Okay, District fans. The New Year is upon us, the dawning of the second decade of home rule, and it's time to make some New Year's resolutions -- not for ourselves, certainly, but for our sterling leaders and public officials.
1. Mayor Marion Barry. A promise not to make any more of his tacky endorsements of Coors Beer (a product that his wife's public relations firm has been retained to promote among blacks) without saying a kind word or two about Stroh's, Miller Lite and many of the other fine brews.
2. Walter E. Washington. A pledge by the city's beloved first mayor to find a new metaphor for (yawn) "foundation building" to describe his overall contribution to the District of Columbia.
3. City Council Chairman David A. Clarke. A resolution by the terribly earnest and lawyerly council leader to lighten up. Perhaps he can take a lesson from Tom Downs, the effervescent city administrator.
4. D.C. Budget Director Betsy Reveal. A pledge by the city's hardworking, upbeat budget chief to devise a way of releasing the mayor's new budget proposal (which is due out in a few weeks) without A) enraging reporters who want a sneak peek; B) enraging City Council members who want to be briefed first; C) ruffling the feathers of congressional leaders who want an early briefing as well.
And a resolution to make the budget or least a small summary of it comprehensible to city taxpayers so they will know what they are paying for.
5. John Touchstone. A solemn pledge by the city's public works director to never again stage a buffet luncheon celebration at a sludge dumping site, as he did last year -- even if the mayor stubbornly insists.
6. Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.). A promise by the Republican gubernatorial candidate to run on a platform that doesn't include proposals for rescinding D.C. home rule and moving Lorton Reformatory from Fairfax County to Keokuk, Iowa. They don't want it either.
7. Fire Chief Theodore Coleman. A promise to try to figure out why it is he has so few admirers within his department.
8. The Barry Administration. A promise to explain to D.C. residents why it was necessary to spend a bundle of their tax dollars last year to hold a weekend administrative retreat in suburban Maryland, instead of spending that money within the District.
Better yet, how about a full accounting of how much money was spent and what benefits were derived from the weekend gathering?
9. City Employes. A promise to try to be more courteous to the people who pay their salaries, the city taxpayers.
The other day several reporters piled into a taxi and asked the driver to take them to an address on T Street NW, in the LeDroit Park. The driver pondered the address for a moment and then nodded knowingly. "That's the old mayor's house," he declared.
Although he has been gone from the District's political scene for six years now, former mayor Walter E. Washington clearly left an imprint on the city.
And as the city marks the 10th anniversary of home rule in the District this month, much will be recalled and said about Washington's 11 years of leadership, when the District weathered violent demonstrations and rioting and gradually moved toward partial independence from Congress.
There was a time when Washington, who served as an appointed and elected mayor, seemed unwanted and unappreciated.
In the twilight of his career, he was reduced to dodging reporters' questions about a controversy surrounding one of his top aides, Joseph P. Yeldell. And he was stung by criticism that his administration was inept.
The voters turned Washington out of office in 1978 in favor of Marion Barry, a younger, more aggressive politician who brought a new style of politics to the District.
But today, Washington has few regrets about his political past and seems to be enjoying renewed public attention as bitter or unpleasant memories fade.
"I think people now remember me and have good feelings about it," said Washington, a member of a law firm and a number of major corporate boards. " . . . I'd like to think that there is a residual of love in the city."