For no particular reason, I have been thinking about how Washington is
portrayed in films. Usually, of course, our city is just a background for political
intrigue, and all you see are the monuments and the Capitol (in movies, there is a view of
the Capitol from the window behind every lawyer's desk). The neighborhoods are shown only
occasionally, as in Clint Eastwood's Washington movies (Absolute Power and In the Line of
Fire). My favorite Washington line in a movie is from 1946's Undercurrent. Katharine
Hepburn is being driven by her new husband, Robert Taylor, down a dark and narrow two-lane
road from Washington to his country farm in Middleburg. She exclaims, We haven't
seen another car for miles!
So what's your favorite Washington movie or movie moment, and why?
Both The Washington Post and the Washington City Paper covered the gag
order issued by DCPS to Hearst Elementary when we tried to provide information to the
community about our charter school initiative. Both stories could use clarification. The
Hearst PTA filed a charter application because we have no confidence our school can
survive under DCPS (not because we were sore about last year's unpopular
principal). A core group of PTA parents has determined that, for an overwhelming number of
reasons, starting a charter school poses a better risk than staying in DCPS. A charter
school offers the autonomy and flexibility we need to restore and strengthen our program.
We had a building use agreement for our meeting in which we planned to
update the community about planning activities. The man I spoke with at DCPS did refer me
to the Assistant Superintendent after he said that Mrs. Ackerman herself confirmed
that No one is allowed to discuss charter schools on DCPS property. That is DCPS
policy. I should note that this isn't the first time we've experienced such an
order. Last year, after DCPS exiled or involuntarily transferred two of our
strongest teachers, the Assistant Superintendent admonished teachers not to discuss the
transfers with each other or with parents or else they, too, would be transferred. She
also warned them that were being watched. This isn't the first time DCPS has issued
statements, then retracted them. We were told that, after last year's tumult and the
resulting drop in enrollment, DCPS would consider holding our budget harmless. In October,
the budget was cut $47,000 and we were ordered to hire a special ed teacher at $20,000. We
were given less than 24 hours to determine how to cut the budget. We were forced to let go
of classroom aides a core part of the program.
We would like for Hearst to survive and thrive. But, as parents, we, the
founding group believe that the best place for our own children is in a charter school
that offers small classes, innovative approaches to learning, high quality instruction, a
strong social curriculum, an integrated arts program, hands-on science, and a voice for
parents and teachers in decision making. Our teachers will be fairly compensated and paid
on time, and the school will be held to high accountability standards. We want to provide
all DC families with an alternative a top-notch public education that builds on
Hearst's traditions and incorporates best educational practices. We've put together a
solid plan for the school (tentatively named Capital City Public Charter
School), have identified high caliber candidates for our staff, are in the process
of putting together our board of directors, and been awarded a federal planning grant. All
we need is a facility. We're exploring several possibilities, but have yet to identify the
perfect spot. If you know of a great site, want additional info on our plans, or can help
in any other way, please let me know.
Granite Versus Concrete Curbs
James Treworgy, email@example.com
I've noticed quite a few curb replacements going on around the city.
Crumbling concrete curbs are being replaced with granite. I think this is great I
had read in a past discussion that this is the city plan, and they are more cost effective
because although they initially cost more than concrete, they are virtually indestructible
and last much longer. And they're much more attractive.
Which leads one to ponder why the city installs concrete curbs when they
do massive construction projects like the Park Road rehabilitation that Mt. Pleasant
residents endured for so long. Can anyone explain this? Did the contractor pull a fast one
on the city, or is there simply no standard for curbs, even though using granite makes
more sense and they seem to use granite whenever they do repairs. Or perhaps the standard
is use concrete for new construction and use granite when the concrete falls apart ten
The Washington Post and Times
Jonetta Rose Barras, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Reeves, who recently ended his relationship with the Washington
Post, should know there is more than one paper in the city that reports on local
issues, he doesn't have to go national and corporate, choosing the Wall Street
Journal. While it is a fine paper, there won't be any news in it about D.C. Public
Schools, or the fight over development rights in Columbia Heights, or the good news
stories so many seek. I would urge him to rethink his decision about the Washington
Times. With only one fourth of the reporters on staff covering local news, the Times
gives the Post a run. And Ron Hansen has broken several stories recently. If it
still doesn't satisfy him, maybe he can try the other neighborhood publications like Common
Denominator, which, when Rebecca Charry was there, had a hell of a reputation for
going way beneath the surface and finding the "truth."
In fact, he doesn't even have to choose. He can read them all, since the
Times is the only daily. The other neighborhood pubs are weekly. Good reading!
I Miss My Post, Waaaaa
Jean Lawrence, JKelLaw@aol.com
I moved to AZ almost four years ago and started reading The Arizona
Republic. It's like The Weekly Reader for adults. All about zoning, growth,
burned up babies, horoscopes, etc. The political cartoonist Gary Benson is so knee-jerk he
must have to wear a brace. Every cartoon is about Hillary as a man hater (the man has
issues). OK, I have been writing for the thing, but no one screams and writes YOU MORON
letters like they did about my occasional Post pieces. Nobody gets me, I guess. I
remember my colleagues in the aerospace industry referring to the Post as the Washington
Compost -- I miss you, though, Washington Post. You made my mind grow.
Coloring Contest for Kids 5-10
Kathy Sinzinger, EditorCD@aol.com
The Common Denominator's annual coloring contest for kids, ages
5-10, is in progress. The entry form and rules have been published in the last four issues
of the paper and can be found on page 16 of the December 13th issue of The Common
Denominator (which will remain on sale until our holiday hiatus ends on January
10th). Deadline for entering is 5 p.m. on Dec. 31st. We award two $25 cash prizes in two
age categories: 5-7 and 8-10.
Preserving Fragments from K St. to Your St.
Mark Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
When humans have growth spurts, their souls usually emerge intact. I
suppose that's the case with communities, too. But looking at what is happening in the
recent building spurt, it feels like the souls of historic buildings are being lost as
they're transformed into archeological fragments. Architectural transmutation. (1) Is the
house on the patch of land at the edge of Rock Creek Park nested between the Calvert and
Duke Ellington bridges (Woodley Park) being "preserved"? Is that "historic
preservation?" It will soon be swallowed into another structure, to house a
non-profit association. Excavation is underway. The house on the lot, empty for years, is
a sight. They gutted the inside and placed a square steel structure (beams) under the
brick shell ("the house"). Now, they're scooping the dirt from under it. (One
onlooker asked: does the guy in the truck scooping out the dirt from under the house get
extra pay?) The transformation has been fascinating the once solid looking house is
now a fragile looking brick box suspended in the air, almost floating, decontextualized
and deconstructed. If it doesn't fall, it will be a relock inside a new structure. It
would have been better preserved had it been moved to a lot where they really wanted what
(2) For a time I had an office on the top floor of the old Investment
Building at K and 15th Street. It was full of small and start-up businesses (clue:
reasonable rent). Inside, the building had a 70s look it needed work, had no
central air, and the old elevators brought fear to visitors. But it had nice features too
large windows that opened (you could have "fresh" air and even hear
protesters chanting on the marches), beautiful wide doors and woodwork, some marble
floors. I was sad to see it as a hollowed out L-shape the stone facade propped up,
waiting to be filled. The facade is saved, but the soul of the building is lost for
better or worse. (3) A new condo is going up at 16th and R NW. There was no historic
structure to turn into an archeological fragment, but joining the historic buildings on
all sides is what looks like a downtown postmodern structure. I'm more alarmed by this K
St. condo than by the corner pub expanding into (and protecting) an existing building. (4)
Has anyone seen Lilly Spandorf lately? She spent the last couple decades painting DC
buildings before they were razed and published a book of her paintings of the old next to
photos of the new. At the rate things are moving, she may need apprentices and her book
may get unwieldy if she keeps it up. Then again, like every CVS that was once a historic
structure, the community relations people will want photos to display to express their
keen sense of history. I like the ones in my lobby.
Well Deserved Bonus
David Meadows, Shad0421@aol.com
As a member of the DC Coalition, this is one member who is happy that the
DC Council and the Mayor worked together to fund the bonuses for DC's Government
employees, who were denied wage increases year after year during this cites fiasco of
financial management. This is good business to reward workers, creating trust and respect
which produces greater productivity. These individuals have worked very hard day after day
with outdated technology and working conditions to keep this city running. I'm sure most
of these middle class Americans will appreciate the 1,650 bonus during this holiday
season, a bonus much better than the proposed Republican Party's 800 billion, 500 dollar
per family tax cut that President Clinton vetoed.
Power Lines, Outastate Tags
Rob Fleming, Mt. Pleasant, firstname.lastname@example.org
To Larry Seftor: Some power lines (mine, for instance) are underground.
Some power lines follow other routes than the telephone lines. Power sometimes goes out
for reasons that don't affect the phones (we used to lose power in the south end of Mount
Pleasant every time Adams Morgan turned on their air conditioners until we got a new
feeder line into the transformers and fuses on my block). So yes, there are
times when I could report a power outage on my regular phone.
About those Virginia tags: the way it was explained to me was that the
Virginia law requires you to show proof of insurance (and Virginia residence) to get the
tags, but not to keep the insurance in force (as DC does). Therefore, some people (maybe a
lot of people) use a friend's address to get the tags and then cancel their insurance.
Than means that the cars with Virginia tags that are parked in my neighborhood at night
are probably driving around during the day with no insurance, which is why DC insurance
rates are so high. DC is trying to crack down on the outastate tag problem, but the
enforcement procedure (usually done at night when parking enforcement isn't working, so it
is done by our understaffed DC police) requires an officer to observe the car in the same
general area several times over a period of weeks (so they don't ticket visitors). Mostly,
I think the police have better things to do with their time, and so there is little
enforcement. Perhaps there should be really stiff fines for both having fraudulent
outastate tags and no insurance.
Diagnosing and Fixing Problems in the D.C.
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
In the twelve years that I have lived here in D.C., and despite all the
rhetoric and parade of top school administrators (and other overseers), there has been, to
my eyes, no measurable improvement in the education provided to the kids who live in the
District. Without naming names it is clear that many of these top school administrators
create more problems than they solve. It is time for a much sounder, and perhaps a
seemingly, radical approach to diagnose the real problems to come up with processes to
solve these problems. The so-called problem solvers at the top: the Chief School
Administrator; the School Board(s); the Mayor; the City Council, can't solve any of the
real problems. Those problems can only be solved where they exist, right on the front
lines. The radical approach that I suggest is a bottom-up
approach. What then is the role of those at the top? Glad you asked. Their
role is to provide the help and support needed by those (and only those) who make the
To get an educational system that will work in providing a decent
education to District kids we must start with some real dialogue in each ward between the
parents and the educators. How do we get this started? One way would be for the Mayor to
hold a series of Town Meetings, one in each ward of the District. At these
meetings, which would focus on only education in that ward, parents, educators (who work
in the schools in that ward), a City Council rep, and a rep from the mayors office would
initiate the dialogue to get issues surfaced. The real output of these Town
Meetings should be the formation of an ad hoc team in each ward to identify the top
ten issues which face that ward AND a recommended process to begin to address each of
those issues/problems. Each ward really has its own set of issues/problems and they should
be addressed by the folks who live and teach in that ward. The recommendations from each
ward would then be acted on by those at the top who would provide the needed support to
fix the problems. This could mean some dramatic changes in policy, allocation of teachers,
use of facilities, and money. A really objective approach could even require more charter
Without a radical change in the way the schools are being administered we
will never fix this mess. We need to provide a decent education to our kids if we want to
stem the outflow of middle class citizens and to attract families with school age kids to
come and live here. Providing a good education for our kids is the way to preclude crime
before it becomes a problem in the streets. And without a major change in the way we
educate the kids in the District, Washington, D.C., will never be the great city it
deserves to be.
In the 12/12/99 edition of themail, Paul Williams wrote, Larry, I
don't know about your phones, but all of mine plug into a power source, and hence would be
useless during a power outage! For Paul and others in his situation, you might want
to consider buying a cheap phone that you could use in a power outage situation.
Might come in handy!
Follow-up to Realtor Request
John Whiteside, firstname.lastname@example.org
First thanks to the many people who sent me recommendations of
realtors. I tried to send everyone a thank you, but there were a LOT of messages, so if I
missed you, or it sounded a bit quick, that's why. I appreciate the help. Second, a little
gripe. I've been going to open houses every weekend to educate myself about the market a
bit -- and about a third of the time, the realtors don't show up, leaving a group of
people standing in front of the the property wondering what happened! This never happened
to me in Boston but it seems to be typical here. What's wrong with these people? I am
remembering who they are so I know who not to use down the road when I'm selling. And
realtors need a little help with their geography. They seem to have a very interesting
view of what's what in the city, since apparently Capitol Hill now extends very far into
NE, and Howard University is now at Logan Circle.
In response to The Two DC Rights Lawsuits, Mr. Desenberg says
that the premise of the Adams case got hammered by the judges. This statement
is ludicrous. The court has expressed no reservations whatsoever with the Adams case.
Rather, the court questioned Charles Miller of Covington & Burling as to how the court
could possibly order Maryland to allow District residents to vote in Maryland, when the
State of Maryland is not a party to Alexander v. Daley. Likewise, the court questioned Mr.
Miller how it could possibly order Congress to do anything, which the Plaintiffs in
Clearly, Mr. Desenberg is seriously confused and knows nothing of the law
or of the actual merits of the two cases. Sound bites and newspaper reports are no
substitutes for knowing what's really at stake in the two cases. And while Mr. Desenberg
can agree with the plaintiffs in Alexander v. Daley that partial retrocession
to Maryland (as Mark Plotkin calls it) is the proper solution to the lack of voting
rights in the District, that end should not be pursued through misrepresentations of
I was standing on the platform at Grovener on Sunday, when a magical sight
appeared: A Metro train heading downtown aglow with Xmas lights, every window sprayed with
snow-in-a-can, red balls hanging from the ceiling, red and white tinsel strands wrapped
over the seatbacks, green plastic pine strands covering the vertical posts and horizontal
bars, the advertising brackets filled in with wrapping paper and bows. Even the overhead
lights were colored with green and red cellophane inserts. When we went underground, the
tiny colored lights glowed and every face in our car held a smile. It was wonderful. I got
off at Metro Central, and scurried down to the orange and blue lines for my transfer, but
no more magic trains came. I never saw one on the way home.
What was it? Where did it come from? Where did it go? Who did it? Will
they do it again? Can I help?
Look Where Theres Light
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
Those geniuses who run the Metro Transit System are at it again. This time
they say that the noise from those small buses is coming from hard brake linings. Uh uh,
guys. Look where there's light. The noise occurs when the buses accelerate (and also in
the cruise mode) not much when they are braking. The loud noise level comes from the
engine and muffler combination, not the brakes. And, speaking of brakes, I don't think
they are very good brakes based on an incident I witnessed at the bus stop on the corner
of 48th Street and Massachusetts Avenue with one of those noisy little critters. The bus
driver of that craft did not see the person waiting at the bus stop until he was only
forty or fifty feet from the stop. Although not moving very fast, the driver tried real
hard to stop at the bus stop (based on the very pained expression of terror on his face)
and wound up with the entire bus passing through the intersection and stopping, finally,
in front of the AU Law School building. Changing the brake pads on the fleet is much more
likely because the brakes don't work well, not because they make noise.
Back in July 1998, Metro published weeknight and weekend schedules for
MetroRail. These schedules remained mostly accurate for many months. By last summer, few
Metro stations had any copies of these schedules. Then Metro opened the Congress Heights
and Georgia Avenue green line stations, and extended its hours to 1 a.m. on weekends, both
of which made the 1998 schedules at best incomplete. Lo and behold, a few days later, in
the wake of obsolescence, many Metro stations suddenly had plenty of copies of the 1998
schedules! Now the supply seems once again spotty. In fact some station managers seem
completely unaware that Metro has ever published its MetroRail schedules. Does anyone know
if and when Metro will publish updated schedules?
I recycle my telephone books at ABC Salvage, 65 N St., SE (202-488-7850),
open weekdays 8-4, Saturdays 8-2, closed Sundays. They don't require any special
treatment; just bring 'em, tell the people there you have 'phone books to recycle, then
dump 'em where they tell you. I think you can also recycle 'phone books at Bancroft School
Playground in Mt. Pleasant on Saturdays 9 a.m.-noon (contact Rob Fleming,
firstname.lastname@example.org); and possibly also at Fort Totten Transfer Station, 4900 Bates Rd., NE
(open weekdays 8-4 & Saturdays 7-11); 3540 Wheeler Ave. (S of Duke St., just W of
Quaker Lane), Alexandria (open 24 hours/day); and Montgomery County Solid Waste Transfer
Station, MD-355 (Frederick Ave.) at Shady Grove Road (across Frederick Ave. from Comfort
Inn) (every first Sunday of the month). But I've only gone to ABC Salvage so I'm not sure
about the others.
Trader Joes Is Coming . . . to Bethesda
Fred Davidson, FSDavidson@aol.com
Last month a letter from Mary Vogel suggested a letter writing campaign to
lure Trader Joes, a California-based gourmet food store, to H Street, NE. I have learned
that TJ's has no plans to open in the District, but will open next spring at 6831
Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda. (They now have stores in Tyson's Corner, Bailey's Crossroads,
Rockville and Fairfax. Check out their Web site, http://www.traderjoes.com.
For years I have schlepped a grocery bag full of TJ's products on return flights from
California. Now they are 10 minutes away! I guess Christmas has arrived early.
Will the woman that is taking in stray cats and then offering them for
adoption, please contact email@example.com.
ANC 3C's monthly meeting, Monday, December 20, 8:00 p.m., following the
Police Service Area (PSA) 204 Meeting which begins at 7:30 p.m. Second District Police
Station 3220 Idaho Avenue, NW, Community Room. Agenda includes update on Alban Towers,
conversion of Connecticut Avenue and Porter Street Exxon Station, addition to a single
family house at 3507 Rodman St., and height of Henry Adams House (apartment house part of
Oyster School development). For more information, please call 202-232-2232 or
CLASSIFIEDS TICKETS WANTED
Canadian Skins Fans Want Tickets
Joan Eisenstodt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Taught a class recently in London, Ontario, and met some 'Skins fans who
are desperate to attend a game. Here's what they sent me: January 2nd vs Dolphins
want two tickets with a face value +$50 USD each. Please respond directly to
Seeking Plumber, Recommending Others
Sara Cormeny, email@example.com
Having just moved from a 15-year-old condo into a historic townhouse near
16th and T Streets, NW, I'm in need of contractors for all kinds of little things. Right
now the most pressing need is for a good plumber, so I'm hoping I can come to themail for
advice. Apparently David Stang, recommended on themail earlier this year, doesn't do
Dupont Circle (although if you know otherwise and think I can persuade their receptionist,
let me know!), and I can't find Spadero listed a friend recommended them but the
number I got didn't ring, and they're not in the phone book. I'd prefer to go with a
licensed plumber rather than a handyman; some of these jobs look tricky. I've definitely
got at least a couple of hours worth of work for someone, if not more.
Now, on to my recommendations: 1. Great Scott Moving, 202.546.8190,
http://www.greatscottmoving.com. Came to me recommended by a friend and they did a great
job, three guys, very professional. My only caveat is that my SO and I don't own anything
expensive, so we weren't overly concerned about how they packed anything everything
arrived in one piece, no problem, but I can't speak to their way with your Spode or
Baccarat. 2. John Blizzard, handyman, 703.861.0859. John is the full-time building
engineer at The Richmond, the condo where I used to live, but also does some general
handyman work like installing lights, fixing drywall, basic plumbing, etc. I don't know
how much work he might be looking for on a moonlighting basis, but mention my name and I'm
sure he'll talk to you. Dupont Circle/17th Street area especially. 3. Randolph Flooring,
301.881.4945. Did a fabulous job on our oak floors, also came highly recommended. Very
professional crew who cleaned up after themselves. Done a day early without putting on a
huge rush or making me crazy. The floors were in pretty good shape already, but their
attention to detail and quality (and the fact that the owner, CL, actually came by to
check up on the job on day two!), really sold me on their quality. We paid $2300 for about
2000 square feet of work, including two staircases, and some small replacements.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, firstname.lastname@example.org
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
THE WILMOT PROVISO: Longtime D.C. lobbyist David Wilmot has a piece of business that takes
him to a familiar spot the 11th floor of 1 Judiciary Square.
His client, Margo Briggs, president of Executive Security and Engineering Technology, is
seeking nearly $2 million in back pay from a mid-1980s contract to provide security at
D.C. government agencies. To complicate matters, the company also owes an estimated $1
million in back taxes a liability that would not exist if the District had paid
Briggs in full, according to Wilmot. The 22-year influence-peddling vet is wrestling with
mayoral staffers to come up with some kind of compensation for his client.
Negotiating with high-level bureaucrats over big-money matters on behalf of local
companies is old hat for Wilmot. One part of this particular transaction, however, marks a
departure from years of tradition: Wilmot has never gotten an audience with the mayor.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/lips.html
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early
warnings for upcoming events:
FRIDAY: The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America. On view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday to Monday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, to Monday, Jan. 31,
2000, at the Corcoran Museum of Art, 500 17th St. NW. $3 (suggested donation).
MONDAY: Breakfast at Tiffany's, at 12:30 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery Theater,
8th and F Streets NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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