Sunday, October 21

DC SUNDAY

SAVING THE CAB INDUSTRY

THERE IS ONE WAY the city's cab industry might be saved from a takeover by big corporations - followed by fewer cabs and higher fares - and that is for the present drivers to organize a large cooperative that can compete with the carpet bagging corporations sure to come into DC. Cooperatives are not fool proof but they are a much better way of running something like a taxi industry in which the workers can only truly protect themselves if they are also owners. Further, having a large local cab cooperative would help undermine the possibility of a taxi oligopoly controlled by large corporations.


GREAT LETTERS FROM MARION BARRY'S OFFICE

October 16, 2007

Dear Mr. Jaffe:

Like many Washingtonians I had the misfortune of reading your column in The Examiner last Friday morning. It might have been considered mildly entertaining, were it not for the fact that it was so replete with errors, innuendos and out right lies. As a result of the factual inaccuracies and mean spirited tone, the column was nothing short of sad, inhumane and insensitive. It was a cheap shot and in poor taste. . .

Let me correct the record.

- Mayor Barry plead guilty to one count of failure to pay his taxes and is now paying the price. He is currently serving three years probation and paying $3,000 per month in back taxes.

- The watches and cufflinks were accumulated in the form of personal purchases and gifts from friends over a 20 year time frame, a time frame not covered by the tax case.

- During his career in public life, the Councilmember has prepared and submitted Financial Disclosure forms in a timely manner on all gifts subject to the Financial Disclosure law. As personal purchases or gifts from personal friends, not connected with his position as Mayor or Councilmember, the watches and cufflinks at issue here were not subject to the disclosure law.

- Mayor Barry has never indicated a desire to and has no intention of filing an insurance claim in this matter.

I resent the tone of the column primarily because it led the reader to believe that the Councilmember was trying to collect insurance for something that did not exist or was of less value than represented. Mayor Barry is probably one of the most photographed persons in the modern history of the District of Columbia and many of the watches and cufflinks in question can be easily identified in many of these photographs. Most people know of Mr. Barry‘s penchant for fine watches and cufflinks; it is in fact one of the distinguishing feature's of his wardrobe over the last 30 years. Your column simply seeks to re-write history for a new audience, not familiar with Mr. Barry's history.

Won't you at long last stop the Barry bashing that you have engaged in for the past 20 years? Don't you have other things to write about? Don't you have something better to do with your time? Besides, it's not as if you have been successful in your efforts to discredit him or destroy his career. He is still standing because people can and do read the cynical and small minded invective offered by you and your cohorts in the stop Barry crowd, as the flawed emotional wailings of people who are frustrated at their relative impotence and irrelevance in the public square. . .

Some misguided reporters over the years have erred on the side of trying to score a quick rhetorical victory against Mayor Marion Barry and have in return forfeited for their papers, all journalistic access to him. As a result of your efforts, this is now the fate of the Examiner. Until a retraction and suitable apology is printed in your paper, the reporters for the Examiner will now suffer for your miscalculation and will be denied access to the Councilmember. Messers Phelps, Smith and Hedges should have known better than to print your rude little column and I urge them to do better in the future.

Sincerely,

Keith Andrew Perry, Esq.
Chief of Staff
Former Mayor Marion Barry
Councilmember Ward 8


DC SHORTS

THE FIRST nine months of the Fenty administration have been characterized by personnel changes and not much else. Even the taxi fare shift is really a personnel change - an alteration of who gets to control the industry and drive the cabs. It will be interesting to see what he plans to do when he actually starts governing.

THOUGH NOWHERE NEAR as large as the Capitol Hill bunker (and visitors center when we're not under stack for policies approved on Capitol Hill), the proposed Vietnam Memorial Visitors' Center has shown a similar taste for expansionism. It started as a modest 1200 square foot education center and then moved up to a 25,000 square foot memory mall has now has leaped to 34,100 square feet. It will be near the Vietnam Memorial, whose impressive use of a simple wall sadly has taught planners and monument mavens nothing. According to the founder and president of the project, Jan Scruggs, its goal is "to teach America's youth about citizenship, duty, loyalty, honor," which is a little like teaching America's youth good planning and honest public statements with an Iraq War Memorial.

DC EXAMINER - Some drivers fear a meter system will portend more changes, such as the consolidation of their industry under a handful of well-financed cab companies. Driver Timmy Oluwa, for example, dreaded the loss of his independence much more than a flip to meters. "I'm shocked," said Motz Zarooq, a driver with Anacostia Cab. "I never expected [Fenty] to go that way." . . . Ward 1 D.C. Council Member Jim Graham, who has oversight of taxi matters, recommended that Fenty opt out. "I did not feel is was appropriate for the fare system to be decided by a lawmaker from another state," he said in an e-mail to constituents.

SINCE METERS ONLY cost a few hundred dollars, why did the Williams administration raise $350,000 from businesses for a pilot meter project involving only 24-32 cabs?


DC ALMANAC

THE HEIGHT LIMIT

DC HISTORY NET - Regulation of building heights in Washington dates back to the earliest days of the city--George Washington issued the first regulations in 1791, on Thomas Jefferson's advice. Washington and Jefferson each temporarily suspended the regulations. The next landmark came in July 1894 when the Commissioners of the District of Columbia issued new height regulations. T.F. Schneider had begun construction of the Cairo Apartment building in Spring 1894, starting in February--a building originally reported to be 120 feet but actually built to 160 feet. In 1897 (reported on April 11) C.B. Hunt and Snowden Ashford were appointed as a committee ". . . . to investigate maximum height of buildings consistent with health, safety and comfort that should be permitted." In 1899 Congress enacted them into statute. In 1910 this law was revised, providing the basis of current laws. In 1920 the Zoning Commission was created, which enacted height and bulk limits. In 1930 Congress enacted the Shipstead-Luce Act giving the Commission of Fine Arts jurisdiction over buildings adjacent to public buildings and land. Zoning regulations were revised in 1956. Note that the height of the Capitol and Washington Monument are not cited in any legislation or hearings.

TIMELINE AND BIBLIOGRAPHY


DC TIMELINE

1850

Becomes illegal to bring slaves into the city for sale but slaves owned by District families can still be sold.

The C&O Canal finally reaches Cumberland, MD, at a cost of $11 million


DC BOOKS

FREE AGENTS: A HISTORY OF DC GRAFITTI

An acclaimed young artist takes readers on a visual journey through the colorful streets of D.C., featuring the hit-and-run stories of the city's most notorious graffiti artists. Candid interviews reveal their motivations, offering glimpses into a unique lifestyle and an underappreciated art form.


BULLETIN BOARD

THRU NOVEMBER 9

EAST OF THE RIVER: Continuity and Change is a documentation and exhibition project that looks at the community life of neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River on the occasion of the Anacostia Community Museum's 40th anniversary. The exhibit, occupying all three of the Museum's galleries, explores the development of Washington communities east of the Anacostia River from a provocative yet universal perspective --- the struggle over land: who owns it, who controls it, who profits from it and how residents determine their own destiny. The timeline covers the region's Native American beginning through the present and into possible futures


READER COMMENTS


CARL - [Fenty] is going to meters when the rest of the world is going to more sophisticated systems. There are any number of GPS based systems that could make life better for everyone. For example, the city could run a dispatch system that would show the driver where the next fares are. Independent cabbies could be preserved by having the city sell the equipment over time. Obviously, Mayor Sneaker is not interested in these little guys. He has more important things to do like losing our soccer team.

CAB SPOTTING

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