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Scene: The Yong Yun Rec Room at the MacBarrys’ home in Southeast
Time: Last Weekend
Lord MacBarry: [laughing] That banker, William Fitzgerald of Independent Federal, he wants to purchase my exit from the throne by dunning his well-heeled club to create a refuge for me. [laughing harder] He and his shoulder-clappers think the people will hail me again when next they speak their will. That’s why he doth come forth with his enticement.
Lady MacBarry: Fitzgerald is not altogether a fool. He doth befriend thee by dangling a job in front of thee. Yet he doth curry favor with him who will take thy place by showing himself as the crafty one who rid the kingdom of Lord MacBarrya feat no politician can muster.
MacBarry: [turning sullen] But an endowment at the shriveling University of the District of Columbia is but a foul gift from a fishmonger. Even the station of president at that meager institution would lie beneath me. Harvard, perhaps, but never UDC. [noticing his wife’s silence] Pray thee, M’Lady, speak! Thou dost dialogue with thy shadow, so I begin to suspect thy hand behind Fitzgerald’s ploy.
Lady MacBarry: Thou should not be so quick to send away gifts thy servants offer you. But my lord is right that the university would have died on the vine by now, if not for thy efforts.
MacBarry: Thy words stoke fear in my heart that my lady grows weary of her station beside her master.
Lady MacBarry: Thy lady grows weary of the childlike inhabitants of the kingdom always clawing at me for favors. And I loathe the jackals of journalism forever nipping at my heels.
MacBarry: [goading] Perhaps if my wife would finish putting her musings and her grievances on parchment, we could collect a fortune for thy memoirs and afford to laugh at Fitzgerald’s insulting gesture.
Lady MacBarry: [taunting] And perhaps if my husband would finish collecting his thoughts, we could peddle thy book to the eager moneymen of Hollywood, who would shower us with millions just for the chance to trumpet thy incredible story.
MacBarry: [backing down] I have too much tormenting my mind right now to think of such frivolous endeavors. I will encourage Fitzgerald in his entreaties. He hath been a loyal ally; his friendship be not made of base metal.
He doth dine this Thursday at the Four Seasons with 300 of his “Alumni Luncheon” comrades, each one willing to dig into his pockets for my benefit. I will sit amongst them.
Lady MacBarry: [turning away] But I am plagued with nightmares about my husband’s next campaign. I fear thy loyal servant, Yong Yun, will betray thee.
MacBarry: Or thee. For it was thou, not thy husband, who stood here when Yun rebuilt this castle my lady cherishes so and constructed that fireplace that endlessly fastens thy gaze. It was thou, not thy husband, who walked among the merchants’ stalls with the fawning Yun to pick out the furnishings our eyes now behold. Perhaps thou tremble more for thy own welfare than for thy husband’s. But if my lady doth indeed concern herself over her lord, calm thy nerves. Yong Yun cannot tell anything that will harm me.
Lady MacBarry: My concern is only for thee. I fear not for my own sake.
MacBarry: Come now. We must get about my duties. Today your Lord must bestow an honorary black belt on a visiting warrior from the East, greet the Phyllis Wheatley society as the ladies assemble for their fortnightly banquet, cut a ribbon for the Mount Pleasant community festival, and greet the schoolchildren from my home province of Itta Bena.
[sighing] Thy master longs for the time when his days brimmed with more significance, and promise.
[To be continued…]
Everyone in the District is united in the call for improved community policing by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Activists, citizens’ groups, and politicians have been calling for greater police presence in city neighborhoods for years. So when MPD Chief Larry Soulsby released a plan to make it all happen, he fairly expected the city to rally around him.
Soulsby, however, overlooked a factor that any street-level cop deals with on every shift: turf.
When word leaked out recently that the nonprofit anti-drug D.C. Community Prevention Partnership was maneuvering to become MPD’s official link to community groups, Soulsby faced a revolt from within his Citizen Advisory Councils (CAC). The seven CACs, one for each police district, date back to the early 1970s and former D.C. police Chief Jerry Wilson. In this decade, the CACs have led a drive for the much-talked-about-but-seldom-seen community policing concept in the District.
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At a meeting last week, CAC members threatened to resign en masse if Soulsby supplanted their authority by conferring community liaison authority on the partnership, which has already elbowed its way into the role of gatekeeper for the millions in federal drug-education and -prevention dollars that flow annually to the District. Now the nonprofit, like many of the country’s canny service providers who have followed the shift of federal dollars from drug treatment to crime prevention over the past decade, is trying to cash in on the federal grant du jourcommunity policing. The feds are prepared to disburse an estimated $15 million to the District as soon as MPD gets the necessary paperwork completed.
To showcase its qualifications for the funds, the partnership has established something called Ward Action Networks (WAN), which promote crime-prevention efforts in each of the city’s eight wards. The politically connected partnership and WAN are part of a network of service providers aligned with U.S. Attorney Eric Holder’s “Safe Summer” youth program and D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton’s boot camp for urban youth.
The fight over money and territory heated up after a report by the Booz-Allen & Hamilton consulting firm that urged MPD to establish a community liaison. The elected presidents of the seven CACs, who meet monthly with Soulsby, are hoping to fill that role collectively.
“These people have not been out there in the trenches doing the work,” a CAC member said this week in reference to the partnership, which is headed by Linda Fisher. Soulsby has reportedly assured his jittery CAC leaders that he plans to continue to work with them and will not put Fisher’s group in control of the District’s community policing effort.
The skirmish over the department’s selection of a community policing liaison is but the latest episode in an increasingly heated battle over reforming the department and redrawing the city’s police district map. Soulsby, under the guidance of Booz-Allen, wants to redesign the current seven police districts and replace the present 138 scout-car beats with 80 “police service areas” (PSA). Each PSA will essentially become a precinct headed by a beat sergeant in command of 14 to 19 officers.
Detectives will also be dispersed from headquarters downtown to work in the different PSAs, which could make it difficult in the future to round up enough shields for the daily card games.
When Soulsby last month unveiled the initial redesigns for the 1st District, which includes Capitol Hill, and the 3rd District, encompassing Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and Downtown, the plan drew immediate fire from community activists for dividing communities and neighborhoods into different police districts. Government watchdog Dorothy Brizill interrupted the chief’s news conference to protest the total lack of community input in the redesign.
Maybe the department needs a community liaison after all.
Police district commanders have gotten similar treatment at community meetings on the redistricting plan. “There hasn’t been due process, even though the final result should be a vast improvement,” says Capitol Hill community policing activist Sally Byington. “The process has been terrible.”
After Soulsby rolls out the new policing map this week, the D.C. Council, and particularly Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Evans, will be forced to settle the dispute by approving or rejecting the chief’s plan.
The ever-expanding empire of Chief Financial Officer Anthony Williams now includes control over the more than $1.2 billion in federal grant money that flows annually to the District. The total is nearly double the city’s much-coveted and endangered $660-million annual federal payment. But city officials have no handle on who gets the grants and how the money is spent. So the control board, with the consent of Congress, handed the mess to Williams, who hopes to undo the city’s sad history of allowing federal dollars to slip away…
Auditors from the U.S. General Accounting Office have been complaining for years that they can’t figure out just how many people work for the D.C. government. The feds’ frustration, however, has been Barry’s delight. Keeping personnel records under wraps has been a career priority for Hizzoner, whose political survival depends on finding shady sinecures for his cronies. But Barry can no longer block out the sunshine from city personnel records.
Ever since 1981, when Barry refused to disclose D.C. government salaries requested by a congressional subcommittee, Congress each year has inserted language into D.C.’s budget requiring public disclosure of the names and salaries of D.C. employees. The budget language also bars the city from spending federal money to compensate any D.C. worker “whose name and salary is not available for public inspection.” Until recently, the law required the city to compile an annual list of government workers and their salaries, and to place the list in a designated place, such as a public library, readily available to the public. The current version of the law simply requires the D.C. government to disclose the salary of an employee when asked.
But Congress never bothered to enforce the disclosure rules.
During his previous stint as mayor, Hizzoner refused to let his personnel department purchase a computerized personnel payroll system that would have revealed instantly who was on the payroll and where each employee worked. A D.C. personnel department official told Congress in the late 1980s that bid solicitations had been prepared to purchase such a system, but that’s as far as the process went. “Barry would never let it go through,” recalls a congressional staffer familiar with the incident. “For political reasons, he wanted to keep secret who was on the payroll and how they were being paid.”
Nearly a decade later, the city is proceeding with a new plan to install the same system. This time, Barry, whose power has been greatly diminished over the past two years by the creation of the control board and the CFO, is unable to block it…
The tiny D.C. Statehood Party should consider disbanding as a political party and re-forming as a musical group. Party faithful played and sang jazz tunes during last weekend’s annual convention to the paltry crowd of only some two dozen loyalists who bothered to turn out for the event. Local politicians, who usually pay lip service to the statehood movement, even snubbed Statehooders at a Friday-night fundraiser featuring an impressive array of intraparty talent.
Once At-Large Statehood Councilmember Hilda Mason makes the long-overdue decision to retire, the 26-year-old party is likely to disappear.CP
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