A Kinder, Gentler themail
As Stephen Sondheim's lyrics said in “A Funny Thing Happened on the
Way to the Forum,” “Elections are over; tragedy tomorrow; comedy
tonight.” Or something like that. In this issue we concentrate on the
post mortems, mainly of how the elections were conducted — for the
next issue, let's get back to life as we're living it. Comedy or
tragedy, preferably comedy.
Mark Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
The DC economy: Stephen Fuller published an article in the Washington
Post entitled, “Virginia Is for Tax Haters (and Other Regional
About DC, Fuller wrote: “Instead of focusing on revenues generated by
local businesses or residents, the council turned to non-residents and
federal resources, with measures such as photo radar fines — most
drivers who pay the fines are from Maryland — and higher taxes on real
estate sales, paid in large part by people who are moving out of the
city or who haven't moved in yet. Shifting the burden to non-local
sources is consistent with the District's political culture, which
maintains that the city is victimized by its status as host to the
federal government. Because the majority of the electorate sees itself
as disadvantaged, and projects a sense of entitlement to publicly
provided services and facilities, the city leadership cannot undertake
any significant effort to save money by cutting services and has few
viable options for finding more money to support or maintain those
services. The politically expedient answer — to minimize spending cuts
while shifting the revenue burden to external sources or to those least
likely to complain — avoids responsibility for paying the city's own
bills, does not provide a comprehensive solution to the District's
fiscal problems and will make next year's budget problems even more
intractable. But it will leave the voters fairly content.” Fuller
failed to acknowledge any inequities in the financial relationship
between DC and the feds or the regional powers that sustain unfair
policies that make DC less competitive.
Saving face: Native New-Yorker-turned-Washingtonian Gene Weingarten
wrote a memo “To: Frank Rich, World Famous Cultural Critic, the New
York Times” in Below the Beltway. He concluded, “Finally, I want
to note how it is impossible to escape one's past. Your essay betrays
some of your native Washington's least appealing rhetorical traits:
windiness, whininess and intellectual dishonesty serving knee-jerk,
hidebound forensics. At the same time, I admit that my essay betrays
some of my native New York's least appealing rhetorical traits -- in the
spirit of which, I hereby invite you to employ all the biting wit for
which you are justifiably famous, and bite me.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35845-2002Oct29.html.
Rich has made himself a new favorite target of Washingtonians — a good
distraction in trying times.
DC coin design: Bob Levey polled Washington Post readers for
suggestions for the back of the commemorative quarter for the District
of Columbia and published “best of the bunch” here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5381-2002Nov4.
Washington Post readers weren't more creative than Washington
Times readers. The most important factor associated with local DC
and its relationship to the world and nation is that it is the national
capital — that's hard to ignore. One idea for the DC coin would be a
simplified P. Charles L'Enfant Manuscript Plan of 1791, a well
recognized map design, with the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers forming the
“champagne glass” around Washington City. Maybe the history of DC or
something could be encapsulated in a microchip in the coin. Or, if we
want to get the nation's attention, we could embed radio frequency ID
chips and track where the coins go. The EU is going to do this, see: http://www.eetimes.com/story/OEG20011219S0016.
The Washington Post, Monday, November
Budd Lane, firstname.lastname@example.org
Except for the banner, there is no mention of the city on the front
page of the Metro Section. Except for a fluff piece by a fluff master,
in a small, very small, space at the bottom of the page, in small type,
we are informed that a detailed guide of tomorrow's elections appeared
in the previous Thursday's editions. This information is available on a
Metro, page 2. In a small box, lower left, we get the lottery number.
Metro, page 3. Small box, lower left, “The District,” five small
paragraphs about a building to reopen.
Metro, page 4. No city news.
Metro, page 5. Ditto.
Metro, pages 6 and 7. No one of note died here. Perhaps, to make the
Post, one must be shot or at least exit in some exotic fashion.
Now, I must ask, how dare the Washington Post endorse
candidates for offices it seems to have such little interest in. Perhaps
with the Post only the outcome is important. What a “home
town” paper. What a great service to this community.
Comparing General Elections
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
The most interesting thing about yesterday's general election in DC
is the voter turnout. Over the past three mayoral elections, the turnout
of registered voters has dropped dramatically. In 1994, with 361,890
registered voters, 186,316 ballots were cast, for a 51.5 percent
turnout. In 1998, out of 353,503 voters, 141,977 ballots were cast, for
a 40.2 percent turnout. But this year, voter turnout fell to
approximately 34.96 percent; with 363,211 registered voters, only
126,964 ballots were cast. In fairness, the 2002 count does not yet
include absentee ballots, which have not yet been counted. The Board of
Elections will certify final election returns on November 20.
In 1998 and 2002, the same Democratic and Republican candidates ran
for Mayor. Anthony Williams was a fresh face in electoral politics in
1998, but got 66 percent of the vote in the general election against
Carol Schwartz's 30 percent (92,504 to 42,280). In 2002, Williams had
all the power of incumbency and Schwartz entered the race reluctantly in
its last six weeks, but Williams's percentage of support fell to 60.59
percent and Schwartz's rose to 34.51 percent (76,074 to 43,327). Linda
Cropp's support fell only slightly; in 1998 she got 91 percent against
Joseph Romanow's 8 percent (117,938 to 9,784); in 2002 she got 88.4
percent against 10.86 percent for Statehood-Green party candidate Debby
Hanrahan (105,191 to 12,928). And support for both of the two winning
at-large councilmembers rose: Phil Mendelson got 37 percent in 1998 and
47.08 percent in 2002 (71,799 and 86,023); David Catania got 21 percent
in 1998 and 26.97 percent in 2002 (40,200 and 49,280). In 1998, the
third largest vote for an at-large councilmember candidate was 15
percent, or 28,615 votes, for Hilda Mason; in 2002, it was 9.16 percent,
or 16,755, for Eugene Kinlow. Further information on Tuesday's election
returns is available at the Board of Elections web site at http://www.dcboee.org/htmldocs/1105resu.htm.
Those Were the Days, My Friend
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
Republicans last controlled the Presidency, the Senate, and the House
of Representatives 48 years ago, from 1953-54, when DC was ruled by
three commissioners appointed by the President and was home to the
Washington Senators baseball team. A consumer survey conducted by the Washington
Star in 1951 reported that 90 percent of residents regularly
purchased white bread — 28.4 percent preferred Wonder Bread. Sixty
percent had an electric washing machine — 56 percent of which were
wringers, 17 percent spinners, and 27 percent fully automatic.
Fifty-five percent said they were renters, of whom 73 percent paid under
$75 in rent. Fifty percent said they owned a television, and 2 percent
had air conditioning. Dwight Eisenhower was President and he supported
Home Rule for DC. His appointed commissioner said the District, with its
increasing urban problems, was a mess to try to govern. Times were
changing. In 1953, Republican and Democratic clubs admitted African
American members and the DC Recreation Board opened its first
interracial outdoor swimming pool. In 1954, in Bolling v. Sharpe, the
Supreme Court held that racial segregation in the DC public schools was
a denial of due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. The political
establishment was ready and desegregated immediately, setting an example
for the nation.
That was a long time ago. But one thing hasn't changed: DC residents
are still more directly affected by the decisions of other Americans
than any other group in the nation, and it's all out of our control. We
still watch from the sidelines as citizens of states elect federal
officials to send to Washington to make national decisions and to decide
how to spend federal tax dollars. We speculate about how these officials
will impact our lives. And we try to guess who will be our next
overseers/masters on the Congressional committees, and what they might
do. We lost a moderate Republican friend in Rep. Connie Morella, but we
didn't gain a Democratic majority in the House to compensate — will
her replacement be as gentle? Will they hail from Virginia or Florida?
For the next two years, one thing is fairly certain: it will be harder
to remove nasty mandates and riders that members of Congress add to our
local budget. And forget about having Congress do anything about DC
voting rights, much less statehood (even President Clinton and the
Democratic Senate and House passed on that topic). Maybe DC can
negotiate another financial relationship with the federal government --
both The Washington Times and The Washington Post support
this. Maybe renegotiate DC's share of WMATA and WASA. Maybe. But we need
to set our sights on states and cities, to use this time to educate and
inform and press for a solution to our disenfranchised status in
preparation for when the Congressional makeup is move favorable.
Why I Voted for Williams
Rene Wallis, DC Primary Care Association, email@example.com
I have often thought of sending an E-mail on why I will vote for
Williams, but it seems like talking to the already saved. I deeply
respect your right to vote for Carol, but sometimes, as a Williams
supporter, it seems as though I would be considered stupid for
supporting Williams. Here's why I support him:
1) I had totally given up on the DC government during the Barry
years, and had completely checked out of the political process. I am
deeply engaged again. Williams has restored participatory democracy to
the city. 2) He had the political courage to close DC General, and get
rid of the PBC, which was a decision that has cost him a lot. Many
people still vehemently disagree with him on this decision. He believed
it was the right thing to do, and he did it, against all opposition. I
agreed with his decision, as sad, painful, and distressful as it was.
The PBC was a management nightmare that was completely unaccountable for
its action. Even criticizing the PBC was political suicide in DC. The
new system has problems, many problems, but at least I am free to
criticize it (and I do, frequently) which means there is hope. 3) My
house has increased more than $100,000 since Williams has been in
office. Right now, that is my single biggest retirement security, and
while I am deeply concerned about affordable housing, I would be a liar
not to acknowledge the personal security provided by my house's
increasing value. 4) The swimming pool where I take my neighbor kids,
the Harry Thomas Rec Center, was cleaned up. It is a pleasure and a
delight to go there. 5) My alley is cleaner. 6) Williams expanded health
care insurance to immigrant children, adults ages 50-64, and people
infected with HIV/AIDS, three very vulnerable communities. 7) I can get
information (yeah, with some serious work still) from the William's
administration. 8) I believe that my time and effort as a political
reformer are going to make a difference.
This is too late for the actual election, I know, but at least
perhaps you will understand why some of us, while acknowledging Williams
has had ethical lapses, made mistakes, has chosen some poor agency
leaders, honor what he has achieved.
Election Day Thoughts
Matt Carter, Glover Park, firstname.lastname@example.org
First off, I checked the DCBOEE web site Monday night to see when
polls opened, and found it to be a complete joke. The site was very
difficult to navigate, and much of the information was very out of date
(instructions on voting used the old punch card ballot, for example) and
the seemingly basic piece of information I needed (polling hours) was
nowhere to be found.
So this morning I went to my brand new polling place, which has been
moved from the community center to the International Union of Operating
Engineers. Now, I realize this is an overwhelmingly Democratic town, and
I vote either statehood or democratic, but I can't help but wonder how
my neighborhood's Republicans feel about voting at a union. The
line/process didn't seem any better or worse than it was at the Guy
Mason rec center, so I'm not sure what the purpose of the move was.
Also, at least for Precinct 11, the secret ballot seems to have
disappeared. Everyone was handed one of the new stage prop sized ballots
and nothing to hold it in, so the walk from the voting cubicle to the
ballot box was done with a marked up ballot for all to see. I'd blame it
on the strange hugeness of the ballot, but we were given folders to hold
them in for the primary election. At least the folks running the
election taped off a perimeter around the ballot box so you couldn't
stare over a voter's shoulder while they were putting their ballot in
the box. I only hope that somebody screwed up and there were not ballot
folders at my precinct this morning, and that this isn't the new
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net
This was my first time using the new voting system — since I'm
registered as an independent, I didn't vote in the primary. Overall it
seemed to work well. The ballots are easy to understand, the poll
workers were helpful as always (how about a round of thanks for those
who do this work on election day!). The only snag was that the machine
at my polling place (Metropolitan Baptist Church in Logan Circle) wasn't
working; I dropped my ballot into a slot in what looked like the base of
There were some concerns during the primary about poll workers seeing
peoples' ballots; the poll worker this morning made a point of having me
drop the ballot in while she was behind the machine, so she couldn't see
it. Now to just wait for the results.
I related to the story about absentee ballots in the most recent
issue of themail. The DC Board of Elections has done much to discourage
my now 21-year-old daughter from exercising her civic responsibility.
When a child turns 15 1/2, most teens beg, plead, etc., with their
parent to get their learner's permit. My experience was different. My
daughter couldn't wait until she was 18 and could vote. It has taken
three years for her to her registration card, despite numerous requests.
(She recently received a second card in the mail, I suspect in response
to a long ago request that is just being reviewed.) As of yesterday, she
still had not received her absentee ballot at her mailing address in
Rhode Island where she is attending college.
As a result of the BOEE's inefficiency, she missed voting in her
first presidential election, one where she was prepared to fly home to
cast her vote because she was so excited. She's missed the other
elections in the city, including this year's. It's hard to encourage
young adults to get involved when those who have the responsibility to
don't live up to it. For the past eleven years, she's carefully planned
how to run for public office and give back to others. Now she is
disillusioned. Thank you very much BOEE. It's unfortunate that no one
looked at how the BOEE operated in addition to the Williams campaign
ballot petitions. It is getting harder and harder to explain adult
behavior these days!
E. James Lieberman, email@example.com
I expected to be away from DC on Nov. 5 so requested an absentee
ballot on the Internet. It came after about ten days, on about November
1. I learned only then that being a “senior” justifies getting an
absentee ballot; you don't have to be away or sick.
The ballot is printed on light cardboard, and must be mailed back in
two envelopes. The outer one has a reminder that it requires first class
postage. My scale suggested it was just over an ounce; at the post
office that was confirmed: .37 + .23 = .60. I wonder how many folks are
going to get their ballots returned for extra postage. And I wonder why
it was necessary to print them on such heavy stock.
Like Jonathan Tannenwald, I became anxious when November began and I
hadn't received the absentee ballot I had requested. Finally, on the
Saturday before the election, I discovered in my box a piece of Official
Election Mail postmarked October 25. My guess is that it was bogged down
in the college mailroom for a couple of days, but now my ballot is on
its way back to Washington, where I can only hope it will be counted and
then discarded into an appropriate recycling bin.
Ed T. Barron rhetorically asks, “Is there a major city in the world
where the subway system shuts down at midnight?” Well, let's see.
Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Paris, Moscow, Rome, Toronto, Osaka, Madrid,
Buenos Aires, Taipei — should I go on? In fact, nearly all the world's
urban rail transit systems close for the night sometime between midnight
and 1 a.m. Metro's 2 a.m. closing on Friday and Saturday is a boon that
many city-dwellers around the globe might envy.
As for Barron's notion that a city must have a 24-hour subway system
to qualify for a major-league baseball team, that would contract the
majors to three cities: New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Until
recently, “major league” Baltimore didn't even have a
seven-day-a-week service on its one rapid-rail line. Sunday service
began on Sept. 2, 2001.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Help the Children of the World, November 9
Vivian Henderson, VHende1886@aol.com
Join the Women's International Religious Fellowship at their annual
bazaar, Saturday, November 9 in the Fellowship Hall of Nineteenth Street
Baptist Church, 4606 16th Street, NW, to purchase around the world
items, view entertainment, and purchase around the world foods.
Donations of $2.00 per person accepted at the door. For more
information, call 882-5914.
The District is firmly committed to ensuring meaningful community
involvement in its redevelopment efforts. To this end, the Brownfields
Program has partnered with the Brownfields Redevelopment Action Team
(BRAT) to provide a quarterly forum for the discussion and coordination
of brownfields redevelopment in the District and in the region. The BRAT
is a true public-private partnership that brings CDCs, civic
associations, developers, policy makers, community activists,
environmentalists, and scholars together to collaborate on efforts to
revitalize the District's land resources. The next BRAT meeting is
scheduled for November 12, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., 825 N. Capitol Street, NE,
4th Floor. Issues on the agenda are brownfield tax incentives, loans for
clean up, site assessments application, and the brownfields job training
and development program. If you plan to attend this meeting or have any
questions, please contact Jacque Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meyer Elementary School, located at 2501 11th Street, NW, will be
holding their first-ever Meyer Flea Market on Saturday, November 16.
Furniture, clothing, books, dishes, and other household items will be on
sale from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The proceeds from this sale will be
used to support programs for the children at Meyer School. Any unsold
items will be donated to the Salvation Army for other families in need
during the holidays. Donations for the sale are welcome between now and
November 15. Please contact Betsy Scotto-Lavino at 673-7259 with any
Jane Austen for Dinner, November 19
Pat Bitondo, email@example.com
Mary McGrory and Linda Wertheimer, extraordinary and distinguished
individuals in their respective fields, will be guests at The Woman's
National Democratic Club on Tuesday, November 19, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
The cost is $19.50. This is a tax-deductible event with proceeds going
to assist with a project at Neval Thomas School. McGrory, a syndicated
columnist, and Wertheimer, Senior National Correspondent for National
Public Radio, will take us far from the world of news to share their
interest and devotion to a woman of another time, Jane Austen.
In 1975, Mary McGrory received the Pulitzer prize for "trenchant
commentary" spread over more than twenty years as a reporter and
columnist in the Nation's capitol. She received the Franklin D.
Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award for freedom of speech in 1995 and the
Fourth Estate Award in 1998 from the National Press Club. In 2001, the
Washington Post gave her its highest honor, the Eugene Meyer Award.
Linda Wertheimer joined National Public Radio at its inception and
served as the first director of All Things Considered, beginning in
1971. If you would like to join other Jane Austen Society fans as well
as just Jane Austen lovers, make your reservation; call Pat Fitzgerald
at 232-7363. The Club House is located at 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW,
at Dupont Circle Metro.
CLASSIFIEDS — WANTED
I'm looking for a used alto saxophone in reasonable shape for an 11
year old. Please call or E-mail Helen at 625-6381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Delbe Home Services
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net
A few months ago, someone from themail recommended Delbe Home
Services to me for handyman-type work. I can't find the E-mail and I
can't remember who it was! Can you drop me a line? I'd like to let them
know you referred me.
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