The Quickest Way to Lose My Sympathy

I'm very sympathetic towards labor issues. As a former union member, I witnessed firsthand how important it is to have an organization dedicated solely to looking out for you. My union at the Stop and Shop in South Dennis, UFCW 328, helped me recoup almost $1,000 in back pay that I was unfairly denied. Not bad for a part time seafood clerk.

So if Washington Post production workers haven't received a raise in nearly five years and are in danger of losing their pension, then, yeah, I have their back.

That does not make advertising bombardments ok. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has placed an obnoxious amount of advertisements in various Metro stations. There are over 50 advertisements in the Farragut North station alone. Yeah, I counted. The only way to avoid them is to close your eyes. They're that ubiquitous.

I'm pissed at Metro for even allowing one company or organization to do that to a Metro station. It's so obnoxious that it borders on parody.

And it's not like the advertisements are that effective. I was going to write this post yesterday but I couldn't remember of the name of the website the ads were touting. It's washingtonpostunfair.com. Check it out and see how the Post is screwing over its productions workers.

There, CWA, I linked to your website. I did my part. Now if you'd do me the favor of not renewing your ad buy with Metro, it would be much appreciated.


Pardon the Angioplasty

One of the perks of living in Washington are the weird "celebrity" run-ins. I actually haven't had too many. I've picked up a few weird tibits of information.

I know Pat Buchanan is so declasse that he puts ice cubes in his white wine. I have Maureen Dowd's and Reed Landry's ticket stubs from the Neil Diamond tribute concert they attended last week. I know that Charles Krauthammer uses the fastest wheelchair I've ever seen.

Perhaps my favorite was my run-in with Washington Post columnist and ESPN personality Michael Wilbon. I respect Wilbon greatly. His columns make living in this city just a little easier and for that he has my thanks. He also has my thanks because he once let me cut in line at the Friendship Heights McDonalds. He hadn't decided on his order. After I got my ten nugget meal, Wilbon ordered a Quarter Pounder meal. Hold the pickles and hold the onions.

Unfortunately, you can have only so many Quarter Pounders before it all catches up to you. Monday morning, Wilbon had an angioplasty to clear a blockage in his heart after a minor heart attack.

Mr. Wilbon, you're in my thoughts and prayers. Because if, God forbid, you pass away or aren't healthy enough to work, my days in Washington will become all the more dreary.

And, dude, there's a Subway right across from that McDonald's. Once you're out of the hospital, may I recommend a 6-inch turkey breast sub with apples? I know it isn't as delicious, but I think your fans, and I am obviously a big one, would like to keep you around.


DC's Ivy League

I am proud to announce that my alma mater, American University, has equaled the accomplishments of Harvard, Brown, and Columbia in one important regard. Our endowment? Heavens-to-Betsy, no. Harvard's endowment is, like, equal to Sweden's gross domestic product. Is it the quality of our faculty? The average SAT scores of accepted students? Perhaps a similar ranking from US News and World Report? No, no, and of course not.

American University has equaled those three Ivy League schools in one thing and one thing only: The number of subpoenas issued by the state of New York for taking kickbacks from study abroad programs.

Arrangements between providers and universities are often undisclosed and could limit student options and increase prices, according to The New York Times. The kickbacks could include rebates, free and subsidized travel, unpaid seats on advisory boards, help with back-office services, marketing stipends and other benefits.

Ripping off students is right up AU's alley. This comes as no shock. My years there (2001-2005) were filled with corruption and screwing over the student population in every conceivable way. A good example and personal favorite was the school charging $9+ for a $5 meal at Chick-Fil-A on its meal plan. I'm sure AU students and alumni have plenty of other examples to share in the comments.

I did, however, take glee in this:

The university has not received any explanation of why it was chosen...

Anyone who is familiar with American's demographics know exactly why the university was chosen. The high concentration of New Yorkers at America is so ridiculous that I'm surprised Rudy hasn't campaigned there yet.


What's That Sound?

So, a question to all my readers living in Mount Pleasant. Specifically, those living along 16th street by Park, Lamont, and Irving.

Has anyone else noticed an extremely high pitched whistle going off for an extended period of time? Not like a referee whistle. More like a dog whistle that's just low enough for humans to hear it. Almost like a tea kettle.

Because, Jesus Christ, it's loud and it's annoying. It's getting in the way of my enjoyment of Lifetime movies and Project Runway and that shit won't stand.

(Ed note: By the way, what was up *SPOILER ALERT* with Ricky winning yesterday? What the Hell? A denim tube dress? Ugh. The judges thought that was better than Christian's, dare I say it, fierce motorbiker from Hell or Rami's gorgeous dress with zipper trim? I mean, really? God I hate Ricky and his stupid effing hats. Have a cry and throw yourself off a bridge, you talentless hack.)

If anyone has any idea what it is, please give me a heads-up. I want to know the appropriate place to lodge a complaint; a complaint that will surely go ignored. I suppose I could give the newfangled 3-1-1 a try.


Gross Metro Ads

Dear Washington Sports Club,

Although I think it's great that I'm allowed to join your gym for the low, low initiation fee of $20.08...

Perhaps you could show me the courtesy of not sticking a fat man's horrible crotch lines in my face every morning. You pulled this crap last year, too. I expect better when your initiation rate jumps to $20.09.



So, that $611,000,000.00 price cap on the stadium was, as expected, total bullshit. The cap doesn't include cost overruns pertaining to land acquisition. And guess what! Full-time Dead Man Walking (and part-time D.C. CFO) Natwar Gandhi undervalued the cost of land needed to build the stadium. So we're now up to $654,200,000.00 of taxpayer money. The most expensive stadium in American history has now eclipsed second place (Seattle's SafeCo Field) by considerably over 100 million dollars. Holy shit.

DCist makes an excellent point. Remember when Mayor Anthony Williams was saying that a publicly funded stadium in DC wouldn't require over 400 million dollars? I was freaking out then. That was just too much money to spend on a publicly financed stadium. It's nearly unprecedented.

Look where we are a few years and a few hundred million dollars later.

Mayor Williams and Coucilman Jack Evans, the two morons most responsible for this disaster, should be ashamed of themselves. They have been demoted in my mind from "incompetent businessmen" to "despicable human beings." At what point are you so incompetent that it becomes criminal? I'd like to think we're close. I mean, giving away all of this money when there was no reasonable expectation for the District to get anything in return... why couldn't people figure that out sooner?

Nationals Stadium, which will eventually be given a corporate name where the proceeds will go to the Lerners instead of the city, will be one of the greatest monuments in the city. A monument to the idiocracy we live in today.

Does anyone think the Nationals will even be playing ball in the city in 2028?

Making America's Children Dumberer

Ah, the Smithsonian. One of Washington's greatest treasures. I haven't been since I was in 5th grade, but I remember really digging the Air and Space Museum. The Spirit of St. Louis! The Enola Gay! And space! What kind of fifth grader didn't love outer space!?

Of course, the museum has fallen under some hard times. And no, I don't mean the scandalous tenure of Secretary Lawrence M. Small. I mean the Air and Space Museum clearly doesn't give a shit about accuracy. Which is kind of disappointing from something that is meant to educate.

My beef? They are still referring to Pluto as a planet. (Hat tip to frequent commenter and lady friend "Terri" for catching this.) Pluto's planet designation was stripped 16 months ago. This isn't a small detail. The Smithsonian is disseminating wrong information. Just because something was accurate two years ago doesn't make that the case in the present. And 16 months should be more than enough time to fix this.

Does the National Museum of Natural History still have a brontosaurus display?


Lots of Work Left

Sometimes it's easy to forget living half a mile from Maryland, but the city still has a long, long way to go. One in three children in the District live in poverty. One in three. The city's infant mortality rate and number of adults in foster care both on the rise as well.

I know that's DC's broken education system gets all the press. It's what every mayoral and Council candidate runs on. Fixing the schools. But this should be just as high a priority. Kids aren't going to learn if they're just scraping by.

Councilman Marion Berry (Ward-8) has criticized Mayor Fenty's attitude towards poverty and, shockingly, he has a point.

Barry, who is also chairman of the Committee on Housing and Urban Affairs, chastised Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) for failing to quickly appoint members to the Commission on Poverty, which was established in 2006 and under law was to dissolve two years later.

Fenty, who became mayor last year, didn't nominate residents for the 21-member commission until two weeks ago, Barry said. None of the five residents or the government employee the mayor selected lives in Wards 7 or 8, which have the highest concentration of poverty in the city, Barry said.

Uh, what was Fenty waiting for? Hopefully these new statistics will show him that poverty isn't something he can just put off until later. This is a very real problem. One in three children are in serious trouble. That should be a high priority, don't you think?


SW Revitalization

So Mayor Fenty wants the City Council to spend another $200,000,000.00 of city money to help pay for a billion dollar project to revitalize the Southwest Waterfront. I've never been to Southwest. I hear it's where concrete goes to die. Whatever. I doubt SW needs the money anymore than anything across the Anacostia, but, hey, if it ends up being a profitable venture for the city, so be it.

But it won't be. Because there is no entity I trust less than the District of Columbia when it comes to being careful with money and neighborhood development. Lord knows how they're going to fuck this up but they inevitably will.

"This thing only comes around maybe once in a lifetime. In fact, it's beyond our lifetime. The imprint that we make will be well beyond the next several generations," said Monty Hoffman, CEO of PN Hoffman Development.

I'm sure that's exactly what people were saying when the city decided to level the quadrant and start from scratch. I'm sure city planners and Congress thought that this bold move would last several generations. It lasted two (three if your mom and grandma were slutty).

This Hoffman guy though. He has some nerve. Look at him wax retarded here:

The waterfront is one of several major development projects in the city, which city officials said is not yet feeling the impact of a declining national economy.

"We are the envy of the nation," Hoffman said.

I know Hoffman is speaking in terms of economics, but calling DC the envy of the nation is some kind of stupid. Who would envy us? We're a city that wastes money, has a rising crime rate, has severe economic and unemployment issues, and deals with intense segregation within the city limits. Oh, and the schools suck. And four girls got murdered at least six months ago and we're just now finding about it.

But, hey! Soon we'll have a sweet new hotel on the Potomac. Problems solved!


This is My Worst Day Since Moving to D.C.

I've received a few e-mails about the tragic deaths of Brittany Jacks, Tatianna Jacks, N'kiahFogle, and Aja Fogle. I didn't want to write about it. Once you accept that parents can actually kill their children, you just hope that when it happens that it's a case where it was unpreventable. I hate to use the word "hope" when dealing with four filicides, but that was my reaction once the bodies were found. It's easier to simply have a mother snap than to have a mother snap AND an entire city fail on these four girls. I guess I should have known better. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Nothing happens without some kind of sign or foreshadowing. And D.C. missed all the signs. They missed all the warnings. The mother could have gotten help and these kids could have had their lives spared. But the city failed.

From CNN:

Mayor Adrian Fenty called the lapses "egregious," saying at a news conference that social workers prematurely closed their files on a family that struggled on the fringes since arriving in the city in December 2005.

The parents asked for food stamps and were turned down. They asked for housing assistance and were turned down again, officials said.


Those red flags included reports from a nurse in July 2006 that both parents were substance abusers and that the children were living in a van, the mayor said. The case was closed because the family did not have a fixed address -- the opposite of what should have happened, Fenty said.

Maybe the deaths weren't preventable. Maybe the drug use and mental problems of the mother made all of this tragically inevitable. But we'll never know. What else is there to say?

I admit that sometimes this blog title is misleading. I guess it's because I was always raised to never say "hate." My mother would always tell me that "hate" was always too strong a word. But I honestly think it applies here. Hate. I have nothing but hate right now for D.C. I have nothing but hate for a place that could allow this to happen.

The deaths of four girls once shook the core of the entire nation. In D.C., the deaths of four girls is just another in a long line of mistakes and incompetence. I obviously had nothing to do with this case. I didn't know the family, don't work for a school one of these girls attended or social services. But simply living in the same city where this happened fills me with shame. I am ashamed to be from a place where a family cried for help and no one heeded that call.

UPDATE: Commenter EdTheRed sent me a link to The Washington Post's story. It's even more depressing than the CNN link.


How many of you are familiar with Walbridge Place? I've had some friends move there and it's really a swell street. Low traffic. Nice and quiet. And the row houses are beautiful.

Beautiful, but steep. We're talking twenty steps just to get to the front door. I mean, no big deal for a strapping 24-year-old such as myself. I doubt I'd have such an easy time if I were a nonagenarian.

Well the family of one such disabled nonagenarian wants to build a ramp for him and his disabled octogenarian wife (way to rob the cradle!). They've lived on the street for 47 years. It's their home. But the city won't let them.

Marc Fisher (h/t to DCist) dives into a story that shows you where DC's priorities really are. Historic preservation is prioritized over the health and well-being of its citizens.

"I read your column and said, 'Something is wrong here, and we've got to do something,' " says [Kim] Kendrick, the assistant secretary for fair housing in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. So she wrote to the District's preservation officials. "Generally in matters like this, people respond with answers promptly. Not the District. In this case, we had to issue subpoenas."

I love that District officials can't even be bothered to deal with two of their oldest citizens suffering needlessly. They needed judicial intervention before even bothering with their obvious violation of the Fair Housing Act.

And speaking of the Fair Housing Act:

What Kendrick eventually learned disturbed her even more. "I was real concerned when I heard one of the District officials say that they don't have to follow the Fair Housing Act," she says.

Well guess what, Mr. Idiot District Official. The city does indeed have to follow the Fair Housing Act. I know the row houses are real pretty on this street and if that's important to neighborhood identity, so be it. But it isn't as important as a neighbor being comfortable in his home. Instead, the District's unbelievably cold-hearted refusal to allow a wheelchair ramp has left the two tenants, Cornelius and Mary Lucas, stranded in the basement of their own home. That's where the city's priorities are. Human pain and suffering and the law can all suck a dick. We have property values to consider.


My Eyes Do Not Deceive Me!

You'll never believe this, but The Washington Post is reporting that Metro has failed to reach its service goals. And the problem isn't getting any better! Hurrah!

On-time performance has been declining for the past 17 months; not once did the agency meet its performance benchmark of having 95 percent of all trains run on schedule. On-time performance was worst during the evening rush, when it hovered in the 80 percent range. The steepest drop occurred between July and November, when service disruptions increased 30 percent from the same period the previous year.

Emphasis mine.

I really don't have a point to make other than that there's now confirmation for every single one of my anecdotal complaints I've made over the last two years.

Remember, any time you descend an escalator into the bowels on Metro after a long day of work, there is a one-in-five shot that your train will be significantly late. Even two minutes can turn a relatively comfortable commute into a nightmare. Maybe that's the reason most people in this city seem so distant and grumpy.

So, anyways, it's confirmed that Metro has a success rate of 0%. Color me surprised.

And then there's this:

At the same time, the few hours when trains are not running allow little time for track maintenance and other repairs to be done. That's why such work also takes place almost every weekend and during off-peak hours.

Is this a threat? Because complaining about the "few hours" when the trains aren't running is all sorts of bullshit. Closing any earlier than midnight is not the answer. The fact that there's a three hour difference between last train and last call five nights a week is already irresponsible. Pushing back Metro's operating hours should be the furthest thing from anyone's minds.


While I'm logged into my Blogger account, I might as well post a few follow-up links that are of interest:

It was only yesterday that I posted this slice of misery on to this site. More news regarding Saint Elizabeth's Hospital - home to mentally ill patients and criminally incompetent medical staff - came out this morning. Former Chief Pharmacist Raymond Jackson plead guilty to stealing $95,000 worth of medication from the hospital. The final tally between Jackson and his wife Brenda is estimated to be just under $250,000. I'm just glad that a woman named "Brenda" is finally getting the help she needs.

But, yeah, not a good week for St. E's.

And finally, a Laura Sessions Stepp update. Well, not an update per se, but rather an example of how dangerous her writing is. The website Feministing has been an important resource for me when it comes to keeping track of LSS and her traveling band of "chastity all-stars" and LSS's promotion of the horrible term "gray rape." For an example of why the term "gray rape" is so disgusting, please check out this post. The post comes with a "trigger warning" and for good reason. The story it tells is vile and disgusting. And there's no gray area to be seen.


The Exclamation Point

Remember how the DC Council decided to give Major League Baseball a $611,000,000.00 present with hardly any strings attached? Remember how morons like former Mayor Anthony Williams and Councilman Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) lied to their constituents and said that this money was necessary to keep the Nationals in town? And remember how other jurisdictions that didn't pay contribute a god damned cent get to reap the benefits?

Well, all of that was for the honor of having a historically shitty team play in our fair city. Meanwhile, another historically shitty team is showing everyone exactly how badly we got hosed.

According to a report in Tuesday's St. Petersburg Times, the [Tampa Bay] Rays will not seek state aid for their proposed $450-million stadium on the team's current Spring Training site, Al Lang Field, on the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront.

Whoa. Hold on just one second. You mean a team can build a sweet stadium without a massive government hand-out or tax burden? Because if we had to do this all over again, wouldn't that be the way to go?

And I know the two scenarios are apples and oranges. They're building on land they already own and the ownership situation there isn't nearly as fucked up what the Expos/Nationals had to deal with when they were owned by Major League Baseball. Using private capital and the owners deep pockets to come up with $450 million... WHY DIDN'T WE THINK OF THAT. I assure you, if we were talking about $161,000,000.00 of public money, I would not be harping on this all the freaking time.

Meanwhile, the privately funded At&T Park continues to thrive and the plans for Cisco Field will require no public funds. So, yeah, it can be done.

I'd be willing to support indicting Major League Baseball officials on extortion, but who can blame them? They were negotiating with a group of local politicians that so clearly wanted to be extorted.

(h/t to the excellent site Baseball Musings)

Saint Elizabeth's is a Death Trap

Eleven people died at St. Elizabeth's last year. With DC's history of both poor medical treatment and poor treatment for the mentally ill, it would be crazy not to assume that mismanagement and incompetence contributed to those 11 death.

Lo and behold

In a scathing report on 11 deaths last year at the District's St. Elizabeths Hospital for the mentally ill, an advocacy group for the disabled told city officials yesterday that medical neglect resulted in "needless pain and suffering" for most of the patients "and may well have contributed to deaths from treatable conditions."

This should surprise no one. This is the city where dead fetuses* are treated like compost and retired journalists are allowed to rot in a waiting room with a gaping head wound. You think the city will treat the mentally ill any better?

It's your run of the mill stuff. A patient complains of extreme abdominal pain, nurses don't tell anyone, and the dude dies overnight of, wait for it, gangrene of the bowels.

Or the woman who suffered from Crohn's disease, chronic diarrhea, lung disease, congestive heart failure, leukocytosis, and anemia. You'd think someone in this condition would get extraordinary medical care. Nope. The hospital kept forgetting to give her a daily check-up.

Maybe the victims who were incompetenced to death got off lucky. Because many in the hospital continue to suffer.

In addition to those who died, "other patients also were the victims of staff incompetence," the report says. "One patient mistakenly received an excessive dose of his medication, resulting in a three-month hospitalization. . . . Another patient's medication was discontinued after causing serious side effects, yet it was mistakenly prescribed again.

"A third patient with multiple, serious medical conditions, including late-stage HIV disease, spent up to 25 days in medical isolation without a plan to address the extreme seclusion of being confined to his room," the report says.

Again, no one should be surprised. The District has long been unable to treat the mentally ill with adequate care or compassion. It's indefensible and disgusting. And it's par for the course for this shithole.

*My favorite post ever and my favorite comments ever.


Fenty in Some Trouble

I think that Mayor Fenty's problem is that he's too clever by half. He's clearly an intelligent guy. His work ethic is legendary. Usually intelligence and diligence are enough. But not for Fenty.

Look at how he's handled the proposed school closures. Fenty had a pretty solid mandate after his landslide victories in 2006. But you can not close schools without people getting pissed off. You just can't. People are wary of things that have such a large impact on their own lives and the lives of their children. No matter the benefits of closing 23 public schools, people need to be convinced.

A man of Fenty's skills can do that. This is a man famed for knocking on every door in the District. If he were to take the time and meet with the families affected by this decision, he could win their support. I truly believe he could. But he either doesn't want to or doesn't think he has to. And that cockiness is biting him in the ass.

The people who are against the school closings want to talk to the mayor and D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. They're the ones making the big decisions and they're the audience these parents deserve. For Fenty to schedule a public hearing only to cancel it and replace it with 23 separate hearings is shameful. Fenty and Rhee will not be able to make all 23 hearings. That leaves a bunch of parents and concerned citizens airing their grievances to an audience that can't help them. No different than an ANC meeting. A whole bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.

I imagine the Mayor thought that this would placate his plan's detractors. But to brush off his constituents who have very real concerns is to underestimate an angry electorate. And now those 23 meetings are being boycotted. A boycott that has the support of some Council members. They have a room in the Wilson Building and everything. Good.

I support closing schools with significant under-enrollment issues whether they're in the District or closer to home. But I don't support how Fenty and Rhee have handled this. To mismanage something so important shows some seriously bad management skills and/or some seriously bad priorities. If Mayor Fenty thinks he can placate voters or shove serious reforms down their throats, he is clearly mistaken. It doesn't matter whether his failures are because of his cockiness or his mistaken belief that he can outsmart people. What does matter is that his style is starting to cripple his own administration. He's lost the Council and he's losing the parents. And if he doesn't change, he'll just be another name on the long list of people who have failed in reforming DC's public schools.


Greetings from Seattle

What up haters! James F. here.

Just a quick post for the beautiful Pacific Northwest to let you know I had fun watching the Seahawks dice up the Redskins on Saturday.

What a shame. I thought the Redskins would have had a chance if it wasn't for that hole in their free safety.

OH MY GOD I meant the hole AT free safety. Oooooh, yeah. Sorry. That's a faux pas.




All of this Iowa and New Hampshire talk reminds me of the 2004 DC primary. No, not the real one. The non-binding one. The election held before Iowa's caucus and New Hampshire's primary. City officials wanted to protest our lack of representation by taking away Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation status. Howard Dean won with 43% of the vote.

Well, that didn't work. I wonder how much that silly little faux election cost.

And for a a fantastically bad example of political analysis, check out The Nation's interpretation of the vote that did not matter. I know hindsight is 20/20 and all, but Christ on the cross. This guy wasn't even close.


Setting Aside That I Want DC to Lose This Case...

It's clear to me that the Acting DC Attorney General Peter Nickles is more interested in firing office rivals than winning a case that most in DC think is of the utmost importance to the city. Why else would you fire the attorney handling DC's right to ban handguns only months before he was scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court? Why would you change horses in the middle of a very deep and treacherous stream?

This isn't fighting a parking ticket. This is the Supreme Effing Court. This takes an amount of organization and discipline that many aren't capable of approaching. It's using sources from over 200 years ago to figure out exactly what those 27 words actually mean.

But Nickles didn't care about the biggest case the District has been involved in since my time here. Nickles only cared that Special Counsel Alan B. Morrison was hired by Nickles's long time rival, former Attorney General Linda Singer. When Singer resigned (because Nickels was overstepping his bounds as counsel to Mayor Fenty), Morrison was toast. No matter that there has been widespread and unanimous praise of Morrison's work. That wasn't as important to Nickles as his paranoid and delusional fantasies.

Describing their meeting, Morrison said Nickles asked him whether he "was part of a campaign" to discredit the Fenty administration in the news media after Singer's resignation.

"He hadn't made up his mind who would argue" the Supreme Court case, Morrison said, "but told me it was automatically disqualifying if I was part of a campaign."

Whoaaaa. That is some weird Manchurian Candidate shit right there.

Mayor Fenty supported the firing.

"It is important that he move quickly to build a team and a strategy to maximize our chances of winning this important case."

Well, that team and strategy already happened and the 15,000 word brief they produced was getting rave reviews. So starting over seems to be pretty preposterous. And Georgetown University Law School Professor David C. Vladeck agrees with me.

"This is a case that requires an unusual amount of preparation because one of the issues comes back to, 'What did those folks who wrote the Bill of Rights really mean when they wrote the Second Amendment?' " said Vladeck, who is friends with Morrison. "In addition to needing a good lawyer and appellate advocate, you need someone who has immersed himself in very complex historical sources. Alan has been doing that for two or three months by now. Whoever takes over this case will start many, many, many laps behind where we ought to be."

Office politics have become more important to the people in charge than a law that the Fenty Administration believes protects the safety of District residents. Think about those priorities. Morrison's firing is outrageous. And I'm becoming more and more disillusioned with Mayor Fenty and the advisers that have his ear. How this move can be interpreted as anything but a disaster is beyond me. What were these people thinking?