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Anthony A. Williams recited the oath of office in front of a packed atrium at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center a few minutes after noon last Saturday. Little did the audience know that the guy taking the oath was actually already mayor. According to Williams spokeswoman Peggy Armstrong, D.C. law requires the mayor to be sworn in before noon on Jan. 2. Schedulers aware of the city’s tradition of tardy public events decided not to take any chances. They rounded up the judge and had Williams sworn in beforehand, just in case. A good thing, too: Thanks to long-winded speeches by the likes of re-elected D.C. Councilmember David Catania, the District might otherwise have been officially mayorless for several minutes. Of course, Congress had mistakenly thought we were that way for the past four years.
More Than a Mouse Tuesday, Dec. 29, 1998: The Washington Post Metro section led off with a story titled “No One Was Stirring, Except at the Malls” and jumped it to B6 with the headline “The Week That Wasn’t Much.” Buried in the lower-right-hand corner of page B5: “Seven Men Slain in D.C. in Six Days.”
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Scold Thy Neighbor D.C.’s community e-mail chat groups might keep locals in touch, but it’s debatable how well neighbors really get to know one another. Last month, Andrea Carlson zapped a letter to the Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association newsletter, complaining that her license plates had been stolen. In her message, Carlson publicly mused about the identity of the thief: “I suspect my neighbors at 1801 Vermont may have something to do with it,” she wrote. Residents of the address failed to respond to a request for comment, but Carlson now says she takes it all back. “I think maybe I was just being a little alarmist about it,” she says, explaining that police have since found her tags in Oxon Hill, Md. But Carlson still stands by another one of her e-mail crusades posted on themail, a citywide e-mail roundtable, protesting the “imposition” of a nearby mosque that “blasts a call to prayer five times a day.” A leader of Jamat Qawiyy Mosque says he has heard nary a complaint from other neighbors. And Carlson admits she has never bothered to stop by or call about the noise. “I just probably wouldn’t have the guts to do it,” she says.
One for the Books Since opening its doors in 1972, the Martin Luther King Memorial Library has been a repository for D.C. history and relics including, until now, a good portion of the city’s antiquated rotary telephones. This month, the library will catapult into the telecommunications age with the installation of 167 touch-tone phones, complete with voice mail, call forwarding, and even caller ID. “The staff is really happy,” says Debra Truhart, the library’s public affairs specialist. “It’ll go a long way to improving staff morale.” Truhart notes that D.C. branch libraries will receive 198 touch-tone phones as well.
Unaccounted For It may be a new era in D.C., but no one told advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) 8E in Congress Heights. Last month, the Office of the D.C. Auditor concluded that former Chair Robert Yeldell the brother of Barry-era Department of Employment Services Director Joe Yeldell and former Treasurer Alfonso Williams had improperly spent nearly $6,000 in ANC funds. The report recommends that the two “immediately repay the $5,533.60 to ANC 8E for expenditures not authorized by a majority of ANC 8E’s commissioners and recorded in the ANC’s approved minutes.” In 1991, Yeldell got probation and a court order to reimburse the same ANC almost $10,000, a debt he has yet to fully repay. Williams and Yeldell deny any wrongdoing. “There has been no misuse of funds….The problem that I see that has occurred is sloppy bookkeeping,” says Williams, who as treasurer was in charge of that task. The city will withhold further funding until the ANC cleans its books; more than $17,000 has been held so far. The auditor’s findings have been forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General. Both commissioners’ terms ended this month.
Reporting by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nefretiti Makenta, Amanda Ripley, and Michael Schaffer.
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