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If you’re expecting a repeat of last year’s Earth Day blowout on the Mall, think again. Not a single organization has applied for a permit to hold an event in front of the Capitol on April 20. Joe Libertelli of the Metro D.C. Environment Network suspects that environmentalists who rely on T-shirt and bumper-sticker sales to help pay for the annual event have been deterred by new National Park Service regulations barring vendors from the Mall. “Given the demonstrated problem of a flea-market atmosphere, the Park Service feels it has the right to draw a line in terms of what may or may not be sold,” says Park Service attorney Randy Myers. But Michael Martin, executive director of Concerts for the Environment, says the anti-vendor regs haven’t forced activists to abandon the unofficial green holiday completely. Instead, they’re moving the Earth Day festivities to D.C.’s municipal parks, where they’re free to peddle their wares unobstructed.
Juris Parking Last week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg got caught in the cross fire of the parking war between American University (AU) Law School and residents of Spring Valley. Ginsburg was the featured speaker at the law school’s 100th-anniversary fete. Her driver was unable to find parking in the neighborhood and ditched the car in a private driveway. A Spring Valley resident promptly blocked it in and refused to let Ginsburg leave. Meanwhile, in the April 1996 issue of The American Jurist, AU law students savaged the Spring Valley residents who are still in court trying to block the law school’s expansion in their neighborhood. “Spring Valley: As Pretentious as They Wanna Be” takes aim at the racial covenants, lawsuits, and public pressure Spring Valley residents have used since the 1940s to maintain their largely homogeneous neighborhood. Mocking his affluent neighbors, student Eric Ascalon writes, “My God, Buffy, a law school in our neighborhood, what has become of the world? First the Jews and Blacks, then the Koreans, and now THE LAW STUDENTS!”
Brain Cramp When the Brookings Institution convened District officials, activists, and economists on April 2 to “Brainstorm Prospects for D.C. Recovery,” Chief Financial Officer Anthony Williams and control board members talked procurement and personnel reform. But City Administrator Michael Rogers blamed pessimistic headlines for failing to capture “the excitement and challenges energizing and engaging city workers.” Then Rogers proposed his own ideas to raise city cash, which included selling off 30 underused public schools, leasing the city’s aqueduct to a private company, building a Disney-style theme park to lure tourists, and selling air rights over the Washington Convention Center. Rogers concluded, “It’s time for us not to focus on blame, but to focus on opportunity.”
Tax Relief Mayor Marion Barry recently named Antonio Barros Jr. to the Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals, the powerful city board famed for knocking down the property-tax bills of high-profile real estate developers. Barros is the son of developer Delores Johnson, one of the largest landowners in Ward 1. Last year, the city gave Barros’ company, AMB Enterprises (in which Johnson is a major investor), the development rights to the Thompson’s Dairy site at 12th and U Streets NW for $1—despite its assessed value of $6.6 million. Barros advises Washingtonians not to worry: He’ll recuse himself from any tax cases involving his mother. “I’m a member of the D.C. Bar. I have to recuse myself,” he says.