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November 24, 2002

Tempers Are Flaring

Dear Travelers:

Nothing else raises the tempers of themail correspondents as much as the Klingle Road debate. But I'm calling yet another temporary ceasefire because, after a round of exchanges with relatively new information or viewpoints, we're back to generating more heat than light on the issue. For the Thanksgiving issue, let's take the high road, instead. Or the road less traveled. Or the yellow brick road. Any other road.

Gary Imhoff


Timing Is Everything
Ed T. Barron,

As in life, sex, and hand grenades, timing is everything. Just think what might have been the results in the Mayoral Election if the story about the financing problems with the District's Health Care program had broken just before the election on 5 November. We might have had a different Mayor in January.


Police Service
Richard Urban,

I called 311 on Tuesday, November 19, around 2:30 p.m. to report suspicious/drug related activity in my neighborhood. First I had to wait on hold for about five minutes. Then the dispatcher, number 5560, asked me what the suspicious individuals were doing, and how I know that they were doing anything illegal. She informed me that here in the city people stand around, and that is not illegal. It seemed like I had done something wrong by calling in.

I did then speak to Supervisor Rodriguez, who assured me that I should call in if something seems suspicious. I have called other times and had a similar response, like you are on trial for calling in. I have also had experiences like reporting something suspicious, and then having the officer bang on my door. (Nothing like letting people know who's complaining.) I have seen little or no improvement in police service in my neighborhood over the past eleven years that I have lived here (North Lincoln Park, 5th District). Patrols of any kind are infrequent, and the overall service is poor.


Mark Richards, Dupont East,

David Sobelsohn pointed out an inaccuracy in my posting in the last issue of themail (“Texas Senator May Deny US Coin Collectors Washington, DC Addition”), and noted that Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) will soon be retired from the Senate, so it will be futile to focus on him. In my missive, I wrote, “DC has been a part of this Union for as long as the 13 colonies” — which was a sloppy shortcut to make the point that DC should be included in the coin program because it is an integral unit and part of the federal system, even though it is not a state.

It would have been more accurate to say that the people living on the land which is today DC have been loyal Americans from the beginning. They were a part of the Revolution and the formation of the Union in 1776. The decision to have a permanent seat of government was not finalized until the 1787 Constitution was approved in 1788 and the federal system was thus established. The Constitution did not specify the location of the permanent seat of government. Congress passed The Residence Act in July 1790, establishing the location within certain parameters and giving the President the right to appoint three commissioners to oversee development. In March 1791, George Washington signed a land agreement with 19 subscribers in the area that became Washington City and issued a Proclamation directing the commissioners about where to run the boundary lines — thus creating the diamond shape. So, DC as a geographic entity has existed within the Union for 15 years less than the original states. The federal government didn't actually move to Washington City until December 1800, as specified in The Residence Act of 1790.


Strong Teachers' Grassroots Movement
Nathan A. Saunders,

The Washington Teachers Union is a union where the elected paid executives have absconded as the subpoenas are delivered concerning financial improprieties. The recent revelations are the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Presently, WTU is leaderless, rudderless, and without the character or capacity to be of service to classroom teachers. The Strong Teachers’ Grassroots Movement is centered on reinvigorating union membership to activism. Tomorrow, a teacher will need advocacy services and be at a disadvantage as a result of his or her affiliation with WTU in its present state. As an organizer, classroom teacher, and a union member, I know quality education services are diminished when teachers are frustrated and feeling defenseless. This grassroots movement is designed to be teacher-focused.

[This paragraph is excerpted from the organizing statement of the “Strong Teachers' Grassroots Movement,” which is available at — Gary Imhoff]


Campaign Posters
Ralph Blessing,

The election was nearly three weeks ago, but still many campaign posters remain in our neighborhoods. At one intersection (Piney Branch and Blair Rd.) that I passed on my way to the metro this morning, I spotted signs for Phil Mendelson, Ray Browne and Pat Kidd, as well as Maryland candidate Schade. Nearby there are still posters for Beverly Wilbourn and Dwight Singleton from the September primary.

How much longer do we have to wait for this blight to be cleaned up? And isn't there a better way to deal with this problem rather than having individual citizens pick up after candidates following each election. Many jurisdictions simply ban campaign posters on public property. (I think that's the case in Montgomery County, though clearly some candidates there have no qualms about polluting DC.) Other locales require candidates to post a cleanup deposit when registering their candidacy. Wouldn't it be nice if DC adopted a similar strategy?


Paying Tickets Online
James Treworgy,

While Paul Shapiro's irony is duly noted, it is about time that credit be given where credit is due. The much-maligned new DMV computer system has saved me at least two trips to the motor vehicle office, and it's hard to overestimate the value of that. First, I ordered a replacement registration online after I accidentally tore mine in half. It arrived within a week. Not a week later, I lost my driver's license after a trip involving air travel (you know, you have to show it so many times you leave it in your front pocket, and next thing you know it's gone). I was sure I was doomed to a trip to DMV. Not so. I ordered a replacement online for the princely sum of $5.00 and it arrived, again, within a week.


Re: The Mayor’s Wheels
Ken Nellis, nellisks(at)aol(dot)com

John Whiteside takes, IMHO, an unfair stab at the mayor's driving habits, comparing his driving around in a “shameful” Lincoln Navigator to those of “single occupants” driving with “a unique spectacle of aggression and poor driving skills.” Clearly, the mayor has a profession driver doing his driving and is most probably accompanied by a bodyguard and guns and extra communications equipment and other mayoral baggage. While I sympathize with Mr. Whiteside in general regarding SUVs, I think the mayor deserves a break from this charge.


High Mileage, Low Pollution
E. James Lieberman,

The mayor might well set an example by trading his gas guzzler for a hybrid — the Toyota Prius or Honda Civic. He could do more by putting DC in the company of Maryland, California, and a dozen other states that exempt these cars from state tax. That amounts to over $1,000 on the $21,000 Prius, but the gesture would not add greatly to our economic woes and might get a few more green cars on the road where we need them most.


Parking Alert
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

No, this is not a warning that will save you a parking ticket. This one just might keep your car from self-immolating. At this time of the year many folks rake leaves into mounds on the street near the curb for pickup by the DC trash folks. If you should happen to park atop one of these mounds your car's catalytic converter (which gets incredibly hot) might just set the pile of leaves under the car on fire and leave you with molten wheels.


Klingle Road “Shortcut”
Ralph Blessing,

Gee, if Klingle Road deserves to remain closed because it's just a “shortcut” through Rock Creek Park, then I guess Porter Street, Military Road, and a few others need to be shut down too. After all, each one of them is nothing but a “shortcut” through the park.


Traffic Maps, East/West and Klingle Road Again
Gabe Fineman, Porter Street,

About six weeks ago I wrote the webmaster for the DC web site and suggested that they put the traffic volume maps on the Department of Transportation web page. To my surprise, this has been done (see and we now have another resource when planning about our neighborhoods. These traffic volume maps are created by using automated counters on key streets and are updated on a three year basis. These are the 2000 maps that replace the 1997 map I had been using (see to comment on issues in my Cleveland Park neighborhood like Porter Street and Klingle Road. I wish I could have complete confidence in the new maps, but I do not.

The 1997 map had obvious errors in the Cleveland Park part, where I could compare it to the 1997 map. For example the stretch of Macomb Street between Connecticut and 34th showed 8,000 cars per day at the Connecticut end and 3,300 cars per day at the 34th Street end with only one, minor, lightly used T street as a possible exit for these 4,700 cars. This was not fixed in the new map and implies that no new counts were taken on Macomb. In fact, most of the numbers did not change at all while we all intuitively know that traffic increased during that three year period. The traffic counts on Connecticut went up about 12 percent, while no changes were shown in the many measurements recorded for Wisconsin and 34th or even Calvert. I would assume that all traffic increased by the same 12 percent. The only streets that appear to have been measured besides Connecticut were Porter Street, Tilden Street, and Park Road. They all showed sharp decreases due to the reconstruction of Porter in 2000. Porter showed a decrease of 35-40 percent (it was one way much of the time) while Park Road decreased 25-30 percent. Also Tilden, between Connecticut and 24th, dropped by 30 percent.

What does this mean? Very little, except that the Department of Transportation is not taking many new measurements to base its decisions upon. However it does have one possible and rather ominous conclusion. The number of cross-town trips decreased when it became more difficult to cross the park. Decreased by 4-5,000 trips a day. Some people seemed to have changed their life activities by no longer coming to Cleveland Park to see a movie or shop or enroll their kids in a west side school. Some people in CP stopped thinking in terms of east side hospitals and cultural activities. Some people saw their friends less often. The City became that much more divided between east and west. This lends much credence to the arguments of those who want to reopen Klingle Road to help bind the city together. How many trips were deferred or never made because Klingle was closed for a decade? How much further apart have Cleveland Park and Mt. Pleasant grown because of the false economy of not repairing the Road ten years ago?


Klingle Road
James Treworgy,

Ann Loikow suggests that Klingle Road is not an acceptable “alternative” route. I want to point out that the information she provides is deceptive at best. Please look at the map graciously provided by the Klingle Valley folks,, and decide for yourself if the road has “three hairpin turns.” I realize that the aerial view doesn't show the whole story, since you can't see the grade. But while the single turn of any significance is sharp, it is certainly no worse than turns that thousands of commuters drive on other roads in the park and around the city every day. Second, her pointing out that the road had routinely been closed in snow and rain only underscores the dire need to repair the drainage infrastructure of the road — a repair that must be made whether Klingle Road is to be reopened or be converted into a park.

The point here is “alternative.” If the roadway actually had a working drainage infrastructure, as it will whether or not it is reopened or becomes a park, it will certainly prove to be an alternative. Not just in foul weather, but any time of day. I suggest you take out your stopwatch and try to drive from Porter and Klingle to the National Cathedral (or really, anywhere east and west of the park, mid city) at 5:30 p.m. on a weekday. Then drive back. You've got two options: Tilden Street and Porter Street. Well, anyone who's done this before knows that Porter Street is a nightmare westbound in rush hour because of turning traffic onto Connecticut Avenue, and Tilden Street is a nightmare eastbound in rush hour because of turning traffic onto Beach Drive. Now imagine if one of those were closed because of an accident.


Revisionist History and Klingle Road
Paul McKenzie, McKenzieDC@ATT.NET

It is certainly interesting to see the volume of E-mails on Klingle Road. However, John Capozzi's revisionist history, in a futile attempt to misinform readers plus chasten candidates who might be supportive of opening Klingle Road, needs to be reviewed. Capozzi is mistaken in suggesting closing Klingle Road is a popular issue; in fact, the opposite is true. Repairing and opening Klingle Road is a question of fairness that transcends the entire city. Every citizen in every Ward of this city has a stake in the outcome and voters are more and more focusing on this issue and they see how it affects them. Our neighbors are looking for this government to do its job, and repairing Klingle Road is no exception.

One would think that people like Ralph Scott would be more interested in getting something accomplished than working to retard any efforts to clean up the lead poison and sewage overflow that has continued to pour into Klingle Valley. Lisa Colson thinks we should take a bus in an emergency, and the bike lobbyists complain the road is too steep and narrow for cars, but not too steep and narrow for bikes? Yet a multi-million dollar Kennedy-Warren apartment expansion through Klingle Valley isn't even challenged by anyone. Does anyone know why? Keeping the road closed has not made people leave their cars at home nor improved air quality in the city, and that test has been running for eleven years on Klingle Road. We continue to sit idling in traffic day after day and are forced through Cleveland Park instead of avoiding it by going under it — all the while creating more pollution and congestion.

I like what DC Shadow Representative Ray Browne said to me when explaining why he supported repairing Klingle Road ( He said, “Anything we can do to open our communities to each other and bring our neighborhoods closer together the better this city will be.” Maybe Capozzi, Colson, and Scott, the representatives of the contorted politics of keeping us separated, will hear the words of Representative Browne and see the folly in their wish to close our public road.


Capozzi Confused
Joyce Miller,

Mr. Capozzi has the Coalition to Repair Klingle Road mixed up with the Klingle Valley people. The mayor and Mendelson may have won their reelection but the Klingle Valley people also supported and endorsed the entire Green party. The Coalition, on the other hand, supported winners like Linda Cropp, Jim Graham, David Catania, Vincent Orange, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Ray Browne.

Three thousand motorists used Klingle Road daily. Right now, motorists are forced to scramble to operate without the road, even though the road is still officially an open collector road. DC has an affirmative duty to keep the roads open and available. It is not something we vote on. It is something that DC is obligated to do because it's the government's function to preserve and maintain the roads. It is something that good government would do. It is something that the Mayor promised to do when he said that he would make government work for all of us. Isn't it time DC delivered on that promise? Why waste taxpayer dollars that could be better invested in finally getting the job done?

DC taxpayers are being deprived of the benefit of a public, federal-aid road. That's wrong, divisive, and contrary to DC's transportation mission, which is to move people safely and efficiently. Never before has it taken the city so long to restore the intended use of any road. And, never before has a well-heeled group been able to lay claim to a public road.


Klingle Road
Warren Gorlick,

I want to second Jack McKay's astute analysis of the supposed “study” commissioned by MCV Associates, which started from the ridiculous premise that eastbound drivers crossing Connecticut at Porter must wait an average of fifteen minutes to clear the intersection. I have lived right near the intersection in question, and I can assure you that I have never waited anything close to fifteen minutes to cross it. It is quite unfortunate that the proponents of reopening Klingle Road would resort to completely false claims to support their desires.


Sierra Club Disputes Klingle Roadies’ Claim of Truth-Telling
Jason Broehm,

The Sierra Club takes great exception to Peter McGee's recent claim that the pro-Klingle Road campaign is "grounded in truth." In fact, our experience has been the exact opposite: they have demonstrated a troubling pattern of distortion, deception, and obfuscation. The Sierra Club has been on record as supporting keeping Klingle Road closed to automobile traffic and instead converting the old road into a multi-use recreational trail, ever since 1994 when the elected Washington, DC, Chapter voted unanimously to support this position. And yet, if one were to read the Coalition to Repair and Reopen Klingle Road's web site one might be fooled into thinking the opposite. To this date, it reads: “Sierra Club: For over 10 years, local Sierra Club members have been working to reopen Klingle Road to motor vehicles. Many of these members testified at the November 2000 public hearing urging DPW to fix our road. The Sierra Club has over 1,700 active members in DC, many of which support us.” I might add that, for a long time, the roadies even had the audacity to improperly display use the Sierra Club's trademarked logo on their web site. It took two “cease and desist” letters from the Sierra Club’s headquarters — one to Mr. McGee, and a later certified letter to his wife, Laurie Collins (which was returned when she refused to sign for it) — and a personal phone call by the chapter's legal chair, Jim Dougherty, to Mr. McGee and Ms. Collins before they finally removed the logo. Even after they did remove it, they have continued to use the Sierra Club’s name and clip art of a tree, bearing just enough resemblance to the Club's logo to muddy the waters. And they continue to pull a few words from the Sierra Club’s “Restore the Core” report, very selectively I might add, in the hopes of bolstering their unfounded claim of Sierra Club support.

Sadly, the road advocates' tactics against the Sierra Club are emblematic of the way Mr. McGee and his merry band of "truth-tellers" do business. They also have used the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's (WABA) name misleadingly on their web site, even though WABA also supports keeping Klingle Road closed to automobile traffic. They continue to list ANC 1C (Adams Morgan) as a supporter even though the commission later voted to reverse its earlier position and instead support the road’s continued closure to cars. Mr. McGee makes much of the fact that the earlier resolution was unanimous, but what he does not state is that the first resolution was passed in Nov. 2000 by a soon-to-be-lame-duck commission. Further, the ANC only heard from road advocates, not representatives of the save Klingle Valley group, and the commission passed it somewhat reluctantly after Mr. McGee's group made it sound extremely urgent and time sensitive. Four of the eight voting commissioners were not reelected; three of the four commissioners that did return later voted changed their positions and against reopening the road (after an open forum and serious deliberation debate based on new information in DDOT’s Aug. 2001 Klingle Road Feasibility Study). All three of the commissioners who voted to reopen the road the second time around were defeated earlier this month, in at least two races because of pro-park supporters who actively campaigned against them.

Based on my experience in the last two years, most of the rest of the ANCs that have voted to reopen the road have done so only after token citizen input and little if any real debate or deliberation (ANC 1A, Columbia Heights, which voted for the road, and ANC 1C, which voted against the road, being the notable exceptions). Recently, many ANCs have based their decision on the ANC Assembly's resolution to reopen the road. We park supporters were never given notice that the ANC Assembly would consider this issue prior to their passing a pro-road resolution, which raises the question of how thoughtful and deliberative that body was. When ANCs spend no more than 5 minutes on the issue and then pass the same resolution, it calls into question many more of the roadies' supporters as well.


DC’s Cassandra
Bob Summersgill,

Cassandra has long been the reference I use in describing Dorothy Brizill's work. A number of years ago I sat through Chief Few's confirmation hearing. Brizill and I were the only public witnesses, and Harold Brazil carefully waited until all other testimony had been presented, the reporters had left and the cameras were off before letting Brizill or me testify. While my testimony was long on concerns regarding Few's ability to function in a big and diverse city and short on specific problems, Dorothy Brizill laid out all of the issues that would later bring down Few.

Specifically, faking the award and lying about his education in his resume. It surprised me that two years later that the press would be in such an uproar over those issues, but then they couldn't hear or believe Dorothy Brizill when she first pointed it out. While Brizill is not given to saying "I told you so," she did, just as Cassandra warned the Trojans about the Greek soldiers in the wooden horse.



Tenleytown Historic Resource Survey, December 3
Mary Alice Levine,

A community meeting will be held at the Tenley-Friendship Library at 7:00 on Tuesday, December 3 for a presentation on the Tenleytown Historical Society’s Historic Resource Survey grant from the DC Office of Historic Preservation. 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. This survey will help prepare for future development of Tenleytown. The consultant for this project, architectural historian Paul Kelsey Williams of Kelsey & Associates, will show vintage maps and images of Tenleytown and explain the research process. A representative of the DC Historic Preservation Office will also be present to answer questions.

This survey is part of the overall city planning process. In January 2001 citizens of AU Park, Tenleytown, and Friendship Heights (designated as “Cluster 11”) were invited by Ward 3 Planner Robert Collins to participate in meetings designed to identify essential ingredients vital to making our neighborhood “a place where people can live and thrive.” These meetings were open to everyone. The members of the Cluster 11 Task Force identified as the priorities for additional planning: 1) neighborhood traffic management and enforcement, 2) commercial and retail development on Wisconsin Avenue, and 3) residential development controls, historic preservation, retention of our small-town character, and comprehensive planning. Out of these sessions was developed the Cluster 11 Strategic Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP), which is now being implemented. The first priority is being addressed by various traffic-calming strategies and a traffic and parking study; the second by the Upper Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Study, inspired by the philosophy of transit-oriented development. The third priority is represented by the Tenleytown Historic Resources Survey. All of these components will mesh together to make our already great neighborhood even better, with a vibrant mix of housing and retail on Wisconsin Avenue, streets that are safe for pedestrians and drivers, and residential neighborhoods protected against inappropriate development.


The Need for Educational Freedom in the Nation’s Capital, December 10
Casey Lartique,

A policy forum on “The Need for Educational Freedom in the Nation's Capital,” will be held on Tuesday, December 10, at 12:00 p.m., at the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. A luncheon to follow. The panel will feature Casey Lartigue, Cato Institute; Peggy Cooper Cafritz, President, DC Board of Education; and Virginia Walden-Ford, Black Alliance for Educational Options.

Cato policy forums and luncheons are free of charge. To register for this event, please call Krystal Brand by 12:00 p.m., Monday, December 9, at 789-5229, fax her at 371-0841, or E-mail her at If you can't make it to the Cato Institute, you can watch this forum live or listen to the audio online at If you plan to watch this event online, there is no need to register.

By almost any educational achievement measure, the children attending public schools within the shadow of the US Capitol are not receiving a quality education. What must be done to reform the District of Columbia Public Schools? Are there options besides rounding up the usual suspects of spending more money and giving more power to the public school system? Please join us for a thought-provoking discussion about the condition of public schools in the nation's capital and the options available to bring about needed reform.

[You may also want to read Casey Lartique's insightful article on DC schools, “When the Mission Is Mediocrity,” in the Outlook section of today's Washington Post, — Gary Imhoff]


Discount Tickets to “Brilliant” Albee, December 15
Robin Larkin,

Edward Albee became famous for “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1962). But Albee won his first Pulitzer Prize with the “brilliant” (Nation), more tender play “A Delicate Balance” (1966). Footlights, the Washington area's only modern-drama discussion group, has arranged for group discount tickets to a performance of “A Delicate Balance.” In “A Delicate Balance,” a suburban couple faces a dilemma. The wife's alcoholic sister already lives with them, and their daughter is moving home after the breakup of her fourth marriage. Suddenly the couple's best friends, fleeing a terror they cannot define, also want to move in. The production stars Tana Hicken, one of DC theater's great actresses. Our discount tickets are only $16, and include a post-show discussion with the director and transportation between the theater and the DC Metro. The performance takes place 2:30 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at Everyman Theater, 1727 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. To reserve your ticket, call 301-897-9314 or E-mail



Volunteer Wanted
Tolu Tolu,

Good editing or typing skills or just free time to get involved in project at NE location. Call 331-4418.


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