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Breakfast links: Less of a benefit


Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
Transit benefit going down: As feared, transit benefits will shrink next year. Drivers, meanwhile, get slightly more parking benefits. (Streetsblog)

Breakdown strands passengers: A brake compo­nent fell off a Metro train yesterday, stranding 300 for 3 hours. There were no injuries, but passengers complain of poor communication. (WUSA9)

Apartments held up by Metro: A Shaw church sold a small bit of air rights to WMATA in the 1960s for a "token fee." Now they have to pay more to get it back because FTA rules require WMATA to seek "fair market value." (DCmud)

Ethics bill passes: The DC Council approved new ethics legislation to will strengthen financial disclosure requirements and cut but not eliminate constituent service funds. Tommy Wells, the lone vote against, felt the bill didn't go far enough. (Post)

New bike lanes scarce: DDOT installed less than a mile of bike lanes in 2011. DDOT is falling far short of its goal of 10 miles a year. (WABA)

Old Jeff Davis gets fixes, new name: Old Jefferson Davis Highway will see major improvements in 2012, including sidewalks, bike lanes, and trees. It will also get a new name: Long Bridge Drive. (ARLnow)

Make it safe to bike to Target: Fairfax is studying fixes to the Route 1 corridor. GGW contributor Froggie says he'd rather bike to Potomac Yard than the closer Beacon Hill Target because of poor bicycle facilities. (Patch)

Bus isn't really cheaper than Silver Line: Loudoun is considering pulling out of the Silver Line. They'd save hundreds of millions, but if they built a BRT system to connect to Metro, they wouldn't save much at all. (Examiner)

And...: WMATA tops DC's Google searches; SEPTA is #6. (HuffPo) ... DC encourages university employees to live near work. (RPUS) ... Ride On adds green buses. (Examiner) ... Mary Cheh gives bicycle-themed gifts to her fellow councilmembers.

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

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All hail the Councilmartyr! NOT getting things done since 2006!

by Left4Dead on Dec 21, 2011 9:17 am • linkreport

A Shaw church sold a small bit of air rights to WMATA in the 1960s for a "token fee." Now they have to pay more to get it back because FTA rules require WMATA to seek "fair market value.

Maybe you're trying to make a point here, but federal regulations require that property or land that is obtained with federal funds be sold for FMV, as the federal government obtains a permenant interest in the funds after they are used to purchase. It's intended to prevent abuse and ensure that federal funds are not misused for local or private gain. This is a common rule across ALL federal government agencies, not just FTA.

(Also, swap out 'church' for Douglas Development Corporation, and somehow I feel like this wouldn't have made it in the links.

by asd on Dec 21, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

Way to bury the lede, Steven and David. Metro employees disregard warnings of passengers and crash a train into debris. Horrified passengers on disabled train are not told of anything for half an hour. And those who evacuate at L'Enfant Plaza are forced to pay fares, even though trip is not completed.

There is no question in my mind that's exactly the way these clowns would respond to an attack by terrorists or a deranged gunman. Time after time, incidents and accidents take place and passengers are told nothing.

As to what will happen in light of yesterday's mess, we've seen this dance before. Colby King calls it the DC Shuffle. There will be a study and a report. No employees will be reprimanded or fired; the union will see to that. Administrators will cover their rear ends. And GGW will continue to ignore the problems and fawn over Metro. The dog barks, and the caravan moves on. We might even have fun contests naming the Purple Line stations!

Metro is neither safe nor dependable. It does not even tell people in the midst of accidents, fires, and possible explosions what's going on. That is totally unacceptable to me, but doesn't seem to even register on this blog.

Doesn't anyone here care? Beuller? Beuller?

by Mike S. on Dec 21, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

According to the presentation made yesterday at the Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee Meeting (see http://www.metwashairports.com/file/BRT_Concept_for_Loudoun_County_Portion.pdf), the savings would be about $215 million to $260 million if they went with BRT. Given that Loudoun County is only putting in about $300 million, the savings are probably big to them. Of course, they completely eliminate their contribution if they just eliminated those last 2 stations and not replace it with something else.

by Mario on Dec 21, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

Re: Bike Lanes

Not only is DDOT failing to come anywhere close to bike lane construction goals, they've failed to make good on their promise to develop the most impactful bike facility under consideration: the L and M cycletracks. These were promised for Spring 2011 and now it's almost 2012 and there's been no sign of them.

The Gray Administration's performance on bike lanes is simply unacceptable.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

Excellent & accurate comments by MIKE S. above. This website will never have a positive effect on METRO until it becomes less a cheerleader and more of a critic. WMATA is a disgrace...and has been for years...time to face up to that. Mike's scenario is right on target. Thank you for such an effectively written posting.

by Pelham1861 on Dec 21, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

Bravo to Loudon County! About time someone showed some common sense about the Silver Line. They will lose two stations that would likely rarely be used and get themselves a better transit system...excellent trade off!

by Pelham1861 on Dec 21, 2011 10:18 am • linkreport

Way to go Tommy Wells. Cast the lone vote against ethics legislation because it didn't go far enough. How brave. How upstanding. How common! This is why many of us see him as a joke and likely correctly assume he's a grandstander.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

Good news on the transit subsidy being cut. A win for common sense and taxpayers. If mass transit is not attractive enough without a subsidy than it was not worth it in the first place. And in reality, people will continue to 'ride' or 'drive' just as they did before. This is not the end of the world unless you are of a mindset that 'governments' actually have 'money'. They don't. It belongs to taxpayers not blog owners or social experimenters.

by Pelham1861 on Dec 21, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

According to the presentation made yesterday at the Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee Meeting (see http://www.metwashairports.com/file/BRT_Concept_for_Loudoun_County_Portion.pdf), the savings would be about $215 million to $260 million if they went with BRT. Given that Loudoun County is only putting in about $300 million, the savings are probably big to them.

What that presentation doesn't make clear is how much of the savings would go to Loudon and how much of the cost of BRT Loudoun would bear. If they have to bear all the costs of BRT, then they pay $270-$315M for BRT and eliminate the need to contribute $300M toward the $530M cost of the Silver Line's Loudoun portion. Hence, no savings to Loudoun.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

Good riddance to Loudoun! I see no reason why Metro should be providing service to glorified cow pastures in the middle of nowhere. Loudoun was contributing a mere 5% of the funding to the project anyway.

by Allen on Dec 21, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

I agree with Pelham1861. Funding transit is a black hole and is just done to assuage the collectivist sympathies of liberals and the Democrat party. If people want to drive, pay them to do so. It's the free market way to handle the issue. Check out the blog "New Geography" for important information from Joel Kotkin and Randal O'Toole about the need to invest in our suburban driving infrastructure.

by AndySJ on Dec 21, 2011 10:29 am • linkreport

Falls Church, Loudoun would also save money each year by not having to contribute to WMATA's operating subsidies. With WMATA being one of the worst-managed agencies in the U.S. year after year, those savings are not small. On the other hand, the County would likely incur operating costs for BRT. I suspect that, over time, Loudoun taxpayers will be better off not building heavy rail.

by tmtfairfax on Dec 21, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

Good news on the transit subsidy being cut.

I have a suggestion to GGW contributors on this issue. From now on, only refer to it as "transit subsidy set to become half of parking subsidy." That is, the headline should always be transit's subsidy in relation to parking's subsidy rather than a reference to the absolute level (since the relation between the two, not the absolute level, is what matters).

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

@MikeS, Way to bury the lede, Steven and David. Metro employees disregard warnings of passengers and crash a train into debris. Horrified passengers on disabled train are not told of anything for half an hour. And those who evacuate at L'Enfant Plaza are forced to pay fares, even though trip is not completed.

Hunh? Did you happen to read the blurb, A brake compo­nent fell off a Metro train yesterday, stranding 300 for 3 hours. There were no injuries, but passengers complain of poor communication....?

It said, some shiggity happened on metro yday and 300 passengers were stranded for 3 hours. No one was hurt but passengers surely complained about poor communication.

I'm not sure how that's different from what you posted.

Maybe you prefered something like "Metro *cked it up again! A train was stalled and the dumb employees didn't tell "horrified" riders until after 30-g'damn minutes. It's why WMATA can't earn or deserve respect!!!

Sounds a bit over the top but I guess.

Really though, the idea that GGW is a WMATA cheerleader is as fanciful as the idea that it is a Tommy Wells critic. Let's be realistic (and fair) here.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 10:33 am • linkreport

On the other hand, the County would likely incur operating costs for BRT. I suspect that, over time, Loudoun taxpayers will be better off not building heavy rail.

If BRT becomes too expensive we Loudouners can simply convert it to regular roads so that people can use their own cars on it, which would be preferable anyway, since there's less government involvement that way. BRT is very flexible that way, unlike rail, where you're stuck with it!

by JimT on Dec 21, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

I suspect that, over time, Loudoun taxpayers will be better off not building heavy rail.

Do you think the property value boost to Loudoun land from BRT will be the similar to the boost from heavy rail? Past experience in other place suggests that won't be the case. If that's not the case, Loudoun would likely come out worse by going with BRT over heavy rail.

Good riddance to Loudoun! I see no reason why Metro should be providing service to glorified cow pastures in the middle of nowhere.

Because the business case for the Silver Line lies mostly with transforming Tysons, adding 100K jobs and 200K residents to Tysons, and increasing property values in Tysons by $5B. Those numbers are in jeopardy if Tysons has fewer employees taking transit in and fewer residents taking transit out.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 10:38 am • linkreport

@Pelham, the transit subsidy benefits many in the area's largest employer - the federal gov't. So yeah, the recent college grad (GS 8) living in VA might just benefit from havnig his transit subsidized. He too, is a common sense taxpayer just like you. And no, people won't continue to ride as they have before, especially if they don't have the funds to do so.

@AndySJ, Funding transit is a black hole and is just done to assuage the collectivist sympathies of liberals and the Democrat party.

You don't say? Last I checked I haven't witnessed any stories of republicans not independents refusing their gov't provided transit subsidy. Since when did that become an ideological issue??

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 10:39 am • linkreport

@Pelham1861 you are forgetting that the money given to people who park will remain. Companies can pay for parking or give money to employees tax free up to the $240 / month limit.

This benefit covers the cost of parking downtown. If the limit on parking was lowered, the daily cost of parking would go down for everybody.

If parking downtown is not attractive enough without a subsidy than it was not worth it in the first place.

by mhoran on Dec 21, 2011 10:40 am • linkreport

Funding transit is a black hole and is just done to assuage the collectivist sympathies of liberals and the Democrat party.

It's comments like this "gem" that make it hard for me to take conservatives seriously anymore. And Randy O'Toole and Kotkin...please. This is a DC oriented urbanist blog and I doubt if you'll find many fans of the sprawl kings themselves here. I'm sure your solutions involve redoubling our sprawl building and plunking down a thousand or so new highway miles in the DC area.

by Gerri on Dec 21, 2011 10:41 am • linkreport

If Loudoun wants out of the Silver Line extension, I'm thinking, "good riddance." Not only does it mean one less jurisdictional complexity, but gives the Silver Line an easy named terminus at IAD, avoids saddling WMATA with additional miles of exurban track that they're unlikely to be prepared to adequately maintain, and simplifies questions of fare structure for IAD Metro passengers. And we can turn transit attention to better serving/concentrating growth in the metropolitan core rather than trying to offer urban services along a single narrow corridor 30 miles from downtown and 15 miles beyond Tysons Corner.

by Arl Fan on Dec 21, 2011 10:42 am • linkreport

Because the business case for the Silver Line lies mostly with transforming Tysons, adding 100K jobs and 200K residents to Tysons, and increasing property values in Tysons by $5B. Those numbers are in jeopardy if Tysons has fewer employees taking transit in and fewer residents taking transit out.

Who's to say that new Metro commuters from Arlington or Reston/Herndon won't do this without a few Ashburnites?

by Allen on Dec 21, 2011 10:43 am • linkreport

Loudoun County should definitely go with the Median BRT solution!!! No one will take the bus if it is slower than a car.

They can scale back on the parking garages and have developers contribute as part of a mixed use development.

This will provide faster access to Reston, Tysons, Arlington, and DC.

It still costs $2,291 billon for six miles of track and four stations.

They need this concept on I-66 and I-95 also.

by mcs on Dec 21, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

I agree with Pelham1861. Funding transit is a black hole and is just done to assuage the collectivist sympathies of liberals and the Democrat party.

I realize that you're quoting from other conservative pundits who makes these claims. I hope you realize that those same pundits take Amtrak and the DC metro all the time around here.

They say that stuff not because they have problems with transit, but because they know it hits your sensitive region and whips you into a froth.

by JustMe on Dec 21, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

If BRT becomes too expensive we Loudouners can simply convert it to regular roads so that people can use their own cars on it, which would be preferable anyway

However, where will go with those new regular roads? In the Tysons of tomorrow, it will be more difficult to drive to Tysons (there will be more traffic) and it will be more expensive (parking won't be free and DTR tolls will be higher).

@Allen
Who's to say that new Metro commuters from Arlington or Reston/Herndon won't do this without a few Ashburnites?

The Silver Line business case depends on ALL of the above bringing in commuters to Tysons. Also, the stations at the end of the line are usually among the busiest in the system, and there's no reason to expect that won't be the case for the Loudoun terminal.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 11:06 am • linkreport

@Pelham1861: Regarding the transit subsidies - my mother has always said that people whose transit is subsidized have less incentive to complain about fare hikes because they're not paying for them out of pocket so much. I don't know that I [i]agree[/i] with that, necessarily, but if it turns out to be the case then maybe it will make more people more serious about demanding more Metro accountability.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Dec 21, 2011 11:06 am • linkreport

@Pelham1861/AndySJ: if we truly wanted a "free market" way of handling the transportation subsidy, we'd either make the parking and transit subsidies the same or we'd eliminate both. Cutting one by half while increasing the other does not create a free market situation...it skews it in favor of driving/parking.

Since Pelham is in favor of options that benefit the taxpayer, he should be in favor of eliminating BOTH the parking and the transit subsidies. Anything less would be hypocritical.

by Froggie on Dec 21, 2011 11:23 am • linkreport

Re: Silver Line

Another thing to consider...Tysons is set to absorb 50% of Fairfax's job growth in the coming decades and the most important factor in making this a reality is a full build out of the Silver Line. Let's say we don't fully build out the Silver Line, then some of those future Tysons jobs will (hopefully) go to other areas of NOVA. Won't we just have to build roads and other infrastructure to support job growth in those other areas? So, you might save some money on the Silver Line but then spend that money (and maybe more) on new roads elsewhere.

In reality, a job lost from Tysons doesn't mean a full job gained elsewhere in NOVA. Tysons' attraction is that it is a tech "cluster". Part of the value of locating your company in Tysons is that there are other like-minded companies in the same place. If a company doesn't locate in Tysons, there's a goo chance they'll locate in a different tech cluster somewhere else rather than a random office park elsewhere in NOVA.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

Metro is a subsidized benefit for drivers. Any driver that thinks subsidizing Metro is not to their benefit hasn't driven in rush hour in and around DC. Take away Metro and you might as well forget about driving in this area any time of the day because you ain't going nowhere. I remember when the red line between Fort Totten and Glenmont was closed for several days after the accident and the traffic was ridiculous even for this region's standard (which is what, number 1 or 2 worst in the nation?). Maybe if the anti-Metro advocates on GGW - and there seems to be many of them - finally get their way and we shut it down you'll get your dream of being able to sit in a parking lot all day long and not go anywhere. Hell, just sell your house, get an RV...why even bother with the house?

by dc denizen on Dec 21, 2011 11:42 am • linkreport

@Falls Church:

I'm not convinced that stopping the Silver Line short of Loudon will necessarily lead to a loss of jobs in Tysons...as long as Loudon County sets something up to replace the lost stations. That being said, I don't like the idea of making Dulles the final stop...I've always said that an endstation needs to be someplace where people can drive comfortably, BRT or no. Putting it on Dulles Airport grounds makes things needlessly complicated.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Dec 21, 2011 11:52 am • linkreport

"Since Pelham is in favor of options that benefit the taxpayer, he should be in favor of eliminating BOTH the parking and the transit subsidies. Anything less would be hypocritical."

My sentiments exactly, Froggie.

by Christine on Dec 21, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

I'm not convinced that stopping the Silver Line short of Loudon will necessarily lead to a loss of jobs in Tysons...as long as Loudon County sets something up to replace the lost stations.

Only if Loudoun sets up something that gets people to Tysons just as quickly and conveniently as the Silver Line. BRT to a Silver Line station and then a transfer onto the Silver Line won't be that answer. People don't like the wasted time and inconvenience of transfers.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

@Falls Church:
Another thing to consider...Tysons is set to absorb 50% of Fairfax's job growth in the coming decades and the most important factor in making this a reality is a full build out of the Silver Line.

I'm just curious what your sense of the importance of a "full build out" is vs. completing Phase One and vs. Phase One+ (i.e. Reston, Herndon, and IAD). It's not perfect, but it gets us a lot of the way there, methinks. I'm sure there's a lot of the metro area (including much of the core) that will be happily competing with Loudoun to house Tysons workers.

Tysons' attraction is that it is a tech "cluster". Part of the value of locating your company in Tysons is that there are other like-minded companies in the same place.

Somewhat true, although most of the employment is either mega government/defense contractors, which benefit less from the daily cross-pollination activities we see in a lot of other tech clusters (or even here in the AOL/Microstrategy heyday), or non-tech corporate HQs, like Hilton, Sunrise, Freddie Mac, Gannett, etc. (I suppose some of those have a tech component, but it's not primary).

by Arl Anon on Dec 21, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

To answer some of the comments above: Yes, both subsidies should go away. It's ludicrous to have provided them in the first place. And, though some on the left seem to think these are political issues (right-vs-left)...in fact they are not. They are common sense issues. We've tried the world of unbridled federal spending for decades now...time to be progressive and put those old ways of thinking out to pasture.
Subsidies for transit are a fools gold. Making METRO more accountable is in everyone's best interest.

by Pelham1861 on Dec 21, 2011 12:19 pm • linkreport

"Only if Loudoun sets up something that gets people to Tysons just as quickly and conveniently as the Silver Line. BRT to a Silver Line station and then a transfer onto the Silver Line won't be that answer. People don't like the wasted time and inconvenience of transfers."

most loudoun county uses of the silver line to tysons would have had to drive to the stations, and park. of course most wont live within walking distance of BRT, but the access and parking may be easier.

Im not saying you dont lose tysons transit users by losing the two stations, Im just not sure that the loss is crucial to the future of Tysons (esp given that as tysons grows the extension to Loudoun can be revived)

I assume that the new effective terminal station for phase 2 becomes herndon (where folks transfer from BRT and other buses, and where autos park). Will that work? Is herndon station configured for that?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 21, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

On SmartBenefits:

Again, let's be clear here. There are two separate issues. One is the direct subsidy that federal workers get for transit.

The other is the pre-tax transit benefit that any employer can provide to their employees - funds to be used for commuting to work via transit can be deducted from one's paycheck pre-tax.

Both of these benefits are capped on a monthly basis.

This is not a program that only impacts federal employees, nor does it only represent a direct subsidy for transit fares - a great deal of people participate using their own money, albeit on a pre-tax basis.

This website from the Seattle area describes the relevant IRS provisions:

http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/CommuteSolutions/EmployerTaxBenefits/IRSCommuteBenefits.aspx

Federal law allows employers three ways to reduce the cost of commuting via public transportation (bus, train, ferry or registered vanpool) or qualified parking for employees. Companies can offer employees:

1. tax-free employer-paid subsidy
2. pre-tax employee-paid payroll deduction, or
3. combination of the above (shared employee- employer-paid)

For DC purposes, the federal government is just like any other employer - they choose to offer their employees a subsidy (i.e. the employer picks up the tab). But that does not mean that reducing the monthly limit only affects federal employees.

by Alex B. on Dec 21, 2011 12:33 pm • linkreport

I'm sure there's a lot of the metro area (including much of the core) that will be happily competing with Loudoun to house Tysons workers.

But, there are a lot of Tysons workers who don't want to live on the Silver Line closer to the core because it doesn't offer the same lifestyle as Loudoun. And they will take their highly demanded tech skills somewhere else if it provides an overall better value proposition. Obviously, the impact of one or two stations in Loudoun won't make or break the Tysons Transformation but every bit helps.

Somewhat true, although most of the employment is either mega government/defense contractors, which benefit less from the daily cross-pollination activities we see in a lot of other tech clusters

Maybe clustering is a little less important for Tysons' industries but there's still plenty of cross-pollination and employees moving amongst the various employers. One of the biggest attractions of a cluster from an employer's viewpoint is the deep talent pool they can access. One of the biggest attractions for employees is the deep pool of job/contracting opportunities available. Particularly for the independent (sub)contractor, you need to be close to as many opportunities as possible so you minimize the downtime in between contracts.

Im not saying you dont lose tysons transit users by losing the two stations, Im just not sure that the loss is crucial to the future of Tysons (esp given that as tysons grows the extension to Loudoun can be revived)

If we don't do it now, it's unlikely to happen in the next 30 years. And, no, the loss isn't a dealbreaker for Tysons but this is an opportunity to make an investment with very high returns. Why pass that up?

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

Wait, AndySJ's comment was snark, right? I mean, would anybody seriously pack this much cognitive dissonance into it otherwise?

Funding transit is a black hole and is just done to assuage the collectivist sympathies of liberals and the Democrat party. If people want to drive, pay them to do so. It's the free market way to handle the issue.

by Gray on Dec 21, 2011 12:39 pm • linkreport

Wait, AndySJ's comment was snark, right? I mean, would anybody seriously pack this much cognitive dissonance into it otherwise?

Reading it again, I see that it had to be. I've been trolled!

by JustMe on Dec 21, 2011 12:43 pm • linkreport

"If we don't do it now, it's unlikely to happen in the next 30 years."

why? because once the BRT is in place that makes the cost benefit for rail worse? I wonder how long it would take to do the approvals and engineering for the BRT? What if in two or four years (I dont know LC election cycles) a new pro rail board came in, with BRT yet unbuilt? At that point the issue would mainly be federal $$ no? Would it go to the back of the line - the cost benefit might look better at that point, with more employment in Tysons, more congestion on area roads, etc.

" And, no, the loss isn't a dealbreaker for Tysons but this is an opportunity to make an investment with very high returns. Why pass that up?"

If I were king I wouldnt pass it up (unless as king I could get some of the money reprogrammed to other transit projects closer in - I dont suppose thats possible). But Im not, and Im trying to judge what loss of the outer stations means to the economics of the Tysons transformation, of the Silver line phase 1, and even to whats left of silver line phase 2.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 21, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

Im not saying you dont lose tysons transit users by losing the two stations, Im just not sure that the loss is crucial to the future of Tysons

Also, while the above may be true, where will those jobs that are lost to Tysons go? In the best case scenario, they go somewhere else in NOVA but that just means spending more money to build out infrastructure somewhere else. So, there's really no point in diverting future growth from Tysons to some other place in Fairfax.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 12:51 pm • linkreport

...A prime example of what happens when you divert job growth from a metro accessible spot to a non-metro accessible spot is the mess at the Mark Center.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 12:53 pm • linkreport

Mike S. First of all I think it's "bury the lead" which refers to putting the most important part of a story near the end. That isn't what you're actually accusing them of. You're accusing them of not criticizing Metro in a two line summary of a story. These summaries usaully lean towards stating facts, which is what they did. Metro is safe though - it's safer per passenger mile than driving is. And in yesterday's event no one was even injured.

Things may have been mishandled, but criticizing a two line link-dump summary for lacking in depth analysis is like criticising a stick of gum for not being a cheesburger.

Pelham1861, this site has published many posts critical of METRO. And you know it.

If mass transit is not attractive enough without a subsidy than it was not worth it in the first place.

The problem is that driving is getting an even larger subsidy. Do you support getting rid of the parking subsidy too?

And in reality, people will continue to 'ride' or 'drive' just as they did before.

That's ridiculous. Are you arguing that prices don't change behavior?

This is not the end of the world unless you are of a mindset that 'governments' actually have 'money'. They don't. It belongs to taxpayers not blog owners or social experimenters.

No one said it was the end of the world - I hope that would get it's own post; but governments do have money - that's how they pay soldiers, right?

Hogwash, if Tommy Wells opposed the bill what should he have done instead of vote against it. Or do you think he's lying and that he supports it and voted against it anyway?

AndySJ If people want to drive, pay them to do so. It's the free market way to handle the issue.

I'm sorry, but that makes zero sense.

by David C on Dec 21, 2011 12:53 pm • linkreport

I've always felt it didn't make sense to extend Metro beyond Dulles, so I think this is great news. The airport is a much better terminus than exurbia.

by Rail Rider on Dec 21, 2011 12:58 pm • linkreport

"Also, while the above may be true, where will those jobs that are lost to Tysons go?"

If you are the new Loudoun County bd, you may well be hoping they will go to Loudoun, eh?

From the FFX POV - you lose jobs to other jurisdictions, or if the jobs are elsewhere in FFX you get a bigger infrastructure headache (which is why I think tysons transformation, including silver line phase one are no brainers for FFX) OTOH maybe you pick up some residents for FFX who would otherwise have chosen to locate in Loudoun - maybe not the folks who want to live on 1/4 acre in brambleton, but at least those folks who were going to live in the TOD near the two stations, or even folks looking at townhouses in loudoun.

Lets put it differently - if you were the FFX bd, would you offer (politics aside) to pay for all of Silver Line phase 2 to get LC to agree? I mean at some point this (the last two silver line stations that is) isnt worth it to FFX cty. There will be harm to FFX cty, as you have outlined, but also some shifts that harm Loudoun and benefit FFX that offset that to some degree.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 21, 2011 1:03 pm • linkreport

@Rail Rider. I agree. Light rail is a much better fit for exurbia than heavy rail.

by Tina on Dec 21, 2011 1:03 pm • linkreport

@Tina: excellent point! Running a separate train that requires a transfer to go towards DC or NoVA past Dulles would be a MUCH better fit.

by Gray on Dec 21, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

@David, Hogwash, if Tommy Wells opposed the bill what should he have done instead of vote against it. Or do you think he's lying and that he supports it and voted against it anyway?

I believe Wells has no real ideological nor philosophical opposition to the bill. So his "no" vote against an ethics bill that the entire city has been asking for, is likely an example of him grandstanding - which isn't out of the norm for Wells.

I imagine that if any other CM voted against an extremely popular bill, he/she would be taken to the woodshed. For Wells, I'm sure he and his supporters will claim "principle."

Ironically, he also refused to say that he would no longer participate any "bundling" while at the same time casting a side eye at the practice itself.

Let me go read up on the reasons behind his opposition.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

"Let me go read up on the reasons behind his opposition"

Huh, so you basically accuse Tommy Wells of grandstanding and yet didn't do any basic research before accusing him of such?

by Tim Krepp on Dec 21, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

No Tim, he accused Tommy Wells of lying and yet didn't do any basic research before accusing him of such? He just used the word "grandstanding" in place of the word lying.

He should have called him a NIMBY instead. That term is much more pliable.

by David C on Dec 21, 2011 1:30 pm • linkreport

there's still plenty of cross-pollination and employees moving amongst the various employers. One of the biggest attractions of a cluster from an employer's viewpoint is the deep talent pool they can access. One of the biggest attractions for employees is the deep pool of job/contracting opportunities available.

Sure, it just seems likely that the recruiting / subcontracting benefits from clustering depend less on a super-dense "Tysons cluster" and will likely be equally satisfied if a small portion of that development goes elsewhere. Indeed, if the benefits of clustering there prove dramatic, there's plenty of space to be made available by a market-driven outflow of Hiltons and in-flow of weapons designers, or whatever.

they go somewhere else in NOVA but that just means spending more money to build out infrastructure somewhere else. So, there's really no point in diverting future growth from Tysons to some other place in Fairfax.

I see a couple couple of reasons why diverting that infrastructure spending is preferable. First, it preserves flexibility to adapt infrastructure plans if living patterns & preferences change. Second, the growth of Tysons is going to create infrastructure demands in the closer suburbs of FFX County and in FC, Arlington, and Alex that need to be addressed. Even with a full Silver Line to 606 & 772, there won't be enough of the future Tysons workers living in Loudoun for it to be otherwise. Third, I'm obviously skeptical that Tysons is/will be a valuable cluster of innovative growth as opposed to just a sink for government contracting dollars. As a result, I believe NoVA may well see emerge or want to encourage other economic clusters to develop within that three-decade time horizon.

@AWalkerintheCity:
I assume that the new effective terminal station for phase 2 becomes herndon (where folks transfer from BRT and other buses, and where autos park).As Phase 2 is currently conceived, yes. But if Phase 2 ended at IAD, there could be a compelling business case (and there's certainly space) to expand the garages / add transit connections at IAD itself.

by Arl Fan on Dec 21, 2011 1:47 pm • linkreport

I believe Wells has no real ideological nor philosophical opposition to the bill...Let me go read up on the reasons behind his opposition.

Sometimes you've just got to take a step back and appreciate the smell of fresh-roasted irony.

by oboe on Dec 21, 2011 1:53 pm • linkreport

Even if you knew nothing about the Ethics bill, the fact that Thomas, the Browns and MB voted for it might be enough reason to oppose it.

by David C on Dec 21, 2011 1:59 pm • linkreport

Lets put it differently - if you were the FFX bd, would you offer (politics aside) to pay for all of Silver Line phase 2 to get LC to agree?

What FFX should do is raise the amount of the Tysons Special Tax District to pay for much more of the Silver Line. As it stands, Tysons landowners near the stations stand to gain $4B in property value increase but their tax contributions through the special tax district are capped at $400M.

Third, I'm obviously skeptical that Tysons is/will be a valuable cluster of innovative growth as opposed to just a sink for government contracting dollars.

I think this last statement is what your argument really comes down to. Why is it that you don't think that government contracting dollars can't result in innovation? The US is at the leading edge of defense/security/aerospace related technology...where do you think that innovation comes from? Some of it comes from the government but most of it comes from contractors/grantees.

Everyone credits DARPA with inventing the internet but remember that DARPA employs loads of contractors who contribute significantly to innovation behind the scenes.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

@arl wrt to more diverse employment centers

where in FFX county is there underutilized transport infrastructure? where do you put jobs in FFX away from the Tysons-Herndon corridor that does NOT involve infrastructure headaches? Springfield? Nuh uh, the horror of I95. Fair lakes, merrifield, etc - I66. plus for both of those, the beltway. I dont see ANY where you can put jobs in FFX county that doesnt require signficant transport investment.

WRT a metrorail to bus and auto at Dulles - would MWAA really be copacetic with that? I am skeptical

@FC wrt to making the landowners pay.

Interesting. Yeah. Do you think the landowners would push back, or do they see enough benefit to them from the Loudoun stations to at least soften their resolve to resist?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 21, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

Do you think the landowners would push back, or do they see enough benefit to them from the Loudoun stations to at least soften their resolve to resist?

It's a pipe dream to make the landowners pay. These are large, influential development corporations who have the politicians in their pocket. Instead of paying millions more for the Silver Line, they will simply pay thousands in "lobbying" the new Loudoun Supervisors, the Feds, the State or whomever.

That said, even though the Silver Line represents business-as-usual (the rich get richer and the middle class pays for it), it's still a good deal for Fairfax overall.

by Falls Church on Dec 21, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

In normal dialogue, the use of "I believe" denotes something that can't be stated "as fact." It is an "assumption" based on whatever one uses to make it. In this case, I used Wells' previous political posturing as evidence.

@David, no! I won't allow you to lie on me as if I don't have enough sense to tell. I never said Wells was lying, even after you specifically asked me that. So please correct your obviously poor memory.

Moving on, I did what I said I would..checked the facts. Based on the WPost article, Wells said the final mark in his decision to vote against the bill came after council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) successfully pushed to undo a proposed restriction on how members spend their constituent service accounts

Wells didn't think that: barring felons, establishing 3-member council, allowing AG to prosecute CM's, disclosing all outside income, lowering the CS funds by 50%, and allowing the Council to expel members was enough to warrant his support. Instead he objected because of how members spend their CS accounts.

Now you can call it whatever you like, but I say HOGWASH! IMO, this proves that Wells was only grandstanding.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

"Instead of paying millions more for the Silver Line, they will simply pay thousands in "lobbying" the new Loudoun Supervisors, the Feds, the State or whomever."

By law the feds can't make up for the state/local piece, Im pretty sure. And I dont think theyd have super success with McConnel and Richmond, unless they had already won over the Loudoun GOP supervisors first.

So I guess its all about lobbying the LC Bd.

as a resident of FFX, all I can say is "good luck!"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 21, 2011 2:42 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerintheCity: "where in FFX county is there underutilized transport infrastructure?"

Sorry if I wasn't clear - the point I was trying to make was precisely that there isn't underutilized infrastructure. Thus, if employment/residence patterns change, or if voters/gov decide they want additional employment centers other than Tysons in FFX, we may be glad to have preserved the $$ that would otherwise be spent on those very exurban Loudoun stops. If we decided to rebuild 7 Corners or central Annandale or Braddock at the Beltway or somewhere between Huntington and Ft. Belvoir as a compact, walkable, high-density community, with solid transit links to elsewhere, the flexibility from a shorter Silver Line would be good to have. And my bias is towards spending transit dollars like that, closer to the urban core.

@Falls Church:I think this last statement is what your argument really comes down to. Why is it that you don't think that government contracting dollars can't result in innovation? The US is at the leading edge of defense/security/aerospace related technology...where do you think that innovation comes from? Some of it comes from the government but most of it comes from contractors/grantees.

Actually, I think point #1 about flexibility is the key, because people's preferences, economic growth sectors, and the tide of history are unpredictable. But I have thoughts on your point, too. In an economy where we spend 1 out of every 5 dollars on the federal government, we're not going to see a total absence of innovation from that sector. But the experience of the big $ DOD weapons development and federal agency IT projects of the last three decades demonstrates just how much waste and inefficiency and previous-generation technology we tend to buy and how little innovation we tend to get. The Army, Navy, and USMC future weapons programs have been disastrously over-budget and subpar in their capabilities, even with a huge effort to shift procurement to make use of COS equipment with a much faster innovation cycle. And IT systems development? The FBI's VCF is just the highest-profile of numerous debacles.

And with the scope of current deficits and the looming shortfalls in entitlement programs, I think we're going to want the flexibility to promote other economic engines besides federal spending here in NoVA.

by Arl Fan on Dec 21, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

I never said Wells was lying, even after you specifically asked me that.

You intentionally dodged a direct answer to the question, but there is no other possible interpretation than that he was lying. You wrote "I believe Wells has no real ideological nor philosophical opposition to the bill. So his "no" vote against an ethics bill that the entire city has been asking for, is likely an example of him grandstanding"

But he said that he felt the law didn't go far enough for him and so he voted against it. That is both an ideological and a philosophical opposition to the bill. You've said that that isn't the real reason. That the real reason is to "grandstand" whatever the hell it is that you think that means. Ergo, you believe that the reason he stated is not the real reason for his vote. How is that different than lying? To go even further, how is voting against a bill you support different than lying?

You never said he was lying. You just claimed that the reason he gave for his actions wasn't the real reason. Is there a difference between that and lying?

by David C on Dec 21, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

OMG! Thank you, Mike S., whoever you are, for saying what I have been thinking for a long time. The "car EVIL, metro GOOD" line is so freaking tired on this blog.

And I love that this horrible incident about the rain getting stuck is listed right under a whiny post about a slight increase in parking benefits. As a COMMUTER I would like the BENEFIT of not being stuck for three hours in a smoky underground train with no communication. (And being stuck with a fare to boot.) Unbelievable. WMATA is the worst.

by AthenaNYC on Dec 21, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

David, personally, saying that Wells is "lying" is a bit too harsh for this particular instance. I would much rather use that term to describe something else. For instance, the poster who accused GGW of being too WMATA-Friendly is lying.

OTOH, Wells is being a bit too cute by half. His main opposition is how CM's use their CS funds. IMO, that is NOT enough reason to be the lone vote against a popular bill.

If you think saying "Wells lied" is a better reflection of my position, I won't argue against it.

Either way, it was a rather sheisty and politically calculated move. And that's ok. It's not his first time and it surely won't be the last.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 3:46 pm • linkreport

BTW, this still doesn't mean Wells is some evil, corrupt politician...even though I believe that many people would likely apply those terms (under the same scenario) for their least fav pol.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 3:52 pm • linkreport

Hogwash, your whole argument is detailing how a politician made a political move?

by Alex B. on Dec 21, 2011 3:57 pm • linkreport

@Alex, why yes! That seems like a fair and reasonable interpretation of my argument.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 4:03 pm • linkreport

And wouldn't that argument apply just as well to the other council members who voted for this legislation as well?

by Alex B. on Dec 21, 2011 4:11 pm • linkreport

@Alex, yes you could apply the same argument. However, I don't think it's really applicable here. What that would mean is that every CM who voted in favor of the bill did so for political reasons rather than a real ideological or philosophical disposition against it. This also happens to be my argument against Wells. IMO, it's much harder to say that's the case when the numbers are what they are.

In fact, I would more likely give Wells the benefit of the doubt had there been at least two CM's who voted along with him. That just hasn't happened. So once again, (vote reassigning him to another committee) Wells is the odds man out.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 4:26 pm • linkreport

Hell, at least ONE who voted along with him.

He had none. So the odds of him being a "man of principle" on this is slim to none.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 4:27 pm • linkreport

HogWash, my point is that your argument (politician does something - votes no - for political reasons) is so broad that it is meaningless.

You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but you're not just stating an opinion, you're trying to use the vote result as some sort of objective evidence to support your argument. The argument you use is just as applicable in the converse (politician votes in the affirmative for political reasons).

by Alex B. on Dec 21, 2011 4:42 pm • linkreport

@Alex, I thought I was rather clear as to what I considered the issue with Wells' vote against the bill. I simply agreed with your summation of my argument. Your summation took a "broad" look when I was rather specific. Additionally, the statement "politicians doing for policial..." will always be a broad statement than can apply to any politician under any circumstance.

Of course I'm using the vote result as evidence to support my argument. I initially said that I didn't think wells was "honest" in his refusal to support the bill. Then after I researched his rather flimsy "main" reason for voting against the bill, it only reinforced my opinion that Wells was not acting out of genuine concern.

You're right again, this sword cuts both ways and as I mentioned above, can apply to any politician under any circumstance. But that's not how we ever view things. Our favorite pol is less inclined to do political posturing than our least favorite. It's nothing out of the ordinary or inconsistent about that.

Don't you agree?

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 5:12 pm • linkreport

My point is you singled him out, and attempted to justify your opinion with some logic - logic that doesn't justify anything.

You're entitled to your opinion, of course. I'm just pointing out the logical holes in it.

You wrote:

I believe Wells has no real ideological nor philosophical opposition to the bill. So his "no" vote against an ethics bill that the entire city has been asking for, is likely an example of him grandstanding - which isn't out of the norm for Wells.

A contrarian could make the same case that another councilmember who had no particular ideological support for this bill or history of acting ethically voted 'yes' so that they could grandstand about doing something in favor of ethics.

The larger point is that politicians are, by definition, political. Anything that's political could be interpreted as grandstanding, therefore any given vote, regardless of the result, could be used to grandstand on a certain issue.

Ergo, your use of one CM's vote as evidence of 'grandstanding' does not compute. Wells could vote yes and grandstand on ethics. He could also vote no and grandstand on ethics. Therefore, the result of the vote (i.e. your main piece of evidence) is worthless because the charge you've levied is so broad to be without meaning.

That's all I'm saying. This isn't about the substance of the legislation, mind you - just the logic of your opinion. If I can use the exact same argument to make the exact opposite point, I don't know that it's a very strong argument.

by Alex B. on Dec 21, 2011 5:32 pm • linkreport

@David C. :

"Lede" is a state of the art term in broadcast news. "Burying the lede" means burying the most important or newsworthy part of the story - the headline - somewhere deep in the body of the story. I made a living in the news biz for several decades, and was occasionally guilty of burying the lede.

What happened yesterday at L"Enfant Plaza was the lede on every TV and radio newscast yesterday, and should have been the lede - if not in this blog - then certainly in the blog's morning news wrapup.

Hundreds of thousands of people trust their lives and safety to Metro every day. They are deep underground in an environment that offers limited means of escape and many dangers for those who would try to leave their train cars.

Information is vital to the people stuck down there when accidents, fires, or other incidents occur. They must be told what has happened, and what the best course of action is. And this must be done as quickly as possible.

The GGW folks pissed and moaned about getting on-time "Next Bus" info until it WMATA finally made it happen. Why can't they be as annoying and persistent until Metro comes up with incident notification protocols? Isn't the safety of passengers caught up in emergencies a little more important than someone having to stand in the rain while waiting for a damned bus?

by Mike S. on Dec 21, 2011 6:22 pm • linkreport

Wells is the odds man out.

@Hogwash, you say that like it's an insult. On this Council, I say it's a qualification. And let's not forget Wells is also the odd man out when it comes to not being investigated by the Board of Election and Ethics and/or the Department of Justice, which makes me trust his instincts on this matter a little more.

by cminus on Dec 21, 2011 6:43 pm • linkreport

Alex, if your point was in part that I singled him out, it shouldn't have taken much to figure that out in the first place. He's been the subject of my every post on this. So yes, I did single him out.

Factually, a contrarian can make a counterargument to anything. If you didn't notice, I said (twice I believe) that you can always counter any argument. So I'm not sure what the disagreement is there. You've said something that has never been in dispute.

You seem to not want to deal with the specifics of this case and instead choose to make, what I consider, rather irrelevant and borderline ridiculous counters to what I said. In this case, Wells chose not to support his fellow CM and vote against ethics legislation that a majority of DC residents have asked for. I believe he did it to grandstand. You believe that the same can be said in reverse...and it can..which isn't in dispute.

My evidence of "grandstanding" doesn't compute likely because you don't agree with it. I never asked how you define grandstanding. What I did do is give my rationale for why I thought Wells was grandstanding. In forming my opinion, I used the substance of the legislation because it is indeed relevant. Everyone thought the city should pass this long-awaited ethics bill...but Wells. That's simply the facts. We can disagree over whether he did it on principle (which I highly doubt). But the fact that he was the lone vote against it is not.

Tommy Wells can not be and certainly is not the only CM with principles. In cases where he's the dissenting voice, he can not ALWAYS be the principled one in the room. IMO, believing such is very, very, very irrational and implausible.

Lastly, if having the ability to make a counter argument (using the same argument) invalidates the original argument, then every story, idea, or circumstance discussed here at GGW aren't strong arguments. IMO, you believing that is illogical and inconsistent with what and how we discuss things here.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 7:20 pm • linkreport

CMinus, unless I'm wrong, there is only one CM under investigation - Harry Thomas. So I'm not sure what point your were attempting to make in bringing up ethics violations or potential criminal prosections. That means that there were at least 11 other CM's who didn't agree with Wells' position and who aren't under investigation.

I believe your post is the best example of the dissonance many of you here and in Wells' fan club are often chided for.

Wells was the only one out of 13 members to vote against it. And you believe that being the odd man out is a good thing?

That's right, keep telling yourself that but failing to hold Wells accountable (consistent with other CM's) severly handicaps him outside of his base of support.

by HogWash on Dec 21, 2011 7:27 pm • linkreport

Hogwash:

Everyone thought the city should pass this long-awaited ethics bill...but Wells.

I think most people wanted ethics reform. That doesn't mean they supported this particular piece of legislation. That right there is the key problem with your line of reasoning.

Lastly, if having the ability to make a counter argument (using the same argument) invalidates the original argument...

I never said it invalidated your argument, I said it weakens it. Also, it's not the mere ability to make a counter-argument, it's using the exact same piece of evidence and the exact same logic to reach a completely different conclusion that weakens your case.

by Alex B. on Dec 21, 2011 8:43 pm • linkreport

Mike S,

I did not know that lede = lead. You learn something new every day.

But again, this is just the morning link dump. I don't think any one link is ranked higher than any other, and it doesn't matter if they are. This is just a link dump. Chill out.

GGW is not a news organization. There is not some editor assigning people posts and giving them deadlines. People write about things as they get time. Sometimes it takes days to cover a new subject (I've been known to take weeks to get things up). We're talking about an unpaid, volunteer staff who, frankly, is probably half at home with family for the holidays. Again, chill out. If you're upset, write David for a refund.

The Post has not made this a headline story either.

Hundreds of thousands of people trust their lives and safety to Metro every day.

And they are - on average - much safer for it.

Information is vital to the people stuck down there when accidents, fires, or other incidents occur. They must be told what has happened, and what the best course of action is. And this must be done as quickly as possible.

While I think there is an argument for being informative as a matter of courtesy. What information could they have been given to make them safer, considering that no one suffered even a minor injury? When the firefighters arrived, they assesed the situation and moved the passengers from the train. We can assume that they gave them the information they most needed namely "We need to leave this train now and walk down the tracks." It seems to me that they were given information about the best course of action as quickly as possible. Metro didn't have any information to give at first since they didn't know what had happened, but when they knew something, they gave information. What more can they do?

The Post reports that "Metro used e-mail and text alerts, Twitter and its own Web site to provide information." And a few dozen people complained about a lack of info. If, after a major shutdown on a line like this occurs suddenly, there are only a few dozen complaints - that's what I like to call a success.

What happened yesterday at L"Enfant Plaza was the lede on every TV and radio newscast

Ah yes. Local TV news - journalism at it's finest. If only GGW to ascend to such heights.

by David C on Dec 21, 2011 11:15 pm • linkreport

Hogwash

His main opposition is how CM's use their CS funds. IMO, that is NOT enough reason to be the lone vote against a popular bill.

1. The bill isn't that popular. Many commentators have called it weak and unlikely to change anything. And I'm unaware of any polling data. Perhaps you know of some to back up the claim that it is "popular".

2. Tommy wrote "frankly the changes to protect status quo on constiuent services funds put me over the edge as much as the votes against transparency". So the CS funds are only part of the reason he voted against it. The votes against transparency were another part of it.

3. Your opinion on what does and not amount to enough to vote against a bill is not particularly relevant. It's what Tommy thinks is enough that is. And he says that he thinks this bill doesn't go far enough. And he offered amendments that would have allowed him to vote for the bill. So that's two pieces of evidence that Tommy voted against the bill because he didn't think it goes far enough. You've offered nothing to contradict this, except for your own opinion - and you know what people say about opinions.

Either way, it was a rather sheisty and politically calculated move. And that's ok. It's not his first time and it surely won't be the last.

WTF are you talking about? EITHER WAY? So even if he really does believe passionately that we need a better law, and he's willing to risk his political future for it and vote against a "popular law", it's STILL "a rather sheisty and politically calculated move"? That doesn't make any sense at all. He truly can not win with you, because whether he's grandstanding or he's a believer, he's still faking it.

You don't like Tommy Wells, and nothing he does is going to make you happy. That's fine, because guess what, you don't vote for him.

by David C on Dec 21, 2011 11:29 pm • linkreport

@Alex, I think most people wanted ethics reform. That doesn't mean they supported this particular piece of legislation. That right there is the key problem with your line of reasoning.

Oh, I thought the key problem was that I singled him out. But oh. I haven't witnessed an onslaught of opposition to THIS bill. So I'm not sure how ended up being a key problem with my logic.

Also, it's not the mere ability to make a counter-argument, it's using the exact same piece of evidence and the exact same logic to reach a completely different conclusion that weakens your case

And I said that sort of contrarian argument can indeed be made. I also considered that argument ridiculous. The idea that if someone had the ability to use the exact argument in reverse "weakens" the original argument, that is. Yes Alex, that is a ridiculous assumption and I believe you're being quite disingenuous in making it.

by HogWash on Dec 22, 2011 7:36 am • linkreport

1) If the bill isn't popular, where are/were the calls for it to be squashed? Perhaps you have some data on how very "unpopular" the bill is?

2)Based on yesterday's WPOst article covering this, Tommy said his main opposition was the CS funds issue. I searched for the "transparency" piece and was only able to find his opening statement from Nov. 30, several weeks before the vote was taken. Surely he must have repackaged that statement over the last couple of days. If so, I would like to read it. If not, stop playing. I posted what he said just the other day. you posted what he said several weeks ago. A little more recent maybe?

3)Uhmm, my opinion on whether this was enough to vote for or against the bill is relevant. Guess why? Because it's my opinion. Unlike many of you, I don't look to Wells to help me form an opinion. I don't look to Wells as the example of why something should and should not happen. I use my own reasoning to form my own opinion. That happens to be consistent with standard practice when discussing matters here. In every one of those cases, they make the case..and we..the community decides if it's true. It certainly happened when GGW decided the Council was being dishonest in voting to reassign Wells. Even then, your opinions weren't irrelevant, I just didn't agree with them..and neither did the Council.

I think it was made clear in my initial post that iI didn't believe Wells' rationale. Not surprisingly, I still don't think he was "passionately" against this bill..which is why I believe he was only grandstanding. He very well knows that this bill wouldn't put at risk his political future. It passed almost unanimously and I'm sure he knows that his base supports him to the point of infallibility. I don't believe there was a milligram of sincerity in his decision and that is was totally politically calculated.

I don't know Tommy Wells. Never met the guy and until I started posting here, never heard of him. He's not my CM and doesn't have to make me happy. He can fall of the face of the earth in 1, 2, 3 and I would not cry for him argentina.

What I have learned of him is that he (like Marion Barry) uses his constituency as a tool and knows that they'll believe the sky is pink and green with crimson stripes if he tells him. What I have learned is that the minute he cries foul, this community begins another arab spring in his defense. I don't like it when we do in Ward 8 defending Barry and I also don't like when it happens with Wells and his base. Both do the city a disservice.

Barry is often (sometimes rightly) accused of being a poverty pimp. Wells is the almost the same..but of a WOTR kind.

by HogWash on Dec 22, 2011 7:59 am • linkreport

BRT to Loudoun would not cost as much as rail, not even close.

Loudoun has buses running from lots now, using the Dulles Access Road. They can make the Loudoun to DC trip in about 45 minutes vs rail will be 1hr and 15 min. plus. Buses are fast and efficient. BRT would be a huge savings but MWAA wants to hide that because rail dumps billions from the public onto developers, contractors and politicians.

by Look Again on Dec 22, 2011 8:37 am • linkreport

Right now buses running along the access road can make the trip as fast as rail. But any attempt at "BRT" will be pared down with 1000 tiny cuts until it's basically an express bus on an existing roadway.

Fast forward 20 years, when there's been more development, more traffic, and now your pared down BRT plan sucks, and the rail you should have built 20 years ago looks really good in comparison.

Bus systems that will continue to rival rail systems in speed are almost as expensive as rail. That's because you need things like separated guideways, which are expensive.

by MLD on Dec 22, 2011 8:57 am • linkreport

Look Again:

Loudoun has buses running from lots now, using the Dulles Access Road. They can make the Loudoun to DC trip in about 45 minutes vs rail will be 1hr and 15 min. plus. Buses are fast and efficient.

I'm not sure what schedule you're looking at, but I actually looked at the current schedule, and it looks like a rider getting on in Leesburg isn't scheduled to get to a metro station in Rosslyn or DC for well over an hour. After the 7:45 departure from Leesburg, they stop running service straight to DC, and budget 50 minutes just to get to the WFC metro.

You're right that the buses can use the DTR, but the portion of the trip between there and DC is invariably slow at rush hour--and Loudoun County is clearly not going to be making improvements on I-66. So any BRT would have to involve a transfer to metro anyway, and wouldn't cost a whole lot less. What's the point of that?

by Gray on Dec 22, 2011 9:00 am • linkreport

1) Nice try, but I never asserted they were unpopular. You claimed it was popular. I asked you to prove it. Asking me to prove that you were wrong is basically conceeding that you can't back up your claim.

But here's the Post "we would urge council members to strengthen the legislation by abolishing constituent service accounts, cracking down on campaign contributions and empowering the council to expel members for misconduct....we believe there is merit in proposals by D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) to reduce the influence of pay-to-play in city contracting by outlawing the practice whereby a company sets up subsidiaries to contribute more money than the legal limit for individuals. The Office of Campaign Finance testified that Mr. Wells’s proposal would go a long way in helping it oversee campaign contributions. Mr. Wells also is advancing an idea, worthy of more study, that would ban city contractors from donating to political campaigns."

So it appears that the reforms that Wells sought are what's popular. Odd.

2)Here's the link to what Wells said about it after the vote, not before. Perhaps you need to do some more reading.

3)Your opinion, while normally relevant, isn't in this case because we're talking about Tommey Wells' motivation, not whether he is right or wrong. You claim his motivation is political and not philosophical, but all the evidence is to the contrary. Your statement about what you would do is irrelevant when analyzing whether Wells is being genuine or if he's playing games.

I think it was made clear in my initial post that iI didn't believe Wells' rationale.

It was also clear that you hadn't actually read anything about why Wells did what he did.

I believe he was only grandstanding. He very well knows that this bill wouldn't put at risk his political future.

Voting against a "popular" bill won't hurt his political future? Maybe it wasn't that popular.

What I have learned of him is that he (like Marion Barry) uses his constituency as a tool and knows that they'll believe the sky is pink and green with crimson stripes if he tells him.

For example?

BTW, I notice you didn't respond to my criticism of your "Either way, it was a rather sheisty and politically calculated move" claim. Isn't that statement the very essence of unfair and biased. Regardless of why he did it, he's still a bad guy?

So I guess you're not like his constituency at all. If Wells tells you the sky is blue, you'll just insist that it is pink and green with crimson stripes. Until he agrees with you and then it will be blue again.

by David C on Dec 22, 2011 9:08 am • linkreport

Thanks, Look Again, for pointing out what a huge boondoggle this rail project is. Rail is outdated 19th century technology that requires that we reshape our way of life to include crowded, crime filled, broken down bus stations. Spending big bucks on passenger rail is definitely an outdated idea.

This project will imperil that free roads that we depend on. Historians will be hard put to explain why politicians in the 21st century wanted to pour so much money into mostly 19th century rail technology that, in urban areas, operates at 25 mph at best. Recently elected Republican governors around the country have blown the whistle on wasteful passenger rail projects.

Hopefully the GOP will kill this socialist plan.

by AndySJ on Dec 22, 2011 10:17 am • linkreport

@David, Nice try...Asking me to prove that you were wrong is basically conceeding that you can't back up your claim.

It's your argument. Why wouldn't you believe that? Unless I've been on another planet, passing ethics legislation was extremely popular. Does "this" piece of legislation satisfy everyone? No! Has any legislation accomplished this? No. Would people like it to go further? Sure, like always. Have I seen calls for this legislation to be voted down? No. Who is the only one? Tommy Wells.

@#1, The WPost editorial board's position on this is as irrelevant as the NY Post's. For many DC residents, they have no credibility - at all. You posting what the editorial board said as an example of "popularity" is ridiculous and you know it..or at least you should. WRT to Wells' position, I don't believe anything was wrong with his proposal..sounded good to me. But his colleagues didn't support it and voted in favor of the bill w/o his amendments. Again, "a" bill was popular and everyone would
naturally not get everything they want. I don't recall seeing where the Wpost supported voting against this bill if those provisions weren't there. Care to share that link?

2)I don't use twitter. So after initially assuming that his "no" vote lacked sincerity, I searched for his rationale and found what most people consider a reliable source of information...the newspaper. And that's your defense? And that's what you use to suggest that there are challenges in my ability to read? I didn't have enough sense to check his twitter account? You can't be serious. Uh-oh...nvm..I'm sure you are serious and its not a good look.

3)I think it's more accurate to say that we're talking about why "I" think Wells' vote lacked much sincerity. You asked my what I thought were his motivations and I answered in kind. So it's not a matter of me having to prove (to your satisfaction) his motivations. I believe what I believe for the aforementioned reasons..totally not subject to your approval. This too, is consistent with our daily dialogue. In order to be deemed relevant, we never have to "prove" something to another persons satisfaction - at least not since I've been posting here.

4)No, voting against a "popular" bill won't hurt his future. Why? Because he knows he has supporters like you and others..much like Marion Barry who also knows a pretty good ear for what his supporters would like to hear.

An example of such? GGW Attacks DC Council as Unethical and Political

by HogWash on Dec 22, 2011 10:34 am • linkreport

BTW, I notice you didn't respond to my criticism of your "Either way, it was a rather sheisty and politically calculated move" claim. Isn't that statement the very essence of unfair and biased. Regardless of why he did it, he's still a bad guy?

Geez David, and you've suggested that "I" might have some challenges with literacy or poorly formed opinions? Did you happent catch when I said:

BTW, this still doesn't mean Wells is some evil, corrupt politician...even though I believe that many people would likely apply those terms (under the same scenario) for their least fav pol.

Although I have said this, in one way or another, many times before, I understand how and why it never really matters to some (if not many) here. Believe it or not, there is no perfection in polictics..or humans for that matter. I 100% believe that Wells can be as politically calculating and run shams with his base in the same way that Marion Barry does. IMO, that doesn't make Wells corrupt nor evil.

by HogWash on Dec 22, 2011 10:42 am • linkreport

@Hogwash: CMinus, unless I'm wrong, there is only one CM under investigation - Harry Thomas.

The Department of Justice is currently investigating Kwame Brown for major campaign finance violations, and there is a pending issue before DCBOEE over (admittedly penny-ante) allegations that Kwame Brown, Alexander, Barry, Bowser, Michael Brown, Catania, Cheh, Evans, Mendelson, and Orange all diverted constituent service funds to political expenditures. Then, there are the concluded investigations of Alexander, Barry, Michael Brown, and Graham, which resulted in Council disciplinary action against Barry (overturned when Kwame Brown became chair), a significant fine for Brown, and a minor fine for Alexander.

by cminus on Dec 22, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

Have I seen calls for this legislation to be voted down? No.

I don't think that is an adequate standard to call it "popular". But almost every opinion piece I've read on this has taken the same tack, which is that it stops short of what is really needed. You have yet to produce even one iota of proof that this legislation is popular, which is what you've claimed. Not that ethics reform is popular, but THIS BILL. No evidence. None.

The WPost editorial board's position on this is as irrelevant as the NY Post's.

And yet it is infinitely more evidence that the law lacks popular support then you've provided to the contrary.

I don't recall seeing where the Wpost supported voting against this bill if those provisions weren't there. Care to share that link?

The Post hasn't yet taken a position on the bill that passed - but they did oppose the Evans amendment. To throw it back at you, I haven't seen a single editorial anywhere criticising Wells for his vote. Care to share a link?

And that's your defense? And that's what you use to suggest that there are challenges in my ability to read? I didn't have enough sense to check his twitter account?

It's not a defense. What do I have to be defensive about?

But yes, you could easily find out Wells' position by reading his twitter account or, y'know, asking him. But you didn't even do any research on it until pressed, and then you read a Post article that included one line "Wells said the final mark in his decision to vote against the bill came after council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) successfully pushed to undo a proposed restriction on how members spend their constituent service accounts." By "final mark", one would read that there are several reasons he voted against the bill, but you chose to ignore that part and make it seem like it was only the CS accounts.

Which is of course irrelevant. It only matters if Wells thought the bill was too weak to support in order fot this to not be grandstanding. Which is why he said he voted against it. And one can assume that had his amendments been accepted, he would have voted for it. Which backs up his assertion. Now, you're free to think he's lying, but you've done nothing to back this up, which makes it a pretty irresponsible claim.

It would be like if I were to call you a racist, just because I think you are one. That wouldn't really be fair would it? I would need some sort of evidence of that to not be a jerk.

)I think it's more accurate to say that we're talking about why "I" think Wells' vote lacked much sincerity... believe what I believe for the aforementioned reasons..

well, I disagree. Because you never qualified your earlier statements with any amount of doubt. But yes, if you would like to believe that Wells vote lacks sincerity and your only reason is that it is because that is what you thin, then I guess there is no where else to go with that kind of circular logic. But I call it total Hogwash. If you want to talk about a position that is lacking in sincerity, one that is based on nothing but...well, nothing...has got to be the worst.

Did you happent catch when I said...

Yes. But it in no way addressed my point. I didn't ask you if you thought Wells was evil or corrupt. I want to know how you can possibly think you're giving him a fair shake when you write "Either way, it was a rather sheisty and politically calculated move?" That means that even if he believes passionately that this law should be opposed because it is just window dressing, he's still being sheisty and politically calculating. How is that possibly fair?

by David C on Dec 22, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

@AndySJ:

Two things I would like to remind you about:

1) Cars are also a 19th Century technology.

2) Roads are not free.

by Froggie on Dec 22, 2011 2:09 pm • linkreport

@David, haven't we been here before? You zero on in what I say and make a semantics based counterargument? I've already stated that no single legislation EVER satisfies everyone. If you prefer me to amend my statement and say, "ethics reform is extremely popular" vs. "this legislation" then there you have it, I just did. So we're at a roundabout. I can't convincingly "qualify" it's popularity and same applies to you in reverse.

And yet it is infinitely more evidence that the law lacks popular support then you've provided to the contrary

That's rather odd logic. The WPost talking about what it would like to see in a bill is not indicative of the bill's unpopularity. It's simply discussing what it would like to see in it. As it stands, I've yet to see anyone suggest that the bill (yes this bil) shouldn't have been passed. In sane's terms, that suggest that there isn't a groundswell of opposition to it. We can ALWAYS say what "we would rather..." That's easy.

But yes, you could easily find out Wells' position by reading his twitter account or, y'know, asking him. But you didn't even do any research on it until pressed

Well no. I would not suggest anyone visit someone's twitter account for information on his/her positions. I know it's hip sorta thingy for you guys..but not me. To clarify, I stated that I would research his rationale...on my own..not after being prodded. The facts don't seem to back up your assertion that I researched "after I was pressed." That means you are lying.

By "final mark", one would read that there are several reasons he voted against the bill, but you chose to ignore that part and make it seem like it was only the CS accounts.

I didn't ignore anything. From the first response (post research) I said that the final mark main reason behind his no vote was the CS accounts. By using "main," most literate people would conclude that it's "one of several." I didn't talk about those "other" reasons because HE (not me) gave a statement citing what the "main" reason was. You preferred the twitter response.

I said "up top" why I thought he wasn't being sincere. That didn't (not surprisingly) satisfy you. You commenting that I haven't produced any information to back it up is a lie. You just don't like the information or think it sufficient. I'm ok with that. I would expect nothing less. If you cited evidence (you believe) shows that I'm a racist, I say good for you. I'm not. But you're free to use whatever you want to make whatever argument. I'm free to disagree.

I want to know how you can possibly think you're giving him a fair shake when you write "Either way, it was a rather sheisty and politically calculated move?" Even if he believes passionately...he's still being sheisty and politically calculating. How is that possibly fair?

I intentionally ignored this earlier because I thought you would go back and read the exchange. Wishful thinking.

Here's some clarity, I response to you suggesting that what I really was saying is that Wells lied, I said "If you think saying "Wells lied" is a better reflection of my position, I won't argue against it. Either way, it was a rather sheisty and politically calculated move.

In amismarterthana1stgrader's terms, what that meant is that whichever (either way) term you chose to use, his move voting against the legislation was shiesty and political calculating. You're a big supporter. I can understand how that might seem unfair. I'm not and I don't think I am being unfair and refuse to believe that the lone vote against ethics "reform" is the Saint in the room. I know many of you seem him as the new Obama who walks on water. But he doesn't. They both put their pants on one leg at a time.

by HogWash on Dec 22, 2011 2:14 pm • linkreport

Reading this site and many of these comments, one might think it's a crime to not agree with everything CM Wells does. Arguing over theory of debate does nothing to advance topics or discussion of positions/concerns and detracts from this site to the many who read the posts and comments.

by selxic on Dec 22, 2011 2:19 pm • linkreport

@David C: You've heard Einstein's definition of insanity -doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? You (and others) have had countless discussions with HogWash, each time invoking reason, logic and the proper definition of words in the English language. Each time, this is the result. While it's greatly entertaining, for your own health and well-being, you should probably stop (although I don't actually doubt your sanity).

by dcd on Dec 22, 2011 2:50 pm • linkreport

I stated that I would research his rationale...on my own..not after being prodded. The facts don't seem to back up your assertion that I researched "after I was pressed." That means you are lying.

So now you're accusing me of lying? Classy.

The chronology is that

1. You accused Wells of grandstanding (10:22)
2. I pushed back at you (12:55)
3. You responded that Wells was lying about his reason for voting the way he did and included "Let me go read up on the reasons behind his opposition." (1:21)

So, not lying. Apology please.

From the first response (post research) I said that the main reason behind his no vote was the CS accounts.

Final mark is no the same as the "main reason" for starters, and your first response post research was "Instead he objected because of how members spend their CS accounts." It wasn't until the next post that you mentioned that it was the main reason, which, as I noted, is not what the Post article said. Final mark refers more to the "straw that broke the camels back."

I said "up top" why I thought he wasn't being sincere.

You wrote:

Wells didn't think that: barring felons, establishing 3-member council, allowing AG to prosecute CM's, disclosing all outside income, lowering the CS funds by 50%, and allowing the Council to expel members was enough to warrant his support. Instead he objected because of how members spend their CS accounts.

Now you can call it whatever you like, but I say HOGWASH! IMO, this proves that Wells was only grandstanding.

There is no reason here. It includes an error about how CS accounts were the main reason. And it seems that your thesis is that he can't believe that CS accounts is enough or a reason to not vote for it, so therefore he was grandstanding. But the relative importance of the CS accounts is your opinion.

It's like you're saying "I wouldn't have voted against this. He did. Therefore he must be doing it for some sort of grandstanding purpose."

As I said, it's no real reason at all.

But you're free to use whatever you want to make whatever argument. I'm free to disagree.

Which would matte if we were talking about freedom. We're not. We're talking about what is fair and what is right. It would not be fair to call you a racist. It would not be right. But I am free to do it. Same as it is not fair or right for you to accuse Wells of voting purely to grandstand without any evidence.

I know many of you seem him as the new Obama who walks on water.

I understand the urge to paint those who disagree with you as cultists. But it creates a toxic environment when you accuse those who disagree with you of being brainwashed and unable to form their own opinions. You've done that a lot in these comments. If you can't get that people have a legitimate beef with you mischaracterizing his motives and saying that he's lying about them, the least you can do is drop it instead of doubling down by accusing those who question you of being mindless worshipers.

by David C on Dec 22, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

HogWash, and David C, please stop with the comments that swipe at each other or other commenters. Our comment policy says that being disrespectful toward others is not appropriate. I will be deleting any comments in this thread from now on that talk about whether someone is being disingenuous, whether someone is making accusations toward someone else, etc. Please talk about the issues and not each others' behavior. You've both gotten to have your say on this issue; now this can stop.

by David Alpert on Dec 22, 2011 3:15 pm • linkreport

@DCD, I would appreciate you not taking swipes at me, considering that you haven't been the subject of my discourse. No need to invoke my name just to make your ill-advised point.

@DCIf you can't get that people have a legitimate beef with you mischaracterizing his motives and saying that he's lying about them, the least you can do is drop it instead of doubling down by accusing those who question you of being mindless worshipers.

The responses I've gotten here provide enough evidence to support the notion that "people have a beef" with my characterization. I've never argued that people don't have a reason. I just don't think it's a good reason. There is, however, enough evidence to conclude that there is a lack of consistency found among many of Wells' base. And that's ok.

@DAl, as the person at the receiving end of David's jabs, I didn't think he was being disrespectful. He was only defending what he believed were unfair attacks on the pope Wells...sometimes through the use of hyperbole :)

Now his call to meet me out in the street and spit in my face is a different story altogether. :) :) :)

by HogWash on Dec 22, 2011 4:02 pm • linkreport

@DCD, I would appreciate you not taking swipes at me, considering that you haven't been the subject of my discourse. No need to invoke my name just to make your ill-advised point.

My point was that you are not open to logic or reason, and that you routinely mangle the English language. Not sure how to make that point (which may indeed be ill-advised, although not incorrect) without saying your name.

by dcd on Dec 22, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

The best part of this is, looking at demographic changes in DC, that Wells is probably only a couple of elections away from being Mayor.

by David C on Dec 22, 2011 8:44 pm • linkreport

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