Street Cuts and Cherry Blossoms
Dear Mole People:
We have plenty of time to think about the condition of the city's streets
these days, since we have little else to do as we wait in garages for our automobiles'
tires to be patched and suspensions to be repaired. Even bicyclists and drivers, normally
at war with each other, are on the same side of this issue; all of us appreciate a smooth
ride, and frequently travel to the suburbs just to find one. Street cuts and potholes have
been as abundant as cherry blossoms but, while the cherry blossoms are fleeting,
symbolizing to the Japanese that nature and life are transitory; street cuts and potholes
are eternal, symbolizing to Washingtonians that incompetent city management is permanent.
Perhaps, instead of having an annual Cherry Blossom festival, Washington
could sponsor a pothole and street cut festival. A major advantage would be that tourists
could be assured of always having an abundant crop to view, no matter what time of year
they came. We could decorate the utility cuts, elect a Pothole Queen, and sponsor
sightseeing tours in Hummers and other off-road vehicles. We should take a tip from the
hucksters of self-esteem, and celebrate our shortcomings. Just as our moles are merely
beauty marks, our potholes and utility cuts are simply safety speed bumps in reverse.
DPW Director Has to Go
Ron Eberhardt, RGE1022@aol.com
D.C. Deputy Mayor Norman S. Dong's pronouncement overnight that the Mayor
is fed up with the lack of performance by DPW director Vanessa Dale Burns
particularly with regard to city streets is a breath of fresh air, but at least 60
days overdue. The fact that the mayor and his staff take responsibility and acknowledge
the dismal performance is in itself commendable, and a first in my 20-year memory of
living here. Frankly, I have considered if a criminal investigation is not warranted.
After all, the same District Government is punitive and highly unfavorable to excess
business in general. In this case they have given our city streets to the
telecommunications industry without fee (authorized by the council three years ago),
without bond and most importantly without enforcement of time rules that would prevent our
streets from looking and feeling as though they have been carpet bombed! The trench work,
however, is not the complete explanation for DC's dismal streets. NO maintenance and
regular replacement is at the core of the never-ending problem. Many of DC's worst streets
are not the result of trench work. Yet they are so deep pocked that a vehicle, going 15
MPH, cannot avoid all of the massive holes that will wreck your car. Year after year I
drive across the Potomac River into Virginia and seemingly their streets are never in as
horrible condition as DC's. Previously, the District has blamed the deficiency on lack of
funds. Now, supposedly, we have a surplus of funds. In reality what this has always been
about is lack of effective, competent leadership and management. Ousting Burns without
further embarrassment, and likely a dozen or so other DPW officials (including those in
charge of traffic signaling) will be a start to rid the District of this embarrassing and
annoying problem. Let's get on with it, Mr. Dong.
A front page article in the Post today [Thursday] focused on the
long-term damage to our streets caused by utility cuts and those fiber optic trenches. But
there have always been utility cuts of some kind in the streets, and I am much more
concerned with the short-term issue, which is the miles of chopped-up streets apparently
caused by the laying of fiber optic cables. It is particularly mysterious that, according
to the Post, even after recent reforms, utilities are given four months to fix
the street from the time that work begins. FOUR MONTHS. I cannot understand why it takes
that long, and I do not believe that any suburban jurisdiction would permit their streets
to remain chopped up for that long. Especially once the new concrete layer is put down, it
seems to me that the utility can and should be required to do the surface patch within a
day or two. Connecticut Avenue between McKinley Street and Chevy Chase Circle, for
example, has been ignored since well into the last millennium, even though the concrete
base was long ago put in. Other streets have lain chopped up for weeks or months. It seems
to me that it costs the utility the same amount to patch the street, regardless of whether
they wait many months or patch it as soon as the concrete layer is in. So why can't it be
done right away?
Whose Streets Are They Anyhow?
Ron Eberhardt, RGE1022@aol.com
First the District Government gave away taxpayer provided and paid-for
streets to the telecommunications industry. Now come city paid contractors who are
supposed to permanently close these trenches and other openings by utility companies.
Instead they pose emergency no parking signs for a week and never show up. Yesterday the
city announced resumption of mechanized street cleaning that unbeknownst to most of us had
been suspended for the winter. Nevertheless, that did not stop for one day DC police and
parking ticket queens from writing thousands of tickets for residents otherwise legally
parked except for weekly street cleaning that the city knew was not going to happen. There
was no accompanying suspension of enforcement and the resulting parking tickets, I can
personally assure you. Given our present and required future investment (street decay and
repairs) in the telecommunications industry wiring of the city, we should all be
stockholders. Contractors should be required to limit no parking lane closures to
four-hour periods one day at a time rather 40-hour periods over a week's time.
Furthermore, contractors should be fined if they post no parking signs and then do not
make the repairs. The mayor should instruct its terrorist-type ticket writers to suspend
enforcement of no parking restrictions for street cleaning when none is going on!
Contractors have far too much leeway to slap emergency no parking signs about without
concern for its impact on traffic and parking. The city ought to manage this. No lane of
parking should be allowed to be blocked weekdays without a city traffic engineer deciding
the impact and providing other lanes to ease the congestion. The real answer is that DC
finally adopt rules that require all but emergency street openings be conducted between
8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in the downtown commercial area. All of this seems quite logical
and it is. What's it all about? The same it has always been about. Gross incompetence by
those who we pay to serve us. And what's more, they simply do not care. I hope the Mayor
and Deputy Mayor read this and take action immediately to stop this absurd abuse of those
of us who pay for and own these very streets that others want to limit our use of.
Paul Penniman hit a nail on the head with his latest comments about DSL
and why and how did we jump on this bandwagon? DSL is all the rage. When my
company finally upgraded to an ISDN line a telemarketer from our ISP immediately tried to
sell us DSL. And the ink was barely dry on our ISDN contract with them! But Mr. Penniman
has the future right ... it's wireless. So who, in light of what the future holds, made
the decision to allow our streets to be cut (multiple times; no cable sharing here, folks)
to lay technology cables that will probably be obsolete in 5 years? And these cuts will
take approximately five years off the lives of our streets, according to recent same-day
front page articles in both the Post and Times. Also, these cuts are not
temporarily patched in a timely manner in accordance with the supposed rules
set by DPW. (By the way, some of these temporary patches have been there so long they have
eroded to nothing.) Heads deserve to roll at DPW.
Government, in its infinite wisdom at every level, continually espouses
the virtues of competition as a benefit to the consumer. The trouble with government is
that it has no competition of its own to benefit the consumer, aka the taxpayer.
Freeloading Utilities and Municipal Downsizing
Lucy Mallan, Lucyma@his.com
Did anyone else wonder why the city is not charging utilities for long and
short term damage to city roads (Reno? Cathedral? Nebraska?) but proposing to fire 1000
employees to save money? Any way to transfer funds from one budget to another? How to
register this question with a responsive city official?
Dont Look for Any Real Savings
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
At long last the Mayor has announced that there will be cutbacks in the
bloated D.C. Government bureaucracy. One thousand positions will be cut according to the
announcement, which will "save" $37 Megabucks. What will really happen is that
most of these savings will not really materialize, since they will be merely
the elimination of unfilled spots. There is no question that the D.C. Government lacks
both efficiency and effectiveness with much of the current workforce. Far deeper cuts
could be made if there were improvements in what city employees do and how they do it
without any real impact on the resulting services.
A far better way to act as the Mayor would be to find ways of improving
services performed by those in the workforce who can perform when empowered and given the
right tools (including education and equipment) to do their jobs. This would make D.C. a
better place to live and work. That may be too much to ask for. We might have to settle
for fewer non-performing persons and the same old services, or lack thereof.
Sorry to see Jason Ziedenberg's report about snafus at the driver's
license office, but what about the car inspection station? I thought I had seen stories
(maybe on this list) about the refurbished Half Street S.W. facility's improved
efficiency. But I showed up at 6:30 a.m. on Mar. 16 (it opens at 6) and had to wait until
after 8 for the inspection. I don't recall that long of an early morning experience over
two decades of our recent mayoral administrations. The actual inspection took less than
five minutes; no problem with that. The moral of this story may be not to expect quick
action in the early morning; and of course, the station can't be blamed for an unusual
crowd on a random morning (although this didn't strike me as such a gathering). Is 100
minutes too long to wait?
I can't comment on the process for first time driver's license or car
registration, but I've never had to wait more than 30-60 minutes to renew my license or
tags. The secret is avoiding DMV's main service center at C Street and going to the H
Street center which can process renewals for licenses and tags. Best of all, it has
Saturday hours. The Center is located at 616 H Street, NE, and hours are M-F, 11 am to 7
pm (Wed. hours are extended to 8 pm) and Sat., 8:15 am to 4 pm. Details can be found at
DMV's web page at http://dmv.washingtondc.gov/.
License Renewal; Bad But Not As Bad As All That
Harold Goldstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
We've read recently all sorts of rumors about all day waits for license
renewals. Here's my experience. I arrived at 3:25 one Wednesday afternoon at the C St.
facility (Weds is when they stay open till 8). I was on one line for 15 minutes to get my
actual number. Then I sat for 90 minutes till the number was called. Then 5 minutes to
take eye test, pay, take picture, and get license. So under 2 hours; about comparable to
previous experiences. But this time you could sit and read or whatever while waiting
instead of standing on these stupid serpentine lines. So bring a book and relax and it
ain't that bad.
Wouldn't it be fine if we could all enjoy a cool shaded ... haven
for bikers, walkers ... without rats like the rest of the city! We would also enjoy
a city without clogged roads and traffic jams. Too bad the residents of DC and Maryland
don't cooperate by taking public transportation to work, so all our parks could remain
pristine, for everyone. Unfortunately, until such time as we're all prepared to leave our
cars at home, the streets ARE congested. Some residents used Klingle and want to use it
again. Porter Road does not do the job just fine. and neither does Rock Creek
Parkway. You may not need to use the public roads to go to work, Harry Homeowner, but
there is such a thing as the common good, which is why we pay taxes to
I never used Klingle and wouldn't need to if it were open now. But the
cavalier attitude expressed in Mr. Desenberg's E-mail is offensive. Marie Antoinette would
have felt right at home with you folks.
Advertisement Posters in Public Space
Kathy Chamberlain, Hillcrest, S.E., email@example.com
The District's laws prohibiting posters in public space are weak and
unclear. Many in my neighborhood wish that laws would be strengthened so that posters of
all types would be banned from public space. Recently and to our delight, our PSA
Lieutenant caught a Maryland-based entertainment company stapling posters on trees
throughout our neighborhood. He fined the leader of the group and confiscated the
remainder of the posters and the staple gun as evidence. Hurray for Lt. Goodwin of PSA
610! The company owner wrote a complaint to Chief Ramsey, saying that Lt. Goodwin's
actions were unreasonable because there were so many posters and other trash all over the
District that a few more shouldn't make any difference. He went on to say that the police
should be addressing serious crime rather than public space violations. The complaint
wasn't taken seriously by MPD, but it illustrates an all-too-common attitude of people who
see the District as a dumping ground.
Even if police throughout the city would enforce poster regulations like
Lt. Goodwin did, it wouldn't be enough because the regulations are strong only where
posters are placed on trees. We residents need to lower our tolerance level for poster
trash. There is no law against individuals removing them from public space, and until our
laws are strengthened, we have found this to be the only effective way to control the
problem. In Hillcrest, Penn-Branch, and other nearby neighborhoods, we remove
advertisement posters very soon after they go up. It has taken a couple years, but the
message is finally getting through to advertisers that they are wasting time and money in
our neighborhoods. While posters used to go up almost every weekend, we now see them once
every few months. As for political campaign posters for non-DC candidates, one very large
plywood one for Albert Wynn of Maryland was recently erected at the entrance to our
neighborhood. A few calls to Mr. Wynn's office had the sign removed within 12 hours. Had
Wynn's people not removed it, we would have removed it.
As a concession to what little democracy we have in the District, we would
not remove campaign posters for DC political candidates until after the election although
they are just as unsightly as other posters. Some jurisdictions do not allow political
posters on public space, but only on private space not a bad idea for the District
since our political candidates, especially the losers, cannot seem to remember to remove
their posters after the election.
Im on the Trash Brigade
Jessica Vallette Revere, firstname.lastname@example.org
It is sad that with all the new money being infused into my neighborhood,
the city can't clean the streets (or pick up the trash) on time and without lots of
prodding from me. In fact, strangely, when I called last week I was told that street
cleaning had been suspended for the last two months. Whose bright idea was that? We have
rabies in our neighborhood, and it is a concern that a dead squirrel has been in the
gutter of Vermont Avenue since the beginning of February. Meanwhile, my confirmation
number languishes in the system.
[In response to the past discussion of Mayor Williams's phone calls
apologizing for snow removal:] And how many thousands of your tax dollars would you like
them to spend calling us, instead of buying a new truck for plowing snow, or paying some
overtime to do spring clean-up in badly needed areas of the city, or buying a new garbage
truck. Give me the services. They can then call a press conference to say this is what we
bought instead of paying for phone calls. It was a stupid idea and a waste of money.
Sentencing Commission Hearing, March 22, 2000
Jim McLeod, email@example.com
On March 17th, the District of Columbia Advisory Commission on Sentencing
issued its proposed recommendations. I believe the only pubic hearing for citizens to
comment on the recommendations will be the Judiciary Committee's budget hearing this
coming Wednesday, March 22, at 2:00 p.m., in the Council's chambers, 441 4th Street NW. To
testify or comment, call Ms. Thomas at 353-7797 by noon March 21, 2000. By April 5, the
Commission must recommend what the City Council should do regarding amendments to the D.C.
Code mandated by Congress (per the Revitalization Act) with respect to the
sentences to be imposed for felonies committed on or after August 5, 2000. Congress is
mandating that the District do away with parole for most felonies. This legislation will
have a profound impact on our city.
Race and the Census
Steph Human, Allegedly Faul, firstname.lastname@example.org
You want to talk about race? Let's talk about the census form, which
resembles some sort of performance art document rather than a meaningful government
inquiry. Nearly all of it is taken up with questions of race, and not in any logical way:
It distinguishes between Japanese and Korean, but lumps Somalis, Nigerians, and black
Americans into one category and Turks, Danes, and Appalachian whites into another. This is
absurd: Chinese is a nationality, while white is a skin tone. Both
cover a wide variety of ethnicities.
I told one friend I was planning to check Other and write my
race in as Jewish/English. She is of German extraction, and said the whole
thing made her so mad she just wrote in Master. I know it's
offensive, she says, I was offended. Oh, and the census form also asks
for birth date AND age. Surely the first bit of information eliminates the need for the
Incensed by the Census Form
Lonna Shafritz, email@example.com
I was one of the lucky 1/6 of the population to get the long form.
However, in addition to a number of bizarre and/or poorly worded questions, the census
publicity and form drive home the fact to DC residents that we are not real citizens of
this country, since our information will not have any effect on distribution of
representatives. And, adding insult to injury was the request for which state you're from
I felt like replying NONE. Happy census-filling out, fellow
Official Mayoral Residences and Registered Voters
Len Sullivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Imhoff sagely questioned my support for an official mayoral residence
by asking how many other US cities provide them. Calls to the mayors' offices in 32 US
cities above 300,000 in population produced only three: New York, Los Angeles, and
Detroit; none in cities below 1 million in population. Governor's mansions, of course,
would be a different story, and might be a valid reason to pursue statehood! A poll of
foreign capital cities might yield more encouragement for my position, but not on my phone
Re voter registration, I fully subscribe to Mr. Binder's exhortation to
prune the voter rolls in DC. Our NARPAC estimate, at http://www.narpac.org/GOVI.HTM#govelex,
is that the rolls may be overstated by 20-25%. If 1998 claims for increasing registration
and decreasing population continued, there would be more registered voters than adults by
about 2002, and more voters than total adults and kids by about 2012. Wouldn't say much
for the responsible exercise of local democracy.
Ward 2 Democrats Forum on Campus Plans
Budd Lane, email@example.com
The Ward 2 Democrats are having a forum on campus plans, with a primary
focus on Foggy Bottom and the George Washington University Plan, on Wednesday, March 22,
from 7-9 p.m. The forum will be moderated by Bill Rice, and will include Bernard Demczuk
of George Washington University, ANC Commissioners Barbara Spillinger and Barbara Zartman,
a a representative of the GWU Student Association. For more information, call 234-7921.
Morehouse College Glee Club
Patricia Pasqual, firstname.lastname@example.org
The District of Columbia Public Library is once again hosting the
Morehouse College Glee Club on Friday, March 25, at noon in the main lobby of the Martin
Luther King Memorial Library at 901 G St. NW. Visit the Library's web site, http://www.dclibrary.org, for directions to the
Library. The concert is free and open to the public. No reservations are required. For
more information call 727-1186.
Join fellow Washingtonians for an evening of fun, great food, and silent
auction on March 28th at I Matti, one of DC's best restaurants, in Adams Morgan. Full
dinner with a choice of entree. Cost only $40.00 per person. Money benefits Team Leukemia.
Please RSVP by March 21 to Liz at 338-1547 or by e-mail: email@example.com.
On Wednesday, April 5, members of Congress will square off in the 13th
annual Home Court basketball game against Georgetown University Law Center faculty.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, a
nonprofit that provides free legal services to homeless individuals and families in
Washington, D.C. Tipoff at 8:00 p.m., McDonough Gymnasium, Georgetown University, Main
Campus, 37th and O St. NW. Hill's Angels (The Congressional Team): Rep. David Bonior
(D-MI), Rep. Steven Buyer (R-IN), Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL, Team Captain), Rep. Gene Green
(D-TX), Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL),
Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), Rep. James Walsh (R-NY), and Cheerleader Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee
(D-TX). Hoya Lawyas (The Faculty Team) Team Captains: Assistant Dean Everett Bellamy,
Professor Mitt Regan. Tickets for the event are $5 for adults and $3 for children under
We will be hosting two events this week at Max's of Washington, 1725 F
Street, NW, 842-0070. Wednesday, March 22, 7:30-9:30 p.m., a cognac and cigar tasting.
Featured cigars, Arturo Fuente 8.5.8, Hoyo Excalibur II. Matt Krimm and Duane Webb of W.
Curtis Draper Inc. will be in to talk about the cigars. Featured Pierre Ferrand cognacs,
Reserve aged 20 years; Cigare Reserve, Havana, aged 25 years; Selection des Anges, aged 30
years; Abel, aged 45 years. STEPHANE DEFOT of GABRIEL & ANDREU fine spirits will be in
to give the cognac tasting. Tickets are $20, which includes the 2 cigars and a tasting of
these four cognacs. Space is limited. Call 842-0070 to make reservations or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thursday, March 23, 5:30-9:30 p.m.,
Mor Vodka/DCity Magazine Happy Hour. Mor Vodka's brand manager, Dallas Vipond, will be
there to host the event with us and give away the first Mor Vodka drink. There is a dress
code: no jeans or sneakers please. We'll have food and live entertainment (TBA) and video
coverage by City Club Cam http://www.cityclubcam.com.
There will be a $5 cover charge at the door. Please RSVP to 842-0070 or E-mail email@example.com.
CLASSIFIEDS VOLUNTEERS WANTED
Earth Day 2000 Be Part of Something Really
Liz Karan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Earth Day 2000's Washington D.C. team is seeking energetic and dynamic
individuals to help prepare for its flagship event April 22nd on the National Mall.
Flexible volunteer shifts are available all day every day between now and April 22nd. For
more information contact us at email@example.com
or call 202-408-ED2K.
CLASSIFIEDS EMPLOYMENT WANTED
Daycare in Brookland
Suzanne Griffith, Brookland, firstname.lastname@example.org
We are looking to share the baby-sitter who has cared for our children and
others in Brookland for 7 years. She is loving, energetic, very reliable, and available
from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. She currently takes care of a two-year-old and a
one-year-old in a home near the Brookland Metro station. The third child in her care just
graduated into preschool. Her primary language is Spanish, but she speaks a
modest and growing amount of English. Please call Suzanne Griffith at 832-0589 for more
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Ping-pong table with playback option, top quality (Harvard Sport/Sears),
excellent condition, net and paddles included, $199 (retail price $249). Send E-mail or
call Rick or Debbie at 703-319-9262.
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