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December 6, 1998

Taxed Without Representation

Dear Motto Voters and Non-voters:

Yes, we have a winner, and the vote margin was decisive. Readers of themail preferred “Taxed Without Representation” as the motto of the District of Columbia, and gave it 61 votes to 34 votes for the runner-up, “DC — the Last Colony.” That's 64 percent of the vote or, if you count the five people who voted against both of the mottos or against the motto contest entirely, 61 percent of the vote. By the way, the mailing list for themail is currently about 1400 people, and an E-mail response of 100 votes in one week from that base of subscribers is incredible and unheard of. Thanks for participating.

I'll write a letter to all the incoming Councilmembers, to Mayor elect Williams, and to Delegate Norton, describing the motto contest and our final vote, and requesting the Council to adopt “Taxed Without Representation” as our new state motto. I think they should. I'm rather pleased, actually, at the prospect of classes of third graders all across the United States learning state capitols and state mottos, and at the image of their teachers having to explain to them why the District of Columbia's motto would be “Taxed Without Representation.”

You've sent in several very thoughtful messages for this issue; they should provide fodder for our conversations for awhile.

Gary Imhoff


Council Chair Line-up
John Olinger,

Public Works: Ambrose; Human Services: Catania; Finance and Revenue: Allen (will shake the perception that all anyone east of the river cares about is social services, while bringing a non-downtown perspective to the source of so many of our problems, the way DC residents and businesses are taxed); Judiciary: Orange; Education: Patterson; Consumer and Regulatory Affairs: Mendelson; Economic Development: Evans (see if he can talk his developer backers into looking beyond downtown);  Government Operations: Schwartz. Do away with Local/Regional/Federal Committee. That leaves Mr. Chavous free to spend more time to make money and he may be able to make a few more Council sessions; it leaves La Presidenta Jarvis free to take a course in teleprompter reading so she can redo her commercial for Southeastern University and ease into her well deserved and overdue retirement; and it will just leave Mr. Brazil to be Mr. Brazil.


Crime Reporting
James Whitelaw,

Like many, I suspect, I get most of my information about local crime from the Thursday issue of the Washington Post, carefully reading for crimes which have occurred in my neighborhood and areas my wife and I frequent. Occasionally I would look for a specific report for a crime I had heard about and found it missing from the list. Sometimes it would show up the next week, sometimes not. My intuition is that there is an appreciable amount of slippage in reporting of crimes that eventually make it into the Post. Part of my concern is that these capsule reports in the Post are sometimes our only alert to serious crimes
occurring nearby and have not otherwise made it on to the news.

Additionally, the Washington Post's DC version of Crime Watch (found every Thursday in the District Weekly) does not include the following categories which regularly appear in the suburban versions, namely: Assaults, Indecent Exposures, Motor Vehicle Thefts, and Vandalism. These categories seem to be below the radar of the Post. Perhaps they are so plentiful the reporting of them in print would create an undue burden on the newspaper. Does this bother any other than myself? Lately Kathy Smith's newsletter has filled in some of the gaps at least in our immediate neighborhood. But adjoining areas are not covered. She also has been promoting more neighborhood participation in police issues by regular meetings with our local Police reps. Her online newsletter, Comunit-E, which covers PSA 202 — AU Park, Friendship Heights & Tenleytown, can be subscribed to by E-mailing her at


Arlene Ackerman's Skills
Bob Donahue,

I have read themail closely since its inception and resisted the urge to write until now. My area of particular interest is DCPS, which I feel is an outrage that has been neglected by the media, the politicians and business leaders in the District. Last I checked the schools budget was over $600 million, large enough to place it as one of the largest corporations in the DC area. While the mission of DCPS is simple, “to make dramatic improvements in the achievement of all students today in preparation for their world tomorrow,” achieving this mission requires leadership to navigate an extremely complex list of goals and objectives. A school district is a highly complex and decentralized organization, requiring leadership to achieve its academic mission by mastering the complexities of purchasing, human resource management, finance and budgeting, transportation, grant writing, strategic planning, facilities management, information systems among several others. It is a dizzying, overwhelming endeavor in itself, made even more difficult when all those links have been mismanaged for years. DC has attempted to solve the problem in many ways (high paid consultants, new leadership) but, I maintain, the city has failed to keep the pressure on. DC vacillates between managing DCPS on high priority and then benign neglect.

Currently, the system is in a doldrums phase. Having observed Mrs. Ackerman for sometime, I believe she is a good academic leader, but not the transformational leader who can get under the dysfunctional culture and mismanagement that plagues the system. An educator by training, she has succeeded in the difficult task of running a school. However, running a $600 million organization, transforming a low-performing organization and overseeing the disparate parts essential to achieving the mission, are not skills one obtains through a career of teaching students, running parent meetings or conducting bake sales. I applaud Mrs. Ackerman for attending the Urban Superintendent's Program at Harvard (although she never finished her degree) and her work at Seattle (a system where she took the reins of an already functional system), but feel she has met her match in DC. She has made strides in continuing the work of past administrations in establishing academic standards and is finally starting to overhaul special education. Yet, one should look to see how many of her top staff have left or are leaving out of frustration. What DCPS needs, and needs badly, is a proven leader with the experience, management skill and mastery of detail necessary to transform the organization for performance.


DC Schools
Lee Perkins,

[Arlene Ackerman] can't attract top performers until she can offer them the same things her competition does. Right now she can't offer them much of anything. Therefore, I feel she is perfectly justified in making the improvements she is making. You have to walk before you can run.


Education: Tops and Bottoms
Lucy Mallan,

I think Ted Gest is right ... and it is in the short run more disgraceful to have the terrible showing we do at the bottom than to have vacant spaces on the other tail of the bell curve (ouch). I only hope that system attention is turned to the gifted very soon ... or else the brain drain and tax drain will surely continue.


Ed T. Barron,

Mayor elect Williams is about to embark on a benchmarking tour of those cities in the U.S. that have demonstrated excellent turn around. Benchmarking is a great idea and saves the reinvention of the wheel. It is not, however, as easy as copying from someone's test paper during an exam. Benchmarking takes some real effort to learn not only what processes are in place and working, but also the why these processes are working. This means learning the skill levels of those implementing the process, their motivation for making things work, and the tools/training that they are provided.

Once the new Mayor finds some great processes in these cities he will visit, he will then have to form a good team in the relevant D.C. government department for each process. These teams should then visit and participate in the process implementation at the benchmarked city. And, perhaps, some of the benchmarked city's folks could come to D.C. as part of an exchange program to help get the process working here.


DPW to Cut Down Trees on MacArthur Boulevard
Patrick Shaugness,

DPW plans to cut down what seem to be eight healthy trees during its reconstruction of MacArthur Boulevard, now expected to start on Monday, December 7th. I'm familiar with the site and there's no basis for this. DPW says its policy is to avoid cutting down trees unless "unavoidable." The project was scheduled to begin Friday the 4th. Contractors didn't show up, and now DPW says it will first consult with its Horticulturist before trees come down. Washington's mature street trees are among our most valuable assets and give us a competitive advantage over the comparatively treeless and arid burbs. If you agree contact DPW and Council member below to make sure DPW follows its own rules, a careful review is made and neighbors get a chance to inspect the site with DPW. If you read this message after Monday and are concerned, call anyway in the event trees are given a reprieve until later in the week.

DPW Engineers Gary Burch and John Fleming [Project Construction Engineer] at 939-8060; Horticulturist Bill Beck 727-5559, 5319, fax 724-1406; DC Councilmember Kathy Patterson fax 724-8118. For further information contact Patrick Shaughness, ANC Commissioner-Elect, 364-9657.


Man Made Potholes
Damian Buckley,

Some of the things we might want to bring to the attention of Anthony Williams is the fun a lot of us are having slaloming down various streets in the District trying to avoid the patches created by DPW. These patches are repairs to repairs. Where water/gas cuts have been made and resurfacing done very badly, DPW has gone in and opened up those cuts again, filled them with cement up to an inch from the top and left the vast majority of them throughout the district. Why cant the repairs be done properly in the first place?

Postscript, sent two days later: Since my last message to you, the potholes on my drive home have been fixed. Now what about the leaf collection.......


Ward Three Democrats Elect Officers
Linda Finkel-Talvadkar, 202-363-8827, talvadkar,

The Ward Three Democratic Committee held its Biennial Meeting on November 17, 1998 to seat its newly elected delegates and alternates, elect eleven at-large representatives to the Committee, and officers and area representatives to the Executive Board. The Executive Board Officers for the 1999-2000 Committee are Thorn Pozen, Chairperson; Allen Beach, First Vice Chairperson; Jacquelyn Randolph, Second Vice Chairperson; Brian Lederer, Treasurer; Horace Kreitzman, Recording Secretary; John Welsh, Corresponding Secretary; and Judy Hubbard Saul, Financial Secretary.

The Ward Three Democrats meet the fourth Tuesday of every other month, September through May, at St. Luke's Methodist Church, Calvert St. at Wisconsin Ave., NW at 7:30 pm. All meetings are open to the public. For a roster of the Committee membership or other information call Thorn Pozen, Chair (942-6196) or Linda Finkel-Talvadkar (363-8827).


Wharfing Around
Sharon Kissel,

This tidbit was in the electronic version of today's (12/03/98) LA Times. It somehow slipped by me in the local papers — or did they miss it?? I guess the LA Times found this bit of legislative news involving a California congressman very newsworthy.

“PORK ON THE POTOMAC: Which is not to say that lawmakers never do anything for the District or, at least, for themselves and their friends who live here. Rep. Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham (R-San Diego) recently added $3 million to the D.C. budget to finance the renovation of the Washington marina and its wharf. Not only does Cunningham live on a yacht near the marina, he stipulated that the District will not get the money unless it signs a 30-year lease with the family that operates the marina.”


Wouldn’t It Be Lovely
Ed T. Barron,

A great solution to the traffic and accident problems could be solved on the Beltway and I-95 if there were no trucks on I-95 and I-495. It seems that the mix of trucks and cars may be the cause of many of the accidents on this busy road. It would be ideal if trucks could be banned from the Interstates around Washington. That is a dream the the trucking lobbyists would have no trouble shooting down since the roads were built with Federal funds. There has been talk over the years of another Beltway to bypass Washington. If that road were built as a Parkway (no trucks) much of the traffic that goes through the city might reroute itself and reduce the amount of cars on the Interstates in and near D.C.


Against Both Mottos
Victor Chudowsky,

I am against both of your potential slogans, “Taxation Without Representation” and “The Last Colony.” Both slogans suggest that DC's problems are the result of our unusual status and place the blame on the Federal government. True, we are taxed without representation, but what are we going to do about it? DC is not going to be a state in our lifetime, and the Congress is not going to give Rep. Holmes-Norton a vote. The second slogan is inaccurate — we're not the last colony; we share the honor with PR, Guam and the US Virgin Islands. PR can't make up its mind what it wants to be — state, independent nation or colony. There are parties representing each option, and my understanding is that currently none has majority support. Not that Congress is that eager to settle the issue through a vote.

But again, my objection is this — who or what is to blame for the deplorable condition of the District? Over 200,000 people have voted with their feet and left the District since 1980. Why? Is it because of colonialism? Taxation without representation? If that were the case, then people would have started moving out 100 years ago instead of 20 years ago, and DC would be a nice office park with monuments, but no residents. I would assert that the poor performance of our own elected government is most to blame for this almost Biblical exodus. Funny how “oppression” only kicked in with the election of Barry. Some of us hate our relationship with Congress, but let's get something straight — it was Congress that forced the current political changes here, by challenging the entrenched “ineptocracy,” currently about to lose power (hopefully). The District, being unfortunately 80% Democratic, has no real organized opposition party truly competitive with the governing one — in a democracy this is what keeps our rulers honest. With the lack of an opposition party, Congress fortunately has stepped in and played the part of one.

Think of it this way — no Faircloth, no Tony Williams!


For Both Mottos
James Whitelaw,

As I originally suggested it, I have to vote for my submission; “DC — Taxed Without Representation.” But contrary to rumors bandied about I have not been bribing Jim Moran to make moranic statements about DC to promote interest in my slogan. Perhaps in the event of a tie, a hyphenated version would be acceptable. I.E. “DC — The Last Colony — Taxed Without Representation.”


December Edition of NARPAC, Inc. Web Site Analyses 3 New Reports
Len Sullivan,

The National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital has revised its web site for December (see “What's New?” at ) with new headline summaries, new correspondence to major players in DC's future, and summaries and analyses of three new reports: CMO Barnett's first annual report on service improvements and management reforms; Dr. Rivlin's Annual Report to the Congress; and the “Citizens Plan for DC Economic Resurgence.” Each paints a different picture of DC's initial steps in transformation from its own perspective, and each has limitations. But all three describe an incomplete, evolving process which — if diligently pursued for several more years — can make DC a better place. The question now is how much better.

In addition to an estimate of inflation in the voter registration rolls, and a discussion of the problems in the elected school board, NARPAC, Inc., offers its latest editorial view, cautioning against complacency in the euphoria of the November elections. Based on a sampling of this month's headlines, DC's government, despite progress, is still seriously dysfunctional and will require the new mayor's diligent attention at all levels. Feel free to visit — and comment.



John Eaton Christmas Tree Sale
Leila Afzal,

Come do your holiday shopping with us. The John Eaton Elementary School is sponsoring a Christmas Tree and Wreath sale on Dec. 12th and 13th. (Actually, it is going on for two weekends, but I missed the Wed. posting before the first weekend.) The trees are fresh, there is lots of variety and the wreaths make a wonderful addition to your holiday decorating. The after school program will also be holding a rummage sale at the same time.

During the week of December 7 - 11, we are sponsoring a book fair. It's a great chance to get all the little readers in your life their “book presents while supporting a wonderful cause. There will also be books for the adults in your life as well as some educational software and stocking stuffers. The Fair is being held in the school library. It is open in the mornings from 8-10 and in the evenings from 3-6. We will have extended hours on Wed. until 8:00 p.m. John Eaton is located at the corner of Lowell and 34th Streets, NW. Hope to see you there.


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