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March 26, 2000

And the Oscar Goes To

Dear Members of the Academy:

Dorothy and I have been thinking about who would win the awards if they were given in DC politics. Here are a few of our awards that are printable; some are serious and others tongue in cheek. If you have any suggestions, please add them. We've left the best picture category completely open, but don't hesitate to add other nominations in any of the following categories.

Best actor in a supporting role: Deputy Mayor Norman Dong, for his reprise of the Claude Raines role in Casablanca: “I'm shocked, shocked, to discover that there are potholes and utility cuts in our streets. Round up double the usual suspects.”
Best actress in a supporting role: Chief Financial Officer Valerie Holt, for pretending to be independent and overseeing the city's annual audit, without having to release the audit anywhere near its due date.
Best actor: Mayor Tony Williams, for staging and starring in two press conferences each and every week of the past year to announce new major government initiatives.
Best actress: a tie: Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and DPW Director Vanessa Dale Burns, each starring in her own production of “The Madwoman of Chaillot.”
Best make-up and best costuming: if you think the other nominations are catty, imagine what these two were.
Best original song: “The Pothole Two-Step,” with its haunting refrain, “We will hold our managers responsible.”
Best original score: Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham, for scoring several valuable apartment buildings in Columbia Heights and Cardozo-Shaw, getting the city to evict their tenants and deliver them to their landlords to sell empty; but then getting cold feet when he realized the public reaction and trying to get the City Council to pass gratuitous emergency legislation to save him from the results.
Best sound effects editing: the anonymous individual or individuals who set off the fire alarm nearly every Friday afternoon at One Judiciary Square, giving employees the rest of the afternoon off and a lead on a long weekend.
Best documentary: ANC Commissioner Willie Flowers, whose persistence led to the closing of an unlicensed halfway house in his district and to starting the District's new program to inspect 150 group homes for the mentally retarded and mentally ill.
Best script: Kate Boo, “Invisible Lives, Invisible Deaths.”
Best director: Colby King and the editorial board of the Washington Post, who are directing most of the actions of the Williams administration.
Best foreign picture: the Washington Post, for its photo of Tony Williams in the mayor's office in Paris, accompanying an article entitled “D.C. Budget Team in Disarray: While Mayor's Away, Aides Fumble Presentation to Council.”
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: First Mother Virginia Williams, for taking on all the ceremonial and goodwill duties of DC's missing-in-action First Lady.

Gary Imhoff


DC Voting Rights
Richard Steacy,

DC citizens should contact the Gore2000 campaign in order to get a commitment from the candidate that as president, Al Gore will aggressively seek a way to enfranchise DC citizens. A good way to bring the point home to Candidate Gore would be for DC's registered Democrats to vote for Bradley in the May Presidential Primary. Bradley was the only candidate to come out fully for DC voting rights. If non-candidate Bradley — still on the ballot in DC — were to get a significant number of votes, it might emphasize the point to Gore & Company.


Equality for DC! 200 Years And We're Still Not Giving Up
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

Votes for Washington, by John Clagett Proctor, 1919 (Sung by Proctor to the tune of “a well know song” at a meeting of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants.)

Everybody yell — let us yell; let us yell;
Let our voices swell, make it tell, make it tell.
Let the fact be advertised,
Washington is disenfranchised!
We will surely win, just pitch in with a grin;
Put some “pep” right in, make a din, make a din;
Soon the good work will be done
And we'll vote in Washington.

Over here, over here, let us vote, let us vote over here;
In the House and Senate, we must get in it
Or we'll know the reason over here;
The excuse is too lose,
Now's the time to correct the abuse,
For we can never give up the battle
Until the D.C. has the ballot over here.

Shout with all your might for your right, for your right;
Give your lips a bite — we must fight, we must fight;
Washington at Valley Forge
Showed the grit that was in George!
Emulate the man, for you can, for you can;
Be a shouting fan — in the van, in the van;
Congress must consider us
Or we'll raise one great big fuss.

Over here, over here, give us all equal rights over here;
In this voteless city we'll sing this ditty
'Till the Congress hears us over here.
How can we say we're free —
Is it right, is it true liberty?
We'll sing it over, yes, sing it over,
And we won't give up 'till we're voting over here.

In the war abroad, in accord with the Lord,
Toward the kaiser fraud and his horde and his horde,
Patriotically we went —
To the rear the Huns we sent!
Now that duty's done toward the Hun, toward the Hun,
And your soldier son has returned with his gun,
Don't you think his pleading vote
Should get him a vote?

Over here, over there, every Hun can elect over there,
Though we whipped them badly, they vote quite gladly,
But we cannot do it over here;
You'll agree, it should be —
Every one in this world should be free;
Come, think it over, yes, think it over,
And give the D.C. people suffrage over here.

Proctor edited Washington, Past and Present: A History, in 1930. I encourage you to read a segment (Chapter 20, by Edwin Melvin Williams), posted by 20 DC Citizens at


Why We Should All Be Glad about the Defeat of the DC Voting Rights Lawsuits
Tom Matthes,

Because we won't be seeing this news item next January 20:

WASHINGTON. Congress today elected George W. Bush president by a joint session vote of 1,521 to 312 over Al Gore.

All Democratic members immediately walked out in protest, noting that Mr. Gore would have won without the inclusion of electoral votes from the new, GOP-dominated “virtual states.” But the Democratic lawmakers swiftly returned to denounce the votes to double the size of the Supreme Court. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle vowed to challenge the powers of the enlarged court after the Reverend Jerry Falwell was confirmed as the new deputy chief justice.

DC Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton reiterated her outrage that, after the Supreme Court upheld her right to a House floor vote in the DC voting rights cases last year, “partisan Republicans took advantage of that just ruling to pack Congress with lackeys from phony virtual states that just happened to have GOP majorities. Now,” she added, “the vast right-wing conspiracy is packing the courts as well.”

Newt Gingrich, the newly elected speaker for life from the “Virtual State of Cyber Georgia,” dismissed Mrs. Norton's complaints. “It's too late to hold conservatives to strict construction after the Supreme Court overruled the provisions on congressional voting in Article I in order to give DC a vote,” he said.

Isn't the moral of this story obvious? Play by the rules and use the constitutional amendment process which ended slavery and gave women the vote.


Voting Rights and Wrongs
John Whiteside,

Feel free to ignore me, as I live in Virginia and therefore have full voting rights, but. . . . The fundamental problem with DC's situation is that residents pay full federal taxes but don't get represented. It's ironic that our country was born out of a war over this issue (among others) and yet can't seem to resolve it. I wonder what would happen if someone led a large-scale tax revolt in DC — essentially, organizing to get DC citizens to get their withholding stopped and to stop filing federal tax returns. I am not a lawyer, so I don't know how tenable this is, but you would need a large group to organize enough people to make it matter, and to find some legal representation to help people out when the inevitable repercussions came. It's kind of a fun idea to think about though.

On the living in Virginia part, anyone who owns rental property, please see the classifieds.


Voting Rights — No
Ed T. Barron,

Just at the time when the District of Columbia is getting some favorable national attention and a purported favorable review in an upcoming “60 Minutes” segment, we have people clamoring for "voting rights." That means representation in the Senate and Congress, a perk reserved only for States in the Union. Be careful what you wish for. Who do you think the likely representatives to Congress and the Senate would be if left to the electorate of D.C.? Try Marion Barry and Jesse Jackson. That would set the District back ten years in the eyes of the nation. I vote No for “Voting Rights” for D.C. and a huge no for Statehood.” Residents of D.C. who feel so disenfranchised should move back across the border to MD or VA.


Completing the American Revolution
Mike Livingston,

On the appellate dismissal of Adams v. Clinton (in which the D.C. Statehood Green Party is an amicus), Ann Loikow (D) said it best: the District of Columbia is the only part of the original 13 colonies whose residents fought and died for American freedom and then lost all of the political rights they had won in the war. When we go to Denver this summer to represent the District at the nation's first Green presidential convention, we'll be wearing three-cornered hats. On to the Supremes. Thanks, George LaRoche — one day our great-great-grandchildren will sing songs about you.


DC Representation and DMV
Jean Mammen,

DC representation and Federal jury duty. I am getting awfully tempted at the thought of, if called for Federal jury duty, showing up but stating I do not wish to serve. My grounds would be that, since I was not able to vote for anyone who helped craft the laws, I am not capable of enforcing such laws. I am not sure what the repercussions might be either for myself, or for DC if DC citizens as a whole boycotted Federal jury service. Could they call people from outside DC to serve on a Federal grand jury? Or on a Federal trial jury? Or would grand juries and jury trials grind to a halt? What is the punishment if you show up but decline to serve? If you made it very clear you could not enforce laws you had no hand in making, would you be excused? What if the entire panel summoned had to be excused?

Re DMV: In 40 years I have never had a bad experience there — whether inspection, license renewal, tags, whatever ( on the other hand, I never win door prizes, raffles, or Publishers Clearinghouse). I did have an hour wait at the Half street inspection station when I tried to go before work and met all the other people trying the same thing, plus all the taxis. I learned to go at other times, even Saturdays, or after work. When the West Virginia station reopens, if it does do all the taxis, Half street should be much improved.


Lee Perkins,

Since I worked out of my house, I found that mid morning and about 2 p.m. were good times (after the early morning rush, before the onslaught of those who thought they could do it on their lunch hour, or after the lunch hour crew had given up and gone back to work) that worked for me. About three times in a row I was in and out in about 1/2 hour!


Long Car Inspection Observation
Jamie Treworgy,

Both readers who wrote about their long waits went early in the morning, and the most recent one went on a Monday morning. These are bad times to go. My car inspection experiences, usually done mid-week and mid-morning have generally been good. The best experience I ever had was at 2:30 PM on Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. It was like a drive through. Pick your date and time strategically, and definitely avoid Monday morning — since everyone whose sticker expired over the weekend will be there.


Road Cuts
Dan Parker,

I'm relieved to hear that the city will begin charging telecommunications companies more, but certainly not enough, for tearing up our streets. They will also require conduits to be laid or for companies to coordinate their digs. I'm not sure this will ever happen, as city seems to be so inept at coordinating simple things like supplying schools with educational materials. Mayor Williams and “the powers that be” fear holding back progress in levying fees for these great inconveniences but do not focus on the costs associated with that progress. Sure the roads will need to be patched, at the tax payer's expense. Without fail the roads will wear out sooner because of all the cuts, again a burden to the taxpayer. Undoubtedly hundreds of hours are lost in traffic snarls, or by residents trying to relocate their cars to avoid the construction. The toll on alignments will never be measured.

I know I am avoiding certain downtown blocks because of road cuts, combined with building construction equipment and associated lane closing. I cannot find metered parking, so I go out to the ‘burbs. I have to imagine that I should soon be able to jack-in to the new digital fiber that is being laid between my Dupont home and Georgetown office as the cuts are so pervasive, I've been driving over a continuous run of steel plates and patchwork for days. I think another strategy is in order. In addition to coordinating activity, why not also restrict cuts to either north/south or east/west on a given week or month. The city can then hopefully ensure that adequate side streets are available or reserved without cuts for people to get around.

With the combination of diplomatic parking, street sweeping, Emergency-No Parking signs from people moving about, taxi cabs unloading, and the constant double parking of everything from FedEx trucks to police cars, I hope someone in the city bureaucracy remembers that many of us stay in the city for quality of life, not faster Internet service. Kudos to the hardworking folks at DPW who began installing new sidewalks and curbs on 16th street as the middle of the street was still being traumatized by the telecoms. By the way, if all this digging cleans up the ghosting on District Cablevision channel 4, I may just recant my whole letter, but that is another matter.


Curious About Street Cuts
Pat Raz,

I'm told by someone who knows more than I do about this stuff that one of the "right" things to do when you have a bunch of utilities that all want to tear up your streets at the same time is that you don't give them individual permits; you require them to form a consortium in which all the companies participate. That way no matter how many individual cables they want to lay, they collectively only get one permit, issued to the consortium, which results in no more than one cut per street and a quicker end to the whole d#!% business. (Even that is too much if the repairs are as lousy as they've been lately). Before I join in the grousing about about DPW or other City entities, does anyone know if maybe someone in city government tried to require a consortium and ran into insurmountable (e.g., legal, political, etc.) roadblocks? (Sorry about the pun.)


Metro Signs
Paul Williams, Greater U Street,

I have noticed the large Metro electronic signs being installed in stations around the city, and welcomed their use; to tell passengers when the next train is expected (like London), what color train is approaching, delays, etc. But really, where did Metro get their design? The huge, square, metal boxes look like technology and design from 1970; they are both intrusive to the design of the stations, and frankly, a few decades behind in technological wonder.


Down the Rat Hole?
Ed T. Barron,

The Mayor's budget contains a big increase in funding for the schools. Sounds like that's not a bad idea but I applaud the Council for asking just where and how that money will be spent. If the money will be spent on hiring highly qualified teachers and reducing class sizes to make the teaching processes more effective, then I'm all for increasing the budget for education. If, however, the additional funds will be spent on administration and fly by night programs, then I say that money is being thrown right down the rat hole.


Clarification to Barron’s “Revealing Statistics”
Christina A. Samuels,

In the last issue of themail, Ed T. Barron said he was concerned about D.C. teacher quality because only one was picked to be a Washington Post “Outstanding Teacher” this year. The remaining honorees were “almost evenly split between MD and VA,” Barron noted. I'm an education reporter for the Post, covering schools in Prince William County. I just wanted to note that these awards are only given to one teacher in each of the counties (and cities) that we cover, thus, only one teacher from D.C. would be recognized each year. (And one teacher in Fairfax, one teacher in Montgomery County, one teacher in PG County, etc.) Our outstanding principals awards are distributed along the same basis.


Outstanding Teacher Awards
Lorri Manasse,

Regarding Ed Barron's comment that only one outstanding teacher out of 20 was from DC, I agree that the level of teaching could certainly be better in the District. However, these awards are no measure. There is one winner from every metro school district and one from the private schools. The Post does the same thing in its outstanding principal awards.

On another note, I echo the positive experience of those who have conducted DMV business at the H. Street annex. Short lines, polite and even friendly staff, free parking — in and out in about a half hour.

[Other people also pointed out the Post's policy of naming one outstanding teacher in each political jurisdiction, among them Ralph Blessing,, Deirdre Gaquin,, and Michael Cushman,, who added, “DCPS has an amazing number of 'outstanding teachers,' especially considering the conditions under which they work. What a shame that the Post chose to honor only one!” — Gary Imhoff]


The Long and Short of the Census Forms
Kenneth Nellis,

Wanda Avila asks, “Has anyone on this list received a short form?” I have! But I have also received two long forms! Also, at least two postcards reminding me to fill out the census and at least one letter (that I haven't yet opened) that will certainly request my compliance. Now, am I supposed to fill out all three? Gotta get my taxes done first.


Census Forms
Joan Eisenstodt,

And I know only one person who received the long form! We got the short form and were bummed . . . so little information asked. And single friends who got the short form were even more disappointed and wondered what the fuss was about.


That Quirky Census
Jean Lawrence,

Wanda Avila (Hi, Wanda, my fellow screenwriterger!) asks if anyone got the short census form. I did, out here in AZ. So did my sister. But, amusingly, my mother who lives in an assisted care “home,” got the long one. What will the Census Bureau make of a $2600 one-bedroom apartment with no stove? They'll think the living standards in Chandler, AZ, are the same as Silicon Valley. Especially when they note that she does not use kerosene!

[There were several other replies to the question about how received a short or long form. Jean Mammen,, wrote that she had received the short form, as she had in 1990 and 1980. Louise Swerdloff,, and Bill Rice,, got the short form. Mark-David Richards,, got the short form, but his boss got the long form. And Deirdre Gaquin,, points out that, since one out of six households gets the long form, the odds are heavily in favor of getting the short one. — Gary Imhoff]



Flea Market and Flower Mart
Leila Afzal,

Calling all artists, craftspersons, and garage sale hopefuls. The John Eaton Elementary School Afterschool Program (JEAP) is holding a Flea Market and Flower Mart on May 6, 2000 (rain date: May 13). Sell your artwork, crafts, and antiques(?) in the heart of Cleveland Park. Proceeds will benefit JEAP. The cost to vendors is $30 ($35 if you need to have a table provided.) For more information, please E-mail Valerie Gwinner at or call Consuelo Neuman at 202-745-3906. John Eaton is located at the corner of 34th and Lowell Streets, NW.


Trash Force to Join Potomac Watershed Cleanup
Paul Nahay,

Trash Force's next will be this Saturday, April 1, 2000, meeting 10:45 am at Fletcher's Boathouse just outside Georgetown. We'll be joining in to help the 12th Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup; many other groups will be cleaning up watershed areas in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania at the same time. It's an important effort, and we're glad to help out! Directions and info are at

If you've not been to Fletcher's Boathouse before, PLEASE allow at least 20 minutes more time than you think you'll need, as almost everybody gets lost trying to get there, esp. when the road is blocked off and you have to take confusing detours! 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!


Lowell School Lecture: Kevin Jennings( April 6)
Saskia van Groningen,

Understanding Sexual Identity: A Tool Box for Parents and Educators. From birth, all children are interested in their sexuality. Parents and educators need the understanding and sensitivity to support children as their bodies grow and their conceptual understanding develops. Kevin Jennings has devoted the last twelve years to assisting schools in creating safe and unbiased environments for learning. He is the founder of GLSEN, the Gay,Lesbian,Straight Education Network, a national organization with Chapters throughout the United States. To order tickets, send a self addressed, stamped envelope and check, made out payable to Lowell School, to: Lowell School Lecture Series, 1640 Kalmia Road, NW, 20012. Reservations received within 10 days of the lecture will be held at the door. Tickets are $12 each. The lecture is held at: Washington Hebrew Congregation, Massachusetts Avenue and Macomb Street, NW, on April 6, at 8 PM. For more information call 577-2000 or visit the web site,


Earth Day 2000 Is Less Than One Month Away.
Liz Karan,

This year we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Earth Day. With the flagship event in Washington, DC this year and we need you help to get hundreds of thousands of people on the Mall to make a powerful statement to the media, to Congress and to the world that environmental issues are important to the people of Washington, DC, and the American public. Earth Day Network is conducting a massive grassroots effort to get the word out about its flagship event on the mall. The event will be hosted by Leonardo DiCaprio and feature the musical talents of Keb' Mo', the Indigo Girls and others. Your assistance is essential to the success of this effort. There are many ways you and your community can get involved with the Earth Day 2000. Find out more contact Liz Karan at 202-408-ED2K(3325) or via E-mail at



Sunny Room Available
Lynne Mersfelder,

For short term or summer rental; furnished. Short term rentals available year round. Non-smoking owners of spacious charming 1928 deco house on Yuma Street seek quiet, clean, pet lover a plus (cat, old dog, and bird — each stays in own area of house); furnished, sunny room with separate bath, wood floors, antiques and Chinese furniture; light cooking only; access to W/D, 2 porches, backyard and pool table; 3 blocks to Wisconsin/Tenleytown metro (Freshfields, CVS, movie theaters, restaurants) or 4 blocks to Van Ness/UDC metro; safe and tree-lined neighborhood; $600 a month; if this is sounds like a good fit, call Lynne or Don to discuss — before 10:30 p.m. at 202-328-4703.


Apartment Needed!
John Whiteside,

Having decided that I'm not going to buy a place just yet, but that I'm tired of living in Virginia, I'm looking for an apartment for May or June 1. Me: single professional with a solid job, perfect credit, and a well behaved cat who's never in his life ruined furniture or carpets or failed to use his litterbox. Ideal home is at least 1 bedroom, located somewhere convenient to the bridges to Virginia (where I work), with some kind of off-street parking on site or in a nearby garage. (General Dupont, Adams Morgan, U Street, Logan area is best; Capitol Hill is also a possibility.) Budget: up to about $1250. If you've got something and want a tenant who'll treat your place like it's his own, drop me a line.



Excellent Vets for Pets
Charlie Wellander,

Friendship Hospital for Animals (202-363-7300) has many excellent vets supported by competent staff in a newly remodeled facility. They are at 4105 Brandywine NW, just a block from the Tenleytown station on the Metro Red Line. (You are allowed to take pets in carriers on the Metrorail, and this info is posted in each station; we have never been hassled while doing this.) They have a vet on premises 24 hours a day year round, and also will advise clients by phone 24 hours a day. A final plus: they help support the Washington Humane Society, another great friend to animals in this city.


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