Recently on the del.cio.us sidebar I linked to a very funny article called “How to Cheat Good.” Written by university professor Alex Halavais, it offers tips for cheating on papers without making the mistakes his students so often do. My favorite tip is the blatantly obvious number eight:
8. Edit > Paste Special > Unformatted Text
This is my Number 1 piece of advice, even if it is numbered eight. When you copy things from the web into Word, ignoring #3 above, don’t just “Edit > Paste” it into your document. When I am reading a document in black, Times New Roman, 12pt, and it suddenly changes to blue, Helvetica, 10pt (yes, really), I’m going to guess that something odd may be going on. This seems to happen in about 1% of student work turned in, and periodically makes me feel like becoming a hermit.
Which brings me to the email I received this morning from Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan. He is the first of the government officials to respond to a lengthy email I sent them about Barry’s Magic Shop and the county’s use of eminent domain. It would not have taken me long after starting to read it that this was a form letter failing to address half the things I wrote about it. An even bigger giveaway, however, was that “Dear Mr. Grier:” was in bright blue type while the rest of the text was black.
I don’t mind getting a form letter. I understand that when you spend your time eminent domaining people, you probably have to deal with a lot of email. I’d just like to see a little effort, you know?
So anyway, that’s the unintentionally funny part of the correspondence. And I’m actually glad he’s got this form letter made up, because at least that means he’s getting enough emails about Barry’s to make it worth writing one.
I’ve copied the letter beneath the fold if you’d like to read it. There’s nothing really new here, just more of the county’s reasons for why a bigger alley would be nice and no mention of eminent domain.
Dear Mr. Grier:
Thank you for your recent correspondence concerning Barry’s Magic Shop located in downtown Wheaton. I assure you that Montgomery County is working diligently to keep Barry’s Magic Shop in the Wheaton community where it has been an important business for so many years. After years of planning and negotiation, Montgomery County recently purchased the freestanding building in which Barry’s Magic Shop is located at 11234 Georgia Avenue. The building is a converted wood frame residential structure that is sandwiched between two important retail centers that front Georgia Avenue, one of the main streets of the Wheaton Central Business District. This building is slated for demolition and will complete an important pedestrian connection between the west side of Georgia Avenue and the public parking lot located in the Wheaton Triangle.
The purchase of this property to accommodate the walkway has been planned by the County for more than 12 years, and has been included in plans since the early 1990s. The completion of the pathway is a key component for providing a safer and more accessible pedestrian circulation system in downtown Wheaton. We recognize that Barry’s Magic Shop is one of Wheaton’s most unique businesses and has a long-standing and loyal clientele. It is our fervent wish to retain this one-of-a-kind business in our downtown. The staff of the Wheaton Redevelopment Office is working very hard to relocate this important and well known Wheaton business within the Central Business District.
County staff has advised the owner of Barry’s Magic Shop that funds are available to assist the business in relocating, and staff will continue to work with the owner to provide available relocation assistance. The assistance offered includes help in finding a nearby and convenient location for the business; moving assistance; temporary storage of merchandise; rental assistance; and related financial help to ease the pain of relocating a business. We are hopeful that the owner will take advantage of this assistance and use this opportunity for a fresh start that will revitalize the business to serve the magic needs of this and future generations of Montgomery County residents. We hope that you will encourage the owner to keep the business in Wheaton and that you will continue to support Barry’s Magic Shop in a new location.
The community’s need for a safe and accessible pedestrian connection between the public parking lot and the shops on Georgia Avenue is an overriding public consideration. I believe that a pedestrian friendly downtown is very important to the overall success of the County’s program to revitalize downtown Wheaton. With proper lighting, the walkway will be much safer and functional for evening use by downtown patrons.
I appreciate your taking the time to share your support for keeping Barry’s Magic Shop in Wheaton.
Douglas M. Duncan