Hurry, hurry, get your tickets early!
Seeing David Sobelsohn's Footlights-related posting reminded me that it's
time for the theater season in DC to start back up and I'm very excited! In that
spirit I'd like to pass on some theater tips for those who haven't experienced the
scene here yet. David has written a really good article on seeing theater on the
Opportunities not included by David include the innovative young peoples' discounts that
Arena, Woolly Mammoth and Studio, among others, are offering ($10 tix if you're under 25,
in Woolly's case). Also, both the Shakespeare Theatre and Woolly Mammoth hold free
readings of plays that they are considering for the next season; I believe Arena does the
But if you're willing to fork over some money, I've got a tip on an
upcoming benefit: Woolly Mammoth is holding its 20th Anniversary party with a reading of
Hate Mail starring Sarah Marshall and Floyd King at the DCJCC on Monday, Sept.
27. Details are available at http://www.paperlantern.com/hatemail.html.
Follow what's up in DC theater in the Post on Tuesday's with Jane Horwitz's Backstage
column on Style page 5 you'll be an insider in no time. Also, a Georgetown
professor has put up his own Web site of DC-related theater stuff, mostly links to the
sites of theaters and theatrical organizations around town: http://www.georgetown.edu/murphy/netsearch/washdc.html.
Those in the know consider DC's local theater scene to be second only to
New York's Off-Broadway offerings we have a thriving group of professional theaters
with exceptional actors. Among other things, we truly have the best regional Shakespeare
going on in the country at the Shakespeare Theatre. If you dive in, you'll see that we're
really spoiled here for theater! Happy viewing.
From Potholes to the Ward 3 Picnic
Richard Levine, RL44W@NIH.GOV
I don't know where you all live, but in North Cleveland Park all potholes
that I used to run across have been fixed. If yours aren't, call it in yourself at
645-7055. If after a week it has not been repaired or if you have another problem to
report with city government, call the hotline at 727-1000. Furthermore in my neighborhood
several streets have been scraped and resurfaced (viz: Albemarle, portions of Van Ness
NW), innumerable streets have been given new sidewalks and curbs, and many alleys have
been paved and provided with new concrete entrances. Just about every tree that I see has
been trimmed by the city tree people. We have had virtually a summer blizzard of street
In case you want some fun and free ice cream and an opportunity to speak
with the mayor directly about anything you wish, come on Sunday, September 12 at 4:30 p.m.
to the Ward 3 Sundae with the Mayor to be held at the Palisades Recreation Center in the
5100 block of Sherier Place NW between Dana Place and Edmunds Street. Edmunds intersects
with MacArthur. From this intersection it is a short 1-2 blocks. Y'ALL COME, Y'HEAR!
Fewer Beefs from East of the River
Kathy Chamberlain, email@example.com
In response to Where's the beef?, I see a big difference since
Mayor WIlliams took office, especially in the attitude and responsiveness of city
agencies. Not only does someone answer the phone when you call, but in most cases they
actually give you an answer, resolve the problem, or get back to you with a good reason.
Yes there are potholes, but that might be because no one has called them in. Once called
in, they're usually fixed within a week. DMV is much improved. Getting title, tags, and
registration for a recently purchased used car took only 20 minutes. The new inspection
station at Half Street, S.W. is a breeze to get through. And has anyone noticed that the
city is cleaner? For example, the SE-SW Freeway, especially the SE end, used to be strewn
with mufflers, tires, couches, and junk that fell from trucks. Now in the wee hours of the
morning, a DPW truck makes the rounds to pick up such debris. On weekends, overflowing
public trash receptacles used to be a common sight. Now they're emptied. Entertainment
posters on trees and utility poles are being taken down almost as fast as they go up,
thanks to DPW, police, and citizens. Sidewalks are being repaired or replaced, and we even
caught DPW replacing faded traffic signs in our neighborhood. Our police are doing a
better job of patrolling the neighborhoods and enforcing speed limits and traffic
controls. Personally I don't care if Mayor Williams is charismatic, as long as he gets the
job done. He's done more in 9 months than I expected he could.
Real Property Tax Surprise
Kenneth Nellis, firstname.lastname@example.org
I just received my latest semiannual Real Property Tax Bill. It was a
shocker because, not only was it charging me my expected six-month tax, but also the
amount for the previous six months plus a 10% penalty plus 9% interest. Indeed, my check
register showed that I had not paid the previous half year. But neither was there evidence
that I received a bill, which I maintain I never received.
Several points: (1) The interest rate of 1.5% per month (18% per year)
seems excessive. Is that rate justifiable? (2) If monthly statements were sent out to
delinquent accounts, I would have incurred only one month's interest instead of six. Is it
reasonable that I not receive notification of an overdue payment until six months have
passed? (3) I resent being penalized for not paying a bill I didn't receive. (4) The
penalty rate (10%) is excessive. Is this how DC is trying to attract people to move to the
I called the Office of Tax and Revenue and the nice woman on the phone
said my only recourse is to request a waiver in writing, which I plan to do. I was
wondering if any readers of themail would be willing to share any sure-fire points to
clinch my waiver.
Raising the Test Scores
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
The main thrust in the DCPS is to raise the test scores of all students.
This is a daunting task. To raise the scores of those who traditionally, in urban schools
with minority enrollment, score the worst in standardized tests, will require a major
culture change. The current prevailing culture spurns academic achievement and dismisses
scholarship. Many of the District's students have been led to believe that they are doomed
to fail and, thus, they pretend that academics are not important.
There's no federal government or local government that can change that
culture. The change can only come about with incredible influence and discipline from
teachers and parents. We have to find a way to bring parents and teachers together to
develop the discipline and support techniques that will foster this cultural evolution.
Until the parents and teachers truly believe that they can change the culture, the test
scores will remain mired in the muck and our students will be stuck in the mud for many,
and perhaps, all their years.
Living on Wavy Watery Land with Many Views
Mark Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tobias Lear, G. Washington's private secretary, wrote one of the earliest
monographs on the DC area (Observations on the River Potomack, the Country Adjacent,
and the City of Washington) in 1793. He described the benefits of the site:
The ground, on an average, is about forty feet above the water of the river.
Although the whole, when taken together, appears to be nearly a level spot, yet it is
found to consist of what may be called wavy land; and is sufficiently uneven to give many
very extensive and beautiful views from various parts of it, as well as to effectually
answer every purpose of cleansing and draining the city. . . . No place has greater
advantages of water....
Lear also wrote that the U.S. public/feds had gained possession of
more than ten thousand lots [from the 19 original owners for free], from which funds are
to be raised to defray the expense of the public buildings, (in addition to 192,000
dollars, given by the States of Virginia and Maryland, for that purpose,) and to effect
such other things as it may be incumbent upon the public to do in the city. Lear
gushed that the large surplus of lots will remain the property of the city, which
hereafter may, and undoubtedly will be so applied, as to defray the annual expenses
incident to the city; and the citizens, and their property, will be forever free from a
heavy tax, which is unavoidable in other large cities. In fact, many of those lots
were used to pay the DC municipal government for services provided to the U.S.
public/feds, until they ran out. All told, the U.S. Public/feds spent a total
of $110,000 (borrowed money) to establish Washington City, loans that were repaid by DC
citizens with interest. Of the original 19 proprietors, only David Burnes benefited. BUT,
as seen this summer, Tobias Lear was right on one thing we are living on wavy
watery land with many views!
In the Mail, August 29, John Olinger, asks if DC will have a quarter. The
legislation authorizing the new quarters provides only for the states, but Del. Norton is
seeking to amend that legislation to give DC, and the territories their quarters as well.
As to New Jersey's quarter design, Washington crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey
for the Battle of Trenton. He did not leave it. It was one of the more successful battles
of the war for the revolutionaries.
I believe the scene is of George Washington crossing the Delaware River
FROM Pennsylvania TO New Jersey for the Battle of Trenton at Christmas, a key battle to
winning the Revolutionary War. And, by the way, as long as someone has bothered to bring
up New Jersey (and the tendency to bash it), consider this: New Jersey has rivers, lakes,
oceans, mountains, beaches, casinos (if you care for such a thing), proximity to New York
and Philadelphia and, most importantly, a rational, moderate group of people and
politicians who attempt fiscal responsibility while at the same time respecting the rights
of ALL people (and that's with a Republican controlled State House, something I would not
typically stand up for). (Yes, I'm from New Jersey....and at least I got to vote for
Congresspeople and Senators!) Sorry for discussing non-Metropolitan DC related items, but
I felt the need to defend. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Washington Crossing the Delaware is the picture on the back of
the New Jersey quarter. Washington was invading Trenton, New Jersey, not leaving New
Jersey. It was Christmas Eve, and all the Hessians in Trenton were drunk, so we beat the
mercenary army of King George VI. Every Philly-area child learns the story in 3rd grade,
then goes on the field trip to Valley Forge, which is where Washington's army spent the
winter before that famous Christmas Eve trip INTO New Jersey.
Re: Secret Service Hit and Run
Kathy Carroll, email@example.com
Hmmm interestingly provocative titling. Not to criticize, but what I would
have done was to complain to the restaurant, the employer of the evil valet, and then I
would have gotten out of my car in the pouring rain and made sure that I left a note on
the hit vehicle telling the owner who bashed in his car. After all, I too would have been
a witness. I could be wrong, but I don't believe that the Secret Service has any authority
to issue tickets in the District of Columbia. They are employed by the Treasury
Department. And perhaps he did report the incident hard to tell.
Secret Service Hit and Run?
Richard Stone Rothblum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Ross wondered whether a Secret Service uniformed officer who ignored
a minor automobile accident acted properly. This is an old issue, and the answer is that,
unless someone's life is in imminent danger, Secret Service agents must concentrate on
their primary assignment. That is, to protect the lives of their wards. An assassination
scenario might include an incident such as Tony described, for the express purpose of
distracting the victim's protectors.
Calculating the Cost of Automobile Transportation
Richard Stone Rothblum, email@example.com
While I am all in favor of using public transportation wherever possible,
I have to say that John Whiteside in his Reverse Commuting Discovery greatly
overestimates the marginal costs of traveling by automobile. John figures automobile
mileage costs at $0.33/mile. This may approach the total cost of automobile ownership,
including depreciation, taxes, insurance, repairs and gasoline. However, most of these
costs are fixed independent of mileage. So, if one must own a car because there is
often no alternative to travel by car, the cost of additional mileage is only gasoline and
some portion of maintenance. Gasoline costs for a fuel-efficient car (30 mpg) is only
about 1/30 X (fuel cost per gallon) = about $0.04/mile. A rule of thumb is that
maintenance costs (oil, tires, repairs) are about equal to fuel costs, so the total
marginal cost is only about $0.08/mile. This means that the marginal cost of John's trip
by car would be about $2.00, assuming that he must own a car anyway, for other reasons.
Therefore, there is no economic advantage to using public transportation. An unfortunate
consequence of urban sprawl and low-density housing is that public transportation is
generally not cost-effective. The only way that public transportation can compete is by
(justifiable) massive subsidies. Metro fares do not cover even operating costs, much less
Setting the Record Straight
Roxanna Deane, RDeane1110@aol.com
Bryce Suderow did not have the facts straight as they pertain to the
Mayor's picnic and the D. C. Public Library. First of all the Mayor's Office never called
the Library to ask staff to attend this event. Second I never personally called the
Southeast Library. Finally, though there was no staff available to attend the event a
member of the Friends of the Southeast Library did go and take some fliers, etc., from the
Here are the facts. I had been told by a friend in the community that
there was going to be an event to celebrate 8th Street SE and that the Mayor was to attend
to offer support for development projects. Nothing was mentioned about a picnic or that
the Mayor was the sponsor of this event. I don't think she knew. The Library is trying to
raise its profile in the community and would like to be more involved in community events.
This event so near a branch library was perfect. I spoke to the person who is leading this
effort. She called the Southeast Branch Librarian. It was the Branch Librarian who
arranged for someone from the Friends group to attend. That is the end of the story.
DC Voting Rights: the Marbury Lesson
Tom Matthes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Advocates for winning DC votes in Congress through either Adams vs.
Clinton (filed by George LaRoche) or Alexander vs. Daley (filed by Charles Miller) should
ponder the lessons of Marbury vs. Madison the case that established the principal
of judicial review. Marbury was to be a recipient of one of the so-called midnight
appointments of lame duck President John Adams, who tried to fill as many federal
jobs as possible with Federalists before the Democratic-Republicans of president-elect
Thomas Jefferson took power in March 1801. But Marburys appointment papers were not
delivered before James Madison, the new secretary of state, took office. When Madison
refused to hand over the papers, Marbury sued to get his job and the case wound up before
the Supreme Court. Although Chief Justice John Marshall ruled Marbury the winner, he still
didn't get the job. That's because Marshall also ruled the act which entitled Marbury to
his job was unconstitutional and thus unenforceable by the courts. So, while the courts
established their power to invalidate laws incompatible with the Constitution, poor
Marbury joined the bread lines.
What has this to do with the two lawsuits asking the courts to grant DC
voting rights? The Marbury precedent demonstrates that an appellate court is not obliged
to resolve a constitutional dispute the way the parties want. The Supreme Court, assuming
it is willing to repeal the power of Congress to rule DC, may choose to make the district
a ward of the court. Would anyone like to contemplate Clarence Thomas as the head of the
DC municipal courts, Antonin Scalia as city manager or William Rehnquist as superintendent
of schools? There are no guarantees when you take a case to the Supreme Court. Also,
Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution allows Congress to make
Exceptions and Regulations to the appellate jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court. What is the Supreme Court to do if it orders Congress to grant DC statehood
and Congress either refuses to obey or declares cases involving DC outside the courts
jurisdiction? Since Article I, Section 6, Paragraph 1 makes members of Congress immune
from arrest except for Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, the courts
can't order federal marshals to jail the defiant senators and representatives. Finally,
judicial review does not empower the courts to declare part of the Constitution
unconstitutional (for the logical absurdity of this, see the Theory of
Types by Bertrand Russell); only laws approved by Congress or the States are
affected. The Adams and Alexander cases both ask the courts to repeal the powers of
Congress to admit new states and amend the Constitution. Don't bet your life savings the
courts will try to pull it off.
Mr. Matthes' condemns the Twenty Citizens' law suit (Adams v. Clinton) and
me on the basis of some text he quotes from the web site http://www.dccitizensfordemocracy.org.
Unfortunately, Mr. Matthes overlooks two key facts which void his arguments. First, the
text on which Mr. Matthes hangs his argument is not from any document filed in the law
suit. It's clearly from an explanatory flier prepared by a neutral third party, providing
a very general overview of the case. This one page flier doesn't even try to replicate the
hundreds of pages of legal arguments filed in the suit, which are really at issue in Mr.
Second, Mr. Matthes misconstrues the text, disregarding the grammatical
structure of the document he quotes (though he correctly identifies a grammatical error in
the text he quotes). The first clause of the first sentence he quotes (If the
Plaintiffs win) is actually a HEADING. The plain inference of this heading is that
the text which falls UNDER the heading concerns what might happen AFTER the
if, AFTER the Plaintiffs win. AFTER the law suit is CONCLUDED. The
plain language indicates that the only result of a win in which the COURT
would have a role would be restraint on Congress from segregating the District from the
rest of the United States.
Adams v. Clinton asks the Court to restrain Congress from exercising
certain powers over the people of the District, insofar as and because those powers
violate the citizens' constitutional rights. Federal courts regularly issue such
restraints elsewhere in the United States; why not here? Following victory in the suit,
the citizens of the District would have the opportunity to debate and frame the future
status of the District. Since Congress would no longer be able to perpetuate the status
quo, statehood or retrocession would be possible futures. These are questions for the
people of the District to debate and decide. Following the citizens' decision, Congress
(and only Congress) would have the constitutional prerogative and power to admit the new
state or to cede the District to Maryland. The Court would have no role in the choice or
in making the choice a political reality. The Court has no power to admit the
District as a State and the Court lacks even the prerogative to opine whether the District
should be a state or part of a state. This is the law and this is the position stated
before the Court on behalf of the Plaintiffs in the Twenty Citizens' suit.
In short, the Twenty Citizens' law suit is based on well settled legal
principles, presents conclusively documented facts, and does not ask the Court to impose
any political status on the citizens of the District of Columbia. Mr. Matthes' arguments
otherwise are merely political. And by the way, the Adams law suit is not the
alternative lawsuit of Alexander v. Daley, as Mr. Matthes states. The two suits are
absolutely independent, by every conceivable criterion.
Be Nice and Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Mark Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
Tom Matthes wrote that Attorney George LaRoche must have neglected
to coordinate his spin with the folks who put together its web site, and after
giving his interpretation of LaRoche's work, states Mr. LaRoche will have done his
part to make the world safe for oligarchy. Matthes should be thanking LaRoche for
trying to explain his work in a public forum, not twisting his work or attacking him
that's not nice. I'm writing because I developed the one page flier on the two DC
lawsuits pending before the three judge panel of the US District Court that Matthes quoted
(Adams posted it on their web site). The flier was reviewed and approved by both Rob Wick
(Covington and Burling for the Alexander case) and Mr. LaRoche (for Adams). I'm not
a lawyer, but my guess is that the courts will not do anything to unravel America or the
Constitution or to grab undue power over Congress I think they're fairly
conservative. On the other hand, DC citizens can be expected to do whatever they can
within the law until they have equal citizenship rights. Many are working for democracy in
DC, in different ways, and I appreciate that. Some think lawsuits are a way to go
so let's try, and time will tell.
What I've seen, aside from the fact that claims are regularly thrown about
by people not associated with the cases, is this: (1) Few, in the press or public, seem to
understand the differences between the lawsuits otherwise, I would expect to see
more comparative information. (2) Because the Alexander case has the backing of Delegate
Norton, the municipal government, a top law firm, The Post, and 55 citizens, it
has been treated by the press with greater status and recognition than Adams, which has
been pushed off the stage, so to speak. [The Times editorial page just outright
scoffed at both.] Adams is an equally important effort that picked up speed back in 1997
when George Will said DC doesn't deserve democracy it was developed under the
guidance of LaRoche for twenty DC citizens (some I've gotten to know and appreciate). For
me, the fact that the court accepted both cases in their own right and on their own
individual merit is important. My purpose in developing the one-pager was to identify
language which both lawsuits could agree to about what they each are doing (for my
writing) a little DC Democracy Lawsuits 101 flier an intro. I'm
waiting to see what the courts have to say; that's what counts. Personally, I don't want a
half-way vote and partial rights in Maryland, nor the right to vote in the state of my
birth, where I now have little stake DC votes would be diluted and worthless. So if
Alexander wins, I hope that will not be the outcome. If Adams wins, DC citizens will have
to decide between retrocession and statehood I don't have a problem with having
that debate. In the meantime, it would be great if the media, from whom most get their
info, made an effort to understand the claims, merits, and potential outcomes of each
ON A RELATED SUBJECT, what does Virginia and Maryland have to lose if DC
becomes a state? And what does Virginia have to lose if DC joins Maryland? I'm interested
Re: You Get What You Pay For
Richard Stone Rothblum, firstname.lastname@example.org
I like the revised version of this saw: You Get Less Than or Equal
To What You Pay For. Giving incompetent employees raises doesn't make them
competent, but prospects are slim for hiring and keeping competent employees for less than
they could make otherwise.
Damian Buckley stated: It would also seem obvious at the outset that
Lois Kirkpatrick does not even take into account the many other benefits for working for
I mentioned in my first post on this subject that I am, in fact, a
government worker, although not in DC. Having worked in both the private and the public
sectors, I haven't noticed many differences in benefits. I've also seen executives and
managers in both camps working nights and weekends; people leaving government to work for
private companies; and government workers being laid off. Many of the old stereotypes
about us are not true anymore. Including the one about how we should not get equal pay for
doing similar work.
Stuart M. Weiser, email@example.com
I recently moved into a house in N. Cleveland Park, and need
recommendations to deal with my new status as a landowner (I didn't have these problems in
Dupont Circle!): 1) I need a landscaper/gardener to do a one-time maintenance job on my
shrubs and trees and remove ivy from my house (with the possibility of being hired for
ongoing work next year). 2) I need someone to grade my property with fill dirt. 3) I need
an exterminator to deal with some bugs in the house.
CLASSIFIEDS EVENTS AND CLASSES
The Friends of the Tenley-Friendship Branch of the DC Library will hold
its semi-annual book sale on Saturday, September 25 from 12-4 pm. Book donations are
currently being accepted at the library and can be dropped off during regular hours (the
library is open Tuesday and Wednesday evenings until 9 pm). If you have lots of books and
no easy way to drop them off, send me an E-mail and we'll see if we can arrange a pick-up.
DC Cable Television Advisory Committee Meeting
Jeffrey Hops, Interim Chair, DC Cable Television Advisory Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org
The DC Cable Television Advisory Committee meeting will be held Tuesday,
Sept. 7, 6 p.m., at the DC Office of Cable Television, 2217 14th Street, N.W. The agenda
will include the status of Arnold and Porter's franchise compliance audit, and the sale of
the remaining portion of District Cablevision Limited Partnership to AT&T. Please feel
free to call me at (410) 786-3111 or (202) 588-9258 if you have any questions or concerns.
See you next Tuesday.
Do you want to learn to tell stories, or brush up on your technique?
Telling Tales is an eight-week workshop that provides a relaxed, supportive, and
artistically challenging arena to explore storytelling. No previous experience needed!
Students begin with personal reminiscences to recreate a known world, then use their
imaginations to create the worlds of folk or fairy tales. The class is taught by Jon
Spelman, an internationally known professional storyteller. You may remember his show
Three Stories Tall on Channel 4.
Monday evenings, 7:30 - 10:00 pm, September 27 through November 15, 1999,
The Dance Exchange, 7117 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD (2 blocks from Takoma Metro), $190.
To reserve a place, send a non-refundable $50 deposit (check made out to Washington
Storytellers Theatre) to Jon Spelman, 1612 Ballard Street, Silver Spring, MD 20910. For
information: write WST@storyteller.net, or call
Jon Spelman at 301/585-5784, or WST at 301/891-1129.
CLASSIFIEDS HELP WANTED
Part-Time Family Aide
Kathy Patterson, KPattDC3@aol.com
Part-time position ideal for college student: 20 hours per week, 3 to 7
p.m., Monday through Friday, $180 per week, lots of study time, and use of a family car.
The job: looking after teens, 12 and 15, including driving to practices and lessons,
supervising in-home study hall and occasional errands. We'd consider a job
share with two college students. Requirements: good driver, reasonable sense of direction,
good sense of humor. Household includes two dogs. E-mail Kathy at KPattDC3@aol.com.
I got an offer in the mail: Test drive an Oldsmobile, and get a dozen golf
balls (Ryder Cup insignias, no less). Well, I don't think I'm going to take the financial
plunge, but I can recommend my salesman: Enzo at Fitzgerald's in Gaithersburg (on 355,
just above Montgomery Village Ave.). He also sells Toyotas, and they're practically giving
away '99 models. His phone number is 301-921-0300.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, email@example.com
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
LOOSE LIPS is on vacation. His column will return next week.
In the meantime, read and argue over the archives here http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/archives/lips/lipindex.html
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early
warnings for upcoming events:
SATURDAY & SUNDAY: Washington Irish Festival, from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 4,
and noon to 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 5, at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 16 Chestnut
St., Gaithersburg. $20.
WEDNESDAY: Tommy Cecil, 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Rear. $14.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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