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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Chris Matthews Pounds Fenty Snow Response‘; ‘DCPS: Two Make-Up Days Set, Perhaps More‘; ‘Snow Prompts Councilmembers to Try Armchair Mayoring‘; ‘Woman Charged With Assaulting Police Officer During Snowball Fight‘; and tweets galore!
Greetings all. The District of Columbia is crippled for another day by a pair of record snowstorms, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is feeling the political heat. Not only is he dealing with the usual D.C. Council ankle-biters, but he’s battling the ridiculous expectations of MSNBC host (and non-commuter-tax-paying MoCo resident) Chris Matthews and the Examiner editorial board. ‘Mayor Fenty fails the snow test,’ says the latter writes today, calling for a harebrained privatization scheme. ‘Fenty should fire D.C. Department of Transportation Director Gabe Klein and Department of Public Works Director Bill Howland, the two city employees in charge of snow removal, and use the money saved to hire a private contractor.’ Give LL an f’in break.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Snow, snow, and more snow
WaPo’s Sandhya Somashekhar on the politics of snow removal: ‘Few events underscore the role of government in everyday life so acutely as a crippling blizzard, and each new snowstorm presents a new demand for elected officials to prove themselves. “A snowfall done well has very little political upside,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who knows a little something about inclement weather. “A snowfall done poorly can be the worst thing for a mayor.”…Fenty, who is running for reelection this year, has tried to show he is conducting business as usual while overseeing the city’s snow-removal operations. He has shuttled between news conferences, driving himself in a Smart Car on some of the District’s (ostensibly cleared) streets, to announce a new government Web site or use the city’s municipal salt dome as a backdrop. He got generally good reviews for his handling of the December snowstorm. But he faced fierce criticism from parents Sunday when he initially announced that schools would open two hours late on Monday despite the blizzard, which smacked the region with two feet of snow over the weekend.’ A Capitol Hill resident says Fenty’s done a ‘very credible, very competent job.’
WATCH—-Hizzoner on WRC-TV this morning.
NYT also covers snow politicking, with Fenty in the lede. Hizzoner, writes Sewell Chan and Liz Robbins, ‘knows the clock is ticking. While residents have been relatively understanding — so far — about delays in plowing roads and clearing sidewalks, he recognizes the perils for politicians who do not get their cities cleaned up quickly. “Snow will test people’s patience,” the mayor, who faces a tough re-election fight in November, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “A government official who’s in tune with his residents knows that you’ve got to move fast.”’ And how ’bout a Sandra Seegars appearance in the Gray Lady! ‘He was hellbent on having the government and the schools open, but enough e-mails went through to stop him,’ she said of Fenty. Jim Graham, too: ‘Any city would be severely challenged by this type of deluge….That said, I think we could have done a whole lot better.’ And Mary Cheh, who ‘said the initial insistence on keeping offices open reflected “arrogance and maybe a little bit of immaturity” on the part of Mr. Fenty, 39. “It just reinforces an impression that has been settling in anyway,” she said.’
OBIE MINDMELD—-‘Mr. Fenty has compared notes with Baltimore’s new mayor, Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake. In a phone interview, she said they had exchanged text messages with updates on emergency plans — as well as encouragement. Mayor Fenty’s most recent text? “He said, ‘Get back to work,’ ” she said with a laugh.’
Federal funds may flow fast to aid storm cleanup, WaPo’s Aaron Davis and Spencer Hsu write: ‘Maryland lawmakers said the Obama administration agreed Wednesday to let the region’s governments apply for federal aid for the past two storms simultaneously, a move that would allow Maryland, Virginia and the District to seek more money and quicker reimbursement for the cleanup costs of both mammoth snowfalls. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate said that although decisions would be made case by case, the administration is receptive to issuing presidential disaster declarations for the three jurisdictions….[Fenty] said it is too early to begin calculating the costs of the latest cleanup. But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said she thinks the entire region qualifies for a presidential emergency declaration. If none is declared, she said, she would ask Congress to add funding to the District’s appropriation to help the city pay for the cleanup.’
WaPo’s Nikita Stewart goes inside District Snow Command at the Reeves Center. ‘From a space the size of a large living room, a team of District officials representing DDOT, Public Works, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Homeland Security and Emergency Management and other agencies oversees a snow-removal operation that includes 700 employees, 265 snowplows and trucks, 82 plow routes and 190 cameras monitoring intersections and roads….Screens are illuminated, such as a TV tuned to the Weather Channel and a digital snow map updating conditions on each of the plow routes. They can see which streets are salted, plowed or untouched….Why one street gets plowed and another doesn’t depends on a set of factors. Highways, main corridors and designated snow emergency routes are cleared first for emergency and public safety vehicles. Then, the side streets get plowed. If someone gets stuck on a side street, a snowplow driver might decide to skip the impediment and move on to the next block.’ And did you know? ‘The plow drivers are so vital that the city has about 500 of them in hotels near plow depots so they won’t get stuck at home.’
BEHIND @DDOTDC—-‘Residents whose streets have not been plowed complain to the command center by phone, e-mail or Twitter. John Lisle, spokesman for the Department of Public Works, and Karyn Le Blanc, spokeswoman for DDOT, take turns answering tweets. Two dozen people — many surviving on Rice Krispies treats, rainbow-colored Goldfish or the McDonald’s across the street — rotate to monitor complaints in 12-hour shifts.’
WaPo’s Theola Labbé-DeBose was embedded with the D.C. National Guard, which ‘has been assisting the D.C. police and the fire departments since the first snowfall Friday. About 118 personnel with 23 vehicles have been picking up officers in the suburbs and bringing them to work and helping paramedics stuck in the snow transport patients. They even transported an assistant police chief to a police-involved shooting.’ And the paper’s Jonathan Mummolo cover FEMS community service unit: ‘Inside CSU1, a heavy-duty pickup, Sgt. Rick Stillwell and Pvt. Humberto Perez cruise the streets, waiting for calls to assist with stuck vehicles, transport people or deliver equipment. The unit’s primary responsibility, before the twin snowstorms, was to maintain the city’s more than 10,000 fire hydrants, but Stillwell and Perez have been repurposed.’ Mary Pat Flaherty covers how local hospitals are transporting their workers. And Susan Kinzie and Katherine Shaver cover impacts on the elderly: ‘For the able-bodied, the snow is an inconvenience, said Mark Andersen, director of We Are Family in the District. But the elderly “literally become prisoners in their own homes,” he said. Some rely on home health aides to get out of bed, he said. He knew of one woman living in a Columbia Heights building whose aide stayed for the weekend to ensure that she had help throughout the storm. On Wednesday, the aide couldn’t get there, so Andersen brought the woman food and other essentials.’
Metro is a mess and will remains so for the near future, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner: ‘The agency has now had no above-ground train service for four of the past five days. Thursday may bring the total even higher as the agency is already expecting that Metrobus and MetroAccess service will remain suspended….Above-ground train service also looks unlikely for at least the morning. Tuesday was the one respite. But Metro notified the media five minutes before it said it planned to shut down its above-ground trains Tuesday night. It was unclear how many riders were caught by surprise.’ Also: ‘Two MetroAccess vehicles had bump-ups and five Metrobuses were involved in accidents, none with serious injuries….On the roads, 15 Metrobuses carrying passengers became stuck and had to be dug out, forcing the agency to suspend all bus service around 8 p.m.’
Great piece from Marc Fisher and Brigid Schulte on the abandonment of the Tenleytown Safeway: ‘[T]he aisles were empty, the salad fixings gone, the milk shelves cleaned out. The only evidence of what had happened sat on the cashier’s belt in Lane 2 — a few coins and a couple of wrinkled bills that told the tale: The staff skipped out and left the door open, and the locals, trying to do the right thing (sort of), had helped themselves and paid for what they took.’ A cop ‘told the story as best he could figure it out: “The people who work here probably left, and they left the store open by mistake.”‘ Safeway says it never happened.
‘The epic snowstorms of the past week have divided our region into winners and losers,’ writes Robert McCartney in his WaPo column. Politicians would be losers: ‘Given that they had so much notice, and that the first storm was conveniently timed at the start of a weekend, our elected leaders did a pretty lame job overall of clearing the streets and getting the area ready to resume business before the second storm hit….Our political leaders like to boast that we’re a “world-class” metropolitan area. When it comes to snow, we don’t perform like one.’ Also losers: Metro, Pepco.
UGH—-Chance of 1 to 3 additional inches on Monday. From Ashley Halsey‘s WaPo lede-all: ‘As the region tries to right itself after what increasingly looked like a lost week, just digging out from under a foot of fresh snow piled atop two feet of previous snow has left road crews and 5.5 million Washington area inhabitants exhausted. The storm that could arrive Monday seemed a trivial threat after all that, but it could compound the havoc played with virtually every rhythm of daily life. “Most likely it will be a modest event,” said Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist of The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. “But the way this winter has been going, I wouldn’t rule anything out.” It’s not clear to forecasters how much snow the storm could bring.’
WE’RE NO. 1—-Examiner: ‘The National Weather Service measured 9.8 inches of snow accumulation at Ronald Reagan National Airport Wednesday afternoon, lifting the season’s total to 54.8 inches and eclipsing the previous mark of 54.4 inches set during the winter of 1898-99.’
Some folks actually went to work, Ian Shapira reports in WaPo: ‘While government offices and many businesses shut tight Wednesday, some companies opted to stay open, requiring — or at least urging — employees to find a way to get to work. Managers — many of them at law firms, perhaps not surprisingly — defended their policy, arguing that they are in a service industry and must be there for their clients….Not even a world-class blizzard, it seems, can stop a foreclosure sale. Ted Millspaugh, a partner at the law firm WilmerHale, traveled to his downtown District office to meet with clients who would be bidding on a commercial property later in the day at the Arlington County courthouse. Alas, all the effort was apparently for naught. “People at the sale were commenting like, ‘Boy, I can’t believe the bank is holding this,’ ” Millspaugh said. “But it didn’t go our way.”‘
Examiner: ‘Residents of 14th Pl. NE at the edge of Capitol Hill organized a street shoveling party to begin once the snow tapered off. Their narrow one-way had been bypassed by snowplows, leaving it scarred by deep ruts and nearly impassable even before Wednesday’s fresh fall. An exchange of e-mails attempted to ascertain the contents of neighbors’ cupboards in hopes of post-shoveling s’mores and libations.’
OMG! Potential roof collapse at GWU’s Tau Kappa Epsilon house, displacing four, Hatchet reports. ‘Rafi Moersen, a resident of the TKE house who has been moved to Guthridge Hall, said he and the other house residents cannot enter the house for at least a week. “We are throwing parties still, our social life has not been damaged,” Moersen said of the move. “We are having a house warming party in Guthridge 209.”’
Mail will be coming today.
In praise of ‘Snowblower Guy.’
Falling ice caused Lafayette gas leak.
Advoc8te: ‘Car totally engulfed in flames feet from Councilmember Marion Barry’s home.’
11,000 tons of snow are on city streets. Bad for the environment?
GGW’s David Alpert thinks the city’s generally done a good job thus far and praises its communications efforts. No such praise for Metro: ‘Where Metro differed from other agencies was in its level of communication. DDOT put out several press releases each day, and Mayor Fenty was constantly on television and quoted in the press. John Catoe wasn’t nearly so visible. It’s true that Fenty can go overboard with his media visibility at times, but during this storm, that was reassuring.’
Some non-snow political news, courtesy of Examiner’s Michael Neibauer. It’s about hotel taxes! Michael Brown bill ‘would make the online travel industry fork over millions of tax dollars, upward of $10 million a year, the District claims it is owed. Numerous municipalities across the country have tried the same thing and most have failed, often through the courts after the travel industry files suit.’
ACLU argues that quick turnaround on Gales School RFP favors Central Union Mission, asks for extension.
Fact-checking a Michelle Rhee op-ed.
MLK memorial is coming soon.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute breaks down the 2010/2011 budget gaps.
Lengthy interview with NoMa BID’s Liz Price.
Susie Cambria looks at some ways to improve Track DC.
The ANC 6A02 special election will go on! The Hill Is Home has a preview. 7 p.m. at Miner ES.
You’ll get ’em next time, Caps.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-Nothin’.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: snow update, Banneker Rec Center, 2500 Georgia Ave. NW.