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May 15, 2002

Keep It Quiet

Dear Speed Racers:

Imagine a car race so loud that the noise can be heard ten miles away. Oh wait, you don't have to imagine it; you'll be able to hear it yourself in two months. The National Grand Prix/American Le Mans Series race at RFK Stadium on July 19-21 will break every noise and air pollution regulation in the District and the Metropolitan region -- the cars have no mufflers, no catalytic converters, and belch gas emissions straight into the air -- during the height of what is normally our code red air pollution days of summer. Dorothy wrote about the environmental problems with the race last September, when it was first announced (“Start Your Engines,” at In the intervening eight months, the city government has simply ignored all of the environmental issues; it has not done the environmental impact statement that is required by city and federal laws, and it will probably hold the race without submitting any EIS for public review.

The Williams administration, true to its usual practice of making the important decisions behind closed doors and in secret, still refuses to release the ten-year contract with the race organizers that the city signed months ago, and it continues to keep the neighborhoods around RFK Stadium in the dark about its plans. In this case, however, the administration has gone even further than usual -- it hasn't even bothered with its usual pretense of listening to citizens by having the Office of Planning hold irrelevant and inconsequential public meetings. The Washington Post finally woke up to this issue with Serge Kovaleski's good article on Monday ( Let's hope that this late alarm wakes up the local and national environmental organizations, and impels them to help the citizens of the River Terrace, Kingman Park, and Capitol East neighborhoods, who of course are much less important to our city's government than sports promoters.

Gary Imhoff 


The Words We Have to Eat
Harold Foster, 

Well, we now know that Marriott has, in effect, bought up the entire eastern flank of the new Convention Center. Funny. I seem to recall all those fulsome commitments from both the usual suspects in both the public and private sector about how the residents of the neighborhoods immediately adjoining the convention center would still be there once this monstrous urban Pharaonic exercise was completed.

I cannot pin down the particulars, but the fallout is also beginning to roll northward from our own little Ground-Zero-on-the-Installment-Plan with the new owners of Giant Food having snapped up the O Street Market. As a third-generation African-American Washingtonian (I don't use the word 'native' because we already insult the Indians enough), I am reminded of a joke I heard some years back: “They all got together West of the Park last night and agreed to make the Official Announcement today that, 'No, there is no “Plan.”'”


Praise for a DC Council Staffer
Joan Eisenstodt, 

I posted a note in themail about frustration in dealing with the District about a dead tree, a crosswalk that wasn't marked (and a stop sign that wasn't visible) and other neighborhood problems. Alec Evans, in Phil Mendelson's office, saw my post and moved . . . well, not mountains but trees! The dead tree is gone. We miss it and hope to replace it with something for shade this summer, but no more do we fear falling limbs. The crosswalk is complete, and the other stuff is in the works. Alec is now an honorary member of our block and deserves applause from all in the District for doing what others didn't offer to do and what we on the block have tried to accomplish for years. Bravo Alec!


Right Red Arrow
Annie McCormick, 

At Thomas Circle and Massachusetts to the left side of the Capital City Church, there is a red arrow signal for cars. I assume this to mean there is no right turn on a red arrow onto Massachusetts Avenue. The pedestrians have a walk signal. More times than I care to tell, I have been practically run over by a car that does not stop for the red arrow, or may stop and then turn onto Massachusetts. Isn't this illegal? I thought a red arrow meant no turn.


A DC Family Whose Contributions We Enjoy
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, 

The Noyes family in the history of DC seems fascinating. On May 9, 1976, The Washington Post published, “A Tale of Two Families,” by Stephen Klaidman, about how Crosby Stuart Noyes and Samuel H. Kauffman parlayed an investment of $33,333.33 in “a fledging newspaper called The Evening Star,” and over four generations turned it into "one of the most successful and solidly respectable dailies in America." After 100 years, the Star was near ruin — but provided a century of “the stock for a rich sociological stew.” Klaidman called Crosby Noyes “the dynastic founder.” I have been reading about the work of Crosby Noyes' two sons, Theodore and Frank, and like the two concepts they together highlighted: rights and responsibilities. These Noyes brothers led two important DC campaigns — the campaign to pass a Constitutional amendment for national voting rights, which eventually resulted in the 23rd Amendment, and the campaign to build the DC World War Memorial in West Potomac Park, where you can picnic under impressive shade trees today.

Theodore Noyes focused on DC's rights, both economic and political, and worked unremittingly as long as he lived. He was the original promoter of the DC’s citizens association movement, an early member of the Washington Board of Trade, and was a longtime president of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants. He became a reporter on The Washington Star in 1877. In 1888, he argued for a DC Constitutional amendment for national voting rights. His amendment proposal avoided the issue of self-government, for which he is sometimes criticized today. He was Editor-in-Chief from 1908 until his death. In 1915, he formed the Citizens Joint Committee on Fiscal Relations between DC and the Federal Government and in 1916 he formed and led the Citizens’ Joint Committee on National Representation for the District of Columbia, composed of about thirty local organizations. He wrote a book titled Our National Capital and Its Un-Americanized Americans. World Wars I and II slowed the amendment campaign, but Noyes never failed to highlight the need to “Americanize” DC residents. Historian John Clagett Proctor was friends with and wrote a poem honoring Mr. Noyes in 1938 at a dinner honoring his 80th anniversary. The 23rd Amendment eventually passed, granting DC residents the right to vote for three electors for President, equal to the number granted to the least populated state — fourteen years after his death on July 4, 1946. It was far short of his intent because it did not include voting rights in the Senate and House (an important lesson about amendments). Mr. Noyes left the income from a $25,000 trust for DC suffrage, which was used for the campaign to pass the amendment. He wrote, “I create this trust in order to continue to participate in a small way even after my death in the campaign for District national representation, because I am convinced no other legislation is so essential to the welfare of the men and women of my home community.” A plaque was presented on behalf of his service in 1963 to the central branch of the DC Public Library at 8th and K. Theodore was instrumental in opening the Washington Zoo and in establishing a free public library for the city — a library that in 2003 will open as DC's City Museum.


Tuition Grant Logic
Susan Ousley, 

From a DC Tuition Grant Program poster: “Eligible students must have graduated . . . and have begun his or her freshman year of college. . . .”


Another Nail in the Coffin
Ed T. Barron, 

Just when you think that the DC Public School System has reached the bottom, you find the hole getting deeper. In an announcement, this week the school system has announced that, because they overspent their budget this year, the largest majority of kids who need Summer School will be out of luck. Fewer than half the 20000 kids who attended Summer School in DC last year will be able to do so this summer. This, in spite of studies that show that a five-week summer school program is effective and, nationwide, is being rapidly expanded. Here is another DC agency that is not in control and cannot provide the services needed by the kids in the District.

The other announcement, this one by the President, is that he will support single-sex schools. This is something that will really work (in spite of the ACLU's opposition). Single-sex schools, particularly at the secondary level, enable the students to focus on what they are doing in the classroom. The posturing and distractions of having the other sex in the classroom disappear and more real teaching and learning take place. I hope that some of the DC schools will convert and offer, on a voluntary basis, the opportunity to attend these single-sex schools.


It Takes Gaull
Lars Hydle, 

Only a few weeks ago themail contributors were lamenting that neither the Mayor nor Councilmembers were facing any serious challengers this year. Now that Erik Gaull is reported to be planning to challenge incumbent Ward 3 Councilmember Patterson, Ed T. Barron heaps abuse on him.

Democracy only works for the voters if there is some doubt about who will win an election. Let's hold the coronation until we see what Erik has to offer.


What Gall
Mary Rowse, 

Actually Ed, Kathy Patterson's the one with the gall to run for a third term after casting her self-serving vote last spring repealing the 1994 initiative on term limits supported by 62 percent of DC voters, and after vigorously supporting Mendelson's ridiculous redistricting plan that violated nearly every principle of redistricting the Council said it would follow. Patterson's the one with the gall to place her judgment over the will of 84,000 DC voters seeking term limits and over the will of thousands of her own Chevy Chase neighbors who pleaded with her to keep their community in one ward.


I Vote for a Ward 3 Election
Alan Schwartz, 

I can't decide whether to laugh or cry at Ed Barron's remark that Erik Gaull is on a fool's errand to challenge Kathy Patterson for the Ward 3 Council seat. Barron says she should win easily; he protests too much. What is he afraid of? The Jarvis syndrome? Patterson already voted to repeal term limits, maybe Barron would go a step further and not have elections at all. Barron may not have heard of Erik Gaull before, but a lot of us in Ward 3 never hear back from Kathy Patterson when we ask for her to stand up for us. When we do hear from her, it is usually to dismiss our concerns. She was especially good at this during last year's redistricting fiasco, and, of course, she thinks she knows better on the “big issues” like term limits. Ugh.


Parking in DC Sucks
Mark Richards, 

It is clear. Parking in DC sucks. I, like Wendy Stengel who posted a parking rant in the last issue of themail, had a car for the first couple years in DC. I was so infuriated so many times that I actually decided to rid myself of the troublemaker, and haven’t had one since. But sometimes people need to have a car. (Not everybody wants to arrive at their next appointment sweating from their bike ride, now, do they?) My issue is parking garages -- there aren’t enough of them. From a market point-of-view, this doesn’t make sense, does it? Is the issue the cost of parking? There seems to be a monopoly. I can imagine building parking lots under things and can think of one ballpark in my neighborhood that would be a good place to put an underground lot. The people who live around this area and who are constantly looking at the license plates to try to estimate how many Virginia and Maryland tags are taking their potential spaces, could buy yearly spaces, and many would thank the Buddha in some new yearly rite. What did Barney Frank say? People in his area know he is responsible for a bridge or something, so they reelect him every year and he gets to do what he wants on other issues. Parking — the new frontier in DC electoral politics.


Red Light Cameras
Ralph Blessing, 

James Treworgy repeats the Dick Armey/Washington Times propaganda about red light cameras being installed at intersections where the yellow lights have been shortened in order to trap motorists. I'd be curious to know which DC locations Mr. Treworgy could identify where that is the case. From everything I've read and heard, the cameras were installed at those intersections that have had the greatest number of traffic fatalities over the years. Guess it depends on how one defines public safety.


Security and Protecting Historic Documents
Mark Richards, 

I’ll have to say that I’ve observed the same thing as Paul Williams regarding security at MLK. You really can carry your cell phone through the metal detector? The Washingtoniana collection is great, and people who work there are very nice and helpful, but I don’t think they have the staff they really need. All types of people use the library, and that is an understatement. At the Arlington County Central Library, there is no security guard, but there are some sort of detectors at the entrance on at least one side that go off periodically due to the weather. I set it off not long ago and dutifully read the sign and went to the desk to report the incident, but they weren’t very concerned (that’s how I learned about the humidity issue). Their library is very nice and well kept; fairly new. Many of the original county records are in Richmond. The National Archives probably sets the standard when it comes to protecting historical documents one would like to have available in 200 years . . . the paper in the photocopy machine has National Archives written on it, so it would be hard to confuse a copy with an original, and the people at the front desk actually look for the seal. Other rules are very strict and enforced. I marvel and LOVE the fact that we have a tradition of keeping many records for the curious people who appear down the road. It is no small pleasure to hold a Memorial sent to Congress by DC citizens in 1803 with hundreds of original signatures.


MLK Security
Paul Williams, 

I received this from Plez Jenkins, the head of MLK Security, in response to my triad over lack of security at MLK in the last issue of themail. While I'm impressed that he responded, I'm also disappointed that he didn't address the lack of anyone at the machine that I have documented eight times in the past few months. Also, I believe the sensitivity of the machine should sound an alarm when I have a large cache of coins, pens, electronic equipment, and the like . . . much larger combined than a specific illegal item that he claims his machine can detect. In any event: his response:

“First, I want to say since my arrival approx. 3 yrs ago this department has made great strides in training, customer service, and overall its professionalism. These officers who you refer to as being 'pathetic' on a daily basis go out of their way to help our customers. Be it a handicap person who is unable to clean-up themselves in a restroom to preventing a verbal argument from turning into a physical assault, these devoted (not highly paid) servants work very hard at maintaining the peace. There is not a week that passes that they are not threatened, or put in harms way in carrying out their duties. Secondly, this detection system that you say allows you to bring in keys, watches, etc. My comment to you is none of these items are illegal. My equipment is set-up to prevent illegal weapons from entering, not nickels and other such items. I do admit it is a challenge to maintain balance in terms of sensitivity levels that do not make overly unbearable for the customer.

“Lastly, we are proud that we are able to maintain an environment that is relatively safe of violent crime. As always we do seek to improve. That's why I would like to extend and invitation to you to visit my department at earliest convenience so that any other issues or concerns can be conveyed in person rather through E-mail. Sincerely, Plez Jenkins, Head, Security Department”


Self-Government and Other Values
William Haskett, 

I listened to Mr. Gandhi, the District's Chief Financial Officer, at the monthly meeting of the Palisades' Citizens' Association the other evening. I heard what he said about the District's favorable financial situation at the moment (we have a little more than $200 million in cash) but at the same time can only hope that Congress will give us $400 million in Federal Payment.) The two most expensive parts of the coming budget are "health" costs, and education (especially special education for students with a variety of learning disabilities) which together take up 40 percent of the budget.

I asked whether it was not obvious that the District, as presently populated and taxed could not afford the putative costs of statehood. This means that several state functions are, I believe, carried by the Federal government under arrangements worked out with the former Control Board. At least some departments of the District government are still in receivership, I believe, to underscore this proposition. At the same time, the District government is required by its own constitution (as well as by law) to present to Congress a balanced budget, defined as one where expected income precisely offsets projected costs. The product of this convergent series of hopes, expectations and calculations is either: a District government which is bound to be bankrupt, sooner or later; or a tax-burden which must be higher than it is now and placed as a simple cost on the District's present population.

This combination has enormous repercussions upon the future, upon relations with Congress, and upon who can afford to live in the District. Statehood without some fundamental alteration in the terms of at least some elements of this puzzled equation can solve nothing. Indeed, it merely sharpens the dilemmas. Until we have some prospect of an answer to some of these questions. . . . I leave it to your readers to finish the sentence.


Constitutional Amendments
Michael Bindner, mbindnerdc at aol dot com

The proposed constitutional amendment we have been discussing must have a “statehood/retrocession” escape clause, so that it is automatically repealed in case of either.


Easier Compared to What?
Timothy Cooper, 

Mr. Sobelsohn's argument against the Equal Constitutional Rights Amendment (ECRA) boils down to this: DC statehood and DC retrocession to Maryland are legislatively easier to accomplish than the ERCA, and should therefore be embraced. His subjective assumption, however, belies the objective facts. After a successful hearing in the House in 1993, DC statehood legislation was soundly defeated along party lines in the House of Representatives. No further hearings have been held in the House since. Del. Norton has declined to introduce a statehood bill in the House since 1995. There have been no hearings held on DC statehood legislation in the US Senate -- ever. Moreover, hearings have never even been held on DC retrocession, notwithstanding a bill introduced each year since 1992 in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio). No hearings have ever been held on DC retrocession in the Senate. As a result, it has never come up for a vote in Congress.

Significantly, though, hearings were held in both the House of Representatives and the US Senate on two previous constitutional amendments in support of DC voting rights (the 1960 presidential voting rights amendment and 1978 congressional voting rights amendment). Both amendments were then passed by majority votes in both houses, where they enjoyed considerable bipartisan support. One of the amendments was later ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures, the other was not.

Viewed from an objective, historical perspective then, the constitutional amendment appears to have enjoyed a significantly higher success rate than either of the two alternatives posited by Mr. Sobelsohn. This is a point worth considering as District residents review legislative strategies for obtaining equal political rights under law. The central point here, however, is that there is no easy way to challenge a major constitutional inequity. Each approach will be difficult and will require, among other things, a consensus of District residents to make any of them workable.


ECRA Worth Fighting For
Sam Farmer, 

An Equal Constitutional Rights Amendment and Statehood would essentially achieve the same things; keep the area now known as DC together, provide full Congressional representation and full local self-government. There is an important distinction between what an ECRA and Statehood would achieve and Retrocession in that the first two keep the area we all know (and love?) as DC as an unique area. Amongst DC residents the slightly more popular solution seems to be Statehood, but amongst those who have studied the Constitution, a constitutional amendment is far and away the preferred solution. That is just my feeling, nothing scientific. Congressmen and Congresswomen, in general, are also keen students of the Constitution.

Theoretically statehood is easier to achieve, as it only needs a majority of Congress. Realistically that may not be the case. Statehood came to a vote in the House in 1993 and lost. Two amendments have so far passed the three quarters margin of Congress needed, the 23rd amendment (admittedly somewhat flawed) and the 1978 amendment (which only dealt with Congressional representation). The 23rd amendment flew through the states, the 1978 amendment did not have the backing needed. Americans are also much more in favor of an ECRA than statehood. Mark David Richard's poll data reveals some interesting things; 72 percent of Americans are in favor of voting rights for DC. Of those 72 percent, 82 percent would support an ECRA and 57 percent would support statehood. Read the full survey:

Statehood also has a big problem with the 23rd amendment. Virtually all proposals for statehood include shrinking the District to an area with no population; however, this area would still have three electoral college votes. When this issue came up in 1993 it was not dealt with cleanly and was one of the reasons for Statehood’s defeat. A component of any ECRA would be the repeal of the 23rd amendment. Of the six countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Venezuela) that have closely copied our constitution, five (all except Australia) of them have either have it in their constitution or ratified a Constitutional amendment to give the capital district voting rights; none has granted statehood. (Australia granted voting rights via legislation.) An equal rights constitutional amendment would end up with the District achieving the same main goals of Statehood. Many of DC's fine, impassioned statehood advocates have said any step toward voting rights that is not statehood is a step backward. I disagree. It's time to try again for an ECRA, which is a real step forward and one we should all agree on.



Letters about Literature
Patricia Pasqual, 

Local Winners of the Letters about Literature national essay contest will read their award winning entries on Saturday, May 18, at 10:30 a.m. at Borders Books and Music at 600 14th Street, NW. The contest is hosted locally by the DC Center for the Book, the Junior League of Washington, and Borders Books and Music. The public is invited to attend. For more information about the event, call 727-2313.


Washingtoniana Division Slide Lecture Program May 20th!
Jerry A. McCoy, 

The following illustrated slide lecture will be held in the program room of the Washingtoniana Division, Room #307, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. We hope to see you there! “Vintage DC Postcards: Then & Now,” Monday, May 20, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. In honor of National Postcard Week (May 5-11), Jerry A. McCoy will present a slide lecture of vintage postcards depicting downtown Washington, DC, establishments and the sites as they look today.


Spruce Up at Ft. Bayard Park
Maria Alonso-Vazquez, 

Friends of Fort Bayard Park, Inc., invites all neighbors to its third annual park spruce up this Saturday, May 18, from 9 to 11 a.m. The park is located at the intersection of River Road and Western Avenue in Northwest DC. Please bring work gloves and clippers. For more information, please call Tad DiBiase at 514-7679.


Hearings on CareFirst Conversion
Sam Jordan, 

Fight for the Blues tradition; maintain the Blues mission. Keep CareFirst nonprofit! Health Care Now! opposes the conversion because it threatens increased premiums, loss of coverage for thousands, closure of open enrollment, and increased ranks of the uninsured. There is no public benefit, only windfall profits for management and shareholders. Let the DC Council and the DC Insurance Commission hear from you at public hearings at 1 Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, on Wednesday, May 22, and Thursday, May 28, at 6:00 p.m. For more information, call Health Care Now!, 452-5999.

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

1) June 4, Tuesday, “Great Steak and Wine Out at Nick and Steph's Steakhouse” 601 F Street, NW, at MCI Center, 7-9 p.m., $55/person, tax and tip inclusive. If you love great steak and wine, you're going to love this event! We've rented out Nick and Steph's Steakhouse for a night of food samplings off their menu and lots of wine to taste as well. You'll get to taste a wide variety of steaks as well as barbecued shrimp and the whole assortment of side dishes, and don't forget their 12 sauces: Hollandaise, Bearnaise, tomato-chile chutney, Napa red wine, lemon-garlic compound butter, olive tapenade, pepper trilogy, world of mustards, roasted garlic and extra virgin olive oil, field mushroom, creamy horseradish and caramelized onion nage, and soya-lemon ginger. Please note this is a stand-up/reception style event, no seating. You can also check out their web site at 2) June 11, Tuesday, “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW, limited valet parking, Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line), 7-7:30 p.m. reception, 7:30-9 p.m. tasting, $40 per person. Washington, DC's most popular wine tasting: over 4,000 people have attended this event in our five-year history! 3) June 18, Tuesday, “Cocktails 101: Drinks for Summer!” Ozio Restaurant and Lounge, 1813 M St., NW, Metros: Farragut North or Dupont Circle (Red Line) within three blocks, 7-9 p.m., $40. All new drinks! Learn how to make and taste ten different cocktails, all produced by Ozio's experienced bartender! We'll be making and tasting mixed drinks for entertaining and sipping outdoors in the heat. Reservations: or telephone 333-5588 ($5 surcharge per person for telephone reservations).



House Sitting Position Wanted
Jerry Williamson, 

I need a place to live. Will house sit for the summer.



Moving Company
Annie McCormick, 

I would not recommend the following moving company -- Smooth Movers. They were to move a my fiance on Thursday April 25th, and were to show up between 12 and 1 p.m. They called him at noon to say they'd be late, that the job they were working on was taking longer than they planned. They never called my fiance back again. I called them and finally got hold of them. I said we could not do it that evening, as our storage unit closed at 7 p.m. sharp. I spoke with the owner himself, who said he would give me $10 off per hour (from $85 to $75) if I gave him my business. Since my back was against the wall, I rescheduled him for Monday the 29th. They arrived at 9:30 instead of 9 a.m. They started taking stuff out of the apartment and stacking it in the hall, which is a very serious fire hazard. They did not have written on the top the hourly change from $85 to $75, but when I talked to one of them on his cell phone he said that he'd honor it since I "sounded like an honest lady." They then accused us of not telling them the delivery address; my fiance pointed out that it was written right at the top of their work order. They did not have directions to get to the storage unit and had no idea how to get there. When they were instructed to follow my fiance closely and stay in the right lane, they flew over two lanes of traffic on the Key Bridge. Telephone calls made by me from 9:45 a.m. until they were through at 1:30 p.m. were unanswered on two telephone numbers. I was told that the owner was on vacation in Florida. I would not recommend these people for all the aggravation they caused and I feel they are extremely unprofessional.


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