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February 20, 2002


Dear Unabashed Readers:

When the Nevada Boxing Commission refused to license Mike Tyson to fight and rebuffed the Tyson-Lewis boxing match as below even that state's moral standards, fight promoters realized that they needed to find a place where political standards were lower and looser than in Las Vegas. Mayor Williams and the DC Boxing Commission rushed forward to volunteer themselves. “It's all about the money, baby,” is their message; “nothing counts but the money.” And they count on their wildly inflated estimates of how much money Washington will make out of the fight — inflated even more than their outrageous fantasies of how much the city would profit from the Olympics or from a baseball team — to blind Washingtonians to the implications for the city of hosting the bout.

The City Council was also shameless this week. A few months ago, the Council passed a predatory lending bill designed to protect consumers against predatory lenders, but the protests of their financial sponsors caused Councilmembers to have second thoughts. On Tuesday, they passed a substitute bill, designed instead to protect predatory lenders that are incorporated as banks or as savings and loans against competition from other companies. Occasionally the shameful political deals aren't done in smoke-filled back rooms, but right out in public.

Even themail is shameless. We rarely boast that we told you so. That's because of our innate modesty, not because (as some might think) we're so rarely right. Sometimes, however, we can't help gloating shamelessly. This week US Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended the Church Association for Community Service's lucrative sweetheart deal to renovate 300 DC houses ( Readers of themail knew the deal wouldn't work as soon as it was first announced, because we said then that CACS didn't have the ability to do the work, but was chosen solely as political payback for having laundered contributions to the Mayor's political causes ( Maybe there's a glimmer of hope here, though. HUD was shameless enough to award the contract to CACS, but in the past it would have ignored its failure to perform and honored it at an awards dinner. If HUD is serious about reforming housing programs in DC, it will pull the contract completely; if not, it will reinstate it as soon as the publicity dies down.

Gary Imhoff 


The Tyson Fight
Richard Layman, 

Yesterday's Washington Post Sports section had an article about the DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission's consideration of licensing a Mike Tyson boxing match in DC. Mr. Tyson has been denied a license for this fight in three other states because of concerns with regard to his character. Apparently, the only other venue being considered is the Netherlands.

According to a quote from the Mayor's office, it is expected that such an event would generate upwards of $40 million in revenue mostly for our beleaguered tourist/hospitality industry. However, the quote went on to say that the City is considering providing tax relief to the organizers of the fight.

I say WHY? They can't get a license to fight anywhere else and they'll make at least $50 million between the two fighters and the organizers. So why they need tax relief? Frankly, they need DC more than DC needs them. Why offer even a penny of tax relief? The District's likely sanctioning of Mr. Tyson's character is worth $50 million already. No tax breaks for this fight, please.


Annie McCormick, 

Are there any laws pertaining to feeding pigeons? I live near Thomas Circle and there is this little old lady who feeds the pigeons all the time. (She even had a story done about her in the City Paper a few years back). Now, I don't want to deprive some poor little old lady out of her simple pleasure of feeding the birds, but as we all know, pigeons have few natural predators in the city, and with a constant food supply and no natural enemies, the numbers of pigeons is staggering. The birds try to nest on my balcony, making a loud and disruptive noise (usually in the morning an hour before I have to get up), and they also leave massive amounts of excrement and feathers. I cannot walk out on my balcony without shoes on as their droppings are everywhere. This cannot be healthy. Are there any laws about this? For example, contributing to an unhealthy atmosphere? I am not anti-pigeon and I am not anti-animal, and I realize that living in the city has its drawbacks of pigeons and rats and yes, even aggressive squirrels, but there are an amazing number of these pigeons due to the free food handouts, and I can't be the only one in the area that feels this is disruptive and a hazard to people's health. If you had to sweep my balcony three to four times a week like I do, you'd see what damage this causes and how this compromises my standard of living. (To be fair, she isn't the only one in the area feeding pigeons — there is also a woman who tosses out bags of bread in the National Church parking lot — but she is the most visible).


As Easy as 1-2-3
Ed T. Barron, 

A very interesting article in Sunday's Outlook section of the Post describes how the wimpy Department of Education and their new federal No Child Left Behind Act will not make any real difference in the outcomes of today's schools. There are really only three basic things that will make a difference in the educational processes (and particularly in those processes in the DC school system). First, we must only put teachers in the classroom who are qualified to teach the subjects they are expected to teach. Second we need teachers who have developed teaching methods that can inspire and excite kids to learn, remember that these inner city kids don't have any incentives to learn. We need teachers who can draw these kids out and get them to actively participate in the learning processes. That's not to say this is easy. The third basic thing is to find ways to put these qualified and able teachers in the classrooms in spite of the onerous rules, regulations, and blocks that are imposed on the DC schools by the teacher's unions.

Those schools that have followed this simple approach and ignored the rules that the teacher's unions have imposed have the best outcomes in educating their students.


Now I Know My Alphabet
John Whiteside, 

Like Renee Schwager, I can’t help but notice the license plate numbering schemes. While I haven’t seen a BI plate, I have seen a few BJ plates, but it’s odd that BK is already being issued when BJ just hit the streets. As for absence of BI, I wonder if it’s reserved for something special (as BB was, for the plates that don’t have the Taxation Without Representation slogan).

Speaking of which, do any readers have those? I see them occasionally and always am tempted to ask the driver of the vehicle why they requested them. You have to go to a bit of trouble to get them, and it’s curious to me that there actually are DC residents who would take that extra time to express their view that they really like paying taxes without getting a vote in Congress. I realize that opinions differ on the subject, even within the District, but it still surprises me when I see them. Any BB tag holders out there want to enlighten me?


Auto Registration
Paul Pellerin, 

I just received my notice to reregister my auto in the District of Columbia. If I re-up for one year, it costs $55. For two years it is $135. Let's see, two years at $135 if I pay the one-time fee or two years at $110 if I pay twice. Seems to me that it should be the other way around because we would be saving the DC government time and energy every other year.


Parking Issues in Residential Neighborhoods
Stacey Kornegay,

I would like to revisit an issue that was brought up in themail on February 6. There are two churches in my neighborhood; one at the corner of 14th Street and South Carolina Avenue, SE, and the other at 14th Street and Independence Avenue, SE. On Sunday mornings and some weekday evenings, there is absolutely no parking on South Carolina Avenue (and other streets, I'm quite sure). This is due to church services and/or programs. Right now, there is a big, abandoned playground that can serve beautifully as a parking lot for all church members who do not live in this neighborhood. Bryan Elementary has been closed for years and is supposed to be turned into townhouses and condos. Until this happens, why can't these churches be told to tell their parishioners to use this playground as a parking lot? It is unfair for residents to be forced to park on other streets because of church parishioners from Maryland and Virginia. This is a ridiculous problem that my neighbors and my family have to go through at least three times a week. Any suggestions?


Church Parking
Victoria McKernan, 

One would assume that any churchgoer who parks illegally, obstructs wheelchair cuts and blocks legally parked cars from moving must simply be momentarily distracted by their godly pursuits and oblivious to the earthly travails of others. Or perhaps they are just concerned for the heathen pursuits that must be involved in any Sunday morning driving that does not have the house of the Lord as its ultimate destination.

Whatever the reason, I think a simple note on the windshield of the errant car should be enough to remind churchgoers of their transgression. And this simple note is 100 times more effective if it is written in large letters with Crisco solid vegetable shortening.


Double Parking Protest
Michael Bindner, 

I would suggest to neighbors of Christian churches with double parking that they talk to the pastor. Even if the law is not behind you, truth is, so you might get a positive response. If you don't, however, organize a protest. One hour before the congregants arrive from Maryland, get together and jam the streets around the church with parked cars, remain with your vehicles and quietly let the church members know that double parking will not be tolerated. Make sure you tell the media you are doing this, so that the MPD behaves itself.


Responsiveness of Councilmembers
Faith Wheeler, Takoma DC, 

Councilmember Adrian Fenty has been responsive to his constituents, giving them an opportunity to express their concerns. That's the underlying principle of democracy, and that's a-building here in Ward 4. Hopefully, more people will express their concerns and listen carefully to those of their neighbors. Dialogue comes next, I hope.


Councilmember Responses: Jim Graham
James Treworgy, 

Since Adrian Fenty is getting such accolades in this forum from his constituents, I had to give Jim Graham the same respect here. Since he took office, I have written to him about all manner of things, and the service provided has been nothing but excellent. If Jim doesn't personally respond quickly to my messages, one of his staffers does, and in that case Jim always follows up personally later. And beyond simply getting a message back, if some action was requested from a DC agency, I have received a CC in the U.S. mail of Jim's printed letter to the appropriate agency or agency head. For my money Jim wrote the book on how to take good care of constituents.



Have Dinner with the Little Drummer Boy
Drue Williams, 

The Isaiah Williams Project will be performing every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Adelis Restaurant, 6495 New Hampshire Avenue, 4th Floor, Hyattsville, MD 20783. All-you-can-eat soul food buffet included. For more information contact the Adelis Restaurant at 301-559-4600 or 301-559-4100 or go to


Public Meeting with School Board Members
Michelle E. Hynes, 

On Tuesday, February 26, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Board of Education President Peggy Cooper Cafritz and School District One Representative Julie Mikuta will host a community meeting at Lincoln Middle School. This will be an opportunity for residents in District 1 (Wards 1 and 2) to hear from our school board member and president, and to express our concerns to them about local public education issues. Lincoln Middle School is at 3101 16th Street, NW (at Irving Street); it is easily accessible by bus and from the Columbia Heights Metro station.

###############’s Mid-February/Mid-March 2002 Calendar of Wine and Food Events
Charlie Adler, 

1) February 26, Tuesday, 4-Course Wine Dinner at Shelly's West End with J. Lohr Winery, Shelly's West End, 21st and M Streets, NW, closest Metros Foggy Bottom (Blue/Orange Line) and Farragut North Metro Stop (Red Line), limited street parking available, 7-9:30 p.m. seated dinner, $65, tax and tip inclusive. The menu: four courses, all paired with wine, more info soon! Please note: this is a seated event. 2) February 27, Wednesday, Taking the Mystery Out of French Wines, 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, $45 per person. 3) February 28, Thursday, Wine Basics 101, Radisson Barcelo Hotel. 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) March 6, Wednesday, 3rd Annual Oyster and Wine Festival at the New Zealand Embassy, 37 Observatory Circle, NW (behind the British Embassy off Massachusetts Avenue), limited street parking, 7-9:30 p.m., $70/person, tax and tip inclusive. 1000's of oysters freshly shucked on the half-shell, prepared oyster specialties (menu soon!), New Zealand importers showcase up-and-coming wine winners: Highfield Estates, Saint Clair Estate Wines, Vavasour Wines, Te Mata Estate Winery, Grove Mill Winery, Jackson Estate, Tohu Wines, Framingham Wine Company, Goldwater Estate, Nautilus, Franklin Wines, Mount Riley Wines, Fairland Wines, Matariki Wines. Dress is business casual. Please note: this event is walk-around/reception style (no seating). 5) March 7, Thursday, 2nd Annual Trifon Zarezan Wine Harvest Festival, Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria, 1621 22nd St., NW, 2 1/2 blocks from Dupont Circle, nearest Metro Station: Dupont Circle (Red Line), very limited street parking, 7-9 p.m., $55 per person. Join us for our 2nd Annual Trifon Zarezan Festival, an ancient holiday for Bulgarians where they dress in their Sunday-best to eat good food and celebrate the wine from the harvest! 6) March 11, Monday, Teatro Goldoni 4-Course Wine Dinner -- Food and Wines of Venetia, sponsored by the Winebow Leonardo LoCascio Selections of Wines. Teatro Goldoni Restaurant, 1909 K St., NW, $125, tax and tip inclusive, 7-9:30 p.m., valet parking available, Metros Farragut North and Farragut West are both 2 1/2 blocks away. Join us at the lovely Teatro Goldoni Restaurant as we partake in Chef Fabrizio Aielli's 4-course creation of Venetian world cuisine all paired with the world-class wines of Winebow's Leonardo LoCascio Selections! 7) March 12, Tuesday, Cocktails 101: New and Trendy Cocktails, Ozio Restaurant and Lounge, 1813 M St., NW, Metro: Farragut North or Dupont Circle (Red Line) within 3 blocks, 7-9 p.m., $40. All new drinks! Learn how to make and taste 10 different cocktails all produced by Ozio's experienced bartender! 8) March 14, Thursday, Great Wines of South America: Argentina, and Chile, Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. tasting, $40 per person. 9) Saturday, March 16, 1st Annual International Beer Festival, Sports Club/L.A. Auditorium at the Ritz-Carlton, 1170 22nd St. at M St., NW, 1-4 p.m., $35/person in advance, $45 at the door. Join as we taste over 70 artisanal small production and hand-crafted beers from all over the world! We have a fantastic lineup of both local importers and international producers who take great pride in their beers: high quality ingredients, highly-trained brewers who show attention to detail and smaller production create very high quality. It's amazing to taste the variety of flavors you can get from the combination of only 4 ingredients: barley, hops, yeast and water. Also included in the ticket price are two 1/2 hour free seminars (limited seating), Belgian beers and lambic (4 beers tasted) with Jeff Wells, Craft Brewer's Guild; and the history of beer (4 beers tasted) with Ryan Maher, Merchant du Vin-East. All-inclusive in the price is unlimited sampling, free tasting glass, a variety of international cheeses, smoked salmons, pates, breads and dips provided by Fresh Fields of Georgetown. Reservations at or phone 333-5588.


Hard Time Blues
Jason Ziedenberg, 

Vertigo Books and Martin Luther King Library present award-winning journalist Sasha Abramsky reading and discussing his book Hard Time Blues on Thursday, February 28, 6:30 p.m., at Martin Luther King, Jr., Library, 901 G Street, NW. In September 1996, 53-year-old heroin addict Billy Ochoa was sentenced to 326 years in prison. His crime: committing $2100 worth of welfare fraud. His incarceration will cost over $20,000 a year until he dies. Hard Time Blues brings alive the political forces that have led our prison population to increase more than fourfold in the past 20 years. Through the stories of Ochoa and others, Abramsky explores in devastating detail how the public has been manipulated into supporting mass incarceration during a period when crime rates have been steadily falling. He deftly explores the War on Drugs, the Rockefeller Laws, and more, and how the stunning repercussions of imprisoning two million citizens affect all of America. Abramsky is an award-winning freelance journalist. Cosponsored by the Justice Policy Institute, The Sentencing Project, DC Prisoner Legal Services, National Center for Institutional Alternatives and Families Against Mandatory Minimums. For information, please call 301-779-9300.



Renovation Sale
Victoria McKernan, 

Too much stuff, too many steps! Apartment renovation sale — ultra cheap stuff. Mostly funky/functional furniture. Futon and frame, table, bookcases, dresser, shelving, lamp, table, bed and headboard, two nice big Ficus trees. All $25.00 or less. Mucho odds and ends. Dot matrix printer free! HP LaserJet printer $5.00 (paper feed a little wonky). Dryer (old but works) free! (You carry; no elevator.) Also two genuine antique wooden swivel desk chairs (Pottery Barn repros cost $299.00). Antique claw and ball foot piano stool; make offer. Vintage clothes: 1940's nurses' uniforms (fetishes anyone?), beautiful dresses, and coats sizes 10-12. This Saturday, February 23, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 1421 Columbia Road, NW, #404. Early birds will be eaten by dog.


Josh Gibson, 

For sale, Xerox 5322 photocopier. It double-sides, it reduces, it enlarges, it sorts and staples. It needs a new photo receptor drum, which costs $475, though. Make me an offer. You haul. Contact me at 483-1764 or



Stand for Children
Matthew Kessler, 

Stand for Children, a national grassroots children's organization, is seeking people to fill the following positions: administrative assistant, writer. Complete job descriptions and application guidelines are available at

Stand for Children is also seeking interns for the spring session. Interns will work with local volunteers all across the country in planning Stand for Children Day 2002 events in their community. A complete outline of the internship is available at Students who are interested should E-mail their resume to or fax to 234-0217.



Edna Small, 

Would like to locate a gently used treadmill at a reasonable price.



Montessori Schools in DC
Stacey Kornegay, 

With the state of the DCPS system, I am looking to put my son in a Montessori school. If anyone knows of Montessori schools in DC, please contact me at the e-mail address listed above.


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