Visitors to the Adams Morgan Day celebration mob 18th Street each year in search of the multicultural festival’s usual array of tchotchkes, cheap eats, and ethnic gear. But last Sunday, there was a new crowd-magnet amid the Bob Marley T-shirts and Guatemalan fannypacks: a chance to join the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). A couple of police recruitersposted behind a table strewn with handcuffs and nightsticksspent eight hours pitching low pay and the potential of a violent death to various fruit smoothie-swilling passers-by. “Whenever we’re trying to recruit, we’re going to go where the mass of people are,” explains MPD officer Robert Garisto. Garisto says the recruiters pulled in a mind-boggling 214 applications for their day’s work.
Voice Over “Speak With One Voice,” commands the memo from on-high to D.C. Public Schools (DCPS). The dictate, from DCPS Planning and Policy Manager Suzanne Conrad, orders receptionists at all schools to stick to the script when fielding inquiries about the schools’ three-week-delayed opening: “When answering phones, schools are closed due to roof replacement, not fire-code violations,” the memo declares. It may take more than a memo to enforce the groupthink: The first D.C. school operator we contacted mentioned fire-code violations within five fast seconds.
Flushing Out Deadbeats For years, D.C. was the only place in the country where landlords could ignore city water bills and keep their buildings’ toilets flushing. But after looking over more than $30 million in delinquent bills on its books, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) has decided to crack down on the scofflaw landlords. This weekend, WASA ran the first of a series of ads in the Washington Post outing its biggest deadbeats in hopes that they’ll be cowed into paying up. Topping the blacklist: Andrew and M.S. Serafin, of McLean, who WASA says owe $304,916 on a building at 14th and Columbia Road NW, and Morris and J.H. Ginsburg of Rockville, who reportedly owe $441,925 for seven properties. So far, the authority hasn’t gotten much of a response to its roll of shame, but it has managed to infuriate at least one alleged debtor. Says Retta Gilliam, executive director of the East of the River Development Corp., “This is just great. This is really going to help with my fund-raising.” Gilliam says her group’s $140,336 in unpaid water bills stems from three properties donated to the nonprofit by Signet Bank in 1993. East of the River has cleaned up the drug-infested properties, and the control board recently waived the water liens under the city’s distressed-property program, Gilliam says. “Those bills were incurred before we got those properties.”
Image Masters MPD’s squad cars are in for a makeover: At $220 per car, fleet management employees are replacing the big blue stripe on the District’s 83 scout cars with a flashier, multicolored banner of blue and red, moving the shield to the rear of the car and shrinking it a bit. Bob Rose, director of fleet management, says the change is more than just physical. “It’s based on the new vision,” Rose says. “It says that we’re changing. We’re changing the way we look. We’re changing the way we do business.”
The Korn Palace Can someone please stop Postie Tony Kornheiser’s relentless campaign to christen Jack Kent Cooke Stadium “The Big Jack”?
Dial 711 The Mount Pleasant 7-Eleven isn’t the most efficient outpost in the convenience store’s empire. At 3 in the languid morning on a Saturday night, a handful of people wait as the line plods forward. Maybe it’s the delay, but the guy in front has finally had enough. Midway through a predictable-enough argument about the price, he slams the demanded amount of money down on the counter and walks away. The cops staffing the store’s Police Community Work Station desk perk up. Before the steaming patron can make it out the door, D.C.’s finest have prevailed upon him to go back and make nice with the sales clerk by scooping his dough off the counter and putting it, politely, in the man’s hand. Who ever said a little police intimidation won’t make the world a nicer place?
Reporting by Laura Lang, Dave McKenna, Stephanie Mencimer, Michael Schaffer, and Tom Stabile
Please send your City Desk tips to Amanda Ripley at email@example.com or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.