City Desk

The Needle: Virginia Really Is For Lovers

The Virginia Way: A federal court upheld a decision today that said Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. +5 

Homegrown: The rye and bourbon sold by D.C.'s own Filbuster, an artisan liquor company, actually comes from Indiana. -3

Read more The Needle: Virginia Really Is For Lovers

D.C. Attorney General Files Motion to Halt Implementation of Judge’s Ruling on Gun Laws

The District's Office of the Attorney General filed a motion this afternoon requesting that a federal court delay overturning a gun law until the city's appeal is heard. A U.S. District Court ruled this weekend that a D.C. gun law that prevents people from legally carrying handguns in the District's public places is unconstitutional.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier ordered her police department on Sunday to not arrest any District resident carrying a registered gun in a public place. Nonresidents, according to Lanier's order, can carry guns as long as they're not convicted felons and are following the gun laws of their home states.

If the court doesn't grant the motion, Attorney General Irv Nathan asks that the federal court issue a stay for at least 180 days so the D.C. Council can "obtain public input and enact a compliant licensing mechanism."

A stay would allow an orderly process, to obtain the most considered legislation 6 possible. Indeed, the Council of the District is currently on recess until September 15... The Council would not be able  to take up the matter until then at the earliest; a brief stay to allow the Council to draft, consider, and enact appropriate legislation is clearly in the District’s—and the public’s—interest. That is especially true given that the Council could constitutionally choose to limit carrying—by place of carrying, manner of carrying, or class of weapon being carried—where the Order currently would allow it. (Plaintiffs have emphasized, for instance, that they do not claim a right to “open  carry” or “concealed carry” in particular). See Doc. No. 5-2 at 7. A stay would prevent the Council from having to unduly rush, which could result in a law that is not as considered as it could be, and limit the public’s confusion and other unintended consequences.

The motion states the plaintiffs in the case do not oppose an immediate 90-day stay.

It's unclear when the court will rule on this motion, according to Ted Gest, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Gun photo by Shutterstock

Rep. Massie: Court’s Ruling on D.C. Gun Laws Validates Legislation

Local officials are understandably pissed that a federal judge who does not reside in the District overturned a major provision of D.C. gun laws over the weekend. But there's one elected official, who ostensibly thinks he represents the District, who's actually quite happy with the ruling: Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican of Kentucky.

Massie introduced an amendment to the financial services and general government appropriations bill this month that would bar D.C. from spending any of its money enforcing its gun laws. The House already passed his amendment. If it were to go into law—which even Massie concedes is unlikely—it would, like this court ruling, allow people to legally carry handguns in public.

Here's what Massie's office wrote in an email to City Desk in reaction to this weekend's ruling:

I was very encouraged by Judge Scullin's decision.  In fact, his ruling strikes down a provision of the DC Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008, which I specifically referenced in the text of my successful amendment on July 16th.  Clearly, Ms. Norton and the Mayor missed the mark when they asserted that my legislative effort to restore a fundamental human right was an overextension of congressional authority.  Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority over DC legislative matters.  But Judge Scullin, citing DC v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, re-affirmed my assertion that the peoples' right to keep and bear arms cannot be denied by any locality or state.

D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton asked this afternoon whether Massie would now try to overturn the only remaining law that prevents people from carrying weapons into the U.S. Capitol building—a federal law. This month, two people have been arrested trying to bring guns into U.S. Capitol office buildings.

“Thomas Massie, who abandoned his tea party principles of local control of local affairs when he offered his D.C. gun amendment, has said he wants to ‘restore gun rights anywhere I can,’” Norton said in a press release.  “With two people arrested in the last two weeks for bringing guns into the Capitol complex, both of whom were charged under D.C.’s carry law, Representative Massie can no longer hide behind that D.C. law.  The only thing standing between guns and the Capitol now is a federal law.  Will Rep. Massie be consistent and finally try to overturn a law he has legitimate, direct jurisdiction over?”

Massie has not introduced legislation attempting to overturn the federal law.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo: River’s Edge

rivedge-2

Georgetown, July 26

 

51,000 People Rode the Silver Line This Weekend

Passengers on the inaugural Silver Line train Saturday.

Passengers on the inaugural Silver Line train Saturday.

Metro notched approximately 51,000 trips to or from one of its five new Silver Line stations this weekend, the Washington Area Transit Authority announced today. As of 10 a.m. today, 9,715 people had entered or exited one of the five new stations this morning, the line's first rush-hour day.

Here are this morning's ridership numbers for the five new stations:

  • Greensboro: 185 entries and 332 exits
  • McLean: 568 entries and 442 exits
  • Spring Hill: 559 entries and 432 exits
  • Tysons: 507 entries and 900 exits
  • Wiehle-Reston East: 4,727 entries and 1,063 exits

This made Wiehle-Reston East—the last stop in Virginia on the Silver Line–the 12th busiest station this morning out of Metro's 91 stations. But that doesn't mean today's nearly 10,000 Silver Line riders are new to the system. Many of them could have used other Metro stations, like East Falls Church or West Falls Church, for their morning commutes. It's worth noting that of the five new stations, only Wiehle has a parking lot.

Metro projects that about 25,000 daily riders will use the five new stations after the first year of service.

Photo by Perry Stein

Uber Driver Charged With Sexually Assaulting Passenger in D.C.

An Uber passenger says a driver for the sedan service sexually assaulted her early in the morning on Sunday, July 20, according to D.C. Superior Court documents. Reshad Ahmad Chakari, 32, of Alexandria was charged with second degree sexual abuse Friday.

According to an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant, the woman who filed the complaint was out with friends for her birthday at Lux Lounge on New York Avenue NW when she decided she wanted to go home early. A friend used Uber through his own account to call a car for her, and the driver was supposed to take her back to the District Hotel at 1440 Rhode Island Avenue NW, where she was staying.

In the affadavit, the woman says she passed out in the cab and that when she woke, the driver was rubbing her breasts. She then fell back asleep, according to court documents, and woke up again to the sound of car doors locking. The cab had stopped and the driver was feeling her breasts and pulling down her underwear down to her knees. She says she asked the driver to be let out of the vehicle, but he refused and at one point asked if he could go back to her hotel with her. In a follow-up interview with authorities, she said Chakari briefly penetrated her with his finger or another thin object.

The woman, according to the documents, was able to send two text messages to the friend who called the Uber. Her friend subsequently called her phone, which reportedly startled the driver, who then took her to a hotel adjacent to the District Hotel. The friend stated that he called the hotel and asked the front-desk attendee not to let anyone up to the room with the woman.

According to the documents, the friend's Uber receipt included the name of the driver and the make of his car.

Read more Uber Driver Charged With Sexually Assaulting Passenger in D.C.

District Line Daily: Judge Overturns Key Provision of D.C. Gun Laws

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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The District's ban on carrying handguns in public places is unconstitutional, according to a federal judge's ruling this weekend. The D.C. government will appeal the ruling, but in the meantime, D.C. police have been ordered to not arrest any D.C. resident who is carrying a registered handgun in a public place. Non-D.C. residents can carry a handgun in public in D.C. provided they are following the laws of their home state.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • The Silver Line officially opened for business Saturday, and Metro's biggest fans were out to celebrate the inaugural ride. [City Desk]
  • And so far, it looks like the Silver Line's first rush hour is going smoothly. [News4]
  • The federal corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife starts today. [Post]
  • D.C. mayoral candidate David Catania says he opposes the plan to trade the city's Reeves Center on 14th and U streets NW for the land needed to build a soccer stadium at Buzzard Point. [WAMU]

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

Read more District Line Daily: Judge Overturns Key Provision of D.C. Gun Laws

A Federal Judge Struck Down D.C.’s Ban on Carrying Handguns in Public. What Happens Next?

D.C. has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but over the weekend a federal judge overturned a key provision that prevents people from legally carrying handguns in the District's public places. U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr.,  a senior U.S. District Court judge on the Northern District of New York who was appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, issued the ruling. Got questions? Here are answers:

What was the ruling? 

The judge's ruling found that D.C.'s ban of carrying a handgun in public was unconstitutional. Under the ruling, D.C. residents and nonresidents can carry a handgun in a public place, and D.C. can compose "constitutional" laws that would regulate who gets to carry guns in public.

"There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny," the opinion reads. "Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia's complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional."

Who filed the case? 

Tom Palmer, the Second Amendment Foundation, and three other plaintiffs filed the case more than four years ago after the D.C. police department rejected Palmer's application in 2009 to register a handgun when he stated in his application that he may use it for self-defense outside of his home. Palmer was also one of the plaintiffs in Heller vs. District of Columbia, which made it all the way to the Supreme Court and similarly overturned a key provision of D.C.'s strict gun laws.

How is this ruling different than the Heller ruling?

The Heller case chiefly overturned D.C.'s ban on handguns. It did not define where these handguns could be carried. This ruling says handguns can be carried in public.

What's the D.C. government going to do about it?

D.C.'s Office of the Attorney General says it is seeking a stay on the decision, which would prevent the judge's ruling from going into effect while the District is appealing it.

Still, Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued an order Sunday instructing D.C. police not to arrest District residents carrying registered handguns in public places, a spokeswoman from the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed. Police were also told not to arrest people from other jurisdictions for carrying handguns in public if they are abiding by their home state's laws and are not a convicted felon. But because the government is seeking a stay, police could return to enforcing the ban soon.

What's the reaction to this ruling in the District?

A number of D.C. officials, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Ward 4 Councilmember and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser, have released statements condemning the ruling.

"Saturday’s decision goes beyond the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which was limited to possessing a ready-to-use handgun in the home. The Supreme Court has not ruled on any gun matter except the right to possess a handgun in the home," Norton wrote in a press release. "Saturday’s decision is not an invitation for intervention by Members of Congress who have no responsibility for public safety in the District of Columbia. It is a call for clarification by the federal courts."

Gun photo by Shutterstock

Metro’s Biggest Fans Ride Train to Celebrate Silver Line Opening

Silver Line opening

Bertha and Jim Harrod rode the first Metro train in D.C. when the Red Line opened in 1976. Today, 38 years later, they waited on the train platform at East Falls Church for the first public trip on the Silver Line, which takes commuters from Wiehle-Reston East all the way to Largo Town Center in Maryland.

"It's so exciting," said Bertha Harrod.

Today's debut of phase one of the Silver Line marks the addition of a color to the Metro since the Green Line opened in 1991. The 28-station line includes five new stops and 11.7 miles of new tracks that branch off from East Falls Church on the Orange Line: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, and Wiehle-Reston East. Construction of phase one started in 2009; folks from across Northern Virginia visited the new Silver Line stations today to see the finished product of a construction project that's been making noise in their backyards for the last five years.

"We've been watching them build it," said Jee Hang Lee , who caught one of the first trains at the McLean station with his 5-year-old son Nathaniel, who says he wants to be a train conductor. "My son is a humongous train fan so we take the train whenever possible."

Each of the new Silver Line stations had extra staff and security working, answering any questions and handing out opening-day Silver Line pendants. They were also selling commemorative Silver Line SmarTrip cards. There was even more pomp at the last stop on the new line, Wiehle-Reston East, where U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Mayor Vince Gray, and other area officials attended an opening ceremony followed by the inaugural ride at noon.

"This is just awesome, I'm pretty pumped," said Rob Britton, a self-described transportation geek who caught the first train at the McLean station. (Britton holds a Ph.D. in transportation geography.) "One of the reasons we bought our house in Reston two years ago is because we knew the Metro was coming."

Other transportation aficionados in attendance: William Bowling, who drove in from Richmond to get on the train at the East Falls Church station. He was wearing an collared Amtrak shirt because he is a fan of the passenger train company.

"I've been following the building of the Silver Line since it started so I wanted to see the first ride," he said.

Longtime Reston resident Richard Sanger got on the train in Reston and planned to ride it all the way to the last Silver Line stop at Largo Town Center and back "just for the heck of it."

Other passengers' reasons for attending the opening were more practical. Reston resident Carlos Ponce works at the Wells Fargo in Mount Vernon Square and typically takes a bus from his house to the West Falls Church Metro station and then heads into D.C. Today, he just went to to Wiehle-Reston station near his house and took the Metro downtown.

"It's faster," he said. "Beats going all the way to West Falls Church."

Metro projects that about 25,000 daily riders will use the five new stations after the first year of service. Construction of phase two of the Silver Line is already underway and will extend the line another another 11.4 miles to six new stations including Reston Town Center, Herndon, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Ashburn. That work is expected to be completed in 2018.

Photo by Perry Stein

The Needle: Weathering the Weekend Weather

Fantastic Friday: Beer gardens will be packed tonight. Capital Weather Gang says we can expect a truly "truly gorgeous" evening tonight in the District. But, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Heat and humidity will be on the rise tomorrow, with some storm potential starting Saturday evening. On Sunday, there will be a 60 percent chance of storms. +/-0

Hero's Welcome: The nation's oldest World War II veteran, Lucy Coffey, arrived in D.C. today as part of an honor flight, which will include a tour of the White House. She's 108 years old. +5

Read more The Needle: Weathering the Weekend Weather

Kentucky Paper Slams Rep. Massie and Sen. Paul for Interfering with D.C. Gun Laws

It's no surprise that D.C. residents aren't fans of Republican Rep. Thomas Massie and Sen. Rand Paul meddling with local D.C. laws. But the two aren't getting much love from a home state newspaper, either.

Louisville's Courier-Journal's editorial board published a piece Thursday slamming their representatives for introducing amendments in their respective chambers that would gut D.C.'s gun laws. The piece points out the hypocrisy that the Republicans purport they want less government for the people in Kentucky, but are forcing more government on the people of D.C.

A couple of members of Kentucky's Congressional delegation who claim to want government out of our lives want to force more of it on the District of Columbia.

Tea party favorites Rep. Thomas Massie and Sen. Rand Paul, libertarian-leaning Republicans, are pushing measures in Congress to roll back Washington D.C.'s strict gun laws adopted by its officials to try to reduce gun violence in the nation's capital, WFPL reports.

...The delegate from Washington has no floor vote, which means [Eleanor Holmes] Norton could only complain about the gun measure but not vote against it.

That sounds like taxation without representation, something anyone who purports to love liberty ought to oppose.

Read the full editorial here.

Gun photo by Shutterstock

 

36 Minutes on Wiehle Avenue

pizzahut

The touted benefits of Metro's new Silver Line largely center around the new swath of Virginians who will now have access to the nation's capital through public transit. But what people are forgetting is that D.C. residents will now also have greater access to the much developed but largely unexplored suburbs of Virginia.

The last stop of the first phase of the Silver Line, which is set to open Saturday, features the rather unfamiliar name of Wiehle (pronounced "wheelie" by locals): Wiehle-Reston East. The name itself makes sense considering the Metro stop is located on Wiehle Avenue, but the avenue is foreign to many D.C. residents. A brief history of Wiehle Avenue: In 1881, Carl Adolph Max Wiehle, a German physician living in the United States, retired at 35 and moved his family to Washington, where he soon discovered the Virginia countryside. Northern Virginia’s recovery from the Civil War was slow, and land was cheap, according to the Fairfax Times.

Wiehle and Gen. William McKee Dunn partnered and purchased 6,450 acres of land in Fairfax along the railroad for $4 an acre. Dunn developed his land into what is now Dunn Loring. Wiehle, however, only sold 12 of his planned 800 residential lots and never got to see his full suburban utopia vision before he died in 1901. In 1961, Robert E. Simon purchased the land for $13 million and transformed it into what is known as Reston.

Today, Wiehle’s legacy lives on through this heavily trafficked avenue that runs through Reston, and now, half the name of the Metro stop. With a Metro stop right on it, Wiehle Avenue will surely be the next “it” spot for D.C. residents looking to meander across Virginia’s concrete and sprawling countryside. I spent a whirlwind 36 minutes on Wiehle Avenue visiting all the hotspots and can now share where to go next time you take the Silver Line to the end of Phase 1.

Extreme Sports, 4:30 p.m.

Wiehle Avenue boasts six lanes of traffic surrounded by construction cranes, parking lots, and boxy stucco buildings. While crossing the street in D.C. is a leisurely actively where pedestrians get as many as 60 seconds to cross, on Wiehle Avenue it’s an adventure sport. It seems pedestrians must push the crosswalk button if they ever want to walk and then must pay attention to when they get the green light: Once the walk sign turns on, pedestrians have just about 20 seconds to get across the wide street. All the while, cars will still be trying to make a left turn onto Wiehle Avenue, paying little attention to the sparse pedestrians. Oh, and there are no bike lanes on Wiehle Avenue.

Read more 36 Minutes on Wiehle Avenue

District Line Daily: One Week, Five Pot Citations

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.

Five people were cited for pot possession in D.C. in the first week after the city's new marijuana decriminalization law went into effect.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Here's what you need to know before riding the Silver Line this weekend. [News4]
  • A Senate subcommittee passed a spending bill that would grant D.C. full budget autonomy. [WAMU]
  • Top developers have no interest in redeveloping the St. Elizabeths campus. [Housing Complex]
  • The trial of a D.C. cop accused of attempting to killing his wife in November during a domestic dispute in Prince George's County ended in a hung jury and mistrial. [Post]

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

Read more District Line Daily: One Week, Five Pot Citations

The Needle: Florida Man

Respecting the President: Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida actually said the following in an interview with FOX 5: " I think the president must be spending too much time in Colorado because you would have to be high to think that Congress or anyone else is going to support making the District of Columbia the 51st state." (Obama did note that it would be difficult to get Congress to approve D.C. as the 51st state.) Mica then came up with an idea of his own, suggesting that the D.C. Council should possibly be disbanded and most of D.C. handed over to Maryland. -5

Rep's Shadow: D.C. activists planned a fake constituent service day for Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland today. D.C. residents showed up, but Harris was a no-show. -3

Read more The Needle: Florida Man

Chatter: Au Revoir, Les Diplomates

compensatoryWhat you said about what we said last week

“Oh good, pretty soon the effin’ NIMBYs of DC are going to cause an international incident.” That sentiment, from Twitter user @grahamwjenkins, is certainly one way to interpret last week’s Housing Complex by Aaron Wiener, a look at the complaints of some D.C. residents that foreign embassies have become overconcentrated in neighborhoods like Kalorama. Both federal and local officials are considering regulations that would make it harder to new embassies to settle in residential neighborhoods, plans that appeal to readers like ndw_dc: “If the chanceries are taking on more and more functions (promoting tourism, trade, etc.) but essentially retain an office rather than residential function, why not simply expand to much of the empty office space available in D.C.?”

Part of officials’ hope is that nations building new embassies will be attracted to the portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center being taken over by the U.S. State Department. Color reader Mike Kendellen skeptical: “In neighborhood presentations the State Department has cited treaty obligations and shortage of space as the primary reasons for the Walter Reed plan but I don’t understand why any embassy would want to be located so far from other embassies and the U.S. government infrastructure starting with the State Department.”

But are embassies really such bad neighbors? Commenter Adam didn’t buy it: “Some of the complaints made by NEMBYs are not to be believed. Florescent lights used inside? Dark windows at night? Goes to show that the rich/entitled of these neighborhoods will complain about ANYTHING, simply because they know they will be listened to.”

But the no-embassies-in-my-backyard set aren’t necessarily being listened to yet. In Kalorama, a listing recently went up for a $22 million home with 10 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, and a capacious garden. According to its seller, the former Textile Museum is “perfect for an embassy, school, discerning individual.”

Read more Chatter: Au Revoir, Les Diplomates

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