Here's a factoid for those of us here who did not grow up in the Commonwealth of Virginia. From 1984-2000, Martin Luther King, Jr. day was celebrated in conjunction with Lee-Jackson day in Virginia. This was a holiday that celebrated the birthdays of Confederate war heroes Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Yes, Virginia, this is the same state that voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and Robert McDonnell in 2009. For a good 16 years, the state celebrated heroes of the confederacy on the same day as a hero of civil rights. In 2000, Governor Jim Gilmore decided to end this odd combination. Instead of, you know, eliminating a holiday celebrating people who gave their lives in an attempt to remove Virginia from the United States, Gilmore merely separated the holidays by a weekend. That's right folks, Lee-Jackson day was celebrated this past Friday, while MLK day was celebrated on Monday. A whole 100 years of civil rights history rolled into one mere weekend. And yeah, I get that people are proud of their heritage. However, there's also the whole part about losing a war that devastated our country. Sure, the war was almost 150 years ago, but clearly we aren't completely over it. Blows your mind to think about these things, doesn't it--especially if you grew up in the Northeast or the Midwest where no one really talks about these things. As far as Martin Luther King day goes, don't let Bob McDonnell read this.
Barry vows to raise $100,000 for Haiti, chips in $1,000 of his own money. Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry has been so touched by the disaster in Haiti that he has donated $1,000 to relief efforts. He also wants to raise a $100,000 as part of a "DC Delivers: Help for Haiti" program. Good for him, but I'm perplexed by his call for Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council Chair Vincent Gray to travel to Haiti to evaluate relief efforts. Yeah, I can't see any problem with that. Also, this whole thing makes me wonder why in the world we were going to "donate" a fire truck to the Dominican Republic. Shouldn't it have gone to Haiti? Wrong country, dudes. However, since neither myself nor as far as I recall anyone else raised that question back when the firetruck hubbub erupted--it shows just how forgotten Haiti has been.
Speaking of Barry, yesterday marked 20 years since he was busted for possession. Yes, he has served as both Mayor and City Councilmember following his conviction and jail sentence. A commenter here pointed out that a jury may be sympathetic towards Gilbert Arenas, especially since they are sympathetic towards Barry. I think there may be a distinction, though. Barry is liked because he appears to look out for his community, was a player in the civil rights movement, and most of all fits the "one of us" bill. However, Gilbert Arenas is a total jackass who makes epic amounts of money and lives in Northern Virginia. I can't see a DC jury being very sympathetic towards him, regardless of skin color. But hey, this is DC for you.
Good lord it's been a slow weekend for local news. As expected for a holiday weekend I suppose. This week will undoubtedly contain more talk about the future at Metro. There's been mixed reactions to Catoe's resignation, and I have to admit my own personal feelings have been mixed. There was no CATOE RESIGNS party on Thursday night, this much I promise you. The biggest issue now is what's in store for the transit agency. I still have some lingering questions about Catoe's departure, though. He referenced all of the negative attention he had received, however outside of the blogosphere I'm not sure where this came from. Yes, there had been a lot of negative stories in the last six months, however very few in the mainstream media were calling for Catoe's head. Rather, the opposite seemed to be true. The Washington Post editorial board has been supportive, and of course the Metro Board extended his contract. Was it the TV news? Was it WTOP's half-baked safety stories? The Examiner? I never really sensed that the media had gone anti-Catoe, which was one of the reasons why I persisted with that theme on the blog.
Posted by Dave Stroup at 7:30 AM