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Perilously close to the number 999,999, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles recently ditched its old six-digit tags in favor of a layout of two letters and four numbers. “We just ran out of numbers,” says Department of Public Works transportation systems administrator Gwen Mitchell. The first of the new license plates begin with the letters AA, creating something of a buzz over whether the city was tagging the cars of Alcoholics Anonymous members, African-Americans, or maybe administrative assistants. But Mitchell promises that AA will be followed by AB, then AC, and so on. The District ran out of license-plate numbers once before, 15 years ago, but simply went back to zero. This time, wary of having sets of identical plates on the road, the city adopted letters. People bothered by the new system had better get used to it: While the old format ran out just short of 1 million, D.C. will have to attract 6,760,000 new registered motorists before reformatting again.
Adams Morgan residents came to last week’s advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) meeting to discuss concerns surrounding the National Zoo. Little did they know they were in for a scene from Wild Kingdom. During a debate over “civility,” of all things, Aaron Goldstein says fellow ANC 1C commissioner Linda Softli told him to “shut up,” charged toward him, and wailed on Chairman Daniel Horrigan when he stopped her. Softli says she actually told Goldstein to “please be quiet” and then “tried to go over to him so I could pat him on the back and get him to sit down.” She says she was “body blocked” by Horrigan. Ultimately, Horrigan and Goldstein fled the scene. The evening’s unpleasantries began when commissioner James Coleman proposed an unsuccessful resolution to limit Horrigan’s prerogatives as chair. Coleman says the commission is not well served by Horrigan’s “flippancy and smart remarks.” Horrigan counters that Coleman shows an “obvious lack of preparedness” at meetings and purposefully obstructs ANC business. “To sum it up,” Goldstein says, “I think it’s sad. I think the ANCs could accomplish a lot…but they’re hampered by egos and childishness…and a lot of misunderstanding.” ANC 1C was last in the news in January because the previous chair refused to let the new commissioners into the office. Not such a bad idea, it appears, after all.
The latest candidate to enter the meager field of 1998 mayoral contenders is Unity Nation founder and one-time Ward 8 D.C. Council candidate Malik Zulu Shabazz. His supporters circulated a press release last week proclaiming that “Esq. Rev. Dr. Atty. Master Mason Mullah Malik Zulu Shabbazz [sic] has reportedly outlined a 1,105 page manifesto to rebuild, restore and ‘blacken’ Washington, D.C.” In addition to spelling Shabazz’s name wrong, the release said Shabazz would work toward removing the control board, the Federal City Council, and “all Korean merchant parasites” from Washington. Shabazz, running on the independent ticket, may face some stiff competition in John Deaton, who claims to be the only real clown running for the office. Deaton does a vaudeville act at Escandalo in Dupont Circle and is a graduate of the Ringling Brothers Clown College. He’s been riding his unicycle around Dupont Circle collecting signatures to get his name on the ballot, and he’s feeling optimistic. “Attracting attention is my job,” says Deaton.