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March 24, 1999

Spring Recess

Dear Spring Revelers:

There are some heavy subjects in this issue of themail. On the other hand, magnolias are blooming, the forsythia is out, shad roe is in season, and Magruders is selling asparagus for 99 cents a pound. What, me worry?

Gary Imhoff


Making Things Happen in D.C.
Ed T. Barron,

The mayor is learning that there is a lot of outrage and resistance to his good ideas. That is very predictable when those who are impacted by change are not made part of the proposed changes. The mayor has asked everyone to “step outside the box” to become objective as they analyze proposed changes. The problem lies in the method, not the message. The mayor is trying very hard to make things happen from the top. That won't work. Things happen because the folks at the bottom, what I call the little people, are the ones (and the only ones) who can make things happen. There are plenty of smart folks working in the district government. But, lo these many years (it just seems like centuries), all the make things happen people have been told, by a bloated bureaucracy, what to do, when and how to do it. Nobody knows how to do a job and to do it well any better than those who are doing it. These little people have no motivation to do it their way because they are not really stakeholders on a team. And, let me clear up a misunderstanding, genuine motivation comes from within, from the heart and mind, not from external sources. The make-things-happen folks need to feel that they are in control of their jobs, that they have a piece of the action, that their ideas will be listened to. How do we get there from here you may ask? Here's my three step plan, Mr. Mayor:

The first step is for the mayor to create (with the help of his top advisors) a Mission Statement that is unique to the District Government, based on his Vision for Washington. The next step is to have the brightest minds in the D.C. Government (at all levels) to create a set of top level, viable, measurable, time oriented supporting goals that will enable the mission to be accomplished. The third step (and this is crunch time) is to evolve the traditional hierarchical bureaucracy into a series of functional teams comprised of the stakeholders for the process that team is responsible for. Let these teams make things happen. This evolution will take some time and probably should be started one agency/department at a time. Tomorrow would be an ideal time to start. Until the little people are involved in the decision making and have a say in how their jobs should be done, then there will be no motivation. You can't make things happen in DC from the top.


Let the Mayor Propose; Then Let the People Dispose
Stan Wellborn,

Are we now in for great and lengthy hand wringing over our new mayor's impudence in announcing a policy proposal — moving UDC to Anacostia, or bringing baseball to DC — before vetting it in advance? If that happens, every ANC, Council member, Congressional committee, civic organization, labor union, public employee cabal, advocacy group, Boy and Girl Scout troop, and gadfly in the District will want to weigh in on every proclamation Hizzoner makes — before he makes it.

Government by fiat? Back room secrecy? Give me a break. My guess is that Williams has probably met in more public appearances with DC citizens in his first few months than Marion Barry did in his last four years. I am all for sunshine in government, but to assume that every mayoral announcement has to be run through a sieve of constituent / activists before being made public is a guarantee that every special interest in the city will put its own spin on proposals before they are even aired. Far better is to let the mayor and his staff put forth his policy agenda when they feel an idea is ripe — rather than floating trial balloons to test public reactions before acting. Certainly our elected City Council, the Control Board, Congress, and the media — including DCWatch — will have plenty of time to poke holes in the Williams Administration policy agenda through the normal public hearing and review process. In my view, too many worthwhile policies have been derailed before they ever got a fair hearing because they tried to anticipate public reaction and then got diluted in the “consensus building” process.

Tony is a big boy. We elected him to take leadership positions based on his best judgment. Not every idea he suggests will be meritorious, but we should not demand that he test-drive every proposal. Give him the latitude to take a stand. We'll have lots of chances to knock him down if his ideas are no good.


The Mayor’s Budget
Anne Drissel,

People are quick to criticize the “apparent” lack of citizen input to Mayor Anthony Williams' proposed budget. I suggest this budget did not emerge from a vacuum. Many, many citizens of this city participated in a fast paced, yet surprisingly in-depth look at nearly every city operated agency and function as part of the Transition Planning Process. Many innovative ideas emerged through in person interviews with city agency heads and staff members and through reviews of thousands of pages of budgets, agency goals and objectives, and various progress reports and issue papers identified by numerous task forces and special committees. The highlights of these Transition Committee reports were presented to several hundred people who attended a public meeting at the DC Convention Center. Participants were invited to present comments, critiques and ideas to the various committees. These comments were incorporated into the verbal and written committee reports and summaries.

This information, coupled with Mr. Williams prior knowledge of DC Finances as CFO, formed the basis for the budget Mr. Williams proposed. Those of us who encouraged Mr. Williams to run as Mayor made it clear that we wanted major change in this city. Restructuring the budget and proposing unusual, unexpected and even daring ideas to revitalize the city is exactly what we expect him to do.


Williams’ Decision Style
Lois Kirkpatrick,

In defense of Tony Williams' NOT consulting with everybody and their brother in his efforts to turn DC around. Consensus is good. Consensus is nice. Consensus takes forever when dealing with multiple factions with deeply entrenched agendas.

From a public relations angle, Williams needed to take office and begin making real, substantive changes immediately. Otherwise, everyone would complain that he was a do-nothing, status quo posterer. Making immediate, substantive changes precludes gaining consensus on everything. I say, let the man do his job.


UDC — or Anacostia Tech?
Thomas C. Hall,, from Washington Business Journal’s editorial page, March 19-25, 1999

“... We have reservations, however, about Williams’ proposal to sell and redevelop the University of the District of Columbia’s Van Ness campus. Yes, the city would reap a windfall from the sale of the valuable campus on upper Connecticut Avenue NW. And yes, relocating UDC to Anacostia would stimulate development there. But if the long-term goal is to boost UDC’s standing and make it an attractive option for students from all parts of the District, moving it to Anacostia sabotages that goal. UDC needs a loftier goal than becoming a Strayer College competitor or Anacostia Vo-Tech. Better by far to leverage UDC’s prime location and let it bloom where it is.

“The District could offer the excess space on UDC’s campus to high-tech companies and research institutes, making UDC an incubator, similar to Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon. The District could offer long-term leases and incentives to companies who relocate to UDC’s campus, creating internships for UDC students and research grant opportunities for UDC’s faculty. If successful, UDC might someday need a branch campus — in a revitalized Anacostia, perhaps?”


Three Days Detention
Ed T. Barron,

Reggie Moss, Principal of Deal Jr. High, is in danger of being fired for his entrepreneurial efforts to raise funds for his school's activities. If it is clear that the money raised was, indeed used for legitimate school expenses, then let's just put a note in Reggie's permanent record and give him three days detention. We need more entrepreneurial efforts and examples of go-getting by more of our principals to show our students what resourcefulness is all about.


Apartment Management Complaints
Annie McCormick,

Does anyone have any ideas/leads regarding complaints on apartment management in the District? I am currently renting an apartment from Dreyfuss Brothers “Management.” In the four years I have rented my unit, they have done nothing regarding my complaints about the people next door to me who have people coming in and out of their apartment at all hours of the day and night and make such noise that it's like living next to a frat house. The “management” claims that two people are allowed to live in a one bedroom unit, and yet there are always more than 3 people there (and their friends). The “management” claims that there are two names on the lease, and that means that only two people live there. Calls to Landlord/Tenant in the District have proved fruitless — no one would help me, wouldn't refer me to anyone who could, no one had any answers, one even told me that they were only concerned with landlords, not tenants. One told me to sue Dreyfuss brothers under the grounds that they are denying me the right to enjoy my unit in reasonable peace. Calls to Dreyfuss in Bethesda get reverted back down to my building's “management” who have done nothing. I don't think it's fair for one person to live in an efficiency and pay through the nose, and yet a bunch of guys can live in a one bedroom and make such constant noise and have friends over at all hours of the day and night and nothing is done. A month ago, I called the police after being woken up at 7:30 am Sunday morning with them loudly arguing. The police never showed up. Is there a law in the District that clearly states how many people can live in a one bedroom apartment? Is there any division or any service, any department I can go to that can actually give me accurate information on what is acceptable in the District for noise levels and occupancy? Is there any recourse I have except for moving, which I find unfair? I have been waking up at 5:00 am to door slamming. I can't use my own balcony because of the noise. Help! I'm at my wits end!


Citywide Coalition for Substance Abuse Coalition
Rob Fleming,

One of the barriers to getting better regulation of alcohol sales and use in DC is that the neighborhoods, many of whom have similar problems, go up against an alcohol industry that is much better organized, with much clearer goals, and with paid representatives. As neighborhoods go up against them one by one, arguing against this bar or that convenience store, they are not very successful. Realizing this, neighborhoods across the city formed the DC Alcohol Control Coalition to present a united front to the ABC Board and the Council. We were successful in getting some significant changes in the process to make it, and the people sitting on the ABC Board, more neighborhood friendly.

Then the two principal founders went on to other things and the Coalition, without a formal organization to keep it going, folded. Some of those gains have been lost, others remain to be won. It's time to dust off the old DC Alcohol Control Coalition, give it a few upgrades, and get back in action. The Council Committee that oversees the ABC Board will be holding hearings next month, and we need to present them with a set of recommendations to get the Control back in ABC. There are two related issues that an upgraded DC Substance Abuse Control Coalition should address: neighborhood drug markets and increased treatment opportunities. Many neighborhoods are troubled by drug sales on the street or in abandoned buildings. In addition to encouraging police action, there are a number of things citizens can do to close down crack houses and drive-in markets. Neighborhoods need some coaching and teamwork to do that, just as they need coaching and teamwork to get better alcohol regulation. The other potential agenda item is increasing treatment opportunities. The Great Experiment of Prohibition proved that you can have only limited success in controlling supply of drugs (and alcohol is a controlled substance) if you do not control demand. The city's budget was balanced, in part, by cutting treatment and prevention services. This was easy to do because addicts don't have a real strong lobby. But neighborhoods are also abused by drugs, and need to speak up for all means that can limit those impacts.

As a first step, I am inviting ABC activists, and others, to an organizing meeting at the Mount Pleasant Library on Tuesday, March 30, from 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm to talk about a formal organization, an agenda, and a response to the Council hearings. Anyone concerned about these issues and seeking allies is welcome to attend.


Navigating DCRA
Ann Loikow,

Mark Eckenwiler asked how to find out how to navigate through the building permit, zoning, and historic review process to add a deck on top of his garage. For starters, he can begin on the web at the DCRA site ( ). It has a lot of very useful information on how to get a permit, the review process before the DC Historic Preservation Review Board, etc. I would also suggest that he contact his ANC and the Capital Hill Restoration Society for info, guidance, and their approval of his plans. The earlier he begins talking to folks the better his application will be and the faster the approval process.


Pothole Report
David S. Harvey,

More on my pothole report ... Called 3/17 repeating various calls and messages left since 3/2. Told “They picked up the ticket...” Came back afternoon of 3/18 to find potholes patched.


Baseball at RFK? Been There; Done That.
Beth-Ann F. Gentile,

Forget about RFK Stadium for baseball. The stadium was terrible for the Senators and will not be any better for a new team. RFK just does not lend itself to baseball. It is not a coincidence that the new baseball fields, like Camden Yards, resemble the old Griffith Stadium. It was right downtown (on the site of Howard Univ. Hospital, I think), the seats were close to the action, and it had an intimate, neighborhood feeling. Twenty thousand people at Griffith Stadium looked like a crowd. Twenty thousand at RFK looks like the city doesn't support the team — that's what happened to the Senators.


More DC Geography
David Sobelsohn,

Sara Cormeny writes that “Anacostia is on the southwest side of the Anacostia River, and RFK Stadium is on the east side.” I may have a fuzzy knowledge of DC geography, but I can read a map. According to my DC & PG County maps, the Anacostia River comes from the northeast, in PG County, where it originates in various tributaries including Sligo Creek & even one called the “Northeast Branch.” The river continues from northeast to southwest, where in SW DC it flows into the Potomac River. RFK actually is on the west bank, or west side, of the river, about halfway upriver — at neither the river's west or east end — and the neighborhood called “Anacostia” is actually on the east, or one could call it the south or even southeast, bank of the river, near its mouth.


Good Service from a Pharmacy
Joan Eisenstodt,

So much is written and spoken (on news programs) about the sloppy work of pharmacies. I write in praise of a great independent one — Foer's on Capitol Hill — for their accuracy, their attention to customers, the delivery service. The pharmacist even called me, after a prescription delivery, to check to ensure I understood how to take the medication. They deserve praise and business for being what a pharmacy should be: conscientious.



Hamen’s Hoedown
Society of Young Jewish Professionals,

The Society of Young Jewish Professionals, sponsors of the MATZO BALL, the nation's number one holiday party on Christmas Eve, presents the Hamen's Hoedown. Sunday March 28th, the Hamen's Hoedown at the Shark Club. Located at 44915 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, MD. Doors open at 8 pm. For directions call 301-718-4030. The party will feature dancing, hors d'oeuvres, pool. Lots of Jewish singles, and for ages 21-49. Cost is $10 before 10 pm and $15 after 10 pm, so get there early! Any questions or comments contact us at Or call us at 202-452-5541. Please visit our web page at


Ticket for “Fool Moon”
David Sobelsohn,

I have an extra ticket for the Kennedy Center's production of “Fool Moon,” with Bill Irwin, David Shiner, & the Red Clay Ramblers. Arch Campbell called this comedy “wonderful” and “the most fun.” The Post called it “hysterically funny — you laugh so hard you can barely breathe!” And Bob Mondello called it “pure pleasure.” The performance is at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, March 25. Tickets ordinarily go for $42 or $48, but I'll sell mine for $15 or whatever I can get. Call (202) 484-8303 — 24 hours/day.


Catholic Historical Society of Washington Spring Meeting Reschedules for Sunday, April 18.
Christopher J. Pohlhaus,

“The 1968 Riots and its Effects on an Inner-City Catholic Parish in Washington, DC” by Rev. Raymond B. Kemp, STL. Sunday, April 18, 1999 at 4:00 p.m., St. Ann's Church, Tenley Circle, 4400 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. The Catholic Historical Society of Washington was founded in 1976 in order to preserve and promote awareness of Catholic history in the Archdiocese of Washington, which includes the city of Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties (Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary's Counties). The society sponsors four lectures each year, a quarterly newsletter, and occasional tours of historic Catholic sites. Annual dues are $20 and may be sent to the Catholic Historical Society of
Washington, 924 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001.



Free to Good Home
Bruce Snyder,

Black Manx cat. Male. Adorable, playful as a kitten, and needing more attention and activity than he gets with a single person on the ninth floor. Originally lived with two women and a rabbit. Call Bruce (202) 234-1250.



Glover Park Day
Judie Guy,

The Tenth Annual Glover Park Day will be held Saturday, June 5 from 11 to 5 on the grounds of the Guy Mason Rec Center at Wisconsin and Calvert. Each year we have about 30 or so talented crafters/artists from the local area. We have many who return year after year because they like our festival so much. But we're also always looking for new and interesting art. Besides local crafts, the festival showcases our award winning neighborhood restaurants, 2 to 3 great local bands, prize drawings, kids activities, community service booths, and about 1500 or so neighbors. If you're interested in exhibiting and selling your art/craft, please contact me.


Drummer Needed
Chad Eric Hickerson,

The upcoming Spring production of The Foundry Players is the musical version of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” and are still in need of a drummer. The position is 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 theater, having been putting on shows for 53 years.


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
The Sports Commission's Can of Corn: Last year, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire a consultant to scout locations for a new D.C. baseball stadium. The company, HNTB of Kansas City, proposed eight sites — including a plot near the Anacostia Metro station, Buzzard Point, and RFK Stadium, an arena built to accommodate a baseball diamond.
HNTB, however, chose an undeveloped area north of Massachusetts Avenue between 3rd and 5th Streets NW as its “preferred site.” This slice of Shaw, said the consultants, had everything the bigwigs of modern baseball seek in a new park: proximity to downtown, a fallow plot of land promising virtually no residential or commercial displacement, and ready access to public transportation. The consultant didn't mention that the site also abuts that most endangered of species: a poor community that happens to live on
prime real estate.
Read the entire Loose Lips column this Friday at

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
Monday, March 29: The Comedian Harmonists, 1 p.m. at the D.C. Jewish Community Center, 16th & Q Sts. NW. $7.50.
Tuesday, March 30: “An Evening with Mr. Ossie Davis: His Thoughts on Mr. Benjamin Banneker” 6:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Institution, 16th & P Sts. NW. $25.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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