Archive for November, 2008

G20 Summit Brings Two Things To DC: Protesters and Chaos

Bush Addresses G20 as Protesters Assemble Outside

Bush Addresses G20 as Protesters Assemble Outside

 Throughout DC, hundreds of protesters gather in front of the meeting places of the G20 Summit. Authorities have advised tourists as well as DC residents to steer clear of the National Building Museum, where the emergency summit is being held and six blocks have been shut down.

DC Authorities have a lot on their hands as this summit takes place. Delegations from 20 nations, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, and of course the President all require security personnel and motorcades. This is to be provided by the Secret Service and State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau. Set aside six blocks being shut down near the Verizon Center, including the Metro at Judiciary Square, sporadically throughout the day and into the evening District residents should expect sirens, traffic jams, groups of protesters, and 16,000 “Highway to Hell” fans figuring out how to get to see AC/DC. Oh, the irony of so many people jamming out to such a tune in light of the subject of discussion for the G20. Just in case anyone was wondering, AC/DC is sold out.

The chaos doesn’t end with the task presented to DC Authorities. Hundreds assemble in front of the various meeting places of the Summit to let their voices be heard on several issues. A large contingent of Tibetan Independence supporters (200) and a smaller group from the spiritual movement Falun Gong are protesting China outside the financial meetings. A couple ANSWER coalition protesters were spotted as well. At Murrow Park and Thomas circle, anti-capitalism picketers have placed signs and marched with phrases like “Bury Capitalism” and “People Over Profit.” I wonder if these people know that the G20 represents 80% of world trade and without capitalism, any progress in the financial crisis would be impossible.

All this chaos is nothing out of the ordinary, but be warned: DC authorities haven’t had to deal with such a large scale task since the 1999 50th Anniversary of NATO.

Inauguration 2009: Why Doesn’t Anyone Want To Crash My Place?

What’s up, Patrick?! How have you been? I have a question for you — Jeremy and I are thinking about taking a day trip to D.C. on inauguration day…

I was actually excited to get this e-mail.

Everyone and their Mom (maybe their Dad) wants to be in Washington DC come Janaury 20th. Congressmen are slammed with ticket requests and if you live anywhere near the area you probably have been asked by friends, family, strangers if they can stay at your place since hotels are expensive and sold out. I was excited to see that someone has actually asked me about Inauguration- my friend isn’t asking to crash the place but wants to meet up and advice. I was happy to tell her that it will be a frenzy. I’m actually kind of sad that more people haven’t asked me to crash my place- I just moved into a new house and I’m more than welcome to host any of my friends that want to see history.

Just as there are many people that want to be in town- there are just as many (if not more) people that want to make a quick buck from it. I’ve already heard my friends thinking about renting out their rooms; I’ve even heard of a scheme to have a bunch of friends stay at one person’s home so their homes can be rented out- and make even more money. A search for “inauguration” on Craigslist have resulted in many people willing to rent out their homes and rooms.

Before the election I was on the fence about trying to join the party- it’s shaping up to be a million man march on The Mall. However this will be a historic event and if I strategize, maybe I will try and be in the area to witness history.

What is the frenzy like for the rest of DC? Anyone being flooded with requests for housing? I could only wish to get the love y’all are getting.

One Million Expected For Inauguration Day; Tickets At A Premium

One Million People Expected For Obamas Inauguration

One Million People Expected For Obama's Inauguration

With Inauguration Day just around the corner, expectations are that a crowd of about one million will be in attendance. Thousands of tickets are being requested in the District as well as in Congressional Offices throughout the country. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) alone has received 26,000 requests for tickets.

People are going crazy and offering housing in the District for thousands of dollars. The DC Council has gone berzerk. They are fighting with Mayor Fenty over the 150 Inauguration tickets that he has been given to distribute. Whining is rampant. The juvenile City Council is even threatening to hold up legislation until Fenty splits the tickets 50-50 with them. The question we are left with is: How will January 20, 2009 actually turn out? Will it be a monumental day for a million plus to enjoy, or will it be a cold day that ends up indoors?

Following the election of Barack Obama, more than 10,000 students from The George Washington University charged the White House for an eviction party that got ugly. Can the Inaugural Parade’s designated “free speech” areas hold protesters, especially as such a controversial President-Elect passes by? I personally expect a lot of arrests on January 20th.

But the bottom line is that Inauguration is DC’s big day on the national spotlight. Preparations began the day after the election, and probably were being discussed behind closed doors for months before that. Out of the chaos, a moment in history will be born, and as DC’ers we’ll be in the front row.

D.C. Could Rock The Vote In 2009

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Delegate to U.S. House

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Delegate to U.S. House

With the new Senate and a new President due to take office in January, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton feels confident that she will finally be able to win voting rights in Congress for the District of Columbia.

According to NBC Washington, Norton estimates that 65 Senators will support her Voting Rights Act of 2009 out of only 60 needed to pass the bill. According to Norton, President-Elect Obama personally told her that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.

If DC does manage to get the vote, I would hope that it breaks from tradition and elects competent officials to serve in Congress. Eleanor Holmes Norton is a fine example, shadow Senator Paul Strauss is not. At all.

How Not to Park

Recognize this car?  It’s a late model black Ford Escape with North Carolina tags, and it’s been parked on my street for several weeks.  We’ve discussed this with the meter maids parking enforcement personnel who ticketed it on a regular basis, but the car stayed put.  It’s also been blocking the street sweeper every Thursday, which implies these have NOT been issuing warnings since the beginning of August.

So today we called 311.  Turns out the vehicle was reported stolen six weeks ago!  The very helpful officer who arrived with a tow truck speculated that someone parked for an evening out in Adams Morgan, got a little tippers, and couldn’t find it again.  Or perhaps it was a vicious practical joke, or a sudden and incapacitating injury.  Sadly, we’ll never know.

The wackiest part?  The car was unlocked the entire time.

No on H8

Join the Impact has finalized the location for the DC protest against Prop 8 that turned thumbs down on same-sex marriage in California on November 4 (and the three similar measures in Arizona, Arkansas, and Florida).

Where:  The Reflecting Pool in front of the US Capitol Building

When:  Saturday, November 15, 1:30 pm

The point of this gathering–of this whole movement, with protests in every state on Saturday–is positive and fun.  This is not about h8 or blame, but looks forward toward to what needs to be done now to achieve one goal: Full equality for ALL.

There will likely be a similar proposal on the DC ballot next year, so this will be an interesting test of the mandate for change, as well as the opportunity for a fascinating political discussion on what is meant by “separate but equal” and “civil rights”.  Last I checked, those are pretty fundamental concepts in the District.

If you haven’t seen Keith Olbermann’s commentary on the issue, it’s certainly worth a gander.  And if you’re as touched by this as I am, join us on Facebook, and I hope to see you there.

Mark your calendar: American History Museum Reopens November 21

Each time I volunteer at the Smithsonian, someone will inevitably ask, “Where are Dorothy’s slippers?” and “Where can I see the first ladies’ gowns?”. On November 21, the Smithsonian Institution will kick off a three-day festival to celebrate the reopening of the National Museum of American History.

The first 1,814 visitors through the museum doors will receive a special gift in honor of 1814, the year of the Battle of Baltimore when the Star-Spangled Banner waving at “dawn’s early light” inspired Francis Scott Key. The old favorites like the American Presidency, Julia Child’s kitchen, Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, and America on the move will return on display with a new state-of-the-art gallery for the Star-Spangled Banner.

The museum closed in 2006 for an extensive $85 million renovation. The new interior features a skylit atrium and a grand staircase of metal and glass that connects the first and second floors. Artifact walls on the first and second floors will showcase some of the 3 million objects in the museum’s permanent collection.

So don’t miss the official ribbon cutting and plan to drop by between 10:00 am – 7:30 pm for the festivities.

Nationals Acquire Willingham and Olsen – Manny More To Come?

Courtesy of zjbell51

Courtesy of zjbell51

The Nationals made the first big splash of the offseason yesterday by trading second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and two minor leaguers to the Florida Marlins for outfielder Josh Willingham and pitcher Scott Olsen.

My first thought was that Willingham had been acquired as a catcher (he came up to the majors in that position and I had earlier mentioned that Jose Flores could be upgraded during the offseason). Jim Bowden was quick to point out that the Nats had “acquired him as an outfielder.” This means two things in my view. Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena need to either be demoted to the minor leagues or traded before spring training. Both guys want and need a full time job, and it will do a lot to help team chamistry if they are out of the way. By the way, why do the Nats have six outfielders?

Tim Dierkes ventured a guess that “maybe the Nats consider Josh Willingham their cleanup hitter acquisition and will back out of the Teixeira derby.” Newsflash: Josh Willingham is not a cleanup hitter, Jim Bowden. A good year will probably yield 30 homeruns and 100 RBI’s, but that is not showstopper material. As for Mark Teixeira, I have a really hard time imagining that the Nationals will be able to compete for his services, especially with the Yankees and Angels (among others) preparing to make offers that will likely make Teixeira a franchise player somewhere. While I would agree that with the bounty of outfielders in Washington this probably puts a damper on Adam Dunn rumors (darn), I would say that the Nationals need a headliner if they want to fill the seats and make a serious run in the NL East.

All in all this is a great trade for the Nationals. Olsen will fill the rotation hole that I had previously reserved for Mets free agent Oliver Perez and I am confident that both players have the similar upside. Willingham is a major upgrade to Kearns, Pena, and Willie Harris as well. At this point, I still want to see the Nationals sign an ace: looking at guys like Freddy Garcia, who are comebackers that can actually be wooed to DC, would be a great idea. Consensus says that the second base hole will be filled by Anderson Hernandez, who finished strong last season.

Where does the power bat fit then? First base is always a possibility, but aside from Teixeira, the only cleanup hitter in the market is Jason Giambi, who would bring nothing new or exciting to the table and is 38 years old. Not a great option for the Nats if you ask me, but if they can sign him for a very cheap two year contract he may be happy and the Nats would get 30 homeruns in return. Assuming that first base is out, that leaves the outfield. I want to see a guy like Adam Dunn or Manny Ramirez in DC. Badly. The Nats need to put themselves on the map with a big name, because let’s face it, the Nats are not the Rays yet and need the kind of boost only a superstar can offer.

More to come on the Nats.

UPDATE [9:04am]: Tim Brown over at Yahoo comments on the Nationals and Manny Ramirez- “After witnessing Manny Ramirez’s impact on the Dodgers and their fans, the Washington Nationals and GM Jim Bowden are promising everyone they’re going to be players in the Manny bidding. So either they will be or they want everyone to think they are.”

Extreme Makeover: Zoo Edition

According to the Examiner our National Zoo is due for a 20 year makeover that will cost anywhere between $900 million and $1.1 billion. They will be focusing mainly on patron experience, which was certainly not amazing last time I was there. Here’s what they’ll be addressing:

  • THERE’S NOT NEARLY ENOUGH PARKING: The 20 year plan calls for a parking garage with 1,128 spaces. This will allow the zoo to transform the current 868 spaces of surface parking into new exhibits. 12 acres made up of seven new exhibits in fact.
  • GETTING AROUND THE ZOO IS VERY DIFFICULT: Zoo Executive Director John Berry compares it to “walking the stairs of a 16-story office building.” The park will be adding an aerial tram that will stretch the entire length of the park and feature three stops.
  • IT’S DIFFICULT TO FIND BENCHES, WATER, FOOD, AND RESTROOMS: This also contributes to the difficulties some people have getting around the park because it makes it tough to take a break. Park officials recognize that amenities are clustered and that the park is overall out of date. They will be building new plazas and making amenities available throughout the zoo under the new plan.

One footnote on the plan is that it will depend entirely on private donations.

Inaugural Ticket Info

preserve, protect, and defend

preserve, protect, and defend

UPDATE:  In comments, I was reminded that Tom Davis is leaving the House due to retirement, not electoral defeat.  I stand corrected!

The election is over, the winner has finally been announced (within the hour!  boy, that was a relief…but I digress).  But the plans for Inauguration 2009 have been in the works for some time.  You may have noticed the platform going up on the South Side of the Capitol building.  You may have noticed the nice, fresh, even pavement on Pennsylvania Avenue.  You may even have noticed the repainted bricks on Penna. Ave.’s many crosswalks, so that they will be nicely bright red when the parade is broadcast (now in HD!).    State societies will be just some of the myriad groups to put on their best at inaugural balls galore.  The whole city will party down!  If you haven’t been here for an Inauguration yet, you’re in for a treat (as long as you’re ready to be patient for extra security and traffic).

If you want to be a part of the festivities, you can contact your Senator(s) or House Representative to request a ticket to the swearing-in ceremony which will take place on the Capitol’s south side, at noon on January 20, 2009.  This year’s theme is “A New Birth of Freedom”, and will begin celebrations of the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President.  The folks in charge of the ceremony (the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies) have a website up, where you can learn about past inaugurations and look at photos and artifacts from ceremonies past.  The Inaugural Parade, organized by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, is a show in itself.  Will the Obamas walk as many recent presidents have done?  Or will they ride in bulletproof luxury, a la Bush 2005?  (Open cars seem to be out.)

And don’t forget, whether you’ll be partying the days and nights away in celebration, or drowning your sorrows, it will be a four-day weekend for most of us!  (January 19 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.)

Check your representative or senator’s website for details!

DC:  Eleanor Holmes Norton

MD:

Sen. Barbara Mikulksi
Sen. Benjamin Cardin

Gilchrest, Wayne T.; Maryland, 1st
Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch; Maryland, 2nd
Sarbanes, John P.; Maryland, 3rd
Edwards, Donna F.; Maryland, 4th
Hoyer, Steny H.; Maryland, 5th
Bartlett, Roscoe G.; Maryland, 6th
Cummings, Elijah E.; Maryland, 7th
Van Hollen, Chris; Maryland, 8th

VA:
Jim Moran, VA 8
Frank Wolf, VA 10
Tom Davis, VA 11 — he’s been defeated retiring and is referring requests to the new Representative, Gerry Connolly.
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