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June 26, 2002

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Dear Pleasure Seekers:

In the last issue Yoma Ullman, seconded by John Whiteside in this issue, wrote about how depressing it can be to read themail regularly. She and he are right, but there's a remedy. Life in DC, as I've written often before, can be delightful. The trick is not to think about it, to practice a certain degree of obliviousness. This week, go to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall, and use the occasion to drop into one of the Smithsonian museums. Go to a nice restaurant. Act like a tourist and go to the monuments, while they're still open to the public. Shop a little. Forget about the city government for awhile. Don't think about how the Fire Department doesn't have radios that work, how the Police Department has lowered their goal — the goal to which they aspire — to solving a little over half of homicides (and the only reason that it's that high is because a goal of less than half would have been even more embarrassing). Ignore the schools, which is easier if you stay childless. Don't think about my unemployed friend, dependent on DC's health services, who finally got his root canal this week after two months of waiting with a painful infected tooth — and then only because, as a former Hill staffer, he knew how to persist after the system repeatedly denied him service (“We take emergencies only on weekday mornings.” “We can't find any record of your complaint.” “We can't find anyone who'll do a root canal for what we're willing to pay.”)

Please don't misunderstand me. There is absolutely no need for us to spend all of our lives dwelling on the failures of our government, when so many pleasures await us in this city. People who don't think about the government and who avoid all contact with it are happier than we are. But if you want themail to be brighter and sunnier, write to us about bright and sunny things. At the end of each issue, the description of themail says that all postings “should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another.” Life comes first in that list, before government and politics, and it's perfectly possible for us to celebrate life here while we continue to decry the other two subjects.

Gary Imhoff 


Enough Is Enough
Kenneth Lyons, President, AFGE Local 3721, 

If one were to view the DC Fire and EMS Department one year later, we would see an agency void of leadership and vision, whose priorities are lost in amidst of an antiquated tradition and culture that strangles productivity and discourages innovation. Whose policies are discriminatory and exclusive. We would see an agency willing to ignore the rights of citizens to receive effective services whether it is fire suppression or emergency medical care. It is an agency that callously flaunts its misappropriations of funds knowing that accountability is for the other guy. It is an agency that has created a system of haves and have-nots. A system where all is not equal and just, and the few are forced to suffer at the hands of the many and the powerful. A Fire Department whose human rights record is tyrannical and repressive. It supports policies that comprehensively and systematically violates the rights of women, but yet stakes the claim of a new era. It is an agency that creates then enforces policies that seek to alienate and ignore those who live in our city, those who believe that giving back to the community is of the highest priority. This is your Fire Department one year later, before and after one of the most horrific events in the history of our nation, this is YOUR Fire Department. Nothing has changed that existed fifty years ago. We are still fighting ghosts of the past, and while this struggle continues, one must ask, “Who will suffer?” It will be YOU, the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the sick and the injured who will pay the price for this utter indignation and arrogance. Enough is enough.


The Need for Speed
Dorothy Brizill, 

The DC Public Service Commission (PSC, was chartered in 1913 and established in the Home Rule Charter as an independent agency of the District government to regulate the local gas, electric, and telecommunications industries in the interest of the public. The PSC has three commissioners, but in February 2002 Commissioner Edward M. Meyers resigned. For the past four months, the PSC has continued to function and to regulate utilities in the District with the remaining two Commissioners, who still constitute a quorum. For four months, the Williams administration reviewed, assessed, and interviewed a host of applicants to fill the vacancy. Now, on the brink of the Council's final legislative session before summer recess, on July 2nd, the Mayor has sent the nomination of Anthony M. Rachal, III, to the Council as emergency legislation, which shortcuts the usual legislative safeguards against hasty action.

The confirmation resolution for Rachal (see was first distributed to Councilmembers and the public on Monday, June 24. That very afternoon at 5 p.m., with no public notice, Sharon Ambrose's Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs held a public roundtable hearing on the nomination. Ambrose intends to push Rachal's appointment through as emergency legislation at the July 2nd legislation session.

What is the need for such speed, to confirm Rachal before the public has a chance even to become aware of his nomination, much less to react to it? For the past twenty-four years, the membership of the PSC had always included both an economist and a consumer advocate. If Rachal is appointed, all three commissioners will be lawyers, none of whom is an economist or an advocate of consumer interests. In fact, Rachal's private practice as an attorney has included lobbying work for utilities and other businesses and representing utility companies before the PSC. Utilities campaigned hard for his appointment, and against several consumer-oriented applicants for the position. His strong ties with several Councilmembers (he lists Chairman Linda Cropp as a reference on his resume) guarantee Rachal's confirmation, but it's best for the Mayor and the Council to get him seated on the PSC before the public is alerted -- especially since he is being positioned to replace the Commission's current chairman, Angel Cartegena, whose erratic behavior and recent attempt to fire the entire legal staff of the PSC make his departure after the November election almost certain.


DC Police Cut Goal on Closing Homicides
Shaun Snyder, 

The Police Department is lowering its homicide closure rate goal. I have a new motto for them: MPD — lowering our goals to improve performance. As Kathy Patterson put it, “The whole [idea] of performance goals is to use the goal-setting to improve performance, not to make yourself look better.” From the Washington Post:


Reduction in Closure Rates for Homicide Cases
Clyde E. Howard, Jr., 

Can you beat that? We cannot close the homicide rates in a respectable manner so we change the threshold to represent the true capabilities of a police force that cannot change a light bulb without light. This police force is the laughing stock of all police forces in the country. Yet they have the audacity to recruit in another country for manpower. It would seem that, if you are unable to get quality persons in your own country, it ought to tell you something is wrong with the organization. Yes, we have a police force straight out of the old comedy pictures from Hollywood. The people in this city will continue to suffer until a police chief can be found that has organizational ability and is a motivator and a person instilled with training needs topped off with excellent police capabilities.


MPD Response In Ward Six — Another Data Point
Paul Michael Brown, 

In response to Bryce Suderow, who recently decried MPD response in Ward Six to a cell phone request for a squad car to check out suspicious persons, I would like to report a situation in which the cops moved with far greater alacrity. I was out for a walk near Eastern Market when I noticed a guy acting like he was casing houses on North Carolina Avenue. I called 311. There was a 2-3 minute wait, but during that time I was able to follow the guy from a distance. When the dispatcher answered, I explained why I thought the guy was suspicious and she agreed to send a patrol car. She also took my cell phone number. By that time the guy was in the 500 block of A Street SE. Within a minute or two, a patrol car arrived and an officer questioned the man. The dispatcher also called me back and asked if I'd agree to be interviewed. I said I would and the officer took down what I had observed. Even though the guy wasn't arrested, I have to say MPD responded quickly and efficiently to my cell phone report.


Police at Work
Diana Gamerman, 

I did these paintings from images at the big march on Washington ( hope the police like the work.


Sumner School
John Olinger, North Lincoln Park, 

Since its restoration, the Sumner School Museum and Archives has been a vital center for community groups in the city. Every day and every night, its meetings rooms host DC's civic life. The school is still operated by the DC Public School system and as such its staff is subject to Paul Vance's decree. This in itself is disturbing enough, but now there are rumors (and I emphasize that they are only rumors) that the school may not continue as a community center. Staff are not accepting reservations for use of the space past the end of July, for instance.

I hope that everyone who has ever used the school's meeting rooms will watch for future developments and if the DCPS announces that it intends to close the school to the community, that folks write or call Paul Vance and express strong support for continued support of the school as community center. And for those who are as impressed with the competence and professionalism of the school's director, Nancye Suggs, and her staff as I am, now would be a good time to contact Paul Vance (DCPS, 9th Floor, 825 North Capitol Street NE, 20002) and let him know you value Ms. Suggs and her staff's work.


A Mission or a Vision?
Ed T. Barron, 

Mayor Williams has made “One City” the theme for his campaign for reelection. What in the hell does that mean? It's not clear if this is one of those fuzzy visions (like solving world hunger) or if he really intends to try to make DC a united city. The latter is a tilt at windmills and will never succeed. How much better it would be for the Mayor to set some realistic, pragmatic, achievable, time-oriented goals and then decide how best to achieve those goals. Why not establish goals in each of the major city departments and grade those departments twice each year on their progress towards meeting those goals? Any department that does not attain a grade of 90 or above after three marking periods will get new leadership. This would assure that the Mayor would accomplish something over the next four years, instead of just spending his time preparing for his next job.


Boarder Streets
John Olinger, 

Larry Seftor made an interesting point about staff at DMV in the last post. Shortly after reading themail, I received an E-mail copy of a letter from DMV announcing the deadline for parking sticker compliance with new ward boundaries, from which letter the following sentence is lifted: “Boarder streets are identified by dual zones on the signs.” The 80's had boarder babies, the 00's have boarder streets, I guess.


Ticket Question
Peg Blechman, 

I received a speeding ticket in the mail based on a camera stationed at 5700 MacArthur Boulevard. It's not clear whether I need to have my response notarized or not before I send it in. Any advice?


Campaign Posters
David Hunter, 

Looks like election season is upon us again. What really gets me going though are the posters that are put up on every light pole in the city. Dwight Singleton had a doozy of a weekend putting up three signs per light pole, one low and the two others about twenty feet up. Guaranteed to stay there for years on end! All along Military Road/Missouri Avenue from at least Utah to Georgia Avenue. Then again down North Capitol street. Yes I noticed his name, the signs worked; but so many of them on every pole incensed me so much that I will not be voting for him. Does anyone have the rules for what is legal and illegal about posting signs on light poles? Also, what are my rights about tearing the ugly things down?


Gloom and Doom
John Whiteside, john at logancircle dot net

Yoma Ullman asks whether it's reasonable to move out of DC, after reading the depressing contents of themail. My suggestion: after finishing themail, go for a walk around your neighborhood, talk to your neighbors, visit one of your favorite places around town, and remind yourself of why DC is a great place to live. If posts in themail were a complete description of life in DC, let's face it: all but the most masochistic of us would be long gone. Fortunately, life here is a lot better than it sounds in this newsletter.


More Sightings of GW
Clare Feinson, 

There is also a bust of George Washington by the Foggy Bottom Metro, on the campus of George Washington University. And if I remember correctly, there is another statue of him, full body but miniature height, in one of the university courtyards, maybe on 22nd Street? By the way, it is my understanding that George Washington University was given that new name early in its history in a blatant attempt to increase fundraising and enrollment through an appeal to patriotism.


Statues of Washington
Richard Steacy, 

Apart from the statues at the Washington Cathedral and Washington Circle, copies of the Houdon statue (the original is in the Richmond Capitol) are located on The Quad of GWU and inside the Washington Monument. A rather large bust of GW is at the Foggy Bottom Metro stop.


The Donkey
Agate J. Tilmanis, 

The donkeys and elephants are whimsical and cute. As an art project they limit the artist's creativity greatly. It is like asking for a painting to match the sofa. But that is an issue not for themail. These cute animals represent political parties, the nation. Washington is forever grafted to the federal government. The city, then, is the different neighborhoods — Dupont Circle, Anacostia, Brookland, etc. Other cities can come up with symbols for whimsical art projects, Boston, Chicago, Omaha (!), but we are still only the nation's capital.


DC Donkey
Buddy Yingling, Western Avenue, 

In the June 23, 2002, edition of themail Matthew Kessler writes regarding the elephant and donkey art: "The only thing that I don't understand is that we have many important problems that need to be addressed in the city: no representation, a $19 million DMV system that is not working, less than adequate schools, etc., yet so many people are worried about this street art, including an elected official who was on the news a week ago complaining that an elephant was placed on the northwest corner of Wisconsin and Military Road rather than the southwest corner. (What is the difference, you ask. Northwest is Maryland, southwest is DC. He claims that is insulting to residents of DC)."

I don't know who the elected official he speaks of was, but both are wrong. The elephant and donkey in question stand on the northwest corner of Wisconsin and Western Avenues, not Military. Furthermore, that is in DC, as all four of the corners are. The actual city line is on the north side of Western Avenue and extends into the properties bordering it. Also, the elephant and donkey in this case are sitting adjacent to one of the old stone boundary markers, which should have clued in the elected official in question.


Party Animals
Tim Cline, Columbia Heights, 

Was anyone but me struck by the fact that more than 80 percent of the 200 Party Animals (which I really like, by the way) are in the NW section of the city? NE has only five (including three around Union Station) and SE has fewer than ten. By the bye, I did not cruise the city looking for Party Animals, I took the info from the web site (


Flag Inscriptions
Timothy Cooper, 

To date, there appear to be essentially three inscriptions being considered by the DC Council for the new District of Columbia flag. They are: 1) Taxation Without Representation; 2) No Taxation Without Representation; 3) DC Statehood Now! While all of these slogans are worthy of consideration, each is nevertheless problematic for the following reasons: first, the proposed phrase, “Taxation Without Representation,” would create a potentially paradoxical situation for the DC voting rights movement because it could easily be misconstrued as advocating for “taxation without representation” by people not conversant with the political plight of District citizens. In any event, it does not articulate a clear, proactive message and could sow considerable confusion in the mind of our intended audience — the US public.

Second, the proposed slogan, “No Taxation With Representation,” while representing a better fit because its political message is unequivocal and echoes the Revolutionary War cry, it should be noted that this expression has been incorporated into the DC rights movement for two hundred years and has yet to bear fruit. Further, it fails to articulate perhaps the single most important reason why DC residents should be granted full political rights — that they have been asked to die for their country for nearly 200 years, without having had a voice on issues of war and peace in their own national legislature. Another disadvantage of the “No Taxation Without Representation” slogan is that while it may cause a visceral reaction among DC residents that is helpful for rallying DC residents to the cause, the argument, as a legal argument on behalf of equal right for DC residents, has been refuted by every Supreme Court addressing this premise since 1820. It is perfectly constitutional, according to the Court, for the federal government to tax DC residents while denying them full Congressional representation. As a result, the battle cry is far less effective when used as a national slogan that is meant to educate the American people about the nature of DC's anemic political status. Further, it is important to note that the phrase “Taxation Without Representation” has already been appropriated for DC license plates. Taken together, the two phrases would send out completely contradictory messages to the nation. The license plate slogan would, on the one hand, appear to support taxation without representation, while the slogan flying on the flag would back an antithetical statement: no taxation without representation. DC residents might understand the distinction and the conceptual rationale for the two different assertions, but US citizens would understandably be somewhat more perplexed. If national education is the chief reason for placing a substantive slogan on the District's flag, then the last thing we want to do is to confuse the American public by sending out completely contradictory messages.

Third, the proposed phrase, “DC Statehood Now!,” while perhaps the ideal slogan, is, at this time, regrettably, an inappropriate message to convey to the nation simply because the District is neither politically nor legally eligible to apply for statehood. While the phrase should be considered as a future slogan at such time as the District is, in fact, eligible, it would send out, unfortunately, the right kind of message, but at the wrong time. In view of the problematic nature of the aforementioned slogans, the following phrase is proposed as an inscription for DC's flag: “Equal Rights for Equal Responsibilities.” It is a simple, yet eloquent, message has the virtue of being able to instantly make the case for why DC residents should be entitled to enjoy full democratic rights under law. After all, DC residents bear all of the responsibilities of US citizenship, but are denied equal political rights. To argue against the political proposition that all US citizens are entitled to enjoy equal rights is to argue against the most fundamental of American principles. Moreover, history shows that the language of the equal rights argument has proven to be extraordinarily successful. The woman's suffrage movement and the civil rights movement both employed the language of equal rights, and both eventually won. DC can win, too, with the same national message. The slogan, “Equal Rights for Equal Responsibilities,” should be given consideration by the DC Council in its deliberations on the DC flag's inscription because it succinctly states what it is that DC residents are campaigning for as well as articulates the high burdens that they continually bear. But perhaps best of it, the core message it delivers is politically unassailable.


Scholarship Source
Anne Anderson, 

[In reply to a question about potential sources of scholarship funds.] I hope you know someone that this may help. The following is a list of links to 100+ scholarship programs for minority students. Please feel free to circulate this list to anyone who might find it useful. 100 Minority Scholarship Gateway List, created by Black Excel, Also see the Ron Brown Scholar Program (major Scholarships),; Scholarships on the Net (1,500),; and FastWEB Scholarship Search,


CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS’s Late-June/August 2002 Calendar of Wine and Food Events
Charlie Adler, 

1) June 27, Thursday, presents “Tasting and Reception at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan” at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 1746 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, 7-9 p.m., $48 per person. This Embassy is spectacular! This recently renovated mansion (formerly the Embassy of Canada) was constructed near the turn of the century (where it was the scene for many fashionable gatherings) complete with finely detailed plaster and iron work, woodcarving, and remarkable hardware and lighting fixtures throughout. The menu features a traditional Uzbek buffet, including salad, Monti dumplings with pumpkin and meat, Samsa, Plov, an assortment of dim sum and desserts as well as a selection of international wines. Please note: this is a stand-up/reception style event, no seating is provided. 2) July 12, Friday, “The Official Bastille Day Celebration at the French Embassy,” with the 1st Annual Marie Antoinette “Let Them Eat Cake” Competition! La Maison Francaise, the Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW (Georgetown), limited street parking available in the area as well as limited spaces in the Georgetown U. Medical parking lot across the street on Reservoir Road, 7:00-9:30 p.m., buffet, 9:30-midnight celebration, $65 per person, tax and tip inclusive. This event sells out every year! Join us at the Embassy of France as we partake in France's annual celebration of the storming of the Bastille by Parisians in 1789. This event includes a wide array of French wines and Champagnes as well as three buffet tables catered by Executive Chef Bart Vandaele from B'Arts World Cuisine and Executive Chef Yannis from Bistrot du Coin from 7-9:30 p.m., and DJ and dancing until midnight. This year we're adding the Marie Antoinette “Let Them Eat Cake” Competition, where local pastry chefs will Design decadent cakes for your tasting pleasure, the more decadent the better! There is also a silent auction and raffle. Coffee service sponsored by La Colombe and Silver Spoon. Attire is business casual. 3) July 13, Saturday, “Large Crab Feast at Annapolis Grill,” Annapolis Grill, 1160 20th St., NW, 2 1/2 blocks from Farragut North Metro Stop (Red Line), limited street parking available, noon-2:30 p.m. seated lunch, $55, tax and tip inclusive. Join us at Annapolis Grill in DC, a Maryland-style seafood house and bar, as we feast on fresh Maryland blue crabs. They get big and juicy in July, and we will only be serving the large male crabs; they're meatier and easier to eat! Also included with all the large crabs you care to eat is a cup of terrific cream of Maryland crab soup, crab imperial appetizers, corn on the cob, Cajun fries, and homemade cole slaw. We'll also be serving top-rated microbrew beers and premium wines at the event; it's included in the price. This event is seated indoor/outdoor with plenty of space to spread out and eat your crabs. We'll also provide assistance to anyone needing help cracking/cleaning the crab meat, it's a cinch once you get used to it! 4) July 17, Wednesday, “Bar Rouge: 3 Chefs, 3 Attitudes,” Bar Rouge inside the Hotel Rouge, 1315 16th Street, NW, just north of Scott Circle off Massachusetts Avenue on 16th Street, very limited valet parking, closest Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line) 4 Blocks, 7-9 PM, $55, tax and tip inclusive. Chef John Wabeck, Bar Rouge and Topaz Bar; Chef Haidar Karoum, Asia Nora Restaurant; and Chef Andrew Saba, The Tabard Inn. Please note this is a stand-up/reception style event, no seating. 5) July 29, Monday, “Taste of Spain at Cafe Ole,” Cafe Ole, 4000 Wisconsin Ave., NW, very limited street parking, Tenleytown Metro (Red Line) is six blocks away, 7-9:00 p.m. seated indoor/outdoor dinner, $55, tax and tip inclusive. Add romance and longevity to your life; the Spanish have been drinking delicious country wines and eating their famously healthy Mediterranean fare for many centuries! We'll also enjoy indoor/outdoor dining with live Spanish music under the stars. All wine has been provided by Vinexcal Wines Export Group of Castilla y Leon. This event is seated and all dishes are served family-style, wine is included in the price. The event is rain or shine. 6) August 4, Sunday, “3rd Annual Lobster and Wine Festival,” Sea Catch Restaurant, Canal Square Building, 1054 31st Street, NW, free complimentary validated parking available in the adjacent Constitution parking garage as well as limited on street parking, noon-3:00 PM, $70 per person, tax and tip inclusive. Rain or Shine. If you love Lobster, this is the event for you! We'll sit you down to a wonderful 1 1/4 lb. lobster with the fixings paired with three different wines, then open up the courtyard for you to enjoy more lobster, wine and live jazz! Don't wait, we've rented the whole restaurant with a capacity of 300 people. Attire is very casual, we'll even provide the bibs! Please note: the first half is seated at tables, the second half is walk-around; this event is rain or shine! Reservations: secure web form at, or phone 333-5588 (phone surcharge $5 per person).



Tim Cline, 

We have a complete bound set of Encyclopedia Britannica circa 1985 with updates through the early 90's. We would be happy to give it to an organization or individual who could make use of them. There are about forty volumes and they are in excellent shape. I have no idea if anyone has any use for such a thing any more. I would be happy to deliver them locally. Otherwise, they will end up being discarded/recycled.



Paris Apartment to Sublet in August
Peggy Robin, 

My stepsister, Virginia Isbell (a former Washingtonian), asked me to post this notice about August rental of 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. 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 (if you have trouble getting through to that E-mail address, you can also E-mail her at 


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