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This is the first installment of The Needle, Washington City Paper’s monthly gauge of the District’s quality of life. Based on elaborate research by a crack team of physicists, sociologists, and criminologists, February has been assigned a value of 35 on a 100-point scale. The Needle rose seven points in March. The reasons why are explained at right.

The Damage Done

1. Community for Creative NonViolence

rallies for home rule, denounces

Congress as “the most feared hate

group in the U.S.”-2

2. D.C. government, newly baptized as

“citizen-friendly” by the mayor, adds

20 blue meanies to its crew of ticket

writers. Collectively, the new patrols

will write nearly two tickets this year

for every District car owner.-5

3. Washingtonian, claiming to speak for a city that’s 70 percent black, illustrates its story on “Getting Ahead” in business with a cover photo of three white yuppies.-2

4. School board takes first bold action in memory. Unfortunately, the bold action

is firing 426 teachers.-7

5. Control board announces plan to

commission citywide poll to rate

satisfaction with municipal services.-3

6. In a Washington Post Op-Ed, union

leader William Lucy proposes time-

tested plan for prolonging the city’s agony: “Let city employees find the

best way to do their jobs.”-1

7. Mayor Barry calls for a “moratorium” on District-bashing, leaving pest control as the city’s only growth industry.-1

Subtotal: -21

Shots in the Arm

1. Chunk of Whitehurst Freeway falls onto K Street. Crotchety Georgetowners are horrified, but at least it scares bar-hopping blockheads back to Centreville.+2

2. Police Chief Larry Soulsby rebukes Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who helped hatch a plan for federal oversight of D.C. cops. “I have a lot of oversight. What I need is money,” Soulsby quips.+4

3. President Clinton, control board Chairman Andrew Brimmer, and the National Education Association all decide the District needs more money.+10

4. St. Elizabeths passes inspection.

Patients report that toilets that haven’t flushed “since the Civil War” are

working again.+3

5. After 14 years as mayor, Marion Barry introduces idea of “Get-it-right-the-


6. UDC student protesters block traffic on Connecticut Avenue, delaying outbound moving vans.+4

Subtotal: +28

MARCH Total: +7