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Lawyers Attorneys for the Lyons Group, which holds the copyright and trademark rights for Barney products, have recently notified the Barney Circle Neighborhood Watch that it must return its Barney mascot costume or be in violation of copyright laws. Three years ago, the neighborhood group purchased the purple dinosaur costume to use at civic events and protests. With the freeway plans now scrapped, the dinosaur hasn’t appeared on the streets of Barney Circle in more than a year. But last month, attorney J. Michael Slocum told neighborhood watch member and Barney impersonator John Capozzi that the request is part of an attempt to remove “unauthorized” suits from circulation and “to protect the image of Barney characters.” Capozzi claims ignorance of the suit’s whereabouts. “I can’t believe these guys are hassling me,” remarks Capozzi. “I’m not going to bust my back finding this thing….Give me a break.”

Merging Voters In the past few years, the D.C. Council has come to resemble the 1998 Washington Redskins’ kicking squad. In 1997 alone, the District held three special elections costing approximately $350,000 a pop for citywide races that attracted very low voter participation. New legislation sponsored by At-Large Councilmember Harold Brazil would have the city paying for one less plebiscite every four years: Aiming to increase turnout for local primaries during presidential election years—turnout for these quadrennial events averaged just 16.5 percent between 1980 and 1996—the legislation would merge the D.C. Council and presidential primaries. The new unified primary would be held in June of presidential election years. But the plan is not without a hitch: Critics protest that the bill would render defeated councilmembers lame ducks for six months, enough time for them to do a lot more than $350,000 worth of damage.

Haunting Shadow While President Bill Clinton has been frantically lobbying Democratic members of Congress to fight off impeachment proceedings, he seems to have overlooked the District’s Hill delegation. “If he goes down by two votes, he’s going to wish he’d done more to support statehood when he had the chance,” says D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss, noting that the delegation’s lack of voting rights in Congress would prevent it from casting votes to save Clinton’s hide.

Pet Project Toddlers who frequent the children’s room at the Mount Pleasant Library are trying to cope with the loss of Pepito, a beloved gerbil who formerly frolicked in an aquarium on the library’s upper floor. Pepito, according to branch librarian Ellen Kardy, was a “poor, handicapped, graying gerbil” who walked “sideways” because one of his young pals had once accidentally dropped him on the floor. But the library’s pet didn’t die of natural causes. Earlier this year, says Kardy, two “little bastards” were causing trouble in the library. Although Kardy kicked them out, she didn’t realize until later that they had snatched Pepito from his lair. Friends of Mount Pleasant Library purchased a replacement gerbil. The “My Name Is Pepito” name tag remained, “so we call him Pepito II,” says Kardy. She praises the Friends for funding a replacement and its food. “I wouldn’t even know how to do a purchase request for a gerbil,” says Kardy.

All Rats on Deck Glover Park resident Dennis Peacock and two friends were eating sushi last Sunday night on the rooftop at Perry’s restaurant in Adams Morgan when another delicacy made an appearance: A big rat darted past Peacock’s table and proceeded to lounge on the deck for a few minutes. Peacock called the wait staff’s attention to the very well-fed rodent. “Oh, that’s George,” Peacock says one waiter nonchalantly noted. “He comes out here all the time.” Perry’s denies that the restaurant knowingly harbors rats or any other rodents. “There’s a rat problem in Adams Morgan altogether. I don’t think we’re any different,” says Robbie Kane, a manager at the restaurant. “You’re talking about an outside deck, which is outside. They’re not in our kitchen.” Kane adds that Peacock tried to use the incident to score free meals. “I did no such thing,” says Peacock. “Why would I want to go back there anyway?” The D.C. Board of Health is investigating the allegation.

Reporting by Stephanie Mencimer, Michael Schaffer, Elissa Silverman, and Erik Wemple.

Please send your City Desk tips to Elissa Silverman at esilverman@washcp.com or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.