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The Washington Post, like most “family newspapers,” all but banishes profanity from its pages, excising all four-letter words except Newt. But while cleanliness may be next to godliness, it’s sure no substitute for coherence. Consider the Nov. 2 “District Politics” column on the transfer of Metropolitan Police Lt. Lowell Duckett, who the Post described as a longtime critic of Mayor Barry. Duckett is slated to move from an anti-drug squad in Southeast to a desk downtown in the mayor’s office. According to reporters Yolanda Woodlee and Avis Thomas-Lester, the transfer illustrates a favorite political axiom of Barry’s (and Lyndon Johnson’s): “It’s better to have potential adversaries inside the tent staring out, rather than outside the tent staring in.” Readers who’ve followed Barry or LBJ’s career immediately recognized the heavy hand of the taste police. The real maxim, of course, is not only more comprehensible, but a lot more vivid: “It’s better to have enemies inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.”
Wheel of Misfortune
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Illinois resident Stanley Whitten recently appeared in U.S. Tax Court in D.C. to contest $582 the IRS says he owes on his 1991 tax return. A criminal investigator with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a famous cruciverbalist (he constructs crossword puzzles), Whitten won $14,850 and a new Geo Tracker on Wheel of Fortune in 1991. While he dutifully reported his winnings to the IRS, like all good Americans, Whitten deducted a few items as well, including $1,820 in travel expenses on his trip to Los Angeles and $58.71 he spent printing 200 postcards showing him standing next to Vanna White. The IRS nixed the claim and ordered Whitten to ante up the extra taxes. Whitten fought back, arguing that the deductions were “wagering losses,” which the IRS sometimes allows. Unmoved, a federal judge threw out Whitten’s claim on Oct. 25, stating that expenses incurred for a game-show appearance are not the same thing as a bet.
Taxi Cab Blues
New Metropolitan Police Chief Larry Soulsby is clearly the right man for the moment. At a time when cops are suffering from deep pay cuts and equipment shortages—their cruisers held hostage by unpaid repair shops—Soulsby seems to have found the perfect solution. The new chief has asked the D.C. Council to change city regulations on outside employment to allow police officers to work part-time as cab drivers, thereby boosting officers’ pay and adding some new cars to the fleet at the same time. JC Stamps, chairman of the police union’s labor committee, supports the proposal, although he says, “I’m trying to keep a straight face about all this. But if you can’t get a pay raise…it’s an honest living.”
Not for Sale
In a city where hacker licenses, public-housing vouchers, and the services of D.C. cops have often been obtained with a little cash under the table, the operators of Las Placitas restaurant in Adams Morgan apparently were stunned to encounter some city employees who weren’t for sale. Brothers Juan and Gilberto Amaya were arrested Oct. 28 after allegedly attempting to bribe two D.C. cops and a District inspector who had fined them for building-code violations.