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Court is in Session: There were two obsessions for the media in the summer of 2001—sharks, and Chandra Levy. It was clear to everyone in the know that then-Rep. Gary Condit had killed his former intern; the only real question was when he’d confess, broken by the pressure of being the only thing anyone on cable TV ever talked about. (Besides, of course, sharks.) Fast forward nearly a decade, and Condit is nowhere near D.C. as the trial of Ingmar Guandique, the man authorities believe actually did it, gets underway. This time, hopefully, Levy’s case won’t become the center of all kinds of sordid theories and tales in the media. (And if anyone writes a magazine cover story on sharks and the hype they’re getting, take cover, because another terrorist attack is probably on the way.) -2
Location, Location, Location: Sure, the entire mortgage securitization system that nearly destroyed the economy a few years ago is still rolling, with disclosures of bogus foreclosures threatening to kill any semblance of a recovery. Area homebuyers aren’t letting that get them down, apparently; a new report shows housing prices were up 9.1 percent last month. (Of course, sales were down, and the report was by a local realtor, who—optimistic, as always—says prices will just keep on rising.) Meanwhile, commercial real estate really is booming—office rents in D.C. are now higher than in New York. Don’t tell that to Claret Capital, the Irish private equity firm that owns the St. Regis hotel on 16th Street NW, though; the hotel’s being foreclosed on. Hope the mortgage documents are all in order! +2
Drown it in the Bathtub: If you’re one of the thousands and thousands of Washingtonians who work for the federal government, congratulations—your fellow Americans hate you. That is, at least, the conclusion the Washington Post reached, after polling the nation on its sentiments about government employees. Spurred on by decades of GOP talking points about how government is the problem with America, and bogus studies that “show” federal workers make more money than private sector employees without bothering to note that the average private sector wage is weighed down by minimum-wage jobs at Wal-Mart, the nation has evidently decided we’d all be better off without the feds. Within a few weeks, of course, we may be taking the first steps toward that conservative idyll, if the Tea Party-backed Republicans take control of Congress. -4
Buses Back: Maybe the labor movement isn’t dead, after all—bus drivers and mechanics in Prince George’s County are heading back to work after a five-week Teamsters strike won them a pay increase, continued health care benefits, an extra holiday and continued pension contributions. Of course, riders may not have noticed the strike was still going on, as county officials have been running buses on their regular schedule by importing workers from other jurisdictions and welcoming back scabs who crossed the picket lines. In D.C., a Metrobus strike would be easy to spot, as pedestrian deaths and assaults of police officers dressed as McGruff would immediately decline. +2
Peyton Place: Even the gold pants couldn’t help save the Redskins, who lost 27-24 to the Indianapolis Colts on national television Sunday night, mostly because the team’s defense evidently thought it was only on the field in order to give Colts QB Peyton Manning something to throw the ball past. The good news: Even with the loss, the Skins are only a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Jersey York Giants in the NFC East, at 3-3. The better news: Dallas lost, dropping to 1-4. The worst news of all: Dan Snyder has not yet been foreclosed on. -2
Friday’s Needle rating: 41 Today’s score: -4 Today’s Needle rating: 37