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June 11, 2000

Give It Up, Tony

Dear Mr. Mayor:

We understand, secondhand of course, that you're furiously angry. But your anger at us is misdirected. You announced that you were going to run your campaign to pass the School Governance Charter Amendment by using taxpayer funds, government workers campaigning during their work hours, government facilities, and government supplies. In fact, you did all of that at the campaign kickoff rally on June 8. The next day, we filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance and the Board of Elections and Ethics (

What you did was wrong, and you should admit it and swear that you will not do it again. Instead, you have insisted that what you did was right, that you will continue to do it, and that you have a lawyer's opinion justifying running a political campaign using government resources ( The lawyer's opinion is a joke, and everybody knows it — it says that the citizens voting aren't the electorate in an election, but the legislative body deciding a legislative issue, and that therefore you aren't campaigning for voters, but lobbying the legislature. As Tom Sherwood said on the “District Politics Hour” on Friday, “The only thing missing was Jay Leno's laugh line.” Nobody buys it, and you should admit that it is a transparent fiction.

There are two kinds of lawyers, the kind who will tell you how to act within the law and the kind who will give you a rationale for evading the law. If you wanted to know what you could do legally, you would have sought an opinion from the Office of Campaign Finance or the Board of Elections in the first place; instead you shopped for a lawyer who would tell you that there was a slippery way to do what you wanted to do, even if it was against the law. Mr. Mayor, stop now, rethink your strategy, and go back to running your campaign with massive donations from Virginia and Maryland businessmen, the way you planned to do in the first place.

Gary Imhoff and Dorothy Brizill


Referendum Conundrum
Mark Eckenwiler,

Upon perusing the full text of the Charter Amendment up for a vote on 6/27 (available at and at, I noticed that in addition to restructuring the Board, it would allow the City Council to create a state education agency. Has this been completely ignored by the local media, or was I simply lulled by the volume of discussion of the Board restructuring proposal? More to the point, why exactly do I want another agency responsible for a piece of the DCPS puzzle? As someone with a long-standing objection to DC's abnormally high bureaucrat/teacher ratio, I'm not sure I understand how this creation and delegation of authority is supposed to improve things. Can somebody enlighten me?


A Hobson’s Choice
Ed T. Barron,

Who was Hobson, anyway? I guess he was faced with a difficult choice selecting one or the other of two unpleasant decisions. Well, that's what we are facing here in the proposals for the next School Board. We either choose a hybrid, nine member Board with members appointed by the Mayor, other members elected by more than one ward and one at large member. Damned if we do and damned if we don't.

My own choice is neither of these but rather an elected nine member Board comprised of members who were all elected “at-large.” I believe that this configuration would ensure the election of the highest qualified Board members to represent the kids in the District, and it would add cooperation and communication in place of the current competition (ward turf battles).

After some long thought on this subject (and after five years as a school board member in my past life) I have concluded that it is time for a change. It is time to swallow hard, bite my tongue (and perhaps a bullet), to vote for the hybrid Board proposal. We cannot go back to the 11 member Board without its disintegrating into the chaos that is evident on the current elected Board. I can only hope that there will be a spirit of oneness with the hybrid Board and that they will proactively begin the real reformation of the DCPS. It is time for a change.


With Uncharacteristic Brevity
Ms. Dorothy Persiflage,

Concerning local drug stores, Ms. Persiflage has consistently had ghastly experiences at the Rite Aid at 13th and U Streets, N.W. Her one experience with Tschiffely Pharmacy on 19th Street was the opposite. A tout ta' Do


And Yet Another Bad Experience at 3400 Wisconsin
Judie Guy,

The night before needing to get a prescription filled, I read the warning in themail about the CVS pharmacy service at 3400 Wisconsin. Foolishly I went ahead and had my doctor call my prescription in there anyway (it's the closest, blah, blah). Granted that 7 to 9 p.m. is probably their busiest time, as folks stop by after work, but they are completely unequipped to handle that traffic near as I can tell. There was always a seven person line. I waited 30 to 40 minutes for a prescription that was called in 10 hours earlier. Obviously they started from scratch when I arrived. In the meantime I watched as they 1) gave someone the wrong medication (not even close); 2) told someone else (a former city councilman I might add) that the prescription he had called in the day before was “on order and wouldn't be ready till late next day.” He was nicer than I and wondered only why they hadn't let him know this was the case. I left without even getting insurance reimbursement since it became obvious that that transaction would take another half hour. “We'll need to call your insurance company.” Why? “The numbers don't match” (whatever that meant I wasn't about to hang around still longer to find out). I too am vowing never again and plan to use Safeway or the independents. I understand 3400 will close once the CVS opens near Wisconsin and Hall Place (even closer to me). However, my hopes aren't high that service will improve with a new location.


Three Cheers for the Little Guy!
Jan Morton,

When CVS performed its hostile takeover of the MacArthur Theater a few years ago, the community backed, with a vengeance, the little MacArthur Drugs just a couple of doors down the street. They're good! The nicest people, good service, well stocked, well informed, good schedule of open hours and free delivery. Nice example of the little guy refusing to be sucked up by the humongous (in every way) big guy.


Grubb’s Pharmacy on Capitol Hill
Ron Eberhardt,

It sounds as though many of us have had it — literally — with many of the chain pharmacies such as the almost always deplorable CVS. So, if you live or work on Capitol Hill or nearby, I strongly recommend Grubb's Pharmacy on East Capitol and 4th Streets, S. E. (543-4400). I have traded at this independent neighborhood pharmacy for almost 20 years — though I no longer live on the Hill. Grubb's once had a soda bar but has now modernized its space, grown significantly, and — in an age of poor counter service — even provides delivery! Telephoned prescriptions may be picked up efficiently. There are a sufficient number of competent on-duty pharmacists and the staff is generally helpful and friendly.


No Residential Parking Permit:
Peg Blechman,

I'm so glad to find out that this issue affects other residents throughout DC. Please contact your councilmember about this. There should be an exception so that even if you live on a street without residential parking, you can get a permit to park throughout your ward. Let's band together and get this changed.

[Denise Wiktor graciously E-mailed me the sections of the Municipal Regulations (DCMR 18-2411 and 18-2412) that cover residential parking permits. Most of the language covers how specific blocks are designated as residential parking areas and how the permits work. There are only three paragraphs that apply to our question as to whether residential parking permits are limited only to people who live on restricted parking blocks. They are DCMR 18-2412.11, 12, and 13: “2412.11 After the Director designates a block for residential permit parking, the Director shall distribute applications for residential permit parking stickers to the residents of that block. 2412.12 An application for a residential permit parking sticker shall contain the name of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle, the vehicle's body make, body style, serial or VIN number, identification tag number, and, when appropriate, the vehicle's reciprocity number. 2412.13 The motor vehicle registration and related documentation may, in the discretion of the Director, be required to be presented when filing an application in order to verify the application.” As I read these sections, they require the DMV to distribute applications to the residents of a block that is newly designated for residential permit parking, but they don't restrict residential permits to residents of restricted blocks. So, unless I'm missing something, I'm back to my original position — DMV's policy isn't supported by the Code or Regulations. — Gary Imhoff]


Caution to Minors: themail May Be Dangerous to Your Future
Len Sullivan,

On the off chance that there are some kids out there smart enough to read, but dumb enough to read the compulsive venting of us (we?) windbags in themail, here is some different advice about K-12 public education, at the risk of riling Senior Contributor Ed Barron (6/7/00). The majority of DC's kids don't stand a chance of making a “decent living” tomorrow doing what they most like doing today. Most of us make (made) a living plying trades that others are willing to pay for, not those we most want to sell. Developing those trades surely requires first learning some standard — and eminently testable — skills like reading, writing, math, and — nowadays — science. After that, take wing if you wish. If you don't believe me, ask DC's chronically underprivileged and underemployed — or perhaps even the special ed bus drivers.

Instead of seeking out the teachers avidly teaching what they like best to teach, consider seeking out those teaching what you need to know — with a demonstrable, tested, track record in your needs, not theirs. And before you seek out a private or parochial school awash in educational freedoms, remember that the good ones get their students (and their endowments) by maintaining a track record of rigorously preparing kids to earn Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores high enough for acceptance into the nation's best colleges. Some of us believe Arlene Ackerman was on the right academic track for an urban school system struggling to prepare underprivileged kids for a productive future in the American lifestyle. Reading, writing, math, and science are not electives for them. Testing is the accepted method for monitoring success in teaching and in learning those rudimentary skills — and in preparing kids for jobs. It is done nationwide and worldwide, and it is worrisome that DC kids rank way below the American norm, and Americans are no longer at the top of the international scale.


Jackhammers Are Gone
Ed T. Barron,

Peace at last. The jackhammers rattling the cages near the AU Law School at the corner of Massachusetts Ave. and 48th Street are silent. The demolition phase of the area in front of the building is completed and restorations are underway. This is a pretty major renovation which will include a decorative fountain in the center of the open area, all new landscaping, and seating for some students between classes (those committed smokers in the student body of would-be litigants). Construction is scheduled for completion by mid-August.


Klingle Valley
Victor Chudowsky,

I stand by my remarks that opening Klingle Road will merely make it easier for suburban commuters to get to work at the Ronald Reagan building, at the expense of our quality of life (“shmoes” was a joke, lighten up!). As came out in the hearings yesterday, Reno, Connecticut, 34th Street, Porter, etc., are jammed with cars; if the road is opened we'll have another street jammed with cars, because the amount of cars in the metro area is continuing to increase, and we will only encourage more driving instead of more mass transit. We need green space. Enough is enough. There are currently five streets that cross Rock Creek Park: Military Trail, Blagden, Tilden/Park, Porter, and Calvert. Opening Klingle does not add a way across the park — the road runs into Porter and both streets enter onto the same bridge to get to Adams Mill. Currently we have five busy streets and one park; open the road and we will have six busy streets and no park.

Ms. Wiktor writes that she cannot get to the Cathedral from Mt. Pleasant, because she is “prevented” from getting there, and now must go all the way to Virginia to buy herbs. This is a rather incredible statement. Please try Tilden, Calvert, or Porter, and you will get to the Cathedral in minutes. Better yet, try the #92 McLean Gardens/Anacostia bus, which leaves from Adams Morgan pretty often, or the bus across Porter, H2 I think. Or get on a bike and ride up Klingle, enjoying the scenery on the way. What is more disturbing is the statement that our community (Ward 3), by wanting the road closed, is “insular.” On the contrary — we want Klingle Valley to be made part of Rock Creek Park so that more people can enjoy it. The area is not very inviting right now (but still heavily used) because of the broken pavement and garbage. If we make into a part of Rock Creek Park, the area will be maintained at no expense to DC and easily accessed from both ends — Woodley and Rock Creek Park. There would be signs directing people, perhaps picnic areas, and the area would also show up on maps as a part of the Park. The more the merrier. In addition, I advocate entries to the Park from Connecticut Avenue near Cleveland Park, so you don't have to jump over any stone walls, as is the case now. Far from being “insular,” the neighborhood wants more access to the area, not less. We just want you to walk or bike through it, not drive.


Vehicle Inspection Kudos
Henry B Thomas,

Having just returned from the Half Street inspection station, I feel obliged to share my welcome experience. I arrived at 9:48 on this Thursday morning, and was out within ten minutes. The staff members I had contact with were polite and helpful. In all, a signal improvement. (Of course, it helped that my car passed.)


Boggling the Mind
Len Sullivan,

If it is the consensus of themail subscribers that Chief Ramsey is not professionally qualified to comment on gun control policy, but that DC Council politicos are professionally qualified to dictate the precise fraction of uniformed police to be on the street at all times, then DC's license plate slogan should read “Alice in Wonderland II.”


The Roosevelt
Annie McCormick,

Does anyone have any idea what is happening with the Roosevelt building at 16th and W Streets? In the past few weeks, as I walk by the front of the building and wait for the downtown bus, I have noticed a white “security” small truck and a sport car (green car, plates RIP DRE). They just sit there and play their music loud and talk. There are usually three people there. I think security is a great idea, especially because since the building has been vacant there have been fires and vandalism which have caused someone to erect a fence all around the building. But what are these people really doing there? They are not there in the evening at 5 pm when I get home, and they are not there at night. How can I get a day gig where I can just sit there chatting and listening to music, and get paid for it? I could get a lot of reading done.


Street Stories
Bryce A. Suderow,

I've had so many email requests for the new issue of Street Stories on Police Chief Charles Ramsey that I've created a web site. I've never created a web site before, so it is kind of clunky. Interested parties should visit the web site: its address is



DC Voting Rights Meeting
Richard Steacy and Esther Cohen,

The Washington Ethical Society, Neighbors, Inc., and DC Vote cordially invite you and your friends to a reception and discussion about how you can help to get DC citizens full representation in Congress. Jamin B. Raskin, co-council in a federal lawsuit to obtain such voting rights, will be a speaker. Tuesday, June 13 at 7:15 pm, at The Washington Ethical Society, 7750 16th Street, NW (at Kalmia Rd., NW).



Westward Ho! Moving Sale
Scott Hummel,

I am moving to San Francisco in July and would like to sell some furniture before I leave DC. If you are interested, please contact Scott Hummel at 543-1804 (e) or 687-3573 (d). The Big List (all prices negotiable): 8" queen futon/tri-fold frame (great bed). $90; 8" queen futon/bi-fold frame (great couch), $75; oak coffee table from Crate & Barrel, $90; pine kitchen table with drawers from Ikea (30"x30"), $90; two dressers (both with 3 drawers), $40 each; jute rug (6'x9'), $30; maple end table, $20; 13" color tv GREAT picture, $25; microwave oven, $25; Uniden cordless phone, $15; set of 4 pine TV tables, $30.



Apartment Wanted
Avery Dizard,

Two bedroom apartment needed for two graduate students by August 1 in Glover Park or Burleith area. Please call Sally at 544-0022.



ISO Savvy Reel-to-Reel Techie
Sid Booth,

A friend's favorite reel-to-reel tape deck, a Revox 77A model, has gone weird and needs repair. It fast forwards and rewinds, but won't advance the tape in play mode. This is a quality, if venerable (28 years) machine, so we're seeking someone who knows what he's doing and will make a house call to my blind/elderly friend at his apartment on Connecticut Avenue. Please call me with suggestions at 483-5409 or write to


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