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October 21, 1998

Deja Vu All Over Again

Dear Fellow Trash Producers:

Recycling is being recycled in the District. Those for whom it is working well are pleased that it is working well, and the rest of us are wondering where it is working. So far themail has received messages from Cleveland Park and Capitol Hill saying that their neighborhoods have recycling bins. Here in Columbia Heights, no bins have been sighted, and the Department of Public Works recycling information number either remains busy or gives only a recorded message. Any more neighborhood reports?

Time grows short, and the general election nears. Support your favorite candidate and damn the rest in the next few issues of themail. Does anyone have any idea of whom to work for in school board elections? The group we elect to the Board of Education now will receive power back from the Emergency Transitional Education Board of Trustees. Education activists, please educate the voters on this list, so we have some idea who among the candidates is capable of exercising that power wisely.

I'd like to recycle a couple admonitions for postings to this list. This week I have had to return several messages either because they were too long or because they weren't signed. Please keep it brief — two short paragraphs is best — and please sign your names as well as your E-mail addresses. Finally, the suggestions for a state motto grow thin; the only submission in this issue comes from Richard Nixon. Please get your final motto proposals in soon, so we can end the contest, vote on the winner, and get the City Council to adopt it as the new official motto. Like that's going to happen.

Gary Imhoff


Over the Top with Mark Thompson
Ralph Blessing,

I've never posted before, but I'm so outraged over the Umoja party candidate for at-large councilmember, I needed to do something non-violent. Here the guy's a convicted wife beater, tax-evader, anti-Semite, and deadbeat dad . . . so of course, who endorses him, but none other than our mayor not-for-life and his supporters . . . if ever there was a reason to vote on November 3rd, it's so that Mr. Thompson won't wind up on the Council.


Give It A Rest
Carl Bergman,

Let's get a few things straight. Tony Williams is not an accountant. He's a financial manager and program administrator with a Harvard Law Degree. He didn't move here to be a local pol. He came to do a turn in the national bureaucracy and was drawn to the District. He didn't ask for the job. Remember his draft.

Williams is not another Barry. If you think he is, you'd believe Charlie Mason is in charge of the “plot.” If you're alarmed that the next mayor did not grow from local dirt, you might well consider Jimmy Carter's 1976 admonition, if all you're looking for is experience vote for Nixon.

It is time the disgruntled put aside the typical DC backbiting, and look at the kind of administration Williams intends to build. We should judge him on that, and not on his luggage tags.


Voting for Williams
Judith Rosenfeld,

The coming election is turning into a real problem for me. I know full well the dilemma Tony Williams faces when the likes of Rock Newman and the Barrys attach themselves (probably uninvited) to his mayoral campaign, but he has let it happen and payback time will surely come. I might have been able to dismiss — as repellent but politically expedient — the sight of Mr. Williams and entourage following a horn-tooting Rock Newman and an ebullient Marion Barry through Wards 7 and 8. But Mr. Williams has had plenty of time to disassociate himself from either one, and from the rest of the Barry crew, and he has
chosen to go along.

This week, Rock Newman hosted a radio talk show and (surprise!) invited Louis Farrakhan as his first guest. Last week, Marion Barry dropped his support for his old friend Hilda Mason to back for the City Council a Jew-baiting, wife beating Farrakhan follower who cheats on child support and doesn't pay taxes or parking fines. What is Barry's excuse for his support of Umoja Party candidate Mark Thompson? The present Mayor is shocked, shocked, at the very idea of a white majority City Council because it wouldn't reflect the fact that 62 percent of the District's residents are black. In fact, elections in the District of Columbia (and everywhere else short of, maybe, Krypton) are not run according to some cockamamie Proportional Representation system which assumes that we must factor in the phantom ballots of all the people who don't care to haul themselves down to the voting booths. I've been waiting for Tony Williams to point that out, or to figure out the effect of such an exercise in racist stupidity if it were to be applied to every jurisdiction in the country where white voters carry elections for black candidates.

Instead, we now have the Williams Ethics Pledge, designed, I suppose, to convince us that a Williams administration will hand out no appointments, mollify no lobbyists, and sponsor no legislation originating with Newman or Barry or their surrogates. And, of course, there is the oft referenced “Big Tent,” a seductive concept which promises inclusion to all citizens without fear, favor, or undue influence. Still, the Williams campaign has let a very smelly camel push its nose under the Big Tent. The part that doesn't yet show looks like the Barry Legacy to me, and I'm probably going to worry about that all the way to the ballot box.


Recycling and more
Ralph Blessing,

Despite my earlier grumbling on the subject, I must admit that recycling appears to be back on track — at least in our neighborhood. We got our new bins the first day they were being distributed (Oct. 5, I think), along with instructions on the do's and don't's of the program. Even better, they're reprinted on the side of the bin. And they actually tell us, finally, what to do with cereal boxes!

Recycling pickup is supposed to occur in the same location as garbage pickup. If the latter is curbside, then ditto for recycling. The same holds true, according to the instructions, for alley pickup. An article in the Post a few days ago addressed the issue of plastic bags being used for bottles. It stated that recycling personnel end up having to remove the contents from the bags and then dispose of the empty bags. They could take them to the Giant like the rest of us, but that might be too much to ask. After all, even supermarket cashiers toss loose bags in the trash rather than recycle 'em.

And, say, am I the only person in America who actually appreciates the folks at Safeway addressing me by name and saying “thank you” after I make a purchase? (Remember when it was customary for store clerks to do the “thank you's” rather than the customers?) I certainly prefer the Safeway approach, even if forced, to the callousness I usually encounter at the Giant, where there is seldom a “hello” or “thank you” because the cashier is busy socializing with his/her co-workers.


Dennis Dinkel,

Either Steph Faul lives in a different city than I do (I live in the District of Columbia) or her neighborhood is not in-the-loop as Capitol Hill. Upon my return from San Francisco last week Monday, October 12, in front of my house was one of the new recycling bins. Inside the house were the new recycling instructions. And on News 4 Today this morning, Camille Barnett appeared to state that those whose trash is picked up at the curb should put their recyclables at the curb; for those who have alley pickup, the recycling will be handled in the alleys.

Ms. Barnett also stated that those with twice weekly trash pickups, the recycled material would be picked up on the second trash day of their week. She further elaborated that newspapers, contrary to Ms. Faul's understanding, could be tied with string — as well as placed in brown paper bags. I don't know about Ms. Faul's visits to grocery stores; but I do know that in a month's worth of trips shopping at Giant or Safeway, I can collect enough brown paper bags for a year's worth of newspapers, especially if I politely request double bagging. The obvious reason for not placing newspapers in the bins is that the wind will dislodge the papers — and there's nothing worse than having a copy of the Washington Post blowing all over a neighborhood.

I presume the reason for having recycling done on the same day as trash day is so we have one less day to remember to put something at the curb. Otherwise, those of us with twice weekly trash removal would have to remember to put our trash out twice a week and also remember to put our recycling material out on another day of the week. If that were the case, I'd probably have no time to read themail. As for the matter of having everything put in the same landfill, well that possibility always exists. I worked at the House of Representatives when, with much fanfare — as only that political body can muster, when intent on the pursuit of the common good — they instituted a Hill-wide recycling program, with the attendant different bins for plastic, white paper, computer paper, Styrofoam, ad nauseam. Then one night, while toiling late at the office, one of the members of that august body happened to notice that when cleaning people came by, they simply took each bin and dumped it into a common dumpster.


Recycling rules and regs and bins
Joan Eisenstodt,

“Has anyone received any official information about the new recycling program, or received one of the new recycling bins? Is recycling really starting tomorrow? Help.”

We on Capitol Hill received our recycling bins 2 weeks ago. They were put, 2 per, outside each dwelling (which of course doesn't help apts. or multiple-resident houses.) The rules are stupid ...and I strongly agree with Steph Faul ... that the issue of not putting glass in a container is gonna make a mess. More, the “rules” aren't clear -- is “computer paper” any white paper? Is junk mail, other than catalogs, s'posed to be put out? (It didn't seem so from the definitions given to us.)

And why the bins except for glass/cans? We don't have an alley nor anywhere to store them! Putting stuff in paper bags woulda been easiest esp.for those who can't lift full bins nor store them except in front of the house near the sidewalk. Another good idea not well thought out perhaps?


Gloria White,

Hopefully, by now you have already learned the answers about your recycling questions. Just in case though.

My neighborhood (N. Cleveland Park) received new recycling bins dropped off in front of our homes a couple of weeks ago and included was a nice little flyer explaining things including what was and was not recyclable. The day of the week recycling is picked up (same as trash day) is, I think, supposed to be a convenience to us, so we only have to put things out on one day — there are different trucks picking up the recycling as recycling a contracted service. Also, recycling is picked up the same place your trash is — if trash is picked up in front of your home — so is recycling. If trash is picked up in the alley, so is recycling. As I understand it, the reason plastic bags are unwanted is because they mess up the recycling equipment and cause expense for that or labor to remove the items from the plastic bags. In my experience, it is easier to put the glass, cans, etc. in the bin and the newspapers in brown bags. The newspapers fit perfectly into the brown shopping bags and I expect they would rather not have them tossed into the bin with the bottles, cans, etc. since the moisture from the cans could affect the recycling value of the newspapers, magazines, etc.

There is a telephone number in the flyer for questions: DPW's Sanitation Information Center (727-4600). Happy recycling!


Recycling in DC
Mary Lou Fahey,

I arrived home about 10 days ago and found a new recycling bin in my driveway. According to the instructions, the bin is to be left wherever my trash is picked up — in my case, the alley. Thus, I am not sure why Steph Faul believes you can't leave the bins in the alley. Perhaps there are different instructions for AU Park? And yes, Gary, the recycling is supposed to start on the 19th.


Recycling Rules
Harold Goldstein,

It was written:

– Why can't things be picked up from alleys? ... Yet the new recycling system makes people stack trash in front of their houses. Actually the instructions indicate that the recycled material gets picked up at the same location as the garbage.

– Why do we have to bag newspapers? I believe that that is not necessary for recycling per se but it makes it more probable that we will properly segregate the paper from the rest of the recyclables and that will improve the quality of the paper.

– Why can't we bag bottles and cans? Eventually the bottles/cans/plastic have to be separated ... bagging them adds a step to this process ... that is my guess.

– Why is recycling day the same as trash day? Could it be they're using the same trucks? Putting the pickups in the same ultimate landfill? Last time around this was the case towards the end ... we can hope that it will be done correctly this time but I am quite glad to deal with both on the same day.


More on Strategic Planning
Karen Anderson,

Having worked in strategic planning for several years, I had to take umbrage at Ed Barron's trashing of the concept of Strategic Plans. Apparently Mr. Barron has had some bad experiences with Strategic Plans, but I don't think his personal experiences substantiate the generalization that “strategic plans are 'top down' plans and just don't work.”

Strategic planning does not have to be “top-down,” but rather should involve participation and input from all elements of an organization in order to engender the “buy-in” that Mr. Barron mentions. Workable strategic plans also include measurable benchmarks and a system for monitoring them regularly. Mr. Barron proposes that the District “start with a top level Mission Statement” and that all of its organizational elements and sub elements establish their own mission and goals. Mr. Barron does not explain how the subbasements' mission statements and goals are to relate to the “top level” Mission statement and goals. A clear plan, i.e. a Strategic Plan, is needed to make sure that each of the organizational elements' objectives and activities support the overall mission of the organization. In my experience, there are many more “Mission Statements” gathering dust on shelves than strategic plans — because there was no concrete plan of activities to carry out the lofty sentiments expressed in the statement.

The DC government has lacked clear objectives, an organized planning system, and accountability for far too long. Without a clear strategic plan, we will continue to flounder for many more years.


Lou Lieb,

Can anyone tell me why so many retail chains do not locate in DC? Examples: Home Depot, Circuit City.


Handicapped Parking Abuse
John Olinger, North Lincoln Park,

Earlier this year, the Post reported on the handicapped parking phenomenon in downtown DC. Not surprisingly, they have not followed up. I see no evidence that anything has changed. I just walked along the south side of Franklin Park and in the 1300 block of I Street NW counted 17 of 23 car spaces taken by cars with handicapped permits. For the past three years I have noticed this. The north side of the park has similar numbers (though I confess I have never counted them). Not one of these cars has a DC plate. The cars are there all day long. What is going on? Who is paying attention? Why get new meters if you only have to hang a card in your window?


Reckless Driving
William Menczer,

Does anyone know how to remove reckless drivers from the streets of DC? I was walking up Seventh St. and crossing Independence Avenue both at the crosswalk and with a “Walk” light. A Maryland driver, traveling at a high rate of speed, turned onto Independence Avenue, through the crosswalk and missed hitting me by inches. He stopped the car after he realized what he had done. I demanded to see his driver's license and registration (which he produced) and recorded the information. I happened to notice that his registration expired in May 1998. After sharing a few choice words with him regarding his driving
habits, and his apologizing to me, he was on his way. As I continued up 7th St., I found a DC police officer and reported the incident to him. Officer Christian of the 1st District took the information and basically said there was nothing he could do since he did not witness the incident and because I wasn't actually injured. When I returned to my office, I called the Maryland Dept. of Motor Vehicles. I was told they could do nothing since they don't enforce traffic laws and only issue reminders for expired registrations. They referred me to the Maryland State Police. The Rockville Barracks told me that possession of an expired registration is not illegal, just operation of a vehicle with such status. Only if they caught him driving could they cite him (and they weren't going to station a cruiser outside his home). Therefore, someone almost kills me, breaks several laws in the process, and continues on his merry way. Any suggestions for redress?


Leaders Unclear on the Concept
Kurt Vorndran, Woodley Park,

I thought I had seen it all earlier this year when a 16 year incumbent member of the DC Council railed against “THEM,” meaning city government, and how the city government is opposed to people like “US.” After 16 years in elective office, you loose the right to style yourself as an outsider (pace Reagan and Barry).

But a new puzzlement has arisen. In November, we will have a ballot initiative on Medical Marijuana. The Initiative process, which has some flaws, can be useful when legislative bodies refuse to act on important matters of citizen concern. In this case however, a MAJORITY of the members of the Council have endorsed the initiative. Now, if they are sincere in their views, why don't they just pass the damn initiative and save the taxpayers the expense of the election?


More on Accountability and Great Weight
Rich Rothblum,

Rob Fleming's idea to make the salaries of first level supervisors dependent at least in part on an ANC rating is truly great! I see a couple of issues that might be discussed: First, is it legal (in terms of employee rights)? Even if not, would there be anything stopping individual supervisors from making ANC complaints or kudos a factor in the evaluation criteria? Management could voluntarily implement this immediately! Second, in an imposed system, if exceptions are allowed to override ANC evaluation, I fear the exceptions would be routinely invoked. Third, why should the ANC input be limited to first level supervisors? I think the agency heads should have to keep the ANC's happy or they don't get their fat (lack of) performance bonuses!


Rock Creek Cell Towers
Paul Penniman,

Standard operating procedure before building a cell tower is to float a trial balloon, so to speak, to give people an idea of what it will look like. So I drove over to Carter Barron to look at the balloon cum cell tower, right next to but slightly below the stadium. It looked fine, but I don't see how the needle would work at a height lower than the stadium — or the trees, for that matter. Am I being ignorant, or is someone understating the true height of the tower? (The Post said this one would be 80 feet high, which seems higher than the top of the stadium, but I could be wrong.) I never saw the other balloon, at Military and Glover, supposedly to simulate a 150-foot high needle. Perhaps someone else could say whether it was too obtrusive.


The Way to Improve UDC
Lee Perkins,

To begin to improve UDC would require the immediate discharge of ALL, and I do mean ALL, administrators and support staff. Tony Williams' man at UDC, Rickford (Little Ricky to those who discovered his true nature) did not have the backbone to clean house.


Motto to Avoid

Quote attributed to Richard Nixon per a David Musto review of "The Fix" by Michael Massing in the NYT Book Review, Oct. 18, 1998: "D.C. should not stand for disorder and crime." Still a worthy challenge.



Join a Men's Group
Reed Dewey,

Share life with a small group of men of varying ages who meet every over week in the Washington Metro area. We're a fun group and would like to take on a few good men. E-mail or call Reed at (202) 363-8433.



Art Spitzer,

One complete set of the U.S. Code Annotated, up to date as of 1997. Free to good home or law office. Call Eric Lotke, 202-775-0323.



Help Wanted, Attorney
Art Spitzer,

D.C. Prisoners' Legal Services Project seeks attorney to work on special problems of female prisoners. Includes litigation, organizing, education. Write DCPLSP, 1400 20th Street, N.W. #117, Washington DC 20036.


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