- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2000

Starbucks' coffee will grow cold waiting for bakery site

The interesting article about the Capitol Hill "institution," Sherrill's Bakery, reportedly going out of business reminded me of two quotations ("Gluttons for punishment sad to see diner go," May 6). The first comes from Mark Twain after newspapers erroneously ran his obituary: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," he wrote to the Associated Press. I just got off the phone with Dorothy "Dottie" Polito, one of the two sisters who own this American treasure. Sherrill's will be around for some time to come, she said. Dottie said she and her sister will not sell to anyone who wants to replace Sherrill's Bakery with a Starbucks cafe.

As long as Starbucks is anywhere in the picture, real estate agents should not let the door hit them on the way out, she told me. Sherrill's patrons know that when Dottie says something, that's the way it is.

The second quote comes from former Rep. Brooks Hays, a friend, who often ate at Sherrill's. Mr. Hays was famous for his good jokes. Once, I asked him if his stories and jokes were true. "Neil, never sour the sweetness of a good story with the vinegar of truth," he replied. So, I won't spoil the famous story about Dottie's mother, Lola Revis, being hit in the face with a cake by an irate customer. It's a much better story not knowing the patron's aim was off.

As for myself, I'm going to rediscover Sherrill's. I've had many a memorable meal there, and it isn't the food that made it so it is Sherrill's people. That's why congressmen eat there. Nobody at Sherrill's is in danger of kowtowing to any of them. It's democracy in action: They get yelled at along with the rest of us. (I was once loudly chided for not finishing my biscuit.) Those familiar with Sherrill's staff know they are best compared to a cactus prickly on the outside, soft on the inside. From Dottie, to her sister Kathyleen Milton, to their mother, Lola, to the cleaning man, being groused at by lovable curmudgeons is all the fun (and half the experience) of eating at Sherrill's.

Alka Seltzer after the meatloaf is the other half.



D.C. Council member sets the record straight on summer school

I regret that your editorial "Give D.C. students a choice" (May 3) misrepresented my views on summer school as now configured in the D.C. public schools. I said, and wrote, the following in the D.C. Council Education Committee report:

"As the legislative body that evaluates and approves school system budgets, the Council has a responsibility to ask whether the currently configured Summer STARS program should continue, particularly given the [academic evaluation] findings. Summer school as enrichment or a place for students to go free of charge is certainly desirable, but whether continuing to spend public funds in this manner when local schools are crying for school-year enhancements like reading specialists and counselors and librarians is an open question."

As long as we are not funding local school needs adequately during the school year, we should not divert funds for what all too often becomes summertime child care. Yes, children should have activities and a place to go in the summer, but is that a core responsibility of the school system? It is the council's job to set priorities through the budget process. I will continue to urge my colleagues to make the hard choices, including pressing the D.C. public schools to fulfill their core mission for the sake of all of our children.


Ward 3 member

D.C. Council


Congressman's behavior better suited for the other side of the aisle

The Washington Times offers an interesting reference concerning Rep. George Nethercutt, Washington Republican, in the Inside Politics column "Nethercutt's attack" (May 5). When Mr. Nethercutt first ran for Congress he agreed to self-imposed term limits and promised voters that he would leave office after serving three terms as their representative. Mr. Nethercutt seems to have changed his mind now that it is time for him to honor his promise.

Mr. Nethercutt is upset that the group U.S. Term Limits would actually expect him to live up to his campaign promise and has released ads calling him on it. Mr. Nethercutt has decided to counter with a radio ad that says U.S. Term Limits Executive Director Paul Jacob "is a convicted felon who served a long prison sentence." As it turns out, Mr. Jacob, as a matter of principle, refused to register for the draft in 1980 because he didn't believe in compulsory military service. Mr. Jacob adhered to his principles despite the fact that he would be required to spend "5* months in prison … after refusing to register for the draft."

Please compare Mr. Jacob's principled stance and personal sacrifice to the actions of President Clinton, who once signed up for the ROTC in an effort to avoid the draft, and then reneged on his commitment after he determined that he would was no longer likely to be drafted. Since this column has shown that Mr. Nethercutt is an unprincipled, self-serving hypocrite, I suggest that Mr. Nethercutt would find himself more at home as a Democrat.



Arguments against medical marijuana up in smoke

James McDonough does make some valid points in his column on medical marijuana, but he fails to consider a number of points, too ("Science vs. the pot smoking pitch," Commentary, May 4).

First, while inhaling smoke of any kind is obviously not healthy, for the people suffering from cancer, AIDS or other conditions that may benefit from marijuana, inhaling smoke is the least of their problems. In addition, for those suffering the severe nausea that accompanies chemotherapy or complications from AIDS and cannot swallow the pill form of marijuana, smoking a joint is the quickest and most efficient way to quell the nausea. How can a pill help if the patient cannot keep it down?

Second, although reduced sperm or testosterone levels may be a result of heavy marijuana usage, again, for someone suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or any of the numerous conditions that could be eased by marijuana, it hardly seems worthwhile to be worried about such trivial side effects. The reduced chance of conceiving a child is hardly a concern for someone in constant pain.

The problems Mr. McDonough describes in the conflict between state and federal laws, as well as the lack of regulation in the California cannabis clubs, can be easily remedied if the federal government allows doctors to begin prescribing marijuana without being subjected to the possibility of arrest. Once doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana, the need for unregulated cannabis clubs will be gone. Far more dangerous substances are currently prescribed by physicians. There are no valium clubs or morphine clubs for the simple reason that they are not necessary. With proper regulation and supervision, the incidents of underage patients or those who have questionable need for marijuana will disappear.

Finally, what Mr. McDonough overlooks is the fact that the government will not allow the additional research needed to develop safer, more effective methods of delivering the useful substances contained in marijuana. The Institute of Medicine has called for further study, but the organization has been denied the marijuana needed for such research. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, White House drug policy director, has stated that the useful ingredients in marijuana could conceivably be delivered through an inhaler, similar to that used by asthma sufferers. Yet, trials necessary to develop such inhalers has not moved forward.

In the end, until safer methods of delivering the beneficial substances contained in marijuana are developed, smoking marijuana is the only relief for critically ill patients, most of whom are willing to suffer the relatively insignificant side effects to relive the pain and nausea they endure every day.



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