Dear Crime Fighters:
On Thursday, March 31, a “Homicide Reduction Strategy for the
District of Columbia” (http://www.dcwatch.com/police/050331.htm)
was announced at a press conference by an impressive list of speakers:
Mayor Williams and senior officials from the Metropolitan Police
Department; US Attorney’s Office; DC Attorney General’s Office;
Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Court Services and
Offender Supervision Agency; and US Marshals Service. They were all
present at the crime-plagued Sursum Corda housing complex on North
Capitol Street. But the press conference was more impressive than the
strategy itself. It consists largely of rehashed, recycled, and
repackaged crime initiatives of the past under a new name: Project Safe
PSN is described on MPD’s web site (http://mpdc.dc.gov/mpdc/frames.asp?doc=/mpdc/lib/mpdc/news/pubs/whatsnew/2005/wn_050401.pdf):
“Project Safe Neighborhoods includes five major elements: suppression,
deterrence, intervention, investigation and prosecution. It relies on
close partnerships among police, prosecutors, probation and parole
officials, and other criminal justice partners — at the local and
federal levels. Under the strategy, law enforcement partners commit to a
regular schedule of identifying a troubled neighborhood, targeting its
violent offenders, assigning a federal agency to undertake
investigations with the MPDC, and then conducting a ‘take-down’
involving the arrest of those violent offenders. What’s unique about
the strategy is that officials then ‘market’ the takedown conducted
in one neighborhood to known offenders and their associates in other
neighborhoods, as a way to deter those individuals from committing
A key component of the plan is community “intervention” through a
media campaign to “heighten awareness of gun crime and its
consequences” and “empower residents to make a positive difference
in their community.” Three antigun print ads have been developed (http://www.dcwatch.com/police/050331b.htm)
to be displayed on Metro buses and in subway stations and to be
distributed as posters and palm cards to community and civic
associations, churches, and ANCs. In other words, the strategy is for
governmental public safety agencies to work together and then to fight
crime through advertising.
At his press conference on Wednesday this week, Mayor Williams will
announce what he is describing as a major, comprehensive crime bill. But
this bill has been developed within the Executive Office of the Mayor
without consulting with key councilmembers or key agency heads and, as
of Friday, the members of the Judiciary Committee still had no idea what
will be in the bill.
Gary Imhoff and Dorothy Brizill
Does anyone know the real story on the grace period and warning
tickets for the speed cameras? I heard on the news that there had been a
grace period that expired on March 28, specifically mentioning the
camera on the 100 block of Michigan Avenue, NE, yet several people I
know received what appear to be real tickets for a real $100.00 before
this date. The DMV web site doesn’t seem to tell, and three phone
calls have resulted in twenty-minute waits, then the call being dropped.
Who Can Afford to Live in DC?
William Haskett, email@example.com
Tax policy is always social policy. We require a better
theory/apprehension of what a tax on real property involves, including
its relationship to income. There is no question that the 40 percent of
the District’s population that owns real property becomes wealthier
when the market for their goods goes up, as it becomes relatively poorer
when that market goes down. But the central issue surely is the
relationship between current actual income and the tax burden which
comes with that increase in apparent wealth. If wealth goes up, and
income does not go up proportionately, then the payment of taxes on the
increase in wealth becomes a literal burden. As the gap between the two
increases (as it has in the recent past), there is a forced relationship
between continuing to become wealthier and being able to afford to
At a certain point, the market-value exceeds the ability to pay, and
the ownership must change, so that someone with income commensurate with
the tax increase takes over, and the previous owner must move out —
and away. The market does not discriminate: if an owner cannot afford to
pay taxes here, it is a reasonable bet that he/she cannot afford to buy
in the same market, and so we add social and geographic dislocation to
the equation. One population replaces another. This applies to renters
too, since rents depend upon the compounded market value of the real
estate and its assessment at its derived tax-rate. This must be true of
all except the fortunate minority who occupy rent-controlled properties,
regardless of income.
If we wish to maintain the present population of the District in its
present form (rather than have it replaced inevitably only by those who
can afford these compounded rates) we need to devise a workable
relationship between government’s fiscal needs and opportunities, its
constituents’ needs for income at present, and the rewards promised by
long-term ownership. If we tax the goose now, its owner may not survive
to realize the golden eggs it is incubating. If we don’t manage to
curb benefits on both sides of the simultaneous equations involved, we
contribute to a replacement of the present population (ironically, the
constituents of the present government) by another, which is simply
better able to afford the costs of waiting for the millennium, when
largely-increased house prices can finally be realized by the
If we wish to maintain the present population of the District pretty
much in its present composition and distribution, we have to accept both
the fiscal needs of government and the income necessities of those who
own and occupy property. It is necessary to find some way to limit the
rate of increase of the current property tax in some way more effective
than the present “caps.” How far this can be done depends, of
course, upon what we require of government. If we ask less of
government, we can reduce its demands upon ourselves. This might mean
that we need what is very hard to do — an overall audit of the
tax-base, including the repeated exercise of showing how many ways there
have been found to reduce that base by preventing the District
government from taxing.
Mayor Williams Running Again?
Wenzell Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org
A lot of people have been wondering the past couple of weeks if the
Tony Williams will run for mayor again. Can you or this city afford Tony
Williams to be mayor again?
What the Nats Need
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
After watching about ten hours of the eighteen-hour marathon baseball
history by Ken Burns on PBS yesterday, I have concluded that what the
Nats need is Jackie Robinson. Burns’ segment on Ebbets Field and the
Dodgers (the real ones, from Brooklyn) really brought back some fond
memories of that season in 1947 when Jackie Robinson first came to the
Major Leagues. I was in awe as Jackie taunted and drove the opposing
pitchers nuts when he danced off base. From my vantage point in the deep
center field bleachers (where I spent countless Saturday mornings for
the princely sum of 25 cents) you could still sense the tension.
Somewhere out there in the glorious baseball rosters of US colleges
and minor leagues there is a modern-day Jackie Robinson. Yes, another
talented black ball player with great speed and daring and who will draw
fans to RFK Stadium. Let’s hope the new management will realize the
importance of such a find for the new Nats.
Janice H Hopper, email@example.com
The DC Compact Commission is of the forgotten past, but hopefully I
am not the only former member to remember Floyd Agostinelli with respect
and admiration for his contributions to the Commission’s efforts to
secure voting rights in the Congress for the District’s
[Floyd Agostinelli, a longtime member of the Statehood Party, died on
March 21. An obituary is available at http://www.agostinellifamily.com/.
— Gary Imhoff]
Stephan DeGhelder, Local Playwright
G. James, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephan DeGhelder, Washington, DC, resident and
author/director/choreographer, has written “A Kiss from Alexander,”
a musical fantasy, to be presented in its world premiere in Chicago,
July 2-July 31. Stephan has lived and worked in the DC area since 1999.
For information about the show, check out http://www.akissfromalexander.com.
To contact the author, send E-mail to email@example.com.
I don’t understand the Standard and Poors rating of schools [http://www.schoolmatters.com].
Has anyone subscribing to themail compared DC’s schools to inner-city
schools in, say, Chicago or New York City?
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Balancing Work and Family, April 9
Dorinda White, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, April 9, from 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Discovery
Communications Headquarters, One Discovery Place, Silver Spring, MD. A
seminar on Work and Family Balance: Elusive Myth or Hard-won
Accomplishment? Who should attend? Working parents and their employers
will discover new ideas about how to survive and thrive in the work-life
balancing act. Join us as we explore the challenges, compromises, and
guilt-ridden drama of finding work-family balance. Whether you’re a
seasoned professional in any profession looking for some insight, a new
parent ready to reenter the work world, or an employer wondering how to
accommodate your employees, you won’t want to miss this event. Keynote
speaker is Ann Crittenden, award-winning journalist and the author of
the New York Times Notable Book, The Price of Motherhood and
If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything. Panelists will
discuss how they help their employees manage work/family balance.
Parents who have been there and done that will share their stories. Call
Dorinda White, VP Communications, WIFV-DC at 429.9438 to attend.
School Without Walls Book Fair, April 9
Charles Stevenson, email@example.com
[Forwarded from David Frankel:] Mark your calendars! It’s almost
time to stock up on summer reading and support School Without Walls
Senior High School! Saturday, April 9, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., at Politics
and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, 5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW parking
available behind the store).
All -- friends and neighbors, especially — are invited to the
School Without Walls Book Fair to purchase books for yourself, your
families and friends and SWW. A portion of the proceeds goes to support
SWW and its wonderful programs. Books you purchase for the school go
directly to the classrooms and library. Plan to stop by the Walls table
on the store’s lower level to review teacher wish lists and to pick up
coupons to present to the cashier. Coupons ensure that SWW is credited
with the sale.
School Without Walls is a humanities-based DC public high school with
students from every area of our city. It is DC’s smallest and one of
the best performing public high schools. Most of its graduates continue
on to attend well-known colleges and universities. However, its facility
is crumbling and public school budget cuts have forced its Home School
Association to fund half a teacher position this year.
National Building Museum Events, April 3
Brie Hensold, firstname.lastname@example.org
Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW,
Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.
Saturday, April 9, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Public Places and Monuments:
drawing on location footage, drawings, and photographs, this film traces
the social and economic history of public places and monuments in the
United States. This screening complements the exhibition OPEN: new
designs for public space. Free. Registration not required.
Saturday, April 9, 1:00-4:00 p.m. Architects and designers must
consider how people use public spaces. They should be accessible as well
as attractive. Let your imagination soar as you use craft materials to
build your own public space: a park, playground, or monument. Presented
in conjunction with OPEN: new designs for public space. $3 per project
for Museum members, $5 nonmembers. Age 7 and up. Drop-in program.
CLASSIFIEDS — SERVICES
Tax day is almost here, but it is not too late to take advantage of
free tax help through AARP Tax-Aide, an AARP Foundation program and the
nation’s largest volunteer-run tax counseling and preparation service.
The program offers help to low- and middle-income taxpayers with special
attention to those who are sixty and older. Here in the District, more
than sixty AARP Tax Aide volunteers have been helping thousands of
District residents file their taxes at more than twenty Tax-Aide
locations throughout the city until April 15. AARP Tax-Aide volunteers,
trained in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service, can assist in
filling tax forms and schedules, including the 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ.
To find the Tax-Aide location nearest them, District residents can call
1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669) or visit http://www.aarp.org/taxaide.
AARP Tax-Aide provides services to taxpayers each year from February
1 through April 15 at almost 8,400 sites around the country. Sites are
located in places such as senior centers, libraries, and community
centers. In addition, volunteers can visit hospitals and nursing homes
for those who are homebound. Help is available on a walk-in basis or by
appointment, depending on the site. The program began in 1968 with only
four volunteers who worked on one hundred returns, but it has grown
dramatically. In 2004, AARP Tax-Aide served more than 1.88 million
people with more than 32,000 volunteers nationwide.
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING HISTORY
Buyers Sought for “Jesse Baltimore House”
Mary Rowse, MERowse@aol.com
Would you like an opportunity to own and restore a solid,
well-constructed Sears “Fullerton”? Historic Washington
Architecture, Inc., a local preservation organization, is putting
together a list of those interested in buying “The Jesse Baltimore
House,” at 5136 Sherier Place, NW, so-named for the man who built it
eighty years ago using plans and 30,000 parts purchased by mail from
Sears, Roebuck & Company. This American Foursquare “kit house”
occupies 5600 square feet on Lot 68 in Square 1415 in the heart of the
Palisades neighborhood of Washington — a highly sought-after community
located along the banks of the Potomac River near Chain Bridge. The
house is flanked by a vacant lot on one side and the driveway to the
Palisades Recreation Center on the other. To see photos of the house and
to read more about Jesse Baltimore, please go to http://www.lostlandmarks.org/jessebaltimore.html.
The Baltimore House is owned by the US Government (specifically the
National Park Service), which acquired the property from Jesse Baltimore
in 1958. The Park Service subsequently transferred jurisdiction of the
property, but not ownership, to the city in 1971. Since then, the DC
Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has been responsible for
managing the property. A year ago, DPR proposed to demolish the house.
Since the home is on federal property and has been determined by
architectural experts to be a contributing structure to a potential
Palisades Historic District, the US Government cannot tear down the
house without conducting “Section 106” meetings to determine
alternative solutions to that proposal. Nearly 1,000 people have signed
letters of support to save the house from demolition. More than 700 of
these people live in the Palisades community. If you, too, would like to
sign a letter of support, we’d love to hear from you.
While the Jesse Baltimore House is not yet available for purchase,
Historic Washington Architecture would like to have the names of anyone
with a serious interest in buying it, should an opportunity arise. If DC
returns jurisdiction of the house to the National Park Service (as has
occurred with more than 500 properties since 1925), the Park Service has
the authority to sell the house on the open market with exterior
preservation easements. Such easements are designed to protect the
exterior from demolition, unrecognizable alteration and additions out of
scale with the original size of the house. The Jesse Baltimore House is
one of only about thirty positively identified Sears houses left in the
Palisades. To get on the list of interested buyers, please contact Mary
Rowse (MERowse@aol.com; 362-9279)
or Rachel Thompson (RachelWToo@aol.com;
CLASSIFIEDS — WANTED
Phil Shapiro, email@example.com
I’ve become fascinated with turn-of-the-century America and am
collecting items from 1999, 2000, and 2001. I’m especially interested
in turn-of-the-century clothing. Thanks for letting me know if you have
any of these packed away deep in the attic or basement. Perhaps
something passed on to you from a beloved granddaughter or grandson.
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