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September 11, 2002

Post Election Jitters

Dear E-Mailers:

If you get themail at your office, and if you don't control your own E-mail filtering rules, you may want to take preventative action now. Either have a discussion with your E-mail system administrator or switch your E-mail address to your home address. Over the past few months, a number of businesses and organizations have introduced E-mail censorship programs, and some of them have begun to reject issues of themail. The kindest thing that can be said about E-mail censorship programs is that they are dumb, in the sense of having no judgment. The most popular reason for rejecting themail is that at the end of each issue there are instructions for how to unsubscribe. Since many spam messages also give unsubscribe directions, some programs reject any message with the word “unsubscribe” as spam. But themail has also been rejected for obscenity, even when there aren't any swear words in it. It has been rejected for “sexual discrimination,” whatever that means as regards an E-mail. And it has been rejected as “pornography” and for “sexual content.” I know that many readers enjoy themail, but if you're getting sexual gratification from it you need more help than an E-mail censorship program can give you.

As a recurring footnote, posters in this relatively short post-election issue get the benefit of leniency on length, but now that the primary is over stricter rules will go back into effect on Sunday. Please, two or three short paragraphs in a message. Leave room for others.

Gary Imhoff 


Impact of September 11 on Washingtonians
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, 

Washingtonians, like other Americans, have been forever branded by September 11, 2001. A new study by The Pew Research Center for People and the Press found the impacts of September 11 have been lasting. The Pew Center conducted an opinion survey of 400 adults in the Washington, DC, area (Washington, DC, Arlington and Fairfax counties — including cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax, and Montgomery and Prince George's counties) on August 14-25, 2002. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.5 percentage points. The Center found that 99 percent remember exactly where they were or what they were doing the moment they heard of the attacks. After one year, 40 percent said they think about the attack every day, and an added 29 percent think about it a few times per week. Forty-nine percent said the attacks affected how they think about politics and national issues a great deal. Over one fifth said their lives have changed in a major way.

The attack was personal -- one fifth said they personally know someone who was hurt or killed in the attacks; 14 percent said they or someone in their household lost a job or took a pay cut. Nearly one in ten said someone in their household has been called into the military or National Guard. The same amount have changed jobs or made different career plans. The attack had a profound emotional impact: 72 percent said they were affected emotionally; as a result of the attacks, 60 percent said they often feel patriotic; 49 percent often think about life in spiritual terms; 27 percent often feel angry; 24 percent often feel suspicious of other people; 23 percent often feel sad; 15 percent often feel scared; 8 percent often feel depressed; and 3 percent often have difficulty sleeping. Many parents said their children have expressed fear about terrorism (44 percent). Three quarters said they have made a point to talk with their children about the topic.

Residents have responded in other ways: 30 percent said they have avoided going to large or crowded public events or places; 28 percent have traveled by air less frequently; 18 percent have avoided traveling to certain cities. 47 percent spend more time close to home and with family. Thirty-seven of those with children have made special arrangements for their children with family and friends in case there is an emergency. Thirty-two percent said they handle their mail differently. Residents feel the federal government and local governments are fairly well prepared-but few feel they are very well prepared. Despite that, few said they are making personal preparations — only 18 percent have stored food or water, and 6 percent have stored medications or prescription drugs. And yet, residents expect more terrorist attacks: 65 percent are at least somewhat worried there will soon be another attack in the US — 20 percent are very worried. Forty-six percent believe the ability of terrorists to launch another major attack on the US is the same as it was on September 11; 19 percent believe the threat is greater; only 32 percent think the threat is less. And next time, this region fears terrorists are most likely to attack with chemical or biological weapons, or a suicide bomber will attack a restaurant, bus, or another public place. Most significantly, 69 percent of area residents now feel the area they live or work is a target — this compares to 42 percent of New York City area residents and 32 percent of Americans at large. Over half worry that someone in their family might become the victim of an attack. In fact, nearly 20 percent have thought of moving because of concerns about further acts of terrorism. The reality of being a target is now a real factor in personal decision-making about where we go, what we do, and whether we will stay in the region or move.


Avoid the Rush and Panic Now
Harold Foster,

This won't be posted in themail until after Tuesday's primary. But probably not after the results are official, since there are likely to be so many write-in ballots to be counted and certified. (where is Katherine Harris when you need her?) I wonder if it isn't already soon enough to start thinking about the next major election in the District, and what to do to fix the many things that are broken. Even if it is early, here are my thoughts anyway.

1) Cromwell got it right with his Self-Denying Ordinance: either stand forth or stand down. Oliver and the so-called Root and Branch Roundheads made all the members of the Long Parliament “deny” themselves any other public office until they had won the Civil War against Charles I and his Cavaliers. Two centuries later, the Radical Reconstructionists ended up imposing the same requirement on themselves here across town here, during our own Internal Unpleasantness of 1861-1865. We need the same thing here. School board and council members should be required to resign their current offices first before running for another. And they should have to do so far enough in advance that other candidates have time to crank up viable campaigns for the offices they are vacating to run for other positions. Six to seven months in advance sounds about right to me.

At the least, that might cut down on people running for the School Board as a farm club for the council and office of mayor. Who knows? It might even prompt people to run for School Board who are actually concerned about the children. And it ought to keep people from doing what Harold Brazil did: running for a “safe” council seat, one that is on the “presidential cycle” (1996, 2000, 2004, etc.), so he could run for mayor or council chair on the other cycle (1998, 2002, 2006) without fear of losing his incumbency. Elective office, like patriotism, will always be the last refuge for some scoundrels. But we don't need to make it so easy for them, now do we?

2) Institute run-off elections. This, to me anyway, is a no-brainer. It is long overdue, and — for all you Barry-bashers out there — it might well have shortened his now-fabled four-term run in office to either two or perhaps even only one. Of course, it also might well have kept the late Dave Clarke out of the Council chair, as well as giving us Mayor John Ray in 1990 (and possibly in 1994 as well) and Mayor Kevin Chavous in 1998, but nothing is perfect and even less is perfectible.

3) Reconstruct the council. This is probably unconstitutional — and certainly a political hand grenade — until the 2010 Census, but the early bird. . . . We either have too many single member districts in this town or too few. As a third-generation Washingtonian, I would submit we have too few. While I don't advocate we go to the extremes of, say, Cleveland or even Chicago, I would suggest at least three more wards, including two more wards with precincts west of the Park, two more wards with precincts east of the River, and no ward entirely west of the Park or east of the River. Yeah, yeah I know: where will we get the extra room in the Wilson Building for yet more council staff? Simple. We cut the number of at-large councilmembers from four to two. Again, all we would really be doing is reducing the Mayoral wannabe junior varsity team. And, again, we just might actually attract an officeholder or two who actually wanted to legislate for the entire City rather than just his or her patch.

4) Let's have the choice of selecting none of the above on the ballot. This also raises constitutional, well, home rule, questions. But my sense is that the NOTA movement is about to take off in this country anyway. (Having a loser win the Presidency anyway will do that to you.) So, for once, let's hop the train before it leaves the station. As to the oft-asked question of what happens if a plurality, never mind an absolute majority of registered voters, votes for none of the above in an election — maybe we should all meet in Philadelphia again. And, speaking as an “Original Sixty Percenter,” let's get it right this time.


The Case of the Missing Real Estate Tax Bills
Bill Leonard, 

DC real estate half year taxes are due on September 15. This year some of the residents, in at least the Chevy Chase DC area, may be surprised: many of us have never received the bills! Missing that payment generates extra charges, etc., for late payment. Some alert homeowners noticed this lapse in governance and made some calls. One reported being told that the Office of Finance and Revenue had mailed the bills and that the blame should be placed on nondelivery by the USPS! Adrian Fenty was notified and he checked into it and sent the following E-mail: “Apparently, the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) has the capacity to ensure that penalties are not issued to anyone living in zip code 20015. Since this appears to be something affecting the mail of everyone living in this zip code, I asked Mr. Huff if we could blanketly extend the deadline for everyone in this zip code, rather than issuing an extension only when residents called or E-mailed. Mr. Huff advised that this could, and would, be done.”

And, true to his word, Mr. Huff has sent the following E-mail: “The Office of Tax & Revenue mails 153,000 real property bills which represents our entire data base. A number of property owners state that they have not received their tax bill. These property owners appear to live in zip code 20015. We are working with the Postal Service to try to determine the problem. Please encourage those property owners who have not received a bill to contact our Customer Service Call Center at 727-4tax or E-mail me at A duplicate bill will be mailed and property owners will receive a 30-day extension and will not be charged penalties and interest. I apologize for the inconvenience this matter is causing our property owners. . . . Herbert Huff”

Those people seems to be having serious problems: ten days ago, I received a notice informing me that I owed more than $3,000 in taxes not paid for the year 2001. Interest and penalties had been piled onto the total. The notice threatened that a lien could be placed on my property and other ominous possibilities. A check of my records revealed that the department had failed to properly credit all of my quarterly 2001 estimated tax payments. A registered letter pointing all of this out, complete with copies of the checks, was sent immediately. It has not been answered.


Predatory Government
David Pansegrouw, 

Yesterday my wife's car was booted despite having paid all outstanding infractions listed by DMV's computer on August 2, 2002, when I renewed the registration on the car. In accordance with the policy that all outstanding bills to DC government must be paid before one can reregister a car, I paid all the outstanding bills that came up on the DMV computer on August 2, 2002. Apparently there is more to it than that though. I guess I read too much into the policy of all bills must be paid before registration. Perhaps the policy should more accurately be promoted as “all bills that we can find on the day you come in must be paid to register; suffer the consequences later for the bills we don't happen to find.”

It seems the DMV's computer failed to bring up all the outstanding tickets. At 65 K St. NW yesterday, no one was able to give any explanation as to why parking tickets from March and June 2002 would not appear in the DMV's computer system on August 2, 2002. To me it misleading to say the least, perhaps predatory is a better term, to tell someone they must pay all outstanding bills, provide a list of outstanding bills and then after those bills are paid, claim other bills that predate the day the purported complete list of outstanding bills was paid and then further penalize the person for lack of payment despite the attempt to pay all bills. The responsibility for DMV's computer error is thus placed on the individual, when responsibility for the error should fall on DMV. Besides general stupidity and lack of record keeping there are various ways one could get a parking ticket and be unaware of it — a number of times I have seen parking tickets on the ground, clearly not with their intended person.

I further come to find that there is no way to appeal the $50.00 boot fee in and of itself. The only way to appeal the boot fee is to appeal a ticket. Excuse me if my I am left feeling that the DMV is arrogant and unaccountable. I work in the private sector. If I tell someone I won't do any work for them until they pay me in full for outstanding bills and they then pay me and I do new work for them, they reasonably will think that they are in fact paid up in full. I am not in a position to then say “oh I forgot these other bills,” and then charge a penalty because they didn't pay all bills. I think DC government should be held to a similar standard. DC government is less than tolerant when I make mistakes. I fail to comprehend why I should not only be tolerant of DC government's errors but also pay a penalty as both a fee and a day's lost wages for the government's error. I call that predatory government.


A Sound Bite from the Campaign Trail
Dorothy Brizill, 

Backus Middle School, South Dakota Avenue and Hamilton Street, NE, is the polling site for Precinct 66, the single largest precinct in Ward 5. It has the reputation for great political theater on election day, in part because access to the polling site is down a narrow alley. So it was not surprising that at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday two Mayoral candidates, Rev. Willie Wilson and Doug Moore, and their supporters stood campaigning in the alley fewer than ten feet apart, while Mayor Williams's mother, Virginia Williams, sat on a chair between the two awaiting the arrival of her son. Also visiting the poll at the same time was Ben Wilson, chairman of the Board of Elections and Ethics, which removed Williams from the Democratic ballot because of forgeries on his nominating petitions.

Against this backdrop of approximately sixty campaign workers for the various candidates, a Williams campaign worker approached me and asked if I had voted. Not waiting for my answer, he suddenly reached down and, from behind a folding chair, produced a canvas bag emblazoned with the motto, “DC’s Future in Your Hands; Write-In Anthony Williams,” containing a T-shirt, a rubber stamp, and a button. As he cupped my hand over the bag's strap, he stated, ”This is from the Mayor, you understand. This is from the Mayor. Now you know what to do when you vote. Do the right thing.”


Run Carol, Run
John Vaught LaBeaume, 

First off, my sincere apologies to any who may be offended by the date of my post, September 11. I submit only on this date due to the looming deadline imposed by DCBOEE. DC Republicans turned out in force on primary day to write in Carol Schwartz for their party's mayoral nod. Over 3,400, many more than turned out four years ago, heeded an impromptu effort on the Council Member's behalf. I want to urge Council Member Schwartz to take note of those impressive numbers and accept her party's nomination.

Many DC Dems have confided in me as to how angry and disappointed they have been by the well publicized foibles of this mayor and his administration, and how much they wished that they could vote for another candidate. Once they have gotten that off their chests, however, they nearly always throw up their hands and say, “What choice do I have? I'll have to vote for him,” finding (reasonably, I'd say) Mayor Williams' challengers for the Democratic nomination to be unfit for office. In Carol Schwartz, these voters can muster no such reservations. Her record of service for, and dedication to, the District is beyond dispute, and well known to DC voters of all colors and classes, across all eight wards. I'd reckon that I wasn't the only one tempted to write her name in on the Democratic primary ballot.

In a democracy, the role of the opposition party is hold the majority accountable, and to vigorously challenge the incumbent party electorally. Under such a scenario, as Mayor Barry described Rev. Wilson's primary challenge last night on WUSA, “Washington, DC, wins.” A Williams victory could come only after a hard-fought general election campaign on top of a probable primary victory, reminding the mayor to take no vote for granted. A Schwartz victory would offer a peaceful transfer of power from incumbent to challenger, a hallmark of a healthy democracy. Either way, “Washington, DC wins.” If you agree, DC voters, please let Carol Schwartz know that you want her to run, especially if you are a Democrat or independent. I plan to do so.


Councilmembers’ Pay
Christopher Koppel, Eastern Market, 

Something interesting in DC is that, although councilmembers' jobs are considered part-time (meaning they can keep their usually lucrative outside work), their pay (and perks, e.g. limos) are quite substantial. In San Francisco, where I lived before moving here, it is the exact opposite: supervisor's jobs are considered full-time (meaning no outside work), yet the pay comparatively speaking is minimal. Maybe this is something which should be explored further.


To Candidates in the Primary
Phil Carney, 

I give grateful and sincere thanks to each candidate who took the time, effort and energy to campaign for political office in the September primaries. Also, congratulations to the Second Mayor for Life and to DC Councilmembers for Eternity on maintaining their lifetime jobs.

If you ran in the primaries and are not running in the general election — please remove your campaign posters immediately. If you are no longer a candidate you must remove your posters within thirty days. Why wait? Please be a good neighbor and remove all your campaign posters this week.


Klingle Roadies Quieted
Charles King, 

At candidate forums, on numerous community listservs and in letter after letter to editors of local newspapers, the Coalition to Repair Klingle Road and their sympathizers boasted about how candidates who supported Klingle Valley parkland would “pay at the polls.” One look at the At-Large election returns, however, proves them wrong.

I can only hope that now this debate can be put to bed. Concerned citizens and activists should focus on issues of true gravity, like crumbling schools and urban poverty. My suggestion to the Roadies: put the same time and effort spent on Klingle into something like a Big Brother, Big Sister mentorship, or volunteer your time to repair a school. If nothing else, some social service would be a good PR move. At present Klingle Roadies appear to be nothing more than a loud and ineffectual few.


It Was an Honor
Mary Rowse, 

Erik, it was an honor to work on your campaign. Your integrity, sincerity, generosity, intelligence, hard work, courage and compassion are truly refreshing to see in a political candidate. You did something no one else had the courage to do in Ward 3. And you set a new standard in the process. Few people can come close to matching the level and variety of service you have provided to others in your lifetime — whether it's your work as a firefighter, paramedic, reserve police officer, city problem solver, candidate, or just plain-old Good Samaritan. You are in a class by yourself. If one can indeed be judged by the company one keeps, you rate very high indeed, surrounded as you are by a large contingent of warm, energetic and dedicated people.

Thank you for wanting to address and to solve our ward problems and for bringing issues to the forefront that have yet to be considered by others. Thank you for setting a higher standard for political campaigns in this town and for your sacrifices in the process. In a profession that fewer and fewer people want to enter, thank you for having the courage to stand up and offer Ward 3 residents another choice for representation.

It was also an honor Tuesday evening to come home after our celebration, to a work of art in front of my house; three dozen of your opponent's yard signs carefully driven into the ground and placed on my fence, in silent protest and in testimonial to the vigorous campaign that you ran. An enlarged copy of that ubiquitous, gratuitously nasty Post editorial was also placed inside my yard facing my front door. Rather than deconstruct this creation, I thought it might be more fitting to leave it up in silent tribute to everyone's hard work and dedication in attempting to raise the standard of representation for Ward 3. Words may have finally escaped them Erik, but their message came through loud and clear; “You ran one Helluva race.” Congratulations Erik, and thanks.


Oh for Four
Ed T. Barron, 

Erik Gaull's gall and last minute negative campaigning seemed to backfire and actually enhanced Kathy Patterson's victory margin. Incredulously, one of the early arrivals at Kathy's home hosted victory party was none other than the real Anthony Williams. Is it hard to figure out why managerially challenged Mayor Williams selected someone on his payroll to be his stooge in the Ward 3 Democratic Primary? He selected someone who had lost all three of his prior attempts to be elected to a significant public office. Let's see how long it takes before we find Erik Gaull back on the City payroll.

The turnout in Ward 3 seemed to be about only two thirds of the total vote cast in the prior mayoral election in 1998. That low turnout indicates that many voter voted with their feet, being disgusted with the petition antics of Mayor Williams. The low turnout, obviously, did not have any major impact on the Ward 3 Council race.


Change of Address and Board of Elections
Barbara Bitondo, 

I actually moved from ward 2 to 1, and though I had to send two change of address letters and call the office three times, I have received my new voter card and details about exactly where to go. I also double-checked with my ANC commissioner. Not that hard to do.



Video Producers of DC Meeting
Phil Shapiro, 

Video Producers of DC is a new no-dues club whose mission is to help DC residents (and other nice people) develop skills at shooting and editing video. Our next meeting is Saturday, Sept. 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Branch Library located at 1701 8th Street, NW, at Rhode Island Avenue, NW. We'll be looking at some homemade music videos and some nonprofit public service announcements and will go over the techniques for adding digital photos (and scanned photos) to videos. All welcome -- especially video novices. The E-mail group and web site address for this club is  Thanks for letting folks you know who might be interested in our monthly meetings.



Flute Teacher
Jean Pfaelzer, 

Looking for experienced flute teacher for experienced but somewhat out of practice adult.



Single Sales: That's A Mora(torium)
Mark Eckenwiler, eck at ingot dot org 

WM, 41, ruggedly balding gov't lawyer w/yen for civic gadflying (gadflight?) seeks info on whether like-minded DC residents — age, race, and sexual preference unimportant — or neighborhood associations have successfully petitioned the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board under DC Code section 25-351 (enacted 5/01) to impose a single-sales ban on beer/ale/malt liquor. Photo desirable but not required; respond to themail.

(A semi-related campaign finance tidbit: Councilmember Sharon Ambrose's overhaul of DC's ABC laws last year still seems to be a sore point with certain local retailers. According to the June finance report ( for her opponent in Tuesday's primary, Keith Andrew Perry received the maximum $500 donation from Schneider's Liquor on Capitol Hill ... and from an individual donor with the unlikely name of “Woodley, Calvert.” Finding similar donations in this and prior Perry finance reports is left as an exercise for the reader.)


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