City planners had hoped to have them ready for last year's Bicentennial those seven bright orange and kidney bean-red kiosks on the plaza at 9th and F Streets that look like giant toilet paper rolls stabbed through cardboard triangles.
But it will be another four to six weeks before the $447,000 information center - complete with slides, tapes and maps - will be open. And that's still too soon for some of the neighbors at the National Portrait Gallery.
"They are in the worst possible taste. They are vulgar," one gallery employee complained.
"Dreadful beyond words," declared Marvin Sadik, the gallery's director.
"We tried to create some sculptural Lawrence Press of the city's Department of Housing and Community Development.
"Whether they're successful is another question. But I think the real question is are the damn things going to work?"
The cluster of kiosks surrounded by clumps of little granite stools was built as part of the city's Streets for People program. It was designed by Arrowstreet, Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., firm, Press said. The Portrait Gallery objected to most of the plans, but had only advisory power when the decision was made, he said.
"In all actuality," said engineer John F. Devaney, "they are not unlike the module from a space capsule." The double-walled aluminum structures will house projectors, tape recorders, maps and other materials that will tell visitors where to go and what to see in the nation's capital.
The city has signed a $75,000-a-year contract with Downtown Progress, a business and civic group seeking to revitalize the area between the White House and the Capitol. Of that amount, $20,000 will go to operate the kiosks and the remainder to stage various activities on the F Street mall and in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on 9th and G Streets.
None of the stores, restaurants or other points of interest mentioned in the materials will have to pay for that service. "We don't think it's free advertising," Press said. "We're just providing information to people.
Ernest (Doolum) Johnson is right and the D.C. Board of elections and Ethics admits it's wrong.
Johnson, chairman of the D.C. Ex-Offenders Voter Registration Council, complained last week that the city's current postcard voter registration form is not in compliance with city law because it says that convicted felons on parole or probation cannot register to vote. Johnson said they can.
Board attorney Winfred Mundle acknowledge this week that the language on the card is out of date. It will be corrected in new cards to be printed in the month. Meanwhile, he said, those on probation and parole should register anyway.
Johnson estimated that 35,000 black and Latino ex-felons in the city have been misled by the inaccurate wording on the form.
The mice are still a problem in the District Building. Traps and cannisters of mouse poison are in all sorts of place (except in the mayor's office, of course). But city employees still report several sightings in recent weeks.
Last week, for example, Martin Schaller, the mayor's secretary, was asked by some of his secretaries to get some money out of the petty cash fund to buy some mouse traps. And, says one who should know, a few mice have been seen scampering through the kitchen in the mayor's own office suite. There is even a rat trap on the floor of the closet where visitor's coats are hung, sources said.
Some of the Democrats leading the move to draft the Rev. David Eaton for mayor in 1978 are former supporters of Council member Marion Barry, who are said to be upset with Barry's refusal to support Douglas E. Moore on the Council.
Eaton, the pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church, was Barry's campaign chairman in 1976. His candidacy could hurt either Barry or Council Chairman Sterling Tucker. All three are politically close to D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy.
After two years of getting used to it, the City Council is becoming more political. "Last year you could pretty much predict what was going to happen," an aide to one key Council member says frequently. "This year, I don't ever hazard a guess. There's too much politics.
Councilman Julius Hobson believes the new brand of politics is being dictated by the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade the same refrain the Councilman Douglas E. Moore has sung for months.
"I'm worried about it." Hobson said last week. "I want to get off the Council before it becomes too political. I'm not political in the sense. I'd get out before I'd let the Board of Trade back me. If that's the kind of money I needed to win, I'd lose."