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June 21, 2000

That’s Not Philosophy

Dear Philosophers:

I spent a couple hours this afternoon with a delegation of government officials from Pretoria, South Africa, who were investigating the use of the Internet for distributing government information. Among other things, I showed them the DCWatch web site, themail's archives, and some of the official DC government web sites. They reacted with the same mixture of anticipation and anxiety that I'm sure officials everywhere have when yet another technology comes along that democratizes the spread of information. How wonderful, they think, that the government can reach the people so easily and inexpensively. And how terrifying it is to realize that any irresponsible fool with a computer can spread information among the people as easily as the government.

It reminded me of an actual conversation I overheard between a passing couple on my own block last week. Word for word, this is what I heard. She: “Well, anyway, that's my philosophy.” He: “That's not philosophy, that's just your crazy way of thinking."

Gary Imhoff


No on Referendum
Anne Anderson,

This letter was sent to the Washington Post, and several critical parts were not published: I urge my fellow citizens to consider my reasons for a “no” vote before they take their frustrations with our public school system out on our elected School Board. The recent problems are not their responsibility since they had most of their powers stripped the day after the new group was elected. 1) If we want to increase the investment and connection of families to their local schools — a factor that is regularly cited as critical to good schools — this referendum won't do it. In fact, the hybrid board would provide less representation for parents and children in policy setting for our schools. The majority of children attending D.C. public schools live east of the river and would end up being represented by only one elected school board member, thereby skewing the power imbalances in this city even further than they are now. And did you know that members of our current elected School Board, between February and April, met in each ward with groups of students, teachers, principals, school officers, and community members? Under the new system, one person would now have to represent two wards — do double duty. It's unworkable and unfair.

2) There has been much emphasis on the idea that the four people appointed by the Mayor would provide expertise that elected board members didn't have. This idea makes me wonder if the Council would like to consider the same remedy for themselves — but I think not. And I would not want to be deprived of my representation on the D.C. Council, any more than I am willing to be deprived of representation on the School Board. If an eleven-member elected School Board needs expertise, then provide them with a central staff that can bring the appropriate expertise needed for the whole Board. As for the idea that the Mayor needs his own people on the Board of Education in order to be able to cooperate with the School Board — I can only hope that the Mayor we elected, and future D.C. mayors, would have more political will and expertise than this idea implies. Under the hybrid board, we also open ourselves up again to increased possibilities of cronyism. Let's not put so many eggs in one person's basket. Let's let them know what we want from them. In case it is not clear to both the Mayor and the elected School Board, let me say it loud and clear: Cooperate to improve our schools, or I will work to vote you out — every one of you.

3) Finally, much is made of the idea that there is confusion about what the School Board is supposed to do. This is actually pretty clear. See the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations for the School Board's “Official Responsibilities.” The really confusing elements are all the layers we are dealing with now. So, let's look at who is responsible for recent problems: Schools opened late — General Becton, appointed, and responsible to Trustees appointed by the Control Board. Procurement and teacher pay problems — procurement office appointed by and answering to the Mayor. A Charter School operates all year with no books — their charter approved and overseen by the Charter School Board, appointed by the Control Board. And what has the elected School Board accomplished? Among other things, a transition plan completed and filed on time; a Master Facilities plan completed and filed on time, with citizen cooperation and input; eight public hearings between November 8 and December 20, 1999, on issues of concern to parents; ward meetings, and many other activities aimed at maintaining contact and appropriate representation of D.C. citizen's concerns.

The elected School Board's record isn't perfect, but I'll take the messy, wonderfully human democracy over the supposedly efficient, expert, technocracy every time. Please vote “no” with me on June 27th. Let's work together to make it more possible for healthy self governance to take root in Washington, DC.


Special Election
Ralph Blessing,

All of the comments about Mayor Williams's' inappropriate/illegal actions in support of the school board referendum are well taken, but do the same restrictions not apply to members of the elected Board of Education? Ward Four residents were recently sent a letter on Board of Education stationery from Dwight Singleton, their representative on the Board, urging a No vote on the referendum. Is this going on in other parts of the city as well?

[Elected officials — the Mayor, City Council members, and School Board members, can campaign personally in an election, and can identify themselves by their titles. However, if this letter were reproduced or mailed at public expense, it indeed would be a violation of campaign regulations. If the letter doesn't have a “Paid for by. . . ” tag line, it's a question worth asking. — Gary Imhoff]


Questions on the Upcoming Referendum, Schools in General
Jane M. Trimble,

themail has helped to keep us much better informed about the upcoming referendum on the schools that I suspect many of us would otherwise be. That said, let me add that despite my dismay with the mayor's shenanigans, I feel differently about the whole issue. May I express some of my internal debate to you? We need to find a way to minimize political jockeying and parochialism on the school board and to maximize concern with oversight (not micromanagement), prudent use of funds, and the rest of the good government and good schools virtues. I think that if an elected member represents two wards the effect may well be to cause the members to broaden focus. Greater responsibility, and a larger profile, may also serve to make the position more attractive than it is now to candidates with political aspirations; though I suppose that could work both ways, but it's a sobering thought. The other side of that argument, as I have heard it, is that in a city with limited options either to run for public office or to vote for officials, the school board is an important outlet as well as a training ground. The city council is not, according to that line of thinking, a good place to begin one's political and administrative training.

One one hand, I suppose that, like people in every other jurisdiction, we are asking the Caesar's wife syndrome of school board members. What are realistic expectations in schools management of part-time people? What manner of ongoing schools page coverage should we expect from the newspapers? Before I vote, I need to know if there will be an automatic (not subject to anyone's decision to defer or cancel) second referendum in five years to decide whether or not to continue the 5-4 arrangement, if the first referendum passes. Also, does the mayor appoint the four, or nominate them and and send their names to the council for a yea/nay vote as is done on the federal level with judges? If the latter, how can the four be held accountable? What is their term? Can they be fired by the council or mayor if they vote independently of the elected officials? If so, what's the point in their serving on the board and learning for themselves? Will they be full-time to the elected officials' part-time? What will be their salaries (including benefits)? Why would we need a separate Education Department, and what would be its relationship with the present one?

Speaking for myself, I help to support the schools with our taxes, I am myself a graduate of American public schools — with teaching relatives and friends — and I know that today's graduates from these or any other schools will be tomorrow's workers and leaders. So of course I care about the schools and the education the children receive. But I have no children. If the schools around me hold open houses and minerals days for the neighborhood, I am not aware of them. And I find no schools page in my daily newspaper; I hear no regular schools reports on radio and television. Major snafus, which are reported, are alarming but constitute a small part of the life of any school. I need to know such things as these: What texts are considered in the textbook selections and how are they chosen? What are the qualifications of the teachers? What is a student expected to learn at each level? What do students read? What are high school required subjects? How many of the older students have after school and weekend jobs? How often are the teachers allowed/required/paid to attend seminars, update certification, obtain additional training in their areas of specialty, and so on? What is the median age of the teachers in various schools (i.e., how much retirement turnover can we expect in the next few years, and will the new teachers be willing to work in the conditions the retiring ones have put up with)? Where do the teachers come from? The same for the administrators. What steps are being taken to disconnect administrators (i.e., central office staff) from working teachers in matters of layoffs and the like? What is the degree of computerization in the administration? How efficient is it, and what is being done internally to rectify errors? If part of the problem of overstaffing in the administration has to do with older teachers being “kicked upstairs” to await their pensions, would it be sensible to offer them early outs? Or is that whole overstaffing-by-obsolescent-teachers scenario more legend than fact? What is a child's average commute time, and how safe is it, per day? What sorts of field trips, enrichment materials, and the like do the children have? What groups work with the various schools, and what do they do? What percentage of the city's workforce is employed by the schools (crossing guards, janitors, cooks, bus drivers, security guards, aides, teachers, administrators, secretarial help, health workers, and so on)? Are pay, training, and qualifications sufficient? What is the quality, and level of objectivity, of the human resources and academic and vocational advisory, staffs? Before I can cast an intelligent vote, I need to know if there is a policy of checking the competition — the private and suburban schools — as well as the colleges, universities, specialized education or training, and various employers in all positions from trucking industry through State Department and physics labs, to learn what other schools are doing and what they expect of their students, and what future employers require.

The list goes on: How much effort do the schools make to provide appropriate education for students who plan to drop out at 16, or not continue their education after high school graduation, because of pressures or need or desire to begin to earn a paycheck? How many schools make it possible for students to carry regular academic loads for half a day and learn computer programming, landscaping or lab assistant work (if it exists at that level), or other direct skills that will lead to a paycheck at a level that will enable them to pay for additional education later? How much opportunity is there for students to attend school part time and work part time? What about dropouts who want to return, and immigrants who need education to give them opportunities to move up? Are their basic orientation to American culture classes spread around the city? What kind of outreach is there to children in half-way houses? I need to know all these things to make an informed decision June 27.

[Most of Ms. Trimble's questions about the School Charter Amendment itself have not been answered by its proponents; the one question with a clear answer is that if the Amendment passes, after four years the size, shape, composition, and powers of the school board will be determined solely by City Council legislation that will not be submitted to the voters. — Gary Imhoff]


School Board Pay
David Meadows, Eastern Market,

In my last statement, regarding the salary level of the hybrid school board, I stated that I thought that the elected members would be paid less then the well qualified appointed ones. I do not believe that an elected member would be any less qualified or an appointed member would be more qualified. I think this is a serious issue about the pay scale of the board. I think that all members should be paid the same amount, and that they should receive more pay than the current board. I'm just worried that these “high profiled glossy” appointed members will be sold to the city at higher rates.


What Arrogance
Ed T. Barron,

If anyone needed a good example of the arrogance of our departing DCPS Superintendent, they need only to read in Tuesday's Post about the way Ms. Ackerman denied the U.S Chess Association the opportunity to institute a very successful educational program in the District's schools (at no cost to the DCPS or the District). The educational program which brings computers and strategy training to the schools has been proven to raise the scores of students on standardized tests by getting the students to think, and to think creatively. Ms. Ackerman deliberately denied the Chess Association the opportunity to institute their program in our schools. Why? Because she is incredibly arrogant. Just ask those who are now working for her or have worked for her in the past. We are well rid of this person.


Knit One, Purl Two
Peg Blechman,

In response to the comments about knitting at Bancroft Elementary — thank you. My Mother, my Aunt, and my Uncle went to Bancroft when they were growing up on Kenyon Street, so it's very dear to me — plus the kids and teachers and principal are fantastic! I also wanted to clarify a few points. I tried to get retired volunteers — for example, we advertised in the volunteer section of the Washington Post and I contacted Iona House. But we only got one volunteer. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

The only reason that we wrote a grant for a Waldorf trained teacher was that she knows how to teach a whole class (boys and girls) at a time and has a formal curriculum for projects that age group appropriate. So instead of a few of us working with one kid at a time, the whole class has learned how to knit in five months and has projects to show for it as well as needles and yarn to work with over the summer. If you or any of your friends knit or you want to learn how, please contact me — we'd love to have you in our Bancroft group. Also, there's a group of knitters that meet at Borders Books at Friendship Heights in the cafe upstairs the third Saturday of the month from 4:30 - 7 p.m. All knitters are welcome.


Plus Ca Change, Plus C’est la Meme Chose
Steph “If you don't count it, it didn't happen” Faul,

Having D.C. police lower the crime rate by miscounting is nothing new. In 1971, when I was fresh out of college, my apartment near Dupont Circle was burglarized; the thieves stole a sapphire ring, a stereo system, and a variety of other small but reasonably valuable items. My roommate's parents had insurance that covered the loss, so we asked for a police report. This listed the missing items as being worth $49 — a dollar less than the cutoff line between petit and grand larceny. Needless to say the insurance company objected. Fortunately, a few weeks later the Washington Star ran an expose about how the police were routinely under-estimating burglaries to artificially lower the crime rate. We sent the insurance company the article and they paid up.


Getting Deeper in the Hole
Ed T. Barron,

According to last Friday's edition of the City Paper, the new downtown Convention Center (which is only about ten percent complete) is already 15 percent over cost budget. Is it possible that a sink hole opened up and swallowed two hundred pieces of the worlds most expensive construction equipment during the big dig, costing us over $100M? Huge cost overruns were predicted by Councilpersons Catania and Ambrose in '98. Perhaps they know something about D.C.'s procurement system, which is allowing a $650M project to balloon to a $1B project. This leads to the real questions that need answers. Who is writing the contracts for major projects in the District? Do they have any clue as to how to write good contracts? How can you write a major contract that allows the District's taxpayers and businesses to be liable for major cost overruns? As a result of these poor procurement practices, the District is rapidly on its way to becoming the highest taxed municipality in the U.S.

When I was Director of Commercial Sales and Marketing for a major aerospace corporation, we signed most of our contracts on a “Fixed Price” basis. That meant if our products did not meet spec, were late, or cost more to produce, then we ate the extra cost. On the other hand, if we delivered our products ahead of schedule, they performed better than spec, or we saved money by being more efficient, then we got incentive payments that either added to our profit, or were shared with those who made the good things happen. Something is seriously amiss in the District's procurement world, and I have two messages for Mayor Williams: 1. Get someone in the Contracts office who can write a decent contract that protects the District from sandbagging contractors. 2. Don't spend that tobacco settlement money, Tony. There's a big hole to fill and it's getting deeper every day.


Statehood Party
Thomas Smith,

This is in response to the 100 percent accurate analysis by Madeline Lane of the continuing attempt to eliminate the people's voice in this city. Yes, Madeline, most of our elected officials are co-opted, anti-democratic, and being played for the fools that they are by the power interests in this city (Federal City Council, etc.), and you have presented a most powerful argument in this case for throwing out the “baby and the bath water.” The residents of this colony need a new paradigm that is not in the pocket of corporate wealth or in thrall to ruling class political aspirations. The D.C. STATEHOOD GREEN PARTY has been that new paradigm for more than twenty years, and we will continue to be so. The increasing weight of events and logic makes the Statehood Green Party the clear choice, sooner or later.


Klingle Road: Not a Neighborhoods Issue
John C. Campbell,

There must be those who would like to see this as a NIMBY question, of an issue between neighborhoods — those who live above Klingle Road and those who live below it or across Rock Creek Park in, say, Mount Pleasant or Adams Morgan. The fact is that people from all neighborhoods on both sides of the closed area testified at the recent public hearing — and have signed petitions — in favor of keeping the road closed and enhancing Klingle Park. The closed road does not go through any neighborhood. This is not a neighborhoods issue; it is a park issue. The appropriate question for this part of the District is simple: do we want five roads and one park or six roads and no park?

Several families live on Klingle Ridge, a hill overlooking Rock Creek Park and at the immediate bottom of the closed portion of Klingle; my wife Julie and I live in the first house after you pass the concrete barrier at the lower end of Klingle Valley. Because of the way Julie and I spend our days and many evenings it would be more convenient for us to have this part of Klingle open. It wouldn't be worth it; we all know that the advantages are far outweighed by the benefits of a secure, closed, green Klingle Park, part of Rock Creek Park. The biggest benefit of all is that Klingle Park will be a joy available for all DC residents, plus the millions who live in the metro area — not just a convenience for motorists.

Does anyone think, if there had been no Klingle Road over the 7/10ths' mile closed section during previous centuries, that any DC residents, let alone any city planners or the Department of Public Works or Council members, would now suggest such a route be built? Expensive, dangerous, environmentally abusive, a speedway with three hairpin turns and a vertical drop of 188 feet, through a forested and uninhabited area? Of course not. There is no doubt what will happen soon on this stretch of land if it is not preserved: it will be sold in pieces and developed. Traffic and its consequences will be worse. And the rare opportunity to preserve a great green space in the heart of this wonderful city, to be enjoyed by all its citizens, will be gone forever.


NVA Should Vote Moran Out!
Brian Reeves,

I do not use the word “outraged” often. But I truly was outraged by the comments of Representative James Moran of Virginia today (6/19) on NPR's “Morning Edition” regarding the proposal to change “Celebrate and Discover” to “Taxation Without Representation” on DC license plates. As a former Alexandria resident (now a DC resident) and lifelong Democrat, I have voted for Mr. Moran in the past. But I would not do so again if I had the chance. And I encourage any of you subscribers to themail that live in his district to vote against him. Even if it means voting REPUBLICAN!

For those of you that missed it, he called this idea in front of the City Council “whining.” The residents of this city have tried just about every possible option available to them to correct this injustice ranging from civil disobedience to lawsuits. I called his office this morning to express my opinion of his comments and to tell him that I am asking all of my friends that live in NVA not to vote for him in November's election. I encourage you to do the same (225-4376). In my opinion, he made totally irresponsible and undemocratic (small “d”) comments. It is especially a shame that he chose to make them in front of a national audience.


Wrong E-Mail Address Given in Hechinger Store Survey
Kathy Smith,

The E-mail address for the Hechinger survey is incorrect in themail. Some guy in Atlanta is getting flooded with survey replies on this. The correct address is You might want to run a quick correction to head off more going to him. I made the same mistake in my newsletter and he was kind enough to contact me. That's how I know.


Death Penalty II
Ron Eberhardt,

I wrote two issues ago asking the rhetorical question, how many more senseless murders must occur in the District before its liberal thinking population rethinks the death penalty? As expected, two writers responded espousing the same tired thoughts including no proof of reduction in crime, and that we ought to get at the root of these problems — in other words NO real solutions, lets keep the status quo — mayhem. I am prompted to revisit this subject as I read with disgust the tragic news of the cold blooded, cowardly and senseless murder of a 28 year old CIA analyst — apparently shot dead on the sidewalk within feet of his home. Add to that the news that those responsible for the death of the 76-year old grandmother have a long, long history of violent crime, perhaps including the murder of a minister. So, instead of debating the value of the death penalty, then lets just say that some of us believe that if you callously take the life of another person that you lose your life. It makes some of us feel better, ok? At minimum it reduces the amount of tax money spent to re-catch, prosecute and jail these barbarians. And, if the death penalty indeed does have the effect of making these scum, masquerading as human persons, think twice about killing someone — then all the better. Enough is enough!


AFI and the KenCen
David Sobelsohn,

I have the following information from an “informed source” who prefers to remain nameless. The Kennedy Center has told the AFI that AFI can screen films twice in the first half of 2001, in two blocks of three weeks each. Also that AFI will have the theater for “most” of the second half of 2001, so that the number of AFI screen dates in 2001 will equal the number in 2000. I myself think whether one believes that second promise depends on how much one expects the Kennedy Center to squeeze the Woolly Mammoth Theater (which moves into the AFI space in January 2001) during the second half of 2001. The Woolly itself refers to the AFI Theater as “the perfect transitional space as we prepare for the move to our new permanent home at 7th and D Streets, NW in 2003.” Perhaps Woolly expects to have a pared-down schedule for fall 2001. My source also claims that the AFI “has always been slated” to screen films at the Kennedy Center regardless of the opening of the AFI theater in Silver Spring. But would the Kennedy Center make the Woolly Mammoth Theater homeless so the AFI can have two theater spaces? The current Source Theater cohabitation with the Washington Stage Guild proves cohabitation is possible. But at Source, it's required the WSG to cut back its programming and move to off-nights. Finally my “informed source” insists that the AFI has never been behind in rent payments to the Kennedy Center because the Kennedy Center has never required that the AFI pay rent. Of course, if the AFI doesn't pay rent, the Kennedy Center probably has no legal obligation to the AFI, and could send AFI packing whenever the KenCen wants. My recommendation: enjoy it while it lasts, folks.


Politically Incorrect Sign
Richard Urban,

Here is an example of city authorities being mobilized to persecute politically incorrect folks. A professionally built sign advertising the name and sermon information for the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church at 13th and North Carolina Avenues, NE, received a permit from the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, but apparently not approval from the Historic Preservation Review board, according to an article in the June 16 Voice of the Hill. Some neighbors apparently complained about the sign. Then the sermon topic for June 4 was advertised “Was it Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve?” According to the article, a gay neighbor complained to the pastor that he did not like the message and “tried to explain that there's people who take statements like that as hate messages.” The pastor said he'd pray for that person, and when pressed about it, said, according to the article "If you don't like it, move." All Councilmembers, the Mayor, the Washington Blade newspaper, and The Human Rights Commission were all lobbied. The article continues, “On Thursday, June 1, Pastor Lewis received a phone call from the DCRA saying the sign was 'unsafe' and must be removed within two hours, or it would be taken down for him. 'Not that I made any attempt to remove it', says the pastor. 'It was outrageous.' Two hours later the crane and truck arrived and Lewis had his deacon call the police. 'The individuals from the DCRA had no identification, and no permit,' he says.”

This is an outrageous interference of government into freedom of speech and religion. It again indicates how individuals with an ax to grind or an agenda can influence city agencies to make life miserable for those supposedly offending the other parties (see my previous post about parking enforcement). Imagine the reverse, if someone was speaking on gay “marriages,” and then Churches or families mobilized to have the sign removed. I do not think this would be tolerated for a minute, because it is not politically correct in our city. The weight of government interference must not be brought against individuals or groups based on dubious politically correct or personal agendas. Rather, the rule of law and due process must be followed.



Children’s Storyteller
Martha Saccocio,

Charlie “The Noise Guy” Williams, a sound effects children's storyteller will perform at the Tenley-Friendship Branch of the DC Public Library on Friday June 30 at 11:00 am. The library is located at Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street, across from the Tenley-AU Metro (on the red line). This free event is sponsored by the Friends of the Tenley Library. All ages are welcome. No reservations needed. For more info call 282-3090.


Community Meeting Announcement
Wanda C. Stevens-Harris, ANC 6A-09,

The Near Northeast Community is having its monthly meeting on Thursday, June 22, 2000. The meeting is scheduled to be held at the Holy Name Church — 920 11th Street, N.E. The meeting will promptly begin at 7:00 pm. Our special guests are Erik Christian, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety; Norman Dong, City Administrator; Lloyd Jordan, Director, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; Vanessa Burns, Director, Department of Public Works. As the City transforms into the revitalized communities that this Administration has promised, there are some issues that we as a community would like to address. We are requesting that staff from the Environmental Services, Department of Public Works, and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs attend as well. The meeting will be at Holy Name Church, 920 11th Street, NE, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact Wanda C. Harris via E-mail,



Apartment Sale
Frederick N. Bohrer,

After eleven years of acquisition, I'm moving and have much to sell at bargain prices. Hardwood (and not so hardwood) bookshelves, a sleep-sofa with queen size futon, and much more, including men's clothing, loads of books, vintage bakelite jewelry (my partner's specialty), and lots more. Contact me about these, or come to the apartment sale, this Sunday 11 to 3, at 5435 Connecticut Avenue, #31., 364-4926.


Fun Yard Sale
Stacie Spector,

Sunday, June 25th, 9 am - 2 pm, 1730 Hobart Street, NW, Mt. Pleasant. Several neighbors contributing to yard sale: furniture, crafts, clothes, household items, prints, organizing items, and much more!



Bilingual Legal Secretary Wanted
Jon Katz,

Silver Spring (downtown) trial law firm has immediate opening for an experienced fully bilingual (Spanish-English) legal secretary. Exciting work for trials, pre-litigation and immigration. Includes extensive client contact and training for advancement. Particularly good pay and benefits package for more experienced person. Please fax resume to Jon Katz, (301) 495-8815. For more information, visit us at


Poster for the Vote No Campaign
Martin Thomas,

Help fight for democracy in DC! Join volunteers from the Thomas for Shadow Rep campaign and others for an evening of hanging Vote No posters for the June 27 school board referendum. We'll meet at my house (1640 Hobart St. NW in Mt. Pleasant) at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, and cover Mt. Pleasant, 16th St., and Adams Morgan areas then return to my house for refreshments. The vote is only a week away and we're up against a rich (and illegally funded) corporate campaign. Hitting the streets is the only way we can win. Please come out if you can. Call 332-6558 h or 244-0951 w or E-mail for directions. Bring extra tape and staplers if possible. Check out the Common Denominator for more info on the referendum at


Send Money
Philip Blair, jr., 526-8821, 1518 Kearney St., NE, Brookland, DC 20017,

I know it is hard to ask people to contribute the the Just Vote No! Campaign: after all, you have already given on Tax Day. All of us Washingtonians are paying taxes that the Mayor is using to campaign for the Control Board's referendum to hybridize the Board of Education. However, the Just Vote No! Campaign can use your contributions of money and time. Checks should be written to “Just Vote No! Campaign” and sent to me (I'm treasurer) at the address above; call me to let me know to expect the check that's in the mail. Help us turn out the vote against this power grab. And thanks in advance.



Painter Recommendation
Kenneth Mason,

Michael Johnson, 667-6453, is, in my opinion, an excellent painter for home or business interiors. His work is fast, accurate, clean, careful, and reasonable in price. Michael has a particular ability for color selection and application. Ask him about his unique ability to blend or layer translucent colors. Michael is also an artist, and can paint furniture and cool floor paintings. (These are paintings that are made to be displayed on the floor, rather than the wall, and can be walked on). He also paints floors.


Plumber, Handyman/Building, Lawn Mower
Nuhad Jamal,

I have been on this list now for more than a year and I know that people ask for and receive recommendations for plumbers, handymen, cleaners, etc. Typically, when not in the market for such help, I tend to ignore such items. Now I find myself needing a good plumber and a handyman/builder as well as someone to call on to mow my lawn. Is there a FAQ file or some such that might contain the collected experience (of such services) of the people on this list that one can consult when necessary? If not, would it be difficult to put one together so that anyone can retrieve that information from a central place so that the question is not asked yet again? In any case, I would be very grateful for some contact information.

[There's no FAQ file, and it's probably a good idea to get fresh recommendations every year or so, but you can search the back issues of themail using the search engine — (By the way, this page searches just themail's archives; the DCWatch web site has a separate search engine at — Gary Imhoff]


Real Estate Lawyer Recommendation
Ron Eberhardt,

In response to a member's query for an excellent real estate lawyer, I wholeheartedly recommend Roy L. Kaufmann, Esq. I have known him for more than fifteen years. His practice specializes in real estate and business law. He is bright, savvy, an excellent lawyer with superb contractual and negotiating skills. You can reach him on 483-9600 or at


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
HELL NO: This past March, members of the D.C. Emergency Transitional Education Board of Trustees — a body created by the control board in 1996 — faced one of the more controversial decisions of their nearly four-year tenure. At issue was whether to convert Paul Junior High School into a charter school or keep it part of the traditional school system. As always, the trustees sided with D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who opposed the charter crusade by Northwest D.C. parents and argued that the school should remain a neighborhood institution open to all.
Control board Chair Alice Rivlin thought otherwise; she overruled the trustees and handed Paul Junior High to the charter folks.
At that point, the trustees had a few options. They could have picketed in front of the control board, demanded a reversal of the decision, or just shut up and soldiered on. Instead, nearly all of the appointed members bagged the whole thing: They resigned.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
SUNDAY: “Avalon” screens in conjunction with the exhibit “Reinvigorating Cities: Smart Growth and Choices for Change” at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Free.
WEDNESDAY-SUNDAY: Emo Philips, at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, Thursday, June 29, and Sunday, July 2, and at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 30, and Saturday, July 1, at the Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. $15-$17.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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