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Capitol Hill crime watchdog Bryce Suderow did not mince words when testifying before the D.C. Council’s Judiciary Committee on March 3. To demonstrate the low morale plaguing District cops, a morose Suderow quoted a police officer he’d interviewed the night before: “‘This place is so fucked up. Why come to work and stress yourself out further when I can just sit at home, sit in my house by myself, drink a few beers, and be happy, be stress-free,’” Suderow recited to the assembled committee members and cable television cameras. Chair Harold Brazil, hearing the first bit of drama of the day’s testimony, laughed nervously and called Suderow’s testimony “poignant.” He then took a moment to clarify. “In terms of decorum,” Brazil stuttered, “if [witnesses] could just say ‘blank’ or ‘expletive’ without actually saying it. You didn’t do anything wrong, but for everyone else, and in the future, we’ll want to make sure that this is PG-13 for those listening at home.”
Talkin’ Turkey Since Safeway pulled the plug on its Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE location last fall, Ward 8 residents have been fiercely lobbying for a new supermarket. So has Kevin Williams, president and chief executive officer of Dominion Development Corp., which has a proposal to build a shopping center with a supermarket across the ward at the abandoned Camp Simms Army base. Though Williams received a $6.3 million grant from the federal government, he still needs an additional $33.7 million to make his project happen. But uncertainty hasn’t stopped Williams from discouraging prospective greengrocers from the Safeway spot. “Potential buyers of Safeway have pulled out,” claims Craig Muckle, Safeway’s manager of public affairs. “People were basically not interested in building a grocery store when they heard about Camp Simms.” City officials say that Williams might want to put more money where his mouth is. “We would like to see it happen, but…there’s no contract or formal agreement,” says one source at the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development. Williams says that he will submit a new financing proposal to the department this month. “When you put in a proposal and you have your money, I think it speaks for itself,” he says. Muckle says that Safeway will most likely rent the space to the Tesseract Group, which will build a charter school at the location (see “Don’t Know Much About History,” Page 12).
The House Always Wins As a contestant in the Miss District of Columbia Scholarship Pageant last Saturday, Toyia Tynae Taylor impressed the judges in the question-and-evening-wear competition and gave a riveting performance in the talent competition. Taylor also had another thing in her favor: backing from the District of Columbia Housing Authority, where she works. The Housing Authority placed an ad supporting Taylor in the official program and purchased 48 tickets to transport students involved in the “Do Your Best Summer Youth Employment Program” to the event. Most students sported red “Toyia” buttons and screamed whenever Taylor appeared on stage. Taylor, at evening’s end, captured the crown.
Fire Sale Last November, the Congressional Squash & Athletic Club won a $1.8 million bid to buy the abandoned Giddings School building at 3rd and G Streets SE. Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose intervened in the bid process on behalf of the group when fundamentalist Christian pastor James Ahlemann emerged as the high bidder with a plan to open a church and outreach center there (“Baptism by Fire,” 1/15). The club was given a 90-day financing deadline of Jan. 28 to come up with the money, plus $2.5 million for renovations. If the club failed to meet the deadline, the building would automatically default to Ahlemann’s project, according to bid guidelines. But school officials eagerly extended the deadline last month after estimates indicated that the property needed at least another half-million in repairs to become habitable. “Because it was the school system’s fault for not advertising that the site needed the specific remediations, they extended the deadline to allow for restructuring the financing plan,” explains Ambrose. A spokesman for Ahlemann says he has given up on Giddings and will locate elsewhere.
Reporting by Colin Bane, Alexandra Phanor, Amanda Ripley, and Elissa Silverman.
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