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June 18, 2000

In Contempt

Dear Fellow Objects of Contempt:

In the school charter amendment election, it's the powers-that-be against parents and citizens, and the powers are pulling out all the stops. Mayor Williams certainly isn't letting any ethical considerations stand in his way; his aim is obviously to win this election at any cost. He started by scheming to schedule the vote as a separate special election, between two summer primary elections, in order to keep voter turnout as low as possible. Then he began using taxpayer funds to run his campaign. On Friday, the Office of Campaign Finance called him on that and ordered him to stop (see He's already demonstrated his contempt for that legal order — today, churches throughout the District distributed campaign flyers for the charter amendment that were distributed to them by the Mayor's Office of Religious Affairs, with a request printed on the stationary of the Executive Office of the District that they support the amendment ( Mayor Williams also contrived to set up a secret campaign fund of at least $80,000, to be administered by DC Agenda — a creation and agent of the Federal City Council — that the public was never supposed to learn about and that was never supposed to be reported to the Office of Campaign Finance. When that fund was revealed, it was disbanded, or so we have been told. We haven't yet found out where that money will pop up next.

Advocates of dividing the school board into elected and appointed factions claim that they will be “accountable,” more accountable than representatives who are elected by the people. So far, they have only demonstrated that they are recklessly contemptuous of the election process and of us, the electorate. The Current newspapers asked me to write a piece stating why I personally oppose the charter amendment; if you want to see it, it's at

Gary Imhoff


Hobson’s Choice Continued
Michael Bindner,

The school board referendum may indeed be Hobson's choice for a different reason than you think. Given the grass roots mobilization capabilities of the various parent groups, the referendum is likely to fail. However, given the attitude of Congress toward our rights, I fully expect that the likely defeat of Matter #3 will be overturned by Congress, with Alice Rivlin and Eleanor Holmes Norton cheering from the wings (although Eleanor may act all indignant and organize a march against it, if this happens — however, this matter would not have gotten this far without her support). The challenge is, what will District citizens do if this happens? Will they finally take to the streets themselves or will they roll over again, accepting Congressional tyranny without so much as a whimper? We are about to see.

Of course, if the Adams v. Clinton lawsuit for full self-determination prevails in the Supreme Court the question will be moot, as the citizens of the District will vote for either unification with another state or statehood in that instance (and will likely support statehood). The 1982 Constitution (the only one which has been ratified by D.C. voters) provides for a 9 member elected school board with 8 ward members and one at-large. The referendum does not change this provision (and a referendum would be required to do so).

A final comment about Mr. Rudolph's list of news articles: it is interesting to note that the last three citations come during the reign of the current APPOINTED regime, which has in fact done a worse job than the elected board, opening the schools three weeks late and never quite carrying through with the school violence prevention and local school restructuring measures that the prior regime had laid out and was about to implement when power was snatched away by Congress. (Yes, you read right, the Control Board regime did not cause reform — they stopped it in its tracks).


School Governance
David Meadows, Eastern Market,

Does anyone know what the salaries of the lame hybrid School board will be? In the text of the “school governance referendum,” it says that all school board members will be paid, leaving vague space to insert the dollar amount. Does this mean that they all will receive the same rate of pay, will this rate reflect the current rate of the board now? Why do I think that the elected members will be paid much less than the well qualified appointed ones? Hopefully we will all vote NO and get to solving the real problems of DCPS.


Subversion of Our Voting Rights
Madelyn Lane,

Thank you for exposing the cynical plot of The Federal City Council (FCC) to deprive District voters of their voice in the future reform of the D.C. Public School System! All of this idle talk of self-determination and home rule is such a joke when the very people whom we have elected to represent us and who complain the most about our lack of democracy are subverting our right to a free and fair election. Why don't they believe enough in their own position to convince the voters that it is the right choice? Why are the architects of the referendum running so fast from it that they (Mayor and City Council) will not appear before the voters and defend it? It should not take a disinformation campaign paid for by the moneyed special interests of this City (FCC) to counter the gut reaction of the voters. Why is there one message for the west side of town — “Accountability” — and another message for the east side — “Vote YES for better schools”? Is “Accountability” a code word for something that folks on the east side cannot grasp?

I agree with The Common Denominator: “This special election — with a $370,000 price tag — is about a power grab, pure and simple. This isn't about educating the children. This referendum is not about creating a 'hybrid' school board of partially elected and partially appointed members. This referendum is about what happens to the DC Board of Education and our public schools four years from now. It will not fix long-standing dysfunction and threatens to exacerbate the current problems. Even the people supporting this proposal acknowledge there is no clear evidence that making this change will fix anything. DC voters should remain in direct charge of the basic structure of local government, including who makes policy for the public schools.” (

The choice is clear, a no vote simply means a rejection of this referendum. If rejected, there is nothing to prevent us from going back to the drawing board to come up with a solution that the public supports. There is enough blame to go around for the dismal state of the D.C. Public School System, but attributing all of the blame to the elected school board(s) for the neglect and under-funding of the past, when the Control Board Trustees have done little over the past three years to fix the system, is disingenuous. Clearly, it is going to take all of our efforts, working together, to turn the DCPS around. It will never happen by further polarizing the electorate with a covertly financed campaign to steal an election. This is more than just about school governance. If they (our elected politicians driven by the Federal City Council) can get away with this, then they can get away with anything! What's next? The downtown baseball stadium? A resurrection of the Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC) that was shelved last year? More trash-transfer stations? GIVE US A BREAK!


Susan Gushue,

Reasons to vote No on the referendum on June 27: Vote No because it is an assault on your voting rights. Vote No because a referendum should be used to implement change for the better, not just change. Vote No because you think what we need to improve the educational opportunities for children is more citizen involvement, not less. Vote No because after four years the council could change the governance structure to whatever it wants without another opportunity for the citizens to vote. Vote No because you do not like being told to vote yes or else, the threat we've heard anonymous elected officials repeat to explain their support for an awkward structure. Vote No because you like the idea that the people who set policy for the public schools are directly accountable to the public. Vote No because it is a plan endorsed by the Control Board — the same people who brought you General Becton, increased budgets, and minimal improvements. Vote No because you don't want to institutionalize factionalism, which will happen if we have a mix of appointed and elected members. Vote No because you think Mayor Williams should concentrate on fixing the support services for families that allow their children to go to school ready to learn and not distract himself with taking over the schools. Vote No because you know this idea is a creature of DC Agenda and other moneyed interests in the city and is not citizen driven. Vote No because — supply your own reason.


Referendum Letter
Gerald Woody, PTA president Spingarn, in care of

[The following letter was severely shortened in today's Washington Post] As the father of three children who have attended DC public schools I consider this referendum an insult. While the power brokers argue about who decides what the basic needs of my children continue to go unmet. I resent the time I'm being required to devote to the defeat of this legislation. If governance is such an important part of what is wrong with our schools, why was the all-appointed Board of Trustees such a failure? The council itself could not find a governance structure that the majority of them felt comfortable with but under a perceived threat from Congress they cooked up the "hybrid" board. Before you take away my power to vote, you had better have a pretty strong argument that I will see a real improvement for my children. How will having the people setting policy in the schools be people who have not managed to get a majority of the vote help me help my children? In the dysfunctional system which has been DCPS, my school board member was often the only one who bothered to get my questions answered and my concerns addressed. What people without children in the schools saw as “micromanaging,” parents saw as help when we needed it.

The school board has not worked well in the past. In many cases it isn't the school board's fault. The Office of Communication and of Parent Involvement need to become more clued in to what parent's concerns are, and they must share information with the public. We need to elect more members like Tom Kelly, William Lockridge, and Gail Dixon. Board members who have an ability to talk to and listen to their communities. I see my children benefiting from increased public awareness of the problems in the schools and from the willingness of the Mayor to coordinate the support services our families need. I see my children benefiting from the citywide coalition that has come into being around the goal of defeating the referendum. I see my children benefiting from my being treated like a thinking player in the task of raising my children. Giving the mayor more power isn't going to help my children.


Random Thoughts on School Board Vote
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

I'm glad that DC citizens are not considering an all-appointed school board. And I would like DC to be counted among the vast majority of school boards in the country that are elected by citizens AND that have the resources and provide excellent educational opportunities to students. I visited Philadelphia last week — their Board of Education is searching for a Superintendent — David W. Hornbeck resigned after 6 years. (Currently, Baltimore, Denver, and Memphis are searching for Superintendents. New York and Los Angeles last month selected non-educators for the post — a corporate lawyer and a former Colorado Governor.) In 1965, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer (6-11-00), Philadelphians voted for a 9-member mayoral-appointed board (recommended by a nominating panel) “to break the political stranglehold on the school board and school superintendent appointments.” They disposed of the “House of Lords” board that was appointed by Common Pleas Court judges who took orders from party heads. Since then, five Superintendents have been unable to reverse the “downward spiral of a school system plagued by white and middle-class flight, poverty, racial divisions, union strife, political fights, and steady decreases in the tax base, public support and funding.” Philadelphians are now asking if “superintendents — no matter how qualified — are predestined to fail.” Hornbeck came in with a 10-point blueprint for reform. He implemented performance measures (SAT-9), full-day kindergarten. When he tried to widely reassign staff at low-achieving schools, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers sued and won. Despite disagreements, progress was measurable. But he ran into a major problem: money to implement his plan. Philadelphia and the school district filed a federal lawsuit claiming the state's school-funding formula was “legally unjustifiable and racially discriminatory.” Hornbeck threatened to close schools early in 1999 for lack of funds, and the PA General Assembly responded by passing legislation to take over the district if he did so. The relationship between Hornbeck and Governor Ridge grew tense. To alleviate the budget crisis, Governor Ridge agreed to lend funds to the school district so it won't have to borrow. In exchange, Mayor Street agreed to drop the city's lawsuit for a year. Hornbeck resigned.

Philadelphia (and Portland, and other cities) show that the issues DC is trying to solve are not unique. Finance is a big issue. And officials and citizens screw up now and then — whether elected or appointed. But DC's political circumstances are unique. Because Congress and their agents have held or misinterpreted their exclusive power over the District for 200 years, they are chiefly responsible for delaying DC's ability to develop a functional local democracy. Local elites played a role, too, as history shows they have frequently been willing to minimize local self-government and put their faith in experts. DC citizens have done what they could within the situation they were placed -- having responsibilities without equal rights and resources. DC's elected school board has historic ties to DC's effort to attain self-government. The federal government took away DC's right to self-governance in 1871, and made it permanent between 1874-1973. Supposedly, they did so because of the large debt Presidential appointee Governor Alexander “Boss” Shepherd created in fixing DC's post-Civil War infrastructure. Everyone knew it was a race issue, and was till the end. DC paid off the debt in 1916. In 1918, a Citizens' Joint Committee for an Elective School Board was established. In 1968, DC was granted the right to the current elected school board — the first institution in which citizens had a formal vote since 1871. The new ward system established the infrastructure needed for elections. While some thought an elected school board campaign would divert DC from Home Rule, by 1973 Congress granted DC's current limited home rule charter. The thought of voting away what took so long to win is shocking to many. Today, DC is thinking about whether to vote “yes” or “no” to a proposed compromise between the Council and the Mayor in which the board would be somewhat smaller (this could help), a majority would remain elected (from 4 districts), and a minority would be appointed (opening the door to shared leadership of people unlikely to run in elections — and maybe more division). One reason many democracy advocates oppose this change is that the Control Board apparently foisted it on DC citizens from the top. I expect if DC had political equality, the discussion would be different. I'm not conceptually opposed to a mixed governing board. But I am still undecided. The main question I have for those who say I should vote “no,” and for elected school board members, is “What can the school board do differently so that the problems of the past three decades won't be repeated?” No answer is by default a “don't know,” and that worries me. I've listened to debates, read opinions, and I still don't know the answer. I'm torn on this one. Since Congress still holds power, it is doubtful that DC will regain their elected school board even if they vote “no.” I don't have children, but my tax dollars support the schools. I strongly support a PUBLIC school system in which all children, regardless of parents' incomes, have equal access to quality places of learning. I don't want to see this institution dismantled. DC needs to bring stability to its school governing system. Having two imposed appointed boards and an impotent elected one looks like a piecemeal management plan for a creating a disaster zone, not fixing one — and it isn't DC's fault when Congress makes it a national partisan tug-of-war zone. How either decision would help or hurt DC's goal to achieve true local self-government is another question. The fact that a majority elected/minority appointed board proposal would be revisited after four years adds a level of confidence to the proposal (assuming our Council will watch closely and evaluate seriously without getting too attached to admit if it has failed — performance measures and vigilant citizens would help). The incentive that the Mayor and the Council will have to try to make it work adds confidence. But will the new superintendent, the new school board, the appointed charter board, the Mayor, and the Council find innovative ways to work together — as a team — to involve parents in helping to define and answer the critical questions and priorities?

Right now, the words “democracy” and “responsibility” are as important as ever. (At least our vote will be counted.) But which plan is likely to rally the factions and interests and bring stability to a volatile situation? In this political environment, can either? Either way, the rainbow is not in sight.


Absentee Voting for Special Election
Denise Wiktor,

The Board of Elections and Ethics (727-2525) has two methods for absentee voting for the June special election. Monday through Saturday from 8:30-4:45 you can go in person and vote, or you can request an absentee ballot be sent to you. That request must be received at least seven days in advance of the election. The fax number is 347-2625. Due to the shortness of time before the election, they are recommending that you come in person.


Hardware Store in NW D.C.
Ed T. Barron,

An “individual who is distressed about losing tax revenue to surrounding areas and hates to drive so far to a hardware store” has placed an ad in this week's Northwest Current asking for responses to three questions, as follows: 1. “Do you prefer a hardware store or other type of retail at Hechinger's site?” 2. “How frequently do you go to Montgomery or PG counties or Northern, VA, to buy hardware items?” 3. “How important is historic preservation of the Hechinger's building if a hardware retailer wants to lease it?”

The author of this ad requests responses via e-mail to by 30 June. A very high response level to these questions might help persuade a good hardware operation to lease some or all of the space at the old Hechinger's.


District of Columbia Forecast
David Sobelsohn,

If you like retrocession, you'll love this: sends out daily weather forecasts to its subscribers. For forecasts of the weather in DC, the “subject” line reads: “zone Forecast for District of Columbia, MD.” Does Triumph PC know something we don't know? Here's an explanation from David Maggin of Triumph PC: “I apologize for the 'inaccuracy' of our zone forecast header info. However, this information comes from NOAA and we merely repackage it for our subscribers. And, for whatever it's worth, DC's not the only inaccuracy in their coding.”


Off the Record
Bryce Suderow,

I am responding to Eddie Becker's question asking whether anyone else has encountered examples of the police not wanting to take reports of crime. This happens a lot here on Capitol Hill. Nearly everyone I know has a horror story about this happening to them or somebody they know. I remember a guy telling a story at a public meeting about being robbed and assaulted in front of his house and the police didn't want to take a report. I've heard stories about cars being broken into where the cops didn't want to take a report. The same with home burglaries. Many of the officers do everything they can to persuade you not to file a report. They quite simply don't want to fill out the paperwork. Some of us feel that there is also pressure on the officers from their captains and commanders not to take reports to keep crime statistics down.

I've also heard stories about crime scenes where a house was broken into and the owner asked the cops to dust for fingerprints. The cops laughed at the notion! And when citizens ask the police what the chances are of catching the criminal who robbed them, stole their car or burgled their house, the cops tell them off the record that there's practically no chance at all.


Crime Down If It Is Not Reported
David Pansegrouw,

Mr. Becker cites a recent experience about the police being unwilling to file a report that rings familiar with me! About two years ago I was attacked and received cuts to the head that required eight or ten stitches. The police who came did not give me a report number when asked for one and told me that a detective would contact me. I still haven't heard from any detective. A sure way to make crime statistics go down is to not record it even though the crime has been reported.

I had a similar experience with a better conclusion with a stolen vehicle a few years ago. My mother's vehicle was stolen. Within a half hour of the theft we called to report it. The person on the phone said a detective would be come in a few hours and refused to take any info. After about a half hour of steaming I called the police back and insisted that a stolen vehicle report be taken over the phone. So happens that at about the same time the thieves were being pulled over in Arlington for a traffic violation. They found the registration and told the officer that the vehicle belonged to their aunt. The officer did a check on the registration and found nothing. Upon further questioning of the thieves, the officer found something else (I think an expired driver's license) that caused him to check the registration again, about 15/20 minutes after his first check. Lo and behold, it came up stolen! If I had not insisted on the stolen vehicle report being taken over the phone the two gentleman would never have been charged with auto theft (they were convicted too).


Police No-Shows
Terry Matchette,

The posting from Eddie Becker on the DC Police response to residential burglaries brought back very painful memories to me. Two years ago, while my family was on vacation at the Outer Banks, our home on Capitol Hill was systematically looted over a period of several days. The fella took everything — VCRs, computers, TVs, stereo, VHS tapes, microwave, my Eddie Bauer winter coat, my son's sword from ROTC at St. John's College High School, CDs, CD-ROMs, jewelry. Neighbors eventually noticed and called the cops who showed up with sirens blaring. The crook escaped to the alley empty-handed. The cops shoved our refrigerator against the back door and left a business card. They never showed up to take a report and never returned our calls. A few days later, one uniformed cop showed up and told us to check out the pawnshops on H Street if we wanted to recover anything. Our insurance agent finally told us to send the cops a list of what was lost by certified mail and that would qualify as a police report for the purpose of filing an insurance claim. Since that time, I've been skeptical about reports of lower crime in DC. Everything fellow correspondent Bruce Suderow has told us about the performance of the cops in Fifth District MPD is sadly true.

It wasn't always like this. When we moved to our house 25 years ago, a couple of kids broke into the house. A neighbor also called the police who quietly slipped into the alley and caught the kids red-handed with loot in hand. My husband later testified at a grand jury and these two got jail time for their break-in.


Death Penalty Non Sequitur
John Whiteside,

Ron Eberhardt asks, “How many grandmothers and children must be murdered in the District before its liberal population will arrive at the conclusion that the barbarians who commit these heinous crimes must meet the finality of the death penalty?” Well, if anyone could find an example of a place in the US where instituting the death penalty actually reduced crime, that might make a difference. But while some of our most dangerous cities are in states with the death penalty (think Texas, Louisiana) while safer cities are in states without one (think Massachusetts), we might as well ask how many people must die before we require murderers to wear ugly plaids in prison.


Crime and Punishment vs. Crime and Prevention
Wendy A F Green,

Ron Eberhardt wrote, “How many grandmothers and children must be murdered in the District before its liberal population will arrive at the conclusion that the barbarians who commit these heinous crimes must meet the finality of the death penalty?” My answer, “You're asking the wrong question.” Barbarism is not cured by further barbarism. Capital punishment does not cure any societal ills. It doesn't lower the murder rate. It doesn't reduce crime. From a policy perspective, it is never carried out in a just manner — the statistics showing the racial distribution of people on death row are frightening.

Even if we could guarantee that only people who were actually guilty of death penalty crimes were executed, it would not sway the convictions of the “liberal population” who refuse to become murderers themselves. Mr. Eberhardt also wrote, “I'm also wondering if there is merit for the Mayor and Council to jointly consider legislation that would differentiate the punishment for violent crimes committed in places where society rightly believes itself safe from violence?”

Again, the question misses the mark. Society should be safe from violence — not just at your church or your school or the zoo, but on your street corner, on your porch, in your back yard, walking at night. Cherry-picking certain locales as 'safe zones' will do nothing — if people don't respect the laws, increased punishments won't suddenly engender respect. Instead of focusing on ways to punish criminals, let us band together and focus on ways to keep our fellow citizens from turning to crime, and to honestly attempt to rehabilitate those who have committed crimes. Those people who can not or will not be rehabilitated should be kept apart from society, not slaughtered by society.


Parking Enforcement Harassment
Richard Urban,

I am having an interesting problem with parking enforcement. There is an alcove off the main ally behind my garage. It is shared by several neighbors. One neighbor claims that I am blocking entry to his rear gate when I pull my van up to my own garage. He has called the police, who told him that I am not blocking his gate (which I am not). He has also contacted parking enforcement.

I have so far received seven tickets. I challenged the first three tickets for “in alley” and “blocking driveway” and they were dismissed in the traffic court. Also, another vehicle in the same alcove that had been sitting there for months did not receive tickets. However, I continued to receive tickets. One morning, while loading my van, I went inside for literally one minute and found a ticket on the windshield when I came back out. The time written on the ticket was 30 minutes before the actual time. The parking enforcement person had been driving around, waiting for me to go inside so he could place a ticket on my vehicle. To me, this is harassment plain and simple. I wrote a letter to Gwen Mitchell, the director of Parking Enforcement, at the suggestion of the hearing examiner, and received a temporary reprieve. However, I received a call just Thursday from George Carr at Parking Enforcement telling me that they had determined that I am in the alley, and they will ticket and tow my van beginning Monday. I have two main issues here: 1) How can an individual (my neighbor who I have attempted to discuss the issue with) influence public personnel to harass someone (me). 2) How can Parking Enforcement determine that I am illegally parked, when the traffic court has determined that I am not? Don't Government agencies have to follow the rule of law as determined by a judge?

Any insight anyone has into these issues will be appreciated, and also any suggestions about seeking legal help.


Residential Parking Permit
Andrew Aurbach,

I remember the days before residential parking, when finding a parking spot remotely close to our Woodley Park home was a 50-50 proposition. When the then new policy was instituted, it was for limited hours, and only Monday through Friday. Of course, living in Woodley Park, Zoo parking was the biggest issue, and the Metro had barely opened. Needless to say, parking was eased during the week, but the weekends were a difficult as ever.

I too will probably get criticized for this, but I would argue that the residential parking program should be expanded to more closely mirror other cities which have “tighter zones.” For example, why should Georgetown residents be able to park in Dupont Circle for the day? Why should Woodley Park residents be able to park in Friendship Heights all day? I submit that the zones should be tightened to more closely reflect the proximity of car to neighborhood. Until this happens, intra-city commuter parking will continue to occur. As it is now, it is still somewhat difficult to get a parking place close to business and residences clustered in high density areas such as Georgetown, Dupont, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, etc., for the residents who live in those areas. Look at the failed proposals by Georgetown residents for permanent "residents only" parking on their streets!


Residential Parking
David Pansegrouw,

There are a few comments about residential parking permits that fail to make sense to me. If the purpose of the permit is to make parking on one's own block available to residents of that block, why is the permit for a zone that is fairly wide geographically? Why is the permit not good for only your own block? Why is it OK for permit holders to park in other areas of their zone, but residents of the zone who are kept from having a permit are not?

In the area that I live in, the southeastern corner of Columbia Heights (the corner stone of the local church at the corner of Fairmont and 13th Streets NW calls it Columbia Plain) the fallacy of the policy that limits parking permit holders to residents of blocks with parking restrictions is obvious. Residents of 13th Street are not allowed parking permits, but the parking allocated to them is controlled by rush hour restrictions, so forget parking for the day. To park on Euclid or Fairmont requires a permit. As there are a few large apartment buildings on 13th, residents of 13th are forced to park on side streets if they do not want to move their vehicles by 7:00 am. On my block (permits required) daytime parking is easy but evening/night parking is not, as the block has many cars parked on it that belong to residents of 13th Street. There is no way that one side of 13th can accommodate all the people who live there that leave for work after 7:00 am when rush hour restrictions start. This policy creates second class citizens in DC regarding parking. Some people can park up to three days in their neighborhood without moving their vehicles, while others have to move up to twice a day. Parking permits should be available to all residents of a zone.


Dr. Gridlock Maligning Civic Associations
Isabel M. Furlong, President, Cleveland Park Citizens Association,

Dear Dr. Gridlock: I must make a strenuous objection to an assertion in your column of June 15, 2000 on the Klingle Road issue in which you state: “I have come to learn that people who purport to represent civic associations and other groups sometimes speak only for themselves.” Cleveland Park Citizens Association held an open, public meeting on December 4, 1999 to discuss the issue of the future of Klingle Road. The meeting and the topic were publicized in the Northwest Current, by mailed notice to the entire membership, and by hundreds of flyers posted throughout the Association's area of membership. The meeting, held on a Saturday morning at the Cleveland Park Library, was attended by hundreds of interested citizens. There was lengthy, spirited discussion of both sides of the issue. Representatives of DC Department of Public Works attended and spoke. And a vote was taken. By a two/thirds majority the membership voted that Klingle Road should remain closed to automobile traffic and open to all who wish to use it as a park and recreation area.

Your insinuation that this civic association (there is only one Cleveland Park Citizens Association) is not open and fair is intolerable, unfair, and untrue. Members of Cleveland Park Citizens work tirelessly for the good of the community. We demand an apology for this slighting remark which reflects on those who selflessly donate hours of public service.


Knitting Volunteers
Tom Berry,

Peg Blechman says she volunteers at Bancroft Elementary to teach knitting instruction. And she asks for help in how to hire a teacher trained in the Waldorf methodology for the next school year. This reminds me of a late dear old friend, Kathleen, who was in her 80s and drove several times a week from her home in Tacoma, WA, across the Narrows Bridge to Peninsula High School to teach knitting to boys (yes, boys). Kathleen was one of several volunteers who taught special classes at Peninsula. She had a captivating personality and, by and large, was quite successful with these teenagers.

Now, I don't know the Waldorf method from the old “knit one, purl two” that my Mother used to chant, but there does seem to be a difference in instructional approach between the left coast and the right coast. The right coast likes to hire someone to do things for us. The left coast finds a host of true (read unpaid) volunteers and plods on with its work. My suggestion to Ms. Belchman is to mine the immediate community for retirees and others who would like to do something useful for these children and simultaneously keep a dying art form alive. My guess is that the kids would feel better learning from an “old-timer” and the volunteer would get a big kick out of being a teacher for a few hours each week. There are more Peg Blechmans out there; they just need to be found. Good luck.


DC Folklife Festival
Tracy Hadden,

I'm flying back from Providence to go to two days of the festival. I can't wait to see DC celebrated instead of neglected. None of my friends at school except the ones from Maryland and Virginia who went to school in DC knew anything about DC's situation. The three points I always emphasize to them: 1) DC residents are U.S. citizens denied their Constitutional right to representation in Congress because of a technicality involving interpretations on what the founding fathers meant by “state.” This lack of representation has a huge impact on the minds, hearts, and lives of DC residents. 2) DC officials are never truly accountable for whatever problems the city has, because Congress is the one with total final authority. 3) There is much more to DC than the federal presence; DC is a rich and unique city to rival any other in the world.

The folk festival is going to have a lot of neat events, including the talks by Mark Richards and Co. Personally, I'll be at the go-go event. 'Bout time DC was recognized as the birthplace and hometown of such fine jams! Nothin' like a go-go on the Mall at 2 in the afternoon to crack me up.


DC Wildlife Festival
Ed T. Barron,

Early last Monday I encountered a medium sized raccoon standing on the corner watching all the cars go by. He was at the corner of Windom and 46th Street, NW (apparently not waiting for the bus, which is on Yuma, one block away). He did not run or hide but mere hunkered down a bit as I passed at a distance of about ten feet (giving the critter a wide berth). They must be getting a free lunch in the alleys of AU park or from the dumpsters behind Super Fresh, et al, of the Spring Valley Shopping Center or the Sutton Place/Chicken Out stores on the West side of Massachusetts Avenue. I strongly suggest giving these wild critters a wide berth, because they do bite and can be a carrier of rabies.


Stein Club Makes Endorsements
Kurt Vorndran,

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsed Ward 8 Councilmember Sandy Allen for re election Monday night. Allen chairs the DC Council's Committee on Human Services which has jurisdiction over much of DC's AIDS and HIV related programs. In that capacity, she recently chaired a hearing on Bill 13-266, the Needlestick Prevention Act, at the request of the Stein Democratic Club and others. The Stein Club has asked the Committee to report out the bill. Also receiving Stein Democratic Club support was Ray Browne, a candidate for the Statehood “Shadow” Representative seat. Incumbent Statehood Representative Tom Bryant has not filed to run for re-election. Stein President Kurt Vorndran stated, “I have had the pleasure of working with Ray Browne for many years. He will be a strong advocate for our community the principles of the Stein organization.”

The Stein Democrats took no position on the upcoming referendum to restructure the DC Board of Education. Club Members participated in a far ranging discussion that included presentations for a YES vote by DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson and Mayoral Aide Carlene Cheatham. Speaking for a NO vote were DC PTA Legislative Chair Larry Gray and Democratic Alternate National Committeeman Phil Pannell. All four speakers are Stein Club members. At its July 10th meeting, the Stein Democrats will vote on endorsements for the DC Council seats in Wards 2, 4 and the At-Large seat. The Club had previously endorsed Al Gore for President and Eleanor Holmes Norton for Delegate to Congress. The Stein Democratic Club is DC's largest local gay/lesbian political organization and is an affiliate of the National Stonewall Democratic Federation. For more information, visit or call Kurt at 667-0105.



Forum on School Board Referendum
Anne Loikow,

A public forum will be held on Tuesday, June 20, from 4 - 5:30 pm at the Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (Albemarle Street/Tenleytown Metro). Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Councilmember, “Pro,” and Larry Gray, Legislative Chair, DC Congress of PTAs, “Con.” Co-sponsored by ANCs 3C, 3E, 3F, 3G; Hearst PTA; Murch Home & School Association; Stoddert PTA; Iona Senior Services; Chevy Chase Citizens Association; Cleveland Park Citizens Association; Forest Hills Citizens Association; Friendship-Tenleytown Citizens Association; Ward 3 Democratic Committee. For information, contact David J. Bardin (857-6089) or Jamie Butler (364-1989).


Mark Mathabane to Discuss His New Book
Patricia Pasqual,

Author Mark Mathabane will make one of his first appearances in the Washington Metropolitan area to read and discuss his new book, Miriam’s Song: A Memoir, as the culminating speaker at the DC Center for the Book's Spring Author Series. Vertigo Books is sponsoring the series that is free and open to the public. Simon & Schuster has scheduled Miriam’s Song for release in June 2000. The program will held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 21, 2000, at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, 901 G Street, N.W.

Miriam’s Song is a powerful memoir of a young black woman coming of age in South Africa amid the violence of apartheid. Mark Mathabane writes based on stories his sister Miriam told him, and recreates her experience of growing up in South Africa. He is also the best selling author of Kaffir Boy, his own story of growing up in apartheid South Africa. The program will last about forty minutes with the author introducing his work, reading selections from his work and answering questions from the audience. Books will be available for purchase and signing after the program. 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. For more information, call 727-1186.


D.C. to Denver 2000 Freedom Ride
Mike Livingston,

School board member Gail Dixon and her fellow delegates to the Green Party presidential convention in Denver will be joined by some two dozen progressive activists from the District, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee on a 1,600-mile social justice outreach tour next week. The D.C. to Denver 2000 Freedom Ride, “uniting communities for economic, environmental and social justice,” will take the struggle for D.C. statehood on the road, meeting with activists in Pittsburgh, East Liverpool, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Leavenworth, Topeka, and Denver. Highlighting the unfinished business of the civil rights movement, we as citizens of the Last Plantation will show our solidarity with the victims of environmental justice in East Liverpool, unions on strike in Columbus, families of the victims of radiation experiments in Cincinnati, Leonard Peltier in Leavenworth, and fellow Greens and democracy activists in every major city between here and the Green convention.

The convention is June 23-25, and most of it will be carried live on C-SPAN, including Gail Dixon's speech at 12:55 p.m. EDT June 25. The 2000 Freedom Ride leaves Monday morning, June 19, from a rally at the Frederick Douglass Home in Anacostia, 8-9 a.m. (The Ride will leave the Frederick Douglass site just before the Juneteenth march to the Capitol leaves there, and Juneteenth organizer Ayo Handy Kendi — a veteran of the original Freedom Rides — will dedicate and bless the Ride.) Other speakers at the rally include Statehood Green candidates Tracey Joyner (for Council, Ward 8), Arturo Griffiths (for Council, at large) and Martin Thomas (for shadow U.S. Representative). The rally will be covered by CNN for a segment about the Freedom Ride that will air next weekend as part of the network's convention coverage. Please join us!

The Frederick Douglass Home is at 15th & W Streets SE, off Good Hope Road. (And donations to the Freedom Ride fund are still needed and appreciated, payable to the D.C. Statehood Green Party with "Freedom Ride" on the memo line, c/o Phil Barlow, Treasurer, 1852 Columbia Road NW 20009.) For more information, call 270-3379.



Hotpoint Stove
Phyllis E. Hughes,

Brand new white Hotpoint gas stove with automatic ignition is twenty inches wide. This stove is excellent for the kitchen of an efficiency or junior bedroom apartment, a basement unit, or getaway property. Hardly used over two months' ownership. Must sell to replace with larger one. Paid $350.00. Asking price $300 or best offer.


Tim Cooper,

Beautiful 1965 190 c Mercedes Benz, 4-door, gray-white, with red interior, and in excellent condition. Custom wood paneling and black carpet; fully restored in 1986. A jewel of an antique automobile. Must see. $5000 or best offer. Call Tim Cooper at 244-9479, or E-mail me at



Local Job Training/Placement Groups
Martha Ross,

I'm going to have the opportunity next fall to rotate out of my current position with the feds into a local organization for six months. (Right now I'm at the Department of Health and Human Services, in a research office — we're sponsoring research on the effects of welfare reform.) I'd like to work for an organization doing job training/placement (and probably offering other supportive services) for low-income families. I know of a few groups in town, but I'm not real familiar with the local scene. Does anyone have any recommendations? You can respond to me privately at


Real Estate Lawyer
Ann Bond,

I need to talk to a lawyer specializing in DC real property about a contract breach. Does anybody know of a good one? Please E-mail me:; or call Ann at 202-544-7272.


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