Campus Notebook: Driving, Sans Influence

Posted November 14, 2008 at 5:47pm

D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss (D) repeatedly showed his Senate ID when he was stopped for drunken driving last month, according to court records.

[IMGCAP(1)]An affidavit recently filed in D.C. Superior Court — and signed by the arresting officer — recounts the arrest in detail, describing Strauss as “very unsteady on his feet” and “swaying from side to side.” Later, the officer noticed that Strauss had food stains on his shirt and pants.

He also made repeated efforts to present his Senate ID to arresting Officer Jose Rodriguez.

“While handing Officer Rodriguez his license, that he had difficulty retrieving, he displayed his US Senate ID with his right hand,” the affidavit reads. Strauss “continued to hold the US Senate ID the entire time until Officer Rodriguez asked him to step out of the car.”

A later test revealed that Strauss’ blood alcohol content was about 0.16 — twice the legal limit. Last week, he pleaded not guilty, and a status hearing is set for Nov. 19.

As a shadow Senator, Strauss is unpaid and unrecognized by Congress, though he does have an ID for access into some Member-only areas. He is technically part of the D.C. government and acts as an ambassador on the city’s behalf, spending much of his time fighting for voting representation.

On Nov. 4, he overwhelmingly won a third term, despite his Oct. 1 arrest. The D.C. Republican Party has repeatedly asked for him to step down after news of the arrest became public.

Strauss was pulled over because he was speeding, driving 49 miles per hour when the speed limit was 25. Rodriguez asked him to complete sobriety tests after smelling alcohol on his breath and noticing that he had “a blank stare, blood shot eyes and appeared confused.”

Strauss and his lawyer did not return calls for comment Friday.

Witnessing History, Expensively. As area hotels fill up with tourists eager to attend the inauguration, Washingtonians are renting their houses for a pretty penny. Craigslist is awash with ads for apartments, condos and houses in the metropolitan area, many of which are going for more than $1,000 a night.

For instance, a 3,000-square-foot loft in Logan Circle is being offered for $15,000 for the week of Jan. 16-23. The ad says the house sleeps six people and will allow visitors to be close to the action and avoid Washington traffic.

Compare this to a two-bedroom in the same neighborhood that sleeps eight and is going for $6,000 for five nights.

Chantal Wienecke is advertising her newly renovated home on East Capitol Street for $12,500 for the week. Wienecke says that business was good at first, but as the idea of home rental gets more attention, the market is becoming more competitive.

“It started out really good,” she says. “There has been interest, and I think it’ll only get better. I think we’re going to get what we’re asking at the end of the day.” Wienecke says her family plans to use the money to pay off renovation fees and take a trip to Disney World.

In addition to the Craigslist posts, a new Web site, inaugurationhousehunters.com, has popped up offering rentals. The company states that its goal is “to provide affordable housing to families during the 2009 President Barack Obama inauguration.” The site claims to have many rental properties available for inauguration week ranging from one bedroom to seven. It also includes information about limousine services and area restaurants.

Catching Up Online. House staffers can now update their tax withholdings, sign up for direct deposit and check their earnings statements online.

The office of Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard launched the system House-wide Thursday after testing it out among House officers, spokesman Jeff Ventura said.

Staffers can access the system, called MyPayLinks, through the internal House intranet at any time of the day. It’s a big step up from what was previously available: nothing at all.

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