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Afternoon links: DC gets no respect


Photo by Industriarts on Flickr.
Chaffetz wants to rule your life: If Republicans take over Congress, Jason Chaffetz from Utah will run the DC oversight committee in the House. He wants to ensure DC never gets a vote in Congress (but would retrocede it to Maryland) and loves to micromanage city affairs. (City Paper)

Rosslyn's tallest building, you mean: A New York-based developer is about to begin constructing "D.C.'s tallest building" to reach 30 stories. How can such a building violate DC's Height Act? It turns out that "D.C.'s tallest building" will be in Rosslyn. (Post, Eric Fidler) ... Is this like National Harbor advertising conferences in DC, only to disappoint attendees when they learn they can't hop over to the museums between sessions?

A greener, more walkable 14th Street: DDOT presented conceptual designs for 14th Street last night, including wide sidewalks, lots of trees, bulb-outs, and three "focus areas" with different thematic designs. We'll have more on this soon as well. (TBD)

Bye bye bottles (on campuses): Several universities and colleges, including American University, are considering banning or limiting the sale of bottled water. The move puts colleges at odds with the food industry as well as questions the quality of our general drinking water. (Chronicle of Higher Education, Lynda)

Before there were bike lanes: There were streetcars. This photo of Pennsylvania Avenue shows America's Main Street as it was in the early twentieth century. (Shorpy, Eric Fidler)

1 year and counting on transpo bill: As of today, Transportation For America's online clock shows that it's been a full year since the federal transportation bill expired, with still no movement in sight on a new bill. (Transportation For America, Stephen Miller)

Avoid biased language: If you haven't seen Palm Beach, Florida's 1996 neutral language policy, it's worth a read. (Human Transit, BeyondDC)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. 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 loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Outside of increased taxes and the headaches of beer/wine sales, what downsides would retrocession bring? I'm sure giving Montgomery County the rights to operate DCPS would increase their quality in a heartbeat and being a part of the state would only help DC's problems be met.

Even then, Chaffetz scares me especially since Utah might as well be Neptune to those in DC. Why anyone hasn't explored DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Montgomery, and Prince George's making their own state amazes me since it makes so much logistical sense. Of course, Annapolis/Richmond would fight it lest they lose their ATM's and I'd think Loudoun would have to lose their part of Dulles, but it's the best for all involved.

by Jason on Sep 30, 2010 3:52 pm • linkreport

DC needs to repeal the height restrictions in Anacostia and bring down rents in DC.

by Redline SOS on Sep 30, 2010 4:08 pm • linkreport

Your best counter offense to fight retrocession is to tell all your MD friends to vote Republican. There is no way a MD Republican Governor nor will a Republican state assembly allow the retrocession and the addition of a several hundred thousand Democrats to the voter rolls.

by RJ on Sep 30, 2010 4:10 pm • linkreport

Damn that City Paper article is depressing.

The biggest opponents of retrocession are Maryland's politicians -- both Democratic and Republican. (Barbara Mikulski HATES the idea.) It would completely upend state politics and drain power from the Eastern Shore and the western part of the state. It's just a diversion by non-serious politicians to distract from the fact that there are 700 thousand Americans who don't have full democracy.

by B on Sep 30, 2010 4:15 pm • linkreport

I'm ok with DC never having a vote in Congress. What kind of city reelects a known crackhead?

by Brad on Sep 30, 2010 4:18 pm • linkreport

Chaffetz's idea for Maryland retrocession is probably no more legal than DC's congressional voting rights idea.

And it's pretty pathetic that he thinks he understands DC because he's been to several Five Guys and both Matchbox restaurants.

by Fritz on Sep 30, 2010 4:20 pm • linkreport

What's the problem with the retrocession plan? I mean, besides that Maryland won't go for it and the DC power-elite won't settle for it. But it's not unconstitutional-it's what Arlington County/Alexandria did in the 1840s.

by ah on Sep 30, 2010 4:43 pm • linkreport

Hey, check out the street car without overhead wires!

by ah on Sep 30, 2010 4:44 pm • linkreport

I'm ok with DC never having a vote in Congress. What kind of city reelects a known crackhead?

Well, if we're going to withhold the vote from folks with poor political judgement, we may as well just go ahead disenfranchise the entire southeast.

by oboe on Sep 30, 2010 5:04 pm • linkreport

I'm personally a fan of statehood. The best part is that it doesn't require a constitutional amendment. The constitution says Congress has the power to have a federal district, but it doesn't say they have to have one.

And we'd have the house and senate representation, we'd have the power to have a commuter tax, Congress wouldn't be able to control us ...

by Tim on Sep 30, 2010 5:09 pm • linkreport

I thought it interesting that Gingrich cited "gentrification" as a policy.

by spookiness on Sep 30, 2010 5:12 pm • linkreport

What is it with New Yorkers and ever-broader definitions of "DC"? First with "Real Housewives", now this...?

by J.D. Hammond on Sep 30, 2010 5:24 pm • linkreport

I demand the retro-retro-cession of Arlington and Alexandria back into DC!

by tom veil on Sep 30, 2010 5:25 pm • linkreport

There is a city called DC and a metro area called DC. The article is obviously referring to the metro area.

by Madison on Sep 30, 2010 5:28 pm • linkreport

From Rosslyn you can hop on the Metrorail, Metrobus, or Circulator and be in DC within minutes. From National Harbor, your only option besides driving would be to take the ferry to Alexandria, and that's still not DC. I really wish there would be better transit options for National Harbor, but comparing it to Rosslyn is a little absurd.

by Teyo on Sep 30, 2010 5:43 pm • linkreport

i really do hope that someone sticks up for bikes on 14th -- and that means, in part, nixing the pedestrian bulb-outs, which are an anti-pattern that should be taken out wherever they exist, and prevented from going in wherever they're planned.

i'm down with 'A greener, more walkable 14th Street', but i'd prefer 'A greener, more walkable, more bikable 14th Street'.

a 5-foot wide bike lane, without a buffer even, much less physical separation/barrier, is not going to allow normal people to ride their bikes on 14th, even if it does technically meet the definition of 'making 14th more bikable'.

Two lanes of auto traffic moving directly adjacent to the bike lane in the same direction will increase/induce auto speeds like it was a one-way street -- the result everywhere is terror-inducing speeds -- 14th will be no different.

you can put the bike lanes there, but the theoretical cyclists will never be there -- it won't be a pleasant place to ride because it will never feel safe -- instead, provide full-on cycletracks directly adjacent/on the sidewalk, then put the trees, then the car parking, then all four auto lanes if you actually need for. then, if you really want the pedestrian bulb-outs, you can still have them, and you can have them without short-changing cyclists.

even better, cut the four lanes of traffic down to three -- one lane in either direction, and a turn lane -- this is the _only_ way to achieve a civilized streetscape, as two auto lanes next to each other, moving in the same direction, will _always_ create/induce high speeds and incredible noise -- making sidewalk life untenable, killing outdoor cafe possibilities, etc.

and _no_ raised medians! not even if their landscaped with nature band-aids! protect walkers! protect cyclists! then do whatever else you want to do. Listen to Jan Gehl.

if you want 14th Street to be better -- actually better -- then do this, in honor, of me. :)

that's my churchy coming back.

by Peter Smith on Sep 30, 2010 5:46 pm • linkreport

Comparing Rosslyn to National Harbor might be a bit of a stretch, but the general point still stands. The fact that both areas advertise themselves by being close to DC just shows that their actual locations are less than desirable. And even though Rosslyn may be "minutes" from DC, it's still a much bigger pain to get into the city core than if you were located there to begin with.

by dcres on Sep 30, 2010 6:33 pm • linkreport

DC should be a part of Utah.

by Bossi on Sep 30, 2010 8:04 pm • linkreport

No reason it couldn't be, but we'd have to get used to bigamy instead of gay marriage.

by ah on Sep 30, 2010 8:42 pm • linkreport

The thing that steams me is all of Chaffetz's smarmy meddling is going to play well with the folks back in Utah. Creep.

by DavidDuck on Sep 30, 2010 9:31 pm • linkreport

Most of the space on PA avenue in the photo has been taken over the the Department of Justice and it's related organiztion the FBI. Dare we consider this an early invasion of Homeland Security? Do you feel safer now?

by Tour guide on Sep 30, 2010 9:52 pm • linkreport

"I'm ok with DC never having a vote in Congress. What kind of city reelects a known crackhead?"

How about Louisiana electing a "family values" Senator who hires hookers to help him indulge a diaper fetish and has an aide handling women's issues whose an abuser. And how about electing a family values Senator from Nevada who....

by Rich on Sep 30, 2010 10:12 pm • linkreport

Families have values, too... I can get a pretty good price in some markets.

by Bossi on Sep 30, 2010 10:18 pm • linkreport

Democrats have enjoyed a majority in Congress since the '06 elections. A supermajority in Congress with a Democrat President since the '08 elections, and still blame Republicans for their woes. Looks like your friends in Congress didn't think DC 'voting rights' was a priority. Now it's too late. The gavel will pass to the Republicans in the House.

On a brighter note, the Senate will still be majority Democrat after losing only seven seats to the Republicans. Democrats better have a hell of a lame duck session...

K

by Kaleel on Sep 30, 2010 11:35 pm • linkreport

Kaleel, your comment seems off topic. By "woes" do you mean the state of disenfranchisement?

by Tina on Oct 1, 2010 12:14 am • linkreport

@Tina

"If the GOP wins Congress" was part of the headline in the article. But in answer to your question, yes.

K

by Kaleel on Oct 1, 2010 8:19 am • linkreport

Teyo - regarding your comment on the water taxi from Alexandria being the only option to get to National Harbor, that's not true. There are several more options (I've taken 2 of them).

NH1 MetroBus from Branch Ave (Green Line) gets you to National Harbor in 21 mins (if I remember correctly, it cost me about $1.50) Saw lots of other folks on the bus (some workers, but mostly locals getting to NH and tourist coming from NH into DC). Clean, efficient, cheap and relatively safe.

OnBoard Shuttle from Gaylord Hotel takes you directly to Union Station, and then on to Old Post Office. I got to Union Station in 24 mins from hotel. On the return trip (back to hotel from DC) it took aboout 43 mins. Cost was $16 - much better than a taxi.

3rd option (which I didn't take) - Shuttle between Hotel and King Street Metro in Alexandria. $8 according to Concierge. Runs every 30 mins.

Just wanted to clarify for everyone. As I've mentioned, I've taken 2 of these options and they were just fine.

by Kathy on Oct 1, 2010 8:23 am • linkreport

Although retrocession is extreme, the idea of repealing the part of the Organic Act of 1800 that disenfranchised DC residents is not so crazy. Before 1800, DC residents could vote for federal offices as if they were in Maryland. If DC were viewed as part of Maryland for purposes of Congressional representation, Congress could still use its exclusive jurisdiction to gerrymander the Congressional district into following the DC line, so DC would have one voting Congressman with no Constitutional questions. And they could vote for Maryland Senator, ensuring that Maryland continues to be represented by Democrats for the foreseeable future, which is likely anyway.

This would increase the ability of politicans from PG and MoCo to get elected to the Senate, but otherwise the impacts on politics would be minor. Maryland's Senators would probably be ambivalent--they aren't going to be knocked off by a DC area wannabe Senator; but they might lose to a Republican some day so the DC votes would be helpful to them. So they might even vote for it.

by Jim on Oct 1, 2010 9:28 am • linkreport

I am pretty sure non one in MD would want DC as part of the state. First it would insure that the DC area would basicly run the state, no one outside of PG or MoCo would want that. Secondly, I would compare uniting DC and MD with East and West Germany in the early 1990's. MD would end up having to shell out tons of cash improving many of the parts of DC that need work, like the school system for example.

In the long run however it would be better for DC.

by Matt R on Oct 1, 2010 10:00 am • linkreport

@ Matt R I agree. Why on earth would Maryland buy the cow when they get the milk for free? Montgomery and PG subsidize the rest of the state through their proximity to DC, and don't have to deal with all of the problems that come with cities. Retrocession would be a drag on the state's finances, and shift the balance of power from Baltimore to DC. Annapolis is never going to go for that.

Retrocession is a convenient fantasy for politicians who don't want to see DC citizens get the representation we're entitled to. If we're going to indulge in fantasy, I much prefer the fantasy of a 51st state made up of DC and the surrounding VA and MD counties. It would be interesting to see Annapolis and Richmond trying to balance their budgets without having the Bank of DC supporting them.

by jcm on Oct 1, 2010 10:09 am • linkreport

Kaleel: Not to nitpick, but if you're going to criticize a political party at least spell its name correctly. It's the "Democratic Party," not the "Democrat Party."

by Max on Oct 1, 2010 10:34 am • linkreport

Cleary what's missing from the lexicon is a seemingly innocuous slur for the GOP to go along with "Democrat Party." But I'm not sure that there are any. Perhaps everybody needs to do what Max just did--but the slur is so slight that it is below the threshold for correction when spoken on television or radio. Reminds me of the "class warefare" charge which Democrats rarely countered effectively back when "Are you calling me a Communist?" might have been a good retort.

by Jim on Oct 1, 2010 12:17 pm • linkreport

I propose that DC retrocede into Utah (specifically, the 3rd Congressional District.) If Rep. Chaffetz wants to control our local governance it is only fair that we get to vote for (or against) him and I can find nothing in The Constitution prohibiting such a plan.

by Jacob on Oct 1, 2010 12:41 pm • linkreport

I don't find sweeping generalizations, especially when they seem designed to divide, at all helpful to any discussion that aims toward thoughfulness. Thus I found Kaleel's comment "off-topic", i.e. not adding anything thoughtful and designed to be divisive.
@Kaleel -where do you stand on the fact that DC residents are disenfranchised -the GOP members as well as everyone else? Thats the topic.

by Tina on Oct 1, 2010 1:01 pm • linkreport

I'd rather be treated like Puerto Rico and the US territories: No voting representation in Congress, but also no federal taxation.

by Fritz on Oct 1, 2010 1:35 pm • linkreport

Fritz' comment made me wonder... does anyone know where to find data on how much federal $$$ is spent on territories which don't pay federal taxes? Of course, any such data should differentiate between military spending & non-military spending... it's the latter that would be more interesting. My guess is that they'd see considerably less federal investment.

Considering that federal taxes would likely be largely replaced with higher local taxes: keeping money at a local level wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing from a local perspective; but of course there are a myriad of other political issues also at hand. One fun conundrum would be if the "federal city" doesn't pay federal taxes nor receive federal funding. Something that simultaneously makes sense but doesn't make any sense.

by Bossi on Oct 1, 2010 1:41 pm • linkreport

Kaleel: Not to nitpick, but if you're going to criticize a political party at least spell its name correctly. It's the "Democratic Party," not the "Democrat Party."

As @Jim said, this "Democrat (as opposed to 'Democratic') President/Party/whatever" stuff is just typical Republican/GOP language tactics. Immature.

by Peter Smith on Oct 1, 2010 1:43 pm • linkreport

@jcm: I like that someone thinks alike to me, but what I wonder is where you draw the boundaries of this state. I know a hypothetical state would need to include all the counties/independent cities inside the Beltway, but do you let anyone else in. Under this, Charles and St. Mary's counties become practical enclaves and there'd be a big problem with which state would run Dulles Airport as the Fairfax/Loudoun border runs through it.

Another problem with Retrocession: If it happens, I'd put money that the threatened state of Delmarva takes hold which would a) hurt both Maryland and Virginia and b) would be a solid dot of Red in a sea of Blue.

by Jason on Oct 1, 2010 1:46 pm • linkreport

@Bossi; you're never going to completely remove federal taxation; excise taxes (indirectly) but more importantly SS withholdings and medicaid payments by employers.

by charlie on Oct 1, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

@Tina

The article in question is as partisan as they come. My point was that the sky isn't going to fall when a Republican chairs the DC oversight committee. It will be business as usual.

My views on DC voting rights are unimportant. I have other issues that are more pressing to me at this time. I can understand why Congressional representaion is big deal to DC residents but the Demorats have done nothing to help your cause. So who cares if a Republican chairs the committee? The status quo remains. I just thought the article was garbage that's all. I'm tired of Democrats not realizing that they are just as partisan as anyone else.

K

by Kaleel on Oct 1, 2010 3:57 pm • linkreport

"Everybody wants to rule the world." Tears for Fears. I say the more things change, the more they remain the same. Likely, we'll be having the same 'debate' years from now.

by Wellington, DUIAttorney WashDC on Oct 4, 2010 3:21 pm • linkreport

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