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February 28, 1999

Taking a Short Break from themail

Dear People:

I'll be away for a short while, and themail will take a breather. We'll miss just three issues, and resume publication on Sunday, March 14. Dorothy calls it a “mental health break,” and I'm sure that's what it will be. Please keep sending in your messages; please do continue your experiment with seeing how long it takes to get potholes fixed by calling the Department of Public Works at 202-645-7055; and please let us know how it goes.

This is a good issue; we address a wide range of topics. I'll miss hearing from you, but we'll be back soon.

Gary Imhoff


Pothole Repair on Capitol Hill
Dennis A. Dinkel,

Shortly after Mayor Williams took office, I called to report three potholes — two on 6th Street, SE, between the freeway and Pennsylvania Avenue. Technically, they didn't qualify as potholes — the city had done road repairs to 6th and just hadn't gotten around to fixing where they made cuts in the asphalt. They had been dangerous obstacles (people sometimes fly down 6th Street at what looks to be 50 and 55 miles an hour — and would swerve radically when they saw the pavement cuts in front of them) for maybe two or three months. I had called the Barry administration numerous times, all to no avail.

Remember, this was around the time of the snowstorms and several major water main breaks in the city. The Public Advocate (the much-lamented David Howard) called me back within the day to tell me they were overwhelmed with the water main problems, but they would put my two reported potholes on a list — and they were fixed within, I believe, the week. For close to two years now, there has been a massive “dip” in Pennsylvania Avenue at the intersection with 3rd Street, SE. It's where a manhole cover exists, the pavement has sunk down around it. Cars (again speeding) down the Avenue would dodge to avoid the dip, almost causing several accidents. I had complained about this hazard for two years — one day after I called the “pothole” number, it was repaired. The government in the District of Columbia is working.


Ed T. Barron,

Ninety-two thousand dollars a year for D.C. Council Members who are part time workers, many with good paying day jobs. That's a payroll of over $1.2M for the 13 Council members on a Council that has nothing to brag about for its performance over the last twelve years. Add to that the salaries of some 140 support personnel (many of them in patronage jobs) and you have a total payroll that's closing in on $4 million (and that doesn't count the overhead for those persons). This is another example of the bloated bureacracy that we have in the D.C. Government. We have far too many highly paid “watchers” instead of “doers.” This largesse brings to mind a few questions. Why do we have 13 Council Members? Is the Council modeled after The Last Supper? We only have 8 Wards, why do we need more than 8 Council persons? If we can cut back to 8 Council persons we should be able to reduce the support staff to about 80 persons.

The Mayor is looking for an additional $6 M annually to get out of a bad contract signed with the developer for restoring and modifying the District Building. it will take $6 M a year to buy out the developer. Four million each year (theoretically) would be saved by moving personnel back into the District Building from rented quarters. By cutting back the size of the Council and the supporting staff that additional $2 M in savings will be easy pickings. The smaller council and staff will take up lots less room in the District Building, too. Let's eliminate this outrageous giveaway of hard earned taxpayer money.


Margaret Siegel,

Unless you call before 3:30, you get into a total long tangle of voice mails and computer messages — can we start the contest when we all can call during business hours? Or do you want to alert readers to the hold on for a moment problem of calling and getting nowhere after business hours?


10-Minute Inspection
Rich “Shake Those Pom-Poms” Mintz,

Well, I didn't think such a thing was possible, but I just got my D.C. safety and emissions inspection in under 10 minutes — and I spent 6 of them waiting in line for the entry booth. Everyone was polite and professional and served me with a smile.


The Williams Administration’s Early Days
Dorothy Brizill,

What's going on with the Williams administration? The top appointments Mayor Williams are making are, by and large, people who don't know the city well, don't know the neighborhoods at all, and don't know the issues, and many of them are temporary appointments or on temporary detail from the Chief Financial Officer's office. What has happened to the citizens who helped draft Williams and who rallied behind him in the early days of his campaign? Many of them are citizen activists with a deep knowledge of the city, who really want reform. But with few exceptions, not only have they not been given appointments, they have not been consulted about appointments or about major policy initiatives of the new administration. In fact, most of them have been unable to see or speak with Williams since his inauguration.

[To see a listing of staff titles and salaries in the Williams Administration, see and the related testimony and organizational charts listed on ]


Raising the Educational Standards in the D.C. Police Force
Ed T. Barron,

D.C. Police Chief Ramsey has proposd that new hires to the police force have minimum of two years of college education. This proposal is excellent and would result in more effective policing in the District. The D.C. Council does not support this proposal because they claim it will preclude hiring District residents who don't meet the increased educational requirements. There is a solution to these diverse views and that is to make use of an underutilized and underperforming facility to provide the education required by District residents. This is an excellent time to establish a Police Academy at UDC. Residents who otherwise qualify for hiring by the Police Dept., but lack the educational credentials, would attend the Academy for one year and then be hired by the Police Dept. During the following three years the new hire would have to complete the second year at the academy on a part time basis. Similarly, those current police persons who do not have two years of college education should be given a reasonable amount of time (and support) to attend the academy on a part time basis to get their two full years of courses.

There are three benefits of this proposal. First, the educational level of the D.C. police force will be raised to a high level. Second, District residents and current police persons will have the opportunity to establish some real educational credentials; and, third, we will be making much better use of an underutilized and underperforming UDC. This is a win-win-win opportunity that the District should not pass up.


Land Rush in DC
Jon Desenberg,

In the early 90's people thought I was crazy for buying a condo in DC, the city was a bad investment and condos were even worse. Today my mailbox is regularly full of desperate letters from realtors wanting to sell something, anything in DC. They're begging me to consider selling and promising me huge money. My building has gone from 60% renters to 10% renters as longtime landlords sell their rental units for big profits. The average selling price in my neigborhood is higher than the listed price and there are less than 20 two bedroom units on the market in Dupont, most going for 250 grand and up.


List of DC Neighborhoods
Mark Richards,

Following is a list of DC neighborhoods, as indicated in the old 1967 Draft Comprehensive Plan, which has EXCELLENT detailed maps and analysis (better than current versions). It shows how the fed. govt. systematically planned the decentralization of the federal establishment from the federal district into the surrounding states, via corradors and metro “radiating from DC.” It's interesting that what was once considered a CITY is now a NEIGHBORHOOD: i.e., Georgetown, Hamburg, Wash. City.

Here's the list as it stood in '67-any updates? Adams Morgan, American University Park, Anacostia, Barnaby Woods, Barry Farms, Bellview, Benning, Benning Heights, Brentwood Village, Brightwood, Brightwood Park, Brookland, Buena Vista, Burleith, Burrville, Capitol Hill, Capitol View, Carrolsburg, Cathedral Heights, Chevy Chase, Children's Hospital, Chillum, Cleveland Park, Colonial Village, Columbia Heights, Congress Heights, Crestwood, Deanewood, Douglass, Downtown, Dupont Circle, East End, Eastland Gardens, Eckington, Edgewood, Fairfax Village, Fairmont Heights, Farragut Circle, Floral Hills, Foggy Bottom (Hamburg), Forest Hills, Fort Davis Park, Fort Dupont Park, Franklin McPhearson Square, Friendship Heights, Garfield Heights, Georgetown, Glover Park, Good Hope, Grant Park, Greenway, Hawthorne, Hillbrook, Hillcrest, Ivy City, Judiciary Square, Kalorama Heights, Kenilworth, Kingman Park, Knox Hill, Lamond, Langdon, Lanier Heights, LeDroit Park, Lincoln Heights, Lincoln Park, Logan Circle, Mahaning Heights, Manor Park, Marshall Heights, Massachusetts Heights, McLean Gardens, Michigan Park, Mount Pleasant, Mt. Vernon Square, Naylor Gardens, North Cleveland Park, Northwest Triangle, NW Urban Renewal, Park View, Petworth, Pinehurst Circle, Potomac Palisades, Randle Highlands, Rock Creek Gardens, Scott Circle, Shaw, Shepherd Park, Shipley Terrace, Southeast, Southwest, Spring Valley, Stanton Park, Summit Park, Takoma Park, Tenley Town, Thomas Circle, Trinidad, Truxton Circle, Twining, Union Station, University Heights, Washington Circle, Washington Highlands, West End, Westminister, Woodland, Woodley Park, Woodridge.


Color on the Front Page of the Washington Post
Phil Shapiro,

See if you can spot the similarity: “A big city newspaper decides to add color photos to the front page of the newspaper to help stem declining readership. A stage-actor decides to buy new costumes to help stem a declining career.” This brings to mind that nugget of wisdom from Adlai Stevenson: “Newspaper editors are people who carefully sift the wheat from the chaff, and then print the chaff.”

Why the Post would spend big bucks to add color to the front page is totally beyond me. What desperately needs to be done is to improve the content of the newspaper, making it better serve the needs of the residents of the city. The Post doesn't get it. And now they don't get it in color.


Greaseman's Due
Mark Sibert,

Mr. Tracht's, aka The Grease Man's, termination was due.I don't know why it took over 10 yrs to do the right thing, but it's about time. Personally, I don't care what he says or how racist his comments can get with one exception. If anyone, public figure, journalist, or John Doe next door says any remark that disrespects the dead of someone of another race or religion or nationality he/she should face whatever legal or ethical actions taken against that person with more maturity than the comment itself. If that person suggest, or imply with that comment something which could invoke even a single person to become violent, then he/she should face the legal or ethical actions because that person is fully aware what power the transmitted media has on the audience that selects to listen to that person with some sense of authority. Especially the weak ones, or those who feel that some of their value of a person and “sovereignty” has been dimenished as had many racists have over these past decades.


Fun in DC
Dennis A. Dinkel,

While this doesn't exactly qualify as “fun” in the pure sense of the word, I offer the following for beauty and solitude. A friend of mine who died a few years ago is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery off North Capitol Street. I visit his grave on his birthday and certain holidays that I have special memories of; and I always manage to wander down to the ivy grove where Henry Adams' wife is buried. I believe the story is that she committed suicide and Adams commissioned the artist St. Gaudens (I may be off on the spelling) to do a monument for her. The sculpture is of a cowled figure and gives off an air of serenity, peace, and
comfort. It's obviously a little known area of Washington (I guess not that many sightseers go tromping around Rock Creek Cemetery), because I seldom run into anyone else there.

It's especially lovely at Easter and the cemetery is gorgeous in the fall. There's a charming little chapel on the grounds of the cemetery, St. Paul's; and if it's unlocked, I often sit silently in a pew for a few minutes, just contemplating how in the midst of the bustle, noise, and hurlyburly of a major city, one can find so much quiet and peace. As I said, it may not qualify as “fun” but I do leave their with batteries recharged.


Wildlife in Dupont East, Fun on You, and Activities for Young People
Mark Richards,

Our “wildlife” don't count — although I see there is a film about them now. A monkey looked at me through the bedroom window when I visited my parents in S. Africa-does that count? Also, quite a few of our residents have wild lives, but I'm not going there. The U Street corridor is fun, avant-garde.

Baseball: We're not St. Louis — we don't need a baseball stadium or a prison in our downtown. Slow down on the Grand Projects. I'd prefer a youth initiative-more baseball, soccer, art, etc. for kids. Or a grocery store initiative. If the private sector wants to bring big baseball here, fine. But no city subsidy, no mayoral time or council time on this — they all look stupid in those baseball caps. Hire nuisance property inspectors. I'd like to see a list of what citizens need and want ahead of big baseball, but I doubt anyone in our city govt. will bother to even ask.


Baseball Stadium is a Major League Rip-Off
Steve Donkin,

Randy Wells speculated on the potential economic development stemming from the proposed baseball stadium, stating that, regardless of where it is sited, building it “would require a substantial private and public investment.” The fact is that all big-money stadium developments like this are little more than taxpayer rip-offs with numerous hidden public subsidies, and the benefits to the surrounding community are minimal or nonexistent. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is just one example. It was built nearly entirely with public, not private, funds, primarily in the form of a state-run lottery (essentially a tax on poor people,
since they are invariably the majority of lottery players), plus a $30 million contribution from federal transportation funds for road improvements servicing the stadium. The lottery brought in over $400 million to the state treasury, which was promptly handed to Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams for his pet project. As far as I know, Williams paid nothing out of his own pocket for the stadium.

The state could have used the lottery money for something useful like improving public health services or education. Instead it chose to waste it on padding the bank accounts of a few rich developers and team owners. The neighborhoods around Camden Yards are still rampant with hopelessness and despair, but these unpleasantries are kept far enough away from the fans motoring in from the suburbs not to spoil their enjoyment of the game. And in squandering its lottery revenue on the stadium, the state blew any chances with a now lottery-weary legislature for similarly raising funds for socially beneficial uses. The financing scheme for a D.C. stadium (most likely at Mt. Vernon Square) supposedly is still being worked out (although who knows? — maybe they've already plotted that far ahead and are now just figuring how to convince us that stealing public funds is in our interest, ala the convention center). We better start nipping this loser in the bud now, or we'll all be writing blank checks in the near future.


Baseball Stadium
Jessica Vallette,

The idea of a baseball stadium is a great one that deserves the high level of enthuesiasm that Williams has for the concept. However, once again, we must consider the proposed locations for the stadium and the impact it would have on existing neighborhoods. I fully support the renovation of RFK into a baseball stadium — the idea meets a basic urban and environmental rule, reuse what you have. I am more willing to have the city spend my tax dollars on reusing a disused building than on building a new stadium next door (thereby sucking up more greenspace and requiring new materials) or building one in the downtown where housing would be better placed. Where would themail readers like to have their tax dollars spent?

Of course, we can't forget that the so-called budget surplus won't last and if the city committs its tax dollars to a stadium, we must ask if we can somehow ensure that schools will get preference in the event of a shortage. My guess is the answer is probably not.


Three Does and a Don't
Ed Dixon,

To confirm Tom Berry's three does, I've seen them a little farther in off Foxhall a block north of Reservoir. Doing what they do best, munching on the edge of the forest. My wife spotted three off Delcarlia while I of course was watching the road. I assume these are the same three and are moving up and down the green ways on the west side of town. As far as birding goes, anyone who takes a nice boat trip up the quiet Anacostia in the early early morning will see a good variety of both very large and small birds.

To comment on Victor Chudowsky's report on the academic benefits of DCPS's high expenditure's: The current state of the schools physically is abysmal as well (considering the amount of money going into the system). There seems to be no answer as to why they are in this condition or any accountability. The morale of many engineers in the schools as well as principals, I've met, is somewhere between fatalistic and cynical. The facilities administrators have been condescending, as if they had everything under control. This all from my experience as a volunteer in an organization bent on changing this situation. Good hearts push for change. The overpaid braniacs have failed us.


Another Animal Story!
Heidi Summers,

Reading about all of the wildlife sightings reminded me of my own! Last summer, my boyfriend and I found a HUGE orange moth (I thought it was a butterfly) on the side of the escalator coming out of the Metro in Arlington. It looked like a fake plastic toy, it was that big and colorful. My boyfriend works in a lab at Georgetown, studying butterflies, so we captured it and took it there. It turned out to be a Royal Walnut Moth. It laid a bunch of eggs and then disappeared from its outdoor enclosure. The eggs hatched into the tiniest little black caterpillars you've ever seen, ant-size things, which grew into hot-dog-size monsters (called “hickory horned devils”) in a matter of weeks. They are North America's largest caterpillar, and they have large horn-like parts on their heads that they will swing at anything that tries to touch them, especially fingers. They are all in cocoons now and I'm eagerly awaiting the day when they emerge!


Wild Life, and the Wild Life
T. Jr. Hardman,

Greetings, I thought I'd like to remind those who were here, and those who are new, about raccoons in urban areas, the District in particular. During the late 80s, due to all of the garbage lying around town and the complete lack of natural predators, local raccoon populations soared to the point where literally every corner drain had mama raccoon trundling in and out to feed her litter of (generally) four kits. When the rabies hit, there was a period of about a month when you couldn't hardly walk down an alley without seeing some raccoon staggering about champing its jaws at the air. A month later, the population had crashed and it was nearly-impossible to find a live raccoon anywhere near Washington.

Now, nearly a decade later, we see the pattern repeating. It should be noted that in the surrounding jurisdictions, in an effort to eradicate rabies from the wild, various ag-departments are spreading baits which inoculate against rabies. The District might well wish to consider a similar approach — to fail to do so will likely result in a recurrence of a plague of mad racoon as in the late '80s, though it must also be noted that if the raccoon are immunized in this manner, their population will continue to climb to the point where encountering a raccoon will be about as common as enountering an alleycat.

[Continued next issue, on March 14 — Gary Imhoff]


Lynne Mersfelder,

Just a few nights ago while coming hom from work (on Portal Drive just near Rock Creek Park in Silver Spring) I saw 4 deer cross the road — what a thrill! As a bicycler along the creek and old tow path (pre floods), I've seen a fox, a family (?) of 3 deer (in day light) and turtles basking in the sun.


Annie McCormick,

I would like to apologize if the picture on the Tournament Darts International (TDI) page offended anyone. I did not know that the person who updates the page put a photo of a young woman suggestively sucking a lollipop. I did not mean to offend anyone, so please accept my apology. I do not maintain their website and had no idea someone had added this picture.

Also, playing darts is not confined to the league nights! Any of the dart bars mentioned have boards up all the time and a lot of league players play on non-league nights. Mention that you'd like to know more about league play and don't be surprised if someone tries to recruit you! The leagues love to welcome new players. Happy Shooting!


Coed Softball
Mike Hill,

I an looking for information on local coed softball leagues that start in the spring. I am organizing this for All Souls Unitarian Church at 16th & Harvard sts., NW. We are interested in leagues that play in the District (preferably Brookland, Columbia Heights, on the Mall, or Upper NW), evenings and weekends, adult / coed. I would appreciate any guidance or information you can give me. Please forward information to: Mike Hill, National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW, WDC 20001, 202-272-2448 [w],



Kosovo Forum
Katherine Waldbauer,

Monday, March 1, 7:30 PM: All are welcome to “Decision on Kosova,” a public forum moderated by journalist Roy Gutman. Speakers include Congressman Jim Moran, and others, sponsored by the Bosnia Support Committee of D.C. Location: the Arlington Public Library, 1015 No. Quincy Street, Arlington. Directions: From Memorial Bridge follow signs to Rt. 50 W. Turn right at 10th St exit. Follow 10th St to Fairfax Dr. Turn right at light at Quincy St. Library is 1 block on right. The library is also two blocks from the Virginia Square metro stop. Call Peter Slavin at (703) 281-7195 for additional information.


Jaleo at Kramers
Sven Abow,

For all that have missed it last time, here we go again: This Saturday I will drum with my friend Mike Wheaton and his band Jaleo down at Kraemer Books on Connecticut Ave. right above Dupont Circle. On bass will be the talented Grant Smith. Jaleo is Latin Pop with a back beat plus some Jazz Standards. We'll play from 10pm til 2am. If you stop by you can just browse through the books or grab a chair or a table and chill with their delicious foods and our tunes.


Tasting Society International, March/April Events
Charlie Adler, cadler@DGS.DGSYS.COM

1) March 23rd — Wine Dinner at Le Tarbouche Restaurant, 1801 K St., NW, 7-9 pm, NW, $50, tax and tip inclusive. Taste over 30 different wines from our past events matched to a sumptuous menu of Lebanese sausages, calamari, shwarma, tuna tartar, and an extensive vegetarian assortment of Mediterranean specialties. We’ll finish the meal with Port and Cognac! 2) March 26th — Cuban Interests Section (Embassy equivalent) Cuba Libre Day-Dinner, Dancing, and Rum Tasting! 7-10 p.m., 2630 16th St., NW, $60. Gorgeous turn-of-the-century mansion Full dinner buffet of native cuisine, rum tasting, mojitos, Cuba Libres and more! Live salsa band-wear your dancing shoes! 3) April 6th — Spring Wine Xtravaganza! Sponsored by Fresh Fields of Georgetown and Arlington, 7-9 p.m., Galleria at Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st St., NW, $35. 100 different wines to taste, gourmet food samplings from Fresh Fields, order wines on sale: bottles 10% off, cases 15% off. 4) April 21st — Wine Basics 101, with Michael Franz, Wine Columnist for the Washington Post, 7-9 p.m., Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW, $35. Learn the basics with Michael Franz, wine columnist for the Washington Post: how to match wine and food, differences in grape varieties, how to purchase and order wine, and more! Reservations: RSVP at (202)333-5588 or email: , or the Reservation Form at our Web Page at



Musical Needs Musicians
Chad Eric Hickerson,

The upcoming Spring production of The Foundry Players is the musical version of 'Schoolhouse Rock Live!' and are in need of musicians. Piano, Bass, Drums. All positions are volunteer and you will have a great time, we promise! And you never know, you might even get hooked on theater! Performances are May 7-23 but help will be needed throughout the rehearsal process. Call 202-332-3454 for more information. The Players are located at 16th and P Streets, NW at the Foundry United Methodist Church. We are DC's oldest running community theatre, having been putting on shows for 53 years.


Naturally Thin
Lynn Dorman,

I am a Psychologist who has been teaching a class in New England called Naturally Thin; a non-diet approach to lifelong thinness. The information is based on the findings of mind, body and nutrition researchers. In the class you learn how to tune into your body's specific metabolic needs for food, how to program your thinking as a thin person and how to boost your metabolism. It works. You can be thin and free up energy to create the life and joy you dream of.

I am organizing classes in D.C. for late March and April. Each class meets for 2 hours and costs $15. If you are interested, email me for more information.


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