Overheard in the Confessional
I confess, I let MarthaNS2 get away with an unsigned message in this
issue, because she's just asking for book donations for the Tenleytown library book sale.
Kids, don't try this yourselves. Signed messages only, please. (And MarthaNS2, that goes
for you, too, next time.)
A lot of other people should be confessing their sins this week. What is
the most poisonous thing about politics in DC? It isnt governmental inefficiency. It
isnt waste. It isnt even fraud and corruption. Its the ever present
exploitation of race and racial division in order to preserve a government of waste,
fraud, inefficiency, and corruption.
The preeminent practitioner of racist politics in DC, His Honor the Mayor,
Marion S. Barry, Jr., was at it again this week, creating mischief by saying that he
wouldnt support two Democratic Party candidates who were elected in the primaries
because they were white. Its my own view that the council ought to reflect the
diversity of the city, Barry said.
The Mayor isn't the person who should be making amends this week, however.
He's beyond shame on this issue, as on so many others. The people who should be
apologizing to Washingtonians are all the other politicians in DC, whose weak-kneed,
timid, and frightened response to the Mayors provocation was embarrassing.
On Friday, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Democratic Mayoral nominee
Tony Williams appeared at a unity press conference with the Democratic Council primary
winners Linda Cropp, Sharon Ambrose, Kathy Patterson, Phil Mendelson, Vincent
Orange, and Jim Graham. They issued this weasally statement, in its entirety: We run
together as Democrats committed to uniting our city. The voters have rejected race as an
issue in this campaign and so do we. We reaffirm the Democratic Partys commitment to
All the candidates mouthed platitudes about how race isnt an issue
in this election, but not one of them had the courage and integrity to mutter a single
word of criticism of Barry and his bigotry. To escape taking a principled stand against
racism, poor Phil even had to pretend that he didnt understand what Barry had said:
[W]hat I thought he was saying is that he wants to be sure of all the
candidates views, and I think that's fair, Phil said.
Barry must be laughing at all of them, and at all of us. The man is
temporarily out of politics, and will be out of office by January. But even in his
weakened position, not one of the wannabe movers and shakers in DC politics has shown that
he or she has the guts to confront him directly even when he is at his most
outrageous and unforgivable.
If this crowd is all Marion Barry has to worry about, then we can be sure
that he hasnt retired. Hes just taking a vacation. When four years have
expired, and the technocrats have cleaned up the mess he has made, balanced the books, and
brought both reliable money and self-rule back to the government of the District of
Columbia, the benefits will be reaped by the Mayor-for-Life, who can step back into the
2002 election to reclaim the office he will still own. Why should anybody stand up to him
then, when theyre afraid to now?
Oh, well, if they dont care, why should we? Anybody know any good
new (or neglected old) neighborhood restaurants or bars? Been to the Van Gogh exhibit yet?
How is it? And what about this weather? Isnt it lovely, but don't we need some rain?
The Fat Lady Hasnt Sung
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
The battle has been won for Tony Williams but the war is not over. In past
years winning the Dem Primary was tantamount to being elected in November. These are
strange times and one should look at the numbers. Tony got more than 60 percent of his
votes from only three wards (1, 2, and 3). With everyone breathing a sigh of relief there
could well be a let down and apathy toward the November elections. For sure there will
likely be fewer voters in the November election since many who did not vote for Williams
may not vote at all. Others, sensing that there is no real competition, may not vote again
for Tony. Carol Schwartz has been here in the District for a very long time (no she was
not a waitress at the Last Supper) and very active in local politics for a large part of
that time. Carol has both exposure and name recognition in the traditional Barry wards and
has garnered substantial votes from those heavily Democratic wards.
The message is clear. If you supported Tony Williams in the Primary, do it
again in November. There should be no long relaxation in the Williams' camp since they
have much work to do to assure that the voters come out again in November. Tony should be
working the other five wards hard and then put on a final surge in Wards 1,2, and 3 to
assure a final victory with support from all the wards. All the candidates who ran deserve
a hearty round of applause. Campaigning is very hard (second only to fund raising).
Was anyone else appalled by Kevin Chavous and his campaign manager after
the primary results were in? Listening to his campaign manager rant about the unfairness
of a newcomer winning, and Chavous himself trying to play kingmaker as if his endorsement
was going to make a huge difference in Novembers outcome, it confirmed my feeling
that my neighbors across the Potomac made a good choice on Tuesday... and that Chavous is
just what he appears to be, a big noise with nothing behind it. For a city that needs good
government, not more empty rhetoric, Chavous loss is good news indeed.
A Candidate's Concession
Greg Rhett, email@example.com
Thanks to the many friends and supporters of my first official
endeavor into DC Politics. This was a tremendous experience and I look forward to
continuing to be of service to our great city. After a bit of R&R, I'll be
seeing many of you as we continue the fight to improve the quality of living in our great
I particularly want to thank Mike Powell for his show of integrity and
understanding. And Deborah Simmons for her prayers and encouragement along the way.
Go Phil!! I'm with you all the way! I strongly encourage all good
Democrats to give your support to this fine nominee.
Laughing with the Elections
Dan Parker, firstname.lastname@example.org
While I hate to see all the dollars wasted on the primaries, I did note
that the finalists were: Williams, Chavous, Evans and Brazil. And where was blowhard
Gildenhorn. Not 5th, but sixth, at least in the WP tally I saw. Someone beat him by a vote
(248 v 247).
Summer Youth Programs
Mike Hill, email@example.com
As Carl Bergman states, there are many programs in DC government that need
to be cut. Summer Youth Works is definitely not one of them. It seems that many readers of
Themail advocate a scorched earth policy with all programs and initiatives
from the Barry era. Some of these programs actually contain good ideas, and simply need a
change of management or focus.Summer Youth Works employs lots of kids in their first
meaningful job experience. Some job sites focus on basic job skills and maintenance, while
others are office clerical. It's important to remember that, despite anyones lofty
aspirations, those entry level, low skill jobs are how young people get introduced to the
working world. In addition, Summer Youth Works has the support of many law firms and other
local businesses who provide training, job sites, management of summer interns, etc.
because they believe in this program. Finally, Youth Employment Services has at least two
sites that offer innovative training; a performing arts job site at Carter-Barron
Amphitheater, and a project with Manna CDC and the National Building Museum focusing on
training in design, community development, and sustainability. Many people would say,
why are we paying kids to learn? Most of those same people get paid leave or
comp time for professional development, or they automatically qualify for pay raises.
Another point is that its hard to prove a negative. Will we ever
know how many kids didn't get pregnant, do drugs, or commit a crime because of some
training or experience they got in summer Youth Works? Not likely, although studies show
that keeping young people occupied during off-time (after school, summer) reduces the
crime rate somewhat. Perhaps Mr. Bergman should try keeping just one kid out of trouble,
gainfully employed, and paid for a summer before he suggests that a program like this is
Pulling a Fast One on Fast Food
Paul Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
A newly formed committee of the Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association is
investigating what efforts can be implemented to stop the myriad fast food outlets from
locating along the historic U Street Corridor. Our newest threat is Papa Johns; I know
Georgetown and Arlington successfully fought to keep them out; anyone out there with
practical knowledge on the subject? The committee is concerned that these types of
restaurants do not offer unique or quality attraction for the emerging
corridor, and in fact may detract potential visitors from patronizing many of the cool,
sleek and urban nightspots and restaurants already in place. We are gathering ammunition
on every aspect (zoning, historic preservation review, hearings, etc.) and would welcome
any thoughts; or involvement! Next meeting Wed, Sept. 30 at 7 pm at ERICO at 1334 U Street
(upstairs). Call Emeka at 265-2499 for more information.
The Pied Piper Where Are You?
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
Washington, like most cities has rats. You may rationalize that they are
bald squirrels with no tails, but they are, indeed, rats. This year there seems to be an
over abundance of them in and around the Spring Valley Shopping Center area. I have seen
them as far away from there crossing the street in Broad daylight on 45th and Alton Place.
Curious to find out why these critters seem so abundant of late (including bold evening
forays into my roomies garden to eat the tomatoes) I walked over to the alley behind Super
Fresh and CVS. It was not too startling to see the abundance of overflowing edible garbage
from the overfilled and wide open dumpsters.
I have registered complaints with both CVS and Super Fresh in an effort to
get them to make the edible trash secure from these pests. I hope they will undertake a
rat control program before things get worse in the hood.
I noticed this morning that Park Rd. between Mt. Pleasant St. and Klingle
Rd. is in the midst of a total overhaul. One lane has been completely excavated with the
other lane being used for one-way traffic. While the sight of any public works activity in
DC is the cause for celebration, this one puzzles me since the pavement on the still-open
lane does not appear to be in such bad shape. There are other roads (e.g. Porter St.) in
much worse condition. The cynical side of me (some would say the only side) wonders if
Park Rd. moved to the top of the list when Camille Barnett bought a house there. If so, I
know of a few streets in my neck of the woods where residents would gladly welcome her as
I deleted the latest issue of themail so I do not know who wrote the piece
about the UDC School of Law but I wish to comment on his/her reporting. I tried to find
the article cited, but was unable to easily do so. (To set the record straight, I was in
the first DCSL class (1991) and I passed the DC bar exam on my first try.)
The first time bar pass rate at DCSL was low for a while but I am not sure
it was ever at 10%. Also, most graduates don't take the DC bar, they take other bar exams
and waive into DC. Did the article writer look only at the DC Bar or Bar passage in
general? Next, the DC bar has an historically low pass rate for first time takers. Last,
but probably most important, there is no measure I know of which relates good lawyering
with passing the bar exam the first time! A lot of bad lawyers pass it on first try and a
lot of good ones don't .That's why most jurisdictions allow you to keep on taking the
The UDC Law School provides a solid legal education for it's students and
those who graduate come out knowing how to practice law since they are required to take
clinical courses. The school, through these clinics, provides many needed legal services
to traditionally underserved and never served DC populations.
I know it costs money to keep educational institutions open but I'd rather
see a University flourish than a convention center built which will be outdated and too
small before it even opens and which will do nothing for the same people who are being
served by the DC School of Law. (I may be mixing apples and oranges a bit as I no longer
live in DC and don't follow the money trails anymore...but I think you get my point.)
A Moat Away From Impeachment
Mark David Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking of impeachment, it seems that during the Jeffersonian era the
executive branch kept their distance from the legislative to avoid such matters. According
to James Sterling Young, author of The Washington Community 1800-1820, the
executive and legislative ruling establishment separated themselves and stayed apart in
two separate village communities that were bisected by a natural moat, the River Tiber. It
was a 11/2 mile, three hour round trip through a wilderness full of viny thickets
and virtually uninhabited moors. Neither community was much interested in bridging
the two, thus Pennsylvania Avenue remained a desolate country road, where
every turn of your wagon wheel... is attended with danger. Flash floods and
spring tides made the avenue impassable altogether... Georgetown was a satellite
village of the executive community, mostly for consumer goods and services. Each ruling
community had their own village religious services, with vanity and corruption of power as
favored themes. The President never appeared in the legislative community except for
inauguration and on the day of adjournment. Young writes that The unwritten rule
against executive trespassing on the Hill was mutually advantageous, a legislator
explained to a bemused Englishman: No one unless he were of cast-iron, could possibly
stand the badgering to which an official man would be exposed... [and] if our men in
office were called upon, like your ministers, to answer, viva voce, questions put by
members... the issue in every case would probably be an impeachment, or such a torrent of
invectives as no man could bear up against... Young calls it patterned
avoidance. Maybe the federal community should rethink that moat idea... Is anyone
aware of recent studies showing the residential living patterns of the federal community
where do the transients live/cluster now?
Steph Nonsmoker Faul, email@example.com
Your correspondent Charlie Wellander should consider Richard Armours
amplification of Rudyard Kiplings comment on cigars. Given the nature of several
current events, it seems particularly appropriate:
A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke
Though a womans not made of tobacco, shes often the butt of the joke.
The Friends of the Tenleytown Library will hold a book sale on Saturday
and Sunday, October 4-5, from 11-4 pm at the Tenleytown library (Wisconsin Avenue and
Albemarle Street, NW) Book donations are being accepted at the library daily.
Need Help With Your Computer Needs At Home Or In
Nick Chang, firstname.lastname@example.org (202.237.0130)
PC 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; Reasonable rates. Excellent references.
Fall is the best time for planting trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs and
to repair the damage from summer's drought. Let Storybook Farms create beautiful outdoor
spaces for your home, with rock gardens, ponds, waterfalls, hardscapes, outdoor lighting,
watering systems, patios, and fences. Quality designs, installations, maintenance of
garden spaces. Now offering power washing sidewalk, driveway, concrete wall and wood deck
cleaning. Many satisfied The Mail readers as clients. DC area: contact
email@example.com. Piedmont Virginia area contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Both
locations call 1-800-821-6160.
CLASSIFIEDS FREE TO GOOD HOME
Just a reminder that its not too late to try to win a free pair of
passes to the 1998 Washington Home Design and Garden Show, being held at the Washington
Convention Center September 25-27. Ive chosen a number between 1 and 1000 and
submitted that number to Herr Diskussionsleiter for safekeeping; all you need to do is
guess that number! Send your guess to email@example.com
. Entries will be accepted through Tuesday, September 22; the name of the winner will be
published in the September 23 edition of themail@dcwatch. Good luck!
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Unique item for the home that has everything! Hand carved oak confessional
(yes, one of those things in churches where you confess your sins to a priest) c. 1880,
measuring approx. 6 x 5 x 10. Rescued from the Church of St. Charles in Algiers, Algeria.
$2000/OBO. Call Tony @ 202-363-2470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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