Last year, Mayor Anthony A. Williams campaigned for office as a bean-counting nerd. Now, however, residents who wanted a hipper class of leader will be happy to know that George magazine has included him in its April feature profiling “The 20 Most Fascinating Men in Politics.” Williamsphotographed smirking and looking down at you in a blue bow tieslid in at No. 4. The only mayor on the list, he ranks higher than former Senate majority leader and Irish peace-agreement architect George Mitchell (No. 6) as well as Fresh Prince Will Smith (No. 19). Williams’ appearance on the list is no surprise given the rag’s penchant for giving props and Rikki Lake makeovers to Kennedy School policy wonks and Beltway bores. But we bet political stalwarts like Larry Flynt (No. 20) and Master P (No. 6) still might have a little trouble staying awake through one of Williams’ “fascinating” budget briefings.
Jail Lit Odie Washington, interim director of the D.C. Department of Corrections, who is under consideration to be appointed permanent director, is everything you’d want in a job applicant: serious, experienced, and very well read. This week, the State Journal-Register of Illinois reported that while he was the Illinois prison system’s director, Washington charged the system for $1,079 in books he purchased at a Barnes & Noble. Among the books: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, How to Watch TV News, The Essential Black Literature Guide, and an encyclopedia on execution methods. Washington claims the books all related to his job and prepared him for lectures he gave to the community. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
Speaking in Tongues Mayor Williams’ election campaign was filled with kvetching about D.C. government operators who fail to answer questions in proper Englishif they answer them at all. Last Tuesday, citywide Customer Service Director Sherryl Hobbs Newman announced, amazingly enough, that the city’s main number727-1000will now be able to field calls in Hmong, Swahili, and 108 other languages. That’s an astounding four languages apiece for each of D.C.’s 25 operators. Are U.N. translators among the Williams’ new recruits? Actually, no. Calls in languages other than English and Spanish will tap into the AT&T Language Bank. Buena suerte.
A Celebration of Freedom The usual rough-and-tumble down at the D.C. Council apparently took a violent turn last week when an aide to Councilmember Sandra Allen, Deairich Hunter, allegedly kicked a female co-worker in the leg. Hunter was arrested last Thursday and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. But Hunter will not have to face justice alone. D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss thought his friend from undergraduate days at American University was a District resident sorely in need of some representation. Strauss cut short a Passover trip home to New York when he learned of Hunter’s dilemma. “The whole holiday is really about freeing people,” notes Strauss, who adds that Hunter denies the charges. A civil attorney, Strauss has since been replaced by criminal defense attorney Peter Krauthamer, who will represent Hunter at an April 27 preliminary hearing.
Clown and Country For 44 D.C. area kids, gaining United States citizenship last Monday was just a day at the circus. Holding tiny Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus-donated flags, the foreign-born childrenaccompanied by their adoptive parentsbecame Americans in the otherwise empty 9,000-seat D.C. Armory. During the ceremony, the throng was led in singing the national anthem by a clown. Later, while District Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Director Warren Lewis doled out certificates of citizenship on the left side of the podium, 11 garishly garbed professional clowns passed out their own goodiesred sponge clown noseson the right. “This is just the crowning glory of the [adoption] process that these parents have gone through five years up to this event,” noted INS spokesperson Ernestine Fobbs.
Reporting by Jason Cherkis, Laura Lang, and Nefretiti Makenta.