An article Wednesday reported that about half the members of the local Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union are Hispanic; the correct figure is about 18 percent. About half the workers in the restaurant industry here are Hispanic.
After a decade of governing itself, Washington is not a single city but two -- one striving for greatness as an urban center and another striving just to survive.
The first city is the one most out-of-towners and suburbanites see, the new downtown Washington that has been almost completely refurbished in the last 10 years.
The second is the city of the neighborhoods, where home rule has had much less impact on the quality of life than gentrification, the flight of the black middle class, drug abuse, crime, stubborn unemployment, immigration -- much larger forces that run their course without regard to whether a mayor or a congressman calls the shots.
For the quintessence of the first Washington, it is necessary to go no farther from the District Building than across Western Plaza, to the block bounded by 13th, 14th, E and F streets NW -- part of what 10 years ago was despairingly called the "old downtown" and written off for dead.
There's the refurbished National Theatre, opened to great fanfare last year and featuring New York-quality productions at up to $40 a ticket. There's the National Press Building, its renovation nearly complete. There's the spanking-new J.W. Marriott Hotel, flagship of the nationwide Marriott chain; and just off the hotel's marble-and-brass lobby there's The Colonnade, a subterranean concourse lined with fancy food shops where one store, for example, exists just to sell an array of delectables made from almonds.
The Colonnade leads to The Shops, a three-story gallery of expense-account restaurants and specialty stores that sell chocolates, knick-knacks and trendy T-shirts. One boutique sells fine china and crystal salvaged from the great old ocean liners, some of it at more than $500 a place setting.
Developer Oliver T. Carr Jr., a man who has had as much to do with downtown Washington's face lift as anyone, was asked recently about the city's new glitz and glamor, particularly about the transformation of so many Washington hotels into luxury digs with porte-cocheres, period furnishings and French-accented concierges.
"I think people finally woke up," said Carr, with a kind of home-town boosterism that clings to Washington from its days as a municipal backwater, "and realized that Washington, D.C., not New York, is the capital of the country."
That's one Washington. To see the other, start at those same hotels, only this time look backstairs.
The maids, the busboys, the valet parking attendants are likely to be Hispanic. In fact, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 25, one of the city's largest unions at 10,000 members strong, is half Hispanic -- a vast change from 10 years ago.
Follow those workers home and you'll likely end up in Adams-Morgan, a burgeoning, polyglot neighborhood that is home to the city's growing Hispanic population, estimated at 17,000 by the 1980 census and as high as 70,000 by the city's Office of Latino Affairs. Washington's Hispanics, the census and city officials have reported, are largely poor; live largely in overcrowded housing; have created new demands on the schools and other city government agencies, and sometimes have interests that diverge from those of the city's 70 percent black majority.
From Adams-Morgan, loop south past Dupont Circle, nexus of the city's increasingly visible and vocal gay community. Then swing east through neighborhoods like Logan Circle and Shaw and notice the renovated town houses, examples of the gentrification boom that once seemed likely to transform all of Washington's inner-city neighborhoods, but was slowed by recession. On some blocks, fresh-scrubbed homes with iron bars at the windows stand as lonely outposts waiting for reinforcements that never came.
If it's a Sunday morning, pause in front of one of the churches in Shaw -- say, First Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church on Sixth Street NW -- and notice the cars out front with Maryland license plates. They reflect the migration of much of Washington's black middle class to the better schools and more affordable housing of Prince George's County, a hemorrhage that has slowed in the last several years but not stopped.
Drive through Capitol Hill, perhaps the best example of gentrification, and on across the Anacostia River to far Southeast, where most of the changes over the last 10 years have been for the worse.
Out at the Valley Green housing project, bleak buildings surround threadbare, dusty courtyards and piles of trash spill down the embankments to the street below. More often than not, youngsters rush to the car window hawking $5 "nickel bags" of marijuana or $15 tinfoil packets of cigarettes laced with "Loveboat" -- PCP, the dangerous hallucinogen that has found its most ardent clientele in the youth of Washington.
Home rule was supposed to bring a government that cared enough to make public housing better. Most people agree, though, that while the government may care, public housing in Washington has actually gotten much worse.
Then swing around through upper Northeast and Northwest, the solid, black, churchgoing neighborhoods thought of as "backbone" Washington, the heart and soul of the community.
To learn how the second Washington -- the Washington of the neighborhoods -- has fared in the 10 years of home rule, talk to a few people in a place like Petworth.
The 5100 block of Third Street NW in Petworth is a settled neighborhood marked by a closeness formed before home rule, when there were no elected representatives to pressure to get things done and residents had to rely on community action through groups like civic associations.
A Washington Post poll of D.C. residents citywide, conducted last month, found that nearly two-thirds of Washingtonians interviewed thought their city an above-average place to live. Nearly half thought it was getting better and only about a fifth thought the quality of life was declining.
The residents of upper Third Street tend to agree, citing few major complaints about their city. A decade ago, Washington was still trying to escape the stigma of having been described by President Richard Nixon as the crime capital of the nation. Today, crime is decreasing, largely because of demographics, experts say; young men commit most crimes, and their numbers have decreased. In some inner-city neighborhoods plagued with drug sellers, like Hanover Street NW with its cocaine merchants, crime is still the top issue. In Petworth it is reduced to equal status with more mundane concerns.
Eunice Butkus, 63, who taught physical education in the D.C. school system for 25 years before retiring in 1968, was raking leaves in front of her Third Street row house on a recent afternoon. She paused to talk about what effect, if any, she and her neighbors have seen from home rule.
I can't see it's made much difference, myself." Of her elected mayor and City Council, she said, "As far as I'm concerned you don't see them do much of anything."
She complained that her trash is now picked up only once a week, as opposed to twice a week before Marion Barry became mayor. The city gave her and thousands of other residents big green "Supercans" to hold the week's worth of refuse. But Butkus complained that the wheels on her can are broken and the city hasn't fixed them.
The former teacher has strong feelings about the D.C. public schools, which are now struggling to rebound after years in which the school board struggled with its administrators and student achievement plummeted. The scores of D.C. students on standardized tests have begun to rise, especially in the lower grades. Officials hope the success had in placing the first graduates of the school system's special academic high school, Banneker, in prestigious colleges will help retain more of the brighter students who have been fleeing to private schools.
Still, Butkus said she believes the quality of education in the District "is going to pot" because there isn't enough discipline.
"You really can't discipline," Butkus said. "Everyone seems afraid of the parents. In kindergarten they the kids say 'What are you going to do to me if I'm bad?' . . . Frankly, I'm glad I'm out of it. Teaching is dangerous.
"There's too much paperwork. You can't spend as much time teaching as you'd like to . . . . When I first started teaching in the District, it was among the top three school systems. Now I think it's at the bottom of the post."
Butkus and others expressed frustration that the home rule Congress granted the District is limited.
"I still feel our hands are tied," said Edgar Wilson, 59, a retired Army engineer. "The mayor's hands are tied. Congress only gave us a few crumbs. Congress is still in charge of things . . . . We really only have partial control."
Angelo Johnson, 26, who worked at Bowl America until he was laid off recently, said he had a confrontation with a police officer a year ago that helped put home rule in perspective for him. "He called me a 'dumb nigger,' " Johnson said. "But he was black. That's how far we have come."
The D.C. police department is now about half black. It has a black police chief, Maurice T. Turner Jr., who in the prehome-rule days was the recruiting officer in charge of the big push to integrate the department. For most Washingtonians, dealing with the police is a far different experience now from the days when it was mostly white and activists like Marion Barry called it an army of occupation.
Leslie Cosby, a retired warehouseman who lives next door to Eunice Butkus, grumbled about a lack of responsiveness from the city government -- even from Barry, the activist-turned-mayor who has long since shed his dashikis for three-piece suits. "The only time you can talk to the mayor is around election time," Cosby said.
Cosby still resents the time his neighborhood association, the 5100 Block Club, invited the mayor to come out and talk about public transportation and instead got a subordinate "who doesn't know anything more about it than I do."
Said Wilson, the retired engineer, "Under the City Council system we get a little more action. I can't say what the results are, but we get a little more action."
Some gentrified neighborhoods like Capitol Hill have gained amenities in the last decade, but many other parts of town have lost them -- grocery stores, department stores, movie theaters. Some neighborhood business strips have dried up entirely, even as downtown has thrived. With the exception of Hechinger Mall at Benning and Bladensburg roads NE and the Fort Lincoln New Town development in far Northeast, there have been no major development projects outside of downtown and the affluent slice of the city west of Rock Creek Park.
The Post's poll found, for example, that about one Washington resident in three does his food shopping in the suburbs rather than in the city.
About half of D.C. residents shop for clothes in the suburbs, though two-thirds say that when they want to go out to a restaurant they can find one in the city.
Those living east of the Anacostia River were more likely to go outside the city to buy groceries or clothes than those west of the river.
They were also somewhat less likely to be satisfied with the quality of life in Washington, and somewhat less likely to think things were getting better.
Still, healthy majorities in all parts of the city said they live in Washington because they want to, rather than because they cannot move to the suburbs. Citywide, nearly three-fourths of all respondents said they live in Washington by choice; east of the river, the figure was about six in 10 who said they choose to live in the city.
It is difficult to attribute these attitudes exclusively to the dawning of home rule. But there does seem to have been at least one important change over the last 10 years that is much more closely related to the advent of representative government.
In 1973, two years before the elected mayor and City Council took office, the Bureau of Social Science Research surveyed D.C. residents and found that nearly six in 10 felt they could not influence the decisions the federal government was making on local issues. Nearly three in four agreed with the statement that the federal government did not deal fairly with the needs of Washingtonians.
The Post's poll found last month that about half of all D.C. residents thought the mayor and the City Council cared equally about the needs of all Washington residents.
Only about a third felt the city's elected officials cared more about special interests than about ordinary citizens.
It's hard to argue that home rule has shaped the booming downtown, and even harder to argue that it has shaped the more complex neighborhoods. But it does seem to have brought government closer to the people it's supposed to serve.