By now, you’ve heard all about the three-week-delayed opening of District schools due to inept handling of summer roofing repairs. But relatively speaking, the roof repairs are going off in timely fashion compared with school officials’ other tardy deliveries:

Adoption of Academic Reform Plan—over six months late

Long Range Facilities Master Plan—over five months past congressional deadline

Board of Trustees’ performance criteria—nearly two months since promised

Filling 87 teacher vacancies—weeks behind schedule

So quit worrying about schools opening late; worry about what happens once they open.

Mack Daddy It’s damn near impossible to find a saint in this city anymore, but municipal tow-truck driver Michael Mack comes close enough to merit a mention. During morning rush hour Thursday before last, Mack was plucking illegally parked cars off 16th Street NW with his rickety rig. As the District employee hooked up an ’88 Nissan Pulsar and started to drive away, the car’s guilty owner, a wheezing young man, stopped the truck and started pleading breathlessly: “I just moved here a few days ago, man, and the city is killing me! I thought my car would be safe until 9. Really.” He then tugged a crumpled $10 from his jeans and waved the measly bribe in the air. Mack motioned for the guy to calm the hell down, then steered truck and cargo to a side street and lowered the Pulsar from its restraints. Then Mack waved off the petty cash and smiled. “God bless you, Mr. Mack,” the suddenly religious citizen slobbered. “You are a saint.” Stunned by the dual acts of goodwill and honesty, the lucky resident later contacted Mack’s supervisor, Dorsey Vincent, at the Department of Public Works. After listening to prolonged gushing, a stunned Vincent murmured, “Oh…well, that’s nice….Uh, I’m glad to hear it.” Then, almost as an apology, Vincent added, “You know, we don’t really get much of this.”

“That’s it. I’m moving to Bethesda.”—A homeless man overheard abandoning his solicitation spot last week on the M Street bridge in Georgetown, which has been buried in construction for five months.

Mayor-for-Rent The indefatigable Committee to Recall Mayor Barry has started hanging out at local theaters, stalking intermission smokers for signatures. But on Aug. 29, when petitioners Sandra Seegars and Debbie Hanrahan descended upon theatergoers attending the much-hyped musical Rent, a U.S. Park Police officer threatend to arrest them. Seegars promptly contacted the Park Service, confirmed the legitimacy of her politicking, and in general made a big stink about it. A week later, she returned at intermission and collected 30 signatures in 15 minutes. And the officer? “He just stood there and looked,” Seegars says. Petitioners have also hit Arena Stage and Studio Theatre in the last couple of weeks. “I don’t think we’re going to have any problems at theaters from now on,” she says.

¡Viva Hamburguesa! Like supplicants at a pagan sacrifice, the throng stood before the altar of grills, breathing in the thick, meat-scented smoke and praising the workers shoveling the hot coals. In one of the more historic barbecues ever held in Washington, a crowd gathered at a Poolesville farm Sunday to gorge on the first shipment of Argentine beef to the U.S. in 70 years. In a few hours, they devoured some 300 pounds of tenderloin and strip loins cut from cattle pampered on the pampas—free-range, grass-fed, no hormone drugs, thank you. Now that the ban has been lifted, 20,000 tons of Argentine beef will be shipped here this year. Even so, locals may have problems finding those prized sirloins for a while, since both of Washington’s Argentine restaurants, Las Pampas in Georgetown and the Argentine Grill in Adams Morgan, inexplicably closed down just weeks ago. But according to Argentina’s new ambassador, Diego Guelar, a “world-class” Buenos Aires-style steak place, or parilla, will soon open in D.C. Until then, La Chapparal Meat Market in Arlington is stocking the Argentine carne.

Reporting by Sean Daly, Eddie Dean, Amanda Ripley, and Tom Stabile

Please send your City Desk tips to Amanda Ripley at or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.