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By now, thanks to Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher, you may have already mustered a certain amount of righteous outrage at the antics of stickler advisory neighborhood commissioner Frank Winstead. Barbara Meade and Carla Cohen, the owners of the venerable Politics and Prose bookstore, however, seem to have just gathered theirs. This came out in their weekly newsletter last night:
Every once in a while we get an abrupt reminder that we live in a jurisdiction where small business is not respected or encouraged. When we first opened across the street, there was no government agency that could advise us on what we needed to do. Then, after we made the applications we needed to, we could not get an occupancy permit, no matter how many times we called or went down to the office responsible for that. The process simply stopped somewhere in the Office of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs. We were fined and we started over again, but the certificate was never issued at our first location.
A few years ago we were infuriated when, as a D.C. business, we had to pay a surtax for the new stadium. The rationale: the stadium would help businesses in the District of Columbia. We fail to see how the baseball stadium helps Politics and Prose, but perhaps we are just missing something.
The latest irrationality occurred when an inspector visited us last week and told us we had to remove the bench in front of our store or pay for a permit. The bench, which is used by our employees eating lunch, or by people accompanied by strollers or dogs, or occasionally by the homeless, seems harmless. But the inspector told us it had to be gone the next day or….
Apparently this latest problem is occasioned by a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Council who went to war to get rid of all the outside chairs and tables on our block. As many of you know, the sidewalk is very wide in front of our buildings so there is no problem walking there even with sidewalk fixtures. And we think lots of activity on the sidewalk—sitting, eating, and playing—make our block more lively and fun. But Mr. Frank Winstead doesn’t, and he has made it his personal mission to eliminate everything. You can write to Mr. Frank Winstead and express your opinion of his mission: firstname.lastname@example.org.