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Votes

Red Light Statistics

Sometimes raw data can be deceptive. Take, for example, the city’s prostitution rate. According to the Police Department’s annual report, arrests for prostitution are up 280 percent — with five arrests in 2004 and 19 arrests in 2005.

“The danger is drawing too many conclusions from this,” said Councilman Rob Krupicka. “We need to make sure people know how to read this report.”

According to the Police Department, 10 of the 19 arrests were made in a November operation at the Days Inn in the 100 block of South Bragg Street — a hotel on the western edge of the city near the Landmark Mall. Known as a “reverse sting,” the operation targeted men who attempted to solicit prostitutes. The other nine arrests were not part of an organized sting.

“When I first read that, I thought ‘Gosh, do we have a strip here?’” asked Vice Mayor Del Pepper.

Other statistics in the report showed a mixed bag, with most crimes declining while violent crime is on the rise. Although the city had two murders in 2004, Alexandria experienced five murders in 2005. The Police Department’s annual report listed only four because one of the murders happened on federal property. So police analysts don’t count it in their statistics — yet another example of how raw data can be deceptive.

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Living in the Haul Route

Starting this summer, residents of the Yates Gardens neighborhood will have to live with the weight of creation and the burden of destruction. According to a presentation made by Nick Nicholson, project manager for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, the south Old Town neighborhood is facing more than a year of being in the center of something known as the “haul route” — a condition that is sure to become more burdensome after the old bridge is demolished and carted away on massive trucks.

“Royal, Gibbon and Franklin may have to be used,” Nicholson said. “But Royal would be the immediate route.”

“Is it going to be noisy?” asked Vice Mayor Del Pepper.

“Yes, it’s going to be disruptive,” Nicholson said. “But it will only be during the day.”

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Where to Eat?

Where do City Council members party? According to a recent debate at City Hall, the picture is still unclear. Are the city’s elected leaders highbrow scions or lowbrow comics?

The problem: Where to hold outgoing Councilwoman Joyce Woodson’s farewell dinner. Opinions were divided, and council members left the meeting with the issue undecided. Deputy City Manager Michele Evans said she heard it was going to be at Landini Brothers, but Mayor Bill Euille said that a final decision hadn’t been made yet.

“I told the staff to keep McDonald’s and Burger King in mind,” Euille said at the end of Tuesday’s meeting.

“And Wendy’s,” Evan added.

“I’m cooking,” Councilman Ludwig Gaines chimed in.

“I thought Jim (Hartmann) was cooking,” Woodson said.

“Can we add our favorite dish at this time?” Macdonald said, without mentioning what it might have been.

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A $4.8 Million Purchase

On Tuesday night, the City Council voted to spend $4.8 million to buy four properties in the 4100 block of Mount Vernon Avenue. The properties will be folded into the Four Mile Run project to restore the stream’s natural beauty and create new waterfront recreational opportunities.

The properties that were purchased by the city include a Pizza Hut, a check cashing operation, a dry cleaning business and a paint store. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) secured $500,000 for the Four Mile Run project.

“I was pleased to be able to secure funding for a variety of programs and local efforts working to make the Washington Metropolitan region a cleaner, more livable and historically vibrant community,” Moran said in a written statement.