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911 Is a Joke: In retrospect, this should have been easily predictable—when the D.C. government furloughed employees on Feb. 22, some 200 emergency calls went unanswered. Police and firefighters were exempt from the budget-imposed furlough, but call center employees, i.e., the people who answer when you call 911, weren’t. So instead of the usual 16 operators, there were three on duty. Reportedly, Mayor Vince Gray‘s office was warned of the possible problem ahead of time. The next furlough day is scheduled to be D.C. Emancipation Day, April 15. So if you’re planning to have an emergency then… maybe think again. -4
Illegally Loaded: Readers of Washington City Paper‘s Loose Lips blog were ahead of the D.C. Council this morning (but then again, what else is new?). Councilmember Tommy Wells released a report on the SUVs leased by the District for Council Chairman Kwame Brown, confirming what LL reported on Friday—under a law passed in 2002, the city’s not supposed to be renting SUVs no matter what color their seats are. And yet, since 2004, D.C. has acquired at least 42 such vehicles. Prediction: By the time this Navigatorgate thing is (ahem) in D.C.’s rear view mirror, there will be enough blame to go around for anyone who’s even thought about running for D.C. Council, much less gotten elected. -2
Diseased International Airport: Flying always brings a risk of certain illnesses—with hundreds of people crammed in a tight space and air recirculating for hours, getting a cold is practically guaranteed. The warning Dulles officials are putting out, though, is a little more alarming than the average cough: A passenger from London may have given other fliers measles before flying off to infect others elsewhere. Most people were vaccinated against the disease as a child, but if you were at IAD and get sick, you can thank Jenny McCarthy. -1
Clinton Deported: Redskins running back Clinton Portis only played in five games last season, and only eight the season before that. So news he was released today wasn’t entirely a surprise. But even an injury-riddled Portis still managed to lumber on to become the team’s second-leading rusher in history in his eight years here, 684 yards behind John Riggins, so he’ll be missed. Washingtonians who don’t pay any attention to football may still know Portis from his Eastern Motors commercials. If he’s no longer playing football here, is Portis’ job still his credit? -2
Friday’s Needle rating: 30 Today’s score: -9 Today’s Needle rating: 21