Shift Boss at 7-11
Friends, Romans, Countrymen (and Women, of course):
Since youve opened this message, I assume that youve finished reading the Starr report and that the Emmy Awards are finally over. Last-minute endorsements and other DC issues fill this edition. DCWatch and I arent endorsing, and, since were your only reliable source, youre on your own in the voting booths. Good luck.
I had one utopian and visionary thought this weekend that Id like to share with you, though. As I went into my local convenience store to buy a newspaper, I thought about the tremendous improvement that it would make in our government if we applied to our politicians and appointed officials the same high standards that are applied to a shift boss at a 7-11. If a shift boss at a 7-11 used company credit cards that had been issued to other employees to pay his personal rent, he would be fired, and would be lucky if he werent prosecuted. If the director of the DC Lottery Board does it, he is allowed to resign, and Tony Williams gives him a handsome severance bonus. If a shift boss at a 7-11 gave one of his friends a sweetheart, noncompetitive, expensive contract that would have cost the company a bunch of money, the store manager would kick him out without delay. If the Chief Management Officer of DC does it, both Andrew Brimmer and Alice Rivlin praise her, and say her little mistake is a trifle that should be overlooked. If a shift boss at 7-11 consistently came to work high and coked out, he would be fired, fired, fired. If a DC mayor does it, the voters gleefully reelect him. If a shift boss at 7-11 boinked the junior cashiers in the stockroom, and then repeatedly lied about it to the store manager, you know what would happen to him, and you know where Im going with this.
I understand that people will say that Im expecting too much, and that my standards are unrealistic. Some people will be angry with me, and some will think that I am terribly unsophisticated. After all, unlike city managers and mayors and presidents, a shift manager at 7-11 is a person with responsibility and important duties. He has to be someone whom we must trust, a person of character and integrity. And the company has a right to expect him to live up to certain standards.
Perhaps we cant expect as much of our political leaders as we do of our convenience store managers. But perhaps we can begin to aspire a little higher in our public life. If it is asking too much for politicians to live up to the ethical standards of a convenience store shift boss, perhaps we can expect them to display at least the honesty and integrity of a used car salesman. That would be a start. Let's start with our choices in the primary this Tuesday.
As If You Care What I Think
Come Tuesday, I am going to vote for Phil Mendelsohn in the Democratic primary for at-large candidate. For years, the council has had its share of sizzle that fizzled (Bill Lightfoot anyone?). Now its time for steak over sizzle. Phil is more prepared to carry out council duties than the other candidates (even if one is a friend).
Now to Tony Williams bandwagon and why Rock Newman and Willie Wilson are leading the horn section. Think of Lyndon Johnsons famous remark: "Better to have the S.O.B.s inside the tent pissing out than have them outside pissing in." Im not comfortable with the situation either, but the object in government is to win, govern, and not compromise your principles (and, I suppose, keep your zipper up in the office).
Beth Solomon raps Williams knuckles too hard in the last issue of the "Ezine Formerly Known as dc.story." Williams said he blew it on approving the convention center (not comforting but more than most politicians would say); he supports privatizing government services (a notion embraced in almost every American jurisdiction, many with great success); he supports the transfer of inmates to private prisons (Ohio is a hellhole but have you visited Lorton today these decisions arent made in or with a vacuum.); and advocates cutting UDC (like most city leaders) because the university wastes money and serves its students poorly still does according to reports. Then there is General Hospital, and not the soap opera on TV. General Hospital is hemorrhaging money and qualified staff. Taking away medical treatment for the uninsured is not an option; how to deliver that service without breaking the bank, or, more accurately, breaking the federal, not local bank, is the main issue.
As for Williams management mistakes. Yup, he has made some. I guess thats what happens when you administer many government activities. Who wants to talk about the accomplishments or the record on balance? Like the tax windfall caused in part by actually collecting taxes from deadbeats? Contrast this with the "work" of our part-time councilmenbers running full-time for mayor. A case in point check their executive agency oversight reports. Except for Kathy Pattersons Gov Ops committee, none of the councilmembers oversight reports come in larger than a childs coloring book. In 1997, Chavous delivered an education oversight report of fewer than ten pages (if I remember correctly). Guess it would have been larger if he showed up at the council more often.
Williams earns my vote by balancing the budget and proving he has the mettle to fire incompetent employees. As a native Washingtonian, it saddens me to deal with the our bureaucracy. For too long, DC has been used as a job program for Barry supporters. Unlike Chicago, the city does not work. We have double the number of municipal employees, per capita, as Houston, for example. I am tired of participating in orange hat citizen patrols while our police patrol the 7-11. Although Jack Evans makes a courageous stand to protect those poor K Street law firms from the gross receipts tax, my vote goes to Williams.
Williams for Mayor
Re: Mark Richards and Beth Solomons recent post on Chavous vs. Williams. Mark, choose Williams, and Beth, jump back on the wagon. Mark writes how Chavous, Evans and Brazil were "drawing anger at the grassroots" during the Barry regime. Pardon me, but when? The only people doing such were cab drivers and the people involved with the failed effort to gather enough signatures to oust Barry. Were these three gentlemen really "in opposition?"
Beth, there is nothing wrong with privatization. This is the 90s. Unless you believe Lorton is a humane, well-run facility, or you would like a prison located in your ward, privately run prisons located elsewhere are a sensible alternative for DC. There is also nothing wrong with privatizing other city functions where it makes sense. Eliminate the Commission on the Arts? Yes, because private arts groups will fill the void. Eliminate ANCs? Good idea - they are a waste of money. Constituency services should be done be council members and their staffs like in other cities, not powerless local debating societies with a long record of corruption. Slash the UDC budget? To the maximum! Its an expensive white elephant. It would be cheaper for DC to simply make a deal w/NOVA and/or Univ. of Maryland to take our students. Read the recent article in City Paper for another example of ineptitude at UDC, or the NARPAC web site for how expensive and absurd keeping a law school open there is a law school where only 10% of graduates manage to pass the bar exam the 1st time around (as opposed to 90% at Gtown). Also, Williams is the only candidate to unequivocally support charter schools an arrow at the heart of our terrible school bureaucracy. Williams for mayor!
I Support Mosley for Ward 1 Council
Yesterday a letter arrived in my mailbox from a downtown personal injury law firm. The attorneys were asking that we vote for Frank Smith Sept. 15 because his opponent (unnamed) wants to cap damages for injuries and is supported by the Medical Society. The rest of the letter read:
This is the only achievement they could come up with for 16 years in office? This is why I will not vote for Frank Smith. I am supporting Todd Mosley for several reasons. Todd knows the ward because he works in and for it, and he has proven his ability to represent the interests of Ward 1 residents and businesses. First, Todds organization Thumbs Up! has employed more than 100 minority teenagers, helping keep them out of trouble, giving them adult role models and teaching them the value of work. As Ward 1 ombudsman in the Mayors office, Todd was able to deal with DC bureaucracy to get water mains fixed, snow plowed, and other services delivered in a timely manner. Todd also has worked for the community as chair of the Adams Morgan ANC. Another important point: Todd has raised virtually all his campaign funds from Ward 1 residents, unlike his chief opponents. As one of the candidates said at a recent forum: no matter what a candidate says is his platform, you have to look at where his money comes from to see whose interests he will represent. I and many other people believe Todd is the best candidate to represent all of our interests in Ward 1.
The Washington Post (9/10), Loose Lips of The Washington City Paper (9/10), The InTowner (9/11) The Northwest Current (9/9), and Jonetta Rose Barras of the Washington Times (7/31) all named more than one candidate to consider for the At-Large race. But only Phil Mendelson was named by all of them.
Just a question. If the control board gave $5 million to Booz-Allen to study our police department and make recommendations, cant they require that Chief Ramsey implement at least some of those recommendations? I assume that study was funded with taxpayer dollars. Dont we have the right to demand that the leadership incorporate those suggestions? Whats the point of conducting studies if no one does anything with the results? Maybe someone can help me understand whats going on here.
Every day I walk up and down 15th St. and pass Linda Cropps office. I read the signs in the window and on the car parked in front and can think of only one thing: How could Ms. Cropp could possibly be a candidate for chair "man" ?Is there something we dont know about Linda? Just Wondering
Charter School Facilities
The Charter Schools have been scrambling to find decent quarters to set up their operations. One location that might offer some very fine space for several of these charter schools is the EPA facility down near the arena theater on Maine Avenue. Most of the federal EPA employees currently located there are moving to the new Reagan Building. Someone who is overseeing the Charter Schools should look into getting that building on a loan basis from the Feds.
And, speaking of Charter Schools, when will someone do the right thing and open an all female charter school. All female schools are great places for young women to get a great education without the distractions and dominance of the young males in coed schools.
Where exactly is this fabled lack of decent rental housing? In the 7 years that Ive lived in DC, neither I nor most of the people I know have ever spent more than 2 weeks looking for a place to live, and generally have had an array of apartments or houses to choose from. The only exceptions to this that I know of are people whose space desires did not fit with what they could afford, and the abolition of rent control certainly would not alleviate this problem. Rent control has enabled me to stay in an apartment and building which I really like, since theres only a limited amount that my landlady can raise my rent. In my previous house, strong tenant laws kept me and my former house mates from being evicted when we refused to pay our rent until our landlord fixed the faulty wiring which had caused an electrical fire. The abolition of rent control will drive people like me with moderate incomes out of the city to places where we can afford to live. This means that DC will lose our tax money, and that our purchasing power will be put into communities in Maryland and Virginia. I dont know why a city which is increasingly losing population would want to implement a housing plan which would only drive out more people.
DC "Domino" Development Schemes threaten Columbia Heights
Does anyone in Columbia Heights have any idea of whats about to erupt on 14th Street with the opening of the Columbia Heights Metro stop? Residents know that the Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) has rushed an "emergency" (i.e., rushed through Council) Request For Proposals for development. But the latter might be a mere formality, since deals have apparently already been cut: "The new incentive [Tax Increment Financing] is expected to provide financing for several new projects planned for downtown, including a baseball stadium, an entertainment complex near MCI Center, and a shopping mall in the Mount Pleasant/Columbia Heights neighborhood.... We wanted to get the TIF going right away, because we have at least three projects lined up, waiting to use it, [Ward One Council member Frank] Smithsaid."("TIF Passed," by Thomas C. Hall, in The Washington Business Journal, 4/20/98.)
The article describes the mall as follows: "Uptown Columbia Heights development planned at 14th Street and Park Road NW by [non-DC real estate firms] Trammell Crow and Forest City... includes a 200,000-square-foot shopping mall at the former Tivoli Theater site."
In fact, Columbia Heights residents were specific about the kind of commercial development theyd like to see on 14th Street. At the November 1997 "Design Charrette" for a community-based development plan, residents expressed their wishes clearly: "Facades of new structures should be aligned at the sidewalk edge and not set back.... Parking should be underground or hidden behind retail structures.... Ground level property facing on 14th Street should be retail, restaurants, or other walk-in use.... There should be two focal points, a civic/cultural heart in the Tivoli area [at Park Road], and a commercial heart at the Metro stations [at Irving Street]." Residents thus called for an urban shopping district, oriented to the sidewalk, and explicitly rejected a mall, especially a strip mall with a parking lot along 14th Street. The Business Journal article also seems to threaten the Tivoli Theater itself, which is rather ominous since the RLAs Request For Proposals suggests that developers may obtain permits to change the zoning status of such sites.
Sitting Council members like Mr. Smith have shown a tendency to favor developers who drop big money into campaigns consider the 550,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex at Gallery Place, next to MCI Center, a project co-developed by Herbert S. Miller and the John Akridge Companies. The Post article "Money with Ties to Miller" (8/30/98) listed Millers $5,000 in campaign gifts, through various corporate partnerships, to Smiths reelection. (The other shoe drops: The Common Denominator reported in July on the current pressure on Chinatown businesses to ship out.) Columbia Heights residents and small businesses will have to fight like hell to keep their neighborhood and its ethnic and economic diversity. Meanwhile, the rest of DC faces the same threat of cumulative "domino" development, as the new MCI arena, proposed convention center, ballpark, suburban-style shopping centers, and other theme park schemes draw new freeways into DC, increase congestion and pollution, drain the urban economy, offer only low-level or outsourced jobs, and displace residents.
Ticketed and Chagrined
Any advice on a parking ticket we got for failing to remove an expired sticker? We plead guilty; the new, valid zone 3 sticker resided just above the old, invalid one on our windshield. After ten years of living dangerously, we finally got caught. How does one contest by mail? Just use the address on the back of the ticket?
Law Suit to be Filed
On Monday September 14th at 11am, 58 Residents of DC will be filing suit against the United States for violating their Constitutional Right to true Congressional Representation.
In addition, the DC Corporation Council will be joining in the suit, representing all 550,000 plus DC residents in this suit. The law firm of Covington and Burling is representing the fifty-eight residents, which represent a cross-section of the entire city. The suit is based on the Constitutional principle of "one man, one vote" and not Statehood, which has failed before in court.
The one man, one vote theory has significant precedent and will be outlined in a December Harvard Law Journal article by American University Law Professor and longtime District advocate, Jamie Raskin. Eleanor Holmes Norton and others are lining up in support of the action. As you go to "vote" Tuesday, remember that you are one of the very few US citizens denied representation in Congress, which has almost total control over the District. For more information on this issue and lawsuit feel free to e-mail me.
Live-in Caregiver Wanted
Liv- in caregiver for my father who lives in the Mt. Vernon area of Northern Virginia. Ive been exiled to the burbs until we find someone. Should speak clear English; does not need to drive. Someone with some training and a certificate (Home Health Aide or Certified Nursing Assistant) would be nice, but compassion, intelligience, reliability, maturity, and common sense are probably the most important qualities. If you know of someone, or can recommend a good agency, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Recent College Grad Seeks Public Interest Position
An acquaintance who recently graduated with a B.A. in political science is seeking full-time public interest employment, preferably in the area of human rights or the environment. She is a committed social activist with a gentle manner, and is a natural for public interest work, . She is fluent in Japanese, has spent time in Washington, and is ready to come here from Boston. Please call me about available positions; (301) 495-4300. Thanks.
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Bicycle Swap Meet
The Citybikes Mountain Bike Team is having a swap meet 9/19/98 from 10-4 pm outside of Citybikes 2501 Champlain St. NW (Adams Morgan). If you are interested in selling bike stuff, 1/2 tables are $5 full tables are $10, plus 10% of sales (honor system). Show up an hour early at 9 am to sign up for a table.
Proceeds to benefit the team. If you are interested in buying bike stuff, there is a $3 suggested donation that will enter you into a raffle to win a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag. We will be giving away three bags.
Two Tickets for FOOTLOOSE
Two Tickets for FOOTLOOSE, the new Broadway-bound musical based upon the successful film, are available. Kennedy Center Opera House, Thursday, September 17, 1998 at 8:00 p.m. Orchestra BB 6 & 8. Actual ticket price + Kennedy Center Handling = $63.25 ea. Sold as set only. Cash, $126.50. Call to purchase, leave voice mail, promptly answered.
Kitchen Renovation Sale
Cast iron kitchen sink with drain board $100 obo [or best offer]
Existant Record Albums!!!
I have 300+ record albums for which I would like to find good homes. Most of them are in MINT condition. They range from Motown to show tunes, Paul Anka to Beatles to Mamas and the Papas. If anyone is interested or knows anyone who is interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me during the day at 202-362-4433, ext. 121
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