After last year’s Police Week follies—which featured naked, drunken, out-of-town cops sliding down hotel banisters, passing out in front of elevators, and groping unsuspecting women—then-D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Fred Thomas warned against issuing liquor licenses for future events. Since then, a year has passed, Thomas has left town, and last year’s celebratory mischief looks more and more like harmless, frat-style romping. All of which may explain why last week the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board approved a special permit for a booze-heavy bash at the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)’s Gerrard F. Young Lodge. (The proceeds from the event—in excess of $100,000 last year—subsidize the FOP’s 5th Street clubhouse, where D.C. cops drink year-round.) In a town with one of the densest concentrations of watering holes in the country, ABC board members apparently figure visiting cops will have no problem finding a place to get sloshed—permit or no permit. “I don’t recall any relation whatsoever between the licensed event and what those officers did at the hotel,” says Barbara Lee Smith, the newly installed chair of the ABC board.
Real Estate Redline Washington realtors seem to be doing a decent job of keeping the nonprofit Fair Housing Council (FHC) of Greater Washington in business lately. In September, FHC sued Yarmouth Management Co., a D.C.-based realtor, for allegedly steering black customers only to black neighborhoods (see “Steered Wrong,” 9/15/95). Now the group is suing Pardoe Real Estate for the alleged racially discriminatory practices of its Capitol Hill office. The suit stems from an FHC investigation in which Pardoe realtors showed property to white FHC “testers” and gave them rental applications. The realtors reportedly withheld applications from black testers, citing a policy requiring the clients to drive by a property before they could get applications. Pardoe could lose thousands if FHC succeeds in the litigation. In a statement, the company claims the “perception” of discrimination occurred because the testers were asking for different types of services, and the white tester was more specific in his request. FHC executive director David Berenbaum says the tests document a practice, not a single incident. “The suit drives home the fact that discrimination happens regardless of class, even in a neighborhood with an affluent African-American community,” he says.
Federal Espresso Just when it seemed that Starbucks and its imitators had colonized every last square foot of retail space in D.C., an espresso bar has appeared in U.S. District Court on C Street NW. Staid, silent, and stuffy, the federal courthouse is the last place you’d expect to find a staple of 1990s consumer culture. But the sound of beans grinding and milk steaming has turned the halls of justice into a coffee klatch. The faux-marble stand features a bow-tied host, biscotti, and like any self-respecting modern coffee bar, it will offer iced cappuccino in the summer. Run by Sodexho USA, the stand is doing “excellent business,” according to manager Ahmad Amin. He says the secret is the filtered, purified water they use in the coffee. “Not just regular city water,” he explains. When Amin first proposed the federal espresso bar, he says the judges resisted, fearing the caffeinated traffic would disrupt courthouse decorum. But after nine months of lobbying, they finally caved in. Now he says, “Some judges have even given me compliments.”