City Desk

The Needle: Vance on the Warpath Edition

Can You Hear Me Now?: Add cell phone bills to the long list of ways the D.C. Council has managed to waste money this year (besides Lincoln Navigators and trips to New Hampshire, of course). Roaming charges and extensive messaging added up to $61,000 in cell phone bills over the last year for the council and about 30 senior staffers, records show. The worst offender was Ward 4's Muriel Bowser, who spent $734.45 in August due to roaming phone calls while she was on vacation. A new family plan with 18,000 shared minutes is now in effect, which should save money, assuming councilmembers can use mobile-to-mobile calling minutes to swear at each other. -2

Hail To Jim Vance: NBC 4 anchor Jim Vance is widely beloved in the D.C. area, a fixture of the local airwaves who always seems to be enjoying himself on TV. Now Vance has joined the call for the Washington Redskins to change their name, arguing in an on-air commentary that the team shouldn't be named after a racial slur (and noting, incidentally, that people in D.C. have defended the racist name vehemently). Will this be enough to sway owner Dan Snyder? We at Washington City Paper wouldn't know much about what that takes, so we're not sure. But it can't hurt. +2

From Juror To Defendant: No one loves jury duty; as civic obligations go, it falls somewhere around shoveling the sidewalk in popularity. But that's usually because sitting around the courthouse listening to loud daytime television and/or being stuck in a trial is monotonous, not because showing up for jury duty leads to your arrest. That is, however, what happened to Bernard Arons, a juror who showed up at court carrying a portable radio that security guards thought was an improvised explosive device. Court officials say the arrest was entirely appropriate. Arons wasn't charged with any crime, so no voir dire for his own case. -1

Taxation Without Represent-MEOW: Here in D.C., citizens have been trying for decades to get the right to vote for U.S. senators and representatives. In Virginia, meanwhile, they take their constitutional liberties so much for granted that a cat is running for Senate. Chances are the rest of the country would be more outraged at the notion that a cat wouldn't be allowed to vote in Congress than the idea that a D.C. resident couldn't. -1

Friday's Needle rating: 52 Today's score: -2 Today's Needle rating: 50

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