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October 18, 2000

Keeping Appointments

Dear Neighbors:

Perhaps the most important talent that any boss can have is the ability to recognize, attract, hire, and keep good employees. In his first two years as Mayor, judged by that standard, Tony Williams has been an abject failure. Here's a pencil and paper game for Washingtonians. Write the names of all the outstanding administrators whom Williams has appointed to head any departments and agencies. After you've given up, use the same blank page to write the names of failed administrators whom he has defended and kept in office long after their problems have become obvious to everyone else. After you've filled the page, try to figure out what the problem is.

Nobody can make good hires consistently, without exception. But you can check out resumes, and find out when someone has a bad reputation, or has invented job titles or awards and honors. This administration doesn't do that, and instead defends the people who submit phony resumes. You can set standards, hold your appointees to those standards, and show publicly that those employees are accountable — both to the administration and to the public — to meet those standards. And this administration hasn't done that. Accountability was the mantra of this administration. It still is, if your definition of “mantra” is “an empty, meaningless slogan.” If you made a bad appointment, you made a mistake. If you knowingly keep a bad appointee in office, then you don't know how to correct a mistake, and that's worse.

Gary Imhoff


We Should Have a Reader’s Contest
John Olinger, North Lincoln Park,

What pictures does Parks and Recreation Director Newman have of Anthony Williams?


Get Real, Mr. Mayor
Alix Murdoch,

Guess what — the training that Newman spent all that money on in Arizona could have been provided by the same company (NRPA — see at $300 a person in Maryland. He could have trained 166 boondogglers (or whatever you called them) for that $50,000 if he had bothered to worry about cost. Oh, but do we need that many playground inspectors? Do we have that many playgrounds? Who would know, since Mr. Newman's own list of the city's parks and playgrounds is inaccurate.


The First District 1 School Board Candidates Forum
Anthony Watts,

I attended the first District One School Board Candidates Forum, held about a week or so ago at the George Washington Hillel House Auditorium. Here are the Ward 1 School Board candidates, with (very) brief summaries of some of their comments: 1) Anne Wilcox. She is a former school board member (1994-1998) who emphasized her previous experience as a learning process. She is currently an attorney with the D.C. Superior Court. She said that “working well together” should be a SB priority; she also mentioned that she supports charter schools, but with limits. Also made a strong push for the “highest possible” curriculum standards. 2) Lenwood Johnson. At-Large member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, Columbia Heights ANC Member. Mr. Johnson emphasized building new schools and increasing teachers' salaries. 3) Mr. Harvey Jones. I believe that Mr. Jones stated that he was, at some previous point in time, Chief Realtor and Asset Management Head of DCPS. He definitely stated that he was a retired teacher. 4) Thomas Smith. A D.C. native with three children either in or graduated from DCPS. Emphasized his D.C. roots and “working class” background. He stated he would combat the massive “economic disinvestment” from our schools with a “reinvestment of money“ for “books, bathrooms...” and the like. 5) Julia Mikuta. Very interesting candidate in terms of her qualifications. She is a former captain of the Georgetown women's basketball team who is now a science and math teacher in D.C. She is Director of Curriculum at the DC SEED Charter School. Perhaps most impressively, she is a former Rhodes Scholar who emphasized global education policy and participated in the 1999 Congressional roundtable on recruiting and retaining science and math teachers. 6) Linda Softli. Chair of the Adams Morgan ANC, who worked extensively in the private sector at IBM. Ms. Softli emphasized that “radical changes” in the school system must take place. One of those changes, she said, should be making many schools into adult-education centers after regular school hours. 7) Malcolm Lovell. A member of the D.C. Appleseed group that produced a lengthy report about possible school board restructuring. Emphasized bringing a “more conciliatory tone” to the school board.

A couple of notes: 1.) I was generally impressed with the overall qualifications of the group as a whole. 2) The only person that I absolutely ruled out after this forum was Thomas Smith. Why? He made two comments that I found to be highly suspect. The first was that a major problem with the D.C. schools is “economic disinvestment.” I am not at all sure of this. The fact is that per-pupil spending in D.C. is over $10,000 per student, well above the national average (by several thousand dollars, I think). It seems to me that the real problem is mismanagement of the funds already in the system. Also, he actually attempted to downplay talk of a “crisis” in DCPS. If I had to paraphrase his statement, it would be something like this: “There's all this talk of crisis here, and we have our problems; but also, let's look at other places right around here. We just had a situation out in, where was it, Montgomery County, where you had these schools cheating on their standardized tests.” (Again, I am paraphrasing.) I am afraid that as an observer at this forum, I was amazed at this statement. The DCPS dropout rate is conservatively estimated at 40 percent. Throw in the students who graduate as functional illiterates, and we have a school system that is utterly failing a clear majority of students — say 60 percent — before we even get into policy details. That is by definition a crisis of a magnitude that I do not believe any surrounding school district even approaches.

The next District 1 School Board Candidates Forum will be held October 19, at the 3rd District Police Station, 1620 V Street, NW. The forum start time is 6:30 p.m. Candidates for SB President will also be present. I strongly suggest that concerned citizens from Wards 1 and 2 attend.


Ray Brown for Shadow Senator
Patrick Pellerin,

Last week when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower courts’ ruling that DC residents do not have a constitutional right to a voting representative in Congress, Ray Browne, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative (Shadow), said he was disappointed because he believes that most fair-minded Americans would agree that the residents of our city deserve the same rights as all other U.S. citizens. It is a position that Ray has held for years, one that is the centerpiece of his campaign for U.S. Representative (Shadow) for the District of Columbia, and is why I urge everyone to support him in this race.

He said, in light of this decision, it is clear that we will now have to turn to a political solution to remedy the situation. As our representative, Browne believes that his job will be to coordinate all the forces in our city — our political leaders, the business community and labor — to be on the same page and be committed. Always the activist, Ray's plans are to rally the city in support of a vote in Congress and to carry that message out to the rest of the country. Accomplishing all these tasks will always be at the top of Ray's agenda until we gain a vote in Congress.

Ray is a native of the District of Columbia, growing up in the Trinidad section of the city, and has a long and impressive record of success in both the private and public sectors. He lives with his wife, Barbara, and their two children in Northwest DC.


Shadow Representative
Ed T. Barron,

Although this elected position is one of the lesser events in this year's local elections, I have found a candidate that I will actually vote for. In one of the last elections for this position I wrote in the name “Lamont Cranston” (I'm sure that name will ring a bell with some of the actuarially unchallenged readers) since I did not know anything about any of the candidates on the ballot. This year I do know the Democratic candidate, Ray Browne. Although Ray is both a Democrat AND in favor of D.C. Statehood, I will still vote for him based on his past record of service in local politics, his personality, and his ability to communicate and work with people he will have to influence in Congress.


Adams v. Clinton
George S. LaRoche,

The Supreme Court issued a terse decision Monday morning “affirming” the three-judge District Court which dismissed the claims made in Adams v. Clinton last March. Unfortunately, since the District Court had limited its analysis to the issues and arguments presented in Alexander v. Daley (then consolidated with Adams), we cannot derive any lessons how the Supreme Court might have evaluated the issues and arguments presented in Adams. In light of the question presented in Adams and the nature of legal precedents, however, the Supreme Court's decision does protect — if not stand for — the proposition that Congress can continue to segregate the people of the District of Columbia from millions of people who reside in thousands of other places where Congress has identical constitutional powers and treat District residents as inferior, second-class citizens.

The precise question presented to the Supreme Court in Adams v. Clinton was whether Appellants’ rights to the equal protection of the laws are violated because Congress has not included them in existing apportionments of congressional districts, while all other people over whom Congress holds or has held identical powers under the Constitution are included in apportionments of congressional districts, and are so in the same manner and on the same terms as all citizens of the United States are included in such apportionments.

Congress has had the same power over millions of people all over the United States as Congress has over the people of the District of Columbia. Two generations ago, all those people were in the same boat as the people of the District of Columbia. This means that (as presented to the Supreme Court) they were not included in apportionments of congressional districts. They were segregated from the rest of the people of the United States. Today, all those people are included in apportionments of congressional districts for the several States; all those people are citizens of States. Only the residents of the District of Columbia remain segregated from the rest of the country, as well as segregated from all the other people over whom Congress holds or has held the same powers under the Constitution.

All we asked in Adams v. Clinton is whether this passes constitutional muster. If it does not, then Congress could remedy the problem either by granting the rights of the residents of the District of Columbia or by withdrawing the rights of all other, similarly situated people; i.e., either include the residents of the District in apportionments of congressional districts in the same manner as all other, similarly situated people, or exclude all other similarly situated people from apportionments (as they once were excluded). The government did not submit a shred of evidence showing why Congress must continue to segregate the people of the District from everyone else in the country. Since the lower court only analyzed one of the two cases before it (Alexander), the claims and questions presented in the other
(Adams) remain unanswered. This is more deeply troubling when it's noted that if the courts had thought the claims and arguments presented in Adams were erroneous or faulty, the courts certainly had the intelligence and skill to say why.

Thus, as was the case in the days of slavery and as was the case in the days of peonage and segregation, the courts' silence in the face of pleas to consider challenges to the status quo is more troubling than clear and direct statements why the status quo must or may continue.


Strategy for Independence from Congress
Mark Richards, Dupont East,

I applaud Congressman Norton, the Mayor, and the full Council for putting a strategy for DC voting rights and independence from Congress on the table today. Leadership and unity are very important. My understanding is that, thanks to Article I and the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, DC has no Constitutional guarantee to equal voting rights in Congress, because Congressional representatives are only elected by “the People of the several STATES.” My understanding is that there are three ways for DC to change its status and gain voting rights in Congress — retrocession to the State of Maryland, become a state, or pass a Constitutional Amendment (Article V). Being in a state or being a state would guarantee equality. An Amendment could be written so that DC citizens would be treated the same as citizens living in other states (as proposed by Timothy Cooper), or providing for more limited voting rights as some Republicans in Congress have supported. Yet I believe the elected official proposal involves Congresswoman Norton introducing twin bills in the next Congress, one of which assumes Congress has the authority to grant DC the right to vote in the Senate and the House via legislation. But can this theory pass Constitutional muster? I'm doubtful. And assuming Congress does have the power to grant DC (and the Territories) equal voting rights in Congress via legislation, this means they have the exact same power to take away our rights for “bad” behavior, or having a “wrong” opinion on a vote (just as they did with the vote in the Committee of the Whole). In any case, other aspects outlined in the elected official strategy — including renewed efforts to gain budgetary and legislative autonomy, a commuter tax credit for DC, and the establishment of a working group to develop strategies — sound like good ones.

Here are some simple ideas: (1) build local consensus, trust, and teamwork (the No. 1 issue — this can't be a top-down or Decide-Announce-Defend approach), (2) develop a clear and effective message strategy (tested among the audience to be targeted, (3) inform the American public about our dilemma — they support the principle of one person one vote, (4) embarrass the U.S. government in the “Court of International Public Opinion,” and (5) lay the groundwork for the time when the makeup of the federal government is such that we can change our status to be equal to other citizens living in states. At base, having a strong economy is the key to DC's autonomy. Without that, even many DC citizens will fear change.


Thar She Blows
Ed T. Barron,

Well, it's like a big coffee percolator rather than a gusher. The new "fountain" at the AU Law School Building entrance is now on line and it is more like a desktop water bubbler than a real fountain. The ambient noise from Massachusetts Avenue during any normal awake hours is high enough to mask the soothing, soft bubbling sounds that the water bubbler must be producing. I guess if I'm in need of some relaxing sounds of water flowing I'll have to stay up way past my normal bedtime. I did toss in my three shiny coins to honor the occasion, however.


Thanks for a Job Well Done
Andrew Tarpgaard,

I'd like to acknowledge and thank two D.C. government employees for doing their jobs well. This messages here almost always focus on what goes wrong, so I just want to point out two cases of jobs well done. The two problems I had were with a couple of street lights that were out and some trash that had been dumped on my street. Brenda Kinney, who handled the street lights, and Investigator Chavous, who is with the environmental crimes unit, acted quickly and efficiently to solve the problems once they were aware of them. When I spoke to them on the phone they were professional and polite and had the problem solved within days of becoming aware of the problem.

Having said that, it often takes too long to find the right individual in the government who can solve a particular problem. We still need some improvement here, but this problem is common in almost every large organization and is not unique to the D.C. government. That doesn't take away from the fact that these folks did their jobs well. Let's see if we can't find some more examples out there of jobs well done.


Krispy Kreme and /dev/null
Dan Turner,

Krispy Kreme is one of the most brilliant food-service companies I've encountered. They deliberately have a small number of stores. They never have enough counterpeople to handle the volume when the light is on. The light is on regularly (every few hours, 24 hours a day in some places). They have built buzz by delivering hot, fairly expensive donuts to people who have no time to wait but who will wait when the donuts are hot. It's amazing. The company, for you who play the market, is publicly traded. I have no idea how it's doing and own no stock in it (more's the pity).

And is /dev/null something regular folks understand? I noticed it in Austin Kelly's last post. I'm happy to see it myself, but I'm a geek. Is the concept part of the vernacular now? If you don't know, /dev/null is the null device, used when you don't want the results of a command to go anywhere useful. See


Walk and Don’t Walk
Ted LeBlond,

Re: GW Hospital. I don't know why the BZA is all up in arms about pedestrians in Foggy Bottom anyway. I work down that way and drive through the Circle twice daily. I would say 99.999% of the people that walk around down there cross the circle and streets when the lights are green and the don't walk signs CLEARLY say DON’T WALK. I don't know if it's just me or what, but each circle seems to be different in terms of whether or not people and traffic yield and cross properly, and the Foggy Bottom Circle is the worst in my opinion.


The Milieu of the CBS’s the District
J.O. Crane,

A fictional representation such as the new TV show represents a particular viewpoint set in a unique milieu provided by our humble auteurs. In regards to other shows, The X Files has many episodes set in Washington, represented by Vancouver in the first seasons and most recently by Los Angeles. Although The X Files does not comment on local politics, many episodes show a much different geography. Scully's commute from Annapolis is very quick. All the recent discussion about the new show makes me nostalgic for the short lived Hawk, in which, for a few Saturday nights in 1989, Avery Brooks was romping around DC with lots of registered firearms (again, a unique milieu) and smashing cars on Columbia Road. Perhaps Craig T. Nelson can bring Hawk on as one of his consulting detectives. He would be a nice contrast to the Ulster detective.


Another Point of View about “The District”
Lawanda Randall,

What tourism impact have TV shows had on New York City's, Miami's and LA's images?


Red Call Boxes
Lynda Lantz,

I'm looking for information about the empty red emergency/police call boxes scattered throughout the city. I seem to remember that a group/or some folks were interested in preserving these. Does anyone have contact information related to this?


October 2000 InTowner
Peter Wolfe,

This is to let you know that the October, 2000 on-line edition has been up-loaded and may be accessed at Included are the community news stories, crime reports, 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 November 10, and the web site will be updated within a few days following. To read the lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines:

Historic U Street Corridor Focus for New Rentals, Condos; Rehabbing of Older Buildings. Sparking New Uses. Adams Morgan Group Uncovers “Deal” with DC for 18th Street Garage. Dupont North Gets Boost; New Theater Lights Up Once Dreary Florida Avenue. Court Orders R Street Buildings Cleaned-up; A Win for Neighbors.



Bridge Bike Tour
Terry Cordaro,

Join the City Guild of Washington for a bike tour of the bridges of DC this Saturday, October 21, 9 am until 12 pm. Hosted by Bike the Sites ( Call Gary, 966-8662, by 12 pm Thursday Oct. 19 to RSVP. Price is $35. Those without bicycles can get them as part of the price for the ride, but cost is $35 regardless of whether participants have bicycles. Books, water and helmet also included.


Historic Chevy Chase D.C. Event
William Hopper,

Creative Spaces, an artist's studio tour, will be held on Sunday afternoon, October 29, from 1 to 4 p.m., with a reception to follow at the Chevy Chase Arcade. Historic Chevy Chase D.C., Inc., will sponsor an up close and personal tour of ten studios belonging to a variety of well-known artists, including sculptors, painters, and a mix of others active in the creative arts. Artist's Studios in Chevy Chase, D.C.? In a community thought to be home to lawyers and government workers? Here reside nationally and internationally known artists who create a wide spectrum of work in an equally wide variety of media.

This tour will give an unprecedented chance to visit a select group of artists in their personal space to see where they create their art, and in some cases see their personal art collections. These creative spaces are often hidden behind wonderful gardens, or ensconced in historic homes. This tour will offer you a rare glimpse into the artists and the private spaces where they create. Note: due to the fact that this is a tour of working artists studios where tools, fragile objects or other items may be present, this tour is not open to children under the age of 13. Tickets are $25 per person, and will be available beginning at 11 am in front of the Chevy Chase Arcade, 5520 Connecticut Avenue, NW. As a prelude to the tour, a lecture will be given by select participating artists on Thursday evening, October 26, at 7:30 at the Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Avenue NW, located at the corner of McKinley Street and Connecticut Avenue NW. For more information, contact Krystyna Edmondson, Historic Chevy Chase D.C., Inc., 363-4311, fax 966-7879, E-mail


Eastern Market Fall Festival Activities This Weekend

On Friday, October 20, at 7:00 p.m., Boris Karloff's 1931 film, “Frankenstein,” will be shown at Market 5 Gallery in Eastern Market's North Hall. Refreshments: hot dogs, popcorn, bottled water, and juice, Cost: adults $5.00; children $2.50. On Saturday, October 21, a Cajun Costume Ball with the Savoir Faire Cajun Band will be held in Eastern Market's North Hall. Dance lessons from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m.; the dance from 8:30 to 11:00 p.m. Refreshments: bottled water, juice, snacks. Cost: $10.00. On Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22, Eastern Market History Tours will be given. Meet at the Eastern Market Preservation and Development Corporation membership table near the main entrance. Cost:: $5.00 for non-members; free to members. For further information, call 544-7870.


A Guide to Human Consciousness
Don Montagna, Washington Ethical Society,

The philosophy of Ethical Culture provides a useful guide to the capacities inherent in the human spirit that await our cultivation. Consider that even in the best of lifetimes only a small percent of human potential is ever utilized. Since we are all born without a “how to” manual, each person adopts a “theory” about how life works; these assumptions influence us even more than external circumstances. People can intentionally expand their “how to” manuals by studying what is known about eliciting the best in the human spirit and thereby themselves. Don Montagna, WES Senior Leader, will lead an exploration of insights from philosophy and religion that might increase our knowledge of ourselves and our ability to cultivate a good life. Sponsored by Washington Ethical Society. Tuesdays, October 24-December 19, 7:30-9:30 p.m.; 9 sessions – $180. To register, contact LifeWorks at 882-6650 x21,


DC Emancipation Day Hearing
Malcolm L Wiseman, Jr.,

The DC Council is asking citizens to offer testimony on the proposed legislation to make DC Emancipation Day an event annually celebrated on April 16th. The hearings will take place at the council chamber on October 19 at 10 a.m. The event has been organized and observed for the last several years to highlight our status as “the first freed, last free.” On April 16, 1862, slavery was abolished in DC, nine months prior to the official proclamation on January 1, 1863. Yet DC citizens still suffer under an oppressive yoke, that of continued disenfranchisement and congressional paternalism.



Babysitter Needed
Michael Stempel,

We are looking for a sitter or nanny for 1-1 days a week. It would be an ideal situation for a nanny with spare hours now that school is in session, or someone looking to “share” a nanny.



Moving Sale
John Shores,

Moving, and the following items need new homes immediately: couch (sofa bed, opens into queen-size bed), blue/green/peach/gray abstract pattern, clean, 80 wide x 35 tall x 32 deep, $90; microwave stand, white finish, two shelves with cabinet below, 42 tall x 25 wide x 15 deep, $25; bookcases, wooden, 3 upper shelves with 24" high cabinet below, oak finish, 72 tall x 30 wide x 12 deep, $40 each (have 3); TV stand, swivel top shelf, 25 inches high, $15; rowing machine, Exer-Mate 1050, 48" steel frame, 30" wide, sliding seat, adjustable resistance, $20. Call 546-4176 or E-mail



Greater Washington Metro Search Engine Still Serving!
T. Jr. Hardman, TJH Internet SP,

Greetings to all. First, we're still serving our neighbors with, the Greater Washington Metro Search Engine. Searching and indexing most District Government sites, as well as many of the neighborhood association web sites, and assorted opinion and review sites, including DCWatch. We've searched and indexed some 22830 objects (pages, etc.) from 54 local-interest servers.

Also, for those of you who once had — and still miss — UNIX shell accounts, we wish to announce Earthops.NET. All of the things you miss, such as a variety of shells, cron jobs, background execution, and CGI-BIN are available again! We don't offer dial-up, but if you can get to us by SSH (or telnet, for the brave or foolhardy), you can get a premiere account at http://earthops.NET — “Filling the Gap” for those who need shell, but don't want exorbitant fees. 24/7 via DSL at 384Kbps.


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
PUNCH DRUNK: Last week, Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose found herself in the same pickle as slumber-party planners at junior highs across this land. Ambrose, you see, had scheduled a meeting of her Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to consider legislation regulating D.C. liquor establishments.
Now, she just needed a few friends to show up for the event.
When the councilmember heard through back channels that a couple of key colleagues were planning on blowing off the meeting, she canceled the party — or, rather, she withdrew the legislation from consideration. The attendance clash is certain to be only the first of many large and small battles — from cafeteria-seating snubs to playground wedgies — as the council weighs a massive, complicated overhaul of the city's liquor laws.
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
FRIDAY: Robert B. Parker reads and signs copies of his new book Perish This at 12:30 p.m. at Olsson's Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free.
FRIDAY & SATURDAY: Arlington A Cappella Festival. Friday features Da Vinci's Notebook and Toxic Audio; Saturday, Oct. 21, features Minimum Wage and Naturally Seven. At 8 p.m., Rosslyn Spectrum Theater, 1611 N. Kent St., Arlington. $20.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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