Nobody does overkill like the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). While they’re never around when you’re being held up at gunpoint or your CD player is being wrenched from the dashboard of your BMW, flag down a speeder and watch the patrol cars come screeching in. Nail a petty thief or a two-bit drug dealer and watch an ad hoc auto show materialize in a sea of flashing red lights. Call a political rally and consign the rest of the city to lawlessness. At Tuesday morning’s D.C. Statehood Party protest in front of the financial control board’s Thomas Circle offices, the police put together a rally of their own, ringing the circle with 18 patrol cars, five motorcycles with sidecars, and a squad from the vaunted, jackbooted Civil Defense Unit. As the rally gathered at 8 a.m., the police had nearly one uniform for every mild-mannered protester offering half-baked chants through a PA system barely loud enough to announce table reservations at Sequoia. MPD was no doubt trying to prevent a recurrence of last November’s union-sponsored control board protest, when government workers blocked traffic with city-owned garbage trucks. But this time, the only city vehicles spilling into the circle were MPD’s.
Up in Smoke While Mayor Marion Barry may have proclaimed 1995 the year to “stop the bleeding caused by run-away spending and shrinking revenues,” one measure the city passed to raise revenues last year actually caused the District to lose money. According to the D.C. Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the District lost $4.2 million in taxes last year after a 15-percent tax increase on cigarettes sent local smokers running to Maryland and Virginia for cheaper smokes. District smokers sheepishly confess to borderline transgressions and admit the added savings of 10 to 15 percent a pack is worth the Metro fare out of the city. In fact, many D.C. smokers even seem to enjoy flouting the country’s puritanical anti-smoking climate by slipping over the border to buy out-of-state cigarettes. According to one area attorney, a strategically placed hot dog cart by the Crystal City Metro station surreptitiously feeds his smoking habit with a $1.60 pack versus the District’s $2.60. D.C. Certified Public Accountant Paul Uttenweiler says that in calculating the revenue expected from the cigarette-tax increase, the city obviously overlooked the chain-smoker’s dedication to bargain shopping. “The projection was energetic,” he deadpans.
Hold the Bread, Bring on the Circus Former entertainer and freshman Congressman Sonny Bono (R-Calif.) has apparently made the successful transition from flamboyant crooner to humorless Washington politico. Last week, disguised in faded jeans and a leather jacket, Cher’s dowdier half paid a visit to Bread and Circus, the upscale quickstop in upper Georgetown. Amused workers behind the bakery counter recognized Bono in the prepared foods department picking up a few meals-to-go, and they immediately broke into a cacophonous rendition of “I Got You Babe.” When the a cappella endeavor failed to catch the celeb’s attention, one bakery worker busted out with the tag line, “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Not amused, Bono merely stared at the bakery workers, stiffened a bit, quickly finished his business, and fled without a word. Who’d have thought Sonny would turn into such a stiff? But then again, former Iowa Congressman Fred “Gopher” Grandy never seemed too thrilled to be asked for directions to the Lido deck. CP