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College For All—Or Else: For better or worse, a college degree is becoming an essential credential if you want to get the kind of job that can provide a middle class standard of living (before it’s eventually outsourced somewhere else and/or your employer goes out of business). So when D.C. Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown says he’s trying to encourage more D.C. high school students to apply to higher education, it sounds like a good idea. It’s Brown’s specific solution that seems a bit muddled; the chairman wants to require students to take the SAT or ACT and fill out college applications in order to be eligible to graduate high school. Which means anyone who’s not interested in college would also wind up lacking a high school diploma. Give Brown’s plan an F. -3
Acqua Gratuita: Consumers revolted last year against surcharges at Bank of America, Verizon Wireless, and other corporate behemoths. Is D.C. restaurant Elisir next on that list? The Italian joint has announced that it’s rolling back the 29-cent-per-customer charge it used to impose for filtered water, replacing it with a choice of free tap water or a $3.95-per-table fee for bottled H2O. “It has occurred to us that our water policy is presently not meeting Elisir’s goals” of providing diners with good service, the restaurant says. It has occurred to us, meanwhile, that paying 29 cents for free water is pretty dumb. +1
Uberpriced: New smartphone-savvy luxury cab service Uber has made a flashy entrance into the D.C. market lately, ferrying local journalists to Graffiato for a lunch to preview their business (no one from Washington City Paper attended, so far as we know) and hitting social media outlets to promote itself. Which meant that on New Year’s Eve, when regular cabs are hard to come by, there was plenty of demand for a fancier ride. Thanks to Uber’s “surge pricing,” though, fares went up. The company says it warned patrons in advance that would happen; surprisingly enough, by the time the bars closed in the wee hours of Jan. 1, people seemed to have forgotten that. -1
Fail, Victory: The Washington Redskins season ended not with a bang, but with a wimper, as the team marched up to Philadelphia to lose to the Eagles, 34-10, and finish the year 5-11. That’s the worst record coach Mike Shanahan has ever had, in 17 full seasons. Perhaps as a result, he brought in some Navy SEALs and a Marine to the final meeting of the season; their mission was to inspire the players, not conquer them, as the rest of the NFL had more or less already accomplished that one. Meanwhile, on Jan. 26, it will be 20 years since the last time the Redskins won the Super Bowl. Can they draft Mark Rypien this spring? -2
Friday’s Needle rating: 58 Today’s score: -5 Today’s Needle rating: 53