E-Mail Worth Its Weight in Gold
Many thanks for your useful responses to some of the questions asked in
the last issue of themail, and for continuing to send in the news around you. If you read
to the bottom, you'll even find something worth this message's weight in gold two
recommendations for good plumbers. But please remember to sign your submissions with your
name and E-mail address; I've had to return too many unsigned submissions recently. (By
the way, I do know E-mail doesn't have a weight, but you know what I mean, don't you?)
To start the issue: Tom Hall of the Washington Business Journal
kindly sent themail a copy of an editorial in their latest issue, TonyGate: Hiring
Candidates Is Bad Business. I've reprinted it, since it isn't on the Journal's
TonyGate: Hiring Candidates Is Bad Business
Thomas C. Hall, Washington Business Journal, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington Business Journal editorial, June 4-10:
Mayor Anthony Williams has apologized for failing to disclose two
jobs he accepted from prominent local businesses during his mayoral campaign
The mayors apology is sincere, but off-target.
Williams should not be apologizing for the tardiness of disclosure, but for accepting the
money in the first place. Nor is the business community blameless in TonyGate.
Well-meaning, civic-minded District business leaders concocted a scheme to give Williams
an allowance to tide him over while running for office, following his June 1998
resignation as the citys chief financial officer.
When Williams was deciding whether to run for mayor, he dropped hints that it would be a
financial hardship for him to quit his $118,000 job as CFO for the six-month campaign.
It now seems obvious the $40,000 Williams received as a freelance consultant for
NationsBank and Arthur Andersen & Co. was really a thinly disguised campaign
Williams, the bank and the accounting firm concede he did little to earn the $10,000 in
lunch money he was given by NationsBank or the $30,000 Arthur Andersen paid him to think.
Both companies do considerable business with the District, leaving themselves and Williams
open to second-guessing about potential conflicts of interest.
While candidates ultimately bear the full responsibility for any questionable
contributions accepted, businesses should not be hiring the candidates they
support. To do so circumvents laws limiting political contributions.
The irony is that Williams was recruited, ran and won on a good government platform. That
image is now tarnished by Williams political naivete and faulty logic in accepting
ill-conceived gifts that violate the spirit, if not the letter, of campaign finance laws.
We're still not sure Williams gets it. Even while apologizing for the late disclosures,
the mayor defended his actions, issuing a statement that nothing improper
Illegal? Probably not.
Money Making Opportunities
Mark William, email@example.com
I like the idea of getting paid to speak and to go to parties. Now if I
could just get people to start inviting me. I am sure those thousands of dollars in my
pocket would not cloud my perspective. I mean, really, how could anybody insinuate that a
few hundred thousands of dollars, in toto, could be a conflict of interest? The real
question is: how could anybody say, with a straight face, that it was not a conflict of
interest? I suggest we citizens ask for his resignation. If he wants to make city
government accountable, let's let him start.
Also, after hearing Tony William's press release on how his office has
cleaned up the DMV I have to admit I fell for having raised expectations. Had been down
there months ago and ONLY waited 35 minutes a new short term record. Now, the new
improved system took 1 hour and 35 minutes plus one has to listen to the
incessant drone of the wait by the numbers announcer. Really irritating. Looked around and
wondered why the city wonders why so many people are so anxious to get out of this town.
To top it all off, my vehicle's title did not have an empty weight printed on the title
(it is stated in the Blue Book). I now have to get my vehicle weighed at the inspection
station, then wait in line at C Street all over again, then go back and get it inspected.
What a needless waste of my time. Incidentally, there now appears to be 3 to 4 times as
many staff members doing even less than they used to. Hiz honor just lost any credibility
he had with me.
Must admit, although I was born and raised in this town, that was the
straw that broke the camel's back. I am now seeking to move as soon as I can do so without
taking any major financial losses. Changing politicians in this town is about as effective
as changing furniture on the Titanic. Yet, the band does keep playing as long as the tax
revenues keep streaming in. At least, with the others, we all knew they were stealing the
silverware when we bought them a meal.
Since I absolutely cannot bear to think about Anthony William's conflict
of interest payments for a minute longer, I thought I'd pass along a couple of consumer
items that I've run across recently. The money involved is small, but it gives one a sense
of empowerment to control even a few dollars. The first item is long distance phone
charges. I make few long distance calls on my home phone these days, since long distance
is included in my cell phone plan. And when I do make calls the charges, minimums, and
taxes are ridiculous. So I uncovered a simple solution: call Bell Atlantic and tell them
that you no longer want a long distance service. For a one-time charge of $5 they will
remove any long distance service from your account, with its minimums and taxes. You can
still make toll free calls as before, and using a 10-10 service you can make any other
calls you like. The 10-10 service I picked provides 10 cent/minute within the U.S., and 11
cents/minute to the U.K. (For 10-10 comparison shopping, see Consumer's Report's
The second item is the scanner tax. This is the additional
charge you pay when the checker at the Supermarket accidentally scans an item twice.
Although you might consider this to be an uncommon occurrence, when my wife and I started
checking we noted that when we weren't careful about picking a checker, we could find a
double scanned item about a third of the time. This past weekend we went to a new checker
who double scanned one item, just stopped himself before double scanning a second item,
and who was going to double scan a third item before I stopped him. My guess is that in
this guy's shift his carelessness led to hundreds of extra dollars of revenue for the
store. Be forewarned and keep an eye on that checkout scanning to avoid the scanner
Marion Barry Support Prison
James E. Taylor, Jr., The Park Skyland Civic Association, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marion Barry's effort to sway the prison debate should be taken as
seriously as his efforts to introduce any other meaningful economic development to this
east of the river community. He ranted and raved against the proposal to move an
educational facility to this area because we are undeserving of the thought of this kind
of quality institution. But now he rants and raves about the economic benefit a prison
will bring and how befitting this is for this east of the river site. The prisoners, he
contend, will do better because they will be near their families.
Excuse me! Weren't these same people near their families when they
committed the crime? Mr. Barry contends that the prisoner's transition will be more
successful because the prisoners are placed close to home. What Mr. Barry really need to
understand about the opposition is that while these prisoners are located close to their
loving families they are ALSO close to the very elements that likely caused their criminal
behavior. I am sure that Mr. Edmunds would have salivated over the possibility of being
incarcerated in such a facility. He would be thriving in business today. He proved that he
could operate his drug operation from prison! Now the ex-mayor wants to make it possible.
Don't do the crime ... you won't have to move. I think our tax dollars should be better
spent protecting our communities, not based on whether a person is going to change
characteristics because he or she is close to home. This is all about money in the pockets
of the proponents of building a prison we don't want or need! I hope our NEW mayor, unlike
Barry, who opined that east of the river deserves better, sticks to his reasons for
opposition. Can you envision future sightseeing tours ... the Washington Monument,
Jefferson Memorial, White house, Prison.... Oops, escapees.
Dear Mayor Williams, In your welcome letter printed in the 1999
Capital Pride Guide, you wrote Thank you for choosing Washington, D.C., as the
host site for your event. While you are here, I hope you will take the opportunity to
visit some of our famous historical monuments, museums, theaters and diverse neighborhoods
all of which make this city our nation's capital. On behalf of the residents of the
District of Columbia, you have my best wishes for a successful and enjoyable
festival. I would like to point out that the Capital Pride Festival is a local,
Capital area, event not a national one. (San Francisco and New York would take us
to task for claiming otherwise!) DC was picked as the host site
because we live here.
DC citizens are proud to be a multiethnic, diverse, and tolerant
community. DC is one of the nation's most gay-friendly communities. DC citizens elected
two openly gay representatives to the Council and their sexual identity was never
an issue. Yet DC is the only community in the U.S. that is prohibited by Congress from
implementing local policies its citizens widely support, such as domestic partnership
registration and adoptions by unmarried couples. So it is thanks to local citizens that
the nation's capital is gay inclusive, not because of an enlightened Congress or because
it is the nation's capital. And until Congress grants DC the same voting rights as other
U.S. citizens and refrains from meddling in our local affairs, all DC citizens
including the gay and lesbian community are at the mercy of individual members of
Congress who do not respect local opinion. Sincerely, Mark Richards
Although I haven't used the DC First-Time Homebuyer Credit (i.e., I don't
own a home), I am pretty sure that the guidelines are fairly straight-forward: If you make
$70,000 a year or less ($110,000 if filing jointly with someone), and you have not owned a
home in the District of Columbia at any point during the past year, you're eligible for
the credit. No matter where in DC you buy, you receive a $5,000 credit on your federal
income taxes. The best place to call for up-to-date information is Eleanor Holmes Norton's
office, as they are the ones who have fact sheets, the latest income cut-offs, and
application instructions on hand. The number there is 202-225-8050.
Your $5K Credit Is In themail
Thomas C. Hall, Washington Business Journal, email@example.com
In answer to Rich Mintz's question about the $5,000 tax credit for
first-time homebuyers in the District: Every realtor in D.C. knows how to help you get
this federal income tax credit they are marketing it to the max as an extra benefit
for prospective homebuyers. The best source, however, is D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton's
office, 202-225-8050 and her Web page, http://www.house.gov/norton
, which spells out the eligibility and income limits, which are generous.
The credit itself comes via an IRS form you file with your federal income
tax return for the year in which the home is/was purchased. The original bill authorized
the credit for five years (Aug. 1, 1997 Dec, 31, 2002) but Norton is trying to get
that extended, as well as allow buyers to use the $5,000 tax credit as cash at closing,
rather than wait several months to get the credit.
In response to Rich Mintz' question regarding the Federal Tax rebate for
first time homebuyers in DC. The full $5000 credit is available to anyone who has not
owned a primary residence in the District for the previous two years with an income level
under $70,000 (AGI) for an individual and $110,000 for joint filers. The credit is reduced
after $70k AGI, and eliminated completely over $90k AGI for individuals; for joint filers
it is eliminated after $130k AGI. (AGI is adjusted gross income) I believe it is Federal
tax form #1089 that needs to be sent in. Hope this helps. This is a great program! Feel
free to email me with detailed questions.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Mark Eckenwiler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rich Mintz asks about the federal tax credit for first-time DC homebuyers.
In a nutshell, you get a $5,000 credit (not a mere deduction, but an actual
bottom-reduction in amount of tax) if you satisfy two criteria. First, you must not have
held any present ownership interest in a home in DC within the 12 months prior to closing.
Second, for you to get the full credit, your modified adjusted gross income
must be less than $70K (single, married filing separately.) or $110K (married joint
filers). There's a $20K phase out range, so a single filer making $90K gets no tax credit;
making $80K, he or she gets a $2,500 credit. All is made clear on one page Form 8859,
readily available from the IRS web site.
Bob Levine, email@example.com ,
wrote: This Saturday [Tudor Place was] entertaining and as a result blocked off Q
Street, frequently for long periods of time. This was enforced by a police sergeant who
was off duty and had been privately hired by Tudor Place to facilitate the logistics of
their party. The permit for this had been issued by Chief Ramsey's office to Tudor Place.
The above information was provided by SOD (Special Operations Department. . . .
Somehow I doubt that the permit actually permitted a street closing. But
if there was a permit, it should be in the files at the SOD (Special Operations Division,
of the MPD), which is at 2301 L Street, N.W., where you can see it. It's a public record
and they should be happy to show it to you. If they won't, you can send Chief Ramsey a
Freedom of Information Act request and he'll have to produce it. Then you can see what
permit was asked for, and by whom, and for what, and what permit was issued. Do tell us
what you find out.
The recent email complaining (is this really happening?) about Jewish
get-togethers and the use of the world 'spade' was as offensive as any racial/ethnic
hatred I have been privy to. Such drivel merely serves to trivialize real problems.
Please, let's start spending time thinking of, for starters, how to educate the tens of
thousands of poor (mostly black) kids in this city who are currently receiving almost no
education. There are about another dozen or so public policy issues we should be
discussing. Let's put this other garbage on the back burner -- or in the supercan, where
Re: God Bless Us All, and May We Love All of Our
Frank Pruss, Frank.Pruss@SiliconVilla.com
If I'd wanted to see that garbage, the web link to AF was sufficient. I
really don't appreciate getting direct quotes from the site in my e-mail. Now
to re-format my hard drive ....
Garbage Truck in a Hurry
Art Spitzer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Debby Winsten, email@example.com ,
wrote: My car was legally parked on a Kalorama side street when I discovered an
index card telling me that it had been sideswiped by a DC garbage truck.... My insurance
agent wasn't much help. How and to whom do I register my plight?
I'm not sure what you mean about your insurance agent. If the accident was
covered they should pay. If they don't, and you want to make a claim against DC, you must
send a letter to the Mayor within 6 months, stating the time, place, cause, and
circumstances of the injury or damage (DC Code sec. 12-309). Send it certified mail,
return receipt requested, so you'll have proof. Typically you'll get a response giving you
the name of an investigator at the Corporation Counsel's office with whom you can try to
settle the claim, and that may be the easiest way to try to get compensation. Whether or
not you follow up on that response, once you've sent the letter to the Mayor, you can sue
the District in Small Claims Court (up to $5,000), where you don't need a lawyer. Just go
to the courthouse at 501 Indiana Avenue and ask for the Small Claims Branch. Good luck!
(But how are you going to prove the damage was done by the District? Did the garbage truck
driver actually sign his name legibly?)
Re: Not What You Want to Find on Your Car's
Frank Pruss, Frank.Pruss@SiliconVilla.com
It's just the cost of city living. Get used to it or rent a parking space.
I have long since given up getting the side-swipes on my car repaired.
(Adams-Morgan Mecca of drunk drivers).
Mark Eckenwiler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Levine asked for suggestions for outdoor pools in the DC area. One
good one can be found at Cheverly Swim & Racquet Club, just east of DC in Cheverly,
MD, near NY Avenue. Don't be misled by the tony-sounding name. (Racquet club
makes me think of dowagers, leather armchairs, ball boys, and Thurston Howell III.) In
fact, it's dominated by families with young children and has a very casual and friendly
feel. (If you live on Capitol Hill, you're also likely to see numerous neighbors at the
pool.) Amenities include a full-size pool; kiddy pool; 4 clay courts and 2 HarTru courts;
basketball court; volleyball setup; snack bar; and a large grill (charcoal included) for
outdoor cooking on Sundays & other designated picnic days. We joined last
year & recommend it highly. Membership fees are reasonable, and last time I checked
there are still openings for this season.
Calvin Eigsti, email@example.com
In response to the person looking for a good plumber, I highly recommend
David Stang & Son, based in Damascus. We found them listed in the Washington
Consumer Checkbook 4 years ago, where they were given high marks for competency and
price. The one caveat is that they have a minimum one hour charge, so make sure you have
enough work for them to do so that you feel you're getting your money's worth.
To the person seeking a good plumber, I use Andy White of A.D. Plumbing
& Heating. He's very knowledgeable and prompt, as well as capable. You can reach him
at (301) 260-1300.
Discuss Angels in America With the
David Sobelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org
Footlights, DC's only drama discussion group, meets monthly to discuss
plays from the modern theater. Membership is free; we pass the hat to make expenses. At
our meeting Wednesday, June 16, we will discuss Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches (1991). Frank Rich in The
New York Times called the play vast [and] miraculous, a radical
rethinking of American political drama. The New Yorker's John Lahr called it a
victory for theater, for the transforming power of the imagination to turn
devastation into beauty. Our discussion takes place 7:30-9:30 p.m. (dinner at 6:30)
at Luna Books, 1633 P St., NW, just 3 blocks E of Dupont Circle. It will feature director
Lee Mikeska Gardner, whose current Signature Theater production of Millennium
Approaches earned a rave from the Washington Post's Lloyd Rose (unpretentious
charm and intelligence . . . almost embarrassingly rich in wonderful performances).
For reservations e-mail email@example.com
or call (202) 638-0444. For more information visit the Footlights website at http://www.footlightsdc.org .
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Light Meter for Sale
Nadine Granof, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sekonic Studio Deluxe. Fantastic condition, barely used; manual and box.
Best offer. Also, new Kindermann 10 oz. developing tank in box with instructions. Contact email@example.com
Hotel, Flat, or Family Needed
E. James Lieberman, M.D., 202-362-3963, firstname.lastname@example.org
Housing needed for two young (20, 22) French people (Jeanne and Francois)
who are coming to Washington for a project from 16 June to 3 August. I will put them up
for the first few days. They are looking for a hotel, flat, or family. Call or
e-mail if interested.
Great space, great building, great location. 500sf efficiency in Best
Addresses (p.107) building near 16th & U NW. Formal layout featuring entry hall
with fluted ceiling, huge bathroom, large well appointed kitchen. Nine foot ceilings,
original oak and mahogany hardwood floors, huge windows with thick moldings. Many original
(c.1910) details, including claw foot tub in bath, glass pane cabinets in kitchen.
Building was built in 1910, designed by Wardman, listed on the national register of
historic places. Old world lobby with stained glass windows, grand staircase, faux marble
walls. Full service co-op building, including 24 hour front desk. Roof deck with soaring
views of the entire city, including Washington monument, National Cathedral, US Capitol,
National Airport, etc. Located a half block north of U Street and east of 16th; close to
Dupont Circle metro, U Street metro, 16th Street buses; everything within walking distance
(Dupont, 17th Street, Adams Morgan, U Street, etc.) Building is very safe, neighborhood is
Asking price of $55K means about $525/month (minus tax break on mortgage
interest). First-time buyers qualify for federal tax credit of $5000, too. Absolutely
beautiful move-in condition. For more info or to make an appointment to see it, call owner
at 202-483-2271 or e-mail at email@example.com
Are you seeking a housesitter for your house, estate, condo? Writer/PhD.
seeks to house-sit your property during the summer months. Will maintain house, grounds,
redirect or hold mail, pay bills etc. Experience in security consulting, property
management, landscaping and household bookeeping/billpaying. In the process of writing
book and motion picture manuscript. References. Call (202) 508-1059 or (202) 574-1532.
Short term or complete summer house-sitting contracts available.
My new firm is seeking retirees, students, housewives, underpaid
government employees and others to participate in our New Entrepreneurship Training
Program. We are seeking District of Columbia residents to train as (1) business
development consultants/planners. Must have experience in computers, business management,
grants and proposal writing and/or business to business sales. Requires knowledge of
Word/MicroPro and Business Accounting software. (2) Janitorial contracting entrepreneurs.
Must have experience in building cleaning or maintenance, supervisory(helpful). Willing to
work under contractor, as a subcontractor. Guaranteed contracts. Must have a vehicle and
the desire to own your own business. For information on these projects call The AHJ Group
(202)508-1059 Email Ajac793661@aol.com or fax
resume to (202) 331-3759.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, firstname.lastname@example.org
From washingtoncitypaper.com's Loose Lips column, appearing this Friday:
Williams' Woodies Woody: Last month, Mayor Anthony A. Williams traveled to Las Vegas for a
convention of the nation's premier retailers. Among the messages
he received in his chats with the assembled Wal-Marts and Old Navys was that name-brand
department stores and the like won't throw anchor in downtown D.C. until the city's core
attracts more residents.
Armed with with industry's suggestion, you'd think the mayor would have come straight back
from Las Vegas to install signs on every downtown corner proclaiming, If You Lived
Here, You'd Be Home Now.
Instead, he opted for a different direction. On June 3, the mayor wrote a letter to D.C.
Zoning Commission Chair Jerrily Kress pleading for expedited action on a proposal to
downgrade housing requirements at the Woodward & Lothrop building at 11th and F
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, June 12: The Washington Romance Writers' all-day workshop, featuring authors
Courtney Henke, Karen Alarie, Julie Moffett Czechowski, and therapist Diane Perkins, from
10:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Reston Library, 11925 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston. Free.
Thursday, June 17 & Friday, June 18: In the Beginning There Was Underwear,
a critique of a young woman's romantic notions that nonetheless acknowledges the appeal of
such fancies, director Anna Negri's film screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 17, and Friday,
June 18, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 7th & Independence Ave. SW.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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 http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/subscribe.htm
. To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to email@example.com
with unsubscribe in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available
at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail .
All postings should also be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org , 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.