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February 23, 2000

Many Apologies

Dear Telephone Answerers:

“Hello, this is Mayor Tony Williams.” Many people are making fun of Mayor Williams for paying $19,000 to a public relations firm to call 100,000 residents of the District with a recorded apology for poor snow clearing and trash removal services. I'm not so sure that it was a bad idea. In fact, I wouldn't mind more apologies. I'd like Chief Ramsey to call me with an apology for the rise in violent crimes, particularly homicides. (I know that it's not his fault, but he took credit for the fall in crime statistics; it's only fair that he accept the blame now.) I'd like Arlene Ackerman to call me and apologize for the state of the schools in my neighborhood. I'd like Linda Cropp to call me to apologize for the Council's mishandling of school reform.

Who would you like to call you and apologize? Let themail's readers know.

Gary Imhoff


School Board
Kurt Vorndran,

Sadly, our political leaders seem to be adverse to doing the one thing political leaders should be good at — politics. The proposed structural changes to the School Board presume the structure is the problem, not the quality of persons serving on the Board. Well, this is easier and less confrontational than challenging the incumbents, but it just happens to be untrue. One of the worst mistakes in governance is trying to reform structures because of the shortcoming of the personalities of the moment.

The Mayor should be more of a political leader. Instead of creating a board appointed by the Mayor (in perpetuity), he and the Council should assemble a slate of competent, hardworking individuals and run them for election this November. I, for one, who give him great deference to any slate of candidates he puts together. I believe citizens could be rallied to support a Williams-backed pro-reform team of School Board candidates. Yes, it is a little more work getting involved in the rough and tumble of politics as opposed to sitting behind the big desk and being an administrator. But in the end, it will be better for the school system, better for the citizens, better for the kids and better for the Mayor to go this route.


Proposed Mayor’s Residence
Joan Eisenstodt,

Kenan Jarboe asked for thoughts about the above — and my first reaction was also positive — the restoration would be great — the old building is such a great one and we don't want what Michael Berman talked about going on in our neighborhood. We need to keep the character of some of our neighborhoods.

Having never lived near a mayor with her/his own residence, not sure what the ensuing issues will be, but imagine we'll have some days of blocked or stopped traffic on Pennsylvania, attention to our neighborhood (lights-cameras-reporters) which could be good but very intrusive. Overall, I like the idea — we are a world capital and our elected leadership should have a greater presence. (Will it matter if someone we don't like is elected? Hmmm.) Anyone on the list from the former neighborhoods of former mayors?


The Official Residence
Michael Bindner,

I agree that there should be an official residence in D.C. However, I would suggest the Brooks Mansion in Northeast, rather than a Capitol Hill address. Brooks is Metro accessible, close to North Capitol Street and away from our congressional masters. Finally, I hope that this residence can soon be referred to as the Governor's Mansion. Regardless of whether we are granted statehood or not, the Home Rule Act should be amended to designate our Chief Executive as the Governor. If we begin to behave more like a state and govern ourselves with a state government rather than an urban government, we come closer to statehood and democracy.


The Mayor’s Mansion
Thomas Smith,

The Mayor's salary is bigger than that of most people that struggle to live in this town. LET HIM PAY HIS OWN DAMN RENT! And pay his own house insurance, like every one of us who struggle, and sometimes don't make it on time. I mean, damn folks, we already pay for most of his living costs, which I disagreewith. Maybe if some of these elected folks had to live on the $20 to $40 thousand most of us are living on they would see things a lot differently!


Amazing What They Can Do When They Apply Themselves
Nick Keenan, Shaw,

Where's the most dangerous spot in DC these days? If all you had to go by was media coverage, you think it was the 3100 block of M Street in Georgetown. Jack Evans has been all over the local TV, radio and newspapers the past three days, demanding a full investigation into the explosions that rocked Georgetown last Friday. The Mayor's office has promised immediate action. The Council has already held hearings, and the ATF forensic team that investigated the Oklahoma City bombing is being brought in. But let's face it — this event was a freak accident, and while scary, is hardly a widespread threat to public safety. While it might have made news when a few windows were broken and shops had to close in Georgetown, nobody was hurt and the property damage was minor.

Contrast that with a story you probably didn't see in the papers, the fire that destroyed a row of houses on the 1100 block of K Street, NE, on February 10. That fire, which started in a house that was a well known nuisance to the neighbors, left 3 dead and more than 25 homeless. Or consider the fire that started in 1634 6th Street, NW, last July, and damaged four neighboring houses. Or the fire that destroyed 1531 Marion Street, NW, last June. Or the two fires on the 600 block of Q Street, NW, in September 1998 that together damaged five houses. These fires all followed the same story: they all started in houses that were well known to their neighbors as nuisances. For years residents had complained to the city, and for years the city had done nothing.

And still the city does nothing. Basic enforcement is non-existent, and if there is a nuisance property around you that is open you'd better board it up yourself, because the city is not going to — hell, good luck even finding the right person to talk to. I just got off the phone a member of the Williams cabinet, who told me frankly that “nuisance property enforcement is not a priority right now.” While there are a few council members who care — Ambrose and Graham come to mind — it has been over a year since the last hearings on the issue and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of action from that direction. The events of the last week show that the Council, the Mayor's office, and the city bureaucracy are capable of moving quickly — but only when the perceived danger is to certain people in certain parts of the city. The rest of us are on our own.


Show Me, Don’t Tell Me
Ed T. Barron,

The Mayor's latest stunt is to make 100,000 phone calls to those who were greatly inconvenienced by the lack of trash pickups during and after the February snow storms. The calls will include a taped apology from the Mayor with a promise to do better the next time. I think you can guess what I would do with a taped message from the mayor, or anybody else. The message I send to the Mayor is that the old adage “actions speak louder than words” is much more appropriate in this situation. Don't tell us, Mr. Mayor, show us.


The Suderow/Carr Controversy
Wendy Blair,

To settle the name calling spat between Capitol Hill activist Bryce Suderow (who calls Carr's memory selective) and City Paper editor David Carr (who labels Suderow deranged), here are some facts. This month David Carr published a glowing account of reporter Susan Ferrechio's reportage in the Washington Times of the “incident” in which Principal Anigbo of Marcus Garvey charter school assaulted Ferrechio and excluded her from the school. But at the time, Carr criticized the Washington Times for its coverage — something he can't remember now. Here's proof:

In December, 1996, The Washington Times printed 15 articles or editorials on the assault in 9 days, giving a clear picture of what happened according to each participant, and revealing the Principal's problematic (an assault ten years earlier and a $58,000 loan default). In contrast, the Post printed eight articles, buried the early ones, and when finally putting the story on the front page three days later, called it a “run-in” (not assault), and focussing the spotlight on charter schools. A later article covered a rally held by Anigbo's supporters at the school. Still another article agonized over whether the incident would increase racial tensions in the city. Finally, one article pointed out the anti-semitic remarks of some of Anigbo's supporters at their rally. Who served the community better? The Washington Times. They reported the news. Yet Carr criticized the Times in his December 13, 1996, column, saying, “After days of flamethrowing, the Times stepped off the gas in its coverage and its rhetoric. . . . The Times knows that a large-scale racial melodrama is not good for the city or the news business. . . .” The point is that Carr thinks the place of a newspaper is to shield the public from controversial stories where race is arguably a key element -- when the race issue involves black hatred and aggression against whites. Thus, Suderow was right when he claimed Carr accused the Washington Times of “flamethrower tactics” for reporting the news. Carr approvingly quoted Jo-Ann Armao of the Post as saying: “There were a lot of discussions here about how we played the story and some of the people thought it was important because the incident occurred while the reporter was doing their job, but we decided not to make a big deal out of it.” To buttress his support for reduced coverage in the interests of racial harmony, Carr quoted Channel 4 reporter Tom Sherwood that black people “. . . feel . . . that the Congress and the media are against them.”

Covering potentially inflammatory race issues demands responsibility in the press -- but surely not censoring facts or shielding a black person (or a white person) who has committed a crime that would be treated differently if that person's skin color were different. I think Carr, in “protecting” the public from knowing all the facts, hurts the progress of racial healing that he thinks he is helping.


Dissing Southeast
Stephanie Faul,

I lived in Randle Highlands as a child, in the 1950s, and went to first grade at Randle Highlands Elementary. I remember it as being quite lovely, though I admit I haven't been back in 30 years or so. It was one of the neighborhoods that suffered from “white flight”: my parents themselves fled up to Northwest, to Forest Hills and then Tenleytown. But I can't imagine why anyone would have bad opinions about Southeast, and if they do that's certainly no reflection on the people who actually live there. I get sneers periodically from people who say things like, “you live IN DC? Aren't you scared?” I just smile and say, “Well, I have a beautiful old house, friendly neighbors, and a garden that's the right size for me. Plus I can walk to just about anything I want. But perhaps I'm being silly for liking it so much.” That usually shuts them up. (If I want to rub it in I talk about how I'm NEVER stuck in traffic.) Anyway, if someone makes a snide comment about your neighborhood, just start telling them why you like it. They're the ones being stupid.


Negative Reputation of Southwest
David Sobelsohn,

I read with interest G. Bonita Franklin's posting "Negative Comments Regarding Southeast." I live in Southwest and fear we share the same reputation. Several times I have spoken to people or services who expressed interest in cleaning my apartment. Twice that interest vanished when I told them where I live. One claimed her company didn't service my area — even though they work on Capitol Hill, a 15-minute walk — and one claimed my apartment was simply “too far,” even though she works in Woodley Park, a 15-minute drive (except during rush hour). The negative impressions of Southwest are even more bizarre than the negative reputation of Southeast. Southwest may not have the beauty and history of parts of Southeast. But we also don't have the same pockets of poverty and desolation. We're basically a quiet bedroom community close to the Capitol Building and the National Mall. I love living in Southwest, but . . . .


Discovering Southeast
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park,

G. Bonita Franklin wrote asking when will the negative undertones regarding Southeast end. All I can suggest is that will happen when people learn more about Southeast and actually visit it and see for themselves the beautiful (and very affordable, compared to other parts of the city) neighborhoods and good people who live there. We all need to be educating the public at large, and especially the media, about the history and beauty of our neighborhoods all over the city. Stereotypes rather than facts tend to govern public perceptions about much of the city.


Tots on the Metro
Peggy Robin,

Ed T. Barron asked about the legality of taking a two-year old through the Metro turnstile without paying a fare. I used to take my small children on the Metro fairly often and so can tell you what the Metro kiosk attendants have told me when asked. The first one I asked said that children aged five and under could ride for free; the second time I asked, the answer was that no farecard is needed for children under five. So clearly, five is a dividing line of some sort — the ambiguity seems to be whether you have to have a farecard when you are five, or when you turn six. When my kids were still in strollers, I was usually instructed to push the child in the stroller through the gate, then, while keeping the child within sight, cross back through the gate and go through the turnstile using my farefard. I never liked to do that, however, because I didn't like the idea of leaving the stroller unattended even for a few seconds. What I preferred to do is make my child get out of the stroller and walk with me through the turnstile. If the stroller was the small, foldable type, I just carried it, folded, as we went through; if it was the heavy duty, hard-to-fold type, then I pushed it through the gate empty, and collected it on the other side.

All those years that I took small children with strollers on the Metro gave me an appreciation for how cumbersome the Metro is for people who are in wheelchairs. There are two elevator rides involved every time you use the Metro and the elevators are slow and reek of urine and the elevator's location is sometimes hard to find. I'm very glad that my kids are now old enough to hold their own farecards and go through the turnstiles under their own steam — even though they're no longer riding for free.


Adams Morgan E-Mail Newsletter
Josh Gibson,

I am writing to announce the creation of a new Adams Morgan E-mail newsletter (as yet unnamed). A quick disclaimer: I am by no means trying to compete with the DCWatch list. I'm subscribed to both lists, and I would urge anyone particularly interested in Adams Morgan to do the same. To subscribe, all you have to do is send a message to Then, to post, you can write to Very simple! Hope to see you subscribe soon.



The Trash Force Rides Again!
Paul Nahay,

Trash Force's next outing will be this Saturday, February 26, 2000, meeting in Rock Creek Park at 10:45 am at the intersection of West Beach Drive and Parkside Drive. Directions and info are at

If there is sufficient interest, at 1 pm we'll go to lunch at the nearby Parkway Deli. Please let me know if you're planning to attend (and also if your plans change), and don't forget to bring lots of plastic bags (at least a dozen) and gloves, if you want them!


Spay Day USA
Marguerite Boudreau,

Tuesday, February 29th, is national Spay Day USA. Spay Day USA encourages every American to take the responsibility to spay or neuter one cat or dog; your own, your neighbors, a stray, or donate spay/neuter funds to your favorite shelter. This year, PetsMart and LitterMaid are sponsors and are offering gift certificates to persons or organizations who spay/neuter the most animals between February 1 and March 31st. See also Several organizations help people learn how to care for outdoor strays and ferals. As an example, Alley Cat Allies (, tel. 667-3630, ) shows videos about the benefits of controlling the outdoor feline population through humane trapping and vetting. By controlling and caring for outdoor cats, we reduce the numbers of unwanted kitties who die cruel deaths outside or are killed in shelters because they are not wanted. Also, we reduce the possibility of distemper and rabies that can be communicated to household pets. Outdoor colonies that are cared for also benefit neighborhoods. If an outdoor cat has a tipped left ear, that cat was humanely trapped and vetted, and cannot reproduce. Outdoor cats without collars or tipped ears indicate an uncontrolled colony that is at risk of harboring disease.


Tasting Society International’s Late Feb. Through April Calendar of Wine Events
Charlie Adler, wine@TASTEDC.COM

1) February 23rd, Wednesday, “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW, Valet Parking, Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line), 7-9 PM, $39 per person. Our most attended event! 2) March 14th, Tuesday, “New Restaurant Series — Fairmont Bar & Dining,” 4936 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, MD, public parking across the street, Metro: Bethesda (Red Line), 7-9 PM, $45, in advance, tax and tip inclusive. Join Executive Chef Leungo Lippe (formerly of Lenox Room in NYC, and Marco Pierre White in London) at Bob McKay's new “neighborhood” restaurant in Bethesda. We'll taste a variety of fare (Vegetarians welcome!) off the new menu, all paired with 8 wines. This event will be limited to the first 75 people who purchase advance tickets. 3) March 27th, Monday, “The Sonoma County Wine Experience Tour,” to Benefit Share Our Strength, Park Hyatt, 1201 24th St., N.W., 6:30-9 PM, $45 in advance, $55 at the door. Taste over 100 wines from Sonoma's finest wineries and benefit Share Our Strength's plight to stop hunger. This is part of SOS's national tour bringing the great wines of Sonoma, California across the country. 4) March 30th, Thursday, “Spring Wine Tasting Extravaganza!” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $35 per person. Taste over 80 French Wines and purchase them at the real wholesale prices. Wines Provided by William-Harrison Imports Portfolio. 5) April 4th, Tuesday, “Thai Gourmet Food and Wine,” Bangkok Bistro, 3251 Prospect St., NW, (between 33rd St., and Wisconsin Ave.), Parking Available Next Door or Valet, 7-9 PM, $45, in advance, tax and tip inclusive. Taste traditional and New Wave Thai cuisine paired with 8 different wines (Vegetarians welcome!). This event will be limited to the first 75 people who purchase advance tickets. 6) April 18th, Tuesday, “French Country Wines,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $40 per person. Taste the best of France's countryside! 7) April 20th, Thursday, “Great Wines of Italy,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $40 per person. Join Ann Berta, wine columnist for Washingtonian Magazine, as we taste a fantastic selection of Italy's great wines. 8) April 27th, Thursday, “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $39 per person. Reservations: or call 202-333-5588.



Summer Clerkship
Marc Kevin Battle,

Law student seeks summer clerkship/associate position. First year law student offers solid (published) writing, editing and research skills and a varied employment history including: The White House, Capitol Hill, DC government, local and national media, communications consulting and national non-profit organizations. Please E-mail me at for my Resume, Grades, Writing Samples, References or other pertinent information.



In Search of Apartment to Share
Erica Nash,

A long-time good fiend of mine (29 year old professional, funny, tidy, clean, M) Is relocating to DC from Los Angeles. Is anyone searching to share an apartment? Please call Erica: 333-0262.


Cleveland Park Studio Apartment for Sale
Bill Adler,

We're selling our large studio apartment, located in 2755 Ordway Street (Cleveland Terrace), at Connecticut Avenue. The building is a well maintained condominium, located within walking distance of virtually everything. You couldn't ask for a better location in Cleveland Park. It's a sunny, corner apartment with a walk-in closet, separate kitchen, and entrance hall. The price is $59k — a great deal, and no broker commissions. If you are interested, please E-mail me at or call me at 202-686-9132.



Love Seat
Laurie Gregorio,

Love seat, beige, good condition, $100. Contact Laurie at 387-6850, or E-mail to


Peter Wolff,

The February 2000 online edition has been up-loaded and may be accessed at Included are all community news stories, editorials (including prior months' archived), restaurant reviews (prior months' also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature. Also included are all current classified ads. To read the lead stories, be sure to click the link on the home page to the following headlines: “Dupont Citizens Association President Resigns in Dispute Over Priorities,” “Nat'l. Gay Lobby Weighs-In,” “Residents Riled Over Snow & Trash Removal Claimed Poorly Done East of Rock Creek Park,” “U Street Area Pilot Program for 'Heritage' Walking Tours Will Feature Historic Marker Signage & Maps,” “Old Street Call Boxes to Be Restored for New Uses.”


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
SCHOOL'S OUT FOREVER: The marathon D.C. Council debate on the future of the city's school board reached its climax Thursday, Feb. 17, during a windy monologue by Ward 7 Councilmember Kevin Chavous. After describing how hard he had worked on the contentious issue, the two-term councilmember and education committee chair told everyone just how he felt about the proposal — to establish a hybrid of the traditional elected board favored by councilmembers and the appointed one championed by the mayor — that sat in front of him.
“I want to vote against this with all my heart and soul,” said Chavous.
Then he caved: “But I can't.”
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
Monday, Feb. 28: “Salute to Richard Harrington: 20 Years of Style!” featuring Ron Holloway, the Keter Betts Trio, the original Rosslyn Mountain Boys, Mike Auldridge, John Jennings, Chuck Brown, the Billy Hancock Orchestra, Eddie & Earl Jones, Catfish Hodge, the Orioles, and “surprise guests.” 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $12 (proceeds benefit So Others Might Eat)
Tuesday, Feb. 29: Patrick Symmes discusses his book Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 29, at Travel Books & Language Center, 4437 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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