Georgetown University students love to label their school the Harvard or Yale of D.C., but it’s closer to New Mexico Stateat least financially speaking. Problems began three years ago, when New York-based Moody’s Investors Service bounced Georgetown down to an “A1” rating (smack in the middle of the investment-risk spectrum). Two weeks ago, the outlook for the school’s future ranking nosedived from stable to negative. The reason: Unlike its overachieving alum, Bill Clinton, the school gets poor grades in the fund-raising department. And running a teaching hospital in an overcrowded health care market is a pricey burden, explains John Nelson, a VP at Moody’s. But university officials don’t share Wall Street’s pessimism. “It’s a very dynamic period and we’re feeling very good,” says GU spokesperson Janis Johnson, citing the hospital’s plan to dramatically reduce costs and boost revenue. Plans notwithstanding, Georgetown’s rating could drop again if it doesn’t conquer its balance sheet fast. Nelson suggests that investors may turn to other universities. “Or maybe,” he adds, “they’ll invest in the District of Columbia.”
Elliott Abrams, the Reagan administration’s Latin America point man, got a happy reprieve when President George Bush pardoned him for lying to Congress during the Iran-contra affair. But the D.C. Bar apparently doesn’t share Bush’s view of the former assistant secretary of state. In 1991, after extensive hearings, bar officials recommended suspending Abrams from practicing law in D.C. for a year. Abrams appealed, successfully arguing that the pardon shielded him from disciplinary action. However, the D.C. Court of Appeals recently reversed itself, ruling that Abram’s presidential pardon “could not and did not require the court to close its eyes to the fact that Abrams did what he did.” The court handed Abrams a public censurea slap on the hand that still allows him to practice law. Nonetheless, Abrams’ attorney, Charles J. Cooper, says Abrams will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The pardon obliterated the offense itself,” says Cooper. “No official punishment can be visited upon Mr. Abrams in the criminal process or the bar process.” Even if litigation can’t clear Abrams’ name, his job titlepresident of the nonprofit Ethics and Public Policy Centersure is clean these days.
A year ago, Washington City Paper reported that a gay organization was planning to include D.C. in the circuit of massive gay dance parties held every few weeks in North American cities. The parties, we wrote, are “usually drug-infested,” and the D.C. onedubbed “Cherry Jubilee”was to be held in a Commerce Department auditorium. Afterward, the Rayburn House Office Building was to host the “Recovery Brunch.” Both events went off as planned, with one glitch: After reading City Paper, a right-wing free-lancer attended the dance and wrote a story describing an orgy of public sex and drug use. The exaggerated tale caught the attention of then-Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.) and other conservatives. Soon Dornan was fulminating on the House floor, and the Federal Protective Service was investigating. No charges were ever filed, but the fracas was apparently enough to keep Cherry Jubilee IIset for April 25-27far from any federal buildings. This year, Saturday-night partygoers will fill the Capitol Ballroom, and the Sunday eventthis time a “Farewell Brunch”will take place at Capitol City Brewing Company. Organizers didn’t return calls, but the Jubilee web site encourages attendees “to act responsibly.”