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Taking note . . .

Observations about public affairs in the nationís capital
by the editor of The Common Denominator

STILL WAITING: Mayoral spokesman Vince Morris promised during a live broadcast of WAMU’s "D.C. Politics Hour" on Nov. 11 to provide documentation to The Common Denominator to prove that Deutsche Bank did not pay for Mayor Anthony Williams’s trip to London Nov. 10-13. During the trip, Williams participated in a conference sponsored by the German financial institution that is negotiating to help pay for the District’s new baseball stadium. Despite reminding Morris of his promise in the interim, at this writing two weeks later, we’re still waiting.

Morris pledged to provide the documentation after he disputed a story published online Nov. 10 by The Common Denominator, which reported that Deutsche Bank was paying the mayor’s way. The story was based on information provided by mayoral spokeswoman Sharon Gang, who said the conference sponsor was picking up the tab. The London conference, part of a multi-city series called "Urban Age" that the mayor helped kick off last February in New York, was jointly sponsored by Deutsche Bank and the London School of Economics.

HOLIDAY BREAK: With this issue of The Common Denominator, we begin our annual holiday publishing hiatus. The next issue of The Common Denominator is scheduled to be published on Jan. 9, 2006.

During this year’s break, we are hoping to relocate our offices to more affordable quarters within the District. Finding affordable space in the District for a local small business, we have found, is becoming as difficult as finding affordable housing.

"Common area maintenance" charges, fees over which commercial tenants cannot exercise control, are routinely tacked onto rent bills by owners of office buildings and shopping centers, and can make a huge difference in the bottom line of a small business. Our search has made us wonder if CAM charges, as they are called, are a major reason why so many local retail businesses in the District are being replaced by national chains, as new retail spaces are often a part of larger buildings.

In one case during our search, we found that our inquiry about a long-vacant commercial property was rebuffed due to the landlord’s expectation to lease the space soon to the D.C. government. The experience gives new meaning to competition, when the government’s hunger for an increasing amount of leased space forces local businesses to look elsewhere.

Affordable commercial and office space appears to be plentiful in neighboring Prince George’s County, Md., based upon our inquiries. However, we are hoping that "D.C.’s hometown newspaper" will not be forced to operate "in exile" – as so many former D.C. residents have moved to what is commonly called the District’s "Ward 9" – to continue operations.

Copyright 2005 The Common Denominator