You have summoned up some good spirits for this issue, with interesting
messages from here and beyond. Read and enjoy.
James E. Taylor, Jr., Park Skyland Civic Association, firstname.lastname@example.org
Assessments of the Mayor and his first six months in office [in the last
issue of themail, http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/1999/99-06-23.htm
] were right on target. I would also like to point out that the Mayor's obvious political
naiveté about what actually could be accomplished in his first six months in office, is
perhaps one of many reasons for his not meeting promised goals, despite his sincere
desire. His tenure and authority as Chief Financial Officer, with total control and
authority to move and shake up things, likely gave him a noble but false impression that
as Mayor he could be as effective. He, hopefully, is now beginning to learn the
The other subtle but important factor the Mayor and his advisors
overlooked, as Mayor Kelly did, was the workforce in place to do the job. Not considered
was the depth and strong entrenchment of unqualified and uncaring middle management
employees of the District Government. This workforce system was and is embedded with
malaise, bad attitudes, lack of protocol, motivation, and qualifications, initiated, over
a number of years, by former Mayor Marion Barry to build his political support that even
Mayor Kelly, with her election voter mandate, could not overcome. The only personnel group
she was able to sweep out were the Washington Redskins.
Perhaps Mayor Williams is just beginning to learn politics 101, and maybe,
I hope, his unrealistic expectations are over and he will listen, and discuss issues with
us, before speaking out. My admitted political naiveté questions the mayor's propensity
to bring outside talent as managers to run agencies they know nothing about. To this
writer it is obvious that there is an over abundance of talent in this city who could fill
these jobs, and be up and running with his policies a lot faster than people who are
dedicated to the salaries and not the city which they call home. Why?
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
D.C. Police flood streets.... That's today's headline as the
city tries to staunch the flow of blood in the streets with yet another Band-Aid
(tourniquet?). The city only knows how to respond to symptoms by fighting brush fires.
When will we see some real efforts to make the city better? Instead of treating these
symptoms of real problems, instead of cosmetic changes in the District's and the DCPS'
processes, when will we see real top level plans for the District and for the DCPS? If
such plans exist they are certainly well hidden from the residents and from parents of
school age children.
Any plan is better than no plan. If real progress is to be made in solving
the City's problems, it will take a coordinated effort and a top level plan involving the
D.C. Government, the business community, and the citizens of the city to make that plan
happen. The same is true for the very poor performance of the DCPS in providing a
practical and viable educational program for the kids in the city. Show us a plan, Mr.
Williams. Show us a plan, Ms. Ackerman. Then we can stop the bleeding in the streets. Then
we can get down to the real business of educating inner city kids.
Norton: Get Off My Back and Get Out of My
Ms. Dorothy Persiflage, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Persiflage would dearly like to say that she is amused by the nonsense
she has been reading in themail and elsewhere concerning the continued denial of second
amendment rights to the residents of D.C., but alas, she is not. She is actually quite
outraged at Delegate Norton's ludicrous and extraordinarily arrogant retort to
Representative Goode's generous and common-sense effort to restore Ms. Persiflage's
legitimate second amendment rights, and ability to defend one's person and property. Ms. P
observes that the Founding Fathers were not graduates of D.C. public schools, and were
actually (bless their hearts) able to read and write, in English, with acceptable
precision. Because of that, they tended to use phrases such as right of the
People with great care, and used them on rare occasions, such as in the very
important second amendment. Ms. Persiflage knows that had they intended to secure the
right of the states to raise militias, they would have written that quite clearly.
Instead, they put that "right of the People" squarely into the Bill of Rights
designed to protect "the People" from the State, and serving in a very
practical sense as the sine quo non for ratification.
Ms. Persiflage is, of course, under no delusions that she will change the
minds of those who think that the answer to violence in our society is to abrogate the
second amendment and ban gun ownership, but she at least wanted to go on record in this
modest space to assert her strong dissent with the views of Del. Norton, and with those
who choose to fool with the Bill of Rights and especially those pesky second and
By the way, those few themail readers who had expressed the view that Ms.
P had some sort of intellectual affinity with George III were not very far astray, she is
pleased to report. This Spring Ms. P had many wonderful opportunities to join some other
ladies (including the First) for tea, cucumber sandwiches, and a spot or two of sherry in
the Solarium. After several occasions, and as many sherries (Ms. P does so adore the bone
dry Manzanillas from Sanlucar de Barrameda!), in which we spoke with Mr. Gandhi and Dear
Eleanor, Ms. Persiflage was asked if there was any spirit in particular with whom she
would like to chat. Of course she immediately identified George III, who, it turned out,
was tickled pink to be called. Time and space will not allow Ms. P here to recount
George's many regrets over the American situation, as he called it; his
disappointment at what he expected to be the wisest, purest, and most progressive
administration of the Eighteenth Century; his disappointments with Pitt; and
especially with the notorious Wilkes affair. On the other hand, his hilarious descriptions
of Wilkes' printing of the libelous parody of Pope's Essay on Man, entitled Essay
on Woman, and Lord Sandwich's scandalous reading of its bawdy parts on the floor of
the House of Lords, struck Ms. P as most thoroughly and eerily modern. Just imagine, after
the Lords had declared the Essay on Woman a most scandalous, impious and
obscene libel, portly Lord Sandwich indulging himself by quoting to the full House,
with histrionic moral indignation, the poem's stark indecencies! Dedicated to
Fanny Murray, a well known daughter of joy and, at the time, a mistress to many of the
politically well connected some present in the House of Lords during Sandwich's
reading the piquancy of the situation must have been positively breathtaking!
Readers of themail will be interested, Ms. P hopes, in learning that she
did not let HRH get away without a question about his views on banning guns in the
District. He was quite clear that he thought guns should be banned not only in Washington,
but in all of America. He simply expressed regret that it had not been done much sooner.
A tout ta'.... Do
May I Ask Your Opinion?
Mark Richards, Woodley Park, email@example.com
The Washington Post periodically sponsors a poll of DC residents
in which they ask, Do you favor or oppose the District of Columbia becoming a
separate state? (It has usually been asked after a series of questions, such as the
quality of DC services.) I have partial data from 1993 and 1998. The data show that there
is a big difference of opinion between African-Americans/blacks and Euro-Americans/whites
on this question. In 1993, 58% of blacks supported statehood, compared to 39% of whites.
In 1998, 57% of blacks supported statehood, compared to 39% of whites. As far as I know, The
Post has not asked the follow-up question Why? If I had an extra $15,000,
I would conduct a survey to examine this statistically. In the meantime, would anyone like
to answer the question of why they personally support or oppose statehood? If opposed,
what would you prefer the status quo, an Amendment, Retrocession, or don't really
care one way or the other? Also, any speculation on why our black and white residents
disagree on this issue? If you're shy and don't want to post your thoughts, feel free to
send them to me directly. Thanks, Mark
Ed Barron needs to do some homework. Despite his skepticism about
educators, the fact is that Success for All is already being implemented in
perhaps a dozen DC public schools with strong early impacts on reading scores. It's
also used in the Edison-Friendship public charter schools, and as Jay Mathews' recent Post
piece indicated, getting impressive results there, too. It is difficult getting 80% of any
school's faculty to agree on a new approach to teaching and learning. But decades of
research tell us that schools with a mission tend to succeed. One reason for the
impressive record of Success for All around the country is that the program
requires serious buy-in by schools that adopt it.
One Brick at a Time
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
For those of you who have watched the bricks being replaced at the AU Law
School building Massachusetts Avenue and 48th Street, a task that has been performed
several times over the last few years, here's what has happened. The building was poorly
designed to begin with (in addition to being the ugliest landmark in upper NW D.C.) and
keeps water out the same way a peach basket keeps water in. The worst leaks occur at the
tops of the windows where a poorly designed flashing system allows water to get through to
the inside of the building. When AU replaced all of the windows in the building a few
years ago they did not replace the flashing with a new design. Hence, the leaks continue.
As you can see from the color of the new bricks there are many other leaking places other
than the windows. Over the next few years we may see the entire building rebricked, one
brick at a time.
To Sara Cormeny: Please don't apologize for suggesting that laws be
enforced! Parking laws are laws, people, and if DC can make a few bucks while enforcing
the law, that's a good thing. What's more, parking is a quality of life issue. If you
can't find parking near your home, it affects you. If there isn't a steady turnover of
spots at meters, it affects nearby businesses. Now, when laws are enforced incorrectly,
there's cause to complain; but for all the whining, DC seems to be about the same as any
other big city. There are some contradictory parking signs but not many. There are
some cases where tickets are not legit but how many out of the total number
written? I saw, enforce away.
Potholes, New Trash Cans, and DPW
Mark Eckenwiler, email@example.com
Apropos of Joan Eisenstodt's complaint that the apt. building down the
block only got 2 new cans: actually, they shouldn't be getting any, since a 10 unit
building is legally obliged to arrange for private hauling. And as for the notion that
for those who were already bagging the trash in heavy bags, the can doesn't make
that much difference, I'll note that heavy bags are not legal trash
containers (because, among other reasons, they don't put an adequate barrier between rats
and rations). Using the can may make a difference in keeping down our furry chums'
population; it will also keep the inspector from ticketing you if sanitation enforcement
On a different note, Constance Maravell reports a pothole on Van Ness.
These can be reported through the new DPW call center (727-1000), or directly to
pothole/sidewalk repair at 645-7055. (On weekends, your call will be routed to the Mayor's
Command Center, which will pass along the report next business day.) Amazingly, this seems
to produce actual results these days. And if you have a problem that isn't getting
addressed like the hard-to-locate pothole on Observatory Circle/Massacchusetts
Avenue, NW, I reported 5 or 6 times then call 645-7056 and ask for a manager.
DPW responds to email! On June 21 I E-mailed a request to DPW from their
web site ( http://www.publicworks.ci.washington.dc.us/
) asking to have my street cleaned. On June 23, Linda Grant, the public information
officer, sent back the following response. It hasn't been cleaned yet, but they did tell
me they are now manually sweeping those streets that are not on the regular mechanical
The response: I am so glad you made this request because the
Department of Public Works has begun manually sweeping every street in the city; that is
in addition to residential streets with high pedestrian volume that are swept mechanically
on a weekly basis. Please you let me know if your block is in the mechanical sweeping
program. If it is, there are street signs that ask motorists not to park there during
certain hours on one or two days of the week. Also, for your information, the District
government now has a new one telephone number for service program. You may
call 727-1000 for a variety of D.C. government services, including those provided by
Public Works. Operators are available weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The District is
experiencing a serious hot, dry spell (only partially relieved by the recent rain), and
our street trees are suffering. If you get a chance, please give them some water and ask
your neighbors to do the same so the trees can continue providing us with shade.
I suspect that the advertisements Mr. Wellander spotted on utility poles
contribute as much to the city coffers as do the other illegal postings on trees and poles
around town. The city has gotten much better about removing those godawful Day-Glo concert
posters that used to be so prevalent along Georgia Avenue, North Capitol Street and other
commercial strips east of Rock Creek. However, the powers-that-be seem to be much more lax
about the latest plague, namely, those somewhat indestructible Work at Home
signs (they're styrofoam covered with laminated plastic) that are literally bolted to
telephone poles at heights that can only be reached with a ladder. Hello, DPW, how about a
dose of zero tolerance in dealing with folks who think our city is their own personal
More What Are They Thinking?
Gabe Goldberg, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Fleming wrote about the David/Goliath story being distorted and used
to sell sandwiches. Not exactly the same, but a current TV commercial seems in
questionable taste in these times: it seems to show machine gun fire carving a car's
outline from a sheet of metal. With the recent shootings, I'm not sure that gunfire would
be my choice of association with a consumer product. But then, it's my association that's
negative, maybe they ran focus groups showing that others saw it as positive. Like the
line in someone's sig Officer, arrest that man, he's humming a dirty song, we
all have our own inner landscapes.
When I called Odyssey June 24 they reported having no scheduled cruises
without a full meal included in the price. They said that they sometimes do have moonlight
cruises from midnight-2:30 a.m., and those don't serve a meal, but that they have none of
these cruises currently scheduled. Thanks anyway.
Gee, it seems strange to think that DC has no regularly scheduled
reasonably priced Potomac River cruises. I've taken a sightseeing cruise in Baltimore
Harbor for $6.60; I think the boat leaves every 2 hours. By contrast, except for a morning
cruise to Mt. Vernon, it looks like all the Potomac River cruises include a meal and cost
at least 9 or 10 times the Baltimore Harbor cruise. I've never taken a Potomac River
cruise; perhaps there's really not that much to see from the water?
[Two-hour cruises on the Seine in Paris can be had for about $5; a short
cruise down the Thames from the heart of London to Greenwich costs about $10; and in both
cities these cruises run all year. Any yachtsmen interested in starting a business? In the
meantime, have you investigated the river cruises that leave from the docks in Alexandria?
F and G Streets, NW
Ralston Cox, email@example.com
The re-opening of F & G Streets NW is part of a mitigation package on
historic preservation issues made by the proponents of the MCI Arena when that project was
going through various review(s) and approval(s). In exchange for approving the closing a
block of G Street for the construction of the arena, the city agreed to re-open F Street
between 7th & 9th, 8th Street between E Street and F Street, and G Street between 9th
& 10th. If you want some idea of what G Street will look like when it's finished, go
look at F Street if you want details, call the Historic Preservation Division of
DCRA or the folks at DPW.
G Street Mall Questions Answered
Matthew Gilmore, firstname.lastname@example.org
You will find a description of the history and fate of the G Street Mall
on our web site under Washingtoniana at Frequently asked Questions: http://dclibrary.org/washingtoniana/faqs/g-street.html
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
For sale, on Capitol Hill, 7th and Independence SE. Art Deco coffee table.
Blue mirrored glass top, $125.00. White Ikea drop-leaf dining table, 31"x27",
opens to 55", $45.00. Light green Ikea table lamp, 24" high, $12.00. Artist's
display easel, $150.00. Wooden rocker w/carved back, $175.00. Wooden lectern/display for
art books, $100.00. R L Widmann, 202-543-3015.
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