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Incumbents facing re-election usually try to look as engaged as possible with their constituents, but Harry Thomas is blazing his own path. About two-thirds of the way through Monday’s Ward 5 candidates forum at Bethesda Baptist Church in Ivy City, where Thomas was being bombarded by questions about his record, the septuagenarian legislator suddenly exited the stage, shook a few hands, and split. “I think he had another engagement,” explained campaign manager Perry Queen, who said he couldn’t remember where Thomas had to be. Queen added that the forum was a sham anyway, chock-full of partisan questions intended to embarrass his boss. If Thomas had stuck around, though, he’d have seen rival Vincent Orange attacked by protesters as a “slumlord” for his management of a Dupont Circle apartment building allegedly plagued by power outages, peeling paint, and building code violations. Orange denies the charges and says he’s planning to sue for defamation.

Neither Rain Nor Snow, But Humidity? “It’s August. People probably just aren’t sending you anything.”—U.S. Postal Service official’s response to a complaint by a Mount Pleasant resident about nondelivery of mail.

Killer Tactic Armed with a paint scraper and a sprayer filled with soapy water, Dupont Circle resident Phil Carney defends D.C. against random acts of politics and promotion. Carney has been busy these past few weeks removing works such as the “STARR F***KER” poster from light poles and utility boxes. Two Sundays ago, Carney was attacking a poster with his standard tools when an irate man rode up to him on a bike. “He threatened to take the scraper away from me and rip my throat open with it,” Carney recalls. “I finished scraping and got out of there without being hurt.” Whose poster was the bloodthirsty biker defending? The Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

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Digital Cul-de-Sac After three years as chief kibitzer of dc.story, an online chat group focusing on life in the District, Jeffrey Itell is calling it quits. Itell says that spending so much time cutting and pasting subscribers’ kvetch-heavy postings left him with little time to go out and find new things of his own to complain about. “I felt disengaged from what was going on in the city,” explains Itell, who sent his goodbyes to dc.story’s 1,350 readers last weekend. Minus the name, however, the list will endure; Itell handed over the virtual reigns to Columbia Heights activist Gary Imhoff, who currently administers DCWatch, a public affairs Web site focusing on District politics. Imhoff says he’ll continue to zip out the newsletter twice a week—moans, groans, and all. Kvetchers are welcome to join in by sending an e-mail to

themail@dcwatch.com

Mounted PR Dupont Circle resembled an equestrian center last Thursday around dusk, when seven U.S. Park Police officers and four four-legged helpers made their way across rush-hour traffic to hunt down an allegedly drunk and disorderly man near Dupont Down Under. Officer J.A. Watson explained that the police bring the horsies around for quality-of-life crime enforcement because they’re such crowd pleasers. “They love it,” he said, explaining how even a guy he’d locked up came to pet his horse the day after he got out. “Even when you lock ’em up, they love it.”

Sliding Doors When a Metro conductor ordered the evacuation of an Orange Line train on May 3, Bryan Beard made it through the closing door, but the laptop computer slung over his shoulder didn’t. The impact cracked the case and damaged internal drives, so Beard called Metro to file a claim. After getting the runaround for two weeks, Beard was promised by Metro that he would have a new or repaired computer by the end of that week. Two months later, Beard received a letter from Metro’s director of safety saying an internal investigation had turned up no proof that the evacuation ever happened. “We were not able to substantiate his claims,” says Metro spokesperson Cheryl Johnson. Beard is now considering legal action. “[T]hey didn’t notice 200 people getting off the train? What a joke,” says Beard.

Reporting by Amanda Ripley, Michael Schaffer, Frappa Stout, and Eve Tushnet.

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