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Breakfast links: Consequences of snow

Photo by Dan Reed.
Sidesnowpiles: Urban dwellers might be annoyed by apartment buildings not clearing their snow, but it's much worse along major suburban arterials; around Randolph and Connecticut, huge snow piles have completely obliterated bus stops and there are no usable sidewalks whatsoever. (JUTP)

Two pedestrians die: Two drivers killed pedestrians yesterday in DC. At 12th and Rhode Island, NE, two drivers collided, sending one of the cars over the sidewalk, striking two pedestrians and killing one. And on Southern Avenue, SE, a driver went over the curb, killing a woman at a bus stop. No word yet on whether snow contributed to either, or how well dug-out the bus stop was. (NBC, Post)

You can't save a space: After digging their cars out of parking spaces, some residents are trying to mark their spaces, and sometimes causing arguments between neighbors. The law? You can't mark a space. (Fox5) ... Mike DeBonis suggests changing the law.

Post ignores own staff and blogs to get story wrong?: Erik Wemple rips apart Washington Post coverage of the snowball fight. He says a Post staffer was there in person, but reporter Matt Zapotosky ignored his eyewitness account to write a dissenting article, then took a long time to get the story right. Contributing to this, Wemple argues, was the Post's reluctance to link to other news sources, except when demeaning their coverage or that of "blogs" in general. (City Desk)

Free parking means no parking: Providence, R.I. made all downtown meters free to encourage shoppers, but found instead that employees at the nearby courthouse just parked all day, leaving no spaces for those shoppers. (, Michael P)

Arlington in DC all along?: Retrocession of Arlington and Alexandria to Virginia might have been unconstitutional, says one 1910 legal opinion; at that time, most residents would have voted to return to DC. NoVa Columbia, anyone? (DCist, Nikolas Schiller)

And...: Georgetown Metropolitan explains the D bus's upcoming changes ... The Post recaps the CUA/Abdo development recently approved for Brookland (Pat O) ... Kawasaki, Japan wants to build a subway line powered entirely by batteries. It's not clear why. (Kyodo via Japan Times, Rob)

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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. 


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The 1890 Washington Post article that describes how many Alexandrians of the time wanted to return to the District basically describes Alexandria's current relationship with Richmond:
Mr. D.W. Whiting, the publisher of the Daily Progress, said that he had long favored repeal and had written for it for years. “Here we are paying out between $80,000 and $100,000 a year to the State,” said he, “and are getting nothing in return for it. All our license fees, the fines in State cases, and 40 cents on the $1 goes into the State, and we get nothing in return for it.
Some things never change.

by Cavan on Dec 23, 2009 9:48 am • linkreport

I know along Reston Parkway the sidewalks in many parts are piled 10 feet high with snow from the plows, meaning pedestrians will be forced to walk in the dangerous road for a while now.

However at least one office building had a bobcat out, clearing away what VDOT had piled in the sidewalks.

by Joshua Davis on Dec 23, 2009 9:50 am • linkreport

The retrocession idea is great; the only drawback I can see is that the DC cookies won't have such a great shape.

Too bad Virginia won't let it happen.

by Neil Flanagan on Dec 23, 2009 9:57 am • linkreport

I somehow doubt Arlingtonians will want to send their kids to DC Public Schools. Ain't gonna happen.

by Eric F. on Dec 23, 2009 9:59 am • linkreport

Eric F: That depends on how Arlington and Alexandria are incorporated into DC. Instead of one single city-state District government like we have now, there could be a new state with 3 city-counties: Washington, Arlington, and Alexandria. Each can maintain its own schools the way Arlington and Alexandria do today.

by David Alpert on Dec 23, 2009 10:15 am • linkreport

a whole bunch of buildings over the height limit would have to come down. Just sayin'...

by andy on Dec 23, 2009 10:28 am • linkreport

If Arlington/Alexandria were to be unretroceded (or reannexed? We need new words), what would happen to the portion of Alexandria that was never in the District? If I recall correctly, that's most of the city right now.

If it were cut along the old lines, you'd be cutting the city, and there'd be two Alexandrias: Alexandria, D.C., and Alexandria, Va. If the new District boundaries were drawn to include all of Alexandria, it wouldn't be a square. Maybe leave Alexandria as it is and only take Arlington County?

by Tim on Dec 23, 2009 10:28 am • linkreport

While it is possible to allow separate jurisdictions to keep their own school systems, it essentially solidifies existing patterns of de facto school segregation, contradicting the liberal ethos of the area.

Also the current City of Alexandria extends beyond the original diamond. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that the District may not exceed a 10-mile-by-10-mile square shape.

by Eric F. on Dec 23, 2009 10:28 am • linkreport

Kind of pointless to have a discussion on how Alexandria and Arlington public schools would function in DC, since it's near certain that the retrocession will be undone. For one thing, someone would have to challenge it as illegal, which brings in the essential issue of who would have legal standing to bring such a case. The only way I see around that is Maryland or Virginia bringing the case directly in the US Supreme Court, which neither is likely to do, since neither really cares. And DC wouldn't have jurisdiction to bring the case in the Supreme Court b/c it's not a state.

So it's sort of an interesting "What If" game, but it's no more realistic than playing "What If" a supermodel showed up at my house to cook me pancakes in the morning.

by Fritz on Dec 23, 2009 10:34 am • linkreport

On an unrelated note (but related to the post), I think it's going too far to say that "two drivers collided." Two drivers colliding would mean that two human beings ran into each other, presumably while walking (and I don't know why you would call them drivers ... perhaps they're professional NASCAR drivers or something).

In general, I agree with this blog's policy against giving motor vehicles agency. But when it comes down to it, in this case, two motor vehicles, each under the control of a human being, collided.

Grammatically speaking, yes, cars are capable of actions. Those actions are often due to the actions of human beings, and one must attribute those particular actions to human beings. But in this case, the human beings did not collide; their vehicles did, because of the actions of one or more human beings.

by Tim on Dec 23, 2009 10:37 am • linkreport

There are already two Alexandria's, from a address perspective, with one of them in Fairfax County. I don't think you could break up the City of Alexandria, but if you did, I think the part that's not in the square could just go to Fairfax County.

But I agree that this will never happen. I think despite being a butt of jokes, many Arlingtonians and Alexandrians would prefer to stay a part of VA over going to DC, but I think in the long-run, it would be good for Northern Virginia to have a bit more control on some things.

by Vik on Dec 23, 2009 10:50 am • linkreport

Not to be crassly political about it, but as an avowed liberal, I would hate to see Arlington and Alexandria become part of DC. VA would become (or return to being) a Republican stronghold, and the increase in DC's electoral votes wouldn't come close to offsetting the loss Virginia's "purple" status. If you're the RNC, don't you actively support the re-retrocession idea for this reason, even taking into account the impact on the VA state budget? That's not considering the disenfranchising of thousands of (predominantly) liberal voters . . .

by dcd on Dec 23, 2009 11:16 am • linkreport

No increase in population in the District will get it more electoral votes. Under the 23rd amendment, which grants DC electoral votes, the number of votes is limited to 'no more than the least populous state'. IE: 3, and three for the foreseeable future, until more people start moving to Wyoming.

by Distantantennas on Dec 23, 2009 11:30 am • linkreport

@Tim: I'm curious - using this site's pedantic grammar policy on car crashes (which I find to be rather silly, and reminiscent of Fox News' decision to refer to "suicide bombers" and "homicide bombers"), would one have to refer to a plane crash as the pilot killing all the passengers, rather than the plane crashing because of weather or mechanical error? Did the passengers on the Titanic die because the captain killed them, versus an iceberg sank the ship? Did a Metro bus/train driver kill a person who jumped in front to try to commit suicide? Is there any difference between an intentional act (i.e., a person driving a car onto a sidewalk in order to kill and injure people) and an unintentional one (i.e., a driver losing control of his/her car due to weather conditions and resulting in the death of a bystander)? Or are they all deemed to be killers, regardless of the intent of the actions that caused the death?

by Fritz on Dec 23, 2009 11:30 am • linkreport

It's interesting how many in the "retrocessionist" crowd decry the spending of thier tax dollars on downstate interests. I wonder if they feel the same way about other big government boondoggles on the national scale like health care "reform?"

by John K. on Dec 23, 2009 11:46 am • linkreport

This topic seems to appear every six months so that DC bloggers can sit around and get off on their imperialist fantasies. Complete waste of time.

by spookiness on Dec 23, 2009 12:15 pm • linkreport

What DCD said. It would be Machiavellian for a Republican-run Virginia to bring suit to kick Arlington back to DC, thus cementing Virginia's EC votes for Republicans for another few decades, and ostracizing surplus Democratic voters to an EC-capped outpost. It would be the biggest gerrymandering ever (well except for that India/Pakistan thing in '47).

by crin on Dec 23, 2009 1:27 pm • linkreport

Kawasaki, Japan wants to build a subway line powered entirely by batteries. It's not clear why.

Mainly because they can eliminate overhead catenaries, which is how most rail lines in Japan are powered to allow for through operation with suburban commuter rail lines. Since this particular subway line is not planned to have through operation with other lines, eliminating catenaries is an option. This way they can make the railcars and tunnels smaller, cutting costs by as much as 30% (433.6 billion yen, or approx. 5 billion USD).

They mention this in the article you linked: "'If electric vehicles are popularized, the hurdle over the batteries' costs will be cleared,' said Kawasaki Mayor Abe. 'As overhead wires will not be needed, tunnels can be smaller, curbing expenses.'"

Mind you, it's still in the planning stages (and has been for nearly a decade) so nothing is even close to being decided yet.

by trainsintokyo on Dec 23, 2009 7:37 pm • linkreport

The Post's local coverage generally is horrible. Their Metro reporters generally know nothing about the city. They also tend to be very respectful, if not fearful, of power. This was most apparent during the Barry years. I think this explains as much as the Post's obvious hubris.

What's particularly damning about Mongthy County's inattention to sidewalks is that included places with significant pedestrian traffic such as the Executive Blvd corridor which includes many White Flint station and RideOn users.

by Rich on Dec 23, 2009 9:07 pm • linkreport


A commercial plane crash is rarely pilot error. It usually comes down to malfunctioning equipment. I can certainly think of a few cases (the American jet that crashed into a Brazilian airliner, and the pilot that was directed onto a to short runway and crashed after takeoff) but generally the problem is found to be weather, bird strike, shoddy airline maintainence... And the news usualy makes a big deal out of if it was the pilot's or equipment's fault.

In the case of a car the fault is usually that of a driver.

by Joshua Davis on Dec 23, 2009 9:56 pm • linkreport

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