Dead of the Night
Last night, while DC voters recovered from flooding to the polls (8.2
percent of the registered voters turned out, greatly beating the record 5.5 percent
turnout in the 1997 election in which Linda Cropp was first elected Chairman of the City
Council), Dorothy and I attended a dead-of-the-night meeting of the Board of Elections at
which the Board set the date for the special election on school governance. On June 27,
the DC government will pay about $370,000 to run a special election on the Mayor's and the
City Council's proposed Charter Amendment to divide the Board of Education into two
factions, one faction democratically elected by the people and the other faction appointed
by the Mayor. The Board of Elections did its best to keep its meeting secret it
held the first evening meeting in its history, on the day of an election, and it announced
the meeting only by a classified ad in The Washington Times that very morning and
by posting the announcement on its web site. It passed an emergency resolution (when there
was no real rationale for an emergency and no notice of the resolution in its ad) revising
its regulations in order to make holding the special election legal, and then it set the
June 27th date, adding the fourth election to be held in six months.
This action was well in line with the cynical contempt for the citizens
that the Council and the Mayor have displayed on this issue. Their calculation is that in
a special election, with limited publicity and no other issues to attract voters to the
polls, enough citizens can be kept away from voting to allow the proposal for a divided
School Board to pass. The tragedy is that they're probably right. They can win this vote
if they keep the turnout low enough, but it will be a morally bankrupt victory.
The Mayor's initial argument for an all appointed Board of Education was
that in his wisdom he would make much better appointments to the Board than the voters
would ever elect. His record of appointments doesn't support that contention. Today, he
announced the Presidential and Mayoral appointments to the National Capital Revitalization
Corporation. The NCRC, as you remember, is a pseudo private corporation that was
legislatively created to shield important economic development decisions from public
scrutiny and review. All of the appointments announced today were representatives of
special interests with a record of anti-neighborhood, anti-resident activities, including
long-time Barry cronies and the real estate agent who leads George Washington University's
efforts to buy up Foggy Bottom housing and drive residents out of the neighborhood. Fasten
your seat belts; we're in for a bumpy ride.
Every so often when I am walking around I see a toddler with a plastic toy
camera. The idea, of course, is that the child wants to be like Mom and Dad, who are
taking pictures. The parents know that the child can't understand a real camera, so they
provide the toy, which for a small child works just fine. Unfortunately, democracy in the
District is the same as that toy camera, and citizens who live in D.C. are treated like
children. We have elections and we vote, and it really makes no difference at all. These
are toy elections in a toy democracy. And despite Gary's suggestion that we take this past
Tuesday's election seriously, and despite the fact that I personally have always voted in
the past, this is all a charade and we do ourselves a disservice by being a party to it.
Shaun Snyder, Ward 3 Republican, Chevy Chase, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle's belief that our turnout in an election will help us show others
that we "deserve" voting representation in Congress is as ridiculous as Mayor
William's belief that he could help us "earn" voting representation in Congress.
We still have Washingtonians who don't understand that we deserve representation because
we are Americans -- we don't need any other reasons.
And don't expect an Al Gore administration to actively pursue voting
representation for the District. Why should they? They'd have to convince a skeptical
American public, and for what? This city will give the Democrats its 3 electoral votes no
matter what; they have no incentive to devote resources to securing votes that they
already have locked up.
I know Ed Barron thinks we're a bunch of radical democracy freaks for
insisting on the same basic political rights almost all other Americans take for granted,
and for arguing that our colony, having participated in the American revolution, should
not now be excluded from the spoils of that victory; but guess what? I'd be happy to pay
my fair share to the federal government if I got something in return like everybody else
specifically, an equal voice in the body that collects and spends our taxes. I'm a
shareholder in this country and I have an obvious right to be heard at the shareholders'
meeting. Do advocates of D.C. tax relief also support Eduardo Burkhart's demand for a
refund of all federal taxes collected from D.C. residents in the past?
Be careful here, neighbors. If we give up on representation and focus on
taxation, our colony will be politically weaker than ever. (And representation alone will
not correct the fact that other people's elected deputies from Georgia, Texas, etc.
can overturn our most ordinary and democratically legitimate local decisions.
That's why statehood is the only justice.)
Fighting DC Taxation
Donald Lief, email@example.com
The Thompson-Williams piece in the Post was good, in not arguing
about commuter taxes. That's not going to take place. Their analysis of constitutional
references to states and taxation was the best I've seen. But, if there are no
constitutional grounds for levying federal income taxes on DC residents, shouldn't the
legislative history of the actual federal income tax be part of the discussion? It might
be fruitful to research how DC was regarded at that time around 1913. If the language of
the law relies on specific constitutional authority (I'm guessing it does) and that
authority may not be applicable to DC, as the Post authors contend, one would
assume that the DC government might bring suit, challenging federal income taxes'
collection from residents, just as in Puerto Rico.
Such a suit would be considered directly by the Supreme Court which has
jurisdiction in state-federal suits. Although the Court might ultimately rule against DC,
the provocative discussion before and afterward would garner substantial media attention
and, one hopes, develop a much more widespread national understanding of the unfairness
not to mention absurdities inherent in DC's governance by outsiders.
The Mayor intends to run for a second term in 2002 based on his new
fund raising campaign. . . , the report cards are due in December
Let's make sure he
is accountable for all his proposed and budgeted line-items. That was the essence of
Ed Barron's plea to us listeners. But, Ed, you gave me an example of the
Mayor's poor management by outlining that he might not be able to plant 6000 trees, only
2500. I commend your investigative efforts, but what about focussing the investigation on
where money for long-term care is going, ambulances, fire department, education, social
work, after school programs. Please investigate and let me know about these crucial budget
issues, not trees.
I read each themail the following way: I diligently read all the headline
of each posting, the first paragraph, then decide if I have the time to finish reading
right then or put it away for night reading. An article about DC votes, and what is wrong
about it, usually captures my attention, and I read it through right then. On this day, I
got to the end of the article about what is wrong with residents of DC having
representation, and it says Let's vote for no taxation (instead). I was so
amazed at the fact that someone could propose starting a no-win battle, that I
was compelled to page-up and see who wrote it. Not to my surprise, it was Ed
T. Barron. Come on, Ed, there is no way a national precedent will be set in DC; voting for
no taxation is a waste of time.
Voting Rights Petition E The People
Steve Leraris, Ward 4, Leraris@aol.com
There's an online petition for DC Voting Rights http://www.e-thepeople.com/affiliates/national/
go to Most Recent Petitions section.
Da Mayor on TV
Joan Eisenstodt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tried to watch it as an outsider/non-DC resident might view
it. Even as a resident, I found myself liking Mayor Williams more than I thought I did.
He's made mistakes but, as I travel the country, I find that so many cities have greater
problems in general and with their elected leadership that I wonder if sometimes our
perspective is skewed. We've had such a diversity of styles in our few mayors. Mayor
Williams's is so different. On 60 Minutes, he came across as smart (albeit
nerdy, but then I like that!) and willing to make the city better. Was my
Dear Mayor Williams, I am impressed with the way you are correcting many
problems of the District, and especially enjoyed your 60 Minutes piece. I do have a
question, and will be brief. Last Saturday (29 April) I received a Default Notice from the
Automated Traffic Enforcement group of the MPD, saying a ran a red light on 10 Feb. 2000
at 9:14 PM. The only thing right about the letter was my tag number, which is a
16-year-old second vehicle. I did not get the first notice they indicated was sent, and
they enclosed no picture of my vehicle in the Default Notice. I was not, and my vehicle
was not, in the District that night. I am 72, and was undergoing cancer radiation
treatments that caused great fatigue and was in bed by 9:00 PM most of February. At my
age, I avoid driving at night as well. The vehicle, a rear drive small pickup, was in our
garage most of February because of the snow.
I called 289-7384 at 8:30 Mon, 1 May, and was told to leave my number and
someone would call back. No one did. At noon I went to DC offices at 301 C St. After
waiting in two long lines, I was told to go to the Traffic Adjudication Office at 65 K St.
There the lady at the information desk sympathetically told me to write down the facts,
which she put with a stack of other similar notices, and said not to worry about it.
This is serious business and I took it seriously. The Default Notice said
I must pay the $150.00 fine by May 4, or I would be subject to license suspension and
summary arrest if I drove in the District. Further, it threatened to notify Maryland DMV
and have my MD licenses suspended. My question is, how can they make such a mistake that
caused distress and the inconvenience of driving 25 miles to DC, finding a parking place
(twice), only to learn that it appears to be a common occurrence?
Well, I took my car into my mechanic last week, had them give it a
thorough safety inspection, fixed a few minor problem areas, and added some more
significant cosmetic repairs. Today, Monday, I went to Half Street at the crack of
dawn. Well, I got in line at 5:50 AM, anyway. The line was wrapped around about two
block lengths. Not too bad, I thought. I got out of the Inspection Station at 7:30 AM. My
car was failed due to exhaust leaking. I immediately took it to my mechanic's
shop. Two of their mechanics combed over the car and declared it perfectly fit.
At this moment I recalled that I had noticed that an unusual number of
cars seemed to be getting failed stickers this morning. I called the Mayor's
office and complained and then called Half Street and spoke to the supervisor. They both
said there was nothing to do but bring the car back down and run it through again. I took
the car down again at 5:00 PM. This time the line was about one and a half block lengths.
Better, but ... Anyway, when I got to be number one at the stop sign inside
the gate, about 5:30 PM, I talked to one of the inspectors and explained the situation. He
took my car right to an empty bay. It seemed like a team leader spent about 15 minutes
using my car to conduct a small seminar to three inspectors. Then they tested
it. It passed. I got out of inspection station about 6:10 PM this time, having missed the
wait time that comes after you get passed the internal stop sign.
Go figure, but to me it seems to open the door for a lot of fraud by
unscrupulous repair shops.
Alvin M. Hattal, email@example.com
Gabe Goldberg and James McLeod posted complaints about the Washington
Post on April 30, and I'm sure their complaints were justified. But as a former
denizen of Silver Spring and Potomac for a few decades and whose hometown paper now
is the Los Angeles Times -- well, I knew the Post, and the LA Times
is no Post. The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and maybe a handful of other
papers are in a league of their own. (By now I assume you've heard of the LAT's
publisher's idiotic effort last fall to tear down the firewall between the editorial and
advertising departments and the resulting firestorm of protest from the writers and
editors of the paper. David Shaw, the paper's media critic, has just won a National
Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his 14-page critique of
the fiasco, which the editor was forced to publish. And now the LAT has been sold
to the ChiTrib, which has named a new publisher and a new editor. This in a city
several times larger than DC.)
Count your lucky stars.
Should we take seriously the Census Bureau's report of response rate for
this year's census? Someone from the Census Bureau knocked on my door earlier this week to
ask me a few questions.ö I told her I sent in my long form, questions answered,
weeks ago. Oops! Is my experience common or an isolated error?
New Tag Slogan Is a Stupid Idea
Ron Eberhardt, RGE1022@aol.com
Just when you think you have heard every idiotic idea the District of
Columbia is capable of coming up with, surprise! There is another one. The nutty and
offensive idea to put the negative and politically motivated message, Taxation
Without Representation on the license plate of those of us who live here is an idea
whose time hopefully has not come. I have lived here for 20 years and have constantly been
aghast by those who spend city resources and political capitol pushing this notion that is
more symbolic and political then anything else. How dare the council or anyone else decide
that such a divisive statement may be proclaimed for all. I for one will put tape over
such an absurd and embarrassing statement if it becomes law. The District often enough
looks absurd and out of touch to many Americans. Must we participate in another foolhardy
notion? I hope not. This makes the old saying that Washington DC is 69 square miles
of fantasy surrounded by reality all the more real!
Nancy Henderson wrote that perhaps we need to fix the central
administration, when commenting to Ed Barron's post that we need to hire well qualified
principals. The question is then, how do we do both of these. Currently, in public school
systems, the job of principal is a stepping stone to a job in the central administration.
This is the crux of the problem. Principal should be the end job. Perhaps the answer is to
dismantle as much of the central administration as possible, either by abolishing it or by
decentralizing it to the individual schools.
I remember when I was on the Mayor's staff and the Children's Defense Fund
donated five playgrounds to the schools. The principals did not have the facilities
information for the playgrounds; it had to come from the central office. Perhaps
facilities for each school, with facilities staff, should be reporting to the principal.
The principal could then be accountable to an individual school board made
up of three parents (one of which could be out of boundary), the ANC commissioner where
the school is located and the NEA shop steward. High Schools would have two parent reps
(one in boundary, one out of boundary) and a student member. The Archdiocese of Washington
(which includes suburban Maryland) has six people in their school administration, with
empowered principals and boards for each school. This, more than the right to reject
students (which Catholic schools don't do all parish kids go) is why they are so
successful. Perhaps DCPS might follow their lead.
A Lesson Not Learned
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
The schools in Kansas City, Missouri have lost their accreditation and
will be taken over by the State of Missouri. Despite pouring almost $2B (with a capital B)
into making the schools showplaces, the graduation rate was only fifty percent from the
city's schools, and the reading level of graduates is at the third grade level. Well, we
have some of those same unsuccessful schools right here in D.C. Who will take away their
accreditation? Who will intervene on behalf of the students to see that they get a decent
And what about the results of pouring all that money into the schools?
Wasted money, since the kids got no better education than before the schools were made
into palaces. What makes the educational processes work are good teachers, good
administrators, and good support at students' homes for a decent education. That's the
kind of reform that is needed in the DCPS. The Mayor should take a very close look at just
how the added $85M will be spent in the DCPS. If that money will bring in good classroom
teachers then that is a start. An even better approach would be to find ways of getting
more parental involvement in the education process in those schools that are doing poorly.
Dear Mayor Williams: I had a terrible experience downtown last weekend
that I wanted to share with you. On Sunday morning, after hearing days of hype regarding
the World Bank/IMF demonstrations, I took a trip downtown to learn more about the protests
and the controversy surrounding the World Bank. Some time between 11:00 and 12:00, I was
sitting on the grass at the corner of 15th and Pennsylvania when I noticed a number of
buses filled with MPD officers in riot gear approaching. The officers were slowly arranged
into lines of 10 or more officers wide and a few deep standing shoulder to shoulder. I had
a feeling that something bad was approaching but was not prepared for what happened next.
After an order was given, the officers marched down the street in formation. When five
young kids stood in their way, the dozens of officers did not slow their pace or attempt
to remove the protesters. Instead, they kept marching, threw the people to the ground, and
proceeded to march over them. At the same time, officers on motorcycles cleared the sides
of the street by, in some cases, using their cycles to push pedestrians and bicyclists out
of the way. The line of officers kept marching, turned the corner up 15th Street, and
eventually cleared protesters away from the police barricade that was blocking the street.
I saw a number of people lying on the ground after this confrontation, including an older
Asian man whose only crime seemed to be that he was photographing the incident.
To MPD's credit, serious abuse on the parts of individual officers was
limited; however, I am quite disturbed that these officers were directed into such a
violent confrontation in the first place. The protesters did not pose a threat to any
officers or pedestrians prior to the assault. These were not anarchists or any
other violent group that we heard about on TV. They were merely kids standing in the
street, and I thank God that none of them fought back against the police. If the
protesters were breaking the law by standing in the middle of the street, then I believe
that the proper response should have been to arrest (if necessary) and to remove them from
the street peacefully.
I did not go down to the Mall to participate in the protests; however, I
fully supported the right of peaceful assembly. Chief Ramsey's statements before and after
last weekend suggest that he also supports this right. That is why I am concerned that
somebody at MPD ordered a relatively violent confrontation with peaceful protesters. That
example of poor judgment has left me feeling uneasy about my city's police department. To
allay my concerns, I hope that you can supply me with the following information:
1. Whose decision was it to line up dozens of officers and confront the
passive protesters in a relatively violent fashion. 2. How was this conflict justified. 3.
What actions are being taken to ensure that situations like this are not repeated in the
According to the news reports that I saw, it appears that MPD performed in
an admirable fashion. It is possible that I witnessed the only act of unnecessary
violence; however, I can't remove the image of that confrontation from my mind. I have
forwarded this letter to my council representative, Mrs. Patterson, and to Mr. Brazil, the
chair of the Judiciary Committee. Thank you very much.
I sent the above note to Mayor Williams and Councilmembers Patterson and
Brazil on April 23. Mrs. Patterson wrote back and said that she is trying to get the
Council to hold hearings on the subject. I still have not heard back from either Mayor
Williams or Councilmember Brazil.
We have an infestation of caterpillars this year. They are about two
inches long, brown and everywhere (I just swept up about 20 crawling on the front porch).
Does anyone know what they are and why so many this year? Are they tent worms? Thanks for
Here in N. Cleveland Park (Van Ness and 37, to be exact), we suddenly have
a plague of gypsy moth caterpillars. I know from having lived on Long Island, NY, as a
child that these buggers devastate trees. I moved to the neighborhood in the summer last
year, so I don't know if this is a new phenomenon. Does anybody know if the city is doing
anything about this (he says, knowing what the answer is likely to be), and if not, whom I
should contact? Is there anything I can do on my own property at least?
Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown
Mark Richards, Dupont East, mark@bisconticom
For an entertaining trip to the burbs, check out Men on the
Verge of a His-panic Breakdown, presented by Round House Theater, www.round-house.org, through May 14th. Actor Daniel
Luna, a good friend (from DC, via Seattle, now living in NY), performs this one-man show
of first-person monologues by different characters a combination of comedy and
tragedy related to immigration, race, gender, sexual identify. Monologues include: The Gay
Little Immigrant That Could; Goodbye to Sugar Daddy; Hispanically Correct; Federico Writes
Again; Castro's Queen; ESL: English as a Stressful Language; Drag Flamenco; Epilogue
The Marriage of Federico. I saw the show Sunday evening great! Covers a lot
of bases/issues, lots of laughs. Tel. 301-933-1644 for tickets. It's a short cab ride from
Silver Spring or Wheaton Metro. Near Connecticut at Veirs Mill Road. PS Tell Daniel
Luna you're waiting for his DC monologues.
Hearst Elementary School Auction, Saturday May 20
Sue Bell, email@example.com
Hearst Elementary School, a DC public school located near Tenleytown, is
holding its annual auction Saturday May 20th at Fannie Mae on 3900 Wisconsin Avenue from
6:30-10:30 pm. Join us for live music, food, beverages while you bid on great auction
items. Great deals to be had on tickets to theater performances, sporting events, getaway
weekend packages, and all sorts of children's activities from swimming and gymnastic
lessons to free passes to King's Dominion. All proceeds benefit the Hearst PTA, which
helps support our music, art, science and (new) Spanish program. Call Sue at 244-4595 or
E-mail for additional information or advance tickets.
Book lovers! Come to the Wilson SHS book sale on Saturday, May 13, from 10
am to 4 pm. Nebraska and Chesapeake Streets, NW, Tenleytown Metro. Huge supply of books.
Refreshments sold. From noon to 1 PM, there will be student performances of music and
reading. Proceeds to benefit the Wilson Peaceable Schools Initiative.
Everybody is invited to the Oyster Bilingual Elementary School's annual
FIESTA! Noon until 4 p.m., Saturday, May 6. The place is not Calvert Street, the site of
the old building, and of the new building under construction. Instead, Oyster is located
this year at the K.C. Lewis School at 300 Bryant Street, NW, just south of the Howard
University campus. There will be an auction, great food, recreation for the kids, and
entertainment. You can also see a great school community in action the staff,
teachers, parents, neighbors and, of course, the kids themselves. (A bilingual kid is one
who does not do as he is told in two languages.) The Oyster program is recognized as an
international model of what bilingual education should be: it is high time to build on
this DCPS success and replicate the school.
May 6 Rummage Sale at Eastern Market
Mark Eckenwiler, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, May 6, 2000, St. James's Parish on Capitol Hill will hold a
Rummage Sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Location: Antiques on the Hill, 7th and North Carolina,
SE (north end of Eastern Market). Items include clothing, furniture, books, rugs, and
CLASSIFIEDS HELP WANTED
Investigator to Assist Attorney
James McLeod, email@example.com
Person interested in criminal justice field to work as investigator to
assist attorney(s) representing indigent persons accused of crimes. $10/hour plus
expenses. Work involves going to all parts of the city (and thus having a car is
Looking for someone to sublease furnished room in house May 1 through
August 31 to share with female, professional Hill staffer. Near Chevy Chase Circle DC
(Tennyson and Utah Street). Fantastic quiet neighborhood near Rock Creek Park. Bus line
goes next to the house right to Tenleytown Metro. Walk to Friendship Heights Metro. House
is charming Tudor style, rent 750.00 plus utilities Call Robin Schepper at 244-0322, or
E-mail Hunterontravel@hotmail.com for more
Listserv for the Meetings Industry
Joan Eisenstodt, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are, or have a staff member or know someone, who is, involved in
planning and managing meetings, recommend http://www.mim.com/forum/forum.cfm
a free, international listserv for those in the meetings industry. I'm the
Listmistress who helps guide discussions.
I'm looking for a cleaning person or cleaning service to clean my SW DC
apartment, preferably with their own equipment. Please respond to me directly. [And, as
always, when you have a good recommendation, please send it to themail, too. Gary
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, email@example.com
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
WARD HEALER: Ward 4 Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis has learned many precious political
skills in her 20-plus years on the D.C. Council: how to say yes to every big-time
developer in town; how to hit up political friends for donations to Southeastern
University, where she is the sitting president; and how to cultivate allies in city
No surprise, then, that as soon as Mayor Anthony A. Williams was inaugurated in January
1999, Jarvis began acting like a lifelong supporter of the short-timer.
Now, though, Jarvis is about to learn a lesson about mayoral gratitude towards allies:
There isn't much of it.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/lips.html
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early
warnings for upcoming events:
FRIDAY: Sidney Perkowitz lectures on Galaxies, Beer, and Baked Alaska: The Science
of Foams, at 3:30 p.m. at the Goddard Space Flight Center's Building Three
Auditorium, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt. Free.
WEDNESDAY: Paul Beatty reads from and signs copies of Tuff at 7 p.m. at Vertigo Books,
7346 Baltimore Ave., College Park. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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