Big Boys' Big Toys
The only difference between men and boys, condescending women tell
us, is the size of our toys. I don't think that saying is condescending
enough. The difference between men and the really big boys is who pays
for our toys. Men pay for their own toys; the big boys trick someone
else into paying for theirs. The best example is in sports, of course.
Corporate executives use their stockholders' money to buy skyboxes in
sports arenas for themselves, writing them off under the pretense of
business expenses. But first the executives finagle taxpayers into
paying to build the arenas, pretending that they are meant to promote
“economic development.” Really, they're just toys, and the big boys
get enormous thrills from taking credit for them and playing with them,
but we're the suckers who pay for them.
The crown jewel of big toys for big boys is the Olympics. On Tuesday,
the City Council is going to pass — as emergency legislation so that
there is no time for the public to examine how it is being rooked by it
— the “Chesapeake Regional Olympic Games Authority Act of 2001” (http://www.dcwatch.com/council14/14-187.htm).
This commits the government of the District of Columbia to follow the
lead of the big boys' club, the Washington Baltimore Regional 2012
Coalition, and to pay up to $49 million of its deficits, should their
proposal actually win the 2012 Olympic games, and should the Coalition,
by some off chance, not raise enough money to pay its expenses. That's
nothing. Maryland is on the hook for $92.75 million, and even Virginia
will cough up $33.35 million.
The Mayor and the Council have carefully avoided asking the Chief
Financial Officer for an analysis of the cost of this legislation; when
the hearing on it was held on May 30, he hadn't even been informed that
it was going to be considered. Must have been an oversight.
World War II Memorial Not A Done Deal Yet
Ann Loikow, email@example.com
A coalition of organizations fighting to block a controversial World
War II Memorial in the middle of the historic National Mall in
Washington, DC, are vowing to continue their battle in federal court,
contending that the proposed project violates federal environmental and
historic preservation laws. Despite efforts by Congress and President
Bush to ram the memorial through last week, lawyers for the National
Coalition to Save Our Mall will announce Monday that there are still
ample grounds — including constitutional mandates — upon which to
challenge the bitterly contested project.
The National Coalition to Save Our Mall and World War II Veterans to
Save the Mall will hold a press conference at 11 am Monday, June 4, at
the historic Rainbow Pool site on the National Mall at 17th St. between
Constitution and Independence Avenues. For more information, contact
Beth Solomon, W.W. II Veterans to Save the Mall, http://www.savethemall.org.
Lafayette Square: From Orchard to White House
Lawn to Public Park
Mark Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Washington acquired the land where Lafayette Square now sits
from Edward Pierce. It had been in the Pierce family since 1685. On the
land, next to the old ferry road connecting Georgetown and the Eastern
Branch, was a farm house, a Pierce family cemetery, and an apple and/or
cherry orchard. In 1798-99, the west side was part of a course for
racing horses. Peter L'Enfant, in designing Washington City, placed the
President's House directly on the axis of Pennsylvania and New York
Avenues at Sixteenth Street. From the White House (that name was adapted
sometime around 1807) radiate seven major streets. Connecticut and
Vermont Avenues nearly meet 16th Street as they arrive at Lafayette
Square (which L'Enfant designed as a semicircle, but Andrew Ellicott
changed). The area was known as President's Square until 1824, when the
Marquis de Lafayette was received with a hero's welcome. The citizens of
Washington started calling the President's Park Lafayette Park. The
three Avenues arrive to the White House in similar fashion as three
Avenues that arrive at the Place d'Armes in front of Versailles
Château. According to Major Gist Blair (Columbia Historical Society,
Vol. 28, 1926), there is no city ordinance or a law officially naming
Lafayette Square, but it was used in Appropriations bills. Lafayette had
served six years in the Revolutionary Army with Washington. Mayor
William Seaton met Lafayette at this District line. During his visit,
the City of Washington (taxpayers) had a big parade and voted more money
that year to entertain Lafayette than they voted for the public schools.
Madison Place and Jackson Place (called 15½ and 16½ Streets until
1858) were not intended to be streets in L'Enfant's plan. Nor was the
cross street in front of the White House between Pennsylvania and New
York Avenues. When Commodore Stephen Decatur built his home on
President's Square in 1819, the City Council appropriated $150 to open a
“carriage way” which became the current Jackson Place. In 1820, a
similar area was graveled when Dolly Madison's brother-in-law, Richard
Cutts built a house on at the opposite corner on H Street and 15 1/2.
The Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Park was inserted by
President Thomas Jefferson in 1804, reducing the size of President's
lawn in keeping with his ideas about republican simplicity. Henry Adams
(grandson of John Quincy Adams) wrote the novel Democracy from
his home facing Lafayette Square on H Street, next to that of his friend
John Hay (poet, historian, private secretary to President Lincoln and
Secretary of State for President Roosevelt). The Hay-Adams Hotel has
replaced those houses. In 1853, the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson,
commissioned by the Jackson Democratic Society, was added. The area was
an interesting neighborhood, and in 1872, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe wrote Our
Neighbors on LaFayette Square: Anecdotes and Reminiscences. Tayloe
moved to Washington City with his parents in 1800 and lived in the
Octagon house. His father commanded the cavalry of the District. He
lived at 32 Madison Place, now a part of the National Courts Building.
Between 1891 and 1910, four statues dedicated to foreign heroes who
fought in the American Revolution were placed at each corner —
Lafayette, Kosciuszko, Rochambeau, and von Steuben.
On May 20, 1995, President Clinton approved the closing of the
stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets due to
security concerns related to the White House and the Blair House (where
International Heads of State stay on official visits). The Treasury
Department released a report in 1997 estimating that the city government
would lose $412,000 annually in parking meter revenue and higher
Metrobus expenses. Greater costs related to lower retail sales and
property tax values were not calculated. Twenty-six thousand cars are
diverted onto nearby streets, contributing to congestion and added time
to pass the area. The city has not been reimbursed for the costs.
“Peace Park” activists, who hold a permanent vigil against nuclear
war in the park, said, “The best way to insure a safe First Home is to
enclose it with a dome, similar to the one of the Pope's golf cart, but
much larger; something along the lines of the AstroDome.” Vigils have
been held at Lafayette Square since women suffragists protested there in
1917. How the area will be redesigned to achieve aesthetic, security,
and traffic circulation goals is today a question.
Lafayette Park is maintained by the National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/whho/lafayettepk/index.htm.
Photo of statue of Lafayette in park: http://www.tmwright.demon.co.uk/usa/statue2.html.
I was today [May 30] the victim of an egregious violation of my Civil
Rights following an assault in northwest DC. At approximately 1:30 p.m.,
I was walking westward from New Jersey Avenue, NW, on O Street, NW, on
my way to visit a friend who lives nearby. This friend is disabled, and
I do errands for him a couple times a week. I was asked for a cigarette
by a woman, and while fishing for my pack in my pocket, I was jumped
from behind. A tussle followed, and I was robbed of approximately $53
and my wallet. Following is an exact account of the even more disturbing
events that followed.
I flagged a passing officer and gave descriptions of the male and
female who had assaulted and robbed me. The officer made a call for
back-up, and the two individuals were caught. (One of the officers on
site said to the male perp, “Robbing folks again? You won't stop this
shit 'til you're in Hell.”) So, we have at least one known stickup
artist at work. After a very non-thorough search of only the male
suspect (pockets only), I was told that a detective was on his way to
take my statement. Upon the arrival of the detective, he spent several
minutes talking with the officers present. He then called me over and
told me that no evidence of an assault or robbery existed, and that he
would charge me with the filing of a frivolous report if I insisted on
carrying through with filing a report. At that point, I pointed out my
scratched face and arm, and I removed my shirt, showing the detective a
bite mark on my back, which clearly showed that I had been bitten by a
person missing several teeth — matching precisely the teeth of the
male perp, who was missing at least three teeth in a row. The detective
stated that the injuries proved nothing . He told me to remember what he
said about the frivolous complaint charge. The detective and officers
present took photos of the perps. The detective then departed.
After the detective left, the remaining officers told the perps to
stay out of the area. When I asked why they were being released, I was
told that, “We don't take reports on crimes against people who do
drugs.” I informed the officer that his statement was in direct
contradiction to my rights as a US citizen, and asked him if he realized
that. His response was, “The only right you have here is the right to
move on. If you get loud with me, I'll take you in.” At this point,
the assembled officers started to laugh. I asked for the names and badge
numbers of the officers present. The senior officer told me that he was
in charge, and that his was the only badge number that I needed. He
wrote it down for me, and then — adding insult to injury — told me
that nothing that I did in complaint was going to change anything. The
other officers evidently thought that this was funny. With my last
glance over my shoulder as I walked off, I caught a glimpse of a bicycle
officer (who was a late arrival and comic relief throughout this
one-hour episode) wiping tears from his eyes.
My question is this: if this can go on in our city during daylight
hours, how are victims of crime in bad neighborhoods being treated
during cover of darkness? I would love to speak with someone with the
power to expose this treatment of decent citizens. I was very
forthcoming to the officers on site about my past drug use — I have
nothing to hide, and have spoken openly with many youth groups and
prisoners about my life as an addict. I am not only rehabilitated, but
have worked in the recovery field. My simple presence in a bad
neighborhood and past drug use should not allow this outrageous
discrimination, nor prevent me from being able to receive due process
and equal protection under the law. I would like to be contacted
regarding receipt of the E-mail, and would like to be kept informed of
any investigation of the officers involved.
The Casey Mansion — A Pig in a Poke
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
On Tuesday, June 5, the City Council will undoubtedly vote to approve
the proposal from the Eugene B. Casey Foundation for an official
residence for the Mayor. During the Council hearing on this proposal, it
was frequently said that raising any question about the Casey proposal
was “looking a gift horse in the mouth.” The more appropriate
barnyard metaphor is that the Council is “buying a pig in a poke.”
The mansion, in fact, will not be a gift to the city. The Casey
Foundation has bought the property and demolished the historic mansion
that was on it. Now it will establish a “Casey Mansion Foundation”
that will build, own, manage, maintain, and control the property. The
only document that the DC government has outlining the terms of the
proposal is the February 26 letter from Mrs. Eugene B. Casey (http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/mansion2.htm),
which is very short on specifics, which is not a legally binding
document, and which has not been clarified by any subsequent
negotiations with the city.
People have fantasized that the Casey Mansion will be used as a park,
as a meeting or convention space, as a museum of city history. In fact,
there is no evidence or indication that Mrs. Casey will allow it to be
used as anything except a private, guarded, and gated residence for the
Mayor. The Chief Financial Officer's office testified that accepting the
use of the Casey Mansion would have no financial impact on the city, but
this is purely unsupported speculation, since there is no legal
agreement and no firm plans by which anyone can estimate the costs. The
Office of Planning has said that there will be no impact on the
surrounding neighborhood, carefully ignoring the impact of the
inevitable future demonstrations and carelessly assuming, without any
basis, that adequate parking will be provided on the grounds.
Even for those who believe that the city should provide an official
residence for the Mayor, even for those who are enthusiastic about the
Casey offer, accepting that offer with the information that we have now
is a reckless act.
Don’t Blame the Technology
Nick Keenan, Shaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
Since long before there were red-light cameras -- in fact, as long as
there has been government — there have been local governments who
twisted law enforcement into revenue “enhancement.” Every
technological innovation that has made law enforcement more efficient,
from writing to currency to the automobile to radar, has made that
process easier. Some governments resist the temptation, and some
governments succumb to it, and the level of technology seems to have no
bearing on which way governments go. So don't blame the technology for
the choices that our leaders make. On the positive side, the red-light
camera cares only about the position of the car and the color of the
light. It doesn't care about the race, age, or sex of the driver. It
doesn't care if the car is old or new, or whether it is local or from
out of town. It doesn't care whether the driver “looks suspicious.”
It doesn't care whether the driver accepts the ticket graciously, or
curses as it is being written. It never has a bad day, and it is immune
to bribery or coercion. It keeps complete records of its actions. It
doesn't conduct unconstitutional searches. Anyone who cares about
personal liberties should applaud the use of cameras.
Dick Armey's report on red light cameras reads like the latest salvo
in his “government as enemy” political philosophy. His report
suggests that local governments could shorten yellow lights in order to
“force” drivers to choose between an abrupt stop or running a red
light, but he cites no evidence of places where that has actually
happened. It appears to be all conjecture on his part.
His solution to the red light running epidemic is to increase the
duration of yellow lights. We already have a couple-second cushion
before lights turn green at most DC intersections, and all it has
accomplished is to give some drivers more time to hurry through the
light that has just turned red. Does Armey really think that longer
yellow lights will make those drivers more patient and law-abiding?
Earlier this week, Fox 5 News reported that the District had, on
average, about 15 traffic fatalities per year from 1997 to 1999, but
that the number fell to two in 2000, the first year that red light
cameras were installed. That may be purely coincidental, but it suggests
that something positive may be happening, conspiracy theorists
Better Red Than Dead
Mark Eckenwiler, email@example.com
Forget Dick Armey's lunatic assertions. I can't count how many times
I've nearly been struck broadside, or almost been run down in a
crosswalk, by a flagrant red-light runner in the District. If
camera-based tickets increase the level of deterrence — and it's hard
to see why they wouldn't — then the result is an increase in safety.
To the extent this safety comes at a cost, the cost is borne rightly by
the scofflaws among us.
I'll even go so far as to say I never understood the hue and cry
about the much-ballyhooed, now-defunct camera on the H St.
"hopscotch bridge" near Union Station. I live a few blocks
away, and I've never had a problem figuring out what all those funny red
and yellow signal colors mean.
As for the inevitable It's-An-Orwellian-Invasion objections, give me
a [expletive deleted] [by the author, not the editor] break. These
cameras aren't working 24x7; they're triggered by red-light running and
that alone. If you want privacy, the middle of an intersection might not
be the best place to seek it (the advice of Lennon and McCartney
Wheelchair Vans in DC
Erica Nash, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a DC resident, the DC government will pick you up at your
door, bring you where you want to go, and charge about $1.50. The vans
are large, drivers are good and almost always on-time. The drawback: you
need to reserve 24 hours in advance. You must qualify by being disabled
and proving it. If you are temporarily a wheelchair user, they also make
arrangements. Call Metro access. They run 5.30 a.m. to midnight. Don’t
let the Maryland telephone number fool you; it is a D.C. service.
301-562-5360. Call between 8 a.m.-4.30 p.m..
Where Are the Bodies?
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
It's a bit hard to believe we have not seen any bodies stacked up
outside Mayor Williams' office. From what I have been reading, D.C.
General has been all but closed for the last several weeks. All the
resident physicians have left, most of the doctors are out pedaling
their resumes. And all but two of the nurses are on sick leave or taking
their unused vacation time. Is it possible that the gang of Bushwackers
(Imhoff, Sherwood, and the majority of Council Members) who have
predicted that the new health care system would fail, were wrong? Is it
possible that D.C. residents, long denied proper medical care, are now
getting it? Is it possible that the Bushwackers are all wet and have egg
on their faces? I certainly hope so.
Parking for All!
Paul “Still Parking” Karr, firstname.lastname@example.org
I wrote the other week about parking and street cleaning conditions
from the perspective of a resident in the District of Columbia. Some
people have taken offense to comments and believe I should simply move
out of DC. I do not write to themail because I hate DC. I participate
because I love DC. I participate because I believe that this kind of
exchange on ideas is important. To clarify, I believe that folks are
forced to park illegally because there are simply not enough parking
spaces in certain neighborhoods during street cleaning days because we
lose literally half of our parking spaces. This is not fair to folks who
are forced to park illegally. I was simply offering an opinion on a
possible solution. (“Just move out of DC” is not an answer, so
please rack your brain for a more serious response).
In regards to bicycles taking over people's public space, I would
like to point out to the non-bike riders that locking your bike to
anything besides a sign or a parking meter is impossible. Despite the
fact that this city, and jurisdictions all over the country, spend
millions of dollars every year to build parking structures, pave parking
lots, and require parking spaces in new developments, there are hardly
any bike racks anywhere in the city! As a bike rider, I am offended that
bikers are the target of anger because we are forced to park wherever we
can. If there were designated places to park my bike in all parts of the
city, I would certainly change my mind. Until that point however, myself
and every biker in DC will have to rely on sign posts, parking meters,
tree box fences, the random bike rack, and anything that is securely
concreted into the ground to lock our bikes to.
Remember, simpleton answers provide nothing to a discussion on
complex problems. Does anyone else believe parking problems (for both
cars and bikes) have positive solutions? Are there flaws in my thought
process? Are there any other ideas out there? Or should we all just
throw our hands in the air, embrace the “chips on our shoulders” and
“move out of DC?”
Chip on Shoulder, Helmet on Head
Eric Gilliland, email@example.com
The streets of this city are designed for and dominated by motor
vehicles. Bicyclists (and for that matter pedestrians) are regarded as
inconveniences that merely increase the time it takes to get from pt A
to pt B, not as legitimate users of the public right of way. This region
is third when it comes to traffic congestion and first in the country in
asthma rates (hmmm, a connection?) yet eighty percent of us use cars in
our commute. The problem as I see it is not with bicyclists disobeying
traffic laws (which some do) or the chips on their shoulders (which some
have), the problem is with inadequate facilities for bicyclists and poor
education of drivers as to their responsibility to share the road. Oh,
by the way, in 1998, one third of all bicyclists killed and 45 percent
of those injured were between the ages of five and fifteen. When you are
that young, your shoulders are too small to carry a chip.
Bruce Sunderland makes a fundamental error in calling the parking of
bikes on public space "appropriation" of that space. He may
not like it, but cyclists have the right, by law, to park their cycles
on public space. Sections of the DC Code applying to cycles are
available online at http://www.massbike.org/bikelaw/dclaw.htm
Clearly the solution to the bike parking problem is to place more
bike racks around the city in locations that are convenient to the
riders. The DC government deserves to be commended for its recent
efforts to install more bike racks downtown, and the situation has
improved. Private establishments (such as the Georgetown Mall) should
realize that DC is a city with many bikers who use their services, and
providing a bike-friendly environment would benefit them as well. For
those who have no interest in bike commuting themselves, please remember
that each “day bike parker” reduces traffic congestion on your route
to work and frees up one more precious parking spot for your car when
Traffic accidents involving cars and bikes are unfortunate
occurrences, as are collisions between two cars. As in car accidents,
either party may be at fault, and either party may have been breaking
the law (running red lights, changing lanes carelessly, etc.).
Responsible bikers should be not lumped d together with irresponsible
ones, just as everyone who drives a car is not responsible for the
behavior of reckless drivers. Many cycling accidents happen because cars
do not notice cyclists or do not treat them as vehicles that should be
respected. Bicyclists have the same legal right as cars to be on any
road except for those where they are specifically prohibited (e.g.
interstate highways), including downtown DC in rush hour (where it is in
fact illegal on the sidewalk). Without designated bike lanes it is
certainly more dangerous to ride though town on a bike, without the
protection of a car's metal armor, but we are all just trying to get to
work on time.
Memorial to the Adams Family
Mark Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org
FYI: According to Mary Cable in "The Avenue of the
Presidents," (1969) the John Quincy Adams family were one of the
few government families in the early 1800s who had their own house in
Washington City -- they lived at 1333 F Street. I'd love to see a list
of which federal elected officials live in DC, Virginia, and Maryland,
Ground Control to NARPAC, Signing Off
Mike Livingston, email@example.com
It’s been fun, Mr. Sullivan, but before you go, please try to
understand: the necessity of D.C. statehood has nothing to do with
having “senators to solve . . . local problems” or with “electing
more officials.” Please try to understand: states have the right to
collect and spend taxes; colonies do not. This colony’s only means of
addressing any of the problems you’ve identified is to beg a
technically remote government for the revocable privilege of collecting
taxes, and to beg separately for the separately revocable privilege of
spending the money thus raised. That arrangement is as ineffective as it
is unjust. NARPAC, by neglecting this fundamental design flaw,
exacerbates each of the problems about which it professes concern.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
The DC Independent Media Center presents two documentaries at Visions
Bistro and Lounge, “Not My President” and “Housing Takeover.”
The showing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, 7 p.m.., and will be
followed by a discussion with film makers and activists. Visions is
located in Adams Morgan at 1927 Florida Ave.
“Not My President!” New York City Independent Media Center, 30
Min., 2001. When George Bush was (s)elected as U.S. President, it must
have confirmed his belief that democracy works best with the fewest
people possible. This is the story about the 20,000+ people who
protested in Washington, DC, and had to literally scream to be heard. If
you only heard about it, it's time to see it.
“Housing Takeover — Homes Not Jails,” Alchymedia (DC), 23:49
Min., 2000. Housing activists Homes Not Jails takeover and renovate a
dilapidated abandoned home with the intention of handing it over to a
homeless family. Get a tour of what they can't show you on TV. Homes Not
Jails is an all-volunteer, direct action housing organization, that
provides housing by any means necessary.
For more information please contact the DC Independent Media Center
at 452-5936 or visit our website at http://dc.indymedia.org.
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING
Looking for a female professional to share 2 bedroom apartment in
Rockville, MD. Near Metro and shops. $630 includes utilities. Please
call Diana at 301-468-4802.
CLASSIFIEDS — HELP WANTED
Independent Living Skills Trainer
Cristobal Covelli, firstname.lastname@example.org
The ARRIBA Center for Independent Living is recruiting an Independent
Living Instructor to work with our Older Blind customers. The instructor
will teach all the Activities of Daily Living to a population of
approximately twenty blind and visually impaired elderly individuals in
northwest and southwest Washington. Most of the training is to be
delivered on a home instruction basis. The successful candidate shall
have experience in teaching and training of the blind, all areas, and
posses a very good knowledge of the two quadrants of the city where the
clientele is located. Requirements: ability to travel independently;
good writing and reporting skills; ability to communicate and diagnose
individual training needs; knowledge of advocacy techniques. The
position is full-time on a temporary basis. Available immediately.
Salary very competitive. Bilingual English/Spanish would be helpful.
Blind and visually impaired applicants will receive special
consideration. Contact Dr. Cris Covelli, at the ARRIBA Center: 667-3990.
Help Wanted for ANC 6B
Kenan Jarboe, email@example.com
ANC 6B seeks a part-time community-oriented office
administrator/executive director. The administrator will aid the ANC and
Commissioners in the execution of their duties including drafting
letters, contacting government officials, maintaining financial records,
preparing reports, representing the ANC before government agencies,
meeting support, and various clerical and office duties. $10-$15 per
hour, depending on qualifications. Day and evening hours required.
Qualifications: Typing, office computer skills, B.A. degree or
equivalent experience, and experience in grassroots community
organizations. Preference given to ANC 6B residents. Send information to
Kenan Jarboe, Chair ANC 6B, 711 10th Street, SE, 20003
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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