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August 25, 1999

The Paycheck Is in themail

Dear Paymasters:

Lois Kirkpatrick, below, takes exception to my diatribe in the last issue of themail. Public officials, she believes, are underpaid. So, what do you think? Let me put the question in three parts: in the District of Columbia, are our elected officials, our top managers, and our line employees paid enough? (Or too much for the actual work they do?) And how should we measure enough?

Gary Imhoff


A New School Board
Ed T. Barron,

The current School Board has demonstrated, quite clearly, that it is unable to lead the District's schools out of the morass they are mired in. There is no consensus and each of the Board Members operates as a lone wolf representing their own turf. Several proposals to restructure the School Board are under consideration. So, I will offer my own proposal.

My proposal is that ALL the School Board members be elected At-Large. This, in my opinion, will eliminate much of the territoriality we currently have. A Board with eight or nine members would be about the right size with a Board Leader elected by the members of the Board. This method of restructuring the Board would likely lead to a pretty sizable number of candidates running for one of the eight or nine seats. We would likely find that many talented persons would run for a spot on the Board. Having a large number of candidates to choose from would certainly increase the chances for electing a Board that would be constructive and productive, unlike the current form of electing Board members from each Ward.


DC FBI Tales
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times again reported on 8/23/99 that UDC is under FBI investigation. Tom Sherwood noted (Notebook, Northwest Current, 8/18/99) that both The Times and The Post reported this, but evidence of this assertion doesn't appear to have yet emerged. I'm waiting for the video.

Speaking of FBI tales, Jay Leno on The Tonight Show (8-23-99), joking about George Bush, Jr., and a host of other elected officials who seem to have put their noses where the law doesn't approve, noted that nobody thought Marion Barry, Jr., would become a trendsetter. Leno also described the difference between being a black elected official compared to a white one: one gets his head slammed by the FBI, the other gets his Party's nomination! In February 1990, after the media had played over and over the FBI-supplied video tape from the Barry bust in January, the Times Mirror conducted a national poll and found 40% of Americans could accurately identify Marion Jr. — in an open-ended question — as the Mayor of D.C. I guess we can expect George Jr.'s name recognition to go up. Any idea how he'd treat locals should he move into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? (I doubt he could do less for DC than Bill Clinton has done.)


Statehood, No ... Metrohood, Yes
Len Sullivan,

The sometimes fanciful, sometimes surly, attempts to devise schemes to transform DC into a state seem hopelessly outdated and misguided. If the objective is to get “full citizenship” and “representation in the Congress,” there are surely better ways to do it. Why not put that effort into earning less oversight and getting a vote in a neighboring jurisdiction?

The focus of US domestic economic power and political influence is steadily shifting from the venerable state houses to the increasingly autonomous metro areas. DC's future lies not in having its own mental hospitals, unemployment offices, insurance regulators, air national guard unit, and state flower, but in becoming the indispensable central core of the US national capital metro area.

Teamed up with the wealth, skills, and dynamism of all those who prosper within the gravitational field of America's capital, DC could draw the support of a Congressional caucus of as many as 4-8 senators, and 8-12 representatives, if needed. Why pine to become an undernourished bush league state — for reasons of ideology — when for the asking, DC could lead the team of the top-ranking major league metro area — for reasons of prosperity?


Constitutional Question
Aaron Lloyd,

I am sorry, Mr. Matthes, if I confused you on my last posting. I assumed that you would understand, as you apparently consider yourself constitutionally knowledgeable, that in referring to the “exclusive Legislation” section that deals with the District I was in fact referring to Sub-section 17, of Section 8, of Article I. Which is, in fact, around 75 words long, small compared to the rest of the section and quite small as a part of the whole body of the constitution. Surely you didn't think I wanted to interfere with Congress' ability to “establish Post Offices and post Roads?” And surely you didn't think I was referring to Article I as a whole, which has 10 sections with over fifty subsections?

Mr. Matthes seems to have plenty of scorn for “activists” and those “wasting” their time on lawsuits. I make no great claim for my own accomplishments in advancing democracy, but I wonder what herculean efforts Mr. Matthes has put forth to gain equality for us colonial subjects in the District that he can sneer at the efforts of others. Then again, I suspect he doesn't really want equality. You say DC citizens (if we can be called citizens without the rights of such) ought to have full home rule and votes, but what exactly is “full home rule”? Are you talking about a new and improved version of separate and unequal? Until you can say STATEHOOD, you are not talking equality, and all the constitutional lessons I can give you will fall on deaf ears.


DC Voting Rights
George S. LaRoche,

In response to Mr. Matthes' latest tirade on “DC Voting Rights: The Y2K Question”: Mr. Matthes' strong opinions do not make up for ignorance of the facts. He condemns the two law suits pending in the District Court, but one of them most certainly does not implicate the issues he attacks. The case referred to frequently as “Twenty Citizens of the District of Columbia [Adams] v. Clinton” poses questions which specifically PRECLUDE any possibility that the Court can “seize power to amend the Constitution” or “assume powers reserved to Congress.”

The Twenty Citizens' case only asks the Court to do what the federal courts have been doing for almost half a century, with great regularity, which is to restrain the agents of a government from violating the rights of people subject to the power of that government. The same thing has been done over and over and over, without any credible reading that the effect was to “amend the Constitution” or assume powers reserved to Congress. The same thing was done in Baker v. Carr, Reynolds v. Sims, Brown v. Board of Education, and an almost countless number of other cases. Don't depend on misleading abstractions; read the actual court documents yourself at


Public Servant, Not Public Slave
Lois Kirkpatrick,

Gary Imhoff sounded off about DC government employee salaries. As a government employee myself, it irritates me when people act like we should work for free. The fact is, most private industry employees make more than government employees doing the same work. But a much more important issue is this: why do the people who teach your children, put out your fires, police your cities, manage your waste, repair your roads, and assist your disabled and elderly be paid less than, say, plumbers and Web site designers?

If you judged job importance by salary, you'd think that rock guitarists were more important than the U.S. President. You'd think a star hockey player affected more people's lives than the head of DOE. You'd think a teenage sitcom queen was more important than the head of DOJ. People complain about poor government service, but then don't want government servants to get paid as if the job matters.

[Actually, I wrote about the inflation of salaries at the top of DC government, about the growing number of people in DC government who will be making more than the President. But if we're talking about salaries for average government workers, they're also not bad. To me, the proper comparison for a government line worker's pay is not with rock stars and sports stars, but with an average middle class income. The median family income in DC is about $32,000. That's family, not individual income, so it includes a lot of two income families. It's solidly middle-class for a whole family, and teachers, police officers, and firemen are within striking distance of that the very first year they're on the job. I'm not throwing any relief benefits for them. — Gary Imhoff]


DC Does It Ad Campaign
Kirsten Sherk,

I'm afraid I'm completely confused about Patrick Shaughness' concern about the DC Does It ad campaign. What exactly is he objecting to? Is it simply because of semantics (that is, the hanging question), or that we're discussing it at all? If a girl is sexually active, the best way of preventing sexually transmitted diseases is either through abstinence or the use of condoms. “Just in case,” in my mind, implies all sorts of things: just in case she has unplanned sex (how many of us really plan it?), just in case her partner is infected, just in case ... lots of things. A number of studies have shown that the more teens (boys and girls) are comfortable talking about abstinence and condoms, the more likely they are to use either of these methods. (I'd be happy to provide references, but I would specifically refer you to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, ).

At the very least, given the rate of STD transmission among teens, particularly Black teens, doesn't Keesha deserve to know about condoms?


Build It, But Will They Come?
Ken Nellis,

In the August 15 edition, Ed T. Barron wrote, “That's the real problem with building or widening the roads. Build it and they will come. . . .” I wonder how valid an argument that is. As I see it, the “they” could either be (a) folks unhappy with congestion in their current routes so that they “come” to the wider, faster roads. Or they could be (b) new folks attracted to the area with its new, efficient road system. The “(a)” scenario exists because the current situation is endemic to the entire region. If only a few roads were congested and they were widened to meet the standards of other roads in the region, it would benefit the current riders; other folks wouldn't come to the newer, faster road if their current routes were satisfactory. The “(b)” scenario wouldn't exist if local governments had the leadership to control development. So, in a normal world, the argument shouldn't hold. But here, where all routes are congested and there is no control on development, indeed, build it and they will come!


Arizona and Nebraska
Adam J Marshall,

I just wanted to respond to a recent question about what's going on at Arizona and Nebraska Avenues, NW. The police presence that you've been seeing results from many near accidents that have occurred at the intersection of the two arteries. As a resident of Arizona Avenue, I don't even want to tell you how many times cars (most with Virginia plates) run the stop sign, or buzz by pedestrians at a cool 50 mph. I, for one, am glad to see that the MPD are cracking down on people who treat stop signs as “yield” signs. Just because it's an important commuter route doesn't mean that people should be able to ignore the street regulations and threaten neighborhood residents! I have been sitting in the longer traffic jams that have resulted from the police presence, and all I can say is that this is the first traffic tie-up that I've ever been extremely thankful for!


AT&T Seeks Council’s Consent to Buy Remainder of DC Cablevision
Richard Stone Rothblum,

I just got back from an ANC meeting and heard presentations from lawyers for GTE and District Cablevision. I am concerned that the Internet service provided by District Cablevision will require the use of @Home to the exclusion of all other Internet Service Providers (ISP's). I gather that the main motivation for forcing DC Cablevision subscribers to use @Home as the primary ISP (you can always subscribe to another ISP, provided you access the preferred ISP via @Home) is that the advertising revenue that AT&T will reap by controlling the gateway will be outside the revenue considered when the Public Service Commission (or whoever) sets the rates that DC Cablevision will be allowed to charge customers. It seems to me that allowing competition for ISP's is a good way to protect the public, despite the contention of AT&T that there is already adequate competition, and that additional regulatory burden would be placed on the District to regulate ISP competition over the cable network. I would certainly not be happy to be locked in to a single ISP. Would the Public Service Commission set the rates that @Home would be allowed to charge? Will they consider the advertising revenue that a captive audience will bring?

[AT&T loves competition, and advertises about how great competition is, when they want to reenter the local telephone market in competition with the Baby Bells, but they'll grab a monopoly whenever they get a chance. So far, the FCC supports them against local jurisdictions that want to open up cable Internet to competition among service providers. This is probably the major open issue that the DC Office of Cable Television is considering right now with respect to AT&T's purchase of District Cablevision. Any other opinions? — Gary Imhoff]


Sprint PCS
M. “Tac” Tacelosky, Dupont Circle,

I echo Peter Luger's complaints about Sprint PCS, and begin chanting “Lies! Lies!” when Sprint's TV ads air.

The coverage is abysmal. Even driving between here and Philadelphia there are frequent areas where service isn't available. As Peter mentions, service is poor in Dewey Beach, it's also non-existent in the West Virginia ski areas. Away from metropolitan centers, there's not even a hint of sporadic service — while traveling in Wyoming and Lake Tahoe, I never once was able to make a phone call. Can anyone recommend a service for DC residents who like to travel to local beaches and ski areas?


Joan Eisenstodt,

I joined the “Fig Club” from Harry and David and got three different months' worth of figs — fresh and lovely and remarkably not expensive. There is also a vendor (Debbie, outside the door to Market Lunch) at Eastern Market on Saturdays who has them — when they are in season — but they sell quickly so go early!


Do You Have a Bad Nanny Story?
Peggy Robin,

Anyone had a really bad nanny experience? Have you had a nanny walk out on you, or leave your kids in a dangerous situation, or do something even worse? A national talk show would like to hear from you, and maybe fly you out to California to talk about what you've learned about finding safe childcare. I'm the author of The Safe Nanny Handbook, and I'm going to be a guest on the show, which tapes in L.A. on Aug. 31. The producers would also like to have on a few parent-employers who have some precautionary stories to tell about past nannies. If you're interested, E-mail me as soon as possible, so that I can put the producers in touch with you in time to make flight arrangements. All travel expenses will be paid by the show.



Tasting Society International September/October 1999 Calendar of Wine Events
Charlie Adler,

September events: 1) Sept. 18th (Saturday), “Adams Morgan Day Wine Around: Food and Wine Walking Tour,” 1-5 PM, Rain or Shine! $45.00 in advance, tax and tip inclusive, $55.00 day of (depending on availability). “Wine Around”: a walking tour of Adams Morgan's finest restaurants combined with a food and wine pairing in each restaurant. Sample various delicacies matched with a multitude of international wines at Felix, I Matti, Cities, Columbia Station and more restaurants! Every restaurant will have a meat and a vegetarian dish to taste with wine. Partial proceeds to benefit Friends of Adams Morgan. 2) Sept. 21st (Tuesday), “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., 7-9 PM, $39 per person. Our most popular tasting! We'll cover the basics: how to match wine and food, how to purchase and order wine, and what to look for in different grape varieties. You don't need to be an expert to enjoy great wine! 3) Sept. 22nd (Wednesday), “Discover the Rising Stars: Wine and Food Pairing Event,” sponsored by Fresh Fields/Whole Foods Market of Georgetown, Galleria at Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st St., NW, 7-9 PM, $45 in advance, $55 at the door (if available). Tasting Society International and Fresh Fields of Georgetown present our Fall wine and food pairing event. Enjoy wines matched with Fresh Field's gourmet delicacies all within the beautiful atrium of the Galleria at Lafayette Centre. 4) Sept. 29th (Wednesday), “Wines of Europe 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $39 per person. Europe produces a wide array of excellent wines from its diverse geography. Although France and Italy have consistently produced outstanding wines, Spain, Germany, Greece and other European countries are catching up in quality and value. 5) Sept. 30th (Thursday), “Celebration of the Wines of Burgundy, France,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $50 per person. A serious tasting of the Cotes de Nuit's and Cotes de Beaune's finest current releases. This region is the epitome of fine wine. We'll showcase the wonderful complexity and flavors that are derived from this region's terroir.

October events: 6) Oct. 5th (Tuesday), “Wine 102: Tasting Like A Pro,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $39 per person. You understand the wine basics, but you want to impress your friends, business associates, or other acquaintances with your wine knowledge (this is great for that next job interview!). We'll show you in under 2 hours how you can taste like the pros and impress anyone with your new found knowledge. 7) Oct. 7th (Thursday), “France vs. California Showdown: The New Releases,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $50 per person. Who says that France makes better wine than California does? Join Ann Berta, Washingtonian Magazine wine columnist, as we compare and taste some of the world's finest wines. Just to make this event even more interesting (and objective) all bottles will be covered. These double-blind tastings are always fun and showcase what's really important in a wine: great taste and aroma. 8) Oct. 19th (Tuesday), “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $39 per person. 9) Oct. 21st (Thursday), “Wines of South America: Argentina and Chile,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $40 per person. Experience the pleasures of South America's greatest wine region. Reservations: RSVP at (202)333-5588, email: , or


Saturday at Tony and Joe’s
Sven Abow,

This Saturday, August 28th, I'll be playing the jazz brushes together with a pianist at Tony & Joe's seafood restaurant at the Georgetown water front. We'll play from 7-11 pm. No cover charge, the food is great.


Time and Location Change for National Day of Remembrance
Jon Katz, Vice President for Programs, Philippine-American Bar Association,

Please note the new time and location for the Press Conference & Memorial Vigil for Joseph Ileto — who was gunned down soon after the August 10 shootings at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. I just learned of the update: Thursday, August 26, 11:00 A.M. Press Conference, National Press Club, Murrow Room, 14th & F Street NW, 12 noon. Memorial Vigil Freedom Plaza, 14th & Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Speakers: Leaders from the Asian, African, Latino, Jewish-American, labor, and Gay communities. Contact: Jon Melegrito, NaFFAA, (202) 986-9330,



Exercise Equipment
Rich Rothblum,

Weight bench and weight holding rack. Some miscellaneous weights. $150 or best offer. 202-244-3023.


Printer Wanted
Deborah C. Fort, Tenleytown,

I need to buy a used printer (black and white only is fine), which will print documents created on WordPefect 5.1 for DOS and within Windows 3.11. Can anyone help?


Used Office Furniture/Equipment Donations Wanted
Fran Dixon,

As part of our back-to-school preparations, Walker-Jones Elementary School is redecorating our Parent Resource Center. We looking for the following items, used, in good condition. Need these items by Saturday. We'll pick up: couch, conference table and chairs, iMac or other late-model Mac/printer, computer desk, rug, toys for infants and toddlers.



Place to Live
Sven Abow,

I'm looking for a place to live and a space for my recording studio. The two don't need to be in the same house. Group houses, summer/guest/warehouses are ok, any other creative approach is welcome, too. The rent can be as high as $500. Lots of forest and a running stream nearby are a plus but any other location is also fine.



Internet/Web Services
Harold Goldstein,

For end user Internet Training and low-mid size web development projects, you cannot beat the cost and quality of the Goldray Consulting Group. See our online folio at


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