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Breakfast links: Meet the taxis


Image from Rails-to-Trails.
Meet the cabbie who bikes: One DC cab driver bicycles for personal transportation, finding it easier and cheaper to get around. She isn't aware of any other cabbies who do. She's also more respectful toward cyclists when driving. (Rails-to-Trails)

Meet Arlington's karaoke cab: Another taxi, this one in Arlington, has a karaoke machine inside it. Riders can both sing and get around at the same time. (Post)

Learn more about DC's 1st sidewalk cafe: This week, DC celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first sidewalk café. Last year, we published a detailed history of that café, at 14th and Pennsylvania, NW.

Metro social staff vs. the critics: In one corner, there's WMATA's new and growing social media team which provides valuable but often "sanitized" customer relations; in the other, a cadre of tweeters and bloggers who indiscriminately criticize everything WMATA does. Get ready for the Metro Noise War! (TBD)

Chief Lanier vs. the officers: Cathy Lanier demoted a commander who publicly criticized her about the Charlie Sheen and other police escorts. Many officers dislike yer, yet she's hugely popular with the public. And crime is down. (DCist, Post, City Paper)

Thomas' staff promises loyalty for cash: As Walmart was starting its push to come to DC, Harry Thomas, Jr.'s staff was focused on getting it to give money to Team Thomas, in exchange for a high-profile presence at an easter egg roll that would convince DC residents to support the retailer. (City Paper)

Does Ward 3 need a new school?: Mary Cheh wants another school in Ward 3, where many schools are over capacity. Richard Layman says if other wards had better schools, then Ward 3 wouldn't be full of so many out-of-boundary students. (Examiner, RPUS)

And...: New Jersey Avenue gets a very ugly black box pop-up. (In Shaw) ... Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fueled by sprawl? (Yglesias) ... Lanier may fire 7 officers who refused to take a report of an anti-gay hate crime. (Blade) ... DC's biofuel plant will be near New York Ave & Bladensburg Road. (City Paper)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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"Cathy Lanier demoted a commander who publicly criticized the Charlie Sheen and other police escorts."

Uhh, I think this is a little misleading. It makes it sound like Lanier demoted the commander for being a whistleblower. The commander didn't exactly "criticize the... police escorts," he criticized the fact that Lanier and others were saying there was an escort policy when it appears there was not.

by MLD on Aug 10, 2011 8:45 am • linkreport

MLD: I see your point. I was trying to fit a lot in 3 lines. I changed it to "critized her about the [escorts]"... is that better?

by David Alpert on Aug 10, 2011 8:52 am • linkreport

My opinion: The shame about the level of negativity that has been ascribed (often rightly so) the actions of FixWMATA and UnsuckDCMetro is that it makes it difficult for the rest of us to get a word in to WMATA about actual problems.

I worry that a complaint or comment I might tweet about now just gets lost in the miasma of negativity that's floating out there now. It seems to make it easeir for WMATA to ignore comments from customers.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Aug 10, 2011 9:35 am • linkreport

New Jersey Avenue gets a very ugly black box pop-up.

NJ Ave gets something modern. As usual, locals think it's ugly, showing yet again they're not progressive but conservative.

by Jasper on Aug 10, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

Jasper: One's opinion on the look of that building is certainly a matter of taste, but I don't think that it's fair to call out all residents of the city in the way you did.

I certainly am not a fan of the looks of that building, in that context. I don't feel it works well on that block, on that street. I'd hardly call myself conservative.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Aug 10, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

I would argue that WMATA's new-found emphasis on communications and social media is a direct response to Unsuck, the fact that #wmata is the number one hashtag in the DC twitterverse (usually in a negative context), etc. So on balance I have to think it's a positive - I would rather have lots of people holding WMATA's feet to the fire, even if sometimes too caustically (though more often than not with justification, I think), than to have it be simply ignored and allowed to deteriorate and descend further down into the death spiral.

by Dizzy on Aug 10, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

Gartner seems to have missed the point on that Ward 3 middle school story. It's ALL about Hardy. The parents of Ward 3 schools that feed to Hardy (Key, Stoddert, Mann) want a normal middle school. When they pushed for one, Rhee obliged by firing Patrick Pope, and it basically cost Fenty his job. Now rather than makeover Hardy as a normal non-arts focused middle school, Cheh is essentially saying "fine, east-of-the-park parents, keep your Hardy, we'll just form a new middle school instead."

Ultimately it would make sense to form a true magnet arts middle school in the mold of Ellington. Maybe that should be located at Hardy or maybe it should be somewhere more accessible. Cheh seems to be anticipating this change regardless and wants to make Key/Stoddert/Mann parents happy that some change is coming.

by TM on Aug 10, 2011 10:27 am • linkreport

I actually find unsuckdcmetro usually constructive and willing to retweet positive as well as negative comments on the state of the system.

FixWMATA, on the other hand, usually spends their time critiquing Metro employees' spelling abilities, taking things out of context (yesterday, they let us all know that Metro's in a "war on customers" and a "race war"), criticizing the background page on WMATA's Twitter account, etc.

Also, according to their stats, over 1/3 of the cars in the system are "hot cars", but, mysteriously, I haven't been on one this summer despite riding Metro multiple times per day.

by Corey on Aug 10, 2011 10:35 am • linkreport

I certainly am not a fan of the looks of that building, in that context. I don't feel it works well on that block, on that street. I'd hardly call myself conservative.

The original building is nothing impressive, either. On balance, I think the pop-up is an improvement and adds some character.

by JustMe on Aug 10, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

@ Geoffrey Hatchard: I'd hardly call myself conservative.

But that's the problem here in DC. All politics is done by people that call themselves democrats, indicating a progressive forward-looking attitude. However, most of DC politics is dominated by an enormous resistance to change and clinging to the good things of the past. That's not progress, that's conservation.

Please note: I am not giving any judgement on either way. I am just pointing out that the words conservative and conservation apply when people cling to the status-quo.

by Jasper on Aug 10, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

The downside of lying to the public while simultaneously enriching yourself at the public trough is that eventually your detractors stop caring about your feelings when you make even the smallest of mistakes. This is the case for any public facing organization from the beginning of time (see Enron, the Catholic Church, etc.). WMATA is no different.

If you add the paranoia and disappointment of the post civil rights era to the mix, you have a caustic environment that won't get fixed without a wholesale change in WMATA governance.

by BBbam on Aug 10, 2011 10:57 am • linkreport

Jasper: Thanks for the clarification, much appreciated.

JustMe: For what it's worth, when I was house-shopping, I looked at the small home that existed at that location, and I'll certainly agree, it was nothing to write home about. Improvement's a good thing, but I'm just not a fan of this design.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Aug 10, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

I always wondered why Lanier was so popular.

Maybe she directly benefits from the decreases in crime found in areas around the country and people credit her tenure as head of the force as the reason why crime is down. Perception maybe?

Speaking of perception, crime is still bad in DC..in fact horrible. She gets no kudos from me.

by HogWash on Aug 10, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

@Jasper:

while I'll agree to a point about people calling themselves Democrats simply to play the DC politics game, liberal, progressive and conservative have varied uses depending upon other aspects.

You do put a perjorative sense to the word conservative when you say the words conservative and conservation apply when people cling to the status-quo.

Conserving our natural resources is conservative of the resources, but progressive in the politics and actions - the point is to keep natural resources (lose as little as possible in the best environmental way), and it will take a liberation of the current politicies to progress to that goal.

Progress simply for progress is no different that conservation simply for conservation. What is the point of the progress? Who/what will benefit? Who/what will not benefit?

by greent on Aug 10, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

@ greent:Conserving our natural resources is conservative of the resources, but progressive in the politics and actions

I did not say progressives are the only ones abusing words. Conservatives do to.

by Jasper on Aug 10, 2011 11:38 am • linkreport

@Jasper: I did not say that you did.

by greent on Aug 10, 2011 11:49 am • linkreport

WMATA: A lot of organizations try to control the narrative too tightly and so people stop believing them. Then they lose not only control of the narrative, but also any respect. If you are going to have a social media presence, its better to let the critics have their say and counter it with facts, explanations and, where necessary, mea culpas.

Democracy is messier than dictatorship, but dictatorships are unstable long term, especially if there is a strong opposition. Before the web, the opposition and complaints about WMATA were disorganized. Now they are well organized, backed by facts and numbers etc. Better for WMATA to acknowledge and work with the opposition.

by SJE on Aug 10, 2011 12:14 pm • linkreport

@ greent:Progress simply for progress is no different that conservation simply for conservation.

True. But giving that virtually all progress in DC is opposed by small-minded whiners, it is not fair to say that the policies that come from that are progressive. They are conservative.

Point and case: Somebody puts a black box on their home in NJ Ave. Reaction? UGLY, it was better before. Nobody says: Oh, what a nice modern expression the current dark austerity. That would be progressive (and insane)...

by Jasper on Aug 10, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

But giving that virtually all progress in DC is opposed by small-minded whiners,
What a ridiculous thing to say. Brilliant. Milloy calls GGW types myopic twits, and GGW types fire back that those who oppose UGLY ass buildings are old whiners who need to get out of the way.

How progressively conservative of the state of civil society.

it is not fair to say that the policies that come from that are progressive. They are conservative.

No, they are more socialist or progressive than conservative. To conserve smaller buildings and set-backs is to ensure the socialist pact of sharing spaces for all, not just the newly arrived nouve rich genY "progressives".

I got it - you want everyone to be crazy....Crazy for progress only for the sake of progress and that any change is automatically progress, even though that isn't the definition of progress.

Insanity indeed. There are some who believe in the myth of progress while still believing in progress.... that rising tide do not lift all boats, that removing the height restriction WILL lead to 40 story towers of sunblocking proportions.

That building is UGLY. But opposing ugly is now conservative. It used to be called standards.

by greent on Aug 10, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

Don't mix up capital-P Progressive and capital-C Conservative with small-p progressive and small-c conservative. Those are all very different words and have very different contexts.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the local inclinations of anyone's political beliefs will vary tremendously - I know plenty of liberals (in terms of national politics) who are extremely conservative (small-c) when it comes to anything local. Likewise, I know plenty of hardcore Republican Conservatives who are quite progressive (small-p) in local issues. The difference in scale will completely shift a person's mindset. This isn't really a disconnect or an incongruity in their personal beliefs, but rather evidence that those kinds of local vs. national scales are two completely different things.

by Alex B. on Aug 10, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

I have heard that Chief Lanier is very difficult to work with, espeially when she would visit the White House for events/meetings.

by Anon on Aug 11, 2011 12:12 am • linkreport

@ greent, Alex B:I know plenty of liberals (in terms of national politics) who are extremely conservative (small-c) when it comes to anything local. Likewise, I know plenty of hardcore Republican Conservatives who are quite progressive (small-p) in local issues.

And all I want is people to acknowledge that.

by Jasper on Aug 11, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

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