Political observers don’t have to look far for signs that Mayor Barry is plotting to campaign for his fifth term at 1 Judiciary Square. The mayor’s name is plastered all over town these days. The Woodley Park section of Connecticut Avenue is festooned with colorful banners featuring the mayor’s name, a lovely sketch of the Capitol, and the Visa logo. The credit-card company funded the same promo last year in Georgetown, according to D.C. tourism officials. Now all 7,000 D.C. taxi drivers are being ordered to post new fare stickers and passenger-rights signs that welcome visitors to Washington and also happen to bear the mayor’s name in large type. Hacks, who are busy gathering signatures for Barry’s removal, are not too happy about riding with the mayor. “Why should we promote him? He’s not promoting us,” says Louis B. Richardson, vice chairman of D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers Inc. The stickers, which Richardson vows won’t be appearing in his cab anytime soon, are green and whiteBarry’s campaign colors.
Historically speaking, the D.C. auditor, the inspector general, and other watchdogs can’t possibly catch all the corruption that takes place in D.C. government. That’s why At-Large Councilmember Carol Schwartz is hoping to tap an army of whistleblowers in the ranks of the bureaucracy. Schwartz introduced a revolutionary new bill last month that would beef up the District’s wimpy whistleblower laws. The bill was prompted by recent allegations that two Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) sergeants got the shaft after refusing to fake time sheets for Detective Ulysses Walltower, a former member of Barry’s security detail. Although Walltower eventually retired under pressure from MPD, the sergeants who turned him in were both transferred, and one was relegated to inflating basketballs at MPD’s Boys and Girls Club. The Schwartz bill would make such transfers illegal, forbidding the District from disciplining or harassing employees who refuse to participate in a corrupt act. The bill would also empower the city to fire supervisors who don’t report fraud and graft perpetrated by their minions. “We need all District employees to be our eyes and ears in the workplace to ensure that our dollars get well spent,” says Schwartz.
Opponents of the proposed convention center at Mount Vernon Square have been kvetching for weeks that the project, which would be Washington’s largest building, would displace Shaw residents and small businesses. Last week, the gaggle of protesters took their picket signs uptownto the lovely Georgetown home of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans. About a dozen Shaw residents, armed with “Save Shaw Culture” and “Stop the Plan” signs, gathered to complain that Evans has ignored their concerns. Things got pretty testy, though, when the evening protesters were confronted by Evans’ wife, who appeared cradling one of the couple’s infant triplets in her arms and shouted for the crowd to leave. The demonstrators say the convention planners, now headed by David Abramson, a longtime Barry spin doctor, are shutting dissenters out of community meetings. “They’re saying it’s wrong for us to go into their Georgetown neighborhood,” said a protester. “Well, we think it’s wrong for them to let big business come stampeding into our neighborhood.”