Well Cross that Bridge in themail
In honor of Thanksgiving, I'm not writing anything myself. I'm sure it
will be an even shorter themail on Sunday, in honor of the four day weekend. There's one
more chance to convince your fellow themailers to choose Taxed Without
Representation or DC The Last Colony as our motto before voting
starts next week. Enjoy your holiday, and don't forget to write home.
New Council Chairs
Beth Solomon, Shaw Coalition, email@example.com
Of 11 D.C. Councilmembers who faced the voters in 1998, seven were
rejected. So here are some suggestions for new committee chairs. The methodology was: (1)
take advantage of councilmembers' strengths, and (2) retract authority from those who have
abused it. Mendelson jumps the seniority protocol because of his excellent work on
regulatory issues. The planning function is moved out of the Committee of the Whole, where
it has been dormant, to a reconstituted Public Works, Planning and
Allen - Human Services; Ambrose - Public Works, Planning &
Environment; Catania - Judiciary; Chavous - Economic Development; Mendelson - Consumer
& Reg.; Orange - Gov't Ops.; Patterson - Finance and Revenue
The November 22 Washington Post tells us more about that
Washington scandal which was revealed by Loose Lips (no, silly, the City Paper
one, not the White House one). This concerns Mayor Marion Barry's single-handed exercise
of self love in appointing Marion But where is the snow of yesteryear Barry to
the District Sports and Entertainment Commission, where he would have access to the perks
of the position and continued association with the wheelers and the dealers. This might
include being invited to skybox seats at our exceptionable new downtown arena (L'etat,
c'est MCI). Though the appointment became effective in October due to our Council
inaction, Tony Williams now wants Barry's resignation so that Williams can make his own
Also, now we know about another part of the Barry legacy. Inspector
General Prettyman has begun personally investigating the DC Office of Cable Television for
low crimes and misdemeanors in the funding of the gala celebration of the Barry legacy
recently held at (where else) MCI Center. Allegations include shredding of documents to
cover up forged signatures. It seems that this office with its somewhat less than two
million dollar annual budget is one of the tiny tiny slivers of the pie which was left
under the Mayor's control when all else was transferred to the Control Board. I tell you,
January 2 cannot come too soon.
The Next Steps
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Arlene Ackerman, Chief School Administrator of the DCPS, has taken the
first step to make the DCPS a viable school system. To make that first step work she must
take two follow-on steps that will lead to an inflow of capable new teachers to the DCPS
classrooms. These steps are: 1- Establish a set of standards for all of the schools for
class size, standardized test score results, graduation rate, attendance (and perhaps
more). These standards should be phased in over a period of time with interim standards
for each year until all the target standards are in full force; 2- Reward those schools
with cash bonuses as they achieve, or exceed, the escalating interim goals that have been
established. Virginia is already doing this and it is the best way to reward performance.
Merit pay for teachers doesn't work because it inspires competition and cronyism as
opposed to cooperation when each school views itself as a team. Both of these steps will
inspire teachers to come to the DCPS and to teach in the classrooms.
And just what should the new Mayor be doing to help the DCPS? To begin
Tony Williams must establish the evolution of the DCPS as one of his two first priorities
as Mayor. He can get some help from Congress if he plays his hand correctly. More about
that in my allotted two paragraphs in the next issue of this tome.
New Teachers and the Accuracy of the Voting Rolls
Kerry Jo Richards, email@example.com
I wanted to respond to Ed T. Barron's suggestion that retired military and
the like be allowed to teach in the DC (and other) school system. Great Idea! Innovative
ideas for teaching our kids need to be implemented. Too many people think that there's
only one kind of teacher an early education/child development major. Yet when you
look at the private schools you find that there are many teachers who are teaching history
because they majored in history or math because they majored in math. I have two
roommates who teach in a private school. Both graduated from good colleges with high GPAs.
Both focused or majored in the subjects they are teaching. Both coach after school sports
and sponsor clubs. Both are learning to be great teachers. Yet they could not teach in a
public school. Everyone talks about how great private schools are, asking if we should use
vouchers so that kids can go to private schools, trying to adopt private school ideas and
policies. Wouldn't it make sense to adopt some of the techniques used to recruit their
teachers? Another example is Teach for America. Carefully screened and selected volunteers
teach in areas desperately short of teachers (inner city urban as well as rural). They are
given a summer of intensive teacher training to supplement their college education and
their work experience. Then they teach. Most must get their teacher certification on the
side after they begin their post (which they commit to for two years). And your college
professors? Most have advanced degrees in their field, not in education. I think it's time
we expanded our notion of a good teacher's background.
A quick side note on voter registration. Jason Juffras wrote that
The Board contacted all of the potential double registrants and has used the
information it received to remove more than 3,000 voters from the D.C. voter list.
Non-respondents were referred to the U.S. Attorney's office for investigation and possible
prosecution. As a new DC resident who voted in DC for the first time this election,
I hope I'm not one of those double voters! I assumed that they would delete me off the old
rolls when I indicated on the registration form that I previously voted in Montgomery
County. Was I incorrect? Do I need to do something proactive to make sure I'm not listed
in two places? If anyone knows, I'm sure there are others in my situation. Thanks.
Regarding DC's voter rolls, Jason Juffras is right to point out the ways
in which Council is enabling the Board of Elections and Ethics to weed out unqualified
voters, even if the Council won't support a bill requiring some form of identification
when you show up to vote. It's ironic that the Board of Education accepts a voter ID card
as valid proof of District residence, but you can get a voter ID on the honor
system without any proof of residence.
An example of how many phantom voters are on the rolls arose
in my own single-member district. Nonforwardable first-class mail sent to each voting
household produced nearly five hundred returned envelopes because the voters no longer
live at those addresses (two hundred came back from dormitory addresses). From one SMD.
Extrapolating these numbers out suggests the voter rolls are bloated with nonresidents,
which (a) distorts the initiative process, (b) forces candidates to spend more money, and
(c) adds significantly to BOEE maintenance costs. (It's also an invitation to fraud.)
As redistricting nears, cleaning out the dead wood seems more and more
important. Let's support more of what the Governmental Operations Committee is doing, and
let's make sure the interstate compact is fully implemented; that should have prevented
the multi-state registrations recently discovered.
In your last issue, Mike Hill wondered: Would this whole mess have
been billed as a 'life or death human drama' if the jumper had not been a young black man,
despondent about losing a custody battle with the unmarried mother of his child? Would we
have been willing to give up more time if the jumper had been a white middle-class Hill
I don't think we even need to play the race card on this one, Mr. Hill.
Don't you know we live in the Kevorkian Age of disposable people? Where a poll revealed
something like 13% of respondents said they would abort a fetus if they knew the child
would be predisposed toward obesity? So, to answer your question, apparently many felt
that 3-5 hours was way too long to be inconvenienced to save a human life.
Troubled Bridge Over Waters
Lee Perkins, firstname.lastname@example.org
The bridge incident reminds me of something on the Greaseman show about 15
years ago. Where I worked we listened every morning whether we wanted to or not. It was
the boss' radio. A dog got onto the METRO tracks during rush hour bring the system to a
halt for a couple of hours. As the congestion built, Grease took a poll on whether the dog
lived or died. An overwhelming majority of call-ins voted that the train should have just
run the dog down and gone on its way. To the suburbanites I referred to earlier, DC
residents are in the same category.
I reserve judgment on whether or not the Wilson bridge should have stayed
closed the whole time while that crazy guy was threatening to jump. Hindsight is always
20/20. And, besides, what if a few lanes had remained opened and before he jumped, this
guy decided to "get even with society." I could see it now the lawyers
would be having a field day!
My thoughts turn to the other Wilson Bridge melodrama. All enlightened
minds must agree the current Wilson Bridge needs to be rebuilt and soon. The recent
Washington Post articles (and today's editorial) aptly point out the seriousness
of the situation, if something's not done soon. Yet the NIMBYs in old town successfully
have fought off a 14 lane bridge, since reduced to 12 lanes, soon to reduced to 10
lanes(?). They threaten to litigate this issue well into the 21st century. O what the
heck, instead of reasonable compromise (community spirit), give and take and recognition
that we all are in the Washington, DC, region together and should try to cooperate to
resolve this area's transportation problems, let's just litigate the bridge issue to death
and maybe nothing will be done. Then one day, maybe, the old bridge will just collapse
into the Potomac. And viola! No more beltway traffic problem near Old Town!
Suburbanites and DCitizens
Rob Pegoraro, email@example.com is still speaking only for himself, but y'all knew that,
I can only hope that the people Cathy Vidito hears from who don't want to
drive across the Key Bridge to the Black Cat are a minority. I know, however, that I've
yet to encounter any such clueless individual myself. I also know that the streets around
the 9:30 Club are usually full with more than their share of cars sporting Maryland and
But whatever... what I'm really puzzled by is the whole nonsense over who
lives on what side of the Potomac or Western Avenue (hmm, can't say I've heard of so much
one-upmanship around Eastern or Southern Avenues). The District is not that big; we're
talking about the equivalent of SoHo dwellers getting mad about those commuter parasites
in Brooklyn who retreat across the river and the area code boundary after work so they can
pay less rent.
So why is it that I keep meeting people who are like Virginia's just
scary to me, I don't go there? I mean, grow up; the thought that simply staying on
one side of the District line means you're somehow keepin' it real is at least as silly as
the must flee from the city, must drive everywhere at all times
Have we learned anything for the next
Larry Seftor, Larry_Seftor@csi.com
Mike Hill suggests that in the recent Wilson Bridge incident that a life
was saved at the cost of inconvenience to drivers. Nice try Mike, but the facts are not
quite so simple. In actuality, the police eventually forced the issue by shooting a
beanbag at the individual, he ended up in the water, and he survived. But
there is no evidence to suggest that the same outcome could not have occurred much earlier
in the day. In fact, I suggest that by waiting until dark, the police exacerbated the
problem, since the water recovery had to be made without the advantage of daylight.
Furthermore, as noted in the Post, in San Francisco such problems are routinely
handled on the Golden Gate Bridge without similar disruptions.
No one is suggesting that a life should be forfeited to save a little
time. But next time, if it is summer and the heat index approaches 100, what should the
decision of the police be? Will anything have been learned from this incident?
Mail to the Chief
Jeffrey Itell, Story@intr.net
Mike Hill writes: Regarding Chief Ramsey's closing of the Wilson
Bridge, it seems to me that all of this comes down to one major point: how much is a human
Exactly right. The daycare center tells me my two-year-old is throwing up,
running a fever, and dehydrated. The daycare center closes two hours before The Chief
opens the Bridge.
I unknowingly sniff a whiff of peanuts, causing encephalitic shock between
Springfield Mall and Telegraph Road.
My neighbor calls to tell me that a broken water pipe is turning the
second level of my duplex into the next incarnation of Sea World. Waters reach Noahs
Ark-heights when I return two days later. (A Grinch of a pipe caused a similar disaster to
my neighbors on Erev Christmas.)
In the Lenny Skutnick (not Sputnik) era, a huge rush-hour snowfall
combined with twin, simultaneous disasters Metros first fatal crash and Pan
Am 103s (?) crash into the 14th Street Bridge brought Beltway traffic to a halt. My
20-minute commute turned into a four-hour cruise. I suffered no lasting damage, but I did
wish the roadmasters had placed a Jiffy John every mile or so.
Please dont view the Wilson Bridge closing as an us versus
suburbanites issue. Chief Ramsey failed to adequately weigh the risks of all parties
to the madness.
Motto: Taxed Without Representation
Art Spitzer, firstname.lastname@example.org
I voted for Taxed Without Representation because it conveys a
clear and accurate message that most people across the country will be surprised to hear,
and to which they will react by exclaiming that's un-American! By contrast,
The Last Colony, while more poetic, is not true (it ignores Puerto Rico, Guam
& the Virgin Islands) and most people will have no idea what message it is intended to
convey; they'll probably think it's a tourist slogan.
I vote for taxed without representation as the DC slogan,
since we're not actually the last colony! Maybe we could have another colony
slogan, something like, DC: In solidarity with Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the
US Virgin Islands.
Motto: DC the Last Colony
Jeff Fletcher, jeff_tara @msn.com
It's not worth a week's deep reflection. DC The Last
Colony is a hands-down winner. For those of us were born, raised, and still live
here, the word colony most correctly reflects our status. And I've found that
the motto has more attention getting, bumper sticker PR value, especially to people
outside the Beltway, than the nearest competitor motto, which sounds like a plaintive and
somewhat unintelligible tax protest that could apply to almost any special interest group.
Colony is the right way to go. We can't have our votes counted on the medical
benefits of marijuana, we can't name our own streets, and, with the
demise of the federal payment, we're now (even when home rule is restored) permanent
financial lackeys of Congressional and federal overseers. That's colonial status.
DC The Last Colony still gets my vote. While the other
finalist, Taxed Without Representation, might appear indistinguishable from
The Last Colony, I see the taxation issue as just one (granted, the most
egregious) symptom of our colonial status. The Last Colony also describes a
mentality that exists among the overseers, call it a plantation mentality if you will,
that allows them to run roughshod over our rights.
This is an unsolicited testimonial: A few weeks ago, I posted a plea for
meeting space for the northwest D.C. Scrabble club, which is being displaced by renovation
at the Chevy Chase Community Center. I didn't expect much, because we had surveyed many
alternate meeting places. But Fresh Fields on upper Wisconsin Avenue came through with an
offer of space. So we are now alternating on Tuesday nights between Fresh Fields and the
Chevy Chase branch library. Hurrah for Fresh Fields! Anyone out there who wants more
information on our club, please e-mail me.
Go Van Gogh Go! Exclusive for the Tasting Society
Charlie Adler, email@example.com
December events: 1) 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; 2) Michael Franzs Best of the Best:Top Current Wine
Releases of 1998, Wed. Dec. 9th, 7:00-9:00 pm, National Press Club, $50; 3)
Van Gogh with the Tasting Society, Thurs. Dec. 10th, 3 pm, National Gallery of
Art, on Constitution Ave., NW (between 3rd and 7th St., Metro Judiciary Square on the Red
Line, Archives on the Yellow/Green Lines, and Smithsonian on the Blue/Orange Lines) $65,
in advance, very limited availability. RSVP at (202)333-5588 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org , or the Reservation Form at our Web
Page at http://www.tastedc.com/reservations.html
CLASSIFIEDS HOUSING WANTED
Seeking Month-to-Month Room or Apartment Rental
Helena Katz, email@example.com
Looking for month-to-month apartment or house room rental in a nice and
safe neighborhood, convenient to metro and parking in D.C., Arlington or Silver Spring.
Willing to share space, but need my own room. Please leave a message at (703) 281-4928
Ext. 308 (Helena).
CLASSIFIEDS SERVICES WANTED
Anyone Know a Good Piano Teacher?
Andrea Carlson, BintaGay@aol.com
I'm looking for private piano lessons, either in my home or the
instructor's. Can anyone recommend someone?
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
1995 Plymouth Neon. Red, roof rack, 4 Door, a/c, manual 51,000 miles. Some
minor body damage, runs great. Asking $3,500 or best offer. This is well below the
bluebook value of the car (check it out!) we can't afford two cars and need to sell
soon. Please e-mail to the above address or call 202-518-9449 and speak to Heidi.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, firstname.lastname@example.org
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
WILLIAMS' ROOTS JOURNEY: Anthony Williams' barnstorming across D.C. this year was an
opportunity for the candidate to re-connect with his African-American roots. After
spending much of his life among whites at Ivy League schools, at the top levels of
municipal governments in Boston, New Haven and St. Louis, and as the chief financial
officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Williams was attempting to convince black
voters in the District that he hadn't forgotten his own beginnings.
Read the entire Loose Lips column this Friday at: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/lips.html
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early
warnings for upcoming events:
THURSDAY, DEC. 3: Philippe Halsman: A Retrospective. Yvonne Halsman talks
about her more than 40 years of working with her husband at noon Thursday, Dec. 3, and the
gallery's curator of photographs, Mary Panzer, will lead a tour of the exhibit, which runs
through Feb. 7, at noon Thursday, Dec. 10. All at the National Portrait Gallery, 8th &
F Sts. NW. Free.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 2: Afro-Cuban Filmmaker Gloria Rolando introduces screenings of two of her
films followed by a reception. At 5 p.m. at Howard University's Armour J. Blackburn Center
Auditorium, 2400 6th St. NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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