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November 10, 1999

Special Interests

Dear Special Interests:

Yes, that's right, I'd nearly forgotten what “stakeholders” were called before politicians decided to elevate them to the same level as citizens and residents, and openly give them an equal say in governmental decisions. Special interests. And Marilyn Groves called to remind me that citizens are also reduced in importance when they are called “consumers,” “customers,” or “clients” of government services. When politicians say that citizens are the customers of government, who are they putting in the role of bosses? We're not the customers; we are the bosses. We run the government, elect the “public servants,” and pay their bills. Government of, by, and for the people, in that quaintly obsolete phrase.

I recognize that, as Kirsten Sherk titled her submission, “I'm Beginning to Sound Crotchety,” but they're driving me to it.

Gary Imhoff


The Not-So-Neighborly Summit
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park,

Keeping in mind your comments on “stakeholders,” I just received my invitation to the Mayor's Neighborhood Summit which included a list of the “Neighborhood Action Advisory Board members.” They include Marie Johns, President and CEO of Bell Atlantic; as well as other developers/business folks such as Stephen Trachtenberg, President of GWU; Fannie Mae Foundation (Fannie Mae being the biggest tax dodger in DC); Freddie Mac Foundation; Board of Trade; etc. Doesn't look much like a “neighborhood” summit. Seems the “stakeholders” have taken over again to the detriment of the residents and citizens of DC.


Pat Hahn,

I first heard the term “stakeholder” during a former life as a federal employee who had been “volunteered” for a management training course. I had previously worked on Capitol Hill where, at the time, the same groups that are now "stakeholders" were once known by more descriptive labels such as trade associations, unions, government agencies, the public, etc., so I had a little trouble assimilating. I have never been able to completely erase the first image that popped into my head when I heard the term “stakeholder”: that of a guy on a deck behind a house in the suburbs holding a steak on a long fork, getting ready to plop it onto his gas grill.


Whose Neighborhood Action Initiative?
James McLeod,

Like Mark W Servatius [Nov. 3, 1999], I wonder what's up with the mayor's Neighborhood Action Initiative set for next week. Will citizens come and have their vision for the city accurately reflected, or will their attendance (and perhaps filtered massages) be used to support the mayor's own vision for the city? I've not been impressed by how well the mayor or the council have listened to me or my ANC on any number of issues. (Although I do like some of the newly appointed agency heads.) If this is a good faith effort to start listening, fine, but the mayor's representative at last month's Foggy Bottom Association meeting left me with the impression that citizens' visions will somehow be woven with the mayor's vision. When I testify at a zoning or council hearing, or speak up at my ANC, I know my message is being heard by all present. Just like for jury duty, I think it is good to bring people from all neighbors in the city together. I just wonder what control I would have over what would be made of my presence or my stated vision of the city.


Good Word for D.C. Police
Pat Hahn,

Since I read a lot of criticism (as well as occasional praise) in themail for D.C. government departments, here's one for the compliments scorecard. Last week I got hit by an ambulance. Thank heaven, no injuries (this wasn't an ambulance with lights flashing and siren going, just someone starting out at the same light I did, apparently not seeing me, and swerving into my lane and into my car). I was left grounded at an intersection in downtown D.C. with a piece of ambulance running board impaling my car in front of my left front wheel. The ambulance driver claimed he couldn't stay long because he was transporting a patient but would radio the police. I don't know if he ever did, but 5 minutes later a police car stopped and listened to my story. They hadn't gotten any radio call, they just saw me wave, did a double take at my car and pulled over. They weren't from the right district, but they called a car that was, which stopped 5 minutes later. They made some radio calls, figured out that I didn't deserve a ticket, wrote a police report, and called AAA for me! A great service, considering I didn't have my cell phone with me and as it turned out the only pay phone in sight was broken.

All officers involved couldn't have been more decent. Never mind the fact that 1 1/2 hours later the tow truck from AAA still hadn't stopped to help (despite their dispatcher telling me they had been called) and the fact that I got home by 9 p.m. (the accident was at 6:25 pm) only because my husband showed up and whacked the offending piece of ambulance out with a sledgehammer and thereby freed my
front wheels. Much to our amazement the car was driveable. So the score is D.C. police 2, pay phone company (not sure which one) 0, and AAA ... still waiting.

[Is this a common experience with AAA? Our experience has been quick and reliable responses in the Virginia suburbs, but within the city slow responses and repeated assurances that the truck will be there in just another 20 minutes, just another 20 minutes, just another. . . . -- Gary Imhoff]


Ice and Fire with WASA
Bob Andrew,

Following up on my October 20 “Give the Man A Sign” posting in themail: for three months now there has been a steady water leak down the street in the 4700 block of MacArthur Boulevard. The water flows slowly but mostly it pools because the gutter is clogged with leaves. It is beginning to smell like sewage, possibly because of rotting leaves, mud or whatever. Four homes have reported the problem to WASA and nothing has been done. Aside from the inconvenience of having to leap over three feet of puddle to get to their cars, endure the stench, and worry about impeding the function of drains because leaves are trapped in standing water, they are concerned that as the weather gets colder and freezes car tires will become damaged as they come and go, from blocks of ice in front of their homes.

We are publicizing this to help light a fire under someone at WASA with the authority to assign a crew to fix this problem as soon as possible. Talking of fire, will someone at WASA need to be fired to prevent another avoidable accident caused by ice? Last year, a woman of faith died when a vehicle skidded on ice, mainly due to WASA's inattention. Now we read of 180 tons of liquid chlorine without working alarms, until recent media pressure got their attention.


Citizen’s Observation on Jury Duty
James McLeod,

As someone who sometimes represents persons accused of crimes, I enjoyed reading Jon Desenberg's November 7, “Observations on DC Jury Duty.” Jon might be interested in a DC study on jurors (Civic Apathy or Governmental Deficiency? An Examination of Low Juror Yield in the District of Columbia, Richard Seltzer, Department of Political Science, Howard University, December 1997) which suggested that young persons are underrepresented by qualified jurors. (I don't recall any significant underrepresentation based on race being found.) For me, the study raised the legal question "Do the perceptions and views of those 18-30 years of age make them a 'distinctive' group, such that a criminal defendant is denied his Sixth Amendment right to a jury made of a fair cross section of the community?”

After talking with a social psychologist about this issue, I found that more recent data from DC's Office of Planning (if I remember correctly, 1990 data were used in Seltzer's study) revealed virtually no underrepresentation of Generation X in Superior Court qualified jurors (but there still seemed to be a noticeably lower number of Generation Xers in US District Court for DC). As for Jon's concern about how much time it took to fill those 14 seats, let's hope that at least if no person on that jury was of the age or race of the defendant, perhaps the time was well spend attempting to produce an impartial (if not perfectly representative) jury.

Also, for those apparently few following the impact of Misdemeanor Streamlining legislation (in 1994, the City Council took away the statutory right to jury for most misdemeanor offenses), there has been less than a one percent drop in the number of persons reporting for jury duty in Superior Court — in 1992 there were 60,104, compared with 59,569 in 1997.


Jury Duty in DC
Mike Livingston,

For a very, very different take on D.C. jury duty, read this: That's in the Baltimore City Paper, but the juror is Mt. Pleasant humor writer Suz Redfearn.


Quality of Life for Cell Phone Users
Kathy Carroll,

While I appreciate the points made by Mr. Luger, Rock Creek Park is absolutely no place to have one's mind on two things. The road is meant to be driven slowly, of course, but even at the posted 25 mph, some parts are treacherous. If you take time out in the park to call Fed Ex while driving, you may find yourself driving into a brick wall, a creek or even a Park Police Station. Be careful out there! Rock Creek is NOT the place to be on the phone and driving!


Reply to Phoning and Driving by Peter Luger
Lee Perkins,

So now my health and safety are to be sacrificed to some suburbanite's overdemanding kids? Give me a break!


Cellular Technology in Rock Creek Park
Chris Richardson,

At this point, it seems pretty inevitable that cell phone towers will be erected in Rock Creek Park, America's largest urban park. What smells especially bad is that BellAtlantic has a virtual lock on the contract. Why should any ONE company be guaranteed at this early stage of the game? Shouldn't the technology issue be decided first, then the technology provider next be put to open bid? That would seem to be the “democratic” thing to do, or am I just a babe in the woods?


Daschle Amendment Still Lives
Ann Loikow,

Despite the NCPC's action last week approving the Bell Atlantic cell towers in Rock Creek Park, the Daschle Amendment still lives. It is in both bills passed last week by the House and Senate (HR 3194). Besides mandating approval of Bell Atlantic's application (and therefore mooting any possible legal challenge), the provision would put a 120 day limit on Federal agency action on the location of a wireless communications antenna on Federal property in DC or the surrounding area. This would severely limit any environmental, historic preservation, or planning review that might be required, depending upon the site requested. The conferees are Hutchison (R-TX), Domenici (R-NM), Stevens (R-AK), Durbin (D-IL), and Bryd (D-WV) in the Senate and Young (R-FL), Lewis (R-CA) and Obey (D-WI) in the House. Please call them ASAP (and get your friends from outside DC to call them) and urge that this provision (section 174 of H.R. 3194) be removed, as well as the other social riders in the bill.


Fort DeRussey
Phil Greene,

In the November 7 issue of themail, while discussing the issue of cellular phone towers in Rock Creek Park, Ann Loikow made mention of Fort DeRussey (near the intersection of Oregon Avenue and Military Road), and the role it played in the Civil War. For more information about this fort, and other local forts (Forts Slocum, Reno, Stevens, Kearney, and Totten), go to This site offers a good overview of the Park and the Civil War defenses of Washington, including the battle of Fort Stevens, during which a Confederate force led by General Jubal Early progressed southward on Seventh Street Pike (now Georgia Avenue) and threatened the Capital. It was during this battle that President Lincoln is said to have come under fire, whereupon the commanding Union officer advised him to "Get down, you fool," or words to that effect (although this account has been disputed).


Peter Luger,

In response to Mr. Fasano's answers to my questions regarding 17th Street businesses, I must continue to disagree with his arguments. I don't believe there are 20 bars and liquor serving establishments on 17th Street between P & R. Off the top of my head, I count 12, which includes three liquor stores (although there may only be two) and Cobalt, which has been closed for nearly 11 months. In addition, there is a CVS, Safeway, 7-11, a coffeehouse, a florist, Blockbuster, a mom and pop video store, hardware store and Reincarnations. The contention that any of those businesses are threatened is absurd. Angie's plant shop is going out of business because it is not making enough money. JRs didn't force it out. JRs is taking advantage of an opening in the adjacent property to expand an already thriving business that brings a lot of tax dollars into the District. The owner of JRs, Eric Little, has been with JRs for a very long time, began there as a bartender and became a manager, then bought the place. That is commendable and admirable. Allowing JRs to expand and use their patio will not run Reincarnations and Ace Hardware out of business. Have you been to the hardware store recently; you can't move in there. If they were next to Angie's, they'd probably be fighting for it as well. And, as far as Adam's Morgan goes, I lived there for 5 years.
You do not have to leave the neighborhood for basic staples. There's a Safeway, a Blockbuster, a 7-11, So's Your Mom, Comet Deli, Fleet Feet, Adam's Morgan Hardware, and at least three drycleaners.

In response to Mr. Levine, I would agree with your argument about quality of life, but I don't think 17th Street is comparable to upper Georgetown. No clubs have ever opened on 17th Street and I doubt they ever will. The audience for 17th St. likes the bar/restaurant atmosphere. The clubbiest thing that ever happened was when people starting dancing upstairs at Cobalt, even though there wasn't a dance floor (the horror!). And, on the 17th Street strip between P & R, many of the employees do live in the neighborhood. I'd be curious to get a specific response regarding the constantly closed restaurant across from JRs (next to the old Pop Stop). That space is designed as a restaurant. Anyone who moves in there is going to use it as a restaurant since it already has all of the equipment, ventilation, etc. Obviously, a restaurant cannot survive in that space without a liquor license. What do you suggest be done there?


I’m Beginning to Sound Crotchety
Kirsten Sherk,

[Mike Fasano wrote that there were 20 establishments serving alcohol on the 17th Street Strip] I only get 11 on 17th Street itself, especially with Cobalt/Sol closed — where do the other 9 come from? Do you count the liquor store? The restaurants/bars on P & R? That being said, while I wouldn't want to cut back on the bars and restaurants already there, I've been sad to see three funky neighborhood STORES go since I moved to 17th Street five years ago: 1. the upholstery shop on 17th and Church was replaced by a cafe that didn't seem to ever figure out what it was, never thrived, and died quietly; meanwhile, I have a lovely antique chair that I can now afford to recover and no place to take it. 2. Angie's plant shop: how many places can you buy plants in the city? I'd like to get a new jasmine, but my carless life doesn't take me near Johnson's. 3. Cat in the Bag, the holistic pet supply store: ok, so I never went there, but I sure did like that it existed (actually, it just moved to 14th street).


Open Letter to Bill
Jay E. Vinton,

Dear Bill, l know you're kind of busy right now, what with the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit and all, but I wanted to let you know about a suggestion I have for the Microsoft Windows operating system. It has to do with all those little error windows that pop up all the time when something has gone wrong in Windows, which have a single little button labeled “ok” in them, which must be clicked on by the user before being able to proceed any further.

Well, it always gives me very negative feelings about the Windows operating system to be forced to click on these little “ok” buttons, at just those times when things are the least ok between me and my Windows system. I was thinking that it might lead to improved user attitude, comfort, and acceptance of Windows if we could think of some better labels for those little error windows buttons. Here are some alternatives I have thought of, though perhaps you and your human engineering people could think of some others as well: “oh well,” “whatever,” “not ok,” “really not the least bit ok,” “I understand. It's a PC, after all,” “well, I guess I'll just have to live with that,” “that's PC's for ya,” “that really sucks,” “we realize this really isn't ok with you at all, but would you mind clicking on this silly little button anyhow?”

So, what do you think? Another feature could be to randomly vary which one of several labels are displayed or to provide multiple buttons with different labels to chose from, thus adding some variety and entertainment to those trying error situations. Yours in computing, Jay Vinton



Ward Three Democrats Meeting on Planning, November 16
Thorn Pozen, Chairman, Ward Three Democratic Committee,

As anyone who has driven on Wisconsin Avenue north of Georgetown or Connecticut Avenue north of Rock Creek Park can see, there is a development boom in Upper Northwest Washington. This boom is not, however, confined to those commercial strips, as cranes and construction have hit the residential neighborhoods of Palisades, Cleveland Park, Tenleytown, Chevy Chase, and Forrest Hills hard (not to mention projects in other areas of the city). On top of these projects are the long list of other development projects still on the drawing board, which have yet to even begin. I believe it is time to start to look at these various projects together and as a whole, and not just how they impact the particular neighborhood in which they are located. New and proposed buildings change the traffic, congestion, and aesthetic dynamic not just on their own block, but all along their street. If that proposed building happens to be on, or just off of, Wisconsin Avenue, and it is to be joined by three or four other large new buildings, then that impact could be felt from Calvert Street to Western Avenue.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against development, I just think it has to properly planned and responsibly executed and situated. And an important part of that planning has to include a look at the building's impact on the larger community and on other proposed projects. It is time neighborhoods with planning and development issues come together and build on each other's strengths. To help begin a dialog among neighborhoods on this important issue, I will be leading a panel discussion at the next Ward Three Democratic Committee meeting. The panel will be opened by Ward Three Councilmember Kathy Patterson, and will include D.C. Planning Director Andrew Altman, D.C. Council Finance and Revenue Committee Chairman Jack Evans, planning expert Dorn McGrath, and Arnold & Porter zoning attorney (and former counsel to the Historic Preservation Review Board) Peter Maszak. Also at the meeting, to help people see the big (or at least bigger) picture, the Ward Three Dems will be unveiling a map of all known development projects in the Ward.

The Ward Three Democratic Committee is the most grass-roots level of the Democratic Party in Ward Three, and as such is one of the few Ward-wide forums in which to discuss large-scale community issues. Ward Three stretches roughly north of Georgetown and west of
Rock Creek Park. The meeting will be held Tuesday, November 16th at 7:30 p.m. (although the panel discussion will not likely start until about 8:30 p.m.) in the Fellowship Hall of St. Luke's Church, which is on the northeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, N.W. (The entrance to the the Fellowship Hall is downstairs off of the parking lot, and the parking lot entrance is on Calvert Street, just east of Wisconsin Ave.). All are welcome.


ANC3F Nov 15 Meeting: Speaker on CENSUS
David J. Bardin,

Tentative Agenda for ANC 3F on Monday, November 15 at 7:45 pm. to be held at 3150 Chesapeake Street, NW [Capital Memorial Seventh-Day Adventist Church]. Update on Mayor's Neighborhood Summit (Nov. 18 & 20); Speaker: Commissioner Linda Softli, GETTING A FULL COUNT FOR THE 2000 DECENNIAL CENSUS: Roles of ANC commissioners and citizen groups; Exxon and Tiger Mart at Connecticut and Nebraska; Review of Street Marking Drawing for Albemarle Street, Nebraska Avenue to Connecticut Avenue; Construction at 4512 28th Street, BZA Appeal No. 16533; Proposed ANC Reform Legislation going to hearing on Nov. 22; ANC 3F annual report for 1998/99; ANC Officers for 2000: Discussion or Election 



Seeking NW DC Apartment
Ian Sheridan,

A professional woman is seeking a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment to rent in NW DC. Please call 966-0097.


Parking Spot for Rent?
Amy Hardison, Adams Morgan,

I'm looking for a parking spot in Adams Morgan near the back entrance of the zoo (Harvard and Adams Mill area). I'll be flexible with the location as long as it isn't too far away. If you have one available, please contact me at 202-462-4406 or



Sidewalk Sale
Ann Carper,

DC Strokes Rowing Club is holding a fundraising sidewalk sale this Saturday, November 13, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at 1880 Columbia Road NW. Good assortment of furniture, books, clothes, housewares, and odds and ends.



Seeking Company for Stationary Printing and Corporate Logo
Jon Katz,,

Please give me your recommendations for a first-rate business stationary company, and a person to help us develop a corporate logo. My
office is located in downtown Silver Spring. Thanks to everyone who has unselfishly responded to my past queries for public relations-related assistance.



Web Site Help
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park,

Frank Stovieck, who runs the Cleveland Park web site ( ) does web site design. His company is Perspective Concepts ( ) and is located at 3333 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 2d floor (202-237-9800) You can also contact him by E-mailing him at I'm sure he can help you.


Boston Listserve
Aries Keck,

Does anyone know if neighborhoods in Boston have listserves that are similar to our wonderful DC one?


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
COLUMBIA SLIGHTS: Credit Columbia Heights activist Dorothy Brizill for her environmental consciousness. When it came time to print up billboards protesting a decision over development rights in her Columbia Heights neighborhood, Brizill used the back side of campaign posters from her failed 1994 bid for the Ward 1 D.C. Council seat.
The recycled poster-board would have worked fine anywhere in town except for the environs of 441 4th Street, the city government's headquarters and a hotbed of petty disses. Within days of the postering, mischief makers turned several of Brizill's signs inside out — making it look like Brizill was back on the campaign trail, rather than organizing against a controversial development edict. “For a minute there, I thought Dorothy was already prepping for the 2002 Ward 1 race,” commented a council staffer. “Then I took a closer look.”
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
FRIDAY: “Behind the Lines: The Universal Product Code (U.P.C.) at 25,” on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, to March 2000, at the National Museum of American History, 14th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE.
WEDNESDAY: Kathleen Madigan at the Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, through Sunday, Nov. 21, at 8:30 p.m. Wed-Thu & Sun; 8:00 & 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $12-$15.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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