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November 13, 2002

It’s Late and It’s Long

Dear Writers:

This is one of those long issues that squeeze me out. I'll rant next time.

Gary Imhoff


Today’s Events
Dorothy Brizill,

Today, Councilmember Harold Brazil unveiled his “Economic Development Action Agenda: A Road Map for Strong and Sensible Economic Development in the District of Columbia” ( According to Brazil, “This Action Agenda will be the foundation for my leadership on the DC Council, and as Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development, over the next two years.” The agenda was developed by a 51-member advisory committee appointed by Brazil and composed of the usual suspects who have developed the city's past economic plans. The advisory committee was co-chaired by Alice Rivlin, most lately Chair of the Control Board, and Merrick Malone, who is forbidden by his agreement with the US Office of the Special Counsel from ever again working for the DC government because of illegal political fundraising. The agenda was released today at George Washington University (which, according to Brazil's staff, underwrote most of the conference's expenses) before an invited audience of approximately 150 business executives, attorneys, and university officials. No community, neighborhood, or civic association members or representatives were present today, just as none was on the advisory committee. Now that the agenda has been finalized, District residents will be given an opportunity to comment on it.

Today, also, there was a hearing in DC's Superior Court on Mayor Williams's motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to enjoin the Board of Elections from certifying the vote on Initiative Measure No. 62, Treatment Instead of Jail for Certain Non-Violent Drug Offenders, which passed by a vote of 78 percent to 22 percent on November 5. Mayor Williams, through the Corporation Council, is arguing that the initiative was not a proper subject for an initiative measure under District law, and that it should never have been accepted by the Board of Elections and Ethics to be placed on the ballot. As the American Civil Liberties Union noted in its amicus brief, “Absent certification of the results, the election might as well not have happened; the ballots cast by the registered voters of the District of Columbia might as well have been dumped down the sewer.” The ACLU pointed out that the Board of Elections held a hearing last spring on the appropriateness of this initiative measure, that Mayor Williams raised no objection then, and that, as a result, “plaintiff should not now be permitted to inject its challenge in between the casting of ballots and the certification of votes.” Mayor Williams's effort to prevent certification of the vote tally now is reminiscent of Rep. Bob Barr's attempt to forbid the District to certify the vote on the Medical Marijuana Initiative. Initiative 62 may very well not be a wise or practical law; it may be worse than the system of drug courts that the District has now; but the District's voters voted for it overwhelmingly, and neither Mayor Williams nor any other political leader in the District took a strong stand against it or campaigned to defeat it. To take this course now only further undermines the viability of the District's initiative and referendum system. The Court hearing scheduled for today was cancelled when Judge Mary Terrell recused herself from the case (Superior Court C.A. No. 8229-02); it will be rescheduled before Judge Clarke.


MLK Library
Matthew Kessler,

Does anyone know when the Art/Biography section (Room 207) is going to open back up at MLK and/or why it is closed? It has been closed since at least Tuesday of last week. When I ask at the library no one seems to know what is going on. Also, why was it necessary to shut down the entire Technology/Science section on the first floor for the construction going on? Couldn't the library open the section limited hours during construction rather than closing it completely until November 28? I know that there are other libraries in the city, but most of the materials I need is only available at MLK. Given the limits to the DC Public library system already (it desperately needs funding for some major updating), the decision to close down these sections only makes it more limiting and useless for residents of DC.


Boundary Marker
John Cleave,

At the DC/Maryland Boundary at Wisconsin and Western Avenues, NW, there are two stone markers marked on one side Maryland and on the other District of Columbia. The DC side has a sort of coat of arms which portrays the Capitol but is not a current official coat of arms. Which suggests the markers are pre-1928 (when I believe Washington's coat of arms was adopted), and my guess would be that they are much older.

Have readers any knowledge of their history, who put them there and when, and what the coat of arms is?


Tenleytown Historic Resource Survey
Mary Alice Levine,

The Tenleytown Historical Society is pleased to announce the receipt of a grant from the DC Office of Historic Preservation for the purpose of conducting a “Tenleytown Historic Resource Survey.” This survey will be an in-depth study of the Tenleytown area, and will provide a comprehensive understanding and documentation of the area’s architectural, social and cultural history. It will include building permit data, census research, oral history and research into the cultural and architectural origins of Tenleytown in concert with the Office of Planning’s Small Area Plan for Tenleytown. The survey area is centered on Tenley Circle and extends along Wisconsin Avenue to Upton Street on the south and Chesapeake Street on the north, Reno Road on the east and 43rd Street on the west.

The survey is expected to take about a year, and will result in a written report. The Tenleytown Historical Society will work with Kelsey & Associates, the DC Historic Preservation Office, ANC 3E and ANC 3F, as well as community organizations. Volunteers will be needed to help with the project. Research training will be provided. Volunteers will be asked to attend at least one training session and to commit a minimum of ten hours to the project. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at An introductory meeting for the project is planned; date to be announced.


George Allen’s Truth
Tim Cline, Columbia Heights,

It is amazing how truth shows up in the most unexpected places. In an article by Brian Krebs in the Post on Wednesday, November 13, 2002; Page E05 “States, DC Support Plan for Online Sales Taxes” (, Sen. George Allen of Virginia comes out in favor of abolishing Federal income tax for DC citizens. At least that is the way his quote sounds. He is talking about his opposition to the Internet sales tax, but read the last half of his quote and change “state” to “Capital City.”

Here is the quote from Krebs' story: “'If the states want to come up with their own simplification schemes, that's fine,' said Allen, chairman of the Senate Republican High Tech Task Force. 'But that still doesn't make it right to require someone who has no representation in your state to pay taxes there.'” Well said, Senator. Let's make that the law of the land.


The Perfect Storm is (Hopefully) Not in DC
Mark David Richards, Dupont East,

Now I know what was wrong with Frank Rich's story pitting NYC against DC. He compared NYC to the wrong city! He should have compared NYC with its real competition — Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow. Over the weekend on the Island of Manhattan, I saw numerous articles and stories in which NYC was referred to as the world capital. NYC is home to the United Nations which, one writer said, generates directly and indirectly somewhere around 31,000 jobs and more than $3 billion a year in economic activity. I visited the City Museum of New York and a video said that 60 percent of NYC residents are from nations other than the US. Could that be true? Whatever the story, NYC has a big budget. According to NY City's Independent Budget Office,, NY City's budget is more than $40 billion — larger than all but a handful of states. The money is derived from Federal (12 percent) and state (19 percent) categorical grants/aid, 31 percent (higher than DC); property tax, 20 percent; personal income tax, 14 percent; general sales tax, 9 percent; business income tax, 7 percent; real estate-related taxes, 3 percent; other taxes, 3 percent; other nontax revenues, 13 percent. Education consumes 29 percent of the budget, social services 22 percent. In 2000, NYC had over $39 billion in debt outstanding, about $4,910 per resident.

I appreciated the wide selection of newspapers that cover NYC issues. (Increasingly, I'm feeling that The Washington Post should be renamed The Maryland Post or The Suburban Post.) The big issue is about what has been dubbed “The Perfect Storm” by Abraham D. Lackman (R), a 24-year government veteran who recently retired. NYC is apparently facing a budget crisis unlike anything they've seen since the mid-1970's — and so is the state, the counties, and mass transit. Lackman predicts a state budget revenue shortfall of $8 to $10 billion next year. Mayor Bloomberg predicts NYC's budget deficit next year at $6 billion and a tax hike is probably inevitable. “The good news is that everybody else is in trouble,” Bloomberg said. NYC is looking to boost revenues by charging for parking meters on Sunday and raising property taxes by 25 percent, an average of $475 per homeowner. All 51 Council members are up for reelection next year. Meanwhile, MTA may raise public transport fares to $2 per ride to fill a $663 million budget gap. Mayor Bloomberg is lobbying hard for the 2004 Democratic and Republican Party Conventions, as well as federal support for added costs related to homeland security that is a federal responsibility and that is taking resources from the NY police department. Here is one article:,0,4823413.story?coll=ny-ap-regional-wire.


Street Cleaning Schedule
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

Does anyone know when street cleaning is suspended for the winter? I can't find anything about it on the city web site.


Complaining about Cable
Stan Wellborn,

Cable subscribers who lose service should report these instances to the DC Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, which closely monitors performance by Comcast and Starpower and will enforce service regulations for consumers. You can reach the office through its web site: You may be entitled to a refund of a portion of your cable fees if you experience significant interruptions.

I might also suggest that you investigate Starpower, which has very user-friendly customer service and very few service outages, or one of the satellite dish-based program providers.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee to OCTT. In my experience, I have found the OCTT staff to be among the most professionally competent and dedicated folks in DC government — or any other government.


Comcast Is Useless, Part 2
Bob Levine,

Yep, Sunday night and no cable and no explanation. No movement at all to give service or do anything except take my money for doing nothing. What is this company in business for?


Vehicle Inspection
Ralph Blessing,

Last Friday I went to the inspection station at 5:30 p.m. so that my 1986 Toyota could get the once over. I was half expecting to be turned away for getting there so late in the day, but, lo and behold, I was waved right into an empty lane, inspected (passed!) and was back on the road in less than ten minutes. The only downside of the visit was that I was waved into the lane that was clearly marked “Senior Citizens.” Must have been the only empty lane.


Klingle for Everyone
Marie Nelson, Cleveland Park,

Mr. McKay misses the forest for the trees on Klingle Road. Since when did we decide to repair a road only to improve transportation? Since when did we decide to repair our roads based on the number of cars that use them? There are hundreds of roads in this city that carry less travelers than Klingle Road did, and we're not closing them, nor are we neglecting their repairs based on the fact that it will not improve transportation. DDOT is responsible to maintain our transportation infrastructure for all District residents and visitors by ensuring that people and goods move efficiently and safely. We fix and repair roads because they need them. We don't want Klingle repaired for commuters, we want Klingle repaired for everyone.


Klingle — Reply to McKay
Juan Mendez,

I am glad to hear Mr. McKay wants Klingle to remain open; however his suggestion of a one-lane road going different directions at certain hours, and closed on weekends serves no purpose to DC residents. Mr. McCay's proposal turns Klingle Road into a commuter route — being used by only commuters and excluding the enjoyment to everyone else. And, while there is no data available that there is a need for a bike path, there already exist two paths on either side of the road that are being used as hike bike paths. The National Park Service should be maintaining these existing paths, and, once the road is repaired, the Department of Transportation should make a bike stripe like they do on other roads. We should not be turning our roads into bike paths nor commuter routes.


Leadership on the Klingle Road Issue?
Paul McKenzie,

Thanks to Jack McKay for his themail posting on the Klingle Road issue. It is nice to see he wants the road open too; however, it is not just for commuters, it is a road for all of us. Positive leadership on dealing with this issue has been almost nonexistent in the city since this controversy began in the Marion Barry administration. This lack of leadership has increasingly left many people in our city, again, disenfranchised. These people are not the ones invited to posh parties in homes which are adjacent to Rock Creek. Larger communities in Wards 4, 1, and 2 are also adversely affected by moves to close this 100-year-old public road. Leadership has a responsibility to represent all the people not just the wealthy and well-connected.

It is inevitable that Klingle Road will be repaired and reopened to all our citizens as a public road (with sidewalks or bike strip). The relatively few individuals who want the public road closed do not have the issues on their side. Whether it is the environment, fairness of closing a public road, or economic value to the community, their arguments do not hold water and have not passed the test of time. If this were not so, Klingle Road would have long ago been permanently closed. But there are many leaders in the city who have seen the risk of losing this important road across town. That is why they have not allowed it to happen in the past, and in the future they will continue to be protectors of the greater good for all the citizens of Washington.


Klingle Road Compromise
Taylor Simmons,

I like Jack McKay's proposed compromise for Klingle Road. I look forward to biking along Klingle Road to get to the bike path on weekends, and I look forward to driving to Beach Drive during the week — without ever having to cross Connecticut Avenue.

Attention (formerly) ill-tempered disputants: please consider embracing this logical compromise. For far too long, the road has been of no practical use to anyone.


Klingle Valley Parkway
Peter F. McGee, Mt. Pleasant,

Turning Klingle Valley Parkway into a one-way commuter route would do little justice to our historic parkway, which has served us well for over a century. Besides, there is no cause to cut the baby in half. Those who want Klingle Valley Parkway returned are not commuters, but local residents who used the road in our daily lives to go to school, get supplies, partake in services, visit friends, dine out, do shopping, attend meetings, as well as walk and ride bikes. More importantly, limiting Klingle to rush hour commutes would compromise public safety, as urged by our ambulance companies that want a two-way road open 24/7 to improve emergency response.

Also, the Berger Study shows that a one-way road would not help traffic on surrounding roads as much as a two-way road, and additional intersection approaches must be built to make up for the loss of Klingle. Besides, no study shows that an exclusive bike path through Klingle valley is particularly necessary. Certainly we could find a more accessible site for the city's first multi-million dollar bicycle facility. Klingle Valley Parkway once again can be a vital transportation resource, and recreational opportunities can be improved, without compromise. DDOT's 1991 federally-approved plan rebuilds Klingle to its original alignment, and provides the missing storm water drainage system that will protect the tiny Klingle stream. Several long-standing pathways in the valley can be enhanced. Further improvements might include a bike stripe, and/or a sidewalk along the roadway. Detailed solutions could be worked out in a charrette. We also should protect Klingle Valley Parkway's visual surroundings. As Kent Slowinski of the Casey Mansion Foundation pointed out in last week's Northwest Current, the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the National Capital Planning Commission recognizes that spaces along Klingle Valley Parkway, and other similar parkways, should be maintained as green background to our daily lives, to prevent border development. Protecting the green space that landscapes Klingle Valley Parkway was an original part of NCPC's century-old mission, yet development in the watershed continues (e.g., the current Kennedy-Warren expansion). The valley suffers from rampant neglect, exacerbated by detonating road conditions, and desperately needs attention and care.

Further, a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian study is needed to improve access to and through Rock Creek Park. Armed with such a plan, we can take a sensible approach to improving quality of life, and avoid the ad hoc and unnecessary sacrifice of public safety and public roads.


Klingle Road
Jack McKay,

In the November 10 themail, Laurie Collins writes that the American Lung Association of DC "has reviewed the MCV Associates' transportation and environmental cost benefit analysis and assessment and finds it to be a 'credible report,' and are concerned by its findings that closing Klingle Road leads to significant increase in toxic emissions." Well, one wouldn't expect Lung Association folk to be traffic engineers, so it's not surprising that they were fooled by a totally invalid analysis.

The Berger Group used a computer model of intersections to calculate that eastbound Porter Street drivers, at Connecticut Avenue, are now idling in a backup for over 15 minutes to clear the intersection. The computer model says further that reducing Porter Street traffic by 20 percent, by opening Klingle, would cut this wait time to less than 5 minutes. That 10-minute difference is the foundation of the benefits predicted by MCV. MCV further assumed that the Porter Street 15-minute backup would prevail for a solid six hours every day. Well, you don't have to be a trained traffic engineer to observe that in fact there are no such awful backups and delays on Porter Street today, with Klingle closed, and therefore these calculated benefits of opening Klingle Road are mythical.

In general, these computer models work badly when the traffic exceeds the nominal capacity of the intersection. As Dan Tangherlini, director of DDOT wrote, “If an intersection significantly exceeds its design capacity (i.e., more cars going through the intersection than it was designed for), standard computer models generate meaningless wait-times.” The Berger Group knew that their own computer results for these conditions were meaningless, and ignored them, concluding that “reopening Klingle Road would produce negligible beneficial improvements to traffic congestion or safety at surrounding intersections.” That is the correct analysis — not the cost-benefit nonsense, based on a meaningless computer calculation, put forth by MCV Associates. The Lung Association should be embarrassed by, and MCV Associates ashamed of, their endorsement of a computer calculation that every traffic engineer will recognize as meaningless. The benefit of opening Klingle Road is simple: reduced travel time for those who use it. On that basis, I am now on the record (themail, November 10) in support of a limited opening of the road. I reject, however, any attempt to promote reopening of the road based on an obviously invalid computer calculation.


Incorrect ANC Ballots
Arthur Jackson,

On Tuesday November 5, thousands of District Voters were given wrong ballots for ANC SMD seats. For example voters residing in The Wingates Complex (where hundreds of families are on rent strike, and attempting to buy the complex) were given ballots for another SMD in another part of town. Wingates is a high rise building located in 8D05, represented by activist Robin D. Ijames, who is chairperson of ANC 8D. Residents were given ballots for ANC 8D04. In the November 10 edition of themail, DC voters complained that they were given incorrect ballots. If this is true, there could have been widespread abuse of voting for ANC's on Tuesday November 5. Any DC voter claiming to have received the wrong ballots for ANC Districts should contact my office as soon as possible to prepare a affidavit to file with the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. Also contact Councilmember David Catania's Office (727-1000) and request a formal investigation into the Board of Election's polling site staff's issuing of wrong ballots in the elections.

When I arrived to vote at my voting poll on November 5, the election clerk handed me a ballot for ANC SMD 8D04. I complained that I resided in 8D05, and then the clerk went to the back and opened a package of 8D05 ballots and handed me two. I complained that he gave me two ballots, and handed him one back. Witness was Chief Clerk, Ms. Clementine Smith. Later that evening, I received a call from Melonie Bryant, a resident of Wingates, stating she did nor see the incumbent for ANC 8D05's name on her ballot, and when she questioned the election clerk, the election clerk said, “Just write in Robin D. Ijames on the write-in section of the 8D04 Ballot, and the board would count it for Robin D. Ijames.” However, when Commissioner Ijames called the Election's Board Legal Counsel Office to verify this statement, the legal Counsel Office denied it.

We must call for an investigation into the ANC elections process of Tuesday, November 5, and request the following: 1) open hearings for voters given wrong ballots to vote in ANC Districts by the Board of Elections and its staff. 2) Hearings by Councilmembers Catania, Mendelson, and Allen to address widespread problems with voters given incorrect ballots for ANC Districts. 3) A temporary freeze on validating election results of ANC elections where voters were given incorrect ballots, until the hearings are held and complaints are heard. To register your complaint call Arthur Jackson, Jr., 271-5522.


Board of Elections
John Whiteside, johnwhiteside at earthlink dot net

Here's another example of Board of Elections incompetence: their web site. Here in one of the most wired cities in America, that site should be an important tool for voters. Pop over to and you're confronted with a disorganized mess. From the light-blue on gray text that you can barely read to the maps link that tells you there are no maps because of redistricting, to the search function that produces an error page telling you that the requested page does not exist, it's an incredible mess. Considering how good the city's web site is, it's rather strange.

Speaking of government web sites, I went to the ANC 2F site to find out when the next meeting is. The site helpfully tells visitors that it's on March 7, 2001. Hey, it's only been a year and a half, I guess they've been a little busy.


Dominic Sale,

Based on my own experience, in addition to the many others who have contributed in this forum, it is obvious that poor planning and gross incompetence reigned at the DC Board of Elections and Ethics this election season. Mr. Williams, you have only one choice, and that is to fire Alice Miller. It's time that the example is set that your managers are accountable for their performance, and that DC government is accountable to us, the taxpayers. Don't worry about it being viewed as retribution for your fines however, as I'm sure you'll have plenty of citizens who will stand up and testify as to the non-responsiveness and poor performance of the Board. I'll be the first in line.


Nigerian Scam — The Fun Approach
Dan Parker,

Clare Feinson's comments on the Nigerian Scam reminded me of a correspondence I read. I google'd a different one ( but remember loving the fact that someone had more time than me to begin negotiations with the scammers and get the percentage returns up.



Send a Kid to the Movies, November 16
Lois M. Kirkpatrick,

The Fairfax County Public Library invites you to see the brand-new Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 16, at the Lee Highway Multiplex in Fairfax. Tickets are $20 each and will benefit the Library's Reach Out & Read partnership with Inova. Limit of four tickets per family. To order your own tickets, or to give a disadvantaged child the gift of a Harry Potter screening, call 703-204-3379, or e-mail Jeanne Bridgeman at at Inova.


Board Seeks Community Input, November 26
Elena Temple,

The District of Columbia Board of Education will hold a public hearing on school system's FY 2004-2009 Capital Budget. The Capital Budget, not to be confused with the operating budget, governs school construction. The FY '04 Capital Budget was funded by the city at $168 million, but $313 million is needed to keep school construction on schedule with the Master Facilities Plan put forth by the Board in 2001. Board members want to hear from parents, students and other community members as they make decisions regarding the school system's facilities program.

The hearing will be on November 26, at 6:00 p.m., in the 5th Floor Board Room, 825 North Capitol Street, NE. More information regarding the FY '04 Capital Budget will be posted to the Board's web site at (click on the Board of Education button). To testify, contact Elena Temple at 442.5190.



Bolshoi Tickets
Joan Eisenstodt,

A colleague is desperate to find tickets for the Bolshoi. If you have some you want to sell, contact her (Ellen Toups) at


Upgrading Your Computer?
Kathleen McLynn,

A senior citizen returning to school at UDC seeks an Internet capable computer for her college work. Call Bernice McCallum on 726-5856 (with Mt. Rona Baptist Church).



Tuck Pointing
Dave De Seve,

Brick tuck pointing referral. Anyone who does or knows someone who does quality tuck point work on historic homes (I have thin black mortar), please send me their name and contact information. Dave De Seve,, 462-7632.


Buying a DC Flag
Laurie Collins,

You can buy a DC Flag at Union Station. There is a flag store of sorts in the main hall area.


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