In its most recent issue, the InTowner fronts news stories on the deployment of police officers on foot patrols and a neighborhood dustup on P Street NW. Strong editorial decisions, those. Cop deployment and noise problems on commercial corridors are staples for loyal readers of the 38-year-old monthly.
Only the InTowner‘s most dedicated readers—-and I’m one!—-caught the scoop buried deep inside, past the P.L. Wolff editorial, past the crime blotter, and past the community announcements. As it turns out, your quirkiest community rag has dipped into the field of accountability journalism, under the following headline:
“Mayor’s Pledge That Potholes Will be Filled Within 48 Hours Overly Ambitious; Vast Numbers & Weather Conspire to Thwart Good Intentions.”
The story describes how the InTowner set out to test Mayor Adrian Fenty’s promise that potholes registered with the mayor’s call center would be fixed within 48 hours. So the paper got to work, calling in a nasty little crater at a location unspecified in the story. The I team waited 48 hours and the pothole was untouched. DDOT blamed the weather, stating that the street was too wet to handle a pothole repair.
But like any respectable outlet, the InTowner stayed on the story. It called again after getting the excuse from DDOT. This time, the reporter learned that it would take several days more to bang out the street repair. Why? “[W]e were informed that 48 hours is simply an impossible time frame to meet given that this is now ‘pothole season’ and that there are thousands or reports for repairs pending.”
One detail that the InTowner might have noted in its coverage: A March 1 DDOT press release indicates only that the agency “works to fill reported potholes within 48 hours.” A goal, in other words—-not a pledge.