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We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“1000-Series Metro Cars: How to Avoid Them, If You So Choose; “Why the City Is Promoting Conservation With 100,000 Paper Doorhangers“; “Political Fixture Bill Rice Let Go from District Job“
IN LL WEEKLY—-Why the Fire Truck Went to Sosúa: William Walker III, key player in Dominican donation saga, explains how it went down.
Morning all. ‘Anomalies’—-that’s what federal investigators found in trackside electronic control equipment during testing yesterday, ‘suggesting that computers might have sent one Red Line train crashing into another’ on Monday evening, WaPo writes. More from Lyndsey Layton, Maria Glod, and Lena H. Sun: ‘A senior Metro official knowledgeable about train operations said an internal report confirmed that the computer system appeared to have faltered.’ And that system, according to the NTSB’s Debbie Hersman, is ‘vital.’ Then there’s this: ‘The steel rails show evidence that McMillan activated the emergency brakes 300 to 400 feet before the pileup’—-but she would have been traveling 59 mph. See also WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, NYT, and Examiner, which notes that brake maintenance seems no longer to be an issue.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Fishy fire truck hearing today; calls gather to replace old Metro cars; budget gap could delay council recess; and ANC commissioner accused of ‘potential’ hate crime.
MORE QUESTIONS ON OLD CARS—-From WaPo: ‘Hersman also reiterated that the NTSB is concerned about the type of cars involved in Monday’s crash. Purchased from Rohr Industries in 1974-78, they are Metro’s oldest and have a tendency to fold into themselves, like a telescope, during a crash. Jackie L. Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents train operators, said the union is demanding that Metro make several immediate changes, including using Rohr cars only when they are sandwiched between newer-model cars….Investigators said yesterday that anti-climbers — devices that should have prevented the first car of the striking train from vaulting onto the car it hit — engaged in the crash but that the moving car “failed to stay intact . . . and it climbed up.”‘ Firefighters say most of the dead were in the old car. Fenty called for replacement of the 1000-series yesterday on MSNBC. There’s a WMATA board meeting today, and WTOP looks at what would happen if the cars were immediately pulled. Also WTTG-TV. READ LL’S GUIDE to avoiding 1000-series cars.
POOR RESPONSES TO OTHER OTHER SAFETY RECS—-WaTimes’ Sarah Abruzzese and Gary Emerling point out WMATA’s history of ignoring NTSB safety recommendations, whether for cost or other reasons. After the 2004 Woodley Park crash, the agency made two recommendations, in addition to retiring the 1000-series cars: ‘One said the agency should address maintenance procedures to reduce the potential for derailments. The second unfulfilled recommendation is that Metro should replace a type of rail-line switches, known as turnouts, that enable trains to switch from one set of tracks to another.’ Former NTSB exec Barry Sweedler says Metro’s not alone in being reticent to remove its ‘tombstone technology’ from the tracks: ‘Until you have a bunch of dead people, they don’t want to get pushed too hard.’
FIRST LAWSUIT—-Filed yesterday by parents of 15-year-old District resident Davonne Flanagan. It charges Metro with ‘negligent operation’ and ‘negligent maintenance.’ Writes WaPo: ‘Davonne was in the first car of the moving train, toward the back, when it struck; his leg was fractured, said his attorney, Lawrence Lapidus. Lapidus said the family is seeking $950,000 for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other restitution.’
THE BUREAUCRACY—-WaPo’s Ian Shapira tells the story of the family of crash victim Veronica DuBose—-among those ‘quietly wending their way through a puzzling and strangely mundane game of logistics. In the hours after learning that their daughter was one of the dead, DuBose family members confronted another painful truth: that no one was going to escort them through all the government hurdles and mind-numbing matters.’ Example: ‘They pulled up to the 4th Police District headquarters on Georgia Avenue. “We’re here to pick up some belongings,” YaVonne told the person at the front counter….”You have to bring the death certificate first,” the official told her. “And, I’m sorry for your loss.” The couple walked out empty-handed. “That’s what I don’t have time for!” YaVonne yelled.’ Good read.
John Kelly finds a ‘Sudden Desolation at Both Ends of Metro Trains.’ The questions running through commuter minds: ‘Do I sit in the front car or not? And what about the last one? Is it better to be the collider or the collidee? Dozens of tweets on the subject have been sent since the crash. Uneasy passengers joked about it as they waited for trains yesterday.’ Says one rider: ‘We have to be like good Boy Scouts and be prepared, but we’re not in control, which is kind of hard for people in Washington, D.C. Your life can change just like that.’ MORE RIDER REAX from WUSA-TV.
MORE MONEY, PLEASE—-The lede on Michael Laris‘ WaPo story pretty much nails it: ‘Do federal, state and local officials have the will to pay for a modernized, safe and expanding subway system?’ The Monday crash has folks wondering once again: Will dedicated funding ever happen? How ’bout this connection: ‘”Everybody knows that the 1000 Series needs to be replaced. We’ve been talking about it for years,” [WMATA board member [Chris Zimmerman] said…”It’s precisely the reason you need additional funding.'” Also NC8.
Robert McCartney, in his first WaPo metro column (besides his Sunday snoozer introduction), makes this point straight off: ‘It’s been frustrating this week listening to local politicians lament that Metro hasn’t received sufficient funding, given that they are the ones who could have provided it.’ His take: ‘The area must either ante up hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year, on top of what it’s already providing, or let Metro raise fares and reduce service, or both. Otherwise, the system will risk deteriorating from being a source of regional pride to one of disappointment.’ Another snoozer, mostly, but he makes a good point about the WMATA board’s closed-door Tuesday meeting: ‘Although privacy is justified sometimes for the sake of candor, the board should have had at least an hour of open give-and-take about safety issues, given the public’s intense interest.’
UNBELIEVABLE—-The family of Ana Fernandez, WTOP’s Kate Ryan reports, ‘have been getting hate-filled telephone messages about whether or not Fernandez, a mother of six, was a legal immigrant.’ For the record, her sister says, she was. Also NC8.
HMM—-WaPo reader points out ‘a basic weakness of the [Metro] system’s design: Humans should not be backing up computers. Computers are highly reliable, operating year after year without error. This can lull operators into a false sense of security. Then, when a computer malfunctions, there’s a good chance the operator will react slowly or not even notice the error….A better approach is to have humans operate the trains with the automated system as a backup to catch human error.’
Examiner‘s Bill Myers: ‘This week’s deadly Metro crash wreaked havoc with rush hour commutes, leaving travelers stuck on buses and trains for hours at a time while dealing with a tangle of contradictory instructions on how best to reach their destinations.’
WUSA-TV’s Dave Statter has recordings of emergency radio traffic and FEMS-shot video of the scene.
Fenty explains on WRC-TV why he said seven fatalities when there were already reports of nine: ‘There were only seven….In fact, the media was reporting it wrong.’
Red Line trains are running through the crash area during today’s rush hours, albeit single-tracked.
###THE REST OF THE NEWS###
Fenty quietly ordered $35M in immediate spending cuts in June 12 order, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘The Office of the State Superintendent of Education took the biggest hit, losing $4.4 million. The technology office budget was reduced by $4.3 million, the police department by $3.4 million and property management by $3.3 million.’ GOOD QUESTIONS, BOTH—-‘It is unknown whether the police cut will affect public safety services going into the traditionally high-crime summer….Nor is it clear why the mayor would cut $782,072 from the Department of Employment Services, when the agency is already $23 million short for the summer youth jobs program.’
Jonetta Rose Barras looks at the District’s current lousy fiscal state, alighting on an undercovered issue—-spending pressures (aka overspending)! The $87M figure leads her to this conclusion: ‘Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may want to reconsider bringing on board former D.C. City Administrator Dan Tangherlini as combination financial, management and performance czar.’ The solution? Cuts! ‘Some D.C. Council members are in serious denial. At-Large Councilman David Catania talked of using federal stimulus money to fill the gap. Ward 1’s Jim Graham spoke of raising taxes or other fees. Still other legislators reject any push for eliminating, as a start, the more than $20 million in earmarks to special interest groups approved for fiscal 2010. Dream, dream, dream. All they want to do is dream.’
Meanwhile, Vincent Gray signals to WaPo’s Tim Craig that tapping the budget reserve to cover the full $190M shortfall is not the obvious call you might think. ‘Gray said he’s exploring other strategies – perhaps involving major budget cuts this summer – to avoid having to take money from the reserve fund. One option involves shifting $190 million from the 2010 budget back to the current year’s spending plan. The Council would then have to reduce the 2010 spending plan by $340 million before they adjourn for summer recess.’ About that recess…’Gray said he’s envisions an extended session so members have more time to address the budget.’ SORRY, JAWB STAFFERS!
Craig asks, in District Notebook, is the DCGOP trying to soften up Phil Mendelson?
FIRST SYEP SCANDAL—-DOES has canceled a contract with summer jobs placement firm, Neibauer reports, for ‘“improperly and unlawfully misrepresenting” that the youth he placed with city government contractors would count toward a first-source agreement, which requires a contractor to hire a certain number of D.C. residents.’ About 100 kids have been sent home, with pay, to await new placements. Writes Joe Walsh to David Hoffman of Job Force: ‘Even more distressing, you have callously used Summer Youth Employment Program participants to unwittingly assist in perpetrating this deception on vendors.’ Hoffman seen in Marion Barry‘s office!
Board of Elections and Ethics files their court argument on whether gay-marriage referendum proponents should be able to ask a judge to block implementation of the law while legal issues are sorted out. Melissa Giamo in WaTimes recounts the board’s positions: ‘”Petitioners have essentially waived their chance to challenge the substance of the disputed legislation by filing their proposed referendum with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics some three weeks after the District approved it.”…”The court should not override the normal legislative process, at least without some reason more compelling than petitioners disagreement with properly enacted legislation.”‘
Challenge to Bishop Harry Jackson‘s short District residency filed with Board of Elections and Ethics by erstwhile council candidate and neighborhood activist Cary Silverman and Shaw activist Martin Moulton. The challenge, if successful, would knock Jackson’s name of the gay-marriage referendum proposal (there are six other, unchallenged proponents). Says Silverman to Craig: ‘If I hopped into my car, drove out to Annapolis and tried to rewrite the laws of Maryland, I’d expect them to come down on me like a ton of brick….This is a matter of principle – we don’t want residents of other states interfering with our laws.’
UH, TIM?—-Who is ‘Martin Moulet’? And LL noticed you mentioned a ‘Neal Albert’ in you budget post yesterday. (It’s been since corrected.)
Arrests in two shootings, per WaPo: ‘Troy Renard Thomas, 18, of the 3000 block of Third Street NW was charged with first-degree premeditated murder while armed in the shooting Monday of Ryan Randy Trotman in the 600 block of Quebec Place NW. In the other case, Robert Larry Brock, 28, of Beltsville has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder while armed in the shooting of Marcus Robertson on May 15 in Columbia Heights.’
Amanda Hess, WCP’s Sexist, covers a lively ANC squabble in Ward 5: 5C Commissioner Gigi Ransom has been censured and accused of a possible hate crime, in part for this e-mail to a fellow commissioner: ‘Please know, I really don’t appreciate a white man, especially one who is gay, who gained his civil rights on the back of slaves & those of color who fought in the civil rights movement trying to control me or devalue my efforts. I am not a slave.’
Roll Call covers Eastern Market reopening: ‘“The only time that I was in doubt was when I was watching the market in flames and I did not know if they were going to be able to save the building,” Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells (D) says. “After we determined that the building did not have to be demolished for being unsafe, then I knew that we would rebuild it.”’
Corporations step up to fight AIDS in the District—-one of three cities targeted. Writes Darryl Fears in WaPo, ‘In an announcement on Capitol Hill at its annual conference, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — comprising Pfizer, the National Basketball Association, Facebook, Nike, Nokia and many others — said that the District, New York and Oakland, Calif., will be allowed to tap the marketing expertise of its members while shaping campaigns promoting AIDS prevention and treatment….The three cities were selected because they are among the 20 with the highest rates of HIV and AIDS in the United States and because the corporate coalition has a relationship with city officials.’
Check out White House-produced video on green jobs, featuring a D.C.-based rehab project, DDOE Director George Hawkins, and Hawkins’ fabulous hair:
Gary Imhoff highlights this Monday press release from the Peaceoholics: ‘Tune into WUSA 9 TODAY @ 5:30PM. Peaceoholics Youth from Ward 1 speak to WUSA’s Bruce Johnson addressing the challenges of being predators and victims of Violence!’
Gotta love WaTimes’ Tim Lemke: If anyone was going to find a Sports and Entertainment Commission angle on the Metro crash, it’s him.
Biz Journal: Board of Trade says businesses are a lot more optimistic about the economic recovery. ‘The index, a survey that asks D.C. executives to assess the region’s current and future economic conditions, jumped 29 points from February to June of this year, the board reported Wednesday. The first survey, conducted in February, established a baseline for the index of 40. In June, the index shot up to 69.’
Do check out Lois Romano‘s WaPo look at the making of Michelle Obama‘s agenda. It mentions top aide Jocelyn Frye, ‘whom Obama met at Harvard Law School and who is the first lady’s policy director. A family law advocate and expert on equal opportunity employment law, Frye is also a link to the D.C. community. She grew up in Washington and still lives a few blocks from her parents’ house in the Michigan Park area of Northeast. She has pointed the first lady to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and schools.’
Blogger notices more walk-your-bike signs around town.
Breadline could reopen today.
Mark Sanford scandal leads NPR to mention this: ‘Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty has been criticized in recent months for taking secret trips, including one to Dubai and another to China – both with his family, and both largely paid for by the host countries. But he remained in contact with top staff, and critics have largely focused on his acceptance of paid travel from foreign governments.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Health hearing on B18-239 (“Unused Pharmaceutical Safe Disposal Act of 2009”), JAWB 500; Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary and Government Operations and the Environment joint roundtable on “Disposition of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Apparatus to the Dominican Republic,” JAWB 412; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-103 (“Insurance Claims Consumer Protection Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 120; 2 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs hearing on B18-235 (“Veteran License Plates Establishment Act of 2009”), JAWB 412; 6:30 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on B18-57 (“Residential Parking Protection Pilot Act of 2009”), Columbia Heights Community Center.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:30 a.m.: guest, Morning Joe, MSNBC; 6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor with Barbara Harrison, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 3 p.m.: remarks, MPD homicide update, 14th Street and Columbia Road NW; 4:15 p.m.: remarks, Benning Terrace field ribbon cutting, 4450 G St. SE (behind the rental office).