Reading the Signs
We're already evaluating Mayor Tony Williams' performance, or at least
since he's hardly had time to really take control of the bureaucracy we're
evaluating how the bureaucracy is reacting to Tony Williams' mayoralty. And here in
themail we're keeping score in the best way possible, by letting each other know whether
anything is getting better in our neighborhoods and on our streets. Below, some early
signs with the Mayor's name on them.
If there is to be an official residence, it should definitely be in Shaw.
This residential neighborhood is literally the geographic heart of the city, as well as
the only residential area truly representative of a racial, ethnic and economic
cross-section of the city. Also, there are many beautiful and deteriorating old homes here
needing renovation and protection. BONUS: several people who live in some of the best have
specifically sworn to sell out and leave if the Convention Center is built, so there may
be some vacancies. One good suggestion might be the Bruce House on M Street (home to one
of the nation's first African American senators), though I for one would prefer a home
deeper in the heart of Shaw (and of course closer to the Mayor's beloved Ben's Chili
While Tony is at it, he could buy and renovate a home himself, using the
many tax advantages available to a first time home buyer (including the $5000 Federal tax
credit), and then donate the home (with a tasty tax write off) to the District when he
leaves office in 8 years. Alternatively, there is a DC incentive that old mansions can be
developed and used as offices by non profits perhaps a foundation can be set up to
serve as steward of the future Governor's Mansion?
Finally, so as to reflect our Mayor's modest grandeur (don't demand
respect, command it), we should find a suitable moniker for the new
home/office. Perhaps something along the lines of NYC's Gracie Mansion, though really
neither Governor's nor Mansion really suits. Perhaps Columbia Cottage?
The Mayor and Medical Marijuana
Alan Abrams, email@example.com
Did the hair on anyone else's neck stand up about a week and a half ago,
when Mayor Williams was responding to calls during a radio interview on WAMU? The Mayor
was asked whether he would consider giving the order to release the election results of
the Medical Marijuana proposition his response was (to the effect of)
...well, I hadn't been focusing on the issue in the last few weeks, but I will be
sure to look into it tonight.
My distinct impression was that Williams was ready and willing to make his
first act as mayor an act of civil disobedience, that of, in effect, contempt of Congress.
When I opened the newspaper the next day, I half expected to see a photo of Williams being
led away in manacles by US marshals (with Rep. Barr in the background, arms folded across
chest), but I have not heard a peep about it since. Does anyone have an update?
[Williams repeated this remark the same afternoon at his press conference.
Independent boards and commissions are made independent for a reason to insulate
them from politics. This independence is especially important for the Board of Elections
and Ethics. Independence was honored mostly in the breach during the Barry years, but,
still, the Mayor is legally unable to order the members of the Board of Elections to do
anything. Were Williams to order the Board to release the election results, which he
hasn't done and won't do, his order would have no legal power or effect. Williams'
response to this question was reminiscent of his comment that he would ask for the
resignation of all members of boards and commissions most of whom are appointed to
definite terms to prevent political interference. So far, neither Williams nor anyone in
his immediate staff seems to quite understand how these things work. Gary Imhoff]
The Williams Administration Gets to Work
Nick Keenan, NBK@GSIONLINE.COM
This morning on the way to work I walked past Kennedy playground. To my
surprise I saw two uniformed Parks and Recreation employees in a pickup truck inside
the playground has a long history of neglect, and it has been a long time since I
have seen maintenance men of any kind working there. So I stopped to ask them what they
were doing. Were they fixing the fence? No. Fixing the playground equipment? No. Fixing
the lights? No. Picking up garbage? No. They were replacing the sign at the entrance. This
struck me as somewhat quizzical. While the playground has a porous fence, inoperable
lights, unusable play equipment, and is strewn with garbage, it has a perfectly functional
sign. While the neighbors have complained for years about the state of the playground, I
have never heard anyone say, And another thing it needs a new sign.
The current sign has one flaw: at one time it contained the name of our
former mayor. That imperfection was corrected with paint in the first week of the Williams
administration (perhaps the first day amazing how fast those P & R guys can
move when they put their minds to it). However, somehow it was decided that the most
pressing need of this playground was ensuring that everyone knew who the mayor was. A tip
for our new mayor: everyone who cares knows who you are. We elected you because we were
sick of misplaced priorities, sick of twenty years of shiny signs on dilapidated
playgrounds. Do something to make a difference first, and then put your name on the
A last word on last Fridays snowstorm. I work out in Montgomery
County and at 3 p.m. started home; the Beltway was jammed so I went down Old Georgetown
and then Wisconsin Avenue. Travel was limited to 10 mpg due to 3 inches of slush on the
road. Accelerating or braking caused spinouts so we all crept along until I crossed into
DC at Western and Wisconsin when all of the slush disappeared and the streets were
wonderfully clean, much better than the roads in MD. It's the first time in 10 years that
has happened that I can remember. Can it be that Tony (Mr. Peepers) Williams managed to
clear the streets?
Yes Snow, No Go
Willie Schatz, firstname.lastname@example.org
So I killed myself for Tony to get the same horrendous no-service I
(didn't) get from Marion? When's the last time make that first time anyone
in AU Park saw a plow? And where's the personal decency and civic responsibility about
shoveling walks? I'm walkin' the dog the asphalt's too icy to run and there
are at least five unshoveled walks for every shoveled one. This is the upper-class Ward
that's the envy of the other seven? NOT! I'm 15 years in the 'hood and it's come to this?
I Thought We Had a New Mayor!
Ed Kane, email@example.com
Our residential street, in the Friendship Heights area of DC, as of late
evening Monday, January 11th, is almost totally covered with the ice that arrived with the
storm of Friday the 8th. Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues are fine, thanks to the volume
of traffic passing over them, but even on Reno Road there was a near fatal accident
yesterday afternoon, due to ice. Any resident of the bad old days of Mayor Barry (remember
the winter of 1995/96?) would feel right at home. As in the Barry days, it would appear
that no action whatsoever has been taken to render our roads safer. To say the very least,
our new mayor has not shone in his first encounter with the elements in the District. In
fact, as far as I can see, he has not even shown.
Steph There haven't been Senators at this location since baseball left town
and that was YEARS ago Faul, firstname.lastname@example.org
When assessing Rep. Norton's record it helps to look back a little. First,
she was elected because her opponent, Betty Ann Kane, was (and is) white. Sorry to bring
up the obvious, but that's the reality. Second, she followed Walter Fauntroy, who could
have made a Persian cat look energetic and effective. When she was first elected she
definitely boosted the city's image in Congress and accomplished a lot. Lately she strikes
me as being shrill and irritable. I personally think it's time for a change, but that's no
slur on her many achievements. Which, as noted, remain VASTLY more impressive than those
of Mr. Fauntroy.
Regarding Camille Barnett's termination package, let us not forget that
she wisely negotiated this agreement with the Control Board before she signed her
contract. Thus, as much as I wouldn't have given her such a sweetheart deal either, she
should not be blamed for her business acumen. The Control Board that gave her this deal
(with our money) is the party that should be hung.
Williams and Barnett
Philip A. Walker, Jr.; email@example.com
I must admit to some qualms about how Anthony Williams handled what
appears to me nothing more than a personality conflict between him and Camille Barnett.
Number one, he forced her out; she likely would have stayed longer if given the chance.
Instead of trying to work with her and attempt some sort of basis for working together, he
said I don't like her, to hell with the taxpayers, she's toast. I know quite a few
potholes could be fixed for what the city now must shell out on her contract. And wouldn't
it have been worth trying to strengthen their relationship, as opposed to so wantonly
throwing away tax funds? That leads to my second point. Camille Barnett by no means has
been a perfect city administrator. But I believe she was beginning to learn the DC power
structure and how to work the D.C. government bureaucracy. That has understandably
occupied much of her time and energy; a city this complex can't be learned overnight. She
also appeared to be conscientiously gathering information on needed reforms but the scope,
quantity and Byzantine extent of the problems she inherited made that no easy undertaking.
So what we have now, is someone new coming in who will no doubt go through same first year
baptism by fire, before really initiating change. I believe Barnett was on the
verge of a breakthrough when Williams forced her out. That will create another year of
unnecessary delay in getting this town turned around.
Hypothetical situation. Williams and Barnett work out their differences.
Williams' administration could then have hit the ground running. The city would then
divert that $500k to improving basic city services Williams claims as a goal.
Instead, Williams has sent a clear message that his so called performance
objectives are just another form of gussied up power politics. At the least, he
could have given her the same opportunities and held her to the same performance review
standards he is implementing on other managers. It concerns me that he did not establish a
consensus behind her dismissal. But most of all, how
could such a bean counter so unnecessarily spend $500k of taxpayer money when
there were other, cheaper options. This portends ill for a mayor swept into office with
promises of fiscal responsibility and a big tent approach to local government.
Apparently his tent wasn't big enough for her and him both, so he took the easy, but very
expensive way out of terminating her.
As I see it, he stumbled badly, not only in cavalierly throwing away $500k
of taxpayer's money, but also recklessly not trying to make their relationship work, given
the obvious advantage of saving funds and putting his administration in a position of
hitting the ground running. Now, it will be at least another unnecessarily wasted year
before the new administrator can develop the network needed to accomplish needed reforms.
So, we have a $500k year out of her. What bothers me about the Williams/Barnett situation
is that it was so unnecessary. What I have seen of Barnett's performance indicates
flexibility in working under different administrative styles; she has held jobs in several
cities. I believe she would have worked with Williams.
The National Student Financial Aid Folks A
New Scam in Town?
Carl Bergman firstname.lastname@example.org
We got a form letter this week from something called National
Student Financial Aid congratulating us that our senior high daughter had been
selected by their College Review Board as one of the Washington area students
eligible to apply for grants, etc. Thrilled to know we could fill out a form, I read
on. They assigned a 15 digit ID to her most exclusive and asked that we call
a toll free number to attend a seminar in town. I called; it was an automated system.
The letter says they don't sell specific information or insurance, but
doesn't say what they do sell, nor does it give any information about the organization.
They do provide an address in Nevada. A quick check showed that their office suite must be
pretty big. I found several other companies at exactly the same address. These included:
an appliance repair manual publisher, a long distance phone company, a liqueur of the
month club, and a company that will incorporate you in Nevada over the web. Either it's
pretty chummy, or a well used mail drop. I also found their web site. It's registered at
the same crowded address to Sheila Cuccia. She also signed the letter. Think we'll skip
More Mosque Minutes
Paul Williams, email@example.com
I have intended to respond to my neighbors posting awhile back about the
prayer calls from a relatively new established mosque on my block. I have a reminder five
times a day to post this missive with the prayer calls, beginning before dawn each
morning. The mosque is located in an old apartment building in a block that is a mixed
residential and commercial area. The prayer calls are live (not Memorex), and vary from
good singing to really bad. The bad wails are excruciating at 5:55 am, and almost always
wake me from my sleep. I have talked to a few other neighbors that are bothered by this
intrusion as well. The leader of the group responded to a City Paper missive that he had
heard no complaints. I find this interesting as a former roommate of mine almost always
called out from his window when he heard the calls, day or night. Is this religious
organization bound by the same noise ordinance as you and I?
As Mark Richards points out, our duly elected U.S. Senators
(shadow Senators who, like our shadow Representative, are elected
pursuant to the D.C. statehood legislation passed by ballot initiative in 1980) were not
included in the Senate jury and are not recognized by the Senate. There was, for that
reason, a protest and citizens' swearing-in ceremony last Thursday in which
Hilda Mason and representatives of the plaintiff class in the voting rights lawsuit
administered the Senate jury oath to Senators Pendleton and Strauss who pledged to
weigh the evidence and, like other Americans' Senators, submit their votes on our behalf
to the Chief Justice. (For what it's worth.) BBC Radio, among others, covered the
Speaking there on behalf of the D.C. Green Party, I said we in the
District had voted in the election of this President, who is now being held accountable to
representatives of all Americans all of his constituents except us; that
it's not too late for the 106th Congress to remedy that by recognizing our duly elected
U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative (Tom Bryant); and that, until that happens, the U.S
is not a democracy.
And They're Supposed to Be on OUR Side!
Rich Rothblum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorie Leavy described People for the American Way as tireless and
well funded defender of our civil liberties. Tireless and well funded, OK. Defender
of our liberties? Depends on your definition of our. Probably not many
libertarians or conservatives would include themselves in this our. PFWA is a
leftist organization which believes the perceived goodness of their ends justifies their
unprincipled means. They were in the forefront of those attacking the appointment of
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas by digging up sexual dirt, and now they are whining
that President Clinton is being unfairly treated. The fact is that they are not worried at
all about liberty, or any other value that most people would associate with the
The Trash and Our Federal Saviors
John Olinger, North Lincoln Park, email@example.com
I appreciate Ms. Ridgway's attempt to set me straight, but I have lived
here for 18 years and I know the schedule of the trash pickup: a day late after a holiday.
That means a Friday holiday results in a Saturday pickup NOT a Monday pickup (a
fact understood by Ms. Drissel and her sanitation crew who made the Saturday pickup in
Mount Pleasant). I have Monday and Thursdays, so I should have been unaffected by the
Friday holiday. After all, if the day late carried over to the following week, we would
never catch up would we? Ms. Ridgway may be confused by the way it works, the DPW person
who lied to me ought not to be. So Ms. Barnett still gets the credit.
It is now 2:00 pm on a Monday afternoon after a Friday snowstorm. The
sidewalks around Franklin Park are still not cleaned. They are a sheet of ice. On the
other hand, on the opposite sides of the streets 13th, 14th, I and K Streets
the sidewalks all are perfectly clear. Where are our Federal saviors when we need them?
The U.S. Park Service is responsible. Jim Moran, who sits on the Appropriations
Subcommittee on the Interior, responsible for the Park Service budget, is responsible. So
Jim, get off the bridge and get on the stick. Why weren't the sidewalks cleaned?
By the way, our standards are just fine its just the subject matter
that needs improving.
Gosh, someone is disturbed at the language used to denigrate Congresswoman
Norton! (Do we hear the voice of political correctness chiming in?) Half the fun of
political discourse is being able to bellow ad hominem attacks at our
political leaders, even at President Clinton the flasher (there, I've said it). If you
can't beat 'em in the voting booth, bring 'em down a few pegs by other means!
I'd like to comment on the increase in the cost of stamps. For the past
year or two, we have received outrageously expensive mailings from the USPS promoting
their stamp design contest for elementary students. Two different people in our office
received the same mailings, which came in something like 12"x14"x6" boxes
filled with full color, extremely expensive-to-produce booklets and promotional pieces
inside. It was absolutely incredible and would have bankrupted our organization. I can't
even imagine how many people they sent these to nationwide, and how many times each year!
We'd get these boxes and joke about how postal rates would go up to pay for them. Bingo!
What a racket!
This weekend, I noticed one of those billboard trucks parked outside the
elementary school playground at 40th and Calvert. The product being advertised?
Cigarettes. It was VERY disturbing to see the cigarette advertising literally parked at a
schoolground ... even more so when I saw that the advertisements showed nice, fluffy
pictures of a kitten, a goldfish, and a puppy. I wanted to call and report it, but to
whom? Anyone out there know how or if one can rat on cigarette advertising placed by a
Old Newspapers! Old DC Newspapers!
Matthew Gilmore, firstname.lastname@example.org
We want those old papers. Not the Post, maybe not the Star,
but all those others. We need all kinds of DC titles from today backwards
all the neighborhood papers, all the foreign language papers, all the African American
papers. The Informer, the New Observer, the Sun, El Pregonero, El
Latino, Washington Journal. . . . Donate newspapers to Washingtoniana. Call Matthew
Gilmore, DC Newspaper Project coordinator, at (202) 727-1213, 9-5.
The D.C. Public Library received a grant from the National Endowment for
the Humanities (NEH) to participate in the nationwide United States Newspaper Program
(USNP). The Library serves as the designated coordinating agency for the District of
Columbia. The job of the District of Columbia Newspaper Project (DCNP) is to identify and
locate all U.S. newspapers held within the District of Columbia; to inventory and describe
(i.e., to catalog) all newspapers found; and to preserve, through microfilming, all
newspapers published in the District of Columbia. Most early (i.e., pre-twentieth century)
newspapers published in the District of Columbia have already been cataloged and
microfilmed by the Library of Congress. We are particularly interested in locating all
community, neighborhood, ethnic, alternative press, religious, foreign language, and new
immigrant newspapers our urban equivalents of newspapers published in small towns
throughout the United States.
Donating Old Cell Phones?
Stuart Weiser, email@example.com
I have a Sprint Spectrum phone that I have had disconnected. I was told
that disconnected phones can still be used to call 911, and that they could be donated to
Red Cross or other charities. Does anyone know who I would call to make such a donation?
Book sale on Saturday, January 30, 1999, 9-10 am for friends and
Historical Society of Washington members only, 10 a.m. 4:00 p.m. for everybody.
Historical Society of Washington DC, 1307 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Metro Red Line Dupont
Circle. Sponsored by the Friends of the Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library, and
Historical Society of Washington. Books (almost only DC stuff, some rarities 19th
century you may never get another chance!), post cards, maps (probably even a Baist
atlas!) Some are bargains, some may be bargains at any price. Proceeds will go for
acquisitions and to collection preservation, so most will be priced at market value or
near. Tell your friends and anybody interested in DC stuff. We are still accepting
donations of DC stuff.
Town Meeting on Voting Rights
Mark Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org
We have got to do something about our lack of voting representation in
Congress! Come to a very interesting Town Meeting called Liberating the Last Colony:
Getting Voting Rights for DC in Congress. Mayor Tony Williams and Congresswoman
Maxine Waters are participating, as well as Walter Smith on the DC Voting Rights Law Suit;
Larry Mirel on Retrocession to Maryland; John Gloster on Statehood; Elena Shayne on DC
Voting Rights Amendment; and James Gray on the Complaint before the Organization of
The Town Meeting is jointly sponsored by the ACLU of the National Capital
Area and the University of the District of Columbia in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther
King's birthday. The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 21st at UDC, Building 44,
Room AO3 (parking is available under Building 44.) The building is located on Van Ness,
near Connecticut, Avenue, NW. A reception will be held between 6 and 6:30 p.m., and the
speakers will be from 6:30 to 8 pm. If you have questions, please call Mary Jane DeFrank
Griot Storyteller Coming to Chevy Chase DC Library
Phil Shapiro, email@example.com
Griot storyteller/poet Craig Anthony Bannister will give an hour's
entertainment using the storytelling style that originated in West Africa. Free. For ages
6 and up. Wednesday, February 9, from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm., Chevy Chase DC Library, 5625
Connecticut Ave. NW, near McKinley Street, 1/2 block south of Chevy Chase Circle. Contact:
Tammy McKinney, (202) 727-1341.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, firstname.lastname@example.org
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
Take Your Positions: When mayoral candidate Anthony Williams barnstormed through the
District last summer, rival campaigns and the local media scrambled to expose scandals and
missteps that would slow down the newcomer's ascendant campaign. They didn't find much.
The best that the anti-Williams crowd could muster was that the former CFO was
discourteous in firing 165 D.C. government employees and hadn't been around for the bad
old days attacks that no doubt helped pad his generous margins at the polls.
Now that Williams clutches the Seal of the District of Columbia, however, he seems intent
on parading his mistakes before the public.
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:
Sunday, Jan. 16: The Grandsons, 7:30 p.m. at the Barns of Wolf Trap, 1624 Trap Road,
Thursday, Jan. 21: Radio Days: A History of Washington Radio, 6 p.m.; show at
7:00 p.m, followed by party and buffet dinner. At the Warner Theatre, 13th St. &
Pennsylvania Avenue NW. $50 (benefits the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs).
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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