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Each summer, wet-behind-the-ears student activists flock to Washington to put their ideology to work. One door they might not have thought to knock on is the offices of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army. After President Clinton extended a visa to leader Gerry Adams back in 1995, Sinn Fein established offices in D.C. The organization is now seeking student interns to engage in the never-ending battle to answer phones, shuffle papers, and yes, get the British empire to vacate Ireland.
Golden Opportunity Last Monday, Mayor Marion Barry officially named Terence C. Golden, president and CEO of the Host Marriott Corp., to spearhead the Washington Convention Center Authority, the group charged with overseeing the construction of the new $650-million center at Mt. Vernon Square. A well-known dealer in real estate, Golden is no novice to bloated government projects. As head of the Government Services Agency (GSA) during the second term of the Reagan administration, Golden championed a Federal Triangle project now known as the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which gained the distinction of being the most expensive federal building ever constructed. In 1987, Golden (who left GSA in 1988) pushed the projected $362-million complex as a money saver for the feds; 10 years later, the boondoggle has cost taxpayers upward of $818 million. Maybe the new convention digs can surpass $1 billion with Golden on board.
Vocal Yokels As a candidate for president in 1992, Bill Clinton won the hearts of many District residents by publicly announcing his support for D.C. statehood. But as commander-in-chief, Clinton seems to have experienced amnesia on the issue, much to the chagrin of local elected officials. But don’t look to the Washington Post to hold the president’s feet to the fire. A Dec. 10 editorial lambasted local politicos for expressing their disappointment over Clinton’s lukewarmand extremely briefDec. 7 address to District residents at Metropolitan Baptist Church, saying they were “fine ones to gripe.” Then, last Sunday, Post reporter David Vise followed up the editorial with a news story sympathetically titled “Clinton’s Aid to District Wins Him Little but Scorn.” Right from the opening, Vise propped up the president by stating that “Clinton has done more to help the District than any president in decades, experts say.” Vise proceeded to defend his statement without quoting even one “expert.” In fact, the only person he got to back him upRep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.)called District politicians “a bunch of whining ingrates.”
Hands-On Leadership The scene: Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Sr. behind the wheel of his black Ford Thunderbird, slowly approaching the corner of 4th Street and Florida Avenue NE. “What’s going on over there?” Thomas asks his fellow passengers as he strains his neck to peer down a nearby alley. “They’re dumping shit,” announces his young legislative assistant from the back seat. Thomas hits the accelerator and within seconds is right behind the alleged perpetrators. He rolls down the window and between drags on his cigarette politely informs them that they’re breaking the law. “I wouldn’t throw trash on the ground like this,” says one of the sweat-shirted workers. But the evidence is firmly planted on the ground in front of the car. Thomas starts dialing his car phone as he tells the two young gentlemen, “Start getting it up or I’m going to call the police.” Moments later, the ground is cleared, the problem solved, and the mayor of Ward 5 moves on.
Glory Days Patrons of the U Street/Cardozo Metro station might be shaking their heads after the reappearance of construction equipment near the 11th Street entrance. Another delay in the Green Line? Cool your jets: The digging has nothing to do with the ongoing quest to bolt out to Beltsville. It is instead laying the groundwork for a $7-million memorial park dedicated to the 185,000 African American soldiers (as well as their 10,000 white officers) who fought for the Union in the Civil War. The new memorial and accompanying visitor’s center will be completed in late 1998, still beating the Green Line to the finish by one year.
Reporting by Dan Avery, Chaka Freeman, Laura Lang, and Amanda Ripley.
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