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It’s bad enough that District residents are forced to subsist on municipal crumbs, but the stigma of the D.C. government’s epically bad credit now stalks citizens even when they make private forays for supplies and services outside the world’s pothole capital. Recently, D.C. customers visiting The Best of Times, a watch shop at Tyson’s Corner, were greeted by a sign that announced that the store would not accept personal checks from any D.C. residents. “We were having a very large number of D.C. checks that were bouncing,’’ explained an employee. But the boycott of would-be paperhangers from the District lasted just a day; store management removed the sign after a complaint by an angry patron from the District. “We decided that [the sign] wasn’t worth it,’’ said the employee. “We don’t want to have unhappy customers.’’
Hamburglars Beware Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officials have found a way to justify cops’ proclivity for hanging out at fast-food joints and mooching free food: They’re making it official. Last month, MPD Chief Larry Soulsby announced that the department has joined forces with Ronald McDonald to fight crime by setting up special police work stations at all 33 of the District’s Mickey D’s. The program, an extension of the community policing concept, is designed to increase cops’ visibility by allowing them to do paperwork at the fast-food chain in special booths outfitted with phones donated by Bell Atlantic. Ron Gantt, who owns four Northeast stores, says not only do the stations save police officers time, but “they can also have a meal while they are at it.” But MPD spokesman Officer Kenneth Bryson insists the stations are “not there for eating purposes,” and the cops must pay for their own Quarter Pounders. When he announced the creation of the work stations last month, Soulsby said, “The [stations] will allow our department to get more of our officers in the neighborhoods they patrol. I believe that every citizen in the District of Columbia should be on a first-name basis with at least one officer who patrols their neighborhood.” No word yet on whether 7-Eleven or Dunkin’ Donuts will also be joining the program.
Paraphermania Last fall, Ward 8 Councilmember Eydie Whittington introduced legislation to ban the sale of some multicolored “jewelry bags”—tiny, plastic zipper-seal bags better known as crack bags—in the hopes of making drug sales just a little more difficult (See “Package Deal,” 11/3/95). Whittington’s bill hasn’t been approved yet, but Ward 8 politicos are already training their sights on other drug paraphernalia: Blunts and rolling paper. Beginning this month, the Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC) will be asking east-of-the-river businesses that don’t specialize in tobacco to stop selling the cheap cigars called blunts and tobacco paper. (Drug users remove part of the tobacco from cheap cigars and replace it with marijuana to create jumbo joints. The paper is used to roll smaller joints.) “There’s this whole subculture of drug use that’s built up in our neighborhoods, and these are related to it,” says Philip E. Pannell, ACC acting executive director. Pannell believes the wide availability of drug paraphernalia in the corner mom and pop stores and carryout restaurants hurts the community. He hopes businesses will end the sales voluntarily. “If they don’t do it,” he says, “then we may have to do a demonstration or a boycott or something.”