Monday, April 7

DC MONDAY

POST SLOBBERS OVER NEW STADIUM

DAVE ZIRIN EDGE OF SPORTS Rarely has the coverage of an event been so pandering, so utterly absent of objectivity than the Washington Post's coverage of the debut of the Washington National's new stadium. The Post reported on the ballpark's grand opening with hard-hitting articles like, "Lapping Up a Major Victory, and Luxuries, at New Stadium." . . .

Some [Tom] Boswell from opening night included, "Imagine 25,000 people all smiling at once. Not for a few seconds, but continuously for hours. You won't see it at a tense World Series. But when a brand new ballpark opens, especially in a city that hasn't had such an experience for 46 years, people can't help themselves."

In a nod to actual journalism, Boswell did manage to raise a few questions. "Are they worth the money? Has MLB mastered civic extortion, playing one city against another?" But have no fear. He had no answers. "That's a different story, a different day." . . .

Boswell was a model of restraint compared to city columnist Marc Fisher. In a piece titled, I kid thee not, "The City Opens the Ballpark, And the Fans Come Up Winner," Fisher wrote, "An investment in granite, concrete and steel buys a new retail, residential and office neighborhood. It buys the president of the United States throwing out the first ball. And it buys a son showing his father what his boy has become." . . .

While Boswell and Fisher were given prime column real estate to gush, columnist Sally Jenkins didn't even get a corner of comics page. It's understandable why Jenkins, the 2002 AP sports columnist of the year, didn't get to play. Four years ago, she refused to gush: "While you're celebrating the deal to bring baseball back to Washington, understand just what it is you're getting: a large publicly financed stadium and potential sinkhole to house a team that's not very good, both of which may cost you more than you bargained for and be of questionable benefit to anybody except the wealthy owners and players. But tell that to baseball romantics, or the mayor and his people, and they act like you just called their baby ugly. It's lovely to have baseball in Washington again. But the deal that brings the Montreal Expos to Washington is an ugly baby."

Jenkins words have come to pass. But this isn't just an "ugly baby", it's Rosemary's baby. It's $611 million of tax payer money in a city that has become a ground zero of economic segregation and gentrification. $611 million over majority opposition of taxpayers and even the city council. $611 million in a city set to close down a staggering twenty-four public schools.

Dave Zirin is the author of "Welcome to the Terrordome:" (Haymarket)


DC SHORTS

SUE HEMBERGER - What's at stake in Tenleytown is whether the Fenty administration will put kids or developers first when it makes decisions about the use of public land. None of the three submissions received in response to the [request for proposals for the site] provided the playground or multipurpose playing field space mandated under DCPS's own educational specifications for an elementary school of this size. Such exterior facilities are every bit as important to elementary school education as interior facilities, and they are especially important, precious and scarce in urban environments. So what will it be? Will developers get first crack at this site, with school facilities provided on whatever land is left over after a residential building is constructed? Or will Janney's students get the facilities that DCPS says they need and are entitled to? And why on earth should the city's most overcrowded elementary school be asked to sacrifice a chunk of its campus to housing in order to get its facilities needs met in the first place?

GARY IMHOFF, DC WATCH We're seeing some furious backpedaling on the "Home Safe" invasion program proposed by Mayor Fenty and Metropolitan Police Department Chief . . . Chief Lanier now claims that she never intended the "Home Safe" program to be what the mayor and she announced that it would be, and she portrays the problem with the program as simply a public relations mistake. . . The police won't knock on doors and ask for permission to search homes, as she and the mayor said they would. Instead, they will, the Times wrote, "distribute search-consent forms but not ask to search homes." . . . The police will distribute search-consent forms, but they won't ask to search homes? Then what will they do? Hand the forms to people while saying, "please don't fill this out"? It's certainly a little bit better than the initial proposal, in that the police may not be appearing at homes asking to be let in immediately to do searches. But giving people a little time to think it over, instead of seeking immediate entry, does not solve the basic problem with the program. . . . We live in a country in which the people secured for themselves, in the revolution that founded the country, the right to be safe and secure in their homes, free from the invasive gaze of government officials and legal authorities. People won for themselves, and guaranteed to their descendants, the right to privacy within their own dwellings, the right to bar the door even to those who would misuse their governmental power to demand entry.

WUSA 9 Thousands of volunteers at hundreds of sites across the Potomac River Watershed spent the day pulling all kinds of trash out of the river and tributaries. By early Saturday evening, they had pulled over 75 tons of trash out of the region's waterways. Organizers say one skimmer boat alone near the Key Bridge in Washington collected 400 pounds of trash. . . Volunteers collected more than 62,000 recyclable drink bottles, more than 7,000 plastic bags and more than 500 tires.

WASH POST D.C. police have scaled back plans to go door-to-door asking residents in high-crime neighborhoods whether officers can search their homes for guns as part of a new amnesty program aimed at getting weapons off the streets. The Safe Homes program instead will be offered by appointment only at residents' request, said Chief Cathy L. Lanier. The program was supposed to begin last month but was delayed after a backlash from residents, D.C. Council members and the American Civil Liberties Union. The critics said some residents could feel pressured or intimidated by officers asking to enter their homes. . . . "I should have realized that the program needed to go out with a whole lot more information," Lanier said. "I should have put it out with very clear facts."

FOX NEWS At the Mayflower Hotel's tiny gift shop, people have been snatching up merchandise with the Mayflower logo and the longtime catchphrase, "Washington's Second Best Address." Resident manager Joseph Cardone says sales have increased sharply since the scandal, which led to Spitzer's resignation. At least one souvenir hunter has gone to extremes. Cardone says a few weeks ago the sign for Room 871 - the one where the alleged encounter occurred - disappeared.


DC OFFICIAL STANDARDIZED TEST

In our continuing effort to make our officials live up to the same standards as our school children, we offer the latest 2008 scores


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David Catania loses two points for his health insurance poll tax, although he gets one back for other aspects of the bill.

Michelle Rhee loses another point for forcing all Wilson high students to eat box lunches inside the building. They are students, not prisoners.

Two points to the city council for voting to add 2,000 new pre-K slots and 125 new classrooms for such students over the next six years.

Two points to the DC council for its repeal of a law that makes it easier for landlords to convert to condos and get rid of tenants by exempting vacant buildings from the tenants rights law.

Fire department loses 1 for going to the wrong address.

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