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December 10, 2000

Breaking News

Dear Newshounds:

Here at themail, we frequently scoop the news outlets because we live where the news happens, and we know better than anyone what's happening in our own neighborhoods. But today I want to beak a little news about what's happening at 1 Judiciary Square.

Anyone who has dealt with the Office of the Corporation Counsel, the city government's law office, knows that it has serious problems of management, competency, and professional conduct. Now, the Appleseed Center has released a new report about the OCC that — though it is restrained by the professional courtesy that makes lawyers reluctant to speak honestly of each others' shortcomings — is essentially scathing. The release of the Appleseed report has led the OCC to release both its own internal survey and an external report done for it by a legal consulting firm. Surprise — the internal OCC survey is, if anything, even more damning and outspoken than the Appleseed report.

While all three reports agree on one thing — lawyers are seriously underpaid and shouldn't be asked to scrape by on mere middle-class salaries — the more serious problems of accountability and mismanagement shine through. Read about it tomorrow in the newspapers, or read the reports themselves today at

Gary Imhoff


My City
Lawrence Wells,

Somehow I got this E-mail during my stint in Cairo Egypt. And though I live in the burbs now, I've considered Washington my home for over 30 years. I was born and raised in one of those industrial cities you mentioned, Pittsburgh. But the moment I set foot in Washington, 1970, I knew I had found my home. For one, I was thrilled by the constant stream of new ideas. One of my first and strongest memories of Washington as a student was walking the streets of Georgetown and hearing people pass by discussing economic theory, social theory, “the problem with....” stuff and offering sometimes old and sometimes radically new ideas of how to solve the city's and the nation's problems. Some, even, in different languages.

For another, the way I got to know Washington was to walk it. Over one of my first weekends, I set off with a map and walked from AU to the National Cathedral, down Georgia past Howard, back along Florida Avenue to 14th, down to the monuments and Mall, then up Connecticut, crossing to Mass and back to AU. Took about 8 hours. Took another weekend to do Adams Morgan and Georgetown. Yes, flying in to Washington, I pray for the Potomac River approach over Georgetown. It always set me smiling. But I know I'm home when I walk the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Since graduation in 1974, I've lived in Washington, Virginia, and Maryland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Beirut, San Salvador, New York. And while each brought a promotion or new assignment, I always pushed to come home -- to Washington. My last assignment was New York, and after three years of the constant negativism and concrete gray, I called it quits. I packed my apartment, and headed south until I could park the car down near Georgetown. And then I walked, and watched, and listened: To green trees, and people NOT looking over their shoulders, hearing new discussions and arguments over problems and ways to solve them -- in my city, Washington, DC.


Local Color
Steph “Remembers the temporary buildings on the mall” Faul,

I find it interesting that people who have been here for less than a year are commenting on DC's “cultural identity.¨ While newcomers often do have better perceptions of the current state of affairs than locals whose memories go farther back, I doubt that they have any deep understanding of what it means to have grown up in Washington.

Memories include: Segregated want ads in the Washington Post: “Help Wanted, White Men. Help Wanted, Black Men.” etc. I remember wishing I were black because the jobs under "Black Women" looked much more interesting than "clerk," which is what most of the white women's jobs seemed to be. When Kennedy was shot we went down and stood around in front of the White House in the rain, wondering what to do next. There WAS nothing to do, so to fill the time my mother took us to the Avalon theater, where we saw “The Mouse that Roared” with Peter Sellers. I noticed that the adults weren't laughing all that much. On summer evenings we would go down to the Watergate, the REAL Watergate which is the steps near the Lincoln Memorial. Rock Creek Parkway was closed off and military bands would play in a band shell anchored in the Potomac. We always sat on the steps; there were chairs for people who always seemed more important than we were. When I was 15 there was an election, the first I'd ever seen of any kind anywhere. (We'd lived overseas for a year in 1960.) I wasn't sure what the whole point was, but I did know that Johnson was good and Goldwater was bad and I had a boyfriend who wanted to work on the campaign. So I went to a Johnson campaign office down on K Street and helped run a Qwip machine (the precursor to the fax) and a teletype that used punched paper tape. As a reward I was invited to the White House and shook hands with Lady Bird Johnson -- the first time I'd ever been in the White House. Then in high school when we wanted to go someplace and hang out and smoke cigarettes and practice dance steps, we would go to the Jefferson Memorial, because it's open all night and has a nice view and there's plenty of parking at 11 p.m. We stood and looked sulkily at the Tidal Basin and complained that there was nothing to do in this stupid town. Last one: about six years ago I was in the silver market in Vientiane, Laos, shopping with a friend for a silver belt. One of the stalls had a television going to amuse the owner's young son, and it was showing a Thai program about popular music. Suddenly there was a picture of Sonny Bono and the U.S. Capitol and I got an overwhelming flash of homesickness, tinged with pride that no matter where I went in the world I could always see a picture of my home town.

There's more of course, but I'd say being a native here means we share several rather unconventional attitudes: first, we're just not that interested in national politics except as it affects our city. Second, we feel a sense of ownership about the monuments and public buildings that other Americans cannot know. Yeah, in theory they're yours, sure, but they're in OUR town. Third, black and white, we have more in common with each other than we do with the carpetbaggers who come in and try to pretend they're locals. When natives ask “Where did you go to school?” we mean high school, because that's the school that counts. You can go to college anywhere. But if you went to Hine or Sidwell or School Without Walls, that puts you into a framework we can understand.

And to all of you who say, “Well, I've lived here 20 years, so I FEEL like a native,” I say: In your dreams.


Growing Up in Washington
James E. Taylor, Jr.,

I remember growing up in this city (Anacostia), proudly stating when asked, “I am from the nation's capital.” The city was racially divided, which made it culturally divided. I don't remember any incidents of mean spiritedness about being black, but I knew that there were certain no-no's, such as sitting down in Woolworths to eat, no going to the White Tower hamburger stand, the upper balcony in theaters, when they weren't full to capacity. No Glen Echo Park visits, and up until a mini race riot, no swimming pools east of the river until Fairlawn was opened with blacks buying ax handles from the Miller's Hardware located at Martin Luther King, Jr. (formally Nichols Avenue) Avenue and Sheridan Road. What I remember most was that Congress used to treat this city as a model for visitors because we had everything, including recreational facilities, black-owned cleaners/shoe shop, fuel/coal store, DGS stores, and several Jewish-owned stores who were then closely associated with black communities. We had a theater, Chinese laundry, Japanese plant house, sit-down restaurants, Galloway's Liquors, and even a place where the community elders got together on a regular basis to see who could tell the biggest lie about fishing while eating oysters, and bragging about their manhood as a result. Police walked the beat. The entire community knew each policeman and the policeman knew the people, including who sold whiskey on the side and the numbers houses where you could place a bet. The joke among the youngsters in the community was seeing the police walk down Howard Road and back and often with a swagger, as the result of stopping at the illegal alcohol places. We knew, however, that we didn't violate laws no matter which direction they were coming from. We as youngsters were reminded daily in school that we were the nation's third cleanest city and we took pride in this. I think the cultural identity of this city is still in transition for people who have moved here in the past twenty years, or so. I say that home is often your heart is. The price of freedom has cost, and deprived this city of any cultural identity because few people know the rich and proud history of its past, and most elected officials don't have a clue how to move it forward with this in mind.


DC, Where You Can Read All About It
Lois Kirkpatrick,

Like many DC-area residents, I grew up as a DOD Brat, moving from school to school in Okinawa, California, New Jersey, Missouri, etc. Most of my US history classes consisted of reading about stuff that might as well have happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Kids who grow up in the DC area study US history that actually happened in their neighborhoods. Makes it more alive and real, IMO.


Nude Bars
Richard Urban,

In 1998 when the relocation of a strip bar on the 1700 block of H Street, NW, caused a challenge to the moratorium on nude bars, Council member Sharon Ambrose said, “I'm never going to vote for it, because I do not want to encourage any more licenses of that sort. If we keep excusing people and allowing people to move then we're defeating the purposes of the moratorium.” However, regarding the current effort to revoke the moratorium, Ambrose said, “I'm not prepared to set myself up as the arbiter of taste, and I'm certainly not the arbiter of morals,” Apparently, the difference is that she was opposed to heterosexual strip bars, but not to homosexual ones. Ambrose asked a member of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance to be on the task force that worked on the bill, and members of the alliance lobbied heavily for the bill.

Both homosexual and heterosexual nude bars are undesirable, and the lifting of the moratorium on liquor licenses for nude bars should be defeated. The moratorium needs to be kept in place.


Is There Really a “William Reed”?
Steph “fictitious character herself” Faul,

On the back page of today's D.C. section (December 7) appears a full-page ad signed by "William Reed, President, Business Exchange Network." It might interest y'all to know that a Nexis search for "William Reed" and "Business Exchange Network" for all news sources and all the years in the database produced only four stories -- all but one of which involved the tower controversy. (The outlier was from 1993.) Want to guess who paid for the Post ad? But y'll knew that.


Print Ads
E. James Lieberman,

I sent the following memo today to Customer Relations, Hecht's. “Re: Print Advertising. I am canceling my Hecht's credit card and urge others to do the same to protest the large amount of print advertising by your store. As I bundle the papers each week for recycling I think of the number of pages that you buy, and the cost in trees. The extensive mailings I receive add to this, and at least I can decrease that part by signing off. Let me know if you have any plans to decrease this kind of advertising. Why not try fewer/smaller ads and lower prices with the money saved?”


Ann Van Aken,

When an upcoming business tries to get as many new customers as possible to get their business off the ground, sometimes service suffers. I ordered StarPower because it sounded better than what is currently available, and I ordered it a month ahead of my move to D.C., just to make sure that I would have cable the day I moved in.

But it was not to be. Four days after my move in and endless calls to StarPower to schedule technicians (one of whom lied to StarPower and said that there was nobody home; I was here all day and the front desk assured me that nobody from StarPower had come), I canceled. It seems to me that StarPower should at least make sure that technicians (who they subcontract from Erols) are honest and on time.


November Marks a Key Shift in DC’s Economic Development
Len Sullivan,

DC's good news in November was all about economic development, marking the beginning of a significant shift towards Anacostia and the metro area's Southeast Quadrant. The bad news was all about the glacial pace of improving DC's quality of life. In between was some disappointing evidence of superficial long-range planning and local legislative expedience. Is DC shooting for excellence, or just plain mediocrity? These topics and others are developed in the December update of the NARPAC web site at Even if you don't want to read it all, please come by and give us some feedback to celebrate the completion of our third full year on the web.



Last Ditch Effort to Save DC General
Sharon Roach,

There are a lot of rallies going on through out the city to save our only public hospital from closing. The purpose of each of these events is to get the attention of the Mayor who has ignored all attempts of the citizens to voice their concern to him. This blatant disregard of the citizens demands is a mockery of our civil rights. As a last ditch effort a massive protest has been scheduled for December 15. This protest will be different from the other protests. We need the support of all community organizations and concerned citizens to let the Mayor know that we demand to be heard and we want our hospital open. For more information, instructions, and the opportunity to sign up to speak on this event, please call Sister Sharon at 986-9605.


Invitation to CHIME Benefit
Dorothy Marschak,

CHIME (Community Help In Music Education) invites you to tryst and sing, Monday, December 18, from 6-9 PM, Tryst Coffee House, 2459 18th Street. Entertainment provided by CHIME volunteers and students; songs by CHIME's singing classes at Marie Reed taught by Jack Upper, former Director, World Bank-IMF Chorus; community sing led by volunteer Cynthia Lin, who teaches free CHIME Saturday piano and voice class; instrumental entertainment by CHIME LIGHTS jazz trio, Marie Reed music teacher Alan Clipper and friends. Come enjoy and make a donation to keep CHIME ringing.

CHIME is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) that mobilizes community resources to promote and provide access to music education for all DC public schoolchildren inside and outside school. For more information, E-mail, or visit



AmeriCorps Positions
Ernest Yombo,

The Latin American Youth Center, AmeriCorps Program is looking for five young men and women who are willing to serve their community. AmeriCorps member benefits: skills for the future (leadership, teamwork, and more); a $4,725 education award at completion of 1700 hours of service-for college, graduate or vocational school, or to pay off education loans; deferment of educational debts during service; a stipend for living expenses. For more information, please call the office at 319-8641 or come in for program overview. or visit the LAYC web page at



PJ Harvey at the Black Cat: Tickets?
Jason Ziedenberg,

Love to get tickets to PJ Harvey on Tuesday night, if you are looking to unload them. I'll take one or two. Contact Jason 737-7270, ext. 232.



Ping Pong Table
Philip J. Greene,

Ping Pong table by Harvard (originally sold by Sears). It has playback option ability and it is on wheels and can fold in half for easy storage. Top quality and in excellent condition. Net and paddles included. Originally sold for 250.00. Asking 175.00 or best offer. We can store it until Christmas. or 703-319-9262, ask for Debbie.



Ed Kane,

Some time back, I remember seeing, and I believe it was in these distinguished pages, information about a small company in the DC area that handled assembly problems, i. e., the assembly of items such as disassembled exercise machines, etc.

I need some help in this field now, and would much appreciate any recommendation fellow readers may have.


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