Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Inauguration 2009: DC Bars Go 24/7

Inauguration week just got a bit crazier.

I heard on MSNBC today that the D.C. council has passed “emergency legislation” that will allow bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to serve alcohol to 5 A.M. The legislation will also allow these places to stay open starting Saturday January 17th until the morning after the big day- January 20th.

Personally I am very excited over the news. Councilmen that voted against in the 9-4 decision cited a suspicion that many will be drunk at 5 A.M.- and I fully agree. I do suspect that many will now be partying all night long, and I intend to be one of them.

The move clearly benefits these establishments which can now generate revue for a longer period of time, however it is a wise move to try and accommodate the big inflow of tourists that will be in town that weekend.

While I personally still don’t know how I will ring in the new President, the increased hours have enticed me to make it a weekend I won’t forget… or maybe remember…

What do you think about the new law? Good move? Bad move? Great move?

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 Park officials recognize that amenities are clustered and that the park is overall out of date.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.

Random Bag Searches on Metro

Metro’s new Red and White Signs indicating you are in a “we can look in your bags” zone.

According to The Washington Post, Metro announced it intends to conduct random bag inspections of passengers using the system.  Five to eight Metro Police officers (along with a bomb sniffing dog) are now fully trained and ready to show up and start looking in the bags of Metro Rail and Bus users.  The checks won’t happen at all stations or happen all the time but only “when transit police determine that circumstances- such as an elevated threat level- warrant heightened vigilance.”

I, for one, have some serious concerns about this program.  Truthfully, my thoughts on all security check-points can be mostly summed up by George Carlin’s discussion of “Airport Security” (Lots of foul language by the way)-but I’m not a complete idiot.  I realize that we live in a post-9/11 world and that there are people who would like to do some serious damage to our Nation’s Capitol.  But:

  • There are only eight officers ready to go.   Even assuming one officer can handle a station on their own (which is doubtful) that’s 8 rail stations/Bus stops out of…well… a whole lot more than eight (there are a 12,216 bus stops and 86 stations.  You do the math.  I can’t).  How effective could this possibly be?
  • Let’s pretend someone wanted to blow something up and they were going to use Metro to deliver their explosive device.  Let’s even pretend that Metro knows what this person wants to blow up and where they are likely to get on the train.  The real pain about Metro for these inspections?  It’s all connected.  If the target is the Pentagon and the bomber lives near me between the Airport and Pentagon City Mall-It’s just as easy to walk to Crystal City as it is the Pentagon City Metro.  It wouldn’t be much more difficult to take a bus down to Braddock Rd. and get on the train down there.  So if you’ve got eight people at the gates of even three Metro stops-they can’t get to what is already on the Metro from a point further out.
  • Inspections only concern those people who actually ride the Metro.  You can (and should be able to) refuse the bag search so long as you don’t mind not getting on the train/bus.  Well at least at that station anyway…or at least until Metro Police leave.  They won’t detain anyone who refuses a bag check either-which might come in handy if you happen to be carrying anything else that you wouldn’t want Metro to find-not necessarily just a bomb.  (You know in case you’re like me and smuggle breakfast on to the train each morning…)
  • I’m not a big believer in the 5-10 second bag search by the way.  Even at baseball games (where at least they search everyone and not just every Nth person a la the Metro system) they do this kind of half assed “make sure nothing is obvious” search.  Maybe I don’t understand the mind or a terrorist/violent person but if I’m planning on perpetrating some violence on Metro I think I would take the time to hide my bomb a bit better than to stick it at the bottom of my briefcase.
  • Inconvenience.  I’m willing to forgive a lot of things, including some hassle at the train station, if it will make DC safer for everyone.  I just don’t really think this will-so the idea of me getting stuck behind the tourist family taking 20 bags to Reagan to fly home for no good reason really…ugh.

This of course is just one view.  Maybe I’m missing something?  Agree?  Disagree?  What do you think about Metro’s new Bag Searching Policy?

SOUND-OFF: Paying DC Middle-Schoolers for Good Grades

SOUND-OFF presents a current controversy in the news, and invites you to speak your mind.

DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee

DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee

DC is one of three cities that participates in Harvard University’s experimental system called Capital Gains– the others are New York and Chicago. The controversial program allows about 3,000 DC middle school students collect up to $200 per month for good behavior, attendance, completing homework, and achieving good grades. Harvard and the DC taxpayers split the bill- $1.35 million each.

The goal of the program is to reverse the current trend in DC education- 8% of students pass math and only 12% are proficient in English. We’ll see what the results are. The first round of checks, totaling $137,813 and averaging about $43 per student, went out this week.


  • Is it right to bribe kids to do the right thing? DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee views it as “positive incentive.” She adds that there are “incentives to do all the wrong things out on the street, and we believe that having positive incentives for doing the right thing is a good counter balance to that.” Is that a valid point?
  • Is it right to isolate cities like DC for programs like this? Roland Fryer of Harvard compares the incentive based program to the idea of rich families giving their children “shiny red cars at graduation.” DC is an impoverished city in many areas, but it is one of hundreds if not thousands of towns and cities that are suffering academically. Is it okay for DC to use federal funding paid by these other towns and cities on a program like this?
  • Should the spending of the money be monitored? It is wonderful that accounts are being created at SunTrust Bank for the students in the program, and it is even better that the bank is providing free money-management training, but at the end of the day, these middle school students have cash to spend. Isn’t there a risk of some students using the money to “do all the wrong things out on the street?” Would a VISA system with statement oversight work better?


Grenade In Rock Creek Park

I have noticed that Rock Creek Park has recently finished some construction to repair some sections of parkway- now there’s a possibility there may also be a big crater in the middle of it.

I was watching the local news and there was a breaking news story on a suspicious package that could possibly be a grenade.

WJLA says that 16th Street between between Longfellow Street NW and Colorado Avenue is closed and police are on the scene.

You may want to avoid that area today.

UPDATE:The Washington Post reports that it the grenade, which was real, was taken care of by the military. Always helpful having those types of people around Washington DC for situations like this.

What a first day for biking!

Yesterday I rolled out my new electric bike for a new regimen of (fair-weather) bike commuting, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  But, what a day to choose.  It turned out that a young cyclist was struck and killed by a garbage truck in a tragic, but textbook, “right-hook” collision.  According to the Post, no charges have yet been filed, but the driver and cyclist were both identified in the paper’s coverage.  The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is having a memorial today, and hopefully the MPD will be following up as well. 

D.C. Assistant Police Chief Patrick Burke said that he used to commute to work on his bike along the street where Swanson was killed. With rising gas prices, he said he expects to see more cyclists and pedestrians in the streets.”It’s imperative that drivers are cognizant of this and that we all share the road,” Burke said.         

I’m thankful that most of my commute is trail-based – nary a garbage truck in sight.

We Love DC


Dearest Residents of Washington DC,

Hey there. What’s up?

I’m Sean. I’m not actually in Washington DC right now, but I was born in there. True story. It was awesome. Also, you guys have super cool train stations. But you knew that already I’m sure. You also may or may not know, and more importantly may or may not care, but I’m one of the dudes behind this Metblogs thing. We make local blogs and stuff. Blogging in general, and about local issues specifically is a soul sucking, thankless, monotonous, time eating profession that makes no money. But it’s awesome and we love it. Actually it’s all we know how to do, so we just keep doing it. Can you guess why I’m posting something here? Go ahead and try. Come on, there are no stupid answers, only stupid questions. Give up yet?

That’s a shame, you should never give up.

congratufuckinglations.jpgWell, if by chance you happened to read the last buncha posts here you know that many of the writers of this fine site have walked away to start their own site which is called We Love DC and can be found at the web address Didja get that? Let me link it again just to be safe: We Love DC, We Love DC, We Love DC, We Love DC, We Love DC, We Love DC. I forgot if any of them mentioned it so I figured it was worth a plug or two. Anyway, we here at corporate overlord headquarters would like to officially welcome them to the soul sucking, thankless, monotonous, time eating world of blog publishing that makes no money. It’s awesome. Really. I promise. Cross my heart. So yeah, you should check that out, it’s over at We Love DC.

On a completely unrelated note, we seem to suddenly have some soul sucking, thankless, monotonous, time eating blogging positions that pay no money open right here at DC Metblogs. Have I made this sound awesome enough yet. Have I mentioned it’s awesome? Because if not I should do that. Additionally we’re about as hands off as it gets here. We ask that if you write something for the site it somehow relates to DC, but otherwise you can do whatever the hell you want. I guess I should also mention we’ve got a bunch of readers from all around the world who might check out your stuff too which is kinda cool. If you are into that. Or not. Whatever. I guess that assuming you don’t suck, because if you suck they won’t read your stuff no matter what. Anyway, I know I’m quite the salesman and by now you must be scratching at your computer screen trying to physically claw your way into this site, but trust me, that won’t work. What will work is if you post a comment and let me know you’d like to give this a try. Then I can hook it up for you. That’s right, I’ll hook it up for you. Because you are that important.

Smooches. From me, to you.

PS – We Love DC!

Good Night MBDC, And Good Luck

Four years ago, I took the reins of a brand new fledgling city blog. In that time, I’ve come to meet a whole host of awesome people, written a whole lot about DC, and gotten to love the city I once was ready to leave, having shaken the dirt from my feet in disgust. I’ve made some incredible friends while blogging here, and learned a lot about how to run a blog, and how not to run one. Where am I going? No, I’m not leaving DC, and I’m not leaving the blogging world either. I’m leaving Metroblogging to strike out on my own. My new project is called We Love DC, and will feature many of the writers you know and love from this site, in a new format.

Thanks also to all those who’ve written here these last four years. Thanks to those who’ve commented here and made it a community all its own. Thanks to all the other captains in all the other cities I’ve gotten to know.

Now, though, it is time to move on from Metroblogging and to let this canvas be writ anew. I have nothing but thanks for Sean Bonner for creating this network, to Jason Defillippo for his incredible coding skills, to Mack Reed for wrangling the Captains and keeping them fed and happy, and to Richard Ault for making the deals that keep the network running smooth. You guys have done amazing things, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see fruits of your work.

Good night, Metblogs DC, and Good Luck.


Fireworks #1 — Originally Uploaded by Camera Slayer

Mysterious Package @ 18th and Pennsylvania Ave.

Street traffic is cordoned off and pedestrians are being kept away. The World Bank and surrounding facilities have instituted a “shelter in place” policy. It seems to be centered around the Edward R. Murrow Park across from the World Bank. Traffic is diverted down 19th and 17th, no cross traffic down I or Pennsylvania or up 18th is moving. Please avoid the area.

Tim Russert’s funeral service at the Kennedy Center

Photo courtesy of hykuIf, like our Mr Bridge, you’re a fan of the late Mr Russert, you might be interested in WAMU’s live coverage of his funeral service today at the Kennedy Center. If you’re one of the 8 people in the country with an HD radio you can turn into HD-3 on 88.5 FM. If you’re one of the rest of us, WAMU streams all three stations online and you can find links here. The funeral service will be at 4pm this afternoon.

Tim Russert – PRSA International Conference – Philadelphia, PA, courtesy of hyku

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