themail.gif (3487 bytes)

May 19, 1999

Completely Unfair

Dear Jokers:

Well, I've just misspent another afternoon of my life watching the City Council hearing on Valerie Holt's nomination to be the new Chief Financial Officer. The Council, by the way, was also wasting its time, since it does not have confirmation power for the CFO's office, and its vote will not have any legal effect. To dissipate my spite for this wasted time that I'll never get back, I'll unfairly summarize Ms. Holt's excuse for the misinformation and disinformation she gave the Council when she worked in the Barry and Kelly administrations: “The real numbers and the facts were buried somewhere in the reports, and it's your own fault if you believed the testimony we gave, and didn't uncover the truth.” Jim Graham asked what was perhaps the most important question to Ms. Holt, and I'll also unfairly summarize both it and her answer. Question: “If you're the CFO, you'll have to work with the Council, and we have to be able to trust the information you give us. Do you respect the Council's position and authority enough to withdraw your nomination if we vote against you?” Answer: ”Are you out of your mind?” Well, those weren't the words, but that was the sentiment.

This does not bode well for getting accurate information out of the CFO's office in the future. The major accomplishment of Tony Williams as the Chief Financial Officer was that for the first time in years the numbers in the DC budget had some relationship to the real world, that they weren't just exercises in diversion and misdirection. Wouldn't you think he would want to establish a tradition of trustworthy DC budgets? And why doesn't he? By the way, since several contributors have sent themail compliments about the speed with which they had received DC tax check refunds, you should know that Ms. Holt's one recommendation for saving money in the OCF's financial cluster was to send out the tax refunds later, in order to stretch out the time demands on the staff.

Somebody please help me, and help all of us — send in something amusing on a completely different tact to get us off on another topic, to distract us and to get our minds off of this. Heard any good DC jokes lately?

Gary Imhoff


What’s a Poor Candidate to Do?
Nick Keenan, Shaw,

The revelations about Mayor Williams' “consulting” give off a wretched stench. I'm sure it's possible that NationsBank and Arthur Andersen don't feel that they did him a favor, and I'm sure it's possible that he doesn't feel that he owes them a favor, but it strains credibility to believe so. And let us not forget that the reason we elected Williams is that we were tired of 20 years of mayors whose policies were directed more by those whom they owed favors to than by concern for the City.

That said, how do we expect candidates to support themselves? Like most people, Williams had a job that would not allow him to draw a paycheck while he was a full-time candidate, so he had to leave that job in order to run. Would we accept it if campaign money was used to pay a salary for the candidate? Or would it smack of “favor”-itism if contributions went directly into the pocket of the candidate? That leaves two categories of people who can afford to run for elected office — those who can support themselves independently, and those with employers indulgent enough to keep them on the payroll. I'll dismiss the first category with a single word: Gildenhorn. In the second category, we must rule out anyone who has a private sector job — again, it's just too cozy. That leaves people with public sector jobs, and the Hatch Act restricts us to those who hold elected office. Is it any surprise we ended up with four incumbent councilmembers in the last election? Is it just a coincidence that $40,000 is about six months salary for a councilmember?

But the Williams deal still stinks.


Roy Goertner/Sheila Galagan,

In response to Mr. Donohue's letter on the problems at DCPS, I would like to point out that DCPS's problems are not unfxablei but stem from serious long-term neglect. DCPS has been plagued by years of superintendents ranging from incompetent to mediocre, Ms. Ackerman being only the most recent example. Aggressive Chicago style takeovers, now so popular, often produce mixed results. DCPS needs an excellent superintendent (NOT Ms. Ackerman) capable of both rooting out the deeply embedded bureaucratic culture of incompetence and making a genuine response to the needs and concerns of the local communities of students, parents and educators that make up the public school system. A new superintendent needs oversight from a vigorous board of education, ready and willing to set policy and demand that policy be implemented by the superintendent. The non-elected and timid Board of Trustees merely rubber-stamps Ackerman's actions and the distant and un-involved Control Board refuses to acknowledge that their Chicago-style takeover has so far been a failure. Entrusting the school system to our new, and as yet untried, mayor will not produce the kind of solutions DCPS so desperately needs. Give us a new, excellent superintendent and a board who will make that person do their job.


Medicaid Math for Dummies
JePhunneh Lawrence, Ward 8 resident,

On November 5, 1996, Ward 8 residents went to the polls and elected an uneducated High School drop-out to the City Council. Now the entire City will have to pay the price for Sandy Allen’s DUMB DECISION. Sandy Allen, this is basic Medicaid math: $30 (D.C. money) take away $70 (Federal money) = a loss of about $22.2 million in federal matching funds. Sandy, Medicaid funds are not all District funds: the $9.5 million you cut from District Medicaid spending resulted in a loss to the District of at least $22.2 million in federal matching funds. Sandy Allen you clearly do not understand why you can't play fast and loose with Federal Government matching funds.

Sandy Allen, this note is occasioned by your lame attempt, at the Ward 8 Dems meeting of Saturday May 15, to rationalize your misguided decision to strip District Medicaid of nearly $22.2 million. Sandy Allen, although you gave your little talk and then ran away without answering any questions, you need to understand that Ward 8 SIMPLY DIDN'T BUY IT.

Frankly most Ward 8 residents have prayed that your four year term would pass quickly and uneventfully; however, it appears that Ward 8 residents can not escape the consequences of their failure to vote or cast an informed vote on election day Nov. 5, 1996. Sandy, Ward 8 residents are the most public benefits dependent population in the District. You didn't prove anything to District Medicaid officials, you hurt Ward 8 residents big time. The only positive side of this fiasco is that you clearly showed thousands of District young people why education is so very important. Sandy, you destroyed the health care system for many Ward 8 residents and every other District resident who is eligible for or needs entitlement benefits. Unfortunately it is too late to recall you and we don't have the power to impeach you so you should do the right thing: SANDY ALLEN, YOU OUGHT TO RESIGN NOW AND SAVE WARD 8 AND THIS CITY FROM FURTHER DISASTER AND EMBARRASSMENT.


Adam J Marshall,

As several contributors have pointed out, NARPAC *does* make a valuable contribution to the continuing debate over DC's future. I was merely trying to question why an organization with such laudable goals sits outside of the District — I suppose it's a knee-jerk reaction, given the number of critics who live or work in the suburbs. In no way do I question its purpose or legitimacy; instead, I'm only trying to emphasize that the best critics are those who come from within rather than without. I'm glad that Ms Drissel and Mr. Sullivan have clarified what was to me a rather murky entity. It stands to reason, however, that any DC resident would be suspicious of outside groups that purport to have DC's best interests at heart, given what's happened in the past. Of course, however, I'm behind any group actively working FOR this city, and from what I've read here, NARPAC is doing so. Best of luck, then, to all.


DC Tax Checks
Kirsten Sherk,

Don't know much about cashing tax checks, but I do have to applaud because my tax return was process and mailed within three weeks. My Federal return still hasn't arrived!


Swimming Lessons Wanted
Sarah Eilers,

I'm interested in arranging swim lessons for my four year old son. Private or very small group, outdoor pool, in NW DC or close-in Maryland. If anyone has recommendations, please e-mail me at the address above. Thanks.



One World Media Center Open House
Phil Shapiro, Chevy Chase, DC,

One World Media Center, a new nonprofit video and multimedia training center in Adams Morgan, will be having an open house on Saturday/Sunday, May 22/23, from 9 am to 9 pm on both days. Come tour the facilities, meet the award winning video producers who use the center, and see the many technology tools that One World makes available to the community. One World is located at 2390 Champlain St. NW, Washington DC 20009. Part of the Washington City Paper building, but separate street level entrance. Fully wheelchair accessible. A map showing One World's street location can be found on the front section of the One World web site at , Contact: Phil Shapiro, (202) 686-5465.

Persons with cable modems, DSL, or T1 Internet access can view full motion RealVideo G2 clips digitized at One World at , including a tour of the facilities given by Discovery Channel video producer Theo Smith, co-founder of One World. For folks with modems, a Quicktime “slideshow” of this same tour can be more easily downloaded and viewed.



Alexis M. Neely,

For Sale, 1997 VW GTI VR6 — lo mi., leather, mnrf, cd, cass, all pwr, all maintenance records, bumper to bumper factory warranty to 100k miles. We love this car, only selling because we are having a baby and need a passat wagon instead. 16k obo. 202-319-8987.



Apartment for Rent
Bruce Snyder, Adams Morgan,

For rent: one bedroom apartment, 614 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, MD, 860 sq. ft. ww, dw, walk-in closet, 12 ft. of closet in BR, 6 ft. linen closet, wooden shutters. Available June 30. $750.00 including utilities. Call (202)234-1250.


Condo for Sale
Steve Goodman,

Beautiful 1-bedroom condo for sale by owner — $114,900 — Kalorama: Schuyler Arms, 1954 Columbia Road, NW, Upper floor, Fantastic 1BR/1BA in a superb location, near Red Line Metro. Re-sanded, re-polished hardwood floors, high ceilings, newer kitchen, new outlets and fixtures, well laid out, separate entry foyer, A/C, quiet side of a quiet building, front garden, front desk, inviting lobby, roof deck, elevator, bedroom (10'6" x 16'5"), living room (9'8" x 16'5"), dining alcove (6'9" x 7'3''). For more information, please call (202) 986-9431. Agents welcome.


Apartment to Share
M. Treistman,

A very sweet and pleasant young lady is seeking a roommate to share a comfy two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a secure building on Wisconsin Avenue across from the National Cathedral in NW Washington, D.C. It is on a major bus route, a short ride to the Tenleytown Metro stop, and in a very nice neighborhood within walking distance of grocery stores, restaurants, and Georgetown. Female preferred, non-smoker only. It is available starting June 1, or earlier if needed. If you know anyone who may be interested please respond to or call (202) 537-7188 and leave a message for Jeanie.


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
SWEEPS WEEK: Shortly after taking office in January 1991, Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon promised frightened District residents a new style of policing, one in which cops would walk a beat, communicate with neighbors, and stop crime before it happened.
You know the rest of the story.
By the time Mayor-for-Life Marion S. Barry Jr. began his fourth term in 1995, the law enforcement methods promised by his predecessor had acquired a national coinage — community policing — and an eager follower in Hizzoner's police chief, Larry Soulsby. Of course, Soulsby had no experience in community policing, he had little experience in management. As his 1997 downfall showed, he was rather more keen on covering up his official misdeeds.
Chief Charles Ramsey, installed last year by a high-powered selection panel, was to have written a new final chapter in the city's community policing saga. “When they get me, they get community policing,” Ramsey told the Washington Post before taking his job. “That goes without question.”
Perhaps the chief hadn't consulted other control board designated saviors: No reform program ever just sails through the District government.
Read the entire Loose Lips column this Friday at:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
Friday-Sunday, May 21-23: Antique Toy Road Show, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, May 21, to Sunday, May 23, at the Holiday Inn, 8777 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. Free.
Sunday, May 23: Tango Festival '99, 4 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $15-25.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the subscription form at . To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available at .

All postings should also be submitted to , and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)