Busted?

Washington City Paper has been slapped with a $50 fine from the D.C. Department of Public Works for “failure to separate recycling from other solid waste” at 2390 Champlain St. NW, the address of the paper’s newsroom.

Normally, City Paper wouldn’t report on this as news. Except there are several curious things about the citation (view a PDF of it here). First, the timing: City Paper recently ran a cover story by Christine MacDonald about how D.C.’s private trash haulers often commingle recycling with solid waste during their pickups and how the city has been lax in cracking down on them. The story hit the streets Nov. 5 12. The date of violation on the citation is Nov. 16.

Second: While the “respondent” on the citation is Washington City Paper and the citation was sent (via certified mail) to City Paper‘s office, City Paper doesn’t own the Champlain Street building and the Dumpster in question is not registered to the newspaper, according to Amy Austin, the publisher. She says it’s registered to Stout and Teague, which manages the building for its owner, Chicago-based Glancer Properties LLC (City Paper used to be owned by the building’s owner when it was Chicago Reader Inc.). The Champlain Street building has multiple tenants, including WPFW radio, a software development company, and a bike shop.

“We’re just tenants,” says Austin. “We haven’t owned the building for over two years. Why not say it’s WPFW’s trash?”

“We’re not paying the citation,” she says.

There’s no question there was trash in the recycling-only Dumpster used by the tenants of 2390 Champlain; the citation, written by agent K. Jones, helpfully included a picture of a white plastic trash bag sticking out the top. The question is: Why now, and why send it to us?

City Paper has a call in to Linda Grant, DPW spokesperson.