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September 29, 1999

The Millennium Is Coming, The Millennium Is Coming

Dear Century Turners:

A couple people wrote to themail asking what would happen in DC to celebrate the New Year, but intervening press conferences actually gave us some information, so we don't have to share our collective wisdom. In case you missed the news, the article is in today's Post

So what are you going to do? Go down to the Mall to see Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, and B.B. King? Go to Versailles for their recreation of a Louis XIV banquet? Go to the International Date Line to be the first to see in the new year? Fall asleep at home at 10:00 p.m.? Let us know if you have a good idea that you want to share with others.

Gary Imhoff


A Symbol of Home Rule That We Don't Need
Sharon Cochran,

I can't the believe the City Council is running to “daddy” (President Clinton) on behalf of home rule! The City Council has sent a letter to President Clinton asking him to order the EPA not to move into the Wilson Building because they want even more space in the building. They will have offices in the newly renovated building, but they want even more, at a cost to DC taxpayers of $60 million or more. I love the Wilson Building, but not at this cost to the DC taxpayer. The City Council and its own employees made a contract with the GSA and Conrad Monts. They have lost a court battle with Monts and have resorted to writing a letter to President Clinton. This rip-off of the taxpayer, incompetence of the city council's oversight of even its own employees, and inability to keep a contract is one historic symbol of
home rule that we can do without. We can wait until the GSA leases run out and the Wilson Building spaces are returned as contracted.


Ramsey Provides Cops to MCI Center & Chevy Chase Pavilion, Citizens Foot The Bill
Bryce A. Suderow,

Ralston Cox notes that Ramsey has promised to provide police officers for the new business interests at Columbia Heights. Cox asks whether any other private businesses gets MPD protection at taxpayer expense. I know of two such businesses. The MCI Center gets DC cops who act in effect as security guards. My PSA sergeant told me that on any given night there are a dozen cops assigned over there, and they are taken from our already under strength PSAs, and what's more, the taxpayers foot the bill.

The Chevy Chase Pavilion also gets MPD cops, who walk the beat inside. Carl Rowan, Jr., tells me that not all the merchants are happy about the arrangement because the cops tend to hang out in the businesses instead of patrolling. One merchant complained to their sergeant and told him, “I don't want cops in my business. The customers don't want to see them.” The sergeant yelled at the officers assigned and told them to stick to their beat.

Apparently Chief Ramsey does not want citizens to know how their tax dollars are being squandered. I protested the deployment of cops at the MCI Center during my testimony before the Judiciary Committee one Tuesday afternoon in June, with Ramsey sitting across the aisle from me. I mentioned the fact that I'd gotten my information from my sergeant. Three days later, Ramsey or one of his underlings tried to punish her for sharing information with the the community by transferring her out of our PSA. Fortunately, Sharon Ambrose helped us get our sergeant back.


Chevy Chase Community Center Again
Ted Gest,

Does anyone else share my dismay about the continued construction delays at the Chevy Chase Community Center? This was supposed to be a 6-month project starting last November. Now, it seems we'll be fortunate if it can open after a year. The year 2000 seems a possibility. A story in the Northwest Current indicates that the District and the contractor share the blame, but among the things that bother me is the attitude of some of those who have been involved, e.g.,: one city official told me that we should expect construction projects to take at least twice as long as projected. Is that supposed to be the norm? Another person following the project has repeatedly told me that other areas of the District are more deserving of rec center improvements. Let's assume that is true. Does that mean we should tolerate indefinite delays just because we're talking about an upper-class neighborhood? Not in my mind. It's fine for more deserving areas to get priority. But why start a project that you can't finish when promised? (Yes, I know there have been unexpected developments like the discovery of asbestos and inadequate electric service, but shouldn't this have been anticipated before the building was closed for a year?)


Putting Cartography Before the Horse
Mark Eckenwiler,

Nick Keenan upbraids DCPS for treating school boundaries as if they were classified information, and I agree. However, this isn't anything Ackerman brought in with her. When I made a pre-move visit to DC three years to find suitable housing on Capitol Hill — preferably within the boundary of the DCPS cluster schools (Peabody, Watkins, Stuart-Hobson) — I got exactly the same run-around in the course of half a dozen calls. Ackerman has to bear the blame for this problem's persistence, but she didn't invent it. By the way, I did eventually obtain a map (and list of in-boundary address ranges) for the Capitol Hill cluster schools. So yes, the maps do exist.


Follow Up on School Boundaries
Nick Keenan, Shaw,

On Friday, after I mailed by last posting, I had dinner with a friend who teaches in the DC Public Schools. He had the story of a student who was famous for being a discipline problem. The kid got bounced around because both principals in the two schools closest to his home claimed he was out of boundary and had him transferred.

I have filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the School Department for boundary information, but so far have received no response. I have heard that DCPS has little regard for the spirit or the letter of the Freedom of Information Act, so I am not optimistic that my request will be honored. Are there readers who have experience with FOIA in DC who can share tips on compelling them to fulfill their legal obligation?


School Boundaries in Wonderland
Ralph Blessing, Shepherd Park,

Nick Keenan's experience investigating school boundaries closely parallels my wife's when she called the boundary office to inquire about the fate of Paul Jr. High's current feeder schools, now that it has been approved as a charter school. When she spoke with the office director, she was initially told that, no, Paul was not a charter school. Moments later she got a call back confirming that — oops — the Post article was correct and Paul will, in fact, convert to a charter school next September. As would be expected, though, nothing has yet been done about revising the boundaries. This lack of foresight might have been understandable had there been no advance warning of Paul's attempts to become a charter school. However, those efforts have been in the works, and well publicized, the past couple of years. In fact, the principal at our elementary school, one of Paul's feeder schools, specifically inquired about this very issue 1 1/2 years ago, since there are certain reporting requirements (for downtown, naturally) affected by that information. Needless to say, she has not heard anything about the new boundaries either.


Reno Road Repaving
Fred Davidson,

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The DC Department of Public Works spent weeks repaving Reno Road, which meant gridlock along both Connecticut Avenue, NW and Wisconsin Avenue, NW. They did a decent job repaving it, unlike other streets in upper NW (Albermarle Street between Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenue is so uneven that you could probably slide from one side to another.) However, when it came to painting the yellow line dividing the road (particularly between Macomb St. and Porter St.), you would have thought someone was wearing a blindfold.


Parking Meter Story
Jeffrey A. Menzer,

On August 4th I reported a non-registering meter on Reservoir Road to DPW via their Internet site and requested a refund of my money. I received a canned response from Linda Grant, Director of Public Affairs, that day, but have heard nothing from DPW since then. I E-mailed Ms. Grant on September 22nd, informing her that I have not received a response, she wrote back: “I will ask our Parking Services Division to provide you with the information you need to receive your refund.” My feeling is that the highly touted DPW web site is like many of the highly touted parking meters — put something in, but nothing registers. (I'm now starting with a nickel to see if the meter is working properly.)


Day People and Night People
Ed T. Barron,

There really are two very different types of people when it comes to work and sleep patterns. When I was working a twelve hour (7 pm to 7 am) shift on the launch pad at the Cape, I was in a perpetual fog. I am a genuine day person and hit the rug with a scuff mark as I get out of bed at 5 every morning. The morning is the shank of the day for me and I get my most important work done before noon.

I have great empathy for those police persons who must now face working a 28 day shift from 6 pm until 2 am. Changing shifts is a major disruption to one's circadian rhythm and will likely result in decreased efficiency of those who have not adapted to working a late night shift. This policy of the Police Chief should be selectively employed in those police districts where there is a genuine need for late night/early morning extra policing. It is not easy to change one's working and sleep patterns and to make those changes every two months will cause problems with the police force.


No Freedom for the Whippin’ Boy
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

DC has always had image problems — the riot capital (1914), the murder capital (1941), center of gambling and vice. James Sterling Young showed that during the Jeffersonian years there was a "pronounced antipathy of the governing group [Congress] toward their community," and many who lived here never considered themselves from here, were thankless, indignant, and downright mean, creating “a community at war with itself.” DC is the ugly duckling whose contributions to the nation are ignored, left out of the books. And yet, without ACTIVE national support, DC will hardly win equal rights. I posted a message on a national list serve of pollsters about the Clinton's budget veto. A Cincinnati man sent me this: “If the people of DC could be trusted to elect a government that would actually accomplish something (Democrat or Republican), then maybe Congress would let it have its freedom. As it is they re-elected a drug addict who had already run the city government into the sewer. When the blizzard hit in 96 there were 2 working plows in the entire city dept. of public works. Their new mayor (Anthony Williams was it?) had over 100 ready when the first major storm of his tenure hit. Does that tell you anything about the competency level DC has had to rely on in the past? No wonder Congress has had to oversee them. In my own personal opinion, I wish they'd roll the tanks in and get it over with. (Not that the federal government is any better at not wasting tax dollars or fixing problems, of course).” Well then, take my property away too, why don't ya?!! Even if DC's “municipal trains run on time,”

Its citizens won't be rewarded with freedom (as this person shows, it doesn't matter that Barry is gone and our plows work now — we have a history of being bad). It never works like that. It took a Civil War to free slaves and a civil rights movement to enforce equal rights, a national movement for women to get the vote. We need our mayor to succeed to make our lives better, but also to use success as a platform to speak to full US citizens about DC's contributions to the nation and the moral imperative for equal rights.

I'm working on an analysis of how popular Tourist Guidebooks report about local DC. I'm convinced DC needs to make a concerted effort to exert some control over its image. Most cities have the same problems DC has, but people recognize their benefits and contributions. Rarely so for DC. Here's what Insight Guides — Washington, D.C. tells tourists: “[T]o its inhabitants it is very much an established city — in fact, it would be more true to say that it is four cities. The four faces: There is the Washington that is most generally conjured up the name — the administrative city that governs the vast military and bureaucratic machine that Washington has become. . . . Then there is social Washington, hovering not so discreetly behind the closed doors (to anyone who does not clutch an engraved invitation) of the exclusive salons of Georgetown, Kalorama and Embassy Row. . . . The third Washington is referred to by both its white and its African American residents as 'Chocolate City' — the 70 percent black Washington known as the crack and murder capital of the world. . . . But there is a fourth Washington, and it is this Washington that is finally forcing the capital into becoming a coherent, normal place to live, functioning beyond the shadow of the Capitol. It is the Washington that lies outside the District of Columbia line.” It's good to know the suburbs are starting to make DC more normal, isn't it? Maybe all half-a-million of us just need a good whippin'.


Who’s Got the StarPower?
Janet Hess,

Today the StarPower folks are scheduled to work their magic in our apartment building to prepare for offering TV, Internet and local (and maybe long distance too?) phone service here. Does anyone in themail universe get the whole magilla from StarPower? Are you pleased? I've searched themail's archives and found a report or two praising StarPower's TV service. I suspect, though, that more readers might have signed up for StarPower in the last few months, and I'd love to hear from them. A resident here says that some people have had problems with their local phone service from StarPower, but she didn't have specifics. Does anyone?


Stucco Repair
Elizabeth M Wulkan,

In search of a stucco repair expert to patch some spots on an old (1917) house. Any referrals are appreciated.


One Less Car = Y2K Compliance!
Tony Ross,

“My prediction holds that the Metro and traffic signals in the District will have computer problems that will render traffic a real mess.” — Ed Barron

Luckily — at least for me, and other bikers — my ten year old bike is Y2K compliant and I can avoid the impending chaos predicted by Ed! Yet another of the benefits of biking to work.


Y2K Poetry
Damian Buckley,

I received this E-mail, and would like to pass it on.

'Twas the night before Y2K,
And all through the nation
We'd soon see the bug that
Caused such a sensation.

The chips were replaced
In computers with care,
In hopes that lo' Buggy
Wouldn't stop there.

While some folks could think
They were snug in their beds
Others had visions
Of dread in their heads.

And Ma with her PC,
And I with my Mac
Had just logged on the Net
And kicked back with a snack.

When over the server,
There arose such a clatter
I called Mister Gates
To see what was the matter.

But he was away,
So I flew like a flash
Off to my bank
To withdraw all my cash.

Then word of the shortage,
Caused such a demand
That the money was gone,
And the streets were all jammed.

When what with my wondering eyes
Should I see on my screen
But Millennium Buggy,
This must be a dream!

The hack of all hackers,
Was looking so smug,
I knew that it must be
The Y2K bug!

His image downloaded,
In no time at all,
He whistled and shouted,
“Let all systems fall!”

“Go Intel! Go Gateway!
Now HP! Big Blue!
Everything Compac,
And Pentium too!

“All processors big,
All processors small,
Crash away! Crash away!
Crash away all!”



Taste of Georgetown, Saturday, October 2
Robert Andrew,

From 1 - 4 pm, Saturday, October 2, enjoy Grace Church Fall Festival at 1041 Wisconsin, between C&O Canal and K Street. Free admission, buy fine food samplings for $1 - $3 from over 20 fine Georgetown restaurants. Enjoy music, readings and take part in a Silent Auction. All money raised supports outreach programs. See for full details of restaurants, entertainment, and the auction catalog.


Mt. Pleasant Arts Festival
R.L. Shannon,

Join 20+ artists and craftspeople, D.C. Swing (a swing band), Lamonsters (jazz and rock), Capoiera dancers, African drummers, Mariachis, and Celtic musicians at the first annual Mount Pleasant Arts Festival, October 3, 1:00-6:00 pm, in Lamont Park. Lamont Park is one block off of 16th Street at the intersection of Lamont, 17th, and Mount Pleasant Streets. This event is sponsored in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, and Mount Pleasant Main Street.


Ward 6 Dems on the Census
David Meadows, President, Ward 6 Democrats,

Please announce the Ward 6 Democrats upcoming meeting dealing with the upcoming 2000 census, on Monday, Oct. 4th, at Market 5 Gallery, 7th and South Carolina SE , 6:30 pm until 8 pm, With Guest speakers Sharon Ambrose, DC Council member; Robin Adams, US Census Bureau; and Wanda Alston, DC Census Count Committee.



30 Waiting Kids — Would You Tutor a Teenager?
Susan Ousley,

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church has begun its 38th year of Thursday night tutoring for DC junior and senior high school students and we need help. Students from 40 different schools come with their homework and the need of every child — the undivided attention of a caring adult. We meet from 6:45 to 8:15 and ask you to commit to a full school year. (Most tutors try to stay with their kids through high school graduation and remain lifelong friends.) We also need help in our computer center. Interested? See (Helping Us Serve Others) for more details or call Dave Brown, Co-Director 484-8626.



Short-term Suite Rental Wanted
Gabe Goldberg,

Data Center space or small office suite wanted for three month Internet system test. Local Falls Church, VA, company has immediate requirement for approximately 400 sq. feet of space to install IBM mainframe for test purposes only. Requires 220V AC access and suitable air conditioning. Raised flooring is not required. Any location will be considered, but close to Falls Church is desirable. Please call 703-237-7370 or 800-994-9441 and ask for Manny.


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
COPY CATANIA: At-Large Councilmember David Catania looked as if he'd come up with an innovative public policy last week. At a Sept. 20 press conference, the first-term councilmember proposed privatizing treatment for the substance abusers in the city. The proposal came with Catania's de rigueur proclamation of outrage: “The callous and indifferent treatment of our citizens is unacceptable and inhuman. We must reform the system immediately,” he said, referring to the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA), an appendage of the D.C. health department.
That's what Mayor Anthony A. Williams said back in March.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
SATURDAY: El Vez, with the Machetres, at 9:30 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $10.
SUNDAY: Cleveland Park Day, from noon to 5 p.m. on Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Porter Streets NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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