"It's a Guaranteed Failure"

I know that it can be hard to read long articles on New Year's Eve. Read this anyways.

Budget issues and incompetence have left DC schools with out of control maintenance costs. This has been going on for ten years. Reading shit like this makes me miserable:

At Spingarn Senior High School in Northeast, the Corps put in four new boilers and pipe work in 2001 for about $3.9 million, records show. The units now sit in pools of rusty water, beyond repair.

And that's just one example out of many.

DC has its fair share of defenders. People who claim to love this city. Well, I'd bet those people aren't willing to let their kids go to school here. What a disgrace.



I am going to set the JetBlue corporate offices on fire.

My trip from Dulles to my doorstep only took 22 fucking hours. That included a stay, at my expense, at the Dulles Hilton.

And now here I am at Logan Airport. My flight is delayed, again. And the flight I'm catching in New York City is delayed as well. So, in the span of less than a week, all four JetBlue flights I was scheduled to take have been severely delayed. Fantastic.

Well, I hope everyone else got/gets home in a timely fashion.

Any suggestions on how to kill time in an airport? I mean, there's only so much pizza, Burger King, and Dunkin' Donuts a man can eat.


Merry Christmas, You Turtle Assholes

El Oh El!

I'm willing to bet my alma mater resisted the urge to riot. We act like we've been there before. Even when we haven't since 1927.


To Catch an Officer

Oh dear. Metro Police Officer Kenneth Longerbeam (lol) was arrested on allegations that he tried setting up a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old boy. Longerbeam is 39.

Officer Longerbeam has been on the force for 11 years. In December 2005 he was awarded an achievement medal, which is given to employees who bring great credit to the police department.

Great credit? Can the MPD call backsies?

"Officer Longerbeam is innocent until proven guilty," said Police Chief Cathy Lanier in a statement. "If these allegations are found to be true, Officer Longerbeam's tenure at MPD will certainly be called into question."

Way to go out on a limb there, Chief. If those allegations are found to be true, you're willing to call his employment into question? If I asked my bosses what they'd do if I got caught trying to diddle a 14-year-old, I'm guessing they'd go several degrees beyond an employment review.

The same police department that won't accept people who smoked pot years ago* should probably get their priorities straight. Someone who has smoked pot once in college make better officers than alleged pedophiles. You don't have to have a criminal justice degree for that to be blindingly obvious.

*The MPD now has a tougher employment policy on past marijuana use than a little outfit called the FBI.


Even More Blame to Throw Around!

It's starting to look like Natwar Gandhi is on the way out. Congress refused to approve a massive $92,450 raise for the embattled Chief Financial Officer who played his fiddle while the largest scam in city history was right under his nose. Gandhi keeps firing or asking for the resignations of anyone who failed to catch the scam. Except for himself of course. Looking out for Numero Uno.

But his failure to obtain a 50% increase in pay is a not so subtle hint that it's time for Gandhi to give the private sector a try. That moment can not come soon enough. Gandhi pulled this city up from fiscal embarrassment only to drop us back to square one. Well, to be fair, square two or three. But most of the progress attributed to Gandhi has been wasted.

Meanwhile, the size and scope of the real estate tax scandal keeps getting bigger. The FBI now think this scam dates back to 1990. That encompasses all of Gandhi's time in the city and then some. Jesus Christ, I was only seven years old! This is a pre-"bitch set me up" scandal. This scandal pre-dates Jamie-Lynn Spears.

The city's failures never cease to amaze me. This is shameful.


That'll Show Em!

Man does it suck that DC doesn't get Congressional representation. I mean, we've tried everything. Protests. Putting silly slogans on our license plates. What's left to be done?

Oh, right. Dumping leaves into the Potomac.

I mean, call me a fuddy-duddy, but this all seems like too much too soon. Is exercising our right to vote really worth rocking the boat this violently? Have we finally gone too far?


Metro Fare Hike

I have no problem with the Metro fare hikes. No, really. They don't really affect me personally since I can just wake up ten minutes earlier and take the bus. I imagine commuters who park-and-ride may feel differently. Well, someone had to get hosed. Might as well be the people who can afford cars.

And the thing is, we may all end up saving money in the long run. How? Well, Metro gave itself way too much credit and dropped this bombshell:

...the board adopted a suggestion by Maryland board member Gordon Linton to consider refunds to customers when service does not meet certain criteria. Metro staff members have been directed to recommend a specific service guarantee policy.

We all know a guarantee makes a man feel good. But what exactly will the Guarantee Fairy drop behind our pillows? Here are my suggestions:

1. Stop charging people who enter the gates and immediately leave. This policy is stupid. I shouldn't have to pay $1.35 to enter and gate and immediately leave when I notice the clusterfuck at the bottom of the escalators.

2. Issue a refund if an unreported elevator outage forces a disabled passenger to travel to a different stop. This should be a no-brainer.

3. You know how Metro estimates the time of travel between two stops? Well, if your trip takes 15 minutes longer than advertised, that trip should be free. This will probably cripple Metro since they are unable to maintain anything close to resembling consistent service, but a man can dream.

If they start offering refunds for these little disasters, I'll be pleased. This guarantee might be the start of something good.



Who am I kidding? It'll still be the same old shit.


Work Annoyances

Without being too specific, let me tell you a little about the building where my office is. One notable feature is that it has stairs.

That's right, folks. Stairs!

So I'd like to send a warm holiday message to all of the assholes who use the elevators to travel one fucking floor:


It's not like these people are in bad health or anything. They're just lazy assholes.

And I know that this isn't DC related or anything, but these people need to be stopped at all costs. I hope next time a group of these fuckers make their little one floor sojourn that the building sets on fire and they get stuck. There'll be less human traffic when I run down the stairs to safety. No one will miss them.

OK. Rant off.

Let's finish with something a little more hopeful. I voted for Anacostia today. Did you?


I Still hate the WMATA

I kind of stopped writing about the Metro since, well, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. But the last 24 hours have kind of represented every single thing I hate about public transportation.

1. Monday morning, 8:30am. Friendship Heights. In the middle of rush hour, the next train isn't scheduled to arrive for another six minutes. Great. That means either I miss the train because it's already packed or I get to smash myself in the train like a sardine.

But, no! There is a third option! When the train was two minutes away, it disappeared off the board. When it reappeared, it did so as a dreaded "No Passengers" train. A people train wouldn't arrive for, you guessed it, another six minutes. Fifteen minutes and three trains later I finally got on a train with enough room for me to stand.

2. Monday night, 9:30pm. Woodley Park-slash-Adams Morgan-slash-National Zoo. After catching a screening of Juno in Bethesda, I headed to Woodley Park. In typical Metro fashion, one of the escalators was down. But as long as two were operational, no harm, no foul. Right?

Well, unless both escalators are moving the same fucking direction. And that direction is not up. Ugh. I remember complaining about the Tenley escalators being down for a week and people mocking me for getting tired on the way up.

Well, the Woodley Park escalators are way worse than Tenley's. That death march to above ground sucked. I felt bad for the older Metro riders who had to take breaks on the way up.

3. Tuesday morning, 8:30am. 16th Street. Alright, 16th Street! That means no subway. Just a bus that comes every five minutes. Except when it doesn't. And then the next one doesn't either. What the Hell? Finally, after a 15 minute wait, not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR buses pull up. FOUR BUSES! Naturally, two were packed and the other two were empty. What a startlingly inefficient way to get people to work.

So, in case you were wondering, the Metro is still a piece of shit.


More Money Out the Door

I complain about the stadium deal an awful lot. I mean, $611,000,000 of public money is an unprecedented amount of moolah to spend on a baseball stadium. And who knows if it will revitalize the Anacostia waterfront. But maybe I should give it a break. I mean, it's an unacceptable amount of money, but at least we're getting something tangible in return.

The same can't be said for the estimated $44,000,000 we lost through fraud. That money went to Bentleys and Louis Vuitton handbags. And the same can be said for the estimated $17,000,000 we lost through managerial incompetence. That's how much money the D.C. Inspector General thinks we lost when the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement started offering no-bid contracts to the company that processes our traffic tickets.

We've been using this company, ACS State and Local Solutions, for 23 years. So, I guess out of loyalty?, they named their price and we gave it to them. No questions asked.

Worse yet, the contracts were granted without the consent of the DC Council. This is a no-no. The DC Council has to approve city contracts over one millions dollars. So, beyond being merely wasteful, this also fails the smell test.

[Chief Procurement Officer David P.] Gragan was appointed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in June. The principal contracting officer involved with the sole-source contract awarded to ACS is no longer employed by the District, Gragan said.

Hmmm. Since everyone involved in the tax fraud fiasco is going up the river, can we expect the same for our unnamed contracting officer? If he (or she) wasted $17,000,000 out of incompetence, shouldn't he be incarcerated for that? There is no way anyone can convince me that these contracts were awarded in good faith. At best it was incompetence. At worst, malfeasance. Both possibilities should end up with the cotnracting officer having to answer to a criminal court.

Regardless, I am sick of hearing about the ways this city can, for all intents and purposes, set money on fire.


Vehicular Homicide

So a Metrobus in Rockville hit and killed a man named Tao Sun. He reportedly was jaywalking outside of a crosswalk (redundant, I know). That sucks and all, but an accident is an accident. These things happen. Especially when you're running across a parkway.

Except, of course, those preliminary reports were incorrect. Sun was indeed in the middle of a crosswalk when he was struck and killed.

This shit never happens to the Maryland Ride-On buses, by the way. Metrobuses are almost always responsible for the killing. Why is that? Does DC just have the touch of death?

Which brings me to the news that former Metrobus driver Victor Kolako was sentenced to one year in jail for killing two pedestrians who had the right of way on Pennsylvania Avenue.

I don't know how long this has been available or if I'm the last to see this, but this "accident" happened outside The National Archives Building. Meaning, there's video.

And here it is.

That link will take you to a warning page that has a link directly to the video. Now, despite the warning, it isn't particularly graphic. It is particularly unsettling. These deaths should never have happened. One year in jail is not enough.

The husband of one of the victims is suing the city for $50,000,000.00. He deserves every last cent.


Link Dumping is Easier Than Writing

I don't really know enough about NAFTA to formulate an opinion on it one way or another. I don't think I'm alone here. It's pretty difficult terrain.

So I read today's Washington Post editorial criticizing Democrat candidates for denouncing NAFTA with an open mind. Maybe I'll learn something!

Oh, silly me.

The American Prospect
(h/t Ezra Klein) rips the piece to shreds. It's absolutely shameful. The piece fails to adjust for inflation when looking at Mexico's economic growth. This is indescribably crazy. (Shame on me for not immediately catching this.) Worse yet, this goes beyond incompetence of the Post's editorial board. This is dishonesty.

As Ezra points out, "remarkably the editorial gets worse from there, cherrypicking poverty statistics, ignoring GDP growth, sidestepping distribution, and so on, and so forth."

Now, I don't really care about NAFTA. I mean, I care about the American worker and all that jazz, but NAFTA doesn't fire me up as much as it should. If NAFTA supporters and detractors want to go at it in the comments, by all means go nuts. My issue is with a newspaper with a national presence being so irresponsible and resorting to a variety of half-truths. I'd almost prefer they go back to writing about eagles.

Oh For Chrissakes


(h/t DCist)