City Desk

Loose Lips Daily: Barras Rounds It Up

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—Famous Channel 4 sportscaster George Michael dies at 70. Also, more on the snowball fight, as City Desk reports on an effort by D.C. police to make "conversation" on this troubling incident melt away like the snow that made it possible in the first place.

Morning all. Hope all you LLDers had a good holiday weekend. And if you're not checking out this week, have faith: LLD is on the case, though under a different by-line (see above).

LLD, even under a guest columnist, can never resist the opportunity to self-indulge, and this time it has plenty of pretext. In the Dec. 27 edition of themail, Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff do a lot of grousing about local news coverage, with an emphasis on the alleged downgrading of the Washington Post's coverage of all things D.C. And in Imhoff's little riff on the matter, he tips his hat a bit to the toils of LLD:

Online news coverage has taken some halting steps. For the past several months The Washington City Paper’s Loose Lips, Mike DeBonis, has written an opinionated news aggregation column every weekday: Loose Lips Daily, at It’s useful — and could use competition.

So, Mr. Imhoff, with that whole "could use competition" thing, just what are you getting at? That LLD could possibly be any better than it now is? That you have enough time to read yet another 4,000-word news roundup each and every weekday?

After the jump: More Imhoff-Brizill; Barras on the end of the year; Mathews slams Gray and Cheh; more!

Well, we at LLD love competition. And that's where you come in, Mr. Imhoff. How 'bout providing that competition yourself!

As for superactivist Brizill, here's what she has to say about local news:

There was a time when the Washington Post hit the floor of our front porch early in the morning and I would arouse myself, stumble downstairs, and read the newspaper cover to cover before Gary even woke up. Now, there are many times when the paper stays around the house for days, unopened and unread, and finally opened only to retrieve the grocery ads. Too often, worthy news is edged out by fluff. For three successive days, beginning December 21, the front page of the Style section was dominated by long stories and large photographs of Michaele and Tariq Saladi, the White House gate crashers. On December 11, the front page of the first section had a long story and big photo about a vice president of the Washington Nationals, Gregory McCarthy, who was training to run the Antarctic Marathon to complete his quest to run a marathon on each continent, worth being a human interest story inside the Sports section.

A reply to Brizill on behalf of LLD:

1) It's Michaele and Tareq Salahi, not whatever butchered spelling you offered. If you want to criticize media outlets, best to get your facts straight first.

2) The Salahi story wasn't fluff; it was a huge news scoop, as evidenced by the thousands of outlets that picked it up.

3) The McCarthy story was a fine feature. If you don't think that good features are worth paying for, then move just about anywhere else in the country, save L.A., New York, and Chicago. Pick up the paper that's sold in your new hometown. All of a sudden, you'll appreciate that McCarthy feature.

4) Brizill asks this question in her rant against the Post: “What has happened to the high quality of investigative reporting the newspaper had been known for?”

Hmmm, did she miss this series on the fate of D.C. AIDS programs east of the river? Perhaps those stories ran when the paper sat around Brizill's house "unopened and unread."

Tis the season for roundups, and LLD today will feature that of Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras. In this particular iteration, Barras takes the stream-of-consciousness approach to wrapping up the year. She just goes off, like so:

Sarah Palin may have gone rogue. District elected officials went insane. Their madness consumed the government and vexed residents, causing many to fret about the city's future.

Huh? Let's try some more:

Ward 3 D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh accused Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration of being lawless. The legislature wasn't exactly law-abiding. It's surprising no one called back former Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey to throw a dragnet around the John A. Wilson Building and hogtie its occupants. No one was innocent.

Officials violated the intent and spirit of local laws. The mayor circumvented procurement and privatization regulations. Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry abused loopholes in contracting rules; Chairman Vincent C. Gray claimed ignorance of campaign finance laws.

When the two branches weren't trashing rules, they were savaging each other. On multiple occasions the council accused Fenty of lying, contract steering, mismanagement, ageism and racism. In a take-one-to-know-one move, the executive asserted that the council's rejection of Department of Parks and Recreation nominee Ximena Hartsock was sexist and racist.

OK, now it's all starting to make sense. But then, Barras goes back to her roots. Remember, she formerly worked as a staffer at the Washington Times. And back in those days, the times used things called "scare quotes" and other copy-editing oddities to show their feelings on certain issues of the day. One of their tics was refusing to use the word "gay," opting instead for "homosexual." Now here's Barras in her roundup: "homosexuals were given the opportunity to marry each other."

Washington Post educolumnist Jay Mathews starts his latest bit of opinionmongering with a marvelous slam on a couple of D.C. councilmembers. Here goes: "Sometimes it is the smartest, most concerned policymakers who do the most harm to schools. My favorite recent example is the Healthy Schools Act, a bill introduced two weeks ago by D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray."

So just what is Mathews' gripe with the councilmembers? Well, they're mandating a huge boost in the number of hours that children spend each week in phys-ed classes. Though that may sound fine on the surface, says Mathews, there's only so much time in a day, and D.C. schools need all the time they can get to make their students competent in reading and writing and math.

WaPo's Paul Schwartzman profiles the declining fortunes of D.C. developers, complete with a lede about a high-flying developer hit hard by the housing and credit crises and who's soon off to Buenos Aires for some reflection. Maverick developer Jim Abdo sums up the status quo:

"Where we might have gone out to the Capital Grille to eat steaks, we now meet in a conference room and drink ice water. The mood is a mood of humility and contriteness and self-reflection. There were a lot of people who were intoxicated by the times and the easy access to capital. A lot of them are gone."

PASSED AWAY Percy Sutton, prominent civil rights lawyer and media entrepreneur.

MIGHT AS WELL INCLUDE A NOTE ON THE WEATHER SINCE THERE'S NOTHING ELSE GOING ON—We're looking at a wet end of the year, with snow or rain or ice likely sometime from Wednesday through New Year's Day.

WaPo edit board issues a plea to lawyers around the region to offer services to parts of the District hardest-hit by unemployment. "Washington has long been known as the pro bono capital of the country, a place where lawyers generously volunteer to help all manner of clients who cannot afford counsel. Area lawyers and law firms are hurting, too, but D.C. area firms and lawyers — among the wealthiest in the country — need to dig deeper to fulfill their professional obligation to provide legal help to those who cannot afford it."

ABSOLUTELY—nothing going at at D.C. Wire.

AP, via Examiner, reports on D.C. effort to crack down on buyer of tax liens. Also AP via Examiner, D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson is pushing a bill to change PCP possession from a misdemeanor to a felony.

AP, via WTOP, reports that free health clinic may hit D.C. in 2010. Story first appeared in WaPo.

WAMU's Rebecca Blatt reports on the beginning of an overhaul of Pennsylvania Avenue under the aegis of the Great Streets Project. Here's the money graphs:

The project is supposed to make Pennsylvania Avenue more accessible to pedestrians. One of the lanes will become a landscaped median.

Drivers should expect some temporary lane closures between 9:30 am and 3:00 pm in the first five months of construction. The second phase of the project will include some more long-term lane closures. That is expected to begin in May.

NC8 reports that a pedestrian was killed near 16th Street and Park Road NW early today. "Few details were immediately available." WUSA.

NBC4 reports on an incident in which D.C. police shot and killed a knife-wielding suspect. WUSA.

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  • Elissa

    What's up with the non-aggragated, 2,000 word weekly Loose Lips? Last one I see is Dec. 9.

  • Ward One Resident

    I gotta tell you...Gary and Dorothy are getting be crotchety (more so than before)...I invision them yelling at the neighborhood kids to keep off their lawn...

  • cminus

    I invision them yelling at the neighborhood kids to keep off their lawn.

    And by "neighborhood kids" they mean "anyone under 50", and by "their lawn" they mean "the District of Columbia".

  • downtown rez

    Imhoff and Brizill are great examples of how low the bar used to be when it came to local reporting.
    And if they don't want the kids on their lawn, they should do something so it's not an (un)attractive nuisance.

  • Skipper

    Basically, it seems like Inhoff's complaint boils down to "How come all these other neighborhood bloggers are more interested in their neighborhoods, rather than focusing on how evil, bad, horrible, no-good, rotten Adrian Fenty is?"

    I still read each edition of The Mail, but it's often not more than griping about how bad Fenty is, how bad Nickels is, how bad Rhee is, how bad gay marriage is, and a few random reminiscings from Gary about old TV and radio shows.

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  • Fred

    Ok, now who's grousing? Look, just take themail for what it is and no more and no less, and you'll spare yourself unpleasant thoughts thinking about two people you apparently don't like.

    Themail is a very valuable tool to round out coverage of the city.

    Plus, it's also valuable because of the historical memory they have, when most other news sources and blogs etc are written by very transient people.

    Yeah, they can be irritating. But, so what? Deal with it. Get beyond it. I see the value in what they produce. The time they've put in, so easy to mock by commenters on CP pages, is impressive and needed. You can learn a bit if you try.

  • proballdc

    Jonetta Rose Barras is another of those "yesterday" reporters bound for journalistic retirement. She is a fixture of yesterday's thinking incapable of embracing an evolving American thinking. She is the type that keeps the African American community in the clenches of internal intolerance.

  • Another Longtime “Transient”

    Congratulations to Fred, winner of The Mail Reader of the Year Award, for exhibiting all the requisite attitudes:

    1. Dismissive attitude towards "new" residents investing personal time engaging in city affairs.
    2. Overvaluation of extant retrograde activists.
    3. Talking to fellow residents like a parent to a child.

    The "value in what they produce" is what again please? Let's see, any regulatory or legislative notches under the belt in the last 5 or even 10 years? Care to name those for us, Fred?

    The Mail delivers hot air, outdated finger wagging, meanwhile the "transient" people you mentioned have actually gotten things changed and done in a variety of ways around the city. And they've done it more quickly, obviously, than the Self-Appointed Heroes (aka Horders) of Columbia Heights.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Gary and Dorothy are self-aggrandizing twits. Gary prides himself as a masterful debator (I personally take out ful and de and merge the words to describe him); yet his tirades are often one-sided self-righteous bullshit. And Dorothy wants to be an in your face reporter of the people, yet her arrogrance is so bloody apparent. Their spin on the Gay Marriage issue proved to me what a bunch of twits they really are. I enjoyed what they attempted to do with the Sousa mini-scandal, but what's happening now. They can't compete with my peeps at LLD.

  • Longtime Transient

    Yes the Hoarders of Columbia Heights really jumped the shark over gay marriage, and let's not forget it was CP that beautifully covered Imhoff and Brizill's "do as we say, not as we do" dilemma with their house. Demolition by neglect, blight on their neighbors, and violating many city codes. But they hinted it all was political persecution, instead of an agency waking up and taking appropriate action, which Imhoff and Brizill have whined for years should be happening anyways. They want the city to do its job but not in their direction.

  • downtown rez

    LOL LT, that's spot on.
    They preach swift and blind justice, but in reality they want justice to swiftly turn a blind eye to their mess, and they play the persecuted press card to ensure that.
    They've been running that little con for years.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    The Post has a lot of nerve to ask lawyers to work for free while the Post raises its rates every six months or so. I'll do more free work after the Post drops its charge for a paper to 25 cents. I might even buy the paper - it's just not worth > 35 cents.

  • IMGoph

    interesting that imhoff skipped mentioning GGW at all as a news source. the actions of those affiliated with GGW have done more to make the city a better place in the last year than gary or dorothy have. he's just bitter that a new generation has come in and made him close to irrelevant. it'll happen to the younger set as well, of course, but for him to not acknowledge that that's how things work makes him look petty.