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In case you’ve misplaced your calendars, this just in from the Metropolitan Police Department: “[T]his year’s Halloween festivities, which have been popular in the Georgetown area, will be celebrated primarily on one night, October 31, 1998,” notes a department press release [emphasis theirs]. “For years and years when Halloween happens on a weekend, people try to make a two-day celebration out of it,” explains police spokesman Quintin Peterson. “This is to let them know that that won’t be happening this year.”
High Times As a housing inspector for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), Valeria Myers patrols city neighborhoods in search of errant property owners. While walking the alley behind the 1400 block of Swann Street NW last Thursday, Myers peered through a wooden fence and spotted what she considered a clear offense: tall weeds. Myers slapped resident Dave Ray with a $50 fine for “[f]ailure to remove weeds greater than four inches in height.” Ray notes that the weed, better known to horticulturists as Miscanthus sinensis, or maiden grass, is an ornamental grass that landscapers planted in his well-tended back yard. “The city has such profound problems,” says Ray. “[T]o see them wasting their time issuing random citations over foliage offenses…is a complete waste of tax dollars and taxpayer time.” DCRA spokeswoman Janet McCormick says inspectors act as loose or strict constructionists of the housing code depending on the neighborhood. “[T]hey have to do what they think is correct,” she says. Ray fought back by traipsing across the city, photographing weed violations outside D.C.-owned buildings such as One Judiciary Square. After department officials dispatched a supervisor to review Ray’s weed problem early this week, they canceled the citation.
Tag Team A few vigilant D.C. public school activists are catching signals that Superintendent Arlene Ackerman may soon hit the road. Where are they getting their info? Disenchanted control board officials? Jealous school-system bureaucrats? Neither, as it turns out. The source is actually a bit more obvious: Ackerman’s license plates. Ackerman and her husband, David, have failed to ditch the pines of Washington State for the stars and stripes of the District of Columbia. When confronted with the offense, David Ackerman denied allegations of short-timer syndrome. “How does one admit to being either lazy or a procrastinator?” says David Ackerman, who followed his wife from Seattle to the District this past July. New D.C. residents have a 30-day grace period to change their licenses and registrations. “There is no ulterior motive,” he continues. “I’m assuming it’s a compliment that some people are afraid she might leave.” David Ackerman insists that the couple intend to stick around and that they will change their vehicle registrations in the near future. “I have to, since I’ll probably now get a ticket after the police read this,” he adds.
Show Me the Candidate Last Sunday afternoon, Muhammad Shabazz hosted a fundraiser in his Silver Spring residence for D.C. mayoral candidate Anthony Williams. Shabazz is one of the city’s famed “Ward 9” voters: Though he goes to bed each night in Maryland, he uses a D.C. address to vote and pay taxes. Williams put the fundraiser on his schedule, and his advance team showed up to drop off literature and scout out the catered event for the candidate. But about an hour into the festivities, a Williams campaign staffer informed Shabazz that the candidate had a family emergency that prevented him from attending any evening functions. “I saw her out on her cell phone giggling,” Shabazz remembers. “I knew at that point he wasn’t showing up.” Peggy Armstrong, a Williams campaign spokeswoman, confirms that Williams had an emergency, but notes he was able to make the Tony Williams Bow Tie Collection ’98 Exhibition and Auction held later that evening. Shabazz’s partygoers shook off the slight and ponied up almost $6,500 in checks for the candidate. But the host took it personally. “If he don’t show up, he don’t get no money,” Shabazz remarked. “I decided I would throw my support behind Carol Schwartz.”
Reporting by Jason Cherkis, Elizabeth Murdock, Elissa Silverman, and Jake Tapper.
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