Dear Scorecard Keepers:
I have a project for you. If it works, you help your neighborhoods at very
little effort. If it doesn't work, you expose another phony promise from the government.
The Mayor has promised that the Department of Public Works will fill every pothole within
48 hours after it is reported to it, and the Department has said that it is now meeting
that goal. Do you believe it? Let's find out.
I propose that each of us calls in one or two potholes in our own
neighborhoods, and keeps track of how long it takes for the Department to fill them. Then
please report back to themail about how well the program worked. How long does it take for
your potholes to be filled if they get filled. The telephone number to report
potholes is 202-645-7055.
Nightlife for DC Government Wonks
Nick Keenan, email@example.com
If your idea of fun is pulling back the curtain on the deep dark secrets
of DC Government agencies, you really should try to catch Sharon Ambrose and Jim Graham's
hearing on nuisance properties on DC Cablevision. It's long over 8 hours but
if you're interested in the issue it's riveting. The first six hours or so is citizen
testimony, a tidal wave of resident after resident, telling the same story with
multitudinous variations: there is a nuisance property near me. It has been a problem for
years. I've made phone calls, written letters, taken photographs, done everything I could,
and nothing ever happens. Ever. The sheer number and variety of people with the same story
is astonishing and compelling.
However, the highlight comes near the end. The top four officials of DCRA
are being questioned. Jim Graham wants to know who would be responsible for inspecting a
particular nuisance property in his ward. The DCRA officials try to dodge the question,
but Ambrose and Graham are skilled questioners, and they methodically tighten the noose.
After about 20 minutes of rhetoric about moving forward and misdirection, the
folks from DCRA are forced to answer a direct question, and the admission is finally made:
there is no one. In the entire department, there is nobody whose regular job includes
inspecting and ticketing nuisance properties. Graham and Ambrose look at each other in
shock for a moment, and Graham offers, Well, if nothing else comes of this hearing,
this discovery has made the whole day worthwhile. It's must-see TV!
Much to do for fun in DC!
Smithsonian Res. Associate programs: Radio Theater, upcoming Kite Festival.
Wandering Eastern Market on Sat. and Sun.
Eating at Market Lunch at EM always a treat for who you see, food,
and vibrance of the Market.
Theater Arena ("The Women" and "Thunder Knocking" were
great) and Shakespeare.
As far as where to go for fun. I am a member of a Dart League called
Tournament Darts International (TDI). There is also another league in Washington called
Washington Area Darts Association (WADA). http://personal.boo.net/~tdi/
Both are local, even tough the I from TDI stands for International.
These are leagues of players at different levels of performance. There are
teams, mixed doubles, etc. TDI gets together on Wednesday nights at places around DC (Mr.
Eagan's, Angles, 4 Provinces, Bedrock Billiards, Atomic Billiards, Nanny O'Brians,
Stetsens, Giogios, and others), and WADA players shoot on Tuesdays and Thursdays
with some of the places in Virginia. This is a great group of people, fun is had by all.
They are always looking for more shooters. If interested, call Ginny at Mr. Eagan's (she
is known as the Den Mother). 202/331-9768. Cost is $15 a season to be given to
your captain. Season is going on now, but they are always looking for substitutes for
teams whose members can't show up on a certain night. Just thought I'd pass it along, if
anyone would be interested.
Wild Life in NW D.C.
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
For two legged wild life the AU/Spring Valley area is not the place to be
(except, possibly, Emilios). They roll up the sidewalks in this area after about 7 PM. If
there is any AU ild life it is down south on the campus. The grad schoolers from the AU
Law School are not to be seen or heard after dark. For those seeking more lively quarters
I recommend Wisconsin Avenue just south of Western Avenue on a Friday evening. All the
restaurants seem to be booming (save for That's Amore, which went belly up this year) and
there are throngs of folks on the sidewalks. Parking is a real bummer so we take the
Metrobus from the cemetery-like non-activity of AU Park and Spring Valley to Friendship
Heights. When they get the Mazza Plaza finished with all the curbside entry stores this
will be a very lively and interesting place to stroll. As it is now with Borders, the
bakery restaurant, TGI Friday's and the like, it is booming up there.
I realize that themail's readers are probably tired of the residents of
Shaw constantly pointing out how much better their neighborhood is than the rest of the
city, but here goes one more time: Wildlife. On my block, in the heart of Shaw, we have
had a red fox living in the alley for about two years. He is most active in the evening
and early morning, and will eat cocktail sausages if left for him.
Wildlife in and out of the Woods
Mike Hill, email@example.com
With the frequency of raccoon and possum sittings, should we really
consider them 'wildlife' anymore? I see them more often than dogs in my 'hood.
As for the truly unusual, any Mt. Pleasant / Connecticut Ave. resident can
thrill to the otherworldly sound of the National Zoo's gibbons hooting early in the
morning, as well as many other animals. For wildlife of a different kind, check out the
Raven Grille on Mt. Pleasant Street, or Ben's Chili Bowl and the Islander on U Street; all
great neighborhood hangouts, where you might see the (locally) famous face now and again.
Big City Jungle
steph Lives with two mighty felines faul, firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the years I've seen foxes, raccoons, deer, a pileated woodpecker, and
all other sorts of wildlife -- all in D.C. When I lived in Cleveland Park a flock of pine
siskins regularly visited my window feeder, to the astonishment of a bird watcher friend.
But the most memorable animal excitement happened two years ago, on a warm summer night
when I'd opened the door to the back porch so my cats could come and go. I was lying on
the living room sofa reading when I realized the cats had come back inside and were
prowling around in an unusually attentive way. I looked up: They were following an
opossum, which had presumably wandered into the house in search of food. (FYI: Possums
love cat food.) What to do? I began chasing the critter. It proved its kinship to
armadillos by running right past two open doors and taking refuge under the kitchen
radiator, where it glowered at me with little beady eyes and displayed an impressive array
of large needley teeth. Grabbing a gardening glove and a bath towel, I padded my hand
thoroughly and bravely reached for its tail. It made no protest. I pulled it out. It still
made no protest. In fact, it swayed limply from my hand with no sign of life. In an
instant I knew: IT WAS PLAYING POSSUM. So I took it outside, laid it gently on the ground,
and when I looked out about 20 minutes later it was gone.
Okay, so lotsa folks have seen 'coons and possums and rats. Come with
friend Kaufmann and me on a Tuesday or Thursday morning (6:05 am) and we might show you
not one, but three does foraging the vegetation in the yards on Oregon Ave. between
Chestnut and Western. We've seen this trio twice now in recent weeks, and this doesn't
include the other deer we've seen during the same time. We do a little stare-down for a
few seconds about 50' apart before Mr. K and I move on.
As exciting as the above always is, it will still never compare to the
sight in our backyard a few years ago. The neighbor behind me called early one morning to
congratulate me on our new pet. Knowing I was confused, he directed me to the back of my
house where I looked out to see a great blue heron standing behind the pond. The heron and
I stood motionless for about a minute. Then it began to cautiously amble through the
garden dividing our yard with the next door neighbor's. I called that neighbor and
directed him to the back of his house. We watched together for a moment until the heron
was spooked by another neighbor's roaming dog. The heron spread it's wings a good 6',
flapped them like hell, and gradually took off for safer territory.
Should we bring baseball back to Washington, DC? That discussion has
become absolutely frenzied, especially since the Mayor entered the fray. His support for
the idea adds credibility ginning up the hopes of the pro-baseball crowd, but also
the fears of those who oppose a new stadium. Do themail readers put themselves into the
hopeful or the fearful crowd? Or both? Regardless, please consider this: there are at
least three viable sites for a new (or revamped) stadium: Mt. Vernon Square East, Union
Station North, or RFK Stadium.
Each potential stadium site has its advantages, each has its drawbacks.
Any of the three could anchor a new mixed-use development (office, retail, entertainment
& transportation). All three could increase Metro ridership, and bring new tax revenue
to the city. But either would require a substantial private and public investment, the
payoff for which would depend on the quality of design and implementation. So lets take a
serious look at all three, and get solid community input from residents most directly
affected by each site.
This week's Education Week refers to yet another study indicating
DC schools are surprise terrible. Based on test scores and other criteria
DC was at the very bottom: #50 out of all the states and territories. American
Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank serving state legislators
conducted the study, but the results dovetail perfectly with every other ranking of the
nation's schools published in Ed. Week, including their own national survey published last
What makes the ALEC study interesting and relevant to our situation today,
with Ms. Ackerman and others raising teacher's salaries in the District and sending more
money to poorer performing schools is that, at the macro level, There is no
correlation between spending and educational performance. In other words, just
because you spend more does not mean you get more. The District spends $9,123 per student,
2nd highest amount in the country, and what are we getting? The ALEC study also finds that
there is no statistically evident correlation between educational performance and
teacher salaries. But here in the District we want to give our teachers a 5% raise.
For what? To keep them from going to MD or VA? Let'em go I say and let us open more
charter schools to take their place. Too bad ALEC did not do more math to look at spending
on administration vs. classrooms. 2nd highest in per pupil spending, yet our teacher
salaries are low. Where is that money going? Perhaps someone on this list can explain.
DC in Black and White on French TV1
Mark Richards, email@example.com
In December, French TV1 aired a comprehensive story on D.C. I had heard
they were doing it earlier in the year and sent the producer a letter and papers on DC's
sociopolitical history, but never heard anything. I'd forgotten about it until a friend
from Paris came to visit video in hand: Mark! It's incredible! It was on
French TV I recorded it! You know, at least 40% of French watch that show
it's very popular. I hadn't mentioned it, but by coincidence, she had seen a preview
and taped it. It's safe to bet that that French people are now more informed about D.C.
than fellow Americans.
The report, titled Washington in Black and White, starts with
a murder in Anacostia and walks through disenfranchisement, Congressional intervention, no
commuter tax, poor city services, poverty among blacks (reporter: they say
'African-Americans' in the U.S.), mismanagement and the Control Board, etc. They
contrast the churches with the crime, hope and despair. The vacant storefronts in
Anacostia look dreadful, but the restaurant and people they show are wonderful! They
interviewed people moving to the burbs and other hopefuls moving in. And citizens who
adore the city. They featured local notables (as the French say) Barry
(The problem is the Republicans in Congress... here for a few years, don't know
what's going on... we are going to resist them! And, The city is on the
upswing we're making improvements, ... standard pitch of positive
indicators); Norton (The deep hypocrisy is that we don't put democracy into practice
here in the seat of the capital of democracy.); and then-CFO Williams (People
have high expectations and those who run the city make all kinds of promises, like full
employment, yet they can't even maintain basic services and there's little money... there
are about 30,000 city employees, maybe only half to two-thirds work on a good day.).
The video shows black students taking a long bus ride across town to white Georgetown to
Duke Ellington school where a music class is featured. The student says that in his
neighborhood, people are friendly, say hello if he says hello not so West of the
Park. One white transient international resident talks about the black/white divide, says
she feels the city is missing a heart. The narrator concludes that the heart of the city
lives outside of the monumental core among the city's people in their day to day local
victories in which, little by little, things improve.
I was not surprised that President Chirac invited our mayor to visit with
him. He, after all, was the first mayor of Paris after that city gained real
self-government for the first time in a century in 1975, changing forever the
nature of that job. I found VERY interesting parallels between Paris and D.C. while doing
research there last year. Paris has democracy, with 517 elected officials, and the city
works quite well. For the city's official website, go to http://www.paris-france.org/ They make it
accessible even to Anglophones!
Does anyone know when cherry blossoms generally hit the area?
Smoking in Metro Facilities
David Sobelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org
I applaud and fully agree with Randy Wells's posting about smoking by bus
drivers on DC public-school buses. This does more than send a terrible message to our
schoolchildren; it also endangers their health directly, from second-hand smoke.
Metro is another local government institution with a casual and
inconsistent approach to tobacco use. The official metro policy is: no smoking on any
metro facilities by anyone, period. Metro facilities include all property owned by metro
in or around metro stations including escalators, elevators, and space around
station-manager booths and ticketing machines. In other words, it is illegal to smoke on
the escalators, elevators, and around the ticketing machines and station-manager booths.
Yet metro has placed ashtrays at the bottom, rather than the top, of its escalators,
encouraging riders to continue smoking on this particular metro facility as they ride to
the bottom, and encouraging them to light up as soon as they mount the escalators for
their rise up from the station. I have also seen station managers smoking near the
ticketing machines. I have repeatedly written to metro about these incidents of staff
on-site smoking. We have a right to expect metro staff to obey the rules that are part of
their jobs to enforce, especially when those rules are designed to protect the health of
metro customers. In each of my letters I identified the station and staffperson, and gave
the exact date and time of the incident. Metro has never replied to any of my letters, and
metro staff continues to smoke in metro facilities. When will the Washington Metropolitan
Area Transit Authority instruct its employees to obey metro's own governing law?
Phone Repair Inquiry
Paul Penniman, email@example.com
Our friends at Bell Atlantic now charge $74 for the first rewiring of a
jack and $30-something for each subsequent rewiring. Does anyone know a better
alternative? Any freelance phone guys lurking?
Where to Donate Your Books
Beth-Ann F. Gentile, BGent12121@aol.com
Last time I visited the Bell Multicultural High School in Columbia
Heights, D.C., I was shocked by how few books they had in their library. Unless things
have improved remarkably over the last few years, I think that your books would be a great
Sunday, February 28, 1999: Onkel Theodor. Stories from the
life of an Austrian diplomat. In this sotorytelling performance for adults, Peter
Hornbostel, a Washington attorney, dons the persona -- including the dead-on accent
of his charming Austrian uncle, a diplomat who recounts his harrowing days in a Nazi
prison camp and the quirks of fate that saved his life. Cost: $5, 3 pm, District of
Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW Washington DC. For more information contact: Robert
Revere 301.891.1129, firstname.lastname@example.org
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Three dresses, sizes 6-8, in navy, pale yellow, and pale green. Dessy, Ann
Taylor, Nordstrom. All sleeveless and simply designed, ankle length. Taking up room in my
closet, but may interest someone. $25 each or all three for $70.
CLASSIFIEDS DONATIONS WANTED
The Friends of the Tenley-Friendship branch of the DC Public Library is
hosting its semi-annual book sale on Saturday, April 10 from noon to 4:00 pm. Book
donations are most appreciated and can be dropped off at the library any day except Sunday
(the library is open late two nights a week). simply place donated books in the bins to
the right of the exit gate. Parking is available behind the library.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, email@example.com
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
THE COUNCIL'S STEALTH PAY HIKE: On March 3 of last year, D.C. councilmembers decided that
their annual salary of $80,600 was plenty for a part-time job. They voted to impose a
salary freeze effective until amended by subsequent legislation.
Then came the unseasonably mild winter of 1998-99. By the time the 13th council session
opened on Jan. 4, the freeze had melted into a tidy $12,000 raise available to the seven
councilmembers elected to office in November 1998: Sharon Ambrose, Kathy Patterson, Phil
Mendelson, Vincent Orange, Linda Cropp, Graham, and David Catania.
An unusual pact between councilmembers and Chairman Cropp accounts for the two-month
official silence on the raises.
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:
SATURDAY, Feb. 27: Harambee Carnival 1999, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Gallaudet
University, Kellogg Conference Center, 800 Florida Ave. NE. $25 (proceeds benefit
Adventures in Health, Education, and Agricultural Development Inc).
SUNDAY, Feb. 28: The Hillbilly Funk Allstars, featuring Vassar Clements, Kenny Gradney,
Richie Hayward, T. Lavitz and Catfish Hodge. At 7:30 p.m., at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount
Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $17.50.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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