Morning all. As you read this, thousands of commuters are traversing the District’s roadways in what WaPo deems ‘one of the biggest tests of [Mayor Adrian M. Fenty]’s mayoral term.’ WTOP simply asks: ‘Another commute from hell on tap?’ City crews have worked nonstop through the weekend to plow main arteries ‘curb to curb’ to avoid a repeat of Friday’s disastrous rush. ‘The challenge,’ Tim Craig and Hamil Harris write, ‘couldn’t be more critical for Fenty, who is up for reelection this year and has staked his reputation on making local government work better for District residents. Fenty received high marks for the District’s response to the Dec. 19 snowstorm, which dropped about 20 inches on the city, but over the past week both national media outlets and some D.C. Council members have questioned Fenty’s ability to oversee the District’s snow removal.’ Jim Graham sticks up for Fenty’s snow performance in the story, but shares a fab tidbit illustrating the Fenty we all know so well: ‘Graham said when he asked Fenty about requesting resources from President Obama, the mayor replied, “What would they have provided us?” “I said, ‘They could have provided soldiers from Fort Meyer [sic],’ ” Graham recalled. “If it had been a riot, they would have.”‘
AFTER THE JUMP—-How D.C.’s snow infrastructure stacks up; someone needs to clear public sidewalks; Safeway closing protests go unheeded; Adam Clampitt’s back in town
THE VIEW FROM BUFFALO—-‘Steven J. Stepniak, who oversees the streets department in snowy Buffalo, N.Y., said District officials should have called up the heavy equipment before the first storm began. “Having the right size of equipment and getting contractors early is key,” said Stepniak, commissioner of Buffalo’s Public Works, Parks and Streets Department. But Stepniak, who lives in a city that averages 93 inches of snow each year, said even Buffalo would struggle to clean up from the consecutive blizzards that hit the District last week. “It is very hard for any municipality of any size to handle back-to-back snowstorms of that caliber,” Stepniak said.’
WaPo columnist Petula Dvorak also ties snow performance to Fenty’s political fortunes: ‘Patience is wearing thin. Rage is bubbling. The grace period granted for the sheer magnitude of the biggest snowstorm in our region’s recent history is set to expire about today. And if our area is still struggling to return to normalcy, it could be the breaking point for faith in many of our local leaders….The snowpack of a century couldn’t have been more poorly timed for the once-popular mayor. He’d already been getting the cold shoulder from voters, even though they are generally happy with city services. Make that were happy.’ Yee-owch! She proceeds to rattle off the Barry-Bilandic-Lindsay litany of mayors felled by flakes. ‘The lesson: Voters can forgive all sorts of bad behavior. But they will not be snowed.’
AP story puts the area’s snow-clearing efforts in a national perspective, Chicago in particular: ‘To be fair, the one-two punch of storms that socked the East Coast this month were record-setting, with snow falling so fast and deep that Washington pulled its plows from the road….And yet [Chicago’s] legendary snow-clearing legions argue that keeping a city moving during such a blizzard isn’t an insurmountable task. Should as much snow fall on Chicago as it did in Washington this month, the city’s more than 500 plows and 1,000 workers — hardened by years of work in tough Midwestern winters — are prepared to wipe it all away. “Chicago would get through such a storm, and while it would not be total normalcy, the city would still function,” said Matt Smith, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.’ Special bonus: Quote from LL on the District’s ‘no-win situation: slammed for not being prepared when the Big One hits, but likely to face criticism if it spent much more on snow removal.’
With officials in suburban districts calling for citizen help in preparing for school reopenings today, Fenty joined in. From WaPo front-pager: ‘The District asked neighbors to create “shoveling teams,” while volunteers in Alexandria worked alongside school staff to remove patches of ice and snow at neighborhood schools….Fenty called on able-bodied residents to do their part and help clean the city’s sidewalks. “It is a public-safety issue. When we open schools this week, it is going to be tough for the kids to walk if the sidewalks are not shoveled,” Fenty (D) said during a Monday news conference. He said that all of the city’s major arteries and more than “90 percent” of residential streets had been cleared. District crews that hauled snow from last week’s snowfall were back on duty Monday to treat cleared roadways.’ Hamil Harris notes at D.C. Wire that ‘Operation Clean Path’ is a joint effort of Serve DC and the Peaceoholics. Also: Video of presser.
As for trash, things should be getting back to normal, WAMU-FM reports, albeit on a holiday-week schedule. ‘[DPW chief Bill Howland] says his agency will collect everyone’s trash this week, but will not haul away recycling. Collection was suspended last week, leaving some residents with more than a week and a half’s worth of garbage. Howland says it would’ve been more difficult to shift collection around the already scheduled holiday. “Some people would put it on Monday, others would say normally you pick it up on Tuesday,” he says. “We just want to minimize any confusion. It’s been a difficult time for everyone, if we just stick to our normal holiday schedule, it’ll be easier for everyone.”‘
Jonetta Rose Barras has a tut-tut for the District and federal authorities who fail to clear public sidewalks in anything approaching a timely manner. ‘[H]aven’t elected officials been promoting the District as a “walkable city”? I know I’ll receive e-mails reminding me the federal government was closed four days last week. But, what happened in December? The National Park Service didn’t clear sidewalks along its property then, either. Officials there are disciples of the Marion Barry school of snow removal: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” Meanwhile, residents suffer….The federal and District governments are first-rate violators of the city’s sidewalk clearing ordinance. And, if they feel comfortable breaking the law, why on Earth would residents feel compelled to obey it?’
Some good news revenue-wise: WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood notes that the early snow-emergency call yesterday snagged at least one parking scofflaw with a $150 ticket. ‘I don’t look at the news when I’m driving my car!’ he protested. Maybe turn on the radio? Also on the enforcement front, NC8 notes that the District isn;t doing much enforcement when it comes to nonshovelers. ‘In the District, you get a few hours to clear your sidewalk or you’re supposed to get hit with a fine. But so far, no tickets have been given out for not shoveling.’ That, NC8, is because the District can’t just give out tickets. What it can do is shovel for you then file suit to recover the cost. Ask Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells about their shovel-ticket bill!
District firefighters tell WUSA-TV that, due to snow, ‘response time has more than doubled. What use to take two minutes may now take four minutes to respond.’ Why? ‘Engine Company 16 went on a call Monday night that came to a complete stop because a delivery truck parked in the middle of the lane. A firefighter had to get out and tell him to move. The delivery truck driver told the firefighter to give him a second. Firefighters say that’s an example of people not understanding the brevity of the emergency. It put their response time back at least one minute.’
WaPo ed board calls on feds to make telecommuting easier. What about D.C. gov?
HEAR, HEAR—-A WaPo reader’s call for a better snowfall-measuring location than DCA.
Local residents rallied yesterday to stop the closing of the Edgewood Safeway, but to no avail, reports WBJ’s Missy Frederick. ‘Safeway spokesman Craig Muckle said Monday that the company has sold its pharmacy prescriptions to CVS and notified its employees of the closure. All employees will be re-assigned to other locations of their choosing, he said….According to a spokeswoman for the councilman, [Harry Thomas Jr.] plans to work with the leasing agent on the property to secure a new grocery tenant if Safeway exits as planned. “[Thomas] wants to make moving into the store as advantageous as possible for another chain, such as by having Safeway leave its equipment behind,” she said.’ Good luck with that. NC8 covers the protest.
OPEFM roundtables are set to discuss ‘D.C. School Modernization: Lessons Learned—The Road Forward,’ Bill Turque notes on WaPo blog. First one is 10 a.m. Saturday at School Without Walls.
Man convicted in 1994 shooting should get another day in court, D.C. appeals court rules. ‘John Hardy…tried to appeal his case, alleging in part that his court-appointed trial lawyer, Shola Ayeni, wasn’t up to the job. Hardy’s grandmother paid another lawyer, Retna Pullings, $1,500 to handle the appeal,’ Bill Myers writes in Examiner. But Pullings never showed up and Ayeni never told a judge that Hardy thought she was incompetent. Both were later disbarred.
Adam Clampitt, ex-D.C. Council candidate and Naval Reserve officer, is back in town after a tour in Afghanistan. His first media sitdown is…a Q&A with the District Dish? (‘Any sort of lessons that you’ve learned from your time in Afghanistan that you could bring back to Washington…’cause I feel like a little bit of similarities in terms of crumbing infrastructure….?’)
ALSO—-Vincent Gray hosted a welcome-back party for Clampitt last week at Lima Lounge, plus seven other CMs. There, LL is told, Clampitt delivered what what was essentially a Gray-for-mayor endorsement—-quite a leap for a fellow openly courting the Green Machine during his ’08 at-large run.
Twelve-year-old cold case solved—-WTTG’s Paul Wagner with the scoop.
Examiner has more on Feb. 2 Bank of Georgetown robbery.
Maryland makes offer to Northrop Grumman; no details from WBJ.
Martin O’Malley gets on the teacher pay-for-performance bandwagon.
GLAA names its Distinguished Service Awardees. The honorees: Brian Moore, Brian K. Flowers, Michael Crawford, Mark Levine, Nick McCoy, Rev. Monique Ellison, Sultan Shakir, D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, Joan E. Biren, Sean Bugg, Lou Chibbaro, and David Mariner.
Cheh is organizing petition to get District on board with super-high-speed-broadband effort sponsored by Google. Your signature is appreciated.
Facebook Page of the Day: ‘MAYOR MARION BARRY WILL ALWAYS BE MY MAYOR!!! FENTY WHO????‘
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole meeting, to be followed by the 27th Legislative Meeting, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.