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September 2, 1998

The Rules Relaxed Election Issue of themail

For one time only, and this doesn't constitute a precedent, longer messages than usual have invaded themail from supporters, endorsers, and wives of candidates. Keep them coming. But once the elections season is over (and we don't even have to wait until then), let's get back to talking about what's happening in our neighborhoods.

The last word on the controversy over commercial classifieds (for which I take full responsibility, and am heartily sorry) goes to Peter Wolff, editor of The InTowner, who reminds me that our local neighborhood newspapers also run classified ads at a nominal fee, and that — Peter was discrete enough not to remind me — the income from classifieds can be important to the survival of these neighborhood papers, on which we all rely.

A hiccup in the E-mail program sent duplicate copies of themail to many subscribers last time; I'll try not to let it happen again. (Isn't it wonderful? Ever since we got computers, we've stopped making mistakes; now all the errors are made by our computers.)

The joint DCWatch/Digital City coverage of the elections is now operational; AOL subscribers can reach it at keyword: Washington. Non-AOL subscribers can get the DCWatch elections coverage at

Gary Imhoff


Tony Does What the Job Needs!
Anne Drissel (

Past Mayors, City Council members and directors of city agencies and schools have had BILLIONS of dollars and decades of unlimited opportunities to provide a livable, economically viable city for its citizens and for the nation and world. Have THEY delivered??? I don't think so! In two years, Tony Williams did more to improve the livelihood of this city than most of these people did in years. He made sure contractors got paid for their services. He made sure tax checks were cashed. He made sure taxes were collected and that available federal grants were secured. He made sure competent work was performed by the city employees whose salaries we pay. Where were the rest of these folks when they had the chance to deliver????

Tony's the first one to admit he's not a fancy speaker. He never pretended to be! We don't need any more fancy rabble rousing words in this town. We need somebody to make sure the streets are cleaned and the kids are getting an education and our neighborhoods are safe .... And we need somebody who will tell those who are used to feeding at the public trough that they need to go out and get a legitimate source of income instead of bleeding the city dry.

Tony is one of those good old-fashioned people who used to populate this city — somebody who understands that being a "public servant" is a tough, humble job. It means you serve ALL the people — great and small, poor and rich, black and red and yellow and white, from every neighborhood and from every region and every nation. It means that if you are chosen to lead this great city you must make hard choices and inspire people by action, not just by words..... WHATEVER YOU THINK, VOTE September 15!!!


Support for Jack
Bonnie Gantt,

I was asked to help with the Evans campaign by another volunteer. I researched his background by calling some folks, talking to some ward 2 citizens and observing what has happened to ward 2 since I moved out of it 25 or so years ago.

I attended Slater-Langston and the old Shaw. I once lived on New Jersey Avenue, P Street, R Street and the Gibson Plaza on 7th Street and was present for the opening of the Kennedy Playground many years ago. Through the years I have seen many positive changes in ward 2 like business expansion (led to more jobs for DC residents), less drug trafficking, less ladies of the night (they are not as prominently walking the walk as they used to when there were all sorts of porn houses around them to help their business), new Dunbar, new Shaw, closing of some of the more ragged schools, etc. etc. Also, I have met many people living in ward 2 that say they are satisfied with his performance on the council on their behalf.

I discovered he'd made some bad decisions and some good ones. Yet, what stands out most is his attendance at council hearings and meetings, his participation in legislature proceedings, his attention to details of public concerns, his willingness to get out there and try to make a difference for the city in spite of his lack of so-called charisma, as some have remarked. What's important is that he is not just a lot of rhetoric. He really gives solid answers to questions about the issues, and, I have observed, if he can't give one right away, he's willing to take down a name and number and will get back with an answer.

What do I say when people ask me why I support a white candidate for DC mayor??? Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, '...judge a person, not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.' I have judged his character and it appears to be sound enough for DC Mayor. Thanks for this opportunity to speak. Don't forget to vote on September 15!


Two Points
Mike Hill,

In response to Ms. Azfal's request for supporters of Anthony Williams to write in, let me say I think he will do a great job. I do not think he is particularly inspiring as a speaker, or has great personal magnetism. He will not be a "leader" in the sense that many African Americans have grown to expect, i.e. eloquent and charismatic oratory in the tradition of the Baptist preacher. I would add that many white liberals also feel that this is the only model for black leadership. A recent Washington Post article noted that Mr. Williams has run for political office before, in fact, right out of graduate school. He was elected to a lower scale office (alderman?) in the neighborhood around his Yale campus, and earned a reputation as a man of uncompromising principles. At another posting, he took a severe beating from contractors who he refused to pay for work they did not do.

First, I would remind mail readers that all the District's problems are, at base financial (and those that aren't are being couched in financial terms by Congress). With the mayoralty largely a figural post, the only people who will be able to push through any kind of legislative agenda are those who can figure out how to pay for them. I feel like the control board members and the District oversight committee are much more comfortable with the reinstatement of home rule since Mr. Williams stewardship than before.

Second, I would remind mail readers that DC has had far too many charismatic leaders who were lazy or just plain incompetent. Anyone remember Marion Barry? Sharon Pratt Kelley and her broom? Hilda Mason is a grand lady, but does her refrain that she is "your grandmother" make it OK that her staff is basically running things? And what exactly did Jesse Jackson accomplish after moving to DC to be shadow senator? As I recall, most of the legislative grunt work on statehood and securing a federal payment for DC has been done by Ms. Norton. In addition to being a fiery speaker, she has the respect of her colleagues — she knows the process, and where the bodies are buried. Are we all watching so much TV that we can't elect a mayor who's not entertaining, just principled?


Happy to Talk about the At-Large Race.
Connie Ridgway,

Well, if non-partisan people won't step in to talk about the at-large race, I will! Disclosure: I'm Phil Mendelson's wife. That said, let me tell you why he's the best candidate:

1. Phil knows the issues better because he's done something about almost every one of them. As a civic activist for 20 years and as a city council staffer for 7 years, he's advocated for streamlined business and zoning permits, aggressive oversight of the mayor's departments (including not approving department heads for the job if they aren't up to the task), better personnel reviews so unqualified or incompetent government employees are identified and dealt with, saving good schools and trimming the administrative fat from the school system, and getting community policing to really work. 2. Phil is willing to put himself on the line: he sued the city to get an office building to pay $500,000 in unpaid taxes, he got arrested for civil disobedience when they were going to build a commercial road in the local park (the road got built, then torn up again because he and others persisted). 3. He's business-friendly in a balanced way, making sure residential areas don't suffer. He recently met with business leaders citywide to share a vision for creative economic development. 4. Phil is the only one who has city council experience, as a senior staffer for Jim Nathanson and Dave Clarke (7 years total). He was an activist on the council, getting them to introduce good legislation (like creating the Tax Revision Commission under Dave Clarke). 5. Phil has four major endorsements: Metropolitan Labor Council (175 unions), TENAC (tenants group), The Sierra Club and the DC Nurses' Association, showing his broad support from many areas citywide.

Compare others' records, and I hope you'll agree Phil (#1 on the democratic ballot) is the most qualified and the best person to take the council to a new level of accountability for good government.


At-Large Candidate Bill Rice
Ed T. Barron,

The Post seems to be spending a lot of ink on the Mayoral race but very little on the Council elections. The Primary election will have a brace of candidates running as Democrats for the at-large seat that has no incumbent running. I've only met one of the at-large candidates, Bill Rice, and he seems to have his head screwed on right. I can't say I agree with all his positions (DC General, for example) but he seems to be a capable good thinker and planner. For sure, he would be no rubber stamper like many of those currently on the Council. I think that Rice, when added to those few on the Board who have demonstrated some real constructive and productive talents (namely: Kathy Patterson; David Catania, and Sharon Ambrose) the Council just might be able to exert some positive influence on the running of the city and the staffing of key positions.


I Voted for Phil Mendelson
Judith Rosenfeld,

Since I have just voted by absentee ballot, I am now well-positioned to ignore the sorry spectacle of three pols, one accountant and a restauranteur mouthing platitudes at those stupid, repetitive, mind-numbing candidate forums. I got through the one on Channel 9 this week by imagining that it had been scripted by Jerry Seinfeld, and waiting for Kramer to fall onto the stage.

That said, I voted for one of them. I also voted for Phil Mendelson, whom I know to be sensible and knowledgeable and (mirabile dictu) to understand property taxes and the way the City Council mishandles them. I thought he showed real guts in trying to get the gutless DC Dems to pay attention to the recommendations of the DC Tax Revision Commission.

That Commission cost a good many prominent citizens countless hours of volunteer time and hard work, and cost the city close to a million dollars. Its report tackled a casserole-full of political hot potatoes, including the Senior Citizen property tax reduction and the $30,000 Homestead Exemption, and recommended abandoning Triennial tax assessment. Having voted to empower the Commission, it now appears that the Council considers its report a political embarrassment, and some (perhaps a majority) of the very members who espoused it want it to go away.

So. that's why I voted for Phil Mendelson. I don't know how he views the recommendations — actually, I don't happen to agree with everything in the report — but we need more people on the Council who are willing to deal openly with the often-unpalatable recommendations of commissions of their own creation, instead of burying their findings for political expediency.


None Of The Above!
Mike Livingston,, Green Party candidate for Shadow US Representative

The Democratic primary for mayor does not offer any acceptable solutions. Consider the three most controversial issues discussed in the last issue of themail: rent control, UDC and private prisons: on each of these issues, the public interest candidate is John Gloster of the Statehood Party.

#1: Rent control as we know it simply ties the rate of rent increase to the rate of inflation, and it guarantees landlords a constant, fixed profit — a benefit no other industry enjoys — while protecting the 2/3 of District taxpayers who, like me, are not homeowners. To send a strong message in favor of rent control, vote for Gloster. #2: The business community is constantly wringing its hands over the shortage of qualified workers in the region's fastest-growing private industry, high tech/telecom. If we fail to make public education, *including 4-year college education*, available and affordable for all of our citizens, we waste an entire generation, ruin our economy and guarantee another 20 years of crime and urban decay. It is vital that we save and expand UDC as a 4-year university, and Gloster is the only mayoral candidate (correct me if I'm wrong) who has not only committed to do so but identified a concrete fiscal plan to make it possible. #3: If we invested wisely in people (schools, drug treatment, job training, access to health care, child care, and District-based small business), we wouldn't need as much prison space. Gloster proposes a minimum 1:1 ratio of dollars spent on crime prevention to dollars spent on incarceration (which, as we've learned the hard way, does not prevent crime). Here I disagree with Gloster — 1:1 is too low. But it's far better than anything I've heard from the Democrats.


Convention Center Class Action Unsuited
Leslie Miles,

I want to reply to Beth Solomon and Debby Hanrahan about the class action suit they are bringing claiming that taxes were illegally collected to pay for the new convention center (which incidentally is being built on cleared land, will not destroy any neighborhoods, and is of course widely supported here in the actual community, not the virtual one they hope to create). I fully expect the suit to be dismissed. But even if it is meritorious, which it plainly is not, it is a side issue. For what purpose is it being brought? If it succeeds it will do nothing to stop or even delay construction. All it will do is make our bonds' rating decline, causing the project to cost more money. Thanks again, Beth and Debby, for more wasteful useless costly activities— and just who is going to pay to remove the thousands of flimsy signs you posted all over town using industrial strength tape — signs that went up once the City Council had already voted for the project?


Movie Seats for the Vertically Challenged
Kirsten Sherk,

I have to pipe up for the seats in the Uptown. I'm 5'1" .Movie seats are NEVER comfortable for me. My feet don't quite touch the floor, so I end up slouching in my seat to get them there. I spend the entire movie trying to find a comfortable position and by the end my back is definitely stiff. In the new uptown seats, however, my lower back and shoulders and neck are nicely supported and I can actually watch the movie in comfort. Maybe it's not a height thing, but I think it's a definite improvement nonetheless.


Uncomfortable Seats
Tony Ross, Mage Publishers,

Re the seats at the Uptown, my friends who are above or below average height seem to find them extremely uncomfortable. However, at 6'0" I find them perfectly fine. I wonder if they have been ergonomically optimized for a specific body size?



At-Large Council Candidates Forum
Kurt Vorndran,

On Thursday, September 10th, 1998, DC voters will have one of their last chances to hear from all of the candidates for the at-large seat on the City Council before the Democratic Primary election. The Ward Three Democratic Committee will be hosting a candidates' forum starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Maret School, 3000 Cathedral Ave., NW in the Woodley Park section of DC Ample parking is available and the public is invited.

Ten candidates will be competing for the Democratic nomination for an at-large seat on the DC Council. With no Democratic incumbent, the race has so far been spirited but occasionally overshadowed by the Mayoral race. The Ward Three Democratic Committee is sponsoring the forum to help educate Democratic voters as they decide their choice for the September 15th election. No endorsement vote will be taken at the event. Previously, the Ward Three Democratic Committee issued a rare pre-primary endorsement of the following candidates: Kathy Patterson for Ward Three Member of the District Council, Linda Cropp for Chairman of the District Council, and Eleanor Holmes Norton for Delegate to Congress. For more information, call Chair Kurt Vorndran (202-667-0105-h), (202-508-3717-o) or Second Vice-Chair Linda Finkel-Talvadkar (202-363-8827).

DC Nonprofit Cultural Organization
Maureen Dunn, OR

The Pan American Symphony Orchestra (PASO) is composed of young volunteer musicians, led by conductor, Argentine national, Sergio Buslje. The orchestra is the only orchestra in the area that highlights classical music compositions from Latin America, ones rarely performed or never performed in the United States. In addition, the orchestra features Latin American soloists. The 1998-1999 season presents unique works from Honduras, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, among others. This season the orchestra performs at the Lisner Auditorium, the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, the Organization of American States, and Trinity College in northeast DC. For a detailed description of the new season and other interesting information about PASO, see our web page:

For a season brochure, call (202) 884-9008, or write, PASO, P.O. Box 21205, Washington, DC 20009

Good Kosher Wine Is Not an Oxymoron!
Francesca Kranzberg,

Find out for yourself at a pre-High Holiday kosher wine tasting at the DCJCC. Thursday, Sept. 11, 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. The DCJCC is located at the southeast corner of 16th and Q streets, NW $3 per person. Call 202-518-9400 x. 209 for more information.


CLASSIFIEDS — Housing and Offices

Apartment Wanted, Short-Term Lease
Virginia Johnson,

Looking for a one bedroom or very large efficiency apartment in Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle or a nice area of Arlington for six months. Preferably furnished. Price: $600-$800.

Office Space Wanted
Diana Zuckerman at

I am looking for temporary office space for 1-2 people for a new project for a progressive nonprofit (501(c)(3). Looking in DC or Bethesda. Donated or sublease preferred. Ideal location could share fax, Xerox, etc. with other compatible organization. Please contact Dr. Diana Zuckerman at



Two Lawnmowers
Greg Melcher,

Mower #1, Gas, hardly used, with catcher, needs new gasket between carburetor and engine. $25. Mower #2, Electric, also hardly used, wheel fell off believe it just needs a cotter pin. $20 Will donate to a deserving charity.

Amp and Speakers
Sandy Barsky,

Vintage Bass Amplifier, Acoustic with 15" speaker, separate Peavey cabinet with 15" speaker and two JBL 15" speakers, Best Offer 301-346-3394


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