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You have me wondering what’s going on over at Washington City Paper. A couple of years ago you couldn’t pick up an issue without seeing some version of the same clichéd “urban nightmare” story, with a “moral” about how the city of Washington was fading into an irreversible cycle of crime and decay. This relentless cynicism had me thinking your paper was only worth reading as a source for the Straight Dope and cartoons.

But much to my surprise, in the past few weeks you’ve published a series of articles that examine the city’s problems and…SHOCK!…actually suggest plausible solutions and offer hope! The story on the home rule charter was great (“The Home Rule Charter: Rewrite the Damn Thing, 5/10), for example, and “Battered Neighborhood Syndrome” (5/31) had some good suggestions for a tricky problem. Your “Needle” feature has a refreshing mix of good news to counter the bad and is a new favorite of mine. The opening tone of “Tour of Duty” (5/17) had me worried that you were reverting to your knee-jerk bash-the-District ways, but after a few paragraphs the article came around to show in a clever way how the city was being portrayed as worse than it really is.

I commend you on your balance and your good suggestions. By all means, keep reporting the bad (we don’t need Pollyannas any more than we need more District-bashers), as long as you continue to offer suggestions and constructive criticism. I have never enjoyed your paper more.

Capitol Hill

via the Internet