City Desk

This Week’s Page Three Photo

1000 Block of 14th Street NW, February 8

1000 Block of 14th Street NW, February 8

Page three photos are also in this gallery.

Unobstructed View: Joe House—Bill Simmons’ Wingman and D.C. Sports Guy

President Barack Obama is photographed with Bill Simmons and crew after participating in an interview, in the Library of the White House, Feb. 29, 2012.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama is photographed with Bill Simmons and crew after participating in an interview, in the Library of the White House, Feb. 29, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Even before Bill Simmons was a national pundit with an HBO deal and his own podcasting network, back when he was just the Boston Sports Guy, he was including his friends in his columns. It’s a big part of what created the every-dude persona that served as the foundation to Simmons’ career: He talked about the games like you did, about how he and his buddy J-Bug watched the Celtics, or how he fought with Jack-O about the Yankees.

Or how his buddy Joe House loved the Washington teams.

As Simmons’ profile got bigger, his buddies not only remained a part of his anecdotes, they started appearing on his podcasts and, once he was running ESPN’s boutique Grantland imprint, contributing articles or starring in videos. Now, despite having a day job in consulting totally unrelated to sports writing or commentary, Joe House has a regular weekly podcast with Simmons and a public profile with a huge following on Twitter. Which, in turn, is how one of the most downloaded sports podcasts on the Internet winds up spending a few minutes every Friday discussing D.C. sports while dishing out betting advice and statistical trends. Read more Unobstructed View: Joe House—Bill Simmons’ Wingman and D.C. Sports Guy

District Line Daily: No Supervision

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from 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. police are investigating the death of a months-old infant who was found unresponsive in a home near Van Buren and North Capitol streets NW on Wednesday morning. Other young siblings but no adults appear to have been there.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser yesterday said she was not “shocked” by the resignation of a Fire and Emergency Medical Services official who had only been on the job for about half a year. [City Desk, Post, WAMU]
  • Post editorial board: It’s about time D.C. General closes for good, but it won’t end homelessness. [Post]
  • Metro lost hundreds of rail riders last year, largely due to concerns over reliability and safety. [WAMU]
  • D.C. taxis now finally have a ride-hailing app of their own. It has cost about $500,000 so far. [Post, WBJ]
  • On Saturday, the District Department of Transportation will hold a Vision Zero “hackathon.” [City Desk]
  • Oh, wonderful: The weather will be “painfully cold and windy today but the weekend” looks worse. [Post]
  • Not safe to eat: certain fish swimming in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. [City Desk, FOX5, WJLA]

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

  • Independent Counsel: District Attorney General Karl Racine is D.C.’s first-ever elected AG. What’s he planning to do this year?
  • Whaley’s: A new seafood restaurant and raw bar will expectedly open in Navy Yard this spring.
  • Animal Orgs. Unite: The Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League will merge.

Read more District Line Daily: No Supervision

Don’t Eat These Fish From D.C.’s Rivers

anacostia_ducks

As if the oil spill that appeared in the Potomac last week wasn't enough to disincline you (or the one last October), the District Department of Energy & Environment advises you to avoid eating certain types of fish in D.C.'s waters.

DOEE's 2016 Fish Consumption Advisory, out today, recommends that residents not consume eel, carp, or striped bass caught in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers "because they are most contaminated by chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)," which over time can increase one's risk of cancer as well as potentially lead to negative developmental effects among children. But sunfishes, catfish, and perch are safe to eat in limited portions.

"By following the recommended advisories for eating fish, you can reduce your risk of adverse health effects from exposure to various contaminants and still enjoy the benefits of eating fish," the advisory explains. "The nutritional and cardiovascular or other health benefits of eating fish are well established, and these advisories can help people make better choices for safe consumption."

Read more Don’t Eat These Fish From D.C.’s Rivers

Washington Animal Rescue League and Washington Humane Society to Merge

warlwhs_merger

The Washington Humane Society and the Washington Animal Rescue League will merge to form a unified animal care agency, organization leaders announced at a press conference Wednesday morning.

“These two organizations have been collaborating and working closely together for a hundred years,” said WHS President and CEO Lisa LaFontaine, who will stay on to head the combined organization. “We care about the same things. We have the same standards of excellence, and we have been partners.”

Throughout the press conference, organization leaders and employees emphasized that coordinating animal care and allocating joint resources will help expand the group’s efforts to save and treat animals. “With all of this combined, we will change and touch the lives of 60,000 animals a year, and many more people behind those animals loving them and trying to care for them,” said LaFontaine.   Read more Washington Animal Rescue League and Washington Humane Society to Merge

Bowser on FEMS Official’s Resignation: ‘Nothing Really Shocks Me’

0406fems2

Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday said that the "biggest shock" of Dr. Jullette Saussy's resignation as medical director of D.C.'s Fire and Emergency Medical Services agency was that she didn't give "adequate notice."

"Nothing really shocks me," Bowser said when asked if she was "shocked" at Saussy's departure, reported Tuesday. "I will tell you that I've dealt with a lot of professionals and we've recruited a lot of great people, and we want to continue to do that. We expect members of our team to be professional and have the interests of the District first."

Saussy, a recruit from New Orleans hired under Bowser-appointed FEMS Chief Gregory Dean, sent a letter to the mayor dated Jan. 29 characterizing the department's culture as "highly toxic" and stating that "people are dying needlessly because we are moving too slow." As of this week, Saussy had been on the job for a little over half a year. In her letter, she alleges that FEMS suffers from a "lack of accountability," refusing "to measure true performance."

Read more Bowser on FEMS Official’s Resignation: ‘Nothing Really Shocks Me’

Vision Zero ‘Hackathon’ Planned for Saturday

As part of an effort to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2024, the District Department of Transportation will hold a Vision Zero "hackathon" on Saturday at the OpenGov Hub, where participants will be able to analyze years of data.

The event reflects one of the prongs of Vision Zero: the effective use of data to keep commuters of all modes secure. Other strategies include engineering streets, educating the public, and enforcing laws. The District released a Vision Zero action plan in December: It emphasizes preventing dangerous driving, making streets safer, and transparency.

"During the event, participants will brainstorm and code their way to fresh insights about transportation safety, using newly released open data on traffic crashes and enforcement," a notice from DDOT reads. "The hackathon will convene diverse groups to analyze information, exchange ideas, and showcase new data visualizations, apps, GIS analysis, and other insights to senior city leadership."

Read more Vision Zero ‘Hackathon’ Planned for Saturday

These D.C. Recreation Centers Will Have Delayed Reopenings

mdprrelogo2

Sorry, leisure-lovers: Three D.C. recreations centers that serve Wards 3, 4, and 5 will remain closed longer than expected because of "inclement weather and construction," according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Those rec centers are Macomb (3409 Macomb St. NW), Hamilton (1340 Hamilton St. NW), and Brentwood (2311 14th St. NE), which are all getting renovations and repairs through D.C.'s Department of General Services. Closures were announced in December and anticipated to end on Feb. 8. DPR today says Brentwood will likely open on Feb. 22; Macomb and Hamilton on Feb. 29. Some of the fixes include updated bathrooms and access ramps and railings.

Logo via DPR

District Line Daily: Where There’s Smoke…

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from 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.

Jullette Saussy, the medical director of D.C.’s Fire and Emergency Medical Service department, has resigned, writing in a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser that people are “needlessly dying because we are moving too slow.” Saussy served as medical director for just over half a year; her resignation comes as DCFEMS has seen problems.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • 9:30 Club will be the setting of a new music variety show to broadcast soon on PBS stations. [Arts Desk]
  • D.C. police say a man who was shot at North Capitol and M Streets NW on Tuesday night has died. [Post]
  • Officials expect that a new rush-hour bus lane along 16th Street NW will take years to implement. [WAMU]
  • Some Metro riders are getting charged peak prices at off-peak times because of technology troubles. [Post]
  • Some advocates are already criticizing the most-recent changes to a proposed paid-leave bill. [City Desk]
  • A D.C.-area lawyer got hundreds of texts from people who thought he was Chipotle. [NBC4, Post, TIME]

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

Read more District Line Daily: Where There’s Smoke…

Metro Ridership Continues to Drop. Why?

cover_metro-2

Metro ridership remains at its lowest level in a decade, a report prepared for the Finance and Administration Committee states. Across Metro's modes, riders took 9.5 million fewer trips between October and December compared to that point in the previous year, a 5.4 percent drop. In the report, Metro outlines why it thinks people have been shying away from its services.

The Silver Line
Apparently the new kid on the block is having a hard time assimilating: The addition of the Silver Line correlated with less reliability in the Metrorail system overall, with a noticeable dip in ridership beginning in May 2015.

The Weather (But Also Not the Weather)
Declines in ridership abound at nearly all stations, including at different times and across types of trips. In the report, Metro notes that "these widespread declines were not tied to any particular events" or the weather in the autumn or early winter, which was “relatively mild.” (The January blizzard, however, was tough on the system: Metro says it lost up to $8 million in revenue over five days and spent an additional $6 million.)

Why Weekend ridership was especially bad is not such a mystery: Metro notes it was “closely correlated to weather and the level of service related to track work and rebuilding projects.” Read more Metro Ridership Continues to Drop. Why?

Ahead of Third Hearing on Paid Leave Legislation, D.C. Council Makes Contested Changes to Bill

mendo

One of the District's most anticipated pieces of legislation this year has just undergone some significant revisions.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson—who also chairs the legislature's Committee of the Whole—on Monday circulated a draft committee print of the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2016. A third hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday. The amended bill reflects an effort to tighten the initial bill's provisions and ultimately to drive down expected costs. It reduces the maximum annual leave an individual with a qualifying condition is eligible for from 16 to 12 weeks, cuts the wage-replacement rate for beneficiaries across all incomes, and requires residents to exhaust their sick leave from the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 before tapping into the universal benefit.

Read more Ahead of Third Hearing on Paid Leave Legislation, D.C. Council Makes Contested Changes to Bill

District Line Daily: Bowser Rolls Out D.C. General Plan

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from 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.

At a D.C. Council breakfast on Tuesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced her administration's plan to close the D.C. General family shelter and replace it with smaller-scale facilities spread across the District—one in each ward. They would serve hundreds of families, but community and Council feedback are needed before implementation.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • D.C. didn’t get much snow-accumulation overnight thanks to higher temperatures, but a winter-weather advisory remains in effect north of the District. [Post, WTOP]
  • Metro is running regularly today despite planning yesterday for reduced bus service. [Popville, City Desk]
  • The Federal Transit Administration says it will withhold funding from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia if they do not create a new safety-oversight body for Metro by next year. [WAMU]
  • D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has released an updated draft of the District's proposed paid-leave legislation, which in part cuts the total number of weeks of paid leave an individual is eligible for. [WAMU]
  • Post editorial board: The District needs to look at the proposed paid-leave legislation “more carefully”. [Post]
  • Local fast-casual restaurant chain &pizza has some significant expansions planned for 2016. [DC Inno]

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

  • Ward 8 Race: Trayon White is again challenging LaRuby May for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat.
  • Slayed: Beyoncé won’t be coming to D.C. during her “Formation” world tour. But there’s always Baltimore…
  • River Sheen: As of Monday afternoon, the source of an oil spill into the Potomac River remained unclear.

Read more District Line Daily: Bowser Rolls Out D.C. General Plan

D.C. General Closure: Mayor Announces Locations of Proposed Shelters

dcgeneral_lobby-e1424903577627

The Bowser administration today announced the proposed locations of eight facilities—one in each ward—that will replace the D.C. General family shelter.

generalwardmap

D.C. General is currently home to 260 families, including around 400 children. The old hospital facility is located near the Hill East neighborhood in a complex of buildings that includes the D.C. Jail and a methadone clinic. It became a shelter for families under the Fenty administration and has continued in that fashion as the family homelessness crisis in D.C. has exploded (the number of homeless families has increased by 40 percent since 2010). Its many problems were thrust into the spotlight in 2014 after the disappearance of Relisha Rudd, an eight-year-old girl who was living at the shelter with her mother and brothers. Rudd was kidnapped by a shelter janitor, police say, and has not been seen since March 1 of that year. Read more D.C. General Closure: Mayor Announces Locations of Proposed Shelters

Source of Potomac Oil Spill Unclear as Investigation Continues

Goose_Up_Close

The source of last week's fuel spill into the Potomac River remains unclear, U.S. Coast Guard Commander Michael Keane said Monday.

Authorities have been able to determine that the spill contained fuel oil. The afternoon briefing was held at Gravelly Point, a park and boat launch just north of Reagan National; the spill likely began near the Arlington airport.

“The sheening from Gravelly Point has ceased, but you will see some tidal action that will create some rainbow sheens still in the area,” Keane said.  

As time goes on, the oil is becoming harder and harder to track. “It has been significantly degraded because of weathering,” Keane said. “Right now I have not ruled out any sources.” Additional samples have been collected for further testing, with results expected Wednesday. Authorities initially believed the spill may be related to last month’s blizzard, but have since ruled out any significant link. Read more Source of Potomac Oil Spill Unclear as Investigation Continues

With Snow Expected, Metro Buses to Run on Reduced Service Tuesday [UPDATED]

bus Stop Snow

Update 9:00 a.m.:

As of Tuesday morning, Metro says it's running on its "regular weekday schedule," according to a release, because there are "no weather-related issues to report."

Original Post:

Metrobus will run under a "moderate snow plan" on Tuesday, due to anticipated accumulations of an inch or more.

The moderate plan means some bus routes won't operate while others will make detours to avoid "hilly terrain, narrow streets, and other problem areas," according to the agency. As of 3 p.m. Monday, Metrorail will run on its regular weekday schedule both above and below ground. The transit authority explains in a release that staff will de-ice rails overnight and clear "station platforms, sidewalks, parking lots and bus loops." MetroAccess, the agency's service for passengers with disabilities, will provide planned service on Tuesday, but there could be delays.

The last time Metro ran buses under the moderate snow plan was during the week following January's big blizzard.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

...