We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Now that the control board is finally taking a look at some recent contracts let by the Department of Human Services (DHS), it might want to check out a “transportation” contract given to Union Temple Baptist Church Rev. Willie Wilson last fall. Not that Wilson doesn’t know his way around the transportation game; he’s famous for having sent a fleet of supporter-filled buses to fetch Marion Barry from a Pennsylvania prison. And in the 1994 mayoral race, Wilson boosted Ward 8’s record turnout by busing hundreds of Barry voters to the polls. So it should come as no surprise that last fall DHS granted Wilson’s church a four-month, $78,000 contract for “transportation and overnight services.” City records list the contract “in care of” Harambee House, formerly a delinquent girls’ home run by Wilson’s wife, Mary. The Kelly administration pulled the plug on some Harambee contracts after determining that the program was overpriced, but the Barry administration seems to have found a new need for the Wilsons. Harambee House now holds a few kids overnight after they’ve been picked up by police, then its staffers transport them home or to court in the morning.
Objective Debate Ever since John McLaughlin became a household name, “unbiased” print reporters have been freely opining across U.S. airwaves. But even Eleanor Clift wouldn’t call Oliver North a “demagogue” and compare his supporters to “fascists”—especially if she were covering his campaign. Yet Washington Post reporter Donald Baker unburdened himself of these thoughts for the makers of A Perfect Candidate, a documentary about the 1994 U.S. Senate race North lost to Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.). The filmmakers followed Baker across the state as he covered the campaign, and his plain-spoken commentary nearly steals the show. (Posties have dubbed the film The Baker Story.) But when Baker ponders whether North truly believes “this Christian stuff,” has he crossed the Post’s line of objectivity? After all, executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. is so concerned about impartiality that he doesn’t even vote. But Baker says his superiors haven’t complained about his comments. “I think there’s a great deal of difference between what you write and what you might say,” Baker says. “To say that the guy is a demagogue is pretty harsh, but I probably say that about a lot of politicians.” The film screened last week before a crowd of Washington luminaries (including Baker, who liked the film) as part of Filmfest DC and will return to the Key Theater in July.
Toothless The Office of Bar Counsel has dismissed an ethical complaint against former D.C. Taxicab Commissioner and lawyer Karen Jones Herbert. Herbert stepped down in March after the Post reported that she held both a D.C. and a Maryland driver’s license, in violation of D.C. law. (Mayoral cabinet members are required to live in the District.) The Board of Elections also dropped Herbert from the D.C. voters’ rolls after determining that she apparently lives in Maryland. Ward 8 activist Sandra Seegars asked bar counsel to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Herbert for attempting to “defraud the government.” But in a letter, Assistant Bar Counsel Traci Tait said the office found no “clear and convincing evidence” that Herbert had engaged in dishonest conduct. Seegars says she’s not surprised by the lawyers’ ruling. “They’re all in the same club,” she says. “They’re not going to rule against themselves.”