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August 8, 1999

The Boss Is in themail

Dear Monumentalists:

Two messages in this issue refer positively to Boss Shepherd. Either this is a conspiracy or the Boss Shepherd Fan Club has been revived. So, where do we put his statue? Another possible site, in addition to those mentioned below, is the Carnegie Library, which will be renovated as the City Museum to be operated by the Historical Society of DC (see ). Plans for the museum are being formulated right now, so send them your requests now.

Gary Imhoff


Tell Me Again How This Works
Susan Ousley,

Some of you may have heard about the sad state of the Garrison School playground, where equipment, baseball field, blacktop, and lawn have been destroyed or damaged by 400 churchgoers' cars. The church pays $417/month for all day Sundays (what child needs to play on Sundays?) and doesn't pay for other times, but still parks. Now comes David Hudgens, who has personally spent a half million dollars to repave the playground, plant trees (with Rupperts), and install two new sets of play equipment. While, because of school personnel, our initial relationship was rocky, he and neighbors are now working well together. This amazing man, who has donated other DC playgrounds, has now offered to turn the ground on the entire field and seed it before school starts. I bet you think DCPS is jumping at the chance to work with this donor, right? You fail DCPS Logic 101. They're insisting that the revocable lease — always illegal under DCPS's own rules and secretly extended when parents objected — runs through August 31. Not amazed yet? Despite Councilman Graham's success in locating ample alternative parking and School Board Member Westy Byrd's valiant efforts to focus on the children's needs, DCPS is trying to renew the lease with the church for another year. Guess that's how DC gets to be rated dead last in places for children. If you're as appalled as we are, please contact Superintendent Ackerman or anyone else you think can help us save what little green play space there could be in our community.

[Garrison School's playground is bounded by R and S Streets and Vermont Avenue; the church with the parking lease is Metropolitan Baptist Church, run by H. Beecher Hicks, who is politically powerful and influential (close to Marion Barry, and a Friend of Bill). — Gary Imhoff]


Uncertified Teachers
Gloria White,

Certification of teachers does NOT provide assurance that teachers can teach. Oh, I wish it did! There are many teachers in D.C. (and I'm sure any school system) who are properly education, qualified and certified and are terrible teachers. While I understand that having teachers certified may offer some feeling of confidence that they can do the job, it's just not true too often. I think that more important than any certification is a teacher's desire to teach and love of children and their subject and the requirement of certification sometimes prevents people who would be excellent teachers from teaching in the public schools. Some of the best math teachers I have ever seen were not trained as math teachers and some of the best teachers I have ever seen were not trained as teachers. A few years back a friend of mine began seriously looking into to going into teaching after many successful years working in another field. This man would have been a fabulous teacher. He wanted to do it, he had a master's degree in economics, and he loved children. After researching the possibilities, he decided that he couldn't afford to go back to teaching because he was going to have to go back to school to get “education” hours. What a loss! And to Mr. Porter's statement that public schools cannot pay the high salaries that private schools pay — private schools generally pay significantly less than public schools. Granted, it is probably easier to teach in the private schools for any number of reasons, but these teachers teach because they love to teach and they love children. One of the best teachers at my children's school is a lawyer. I'm pretty sure she is not “certified.” She went to law school and then decided that she really preferred teaching. I don't know what the answer is, especially in these days of severe teacher shortages, but certification, unfortunately, does not meet its promise of providing a qualified, capable teacher.


Scholarships for DC Students
Frank Method,

Congress is in the process of authorizing a scholarship program for DC students which offsets the disadvantages of not having an array of public institutions to choose from. It provides up to $10,000 per year for students in public institutions in Maryland and Virginia to reduce the costs to approximately that of in-state tuition. This is good policy, and a welcome incentive toward keeping families with college bound kids resident in the District. However, the parallel grant of up to $2,500 per year to students registering in private colleges is so restrictive (only the neighboring counties, plus Fairfax) that it effectively is a subsidy of DC-based private colleges and universities and a disincentive to those who may be attracted to private colleges outside DC. These DC institutions have made only token efforts toward giving the graduates of DC schools a financial break and/or toward being good neighbors to the communities in which they reside.

Of the sixteen private colleges and universities in Maryland, only two are eligible for the scholarship assistance — the two-year Washington Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham and the two-year Maryland College of Art and Design in Silver Spring . It is unclear what will be the status of DC-based branches of schools such as Johns Hopkins with home campuses outside the authorized counties.

In Virginia, Arlington has the University of Management and Technology (UMT) which is mainly for mid-career professionals and Marymount University with combined undergraduate and graduate program of about 4,000. Fairfax has Virginia International University -- offering English, computer and business certificate courses, college entrance exam preparation courses, and undergraduate programs in business, . That's it, folks! Notice the lack of historically black and other minority-serving institutions in this mix (other than Howard and the to-be-designated UDC).


Let’s Join Together (A “Tongue in Cheek” Suggestion)
Larry Seftor,

When I lived in Northern Virginia a constant source of aggravation was our treatment by the rest of Virginia. We sent a lot of tax money “down state” to the state government but only part of what we sent was returned to us. Today, the lack of understanding of Northern Virginia problems and needs is manifest most clearly in the lack of state response to horrible traffic problems now plaguing these Virginia suburbs. In a similar, but less critical problem, the Maryland state government is subjecting Montgomery and P.G. counties to water restrictions, despite the fact that these counties do not really have a crisis (due to backup facilities built for just such a lack of rainfall). Apparently the Maryland Governor feels that it is only fair that the pain be felt by all. In light of these and similar problems experienced by our suburban neighbors I have a radical suggestion. Join us. Instead of carving off part of DC to join Maryland, carve off the Maryland and Virginia suburbs to join DC!

The serious message behind this flippant suggestion is that our suburban neighbors are more Washingtonians than members of their respective states. It is too bad the jurisdictional issues exacerbate the serious problems that we should be working together to solve.


A Proud Moment in the Fight for DC Equality
Mark Richards, East Dupont,

I was happy to learn that Council members Carol Schwartz and David Catania, in not attending Rep. Istook's fundraiser, used the opportunity to make a clear and concise public statement to members of their national Party about the injustice: “[I]n light of yesterday's House-Senate Conference Committee decisions to trample on the District's democratic rights in the FY2000 Appropriations bill, we have decided not to attend. As Republicans, who believe in local government, we reject the efforts of certain members of our Party to impose their narrow parochial views on the citizens of the District of Columbia. We are hopeful that our Party will again return to its philosophy of respecting local rule rather than an overly intrusive federal government.” This type of action, demonstrating integrity and loyalty, advances the cause of equality for DC citizens.

There is precedent in DC for progressive Republicans. After the Civil War, the Radical Republicans were champions for equality. Alan Lessoff in “The Nation and Its City” points out that the founders of the Republican party in the 1850s believed the increase of liberty and the pursuit of national and personal wealth could be complementary goals. Locally, a biracial coalition elected Sayles J. Bowan, who ran against City Hall on the slogan “A vote for Bowan is a vote to keep the capital in Washington.” He promised to reform the city's contracting system and improve city services — which won wealthy and business support, and to work for social and political equality — which won African-American and working class support. However, when the national Party failed to provide assistance for public works, his coalition fell apart. Alexander “Boss” Shepherd’s “Improver Republicans,” who wanted to make DC an innovator in public services, utilities, and sanitation, took power when the cities and county were merged into a Territorial government. And, while they did improve roads and services, they created a huge debt, providing an excuse to DC white elites and Congress to take away all DC self-government for the next 100 years — until Civil Rights leaders, including Marion Barry, focused on Home Rule in the FREE DC movement.


A Strange Apparition
Ms. Dorothy Persiflage,

Ms. Persiflage would like to report a most curious event. The other day, while escaping from the heat and having chorizo and manzanilla up in the solarium, Dear Eleanor suggested that we summon past Presidents who had experienced professional and personal ... difficulties. Hillary thought this was a capital idea, and soon we were hearing from the likes of Mr. Johnson, who was quite angry about his impeachment (although he no longer felt so lonely about it), and from Mr. Grant, who seemed uncharacteristically wistful. With proper coaxing from Ms. P, he revealed that he longed for the evenings often spent, after interminable work at the White House, smoking cigars in the Willard Hotel's main bar, and trading stories with his most excellent friend, Alexander Robey Shepherd, a.k.a. “Boss” Shepherd. One of the more politically correct among us blurted out that cigars were simply horrible, dreadful things (Ms. P is unclear on this point, but it might have been the First Lady); were no longer allowed at the bar, thank goodness; and probably caused Mr. Grant's own throat cancer, all as if to say “so there!” Ms. Persiflage responded to this breach of ethereal etiquette with the quiet observation that some women do not hold their sherry very well, thank you very much.

Gallantly, Mr. Grant brushed all of this off, and mumbled something about the "Boss" getting a bum rap. This caught Ms. P's immediate attention, and, seeing an opportunity to satisfy Mr. Imhoff's strong preference for local news, events, and issues, she suggested that the ladies summon Mr. Shepherd, if he were at all available. Being buried but a stone's throw away in Rock Creek Cemetery, and not otherwise occupied, he appeared almost instantly, and seemed very pleased to have the opportunity to express his views and make his case.

Ms. Persiflage is pleased to report that she was very impressed with Mr. Shepherd, and learned a great deal about what good things he had done for the District: how he leveled and graded the city, how in the 1870s, as the last Governor of the Territory of Washington, he planted all those tall trees that still beautify our city (Ms. P is especially fond of the ones along New Hampshire Avenue, northeast of Dupont Circle), and how he did so many other great things for Washington that all of that silly talk about moving the capital to St. Louis finally ended. He was, however, extremely hurt that the city, under Mayor Pothole in 1979, had his wonderful statue removed from its place of honor on Pennsylvania Avenue near the District Building, and unceremoniously "dumped" at the Blue Plains sewage facility. He seemed to view this as an unwarranted, egregious insult, and a possible case of “reverse” racism. In his own defense, he yielded some of his apparition time to a Mr. Theodore W. Noyes, who dramatically re-enacted his address at the unveiling of the statue on May 3, 1909. The essence of Mr. Noyes' ringing defense: “Our 'Boss' Shepherd is peculiar among modern bosses in that the motive of his bossship was not mercenary self-seeking, but public spirit, civic pride, the wholesome ambition to promote the welfare of his native city.” It was quite a speech, the full text of which Ms. Persiflage can highly recommend (it's available in the Washingtoniana section of the Martin Luther King Library on 9th Street, N.W.).

Ms. Persiflage, being a subscriber to themail and therefore of course knowing an injustice when she sees one, assured Mr. Shepherd that she would take his case to the Internet, and try to rally support for the expeditious return of his statue to a position of honor in the city's center. She feels that the site of his old Board of Public Works might be suitable, as would a good location on Constitution Avenue, which, until his energetic personal intervention, was a mere dirt footpath our local forebears risibly referred to as “B Street,” next to a stinking canal and open sewer they referred to in a similar manner as the “Tiber.” This injustice concerning Mr. Shepherd's statue needs to be made aright, and Ms. P dearly hopes that some of themail readers will lend their tangible support to this cause. Merci.

Comme toujours, a tout ta' .......... Do

P.S. The White House San Lucar Spanish manzanilla was excellent; Ms. P cannot recommend the Arkansas chorizo.


Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head
Ed T. Barron,

Over two inches of rain have fallen in three days of monsoon like weather, briefly, each afternoon of the last three days here in Ithaca, NY. For those of you who have forgotten what rain feels like, it feels nice, it smells nice, it makes everything very green here. I promise never to complain again when it rains. My only two complaints are that the rain here has slowed down the progress of work in framing out my daughter's new house and one of these squalls caught us out in my small sailboat on Cayuga Lake. We were knocked down (twice). Rescue was in the form of a big power boat with a friendly crew that towed us back to the ramp where we had launched earlier that afternoon minus a few small items (hat and sunglasses). Will try to wish this lovely rain down to where it is desperately needed in the Washington area.

As I sit in Quasimodo's bell tower, the only finished room of the house I am helping to build, and which overlooks a completely empty and open foundation awaiting framing (will start this tomorrow), I have time, on this rainy Sunday, to contemplate what should be done with surpluses that our Governments will realize. The surplus that D.C. predicts is a small mirror image of what the Federal Government will realize (300 trillion dollars is a lot of moola). As most D.C. residents, who are being heavily overtaxed for the services that the District provides, I feel that a tax cut is in order. And yet, if the money we pay in taxes were being spent more efficiently and effectively, the District would be providing far better and far more comprehensive services to those who need the services. In that case I would not ask for any tax cuts.

Paying off all the District's long term debt might seem like a great idea to some since interest does consume a large portion of the budget. But debt is not all bad if the money borrowed is really being used properly. What is really missing is, first and foremost, the evolution of the District government from a plantation mentality to one of a business oriented mentality and model with all the attendant accountability and planning. Once the District government is working efficiently we should then examine how best to use our tax dollars. And to figure that out I would hope that our leaders engage and involve the taxpayers in a meaningful dialogue to determine how best to invest our tax dollars in the years to come.


Speed Bumps, Parking Lots, Access Roads, Oh My…
Jeffrey Itell,

I now work in Tysons Corner, a leisurely 15-minute walk from the entrance to I-66 (where I get no kicks). I could return home by traveling east on Leesburg Pike … and I could consume an entire tank of gasoline if the process. Instead, I take the access road though the library parking lot, jump three speed bumps on a curvy road filled with pedestrians, traverse an ill-designed parking lot (with a choice of three equally dangerous routes for cars and shoppers), head downhill on another access road, competing for gravely turf with kids on wheels, and, finally, make a quasi-legal right turn onto a side road to anticipate a green light that will empty me onto the parking lot otherwise known as I-66.

I have better luck parking in Adams-Morgan on Saturday nights. The congestion, the danger, the traffic, the crime … why would anyone want to live in the suburbs?


In Search of the Best Gelato
Jon Katz,

Please tell me the name and location of your favorite gelato place in the Washington area. They don't seem to be easy to find. Grazie.


Guitar Lessons, Please
David Colvin,

I saw on the message board that someone was looking for beginner guitar lessons. I too am interested in this. Any help out there?


Public Housing Progress Addressed in August Edition of NARPAC Web Site
Len Sullivan,

The National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital has revised its web site (See “What's New?” at ) with new headline summaries and new correspondence to Delegate Norton urging better long-range planning for DC's economic development. There is a major update concerning progress in public housing and public works. The eight topical tables of potential long-range solutions to DC's problems are revised, and new material added concerning DC governance.

NARPAC has established a “Hats Off” Award to recognize persons making the biggest tangible difference to restoring pride in America's capital city. The first recipient, DCHA Receiver David Gilmore, is also the subject of this month's editorial entitled “One Man Makes a Real Difference.” It argues the fundamental importance of blight removal throughout DC, and Gilmore's key role in starting this process. The award will be presented on Wednesday morning, August 11th, at 10:00 am at DCHA headquarters.



What Now with D.C.P.S.?
Philip (Father of Hattie) Blair, Jr.,

A motley, no-name group of parents and taxpayers has put together a City-Wide Public Forum on the Governance of D.C. Public Schools. It will be held on Thursday, August 19, 1999, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., at the U.D.C. Auditorium (Building 46) on the U.D.C. campus at the Van Ness station on the Red Line. Moderator will be Dr. Mary Futrell; the list of co-sponsors is growing and already includes Advocates for the Public Schools, D.C. — PACE, Parents United, and the 21st Century School Fund.

Y'all come. All y'all come. Public officials — elected and appointed — are invited to listen. Everyone else is invited to listen and to speak. Speakers are asked to limit their remarks to three minutes, but to submit any amount of written material for possible inclusion in a 20-page printed summary. The organizers want the whole range of public opinion on how to run DCPS to be aired; we especially welcome concrete proposals for implementation. We do not want to hear campaign speeches, self promotion, personal attacks, or reports on leaking toilets in particular schools (all of which is good stuff, but we'll save it for another time.) Pre-register (for inclusion in the printed program) by 16 August at the E-mail address above or by calling 526-8821.


Investigating Where We Live
Mike Hill,

You are cordially invited to the opening of the 1999 Investigating Where We Live exhibit, Thursday, August 12, 6-8 PM, National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW. Please E-mail your RSVP by Tuesday am, August 10, or call me at 202-272-2448, x-3301. The exhibit highlights the work of middle and high school students in DC and New York City who this summer have photodocumented the built environment of several Washington and New York neighborhoods. Fourteen youth in DC explored the Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, and Columbia Heights neighborhoods, while ten counterparts in New York focused on Hell's Kitchen South and Hamilton Heights in Harlem. This year, for the first time, the Municipal Art Society of New York partnered with the National Building Museum to offer Investigating Where We Live in NYC. The joint exhibition will travel to NYC after a six-week showing in Washington.

The featured speaker at the opening will be Mt. Pleasant resident, poet, and performance artist Enrique Aviles, author of the one-man show “Chaos Standing.” Several youth from NYC are expected to be present too. Hope you can attend the opening. You will learn something about some fascinating neighborhoods and view the delightful creativity of Washington and New York students.


DC Preservation League Happy Hour
Amanda Ohlke,

Thursday, August 12, 1999, 6:30 p.m., Island Jim's, 901 Monroe St., NE. The first in a series of social events to introduce preservation-minded people to DCPL's ten most endangered places (and one another). Please join the members of DCPL for end-of-the summer fun at Island Jim's, located in historic Brookland, across the street from the Brooks Mansion, one of DCPL's “10 Most Endangered Places.”

Getting there: by Metro, take the red line to Brookland/Catholic University stop (from downtown it's in the direction of Silver Spring/Glenmont), exit right from the station, across the parking lot. Island Jim's is on the far left corner, next door to Colonel Brooks Tavern. By car, take North Capitol to Michigan Avenue (east), turn right on Monroe. Island Jim's is on the right side of Monroe across from the Metro station. Hope to see you there. Info on DCPL and the Most Endangered will be available at Island Jim's.



Used Car Wanted
Russell Cramer,

Recent AU grad seeks reliable, inexpensive, 4-door car/jeep. Kindly E-mail Sabra at this address or call 244-9412.


Older Inkjet or Laser Printers Needed
Rachel Rosenthal,

“Everybody Wins! DC,” the largest nonprofit children's literacy and mentoring organization in the Washington Metropolitan area, is looking for some ink jet or laser printers (older models are fine) for use with our IBM-compatible computers. We are a 501 (c) (3) organization and all donations are tax deductible. We can come pick them up. Thanks in advance.



Editing Instructors
Jerry LeNoir,

Looking for experienced local editors to teach courses in editing. Should be versed in USGPO Style/Chicago Style and some AP Style. If interested, fax resume to Jerry LeNoir, 202/973-1165.


Shoshana Riley,

ITI (Information Technology Industry Council) currently has a job opening for a receptionist. This position will be full time with 37.5 weekly hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and one hour for lunch). Duties include the usual reception duties, telephone answering, receiving visitors, mail opening and sorting, special assignments and knowledge of trade association is probably a plus. Experience in and knowledge of an office environment. Customer service experience is a plus. Experience in handling multiple duties at the same time. Knowledge and experience in telephone answering techniques. Reception experience is a plus. Demonstrated interpersonal and communication skills. Demonstrated reliability, punctuality, and good job attendance record. Please contact Shoshana Riley at 202/626-5723 or E-mail at


Telephone Volunteers Needed
Melissa Dichter,

Prevent Child Abuse of Metropolitan Washington is seeking volunteers to staff the Crisis and Family Stress Hotline, a 24-hour counseling, information, and referral hotline for anyone in crisis and adults under stress. Training provided in counseling and crisis intervention to deal with issues including sexuality, family violence, hunger, depression, parenting and more. Also seeking volunteers to staff the PhoneFriend supportline for latchkey children, for which training is provided in communication and crisis intervention skills. Volunteers must be at least 20 years old for the Crisis Hotline and 16 years old for the PhoneFriend supportline, and must be able to speak English fluently. Next training begins in September; call (202) 223-0020 for more information.


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