Archive for the ‘The District’ Category

Today’s Blatant Opinion Piece: Fannie Mae’s Impact On DC

To the public, major mortgage companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had mixed records. On one hand, the past few months have been marred with reports that reckless lending to unqualified borrowers has left the company in shambles, with all borrowers and investors affected.

And on the other hand, Washington, DC knows first hand that the mortgagors were involved in a great deal of charity work, perhaps despite their inability to afford it in the last couple months. According to an NBC 4 story, the women’s homeless shelter N Street Village is now worried that their donations could end now that their biggest supporter, Fannie Mae, is controlled by the federal government.

Their concerns are legitimate. The federal government has already said that the investors are out of luck, that dividends will no longer be paid, so where is room for charity? Maybe the Feds will feel bad and put N Street Village on “welfare.” But it is a real shame that the government did not let events with Fannie Mae play out.

Without a government takeover of Fannie Mae, the company would have been forced to make some really difficult decisions- they would have had no choice but to slash their mortgage load to disinclude unqualified borrowers. They would have had no choice but to tell the world that borrowing does not make you rich enough to buy a McMansion, it makes you poorer.

If unable to fix their horrendous business mistakes, they would have gone out of business, and new entrepreneurs would have filled their gap in the market, likely with a better game plan, and the need to reach out to the community with charity like Fannie Mae.

But instead, look what has happened. Our federal government has grown by leaps and bounds, with mortgaging soon to be as poorly run as DMV. Instead, every charity that Fannie Mae supported may be out of luck. And instead, all the taxpayers and not the businessmen at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will be financially responsible for almost $5 trillion in faulty mortgages.

9/12 In DC: Sketchy Packages, Metro Delays, Education Spending

  • This morning the busy Orange and Blue lines were shut down for more than an hour and a half after a suspicious package was reported to Metro officials. Though the all-clear was given at 7am, delays have persisted throughout the day.
  • Expect delays on the Metro system to only become more numerous this weekend, as the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River will be closed for inspection and maintenance. Though all riders are encouraged by Metro to use Blue Line and the fancy extra trains it has been given to handle the demand, Yellow Line will be available throughout the weekend to handle local traffic from Huntington to Arlington Cemetery.
  • Mayor Adrian Fenty just unveiled a new $1.3 billion dollar plan to upgrade DC’s schools. The plan is aimed at improving natural lighting, air quality, and acoustics. Since that costs more than a billion dollars to do. “Researchers” say that the improvements could lift test scores, I say that the $1.3 billion dollars would be better spent trying to increase DC’s appalling! 56% graduation rate.

Eating Out: The Good Stuff Eatery

An occasional series where my friends and I go out to eat. And then tell you about it.

Outside The Good Stuff Eatery on Friday night

At the urging of a friend from school, we ventured to Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn’s new restaurant on Capitol Hill: The Good Stuff Eatery on Friday night. As yet another entry in the DC burger scene (recently chronicled by the Post’s Tim Carman), I found myself wondering if a celebrity like Chef Spike could move product. The answer, as proven by the crowds on the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Ave. SE, is unquestionably “yes.”

Full review after the jump.

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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.

Five Line Flush

DSC_1124

First off, if you’re a Nats fan headed to the game with the Orioles on Sunday, good luck. You’re hosed.

Heads up to everyone travelling across the District this weekend: every single Metro line is seeing major track work and rail testing from Friday night through early Monday morning.

Blue Line
Sad to say, this one’s been hit the worst. First, customers traveling between the Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street Metrorail stations should add up to 30 minutes of travel time for their trips because of track maintenance. Inbound and outbound trains between these locations will share one track from 10 p.m. to closing (3 a.m.), Friday, June 27, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday, June 28, 10 p.m. to closing (3 a.m.), Saturday, June 28, and 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., Sunday, June 29.

Additionally, if you’re traveling between the Pentagon City and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Metrorail stations, you should add 15 minutes of travel time for your trips because of track maintenance. Inbound and outbound trains will share one track between these locations from 10 p.m. to closing (midnight), Sunday, June 29.

Yellow Line
You get to piggy-back on the Blue Line’s woes. See above for sharing issues between Pentagon City and Reagan National.

Orange Line
Riders traveling between the Stadium-Armory and Cheverly Metrorail stations should add up to 20 minutes of travel time for their trips because of bridge repairs. Inbound and outbound trains between these locations will share one track from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 28.

Green Line
If you’re traveling between the Greenbelt and College Park Metrorail stations, add 15 minutes of travel time for your trips because of rail car testing. Inbound and outbound trains will share one track between these locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, June 28.

Red Line
And finally, riders traveling between the Friendship Heights and Medical Center Metrorail stations should add 15 minutes of travel time for their trips because of track maintenance. Inbound and outbound trains will share one track between these locations from 9 p.m. to closing (midnight), Sunday, June 29.

Mayor Fenty Speaks

fenty.jpg Mayor Fenty, Interim Attorney General Nickles and Chief of Police Lanier are starting their press conference momentarily on the steps of the Wilson Building downtown. WTOP Radio (103.5FM/1500AM) will be broadcasting the event live, and we’ll have a liveblog going here.

Mayor Fenty is speaking now: He’s welcoming everyone, including Chief Lanier and AG Nickles, and several of the City Council.

“Unfortunately and disappointedly, the Supreme Court did not hold up the three-decade old ban.”

Mayor Fenty has directed the Police Department to begin an orderly process for licensing handguns to citizens for home defense. Before you may lawfully possess a firearm, handgun or not, it must be licensed.

There must be a process within 21 days to register new handguns. During that time, the old law remains in effect. You MAY NOT POSSESS A HANDGUN INSIDE YOUR HOME at this time.

The City Council will be working with the Mayor to create effective regulations for storing firearms in your home.

It seems to have been a pretty short event, as WTOP has now cut away.

Mayor Fenty on U St – Originally Uploaded by DCMatt

Supreme Court Strikes Down Handgun Ban

DesertEagle The Supreme Court has upheld the opinion of the DC Circuit Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruling that DC’s ban on handguns is unconstitutional. Specifically, it is the opinion of the court that there is an individual right accorded by the 2nd amendment, not to be infringed upon by any act of the legislature. In addition, it is the opinion of the court that the ban on storing shotguns and rifles in a disassembled or trigger-locked state is also unconstitutional.

There will be a response from the city shortly.

You can read the Opinion written by Justice Scalia. The Dissenting Opinions are after the Majority Opinion, beginning on page 68 and 114. The big quote from syllabus is this one, which affirms that citizens have a constitutionally endowed right to own a firearm:

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

In addition, it is not a blanket right without exception:

The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of fire-arms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

So don’t go thinking you’ll be able to buy a tommy gun or a bazooka for use as part of some wacky and bizarre home defense plan. Do, however, pay close attention to the section on trigger locks and disassembly requirements, which were also ruled as unconstitutional:

The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense…Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.

There’s going to be a lot to think about in the next few days.

Desert Eagle .44 – originally uploaded by Barjack

I will miss you, Tim Russert

TimRussert.jpg Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Meet The Press, died this afternoon of a heart attack. He was 58.

Russert’s one of the reasons I felt okay moving to DC. I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, almost the entirety of it taken through political philosophy and international relations theory. I couldn’t stand the idea of wasting my time in a class where all I learned how to do was posture and bullshit, and so I stayed away from the American Government classes at Denison. I know there’s a whole dark art to the way Congress works, and I know there’s an acceptance of that that has to happen in order to work here.

But Russert didn’t care about the posturing part. He pressed on with questions when he didn’t like the answer he got. He was a real pest that way, and I remember a number of Sunday mornings when it was clear he took a bit of relish in needling the politician on the other side of his desk.

I remember the 2000 elections and Tim had his whiteboard out and was doing all kinds of electoral math that made everyone else he talked to that night look like an absolute simpleton. He was the only one who really got it. It’s why that whiteboard is sitting now in the Smithsonian.

Thank you, Tim. I will miss you immensely.

"Friendly" My Ass

Just when I think DC Cabbies have cornered the market on assholatry, I meet somebody like this Friendly cab. Coming home from an install tonight, I watched as this guy leaned on his horn when the car in front of me took the merge on to the on-ramp of I-66 at a speed that was not to his satisfaction, only to swerve across a lane of traffic to build up speed to cut him off (passing both of us in the meanwhile) and giving us the finger.

Wow. I guess Arlington “Friendly” Cabs aren’t quite as friendly as we’d all like to think.

"Friendly" my ass. — Originally uploaded by tbridge

Recycling does not mean efficiency

The all-staff email went out last week: “We recently learned that the DC Government is now enforcing its recycling regulations. Inspectors are making unannounced inspections and issuing warnings for failure to recycle. Second violations are subject to fines. As we know, the DC government is in need of funds so we can expect enforcement to be serious…”

Since I work on our website and just don’t generate much paper waste, I made mental note of what common items in my cube would go into which containers (soda cans mostly, like any self-respecting geek), assumed that the promised at-desk recycling boxes would once again not make it to me, and didn’t think about it again.

Until yesterday, that is. Our Vice President of Facilities and Property came to my cube around 4:30 yesterday, and said, “Hi Tiffany, how’s your trash?”

“Um, empty, mostly…” I pulled my trash can out, displaying the two items inside: a used sub shop napkin and a square of paper.

“What’s THAT?” she said, indicating the non-napkin item.

“Oh, it’s a page from this calendar here,” I indicated my Page-A-Day calendar. Coated paper, questionably recyclable.

“Okay, great.” She walked away.

And then I noticed the email she had sent shortly before- a DC Recycling Inspector was going to be visiting our building the next day and would be issuing fines for any violations.

Let me clarify- an employee of the DC government, paid by tax dollars, would be entering our office for the purpose of poking at our trash cans. And let’s not pretend this is about the environment: the inspector could fine us for throwing away recyclable material, but at the end of the complex list of what is and is not appropriate in recycle bins, DC admonishes us “WHEN IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT.”

But that’s how it came to pass that this very morning, before the arrival of the inspector, the Senior Director of my division came around to each individual member of our department, and delivered a perfunctory speech about how our organization takes recycling very seriously both for environmental and fine-avoidance reasons, and that complying with company procedures is the responsibility of every employee.

I’m so delighted that commitment to efficient stewardship of our resources extends to how DC businesses must spend the time of their well-compensated executives.

If you were wondering, we passed our recycling inspection perfectly. In fact, only one tenant in th building was fined for recycling violations- an office of the DC Government.

The Goddess of Recycling

Originally uploaded by His and Hers Parigi

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