9.18.2009

Briefly noted, 'alarming frequency' Friday;

Amid media confusion, Metro reports yet another suicide-by-train. Yesterday a 15-year-old student jumped in front of a Huntington-bound Yellow Line train at the Columbia Heights station. Eyewitness reports at WTOP initially indicated horseplay as a possible cause, saying a group of students were playing "chicken" on the platform. It's unclear how one plays "chicken" on a Metro platform, or even with a Metro train, (it's on rails, it can't swerve), but now Metro Chair Jim Graham has said it is "definitely a suicide." Transit Police are still investigating, but Graham felt the need to clear that up immediately. Today WTOP reports Metro is attempting to curb further suicides, but it's unclear what steps will be taken in the short term. My suggestion? Have an employee on the platform of every station, all day, in a period of time following a suicide. Train the employees in what to look for and how to approach someone who looks like they may be contemplating jumping (see Toronto as an example). There have been nine suicide attempts this year on Metro (7 fatal), up from five attempts and two deaths in 2008. I'll have a longer piece on Metro and suicides next week.

DC Public Libraries getting shafted. As part of Mayor Adrian Fenty's efforts to close a Nationals Stadium-sized budget gap, the library budget has been cut by 11%. This means no more Sunday or holiday hours, and the bookmobile will be put in storage. DC Public Library hopes to keep their main branch, the Martin Luther King Library near Metro Center open on Sundays with the help of volunteers. It could be worse, the Philadelphia Free Library system nearly closed entirely due to budget problems.

Council Chair Vincent Gray slams Fenty. It's showdown time over teachers in the DC Public Schools. Yesterday Fenty and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee announced $40 million in cuts from the DCPS budget. Fenty says the cuts need to happen because of the budget cuts made by the DC Council. Gray disagrees, saying Fenty and Rhee are using this as an excuse to fire union teachers. This is all a bit complicated, but it looks like Gray is on to something here. Mike DeBonis takes a deeper look for the City Paper.

Council of Carpenters again likely using the homeless to protest. There's a picket line outside of the Washington Hilton today, protesting the lack of union carpenters on the worksite. They carry signs proclaiming the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is outraged, and that hiring non-union labor hurts carpenter's wages. Perhaps a fair statement to make. However, it's well documented that the union hires homeless people to picket. The "hired feet" make about $8/hour "protesting" the impact on union wages. Yes, this obviously makes us sympathetic to unions. Perhaps the non-union protesters can protest the union not hiring union protesters.

Finally, if you missed it, Why I Hate DC was featured on the Washingtonian's Capital Comment blog earlier this week. If interested feel free to read a brief profile and interview, and compare them to Rusty's.

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