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February 10, 2002

Casual Commitment to the District

Dear Real Residents of DC:

Although Mayor Williams denies it, many of his top managers, department officials, and aides have at most a casual commitment to the District. Some haven't even made an effort to live here, to buy or rent in the District, even though they are required by law to do so. Several others have made cynical claims of living here based on their renting or buying cheap addresses of convenience, while actually living in the suburbs. In today's Washington Post, Carol Leonnig and Yolanda Woodlee report on a few of these officials ( In addition to the now well-known case of Inspector General Charles Maddox, who claims the condominium where his son lives as his DC address, they report on chief of contracting Jacques Abadie, who under pressure has rented an apartment in Adams Morgan for $500 a month. (Isn't $500 a month the cost of a parking space in Adams Morgan? Does anyone believe a top government official lives in what can be rented for $500 a month in a trendy DC neighborhood?) Timothy Dimond, the director of the Office of Property Management, claims that he spends nights in his rented DC apartment “the majority of the workweek,” which, translated into plain English, is an admission that he spends the majority of the week in his Mount Airy, Maryland, home where his family lives.

In today's article, the two faces of the administration's position on commitment to the District are displayed. Mayor Williams takes the high minded and proper position, that residency can't “just be filling out a checklist. To me the spirit of the law is you are an active participant in the community, you're here on a full-time, 24/7 basis.” Meanwhile, City Administrator John Koskinen articulates the actual policy and practice of the administration, that of winking at and condoning flouting of the residency law: “It's silly for us to tell people where to put their families and what other houses they can own.”

It isn't silly, Mr. Koskinen, it's the law. What legally constitutes residency in the District was settled sixty years ago by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Murphy (, and it isn't just a phony claim to live here: “One's testimony with regard to his intention is of course to be given full and fair consideration, but is subject to the infirmity of any self-serving declaration, and may frequently lack persuasiveness or even be contradicted or negatived by other declarations and inconsistent acts. Whether or not one votes where he claims domicile is highly relevant but by no means controlling. . . . Of course the manner of living here, taken in conjunction with one's station in life, is relevant. Did he hire a furnished room or establish himself by the purchase of a house? Or did he rent a house or apartment? Has he brought his family and dependents here? Has he brought his goods? What relations has he to churches, clubs, lodges, and investments that identify him with the District? All facts which go to show the relations retained to one's former place of abode are relevant in determining domicile. What bridges have been kept and what have been burned?”

And the law is a good law. The people who want to govern us should be part of us, and should identify with us, the residents of the District of Columbia, and not just with their suburban neighbors or the regional special interests whom they term the “stakeholders.” They should know us; we should know them; and they should have to live with the consequences of the policies they set.

Gary Imhoff 


This Year’s Election Just Got Interesting
Jonetta Rose Barras, 

Everyone is flipping over the perennial possibility that former mayor Marion Barry may come out of hiding to run for at-large council seat. But, not unlike the election in which he threatened Harold Brazil, causing him to be seen visiting his local church more than a few times a week, Barry is all smoke and mirrors. He knows that if he's lucky he may expect to get 10 or 15 percent of the vote in September. That may have been enough in the past to win an election, but it won't get him into the seat this time around. Besides, he isn't the candidate to watch.

The man people should be chatting and getting excited about is Eugene DeWitt Kinlow, a ward 8 resident who has made enormous contributions to his community; fought back the construction of a prison; and opposed the Williams administration's proposal to turn DC Village into a campus for the homeless, where they will be out of sight and out of mind. (Although truth be told the recent deaths indicate that the homeless don't have to travel all the way to the District/Prince George's County border to achieve that status in the Williams administration.)

Kinlow, and I make no bones about being a fan, is pulling together an exploratory committee. He already has won the support of his family, which is critical since his father, Eugene Kinlow, once held the at-large seat on the DC Board of Education that his wife, Tonya, also held. Last year she declined to run for reelection. Sources say DeWitt Kinlow has not decided whether he will run as a Democrat or as an independent. But like most others who have expressed interest in the at-large race, it appears that Phil Mendelson is the incumbent in Kinlow's sights. How is that Mendelson is perceived as being so vulnerable? Wonder if it has something to do with his record? Let the games begin.


Gross Incompetence at the DC DMV
Pete Ross, 

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sent me via mail the Registration and Residential Parking Renewal Notice for my car in mid January. My current car registration was to expire on 16 February 2002. The renewal notice showed the wrong ward for the Residential Parking Permit (RPP). My home had been in Ward 2, but was transferred to Ward 3 during the redistricting in 2001. My home officially became part of Ward 3 on 1 January 2002.

I figured that if I mailed a check to renew my registration and residential parking permit (RPP), I would receive a Ward 2 RPP, so I went down to the DMV on 6 February with my renewal notice. I explained to the clerk that I was now living in Ward 3. The clerk told me that she could only give me a Ward 2 permit because the book that she had showed that I lived in Ward 2. I spoke to her supervisor, who told me that their records showed that my home on Surrey Lane was in Ward 2, so she could not give me the correct ward RPP. I did not want to leave without the proper RPP, so I used my cell phone while I was still at the DMV to call Councilmember Patterson's office and spoke to Genette (Tel: 724-8062). She told me that Councilmember Schwartz's office was responsible for this type of problem. Genette referred me to John Abbot (Tel: 724-8105) in Councilmember Schwartz's office. Mr. Abbott told me that he could not help me and referred me to Ms. Amina Elzeneiny (Tel: 724-8131). Ms. Elzeneiny told me to wait at the DMV and she would try to take care of this problem. I gave Ms. Elzeneiny my cell phone number and waited for her to call me back. After waiting for 30 minutes, I called Ms. Elzeneiny and told her that I could no longer wait at the DMV because I had some appointments.

Redistricting was finalized in September, 2001. The DMV has had ample time to reprogram their computers to show the correct wards for the RPP of the residents whose homes were redistricted into new wards. I spent over 2 hours at the DMV trying to get the correct ward RPP. Both Ward 2 and Ward 3 cars can legally park in my neighborhood until 30 June 2002. However, I should have been issued the correct ward parking permit for my neighborhood. It is just as easy to correctly program the computers before 30 December as it is to do the reprogramming after 30 December. Now, I will somehow have to return to the DMV for a second time before 30 June and again attempt to convince them to give me the correct Ward 3 RPP so that I can park in front of my home without receiving a ticket.


A Pleasant Experience at DMV
Jerry Maronek, 

Even if you don't drive a car you may still have to deal with DMV. I attempted to obtain a non-drivers identification card a number of years ago, but my US passport was not recognized by the clerk as a form of positive ID. I gave up only to try again last week, this time at the Georgetown Park office. I arrived at 2:00 p.m. to find a very long line (the C Street office had closed for remodeling). After a short wait I was given an appointment for 5:00 p.m. and returned to complete the entire procedure within ten minutes. Everyone there was pleasant, courteous, and knowledgeable. Thank you DMV.


DMV Redux
John Whiteside, 

I've followed the reports of problems with DMV with great interest. I've had a relatively DMV-intensive year or so; I moved back to DC and had to change my license over, register a car, and register a motorcycle. Then I sold my old bike and bought a new one — another registration. Then I got a new car — turn in old plates and another registration! It's all been pretty smooth.

If the DMV becomes the most efficient in the nation, residents will only hate it a little. That's the nature of the beast — no one will ever like it or really want to take a trip there. It would be interesting to see actual statistics about performance, because anecdotal tales don't give you the big picture — through themail readers seem eager to use each example of a DMV problem as evidence that the city is disintegrating, Mayor Williams is the devil, etc. Coworkers at my Virginia office (mostly Virginia residents) complain just as bitterly about their DMV, which I found was a pretty efficient place during my two years residing there. My anecdotal tale is that DC's is working as well as those in Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts when I lived in those places — but again that's just a few data points.

Are there any actual statistics to give us a sense of how DMV in 2002 stacks up against the DMV a few years ago, or DMVs in other places?


New Program Starts to Help DC Residents with Disabilities
T.J. Sutcliffe, 

On February 1st, the District launched the new Interim Disability Assistance (IDA) program. IDA gives temporary financial aid to low-income residents with disabilities who are applying for federal Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”, also called “disability benefits”). Approval for SSI can take months or even years. IDA preserves dignity and independence by preventing financial hardship and homelessness during the wait for SSI.

IDA starts as a pilot program in 2002, with half-funding of $2.48 million. Up to 1,120 persons per month will be able to receive assistance; a waiting list will be maintained once maximum caseloads are reached. Individuals may apply for IDA in person at two DC Department of Human Services customer centers: 645 H Street, NE, and 2100 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., SE. For more information about what you'll need for the application process, call 724-5506 (DC Income Maintenance Administration) or 463-6211 (Answers, Please! human services information and referral hotline).

Over 110 community organizations from across the District have been supporting IDA's creation. IDA supporters are currently urging Mayor Williams to fully fund the program in Fiscal Year 2003 so that all persons in need can receive assistance. IDA outreach materials (brochures, fliers and posters), and/or information about advocacy efforts are available from T.J. Sutcliffe at So Others Might Eat (SOME); phone 797-0701 ext. 107; E-mail


Church Parking
Mike Benardo, 

I am writing to express my support for the comment submitted by Christopher Koppel, titled “Illegal Parking on Sunday Mornings.” And to express my frustration with this situation. I live near Shilo Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in the District. I am lucky enough to have off-street parking. However, the church's parishioners often park in such a congested manner that they block the alley from which I must exit to enter the city's streets.

The excess number of vehicles creates a serious hazard. They block views of oncoming traffic and, because they are parked along streets that don't normally have any parking, create an obstacle course. None of these cars ever gets ticketed. And, as is the same with the situation described by Mr. Koppel, most of the cars have Maryland tags. I too find this appalling and would like a good explanation why these churchgoers are treated preferentially.


Illegal Parking on Sunday Mornings
Ralph Blessing, Shepherd Park, 

We have a similar problem with a church in our neighborhood, cars parked illegally, blocking intersections, etc., and all from Maryland or Virginia. However, when a few of us raised the issue at last month's PSA 401 meeting, the police officers present stated flat out that they would never issue a ticket to someone who parked illegally while attending church services. Officer discretion, they noted.

We were flabbergasted that they felt no duty to serve the residents of the 401 community by enforcing laws that impact on our quality of life. One officer asked me, “Would you rather that we ticket people in church or people out demonstrating?” (as if it were an either/or situation). I reminded him that it was the same First Amendment at play in both cases, but he seemed not to get it. Another officer justified his refusal to issue tickets to churchgoers on the grounds that he himself is a preacher, though to me that sounded more like a conflict of interest than a justification.

There are historical and cultural reasons that help explain why church and state are so intertwined in DC, and that phenomenon no doubt has an influence on how the police perceive their jobs. Nonetheless, I would hope that they would receive proper training to enable them to better recognize on which side of the divide their duties fall.


Good Deeds Get Punished
Ed T. Barron, 

In their zeal to replenish the District's coffers, the parking enforcement folks are really moving in on parking violators. That's great in areas where illegal parking creates traffic problems or unsafe conditions. It seems to me, however, that some of the “illegal” parking is over-enforced. As an example I cite the overzealous individual whose District-supplied white SUV appears regularly just before pick-up time in front of the Key Elementary School. The vehicle is labeled ARKING E FORCEMENT on the rear of the Truck.

Parents coming to pick up their kids or grandkids (in my case) are at great risk of getting a $50 parking ticket if they park and leave their car on the East side of Garfield Street north of Dana Place. The sign on that side of the street says “No Parking or Standing.” It is hard to figure out why it is so labeled since that street is quite wide enough for parking on both sides and yet allow traffic to pass in both directions. A word to the wise, since that truck comes by more than once in that time period between 2:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.


In Response to David Sobelsohn’s Car Horn Story
Kathy Sinzinger, 

If the car owner lives in the District and the police couldn't contact the owner by phone, did MPD officers bother to go to the owner's home and knock at the door or ring the bell? It seems this would be a logical next step when the owner's phone number is unlisted and MPD's hands are otherwise tied.


Towing and the Impound Lot
John Fanning, 

I thought that I would mention that if your car gets towed in the District of Columbia you have to go all the way out to Addison Road, Beaver Heights, MD. That's right, Prince George's County. What balls our government officials must have in order to do this, and how inconvenient for the constituency. That's right, terrible idea. By the way, does anyone know who owns this impound lot?

PS. And I know, I have been told for years this part of Parking Adjudication Services is not part of the DMV?


MLK Tribute Breakfast Archived on the Web
Phil Shapiro, 

Did you miss attending the 18th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., tribute breakfast on January 21? An archive from highlights of the event has been put up on the web as a Quicktime multimedia slide show, created from the Living the Dream program on DCTV Cable Channel 6. You can view the slide show at The slide show is 30 minutes in length and 14.8 megabytes in size. The download time using a 56 kbps modem is about one hour, and less than 5 minutes using a cable modem or DSL. It is best viewed using Netscape, which allows you to see the slide show as it is coming in.

“Living the Dream” is a show produced by Tony Watkins as a public service to DC area cable subscribers. This event was host by the United Planning Organization and was attended by over 1000 guests. See  “Living the Dream” will air for the Month of February on DCTV cable Ch. 6. Log onto for air dates and times.


Comparative City Councilmember Responsiveness
David Sobelsohn, 

In the early hours of Monday, February 4, I sent various people an E-mail message about a stuck car horn. One copy went to DC councilmember Jack Evans; another to DC councilmember Jim Graham. I actually live in Jack Evans's ward (at least for another few months). He even sends me annual holiday greetings cards. But by the end of the week, as of the close of business on Friday, February 8, I had received no reply from Jack Evans's office. Jim Graham has already personally replied three times this week, with a promise of further correspondence, plus one of his staff has replied separately. This response rate is consistent with the two city councilmembers' comparative prior responsiveness to my e-mail messages and telephone calls. What's been the experience of other themail subscribers with these two councilmembers? Has Jim Graham just been especially responsive to me personally? Does Jack Evans respond to constituent complaints from anyone? Does anyone produce an election guide comparing councilmembers on the issue of constituent service?

[Why limit your responses to just these two Councilmembers? Who responds, who doesn't, whose responses merely placate you, and whose responses actually solve your problems? — Gary Imhoff]


On-line Tax Filing in the District
Herbert Huff, Director, OTR, 

I appreciate your sharing the concerns one of your readers expressed when attempting to use our new on-line filing system. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We had a small glitch at the time your writer attempted to file. We have since had many returns successfully filed through our Electronic Taxpayer Service Center (eTSC) and have made an adjustment so that our system would receive the increasing number of multiple returns being filed concurrently. In addition, an error message will be sent to the taxpayer if the system experiences Internet transmission problems. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond. We at OTR are proud to be offering this efficient service ( to the citizens of the District and encourage positive feedback.


Firehouse Preservation and Public Safety
Sally Berk, 

Too bad Kathy Smith didn't attend the Historic Preservation Review Board hearing today or she would have heard the fire chief himself say that preservation and public safety are not mutually exclusive. There's no reason to choose one over the other. They can work beautifully hand-in-hand. The best example is the New York Fire Department, which values, preserves, and pristinely maintains their old firehouses -- many of them more than a century old -- and they certainly proved on September 11 that they are one of the best, if not the best, fire department in the world. Preservation of their old firehouses hasn't hindered them a bit.


Letter to Judge
Marguerite Boudreau, 

Thanks [to Lyla Winter,] for posting this [open letter to Judge Rufus King, themail, February 6, 2002]. If you have the data handy, please post the mailing address or E-mail address of Judge King on the DCWatch site, so that we may all send letters such as yours.

[The mailing address is Chief Judge Rufus G. King, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001. — Gary Imhoff]


Too Many Smith’s in the Phone Book
Paul K Williams, 

The Kathy Smith who posted in themail on the Firehouse Nominations is, incidentally, not to be confused with Kathy (Schneider) Smith, the Executive Director of the DC Heritage Tourism Coalition and former Director of the Historical Society of Washington.


DC School Renovations Not Political
Helen Hagerty, 

Janice Hopper's statement claiming Hardy Middle School in Georgetown is the first to be renovated because of "politics as usual" is inaccurate. The Facilities Master Plan is a ward wide process that includes one school per ward per year. The first tier of renovation has already begun and includes the following schools from across the city: Oyster, Barnard, Bell, Lincoln, Cleveland, Kelly Miller, Key, McKinley Tech, Miner, Noyes, Patterson, and Thompson. All of these schools are either under construction, or completing the planning process for construction. Hardy is one of ten schools in the second tier slated for renovation in the next year. Hardy is not the first school to be renovated. It is one of many included in a fair, well-thought-out plan.


“Copenhagen” E-Mail List Established
David Sobelsohn, 

A highlight of the current DC theater season opens at the Kennedy Center on Tuesday, February 26, when the “Copenhagen” tour reaches Washington. “Copenhagen” depicts alternate versions of a mysterious 1941 meeting that may have determined the race to build the first atom bomb. Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, famous physicists and close friends, one half-Jewish and the other a German nationalist, why did they meet in occupied Denmark, and why did they part in anger and bitterness? Footlights, DC's only modern-drama discussion group, has set up an on-line forum exclusively to discuss “Copenhagen.” Participation is free and subscribers need not have or seek any other contact with Footlights. Send any message, even blank, to After subscribing, you can post your message by sending it to For general information about Footlights go to Let the debate begin!


February 2002 InTowner
Peter Wolff, 

This is to advise that the February 2002 on-line edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and 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 complete issue (along with prior issues back to January 2001) also is available in PDF file format by direct access from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link provided. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it looks in print, including the new ABC Board actions report, all photos and advertisements. The next issue will publish on March 8. The complete PDF version will be posted by early that Friday morning, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter.

To read this month's lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “Residents Opposing Beer & Wine Sales at Adams Morgan Safeway”; 2) “Development Boom Hits Eastern Edge of Shaw, New Residents Flocking to Buy and Rent”; 3) “Neighbors Get Help from Councilmember to Improve Park in Columbia Heights.”



Presidents Day Celebration
Diana Altman, 

On Sunday, February 17, and Monday, February 18, join the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum in celebrating Presidents Day. Highlights include a program on innovative postwar suburb Park Forest, Illinois, a talk by former White House Director of Communications Ann F. Lewis, a children's concert by Grammy-nominated Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and crafts and games. For more detailed information, call 857-6583. To RSVP contact 857-6513. The Museum is at 1640 Rhode Island Avenue, Northwest.


Valentine’s KCA School Benefit
Betty Sellers, 

The Fourth Annual KCA Valentine’s School Benefit at will be held on Tuesday, February 12, at Visions Cinema/Bristo/Lounge, 1927 Florida Avenue, NW.

Join us for an evening of film, food, and chances at great items donated by our friends, favorite area shops and restaurants — everything from a private tour of the Costa Rican Embassy with coffee afterwards for ten, fabulous food and wine, to salsa lessons and a champagne brunch/sailboat excursion down the Chesapeake. All proceeds benefit the KCA Student Emergency Fund and education programs at John Quincy Adams, Marie H. Reed, and H.D. Cooke elementary schools. The evenings activities include: 6:30 p.m., silent auction; 7:30 p.m., screening of uTo Kill a Mockingbird,” an American film classic starring Gregory Peck and introducing Robert Duvall; 9:30 p.m., $50 VIP Raffle Drawing.

Hurry! Tickets for the movie are almost gone. Film tickets are $12 (general admission), and raffle tickets are $1.00 each, sold only in books of 5 for $5.00. For movie and raffle tickets call 483-3141 or 232-1531. For more information on prizes and auction lots, or to place bids, send E-mail to Mike Gould, Sponsored by the Kalorama Citizens Association, Capital Care Health Program, DC Lottery, Potomac Properties, Inc. and Visions Cinema/Bristol/Lounge.


Community Forum on Our Libraries, 02/13/02
Alexander Padro, 

Why is the DC Public Library rated 43rd out of 51 state libraries nationwide? Because our libraries have been under-funded for decades! Did you know 1) that the budget for buying books for our libraries has not had a significant increase in 20 years, 2) that DC spends just $4.66 per person on new books each year, compared to Boston's $10.77 and Cleveland's $18.67, and 3) that some of our library buildings have had no significant maintenance in 25 years?

Do you have stories that you'd like to tell about how libraries have improved your life? Would you like to see all branches open longer hours and on Sundays? What do you like most about our libraries? Are there things you'd like to see change in our libraries? Should our libraries play a greater role in supporting our schools? DC Public Library Trustees Alexander M. Padro, Phillip E. Pannell, and Drake M. Wilson invite you to attend a community forum on our public libraries, Wednesday, February 13, 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 443 (METRO: Gallery Place/Chinatown/MCI Arena). Refreshments will be served. Come learn more about our libraries and share your thoughts and concerns with DC Public Library Trustees. Your opinion is important! If you agree that our city's libraries are important to our city and our children's future, please attend this first-ever event. For more information, call 562-2726.



Cheap Artist Studio Space Sought
Paul Yandura, 

Starving artist coalition seeks cheap studio space. Group is primarily new, untrained artists exploring different themes through their creations. Ideally, looking for a space that could hold three or four artists working simultaneously. If you have any suggestions, please E-mail Paul Yandura at



Ski Boots
Trudy Reeves, 

One pair of Dolomite Epix55 Ski Boots. Size is equivalent to a regular men’s size 10. Worn only one season by my son who outgrew them. $75 (originally $250).


Loft Bed Frame
Susan Gushue, 

Full-size loft bed frame from Ikea, $250. It is light pine and in very good condition. Call 526-1632 or contact me at


Soccer, Anyone?
Paul Penniman, 

Two families are looking for people to share three DC United tickets this coming season. The benefits of being a planholder are: you get a huge discount on the price of tickets; you can use unused tickets for any game before or after the fact; and you get the jump on world cup qualifiers and other international friendlies. Our tickets are upstairs, midfield, in the second row, and are $21 each for planholders. There are 18 games, so we're looking for someone to buy about one-third of our 54 tickets, in any combination you like. Come join us! It should be an exciting season.



Be a Judge
Mychalene Giampaoli, Historical Society of DC, 

Would you like to encourage local students to develop a love for history? Be a judge for National History Day in Washington, DC National History Day is an academic program that encourages students in grades 6-12 to do original historical research using primary and secondary resources. For more information about this program, visit the Historical Society of Washington DC’s web site at

Your help would be appreciated on the following dates. Sr. Division, March 27, 8:30 a.m.-2: 30 p.m., at Edison-Friendship Sr. Academy, 4100 Minnesota NE; Jr. Division, April 10, 8:30 a.m.-2: 30 p.m. at Shepherd Elementary School, 7800 14th Street, NW; City Wide, May 4, 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., at Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 901 G Street, NW.



Emily Piccirillo, 

I want to send warm thanks to everyone who took the time to send me suggestions for a hotel for my guests. An Appreciative Mitzvah to You!


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