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Breakfast links: The security-industrial complex

Photo by ekai on Flickr.
For and against bag checks: The Post editorializes in support of Metro's bag searches; TBD's Dave Jamieson writes an excellent rebuttal, noting, "There are better odds of a terrorist being foiled by a runaway escalator than by a random bag screening."

TSA in trouble with Amtrak: The TSA didn't tell Amtrak that they would take over the Savannah station and screen people exiting trains. Amtrak's police chief was livid, and banned the TSA's VIPR teams from Amtrak until they agree to firm restrictions. (Trains Magazine, Matt')

Don't single out DC's students: A former DCPS DC school student says that targeting DC's public school students with ID cards and electronic curfew on Metro doesn't address the root of the public safety issues in the system. Metro allows children to live and grow up valuing independence and they shouldn't be discouraged from using it. (Post)

"Public space" still private: Discovery is treating their legally required public space in Silver Spring like private property, kicking Dan Reed out of their courtyard yesterday.

Wells, Brown oppose late-night cuts: Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Michael Brown are preparing to veto across-the-board cuts to late-night Metro service if that proposal keeps moving forward. A veto would require the agreement of Gray administration rep Tom Downs, who hasn't taken a clear stand. (Post)

Sulaimon wants Congress involved: Sulaimon Brown hates Vincent Gray so much, he's trying to get Congress involved in local DC affairs. Next, he'll ask Britain to take the US back as colonies? (Post)

Why bike to work?: Now that Bike to Work Day is open for registration, it's time to start thinking about why bike commuting can be an efficient, fun, and healthy way to get around the city. (We Love DC)

Wisconsin Ave Giant could start soon: Despite an appeal of a pretty standard Zoning Commission action by local opponents, the Wisconsin Avenue Giant is moving forward with redevelopment, having told retailers to vacate by the summer. (DCmud)

And...: The Washington Kastles will build a temporary tennis stadium on the grounds of the old Hogates restaurant on the Southwest Waterfront (DCmud) ... Dallas' DART demonstrated a battery-powered hybrid streetcar (Dallas Morning News) ... WTOP is now sensationalizing crime on the Metro, reporting a stabbing "somewhere near the Metro entrance" at Gallery Place.

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 


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I fail to see how WTOP is sensationalizing crime on the Metro. They were reporting where it happened. Nothing more, nothing less.

by JMG on Mar 9, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

RE: banning public school students article.

Great logic. You know, when I was a teenager, I used to be a Klan member and also find gay men and sucker punch them. me and my boys would have a lot of fun and it was a laugh, but luckily I've grown up and don't do that anymore. I do kinda smile, though, when I see kids do it again....

Really, hitting a great taboo. Many older black authority figures just turn a blind eye on these thugs, because, hell, they used to do it themselves and it is all just joshing. Great fun and part of life.

My favorite GGW stat of the month: WMATA rail riders -- 75% white.

by charlie on Mar 9, 2011 9:56 am • linkreport

I'm really happy that the DC City Council (with apologies to Mssrs. Brown and Biddle who weren't with us yet) voted to purchase those overhead wired street cars in 2007 to get a price break. Looking like a fantastically poor financial choice all around.

I say that while I fully support the streetcar project. I'm just amazed at the complete lack of financial or acquisitions knowledge of anyone sitting on the City Council (or the current mayor).

Seriously, how bad is the DC Council's (and the City's political class) investment planning? Metro's been a mess for years, our traffic lights are out of the dark ages, and we're missing bridges that should have been completed 10-15 years ago. Yet everyday, they complain that there aren't enough jobs for poor people. Get a f-ing clue.

Clowns. Complete clowns.

by eb on Mar 9, 2011 10:23 am • linkreport

Yes, I must say I do not find that WTOP is "sensationalizing" news.

I am disappointed the link merited being placed at the bottom of the list rather than at the top.

Frankly, we could do with more attention to improving Metro security. You want to make "Greater Washington" even "Greater?", start by helping people feel safe on the Metro.

by EJ on Mar 9, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

Metro isn't putting a "scarlet letter" on students (good grief!) - students are free to ride metrorail whenever and wherever they want, and act lilke hooligans if they want. However, the SUBSIDIZED passes they receive will allow metro to identify usage patterns of the students. If a student feels this inhibits his or her freedom, he or she is free to pay full fare and ride anonymously. However, if area taxpayers/riders are subsidizing students' trips, we have a right to expect a mininimum standard of behavior - and the right to enforce those standards. Again, if this cramps their styles, students can pay full fair and ride anonymously.

Why should metro subsidize non-school related trips, anyway?

Finally, what are those "larger security problems" he's so worried about? No discussion of them in the piece, other than as a red herring justification to not implement the proposed plan.

by dcd on Mar 9, 2011 10:41 am • linkreport

@JMG and EB

You'd be right except that it's hard to tell if this violence is actually related to Metro. Was there a fight in a Metro train or station that spilled out onto the street? Were those involved even using the system? There's no indication of that in the reporting. In fact, the most significant information is that the area was crowded following the end of the Wizards game at the Verizon Center.

A report from another news outlet said that the attack occurred on the 700 block of H Street NW, which would be across the street from the Metro entrance. If that is the case, one might as well use the headline: "Man stabbed outside Fuddruckers".

by Adam L on Mar 9, 2011 10:48 am • linkreport

Yep. Was just jumping in to say the same thing that DCD is. The proposed action is only being done to make sure that the subsidy is actually being put to its intended use.

If we want to have a discussion about a separate youth fare for Metro, that's an entirely different topic, as the subsidy was never intended to act as such, nor was the "curfew" intended to reduce crime.

by andrew on Mar 9, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

I'm a little confused as to how electronic ID passes is putting a "a scarlet letter on D.C. public school kids, many of whom are black and Latino, to shift the focus from larger security problems."

The violence I see, and it's near daily, is clearly identifiable by the school kids (conventional and charter schools). How do I know this? Because they wear uniforms (I'm looking at you, Washington Math and Science)!

No one is talking about restricting kid's independence and mobility. But part of that is helping these teenagers to develop as adults. Creating an idea that fights, littering, and other anti-social behavior is acceptable does them no favors.

by TimK on Mar 9, 2011 10:59 am • linkreport

We should defund the program that provides the passes and use the money to pay DC Guardian Angels with free farecards. And sticks.

by oboe on Mar 9, 2011 11:02 am • linkreport

This former DCPS student sounds delusional. This is not 1990. It's 2011, where kids seek out people to attack and later post on youtube. Where children attack grown men and lol about it. Where mobs even attack those who try to alert authorities, causing victims all sort of injuries.

These demon seeds need to be dealt with. Hell, when I can sit on the green line and hear "students" talk (as they get off @Archives..hint hint) about how they know they'll get community service because "they mans" did. Houston, we have a problem.

No Mr. FormerDCPS students, these students weren't barely out of the womb during your teenage years.

Tag 'em, ID 'em, Bag 'em. Whatever. Something needs to be done about this tomfoolery.

If you're not in school, you shouldn't receive the subsidy. If you have poor attendance records. You should not receive the subsidy. Hell, they should cut the cards off on weekends altogether and until we witness a mass effort by DCPS students to stall the violence of THEIR peers, then we can revisit.

by HogWash on Mar 9, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

I also want to ditto what dcd said. I also want to point out that Clinton Yates (to my knowledge, no relation to myself) does bring up some good points regarding how the mobility provided to school kids by and large is a good thing, and also that for the most part, we are dealing with a few bad apples and we shouldn't demonize all of them.

by Steven Yates on Mar 9, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

Re: DCPS Student SmarTrip Cards

I agree that if we subsidize these cards, then we (as the taxpaying and fare-paying riders) have the right to at least know the usage pattern of DCPS students and expect civil behavior from them. I'm all for tracking. And these kids are not getting cut off from Metro, that's a ridiculous assertion. I think Clinton Yates' article is a real stretch.

But I don't think they (or us) realize how much their subsidies cost. Does anyone know how much we're subsidizing them? When the GOP wants to cut WMATA funding and there is a budget hole, I'd like to know how much of the overall cost to Metro is in this subsidy.

by dc denizen on Mar 9, 2011 12:11 pm • linkreport

I know this ain't exactly a minority position here, but just to point out to folks who want to treat juvenile offenders with kid gloves: this is why you have to crack down on violent offenders. While the high-profile attacks are always against some middle-class dude on his way home from work, the overwhelming number of victims of juvenile crime are their peers. And they're doubly victimized because the behavior of a miniscule percentage of offenders destroys the community goodwill needed to support programs for the vast majority of non-offenders.

It's a tragedy if we need to process one violent offender out of every 10,000 kids as an adult, but if that's what's needed to give 9,999 kids a chance, then that's what it takes.

Frankly, if you're violently and unprovokedly attacking strangers, you need to be removed from society.

by oboe on Mar 9, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

@dc_denzien: caveat this is from memory, but DC pays half the fare and the students pay the other half. So no money from WMATA.

Not sure if that applies to buses. A lot of thugs on those too.

by charlie on Mar 9, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

re: Metro subsidy for schoolkids. Along the same lines as what dcd said, why not provide a full subsidy to a kid for two trips a day (Metrorail & Metrobus), period? Then the child has to pay for non-school-related trips themselves.
re: WTOP article. The Metro Station is a landmark - I would expect a similar description if something happened in the vicinity of a major landmark like the White House.

by grumpy on Mar 9, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

The Washington Post article on the fight also used the metro stop as landmark, and even included a statement about the fight from a metro spokesperson.

You guys can be waaaaay to sensitive at times.

by Lou on Mar 9, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the info. So if we pay half and the students the other, then are there numbers on our half? The reason I ask is that the students half is a fixed price but our half must be a variable since one student may take 2 trips a day, while another 3, and so on. Do they bill DC at the end of the year for the difference? Just curious how the subsidy works...

by dc denizen on Mar 9, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

According to the WMATA website ( student passes cost $30 a month and are good for unlimited rides within DC. Private school students are also eligible.

My googling doesn't turn up anything about how the rides are paid before beyond the $30.

From my adult commuter perspective, it looks like a really nice deal. However, then I remember that I could have taken the school bus every day for no out of pocket cost in high school. On the other hand, my other transportation costs were far more than $30 a month.

I wonder how the cost of this program compares to what running school buses would for kids who live more than a mile to two miles from their school would.

I also wonder if this is a compromise instead of a youth fare that doesn't subsidize tourists or drop outs. I could see VA and MD not wanting to subsidize a youth fare given that fewer of their students would use it for school because local jurisdictions run school buses.

by Kate on Mar 9, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

oboe: Completely agree.

by eb on Mar 9, 2011 1:45 pm • linkreport

That's a good point, about the yellow school buses that are used in the suburbs, and it may be a great deal for DC to subsidize the student cards as opposed to using yellow school buses (both from the point of view of traffic as well as money). However, they do have designated school Metro buses (for example, the W for wilson, the Ds for deal, and so on) but since they are public, anyone can ride on one (I've taken the W myself even though I'm not a student). And, the student cards are for unlimited trips not just to and from school. So if there is a cost associated with every metro trip, whether bus or train, how much is DC's share? It may be that DC pays a fixed amount too, just like the students, but there is still a "real" cost and I'm wondering if metro makes or loses money on it. And if the latter then who picks up the rest of the tab?

by dc denizen on Mar 9, 2011 2:09 pm • linkreport

The Post editorializes in support of Metro's bag searches; TBD's Dave Jamieson writes an excellent rebuttal

The most astonishing thing about the Post editorial was that, when you strip out all the boogity-boogity terrists-is-scary stuff, they don't even bother to offer anything by way of evidence supporting the argument that bag checks meaningfully address this threat at all.

Of course, they can't. Because they don't. They're just security theater.

by Gee on Mar 9, 2011 3:18 pm • linkreport

Never take anything the WaPO writes seriously- they are NOT a home town newspaper - they are a mouthpiece for transients and those w/o any real knowledge of this city .
As for these thugs on the Metro- they need to be identified and exported to Red China for re-education.
Put them to work in the fields for 5 hours a day- and then make them crack the books for 8 more hours - and let's see how much they want to rampage and complain about "the man" when they return after a few years. Mrs. Mao and her Cultural Revolution needs to come to the Hood. I think that her way of doing things might actually have some application here.
And by all means- let's make the TSA go after these terrorist thugs- identify them, arrest them, and bag them or export them. Cut out this bag search nonsense. That retard / mentally challenged article in the WaPO editorial page justifying the stupid bag searches is just all the more reason to use the WaPO for what it is best used for- A$$WIPE !!!!

by w on Mar 9, 2011 3:54 pm • linkreport

@dc denizen -- Those are all good questions that I couldn't find the answer to easily.

I also wonder if some of the structure of the program is tied to the old model of paper bus passes. Limited numbers of trips and time restriction would have been harder to enforce. However, card readers should be able to enforce things like that if we wanted them to.

by Kate on Mar 9, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport

Why is a crime that happened somewhere in the vicinity of a Metro station necessarily related to Metro? It probably also happened in the vicinity of a parking space or a Chipotle. Does that mean that driving or eating at fast food is dangerous? The WTOP article doesn't show any linkage whatsoever between the crime and what it has to do with Metro or riders, except it gave the piece a headline it knew would draw readers: "Crime on METRO!!!!1!!1"

by Erik Weber on Mar 9, 2011 5:43 pm • linkreport

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