Heard on the Hill: Lawsuit with Your Lager?

Posted September 22, 2008 at 7:02pm

The name of the local Capitol Hill watering hole Hawk ’n’ Dove is meant to conjure images of peaceful coexistence. Yet the Pennsylvania Avenue purveyor of burgers and beers is inspiring anything but serenity these days, after the bar’s policy banning at least some Marines from entering the establishment has angered military types all over the country.

[IMGCAP(1)]Stephen Gould, a former Hill staffer, veteran and veterans’ advocate, is helping to organize a discrimination lawsuit against the bar, while other critics of the bar’s door policy are contacting lawmakers, pressing Congress to pass a resolution condemning the joint and considering a demonstration to register their displeasure.

The all-out war on the Hawk ’n’ Dove started when a group of Marines tried to enter the bar earlier this month, only to be denied access by the door attendant, who told them the bar didn’t permit members of the military to enter. Word of the incident began to spread via e-mail, and local ABC news station WJLA reported the story.

Hawk ’n’ Dove manager Paul Meagher said the bar’s policy has long been to ban only Marines from the local barracks, located on 8th Street Southeast, who might cause trouble. The local Marines have a history of starting fights and causing damage to the bar, he said, including an incident in July after which he sent a bill to the officers at the barracks for $900 worth of damages.

Meagher said Marines stationed at the local barracks may enter, but only if they are in uniform or are accompanied by a date—two factors he said would be likely to keep young men on their best behavior.

Meagher admits that some of the bar’s staff who work the door might have misunderstood the policy and says the management has now clarified the admittance guidelines.

Still, Gould said any such policy is likely to violate D.C.’s nondiscrimination laws, which protect people from unequal treatment based not just on factors like age and sex, but “source of income” as well. He’s spoken to the American Civil Liberties Union, which he said has voiced its support for a lawsuit challenging the bar. And via e-mail, veterans’ and military groups are working on a demonstration (a legally licensed one, natch, since we’re talking law-and-order folks here). Critics have made contact with a half-dozen Members of Congress, and Gould said there’s “interest” on Capitol Hill in passing some kind of resolution condemning the bar.

And the thought of men and women in uniform being denied the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of hops is apparently angering people on both sides of the aisle.

“This is not about politics. It’s about discrimination, particularly against people who have chosen to serve our country,” Gould said.

Whack-y Charges Against Hinchey. Most politicians attend street fairs to kiss babies and shake hands. But one attendee of an upstate New York fair says Rep. Maurice Hinchey whacked him over the head instead.

The alleged whack-ee is Paul Lendvay, who local media say is the chairman of the Catskill Regional Friends of the National Rifle Association. Lendvay claims that during the Rosendale Street Fair on July 19, the New York Democrat struck him over the head with his hand after Lendvay asked him to put down a rifle at the fair’s firearms booth.

Hinchey spokesman Jeff Lieberson said the complaint is completely fabricated and suggested that it was politically motivated. Hinchey said that nothing of the kind happened and that all he remembers about the interaction at the fair was that a man he didn’t know approached him, spewing profanity.

Still, Hinchey — who is up for re-election in November — will have to answer the charge in court. A court date set for Sept. 9 was cancelled when the prosecutor failed to show up, and a new date hasn’t yet been set.

As the great sage Dean Martin once said, ain’t that a kick in the head?

Hagel’s Maverick Endorsement. Political observers, journalists and even Members of Congress have spent months wondering who independent-minded Sen. Chuck Hagel would endorse for president. Well, dear reader, HOH brings you exclusive news on the Nebraska Republican’s candidate of choice — it’s five-time presidential nominee Ralph Nader!

OK, not really. Hagel’s big announcement, made during a speech at Georgetown University on Monday, merely was a light-hearted way for him to dodge the almost-expected endorsement question from an audience member. (Although Nader probably would take the support, if offered.)

And while Hagel might not be naming his actual pick for prez anytime soon, he did spend much of the hour-long talk blasting the current president’s Wall Street bailout plan, specifically noting a lack of inclusion accorded to Congress from the White House.

“If we are going to do this, let’s do this right. Let’s just disband Congress,” Hagel said, drawing laughter. “We tried a monarchy once — and it didn’t work.”

Hagel added that the burden of fixing the financial crisis would fall to the next president, with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson not involved.

“He’ll be gone,” Hagel said of Paulson. “And he’ll probably be damn happy.”

Pickens and Grinning. Presidential contenders Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) might differ in age, personality type, policy preferences and, well … just about everything, but oilman T. Boone Pickens told a Washington crowd on Monday that there’s one thing the two Senators have in common: the thought of being president puts a goofy smile on both their faces.

Pickens, who was talking about energy policy at the National Press Club, said he met separately with Obama and McCain to talk about alternative energy sources. Folksy Pickens, who says he’s staying nonpartisan and bashed both candidates for lacking a serious energy plan, said he used the same hypothetical situation with Obama and McCain in which the candidate played commander in chief and Pickens played an adviser.

Though the two men’s answers were divergent, “they both got a big grin on their face” at the proposition, he said.

Briefly Quoted. “The Appalachian Whatever-it-is,” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, showing his detailed knowledge of legislation he plans to bring to the floor this week.

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