Newcomer Dru Sefton seeks advice on what the benefits are of living in DC,
as opposed to the suburbs. Do you have any answers? How would you try to convince someone
moving to the metropolitan area to live within our fair city?
Speed bumps are popular with themail readers, at least on their own blocks
and corners. Let's hear more; once you get off of your own quiet residential block, do you
want to drive to work or shopping over speed bumps?
Hi all, thought I would bring you up to date on DC Dog Coalition (DCDC),
seeing as how the organization was started on themail. We were formed to fight the banning
of certain breeds of dogs, so-called pit bulls, from DC. There is a very nice
article in City Paper this week about us. I would just like to add a few things
not covered in the article, which may astound and amaze you. 1) Some Councilmembers
support the bill banning pit bulls (Bill 13-135) without even so much
as calling the Department of Health to get a grip on precisely what the problem is. They
do not even have any statistics on dog bites in the District. DCDC had to do this by
filing an FOIA request. More entertainment will result! 2) Councilmember Graham refers to
an instance where a constituent had to fend off a pit bull with a garbage can
lid, after the thing killed a cat. What is not mentioned is that the city, through the
normal administrative procedure for adjudicating dog bite cases, ruled that the person in
question in fact provoked the attack, and was trespassing. 3) Through the existing
administrative procedure, not a single pit bull has been deemed
"dangerous" by the city.
4) This law, if passed, will result in dozens, if not hundreds, of dogs
rounded up and killed (the Humane Society term euthanasia does not apply, as
that is taking the life of a human or animal which is already suffering). The vast
majority of these pose no danger to the public, and have not bitten anyone. Who will be
responsible for this roundup? The police, that's who. So, in a city with over two hundred
murders a year and over 1,000 assaults, our police will be playing dogcatcher, rounding up
dogs which do not bite. Since an animal is property, they will require a warrant to do so
legally. In these cases, our police will be spending time waiting in line to get warrants
from a judge to round up dogs that do not bite. Oh, and by the way, you are approximately
4 to 5 times more likely to be MURDERED in the District of Columbia than bitten not
killed, just bitten by a pit bull. You are many times more likely to be
assaulted or raped. But don't bother calling a policeman he's busy rounding up
Fido! 5) The Washington Humane Society supports this ban a bizarre stance given
that their own animal control officers are on record as stating that irresponsible owners
and dog abusers are at the root of the problem, and not the dogs themselves. Why? They'll
tell you that 1/3 of the dogs that come into the shelter are pit bulls. So
because of this storage problem, we have to separate fine dogs from fine homes, so WHS can
kill them. If anyone can please explain how this is humane or ethical
treatment please respond. 6) Cleveland and Cincinnati, the first major cities to try
such a thing, are reversing their bans. The cost of housing an animal while its fate was
decided was $2500 per dog. The taxpayers paid. Dog bite incidents did not decline. The ban
made owners so angry that a lot of money had to be spent installing security equipment at
animal shelters, and assaults occurred.
Anyway, thank you everyone for your support. Take a look at our web page,
we'd like to hear from you. We've just scratched the surface you'll be reading
more! DC Dog Coalition: http://members.xoom.com/dcdcoalition/
Last issue, Helen Hagerty noted the unfortunate proclamation of Don King
Day here in DC. Lest anyone think he's merely some harmless, colorful boxing
character with wacky hair, let's please not forget that in the late '60s
in his previous occupation as a numbers runner he beat a man to death. I
seem to recall there was some murkiness as to how he got out of that with only a
manslaughter conviction and 4 years in prison. Of course, King likes to remind people that
he came out of jail totally reformed (shades of Malcolm X, another numbers runner saved in
prison), but he's been the subject of multiple investigations regarding fraud, in
connection with the management of his boxers' finances. While he is a great promoter, many
in the boxing press have strongly criticized his relationship with the young (mostly
black) men he manages, characterizing him as exploitative to the extreme. While under the
Barry administration, a Don King Day would simply be par for the course, I'm a bit
surprised to see Mr. Evans involved in this.
Richard Stone Rothblum, email@example.com
If managed competition is forcing governmental service providers to
compete with private contractors for the right to provide services, this is an idea that
has been around for a long time in the Navy. I watched these exercises in futility for
years at the David Taylor Model Basin, where I worked. With few exceptions, the
government's in-house providers got to define the problem, define their contribution, and
define the cost of their contribution. The private contractors never had a chance, and
there was no independent review of the process. For example, our in-house transportation
department defined their job in part as providing a taxi service that would
pick up anyone anywhere on the base and transport them to where they wanted to go, as a
private taxi service would. They defined the in-house cost of this in the most favorable
light to them, ignoring many ancillary costs, such as training, insurance, rent, and many
capital investments. After the in-house people won the contract to provide the
services, they then reneged on providing the services. This farce took place annually, and
did nothing but undermine morale and waste time and money.
Same Thing Over in London
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
As I read the Daily Telegraph a couple of Saturdays ago in london
while on the way to a grand two week vacation in Spain, I thought I might just be reading
an article in the Washington Post. Seems they have the same problems on the UK
side of the pond with their public schools that we have in the District. There is public
outcry for vouchers that will allow all students to attend the school of their choice,
either public or private.
Not too many years ago the British public schools were noted for their
high standards and results. Socialism ruined these schools much like the Teachers' Unions
have ruined the public schools in the U.S. It is interesting to note that the public
schools in Ireland never succumbed, and their public schools are still performing as
intended and providing an excellent education to all Irish students, even those in the
cities of Ireland.
District Government Numerology
Mark Eckenwiler, email@example.com
Ralph Blessing recently suggested that the Citywide Call Center (727-1000)
deserves a grade of D. While I'm not sure I'd mark them down that low, I agree that the
CCC isn't exactly the answer to our prayers. In my experience, it is not a good idea to
rely on the Call Center alone. It adds another layer of bureaucracy, introduces some
additional delay, and makes it harder to push for results if you're calling for a second
or third time about the problem. Call them in addition to the specific agency responsible
for dealing with your issue, if you call them at all.
BTW, I've created a very no-frills web page listing useful DC government
numbers, along with my highly opinionated musings on the best way to
cajole/induce/browbeat DC government agencies into providing the municipal services you
Parts of the page are specific to my local PSA (so sue me); the rest may be of value to
anyone in the District. Comments welcome. (And yes, I'll HTMLize the page someday in my
Copious Free Time.)
Before we spend too much time discussing the pros and cons of speed bumps,
it would be helpful to get the definitive word on their legality in DC. At a recent ANC
meeting, a DPW higher up repeated the oft quoted statement that speed bumps are not
permitted in DC. I've heard the same from a number of DC police officials. However,
Councilmember Graham identifies a location where the bumps are, in fact, already in place.
Likewise, last week's Northwest Current reported that speed bumps were to be
installed presumably by DPW on a short side street in Woodley Park. Does
anyone out there know what DC's official policy on speed bumps really is?
Speed bumps are the most idiotic traffic control solution ever to be
invented. Try driving over them with someone who is infirm, sick or injured. If a driver
is determined to speed, the bumps are little deterrent, but might serve to throw a
speeding vehicle out of control. Everyone wants traffic to proceed apace, except through
his own neighborhood. This is known as Not In My Back Yard and is not a
tenable approach to anything. Why don't we just let the potholes do the job?
Please, please, please, NO speed bumps on the streets they are as
bad as I ever want them to be already.
Rumble Strips and Speed Bumps
Jessica Vallette, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quite possibly rumble strips would severely cut down on the number of cars
that try to pass on the right where 11th Street, S Street, and Vermont Avenue converge.
The northbound lanes of 11th Street narrow from 3 lanes to 1 just after southbound Vermont
Ave. empties out onto 11th. Many drivers don't see the lanes narrowing or just chose to
ignore traffic stopped at the light at Vermont and 11th streets. One accident was so bad
that a taxi narrowly missed my fiancé as he was working in our back yard after hopping
the curb (the taxi took out 5 fences and landed in a brick wall).
The traffic on 11th Street needs to be slowed down and one good way would
be to install rumble strips between S Street and Vermont Ave. in the right hand lane of
northbound 11th street. To further slow the traffic that speeds up after the light at this
intersection to catch the U Street light, a speed bump is needed at 11th and T Streets
(only because DC refuses to install a 4-way stop at this very dangerous intersection).
In 1996, I had the opportunity to interview Karen Benefield (then) of the
Design, Engineering, and Construction division of DPW, for an article on speed bumps and
humps in the Takoma Voice. At that time, Benefield described the lack of success
with DC's pilot speedhump program on 46th St. (dating back to the early 80's). She said
the program was ultimately squelched by the Corporation Council, out of fear of
liabilities arising from placing obstructions in a public roadway. However, reflecting on
the popularity of speed bumps and humps in the 'burbs, Benefield told me she
would like to revisit the issue. I attempted to reach her by phone recently; the phone
call was not returned.
Living on Aspen St. NW, which in the past ten years has evolved from a
relatively quiet residential lane to a significant commuter cut-through, I heartily
support placement of speed humps. The steeper, the better, too. Nor would I object to a
front-foot type tax assessment for the purpose.
Randi Rubovits-Seitz, email@example.com
We on Woodley Place will be delighted to have speed bumps on our block. We
hope there will be several, to prevent speeding up to or just after the bump. If we could
get red-light-runner cameras at Connecticut and Calvert, that would be very useful, too.
Who are the government officials we should contact about this?
Elizabeth M Wulkan, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am unilaterally in favor of any means to slow traffic in D.C. A few
years ago, a man waiting for a bus in my neighborhood (Alaska Avenue and Geranium Street
NW) was killed by a speeding car that jumped the curb at the bus stop. The city declined
to install a traffic light, even after the neighbors collected a petition with dozens of
signatures and went to hearings. Traffic still speeds from Georgia Avenue to 16th Street.
If a light is not possible, any other means to slow traffic is welcome not just on
Alaska Avenue but throughout Shepherd Park, other neighborhoods, and city-wide.
Slowing down cross-town traffic on Q Street NW is a concern of many of my
neighbors. Commuters use Q St. as a quick eastern route to NY Avenue or N. Capitol
(sometimes I fan my ire by counting the MD license plates). Problem is, Q Street is all
residential past Dupont Circle. There are lots of kids walking home from Seaton Elementary
(10th & R), Shaw JHS (11th) and Ujoma Elementary (8th & Q). Commuters could use RI
or FL Ave. or P St. but like the directness of Q because of one-way traffic lights that
seem to favor a +35 mph speed and no city busses to jostle with. We constantly have cars
flying down Q from the turn-off from RI through to FL. We've had more than one incident in
the last year of a child being hit by a car (thankfully no serious injuries but
it's only a matter of time). Our local ANC recently asked DPW to install a stop sign at
the intersection between 7th and 6th Sts. in the hopes it would force drivers to slow
down. He was told no can do because Q is designated a cross-town thoroughfare. Perhaps I'm
ignorant in the ways of urban planning, but why is a wholly residential, one way street
that harbors several schools being preserved as a thoroughfare when avenues like RI (three
lanes each way and left hand turn lanes) and FL (granted, FL dumps traffic rather
awkwardly onto NY Ave. but you wouldn't avoid this if you took Q instead) seem
designed for heavy traffic. I myself use Q St. a lot to cross town but would gladly accept
speed bumps, at least at certain blocks where schools guarantee a heavy flow of child
pedestrians, as a necessary inconvenience.
I am wildly enthusiastic about speed bumps. We live on a one-way street
with a stop sign at 5th Street, NE, and a traffic signal at 6th Street, NE. When a car is
approaching the stop sign at 5th Street and can see the light is green on 6th Street, the
driver floors the gas and roars down our block at unbelievable speeds. We have older
citizens, kids, and dogs living in our block, and I am just waiting for one of them to get
smashed by these drivers.
Traffic Calming in the Wild-Eyed City
Steph Wearing my traffic safety hat today Faul, email@example.com
Washington definitely needs calmer traffic, and calmer drivers wouldn't
hurt either. However. The most effective local example of traffic calming is, of course,
Tim McVeigh Park in front of the White House, but it's possible to take less
drastic measures and still make life safer for pedestrians. Dozens of techniques are
available, including installing mini-traffic circles, as has been done in Seattle and
Portland, to visually narrowing streets with paint on the pavement, as has been
half-heartedly attempted on Western Avenue west of River Road.
Speed bumps/humps tend to irritate drivers, while other devices such as
bulb-outs and chicanes can be more user-friendly. Textured paving is also effective at
slowing traffic, which is one reason some of us actually LIKE our potholes. The Dutch have
a concept called woonerf, which basically means that streets should be livable
and usable for all types of traffic, including playing children, cyclists, pedestrians,
and automobiles. We could use more of it here, that's for sure. For additional information
about traffic calming techniques, see these sites:
Montgomery County: http://www.clark.net/pub/dsmith/kchoa/traffic/
General traffic calming strategies and pedestrian protection:
Gandhi and Collective Heroism
Jonetta Rose Barras, firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Seftor and others miss the point of Gandhi's comment. They may want
to revisit the history of slavery in America. Then, tens of thousands of Africans snatched
from their homelands and robbed of their dignity, believed the only vehicle for restoring
that dignity and controlling their destiny was, in fact, to take their own lives. It
denied their captors the pleasure of stripping them of their humanity while casting them
as animals. A man like Gandhi ,who not only believed in non-violent civil disobedience but
also the ability of a people to alter their destiny using this seemingly benign weapon,
could only have meant to communicate what slaves already knew long before he began his
fight with the British and long before Hitler ever thought of world domination.
As to his off-handed comment about the representation of Asian and Pacific
Islanders in the mayor's office, Mr. Seftor should be careful. He forgets the history of
Jews in this country and their struggle for access and equality. If he doesn't like the
statue of Gandhi, that's one thing, but there's no need to taint a great man's reputation
or cast aspersion on the government's attempt to serve all its citizens.
Not Everything Is a Case of Anti-Semitism
Larry Seftor, Larry_Seftor@compuserve.com
Unfortunately David Sobelsohn misrepresented my comments about Gandhi. I
never claim that he was anti-Semitic. I simply argued that there is a case to be made
against placing a statue of Gandhi in D.C. I believe in free speech and the right of
anyone, including Gandhi admirers, to advocate pretty much whatever they want. However,
providing Government support in this case by providing public space for a statue
implies admiration and some sense of support for the associated views. We live in
an age where suppressive Governments are giving way, leading to a resurgence of ethnic
rivalries, and instances of ethnic cleansing. By this I mean that one group doesn't simply
want to gain an advantage, but wants to wipe out/exterminate another group. I don't
believe that this is something that citizens of the U.S. (excluding Pat Buchanan) can
tolerate, or would support (hence our recent bombing campaign in Europe). I find the
concept of standing by and letting one group of people butcher another group of people
reprehensible. I don't think it is what American's believe, and I don't think a public
space should be given to someone who advocated this position in the quote I recently
The Vibrant Cities of Europe
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
After ten two week holiday trips to Europe over the last twenty years I
have concluded that the Europeans really know how to take care of their aging cities. The
last two weeks were spent in Spain in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville. All of
these cities are vibrant. They are alive with residents from early morning until late at
night. Most of these folks live and work right in their city. Apartments right in amongst
the commercial areas assure that these areas do not go to sleep after the work force goes
home. In Spain many of the shops close from 2 PM until 5 PM for a big meal and a siesta
(that sounds pretty good to me). Traffic in these big cities (all averaging nearly a
Million in population) is very heavy but also very fast moving. You must pay careful
attention to the walking green man light.
The city governments and the State Governments seem to spend a good deal
of budget on maintaining their cities and it shows. In Barcelona all the new expansion of
the city (which began almost seven hundred years ago) was done with an interesting plan.
At every intersection of two right angled streets, the corners of the building are lopped
off at a forty five degree angle. This gives every intersection the appearance of being an
open square. Actually quite clever, and it really enhances the appearance of the streets.
Perhaps converting more of the run down office structures in the city to apartments and
condos would enable D.C. to become a more vibrant city. Someone recently suggested that
for the old EPA office building down on Maine Avenue. Not a bad start, perhaps.
CLASSIFIEDS RECOMMENDATIONS WANTED AND GIVEN
Hello! I'm new to the area, as well as to this list. My husband and I are
house hunting and find ourselves overwhelmed with the all the various possibilities:
Maryland, Virginia, Annapolis, Inside/Outside the Beltway, this county, that county. What
I'd like to ask of all of you is, what are the benefits of living in the District? Other
than being closer to downtown, that is. And how about the disadvantages does it
bother you not having national political representation, for instance? And are the rats
really *that* bad? Thanks for any feedback!
Old College and Legal Textbooks
Clare Feinson, firstname.lastname@example.org
You're in luck Politics and Prose is collecting books, especially
educational and legal books, for a books in prison project. I just took all the rest of my
law school books up there tonight and it felt wonderful it beats using the books to
press salmon (see 29 Reasons Not to Become a Lawyer -- great book!).
Old College and Legal Textbooks
Austin Kelly, email@example.com
Rachel Hines asks about donating old textbooks. If they are still fairly
current (not Lotus 2.0 for DOS texts, for instance), the Civic Education Project
occasionally ships donated textbooks to Eastern European universities. They can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a CEP alum (Bulgaria, 92-93)
I can assure you that the odds of the books actually reaching the shelves of a university
are much better than average. CEP has lecturers in the universities where the books are
donated, and they do check up on these things.
Guide to Private Schools
Sarah Eilers, email@example.com
Does anyone know where I can find a written guide to area (mainly DC)
private schools? If so, please e-mail me at the above address. Any other pointers on the
whole information gathering, testing, school application process would be appreciated as
Masonry/Plumbing/Chimney Recommendations Wanted
Mark Eckenwiler, firstname.lastname@example.org
My house needs some repair work on the exterior window seams (gap between
window frame and brick) and a couple of other leaky brickwork spots (e.g., where an
exhaust vent passes through an exterior wall). I'm looking for suggestions on a reasonably
priced, competent masonry service. Also needed: suggestions for heating/plumbing repair
and chimney service. Bonus points for businesses located on Capitol Hill.
Public Utility Deregulation Electric, Gas,
Evelyn Mittman Wrin, email@example.com
On Tuesday, October 19, Elizabeth Noel, People's Counsel, will discuss
public utility deregulation at a meeting of Chevy Chase Citizens Association. The meeting
is at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at St. John's College High School, Military Road &
27th St. NW. [Use the driveway on 27th St. near Military Road to park and enter the
building.] Representatives of the utility companies have been invited. The meeting is open
to all interested persons. For further information call 202.244.5744.
Give History for the Holidays! Do You Know Your
Paul Kelsey, PkelseyW@aol.com
You should! Let us research the owners, architects, and builders
associated with your historic house or building in DC. Find out who they were and where
they worked! Its great for renovations, as a marketing tool for sellers, or provides that
perfect gift for someone who has everything. Photos, maps, and written research presented
in a full color chronological report at reasonable prices by professional historic
preservationists. For more information or a free estimate contact Paul Williams at Kelsey
& Associates at (202) 462-6251 or http://www.ustreet.com/pkelsey.
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