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June 16, 1999

Police Protection

Dear Crime Victims:

Here at themail, we are always looking for ways to improve our lives in the District. One of the common complaints that everyone has is how hard it is to get adequate police protection. Everyone has a story about waiting a half hour for police to respond to an emergency call, or waiting in vain forever for police to respond to a minor complaint. Well, last night I discovered the secret to getting much more than adequate police coverage. Dorothy and I were at the corner of 14th and U Streets, NW, at about 10:00 p.m. One man, a little bit drunk or drugged, waved down a passing police car and pointed the policeman to another man who was significantly drunk or drugged. The second man came over to the police car and cursed at the policeman. Within five minutes — by actual timing — a dozen police cars — by actual count, twelve police cruisers — had responded to the scene. So that's the tip. If the police are ignoring you, and not responding in adequate numbers, curse a cop and you'll soon be drowning in blue shirts. Of course, you'll still have to find that first policeman to curse at. Well, no tip is perfect.

Vaguely related to this is the query that was forwarded to DCWatch from a friend of the web site who monitors the dc.general newsgroup. Someone there is seeking information on why the squad cars of the DC School Police have license plates from the state of Virginia. Does anyone here know for sure that at least some of the school police cars do have Virginia plates? If so, two suggestions about why have been made in the dc.general newsgroup: first, that the cars might be long-term rentals from a Virginia firm, even through they were marked cars, painted with the DC Schools' insignia; second, that the cars were take-home cars, licensed in the school police officers' home state, even though they should be licensed in the state of the owner and even though the feds have practically forbidden the use of DC government cars for take-home use. Dorothy's bet is that the company that has the privatized contract to provide security to the DC school system is under no legal or contractual obligation to register its cars in DC, and, like any commuter, prefers to make its money in DC and spend it in the suburbs. Does anyone here have a better explanation?

Gary Imhoff


More School Excellence
Victor Chudowsky,

Whoa, now let's get this straight: Lorenzo McCrea, a D.C. band teacher, 39 years old and married, has a months long “affair” with a 15-year- old student at the school where he taught. She gets pregnant, and he helps with the abortion. He is nailed and sentenced to five years. However, the Principal of Shaw Junior High School, Erma Withers, and the Assistant Principal, Wilson Morgan, write to the judge in order to praise the band-leading Lothario as a “role model.” Isolated incident? This after a previous story in the Post about how the District schools failed to fire a convicted sex offender who was teaching as a substitute, even AFTER running a background check on him. And that after too many stories about leaky roofs, no bathroom doors, no air conditioning, beating up newspaper reporters, etc.

Now, some questions for all of you on this list who have kids in DC schools. Please respond: how does this make you feel? Should Withers and Morgan keep their jobs? Why? How much faith do you have in the people who teach your kids? Is your heart at rest when you send them off in the morning? Are you satisfied with the education they are getting, and with the character of those who educate them? Also, those of you who are not outraged by this, please ask yourselves why. Perhaps it is because you are used to hearing about more bad news coming out of the chamber of horrors that is the DC school administration. Isn't the fact that you are too numb to care frightening? And what are you going do about it? Probably nothing. But as for me, it all the more reason to support perestroika for DC education: more charters and a voucher system. Forget about trying to “save” the failing current system — it is time to drag it 'round back of the barn and put it out of its misery.


Muzzle Street
M-D Richards,

Tom Sherwood reported in The Northwest Current today that Walter Washington suggested a street be named after Hilda Mason. Sherwood suggested it face Congress as a reminder to people like Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who at the recent budget hearing said she likes DC's “special” status — being over represented by 535 members of Congress and all (Both The Post and The Times missed that part in their hearing stories...).

As I recall, the feds during the Reagan years named an alley next to a Russian embassy on 16th St. after a Russian dissident (AND... it was only a matter of years before they got their freedom). Since locals are paying for the lousy streets, they might as well try to name a few. It might take fifteen years (i.e., Rhodes Tavern...), but... while we're waiting, we could start putting up bronze plaques all over the city (on private buildings, of course) to entertain the tourists: “Near this site Kay Bailey Hutchinson of the great Execution state caused an uprising among DC subjects when she claimed to represent them and repealed DC's gun control laws and instituted the death penalty.” Mockery could be very hip.


Metro Poster Advertising
Patrick Shaughness,

I am writing in the hope that you don't have to be a prude to feel that a movie advertisement suggesting a boy and a man urinating against a wall is too crude and offensive to have a place in the Metro system. At least that was my reaction when I saw the poster advertising the next Adam Sandler movie “Big Daddy” throughout the Metro system. I E-mailed Metro about this and wonder if other readers feel the same way. I understand that Metro is hesitant to censor ads in the system for content, but this ad crosses too many lines involving good taste, public order and even gender sensitivity to ignore. Distasteful imagery of this sort should not have to be part of my morning commute, and is symbolic of the reason why some seek the “privacy” of their cars instead. If you have seen the posters and agree, E-mail
Metro through their web site at


Dreams of Streets Paved with Ingots of Gold or Silver
Mark-David Richards,

Who owns the streets of DC? What proportion of the streets are maintained by DC; by the federal government? As you recall, Washington made an agreement with the original 19 local landowners in which he took their land in trust while L'Enfant drew the plan for the Federal City. The agreement stated that “The President shall have the sole power of directing the Federal City to be laid off in what manner he pleases. He may retain any number of squares he may think proper for any public improvements or other public uses, and the lots only which shall be laid off shall be joint property between the trustees on behalf of the public and equally divided between the public and the individuals as soon as may be after the city shall be laid off. For the streets the proprietors shall receive no compensation...” (The towns of Carrollsburg and Hamburgh were not affected by this agreement.) Washington had instructed L'Enfant to remove as much land as possible to reduce the overall cost. In total, the feds paid $36,000 for 10,136 lots (half), 540 acres for public buildings and parks, and 3,606 acres for streets. (Over the years, they sold their lots to raise money for federal buildings and gave some to the DC government to pay DC for services.) All told, to get Washington City up and running for the arrival of the government in 1800, the feds “spent” a total of $110,000 in loans, which were repaid with interest by the city.

Only one original proprietor, David Burnes, benefited significantly from the presence of the Federal City. In 1837, Daniel Carroll of Duddington, also an original landowner, wrote to Henry J. Brent: “In answer to yours I fear that the deeds will fully express the relinquishment of right in the streets to the government, I nevertheless perfectly remember that the general opinion was that so great was the gift that the citizens would never be subject to taxation for the improvement of the streets — having relinquished every alternate lot to the government. Indeed some were so wild as to suppose that the donation was so great the government might pave the streets with ingots of gold or silver. After nearly half a century the result is now fully known; the unfortunate proprietors are generally brought to ruin, and some with scarcely enough to buy daily bread for their families. This subject is so truly frightful to me that I hate to think of it, much less to write of it.”


Let There Be Light
Ed T. Barron,

The three week delay in replacing the burned out street light at the busy intersection of Fordham Road and Massachusetts Avenue (Crate and Barrel corner) was due to the fact that the light is one of the old “white” lights in contrast to the new fixtures which give off a very bright orange and yellow light. At some point all the lamps will be of the same design as the “white” lights will be being phased out and the fixtures will be modified to accept the new bulbs. The “white” lights are not carried in stock and have to be ordered.


Non-Registering Parking Meters
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park,

I've had similar problems getting parking meters to give me the time their labels indicate they should. I assumed (based on something I once read, where I can't recall) part of the problem was feeding the coins too quickly so they didn't register. I suspect most folks, like me, didn't complain because how could you prove anything even if you knew to whom to complain.


Parking Meter Classic
Bee Wuethrich,

My best parking meter story is this: one day I drove to work (I work on the Mall at the National Museum of Natural History) and I parked on a street that had no meters, just headless meters, that is, just the steel poles. Parking was allowed until 4:00 pm, so I knew I had to come out and move my car later. When I went to move my car, brand new heads were on the meters, and my car had a ticket for parking at an expired meter! There you have it, a DC classic I think.


Granting No Quarter
Gabe Goldberg,

I lost two quarters in a new meter, they didn't register. Then three more quarters registered properly. I didn't bother filing for a $0.50 refund, clearly a losing proposition. This seems right up there with the “scanner tax,” a low-level widespread rip-off. Has anyone experimented to see whether it's the new state-backsided quarters that don't register on meters? Has anyone had trouble with those quarters in vending machines?


Parking Meters
Marie Collins, Shaw,

On a stroll the other day down 7th St. NW near the MCI arena I saw a curious thing ... a man polishing the meters. Not sure if it was a city employee or a red brigade guy. Of course its nice to see such attention to detail — the area had been looking kind of seedy as little as sixteen months ago. (We used to try and count the number of working meters on the stretch from M St. to Mass — finally there were none.) But I'm a little miffed that there's so much focus on the beautification of the business/tourist district while just a few blocks north in Shaw the municipal trash cans are emptied so infrequently that they are regularly overflowing with trash. I had come to not expect much in the way of city services in the ten years I've lived here. But the transformation of 7th street (albeit at the expense of some authentic Chinese restaurants/retail) has set a new standard. Too bad it hasn't expanded into the residential neighborhoods north of it.



Ward Two Democrats Election — Saturday, June 19, Washington Plaza Hotel
Andy Litsky,

We are building a party and all registered Democrats in Ward Two are invited to lend a hand! The Ward Two Democrats will hold their biennial Convention and election of officers this Saturday, June 19, at the Washington Plaza Hotel on Vermont Avenue and Thomas Circle. Registration will be open for one hour only, between 9:30 and 10:30 am. Convention proceedings begin at 10:00 am; voting begins at 10:30. Only attendees who have registered may be counted as delegates. Any Democrat who is registered to vote in Ward Two may become a member of the organization that morning by signing up during that hour. They will then be able to participate fully and cast a vote in this crucial election. For more information, call chairman Andy Litsky at 554-8070.


Shakespeare Free for All
Lorraine Swerdloff,

Don't miss Merry Wives of Windsor at Carter Barron Ampitheater. It's hysterically funny and creatively staged. Acting is so good that I had no problem understanding the dated language. And the price is right. Bring a sandwich and arrive early to get in line for a seat in the front.


Library of Congress Computer Workshops for Teachers
Sara Cormeny,

The Library of Congress National Digital Library (NDL) has some great teacher training workshops coming up in June in their Learning Center, located at the Madison Building on Independence Avenue SE. This newly built, state-of-the-art computer learning center means that this is an opportunity to see some excellent technology at work and learn about one of the best resources for educators now on the Web, the American Memory Collections. It's summer break, I know, but this is a great opportunity to do a little professional development! June 23, 9-10:30 a.m., Introduction to the American Memory “Treasure Hunt,” repeated June 24, 9-10:30 a.m. June 29, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., “Science and Innovation Treasure Hunt” using the American Memory Collection, repeated June 30, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

The workshops are free. Participation in each workshop is limited to 16. Those who sign up for the June 23 or 24th workshop can and are encouraged to sign up for the June 29th or 30th workshop. Please contact Karen Needles at 202-707-8151 or to sign up. Registration is open until sessions are full.


French Happy Hours
Aysegul Acar,

The Compagnons de la Parole Francaise meets every Thursday from 5.30 until 7 pm for a 'happy hour' in French at the United Methodist Church at the corner of 20th and G Streets, NW. The group usually goes to dinner afterwards. Directions: walk up the driveway on G Street (NO parking) and knock on the window facing you. Please do not ring the door bells since we do not want to disturb other Church meetings. For further info contact Aysegul,



Sofa Bed
Edna Small,

Convertible sofa bed in very good condition. Like new (hardly used) mattress. $250.00. 203-337-4906; 202-328-1083. Or E-mail



Desk — Free to Good Home
Clare Feinson,

Old-fashioned wooden desk, 34" x 60", three drawers on the right, one drawer in the middle, and a stowable storage table, originally intended for a typewriter, on the left. Excellent condition, virtually indestructible. If you can take it away, you can have it. Contact Clare, (202) 667-4701 or



Housing Wanted.
Cheryl Donahue,

Professional woman looking for small apartment, room to rent, or house-sitting situation on Capitol Hill from mid July to the end of August. References, details, etc., at . Thanks for any info.


For Rent, Historic Mt. Pleasant
Anne Drissel,

English basement apartment available July 1 — $625. One bedroom, kitchen, living/dining room, full bath, W/D, AC. Private front/back entrance, access to patio.

Quiet, friendly block, across from Rock Creek Park near the Zoo. Access to cross-town bus and Cleveland Park Metro; plenty of off street parking. Contact Anne at (h) 232-6517 or E-mail


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
TAGGED OUT? Paul Strauss absorbs his share of indignities as D.C.'s nonvoting shadow statehood senator. He has to raise money to pay his own salary and hire staff. He can't sit on the Senate floor and shoot the breeze with his “colleagues.” And he makes the papers only when the powerlessness of his position comes into full, comical relief.
Like now.
According to Capitol Hill sources, Strauss may soon lose the prize perk of his elected office: D.C. tags proclaiming him “U.S. Senator.”
Read the entire Loose Lips column this Friday at

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
Saturday, June 19: Dennis Lehane discusses and signs his latest detective novel, Prayers for Rain (with local writer George P. Pelecanos on hand) at 1 p.m. at Mystery Bookshop, 7700 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda. Free.
Monday, June 21: U. Booze, which teaches everything from the subtleties of gin to the contents of a Woo Woo, at 6 p.m. at J. Paul's Restaurant, 3218 M St. NW. $20 (proceeds benefit Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care).
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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