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October 2, 2002

The Elections Aren’t Over

Dear Voters:

We're only had the primaries, but from what you've been writing to themail, the issues have been settled. Is there any interest in the general election? Is there any real contest? Now that the race is between Williams and Schwartz (and Donkin, don't forget) rather than between Williams and Wilson, is anyone interested in the mayoral race? Will there be any surprise in the At-Large Councilmember race? Will any longshots win, or should they? And don't forget that we still get to vote for a school board member or two — is anyone interested in those races?

Nobody has written, this time around, about the World Bank/IMF demonstrations, and the MPD's "preventative arrests" designed to take demonstrators who had done nothing illegal off the streets? Does anyone have any quarrel with the MPD's tactics, or are you as content with them as our major press outlets and our elected officials are? Does the unpopularity of the demonstrators justify the curtailment of their rights?

Gary Imhoff


They’re Baaaack!
Ed T. Barron,

Just about this time in several of the last few years there have been incidents of vandalism in Spring Valley/AU Park by American University incoming freshman students. This year some males, who obviously believe that vandalism is a normal rite of passage into college life, tore a swath down Massachusetts Avenue from Westmoreland Circle to Van Ness Street.

About ten days ago I awoke at about midnight to the sound of loud male voices coming through my bedside window. Looking out that window, I saw about four teen males carousing loudly down Mass. Ave. and turning over the city trash cans on the SW side of that side of the street. It was not until the next morning that I saw what else they had done. Between Fordham Place and Van Ness Streets on the SW side of Mass. Ave. there is a row of town houses, each with a mail box at the sidewalk. All of the mail boxes, save two, had their posts torn out of the ground or bent over to the ground. The two that were spared included one that was inside a wrought iron fence and one mail box on a post that was made of 2 inch by 2 inch square steel a quarter of an inch thick embedded in a three foot deep column of concrete. That mailbox belongs to a friend who vowed that the vandals would not bend his post again. He was right. They broke the weld on the mailbox and carried it away. I found the large mailbox in the bushes at a home a half block down Mass. Ave. Going north up Mass. Ave. there was a trail of emptied city trash barrels and bent over traffic signs all the way up to Westmoreland Circle.

In my dreams I envision a posse of irate fed-up neighbors corralling these miscreants, tar and feathering them, and carrying them on a rail (probably that indestructible steel post) and then dumping them unceremoniously at the entrance to American University. The only good news is that these stupid chaps are very likely to be too stupid to last more than a semester at AU. Unfortunately, AU, in their quest to bring in more money to the school, will recruit and accept a whole new crop of these bad guys next year and in succeeding years, and we will have more senseless vandalism.


Profiting from Public School Student Absenteeism
Mark Richards,

Picking up on the punishment for profit theme, here is an idea being floated in Paris, France, to deal with the problem of unjustified absenteeism. Nearly two percent of Parisian public school students skip school. The proposed solution: fine the parents 2,000 Euros (about 2,000 dollars). This approach isn't intended to raise money but rather to encourage parents to take responsibility for their children. The idea has met resistance from some educators because, they point out, this could stigmatize families of the children who skip school, and it might not even work. They prefer research into the root causes, mediation, and prevention measures. A final decision has been delayed pending more study and discussion.


PTA Help and School Supplies
Don Lief,

Problems with basic supplies continue to plague DC classrooms. Some schools' PTA's can come to the rescue, but this is not a citywide resource, nor should it be, since it's the city's responsibility to step up to the plate. The role of PTA's and similar organizations linked to a particular school ought be to broader. Twenty-five years ago, I was struck by the enormous success of the Lafayette School's fundraising, largely by an annual fair. So I asked the superintendent of schools to establish a few new positions as “circuit-riders” who would regularly visit schools to inform parents groups, rudimentary as they might be, about how to identify their own resources, to identify priorities, and to organize to achieve them. Naturally, I was informed that there was no room in the budget for such an initiative. But one can infer downtown's fear that these “circuit-riders” would be captured by the enemy, students' parents.

Some years later, a Post article reported that the national PTA had undertaken a comparable effort. Beyond obtaining school supplies, parents in many parts of the city need skills to represent their kids in ways that will go beyond mere complaints. I hope this doesn't come across as patronizing parents who are in despair. It simply is a suggestion for one more tool to fix the broken machine.


What Was Anthony Williams Selling?
Larry Seftor,

One evening last week Anthony Williams met with people at a large law firm downtown. At first blush, I thought this was good. Williams was getting away from his office and getting out to meet the people he was elected to serve. As it turns out, however, virtually none of the lawyers in that meeting lived in DC. While you or I may not have Williams ear, it turns out that these nonresidents figured a way to meet the Mayor and influence his thinking. They all wrote checks. I was not there, so I'm left to wonder: what were they buying and what was Williams selling?


Liquor Stores Open Till Midnight?
Ralph Blessing,

Two years ago DC City Council voted to set the closing time for Class A and B liquor stores uniformly to 10:00 p.m., a change that did not actually go into effect until about nine months ago due to routine rulemaking procedures. Now Councilmember Brazil has introduced legislation, Bill 14-606, the “Reasonable Hours of Operation for ABC Retailers Amendment Act of 2002,” that would extend the hours that Class A licensed stores can sell hard liquor to 12 a.m. on Saturdays; it would extend the hours that Class B licensed corner stores can sell beer and wine until 12:00 a.m. from Monday through Saturday.

Given that the current law has been around for much too little time to measure its benefits or lack thereof, it seems absurd that the Council would already consider retracting it. Where I live, and in many other parts of town, later closing times are seen as contributing to a variety of problems, including public drunkenness and urination, loitering, littering, street crime, drunk driving, etc. Unfortunately, Brazil appears to have allies on the Council (e.g., Allen and Orange and possibly others) who support the later closing time. If you are opposed to Bill 14-606, please contact your ward's councilmember and voice your opinion. The entire council can be contacted by E-mail at


Get Real
Ed T. Barron, edtb@qoldotcom

Those who would finance the purchase of a major league baseball team and move that team to the Washington, DC, area are still tilting at windmills. As long as those guys who share the same sleeping bag, Peter Angelos (Orioles owner) and Bud Selig, (baseball commish), are alive, there will never be a major league club in DC The rationale is that a major league club would kill the attendance at Orioles baseball games in Baltimore. Studies have shown that far less than 20 percent of attendees at Orioles home games come from DC or VA. Nonetheless that, according to Angelos, would cripple his income. That franchise drew over 2.6M fans this past year for a team that finished tenth put of thirteen teams in the American League and has one of the lowest payrolls of all major league teams. That attendance is probably in the top three for attendance for all the major league teams. Even if ten percent of the fans left to see a minor league game, the Orioles would still put more butts in the seats than most of the other major league teams. if they ever fielded a decent team they'd put even more fannies in the seats.

Those who really want baseball in this area should refocus their aims a bit lower and more realistically. It would make a great deal more sense to bring a good minor league baseball team to this area. A minor league team could play in a brand new ball park seating, perhaps, twelve to fifteen thousand folks who would enjoy an affordable night out with the family and see an exciting ball game in well under three hours. Major League baseball games take an average of nearly an hour longer so they can fit in all those commercials for the TV audience. I'd personally like to see a Boston franchised minor league team, one that would develop some great players to eventually whup the Oriole's asses in Camden Yards. A brand new, and expandable, ball park should be built with convenient access by Metrorail and Metrobus. We could name the team the Washington Potomacs (or would that inflame some group that protests against the use of Indian names?).


Are the New Inspection Stickers Just Cause?
Amy Bauer,

I have always been under the impression that for a policeman or woman to stop you on the road he or she had to either catch you in the act of a road violation or have some other "probable or just cause." (I use the term “probable or just cause” loosely, as I am not sure of the actual term.) My point is this: in the past, any policeman or woman in any town, in any state, could see with a quick glance that our tags were current. Now, have we not given them the reason to stop us so that they can “see the sticker in the window”? The guy from last week was right! STUPID!


You’re On Red Light Camera!
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

I am sure I'm not the only one who doesn't mind if the city makes money off of enforcing the law. Personally, I'd rather see the Marylanders and Virginians running red lights and speeding in my neighborhood pay up than have my taxes increased. It's a tax on those who ignore the law and the safety of others — sounds good to me. The city gets revenue, lawbreakers get punished, and hopefully the offenses become less frequent as people realize they'll be caught. I'm supposed to be mad at the mayor for this?


Speed Cameras
Larry Ray,

I, for one, am definitely in favor of the speed cameras. Most drivers pay no attention to the pedestrian safety. Stand at any busy intersection and you will note one car speeding through a red light every three minutes. Here in DC, it is a given that most cars speed through yellow lights. Speed cameras may save the lives and safety of many pedestrians.


Stealth Taxation
Dominic Sale,

I find Mr. Imhoff's points on the traffic cameras to be both astute and frightening. Can someone look into what percentage of DC's annual revenues are generated through fines and fees in proportion to other major US cities? Mr. Williams seems to be quite content with this revenue alchemy, which is why, at tax time, we all need to look at our actual expenses we pay to run this government, not just what comes out of our paychecks.


Not Again, Carol
Sharon Cochran,

I agree with everything that Harold Goldstein wrote about the City Council. It is time that the lot of them are held accountable. What has “I cried for you” Carol Schwartz really done in the past thirty plus years? Yep, I know that a) she is nice, b) she is good at the I-told-you-so (at least thirty days after the event), c) collecting a nice big city salary, d) and that she is not Tony Williams. What legislation has she written? Quite frankly, I've seen her do nothing but talk on the phone and give canned speeches during her own hearings. I want a manager, not a hug. Exactly what will she do as mayor?


Our Perennial Shortfall
Jeffrey Kraskin,

Harold Goldstein states in “Our Perennial Shortfall,” “Where is their oversight? If Patterson is aware of this bloating, then why weren't she and the council stopping it before the shortfall got to where it is? Get rid of the council en masse!”

Mr. Goldstein makes a very good point about the City Council, but he needs to make his statements more carefully. Councilmember Patterson is the only Councilmember who voted against the Mayor's budget. She stood out among her colleagues. Her action may have angered the Mayor's staff for not supporting the resulting faulty budget. A budget that has led the city into this last minute budget realignment. Maybe if we had more councilmembers like Councilmember Patterson, willing to take a stand on behalf of citizens, we would not have so many problems.


Ignorance Must Be Bliss
Jason Juffras,

Harold Goldstein's attack on the DC Council for the District's budget deficit was appalling for its ignorance as well as his bizarre political theory. Is this the same Council that just closed a $323 million deficit, a mere three weeks after it was reported by city finance officials, and has helped rack up five consecutive budget surpluses for the District? Our government is fair game for criticism, but that criticism should have at least some semblance of reality.

Councilmember Kathy Patterson has been one of the leaders in the District's financial recovery, before the control board period, during the control period, and after the control period. In 1999, when Mayor Williams wanted to claim $32 million in budget savings from “managed competition” so he could fund other programs, Kathy prevailed in arguing that we couldn't claim savings until the program had shown results. This was one of her long list of saves for the city, because the District never launched a single managed competition program.

Goldstein's claim that “Mayors come and Mayors go . . . but the Council is the constant” would be laughed out of any school of political science. Hate to tell you, Mr. Goldstein, but Councilmembers also come and go. Both the Mayor and the Council share credit, and blame, for the city's finances.



New York Avenue Corridor Transportation Study Public Meeting, October 5
Hadiah Jordan,

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT), along with the DC Office of Planning, invites you to discuss transportation and land use issues regarding the New York Avenue Corridor. The meeting will be on October 5, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at R.H. Terrell Junior High School Auditorium, 1000 1st Street, NW (enter on Pierce Street), Metro bus routes 80, 96, P6; parking on site. Learn about existing conditions in the study area, explore ideas about inter-modal transportation centers (ITCs), and share your vision for a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, world-class entry corridor to Washington, DC.

Later, visit the grand opening celebration of the NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue) Community Outreach and Marketing Center. This center will provide information about the new Metrorail Station, the ATF Headquarters Building, NoMA projects, and the New York Avenue Transportation Study. This event, also on October 5, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., with a special program at 2 p.m., at 77 P Street, NE (Florida and NY Avenues). For more information, please visit or call Justice & Sustainability Associates at 610-0005.


Tenleytown History Day, October 5
Mary Alice Levine,

Come help us celebrate Tenleytown History Day this Saturday, October 5, from 10:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the 4400 block of Grant Road, NW (located 1 block south of Albemarle, between Wisconsin and Nebraska.) Activities include a tour of Fort Reno Park, conducted by the National Park Service (10:30 a.m.); an award ceremony honoring the historic designation of Grant Road (noon); tours of the Grant Road Historic District (12:15 and 3:30 p.m.); a tour of Eldbrooke Methodist Church (circa 1840) and the old Methodist Cemetery (1:30 p.m.); and a tour of Armesleigh Park, featuring The Rest (oldest house in Tenleytown) (2:30 p.m.). There will also be showings of vintage videotape from Wilson High School. History displays will include old maps.

Several area churches established in the 19th Century are participating. Food, beverages and children's activities will be available. This is a pot luck event — please bring a dish of food. Tenleytown (also known as Tennellytown and Tenalytown) sprang into existence in the 1700s, and was well known for its taverns and hospitality. It is the second oldest community (after Georgetown) incorporated into the District of Columbia. It had a crucial role in protecting Washington during the Civil War. Come learn more. The event is sponsored by the Tenleytown Neighbors Association and the Tenleytown Historical Society.


Great Women Jazz Singers, Benning Library, October 5
Dorothy Marschak,

This Saturday, October 5, from 2-3 p.m., CHIME presents singer and actress Cynthia Lin in a performance-demonstration of “Great Women Jazz Singers” at Benning Library, 3935 Benning Road, NE, near Minnesota Avenue. Lin will lead us on a tour of the distinctive female singers in jazz history from Billie Holiday to young artists of today. She will explain and demonstrate differences in style, range, technique and interpretation. Cynthia has appeared with various theater groups around town, and will next be seen in “South Pacific” at the Arena Stage. She currently sings with jazz band Blue Moment, and has taught piano and voice classes as a CHIME volunteer.

This program is the second offered by CHIME (Community Help In Music Education) this year in its series of 22 free programs for all ages on Saturday afternoons at 11 branch libraries. (Last week was “The History of Gospel Music” at Watha T. Daniel library). The next one will be October 12 at Mount Pleasant Library on “Traditional Appalachian Folk Music and Tales” with dulcimer player Ralph Lee Smith and banjo player Lea Coryell. These first three programs complete our section on music with US roots. They will be followed by programs on music with Hispanic, Asian, African and European roots, respectively. The series brings out the connections between as well as the distinctive characteristics of different kinds of music.

For more information about this and other programs in the series, or about CHIME, visit CHIME’s web site at, E-mail, or call 232-2731. We are a volunteer organization that relies on donations to support its activities and would welcome your contribution.


Used Book Sale, Stoddert School, October 6
Edna Small,

At the Stoddert School Fun Fair this Sunday, October 6, there will be a coffee bar and a book sale for adults. Books priced to go: 50 cents for most paperbacks, $1.00 for most hardbacks. Some treasures special-priced. The public school is located at 40th and Calvert Streets, NW. Fair and sale hours are noon to 4:00 p.m.


Candidates’ Forum, October 22
Joan Gordon,

The Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Alliance will sponsor a candidates' forum for the At-Large City Council seats. The forum will be held on Tuesday, October 22, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, 3160 16th Street, NW (16th and Lamont Streets). The moderator will be Tom Sherwood, reporter for News Channel 4. The forum is an opportunity for DC residents to ask questions and voice their concerns to the candidates. For additional information contact Joan Gordon,



Bruce Snyder,

My friend continues to have a car for sale, but at a new price: $1500 or best offer. Also new are its clutch, timing belt, and brakes. 1991 Mazda 626, 87,000 miles. When I briefly thought my car had been stolen last week my second thought was “buy Leonore's.” Leave a message at 237-4300.



Seeking Betamax Recorder/Player
Ron Eberhardt,

I am looking for a working Betamax recorder/player — although it need not record anymore! Do you have such a dinosaur in your basement waiting for a home? If so, send me an E-mail with your price and description of the player.



DC LEARNs Organizations Tackle Literacy in DC
Phil Shapiro,

Earlier this year I attended an event where Verizon and DC LEARNs officially announced their partnership. Founded in 1996, DC LEARNs is the coalition of literacy organizations in DC. Verizon is coming through in a very big way to support literacy efforts in DC. At this event I heard an inspiring speech from the president of the board of DC LEARNs, Dr. Sharon Morgenthaler. For those who might be interested, you can read the text of the speech at and hear the audio recording of the speech at

Do you know someone who would like to be a literacy tutor/volunteer? A great place to call is the Literacy Helpline, within the DC Public Libraries. 202-727-2431. This same phone number can be used by literacy learners to find an organization they can go to for assistance with literacy and GED trainings. On another tack, do you know a DC-area nonprofit organization that would like to have their audio or video put up on the web? I set aside some time each month to do that kind of work pro bono. (I also do that kind of work as part of my livelihood.)



Cell Phones
Annie McCormick,

I recently switched cell phone companies and have two old (two years old) phones. I heard somewhere that there is a company who refurbishes the phones and provides them to neighborhood watch groups. Can anyone tell me where I can donate them and if the donation is tax deductible?


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