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May Day! Another year gone, and capitalism still intact.
Even the laziest reporter in town can count on one trusty source of commentary: his friendly neighborhood cabbie. Starting next April, though, hacks who quote hacks may have to buy themselves some semaphore flags. The D.C. Taxicab Commission today ordered all taxi drivers to install plastic partitions to ward off would-be muggers. Cabbies who hope their witty banter will help them pull in bigger tips, though, can rest assured: There’s an option of installing a video camera or an exterior warning light instead.
Those cabbies—and everyone else who drives, too—can look forward to another design change as well. The D.C. Council today signed off on a new slogan for city license plates: Taxation Without Representation. So now when you wheel your beat-up Subaru into the Montgomery Mall parking lot, you won’t just be making an economic statement about District retail variety—you’ll also be making a political statement that should educate those suburbanites about the great injustice across the District line.
Frightening statistic of the day: According to results released today, Democratic runner-up and hardy perennial Lyndon LaRouche got more votes (741) in yesterday’s D.C. presidential primary than Republican runner-up John McCain (554).
Oliver T. Carr might get outpolled by Larouche, too. The development kingpin tore down acres of historic downtown D.C. to turn the old city into a faceless glass-and-concrete hell. Today, though, Carr retired. Unfortunately, unlike a politician, he’s allowed to leave an heir: Carr’s son will take over his company.
Park rangers caught a deer at the Lincoln Memorial at 3 p.m. this afternoon. The little Bambi was tranquilized and then removed to a quieter locale—like, say, one of the downtown streets that the Carrs denuded of residents and commerce and turned into office-block mausoleums on weekends.
Last month, of course, some of those ultramodern streets were famously bustling with pedestrians—and tear gas canisters. Today, the Senate OK’d allocating $4 million to reimburse the city’s Metropolitan Police Department for its work battling protesters who’d come to thwart the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings. That makes approximately $1 for each half-hearted revolutionary chant to which cops were exposed.
And also: more march-on-Washington madness. As of today, the FBI is investigating the alleged theft of $750,000 from the Millennium March, the big gay-rights demonstration.
Do you read the fine print of your power bill? Apparently PEPCO officials don’t, either. Because this month’s bills erroneously gave the power company’s HEAT hotline an 800 prefix instead of an 888 prefix, callers with billing questions wound up listening in on a sex line. Wrong kind of heat.
Neither pepper spray nor grand theft marred today’s Million Mom March. Not that the moms could have done much about it: They were unarmed.
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But the spectacle of Rosie O’Donnell decrying gun violence apparently doesn’t have locals jumping to ditch that old Saturday night special. Whereas last year’s Metropolitan Police Department gun-buyback program broke records, this year’s program ended today after anonymous citizens turned in just 1,737 of the 7,000 guns the buyback was expected to net. But there was one piece of good news: Although most of the guns purchased for $50 were junky old things that barely worked, one was an 1874 revolver estimated at $20,000. At this rate, the gun buyback will be making a profit before too long.
Happy Armed Forces Day. Did you watch your Major Dad reruns?
If you thought Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling were cute, wait’ll the National Zoo’s new pandas arrive. The old bears, after all, came for free when Nixon opened up to China. The new guys, on the other hand, will cost us a million bucks a year. And we expect to see every cent of it paid back via increased Panda House cuteness, cuddliness, and loveable hi-jinks.
Juror Ivory L. Teague Jr. apparently threatened to pull a Hsing-Hsing himself today. Unfortunately, he wasn’t wowing fellow jurors at D.C. Superior Court with his photogenic antics but was instead allegedly threatening to replicate the time Hsing-Hsing mauled Ling-Ling—unless the panelists switched their votes to a lesser charge in the hit-and-run case against Shane DeLeon. After Teague allegedly delivered such zingers to the foreman as “Your momma’s an ass,” jurors switched. The case is under investigation.
Movie-conscious tourists who come to Washington are often disappointed to find out that D.C. Cab is a fictional firm. But fans of Mr. T’s cinematic oeuvre might be pleased with the big airline deal that came down today. And Robert Johnson’s new DC Air doesn’t just sound like the rinky-dink cab company of Hollywood fame: It may run like it, too. Plans call for a “virtual” airline with rented planes, pilots, and staff.
Who knows: Maybe some D.C. natives will actually be skilled enough to be pilots for DC Air some day. D.C. Public Schools officials announced today that test scores had gone up for a fourth straight year. Unfortunately, so had Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s dander: By the time this news hit, she had quit to take a job in San Francisco.
And one has to assume that the perky crew of Cuban youngsters will push those scores even higher—if only in the fashion category. Elian Gonzales and his bandanna-necked, school-uniformed Cuban playmates, bored with life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, today took up residence in Cleveland Park. Score another one for D.C.’s positive new image.
Alas, the world may be obsessed with young Elian, but it’s apparently not going to follow his lead. Forbes magazine’s Best Places 2000 issue has ranked Washington the 43rd best place to live in the country, down from 21st a year ago. D.C. officials say they’re not worried, because the survey—which factors in degrees of change in things like salary and job growth—is skewed against large metropolitan areas, where bigger population means less rapid change. Baltimore, for instance, finished 146th. And Wye River, in case you’re curious, didn’t make the survey. —Michael Schaffer