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July 25, 1999

Dog Days

Dear Swelterers:

Let me bring up again a topic that didn't get much response from the last issue — at least not directly to themail. Victor Chudowsky, , wrote opposing Carol Schwartz's proposed bill to ban pit bulls in the District. This bill is posted at . Not that I ever press my own opinion here, but it's obvious that breed bans and the Schwartz bill are viciously stupid; no one and no organization that knows anything about dogs supports breed bans. We've gone through this exercise many times before: when a particular breed becomes fashionable with people who want attack dogs, a number of dogs in that breed are trained to attack, and the whole breed gets stereotyped as attack dogs. Then legislators buy into the stereotype, ignore animal experts, and get the ridiculous idea that they can stop dogs from being trained to attack by banning a particular breed of dogs. In this century, legislatures have gone through fads of mandating the mass slaughter of German shepherds and Dobermans, which are now considered good family pets, and in no way inherently, genetically bad and dangerous. About three years ago, the City Council passed legislation banning Rottweilers, but the Control Board vetoed the legislation on fiscal grounds. Now it's pit bulls' turn to be the victims, first of bad owners and trainers and second of bad politicians.

Not that I ever press my own opinion here.

Gary Imhoff


Shame on Stephanie
Erik Wemple,

Shame on Stephanie Mencimer for hammering themail's commentators for allegedly “blowbagging” on a civic-minded news board. This from the woman who wrote 5,000 words on her own dog and this week is hogging all kinds of column inches in the City Paper with a discussion of the social value of wig shops. Please.

One other comment: Jonetta Rose Barras is a marvelously provocative journalist, but she steps over the line into irrationality when she faults the cops for, well, enforcing the law. The double-parking situation in Adams Morgan and other violations — like parking way too close to intersections, thereby reducing visibility — are bona fide public safety problems. The scene around Columbia and 18th is so chaotic that it's only a matter of time before a pedestrian gets killed. D.C.ers have been pleading with the cops for decades to enforce the law; now that they're doing it, we have to kvetch about it.

[For those who don't know why this message is so funny, let me introduce Erik. He is also known as City Paper's “Loose Lips” and as the still relatively newlywed husband of Stephanie Mencimer. For Erik, a little advice: flowers. Candy. Groveling apologies. “I'm sorry, dear. I was completely wrong. I have no idea why I thought it was funny. Obviously, it isn't.” Maybe a little jewelry. — Gary Imhoff]


A Raise for Arlene Ackerman?
Andrea Carlson,

If the control board wants the city to continue to hemorrhage middle class families, then it ought to extend DC Public School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's contract for as long as she likes. If the Control Board wants to perpetuate the city's habit of rewarding poor performers, it ought to grant Ms. Ackerman the $20,000 salary increase she has requested. Have the schools improved under her stewardship? No. Is this a good reason to extend her contract and give her a raise? Let's hope the Control Board doesn't think so.


Arlene Ackerman's Contract
Michele Rhodes,

Is it really true that Ackerman is going to rework her contract such that she not only makes more money but despite a reauthorized School Board, will remain unaccountable? This is outrageous. I will be sorely disappointed (although not surprised) if the Control Board extends her contract and allows her protection from a illegitimately disenchanted elected School Board. As the parent of a Hearst Elementary School student, I have watched her mishandle a very difficult and ultimately devastating situation at an elementary school that has enjoyed great success. She actively discourages parent involvement and feels that fear tactics are synonymous with better test scores (See “A Tempest at Hearst Elementary,” Washington Post, June 24). Could the Control Board please bow out gracefully and allow the elected bodies to do their jobs as they see fit?


Ed T. Barron,

Our school superintendent, Arlene Ackerman, has just won the chutzpah award of the month. With no significant achievements to post since her hiring, Ms. Ackerman now wants a job security commitment from the District. And to top that off she also wants a raise in pay. Now that's chutzpah (it's also a five letter word beginning with “b”).

The desire for a job security clause in her contract stems from her fear that her lack of performance, to date, may result in losing her job when her contract expires. The plea for a raise is obviously generated by the recent windfall of dollars dropped by Montgomery County on their new school chief. You can't have it both ways, Ms. Ackerman. If you want job security you have to forego the raise. In my own opinion, Ms. Ackerman has not yet earned the right for either the job security clause or the raise.


Crime at 16th Street and Meridian Hill Park
Annie McCormick,

I don't want to take up any space from important issues such as trash cans, cell phone towers, capital punishment and editing “blowbaggers” letters, but does anyone know whom to contact regarding crime around 16 & U Streets? Yes, I know — there is a police station less than two blocks away at 16 and V Streets. Many police come up that street, and on V Street, where there is also evidence of car vandalism, but apparently they are in too much of a hurry to get back to the station. I live right below Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park (16th and W Streets, NW) and for the past four years there has been incessant vandalism of cars. The method is always the same: break the window on the sidewalk side of the car, rip out the radio and the ashtray (most people use it for change), take anything that is in the car (including checkbooks — 2½ years and someone is STILL trying to pass checks on my brother's long canceled account), clothing, address books, toss cassette tapes out onto the street. I've had three friends “hit” while visiting me and one friend will not visit me any longer! The evidence is always clear, and very fresh: new piles of window glass in regular intervals. And nothing is done. Calls to the police department on 16 and V Streets every now and again for the past four years have only gotten me the run around. Any ideas? Any contacts? Anyone care?


Response to Bryce Suderow
Claiborne Porter,

I admire Mr. Suderow for his care and concern for the District. However, I have three things to say in response to his E-mail. First, if the “middle class” residents were abiding by the law they would not be getting tickets. Second, be happy there is a presence of police in your neighborhood. As a long time resident of Adams-Morgan, I am used to no police. Maybe the primary objective of the Mobile Task Force is to fight violent crime but the secondary objective is to enforce municipal rules and regulations. Finally, the rhetoric of “100% criminal tolerance” is just the kind of speech that undermines the credibility of people who fight for the District.


Down for the Count
Larry Seftor,

First thanks for Mark Jenkins for his report on plans for a “revival” of cinema in the city. It is good to hear about potential new screens for the future. But it is also important to understand the reality of today so as not to succumb to the DC malady of “happy thought” as our city declines. In my brief life in DC I have seen the demise of: (1) the Fine Arts, (2) the Cerberus, (3) the Biograph, (4) the Key, (5) the Embassy, (6) the Jennifer, (7) the Paris, (8) the Inner Circle, (9) the MacArthur, and (10) the theater at the locations of Babes on Wisconsin avenue, the name of which I cannot remember (and for which I'd appreciate an E-mail reminder). Counting facilities rather than screens, we have lost about half our movie capacity. Not losing sight of this reality is important as we citizens try to influence developers as they design the Washington of tomorrow. Four new cinemas, regardless of the number of screens they enclose, does not make up for the loss to our neighborhoods of these facilities.


For Whatever It's Worth
Kevin McCarron,

[To Len Sullivan, in response to his message “For Whatever It's Worth”]: I found your analysis of outside income for Mr. Brazil, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Chavous to be quite informative. However, I wish you would expand your analysis somewhat: What were Mr. Sam Manuel (of the Socialist Workers' Party, I believe) and Mr. John Gloster (of the D.C. Statehood Party) doing for outside income? Of course, we can already guess beforehand. However, your failure to have asked helped to fortify the perception that candidates with big incomes and big war chests are “serious” candidates. Moreover, you helped to support the idea that anyone not running as a member of the Democratic/Republican Party is not someone to be taken seriously. Too bad; you could have provided a veritable public service if you had helped to teach the public that the candidates who don't take corporate donations are the only candidates we should be considering for office.


Suing Telemarketers
Austin Kelly,

David F. Power offered some valuable links on the subject of suing telemarketers. But I think his post may have been a little misleading when he said that the $500 penalty applies after you've told a telemarketer to place you on his do-not-call list. That's one way that the penalty can apply, but not the only way. Junk faxes are illegal from the get-go, you don't have to join a list. Calls beginning with automated voices are prohibited, calls outside of certain hours, etc., etc. There are a lot of ways to get intrusive marketers — ignoring do-not-call lists is just one of them.


Cell Phone Towers
Bill Starrels, Georgetown,

As a twenty year resident of Washington, it is no surprise that the anti-cell phone tower people are falling over each other in their opposition to cell phone towers in the park. Did any one of these vocal opponents happen to see the proposed site at Carton Barron last year? My son plays soccer there. It was set up next to an existing light tower between the tennis stadium and the parking lot. Yes, this is park of Rock Creek Park. What was wrong with this tower? Was it conflicting with the aesthetics of the parking lot or the tennis court that bothered people? My only question is would the tower serve those of us who do not use Bell Atlantic for cell phone service. Cell phones are a part of life and we all need to find compromises.


DC Cablevision, Digital Channels and Their Use — Help?
Harold Goldstein,

Because the Tour de France was more reliably on ESPN2 than ESPN I decided to spring for the new digital cable channels. That required a wait of two weeks for them to come out and install a new nifty box. This does have enhanced functionality for watching TV and knowing things that are on but, to my amazement, you lose the ability to program your VCR to record any program other than what you are watching or to program it to tape future programs on more than one channel!

I would love it for someone to inform me otherwise but to record with this new box both the TV and the VCR must be set to channel 3. Then the VCR can record the channel the box is tuned to or be programmed to record from it if you remember to leave the box on and tuned correctly and turn the VCR off. If you program the VCR to record anything else it switches to that station and WONT RECORD from the digital box! Can someone tell me otherwise? Oh, twice since I got this service I turn on ESPN2 and get a “unauthorized channel” message ... so I have to call them and they turn it back on.


Cable TV Stuff
Mark Richards,

The Association of DC Condominium Boards (ADCCB) provided some information about Starpower in their July 15th newsletter. Marc Thompson, President, suggested contacting Troy Ward at Starpower (301) 531-2913, and Thompson is interested in any new info (202) 289-6272. He said The Richmond, The Farnsboro, and the Parker House are currently using Starpower. Ward evidently promised that “you'll save up to 30% over Starpower competitors.” Our condo board received a proposal from them, but the amount of time we were required to sign on for was extremely long. Our board is uncomfortable with that and has set up an internal team to investigate various alternatives. Although their prices are way too high, I appreciate that District Cablevision carries local channels and has been kind when I called.


District Cablevision
Fitzroy K Francis,

In the past few weeks, District Cablevision has been the topic of several postings. With each posting, we have resolved or are working on resolution of topics that were posted. If you or any of your associates have questions or concerns regarding any of our cable products/services please contact us via any of the following avenues. Call Center: 202-635-5100 Billing, 202-635-5101 Sales, 202-635-5102 Service, 202-635-5110 En espanol; E-mail for customer relations: ; , , . It is my objective to delight each customer with stellar customer service. So please continue to let us know how well we are doing.


Shorts for Mencimer
Mark Richards, East Dupont,

Imaginary headline: “Cell Towers Unite Region.”
Bumper sticker: “Congress plays, DC pays.”
Banning pit bulls in DC: A symbolic act, about Congress/DC relationship.
Saving your pit bull: Write-in a grandfather clause for life.
District Cablevision: It's worth it, just to see the school board soap.
School board: No wonder Mohammed can't spell. We elected pit bulls.
Banning the school board: A symbolic act against pit bulls.


Let the Prose Blossom!
Bob Kulawiec,

R.J. Fox asks to hear from “the lurkers” regarding length of submissions to themail. OK, I guess I qualify as a lurker (this being my first post to the current incarnation of Jeff's cool e-rag). With all due respect to my dear friend Steph “Prose Razor” Faul, I don't mind the long-winded missives — if the item doesn't interest me (as is the case with much of what turns up, actually), then I simply use this nifty little “scroll own” button on the side of my screen, and a mere second or two later, I'm on to the next article. The big advantage of allowing longer posts is that sometimes they carry important information that's hard to distill down to a pithy 250 words or less. For an excellent example, consider David F. Power's piece on legal remedies for persistent telemarketers. Could he have imparted that information (which I think is clearly worthy of inclusion in themail) given the space limitations some suggest? (FYI — the post was 667 word long.) Of course, there must be some reasonable limit (we don't want War and Peace in themail, do we?), but I think we can trust Gary to be reasonable.


Shorter Better
Jeffrey Hops,

I would recommend limiting submissions to 100 words or so (i.e., two decent size paragraphs). Ask people to begin a dialogue with the author if they wish to know or discuss more.



“Nonprofit Day” Events at One World Media Center
Phil Shapiro,

One World Media Center, a new nonprofit video and multimedia training center in Adams Morgan, will be holding two “Nonprofit Day” events to create free public service video announcements for DC-area nonprofit organizations. The events will take place from 10 am to 10 pm on 8/14/99 and 9/25/99. If you'd like your organization to sign up for a time-slot, please be in contact with Phil Shapiro at: , (202) 686-5465 (E-mail preferred). One World is located at 2390 Champlain St. NW, Wash. DC, 20009, part of the Washington City Paper building but with a separate street level entrance.



Toyota and More
Tzipora Sofare,

1995 Toyota Corolla DX, 4-dr, 5-spd, all pwr, 33,000 miles, excellent condition: $10,000. Kenwood KRC1005 automobile AM/FM Cassette: $70; nice wooden coffee table: $60; Minolta X6-M 35mm camera, $50; Kiron lens: 28-85mm: $50; Minolta 200x auto flash: $40. Tzipora Sofare: 202-362-4433, ext. 121.


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