City Desk

Andrew Giambrone is the New City Desk Reporter

IMG_3915Washington City Paper has hired Andrew Giambrone to run our City Desk blog, beginning on July 13.

Giambrone comes to us via the Atlantic, where he just completed a one-year fellowship with the magazine. While there, he wrote about reducing gun violence, delivering flu shots via Uber, and a subject near and dear to our hearts, D.C. statehood. He interned at the New Yorker while at Yale, where was on the staff of the Yale Daily News. He grew up in Brooklyn.

The biggest attraction to the job, Giambrone says, is the chance to cover local news, and we promise to flood him with those chances and ramp up City Desk again.

You can follow him on Twitter @andrewgiambrone. Send him news tips there or to

Photo courtesy Andrew Giambrone

Buy D.C.: Tourist Kitschy Cool

Each week, Buy D.C. will highlight shops and items you can only find in the D.C. area, curated by Kaarin Vembar, owner of personal shopping and wardrobe editing service Closet Caucus.

If you live in D.C., there’s a good chance you strive to avoid the city’s more touristy offerings. But you’re missing out on some serious swag. Here’s some fun merch locals rarely encounter.


That’s How Rough Riders Roll

Take a bath while brushing up on history with this Theodore Roosevelt rubber ducky.

Historic duck, $.99. Washington Welcome Center. 1001 E St. NW. (202) 347-6609.



D.C. is the only place where a donkey graphic on a breath freshener product makes complete sense.

Democrat mints, $3.49. Honest Abe’s Souvenirs. 506 10th St. NW, 2nd floor. (202) 783-1003.



Remember when astronaut ice cream was all the rage? Now petrified dinosaur food is the souvenir de jour.

Dinosaur food, $6. National Museum of Natural History. 1000 Constitution Ave. NW. (202) 633-1000.


Witch, Please

Take home these socks from the American History Museum and recreate the Wizard of Oz scene where the house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East.

Wizard of Oz socks, $12. National Museum of American History. 1400 Constitution Ave. NW. (202) 633-1000.


Commander in Chubby Cheeks

Need a quirky baby shower gift? This onesie will inspire presidential confidence while representing your D.C. home.

Baby onesie, $9.99. Old Town Trading Post. 128 King St., Alexandria. (703) 739-8877.

Chatter: Buy, Buy, Buy

cover-issue1856-lgWhat you said about what we said last week

Chris Heller’s thoughtful checkup on the D.C. United stadium deal poised to turn this city into a soccer town (any day now, guys...) was bound to get readers’ knickers in a twist. And oh, what a twist they’re in! JC bristled at any comparison between District stadiums: “The Nats deal and United’s deal are completely different. The city owns every inch of land they are buying for United’s stadium.” OK, JC, let me stop you right there: They own the thing they are buying? Does any part of that raise a red flag to you? “The city loses nothing in United’s deal because the team is paying for the site construction.” Face, meet palm.

d_rez made a fair point: “The fact that these new stadiums seem to be positioned at the edge of existing development, rather than in the middle of nowhere indicate their ability to spur new clusters of development is entirely unproven. IMO at most, one can say they have a catalytic effect on certain types and characters of new development adjacent to existing development.” Oh wow, that’s some excellent use of italuendo. Or is that a scare-gestion?

Commenter Chris Otten, apparently the same Chris Otten who ran for mayor with the D.C. Statehood Green Party, pointed out that priorities look screwy, no matter how you slice it: “It’s amazing, the District is struggling with high levels of poverty, many of our children go to bed hungry every night, we have huge medical issues among our families, and the priority is to get soccer, at 10 games a year. WTF? Plus, while we see a deatiled analysis of the soccer stadium ripoff, which according to Ed Lazere became ‘less’ of a ripoff, why aren’t we doing the same with McMillan Park — 25 acres of open public land that is a national historic landmark that is being given away for a fraction of its value to corporate developers with high-ties to District beaucrats. Why doesn’t McMillan get the same scrutiny as the soccer stadium deal? ... More scrutiny of the McMillan Park giveaway is needed now!” There’s a real story in there, but right now all I can think about is a trend piece on how “McMillan” has become the “Benghazi” dog-whistle of the District. Start sending us your angry letters now for an upcoming rebuttal.

And finally, prout hill stuck up for the cultural value of organized sports: RFK stadium “was built entirely with public funding (the National Park Service supplied the land, and the District built the stadium)... Perhaps they realized that the stadium would be a community asset, just like, say, the Kennedy Center or Wolf Trap (which happen to serve more upscale audiences than do stadiums, and which ‘subsidize’ many wealthy performers who appear at these venues).” When the name of a Kennedy Center performer is so racist this paper refuses to print it, let’s talk about RFK-KC parity.

Department of Corrections

The handout photo that accompanied last week’s story on the Chamber Dance Project was missing a credit. It was taken by Eduardo Patino.

This Week’s Page Three Photo

Roaches Run, Arlington, June 29

Page three photos are also in this gallery.

Law Enforcement: No Evidence of Shooting at the Navy Yard

IMG_20150702_082027Law enforcement and U.S. Navy officials have confirmed that there was no shooting at the Navy Yard in Southeast D.C. Thursday.

"At this time there is no evidence of gunshots, there is no evidence of a shooter," Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference. "We are grateful at this point that we found no shooter evidence."

According the Metropolitan Police Department, "a call was placed from a building inside of the Washington Navy Yard for possible sounds of gun shots around 7:29 a.m." The call elicited a massive law enforcement response to the site, which was the location of a deadly mass shooting in 2013.

"At this time we have completed our search of the building and have found no evidence of a shooting or injured personnel," MPD said. A U.S. Navy official said the Navy Yard is still under lockdown, but it will reopen once a search is completed.

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said the response to today's call of a "potential active shooter" was "well coordinated."

Lanier added that she was not concerned that the call was a hoax.

District Line Daily: Hunger Games

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

This week's cover storyJeff Mills’ whistleblower suit revealed rotting food, fraud, and millions of dollars lost. Why is DCPS renewing its contract with Chartwells?


  • Despite a scare at the Navy Yard this morning, authorities found no evidence of an active shooter . [NBC4]
  • In D.C.’s booming dining scene, restaurants such as Rasika renovate to stay relevant. [Young & Hungry]
  • The D.C. Jail is falling apart. What will replace it? [City Desk]
  • Bowser celebrates the minimum wage increase. [Post]


Gear Prudence: Help! My boyfriend has bike rage.

Delay of Game: Here's are the biggest obstacles to the local NFL team moving back to the District.

Just Sit Right There: Listen to Nadastrom’s new mixtape, and homage to an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Read more District Line Daily: Hunger Games

Correction Required: The D.C. Jail is Falling Apart. What Should Replace It?

DC Jail

Damaged. Moldy. Crumbling. Infested with vermin. Smelling of sewage. Completely unconcerned with inmate safety.

Lawyers, health inspectors, and criminal justice consultants used these phrases and more to capture the current condition of the 40-year-old D.C. Jail in a recent investigative report.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee released the scathing report, which ultimately called for the closure of the District’s two major correctional facilities—the D.C Jail and the privately-run Correctional Treatment Facility, both located on Reservation 13 near the D.C General family homeless shelter. (The D.C. Jail holds only adult men, while the CTF houses men, women, and youth.) This recommendation comes on the heels of the D.C. Council approving a “sorely-needed” study of the D.C. Jail in the fiscal year 2016 budget.

While building a new jail has been on the table for years, these announcements—paired with the approaching CTF contract renewal—shine a new light on serious issues that have been bubbling under the surface. The city may finally be ready to address them. If it does, the process could potentially redefine the way the District handles incarceration.

Read more Correction Required: The D.C. Jail is Falling Apart. What Should Replace It?

Gear Prudence: Help! My Boyfriend Has Bike Rage.


Gear Prudence: Whenever my boyfriend and I ride together, it doesn’t go well because of his crazy road rage. He’s constantly giving drivers the finger and cursing at them, and I’ve seen him get into more than one screaming match when someone has cut him off. When I asked him about his (over-?)reactions, he said, “That’s just the way it is between bikes and cars,” and that bicyclists need to stick up for themselves if they ever want respect on the road. He has a point, but it’s just so embarrassing to ride with such a hothead who makes such a big scene over every slight. He’s totally normal and non-ragey off the bike, so is there any way I can get him to mellow out so riding with him isn’t so awful? —Ride Angry, Girlfriend Embarrassed

Dear RAGE: This sounds familiar. Is your boyfriend Dr. Bruce Banner? When he rages at drivers, does he turn all muscular and green and occasionally cavort with a squad of other superheroes in an endless series of tortuous comic book blockbusters? Are there piles of shredded bike jerseys and ripped Lycra shorts strewn about his apartment? This could be a problem.

It’s good that he’s normal and non-ragey when he’s not riding his bike, meaning his condition is limited to transportation interactions. However, to avoid the mortification of being seen with him when he flips out, you might just need to stop riding with him altogether. Tell him that if he doesn’t get himself under control, you’d be happy to let him ride solo. This hopefully shouldn’t HULKSMASH your relationship, but it’s better to say something then to be forever forced to ride alongside a rageaholic.

GP notices a lot of rage riding out there and wishes it weren’t so prevalent. It’s not so much that these reactions are surprising—the power disparity between someone driving and someone on a bicycle creates a situation where fear is channeled into anger—but that they’re mostly ineffective. Screaming your head off at someone is unlikely to ameliorate anything and has the potential to escalate a bad situation into one much worse. If you’re in immediate danger, do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. But if trouble has passed, really consider whether it’s truly necessary to aggressively drop a few f-bombs about someone’s lack of turn signal a few blocks back.

It’s hard to expect comity on the roads to arrive from yet more confrontation. If bicyclists earned respect on the road through swears and flipping people off, they’d have well received it by now. Bicyclists don’t need to earn anything: They’re rightful road users just like anyone else. But just like everyone else, bicyclists can try to play a part in making the roads (marginally) less hostile. —GP

Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email

Blogger Sues to Get Her Muhammad Cartoon Ads on Metro

Self-proclaimed "anti-jihad" blogger Pamela Geller is taking Metro to court again. This time, she wants to force the transit agency to put drawings of Muhammad on the side of Metrobuses.

Geller's 2012 lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ended in victory for Geller. Since then, WMATA mostly accepted Geller's ads. But after an attack on her American Freedom Defense Initiative group's Muhammad drawing event in Texas, WMATA refused Geller's request to place an ad with the Muslim prophet on 20 buses and in 5 stations. Instead, WMATA pre-empted Geller by refusing all "issue-oriented advertising," a prohibition Geller says via email amounts to "capitulation to sharia law."

"It's an end run around the first amendment," Geller writes.

Now Geller and her organization are suing WMATA again on First Amendment grounds to get their ads into the system. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel declined to comment.

Read more Blogger Sues to Get Her Muhammad Cartoon Ads on Metro

District Line Daily: No Pepco Alternative

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

The D.C. Council voted to pull $250,000 the city was going to use to study the creation of a city-owned power company. Councilmember Mary Cheh criticized the move, saying, "This is plainly a Pepco amendment, lobbied by Pepco representatives."


  • D.C.'s in for another summer of fewer shows and smaller acts at Fort Dupont and Carter Barron. [Arts Desk]
  • Audit: School modernization agencies broke rules, didn't keep track of money. [Loose Lips]
  • Hill East has a new coffee hub. [Young & Hungry]
  • The Nationals are getting a new racing president: Calvin Coolidge. [Post]


Seniority Rule: Phil Mendelson fends off a freshmen revolt over tax cuts.

Unexcused Absences: D.C. Council questions progress on truancy reforms—featuring a cameo from "Bacrock Obama."

And In Health: Newly diagnosed cases of HIV in D.C. declined by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013.
Read more District Line Daily: No Pepco Alternative

Number of New HIV Diagnoses Continues to Drop in D.C.

Screen shot 2015-06-30 at 3.03.20 PM

Newly diagnosed cases of HIV declined by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to a new report, while no babies were born with the virus during the latter year.

It's the sixth year in a row HIV rates have decreased in D.C., a significant accomplishment for a city still facing an epidemic. More than 16,000 D.C. residents—or 2.5 percent of the population—were living with HIV as of 2013, according a D.C. Department of Health report released this morning.

"D.C. continues to make progress in the fight against HIV, and we have good news to share with you today," Mayor Muriel Bowser said today at Whitman-Walker Health's Eastern Market location.

Read more Number of New HIV Diagnoses Continues to Drop in D.C.

D.C. Council Questions Progress on Truancy Reforms


Jason Crocker was the first to testify at Monday afternoon’s joint roundtable on truancy reform initiatives.

“Mr. Grosso, you’ve said before that these meetings can be boring. So I won’t be boring,” Crocker said before launching into a two-minute impersonation of President Obama.

He called that alter ego “Bacrock Obama,” and the embarrassment—which stunned viewers in the packed hearing room into total silence—was an apt symbol for the three-hour-long meeting.

At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, who chairs the Council’s education committee, was frustrated with the lack of up-to-date analysis of existing truancy reform initiatives.

“How do we look at this and evaluate how all of these different programs are working, and how do we refine it if it’s not? Who do we give the money to and why?” Grosso asked. “I’m more and more convinced we can’t legislate our way to better attendance.”

Read more D.C. Council Questions Progress on Truancy Reforms

District Line Daily: Metro Proposes Service Cuts

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

Metro is proposing to cut rush hour service on four lines in order to add capacity on the Blue Line. Headways on the Orange, Silver, Green, and Yellow lines would increase to eight minutes.


  • Map: At least 255 pedestrians and cyclists have been struck in D.C. this year. [City Desk]
  • Man sues D.C. for $30 million for wrongful murder conviction. [Post]
  • Bowser expands the youth summer jobs program. [City Desk]
  • D.C. Council will consider income tax cuts opposed by mayor. [ABC7]


R.I.P.: Former D.C. Taxi Commission Chairman Ron Linton died at age 86.

High-Volume Restaurant: This new restaurant and bar in Adams Morgan aims to be for music lovers what a sports bar is for sports lovers.

Up in Vapor: Will a tax force vape shops out of business?
Read more District Line Daily: Metro Proposes Service Cuts

Bowser Kicks Off Expanded Summer Jobs Program


Marion Barry would probably have been thrilled to hear how one D.C. resident has been helped by the summer jobs program he established.

Sheronda Adams has participated in Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, renamed this year in honor of the late mayor, since she was 14. Now a graduate student at Trinity College, she will work this summer right outside Muriel Bowser’s office with the mayor’s chief of staff.

Adams became eligible for the program this year after Bowser expanded the age range for SYEP participants to 24. The program is designed to help young people who are struggling to find full-time work, like Adams, as well as those who have never worked in an office environment.

“Just from personal experience, coming out of college after a long semester, things can be kind of stressful,” Adams said.

Adams is one of about 1,000 22- to 24-year-olds among this year’s 15,000 total SYEP participants. Bowser touted the expansion at a Monday morning roundtable to kick off this summer’s program.

“We got in our minds that being a young person ends at the age of 21, and in a lot of cases we should and must expect a lot of 21-year-olds. You’re adults,” Bowser said. “What I’ve also learned is that they want to work,” she added. They’re “not lazy, not uncreative... but really in need of some direction and a chance.”

The program pays participants between $5.25 and $9.25 an hour, depending on age, while D.C.’s minimum wage will increase to $10.50 an hour this July. The summer salary will not affect older participants’ benefits, like TANF, plus SYEP will help set up those in need with childcare.

This summer’s program will ultimately serve as a pilot for a permanent expansion to include participants between the ages of 22 and 24. The D.C. Council declined to provide funding for the expansion beyond this summer.

“We have a lot of folks that are interested, which tells us that the demand is there and that young people are looking to work,” said Gerren Price, deputy director of Youth Operations for the Department of Employment Services. The agency posted the hiring announcement on social media and through community listservs on April 6; by the end of the workday, there were already 1,000 applicants.

“What I often see is that less so than folks using it as a crutch, but more so as folks using it as a support system,” Price said. He said his team will individually interview all 1,000 participants to grasp how the program is working and how they can improve it after its first year. Councilmember Vincent Orange, who heads the Council's Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs, wants the program to help at least 35 percent of this summer's older participants find a full-time job.

Robert Holm, director of the IT Academy at McKinley Technology Education Campus, says it can be difficult to convince parents to allow their kids to work for low pay. While working with SYEP through On-Ramps to Careers, a STEM-focused program that partners kids with private sector jobs, Holm recalls when one participant had to give up the opportunity to work at Microsoft to babysit at home. Still, for those who participate, he sees the program as successful.

“If you’re at 22 or 23 and you haven’t had a job, yes, you’re harder to employ and you might’ve developed some bad habits, but this is a good spot to fix it.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Struck in D.C.: An Interview With No. 249 (Map)

At least 255 pedestrians and cyclists have been struck, primarily by motorists, in D.C. so far this year. Fifty-two of the year’s total incidents took place this month, with cyclists comprising about a quarter of those hit.

Bannon Puckett, who has been biking in D.C. for two years, is one of those 52.

Read more Struck in D.C.: An Interview With No. 249 (Map)