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When Jack Stapleton found his Oakland Terrace NW home burglarized last month, he didn’t blame the cops, his neighbors, or rampant crime. Stapleton looked to the regional Water and Sewer Authority (WASA). After inadvertently cutting off water service to Stapleton’s home, WASA workers arrived on the scene and temporarily remedied the problem by rigging up a garden hose to a neighbor’s pipes. During subsequent repairs, WASA broke a gas line, severed an underground electric cable, and demolished a street-light pole. When the dust settled, some three blocks of street lights were out, shrouding the street in darkness for weeks and inviting the crooks that sacked Stapleton’s house. According to WASA spokesperson Libby Lawson, the electric and gas lines were unmarked when the damage occurred. “When the lines are marked, we don’t have this problem,” she says, adding that her agency will pay for repairs. Pepco spokesperson Nancy Daniel says that while her company has a contract to repair the light pole, it has no contract to fix the cable. “Once that cable is repaired,” Daniel says, “we can restore power.” Lawson says she has arranged for cable repairs through the Department of Public Works, but could not say when the work might be done. “They will get it on their list of things to do,” she reports.
In one of the most comprehensive crackdowns on underage drinking in the D.C. area, undercover Arlington police have hit 359 businesses since June and successfully made 223 illegal purchases. Police have targeted every establishment that sells alcohol, from Giant to the Little Viet Garden restaurant, reports Lt. Tom Hoffman. In light of the high arrest rate, the operation will continue for at least a couple of months, he says. The sweep has inspired Arlington restaurant employees to card anyone who falls within a 10-year radius of the drinking age. Waiters who don’t bother are advised to set aside some tips to cover the hefty $500 fines the county levies for serving minors. Sergio Lagna, a waiter at Pizza de Resistance, a restaurant near the Courthouse Metro, got popped on July 11. “I had 10 tables,” he says. “I was running from table to table. They sent two people in who looked 25 and acted like they were older. This is a lot of money for someone in my situation. Now I am a criminal. What the fuck?”
After spending many a long afternoon at the District’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), wandering through the dizzying maze of bureaucracy, local business consultants Andrea Fuller and Burck Smith took the matter into their own high-tech hands. Last month, they built the first-ever unofficial guide to BMV on the Internet. Replete with helpful tips, links to related sites, and horror stories, the site has already garnered about 100 hits. “It took me five trips to [BMV]Éand two to the inspection garage to get through all this shit,” Corene Kendrick reports in the Stories section. Surprisingly enough, Smith says, some readers charged that the site was too critical of BMV. Smith intends to soften the page a bit, and expressed some anxiety about publicity. “I don’t have my plates yet, so I don’t want to stir up any attention.” After three phone calls to the real BMV, Washington City Paper finally got in touch with Gwen Mitchell, an official at the Department of Public Works. Mitchell says she has not yet seen the site, but copied down the address (pw1.netcom.com/-burck/dcdmv.html) and says she’ll “have someone review it.”