City Desk

District Line Daily: The Last Pitcher Show

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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Dewey Beach might be ready to ditch its misfit reputation. But what happens when a party town tries to grow up? Our latest cover story explores.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Police Chief Cathy Lanier said a judge's decision to overturn D.C.'s ban on carrying handguns in public will not have an effect on street violence, but rather on the security of dignitaries and high-profile events. [Post]
  • In a deleted memoir chapter that WCP obtained, Marion Barry describes his infamous Denver incident as a "fallout over intimacy." [Loose Lips]
  • Why was Marion Barry's council staff working on his memoir on government time? [Loose Lips]
  • The District's unemployment rate jumped from 6.7 percent in May to 7.6 percent in June. [Washington Business Journal]
  • Who's really behind the Washington football team's new "fact" campaign? [Slate]

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

Read more District Line Daily: The Last Pitcher Show

The Needle: Fact or Fiction?

Crisis Still Not Averted: It seems the Washington football team has a new plan to save its name: a website that lists "facts" explaining why the team name actually honors Native Americans. While the site is ostensibly the project of several former Pigskins players, don't take anything you read on it too seriously. Slate wrote today that Burson-Marsteller, a communications firm best known for its crisis management services, is likely behind the campaign. -6

Cold Soup: Sounds blah, right? Apparently at Daikaya, "the cold ramen trumps the hot stuff on a warm summer day." +2

Read more The Needle: Fact or Fiction?

WMATA Sued Over Strict Criminal Background Check Policy

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's criminal background screening policies for employees unfairly discriminate against black workers, a class action suit filed today alleges.

The suit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and law firm Arnold & Porter, alleges that Metro and three of its contractors discriminated against job applicants and employees through an "overly broad and unnecessarily punitive" screening.

The policy, according to complaint, "goes far beyond any legitimate public safety concerns, to permanently stigmatize and bar from employment well-qualified individuals, a disproportionate number of whom are African-Americans."

The screening policy in question was implemented by WMATA in 2009. Before then, Metro disqualified applicants from jobs with direct contact with the public (station managers, for instance) if they had two felony convictions within three years or three felony convictions within 10 years. Misdemeanors were weighed on an individual basis, with weight given to how much time had passed since the conviction.

In August 2009, WMATA expanded the policy significantly: Now job candidates could be disqualified for, among other infractions, two misdemeanor convictions for drug possession in the past five years, or a conviction for a "crime of violence" regardless of when it took place. WMATA further broadened the policy in December 2011. The 2009 policy now applied to certain existing employees, including those applying for new positions or those who had been on non-work status, including medical leave, for 90 days or longer.

The 2011 policy also expanded to include employees in any position, whether it involved contact with the public or not (mechanics or janitors, for instance), and to employees with a felony conviction for drug dealing, regardless of when it took place. Under the new policy, current employees could be fired for criminal offenses even if they disclosed their history during their original screening and had had no new convictions.

Read more WMATA Sued Over Strict Criminal Background Check Policy

Pigskins Shame Spiral: Hillary Clinton

Pigskins Shame Spiral: FingerwagThe Pigskins Shame Spiral is an occasional feature tracking developments related to the name of D.C.'s beloved football team.

Who: Hillary Clinton, 2016 presidential candidate?

Read more Pigskins Shame Spiral: Hillary Clinton

Gear Prudence: Help, I’ve Been Shoaled!

gearprudence

Gear Prudence: Southbound on the 15th Street bike lane during the morning rush hour, there is usually a line of riders waiting at any given stoplight. And almost every day I see somebody who passes all of those who have stopped at the red light and cuts to the front of the line. I realize that this doesn’t slow me down at all, but doesn’t it seem rude, and give some weight to the stereotype that many bikers out there don’t really have a regard for the rules of the road? Is it crazy that this annoys me so much? —Sitting Here On A Light Every Day

Dear SHOALED: Nothing vexes bike commuters more than situations like this. For once, you’ve actually stopped at a red light, and then someone pulls in front of you like you’re not even there. But you were there! And presumably not invisible!

As you’re doubtlessly aware, the best way to handle the rudeness of others in public situations is through passive aggression. But maybe you like your passive aggression on the more aggressive side. Every time you reach a stop light, hop off your bike and practice capoeira, the Brazilian, breakdance-like martial art. Flail about wildly and ginga until the light turns green. A few leaping kicks will get your point across with ample verve. This will most assuredly dissuade your fellow bike commuters from attempting to pass.

Read more Gear Prudence: Help, I’ve Been Shoaled!

Capitol Hill’s Most Beautiful People Celebrate Beauty, Beautifully

Jason Spear poses for a photo with another beautiful person.

Jason Spear poses for a photo with fellow beautiful person Wilsar Johnson.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton's legislative associate Jason Spear arrived at work Tuesday as usual. And then around 9:30 a.m., Norton called him into her office to congratulate him on being named one of The Hill's "50 Most Beautiful People"—an honor that's purportedly based solely on style and physical appearance, and which is moderately noteworthy in select Washington spheres.

"She said, 'Oh, you didn't tell me you were beautiful, we're going to have to use this beautiful. Don't get too important," Spears, in a Perry Ellis suit, recalled of the morning meeting with his boss at last night's "50 Most Beautiful People" party at Poste Modern Brasserie.

"It's been a busy day," Spear said, apologizing for not seeing City Desk's email request for an interview Tuesday morning. "It's been a lot of tweets and texts."

But does Spear consider himself one of Capitol Hill's most beautiful people?

"I consider myself basic," he said.

Others were less sheepish about their recognition.

"I feel the work I put into the way I dress deserves to be recognized," said Devron Brown, a staffer in Sen. Harry Reid's office who says the Senate majority leader is "aware" of his style.

This was The Hill's 11th annual "Most Beautiful" list, but it was the first time the paper has hosted a party—complete with well-dressed Hill staffers and free beer, courtesy of America's Beer Distributors, a lobbying group—to celebrate one of its flagship (and most-read) features. Read more Capitol Hill’s Most Beautiful People Celebrate Beauty, Beautifully

District Line Daily: FBI Goes Suburban

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.

The FBI is ditching D.C. for new headquarters in either the Maryland or Virginia suburbs, according to the General Service Administration's newly released shortlist of possible locations for the bureau's new home.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • A judge said D.C.'s ban on carrying a handgun in public can remain intact for 90 more days. [City Desk]
  • Councilmember Tommy Wells created a sign for D.C. business owners who want to keep guns off their properties. [Post]
  • D.C. police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that left one man injured Wednesday morning at Minnesota Avenue and Burns Street SE.
  • Now that the first phase of the Silver Line is open for business attention turns to phase two of the massive transportation project. [WAMU]
  • The Corcoran had a testy first start in court filled with drama and accusations of cronyism. [Arts Desk]

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

Read more District Line Daily: FBI Goes Suburban

The Needle: Boot It

Boot and Rally: There are so many people stealing Dacha beer garden's beer boots that nearby Ivy & Coney is recovering the large beer boot-shaped glasses at its own bar on a weekly basis. This is why we can't have nice things! -3

Guns Down: A federal judge issued D.C. a 90-stay before a ruling overturning the city's ban on handguns in public spaces goes into effect. Police Chief Cathy Lanier subsequently posted on the MPD listserv that D.C. cops would once again be enforcing the city's ban on carrying handguns in public spaces. Everyone can now breathe a 90-day sigh of relief. +5

Read more The Needle: Boot It

Zoning Commission Delays Voting on Contentious McMillan Park Plans

The decades-long drama over the redevelopment of McMillan Sand Filtration Center did not get any closer to reaching a conclusion Monday night. The D.C. Zoning Commission was slated to make a zoning decision on the 25-acre site, but instead opted to delay its vote until its Sept. 29. meeting so it could learn more about the proposed plans.

In front of a packed audience—by zoning commission meeting standards, anyway—Commission Chair Anthony Hood said, "This is too important...Our goal is to do this as right as possible."

The city purchased the McMillan site along North Capitol Street more than 25 years ago with the intention of developing it into a mixed-use community. But the languishing site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has remained empty and blocked off from the public. 

The D.C. government selected Vision McMillan Partners to develop the site years ago, but last night the five members on the zoning commission weren't completely won over by the proposal and asked developers to tighten up their plans. Their plans call for 30,000 square-feet of "neighborhood-serving" retail, 531 apartment units, 146 town houses, a 17,000 square-foot community center with a pool, a 50,000 square foot grocery store, and more than 10 acres of park space. Most disconcerting to the Zoning Commission, the proposal also calls for a 130-foot-tall, or a 10-story, medical office building. (In all, VMP says 41 percent of the McMillan site will be parks and open space.)

The plans have divided the community, with two factions forming: Save McMillan Park and Create McMillan Park. Save McMillan wants the shuttered site to be transformed into a "great metropolitan park" while Create McMillan wants to develop the land. Each party had representatives present at Monday's meeting wearing pins and other paraphernalia in support of their causes.

Hood said the Zoning Commission can only review what's given to it, adding that no one has proposed to the body using McMillan Park as a completely green space. VMP's proposal is what the commission was presented with, so that's the plan it will vote on.

The Commission requested that Vision McMillan Partners resubmit plans with more specific ways it would implement traffic-mitigating techniques in the area surrounding the property. It also wanted to see what the plans would look like if the medical office building was scaled back. "I'm a little uncomfortable that one part of the medical building is 130 feet," Commissioner Peter May said. "I would be more comfortable with 110 feet."

Under the plan, VMP will pay various community groups  for the inconveniences of the construction. The commission is seeking more concrete details on how VMP will divvy up these funds and how the money will be distributed.  Representatives from VMP said it could address all of these concerns in time for the commission's September meeting.

"It will take us some time," Hood said of the ongoing process.

Photo by David Monack (Wikimedia Commons)

Judge Lets D.C.’s Handgun Ban Remain for 90 Days

Put those guns away for now, D.C.

The city's gun laws will remain the same for at least another 90 days, until Oct. 22, a federal judge ruled today.

That federal judge, Frederick Scullin, ruled over the weekend that the District's total ban on carrying a handgun in public was unconstitutional, prompting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier to order her officers not to arrest people carrying a gun in a public spaces. (Some exceptions did apply.) The District's Office of the Attorney General filed a motion Monday afternoon requesting a stay of the ruling until the city's appeal is heard, or for at least 180 days so D.C. can "obtain public input and enact a compliant licensing mechanism."

The plaintiffs in the case didn't oppose an immediate 90-day stay, and that's exactly what Scullin granted the city. So for now, people still can't legally carry a handgun—even if it's legally registered—in the District's public spaces.

Based on the parties' agreement that an immediate 90-day stay is appropriate to provide the city council with an opportunity to enact appropriate legislation consistent with the Court's
ruling, the Court hereby
ORDERS that Defendants' motion for a stay is GRANTED to the extent that the Court's July 24, 2014 Order is stayed nunc pro tunc for 90 days, i.e., until October 22, 2014

The D.C. Council is on summer recess until Sept. 15. According to the motion for the stay that D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan filed, the Council will work to craft legislation that aligns with the court ruling and is in the public's interest when it reconvenes.

Read the order granting the stay here: Read more Judge Lets D.C.’s Handgun Ban Remain for 90 Days

FBI Headquarters Will Not Stay in D.C.

It's official: D.C., for better or worse, won't be able to keep the FBI headquarters within city limits. The agency has long been trying to leave its outdated, Brutalist digs on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and has been looking at new headquarter sites in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.

Today, the U.S. General Service Administration announced its short list of possibile locations for the FBI's new headquarters, and it looks like the G-Men are heading to the 'burbs. Per the GSA, the shortlisted sites are:

  • Greenbelt - A portion of the site known as the Greenbelt Metro Station located near the intersection of Interstates 95/495 and Exit 24 (Greenbelt Station) in Prince George's County, Maryland.
  • Landover – The site known as the former Landover Mall located near the intersection of Interstates 95/495 and MD 202 in Prince George's County, Maryland.
  • Springfield – The site known as the GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex located near the intersection of Interstate 95 and Franconia Road in Fairfax County, Virginia.

As my colleague Aaron Wiener previously reported, even D.C. officials conceded that the city was "effectively ineligible" to retain the FBI headquarters based on what GSA said it was seeking: Approximately 50 acres of space and the ability to meet top government security requirements. Still, D.C. proposed Ward 8's Polar Point on the banks of the Anacostia River as a contender.

The FBI has been in its current J. Edgar Hoover Building since 1975. Once it vacates, the city will have the opportunity to redevelop the property.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

General Manager of WJLA Out as Sale of Station Is Nearly Finalized

The general manager of WJLA—the local ABC affiliate–wrote in an e-mail to his staff Monday that he just learned his last day heading the station would be Sept. 30. Bill Lord's departure comes after the Federal Communications Commission approved Sinclair Broadcast Group's $985 million purchase of TV stations owned by Allbritton Communications, including WJLA and NewsChannel8. That sale is expected to  be finalized Aug. 1.

In his staff email, which FTVLive obtained, Lord said that Sinclair would be posting the GM position for new applicants this morning.

I have just received word that September 30thwill be my last day at WJLA.   Sinclair will be posting the GM position in the morning so I wanted to tell all of you first.   I will be here over the next two months to operate the station until a replacement is found.

I’ll try to keep this simple.   These past twelve years have been far and away the best of my professional life and it’s all because of my association with you.   It has been an awesome privilege to come to work with you every day.   I know I’m supposed to be the boss but as I look out over the station I see hundreds of mentors always helping me arrive at the right decision.  For that and everything else you have done to fill up my life I thank you.

The Allbritton family, which also owns Politico, has owned the station for nearly 40 years.

Photo by Mr. T in DC via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

 

District Line Daily: Hold Up on Gun Ruling?

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.

A federal judge ruled this weekend that D.C.'s ban on carrying handguns in public is unconstitutional, prompting the Metropolitan Police Department to announce Sunday that it would no longer be enforcing the ban. On Monday, the District government filed a motion requesting that a federal court delay overturning this gun law in the District until the city's appeal is heard. The judge has not yet ruled on this motion.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Mayor Vince Gray plans to sign a bill today that would ban the use of Styrofoam in the city. [News4]
  • D.C. has officially dropped its proposal for a 24-hour waiting period for anyone who wants to get a tattoo or piercing in the District. [WAMU]
  • The Silver Line is off to a strong start. [City Desk]
  • But there are still some kinks to be worked out with the Blue Line. [Post]

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

Read more District Line Daily: Hold Up on Gun Ruling?

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

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