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August 11, 1999

In Response

Dear Respondents:

There are few new topics in this issue, but lots of replies, including suggestions for two places to get gelato. Just in time.

Gary Imhoff


Ellen Wilson Dwellings
Kirsten Sherk,

Can anyone comment on the opening of the new neighborhood that replaced the Ellen Wilson dwellings? (On Capitol Hill, bounded by G and I Streets, 6th and7th Streets, SE.) My sister and I were down there taking a nostalgia tour of our childhood haunts, and were thrilled at how beautiful the new blocks were. But it occurred to me that there was some controversy about how many low income families would actually be able to live there, that most of the homes would still go to middle and upper income families. Any word? What's the scoop?


The State of Metro Washington
John Whiteside,

Larry Seftor's suggestion about northern Virginia and the Maryland burbs joining DC is unlikely but not ridiculous. This northern Virginian would be glad to see his home of Arlington joining a new state that included the District, Montgomery, Prince George's, Alexandria, Fairfax, etc. I'd rather have Anthony Williams in charge of my government than Jim Gilmore any day.


Regional Cooperation
Mary Vogel,

With regard to [Larry Seftor's message], I too would like to see more regional cooperation — possibly even a consideration of tax base sharing. On Wednesday, July 28th, The Brookings Institution had an excellent presentation on “The State of Growth in Greater Washington, D.C.” by Myron Orfield with a reactions panel afterwards. Orfield's conclusion is that this region can grow in two distinct ways: the one we are following where most public sector decisions are made by individual counties and the state and federal governments — a path that will leave certain places and people in the region further and further behind and exacerbate traffic congestion and environmental degradation or a “road less traveled” of a high level of regional cooperation.

Contact Rebecca Over at Brookings 202-797-6139 to get a copy of the report “A Region Divided: The State of Growth in Greater Washington, D.C.” and to be put on the list to receive word about future discussions of this topic — which may include tax base sharing. To get further information on tax base sharing, contact Bruce Katz, Director of the Center on Urban & Metropolitan Policy at Brookings 202-797-6139.

[The Orfield report and associated reports by George Grier and by Mark Rubin and Margery Austin Turner are available on-line at — Gary Imhoff]


Bucolic Tyson’s
John Whiteside,

To Jeffrey Itell: Welcome to the lovely world of “reverse” commuting. (Reverse of what?) As a three-year veteran (DC and Arlington to Dulles), I can empathize. You are working in the epicenter of the traffic disaster. Your best friends are now NPR, Books on Tape, your favorite music stored in the glove box, and a cell phone so you can call friends from I-66 to explain that you'll be late.

By the way — it's getting worse. Thanks to unending development, it is now impossible to go anywhere in the vicinity of Reston Town Center at lunchtime — it's easier to park in Dupont Circle on a Saturday. I imagine Tyson's is even worse. And don't be fooled by the annual “We're going to extend Metro!” discussions. It's a regular ritual, but does not lead to action. Ah, the relaxations of suburban life ... nothing like the stress of living in the walkable neighborhoods built for human beings where most of us reside. The only wisdom I can offer from observing this is, “People are crazy.” Especially oustside the Beltway.


DC’s Own Hall of [Fame/Shame]
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

I'm not part of a “Boss” Shepherd fan club, and can even understand why the Pothole King and his gang might have ripped down the statue ... seems to be what groups do when they've been oppressed for long periods and gain power ... the colonials ripped down likenesses of King George and melted them into weapons. Personally, I prefer to keep history intact and let each generation make moral judgments. I think the Boss was used by Congress and local white elites as an excuse to remove local black and working class participation from public decision making. The Boss was probably somewhat corrupt, but had he not plowed forward to improve the rotten road conditions left by Civil War and a slumlord Congress, my neighborhood might look very different ... and we probably would have lost home rule for another excuse (what the Plenary Power gives it can take — debt is always a good in, eh...?). Loss of home rule in DC was the SYMBOLIC national end of “Reconstruction” and beginning of Jim Crow. Home Rule/Mayor Barry was the symbolic end of Jim Crow. Where are we now? Partly up to us and fellow Americans — DC united against neo-Nazis is a good sign. If anybody can find it, bring Shepherd's likeness back, and add our other Executives to a Hall of (you decide) Fame/Shame in the John Wilson building. (And while at it, please add a plaque to our previous City Hall which the feds now occupy and note that DC residents put that sculpture of Lincoln in the front.) DC citizens seem to vacillate between courageous or in-your-face leaders and ones who appease Congress in hopes of bringing home dollars. Thus far, neither type has brought Equal Constitutional Rights.

For a little flavor of the Boss, here's an interview published in the New York World (January 21, 1876): “Now Governor, what about the charges that there was fraud in the contracts for these improvements and in some of the improvements themselves?” “Every such charge is a mistake or a lie. As for me, I have a wife and six babies in the house here. I don't purpose that my children shall ever have to acknowledge their father a thief. In point of fact there was no stealing, in my belief, by anybody. Notwithstanding the reckless charges made, no one accusing me has put his finger on a single specific fraud. For three years all the papers relating to the work in every part of the district passed through my hands. I frequently examined more than one thousand papers a day. Thus I kept myself familiar with every detail. In that way I was able to prevent fraud or theft, and to choke scandals which were not kept alive by sheer falsehood.... I personally overlooked the expenditures for every part of this work. And I pushed the work, too — work which had to be done and which no one else had had the courage to undertake.… In former years, when the railroad tracks ran right across Pennsylvania avenue in front of the iron fence which surrounded the old Capitol Park, I had seen the approach to the Capitol blockaded repeatedly by cattle trains, so that carriages full of people in waiting occupied a whole square. So, one night, I organized a gang of men and tore up the track. I did that without authority of law, but it was the right thing to do, and the nuisance would not otherwise have been removed. With similar disregard of red tape I did away with the wretched old market building which stood in the centre of what is now Mount Vernon square, at the junction of Seventh Street and Massachusetts Avenue.… The damned old shed was so hideous that it had to come down, and I so notified the proper authorities. They immediately engaged counsel and arranged for an injunction the next day. I heard of this in season and got a friend to take the old judge then in the city out for a drive. I told him to return late. The Judge went with my friend. While they were away I pulled the market down. Really, however, I had the best sanction. A law had been on the statute books of the District for fifteen years authorizing and instructing the Commissioner of Public Buildings to remove the building. He had never availed himself of his privilege under the law. You would hardly recognized the site of the ancient nuisance to-day. That afternoon the Chief of Police sent me word to beware of a mob. That night fifteen Negroes armed themselves with muskets, came to my house and offered to guard it. The darkies were always very good friends of mine.”


Statuesque Location
Bill Rice,

In case you're wondering about the present whereabouts and condition of the Boss Shepherd statue, I can report that as of early 1999 it is in the good hands of the Department of Public Works, behind a chain link fence off Shepherd Parkway near D.C. Village, standing upright and in apparently good condition.


Uncertified Teachers
Claiborne Porter,

[In response to Gloria White,] I absolutely agree that certification is not the only answer and that schools have probably missed out on some wonderful teachers; however, what do you say to the 693 students who failed their algebra exams because they were taught by uncertified teachers and then passed when the certified teachers took over (this was covered extensively by the Times-Picayune). I dare say that any of those teachers were lawyers who decided to go into teaching instead. I looked into teaching at a private school and the salary although small was generally higher than at a D.C. public school. I have two friends who teach at private schools. They just graduated from college and are teaching because they do not know what else to do, and not because they love children. They decided to
teach at private schools precisely because they did not have to be certified. There are always exceptions to rules — like your math friend — but I must say you need a license to drive, hunt, fish etc., don't you think it is wise to license people who want to teach children and be around them all day? The hassle and pain of teaching in a public school both in the inner city and the suburbs generally makes teaching there not that attractive to many people. Many times it is a question of discipline and not teaching. The teachers do not have as many freedoms and “perks” as private school teachers. Schools like Cardozo would never be able to compete for teachers with the Georgetown Days and Sidwell Friends of the world. So certification is not the only answer, but it certainly helps.


Quick, Phone! Get That Felon to a Cell
Charlie Wellander,

That disputed “dead zone” in the park which may cull cell calls is featured in David Montgomery's excellent article in Monday's Post . Wait, what is pictured in the front page color photo of that Metro section? Why, it appears to be a public-spirited citizen attempting to report an illegally unleashed dog in Rock Creek Park (actually, the dog is in Rock Creek, period). Gee, if very many cell phone users would be helping to clean up this admittedly out of control law enforcement problem, perhaps we should reconsider our towering opposition to that amendment of Senator Tom “What we've got here is failure to communicate” Daschle. Oh yes, one mark of excellence for Mr. Montgomery's article is that he names themail@dcwatch as a source.


Metro Metrics
Larry Seftor,

In a public relations ploy Metro has now convinced some radio stations to include Metro rail status as part of radio traffic reports. Generally I think that this is a positive trend, as getting information to people is good. However, Metro has missed the mark somewhat in the information they choose to share. What would be more useful to riders would be reporting of that Metro resource in shortest supply — parking. Telling riders, for example, that there are 50 spaces left at Shady Grove and none left at Vienna would be useful information worthy of being included in a traffic report.


DMV Service Outstanding — All Deserve Minimum 3% Raise
Mark Richards, East Dupont,

Renewal of drivers license took one hour at the 616 H Street NE location (only handles renewals). Mayor Barry's name, covering Kelly's name, is still on door (who cares, we know who's who). Building could use some maintenance — paint (the round smudges on the wall from people sitting on chairs and leaning head are kinda funny); sterile, meager, but adequate facility/work environment — no luxury offices here. There were about thirty people in license renewal line when it opened at 11 am — they were out by noon. Everyone passed through metal detector; there were a couple of security guards, who also directed people to the right line/service, gave out forms, and answered questions at the door, one to review forms while in line, two doing the eye test and checking for tickets, etc., one cashier, one photo person. ALL very professional, upbeat, didn't waste any time, worked together, and kept the system moving. Citizens were also in pretty good mood. “District of Columbia” is cut off at the top of my new license... equipment may need servicing. Only thing that changed on license since last renewal: my weight, up 15 lbs. Cab driver told me he got his in 15 minutes.


It Does Work
Doug Snider,

As a follow on to Susan Ousley's note of August 8, the Garrison School is still proceeding — the heavy construction work is complete, the playground equipment purchased by the Hudgens Foundation has been delivered and is ready for installation by DCPS and the landscaping (by Rupperts Nurseries) will be installed on Wednesday, August 18. If you remember the way it was, stop by and see how it is! The school is located between R & S on Vermont.


What Now with D.C.P.S.?
Richard Stone Rothblum,

Philip (Father of Hattie) Blair, Jr., reported in the classified section of themail that, “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,” to be held at the UDC Auditorium, moderated by Dr Mary Futrell. Since Mr. Blair is a World Bank employee, and likely a newcomer, perhaps he is not aware that a Mary Futrell was president of the National Education Association during the years when that teachers' union presided over the demise of public education in this country. If this is the same person, I do not expect that the results of such a forum, run by one who represents an organization that puts teachers' jobs and class and racial ideology ahead of children's welfare, will have a positive effect on education in this city. In any case, the folksy, “motley, no-name group” seems a bit misleading. Give this event a miss.


Guitar Teachers
Erica Nash,

If you are interested in guitar lessons, here are some tips: for beginners, call Rodney Richardson, 202-966-0384. For the next level and even more professional, call Peter Richardson, 804-923-0659. Peter lives in Charlottesville, VA, but comes to DC to give lessons periodically (very often). He is patient, has a good ear, and is a fun person. You can, if you wish, let either of them know that Erica recommended them to you. Good luck.


Erica Nash,

Re: where is there a good gelato in DC? You know, I often ask myself the same question. I come from Italy (Milano), and have found only one good gelateria in the area! It's in Charlottesville. The name of the parlor is Chaps, 804-977-4139. Does anyone want to start a delivery service from Charlottesville to DC?


Gelato Found
Jon Katz,

Thanks to the people who responded to my gelato query. I just got some great gelato from Yasaman in. Rockville's Ritchie Shopping Center (Route 355 and Ritchie Parkway; 301/762-5416). The nearby bakery of the same name has some cool-looking sweets.


Painter Recommendation Wanted
Liz Spurgin,

Anyone know of a good painter? I have several small projects in my house. Looking for someone good, reliable, reasonable, etc. I know this topic has been discussed here fairly recently, but the one painter that was recommended didn't show up to do the work!


Check Out the GreenStreets Web Site
Mara Cherkasky,

GreenStreets Initiative, an urban forestry group in Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights, invites you to visit our new Web site, which contains DC street tree regulations, a database of street trees in Mount Pleasant and parts of Columbia Heights, ideas for educational activities for elementary schools, and more. Please look us up at and give us your comments.



AmeriCorps Positions Available
Ernest M. Yombo,

Have you just graduated from high school or college, and don't have anything lined up? If so, The Latin American Youth Center is now seeking motivated individuals between the ages of 18-29 who want to make a difference in the community and earn $$ for school. Come and see what MANY/AmeriCorps has to offer you!

Pre-recruitment Orientation: 1419 Columbia Road, NW, Saturday, August 14, 1999, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. For more information don't hesitate to call 319-8640 or 319-8641.



Apartment on Cap Hill
Ann Bond,

First floor (above ground) efficiency in rowhouse at 7th and A SE. Eastern Market, subway, charm. $700, plus utilities. E-mail: ; or call at home, 202-544-7272.


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
WHOSE HOME RULE? Beyond the ritual temper-tantrum known as her “wild woman” routine, Eleanor Holmes Norton has patented one other innovation during her five terms as D.C.'s congressional delegate. Norton's “one-strike” rule amounts to a vow never to judge any policy passed down by the city's elected officials. Once something becomes District law, the delegate sees it solely as a matter of home rule, and dedicates herself to protecting it on the Hill.
The system works, most of the time. But for issues where the city government isn't pulling together to beat back some affront to local democracy, Norton needs to hire her own I-team to figure out where to stand.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
FRIDAY: “Jailhouse Rock,” with Charles and Ray Eames' “The Fiberglass Chairs” at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress' Pickford Theater, 1st & Independence Avenue SE. Free.
SATURDAY: “Exploring the Sky,” an evening of communal stargazing in Rock Creek Park. Meet at 8:30 p.m. at Rock Creek Park, in the parking lot at Glover & Military Roads NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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