It’s anyone’s guess why the Queen of Soul would want to leave family and friends in Detroit to move to a place like the District. Both cities, after all, have their share of urban flight, crime, and famously unresponsive municipal government. But that won’t stop Aretha Franklin from packing up her Cadillac and heading to D.C. for good. Aretha, who frequently entertains at the White House and appeared at the Washington Hilton just weeks ago for the glitzy Leukemia Ball, may simply be sick of the commute. Or perhaps the reported $80,000 honorarium she received for the Hilton performance helped endear the city to her. Although sources say she’s been scoping out Georgetown, a spokesperson from Arista Records clammed up when asked exactly when, why, and where Aretha would build her capital nest. In any case, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who chats with Aretha regularly in her hometown church, denies that the District’s gain is Michigan’s loss: “Detroit is not losing Aretha. Rather, we are sharing her with Washington, D.C….She’ll always be a Detroiter.”
One year ago, hordes of angry students and faculty from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) spilled onto Connecticut Avenue to protest proposed cuts to the university’s budget. Police stopped traffic for nearly 15 hours, Mayor Barry and D.C. Council Chairman Dave Clarke mustered a show of solidarity, and UDC funding assumed a prominent spot on the local political agenda. Last Friday, UDC activists tried to stage the PR coup one more time. Posters on campus called for a “day of absence,” encouraging students to abandon classrooms in an act of protest over cuts that have dropped 125 professors from the school’s faculty. But Connecticut Avenue commuters weren’t forced into any detours this year. Most students ignored the declaration and simply attended class. Perhaps the student body had trouble identifying with the International Socialist Organization (ISO), whose clenched-fist symbol dominated the signs and banners at the protest. Twenty minutes after bellowing that they were “fired up and ain’t gonna take it no more,” the protesters called it a dayby 12:45.
Residents of the Woodley Park neighborhood in Ward 3 live in nice houses, eat in fine restaurants, and take nighttime walks on quiet, tree-lined streets. But they have a hell of a time finding a parking spota difficulty they’re blaming on their Ward 1 neighbors across the bridge in Adams Morgan and Kalorama. Woodley Parkers have a history of fighting off proposals by the city to stick their neighborhood in Ward 1’s parking zonea move that would protect them from meter maids in Adams Morgan but make them vulnerable in Ward 3 shopping areas like Cleveland Park. And when the city compromised and allowed motorists with both Ward 1 and Ward 3 parking stickers to park in Woodley Park, neighborhood activists complained again, charging that Ward 1 interlopers were clogging their streets. Early last month, the pressure paid off when the city quietly posted signs for Ward 3-only parking. But Delphine Shepard, the District’s parking management chief, says a new wave of complaints will bring the dual-zone signs back. Woodley Park Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Cheryl Opacinch, meanwhile, says Ward 1 vehicles still crowd the area. “My guess is that we’re not getting any enforcement,” she says, “so it hasn’t made any difference.”