Transit roundup: Marion Barry's long shadow since 'Dream City'
How has Washington, D.C. changed since the days of Marion Barry's reign as mayor in 1994? Last night the Post's Mike DeBonis moderated a panel discussion with the two men who wrote Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D.C., a definitive chronicle on Barry's past rocky years in power (a new copy will cost you about $80 on Amazon, but apparently an e-book is on the way). Authors Tom Sherwood and Harry Jaffe both have strong personalities that they weren't remotely afraid to express when chatting in a crowded basement room at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library last night. Neither author thought the D.C. of today was the same as the one they wrote extensively about in their book. Barry remains politically active today but hardly occupies the spotlight he once did in the '90s, despite the long shadow those years cast over our city today.
"I bicycled over here in bike lanes," remarked Jaffe, who spoke about how transit had changed throughout the District in the last decade as neighborhoods transformed and developed.
The night's conversation quickly turned to politics new and old, as Jaffe and Sherwood talked ANC commissioners to councilmembers, mayors to D.C.'s Congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. How to build D.C. pride? How to root out corruption in our politicians? To spur on engagement among the city's transient population? They delved into the cultural issues surrounding race and class that still affect D.C. — acknowledging, appropriately enough, that they discussed these topics on stage as three white men — as well as emphasized just how transformative Adrian Fenty's years as mayor truly were. Sherwood was also quick to point to Fenty's impersonality that triggered his defeat against current Mayor Vince Gray this year. As the two white-haired men fielded questions, a recurring theme emerged that echoed the passion of our current mayor: the District lacks representation and is subject to the control of the U.S. Congress. Sherwood brought up an accurate and biting phrase he'd repeated many times before: "The nation's capital is the most un-American place in America."
Elsewhere in the realms of transportation, urbanism, and real estate...
More Capital Bikeshare: DCist observes that Arlington County approved plans to expand the program by 30 stations and 190 bikes. Expect them next summer.
Choo choo for the Rail~Volution Express: A national transportation conference comes to D.C. from Sunday through Wednesday. By all accounts, it's marvelous ... if you can afford the price tag. Three local sessions on Wednesday, however, are completely free.
The troubling case of @DCFireEMS: A wonderful resource of a Twitter account became entangled in D.C.politics — and our government's resistance to offering up information freely, despite positive feedback all around. Read Atlantic Cities' (and former TBDer) Sommer Mathis for a breakdown of what all this means: "The D.C. government is now sending a clear message: it doesn't think the public has a right to know what's happening."
Doubts about the District Department of the Environment: Over at the City Paper, Lydia DePillis reports on whether the half-decade-old DDOE can force big companies like Pepco to comply with clean-up laws ... and why environmentalists are scrutinizing the idea as much as anyone. District residents are frankly, DePillis notes, "not sure they trust the District to watchdog a corporation that has donated over $36,000 to D.C. electoral campaigns over the last ten years, not to mention a constant lobbying presence — after the city had documented numerous releases of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls into the environment during the ’80s and ’90s." Valid concerns.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission will get that $40 million the state was withholding, after all: "There should be absolutely zero holdup," a NVTC spokesperson tells the Post regarding the state's pressure to get the transit group to sign an agreement "that would give state officials more influence."
"A significant amount of highway funding is no longer provided by highway users." Streetsblog D.C. shares news of a rather worthwhile new GAO report worth remembering when we talk transit in D.C. and elsewhere around the country.
Why we can't have nice things: Councilmember Tommy Wells is leading the charge against luxury vehicles in government, WAMU reports.
The case for good community rec centers: Greater Greater Washington says we should forget that whole grass-cutting contract that was in the news and realize that the D.C. Department of Parks and Rec is "severely underfunded."
How Georgia Avenue moved away from those outdoor heroin markets and danger of its "not-so-distant past": The Post takes on the subject of how Georgia Avenue neighborhood is revitalizing itself, with special focus on the new Georgia Ave/Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail, the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force, and the city's "unofficial mayor" Sylvia Robinson, who helped lead the charge to save Lower Georgia's Great Streets funding not too long ago. As a Petworth resident, I was happy to read about the different steps and activism happening here. In related news: Has the development at Walter Reed kickstarted the Georgia Avenue streetcar proposal?
Read more daily transportation news at TBD On Foot.
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