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Breakfast links: Big links on big stories

Photo by WABA.
RIP Constance Holden: WABA has installed a ghost bike to Constance Holden, the cyclist killed by a military truck driver Monday. The Post has more details of what happened; WashCycle fears little will come of it. The tragedy was enough to get WTOP to write about "windshield perspective."

Outcry smashing ARTS overlay cap: DCRA and the Fenty Administration are reassuring residents that they support raising the 25% restaurant and bar cap on 14th and U Streets. OP is hard at work on a text amendment, which looks on track to traverse the rezoning process in record time. This experience is also educating residents that federal agencies still have a big say in local decisions. (Examiner, DCist, Yglesias)

Gaithersbargain wins straw poll: The Montgomery County Council has reached a compromise on Gaithersburg West, now renamed Great Seneca Science Corridor (since it's not in Gaithersburg), that involves reducing the amount of development and more strictly requiring the Corridor Cities Transitway. 8 of 9 members supported the plan in a straw poll; dissenter Marc Elrich worries Hopkins can still fill the space with generic, non-life science office park uses. (Gazette)

Not all Loudoun roads need to be 8 lanes: Loudoun County plans to widen many arterials to 8 lanes is stirring Smart Growth pushback from residents who want better bus service and walking and biking facilities instead of massive auto expansion. (Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

Pulitzer for distracted driving reporting: One of the Pulitzers not given to the Washington Post rewarded NYT's Matt Richter for his series on distracted driving including the amazing photo of one teen driver texting while a passenger holds the wheel. Ray LaHood sees this as a sign that distracted driving has really penetrated the "national conversation." (Fast Lane)

Development dispatches: The Wheaton Safeway could become an 18-story apartment building containing a larger store and parking hidden inside the building (DCmud) ... An Arcadia, CA developer is on a hunger strike to protest the City Council's rejection of a plan to allow a denser downtown (LA Times via @SmartGrowthMD) ... An Arlington court threw out the lawsuit against an affordable housing project planned atop a church. (Post)

And...: The USDA turned a parking lot into a community garden at their Independence Avenue headquarters (Post) ... A bus driver hit a pedestrian at Alabama Avenue and Irving Street, but not apparently fatally. (Post)

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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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If anything can come out of Constance Holden's accidental murder, it is the idea that the Convention Center should never hold a summit again. Cities are not the place for hyper-secure summits and they had many alternatives -- Camp David, National Harbor, Andrews AFB, Bolling AFB, Fort Belvior, any closed-for-the-season ski area, etc. etc.

I shared the WJLA article on her death on Facebook with a line about "is America really free". Cost me a relative in the military as a friend because all the cynicism pissed him off. Thanks snarky anti-military GGW commentators!

by Jason on Apr 14, 2010 9:24 am • linkreport

@Jason -

"Accidental murder" is a contradiction in terms. The key element of murder is intent.

Regardless, assigning blame isn't the solution here. Regardless of who was at fault, the point is that such a situation is entirely preventable.

To me, that's not just a question of an in the city location. Timing matters (last year's G20 meeting was on a weekend, also held in the city), security procedures matter, transportation matters. For example, if you're going to use vehicles to barricade streets, perhaps using civilian trucks that are street legal is a better idea than using military hardware.

Anyway, I hope a deep review of these kinds of security policies comes out of this.

by Alex B. on Apr 14, 2010 9:33 am • linkreport

Jason, I don't think this site is "blaming" the military. The fact of the matter is that the National Guard accidentally killed (but did not murder) a person.

The military has a useful and important purpose in protecting the nation and I am certainly not one of those naive peaceniks who wants to disband the Pentagon. However, just as it is inappropriate to water a garden with a firehose, it is inappropriate to deploy the military and war machines onto city streets. These machines are meant to kill (as they should, if they are deployed in a war zone), but this sort of firepower is unwarranted in a civilian city.

This was not a national emergency, despite what the Obama administration wants you to believe. Constitutional rights don't disappear just because the top officials at the Secret Service are watching too many episodes of 24.

The president gets around town just fine with armored limousines and SUVs; there was no need to call in these massive war machines to put on a theatrical spectacle.

by Eric F. on Apr 14, 2010 9:41 am • linkreport

Cities shouldn't hold summits because it causes traffic jams? Hmm...I guess that means the United Nations will be putting up a for sale sign at its NYC building and looking for some rental space in Iowa.

And "accidental murder"? That's a bit much. Does that make the Metro bus driver who hit a pedestrian yesterday an "accidental attempted murderer"? In the wake of the multitude of crashes and deaths involving Metro, is the system an "accidental mass murderer"?

And the criticism of the deployment of "military war machines" is equally over the top. If the military had deployed tanks and APCs, that's one thing. But they didn't. They deployed Humvees. If an unarmed transport vehicle used by the military automatically means its a war machine, does that mean the Dutch troops who use bicycles are also using war machines?

People need to stop exploiting a tragedy for their own ideological purposes.

by Fritz on Apr 14, 2010 9:55 am • linkreport

Andrews for the Summit? I doubt the Prime Minister from Belgium is going to appreciate the BOQ or Days Inn across the street. Get a grip people.

by Lou on Apr 14, 2010 10:01 am • linkreport

Is there any indication that the Prime Minister of anything patronized a business near the Convention Center? For one, they'd have a hard time getting out of the Sowjetischen Sektor Secure Zone in order to patronize Subway on 7th or any of the other establishments in the area.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 14, 2010 10:05 am • linkreport

@Eric: "massive war machines"? They were using Hummvees and trucks,not tanks and APC's(rolleyes).

Agreed that holding the summit in downtown DC was a bonehead move,but the problem was they needed to have qualified personnel handling the traffic;police or Secret Service. Folks who are used to directing these kind of operations. This tragidy was 100% avoidable.

Also,WTF is with the kid in the distracted driving article? He kills someone because he's yakking on the phone,so now he doesn't do it as often? Killing someone isn't enough for him to change his actions?

by dynaryder on Apr 14, 2010 10:09 am • linkreport

"War machine" is no exaggeration. Take a look at the same intersection the next morning. It's no surprise that hastily maneuvering such a massive machine back and forth on a city street throughout the day might actually hurt somebody.

by Eric F. on Apr 14, 2010 10:11 am • linkreport

So if a vehicle has a green camo color scheme it's a war machine...

by Paul on Apr 14, 2010 10:16 am • linkreport

@Matt, I bet if you could look at the hotel receipts for the downtown hotels where everybody was staying (because they were close to the Summit location), you would see that there was quite a bit of patronizing going on.

My point being, a Summit involving 47 foreign delegations is hard to accommodate outside of a city unless you can find a place with adequate housing facilities befitting heads of state.

by Lou on Apr 14, 2010 10:22 am • linkreport

It's a war machine when it's designed to successfully crush and run over anything in its way, hence the high ground clearance, high bumper, high driver position, rigid body frame, thick-tread tires. This is no ordinary vehicle.

As for the hotel receipts, I'm curious if the foreign delegations are exempt from paying DC hotel taxes under the Geneva Convention. That doesn't mean hotels don't benefit, but it might mean the city taxpayer is receiving a level of tax revenue far below what normal tourists pay.

by Eric F. on Apr 14, 2010 10:27 am • linkreport

Geneva Convention does not apply to local tax revenues, last time I checked.

by Lou on Apr 14, 2010 10:50 am • linkreport

My mistake; wrong European city. It was the Vienna Convention of 1961.

by Eric F. on Apr 14, 2010 10:52 am • linkreport

@Matt J - love the Sowjetischen Sektor comment, hahahah

Sources tell me that Chancellor Merkel was seen eating at the Chop't on 7th Street. Then again, those same sources also told me that I could use the Suitland Parkway with no fear of being mowed down by cars on bike to work day.

by Matt Glazewski on Apr 14, 2010 11:12 am • linkreport

The comments at the WTOP article on windshield perspective are pretty alarming. Cars should rule the road simply because they're bigger? By that reasoning, since 18-wheelers are bigger than four-wheel vehicles, truckers should be able to crush those annoying little sedans with impunity?

by Matt W on Apr 14, 2010 11:29 am • linkreport

@Eric: the war machine in that photo is meant for carrying cargo and people. They have no armament or armor. The description in your next post pretty much describes every vehicle in the Baja 500.

by dynaryder on Apr 14, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

I dunno about the Geneva Convention, but Summit delegates definitely did not pay taxes while here. And if you've ever waited tables near the World Bank or UN, you'd know that they're lousy tippers also. (They usually feign ignorance on tipping customs despite having lived and worked in the area for several years.)

by aaa on Apr 14, 2010 11:55 am • linkreport

@Eric F That "War Machine" looks about as dangerous as a GMC box truck or a dump truck to me.

by jcm on Apr 14, 2010 12:33 pm • linkreport

"...hastily moving such a massive machine..." You do not hastily move an Army 5 ton truck.

by ksu499 on Apr 14, 2010 1:18 pm • linkreport

Haste does not equal Fast

The problem was the National Guardsmen kept being required to move the truck on short notice. That's haste.

The truck does not have to be moving 60 mph to be moving in haste.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 14, 2010 1:20 pm • linkreport

@Eric F That "War Machine" looks about as dangerous as a GMC box truck or a dump truck to me.

Or a garbage truck. Like the one that ran over Alice Swanson when the driver failed to check his mirror before turning.

by ibc on Apr 14, 2010 2:44 pm • linkreport

@ibc Or a metrobus for that matter. I'm no claiming I want to be hit by a deuce and a half, or any other truck. But referring to a it as a dangerous war machine is silly. An M1 is a dangerous war machine. An M35 is just a green truck.

by jcm on Apr 14, 2010 4:48 pm • linkreport

did Constance Holden regularly ride to work? Or was her regular mode taking the bus/train from Mt. Pleasant? Was she riding this week instead of bus/train b/c bus/train routes were disrupted? Were there public announcements encouraging people who work in the vicinity to bike instead of going by car/bus/train?

The answers to these questions can add detail to the texture of the narrative surrounding the circumstances of her death and perhaps inform prevention efforts for the next time a high security largest-summit-of-its-kind are planned for a workweek in downtown dc. I agree this summit should not have taken place in downtown DC during the workweek.

by Bianchi on Apr 14, 2010 9:02 pm • linkreport

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