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Boasting a background in Greek Orthodox theology and a John Waters-style pencil moustache, Baron Deacon is a Spanish-American exorcist and paranormal researcher who has plied his trade all over the world. This Monday, he stops in Washington for what may be his toughest assignment yet: ridding the U.S. Capitol of demons and other evil spirits. Though Deacon has performed hundreds of exorcisms on people, this represents a rare attempt to cleanse an entire building, says David Grossack, a Boston lawyer, who hired Deacon for the exorcism. “It’s a form of symbolic communication,” adds Grossack, whose legal reform group, Citizens’ Justice Programs, advocates the popular election of judges. Deacon is scheduled to wield his cross on the steps of the Capitol at 5 p.m. Time permitting, he may turn his exorcism powers on the Supreme Court, and perhaps even several District government buildings. “We still haven’t gotten a permit for that,” says Grossack, who adds that those interested in a personal exorcism will have to wait until Deacon completes his major lifting
on the Capitol.
Sweetness and Light After clocking 16 years on the D.C. Council, Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith has no doubt heard his share of constituent complaints about public works. But Smith’s new campaign slogan, “Let’s turn up the lights in Ward 1,” isn’t simply a campaign promise to fix faulty street lights. So what does it mean? According to Smith, it’s the mantra for a campaign that will stress good times and warm feelings. “My whole point is to make this an upbeat campaign,” says Smith. “We’re doing better as a city. And that’s going to be my theme.”
Agent 69 While Logan Circle resident Stephen Snell walks his dog, he’s usually on the prowl for more than just stray doggy-doo: He’s also sniffing around his environs for men soliciting prostitutes. When he spots what he believes to be unseemly activity, Snell surreptitiously whispers the car’s license plate into his shirt pocket, where he’s hidden a small tape recorder à la Maxwell Smart. He then hands off the information to the police, who send a letter informing the owner that his car has been spotted in questionable circumstances. Snell’s antics sometimes have
international implications. On May 14,
Snell observed a prostitute entering a BMW with diplomatic plates. After finding out that the license plate was registered to the embassy of Ecuador, he informed the embassy of its diplomatic relations. “The Ambassador is going to ask about [the incident],” answered an embassy official, who asked not to be identified. Snell has also written to Patrick Kennedy, the acting assistant secretary of diplomatic security for the U.S. Department of State. Kennedy says his hands are pretty much tied, but Snell remains vigilant. “We hope that we’ve created enough of a stir that they’ll put [the diplomat] on the next plane back to Ecuador,” says Snell.
Jobbed More than a year into the brave new world of welfare reform, only 1,500 out of the District’s 21,000 welfare recipients have landed employment. At this pace, D.C. will most likely fall short of the 30 percent welfare-to-work participation rate set by federal guidelines, says Elizabeth Siegel of D.C. Action for Children, an advocacy group that has been monitoring the District’s welfare progress. “We’re not far behindconsidering it’s D.C.but we should be farther along,” says Siegel. She blames the slow pace on a disorganized District government and a Department of Human Services (DHS) that is woefully unprepared to handle the new welfare guidelines. Kate Jesberg, deputy administrator for DHS’s Income Maintenance Administration, says the number may not be as high as it could be but is still respectable. She adds that many more recipients are involved in four-week courses that teach them job skills, like interviewing and writing résumés. Siegel has her doubts about whether four weeks of learning how to polish their presentation will help people who’ve never been in the job market in a meaningful way. “The clock is ticking,” says Siegel. “People know there is a five-year limit. But they don’t know when it started.”
Reporting by Eddie Dean, Laura Lang, Michael Schaffer, and Jake Tapper.
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