themail.gif (3487 bytes)

June 13, 1999

Quarter Time

Dear Parkers:

Two of the many joys of living in the District are that we never run out of examples of things that don't work, and that nearly every problem's solution creates a new problem. A couple years ago, not only did many of the old parking meters not work; but also in some areas of town up to a third of the parking meters were missing completely; they had been vandalized and stolen. The city went through a memorably messy process of awarding a contract to replace the meters. And now, in this issue of themail, Constance Maravell writes about her experience with one of the new parking meters that stole her quarters. Dorothy tells me that a lot of the new parking meters malfunction, and give either no time or short time. What has your experience been with the new meters and with reporting malfunctioning meters to the city? Has anyone had any success in getting a refund for a malfunctioning meter, or do most people just not bother reporting broken meters because they only lose one, two, three, or four quarters at a time? Does anyone know whether anyone in the city government is overseeing and supervising the parking meter contract with Lockheed Martin, and requiring repairs?

Gary Imhoff


New Parking Meters Overcharge
Constance Z. Maravell,

The other day I finally found a parking space on 23rd street. I read the meter which said you get 30 minutes for 25 cents. I thought, “this is really great.” I put in my first quarter and the meter didn't even register the event. I put in another quarter and found out it was only going to give me 20 minutes for 25 cents. I put in another quarter and I still only had 20 minutes on the meter. In short, it took me $1.50 to get one hour to register on the meter. I had the very ugly thought that I wanted to lop the head off the meter.


Sense of Humor
Ed T. Barron,

Last week's edition of the City Paper had a lengthy article about Tony Williams and his sense of humor. Here's a story that the Mayor should enjoy. A blind man is waiting at a corner to cross with the traffic light. He has a seeing eye dog alongside. As the man waits for the light to change the seeing eye dog lifts his rear leg and relieves himself all over the blind man's shoe. A passerby alerts the blind man that the dog has just peed all over his foot. The blind man says “Oh, thank you. By chance do you happen to have a dog biscuit?” he asks. The passerby asks “Are you going to reward your dog for peeing on your foot?” “No” says the blind man “I just want to find his head so I can kick him in the ass.”

In this story the blind man is Tony Williams. Let us hope that he can find the head, which is the bloated bureaucracy in the D.C. Government, and then kick it in the ass.


Laughing with Our Friends Who Live in States
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

Remember themail's DC motto contest? Since DC gets its share of friendly jibes from our Lords in the Kingdom of Congress and our friends living in States, I thought I'd share these new mottos sent to me by a friend from a State.

Alabama: At Least We're not Mississippi; Alaska: 11,623 Eskimos Can't be Wrong!; Arizona: But It's a Dry Heat; Arkansas: Litterasy Ain't Everthing; California: As Seen on TV; Colorado: If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother; Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only Dirtier and With Less Character; Delaware: We Really Do Like the Chemicals in our Water; Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids!; Georgia: We Put the “Fun” in Fundamentalist Extremism; Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru (Death to Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money); Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes... Well Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good; Illinois: Please Don't Pronounce the "S"; Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free; Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn; Kansas: First Of The Rectangle
States; Kentucky: Five Million People, Fifteen Last Names; Louisiana: We're Not All Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign; Maine: We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster; Maryland: A Thinking Man's Delaware; Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's (For Most Tax Brackets); Michigan: First Line of Defense From the Canadians; Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes and 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes; Mississippi: Come Feel Better About Your Own State; Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars at Work; Montana: Land of the Big Sky, the Unabomber, Right Wing Crazies, and Very Little Else; Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest; Nevada: Whores and Poker!; New Hampshire: Go Away and Leave Us Alone; New Jersey: Ya Wanna ##$%##!in' Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##!in' Motto Right Here!; New Mexico: Lizards Make Excellent Pets; New York: You Have the Right to Remain Silent, You Have the Right to an Attorney...; North Carolina: Tobacco Is a Vegetable; North Dakota: We Really are One of the 50 States!; Ohio: ...Fire ...on what lake?; Oklahoma: Like the Play, Only No Singing; Oregon: Spotted Owl... It's What's For Dinner; Pennsylvania: Cook with Coal; Rhode Island: We're Not REALLY An Island; South Carolina: Remember the Civil War? We Didn't Actually Surrender; South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota; Tennessee: The Edjucashun State; Texas: Si' Hablo Ing'les (Translated = Yes, I speak English); Utah: Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus; Vermont: Yep; Virginia: Who Says Government Stiffs and Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix?; Washington: Help! We're Overrun By Nerds and Slackers!; West Virginia: One Big Happy Family — Really!; Wisconsin: Eat Cheese or Die; Wyoming: Wynot?


Budget Blues in the Dregs of the Congressional Kingdom
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

Let's run through our budget process. First, about 1/3 of our earned income is collected by both the federal government and the DC government. The feds cut DC out of the discussion at that level: call it the simplified plan. In DC, the Mayor and Council hash out the details, with the supervision of the Congressionally imposed Financial Control Board, and come to an agreement on how they propose to spend DC's $4.6 billion (The Times) or $5.1 billion (The Post). Now, it's ready to go up to the real decision makers, the unelected ones whose money is not involved, the Lords and Ladies who were banished to the Dregs Committee of the Kingdom of Congress. This is where the real action begins.

Wednesday, June 9 — They sit high up on their polished podium, looking down at our little-looking leaders. They set the tone by belittling their competence and calling them naive. And then comes the ideological angle, so important to making the Capital City America's Home Town: Illinois Democratic Senator Durbin is shocked (based on his experience while a student at Georgetown in the '60s) that DC's leadership would propose a tax cut to bring back residents. Haven't they heard about the crime and the rats? The Mayor and Council Chair assure them the sun will rise tomorrow. Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and the GOP majority like the tax cut, but those pay raises are a bit much — they're going to be scaled back. And she wants DC to pay its debts down faster, and she agrees with her good friend across the isle about the crime problem, and would like DC to institute the death penalty. Stand by folks. There's more to come in the days ahead.

Just thinking ahead a little bit, don't you think this process needs a little tinkering with? Maybe we should add another level to this pyramid scheme — like the OAS and the UN. Or maybe the feds should just double the fee for DC and collect it all at once — why bother having a DC tax collection system? Or maybe we should just say, “Fine, you want to decide how to spend the money, you pay for it — ALL of it. And we'll tell YOU what we think.” In the meantime, DC's elected officials and citizens should show up at the June 24th hearings dressed up like George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and all the other colonial leaders who got fed up with exclusive jurisdiction by the British Parliament, threw a big tea party, and set up the federal representative system. It won't be more of a circus than it already is. Mayor Williams must be starting to realize he's taken a no-win job. He's probably thinking, “What was I thinking when I said yes to those draft Williams people?”


Scanner Tax
Cathy Vidito,

Larry Seftor's comments about the unofficial supermarket “scanner tax” made me recall my days working at as a checkout clerk in DC. I worked at one of the upscale supermarkets for several months for extra money and noticed that many items were programmed with the wrong price. Sometimes the consumer got a bargain, sometimes not. The point is, ever since then I always keep an eye on the register to ensure that the price is right. The scanner tax is not always the clerk's fault. I never understood why people would get annoyed at *me* if an item was priced wrong. While I'm on the topic, allow me to mention the appalling lack of common sense and decency displayed by customers of all socio-economic backgrounds, such as: 1) Leaving unwanted items, like dairy goods or meat, in remote areas of the store where they won't be found for hours, instead of turning them in to the checkout clerk so they can be restocked immediately. 2) Placing their diapered kids on the conveyor belt or counter. This is disgusting. Would you want a person in his underwear sitting on the surface where you place your food? 3) Eating items in the store and handing me the sticky wrapper to scan; not distinguishing their items from another customer's with a separator, assuming the clerk will intuitively know where to stop. With today's conveyor belts that advance automatically, any space you leave between your and another customer's items is pointless. 4) Throwing money onto the counter instead of handing it to me, or graciously leaving behind the pennies in change.


Swimming Pools
Ralph Blessing,

One additional pool suggestion: Glenmont Forest Swimming Pool (301/942-9840), between Silver Spring and Wheaton, just north of the Beltway. Located adjacent to a residential area and surrounded by a wooded area. Well maintained.


Professionalism in Plumbing for the Palisades
Bob Andrew,

H. D. Johnson is a third generation family owned plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor specializing in hot water heaters. They are at 5500 MacArthur Boulevard, phone 244-6555.


Suicide Assistance Laws
David Sobelsohn,

Now that Maryland governor Parris Glendening has signed a law prohibiting suicide assistance in Maryland, does anyone know the law on this subject in Virginia or DC?


Contractor Recommendation Wanted
Ann Bond,

Does anybody know a good and reasonable contractor for small jobs? I live on the Hill and have various jobs like replacing linoleum in very small kitchen, replacing fixtures in bathtub, moving meter box from inside the house to outside, etc. My phone at work is 202-994-4390, or home is 544-7272, and my E-mail is



Great Play Running for Two More Weeks!
Gabe Goldberg,

I very much recommend “Hay Fever” by Noel Coward, playing downtown at Players' Theater, Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, (202) 347-9621. It's playing June 18/19/25/26 evenings at 8 pm and June 20 at 2 pm.

This small theater opened in 1936, tickets are $6, the people are very sweet, the setting is old and friendly/funky, they serve nice punch and cookies, and all plays I've seen there have been wonderful. And it's near Chinatown for dinner! Read all about the play at



Apartment Wanted to Rent
Matt Borgia, 202-482-1939,

I'm looking for a studio or 1 BR apartment, to lease or for extended sublet. $500 to $750 per mo. rent, unfurnished or furnished. I'm most interested in D.C., preferably off the Red Line Metro from Scott Circle/Dupont Circle to Friendship Heights, or on Capitol Hill, near Union Station or Capitol South, or possibly Arlington. I don't smoke, have no pets, and am a neat, professional male w/ a Master's degree. Needed no later than July 1.


Apartment Wanted
Scott Hummel,

Hi. My name is Scott Hummel, and I am beginning a job at Georgetown University next month. I am currently looking for a place to live in DC. Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, and Dupont are definitely areas I am interested in.


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)