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After a week of taping in D.C., you’d think Politically Incorrect host Bill Maher could scare up a few nice things to say about his host city. Nice try. Before filming began on his first night back in Hollywood—a night that featured Hootie (of Blowfish fame) and Penn (of Teller fame) debating the fate of British au pair Louise Woodward (of dead baby fame)—Maher warmed up the crowd with a fistful of slams at Washington. After chewing through some boilerplate jokes about murder and Marion Barry, Maher stooped to the old saw about how D.C. is nice place to visit but he wouldn’t want to live here. Later, he revised his opinion, declaring that D.C. “isn’t even a nice place to visit.” If Maher makes good on his threat to stay away, D.C. will have to make do with one less blowhard adding to the local hot-air quotient.

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Crony Baloney, Redux In 1987, former deputy mayor of finance Alphonse Hill pleaded guilty to fraud for a scheme that steered at least $260,000 worth of city auditing contracts to friends certified as minority contractors. After serving his time, Hill decided he’d get back in the swing of things by starting his own accounting firm—A.G. Hill and Associates— and go after one of the city’s minority set-aside contracts. But he claims that his company was stiffed $28,720.50 after supplying “accounting and other financial services” to the city in February 1996. Hill is now suing the D.C. government for breach of contract.

Tackling Dummies Ninety-five women shlepped out to Jack Kent Cooke Stadium last Thursday for an afternoon of activities titled “Chalk Talk 101: Football for Women.” The lecture, sponsored by the Washington Redskins and the Hair Cuttery (playing defense against helmet hair, perhaps?), promised to tackle gridiron basics for those previously deprived of passes and punts. Most attendees admitted that they had come in an effort to develop talking points with husbands and boyfriends as they huddle in front of the television Sundays and Monday nights. And the teachers took cues from their students by using gender-specific analogies. “Ladies, you know what holding is. You’ve [experienced] it at the JC Penney white sale,” explained one instructor.

Micro Mismanagement MLK Library patrons eager to do some archival research last week formed a queue while nine microfilm machines out of a total of 15 were covered with signs that read,”Due to present budget crisis our service contract has not been renewed.” Molly Raphael, acting director of the D.C. library system, explained that the service contracts had lapsed because Congress hadn’t signed off on the District’s budget. She expects that the machines will be fixed as early as next week now that Congress has finally gotten off its collective butt. But burnt-out bulbs aren’t the only thing plaguing the library system. A summer audit showed that the library had grossly mismanaged funds, leaving almost $900,000 in unspent funds despite over $300,000 in unpaid bills. “It’s ridiculous,” says one employee.

Warning Signs Though activists from the Palisades Citizens Association despise CVS for colonizing the MacArthur Theater, they used to be impressed by the company’s apparent respect for free speech. CVS officials, after all, never once objected to signs saying, “Save Our Theater” that activists planted in the median strip across the street from the historic building after the lease changed hands. But now that the store has opened for business, it seems to have adopted a stricter interpretation of the First Amendment. On Nov. 10, protesters put up a sign saying, “Free Our Theater; Boycott CVS” on the same patch of grass. It was gone by day’s end. “They made the police take it down,” says Penny Pagano, the spirited civic association leader who has led the fight against CVS. CVS spokesman Fred McGrail says that the store is unaffected by Pagano’s boycott and that business is “exceeding our expectations.” Pagano isn’t so sure. “People tell me it’s awfully slow in there. And apparently, one guy walked in there, grabbed a bottle of windshield-washer fluid, and brought it to the checkout counter. But he looked at the clerk and said, ‘I just can’t do this,’ and walked out of the store.”

Reporting by Sharada Chidambaram, Laura Lang, Michael Schaffer, and Erik Wemple.

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