Happy Old Year
Dear Auld Acquaintance:
As themail ends another year, we have several ongoing conversations: rating
Councilmembers, the character of the city, the evergreen favorite of providing basic city
services, and statehood versus representation versus retrocession. You can join in any of
these or, if they all bore you, start your own topic. This forum follows where you lead.
Sharon Ambrose and Constituent Services
Dennis A. Dinkel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Regarding the comment about calling your councilmember's office to complain about the
lack of recycling pickup, that may be all fine and good for anyone who has a responsive
council member. Does anyone in Sharon Ambrose's office know about the courtesy of replying
to constituent calls? Does anyone care? Several times I have had the (dis)pleasure of
attempting to contact Councilmember Ambrose. One time the person answering the phone
actually said, Haven't you called to complain about other things? as if I were
bothering them a bit too much. I wondered if the good Sharon Ambrose's staff thought we
were entitled to only one or a limited number of phone calls. Another call resulted in the
comment, So you think I can do something about this problem? Well, yes I do
expect you and your boss to do something! I pay your salaries. You work for me. Never has
anyone followed up on one of my calls in an attempt to do anything about my complaints. I
wonder if Ms. Ambrose will tolerate this type of action next year, when I believe she runs
for reelection? When she calls seeking my vote, there will be nobody
Kathy Patterson Needs to Deal With Terrance Gainer
David F. Power, email@example.com
I hope the new Council committee assignments take effect very early next year so
Councilmember Kathy Patterson can immediately begin oversight of the Metropolitan Police
Department (MPD) and the city's lawyers who are supposed to advise the MPD. There are
several well-known long-term problems caused by long-term, deliberate neglect; no one
should expect Ms. Patterson to solve those long-term problems soon. However, there is at
least one thing she can do immediately: start oversight of the MPD's unlawful activities
relating to the Presidential Inauguration.
Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer seems particularly out of control.
Gainer's concept of how to police legal protests is confused. Gainer's approach is bound
to cost D.C. taxpayers millions of dollars in damages, unless Ms. Patterson can quickly
steer the MPD to get appropriate legal advice. For example, Gainer admitted that MPD has
sent undercover casual clothes officers into private residences to attend and report on
private meetings of D.C. citizens. When one of the private citizens objected publicly to
the Post, Gainer told the Post, It would seem to me that these so-called
peaceful groups are doing counterintelligence work . . . . What nefarious things are they
up to that they need to keep tabs on police? Gainer should have consulted legal
counsel (if MPD has any) before sending police agents into private residences to listen
and report on private conversations concerning lawful citizen activity protected and
encouraged by the first amendment. Any law student who has covered the first and fourth
amendments will recognize that Gainer admitted to a per se violation of civil rights. The
FBI was forced to adopt specific rules against exactly what Gainer allowed his snitches to
do: police and FBI have no lawful right to breach the privacy of a private residence or
private conversations in a private residence without a warrant and without probable cause
to believe that a criminal act is being committed. Sending police agents into private
homes with instructions to remain unidentified specifically in order to breach the privacy
of conversations about political activities is a blatant violation of the first and fourth
amendments. Civil rights statutes permit and encourage private citizens to seek monetary
damages from state or municipal police agents who engage in that conduct; Gainer's and
MPD's actions during the World Bank protests already resulted in multiple lawsuits; the
city will suffer substantial financial damage if Gainer is not stopped.
I would like to hear what readers of themail think of the Post's four part
series in early December on the DC MPD's Homicide Division. Did it have an impact on any
Character of Washington, Part 3
People have been known to give me odd looks and whisper, knowingly, it seems to me, if
I sit on the Mall and watch the sun come up or go down, if I watch the international
passersby in Dupont Circle, or lurk the bars in Adams-Morgan or dance like Kali at
this-or-that Rave. But I don't care what they say; after all, this is Washington, and 90
percent of what anyone does here is words, endless words. I like to meet our visitors, and
give them directions, and pass out little historical tidbits like you'd give cookies to
the good kids. Otherwise I don't speak much, but I listen very well and, however
disorderedly by general standards, I do think a lot.
What's the character of Washington? Ask the old man with his line in the River, ask the
secretary if he can spare you a second from his commute, ask the lawyer if you can pry her
away from her cell phone for an instant, ask the bum on the corner, ask the teacher in the
schools and ask the preacher on the streets. Ask the young man hustling dope, ask the
young mother facing the end of Welfare and her high school graduation. Ask a cop, or ask
several. Ask the Mayor and the Chief of Police and ask the people in this city's jails;
there are one half-million stories and each lends itself to the city's character. Ask the
museum curator, and the Parks Service guy on the Mall picking up trash with a pointed
stick at the epicenter of L'Enfant's grand Masonic symbology, across the Tidal Basin from
the Temple to Mister Jefferson's Deism and Freedom of Speech and Religion, in celebration
of which on Hallowe'en at that place, the gathered witches dance for our peace and
healing. Ask after the character of Washington at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
or the National Cathedral or the Vietnam or Holocaust Memorials and ask of its character
at any of the hundreds of houses of Faith. Ask of anyone who's thoughtful and ask of any
who wait of an evening in the gates of the city for the angels to come to Sodom, or for
otherworldly visitors to come to our home world's planetary capital, ask of those who wait
for enemy troops and ask of but expect no answer from those who make sure
that such can never happen, and that those who administer the Nation may sleep in peace.
Washington is a sleepy southern town. Washington is a ghetto. Washington is the
epicenter of global military and economic power. Washington is the repository of the soul
and arts of the ancients and the sciences of the present and the dreams of the future that
it is making happen. If it doesn't make you crazy it will make you love it for all its
faults, and if it makes you the right kind of crazy, you'll work to fix those faults if
only because they detract from the jewel that it could be. Washington is a chaos and a
conundrum and a jewel in formation; it's a total mystery wrapped in everything that meets
the eye. Washington is blatant, Washington is enigmatic, Washington is just a pile of
rocks sinking into a swamp, or perhaps it's just a symbol of how it works if you work it.
Washington is my home. Season's Greetings to alla y'all.
As a fifth generation African American woman, I can only say that Kamilah has said it
ALL! [Kamilah O. Martin, themail, December 6, 2000]
OK, so maybe this is just one of those initiation rites of DC home ownership. After
buying a house six months ago, I got my first water bill. Well, not a bill; a disconnect
notice informing me that my water will be cut off next week because I didn't pay my bill.
Of course, I never GOT a bill.
Best of all, the form says I cannot mail payment, I have to go downtown between 8 and 5
on a weekday a real pain since I work in Virginia. (And at the Internet company
where I work, this is NOT a relaxed, no-work week at all.) Best of all, while there's no
statement or bill telling me what the charge is for, it does say March 2000 at
the top, so I think this may be a bill from before I ever owned the house. Happy Holidays
to me from the District!
William M. Mazer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Herman of the Ethical Society said in your December 27 issue, That Missing
Week, that for only $80 bucks I can learn how to plant my dreams, consider my sense
of purpose and unique constellation of gifts, express my energies in my community and in
the world, live from my highest self, and experience my passion. But if I put my same
hard-earned $80 on Number 4 in Atlantic City, I can with a much higher probability of
success be a winner of goodies that will assure all of the above and a lot more, without
bankrolling the LifeWorks Adult Education crowd.
More about Representation
Michael Bindner, email@example.com
The current discussion about statehood v. retrocession has two aspects
self-determination and representation. I will address representation first and
self-determination in a future posting. Currently, legal avenues to demand representation
have been exhausted. However, there are still three options (not counting a vote in the
committee of the whole, which is a poor substitute): statehood (which we are more likely
to get with Bush, as you can get more from your enemies than your friends), retrocession
to Maryland and representation as a federal enclave within Maryland.
The road to statehood involves getting our constitutional house in order, which is
where I will continue next time. Retrocession won't happen because the Maryland GOP
doesn't want us. The third option (federal enclave status) is still possible
legislatively. (It was ruled out by the Courts because of Albaugh v. Tawes, which relies
on the Organic Act's separation of the District from Maryland -- thus the decision hangs
on legislation rather than constitutional principle). By a simple majority, Congress could
declare that, for purposes of representation in the House and the Senate, the District is
an enclave within Maryland. This would be just in time for redistricting, which is why
this won't occur until redistricting is accomplished.
The reason this proposal gets no play is that, even with the District's population,
Maryland gets only eight representatives, which would leave one of the nine current
members in a race for their job. The likely match-up would be Hoyer v. Norton. Since both
of these members have seniority this is not likely to occur. Eleanor Holmes Norton is not
likely to fall on her sword for our voting rights, though it would be fun to ask her to
try. So, District residents, how badly do you want representation? Are you willing to
demand it, even if it does not increase the number of Democratic seats?
As a 17 year resident, and now citizen, of this country as well as of the District, I'm
not sure whether to be offended by Paul Williams' 12\24\2000 post; or to be offended by
Steph Faul's prior post, to which Williams was replying; or to be offended by both; or
just to be confused by both. First off, I don't know about the rest of you, but MY copy of
the American Heritage Dictionary (2d College Edition) defines
carpetbagger as: A nonresident politician who represents or seeks to
represent a locality for political self-interest.
Now. Since I did not see Ms Faul's original post here, I cannot judge how accurately
she employed this often-misused term. Since I have never seen Mr.. Williams' name on a
ballot here in the City, I assume he fails to meet the dictionary definition of being
either nonresident or a politician. As for [acting] for
political self-interest . . . Perhaps themail should rerun Ms. Faul's original post.
Because a logical and literal reading of Mr. Williams' rebuttal, and the way he portrays
Faul's earlier post, would lead me to think that someone could never be a full-fledged
Washingtonian unless he or she were actually born here.
Second, I would think the geography of present conscious commitment is, ultimately,
more consequential for what one invests in his or her own community, than is that of past
biological coincidence. After all, none of us chooses where he or she is born. And, third,
the logical ultimate extension of what Mr. Williams seems to attribute to Ms. Faul would
be what two Winnebago classmates of my husband told him years ago at Cornell: from their
perspective as Native Americans, everyone else in this country is an illegal immigrant.
And, I presume, therefore a carpetbagger, depending on how loosely you
(mis)-use that word.
[All past issues of themail are available in the archives at
http://www.dcwatch.com/themail. Stephanie Faul's original posting is at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/2000/00-12-10.htm.
New Years Eve in Mt. Pleasant
Peter Stebbins, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Studio House at Walbridge, located in Mount Pleasant at 3229 Walbridge Place, NW,
invites all to a New Year's Party hosted by musician Kevin Lambert and other drummers from
Malcolm X Park. The party is potluck, doors open around 9 p.m., any acoustic
instruments/musicians welcome. For more information, please call Peter Stebbins at
319-7656 or E-mail email@example.com.
TasteDC.coms January/February 2001 Calendar of Wine and
Charlie Adler, firstname.lastname@example.org
1) January 11, Thursday, New Restaurant Series: Christopher Marks
Restaurant, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Metro: Metro Center, 7-9 p.m., $55 per
person, tax and tip inclusive. Join Executive Chef Robert Polk (formerly of Bistro Bis
under Jeffrey Buben, and Occidental Grill) as he creates a delicious five-course meal.
Menu: winter greens with bosc pears, lobster bisque, grilled chicken breast with andouille
sausage, mini-beef Wellington, Cointreau cream and mixed berry truffle. Each course is
paired with a different wine! 2) January 17, Wednesday, Wine Basics 101,
Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW, valet parking, Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line),
7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. wine tasting, $40 per person. Our most attended event!
Part of our Fundamentals of Wine Series (all classes in the Series can be
taken individually) Learn how to order wine in a restaurant, determine basic wine styles
and varietals, pair wine and food and more! 3) January 24, Wednesday, The Components
of Wine, Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. wine tasting,
$40 per person. Part of our Fundamentals of Wine Series. This event is the
perfect addition to wine knowledge gained from our very popular Wine Basics 101 tasting!
Join Ann Berta, wine columnist for Washingtonian Magazine, as we show you how to
recognize the flavor components of wine, understand and taste the different wine
varietals, develop wine preferences based on your palate. 4) January 31, Wednesday,
Wine and Food Pairing, Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9
p.m., wine and food pairing, $55 per person. Part of our Fundamentals of Wine
Series. This event is the perfect addition to wine knowledge gained from our very
popular Wine Basics 101 tasting! Let Ann Berta, wine columnist for Washingtonian
Magazine, show you the basics: good rules and bad rules, perfect matches and bad
combinations, how to order wines for a group event. Food is provided to taste with the
wine. 5) February 7, Wednesday, Introduction to Italian Wines, Radisson
Barcelo Hotel, 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. wine tasting, $40 per person. Americans
love Italy's dietary trinity of bread, olive oil and wine, but understanding their vino
can be very confusing. Join Ann Berta, wine columnist of Washingtonian Magazine,
as we taste a variety of regional wines that will enhance your understanding and your
taste buds as well! Nine wines will be tasted at this event. 6) February 12, Monday,
Sushi and Sake Dinner at Spices, 3333A Connecticut Ave., NW, Cleveland Park,
Metro Cleveland Park (Red Line), 7-9:30 p.m., $60 per person, tax and tip inclusive. Taste
a wide array of sushi and Asian dishes paired with fine sakes. These sakes are of a
premium quality much better than the traditional heated sakes served at most sushi bars.
Spices recently expanded so that we can accommodate up to 100 people. 7) February 21,
Wednesday, Wine Basics 101, Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-7:30 p.m. reception,
7:30-9 p.m. wine tasting, $40 per person. 8) February 28, Wednesday, Introduction to
French Wines, Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. wine
tasting, $40 per person. France produces some of the greatest wines in the world but their
labeling, varietals and subtle differences can be very confusing to new wine drinkers. Let
Ann Berta, wine columnist for Washingtonian Magazine, help you taste and learn
about such regions as Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire and other viticultural regions. We'll
taste nine wines that showcase France's regional nuances. Reservations: http://www.tastedc.com or call 333-5588
I have a box of about 50 used books assorted topics from classics to self-help,
mostly paperback to give away. They might be appropriate for a book sale or as
additions to a library at a senior center, etc. If you are interested in them please
contact me at 202-673-1529 or email@example.com.
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 http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/subscribe.htm.
To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org
with unsubscribe in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available
All postings should also be submitted to email@example.com,
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.