City Desk

The Needle: Party On

Hour of Mayhem: Set those clocks back. Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, which means you have an extra hour to drink Saturday night. +5

Pumpkin Craze Hits the Zoo: Even D.C.'s gorillas can't stop eating pumpkins. +1

Read more The Needle: Party On

No Arrests Made After Teens Storm Bus

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A series of photos of what appeared to be a group of teenagers mobbing a 97 bus at the Stadium-Armory Metro station made the rounds on Twitter this afternoon. Taken by Tim Krepp, the photos show several kids climbing on top of and on the sides of the bus.

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According to Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel, D.C. police received a call about the incident around 12:30 p.m. MPD and the Metro Transit Police responded at the scene. Stessel was unable to provide details about what precisely happened prior to the police arriving, but says officers found a few dozen juveniles, ages 15 to 17, "acting disorderly." No weapons were found on the scene, and police recorded no assaults and made no arrests. One transit police officer sustained a minor leg injury while dispersing the crowd, Stessel says.

Clarifying initial Twitter speculation that the bus driver "fled the scene," Stessel says the driver followed protocol, which was to turn off the bus and get off.

Stessel did not confirm where the juveniles attend school, though Eastern High School is a few blocks from the school, and all DCPS students had just been let out for an early dismissal. In a series of short videos of the incident provided to City Paper, several dozen students can be seen hurrying away from the bus; it appears that a relatively small number were actually participating.

Stessel suggested that "maybe too much sugar" was a factor in the incident.

Photos courtesy Tim Krepp

Here Are Otters Playing With Pumpkins

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Courtesy of the National Zoo, here are 10 Asian small-clawed otters spending time with pumpkins. The purpose of the exercise, beyond providing the public visual stimulation, is to introduce new smells to the animals and encourage them to use their paws.

Photo courtesy Smithsonian National Zoo

Photo: Corner Office

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H Street NW, October 30

District Line Daily: Marijuana-Fueled Election

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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Election officials predict the initiative to legalize marijuana on Nov. 4's ballot could help push voter turnout during the general election to 40 percent—higher than any similar election since 1998. The first-ever attorney general race and an unusually competitive mayoral election could also contribute to higher than usual voter turnout.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Peaceholics co-founder Ron Moten sued David Catania Thursday for implicating him in an alleged illegal spending effort on behalf of mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser. [Loose Lips]
  • The musician Pharrell Williams tweeted his support for Muriel Bowser Thursday. [Washington Post]
  • The man punched in the face by singer Chris Brown last year during an Oct. 2013 altercation outside D.C.'s W Hotel settled the case with the celebrity for just more than $100,000. [Washington Post]
  • Police are looking for a man who reportedly attacked a police officer in a cruiser with an ax, unprovoked, early Friday morning near 13th and Perry streets NE. The officer wasn't struck by the ax but hurt his shoulder in the altercation. Police have recovered the ax. [News4]

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The Needle: Are You Happy Yet?

So Celeb: Pharrell has made his choice clear and thinks Muriel Bowser is the candidate to vote for. Why? Who knows. -2 

Rumor Mill: Rumors are once again circulating that UNIQLO is opening in CityCenter. That would be great news, but don't get too excited: Last time these rumors turned out to be very much false. +/- 0

Read more The Needle: Are You Happy Yet?

Marijuana Could Be a $130 Million Annual Market in D.C.

How much is your high worth?

To the D.C. government, it's far more than a family-sized bag of Doritos and a candy bar.

The D.C. Council is in the middle of a marathon hearing this afternoon looking at how the city government would regulate the sale of marijuana, should voters decide to legalize it at the polls Nov. 4. (A new Washington City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show poll found that 52 percent of likely voters want it to be legalized.) In prepared testimony, Yesim Sayim Taylor, the director of fiscal and legislative analysis in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, estimated that marijuana and marijuana-related sales would create a new market in D.C. worth $130 million a year.

This estimate is grounded in the assumption that 122,000 people purchase about three ounces of pot per year. (The 122,000 comes from an estimated 91,000 D.C. resident users, 28,000 commuters who are users, and 3,000 tourists.) Taylor estimates that the cost of legal marijuana in the District will be $350 per ounce.

Taylor could not actually say how much this would bring to city coffers because it is still unclear how much it will be taxed. The current legislation to regulate marijuana proposes a 15 percent tax, but Taylor could not estimate how much that tax could dissuade people from purchasing marijuana, or how many illegal users would move to the regulated market. Additionally, actually implementing the tax framework could be complicated, requiring the hiring of additional employees.

Initiative 71—the Nov. 4 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana—does not legalize the sale of marijuana, just the possession and cultivation of small amounts. According to the City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show poll, 43 percent of likely voters think it should be legal to sell less than an ounce of marijuana and it should be taxed.

Today's hearing was a joint one between the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance Revenue. At-Large Councilmember David Grosso crafted the legislation—the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013—to regulate marijuana and says the Council will be working on it over the "next couple months."

Read the testimony below:

Photo by Hupu2 via Wikimedia Commons

This Week’s Page Three Photo

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1000 Block of F Street NW, October 28

Page three photos are also in this gallery.

District Line Daily: The Politics Issue

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.

Our Politics Issue is online and on stands today. There's poll results on what voters think about everything from mayor, to pot, to guns, and homeless shelters. And we make our endorsements. Read it to see who we think should be mayor, the two at-large council members, attorney general, and more.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • A majority of D.C. voters want the city to host the summer Olympics in 2024. Here's why that's such a terrible idea. [Vox]
  • Attorney general candidate Edward "Smitty" Smith tried—unsuccessfully—to get other attorney general candidates to drop out of the race to avoid a Karl Racine win. [Loose Lips]
  • Police are investigating the second fatal stabbing in a month in Columbia Heights. The latest incident occurred Wednesday night on the 1400 block of Perry Place NW. [Washington Post]
  • The D.C. Council will hold its first hearing today on legislation that would allow the city to tax and regulate marijuana like Colorado and Washington state. [News4]

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How D.C.’s Plan to Save Low-Income Housing Went Wrong

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“(The New Communities Initiative) is a tremendous opportunity for our city, one of the most important things we have done in the last 10 years.” —Mayor Anthony Williams, July 2005

When Williams uttered these words, New Communities seemed a bold leap, setting a new standard for “urban renewal,” in which long-term, low-income residents would benefit most from the changes. The pledge was to build new affordable housing with wrap-around services adjacent to decaying complexes, so that tenants got new homes in their own community while a larger mixed-income redevelopment took place.

The program began with a pair of murders, the most obvious being the January 2004 execution of 14-year-old Jahkema “Princess” Hansen in the Sursum Corda complex near First and M streets NW, cut down for having witnessed an earlier killing. Hovering ghost-like in the background, however, was another death: that of a tight-knit Southwest D.C. community in the first wave of inner-city renewal in the 1950s.

That history fed community skepticism of New Communities in Northwest One—the North Capitol Street area adjacent to Sursum Corda, where the whole program began—as residents questioned whether demolition and displacement would trump the building of new units in the community. But neighborhood advocates like me helped overcome the suspicion, arguing that this time would be different, and we would fight to make it so.

Now the New Communities Initiative is in serious trouble, with the biggest news in its 10th year being a city-commissioned report detailing its fundamental failings. The recommendations for reviving the program in the report by Quadel Consulting and Training only magnify the danger. Underneath the measured, wonkish tones is an unmistakable message: New Communities can only be saved by breaking its original promises—those, that is, that haven’t already been broken.

One measure of this betrayal: The New Communities program in Northwest One has resulted in a net loss of more than 100 deeply subsidized—read: truly affordable—units thus far.

This is not how it was supposed to be… and I speak as someone in the room when this all came together, in community meetings at St. Aloysius Catholic Church following the highly publicized murders, failed HUD inspections, and consequent feared loss of hundreds of units of affordable housing.

Over the years, I have been heartbroken as, one by one, those hopes were dashed, those pledges compromised, even discarded. Now the last chance to salvage the essentials of the original vision and keep faith with the long-term, low-income residents lies in the hands of a new mayor and D.C. Council. Read more How D.C.’s Plan to Save Low-Income Housing Went Wrong

The Needle: Rock the Vote

Almost Halfway There: The executive director of the District of Columbia Board of Elections predicts 40 percent turnout for next week's election, a significant increase over the 27 percent turnout at April's primary. +5

Where in the World? The Wizards Marcin Gortat, who is from Poland, says there are people in NBA who don't know where Poland is. Some of the apparently think it is in Africa-2

Read more The Needle: Rock the Vote

Gear Prudence: What’s a Good Bike-Themed Halloween Costume?

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Gear Prudence: I’m looking for a good comeback for annoying comments people yell at me while I’m riding my bike, like “ride on the sidewalk!” or “get off the road!” Thoughts? —Please Eradicate Snarkiness Toward Every Rider

Dear PESTER: Ah, the one withering word or phrase that will not only silence the haters, but make them feel bad for ever opening their mouths. After you let loose with it, not only will the offender regret their comment, but this comeback will make them never bother cyclists again. It will be epiphanic. They’ll soon realize bicyclists are great. Maybe they’ll get a bike and begin to ride to work. And then, all because of your snappy line, they’ll become cycling evangelists ready with their own snappy comebacks to those who dare yell at them, thereby converting even more former enemies to the cause. Soon all harassers will be on bikes in a glorious future of understanding and harmoniousness!

I don’t think so.

A witty rejoinder (or fusillade of curses) might get someone to shut up. Or it won’t. At best, it’ll make you feel better momentarily. At worst, it’ll needlessly escalate the situation. Ignore dumb people and the dumb things they say. —GP

Gear Prudence: I’m wondering if you had any ideas for some bike-themed Halloween costumes. —Beseeching Original Outfits Read more Gear Prudence: What’s a Good Bike-Themed Halloween Costume?

Official Washington Mourns Ben Bradlee

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"This is Washington," Donald Graham, the CEO of the company that formerly owned the Washington Post, said this morning as he began a tribute to Ben Bradlee during his funeral at Washington National Cathedral. "City of big reputations. And Ben was responsible for puncturing some of those reputations."

And indeed, it didn't get more Washington than the funeral of the legendary Washington Post editor who oversaw the Watergate coverage and, at the helm of the paper for nearly 25 years, is credited with shaping it into one of the top news outlets in the country.

The funeral had the makings of every classic Washington event—not least because it was televised on C-SPAN. There were politicians, celebrity journalists, and even the Post's new owner Jeff Bezos temporarily left the west coast to pay his respects. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry had prominent seats in the front row of the cathedral, which has a capacity of about 2,000 people. (The seats were about half-full.) Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was there shaking hands, as was New York Times editor Dean Baquet.  New Yorker editor David Remnickformer Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, and prominent lawyer Bob Barnett were all listed as pallbearers.

By 9:15 a.m., dozens of people were lined up outside the cathedral just to get into the 11 a.m. service. (Biden swooped in at the last minute.)

And then, of course, there were gaggles of reporters on the clock, confined to the balcony, straining to see who was in attendance as the enormous cameras of a half dozen photographers aggressively clicked about at high speeds. Read more Official Washington Mourns Ben Bradlee

D.C. Residents Make Up Less Than 20 Percent of Police Force

In the wake of the Ferguson, Mo., shooting, in which a white police officer shot a black teen, questions about the racial dynamics of the country's police forces and the departments' relationships with the cities they serve naturally arose. Ferguson is a predominantly black town, but its police department is more than 90 percent white, suggesting that most of the officers don't live in Ferguson.

FiveThirtyEight subsequently published an article showing that most police officers throughout the country don't live in the cities in which they work. The article showed that less than 20 percent of police officers in D.C. lived in the District, but that figure included all police forces like Park Police and U.S. Capitol Police.

So what about the Metropolitan Police Department—the people who are on the ground patrolling commercial and residential neighborhoods throughout the city? Well, the numbers aren't much different.

Information obtained by Washington City Paper through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that just 17 percent of MPD's nearly 4,000 officers actually reside in the District. Sixty-two percent live in Maryland, and nearly 20 percent call Virginia home. The "other" category—less than 1 percent of the force—reflects new hires or pending retirees who may have non-local addresses.

 

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The police force in 2013, according to the department's most recent annual report, was comprised of 57 percent black officers and 33 percent white officers.

MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump says the police department aims to recruit District residents through efforts like the Cadet Program, which targets D.C. high school students or graduates. The program allows these residents to earn college credit at the University of the District of Columbia so they can meet the recruit entrance requirements. The department also provides financial assistance and other incentives to officers looking to become first-time homeowners in the District of Columbia.

District Line Daily: Feds Heighten Security

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.

Security will be increased at various federal buildings throughout D.C. and the country as a "precautionary step," the Department of Homeland Security announced. DHS would not say which buildings would receive heightened security and what the measures would be. The announcement comes a week after a gunman fatally shot a Canadian soldier and then stormed into Parliament.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • The family of an Options Public Charter School teen filed an $11 million suit against the school and others after a substitute teacher performed oral sex on the student. [Washington Post]
  • The D.C. Council passed legislation Tuesday permanently legalizing ride share services like uberX and Lyft in the city. [City Desk]
  • An unmanned rocket headed to resupply the International Space Station blew up last night a few seconds after liftoff from Wallops Island, Va. [Washington Post]
  • More women fear they may have been recorded by the Georgetown rabbi who has been charged with multiple counts of voyeurism. [News4]

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