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With dozens of its police cars in the shop waiting for repairs that the city can’t afford, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) claims it barely has enough cruisers to respond to serious emergency calls. But MPD Chief Larry Soulsby might want to take another fleet inventory before he cries auto poverty. MPD has given take-home cars to 94 officers, who are required to be District residents. The program puts cruisers out of service for at least part of each day, but the department apparently believes that parked cars deter more crime than those driven by patrol officers. The program might need a second look considering where some of those cars end up. Citizens will be surprised to know that newly elected Fraternal Order of Police labor committee Chairman Ron Robertson is assigned a cruiser that he parks at his home…in suburban Virginia. “It was done before I got into office,” explains Robertson, who also gets a union car. “My predecessor had one, so I have one. It’s not an unusual thing.”
At-Large Last week, ex-rapper and concert promoter Malik Zulu Shabazz announced that he may run for one of the at-large D.C. Council seats up for grabs this fall. Last year, claiming the endorsement of Mayor Marion Barry, Shabazz ran for the Ward 8 council seat. Barry actually endorsed eventual winner Eydie Whittington, but Shabazz’s radical platform, which advocated a boycott of Korean-owned businesses, earned him 8 percent of the vote—enough to place fourth in a field of 21. To date, Shabazz is not among the 16 candidates who have obtained petitions for the at-large seats—including Ward 6 Councilmember Harold Brazil and Shadow U.S. (Statehood) Rep. John Capozzi—but he may file as late as Sept. 6. While Shabazz hasn’t articulated a platform for a citywide race, in a recent interview in News Dimensions he hinted at a legal assault on the financial control board, which he sees as part of an anti-black cabal of white real estate developers, Congress, wealthy whites in upper Northwest, and Washington City Paper. The conspiracy talk is hardly winning raves from his Ward 8 base. East-of-the-river activist Sandra Seegars says, “There are fewer people like him in Washington than he thinks. Plus, he preaches hate. We want to unify; he’s trying to diversify. Really, he’s outdated—even though I like him.”
Peaked Performance D.C.’s Chief Financial Officer Anthony Williams tweaked the Barry administration a few months ago by stating publicly that at least a third of the District’s financial workers aren’t qualified to do their jobs and should probably find some other line of work. And earlier this month, City Administrator Michael C. Rogers told the D.C. Council’s committee on human services that many employees in the District’s human services contracting division are in over their heads. “If they were to apply for certification, they would not meet the requisite requirements to sit for the exam,” Rogers said. Those opinions are hard to reconcile with the results of the last round of employee performance evaluations. According to Rogers, departmental supervisors at the end of 1994 reviewed 16,000 city workers but issued unsatisfactory ratings for only 15. That’s a mighty nice report card for a city that last year lost two city agencies to federal takeover and wound up on the losing end of the only successful class-action sexual harrassment suit ever brought against a government. “That is not believable to me,” said Rogers. “That is not necessarily a serious system.”