District residents have discovered the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)’s new definition of “quality of life” crimespublic urination and riding on unregistered bicycles. Car theft, however, doesn’t seem to be a priority. In order to fulfill MPD Chief Larry Soulsby’s mandate to flood the streets with officers, most station commanders are reportedly disbanding their auto-theft units. Although a police spokesperson denied that the chief gave an explicit order, several rank-and-file officers said auto-theft investigations will be scattered across the force. Detective Sean Caine, the auto-theft specialist for the 2nd District, says he expects that by summer’s end only one officer in each district will handle car theftsin addition to other duties. “I don’t think it will be as effective,” Caine says. “I’ve gathered a lot of information on auto theft. I know who’s doing what.” But Caine doesn’t know whether he’ll be using that know-how to catch auto thieves after the game of musical chairs ends.
Georgetown University’s history of stormy relations with its gay and lesbian students reached a low point in 1986, when a federal court hammered the school for denying gay student groups funding and access to university facilities. Today, the relationship is still far from harmonious, but officials at the Jesuit college seemed duly embarrassed when a conference called “Homosexuality and American Public Life” was held on campus. The conference was sponsored by the American Public Philosophy Institute, a Milwaukee-based group that says gays are victims of a “tragic affliction” requiring “prevention and treatment.” University authorities say Marriott Corp., which independently operates the hotel and conference center on campus, had booked the conference without their knowledge. As conservative poster boy William Kristol and self-proclaimed “recovered” gays manned panel discussions inside the conference hall last Thursday, a cluster of about 35 protesters marched around outside, chanting, “Shame on you, Georgetown U. Fags and dykes are people, too.” Dan Porterfield, the university’s top flack, says the demonstration was just fine with him. “I think the role of the university should be to promote more speech, not less,” he says.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) are legendary bastions of petty bickering over where to put a bus stop and whether Bob’s Corner Store deserves a liquor license. But lately many ANCs never even get that far because they can’t decide whether they’re actually meeting. The crux of the problem is that elusive staple of parliamentary procedurethe quorum. On July 8, the D.C. Council will hold a hearing on a bill to clarify that a quorum is defined as a majority of the elected representatives currently serving on the ANCprovided that a majority of the positions are filled. Councilmember Kathy Patterson introduced the measure after receiving numerous calls from ANC commissioners confused about quorum rules. “A lot of ANCs have vacancies and were having problems getting a quorum together,” says an aide to Patterson. The scarcity of commissioners may have something to do with the scarcity of power in ANCs. “Fewer and fewer people have been running for election…as power shifts to the financial authority and other parts of government,” the aide surmises. Patterson’s bill can’t do much about that.