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April 16, 2000

Dressing Like Pandas

Dear Bears:

What has your experience been with the World Bank demonstrations? Observations on the MPD response?

One thing the demonstrators have proven to me is that the Columbia Heights neighborhood is on its way to becoming fashionable, since many of the protesting groups have located their headquarters and meeting places there. Anti-capitalist, out-of-town college students have a sure instinct for finding the next neighborhood ready for a capitalist boom. In the late 1960's and early 1970's, Vietnam protests centered in Dupont Circle, and that was the sign that that neighborhood was on its way back up. It's certain that art galleries will soon be moving north on 14th Street, as developers force them out of downtown in order to build even more law offices. Can a Starbucks at 14th Street and Park Road be many years away?

Mark Richards’s survey and study on public opinion about political equality for DC citizens, which was mentioned in previous issues, is now available on-line at

Gary Imhoff


Blatant Pander
Lois Kirkpatrick,

Unbelievable that Mr. Williams would offer to pay $1 million for two new pandas for the National Zoo, when D.C. is in such a fiscal morass! I propose that D.C. residents dress like pandas and stage a protest at Williams's offices for much-needed city services that are in desperate need of $1 million.


Adam J. Marshall,

Mr. Mayor: At a time when regional planning studies show that our surpluses are likely to shrink in the next few years, I urge you to strongly reconsider your idea of spending city funds to help the Smithsonian Institution pay for new pandas for the National Zoo.

The Zoo is a federally run institution, and as such should seek external help from the federal government, which is far more flush in cash than the District. Imagine this: after approving a city contribution toward pandas, what's next? The National Gallery of Art asking for $1 million to put towards a Renoir or Gaugin, arguing that since these paintings will bring tourists to Washington, District residents should pay for them?

District residents already pay for a number of items and services -- such as police protection for the World Bank and IMF this week — that really aren't our responsibility. I urge you, please, to refrain from adding “panda acquisition” to that list.


Something’s Happening ’Round Here, What It Is Ain’t Exactly Clear...
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

One thing about living in D.C. is that the protests come to you — so it's easy to go to them. Yes, businesses lose money. But this seems to be a form of capital entertainment. I rode my bike around at the IMF/World Bank protest on Saturday and (having just turned 39) noticed how young the crowd was — felt like MTV and Disney came to D.C. Looked like groups of roaming tribes, dressed like turtles, etc. with gas masks replacing baseball caps. When one car window was smashed (protesters said the car was trying to get through with a delegate), a number of protesters were upset at the outburst of one of their compatriots, recognizing that that image would be shown most on TV to undermine their message. Most protesters were peaceful, but determined to be heard. One said their issue is that citizens have been cut out of decision making. Even with representation, they don't believe they are represented. Their activism and enthusiasm was great, even though I felt more conservative. If nothing else, by turning up the volume, people across the world will know more about their issue, and the IMF and World Bank will think about it more. Metro police were restrained, even though a few protesters threw things and some held signs in front of them with things like “Police = fascists.” I have a lot of respect for our police department — they usually try to be fair. Sure, there are exceptions (there were a few black eyed protesters), but overall, like the protesters, their culture seems to be mostly restrained and respectful even when taunted to “show their power while the world is watching.” A sort of psychological game between the “powerful” and “powerless.” There were more cameras than anything — everyone seemed to be filming. Meanwhile, some just wanted to have fun. GWU frat houses threw beer parties and played music to liven up the event. The Deltas put up huge signs about how protesters should be thanking veterans for protecting their civil rights and one that read something like “American capitalists and damn proud of it!” This protest reminded me of how clean cut and docile D.C. citizens of all ethnic backgrounds are. And, that with or without political rights, D.C. can be made secure by our own and national police forces, just like other areas — nobody was any safer because D.C. citizens are disenfranchised. How ironic that those on our police force (who live in D.C.) don't even have the same political rights as those who come to D.C. to express their right to free speech (not to mention those who come here to represent their constituents in the fifty states). Judging by many of the protest signs, “Washington” means “the federal government,” period. D.C. allegedly wants what the protesters have, but the protesters don't seem to think their political rights matter very much in a global economic system where decisions are made not in government, but in corporate boardrooms.


Capital City Public Charter School
Andrea Carlson,

A new public school option is open to DC families. Capital City Public Charter School will open its doors in September, 2000 (location to be announced). 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. For more information or an application, email or call 387-0309. Applications are being accepted through April 25.


Sneak Attack Election
Keith Jarrell,

What can be done about the circumstances surrounding this? At what session of the Council was this voted on?

[The decision to hold a special election on restructuring the Board of Education, and its timing, was never debated or voted on by the City Council. It was essentially arranged behind closed doors, in correspondence between Council Chairman Linda Cropp and the Board of Elections and Ethics. Citizens had no effective role in the decision about when or whether a special election would be held. The ballot language for the proposed charter amendment is at, and correspondence between Councilmembers and the Board of Elections is available at — Gary Imhoff]


Special Election
Eric Sterling,

Maybe they should schedule the special election for a Sunday when the Redskins are playing at home.


Red Light Cameras
Stephanie Faul,

Light cameras use a loop detector in the pavement. When the light turns red, a loop detector in front of the stop line senses movement and activates the camera, which takes a picture at that moment and another picture a split-second later. This shows what the car was actually doing. Cameras work ONLY when the light is actually red, not yellow — they won't record a car that enters the intersection on a yellow light. They also would show that a car was turning if that is what it was doing.

People go through red lights appallingly often, and the cameras really do reduce such behavior dramatically. A huge percent of urban crashes (my numbers are at the office but I can get them if you want) are caused by red-light running; it's a particularly dangerous violation. It also slows traffic because people learn to hesitate on the green and don't make full use of the signal time.


Dupont Circle Traffic Patterns
Sara Cormeny,

Stephanie rightly points out that the traffic lights at Dupont Circle are not timed well for pedestrians. However, I'd go further and say they're poorly timed for automobile traffic as well. Several months ago I got a big surprise when walking through the circle at around 8:45 am on a weekday — in other words, height of gridlock on a normal morning. Traffic was progressing smoothly and quickly through the Circle, while all the traffic lights were completely dead.

I wouldn't suggest that there should not be traffic lights at Dupont Circle, since pedestrians would NEVER get a chance to cross the circle without them. But I haven't the faintest idea who is getting the benefit of the lights as they currently are timed — not pedestrians, who do end up stuck at the traffic island when crossing many of the intersections. Not the drivers, who put up with hideous gridlock and at some intersections cannot enter or leave the circle without running a light, during heavy traffic times (and therefore create even more problems for pedestrians!). If there really were a traffic engineer involved in setting the light timing at some point in the past, it's time that the whole thing was revisited.


Privatized Inspection Stations
John Heaton,

In response to Ralph Blessing's question about privatized inspection stations, I'd suggest he turn his attention to the Commonwealth of Virginia, where all state inspections are performed at privately owned service stations. There are more than 4000 inspection stations in Virginia; there are literally hundreds in Northern Virginia alone. The Commonwealth sets the inspection standards (see for details), and dictates a maximum price that can be charged. I, for one, think it's a great system, because instead of waiting in line for hours waiting to get my car inspected, I can drop it off at the garage near my office, get a lift to work in the customer shuttle provided by the garage, and get a ride back at the end of the day to pick it up. Couldn't be easier. I don't see why a similar system couldn't be put in place in the District.

[DC is already halfway to this system. All initial inspections (once every two years for private vehicles) must be done at the one official inspection station. However, if a car fails the initial inspection, it can be reinspected at a licensed “reinspection” station. The system is described this way on the DMW web site: “If your vehicle fails inspection, you can either come back to the District facility for re-inspection at no charge, or go to a private, licensed re-inspection station. However, please note that if repairs are not made at the private station, they will charge a fee to re-inspect the vehicle. A list of private re-inspection stations is available by fax, mail, or at the Inspection at 1001 Half Street, SW.” If stations have already been licensed to do “reinspections, it doesn't seem like a big step to license them to do the initial inspections. — Gary Imhoff]


Henry B Thomas,

Yesterday I finally switched from DC Cablevision to Starpower and began to reprogram my VCR so that I could use the VCR Plus+ codes. Because the channel line up provided by Starpower does not list the VCR Plus+ channel assignment numbers, I called Starpower to request such a list. Much to my amazement, no one I spoke to knew what I was talking about! I was put on hold, referred to another soul, told I was out of my mind, etc., etc. Has any one else had this experience? It was enough to make me wonder if I should switch back to DC Cablevision.



City Guild Tax Relief Happy Hour
Terry Cordaro,

The City Guild of the Historical Society of Washington D.C. invites you to relax and celebrate the successful completion of your taxes at a City Guild Happy Hour in Historic Adams Morgan! Join our members and friends for drink specials (including 1/2 price Cosmopolitans!) at Felix Restaurant & Bar (2406 18th St., NW) on Tuesday, April 18, from 6:30-8:30 pm. $5 donation appreciated. To reserve a spot, E-mail us at or call the City Guild hotline: 785-2068 x 304.


Wine Tasting Dinner at Max’s, May 2
Alan M. Salgado,

This is our most delicious event so far! A sit down Gallo-Sonoma wine tasting dinner on Tuesday, May 2, at Max's of Washington,.1725 F Street, NW, 842-0070. The dinner will consist of four courses, each paired with a Gallo Sonoma wine. First course: Sonoma Chardonnay, scallop ceviche of mango, cucumber and cantaloupe. Second course: Laguna Ranch Chardonnay, salad of marinated “whitewater” mussels, baby artichokes, shaved fennel and frisse. Third course: Sonoma Merlot, marinated leg of lamb with turnip-potato gnocchi ramps, fava beans, “oxtail reduction.” Fourth course: Dry Creek Zinfandel, milk chocolate creme brulee stuffed peach; warm chocolate souffle cake of macadamia nuts, banana and English toffee; bittersweet chocolate pave with raspberry compote and Frangelico
creme. Tickets are just $65 before April 21 and $75 after. Please E-mail us for info,, with a phone number to reach you or call us with a credit card number at 625-2770. We'll convene for cocktails in the bar at 7 pm and the dinner should start at about 7:30.



DC Vote Seeks Executive Director
Anna El-Eini,

DC Vote, an exciting two-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to securing full representation for DC in the US Congress, is a coalition of local and national leaders and organizations. DC Vote seeks a proven director who is mission driven, energetic, and entrepreneurial. See for more information about DC Vote. The Executive Director will manage daily operations and programs; recruit coalition members; build a local and national public education campaign;develop a congressional education campaign; and raise funds from foundation and nonfoundation sources. Responsibilities include: managing an active volunteer board of directors and committees; developing and managing all programs; hiring and supervising staff and consultants; recruiting, training, and managing volunteers; and managing DC Vote administrative activities.

Qualifications: Strong organizational skills including successful experience building and managing a coalition, nonprofit organization, or political campaign; strategic planning experience; fundraising, public relations, and media campaign experience; knowledge of local DC and national political landscapes; and excellent writing and verbal skills. Compensation: Competitive salary and benefits. EOE. Application deadline: May 1, 2000. Review of candidates will begin immediately and continue until a suitable candidate is identified. Mail or E-mail resumes and cover letter to 1730 M St., NW, #907, WDC 20036,



Seeking a Summer Sublet
Johanna Gregory,

I am seeking a room/apartment to sublet in Adams Morgan from June through August, perhaps longer. I am a 29-year-old, non-smoking, female professional, with a sweet, fully trained, very well behaved, medium sized dog. Please E-mail ( or call (302-737-9299) Johanna if you know of any openings.



Hyde ES Auction
Liz Starrels,

Hyde ES, the only Public Elementary School in Georgetown is holding its annual auction on May 5th, 6- 9 PM at the Third Edition in Georgetown. If you can donate a summer or winter home, a meal at a good restaurant, merchandise from a store, please contact Liz Starrels at 338-1574 or E-mail at All proceeds go directly to the PTA to pay for teacher's and supplies. All are invited to attend. Tickets are available now!



Pool Table
Jon Katz,

I'm selling a tournament-sized Olhausen Drake pocket billiards table with green felt, oak finish, and rock-solid one-inch slate bed in excellent condition for $1300 cash. 9 feet x 4.5 feet. Retails new for close to twice this price. Call me to see it at 882-8725 or E-mail me at


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