themail.gif (3487 bytes)

August 16, 2000

Charitable Impulses

Dear Charitable Givers:

There's more help for giving in this issue of themail, if you'll look down at the Recommendations section. I'll act on my own charitable impulses, and not comment on the behavior of either the Republic or Democratic convention delegations from the District of Columbia. (But if you care to comment, I can't stop you.) I'll also not answer Dennis Jaffe's question below about which incumbent Councilmembers are vulnerable with a reply about which ones should be vulnerable.

As long as you're feeling charitable, please forgive a bit of misdirection in the last issue. You know I can't type a hyperlink address correctly. The link to the last issue of themail on the web, which has the photograph of the DC license plate with the homemade motto, is At least, I think that's the address. If it isn't, forgive me. Please.

Gary Imhoff


Incumbent Councilmembers
Dennis Jaffe,

I have a question for readers of themail: Among the current incumbents of the DC City Council, both from wards and at-large, which ones are considered to be vulnerable and might not be re-elected this election year? If you could answer this, that would be much appreciated. Thank you very much!


Rob Kampia, (Rob Kampia)

For the first time in a decade, a slate of Libertarian Party candidates have announced a run for five elected offices in the District of Columbia. The slate cited its outrage over local and congressional actions against marijuana users as the reason for reviving the beleaguered D.C. affiliate of the LP. At the head of the ticket is Rob Kampia, executive director of the national Marijuana Policy Project, who is challenging Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) as Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Matt Mercurio, a Ph.D. economist, is running for one of the At-Large City Council seats currently held by Harold Brazil (D) and Carol Schwartz (R). All five of the Libertarian candidates live and work in the District.

“The recent City Council decision to increase the penalties for marijuana distribution and Congress' undemocratic blocking of the medical marijuana initiative have outraged many District residents,” said Rob Kampia (L). “We Libertarian candidates are outraged, too, and we have decided to run for office to do something about it. If elected, I will make it my number one priority to stand up for the 69 percent of D.C. voters who passed the medical marijuana initiative in 1998 — the same voters who have been sold out by the City Council.” The candidates cited the City Council's recent passage of a marijuana penalty enhancement bill as their reason for running for office. “The City Council's bad marijuana bill is the straw that broke the patient's back,” said Matt Mercurio (L). “Because Congress has blocked the medical marijuana initiative, the City Council should be reducing the penalties for distributing marijuana to patients — not increasing the penalties, as they did a couple of weeks ago.” The City Council was pushed into passing the new law by U.S. Attorney Wilma Lewis, who claimed that dealers were switching from selling crack cocaine to selling marijuana because the penalties for marijuana were less harsh. “The recent action by the City Council is asinine, if not dangerous,” said Mercurio, an economist. “If nothing else, drug dealers are economists. They will switch back to selling crack cocaine on the streets when they realize they can enjoy greater profits — while risking similar penalties — as those who sell marijuana.”


Renee Bowser for Ward 4! Arturo Griffiths for At-Large!
Scott McLarty,

The Statehood Green Party is running a slate of candidates, but I'll highlight just two contenders for now: Renee Bowser and Arturo Griffiths. Renee just received a primary election endorsement from the DC Metropolitan Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Renee is a labor lawyer and DC Human Rights Commissioner. Arturo is a popular long-time Afro-Latino community organizer. Some recent accomplishments: Arturo, working with Health Care Now and the Greater SE Coalition, helped save Greater SE Hospital early this year; Health Care Now is now working to save threatened Community Health Clinics. Arturo helped start the Coalition for Housing Justice, which defends low-income tenants in danger of eviction by the city because of criminally negligent landlords. At a candidates' forum at Park and Sherman two weeks ago, Arturo talked about how his tenure on Council would be an opportunity to help DC residents speak on their own behalf, especially through ANCs, tenants' alliances, and other community groups. Compare that to Harold Brazil's response, at the same forum, to a woman asking for help with landlord problems — he promoted his million-dollar personal injuries law firm.

What sets the Statehood Green Party apart? Statehood Greens accept no money from corporations — they aren't bought off by the powerful real estate firms, developers, and members of the Federal City Council and Board Trade, many of which representing firms based outside of DC. Statehood Greens push for reforms like the split-rate tax plan. The split-rate plan would invert the current property tax, which reduces taxes on properties that are vacant, crumbling, and boarded up and penalizes owners who improve. The split-rate plan would raise rates on the negligent and give responsible owners a break, and turn around the deliberate neglect which plagues DC neighborhoods. The split-rate plan is one example of ideas you hear from Statehood Greens, but not from most of DC's leading Dems, whose campaigns are funded by the real estate and development interests who reap huge profits from exploitative speculation. If you're happy with projects like the convention center, proposed ballpark, cell towers, private prison, freeways, bureaucratization of the school board, permission for AOL to tear up streets, development contracts for cronies, suburban strip malls in urban areas — schemes that destabilize and displace neighborhoods, congest and pollute, sap our democracy, and get funded with our tax dollars, for the benefit of the Federal City Council elite — then keep voting for Brazil, Jarvis, Evans, and Co. If you're not content to see DC bled dry, consider Renee Bowser, Arturo Griffiths, and other Statehood Green candidates. Statehood Greens have participated in and often led the resistance to every one of these schemes, and have offered positive alternatives like the split-rate plan.


Ignorance Is Bliss
David F. Power,

Ed Barron's remarks about the effect of layoffs or RIFs in a work force protected by collective bargaining are misleading. Thanks to Betty Anne Kane's posting in the August 13, 2000, issue of themail, we have a convenient reminder that the city's law is available on the Internet at the following link:

At that link, we can easily find the parts of the D.C. Code that refute Mr. Barron's anti-union remarks. We discover that retention rights during RIFs and other rights he complains of (such as “seniority”) are protected in the law. For example, RIFs are covered by D. C. Code sections 1-625.1 through 1-625.8 [Title One of the D.C. Code covers “Administration”]. Contrary to Mr. Barron's accusations against unions, all of the terms and conditions under which RIFs are conducted (including retention of pay, credit for length of service, credit for residence in the District, negotiations over transfers and reorganizations, etc.) are covered by the D.C. Code and by regulations issued under the Code. The Code and the regulations, and numerous decisions of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (the city's highest court) recognize that unions have the right to bargain collectively over many aspects of RIFs and layoffs, and give express protections to employees of the sort that Mr. Barron apparently complains of.

Mr. Barron's remarks therefore betray fundamental ignorance of the fact that collective bargaining is BARGAINING. The city negotiates and the union negotiates. After the negotiations an AGREEMENT is reached. If the city has AGREED to certain limitations on its right to lay waste to its work force, could it be that the city is forced by law to make those concessions? The simple facts are that employees, through their unions, have won extremely important rights under the law. Those rights include the right to bargain collectively, that is, as a group and not one-by-one, and the right to include in collectively bargained agreements terms and conditions of employment that are already set forth in laws and regulations. That permits employees to seek the protection of arbitration (just like baseball players) whenever the city violates the agreement OR violates its own law and regulations. For example, where the city's own law says that layoffs and RIFs shall proceed by “competitive areas” and according to pay grade and/or service tenure, or where the city's own regulations directly determine the order of layoffs and RIFs, then a union has every right (in fact has a duty) to include those laws and regulations in the union contract. The union then has the power and duty to enforce those protections through arbitration. [The message then includes a long list of provision titles.]


No D.C. Car Inspection Blues
Rona Mendelsohn,

What a surprise! With fear and foreboding, I brought my 1998 car in to the D.C. inspection station at Half Street, SW., anticipating a long wait and ultimate rejection of my car. However, not only was there no line, but also the inspectors were spiffy in their blue uniforms, courteous (and even jovial) to the car drivers, and quick in the conduct of their duties. I actually was in and out of the inspection station in about fifteen minutes (and my car passed inspection). And that wasn't the only surprise: there was an air-conditioned waiting room for drivers while the car was inspected, and the drivers were asked to fill out a customer satisfaction survey. I was extremely satisfied, and I congratulate the motor vehicle agency for making was used to be a harrowing experience actually pleasant.


New Black Panther Party
Bryce A. Suderow,

Last Thursday night at the corner of 4th and H NE, I ran into a crowd of ten or fifteen black men and women wearing berets and military uniforms. They handed me a flyer and at that point I learned that they were members of the New Black Panther Party. Their National Chairman is Minister Khallid Muhammad and their Minister of Justice is Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz. This group has taken an interest in crime fighting on Capitol Hill and has attended several citizens meetings on the Hill. On the flyer they advertise a town hall action meeting and panel discussion on Friday, August 25th to discuss U.S. Government Reparations to Black men and women. Does anyone know anything more about this group? Are their activities confined to Capitol Hill?


“The District”: Reality TV?
Lois Kirkpatrick,

I'd like to bring up an issue of extreme gravitas for this august group to ponder: the potential reaction to the new TV show premiering this fall called “The District,” in which the city mayor, played by a Black actor, is portrayed as incompetent and the “real” seat of power lies with the city's Caucasian Police Chief. Thoughts?


Nuisance Properties and Operation Crackdown
Rob Fleming,

Operation Crackdown is not a DC government program, but a referral program of the Young Lawyers section of the DC Bar Association. It is not aimed at nuisance properties in general, but at crack houses (of course, there is a large overlap). They will refer you to lawyers who work pro bono (free) to pressure the nuisance property owner to board up his property or fix it up and rent it to decent folks. In almost all cases, a letter on legal firm letterhead is enough to get some changes made. No Operation Crackdown case has ever come to trial. For more information, see or call the Operation Crackdown hotline at 828-3643 and leave a message.

DC's Operation Crackdown should not be confused with the one in northern Indiana which actually demolishes crack houses or the one in the London borough of Greenwich, which can't do much for DC, or the anti-street dealing operation by Chicago's 23rd District Police, or drug sweeps in Wayne County, Ohio, etc.


Street Signs — Missing, Stupid, and Hidden
Ms. Dorothy Persiflage,

Ms. Persiflage notes with approbation the most excellent questions raised by Mr. Goldberg concerning missing, unreadable, hidden, contradictory, and idiotic signage in our local area. Mr. Goldberg correctly describes the paucity of signs marking major intersections and streets, and he asks what's led to this situation, which makes navigation a difficult challenge for all but long-time locals. Ms. P has learned that this situation is not accidental, and would like to share the shocking truth with readers of themail. A while back the City Council — behind closed doors according to sources — decided to stimulate the growth of small businesses, most particularly Starbucks and Dunkin' Doughnuts. In its wisdom the Council, after a very careful review of other municipalities' approaches, and several on-site if low-key inspections of the Honolulu, Montego Bay, and Cancun programs, settled on the Boston Model. Ms. Persiflage realizes that the Boston Model is actually the Massachusetts Model, but she will not quibble with the Council. In this model, street signs are made to be increasingly and exceedingly rare, to the point that all but the natives (who don't need signs) lose all confidence in them. This, in turn, causes pedestrians and motorists to make frequent stops at local small businesses, and many have learned through bitter experience that if one wants accurate directions, it's wise to purchase some gum, a cup of coffee, or whatever. A synergistic feature of the Massachusetts Model is that the proliferation of establishments such as Starbucks soon reaches a critical mass, at which point directions themselves are expressed in their terms.

Ms. Persiflage vividly recalls her arrival in the Boston/Cambridge area for a year as a research affiliate at Harvard University. Not knowing her way around, and not finding any street signs which might have provided a soupcon of utility to her many street maps, she stopped and asked for directions. That's when it happened. Ms. P invites you to imagine her surprise when the gentleman leaning in her passenger window said something such as: “Aaaah, weellll. You see that Dunkin' Doughnut over there? You take your cah that way past, lemmesee. . . two. . . three. . . uh yah, past three Dunkin' Doughnuts. At the third one you go left and then past. . . aaahhh. . . four Dunkin' Doughnuts, two on the left and two on the right. Just past the fourth you hang a right and go straight, bearing slightly left at the . . aahhh. . .
fifth Dunkin' Doughnut. Your destination is right across the street from the Golden Chicken place!”

So, Mr. Goldberg. Ms. Persiflage sincerely hopes that you and other readers are relieved to discover that there is some degree of logical city planning behind the phenomenon you have described. Things rarely happen by accident in the District of Columbia. And yes, you are quite welcome! A tout ta' Do


Restaurant Smoking
David Sobelsohn,

Does anyone know what, if anything, one can do about a DC restaurant that ignores city law on smoking? I just went to a restaurant that only has a “smoking” sign — not a no-smoking sign, just a smoking sign — and the staff told me (and I know from experience) that they let customers smoke everywhere in the restaurant.


More DC Government Phone Numbers
Kathy Chamberlain,

As follow-up to Mark Eckenwiler's message about directly contacting DC government agencies, a useful but limited list of phone numbers can be found on the Clean City Initiative web site. Click “How to get help” on


August 2000 InTowner
Peter Wolff,

This is to let you know that the August 2000 on-line edition has been up-loaded and may be accessed at Included are all community news stories, editorials (including prior months' archived), restaurant reviews (prior months' also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature. Also included are all current classified ads. The next issue will publish on September 8, and the website will be updated within a few days following. To read the lead stories, be sure to click the link on the home page to the following headlines:

U.S. Attorney Seeks Relief Under Federal Drug Law to Clean-up R Street Section 8 Apartment Buildings; Adams Morgan Garage Plan Claimed Too Small: Businesses & Many Residents Seek to Alter Plan; City's Anti-Graffiti Program Launched in July with Adams Morgan Effort Serving as Model, Ward 1 Council Member and DPW Joining Forces to Tackle Trash.


CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS's September/October Calendar of Wine and Food Events
Charlie Adler,

1) September 12th, Tuesday, “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW. Valet parking, Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line), 7-9 PM, $40 per person. Our most attended event! Learn how to order wine in a restaurant, determine basic wine styles and varietals, pair wine and food and more! 2) September 20th, Wednesday, “New Restaurant Series: Yanyu Restaurant,” 3435 Connecticut Ave., NW. Metro: Cleveland Park (Red Line), 7-9 PM, $70 per person, tax and tip inclusive. Chef and owner Jessie Yan (owner of Spices and Oodles of Noodles) will introduce the latest cuisine from Hong Kong when she returns from her Far Eastern tour. The menu has not been set, but it will be at least four courses and each course will be paired with wine. We have rented the whole restaurant for this fine-dining experience. Seating is provided. 3) September 28th, Thursday, “Embassy of the Russian Federation Vodka, Caviar, and Smoked Salmon Tasting,” 7-9:30 PM, 2650 Wisconsin Ave., NW (near the corner of Calvert St. and Wisconsin Ave.). No parking; public transportation is suggested. Four martini bars with top shelf Russian vodkas, caviar tasting with Russian and other premium selections (Beluga available for an extra charge), smoked salmon tasting with blinis and more! Champagnes and sparkling wines served throughout event, Russian folk dancing demonstration; black tie optional. Maximum capacity for this event is 600 people. $110 per person (Advance Only), $130 with Beluga caviar. Advance sales required by September 21st, no door sales. 4) October 5th, Thursday, “Burcak Harvest Festival with Live Jazz at the Embassy of the Czech Republic,” 3900 Spring of Freedom, NW (between Connecticut Ave. & Beach Dr., just off Tilden St.). Parking Available, 7-9 PM. Festival and tasting, $45 in advance. Burcak is the still fermenting wine that Moravians drink during the “Vinobrani” (Wine Harvest). It's sweet and low in alcohol, but don't be fooled: the day after has come to be called the Curse of Burcak! We'll accompany this drink obtained from Sand Castle Winery in Pennsylvania with a menu of fresh salads, fruits and foods from the harvest. The evening features guest appearances by Torzo's leading artist, Zdenek Macku, and the renowned Czech jazz singer Jana Koubkova. Dress is very casual for this event and the spirit will be joyous! Reservations: or phone 333-5588.



Jon Katz,

Seeking secretary/receptionist (full time), bilingual Spanish-English. Silver Spring, near Metro station and plentiful inexpensive parking. Hiring immediately. Attractive pay and benefits. Full Spanish-English fluency essential. Experience preferred and paid for. MS Word preferred. Rewarding work helping litigation and immigration clients. Ideal for an experienced person seeking a new challenge and appreciation for a job well done (financial and personal). Please fax or send resume and cover letter that identifies “Secretary Announcement” in strict confidence to: Jon Katz, Marks & Katz, LLC, 1400 Spring Street, Suite 410, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910; fax: (301) 495-8815. For more information, visit


Executive Assistant
David S. Reed,

Executive Assistant, Housing and Urban Development. Help produce documents, spreadsheets, and presentations (draft, type, format, edit, proofread). Coordinate meetings and teleconferences. Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint required. Lotus Notes is a plus. $30,000 + benefits. Excellent opportunity for advancement. Located at L’Enfant Plaza Metro. Send resume to Reed Public Policy, Inc. at or fax 703-995-0484.



Telephone Counselors
Norah Lovato,

Help lonely or scared children — give support to overwhelmed stressed out parents. Prevent Child Abuse of Metropolitan Washington (PCA/MW) is looking for volunteers to staff the Crisis and Family Stress Hotline and PhoneFriend Supportline for children. Gain valuable experience and skills for future education or employment. This is an opportunity to meet others and a chance to make a difference. Free training is provided in telephone counseling, communication, and crisis intervention skills. Flexible shifts available. Next training begins in September, call PCA/MW at 223-0020 for more information.



Caretaking/Housekeeping Situation Wanted
Kristin K. Nauth,

Professional couple w/ property management experience and excellent references available for caretaking/housesitting for exceptional people and properties in DC. Short or long term. Contact Kristin at


Housing Sought
Joan Eisenstodt,

My cousin is moving back to DC after an overseas stint. He was of course stunned to find such a tight real-estate market. He's looking for a one-bedroom apartment, preferably with a patio or balcony (but does not want a high-rise) beginning September 1 or 15 in Woodley/Cleveland Park, or elsewhere near Metro. He is a wonderful, responsible professional and can pay up to $1,300/month. Any info, please direct to me.


Mt. Pleasant English Basement for Rent
Anne Drissel,

Available August 20. Ingleside Terrace. Quiet street, across from Rock Creek Park near Zoo. Large living room/dining; separate kitchen; bath; bedroom (small). Air conditioner, washer/dryer. Private front and rear entrance. $750/mo (including utilities). Year lease; month deposit. Non-smoker. Sorry, no pets. Call home 232-6517, office 703-925-7329, or cell 301-908-5041, or E-mail


Townhouse for Sale by Owner
Williams Menczer,

Attractive and well maintained 3 bedroom, 2 full and 2 half bath, semi-detached brick townhouse in Woodley Park. Living room fireplace, remodeled galley kitchen with gas stove and water filter, hardwood flooring throughout, fully finished walk-out basement, rear brick patio, garage parking, gas utilities, central air conditioning. Four blocks to either of two Metro stations. Offered at $435,000. Open house, Sunday, August 20, from 1 pm to 5 pm. 2809 Cortland Place, NW. Contact William B. Menczer, daytime 366-1698 or evenings/weekends 332-5663. House shown by appointment only.



Bicycle Needs Refurbishing
Annie McCormick,

I am seeking an organization which takes used bicycles and refurbishes them for youngsters or disadvantaged folks. I loaned to my sister-in-law a 15-speed bike (brand new in 1994, I rode less than 200 miles on it then put it in storage) and she “stored” it in an exposed lean-to. Now the seat is torn and ruined, the chain rusty, etc. I can clean it up, oil it., etc., but I do not have the expertise to diagnose any serious problems and fix it. Seeking to use the donation it for tax purposes, if that is possible.


Generous Impulses
Christina Samuels,

I got several good responses to my inquiry of a week or so ago, asking where I could donate some serviceable furniture that is too big for me to get in my car. I also got a lot of responses from people looking for the same information — so many that I decided to post the suggestions in themail. I know a lot of movers and shakers read this list, and I would suggest to them that maybe there is a way for these charities to become better known. Or if there is a clearinghouse of such information, please point it out. This is such a transient community, and there are so many of us in apartments. I know people who have paid to have someone haul away perfectly good appliances and large pieces of furniture because they don't know what else to do with them. There's got to be some better solution. Maybe we need to organize a volunteer brigade of people with SUVs, since they're so darn popular. Anyway, the suggestions (and I am using descriptions provided by the people who E-mailed me):

Child and Family Services Agency — DC's child welfare system. They serve many families who cannot afford clothing, furniture, etc. Call 442-6000 and ask for Betty Bass in the Volunteer Services Office. They might even pick up the items. Good luck!
Bread for the City/Zacchaeus Clinic (commonly known as Bread and Zacchaeus). They are located at 1525 7th St. NW, and can be reached at 332-0440. This suggestion came from Linda Kaufman, who kindly offered her assistance if that charity did not work out for whatever reason; she's at 661-7575.
American Rescue Workers, 301-336-6200. They have picked up from apartment buildings, and they are friendly and actually show up at the time they schedule to arrive. Give them a try.
Upscale Resale thrift shop, a shop that provides job training for adults with mental illness, does some limited pickup of items. Items donated to the thrift shop are tax deductible. Call Abe Schuchman, executive director, 301-230-2825.
The Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place, as well as some of the household items. Please call Susan Callaway or Nicola Buekes at 364-1419 to discuss. CCH/FP is a community based organization located at 4713 Wisconsin Avenue NW DC in Tenleytown which provides services to homeless persons in the neighborhood.
Mary House and the International Rescue Committee. Both groups do refugee relocation (setting up housing, etc.) and both have pick up services. Check phone book for Mary House; the contact person at the IRC is Elizabeth. Her number is 822-0043 ext. 19.
Joseph's House, an AIDS Hospice in Adams Morgan. They're in the phone book. They have a "wish list": 12 dining room chairs (wooden), 2 - 13' television sets, tablecloths of any kind, coffee table, 3 night stands, pots and pans, and a volunteer photographer to take pictures of residents and staff about every two months.
The African American Holiday Association, 291-8813.


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
CONNECTICUT YANKEES: Politicians have a lot of pat ways of stroking one another at official events. But Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) uses none of them when he stands alongside his longtime political buddy, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams. The two appeared together in June 1999 at a function sponsored by the American Friends of Lubavitch, a Jewish charitable organization.
“I never felt as confident about the future of this city as the day you were elected,” said Lieberman to Williams, before a crowd of adoring onlookers. “Now the feeling in the city is positive. Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians will stand behind you as long as you do the right thing.”
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
MONDAY: Son of Bigfoot at 8 p.m. at the Source Theater, 1835 14th St. NW. $10.
TUESDAY: Bedazzled (the 1967 original) screens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Lucky Bar, 1221 Connecticut Ave. NW. $2 (suggested donation).
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the subscription form at To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available at

All postings should also be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)