Category Archives: Washington D.C.

The D.C. mayoral race

September 14 is the big day for the Democratic primary in Washington, D.C. The contest is mainly between current D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray.

I don’t live in D.C., but living in the D.C. metro area one can’t help but keep tabs on what’s going on in this mayoral contest.

Despite the fact that there have been some improvements in D.C. since Adrian Fenty was elected mayor he’s actually behind Vincent Gray in the polls.

Poll shows D.C. Mayor Fenty getting more credit than support in primary race against Gray

By Nikita Stewart and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is foundering in his reelection bid against his chief opponent, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, despite a widespread sense that the city is heading in the right direction, according to a new Washington Post poll.

With early voting beginning Monday in the Sept. 14 primary, Gray is clearly ahead, leading Fenty 49 to 36 percent among all Democratic voters surveyed. Gray’s advantage swells to 17 points, 53 to 36 percent, among those most likely to vote in the primary.

Although most of those Democrats polled credit the mayor with a record of accomplishment and say he brought needed change to the District, many doubt his honesty, his willingness to listen to different points of view and his ability to understand their problems. The criticisms are especially deep-seated among African Americans, who are likely to make up a majority of primary voters.

Nearly six in 10 black Democrats see Fenty as caring primarily about upper-income residents; more than four in 10 see him as disproportionately concerned about whites in the District. In predominantly black Wards 7 & 8, east of the Anacostia River, where Fenty carried 54 percent of the primary vote four years ago, just 14 percent of all Democratic voters there now back him against Gray.

Citywide, most black voters doubt Fenty’s honesty and say he doesn’t understand their problems. Four years ago, just 17 percent of African Americans expressed unfavorable views of Fenty; now, that number has leapt to 56 percent.

What’s worse is Fenty is losing momentum in his own neighborhood, Ward 4:

By contrast, Fenty is struggling to hold on to his home base of Ward 4, in Northwest, which he represented as council member for six years and where he won 69 percent of the primary vote four years ago. Now, Fenty leads Gray by 46 to 40 percent, among all registered Ward 4 Democrats and has a similar edge in Ward 1.

In the beginning of the year I thought Mayor Fenty was a shoe in for a second term. But as the months went by I started reading some very unflattering stories about Mayor Fenty.  Fenty’s folks are touting the reduction in crime and the improvement in the public schools. But one of the biggest problems involve race.   Many black residents of D.C. aren’t happy at all with Mayor Fenty. From what I’ve been reading over the past few months many in the black community find Mayor Fenty distant, arrogant and aloof. They see him spending money on dog parks, hiring more white folks in higher level positions and not doing anything to improve the eastern party of D.C which is mostly working class, poor and black.  They see him as catering more to the wealthier and mostly white population.  According to a Washington Post column today by Robert McCartney:

But critics charge that Fenty’s policies have served mainly to attract newcomers to the city, or to protect the interests of recent arrivals in gentrifying neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights and Capitol Hill. That explains the frequent criticism that the mayor has spent too much money on bike lanes and dog parks, and too little on affordable housing and jobs. With his own enthusiasm for triathlons and Smart Cars, Fenty’s persona is also identified more with newcomers than with longtime residents. It doesn’t help that he appointed few African Americans to top cabinet positions.

Nobody objects to the District becoming more prosperous, but there’s much anxiety over how it’s happening. Many working-class citizens, mostly blacks, are concerned that rising rents will drive them from the city. And the growing affluence has not translated into help for the tens of thousands of chronically unemployed people living east of the Anacostia River.

In that same column McCartney states that many black voters feel as though Mayor Adrian Fenty hoodwinked them back in 2006 when he first campaigned for mayor:

Fenty is struggling partly because many black voters feel that he hoodwinked them when he ran for mayor four years ago. Based on his remarkable face-to-face campaign effort in 2006, when he knocked on almost every door in the city, voters expected him to be a more humane, accessible version of the previous mayor, the wonky and equally results-oriented Tony Williams. Fenty swept every precinct by convincing people that he’d continue the improvements in city services and finances ushered in by Williams, while being more receptive to precisely the concerns about gentrification, poverty and inclusiveness that are tripping him up now.

Last week Post columnist Courtland Milloy wrote about Mayor Fenty’s snubbing of black women. Even those who campaigned for him in 2006 are turning away from him in 2010.

Adrian Fenty’s snubs of black women make a win at the polls unlikely

By Courtland Milloy
Wednesday, August 25, 2010; B01

How did D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty lose the love of so many black women — the most faithful and forgiving constituents a black man in public office can have? The answer: He worked at it, went out of his way to snub and disrespect even the most revered sisters of distinction.

They include Dorothy I. Height, president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, who died this year; Maya Angelou, the poet; Susan L. Taylor, editor of Essence magazine; Oracene Price, mother of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams; and former D.C. first lady Cora Masters Barry, founder of the Southeast Washington Tennis and Learning Center.

The list goes on and on.

A year ago, two meetings were scheduled between Fenty, Height and the others. The women were concerned that he was using a legal ruse to take the tennis center from Barry and turn the operation over to one of his fraternity brothers.

Both meetings were canceled at the last minute, with Fenty claiming that the women called it off and the women saying they were snubbed by him.

Whom are you going to believe?

“Dr. Maya Angelou and I were scheduled to meet with the mayor on the 28th of August and on the 31st of August,” Height, who was 98 at the time, told reporters afterward. She didn’t mention the other women lest they get caught up in petty D.C. politics. “It didn’t happen because the meetings were canceled. Well, we were disappointed.”

You hear that word a lot about Fenty. It’s as if black women had let down their natural guard against disappointment and allowed themselves to be fooled by a man they thought really cared about them.

“I just don’t understand him,” said Joan Ellis Tillman, 76, a longtime grass-roots political activist, sounding bewildered. “I worked hard for Fenty, and as soon as he became mayor he starts acting like he doesn’t know me.”

Complaints about Fenty’s abrasive personality must be put in context. For many black women, his dismissiveness is not just a personal affront but a quality reflected throughout much of his government; his arrogance is just the coldness of his policies personified.

Milloy also states in his column that Mayor Fenty is now going door to door trying to win back those disaffected voters. I’ve even heard one of his campaign ads on the radio stating that he’s made mistakes.  But will the ads and the door to door visits work?

Last week, the 39-year-old mayor kicked off a “humility” tour, knocking on doors and making telephone calls, trying to win back the disaffected.

Sorry, but the new breed, post-racial brother just doesn’t get it. Fool a black woman once, shame on you. And that’s it. No fool me twice. She won’t hate you; she just won’t vote for you again.

What black women wanted from Fenty in exchange for their support could not have been clearer to anyone who heard them speak at candidate forums, coffee klatches, neighborhood association meetings, church socials and the like.

Fix decrepit school buildings, update equipment and supplies, get disruptive students out of the classrooms and hallways and find some way to educate them, in spite of their self-destructive ways, someplace else.

And if there was any way to help those stressed-out, two-job-holding mothers to get more involved in their children’s education, they would appreciate it more than he could ever know.

They didn’t ask him to start closing schools or to embark on a campaign of firing seasoned black teachers. And when he started taking credit for academic improvements that were already underway when he took office, they were too through with him.

“I guess his head got too big, but I really don’t know what happened to him,” said Ethel Delaney Lee, 84, another disaffected Fenty supporter.

Check out Courtland Milloy’s entire article here and for more news and information on the D.C. mayoral race check out the D.C. political section here.

Craving for cupcakes

The Washington Post has an interesting article about two sisters who run a cupcake shop in Georgetown. Georgetown Cupcake has become a tourist attraction since Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne starred in the TLC reality show D.C. Cupcakes.

Among the must-see spots in the nation’s capital: the cupcake queue

By J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 16, 2010; B01

Behold the power of Georgetown Cupcake: One sweltering day this month, a young woman was baking in the sun on 33rd Street NW, waiting in the long queue to buy some of the bakery’s signature sweets, when she fainted on the sidewalk. An ambulance rushed to the scene, but she declined to go to the hospital.

Of course she did.

“She didn’t want to get out of line,” explains the voguish bakery’s co-owner, Katherine Kallinis.

And so grew the legend of the Georgetown Cupcake line, which forms daily at the northwest corner of 33rd and M streets and often stretches all the way to Prospect Street, clear at the other end of the block.

“It’s crazy, especially on weekends,” says Eileen Lohmann, a Georgetown University student who lives a few doors up from Georgetown Cupcake. “Sometimes we can’t even get down our steps. I’m not bothered by it, but I am just a little shocked that so many people would line up in the rain or 100-degree weather for cupcakes. I wouldn’t want to walk outside in that heat, let alone eat a cupcake.”

Yet the Georgetown Cupcake fetishists are there, day after sweltering day — especially since the mid-summer launch of “D.C. Cupcakes,” a reality show on the TLC cable channel about Kallinis and her business partner-sister, Sophie LaMontagne, and their little cupcakery that could. The show, whose debut was watched by more than 1 million people, turned Georgetown Cupcake from a local phenomenon into a tourist attraction of national proportions — creating headaches for neighbors who now have to cut through the cupcake queue to enter their homes.

Georgetown Cupcake has had lines out the door since opening on Valentine’s Day in 2008, in a much smaller space on nearby Potomac Street. But sales have doubled since the TV show’s premiere (10,000 cupcakes a day on weekends, at $2.75 a pop, $15 for six or $29 for a dozen). Crowds at the new flagship store, which opened in December, have swelled to such an extent that the sisters felt compelled to add a bouncer to their staff.

With the extremely hot summer we’ve been having in the D.C. metro area, I can’t believe some folks will stand in line for a couple of hours just to buy cupcakes.

I’ve never seen the show D.C. Cupcakes or been to Georgetown Cupcake but after reading this article I was getting a craving for cupcakes.  Especially the red velvet.

You can also check out the article I scanned from The Washington Post Express.

The DMV?

Yesterday’s Washington Post had an interesting article about a new way to describe the Washington, D.C. area.  Some folks are now using the nickname ‘The DMV‘ (District, Maryland and Virginia).

After initial obscurity, ‘The DMV’ nickname for Washington area picks up speed

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2010; C01

New York is “the Big Apple” and Chicago “the Windy City,” but unless the earnest and obvious “Nation’s Capital” is your idea of a cool handle, Washington and its environs have never gotten very far in the civic nickname game.

We are pleased to report, however, that this could be changing. A nickname has recently emerged that could put the Washington area on the regional nickname map: the DMV. As in, D for the District, M for Maryland, and V for Virginia.

Sleek, succinct and inclusive, the name has been in common use for several years among the area’s — ahem, the DMV’s — hip-hop and go-go music crowd. It’s familiar to listeners of black-oriented radio stations such as WKYS-FM and WPGC-FM, whose DJs decorate their patter with mentions of it. It also pops up as geographical shorthand (“DMV man seeks woman”) on Craigslist, the classified-ad Web site.

It’s safe to say, however, that most of the rest of the DMV’s populace is unaware that the DMV refers to anything other than a certain sluggish city bureaucracy. Although the phrase has appeared irregularly in The Washington Post, most mainstream news sources haven’t picked up on it.

When I think of the phrase DMV I’m thinking the Department of Motor Vehicles. Though in Maryland it’s the MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration).  I have noticed that The DMV is used while listening to the radio when they do news bits but I don’t listen to WKYS and WPGC.  I tend to use the D.C. Metro area.

As hip locutions go, “the DMV” might even be displacing “Chocolate City,” the olde tyme designation for black Washington. For all its racial echoes and connotations, “Chocolate City” is increasingly limited; Washington’s suburbs have grown exponentially since the term was in vogue and are now home to more African Americans than the District itself.

I definitely remember the phrase Chocolate City when describing Washington, D.C.   D.C. use to be Chocolate City back in the day when the black population was hovering around 70%.  The group Parliament had an album back in 1975 titled Chocolate City.

According to Wikipedia:

The album takes its name from the term “Chocolate City,” which had been used to describe Washington, D.C. where blacks had been becoming a majority through migration (as explained in the cover notes included with one recent CD release of the album). The term had been used by Washington’s black AM radio stations WOL-AM and WOOK-AM since the early 1970s to refer to the city. Bobby “The Mighty Burner” Bennett, a DJ on WOL, told the Washington Post in 1998 “Chocolate City for me was the expression of D.C.’s classy funk and confident blackness.

But like yesterday’s Post article stated black folks have spread out to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.  D.C. is more diverse now.

I guess with other cities using various nicknames like Atlanta (the ATL or the 404), Houston (H-Town), San Francisco (the Bay area), Los Angeles (Southland), Chicago (Chi-town or the Windy City), Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love), New York City (the Big Apple) some folks in the D.C. Metro area are looking for a similar type of nickname.  But The DMV?  Sorry but I’m not feeling this one.  Folks looking for a nickname need to go back to the drawing board.

Whew it’s hot!!!!

I stepped outside earlier today for just a minute to get my mail and boy is it hot!!!!!  This is stay at home day for me today.

Right now according to the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post it’s 100 degrees in most of the D.C. Metro area and the heat index is close to 110.

The extremely hot weather may have been the cause of death of a young male cyclist biking along the Potomac River.

Record heat scorches tourists and may be responsible for cyclist’s death

By Carol Morello and Naomi Nix
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2010; 3:40 PM

The Pos family knew when they traveled from the Netherlands to the United States for a month-long road to the United States that Washington in July would be hot. But they didn’t think it would be this hot.

“It’s just our luck that we have to come to Washington on the hottest day ever,” said Janyne Pos, 42, who sat perched under a tree outside of the White House.

Call it bad luck or just bad timing, but the National Weather Service has for the first time this year issued an excessive heat warning along the I-95 corridor. Meteorologists say they expect temperatures to be above 110 heat index to be above 110 degrees for two or more hours. Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gangsaid that as of 2 p.m. Saturday, the temperature at Reagan National Airport was above 100 degrees, breaking the record high of 96 degrees which was set in 1987.

The Prince George’s fire department warns that high temperatures can result in heat related illness, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Officials on Saturday said heat may have contributed to the death of a 20-year old male bicyclist while riding in the Potomac River Park, according to the Prince George’s fire department. The man was on a bike path that runs between the Oxon Hill Farm and the National Harbor when apparently he went unconscious and fell from his bike. Witnesses reported seeing the male hit his head on a tree as he fell from the bike causing some abrasions.

“While an official cause of death will not be determined until an autopsy is performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, paramedics feel that high temperatures and humidity more then likely played a role in this young mans death,” the news release said.

Young, middle age and elderly folks have to be very careful about hot and humid weather like this.

Teleworking up in D.C. area

According to MyFoxDC.com the number of folks teleworking in the Washington, D.C. area has gone from 11% in 2001 to currently 25%.

WASHINGTON – Most commuters in the metropolitan Washington area still drive to work alone, but their proportion is declining.

According to a new survey of drivers released by the Council of Governments, in 2001, 70% of area commuters drove alone. In 2010, 64% of us are driving solo.

Another result in the survey: teleworking (from home) is up significantly.  In 2001, 11% of Washington area commuters teleworked “at least occasionally.”  That number has now grown to 25% of the workforce.

Jason Marlor is an editor for the Federal Register who teleworks one to two days a week. Traffic congestion is the reason. “Frankly,” Marlor explained, “I love avoiding the entire commute.”

The COG survey shows 54% of area employers permit teleworking. And 46% of employers have no program.

I know some employers frown on teleworking.  They want to see their employees in the office everyday.  I work for the federal government and some managers are still resistant to idea.  I work from home about twice a month and I love it.  Some folks in my division at work telework once a week (4 times a month).

Metro riders describe train crash

The WaPo has another article about the red line metro crash that occurred during today’s evening rush hour.

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Riders Offer One Another Tourniquets, Tenderness

By Rosalind S. Helderman and David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In the first car of the six-car Red Line train, on a sunny-day evening commute, passengers heard a message familiar to any Metrorail rider: The conductor said they were holding for a moment — there was a train ahead.

The train started moving again, picking up to moderate speed.

Then, without even the squeal of brakes as a warning, there was a crash and the feeling of being lifted up as the train hit one that was stopped.

In the moments after the crash, passengers made tourniquets out of T-shirts, struggled to pull debris off others and sought to calm the hysterical and the gravely wounded. Inside the worst-hit car, waiting on ambulances and the “jaws of life,” an Anglican priest led a group in the Lord’s Prayer. On the ground below, a civilian Pentagon employee told a wounded girl he wouldn’t accept her last wish — she was going to live.

Inside the car, there was dust and broken glass and blood. Seats had been ripped from the floor and thrown around: One man was trapped between two of them, with a leg that appeared broken. A woman was screaming, invisible, buried beneath a pile of seats.

But the most incredible thing was the floor itself. It was gone, peeled away. Passengers could look down and see the grooved metal roof of another Metro train.

“The front of the train just opened up,” said Marcie Bacchus, 30, who was among a handful of passengers in the car at the center of the deadliest accident in Metro’s 33-year history.

The crash happened about 5 p.m. on an aboveground stretch of track that runs through neighborhoods between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations. Authorities said one Red Line train rear-ended another, hitting with such force that its first car was thrown on top of the other train.

Check out the entire article here.

Deadly crash on metro’s red line

I got home today from work, turned on the tv to watch the news and saw that metro’s red line had a deadly crash around 5:00pm this afternoon. I was on the blue line during that time.

According to the local news reports, which have been on all evening, both red line trains were headed in the direction of Washington, D.C.  The first train had stopped between Takoma Park and Fort Totten stations.

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The second train rear ended the first train so fiercely that the second train vaulted on top of the train that was rear ended.  Check out the picture below to see what I’m talking about.

red_line_metro

According to one of the passengers the second train stopped due to the train in front of it that had stopped.   But apparently the driver of the second train started back up. The second train must have been going pretty fast to crash so hard into the first train.

So far six people were killed including the female driver of the second train and seventy people were injured.

What you’re seeing below is the front of the second train on top of the first train.

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Red Line Crash Kills at Least Six
One Train Rear-Ends Another at Fort Totten Station in Deadliest Accident in Metro History

By Lena H. Sun, Robert Thomson and Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 22, 2009 9:23 PM

One Red Line Metrorail train rammed another from behind this evening between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations, killing at least six people and injuring 70 in what authorities called the transit system’s deadliest crash ever. The smashup was so forceful that the trailing train vaulted on top of the other.

Metro officials said the two six-car trains were headed in the same direction, toward Shady Grove, when one rear-ended the other shortly after 5 p.m. The female operator of the trailing train died.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said this evening that six people were killed but rescue personnel were still combing the wreckage. “This is the deadliest accident in the history of our Metro train transit system,” Fenty said.

Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin estimated 70 people were injured, six critically, 14 moderately and 50 with minor injuries. Authorities said rescuers were searching the trains at the scene in Northeast Washington to ensure they were evacuated.

“We’re using heavy rescue equipment to cut open the cars to get whoever’s trapped in there out,” said D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Alan Etter.

Passengers who climbed out of the wreckage described a violent, shuddering crash.

“All I heard was a boom,” said Dylan Hooks, 17, who said he was on one of the trains. “Everybody started screaming. Somebody hit their head on the glass.” The electricity went off, he said, and passengers had to open the doors themselves to exit.

Tom Baker, 47, said he was in the first car of the trailing train. It had pulled out of Takoma Park on the way to Fort Totten, he said, when the conductor said it was holding because there was a train in front. Then the trailing train started moving again. Soon, Baker said, there was an “enormous crashing jolt.”

“You could hear all this crashing and glass breaking. I didn’t hear any brakes at all.” He said he saw the train lift into the air. Seats in his car were ripped out and tossed around. Some passengers were trapped; some screamed.

You can read the rest here at the Washington Post.  I’m sure more info will come out about this crash.

The Beltway Sniper case revisited

On this cold, cloudy day while doing my laundry I was channel surfing and stopped at the Discovery Times channel. They were featuring a detective show about The Beltway Sniper. The Beltway Sniper attacks terrorized the Washington, D.C. area back in October 2002. Many folks (including myself) in the area were leary about going to the gas station (since many of the murders took place at gas stations), walking in parking lots anywhere and parents were fearful about their children in school (since one of the victims was shot on his way to school). It was a scary few weeks around here back then. Snipers John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo caused alot of panic in the D.C. area. All of this happened one year after 9/11.

It was somewhat difficult to watch this show. In this area ten people were murdered and three were critically wounded. The snipers were also responsible for several other murders throughout the country. John Allen Muhammad was eventually convicted and sentenced to death and John Lee Malvo received a life sentence without parole. I’m so glad these murderers are behind bars now.

The Washington Post has extensive coverage of the sniper shootings and the murder trials. Wikipedia also has information on the sniper shootings.

RIP Effi Barry

Effi Barry, the former wife of former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry passed away early this morning.

Effi Barry Dies at 63

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer

Effi Barry, 63, a regal first lady of Washington who endured with dignity her husband’s very public sex and drug scandal during his tenure as mayor, died early this morning of leukemia at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis.

Ms. Barry, who most recently worked as program director for the D.C. health department’s HIV-AIDS administration, was married to former mayor Marion Barry for 14 years. They separated in 1990, not long after he was captured on videotape smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room with an ex-model. The Barrys divorced three years later.

After leaving Washington, Ms. Barry taught health and sex education at Hampton University, her alma mater, before returning to Washington and supporting her former husband in his successful bid for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat in 2004. In recent years, she used her battle with leukemia to campaign for more African Americans to join the registry for bone marrow transplants.

Ms. Barry always showed alot of poise and elegance while her husband was mayor. She stayed by him during his drug trial but they separated soon afterwards.

Whatever problems she experienced as first lady paled in comparison to her husband’s 1990 arrest on a cocaine possession charge. The FBI taped Barry meeting with Hazel Diane “Rasheeda” Moore, a woman with whom he acknowledged having a relationship. The grainy videotape of the mayor smoking crack cocaine and asking for sex was shown worldwide. Ms. Barry, always graceful and dignified, sat in the courtroom day after day during her husband’s trial listening to often lurid testimony while she calmly hooked a rug.

Ms. Barry told The Post in 1990 that she warned her husband he was “going to be set up with a woman” and that when she learned of his arrest, her only question was, “Who was she?” She said the mayor was so demoralized after his arrest that, despite her anger, she refrained from telling him, “I told you so.”

“You don’t kick a dog when he’s down,” she said.

It’s amazing that Effi Barry stood by Marion Barry for so long. I was never a big fan of Marion Barry.

Survivors include a son from her marriage to Barry, Christopher Barry, and her mother, Polly Lee Harris, both of the District.

RIP Effi Barry.

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