The Answers Are in themail
I have to admit, we're falling down on our duty. We need to answer some of
the burning questions that have been raised in themail, and have been hanging out there in
the ethernet, unanswered and orphaned. For example, back on October 11, right in the
middle of the Columbus Day weekend, Kirsten Sherk, firstname.lastname@example.org, asked,
Whence Columbia? She wrote: A friend of mine, who is generally my source
for the history of Washington, asked me about the origin of Columbia, as in District
of, as in Guardian of Arts and Industries in the Arts and Industries
museum, as in Columbia Road. We also presume that the figure in the seal of Washington is
that same Columbia. Does anyone know where she comes from? It's a good question.
District of Columbia, Columbia University, even the United States is called
Columbia, gem of the ocean. We've had two full weeks since Columbus Day to
answer, but no one has written in to reply. Now, the origin of this name could be very
obscure. Columbia could be a third rank Roman goddess, not even mentioned in
Bulworths Mythology. But think of the pleasure of showing how vast your knowledge
is, when you do extensive research to unearth Columbia, and then pretend you knew it all
along. Or imagine how condescending, snide, and supercilious you could be to Kirsten, all
the while pretending to be helpful, if the origin of Columbia turned out to be
something obvious that didn't occur to her.
This is only one example of the kinds of questions that have been raised
in themail and havent been answered. What are the origins of these various
mysterious construction projects? Who on earth, among the candidates for the Board of
Education, should we vote for? (I asked that one.) Where can you get the absolutely best
pizza in town? (Nobody asked, but Id like to know.) And who on earth should get
credit for saying, No good deed goes unpunished? (Considering the way his
reputation been treated in the past couple of decades, the answer to that question is
probably Christopher Columbus.)
DCWatch and Digital City, a division of America Online, are cosponsoring
online chat sessions with Carol Schwartz and Tony Williams this week. Unfortunately, only
AOL subscribers can join in, at keyword DC Chat on Digital City Washington. The Schwartz
chat will be at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, and the Williams chat at 2:00 p.m. on
Sunday, November 1. If you dont have an America Online account, you can do the
second best thing and come see them in person both chats are going to be held in
the Washingtoniana Division of the MLK Public Library, 901 G Street, NW.
Recycling is the main topic for us this issue, along with a good mix of
Tony Williams, the Carnegie Library, Initiative 59, DPW and trees, UDC, retailers, and
reckless driving. Youre free to raise any new issues and start any new discussions
you want to, of course.
Bewildered in DC
While I couldnt agree more with the comments made about City Council
candidate Mark Thompson, the posting on that subject was not mine, as was attributed in
the 10/22 edition of the mail.
[No, its just not possible that I could make a mistake, ever.
Unfortunately, I send used messages to the trash bin after publishing them, and empty the
trash bin every few days, so messages can't be recycled. Does anyone want to take credit
for the message about Thompson that was published with Ralph's name? Gary Imhoff]
So, we've read reasons why to vote pro and reasons why to vote con
Williams. The simple fact that Uncle Marion, pal Rock and other cronies are hanging their
names on the Williams campaign coat rack is another reason for me to vote against
Williams. Williams may not be a politician as some say, but the man aint
dumb either. Barry's name still carries many votes and Williams wants votes. Slick Marion
wants something and he'll cash in his chits after the election if Williams wins. Its
Reason #1 for not voting for Williams is his position on a business
gross receipts tax. I know, he now says hes changed his tune, but he's
been an advocate for one for some time. Singing a new song now is merely campaign
politics, folks. I dont trust him on the issue and I detest the thought of yet
another gross receipts tax on businesses. The egregious one we already have is called the
Arena Fee. Do DC businesses need a double kick in the groin to force them to
the burbs? Its that simple.
Barrys Support of Tony Williams
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
Hizzoner the Mayor is nothing if not crafty and his support for Tony
Williams is clearly an effort that he feels will save his cronies in the D.C. Govt. Tony
Williams is quite a bit smarter than Marion Barry and will not be swayed or influenced by
this tactic. On the positive side, support for Williams from the constituents of the
traditional Barry wards will help make Williams just that more effective as
Mayor. Dont sell Tony Williams short. Hes plenty smart.
Notes from the Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public
Roxanna Deane, firstname.lastname@example.org
A writer last week wrote that the public library would have to incur
Convention Center costs because the construction companies would be using the Carnegie
building. When the library moved to the Martin Luther King Memorial Library building, the
Carnegie building became part of UDC. There has been a lot of interest in that building
and the question of ownership is muddy. After a lot of research I concluded that the
District owned it, and not a particular agency. Anyway, the budget just passed by Congress
includes a $2 million matching funds grant to the Historical Society of Washington for the
creation of a Museum of the City of Washington. This is a great use for the building.
The current design for the seal of the District of Columbia was adopted by
the legislative assembly of the District in 1871. This was during the 4 year period when
there was a governor (appointed by the president) but an elected legislature. The man on
the pedestal represents George Washington and the female figure represents Justice. The
tablet she holds has the word Constitution inscribed. The motto chosen for the
city and placed on the seal is Justitia Onmibus.
Im not a lawyer. So I know little about the theory of rights, and I
only have a limited understanding of the limits imposed on allowable action by our
government. Furthermore, I dont really have an opinion about the medical use of
marijuana, as would have been legalized by DC ballot Initiative 59. However, I have a
strong opinion about the unrestrained abuse of power by Congress and the willingness of DC
citizens to just accept it. For those who are unaware, Congress has effectively banned
Initiative 59 from being accepted or rejected by DC voters in the upcoming election.
While I understand that Congress has great power over DC I have to ask:
what are the limits of this power? My naive understanding of civics is that the
legislative branch does not have unrestrained power, and that the courts provide a
check and a balance over the abuse of legislative power. If
refusing to allow a ballot initiative is not illegal, why not? Of all the talented
attorneys that live in DC, are none concerned about this baseless abrogation of rights?
Where is the ACLU when the most basic Civil Liberty is crushed?
[Here's where things stand, as I understand it: the DC budget passed by
Congress forbids DC from spending money on an initiative that would legalize the use of
marijuana. However, the Board of Elections and Ethics had already printed ballots that
included Initiative 59 on one side of a ballot card. Therefore, they will distribute those
already printed cards. Voters can vote on the Initiative, and the Board will count the
votes no additional funds are required for the computer to tally them. However, the
Board will not announce the vote results or certify them until the inevitable court
challenge, which will be brought by supporters of Initiative 59, is resolved. Dont
worry, there will be a court case, and probably appeals, too. If the initiative is
eventually passed, the Control Board or Congress can veto it, or the City Council can pass
a law overturning it. Offhand, however, the case for Congress being able to forbid
citizens from voting on an issue appears exceptionally weak. What does the ACLU think, Art
Spitzer? Gary Imhoff]
Trees, Telephone Lines, and Bureaucracies
Louis Lieb, email@example.com
Over the summer a tree on the alley behind my house was hit by lightning;
a large branch fell on the telephone line, but is still attached to the tree. Its
been resting there for months. I tried calling PEPCO, Bell Atlantic and the city office in
charge of trees. The latter told me that it was the responsibility of the homeowner
adjacent to the tree, who is my neighbor. The city worker on the phone said they could
come out and ticket my neighbor (a large ticket) but, if they did, they would also ticket
every other violation in the area. She implied that there are probably a lot of other
violations around, like a tree overhanging a neighbors property, or public space.
Hearing this, I was afraid to request that they come out. I talked to the adjacent
homeowner; she said she would take care of it, but nothings happened.
Bell Atlantic doesnt cut trees, according to them. They just wait
for the line to break, then come out and fix it. So here we all sit waiting for this
telephone line to break! Does anyone know what these esoteric rules are regarding trees
that are worthy of a large DPW citation?
I want to second Harold Goldsteins recent posting, which said all
the things I have been muttering to myself every time some self-important busybody takes
on the job of telling us what needs to be done about UDC. I work at UDC and, no, it
isnt Harvard, but it is a serious institution of higher learning with many
hardworking people as students, faculty, and staff. UDC suffers from serious budgetary
problems, which means that resources are scarce. Scarce resources make life difficult, but
it doesnt mean that the people at the University are stupid or incompetent
they have a tough job and I think most of them do the best they can under very difficult
UDC serves an important segment of the community that without UDC probably
would not have access to higher education. Instead of trying to undercut UDC at every
turn, it would be nice if the rest of the community would work to support and strengthen
the University. Education is still the best path to self sufficiency and a decent life and
UDC fills an important niche.
Lou Lieb asked why large retailers, such as Home Depot, don't locate in
DC. My guess (and its only that) is that its a combination of a lack of
suitable, affordable space, demographic factors, and a long history of government
indifference (or animosity) toward business. Of course, some chains are, thankfully,
locating in DC. For example, I think I saw a sign indicating that the new Borders
bookstore on Wisconsin Ave. in Friendship Heights is opening this weekend. (I know, I
know... Ive spend hundreds of dollars at Politics and Prose over the years and will
continue to do so. But the big places have their attractions, too.)
Think about it in these terms: As a general rule, large chain stores are
designed to serve a region, not a neighborhood. Out in the burbs the chain stores
can attract people from a much larger area because it is relatively easy to drive to the
store location. In the city, where people are not necessarily auto-centric and more
inclined to just walk to a store, there wouldnt be as many convenient people that
would be drawn to each store, or at least not enough to keep the chain store viable.
Te occidere possunt sed te edere non pussunt netas est (Roughly,
They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are quite a bit dicier.)
More On Reckless Driving
Jessica Vallette, firstname.lastname@example.org
As a biker, I am always being nearly killed by friendly drivers from the
wonderful burbs. Just this morning as I was leaving my home, I had the green light
to cross from Vermont Ave. onto 11th Street going South. Fortunately, I was being cautious
because a white truck came barreling North on 11th street, slowed down a bit, and crossed
Vermont Ave. against the red light! Furthermore it was a Maryland driver. What is up with
these people? I know this is a complicated intersection, but if you cant figure it
out, then you shouldnt be driving!
Isnt there some reciprocal enforcement that DC officers can effect
against these people? There have been efforts to put up cameras at intersections notorious
for red light runners, but I still haven't seen them where the local police have said they
are. These cameras should help, but they dont excuse the lack of enforcement of our
Joan Eisenstodt, email@example.com
Here on the Hill, today is our first day of potential recycling. Our stuff
is outside getting more like paper mache every moment. I too tried to call the recycling
office yest. to determine if office paper meant what I tho't or was something
else. Went through the recording maze to be told Our office hours are ....
which was a time I was calling left a message and got no return.
Anyone else have an idea about how to get through? Has anyone tried the
Mayors Command Post number?
[In our section of Columbia Heights, we still dont have any bins.
Bell Clements, firstname.lastname@example.org, who lives north of us in Columbia Heights, wrote that her
street had bins, but we know people who live north of Bell in Columbia Heights who
havent received them yet. Dorothy used backdoor telephone numbers to get through to
the recycling office. She was told that DPW takes no responsibility for distributing the
bins, and that the contractor has done a spotty job of distributing them so far. As for
guidance on and clarification of the rules, youre on your own. Gary Imhoff]
Did the recycling thing Tuesday night. I wasnt too happy about
putting newspapers in the paper bags but I did it, and it wasn't that big of a deal... I
will adjust. Put it all outside for my Wednesday trash pickup and at 6:30 that morning I
heard the garbage trucks banging around. By the time I left for work and walked into the
alley at 8, garbage gone and recycling gone. Which made me think, the garbage truck used
to pick up the garbage and someone would come along later in the afternoon for the
recycling. Maybe everything is different this time... However this really looked like the
trash guys just picked up everything and dumped it all into one truck. Sure hope not...
I got my bin, followed the instructions, put it out on the spot on the
designated day. Then I came home from work. Voila! Recycables are gone and bin is left for
the next round of recycling.
Someone suggest I mark my bin so no one would pick it up by mistake. Good
Sigh. As an environmentalist, I am concerned about the lack of people
willing to recycle. Many commentators question why put recycling bins out on the same day
as trash day. Well, its to make it more convenient for people. DCs goal of a meager
30% of residents recycling is not at all ambitious and if everyone who reads themail
stopped complaining and actually recycled, I bet wed meet that goal. Unfortunately,
we are the only household on our very small block to put out our recycling bins. When I go
knocking on doors for DAVID CATANIA tonight, I plan on reminding my neighbors what those
green bins are for...
I also noticed that there are two trucks that now come on Thursday (the
second trash pick-up day in my neighborhood). In fact, the recycling truck beat the trash
truck (which incidentally seems to come increasingly later as time goes on)! Im
trying to decide now if I should follow the recycling truck to see where it goes at the
end of its run. But as you know, I only have a bicycle and not a car. Anyone else
For some midwest perspective on the recycling issue, I thought Id
share part of an email I got from a former Washingtonian who moved to Madison, Wisconsin a
I just read the DC Watch [themail]. I'm glad to hear recycling is
getting revived, but it does amaze how DC constituents can kvetch about just anything.
Here, in what I imagine is one of the best recycling programs in the country, they don't
give us bins and you have to sort and appropriately bundle your stuff (paper bags in a
paper bag), newspapers bundled, and bottles and cans in special plastic bags that you
actually have to purchase. (We dont get our trash cans supplied either for that
Just an FYI re recycling. About 3 weeks ago we received a new recycling
container and quite a clear flier about how the whole thing was going to work. Collection
from our alley in Friendship Heights occurred as scheduled on Tuesday. They did leave some
cardboard. However, a very sturdy box hadn't been broken down properly. Kudus, not
complaints from me.
Recycling and a motto
Nancy Henderson, email@example.com
My Chevy Chase neighborhood received our recycling bins, and most bins
seem to have been picked up this week, but not on my block, in the alley where our garbage
is picked up. At least we know the garbage truck didn't take it. Of course, I havent
been able to reach a live person to report this. Is the truck too wide to fit in the
So you want more mottos for DC? How about: The city that (sometimes)
pretends to recycle
Recycling get a grip and a motto
John Whiteside, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reading themail today was a good reminder of how Washingtonians love to
complain, no matter what goes right. Now that recycling is back, people are complaining
about having to put things in bins, having to recycle the same day as trash pickup
(convenience being a bad thing, apparently), having to tie or bag papers separately, etc.
I get the feeling some people will not be happy until someone from DPW
comes into their home, picks their recyclables out of the trash can, and takes care of it
for them. Folks, DC is using the same type of program thats working well in
communities all over the country (including Arlington, where I live). Save it for when
something is really being done wrong you shouldnt have to wait too long.
Maybe theres a motto here DC District of
CLASSIFIEDS EVENTS AND CLASSES
DC Historical Studies
Roxanna Deane, email@example.com
The 25th Annual Conference on Washington, D. C. Historical Studies will be
held at the MLK Library on October 30 and 31. Highlights of the sessions include a look at
the fight to keep freeways out of neighborhoods in the 1960s and a look back at the
1968 riots with a panel composed of people who were there. The conference concludes on
Saturday with a trolley tour of upper Georgia Avenue. For more information call 727-1213.
Les Compagnons de la Parole Francaise is a diverse, social, international
group that has been meeting for a happy hour in French every Thursday from 5:30 until 7 pm
in Washington DC since 1967.
After the happy hour the group usually goes to dinner. The Compagnons
also organize parties, picnics, hiking, camping trips etc. Share with us your ideas for
activities etc. The happy hour is held near the GWU campus. For directions and detailed
information etc. please contact Aysegul at AysegulA@aol.com
. Please note that only French is allowed at the meetings. Au revoir!
Takoma, DC. Charming bungalow, quiet neighborhood, near Metro. Porches,
fireplace, yard, big trees, ample space. Vegetarian-friendly. No pets. $475 including
utilities. Call Lou 202-208-0012 or 202-723-5909.
As many of you know, the Chevy Chase Community Center is about to close 6
months for renovation. The official Scrabble club for northwest DC (there's another one in
northeast) has met there Tuesday evenings for time immemorial, but needs a temporary site
during renovation. Were checking out many alternatives, but suggestions are welcome.
We need a room where 12-20 folks can play 2-person games from about 6 to 10 p.m. No/low
cost and proximity to public transportation strongly preferred. Restaurants are possible
if they have the space wed bring business. As an aside, Im disappointed
that other D.C. public agencies have not risen to the occasion here, but I wont name
names publicly. (The rec department has already relocated many activities in other
community centers.) And any of you who might want to join us for challenging and enjoyable
competition, please do. E-mail queries/suggestions to my address above or call 202 966
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Multi-family Yard Sale 17th & U, Sat. Oct. 31st
Jessica Vallette, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our friends are dumping unwanted wedding gifts and were dumping tons
of miscellaneous household items including wood and metal kitchen cabinets, camera
equipment and even a ceiling fan. Please join us on Halloween and buy our stuff!!!
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