proper nutrition? Why can't the basic food groups remain untaxed?

As long as we're raising the voice of the people for a better bunch of city leaders, how about raising some quality-of-life, survival issues for their consideration and action?


Movie megalopolis
Jeffrey Itell,

Dan Parker, don't worry about the demise of downtown cinema. D.C. is only taking a small step backward while it takes a gigantic step forward. No fewer than five (me thinks) theater companies are planning to build movie palaces near the MCI Arena. Some will follow the "arts boutique" that has become fashionable. Others will upgrade the seats and food selection. (Pesto-flavored popcorn?) Moreover, one group is planning a 25 (count'm, 25) screen cinema megalopolis. The City Council recently held hearings on that group's proposal. I didn't catch the drift; I was surfing channels to the 24/7 Lewinsky stations. Within a year or two, Mr. Parker, you will have more choice and higher prices than you ever dreamed of.

Uncomfortable seats
Peter Wolff,

Re the seats at the Uptown, I totally agree with Dan Parker that they are uncomfortable. In fact, they are absolutely awful, and I simply have given up going there. I also share his negativity about the Odeon 1,000-lb. gorilla, which I tend to, somewhat less kindly, characterize as odious at best.



French Embassy Champagne Tasting
Charlie Adler,

"French Embassy Champagne Tasting," Tuesday, Sept. 15th, 7:00-10:00PM, Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, D.C., underground parking available. Ooh la la, Champagne corks will be popping at the Champagne Tasting at the opulent and luxurious Embassy of France. Join Michael Franz, wine columnist for the Washington Post, as we savor the sensual pleasures of probably the world's finest beverage, the wines of the Champagne region of France. The wines are matched with a full gourmet buffet dinner including steak, chicken, salmon, a diverse selection of fine hors d'oeuvres, and of course, French pastries. We'll also enjoy Cognac at the end of the evening to appease your overheated senses. $68 per person, tax and tip inclusive, RSVP (202)333-5588



Looking for Apartment in NW With a Short Term Lease
Tammy Cussimanio,

Professional couple seeking a one bedroom apartment in a safe neighborhood in Northwest DC for six months that allows pets (they have one small, very well-behaved dog). Looking to move at the end of September. Please respond directly to Tammy Cussimanio at:

Apartment for Rent
Claudia Coonrod,

Available immediately. 1 bedrm walk-out basement apt. with patio, 800+ sq. ft. full kitchen w/dw, all utilities including cable. $1,000/mo. on exclusive Springland Lane. Great light, private, wood burning fp in bedrm. Call Claudia Coonrod @ 202-363-0663.

Atlantic Beach, NC Bargain
Phyllis H. Belford,

Sunday 9/06/98–10/13/98, only $450/week. 2BR/2BA (sleeps 6) North Carolina beach front resort with all amenities!! (Minor storm damage currently being repaired; will be A OK by Labor Day). Fish, swim (ocean, indoor or outdoor pools) each pool with whirlpool/hot tub; play tennis on site. Skin-diving, boating, deep-sea fishing, daily charters, water-skiing, wind-surfing and scuba-diving are nearby. Golfers will find 12 18-hole golf courses in the area. Also of interest are Fort Macon, a restored Civil War fort & Jungleland, which features miniature golf; an arcade and bumper boats.

Office Sublease
Jon Katz,

Silver Spring (1400 Spring St.) - Sublease 1 or 2 windowed offices on tree-lined street across Woodside Park. Near Metro, plentiful parking, and District Court. Conference room and secretary space available. Call Marks & Katz, LLC, (301) 495-4300.



Chair for Sale
Sandy Barsky,

1950's Deco chair, burnt orange with blonde legs $50, Sandy Barsky, 301-346-3394



Office Wiz/Personal Assistant needed
Karen Feld,

Busy journalist needs savvy, self-starting, discreet assistant to manage personal business in Georgetown home office. Unique opportunity to juggle a variety of tasks including troubleshooting, scheduling, correspondence, editorial and production assistance, Internet research, maintaining web page and files. Must be flexible, well-organized, reliable, have good driving record, top communication skills and sense of humor. Nonsmoker. Convince me you're the right person!

Baby-sitter Needed
Michael Stempel,

We are looking for a baby-sitter 5 hours a week (afternoon). If your nanny/baby-sitter has available hours (and you like this person a lot!) Please let us know. Thanks.



New Trial Law Firm Opens in Silver Spring
Jon Katz,

Reader Jon Katz and fellow trial lawyer Jay Marks have just opened a new law firm in Silver Spring, called Marks & Katz, LLC. The firm advocates on behalf of clients in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, for injuries, criminal defense, and immigration.

The partners are active with the international community, including the local Hispanic community. The firm broadcasts a radio call-in show called "Legalmente Hablando" ("Legally Speaking"), every Sunday on 1050 AM (Maryland) and 1460 AM (Virginia) from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Marks speaks Spanish, and Katz speaks French. Marks and Katz is at, 1400 Spring St., Suite 410, Silver Spring, MD 20910, (301) 495-4300.

John Taboada,

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,


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