When the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) embarked on its short-lived zero-
tolerance crackdown last summer, no one shrieked louder than the yuppies who got hauled in for boozing on their front porches (“Stoops to Conquer,” 9/19/97). Even though the blitzkrieg has subsided, At-Large Councilmember Carol Schwartz has introduced a bill to placate the wine-sipping masses. The so-called “Chardonnay Lady” bill, which would allow open containers on porches subject to the homeowners’ permission, is expected to be passed by the D.C. Council. But some District residents wonder if the bill might hamper police efforts to discourage loitering and public drinking. “On a block like mine, the distinction between public and private space is really blurred,” says Jay Heavner of the 1400 block of W Street NW. “I may get a ticket for jaywalking, but that doesn’t mean I’ll want to get that law taken off the books.”
Peddling Costs When MPD Chief Charles Ramsey told a congressional subcommittee that the department intended to buy 187 patrol bicycles for $277,000, at least one District resident grabbed a calculator and did the math. The cost came to $1,481.28 per bicycle. “At those rates the D.C. police department is not far behind the Pentagon in the wasteful spending category,” wrote Ron Eberhardt in dc.story, an internet chat group focusing on District affairs. But MPD spokesman Joe Gentile counters that the price is quite reasonable for high-end mountain bikes, which generally run above $1,000, plus all the necessary accessories. Phil Koopman, owner of City Bikes in Adams Morgan, agrees. As well, Koopman argues, citizens benefit from the bikes’ “effectiveness in getting cops on the streetas opposed to sitting in their air-conditioned cruisers.”
Special Effects Last week, the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) emergency board of trustees voted to abolish a rule requiring schools to test failing students for learning disabilities. Trustees argued that “unnecessary testing” in the area of special education costs the school system dearly. Parent advocates, though, predict that struggling students will pay the price of trustee penny-pinching. “In the past, kids have undergone years of school failure, which typically included retention not one time, but two or three times, and they were never assessed for special-education services,” says Tammy Seltzer of the Bazelton Center, a nonprofit that monitors DCPS compliance in special-education programs. “Parents feel strongly that the rule needs to be there to protect their children.” Paula Perelman, legal counsel to the trustees, maintains that DCPS parents have little to fear: Trustees will allow schools to continue special education testing on a voluntary basis. But that offers little comfort, says Seltzer, to parents who have often had to turn to the courts to force DCPS to provide special-education programs and services.
Wide Interpretation D.C. mayoral candidate Jack Evans promises “Solutions. Not Excuses,” and Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith wants to “Turn Up the Lights in Ward 1.” They might not be able to deliver what their campaign posters promise, but at least they can say they’re grammatically correct. Not so for former reporter and current at-large D.C. Council candidate Bill Rice. Rice says on his signs that he’s “Our City Wide Choice.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary disagrees. Rice might rightly claim to be our “citywide” or even “city-wide” choice, but definitely not our “city wide” choice.
The Revolution Has Been Canceled It’s a question that has stumped even the most frequent Metro rider: What exactly is the Go Card, prominently advertised on Metro ticketing machines and gates? “This is really going to revolutionize how you use transit,” former Metro General Manager Lawrence Reuter told the Washington Post in November 1994. More specifically, the Go Card is a credit card-sized pass with a computer chip installed in it, which allows passengers to travel through ticket gates without ever whipping out a fare card from their wallet or briefcase. Never seen it? You probably never will. Metro is replacing the Go Card with a new electronic gizmo, SmarTrip. Metro officials are equally optimistic. “This is going to revolutionize commuting,” says Leona Agouridis, a Metro spokesperson.
Reporting by Chaka Freeman, Paula Park, Amanda Ripley, and Jake Tapper.
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