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January 2, 2002

Educational Television

Dear Viewers:

It's midnight, and I'm looking for something to watch on television. One station is showing a 1996 movie, “Killer Tongue,” whose plot description is, “Accidentally ingesting a meteorite part causes a serpentine, man-eating tongue to grow out of a woman's mouth.” An educational station, Discovery Health to be exact, is showing an episode of the series, “Extreme Body Parts.” The extreme body part featured in this episode is the head, and the description of the episode is, “Human head transplants are medically possible.” There's a moral in there somewhere, but I'm too confused to draw it.

Gary Imhoff


Winners and Losers, Trends and Issues in 2001, Part 2 of 3
Dorothy Brizill,

Council matters. Praise first: when Kathy Patterson was selected to chair the Judiciary Committee, questions were raised about whether she was up to the job. She wasn't an attorney, which bothered attorneys, and she came from relatively crime-free Ward 3. But Patterson showed, as she had shown before, that she and her staff were quick studies. In recent months, the Committee's oversight hearings on the District's public safely sector, especially the police and fire departments, have been especially important and effective.

As Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, Harold Brazil has shown that he's no Charlene Drew Jarvis. Jarvis championed special interests -- large businesses, grandiose projects, and community development corporations -- over residents' interests, but she did so successfully because of her preparation and command of the subject, which made her a powerful chair. Brazil doesn't do Jarvis's preparation, lacks her detailed knowledge, and suffers from poor staffing. The most recent example of the Committee's disarray was the Council's debate over housing reform legislation, which was led by Evans, Catania, and Graham, not by Brazil. By the way, on January 1, Jarvis became the Chairman of the Board of the DC Chamber of Commerce. In that position, she has a new powerful platform from which to be a major player in economic development issues again. Kevin Chavous's failure to devote time and attention to his Council duties resulted again last year in poor oversight by his Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation. When Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi announced in August that DCPS would end FY 2001 with an $80 million deficit, Chavous was surprised. He tried briefly to side with DCPS's Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz to suggest that the deficit was a fiction, and that the schools had a surplus instead. He seconded Cafritz's call for the removal of DCPS's new CFO, Bert Molina, who had offended Cafritz and Chavous by discovering the cooked books and uncovering the deficit after just a few weeks on the job. Soon, an independent audit by KPMG, part of the city's yearly Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, will confirm the deficit and show that it exceeds the original estimate substantially. Chavous's failure to keep on top of the school budget in the first place, and his anger at the exposure of the deficit, confirms the opinion of many of his Ward 7 constituents.

Diane Williams. When Tony Williams was elected Mayor in 1998, we were told that Diane Williams, his wife, would not be a traditional first lady. Little did we know that she wouldn't act as a first lady at all. She never attends community events or meetings and has not chosen a public issue, traditional or untraditional (public education, literacy, women's health, etc.), on which to focus her efforts and attention. Her rare public appearances with Mayor Williams are confined to embassy parties, events at the Kennedy Center and the White House, and gala bashes and big-dollar fundraisers in Wards 2 and 3. Critics of Mrs. Williams whisper that her absences are due to an undisclosed “health” problem; her friends defend her by saying that she is just a reluctant first lady who never wanted her husband to run for Mayor.

Press coverage. In 2002, a new face will come and an old face will return to covering the District. Greg Timberg, currently a reporter in the Washington Post's Richmond bureau, will cover the Mayor and the District government. He becomes the fourth reporter on the Williams beat in the past three years, succeeding Michael Cottman, Robert Pierre, and Serge Kovaleski. Eric Wemple also returns to the Washington City Paper as its editor, succeeding Howard Witt, who was ousted this fall. Wemple was previously the City Paper's Loose Lips columnist. Next: anthrax, the Control Board, and DC election races in 2002.


A Signal Accomplishment
Mark Eckenwiler,

File under “incremental improvements at DDOT”: there is now a 24x7-staffed hotline for reporting traffic signal problems (including pedestrian signals), 671-1486. They seem to take citizen reports seriously: I've seen most repairs made within 24-48 hours, even on weekends and holidays. Shameless plug: this and other frequently updated DC municipal service numbers can be found at (or, if you insist,


Bancroft Tulip Garden Project
Peg Blechman,

I have wonderful news about Bancroft Elementary to start off the New Year! The PTA at Bancroft Elementary School has received a grant from their local ANC for the Tulip Garden. This Tulip Garden of 150 Red Emperor Tulips has truly been a school, community and educational Internet project. A Bancroft neighbor is the community contact for gardening expertise and community volunteers. The Enchanted Garden landscape designers of Mount Pleasant contributed their work and effort -- designing two possible gardens and preparing the soil for planting. After planning where and how to plant the tulips, the Bancroft fifth graders helped the 1st and 2nd graders plant the tulips. This garden is part of the Journey North educational Internet project that will track the migration of Spring across the USA. The ANC grant will be used for the purchase of plants, materials for the soil, and curriculum materials on gardening. And all the students, teachers and volunteers involved have had great fun!


Correction and Apology
John Olinger, North Lincoln Park,

Anne Heutte informed me that she is a resident of Brookland of long standing and therefore, I conclude, her taste in public art is beyond reproach (at least from a fellow and much less established resident of Northeast).


A Disturbing Account
Larry Lesser,

I've got to say that Dorothy Brizill's chilling account of the total absence of planning or leadership by the mayor and local government in response to the terrorist acts of airplane bombs and anthrax is very disturbing. We'd better start doing something about it. But what?


Post-Attack Ineptitude, or Duh!
Rob Fleming,

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration gave DC $970,000 for post-attack substance abuse prevention and treatment. I have yet to find out how it is being spent. There was additional money for mental health services. Then there was another round in which DC got $800,000 for substance abuse and mental health. SAMHSA's press release said of the latter grant: “These awards give the states flexibility to use the funds for substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health service, training and planning needs that are not being met. States are being requested to focus and prioritize the use of the funds on meeting the special needs of children and adolescents.” Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts also got funding.

We know that substance abuse and mental health problems (and spousal abuse) went up in Oklahoma City after the bombing there, and we know that alcohol consumption and antidepressant drug prescriptions are up in New York and that alcohol consumption is up in DC, so these grants were probably needed, but what is DC doing with the money? We also know that the shelters and soup kitchens are seeing more business than ever as the second-order effects of September 11 result in job loss and homelessness. I went looking for hypothermia cases on December 30th with two staffers from Neighbors' Consejo. They said that the La Casa shelter was full by 6:30 and the overflow shelter at Meridian Hill was full by 7:30. Reeves Center is not available as a warming center this year. The official reason is security concerns (Emergency Preparedness is in the building), but that was true last year. The unofficial reason is that the restaurant in Reeves doesn't want Those People around. We found lots of people still on the street at 9:30, especially around Dupont Circle where the panhandling is good.

You will remember, I'm sure, that the Council held a hearing on November 14th on hypothermia prevention. The city had just released its hypothermia plan (riddled with typos), that called for aggressive use of the involuntary commitment laws to get mentally-ill people into St. E's and intoxicated persons into Detox. Dr. Scurry from APRA showed up late and said that the Detox was pretty much full all the time, even before the admissions to be expected under the hypothermia plan. The Director of Human Services said, “we just assumed the resources would be there” at the Detox. Since most of the homeless are substance abusers and/or mentally ill, maybe we should spend the money on expanding Detox and emergency shelter capacity.


One Thing That Didn't Change in 2001
Amy Slemmer,

Happy New Year! While lots of end-of-the-year commentary focused on how much changed in this country during 2001, we at DC Vote bemoaned what hasn't changed — 572,000 local residents lack voting representation in Congress. I am grateful to all of you who got involved with DC Vote last year. With your help, we initiated new programs (Neighborhood Outreach, DC Voting Rights 101, Speakers Bureau, Campus Chapters) launched committees (Education and Outreach, Development, Public Policy and Communications), and conducted a series of successful special events — Bonfire of the 1040s, DC Freedom Summer, National Make a Difference Day. We also inaugurated an annual fundraising event at which we highlighted the work of a handful of local Champions of Democracy. It was a good year in which we were able to make incremental advances toward ending “Taxation Without Representation” and lay the groundwork for major advancements in 2002.

We have aggressive plans this year to move our campaign along. We will conduct a series of special events from a big Tax Day Protest (Monday, April 15), to a summer bus tour to a Congressional Education Day/Senate Committee hearing, a July 4th Independence Day March through all 8 wards of the city to a vocal/visible presence in the November elections. Some of these will be DC Vote events, and others will be lead by some of our coalition partners. The level of dedication and creativity in our community with which to attack our disenfranchisement is inspiring! DC Vote committee members will be hard at work all year on civic engagement efforts and raising awareness about our plight.

Our first event for 2002 will happen on Thursday, January 3 at 6:30 p.m. We will gather local and visiting college students to discuss DC Voting Rights and the vital importance of student activism. If you have students at home this week, or know students who might be interested in DC Vote's efforts, please invite them to join DC Vote at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 3rd at 3014 Rodman Street, NW — one block north of the Cleveland Park Metro station. Free food will be provided as will an overview of DC Vote's work. For more information about ways in which to get involved with DC Vote, please call the office, 462-6000, and talk to Jamal Najjab, or visit DC Vote's website:


Resistance to Reagan
Robert Frazier,

[Dorothy Brizill wrote:] “. . . pressuring the federal government to reopen Reagan National airport, and since then. . . .” Shame. [Smiley face inserted here.] An insult to DC citizens and the workers at Washington National Airport.


Politically Correct Seasons’ Greetings
Mark David Richards,

You might enjoy the following politically correct seasons' greeting, which I received on my public opinion listserve. Aapornet@Usc.Edu, on behalf of Andrew A Beveridge: “To Each of You: Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, and with respect for the religious persuasions of others, or their choice not to practice a religion at all. And a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2002, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to our society have helped make our nations great, without regard to the race, creed, color, religious, or sexual orientation of the wishes. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others. Andy Beveridge”


Good Yontif, Too
Jim Farley,

I'm with you on “Merry Christmas.” If a Jewish friend or coworker wishes me a “Happy Hanukah” or even “Good Yontif” I am honored to share with them. It is a nice honor to be included, remembered or acknowledged as part of a happy celebration. It is meant to be inclusive, not exclusive. No offense is intended . . . quite the opposite!


Lighten Up in 2002
Liz Hoopes,

Maybe it's just that Washingtonians are such sensitive souls, but when someone wishes me, well, happy anything, and I wish them well, I try not to let my principles get in the way of their message. To take everything everyone says personally is an enormous job. Whether we're talking about religion, sexual lifestyles, sports teams, moral issues, etc. -- lighten up. If you subscribe to this group long enough, you'll find a wide array of opinions and diverseness to keep your attention. Sensitive souls need not subscribe. (But that applies to me only.)


Happy Yule in the Mail
Michael Bindner,

Christmas was originally a pagan celebration of the solstice which was hijacked by the Roman Church and government. Astronomers have shown that the likely date of Christ's birth (to match the “Star of Bethlehem,” which was actually a rare alignment of planets in Aries with an accompanying solar eclipse) was April 17, 7 BCE. Of course, celebrating Christ's birth on that day would interfere with Easter, which is a more important feast for Christians, which of course is linked to Passover. (Whether the original Pasch occurred in spring or not is a question of Jewish biblical scholars, although I would bet that it was set where it was to co-opt pagan fertility customs). This is why I no longer bemoan the “commercialization” of Christmas, Chanuka, Passover or Easter. All of these holidays have their pagan roots in the calendar and all have co-opted pagan customs. For those sensitive souls who dislike the sectarian overtones, celebrate the pagan parts instead. Burn a Yule log in your fireplace (or at least light up your back yard grill and have a steak) in celebration of the days getting longer.


SmartTrip Card
John Wheeler,

James Treworgy complained about Metro charging a one-time fee of $5 for the SmartTrip card. My wife and I have been using the card since they came out and we love them. I've bought two more for guests to use when they visit. I don't think $5 for the card is anything to complain about. Sure, using the cards probably benefits Metro, but it also is a tremendous benefit to the users. If people refuse to pay $5 for the card on principle, as Mr. Treworgy suggests, then I label their principle, cheapskate.


SmartTrip Cards
Ginny Spevak,

I agree about the convenience of SmartTrip cards. However, one advantage James Treworgy didn't mention easily explains the charge: You can make one trip which results in a negative balance. I find this especially helpful when I plan to recharge the card but hear a train coming or see long lines at the farecard machines. Without a charge, people would just abandon the card.


Negative Balance
Paul Dionne,

I love my SmartTrip card too. One additional feature that is nice, being able to hold a negative balance. If I only have $1.50 on my card and my trip is $2.00 then I will carry a -.50 until the next time I put money in. No more AddFare. Perhaps that is why there is a $5 fee. Either way, it is worth it.



Globalization and Animal Rights
Mark Sutton,

Posted for Dawn Moncrief. I am pleased to invite you to a free talk given by Dr. Michael Greger on Globalization and Animal Rights. Sunday, January 6, 6 p.m. - 7:30-ish, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, #400 (Friendship Heights Metro — Red Line). PCRM Contract, A.R. Hogan,,  phone 686-2210. For more information, please contact Dawn Moncrief,, day phone 737-7705, cell phone 703-989-8664. RSVP is appreciated but not required.

###############'s January 2002 Calendar of Wine and Food Events
Charlie Adler,

1) January 14, Monday, “Maison Joseph Drouhin 4-Course Wine Maker's Dinner at Olives Restaurant,” 1600 K Street, NW, 3 blocks from Farragut North Metro Stop (Red Line), valet parking available, 7-9:30 p.m. seated dinner, $115, tax and tip inclusive. Join as we are privileged to have Laurent Drouhin, currently a Managing Director of the eponymous company, on his national tour of America as he showcases some of the top current releases from this venerable portfolio. Since 1880, Maison Joseph Drouhin has built a reputation for wines that reflect their individual terroir and vintage. This classic wine producer strives for wines of breed, finesse and elegance. The chef for this evening's meal is Olive's Executive Chef Steve Mannino, who has received critical acclaim from Food and Wine Magazine (Best New Restaurant, 2000), Gourmet Magazine, FoodARts, Washingtonian and The Washington Post. The meal will consist of an hors d'oeuvres reception followed by a 4-course meal all paired with the wonderful wines of Joseph Drouhin. Maison Joseph Drouhin Winery's web page at Please Note: This is a seated event. 2) January 15, Tuesday, “Cocktails 101, Hot Drinks for Cold Nights,” Ozio Restaurant and Lounge, 1813 M Street, NW, Metros: Farragut North or Dupont Circle (Red Line), 7-9 p.m., $40 per person. All new mixed drinks! This event always sells out! Join Ozio's experienced bartender who will mix, entertain and serve you samples of 10 mixed drinks for winter weather! Light appetizers will also be served such as fried calamari, sesame chicken tenders, and baby eggplant pizza. You will also learn the basics of setting up your own home bar, secrets of the trade, and a whole lot more! Don't forget, each attendee gets a sample of all 10 drinks, it's included in the price of the event. 3) January 16, Wednesday, “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P Street, NW, valet parking, Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line), 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. tasting, $40 per person. Washington, DC's most popular wine tasting: over 3,000 people have attended this event in our 4 year history: Ann Berta, wine columnist for Washingtonian Magazine will show you how to order wine in a restaurant, determine basic wine styles and varietals, pair wine and food and more! You will taste 9 wines at this event. 4) January 30, Wednesday, “Introduction to Wines of Europe,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. tasting, $40 per person. If you understand European wines, you're more than half way to wine knowledge — over half of the world's wines are produced in Europe. Ann Berta, wine columnist for Washingtonian Magazine, will explain and taste with you 9 wines that exemplify the major growing regions of the Old World. What may surprise you at this event is that European wines are a relatively good price value in comparison to domestic wines, especially when you consider quality! You will taste 9 wines at this event. 5) January 31, Thursday, “California's Up and Coming Wines,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. tasting, $45 per person. California produces over 90 percent of all domestic wines drunk in the U.S. and is far and away the best overall quality producer of wine in our country. Join Ann Berta, wine columnist of Washingtonian Magazine as she returns from a trip to Napa Valley and Sonoma County with some up and coming new wine discoveries. Chances are you've already tasted a few Napa Chardonnay's and Cabernet Sauvignons, but expect to have your taste buds awakened with other hot new varietals coming out of the Sunshine State! Nine wines will be tasted at this event. Reservation,, 333-5588.



Cobalt DC Now Hiring
Cobalt Information,

As Cobalt expands and grows, so do our staffing needs. Now accepting applications for Cobalt DC and 30 Degrees (the second floor lounge) for all positions. bartender, cocktail server, barback, floor/stock, door staff, DJ, lighting tech, decor. Please E-mail resume to Cobalt DC is an equal opportunity employer. Thanks and best to all of our friends as 2001 winds down and 2002 revs up!


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