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When Spencer Stevenson signed on as a recruit with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), he braced for a rigorous hazing at the city’s police academy. On his first day of “Level 1” training, Stevenson’s instructor handed out an MPD organizational chart for enrollees to memorize. A collective snicker went through the room. Named at the top of the chart was Larry Soulsby, who resigned under pressure last November as MPD’s chief of police. After a short conference, Stevenson’s instructor handed out a second chart with newly installed chief Charles Ramsey listed instead. But, Stevenson says, his instructor insisted that students study for the test from the Soulsby chart. “I asked the instructor, ‘So for test purposes Soulsby is still the Chief of Police’ and he said yes,” Stevenson recalled in a letter to Ramsey. Citing other instances of MPD bumbling, he resigned from the academy. He plans on returning to his old employer, the Prince George’s County Fire Department, as a dispatcher. “I wish I would have known it was so bad upfront. I would have never gone,” Stevenson explains.

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Funny Money When D.C.’s mayoral candidates released their lists of campaign contributors June 10, the usual suspects—developers and influence peddlers of all stripes—littered the pages. Then there was a $100 contribution to the campaign of Kevin Chavous. The donor? Jeffrey Gildenhorn, the Ward 3 restaurateur who’s seeking the same job as Chavous. Was the American City Diner owner hedging his bets? Or hatching a master plan to divide the opposition? Neither, says Gildenhorn, who regularly blasts the Ward 7 councilmember for steering the city toward financial ruin. “That was in jest,” he explains. “At that particular time, Kevin was starting out, and I made the quote that he needed all the help he could get….It was a tongue-in-cheek gesture, but it was real money.”

Be Careful Out There Last week’s inaugural alfresco roll call offered District residents a revealing peek into the follies of MPD. The bus carrying 3rd District officers to the Giant parking lot at 8th and O Streets arrived late. And it took five minutes for the officers arriving on motorcycles to park them properly in order. So, in the end, a daily activity that usually takes less than a half hour took almost twice that time. “Everything we do is cumbersome,” remarked 3rd District Commander Joseph Adamany. “But we can handle it.”

Have You Seen This Child? Last Wednesday evening, Robert Cole was en route to dinner when he decided to swing by the sculpture park at 7th and E Streets NW. The park is a joint effort by Cole, four other District-based sculptors, and the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities to take homegrown works of art to the streets. “Something’s missing,” Cole informed his companions after quickly surveying the grounds. His eyes stopped on a vacant concrete base, which once supported “Hey Girl,” a life-size bronze sculpture he created. The sculpture, which weighs about 130 pounds, is valued at $10,000. “I was too trusting,” says Cole. “I should have bolted it down better. The other pieces in there are too heavy to carry away.” The MPD officers investigating the case are not optimistic that they’ll catch the thief. “She’s like a lost child now,” notes Cole.

Exit Costs Ballou High School parent Mona Toatley considers her son’s high school diploma priceless, but she didn’t think she’d have to pay for it. Seniors attending the Southeast D.C. public school had to dish out $85 to participate in graduation ceremonies held at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium last week. And that’s in addition to the $35 each shelled out for cap and gown. For years, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) students received their diplomas under the dome of Constitution Hall at no cost. But last year, DCPS officials told schools graduating fewer than 250 students to find their own graduation sites—and to foot the cost themselves. Beverly Lofton, DCPS director of communications, acknowledges that she received a complaint from another Ballou parent who could not pay the fee. After expressing her frustration to the office of the superintendent, Toatley called Ward 8 Councilmember Sandra Allen, who dipped into constituent services funds to pay Toatley’s fee.

Reporting by Jason Cherkis, Michael Schaffer, Scott Sowers, and Frappa Stout.

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