NIMBYites from the Palisades Citizens Association (PCA) seemed to have exhausted all means of halting the conversion of their beloved MacArthur Theater into a CVS outlet. Palisades activists had held well-publicized protests in front of the historic structure, and even voted to boycott the drugstore, but CVS went right ahead with its plan to sell Bic shavers and Juicy Juice where moviegoers once huddled. So the association is now plotting to take on CVS from the inside. In a move reminiscent of the 1980s takeover mania, PCA recently gobbled up five shares of CVS stock at roughly $50 per share, according to PCA president Penny Pagano. The disaffected shareholders, Pagano says, will storm next year’s stockholders meeting armed with their .000003 percent stake in CVS. “We are going to ask to be on the agenda,” Pagano says. “We hope that they would come up with a policy and stop destroying historic buildings across the country.” Pagano adds that she finds “nothing ironic” in buying stock in a company she’s boycotting. “We just wanted to have a voice,” she says. A CVS spokesperson did not return calls on the matter.
Firestarter Opening day for D.C. Public Schools was four days off when schools CEO Gen. Julius Becton made an ominous Sept. 18 statement: “Pending a major catastropheand I mean sabotageall of our schools will open on Monday.” He went on to explain that his “sabotage” fears stem from two recent fires at D.C. schools. “An arsonist is out there,” Becton said at the Brookings Institution conference. “Another attempt wouldn’t surprise me.” But the incidents in questionone at Lafayette Elementary School in Northwest and the other at Kimball Elementary School in Southeastwere hardly Firestarter material. “It wasn’t the school that was a target,” says D.C. Battalion Fire Chief Alvin Carter about the Lafayette fire. “It was two jiffy-johns outside. The other was an auto fire. Neither started as a building fire.” Carter says the incidents appear to be isolated pranks. “I would think that if someone was trying to set a school on fire, they’d set the building on fire,” he adds. As for Becton’s dire warning, Carter says, “I have a little difficulty when people start making statements outside their area of expertise.”
Poster Kids Although campaign posters are generally aimed at increasing a
candidate’s name recognition, the signs themselves have become a sore spot in D.C. politics. In last spring’s Ward 6 special election, rival candidates nearly came to blows while jockeying for poster space on lampposts and telephone poles. But the poster wars may soon die out if Ward 8 Councilmember Sandy Allen gets her way. Last month, Allen introduced legislation to bar all advertising on public lampposts and telephone poles (postering trees is already illegal). The move delighted Ward 8 activists, who have been lobbying the city for years to clean up day-glo posters advertising go-go shows. But Mike Battle, Allen’s legislative aid, says free-speech issues prevented the council from barring any specific kind of advertising, so the bill bans posters of every breed. Battle says it was really the campaign posters that prompted Allen to sponsor the bill, though. “We have posters up from two and three elections ago,” he says. So far, none of Allen’s council colleagues has signed onto the bill, and for good reason: Perennial candidates like Harold Brazil would be forced to scramble to remove their yellowing visages that litter the city.
State of Denial These days, prospects look bleak for D.C.’s achieving democracy, let alone statehood. But that doesn’t mean we can’t play dress-up: D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas introduced a bill this summer to designate a new flag “if and when D.C. becomes a state,” according to Rudi Schreiber, Thomas’ spokesperson. And this month, when a bill was introduced in the House asking all statesbut not D.C.to submit designs for a commemorative quarter, D.C. congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton demanded that the District be included. Thomas’ new flag would feature a blue banner with bars and stripes on a shield (much like D.C.’s current flagbut who’ll notice?). “Flags are very symbolic,” Schreiber says. “They’re something for people to rally behind.” Don’t look for the council to rally for a vote on the proposal any time soon.
Reporting by Laura Lang, Stephanie Mencimer, Tom Stabile, and Erik Wemple
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