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Potomac Confidential

Slicing and Dicing of the Issues People Are Talking About

Marc Fisher
Post Metro Columnist
Thursday, March 24, 2005; 12:00 PM

Potomac Confidential fills the midday lull with discussion by Metro columnist Marc Fisher of the latest news and a rigorous slicing and dicing of the issues that define who we are and where we live.

Today Fisher will talk about the state of the (D.C.) mayor, the possible split-up of Loudoun County, and the latest on Terri Schiavo.

Marc Fisher (The Washington Post)

This Week's Columns:Many in Loudoun Strive to Keep Sense of Balance (Post, March 24)

In Loudoun, The Discontented Cry 'Secession' (Post, March 22)

In his weekly show, Fisher veers wildly from serious probing to silly prattle, and is open to topics local, national, personal and more.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Marc Fisher: This is what they call spring?
Warm up by the video hearth as we reheat some of the day's news.
How about the mayor's state of the city address--was this the sound of Tony Williams reconsidering and getting back into the '06 mayoralty race? Could he win a third term? Who would beat him?
It's only March and already the candidates for governor of Virginia are promising to fix all the roads, build countless new schools and eliminate pretty much all taxes forever. By summer, they'll be doing the floors in your house.
The Terri Schiavo case: Now that Democrats are the defenders of federalism and Republicans have taken on the task of demolishing states' rights, will the planet continue to spin on its axis?
This week's columns looked at the budding battle in Loudoun County over development and the notion of western Loudoun seceding and forming its own county--Catoctin County. Could it really happen? Should it?
On to your thoughts, but first, the Yay and Nay of the Week:
Yay to the federal judges from both parties who have stood tall against the Republicans and Democrats in Congress who are so desperate to prove their bona fides to so-called "values voters" that they will play with the emotions of a family in the deepest pain. The good news in this week's Terri Schiavo saga is the powerful majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they want the government to butt out of these most sensitive end of life questions.
Nay to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles and Mayor Anthony Williams' six-year effort to bring that woeful department into the modern era. Despite all sorts of hoopla and bravado about improvements, I experienced the same old two-hour wait at the inspection station last week, and this week, I fell for DMV's latest trick: A hearing notice on a violation I received sent me to 301 C Street, where I was told that nah, the department had sent out thousands of notices sending folks there, but the hearings are really up on K Street. Apparently, there are hundreds of people a day making the mad rush across town because the DMV can't be bothered to put the right address on its hearing notices. Amazing.
Pick Story of the Week: No matter what else you do today, read Darragh Johnson's extraordinary tale of a teacher's attempt to reach kids on the hoops team at Hine Junior High in the District. This story alone is worth whatever you pay for the newspaper for six months.
Your turn.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Marc,
I know this is not your beat, but what is up with the Schiavo case?
Arch conservatives who support states' rights and espouse less government intrusion into our lives, are the ones pushing for federal intervention into the case. They are making a mockery of our Constitution and everything they normally stand for. Will this backfire on them?

Marc Fisher: I think what we've learned in the past few years is that the true conservatives are a minority in their own movement, and that the ideals of states' rights and individual liberties are really secondary in the minds of most folks who call themselves conservative. On issue after issue, the Republicans turn to the same kind of big government solutions that they have always derided Democrats for favoring. The Schiavo case is just the latest and most dramatic example, but we've seen this in the abortion debate, in education policy (No Child Left Behind and the testing mania), and in the homeland security sector.


Southern Maryland: Any comment on the wildly incongruent headlines re: saving a 15-pound lobster, and the Supreme Court denying an appeal to re-insert Terry Schiavo's feeding tube? What do other countries think of us?

I recall a local newspaper a few years ago reporting similar stories -- one headline about a homeless man dying of cold, next to an article about a woman rescuing an injured duck. Go figure.

Do we really have our priorities in order?

Marc Fisher: Ouch--that's a coarse comparison. I've always been told that the bigger the lobster, the less succulent the taste. So maybe it's no loss to the dining table to save the life of the lobster.
As for Schiavo, the real tragedy at this point is the internecine battle within the family. Without that split, Terri Schiavo would have been unplugged quite some time ago, and without any public debate. So this whole national uproar has really been the result of a custody question.


Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C.: Isn't it ironic that people who call themselves Christians don't want to let Terri Schiavo go home to God?

Marc Fisher: You can play the religion card in any direction you wish on this one. Your way makes sense, but of course so does the idea that life is sacrosanct. But then we get into questions about what life is and how to measure its end. And there, at the edge of science, we're back on the turf of faith. What's been striking to me is how many doctors in the Congress are willing to put aside their medical learning and put their religious concerns (and, to be fair, their political motives too) at the forefront.


Aspen Hill, Md.: How long can Tom DeLay hide behind the skirts of Terri Schiavo? Will it be possible for him to continue to avoid talking about his lapse of ethics either way this goes? For a party who cries about the lack of values in Washington, I would think the GOP would cut him loose before he does anymore damage. Using a sick woman (and this guy HATES women) to save himself if beyond the pale.
That aside, do you know where he lives so I can go over and borrow a cup of gall?

Marc Fisher: I'd be wary of borrowing a cup of anything from a guy who makes his living selling exterminating fluids.
The Republicans have generally jettisoned their wayward leaders only when there's a sexual misdeed at issue. The kind of ethical problems that DeLay faces would likely have to result in a criminal conviction before his pals in Congress would give him the boot.


Somewhere, Md.: Marc, do you know if Gov. Ehrlich has a living will? Maybe it says not to resuscitate him but save the hair. We can preserve it and donate it to a freak museum.

Marc Fisher: I certainly hope that whatever plans Gov. Haircut has made for the hereafter that he wills his do to the state of Maryland, which I know will care for it well for decades to come. That is, unless a developer wants it, in which case the hair would be sold pronto, as the governor would have wished.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Marc,
It seems to me that whether you like Anthony Williams' style or personality, D.C. is a helluva lot better now than it was when he first took over. I think any credible candidate for mayor will have to admit that. Sure, we can complain about the city services that have not improved (I also waited two hours at the DMV the last time I got my car inspected), and persistent pockets of poverty and lack of opportunity remain, but most Washingtonians are objectively speaking, better now than they were under any other mayoral regime in recent memory.

Marc Fisher: You're right, of course--the improvement overall in the city's ability to serve its citizens, and in the city's economic health, is extraordinary. And Williams never gets enough credit for the remake of so many parts of the city, not only downtown, but in some of the most troubled neighborhoods.
But that said, don't expect the slew of candidates to credit Williams with any of that. To the contrary, at least a few of the candidates are running on an expressly anti-Bowtie platform, trying to divide the city by the usual categories of race and class, painting Williams as the tool of the rich white establishment. I think that's a huge misreading of who now lives and votes in the city, and the winner of next year's mayor's race will actually be the candidate whose vision most closely mimics Williams'.


Middleburg, Va.: The Monday column quoted Joe Keating talking about how the West was the Quaker pro-Union, anti-slave section of the county while the East was full of pro-Confederate slaveholders. This is not really true. While the northern part of the West around Waterford and Lovettsville might fit Keating's description, there were plenty of big plantations in the Southern and Central portions of the West and the Confederate Mosby's Raiders terrorized Union forces throughout the West. Today's debate on secession is not a result of historic tensions between the East and West, but between citizens trying to protect their quality of life against non-resident businesses trying to make a buck before moving on to the next County.

Marc Fisher: The East-West divide in Loudoun does not exactly fit the Civil War split between Union loyalists and Confederates, but there's enough truth to Keating's construct to make it fascinating and relevant. The topography and traditions of the land did indeed make for larger plantations in the county's east, which was slaveholding, whereas the west was largely smaller farms with few if any slaves.
But you're right--the real divide in Loudoun is between those who want to cling to open space and those who want to cash in on the remaining land.


Dayton, Ohio: Hi Marc -- recent Washington expat. Hear, hear for the "close-in" agriculture strategy described today. Simple logic -- lots of people in D.C. have the money to pay for exotic, organic, artisanal, heirloom or just plain carefully grown food. The best way to preserve the true, working small family farm is exactly what you describe today, as an integral part of the exurbs/suburbs of a major metro area.
We need to ditch the subsidies for growing commodities, and make sure that local tax laws help these people, who really represent the homesteading spirit of the frontier, maintain a commercially viable business that also has a great social value.

Marc Fisher: Thanks--the so-called new agriculture, focused on serving urbanites with farmers' markets and organics for restaurants, makes economic sense in these close-in semi-rural areas, whereas old traditional commodity crops no longer make any sense. But let's be real--both require government support because neither comes close to making the money that a field full of townhouses would bring in profits for a developer.


Logan Circle, Washington, D.C.: Working at the Post you must notice the that McPherson and Franklin Squares have become a disgrace to the city. I walk my girlfriend to the bus stop at McPherson Square she uses to get to work on weekends and can't help but notice the trash in the park. I also noticed well-intentioned people handing out bagged meals to the homeless in the park. While they mean well they are providing the homeless with even more trash to throw on the ground and giving them a reason to congregate there. If they really want to help the homeless they should let them know where the shelters are in the city. Not only are the parks disgusting, but people, especially, women feel threatened having to run the gauntlet. This issue would be great for one of the mayoral wannabes to take up.

Marc Fisher: Don't hold your breath. You're far more likely to hear mayoral candidates attack Williams for having closed downtown shelters as part of his effort to move the homeless out of the city center and into better shelters where they can get treatment and counseling and job training. But Williams is right--yes, downtown is where the food is and where the contributions from office workers are, but in the long run, the city and the homeless alike will be far better off getting out of downtown and into more humane and effective shelters.


Alexandria, Va.: Speaking of Schiavo -- a link to a Web page offering living will forms. Don't let/make Congress legislate over your barely living body!

U.S. Living Will Registry

Marc Fisher: Thanks--good advice.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Marc,
The Schiavo case is a tragedy but it has had the beneficial effect of shedding light on a potential solution to the crisis in medical care this country is facing. Apparently, in addition to being experts in the law, members of Congress are also medical experts (particularly in neurology). So expert are these folks that on the basis of a one-hour videotape of Ms. Schiavo they are able to come up with an accurate diagnosis of her neurological injuries and the prognosis for recovery. As opposed to those quacks with medical degrees that spent hours and hours examining Ms. Schiavo only to reach conclusions that were clearly wrong. We need to encourage the citizenry to take advantage of this pool of expert medical talent by sending charts, videos, test results, etc., to their elected representatives for an accurate diagnosis of their medical problems.

Marc Fisher: Hey, it's the new thing in medicine. If docs can diagnose and treat via e-mail, as the big insurance companies are encouraging them to do, then why can't senators and congressmen do the same, right?
Seriously, it's been jawdropping to watch how many doctors--both in and out of Congress--are willing to spout their expertise on Schiavo's condition on the basis of, um, nothing. Doesn't speak well for the medical profession, does it?


Washington, D.C.: There's a CAT scan of Terri Schiavo's brain up somewhere -- there's almost nothing left in the areas which control cognitive function, just spinal fluid. She's already dead -- it's only her body which is being kept animate, like some sort of mindless zombie.
Me, I'm very glad that both my parents and husband know my wish NOT to be kept animate in that situation, and can be trusted to abide by it. Poor woman. Hopefully, her soul has already gone to wherever souls go after death (assuming they go anywhere, or even exist), and isn't trapped there in that horror.

Marc Fisher: Did you hear the audiotape of Schiavo's cries and laughs and so on? It's really very compelling and it makes you want to believe that there is something sentient in that body. But it turns out, as Dr. Wolfson, the neurologist who did the closest study of Schiavo, explained, that people in a vegetative state make those noises all the time, and quite randomly. Terri Schiavo Case: Guardian at Law Live Online, March 23) The whole thing is so terribly sad.


Northern Va.: Marc,

I read your article on the Loudoun County split and although I feel that it may actually be the right thing for the residents of Western Loudoun, I can't help but wonder, if it happens, what will stop other areas from trying it as well?

We can't just have areas that are upset over growth breaking away from the larger because sometimes the sum of all the parts does not always equal the whole.

Marc Fisher: Quite true, though there really aren't other areas in this region that are in the same situation that Loudoun faces. But you're right to question the secession movement. As much as I find it exciting and courageous, I do have questions about how such a county would survive on a largely rural economy. How, for example, could a Catoctin County provide the quality of schools that people in this region demand with a tax base that limits itself largely to small-scale farming? One possible answer would be to include Leesburg in the Catoctin boundaries, but that would raise a whole 'nother set of issues about expansion of the city and then you'd be back in the same development quandary that now faces Loudoun.


Brandermill, Va.: How does Sen. Russ Potts feel about the Catoctin secession movement?

Marc Fisher: I don't know, but my bet is that he loves the idea, at least in theory. I will ask next time I talk to him.


Waldorf, Md.: Re: Western Loudoun's secession. Let them secede! It seems like the county really is split down the middle, with VERY different ideas about how to manage not only the present, but the future. Why should people in the rural tier be forced to follow the whims of people who love suburbs? I know that happens everywhere all across this great land of ours, but why not allow these people to take a stand, and empower them to chart their own course (or rather, stay the course versus paving over it).

Marc Fisher: Right--if the issue is self-determination, it's clear that people in western Loudoun don't have that now and would have it if they went out on their own. But as I said above, after the big victory, they'd have a very tall order of figuring out how to pay for good schools, roads and so on.


Frederick, Md.: Oh, keep on developing! Bring on the soylent green!

Marc Fisher: Soylent green is......(Don't say it!)


D.C. DMV: Marc,
Your last-minute dash across town isn't new. I received a ticket in D.C. in 1994 and had the same thing happen to me. I showed up on C Street (as the ticket said to do) only to be told to go to K Street ... and I wouldn't call the two locations within walking distance of each other.

I think D.C. symbolizes the age-old saying ... the more things change, the more they just stay the same. Incompetence then, incompetence still today.

Marc Fisher: The DMV is such a disappointment, though, because Williams and his best people really put an enormous amount of executive energy into making it work, and for a while it looked like things were really getting better. In some ways, they did. The Georgetown satellite office works beautifully, for example. And you can easily order registration renewals online. But the inspection station is a pathetic joke--workers randomly wandering the lot, chatting instead of doing their work. And this nonsense about routinely sending people to the wrong place for hearings is so stupid as to defy explanation.


Takoma Park, Md.: I am a big fan of Mayor Williams. I think he has done a great job for this city. Not much to compare to prior, but very good nonetheless. Is he definitely going to running for reelection, and who is most likely to oppose him? And if he does run what do you feel are his chances for re-election? Thank you.

Marc Fisher: My bet is that the mayor will not run for a third term. He said on WTOP this morning that he has already made up his mind about what he will do and he's just not saying. That should tell us that he is not running, but maybe I'm wrong. Surely the weak field of candidates running to replace him must weigh heavily on Williams' sense of pride and accomplishment.
If he does run, especially against this weak and large field, he wins.


Washington, DC: Marc...I really enjoy your writing !;

On a totally different subject (need something fun to take my mind off the past weeks events)...who do you have in your Final Four of the mens NCAA tournament ?

Go Heels !;


Marc Fisher: Illinois, Louisville, NC, Duke.
Illinois wins.
Though at this point, it's those Mountaineers I'd love to see marching forward.


Silver Spring, Md.: Marc, what's up with the switch to put on the ballot in Maryland a prohibition against the sale of park lands? Does Gov. Haircut think we Marylanders are going to support him on this?

Marc Fisher: No, the gov and the Republicans in Annapolis realized that they are on the wrong side of the issue in the public's view and so they decided to defuse the issue and strip the Democrats of an easy campaign issue. Now the governor can claim to be an environmentalist even as he spent his first term looking for ways to undo Glendening's efforts to preserve state lands.


Washington, D.C.: Haven't you heard Marc? With the missile defense system floundering, we are counting on Gov. Erlich's hair to protect the National Capital Region in the event of an attack.

Marc Fisher: Hair Wars. Now there's a defensive shield we can all get behind, at a fraction of the cost of the Reagan-era Star Wars shield.


National Zoo, Washington, D.C.: Re: Public vs. private stadium financing
I believe the mayor once said, when responding the chairlady's demand of private financing, he never ruled out private financing and he's confident deals would surface soon. Now we've got two certified plans but it seemed that the chairlady/council weren't crazy about neither. is this the end of private financing? was this nothing but a waste of everybody's time?

Marc Fisher: It was a complete waste of time and everyone but Linda Cropp knew that from the start, because, as Jack Evans and others tried over and over to explain to Cropp, the government can borrow money at a much cheaper rate than can any private entity, so private financing will always be more expensive than public financing.
That said, there were deals that made some sense for the city, if the city were ready to move ahead on developing the whole area around the new ballpark. But the city does not appear to be ready to take that step, so the method that now makes the most sense is the original plan--public financing, followed by private development of the area around the stadium.


Clifton, Va.: If Bill First ever leaves the Senate and practices medicine again he will never see me in his office even if he was the last doctor on the face of the earth. The quack!
I'd go to my witch doctor before I see the senator.

Marc Fisher: I hear he's a very nice man and a good doctor, and remember he did save somebody's life in the Capitol a couple of years ago. But I don't think neurology is his bag.


Atlanta, Ga.: One big thing NO ONE is discussing is a huge issue in this country -- rationing of health care. Every society/country does it, and we don't think we do. Terri Schiavo has been in this state for 15 years. Who is paying for her health care? And what could we be doing with that money had she not been in that state? Frankly you can pull the plug on me when I am like that -- and use the funds you might have used on me for something more helpful than keeping me alive via a feeding tube.
We just aren't really discussing things, it seems to me, that are relevant -- including that the Congress has absolutely no business in this at all.

Marc Fisher: The number I've been eager to see is the bottom line on Schiavo's care. I did read that the hospice care costs about $80,000 a year, but that story also said that the hospice was eating a good chunk of the costs above that figure.
Of course we ration care, but we do so very dishonestly for fear of rocking the political boat. That said, it's very hard to come up with a fair rationing system that doesn't just give more and better care to those who can afford it.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Marc,
How can the same people who are pushing for Terri Schiavo to remain tube fed be in favor of capital punishment? At least the Catholic Church (not my favorite club) is opposed to capital punishment while pushing to "save Terri" (for what, I ask)

Marc Fisher: Why is consistency important to Catholics but not to fundamentalists? Why does a culture of life not have room for the wretched souls who commit capital crimes?
And isn't the faith position that the spousal relationship is sacred and therefore trumps even the parent-child relationship?


Chantilly, Va.: I thought nothing was more important than the union between a man and a woman. Seems like the Democrats are now the ones who are championing marriage rights. God, us gay people are screwed!

Marc Fisher: That's why the gay lobby's strategy is off. The more effective move would be to argue that government has no role to play in the marriage business, that marriage should be left entirely to faith communities. That would appeal to the hardcore religious and would open the door to gays to marry within gay-friendly denominations.


The Hill: You would not believe all the calls coming in to save Terri. Women on the phone crying, it's sad. The whole thing is sad. I think more people called then when AARP advertised that there was a "plan" for Social Security (and there isn't) and to call your rep's!

Marc Fisher: I believe it. This is the perfect sort of issue to galvanize the true believers. Of course Schiavo's situation is ultimately as gray as it gets, but you can also look at it as the essential black-white issue: She's breathing and is therefore alive, and if they keep the tube out, she will die. So if your analysis stops after the live-die dichotomy, then this is an easy one to get all riled up about.


Baltimore, Md.: After lampooning the Congress and the president over intervening in the Schiavo case, Jon Stewart closed his Daily Show segment on Monday night by saying:

"If you have been wondering how sick you have to be before Congress does something about your health care, now you know."

Marc Fisher: Very good.


Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Am I the only one that finds it ironic that Terri Shaivo is in the state she's in from complications due an eating disorder? She was starving herself long before any of this came up.

Marc Fisher: Sad and ironic indeed. But the neurologists say that at this stage, there are no sensations of hunger or thirst, and likely no sensations of any kind, because there's insufficient brain activity to receive and synthesize the neural impulses.


Re: National Zoo: Which reminds me, they've killed another animal over there this week (the apparently healthy and youngish camel). We really need to put a sign with flippable numbers at the front gate that says "It's been XX days since we killed something."

Marc Fisher: I walked through the zoo a couple of weeks ago with my son and on the one hand, the place is abuzz with construction, which I guess bodes well, but otherwise, it is a sad looking place right now. The standards of upkeep have diminished over the past couple of decades, and the animals look forlorn.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Mr. Fisher:
Re; Minn. teen shootings
A headline in your paper today says "Shooter described a deeply disturbed". Duh! Ya think?! Where was his support system? His custodial grandfather, a policeman, did not seek intervention? The school banished him to home schooling with a tutor. This is a tragedy that better wake people up. It will only be repeated regularly otherwise.

Marc Fisher: By chance, Round House Theater in Silver Spring is staging a new play right now, called Columbinus. It is a riveting and moving piece of theater about the two guys who did the Columbine shootings and the high school cliques that made up their world. This is a rigorous and sometimes searing work that is especially worth seeing right now. It's not for kids, but it should be seen.


Clifton, Va.: The residents of western Loudon county could always secede to wild wonderful West Virginia where you can't buy beer until after 1 p.m. on Sundays and the age of consent is 14 years old.

Marc Fisher: Don't joke--some of the folks in western Loudoun would actually love to do that. It's just that that is even more of an impossibility than seceding from the county.


NOVA: OK, so I'm from NOVA and rarely cross the border into Maryland. I'm also fairly clueless about what goes on up there. But, I am intrigued by the "Bobby Haircut" moniker. Please explain?!

Marc Fisher: Well, this is an ongoing controversy. Not a week goes by in which I don't get several dozen e-mails on either side of the Bobby Haircut issue. Supporters seem to think it captures something of the governor's character--the phony, glib, politically supercharged side. Opponents think it's just juvenile ad hominem crapola.
It's won fairly wide use in Annapolis, which is nice. I like it. Its future is uncertain, but as long as the governor seems agitated by it, I'll stick with it.


Counties splitting:
The East End of Long Island has talked about splitting from Suffolk County ... Hasn't happened.

Marc Fisher: Right, and there's really little incentive for any state legislators outside the affected area to give a hoot. So these secession things almost never happen. And that's probably how this one will play out. But let's have some fun watching it play out--and it can indeed have an impact on county politics.


Re: Frist: Bill Frist, good doctor? He thinks AIDS can be spread by tears and sweat. (Source, ABC, This Week)

He may have saved someone's life in the halls of Congress but so did John Kerry and no one calls him a doctor

Marc Fisher: He's a doctor AND he plays one on TV!


Re. Cost of care: The money from the lawsuit that Terri and Michael won is paying for the care, at least I read that somewhere.

Marc Fisher: Right, but what I read is that that money is running out, fast, and the Keep Her Alive side argues that that's why the husband wants the tube pulled.


Alexandria, Va.: I guess Candidate Kilgore has written off Arlington in his electoral campaign, eh? He thinks that he can just push through the widening of I-66 because "we're the Commonwealth of Virgini!"
But I fear in all his life, he's never run into the force that is a Northern Virginia NIMBY.

Marc Fisher: Now that's an interesting face-off: The Republican Party of Virginia vs. the NIMBYs of Arlington. I am truly stumped on that. If forced to pick a winner, I'm gonna put my money on the NIMBYs, because their resources are unlimited.


Let's Go Mountaineers: From a WVU alumnae, thanks for the support ...

Marc Fisher: And I didn't even make a Dueling Banjos joke.
Until now.


Alexandria, Va.: In thinking about Loudoun County I was reminded of something your colleague E.J. Dionne pointed out recently -- 52 percent of the U.S. Senate is elected by 18 percent of the opulation. Almost the exact opposite of the situation in Loudoun, where the suburban majority rules by numbers. One good thing to be said for secession though -- I'll bet Catoctin County schools wouldn't close for an inch of snow!

Marc Fisher: Absolutely right. This is why Montgomery also requires a north-south divorce--their excuse for closing schools is always that there's been snow somewhere north of Damascus.


Vienna, Va.: Most of the NIMBY Western Loudouners have their nerve. Ninety percent of them are rich sellouts from eastern Loudoun and Fairfax. I'm only 23 and in my lifetime I've seen what's left of Fairfax County's open land be sold out by the people that now populate that area. So long Evans Farm in McLean (now a gated community), so long Moutoux Orchard (soon to be McMansions in Vienna), the list goes on. Move to Clark County or West VA and stop complaining. I pity them not.

Marc Fisher: So it's all inevitable? One long nonstop strip of concrete from Arlington to West Virginia? Maybe. But shouldn't the people of western Loudoun have some say in how their community grows? None of them are for halting growth--they just want it controlled the way their zoning rules had it set, until the latest court ruling.


Washington, D.C.: I have to say that while I have had to wait up to an hour (never more) to get my car inspected, I find D.C.'s DMV far superior to Maryland's MVA. I don't think I ever spent less than 6 hours waiting in the Gaithersburg office for anything. They do have satellite offices for renewing drivers licenses, but even that typically took at least an hour. Other than inspections, I've never spent more than 45 minutes in one of the D.C. offices.

Marc Fisher: One vote for the DC DMV.


Alexandria, Va.: Marc -- I hear President Bush will throw out the first ball for the Nats. Say it ain't so! Should be Mayor Williams -- what did Bush ever do for the city except leave it with a big old Inauguration bill?

Marc Fisher: Oh please--there's even a movement in the DC Council to disinvite the president. Excuse me--we get baseball back after 33 years, the prez should be there, no matter who he is. Even if he loathes this city, which he does. Even if he did nothing to bring the team here, which is true. The mayor will have his turn.


No longer a felony to hit your girlfriend: Marc,

Speaking of marriage being sacrosanct (though not enough to let Michael make a decision):

An Ohio court had to reduce a charge from felony domestic abuse to misdemeanor assault because Ohio's recently passed Defense of Marriage Act doesn't recognize the relationship between unmarried people any more. Nice!

Judge: Ohio Gay Marriage Ban Affects Law (AP, March 24)

Marc Fisher: Lovely.


I-66 widening: This issue still burns me up. The fact that officials can guarantee a widening within the footprint of the existing roadway, without taking any additional houses or property, should be enough to satisfy those against any road building in Arlington. However, they still forcefully argue against it. Just because these people are fortunate enough to live in a close-in area, doesn't mean everyone else is (or would be physically able to...even if they wanted to! There aren't enough houses in Arlington!). We have to co-exist as a region, and recognize that we all must make some sacrifices to ensure a high quality of life for all residents of the metro area. It may not affect Arlingtonians directly (and it shouldn't impact their neighborhoods any more than the road already does), but this 2 lane road woefully underserves a region that NEEDS BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE! Deal with it! It goes hand-in-hand with the benefits you reap for living in that location.

Marc Fisher: Right, but shouldn't the state have some duty to live up to the promise it made to get the road built in the first place? Or does a promise from the government meant absolutely nothing?
Yes, it makes no sense that 66 is two-laned inside the Beltway, but that was the concession that got the road built. Now what?


Marc Fisher: We're over our time here, so thanks very much for coming along. Back in the paper Sunday, and here again next week. And watch soon for a new version of Potomac Confidential, with even more interactive capability.


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