themail.gif (3487 bytes)

March 24, 2002

Very Appealing

Dear Appealers:

Several people wrote themail with useful information about how to appeal unwarranted and unjustified increases in their real estate assessments. If you're ready to appeal, the messages below have the links you need, and the tips that are necessary to make the links actually work for you. If you still think that assessments are based on actual individual property evaluations, you can disabuse yourself of that notion by reading Peter Craig's description of how assessments are really done: Good luck, and get to work.

Don't stop with the assessment postings, however. This issue is chock-full of news about what's happening in DC and its government that you won't get anywhere else.

Gary Imhoff 


Appeal Real Estate Assessments Without Running Around
Elizabeth McIntire, 

Contrary to the experiences of Zinnia and Ann Loikow with respect to getting appeal forms and information, these are available online. They are, however, buried deep in the web site of the Chief Financial Officer, under “Taxpayer Service Center” - Information - Real Property Taxes at The appeal form may be printed from the page at by clicking on Real Property Assessment Administrative Appeal Application* (PDF format).

The Real Property Tax database search is linked on the following page:, or directly at You may just enter an address — you do not need to know the lot and square. If you enter the square # only, it gives you a list of all the properties in the block and their total assessments. Click on the left of each listing for more details, and there is a button at the bottom of that page,  “Property features” which lists the characteristics the assessor believes pertain to that property — year built, square footage, hardwood floors, central air, fireplaces, etc. There is also a separate search engine for property sales 

For the first stage of appeal , one choice is to do it over the phone. So, aside from filling out the paper form and finding some way to mail it, hundreds of us could conceivably wreak havoc downtown without getting out of our pajamas — the wonders of technology!


Step-by-Step to Appeal Your Assessment
Bob Andrew, 

See one-page guide on with things to be knowledgeable about: comparable sales and assessment, in your neighborhood, for your house type a.k.a. use code. The web page has links directly to the Office of Tax and Revenue sales and search databases, your appeal rights and to download the appeal form as PDF. In addition to looking at assessed value, do your homework first on what CFO's office have listed about your own house, to make sure there are not mistakes in description (particularly square footage, but note that includes basement area even if unimproved).

If you run short of time to appeal by April 1, 2002, it can be faxed into 442-6796, but that number may get very busy this week! It would be safer to mail your package into Real Property Tax Admin - Appeals Section, PO Box 176, Washington DC 20044. (Check for a list of what to include with your appeal).


File That Appeal, The Database Is Easy to Use

It is easy and convenient to use the city's database. Go to When that page comes up, click on taxpayer service center under the services category. Then, when the services page comes up, click on real property tax database search. Then click on search real property assessment database. You are almost to where you want to be.

Finally the page you need. Only enter the square number. Do not enter any other information. Click on search. The next screen that comes lists all the properties in the square. You can get details on any property. You can go between properties by using the forward and reverse signs on your screen. This avoids starting from the beginning each time you want details on each property. I was not able to download the form. It was available at my neighborhood library as promised.

It's easy. It's fun. Appeal now.


Assessment Problems
Ann Loikow, 

Thanks to help from a reader of themail who did some research on my problem of not being able to get any information off the online DC property assessment database. It looks like the problem may be in the process of being fixed. He thought the problem might be that I use Netscape as a browser, and the database seems to only work well with MS Internet Explorer, although nothing on the District's web site tells you this. For the past two years, I would try to search the database and would just get bounced back to the home page for the agency. I had sent E-mails to the webmaster for the site, but got no help solving the problem. I E-mailed Councilmember Jim Graham on a related issue and also mentioned this problem. He contacted Suzanne Peck and below is her response.

[The response was essentially that the Office of the Chief Technology Officer would work with the Office of Tax and Revenue and the contracting site host, Accenture, to resolve the issue and to make sure that the site worked with all common browsers. — Gary Imhoff]


Getting Assessment Appeal Info
Mark Eckenwiler, eck[nospam] 

Contrary to Ann Loikow's otherwise well-founded lamentation about the latest real property assessments, DC government has made it easy to get the info and forms needed to file an appeal. The appeal form is at As for getting assessments of neighboring properties, see You can search by street address or sq./lot. For up to 200 summary records at once, enter only a square number or a neighborhood (e.g., Old City I) and sub-neighborhood. Using the OTR web site, I've compiled the data I'll be submitting with my appeal.

NOTA BENE: It took me forever to figure out that your browser must (for no good reason) allow cookies in order to use the database query form. Note also that MS Internet Explorer seems to work better than Netscape (at least if you want to search by sub-neighborhood).


Property Tax Appeal Form Available on the Web
Peter Luger,


Copied to themail
Brenda Crawford, 

Sylvia, thanks for sending me the information. It sounds like a rather detailed process to appeal the assessment by April 1st. I wish I had the time, I'd certainly do it. It's going to become very difficult to survive in this city. I guess they're trying to get rid of us. But the strong always survive! (smile). We have to continue to think and plan. I guess I had better add money to my escrow for taxes so my mortgage won't go up that the end of the year. See you when you get back from Florida. Brenda.


Assess Appeals Yourselves
Jeffrey Hops, 

On the record: A propos of real property appeals, DC's Board of Real Property Assessment and Appeals (BRPAA) is looking to fill five empty slots for commission members. These positions are mayoral appointments, with the consent of council. Candidates must be district residents, and have a professional background in either law, real-estate, or property appraisal. The candidates must also be able to hear appeals during regular business hours for at least a part of the day, so the candidates would need to have a flexible schedule. The sooner we get these slots filled, the more quickly 2nd level appeals can be processed. It also pays $25/hour — not a gigantic amount, but something. Interested parties should call the Chair, Libby Kavoulakis, at 727-6860 for more information on the responsibilities of the position and on the appointment process.


The Taxpayers Are Revolting
Lois Kirkpatrick, 

I used to be the Public Information Officer for the Tax Department, and it bugs me to hear people rant about the Evil Elected Officials Raising Taxes Through Assessments. In most cases, it really isn't that insidious, folks. The way assessments work is this: appraisers inspect properties and assign a value to them based on the recent sale price of similar properties. Assessments go up because people with similar properties have sold them for more money. When homes in our block have sold for $30,000 more than the asking price they had when we looked at buying them three years ago, I can see why our assessment has gone up. Not a lot of smoke and mirrors going on.


The National Capital Service Area and Property Taxes
Michael Bindner, 

Let me add that District property taxes service the District's general obligation debt. As part of the District budget, the ultimate authority for this debt is Congress, so the property taxes you are appealing are to service a debt that District citizens do not have the final authority in contracting. I suggest that whether you appeal or you pay, when you correspond with the District Government on this issue include a short note that you are doing so under protest against this situation.

The NCSA is significant, because under Evans v. Cornman (1970), the residents of it have the option of registering to vote locally (although most vote in their home states). If DC were to either gain statehood or retrocede those residents have the option of claiming presidential voting rights under the 23rd Amendment. Unless this amendment is repealed at that time, the powers that be must be careful to redraw the boundaries of the NCSA so that this does not occur.

Finally, as the National Capital Planning Commission holds jurisdiction over the enclave, it should be invoiced for the value of District services provided to it, with credit granted for any Defense impact aid or Dept. of Interior Payments in Lieu of Taxes received. Under the Home Rule Charter, the President is authorized to reimburse the District for any excess costs. Of course, the various Mayors and CFOs have been negligent in doing so -- although they were likely not aware that the NCPC was the Presidential agent in this matter. Now that the District has a billing address, it should submit a bill — a very large bill which includes all services less payments provided since FY 1975.


Candid Cameras
Dorothy Brizill, 

On Friday, the House Subcommittee on the District of Columbia held a public hearing on government's use of video surveillance cameras and the issue of privacy versus security. The testimony at that hearing is available at At the hearing, it was learned that video surveillance cameras are rapidly proliferating in the District, especially since September 11. In the District government, the Metropolitan Police Department currently has thirteen cameras; DC Public Schools and the Metro subway system have more than two hundred cameras each; and the DC Department of Transportation wants to establish a network of seven hundred street/traffic cameras. All of these cameras will be linked to MPD's central command center. In the federal government, the National Park Service will establish 24-hour video surveillance cameras to monitor public areas in and around the Washington Monument and the Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vietnam Veterans, and Korean War Memorials.

The American Civil Liberties Union and most citizens first learned about MPD's surveillance cameras, which were already in place, from a February 13 article in the Wall Street Journal. There was no prior notice or consultation with citizens or even with elected officials. Currently, there are no standards, rules, or policies in place regulating the use of surveillance cameras by MPD or the National Park Service. The Council has adopted emergency and temporary legislation requiring Chief Ramsey to issue regulations governing the cameras and to submit the regulations to the Council for a public hearing and approval ( And on Tuesday, the DC Federation of Citizens Associations will have a public meeting on the issue. See the Events listing by Ann Loikow below.

In an unrelated issue, at the February 12 hearing before the Council's Committee on Government Operations, DC's Inspector General Charles Maddox testified that his long overdue investigation into Mayor Williams secretive fundraising schemes would be completed by the end of March. Seven days and counting, if you believe it.


The St. Coletta Imbroglio
Jim Myers, 

To date, the controversy over the granting of free use of DC General land to St. Coletta of Greater Washington seems to have roused little interest away from the immediately affected area on eastern Capitol Hill. That circumstance may change with new reports of behind-the-scenes congressional staff intervention in the "planning process" that was supposed to give the public a say in the future use of the former DC General land. Various objections to the St. Coletta's deal were raised during the six planning meetings held in February and March. Some objections involved the apparent unwillingness of St. Coletta's give an inch in the planning process. Instead, St. Coletta's wanted its four-plus acres — roughly two city blocks — next to the Stadium-Armory Metro stop, 100 parking spaces, etc., and the Alexandria-based school refused to budge on any of this, openly claiming its clout in Congress gave them the land, etc., virtually as a matter or right.

St. Coletta's, which plans a school for 275 students with moderate to severe mental retardation, autism and secondary disabilities (and projects five group homes on DC General land, as well) is also the beneficiary of several earmarks in recent DC and HUD appropriations totaling $3 million or more. In March 22 open letter to St. Coletta's Executive Director Sharon Raimo, I raised the standard open-government objections to earmarks, but I also noted another drawback that is coming into play in the St. Coletta's case: “People will talk. Since you haven't won this particular funding in open competition, people will note that your husband is Counsel to Minority Leader Gephardt or that you have friends like Susan F. Brita. And they'll even ask, Who is Susan Brita? We now know that Alexandria resident Susan Brita is Staff Director for the Minority Democrats on the Subcommittee for Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management of which Eleanor Holmes Norton is a member. We have also heard from various sources that this same Susan Brita placed a Feb. 20 [2002] phone call to District Office of Planning Director Andrew Altman. Apparently, she happened to catch him when he was meeting with Council Member Sharon Ambrose and members of her staff and the planning staff, as well. So there are various accounts of what transpired — of how upset Altman got at this intervention on St. Coletta's behalf.

“Brita, we are now told — even in public meetings — essentially told Altman that either the District would give St. Coletta's the land it wants, and where it wants, or DC can forget about the transfer of Reservation 13. Brita said — according to the accounts now circulating — that draft legislation had already been written which would give St. Coletta's the land it wants — and DC could forget about the rest. Forgive us, but that idea sounds more like a threat than an endorsement of home rule. Do House Democrats still want to run DC like they did in the old days? Now, we don't know if this was a momentary aberration on Brita's part or on whose behalf or behest Brita actually called Altman. Maybe, she does such things as part of her job. Perhaps, she regularly writes legislation on her own and gets it through Congress. How are we to know?” Sadly, this discussion of St. Coletta's is getting far afield from the needs of special education children who are among the real aggrieved parties in our world. But still, the District's pathetic dysfunction in education should not be cause to throw other principles of open and accountable government out the window.


Four Buildings on DCGH Site Are on National Register of Historic Places
Carolyn Curtis, 

I have contacted the National Park Service re: the Gallinger Hospital and Reservation 13. There are four buildings on Reservation 13 that were entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. They are buildings Number 20, 21, 22, and 23. I have the documentation that they sent to me and will be most happy to get you a copy of this information. I spoke with Edson Beall of the National Park Service at 343-1572, who provided me with the information and documentation.

At the meeting held on March 20, 2002, there was much public sentiment regarding having a public hospital on the grounds and much inquiry into how and why St. Coletta's got the prime space on the grounds. When questioned about the fact that there were historical buildings on the grounds, Mr. Altman stated that they still needed to look into it. How is it that I can find out this information very easily and the Office of Planning, after being questioned about this by Ms. Cropp in December, still don't know if there are historical buildings on Reservation 13?


Mayor’s Housing Budget
Janet W. Brown, 

I thought Mayor Williams and Jack Evens were conspiring to postpone implementation of the Housing legislation. Well, they may indeed be conspiring, but it's not to postpone, but to cut the appropriation for the Housing Production Trust Fund by half. The Mayor's proposed budget is now out. What he has done is to cut the “dedicated” funds (15 percent of the real estate transfer tax and the recordation fees) to only 7.5 percent of these sources. If he and/or the Council can do this any time they want it for something else, it makes a mockery of the dedicated funding. The other parts of the legislation, mostly tax abatements for middle and upper income residents, will go forward on schedule — which will cost the city in revenues next year. The Mayor has also failed to put into the Housing Production Trust Fund the funds raised through the sale of vacant houses under Title VII of the Housing Act (that covers the homestead program), which amounts to another $8 million. So the $30 million that should go into the Housing Production Trust Fund will be only $11 million instead.

The Mayor is going back on the deal that he made just two months ago. I think we have not been dealt with honestly. On March 9th he publicly bragged about the legislation before two different audiences, specifically promising the funding at his budget meeting with citizens, in response to my question. That afternoon, at the official signing of the housing act, he thanked the housing activists that worked so hard for his bill. Oh, the cynicism of it all. I think he doesn't like the Housing Production Trust Fund now that it gives priority to really low-income families, especially to renters. Once again, DC's budget problems are being solved at the expense of the most vulnerable of our citizens. It was the low-wage workers who lost their jobs after 9/11. Now they will be paying the price again — in the budget cuts in affordable housing, Interim Disability Assistance, and a host of other ways.

Call and protest: the Mayor's office,; Deputy Mayor Eric Price, 727-6365; Steve Green (mayor's chief housing person), 727-6822; Council Members (don't forget Cropp and at-large), main number 727-8000.


Mayor Proposes Eliminating Aid for Low-Income Residents with Disabilities
T.J. Sutcliffe, So Others May Eat, 

In his 2003 budget, the Mayor proposes eliminating a small but critical program called Interim Disability Assistance, or IDA. Readers of themail will remember IDA from recent announcements about program's implementation. IDA is a new public benefit that provides short-term financial support to low-income DC residents with disabilities, while they are waiting to receive federal SSI “disability” benefits. IDA is endorsed and enthusiastically supported by 111 community-based groups from across the District.

Supporters had succeeded in seeing IDA partially funded with $2.15 million in 2002. This allowed the Department of Human Services to start IDA in February and assist up to 1,120 persons per month. Over 500 individuals have already applied for IDA, and approximately 5,000 are estimated to need IDA assistance annually. An estimated $7 million in local funds would assist all persons in need; after federal reimbursement, the net IDA budget would be approximately $5 million. The Mayor's budget provides no funding for IDA in 2003. Public assurances had been made earlier this winter that cuts to human services would come out of agency operating and fixed costs, with no impact on essential direct services like IDA. IDA supporters and outraged residents are asked to call and write to Councilmember Sandy Allen, who has championed the program in the past, and urge her to find funds to save IDA in 2003 (724-8045; 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 408; WDC 20004).


Marion Barry Target of Racism of the Washington Post
Arthur H. Jackson Jr., 

The Washington Post reported on Sunday March 24,2002 that former Mayor Marion Barry was accused, and not charged with drug possession. The facts surrounding this story are clear. How did The Washington Post find out about the accusation and, if the former Mayor was not charged, why was there a story? Unreleased polls will show Marion Barry leading all contenders for the Council at Large race by a wide margin, and the Washington Post is practicing racial politics by targeting an influential African American leader. Marion Barry would not allow any Mayor of this City to close our city's only public hospital and, one year later, announce a developer's plan to build hundreds of upscale townhouses on the site.

East of the River needs and deserves an At-Large Councilmember to work with Ward 7's Kevin Chavous and Ward 8's Sandy Allen to fight for the people. And to demand the DC Democratic Party start addressing real issues of concern to present and longtime residents of our city. In the past four years, we have build more new housing in Ward 8 than any other ward in our city. Then why are so many families homeless and roaming Martin L. King Avenue, SE? And the waiting list for public housing has nearly doubled since Mayor Barry left office. And local small disadvantaged business enterprises continue to be locked out of private development contracts in East of the River. Marion Barry created the office which was created to encourage use of small, minority and women owned business.

As an African American elected official, I call upon the Washington Post to end its racist attacks on black elected officials and activists to cover the poverty and pain caused by federal interference in our right of self-governance by creating an unjust and unfair control board. And the Washington Post needs to report how Marion Barry visited the volunteers, firefighters, and police officers at the Pentagon after the attack on America, and how he toured the disaster grounds. While I have refrained from issuing a public endorsement of any candidate for City Council at Large in the fall Democratic Primary, these kind of racist dirty political tricks, will only cause me and other progressive democrats to seriously consider endorsing Marion Barry for City Council at Large. This story by the Post has caused hundreds of telephone calls to my office expressing anger over both the timing and substance of the Post Story.


Left Holding the Bag
Ed T. Barron, 

It looks like Mayor Williams has been played the chump by the champ. Mike Tyson used the District to get a license to box by making the District think that he would have the fight held here. Now Mayor Williams is left holding the boxing bag as Mike Tyson takes his fight elsewhere.

P.S. Mayor Williams: Don't spend any District monies on promoting the District as the location for the 2012 Olympics. New York City has a lock on that event.


A Positive Note on the DMV
Yoma Ullman, 

This week I went down to C Street to renew my driver's license. I got there at about 8 a.m. on Wednesday and found a long line waiting. Once inside the dreaded room, our line was made orderly between velvet ropes and four people at the reception desk handed out forms and information. I was out in less than an hour, but don't think it was completely trouble-free. I asked the unsmiling young woman at the counter to please use a number other than my Social Security number on the new license. She didn't say a word, just typed things into her computer and sent me on. My new license turned out to have that Social Security number on it anyway. The nice woman behind the cameras said I should take it back to the same counter and it would be redone. The same young woman did it, without question, but also without smile, apology, or any acknowledgment of a human being requesting service to which she had every right. So, the surroundings are hugely improved, and I'm truly grateful, but work remains to be done on service.


DMV: One Citizen’s View
Bob Levine, 

A great story about the current state of the DMV for all of those that missed it:


Deer in DC
Paul Dionne, 

Are creatures wild if they are “confined to their natural habitat?” Sometimes I think I was born on a different planet. If a deer stumbled into our neighborhood someone was likely to shoot it and have it for dinner. In DC we outlaw guns, pay someone to “confine” animals to “their natural habitat” and pay someone else to feed the malnourished deer. Things that make you go hmmm.

And to think I grew up in that “liberal bastion of thought” Massachusetts just 15 years ago. Have times changed that much?


Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to Washington, DC
Mark David Richards, 16th Street NW, 

Here is good news. The 3rd Edition of Newcomer's Handbook, by Mike Livingston, is a dramatic improvement over the 2nd Edition. Newcomer's went from among the worst of 26 guidebooks to among the best in covering many of DC's sociopolitical issues. In January 2000, Cherith Richards Avery and I conducted a content analysis of popular tourist guidebooks for visitors to DC. We checked for coverage of forty pieces of information related to DC's sociopolitical status and relationship with the federal government: We set a high bar. The best guides (Michelin and Rough) covered 12 of 40 elements. The previous edition of Newcomer's didn't cover any of the forty. A quick tab of the new edition shows it covers 14 of 40 elements, so it now ranks as the best for at least touching on the issues. (Be aware that some other guides may have made changes since our evaluation; I am not certain.)

Newcomer's Handbook is double the size of the previous edition, and there's a good reason. In our 2000 evaluation, we examined the number of neighborhoods mentioned (not quality of discussion) for 114 DC neighborhoods. The best guide on this measure — Washington Historical Atlas — mentioned 40 areas. Newcomer's Handbook previously mentioned 18. Livingston doubled the number, up to 41. He clusters DC into 14 bounded neighborhoods within which are 27 unbounded sub units (total of 41 neighborhoods mentioned). He shows 17 bounded neighborhoods West of 16th Street and 10 ones East of 16th Street. Anacostia is treated as a single area, all of East of the River. For each bounded area, the guide gives information about: Web Sites, zip codes, post offices, police station, emergency hospital, libraries, public high school, government, parks, community resources, and public transportation. There is a brief description of each area. The guide also covers the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia in equally detailed and similar way. It has a calendar of a "Washington Year," and sections on cultural life, helpful services, green space, places of worship, volunteering (Stand Up for Democracy Coalition is listed), and quick getaways-among other items.

As you can see, Newcomer's offers tons of information. Even themail is mentioned: “It's the digital equivalent of the cracker barrel at the general store — a place to chat with neighbors, share reviews of neighborhood businesses, swap advice about dealing with city bureaucrats, and debate current events in the community.” I always like to see more rather than less coverage of DC history and a local history timeline. The Newcomer's Guide is not really the place to go for history (Washington Historical Atlas and The Guide to Black Washington are much stronger as that is their primary focus) or for interesting graphic design (it's hard to beat Michelin). But, it gives a great Reading List, with titles sorted by Washington Area Guides, DC History, Biographies and Memoirs, Children, and Fiction. In my quick read of Newcomer's, I found a few inaccuracies: (1) “the majority of the population has always been so-called minorities” (maybe, if you count Irish and Germans...) (2) “South of Florida Avenue, the land between the Potomac and Anacostia rivers was mostly swamp, now filled in and paved over;” and “...Pierre L'Enfant hired to turn a 69-square-mile expanse of swamps and hills into a capital city of broad, tree-lined avenues and panoramic views” (this myth has more than nine lives), (3) Jefferson fired L'Enfant (it was Washington), and (4) “In 1846, Congress agreed to let Arlington residents hold a referendum to choose whether their county would remain in DC or be 'retroceded' to Virginia; retrocession won” (in fact, Alexandria City was included in the referendum, but not Alexandria County/country; residents of Alexandria County protested retrocession). Considering the dramatic improvements to the 3rd Edition, the problems seem minor. This is a winner. Thank you Mike Livingston for taking the initiative and producing a product that DC can be proud of. Bravo!



Mendelson To Hold Property Tax Town Hall Meetings
Phil Mendelson, 

Ever since the Office of Tax and Revenue mailed out real property assessments earlier this month, I have received numerous calls and letters from shocked, confused, and frustrated citizens. Many have questions about how the Office arrived at their proposed assessed value, how to appeal their assessment, and where the 25 percent cap comes in. In response to these concerns, I will be holding Town Hall Meetings in three of the areas that have been hardest hit by the rise in assessed value. At each meeting, representatives from the Board of Real Property Assessment and Appeals will be on hand to answer general questions about the appeals process and specific questions about individual assessments. The deadline for citizens to appeal their assessment for tax year 2003 is Monday, April 1st.

All citizens are invited to join me at one of the following meetings. For more information, please call my office at 724-8064. Ward 2, Foggy Bottom/Georgetown, Monday, March 25, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., West End Branch Public Library, 1104 24th Street, NW (at L Street, NW), large meeting room. Ward 6, Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 27, 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Northeast Branch Public Library, 330 7th Street, NE (at Maryland Avenue), 2nd floor meeting room, Ward 1, Columbia Heights/Kalorama, Thursday, March 28, 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Mount Pleasant Branch Public Library, 3160 16th Street, NW (near Lamont).


March 26 Federation Forum on MPD Surveillance Camera Program
Ann Loikow, 

As part of its regular monthly meeting, the Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia will sponsor a public forum on the DC Metropolitan Police Department's (MPD) surveillance camera program on Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Sumner School at 17th and M Streets NW. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton will open the forum and discuss her proposed “Open Society with Security Act,” which calls for a dialogue on how the United States should meet its security needs without sacrificing fundamental liberties and constitutional values.

Jeffrey Rosen, an associate professor at the George Washington University Law School, legal affairs editor of The New Republic, and author of “The Unwanted Gaze,” will discuss the British precedent for the use of general population surveillance cameras, privacy concerns and privacy law. Chief Charles Ramsey of the MPD (or another senior police official) will discuss the Department's current and proposed camera system, its effectiveness, and the Department's proposed policy guidelines on the use of surveillance cameras, which are expected to be released prior to the meeting. Chief Ramsey promised the DC Council at the Judiciary Committee's February 22 oversight hearing that the Department would develop policy guidelines on the use of surveillance cameras within 30 days. The Federation's March 26 meeting should be one of the first public meetings at which these guidelines will be discussed. Johnny Barnes, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for the National Capital Area, will address the ACLU's concerns about the MPD's surveillance camera program and the proposed policy guidelines.

The Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia was organized March 5, 1910, and is one of the District of Columbia's oldest citywide citizen organizations, whose membership consists of 39 citizen and civic organizations representing neighborhoods from all over the District of Columbia.


Children’s Bazaar and Flea Market
Susan Ousley, 

Clothes, books, toys, games, uniforms, furniture, sports equipment! Lunch deals, bake sale, beverages! Saturday, April 13, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ, 4704 13th Street, NW. For more information, call 829-5511. Sponsored by parents of Junior Girl Scout Troop 1451 to support troop trip to Savannah , GA.


Avalon Reopening Meeting
Jennifer Kaplan, 

A change in the terms on which the Avalon Theater may be leased has brought a much improved prospect for reopening the Theater as a movie house. Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson sponsored a meeting in her office last Thursday with Doug Jemal and a number of community representatives. The negotiation resulted in a challenge to Avalon Theater Project (ATP), enthusiastically accepted, to bring a proposal to Douglas Development by June 21. At that time, ATP is to offer a sound business plan, with partners and funding accounted for. If all is in place, Jemal has pledged to sign the lease with a lease rate that makes operation of the theater feasible.

An open house for volunteer and supporters will be held in the Chevy Chase Community Center on Wednesday, April 3, at 7:00 p.m. The latest Avalon news will be reported, a discussion of needed action will take place, and opportunities to volunteer to take part in this important and challenging effort will be presented. The job is large and will need many volunteers.


Under Occupation
Renee Fulton, 

Under Occupation: A Palestinian Teach-In, will be held on Tuesday, March 26, at 7:30 - 9:30 p.m., at Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston, 1625 Wiehle Avenue, Reston, VA 20190. Speakers: Barbara Wien and Issam Khoury. If you are curious to learn first hand about the situation in Palestine and the facts about U.S. involvement in the conflict please come to this community meeting. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Refreshments will be served.

Barbara Wien just returned from a dangerous and hair-raising trip into the middle of the bloody conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. She has an important perspective to share. A long time peace activist, she published her first book on peace education at the age of 24, which sold over 10,000 copies and went into a sixth edition. When she was just 27, she led an international delegation of 300 labor union presidents to El Salvador to try to stop the killing of trade union activists by the army's death squads. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from American University's School for International Service and has done graduate work at City University of New York in Comparative World History and Economics. She earned a teaching certificate from Columbia University Teachers College. Issam Khoury is a Palestinian refugee, born and raised in Kuwait where he lived until he was displaced again by the Iraqi invasion. He moved to Cyprus where he graduated from high school. He came to the States in 1995, and completed his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Tech in 1998. He obtained his M.A. in Arabic Literature from Ohio State in 2001, and currently lives in the DC area. He is a member of SUSTAIN, AL-AWDA, and other grassroots activist organizations. For more information write or


Moving Sale
Paul Silva, 

Furniture for sale: dinette set (tabletop is dark solid wood with black iron legs and four matching black chairs), white IKEA bookshelf, black IKEA sofa table, black matching coffee table and end tables, black leather foot stool, black wood swivel TV stand, short black bookshelf (30 X 36), brown wood 7-drawer dresser (free if you can move it!), telephone stand, and more. All prices negotiable (some stuff free). E-mail Everything must go ASAP!



Computer Guru Highly Recommended
Laurie England, 

After spending over four hours in vain to fix a computer problem, including calling tech support at Apple and Adobe as well as trying to troubleshoot the problem myself, I was ready to go out and buy a new computer. But then I remembered seeing an ad for “Mac the Knight.” After leaving a distressed message on a voice mail, I got a call back within minutes. Dave Felton came to my rescue the next day at noon. Right on time, Dave arrived with his diagnostic CDs and immediately went to work. Less than fifteen minutes later, my computer was working and I was back in business. If you ever are stranded with a problem on a Mac or PC, I highly recommend that you call Dave at 703-447-7323.


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To subscribe, to change E-mail addresses, or to switch between HTML and plain text versions of themail, use the subscription form at To unsubscribe, send an E-mail message to with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Archives of past messages are available at

All postings should also be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)