News Bullets, lion's den Monday;

It's a busy morning for news, so I'll forgo the chat-chitting and get right to it.

Metro barred independent safety monitors from observing the system. Last month I looked some previous accidents on Metro involving track workers, and found some disturbing trends. Today the Post ran a front page story on safety problems involving Metro workers. This is fascinating material, but also very troubling. From the article:

Since the spring, Metro officials have barred independent monitors from walking along subway tracks to observe safety procedures while trains are in normal service, even if escorted by Metro employees, newly obtained records show.

The monitors, from the Tri-State Oversight Committee, wanted to determine whether Metro was following rules put in place in recent years after a number of workers had been fatally injured on the job.

Instead, they have spent the past six months pressing Metro in writing and in person for access -- a period in which two Metro employees were struck and fatally injured on the tracks.

The monitors became so frustrated that at one point, internal e-mails show, they discussed formally notifying federal officials and invoking their toughest sanction: declaring Metro to be officially out of compliance with safety requirements. Such a move could cause Metro to lose part of its federal funding.

I'm not surprised by any of this, nor am I surprised by Metro's failure to release documents to the Post. It's par for the course with WMATA, and yet another reason why I am continuing to work on this research.

Could the DPR contracting mess been avoided? Well, yes, Fenty could have not gone around the Council. However, Michael Neibauer at the Examiner takes a look at how the D.C. Council's actions last year may have pushed Fenty further. A year ago, Fenty wanted Allen Lew, the DCPS construction/facilities chief to manage DPR capital projects. Just as now, the Council was not pleased with this idea, and passed legislation preventing Lew from working on projects outside of DCPS. This is interesting, though still the question remains as to why Fenty didn't want to improve DPR's ability to handle these projects. Instead, Fenty wanted then-DPR Director Clark Ray to focus on programming... and would later replace him with Ximena Hartsock. Hartsock also had no experience with capital projects and would instead focus on programming.

Police searching for shooter in Georgia Avenue robbery and murder. Rufina Hernandez of Hyattsville was shot and killed in a robbery of the La Casa de Morata liquor store in the 5400 block of Georgia Avenue Saturday night. Police think the suspects may live in the neighborhood. They are described as two men in their 30's or 40's.

Deer stumbles into lion den at the National Zoo. And no, this isn't some sort of political metaphor. A deer from Rock Creek Park managed to make its way into the lion exhibit at the zoo, where it was seriously injured. It was able to make an escape, but zoo workers had to euthanize it due to serious wounds. Yes, there is video of it. No, I haven't watched it and don't plan to.

Officer-involved shootings may be the result of PCP use. 2009 has seen an increase in officer-involved shootings in the District, and MPD Chief Cathy Lanier believes it may be due to increased PCP use. In 8 out of the 12 shootings involving MPD this year, PCP was involved. In 2008, there were eight MPD-involved shootings.

Coming up later this morning: A look at Leo Alexander's campaign for D.C. Mayor.


  1. Dave,

    The deer video isn't a scene of bloody carnage as you may think. The video begins by momentarily showing the deer as it successfully struggles away from the lion and swims towards the retaining wall. The lions don't pursue the deer. End video.

  2. Let's see. The city council doesn't want someone who is not part of DPR to do DPR work and unanimously passes legislation to ensure that the mayor doesn't pull a fast one. The mayor pulls a fast one anyway. Neibauer thinks, therefore, that it's not Fenty's fault for violating the law, because it could have been avoided if the city council had just let the mayor pull a fast one in the first place. Umm, right.

    How many people are going to make excuses for why the mayor is a slimeball scofflaw before he just gets indicted already?

    It doesn't make one bit of difference if things could have been better had they been done some other illegal way. For every pro-let-the-mayor-do-what-he-wants argument, I can think of a dozen against it. Like, now that we've spent $80 million fixing up parks, what's our plan for maintaining them?

    Sometimes just acting quickly without regard for the future is not the best way to spend money. That's why there is a process for these things. When all these new parks are decrepit in 5 or 10 years this will seem obvious. I would much rather that we had taken our time on these projects, and maybe have done fewer of them but done them on the up-and-up, and planned and budgeted for the maintenance, than have a fleeting moment of nice parks that will be forgotten after Fenty gets re-elected.