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

Open thread

Happy New Year!

Between vacations and a few unforeseen circumstances, Greater Greater Washington will be off until Monday. Have a very Happy New Year and don't play real-life Frogger as you navigate the region. This can also be an open thread for any thoughts or news that you'd like to discuss during the New Year's break.
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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A few items of note from this morning:

- Washcycle has a pretty good summary of the proposed South Capitol Street bike trail. I'll have to take a look to see how it lines up with my own idea.

- One of the three people quoted in the recent Examiner article on the 15th St bike lane was apparently mis-quoted, sparking a very angry comment from the business owner.

- Meanwhile, WMATA has coughed up another iPads or $2K in cash as rewards to senior executives.

by Froggie on Dec 30, 2010 10:56 am • linkreport

Seems like the after-hours work and bonuses would not have been necessary if the Board had not dragged out the budget process last year until the absolute last possible day.

Every finance committee meeting I listened to, they spent at least some portion of the meeting discussing how late they were and how much more they could drag the whole thing out without it becoming a total disaster. Meanwhile, the finance staff has to go back and do yet another late-hours analysis of some other scheme.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2010 11:07 am • linkreport

iPads or $2K is not an outrageous bonus for someone doing good work that is saving the organization money. But the media believes that since this is Metro, no one deserves anything ever, no matter how hard they work. Good luck attracting top executive talent when you don’t even minimally recognize hard and effective work.

by RJ on Dec 30, 2010 11:16 am • linkreport

Hard work is recognized with a pay check. Alot of hard workers get nothing above that.


by Kaleel on Dec 30, 2010 12:39 pm • linkreport

@RJ: Agreed. The article discussed how the ATU local 689 president reacted to the bonuses. There's a big difference between giving all employees a pay raise regardless of performance and giving a select few a token of appreciation based on many late nights worked on a difficult project.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2010 12:39 pm • linkreport

@MP -...and someone from Sierra Club said this about the bonuses:
"Who else at the agency goes above and beyond and what do they get for it?" he asked. "It's willy nilly if it can't be consistently applied."

by Tina on Dec 30, 2010 1:30 pm • linkreport

I would not want an iPad as a bonus. I'd prefer cash.

by Jasper on Dec 30, 2010 2:48 pm • linkreport

For a moment I thought the post read "don't play real-life Froggie".

by Bossi on Dec 31, 2010 3:50 am • linkreport

No. You don't wanna play this. >:)

by Froggie on Dec 31, 2010 8:06 am • linkreport

I’m back in DC after having been gone a few months. It’s worse than ever: the displays of wealth and the ugliness of those pre-fab looking buildings. And the chains – so sterile looking – all swept concrete and no trees! Hurray! No trees! And the death of local businesses. Is this what we want our cities to look like? Everyone (in NW) buried in their iPhones, iPods, Blackberries, cut off and disconnected. Is it all about the fastest and richest?(1) Sure appears to be. And, much more brazenly and blatantly so. It seems we have been destroying some kind of essential infrastructure here, by cashing in too quickly – shaking the money tree too precipitously.

Before, it was difficult to raise a family in the city, now it seems impossible. It’s a city for rich people. End of story. One bedroom apartments renting for over $2,000 says it all.

There are more bike-sharing programs, but they’ve come at a time when the city looks uglier than ever – more jersey and other concrete barriers or ballasts, fewer trees (lawsuits?), more cement contraptions in what used to be green space, much much uglier buildings. Loss of scale. Where is the same effort to improve the one true thing that does sustain a truly walkable city, public transportation? This does not seem like a “green” paradise. The federal part of the city has become a monument to security and security firms. Is it the new status symbol? The White House area is so much less attractive than it used to be.

Driving – until the law is changed to hold drivers accountable, cyclists and even pedestrians are not quite safe in the city. Not as safe as they could and should be. When will the laws change?

Meantime, people who live in houses espouse apartments and condos as the way to go. And people who live in apartments know first-hand that without a topnotch building management company, disaster is just around the corner if you are in it for the long haul. Moreover, there is not enough governmental attention paid to people who live in apartment buildings. There’s no recognition of the difference in services that should be provided to house owners and apartment owners and renters. There’s just no awareness period, even though a couple of councilmembers live in apartments. The money, power, and attention go to those living in houses (unless they are to be torn down to benefit a developer). So there’s rhetoric and then there’s reality.

The tipping point will come if people like the participants on this blog stay longer than the average transplant and have families and a desire to educate their children. Then people might know what has been wrought. Maybe. (We are a group that as a whole are far far more insulated than the average DC resident.) Unless the less well off participants on this blog self-select and drop out, if they sense a trend is that this blog is for the haves.

There are tax breaks for all kinds of things, meanwhile funding for one of the social services that has worked, the Green Door, is cut. They must now close. Where was the trickle down? There is none, it’s all BS. Mental health services are totally privatized. Gee, I wonder what’s going on here.

Bureaucrats – sure, DC is home to bureaucrats, but many many among them are fascinating people in themselves, with deep and practical knowledge about something they may do as a hobby. They often give their time to the public in various ways. They contribute to the city. But will this DC breed be able to afford to live here? Or, are we cross breeding, so to speak, for just the wealthiest, most educated, and/or the brightest, and how does this translate into the vibrancy of a city? (2)

(1) See Glenn Close’s opening class lecture in “Heights.”

by Jazzy on Jan 1, 2011 8:06 am • linkreport

BTW: Does anybody know if metro is doing anything at all about the briny layer of slip on the floor of most stations? Stations are nastily slippery!

by Jasper on Jan 2, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy: Yes, it is becoming more and more expensive to live in DC. I think it's more expensive to live in DC because DC is the kind of area that so _many_ people want to live in. Compared to the areas around it, DC... is just nicer. We have nice non-car ways to get around, pretty parks, walkable communities, etc. And it's not fair to blame DC for trying to make itself into a nice place to live. If anyone deserves blame, it's MD and VA. They've pursued sprawl and a car-based lifestyle and all that comes with it. When MD and VA focus on good urbanism and livable communities the way DC has, there will be more nice areas for _everyone_ to live, rich and poor.

by Amber on Jan 2, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

@ Amber: When MD and VA focus on good urbanism and livable communities the way DC has

Rosslyn-Ballston, Pentagon/Crystal City, Old town Alexandria, Tysons in the works, Bethesda, Rockville, I'm sure I'm forgetting somewhere... I don't have the statistics ready, but I'll guess that there are more people living in walkable areas outside the District than inside the District.

Oh, and Fairfax County has the best county parks. In the US. Not DC (which factually has very few parks of its own). Not NYC. Not Miami. Fairfax County.

All I'm saying is that sure DC is nice. But outside the District is not all hell and damnation. Outside of DC has nice pockets as well. Just like DC has terrible neighborhoods without sidewalks (as well as nice neighborhoods with terrible sidewalks).

by Jasper on Jan 2, 2011 7:23 pm • linkreport

@Jasper All I'm saying is that sure DC is nice. But outside the District is not all hell and damnation.

Yes ... and not ALL neighborhoods in DC are 'unaffordable' either. There are lots and lots of neigbhorhoods in DC where it's cheaper to rent or buy a place than it is in the walkable/urban parts of our neighbors in the suburbs ...

by Lance on Jan 2, 2011 10:09 pm • linkreport

@ Lance: Yes ... and not ALL neighborhoods in DC are 'unaffordable' either.

I didn't claim that.

by Jasper on Jan 3, 2011 6:05 pm • linkreport

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