The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Weekend links: The culture war comes here

Photo by Wyoming_Jackrabbit on Flickr.
Gay rights take step forward: The Maryland House passed a same-sex marriage bill. But no marriages will take place until a referendum, assuming opponents successfully petition for one. (Post)

Women's rights take step backward: Virginia will require an intrusive and medically unnecessary procedure to try to deter women who want or need legal abortions. (Slate)

Put gentrifiers, not football players, at Res. 13: Besides the policy advantages of mixed-use over a Redskins practice facility at Reservation 13, it's better on gentrification, by creating places to live that don't involve displacing anyone. (City Paper)

Simmer down now, DC Council: The DC Council will consider requiring civility from its members. Chairman Brown introduced the bill after a heated exchange between David Catania and Marion Barry upset voters. (Post)

Council beefs up transportation expertise: Will Handsfield, who worked on the Capital Bikeshare launch with DDOT and comments regularly on Greater Greater Washington, will be working for Mary Cheh as a transportation policy advisor. (Twitter)

Charter schools on the trigger: DC charter schools were quick to expel or suspend students, dumping around four percent of their enrollment through expulsion. Critics contend the expulsions dump poorly-performing students onto public schools. (Post)

NO TAGS? $20,000 in tickets: One driver got the DC vanity plate "NO TAGS," but that's led the DMV to mail him $20,000 in tickets, since when they write a ticket for a car without plates, they fill in the field with "NO TAGS." (NBC via Consumerist)

The Tide rolls in: Norfolk's The Tide light rail has crushed ridership projections, exceeding expectations after only six months of service, by changing how people live and work in the city. (The Virginian-Pilot)

And...: Despite setbacks, the Senate transportation bill is far from dead. (The Hill) To accommodate massive population growth, Arlington will add 7,000 seats to its schools. (Post) A new distillery has obtained federal approval to operate in the District. (DCist)

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 two children in Dupont Circle. 
David Edmondson is a transportation and urban affairs enthusiast working on his master's in city and regional planning at Cornell University. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin


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What's going on in Arlington? Certain commenters here keep telling us that families move away from the city when they have kids.

by Ben Ross on Feb 18, 2012 4:31 pm • linkreport

Arlington is a county and is counted as a suburb by the census bureau. Please do not pay attention to the heavy rail transit, high rises, urban form and a skyline that contrasts against dc. otherwise how are we gonna keep arguing that the suburbs are the future?

by Canaan on Feb 18, 2012 6:38 pm • linkreport

The second topic should read: "The rights of the most vulnerable take a step forward." Abortion is terribly emotionally scarring event for many women and well, flat out kills the child's beating heart so I would understand why people would want to deter it. Second of all, the article's comment about needing intrusive ultrasounds prior to 12 weeks is just plain false, at least as far as my wife and every other pregnant lady I have ever met is concerned. If GGW wants to go there, you shouldn't be so disgustingly biased.

by Pat on Feb 18, 2012 9:24 pm • linkreport

I would also second that GGW not wander into abortion it really relevant to this website's principal goals? Believe it or not, not everyone in DC is such a big fan of abortion as you apparently are...

by anonymous on Feb 18, 2012 11:00 pm • linkreport

Well, we all know that GGW wants gays to be able to walk to the courthouse for their marriage certificate and for women to be able to take a trolley after getting their baby vacuumed from their uterus, so their post is somewhat relevant.

by TGEoA on Feb 19, 2012 12:50 am • linkreport

Too bad nothing in that bill prevents the woman from getting an abortion.

I'm pro-choice, and I see no harm in requiring this. I think of it as a "cooling off period" before killing your baby (I am pro-choice, but I don't mince words...that's what an abortion is)

by Long Time Resident on Feb 19, 2012 1:04 am • linkreport

For a counterpoint to this discussion, I will link this and direct you to the wonderful phrase "rape by instrument". The bill about to be signed into law would not only declare mandatory medically unnecessary invasive ultrasounds for people who ask for abortions "against their consent", it would declare blastocysts to be people worthy of wrongful-death lawsuits, and it would outlaw several types of contraception and likely fertility treatments.

Its [male] backers declared it to be one of the first steps in a strategy to outlaw abortion nationwide, and said that abortion is just "a matter of lifestyle convenience", decrying "these stories that these ladies bring up".

Virginia is launching a full-fledged assault on the reproductive rights of women, with complete disregard for the Constitution or the desires of half the population.

I thought we'd gotten to a point where this wasn't a political football any more, but I guess both parties' jump far to the right of their political positions in the last third of the 20th century has moved this into play in terms of actual laws, not just Shit Republican Presidential Candiates Say. It will only stop if you stand up and take action.

by Anon on Feb 19, 2012 7:33 am • linkreport

"Intrusive" and "medically unnecessary" are both factually correct statements in reference to the law's new requirements. I don't see what the hubbub is about. In the context of the usual GGW content, the new law is another sign of the disconnect between the faster-growing (and revenue-generating) northern parts of Virginia, where most favor reproductive rights, and the rest of the state.

by aaa on Feb 19, 2012 7:58 am • linkreport


Those blastocysts will have a right to "due process" so let your imagination run wild with that one.

by RJ on Feb 19, 2012 10:28 am • linkreport

One result of the new law is that Northern Virginia women will use clinics in DC.

by jim on Feb 19, 2012 10:38 am • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] It's a private medical procedure between a woman and her doctor, and thus none of your business.

by Joe on Feb 19, 2012 11:35 am • linkreport

*yawn* Business as usual on the Northern and Southern sides of the Potomac.

Heavily Democratic, progressive Maryland enacts legislation to further civil rights (gay marriage) in the state and have drivers pay their fair share and fund transit (gas tax). Wingnut

Virginia on the other hand takes steps backwards enacting legislation to allow people to purchase firearms freely and to restrict women's rights. Next on the agenda: Bring back Jim Crow laws.

"Carry me back to old Virginny.
There's where the cotton and corn and taters grow.
There's where the birds warble sweet in the spring-time.
There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go..."

by King Terrapin on Feb 19, 2012 12:56 pm • linkreport

According to Gallup, women are significantly more opposed to abortion than men. And the majority of Americans as a whole are pro-life. I don't think the majority of American women would appreciate being called "women-haters". Second of all, married men are more "pro-life" than single men. I would find it ironic that they would hate women after marrying one.
I could go a more controversial direction but I'll keep this simple. We are members of society and what that society does as a whole is absolutely in every member's interest. Isn't that what being "progressive" is all about? We want the good of everyone and not just what directly impacts my personal life. Protecting the innocent and defenseless is the most American virtue of them all.

by Pat on Feb 19, 2012 1:03 pm • linkreport

Personally I agree with the editorially sentiment expressed in the first two items. That being said to me one of the virtues of this blog is that it promotes urbanism and transportation issues seperate from the normal lense of partisan politics. It can convince conervatives that just becuase liberals are for some of these issues they don't have to be against them.

In my view, and since it isn't my blog the relevance of my views is limited, injecting controvertial issues that are outside of the normal realm only hurts the goals of this blog.

by nathaniel on Feb 19, 2012 1:17 pm • linkreport


I couldn't agree more. And I've noticed the increasing amount of so called "hot button" social issues interjected into the GGW breakfast links over the past several months. Feels a bit like mission creep to me...

Bottom line: stick with the nuts and bolts that distinguish GGW from other blogs and traditional media.

by Tyler on Feb 19, 2012 4:26 pm • linkreport

"What's going on in Arlington?"

Arlington public schools, per the article, has 21,500 students, projected to add another 8.5K in 9 years.

Loudoun currently has 61,000 students (from the Loudoun County business website), up from 50K in in 06-07 school year (from wikipedia) and has an above average school age population compared to the DC area, Virginia, and the US as a whole. (page 5) Projection in 2020-2021 school year is projected to be about 87,600 page 13

So Arlington is projected to see a 40%, while Loudoun is seeing a 44% increase. And obviously Loudoun swamps Arlington in absolute numbers.

by Kolohe on Feb 19, 2012 5:05 pm • linkreport

I second the idea of keeping issues like abortion and gay marriage out of scope for GGW. Stick to your core competencies.

by Falls Church on Feb 19, 2012 7:45 pm • linkreport

"I second the idea of keeping issues like abortion and gay marriage out of scope for GGW. Stick to your core competencies."


by Arl Fan on Feb 19, 2012 9:26 pm • linkreport

"The Washington, DC, area is great. But it could be greater."

Transportation, alone, is not Greatness. The marriage adjustment that might happen in Maryland would make this region a better environment for peaceful everyday pursuit of happiness. That would be well within the GGW mission.

by Turnip on Feb 19, 2012 10:43 pm • linkreport

Actually, GGW, I think that your articles on these lifestyle issues are completely within scope, and I encourage you to keep them in your discussions.

Those that are not comfortable with those social positions should be able to say so. And it's better to discuss these issues in the full light of day than hide from them as if they didn't exist.

Please keep up the good work.

by Progressive on Feb 19, 2012 10:51 pm • linkreport

Absolutely! Transit is NOT the only issue that can make DC better. While most of the focus here is on transit, it doesn't have to be the sole focus.

I see no problem with the write-up.

This is about putting a disclaimer on a woman's right to choose.

by HogWash on Feb 20, 2012 10:58 am • linkreport

The vast majority of people are interested in ways to make the region better with transportation and infrastructure. Many people, including myself, hold that gay "marriage" and abortion make the region worse and not better. Why should we celebrate killing unborn children? If you want to open that door, you are just another liberal blog and will turn conservatives like me off from your core competency. Focus on what makes you unique.

by Pat on Feb 20, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

Re:The Tide
Going to a topic related to transportation :)
The Virginian Plot article about the Tide mentioned that the authority that runs the service has agreements with the major universities in the area that lets their employees and students ride the rail. Some other places in the country that do this as well. A part of your activities fee (or whatever each college calls it) goes toward the cost of providing passes for students to use the local public transportation. I've never understood why Metro doesn't attempt to do this with the universities in the DC area.

by rextrex on Feb 20, 2012 1:39 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by HogWash on Feb 20, 2012 2:09 pm • linkreport

@Pat-the required ultrasound is a "wand" (the medical term for the device) shaped like a dildo bigger than a banana but with much less "give" (its made of metal, not banana material) that a technician sticks into the vagina of the woman, up against the cervix, and then moves it around. You don't think that is intrusive? Regradless of how you feel about terminating preganancy -you don't think the required procedure, described above, is intrusive?

Only someone with no vagina could ever conclude that procedure in not intrusive.

by Tina on Feb 20, 2012 2:46 pm • linkreport

Like most places, Arlington probably closed a huge number of schools and leased out space in others during the bust that followed the baby boom. I wonder if that's part of the long-term planning. Given that immigrant families are being priced out of Arlington, they must be expecting a huge turnover in homeownership to justify 30% growth or perhaps a new babyboom (so9mething that doesn't happen in a recession). the whole thing sounds pretty questionable on its face and the Post doesn't really go beyond the face.

by Rich on Feb 20, 2012 8:51 pm • linkreport

BTW, welcome to the wonderful world of wingnut spam. Trying to cultivate libertarians and linking to the Examiner doesn.t help.

by Rich on Feb 20, 2012 8:54 pm • linkreport

Most of the Arlington schools that were 'stood down' in the 80's have already come back on line in one form or another (e.g. Gunston Middle, Claremont Elementary,(what used to be called) Stonewall Jackson Elementary). There are afaict, no more of the old schools available anymore*, that's why they're talking other county land, like the rec centers (that have always been rec-centers).

*The one exception seems to be that Fairlington rec/community center, which was once upon a time an elementary school, will remain a rec center)

by Kolohe on Feb 21, 2012 8:59 am • linkreport

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