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As she commenced Tuesday’s legislative session, D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp presented three of her council colleagues with presents. She offered the engraved crystal bowls as small tokens of appreciation for those councilmembers’ “years of hard work and dedicated service.”
Indeed, in the last few weeks, as those years drew to a close, LL watched this dedicated service to D.C. residents with a certain nostalgia.
•Dec. 7, for example, would be one of the last times mayoral staffers, in desperation because they have no other council ally, called upon At-Large Councilmember Harold Brazil to bumble through a series of amendments to legislation the administration opposed.
•Dec. 14 would be one of the last council sessions in which Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans would unintentionally blurt into the microphone, “Where’s Kevin?” when Ward 7 Councilmember Kevin P. Chavous was once again absent from the D.C. Council chamber for a vote.
•Dec. 21 would be the final time that major legislation—in this case, the ballpark-financing package—passed through the council without meaningful input from Ward 8 Councilmember Sandy Allen.
In September’s Democratic primary, D.C. voters gave the heave-ho to these three pols, whose antics have frequently animated this column.
LL isn’t too forlorn, however; we didn’t endorse the re-election of any of these folks. In fact, LL’s confident that the new members of the council will do their best to contribute: This fall’s elections ushered in the return of Mayor-for-Life Marion S. Barry Jr. to D.C. politics and these pages, as well as the arrival of newcomers Kwame Brown and Vincent C. Gray.
In addition to a memorable Election Day, this past year offered LL many other column riches: a lead-in-the-water crisis, a voter initiative to build a privately financed slots emporium on New York Avenue NE, and legislation to build a publicly financed stadium for rich Major League Baseball owners, to name just a few.
So, herewith, LL’s holiday gifts to those who have given so much to our column in 2004:
D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp
“Cropps” baseball jerseys, cursive “C” hats
The usually innocuous council leader turned into the most controversial player in local sports this fall, outdoing even benched Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell. Her eleventh-hour, out-of-nowhere, headline-grabbing alterations to the baseball-stadium deal angered the mayor, baseball officials, and assorted Washington Post Sports and Metro columnists. The last group, especially, claimed that Cropp took a populist stand on baseball to boost her political career.
Although Cropp and her colleagues ended up approving a Major League Baseball–pleasing stadium package before Christmas, the newly empowered chairman might have other schemes in store to swamp the baseball deal and keep the spotlight. To co-opt Cropp, LL has this solution for MLB relocation honcho Jerry Reinsdorf: Change the name of D.C.’s new sports team from the “Nationals” to the “Cropps.” According to LL’s reading of the sacrosanct document between the city and Major League Baseball, the “Cropps” wouldn’t violate any section of the baseball-stadium agreement and would give the council chairman a victory in name only.
Major League Baseball
Commissioner Bud Selig
Round-trip ride to Dulles Airport during rush hour in At-Large Councilmember
Carol Schwartz’s Jaguar
At one point during Dec. 14’s legislative session on baseball, Schwartz pooh-poohed the notion that Selig and the other robber barons of MLB would be just as happy building a stadium near Dulles. “Have you ever tried to get to Loudoun County at game time…with all the D.C. residents on Route 66?” asked Schwartz from the dais. “Take them on the road so they can go and then let them see how appealing Loudoun County will be for all those evening games.” While trapped inside the golden-hued Jag, crawling between Leesburg Pike and Route 123 one weekday evening, Selig will have plenty of time to iron out lease-agreement provisions, insurance for cost overruns, and just how many vendors will sell Hebrew National hot dogs with the D.C. Council fashionista.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Rustler Rope Co. Outlaw model
From his school-governance legislation to the ballpark-financing package, Williams had a hard time this year keeping track of council votes on his key initiatives. Made from the highest-quality nylon fibers, the Outlaw will help Williams lasso a majority of councilmembers and hold ’em in place.
D.C. Chamber of Commerce
President Barbara Lang
Battleship, Anacostia River version
Williams: “You sunk my battleship!”
Lang has launched torpedoes at two of the mayor’s biggest initiatives involving redevelopment along his beloved Anacostia River: In February, the business leader led an insurgent campaign against the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, the mayor’s long-term vision for reviving our city’s waterfront, by challenging the Williams administration’s need to create a separate corporation to manage the project. Then, in early November, Lang led a revolt against a proposed increase in the gross-receipts tax, the key revenue stream in the mayor’s ballpark-financing package. Lang’s boisterous uprising helped convince Cropp to change her position on the baseball-stadium deal and put the mayor’s legacy in jeopardy.
Ward 4 Councilmember Adrian M. Fenty
A 40-ounce bottle of PBR
LL could scrounge up only enough change to buy the NIMBY mayoral wannabe one tall cold one from Decatur Liquors on Georgia Avenue NW.
WASA General Manager Jerry N. Johnson
Deer Park water delivery
LL raises a glass of this pure, natural spring water to the embattled D.C. Water and Sewer Authority chief. Multiple Post front-page stories on his agency’s poor handling of the lead crisis, Congressional inquiries, and even tongue-lashings from D.C. Council Committee on Public Works and the Environment Chair Schwartz didn’t knock Johnson out of office.
At-Large Councilmember Harold Brazil
RoadRunner custom cell-phone ear mold and earpiece
Without a council staff to rely on for phone messages, not to mention emergency representation down at D.C. Superior Court, the now-full-time ambulance chaser will need this labor-saving high-tech device. As champion of D.C.’s Responsible Use of Cell Phones Act, Brazil wouldn’t want to blemish his post-council career getting caught with his cellie up to his ear while driving to interview his next auto-accident victim.
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips attorney
The three-time mayoral loser almost hit the jackpot this year: Ray billed more than $100,000 in legal fees as counsel for the Video Lottery Terminal Initiative of 2004. Bankrolled by offshore financiers, Ray battled D.C. elections watchdog Dorothy Brizill in an attempt to put a measure supporting slots on the November ballot. The effort came up craps when the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics threw out many of the petitions to place the initiative on the ballot, citing circulation irregularities.
Ward 7 Councilmember Kevin P. Chavous
Copyright for slogan “I’ll be a mayor for around town, not downtown”
With this slogan, Chavous received 35 percent of the popular vote and a second-place finish in the 1998 mayor’s race. He has invoked the phrase on occasion over the last six years to attack the Williams administration. Now other mayoral wannabes have been heard mimicking this less-than-winning refrain. Bereft of his council salary, Chavous will appreciate the royalties.
Ward 8 Councilmember-Elect
Marion S. Barry Jr.
A $92,000 publicly financed salary, staff at his beck and call, a health-care plan, and an adoring local press corps to write down his every word. LL can think of only one thing for the pol who seems to have it all back: An $8,000 bonus, so the mayor-for-life can retain his “six-figure” bond-trader salary. Plus, the extra cash can help Barry pay his bills, so he won’t need H.R. Crawford and other friends to chip in next year.
Metropolitan Police Department
Chief Charles H. Ramsey
Ballou Senior High School locker
Following the slaying of a Ballou student in the school’s halls, Ramsey heard citywide calls for turning his officers into schoolhouse security drones. He even drew up a school-deployment plan, which he’d prefer never to act upon. Perhaps he should leave it at the bottom of his new hidy-hole.
Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham
On almost every piece of legislation, Graham seems to put his vote up for bid. LL proposes a more efficient system for Williams-administration officials, lobbyists, and Graham’s council colleagues: eBay, the online auctioneer. Just register the bill on the Web and let everyone put in his best offer for Graham’s yea or nay.
Activist Adam Eidinger
Ezy-Care eyeglass sports band
Next time the 31-year-old statehood activist gets in a tussle—whether over baseball with 76-year-old former Washington Senators announcer Charlie Brotman or over D.C. voting rights with 65-year-old D.C. Shadow Representative and Democratic rival Ray Browne—this easily adjustable, lightweight elastic band will keep Eidinger’s trademark black-framed glasses in place.
At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania
Howard Dean 2008 Mug
Around this time last year, President George W. Bush designated Catania a “maverick” for raising more than $50,000 for his re-election. Since then, Catania has renounced Bush for his stance on gay marriage, authored legislation to bust up Big Pharma in an attempt to lower prescription drug prices, and changed his party affiliation to Independent. LL sees a possible D.C. chair for Dean’s 2008 campaign.
Ward 5 Councilmember
Vincent B. Orange Sr.
Hitachi mini DVD camcorder
The mayoral hopeful needs to update his autobiographic documentary, A Man on a Mission, so LL offers this innovation of modern technology to chronicle all the expected highlights of 2005: grand marshal of the D.C. Emancipation Day parade, the big birthday party at Dream, and a few more lavish breakfasts paid for by his mayoral exploratory committee.
D.C. Public Schools
Superintendent Clifford B. Janey
Tamko plastic roof cement
Leaky roofs have repeatedly embarrassed Janey’s predecessors, so the hands-on superintendent might want to keep a bucket or two of this in his office, just in case.
City Administrator Robert C. Bobb
The Law of Eminent Domain in the United States
Bobb will likely need to keep this handy legal guide under his arm in the coming year as he roams the area around South Capitol and M Streets SE in his flashy cowboy boots. Along this corridor, Bobb and other Williams-administration officials will exercise government authority to kick out property owners in the way of a new baseball stadium. With this guide as inspiration, Bobb can claim long fly balls to center as a “public use” and gobble up precious property.—Elissa Silverman
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