City Desk

Washington Monument Starts Taking Tour Reservations Today

Now that the scaffolding that made the Washington Monument the best unintentional art installation in D.C. are gone, the 555-foot structure is getting ready to open back up for business.

Starting today, the National Park Service is accepting reservations to go inside the monument. It's currently shuttered for repairs due to the 2011 earthquake and is scheduled to reopen for tours on May 13, 2014.

In order to get tickets, people can order them here (tickets are technically free but there is a $1.50 service charge per ticket), or they can get same-day tickets on a first-come, first-served basis every morning starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Washington Monument Lounge. These tickets usually go fast.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

District Line Daily: The Parade Marches On

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

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Mayor Vince Gray's office threatened to derail the Emancipation Day parade when the event's chief booster, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, went $116,000 over budget for the sparsely attended event. But on Tuesday, the mayor's office agreed to swallow the costs for today's parade. In exchange, the D.C. Council said it would hand over control of the event to the mayor's office next year.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Three more D.C. firefighters will be charged in connection with the death of Medric Mills. They'll each face an individual trial board hearing next month. [News4]
  • District officials are considering creating carpool and toll lanes on part of the 14th Street bridge and other parts of city highways next year. [Post]
  • The District's DMV will start issuing licenses to undocumented residents next month. [WAMU]
  • Gay Democrats will have to decide in November's mayoral election whether they want to vote for their party or vote to elect the city's first gay mayor, independent David Catania. [Post]

Read more District Line Daily: The Parade Marches On

The Needle: Save the PBRs

Chopped House: Mythology Modern Chop House/Lore Lounge is opening on H Street NE next year and wants to start a wave of more upscale eateries and bars in the area. First, there are already upscale places there. And second, that sounds like a terrible idea—everyone loves tater tots and PBR. -4

Puff College: And the commencement speaker for Howard University this year...Sean Combs, also known as P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, and Diddy. There's some potential for a quote-worthy speech here. +3

Read more The Needle: Save the PBRs

T-Rex Successfully Arrives in D.C., Droves of Visitors Pack Natural History Museum

A bronze replica of the T-rex

A bronze replica of the T-rex

The 66-million year old bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex from Montana, called the Nation's T. Rex,  were successfully transported to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History today in 16 crates. The crates were moved into the 1,830-square-foot Rex Room and, for the next few months, workers will document, photograph, and assess the conditions of the bones.

Visitors can still go to the exhibit, which opened today, as staffers work on it. Museum spokesman Ryan Lavery says the museum didn't track how many people visited the Rex Room today, but there was a big outreach to get visitors inside and people were walking through "in droves." The Museum of Natural History sees about 8 million visitors each year.

The Nation's T. Rex was discovered in Montana in 1988 and is on loan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 50 years. It's one of the largest and most complete T. rex specimens ever discovered, with 80–85 percent of the skeleton recovered, according to a Smithsonian press release.

It will eventually be the centerpiece of the museum’s new 31,000-square-foot dinosaur and fossil hall, which was established in part by a $35 million donation from David H. Koch and is slated to open in 2019. The current dinosaur hall closes April 27.

Photo via Smithsonian.

 

Stupid Ranking: The Best Place for D.C. Millennials to Live Is Clarendon

clarendonballroom

A new ranking finds that D.C. is the third best city in the country for millennials. And the best neighborhood within D.C. for these 20- and 30-somethings: Clarendon in, well, Arlington.

The list from Niche.com takes into account demographic data like median income, median rent, percentage of the population between 25 and 34 years old, and crime rates. It also includes the results from surveys that Niche.com has conducted in the past, including best place to shop and best nightlife.

The District ranked third on the list behind New York and Austin. So how did Clarendon, an area that is not even in D.C., become such a hot destination for millennials?

For starters, it's representative college, according to Niche.com, is Georgetown University. (That's a plus.) The median income in the Clarendon/Courthouse area is $108,132, compared to the $52,762 national average. Fifty-three percent of residents there are between the ages of 25 and 34 and 48 percent have a master's degree or higher. The median rent is $1,788, according to Niche.com. In the entire D.C. area the median rent is $1353, and in Columbia Heights, for instance, the median is $1,433.

Lest we forget, back in September, there was a rental listing for a glorified frat house in Clarendon that proudly touted its drinking-game-friendly yard. More recently, the Clarendon Metro stop was named the Best Metro Stop for Drunken Disasters at 2.am. by Washington City Paper.

Read more Stupid Ranking: The Best Place for D.C. Millennials to Live Is Clarendon

Chinatown Passes for Shanghai in the FBI’s Eyes

The Chinese names adorning restaurants in D.C.'s Chinatown look authentic enough to pass for Shanghai—at least in a new FBI video warning American students studying abroad about the dangers of getting caught up in espionage activities.

As National Journal first reported, the FBI doesn't seem to have the most Hollywood budget when it comes to film production. The Northern Virginia-based Rocket Media helped with the production of the nearly 30-minute film Game of Pawns: The Glenn Duffie Shriver Story, which the bureau released yesterday. The film dramatizes the true story of Glenn Duffie Shriver, an American student studying in China who was sentenced to federal prison in the U.S. for attempting to provide national defense information to Chinese officials.

In the film, when the actor playing Shriver goes out in Shanghai at night, he's actually just hopping around in Chinatown. Specifically, Shriver seems to love to walk across the diagonal crosswalk by the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station, which he does a couple of times in the film. The large "Friendship Archway," the entrance to D.C.'s Chinatown, is prominently visible, as is the large AT&T logo on the side of the company's store on the corner of 7th and H streets NW. Also on view: the Verizon Center and other Penn Quarter mainstays that have little or no connection to Chinese culture.

The Verizon Center was built in Chinatown in 1997, and the neighborhood has continued to transform from an ethnic hub to a pricey tourist destination with booming nightlife, expensive apartments, and fewer and fewer Chinese residents and establishments. But through it all, it seems the enclave has maintained its uncanny resemblance to Shanghai.

Watch the video below:


Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

District Line Daily: Emancipation Dissipation

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.

D.C.'s Emancipation Day parade could be canceled over funding clashes. The event's chief booster, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, is $116,000 over budget for the sparsely attended event, and Mayor Vince Gray doesn't want to cover the costs.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser says she was initially misunderstood on her school boundary position: She does not support replacing traditional elementary school assignments with small-scale lotteries, but instead wants to stick with neighborhood schools. [Post]
  • A T. Rex is scheduled to arrive (in many pieces) in D.C. today from Montana. It will be on loan to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for 50 years. [Post]
  • A woman reportedly died after the D.C. Fire and EMS department did not follow protocol. The woman is said to have initially refused care, though all the signs were there to trigger follow-up procedures. [News4]
  • Residents of 16th Street Heights are petitioning to make Arkansas Avenue safer for pedestrians and bikers. [WAMU]

Read more District Line Daily: Emancipation Dissipation

The Needle: One Night in Echostage

DJ Hilton: Paris Hilton will be playing her "first-ever DJ set" at Echostage. Tickets go on sale today. Enough said. +5

Oy Vey: BLT Steak is trying to upscale the unsexy gefilte fish this Passover with a dish that serves four lumps of pike "gefilte" fish with English pea veloute and pickled chanterelles for a staggering $35. -3

Read more The Needle: One Night in Echostage

Possible Snow Tuesday, No Chance for a Spring Snow Day

D.C. will not look like this on Tuesday.

The District's weather-watchers expressed their dismay at the slight chance of snow hitting the region Tuesday with an abundance of question marks on Twitter and blogs.

Residents responded to the Capital Weather Gang's headline ("D.C. area forecast: From summer today to winter late Tuesday; even snow?") on Twitter thusly: "???"

The National Weather Service says this weekend's season-appropriate temperatures will drop Tuesday evening to the low thirties with likely precipitation. Capital Weather Gang writes that "this may allow rain—if it lingers long enough—to mix with and change to sleet and/or snow before ending (20-30 percent chance, highest western areas)."

The chance of the snow sticking is, in City Desk's estimation, unlikely at best. Department of Public Works spokeswoman Nancee Lyons says the department will be "monitoring" the weather but will not salt the streets. The District has been known to call snow days when no snow falls, which begs the question: Will D.C. get a snow day Wednesday?

"Definitely not," says Lyons. "I think we've had our fill of snow day."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

District Line Daily: Lessons From the Death of Michael Kingsbury

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.

The Metropolitan Police Department has changed some of its search procedures following its failed search last July for autistic 7-year-old Michael Kingsbury, who likely died from heat and whose body was found in a car.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Twenty-six families have left D.C. homeless shelters since Mayor Vince Gray launched his 500 families, 100 days program on April 1. [DCist]
  • Mayor Vince Gray's proposal to overhaul the city's school boundaries raises the question: Should D.C. give up neighborhood schools in favor of an expanded lottery system that scatters the city's children? [Post]
  • Officials say they "dropped the ball" when it came to trash pick up at the National Cherry Blossom Festival this weekend. [Post]
  • Mayor Vince Gray warned Council Chairman Phil Mendelson that the District could be heading toward a self-imposed shutdown if it follows the 2013 budget autonomy referendum, which city officials have described as invalid. [Loose Lips]

Read more District Line Daily: Lessons From the Death of Michael Kingsbury

The Needle: Cheese Please

Priorities: The line was snaking out the door in the middle of the work day at D.C.'s new grilled cheese restaurant, GCDC. Something can probably be derived from this scene that speaks to the inevitable collapse of society, but hey, it's grilled cheese. Can't say anything bad about cheese, bread, or the combination of the two. +1

Northwest Bar Hopping: A Clarendon woman reviews the D.C. bar scene for Thought Catalog. She recommends twentysomething partygoers do things like go to "Local 16 for the rooftop, The Brixton for a rooftop that’s less sloppy but more pretentious." +2

Read more The Needle: Cheese Please

Transgender Rights Advocates Rally for Repeal of Prostitution-Free Zones

prostitutionfreezones

Elizabeth Saracco holds a sign saying "We Stand with Monica Jones."

A handful of transgender-rights advocates stood with signs in front of the Wilson Building today—the day that Monica Jones is set to go on trial in Arizona.  Jones, a black, transgender student at Arizona State University, is facing manifestation of prostitution charges, though she says she was arrested while walking to a local bar and was a victim of "walking while trans."

Her story has become a rallying cry for transgender advocates nationwide, who say that vague prostitution laws unjustly allow the targeting of transgender women of color. And the advocates in front of the Wilson Building today say that things are no different in D.C.

On Tuesday, Councilman David Grosso introduced legislation that would eliminate D.C.'s "Prostitution Free-Zones." This law enables police to make arrests for up to 24 consecutive days if two or more people congregate in public and ignore orders to disperse in these zones. The law has come under fire in the past, with the attorney general's office saying that it is probably unconstitutional because police are arresting people with no real probable cause.

"We want D.C.'s support in repealing these prostitution free-zones that target trans-women of color," says Elizabeth Saracco, director of programs at Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive in D.C.

Grosso wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Blade last week that the prostitution-free zones, and the "inevitable profiling that happens within them, violate affected residents’ human right to be free from discrimination." He also said that police officials are in support of getting rid of the zones.

In a 2012 Post article, Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said although these zones may have contributed to the temporary displacement of street-level prostitution, they were ineffective in actually decreasing prostitution. At that time, he said that police had never made an arrest using the prostitution-free zone statute.

Grosso's legislation—which was also introduced by Councilmembers Mary Cheh and David Catania and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Marion Barry and Tommy Wells—was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

Photo by Perry Stein

District Line Daily: Free to Retire

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.

The D.C. fire lieutenant who is accused of not coming to the aid of a dying Medric Mills after he collapsed near her fire station on Rhode Island Avenue NE was officially approved for retirement Thursday, which means she will face no disciplinary action for her role in the incident.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • D.C’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development says a third of a billion more Qatari dollars could be coming to D.C. projects. Qatari Diar Real Estate Co. already invested $700 million in CityCenterDC. [Washington Business Journal]
  • The Gray campaign says its anti-Muriel Bowser website, MurielNotReady.com, will likely come down sometime today. [Post]
  • LivingSocial said Thursday it suspended a few firearms-related promotions following the shooting last week at Fort Hood. [Washington Business Journal]
  • The Cherry Blossoms officially hit peak bloom yesterday. [City Desk]

Read more District Line Daily: Free to Retire

Lieutenant Involved in Medric Mills Case Has Retirement Approved, Faces No Disciplinary Action

Lt. Kellene Davis waits outside the trial board hearing room on March 19, facing away from the press

The lieutenant who is accused of ignoring a dying elderly man outside her fire station was approved for retirement, a city official confirmed.

That means Lt. Kellene Davis, 51, who has worked in the department for more than 25 years, will not face any disciplinary action for her role in the incident. Her pension and retirement benefits will also remain fully intact.

Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe told the Post that he originally denied a request by Davis to retire immediately after Mills died, which forced her to file with a retirement board, delaying the process at least 60 days. A D.C. Fire and EMS trial board held a hearing in March to determine whether Davis would face any disciplinary action. That decision is still pending and, by law, the chief cannot stop her from retiring before a verdict is made. The chief told the Post that the disciplinary panel reached a conclusion but had not yet forwarded it to him. But whatever conclusion they came to is moot now that Davis is officially retired.

Mills collapsed Jan. 25 across the street from a fire station on Rhode Island Avenue NE while shopping with his adult daughter and later died at Washington Hospital Center. Despite pleas for help and awareness that a medical emergency was occurring, none of the nearby Engine 26 fire fighters at the station provided medical assistance. An investigation into the incident found that Davis did not respond to announcements from the cadet manning the front desk about the emergency.

Davis was facing six disciplinary charges, including unreasonable failure to give assistance to the public, neglect for duty of public announcement system, and neglect of duty for violation of the Patient Bill of Rights.

Read more Lieutenant Involved in Medric Mills Case Has Retirement Approved, Faces No Disciplinary Action

The Needle: It Always Comes Back to Statehood

 

Colbert State:  News that Stephen Colbert will take over for David Letterman at the helm of CBS’s The Late Show is good news for the District. Why? Because statehood, says D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton. Eh, wishful thinking. -2

Ballot Blues: A new report found that District voters waited an average of 33.9 minutes to cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election, the second-longest wait times in the country. Could that have contributed to the exceptionally low voter turnout for the recent April 1 primary? -3

Read more The Needle: It Always Comes Back to Statehood

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