DC's Baptism By Fire

With the 2006 Washington mayoral race coming up, The Washington Post has taken the time to profile the five major candidates. (Yes, I know this came out in February, but I just noticed it yesterday.) Right now, by the way, I'm leaning Cropp. Though I have been hearing excellent things about Johns.

The profiles are pretty standard and apolitical. Instead of asking what they think of creeping gentrification, parking issues, or the baseball deal/sham, the Post asks questions like "What's your favorite book?" I find these little "get to know your candidate" questionnaires to be totally useless, but let's work with what we've got.

By the far the best question on whatever form all these candidates filled out is "Crime victim?" Every single person running for office has been burglarized or had their car stolen. What a city!

I wonder what would happen if someone had answered, "Though I am acutely aware of the criminal elements of Washington, I have not personally been the victim of any crime." Would an answer like that be used against the candidate? Would it hurt them politically? Is that what happens when the crime victims outnumber the non-victims?

I'm just stunned that five well-off and well-connected individuals can all be victims of crime. Five is obviously a small sample size, but the 100% crime victim rate presented here is out of control. I just don't see how someone can defend this city as a good place to live when crime is this much of a problem. And don't tell me that it's the price to pay for urban living. My friends in Boston and New York all seem to be doing a pretty good job of not having their car stolen.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I personally have not been victimized in DC. However, my office building keeps getting broken into, so it's not like my stuff isn't at risk.)

To Washington's credit, crime is decreasing (and being pushed into Prince George's County). And, I'll admit, city crime is inevitable. It happens. It's when it happens to almost everybody that people should take notice. Can you imagine a presidential election where all four or five major candidates have been mugged?


  1. Will you comment on why you are supporting Cropp or Johns?

  2. Nope. That will probably be its own post and I will probably do a lot more research.

  3. AnonymousMay 15, 2006

    I'd imagine to see campaign signs that read...

    "Vote Johns! Stabbed more than any other candidate!"

    "Crupp: Mother, councilwoman, SE rape victim."

  4. Mrs. Cruz, 3rd grade grammar teacherMay 15, 2006

    I believe your first paragraph is missing a period and close parentheses. Please try to set a better example to the kids.

  5. The close paren is there. I'll add the period.

  6. AnonymousMay 15, 2006

    I know of very few people who have not been a victim of crime and they live all over the country.

    I would like to know how long they've lived in NY and just where they live that they have never been robbed or had som sort of crime comitted against them.

    As for the car thing in NY, just how many people do you know that drive in NY. The only ones I know actually live in Jersey.

  7. Excellent point. Grand theft auto should not apply to New Yorkers since none of them own cars.

  8. AnonymousMay 15, 2006

    Rusty, thanks for the insight into why you didn't hack it on the hill; your logic is terrible. Comparing the experience of 5 mayoral candidates, none of them living west of 16th St. NW (I think) to the experience of your friends in Boston and NY is ridiculous. Granted this is a blog and not a research paper, but come on.

  9. According to the site I linked to, Michael Brown lives in Chevy Chase and Marie Johns lives in Spring Valley. Those are considered excellent neighborhoods.

    Even if they all lived in Southeast, how could someone defend a city where everyone in a certain area is a victim.

    I couldn't handle the Hill because I couldn't handle the people. The work was easy.

  10. I don't understand the white liberal fascination with Adrian Fenty.

  11. AnonymousMay 15, 2006

    Really, answering phones and shuffling paper on Capitol Hill was easy?

    Lemme guess, you'll also be supporting Hillary Clinton for president. Or would that be Jesse Jackson?

  12. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    I lived right smack in the middle of the Bronx, AND I had a car, and nothing ever happened to me or my car. And i lived there for four years. That's not to say nothing bad ever happened to people I knew, or just random people who lived around me. I think it's more about an attitude...if you are an arrogant prick, you just give people a reason to mug/rob/attack/carjack you. Maybe there is such a high crime rate down here because everyone is an arrogant prick.

  13. My gf lived at 17th & Euclid NW... right across from that sweet-ass-sweet crack house. Anyhow, a few weeks after she moved out 4 out of 11 of her roommates were mugged right outside of their house around 8pm, one kid got robbed of his jacket, backpack, wallet, AND the 12 pack of beer he was carrying... he wasn't even left with a single drop of alcohol to drown his sorrows in. I also have 2 other friends that were both mugged twice on that corner (usually there are construction lights placed at that corner b/c so many people get mugged there). I lived in SW in a new condo complex where they had security patrols starting at dusk & there were still car break in's weekly. I guess its my fault for renting a place 2 blocks from Section 8 housing. No wonder I moved back to Boston! I do miss Adams Morgan & its debauchery though. :(

  14. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    Listen: Crime is part of the reason people move to a city ... it's life on the edge, it's excitement, it's violence ... you don't get that stuff in Bethesda or Great Falls.

  15. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    I work on the hill, and I hear where Rusty is comming from. The work is unbelievably simple. You don't have to be an expert... there's lobbyists, legal counsel, and congressional reserach experts to turn to. But staffers and K Street still make a big deal about hill experienece. The only thing worse than navigating the egos of staff is weathering the egos of members. Imagine being stuck on the floor at 8pm listening to a hour long sepeech on a senator's wife-- who the fuck cares??!!! No matter what they say, nobody who works on the hill is truly happy... it might have to do with the limited time you can request off, or the crappy pay, or witnessing the decay of American government from the inside out.
    Either way, don't act like Rsuty is a failure for leaving... he's a better human being for it.

  16. Big Swinging DMay 16, 2006

    I should be resting on Rusty's forehead.

  17. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    I get frustrated trying to make comparisons based on anecdotal evidence. So what city really takes the cake for victimizing its own citizens?

    I pulled some data from DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics for Boston, NY, and DC for 2004. NY faired the best by far, so we’ll just compare DC to Boston. The aggregate violent crime rate and property crime rates saw a photo finish with DC winning in violent crime rates (1325 v. 1192) and Boston beating out DC for property crime rates (4671 v. 4667). I think by virtue of violent crime being more serious than property crime, and the fact that Boston’s property crime rate was only 4 higher than DC’s, we can say DC is the more criminally inclined city. It should be noted that Boston had a substantially higher rate of forcible rape, aggregated assault, burglary, and larceny-theft. DC took gold in everything else, its most sizable leads coming in motor vehicle theft (1429 v. 866 (B) v. 250 (NY)) and murder (36 v. 11 (B) v. 7 (NY)).

  18. I bet Menino was never mugged.

  19. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    based solely on the stupid post profiles who would you vote for?

    I have to go for Brown. seems like my kind of guy...

  20. Based on nothing but the profile, Johns. I loved the gratuitious Bible reference. Also, her being sad that she didn't have many kids has made my biological clock start ticking.

  21. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    what about Fenty? "knocking on doors" that made me want to knock on his face....

  22. Adrian Fenty lives in Crestwood, a neighborhood east of Rock Creek Park but west of 16th St. As far as getting mugged, living in Columbia Heights is a surefire way to increase your chances BTW.

  23. how's this for a victim of crime. TWO WHOLE FUCKING SEPERATE people decided to MAKE CHANGE out of my TIP CUP at work today. hows THAT for crime? does that qualify me for some sort of electoral position? to make the point: to be a victim of crime is awfully vague. every time your tax dollars pay for the immunization of a child dropped this side of the border, you're a victim of crime, technically. that and who the billybobthortonandangelinajolie actually PUTS THEIR FILTHY PAWS IN A TIP CUP???

  24. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    Re the crime numbers from DC vs. Boston...since Boston's population is much higher than DC's, I'd say the near equality in numbers puts DC way above Boston in per capita crime.

    I think we're supposed to get immune to crime after it's happened so many times to us (like the 2 times my car's been broken into in 4 years, the 3 hit-and-runs on it and the 2 hit-and-runs on my husband's car). However, I get even more angry every time. Which is why I'm MOVING. In 4 weeks! Just enough time for some idiot crack head to actually set it (or me) on fire, unfortunately.

  25. AnonymousMay 17, 2006

    "Boston's population is much higher than DC's"

    It Is?


    Boston: 589,141
    Washington: 572,059

    I really dont think 17,000 qualifies as "much higher."

  26. No way Menino was ever mugged.

  27. Boston prides itself on being one of the most livable cities in America. 20 diverse neighborhoods offer more than 600,000 residents the opportunity to taste, touch, and experience things from all over the world. Neighbors benefit from exceptional medical facilities, vibrant neighborhood business districts, and a solid network of parks, community centers, and libraries. Former U.S. President Clinton has called Boston a nationwide model in crime prevention, and Boston's schools continue to grow stronger each year.

  28. AnonymousMay 17, 2006

    Boston has a bunch of stupid tunnels.

  29. AnonymousMay 17, 2006

    If Boston is so great, then why does everyone from Mass. move to DC?

  30. AnonymousMay 17, 2006

    Sadly, the whole crime victim thing is the council candidates way of proving they are "black enough" to be mayor of DC.

  31. AnonymousMay 17, 2006

    I think I spoke too quckly about Linda Cropp. Actually read something about her today and she sounded pretty damn good, Rusty. A Target in Columbia Heights? I lived in Adams Morgan a half-dozen years ago and carried a weapon to feel safe.

  32. Ok, my first comment is completely ON topic as it literally addresses your blog in its entirety, to wit: (the 8th grade version) "Well, if you hate DC and love Mass., why not just move back to Mass? No perjorative or sneery turn on it, I mean, Im realy just curious? Tied to a house, job, person, house arrest? (Oh, and the version I simply cant resist [and why should I really?], the 1st grade version: "If you love Mass. so much why dont you just marry it then???").
    Second comment, more narrow in its focus, in response to the 'all 5 mayoral candidates have been mugged' thing, well, I dont really care at al, but for arguments and curiosities sake, ask yourself when? Back in the Bad Old Days when crack ruled the world and crime was its ever-present evil hand-bitch? Or recently? When they (the candidates) have perhaps become more affluent and therefor muggable' (not that they were askin fer it in them thar short skirts or nuthin')?
    Now onto comments on comments within your blog, and therefor still on topic, though not addresses to you per se: to the twit squabbling about the pop. of DC vs. Boston ref stats --> Im certain that the nice folks who rsearch and print those books of crime statistics have already surmounted that hurdle and are in fact, presenting their stats in laterally congruous and therefor relevant numbers.
    And lastly, to you Rusty yourself, still connected to you the blogger of said blog, and therefor, still on topic, though in a notably Goedelian fashion, n'est pas?: Though your moniker would have put me off standing on its own (I didnt fully realize it for quite some time) I linked to you accidentally in my Netwanderings through an unlikly path starting hours ago with me trying to find the addy of Busboys & Poets. I think I have now read your entire blog, and I disagree with the unspoken premise that DC sucks, by virtue of you hating it. That said, I wanted you to know that I have literaly laughed out loud, thought, linked, and really enjoyed myself.
    Ill be back, even if only to disagree agreeably.
    Oh, and since you enjoy so sounding off in the negative but clearly have real live freinds and a NON Cyber life, sooo, where DO you think is tolerable or better to hang out? Again, just curious what might meet the expectations of one so picky.

  33. Speaking of crime by the candidates, how about Councilmember Marion Barry getting robbed by locals who knew him and someone stealing the chief of police's car in front of his pad?

  34. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    Listen: Crime is part of the reason people move to a city ... it's life on the edge, it's excitement, it's violence
    Um no. I've lived here all of my life and I'm used to and still kind of love this city. I accept that these things go on in higher volumes in the city but it most certainly not why I stay here.

    The comment about arrogance being why you're robbed is pretty idiotic. Robbers don't say to themselves, "Look at that arrogant guy I think I'll rob him." They think he or she is alone and there isn't much of a crowd so I'm going to go for it.