Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 02/24/10

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It really could be a movie, all the things that have happened or are about to happen.

    Mayor Adrian Fenty, who figuratively rode in on his white horse to save the day in the 2006 election, now is being portrayed more as an evil landlord or a villain tying the poor damsel to the train tracks.

    Worse for him, it seems to be a bit of self-casting.

    The media image of the mayor -- the one most voters see -- results entirely from his dismissive attitude toward most anyone who questions what he's doing.

    It happened at News4 last week when morning anchor Eun Yang asked a simple question about snow removal and trash pickup. The mayor laughed in disbelief that Yang wasn't more informed and misunderstood what was happening.

    Some of the mayor's staff thought he did a great job in that segment. But most e-mails and comments about the exchange were negative toward the mayor -- by a margin of 100-to-1.

    Here's the title of the movie: "How Not To Win Friends and Influence People."

    • Missing in action.

    Back in 2003, the District was facing another snowstorm. It was so bad that emergency services director Peter LaPorte helped bring in a $120,000 "snow melter," a huge contraption that reduced tons of snow to water.

    The city brought the machine in from Nova Scotia and set it up at 17th and I streets downtown. Even though it broke down at least once, it was a big public-relations hit.

    Fast-forward to 2010, when the machine sits unused on a public works lot in Northeast Washington.

    News4 went in search of it Monday. We couldn't get past the security guards on West Virginia Avenue NE. But a source sent us a picture of the machine.

    Department of Public Works officials declined to appear on camera to talk about it, instead releasing a short statement saying the machine was broken and not that much use anyway.

    Baltimore is using one. It got so much attention that Philadelphia papers wrote about it.

    We're sure the melting machine could have helped get rid of snow mounds somewhere in D.C.

    Ward 1 D.C. Council member Jim Graham said he's heard enough questions about it that it has piqued his interest. He told us he'll ask about it on Friday at his council hearing on the city's snow response.

    • A doozie of a week.

    We'll be on a short vacation next week, but we probably would have changed the timing if we had known what would be in store.

    The D.C. Council is poised to take action against Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry. He could lose his committee chairmanship and be knocked off the finance committee.

    And the council may even pass some sort of resolution of censure against the former mayor.

    All this would be fallout from lawyer Robert Bennett's report that Barry abused his council position to steer contracts to cronies and ought to be investigated for criminal wrongdoing.

    Barry, of course, says he's being picked on. But the council has changed dramatically in recent years. Few if any of the council members fear Barry's waning clout. Most are more worried about their own image.

    We'll see if Council Chairman Vincent Gray asks for a strong measure against Barry. If it's hand slapping, you can bet it's another sign Gray will not run for mayor.

    The other big event next week? Same-sex marriage will be back in the news.

    The mandatory 30-day legislative review by Congress will end on March 2 or sometime soon thereafter. (The uncertainty is because the 30-day review period has to be 30 days while the Congress is in session, not just calendar days.)

    Opponents of marriage equality (which is the way supporters like to phrase the issue) are pressing Congress to attempt to block it. But as of this writing, it appears the historic, culture-changing legislation will become law without congressional interference.

    Supporters of the legislation can thank the national turmoil over health care. That big issue has distracted conservative Republicans and Democrats who might otherwise have focused on the city's bill.

    In addition, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has gotten assurances from the Democratic leadership that they will block any move against the local measure as a home-rule issue.

    Should the measure pass, the nation's capital likely will become a major matrimonial destination. But we don't expect to see fly-by-night wedding chapels set up within sight of the Washington Monument or other iconic places.

    Still, the District will be a leader in this social issue. We just have to remind anyone who might move here that they'll be able to marry, but they won't be able to vote for representation in the very Congress that is allowing that right to marry.