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November 1, 1998

Make Every Complaint Count

Dear Fellow Moaners and Groaners:

I want to complain about all the complaints we've been getting about all the complaining we've been doing. I don't think that we complain too much. I think that we don't complain enough. We're beaten down by how ineffective our complaints are at getting responses from elected officials and appointed bureaucrats alike. We're ready to settle for late, partial, non-existent, and even hostile services from our city government. We're grateful whenever something, anything, actually works. We boast when we can get our driver's licenses renewed in less than an hour, as though a minimum level of government efficiency and responsiveness is unusual and unexpected.

I remember a letter to DCStory, themail's predecessor, a couple years ago in which a woman wrote that she had moved to Arlington, which she called 15 minutes and a world away from Washington. We should expect the same kinds of services, and the same kind of treatment from government officials, that we would get if we lived in Arlington, or Bethesda, or any of the suburbs. After all, even after the cutbacks of the past few years, our per capita budget and our ratio of government employees to residents are higher than anywhere else in the U.S. (yes, even after you combine city and state government figures). We should expect the best street cleaning, the best trash collection, the best schools, the best city employees, and we should complain like hell when we don't get them. Which we don't.

The best occasion for complaining all year, actually every two years, comes this Tuesday. Let's go to the polls and make every complaint count.

Gary Imhoff


Let's Make this City Great! Vote Schwartz for Mayor!
Mark Richards, Democrat, Ward 2,

We have good choices for mayor, and that is refreshing. Realistically, either Williams or Schwartz will win. So a vote for anyone else besides Schwartz helps Williams. Thanks to John Gloster and all independent candidates who really really worked hard to raise important issues, and who don't get the credit they deserve — that needs to change. As for Williams, well, I got my tax return back fast, too. The budget is balanced... a good thing. OK, so we sold off a few public assets, and... let's not go there. Overall, he has some good ideas and he did his job well, and we need to hire more people like him. But he is VERY short on experience in governing.

Our mayor is the equivalent of Governor. To be elected mayor is to be awarded, by citizens, the highest political leadership position possible. It is a very high honor that should not be handed out lightly. Mayors don't move from city to city, resume in hand, like other jobs. Mayors are people who citizens know and who have proven themselves over a long time. They understand what self government means, and they do not take it lightly. Williams didn't even vote and when certain members of Congress “offered” to take MORE powers from our elected officials and give them to him, he didn't express ANY concern, he said yes. Granted, something had to be done. But I expect those at the helm to defend American principles AS they perform. I can't in good conscience vote Williams yet.

Why Schwartz? Just because someone has been around a long time doesn't qualify them to be mayor, and it's not about whose turn it is. This isn't Carol's main point anyway. She has a long record and many clearly written policy papers that have been conveniently ignored by the main mouthpieces. Carol isn't perfect and she's been here long enough for us to know it. But a few things are clear — of the two candidates, Schwartz is the most loyal, she has the most governing experience, her performance record is clear and impressive, and if our children follow her example, we won't have to import our leaders and give them a quick course on our complicated and often sad history which we better not repeat. As mayor, we will be giving Schwartz our authority to implement the details of reforms that most of us want done, NOW! Reforms that were clearly outlined by Alice Rivlin back in 1990... while ALSO being very clear that we intend to protect our slow but steady progress toward full republican guarantees to local self government and full voting rights. Schwartz has the confidence of the bureaucracy that she will need to make changes, she isn't going to cut our neighborhoods out, she knows all the people, the issues, and can forge consensus. She looks everyone right in the eyes. And she knows where the bodies are buried... She is clear on who the mayor's boss is — the CITIZENS of D.C. And she is fair. This isn't about race, party, or gender. Her endorsements cross all boundaries. Those who supported Schwartz in the past shouldn't abandon her now. Do you think she is going to let this city down? She is so determined to overcome obstacles that if we elect her, she WILL perform. Don't doubt it. I'm not saying it's going to be all roses without thorns. That's not realistic. But don't doubt that you are going to see a more citizen and business friendly city, and we citizens (not customers) are going to be able to stand up once again and proudly declare "I AM FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA!"


Showbiz: The Post Editorial Follies of 1998
Carl Bergman,

The Post's editorial endorsements have gone showbiz. In the at large race, we've seen a magic act, followed by a backstage drama. What can you call it but magic the way they made Phil Mendelson disappear? In the primary, they praised and endorsed four, listing Phil first. He wins. After the election, they start by coldly denying their praise. “We included Mr. Mendelson among four individuals we endorsed.” In this Saturday's edition, they finish the job. He's not mentioned. Gone, vanished! The saga doesn't end there. Needing a new lead, he's replaced from the back ranks of the chorus, er, candidate pack with Beverly Wilbourn, truly an unknown. What's behind all this? Between the primary and now why did they chill? Did they find out something too scandalous to say? That would be a first. Did hiz honor's parting race mischief scare some Post folks who're in the last rounds of radical chic? They owe us an explanation, and not just more showbiz


Vote Mendelson and Catania
Jeffrey Itell,

Not that you should follow my advice . . . but the Washington Post is playing a dangerous game by endorsing Independent and unknown Beverly Wilbourn (I think that's her name) for the At-Large Council seat. Many think the Post chose Wilbourn to show a commitment to a majority black council. So do I. The Post also strongly endorsed David Catania, a judgment I welcome.

We each cast two votes for the At-Large candidate. Mendelson, the Democrat at the top of the ballot, will certainly be elected. The other winner will be Catania, Wilbourn, or Hilda Mason. Catania has the advantage of incumbency; Wilbourn the Post endorsement; and Mason high name recognition. The Post endorsement “could” pull votes from Catania, putting Mason back in office. (Under chaos theory, the endorsement of the Post could also knock the space shuttle out of orbit.)

No one seems to want to say it directly, but Hilda Mason cannot perform the duties of a Councilmember. She cannot remember people. She cannot attend a hearing without questions prepared by staff. (Other legislators do not want to attend hearings without staff questions, but they could if they had to.) Mason is not too old to sit on the council, but her mental capacity is sadly not up to par. Watching her in inaction is sad. And returning her to the council would be a sad commentary on DC voters. That is why it is important to ignore the Post and vote for Mendelson and Catania.


The Independent?
Danilo Pelletiere,

It seems that the Washington Post and the Washington Times have found a new friend for At-Large Council. I support Phil Mendelson but am unsure about my second vote. I thought perhaps Beverly Wilbourn was the answer. I no longer think she is. Before anyone rushes off to vote for this “new” entrant please be advised that her political mentor is Mr. Yeldell whose name became synonymous with corruption a few years back (my memory of the events aren't to clear but there was an indictment I think).

It's true she's done a little community service work with the D.C. Bar but that seems to be it. The Post wants us to believe that her community service was what won her the endorsement of Charlene Drew Jarvis, the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce. Neither Ms. Jarvis nor those business groups are known for giving a lot back to our neighborhoods and community service is certainly not their primary objective. Beverly Wilbourn is not free of this city's special interests and the Barry past, she is a product of it. In fact friends received a letter today from Cora Masters Barry asking them to vote for Wilbourn. She has no public record and her past and backers give us little to hope for. Read Loose Lips in the last City Paper for more on this.

There are plenty of good people to vote for. People with public records and clear positions on the issues that affect us. People like Phil Mendelson and David Catania have management skills and concern for our neighborhoods that are real, and they have a record that shows it. You have two votes on Tuesday. Look the candidates over and make a decision, just don't believe the hype. As I said I support Phil and am still trying to make up my mind on the other vote. That's why I looked at Beverly Wilbourn a little closer and I'm glad I did.


Yes on 59
Willie Schatz,

Let's take judicial notice of the real political terrorists in this "democracy" — the Republicans, who couldn't spell "constitution" if  you spotted them the first eight letters — and fulfill their greatest fear by passing Resolution 59.

No objectivity in this corner. I've got multiple sclerosis (MS). But I don't have any symptoms -- no wheelchair, no loss of coordination, no incontinence. So 59 isn't for me — yet. It's for patients who have worse cases. And it's for patients who have other debilitating diseases for which marijuana has been proven to restore their appetite and alleviate their pain and make them want to live again. No, the dope doesn't work every time on everyone. But it's effective enough often enough to be given a chance. Sometimes it's the closest thing to a cure we've got. If I deteriorate to where I've got a choice between a joint and a wheelchair, which way do you think I'm going? And should I or anyone else with MS or similar afflictions have to do time for saving our life? So, please vote yes on 59. And consider this: if the Republicans weren't afraid we'd pass it and implement, you think they would have tried to stop us?


What does the ACLU think, Art Spitzer?
Art Spitzer,

We are filing suit tomorrow (Friday Oct. 30). For more details, check the Saturday Post Metro Section. [For those new to the conversation, this is on the issue of whether Congress can forbid DC from expending its funds on Initiative 59. — Gary Imhoff]


Adding Things Up at the Post
steph “Figures don't lie, but illiterates figure” faul,

So was curled up with the Post's special election supplement and turned to the beautifully designed “Statistical Profile,” ominously numbered as page 13. Apparently the art department showed so much design talent they were allowed to write the information. Too bad their calculators were broken that day. The “population breakdown” actually breaks UP, to 107.3 percent. (It may actually be a subliminal ad for a radio station, but if so it's pretty subtle.) This surplus is partially rectified by the political affiliations, which only add up to 99.4 percent. And apparently “$128.6 million” is also a percentage, at least, it's labeled thusly: “Percent of annual revenue lost from nongovernmental tax-exempt property.”

But the real insults are spread across the bottom of the page in teeny demographic factoids of absolutely no interest or significance. I have no idea what “Adults who ate pizza sold by a major chain in the past month” says about Washingtonians' electoral preferences. Could one of The Mail's alert readers interpret this for me? Thanks SO much.


Indignity upon Indignity at UDC
Constance Z. Maravell,

I am taking anatomy and physiology at UDC, I will never continue with the second half. Tuesday we were supposed to start dissecting cats. Our $35 lab fee was primarily to cover the cost of cats. Each one costs $35. No CATS. Instead we are talked to by the chairman of the Biology department who explained that the budget was late in being released. The control board didn't approve cats. I seriously doubt if the control board micromanages to that level. She would see if she could get some petty cash to get a few cats for us.

We were all outraged. How are we supposed to learn anything. We are doing muscles and organs now. We will never see them even in a cat. The chairman suggested that we look in our text. I pointed out that our text did not illustrate all the muscles it listed and that I had 5 other books with illustrations and there were still some muscles I couldn't find illustrated. To add insult to injury, the chairman, whose name I can't remember because I was so upset, said something to the effect that it's not as we were in medical school. One thing is for sure you couldn't get to medical school from UDC. You just wouldn't have the preparation.


Carnegie Library
Paul Williams,

Hooray for the efforts of Roxanna Dean of MLK and Barbara Franco of the Historical Society of DC for their efforts in getting a city museum, and especially at Carnegie Library; I can hardly think of a better adaptive re-use for the building. DC had a great story to be told, and its amazing (read: pathetic) that a city museum has not existed before. And how smart of them to use the building during convention center construction to house architectural/building offices while its built; that leverages a tremendous amount of restoration funds that would have otherwise gone to renting nasty construction trailers. When it opens, I plan on donating several historical items I've gathered at garage sales and junk shops for the benefit of city research or display, and as in the past copies of my house history research. I encourage others to do so as well.


Computer Clinic Center
Stephanie Faul,

I had a computer problem and took my laptop there. The two men behind the counter ignored me for several minutes (a problem women often have in computer and camera stores), and when a woman finally showed up and asked what I wanted she had trouble filling out the form with my name and address. While she was doing this a man who was picking up his computer asked her for a blank floppy. She opened a drawer, picked a floppy out of it, said “I'm not sure what's on this one” and handed it to him. At that point I realized I was dealing with hard-core nincompoops, picked up my laptop, and left. Dupont Computers, on R Street (right next to Lauriol Plaza) is very professional and did the job right.


Problems with CapitalOne?
Lynn Dorman,

Has any one had problems dealing with CapitalOne and their credit card people? Mine are too many to list but I would like to find out if there are others who are having problems with them. In unity there is strength!


Recycling in New Jersey
Julie Newman,

In response to Catherine Lancaster from Chicago on recycling who wrote, “I'm not sure I believe it, but a couple of people have told me that Chicago discourages recycling because there are so many jobs here tied to new manufacturing of recyclable products,” I offer this:

I hail from New Jersey. Ever wonder why, on glass bottles, etc. there are deposits listed for just about every state surrounding New Jersey except New Jersey itself? Where I'm from (extreme Southern New Jersey), glass manufacturing is a very large industry. Many jobs are to be had not only in the glass factories, but also in sand mining, etc., in the area. For the local economy, it makes sense not to return glass bottles for a deposit, even if it may the more environmentally sound option. So, Catherine, your tidbit about Chicago recycling may not be too far off.


Recycling Office Paper Question
M.A. Siegel,

Could someone please tell me about recycling office paper? I work at home and have a ton (slight exaggeration) of white and colored office paper I would like to recycle — can I put it out in my spiffy new bin, or what can I do with it, besides filling more landfills?


Lighten Up, Metro
Paul Williams,

Has anyone noticed the experimental lighting going on in Metro center? They seem to be testing several different variations of white lights atop the cooling/signage towers. Some are OK, others pretty bright and pretty bad. I know the lighting was carefully designed and meant to be calming; these do the opposite. Although, as a preservationist, it scares me to think I'm leaning toward the side of something built in the 1970s...


Pizza Like It Oughta Be
Willie Schatz,

I don't know — or care, for that matter — how we got on pizza, but as long we're there, I'll play. I'm a Noo Yawkah, so I know pizza. If that's not enough — which it should be, since the city is the center of the universe, AND DON'T FORGET IT — I spent a week in Italy this summer.

“Chicago Pizza”????!!!! PUHLEEZE. It's as close to pizza as military intelligence is to having a clue and military music is to The Boss. You want the right stuff? Go to Pizzeria Paradiso on P Street NW. I know all about these suburban joints, and they're lost in the rain in Juarez. Pizzeria is owned by Peter Pastan, also the owner of next-door Obelisk, the best Italian restaurant in the region. Take one bite of Peter's stuff and you'll never want to eat any other kind.


Not a Lawyer. Honest
Ralston Cox,

OK, OK, so maybe DC has more lawyers working here than residents (a slight exaggeration, I think, but only when Congress and the lobbyists are out of town), and maybe it would have been a really really great idea for me to take Latin in school, but I'm not a lawyer and I didn't learn Latin in school but I'd still like to share in the humor in DCWatch. Would everyone please translate the Latin they include in their postings? I just about went over the edge a few weeks ago when there were literally dozens of suggestions for a DC motto that were written in Latin. I couldn't understand any of 'em. Even my rudimentary handle on one of the “romance” languages didn't seem to help.

Roxanna Deane's posting about our current motto — Justitia Omnibus — was a reminder to this reader that we ain't gonna get Justitia (Justice?) until we can all (Omnibus?) understand each other. Did I get it right? Oh forget it....



Jingle Bell Ball
Reed Dewey,

Be the first to ring in the 1998 holiday season at the Seventh Annual Jingle Bell Ball, a benefit for Calvary Women's Shelter which helps homeless women in DC. This is a value oriented event. For the price you can't beat it -- and all the fun people to meet who also care about making the world a better place. When: Saturday, November 21, 1998, 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Where: The Club at Franklin Square, 1300 Eye Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Featuring the Motown sounds of The Mustangs (festive and formal, black tie optional). Bargain Basement Price: $55 per guest before Friday, November 13th. Price includes entertainment, hors d'oeuvres, two drink tickets redeemable for beer and/or wine, and soda. Parking available for $5.00.

This year, Calvary Women's Shelter celebrates its 15th anniversary of providing support, hope and change for homeless women in Washington, D.C. For 25 women, Calvary is a place to sleep, eat, and address financial, social, and health issues through comprehensive case management — 24 hours a day. To purchase advance tickets, call Reed Dewey at (202) 363-8433 or E-mail and I'll send a formal invitation to you. Or, you can call Calvary Women's Shelter at (202) 783-6651.


Do You Have A Small Business? Would You Like to Start One?
R.A. Bird Anderson,

FINCA USA, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote economic development through self-employment. With a two step lending program, this microenterprise program offers loans of $500-$6,000, basic entrepreneurial training and technical assistance. To find out more about FINCA USA and our microenterprise program, come to our next orientation.

WHEN: Monday, November 9, 1998. WHERE: 1101 14th Street, NW, Washington DC 20005 — 11th Floor. TIME: 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM. Please call Elizabeth Crittenden at 202-682-1510 ext. 241 to let us know you are coming.


Tasting Society International (formerly Washington Tasting Society)
November/December Calendar of Events

Charlie Adler, cadler@DGS.DGSYS.COM

1) “Great Wines from Down Under: Australian and New Zealand Wine Tasting,” Tues. Nov. 10th, 7:00-9:00 PM, National Press Club, 529 14th St. (“F” St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $38. 2) “America’s Wine Treasures: East Coast vs. West Coast Blind Tasting Showdown,” Wed. Nov. 11th, 7:00-9:00 PM, National Press Club, 529 14th St. ("F" St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $38. 3) “Holiday Wine Xtravaganza with Cocktails 'Round the Clock!” 25% off on all wine orders, Tues. Nov. 17th, 7:00-10:00 PM, National Press Club Ballroom, 529 14th St. (“F” St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $30, in advance. 4) “Wine Basics 101,” Thurs. Dec. 3rd, 7:00-9:00 PM, National Press Club, 529 14th St. (“F” St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $35. 5) “Michael Franz’s Best of the Best: Top Current Wine Releases of 1998,” Wed. Dec. 9th, 7:00-9:00 PM, National Press Club, 529 14th St. ("F" St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $50. 6) Champagnes for the Millennium, more details soon…

Holiday Wines Xtravaganza — 4 Reasons to Go: 1. Taste over 100 different wines and spirits, 2. New cocktail samples every 15 minutes, 3. 25% (yes 25%!) discount on all wine orders, 4. Thanksgiving and holidays around the corner! Interested in a private wine tasting or wine dinner event? Michael Franz, wine columnist for the Washington Post, can entertain groups from 30 - 1000, we take care of all the arrangements, just call (202)333-8992. Reservations: RSVP at (202)333-5588 or email: , or the Reservation Form at our Web Page at


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.



Furnished Housing Wanted
Helen Marieskind,

Temporary furnished housing wanted by responsible, mature woman, non-smoking. Sub-let or house sit two to three months beginning early to mid November. Will care for plants and pets. (202)362-9766. Thank you!


Room Available in House
Phil Shapiro,

We have a room becoming available in our shared student house in the upper northwest DC. Walk to Van Ness subway. One block north of Connecticut Ave. and Nebraska Ave. $400/month. Available Jan. 1, 1999. Nonsmoking. Contact: (202) 686-5465.


House to Share
Louis Lieb,

Takoma, DC. Charming bungalow, quiet neighborhood, near Metro. Porches, fireplace, yard, ample space. Vegetarian friendly. No pets. $475 including utilities. Lou 202-723-5909 or 202-208-0012.


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