City Desk

The Needle: Tracking Progress

Phew: Rest assured, bikes will be allowed to ride on the H Street NE streetcar lane once it starts operating. +5

This House Is on Fire: Washington Firehouse Restaurant, which is housed in a three-story historic firehouse, opens tonight in Bloomingdale. +2

Read more The Needle: Tracking Progress

Capital Bikeshare Employees Take Steps to Unionize

Fifty-seven Capital Bikeshare employees—or more than 80 percent of the work force—submitted paperwork Thursday to the National Labors Board to become a union, the Washington Post reported today. The employees are organizing to be a part of Transport Workers Union Local 100, the same union of New York's Citi Bike's workforce.

Capital Bikeshare employees wanting to take this step isn't all that surprising. Just last year, the U.S. Department of Labor investigated the bike share program over allegations that it failed to pay its workers the proper wages. Capital Bikeshare, along with Citi Bikes and other systems throughout the country, is operated by Portland, Ore.-based Alta Bike Share. The company signed a contract with the District Department of Transportation and agreed to pay employees federal prevailing wages.

When employees felt they weren't getting what they were promised, they organized—well tried to anyway—collecting signatures and making their grievances public.

As the Post's Lydia DePillis notes, bikeshare workers represent a rare opportunity for the TWU to grow with a whole new type of profession that could get unionized while the bike share industry is still fledgling.

"And for a nascent form of urban transportation trying to gain traction with citizens and local governments alike, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerful union on your side," DePillis writes.

A spokesperson for Alta told City Desk says there's still a ways to go before the workers become unionized, including the National Labor Relations Board agreeing to the employees' request and then a subsequent secret ballot election so workers can vote for or against the unionization.

"Alta Bicycle Share highly values the health and safety of our staff, and our wage and benefits packages are generous for the industry," the spokesperson said.

The Post reports that Alta eventually recognized New York Citi Bike employees' membership in a union voluntarily. 

 

Correction: Due to a reporting error, this post misstated the name of the National Labor Relations Board.

Photo by Aaron Wiener 

 

Chatter: Our House

cover-issue1820-lgWhat you said about what we said last week

From the administration of Grover Cleveland to the modern-day Logan Circle of high-end restaurants and strollers, the house at 1204 Q St. NW has seen a lot—much of it covered in last week’s cover story by Amanda Ottaway, herself a former resident of the home (“This Old House,” Oct. 17). Some readers, however, pointed out some omissions of recent history. “I was one of the renters who put up that dividing wall on the third floor in 2010,” commenter Tomahawk P. wrote. “The writer makes this place sound like a filthy, unkempt apartment, but it wasn’t always so. The sox roommates from 2010 to 2012 kept it in pretty good shape for the most part (largely thanks to the efforts of Teddy Magic, a particularly fastidious roommate who occupied the master bedroom and decorated it impeccably).”

Things that happened at 1204 Q, at least according to Tomahawk: “some massive parties which consistently attracted underage employees of the Georgetown American Apparel”; performances by “legendary” local bands like Bike Trip and the Party Dream; and, at least if you believe a rumor, the use of one room as the residence of a chimpanzee.

According to another commenter, the home’s occupants once kept chickens in a kind of cupola on the roof. “We heard the rooster crowing every morning,” wrote Sherri, who lived in the neighborhood from 1999 to 2003. “Used to sometimes scare the heck out of our house guests who didn’t expect that in the middle of the city.”

Mixolojeez

A two-hour time-limit for pricey cocktails? For last week’s Young & Hungry column, Jessica Sidman reported on the handful of mixology haunts that charge top dollar for their concoctions and then boot patrons at the end of their “seating.” “This is especially funny because I would never consider going to one of these places anyway, with or without a time limit,” wrote thatbone. “I’m sure in a few months when all the wannabes are flocking to the newer trendy spots featuring the latest innovations in artisanal ice these places will be begging people to stay as long as they want so their ‘mixologists’ can keep slinging $30 cocktails.” Too much? Youre Wrong pushed back: “Columbia Room has been operating under these policies for years. Just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean others won’t.”

Besides, you can’t knock bars for being concerned with the bottom line, right? “This is an excellent practice in order for an establishment to make a profit not only for itself but the servers, bussers, food runners, bartenders, bar backs, etc. Nothing to do with pretension, just common sense,” wrote Reality. “To the naysayers, get off your butt and try working in the hospitality industry. After the third night of ‘campers’ you will be singing a different tune…”

Department of Corrections

Due to a reporting error, Jeffrey Cudlin’s review of “Richard Estes’ Realism” listed the Portland Museum of Art and Patterson Sims as the sole organizers of the show. In fact, the Smithsonian American Art Museum was a co-organizer.

District Line Daily: Bowser Lead Widens in Final Stretch, New Polls Says

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to citydesk@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here.

Just two weeks before Election Day, Muriel Bowser has a decisive 17-point lead over David Catania in the mayoral race, according to a new poll of likely D.C. voters commissioned by Washington City Paper  and WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • The poll also shows Karl Racine leading the pack in the attorney general's race by ten points. [Loose Lips]
  • The campaign treasure for disgraced former Councilmember Michael Brown pled guilty Thursday to evading income taxes and campaign finance violations. [Washington Post]
  • Volunteers are gearing up for a massive search around Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens on Saturday for Relisha Rudd, the 8-year-old girl who has been missing for seven months. [News4]
  • D.C. Council funding disputes will likely cut the planned 22-mile street car system to just eight miles. [WAMU]

RECENT CITY PAPER STORIES TO HELP YOU MAKE SENSE OF YOUR DAY:

Read more District Line Daily: Bowser Lead Widens in Final Stretch, New Polls Says

Police Arrest Woman in Hit and Run That Left Cyclist Dead Last Month

D.C. police say they have made an arrest in a hit-and-run that left a cyclist dead last month. On Sept. 20, 53-year-old Tonya Reaves was hit by a SUV while riding her bicycle in Shaw around 2:30 a.m. on the intersection of 8th and S streets NW. The car fled the scene, and Reaves was transported to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

On Wednesday, police arrested 20-year-old D.C. resident Dajane Thomas and charged her with second-degree murder.

There are no bike lanes on that area of 8th and S streets NW, and that particular intersection is a four-way stop in a largely residential section of the Shaw neighborhood. Police have still not released any additional circumstances about the crash.

In 2012, which is the latest full year that stats are available, 726 cyclists were killed in the country, according to the New York Times.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

The Needle: One in a Million

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner: A Capitol Heights woman won $1 million from the D.C. lottery and says she plans to spend a chunk of her money buying gifts for sick children as part of her nonprofit work. +6

Football Turnover: The Washington football team could have three starting quarterbacks this season for the first time since 2002 if the team starts Colt McCoy Monday. -2

Read more The Needle: One in a Million

Formal Apology Could End Our Long Municipal Upside-Down Flag Nightmare

 

flag upside down

The cover-up was worse than the initial blunder, and now the D.C. Board of Elections wants the District's voters to know that it's very, very sorry—for everything.

Last week, the board sent out a voter guide printed with —whoops—an upside-down version of the D.C. flag. But instead of saying the whole thing was one giant Photoshop mishap, the agency said it did it as a way to engage voters. (City Desk took the bait.) It ultimately reneged on this and admitted it was indeed a mistake.

The folly earned condemnation from Mayor Vince Gray, who called the whole thing a "fiasco" and said his "faith has been severely tested."

DCBOE issued a formal apology today saying, "Well, we messed up. BIG time."

"The cover of the Voter's Guide recently mailed to you had an image of the District’s flag turned upside down," the apology reads. "That is our fault, and we apologize for displaying the flag in that manner. If that weren’t enough, we also fumbled our handling of the issue, and we apologize to you for that as well."

The apology also recommends that people read what's inside the voter's guide and vote. Read the full apology here. It seems sincere. Let's move on—and vote.

You Can Order a Flu Shot from Uber Today

There's Uber for ice cream, Uber for your convenience store necessities, and now—even though you likely never asked for this—there's Uber for your medical procedures.

Uber announced the creation of UberHEALTH—a service in which Uber will deliver a real-live nurse to your door to administer a flu shot.  For one day only—that day is today—Uber will operate a pilot program partnering with Vaccine Finder to provide this service free of charge.

The service is available today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Choose the UberHEALTH option on your Uber app, and once the registered nurse arrives in an UberSUV to the requested location, he or she can administer the shot to up to ten people. Uber asks that you arrange for a "suitable indoor environment" to get the shots.

"Flu season is just around the corner and trying to squeeze in your latest immunization this fall may not be on the top of you To Do List," Uber wrote in an announcement. "That's why today we're leveraging the reliability and efficiency of the Uber platform and launching a one-day pilot program-UberHEALTH."

Sedan picture via Shutterstock

District Line Daily: The Margin Walkers

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to citydesk@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here.

This week's cover story looks at Fugazi's influential 13 Songs album 25 years after it was first released. It's a retrospective in the words of the people who lived and learned from it.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Audits show that one of the leading attorney general candidates, Karl Racine, overcharged clients—including the District government—by hundreds of thousands of dollars while he was the managing partner of the big Venable law firm. [Loose Lips]
  • D.C.'s picturesque tiny houses in Stronghold are splitting up—and it's not amicable. [City Desk]
  • Another man jumped the White House fence Wednesday evening, though he was quickly bitten by a guard dog and apprehended. Two dogs were taken to the veterinarian for injuries sustained during the incident. [Washington Post]
  • Concealed-carry permits are now available in D.C. [News4]

RECENT CITY PAPER STORIES TO HELP YOU MAKE SENSE OF YOUR DAY:

Read more District Line Daily: The Margin Walkers

A Confusing Street in 16th Street Heights Could Soon Make More Sense

4500ArkAve2

A car smashed into this parked car on Arkansas Avenue NW last week.

A busy one-mile stretch of Arkansas Avenue NW in 16th Street Heights is about to get smaller—and that's just what the neighborhood wants.

Local residents have long said Arkansas Avenue between Georgia Avenue NW and 16th Street NW is hazardous, and they've called on the District Department of Transportation to make some modifications, specifically to permanently slim the street down to two lanes—one in each direction. The current setup, residents say, is confusing: During rush hour, parking is restricted along the northbound side of Arkansas, and the street turns into three lanes in both directions. (There are no parking restrictions on the southbound lane, so it's always one lane.)

There are no markings on the wide avenue to designate parking spots, leaving drivers unsure where they can park and where they can drive. On top of that, the wide lanes encourage fast driving.

Last year, a drunk driver severely injured resident Kelly Dillon's leg while Dillon was standing between two parked cars on Arkansas when the driver crashed into one of them, crushing her between the two. And just last week, another 16th Street Heights household—on the 4500 block of Arkansas Avenue NW—had its parked car mangled after a speedy vehicle crashed into it. Resident have even launched a website chronicling the accidents on the street and updating the community about communication with the transportation agency.

DDOT recommended that the lane should be narrowed months ago, but didn't provide concrete details on how or when it should be done. But last week, DDOT released a new report saying it would actually start construction and paint clear parking boxes on the street within 30 days. Rush hour parking restrictions will be eliminated, so Arkansas Avenue will always be one lane of traffic in each direction, with strips of clearly designated parking spots on the north and southbound sides of the street. Read more A Confusing Street in 16th Street Heights Could Soon Make More Sense

The Needle: We’re Toast

Food for Some Yuppie Thought: Slipstream, a new coffee and cocktail shop on 14th Street NW, offers artisanal toast and coffee in cocktail glasses. -3

Foo Fight: What will people do for a $23 Foo Fighters ticket at the Black Cat? They will give some up some weed and $350 on Craigslist-1

Read more The Needle: We’re Toast

A Tiny House Divided

Tiny Houses

D.C.’s tiny houses are the architectural equivalent of that perfect couple you used to envy on Facebook: ultraphotogenic, cultured (they hosted a series of one-act plays last month), and so much quirkier and more interesting than anything going on in your bloated apartment. But now the status has flipped: The tiny houses are divorcing.

After two years of living on their Stronghold lot and inspiring a national housing conversation with their 140-to-200-square-foot homes, the three members of the Boneyard Studios tiny house showcase are breaking up. It’s not amicable. The novel, communal lifestyle presented in Pinky Swear Productions’ Tiny House Plays is absent as the end unfolds—a forced eviction gone public following months of internal squabbling.

On Aug. 19, two of the three trailer owners, Jay Austin and Lee Pera, announced on the community’s website that they would be leaving the lot and taking the Boneyard name with them. (For the purpose of the District’s zoning laws, the houses are technically trailers—they each have wheels, and cannot serve as permanent residences.) The third member, lot owner Brian Levy, would not be joining them in their to-be-determined new location in D.C.

Austin set the scene on his personal blog. “I left behind my tiny house community in May and came back in August to find it in ruins, the short-sighted work of a friend-turned-landlord, landlord-turned-slumlord,” he wrote in a Sept. 25 post. “I’ll soon find myself part of a tiny house community-in-exile, and I’ve spent a lot of time grappling with that: the uncertainty, the loss, the betrayal.”

None of Boneyard’s bike-riding, rainwater-catching, sustainable-living advocates wanted “to devolve this into a Jerry Springer show in a trailer park,” Levy told me. After all, Boneyard was supposed to be an exemplar for a utopian vision: In a city with sky-high rent and gentrification-ravaged neighborhoods, here was genuinely affordable housing (Austin built his for just more than $40,000), conceived in an ultra-sustainable manner, capable of bringing a community together.

Instead, the District’s only tiny house community is falling apart over construction, vegetables, name-calling, and poop.

Read more A Tiny House Divided

Substitute Teacher at D.C. School Accused of Performing Oral Sex On Student

A substitute teacher was charged Tuesday with first degree sexual abuse of a minor after she allegedly performed oral sex on a 17-year-old student behind a desk in a classroom at Options Public Charter School.

The female teacher, 22-year-old Symone Greene, met the student last week while he was serving as her office assistant. According to documents from D.C. Superior Court, the student says he flirted with and gave Greene his number during class. Soon after giving the teacher his number, the student says he received a text message from her. He eventually asked Greene if she was "kinky." Greene responded: "I don't tell I show."

The student later went back to her classroom while the rest of the school was at a pep rally and asked if she would "give him [a number of] sucks for the [number] that he wears on his jersey," according to the affidavit. Greene agreed and she performed oral sex on him while he fondled her underneath her skirt. The student was recording the teacher the entire time without her knowledge. Greene later told him not to tell anyone about the encounter because she was a teacher and he was a student, but court documents say that the student showed the video to five players on the football team and a childhood friend.

The affidavit does not specify how police became aware of the incident, but police obtained the video of the sexual encounter by Monday. Officials had the student text the teacher again, under supervision, asking to meet up. The teacher told him to "chill" and that they need to be "slick" with this so she doesn't get in trouble.

Options Public Charter, located on the 1300 block of E Street NE, was founded in 1996 and specializes in serving students most at risk for dropping out. The school recently came under fire after the city accused its former leaders of diverting more than $3 million away from the school.

Read the document below:

This post has been updated to redact the student's jersey number.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Gear Prudence: How Can I Avoid Dating Dainty-Legged Dudes?

gearprudence

Gear Prudence: While I know this isn’t a lonely hearts column, I’m writing with a love question. Recently I broke up with a man who claimed to be an avid cyclist, and he was the owner of a very fine, upscale sort of bicycle. Shortly before he ended the relationship, critical information came to my attention. Instead of biking from his apartment (Eastern Market) to mine (near Dupont Circle), he rode the Metro several stops to Metro Center, disembarked, and then biked the rest of the trip and completed the reverse when returning home. He told me he found the journey too strenuous, noting the significant climb up Capitol Hill. This is a distance I rode often on an iron-tank Bikeshare bicycle none the worse for wear. Where would you suggest I begin to avoid the delicate-legged in the future? —Seeking Indefatigable Nice Guys Loving Exercise

Dear SINGLE: Oh, what a tangled web we weave! As we all know, cycling prowess makes one irresistible to romantic partners, and falsely advertising one’s avidness is a most duplicitous deceit. But be honest with yourself: There were probably clues along the way. Did he “jokingly” wear his helmet backwards the first time you rode together? Did he mistakenly believe the Giro d’Italia to be some kind of Tuscan pita sandwich? Did he claim to go for weekend centuries but return a mere hour later citing an undisclosed “mechanical” and smelling suspiciously of a mimosa brunch? While there’s nothing wrong with combining bike rides and Metro trips, if you value a partner who isn’t daunted by a bit of uphill effort, then maybe it’s for the best that this relationship was a DNF. Read more Gear Prudence: How Can I Avoid Dating Dainty-Legged Dudes?

So Long, Washington City Paper, and Thanks for Tolerating My Desk Squalor

By the time I'd worked at Washington City Paper for two years, my desk looked like I'd been piling crap on it for about 20. So when E. Brady Robinson, a talented D.C. photographer, asked in February 2012 if she could shoot my work area for her ongoing series of "Arts Desks" portraits, I wondered whether it was finally the time to tidy up. But on the day Robinson was scheduled to visit City Paper's office—this was before we moved out of our labyrinthine, wonderfully ramshackle digs on Champlain Street NW—I realized cleaning would be disrespectful to her project. Other than obscuring an idea about Arena Stage I'd written on my whiteboard, I left my desk as it was, down to the yellowing back issues, the unwashed wine glass, and the actual garbage. Here's what Robinson captured:

ebrady

Eventually I did clean—and then, after City Paper moved from Adams Morgan to downtown, I occasionally willed myself to toss or give away my accumulated book galleys, promo CDs, and press releases from the many obscure arts organizations that still send missives to anyone who ever worked here and had the title of arts editor. (Brad McKee and Leonard Roberge, you've got mail.) But a few of the things in that photo from 2012, and a bunch of things I've acquired since, became my trophies—tiny symbols of why I've felt so lucky to work at Washington City Paper, with such a smart and fearless group of journalists, for the last four years and 10 months.

Yesterday was my last as Washington City Paper's managing editor; tomorrow I start a new gig. Here are the objects I took with me: Read more So Long, Washington City Paper, and Thanks for Tolerating My Desk Squalor

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