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


Breakfast links: It's easy being green

Photo from Jack McKay.
Zoo listens to us: In response to criticism of closing access from Mount Pleasant, the National Zoo has painted a temporary crosswalk on Beach Drive and is accelerating plans to reopen the Harvard Street bridge. (Mt. Pleasant DC forum)

Green plan, needs green money: Maryland and federal officials announced a plan to clean up the Anacostia, including rain gardens to absorb runoff from parking lots near the river, restoring woods, grass and marsh along the banks, and more. But nobody has the $1.7 billion to implement the plan. (Post)

Planning Department veggies: Montgomery Park and Planning is creating a vegetable garden and adding some beehives on its roof to be greener. (The Straight Line) In the comments, Casey Anderson suggests also repurposing the vast surface parking around the building, perhaps as the much-needed Downtown Silver Spring skate park.

People and things bumping cyclists: Another driver intentionally hit a cyclist on Florida near LeDroit Park. This time the cyclist couldn't get a plate number. In Vienna, a cyclist confronted a driver who the cyclist says cut him off, but the driver denies it. Finally, a Georgetown University bus hit a cyclist, but the cyclist admits she was at fault and is not seriously injured. (TheWashCycle)

Rosslyn's temporary plaza: Rosslyn will get itself some temporary urbanism on a lot at Wilson Blvd and Fort Myer Dr where an office building is delayed. It will become a temporary plaza, with tables, chairs, shade canopies and a stage where the BID will program summer events. (The Triangle)

The art avenue: You might have seen new sculptures in the median of New York Avenue, NW (and a ghost bike as well). The sculptures are the first phase in a program to add sculptures by different female artists to New York Avenue from 9th to 13th, NW in the next few years. (WBJ)

X marks the cuts: The Georgia Legislature refused to change an arcane rule requiring MARTA to spend half its money on new projects. As a result, it will likely have to cut 30% of its service. To raise public awareness, MARTA and advocates are working together to mark buses and trains slated for cuts with a giant red "X". (Creative Loafing, Matt')

Vote in Congress versus home rule: DC leaders are lining up against the voting rights bill that would prohibit the District from deciding its gun laws. Chairman Vince Gray, Mary Cheh, Phil Mendelson, the Post, DC for Democracy, and now Kwame Brown and Yvette Alexander, who originally praised the deal, have all denounced it. (Post, DCist, etc.)

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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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re: Vote in Congress

I'm really surprised by DC opposition to the bill. The reason why Congress is able to gut our gun laws is BECAUSE Norton has no vote to trade on legislation. If she could vote on the dozens of major pieces of legislation considered each year, she could trade her votes for cooperation from her colleagues on issues important to DC. If our gun laws are really a high priority, then presumably she could get this repealed in the near future if she had a vote. I thought this was why we wanted the vote in the first place.

by Ken Archer on Apr 20, 2010 9:29 am • linkreport

One vote, while nice, is not that much in the House.

by David Alpert on Apr 20, 2010 9:37 am • linkreport

One vote in the House, against the NRA, is worth even less. The Ensign amendment was a poison pill, and it's done its job - I can't get behind the bill with the violation of Home Rule embedded in it.

by The AMT on Apr 20, 2010 9:50 am • linkreport

Re Anacostia cleanup -- We can't find $1.7 billion for the cleanup but we can spend $3 billion plus on the Intercounty Connector to do irreparable damage to the forests and streams in the headwaters of the Anacostia.

by Stewart Schwartz on Apr 20, 2010 9:58 am • linkreport

Can someone confirm whether or not the House bill has a severability clause? Cheh is saying it doesn't; Dorothy Brizill is saying it does. Anyone have a quick link to the bill?

And the whole House vote is kinda pointless. Utah's at-large seat is likely unconstitutional and they're going to get an extra seat in a year or two after the census is done and they'll have to re-district congressional seat boundaries. The DC seat is also likely unconstitutional. And a gun amendment could be attached to any number of bills, if the pro-Second Amendment groups really want to force the issue.

It was entertaining to see Kwame Brown and Yvette Alexander do a complete flip-flop on their support for the bill once they saw which way the wind was blowing. Now that's a shining example of leadership.

by Fritz on Apr 20, 2010 10:00 am • linkreport

re: Vote in Congress

I hear the concern about the limited power of 1 vote out of 437, but I'm inclined to think that Norton and DC Vote are right to support the bill because:

(1) There likely won't be another opportunity in a very long time, given Democratic losses this Nov;
(2) On close legislation, like health care, individual votes have more leverage;
(3) The drop in crime over the past 2 decades would probably have happened regardless of our gun laws.

by Ken Archer on Apr 20, 2010 10:23 am • linkreport

I am in favor of keeping the gun laws. Not because I believe that gun laws keep guns away from criminals, but because gun laws are routinely used to ensure criminal convictions.

For example, it may be difficult for the U.S. Attorneys to actually convict someone of assault or robbery, which oftentimes relies on shaky eyewitness testimony, etc. However, when the MPD arrests someone in connection to a crime, many times the suspect has in his or her possession an illegal weapon. In those instances, it's often the gun charges that stick and send criminals to prison.

So no, I don't think that anyone is naive enough to believe that by making guns illegal that guns will disappear, but gun laws do help keep more criminals off the streets. I think that is something worth protecting.

by Adam L on Apr 20, 2010 11:25 am • linkreport

All the people lining up against this deal do realize that if it fails the Republicans (and conservative Democrats) in Congress are just going to keep attaching the guns amendment to other bills until it passes, right? Giving up DC's only real chance of getting representation in the near future is not going to preserve the (probably unconstitutional, anyway) gun laws for more than a few months anyway.

by Jacob on Apr 20, 2010 11:37 am • linkreport

I have nothing but contempt for this whole voting rights thing. If it's morally right for DC residents to have a vote in Congress, then it shouldn't be held hostage to partisan politcal demands. Those kind of rights are non-negotiable - nobody else had to kowtow to the petty and insulting demands of obstructionist poltical party to get their unalienable rights - why should we have to - it's the epitome of second class citizenship.

by andy on Apr 20, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

Voting rights is the quintessential grandstanding issue for Democratic politicians at the national and perhaps regional levels. Does anyone know if it has ever come to a vote?

by Jazzy on Apr 20, 2010 11:55 am • linkreport

The constitutionality of DC's gun laws is irrelevant. The important factor is the District's right to pass these laws through their own legislative process and to have their constitutionality judged in a court of law, just like any other legislative body.

by Alex B. on Apr 20, 2010 11:56 am • linkreport

@Alex B.

Do you honestly believe that the supporters of the guns amendment will just drop the issue if the voting rights bill fails? Personally, I believe that the Ensign amendment (or something very similar to it) will be law this time next year no matter what happens to this bill so if Congress is going to stomp on home rule anyway why not take what we can get in return?

by Jacob on Apr 20, 2010 12:05 pm • linkreport

Some house (I think the Senate) has rules about attaching amendments that are germane to the issue. The amendment could go on this bill since it's related, but they can't just tack it on to any old thing.

by David Alpert on Apr 20, 2010 12:11 pm • linkreport

I don't understand the argument that relaxing some of the gun control in DC will make criminal convictions more difficult.

Yes, there are plenty of arrests for carrying a pistol without a license. Sometimes that's the only conviction that can be made because of problems with eyewitnesses, etc.

What I don't understand is arguing that relaxing permitting would make things worse. Even if the District had the same very relaxed laws that Virginia has, you would still need to register for a CCW permit to legally carry a handgun. Do we really think the people arrested for carrying a pistol without a license are all of a sudden going to sign up for CCW permits?

If DC allowed conceal-carry, and had a registration scheme where CCW permit holders had to be photographed/fingerprinted and had to register their handguns, what is the problem? I'm seriously asking this as a real question, I admit there may be something I'm missing here.

by Dave Stroup on Apr 20, 2010 12:14 pm • linkreport

I think it's the reverse, David. The Senate can tack on any ole thing.

by Jazzy on Apr 20, 2010 12:15 pm • linkreport

The constitution says only states can have members of Congress. Period.

DC statehood would only require a simple vote of Congress.

These "ways around the constitution" schemes are political charades.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 20, 2010 2:07 pm • linkreport

@David Alpert,

They can tack it on to any bill even tangentially related to DC (such as any of the federal funding for the District bills) or pass it as a stand alone bill.

by Jacob on Apr 20, 2010 2:44 pm • linkreport

I'm with Jacob on this. Even if the Republicans don't tack it on to something else, eventually they'll be running the show again. And when they do, they'll overturn DC's gun laws. And then we'll have no gun laws and no representative.
To those who say they want to preserve home rule - we don't have home rule. We have fake home rule at the whim of Congress. In fact, the constitutional basis for this law is that it is based on Congress' sweeping and limitless power over the District. I'm afraid we have traded our last best chance in a long time to get something we want for something we can't keep.
Tom, we're never ever ever going to get statehood. We're too small and too Democratic. Even Hawaii only got statehood when it was paired with Republican Alaska. Where is our counterbalance?

by David C on Apr 20, 2010 7:34 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris - the clause in the Constitution you cite contains the same language ("the several States") as the Commerce Clause. Compare:

Article I, Section 2: The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States,

Article I, Section 8: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

I assume that it is also your position that the Commerce Clause doesn't apply to DC?

by dcd on Apr 21, 2010 9:29 am • linkreport

dcd- The Commerce Clause was settled many years ago by cases in a totally different SCOTUS. This one would never stretch membership in Congress to non states.

The only plausible alternative would be a Congress person through Maryland's delegation. For a short while after DC was formed we did have Congressional representation via the Maryland delegation and this might appeal to the "originalists" on the Court. The only practical negative effects would be that in presidential tie votes we'd vote with Maryland and because of "one man one vote" we might have to have some Maryland and DC voters lumped into the same districts.

The fact this isn't being proposed makes me certain the proposal is just for show and to dampen the statehood route which would be simple if the votes are there.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 21, 2010 9:57 am • linkreport

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