City Desk

Preferred Alternative for Controversial Downtown Bike Lane Still Unclear


Passions ran high but attendees behaved civilly at a public meeting organized by the District Department of Transportation on Saturday, held to discuss a contentious planned bike lane that would run through Shaw.

Since last year, urban-planning officials have floated the idea of installing a protected lane going north and south somewhere from 5th to 9th streets NW, and between Florida and Pennsylvania avenues NW. When the study made headlines, so too did local churchgoers' sentiments that the lane represented an existential threat to their religious establishments. In particular, members of the United House of Prayer, at 601 M St. NW, raised a clarion call against potential bike lanes in part because they would limit parking spots nearby.

Some members also felt that the lanes signified the latest effort by newer residents to push them out. Those concerns culminated in a heated meeting at the Shaw library in October, which authorities closed down an hour ahead of its scheduled conclusion because the room it was being held in had exceeded the safety capacity.

But this weekend, the scores of residents, cyclists, and churchgoers who attended the community meeting at public charter school KIPP DC's 421 P St. NW campus evidently saw fewer sparks fly. Starting with an hour-long "open house"-style display of five alternatives for the bike-lane study, followed by a presentation on them, the meeting eventually evolved into an outpouring of opinions and arguments during a period for public comments. Many spoke for and against the bike-lane plans, but no single option emerged.

Read more Preferred Alternative for Controversial Downtown Bike Lane Still Unclear

Two Former D.C. Public School Buildings Will Become Long-Term Homes to Charters


At the end of her administration's "Education Week," Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that a pair of buildings where traditional public schools used to operate would come up for solicitation by public charter schools in March.

The buildings—the former sites of Ward 5's Keene School and Ward 8's PR Harris School—currently house a trio of schools under the purview of the D.C. Public Charter School Board: Ingenuity Prep and  National Collegiate Prep at 4600 Livingston Road SE and DC Bilingual at 33 Riggs Road NE. Previously, the District hadn't made the facilities available for long-term leases, so that it could take them back for other uses. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, led by Jennifer Niles, will encourage the current occupants to apply for and agree to multi-year leases.

"This is good for our students, parents and community because our schools can focus on teaching instead of looking for new space,” said Scott Pearson, executive director of D.C.'s public charter school board, in a statement Friday.

Read more Two Former D.C. Public School Buildings Will Become Long-Term Homes to Charters

Buy D.C.: Super Bowl 50

Each week, Buy D.C. will highlight shops and items you can only find in the D.C. area. It's curated by Kaarin Vembar, fashion and beauty writer, and co-host of the ​Pop Fashion​ podcast.

Wish You Were Beer


Make sure your guests don’t lose track of their brew with these cheeky beer bands. Beer bands, $10. Chocolate Moose. 1743 L St. NW. (202) 463-0992.

When I Dip You Dip We Dip


This salsa goes great with chips, but you can also use it as a meat marinade. Either way, it’s a food win. Frontera salsa, $3.99. Streets Market & Cafe. 2400 14th St. NW. (202) 265-3300.

When Pigs Fly


Use a punny plate that illustrates flying pigskin. Pig plate, $16. Salt & Sundry. 1309 5th St. NE. (202) 556-1866.

Ain’t No Thang


It’s estimated that Americans will eat 1.3 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl. Lemon Pepper Wings from this U Street establishment are hard to beat. 6-Piece wings, $6.95. Oohhs & Aahhs. 1005 U St. NW. (202) 667-7142.

To the Letter


You can wear team colors, but why not take it to the next level and break out your letterman jacket? Varsity letters, $9 each. Junction. 1510 U St. NW. (202) 483-0261.

Chatter: Survey Says

cover-issue1887-lgWhat you said about what we said last week

Washington City Paper and D.C. Vote last week published the D.C. Poll, a survey of almost a thousand voters on an array of issues. Things you definitely want? Pot clubs, campaign finance reform, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and the city’s leaders to tell Congress to get bent when they interfere in District matters. “And DC wonders why they get laughed at when they insist on being recognized as a state. Take a look at the answers here and you’ll figure out why,” wrote Typical DC BS, proving that yes, the Internet is available in Virginia. While a slim majority of voters want to see an NFL stadium on East Capitol, amazingly, many readers—who apparently haven’t been inside RFK in a while—don’t even see the need to tear the current place down. “DC can rent it for incidental events, such as a concerts and rallies. Probably make enough to pay for what little upkeep it needs,” commented Jetsam. We’ll let you dodge the falling concrete in the upper deck. “Only SJW’s read that shitty rag now,” tweeted @CapsExaminer at the news that 58 percent find the NFL club’s nickname offensive. He’d rather shoot the messenger. “Very few people read that paper.” So does anybody read the City Paper? Apparently the D.C. Council does. Less than a week after we showed that 61 percent of voters favor cannabis clubs, the Council unexpectedly tabled a permanent ban and formed a study committee instead. “I TRULY DONT SEE WHERE THIS WOULD AN ISSUE IN A PRIVATE CLUB” intoned our favorite all-caps commenter Noodlez about pot clubs. And after the poll, neither do the city’s leaders.

Editor’s Note

We’re excited to announce that Will Sommer has been named politics editor. A 2010 graduate of Georgetown, Sommer joined the paper on the City Desk beat in 2012 before being named Loose Lips columnist. His wry take on the District’s politics has since delighted readers and annoyed the city’s establishment. Deep dives into corrupt lawyers and failed nightclubs have demonstrated that he’s an excellent writer with a gift for finding a good story. He’ll maintain his Loose Lips perch while helping our editing staff plan and execute the paper’s coverage in print and online in what we expect to be a busy election year. Congratulations, Will.

Want to see your name in bold on this page? Send letters, gripes, clarifications, or praise to

This Week’s Page Three Photo

1100 Block of 14th Street NW, Feb 3

1100 Block of 14th Street NW, February 3

Page three photos are also in this gallery.

‘Rainbow Sheen’ Reported in Potomac Has Tainted More Than a Dozen Geese


A "rainbow-colored sheen" that was first reported in the Potomac River on Wednesday has led the District to activate its federal resources in a multi-agency environmental response.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, as of Thursday oil sheens had stretched "approximately eight miles" along the river with a point of origin somewhere near Arlington. Eighteen "oiled geese" have been reported. Although the precise source or nature of the sheen has not been confirmed, local officials have conducted surveillance and clean-up missions on the Potomac, and sample results are expected soon. The sheen has not hit the Anacostia River.

“This is a complex situation compounded by the residual snowfall, recent precipitation, and multiple avenues of impact to the river,” USCG Chief Petty Officer Joshua Miller said Thursday. “Our hope is the combined efforts of the Coast Guard, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and District Office of Energy and Environment will quickly resolve this situation.”

Read more ‘Rainbow Sheen’ Reported in Potomac Has Tainted More Than a Dozen Geese

D.C.’s Summer Youth Employment Program Expands, But Questions Remain


On Tuesday, the D.C. Council's 13 members unanimously voted to extend the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment program, a work-readiness initiative, for another two years—but not without concerns.

Mayor Muriel Bowser has heralded the program as a pathway to the middle class for struggling youth, including those between 22 and 24 years old, who were eligible to participate in it for the first time last summer. The mayor had "reprogrammed" roughly $5 million in February to cover these older residents, a wage increase, and transportation. This age group worked a maximum 30 hours per week at $9.25 an hour.

When permanently expanding the program to cover 1,500 youth ages 22 to 24 came up for a vote earlier this week (those participants would be paid the District's minimum wage), D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson moved an amendment limiting the extension to a couple years and 1,000 youth that age.

Read more D.C.’s Summer Youth Employment Program Expands, But Questions Remain

Unobstructed View: Grunfeld, Wittman Don’t Deserve This Much Loyalty


A while back, I sat with a bunch of other sports media types—bloggers, writers, ex-players, and so on—to tape a pilot of a potential D.C.-centric sportstalk yapfest.

The project was not picked up and is now dead, and I thank god for that every single day.

Not just because I am terrible on TV (I am), nor because I wish any ill on the people involved (I don’t), but because during the taping I claimed that Randy Wittman was the key to the Wizards’ success. On camera! For posterity!

In late 2014, the Wizards were off to a hot start, probably somewhere around 9–5 or so at the time of taping. My argument, as I recall it, had something to do with him getting guys to buy into his approach and convincing them to play tough on D while also getting the most out of John Wall.

At the time, it was just barely defensible. Even then, I was probably subconsciously doing the stupid TV thing of taking a hot-take stance just to make the segment more interesting—six random people all agreeing that Wall was the secret of the Wiz’s success would’ve been spectacularly dull no matter how carefully it was edited. Now, it looms alongside “Kirk Cousins is demonstrably terrible” and “The trade for RG3 is great, because what’s the worst that can happen?” as a monument to my enduring idiocy.

Because at this point, there is no one left on Earth who believes that Randy Wittman should still be employed by the Wizards after this abysmal season finally wraps up. In fact, a quick scan of #WizardsTwitter shows a lot of folks who feel that Wittman has been around for at least a year too long already.

Similarly, it’s well past time for minimally successful General Manager Ernie Grunfeld to go. A piece on Wizards blog Bullets Forever makes that case and as of press time has more than 400 comments, nearly all of them in full agreement. That would seem pretty significant, except that an article three years ago on the same site, making a similar argument, has 100-plus comments, most of them agreeing, too.

The fans have been fed up with Wittman for a couple years and Grunfeld for more, but owner Ted Leonsis has remained loyal. It would be easy to say “admirably loyal,” except that there’s an awful lot of evidence pointing to the idea that, in professional sports, loyalty isn’t necessarily a winning strategy.

Leonsis has already arguably been on the wrong side of this debate once, with former Capitals General Manager George McPhee, who assembled the nucleus of the revitalized Caps roster but was ultimately unable to get it to the next level of success. Fans and pundits were openly clamoring for change to be made for more than three years before Leonsis finally made a move. In a 2011 column defending McPhee’s continued employment, the Washington Post’s Mike Wise even tried to tie Leonsis’ loyalty to his Greek heritage. McPhee would last until 2014; ironically, one of the final knocks against him was his own fierce loyalty to certain players.

That unwillingness to move on can be career suicide in professional sports. It leads to keeping players past their prime, rewarding players for past results with future contracts, or re-signing poor scheme fits out of nostalgia or fondness.

It seems significant that Bill Belichick’s Patriots team—a gold standard for success in the NFL—heartlessly cut productive veterans before they were fully used up, and that the Pittsburgh Steelers would regularly let their successful linebackers leave, counting on their productive system to produce a replacement.

Leonsis’ loyalty here more closely resembles the local football team than either of those examples. There are multiple instances over the years when Dan Snyder has chosen loyalty to his trusted lieutenants (Vinny Cerrato) or favored players (late-career Clinton Portis, possibly Robert Griffin III) rather than making the harder decision that would more quickly translate to on-field success.

In a 2011 interview on 106.7 The Fan—about sticking with Grunfeld, coincidentally enough—Leonsis appeared to cite loyalty as a virtue. “You guys know me long enough, I am pretty loyal. I believe we’re in it together,” he said. “And as long as we are on the same page, I think that there’s harmony in the organization.”

Sure, loyalty is laudable, but it’s equally important to understand when it stands in the way of progress. It seems clear that the Wizards have reached that point with Grunfeld; the question is if Leonsis still believes that harmony is more important than taking emotionally tough steps to improve the team.

Photo of Randy Wittman by Keith Allison / Flickr C.C.

District Line Daily: Gray Day

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

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It’s official, folks: Ex-Mayor Vince Gray will run for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council. In announcing his bid Thursday on WAMU, Gray took a few shots at incumbent Yvette Alexander, saying there’s “wide dissatisfaction” among residents over her representation. If he succeeds, it could mean an anti-Muriel Bowser bloc on the Council.


  • The District has confirmed three cases of Zika virus, one involving a pregnant woman. [City Desk, Post]
  • A pair of firefighters has been reassigned for failing to notice a gunshot wound on a patient. [FOX5, Post]
  • No charges will be filed against a Metro Transit Police officer who fatally shot a man last year. [WUSA9]
  • Metro has a new video surveillance center that lets operators monitor suspicious or criminal activity. [Post]
  • D.C. will form a disability advisory committee to help mount better responses to snowstorms. [City Desk]
  • An “anti-feminist” meet-up may still be on for Saturday, and D.C. police say they’ve heard concerns. [DCist]
  • Joseph Weishaar, 25, will design the new World War I memorial in Pershing Park. Who is he? [WAMU]


  • Dinner Engagement: How common are restaurant marriage proposals and how do staff prepare for them?
  • John Aniello Award: One of TheatreWashington’s annual awards recognizes up-and-coming companies.
  • Climbing Panda: Giant panda cub Bei Bei went outside and climbed a tree on Thursday. Well, kind of.

Read more District Line Daily: Gray Day

D.C. Police Arrest Juvenile for Seven Alleged School Threats in Two Weeks


The Metropolitan Police Department has announced the arrest of a male juvenile who's charged with seven counts of falsely reporting a "weapon of mass destruction" across four District schools, according to a Thursday release.

The alleged threats spanned nearly two weeks, from Jan. 19 to Feb. 1. this year, MPD says; the juvenile, who lives in Northeast, allegedly called them in from the same private phone number during morning hours. The arrest was made Wednesday.

"During all of the incidents, the Metropolitan Police Department was immediately notified and conducted a search of the locations and surrounding areas," the release states. "The search was negative and no hazardous materials were found. All staff and students were accounted for in good health."

Below is a list of schools affected by the calls, according to MPD: Read more D.C. Police Arrest Juvenile for Seven Alleged School Threats in Two Weeks

Bei Bei Went Outside

Screen shot 2016-02-04 at 2.47.17 PM

Shortly after chewing solid foods for the first time in his life (sweet potato!), giant panda cub Bei Bei has ventured to the outside world with mother Mei Xiang. Watch as the shy-seeming little guy climbs a tree—and turns around:

Screenshot via Smithsonian National Zoo

D.C. Has Confirmed Two Cases of Zika Virus This Year, One Involving a Pregnant Woman


Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause neurological birth defects and which the World Health Organization says is "spreading explosively" in the Americas, has entered the District, according to D.C.'s Department of Health. Two cases have been confirmed this year, and one was confirmed last year: All involved travel to South or Central America. One of the 2016 cases affected a pregnant woman.

Zika can also be transmitted through sexual contact, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Tuesday, citing a case in Texas. The virus typically manifests as a "mild illness, characterized by low grade fever, and a maculopapular rash, but can include symptoms such as myalgias/arthralgias, headache, conjunctivitis, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting," per a DOH notice sent to medical providers Monday. "Severe disease is uncommon and no deaths have been reported."

The agency also has a fact sheet on Zika, explaining that one in five people infected with the virus show symptoms.

Update 3:30 p.m.: DOH has provided City Desk with the following statement on the appearance of Zika in D.C.:

The [department] is working closely with the [CDC] to monitor and track Zika virus infections in D.C. residents. It is important for residents to remember that there is no immediate threat to their health and well-being if they have not travelled to the known affected areas. However, we must all stay well informed and be cautious when traveling internationally. DOH has created a webpage that will be regularly updated, with a fact sheet on the Zika Virus and other key information to ensure that all D.C. residents are engaged and informed.

Photo by Day Donaldson via Flickr Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

D.C. Will Form Disability Advisory Committee to Improve Snow Response

bus Stop Snow

On his way to work last week, Anthony Stevens got tangled in caution tape and fell twice on his back.

Stevens, who is blind and uses a guide dog, found it difficult to travel in the wake of a blizzard that left towers of snow at curb cuts and complicated his travel. He’d follow paved sidewalks to find them blocked, and his plotted paths impassable.

“You feel like you’re Lewis and Clark,” Stevens says. “Everything’s different.” Read more D.C. Will Form Disability Advisory Committee to Improve Snow Response

District Line Daily: Ward War III

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

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

With ex-Mayor Vince Gray set to make some sort of announcement today (hm…), it’s safe to say the District’s 2016 primary race will be interesting, if not paradigm-shifting. For one, the election could sway the balance of the D.C. Council away from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s interests. For another, it could represent a clash of personalities and backgrounds.


  • A quadruple shooting on the 1500 block of Bulter Street SE Wednesday night left two juveniles and two adults wounded. [WUSA9, WJLA]
  • Excited for the first inaugural “D.C. Bike Ride” in May? It’ll stretch 17-miles long. [Post, Washingtonian]
  • Ten D.C. public schools will get an extra month of class time starting this fall. [City Desk, NBC4, Post]
  • D.C. Public School Chancellor Kaya Henderson says students on Metro aren’t a threat to riders. [WTOP]
  • The city’s 911 center saw the most calls ever last year. How are operators keeping up with demand? [Post]
  • “Taxation Without Representation” looks like it will appear on D.C. United’s new jerseys…at least in some order. [Sports Illustrated, City Desk]
  • Metro won’t install new fare gates with “near field communication technology” any time soon. [WAMU]
  • Capital Weather Gang: Global warming is driving “D.C.’s new era of great snowstorms.” [Post]


  • War Chests: At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange has the most cash on hand of any candidate who is or could run for his seat this year.
  • Hank’s Pasta Bar: The owner of Hank’s Oyster Bar has opened a pasta-theme restaurant in Alexandria.
  • The BBQ Joint: A new barbecue spot is expected to open on 14th and U streets NW within the next month.

Read more District Line Daily: Ward War III

Did Adidas Screw Up the City’s Slogan on New D.C. United Jerseys?


D.C. United's new logo

It's only three words: "Taxation Without Representation." But the new D.C. United jerseys, which will be unveiled this weekend, might have the city's license-plate rallying cry out of order.

Brian Straus has the scoop and pictures at Sports Illustrated: Read more Did Adidas Screw Up the City’s Slogan on New D.C. United Jerseys?