D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss has been selling the District’s cause on Capitol Hill, but now he’s hocking something else: For $4.95, District residents can purchase a card from New York-based Transmedia that entitles them to 20 percent off meals at 80 participating D.C. restaurants. Strauss’ office gets a cut of two bucks per purchase to pay for what he hopes will someday evolve into a full-time professional staff equipped with at least one computer. Strauss has already mailed letters to supporters asking them to buy the cards: “With your own Transmedia card, you give D.C. restaurants needed business, help me keep my office running, and save yourself money on some of the best meals in town,” the letter promises. Strauss admits “dining for democracy”—as he calls it—is a little

off the wall, but says federal disrespect of the District has been the mother of invention. “It’s part of the discrimination in force in D.C.,” he says. “I have no federal financial support.”

All Bets Are On The lists of campaign contributors to District candidates contain all the usual suspects: developers, lawyers, big business. But on Page 32 of Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith’s most recent filing, there’s a real eye-popper: A $500 contribution attributed to the D.C. Lottery Board. Campaign finance laws prohibit government agencies from contributing to a candidate. Questioned about the contribution, Smith’s campaign office reports that it is actually from Lottery Technology Enterprises, a 45-employee private company that operates the city’s online games and shares an address with the Lottery Board. “In the beginning part of the campaign, things are a little chaotic,” explains Smith campaign manager Chris Long. “The wrong name got entered in.”

Nukes on Parade The delicate sensibilities of several parade-watchers at last Saturday’s Fourth of July festivities in nuclear-free Takoma Park were jolted by a contingent of neon-green-clad marchers bearing signs that read “More Nukes, Less Kooks!” “Just Say Glow!” and “Two Heads Are Better Than One.” The green demons belonged to the Sherman Avenue Grill Team, a neighborhood group that initially marched several years ago to lampoon

a local initiative banning gas-powered lawn mowers and barbecues. As it has every year it’s paraded, the Grill Team won a discretionary Judges’ Award, perhaps for its effort to inject levity into a town better known for its political correctness than its sense of humor. But Grill Team organizer Beth Baker worries that this year’s prize-winning effort might have been artificially boosted by the group immediately behind them: real anti-nuclear protesters, who used a pack of missile-suited children to convey their pacifist message.

Putting on the Brakes Like many family-friendly businesses, the District’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers flexible hours for its employees. Closing time is particularly elastic on Wednesdays, when the bureau is open late; how late, though, depends on fate. The bureau’s recorded phone message mentions no Wednesday closing time at all. The bureau’s Web page lists its Wednesday closing time as 7 p.m. Some days, as Capitol Hill resident Norman West has learned, you can be shut out of Room 1159 as early as 6:15. West recalls, “The excuse given by the security guard at the door is, ‘There are too many people in line.’ I’d like to know what constitutes too many? Thirty? Thirteen? Two?” Henry Lightfoot, senior manager of the bureau, says that the doors officially lock at 7 p.m., and no one should be turned away before that.

Metrorail-Roaded Business was brisk for the well-dressed man selling M&Ms for a “church fundraiser” to holiday-bound commuters at the Dupont South Metro entrance last Thursday evening. Around 6:30 p.m., a transit police officer approached the man and asked him for a vending license. The man said he didn’t have one, and he refused to offer any other information to the Metro cop. A crowd of 50 gathered around the scene. Witnesses report that the cop subdued the M&M-wielding man by using pepper spray. Metro officials say the incident is now under review.

Reporting by Paula Park, Michael Schaffer, Caroline Schweiter, Elissa Silverman, 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.