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September 30, 1998

Lotta Motto Issue

Dear Correspondents:

This issue continues the discussion of city services, or lack of them, and of the upcoming general election. Can we get any comments on the third (fourth, and fifth) party and independent candidates in any of the races, or on Republicans aside from Schwartz? Does anyone have any strong feelings about any of them? In the Mayor’s race, which is undoubtedly the most hotly contested race, can anyone submit any examples, beyond contentions, of how and whether Anthony Williams was an effective CFO, or Carol Schwartz an effective Councilmember?

The no-prize motto contest is going very well. For those of you just tuning in, here is our story so far: I asked for submissions for a fitting city slogan or motto, something that could be printed on our flag. I suggested "No good deed goes unpunished." In the past few days, readers have come up with some upstanding alternative suggestions. In fact, this is doing so well that I’d like to keep it going. If you have more suggestions for the District of Columbia’s motto, please send them in. In the meantime, here are what we have so far, in order of reception:

"Corruptus in Extremis" — Shaun Snyder,
"District of Columbia — the Other Washington, DC" — Jeffrey Itell,
"We don’t get no respect" — Clare Feinson,
"Congress always liked your state better" — Clare Feinson,
"Frankly my dear, Congress doesn’t give a damn" — Clare Feinson,
"You’re in the wrong line" — Seth Morris,
"We can’t help you" — Seth Morris,

And William B. Menczer, improved on slogans from other American cities for our use:

Inspired by San Francisco, "The city by the stain"
Inspired by Chicago, "The city that doesn’t work"
Inspired by DC, "A Congressional City"
Inspired by NY, "The Big Pothole"
Inspired by Philadelphia, "City of unfulfilled love"
Inspired by Atlanta, "The Costume Jewel of the Mid-Atlantic"

Charlie Wellander also had a serious suggestion, which is reported separately below.

Gary Imhoff


Official Motto for DC
Charlie Wellander,

I agree that the District needs a "state motto" to represent its state (even if it’s not one, and doesn’t have that other kind of representation). We need something that looks to the need to fix what’s broken (if we *can* mend a city), while also encapsulating an important aspect of many years of "DCstories." So I propose "MEND A CITY" as our motto. (For the right aesthetic effect on our flag, proper spacing of the words is very important; otherwise our motto "just lies there.")


Notable Quotable
Lee Perkins,

"No Good Deed goes Unpunished" is vintage Dorothy Parker! Shame on you! Just because Gill quoted it unattributed doesn’t mean you have to!

[Lee: I still think it’s Brendan Gill’s original quote, although he did edit the Viking Portable edition of Dorothy Parker. You look it up; I’ll look it up; and I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. — Gary Imhoff]


Squeaky Wheels — Grease, or a New Wheel?
John Whiteside,

Reading Phil Greene’s comments about name dropping to get the city to do its job, I thought it was a good time to point out that it shouldn’t work that way, and in many places it doesn’t. In 1996, I received a notice of an unpaid parking ticket in Georgetown. The tag number matched that of a pickup truck that I’d traded in two months before the ticket was issued. The vehicle description was a brown Buick — not my gray Mazda pickup. I appealed by mail, pointing out that it wasn’t possible that this ticket was issued to my vehicle, and included copies of all paperwork related to trading in the vehicle and canceling the registration — the appeal was rejected without explanation. It took the involvement of my city councilor’s office — and about a year — to get the obvious mistake corrected. (Clearly the ticket writer got the tag number wrong — anyone could figure that out in about twelve seconds.)

I prepared for a repeat of this when I got a (legit) ticket in front of my local post office in Arlington. The ticket writer got the date wrong (writing 8/3 instead of 9/3) and I expected to be hit with a late payment fee and have to appeal. Surprise! In my mail appears a letter from the Arlington County Police, telling me that there was an error on the ticket, but that it was a valid ticket, and I had 30 days from the corrected date of 9/3 to pay it. Which I did. End of story. No appeal. No frustrated call to county board members. No name dropping.

When the government functions properly, your legislators don’t need to devote so much time to helping you deal with the bureaucracy. They can, instead, do their jobs. When a candidate talks about how they’ve helped constituents deal with District government ineptitude, ask yourself — and them — why they’re making an end run around it, instead of fixing it. You should demand nothing less.


DPW (continued)
Ralph Blessing (

Awhile back DPW announced that recycling would begin again in October. Well, that month has now arrived but still no further news about the program’s start date. Has anyone heard anything since the hoopla surrounding the announcement 2-3 months ago?

What goes with Nebraska Avenue between Connecticut and Nevada? The road and sewer work there seems unending. (Maybe it’s another Ken Starr project.) Does anyone know if the end of that obstacle course is anywhere in sight?


Schwartz and Williams, Leadership and Management
David S. Reed,

I don’t gainsay Jeff Itell (the bard of Cleveland Park) lightly, but his note on Carol Schwartz vs. Tony Williams misses some points. First, although Tony Williams scored some management accomplishments as Chief Financial Officer, it wasn’t such a remarkable performance considering the almost absolute power the Control Board handed him. Almost every State’s budget improved during the time Williams was CFO, as the bull market drove up tax revenue. In fact, considering the incredible waste of money during Williams’ tenure, on consultant studies that didn’t lead to any improvements in city agencies, it’s not clear that he was all that successful as a financial manager.

Second, no matter how high your opinion of Tony Williams as a manager, we are electing a Mayor — not a manager — and the jobs are different. A manager implements the policies of his higher-ups, such as the Control Board, using the power they give him. But a Mayor must create and maintain power by building consensus and support. Why was Mayor Barry nearly omnipotent until bankruptcy brought the Control Board, while Mayor Kelly was nearly powerless? Because the Mayor of DC must be a political leader to be effective. Carol Schwartz has shown her ability as a political leader. She overcame prejudice of race and party to win almost half the votes in the last Mayoral election. She has been as effective as any Councilmember, despite being the only Republican on the Council for most of the time; a less apt political leader would have been marginalized to irrelevancy.

To get better management in the city, we need a Mayor who is more than a manager. Carol Schwartz knows DC, from the voters to the politicos, and she can make things happen as Mayor. Tony Williams might develop that ability if he stays in DC politics for a decade or so.


Integrity, loyalty, AND performance = leadership
Mark Richards,

Jeffrey wrote that he is voting for accomplishment over "commitment," and mainly cited Barry’s poor record to explain his support for Mr. Williams (who, ironically, is supported by Barry). But, if one is voting for integrity, commitment, AND performance, one should vote for Mrs. Schwartz.

Mr. Williams was brought in by those governing to fill a very important professional management job, and by many measures his performance was outstanding. Now he wants to govern the city too. MAYBE he would be effective at governing-but he is short of experience in that area. In addition, he chose not to bother to vote in our elections, suggesting a lack of commitment to local self-government and a lack of civic responsibility. Just when IS a vote important? I know his people, dreaming of change, worked hard and sparked the imaginations of many citizens. And I like some of his ideas, including his concept of setting up a DC Democracy Trust. And, since, through the democratic process, our citizens "adopted" him in the Democratic Primary (slamming hometown Democrats), I don’t think we should beat the carpetbagger drum, but should welcome him to the city.

But I’m one Democrat who is not going to vote party, race, or gender. I’ll use my vote to reward the candidate who has the most governing experience, who has been toiling in these dysfunctional fields as an outsider (how much more outside can you get in DC than to be Republican?), and who has a strong performance record. As Mayor, Schwartz will work with the current authorities to hire more people with managerial qualifications like Anthony Williams to implement the reforms that will put DC on the right track in education, economics, and service while ALSO protecting our slow-but steady-progress toward achieving full republican guarantees to local self-government and representation in the national legislature enjoyed by other citizens. Barry may have betrayed us (maybe we should have learned more about him... and went to the polls...), but Carol Schwartz didn’t .She has integrity and she is loyal. She will increase public involvement-she knows the people, the issues, and can forge consensus. I don’t see why some of those who endorsed and voted for her previously should abandon her now. If anyone wants more info from Carol Schwartz, send an e-mail to or drop by her campaign office in Shaw. Let’s discuss the issues, may the best candidate win, and then let’s all pull together — that’s democracy.


Cole’s Cats
Cindy Butler,

I’m sure the kids love their feline freedom, but I wouldn’t let them roam anywhere in DC. Rats are everywhere (as is the poison that never seems to get to them, just innocent pets) and the feral cat population is undoubtedly carrying something deadly to their cousins. I’d keep them inside or build a screened-in kitty playhouse.


Faul’s Favorite Saxophonist
Cindy Butler,

His name is James, and a client of mine once hired him for a fundraising event. He was a hit, and at very reasonable cost. I guess the trick is finding him and confirming the gig, since I’ve seen him in various neighborhoods around DC.


About That Chain Link Fence
Gloria White,

In response to Mr. Hunter’s question about the improved condition of the field at UDC on Van Ness and the fence, UDC has an agreement with Maret School, an independent school in upper NW, to allow them use of this field. Maret is responsible for maintenance and upkeep (the explanation for the improved condition, etc.). Maret, and other independent schools, have similar arrangements at other DC fields as many of these schools do not have space for their own fields at the schools. Sorry to disappoint, but the city didn’t do the work. I don’t know the explanation for the fence unless it is simply to protect the grass.


Resignation and Succession
Robert Means,

While I agree with your correspondent’s assessment of the likelihood of Clinton’s resignation, he has many of the details wrong. The 22nd Amendment reads:

"No person shall be elected to the office of President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. . . ."

In concrete terms, this means that Gore would in no case be precluded from running for the presidency in 2000. However, should Gore succeed to the presidency before 12:00 noon on January 20, 1999 (i.e. the halfway point of Clinton’s second term, as fixed by the 20th Amendment), and subsequently be elected in 2000, he would be constitutionally ineligible to be reelected in 2004 (or ever). It’s a mistake to credit the founding fathers with foresight in this case. The 22nd Amendment was passed by a Republican Congress in 1947 as a way of getting posthumous revenge on FDR for beating them in four elections. Ironically, the first three presidents on whom it impacted were all Republicans — Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan.

[Similar observations were also sent by Jonathan Abram, ; Peter Luger, ; and Pat Bahn, .]


Kurt Vorndran,

On October 6th, the DC Council will begin consideration of a bill to consolidate the September and May elections held in presidential election years into one June date. [The bill is PR 12-725, available online at .] The intention of its proponents is to include the relatively low turnout primary election for the city council with the higher turnout election for political party offices, including delegates to the national conventions. Proponents concede that this creates the undesirable result of an extended lame duck period for defeated candidates (councilmembers rejected in a June primary would still have one-eight of their term to serve). However, many unanswered questions remain as to if this proposal will really boost turnout. In a letter to the Council, the Ward Three Democratic Committee raised the following issues:

1) As the bill has not reviewed by the DC Democratic or Republican parties, it is possible they will find it unworkable and choose to select their national convention delegates by caucus or convention. If the parties elect this option, the city will end up with a council primary in June but with no improvement in voter participation as the "draw" of presidential delegate selection will not be a factor. 2) The May primary is held on the same date as the Maryland presidential preference primary, bringing national campaigns into the Washington media market. Moving the DC primary to a date other than Maryland’s will result in less attention from the national campaigns and therefore not produce the higher turnout proponents expect. 3) The presidential delegate selection process draws a high turnout, suggesting significant voter interest in this process. Voters recognize this is their best chance to influence national politics given our lack of voting representation in Congress and the fact the presidential General Election has never been competitive in DC. With one third of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention selected after the primary but before the National Party’s deadline of June 24, this brief 17 day window may not be sufficient to complete the process and therefore could jeopardize the seating of one third of the DC delegation. 4) Why not move the primary for Delegate to the US House of Representatives from May to September in order to increase interest in the September primary? 5) Bill 12-282 would result in only a $63,000 annual savings to the DC government. Previously the Board of Elections and Ethics suggested that far greater savings could be achieved by making minor changes in the delegate selection process. Why have the Board and the Council not pursued a discussion on this matter? 6) As the only mainland state party with an African-American majority, presidential candidates have traditionally given DC attention greater than its delegation size would warrant because it presents an opportunity to test out campaign themes and policy proposals with African-American voters. Holding our primary at the very conclusion of the primary season will mitigate this factor.



Sidewalk Sale, Sunday, October 4
Ann Carper,

DC Strokes rowing club is sponsoring a sidewalk sale Sunday, October 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at JR’s Bar and Grill at 17th and Church Streets NW. Lots of good stuff: furniture, clothing, books, CDs and tapes, etc. For more information, contact Ann Carper, (202) 296-3234.


Work With DC’s Top Young Designers
Mike Hill,

How are we preparing today’s youth to take an active role in shaping the future of DC? The National Building Museum’s CityVision program offers students from five DC public schools the chance to promote positive change in their neighborhoods. CityVision uses the principles and products of design to teach young people visual literacy, local history, creative thinking, teamwork, and advocacy. Students participating in the program work with professional designers, artists, and engineers to assess their own neighborhoods, identify a problem, and design a solution.

The fall 1998 session of the CityVision program begins on Tuesday, October 20, 1998. The National Building Museum is seeking professionals and college students in the areas of design, art, engineering, and construction to volunteer for this award-winning project. To receive a written packet of information, including a volunteer application and curriculum outline, contact Mike Hill, Outreach Programs Coordinator, at: National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW, Washington, DC 20001, 202-272-2448 (voice), 202-272-2564 (fax),  —  


Dream Interpretation
Louis Lieb,

Anyone interested in dream interpretation? Get together with a small group once a month (first meeting Oct. 18, 6 PM in Takoma, DC) to share and discuss our dreams. Email Lou at for more details.



House Cleaner Wanted
Andrea Carlson,

Help with Housework — Can anyone recommend someone who might be willing to clean my smallish house near Logan Circle once every two weeks (on Wednesdays, preferably)? Will pay the going rate. Please call 202-797-1009 or email.



Looking for Apartment
A. Keck,

Prof. woman looking for studio or one-bedroom apartment in NW DC. (esp. Dupont/Mt. Pleasant/Adams Morgan area). My Mt. Pleasant home is being sold. Have many references for myself and for my well-trained small dog. Contact or call 202-326-7041. Thanks!


Seeking Temporary Apartment
Amy Goldman,

Family of three (Mom, Dad and 2 year old) seeking temporary housing while remodeling is done on our current residence. We live in AU Park, and would prefer to stay close to home, either in NW, Bethesda or Chevy Chase. We would like a temporary, furnished rental for three months, beginning in Oct., but are flexible on dates. Also willing to house-sit.


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