Judging from D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s $40,000 war chest for the May 7 primary elections, you’d think the congresswoman was fighting for her political life. In reality, Norton ran against absolutely no one, and thus far isn’t facing any challenge in the November election either. According to records filed recently with the Federal Elections Commission, Norton took contributions from the usual suspects who have a special interest in influencing District affairs. Businessman John Clyburn, who was tried and acquitted twice on charges of conspiring to defraud the District government in the early 1990s, was good for $500. Michael Hodge came up with $400—his Washington Business PAC spent $500,000 to help elect Mayor Marion Barry, and the PAC is now under federal investigation for money laundering. T. Conrad Monts, the developer who’s trying to win a contract to renovate the ailing District Building, gave Norton $1,000. Republican attorney Willie Leftwich matched Monts’ donation. (Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards gave $250, presumably in the interest of sisterhood.) Norton campaign spokeswoman Karen Mulhauser says just because Norton is unopposed doesn’t mean she doesn’t need to run a campaign. “The voters will think she’s taking them for granted,” says Mulhauser. “And we’re constantly getting calls from people in the community who want to organize gatherings and events to say, ‘Thank you, Mrs. Norton, for all you’ve done for us.’”
Bad Rap Early this year, the famously frumpy 9th Street YWCA turned the management of its gym over to Sport and Health, a private company that promised to convert the facility into a profit-making enterprise without destroying its community flavor (See “It Was Fun to Swim at the YWCA,” 3/29). Staff and club members said at the time that they feared their club would become indistinguishable from D.C.’s myriad yuppie spas. They turned out to be right. Staffers and members say that shortly after Sport and Health took over, the new club manager, Jennifer Gilton, posted a note forbidding staffers to play rap or “urban music” in the club’s training room. They claim she also removed copies of the Washington Blade, D.C.’s gay weekly paper, from the club’s entryway. “She’s not used to being around diversity,” complained one employee. Gilton won’t comment except to say that the anti-rap sign “doesn’t exist now” and that members had complained about the music.
Going for Broke Former D.C. Taxicab Commissioner Karen Jones Herbert seems to be missing her paycheck since she got the hook. Herbert was forced to retire in April after the Washington Post reported that she illegally held driver’s licenses in both D.C. and Maryland. On July 1, one day before Herbert’s Temple Hills, Md., home was slated for a foreclosure sale, she filed Chapter 13 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court—for the second time in three years. According to the bankruptcy filings, Herbert is $15,000 behind on her house payments. Lucky for Herbert, who is also an attorney, the Office of Bar Counsel declined Ward 8 activist Sandra Seegars’ request that it disbar Herbert for obtaining the two driver’s licenses. Herbert is now paying the bills working with attorney Mabel Dole Haden, who got Herbert “a little room” down the hall from her 9th Street firm after she got booted from the taxicab commission. The first black woman to receive a master’s degree from Georgetown Law School in 1956, Haden is supportive of Herbert’s career move. “She’s wading in the water to get into court with me,” Haden says. “I think she will be a very good trial attorney. Karen is very adaptable.”