Show Me the Money
The DC annual audit is late and getting later, and heavy juggling will be
required to keep all the balls in the air. For months, rumors have been flying that at
least three or four city departments and agencies heavily overspent their budgets last
year, and that it would take some creative bookkeeping to make the books look like they
balanced. Now it appears that the problem is even worse the budget problem is not
just how to hide the overspending, but how to find forty to sixty million dollars that
right now are simply missing. I know just how the financial experts feel. Sometimes, when
I used to do my checkbooks by hand, the monthly reconciliation would be off by four to six
cents, and I just couldn't find the subtraction or addition error. Same principle, isn't
The most worrisome consequence of the inattention that led to this problem
is that the Control Board could be with us for at least another four years. Since we have
to have four straight years of balanced budgets before the Control Board is dissolved, the
calendar will be set back to year one. The Control Board is doing all that is in its power
to put itself out of business. It put immense pressure on the City Council to try to
prevent it from holding hearings about the audit, and it put immense pressure on the
independent auditing firm to try to force it to come up with a clean, unqualified audit.
But, as some very naive phrase maker said long ago, The numbers don't lie. No
threat that the independent auditor will never again get any business from the city can
overcome the threat that it will lose its license if it knowingly allows the numbers to be
fudged. So the Control Board has played all its cards except the card that it
should have played throughout the past year, which is keeping a close watch on the city's
finances. After all, financial responsibility is the first and most important
part of the Control Board's name.
Anthony Williams, Extraordinary Showman
David L. Burka, firstname.lastname@example.org
All the publicity on how the DC government is improving its service to DC
citizens appears to be show only. 1. My wife and I appealed our real estate assessment in
1998 and our appeal was lost. In 1999, we appealed again, but this time we learned from
experience and got a receipt for the filing. Never heard a word again. Got our tax bill in
March 2000 and found our assessment had been slightly reduced. We never received a notice
of reassessment and we never got a chance to agree with the revised assessment or to
2. I received notice for renewing my auto tags and parking permit. Sent in
a check covering both the auto tag renewal and the parking permit and I got the sticker
for my license plates, but no parking permit. Called the DMV and was told to come down to
the DMV and bring my canceled check. Only problem was that I wasn't due to get my canceled
check back from the bank for another 22 days. The DMV was very helpful; they said call
back in 72 hours and they will have an answer to my problem. What a joke. Called back and
was told to come back in again. Told them no returned check yet, and I needed the parking
permit. They could not trace my check or check on the transactions. Was told they would
send out a replacement parking permit and it would take 5-7 days. It is now 15 days and
Williams is still making promises to repair the torn up streets left by
the fiber optic cable installation. Obviously with all the time he spends on the streets
he can't make any more promises for the DMV or the Office of Tax and Revenue.
Who Are Those Guys?
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
After a week in Aruba, swimming with the fishes, I'm ready to renter the
fray. My questions this week concern the Mayor and where he is getting his information. A
man is most well known by the company he keeps. This leads me to ask who is the mayor
surrounding himself with? Either the Mayor is not doing his homework, or he is relying on
advisors who are not doing their homework. The Mayor proclaimed, during his State of
the District address a few weeks ago, that citizens of D.C. who do not own a
computer could trot down to any one of twenty-six local recreation centers to use a
computer there to surf the Internet.
Those who don't have access to the Internet at home should not put their
jogging sneaks on just yet to run down to any of their local rec centers,
since there is not one Rec Center in the District that has a computer hooked up to the
Internet for public use. Since all of those reading this input don't have that problem, I
am posing the question, Where does the Mayor get his information from? Is he
relying on advisors who have not done their homework? Take a look around you, Mr. Mayor.
You will be judged by the company you keep.
King Demos Hath No Clothes, and Doth Not Care
Mark Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
After reading the majority opinion of the courts, it struck me that the
federal government is wholly responsible for retarding the development of democracy in
D.C. They noted that for most of its history, D.C. has had nothing that could even
roughly be characterized as a legislature for the entire District. They discounted
the Council as D.C.'s legislative body, saying, such a body is not constitutionally
required. They said, A right to vote that depends upon the existence of such
an occasional institution can hardly have been what the Framers contemplated. I'm no
lawyer, but this suggests that an Amendment would have to include republican protections
for local self-government, not just voting rights, or Congress could actually take over
our legislature and appoint their own people? The majority also wrote that,
Moreover, it is clear that the ultimate legislature the Constitution envisions for
the District is not a city council, but rather Congress itself." And to think that
we're not only excluded, but they ride our budget each cycle so we're forbidden from
spending our own money to lobby for our own interests in our very own 545-member
legislature. In this District, the federal government doesn't even bother putting up a
voting facade to bamboozle king demos (as Marx put it). In 2001, D.C. should
as a group put its federal tax money in an account withholding it from the
government. I'm not sure of the legal implications, but it would have to be a massive
movement. It would get national press attention a sort of tea party. Compared to
the 50 states, we pay the 2nd highest per capita taxes to the feds. And right about now,
that is looking like a lot of buck for no bang. Stand Up for Democracy talked about
passing out tea bags with a little message on 4th of July last year. The problem with that
date is that the D.C. message is a big downer for everybody coming to the city to have
fun, so it falls flat. Maybe we need to pass out tea bags at the D.C. part of the Folklife
festival: 200 Years Without Democracy. Anybody know if that exhibit will address D.C.'s
issue, or will that be censored, too? (The Smithsonian's tourist guidebook is
titled Virginia and the National Capital Region. Hope that's not a clue.)
Another radical event that will never happen
would be to simply walk off the job self-abolish ALL of our local institutions and
let the feds do what they want. I'm pretty sure the only reason they put in Home Fool was
to restrain demagogy, and buy off a few political elites, a sort of safety valve. Given
the lack of interest in full self-government in D.C., it seems to have worked. It might be
time for a trip to Miami, I'm sounding far too flip!
During the discussion of the lawsuits on Diane Rehm's show, someone
commented about the Amendment that gave D.C. electors equal to the smallest state (vote
for President), to which Diane got excited and blurted out, Well, that was nice,
To quote Vanessa Dale Burns: I'm under oath, but I'm no fool.
First-Rate Service by the Office of Tax and Revenue
Kenneth Nellis, email@example.com
I am duly impressed! On the inside front cover of the D-40 Individual
Income Tax Booklet (1999) is the heading, Customer Service Must Come First. It
says, Our goal is to provide first-rate customer service, a proactive outreach
program that provides taxpayers with information regarding their tax liabilities, [sic]
and easy access to data when needed. Faced with an unusual tax situation and
uncertainty as how to complete my D-40, I decided to take them up on their word. I
encountered a multitude of pleasant surprises: When I called the number (727-4TAX), I got
an automated menu system (expected), but, opting to talk to a real person, within a few
minutes, I was talking to one! This person understood my question on the first attempt and
made an appropriate referral. The new person wasn't in (expected), but her answering
machine encouraged me to leave a number where she could call me back. She called me back!
Within the hour! She understood my confusion and worked through the problem with me. When
I didn't have all the numbers with me to continue the exercise, she said she'd call me
back in the morning. She did! and was able to show me where I went awry, and all the time
with patience and a pleasant demeanor. I consider that first-rate service, indeed!
That said, let me conclude by saying how unnecessarily backward I think
the D-40 form and booklet are. Page 1 is two thirds towards the back of the
booklet. On the form, you have to fill out Page 2 before Page 1. And Part IV, when it
applies, must be filled out before Part III. Now, back to the fun: shuffling numbers back
and forth between the husband and wife columns to see what works out best when filing as
Married Filing Combined Separate.
I was somewhat amused to read in the Post recently that PG County
Executive Wayne Curry is ticked at the District for renovating housing in Southeast,
thereby (in his view) flooding PG with a torrent of poor residents in search of cheaper
housing. As a result, he expects some sort of assistance from the DC government, or at
least a halt to the apartment demolitions taking place in SE, so that the alleged drain on
social services by these newcomers can be controlled. Funny, but I don't recall ever
hearing Curry offer his support for a reciprocity (commuter) tax to compensate the
District for the services it provides to PG and other suburban commuters.
Chutzpah from WASA
Steph The answer to your question is obviously 'yes' Faul, firstname.lastname@example.org
The classic definition of the word Chutzpah involves someone
who kills his father and mother and then begs for mercy because he's an orphan.
Fortunately, a new, shorter definition is now available: WASA. After doubling rates for
water a year ago, and after wasting thousands of gallons by neglecting to fix numerous
gushing leaks, the Water and Sewer Authority has sent out a notice that they're raising
the rates again. Enclosed with the letter is a Home Water-Saving Kit Leak
Detective that contains dye pellets, to show toilet tank leaks, and that asks in big
blue letters, Is Your Water Bill Too High?
Renewal of Liquor License
Vivian Henderson, VHende1886@aol.com
The item Club Gets Renewal of Liquor License, that appeared in
the March 30 issue of The Washington Times disturbs me greatly. It seems that
when the Police Chief and residents of an area want a neighborhood nuisance gone, it
should disappear. But time and time again, here in DC this is not the case. Who is on the
Alcoholic Beverage Control Board? Are they residents of DC? If so, I feel that they have
no love for the city.
Couldn't agree more with the administrative note asking for more block by
block news. I find it far more interesting than some of the current philosophical
On that note, let me share good news from my block. The Washington Hilton
planned to push forward a huge expansion at the corner of 19th and Florida, adding to the
endless stream of diesel spewing eighteen wheelers blocking my street and endangering kids
at the Adams elementary school. The Hilton sought to expand meeting space in a doomed
attempt at competing with the new convention center. The neighborhood got mad and
organized quickly, money and volunteers started rolling in and poof, like magic, bye-bye
expansion plans (for now anyway). Score one for neighborhood action, thanks in part to
E-mail discussions and listserves like this one!
St. Patricks/F St. in City Paper
Michael Berman, Downtown Artists Coalition, email@example.com
Thursday's Washington City Paper has a well informed and in depth
cover page article regarding the F Street/St. Patrick's controversy (God Is In The
Real Estate: What do you call an outfit that evicts struggling artists and demolishes
historic buildings in order to build a high-rent office tower? On F Street, you call it
divine.). Thanks to Kevin Diaz, who did a wonderful and balanced job covering the
many complex issues.
[This article is online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/cover/cover.html.
Dont Waste Your Time
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Some are calling for making contact with Al Gore, The Democratic Candidate
for President, to inspire him in getting voting rights for the citizens of D.C. That, to
me, is a big waste of time. Al Gore will likely receive about 80% of the votes cast for
President in D.C. Why should he bother spending time and effort in courting D.C. on a
cause that will likely cost him votes in places outside D.C.? Al Gore will be spending
much of his time pandering for votes in places where he is at risk of losing electoral
votes. Just look at his latest foray into the case of the little Cuban boy in Miami. Al
wants the Latino vote so bad that he is proposing an amendment that will deny the boy's
father the right to raise his boy in his birthplace in Cuba.
I was surprised to learn about Bill Bradley having been removed from the
DC May 2 Ballot. However, Democrats can still send a signal to Vice President Gore by
leaving their ballots for President (and Gore delegates) blank. Again, political pressure
needs to be applied to the Democratic Party to get the DC Voting Rights issue on the
election agenda. It is a national issue A) Because it involves the representation of a
half-million U.S. citizens; and, B) The federalness (and thus federal responsibility for)
of the District.
Mr. Gore (like President Clinton) has not spoken up effectively for DC
voting rights. There have been two inaugural addresses and eight State-of-the-Unions. At
no time has the current administration evoked the national issue of District voting
rights. Sympathy is nice. Thank you, Mr. Vice-President. We now need action. Leadership on
the national level. Where are you Al? Until we hear from Mr. Gore, leave the President
blank on May 2. And lean toward the Green Party in November.
I've been feeling pretty bad lately about the fact that DC residents don't
really have a vote. This has been magnified by the recent court ruling (which I haven't
had the heart to read yet), and by the fact that I have just been called for jury duty by
the same court. (Suggestions about how I can express my outrage to the court without
getting thrown in jail would be appreciated.) The one Federal election that we can vote
in, for president, is really a sham. DC is always heavily Democratic, and my vote is
essentially worthless. Regardless of whether I vote Democratic or Republican, I am lost in
the DC Democratic landslide. Then it occurred to me: even though I live in DC I can vote
the American Way, with my wallet. I can give money to the candidate of my choice and
really make a difference. Gore will naturally get DC, but any money I might consider
giving to Gore would enhance his chances elsewhere in the nation. And if I were to give to
Bush, I help him, regardless of the fact that he will lose in DC. I really feel better
now, now that I know I can fully participate in what really counts in American politics
cash contributions! Seriously for a moment, despite the flippant tone of this note,
it is all true. I really do plan to make a significant contribution to a candidate. Making
such a contribution will allow me to express my will in an election in a way that will
have more impact that any vote I might cast in DC! It is sad, but true.
Gore and District Rights
David Meadows, Candidate for Al Gore Delegate to the Democratic National
In response to the numerous remarks made by Bradley supporters to ease
your concern about Gore supporting District rights. Al Gore was one of three original
Senators who sponsored the District of Columbia Statehood bill (Bill S. 2647, introduced
5/17/90) (S. 2023 reintroduced by Gore 11/22/91). Where was Bradley's bill? Twenty-two
years ago, in 1978, Al Gore voted for full voting representation in Congress (CQ #78
3/2/78). In 1999, Gore appointed DC Democrat, activist, and statehood advocate Donna
Brazile, Chief of Staff to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, as the first African American and
first female to manage a national presidential campaign. I could go on, but I hate it when
people write essays to themail.
DC Statehood and the Gore Campaign
David Sobelsohn, email@example.com
In last Wednesday's issue of thermal, Ann Loikow urges that DC residents
put pressure on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Albert Gore to become a
national spokesperson for DC statehood. No doubt this will help Gore win votes in key
swing states like Wisconsin and Ohio. Without apparent irony, Loikow quotes the 1841
inaugural address of President William Henry Harrison, in which Harrison went on at length
about the injustice of our disenfranchisement. Harrison, of course, hatless on a cold,
rainy March day, went on at length about so many things in his two-hour inaugural
the longest in history that he contracted pneumonia and died a month later. Somehow
I suspect Harrison's example won't encourage candidates at least those, like Gore,
who know American history to make DC statehood a priority. Maybe it even suggests
Capital City Public Charter School
Andrea Carlson, BintaGay@aol.com
A new public school option is open to DC families. Capital City Public
Charter School will open its doors in September, 2000 (location TBA). Our small school
will serve students Pre-K through Grade 4 and gradually expand through Grade 8. The school
features a challenging academic program designed to stimulate the natural curiosity of
children, encourage creativity and critical thinking, meet individual needs, provide
enrichment opportunities, and emphasize respectful social interaction. To learn more about
the school, please come to an information session on Wednesday, April 12, from 3:00 to
4:30 at Mt. Pleasant Library, Lamont and 16th Sts., NW. Applications are being accepted
through April 25. For more information or an application, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-387-0309.
Does anyone know of any DC Bicentennial events?
I really love the District of Columbia Public Library system and I have
ever since I came down to D.C. as a student in the 1960's. It has a marvelous collection,
reasonably convenient branches, and extremely knowledgeable librarians. The new CityCat is
very useful at finding out what they have and where it is available.
I am, however, not that happy will the way that security operates. When I
wander down at opening time on Saturday, the long line becomes longer because of the
security devices that everyone has to go through. I don't really mind the scanner but last
Saturday, I wandered in about 10:15 and saw one of the security force walk through
electronic equipment with all the heavy metal that they tend to wear and there was no
reaction from the machine. Are these working or just for show?
Asking for Library Books to Be Returned Is an
Phil Shapiro, email@example.com
If you stop to think about it, you'll soon realize how outrageous it is
for libraries here in DC, and elsewhere, to require that books be returned. This is a
practice that must stop. Learn why at http://www.his.com/pshapiro/outrage/
Charles Cassell, Former Chair, DC Statehood Constitutional Convention, 1982-1985, CharlinJaz@aol.com
To themail: Thanks very much for the new insights re the formation of the
District of Columbia and its illogical and undemocratic domination by Congress over the
years. This is pertinent and potent information.
200-family yard sale at Lowell School, Sunday, April 9, 2000, from 9 A.M.
to 3 P.M. The enormous sale will be feature everything from furniture to sports equipment
to adults and children's toys, books and clothes. The school, which has 275 students from
pre-school through fifth grade, has been collecting donations for months from its 200
families and has rooms filled with a wonderful variety of items.
Profits from the sale will benefit Lowell's Financial Assistance Fund,
which supports Lowell's tradition of an economically diverse student body. Lowell is an
independent, non-profit school. It is located on Kalmia Road, NW, just off 16th Street, on
the edge of Rock Creek Park and only several blocks south of Silver Spring. For any
additional information, please call Sandy Bainum at 301-656-6829.
Chevy Chase, DC, Volunteer Work Day, April 8
Evelyn M. Wrin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Join members of the Chevy Chase D.C. community in a Volunteer Work Day on
Saturday, April 8, outside of the Chevy Chase Library and Community Center on Connecticut
Avenue, NW, between McKinley and Northampton Streets. Come with your gloves and marked
tools for an hour or two between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This clean-up and beautification
activity is sponsored by the Chevy Chase Citizens Association. Rain date is Sunday, April
9, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. For further information call Nancy Wilson at 966-5286.
Evening at Guapos to Support Hearst
Sue Bell, email@example.com
Bring the family for tasty Mexican food and support Hearst Elementary
School all at the same time. On Monday, April 10th, Guapos Mexican Restaurant (the one in
Tenleytown next to the Metro) is generously donating 5% of the cost of all food and drinks
purchased by Hearst supporters. The money will be donated by Guapos to the Hearst PTA to
support Spanish language instruction for the next school year.
To participate, present this E-mail to your server at Guapos anytime after
6 pm on Monday April 10th. Tasty food. Great margaritas. Wonderful company. And you will
be supporting Phoebe Hearst Elementary school, a DC public school with an early childhood
education program for children aged Pre-K through third grade. For more details, call the
school at 282-0106. See you there!
National Mobilization for Debt Cancellation
Jeanne Thum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, April 9, Noon - 4:30 pm at the Mall. People of faith and all who
care about justice for indebted countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will be
gathering to be part of a massive public witness supporting debt cancellation for the
world's poorest countries. The Jubilee 2000 movement proposes cancellation of the backlog
of unpayable debt of the poorest countries by the year 2000. Speakers include: Archbishop
Oscar Rodriguez, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Linda Chavez-Thompson, Executive
Vice President, AFL-CIO; The Rev. Jim Wallis, Editor-in-Chief, Sojourners; Rabbi David
Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism; and Ricardo Navarro,
President, Friends of the Earth International. Musicians include: singer Dar Williams, the
Waza Bakula African band, and the Grace Lutheran Church Rainbow Choir.
CLASSIFIEDS HELP WANTED
We need a full-time writer/editor to produce a quarterly magazine and
several newsletters. Experience with PageMaker and color publications required. $40,700
plus benefits plus opportunity for advancement. Please send resume to Reed Public Policy,
Inc. at email@example.com or FAX (703)
Kelly Mack, Advocacy Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quiet, professional woman seeks wheelchair accessible studio or single
bedroom apartment in the District or within walking distance of a Metro station. If you
know of buildings or vacancies, please E-mail email@example.com.
Tim Cline, Columbia Heights, firstname.lastname@example.org
You all were most helpful in recommending a plumber, so now I hope to pick
you collective wisdom and find some recommendations for painters who are professional and
work quickly (we are willing to pay for good work) to do the entire interior of our house.
DCpages.com, Washington's premier online community, offers up-to-date
content regarding all aspects of the Washington DC community. Surf onto our site and use
our searchable database to browse over 10,000 pages of regional web site directories,
articles, photo galleries and calendars of events all pertaining to the greater Washington
area. We are currently featuring an extensive gallery on the National Cherry Blossom
Festival. If you missed the blossoms, visit our day by day photographic gallery of the
blossoms dating from their first opening on March 16. You'll want to continue to visit
DCpages.com for similar comprehensive reporting on other upcoming DC events, including our
forthcoming gallery on the April 22 Earth Day rally on the Mall. Currently, you can also
read about spring fashion trends in an article featured in our Shopping Section about Inga
Guen, fashion consultant for Fox Channel 5. As Editor-in-Chief, I am looking for writers
and suggestions for ways to continue to promote every aspect of the DC community. Feel
free to send me your comments and ideas at email@example.com!
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