State of Denial
Don't try it yourselves I'm still going to send your submissions
back if they're too long for the mail, and I'll still ask you to try to cut long E-mails
back to two brief paragraphs. But Tom Matthes has slipped a long message by me by opening
up a new and timely subject, and by taking a reasonable, rational, and untrendy position
on it. Take your best swings at his pitch in the next issue, but see if you can meet him
on his own Constitutional grounds.
As city and private groups take their case for DC voting rights in
Congress to a federal court, there are two relevant questions. First, should the people of
the district have voting representatives in Congress? Second, do they have that right
under the Constitution of the United States? The answer to the first is yes.
Unfortunately, the answer to the second question is no and it isn't even close. The
House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the
People of the several States... The US Constitution, Article I, Section 2, paragraph
1. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each
State... The Constitution, Article 1, Section 3, paragraph 1. New States may
be admitted by the Congress into this Union; The Constitution, Article IV, Section
With all due respect to DC residents impatient over their lack of full
congressional representation, using clever lawyers to circumvent the plain English of the
Constitution is more than a sheer waste of time. It is like spinning the wheels of a car
stuck in the mud. You will only wear out the car engine and get no closer to the goal.
Asking the courts to repeal the constitutional rule that only states be represented in
Congress (which is why DC is only permitted a delegate in the House) and that
only Congress can admit new states is the constitutional equivalent of President Clinton's
approach to perjury (It depends on what the meaning of the word is
is). Efforts to get Congress to vote statehood for DC were thwarted by the
constitutional requirement that Congress retain legislative authority over the district
serving as the federal capital. But Delegate Norton believes that, this time, the 14th
Amendment can trump the original text of the Constitution and that a court can order
Congress to provide DC with the equal protection of the laws including
The honorable delegate should take another look: No State shall make
or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws. (Amendment 14, Section I). Unfortunately, again, DC is not a
State, but a district. Of course, it is possible that some federal judge will buy the
Norton interpretation of the 14th Amendment and either declare DC to be a State or order
Congress to admit a full delegation of voting members from DC. If Congress refuses, there
will be a constitutional crisis. But if Congress obeys, what precedent is established?
Will the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, penned with the help of Thomas Jefferson in
answer to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, be revived to justify state nullification
of disliked federal laws (including laws approved by votes from a district)? Will South
Carolina once again try to nullify tariffs or other taxes? Or will states start dividing
themselves to create new states in order to increase regional clout in Congress? I have no
idea, but be careful what you wish for. Remaking the government by dismissing the obvious
meaning of the Constitution will not mend our democracy, but end it.
The only ways to get congressional votes for DC are to amend the
Constitution or seek retrocession back into Maryland. Neither will be easy, but trying to
circumvent the supreme Law of the Land (US Constitution, Article VI, paragraph
2) is a detour into a cul-de-sac. The fastest way to an object is a straight line. It is
up to the good people of DC to unite upon a constitutional method and go for it.
Whither the Water and Sewer Authority
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
Is this outfit a floating crap game or what?? In the past three years
Water and Sewer has changed the mailing address for the place to send your checks three
times. Each time there was no red flag on the bill to indicate the change in address. My
bills are paid automatically (I call the amount into an automated 800 number) by Fidelity.
They send out the check on the date I specify each quarter. Periodically I get a notice
from the Water and Sewer crap shooters telling me that my service will be shut off in ten
days if I don't pay the bill. Each time I make several calls and finally get through to
someone to tell them that not only was my check sent in but Fidelity has a copy of the
canceled check. The problem lies with the change in address (we got another new address
last week) and the fact that I am not using their return envelope with the new address. It
would help if they red flagged those bills that have a new address for sending the checks.
Delay Receiving Renewed Car Registration
Jon Katz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Does anybody have any suggestions for dealing with D.C. delays in mailing
renewed car registration stickers and cards? I sent my renewal request for registration
and permit parking over one month ago, received my renewed parking permit, but still have
not received my renewed car registration. When I went to DMV in Northeast D.C., I was told
to wait a few more days, and that registration cards and parking permits are sent
separately. My registration expires this month, so I may just have to revisit DMV.
Does anyone know the law in DC is regarding putting trash in someone's
supercan? I have a dog and have twice in the last week been confronted by people who don't
want that in their trash. This is my first dog and I've had her for almost a
year. Have not had any problems until now. I don't understand this behavior for the life
of me. 1) This attitude discourages dog owners from picking up after their dog. 2) These
are sealed plastic bags, so there is no odor to worry about.
If I'm close to a public trash can, I'll put it there. If I'm close to my
home, I'll put it in my own supercan. But (as many dog owners do), if there is a supercan
nearby accessible from the sidewalk or alley, it goes in. I called the police to ask what
the law was. The officer I spoke with said as long as I did not go onto someone's property
and as long as the bag was sealed, it was "OK." I'm looking for clarification
from anyone else with information on this issue. Thanks.
Prisons, Prisoners, & Public Policy
David C. Sobelsohn, email@example.com
Society should design correctional policy to reduce the rate of
recidivism. Studies demonstrate that keeping prisoners close to their families makes them
less likely on release to commit more crimes. So it's strange that Ed T. Barron refers to
the family proximity argument for siting a prison in Anacostia as
humanitarian. I suppose it is humanitarian to want to keep the
crime rate low. But it's an odd use of the adjective, one not usually applied, for
example, to increasing police resources. Yet both increasing police resources, and
keeping prisoners close to their families have the same object: reducing the crime
rate. Barron also argues that if those prisoners really wanted to be close to their
families they would not likely be in prison to begin with. But what prisoners want
should not determine correctional policy. We should keep prisoners close to their families
because it will help keep them from committing future crimes, not because of what we think
We can make public policy thoughtfully and deliberately, based on studying
cause and effect, or emotionally and irrationally, based on no study at all. Let's do what
works, not just what feels good.
Its Not Taxes
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
The D.C. City Council has formed a majority who would propose a 25 to 35
percent reduction in personal income taxes for District residents over the next three tax
years. This would bring D.C. income taxes in line with those of Virginia and Maryland. The
result of this reduction, it is claimed, would bring people back to live in the District.
Wrong!!! it might attract a few folks, particularly those who have no children of school
age. But it won't stop those who are leaving because of the poor public schools or the
crime in the District. Those two factors are the defining factors that will preclude a
large influx of folks moving to D.C.
I would gladly give up the $2500 I would save with a 30% tax cut each year
to contribute to a fund that would provide vouchers to D.C. parents who want a real
education for their children. Until parents have a real educational choice via vouchers or
Charter Schools, they will not bring families with school age children into the District.
The Education Bill being discussed in Congress, which would allow District students to
attend public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates, is good. But remember,
the students will still have to qualify to gain admittance to these colleges and
universities. Students with SAT scores of 1300 or more are finding it difficult to be
admitted to local universities in VA and MD. We have to fix things at the Elementary and
Middle school level first. Since that may be a millennium away for the DCPS we must offer
educational choices via vouchers or Charter Schools.
After watching and reading the weekly postings with interest, I thought
that I would share a recent personal experience. I am responsible for launching the North
American headquarters office on a global s/w and technology firm (headquartered in Europe)
that focuses on enterprise level, intellectual property and asset management. We looked at
New York, San Francisco and the DC areas and decided to put our office in downtown
Washington (between Metro Center and the MCI Center). Some of this was for economic
reasons, some was travel convenience to Europe, some was culture, attitude,
employee-based, etc. However, much of our reasoning was based upon the trends and
excitement that we saw wherever we looked in the city. Significant attention should be
made to the good things that Washington is doing to attract new businesses and the
resulting income of good revenue, taxes, jobs, etc. The relatively excellent DC
transportation infrastructure also was a factor in our not locating in Northern Virginia's
gridlock. Our downtown location is also helping us in recruiting great employees who want
to avoid the traffic and "island" work environment found in suburban business
The efforts and leaders of the Greater Washington Initiative, the DC
Marketing Organization, and the new DC Tech Council also impressed us and our global
management. Although I sense that not everyone agrees with their overall agendas, these
organizations did help attract our company we look forward to contributing likewise
as we grow. Finally, believe it or not, we have had wonderful service from the DC
government in such small, yet critical issues as permits and registration. They worked
with us and everything was done easily and quickly. In fact, in sharing our experience
with our other offices' management, DC has been much better from a business development
standpoint than London, Paris, and Tokyo. Everyone should keep up the good work in
promoting Washington, I travel at least once a week and a genuine buzz is developing --
thankfully, people want to come to our office now because they feel that DC is one of
the places to be.
The Common Denominator
Kathy Sinzinger, Editor & Publisher, The Common Denominator, NewsDC@aol.com
In reply to Messrs. Harvey and Olinger (with whom I have also communicated
privately) and others who might be unfamiliar with D.C.'s 10-month-old hometown
newspaper. The Common Denominator distributes about 30,000 copies
throughout the city every two weeks, so we're unfortunately not as widely
available as The Washington Post, and our complimentary copies appear to be gone
rather quickly in some parts of town. Once we get more advertising revenue, we'll be able
to do a little more about that. There aren't any millions of dollars standing behind The
Common Denominator just me (an average middle-class D.C. resident for 18
years, who has lived in Brookland for the past 11 years and on Capitol Hill prior to
buying my home).
We started out weekly but had to cut back to biweekly while we try to get
our advertising revved up. We want to resume weekly publication as soon as possible. We
can't afford a marketing campaign, so most copies of the paper have been distributed free
since we began publication last June. Our most recent issue (April 19) hit the streets a
few days ago. Complimentary copies are available at all D.C. public libraries, all D.C.
police stations, at about 400 businesses throughout the city and for 25 cents from bright
red vending boxes at every D.C. Metro station. Vending boxes also may be found at D.C.
Superior Court, Reeves Center, Good Hope Marketplace and in front of The Washington
Post at 15th & L NW. If you're interested, you may subscribe for home delivery in
D.C. for $12 per year by calling us (635-6397) with your credit card number or mailing a
check or money order to us at 680 Rhode Island Ave. NE, Suite N, WDC 20002. If you have
trouble finding a copy of the paper, please call us at 635-6397 to locate a distribution
point near your home.
Columbia Heights Development
Elizabeth McIntire, email@example.com
All are encouraged to continue sending comments to RLA, Councilmember
Graham (Ward 1), and the Mayor regarding the critical decision on 14th St development
around the Columbia Heights Metro Station. Forest City's is the only development proposal
which will cover all 4 city-owned sites on both sides of 14th Street between Monroe Street
and Irving Street, NW, including both Metro station entrances. They will preserve the
Tivoli Theater for arts/technology uses and place a grocery on the opposite corner (14th
Street and Park Road). They are a strong national company with experience in urban retail.
Since they would be managing all sites, they are also most able to fulfill requirements
for the public benefit -- such as facilities improvements for the schools, police
substation, community space, small business and entrepreneurial development, etc. The
addresses to write: Secretary, RLA, 801 North Capitol Street, NE; Mayor Anthony Williams,
441 4th Street, NW, 20002, firstname.lastname@example.org ;
Councilmember Jim Graham, Ward One Representative, 441 4th Street, NW, 20002, email@example.com
You may have seen the article in Saturday's Post about a study by
Drug Strategies on drug abuse in Washington. If you followed the jump to the inside pages,
you saw that it said we're not doing a very good job of fighting it. The full report is
available at http://www.drugstrategies.com ,
and starts with a discussion of alcohol abuse. Many years ago, the DC Alcohol Control
Coalition was formed to fight for better alcohol regulation and treatment. We found that
many neighborhoods had similar concerns, but little clout with the ABC Board and the
Council as long as they worked only at the neighborhood level. The Coalition has been
dormant for many years, but is coming back to life.
The next meeting of the DC Alcohol Control Coalition will be at the
district office of Councilman Jim Graham at the Reeves Center (up on the mezzanine level)
on Tuesday, April 27th at 7:00 pm. Please join us if you are concerned about alcohol sales
regulation, public drinking, and the availability of treatment in DC.
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marguerite Boudreau wrote about problems with her water bill and asked how
to contact WASA. I don't know of an email address, but Libby Lawson and her staff (she is
the WASA Public Affairs Director) has been good in responding to my queries for
assistance. Her telephone number is 202-645-6296.
Stick to the Issues
Jason Juffras, email@example.com
As an avid reader of themail, I was disappointed when the most recent
issue included characterizations of people as jerks and creeps in
a discussion of severance pay for the Mayor's Chief of Staff. Let's have a vigorous
exchange of views, but please spare us the name calling.
Turtle Park Refurbishing
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
This coming weekend - 24 and 25 April -- will be a refurbishing weekend at
Turtle Park on Van Ness St. (at 45th St.). Friends of Turtle Park have raised over $110K
to refurbish the park and this weekend all new playground equipment will be installed by
volunteers. Anyone interested in helping should come on down to the park on Saturday
morning or call P. Kaye Hanifee at (202) 364-7353 for more details.
International Law Seminar
Steven Roy Goodman, email@example.com
You are invited to attend a seminar entitled Exploring Careers in
International Law: Educational and Professional Opportunities Today, to be held at
The American Society of International Law, 2223 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Tuesday, April
27, 1999, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Fee: $20. For more information please contact Steven Roy
Goodman, Graduate Admissions Consultant, (202) 986-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or The
American Society of International Law, (202) 939-6010, http://www.asil.org
Shepherd Elementary Auction Postponed to May 8
Donald Squires, email@example.com
Due to the NATO summit, Shepherd Elementary's Spring Auction, scheduled
for this Saturday, April 24, has been rescheduled to May 8, 4-8 pm. Details of the auction
are in the April 18 edition of themail. Why is an event scheduled for Saturday and for a
location nowhere near downtown postponed for the NATO summit? Don't get me started. But do
come on May 8 to support our wonderful D.C. public school. Your $20 ticket gets you dinner
as well as a chance to bid on some great items. The postponement gives you two more weeks
to save up to bid for your one-on-one lunch with WAMU's Kojo or Mark Plotkin or any of our
fabulous items! Here's a tip: because our community is less affluent than some others, our
featured items are often sold for much less than you might expect. Email me with any
CLASSIFIEDS HOUSING FOR PEOPLE AND CARS
Dupont Circle sublet, available May 3 through June 15. Gorgeous 1 b/r,
w/d, d/w, patio, BBQ, close to metro, shops, restaurants. 202-232-3449,
House For Sale by Owner, Cleveland Park
Horace Howells, firstname.lastname@example.org
One block from Cleveland Park Metro and Connecticut avenue, on 30th
between Porter and Ordway. 1st floor, high ceilings with molding, 1995 kitchen, dining
room and living room with fireplace. 2nd floor, master bedroom with bathroom, second
bedroom, third room home office/nursery and a hall bathroom. 3rd floor, finished room.
Basement, finished, has bedroom and full bath and large room with fireplace. The house was
built in the late 1940's. It has oil forced water heat and central AC.
A friend and neighbor is in desperate need of a new house to rent or a
long/short term house-sitting job. He's in his early 30's, very responsible and has a
wonderful middle aged dog who is well trained, clean and not destructive. If anyone has
any ideas for him, please contact him (Terry Fischer) directly at TFISH2@rocketmail.com . He prefers to stay in or
as close to the city as possible. Thanks.
Who knew how foolish I'd feel driving around in circles after having made
the decision to buy a townhouse without a parking space not far from Dupont Circle
(oh, it won't be that bad, the buyers uttered, egged on by an eager broker,
we'll just park in the neighborhood)? Well, after three years, we've given up.
Any info on a parking space for rent in the vicinity of T to U Streets and 16th/17th
Streets would be much appreciated. Please call 884-0210 or send an e-mail to RGervase@telesiscorp.com . Thanks!
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Schwinn Sidewinder all terrain bicycle, men's 18 speed, 19" frame,
excellent condition, $150 or best offer. Call 202-332-5663 evenings or e-mail anytime.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, email@example.com
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
IT'S WAR! Ward 7 Councilmember Kevin Chavous began his April 15 hearing on the University
of the District of Columbia (UDC) with a nasty look on his face. Seated before him was
mayoral Chief of Staff Abdusalam Omer, an emissary entrusted with defending Mayor Anthony
A. Williams' proposal to move the university from its Van Ness enclave to an unspecified
site east of the Anacostia River.
From his leather chair atop the council dais, Chavous looked like a king among serfs. He
blasted Omer for his boss's failure to honor the royal court, aka the council's Education
Committee. The mayor has testified before various committees based on what is
important to him, said Chavous. It would be good to hear from him on
When Omer suggested that he would capably represent the mayor on UDC, Chavous snapped like
King John: I don't think it's in your purview to determine whether [your presence]
is sufficient for the council.
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, April 24: National Day of Puppetry, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Glen Echo Park,
7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Puppet version of The Wizard of Oz is $5;
other events are free.
Wednesday, April 28: Richard Lederer will sign and discuss Word Circus, at 6
p.m. at the Museum of Natural History's Baird Auditorium, 10th & Constitution Ave. NW.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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