The Smart-Growth Set How 32-year-old Google veteran David Alpert--and his band of bloggers--are shaping 21st -century D.C.

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Photo by Matt Dunn; Illustration by Brooke Hatfield

Most fights among D.C. residents somehow involve parking. So you could argue that David Alpert’s introduction to local political warfare was only typical.

Alpert’s position in the fracas, though, was somewhat unique. Where most Washingtonians tend to kvetch about how difficult it is to snag a street spot, Alpert wanted less parking, not more. Back in 2008, as the District’s Zoning Commission started work on a comprehensive rewrite, Alpert embraced the idea of decreasing the number of parking spots required for new developments.

“That was my first exposure to the antis,” Alpert says, employing his general label for people who oppose change on principle. “Because I went to these meetings, and there were these people, like Barbara Zartman from the Committee of 100. She was there to fight hard for keeping the zoning the way it was, basically, against the efforts of the Office of Planning to upset the apple cart of these prohibitions on lots of things.”

Alpert took to the blog he had started earlier that year, Greater Greater Washington, to launch his counterintuitive counteroffensive. For 10 days, he posted one reason per day why parking minimums were bad: They make housing more expensive and render good commercial development projects unfeasible, he argued. They increase traffic. They’re a reason, in other words, that locals pay so much in rent, have so few places to shop, and spend so much time in traffic.

But as a July hearing on the subject approached, Alpert knew that making reasoned online arguments wouldn’t be enough. “What I was telling people was, we really need to get people to go, there’s going to be a lot of antis there, they’re really organized, they’ve got all these groups,” Alpert remembers. “And maybe our best hope is just to get enough people there so that the Zoning Commission sees that there are two sides to it, and then maybe they’ll be OK approving it.”


Sure enough, 24 advocates showed up to testify in favor of the zoning change, speaking far into the night. Only a handful came to oppose it. And the measure—a sharp blow to the District’s auto-friendly status quo—passed.

Since then, the triumphs have piled up. In December 2008, Greater Greater Washington—and the gang of policy nerds Alpert has enlisted to help him run it—demanded that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority partner with Google to create a better mapping application for Metrobus and Metrorail riders. The agency is finally doing just that. In early 2009, Alpert championed efforts to tax plastic bags in order to clean up the Anacostia River. The measure is now law. This May, in a now-famous incident, Alpert spotted D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray’s 11th-hour attempt to axe funding for the H Street NE-Benning Road streetcar, envisioned to be part of a future city-wide light-rail system. The blogosphere exploded and irate calls soon crashed Gray’s switchboard. Within hours of GGW’s action alert, the trolley budget was restored.

GGW now has a couple dozen contributors, and gets some 60,000 unique visitors a month. But that growth has only amplified the voice of its founder, who writes with a smartest-guy-in-the-room entitlement that’s impossible to ignore. An editorial board of one, Alpert this year has interviewed the major mayoral and D.C. Council candidates; his endorsements will serve as the final word for many in the voting bloc of smart-growth enthusiasts he’s helped educate and assemble. Meanwhile, candidates have started campaigning on smart-growth policies, hoping to tap the demonstrated size and influence of Alpert’s audience.

In just a few short years, Alpert has made himself arguably the District’s most important advocate on issues of planning and development—a guy who, without holding public office, occupying a university chair, or even having a day job, is going to help shape what Washington looks like decades from now. “His way is to push and push and push on people, and advocates very assertively for smart growth and new urbanism and all of these things that are important to make D.C. great,” says District Department of Transportation Director Gabe Klein. Before they roll out any new initiative, Klein says, his team wonders “what is David Alpert going to want to know, what is Kojo Nnamdi going to want to know, what is Dr. Gridlock going to want to know?” That’s pretty good company for a 32-year old Massachusetts native who was living in Brooklyn during Washington’s last mayoral election.

Alpert’s response to the streetcar reversal, castigating the mainstream media for not recognizing an instantaneous citizen response triggered by social media, had all the webby triumphalism of a Markos Moulitsas screed in 2004. Alpert is steeped in the netroots revolution and its determination to upset established patterns of how journalists relate to authority. But GGW, carefully focused to achieve the most provincial and yet concrete possible gains, is no chaotic and sprawling DailyKos. Alpert’s creation, rather, is the netroots all grown up.

Alpert—a small man with an impish grin who goes most places in shorts and sandals—works out of the cheerily blue-painted Church Street NW rowhouse he bought for $1.3 million in 2008. The bookshelves are lined with science fiction, old math textbooks, and seminal works on urban planning. His home office has one map of D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan and another of the District’s World War II-era downtown. His laptop is plastered with stickers of his own creation: The iconic Obama logo, one with a stylized train coming out of the center, and another with two “O”s as the wheels of a bicycle.

For all his big-city urbanism, Alpert started life in the most suburban of places: Acton, Mass., the son of a lawyer and a homemaker who did interior design on the side. Early on, his father brought home an Apple IIe, which little David used to learn programming instead of playing games. Though interested in government, Alpert studied computer science at Harvard, figuring he’d rather write code than write history papers.

Graduating at the height of the tech bubble in 2000, he joined a startup and moved to Silicon Valley. The enterprise tanked, but Alpert landed on his feet as a project manager at Google. (The little intra-site bullets that come up under each homepage when you Google something? Alpert made those.)

Within a few years, though, the monoculture of Google’s suburban Mountain View, Calif., campus became stifling. Alpert convinced the company to let him move to its New York City office. At a 2004 State of the Union watch party in Manhattan, he hit on his first foray into Web organizing: The early form of Drinking Liberally, a group of lefty friends who got together to imbibe and commiserate at the height of the Bush administration. (Alpert, who doesn’t drink much, is proof that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to join). In his spare time, Alpert built the website for what would become Living Liberally, a social-political organization with chapters all over the country.

“He immediately got it,” says founder Justin Krebs. “His role was thinking about how to build something that could scale nationally.”

In 2007, Alpert’s future wife Stefanie got a job in the D.C. office of law firm Wilmer Hale. The couple decided to move, and Alpert left Google behind. “When I started at Google, if you had an idea, you could run it by Larry or Sergey at lunch,” Alpert says, referring to company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. “By the time I left, it was 15,000 people, and there was a lot more process…Getting a product done was more about navigating this process and navigating the bureaucracy or the competing interests, as opposed to spending your time coming up with ideas.”

Of course, it wasn’t quite as scary for Alpert to quit his job as it might be for most people: Though he declined to elaborate on his personal finances, let’s just say that six years at Google left Alpert sufficiently well off that he wouldn’t need to scour the want-ads for a long, long time.

Alpert’s first idea for using his stock-option-subsidized free time was a failure. Building on the Google ethos, he started a blog called IPac with the goal of advancing Internet freedom; one campaign involved sending iPods to recalcitrant senators so they could appreciate the value of downloadable music. With insufficient enthusiasm, IPac fizzled, and Alpert needed a new project.

It arrived in the form of a void: D.C. had development blogs and neighborhood blogs, but nothing like a Streetsblog, the influential nonprofit-funded website that focuses on progressive urban planning and design. Urban geekery had become a side interest of Alpert’s in New York, where he absorbed knowledge about the city’s subway system and worked on efforts to rethink Park Slope’s pedestrian-unfriendly Grand Army Plaza. He read books by Jane Jacobs, the pioneering grassroots activist who fought 1960s urban renewal and extolled walkable, 19th-century neighborhoods. So in February 2008, Alpert designed a website, posting several items a day on things like traffic waves and environmental impact statements.

GGW grew steadily from there. National bloggers who Alpert knew from his netroots life, like Matthew Yglesias and Duncan Black—a.k.a. Atrios, who writes at Eschaton—drove traffic his way. A popular early feature was a series of fantasy Metro maps, depicting the transit system with extended lines and different options. At one point, WMATA’s director of long-range planning asked if he could use one of them for a presentation; Alpert gladly obliged.

A few months in, Alpert began to expand the franchise. His first addition was Michael Perkins, an engineer who had started a blog called Infosnack, synthesizing Metro and other transit data. Then came Jaime Fearer, who was running a blog about Ward 5’s Woodridge neighborhood while going to urban planning school at the University of Maryland. Soon after, Matt Johnson, who’s now working for the Montgomery County planning department, started cross-posting from his blog Track Twenty Nine. Many of the contributors are professionals in the field, writing posts in their free time (nobody gets paid, and Alpert accepts neither advertising nor donations). Members of the club—who adhere loosely to different “beats”—banter throughout the day on an internal e-mail list refereed by Alpert, who encourages e-mailers to write posts about hot topics. Alpert edits every post for clarity and concision, writing headlines, managing copy flow, and catching factual mistakes.

The growing klatch of experts, cultivated and tended by Alpert, has become a one-stop-shop for D.C.-area smart-growth discussion. That’s why Streetsblog hasn’t needed to start an offshoot here as it has in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and why more traditional advocacy groups like the Coalition for Smarter Growth don’t have local blogs either.

“David has given us the best in the nation in terms of blogging communication,” says Stewart Schwartz, president of the 13-year-old coalition. “It taps into some very smart people in the Washington, D.C., region. I may not be using the term correctly, but it is a form of crowdsourcing.”

For transit enthusiasts, GGW supplies a degree of wonkery long missing from the public sphere. Metro Board of Directors member Chris Zimmerman has published editorials there; he sees it as a way to get in front of an audience that believes in Metro’s fundamental mission, at a time when newspapers rarely get into how the system works.

“It used to be that you could learn a lot about Metro by reading the Post. That’s not what the newspaper is doing anymore,” Zimmerman says. “…The Examiner isn’t interested in Metro getting better, it’s interested in having something to kick. It’s an ideological mission for them. And I think the Post is just looking for a headline that will allow them to sell past the Examiner.”

But while Alpert digs up information as well as any journalist, GGW is a fundamentally activist enterprise—and you won’t necessarily get both sides. Cavan Wilk, a financial economist who is also a Montgomery County transit activist, has been posting interviews of local politicos who are friendly to his agenda. “I don’t explicitly say it, but I assume my readership thinks that if I interview someone, then I like them,” Wilk says. “And I do not interview candidates that I don’t like, because I would ask them very uncomfortable questions.”

Would that be a bad thing?

“No, but they wouldn’t want to sit through that kind of interview, because they’re going to get that from journalists anyway,” Wilk says. “And I can do things that journalists can’t, because I don’t have to maintain an objective position.”

One evening in mid-August, while Alpert was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, the GGW crew—mostly male, totally white—gathered in a Hyattsville bar for one of its more-or-less monthly happy hours. Alpert had hosted dinners for contributors, but the community broadened after Johnson, who had few local friends when he arrived from Atlanta in 2007, began organizing meetups around the metro area (he chose Hyattsville because there hadn’t yet been any in Prince George’s County).

Upon walking in, I met Malcolm, a reedy young man wearing a tie featuring heads of the presidents, who works for the National Association of Railroad Passengers. A frequent commenter, who introduced himself as “Froggie,” circulated fantasy maps depicting vast new subway extensions. “Sandbox John,” who maintains a website with incremental photos of the progress of the Dulles Metro extension, brought several copies of an early Metro plan.

“Ooh, is that the 1998 map?” asked Johnson, ogling it like a rare baseball card. “I have the 1999.” The chatter moved so quickly from there that I could only catch snippets. The GGWers inveighed against poorly designed Metro stations (New York Avenue-Florida Avenue-Gallaudet University bore the brunt of the abuse), debated the merits of pocket tracks (for the uninitiated, that’s a secondary stretch of rail similar to a breakdown lane on a highway), and swapped stories of historic Metro crashes (“And well, you know how the 1000 series performs in accidents…”). At one point, Johnson leaned over apologetically. “You’re witnessing an extreme geek moment,” he said.

The geeks, though, are trendsetters. Alpert’s favorite D.C. councilmember, Ward 6 Democrat Tommy Wells—who stopped by a recent happy hour—has been on a precipitous smart growth learning curve, reading magazines like Dwell, going to conferences on rail transit, and keeping up with urbanism blogs. Running for a second term this year, Wells is campaigning on a smart growth platform; his yard signs feature the slogan “building a livable, walkable city.”

“When I first ran for council, I thought a lot about why do we like where we live, and why are people moving back to the city,” says Wells, who has lived in D.C. since 1985. “I didn’t come into this job being very knowledgeable about it. But I certainly have gotten a whole lot more knowledgeable about it.”

For all his interest in creating a community around smart growth issues, Alpert can name no specific hobbies of his own. He doesn’t need them: GGW is both vocation and avocation, keeping him wired socially and politically. At this year’s Netroots Nation—Alpert was an early participant when they were originally organized as YearlyKos—he was invited to moderate a panel on transportation policy.

“It’s hard to get to know him because he’s so busy,” says Fearer, who now lives in Trinidad. “I don’t even know all the things he does. ‘Oh, he’s going to be on a panel with [Transportation Secretary] Ray LaHood, O.K.’ I get the impression that he’s too busy to stop and tell us until he’s on his way.”

Alpert stands apart from many of his contributors in that he isn’t just a programmer or a map maker or a policy analyst. Most essentially, he’s an operator, seeing political dimensions that some would prefer to ignore. In a city where local government is often an afterthought—and where technologically sophisticated local policy advocates are few and far between—Alpert’s willingness to work the levers of power explain why he’s managed to become such a force in such a short time.

One recent Wednesday evening, Alpert sat in WMATA’s downtown conference room at a meeting of the Riders Advisory Council. After the group finished discussing proposed changes to the Blue Line—with a GGW-logoed map projected from Alpert’s laptop—they turned to what Alpert saw as a looming threat: What environmental and smart-growth groups suspect is a plan by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Greater Washington Board of Trade to boot elected officials from the Metro board and replace them with appointees of area government executives. The Board of Trade says the status quo is not up to managing a complex transit system. Alpert, on the other hand, thinks Metro would benefit from more public input, not less; he’s suggested WMATA board members be elected by riders.

Alpert had drafted a letter to the two bodies asking for the same information they had been given so that the RAC might form its own recommendations. But a few members of the RAC didn’t get the point of trying to outmaneuver the business group’s task force.

“I dunno, it sounds to me like we’re saying, anything we come up with is going to be superior to what you’re doing,” one member objected.

“I’m opposed to sending the letter, because I think the tone is nasty,” said another.

“What do we care?” asked a third. “I understand that we’re not involved, but we’re involved in our own body.”

Alpert listened, growing more exasperated. Toning down the language, he said, would mean sending nothing but “the most inoffensive and innocuous letters.”

“That’s a recipe for being an ineffective public body,” he snapped. “And I’m not interested in being an ineffective public body.”

Ultimately, Alpert compromised, taking out some forceful paragraphs to gain the majority’s approval. Later, he described a conflict in the RAC over whether it should simply serve as a focus group for WMATA brass, or if it should be seen as a serious advocate for riders (of course, Alpert’s the only one with a megaphone).

That’s just one example of how Alpert negotiates between simply participating in the discussion and rocking the boat, simultaneously playing the insider and the outsider.

Richard Layman, an urban planner who has been blogging about D.C. urban policy issues since 2005, thinks Alpert pulls his punches to stay in the game. “David wants to be more of a player, so he won’t take harder core positions because that puts elected and appointed people off—they see critical analysis as personally-directed ‘criticism,’” Layman wrote in an e-mail. For example, he says, Alpert was too forgiving of Metro after the National Transportation Safety Board issued its scathing report on last summer’s deadly Red Line crash.

“He won’t take on whacked ideas from [D.C. Ward 1 Councilmember and Metro board member] Jim Graham (or I should say incomplete or incompletely developed ideas) because he wants to maintain access.” (Among the “whacked ideas” Layman criticizes are laws to require people to shovel their sidewalks and securing public money for a massive parking garage at Columbia Heights’ DCUSA shopping complex).

Alpert disputes that charge, citing the number of times he’s criticized Graham—over opposing rate hikes to prevent cuts in service, for example—as well as Gabe Klein, whom he castigated for narrowing bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue NW after they had been put in. But Graham also put him on the Riders Advisory Council, and Alpert will therefore probably not make an endorsement in the Ward 1 race. “Having a relationship with a politician is powerful,” Alpert says.

Alpert and the GGW gang are hardly the first people to be drawn into D.C. politics by debates over the shape of the city. Many the city’s political leaders in the early days of Home Rule cut their teeth during the epic fights against 1960s-era plans to build highways through various parts of the District. Perhaps the most apt precedent for Alpert’s activism is the late Cleveland Park lawyer Peter Craig, who led the anti-highway forces.

“The experts proposed a pretty bad idea, and were corrected by the people,” says Zachary Schrag, an assistant professor at George Mason University who wrote the Metro nerd bible, The Great Society Subway. “His tools were the typewriter and the mimeograph, but had blogs been around in 1959, I imagine his would have looked something like Greater Greater Washington.”

Instrumental in that earlier effort was the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, a now-87-year-old organization dedicated to the preservation of the original L’Enfant plan for the city. Thanks to their relentless advocacy, D.C. remains a walking-scale city, retaining many of the elements of a healthy urban environment that Alpert & Co. promote today.

But revolutions always eat their young. And now, a generation later—a generation during which the powers that be finally realized that urban renewal and downtown freeways were a lousy idea—there’s little love for GGW among some of their forebears.

Take this column from the Committee of 100’s chairman, which appeared in the organization’s newsletter in 2008. It didn’t mention Alpert or his blog, but the identity of the “insidious” force it slams was pretty clear nonetheless: “The Committee of 100, a scarred veteran of freeway battles and early champion of D.C.’s Living Downtown, is being tarred as a gaggle of aging couch potatoes bitterly clinging to cars and big houses,” the message reads. “The mischaracterization is coming from so-called ‘smart-growth’ advocates who want to recreate Washington, DC as a high-density destination for the healthy, wealthy and young…. Smart growth, as experienced by many District residents, has come to mean demands for multi-family mixed-use development on every available scrap of land without regard to need, scale, balance, or the opinions of impacted District residents. This is coupled with hostility toward all automobile use, whether or not any other form of transportation is available. To live in this ‘smart’ vision of the District, you should be willing to forego elbow room and to accept that a neighbor who enlarges his house may be literally an arms length away.”

In other words, says Committee of 100 Chairman George Clark, Alpert’s crew wants to turn D.C. into a Manhattan-esque metropolis. “I like the Upper West Side, but I don’t want to live there,” Clark says. “If I wanted to live there, I would move there. We’re Washington. We’re a capital city, we’re a world city, and we’re different.”

Furthermore, Meg Maguire, the Committee of 100’s point person on streetcars, says the “anti” caricature is inaccurate and unhelpful when discussing massive public projects. “I think with David, you’re either for something or you’re against it,” says Maguire. She says her beef with D.C.’s streetcar initiative had to do with poor planning and lack of funding, not an objection to change on principle. “I think he mischaracterizes our position when we raise complex issues, like how [the streetcar] will be paid for.” (Zartman, the preservationist Alpert recalls as his first “anti,” died earlier this year).

Alpert, in fact, says he does appreciate historic preservation—and doesn’t think developers should be given carte blanche to build as big as they want. He just thinks that today’s preservationists, who formed their alliances back when opposing things was the best way to defend the city’s livability and charm, have gone overboard.

“Now, you’re also starting to veer into preservation being about preserving the mistakes,” Alpert says. In between bites of a spinach salad at the Dupont Circle Sweetgreen, his feet up on a chair, he cites historian Richard Longstreth’s argument against demolishing the Third Church of Christ, Scientist at 16th and I streets NW as an example. Preservationists opposed bulldozing the unloved, Brutalist structure because it now represents a bygone era. “I thought he could probably say that about the dirt that’s along the edge here of Connecticut Avenue, that should be landmarked, we should never clean that up, because in such a such year there was dirt there, and that was when Eleanor Roosevelt walked by, you know, or something like that.”

Though they can land on different sides of development debates today, the preservationists who fought highway planners of the 1960s and the smart-growthers who battle parking lots of the 21st century share a common denominator: They’re easy to paint as rich dilettantes.

A glance at the overwhelmingly white happy hour crowd underscores the perception that Alpert’s group represents one part of the city prescribing solutions for another—which, no matter how logical their ideas, can create a public relations problem. Councilmember Wells, for example, is facing an energetic challenge from a black candidate who suggests to long-term residents of Ward 6 that things like bike lanes and streetcars are just ways to attract new residents, wholly irrelevant to the more pressing issues of crime and education.

Alpert is conscious of perception issues, and is careful to argue that more options for transit mean better access to employment for low-income residents. He’s also expanded the blog in recent months to include more content about poverty, and is thinking about branching out into education. But Schrag puts his finger on the difficulty Alpert faces in claiming the populist high ground, at least where cars are concerned.

“The tension there is that most Americans really like cars, and they don’t like cars as objects, they like cars because they get where you want fairly quickly,” Schrag says. “If you’re really going to be populist about it, it’s hard to be that stridently critical of the automobile.”

It’s all about choices. And for Alpert, dividing the world into two camps—like deciding whether Vincent Gray is a safe choice for smart growth advocates or not, the subject of a five-part GGW series—is just a way of clarifying those choices. After all, Alpert has made his own choices, like leaving the highways and strip malls of Mountain View for the sidewalks and local retail of Brooklyn. Every seemingly small choice made by local zoning boards and transit agencies and elected officials will help decide whether the District of the 21st century will look more like the former or the latter.

Running Greater Greater Washington gives Alpert a way to affect as many of those decisions as possible. He’s has contemplated serving in government someday, but that would probably involve working on one project for long periods of time. Shaping D.C. into his urbanist vision is a much more comprehensive thing.

“I think that there’s a debate going on, something of a battle, of how to conceive of development and growth in the city,” Alpert says. “And I want my view of that to prevail, because I think it’s right.”

Correction: Due to reporting errors in "The Smart-Growth Set," (9/3/2010) the Third Church of Christ, Scientist was misidentified. Additionally Greater Greater Washington founder David Alpert attended his first Living Liberally meeting in Manhattan, not Brooklyn, as was originally reported.

Our Readers Say

Bunch of well-off, effeminate, white guys, accountable to no one, and making policy decisions for the city.

Great idea.
Sally: first off, it's not all white guys. The Jaime Fearer mentioned as a contributor is very much female. Dan Reed, a former contributor and author of Just Up The Pike, is not white.

Second, they're not making policy decisions for the city. That's still very much in the hands of the DC officials. What they're doing is making their opinions known...something every resident is entitled to, even the Committee of 100 folks that a lot of the GGW crowd tends to oppose.
Yah, how dare gender-variant people act like they <i>live in their own city</i> or something.
While I don't write for the blog, I comment extensively...and I'm Native American and nowhere near effeminate "Sally".

That said...Metro needs third and fourth tracks. The two track system is a fundamental design flaw and need immediate correction. Perfect for the Obama jobs bill we won't be getting.

I agree with Sally. Alpert's value add is minimal at best. A blog for the gentrification of D.C.?!?!?

When was the last time he advocated for any initiative east of the river?!?! Its easy to criticize when you're not held accountable for anything but writng blogs.

Go back to Brooklyn dude...Williamsburg needs you.
I am an African American male, living in DC with 4 kids. I like the blog and even when I don't agree the comment section usually has a lively debate.
GGW's commentariat is excellent.
There are times when I agree with much of what GGW proposes. But there are also many times when I read that blog and cringe. Like when they pilloried grief-stricken funeral-goers for blocking a bike lane. Or when they automatically assume -- without any basis in fact -- that the driver is at fault in accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, and that the driver should be sentenced to stoning.
excellent article Lydia! i'm a fan of housing complex and this article gives me concern that you're to move on to bigger and better things soon.

i really appreciate that this article didnt have the negative tone that i usually expect from the city paper. i'd read the cover story more if i could count on this mature level of journalism.
Here, here @caphill, the cycle-narcissism (narci-cyclists?) really get me down on the blog. But there is some good stuff.

I wouldn't describe GGW bloggers as "effeminate." Is their point of view metrosexual? Definitely.

Also, I wonder how many of their bloggers work for real estate and development interests.
Bill: The answer to your question is zero.

who gives a damn if they are well off, white and/or effeminate? bigots, that's who.

Cyclist in the District of Columbia complain about being disrespected by motorists. What about the cyclist disrespect for pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks. I believe many of them are the same jerks that were aggressive drivers, they have just exchanged the mode of transportation. I pray the day one hits me. It won't be a good one for them.
Just what DC needs (or any place for that matter), a bunch of non-experts like this guy unversed in anything policy, land use, transportation, planning, zoning or design related. A guy moves here two years ago and all of a sudden he is the resident expert on everything DC. Gag me...

Their source of expertise? Reading something on another blog, that "seemed neat". Their defacto decision making process? "Is it cool"?. Their depth of thought on an issue goes only as far as "is it shiny and neat to look at"?. Their attitude on

The worst part is that District politicians are knee jerk reactive to folks like this, kowtowing to their every demand regardless of how ineffective, inefficient or fiscally responsible it is, solely because they command large email lists and tons of free time during the middle of the day to send nasty grams to politicians, many of them not even being District residents. They push their billion dollar pet projects, fully admitting they haven't thought of, or don't care where the money comes from, how its planned or paid for, or whether or not is makes one bit of technical, fiscal or common sense.

Read this blog and those of his contributers sometime. It is filled with a bunch of smarmy "my utopia is better than yours" kids who, I kid you not would outlaw all vehicles other than street cars and buses, and would redesign all roads in the District to walking/biking only tomorrow if they could.

Alperts view?

"Well I am rich enough in my early 30's not to work and live in a million dollar house in downtown DC, near multilayers of transportation options, everyone else needs to as well".

His readers political viewpoint? I don't care about anything else, my vote for mayor will depend solely on who supports spending billions of dollars on a street car system.

Literally...this is the depth of thought he and his readers protray.

Its filled with people posting who think its fine for cyclists to ignore all existing traffic laws (ignoring stop signs, lights etc) and proceed in whatever fasion "they" subjectively think it right, and every conflict on the street is ALWAYS the fault of those hateful people who "gasp" own and drive cars. Think I am kidding? Go ahead and read for yourself. This blog is nothing more than a collective of underemployed hipster wanna-bes with an odd obession with unrelenting car hate trying to thinly veil itself as "informed debate".

Blogs are fine way for underemployed people to talk to the world about their life, their wants or desires, but they certainly aren't authoratiative and are always, always heavily biased. I thought that by now people would have learned that just because you "saw it on the internet" doesn't make it true or legitimate.
I'm a fan of Alpert and GGW. The fact that he's not a perfect human being does not shock me, nor does it upset me when I don't agree with 100% of the things he says or does. I see him as a thoughtful and helpful citizen helping to improve the city. The fact that his voice has grown in the process, to me, is a reflection that a lot of what he says is resonating with people.

Pleated pants are NOT COOL, man. Check out my blog about them.
Sally, you know what people do when they can't attack someone's positions on the merits? Attack their person (accurate or not, anymore). While I don't always agree with what GGW has to say, the ad hominem attack you've just thrown out there tells me that you're one of those people who believes that, unless you were born here, and possibly your parents born here, you're not welcome in DC. Oh, sure, you can come live here, and pay taxes, but don't act like this is your community, and DON'T try to improve things or change things.

Quite frankly, Alpert could probably afford a car, home with parking, parking at his destinations, gas, insurance, etc. much more easily than most of the people better transit benefits most. But having a car-addicted, smog-filled, traffic-jammed city is hard on everyone, especially the poor, and I think it's great that he wants to change that. So why is it that you think your way is better again?

I am a frequent commentor on David's site. While I agree with much of the frustration you express (more below), I will say that there are a lot of commentors posting a VERY WIDE RANGE OF OPINION, and we do not, to say the least, fall in lockstep with David's views. Not about cars, plastic bags, bikes and so on. Not in the least. So, you are a bit off base there. Reflecting this, the problem I have with David sort of gathering up everyone in his arms (the commentors) and characterizing us as "Smart Growthers" (TM) or "urbanists," is that it is FAR FROM THE CASE that we 1) even know what these terms mean; and 2) even agree that we are them. I hate both those terms (reductionist and simplistic), and I disagree with David *a lot*. And he knows it. And so do a few other commentors.

I will agree with you that the fact is that politicians are knee jerk and react quickly to one of GGW's initiatives. And, not to pile on too much here, David also ... has a car. I mention that, because it annoys me personally that he advocates building quickie condos and apartments (ie, to me it seems he takes the developer view too often) and transit (WHICH I'M GLAD HE DOES) while living in his house and keeping a car at it too. There does seem to be a lack of historical perspective and thought many times. It's pretty often "density, density, density." Damn the rest.

Some of the commentors and contributors ARE quite knowledgeable. They are not ALL necessarily the kids you want to portray. So I'd correct you there. And, David goes out of his way to have decision makers on his blog doing live chats. And true experts too.

You might be a regular commentor, I don't know. But I think your criticisms some of which are justified are a bit generalized and over the top.

The issue you raise though is a good one about the influence blogs like these should have in public life. With declining leadership and expertise in our government and media, what are we to do?

The thing about GGW is that David hit upon a fantastic design and it is easy to use. I think he overposts a lot, and I get turned off by that, and the tech also turns a huge segment of the population off, but the simpicity of use and design cannot be argued against and are I'm convinced at the heart of his success. And the fact that he can use restraint.
I commend Alpert for his interest in these subjects. They are important, and his blog is very thoughtful most of the time.

However, Alpert has done little to get out of his bubble to promote his ideas. Instead of trying to convince people that their behavior (ie driving cars) is bad, he would rather try to slip in policies that merely make it less convenient to drive. Unfortunately for Alpert, we aren't seeing fewer cars on the road.

Alpert has the same instincts as many planners. It's not the designs that are flawed, it's the people. Unfortunately for him, there is a political and social side to all of this outside of the halls of the District Building.

Alpert, make an effort to be more inclusive and you could see your ideas really take off. Keep on doing what you're doing and you're likely to make as many enemies as friends.
this will all change when gray is elected
"effeminate"? Bigot!
The ad-hominem attacks being posted here are really disappointing, although perhaps not unexpected for an anonymous comment threat on the web.

What’s great about GGW is that it gets people talking about urbanist issues. If Alpert, or whichever of his authors, is wrong, then by all means, respond to the argument on its merits. Right or wrong, people in DC are thinking about issues that they otherwise might not have. That’s a good thing.

Arguing that the authors are automatically incorrect because of who they are, where they came from, how much money they have, or whether or not they own a car, suggests that it would be better for their voices to be silenced. Or that they don’t have a right to opine on these topics.

The role that GGW plays in the political process should really be inspiring to everyone. The idea that people can rise from nothing and within years have the ear of policymakers is important; especially if the alternative is a closed-to-the-world media system where only ‘insiders’ have any say about anything.
"Alpert has the same instincts as many planners."

Really? My very limited experience with GGW and Alpert himself would suggest that he has the same instincts as many wanna-be politicians and other self-promoters.
Non-experts? I worked Transportation issues for a Congressman for five years...

Gotta love anonymous commentators.
The blog David provides is a great forum. And definitely a needed resource here in Washington to move us into 'how we communicate in the 21st Century' ... a time when print media is either redefining its role or dying. However, David's views are often 'one size fits all' views based on the narrow '20-or-30 somethings', 'yet to settle down', 'white urban hipster' needs of those he advocates most fiercely for. And that of course is a problem when you have a city that is very diverse in many ways. Because electronic media can be so much quicker than the old media, this has caused often distorted results (to our city's detriment) over the past couple of years such as being directly responsible for getting Chairman Gray to allow us to eat dangerously into our reserves (and bring us below the minimums we'd promised Wall Street) to fund a 1 segment streetcar system which doesn't even connect to any other transit system ... where the alternative the chairman had wanted was simply 'a year to study the issue and better plan out an entire system for the entire city." The good news though is that I see David's views becoming more inclusive the longer he lives in DC and the more he himself experiences more facets of life here. For example, he's been exemplary as to his role on the Dupont Circle Conservancy (local historic preservation group) ... for example arguing why a local inn deserved being protected from the ambitions of a developer looking to 'develop to the max' next door to this inn. Ditto his actions in regards to the rebuilding plans of a church across the street from his house. And now his tacit endorsement of Chairman Grey. David definitely has a long term place in the District's planning and land use community. And the more he opens his sights to ALL the community … i.e., realizes that ‘one size fits all’ is not only inequitable but harmful to the interests of the community at large, the more valuable his role in Washington and environs will become.
"I worked Transportation issues for a Congressman for five years"

Hehehe...see, this exactly makes my point.

My sister "worked" energy issues with a Senator for 8 years, does that make her an expert in nuclear power production or power transmission systems? No, in fact she calls an electrician every time she trips a breaker.

I once worked in an office building where Amtrak had an office. Does that make me an expert on rail travel? No. I ride the bus nearly every day of the week, does that make me a transportation expert? No. I eat bread or some baked product almost every day. Does that make me a baker? Again, the answer is no.

Everyone is entitled to "an opinion", but the mistake that thinking your "opinion" is anything other than that, or is more authoratative than those of the people who do these things for a living is just plain ridiculous.

Has he ever rezoned a piece of property? Is he an engineer, has he ever designed a road, or rail bed or modeled traffic flows? Does he have a degree in Planning? The answers to all these questions are without fail, no.

In fact, he frequently ridicules the opinions of those he labels "nimby's" as uninformed, yet he is no more technically or legally qualified on any these issues they they.

Gotta love people who think they "know" something, even though they have zero official credentials to do so.
I disagree frequently with David on issues regarding automobile usage and the need to hold bicyclists accountable for obeying traffic laws. I think he's been far, far too kind to WMATA. But I have never found GGW to be anything but respectful in its tone. It deals with serious issues, in a serious manner.

David has given us a wonderful gift. As Washington continues to develop, these issues of mobility, walkability, and livability become increasingly important. Decisions regarding those matters will affect all of us for decades. The GGW blog gives us a chance to exchange ideas, argue, and even learn from one another. And it does its best to keep our local politicians honest, into the wee hours of the morning.
DTP: David himself may not work in zoning, or be an engineer, or have a degree in planning. But several of his contirbutors are/do.
DTP, we all have our background descriptions on our contributor pages. You can access all contributor pages at

You can see my educational background and how I got involved with transit and urban planning advocacy at
God these comments are idiotic. Racist, biased, fearful, asses. @sally- you're a bigot, a relic and a joke. May you leave town and move somewhere where all the policy decisions are made by people who are non-white, macho and poor (WTF?). This rancid little puddle of comments seems more hung up on a persons credentials, and the status quo, than actual benefits to residents (less pollution, more choices in transport, you know the basics for every other progressive city). Ulysses with his fears of gentrification... other people seeing narci-cyclists (are people really that intimidated/afraid of people on bikes? Why for gods sake? Who cares?)... Sometimes this backwater, ex-suburbanite filled, southern town depresses the hell out of me (Even though I have lived in it my entire life).

I am just thankful that 99% of the people who actually matter are to busy to post comments.
Ulysses, if you actually read GGW--which you clearly don't because you'd know better--you'd know that most of the articles are applied to CITY-WIDE policies, rather than in one ward, neighborhood, or another. In many cases, they are REGION-WIDE policy opinions, with the added bonus of, for example, a Silver Spring-based article, or an Arlington-based article, or an "East-of-the-River" article. Since most planning is done on a city-wide basis, you're not going to see neighborhood-specific articles all the time. Perhaps you'll note, however, that St. Elizabeth's, Ray's, the "Anacostia" naming mistakes, streetcars on MLK, and references to And, Now Anacostia pop up quite frequently, given that East-of-the-River is not a very high-density, highly-populated area compared to the rest of DC and the area as a whole.

East-of-the-River, you'll hopefully note, gets more coverage than such wealthy NW DC neighborhoods as the Palisades, 16th Street Heights, Chevy Chase, and Glover Park. So relax, and read on.
So of the 35 contributors I saw

1. One guy who is soon to graduate with a degree in architecture.
2. 3 Planners
3. Two Geographers

A few didn't bother stating their qualifications, but thats it, ~35 people and there are 6 people who I would consider professionally versed in things GGW lobbies for or against (planning, zoning, transportation, urban design).

Everyone else lists their qualification as "interested in XYZ".

No traffic modelers? No civil or structural engineers, no utility experts no zoning attorney etc...

Well, I have a deep seated interest in the space program, but that doesn't make me an astronaut or qualified to lecture or critique NASA on more efficient orbital flight plans.

Also, my point is now well proven regarding the residency conflicts. It seems a large majority of his contributors aren't District residents, which I imagine is mirrored in the readership which is no less offensive than some Senator from Utah holding up District law because they want to, or MD pastor trying to rewrite DC gay laws considering they lobby the District lawmakers on behalf of whatever issue is near and dear to their hearts.

I wonder of the thousands of supposed emails Gray got from irate "urbanists" about his streetcar funding switch (which he then switched back), how many of them actually live in the District. This kind of interference by a group of underemployed non-residents makes me no less irate than the interference by outside legistators or religious officials the District has to endure.

GGW is pretty awesome. I remember in the bad old days when all we had were a few neighborhood blogs and Richard Layman's blog. Now we have a critical mass of urbanist blogs, and I've learned enough that I can alarm my friends with nerdtalk about dwell times and Barnes dances.
"This rancid little puddle of comments seems more hung up on a persons credentials..."

Yeah, god forbid that someone who gets the ear of flipflopping lawmakers, and speaks on behalf of the entire city be actually qualified to do so.

And no, just because someone doesn't like your subjective "utopia", that doesn't make them "biased" or "fearful".

The guy has ideas. The guy has a blog. The blog has fans. The guy has clout.

You have ideas. You can have a blog. Your blog can have fans. You can have clout.
I think this was a well-written piece, and does a good job at showing how a dedicated group of people have found a way to have their voices heard. Isn't that exactly how politics is supposed to work?

Now, of course, I occasionally contribute to GGW, so I am perhaps a bit biased. However, I would have to say that complaining about the lack of credentials of GGW writers misses the point. Do people in power pay attention to GGW? Sometimes, depending on the issue. Does it mean that a blog post is going to get turned into policy? Certainly not. It's about ideas and looking for ways to make the region better for everyone.

And for what it's worth, what better way for people to become experts than to spend their time studying a topic, writing about it, and talking with experts? All of these so-called "experts" were originally just people who were passionate and figured they had the ability to learn.

I don't see how this is any different than any other civic group coming together to talk about issues. In fact, people want to talk about experts, honestly I'd have to say there's likely more knowledge about these issues among the GGW staff than say the staff of most DC Councilmembers. Sure, many of the ideas floated on the site may be unrealistic, but what's so bad about that? It's usually followed by a lively debate in the comments and it's not as if it magically gets turned into policy because it appears on the site.

I'd rather have a group of dedicated non-experts talking about these things than a room full of experts who don't even think about these matters at all. GGW works as a way to bridge that gap, to get ideas out there, and to get them in front of policy makers, and yes, these so called experts.
I read his internet bulletin board. He seems like a troubled young man.
"And for what it's worth, what better way for people to become experts than to spend their time studying a topic, writing about it, and talking with experts? All of these so-called "experts" were originally just people who were passionate and figured they had the ability to learn."

There are better ways. Boots on the ground. Getting involved, staying involved, less publicity. More work. Doesn't seem to happen much in DC, though. Talking with experts is one thing. Doing the work on an ongoing basis and not expecting awards is something else entirely.

I agree with those who say the bloggers and commentors can just tar someone with the NIMBY label and move on. I complain about it **all the time** on the blog, in fact. David used to have a NIMBY tag. I think he's now removed it, thankfully. Maybe that is one learning experience.

Oh, and Richard Layman's blog is good. It suffers in that it is not as easy to use. But Layman's great. He's practical, he works on the issues, he knows what he is talking about. He needs a more user friendly blog, that is all.
I'm not a DC resident, but I am an American citizen and this is my capital city, so I'm concerned with the affairs of the city where my government makes its regular business.I'm African-American and Southern(which shouldn't matter, but to some it does in this forum) Although I'm under 30, I do pay property taxes on my car, and one day on a property I will own, hopefully in a neighborhood that is safe, walkable,and incorporates urban and even suburban design that does not contribute to developer's pockets over actual affordability, stability and diversity. The GGW blog is an inspiring place and has inspired me to gain more credentials in government policy and urban planning so I can provide the scholarly literature and informed public policy studies we need to show that yes, in some cases, the ideas David and others on the site, as well as on my own site espouse do work in reality and as time goes on will be beneficial to others. While somethings I don't agree with on the site, everyone who uses the road system, walks in, out and to buildings and uses the transit system has good anecdotal evidence that is useful in a body of scientific quantitative studies who's purpose is to record the history and actual use of the items mentioned above.
Oh, and is 32 the new 22 or what?

32 ain't young, City Paper!
Before David started GGW, I found myself dealing with community and neighborhood issues, often in a relatively lone, uphill struggle, thinking, "
gosh, I can't be the only person who things the city should be doing X". Now, with GGW, ideas are floated, real world situations are presented to a broader audience, and where it makes sense, advocacy is born.

I think having a place to test ideas, and share commonality is always a good thing.
With respect to urban planning - there is no *real*
expert who can guarantee a workable solution. Smart
Growth plans can fail just as equally as badly as
traditional urban planning. Calling your adversary
petty names is immature. Most of the time the fruits
of urban planning take decades to realize because
funding trickles in. There are three type of advocacy
in urban planning: the goverment, the neighborhood,
and the developer. Often a project will be advertised
as being "Smart Growth" but whether it is the
*smart* thing maybe another story. A true debate
focuses on the facts and not name-calling. With
respect to public hearings for zoning ordinances
- often the likely course of actions is already been
determine before the public hearing starts.

Reading this makes me really proud of David, Matt, Jaime, and rest of the GGW contributors. I wish I had gotten more involved before I left DC.
Mr. Alpert meddled in the affairs of Brookland and Michigan Park in Northeast Washington in February of 2009. He came to public meetings and a Council hearing, voicing his support for smart growth at the Brookland Metro station and the surrounding nine acres. He presented himself as a Brookland resident at that time. I see, from Ms. DePillis' article, that he was living on Church Street, NW, as of 2008. Somehow I am not surprised. Mr. Alpert is typical of the fascist leaning true believers who have attached themselves to the mayor's coterie, i.e. Mr. Kline and Ms. Tregoning (Office of Planning), etc.. These elitist experts have lorded their superior judgement over the citizens of this city for four years too long. It will be a pleasure to see Mr. Alpert's influence wane when these similarly arrogant opponents to real citizen involvement are thrown out with Mayor Fenty. - John J. Feeley, Jr.
Those may be pleated SHORTS! The horror...the horror. Check out my pleated shorts blog. DCDOT is a FB fan.
The discourse being cultivated at GGW is excellent and needed in DC. Mr. Alpert and the bloggers should all be commended.

John J. Feeley, Jr., smart growth around Metro stations like Brookland-CUA will continue no matter who is elected mayor. It's not just "elitist experts" who support transit-oriented development. Homebuyers and renters do too, as do retailers, restaurateurs, etc. Politicians notice that support and can count tax receipts and votes. Smart growth is successful because it works.

That means that Brookland will change somewhat. More than a quarter-mile or so from the station, Brookland will remain a quiet residential neighborhood. Around the station, you'll suddenly have more neighbors, more stores to go to, more places to eat and have a cup of coffee or a beer. The horror, the horror.
@Matt ... You're a perfect example of the elitism which Mr. Feely was citing. If you don't live there, you can't justify having a say in how the area develops. Which developer's pocket are you in?
"That means that Brookland will change somewhat. More than a quarter-mile or so from the station, Brookland will remain a quiet residential neighborhood. Around the station, you'll suddenly have more neighbors, more stores to go to, more places to eat and have a cup of coffee or a beer."

Did it ever cross your small mind that the people who live there should be the ones who get to decide this and that you don't have the right to dictate it? The arrogance of it all. Thank God Fenty and his arrogant crew will be out of here soon. Will GGW survive? Only if it changes its stripes.
Typical Mickey Mouse civic discourse in DC: an ANC commish actually hurls the word "fascist" at a blogger, while another crank says that you must be secretly working for a developer if you disagree with him, and they all pretend that nobody living in their own 'hood disagrees with them (never mind the notion there might even be a healthy number).

Grow up, guys.
GGW is a great site and David's heart is in the right place, but he doesn't understand historic preservation at all. Instead of criticizing Richard Longstreth, David should take some of Professor Longstreth's courses at George Washington University on historic preservation and american architectural history.

Seriously, a guy has a blog about urban planning Washington City Paper and you make it out to sound like he's the secong coming of Jane Jacobs and Le Corbusier rolled into one.

I'm sitting here, working 5 years after two undergraduate degrees, finally getting accepted into a top 10 Urban Planning Graduate School, just waiting to get my career started. This guy hasn't taken one course or facilitated one community meaning and just because he can recite some technical jargon he's knowledgeable in the field?

This is horse-sh*t.

Hey Washington City Paper, I'm a former Washigntonian about to make it big as an Urban Planner, why don't you write an article about me? I've witnessed open-air gun fights, hand-to-hand drug deals and numerous other issues that plague our urban communities. Write an article about me.
@Disco Duck: I know you're probably half joking, but I am interested in hearing your story, though I'm not heading a major newspaper or magazine! I'm also finishing up an undergrad in design and am looking for urban planning schools, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on selecting one.
Where or when did Alpert ever claim to be an expert on historic preservation? What he is, is, an activist on historic preservation. He's even on the Board of one of the best neighborhood preservation groups in the city, the Dupont Circle Conservancy. And he's on there alongside a mixture of fellow residents with a variety of professional backgrounds.

Just like with the GGW blog, it's called a citizen diving in and getting involved and sparking discussions and organizing other residents to also get involved.

How this might not make sense to someone soaking in academia is not exactly shocking to any of us. Get involved yourself, it's called applying things in the real world.
David has deleted comments that pointed out flaws in his logic or suggested that more fact-checking was necessary. He then banned those commenters. The site has become largely an echo chamber. Incorrect information has gone unchallenged. And David has lost the opportunity to actually discover why others disagree with his conclusions and to learn about the issues. Generally, other viewpoints are misstated, or simply dismissed with insults.

While he has set up a web-site that is attractive and easy to use, his understanding of the issues he discusses has been stunted by his lack of study or experience and his demonstrated unwillingness to learn.

Visitors who go to his blog expecting to learn about urban planning issues will be mislead or disappointed.
BS, Anon. GGW has a regular cadre of dissenting commenters, from the colorful Lance to the more academic Richard Layman, and many others.

But in arguing for rigorous adherence to facts and truth, I guess you're not expecting anyone to value those in your own rhetoric.
Anon #57, there are ways to criticize GGW legitimately. That you feel the need to lie completely undermines any complaints you might have, and those who participate regularly on the blog know not to take you seriously at all.
One of his lackeys on the blog tweeted about taking down some fliers that local citizens had posted to organize opposition to some development in Arlington that the bloggers were all in favor of. That is right about the time I stopped reading.
I don't know about "Anon", but I too have had my comments deleted and then apparantly my IP blocked, both of them... after having the gall to point out glaring omissions, downright falsehoods and raging hypocrisy.

This guy seems to only want to surround himself with people who agree with him, which is fine. But he then loses any and all credibility to legitimately push his ideas (at the behest of others) on public officials.

This guy exudes the same "nimby" like attitude he conveniently dismisses. The only difference is he has a large email list (most of which don't even seem to be DC residents) that he beats District politicians with.
OHMYGOD A TWEET somewhere, by someone, who reads GGW, that said something, about some flyers somewhere.

The horror.

The horror.
Hey "dtp67" how about some facts with your BS breakfast?

You know for certain that a blogger's email address is mostly non-District residents? Says what exactly? (It's a regional blog, btw, cute of you to both ignore that, and to foster an impression that DC City Councilmembers would give a damn about, say 100 emails from Clarendon about a DC zoning case).

You had comments deleted? How about posting them here. Let's see what kind of stuff got you booted, from a blog overflowing with dissent daily. Maybe it had nothing to do with dissent, but rather other content (if it even happened, that is).


But all the irritation being thrown at GGW is entertaining. Opening popcorn, at 9:12am.
See, the foot soldiers are out already to defend. "Netroots" debate is nothing more than RSPW, all grown up. Victory to the loudest and last.
Or maybe we're just residents. And maybe this is just democracy. My town too Steven.

More popcorn over here please!
JDC, if my comments hadn't been deleated, then I could link them to you couldn't I? Really didn't put too much thought into that request did you :)

I am well aware that it is a regional blog. But that has nothing to do with my critisizm. Residents of Arlington, Montgomery County, Alexandria have zero right and no business lobbying District lawmakers on their issues.

"and to foster an impression that DC City Councilmembers would give a damn about, say 100 emails from Clarendon about a DC zoning case"

GGW led the charge against Gray when he exhibited a bit of fiscal sense and decided not to spend 50 million the city didn't have on their precious tram/streetcar. He lobbied all his readers and linked bloggers to send emails to Gray, he provided his contact info, then days later Alpert took credit and was congratulated for Gray's reversal and the thousands of emails he received. The result is that District taxpayers now had to go an additional 50 million in the hole when our budget was already more than half a billion in the red all because some folks in Clarendon thought it would be neat for the District to have a tram. So no, I am not "fostering" anything, and yes...apparently Council members and its own Chairman "gave a damn" about emails from non-constituents, to the detriment of the Districts own residents and taxpayers.

Thats the danger of supposed "email" activism. There is no way of knowing where the email came from. His contributing bloggers seem to be a majority non-district residents, it doesn't take much brainpower to make the logical conclusion that at the very least, a large percentage of his readers are as well.

You stated that a majority of GGW's email list (does it even keep such a thing?) is majority non-DC residents.


Then you state that Gray's decision was in direct response to the assumed majority non-DC emails.

Conjecture on top of conjecture.

JDC: Don't bother with dtp67. I've been involved in DC politics, and seen the type. Anyone who doesn't agree with them is assumed to "not live here". Then when found out to be wrong, like with both of us, they fall back to "not _real_ washingtonians", whatever that means. There is really no point to that debate.
dtp67: Who are you? You criticize people in a nasty personal way, in particular Mr. Albert, who has laid his history on the table for all to see, and worked tirelessly caring about the future of our city, yet you are anonymous.

At the time this occured, I asked online about whether those who'd phoned and emailed CM Gray were DC residents. From the responses, it was pretty clear that most of the commentators on the matter on GGW were NOT residents of DC. As to whether these same commentators actually phoned in/ or emailed the CM in response to David's incitement, I got a mixed response. A few said that they understood that would be wrong and didn't do that. Others said that because they worked in DC and needed transporation while there both to get to work and to partake of their leisure activities in the city, that they felt they had a right to weigh in ... and had indeed phoned and emailed. Most posters simply ignored my request for information on this matter. I'd suspect that is because most posters are indeed from outside DC ... and did infact meddle in our politics. Actually, anytime they comment on a posting that only involves DC, they are meddling. I comment often on GGW but I think I've maybe only once or twice commented on a matter that didn't directly involve DC. And I also rarely comment on matters outside my neighborhood unless they are city-wide matters. I see David involving imself daily in neighborhood matters in which he is not a neighbor. He lives in my neighborhood. That is plain wrong. He justifies it as being an 'advocate' for certain ideas. But if he is an 'advocate' for an idea, he cannot also be a 'journalist' as he often claims to be. The two are not mutually compatible. Either he is the honest broker providing fair and balanced coverage of issues that are important to us, or he is a self-paid shill for a vision he sees himself as being the Glen Beck of a movement that thinks all urban areas, including Washington and environs, should be JUST LIKE the west side of Manhattan.
Lance you mean like all your verbiage on streetcars on H St, while you live over in Dupont or Kalorama?

Thanks for buttering my popcorn with delicious delicious Double Standard Brand butter.
relax people. its just an article in the citypaper, not a fucking nobel prize nor some ticket to greatness.

I will only reiterate what I said earlier: There are some very good ideas on GGW. Some very interesting comments. However, this is not a movement, which is really what it should try to be. Be more inclusive. Stop being pedantic. You will see significant results and have fewer unnecessary battles.

Who am I? You first. Your first and last name please. If you are calling out people to identify themselves on an annon website, you have to as well.

I am a 14 year resident of the District who takes as much offense at the interfering of some non-ANC resident like Alpert, or some Arlington blogger in District politics and legislation, as I do when some Congressman from Utah, or Alaska does it.

I am not sure what in any of my posts has been nasty, but I suspect that you, like many others in life perfer to simply label someone who disagrees with you as "mean", "nasty", "nimby" because you are unable to deal with legitimate constructive critisism. C'est la vie.

And John, I don't have to "assume" anything so I am not sure why you are ignoring the factually obvious. Many of his daily posters admit to not being District residents. The Bios of most of his contributing bloggers are pasted right there on his website, and again many are not District residents. What don't you understand?

You can write about whatever you want, blog about anything you desire. But sending coercive and demanding emails to elected officials you can't elect, testifying, pushing your agenda on officials that don't represent you is ridiculous.

If you don't have a problem with that, I suggest you tell me what ANC / Ward you live in, so I can show up and start pushing my agenda in your neighborhood.
Yes, dtp67, of course, when it comes to streetcars for DC, opinions from someone across ANC boundaries go into the same out-of-bounds wastebasket as opinions from Wasilla, Alaska!

I can see NIMBYsibirsk, Russia, from my back porch.

It's ok though, popcorn's good out here too. Sunset, rocker, iced tea.
couple of questions:
1. does the writer really think that GGW is trendsetting??? The smart growth movement, Tommy Wells, the decision to tax plastic bags, etc are not inventions of this blog! I really appreciate some information provided on GGW, but I always go into conniptions when the media (in any form) overly exaggerates its influence. It's great to have these opinions shared, but let's not go too far with the back-patting.
2. Is there not a conflict with publicly-funded planners openly advocating in a completely not objective manner in a public way? As a publicly-funded planner, it's just not something I would do because of the obvious professional conflict given that we are public servants.
My advice to those who are critical or even questioning of GGW: do not ever give them your full name and email address. Since day 1, I have been leery of how such information might be used, and refuse to ever give a legitimate email address and my name. I do not like the way David sometimes writes like everyone who participates on his blog is an undefined "Smart Growther" (TM) or even more irritating, an "urbanist." And I will not have my name used in one of his campaigns, even one I am for. There are more direct ways to get and stay involved.
I'm not half-joking bro-seph. I'm heart attack serious. I graduated from Undergrad with Bachelor's in Urban Planning and Political Science in 2005. It took me 5 years of working before I was even comfortable trying to apply to grad school. I worked in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and Cleveland (don't snicker, if you would, you don't know how serious it is). I've been in the room where the cogs of still existant machine politics slowly moved the proverbial "greased wheel." I haven't experienced everything, but I know that I've see the highs and lows of working in urban communities.

Even then, I still looked at 12 schools in 12 very different cities to determine which was my best fit. It took me over a year just to visit everywhere. If you want to pick my brain, email me at , just let me know who you are in the subject line and I give you better, more direct advice on the search for graduate schools in Planning&Design than some comment section would provide. I'd be more than happy to provide you with more advice dude or dudette, just email me to make it more direct. I check it 1-2 times a day.


"@Disco Duck: I know you're probably half joking, but I am interested in hearing your story, though I'm not heading a major newspaper or magazine! I'm also finishing up an undergrad in design and am looking for urban planning schools, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on selecting one."
JDC, I have to give you credit. Your-head-in-sand, "continually changing argument because you can't defend your last one" process is entertaining at the very least. The fact you are trying to deny what many of his posters and contributers outright admitted is a little strange to say the least.

By my count I've said it half a dozen times above, but you still don't get it...

My concern on the streetcars was "here we go, these are the critical words so pay attention" for NON DISTRICT residents. Get it?

I am not sure how many other ways I can say it for you. Non-DISTRICT residents get zero say in how the District taxpayers spend their money. Unfortunately, thats not how it happend when non-DISTRICT residents, hundreds if not thousands of them made threats and demands they had no business or power making, and the DC Council chair caved and committed the actual DISTRICT taxpayers to spending 50 mill they didn't have.

You live in the District the fine, you can petition the Council to install slurpee machines on the corner of every block, or whatever you want. You don't live in the District, then butt-out of my cities business and quit contacting my Council pretending to be someone you are not to make demands when you have zero skin in the game.
"Your-head-in-sand, 'continually changing argument because you can't defend your last one' process is entertaining at the very least. "

Right back at ya there, dtp67.
@JDC "Lance you mean like all your verbiage on streetcars on H St, while you live over in Dupont or Kalorama?"

Any streetcar segment that gets built there is part of a citywide system because the technology used on it will without question affect the technology used throughout the rest of the system. It is a "DC issue" ... and NOT a neighborhood issue.
@JDC, if you think that the remaining “dissenting commenters” that David has not blocked from commenting on the site represent the diversity of opinions on these subjects or are capable of correcting a significant portions of the misrepresentation of opposing viewpoints, or pointing out each of the flaws in David’s logic, you are sadly mistaken.

David’s site gives a very narrow slice of opinions, and many errors go uncorrected. As Lance mentioned, he rarely comments on matters outside his neighborhood unless they are city-wide matters. So you cannot rely on him to correct misrepresentations of the concerns of many of the groups and individuals that David dismisses as “antis.” And Richard Layman’s viewpoints on many issues simply are not that different from David’s so his limited presence isn’t providing a diversity of opinions or corrections to misrepresentations about neighborhood concerns.

If you doubt that this is a problem with David’s web-site, you need simply compare the discussion of particular projects with discussion on neighborhood listserves which don’t censor the comments or the official testimony on those projects.

If David had confidence in his representation of the facts, his representations of the positions taken by others, and the robustness of his conclusions, he wouldn’t find it necessary to block comments from IP addresses that have pointed out errors and omissions.

I am writing to complain about the fake subway maps used to illustrate this story in the formal print version of The City Paper.

None of the subway stops are named for Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS). This is an outrageous oversight, and not in keeping with the L'Enfant Plan, as codified by McMillan and Hickenlooper (U.S.C. 1009-1763, Section II).

I believe there are at least two subway stops on the real subway map that reference "Federal," as there should be (I am current Man of the Year at the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, but I digress). I do not know off the top of my head what the names of the subway stops that reference "Federal" might be, as I drive and park, and do not ride the underground. But you get my point.

Under the precedent set by WAMATA and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) by naming two (2) stops "Federal" something, it is required that fake subway maps intending to illustrate the organizations involved in the viewshed of planning and zoning in the District of Columbia and the Federal City MUST include AT LEAST three (3) stops on the fake subway map illustration that reference CHRS. Did I mention that if it were not for me, the subway stop at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE would have been named Navy Yard, and Eastern Market would have gone out of business? Poof! But I digress.

Please immediately reprint the newspaper with the following three subway stops included in your fake subway map: (1.) CHRS (it should be a dead end at the intersection of the fake subway, the 22nd-Century streetcar that is powered by mosquito breath and has no wires, and a parking lot); (2.) CHRS PUD (anyone stopping at CHRS PUD has to pay CHRS $1.3 million for a study of historic buildings we will support demolishing); and (3.) CHRS Hine-Town Square (it should require elimination of any school children I don't like seeing, and then a private developer must tortuously reconfigure their plans to reflect a re-routed Pennsylvania Ave. SE that exists only in my head).

Unless immediate action is taken, we will blockade work on the 11 Street bridges with every copy of the paper we can get our hands on, and then we will sue your ass. Ask the residents in the new Barney Circle Historical District what happens when CHRS is ignored.

Pompously yours,

You know very well what my name is!

Hey "Anon" I'm waiting for the vast sea of voices suppressed and oppressed by David Alpert to surge forth at any moment. Maybe you should run for office or start your own forum, if you are lucky enough to escape GGW! That Alpert is a total Berlusconi and Putin wrapped in one, so be careful out there mmkay? I have no doubt that the sterling and unrivaled civic actions and ideas you hold will be free once again, to breezily waltz between your head, a room full of 20 faces you've seen and known well since the 1990s, and your favorite musty city agency hearing room.

Until then, I wish you Godspeed.
@JDC, I don't know about the veracity of anon's claims about people being blocked, but I do know that the posters on GGW are not representative of the people of Washington in any sense. Because David hasn't seen fit to hold himself to a very basic principle of any journalist, then it is a given that his site will attract more 'members singing to the choir' than his so-called 'antis'. (What a black and white view of the world! Reminds me of Bush's famous: 'You're either with us or against us!' statment.)

I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens when there is a changing of the guard at many of the District's agencies ... after Gray becomes mayor. David has too easily let himself be the cheerleader for any and all ideas other 'white, hipster, 20-or-30-somethings' in any District agency have wanted to try out ... without the proper planning or inclusion of ALL stakeholders.

It may have seemed that the views of the GGW bloggers where 'representive' of what everyone in the District actually wanted, because the agency connections David had surely played it that way to the press. But what the press (and maybe even David) didn't fully understand was that it was actually David being played by these agencies to sell 'their' ideas. Now that 'their' ideas are going to be going by the wayside, I think it'll be a lot clearer how very un-representative of the whole of DC the views of most of his posters are ... in particular the many of which who aren't even District residents.

Interesting times are right around the corner!
*Because David hasn't seen fit to hold himself to a very basic principle of any journalist ... that is BEING UNBIASED, then it is a given that his site will attract more 'members singing to the choir' than his so-called 'antis'.
I agree entirely. People should return to the days when established journalism led us with a rigorous objectivity.
This seems like the classic "neo" liberal BS that fits in place with conservative ideology. So limit parking to encourage walking, reduce congestion and lower rents. in what fucking universe? you just allowed the developers to make a greater profit and give it's tenants/clients less for the same amount of money. Metro was not designed to be a local transit system. it was designed essentially as a commuting rail system to get surburbanites to their jobs in the city!

Again, i hate these recent transplants that think everything is fucked up because its not like NYC. Metro was designed to ease congestion coming into down town DC and built stations at the fringe of densely populated parts of the metro area to relieve commuters. the original ends of the line were : Springfiled, VA; New Carrollton, MD; Silver Spring, MD and White Flint (Rockville), MD. 4 pts along the DC beltway dummies.
Oh yeah, Sally is right!!!!!
Is "smart growth" needed in DC and around the country? Absolutely. Should its definition be "that which appeals to yuppie, rich, well-educated and self-centered man-children who could care less if their actions push out or move funds away from lower-income families?" Hell no.

Alpert has done some great things (e.g. bike lanes) and some extremely shitty things (Streetcars to Nowhere that D.C. cannot afford). His position would be far more interesting if he lived in a less fluffy part of town and used the bulk of his savings on not owning a $1.+ million house to resurrect the opportunities there. Let's face it, he likes things white people like. A lot of people do. The problem is when he pushes for things at the expense of social programs or a functional municipal budget.

I'm all for discouraging cars -- how about a toll for non-residents who drive into the city during rush hour!? -- and promoting municipal and foot-powered transit options. But then he does stuff that is just unnecessary, like a $40 million streetcar "system" when a simple metro bus line with more frequent stops would do. Want to make it greener? Make it an electric bus or a solar-powered one or whatever.

D.C. is a multi-ethnic, multi-income city. It is the only city of its kind where a forest runs through it. We don't have to strain our necks to see the clouds. So let's advocate not just for "smart growth," but INTELLIGENT growth that takes into account our financial position and the impacts actions have on the less-affluent.
I can't speak to the substance of what David Alpert advocates, but I applaud what he is doing in generating a conversation and action instead of just complaints and resignation to the status quo. It is sad to see all the negative commentary by people who misunderstand the role of unstructured media...people complain that he hasn't lived in town long enough to have a valid opinion, that, because he doesn't have a degree in urban planning, he is unqualified to have an opinion, and people think he should be held to the standards of a journalist and not allowed to be biased.

Change begins with a conversation...and online blogs or community news sites can surface the issues that really matter. Sure, someone could hold a public hearing or information session, but most of the time, no one knows about those things until decisions have already been made. Residents can be surveyed...and theoretically, we elect people to represent us. But sometimes it takes a contentious discussion to raise an issue to the point that people start to really think about it. All this guy is doing is sharing information about topics he is passionate about with a goal to make Washington greater. The fact that he has become influential may make some jealous because it seems he created a "shortcut" to bypass what they thought were the appropriate paths to influence, but so what? If you disagree, you can certainly argue your case as well.

I'm not local to DC (although I did live there for a couple years), so I'm sure my opinion would be dismissed by those who feel that you have to live in a town for 10 years to matter, but on a much smaller scale, I've experienced the same kind of growing influence in a town where I started a blog. We are all learning--and maintaining influence depends on listening to the detractors and never forgetting that you are a new, alternative voice. But we are not newspapers seeking to filter ideas or policitcians seeking to represent the majority--we write from our own perspective and welcome discussion--believing that an open discussion of ideas will lead to positive change.
Whoever built the Colosseum was a bad-ass. Whoever put on the gladiator and lion shows on the inside was huckster. Anybody who confuses the two makes the biggest mistake of all.

That's GGW in a nutshell. Alpert built a colosseum, but the stuff that goes on inside is mostly entertainment. The people who don't like GGW are frustrated by the times politicians confuse the gladiators for the colosseum.
@dtc67 The problem is, when people in Brookland say that there cannot be density on top of the Brookland Metro station, that is prohibiting the city of leveraging tax income, retail income etc from its investment in the Metro Station. It is also preventing nearby residents from improved amenities. Maybe it is something for which you are opposed, but there are plenty of Brookland residents who want these neighborhood improvements, and there is an asset that would help the city - so in a sense, it is a city wide issue.

@Mr. Bigglesworth, issues like tolling at the city boarder (or at beltway exists) and commuter taxes have been discussed on the GreaterGreaterWashington blog. Just do a search and you will see a wide variety of perspectives, even if it isn't a feasible solution because of federal oversight.
Take the time to watch the entire City Council hearing on Brookland. THEN go back and read what ANC Commissioner wrote above, and his words will become the cranky nonsense they are, right before your eyes. David never claimed to be living in Brookland, and Feeley's nasty insults for Harriet T. and others are just bitter words after his sounding nice about her at the hearing, and even most of the "antis" at the hearing saying she was very thoughtful to deal with.

EIGHTEEN months process, maybe 30 meetings, and John Feeley in that hearing video admits he never held a single member district meeting on this huge issue, never went around the neighborhood and flyered houses to poll their opinions (in response to good questions from Vince Gray and Harry Thomas about what he and other commissioners did to sit there and say they truly represent their constituents). And after all that, they sit there and say start over, from scratch.

February 10, 2009, go to Council's website and look it up, it's VERY enlightening after now watching it and having read all the nonsense in this thread. What a show!
Late to the game, but I have to respond to the effeminate rich white guy comment... I am a contributor, and yes, I'm white. Second generation American white. I also make my big bucks as a Federal employee. They pay so well that the last seven years I've lived in a small bungalow in Prince George's County. And I'm super effeminate, just ask anyone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan with me, or any of the guys who have coached football with me in Silver Spring.

When considering the groups that oppose the issues GGW supports, (such as Columbia Country Club or the Committee of 100) I would argue that we have a robust and diverse cornucopia of people contributing to GGW. Perhaps there is a concentration of students of urban planning and architecture, perhaps there is a concentration of younger folks, but come on out to one of our contributor meetings and you are likely to see many different types of people.
On another topic, this week David Alpert decided to get into the endorsement business. Good idea! In theory, it might be instructive to hear the well-thought-out arguments someone from this particular viewpoint would make in favor of one candidate over another.

In practice, what a hot mess. I'm from Ward 6, where David's dumpling darling CM Tommy Wells is in a contested primary. Albert should be embarassed by what he wrote in opposition to Wells' opponent:

"His opponent, Kelvin Robinson, has attacked these policies with vague racial innuendo"


David's is not the only source of information about the Ward 6 debate on the whole world wide web.

Go here to read a summary of the debate sponsored by Eastern Market Metro Community Association and a complete transcript of everything said.

Go here to read a summary of the debate sponsored by DefeatPoverty DC and the Ward 6 Democrats, and watch video clips of the debate.

I challenge David Albert to find ONE instance of "vague racial innuendo" in Mr. Robinson's remarks. David's dismissal of Robinson amounts to a false and unsubstantiated allegations, name-calling and an ad hominem attack on Robinson that is beneath GGW and should not be tolerated.

Oooooops, what did I just say?

The funny part is that, of course, the commenters took Albert to task for his false, black-face minstrel portrayal of Robinson, so fiercely that Albert had to send his brand new Asst. Editor Matt Johnson in to delete a bunch of comments and threaten to ban one commenter taking issue with Albert.

The grounds for this ungracious behavior toward a guest of GGW?

Asst Editor Matt Johnson scolded the commenter thusly: "It is also not appropriate to post unsubstantiated allegations or to resort to name-calling. Ad hominem attacks will not be tolerated."

Ummmm, isn't that precisely what Albert did to Robinson here?
Nice try Tulee Pist. I'll leave this one to Tom Sherwood:

"you talk a lot about 'oldtimers' and 'newcomers'--when you say 'newcomers', aren't you really talking about 'white people'?

Kelvin Robinson's response?

"a lot of people are talking about 'white people'. I'm not talking about 'white people', just talking about the concerns of people who are talking about 'white people'."
Oh, this is lame on so many levels, JDC.

1. What I offered you and other readers was not a "nice try," it was an opportunity for you to read the transcript of one debate and watch video of another. Did you do you homework, or are you just going to cling to this failed example of what you seem to think is Robinson's campaign of "vague racial innuendo"?

2. Second, I think you made up the quotes. Can you cite the time stamp? I cannot find the exchange you "quote" quote here. What I can find, starting at 39:15, is Tom Sherwood badgering and interrupting Robinson, trying to corner Robinson into a no-win, gotcha corner that Robinson correctly dodged. The exchange is demeaning to Sherwood, to Robinson, to Wells and to Kojo. That's why Kojo cuts Sherwood off at 42:05. Listen to that segment and find me the "vague racial innuendo."

3. Most importantly, you ignore the whole Kojo show, the whole EMMCA debate, the whole Ward 6 Democrats debate (see the video clips) and post one exchange, possibly a false exchange you made up (correct me if I am wrong with the time stamp) and try to turn a very impressive candidate, former Mayor Williamson chief of staff and current ANC Chairman Kelvin Robinson as some kind of Stepin Fetchit-cum-demagogue. Sheesh. And shame on you.

Anyone can pull a quote out of context, or make up a quote, and paint a false picture.

Here is an actual, documented, true exchange between Wells and the moderator at the EMMCA debate:

COUNCILMEMBER TOMMY WELLS: In many ways through benign attention had been supporting taxpayer money for oppressing and discriminating others and realized that not only was same sex marriage an important civil right but also that things like vouchers, where we take vouchers paid by taxpayers that include gay and lesbian taxpayers and then they’re used by organizations and schools that then discriminate….I realized that we were just turning a blind eye and that we were using again against the folks that were testifying saying “This is our civil right,” we were taking their taxpayers to fund organizations who would then discriminate against them.
MODERATOR’S QUESTION: When you talk about a group that discriminates against women, you’re talking about the Catholic Church?
MODERATOR: How much money do Catholic charities currently receive in other funds from the District? Why don’t you cut off all funding to Catholic charities?
WELLS: That was exactly the issue….I think you also pose a good question, though, in terms of how our taxpayers moneys are used and is it funding discrimination.
(Source: Ward 6 Democratic Council Candidates’ Forum, August 24, 2010, Southeast Library)

Shouldn't I read that and conclude Tommy Wells is an anti-Catholic bigot? Is he some kind of KKK hood-wearing, No-Nothing Party, nativist anti-Papist?

Love the DC, non-DC dialogue going on up there. Here's the thing, unlike gay marriage (which really doesn't effect ANYONE who's straight, resident or not), transportation issues effect a whole huge group of people who may or may not be residents of the subject area. While I live in the District, so it's my money on the line for all transportation projects in DC, I don't live, say, in Dupont Circle. But I do like to go to Dupont Circle for shopping and entertainment. So, if a transportation issue that would make my life going to Dupont Circle better or worse came up, I have an interest in that topic, and a right to weigh in. People who don't live in DC, but work and recreate here, have a legitimate interest in being able to get to work and have fun in the District. And we should welcome their input to a point. If they say "if I could get to H street easier, I would go out to eat there more," we should listen. If a business not currently located in DC says "we may locate in X area if transportation/housing/infrastructure was better," we should listen, because that's tax revenue and jobs we could get our hands on. By going out to eat or seek entertainment or locate a business in an area of the city, these non-residents are contributing to our tax base. If we make it easier for TOURISTS to get around DC, such that they spend more time and money here, people from Oklahoma will end up expanding our tax base and improving all of our lives. People from Clarendon and Oklahoma shouldn't be able to waltz in and tell us exactly what to do in our own neighborhoods, but transportation, safety, and economic growth effect people who DO NOT live here. And I'll tell you what, as DC has developed over the last several years, I have A LOT of friends who used to live in the suburbs who have moved into the city, bringing their income, sales, gross receipts, etc., taxes with them.

Jesus, people. Get over yourselves.

Oh, and I love the idea of the streetcar. We should have never torn them out in the first place. I would gladly take my car to a junkyard and pass the $2000 a year or so that I spend on insurance, maintenance, and gas along to better public transportation, if I could get everywhere and anywhere conveniently.
Amen, Mrs. D. As for "Trulee Pist," well his stuff just keeps getting crazier (kind of like DC's political culture, no matter how many times I've hoped it's perhaps improved).

Trulee (actually) asked: "Is he [Tommy Wells] some kind of KKK hood-wearing, No-Nothing Party, nativist anti-Papist?"

Last time I checked, no. Moving past the pure crank rhetoric, my previous post was a paraphrase, the reality is worse, and I got your time stamps right here, pal:

1:23, Sherwood asks about racial divide, Kelvin dodges, esp. at pt 2:03

Kelvin's dodging is the intellectually and morally bankrupt equivalent of some GOP pol saying, in response to a question on Obama's religion: "well, that's the debate people are having, we need to have a debate" instead of aggressively and forthrightly taking a rhetorical fire extinguisher to divisiveness.

But as someone who peppers your rhetoric with the crankspeak mentioned earlier, Trulee, I'm betting you have a tin ear for my point.

Everyone else, watch the vid. Wells excels.
Oh, I see.

You "paraphrased" the "quote" quote in your original comment.

Now you have written a new "paraphrase." None of that is causing your credibility to increase in my eyes.

Just so you are clear on this, JDC, your timestamp (taken from YouTube) and mine (an audio file from Kojo's site) are pointing to the exact same part of the conversation.

I am going to stick with my paraphrase as more accurate, when I wrote:

"I cannot find the exchange you "quote" quote here. What I can find, starting at 39:15 [Kojo audio file time stamp], is Tom Sherwood badgering and interrupting Robinson, trying to corner Robinson into a no-win, gotcha corner that Robinson correctly dodged. The exchange is demeaning to Sherwood, to Robinson, to Wells and to Kojo. That's why Kojo cuts Sherwood off at 42:05 [audio file time]. Listen to that segment and find me the "vague racial innuendo."

The challenge I made stands, whether you use your time stamp or mine, go to that section and type out the exact quote that will show to God and everybody that Kelvin Robinson engaged in what David Alpert called, falsely, "vague racial innuendo." It is not there.

Here, I'll make it easy-peasy for you, because I don't want a third "paraphrase" from you. I'd like facts.

Starting at 1:23 on YouTube:

SHERWOOD: Some people have suggested, and this is a racial question,[you] as an African American, some people have suggested that the streetcars and the bag tax and the bike lanes and all that are somehow anti-black, or are just favoring the upper-income white people of this city. I find it incongruous that people would say that. But you've heard that argument. Do you buy into that somehow or other that's catering to the well-to-do white people in town, that somehow black people don't ride bicyles.

KELVIN ROBINSON: Again, I think that those issues are really issues that don't deal with the day-to-day lives of individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. I mean, when we talk about...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): Is there a racial aspect to that?

ROBINSON: Well, some have certainly suggested....

SHERWOOD (interrupting): No, I don't mean some, whether you think there is a racial aspect to that.

ROBINSON: I'll leave that for those who would consider whether they're getting the kind of support they need in the areas...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): You're suggesting that you're open to the idea that there's a racial aspect to Mr. Wells support of those items?

ROBINSON: Well, let me just say that in the ward I believe...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): It's a very sensitive issue and that's why I want to be as clear as possible, and not code words.

ROBINSON: I have said at my ANC Commission meetings that I chair in 6A, that the racial tension is palpable, and we need to have a conversation in our ward about those issues. We cannot ignore them, and we ought to be forthright in having a real conversation about the change that's undergoing in the ward. Look...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): So you believe there's a racial disparity in the way Mr. Wells represents the ward. You want to have a conversation about it but you don't want to say it.

ROBINSON: That is not what I've said, and what I believe is, as we have change in our communities and we have new people coming, and a majority of those people are coming without the understanding...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): They are white people. I just want to be as clear as possible about this.

ROBINSON (annoyed): Well, I am too!

KOJO (hopping in to save Sherwood from himself): Allow me to help clarify because economic tensions in our city often manifest themselves as racial tensions...

ROBINSON: Thank you!

(BTW, Sherwood himself later acknowleged that "Kojo said it better than me, that economic disparities can also have a racial affect.")


Knock yourself out. Point me to the words that support David Alpert's pernicious charge that Kelvin Robinson engages in "vague racial innuendo."

And JDC, when you are finished with that close textual analysis, here's another assignment for you.

Read the actual words Tommy Wells said, and tell me. What is Tommy Wells' attitude toward the Catholic church?

MODERATOR’S QUESTION: When you talk about a group that discriminates against women, you’re talking about the Catholic Church?
MODERATOR: How much money do Catholic charities currently receive in other funds from the District? Why don’t you cut off all funding to Catholic charities?
WELLS: That was exactly the issue….I think you also pose a good question, though, in terms of how our taxpayers moneys are used and is it funding discrimination.
Second-last quote for you to read. These are real-live actual quotes, now, not paraphrases.

Who said:
"But in arguing for rigorous adherence to facts and truth, I guess you're not expecting anyone to value those in your own rhetoric."
(See Comment #58 for the answer)
Last quote, but first I owe you a very sincere apology, JDC, regarding my comments on Tommy Well's attitude toward faith-based social service providers in DC. I see I did not make myself clear.

What I meant to say was,

"Anyone can pull a quote out of context (as in my case in the example that follows, where I pull together everything Wells said about Catholic Charities, and present only that, as if to leave the impression that Wells is a frothing-at-the-mouth Roman Catholic Church-hating Norwegian. In context, Wells' comments were in response to a specific question, not something Wells brought up),
or (as in your case) make up a quote, and paint a false picture."

Obviously Wells is not an anti-Catholic bigot. He is just trying to put political pressure on his challenger, Kelvin Robinson, for Robinson's service as Vice Chair of the Board of Catholic Charities. Who wouldn't?

So, the last quote--how in the Sam Hill does Robinson explain his association with Catholic Charities? This should be good. What does he say Catholic Charities does, exactly?

"COUNCIL CANDIDATE KELVIN ROBINSON: Catholic Charities is an organization that for the past 80 or some-odd years has been providing, in partnership with the District, some of the most comprehensive social service programs in the region. It is the largest social service agency providing much-needed support to families who need it. …They come to our doors every single day, every night, looking for a place, looking for unconditional love to get their needs met."
So no one who was not born in DC has a right to any opinion on local politics?
Is Trulee having a conversation with himself at this point? And will it get physical? Is he the new NOODELZ of the CP comments threads?
Jazzy at 59, Your reaction, accusing me of lying when I pointed out that David has deleted my comments and barred me from further posts after I have pointed out flaws and errors, highlights that you (and probably others) find David’s choice to eliminate comments that are critical of his analysis to be inappropriate. Yet, I have not lied, and dtp67 says that his posts were deleted and he was also barred after pointing out “glaring omissions, downright falsehoods and raging hypocrisy.” And at times, David has boasted about blocking certain participants.

David has a talent for setting up an attractive web-site and a clear writing style, as well as a knack for self-promotion, but he also lacks background and experience in the issues that he discusses. He has shown by his actions that he isn’t interested in having his errors corrected or learning from others who do not share his preconceived notions. So, at the age of 30 and with no background, he seemed to have determined that he has nothing new to learn, and his blog reflects that decision. And at age 32, he has not yet realized that this decision is short-sighted.

So, read and rely on his blog at your own risk, and do not assume from the dearth of comments correcting errors or flawed reasoning that the information presented is correct or that there is any merit to the analysis presented.
On many issues, #107, you are preaching to the choir.

But, I have participated on GGW it seems like from the get go, and in my experience, David appears to delete when there is profanity or over the top attacks of a personal nature. I criticize him ALL THE TIME, and though I do not go back and check all of my comments, in the hundreds at least, I do not think he has deleted a one. (Unless I have asked him to, when I posted on the wrong entry, for example)

I never rely on his blog for judgment calls at least. About anything important or substantive, I always research.
#107, I would recommend that in the future, you document which entries have been deleted.
I have never seen David delete a comment based on content - he only deletes comments based on courtesy, profanity, or ad hominem personal attacks.

You can disagree - in fact, that kind of discussion is welcomed - but you have to do it nicely. You have to do it based on the issues.

And, chances are, if you can't manage to put your criticisms in a polite manner, your criticisms aren't that strong to begin with.
We can bet Trulee's crackpot thread hijacking above, replete with cutting and pasting entire transcripts or document copy, is the kind of whacked out stuff that gets deleted from GGW, and good thing too. In fact, there still remain on GGW threads warnings from the editor to stop exactly that kind of thread hijacking. So let's be clear and put away the violins for the few on here who, despite many GGW dissenters saying their stuff remains on GGW all the time, claim oppression.
Alex, Jazzy I can assure you that my comments did not involve lapses in courtesy, profanity or ad hominem personal attacks. They simply pointed out errors, omissions, and fallacious arguments. They were deleted. My ability to post was blocked after I had pointed out issues that David was not able to address, because the flaws that I highlighted were valid.

And, apparently, my polite, but pointed, contributions to the discussion are not welcome. David has used the spam blocker to prevent my participation as well as the participation of others. The criticism that I posted was strong, and would have been persuasive if David allowed it to stand. In fact, I usually pointed out fatal flaws in David’s analysis, clear factual errors with citations included, or examples in which David posted information from questionable sources without fact-checking. Without the ability to compose a strong rebuttal, David, instead chose censorship.

This is his forum, and he can limit participation as he chooses, but apparently, other frequent participants and contributors don’t realize that David has blocked those that have pointed out serious errors in his posts.
"Vague racial innuendo," JDC. Prove it. Without making sh*t up.
An interesting fact to note: Frank Llyod Wright, named "the greatest American architect of all time" by the AIA in 1991 (and rightly so), didn't have a degree in architecture, or in anything else.

That would be quite impossible in today's litigious society.

Try to be tolerant of the exception, it makes life interesting. And makes for a hell of a good story.
"factual errors with citations included"

Yes I'm sure, including your habit of obsessive citation mania, thousands of words. It's off limits on any quality thread. Glad GGW doesn't put up with it. Glad that PLENTY of comments highly critical of GGW stand there, all over GGW, to prove your delusional victimhood wrong.

Like the cranky shouters we see at the Brookland hearing, and many others, you're angry at GGW because of its success, and the rest we call "rationalization." I could explain that with "citations included" but prefer not to burden you with the Merck manual re: emotional issues.
"vague racial innuendo"

I'll take your silence as assent, JDC. You can't prove that explosive charge. You agree that the quote you made up to prove it was false.

David Alpert, who originated that false statement about Robinson, and whose entire analysis of Robinson is that lie, has nothing to say. There is nothing else in GGW's analysis of the Ward 6 challenger except that lie.

If Alpert will not come forward and fix this, that smelly lie will hang around his neck and the neck of GGW forever.
Alex, The comment that was deleted was one in which I offered to post a link to a transcript (when it became available) to allow blog readers to determine for themselves whether David’s testimony demonstrated that he correctly interpreted the proposal that he claimed that the “antis” had all misinterpreted. When I attempted to post the link, along with sufficient information for readers to find and consider the relevant sections, I discovered that my earlier message had been deleted and I was blocked from any further posting on David’s blog. Apparently, David was not confident enough in his own understanding and words to allow readers to judge this testimony, in context, for themselves.

JDC. Sorry, but my posts were neither long nor rambling, but they raised basic questions about the facts and analysis. While there are some critical comments in GGW now, there are quite a few topics where basic errors have gone unchallenged and flawed logic has not been exposed.
"that smelly lie will hang around his neck and the neck of GGW forever"

in your little head, TR, yes it will. for the rest of us, the stench of KR's vague racial innuendo, and the smell of political death after his numbers come in on Primary night, will overwhelm. drink up on 9/13, 'cause you'll feel better about election night 24 hrs. later.
Anon, there are not "some critical comments in GGW" but rather many, across the entire site. Lame spin attempt. The criticism is there, disproving your imaginary victimhood.
JDC, I am not the “victim” here. The “victims” are people like you who read GGW and think that the information is accurate and the analysis is solid, and that the posts are actually being vetted through the comment section.
Anon, nice dodge of the central point: you claimed GGW culls out negative commentary, but it's all over the comment threads there. Your credibility tanks again. And instead of spending your time on imaginary victimhood, perhaps your oh so obviously correct "facts and analysis" should be soaring into the DCMR with regularity, waltzing throughout the decisions of the HPRB, and much more. That would be happening if your truths were so true, your information so professionally presented, and your advocacy so potent.

Or maybe GGW is your latest excuse for not winning.

Convenient. All half dozen serious GGW haters: go get your own groove on. We're waiting. Meanwhile we're also winning.

Thanks. I'd be interested in knowing what the issue was, as well as viewing the link you posted originally.

"the stench of KR's vague racial innuendo..."

I'm still waiting. I'm patient. Can you prove it?
Trulee, you appear to like your racial innuendo even stronger than I expected:

"would that make me black? Or would you have to see me dance first?"
Still waiting patiently.

Do you have any proof that Kelvin Robinson has ever engaged in vauge racial innuendo, or does the author of that calumny, David Alpert, have any proof?

Or was Alpert's analysis as much a lie as your "quote" quote of the exchange between Sherwood and Robinson that occurred nowhere in the universe except in your head?

Looks to me from the transcript Truly Pissed posted that Kelvin Robinson is happy to demagogue on the issue of white people moving into Ward 6. Wonder how he would have talked if he'd been on WHUR or WPGC instead of WAMU. Wonder how he talks when he's on the doorstep asking Shaniqua for her vote.

Obviously, many black Washingtonians are unhappy that Chocolate City is turning vanilla. Maybe they can hold a seance and commiserate with the white Washingtonians of yore who were unhappy about all the Negroes moving into their fair city. Tastes change, places change.
You say, "Kelvin Robinson is happy to demagogue on the issue of white people moving into Ward 6" and engage in "vague racial innuendo."

Can you give me one example of that?
Here you go, Pissed. When some red-state politician talks about "some have suggested" Obama might not be an American citizen, and says that we should "have a real conversation" about the issue, we recognize pretty fast that that politician is too smart to believe the nonsense himself, but too cagey to walk away from the votes of the idiots who believe it. So he talks in dog whistles, signaling to those who know that he's one of them without alarming those who don't understand the code.

That's what Robinson is doing. Black people in Ward 6 see various improvements as part of The Plan, and Robinson is signaling to them that he recognizes their desire to limit demographic changes in Ward 6, even though he can't come out and say it, at least on WAMU. Robinson is effectively saying, "If you're angry or fearful about white people moving into Ward 6, then vote for me." And again, if Robinson feels comfortable enough to speak in code on WAMU, what's he saying when he talks to (black) individuals?

KELVIN ROBINSON: Again, I think that those issues are really issues that don't deal with the day-to-day lives of individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. I mean, when we talk about...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): Is there a racial aspect to that?

ROBINSON: Well, some have certainly suggested....

SHERWOOD (interrupting): No, I don't mean some, whether you think there is a racial aspect to that.

ROBINSON: I'll leave that for those who would consider whether they're getting the kind of support they need in the areas...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): You're suggesting that you're open to the idea that there's a racial aspect to Mr. Wells support of those items?

ROBINSON: Well, let me just say that in the ward I believe...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): It's a very sensitive issue and that's why I want to be as clear as possible, and not code words.

ROBINSON: I have said at my ANC Commission meetings that I chair in 6A, that the racial tension is palpable, and we need to have a conversation in our ward about those issues. We cannot ignore them, and we ought to be forthright in having a real conversation about the change that's undergoing in the ward. Look...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): So you believe there's a racial disparity in the way Mr. Wells represents the ward. You want to have a conversation about it but you don't want to say it.

ROBINSON: That is not what I've said, and what I believe is, as we have change in our communities and we have new people coming, and a majority of those people are coming without the understanding...

SHERWOOD (interrupting): They are white people. I just want to be as clear as possible about this.

ROBINSON (annoyed): Well, I am too!
Hi, Mr. "...".

Kelvin Robinson says, "These are issues that don't deal with the day-to-day lives of individuals who are struggling to make ends meet," and "I have said at my ANC Commission meetings that I chair in 6A that the racial tension is palpable" and "we ought to be forthright in having a real conversation about the change that's undergoing in the ward."

To me, that sounds like Robinson is the adult in this conversation. Sherwood's contribution is not elevating, and though you cut it off in your cut-and-paste, Kojo stepped in at exactly that point to cut Sherwood off and try to elevate the conversation again.

I still don't see any "vague racial innuendo." In fact, the opposite. Robinson's saying that at ANC-6A, a racially mixed ANC where he's chairman, he's trying to be forthright and bring this conversation out into the open where adults can address the policy issues, in a real discussion about policy priorities. He'd like to do the same as CM. But that's just me (and Kojo)...different people can interpret the words and the videos differently.

See how much better the conversation can go when everyone addresses the facts and truth? Much better than that idiot up at #97 who just makes up a question from Sherwood and an answer from Robinson that never happened and was a lie. Sometimes at GGW, David Alpert does the same thing--removes comments that bring facts to bear that disprove his unfounded thesis on this topic or that one.

With all due respect, Mr "...", I do have to scold you for making unfounded allegations, and resorting to name-calling and ad hominem attacks--GGW and his Asst Editor say that's not tolerated on the tony pages of GGW.

When you say, without any proof, that Robinson:

* would say something different on WHUR or WPGC than he said on WAMU
* would say something different when he's on the doorstep asking Shanique for her vote.

You don't have any proof for that. Your speculation is "vague racial innuendo," for which you ought to be ashamed of yourself. And your baseless, offensive race-baiting is the exact opposite of everything we know about Kelvin Robinson and his extensive experience in important positions in government.

With that, I have to go. I hope you will never engage in the evil practices of the commenter at #97 and inject falsehoods into conversations and claim they are facts; I am glad you are willing to start with the facts, such as the transcript you cite.

I also hope you will look into your soul and inquire whether those overheated conspiracies you invent, among people whose names you find laughable, conducted (you believe) through "vague racial innuendo," don't actually really happen out in the real world (at least, you come with no evidence or proof of it), but rather, occur in reverse somewhere very close to home for you and Mr. David Alpert.
"I never rely on his blog for judgment calls at least. About anything important or substantive, I always research." --Jazzy

Yup--infotainment. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I read GGW several times a week. Sometimes I agree; sometimes I disagree. Sometimes the GGW poster makes a point, but then I see a useful counterpoint in the comments.

What they're doing is providing a set of voices and viewpoints (as well as an opportunity for opposing viewpoints in comments) on a set of issues that are tremendously important both for the District and for surrounding communities. No other forum I'm aware of provides as much coverage of these issues in our locality. No other forum I'm aware of discusses them so attentively. I may not always agree with GGW, just as I don't always agree with the 3-4 blogs that cover my neighborhood. Nonetheless, I'm glad that GGW exists to further my understanding of these issues, just as I'm glad about the existence of neighborhood blogs which let me know about ANC-, crime- and development-news. Sometimes you learn from people you disagree with. As long as GGW is a respectful, rational voice on issues we need discussed (and note -- just because someone disagrees with you, or doesn't have the degrees you have, or even happens to be wrong, does not mean they're irrational or disrespectful), then I'm tremendously glad to have their voice added to the mix.
@oh please <i>As long as GGW is a respectful, rational voice on issues we need discussed (and note -- just because someone disagrees with you, or doesn't have the degrees you have, or even happens to be wrong, does not mean they're irrational or disrespectful), then I'm tremendously glad to have their voice added to the mix.</i>

Except the minute GGW, i.e., David Alpert, starts labelling those who don't agree with his opinions as 'antis' or 'opposed to change on principle', then the views have ceased to be either rational or respectful. A line has been crossed. It's the old 'if you can't argue on logical grounds, then resort to demonizing your debate opponent'. Frankly, this speaks volumes. It reminds me of Bush's 'You're either with us or against us'.

I know its possible that the City Paper took David's words out of context. But were that the case, I would have expected David to forcefully diassociate himself with the way he appears to paint each and every person and each and every organization that is not in lockstep with his opinions. He did not do that. He actually got on his own blog and instead said:

<i>"You know you've arrived when..."</I>

Can someone really think they have all the answers? And everyone else is ... well ... just wrong ... And just want to see things stay as they are because 'that's the way they've always been' ... or because 'we just want to oppose David Alpert" ... ?

Jazzy, The deleted post was simply a response to Lance that I would post a hearing transcript when available. The transcript that I intended on posting was for the April 9, 2009 Zoning Commission hearing, and when I went to post the link, I found that I was blocked from posting.

The transcript includes David’s condescending testimony claiming that others misunderstood OP’s proposal, when in fact his description of how they erred highlighted David’s own errors and that he considered only a few bullet points rather than each of OP’s 17 recommendations.

He also stated that some people saw disadvantages in things that OP stated were advantages, implying that the opponents must be mistaken. Presumably, he did not understand or possibly did not even try to understand the risks or harms that opponents described, and that OP’s statement that these changes are advantageous does not obviate the possibility that others find the changes to be harmful nor does it eliminate the need to evaluate the impact.

There was other related information that was posted for the hearing which might make the transcript easier to interpret, so an evaluation of David’s understanding of the issues would benefit from a review of the transcript and the official file.
For Disco Duck and others decrying Alpert's lack of experience, the great irony is that Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities is required reading for most graduate programs in urban planning in this country, yet Jacobs had nothing more than a high school diploma when she wrote the book and set herself on a path to become one of the most respected critics of American planning in our nation's history. She was as much activist as she was a critic of planning and design, and took on any number of "expert" engineers, planners, etc. who proposed to build - and in a lot of cases did - the same types of projects that DC's Committee of 100 successfully opposed.

GGW certainly doesn't get everything right (who does?) and I do not mean to imply direct comparison of Alpert to Jane Jacobs. As an urban planner working in the area, however, I appreciate that GGW is helping to motivate folks to take an interest in critical planning issues like improved multi-modal transportation in a growing metropolitan region. (I do think a greater diversity in the demographics of the contributors could improve upon GGW's offerings and broaden its appeal.)

There are plenty of "experts" (planners, structural engineers, etc.) working in local and regional government, or in the private sector advising these governments on planning and land use matters. Sometimes these experts are up to date on best practices and sometimes they're not, but regardless, most of the time they are not the decision makers. The decision makers' choices may or may not be based on the best available information from experts, but they are almost always based in part on the desires of residents/constituents, neighborhood groups, developers and their attorneys, business owners, other appointed/elected officials, etc. In my view, community members that are conversant with today's theories for designing compact, transit oriented and accessible development, are welcome allies for planning "experts" who have been trained to plan the same but are typically not vested with decision making authority.
Anon, thank you. I tried to find a link to the video, but couldn't.
Great article. These battles are going on all over the country. When did The District block folks from parking their horses outside their houses? The 'New' Urbanism isn't new, it's a return to a pre-autocentric city. Cars are OK but they can't be the central focus of the transportation system. A polluting car moving one person has to yield to a bus with 20+ people on board (less polluting) or to large numbers of bicycles (no pollution + health benefits).
Jazzy, I don't think that they had video-on-demand then. They only had streaming video, and if you didn't watch it live, only the 234 page transcript (searchable) is available after the hearing, posted a week or two after the hearing. That should be easy to locate.
@thebob.bob <i>A polluting car moving one person has to yield to a bus with 20+ people on board (less polluting</i>

Actually, we had this discussion on GGW. Cars are much maligned. And falsely. With the catalytic converters of today, the exhaust emitted by todays cars is arguably cleaner than the city air into which it is emitted. Additionally, much mass transit is actually far more polluting AND much less efficient in total terms of energy used than a personal vehicle. Why? Because (a) buses/streetcars etc. most of the day travel with only a fraction of their capacity of people (b) they can only truely be economical on routes where there are a lot of people going to the same places at the same time and (c) many mass transit vehicles rely either on dirty deisel or electricty ... which tends to be produced with dirty coal. I.e., Cars are most certainly the cleaner choice. And of course, bikes (or feet) work too ... provided you don't have very far to go, not much to carry (forget about carrying grown kids), and it's neither too hot, too cold, too rainy, too snowy, too humid ... i.e. too 'Washington weather'. Yep, you can't beat the old automobile for an effiencient and far-less polluting alternative to other means of getting around.
I don't recall the usual people who were usually involved in planning debates in DC to have ever complained that the discussions weren't being handled in the right way. Never heard a word. Then, a guy comes along and creates a blog that advocates for a different view, gets tens of thousands of readers and creates lots of debate and gets lots of new people to start emailing their members of city council and testifying at commissions and such.

And all of the sudden the existing voices, almost none of them with any transportation or planning experience when they first started getting involved, don't think things are being discussed in the right way.

That's why they are losing the momentum on all the issues, because the new voices don't understand anything, or because the new voices just didn't let the old voices go on and on for another couple thousand words, basically repeating the same losing argument over and over.

Seems to me the real issue for the existing voices is the very existence of new voices! Things are usually what they just plain seem to be, and that just plain seems to be the situation here.

Nobody is preventing anybody from having a voice in front of elected officials, city council, city commissions and boards. Nobody is cutting off debate there, nobody is running into any hearing rooms and stealing one side's testimony or scrambling your many footnotes.

One side is just out-pacing the other, they're just winning. That's what's happening here. And hold onto your seats, Lance and "Anon" and the rest of the subset of existing voices: that arc is not going to re-bend your way under Gray.
@JDC 'One side is just out-pacing the other, they're just winning. That's what's happening here.'

Yes ... and no ....

Yes, that when you have the right tools you can easily over power someone (anyone) who doesn't. Look at what happened when the Spanish conquistadors came to the New World with their gunpowder and other new technology. It didn't matter who was right or who was wrong, 'Strength made right' ... A few thousand Spaniards were able to wrest control of an empire of millions.

No, that 'that's what's happening here'. What's 'happening here' is that you had some Fenty administration department heads that were given marching orders to get certain things done, with little guidance or resources for getting them right ... who just 'had to get them done ... or their heads would be on a platter'. Conveniently, they found someone out there who was willing to back their actions with a 'false constituency'. False in that it really represented only a very small part of the actualy constituency ... and even then represented a part of the constiuency that had it been hard to really 'participate' never would have had the time, energy or incentive to really participate. But sending an email or writing a response on a blog isn't all that difficult ... as I will concede. (smile)

So, you had the perfect storm to create a co-dependent relationship between Fenty administration department heads on the one hand --- who needed a 'constituency' to point to as justification for doing what they were doing without any real public consensus ... And David on the other, who needed government departments and agencies he could point to as successfully implementing his 'Smart Growth' ... and thereby gaining credibility for his views and his own successes.

It was the perfect relationship. Note I'm saying 'was' because it's unlikely that the Fenty part of the equation will survice the upcoming election.
"you can easily over power someone (anyone) who doesn't"

Which critics of GGW don't have the Internet, obviously the ones in this thread do. And while many residents of this city might be on the short end of a digital divide, again you and other GGW critics clearly have a connection and more importantly you had the lead on all the traditional modes of organizing. And so you have the ability to do the same thing GGW is doing to recruit people and get your views into the process. So I don't see the big unfairness that you see only someone being quicker smarter and putting more digital elbow grease into it all, or maybe you are just not advocating the facts as well as you assume you are, or have the wrong information, or misunderstand things, even though it seems that is what you want to accuse GGW of doing. In other words, have you ever thought of the possibility that you just might be wrong, you know the same thing you suggest GGW is incapable of considering for a moment?

Keep hoping for that big attitude shift that you're anticipating after the election of Mayor Vincent Gray:

He [Gray] said the city needs "a forward-looking policy that gets people out of automobiles."

Things might happen slower and with a lot more time for everyone to have input, you know like that long Brookland hearing where everyone got to speak, and Vince Gray got to ask the "antis" lots of questions, including about their efforts over 18 months and 30 meetings to hold an SMD meeting, but they never did. Who won that one, a key issue mentioned in the article above?
@JDC, What you're still not following is the GGW never really influenced the Fenty agencies and departments, it was the other way around. GGW got used by them to sell their programs ... There wasn't even the beginning consensus building out there. No one really had a say in any thing other than Fenty ... who was for the most part just doing whatever the developers wanted. Gray won't let that happen. He's getting elected on a promise to listen and be inclusive. Also your reference to 'antis' says a lot about where you're coming from. You're not understanding the concept of consensus building and how inclusiveness is a major ingredient to it.

And btw, it's not like Smart Growth people have a monopoly on smart growth ... And lots of what GGW was the cheerleader for was far from smart.
OK well we'll see. Lance you have set out, in writing, the test, all your reasoning that GGW plus Fenty was so horrible and how/why it will change so much under a Mayor Gray.

And if it doesn't, I am so saving this. And who will you blame then? What will your rationalization be then? And I am all for more inclusiveness as it was obviously Fenty's problem. And we'll see what your real impediment was and what it really was for all the people so displeased with GGW's activism.
@JDC, I don't have any more a crystal ball than you do. All I know is that if Fenty doesn't get re-elected, we'll stand far better chance pf getting inclusiveness and concurrence made a part of the decision process what we have now ... no matter who becomes mayor. I.e., It can't get much worse than it has been. And frankly, I think that'll mean far better planned and executed 'smart growth' initiatives than what we've seen over the last 4 years. And you might be surprised that those might actually give you what you're looking for ... and not streetcar lines that go 'from no where to no where' and bike lanes where you have to fight with pedestrians crossing the street and motorists opening car doors. David may actually get a chance to do some real smart growth activism ... and not just be used to sell a program dictated from on high.
Anon, thanks. I found the transcripts. I noticed at the very start of David's testimony that he heads an advocacy organization called Pro DC. What's interesting now is how this article and discussion coincides with discussion about the possibility of Michelle Rhee quitting her job should Fenty lose. I'm just seeing some interesting parallels. I'll keep reading.
@Anon, Are you saying David represented himself at these hearings as speaking for an organization called 'Pro DC'. Wouldn't speaking on behalf of such an organization at a minimum require that this organization actually exists? I've never heard it mentioned anywhere. It doesn't come up in a Google search. And I don't think David's mentioned representing 'Pro DC' in any other testimony anywhere else. Wow ... So we're now living with regulations that got passed in part based on testimony from a DC advocacy group ... that didn't really exist?
Lance, As Jazzy noticed, at page 152, the transcript reads: “My name is David Alpert. I run the website, Greater Greater Washington, which covers issues of land use and transportation in the District of Columbia. And I also run the advocacy organization, Pro DC, which organizes around important public processes including our zoning rewrite.”

As you know, representatives of organizations generally get additional time to testify at the Zoning Commission, usually 5 minutes, rather than the 3 minutes available to individuals. Like you, I have found no other reference to this organization.
Lance: I appreciate you relocating your goal post once again. First, you trashed David as not being an expert like the REAL voices and experts on urban planning (the existing voices, none of whom had expertise in these things when they became activists). Now, when confronted with Gray's smart growth quotes, and the fact of a lengthy hearing where Gray went with GGW and Smart Growth Coalition over the unfocused and hostile ramblings of antis, you say that Gray will result in REAL smart growth and just help David improve his plans.

Inconsistency. Another reason DC's existing voices keep losing, even when Vince Gray is listening, like in that Brookland small area plan hearing.
Very nice site! is it yours too
I used to study architecture and I have read Greater Greater Washington before. It's a good blog, good content and well supported by local politicians in the City government, and professionals in the urban design field.

Also I have to agree with those who say they are almost all White, -I attended one of their parties- these guys and especially David Alpert come across as arrogant and they think they know it all. I interviewed David months ago, he is smart and knows what he is doing.
"When was the last time he advocated for any initiative east of the river?!?! "

Anacostia Streetcar! Yeesh!
Lance, I have no idea who has convinced you that automobiles are cleaner than public transit, but it's 100% bullshit; I suggest you check the Department of Energy numbers. All-electric battery-operated automobiles, you might have a point; internal combustion engines, the sheer inefficiency makes them *worse than coal*. Really.

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