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October 23, 2002

Let’s Make a Deal

Dear Dealmakers:

On Monday, Republican candidate for mayor Carol Schwartz held an embarrassing hearing on Democratic candidate for mayor Tony Williams's sweetheart giveaway deal to pay developer Douglas Jemal $12.5 million for a property in Prince George's County that Jemal bought four years ago for $1.5 million. The District is currently leasing about a third of this property from Jemal for $1 million a year to use as an impoundment lot to replace the Brentwood lot that it sold to another favored developer in another sweetheart deal for just $3 million. In the primary election, Jemal used his trucks and workers to put up “Write-In” posters for Williams, and Jemal also displayed Williams posters in all the buildings that he owns downtown.

Since his first day in office, Williams has been a skilled practitioner of the District's own version of socialism: from each according to his ability, to each according to his political connections. The $12.5 million giveaway to Jemal will be dwarfed by the taxpayer squeeze Williams proposes to build a baseball stadium as a gift for the millionaires who comprise the Washington Baseball Club. In addition to exposing the Jemal giveaway, Schwartz has come out against making the public pay for the welfare for millionaires giveaway to the Baseball Club team owners. But I'll make you a bet. In the general election, the Washington Post will endorse, and DC's voters will vote for the candidate who promises more scams at their own expense and against the candidate who exposes and opposes the sweetheart deals. We would rather be cheated by a Democrat than be well served by a Republican.

And political crimes won't be prosecuted by the US Attorney. Two weeks ago, US Attorney Roscoe Howard announced that he would not prosecute any crimes in the mayor's fundraising scandal, in which phony nonprofit organizations were set up and existing nonprofit organizations were exploited to create illegitimate tax deductions for donations to the mayor's political causes. Howard, who publicly announced his close friendship with Williams during mayor's petition scandal, said that there was nothing illegal in this. (If you buy that, try it yourself and see how loudly the prosecutors laugh when you claim that you did nothing illegal.) Similarly, the US Attorney's office isn't conducting any investigation of the mayor's election fraud through forged nominating petitions. Given the US Attorney's past practice of winking at election fraud in DC, it's highly unlikely that anyone will be prosecuted for it and that, if the US Attorney acts at all, it will be to prosecute only Scott Bishop, Sr., and not anyone else involved, or anyone who supervised and directed him. Williams isn't alone in the favor he receives from the US Attorney's Office. Eric Holder, during his entire three-and-a-half-year term as US Attorney during the last Barry administration, couldn't find a single case of high-level governmental corruption to prosecute — which cynics like me think was his greatest qualification for being named as Deputy US Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.

Advocates of Advisory Referendum A, which calls for a local elected District Attorney, are basing their argument entirely on local pride and home rule. I'd think a better argument would be that there may be a slim chance that a locally elected DA would be independent from, or even a rival of, the mayor, and may feel free to prosecute governmental corruption. No guarantee, but a chance. If we the voters won't punish official corruption ourselves, maybe we can get a prosecutor who will.

Gary Imhoff


Is There a Local Daily Paper in Washington?
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

To read the paper that claims to be the leading daily of our city, you wouldn't realize that we're just weeks away from an election in which we'll pick a mayor, city councilmembers, ANC representatives, and vote on two significant ballot initiatives. The Post's local coverage has been atrocious since I moved to DC six years ago, but this year the Metro staff seems to have given up even the illusion of trying to cover DC. I've stopped buying the daily edition and am about to cancel my Sunday subscription. I browse the web site to see if there's anything there, but I've found that the sniper story is being covered better in the New York Times. Is anyone from the Post reading? What's going on with local coverage? When is the paper's name changing to the “Greater Fairfax County Post?”


Bob Levine,

This evening a man approached my 85-year-old mother to do a roofing job for a ridiculously low price while he was in the neighborhood working on another house. They have pickup trucks and ladders but I didn’t see any work going on. They told me that they were working for one of my neighbors, but when I called her and she told me in no uncertain tones that she wouldn’t let them work on her home. The head man gave me a card. The firm is called Family Roofing, but there is no listing in the DC phone book for a Family Roofing, there is no address on the card, and a reverse phone search on the phone number comes up negative. I called the check and fraud division of the MPD but I don’t hold much hope there. This was in Georgetown but I’ll bet they’ll visit your neighborhood soon. Don’t fall for a roofing fraud.


Bicycle Kamikazes
Tom Berry,

Disclaimer: none of this concerns bicycle messengers. This is about commuter bicyclists. That said, the commuter or recreational bikers in this area have been quick, and rightfully so, to remind us of their road rights. And, by and large, I don't think they're getting a fair shake on our roads. I often see motorized vehicle drivers press on with little regard for their two-wheel road mates. They don't give them room when passing, they ignore their rights at intersections, and they speed past bikers with total disregard for the effects of their "draft" behind them. But I have observed recent incidents that make me question whether many bikers are serious about sharing the road. Twice in recent weeks I have been stopped on M Street, waiting for pedestrians to clear the crosswalk before turning right onto 20th. The pedestrians clear and, as I start to turn right, I've had a bicyclist speed past me on the right. Having the right of way or not, I wouldn't feel good about sending some 10-20 mph speed merchant to a skidding stop on the asphalt because of his failure to follow the rules of the road. Also, last week I was commuting down Connecticut Avenue in rush hour where it's four lanes inbound. Lo, to my surprise, on two different days, I passed two different bicyclists who were commuting to downtown in the fourth lane from the curb. One even had the audacity to bull his way through a red light at Nebraska, forcing turning traffic to stop for him. A few blocks later I looked in my rear view mirror and was shocked (is that possible in this city?) to watch him move into a lane of outbound (oncoming) traffic so the cars behind him could pass. This is responsible biking? I'll continue to share the road with push-bikers, but attitudes and actions like those just described will not, I'm sure, gain them any allies from the drivers who don't, frankly, give a damn about them right now. You have to earn the respect you want by following the same rules that apply to all vehicles, motorized or not.


Mixed Emotions
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

With the general election less than a week away I find myself a little undecided about who to vote for as our next mayor. I would unhesitatingly vote for Carol Schwartz but for one thing. Carol might throw out some of the really good people in Tony Williams' administration. Yes, Tony has actually brought aboard some good folks in addition to a whole gaggle of real losers (Ronnie Few and Charles Ramsey come first to my mind). Among those who are a genuine assets are the CFO, Deputy Mayor Koskinen, and a few others whose names I don't remember.

The problem with electing a new mayor, of course, is that the new broom will come in and sweep all the good folks out, replacing them with a whole new crop of close friends. Carol is a very capable administrator and certainly a much more savvy politician than Tony Williams. She is certainly less naive and would likely not make the too many errors that Williams has made in the first four years. Maybe he has wised up (though the sweetheart deal he wants to make with Doug Jemal looks pretty sleazy) and his admin will be really successful in the next four years. But Williams has also not made any real dent in the crop of nonfunctioning departments and high-paid administrators in the bloated bureaucracy. And so, I remain undecided and will make up my mind before Sunday. Stay tuned


Election Choices
Janet W. Brown,

Wouldn't it be good for the city if all our elected officials faced strong electable opponents? That won't happen until the stakes are bigger and there are Congressional seats to aspire for, but in the meantime there are some good solid hardworking citizens challenging smug incumbents. We can vote for them and send a message to the Mayor and those council members who worry too little about the poor in our city and too much about the tax burdens of the rich. Some of my favorites: Debbie Hanrahan (Statehood/Green Party), great community asset and longtime political activist, is running against Linda Cropp for Council Chair. Mrs. Cropp pretends to be neutral on the issues, but she never met a developer she didn't like nor voted against a tax break or subsidy for us wealthy folks. You won't read much about her because she operates behind the scenes, as in the recent $323 million budget cutting where she held four days of secret meetings with the Council and Mayor and negotiated the cuts — most of which came out of human services, education and housing -- before she presided over a public hearing ostensibly to hear the citizens' views. Debbie, by contrast, knows the issues and is absolutely open and honest about her views.

For the two Council-member-at-large seats there are genuine choices to be made. Incumbent Phil Mendelson deserves another term. And either Michelle Tingling-Clemons (Statehood/Green) or Eugene Kinlow (independent) would be refreshing in the other seat. The incumbent, David Catania, needs to feel a sharp slap of disapproval for slipping into the last budget a provision exempting office buildings from WASA groundwater discharge fees — bad for the environment and bad for the water and sewage bills that the rest of us have to pay to make up for this typical Catania generosity to big corporations. Steve Donkin (Statehood/Green) is my choice for mayor. Bright, thoughtful, hardworking, caring. (He, like Debbie, was one of the “Democracy Seven” who stood up for our voting rights.) On every election questionnaire you've seen, his responses are the most carefully thought out. Or you can vote for Tricia Kinch (Independent), a wonderful feisty ally in our struggle for affordable housing. She, working by herself at community meetings and on street corners, managed to get the correct number of valid signatures on her nominating petitions!

Vote yes, please, on the question of an elected attorney general. It's another small step toward democracy for the District. (And I have to give David Catania for credit for promoting this effort.) Don't stay home on Tuesday just because you think it's all a foregone conclusion. Please vote and get your neighbors and friends to do so, too. When in doubt, vote Statehood/Green. Even when I don't agree with something one of them might say, I have confidence that they are all great young people and absolutely committed to making DC a better, more democratic place to be.


Another Vote for DA
Ron Linton,

I heartily endorse Mark David Richards' support for an elected District Attorney. It would improve law enforcement immensely and in tune with community standards. First an elected District Attorney, then elected DC judges.


Keep the Pressure on the City Council for Tax Free Bonds

There is definitely a movement to repeal the proposed tax on tax-free municipal bonds, but it needs seven votes. That means we must continue writing. Kathy Patterson seems to have understood. You needn't write to her, but the other members of the council should all receive letters. Besides pointing out your personal hardship from this proposed tax, point out that it will be expensive to implement the new tax. Currently tax free bonds do not leave a paper trail. Then suggest they raise some existing tax. The ones Kathy Patterson has mentioned are hotel room tax, parking tax, and cigarette tax. Write, write, write. You can also E-mail your letters.

[E-mail addresses for city councilmembers are available at — Gary Imhoff]


Controlling Fear
Lyla Winter,

I had no idea that DC residents were staying away in droves from public places, until I read the message in themail re empty restaurants, etc. My friends and I are in our 70s and 80s — we're still shopping, going to the theater, movies, eating out, and doing the ordinary, everyday things we've always done. Maybe because of our age death is not as frightening. Or maybe it's because we've learned over the years to live our lives as we always have, in spite of loss of loved ones, loss of health, the Great Depression, polio/flu epidemics, race riots, and wars -- all beyond our control. Fear is paralyzing -- life is short.


Lightning Strikes!
Paul Williams,

Gary; love the reference about outdoor dining and the chances of being struck by lightning, but as one who has been struck twice, I don't buy the saying anymore! It's hogwash! Everyone has a very good chance of being struck, even in the middle of a city walking down the street! I learned the hard way that a bolt can travel 14 miles from any given storm cloud. And you don't need to hear lightning or thunder to be afraid; it had to start sometime, and that first bolt can get ya! At least the media circus that entailed reintroduced me to long lost friends and former college roommates.


Residential Parking
Michael Johnson,

If I remember correctly, in many cities virtually all on-street parking is metered. But, if you live in the neighborhood, you can buy a residential parking sticker that allows you to park anytime, all day. Not a bad solution, maybe.


Therefore, Whatsoever Kindness. . .
George Ripley,

How “sensible” Mr. Berry is. It doesn't disturb his logic that, were it not for the actions of protesters, the cuddly kick back system of corruption that the World Bank has winked at all these years while it has profited from the enslavement of nations, would have gone on and on. But that is just the kind of system that Mr. Berry must like. His barely concealed anger is a puzzle to me, although a quote comes to mind, “Buried in the mind of the cynic is a frustrated idealist.” I hope the more noble Mr. Berry can someday be reborn.


Countries Aren’t People
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

Tom Berry makes the common mistake in his comments on the World Bank protests of assuming that countries are like people, and make decisions in their own self interest. Sadly, countries are often run by small groups of people who control the government and do not act in the country's best interest, but rather their own. So these undemocratic and unrepresentative governments make a deal with the World Bank for a project that's mostly useless, but lines the leader's pockets, complete with onerous payment terms that make it impossible for any government in that country to spend its money addressing domestic needs. Even if the country's citizens are fortunate enough to get a more democratic government that wants to do the right thing, they're now stuck with the World Bank repayment terms for their useless project that helps no one. The debt forgiveness issue is a bit more complex than he realizes.



Clare Boothe Luce at the Footlights
Mark Gruenberg,

Sylvia Jukes Morris, author of Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce, will speak Wednesday, November 6 on Clare Boothe Luce and her play “The Women” at the monthly meeting of Footlights, the DC area's only modern-drama discussion group. “The Women” portrays a clique of wealthy New Yorkers motivated almost wholly by their relations with men. “Bracing” (San Francisco Chronicle), “brilliant” (Christian Science Monitor), and “bitchily clever” (New York), “The Women” “rings hilariously true” (New Yorker). Our meeting takes place at Luna Books, 1633 P Street, NW, three blocks east of Dupont Circle. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.; our discussion takes place 7:30-9:30. Make reservations by calling 898-4825 any time, day or night, or E-mailing You can find copies of “The Women” at Backstage Books, 545 8th Street, SE; for a special Footlights discount at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW; and in the collection Plays By and About Women, also for a discount, at Olsson's Books and Records, 1307 19th Street, NW, and 7647 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda. For further information go to

###############’s Tour De Fromage and Dinner Update
Charlie Adler,

1) Tour de Fromage: black tie cheese and wine festival. Saturday, October 26. Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, parking available in area as well as street parking, 7:00-9:30 p.m. Tour of cheeses, cheese fondues and wine tasting with full country buffet, 9:30-11:30 p.m. Desserts and dancing with D.J., attire is black tie suggested, $80 inclusive. 2) November 4, Monday, Bangkok Bistro wine dinner, 3251 Prospect Street, NW. 7-9:30 p.m. seated wine dinner, $55, tax and tip inclusive. Dinner includes acorn squash soup, shrimp papaya salad, satay, kamon jeeb, mee krob, larb toast, pad Thai pak, curried Cornish game hen, salmon pik khing, pumpkin custard. Anton Bauer Wines are included with each dish! 3) November 9th, Saturday, New England-style clam feast, Annapolis Grill, 1160 20th Street, NW, noon-2:30 p.m., seated lunch, $55, tax and tip inclusive. Lunch includes choice of New England, Santa Fe, or Manhattan style clam chowder cup; Mediterranean Clam Salad; fresh shucked topnecks mignonette; baked topneck clams four ways (casino, oreganata, deviled and Rockefeller); clam potato pie; pale ale oven roasted Manila clams; steamers in Stella Artois; fried clams with spinach tartar sauce, fried Rhode Island clam cakes; Cajun fried potatoes; corn on the cob; choice of homemade key lime pie, luscious lemon layer cake or tiramisu torte. Wine and beer is included in the price of the meal! 4) November 12, Tuesday, eight-course South African wine dinner at YanYu Restaurant, 7-10:00 p.m., $95, tax and tip inclusive, $4 valet parking available, 3433 Connecticut Avenue, NW, intersection with Newark Street, across the street from the Uptown Theater (Cleveland Park Red Line Metro stop). Join us as world-renowned executive chef Jessie Yan introduces TasteDCer's to dishes from her new international menu all paired with wines directly imported from one of South Africa's great boutique wineries, Ken Forrester! 5) November 19, Tuesday, La Chaumiere four-course traditional French wine dinner, 2813 M Street, NW, 7-9:30 p.m. seated wine dinner, $72, tax and tip inclusive. Dinner includes canapes: gougere (puff pastry balls stuffed with cheese), rillette de saumon, mousse de lapin (rabbit); first course: bisque de maise (corn bisque); second course: cotriade de cabillaud frais (fresh fillet of cod with leek and garlic sauce); third course: pate chaud forestiere en brioche, sauce au porto (brioche stuffed with a mixed pate of pork, beef and sweetbreads with mushrooms in a port wine sauce); dessert course: tarte bourdaloue (pear tart with almond). Each course is paired with a different French wine. Tickets can be purchased on our secure form at or call 333-5588 ($5 Surcharge).



Redskins Tickets Auction for DCBaseball
Scott Burr,,

We have two tickets to this Sunday's Redskins game against the Colts. The tickets are in Section 405 and include parking. Contributions are tax deductible. Please E-mail or call your bid in to Mary at or 703-684-7702. Tickets will be awarded Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. Minimum bid is $250. DCBaseball really needs your help. Buy them for a client, friend, or relative, and if you can, forward this E-mail to others you think might be interested.



Phil Shapiro,

While vacationing in San Francisco earlier this year I heard about a very popular web resource called Craigslist, which has job notices, housing notices, for-sale classifieds and all sorts of other useful info. “Sure wish we had something like that in the DC-area,” I thought to myself. Wishes come true! A friend of mine in San Francisco alerted me to Nonprofit organizations and schools can even post wish-list items for free on this site. The DC Craigslist site is not as busy as the original one in San Francisco, but if we all start using it, it could be. If you have an ounce of curiosity, check out the original Craigslist web site to see how amazing it is The icing on the cake? Absolutely no advertising on these web sites.


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