The Rains Came
Dear Storm Watchers:
Hope you're reading this all snug and comfortable in your own homes. Speak
to you again when we all emerge once more.
Scott McLarty, email@example.com
For those planning on Saturday, September 18 to protest the RLAs
decision to choose Giant/Grid/Horning over the patently superior Forest City plan for
Columbia Heights: I just learned that the Mayor will attend the opening ceremony at the
Georgia-Petworth Metro station at 1 pm, but will skip the earlier ceremony at the new
station at 14th and Irving. But I'm informed that the ribbon cutting ceremony will still
take place at the Columbia Heights station at 11:30 am, so we can expect a strong and
Someone might visit the Office of Campaign Finances over at the Reeves
Center and learn how much the awardees and their top-level associates and cronies
contributed to certain candidates last year. (If I get the time, I will.) Real estate
honcho Herbert Miller contributed ten thousand dollars each to several mayoral candidates
last year, bypassing contribution limits because each of his individual corporate PACs was
allowed to give the maximum. That's how he won some lots near the MCI Arena in Chinatown,
and helped drive out small businesses there. That's how DC politics works it's the
Domino Development plan. It's how the Shaw neighborhood got that Convention
Center, and now faces displacement of residents and shops when conventioneers start
demanding nearby accommodations, parking lots, bus and truck loading docks, etc. DC's
economic reinvigoration has already begun to translate into a feeding trough for the most
predatory real estate interests. The Mayor and his cronies (doesn't that sound like a
phrase from the Barry era?) also plan to impose a downtown ballpark, a freeway down New
York Avenue into the center of DC, and a spanking new set of taxpayer funded sports
facilities in a joint bid with Baltimore for the 2012 Olympics.
I suspect that the decision to accept the Giant/Horning plan was made long
ago, that the Request For Proposals process was a formality, and that the recommendations
of the 1997 Columbia Heights urban design charettes were perhaps never taken seriously. I
attended a community meeting at the Lincoln School last year at which Columbia Heights
development was discussed in detail. At one of the workshops, I noted that nothing in the
RFPs language compelled developers to honor the design charities
recommendations for urban community-friendly development. I was scolded by the workshop
leader for raising the subject. Still, maybe we can help get the decision turned around.
See everyone on Saturday.
The RLA Board Did It
David McIntire, firstname.lastname@example.org
My wife and I attended the Mayor's picnic in Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park
today (September 12). We, along with others, went not for the food but to express our
outrage at the recent (Thursday September 9th) RLA decision regarding the Columbia Heights
Metro parcels. I also wanted to pose a question to the Mayor. The question was simple.
Why? Why were two proposals accepted that would develop only two of the four main parcels
rather than the Forest City proposal that would have developed all four? Why was a
proposal accepted that would destroy all but the exterior wall and lobby of the
historically designated Tivoli Theater to build a grocery there rather than the Forest
City proposal that would have preserved the entire structure and put it to new use as a
smaller theater, community center, and high-tech education center for community residents?
Why was a proposal accepted that would build an entertainment center of little relevance
to the community and depend instead on the patronage of the more affluent from other
neighborhoods, rather than the Forest City proposal that would have built a retail center
emphasizing the basic goods most needed by residents, including a 75,000 sq. ft. grocery?
We waited for the Mayor. He was late. In the meantime the Park Police
informed us that we didn't have a demonstration permit. When it became clear we were not
about to leave without a major fuss, the Park Police made some ground rules that were
accepted. Finally the Mayor arrived. We made our displeasure known as he entered the Park.
We then were instructed by Park Police to go to the stage where the Mayor was scheduled to
make his remarks. After about a 20 minute wait we were told that he wouldn't be speaking.
As we dispersed, some of us noticed Mayor Williams across the grass hidden amongst his
supporters. I (and others) pursued him and shouted the question, Explain yourself
Mayor? I managed to get a few feet from him. He looked at me. I looked at him. I
once again shouted, WHY?
He answered as follows. I appointed the board, the board expedited
its vote, and I stand behind the decision of the board. That was it. The RLA Board
did it a description, not an explanation, from a Mayor who has been telling
everyone to hold him personally accountable for the conduct of his Administration. The RLA
Board did it from a Mayor who promised to be open, honest, and frank with the
public. The RLA Board did it from a Mayor who purported to have the courage to
break with the cronyism of the past. Yes, the Mayor didn't do it THE RLA BOARD DID
Wrong Again, Mr. Mayor
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
The Mayor says that the lack of productivity on the part of D.C.
Government employees is due to the lack of good management, and he intends to hire more
managers and pay them bigger salaries to get the productivity raised. That's bushwa, Mr
Mayor. The problem with the lack of efficiency and effectiveness of the D.C. Government
employees results from too much management and too little empowerment of the
people who must make things happen.
The best way to improve employee morale and and effectiveness is to
increase the involvement of those who are doing the work in determining what really needs
to be done, who should do it, and how it should be done. Once you see the productivity
gains that can be realized from this empowerment, then throw that money that you will
waste on more management at those who are making it happen, not the watchers
from the sidelines.
Never Pay a Ticket Through the Registration Process
Brian Reeves, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year I had an outstanding ticket on my registration renewal notice.
It's a ticket that I disputed, but that's another story. I paid the $95 that the notice
said I owed ($65 registration, $10 residential parking permit, $20 ticket). A few weeks
later, I received my new '99 stickers. A few weeks after that, I received another
outstanding ticket notice. I went down to DMV and explained that I paid the
ticket as part of my registration. The woman I spoke with explained that DMV and
adjudication are on different computer systems and that they (DMV) probably did not mark
the ticket as paid in the other (Adjudication) computer system. She assured me that she
would take care of it.
One year later.... Low and behold, my registration renewal came in the
mail yesterday. That outstanding ticket is STILL on there. I called DMV this morning. They
are requiring me to send them a copy of the canceled check to prove that I paid $95 last
year. My bank doesn't return checks, so I have to get Citibank to send me a copy of the
check (cost $5) so that I can send that to DMV. The moral of the story? This still appears
to be a problem (even under the new and improved DC government). I'd advise you to not get
tickets in the first place. But if you do and it's on your registration renewal form. Go
to Adjudication and pay the ticket first. Then go to DMV to renew your registration with
your receipt from adjudication in hand (or mail them a copy of the receipt along with your
registration). Otherwise, you will be sorry like me.
Middle Class Parking Tickets
Connie Ridgway, email@example.com
Although I am all for the police cracking down on street crime, I object
to people saying that middle class taxpayers should not have their cars ticketed. We're
all entitled to some form of sanction if we break the law.
Notes on DC's Symbols of Municipal Governance
Mark Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
DC has trouble holding onto its City Halls, along with its limited
self-government. Here is some of the story as I understand it so far. Rhodes Tavern, built
Federal style in 1799 under Washington's and Jefferson's design specs at 15th and F
Streets NW, was Washington City's first City Hall. In 1801, it opened as a hotel, and was
used as City Hall and civic center, hosting meetings for the city's first civic groups,
labor organizations, and militia. The first DC municipal elections were held in 1802
90% eligible voter turnout. The P Street Inhabitants and Proprietors
Association, the first neighborhood group, was organized and met there. The city's
first theater, public market and schools emerged from Rhodes Tavern under leadership of
elected officials like Mayor Brent, City Council Chair Daniel Carroll, and Councilman
James Hoban. The building's rich history is documented by Historian Nelson Rimensnyder. In
1983, DC Citizens passed Initiative 11, establishing an advisory commission to negotiate
preservation and restoration. Despite the effort led by Joseph Grano, it was demolished by
Oliver Carr, Jr., in 1984. DC school children collected pennies for a plaque and asked
Carr to put it on the side of his imperial style pride, but the King of Parking refused.
Mortimer Zuckerman bought it in 1998 and agreed to add the plaque. It went up on June 7,
1999 fifteen years later.
The first officially constructed City Hall was designed by George Hadfield
in 1819 at the north end of John Marshall Place. The municipal government proposed a
lottery, but later funded it with $100,000. It cost $150,000. It is one of DC's best
examples of Greek Revival architecture. Constance Green wrote that Congress in 1823
contributed $10,000 in exchange for the rent-free use of one wing of the two winged
building for the circuit court. It soon became a symbol to them that DC residents
live altogether out of [the federal] Treasury and the Members and persons who are
necessarily here at the sitting of Congress. When Lincoln was assassinated, DC
citizens commissioned and placed the first sculpture in his honor in front of City Hall --
it is there today. It was abandoned as City Hall in 1871 when the feds merged the cities
and county into a District with a Territorial government. The DC government was paid
$75,000 for it in 1873, when the feds took it over for the courts, DC citizens lost home
rule, and were placed under three federally appointed commissioners. There is still no
plaque on the building. Under the Home Rule government, the District Courts were housed
there, DC was responsible for costs (I've been told pre-Home Rule buildings are owned by
the feds, control is delegated to DC; land is federal reservation.). The feds took over DC
Courts in 1997.
DC's current official/symbolic City Hall, The District/John Wilson
building, was built by the commissioners. Congress appropriated $550,000 (I'm uncertain if
it was DC money). The site cost $550,000, the building $1,950,000. Cope and Stewardson of
Philadelphia designed it, Adoph de Nesti did the statuary (Justice and Law stand over the
main entrance other figures represent sculpture, painting, architecture, music,
commerce, engineering, agriculture, and statesmanship), James Parsons of DC constructed
it. The white marble is from South Dover, NY. Work started in 1904 on the bluish clay and
gravel bed of Tiber Creek. The foundation is formed of over 4,000 piles from 25'-60' in
length, topped by granite blocks 1' thick and 2' wide, covered by 4' of hydraulic cement
concrete covered with 8 layers of water-proof paper saturated with coal-tar and oil, each
1/8th inch with bituminous cement between each layer, covered by 4' of hydraulic cement.
The cornerstone was placed in 1905, and a copper box with documents about the
establishment of DC was imbedded in the brick foundation wall a few feet below the street
level at the northeast corner. It was dedicated on July 4, 1908. As DC's infrastructure
crumbled under financial strain, so did City Hall and once again, officials rented
it to the feds for money. The Council Chair whose name the building bears committed
suicide. The feds (EPA) are scheduled to move into over half the building, and the DC
government will continue to rent office space. The building sits smack in the National
Capital Service Area (NCSA), symbolizing the importance of municipal government in a
city dominated by federal government interests, according to Buildings of the
DC. The NCSA would likely remain under exclusive legislative authority of Congress if
District citizens are allowed to retrocede or become a state.
In past postings I've discussed the multi-person business that is being
run out of a house on my block. Based on a phone message I received this morning, it
appears that the situation will soon be resolved. I was told that the resident of the
house met with zoning administrator Johnson who said that he would not issue a permit for
this business to continue. He then gave them 30 days to move the business out of the
house. In short, the DC Government did its job. The inspector responded promptly and the
zoning administrator applied the law. I'm sorry that this situation occurred in the first
place, but I'm pleased that the DC Government did a good job of responding.
Full Disclosure Re Denver Teachers
Paul Penniman, email@example.com
Some more details regarding the Denver teachers' voluntary merit pay plan,
according to last week's Times: the merit pay is on top of the current schedule
of pay for the 450 teachers (out of 4300) who have signed up to participate, not an
alternative to the usual system. For signing up, the teachers will automatically receive
$500. They would receive an additional $1000 if a majority of their students improve. So
we are not talking about altruistic mavericks here.
What does improve mean? There are several groups of schools, each with a
different yardstick. One group will simply use the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a fact that
troubles me very much, given the lack of reliability standardized tests (the lazy
way out, as Ted Sizer put it in the recent Newsweek cover story about testing). A
second group will use tests and written work given by the teacher. The third group will
include teachers who are taking a development course. The last two plans seemed murky in
the article I read. At the end of a trial period of two years, a combination of school
officials and union members might recommend that this system replace the old salary
structure for the entire school system.
Prediction: in two years, either they take the lazy way out (option #1) or
get bogged down in arguing about option #2 or #3. School choice, anyone?
Teachers Union Strikes Again
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
In another blow that will hurt the Districts' public school students, a
Teachers' Union inspired policy has been issued by the DCPS that requires instructors and
part-time teachers employed by PTAs to have provisional certification. This policy is a
save jobs for the union policy that will preclude well qualified instructors
and part time teachers from helping in the development of District students. Most of these
instructors and part time teachers are specialists in their field and eminently qualified
to teach what they are teaching. Salaries for the part time teachers, in many cases, are
paid out of PTA funds contributed by parents of students in a school.
It is folly to insist on certification for those who have
demonstrated the ability to help the Districts' students in favor of certified
personnel who likely will be far less capable in the subject being taught, far less
experienced in teaching that subject and, in general, not available or willing to teach in
the District. This is a policy that should hastily be withdrawn and stuffed back into the
Teachers' Union's craw (or some other likely place).
The operation of Metro is so bad that I am considering buying a car. It
does not run on a schedule and there is certainly no such thing as rush hour service, the
maintenance problems are not being handled in a timely fashion, very few of the operators
or station attendants are pleasant to tourist or local residents, the running of the green
line on the red line tracks results in a lot of delays and confusion, the cars are getting
dirty and very little enforcement of the no eating/drinking/loud radio playing (the
discussion about the person fined $10 for drinking water reflects the hit and miss of
enforcement), and, in general, the price we pay is getting close to not being worth it.
Maybe we should improve public transit, especially during the rush hour,
and make it free, including free parking at outlying stations, while either charging an
arm and a leg to bring a car into the city during rush hour, exempting only bona fide
delivery vehicles, or banning private autos entirely between 6-9 am and 4-6 pm.
Metro Operations III
Mark Serva, email@example.com
There seems to be a little known fact about our Metro system. When the
Metro was designed the team of planners wanted to make its design life 100 years. However,
due to the high construction costs of a 100 year Metro, the politicians (who would all be
retired or deceased by the time problems started to mount) decided to make its design life
50 years. Hence, some of the original stations as well as most of the tunneling is
reaching its half life of 25 years. Although this decision saved considerable sums in the
construction it will lead to more frequent and worse equipment failures, leakage and
escalating repair and maintenance costs.
I am told (sorry I can't name the source) that at least one station has
two 6" pipe diesel pumps, pumping water 24 hours a day to keep the station from
flooding. Certainly, Metro can keep all the leaks and such plugged or pumped for an
indefinite amount of time. Nonetheless, we should prepare ourselves for the real cost of
keeping this vital system working and perhaps someday rebuilt. In many ways, our
politicians repeated the same mistakes we allowed them to make in the design and
construction of our Beltway.
I ride the Metro at least three or more times a week. I have run into
reasonably short delays on a few occasions. Sometimes the Metro is crowded; however, those
riding the Metro are generally polite to others. I find the attendants helpful. On a few
occasions I have called the Metro customer service and asked for better maintenance of the
metro station. From my experiences on riding the Metro for a decade or more, I have been
delighted with the overall service. I believe that Metro service is one of the best things
that have ever happened to DC. I love Metro.
It's not just the delays that bother me. The elevators are out of service;
so are many of the escalators. And there aren't enough security guards to protect adult
commuters from out-of-control teenagers.
Tenley Library Book Sale
Mary Lou Fahey, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Friends of the Tenley Library will hold its semi-annual book sale at
the library on Saturday, September 25, from noon until 4:00 p.m. Members of the Friends of
the Tenley Library will be admitted to the sale at 11:00 a.m. (You can join on the day of
the sale.) Paperbacks are a bargain at $.25 each, hardbacks for $1. The library is located
at Wisconsin Ave. and Albemarle Street, N.W, (across the street from the Tenleytown Metro
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
The Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW) a 501c(3) non-profit,
all-volunteer organization ( http://www.paw-rescue.org
) is selling Entertainment Books to raise money for homeless dogs and cats. The
Entertainment Book costs $35 and provides hundreds of dollars worth of coupons for fine
dining, fast food, hotels, car rentals, airline tickets, theater and symphony tickets,
movie theaters, dry cleaning, movie rentals, car washes, oil changes, etc, etc. Books are
currently available for Virginia/DC, Maryland/DC, and Baltimore. In addition, books for
cities across the country can be ordered. They make great gifts! Visa and Mastercard
accepted. Please contact Stacey Patmore at DaisyPatmore@earthlink.net
or (202) 333-8486.
Because I'm in Vermont where such things are needed, I've moved to an AWD
car, and I'm selling my lovingly maintained 1987 Volvo 240 DL station wagon. It's very
sparing of gas and oil, 118K, auto, AC, cruise control, roof rack, stereo, and snow tires
on two extra wheels. Price, $4000. Call 202-362-1977 and tell whoever answers that Judy
Looking for a One Bedroom
Alec Walen, email@example.com
I'm moving to town some time in October, and would like to find a nice 1BR
apartment, available at latest October 15, in a small building or private home, either in
NW DC, or the near suburbs, from Glen Echo to Bethesda to Takoma Park to Silver Spring. I
come with an 8 year old cat who has always been an outdoor guy, so it needs to be on a
quiet street. My price range is up to $1200/month. I'm a non-smoking biker who'd most like
to be near to either the Capital Crescent trail or Rock Creek Parkway. Any leads
appreciated. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at (301) 469-6969, where I'm
staying while I look.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, email@example.com
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
FALLING DOWN ON CEREMONY: While Mayor Anthony A. Williams may be a political novice, he
has enough sense not to turn down an appearance before thousands of the District's senior
citizens, a block of motivated voters that the mayor's predecessors curried favor with at
every opportunity. Williams attempted to follow in their footsteps last Thursday at
Elderfest! 1999, an event designed to showcase the talent and creativity of District
Perhaps skittish about trumping his elders, the mayor delivered a performance low on both.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/lips.html
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early
warnings for upcoming events:
TUESDAY: Neil Gaiman reads from his short fiction at 7:30 p.m. at Bethesda Theatre Cafe,
7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. $20-$50 (proceeds benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense
THURSDAY: Joey Garfield's documentary Breath Control: A History of the Human
Beatbox, at 1 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden's Ring Auditorium,
7th and Independence Avenue SW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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