Metro train in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Darrow Montgomery/file

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Welcome to another week, readers. We hope you and your belongings didn’t blow away with this weekend’s strong winds! Now on to the news you may have missed while celebrating an early St. Patrick’s Day at some parades.

All Aboard the Automatic

For the first time in 14 years, Metro’s Automatic Train Operations system will be turned back on. Officials expect the system to be set up on all lines by December and believe it could be in place on the Red Line a few weeks ahead of that deadline. Returning to automatic operations, Metro officials say, will make for smoother, faster, and more fuel-efficient rides, and will eliminate the “human element” that could cause issues if a train operator isn’t paying attention.

Trains have been manually operated since 2009, following a crash near Fort Totten. The train detection system did not detect a stationary train and a moving train hit it at nearly 50 miles per hour, leaving nine people dead and many more injured. The train detection system is separate from the ATO system and multiple investigations showed that the ATO system played no role in the collision. Trains on at least some lines in multiple large transit systems across the country are automatically operated without incident.

Thank You, Judy Heumann

Judith Heumann, a longtime D.C. resident often called a mother of the disability rights movement, died at a D.C. hospital on Saturday at the age of 75.  In 2007, then-Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed Heumann to be the first director of the District’s Department on Disability Services, and while we here at City Paper will always salute those who spent time running a D.C. cabinet office, Heumann’s legacy and work for and with disabled people extends far beyond the boundaries of the District government. 

Heumann, who grew up in Brooklyn, used a wheelchair after contracting polio as a young child and was denied access to a classroom when school officials deemed her a “fire hazard.” Heumann later sued New York’s Board of Education when she was denied a teaching license on the basis of her disability and founded multiple disability rights organizations. In 1977, she and other activists organized a sit-in at a San Francisco federal building to demand the implementation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, one of the first pieces of federal legislation that would guarantee rights to those with disabilities. Its signing ultimately led to the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Heumann moved to D.C. in 1993 to work on disability issues in the Clinton and Obama administrations, at the State Department, and at the World Bank.

Among those remembering Heumann are President Joe Biden, Barack and Michelle Obama, and former ANC commissioner Anna Landre

Stomping on Statehood

As if President Biden’s tweet in which he announced he’d block the implementation of D.C.’s revised criminal code weren’t humiliating enough, House leaders and other bureaucrats hit the talk-show circuit to express their support for the president and roll back the rights of D.C. residents. 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told CNN he still supports D.C. statehood, but when asked whether Biden’s statement undermined House Democrats efforts, he replied “not at all” and seemed relatively unfazed by the consequences the president’s actions will have. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy hit CNBC to talk about the bill, which he mistakenly believes will decriminalize carjackings. (Kev, you can read the actual text online before your next appearance.)

Even former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson offered his opinion, telling a Meet the Press panel that Biden and Mayor Muriel Bowser were “absolutely right” to push back against the much-needed updating of the criminal code, since appearing soft on crime can cause Democrats to lose elections. Sure…

As it turns out, we won’t even have to worry about the Senate’s actions, or Biden’s, at least not right now. On Monday morning, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson announced he was pulling the revised criminal code legislation from the Senate, though he’s not sure of the legal precedent and whether he’ll be able to do that under the rules established in the Home Rule Act.

—Caroline Jones (tips?

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • D.C. will close all of its COVID centers by the end of March, according to DC Health, due to a drop in cases, vaccine uptake, and the increase in availability of vaccines and at-home testing. [DCist]
  • Attorneys for Micah Avery, who is accused of spray painting “Yall not tired yet?” near the Lincoln Memorial in 2020, are challenging what they believe is unequal racial representation on D.C. juries in federal court. Avery’s attorneys say juries in U.S. District Court in D.C. are missing about one-third of the Black and African American adults who are eligible to serve. [Post]
  • Family and friends of Alaunte Scott, 22, attended a vigil Sunday night to honor the young man shot and killed by two deputy U.S. marshals and to call for transparency and justice. His mother said the marshals shot her son “seven times, in his back and in his side.” [NBC Washington]
  • Another familiar face is leaving NBC4. Longtime anchor Pat Lawson Muse will retire at the end of the month. [NBC Washington, WTOP, Twitter]

By City Paper staff (tips?

Alex Koma is away from his desk. Loose Lips Links will return on March 9.

By Alex Koma (tips?

A Different Kind of Buzz: Drunk Fruit Brings Asian-Inspired Drinks to the DMV

Since coming on the scene in 2020, Drunk Fruit, a hard seltzer company with Asian-inspired […]

  • The best thing about Post critic Tim Carmen’s time in Guy Fieri’s DC Kitchen and Bar was that his bartender hit on the over/under bet on the Pistons/Magic game. The food, Carmen writes, was almost completely slathered in bourbon brown sugar barbecue sauce. [Post]
  • Check out these bakeries that are selling hamantaschen for the Jewish holiday Purim, which starts today, March 6. [Washingtonian]

By City Paper staff (tips?

Credit: DJ Corey Photography

More Than Fabulous Footwear, Kinky Boots Offers Still-Needed Gender Commentary

The factory line that reassembles film comedies into Broadway musicals has produced its fair share […]

Credit: Jean Marc

DMV Native Raheem DeVaughn on Healing, Therapy, and New Music

It seems only appropriate that I speak with D.C.’s self-proclaimed “Love King,” Raheem DeVaughn on […]

Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Leslye Penelope Imbues Black Broadway With Literal Magic

All too often works of fiction set in D.C. take place in the world of […]

  • Today one could easily claim that “No one has done more for more aspects of our art scene than printmaker Lou Stovall,” but Washington Post art critic Paul Richard wrote this in 1974. For the next 50 years, Stovall continued to inspire and support D.C.’s art scene. The printmaker died on March 3 at his Washington home. [Post]
  • New York-based Obie Award winner Ping Chong and Company comes to Reston to partner with local theater artist Tuyết Thị Phạm to create Generations Rise: Reston, a dramatic retelling of real-life stories from five Restonians circa pre- and post-pandemic. [DC Theater Arts
  • Sugar high: A new, and designed to be ultra-grammable, interactive candy wonderland is coming to Tysons Corner Center later this month. It’s like Candy Land come to life. [WTOP]

By Sarah Marloff (tips?

  • Chloe Ricketts became the youngest person ever signed to a NWSL contract. The 15-year-old midfielder signed a three-year deal with the Washington Spirit Friday. [ESPN, NPR]
  • Dan Snyder’s demands for legal protections after the sale of his Washington Commanders has so angered other NFL owners that they’re again considering a vote to force him to sell the team. [Post]
  • The Howard men’s basketball team, the 2023 MEAC regular season champions, is looking forward to the conference tournament this week, and possibly a trip to the NCAA tournament. [DCist]
  • If you weren’t missing Trea Turner before he left the Nats for free agency, you will now. [Post]

By City Paper staff (tips?

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