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June 20, 1999

Mid Year Report

Dear Reporters:

Below, Ed Barron reminds us that it is time to prepare our mid-year report cards, both for the Mayor and for the new Council. Please, if you're interested, send in your grades for scholarship, application to task, attention to detail, as well as deportment. I'd be especially interested in your scores for, “Plays well with others.”

Gary Imhoff
themail@dcwatch.com

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Mid Year Report
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aol.com

Here we are at the mid point of Tony Williams' first year as Mayor. I find myself right smack in the middle between delight and major disappointment in the Mayor's performance to date. His heart appears to be in the right place. His lack of political experience and true leadership capabilities have become painfully apparent. Tony Williams, for all of his life, has been a doer, a make things happen person. He's now thrust (by his own petard) into the role as Mayor of Dodge City and has found that there's so much to do and so little time. The Mayor must change, and change dramatically, if he will accomplish even a small part of what needs to be done in this city. Instead of trying to play all the instruments in the symphony orchestra, the mayor must take up the baton and get the most out of his piccolo player, the best out of the trombonists, and beautiful music from all the players.

The new Mayor must become a Team Builder and a Team Leader. Not a manager, a leader, one who delegates authority, and autonomy, one who trusts others and gives them freedom to make things happen. A real leader is a first among equals, not a czar. A good start would be with the City Council. The Council could be a bastion of strength and the source of some real help in making things in this city work better. The City Council is a potentially viable, ready made team to help the Mayor. If Tony Williams wants to accomplish the things that need to be done in D.C. he must learn to be a Leader, not a doer.

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My (What Seems to be an Annual) Arena Fee Gripe
Tom Berry, tom@berrybest.com

Long-time readers of this forum probably recall my sentiments regarding the egregious Arena Fee imposed on DC businesses. This year the District has outdone even Marion Barry's administration in that arena (pun intended), however. The fee was due June 15th. Always civically fiscal minded, I filled out the return, enclosed a check for the proper amount and posted it to the DC Treasurer on the aforementioned date. Two days later, we received in the mail a notice from our local leaders that “the filing and payment date has been extended to August 2, 1999.” Ah, there's nothing like earning advance interest on someone else's money, is there now? And all of the timely filed businesses loose 6 weeks of interest on their own money. I'm just thankful that we didn't have to pay, like some, the maximum fee of $8,400.

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Metro Bus Stops
Annie McCormick, amccormick@itic.org

Several weeks ago, while waiting for the bus going downtown at 16th & V Streets, a truck pulled up and two uniformed Metro employees got out. One proceeded to clean the ground around the shelter with a blower, the other was checking the shelter for safety. I pointed to the bus stop across the street, in front of the old Roosevelt building. It is in disrepair, with the bench is missing a board and the stop rather dirty -- graffiti, etc. I asked them, and I was told by the Metro employees that the stop they were working on was a Metro Stop and that the stop across the street was not maintained by Metro, but by the District. And of course, it wasn't maintained at all. So what's the story here? Is there someone who decides which stops are which? Does anyone know how to tell a bus stop that is maintained by Metro and that “maintained” by the District (besides the later being in disrepair). Does anyone know who to call to get the District to fix the Metro stops that are supposed to be maintained by the District?

[It's true that some stops are owned and maintained by Metro and others by the District, and that they aren't marked WMATA's governmental liaison to the District is Herb Leonard, 962-1050. Try calling him to find out who in the District government maintains DC-owned stops, and please let us know what you find out.]

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Crosstown Hell, Part II.
Sid Booth, SidBooth1@aol.com

I made the mistake of driving up Massachusetts Avenue from downtown on Monday and encountered more construction and traffic delay than I've seen since they repaired the Massachusetts Avenue bridge over Rock Creek Park a few years ago. It looks just as nasty. Since other readers of themail might also be affected sometime, can someone advise how long this disruption is likely to go on and whether there are better times to use that route than others? As a Mt. Pleasant neighbor, I'm already looking forward to the new traffic patterns required by the repairs that began this week on the Porter St.-Klingle Rd. bridges over the park, a promised “18-month” project.

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Foggy Bottom/West End ANC Passes Jury Trial Resolution
James McLeod, jmcleod@ibm.net

Good news! I took the issue to the people and they said, "Yes, restore the right to a jury trial for most misdemeanors! Wednesday evening, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A passed the attached resolution on a 4 to 1 vote (one abstaining). The resolution concludes: “Be it resolved, that this Commission hereby respectfully recommends that the Council of the District of Columbia amend D.C. Code 16-705(b) to restore the statutory right to a jury trial for all persons facing more than 90 days in jail, and, to address the Lewis v. United States aggregation issue, that the new standard be set at 'more than 90 days in total in a single proceeding.'” For an essay on the jury trial issue, see http://www.iblf.com/gideon.htm

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More On (and In) the Cable Advisory Committee
Jeffrey Hops, jeffhops@yahoo.com

The cable advisory committee of the District has been meeting, and we have been going over the franchises of surrounding communities in order to get a good feel for what a “state of the art” franchise is looking like these days. Our biggest issue right now is that we are lacking people to fill the seats on the committee. There are 4 mayoral appointments, 1 council appointment, and 1 DC Public Schools appointment still open. If you have ever wanted to serve on a citizen's advisory committee, this is your chance! Meetings are once a month and rarely last more than two hours (in the evening). Folks with any background in the telecom industry and/or regulated utilities and/or municipal management are strongly encouraged to apply. For more information, call Walter Adams or Stacy Robinson at the Office of Cable Television (202) 671-0066. Tell 'em Jeff sent ya.

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Pilot Program
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aol.com

A Post article a few weeks ago described the success that a school in Baltimore has had in educating urban children. Some DCPS persons visited the school and learned what was being done. I have heard no more about this, but it seems that the DCPS should undertake a pilot program involving at least one school to use this new curriculum and teaching methods to see if it significantly improves the learning by the students in that school. The pilot program should involve an existing school with no special efforts to load it up with the “best” teachers in the District to get a completely fair representation of the effectiveness of this new curriculum and teaching system.

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Gun Laws Save Lives
Adam Jay Marshall, adam.marshall@yale.edu

It continually amazes me that members of Congress feel that they can test out each and every one of their pet projects on us — three years ago it was a ban on city funded abortions for poor women; now it's the repeal of our 26-year- old ban on handgun ownership. I encourage everyone who reads themail to write or call Rep. Goode of Virginia ( rep.goode@mail.house.gov ) and raise hell about his amendment to repeal our locally drafted gun laws. It might also be helpful to call the congressman from California who wants DC residents to be allowed to transport loaded guns (I think his name is Duncan Smith). Could you imagine how bad the crime rate in this city would be if gun ownership were in fact easier? I don't think that anyone who participates in this forum could stomach the thought of more of our own people dying in the streets as a result of one Congressman's power-hungry and ill-advised actions.

On a lighter note, Bee Wuethrich's comment on parking at a headless meter only to return to find a new meter and a ticket struck a chord with me. I had the same experience on Fessenden Street NW last year — I parked at a headless meter for some two months without problems, but then one day I found both a new meter and a parking ticket on my car. It amazes me how efficient the Parking Enforcement people are when the school system can't even fix roofs and the police aren't well enough trained to hold their fire. Where are our priorities?

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Update on Shaw Junior High
Nick Keenan, Shaw, NBK@gsionline.com

I haven't seen anything about this in the papers or on the TV news, so, fellow readers, you're hearing it here first. On Tuesday, June 15th, Principal Erma Withers and Assistant Principal Wilson Morgan of Shaw Junior High were suspended indefinitely because of their public support for convicted statutory rapist Lorenzo McCrea. Shaw has an academic record that might charitably be described as undistinguished. It has a swimming pool that has not worked in years. It has athletic fields that the students are not allowed to use. During the heat wave last week the air conditioning was broken. However, Shaw does have an excellent marching band that has achieved national prominence. Lorenzo McCrea was the director of that band. It appears that while it was acceptable to put the band ahead of the
physical and academic condition of the school, it was not OK to put the band ahead of the physical safety of the students, however much the leadership of the school wanted to.

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The Band Teacher
Katie Mann, kmann@clark.net

In regards to the person asking how people feel about the band teacher having an affair with the 15 year old, and the principal and vice principal who wrote a letter praising him as a role model. This is how I feel — nauseous and a tremendous wonder of “in whose world is this man a role model?” The affair is disgusting, though maybe I'm growing numb at an early age, because I am not shocked. What is shocking is the judgment of both the principal and vice principal. I find this to be an appalling display of poor judgment.

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Metro Poster Advertising, Part 2
Peter Luger, Mt. Pleasant, lugerpj@gunet.georgetown.edu

I admit I haven't seen the poster advertising Adam Sandler's new movie. I assume the character's backs are to the public as they simulate urination in the photo. It's a comedy! It's a young dad and his young kid! It's not like they're shooting cats! This is exactly the reason the House of Representatives failed to get anywhere close to passing legislation this week that would restrict minors' access to violence and sex in books, magazines, video games and other mass media. It's the common, and true, argument that once you violate a right (in this case, the First Amendment), it's a slippery slope to taking everything away. And, I don't believe people commute by car to avoid Metro ads they may find offensive. There is plenty of offensive stuff to see on the road and on the side of the road while driving into DC.

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Metro Poster Advertising
Bill Adler, badler@csi.com

Regarding Patrick Shaughness's comments about the advertisement in Metro for the movie “Big Daddy:” Somebody must have been asleep at the wheel at Metro. I completely agree with Mr. Shaughness: You don't have to be a prude to think that an commercial advertisement depicting a man and boy urinating against a wall is in poor taste. Metro should yank the advertisement. I've also written Metro, expressing my feelings about their bad judgment.

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“Big Daddy” Poster
Constance Z. Maravell, Zinnia@CompuServe.com

I too saw the “Big Daddy” poster in the metro. I really couldn't imagine what the message was supposed to be, so I thought, “Is that supposed to be how men bond?” I instantly decided that that was one movie I would definitely not see. In my mind these ads are counterproductive.

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Prudery in themail?
Kirsten Sherk, ksherk@mindspring.com

Prude or not, it's just a tasteless poster. I agree that “ad crosses too many lines involving good taste, public order and even gender sensitivity.” But I don't think Metro is a location requiring a much higher quality of advertising than anywhere else. Maybe it's the years in the New York subway system that have inured me.

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DCPS Car Licensing Question Answered Long Ago
Kathy Sinzinger, The Common Denominator, EditorCD@aol.com

Item in The Common Denominator, Sept. 7, 1998: “We were surprised to see a marked D.C. Public Schools police car being driven through the city in the wee hours of a recent Sunday night, but not quite as surprised as the control board staffer to whom we inquired about the Virginia license tags on the car. 'What?!' he blurted. Apparently, the city contract requires the security company to mark the cars but is silent on their licensing (i.e., 'taxpaying') requirements.”

Hope this helps answer the question.

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Blue Light Special
Mark Eckenwiler, eck@panix.com

In the last issue, Gary cheekily suggests, “If the police are ignoring you, and not responding in adequate numbers, curse a cop and you'll soon be drowning in blue shirts.” Actually, a reporter friend of mine from NYC once seriously suggested that the best way to draw a police presence is to call 911 and report that a cop is in trouble. You'd be amazed how many blue brethren and sisters (cistern?) show up.

N.B. Actually following my friend's advice might have bad consequences for anyone who lacks a Really Good Excuse. Use only as directed; keep out of reach of children.

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Response Time
Ralph Blessing, rblessin@usia.gov

Some encouraging news regarding response time from DPW to service requests. Last week I sent them an e-mail about an especially unsightly lot adjacent to the Takoma Metro stop. Linda Grant responded in a day or so, and a day later the mess was cleaned up. I had a similar experience when I placed an earlier request for grass cutting in a park near my house, though a request for a trash can near the Metro stop is still pending. On the down side, I sent a constituent's request to Phil Mendelson two weeks ago but, to date, have not even had an acknowledgment of its receipt. That surprises me more than the rapid turnaround at DPW.

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Good News at the DMV
Anna Marie Wrin, awrin@grains.org

Ernest changed his license and got the permit parking sticker this morning ... all in about 20 minutes! And I thought there was no such thing as a miracle.

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t-ball
Sheila McCormick smac31@aol.com

A comment by a friend made me wonder of there are any youth baseball leagues in Washington, DC. Specifically, any t-ball teams. I have never seen kids playing baseball in the District. Have they all switched to soccer or am I just not looking at the right parks? I am really just curious. Any information on this would be welcome.

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DC in 2010: Essay Contest for High Schoolers
Job L Dittberner, Jobotto@hotmail.com

“Washington DC in 2010” is the theme of an essay contest for high schoolers in the DC metropolitan area being organized by the National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital (NARPAC). The purpose is to get young people — and their parents — thinking about the kind of city, regional hub, and national capital DC can and should become in the coming decade. We are ready to launch the contest in September with a January 31 deadline. There will be cash prizes, presentation of awards by a metro leader, and (hopefully) media events. We would like to increase the value and number of prizes for the winners and are looking for co-sponsors, partners, and/or donors to supplement the cash awards NARPAC can afford to offer and to cover some organizational expenses as well. If any of you readers of themail have ideas and suggestions, please contact me at the above email address. Thanks in advance.

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CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING

For Rent, Brookland/CUA area
Lisa Jokes, LBJokes@aol.com

English basement apartment available in July — $500, utilities included. One bedroom, kitchen, living room, full bath. Private front/back entrance. Near Catholic University, Trinity College, and Children's Hospital. Access to cross-town buses and Brookland Metro. Contact Lisa LBJokes@aol.com

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