Most Important Message
The E-mail spammers are getting nastier. As I wrote several months
ago, I don't mind spam E-mail much. I don't even run a spam filter,
because it doesn't take that much effort just to hit the delete button.
But lately the titles of spam messages are going far beyond provocative
and misleading; they're becoming aggressive and vicious. The “Get Rich
Quick” and “Live Nude Girls” titles in the older general of spam
just amused me, but “Foreclosure Notice” could have given me a heart
attack, if I had a mortgage. “FW: Important” wasn't, and “Urgent
and Confidential” was neither. “It's Me Jessica” wasn't from any
Jessica I knew, although I appreciated her kind offer to reveal
absolutely everything to me. To the company pretending to be a person
who asked “Do You Remember Me?,” no, I never knew you. Completely
unconvincing was “Your Contest Entry Won, Tom,” since I'm not Tom
and never have been. “Invoice #76893” wasn't for anything I bought,
“Notice of Issuance” wasn't for anything issued to me, and “Notice
of Shipment” wasn't for anything being shipped to me. “Did You Get
Your Check?” sounded promising, as did “We Found Your Lost Money,”
but both spammers were more interested in getting money from me than in
giving money to me. “Re: Your Account” was vaguer, but had nothing
to do with any of my accounts anywhere. “Important Security
Announcement” was unimportant and didn't increase my security.
Completely disconcerting was the series of messages that started with
“IRS Notice,” progressed to “IRS Notification,” advanced to
“Your IRS Payment,” and finally took a quantum leap to “Your PAST
DUE IRS Account,” but luckily none of them was from the IRS.
I suppose the spam E-mail title that was closest to true was “You
Could Be in Serious Trouble,” but then again, isn't that's true about
all of us?
The government of Nigeria is now finally countering the scam spam
E-mails that ask for your help in sneaking money out of the country.
It's fighting the scam by, what else, putting up a web site. See the
story at http://www.computerworld.com/storyba/0,4125,NAV47_STO69562,00.html.
Is it just me, or are most sane and reasonable people sick to death
of the never-ending saga of Marion Barry? His latest, and I might add
very lucky for him, brush with law enforcement while in a compromising
situation with drugs once again points to the sad fact that Barry is who
he has always been. He is at best a divisive street punk who was given
extraordinary opportunity to do good and miserably failed because of his
own personal shortcomings of integrity and self-will. And, Marion Barry
is at heart a racist whose recent statements about the racial
composition of the D. C. Council and the mix of business in this city is
nauseating and race baiting. Now he comes once again asking for a job
from the people. His words have been divisive, vile and he once again
seeks to use the race card to rile people to vote for him. The recent
themail contribution that accused the Washington Post of racism for
publishing an official police incident report underlines that Barry, as
he always has, plays the card to his advantage and to the disadvantage
of the city that he professes to love.
Barry, you may recall, is also the guy who frequently reminded us as
Mayor that his was service of sacrifice inasmuch as he could make untold
monies working in the private sector. Well, I don't know about you, but
I don't remember reading of Barry's appointment to multiple boards or
heading major corporations or playing Vernon-Jordan-style power
brokering. The worst of Barry is that he actually has people believing
that he has their best interest at heart. Barry has never had anyone's
best interest closer to him then his own — financial and personal. Has
not this city's reputation and quality of life not suffered enough under
his horrible stewardship? Have we not endured enough worldwide
embarrassment because to his conduct and arrogant antics? I strongly
suggest that this city and its residents recognize Barry for who he is
and keep this divorce final — his separation from public office. I
feel sorry for anyone who would hold this ! man up as a role model for
young people. His life has been anything but a model and that is
entirely his fault. Marion Barry, go away!
Does trace amounts of cocaine and marijuana mean that Marion Barry
was once again doing illegal substances? I would venture to beg that it
does! I thought he was cured. What B**ch set him up this time? I hope
this will finally put to bed any possible chance of a rerun this city
might ever have for a Marion return to public life.
Sprint PCS Phones Blaring Ads During Meetings
Austin Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org
I was headed into a meeting at work, when suddenly my Sprint PCS
phone began blaring an ad for wireless web service. A spectacularly
nasty letter to the CEO of Sprint got me the remarkable claim that they
would never do such a thing, and perhaps my phone is defective! Normally
this wouldn't be a particularly DC issue, but marketing experiments
(which I strongly suspect this is, despite the adamant denial) are often
limited to one or two geographical areas. So I ask the readers of
themail — any of you have “defective” phones that suddenly start
spewing ads? Let me know. I'd love to confront Sprint with a
geographically concentrated rash of “defects.”
Spending the Money Unwisely
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
The proposal to raise teachers' salaries 19 percent over the next
three years is both right and wrong. Raising teachers' salaries is a
great idea if the money is used only to increase the starting salaries
for new teachers. The District must be more than competitive in
attracting good new teachers. The only way to do that is to offer much
more than competing school districts in Montgomery County, Arlington,
and Fairfax counties, which have much better teaching environments and
higher quality students.
Paying the current teachers, who are already high up on the salary
scale, more money (a 6 percent raise each year for those in the higher
brackets is a lot more dollars than at the low end of the scale) will
never make them better teachers. DC schools need much more qualified
teachers than we have right now if the quality of instruction is to
result in better prepared students. We need to bring in the best
teachers who want to teach in the Washington area. If we offer the same
amount of starting salaries as the surrounding counties we will continue
to get the dregs and not the best. Spend the additional dollars wisely
at the front end and raise the starting salary to $40K or more and watch
the quality of education get much better in the DC schools.
Hello, the new list, northerncorner, serves the neighborhoods of
Colonial Village, North Portal Estates, and Rock Creek Gardens. We would
appreciate it if you would list us in your links section. The address is
[Susie Cambria, firstname.lastname@example.org,
suggested that it may be time to update the list of DC listservs. The
list is available at http://www.dcwatch.com/links.htm#email.
If you have additions or corrections, please send them in. — Gary
Does anyone have accurate E-mail addresses for City Council members?
I tried to send Jack Evans an E-mail using the address on the city web
site and got this: “Host dccouncil.washington.dc.us not found. The
following recipients did not receive this message: email@example.com.”
The domain seems to be nonexistent.
[That's the right domain, but the Council has been having trouble
with its phones and web site. Has anyone else had trouble getting
through? — Gary Imhoff]
Across the Board Increases Through
Nancy Huvendick, firstname.lastname@example.org
I litigated this issue back in the late 1980's; after I filed my
brief in the Court of Appeals the District agreed to my position to
avoid having to take an adverse decision. I'll have to dig out the brief
Assessments and Property Values
William Haskett, email@example.com
I follow the logic of Dr. Craig's objections (http://www.dcwatch.com/columns/craig.htm),
but believe that there is something more direct that should be said
about the whole process. Firstly, it continues the tradition of
administrative incompetence that we have all grown accustomed to from
past experience: to tie taxation to a notional market value is to tie
actual use-values — the fact that we live in a house which keeps the
rain off — to the temporary and external opinion that this particular
house would bring x-dollars if it were on the market — which, in most
instances, it is not. We are then taxed as though we had actually
received this market-increment at once, and could use it as an asset.
This is only true if, indeed, we move to sell it at once, and if we do
then receive that notional market value. The result is to penalize the
stayers — those we wish to keep — and to reward the goers, who have
only a temporary interest in the utility-value reflected in the
existence of the actual house. This in turn reverses the incentive
structure that any government ought to be interested in.
But also, with houses, we seem to have gone backward: from an
impossible task of assessing each house each year, at 100% of its market
value, we shifted to a triennial system which had at least the apparent
benefit of one-thirding whatever work is involved . . . and now have
gone back to the original impossibility of assessing each property every
year. I'd have thought that even that is strange, since you cannot find
out what the market value of any house is in the current year in which
it is not sold, but must retrospectively be compared to others which
did. This is where I'd have supposed that Dr. Craig's objections for
Cleveland Park (and any other areas similarly affected) are strongest,
since if each house is to be taken on its own, rather than grouped with
others of similar type or value, then the task becomes enormous, and
probably futile. It simply confirms that I benefit from an increased
assessment only if I sell, and am damaged only if I do not sell. The
damage, of course, then continues to impose tax burdens on me from that
time forward, and never goes back until I sell the house. Understand
that my comments are simply those of commonsense in assessing the actual
administrative possibilities for an office staff in assessments which, I
am told, amounts to 20 or so people. Under whatever system you use, this
becomes an enormous burden of work, under the system actually employed
it becomes (as Dr. Craig points out) inequitable and unjust.
This is my principal conclusion about District government: that it
lacks the fundamental administrative good sense to carry out fairly and
properly the political and financial obligations it undertakes for
itself -- without, I suspect, always understanding what is involved in
those programs and processes. And that is what I think is probably the
I was offended by Ms. Lois Kirkpatrick's comments on property
assessments, but I can forgive her because she has the benefit of the
Fairfax County experience. Fairfax County has a reputation for providing
fair and accurate assessments. They have a good methodology, excellent
software, and fair, competent employees. In DC, appraisers do not
inspect properties! They never get off their proverbial duffs and into
the streets. I agree with every comment that Dr. Peter Craig made about
the process in DC. I appealed the proposed 2002 tax assessment of my
residence primarily on the basis of equity and got nowhere. At the first
appeal level, the tax assessor kept me waiting for my assigned appeal
appointment for 1 hour and 40 minutes with not a single word of apology.
In contrast, all the other appraisers were meeting with the appointees
filing in and out of the office in as scheduled. I could tell that she
was not familiar with my neighborhood and really did not want to make
the effort to be so. I didn't ask, but she probably lives in Maryland.
When there is a $300,000 assessment discrepancy between my house and its
mirror image built next to each other on the same street by the same
builder on similar lot sizes in 1900, there is something wrong with the
process. I could go on about my experience with BPRAA, but I will stop
here. Anyone looking at the DC data would be able to find prominent
patterns of inequity and discrimination and I hope someone sues the
pants off DC because their process is constitutionally unfair. I
contrast this experience with my friend who purchased a house in
Arlington. The county appraiser actually called her and discussed his
appraisal with her so she was not surprised and also she had the
opportunity to discuss any issues with him. I pray for that kind of
competency for DC but despair of it ever happening.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed advice and web links to help
those of us who wanted to file an appeal of their property assessments.
It is unfortunate but hardly surprising that the District government was
not at all helpful. The strength of themail is its participants, who are
more dedicated to making the District a livable place than its elected
officials and civil servants.
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Mat and 255 lb Weight Set
Kate Zimmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Great deal for someone who wants to work out at home. Key Strength
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Weight bar safety hooks and retainer spring clips. Exercises — leg
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CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
I Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Need
John P. Clarke, email@example.com
I've read books, done therapy, and consulted with many for over
sixteen years without any substantial progress. Among other problems, I
need to deal with a mental compulsion to break apart words and phrases
into symmetrical groups, the continual counting and sorting of
everything I see, and the uncontrollable parade of ideas in my head
competing for attention. This interferes with concentration, impairs
decision-making, and leads to frustration and depression.
I would welcome suggestions, possible solutions, reference materials,
referrals, anything you might recommend. Please E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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