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“Fair warning is fair play.”
On Aug. 26, Colbert I. King took to the Washington Post opinion page in another attempt to wrest D.C. politics from the grip of modernity. This time, the deputy editor of the Post editorial page lashed out at the trend of candidates and/or their supporters doing personal opposition research. The lament was brought about by the anonymous deliverance to King of a 146-page dossier on mayoral candidate Adrian Fenty. It was given to him, he writes, by “a longtime supporter of council chairman and mayoral hopeful Linda Cropp.”
While some of his ire is directed at the Cropp campaign and others that might muck up the D.C. political scene, he reserves his real scorn for members of the media that play along. And not just any media: King, it turns out, was largely referring to his own paper’s reporters.
Here’s the shot across the bow of the Metro desk: “Between now and Election Day, other anti-Fenty stories may turn up in the media. It’s a good bet that some of them will be based on information in the dossier. The only question is whether news organizations, if they use the information, will disclose to the public that the source is a Fenty opponent. Or will they pretend they dug it up on their own? Never mind, I’m not the ombudsman or a news editor.”
King wouldn’t have to wait long for his question to be answered. The same day the column ran, the Metro section fronted a story by Yolanda Woodlee that looked as though it could have come from the opposition dossier—with no explanation of where its info originated.
King says he didn’t know Woodlee’s piece was coming out the same day but was aware that Metro reporters were working on the story and probably wouldn’t follow his advice. “They said they wouldn’t discuss their sources with me and, I assume, in the paper as well,” he says. A Post source says that Woodlee’s story did not originate from the dossier, but from a tip (or is that “tip”?) that led her to search civil records in Montgomery County. Woodlee wouldn’t comment about the chastising.
Just as King knew the story was in the works, he says the reporters also knew their knuckle-rapping was around the corner. “I told them what the thrust of my column would be,” says King. “Fair warning is fair play.”
Posted by Ryan Grim on Monday, Aug. 28, at 4:22 p.m.
Bikes for the World has a problem: Its bikes are too nice. The nonprofit’s mission is to collect donated bikes here and ship them over to Africa. It’s already sent more than 7,000 this year, says director Keith Oberg. The organization prefers to send mountain bikes, he says, considering that many roads in Africa make your average District streets look as smooth as a runway. Top-shelf road bikes, then, aren’t appropriate. Why send a thousand-dollar set of wheels across the Atlantic where it’ll just get trashed in a few weeks?
So the organization figured it would sell its best road bikes and use the cash to buy mountain bikes, parts, and whatnot to support its operation. Problem is, the lease it has for its free digs in the Waterside Mall doesn’t allow for retail.
The big sale was scheduled for Aug. 22. By 6:30 p.m., about a dozen people had already arrived to snap up a cheap bike, responding to a Craigslist posting. But then some customers got lost on the way and called mall security for directions. And that was it for the bike sale—security came by and shut down the fundraiser.
“This was gonna be an informal thing, but a lot of people showed up,” said Oberg. “I totally blew it. I hope I didn’t blow our lease.”
Later, the mall’s management company called him to say there was no problem. “Things are real cool,” he says. Mall spokesperson Mara Olguin confirms that all is cool.
Posted by Ryan Grim on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 3:31 p.m.