Dear Standard Setters:
Below, Connie Ridgway asks whether themail should have some standards for
publication. Oh, I do, but nothing I've received from you so far has been lower than my
standards. (Dorothy nods knowingly in the background.) Now, I don't mean that as a
challenge to you, but as a compliment. If you belong to other E-mail discussion groups or
listservs, you'll recognize that our conversation is much more polite than you'll
encounter on the average list, and the language we use about our elected officials
certainly doesn't begin to approach what they deserve.
Declaring Victory and Moving On (Part II)
Larry Seftor, Larry_Seftor@csi.com
In the December 30 issue of themail I wrote about the tactic
of Declaring Victory and Moving On. Little did I expect it to rear its ugly
head so soon again, but in Camille Barnett's leaving we are seeing a primo example.
Apparently she accomplished all of her five year goals in one year! Not being born
yesterday, I understand that she is leaving due to the renewed ascendancy of the mayor's
office. However, I don't understand why she received over $500,000 of total compensation
for one year's work. Despite all the face-saving comments about internal improvements in
the DC government, everyone knew that Ms. Barnett was brought in to provide a clear
improvement in services to residents. That has not happened. And Ms. Barnett does not
deserve $500,000 of the taxpayers money, particularly not the $95,000 characterized as a
Stephanie Gerard, email@example.com
I so agree with Mr. Goldstein that there is no known benefit to the
District from Congresswoman Norton, and I suspect people are afraid to say she's
incompetent for fear of being politically incorrect. She seems to have won the seat as a
reward for boohooing about her financial irregularities: the little lady was left in a
mess by her big bad husband and of course didn't know anything about it, being the
helpless female. (Somebody send that fool the Barbie doll that whines Math is
hard.) I'd rather have no Congressional rep in Congress than support someone who is
so disdained by the rest of the body and still costing us a bundle. Her office
doesn't even have e-mail. (I tried to contact them about the impeachment situation.)
Mark Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org
While I know some are less than enamored with Delegate Norton's
performance over the past few years, I think we should recognize that she didn't have a
lot to work with as long as Barry was at the helm. Think about what it must have been like
talking with that Congressional crowd with little real power, daily articles in the Post
showing what a dump we live in, and everyone else on your tail. I appreciate the
newsletter because it gives me an idea of what she is doing and it is professional
if she didn't do that, people would complain that she didn't communicate. She could beef
up her web site, however, and work
harder to get real public input through statistically representative polling, etc., and
make it public. In any case, I think she is an asset for our city and I appreciate her
work. But we need more representatives 2 Senators and a Representative based on
population with real votes (to ask for less is stupid). While getting her symbolic
vote back might make us all feel warm and fuzzy, I hope she, the new Mayor, and our
citizens will really push for voting rights at this critical time in our history. As Ed
Barron mentioned, they should be laying the groundwork for our future. I would like to see
more attention given to our shadow Senators Pendleton and Strauss and the work they are
doing. They were not even on the stage of the Mayor's swearing-in ceremony.
Jonetta Rose Barras suggested D.C. citizens call Tom Davis's office
(202/225-1492 or 255-6751) before the Jan. 22 House Subcommittee public hearing to
encourage him to support giving Mayor Williams the full power of mayor back so he can
really do his job. I say let's ring the phone off the hook this is a clear
democracy issue and that would be a move in the right direction. This city has a history
of splitting responsibility up so that nobody is accountable time to change that.
Let's help him get the resources he needs to do the work. The Post reported that
Williams would like public input into where he should purchase his new residence. I think
he should pick a location that could eventually become the site of a Governor's Mansion.
Maybe it should be on a grand vista in line with the District Building any ideas
about how we could do that? Think Big, and we'll get 1/3 of the way.
Hotel: convenient and reasonable, just off Dupont Circle the
Hampshire Hotel at 1310 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Tel 296-7600.
Mary Lou Fahey, email@example.com
I strongly disagree with Mr. Goldstein's assessment of Congresswoman
Norton. Although a Democrat, she worked very effectively with the Republicans in
fashioning several tax breaks for D.C. residents. The effect of the $5000 tax credit for
first time homebuyers should not be underestimated. We were recently able to buy a rental
property in Bethesda at a very good price because our agent said first time buyers were
all heading for DC. In addition, she managed to gain Republican support for a flat tax for
DC residents. It was ultimately killed by the Dems, but she got farther with it than
anyone had the right to expect. She did it because she has gained a great deal of respect
on the Hill.
DC Land Deals The More Things Change, the
More They Stay the Same
Dorothy Brizill, firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past months, there have been a few postings in themail about the
Children's Hospital site, an entire city block bounded by 13th, W, 12th, and V Streets,
one block from the U Street Metro station. The District purchased this and other land
tracts in 1985 from developer Jeffrey Cohen for $12.6 million. Eight years ago, before the
U Street Metro stop was finished and before the city cleared the site of the asbestos
laden Children's Hospital building, the city was demanding $15 million for the property.
However, when the Department of Housing and Community Development sold the block to
developer Donatelli and Klein on December 4th, it claimed that the appraised value of the
land had fallen to approximately $2.25 million. Then it reduced the appraised value to an
asking price of $1.6 million by giving credits to the developer for the anticipated tax
revenues that would be generated by the market priced housing to be constructed on the
tract (individual units are expected to cost about $160,000 each). And Donatelli and Klein
has been required to pay only $200,000 down, with the remaining $1.4 million to be paid in
two equal payments, if and when the first and second phases of the development are
finished. The land sale was completed on December 4, but the title and down payment are
still being held in escrow because the title insurance company has refused to issue title
insurance because of defects in the title. If the deal does eventually go through, we can
only hope that it will be the last in the District's long series of sweetheart land deals.
Let's hope that the DC government's response to today's (Friday) snowfall
is not what we can expect under our new mayor. On my way to work, between 8:15 and 9:00
a.m., I drove on a number of primary and secondary commuter routes Wisconsin,
Nebraska, Military, Alaska, 16th and saw no evidence of snow removal or salt/sand.
Only heavy traffic on the more heavily traveled streets (e.g., Wisconsin) appeared to be
keeping them clean. During my 45 minutes on the road, I saw not one snow plow or salt/sand
truck. A couple hours later, Connecticut near Van Ness still appeared totally untreated
and, with additional snowfall, in worse condition, with traffic passing at a crawl. Is
anyone in charge at DPW? Was there a sick-out to protest anticipated personnel moves by
Mayor Williams? At least, we can be grateful that it wasn't a major snowfall.
Trash Pickup a Day Late
Connie Ridgway, email@example.com
I've lived here 20 years, and my recollection is that the DC government
always picks up the trash a day late after a holiday. So, I'm not sure Ms. Barnett can
take the credit on the gentleman's trash pickup. However, I continue to be disturbed that:
1) the system is so unclear, in that not everyone knows about the schedule of pickups; 2)
the phone numbers to call have been disconnected; and 3) the employees one reaches are
inhospitable. Let's hope this gets changed soon (dare we have high expectations of Mr.
Williams et al?)
Also, I am disturbed at the language used to denigrate Congresswoman
Norton. It's fair to talk about whether she does a good job or not, but can we stay away
from uncivil and ad hominem attacks? It seems that it's too easy to press the
send button on an e-mail missive, and thus a lot of things get sent which we
may think in our heads but then should certainly revise for public consumption after a
good night's sleeping on it. I find that this is the down side of e-mail communication.
The newspaper has some standards for publication should themail?
Friday is trash day for my part of Mt Pleasant. Two holidays in a row. Our
trash was picked up promptly on Saturday morning the day after each of the
holidays. Thanks DPW. Perhaps the question has to do with differential motivation for some
workers compared to others. Maybe the good ones should get praised and a higher esteem in
their own department and among the folks who know them. The others should be told to shape
up or ship out. And meanwhile they should feel a slight chill as people let
them know that bad attitudes and slipshod performance no longer get high esteem ratings in
The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of you may remember my inputs to the D.C. Story about a year and a
half ago recommending that UDC be converted to another form of educational institution
because it was failing miserably in its intended mission. At that time I recommended
notifying all the teaching staff that they would be terminated. This notification was
required since the union contract stipulated that teachers were entitled to a one year
notification prior to their termination. Nobody was notified and, when the new university
president came aboard, he let many of the teachers go with the approval of the Control
Board. Guess what?? The teachers who were let go are now suing the city and they will most
certainly win their suit for back pay. The chickens have come home to roost.
And They're Supposed to Be on OUR Side!
Lorie Leavy, email@example.com
After reading People for the American Way's full page Post ad
decrying the impeachment process, I visited their new web site ( http://www.stateofhteunion.org ) hoping to find
an easy way to e-mouth off to the Senate leadership. And, yes, the site does offer an
opportunity to write comments for delivery to senators. But when I entered my D.C. ZIP
code, I was rebuffed with the message, Skip this step [i.e., the writing of
comments]. There are no senators at your locale.
How demoralizing that PFAW, tireless and well-funded defender of our civil
liberties, seems just as willing as the Republican Party to deny D.C. residents a voice.
In the end, my indignation completely redirected, PFAW got the piece of my mind that I was
unable to give the Senate. You may wish to offer them some constructive criticism as well.
Natural Gas Free Market
Gabe Goldberg, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcus Rosenbaum asked: Is there any reason I should stick with
Washington Gas rather than pick a cheaper supplier?
Here's a better reason to stick with them than WGL's longevity: For more
than five years, WGL has made available meeting rooms for community groups such as CPCUG
(Capital PC User Group) Internet SIG (special interest group). WGL people are friendly and
helpful, and meeting facilities are excellent. I'm not sure an out-of-town conglomerate or
a local startup company would be quite so community minded. For me, if the price
difference is small, I might vote to spend the pennies in the community.
[The Public Service Commission of DC has what it describes as a
consumer education program to augment Washington Gas and the natural gas supplier's
information about the pilot program. To have a representative of the Public Service
Commission make a presentation at a meeting of your ANC or civic organization, call
626-5120. Gary Imhoff]
A Milestone for the Quality of Life
Larry Seftor, Larry_Seftor@csi.com
One of the problems in evaluating the quality of life in DC is that
because of the slow pace of change, one becomes acclimated to the status quo, and loses
sight of what has been. My wife and I took a few minutes the other night to list the movie
theaters that existed in DC only a few years ago, but are now gone. Our list is: the
Paris, the Jennifer, the MacArthur, the Key, the Biograph, the Fine Arts, the Cerebrus,
the Embassy, and the West End. The list came quickly to mind because these were
institutions that were a regular part of our routine. From time to time we hear about
grand plans for new movie palaces in DC, but the fact is that we live and work and play in
DC today. And today, at least in this one respect, DC is less than it used to be.
Information on Mrs. Simpson's
Nefretiti Makenta, email@example.com
Does anyone know any former employees of Mrs. Simpson's Restaurant? I am
working on a story about the restaurant's closing. If you have any information, please
contact Nefretiti Makenta at the Washington City Paper, 202-332-2100 ext. 458. Thank you.
Postal Rates Go Up
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't ever remember them going down, but on Sunday, 10 January, first
class postage rates go up a penny to 33 cents for the first ounce. Subsequent ounce rates
stay at 22 cents. Soooo, it's time to load up on those one cent stamps until you use up
those nice 32 cent stick-on stamps.
January Edition of NARPAC Web Site Looks to
Len Sullivan, email@example.com
The National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital has revised
its web site for January (See What's New? at http://www.narpac.org
) with new headline summaries, new correspondence, reference to Chicago's moves towards
regionalization, and quotes from the Washington Post's editorial supporting
abolition of the DC subcommittees of the Congress. NARPAC's latest editorial view urges
the new Mayor not to neglect the long-term systemic changes needed to invalidate
criticisms that DC still: wants to bribe people to live here; seeks federal subsidies to
support its oversized local government; subsidizes federal lobbyists at the expense of
small businesses; erects barriers to gentrification of run-down neighborhoods; and is
distrusted by the Congress.
The site also provides preliminary tabulations of the major long-term
changes required to make DC a truly exceptional American city in each of eight functional
areas (e.g., education, economic development) and estimates the progress (if any) so far.
We encourage comments and suggestions for improving this early straw man and developing it
into a score sheet for progress towards a permanently first-rate capital metro area. Many
of the suggestions involve efficient regional solutions to common regional problems. Take
Interested in a Good Hike? The Wanderbirds Hiking Club meets every Sunday
at 8:00 a.m. at two locations in the area; one is 17th and K Streets, NW. We take a bus to
the trail, hike a few miles, return to the bus for beer and munchies, and then back to
17th and K. Two challenging hikes are scheduled every week (rain, shine, or weather) which
include a moderate hike and a long hike, and beginners are welcome. You can check out the
hiking schedule on the Wanderbirds Web site at http://www.erols.com/hcooper/wbirds.htm
. If you are interested in signing up for a hike, call one of the hike leaders listed on
the schedule. They will be happy to give you detailed information.
ACCESS: Networking in the Public Interest will be producing
Non-Profit Career Fair & Expo '99 at the Washington Convention Center on
Thursday, April 8. It will serve as a forum for DC-area nonprofits to recruit employees,
interns, volunteers, and program applicants. Exhibitors will be drawn from all areas of
the nonprofit sector as well as socially responsible businesses and selected government
agencies. Admission at the door is $5 to students w/ valid ID and $15 for non-students.
For more information, contact ACCESS: Networking in the Public Interest, 1001 Connecticut
Avenue, NW, Suite 838, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 785-4212, http://www.accessjobs.org
Microenterprise Program Orientation Session
Rachel Bird Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org
FINCA USA is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to promote
economic development through self-employment. FINCA USA may be able to help you with group
and individual loans (potential for $5,000 in 10 months, starting with a $500 loan), small
business training (enroll in a class on financing, bookkeeping, and marketing), peer
support (join a self-employment business association and benefit from
networking). Come to our next orientation session to find out more about our
microenterprise program: Monday, January 18, 6:308:30 pm, FINCA USA Offices, 1101
14th Street, NW, 11th floor. Please call Elizabeth Crittendon at 202-682-1510, ext. 241,
to reserve a place and let us know you are coming.
Thoroughly charming rental in Adams Morgan available. It is a one bedroom
condo unit. Available immediately. Washer-dryer, dish washer, central air, balcony
overlooking a private garden, plenty of light, new paint, good storage space. Rent
approximately $915/month. Call Gary at (703) 658-9105.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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and plain text versions of themail, use the subscription form at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/subscribe.htm
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