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October 13, 2002

What Isn’t in themail

Dear Omitters:

1) Only one person wrote anything about the general election, which is now only three weeks away. Two major community newspapers, the Current papers and the InTowner, have endorsed Carol Schwartz for mayor. Two endorsements for a Republican, in this town. Isn't that worth talking about, and isn't voting for Carol worth thinking about? 2) Nobody has written anything about either the initiative or the advisory referendum that are going to be on the ballot. Don't you want to be the first to advise your fellow citizens how to vote on them? 3) Nobody wrote anything about the sniper shootings. Aren't we worried; isn't one random shooter affecting all our lives? Or do we think that we're pretty much immune because all the shootings have been just off major highways? If that's so, then why do we leave it up to the politicians to be the only blowhards about the shootings? Can't we challenge the sniper and call him a coward, too? Or is it easier to do that when you're surrounded by a security detail? 4) Only one person took me up on the challenge to write an amusing response to Frank Rich's put-down of DC. Mark Eckenwiler's ditty is a first class message, but two people took the trouble to say they weren't going to take the trouble to answer Rich. Doesn't anyone else want to try?

Gary Imhoff


Frank Rich, My Dear: I Don’t Give A Damn
Mark Eckenwiler, eck at ingot dot org

(As sung by Ray Bolger to music from The Wizard of Oz)

I could sing a sneering ditty
Compare dear New York City
To Potomac's vile stain

Yes, my past, it is checkered
Matters not to the Paper of Record
That I haven't got a brain

Oh, the transients and the tourists
They're purely DC's tsuris
Ones Manhattan would disdain

Yes, I much prefer the Hudson
Even if I am a putz 'n'
Drama critic with no brain


New York Versus DC
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

I hope everyone ignores Gary's suggestions to write about why they like DC better than New York. Do we have to play the same tired game Frank Rich did in his Times piece? Obviously, when Mr. Rich visits DC, he spends most of his trip sleepwalking and avoiding scary new information. Obviously, Mr. Rich was happy to leave the place he grew up and has an ax to grind. But who cares? The article will be forgotten faster than you can say “lazy journalist.”


Not Much to Say
Agate Tilmanis,

I will not write a paragraph about Frank Rich's unhappiness about Washington, DC, not being like New York because I don't know what to say about it. Washington is not like New York, true. Why does it bother Frank Rich? There are many people like him.


Residential Permit Parking
Jack McKay,

The Residential Permit Parking (RPP) system exists to stop commuters from using residential DC streets as free all-day parking lots. Hence the characteristics of the RPP system that City Council has imposed: only residential blocks that are "impacted by commuter vehicles between 7:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., on weekdays" qualify for RPP zoning [DCMR 18, 2411.4(b) and 2412.2(a)]. Only residents of such RPP-zoned blocks can get residential parking permits [DCMR 18, 2413.3]. A resident's car must be registered in the District to get a permit [DCMR 18, 2413.5].

One consequence of RPP-zoning some blocks in a neighborhood, and not others, is that the many residents who have their cars registered outside DC move their cars permanently to the non-RPP blocks, and walk home. In Mount Pleasant, on every non-RPP block you will find twenty to thirty non-DC cars parked all day long. Though the RPP program is based on daytime commuter parking, the residents allowed RPP stickers are granted special nighttime parking privileges: after 10 p.m., parking regulations are relaxed, e.g., one can park in a loading zone, or close to an intersection -- but only if your car has an RPP sticker [DCMR 18, 2411.19]. Residents of RPP blocks can apply for an extension of the hours of RPP into the night and into weekends, without limit, and with no criteria to limit eligibility for such extended hours [DCMR 18, 2411.1(a)]. Our City Councilmember's staff is advising his constituents that they can apply for RPP to be effective twenty-four hours a day, and on Saturdays too. Then residents with RPP stickers will be able to park anywhere they want at night, but residents of non-RPP blocks will be prohibited from seeking overnight parking on RPP-zoned blocks.

The City Council has taken the program designed to deal with daytime commuter parking and blindly tacked on provisions for evening and overnight parking. If you live on a block that has a daytime commuter parking problem, then you're granted special parking privileges at night. Does that make any sense?


Tired of Tony Williams’s Lies, Scandals, and Broken Promises
Alan Goldstein,

Many voters in East of the River and working class communities of DC are planning to skip our city's November 5th election, according to media reports. I believe this would be a mistake. My family has been active in Democratic Party activities for years. However, on November 5th we plan to vote for David Catania for At Lage Councilmember, as will many of my Democratic friends. And as our protest against the conservative policies of Mayor Tony Williams, we will write in former DC Democratic State Committeeman Arthur Jackson for Mayor. He has more than thirty years experience in Government, Elected a City Councilman at age 18 and is a progressive Democrats who cares about people, about affordable housing and the corruption in District contracts and the mayor's office.

As a member of the DC Democratic State Committee, Jackson led the fight against the Williams administration's health plan, and he said, “It will lead to abuse and corruption.” Review the Inspector General's report released this week. If you can't vote for Tony Williams, write in Arthur Jackson for mayor on November 5th, and tell your neighbors, “Let's send a Message to Million Dollar Tony.”


Figuring Salaries
Betty Ann Kane,

To the person who wrote regarding what appeared to be average salaries of $161,000 paid to personnel on the Mercer contract to monitor the Health Care Alliance: figuring salary costs is not as simple as dividing the cost by the number of personnel. As anyone who has done grants, or other budgeting, knows, on average the cost of an employee is about 2 and a half times actual salary, or, put another way, only about 40 percent of what is budgeted as a per professional person personnel cost is actually the salary part. The rest is fringe benefits such as health insurance, vacation and sick leave, mandated costs such as the employer's share of social security, workers compensation, etc., and overhead and support costs, such as office space, equipment, human resources, clerical support, and other administrative expenses. If I were doing a budget to hire four professionals at $50,000 each in salary, I would have to budget $125,000 for each, not $50,000, to cover all the actual cost. I haven't seen the Mercer numbers, but if the per person cost by simple division is $160,000, the actual average salary may be only $64,000 — 40 percent of that.


My Generation Thirty Years Later
Tom Berry

Bryce Suderow raises a good point in the October 10 issue of themail. The lack of comment in this forum regarding mass arrests of protesters makes him question the spine of those who demonstrated against the Vietnam War in the '60s and '70s. First, not everyone who participates in this forum is from that generation, so, those too young to have “questioned authority” or “not trusted anyone over thirty” may have their own reasons for not responding or caring. I'll admit, I was alive and kickin' back then. But, as much as I'd have preferred, I wasn't able to participate in any demonstrations. My choices were simple when my educational deferment ended: Canada or the military. In a fit of moral integrity I chose the latter and I was too busy serving my country (a requirement for young men that my generation eliminated several years ago) on the Navy's oldest tin can in the Gulf of Tonkin while many of my peers raised hell at home. My ship was lobbing 5" shells at whatever while the homeland was in turmoil. The demonstrations were “cool,” but of more importance were the assassinations of M. L. King and Bobby Kennedy. What the hell was going on at home, I thought. Then I came home and was too busy trying to make ends meet too far from any major metropolis to get involved in protests. But I still sympathized with the antiwar cause. What I did not sympathize with was any violence in the form of protest. And I still do not condone it. So, as for the recent mass arrests, I approve. Why? Unlike the Vietnam War, there is no single reason to protest. There are disparate groups with a plethora of agendas and causes who seem to find it convenient to mass together to air their individual points. There is no unity. And these bands of thugs who call themselves protesters have an ugly track record. Look at Seattle a few years ago. (OK, blame “all” the violence on the police.) And look at what some of these protesters publicly announced in advance what they would do. The police had every right to peacefully disassemble large groups before the situation turned nasty as, I'll say it again, it did in Seattle. The police did an excellent job this time. And the innocents rounded up with the masses? They knew what was going on; they shouldn't have been there in the first place. You step in a mud puddle, you get dirty.

As for Mr. Suderow's suggestion that my generation has traded in its principles, I couldn't agree more. And it saddens me to say that. Our mantra has turned into, not “expensive cars and homes,” as he suggests, for that belongs to a younger generation, but “do good.” Yep, we are the do-gooders of society. We are busy protecting ourselves from ourselves. Let me give an example from 3,000 miles away, but what still reflects the prevailing thought of the country. A friend recently visiting from Washington State told me that there is a law in that state that you can be fined $500 for not wearing a protective helmet while riding a bicycle. Hey, it's OK to run a stoplight and total someone's car and be fined far less, but don't leave home on your bike without your cranial protective device, citizen. God Almighty, man, this country needs fewer laws, not more. But my generation will assure that we get more. That simple helmet law will someday mandate a bike rider to wear total self-protective devices, such as shoulder pads, elbow pads, wrist pads, hip pads . . . you get the picture here. To ride a bike you'll have to dress like a football player. Why? Because my generation has forgotten its cry for less big-brotherism in our lives and has decided that it knows what's best for all of us. Whatever happened to self-responsibility? We've forgotten to question authority. We now, sadly for all, are the authority. Twenty-five years ago I followed a cop through Farragut Square at noon as he strolled past a well-dressed man obviously smoking a reefer on his lunch break. Today my generation has assured that you can't even use marijuana for medicinal purposes in DC. Haven't we come a long way? Mr. Suderow, is right: we have become our parents. But I have sadder news; his generation will become its parents! And DC will still be in the status quo.


The Protests
Bryce Suderow,

Three events prompted me to write my letter to themail about the arrests of the protesters. The first event occurred in a chat room over the weekend of October 4-6. A middle-aged Washingtonian man was complaining about the demonstrators. He stated: “They're a bunch of rich college students who think they know more about foreign policy than their government.” This was exactly what my father said to me about the anti-Vietnam War demonstrators.

Second, I was reading Robert S. McNamara's Argument Without End. This book chronicles meetings he and other former American leaders and officials held with Vietnamese officials in the mid 1990s, in which the two sides discusses the mindsets that led to the War. On page 58 McNamara stated: “Was it true that the fall of South Vietnam would trigger the fall of all Southeast Asia? Answer: Probably not. Hanoi's overriding objective was to unify the country.” In other words, the US Government made a mistake about the nature of Vietnamese communism that led it to fight a war that caused to the deaths of 3.8 million Vietnamese. Those are McNamara's figures, by the way. Could it be that the policy of the World Bank and the IMF is based on mistaken assumptions about the rest of the world, and that the young protesters are aware of this? You bet.

Third, I have been disturbed by the reactions of my baby boomer friends to the mass arrests. They think they are justified because they preserve order downtown. It seems to me they are betraying the ideals they fought for when they were young.


Police Targeted Journalists
Eddie Becker,

In the recent demonstrations, the police trampled press freedom. There are reports of numerous arrests of reporters. Some reporters complained of being roughed up, and told stories of the authorities deliberately smashing camera equipment. All claim they had camera, microphone or pen and pad in hand, and were not interfering with the police. Most had press passes, some even issued by the DC Police. Thomas Jefferson felt so strongly about the principle of free expression that he said, “If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” (Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57)

Press freedom is constantly under attack. Post September 11, police increasingly see journalists, camera-in-hand, not as observers, but as a threat. In Washington, DC journalists have been physically attacked by police, their equipment smashed and many were arrested and jailed without warning while simply reporting stories. Press freedom is easy to take for granted if we live in the past. Past victories are easily overtaken by current events. It’s time to stand up to defend the right to access and freedom of information.


Unwarranted Concern over Mass Arrests
Ed Dixon,

People protesting against the World Bank/IMF policies should hope to get arrested. In the tradition of Gandhi and King's passive resistance, the powers that be will begin to question their policies when they have to consider the unexpected cost of those policies. When decisions are decided behind closed doors, there are only so many ways to add uninvited opinion. The policies will change when the image or cost of locking up huge numbers of peaceful demonstrators begins to eat away at the moral ground of those in charge.

I take exception to a reader's suggestion that demonstrators in the 60's and 70's were not arrested or harassed by police. Frequently, this abuse came from more than just the police. Need I mention the Freedom Rides in Birmingham, Montgomery, or Jackson and police collusion? Also police action against antiwar protesters in Greensboro, Kent State, and the Democratic Convention in Chicago. It is at the hands of the strong arm of the law that peaceful demonstrators gain the most sympathy. Over time, if there is truth in the protesters message, reform will occur.


Info on Protest Arrests
Sam Smith,

The information concerning the handling of protest arrests about which George Laroche wrote [in the last issue of themail] is now at


Tenley Tower
David Rotenstein,

In September, I filed a complaint with the FCC demonstrating that American Tower Corporation violated the National Historic Preservation Act by not initiating consultation with the DC State Historic Preservation Officer prior to starting construction on the 756-foot Tenley tower. The Tenley tower is located at the site of the former DC terminal of the Western Union Telegraph Company (Art Deco/Moderne building constructed in 1947), a property that appears not only to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, but also appears to qualify as a National Historic Landmark as part of the nation's first private-sector commercial microwave system. In addition to adversely affecting the former Western Union building, American Tower also demolished a historic Washington Gas Light Company building to make way for the tower's base.

The FCC currently is investigating the complaint. Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, community members are entitled to become consulting parties in the proceedings. In fact, before American Tower Corporation started construction, the National Historic Preservation Act required the identification and consultation of interested parties/stakeholders. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has information on how to become a part of the proceedings, i.e., a “consulting party” (see for information on the process). The only remedial action that is appropriate (to mitigate the impacts introduced by the partially built tower) is for American Tower Corporation to remove the tower and become responsible stewards of the historic property the company acquired in 1997.


Tenley Tower
Betty Ann Kane,

The Tenley Tower was not being put up for cell phone use. The Tenley Tower was being built for broadcast TV use, which requires a much higher tower. There has been no evidence that any cell phone company had any plans to use space on the Tenley Tower, which would have been much higher and larger than cell phone companies need.


What Was Wrong with the Tower
Ann Loikow, Cleveland Park,

Stan Wellborn asked “what did American Tower do that was against DC laws and procedures that were in effect at the time of the construction?” In fact, there were numerous problems with DCRA's issuance of a building permit for the American Tower tower in Tenley. First, under Zoning Commission Order No. 587 of Feb. 13, 1989, a new tower in a C-2 district (such as Tenley) is only allowed as special exception (a public hearing process before the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment). In part because of a clerical error in codifying the order, this was not done. Second, the tower exceeded the 1910 Congressional Height Act and only the Mayor can waive the height limitations. This was not done. Third, the environmental review required by the District's Environmental Policy Act was not done. Fourth, even though the tower has very deep footings and is right next to the Tenleytown Metro stop, WMATA, according to the permit forms, did not review the application. In addition, once American Tower was formally put on notice that the District Government would revoke the permit, American Tower, saying it was merely “securing” the tower, added approximately a third to its height. The bottom line is that the more one looks into the process by which this permit was issued, the more flaws one discovers. For those who are interested, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit will hear oral arguments on American Tower's appeal of the US District Court's dismissal of its federal claims with prejudice on October 18 at 9:30 a.m..


Making Lemonade from a Lemon
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

The District should buy out the developer who owns the incomplete “Eiffel Tower” on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown and resell it to another more adventurous developer. Perhaps the developer who negotiated a great deal with the District for the Grand Prix auto races near Redskins Park would be interested. It could be built a good bit higher and become the Coney Island Parachute Jump of Dodge City.

Alternatively, it could be modified to have a viewing platform and a rotating restaurant at the top for tourists to view the oh so lovely Tenleytown. And don't forget that magnificent structure, the wonderfully historic Hechinger's.


Political Animal Mimicry
Kemry Hughes,

FYI, the posters for the Eugene Dewitt Kinlow campaign were designed by mid-July, ordered by August, and posted at polling sites by September 10th. From my best recollection the Catania posters came out after the Kinlow posters. If there is mimicry, maybe both candidates see value in the DC flag.



Stein Club Endorsement Meeting, October 14
Kurt Vondran,

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club will have its regular monthly meeting on Monday, October 14th (Columbus Day) at 7:00 p.m. in Room 1030S, 441 4th Street, NW (Judiciary Square Metro). Items on the agenda will include: endorsements for ANC Commissioners; consideration of endorsement for the second At-Large DC Council seat; a special presentation by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) on Senate races nationwide; a briefing by the Howard University student whom the Stein Club helped send to Dade County to work on the referendum there; and Councilmember Phil Mendelson may also be joining us to thank the Club for our assistance in his campaign for re-nomination. If you have any questions, please feel free to write


Leonard Garment Discusses Duke Ellington, October 17
Myrna Sislen,

Lawyer and jazz lover Leonard Garment will be at Middle C Music Store, Thursday, October 17, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the just released Blue Note recording of Duke Ellington's 1969 concert at the Nixon White House, “Music: A New Revelation from the Nixon White House.” Middle C is at 4530 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (just north of the Tenleytown Metro). For more information, contact me at 244-7326,


Using Print on Demand and E-Publishing, October 19
Barbara Conn,

There's been a lot of discussion about on-demand, short-run, and even ultra-short-run printing. Is it really possible to print one hundred books cost effectively? Ten books? What about one book? How about books by the chapter or reprints on demand? Can entrepreneurs and consultants make use of this rapidly improving technology as a tool in building their businesses? Ken Chaletzky, president of Copy General Corporation, will take us beyond the advertising hype, telling us a little of the history of digital technology and what current digital technology can and cannot do. He'll share with us information about the true cost of on-demand and short-run printing, including back-end costs of taking and processing orders.

Gather your questions, friends, and colleagues, and bring them to the Saturday, October 19, 1:00 p.m. (check-in: 12:50 p.m.), meeting of the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (E&C SIG) at the Cleveland Park Library (Second Floor Large Meeting Room), 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW -- just a block and a half south of the Cleveland Park Metrorail station — half a block south of the Cineplex Odeon Uptown movie theater. Meetings of the CPCUG Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG are free and are held each month. For more information about this presentation, the speaker, CPCUG [a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization], and its E&C SIG, and to register for this and/or future SIG meetings, visit


Mayoral Forum, October 21
Keith Jarrell,

A mayoral forum will be held for the citizens of Capitol Hill and all other interested parties on Monda,y October 21, at 7 p.m. at the H Street Playhouse, located at 1365 H Street, NE. Doors will open at 6 p.m., at which time At-Large Candidates from throughout the city have been invited to attend an informal meet and greet. The event will feature the three leading candidates for the office of mayor in the District of Columbia: Carol Schwartz, Republican; Tony Williams, Democrat; and Steve Donkin, Statehood Green Party. Tom Sherwood, News 4 will serve as moderator.

This forum will offer citizens the opportunity to have their questions answered by the candidates. Questions can be submitted in advance by E-mailing them to The mayoral forum is cosponsored by the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association and citizens of PSA 106. For further details, please contact Keith Jarrell, 332-4429 or via E-mail at:


“International Sensation” on Stage, November 10
Robin Larkin,

Footlights, the Washington area's only modern drama discussion group, has arranged for group-discount tickets to a performance of Ariel Dorfman's “Death and the Maiden” (1991). An “international sensation” (Washington Post), “Death and the Maiden” takes place in a country that has just ousted a brutal dictatorship. A woman who, under the former regime, survived torture while blindfolded, kidnaps a man who sounds like the one who tortured her. But is he? The performance takes place 3 p.m. Sunday November 10 at Theater J, DC JCC, 1529 16th Street., NW (Dupont Circle Metro). Tickets are $22 and include a post-show discussion. Afterwards, theatergoers will gather for continued discussion over dinner at an inexpensive nearby Persian restaurant. Send your check, payable to “Footlights,” to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Court, Rockville, MD 20852 (301-897-9314 and For further information go to



Turtles in Need of Home
Bill Starrels, Georgetown,

We have two red ear slider turtles that need a new home. They require a large fish tank with a filter and daily feedings. They don't bark and will never say hello. The perfect pet. Free to a good home. No chefs need apply. Call 338-1450; ask for Bill.



Apartment Swap
Victoria McKernan,

I will be doing research in London and Cambridge for a week in November and am wondering about trying to arrange an apartment swap for my place here in DC. Any advice, experience, or recommendations?


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