Tuesday, December 23

DC TUESDAY


Mike Licht, Notion's Capital - Washington residents got a holiday gift from the DC Government. DC's Office of Property Management is finally rousting the rascals who have mismanaged Eastern Market and is taking direct administrative control on January First. Management of historic Eastern Market has been contracted out to a phantom DC nonprofit called Eastern Market Ventures (or Venture - documents differ). Who is EMV? Primarily Maryland's Site Realty Group, with apparent participation by principals of MilleniuM Real Estate Advisors (which provides the notional DC address - at the Watergate) and New York's Capital Properties..

Why would multimillion-dollar corporations bother battling for Eastern Market's chump-change management contract? Perhaps to gain credibility for bids to manage other historic fresh food markets, something that looked lucrative until Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Boston's Faneuil Hall, and other phony-baloney "festival marketplaces" tanked. Recently EMV, reconstituted as Market House Ventures LLC, ruined the historic Annapolis Market House; Eastern Market was gutted by fire on EMV's absentee management watch.

How did EMV keep the Eastern Market contract? Threats of lawsuits. How did EMV even get the Eastern Market contract when it didn't have the required IRS nonprofit status when it got the nod? Anyone who really cares enough should start by examining political donation records at the DC Office of Campaign Finance.

Mike DeBonis,
aka Loose Lips, at Washington City Paper gives the latest facts and specs concerning the inauguration. Latest crowd is 2.5 million plus. . . Loose Lips: That's a steep drop from [Mayor] Fenty's early, fanciful estimates, Mary Beth Sheridan reports in WaPo. Which is good because, as Examiner reports, previous estimate of 4M "could overwhelm regional hospitals and jails, according to experts. And even 2 million, as more modest estimates project, would still prove problematic in case of an emergency.". . . And how bout this idea: "Officials could close the Southeast-Southwest Freeway to accommodate bus parking. That would require the closing of the Roosevelt and 14th Street bridges.". . . Dr. Gridlock has spoken: On Jan. 20, "because there will be a security cordon around downtown Washington, because use of some bridges will be restricted and because there may be limited access to some commuter corridors, transit still looks like the best bet for getting to work under these difficult circumstances." . . . Smithsonian Metro station will close completely. . . "Officials say backpacks, duffel bags, coolers, thermoses, umbrellas, lawn chairs and the all-important stroller must be left at home," says News Channel 8. . .

Sources tell us that the Obama administration plans to ban irony, so let us hasten to point out that the inauguration of the first black president will include discrimination against senior citizens and children:

DC Examiner - No strollers near the Capitol. No tents on the National Mall. None of that Silly String on the parade route. That's just a sample of the items forbidden from President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration for security reasons. And while many people say the inconvenience is a small price to pay to witness the swearing-in of the nation's first black president, others are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how they will sit, snack, carry diapers or transport tired tots.

Some older people are backing out of their inaugural plans, partly because of a no-chair rule for the parade route. Parenting blogs are abuzz with complaints about the less-than-kid-friendly restrictions. Thermoses, coolers and backpacks are out at both the Capitol and the parade route. . .

The tightest rules are reserved for the lucky 240,000 ticket-holders, who get to sit closest to the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol. There are understandable prohibitions on weapons and pepper spray. But you also can't carry an umbrella. And don't think about holding up any "Yes We Did" signs - posters also are not allowed.

It could get tricky as people congregate along the parade route, where many items allowed on the Mall will be off-limits. That list includes bicycles, backpacks, aerosols (which could include Silly String), coolers, thermal containers and chairs.

Signs or placards can be brought to the parade - but only if they're made of cardboard, poster board or cloth and are not more than 3 feet by 20 feet. . .

The rules aren't so strict on the National Mall, where most people will end up because tickets aren't required. Officials have said everyone will be checked, but they haven't said what that will entail.

People won't be able to see much, except what's on Jumbotrons, but they can bring all sorts of stuff. Besides the obvious no-nos - firearms, explosives, fireworks - the only bans are on alcohol, tents and glass bottles.

DC Examiner - Health officials say hospitals in the Washington region are expecting to see up to 60,000 patients over the four-day inaugural festivities -- roughly double the number of patients they would normally treat. But that projection doesn't take into account a possible catastrophe or an unexpected outbreak.

"If the question is 'Is there a large amount of surge capability built in to hospitals?' The answer is no," said Dr. Eric Glasser, a physician at Georgetown University Hospital and president of the D.C. chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Can we make it work for a short period of time? Yes."

Emergency rooms close to the Capitol will take the surge in patients with life-threatening emergencies like heart attacks, premature births and appendicitis, but officials are still working out details of a plan to ensure mobility of ambulances, which will be hampered by large crowds and closed roads.

Even Baltimore hospitals "are expecting a surge of patients," Michael Schwartzberg, spokesman for the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, said. Hospitals will be ready for everything from sprained ankles to the possibility of an outbreak of the norovirus. The nasty bug responsible for severe stomach and intestinal problems travels quickly in crowds and has recently shown up at big events in North Carolina and Minnesota.

Washington's already busy jails also will be under special stress. On a typical day, more than 1,900 of the 2,164 available spots in D.C. corrections facilities are filled. If even a small fraction of the Obama celebrants run afoul of the law, it could push jails beyond their limits.

This year a 12-hour racetrack event in Sebring, Fla., saw 68 arrests out of 170,000 people. In D.C., the crowds will likely be multiplied at least tenfold. And with bars and nightclubs open until 4 a.m. and protesters expected to descend on the city, officials are worried about handling the surge.

"The biggest mistake anyone is making is encouraging record-breaking crowds to come to Washington," said Paul Wertheimer, principal consultant at Los Angeles-based Crowd Management Strategies.

"They're pushing the envelope too much," he said. "They can't manage the kinds of crowds they are saying might occur."

In 1999, the Woodstock music festival had about 250,000 people, Wertheimer said, with 2,000 toilets and 2,800 police and unarmed guards. Inaugural planners announced that for potentially 2 million people along the National Mall, there will be about 5,000 toilets and 2,300 police and National Guardsmen.

"And people who think that happy crowds are problem-free crowds don't understand what dangers are and how they develop," Wertheimer said, explaining that most assassinations have occurred among happy crowds, and that happy crowds don't deter terrorists.

WASHINGTON POST STILL PUSHING FREEWAYS


Greater Greater Washington -
Washington Post columnist and UMD architecture professor emeritus Roger Lewis usually makes a valuable contribution to debates about our region. He supports less sprawling development patterns, plans to make Tysons a "real city", and the Purple Line. That's why I was shocked to hear him recommend not just completing the ICC, but three Beltways for the Washington area during today's Kojo Nnamdi show:

"Ideally what we should have in the metro Washington region is something that looks like a cobweb. We have the radials, we've got one of the circumferential, we probably need three of them. My hometown of Houston, they already built the second beltway. There's an inner loop and now there's an outer loop. The ICC is envisioned, I think, as a fragment, as a beginning of what might be in 100 years be a completed network where you can move circumferentially, or east-west, north-south as easily as you can move radially along the roads that vector out from the city. I think the Purple Line is also part of this."

Houston's beltways have created and cemented the sprawl that Lewis criticizes in his own columns. It's generated stifling commutes, destroyed millions of acres of open space, damaged the environment, and made us completely dependent on petroleum. Plus, we've learned over the last 50 years that building new freeways doesn't relieve traffic, it just induces more. More beltways would make our current problems ten times worse.

DC CLIPS

Metro has just done its part
to make life worse for DC's poorer and homeless residents. Doing away with paper transfers means that you're going to need $10 upfront for a Smartrip card to do multi-line riding without paying extra fares. It's not clear whether this is deliberate cruelty or just indifference but either way it's pretty sad.

Raw Story -
A police officer for Washington, D.C. pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault on a protester he beat in the face with a riot stick nearly four nears ago. An 18-year member of the Metropolitan Police Department, Christopher Huxoll could face up to 10 years in prison for his altercation with a demonstrator during the 2005 Inauguration of President Bush. According to a press release, Huxoll threw the protester to the ground, lifted up his head and hit him across the face with his baton, leaving him bruised and bloody. . . Huxoll said he believed the protester had thrown bottles at him and his fellow officers while policing an unauthorized protest march where there had been reports of vandalism. But Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, said whatever he believed, Huxoll crossed the line.

FENTY'S WAR ON SCHOOLS & COMMUNITY PUTS ANOTHER 11 SCHOOLS ON THE BLOCK

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