City Desk

Washington Times Columnist Spontaneously Moved to Criticize Trolley Barn

In her Monday Washington Times column, Deborah Simmons trashed a proposed streetcar barn in Ward 5. Ahead of a emergency meeting called by Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie that night about the barn, Simmons called plans for the barn "illogical" and surveys of residents' views about the streetcars "phoney baloney."

At least, Simmons writes, some Ward 5 residents are around to oppose the barn:

The Ward 5 community and other stakeholders will lend their voices to an illogical proposal from city hall to build a trolley barn and training site near an educational compound at 26th Street and Benning Road in Northeast.

What Simmons failed to mention in her column is that she's one of those stakeholders. At the meeting later that day, Simmons gave a speech against the barn, as noted by DCist's Martin Austermuhle. There was no mention in her column that she would be speaking at the meeting.

Simmons is an opinion columnist, and she's as welcome to participate in civic life as any other District resident. But why not, when praising the barn's opponents to readers, mention that she's one of them?

Simmons didn't respond to a request for comment, but her editor, Matt Cella, says the Times didn't disclose Simmons would be speaking at the meeting because she wasn't originally planning to say anything. "She hadn't prepared a set of remarks," Cella says. Instead, according to Cella, Simmons was listening to Councilmember Yvette Alexander and decided to speak up after she thought Alexander skipped over residents' concerns.

Even if Simmons wasn't planning on speaking at the meeting, the Times might have disclosed to readers that Simmons was apparently so close to the barn issue that she might spontaneously be moved to give a speech against it.

Photo via D.C. Streetcar

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  • Drez

    I uses she figured more people would hear her at the meeting than would read her in The opinion section of The Times

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