City Desk

The Needle: Panda Power Edition

Pandas Stay at National Zoo

Pandas Stay Put: People think of the District as a transient place, but the dirty little secret of most people who move here for work is that once they arrive, they find they kind of like it. And they stick around (just ask former Sen. Byron Dorgan, who recently signed up with a D.C. law firm instead of moving back to North Dakota). That rule goes for pandas, too. Chinese officials, in town for President Hu Jintao's state visit, announced that the pair of pandas at the National Zoo will extend their stint in D.C. for another five years, in exchange for $2.5 million. Remember, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian—you're required to get a D.C. driver's license once you've been here 30 days or more. +4

WTOP Gets Owned: In the famed "glass-enclosed nerve center" from which all-news radio WTOP monitors the region, there's only one big story today–the station's been sold. Deseret Management, a for-profit arm of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, sold 'TOP and other Bonneville International stations in Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati to Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., which operates out of Minnesota, for $505 million. No word yet on rumors that weather and traffic will now move from the eights to the sixes. +1

Park Underneath, Please: The days of vast, and often empty, parking lots standing between the sidewalk and D.C. retail could be coming to an end. New rules proposed by the Office of Planning and Zoning would require stores to put parking lots under or behind their main building, instead of in front. Prediction: If that makes it into law, AAA will declare this yet another piece of D.C.'s war on cars. Oh, and also, streetscapes around town will look a lot better. +2

D.C. Council Bonanza: Say one thing for whichever D.C. voters actually bother to turn out for the April 26 special election for an at-large D.C. Council seat—they won't lack for choices. Two candidates officially declared their interest in the race today, Republican Patrick Mara and Ward 1 activist Bryan Weaver, and Vincent Orange (who is rapidly becoming the Harold Stassen of District politics) tells the Post he'll probably run, too. By the time Election Day arrives, is there anyone who's registered to vote in D.C. who won't be on the ballot? +2

Yesterday's Needle rating: 52 Today's score: +9 Today's Needle rating: 61

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