While D.C. mayoral candidate coffers overflow with record dough from contributors, the agency that oversees campaign spending has failed to benefit from similar largesse. The District’s Office of Campaign Finance will head into the fall with less than half the manpower that worked the races in 1994. In fiscal year 1996, the D.C. Council cut the budget for the office from just under a million dollars to $805,000, and over the past few years the staff has dwindled from 23 to 10. But Cicely Collier-Montgomery, director of the campaign finance office, says, “We’ll be ready.” Collier-Montgomery proudly points to the purchase of a new computer software system that will put campaign finance records online. She admits, however, that no members of the office staff have been trained to use the program as of yet. Collier-Montgomery hopes to beef up the staff with two more hires, including a systems analyst to help run the upgraded computer software. Let the money chase—on both ends—begin.

Maintaining Appearances Upward of 60 Brookland residents met last Monday night to sort out the future of city-owned Brooks Mansion, beloved home of their neighborhood’s namesake, Col. Jeheil Brooks, a wealthy landowner who contributed heavily to the Union during the Civil War. The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) was the most recent steward of the historic property, but in February 1997 the school packed up and vacated the building. Since then, it has been a hot potato tossed among UDC and other city agencies. All the while, the building has been left to rot. “It’s a jungle over there,” remarked Cyril Crocker, the advisory neighborhood commissioner who helped coordinate the meeting. “The mansion’s become an eyesore rather than an asset.” Feisty neighbors grilled Dallas Evans, director of real estate assets for the Department of Administrative Services, and Julius Nimmons, president of UDC, about their plans for the building. “Getting our arms around the District portfolio has not been an easy task,” said Evans to loud hoots and hollers. “It’s still in our hands—I can’t answer specifically who is in charge of maintenance,” stumbled Nimmons at one point. Moments later, he admitted that even though the building is still the responsibility of UDC, the university has not allocated any money toward upkeep for the historic property.

Hackneyed Logic “I stopped a while back, you know, because I actually wanted to know what was wrong with my car.”—veteran D.C. cab driver explaining why he stopped bribing Department of Motor Vehicle inspectors.

Freshly Picked The 1996 Cherry Jubilee, a gay dance party and AIDS fundraiser, handed over $40,000 to two local charities: Food & Friends and the Whitman-Walker Clinic. But those same groups put the heat on the event’s sponsoring organization, Friends Being Friends, when it failed to hand over anything from last year’s event (City Desk, 4/3). Last week, Friends Being Friends finally came through with $1,100 apiece to both Whitman-Walker and Food & Friends. “To be honest, our first year was a fluke,” explains Ryan Peal, a spokesman for the organization, adding that competition from other events in town has reduced attendance and proceeds. Although a new organization has taken over this year’s event, Whitman-Walker will not be participating.

Bishop to Queen 1 Eccentric Columbia Heights advisory neighborhood commissioner Ida Lowe Blocker has reportedly announced her intention to run for mayor. Blocker, who calls herself “the bishop” in reference to her attempts to form her own church, wasn’t available for comment as of press time. But fellow commissioners describe Blocker as a “religious zealot” who once, in a dispute about access to the commission’s office, threw a copy of the key onto the table, reportedly crying, “Don’t anybody touch that! It’s been touched by the devil!” In the wake of the brouhaha, Blocker told Washington City Paper (“Grass-Roots Disorganizing,” 5/30/97), “I am not at liberty to discuss anything because I don’t know anything.”

Reporting by Paula Park, Amanda Ripley,

Elissa Silverman, and Jake Tapper.

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