News Bullets, it's so easy Thursday;

If my Twitter is to believed, people are starting to notice that it's getting dark in the mornings. Also, swine flu has hit Capitol Hill and my office. Oh noes! Good thing I purchased that military surplus biohazard suit on eBay back in April. It pays to be prepared, folks.

Who are the taxicab bribery defendants? The City Paper's Jason Cherkis takes a look at those dozens of would-be cab drivers arrested in the bribery scandal. This is a very emotional piece, and tells a compelling story. To summarize, if we are to believe the defendant's stories, they were unwitting pawns in the larger bribery scandal. Those at the top used these people dreaming of being cab drivers to ferry bribes to Taxi Commissioner Leon Swain's office. It seems pointless that these people were arrested in the first place, as Swain and others are on tape saying that the details of the plot should never reach these lower level people. But, they have all been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery. We'll see if those charges stand. Way to go City Paper for telling this story.

The happy-go-lucky blogosphere strikes again. Reading DC Blogs this morning, I see the top featured post tells everyone to stop worrying about Metro. This gem comes to us via the "DC Universe" blog. I'm wagging my finger a bit at the editors of DC Blogs, for selecting a piece that tells us 9 people dying in the Red Line is no big deal, right after a compelling video of the Red Line crash response was released by DC Fire and EMS. Anyhow, DC Universe sez:
But the bottom line is, something like that [buses driving by], and God only knows how many other fuck-ups Metro commits on any given day--and I think it's fair to mention that only a tiny percentage of those fuck-ups result in people getting killed--don't change the fact that Metro is still one of the best public transportation systems in the world.
With the moral being "stop stressing about Metro" and "deal with it." DC Universe takes aim with people who are thoughtfully trying to help Metro improve service, and suggests we all just give up. This attitude is the reason why the mythical "change" we all want is so hard to come by. Hey, did you know that a majority of Americans have health insurance? Also, I have health insurance. So what's the big deal if others don't? They can just go to the ER anyways! I hear DC Universe is planning on testifying at the Metro Board meeting. Here is the presentation, entitled "Happy Go Lucky:"

Fancy beer bar and "rustic Americana" restaurant opens on 14th street.
That's right, the location pretentious white people have been waiting for is finally open! I'll admit, I can be considered among those who are a little excited to try out Birch and Barley and ChurchKey. This is also exciting as it's a development south of P Street in Logan Circle. The restaurant and beer bar have taken over the former location of Dakota Cowgirl and Ramrod. As everyone else has already noted, be sure to make some Ramrod jokes if you attend. 14th and You has some photos, as well as Metrocurian. Since this is a beer bar and not a wine bar, it won't get added to the "wine and furniture" walking tour of 14th Street.

Wither the alt-weekly? As noted above, the City Paper produces some excellent content. But would you pay for it? The idea keeps getting teased over at CityDesk and I have to wonder what this means for the future of the free weekly paper. Editor Erik Wemple takes a shot at Leonard Downie Jr's vision of the future of journalism, and I chime in with a few thoughts of my own. Would you pay to read the City Paper? I might, but it'd have to be some excellent content presented in a very awesome way. I heart the City Paper but no one these days wants to pay for content and I have a feeling a ton of people would just say "I'll read Prince of Petworth instead."

Economic recovery causes DC to post negative decrease in unemployment. Yeah, you see what I did there? The District unemployment rate is now at 11.4% That's up from 11.1% in August. To compare, badly hit Michigan comes in at 15.3%. That's right, we're only 3.9% behind the rust belt! Of course, Virginia and Maryland are sitting much prettier, both under 10%. When people say DC is recession-proof, they are referring to the federal government. Sadly, there's a whole bunch of people who live in DC who do not have cushy federal jobs.


  1. Dave, given the tone of the post in general, do you think it's possible the "only a tiny percentage" comment was tongue-in-cheek? (You know, I wasn't really fantasizing about torturing the driver, either.) I like righteous indignation as much as the next blogger, but no, I wasn't actually complimenting Metro on having a reasonably low body count.

    As for the people who are thoughtfully trying to help Metro improve service, a lot of what they want is often unrealistic, if not unreasonable. People want better service, but they don't want to pay more for it. (Or in the very least, they suggest passing the cost onto someone else, be it rush hour commuters or bus riders.) Find me any business in the world that can pull that off. Specific problems should obviously be reported and dealt with, but most of the complaints I hear about Metro seem to primarily be general grousing. Which is fine, but not terribly helpful.

    Finally, I think the health insurance analogy fails because hassle-free public transportation, unlike health care, is not a moral right. So yeah, as long as most people are satisfied with Metro--and I believe they are--I'm happy. I'll only be happy go lucky when we figure out how to improve the people who ride Metro.

  2. Hassle free and safety concerns are two completely different things. I would have had no issue with your post had you not mentioned the deaths from the crash. The fact that you mentioned that, and expanded the "deal with it" to include those who are concerned about vast safety problems insulted not only the victims of the 6/22 crash, but anyone who cares about safety and responsibility.

  3. @Scrotus:

    but isn't the right to an honest, transparent, and reliable form of transportation that all of us pay for a moral right? and isn't it also a moral right to not have to worry that our lives are in jeopardy on said transportation?

    blaming metro's problems on its ridership is short-sighted at best and callous, at worst. have some respect for the people that died on the metro and certainly didn't deserve it. they were just like you - people that relied on a system to transport them in one piece. you should be thanking your lucky stars you weren't one of the people killed instead of saying "oh well, glad it wasn't me."

  4. Again, you and I have different opinions of what constitutes an insult. I was speaking in generalities: People sometimes die on the Metro. That you seem to take my bringing that up in a light-hearted manner as a direct slap in the face to those who died in the crash is unfortunate and not what I'd intended, but it's out of my control. I could issue an insincere "I'm sorry if I offended anyone," apologies, but I don't think it's offensive. If anything, it was a jab at Metro, not the people who died.

    As for the "deal with it" comment, it probably comes off more blunt than I'd intended, but I stand by its main point: The Metro is, by and large, exceptionally safe. Once in a rare while, something is going to go wrong. It's a fact of life. We can either accept that or we can raise fares to $5 a ride in order to close the budget shortfall and give Metro the funds to address every single problem no matter how small.

  5. I mentioned your post today because it illustrates the sort of problem I see often when people discuss Metro.

    If the 6/22 crash had been caused by say, a random manufacturer defect in a wheel, that caused a train to derail, I'd see your point. Accidents happen and people sometimes die. Of course.

    However, the evidence has piled up that shows safety has never been a real priority within Metro, and that it's not even a matter of money but rather discipline and management.

    To merely excuse a few deaths as statistical noise in an otherwise pretty picture of safety is doing a disservice to Metro and riders.

    I have not and will not accept that a major city's transportation system should be run in an unsafe manner. I accept that trains will be late, and unfortunate unavoidable accidents may occur. However, if stopping PREVENTABLE accidents and getting the system up to snuff means $5 fares, then it means $5 fares.

  6. R.I.P. Ramrod. I'll remember the Friday Bearfests fondley. "sniff..."