Score one for the Rev. Post. Ohio State University today suspended the games and practices of the student female rugby club for its members’ high crime of taking their shirts off near a photographer from the nation’s capital’s paper of record. One alarmed Post story later, the students were, well, busted—and D.C.’s uptight reputation was just a bit more thoroughly cemented.
More bad news for the rituals of youth: Not only can’t you take off your shirt, but you can’t hit the highway the way you used to, either. Not if you’re under 18, at any rate. Those party-poopers on the D.C. Council today passed the region’s most stringent limits on under-18 driver’s licenses. Younguns can protest by spinning a doughnut in Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson’s yard. Just so long as they have no more than two non-family members in the car.
Maybe forcing 16-year-olds to have the family Honda Civic home early is an underhanded effort to get more of them to ride Metro, whose new later hours—the rails are now open ’til the cosmopolitan hour of 1 a.m.!—got off to a rocky start this weekend. Less than two-thirds of the projected number of riders rode the late-night rails. Transit officials say they think more will ride once the media publicize the experimental new hours. Here goes: Hey, Metro riders! After a long night of drinking in D.C., you now have one extra hour to walk an inordinately long way to a station in order to catch a train that will eventually take you somewhere near your home in Gaithersburg!
Oops! A week to go before the majority of the University of the District of Columbia trustees’ terms end, and guess whose homework got eaten by the dog? Mayor Williams—who proposed selling the school’s campus last spring—had neglected to nominate any successors as of today.
And as Williams dithers over one local sacred cow, he makes awkward progress on another: placating career bureaucrats. The mayor—who famously sacked a couple hundred staffers in 1996—today said he was ready with bonuses for a work force that hasn’t seen raises in years. But there’s a catch: He’s also going to make some of them compete against the private sector for contracts.
One contract that’s already gone to the private sector: spying on us. The police department announced today that nine new Lockheed Martin traffic-infraction cameras would be put up at intersections around town in the next month.
What’s the police budget this year for deadbolts? Without any help at all from spy cameras, a WTOP reporter walked through an unlocked back door of a police station, hung around for a while, and strolled into a room featuring a bucket of guns. Only after striking up a conversation near the unguarded weaponry was the reporter finally asked what the hell she was doing there.
When someone with the last name Barry wins a D.C. Council seat next year, we can thank our good friends at the FBI. Just when the city seemed to have exhausted its appetite for the former mayor, the feds proved that all those conspiracy theories he used to cite were….true! Channel 4 broke the news today that back in early 1998, as Barry was contemplating retirement, agents recruited a dirty cop to sting him for bribery. The plan fell apart—but not because Barry had never even been suspected of taking bribes. In case any of the tone-deaf knuckleheads who planned the sting are reading, here’s a history of what might have happened had this story broken back when it happened: May 1998—no Barry retirement speech. Summer 1998—Democratic primary featuring race-baiting, fed-bashing, and conspiracy-mongering. Today—Mayor Barry.
And also: Metro is being even nicer to people! The transit system today announced rider-friendly improvements, such as allowing people to use farecards on buses. A more basic question remains unanswered: What time is my fucking S2 bus going to get here?
More federal law enforcement boneheadedness: The Park Police arrested a woman today for driving into Dupont Circle to serve food to the homeless. Predictable round of rationalizations, apologies, and amends to follow.
At each State of the Union Address, one cabinet member stays away in case disaster strikes the Capitol. You can only hope it was the same way with D.C.’s community-kvetch population at today’s kickoff of Williams’ Neighborhood Action summit. Otherwise, if a deranged Department of Public Works employee had slammed a malfunctioning snowplow packed with TNT into the convention center, who would have been left alive to file a Freedom of Information Act request to see the explosives’ procurement contract? Williams pronounced the event “a beginning, not an end,” meaning we’ll get to see the planning collaboration in action a few more times before Williams inevitably stiffs its recommendations.
A baby gorilla was born at the National Zoo today.
You’ve got to hand it to David Goodrich. Just when it seemed D.C.’s petty thievery, small-scale blunders, and other wacky hi-jinx had given way to a city obsessed with wonky number-crunching, the police sergeant went and stole $1,600 worth of perfume confiscated during a chop-shop raid. At trial, Goodrich’s defense claimed he was ignorant of laws making it wrong to sell it at $1 a bottle to fellow cops. The so-called idiot defense didn’t work: Goodrich was sentenced today to 135 days in jail.
And also: A fabled event out of D.C.’s athletic past stinks, too. Or so claims legendary Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh, who told Channel 7 today that he thinks teammates may have thrown the 1940 NFL championship game, in which the Chicago Bears pasted his Skins 73-0.
Rough sailing ahead. A handful of Kosovo-quality streets downtown, as discovered by the Post, gave the lie to Williams’ promise that all of that downtown cable-industry roadwork would be done by Thanksgiving. The street work will now be delayed until January in order to ease life for downtown Christmas shoppers. Great! Your gift-buying excursion to Hard Rock Cafe, the Discovery Channel Store, and whatever other retail outlets the office-builders have allowed downtown will be that much easier! Meantime, there’s no word yet on whether Williams will provide public halftracks to get the rest of us up to the neighborhood 7-Eleven.
Everybody ate turkey.
Hsing-Hsing has sung. The National Zoo’s sole surviving giant panda died today. We like the zoo visitor who told reporters that she’d told her disappointed kids that the aging bear ran away. Maybe he was heading to Potomac Mills with the rest of the holiday-shopping masses.
We want to run away, too, pretty much any time members of the elected school board get near a microphone. As the D.C. Council bandied about ideas for downsizing the historically inept board, or even making it an appointed body, school boarders used today’s hearing to denounce their critics as racist, undemocratic, and just plain mean. Ooh! The board members’ claims to being tough educational watchdogs were marred by things like Ward 4 rep Dwight Singleton’s error-laden written statement, where he referred—among other things—to the D.C. Pubic Schools.—Michael Schaffer