Over the next few weeks, Metropolitan Police Department officers will be traveling door to door to meet and greet the citizens they are sworn to protect. Last week, a young cop showed up on the porch of Mount Pleasant resident Thomas Pitt and asked him if he had any gripes about public safety in the neighborhood. “I told him I am tired of people pis-sing in the streets, lying on the sidewalk drunkand most of all, I’m sick of being hassled by nasty panhandlers” on the commercial strip of Mount Pleasant Street NW, Pitt reports. After hearing him out, the cop came up with an elegant solution. “He said, ‘You know, mace and hot pepper spray are perfectly legal in D.C.,’” Pitt says. “And he said, ‘So go out and get yourself some, and if anybody bothers you again, just give ’em a little squirt.’”
Hand Jive At the National Day of Action for a Free Tibet protest outside the Capitol last Monday afternoon, Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell spiritually free-based a yammering acoustic song, congressional leaders blathered on about their commitment to freedom, and even long-lost David Crosby warbled a golden oldie. Then an exiled Tibetan monk, who had served more than 30 years in a Chinese prison, took the stage to speak. Three minutes into his harrowing tale, event organizers signaled for him to wrap it up.
Tempest in a Coffee Mug D.C. college students can smell a freebie a mile away, especially when it’s fresh, aromatic coffee. Former employees of upper Connecticut Avenue’s Politics & Prose bookstore allege that store owners have engaged in a not-so-subtle campaign to drive students from its downstairs coffee shop. The store stopped offering free coffee and placed signs on tables to shoo away squatters from the dining area during busy periods. Tom Macon, a so-called “coffeehouse consultant” employed by Politics & Prose, denies the anti-student offensive. Macon says the changes were made in response to customer complaints about students hogging tables. But Jacques-Jean Tiziou, a former Politics & Prose barista, reports that because of the new policy, “the teenagers have scattered throughout the land.”
They won’t be too welcome in Spring Valley. Last week, advisory neighborhood commissioners there voted against a liquor license application for the Xando coffeehouse, which is looking to move into a spot at 4874
Massachusetts Ave. Commissioners cited objections to the young crowds and late-
night rowdiness that take place at Xando’s present spot in Dupont Circle. Dennis Paul Jr., who represents the neighborhood on the commission, labeled Xando “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” which would bring “an army of kids marching down from [American University].”
Golden Retriever The U.S. Department of Justice is dedicated to making sure that crime doesn’t payregardless of payment method. Five years ago, prominent D.C. attorney Robert Luskin represented Stephen Saccoccia, a metals dealer who was sentenced to 660 years in prison for laundering drug money. Saccoccia had a safe-deposit box consisting of his mother’s back yard, where Justice officials dug up millions of dollars worth of solid gold bars. In return for his legal services, Luskin accepted about $500,000 from Saccoccia inyou guessed itgold bars. Luskin says he’d never been paid in gold before, but “I’ve never represented a metals dealer before.” As first reported in Legal Times, the Department of Justice demanded Luskin’s fee, citing probable entanglement in dirty dealings. Last month, Luskin agreed to forfeit about half of the money, but he denies any wrongdoing. Gerald McDowell, chief of the department’s asset forfeiture and money laundering division, still claims righteous victory. “We want not only the defense bar, but everyoneincluding criminalsto know that if they do amass any substantial fortune through a life of crime…it will be no good to them,” says McDowell. “The era has long since passed where we pay lawyers in chickens or hogs or even gold bars.”
Reporting by Jason Cherkis, Bradford McKee, Amanda Ripley, and Eve Tushnet.
Please send your City Desk tips to Elissa Silverman at email@example.com or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.