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December 1, 2002

Heading Home

Dear Homies:

Aside from the Oldest Inhabitants (an actual civic organization in Washington) and the rare few other native-born Washingtonians, the rest of us immigrants to DC took, or still are taking, years to feel as though Washington really is our home. For many of us, we are in Washington because that is where our work brought us, and the ties of community and neighborhood take a long time to develop. A strong declaration that Washington is our home often results more from conscious political choice than from affection and devotion.

But I was thinking, as I read a news story about how today is the biggest travel day of the year, the day when people head home, that Washington is where we were heading today; it was where we came when we came home. Welcome back home from wherever you went.

Gary Imhoff


Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Paul Dionne, Pdionne at Speak Easy dot net

I see many of the problems our city faces in its unfortunate adherence to one party rule. You can't really expect politicians who rely on the same voter base, same contributor base, and same volunteer base to stand up against each other in any meaningful way. If we had a viable second party, the recent scandals and hospital situation would be like waving fresh meat in front of a pack of lions. Furthermore, people of the majority party would be squeamish about allowing the opposition so much fodder for their cannons.

Few people in this city seem willing to recognize that the two major local parties are very different from their national counterparts. Even still, 51 percent of DC's electorate vote a straight Democratic ticket in a non-presidential election year. You will also recall that once elected in DC you have an 86 percent chance of being reelected, no term limits, and no opposition candidate after the primary. Many may argue that they are registered to vote Democrat because most elections are decided in the primary. Well, there were no surprises there, not one incumbent turned out of office or even faced a serious challenge. So long as activists, many of whom are on this list, continue to work to convince voters to register and vote a party line ticket on election day we will continue to suffer humiliations such as those brought upon us by our city's current administration.

Maybe it is time we start to look at things differently. The DC electorate will not decide control of the House, Senate, or White House, therefore national political affiliation is irrelevant. To quote a famous Democrat from my home state: “All politics is local.” Perhaps we ought to recognize this and put our local politics first by abandoning our city's majority party, which has proven its greed for power and its disdain for us.


Missing Lions
John Cleave,

Is David Hunter correct in his recollection that there were once copper lions on the Taft Bridge? The present concrete ones were sculpted by Roland Hinton Perry, who was also responsible for the Neptune Fountain in front of the Library of Congress. I understand they were put in place at the time that George Morison’s reinforced concrete “million dollar” bridge was opened in 1907.


The Concrete Lions
Kurt Vorndran, ANC3C,

The lions on the Taft Bridge were never copper. They were concrete as they are now. Due to a botched restoration effort thirty years ago, they had fallen into bad shape. To the pleasure of us in Woodley Park, we had a wonderful set of new lions installed two years ago, and, earlier this month, they were balanced by a pair of bronze lions on the opposite side of Woodley Park, in front of the National Zoo and designed by the same artist.


David Hunter,

[The following was sent by Kenneth Laden, Associate Director for Transportation Policy and Planning,] This is probably more information than you requested. The Taft Bridge Lions were taken down for restoration in the 1990's. We found that they were in such poor shape that they could not be restored. So we reconstructed the four lions using the originals to make a mold, and reinstalled them in the summer of 2000. The original lions were made of CEMENT (not copper) in the early 1900's to honor the fact that the Taft Bridge was the largest cement bridge in the world (it may still hold the record). The newly created lions are also cement, but we used a different process which should last much much longer than the originals.

We received a request from the National Zoo regarding use of the molds to create two bronze lions for the Zoo entrance on Connecticut Avenue, NW. Permission was granted by the city, and the two new bronze lions were dedicated earlier this month. I believe the original lions are still stored near the 3rd Street Tunnel. We had received a request from the DC Historical Society to place them in front of the new City Museum, at Mt. Vernon Square. But I have not heard from them in some time, so I think that deal is falling through.


The Great Mailbox Capers
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

Following repeated incidents of theft and vandalism of four mail boxes located on Massachusetts Avenue between Fordham Place and Van Ness Streets, a meeting was convened between the victims, representatives from American University, and a DC Police Sergeant from the local police precinct. The meeting objective was to develop some process that would preclude further incidents . On at least two occasions the local precinct police had declined to file reports, treating the incidents as fraternity pranks. The police Sgt. attending the meeting quickly put that perception to rest and noted that theft of a mailbox is a federal felony crime.

As a result of the meeting, AU will step up their own campus patrol in the late hours between Westmoreland and Ward Circles, as will the DC Police (in both marked and unmarked cars). AU will compensate those who have lost mailboxes. And, in the meantime, at least for the time being, the US Postal service has been delivering the mail to the front doors of those four homes whose mailboxes are gone. Tranquility has been restored to a normally quiet (at least in the late night hours) neighborhood in NW DC. All's well that ends well.



Seventh Annual Christmas Tree Sale to Benefit Ross Elementary, December 6
Debby Hanrahan,

Ross Elementary School PTA members and neighborhood volunteers will sell Christmas trees, wreaths, and other seasonal items on the coming two weekends to benefit the school’s book and supply fund. The freshly cut trees (Blue Spruce, Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir) will be sold at the corner of 17th and R Streets NW, at the Italian Kitchen Restaurant, which has generously donated its patio for the sale. After the cost of the trees is covered, all proceeds go to Ross, a public elementary school at 1730 R Street, NW.

The sale will take place on Friday, December 6, 4-6 p.m.; Saturday, December 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, December 8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday, December 13, 4-6 p.m.; Saturday, December 14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, December 15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (If there are trees left over, one more sale day will be added: Saturday, December 21, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.)

The trees range in price from $30 to $150, and in height from 2-1/2 feet to 12 feet. The PTA will also sell Balsam Fir wreaths, White Pine garlands, and new-style, easy to use Christmas tree stands. There will be free deliveries to nearby neighborhoods. In addition, Ross Elementary representatives will be available at the sale to answer questions regarding enrollment opportunities for children in grades pre-K through 6th at the school. For further information, please contact Debby Hanrahan, Community Representative, Ross Elementary Local School Restructuring Team, at 462-2054.


Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair, December 8
Sara Yamaka,

Please join us for a great opportunity to support community organizations and give gifts in the true spirit of the season. The 4th Annual Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair, Sunday, December 8, 12 noon-4 p.m., Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, 310 Tulip Avenue, Takoma Park, MD (just three blocks from the Takoma Station on the red line).

Please join us for music, refreshments and the chance to support local, national, and international nonprofits. For more information see or call Sara at 244-7080.



House for Rent
Richard Stone Rothblum,

Palisades NW, MacArthur Boulevard. Three bedroom, two bath detached house, charming 20's bungalow style, walkout basement. Walk to C&O Canal, take Crescent Bike Trail to downtown, Bethesda, or Arlington. Attractive neighborhood, schools. Indoor garage, off-street parking, nicely landscaped yard with large trees. Will consider pets. $2790/month includes professional lawn and garden care year-round. Will redecorate. Available December 1. Telephone Richard, 244-3023, or E-mail


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