City Desk

The Needle: Williams Nostalgia Edition

Metro Board Members Are Well-Fed: Eating on Metro's buses and trains may be forbidden, but it's apparently encouraged in the transit agency's board room: The Washington Examiner reports that even as board members have grappled with a budget shortfall of up to $72 million, they've spent over $13,000 on catered meals for meetings during the past 19 months. A recent example: "Athenian chicken roulade stuffed with spinach and feta paired with a mushroom wine sauce, plus red snapper in dill cream sauce over a bed of pearl couscous," at a cost of around $20 per person. The two meetings where Metro simply sent out for sandwiches, on the other hand, cost less than $7 per hungry board member. -2

No Need to Freak Out About Deer: Good news, Washington drivers! Your chances of colliding with a deer are a mere 1 in 1035.5—46th in the nation, according to an annual survey by State Farm. And those numbers could well be smaller next year: Nighttime construction on Beach Drive is about to make it less pleasant to drive through the deer-friendly confines of Rock Creek Park during prime wheels-versus-hooves collision hours. But deer-averse drivers should take care to stay in the District: Your risk of a collision goes way up in Maryland (#13) and Virginia (#12). Then there's West Virginia, where drivers have a 1 in 53 chance of colliding with Bambi—first in the nation. +2

Williams Nostalgia Arrives: It's official: D.C. misses Tony Williams. Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King led his Saturday column with a fantasy call to the bullpen instructing the former mayor to begin warming up. King went on to blast the incumbent, Vince Gray, in terms that were only mildly less damning than the previous week's vivisection of the D.C. Council.  It's not hard to see why Williams' reputation has grown since he left office. Back then, the most common complaints were that the mayor didn't seem either passionate enough nor sufficiently rooted in the District's political community. Since then, neither four years of hard-charging rule nor nine months of an administration allied with old-school pols seem to have worked out. +2

The Incredible, Vanishing Homicide: It's getting to be one of those stories that's so predictable that no longer seems so amazing: The District's homicide rate is on track to tumble once again this year: At its current clip, D.C. will see 108 homicides in 2011—down from 132 last year. That's the lowest in four decades. +3

Last week's Needle rating: 69 Today's score: +5 Today's Needle rating: 74

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