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October 14, 1998

themail before Indian Summer

Dear Penpals:

John B. Talmadge, , tells me that the phrase "Indian Summer" refers only to warm, summer-like days that occur after the first frost, not to any warm and summery day in autumn. Thanks for the correction and instruction. I'm only surprised that nobody wrote that it was a racial smear and demanded that I retract it. Lee Perkins, , sent a very informative (and long, so not reproduced in this issue) message to Renee, giving a lot of useful information about researching college scholarships, and a couple more informative posts are included below. The mayoral election, schools, and (you'll be surprised to know) the convention center are issues, and Rob Fleming suggests enhancing the powers of ANC's, instead of just taking all the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions out to the middle of the bay and seeing if they can swim with concrete blocks chained to their ankles.

You'll be glad that you stuck with the motto contest this long — Ms. Persiflage and Mark Richards each sent in a bunch of entries, and several other gentle correspondents sharpened their pens, or honed their keyboards, to uplift and amuse us.

Gary Imhoff


A Vote for Schwartz
Beth-Ann F. Gentile,

Here's a simple reason to vote for Carol Schwartz over Tony Williams in the D.C. mayoral election: Do we really want to vote for someone whose first act as the Democratic nominee for Mayor was to seek, and receive, the endorsement of Marion Barry? With endorsers like that, who needs voters? 


Job L Dittberner,

I was disappointed by both mayoral candidates dumping on Camille Barnett as reported in the Post last week and pleased to see that the Post covered her new report to Congress. Unfortunately, she can't work miracles, and it is easy to lay blame at whim. This city has suffered from neglect of almost every public service for so long that it is obviously going to take some time to straighten things out. My impression was that neither candidate had much of a grasp of what has been done, is being done, and what her priorities are. And I hope someone can soon get to Tony Williams about strategic planning, which he reportedly called "mumbo jumbo." Surely we want more than the intermittent ad hocery characteristic of past operations. Strategic planning is the only way to beyond it.


Disposition of Old Childrens Hospital Site
Paul Williams, VP CSNA,

As many of you know, the disposition of the city-owned Children's Hospital Site (an entire square bordered by 12,V, 13th, and W Streets, NW) is scheduled to be presented at a hearing before the DCHD on Oct 28th. The actual abandoned old hospital on the site was torn down last summer utilizing a federal grant, and the site has been cleared. Donatelli & Klein, the developer who was awarded the exclusive rights to develop after a 1996 RFP, presented plans for a combined grocery store and townhouse development at the September ANC 1B and Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association (CSNA) Meetings.

October meetings of the ANC and CSNA occur this week, and the Developer will present a new proposal for the site that includes townhouse development with no grocery store. We need to hear what you think! Please plan to attend one or both of these meetings, and voice your opinions and concerns! If you can't, send me an Email or post to themail! ANC: Wednesday, 7 pm, Reeves Municipal Building at 14th and U Streets, second floor meeting room. CSNA: Thursday, 7 pm, Augustana Lutheran Church at 2100 New Hampshire Ave.


Accountability and Great Weight
Rob Fleming,

Most readers of TheMail (in Chicago DaMail) will probably agree that there is a serious gap in accountability for performance by city agencies, especially in service delivery at the grass roots. Readers may also be aware that the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are supposed to provide feed back to the Mayor, City Council, and agency heads on the effectiveness of laws, regulations, and programs (including service delivery) and the need for new ones. City agencies are supposed to give "great weight" to the opinions of the ANCs, but in practice do not, perhaps because they are so inert that they can't change no matter who tells them what to do, or perhaps because the ANCs have no "great weight" of their own, only advisory powers.

What if a substantial part of the salary every first-level supervisor (from garbage collectors to PSA sergeants) who was responsible for service delivery to a given geographic area was dependent in part on performance ratings from the ANCs representing his or her service area. As a check, the ANCs rating could be, say, up to one third of the rating score, the second-level supervisor's could be one third, and some objective performance measure could be one third. All of these would be evaluated by a third-level supervisor, who could over-rule any of the rating factors for cause (evaluatee was new on the job, extreme factors beyond the control of the evaluatee, etc.), but only if those reasons were put in writing and subject to review (under FOIA, but without any exemptions and with a timeliness factor) and appeal by the ANC and others (such as the Council committee with oversight).

Such a system would provide the feedback needed to manage complex operations in turbulent times that is provided by customer decisions in a market economy and program evaluation in a well run bureaucracy, neither of which apply in DC at the moment. It would give the ANCs some practical weight and might make the bureaucracy more responsive. With a way to make real change for the better, ANC members would not have the frustration and burnout that now keeps good people from running for a powerless position or quitting after serving a few terms (I blame my two broken teeth on the frustration of serving three terms on the ANC). Mid-level agency heads would get real feedback on which to evaluate their employees, and first-line supervisors would have incentives to manage for results. The Council would also get feedback from the grass roots in a structured way that they do not have the resources to gather on their own, and could use in their oversight function. They could even implement a similar system in which, under their budgetary authority, they could mandate that no mid-level or senior supervisor would get more than a percentage of their base salary in performance bonuses unless some percentage of the ANC's rated their service acceptable or better. 


College Options
Mary Filardo,

During the next year, the District should work on an addendum to the Revitalization Package that includes education. The last one had not a word to say about it. It would include such state functions as capital funds for buildings, operating funds -- average state share of education operating costs is around 50% and one which could be started on now is access to higher education for District of Columbia high school graduates. The simple version of the higher ed opportunities would go something like this:

PROBLEM: Any high school graduate who resides in DC currently has only ONE higher education option that is affordable, that is UDC. In any other state there is a land grant university -- the University of Md type, plus state colleges, plus community colleges -- all meant to be affordable to the residents of the state and more expensive to others.

SOLUTION: Congress can designate that residents of DC are entitled to in-state tuition status in any state university or college. Students would have to meet all of the admissions standards and there would have to be some DC related residency requirements. States could be reimbursed by feds -- like a Pell grant or some other such existing payment mechanism.

The effect of this may be more than just making it possible for students such as Renee from Coolidge to go to college, which is important enough, but it gives DC students a greater sense of possibility which may actually improve the quality of education in DC public schools.


College Scholarship Information on the Web
Jill Bogard,

In response to the college bound student in search of tuition assistance, a good source of information is . This page is sponsored by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and provides a free, comprehensive guide to student financial aid.


Scholarships, Watch Repairs, and Other Needed Items
M.A. Siegel,

There are some great resources here in DC for students looking for scholarship assistance -- first, the College Resource Information Center at the Martin Luther King Library, staffed with experts all day every day; the Foundation Center at 1001 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 938, has directories including one of scholarships for individuals and student aid information. Mentors Inc and several other college assistance programs, as well as the Black Student Fund, can also be of help.

Watch repair — try the jeweler on Connecticut near Macomb — they've done simple repairs for me quite well.

And for the ailing printer — I just found that repair of most printers costs more than replacement -- good luck  I can recommend computer consultants and HP repair people — but am not a Mac person.

Can anyone recommend an e-mail program that has spell check? My computer, which just was wonderfully treated and repaired, runs on windows 3.1, so I can't use any of the newest fanciest programs. Thanks.


Watch Repair
Jim Steck,

Regarding a good place for watch repair, I've had good luck at Gold N Time watch repairs above Dupont Circle at the corner of Connecticut and S Streets.


Let's Pull Together for our Schools
Randy Wells,

Could we stop beating each other over the head about the convention center? There are many talented, committed, capable and effective community activists on *both* sides who have spent umpteen time, money and effort either in favor or in opposition to this proposal.

Now would be a great time to redirect that in a common effort to build and rebuild the public schools. A $1 billion capital project (as suggested by Sarah Woodhead & 21st Century School Fund) is not an unreasonable city-wide project — provided we fully engage community members, business and non-profit folks, Congress — even DC Public Schools and the local government. Imagine what we could accomplish pulling together, instead of tearing one another apart? 


Convention Center Budget
Dana Cole,

I attended an information forum hosted by the Washington, D.C. Association of Urban Bankers, the topic of which was development in the District. Jay Greene, CFO of the Washington Convention Center Authority, detailed the budget for the convention center as follows:

Guaranteed construction maximum price of $500.6 million; soft costs (land & demolition; environmental impact studies and hazardous material remediation; architectural, engineering and other consultants; insurance; community impact mitigation) of $97.1 million; equipment costs of $22.3 million; and a contingency of $30 million. The contingency costs cover any design changes, owner changes and unforeseen conditions. I imagine that a heating system, an air conditioning system, a kitchen, a telecommunications system, and other "finishing touches" could be purchased with the contingency budget. The Mount Vernon Metro Station will be expanded by WMATA using a $25 million appropriation it will receive through DC's FY99 Appropriations Bill. Utility relocations will be funded by the DHCD through at $10 million Federal Community Development Block Grant. This information was published and distributed to the people attending the meeting.


Whence Carnegie Library?
Nick Keenan,

Gary Imhoff missed one item in his detailed list of additional expenses for the proposed convention center: cost shifting. The construction is going to impose uncounted costs on other departments — DPW, DCRA, police, the library. The Library? Well, the Convention Center Authority is planning to use the historic Carnegie Library, owned by the DC Library, as construction headquarters to avoid having to rent space. In the spirit of nondisclosure that has characterized the entire process, this fact has been kept secret — even the Council hasn't been told about it yet.

I'm sorry if Leslie Miles thinks we're beating a dead elephant by continuing to discuss the proposed convention center. Bear in mind that if built it will be the most expensive construction project in the history of the District. However, there has been little meaningful debate, due to the lack of information — even the most basic facts, like how much it is going to cost and where the money is coming from, are anyone's guess. I oppose the plan, and I feel that the facts support my position, so I welcome discussion and openness. The fact that the Convention Center Authority and its boosters have consistently held a position of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Question, Don't Disclose" speaks volumes about their true feelings about the project.


All That Skitters is Not Rats
Lorie Leavy,

To Ed Barron and his rat patrol, a word of caution. Rats aren't the only wildlife that frequent AU Park yards. There are also birds, mice, moles, gray squirrels, opossums, raccoons, and perhaps flying squirrels, most of which are either small enough or clever enough to defeat a brick maze. Even if you're not concerned about the fate of any of the foregoing, consider that a poisoned mouse or squirrel could make its way to a neighboring yard and there be eaten by someone's dog or cat. If I had a rat problem I felt compelled to act upon, I'd probably invest in a catch-and-release trap (and let 'em loose in Virginia — right, Jeff?). But if poison must be used, I think it would be far more prudent to confine it to the source of the problem — i.e., the dumpsters of the Spring Valley Shopping Center.


E. James Lieberman, M.D., 202 362-3963,

The story I heard is that Gildenhorn's "American Way" picture was excused from the no billboard rule because it's not a billboard. But his campaign billboard presumably is a billboard. Go figure.

[Taylor Simmons,, also asks why a sign that had been exempted from regulation as a billboard because it was classified as art should not be reclassified when it is changed to a pure billboard. Good question.]


Ms. Persiflage's Mottos
Ms. Persiflage,

Ms. Persiflage sends her best wishes and congratulates you on keeping the flame alive for this moderated newsgroup, or whatever such things are called these days. May she offer a few candidates for our enduring motto? 

"Sic Semper Vobis" probably leads Ms. P's list. It says it all, and fits in marvelously with her earlier suggestion for a permanent cast of the 19th Street pothole...

"Male Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala," which has of course been true, and has the added benefit of the sonorous consonance and modern reference of the "bad" to the "apples."

Or we could go Greek, as it were, and borrow from Thucydides' description of his classic "Peloponnesian War" history — "Ktema Es Aei" ("A Possession Forever," I believe). This is Ms. Persiflage's singular concession to the home rule crowd.

Back to Latin, "Bello In Jus" pops up ever so often, especially in the news.

"Washington D.C. — Lusus Naturae!"

And the censorious : "Nihil Obstat"

Or the hopeful: "Nil Desperandum"

Or very pessimistic: "Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit"

Perhaps the Republican: "Nolo Contendere"

Or the more currently Democratic: "Non Compos Mentis" (Dare we hope for "Nolo Episcopari" soon?).

But perhaps Ms. Persiflage is going down the wrong path here presuming to use the traditional Latin or Greek motto. After all, we are not dedicating the grand opening of the Duomo in Firenze here, are we! Turning to her French heritage instead, and her oh-so-modern sense of "Je ne sais quoi," and away from her last Latin phrase from a long-ago affaire d'amour with a tow-headed fraternity boy whose motto was "Ubi Dubitas...In Ex Flagellas," which he understood to express the very modern attitude of "When in doubt....Whip it out," Ms. P. might offer a bon mot or two for your august consideration.

There's the quite obvious: "De Pis En Pis"

And although Mr. Barry will thankfully/hopefully be gone soon, the other obvious: "L'etat C'est Moi"

The more tentative, and perhaps political: "Les Jeux Sont Faits"

The hopeful: "Tout Vient a Qui Sait Attendre"

The sarcastic: "Washington, D.C. — Folie de Grandeur"

And, of course, the ubiquitous, and probably (after all) best choice: "Comme Ci, Comme Ca..."

A tout ta'


E. James Lieberman, M.D., 202 362-3963,

"Viagra Falls" — or, "Bill Clinton lied here."


Sarah Layton,

DC — District of Culture


What's a Meta-for, Anyway?
Charlie Wellander,

Concerning the motto contest, a new contributor to themail states "I suppose it's a half-empty/half-full issue..." and asks "Are there any positive mottos out there?" This aspect of DC life was beautifully summarized way back in December of 1996. In a Washington Post story on the situation at the DC morgue, acting medical examiner Humphrey D. Germaniuk was quoted: "A couple months ago, the glass was half-empty. Now, the glass is half-full due to the efforts of Mayor Barry." And Mayor Barry added: "This is a miracle. It took me coming over here and saying, 'I'm going to get it done.'"

In a similar can-do spirit of creative perspective (it's all in how you look at it), I propose this positive motto:

"DC: Not More Than Half-Full of It"


Positive Motto
Jessica Vallette,

Unfortunately, I'm not much of a motto maker, but I do want to let everyone know that despite everything, I LOVE living in DC. I can bike to work in 5 minutes or walk in 20. I can walk to a good restaurant in 5 minutes or ride the metro to Clarendon and get some good Vietnamese soup in 30 minutes. (I would like to gripe that I can't go see an Artsy film anymore tho. I don't own a car and haven't since I moved here in 1993.)

How about this, "Living here is efficient." or "DC is For Friends" Both reference the number of hours suburbanites spend in their cars breathing fumes away from family and friends.


Motto Improvements
Jeffrey Hops,

I came up with a revision of my own suggested motto, which (I think) is an improvement:

"10,000 potholes in search of congressional representation."

or, a propos our vermin problem:

"1 million rats in search of congressional representation"


"5,000 snoozing policemen in search of congressional representation."

The possible variations are endless, limited only by the boundaries of the human imagination.


Federal District Motto Mishmash
Mark Richards,

D.C. — America's First Doormat
D.C. — Crossroads of All Feuds
D.C. — First to Get the Feds, Last to Get Democracy
D.C. — The Federal Kingdom
D.C. — Only Place in the Galaxy Where You Lose Your Equal Constitutional Rights
D.C. — Where One Learns The Truth About America Firsthand!
D.C. — America's Constitutional Contradiction
D.C. — Where Politics Takes Precedence Over Principle
D.C. — Where Your Vote Still Doesn't Count
D.C. — Proof That The Vote Doesn't Matter
D.C. — Don't Move Here If You Want Equal Constitutional Rights
D.C. — Subsidizing the Nation with Pride for 200 Years!
D.C. — A Miners Delight!
D.C. — You Don't Have to Live There To Be In Charge!
D.C. — Feudalism's Last Stand Against Democracy
D.C. — Where the Role Creates the Character
D.C. — Protest Capital of the World
D.C. — Civil Rights Safe Zone
D.C. — Urban Haven from Suburban Social Pressure
D.C. — Our Home, Your Home Away from Home
D.C. — Our Story is Still Being Written
D.C. — America's Democracy Capital
D.C. — We Live Here Because We Love It



John Eaton Block Party, October 17, 1998
Leila Afzal, Leila.Afzal@Noaa.Gov

Join us for a day of fun at the John Eaton Elementary School Block Party. We are located at 34th and Lowell Streets, NW. The festivities begin at 11:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. There are games and challenges for children of all ages. There will be plenty of food and treats to delight even the most discriminating palate. See you there!



For Sale — Must pick up by October 22
Cindy Butler,

Steel file cabinet, almond, 5 drawer, legal. Excellent condition. $75. Loft Bed Store platform bed. Full size. Beech/black. No tools needed for assembly. Frame only. $50. Container Store Elfa Desk. 30" x 60". Gray Laminate top, white legs. $45. 8' folding banquet table. $15. Everything must go! Make an offer. Call (202)483-5784 — will be off email after October 19.

Still for Sale
Jessica Vallette,

2, 50s style white metal kitchen cabinets $75 for both (available within 2 weeks) ceiling fan $10, Ross fat tire women's bike $10, cast iron sink (needs to be refinished) $50. Other stuff that we find as we move into our new kitchen. Everything is also best offer. You have to haul it out.



Toy and car seat donations wanted
Jessica Sherman,

Social Worker working for a non-profit agency is seeking donations of like new toys for what will be a play room and car seats to transport children (all sizes would be greatly appreciated). In addition, I am looking for paint and paint supplies (if anyone has any ideas). Please contact QGQZ60D@PRODIGY.COM


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