Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
It was 3:30 on a Sunday morning, and in between announcements about drunken disturbances and club-closing traffic, a 3rd District police dispatcher announced that “members of the Metropolitan Police Department shall be constantly mindful of their primary obligation to serve the community honestly, efficiently, and effectively.” The message is part of a new ethics initiative implemented by acting police chief Sonya T. Proctor. The dispatcher that morning delivered an almost flawless performance, until she cracked up on the word “efficiently.” Of course, it’s just that kind of snickering that the police department is trying desperately to change. Each shift supervisor will choose a different “ethics-based” message to be chanted over the airwaves of each police zone every hour, according to Lt. Gerald Barnes. While these types of “eat your broccoli” announcements are nothing new for police dispatchers, all such announcements will now focus only on ethics. “The chief has determined that this is something we need to emphasize to the patrol personnel,” Barnes says. And the mantra will continue, he adds, “until the message gets out there and we find that the issue of officer integrity improves.”
Ticket Tape A District resident who recently trudged over to the Department of Public Works (DPW) at 65 K St. NE to pay for his wife’s outstanding parking tickets left with a full wallet after trying to contribute to city coffers. The problem? He didn’t have the actual tickets with him, and the car they were issued to was registered in his wife’s name. “I wanted to give D.C. money,” he notes with frustration. “Even if I wanted to pay a stranger’s tickets, what does D.C. care?” In order to get in the line to pay for tickets, you see, one needs either the ticket itself or a printout from the department listing the traffic offenses. That you get only after waiting in another line. And a new federal law prevents DPW from issuing the printouts, which include the driver’s phone number and address, to those other than the listed car owner. “[The law] is designed to protect drivers from being stalked,” says Wanda Butler of DPW. That stalker repellent probably won’t keep ticket writers at bay, though.
Sex Tour Millions of people flock to Washington each year to visit the city’s historical landmarks, but few do so in an effort to examine those monuments’ impact on the history of the sexual revolution. “The major battles in the sexual revolution were fought in Washington, D.C.,” says James Petersen, author of a 10-part series on the topic that has appeared in Playboy. This weekend, Petersen will conduct a two-hour history-of-the-sexual-revolution tour, which will include predictable stops at the Supreme Court, Capitol, and FBI as well as those sites with less traditional historic appeal: the Department of State, where a “homosexual witch hunt” took place in the ’50s, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill chatted over an infamous Pepsi can in the ’80s, and Gary Hart’s former town house, where his presidential ambitions ended.
Activist Acrimony Last month, Ward 8 activist Phil Pannell blasted a particularly unconditional brand of malice at fellow neighborhood do-gooder Dorothy Brizill after she questioned the ethics of Pannell pal and D.C. Council at-large race loser Arrington Dixon. After the election, Pannell left a vicious message on Brizill’s machine calling the Ward 1 activist assorted niceties such as “garbage,” “a low-life heifer,” and a “worthless black bitch.” Oh, and don’t let us forget “a worthless piece of shit, by the way.” Wrapping up his courtesy call, Pannell challenged Brizill to go ahead and put his message on the Internet, where Brizill posts information about her council watchdog group, D.C. Watch. And that’s just what she did, for all web browsers to see. In an interview, Pannell says he stands by his statement. Brizill is an “intellectually dishonest…homophobe,” he says. And besides, he adds, “I don’t think she’s been very civil with me.”
Reporting by Chaka Freeman, Amanda Ripley, and Elissa Silverman. Please send your City Desk tips to Elissa Silverman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.