Tuesday, October 30



The battle to have identifiable and attractive libraries in several neighborhoods - not swallowed up in office or condo development - is being treated as a strictly local issue. It isn't. It is a citywide problem stemming from the contempt political leaders have for the citizens in contrast to their ever growing obeisance to robber baron contributors. What is at stake here is the preservation of local public icons - libraries, schools, fire stations etc - in the face of runaway corrupt development plans.

This is not just another problem for our neighborhoods or for DC. Never in history have politicians treated the symbols of community with such utter disrespect. These buildings should be places of public honor and not jammed into a high rise like they were just another coffee shop.

What's next? Will Fenty replace parks by putting grass on rooftops? Pave over the Anacostia for a new town, reducing it to the world's largest sewer?

Stay tuned.


- Ever wonder what goes into Washingtonian's Power 150: People Who Make Things Happen? Is it total bullshit, or just partly? We asked a former Washingtonian editor for an inside peek. And TIME 100 it is not:

"Like all lists at the Washingtonian, many of the choices are obvious and this kind of list is mostly an inside job. The idea usually, like with the Washingtonians of the Year, is mostly the choice of the editor Jack Limpert. Most people inside the magazine believe that lists are much too large, but Jack is determined to have geographic, social, cultural, racial and religious diversity. This list is taken very seriously and you see it included in obituaries. Like Pulitizer Prize winners, you will know what the first three words of your obit will be. . .

"If you look carefully at any of the lists, including the one you asked about, you will notice they are top heavy, too inclusive, stretching to be clever, emphasizing people who photograph well, and a little too geographic, racially, politically correct. . .

"You would get even stronger reactions from reporters and editors at the magazine if they weren't afraid to talk. Jack fired his previous food writer Tom Head for letting the Post Reliable Source column know he was embarrassed by the 100 Best Restaurants Column and did not want his byline associated with the list. Head, to Limper's surprise, sued and collected a sizable settlement that he isn't permitted to talk about."

[Years ago, Jack Limpert approached your editor at a party and said, "If we were to name you a Washingtonian of the Year, would you say anything outrageous?" I giggled and Jack quickly moved on before I could even think of a more thoughtful response. I returned the favor some time later by running a piece on the Best Tasting Pages of the Washingtonian - Sam]


METRO WEEKLY - When Jason Jay Hill finally realized what was happening, he couldn't believe his ears. "Get out! Get out!"

That was the order Jay, a 32-year-old resident of Silver Spring, says he and his boyfriend, Mike Browne, 29, were given by a store manager at the Rite Aid Pharmacy located at 1306 U St. NW, around 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12.

It happened while the couple was browsing the store's shampoo aisle in search of a do-rag. And somewhere in between the manager's voice drowning out the familiar soft rock on the store's overhead, and attempting to buy that kerchief, Hill says, a security guard approached the couple and asked them to leave.

"He was like, 'You guys got to get out,' and I'm like, 'What am I getting put out for?'" says Hill, a music student at Howard University. "The security guard couldn't even tell me. He was like, 'I don't know, that's just what the manager said. This is private property so y'all got to go.'. . .

Without an explanation, Hill is left to make assumptions, which he says led him to believe that he was kicked out for being mildly affectionate with Browne, whom he has been dating for the past six months.

Before they were asked to leave, Hill says, "I got behind him and was holding him. . . We didn't make a scene or anything, and then the manager happened to walk by and see us holding each other and he did like a double take."


DOROTHY BRIZILL, DC WATCH - On September 21, Mayor Fenty signed a new Mayor's Order 2007-207, detailing the District government's "E-mail retention policy" In an October 3 memorandum to agency directors and agency general counsels, Peter Nickles, Council to the Mayor, explains that "under the proposed policy, OCTO will store all E-mail on DC government E-mail servers for six months, then delete it automatically and permanently"

It is widely known that Mayor Fenty and his top administrators do not keep a paper records of their communications in the form of letters, memoranda, or policy papers. Instead, they use electronic communication devices; Fenty himself carries at least three Blackberries -- one for "mayoral duties," another for personal use, and still another for direct communications with the police department.

Since May, I have repeatedly tried to impress upon Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Council's Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations, the importance of this issue. To date, she has refused to schedule even a public hearing on the issue. Prior to January, when Fenty's new policy will be implemented, citizens and members of the press must urge Council Chairman Gray to have the council draft and adopt legislation that prevents the mayor from implementing his policy of deleting the E-mail record and requires the District to develop a comprehensive record retention and management policy that is similar in some respects to the Presidential Records Act of 1978.


KATIE PEARCE, DC VOICE - Former critics of the Department of Parks and Recreation's proposed dog park regulations have praised the latest version of the rules as more accommodating and realistic. . . Many argued that some of the provisions - such as one requiring a minimum of 10,000 square feet for every dog park, and another requiring that the area around each dog park be certified as rat-free for five blocks - would prevent the creation of any legal dog parks in the city. . .

The language of the new dog park regulations is more flexible. Dog parks should be 5,000 square feet, the provisions recommend - "unless parkland availability precludes ... meeting this guideline." The parks department director can reject unsuitable locations for dog parks, such as areas near playgrounds, athletic fields or community gardens, but will make such decisions on "a case-by-case basis."

The new rules also cast off a former provision that required community groups to register as 501(c)3 organizations and finance their own dog parks. . .


IN ITS PRE-TAXI STRIKE story the Washington Post finally admitted that this town with its allegedly terrible taxi service would have - even half the drivers stayed home - "more cabdrivers working than Boston, with 1,825 licensed drivers; San Francisco, 1,381; or Denver, 842."

HERE'S A TIP TO THE CABBIES: Try random two or three hour strikes at unannounced locations such as Union Station, the National Press Building or Capitol Hill. That may get their attention.

ELIZABETH WIENER, CAPITOL HILL VOICE - Many small businesses are suffering the aftershock of the city's real estate boom. Though assessment increases are widespread, perhaps worst hit are businesses on now-trendy commercial corridors like U and P streets NW and H Street NE. . . Rick Lee, of Lee's Flower & Card Shop at 10th and U streets NW, said his assessment almost doubled over the past year. He suggested a special tax rate for small-business owners or the kind of subsidies and incentives the city uses for luring big firms like Radio One. Businesses on U Street "had to withstand riots, subway construction, drug dealing, crime. Now that the area is thriving, those same businesses that persevered are being taxed out of business because the property values have risen," Lee testified.

GARY IMHOFF seemed a little taken aback when we referred to his journal as the "sainted DC Watch." This came up once before and was explained this way to a bemused journalist whom your editor had described in an article as 'the sainted Morton Mintz': "Being part Irish, I feel competent to canonize whomever the hell I want, without papal assistance. In this context, in which there is admittedly a certain amount of hyperbole, the term 'sainted' implies great approbation, but falls short of granting extra-terrestrial privileges. One's mother is usually the first recipient of the honor, followed by an array of friends, acquaintances and public personalities. It may even extend to a bartender who lets you run up a sizable tab. Very few journalists, however, make the grade."


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