themail.gif (3487 bytes)

March 15, 2000

Phony, Fudged, Fictional, and Fraudulent

Dear Taxpayers:

The headline, of course, refers to the Mayor's FY2001 budget. Today's Council hearing showed that the numbers just don't add up and that the Administration can't explain or defend them. David Catania, joined by Kathy Patterson and Jack Evans, asked sharp questions and got weak answers or no answers at all from the Administration's financial experts. For a few years, when Tony Williams and essentially the same financial team prepared budgets under Mayor Barry, we got figures that were reliable, honest, and believable, so we know that they know how to do it right. The only reasonable conclusion is that they have chosen not to do it right this time around. Our brief respite of financial responsibility is over. We're back to Never-Never Land.

One footnote. Kathy Patterson asked Chief of Staff Abdusalam Omer at today's Government Operations Committee hearing about how Christopher Lynn came to be named to head the Taxicab Commission. Omer defended the process, said that it worked well, and said that he was “sorry that he [Lynn] would not be joining the Williams administration.” Now it's official, and the Williams administration no longer has deniability. It knows all about Christopher Lynn, and says that Lynn passes their tests and meets their standards for a high level appointment. If you want to see what those standards are, go back to and read again what this Administration considers to be an attractive resume.

Gary Imhoff


Neighborhood News
Bryce Suderow,

This is an update on my neighborhood. On the afternoon of Friday, March 10, at 1:30 p.m., there was another gun battle. It began at the SE corner of 7th and H. Two rival drug dealers raced raced southward on foot down 7th Street towards G St., firing automatic weapons at each other. About halfway between G and H, near an alley, one of them, a young man named Travon Oliver, was hit numerous times in the neck, arm, and other parts of his body, and died of his wounds. The shooter sauntered away but then a police officer arrived from nearby Riggs Bank on H Street and pursued him down 7th. Friends of the murderer who were in the crowd that had accumulated yelled, “The police are coming. Run.” They propelled him down the alley and blocked the police pursuit. The shooter removed his mask, dropped his Tech-9, and disappeared.

Mr. Oliver is dead, so this means that D.C. homicide detectives will investigate his murder. The crime occurred in 1D1, but that doesn't mean they'll get the case. A lot of their homicides have somehow found their way onto the plates of the 5th District homicide detectives. If that happens, the odds are nearly 10-1 the killer will not be brought to justice. Cops tell me that the homicide closure rate in the 5th District is currently 13%. Judging from Jim Myers' article in this month's Atlantic Monthly on the nearly all-unsolved 30 murders in his neighborhood near the Safeway at 14th and C SE — PSA 109 — the closure rate isn't much better in the 1st District. At least the murder closure rate isn't 0%, as it is in the 4th District. Justice will almost certainly not prevail, since there are 1700 unsolved murders in the District, 700 of them since 1996.

Why make a big deal about the murder of another lousy drug dealer? Because these gun battles don't occur in a vacuum. This one occurred on H Street, which is packed with people at that hour. Miraculously in this instance no innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire. That isn't always the case. Besides, I am peculiar enough to resent pitched gun battles a few blocks from my house. On Wednesday night, three days ago, just as our PSA 510 meeting came to an end, our cops had to rush off to 7th, where a gunshot victim was lying on the ground after a gun battle. While the cops were investigating that shoot-out, there was another gun battle at 8th and Florida, and they had to rush over there. There seems to be no strategy, no plan at any level in the MPD to fight crime. They simply react. In the meantime, the bodies pile up, and we cower in our homes in fear.

[Jim Myers' article, “Notes on the Murders of Thirty of My Neighbors,” is available on-line at . — Gary Imhoff]


Voter Turnout
Michael Bindner,

The sad fact of the matter is that from 38 to 50 percent of the voter rolls would have been removed in any other state. Only in DC is not voting considered political speech, so that it does not lead to automatic removal. In most other jurisdictions, 38 to 50% of DC voters would have been removed from the rolls, which is in line with our 38% population loss in the past few decades. The sad fact of the matter is, this refusal to remove people in undemocratic, as it makes both initiatives and recalls harder to accomplish, which serves the established interests quite well. It is passed time to seriously prune the rolls. (Let's storm the barricades of the Bastille, who's with me?)


Keep Klingle Road Natural
Jon Desenberg,

The beauty of Klingle Road under Connecticut Avenue NW is awesome. In the few short years since traffic stopped, nature has reclaimed the concrete and the cool shaded area is a haven for bikers, walkers, runners, birds, and animals (not rats like the rest of the city). The stream has and will continue to overflow onto the road regularly, which is why the city closed it. Why then, is the city holding a meeting Wednesday from 2-8 pm at the Visitor Center in the Zoo to consider re-opening it? Big Mistake. Do we need one more short stretch of road or a unique and beautiful natural space? Who used to use Klingle that wants it re-opened and why? Porter is just a couple blocks away and seems to do the job just fine.


Department of Public Weaklings
Paul Penniman,

Is it possible that DPW could be managed in a worse way? First we have seen them try to fine the recycling contractor for not being able to negotiate the impassable alleys, right after DPW themselves scooped up all the recyclables and threw them away in the garbage, a fact yet to be documented in other media. Now we are apparently planning to wire the whole city many times over. Does this mean the newly concreted streets — Nebraska Avenue, Park Road, Woodley Road, etc., are to be drilled through and patched? When other utilities like gas deregulate, new pipes are not installed. Why do we need separate cable lines just for Primestar?

As far as digging for DSL goes, why and how did we jump on this bandwagon? Wireless internet access is becoming easier and easier. In ten or twenty years DSL may be obsolete. The fact that there is no incentive for companies to dig concurrently is an absolute atrocity. The attitude of the Department's spokesperson, Ms. Grant, is appalling. Who is she, and why is she there? Okay, now that I've vented, how do we get access to these so-called inspectors DPW has, or the database of where the digging is, or the schedule of upcoming digs. The last time I tried calling someone in charge of anything at DPW, the guy's voice mail said he was out for the week at jury duty. I later found out he was in fact out to lunch. And by the way, I don't have to drive anywhere. I work at home.


Lady Lux
Mark Eckenwiler,

Ed Barron wrote recently to complain that DC streetlight repair is no better these days than under the ancien regime. I beg to differ, based on my experience in the Stanton Park neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Lately, the folks who answer 269-0855 (the routine maintenance contractor) have made requested repairs within 4 days or so. (There was a time some weeks ago when it took a week or two, but they seem to have cleared their backlog.) I've found the reps responsive and helpful; moreover, they have an honest-to-God computer tracking system that shows all activity (complaint; repair crew dispatch; nature of repair made; etc.) for a specified location.

As for Ed's lament that a crew came to his local light pole but failed to fix it, here's a possible explanation: it may be something the contractor isn't supposed to fix. When the repair is more complex than replacing the photocell or bulb, the report is forwarded to DPW, which must issue a work order to Pepco. While the added paperwork does cause a delay, I can tell you that these jobs are getting done: a pole in my alley that needed a whole new fixture is now working, and just today I received a return call(!) from DPW to let me know that another problem pole (first reported by me on 2/16; has no current) is scheduled for Pepco repair this week. I've gotten excellent service from the relevant DPW office, headed by Mr. Jama Abdi (671-0581). Don't get me wrong — there's still lots of room for improvement at the pothole/trash/snowplowing level of municipal service. That said, I give Mayor Williams credit for the very tangible results I'm seeing.


DMV, Better or Worse?
Jason Ziedenberg,

For two-and-a-half years, I've avoided the DMV like the plague. I actually lied when I moved here, and said, I don't have a drivers license, and got an ID card (keeping my Canadian drivers license). Served me well enough, as I just rented cars, and lied. Now, someone wants to give me a car, and I have to go into the DMV to get my license switched over.

But now, people tell me the wait is worse then ever before! Someone in my office just came from there and said, “you can't breathe, there is no ventilation, and it smells like bad breath.” She waited five hours just to get her license renewed. I can you imagine what they will do to a Canadian, on a work visa, with a license from Ontario? There must be some organizational theory argument which explains why it would take five hours to get one's license. How could it possibly be worse? Will it ever get better? Is there any hope?


Livin’ Large on the Federal Trough
Danilo Pelletiere

In the last themail, it was insinuated that because I am a student and an employee of George Mason University, a Virginia public university in Fairfax, VA, my comments on the District of Columbia's economy and population were somehow off base or contradicted by my own actions — I'd claimed in the previous posting that the suburbs were nearly as dependent on federal contracts as the District, and that great capitals the world over profit from the presence of the national government. I also included some other points about the importance of the District regionally. My purpose was to counter the spin by most media that the cities (and this city in particular) are dependent on the federal dole, while the suburbs represent the private sector pure.

Without the federal government — federal highway funds, federal grants, federal contracts, and above all defense contractors, Fairfax would not be Fairfax. Period. In this regard, I am a case in point, rather than a contradiction. I am paid by federal contracts in Fairfax, by a school of public policy that at least a few years ago was second only to Harvard in the number of federal research dollars it received. I'm sure these are often won with the help of Virginia law makers. But at the end of the day, I and an increasing number of my fellow students and professors return to the District where we spend that money on homes, rent, groceries etc. Once again, it's too soon to call “reverse” commuting a stable trend, but it is a growing phenomenon. The District is down, but it's not out.


The Washington Post: Filling, But Not Satisfying
Larry Seftor,

I have read the Washington Post for as long as I have been in Washington -- about 25 years. In recent years I have found the paper less satisfying, although the word count seems to remain high. For those who have the same sense and wonder why, take a look at this week's New Yorker. There is an article about the Post that clarified for me what the Post is about these days.


Speaking About Race
Derek McGinty,

In response to Larry Seftor's comments regarding the difficulty in speaking out on racial issues ... I share his concerns. Larry, you're absolutely right in pointing out that anyone who dares say something truly honest about race will often be shouted down, or worse. There's almost, dare I say it, a lynch mob atmosphere that dubs people "racist" without ever asking questions about what they meant by a statement or delving into the actual issues in play. I don't blame you for keeping your mouth shut. If you speak up and someone doesn't like it, they'll call you a racist, demand you be fired from your job and never once ask for a clarification or try to understand your point of view. If we want to have a truly honest conversation about race, we better understand that painful ideas and opinions are part of that discussion, and we ought to make it safer for them to be expressed.


Regarding “Party Insults”
Steve Leraris,

Let's face it the Democrats of Washington, DC are and have been taken for granted by the DNC and Democrats in Congress. We didn't get voting representation when the Dems were in power, we didn't get it after 8 years of Clinton/Gore, and we won't get it after Gore becomes president. There'll be no walk out at the convention because they'll go along to get along. We'll either win the year old (4/19/99) lawsuit or maybe the NAACP will do a boycott of. . . ?


Ed T. Barron,

For the first time in the five years that I have been subscribing to the satellite TV service, I had a reception problem. At first I thought it might be due to the eruptions on the sun. The lack of clarity in the picture was in contrast to the very sharp picture I had been receiving for several years. It took a couple of calls to the customer service folks but they managed to correct the problem from their end (did they send someone up there to kick the satellite?). I now have a crystal clear picture again and can cancel that eye exam appointment.


Whose Interests Does the Judiciary Committee Serve?
Jim McCleod,

I did not understand Councilmember Brazil recently pointing out his blatant use of the Judiciary Committee for commercial interests. In his Mar. 14, 2000, Weekly Update e-mail, states: “[P]erhaps you might have noticed Councilmember Brazil in a promotional piece for the [Fox 5's] investigative news team.” “Council committee hearings are the only way in town for people to participate [in D.C.'s legislative process].” This is a quote from the National Conference of State Legislatures Committee January 1999 report on the D.C. Council. A month later the DC Appleseed Center issued its own report on the Council, and among other things recommended, “Establish[ing] a comprehensive citizen outreach strategy that not only improves methods for providing notice of hearings, but includes additional ways of increasing public awareness of, and involvement in, Council activities.”

With this relatively recent public assessment of the Council, I was surprised to read in the Post [“Lax Laws Make D.C. Haven For Marijuana, Council Told,” Jan. 14, 2000] that a bill was being discussed at a Judiciary Committee hearing to consider making marijuana distribution a felony and that the only persons present appeared to be a Post reporter, Chairman Brazil, U.S. Attorney Lewis, and two officers from the Metropolitan Police department. One reason for my surprise is that I remember testifying a couple of years ago on almost identical proposed legislation and seeing many other persons in opposition testifying.

Apparently only a select group received notice of this January 13th hearing on Bill 13-240, which was introduced in May 1999 by Mr. Brazil. There was no public notice of this hearing either in the Council calendar or the D.C. Register (although I am told some in the press were notified). Five years ago, Mr. Brazil authored legislation reducing citizen involvement in the criminal justice system by eliminating jury trials for most misdemeanors. I guess he is now “streamlining” another branch of government. He may be right that it is easier to reach verdicts and pass legislation when citizens don't slow up the process, but the chair of our judiciary committee should hold the opinions of citizens in higher regard — they can still vote (unless the legislation when through without public notice, taking that right away too). On March 7, 2000, Councilmembers Mendelson, Allen and Chavous introduced the “Misdemeanor Jury Trial Act of 2000,” Bill 13-634. It's a step in the right direction. Let's hope Mr. Brazil will allow this bill to be considered in his committee (even though neither Fox 5 nor the Post have suggested he do so) and that the Council does something to address NCSL and Appleseed Center's valid criticism and recommended solutions the Council has had more than a year to consider.


Legalize Them
Caroline Polk,

I agree with Thomas Smith's posting about the futility and stupidity of the so-called Drug War. An organization called Common Sense for Drug Policy has a great web site for those who are interested in working to change drug policy — it's


Cleveland Park Book Donations — Not
Jill Bogard

The Friends of Cleveland Park Library had a very successful spring book sale, and we thank all our friends and neighbors who bought or donated books (often both). Now, however, we must ask that no more books be donated for a while. The Cleveland Park Library will be closed during April for asbestos abatement, and therefore cannot take in any donations. And for the rest of March, our volunteer sorters will be busy boxing up the books we presently have on the shelves, in preparation for the asbestos work. We simply cannot deal with more books at this time. We will be open for business — donations — in May. See you then!



Book Sale
Martha Saccocio,

The Friends of the Tenley-Friendship Branch of the D.C. Public Library will host its semi-annual book sale on Saturday, April 1 from 12 — 4 pm. The library is located at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street, NW, across from the Tenleytown-AU metro stop.


Spring Auction and Dinner at Temple Micah
Sid Booth,

I'd like to invite you to the delectable, delightful and (substantially) tax deductible Temple Micah Purim/Spring Auction on Saturday, March 18. The festive event includes a seated dinner, dessert and wine; a silent auction where bids are submitted on cards, and a (sometimes) wild and entertaining live auction. All these techniques are to allow bids on a wide variety of goods and services, including: sporting, concert, and theater tickets; home cooked or restaurant lunches, brunches, and dinners; escape weekends, use of summer and winter vacation houses; gift certificates for book stores, department stores and restaurants; paintings, glassware, sculpture, prints, and other collectibles; personal, legal, medical, culinary and vocational services, and cooking, baking, yoga, art, computer, or language lessons.

Tickets to the auction and dinner are $25 and can be purchased at the door 2829 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., between Fulton and Garfield Streets. Contact 342-9175.


Tasting Society International
Charlie Adler,

March and April wine events: 1) 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 exciting 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. 2) 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. Taste over 100 stellar wines from Sonoma's finest wineries and benefit Share Our Strength's fight to stop hunger. This is part of SOS's national tour bringing the great wines of Sonoma, California across the country. Stonestreet, La Crema, Nelson Estate, Rancho Zabaco, Schug Carneros Estate, and Pedroncelli are just a few of the stellar wineries in this showcase event. 3) March 30th (Thursday), “Spring Wine Tasting Extravaganza!” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW, Valet Parking, Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line), 7-9 PM, $35 per person. Taste over 80 French Wines and purchase them at the real wholesale prices. Say “Au revoir!” to paying too much for a great selection of French wines and champagne! Wines Provided by William-Harrison Imports Portfolio. 4) 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. 5) April 18th (Tuesday), “French Country Wines,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $40 per person. Taste the best of France's countryside! 6) 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. 7) April 27th (Thursday), “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $39 per person. Our most attended event! Reservations: click on



Rental Apartment Wanted
Laura and Francis Siaya,

Just a notice to see if anyone knows of a nice 2 bedroom that will up for rent soon. My husband and I (along with our cats) are trying to find a nice place in a safe neighborhood. If anyone has any suggestions we would appreciate hearing from you.



Executive Assistant
Karen Feld,

Executive/Personal Asst. needed immediately for media personality. Manage a two-person smoke-free office, provide research/editorial/PR assistance, handle personal schedule, run errands (must have driver’s license) and more. MUST be computer, web, office and media savvy, a self-starter, and interested in politics/entertainment essential. Unique, full-time opportunity for one with a flexible schedule and sense of humor. E-mail detailed cover letter, resume, and 3 references to


Artists and Entertainers Sought for Glover Park Day 2000
Judie Guy,

Looking for artists and entertainers for Glover Park Day -- Saturday, June 3, 11 to 5 on the grounds of Guy Mason Rec. Center at Wisconsin and Calvert. This is our 11th annual neighborhood festival, and it's very popular and well attended. Every year we feature food from our award winning restaurants, arts and crafts by local artists, diverse local musicians/other entertainers, children's activities, prize drawings, etc. While we always have returning artists and musicians, we're always looking to add new ones as well. Fee for space for artists/crafters is very reasonable. Pay for entertainers negotiable. E-mail if interested.


CLASSIFIEDS — March InTowner
Peter Wolff,

This is to let you know that the March 2000 on-line 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. The next issue will publish on April 14. To read the lead stories, be sure to click the link on the home page to the following headlines:

1400 Block P Street on a Roll; Properties Being Acquired, Projects to Include Retail
Hilton Expansion Plan D.O.A. with Neighborhood; Company May Reconsider
The Phillips to Expand; Museum's Director Tells of Plans for Community Outreach
Dorothy Bedford Hopley ("Miss Dottie") Celebrates 100; Neighbors & Friends Give Party


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
ACKERMAN'S SHADOW SUPERINTENDENT: D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is a firm believer in the District's unique separation of powers doctrine. Under the city's home rule charter, Ackerman isn't accountable to the mayor and is barely answerable to the D.C. Council, though it determines each spring how much money the schools get. The superintendent's only boss, in fact, is the out-to-lunch D.C. financial control board, which seized control of the schools in November 1996.
D.C.'s official flow chart provides Ackerman a written excuse for blowing off kid-oriented events held by Mayor Anthony A. Williams. For example, when the mayor on Jan. 5 announced his plan to recast the elected Board of Education, Ackerman stayed away. Nor did she make the scene at the March 6 State of the District Address, at which Williams outlined his bold education plan — and which the mayor held on Ackerman's own turf at Ballou High School. She also bagged out on the mayor's Monday afternoon budget briefing but did send her deputy, Elois Brooks. (Aides say the superintendent has been out of town recently to tend to her ill father.)
In the year to come, however, Ackerman must add another duty to her position description: warding off an increasingly meddlesome mayor.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
To April 9: Michael A. Lang: A Nice Clean Room -- Pool Hall Portraits >From 1950s Baltimore, on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, to Sunday, April 9, at the Touchstone Gallery, 406 7th St. NW. Free.
Saturday, March 18: Cathy Ponton King & Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers, 7 p.m. at the State Theater, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. $13.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the subscription form at To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available at

All postings should also be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.