Taking a Break
We're taking a break, so themail is taking some time off, too. The
next regular issue of themail will be in three weeks, on Sunday, May 18.
There may be some irregular communication from DCWatch between then and
now, but don't count on it. I am hoping for the temporary triumph of
laziness and lethargy. Please do, however, save your messages and send
them to us around the middle of May.
Links: 1) In the last issue of themail, Ralph Blessing asked whether
I believed that running red lights is a constitutional right. Of course
not. On the other hand, most of us think we have a constitutional right
to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and to have a meaningful
opportunity to confront the government's accusations against us. That's
called due process, and DC's red-light camera law denies it to us. The
red-light camera class action lawsuit is at http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/privacy15.htm.
2) The wrong link to Erich Martel's article on McKinley Technological
High School was posted in the last issue of themail. The correct link is
I've been noticing a disturbing trend in crime reporting. The DC
police don’t want to take a crime report; no report and no crime has
been committed — nothing has to be solved and crime statistics remain
low. If a victim insists on filing a crime report, the victim is often
told he or she will have to wait hours for a supervisor, normally a
sergeant, who will also try to discourage a victim from filing a report.
When a victim insists on a crime or incident report the details are
often changed or minimized to the point that the victim barely
recognizes what he or she is reporting. I know that this isn’t
official MPD policy, but I’m curious as to how pervasive it is as
unofficial MPD policy, how much it’s pushed through the ranks from the
chief's office to the cop on the beat not to see crime so as to keep the
crime statistics low. I'd also like to know what we a citizens can do
about it, what can we do when a crime has been committed against us, and
the police simply refuse to do anything about it and treat the victim as
a perp. Anybody out there have any ideas about who we can talk to when a
cop tells you that a crime hasn’t been committed so he/she doesn’t
have to do anything about it?
DC Is Again the “Murder Capital”
John Aravosis, firstname.lastname@example.org
A new study reveals that Washington, DC, led the nation's largest
cities in per capita murders in 2002, earning the District the dubious
honor, yet again, as the nation's “Murder Capital.” While the study
was mentioned briefly in this past Sunday's Washington Post, the full
study was just released on Thursday, April 24. You can read a press
release and the full study online here: http://www.safestreetsdc.com/subpages/murdercap.html.
Questions, etc.? Contact John Aravosis, Co-Founder SafeStreetsDC.com, John@SafeStreetsDC.com.
Time for the City Council to Perform
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
The city is getting into deeper and deeper financial waters every
day. Yet none of the constituencies and departments of the DC government
will willingly reduce their budget requests. The City Council has to
work as a team and put aside parochial wants to make the necessary cuts.
It is too early to be posturing for the next mayoral election, so the
Council Members can act with impunity if they all work together to
preclude the impending crisis. Raising taxes is not the answer. That
will drive more folks away from DC and preclude others from moving in.
The answer lies in streamlining government operations and finding
those activities that just don't fit into a reasonable budget. The Mayor
will sit back and watch since he doesn't want to dirty his hands or make
any enemies. Hey, Tony, it's not your enemies you should watch out for.
It's your so-called friends.
Summertime, and the Livin’s Easy
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
This time of year is wonderful, and people seem almost giddy. As the
weather warms the neighbors come out to sit on the porch or steps, the
sidewalks are busy, and urban life moves into full swing. Today, Dupont
Circle was packed with people of all shapes and colors who watched teens
do urban dance moves, listed to African/Caribbean drummers, and took in
sun through the fresh and lightly-colored translucent green tree leaves.
Blossoms from trees drifted through the air as dogs walked with the best
friends to check out the dog scene. Nearby, a brass group energized an
ever-changing audience that lazily passed around cars moving by the
circle. Tourist season is moving into full swing, despite security
concerns. In 2000, Cherith Richards Avery and I did a content analysis
of 26 tourist guidebooks to DC and found an appalling lack of
information about local DC. I thumbed through the latest editions of
guidebooks on Saturday and have the impression that many have
dramatically improved. Some of the dates and facts are not accurate, but
more attention is being given to DC's unique political status and its
neighborhoods. Some even explain why DC has "Taxation without
Representation" on its license plate. Although I do not have time
to undertake a systematic analysis as before just now, I will highlight
a few items periodically, starting here with Frommer's Irreverent
In 2000, Irreverent covered twenty percent of the many issues
we thought important to telling about DC's local sociopolitical
situation — it was a third tier guidebook relative to other guides.
The 2002 edition of Irreverent continues to be enjoyably
irreverent and slim enough to toss in a backpack without feeling like
one is carrying a brick. It chides, “Yes, Washington is a special
place, and yes, it's fun to visit. . . . But if it's urban electricity
you're after, you'd be better off in Cleveland.” It also continues to
quote from Washington Confidential and calls DC residents
“parasites.” Irreverent, however, seems to like DC nightlife.
It advises, “Despite conservative daytime appearances, DC really knows
how to cut loose come sundown. There's a scene for everyone: Capitol
Hill bars for people who've left work to talk about work before turning
in early; mammoth dance clubs where dayglo-adorned ravers bounce happily
till the sun comes up; hip gay clubs where shirtless men flaunt their
gym-perfect physiques; and live music clubs, featuring alternative rock
and jazz-tinged hip-hop. And there's no shortage of happy hours and
all-you-can-drink nights. Hey, somebody's gotta keep all those college
kids, worldly visitors, and government workers happy.”
Irreverent also tells how “special” DC is — special in
an “unusual” and “extraordinary” way, as well as in the Saturday
Night Live “Church Lady” way. It explains that, “The US
Constitution made sure it would forever be a special place by ordering
Congress to establish and 'exercise exclusive legislation in all cases
whatsoever' over a 'seat of Government of the United States,' a weird
political setup that's caused trouble ever since. . . . The city of
Washington has always had a stormy relationship with its congressional
masters. Citizens of Washington have no representation in Congress,
which make them frequently yell 'Taxation Without Representation' and
launch noisy campaigns for DC statehood. DC had home rule, with an
elected mayor and council, from 1802 until a presidential commission
decided to take over in 1874. A Constitutional amendment granted
Washingtonians the right to vote for president in 1961; full home rule,
with an elected mayor and city council, was restored in 1975, though the
arrangement is pretty unwieldy — Congress still has the right to
approve the entire city budget. Home Rule II has been a mixed blessing,
partly due to the character of the elected home rulers themselves. . . .
Washingtonians can afford to be tolerant because, down deep, they know
how good they've got it. . . .” Especially when the weather is like
today! One benefit of not being a highly-dense urban space is that there
is still some room left to walk on the sidewalks where you can nod,
smile, and say hello to neighbors, friends, and tourists alike.
Getting My Mail Costs Me $100
Dawn Dickerson, firstname.lastname@example.org
What do we need to do to get the Brentwood post office reopened? Hey,
I wouldn't dare dismiss the seriousness of an Anthrax cleanup, but I
have absolutely had it with the DC Department of Public Works'
aggressive ticketing at the Mass Avenue post office. Can you believe
that DC is ticketing people for double-parking in front of the Mass
avenue post office going to pickup mail? Where else are you supposed to
park when you have to pick up a package and all the metered parking
spaces are taken?
Honestly, I am not trying to be whinny about this. I know that it's
against parking laws to double park in front of the post office, but
I've gone to the post office at 8:30 p.m. and seen Public Works
ticketing cars that are double parked, and something about that is not
right to me. I tried to complain to Carol Schwartz during election time
and she looked me in my face and told me that, “We don't have any way
of knowing if these people are going to work,” to which I said, “No,
they are going to the post office and, since Mass Avenue is now the main
post office, this is where folks have to go to get packages.” To which
she replied, “Hey, I can tell you I'm going to do something about it
so that I can get your vote but I can't. There's nothing that I can do
Well, why not? Why can't Public Works be a little more cooperative
about the parking in front of the post office? There's not some parking
conspiracy going on. People just want to get their mail and, since
Brentwood is not open, Mass Avenue is where they have to go. Why is the
solution to everything always to extort money out of the residents of
Be Careful What You Wish For
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
The folks on Foxhall Road wish that Ms. Casey and her Mayoral mansion
would go away. Ms Casey is running out of patience with those folks and
may soon decide to abandon the whole $50 M gift to DC and sell the
property instead. If so, look for drooling developers to move in quickly
and scoop up a very valuable piece of real estate that would likely
allow for the building of a couple of hundred town homes. Great location
for in-town homes that would likely sell for about a megabuck apiece. Be
careful what you wish for, Foxhallers.
Don’t Count the Voucher Opposition Out
Melody R. Webb, firstname.lastname@example.org
Congress has gained an ally in the DC school system to subvert the
cause of DC home rule. Recently, School Board President Peggy Cafritz
has received a lot of heat for her turnabout on school voucher
legislation in Congress, courtesy of Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona
(R-AZ-6). Last week, Ms. Cafritz' letter to the editor in the Washington
Post stated that she had evolved into her new stance due to the
unhappiness of DCPS parents and due to her desire to avoid a fight
against the voucher legislation that could not be won (given the
Republican-controlled White House and Congress). Congresswoman Norton
has a lot to say about that. Let's take this on mano a mano with the
voucher proponents — in the legislative sense, of course.
Local DC residents and supporters and Ms. Norton's allies in Congress
are perfectly capable of mounting a huge fight against this voucher
effort and are doing so as you read this. Ms. Cafritz has yet to
articulate arguments favoring the merits of school vouchers. Aside from
the fact that we disagree with vouchers as a policy, we disagree with
Ms. Cafritz because she has failed to do outreach, education, and
consultation with the community on this matter on the timetable of the
DCPS community, rather than that of Congressman Jeff Flake's
legislation. Does Ms. Cafritz know, for example, that children with
special needs are not afforded the same educational rights and
protections in private schools that they are in public schools? What
happens if a child begins to display behavior-related learning
disabilities in a private school that he has entered with a tuition
voucher? The school simply kicks him out. Not so in public schools.
There is too much work to be done; too much to learn from the community
of local DC parents, advocates, and scholars, to jump in bed with this
Republican non-fix for the DC public school population.
Let's tell Ms. Cafritz to withdraw her support from this voucher
legislation. Let's thank Councilmember Adrian Fenty for his work
opposing this voucher plan. Let's tell Congressman Flake to withdraw the
legislation (H.R. 684) altogether. Let's tell his Arizona constituents
via his home district newspaper (which has come out against vouchers a
couple of years ago) that Jeff Flake is neglecting Arizona issues, just
like the Arizona Governor Napolitano says he is doing. Let's tell Jeff
Flake to leave DC alone. How do you do all these things? You can E-mail
and fax these decision-makers in a couple of minutes on the action page
Of course, as ever, you can write your own missive opposing the
Congressionally imposed voucher plan.
I wrote to themail, criticizing the DC Water and Sewer Authority's
failure to notify hundreds of District residents (or more) about a water
cutoff to facilitate repairs. Michael Marcotte, Deputy General
Manager/Chief Engineer of the Washington Water and Sewer Authority,
replied to my post about this 12+ hour water cut off. In his post, Mr.
Marcotte said that an unknown number of people having their water cut
off without warning for twelve hours had a “small impact on our
customers.” That's the wrong attitude for the District government to
have. I think that this view gets to the heart of what happened over
April 11-12: Having no water without notice from about 11 p.m. until
after 12 noon the following day does not have a "small impact"
on people. And nowhere in Mr. Marcotte's E-mail is there an apology for
cutting off residents' water without notification. A simple apology
would have been nice.
Mr. Marcotte writes that WASA received 85 calls from people who had
no water or reduced water pressure, as if those were the only
individuals who were bothered by this incident. But the fact is that if
you wanted to be one of those 85 people (most of whom are probably part
of two, three, or four person households) you needed to be on hold for
nearly half an hour. (A lot of other people found out about the extent
of the water outage from the Cleveland Park E-mail list.) Then, if you
could get through to WASA, you got conflicting and inaccurate
information about when water would be restored.
Why were people angry and upset with this twelve hour water outage?
Because despite WASA's "extensive notification plan to alert people
who were likely to be affected by the outage" hundreds of people
(or more) went without water for the night and well into the next day.
And just a couple of months ago the same neighbors were told by WASA to
expect water to be turned off one evening to facilitate repairs: Nothing
happened that night and WASA didn't bother to tell people that they
didn't need to stock up on water and make other plans. Nobody wants our
aging water system to go unmaintained. And nobody says that it's not
difficult, complex work to maintain this system. But is it too much to
expect a minimum level of communication between WASA and District
Update on Abandoned Car, Final Chapter?
Annie McCormick, email@example.com
Sometime between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday the
23rd, the abandoned Geo that was in front of 1401 N Street, NW, was
removed. I do not know who removed it, or where it was taken, nor do I
know if it were a result of my original call to DPW.
I think we enjoyed a period of classical American song writing
between about 1920 and the 1950s. One of the benefits of that time was
that most of the best songs were introduced in the theater, which
required some depth and sophistication. That's true of nearly everything
from Arlen, Cole Porter, and Richard Rodgers, to Frank Loesser, etc. Jazz
composers like Duke Ellington had the luxury of writing for their own
bands and testing songs in live performances, the surest way to create a
classical tradition. From the 1950s on, the emphasis was on mass
produced dance music, especially immediate hits that appeal to suburban
teenagers with money to spend.
Who are the theater composers of the past couple of decades? Andrew
Lloyd Webber writes catchy tunes, but there's something missing from his
songs. Theater composers like Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein and
Frank Loesser wrote songs specific to character, dramatic situation, and
emotion. Lloyd Webber's songs are mostly generic. You could take, say,
“Music of the Night,” sung by the title character from Phantom of
the Opera, and give it to any other character, not only in the same
show, but in nearly any other Lloyd Webber show. You can't do that with
most or all of the songs from, say, South Pacific or West Side Story or
Guys & Dolls or even lesser shows like Bye Bye Birdie or the Sound
of Music. “Music of the Night,” like most other Lloyd Webber hits,
is just a pretty song, with no emotional depth or drama or wit. Next to
something by Loesser or Rodgers or Frederick Loewe it sounds like a
Hallmark card. Stephen Sondheim is the exact inverse. His songs are
tuned to character and situation and are loaded with wit and
sophistication. But who wants to sing any of them, except “Send in the
Clowns”? Sondheim lacks the talent for the long distinctive melodic
line, even when he tries to parody the classical American song composers
in Follies. But at least he takes his craft seriously.
So who is writing memorable songs today, songs with sophistication
and emotional depth and legs (i.e., can be sung by lots of singers, like
“Blues in the Night”)? We need a “themusic” discussion list!
[I think there are plenty of singable melodies in Company, which is
still my favorite Sondheim show, precisely because it is written in an
accessible, popular, and melodic style that Sondheim has since largely
abandoned. — Gary Imhoff]
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
DCPS Facilities Master Plan Community
Meetings, April 28 and April 30
Nancy Huvendick, firstname.lastname@example.org
The DC Public Schools office of facilities has organized a series of
community meetings this spring to get neighborhood input on the long
range facilities master plan for the District's public schools. These
meetings are very important because decisions will be made on future
school enrollments, capacities, boundaries, modernizations, and grade
configurations (and school closings?) among all the regular public
schools in each area. Two meetings have been scheduled between March and
June in each of eight planning areas that roughly coincide with the
Community meetings upcoming this week are: 1) Planning Area E (Ward
5), Monday, April 28, Langdon Elementary School, 1900 Evarts Street, NE,
in the auditorium, 6-8 p.m. 2) Planning Area F (Ward 1), Wednesday,
April 30, Garrison Elementary School, 1200 S Street, NW, in the
multipurpose Room, 7-9 p.m. The original Facilities Master Plan was
completed in 2000 with the understanding that it would be updated
annually. This first update is scheduled to go to the Board of Education
in September. Call the Planning Managers Office at DCPS for more
information, 576-8267, or visit http://www.k12.dc.us/dcps/home.html
and click on “Community Meetings” for a complete list of meetings in
the District. These meetings are very important to the future of the
neighborhoods in the District — everyone is welcome!
On Sunday, May 4, from 1-5 p.m., the Tenleytown Historical Society
will sponsor a tour of Tenleytown's homes and gardens, including
excellent example of arts and crafts style, and homes and gardens in the
Grant Road Historic District and Armesleigh Park. Tickets are $15,
available 12 noon-4 p.m. on the day of the tour at St. Ann’s Hall on
Wisconsin Avenue north of Tenley Circle between St. Ann’s Church and
Friendship Library. For additional information, E-mail email@example.com
or phone 362-0145.
Join the Tenleytown Historical Society! Discover the history of our
neighborhood. Membership dues are $20 per year. Write us at 4640
Verplanck Place, NW, 20016.
In a shabby midwestern farmhouse, a young man searches for identity
in a family seized by sordid secrets. “Buried Child” (1979), by Sam
Shepard, “the greatest American playwright of his generation” (New
York Magazine), “conveys the mystical, cannibalistic pull of
family ties even as they unravel” (New York Times). It was the
first off-Broadway play to win the Pulitzer Prize. Footlights, DC's only
modern-drama discussion group, will attend a performance of “Buried
Child” at the Clark St. Playhouse, 601 S. Clark Street, a short walk
from the Crystal City and Pentagon City metro stations, on Sunday, May
18, at 2 p.m. Tickets are only $9 and include a post-show discussion.
Send your check, payable to "Footlights," to Robin Larkin,
5403 Nibud Court, Rockville, MD 20852. For more info go to http://www.footlightsdc.org,
call 301-897-9314, or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthier Kids Forum, June 3
Susie Cambria, email@example.com
Healthier Kids: The Impact of School Polices and Programs on Student
Health. Sponsored by the Children's Health Care Coalition of DC and the
American Academy of Pediatrics-DC Chapter, this policy and program forum
is being held on June 3 at Children's National Medical Center. Come join
your colleagues from around the region in informative presentations and
lively discussion. The focus will be on childhood obesity, the school
health program and violence in schools. Panelists will include
representatives from the school system, Department of Health, Department
of Mental Health, providers, and advocacy community. Registration begins
at 9:15 a.m., and the program will promptly start at 10:00 a.m. and
conclude at 2:00 p.m. More information is available from Frankeena
Wright, Health Policy Coordinator at DC Action for Children; call
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING
Apartment for Rent
Kendall Schaefer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia Heights: beautifully renovated 2 BR, 1800 sq. ft., two-level
unit with two baths, office, wood floors, central ac, washer/dryer, all
new appliances, parking space, wood deck, patio, security system, and
steps to Metro. $2000 or best offer. Available now. E-mail email@example.com
or call 431-2678.
themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every
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