As Marion Barry put it, "It's all over but the shouting." So now Washington should obey the order put forth by Sharon Pratt Dixon -- you could read it on her lips or hands on election night as she said and signed, "It's time to clean house!"
The Chronicler, qualified both as an admonisher of the little Chronics and as a nagger of readers, hereby marks some areas needing cleaning and proposes methods to accomplish these worthy purposes.
Light poles, traffic signs, street trees, indeed all vertical objects on the avenues and passageways are desecrated with campaign signs from major candidates ("Just say Yes to Hilda Mason") and the more obscure ("John West for Senator").
Campaign posters not irrevocably attached have now been blown by heavy winds all over defenseless lawns, onto branches of innocent trees, into light wells of English basements. The whole capital is a mass of stiff colored paper, making it look like the scene of several months of drunken debauchery.
The Chronicler's answer: Make the candidates canvass the city and pick up each and every piece of paper and send it to the recyclers. (Perhaps campaign volunteers would help, though the Chronicler holds the candidates privately responsible for seeing it done.)
Actually there is a regulation saying that the posters must be removed 30 days after the election. The problem is that nobody obeys it because there is no penalty. "We have to rely on their good citizenship," said Tara Hamilton, a well-informed information officer at the D.C. Department of Public Works. "You'd think that candidates would realize that leaving up the tattered posters sends a negative message about themselves." The department sent a letter to the Board of Elections and Campaign Finance before the election to remind the candidates to take down their posters. Next election, Hamilton said, her department plans to send even more reminders that those who put them up should take them down.
Meanwhile, the Chronicler decrees that every candidate, successful or otherwise, should this afternoon go out into the city and clean up his mess..
Harsher measures should be instituted for the sound trucks that have been disturbing the peace for the past months. All these blarers should immediately be compacted into suitably sized metal squares and sold to junk metal dealers.
Now that we have all that tidied up, we should, in the two years before the coming larger election, look to cleaning up other aspects of municipal life.
Let us begin by cleaning up dirty looks, wiping frowns off our faces, in person and on the telly. That done, let's wash out our mouths with soap and clean up filthy language.
Right this minute, all residents of the city should vow to speak in conciliatory terms. Campaign rhetoric has fallen on hard times, so we no longer have really clever invective. Maybe we could learn to speak politely to our opponents, turn the other cheek and refrain from calling anyone a tax-dodger, cocaine sniffer, substance abuser, racist agitator, unfaithful spouse, sexual harasser etc. In turn, those who commit such actions, misdemeanors or felonies, upon being caught in the act, should immediately ask for forgiveness, resign positions of trust, and put their desks and their lives in order.
Now comes the biggest cleanup job of all: Washington streets. And by this, of course, the Chronicler does not mean only the election trash. She means the horror and despair that stand at every crossroads and lurk around every corner.
Though the referendum to legislate homes for the homeless was defeated, the placeless people still hunger on the streets. Let us clean up St. Elizabeths. Use this glorious site and its magnificent buildings to provide sanctuary. Surely medical care, education and job training for those who can benefit, shelter and a modicum of kindness for those who can't, could be provided on that hilltop more cheaply and more effectively than at the Pitts Motel.
With depression lowering its clouds upon the town, why not take this chance to take the jobless off the streets by providing work in civic improvements.
Many jobs need to be done in the city, beginning, of course with making sure that everyone files -- and pays -- his taxes. Hire the unemployed accountants! What they find should pay their salaries.
Get the road work done! Make the streets traversable again!
Require community service -- from cleaning up the parks to scrubbing off the old buildings -- of all offenders.
Hire and train others in repairing and remodeling all those wonderful, magnificent but moldering shells of row houses! All of Washington could be the capital city envisioned by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington when they hired L'Enfant.