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Nancee Lyons, a spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Public Works, just returned my call in the matter of the $50 fine Washington City Paper received this week for “failure to separate recycling from other solid waste” at 2390 Champlain St. NW, the location of the paper’s newsroom.
The timing seemed curious to some at the newspaper because, just a few weeks earlier, City Paper had published a cover story in which it criticized DPW for failing to crack down on private trash haulers who mix recycling and trash during their rounds.
I asked Lyons if there was any connection—was this meant as some kind of retribution? “Of course not,” she said. Usually, she explained, citations are issued after someone makes a complaint and an investigator goes to check it out, not because an investigator is out looking. Lyons did not know if someone had complained about the Dumpster behind 2390 Champlain.
When I told her City Paper does not own the building—the paper is just a tenant—she said that sometimes the agent doesn’t know to whom the citation should be issued. In this case, she said, City Paper “just seemed like the logical choice.” (The paper’s name is on the front of the building; the Dumpster is in the rear.) If ever there’s an error, the matter “is resolved.”
Lyons said other citations may have been issued in the area on the same day; she promised more information Monday. The agent who wrote the citation, K. Jones, has gone home for the day.