When D.C. Auditor Russell Smith recently tried to document how the Department of Human Services (DHS) was spending federal grant money, DHS officials’ flair for excuse-making rivaled that of the fourth-grader whose dog ate his homework. According to Smith’s recent report, DHS officials told him the 1993 financial records he wanted were partially destroyed by fire, and the remaining ones were housed in an asbestos-laden building that was just too dangerous for nosy auditors to enter. “That’s an excuse we get all the time from agencies,” says a skeptical source in the auditor’s office. Indeed, no one at DHS seems to know which buildings were actually torched. DHS spokeswoman Madelyn Andrews says the agency has nothing to hide; it just can’t always preserve records for the three years required by law. Andrews says, “As a result of downsizing, [we have] a fairly fragile system in terms of record keeping.”
I Want My TNN Country music may be the nation’s most popular music, but ever since District Cablevision dropped The Nashville Network (TNN) from its lineup two years ago, even D.C. resident Mary Chapin Carpenter can’t watch her own videos on TV. Soon though, Grand ’Ole Opry–starved residents could be back in the saddle again. The D.C. Council has succumbed to lobbying efforts by the Committee to Return TNN to District Cablevision, a group of country-western fans endorsed by Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea, and other stars appalled that their videos weren’t being broadcast in the nation’s capital. Last month, the council passed a resolution directing District Cablevison to restore the channel. No date has been set for TNN’s return to Washington, but District Cablevision officials say the network will be reinstated “within a reasonable time period,’’ as urged in the council resolution. Sounds like the council has finally found someone who takes its resolutions seriously. Perhaps TNN execs would have second thoughts if they tuned in to cable Channel 13, which airs D.C. council hearings.
Soul Searching In Adams Morgan these days, pimply faced Mormon missionaries have become as ubiquitous as homeless “parking assistants.” Pestering passers-by and idling truck drivers, the Latter Day Saints have apparently stepped up their efforts to save some Spanish-speaking souls. According to Elder Rogers at the Washington D.C. North Mission, the church has about 180 missionaries in the metro area—a good chunk of whom are in Adams Morgan. “There are some neighborhoods that are more responsive to our mission work,” says Rogers, explaining that they tend to get the best responses in neighborhoods with lots of Latino residents (which he opines has more to do with income level than culture). The church keeps a stable of apartments in the area to house kids fresh out of its Provo, Utah, missionary training center, where missionaries get language training and tips on using small talk to spread the good word. Two such proselytizers visited Stereo Discounters on Columbia Road last week, allegedly shopping for a blender. But store employee Salvador Marroquin says he had seen the two schlepping all over Adams Morgan in their white shirts and name tags. He headed them off with a flurry of questions—and an invitation to his Catholic church—before they got down to business and invited him to the Mormon temple. (They never bought a blender.) “I see them a lot around here talking to people,” Marroquin said. “One told me he was from Ohio. He didn’t look Latino, but his Spanish wasn’t bad.”