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September 9, 1998

Primary Interest in themail

Dear Districtians:

Top topics in the week leading up to the election remain the candidates in the primary, the convention center, and the schools. What’s the matter, isn’t anybody a crime victim anymore? (Chief Ramsey’s reorganization plan may elicit a few crime comments -- if you want to read the full text of what the Chief has released on the plan so far, it’s available on the DCWatch web site at .)

Next Sunday’s issue of themail is your last chance before the primary to convince your fellow themailers that your candidate is the best, and their candidate isn’t worth -- well, isn’t worth voting for. From the tone of some of this week’s contributions, a lot of people can still be convinced.

Be sure to read straight through to the end, by the way; a number of interesting events are listed in the classifieds, and you may find some fascinating distraction to take your mind off all that came before.

Gary Imhoff


Thinking Too Much And Still Undecided

Mark Richards,

The Post’s opinion poll (published last Thursday) seems to indicate that two mayoral candidates have the best chance of winning the primary -- Williams and Chavous. Although I can’t speculate on how accurately the poll measures those who will ACTUALLY vote, my bet is that it is probably pretty good information (I tried to get full details, but the Post wouldn’t provide it). Which may suggest that a vote for any candidate besides Chavous is in reality a vote for Williams. Friends ask who I’m voting for, knowing that I follow local issues closely, but I haven’t been much help because, in fact, I’m still kicking the decision around. I had been leaning toward Brazil, mainly because of his demonstrable regulatory reform efforts and his commitment to the city. I’m sorry that reformers on the Council -- Brazil, Chavous, and Evans -- have been cast, in contrast to Williams, as "part of the old regime." Doesn’t seem quite fair that they put in the time and energy working for change (drawing anger at the grassroots) and due to circumstances beyond their control, were unable to realize the changes. Now, in moves Williams, part of a national professional class and who like 93% of our citizens didn’t bother to vote locally (when is the vote about representational democracy and when is it a mask for real power?). Williams is able to capitalize on his limited local record and our frustration and willingness to gamble with an unknown ("I’ll take whatever is behind door number three!") .This bothers me. But I have no evidence to suggest that Williams would not, overall, be a good Mayor.

In fact, I have confidence in the integrity of all of the candidates running. But I feel my real choice is between Chavous and Williams now. I’m not sure Chavous will take hard and decisive decisions when needed. Will he build a professional Executive with performance measures? I KNOW he is strong defender of our right to become full U.S. citizens, a key issue for me. Williams said he will set up a "Democracy Trust" if he wins -- a great concept. But I’m not sure what priority he will give this issue. And, as a private sector person, I’m not sure he is inclined to build coalitions and to compromise, as democracy requires. Does anyone know of any other city who elected a mayor who had not spent some time WITHIN the local government? If Williams wins, will he and the Council work together (three of whom he will have defeated)? And if not, will the Control Board be cast in a new role, that of mediator between our two branches? And how will Congress shift the balance of power when there is a dispute between Mayor and Council? This could all be very interesting.

May the best candidate win and may the winner also focus on the long term, build better citizen involvement mechanisms, and help make our case for equal citizens rights at this critical bicentennial period. Either way, most of us know the difference between federal government buildings and the District of Columbia, and either way we’ll keep plugging away to work with whomever is in power to make this city the nation’s democracy capital.


Why I got off the Tony Williams bandwagon

Beth Solomon,

I was an enthusiastic participant in the effort to draft Tony Williams for Mayor earlier this year. But subsequent revelations have convinced me that it would be a very serious mistake to elect him. His support of the foolish Mt. Vernon convention center plan is a serious concern, but Tony Williams’ policy record reveals more disturbing signs. As reported in the Washington Post (4/26/97), he proposed privatizing DS’s prison system -- a discredited concept that has been shown to be a public safety hazard and a taxpayer rip-off -- not to mention a constitutionally and morally questionable notion. He proposed privatizing "nonessential police services," eliminating the Commission on the Arts, reducing the hours at DC libraries and eliminating funding to Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. Williams slashed UDC’s budget to the extent that enrollment has dropped 25 percent, and proposed shutting down DC General Hospital, the only place you can go if you don’t have enough income or insurance to afford treatment.

Now we learn that Tony Williams approved a $55,000 severance payment for discredited DC Lottery Director Frederick King when circumstances warranted King’s automatic firing. Williams claims what King did was not "overtly illegal," something you would expect Marion Barry or Edwin Meese to have said. Odd for a campaign based on sound management and distance from corrupt DC politics.

What is emerging is a portrait not of exceptional leadership, management skill, or integrity, but of mixed results and a willingness to cut essential services to the most vulnerable in our society. Plus a heck of a lot of ambition. Tony Williams is undoubtedly a very intelligent man who helped balance DC’s checkbook and cleaned up the tax office. But politics is not about who counts the beans -- it’s about who gets them. I will cast my vote for Kevin Chavous.


At Large Candidate

Taylor Simmons,

As a registered Democrat, it may interest some to know that I plan to ignore the large at-large Democrat primary, and will vote to reelect David Catania in the general election. His party doesn’t interest me. He and Kathy Patterson have made a good team and have set themselves apart from the rest of the council in that they aren’t afraid to shake things up. We need more like them and fewer mayoral candidates on the council.


"Oh what a web we weave............"

Greg Rhett,

The "paper of record," that only recently acknowledged that there was, in fact, a race for the DC City Council, At-Large, did not get the facts right! First: My name is GREG RHETT. Michael Powell neglected to inform the readers of this fact. Second: The Rhett At-Large Campaign has been endorsed by the Washington Area Board of Trade and the F.O.P. Labor Committee for Corrections Officers. Our platform has consistently been focused on ensuring the delivery of GOOD GOVERNMENT to the citizens. For some odd reason, Michael Powell, neglected to inform readers of these simple facts. Third: Believe it or not, I had this very same problem with another local publication, and I sent a Letter to the Editor which was published. My letter stuck to the facts and cleared the record and brought out the truth about their writers intent.

Finally, you probably already guessed that I am not a "former" journalist, therefore, I am at the mercy of those who support their "former" colleagues, (former colleague, may I add, who just happens to be seeking the same nomination as myself and the other "non-journalist") .The pen is a dangerous weapon in the hands biased writers.


At-Large Council Race

Mike Geglia,

What we do not need now on the council is any more demagoguery. We’ve had enough of members postulating for their next race. We need proven roll-up-your-sleeves and make it work activists. We need more Kathy Pattersons. Of all the candidates, only Phil Mendelson has a proven record for getting things done for the people of this City. Read between the fluff in the literature of the other candidates (if you can get any) and you don’t see much in the way of accomplishment. Phil has a twenty year record of service to the city through neighborhood activism that has resulted in real changes and better city government practices.

As a private citizen, Phil got the City to improve its tax assessment procedures through a lawsuit that he initiated and worked on in his own free time. His lawsuit, which led to legislation clearly closing this tax loophole, recovered $500,000 in taxes in that case and millions more in the years since without increasing bureaucratic red tape. It simply got the government to work better. As a community activist, Phil was a founding member of TACPEC and a leader in WACC that brought about the rezoning of the northern Wisconsin Avenue corridor to a level appropriate to this neighborhood and in agreement with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. His roll-up-your-sleeves-Let’s-get-to-work style of leadership also played a major role in the historic designation for Cleveland Park and in the reopening of the entrance to Glover Archibold Park.

As an ANC commissioner, Phil has anchored the best performing ANC in the city for 20 years. Besides getting most Government agencies to recognize the great weight they should give to ANC decisions, Phil’s accomplishments include getting the City to improve their notice given to ANC’s and neighbors of development and getting the city to replace park play equipment they removed without neighborhood notice. As a council staffer for Jim Nathanson and to Dave Clarke, Phil wrote the Ward 3 component to the Comprehensive Plan and the Tax Revision code that established the Tax Revision Commission. If we are serious about providing better city government, we need to recognize those who are serious about improving our city.


Multum in Parvo

Steph "Woke up speaking Latin this morning" Faul,

1. Why would anyone think that development around the new convention center would be different from development around the old convention center? Shaw should brace for an influx of hotels and parking lots, the only two civic amenities convention centers really need. "Gentrification" is not part of the picture. "Raze and rebuild as commercial space" is.

2. A friend and I were talking about the mayor’s race and she pointed out that Tony Williams looks very much like a Marion Barry puppet -- he’s got the Barry people out working for him and, as she correctly stated, "Nobody puts that kind of effort into something that won’t give them a return."Any comments from the political pros on that?

3. The dearth of decent rental housing in DC isn’t due to rent control alone. DC has extremely strong tenant rights laws, to the point where it is difficult to evict someone even if they haven’t paid rent in months. While obviously protection is needed for tenants, landlords have to have the ability to manage their properties or they will find opportunities to invest elsewhere. This is obviously what they’ve done.


Not Exactly Bake Sales, But Close

Mike Livingston,, Green Party candidate for Shadow U.S. Representative

In response to Sharon Cochran’s question about the class action suit on behalf of everyone who has eaten at a restaurant, slept at a hotel or rented a car in the District during the time those transactions were illegally taxed to finance a convention center which had not been authorized -- "Does anyone know where this group is getting their funding?" -- it is small exaggeration to say: What funding? They raised $1,400 at a yard sale last weekend and a Green Party activist (not me) made an unsecured loan of $1,000 against projected fundraising. These are ordinary citizens trying to recover taxes collected illegally by a government beholden to the special interests of the Federal City Council and DC Chamber of Commerce. They will probably continue to rely on donations from other citizens who believe in accountable, clean, law-abiding government.


Public schools and staffing at Wilson HS

Stan Wellborn,

Ed Barron’s comments on the DC public school bureaucracy are right on target -- albeit somewhat old

news. In that regard, it is worth noting good and bad news regarding key personnel changes at Ward Three’s Wilson High School, which has a long and continuing record of better-than-average student achievement, with 87 percent of graduates going on to college or other post-secondary schooling.

Wilma Bonner, the distinguished Wilson principal for several years, was recently appointed by Dr. Ackerman to an important position in the "downtown" administration. That is good news. Even though as Wilson parents we hate to see a highly competent principal depart, Dr. Bonner will certainly be a worthy addition to the hidebound DC school bureaucracy. The bad news is that Dr. Ackerman failed to appoint the most logical person as Wilson principal. That person is George Arlotto, who has been an outstanding assistant principal at Wilson for several years. Rather than move Arlotto into the principal’s slot, Dr. Ackerman said that a "national search" would be conducted to find a new principal for Wilson. As a result, Arlotto is leaving the school system to pursue full-time a doctorate in education at GWU. It is a shame to lose such dedicated and well-liked staff members like George Arlotto when the DC school system should do everything it can to retain such talent.


Computers in the Classrooms

Ed T. Barron,

My roomie, who has been teaching in private schools for the last twenty-five years, says that putting computers in the DCPS classrooms is a waste of money. That money can be better used to make class sizes smaller and to reward the teachers who have demonstrated outstanding performance in the classroom. Computers are great tools. They must, however, be in the hands of those who know how to use them to be effective and useful. The DCPS teachers are not, for the most part, computer literate or able to train students in the use of computers. Computers in most classrooms would be a total waste of time and money.

A better way is to locate computers in a single area along with those teachers or computer persons who can show, and teach, how computers can best be used in the educational environment of that school. This would be a less costly and far more effective way of educating our students in the use of computers as learning and productivity tools.


Books & Hardware for Woodley -- Fumes @ Van Ness!!

M. Nellis,

How many dry cleaners do we need in Ward 3?? And why should we have to suffer both the suburban car-glut that ‘s inevitable -- their fumes and the other on-site toxic variety -- soon to invade our community by that ENORMOUS, NY franchise, dry cleaning Goliath? Who will prevent the entire NW environment from that industrial plant that will surely pollute our already UNserviceable Van Ness/Yuma/Alton/Albemarle strip on Connecticut Avenue --? Any wannabe Council members taking notice? Ready for a Class Action??


Reasonable rent increase?

Leslie Ruskin,

I am a new condo owner in Cleveland Park and I am renting it out. With all of this discussion on rent control I just realized that I do not have a good idea what is an appropriate rate to raise my rent each year. What is a reasonable rent increase? Can anyone mail back to me their thoughts or experiences? Thanks in advance...


Snoopy Dog L’Avendou

Jeffrey Itell,

I beg forgiveness for an error I made in the last issue. Don’t look for a Snoopy Donut shop in Cleveland Park. The Snoopy Dog Corporation is apparently the corporate name of the French restaurant, L’Avendou .Go figure.



Bark in the Park

Stacey Patmore,

The Washington Humane Society is hosting a dog adoption day on Sunday, September 13th at Guy Mason Rec. Center from noon - 4 pm. WHS, PAW, and several pure breed rescue groups (including Akita, Pekinese, and Keeshond) will be there with dogs available for adoption. For more info call: 202/723-5730 x304.

The Alternative Press: An Afternoon With Editors and Journalists

Meg Pearson,

The Smithsonian Associates and the Independent Media Institute present an afternoon seminar and reception, Sat., Oct. 3, 1 to 5 p.m. As growing media conglomerates change the way news is covered, millions turn to weekly alternative newspapers and feisty opinion magazines for a different take. Most of these publications have their roots in a philosophy of writing about the world in order to encourage change.

Several highly experienced and outspoken media-makers describe their personal journalistic odysseys and provide a roadmap for current and future writers. They also debate the changes under way in the media -- including the impact of the Internet on publishing and writing, ideas about what makes media "alternative," and the likely future of alternative journalism. The day’s speakers are Victor Navasky, publisher and editorial director of The Nation magazine; Ruth Conniff, Washington editor of The Progressive magazine and political commentator on Fox News; Monte Paulsen, Washington investigative reporter for Alternative Newspapers, Inc. (which owns three papers) and an expert on online journalism; Jennifer Gonnerman, feature writer at the Village Voice, specializing in the criminal justice system; Jay Walljasper, editor-at-large at The Utne Reader; and David Carr, editor, Washington City Paper. The speakers then join a panel discussion and dialog with the audience. The seminar concludes with an informal reception, during which the speakers are available for individual conversations with seminar participants. Tickets: 202-357-3030 or on-line:

TennisLink Offers Extensive Tennis Services

Laurie England,

TennisLink would like to offer a special package of tennis services to all DCWatch readers: 6 -- 1 hour private lessons for beginners, intermediates and advanced players = $ 150.00

In addition, TennisLink offers attended ball machine sessions and videotaping services. He provides a free match referral service from his 7,000 player database for all clients and racquet stringing services. Players of all levels are welcome to participate in his program. TennisLink will arrange for lessons at courts near you and at hours convenient to your schedule. Please call Laurie England to sign up today at 202/337-6059.

Jewish Singles Party Sunday Sept 13, 1998

Michael Goldstein,

Meet 100’s of Jewish Singles. The Society of Young Jewish Professionals -- sponsors of the MATZO BALL at LuLu’s on Xmas Eve, presents the New Year’s Gala! at Tel-Aviv Cafe, located at 4867 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD. Doors open at 8 pm. For directions call 301-718-9068. The party will feature music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, door prizes, outdoor seating, valet parking, and 100’s of Jewish Singles. $10 before 10 pm, Get There Early! and $15 after 10 pm.

Any questions or comments contact us at or call us at 202-452-5541. Please visit our web page at

Kosher Wine Tasting

Francesca Kranzberg,

Good Kosher Wine is Not an Oxymoron! Find out for yourself at a pre-Rosh Hashanah wine tasting this Thursday night, Sept. 10, from 7:30 - 9:00 pm at the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center (DCJCC), 1529 16th St. NW (southeast corner of 16th and Q). $3 per person. Call 518-9400 x 209 for information.

Love to Sing?


Need a break from your workday? Love to sing? Try the Runnymede Singers, a group of about 18 people (men and women, all age ranges, all experience levels) who get together every Tuesday night to sing. We perform primarily for retirement homes during the holiday season and in the Spring. No auditions, just the love for singing is required. Contact Renee at for more info.



John Taboada,

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,


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