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August 6, 2000

Well Rounded

Dear Correspondents:

Congratulations on having written a well-rounded issue of themail. There's something for nearly anyone in this issue, on all kinds of topics. Keep up the good work.

Gary Imhoff


Park Improvement East of the River
Kathy Chamberlain,

Here's some neighborhood news, and good news at that. No it's not about a Parks and Rec park, but a National Park called Twining Square. Over the past four months, Twining Square has undergone a facelift, thanks to residents of several Southeast neighborhoods working in partnership with the National Park Service. Twining Square is on Pennsylvania Ave., SE, between 27th and 28th Streets, just down from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Unless you saw it before we started you can't appreciate how far it's come, so treat yourself to the before-after photos on Like many parks along major thoroughfares in the District, this one has suffered serious neglect over the years. Last winter, Twining Square crossed the line between neglected and eyesore
when a truck lost control, jumped the curb, and destroyed a long row of shrubs that lined the park. The dead shrubs looked bad enough without the litter they attracted as passing cars and pedestrians tossed their fast food containers, liquor bottles, and other litter into what looked like a trash heap. We approached the NPS about what could be done and to make a long story short, in April we signed a 5-year adopt-a-park agreement. NPS gives us all the materials we request (mulch, fill dirt, replacement shrubs, compost, flowering plants, water source) and we do the work. So far, they've given us everything we've requested. About forty neighbors have signed on as Friends of Twining Square.

We have an all-Friends work session one Saturday per month, but some work more often. One man works in the park almost every day. This is an example of what can be accomplished when government is smart enough to enlist the help of energetic enthusiastic residents, and residents are smart enough to recognize that they have to do more than sit back and whine about lack of services. Parks run by Parks and Rec in our neighborhood are another story, but we'll stick to good news for this issue and save the bad news for another time.


Cops on the Street
Bryce Suderow,

Chief Ramsey's proposal for adding 200-250 officers in our neighborhoods made the front page of the Post Metro section Friday. I spoke to two officers from two different PSAs and asked their reaction to the news. They were cynical about the proposal. Both of them thought the Chief was coming up with half-baked ideas because he didn't like the negative headlines in the Post.

Referring to whether the detectives will be any help on the night shift, one officer said, “Where will they be? They'll be in their cars because there's no supervision.” This officer didn't want the detectives put on the street. This officer instead wanted the return of two cops to the PSA One cop was taken away to answer Chief Gainer's phone. The other was who taken out of the PSA and put on the focussed mission team. The other officer I spoke to did not believe he'd get much help from the formerly desk-bound cops that Ramsey has promised to put on the street. He said, “You're taking people who were in the station and putting them on the street. They're going to be pissed. Right now it takes half an hour to process an arrest of somebody for possession of an open container. They're going to take three hours to process an arrest like that because they don't want to be on the street.”


It Makes No Sense
Scott Pomeroy, Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association,

Once again the police have decided that the residents of the U Street corridor don't really matter. I called the Third District at 3:30 this morning to ask why there was a police car, Unit 3101, blocking the westbound lanes of the 1300 block of U Street diverting the noisy traffic onto the residential streets. I was told that this was the only way to control the nightclub crowds, and if we as residents wanted to do anything than we would have to shut down the nightclubs.

I wonder if they say the same thing to the residents in Georgetown. Probably not, because they don't close down M street. Would they say the same thing to the residents in Adams Morgan? No, they would never shut down 18th Street. We continue to be subjected to second class service. The police know when the clubs are letting out and yet there were only two cars when I went down and walked U Street. There were 30 or 40 illegally parked motorcycles. There were crowds of people milling up and down U, about 25 standing around watching the police officer talk to one young lady at the corner of 13th and U.

The noise of the traffic, motorcycles and booming stereos, was bad enough, but then there was the screaming of all the pedestrians walking back to their cars and interacting with the diverted traffic. This is a case where the solution is worse than the problem. Late night commercial traffic should remain on U Street. U Street is a commercial corridor, and we need the city to realize that at 3:30 we have hundreds if not thousands of people vacating the various clubs. In Georgetown they pull officers from other, less active PSA's to deal with the overflow. When do we get the same service?


Keith Jarrell,

Charlene Drew Jarvis is full of promise, short on results. She can, however, get a long term obligation for 100 million dollars passed for a new convention center that we could have done without. Meantime, the neighborhoods are falling in around us. H. Street, NE, is a shame to the city, but do you think she has attempted to get us any funds to revitalize it? No, she's too busy getting Bell Atlantic to donate to her campaign. It is time that we take our city from those that still represent the same kind of politics that Marion Barry brought to DC. Jarvis is one of them, Brazil the other. They both should go.


Is There a Law about Having Sidewalks?
Susan Bahcall,

This past 4th of July I was walking over to the Palisades area of Northwest Washington to watch the parade. The walk was pleasant until I got to one fairly lengthy stretch of a prosperous looking street going into MacArthur Boulevard. The blocks in this area had no sidewalks. The lack of a sidewalk was a minor inconvenience (it just slowed me down a bit) but I wondered, since I had to walk over people's front lawns to avoid the road, if I was trespassing. Was I breaking a law? Are there any DC laws requiring homeowners to have sidewalks? I didn't feel comfortable walking in the road, because there was a fair amount of traffic even in this suburbanish area.


Sears Building Is Historic
Thorn Pozen,

In response to Ed Baron's characterization of the results of the recent E-mail survey regarding the former Sears Building in Tenleytown, I want to remind Ed that the building is already a designated historic landmark in the District. As such, it is protected from changes to its exterior which would alter the historic character of the building. That bridge has been crossed.

I do support Home Depot coming in to the neighborhood. But, as one of the people who worked very hard to get the Sears building designated by the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board, I, and many like me, am concerned about maintaining the historic character of the building. Let's not get carried away by the prospect of Home Depot. Instead, the community needs to work with the developers of the site and with Home Depot to ensure that in the end we get a great new store without, however, giving up an important piece of our past.


McKinley High School
Ed T. Barron,

Lots of palaver about making McKinley into a “Magnet High School.” As I sit up here in the Big Apple, where I attended one of the country's most famous magnet schools, Brooklyn Technical High School, (and passed by that ten-story, one whole city block structure just yesterday) I know that such a school could never exist in that form in D.C. When I attended “Tech” in the '50s it was an all boy's school with 6000 (count 'em) boys who had taken, and passed, a competitive citywide entrance exam. Today the school is largely minority populated and with those of the female persuasion making up at least 40% of the student body. There are no longer 6000 students because the entrance and retention standards have been maintained and fewer students apply and/or pass the strict entrance exam.

That won't fly in D.C. You could not require District students to pass a qualifying entrance exam to get into the school. So the whole concept of a “Magnet” school won't work in the District. The best that could be accomplished is to set up a special program within McKinley, or whatever school is selected. That program would require special qualifications, much like honors programs in some of the schools in MD and VA (and in the private schools).


It Is a Matter of Attitude
Larry Seftor,

I recently read The Bell Curve, but I'm not going to jump into that hotbed because I think the problems we suffer in D.C. are due something not covered in The Bell Curve — attitude. Everyone will no doubt have their own characterization what constitutes a bad attitude. Mine is sullen resentment whenever response to others or a job is required. Some examples might clarify. 1) At Magruders I bought several cases of beer, each comprised of two 12-packs. I was alone in the store at the time, and all the cashier had to do was to scan each 12-pack; the cash register automatically made corrections for case pricing. When I got home I realized that I was undercharged, because one 12-pack was not scanned. The management of the store no doubt thinks they have a theft problem, when the problem is really a cashier with a bad attitude. Making sure each item is scanned requires only rudimentary ability AND focus on the job at hand. 2) At a recent visit to the DMV four employees behind the counter argued and harangued each other for twenty minutes, as if the customers in front of the counter didn't even exist. 3) We have a police chief who believes that a request for more police visibility is “micromanagement.” 4) Any request to a station manager within Metro is likely to be treated as an intrusion on their personal time. The recently reported story about the response of Metro personnel to someone with a problem with a SmartCard is an example of a perpetual problem. 5) Several years ago someone in the DC Government who had the power to solve a problem for me first asked with indignation: “how did you get my number?” 6) There is a sink-hole on my street, probably due to a leaking sewer line under the street. Rather than determine that the need for continual repairs indicates a real problem, the city crews keep patching it over. 7) When the now-departed DPW director was pressed about trash that was not picked up and streets that were not plowed, she replied that the citizens expected too much. 8) Mayor Williams knows that some contracting people within the DC Government are doing a lousy job, wasting money and denying citizens services. Yet no changes are made.

We have moved beyond the original intent of equal right legislation, equal opportunity, to today's apparent goal of equal outcomes. In the process, the concept that some people have more ability than others has been trashed. What has also been apparently trashed is the option to require the right attitude for the job. I'll buy the fact that people have different levels of ability that cannot be changed (I haven't forgotten The Bell Curve completely), but I will not buy the argument that people cannot provide the right attitude and work ethic. Each of us in society has a personal constituency that we need to satisfy and a boss; even the CEO has a board of directors. Requiring a proper attitude is not an imposition, it is just asking all citizens to pull their weight.


DC Marketing Center
Daniel Turner,

So I got a call (well, four, and a letter, and a flyer) recently from the Washington, DC, Marketing Center ( They're apparently affiliated with the Mayor in that they've been asked (commissioned? paid? cajoled?) to do a survey of current owners of DC businesses. This is no phone thing. They actually come out to my business and interview me for 25-30 minutes on what I like and don't like about DC. In fact, they're apparently going to do this once per year. According to the brochure, it's a ”customer service call . . . we promise a tailored and rapid response to your firm's needs and concerns.” They specifically say they'll help out with traffic lights, legislation, or whatever else they can. Sounds too good to be true. I'll give it a shot, of course, but I thought I'd run it by the keen readers of themail to see what they think. Anything I should stress in my interview with my “Outreach Specialist”? And why me? Are they doing this with all the businesses in DC, or the ones that bring in more than a certain amount, or the ones in Northwest, or what?


The Orioles and Cuba
David Sobelsohn,

Bruce Monblatt and Vic Miller's posts about the Orioles and Latin players suggests a related question: what about the allegation that the Orioles, to avoid upsetting their arrangement with Castro, have been reluctant to sign Cuban émigré players? On the one hand, US policy towards Cuba has made virtually no sense at least since the breakup of the Soviet Union, why should we encourage illegal immigration, the Orioles may be making a rational business decision, and it's disgusting to see Jesse Helms pose as a defender of civil rights. On the other hand, perhaps a baseball team shouldn't have its own foreign policy, and employment discrimination based on national origin is illegal whatever the employee's national origin or occupation. What do folks think?


Doggie Calling Cards
Gaelyn Davidson,

In the last edition of themail, in a posting entitled, “Road Warriors and Doggie Calling Cards,” Victor Chudowsky,, writes: “Third, you can use the fairly unpleasant 'bag' method. But then what do you do with the bag? Without a public trash can close by, the unlucky dog owner is often forced to walk several blocks holding a fragrant bag of used dog food. Any dog owner who does this is familiar with the feeling of, 'gee, I hope nobody I know sees me and they want to chat, or worse still, shake hands.'” C'mon, suck it up! You knew that dogs pooped before you got one! (PS, in case this level of jocularity offends, I am only teasing!)

Most responsible dog owners I know use the bag method. If you knot the plastic bag after you've picked up the prize, then you don't have the smell or smear issue. And most people understand, when you're walking your dog, that there's an intended outcome, whether you're currently holding a bag or not. I'm actually glad to see dog owners holding bags as they finish their route because it means one less poop on the ground for folks to fault ME (and other responsible humans) for. Incidentally, my dog generally chooses to deposit near another deposit, so I can usually do a two-fer-one scoop. And if another dog's pile is obnoxiously placed, I always carry extra bags. When I see dog owners letting their dog's deposit go unscooped, I usually call out and offer them one of my baggies — assume that they intend to do the right thing and they generally will. After all, who can get belligerent over a kind offer?


Back to Nature
Willie Schatz,

Fuhgeddaboud all these complicated dog disposal methods. Just put it back from whence it came. Carry a trowel. When the dog does its thing, dig a small hole and do with it what Brutus and the boys did to Caesar. End of story. No plastic. No surreptitiously dumping it into a neighbor's Supercan (which aren't, but that's another piece.) No polluting the soil or the Chesapeake. This boy and his golden retriever do it all over Adams Morgan, Kalorama, Mount Pleasant when they run there. What could be more EC?


Washington Post as Community Supportive?
Phil Shapiro,

You'll be glad to hear that the Washington Post, which beats up our communities day in and day out, is now offering the opportunity for you to build a neighborhood or civic group web site. Surely those who are civilly inclined think first of the Washington Post as a supporter of our communities, a nurturer of all that is good in our neighborhoods, and the perfect place to construct a neighborhood web site. Does that make a lot of sense? For me, the endless drumbeat of negativity negates any affinity I feel towards the Post. When someone repeatedly punches me in the face, I'm less inclined to respond to their social invitations.


The Least, the Last, and the . . . Uninformed?
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

The Republicans produced a spectacular Convention, and I'm happy to see a softening of their rhetoric as well as African-American gospel choirs and biracial children. They're clear about what is at stake (“It's the White House, stupid!”), and I would expect this to scoop off some moderate votes. George Wallace, Jr., said Republicans need to reach out to “the Least, the Last, and the Lost.” (What is the history of that line, anyway?) Pennsylvania Governor Ridge said, “George doesn't look to a focus group. He looks to his heart. George will be a candidate we can trust.” He credited “George W.” for being the founding father of the “new” Republican Party. Although disenfranchised D.C. isn't an issue most of the country is even aware of, so far it looks like the “new” Party offers D.C. the least hope for gaining political equality and is the last Party to even pay lip service to the one person/one vote principle for D.C. — it's as if they're still arguing about whether D.C. should be in the back of the bus or off the bus altogether. Some in the local Republican leadership say their candidate is uninformed on D.C. (lost?). But it isn't clear whether George W. is uninformed about D.C., or unprincipled for partisan reasons. Assuming there is room for “education,” maybe somebody could remind George W. why George Washington led a Revolutionary War for freedom from King George. Can he not imagine that exclusive legislative authority by the U.S. Congress is as repulsive to Americans and to D.C. citizens today as exclusive legislative authority by Parliament was to George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and colonial subjects? Political equality for D.C. should not be a partisan issue, but the “new” Republican leadership, like the old, shows that it is. (And this is not to say the Dems are going to be much better. We'll see.)


Democracy and DC
David Sobelsohn,

The argument that if you aren't capable of self-government you shouldn't have it is circular. Just as children never allowed to make their own decisions never learn responsibility, a society denied self-government never learns how to govern itself. If DC's mayor and city council at times seem irresponsible, perhaps at least a partial explanation lies in chronic congressional second-guessing.


Abandon Hopeless Histrionics
Thomas C. Hall,

As myself and the rest of the civilized world now know, the “Abandon Hope” sign hung over the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno, not Auschwitz. The gate of Dachau, not Auschwitz, had the more ironic message, “Work is Freedom.” I apologize for the sloppy transposition in quotations in alluding to the “hopelessness” of dealing with the Bureau of Adjudication. But puh-leeze, no more self-righteous puffery in trying to link this to the Holocaust. Never thought that, never meant that, and I suspect all the holier-than-thou, wildly indignant chest-thumpers know that. I hope.



The Last Colony
Timothy Cooper,

I can't think of a better way to get the word out to the nation about DC's disenfranchised state than to tell reveal the painful truth intelligently on film. So please join with me in supporting Rebecca Kingsley and her film, “The Last Colony.” She is hosting a special sneak preview on September 7th, and I believe she deserves every measure of our support. Plus it should be a blast, what with Lucy Murphy and Sam Smith belting out tunes. The preview will be on Thursday, September 7th, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at the Josephine Butler Parks Center, 2437 Fifteenth Street, N.W. Your tax-deductible donation is greatly appreciated in covering the production costs of a film that is the culmination of more than two years of research, interviews, and filming of this great city. As a SUPPORTER, your $25 advance ticket ($30 at the door) will provide you two complimentary drinks and light fare. As a PROVIDER, your $100 ticket will also include a FREE D.C. hat and a credit in the film. As a DONOR, your $250 ticket will also include an advance VHS copy of the film. As a PATRON, your $500 ticket will also include a VIP invitation to the film's premiere. Make checks payable to the Association of Oldest Inhabitants, and note on the memo line, The Home Rule Film Project.



Campaign Workers
Rob Kampia,

I'm taking the plunge — it's time to run for office. As you may have heard, the D.C. City Council just passed a new law that greatly increases the penalties for marijuana in the District of Columbia. And Congress is currently voting to block D.C.'s medical marijuana initiative for the third year in a row. It is because of this that I have recruited a slate of candidates who are running for office in D.C. with the express purpose of calling for an end to the war on marijuana users. As for me, I'm running for the office of D.C. Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Other candidates are running for City Council seats. We have until August 30 to collect 5,000 signatures from D.C. registered voters. Would you please consider donating three hours of your time to help collect signatures for my candidacy?

Residents of Virginia and Maryland can participate, too, simply by teaming up with a D.C. registered voter who is circulating petitions. If you are interested in volunteering — or even getting paid $1.00 per signature to circulate the petitions for other candidates — please simply reply to this message. If you respond to this message, I will E-mail you my new home address and phone number, and I will find a convenient way to get some petitions to you. If you prefer, we can pair you off with another petitioner so that you won't have to do it alone.


Prevent Child Abuse
Norah Lovato,

Prevent Child Abuse of Metropolitan Washington is seeking volunteers to staff the Crisis and Family Stress Hotline and the PhoneFriend Supportline for children. Training is provided in telephone counseling, communication, and crisis intervention skills. Next training begins in September. Call PCA/MW at 223-0020 for more information and an application.


John Vocino,

Due to the growth in our league and other leagues in the area, the two umpire associations that we use have been unable to provide us with full coverage for all of our games this year. To avoid this problem during our Spring 2001 season we have decided to supplement their coverage by forming our own umpire association. The MSBL National Umpire Association has agreed to provide training for our umpires prior to the start of the season. If you're interested in making some extra money and being involved in the game you love, sign up today. And don't forget to tell your friends to sign up!



Looking for Apartment/House in DC Metro Area
Sarin Hacatoryan,

Looking for two or more bedroom apartment/house in the greater DC area (Arlington and Silver Spring areas okay too). Have a small dog. Parking preferable. Don't want to spend more than $1200 for a 2 bedrooms, $1500 for 3 bedrooms. Please call Sarin or Nicole at 393-3434 from 9-5 Monday-Friday, and 236-8593 after 5. Would like to move in September.



dcplay Group
Daniel Louie,

Tired of talking politics? Let's talk about theater! dcplay is a free social group for theatergoers aged 35 and under that organizes get-togethers centered around a DC-area play. It usually involves food and drinks, but always involves a fun time. For more information and to subscribe, go to or E-mail


New Organic Grocery Store

There is a wonderful small organic grocery store in Mt. Pleasant, 3155 Mt. Pleasant Avenue. It has a good selection of vegetables and fruits, very reasonably priced. It also has bulk items such as beans and pasta. Dried fruit and nuts come prepackaged. The store is called the People Garden. Its hours are 9 am-2 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm Monday through Friday. There are also Saturday and Sunday hours. So far I have not found parking there difficult.


The Latest Re-Incarnation at 18th and Columbia
Holly Olson,

I have only lived in Adam's Morgan for four years, but that's enough to witness the many restaurant re-incarnations at 18th and Columbia. At the rate that restaurants leave that location, one would think it's cursed. When I first moved in there was Boston Market. Then came the fast food Vietnamese/Mexican takeout called Restaurant #1. (To top it off, it was painted bright pink). Mercifully, it went out of business. It's replacement is called something like Bread & Kabobs.

I wanted to mention this in themail because the place is a nice addition to the neighborhood takeout scene. Their menu is limited to — you guessed, bread and kabobs. But what they do, they do a good job with. The chicken is a particularly good bet — a nice marinade and very tender. The meat and vegetables are grilled while you wait, so you know they haven't been sitting around. Whenever I walk by, the place always seems to be empty. So I urge my fellow A.M. residents to give it a try. Hopefully, this place will be able to stick around longer than some of the previous tenants.


Wolf Trap Ticket Exchange
Alison Kamat,

I thought I'd share something I discovered recently with those of you trying to sell Wolf Trap tickets. Wolf Trap allows ticket holders to exchange their tickets for a future performance. Exchanges must be done in person at the Wolf Trap box office at least 24 hours prior to the performance date on the ticket and can only be done if the patron already has the tickets.


Where Should I Donate These Items?
Christina Samuels,

I have a computer desk, a cushionless papasan chair, a microwave, some books, clothes and other household items I'd like to donate to some worthy organization. Nothing fabulous, just serviceable stuff. Problem is, a lot of the pieces are too bulky and heavy for me to get in my car. Salvation Army, Goodwill, and the like couldn't care less; they don't pick up in apartment buildings or it's not enough stuff for them. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?


Grass Cutter/Weed Puller Needed on Hill
Joan Eisenstodt,

Kids don't seem to do that any more but we need someone to cut a VERY small strip of grass in the front of our house and pull weeds and do general yard maintenance. Any ideas on the Hill?


Gutters Needed
Elizabeth M Wulkan,

We have been told that we need new gutters for our house in Shepherd Park. Can anyone recommend a person or company which does good work and installs gutters for a fair price?


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