City Desk

A Real Snow Emergency: Loose Lips Daily

As much local politics as humanly possible. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'Could Be Tuesday Before City Fully Recovers, Says Fenty'; 'Whiteout Conditions Sideline Plows, Pepco Crews'; 'Another D.C. Police Snowball Incident?'; 'Fenty Breaks from Storm Planning for ‘Athletic Release’' and more 'Shovel Patrol'—in which LL checks up on VIP sidewalk compliance; and tweets galore!

Greetings all. A late LL Daily today, apologies. LL does not have the day off, though the District government does, as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty & Co. come to the realization that will alone will not triumph over a historically unprecedented series of snowstorms. This morning, Fenty said it may be six days before city life returns to normal, as blowing snow and prime ice-creating conditions threaten to make the dig out a terrific challenge. Talk now has turned to federal assistance; Fenty said this morning that his administration plans to apply for funding assistance, but councilmembers are trying to score political points by calling for a full-blown FEMA-led emergency effort. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer indicated yesterday that Congress stands ready to help, but with money or actual plows?

AFTER THE JUMP—Complete and utterly thorough snow aggregation

BROKEN SNOWPLOWS?—Mark Segraves reported yesterday at WTOP that '[a]s many as 60 of the District's snow plows are not working — bad news for thousands of residents still waiting for their streets to be cleared,' citing 'an internal email' showing that '25 percent of the District's snow plow fleet is down and they're having trouble getting replacement parts.' Harry Jaffe deemed it a Waterloo moment in his Examiner column: 'What happened to Fenty's vaunted snow clearing system? Short answer: aging equipment. After the 18-inch snowfall in December, when Fenty first burnished his image as a commander in chief of the snow, the mayor held a CapStat session where he grilled Department of Public Works Director Bill Howland and Department of Transportation boss Gabe Klein....The problem, Howland said, was the fleet. The useful life of a big plow is eight years, he told Fenty, and 80 percent of the fleet is eight years or older. The Monday after that December storm, 20 percent of the snow removal fleet was in the shop. After last weekend's majestic dump, more of the trucks are out of service. By the next snowstorm, scheduled to pile up more snow this week, nearly half the fleet could be out of commission.' Also Examiner, WUSA-TV. This morning, both DDOT's Gabe Klein and DPW's Bill Howland said the plow problems weren't out of the ordinary for a storm of this magnitude and that they were being returned to service ASAP, with as many as 230 currently on the streets.

WHY ALL THE SNOW?—'Conditions have gelled to create a near-perfect pattern for snow, said Jared Klein, a National Weather Service meteorologist. El Nino, a period of unusual warmth in the tropical Pacific Ocean, has sent a parade of storms across the southern United States. Cold air from the north has locked into place. And warmer than normal water off the Atlantic coast has helped to strengthen low-pressure systems. "The last week or two, there has been a very favorable pattern and all the conditions have come together," Klein said.'

BUDGET BUSTED—From Bill Myers in Examiner: 'A D.C. city hall source said the District was $3 million over its snow-clearing budget even before a single flake had fallen last week.'

FEDS CAPITULATE—From WaPo lede-all: 'The federal government is marking its first three-day weather-related shutdown since January 1996. It is costing $100 million a day in lost productivity, according to the Office of Personnel Management....A sense of urgency prevailed everywhere Tuesday. Hardware and grocery stores ran low on fire logs, flashlights, batteries, lanterns and lamp oil. Long lines formed for replenished supplies of shovels.'

WHERE TO PUT IT ALL—WaPo's Michael Ruane covers where the snow has to go. Much of D.C.'s fluff is going to the grounds of D.C. General Hospital. Good lede: 'A new mountain range is rising near the shores of the Anacostia River — its grimy peaks circled by hungry seagulls, its icy surface scrutinized by crows from nearby trees. It is a man-made range, tended Tuesday by Jabar L. Brown, 29, of the District's Department of Public Works, and his big yellow front-end loader. It is made of snow. Nasty snow. And with Wednesday's forecast, it seems sure to get bigger.' Also WTOP, WAMU-FM, WSJ.

METRO—Still underground only for the near future. On Blue Line train yesterday morning entering Smithsonian station, 'the train suddenly shook, followed by a loud cracking noise and then a boom, passengers said. Rider Mia Tatum said sparks "as big and bright as fireworks started spewing across the right-side window. I gasped, the girl next to me stood up, and we all ran for the door that connected us to the car in front" since the car she was in began filling with smoke,' Ann Scott Tyson reports in WaPo. 'Customers were most upset about the lack of information during the ordeal.' Said one, 'We do live in a world where there are terrorist attacks. I would expect someone to say something to let me know my life is okay.'

AIRPORTS—Nothin' doin'.

THE ECONOMIC ANGLE—-WaPo's Steven Pearlstein says Fenty and Rhee have the right idea in trying to keep the government open: 'It is a measure of the dysfunction of our political system that we can no longer rationally debate whether it is penny-wise and pound-foolish not to spend a little more to try to keep the Capital of the Free World from grinding to a halt every time a snowflake descends from the heavens....We have the know-how, we have the technology and we have the money and economic self-interest to do it right. What we don't seem to have is the leadership or political will....Our snow blindness is a metaphor for the tyranny of diminished expectations that has taken hold in American politics and government. Anyone who tells you this is the way it has to be is either a liar or a coward, or suffers from a stunning lack of imagination. [Fenty] and [Rhee] may have been foolishly optimistic in thinking they could get the District in shape to open for business earlier this week. But their determination to set higher standards for public services is a refreshing change from the elaborately rationalized defeatism of other local officials.'

THE MEDIA ANGLE—Tim Craig notes at D.C. Wire that Fenty's been moving his press snow updates around the city, including to some places as remote as Barry Farm, Kenilworth Terrace, and Bald Eagle Rec Center, as he's urged residents to stay off the roads. LL hasn't been able to make a single one until this morning's Reeves Center presser, FWIW.

THE CAMPAIGN ANGLE—Jeff Smith's exploratory campaign is offering to help Ward 1 folks with snow stuff. Clark Ray's been helping out seniors, posts YouTube. And Ward 5's Delano Hunter is also offering help, via e-mail.

THE ARBOR ANGLE—Trees have gotten the worst of the weather, Adrian Higgins reports in WaPo. 'Many trees that are undamaged but bent are at their load limits and could succumb to the second storm that rolled into the region Tuesday night....Near the White House, Lafayette Square looked like a war zone. An old Southern magnolia next to the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson was shredded, and large boughs had broken from shade trees on the east and west sides of the park in front of the White House. Several of the deciduous magnolias set to bloom at the end of next month were in shards. The old and historic trees around the White House itself looked intact, though large limbs were cut and stacked neatly at the southern perimeter fence, near the Ellipse. Trees bordering the Old Executive Office Building showed lots of splintered limbs, especially three large Southern magnolias on the north side next to Pennsylvania Avenue.'

THE CRIME ANGLE—Snow positive, per Borderstan: '[C]rime was down dramatically in DC for the February 4-7 period when compared to the previous two years.'

THE FIRST RESPONDER ANGLE—AP: 'The D.C. fire department says it has extra equipment and staff on hand and has responded to more than 2,600 calls for service since the snow first began on Friday. Officials say as temperatures drop and heavy winds come on Wednesday, they are concerned about people being outside.' Michael Neibauer adds in Examiner, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department pressed 175 additional staff into duty, combining shifts, and called in National Guard troops.' Adds WaPo: 'Response times for ambulances in the District have been slowed because of whiteout conditions, and dialysis patients in need of treatment have made up the bulk of emergency calls.'

THE GAY MARRIAGE ANGLE—The snow has shut down Congress, delaying gay marriage review, notes Jonathan Capehart of WaPo ed board.

MAKING A BUCK—WaPo on snow entrepreneurism. 'At Union Station, where some drivers were reluctant to take passengers into unplowed neighborhoods, rogue operators sat in big SUVs or stood on the median, quietly offering their services.' WBJ looks at how the city's working with contractors to clear public spaces. '[I]n addition to using its own workers, [DDOT] had hired about 65 private contractors to help clear the mess left by Friday’s storm. It plans to hire about the same number of contractors to help dig out after Tuesday’s storm. DDOT is hiring from a pool of contractors it has used in the past but is also soliciting help from private companies or residents with plows.'

NOTA BENE—One more time with feeling, 'Fire officials are warning homeowners not to climb on rooftops to clear the snow that began accumulating last weekend,' Paul Schwartzman writes in WaPo. '"We think that would be a design for disaster," D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin told reporters. [Fenty] urged residents to "stay with relatives" if they are worried their roofs are in danger of collapsing.' And clear your hydrants!

SNOWBALL FIGHTS—Dupont Circle at 2 p.m. And Georgetown vs GWU showdown at 6 p.m. at Rose Park. LL apparently chose the location.

WHO HAS TO SHOVEL?—DCmud looks at who's responsible for clearing various public spaces: 'Just as massive developments like the St. Elizabeths Campus require developers to go before the Historic Preservation Review Board, the National Capital Planning Commission, the National Park Service (NPS) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), among other authorities, the recent snowstorm brought to the forefront the web of agencies responsible for District public space and sidewalks.'

CITIZEN REAX—Check out this WaPo comment thread, where residents are weighing in on D.C. snow response. One good point: 'Mayor Fenty: Don't PRETEND to open the DC Government offices. Either do it or don't. You said the DC government was open today. I kept calling the DCRA main switchboard and nobody answered; I kept calling the Office of Tax and Revenue, but nobody answered. But you said the government was open, so I trekked all the way to 941 North Capitol Street only to get past security and find locked doors and shrugs from ineffectual disaffected DC Employees. You are doing nobody (including yourself) any favors by claiming the government is open when, in fact, nobody shows up for work and citizens mistakenly believe you at your word!'

CITIZEN REAX II—Another take: 'I think DC gets a bad rap. The prevailing perception is that DC Government is bad and inefficient and Virginia is pole opposite. I live in Virginia and I work in DC. I had to go to work yesterday and I can tell you, Virginia highways (e.g. 395) and Roads were in terrible shape. I could hardly drive on I-395 late morning. On the other hand, DC roads were much much much better condition. For Example, after coming over 14th bridge, the high was SPOTLESS. New York Ave was clean. And the roads to my office were fairly paved. I think DC did a Wonderful job. Congratulations to mayor Fenty and company for the job well done.'

CITIZEN REAX III—From a WaPo letter: 'Another snowstorm, another poorly coordinated snow-removal effort by the city. We live on upper 16th Street. On Sunday and Monday, we watched wave after wave of plows scrape 16th Street, which was already clear to the pavement, while important side streets had yet to be plowed at all. Our city services must do better. By the way, we live one block from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who did not have to shovel his street.' Another: 'Is it too much to ask that the District have a slightly more sophisticated plan for snow removal than its current "Solar Snow Removal Plan"? It is not effective. Three days after it stopped snowing, not one snow plow had come through our neighborhood near the Naval Observatory Not. One. And, yes, I called the mayor's hot line. Three times.'

WaPo's Bill Turque recounts an instance where a teacher was falsely accused of corporal punishment.

Gas line bursts in Chevy Chase, near Lafayette ES, 'sending gas streaming into the neighborhood.' FEMS responded, turned it off promptly.

WBJ's Jonathan O'Connell covers CoStar press conference. 'As plows rumbled along L Street and sheets of ice fell from the new building, 1331 L St. NW, Fenty, [Jack Evans], and CoStar CEO Andy Florance thanked each other for closing a deal that will bring the headquarters of the global real estate data company from Bethesda to D.C. The night before, CoStar executives hung banners with the company’s logo above the entrance and temporarily set up an exhibit showing off the company’s real estate tracking and mapping technology.' Florance said 'available jobs have been posted on the company’s Web site and he is offering employees incentives to move into the city, as he himself recently did. He predicted that the 100-job benchmark [to receive city subsidies] would not take long to achieve. “We are very confident that we can do that within a year or so,” he said.' Also Bisnow.

5th and I Streets NW planned hotel site, with no deal in place, will become parking lot—no 'temporary urbanism.' DCmud says 'the parking lot decision shows a lack of faith by the District government for the near future of construction and development' at the site.

Police release pics of downtown bank robber.

The case against tying teacher evaluations to statistics.

MPD's Brian Jordan has applied to be Dallas police chief.

DCFPI details what's in Obama budget for D.C.

Bob Summersgill says national Republicans could learn from D.C. GOP's handling of gay marriage.

BOEE decision rejecting gay-marriage referendum is appealed to Superior Court. ALSO: Another gay-marriage referendum attempt, another Peter Nickles memo.

GGW readers react to Doug Duncan-to-Metro rumors.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—Nothin'.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—Probably a press conference or two LL will not be able to get to.

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