Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Going in and out of Metro


Photo by ElvertBarnes on Flickr.
McDonnell appoints Dyke to WMATA Board: Governor McDonnell wants to appoint Jim Dyke, who chaired the Board of Trade and its WMATA governance task force last year, to the WMATA Board. Dyke would be paid far more than other Virginia members, and some officials dispute the legality of the move. (Post, Examiner)

Pusher not a Metrobus driver any more: The bus driver who pushed a (drunk or high) passenger off a Metrobus "no longer works for Metro." WMATA did not release any further detail. (Examiner)

Wells defends anti-harassment bill : Tommy Wells defends his support for WABA's bicycle anti-harassment bill to a skeptical Fox 5 anchor.

More push for ethics: Kwame Brown defended his ethics on several media appearances last week while he tried to talk about other subjects. (Huffington Post) ... Prince George's councilmembers introduce their own ethics bill. (Examiner)

Big brother MPD isn't watching you: An Urban Institute report finds DC's street camera surveillance is less effective than Baltimore and Chicago. Cameras are not always monitored live and concerns about misuse and privacy violations before their citywide installation in 2006 limited their effectiveness. (Washington Times)

65 years ago, parking was also a challenge: Parking in DC was hard even in 1946. Ideas for solving it included bridging the Potomac with parking or allocating all public open space to parking. (TBD)

Who said ANCs are always anti?: The Dupont Circle ANC unanimously supported the 17th and O apartment proposal. Some neighbors fear the building might draw students and traffic. (Borderstan)

And...: A plan for the McMillan Sand Filtration Site hits the street as some get a tour. (City Paper, Park View DC) ... Unemplyment rises in DC, MD, and VA (Post) ... Montgomery County celebrates its 235th birthday. (Post)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. 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 now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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I am confused. GGW said that Gov. McDonnel would appoint Thelma Drake or some other Republican hack to the WMATA board slot. Instead, it picks a serious, local, member who doesn't seem wedded to a political party. You may not like the President of the Board of Trade, but he seems, well, far more local than, say, the editors of GGW. Why not admit you were wrong, and McDonnel made a decent choice?

The ANC process worked fine in the proposed condo building. Also why not admit that?

Shame a metro bus rider got fired for making life a bit better for other riders.

by charlie on Sep 19, 2011 9:00 am • linkreport

Re: the 17th and O developement and the ANC. The ANC was orginally asking (via its resolution) that more affordable housing for families in the way of larger units be provided, but 2 ANC commissioners insisted that clause be removed because they preferred to see more efficiences there for the 'just out of college crowd'. As one ANC commissioner put it "I couldn't have afforded a 1 bedroom when I first got out of college, but I could have afforded to buy an efficiency if I'd wanted to". Me thinks I'd rather see more affordable housing for familes so that we have a more diverse group here than just ensuring that the just out of college group can buy something in this expensive neighborhood. But on the threat of crying 'discriminiation' by these two commissioners, the ANC unfortunately remained silent on this issue in the resolution it passed.

by Lance on Sep 19, 2011 9:20 am • linkreport

charlie: Who's this "GGW" that said something?

I said it would be Drake because the law requires board members to be members of NVTC, and the only NVTC member picked by the governor is the head of DRPT. I think this is one of the murky legal questions that the Examiner article talks about.

However, I was wrong that he would pick Drake. I don't see how that means this is a decent choice, however.

And what in the world are you talking about concerning 17th and O? The articles on it, by both Adam Lewis and myself, praised the project and now I praised the ANC vote.

by David Alpert on Sep 19, 2011 9:46 am • linkreport

The obvious question: does Dyke use Metrorail or Metrobus?

Legal murkiness aside, at least the Governor picked somebody local instead of Drake, who's from Virginia Beach.

by Froggie on Sep 19, 2011 10:06 am • linkreport

@Dave; fair on the 17th and O project. I thought the original articles on it were a bit over the top, as it was clear the project had significant support from the local ANCs.

IN terms of the Drake decision, what was very clear that if the Governor got his way, he would replace Drake on the NVTC board with the new designee and that person would them serve on the WMATA board.

I can understand that the RAC felt froze out by Board of Trade in terms of recommendations last year on WMATA reform. Perhaps it would have been better to have someone more versed in transit. Those are real issues.

As I said throughout this mini debate, I don't like McDonnell. He is just creepy. But it is also clear that the Governor of Virginia should have the ability to appoint a direct representative on the WMATA board, and the arguments against that were weak sauce. Key test: If this was Governor Warner asking the same thing, would you see the same noise?

by charlie on Sep 19, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

charlie: I said Maryland should have more elected officials instead of the current system of people picked by the governor, and there's a Democratic governor in Maryland.

by David Alpert on Sep 19, 2011 10:27 am • linkreport

I'm glad the Governor appoints WMATA's members from Maryland. Imagine the opportunity foir mischief if Jack Johnson had appointed a board member. His WSSC appointments were bad enough.

Tommy Wells is a great friend of biking and walking. I think he would be more effective on these live TV interviews if we would start by folding a direct answer to question into whatever larger point he is trying to make. It's ok to acknowledge that Fox's questions may be motivated by valid concerns--especially if the goal is to persaude people. And there are good answers to Fox's questions about why lawsuits are part of the answer, and whether one needs to put an end to queue-jumping scofflaw cycling before protecting the victims of violence.

by Jim T on Sep 19, 2011 10:40 am • linkreport

The new plan for the McMillan site is very solid. Are they really planning to build a Victorian row for the residential portion?

If so, that'd certainly be awesome...

My one complaint is that they're not maintaining continuity with the street grid in Stronghold. (Speaking of which, I really like that neighborhood's old name: Metropolis View)

by andrew on Sep 19, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

But it is also clear that the Governor of Virginia should have the ability to appoint a direct representative on the WMATA board, and the arguments against that were weak sauce.

Why shouldn't decisions about local transit be made by local government? NoVa pays far more to the state than it receives back, so the least Richmond could do is allow NoVa to have control over the funding they do receive from the state.

by Falls Church on Sep 19, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

We're so easily fooled. In this case, by the cameras and their promise of safety. Every time a crime is committed in my area, someone invariably pipes up, "Check the video!" and we all feel reassured. For 15 minutes. Then the answer from the police comes back - video not conclusive. I think this was a way perhaps for someone to make some money and some others to get some votes. And to falsely reassure the populace. In some cases, apartment buildings put up cameras without even telling the residents. And then when a crime happens, the slowness, torpor and the dullness of response is amazing. No one really ever wants to check the cameras for some incredible reason.

Cameras have let a lot of people become a lot less effective at their jobs. (I'm talking about DC. Maybe in the suburbs it is different. I have a feeling that the police have certain cameras that they do their utmost to make sure are producing a clear picture, and the rest, eh.)

by Jazzy on Sep 19, 2011 11:12 am • linkreport

The infrequent/ineffective use of cameras clearly isn't stopping the city from installing more of them. If you look at the light-poles in the new Georgetown Waterfront park (and the existing section) you'll see them littered throughout. They're small & inconspicuous but I counted a number of them while walking around the yesterday. They mostly seem to be pointing at the murals/sculptures.

by Bilsko on Sep 19, 2011 12:42 pm • linkreport

Falls Church - Why is OK for Maryland to have a state seat on WMATA, but not Virginia? The Commonwealth is sending cash to WMATA, so shouldn't it have a voice at the table? And the Washington suburbs likely generate much of the Maryland funds, so it's not much different than Virginia.

Finally, the local representatives from Virginia have done a terrible job of oversight. WMATA has had severe management problems for many years and Fairfax County citizen groups have complained to the BoS about its lack of oversight over WMATA, complaints which have fallen on deaf ears until very recently. WMATA's labor agreements are out of sync with reality and the organization simply cannot manage outside contractors. Remember how the parking lot contractors employees stole millions? Remember how the Commonwealth refused to allow WMATA to oversee the construction of Dulles Rail? Where were the Fairfax supervisors? Asleep at the switch.

If we are to have local oversight, NoVA voters should elect WMATA board members.

by tmtfairfax on Sep 19, 2011 12:43 pm • linkreport

Tmtfairfax -- while I wouldn't support the state gov't having a seat if I lived in MD, I can understand if folks in places like PG lack trust in their local government because of the corruption scandals. I wouldn't say Fairfax/Arlington are similarly afflicted by a long shot.

While it's technically true that the Commonwealth writes a check to WMATA, that's really just NoVa's money coming back to them (minus the funds the Commonwealth keeps to redistribute to places like SW VA).

I'd agree that the local representatives have done a terrible job of overseeing WMATA but I don't agree with trying to fix a temporary problem by wresting a portion of local control away permanently. The only thing I could agree with is the Commonwealth setting some performance metrics and saying that they get a seat on WMATA until performance meets targets. Kind of like how the federal government took over District finances for a while.

by Falls Church on Sep 19, 2011 1:29 pm • linkreport

tmt wrote: WMATA has had severe management problems for many years and Fairfax County citizen groups have complained to the BoS about its lack of oversight over WMATA, complaints which have fallen on deaf ears until very recently.

Which is interesting considering the Fairfax Board of Supervisors has had one of their own on the WMATA Board for over 3 years.

Meanwhile, I disagree with the notion of having local voters voting for the board members. Using the Mississippi Transportation Commission as an example, that's a sure-fire way to have politics even more embroiled into the subject than it already is. The same would happen in NoVA, especially since there are more jurisdictions than there are WMATA board seats allocated to Northern Virginia.

by Froggie on Sep 19, 2011 1:40 pm • linkreport

I see adding seats for Virginia and Maryland as adding a form of check and balance to the WMATA board. Any time an entity can spend public funds that include tax dollars, there needs to be substantial transparency and oversight, either by officials directly elected by the public or appointed from/by elected officials. Neither MWAA nor WMATA have adequate oversight and transparency. Both should be subject to Virginia's (et al) open meeting and FOIA acts.

Having testified numerous times to the Fairfax County BoS, I can safely say the supervisors have not given deep oversight to spending until the recent economic troubles hit home. Now, with the likely exception of Cathy Hudgins, all of the supervisors are frugal.

I think that many elected officials in NoVA are reasonably honest except when it comes to real estate development. Fairfax County trails its neighbors in obtaining adequate cash proffers from development, sold out county residents and businesses by agreeing to the 4th Tysons rail station in front of Gerry Connolly's then employer (SAIC), closed their eyes to the failure of Dulles Transit Partners to put any of their money into Dulles Rail (unlike HOT Lanes), sold out DTR commuters by accepting unaffordable construction costs for rail, etc. The BoS has also refused to deal with a plan to fund the $1.5 in additional road capacity for Tysons or even discuss the need to widen the Dulles Toll Road by as many as 3-to-5 lanes. The board would have given the Tysons landowners even more unsustainable density if it were not for the 527 Traffic Impact Analysis process.

I don't mind having someone appointed by the State under these circumstances.

by tmtfairfax on Sep 19, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

The infrequent/ineffective use of cameras clearly isn't stopping the city from installing more of them. If you look at the light-poles in the new Georgetown Waterfront park (and the existing section) you'll see them littered throughout. They're small & inconspicuous but I counted a number of them while walking around the yesterday. They mostly seem to be pointing at the murals/sculptures.
by Bilsko on Sep 19, 2011 12:42 pm

The stupidity and negligence continue then. "Littered" is right.

Why can't we have sentient leaders???

by Jazzy on Sep 19, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

I'd like to know more about the "pusher." If the WMATA is firing people, I'd put those involved in accidents ahead of those who protect passengers.

by SJE on Sep 19, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

If the Georgetown Waterfront Park is in fact "littered" with CCTV cameras, you can't blame DC for it. It's a Park Service property.

by Paul on Sep 19, 2011 3:43 pm • linkreport

Dyke is a decent choice at worst.

by WRD on Sep 19, 2011 11:05 pm • linkreport

"I'd like to know more about the "pusher." If the WMATA is firing people, I'd put those involved in accidents ahead of those who protect passengers. "

Me too, but this cannot be a termination - this is way to fast to have worked its way all the way through the Union.. isn't it?

And I agree, protecting himself and passengers should get praise, not termination.

by greent on Sep 20, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

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