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November 7, 1999

A Stakeholder Through the Heart

Dear Stakeholders:

Now for a personal gripe. We talk a lot about disenfranchisement and our lack of real power, but for the past several years I've felt that nothing disenfranchised citizens and residents of this city more than the faddish talk about “stakeholders.” Every time a politician talks about “meeting with the stakeholders” and “listening to the stakeholders,” I'm sure that the citizens are going to get the, shall we say, messy end of the stick. Politicians used to talk about answering to the voters and being responsible to their constituents. They may have just talked about it, but at least that was the way they talked. Now they talk about considering the interests of all of the stakeholders, which in itself is a justification for ignoring the needs, wishes, and desires of the citizens and residents. The people who actually live in the city are only one group of stakeholders, often the least and last of those whose interests are considered.

Businesses, big businesses, non-profit organizations, big non-profit organizations, law firms, developers, suburban commuters, suburban city employees, suburban city employees' unions, city contractors — all are stakeholders. When their interests are given equal or greater importance than those of the city's residents, as they so often are, and when the city's decision making processes are weighted so that what is good for the people who live here is only one among many considerations, we all lose, as we have lost so consistently over the years.

So here's my declaration: I'm not a stakeholder. I'm a citizen and a resident of this city, and all the stakeholders can get in line behind me.

Gary Imhoff


Time for a Change at UDC
Ed T. Barron,

If the Senate passes the bill that will provide the option for D.C. students to attend public colleges in MD and VA at local resident tuition rates is passed, then it is timely to make it possible for D.C.'s high school graduates to actually get into these schools. Many of the D.C. high school graduates won't have a prayer of getting into the better MD and VA state funded colleges and universities because they will be too undereducated to qualify for entry into those schools. A solution would be to reinvent UDC as a Jr. College to take the D.C. High School graduates for a year or two to bring them up to the level where they can effectively compete for entry into the better public colleges and universities in VA and MD. Without that remedial preparation very few of D.C.'s students will actually be able to take advantage of this good offer.


Observations on DC Jury Duty
Jon Desenberg,

1) The Judge thanked us repeatedly for showing up because DC has such a hard time finding jurors, yet they had more than 70 people sitting around all day to fill 14 seats. 2) The 300 people in the Jury lounge were overwhelmingly either black residents over 50 or white people under 40. The Defendant was black and under 40, but didn't get any one of that description on the jury. 3) The DC Court's metal detector is turned up incredibly high, much stronger than the airport; it detected the tiny metal screws in my plastic sunglasses.


Celebrating the Millennium (and maybe DC’s Bicentennial)
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park,

I read in the Post this week that DC is hosting a simple millennium celebration to welcome the New Year and that a new DC millennium-bicentennial commission (full of suburbanites) has been organized. In reading this, I wondered whether these were just efforts to gussy up the city and give it a better public image or whether our bicentennial would truly be celebrated by what would be most meaningful — advocating full self-government and representation at all levels of government for the “citizens” of the District of Columbia. The battle over the DC budget should be enough evidence for anyone on how outrageous our current situation is. Unfortunately, I fear that the organizers of these events and commissions merely think of us as their rather docile “subjects” and that it is in their best interest to keep us in that undemocratic status.


Ed T. Barron,

Anyone who thinks that downtown D.C. is dead or dying ought to take a walk on the wild side between 7th and 13th Streets. between F and G NW. It has been a long time since roomie and I were down there, and we were dazzled with all the demolition, bridge cranes, and new construction going on. In a couple of years this place will look great. If developers can be persuaded to include in their redevelopment plans a large number of apartments, this area will be vibrant and alive, and not just during business hours.


17th Street ABC Moratorium — Vital for Neighborhood Balance
Mike Fasano,

I'll try to answer some of Peter Luger's questions. I've lived on 17th Street for 25 years now, and can testify that more bars and ABC seats means more noise, parking problems, etc. But that is not why the 17th Street moratorium is important. It is important because, imperfect as it might be, it is the only way to maintain commercial balance in what is supposed to be a neighborhood commercial zone. Right now, the 2-1/2 block 17th Street strip (from P Street to R Street) has about 20 bars and other alcohol serving establishments, which account for about half of the frontage on the strip.

No one I know doesn't like bars and restaurants. They are a part of my lifestyle. But bars and restaurants can pay higher rents than non-alcohol serving retailers (in part because the District subsidizes them with virtually free outdoor patio space); and when that happens, we get more bars and we lose the retailers who provide goods and services for those who live in the neighborhood. Angie's plant shop will soon be replaced by an extended JR's Bar & Grill. If further lateral expansions happen or if the moratorium is lifted, we could lose our hardware store, our Reincarnations furniture & furnishings shop, our clothing store, our drug store, our pet food store, etc.

When the moratorium was first proposed I thought it was a bad idea. But then I looked at Adams Morgan, which is just about wall to wall bars and where people have to drive out of the neighborhood to get basic staples, and I decided that I didn't want the neighborhood I live in and take pride in to become like that. 17th Street is supposed to be a neighborhood commercial area. It has houses and apartments across the street from commercial activities. We are just trying to maintain some sort of balance in our neighborhood.


The ANC’s and Other Neighborhood Associations
Bob Levine,

I wanted to answer some of Mr. Luger's points regarding liquor licenses and patio restaurant service. First off, I'm a long term resident of upper Georgetown, Wisconsin and Q Street area, not Dupont Circle, but the two areas are similar enough for me to throw my two cents in. Residents of mixed use areas don't want empty storefronts, but bars, clubs, and restaurants are the worst neighbors possible. They bring an increase in noise, rats, traffic, trash, etc. The clubs that I have had to deal with in the Georgetown area do not seem to care what local residents want because the owners and workers don't live in the neighborhood, and they don't care how the operation of their business affects the quality of life in the neighborhood. After many such run-ins the knee jerk reaction is to automatically say no to such new license requests. I think that many residents would look much more fondly at licensing requests if the business owners were more cooperative with local residents in regards to the problems they create but they are not so we are not. Personally I would love to have a good restaurant in my immediate area for the convenience if they would be good neighbors also but the people who proposed plans for my immediate area have not wanted to address such issues and the local residents have blocked the businesses opening. In many cases I have not been able to believe how rude these newcomers have been to the people who live here. It's that simple: the quality of life in the neighborhood supersedes a proposed business expansion or opening and, by the way, the law is on our side.


JR’s Bar Open House
Paul Williams,

Come view our plans to renovate and expand into the vacant building next to JR's. We'll share artist conceptions of our planned “nonsmoking” addition, an enclosed outdoor patio behind JR's, and outdoor patio seating in front of JR's. Our plans also include rest room facilities accessible to those with disabilities. In the vacant building next to JR's, 1521 17th Street NW, Monday, November 8, 1999, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

We know that our customers and neighbors are curious about our plans to renovate and expand. While many of our customers have been hoping for more space and are excited about our plans, some of our neighbors have expressed concerns about how our plans will impact the neighborhood. We want everyone to see our proposal, and look forward to answering your questions and hearing what you think.


Cell Towers in Rock Creek Park
Ann Loikow,

As you may have heard, the NCPC voted 7 to 4 to approve the July 1, 1999, Executive Director's Recommendation (EDR) which recommended approval of the two towers in Rock Creek Park as requested by Bell Atlantic Mobile (BAM). There was a revised EDR based on the NCPC's independent consultant's recommendations to approve only the tower at the Maintenance Yard and to require a different, less obtrusive type of antenna array which was not considered at all. One member was absent, and the 4 DC members (2 citizen and representatives of Mayor and Council) voted no. John Parsons of the National Park Service was the one urging giving BAM everything they asked for. The 3 Presidential appointees (all from elsewhere — NC, VA, MD), the GSA representative, and the Congressional representatives joined him.

The section 106 review in this case was, to put it mildly, a joke. Staff saw a video simulation prepared by Wilkes and Artis of what the towers supposedly would look like and (of course) that you couldn't see them from the "historic viewsheds" (i.e., the Taft Bridge, although the Park Service's Environmental Assessment (EA) said you could). The staff archeologist looked at the plots where they would be built and said they were already developed, so no problem. No one considered anything else, including the fact that there is a well preserved Civil War fort (Fort DeRussy) on a ridge just above the Nature Center and Maintenance Yard 50 yards or so outside the area the Park Service considered to be the “study area” in its Environmental Assessment. This happens to be one of the few Civil War forts that actually saw action as part of the Battle of Fort Stevens, the only Civil War battle to occur in DC and the only battle ever in which an American President was under enemy fire. No one considered the character of the park as a whole either. In all, a farce.

Although at this, as well as the other two NCPC meetings, a number of citizens and organizations testified about the impact of the towers on migratory birds, the Commission (and the Park Service) generally was not interested in seriously considering the towers' effect on the natural landscape. Similarly, although all the witnesses in support organized by Bell Atlantic (using testimony that sounded the same, was typed with the same style and fonts, etc. and for the most part, if they identified themselves, employees of telecommunications related entities) stressed we need cell phones for “safety” reasons, no one seemed very interested (other than the DC Commissioners) in ANC 3F's extensive work analyzing — and debunking — the Park Police's statistics on crime in the park.

Although the NCPC's consultant clearly stated that there would inevitably be a number of other applications for towers once BAM's was approved, this was ignored, as was the recommendation he made (which was contained in the Nov. EDR not acted on) that a comprehensive assessment be made of the capacity of the Park to accommodate more cell towers. No one, even the consultant, seriously looked at alternative technologies that might be considerably less intrusive, even though the consultant found that only area that the towers would help which was truly a dead area was only about a half mile long. Rob Miller and Pat Elwood did their darndest to convince the other commissioners that BAM had not proved its case and there were better options. I would not be surprised to hear that several of the other major telecommunication companies have applications ready to submit and that they will be on the Park Service's desk Monday. The only moral to the story is that big money, especially to powerful Congressmen, carries the day and that so long as DC is effectively disenfranchised, we are pawns in the hands of those representing the rest of the country who have the vote.


Just Say No to Cell Phones in Rock Creek Park
R.J. Fox,

I fully support Ann Loikow's statement to help save Rock Creek Park from cell phones. There is no need to construct cell phone towers in the Park for any purpose other than obvious corporate appeasement by politicians who receive very large donations from companies like Bell Atlantic (e.g., Senator Tom Daschle trying so hard to push this through at any cost). As always, money drives the process. For those who say that cell phones are needed in the park (including Bell Atlantic), where's the evidence to support this view? It should be incumbent upon the proponents to provide some (any?) objective, empirical evidence that cell phone technology would do anything other than fattening Bell Atlantic's profit margins.

Where's the statistical data that shows how many people will be saved from injury/crime/death by using cell phones? Anecdotal stories, while often compelling, are simply not enough to justify the changes to the park. For every cell phone “success” story, there are serious “failures,” most significantly the recent studies citing large increases in automobile accidents where at least one driver was using a cell phone. For Rock Creek Park, increased accidents will almost certainly lead to more walkers, runners, cyclists, and rollerbladers being hit by automobiles. Let's not start down a very slippery slope for the sake of convenience for automobile drivers. Let's hope the Park Service stands its ground against the politicians and lobbyists.


Rock Creek Park Cell Phone Free?
Richard Stone Rothblum,

How long does it take for people to get the point? It is not whether cell phones are desirable in the park, it is that there is no reason other than lining the cell phone company's coffers to erect towers on public parkland. There is plenty of private space available and adjacent to the park. Raising the issue of safety is a red herring that plays right into the hands of the imperial politician who throws a tantrum when he can't use his cell phone on his way to work, and the avaricious cell phone company official who wants a freebie for a tower, rather than pay the going rate. The fact is that there is poor cell phone coverage in most upper northwest area, on both the east and west side of the park. Cell phone service coverage has nothing to do with the park, safety, or esthetics, and everything to do with converting public land to private use purely for economic reasons.


Cellular Phone Towers in Rock Creek — Next Step
Ralph Blessing,

I oppose Bell Atlantic's proposed cellular phone towers in Rock Creek Park for a number of reasons. In my view, they will permanently scar the park's aesthetics and will almost certainly assure that other phone companies get to build their own towers. Moreover, Bell Atlantic's goal of “full coverage” in Rock Creek would encourage the dangerous habit of using a cell phone while driving on the park's narrow, winding roadways. Now that the National Capital Planning Commission has caved in to Bell Atlantic and voted to allow the towers to be built, I feel that the District government should make it a hollow victory for them by imposing restrictions on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving in the city. There are precedents for such action, including a recently enacted nationwide ban on their use in Germany. The state of New York is currently considering a similar ban, and New Hampshire state police say they will ticket anyone spotted using a hand-held cell phone while driving.

Even though there are legitimate reasons for using a cell phone while in a car, few — if any — require that a call be made while driving. Any call important enough to make is worth pulling to the side of the road, onto a side street, or into a parking lot. Maybe not always the most convenient way, but being a considerate driver isn't about personal convenience. For emergency calls, it's hard to imagine a situation where the driver would not already be stopped. Making a business call or calling a radio station's contest line, on the other hand, does not justify endangering the safety of other drivers and pedestrians; such activity should be prohibited. I've written Councilmember Phil Mendelson to suggest as much and encourage anyone else opposed to the Rock Creek cell phone towers to contact him or other councilmembers who are concerned about traffic safety. The District could actually be a trend setter by enacting such legislation — at least until Congress decided to strike it down.


Phoning and Driving
Peter Luger,

Has anyone considered the quality of life issues for the phone users? Perhaps people who use their phones while commuting are able to spend an extra half hour at home in the morning with their kids because they can do business on the way to and from work, instead of having to be in their office at a certain time. Maybe they can also leave work earlier to get their kids at daycare or be on time for a soccer game because they can make those last few calls on the way home. Putting aside the dangers of using the phone while driving (because as long as it's legal, you might as well be able to make the calls), the phones are a great convenience for people in a world that used to allow a lot of time to do things and make decisions but now gives you about two minutes to fax it, Fed Ex it and call about it. I know many people think mobile phones and the users are a bunch of pretentious, self absorbed jerks. Think twice about that when you're in your office and your computer network goes down right in the middle of finishing that huge, multimillion dollar proposal and you need to reach your computer consultant right away to get it fixed. What do you think he or she is calling you back from, the pay phone on the corner after driving around for 20 minutes? I doubt it.


Address Plates for Rears of Houses
Annie McCormick,

Would this address plate telephone number be of use to anyone? The correct phone number to order address plates for the rear of a house or yard is 727-4660. Ask for Officer Rita Hunt, who handles these requests.


Regional Issues Address in November Edition of NARPAC, Inc. Web Site
Len Sullivan,

The non-profit National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital has revised its web site (See “What's New?” at with new headline summaries, and six new relevant web sites. A summary and analysis are provided of the new book from the National Research Council addressing the need for better metro area governance in the US. Its proposed solutions fall short — at least for DC. A separate discussion is provided on the area's only regional school system, and several other topical issues are updated.

NARPAC is adding another new artist to its art gallery, and provides an extension of its Metro photo essay to cover the stations of the Green Line, North and their potential. Its latest editorial view is entitled “Neighborhood Inputs in Urban Development: Necessary but Not Sufficient,” and deals with the importance of balancing relatively narrow neighborhood special interests with a far broader city- and region-wide vision of what our national capital metro area should become. Door's always open — c'mon in.



Movie Palaces in DC
Matthew Gilmore,

Washingtoniana Division of the D.C. Public Library presents Robert K. Headley, author of “Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C.,” November 9, 1999, 6:30 p.m. in Room 307 of the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW. Headley will speak, show slides from his book, and copies of the book will be available for sale. His book is a beautifully illustrated, thorough, encyclopedic compilation of the history of motion picture theaters in Washington, D.C.


Roundtable Discussion on Development in the Mount Vernon Square Community
Deering Kendrick,

The Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association will hold a roundtable discussion with local residents and elected/appointed city officials to discuss the slow pace at which city owned parcels are being developed in the neighborhood. The discussion will address such issues as the role that the city has played in under-developing the Mount Vernon Square community, and what can be done to jump-start community friendly development. The discussion will allow community residents an opportunity to express their long-held belief that the city's undeveloped land parcels in the Mount Vernon Square Triangle should be developed with strong components of both market rate housing and retail. Such development should take place sooner rather than later. The invited panelists are Eric Price, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; Kenneth Kimbrough, Director, Office of Property Management; Andrew Altman, Director, Office of Planning; Phil Mendelson, At-Large Councilmember; Carol Schwartz, At-Large Councilmember; Charlene Drew Jarvis, Ward 4 Councilmember; Harold Brazil, At-Large Councilmember; Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Councilmember; Committee of 100 on the Federal City; and Forest City Enterprises.

Members of the Association have invited Forest City Enterprises, Inc., to participate in the discussion because Forest City's Columbia Heights proposal that was rejected by the city's Redevelopment Land Agency is the type of work that Mount Vernon Square residents would like to see on the city owned land parcels in the community. Residents from Columbia Heights have also been invited to attend.

The discussion will be held on Tuesday, November 16, 1999 at 7:30 P.M. at the Metropolitan Community Church located on the corner of Ridge and Fifth Streets, N.W. All are welcome to attend. For further information, E-mail Deering “Tip” Kendrick II.


Rising Stars Free Concert Series
Lois Kirkpatrick,

Catch the 25th anniversary season of the Rising Stars free concert series presented by the Music Friends of the Fairfax County Public Library. All recitals are held in the Alden Theatre of the McLean Community Center at 1234 Ingleside Avenue. Sunday, November 21, at 3:00 award-winning pianist Shirley Yoo performs, and on Sunday, November 28 at 3:00, enjoy soprano Anne Jennifer Nash. Other performers appearing between now and May 2000 are listed on the Library's Web site at


DPW Director to Speak to Chevy Chase Citizens Association
Evelyn Wrin,

The Director of the D.C. Department of Public Works, Vanessa Dale Burns, will speak at a meeting of the Chevy Chase Citizens Association at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16, 1999. Because of the delay in renovating the Chevy Chase Community Center, this November program will be held at Saint John's College High School, located at Military Road and 27th St. NW. Among the specific areas that Ms. Burns has been asked to address are street repairs, including repairs after work done by telecommunications companies, by WASA, and by utility companies; trees, including maintenance, planting and stump removal; and sanitation enforcement, including inspection of alleys with overgrown shrubbery and trees. All interested persons are invited to attend. For further information call 244-5744.



Bed For Sale
Barbara Menard,

Bought a king-size bed frame, so we are looking to sell our still-new queen-size mattress, box spring and frame. Purchased new in September 97 (still have receipt) for $350. Will sell for $200 or best offer. You would have to pick it up, but we can help you load it into a truck. Please E-mail or call 202-518-7643.



Adams Morgan Condo For Sale
Lynne Mersfelder,

Charming 1-bedroom condo for sale in Adams Morgan (near Adams Mill Road and Calvert Street). Pet-friendly 1910 re-habbed deco building, GREAT location, close to restaurants, 10 minutes to metro; balcony, sunny exposure, mounted speakers, track and mood lighting, ceiling fan, W/D, great closet space, bike and other storage; newly painted, some furniture can convey. $84,000. Perfect starter home. Evenings before 10:30 pm, 202-328-4703.


Parking in Adams Morgan
Christina Samuels,

I'm one of the young vanguard that is apparently flooding the District. However, I'm moving from the suburbs of Virginia, so I have the normal suburban obsession about parking. Does anyone have any recommendations for garages or lots in the Adams-Morgan area (I'll be living at 16th and Columbia). The complex has a parking area, but of course there's a waiting list. Feel free to respond by E-mail or through themail.



Web Site Help
Julia Taylor,

Consumers now have the option to establish a web site including a message board to share experiences re big business, government, etc. I, too, would like to do that in hopes that I would finally be able to get a response from a company which to date has met my inquires with silence. Are you aware of anyone who is skilled in web site design, etc., that I might be able to pay for some assistance? I've read that Yahoo has a consumer opinion forum of some type but have been unable to locate it. Is anyone familiar with it or something similar?


Carpenter Needed
Bob Levine,

Does anybody have a recommendation for a good carpenter/handyman. My last one has gone out of the business, and unfortunately I need to replace him.


Recommendation for a Handyman/Builder
Deborah C. Fort,

We are just emerging from a terrible experience with a crazy, crooked contractor thanks to the superb help of a couple of his subcontractors who are — thank heavens — setting up their own company. We have found no repair or building job that they couldn't do, quickly, excellently, cheerfully, and politely. Contact Roger Torres and Carlos Salinas of Manpower Construction via pager (301) 521-0896.


Firewood Recommendation
Dante Terrana,

Regarding the inquiry for firewood, I have located a local provider via the internet, “Conklin's Timber.” The site conveys confidence that they know what they're talking about, and the prices seem reasonable. I've never purchased from them before, but will give it a try this year. The url is Also, Thursday's (11/4/99) Washington Post Home section contained a very good article about how not to get taken when buying firewood.


Frederick Restaurant
David Sobelsohn,

The summer before last I had a splendid lunch at 44 North, 44 N. Market Street, in Frederick.


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