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August 23, 2000

Those Poor Candidates

Dear Voters:

Imagine those poor candidates, sitting out there waiting for just one word of encouragement from you. The primary election is on September 12. Make some candidate happy, just one candidate happy. Let him or her know that you care. And let other readers of themail know whom they should vote for. DCWatch's election coverage starts at The candidates are listed there; click on any candidate's link to see the campaign materials.

Gary Imhoff


Special Ed Students: Traveling In Style
Paul Michael Brown,

A couple of winters ago, in the grip of a severe flu and loathe to impose on my friends, I found myself in need of transportation between my Eastern Market condo and the building full of docs the G.W. HMO maintains at 22nd and I Streets NW. (Motto: “If you never visited the former Soviet Union, you can at least experience their health care system.”) Not trusting any of the cab companies to dispatch a taxi to an address in Southeast, I threw frugality to the wind and called a car service company. For $40 round trip, a shiny black Lincoln Town Car whisked me back and forth in Vernon Jordan style.

I see from Mr. Barron's recent post that the D.C. School Board is offering as much as $7,500 per special ed student if the parents will assume responsibility for transportation. Hmmm. Assuming 9 months of school and 20 days of school each month, that works out to $41.66 per day. Can anybody explain why it costs more to drive a kid to school than it costs to treat me like one of Washington's premier rainmakers?


Ray Browne for U.S. Representative (Shadow)
Patrick Pellerin,

ay Browne, Democrat, is running for U.S. Representative (Shadow) because he believes he can use the office to work for voting representation for DC residents in the U.S. Congress. His plan is to ensure that everyone in the United States understands that District citizens are disenfranchised in the Congress. He wants to carry a lucid, cogent and persuasive message to the rest of the country that will create grassroots support for our rights to a voting representative in Congress. He has been endorsed by the Ward 8, 3 and 2 Democrats, the Washington Teachers’ Union, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, a number of DC Councilmembers and former Councilmembers, the chair and vice chair of the DC Democratic State Committee, ANC Commissioners and many other prominent citizens of our City. He earned these endorsements because he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of this City, as an ANC Commissioner, as a member of the DC Mayor's Commission on Alcoholism and the Blue Ribbon Drug Strategy Team, as an advocate for the Hurt Home on R Street to help the emotionally disturbed youths and as a supporter of a health insurance pool for those who are uninsurable. Ray Browne, a native of the District of Columbia, clearly understands this City and deserves your support for U.S. Representative (Shadow) both in the Democratic primary and the general election.


Personal Records at the DMV
Charlie Wellander,

Eleven minutes to renew my DC driver's license. That is a personal record! I was still checking boxes on the renewal form when my wait number was called, so I got to the window after another number had been called. The worker politely told me that I should have come to the window when called, even though I wasn't ready. I joked, “That is a pleasant change — I'm complaining that you're too fast and you're complaining that I'm slow.” I was offered the choice of a “random” number or my Social Security number for my Driver's License Number, paid, was photographed, and left with my license in hand exactly eleven minutes after arrival.


Save the Urinals
Ed T. Barron,

Some feminist groups here in the U.S. and overseas are campaigning to have urinals removed from men's rest rooms. The rationale is that, because men can aim and women can't, this is degrading to women. At the University of Stockholm, in Sweden, urinals are being removed from men's rest rooms in response to these feminists. Just consider the chaos that would result if urinals were removed from men's rest rooms at Redskins' stadium. Lines would form at these rest rooms that would snake across I-495 all the way to the U.S. Arena. I'm not sure who is crazier, those who are promoting this madness, or those who are responding to it. In any event, it is essential that D.C. males stand up for their rights and save our urinals.


Not One of the Twenty
George S. LaRoche, Counsel to the Plaintiffs,

Regarding [Mike Livingston's posting on “New Black Panthers and Reparations”: Mr. [Malik] Shabazz is not one of the plaintiffs in the 20 Citizens case, and he is not involved with the case.


Don’t Mess with Tryst!
Josh Gibson,

In his posting earlier this week, Jon Desenberg states that he's “shocked to see” that Constantine Stavropoulos of Tryst is circulating a petition to try and stop construction of the mixed-use garage. I am not writing to address the garage issue, although I feel that Mr. Desenberg's description of that debate is almost criminally oversimplified. I will instead respond to the tone and the implicit bias of Mr. Desenberg's message. Time and time again, residents of this community impugn the intentions of neighborhood businesses, claiming that they are just out to make a quick buck. I find this criticism over-generalized and insulting.

First of all, when Mr. Desenberg selected a merchant to attack as self-serving (“. . . if [Constantine] wants additional patrons. . . ,” he wrote), he basically picked the wrong fight. Constantine (who is a friend and a colleague, I will admit) did not open Tryst, and will not open his diner, with profit foremost on his mind. Let me remind you, as Constantine has already done several times during the debate on the diner, that an MBA or CPA's first bit of advice on making a cash-cow out of Tryst would be: open at 7 pm, not 7 am. Constantine either loses money, or barely breaks even, by opening his doors at 7 am, seven days a week. That's a fact. He stays open because it's important to him and it's important to the neighborhood. Ever since Day One, Constantine has spoken of wanting to create a “third place,” a place other than home or the office where people would enjoy spending a good chunk of their day. By opening Tryst, and by opening it the generous hours that he has chosen, Constantine has created a heart and a soul for the neighborhood. Bar none, no other business or other institution in the neighborhood welcomes such a diverse group of people — age, race, income level, you name it.

Adams Morgan never had a true community “center” until Tryst came along (is it a coincidence that Tryst lies quite near the geographical center of the Adams Morgan community?) It serves as a Parisian cafe for those who want to spend three hours drinking a coffee and reading a newspaper, as an office-away-from-home for restless home office workers who need to get out of their house, as a de facto conference room for the many neighborhood facility-poor nonprofits that strive tirelessly and without recognition to improve the lives of our less fortunate neighbors. Do you think that Constantine turns a heady profit off of these folks? Since it opened, Tryst has hosted innumerable fundraisers, charity parties, childrens' events, and other neighborhood-centered activities. His cash and in-kind donations are frankly enormous. And even his work as President of the Adams Morgan Business and Professional Association is necessary but difficult and thankless.

Mr. Desenberg, ad hominem attacks are never appropriate. Ad hominem attacks on neighborhood saints are foolish and masochistic.


A Brief D.C. Home Rule History by the Numbers
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

As public opinion research data became more widely available, a few pollsters examined the question of home rule in D.C. After a home rule bill reached the House floor in 1948, and an Arkansas representative with 50,000 constituents filibustered and killed the bill, George Gallup (1949) surveyed U.S. adults and found 65 percent thought the people of Washington should elect their own officials (20 percent said President should appoint). The N.Y. Herald Tribune (2/3/1952) blamed Congress for D.C. “downtown blight.” In 1953, the Supreme Court sanctioned home rule: “There is no constitutional barrier to the delegation by Congress to the District of Columbia of full legislative power.” Congress wasn't interested in the “full” part of the ruling. They toyed with various options, such as a gradual plan to make the existing setup look more representative to “handing back to Maryland with the government holding only a sliver of ground containing federal buildings” (The Post, 1/20/53). Commissioners that year were occupied with financial woes, and The Post observed that D.C.'s “city council consists of 531 Congressmen who often give the impression they don't want to be bothered with the District, don't understand its problems, and don't have time to learn about them. But they won't let it go. City business gives Congressmen a change to plug the prejudices of their constituents. It makes for some funny business.” In 1956, D.C. citizens voted for the first time for delegates to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and for other party offices — an election many hoped would pave the way for home rule and national representation. The Junior Chamber of Commerce held a voter registration campaign, and the attractive Miss Tippy Stringer played “Miss Get Out the Vote.” For years, despite American public support, southern segregationists blocked Congressional home rule bills. District residents worked through the Washington Home Rule Committee to publicize the home rule drive. In 1964, District residents, in what was interpreted as a demonstration of their “worthiness,” broke a U.S. historic voting turnout record for cities over 25,000 in their first presidential election — 90 percent voted, most for Lyndon B. Johnson. The Washington World reported, “Home rule will be a major issue in 1965 and during this administration. Whether local citizens, local officials and the local press now have sufficient strength to overcome traditional disinterest and outright resistance is still uncertain.” In 1965, Lou Harris again found a majority of Americans (66 percent) in favor of Congress granting D.C. the right to elect its own city government. Those who favored did so because “every city should determine their own destiny,” and “every community has the right to self-government.” The majority of Americans who opposed home rule (10 percent) said, “there are too many Negroes, they would take over.” In January 1966, Marion Barry organized a bus boycott when a private D.C. bus company raised fares five cents, gaining important knowledge about D.C. neighborhoods. That year, SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael (Black Power) transferred Barry to Atlanta, but he resigned and turned to the “Free D.C. Movement.” Free D.C. caused a number of businessmen and prominent members of the Board of Trade to break with the Board's opposition to home rule. The District's chief opponent of home rule, John McMillan of South Carolina, often cited Board of Trade opposition. Yet Barry grew in local popularity — a Washington Post poll in D.C. found Barry ranked fifth among black leaders who “had done the most for Negro people in the area.”

In 1966, Lou Harris surveyed metropolitan Washington residents for The Post. Harris found 69 percent of D.C. residents supported home rule — but only 45 percent of Caucasians. Support by African-Americans in the region was strong — 84 percent. Support in the region was 52 percent (51 percent of residents of Montgomery, 34 percent Prince George's, 39 percent Arlington, and 37 percent of Fairfax Counties). Harris said respondents who opposed home rule feared higher taxes, corruption, less federal aid, and African-American control of the Capital. Reasons people gave for supporting home rule were that Washington would be better governed by people who know and live with its problems, everyone should have a voice in their own government, lack of local government in the Nation's Capital was tarnishing America's image oversees, and home rule would result in better housing, better schools, and higher morale among District residents. D.C. was granted limited home rule by Congress in December 1973 — and, according to Colbert King (The Post, 1/26/84), never did the issue of distrust of a majority black electorate openly surface in either house. In 1984, King wrote in “Home Rule Is Now 10 Years Old and It Feels Good” that of 69 Senators who voted for the home rule bill, only 14 remained, and of the 343 who supported in the House, just over 100 were still in office. He wrote, D.C. “could find itself thrown back to where it was more than 10 years ago: having to make the case anew for self government.” Ten years later (1994), The Wirthlin Group found 61 percent of D.C. and 72 percent of suburban residents describing the situation in D.C. as “a major crisis — not just some problems.” They found the majority of both D.C. (77 percent) and suburban (53 percent) residents approved of increasing the federal payments to D.C., and 75 percent in D.C. and 60 percent in the suburbs supported having the federal government pay for state services. Under half in D.C. (48 percent) and the suburbs (42 percent) supported having the federal government take over state services. D.C. residents supported a 2 percent tax on non-residents (67 percent), but only 22 percent of suburban residents agreed. Just after a Control Board was given authority over D.C.'s government (1997), a national poll of U.S. adults I designed found 86 percent thought “D.C. citizens should have the right to elect their own local officials.” In the same study, 43 percent percent agreed that, “If the locally elected city government of Washington, D.C. is poorly managed, the federal government should take over and put different leaders in charge, because it is the nation's capital — just over half (51 percent) disagreed. There were no race differences on these questions. A year later, when D.C. residents were asked how the Control Board was handling its job (Washington Post 1998 poll), 34 percent of African-Americans and 59 percent of Caucasians approved. But race differences disappeared when it came to putting the Control Board permanently in charge — just over 70% of both groups opposed the idea. A Post poll in February 2000 asked who had the most power in D.C. government these days — 56 percent said Congress. When asked who SHOULD have the most power, 51 percent said the Mayor, 17 percent the Council, 12 percent both Mayor and Council. In the 1998 mayoral elections, Mayor Williams promised citizens he would stand his ground if Congress tried to move the goal posts they set for the return of D.C. home rule after four consecutive balance budgets.


CBS New Show “The District”
Ed T. Barron,

Perhaps the best thing the residents of the real District can do on the opening night of the show is to turn off their television sets completely. Somehow this will register with the automated polling elements of the TV industry and should send a clear message that we don't accept the characterization that the show “The District” depicts for the District of Columbia. It would also not hurt if the Mayor would register a formal protest via a letter to CBS with a copy to the Post and to the NY Times. There's already enough Congressmen and Senators unjustly trashing our city.



Ask the Mayor
Jim Farley, VP News and Programming, WTOP Radio,

Got a problem with DC? Ask the guy in charge. DC Mayor Tony Williams takes questions live for an hour Thursday morning at 10 am on the monthly “Ask the Mayor” program on WTOP Radio, 1500 AM or 107.7 FM, or listen on-line at The number to call to ask a question is 895-5065 (but not until 10 am on Thursday). We here at WTOP read themail every week and yes, we get story ideas here.


Come Out for the Wash
Robin Bingham,

Hey everyone, this is going to be really a good time, and a great help to The Wash, the arts rag I run with two friends out of an Adams Morgan living room. I hope you all can make it, its much much better than donating to NPR (and more fun, too). Benefit for The Wash, DC's free arts journal, Sunday, August 27, 7 pm on, at the DC Arts Center on Eighteenth Street just south of Columbia Road. Music, food, drinks, spoken word poetry and lots of greatness. Featuring local bands, (including Vice Versa) a film, and the most poetic entertainers in town. $10 donation at the door, or $15 to buy a T-shirt along with entry. $2 for drinks. Hope to see you all there, Robin, Susie and Nijole, editors of The Wash.


“The Great White Hope”
David Sobelsohn,

Footlights — DC's only drama discussion group — meets monthly to discuss plays from the modern theater. Participation is free. On Wednesday, September 13, we will discuss Howard Sackler's “The Great White Hope” (1967). This fact-based Pulitzer Prize-winning play portrays the rise and fall of the first African-American world heavyweight champion, whose pugilistic prowess and interracial romances spurred a racist society to destroy him. “Irresistible” (New Yorker), a “triumph” (New York Times), “The Great White Hope” is so “thrilling” it can “take an audience's breath away” (New York Daily News). Our discussion takes place 7:30-9:30 p.m. (dinner at 6:30) at Luna Books, 1633 P St., NW, 3 blocks E of Dupont Circle. It will feature director Molly Smith. To make reservations for our discussion E-mail or call 638-0444. For discount tickets ($28) to the Thursday September 21, 8 p.m., performance and cast discussion of “The Great White Hope” at Arena Stage, 1101 6th St., SW (Waterfront Metro), E-mail or call 301-897-9314. For general information about Footlights, visit



American Humanist Association Hiring!
Tony Hileman,

The American Humanist Association,, a progressive nonprofit located near Dupont Circle, has two immediate full-time openings. Become a part of our team and work in a cooperative, low-stress environment with benefits package. Work at your creative edge and grow with us as we relocate our national headquarters to Washington! (Fax resume to 238-9003.)

Bookkeeper/Database Manager: Full charge bookkeeping responsibilities require solid experience with QuickBooks, monthly statements and budgeting procedures. Also maintain membership/subscription lists on Access database.

Design/Layout/Write/Edit/Proof: Full creative responsibility for newsletters, promotional, and membership materials. Also copyediting and proofreading for our philosophical, social issues magazine with a print run of 18,000. Must know PageMaker. Webmaster skills a plus.



Glass Aquarium
Liz Hoopes,

Perfect condition. Dimensions are 30w x 12h x 12d. Willing to donate to school or charity. Call 338-1585 or E-mail.



Great New Blues Club, Smokeless

Smokeless at 617 I. St. NW is a great new blues club. They do not allow smoking. The cover is $5 on Friday and Saturday. They feature Washington artists. I really enjoyed the music and ambiance. The food is fine. It's close to Metro. All in all a good experience. Support the local music scene.


Real Estate Agent Help
Gabriel Wiest,

I am ready to make a long term commitment to DC by becoming a home owner. Any recommendations on real estate agents in DC would be greatly appreciated. I currently live in Brookland, so I am looking in the neighborhood as well as Capitol Hill and Shaw/Logan Circle. Any help is greatly appreciated.


Plumber for Long-Range Relationship
Bell Clement,

Help! Seeking a plumber, before the household floats away: several immediate crises, but also looking to build a long-term relationship which would take in both big (future rehab) and little (future chores). Also seeking electrician and carpenter/cabinet maker. Can anybody help me with some referrals? Does themail archive all the past good suggestions?

[In answer to Ms. Clement's second question, you can search the archives of themail using the form at However, many people answer the recommendations questions privately, and don't send copies of their suggestions to themail. Again, I'd ask anyone who has really good suggestions for any of these frequent questions to share them with us all. — Gary Imhoff]


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
EXILE FROM MAIN STREET: The proprietors of a methadone clinic proposed for Good Hope Road SE in historic Anacostia certainly never expected a warm embrace from residents of the surrounding neighborhood. Still, they looked a bit shell-shocked when confronted with the hostility that boiled over at a hearing on the clinic last Tuesday before the city's State Health Planning and Development Agency.
Clinical Director Darryl Satterwhite sat before a packed crowd and attempted to convince the detractors that their opposition to the facility, known as the Good Hope Institute, was ill-informed. “A lot of you really, really have a misunderstanding of what we're trying to do,” said Satterwhite, who vowed that the clinic would assist local heroin addicts with the “physical, mental, and even spiritual aspects of recovery.”
Satterwhite had much more to say, and Anacostians didn't care to hear any of it. “This is our ward; we don't want it,” jeered one man.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
FRIDAY: The Road to Morocco, starring Bob & Bing, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, at the Library of Congress' Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free.
MONDAY: Travesty Films: From Here to Obscurity, 9:30 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $5.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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