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One Twelfth

A Scary Start and a Ghoulish Finish

October 4.

Tired of losing your parking space night after night to that frat boy in a white baseball cap who drives a Tercel with Virginia tags? As of today, the law’s on your side. D.C. and Virginia shook on a deal to make it harder for District residents to register their cars in the ‘burbs and thus avoid the city’s hefty registration fees. There is one important drawback for status-conscious locals: You may now have to face up to the fact that the frat boy is a District resident—just like you. The tax base’s gain is our municipal hipness quotient’s loss.

October 5.

And how are we spending some of those newly garnered civic gains? Tennis, anyone? With just two dissenting votes, the D.C. Council today approved $3.7 million in funding for a tennis and learning center pushed by former D.C. First Lady Cora Masters Barry. Barry’s Recreation Wish List group had initially vowed to raise the money privately, but it turned to the sugar daddy of D.C. governance when fundraising tanked.

Meanwhile, just a couple days back, a Prince George’s County planning board OK’d rich guy Kenneth D. Brody’s plans to spearhead fundraising for a similar $5.5 million center across the District line. Mr. Brody will raise money for his bright idea all by his lonesome.

October 6.

D.C. is accustomed to hosting all manner of statesmen, scholars, and jet-setters. Today, we welcomed the sort of visitor you don’t see every day: The relics of St. Therese of Lisieux. Devotees lined up hours early for masses in honor of the popular 19th-century nun.

Next: Hospitality industry demands economic-development subsidy for disinterment of religious heroes.

October 7.

Too bad St. Therese didn’t live in D.C.—she might still be out there working miracles. As the city’s Office on Aging threw its annual party in honor of the District’s 102 centenarians, it was revealed that Washington ranks in the Top 10 nationally in percentage of citizens over age 100.

October 11.

This is your police department on dope. The city’s federal public defender announced today that his office would push for dozens of new trials in the wake of July’s revelation that police department drug-trial expert witness Johnny Brown Jr. had allegedly never received the pharmacology doctorate he repeatedly testified to possessing. You don’t need a law degree—you don’t even need to pretend to have one—to figure out how many acquittals will likely result and the amount of prosecutorial time, money, and effort that will likely be nullified.

October 12.

Don’t touch that kitty! The city’s health department issued a rabies warning following today’s rabid kitten bite of a man in Shaw. Thinking of giving that feral alley kitten a little loving pat? You might want to know that your fellow animal lover is undergoing a 28-day series of shots.

October 14.

Home rule’s going to pot, again. Our friends in the House of Representatives today re-passed the city’s budget, minus a few spending constraints but with the same valiant stand against medical marijuana that earned a veto in September. So let’s just get this straight ahead of time: No medicinal marijuana if Rep. Istook gets bitten by the froth-mouthed kitten.

October 16.

Maybe the elected D.C. Board of Education should add a fourth R—for writing on the wall. At a hearing today, D.C. Council Education Committee Chair Kevin Chavous vowed legislation to ensure that the board focuses on policy rather than micromanagement, according to the Washington Times. And he mulled other changes, such as a partially appointed body. Antagonized by all sorts of internecine board hi-jinks, Chavous and others have put the board on notice that being the first elected institution in the District isn’t going to inoculate it forever.

October 18.

In late 1997, D.C. police sent informant Eric Butera to a Southwest D.C. drug buy with $80 in marked bills and their best wishes. He was killed. Now the city may have to add $97,999,920 to that total. A Superior Court jury today found the police negligent in sending the informant, who had been trying to turn his life around, into the buy with no backup and little in the way of a Plan B.

October 20.

Calvin Griffith died today. In standard District lore, he’s the cheapskate who took the Senators away. But let’s replay the alternative history that might have unfolded if his team had never left. 1974: Move to cookie-cutter AstroTurf stadium in Fairfax. 1980-1986: People gradually lose interest. 1987-1993: Free agent signing binge. 1993-1998: Ownership poor-mouthing. 1999: Lobbying city to build megabucks new stadium at taxpayer expense in order to return downtown and provide “authentic,” “old-time” baseball experience. God bless you, Calvin.

October 21.

What if the Senators had kept their Washington name, payed rent on a down-market D.C. stadium, and played in Minnesota on the sly? Well, they’d look a lot like the Channel 4 segment tonight that reported that Fire Chief Donald Edwards, who is required to live in town, has a home in Maryland that features the same answering-machine message as his District apartment. Edwards told cameras that where he spends his nights is his own business, even though he’s legally required to share a city with the people he is paid to protect.

October 21.

Could that be George W. Bush rallying to our defense against House right-wingers? It could be—if we lived in Arizona. “I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose,” he said today, on the subject of medical-marijuana, according to the Washington Post. But—and this is a big but when it comes to the local iteration of Bush’s brand of federalism—he pointed out that D.C. is a different story, because our laws are subject to Congressional say-so.

October 23.

Back in June, you could have cynically argued that the Force was with James Nero. Yeah, sure, he was charged with shooting someone during a robbery—but at least he was ripping off the theater that was showing The Phantom Menace. Today, on the other hand, while awaiting trial for assault with intent to kill, he allegedly snatched a gun from a guard while visiting D.C. General Hospital and opened fire in the emergency room. Score one for the Dark Side.

October 25.

No more afternoon naps in front of the D.C. Public Library for you, buster. The 900 block of G Street, for 25 years a traffic-free “street for the people,” today reopened to automobiles.

October 26.

What was that disrupting traffic in Adams Morgan today? Waist-deep potholes? No—shallow plot lines. A Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-TV movie filmed today, yet another chance for D.C. to show off its sugary new image. Call it Hug Life in D.C.

October 31.

And there’s still more bad news for hoodlums. Last summer’s drought means this year’s pumpkin crop is lousy. And lousy pumpkins mean less smashing. Alternative Halloween traditions of throwing eggs and beating up the younger kids for their candy will just have to do in this underwatered season.—Michael Schaffer