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March 6, 2002

He’s Back!

Dear Voters:

Here's a question for those who will vote in the upcoming Democratic primary election. Will you support a candidate who as mayor of this city failed miserably in his efforts to reform the city's government, who let neighborhoods deteriorate as he concentrated on downtown development, who was supported by — and in turn supported — a coalition of powerful suburban business interests and corrupt community development corporations, who flouted campaign laws with impunity, who neglected some wards of the city while being loyally backed by an uncritical following in other wards? And if you will support a candidate like that, which candidate will it be, Marion Barry or Tony Williams?

Gary Imhoff 


Property Tax Increases

I just received my annual property tax assessment, a 20 percent increase after last year's 50 percent increase. Don't you think it is time to organize an effort to cap the effective rate of property tax increases? If I remember correctly, in Montgomery County they sent me an assessment that rose dramatically at times, but my annual payments rose no faster than 7 percent a year no matter how high the assessment went. These dramatic rises in taxes are a disaster.


10 Cops vs. One Preacher and the First Amendment
Gregory Diaz, 

I am so happy that we at last have crime under control and no more worries about terrorism. In fact, things are so rosy that Sunday afternoon our police forces (yes, plural, here in America's cop central city) could afford to send ten uniformed policemen (seven of Metropolitan's finest and three of the Park Police's underutilized minions, including a canine officer dressed for full combat) in six scout cars to scrutinize the permit of a Sunday afternoon preacher in Dupont Circle. While the preacher continued to belt out his version of redemption, the assembled super-cops scratched heads and other parts of their anatomy, passed the piece of paper around amongst themselves, and generally consulted. After a good half-hour, a Park Police officer who acted as if he had more authority than knowledge of the Constitution finally returned the permit to the preacher, and the rest of the crowd of police (who outnumbered the preacher's audience) finally drifted out, thence to cluster in smaller gaggles, no doubt planning the next raid on a doughnut stand. One might question why a permit is even needed to stand up in a public place and vent one's views (we used to call it “reedom of Speech” in the old days), but that might invite scrutiny from The Little General who now and then peeks out from behind his blue curtain of modesty to warn us that dissent is a form of treason. Poo-tee-wheet, poo-tee-wheet. First they came for the preachers. . . .


Reservation 13 More Than a Euphemism
Kenan Jarboe, 

Contrary to the assertion by Thomas Hall of the Washington Business Journal, the term “Reservation 13” is a fact, not an euphemism. While a number of citywide activists understandably see only DC General, the site includes much more, including the Jail and other uses. To the neighbors, the area has been known as “city sacrifice area” — i.e., a dumping ground for whatever you don't want in your backyard (200 bed insecure prisons masquerading as halfway houses, factory-sized drug treatment facilities, auto-impound lots, crematoriums, quarantine-facilities — to mention just a few of the bright ideas I have heard within the past two years). The citizens of Capitol Hill (especially the east side) are sick and tired of being the dumping grounds. My hope and efforts during this planning process is that we can create a positive vision for the Reservation 13 site — all of it including that portion of the site where DC General is located — and reverse the negative future that many of us fear for the area.


Dominion Virginia Power Company Gets It Right
Gabe Goldberg, 

On January 16 I received a letter from Dominion Virginia Power (formerly Vepco, I guess) stating that within the next few months they'd be replacing our (Fairfax County) neighborhood's transformers, necessitating power being off. The letter outlined access their need for transformers and invited homeowners to handle any needed landscaping trimming to minimize damage. The letter gave the name and phone number of the project designer and invited questions. On February 6 a second letter came, giving three possible dates and times for the work, indicating that weather might delay the work by a day or two. I called the project designer with a question, she returned my call the next day and answered the question to my satisfaction. I congratulated her on the clarity and completeness of her two letters.

On February 25 — the first of the possible work days — a flock of trucks, equipment, and workers swarmed the neighborhood. They started at the appointed hour. On my way out for the powerless day, I asked a worker when he expected they'd be done. He answered that they might finish a little earlier than planned because our neighborhood has better access to the transformers. From the times on the blinking clocks when I returned, they just about nailed the scheduled finish time. I can't imagine how they could have handled this better from start to finish; it's an example of corporate/utility courtesy, competence, and follow-through.


Trees Again
Joan Eisenstodt, 

First the city dug a ditch and planted a new young tree. Now they've hollowed out the bottom of a tree that all of us have called about. It's old, had more dead branches (that keep falling off) than live ones and seems to be ready to fall down. The city's laws about trees in tree boxes belonging to the City means we have little recourse except to keep calling. Now that a huge chunk of the bottom is gone, it's looking mighty unstable. Other than letting the city know, what should we do?


Democratic Compliance in themail
Michael Bindner, 

Regarding Mr. Vondran's post responding to Mr. Daniels report that Ward 8 Dems (or DC Dems) would be held accountable for supporting Mr. Catania: It is true that in the privacy of the voting booth, voters can select whomever they choose. However, I suspect that Party officers who support Mr. Catania openly at either the Ward or State Committee level will most likely be expelled from party office or committee membership — which means that members can only support Catania covertly.

The race is interesting, especially in this stage. It is certain that Catania will run, and likely that Mendelson will run as a Democrat. Whether Marion Barry or Donna Brazile run is an open question (though the longer Barry leaves his hat in the race contingently, the less likely Donna or anyone else will run). There will likely be a Statehood Green Party candidate. Had Beverly Wilbourn not received the Post endorsement 4 years ago, Hilda Mason would have been reelected and David Catania would have come in third (as Wilbourn's votes plus Mason's were more than Catania's). Should Barry get the nomination, the likely result is large turnout in the African American community and the Statehood Green candidate edging Catania for second place (since that candidate would get the anyone but Barry vote in Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6).


Ward 8 Democratic State Committeeman May Endorse Williams’s Reelection
Bobbi Swanson, Executive Assistant, 

Ward 8 Democratic State Committeeman, Arthur H. Jackson Jr. may be the first member of the DC Democratic State Committee to endorse the reelection of first term Mayor Anthony Williams. Jackson, a former elected official in Prince Georges County, has publicly challenged articles in themail stating he is leaning towards endorsing David Catania for Mayor.

Four years ago, Jackson's Fighting 54th Organization endorsed Kevin Chavous for Mayor; however the organization believes Democrats must unite, and African Americans must work to recruit and support winnable candidates for U.S. Senate and Governor. Arthur H. Jackson, a successful businessman and political campaign organizer has served as advisor to more than 5,000 Democrats in the past, and has called for East of the River Democrats to support a united democratic team in 2002 and 2004. He will announce his decision on endorsing Mayor Williams later this month, after meeting with the Mayor's reelection staff.


License Plate Slogans
George S. LaRoche, 

Mr. Whiteside is correct (themail, March 3) that many states have slogans their license plates, but there is no absolute distinction between slogans and political statements. In fact, “political statements” are simply slogans with political meanings. Florida's slogan (“the sunshine state”) is unlikely to be taken to have political meaning. Louisiana's sometime attempt (in one version or another) to use the license plate slogan “the right to life state” might be a mere “statement of fact” to some people, but it's also clearly heavily laden with political meaning. While DC's plate statement “taxation without representation” is less politically charged than “NO taxation without representation,” it's still a politically charged statement. After all, it was chosen and championed by those who think that taxation without representation is wrong (a proposition with which I agree, by the way), which is a political act and a political choice, so its birth in a political movement means we can't really say the resultant slogan is not a political statement. But this political statement is unlikely to be challenged, which can't be said for Louisiana's right to life statement (if the state ever succeeds in using it on their license plates). So the District is likely to get away with using it, under the convenient gloss that it's just a “statement of fact.”

But that doesn't mean that there aren't people who might challenge it — on venerable grounds. The political statement, “no taxation without representation” (a variation of the statement “taxation without representation is tyranny”) is remembered from a time in our history when the British colonies on the North American mainland were being taxed rather heavily by Parliament, which rankled the loyal British subjects of these colonies. These loyal British subjects thought that these British colonies should be represented in the British Parliament, if they were to be taxed. Later, when the attempt to gain this representation had failed and the Crown had imposed yet other burdens, the colonists decided they were no longer loyal British subjects, and they didn't want mere representation in the British Parliament, for they wanted to govern themselves, which led to and was the basis for the Revolution. Today, just as then, someone might take issue with the “taxation without representation” slogan on the grounds that it hides the real issue, which is today what it was then: self-government, not continuation of a colonial status but with representation in the legislature of the colonial sovereign.

And John Wheeler is correct as to the New Hampshire situation (decided by the Supreme Court in Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977)). But there is a correlate question (the “other shoe” to Wooley's). Wooley's question (in short) was whether the government can compel someone to bear a particular political statement, which the Court answered with “no.” But the next question is, can the government force a citizen to bear a particular political statement or be silent? Another way to express this would be, can the government silence one category of political belief by offering only a chance to express its opponent category? This question might arise if someone were to cover the “taxation without representation” slogan with a sticker saying something like “a colony deserving full self-government” (another “statement of fact”), and leaving to see whether the government would take this as defacing the official plate (of course, if the government didn't take action, then the question would be why the government doesn't provide that slogan on a version of the official plate).


Taxation Without Representation Is a Political Statement
Katie Hodge, 

In answer to a number of queries of how people could see the license plate slogan as a political statement, I'll pose two answers. First, it depends on your political views. Not everyone who lives in this city feels that they are not represented. Even in this forum we see wide views on this subject. Some people who live here subscribe heartily to the high school civics version of the District of Columbia as a non-state, because no state should have undue influence over the Federal functions and all members of Congress have a responsibility to oversee the governance of the area, and besides no one was supposed to live here anyway. Second, there is the intent of the slogan. The slogan was proposed to educate people on a political issue, to draw attention to the non-Statehood status, and that we have a Representative in Congress at the pleasure of Congress, and what kind of Representative is one who can't vote anyway? While "Live Free or Die" is also a political slogan, I imagine it doesn't have quite the level of controversy, as it represents a view ingrained in many people in this country. I don't believe there are many people in the country who wouldn't want to live free. Also, while it is a political slogan, the intent is not to change a current system, it is a historical artifact in many respects. “Taxation without Representation” is an attempt to effect change now. If I don't want change, why would I want someone using my car to educate others on the issue? Personally, I don't even like to wear T-shirts with other people's logos on them; why would I want the government putting a logo on my car? (And yet, for full disclosure, my license plate choice is the result of laziness and has the logo on it — since I don't follow the first view I proposed here I went ahead and took it; I'll admit to having second thoughts now since I like the idea of political slogans on license plates less and less).


Two Points on License Plates
Sam Farmer, 

Two points: 1) The language “Taxation without Representation” was chosen so that it would not be a political statement. Adding “no” to the front or something to the end and it might be. It is simply a fact of the District that is more accurate and poignant than the previous “Celebrate and Discover.” So it is not a political statement and not even a political issue rather a civil rights issue.

2) For those who complain about having a lack of choice about having the slogan on the plates, well complain to those in charge. Lets see: in charge of the DMV is the District Government, in charge of the District Government is Congress. So go complain to your Senator or Representative. Oh wait, you don't have one. Best off supporting the license plates so eventually you may have one.



Cleveland Park Library Book Sale
Jill Bogard, 

The Friends of the Cleveland Park Library will hold their annual spring book sale on Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17, at the Cleveland Park Library, Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Street, NW (one block south of Cleveland Park Metro red line), from noon to 4 p.m. each day. We have thousands of previously owned books, in many categories, donated by our neighbors. They range from recent bestsellers to out-of-print treasures, fiction and nonfiction. Most books are priced at $1.00 for hardcovers, $.50 for paperbacks. For this sale, paperback mysteries, romances, and science fiction will sell for $.10 each. There are a large number of specially priced books — coffee table books, first editions, large format art books, etc. We also have records, CD's, tapes, and videos, as well as some sheet music. Sale proceeds go to benefit our branch library. For more information, contact Nathalie Black at or 362-3599.


Threads of Time
Lois M. Kirkpatrick, 

Celebrate Women's History Month by joining us for a special event called “Threads of Time: African American Designers 1854-1854.” This free history lesson/fashion show takes place this Sunday afternoon at 2:00 at the George Mason Regional Library in Annandale, VA. Space is limited; call 703-256-3800 to reserve a seat.


Ward 6 Community Emergency Preparedness Day
Eric Rogers, 

The Ward 6 Community Emergency Preparedness Day, sponsored by the Office of Councilmember Sharon Ambrose and the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency, will be held on Saturday, March 9, at Hine Junior High School 335 8th St., SE (Eastern Market Metro). Featured speakers: Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, EMA Director Peter LaPorte, MPD Chief Charles Ramsey, Fire/EMS Chief Ronnie Few, Chief Health Officer Dr. Ivan C.A. Walks, and Joseph Askew of Verizon. Learn what you can do to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters; how to develop a community preparedness plan; and about the new District Response Plan. To pre-register or for more information E-mail Skip Coburn at or call Myisha at 724-8072.

Schedule: 10 a.m., registration/check-in; 10:30 a.m., morning plenary session; 12 p.m., lunch (will be provided); 1 p.m., small group training sessions; 3:30 p.m., wrap-up; 4 p.m., adjournment.


Health Care Now! Forum on CareFirst Conversion
Sam Jordan, 

Health Care Now!, the District of Columbia's largest health care consumer advocacy organization, will host a community forum on Wednesday, March 13, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Christ Church, 620 G Street, SE. The forum will focus on the controversial sale of DC's nonprofit health insurance plan, CareFirst (Blue Cross/Blue Shield), to Wellpoint, a multi-billion dollar, for-profit corporation based in California. Carefirst, the Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance plan for the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, and northern Virginia was established as a nonprofit health insurance provider for low-income residents. In exchange for decades of taxpayer subsidies, CareFirst has offered open enrollment for needy and hard-to-insure residents, as the health insurance provider of last resort.

Now Carefirst is seeking government approval to change its nonprofit status, and convert into a for-profit corporation, allowing the $1.3 billion sale to proceed. "Nothing about the proposed conversion benefits the public interest. It is driven by profit and easy theft of public investments," insisted Sam Jordan, Project Director of Health Care Now!, a project of the Center for Community Change. Health Care Now! has assembled a team of health policy experts, lawyers, and public interest activists who will explain the process of conversion from nonprofit to for-profit, and its implications, including higher health insurance premiums, and the exclusion of DC residents with preexisting conditions.


Critical Resistance Film Festival
Jason Ziedenberg, 

Critical Resistance, a national organization seeking an end to this nation's growing reliance on prisons to address social and economic problems, presents Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex Film Festival. The eclectic festival will feature newly released documentaries, classic narratives, experimental shorts and panels of ex-offenders, experts, advocates, and youth who will speak out against punitive prison practices and police abuse in DC. The three-day festival runs Friday, March 8th to March 10 at the Maya Angelo Public Charter School, 1851 9th Street, NW (at T St., NW). The full film program is posted at For more information on the program, call us at 521-0377 or E-mail


Creative Arts Healing Training for Artists
Juliet Bruce, 

To all storytellers, visual artists, writers, dancers, musicians, and creative arts counselors: Institute for Transformation Through the Arts (ITA) is going to offer free trainings for artists in all media who are interested in bringing the transformative power of the arts to people and communities in need of healing. We're offering this training in association with ArtistCares, an organization of New York-based artists formed after September 11. ArtistCares has created an excellent healing model and artist preparation workshop, and they will work with ITA to train a network of artists to do this work in our area.

The artist prep workshop will prepare you to lead workshops that support healing through creative expression, understand the difference between creative arts healing and therapy, understand and manage group dynamics, and connect with a network of artists who are doing this work. We don't yet have a date or location. We're putting out this call to see how many of you want to participate in this project. We'd appreciate your forwarding this message to friends and colleagues who might be interested. ITA is a DC-based nonprofit that uses the arts to support the health and well being of individuals, families, and communities -- especially those affected by underachievement, marginalization, and violence. To find out more about us, visit If you'd like to take this training or want to find out more about this project, please E-mail, or call 667-3766 as soon as possible.


Shameless Self-Promotion
Cynthia Benjamin, 

Come watch me make an utter fool of myself! Gala Hispanic Theater presents “The Truth Can't Be Trusted,” a delicious comedy of errors from Spain's golden age, February 7-March 17.



Key Strength Trainer 2000 Weight Bench, Bar, Mat and 255 lb. Weight Set
Kate Zimmer, 

Great deal for someone who wants to work out at home. Key Strength Trainer 2000 Weight Bench, Bar, Mat and weights. Heavy duty oversized tubing. Sturdy no tip front and rear stabilizer. Scratch and chip resistant electrostatic finish. Comfortable high density foam pads. Weight bar safety hooks and retainer spring clips. Exercises — leg extension/curl, crunch, chest press. $275.00 or best offer.



Paris Apartment Available in July and August
Peggy Robin, 

My stepsister, Virginia Isbell (a former Washingtonian), asked me to post this notice about her fabulous Paris apartment: Paris penthouse apartment for rent, four bedrooms, two baths, terrace, great views of the Eiffel Tower (15th arrondissement, near Motte-Piquet Grenelle). One double bed and four singles. Fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, maid service included. $1500 weekly or $2000 for 10 days, available July and August. The apartment is within walking distance of three Metro stops, a supermarket, many bakeries, kids' clothing stores, one of the best playgrounds in all of Paris, and more. With views that even many of the best hotels don't have, this is an ideal location.

To see photos, go to For more information, E-mail or call 011 331 53 95 01 68.



Restaurant Recommendation
Greg Jones, 

According to a posting on the Chevy Chase Community Listserv, the operator of Los Lomitos Dos, the newish TexMex place at the NE corner of Livingston and Connecticut Avenue, NW, is reportedly hanging on by a thread. (This is the space that was occupied by Vivaldi's for several years, and the Fishery before that.) My family and I think the food there is pretty good and hope that more in the community will support this local business.


Seeking Recommendations for a Contractor
Nick Keenan, Shaw, 

I am looking for recommendations for a contractor to renovate a bathroom.


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