Talkin' Trash

Most District residents are elated to hear that recycling trucks will soon be hitting city streets again, but some Dupont Circle activists want their recyclables retrieved not at their stoops—as per tradition—but in their alleys. Dupont Circle activist Marilyn Groves pressed Department of Public Works (DPW) officials to estimate how much extra the city would have to pay for alley pickup in dense center-city neighborhoods. The answer? $600,000. That's not too steep, argues Groves, believing that more folks would comply with recycling laws if they didn't have to shlep their refuse out front. "I've heard people say, 'I'm not going to do it because I'm not draggin' that stuff through my house,'" says Groves. Plus, she adds, DPW has surplus funds to experiment with the improved service because it received a full year's worth of funding for a program that will operate for only half of fiscal year 1998. The department, though, isn't experimenting. Solid waste administrator Leslie Hotaling says DPW will stick with curbside pickup for now and enhance the program if future budgets allow. Even then, Hotaling can't promise downtowners that they'll be able to ditch their bottles and newspapers in the alley. "I'm not so sure this is the best way to spend $600,000 to achieve the outcome of a clean city," she says.

Decontructing Spice "I liked it, but I didn't get the movie-within-the-movie thing."—conversation between two preteen suburbanites at the Skyline Mall after a viewing of the movie Spiceworld

Remember the Name What was supposed to be a ceremony to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at George Washington University last week turned into a pep rally for the school's president, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. During the event, D.C. Council chair Linda Cropp made a surprise visit to present Trachtenberg with a resolution passed unanimously by the council naming last Thursday, Jan. 22, "Stephen Trachtenberg Day." The resolution was a gesture to thank GW's president for his laudable efforts in offering college scholarships to D.C. public school students. Trachtenberg was clearly overwhelmed and seemed to forget the afternoon's primary honoree. "I think it's ridiculous; it's a blemish on the celebration of Martin Luther King," complained Rusty Stahl, a GW senior. Remarked another university senior who attended the event, "It was Dr. King's day. The whole idea of the city council passing a resolution to honor for a day a university president who has a horrible record on minority faculty hiring, who raised tuition at the university by 7 percent last year, I think is pretty disgusting."

Profit Globally, Act Locally Always interested in boosting their image as corporate do-gooders, some neighborhood Starbuckses have adopted an important local issue: not D.C. democracy, nor homelessness, but restrooms. Through Feb. 14, Dupont Circle-area Starbuckses will donate 10 percent of store profits to renovating and reopening the "comfort station"—the red brick building across from the all-night Dupont Circle CVS that houses a few bathrooms and other public facilities, says Kevin Johnson, a Starbucks supervisor. The building has been closed since 1986 and has since become a magnet for unsavory activity. It would bring much-needed relief to shoppers and tourists who—unable to find public facilities anywhere on the circle—often clamor to use Starbucks' bathrooms. "The comfort station has more than one urinal," Johnson says. "That would be a big help."

Viva La Urn When Washington City Paper started asking questions about a missing Cuban Friendship Urn given to President Calvin Coolidge ("Have You Seen This Monument?," 5/24/96), National Park Service employees scratched their heads and then admitted it was just plain lost. Prompted by our inquiry, Park Service officials took a look around and—whaddya know—found an urn—all dirty and raggedy, but an urn nonetheless—lying on its side in Rock Creek Park. A year and a half later, the Park Service is now happy to report that the urn has been reborn. After an expenditure of $11,000 to remove scratches, rejoin fractured pieces, and replicate bronze plaques, the 7-foot urn is in fine shape, says Park Service spokesperson Earle Kittleman, and available for public viewing in East Potomac Park.

Reporting by Laura Lang, Tina Plottel, Amanda Ripley, Jamal Watson, and Erik Wemple.

Please send your City Desk tips to Elissa Silverman at or call 332-2100 and ask for my voice mail.

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