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If District residents need any more evidence that big business is overrunning city government, they should take a peek at the National Capital Revitalization Corporation Act of 1998, sponsored by Ward 4 Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis. The bill creates an economic development corporation to which President Clinton pledged $50 million in his fiscal 1999 budget proposal. Jarvis proposes vesting the cabal of unelected business types with the right of eminent domainthe ability of the government to seize propertysubject to just a two-thirds vote of corporation members. “We think that’s a power that is given to elected representatives in almost every jurisdiction,” says Joe Bender, a member of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. It would effectively privatize what is usually a very public process. And opponents of the bill point out that the priority development area is “Downtown East,” which encompasses the proposed Mount Vernon Square convention center site. “This is an underhanded way to destroy one of the most historic, promising neighborhoods in the city,” says Shaw activist Beth Solomon.
Time Out of Her Mind The scene: Patriots’ Center parking lot before last Sunday evening’s Bob Dylan show. A stout 45-year-old mother of three arrives early in the family van, hoping in vain to score some acid for herself and her 17-year-old daughter, Jasmine. She stands out in the cold, puffing on a joint through a cigarette holder and passing out business cards for her group, “Mother’s Against Bull Shitt.” Why the creative spelling? The printer refused to spell the word properly, she says, so she adopted it as an acronym for “Shit Happens In The Time.” The group’s mission is to battle hypocrisy in American society.
Licentious Behavior After a summer shooting, Adams Morgan tavern Las Rocas lost its liquor license, so the bar’s owners decided to make some big changes. They started with the basics, changing the name of the tavern from Las Rocas, which translates from Spanish as “the rocks,” to Noa Noa. They also removed darkened windows and engaged in a little interior beautification. But despite the cosmetic alterations, Noa Noa may still find itself on the rocks. On Dec. 29 at 5:30 a.m., the Metropolitan Police Department raided the bar and caught its bartenders serving liquor. An
innocent little party, the owners suggested. They had a harder time explaining the ounce of bagged cocaine found on the floor, according to a police report. The discovery of that particular party favor pushed advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) 1C to oppose the renewal of Noa Noa’s liquor licensethe first time the restaurant-friendly group has denied such a request. “They’ve been willfully flaunting [Alcohol Beverage Control Board] regulations,” says James Whitman, an ANC commissioner.
Street Smarts The Division of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV’s) automated phone line tells callers they can obtain driver’s licenses and tags at three different offices, including one located at 616 8th St. NE. But a Metrobus driver warned a newcomer that she would never get a license at the 8th Street offices, and to convince her performed a five-minute survey among riders. The consensus: head straight to the municipal building at 301 C St. NW. At the corner of 7th and Pennsylvania, the kindly driver even stopped and mapped out a shortcut between structures, allowing the driver’s license suitor to slip into the cavernous DMV headquarters only seconds before closing time. Once there, she spotted a sign that announced what the bus riders already knew: The 8th Street branch issues only renewals.
Dream City As if local criticism weren’t damning enough, D.C.’s troubled police department has now landed the city a spot on George magazine’s list of “The 10 Most Corrupt Cities in America.” The list includes cities such as Las Vegas, Miami, and Kansas City but is made up mostly of smaller, lesser-known towns such as Chester, Pa., and Clovis, Calif. To support D.C.’s spot on the list, George points to unsolved murders, fraudulent overtime hours, the “fairy-shaking” campaign of Lt. Jeffrey Stowe, and, finally, Chief Larry Soulsby’s November resignation. “Too often, the police have done little more than wear their uniforms,” remarked the editors.
Reporting by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Eddie Dean, Laura Lang, Paula Park, and Erik Wemple.
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