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April 19, 2000

Six to One

Dear Protesters:

The vote this week in themail is six to one against the Metropolitan Police Department's handling of the World Bank demonstrations, but the Post and the Times are ready to elevate Chief Ramsey to sainthood. Are we just unrepresentative, or is the press misrepresenting the feelings of Washingtonians? I'm always annoyed when massive national demonstrations discomfort local residents, but I'm a heck of a lot more annoyed when parts of DC are declared a Bill-of-Rights-free zone. Any more personal experiences or observations about the demonstrations?

Gary Imhoff


Police and the Demonstrations
Susan Flinn,

My partner and I live across the street from the 3rd District Police station on 17th and V streets (NW). Since Saturday morning, the entire area has been closed off — police have blockaded 17th street from Florida to U street, and V street from 16th to Florida. No one has been able to enter the area by car or foot without showing a local ID for three days. When we ask what is going on, the police say it's “routine.” HA!

Mark Beach, the commander of 3D, sent the residents a very nice letter apologizing in advance for any parking problems that might occur during the WTO/WB meetings. Still, he neglected to mention that we would be forced to carry ID with us when leaving our houses and to prove that we are residents EVERY time we want to enter our homes. People who are hosting demonstrators or other guests have had many problems when their guests are not allowed into the area without being escorted by someone with a local ID.

Naturally, there have been arguments between the police and residents of the area. One neighbor took a copy of the Bill of Rights over to the police building to talk about the unconstitutionality of requiring people to carry ID and preventing them (and their guests) from accessing their homes. Many of us are writing letters of complaint to Mark Beach and copying them for Councilman Jim Graham.


A Waste of DC Tax Dollars
Jessica Vallette Revere,

Well, maybe I'm watching the wrong news, but it looks to me like there has been quite a few acts of police brutality. Images on Fox of police yanking protesters and throwing them down lead me to believe that there are more than just black eyes happening “down there.” Chief Ramsey, you have no right to tell protesters to get out of my town as you did last week. This is my home, too. They have a right to tell the world what the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are doing to indigenous peoples and the environment. This is the nation's capital, don't forget, so it is home to many protests. What would you be doing if this were a Civil Rights March or a Million Man March? What will you do in a few weeks about the Millennium March or the Million Mom March? Just because this protest is against specific institutions, you don't have license to allow your police force to act on the offense, instead of defense as you are mandated to.

Your invasion of the Convergence Center was a total violation of our civil rights. It was arbitrary considering how many abandoned buildings are in that area that are more serious fire hazards and have languished for years. The mere fact that this was the center of activity does not give you the right to unequally and arbitrarily enforce the law. Clean up the drug houses first! Quit wasting my tax dollars to shut down free speech! Mr. Ramsey, I ask for your swift resignation. Your police department is not the protective force that I wish it to be.


Ramsey Rolls Over Civil Rights
Elizabeth Buchanan,

In response to Mark Richards's posting and most of the media coverage of the World Bank/IMF protests, I'd like to shed light on the DC Police Department's “success” in keeping demonstrations under control at the expense of citizens civil liberties. As one of the people arrested on 20th street Saturday afternoon, I can attest to the DCPD's complete disregard for civil rights in the arrest of 600 people that resulted in a charges of “Parading without a Permit” — a violation that police officers compared to a parking ticket. The mass arrest amounted to a media event that was clearly intended as a display of power to impress the public and as a deterrent to planning on attending the protests on Sunday and Monday.

600 people — many of whom were tourists or DC citizens walking to the Metro — were arrested and detained overnight for a violation that is not even in the DC criminal code. DCPD's mass dismissal of citizens' civil rights deserves public condemnation, not praise. This event, and the early morning raid of the protest organizers' headquarters, should be carefully examined by Chief Ramsey and Mayor Williams, not justified as a “matter of prudence” (NY Times 4/17).

Good police work that maintains public safety does not have to come at the expense of our most basic rights. The sting of having my civil rights violated was quieter, but just as bad as the sting of tear gas and pepper spray. Now I really have something to protest.


Amazing What They Can Do When They Apply Themselves
Nick Keenan, Shaw,

I was amazed to read in Sunday's paper that the Nuisance Property Abatement Task Force had shut down the headquarters of the protesters of the IMF and World Bank for fire code violations. Amazed, because my experience has been that the Task Force has been unable or unwilling to shut down any nuisance anywhere in the city for any reason. Six weeks ago, a member of William's cabinet told me, in a moment of candor, that “nuisance property enforcement is not a priority right now.” I guess what that really means is that DC residents are “not a priority right now.”


World Bank/IMF Protest Observations
John Vaught LaBeaume,

I work in the building on the 1800 block of H St., NW, directly across from the World Bank. Some thoughts from Ground Zero: First of all, did all those privileged suburban white kids from Outta Town so profoundly moved by the plight of malnourished People of Color the worldwide realize that their Thursday afternoon demonstration/concert in the park bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue, and H and 18th Streets, NW, obstructed the truck from a local charitable organization that pulls up to that park each eve to feed homeless folk? (Which worthy organization does this? They deserve kudos! Also, if the homeless were indeed fed, please correct me, because I would rather learn they were fed than make this point.) Those kids may have been gassed early Saturday morn, but at least they got up before noon for the first time in years.

While the police were roundly lauded by local media, Sam Smith's reporting in his “Progressive Review” ( has only exacerbated my concern for the protesters' civil liberties. When I inquired most respectfully on Sunday to police at barricades around 18th and 19th Streets, NW, as to whether I, as an employee of a local business, would be allowed into my office on Monday, I was given a rather curt reply and instructed to bring picture ID (my small non-profit employer does not issue such ID, of course) to prove my story. That is no way for MPD to treat an American, especially a District taxpayer.


DC’s Cops Deserve our Gratitude
Ron Eberhardt,

As readers may know, I am not oft given to prideful remarks when it regards the performance of DC Cops. I do write today, however, filled with appreciation, gratitude, and pride in the absolutely professional and effective way that our police performed while keeping the peace these past few days as protesters performed here against the IMF and World Bank. I believe that police Chief Charles Ramsey and executive chief Gainer are the very best team DC has ever had heading its police force. Leadership heads the list of accolades for these men. Planning, execution, and a measured police response kept the peace and preserved the rights of demonstrators. Comments, such as we heard in the media, to the contrary are not justified. Ramsey, Gainer and the senior leadership of the department were literally
everywhere throughout the weekend. That, within itself, was remarkable. These are sights absolutely foreign to those of us who have lived here for more then 20 years. The planning, execution, resolve and response could not have been better. The Chief and his officers deserve a solid round of applause from we the citizens and the Mayor and Council too. Among the protesters were some real hooligans who were bent on violence and destruction. What makes me so proud is that our police never lost control of our city and as a result the rights of everyone were reasonably preserved while our citizens and businesses were protected. We can all push our chests forward with pride for the performance of these brave men and women who performed in the finest tradition of the police service.


Time for a Radical Change
Ed T. Barron,

If the DCPS wants to hire qualified and motivated teachers to come to the District to teach then there will have to be a radical change in the way teachers are hired. To begin with, teachers salaries today will not encourage those who would like to teach to come to D.C. (with its high cost of living and housing). Those who are willing to accept relatively low salaries to teach will always opt to teach at the private and parochial schools where there is a whole different environment with much parental involvement, etc. To get teachers to come to D.C. will require a radical change in the way teachers are hired, evaluated, and paid. It's just like hiring star athletes to teams. It will require a new form of compensation to get and retain the best teachers. You cannot expect to pay salaries that people cannot live on in a highly competitive job market. There are many folks who would like to teach (and many of those who would be highly qualified to teach) but simply cannot afford to do so. A blanket salary increase for all teachers is not the answer. The solution to this dilemma lies, initially, with whatever School Board emerges from the ashes. It is not very likely, however, that a combined elected/appointed Board will ever be able to work in a viable productive way. More likely that body could not come to a consensus on when to go to lunch and would starve to death.

The tasks facing whatever School Board emerges are: To develop independent evaluation teams that will be responsible for evaluating all the teachers in the DCPS and to begin to weed out those that are unable to teach; These same teams would also be responsible for evaluating new teachers before they come to work in the D.C. Schools; Then the whole method for hiring and paying teachers must be recast. This last task means paying for performance. Test scores are not a really good way to determine a teacher's effectiveness. Test scores are only a measure of how well a teacher can train kids to take the Standardized Tests. Teachers should be paid for teaching, imparting knowledge, and creating a great learning environment not on how well their students can take a test. The independent evaluation teams should review every teacher's performance in the classroom several times in a year to determine just how well the teacher is involving the students in the learning process and how much participation and performance the teacher is able to get from the students. The best teachers should get performance bonuses or salary increases commensurate with their effectiveness in the classroom. Qualified new teacher candidates should get signing bonuses in addition to a decent living salary right at the beginning level. A $25K bonus should be paid for signing a three year contract (renewable only at the District's option). If a teacher moves into the District they should get another $25K bonus. These are the steps that the new School Board should take if they are to get the best teachers into the DCPS. Good schools and a good educational system in D.C. are the only answers to making this city a real “Nation's Capitol.”


Special Election
Kathy Sinzinger,

You forgot to add that the Control Board approved funding for a special election, as well, behind closed doors. I quoted Connie Newman about it in The Common Denominator two issues ago, in our lead story about a special election.


Who Wants to Buy $1 Million Worth of Pandas?
Pat Raz,

I sympathize with the posters who complain that Mayor Williams $1 million would be better spent on certain social programs than on pandas, if that's as far as the analysis can be taken. But as an amateur dismal scientist, I have to offer the theory that the $1 million is meant to be seed money (cub money?) and not a silly waste of money for yet another zoo exhibit. Pandas are an incredible draw for the few zoos in this country that can boast that they have them. Maybe what the mayor's office needs is a study (hey, this is D.C., we major in studies) showing just how many tourists would be likely, or more likely, to visit D.C. if pandas were again one of the local attractions. From the hotel and restaurant taxes alone, I suspect that $1 million would be repaid and enough extra generated to fund those worthy programs the other posters have in mind.


MLK Library
Bryce Suderow,

Tonight I visited the Martin Luther King Library. When I checked out two books, the desk attendant told me he could not desensitize the books because the machine was broken. He handed me a slip to place in the book. He told me to show the slip to the security guard if the alarm at the exit went off. I expressed amazement that this could happen at the main library. He replied, “I don't like it any better than you do. But I don't know when the machine will be repaired. It may be a long time.”

I had grown accustomed to the broken desensitizing machines at the NE and SE libraries on Capitol Hill. Every time I visit Blockbuster and the the Library of Congress the books from these libraries set off alarms and embarrass me. Now it is the MLK Library. Unbelievable. Or to be more accurate, all too believable.


Dupont Circle Fantasy
Andrea Berman,

Here's a Dupont Circle fantasy: 1. Put the buses underground and link the area with the Metro as has been done at the Harvard Square station in Cambridge, MA. But make it less dreary than the Harvard Square bus/subway terminal. 2. If possible, find a way to put more cars underground, too. 3. Let Starbucks operate a SMALL coffee and ice cream kiosk within the Circle property with chairs and tables, and as pay back, Starbucks would take on the upkeep and beautification. The models here are the elegant refreshment kiosks in European parks — usually larger ones than Dupont Circle. On the other hand, it opens the door (further) to private concessionaires taking over public spaces for commercial gain. Ick.


Cleveland Estate
Jonathan Abram,

Just across the street from Rosedale, at Newark and 36th, stands a large tract of land known as the Cleveland Estate. It has just been sold, and although many rumors have flown about the future of the property, the latest word around the neighborhood is that the buyer plans to divide up the land and build multiple town homes or condos. Does anyone know the real scoop?


Incompetent Starpower
Matthew Kessler,

I have only had Starpower cable for three weeks. Out of those three weeks I have had a picture for about 13 days. It took six days to get someone out to fix my cable. Five times they told me they would be there and five times they did not show up. This is enraging given the fact they give you a time “frame” and not an exact time. Only adding to my anger was the fact that when the technician did come out to fix the problem he was there a total of three minutes and told me that the problem was someone else in my building had not paid their bill and was to be disconnected, however they mistakenly disconnected me. Anyone who has District CableVision I urge you NOT to switch to Starpower. I have had nothing but problems with them in the three weeks I have had them including my cable going out, my telephone getting disconnected and them coming twice to install everything because they did it improperly the first time. Anyone who IS with Starpower and has a complaint can contact Susan Rittenhouse, Director of Customer Service 7921 Woodruff Court, Springfield, VA 22151, 703-321-8000.


Starpower vs. Bell Atlantic — Who Screwed Up More
Harold Goldstein,

This story is far from over but.... I spoke with Starpower about switching my local service to them. I have 2 lines and one has DSL. Since I wasn't ready to commit to Starpower's cable internet service (the only two people I've spoken with do not have real good speed on theirs) I said let's consider one line only. We set up a tentative date for that one line but said that I needed to know if my rollover would still work. They said the workmen would discuss that. The day came and without any feedback Bell-Atlantic disconnected BOTH my lines. Starpower just asked them and they don't bother asking the consumer! Well, from there on it took all day to get Bell to reconnect the lines; when they did the lines were switched and some services were missing. It took three more days to straighten that out (for some reason they needed to have a home appointment, the first of which they never showed at) but they still, a week later, don't have my DSL up.

The outcome is that I cannot stand Bell Atlantic, abhor Starpower, still hate DC Cable (when my cable physically came off the pole and stretched across the street it took one week for them to come and fix it.) and have no decent options here in DC! If you talk to Starpower about switching local service make certain they can switch ALL the services you need on all your lines seamlessly before even suggesting you are ready to switch.


Starpower and VCR Plus Codes
Alison Kamat,

I couldn't come up with a solution to the problem, but I did uncover a couple of interesting facts. Gemstar (the creator of the codes) and TV Guide are about to merge. TV Guide's web site doesn't list VCR Plus codes yet, but it should soon. Unfortunately TV Guide doesn't know yet that Starpower exists.



DC Public Library Author Programs
Patricia Pasqual,

The DC Center for the Book's spring author series is a great reason to stay downtown after work for a few hours. The author series includes readings and commentary by popular and noted essayists, novelists and nonfiction writers. Free and open to the public, the series is being co-sponsored by Vertigo Books. The programs are being held at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW in the Main Lobby at 6:30 p.m.

The spring line-up of author begins with novelist Yolanda Joe, best-selling author of He Say, She Say, introducing her new book, This Just In, a look at five women working in the cutthroat world of broadcast news on Tuesday, April 25th. On Wednesday, April 26th National Book Award winner, Jonathan Kozol, known for his stirring works on children and education, will comment on his latest work, Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope. Poet, essayist and teacher June Jordan will share insights from her childhood memoir Soldier: A Poet's Childhood on Monday, May 8th.

Programs last about 40 minutes, with authors introducing their works, reading selections from their work and answering questions from the audience. Books will be available for purchase and signing after the program. For more information about these programs join Vertigo Books' E-mail list at The Martin Luther King Memorial Library is close to the Metro Center and Gallery Place Metrorail stations. Limited free underground parking is available. Enter from 10th Street and G Place, N.W. From more information, call 727-1186. The D.C. Center for the Book is an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The mission of the DCCB is to celebrate, honor and promote books, reading, literacy and the literary heritage of the District of Columbia and
the surrounding metropolitan area. For more information on the DCCB, call 727-2313.


Trash Force Does Its Part for Earth Day 2000
Paul Nahay,

This Saturday, Earth Day, while fair-weather environmentalists will be on the Mall hoping to pick out Leo DiCaprio from a distance, REAL environmentalists will be in Rock Creek Park picking up trash! Trash Force's next outing will be this coming Saturday, April 22, 2000, meeting 10:45 am at Picnic Area 10 in Rock Creek Park. We'll focus on the nearby waterway, which is very trashed from runoff from neighboring residential areas. Directions and info are at

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! Please note that Trash Force will on hiatus this summer (during June, July, and August), unless someone wants to volunteer to keep it going while I'm away during that period. If interested, please let me know.


ANC 3C Meeting

ANC 3C will meeting on Monday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. The ANC Meeting will immediately follow brief Police Service Area (PSA) 204 and 205 Meeting which begins at 7:30 p.m. Second District Police Station, 3220 Idaho Avenue, NW (Community Room). Agenda includes DPW traffic calming proposals for 34th Street, Alban Towers application for special exception for accessory parking, planned construction of Sikh temple at 3801 Massachusetts Avenue, Councilmember Harold Brazil’s presentation on proposed changes to criminal sentencing system.


Renew Your Spirit at Longview
Connie Ridgway,

We invite you to renew your spirit at Longview, a retreat/workshop center close to Washington, DC, on the Potomac River. We are sponsoring two workshops in the coming weeks: Saturday, May 6, 10 am-4 pm, Tending the Garden of Your Soul, led by Lisa Cosgrove-Davies. In this season of new life, what does your spirit need for growth? Using images of plants and gardening we will consider how we can till, water, and fertilize the soil of our soul. No gardening experience necessary, but everyone will take home a plant! $80. Saturday, June 3, 10 am-4 pm, Massage for Fun and Healing, led by Connie Ridgway. Massage is one of the best ways for us to reconnect with ourselves and Someone else. Learn techniques which you can use on yourself and/or with someone else. $80.

Longview is about 15 miles south of DC near Indian Head Highway in Accokeek, Maryland. It is across the river from Mt. Vernon, VA, and has a view of the Potomac River and the Washington Monument. Many a day we've seen bald eagles flying lazily about the property. Longview Retreats was born with a simple mission: to create a space where people can explore what is sacred in their lives and learn to live out of their values, while surrounded by beauty and a sense of being Home. Through the creative arts, spirituality and community-building, we encourage people to take risks and imagine possibilities. We hope this lovely place will help you to step back and see the “long view” of your life.

We now have a web site at It describes the workshops in more detail, provides a registration form, and more information about the workshop leaders and the Longview property. Join us!



Glass Aquarium
Liz Hoopes,

Perfect condition. Not sure of the gallon capacity, but the dimensions are 30w x 12h x 12d. Asking $30.00 OBO — cash and carry. Call 338-1585 or E-mail.



Donate Books to D.C. Takoma Branch Library Fundraiser
Dodie Butler,

Friends of the D.C. Takoma Branch Library are collecting books for a book sale fundraiser taking place Saturday, May 13. Donations can be dropped off at the library, which is at the corner of 5th and Cedar Streets, N.W., through May 12. (We have a fall sale as well and accept donations year-round). The branch is two blocks west of the Takoma Metro, and about one block east of Piney Branch Road, N.W. We may be able to make some pickups. We really cannot use old text books or out-of-date reference books. We are looking for hardcover and paperback books that are in good condition and of general interest, including novels, biographies, “how-to,” travel and cook books. If you have particularly valuable books, because, for example, they are very old and in good condition, or are recent best sellers, we would be happy to provide you a detailed receipt listing each book you donate. Proceeds are used to buy supplies and equipment and to support activities not covered by the library's limited budget. For more information, call Dodie Butler, 291-5338. The library's telephone number is 576-7252.



Glover Park Townhouse
Jo Radner,

We're looking for caring, compulsive adults to rent our FURNISHED GLOVER PARK TOWNHOUSE from July 1, 2000 until July or August 2001, while we are away on sabbatical. Three bedrooms, 2 studies, 3 full baths. Modern kitchen, 2 decks, off-street parking, A/C, country antiques, original woodwork, piano, many other amenities. No smoking, no pets, no groups. $2300 month plus utilities. Call 333-7795 or 333-6951 or E-mail or


Housing for Motorcycle
John Whiteside,

I'm looking to rent an offstreet parking space in Dupont/Adams-Morgan. The main goal is to keep my motorcycle off the street -- a garage spot is obviously wonderful, but even a patch of pavement behind a building with access to the street could work. If you've got anything (or even have suggestions of where to look!) drop me a line.



Deck Cleaner
Jim Feldman, Chevy Chase, D.C.,

I am looking for someone to clean and apply sealant to the deck in back of my house. Does anyone have a recommendation of someone who does this kind of work well and at a reasonable price?


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
Loose Lips is away. His column will return when he does.
Catch up with previous columns here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
FRIDAY-SUNDAY: Mr. Spoons plays the spoons, at 7 p.m. Friday, April 21, at the Hard Times Cafe, 3028 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; Saturday, April 22, at the Hard Times Cafe, 1440 King St., Alexandria; and Sunday, April 23, at the Hard Times Cafe, 1117 Nelson St., Rockville. Free.
SATURDAY: Dave Eggers may or may not read from his book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, at 7:30 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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