Transcript

Potomac Confidential

Marc Fisher
Post Metro Columnist
Thursday, June 8, 2006; 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.

Fisher was online Thursday, June 8, at Noon ET to look at gentrification along H Street NE, the Virginia Senate primary, and the horrendous state of mental health care in the District.

Today's Column: Waiting for Their Spin in the Cycle (Post, June 8)

Check out Marc's blog, Raw Fisher .

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

Archives: Discussion Transcripts

A transcript follows.

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Marc Fisher: Welcome aboard, folks. Just five days before Virginia's primary to select the Democratic opponent to Sen. George Allen, the race between Harris Miller and Jim Webb is heating up--accusations of anti-Semitism and dueling endorsements are in the air, and tomorrow at 10 a.m., the duo will appear on Washington Post Radio for an hour-long debate. Please join me and Mark Plotkin for that session on 1500 AM and 107.7 FM, and if you have questions you'd like asked, please come ahead with them right here.

Today's column looks at gentrification on H Street NE, a storied yet long-troubled boulevard through the heart of black Washington. Coming in Sunday's Arts section, a Listener column examining where Howard Stern's listeners have gone since he left free radio for the pay confines of satellite radio.

On to your many comments and questions, but first, the Yay and Nay of the Day:

Yay to the House, which yesterday passed a massive increase in the fines that broadcasters will face for pumping out indecent programming during the day and early evening hours when children are likely to be watching. The bill properly won broad bipartisan support, as Congress finally gets the point that parents are not looking for a censor, but for a basic assurance that in technologies where parents have no control, programming ought to meet some rudimentary standard of acceptability. The bill, which the president says he will sign, properly does not apply to cable or satellite programming, where parents can and should do their own screening of content.

And the Lerner family earns their first Nay after their unfortunate performance yesterday, when, as the Post's David Nakamura reports today, the new owners of the Nationals made it clear to D.C. officials that there will be no underground parking garage adjacent to the new baseball stadium. Rather, there will be huge, aboveground eyesores that will deal an early and painful blow to efforts to build a vibrant, walkable and attractive new neighborhood around the ballpark.

Your turn....

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Stanton Park/H Street, Washington, D.C.: I enjoyed your column. I'm a new (white, rich) resident of the H St neighborhood and a new regular customer at Smokey's, which I've found welcoming. Even my wife likes the way they cut my hair. I know your space is limited, but I was disappointed you didn't mention the ongoing problem with amplified preaching at 8th and H. (Readers can get more information than they ever wanted at Quest for Quiet ) Residents have been fruitlessly lobbying the City Council to clarify the law to prevent loudspeakers. Though the city has been working to improve H Steet in many ways, it's distressing when they can't even get a simple obviously needed law passed.

Marc Fisher: This new grassroots campaign for quiet on the city's streets is holding some sort of Noise-In, in which their supporters will take to the streets with bullhorns to make their point that the city's laws are too lenient when it comes to amplified expressions of free speech.

There are indeed noise laws, but I'd always argue for them to be enforced only in the most egregious cases. Noise is an essential and important part of city life, and obviously there are cases in which shouts of free expression clash with the desire of residents to get a decent night's sleep. But during the day, I'd let folks shout to their heart's content.

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washingtonpost.com: Nationals Say No to Underground Parking (Post, June 8)

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Beautiful Silver Spring, Md.: From today's column: "Lee, 65, still cuts hair, now at Smokey's Barbershop and Oldies, where a $10 cut comes with the sounds of Chocolate City: the '70s soul of Teddy Pendergrass and Parliament, on cassette. -... But the barbers at Smokey's stand ready to change with the neighborhood, whether that means upgrading their decor and even their musical selection."

I take issue with these statements. There is no musical selection that constitutes an upgrade on Teddy Pendergrass and Parliament. There are lateral moves only.

Marc Fisher: I'm with you. I was trying to be charitable to the idea that the new residents of the neighborhood might want their own sounds reflected in Smokey's repertoire. But to my taste, you cannot possibly improve on the cassette selection on Smokey's wall. Go check it out.

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Fairfax, Va.: Marc: as a NoVa democratic-leaning independent, I found Robert Barnes's article in today's Post -- about Jim Webb's relatively unorthodox background and campaign -- very interesting. Even after reading it, however, I'm still left with one (admittedly skeptical) thought: isn't this guy just a wolf in sheep's clothing? Isn't this the same guy who worshipped at the altar of Reagan and called for Clinton's head? What should make those of us who will vote in the Democratic primary trust Jim Webb -- more as a Senator than a candidate -- to represent our views instead of just taking the opportunity and running with it here?

washingtonpost.com: Born Fighter in Another Battle (Post, June 8)

Marc Fisher: Good question, and it's the one that dogs Webb wherever he goes. Webb's own views, however, were never a perfect fit when he was a Repo either--his tenure as Navy secretary was brief and he has rejected his old party's approach to war and terrorism with all the fervor you'd expect from a late convert. On Iraq, Webb is pretty hard anti-Bush. And on social issues, he's not so different from your basic queasily center-right Democrats of the Clinton era--recall the Sister Souljah -bashing Clinton.

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Washington, D.C.: Question: if the Senate vote yesterday on the gay marriage ban had been a tie how do you think Cheney would have voted to break the tie?

Love your columns!

Thanks

Marc Fisher: Ha!

The veep would have happily gone out and shot another contributor rather than have to vote on that baby.

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Stanton Park, D.C.: Please, please, please, can we put the Nats parking underground? The long-term benefits FAR outweigh any short term frustration that the wealthy season ticket holders may face.

Why not make street parking or shuttle bus service from vacant lots available while the underground is being built.

I blame D.C. officials for delaying this forever, and I blame MLB for the same thing.

The residents of D.C. shouldn't suffer because of MLB and D.C. officials' shortsightedness.

Marc Fisher: The aboveground parking garage can do only harm. This is not a question of providing parking--the only people who will ever see the inside of that garage are the zillionaire luxury box owners and holders of the very priciest of season tickets. Mere mortals will have to park in more remote garages or take Metro. So the question here is purely one of urban planning, and one look at the plans shows that the garage, which would be hard up against the stadium, separating it from the main walkway from the Metro station, will either be a dark hulking barrier or, if it's put underground, a site for an inviting complex of retail shops.

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19th and K St., Washington, D.C.: Marc,

Rather than fighting over the above- vs. under-ground parking thing, I'd like to see someone address the broader issue of transportation to the new stadium/stadium area.

RFK visitors are spoiled with relatively easy Metro access (on two major lines) at a pretty large Metro station. The Navy Yard station is much smaller, and overall, because it is on the Green Line, will force many more passengers to transfer (to Orange/Blue), taxing the system and forcing customers to endure crowded platforms several points along their trip.

In addition, we will go from many thousands of parking spots with easy access, to what appears to be a MUCH smaller number at the new stadium. At this point, I care more about the simple fact that there will be enough spots that it will be possible to find a place to leave your car within a reasonable walking distance. And access to the new site won't be nearly as easy, since there is no direct path onto the freeway like there currently is at RFK. I have nightmares about tons of new restaurants, stores, parks, etc., but a lot of "Lot Full" signs ultimately making the experience rather frustrating.

The goal should be to make it easy to come and go to games, that will encourage casual fans and will develop a neighborhood that has life when there aren't games taking place. It seems to me that NO ONE -- the city, the Lerners, the team, etc. -- is adequately addressing these concerns, and are fighting over smaller details now.

Marc Fisher: Excellent question. The city's deal with baseball requires only a tiny number of parking spaces to be built between now and when the stadium opens. Even if you accept the remarkably pro-transit usage patterns we've seen at the MCI/Abe Pollin Center, that still means that nearly half the fans coming to a baseball game will drive. The working theory is that the new office and retail buildings going up around the stadium will include big, big garages to handle gametime crowds. But it's not likely that many of those garages will exist by the time the stadium opens, nor will those sites be available for surface parking. So there's likely to be a couple of years of ugly access and parking issues--not exactly what the new owners need to get their stadium going.

It's obviously in the Lerners' interests to get thousands of parking spaces built--fast. But so far, there's no sign that that's happening.

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Alexandria, Va.: Do you think there is ANY chance the Lerners will change their mind about the parking garages? Should we all write to them and urge them to reconsider? Seems like a real shame, both aesthetically and economically.

Marc Fisher: Go for it. It's worth a try. My experience with Kasten and company so far is that they are listening to anyone and everyone, and taking it all very seriously.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Dear Marc,

I have to respectfully disagree with your Yays and Nays of the day. In fact, I would completely reverse them. My nay of the day would be to the House for raising fines on "indecency". If they could explicitly define what indecency is prospectively, I would would be for it. Instead, it's defined retrospectively based on comsumer complaints. Boo.

My Yay would go for building the parking garages above ground. I had written in on an earlier chat about this due to safety concerns. You disagreed.

C'est la vie. It's okay for us to disagree, I suppose, as long as we can remain civil to each other.

Kind regards

Marc Fisher: I am being civil now.

So are you.

Are we having fun yet?

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Baileys XRoads, Va.: Marc, were you the Post writer who was turned away from the Lerners/D.C. Council meeting yesterday? This is really very sad to me. I realize baseball is here to stay, if only because there is nowhere else to move the team, which is great, I guess, but I'd also like to see the D.C. baseball experience be all that it can be. From everything I've heard and read so far, that's not going to happen.

Marc Fisher: Nope, wasn't me. I assume it was our intrepid Politics of Baseball reporter, the abovementioned Mr. Nakamura. Gaining access to meetings that in other jurisdictions would be open to the public by law can be one of the most frustrating aspects of covering the D.C. government.

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Potomac, Md.: I think the Lerners demonstrated business and contractual discipline will be a good thing for whole project. If Ted Lerner says the parking garages will take too long and are too expensive, I believe him.

Marc Fisher: Ah, but time is a false issue here. With the right injection of money, you could have that underground garage built before the stadium is nearly done.

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Potomac Falls, Va.: Regarding the aboveground parking, why can't they do some sort of combination retail/parking, where the first floor (or even two) have retail shops and then parking above that. Reston Town Center has a garage like this which seems to work nicely.

I don't begrudge the Lerners at all about this. If D.C. wanted underground parking, they should have just made it an integral, necessary element in the design. Instead, they have to go back and beg the Lerners to do it, after the fact?

Marc Fisher: You're right that the city's plan all along was to stick the Lerners with the cost of putting the parking underground. And that's arguably not fair. But given the politics of the baseball deal, it's not realistic to expect the city to now turn around and add $20 million or more to the bottom line to get rid of those unsightly aboveground garages. And yes, they can and likely will include some sort of retail on the ground floor of the garages.

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Garage: So how long until you start saying 'we' should pay for the garage Marc? It would go with your standard of claiming that the cost will stay as is, then when it doesn't berate everyone for not paying up to subsidize your trivial entertainment choice again.

I figure next week?

Marc Fisher: I've never once said the cost will stay as it is. To the contrary, I have assumed from the start that the current numbers are a joke, that they will soar, and that the taxes and fees supporting the stadium will have to be jacked up. And yes, it's still worth it. And to prove that this has nothing to do with my own sports preferences, I'd support the same deal for any other sport that's played on a daily or near-daily basis, even sports that I loathe.

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Harndon, Va.: Mr. F: A question on your Blog. It seems about every time the on-line Post has a new "headline" for your blog, and I "click" on it, the new commentary isn't there -- it's yesterday's. Then, one to three hours later, when I "click" on the headline, the new commentary is available. What's going on?

Marc Fisher: Odd--I'll inquire with our tech gurus. Thanks.

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Herndon, Va.: I think Webb has little chance in the primary. For a majority of Democrats, the only reason to vote for him is "electibility." But, funny things happen -- Chuck Robb got six more years as a senator because the GOP embraced Oliver North, probably the ONLY Republican who Robb could beat.

Marc Fisher: But no one argued then that Ollie North had extensive crossover appeal, right? Whereas Webb would surely appeal to the many independents and Republicans who have turned against the war and the administration's profligate spending.

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Fairfax, Va.: I'm a Northern Virginia Dem. who is tired of the Virginia Dems who think that Northern Virginia Dems are the only Dems who matter in Virginia. Northern Virginia is MUCH bluer than the rest of the state. If we want to win state-wide elections, we'd better remember that. (Hello Dem. Lt. Gov. candidate Byrne?) Yeah, he's a Rep. in Dem. clothing, but when it comes to taking over the Senate, all it takes is more D's than R's so that the D's can chair committees, etc., and try to derail Bush's campaign to mess up America.

Marc Fisher: Of course, this was the thinking that got John Kerry the nomination, though where anyone got the notion that he was the "electable" one was always beyond me.

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Yay of the day?: I must disagree with you. Congress has far more important issues to deal with instead of this nonsense. Parents have exactly as much control over what their children see on broadcast channels as much as cable. It's called the OFF button.

And why is indecency with children such a big issue anyway? Since the dreaded "wardrobe malfunction" how many children have turned to criminal behavior or required therapy for seeing a split second of her breast?

Jeez, between this issue and gay marriage, this is more of a do-nothing Congress than Harry Truman dealt with in 1948.

Marc Fisher: The breast reveal was hardly the kind of thing that this law would protect against--there will always be momentary blips, intentional or not, and the record is that an occasional F-word from an announcer does not bring the wrath of the feds upon any broadcaster. The law is meant, rather, to protect against radio stations that devote themselves 24/7 to raunch programming that competes to see which station can offer the most explicit sexual content. Much of this has been toned down since the Jackson thing got Congress' attention.

And while you're right about the Off button, the fact is that many parents are not home when their kids are watching TV, and parents can decide whether to subscribe to cable, but the broadcast channels come in freely over the air.

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18th and H NW, Washington, D.C.: A "yay" to Congress for increasing TV fines? Admittedly broadcasters do need to do a better job of policing themselves, but if it sells, well, it sells. Besides, isn't there an ultimate control, during the bloody box off? I have never seen a show broadcast where I didn't know what kind of program it was going in. Whatever happened to parents watching TV with their kids rather than using it as a babysitter? Increased censorship by Congress, and that what it will be, doesn't do anyone any favors.

Marc Fisher: Not to worry--the FCC is so averse to monitoring or opining on content that even this law will only have the most minimal impact. What it may well do is to get network broadcasters to stop trying to mimic their cable competitors and reach instead for the broader, family audience that their federal licenses imply they should be seeking.

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Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.: Two questions for you or the readers. First, what channel is MASN on RCN in the District? I just moved here, but I can't seem to find it. Second, does the O's store sell tickets? (I know, I know, but they're for a friend. I swear!)

Marc Fisher: The Nats are on Channel 8 on RCN/Starpower.

The O's store indeed sells tickets, if you must.

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Visiting the new stadium site: My 10-year-old wants to see the future site of the stadium. He, for one, is thrilled that it will significantly reduce our Metro ride. If we exit Metro at the Navy Yard stop, is it easy to find the construction site?

Marc Fisher: A cinch. Walk south from the Metro station about three blocks and you'll be in the heart of the stadium site. Parts of it are now cordoned off as site clearing progresses, but you can easily walk the perimeter of the site.

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Re: Cheney and The Ban: I think the marriage ban vote required 60 votes, since it's for a constitutional amendment. A 50-50 split wouldn't cut it, and wouldn't allow Cheney to do a Sophie's choice.

Marc Fisher: Complicating things with the facts again? Spoilsport.

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Git your Dippin Dots right here!: Marc, I'm sure you and many others will be delighted to hear that the National Museum of American History now has a vending machine in the cafeteria that dispenses your favorite flavor of Dippin Dots for only $3.50.

It's available 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., I believe. Enjoy.

Marc Fisher: Vending machines are the perfect vehicle for dispensing the Dots, wouldn't you say?

And of course they require no refrigeration!

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Rock Creek Parkway, D.C.: Submitting early, because this may require some research ... In the past few weeks I've seen groups of about 5-10 people (one with a laptop), wearing traffic safety vests, sitting in lawn chairs next to Rock Creek Parkway. Once they were at the end, next to the entrance of the Memorial Bridge in the morning. Another time they were just north of the P Street bridge, during afternoon rush hour. Not sure if this matters, but all looked somewhat elderly. Who are they, and what are they trying to find out?? I'm dying to know!

Marc Fisher: Sounds like traffic-counters. They are hired usually by traffic consultants who get contracts from the city or the feds to measure congestion and demand in advance of some proposed roads project.

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Washington, D.C.: Btw, you are entitled to say I told you so to carping critics like me on the Soriano trade. He can't play defense much, but he is having a monster season at the plate. Any chance they can keep him?

Marc Fisher: Zero, in my view. No matter how fabulous a year he's having, and it's just beautiful to watch, he has zero value to the Nats come the end of the season--he's a free agent who would probably rather become a bank teller than spend another season on this team.

So they have to unload him when he's at maximum value--probably just after the All-Star break, when pennant contenders are shopping for the one big bat that will put them over the top.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there some way to contact the Nats owners group to at least express my displeasure of their parking short-sightedness? Building all above-ground parking makes no sense whatsoever. Lerner may think that above has worked fine at his other ventures, but those are malls and enclosed spaces with no contact to their surrounding areas. This is like that fateful decision to build Metro with just 2 tracks because of money and time.

Marc Fisher: Sure--You can write to Stan Kasten, the new team president, c/o the Nats at their offices at RFK Stadium. Or write the Lerners directly--Ted Lerner or Robert Tanenbaum, the son in law who represented them at yesterday's meeting--at Lerner Enterprises, 11501 Huff Court, North Bethesda, MD 20895.

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Homestead Grays: Saw the Nats wearing Grays garb in Milwaukee. Any idea if they're going to see Grays hats / merchandise?

Marc Fisher: Wouldn't that be sweet? I missed that game, but my son saw it and said the Grays unis were terrific. They should do that at a home game.

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Arlington, Va.: To the poster who asked about Webb being a wolf in sheep's clothing, it's important to notice Miller's own very troubling past.

Miller worked as a lobbyist on behalf of corporations that have outsourced massive numbers of blue- and white-collar jobs. While Jim Webb is arguing that we need better economic opportunity for the middle class, Miller was actively working with Congress to help those companies send jobs overseas. Regardless of the electability issue -- which is intertwined with the need to broaden the Democratic party base rather than exclude people from it -- Miller's history shows that he has been no friend to American workers.

And connected to that, take a look at his campaign contributions to GOP guys like Spencer Abraham, Denny Hastert and other Republicans. He says that his employer, the trade association he lobbied for, made him give those gifts. First, that's illegal! And second, do Virginians really want a Senator who will openly admit in that way that he's beholden to higher forces, rather than doing the right thing based on his beliefs?

There are a LOT of reasons to question Miller's values and actions, too.

Marc Fisher: I find Miller's views on outsourcing to be maddeningly complacent and elitist. Although I do enjoy using as many American colloquialisms and slang phrases as I can think of whenever I'm on the phone to a customer disservice agent in Bangalore.

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Bethesda, Md.: "With the right injection of money, you could have that underground garage built before the stadium is nearly done."

Sheesh! For a guy who won't let his family turn on the A.C. before June 1st, you're awful casual with other people's (The Leners') money.

Marc Fisher: Ah, but unlike the bucks I shell out to Pepco, these dollars will come back in multiples once the buildings are up and the taxes are flowing in from the shops, offices, condos and the stadium itself.

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MoCO, Md.: Valet Parking on Woodmont Avenue (Restaurant Row)is dangerous and undemocratic. If you're rich enough to shell out the $7.00 fee you can drop your car in the middle of the street, open the door into traffic, and stroll away while the valet makes an illegal U turn in front of traffic to park the car. Who's got the juice here? (The average josephine/joe gets a ticket the second the meter runs out or if they stop while their kid grabs a bagel.) Why do County Officials look the other way on dangerous and illegal parking and stops for the Woodmont Valet parking companies and their customers?

Marc Fisher: Agreed. I'd ban valet parking by total fiat. It's anti-social, wholly unnecessary and an abuse of the public space, both on the streets that the valets commandeer as you describe, and in the neighboring on-street parking spaces and garages that they hog.

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Alexandria, Va.: So Marc, has World Cup fever taken over the Fisher household yet? I assume that your well-known love for the beautiful game has combined with your time spent in Germany to make this an event of near biblical proportions.

Please share your picks for the semis and whether Bobby Convey or DaMarcus Beasley should start at left mid for the U.S.

Marc Fisher: Oh, you're going to love this--My friend Markus Guenther, the Washington correspondent for a chain of German newspapers, has written up an interview with me in which I am billed as America's Foremost Soccer Hater. I'll try to get the text of it on the blog in the coming days.

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Wheaton, Md.: Marc, you are certainly entitled to criticise the Lerners about the parking, but let's see -- have YOU built the malls and buildings they have? What experience do YOU have on city planning?

Marc Fisher: Good point, but also note that the Lerners' experience is almost entirely with suburban development. Their very successful ventures are primarily malls and town center developments that rely on surface and aboveground parking; it's what they know and it's worked for them. That doesn't mean it's right for an intensely urban site.

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Chantilly, Va.: Marc:

Here's a thought. Senators Warner and Allen combine for a total of five marriages. They both vote (procedurally) for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which purports to defend the institution of marriage. (By the way, if you research Scripture you'll see nothing from Jesus on gays; he is alleged to have said marriage is between a man and a woman, but he also says there may be no divorce unless one party commits adultery.)

Do you think the Senators are being just a tad inconsistent?

Marc Fisher: Anyone who looks for consistency or honesty in the votes to ban gay marriage is misreading the purpose and meaning of those initiatives, right?

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Arlington, Va.: The Orioles sell tickets to their games? That's surprising -- I figured Angelos would demand that all the seats in the stadium be reserved for him.

Marc Fisher: It's. Our. Territory.

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Wheaton, Md.: Have you been following the saga of the Chevy Chase billionaires, one of whom built their house 1.7' too close to the street who now may have to tear it down or move it? Even though the owners originally got planning permission to make the renovations now being challenged? Because it has been "rebuilt" rather than "renovated?" I must say, I enjoy seeing how the rich and famous spend their money. It makes my daily struggle to put food on the table and keep my 1988 junker running seem so trivial.

Marc Fisher: Today's story on this neighborhood tiff, by Miranda Spivack, leaves me with the usual pox-on-all-their-houses feeling. I'm with you--the more both sides spend on lawyers and PR agents and consultants and so on, the happier we'll all be. As I understand today's story, the new version of the house is not all that far from the original footprint of the house. Seems to me, if you own a piece of land, you should be able to build on every last inch of it. It wouldn't bother me in the least if my neighbors erected 10-story brick walls right along the property line between us.

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Washington, D.C.: About 2 weeks ago, Marion Barry wrote an editorial in the front page section where he passionately pleaded for politicians and citizens to stop with petty squabbles and focus on the children and the importance of education. Does this guy know in his heart that he's a hypocrite personified?

washingtonpost.com: Letter to the Editor: D.C. Schools' 'History of Failure' (Marion Barry) (Post, June 1)

Marc Fisher: It's an election year. The pols are paid by the number of appeals they make to focus on the children.

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Downtown, D.C.: When I think of 8th and H Street, I think of Catherine Fuller, the elderly black woman who was savagely beaten to death by members of the 8th and H Street gang back in 1985.

Marc Fisher: Yes, very much so. Anyone who lived here during those years recalls the savagery of that attack and all it said about the depths of depravity that marked the PCP epidemic. (I am biased on this: My wife prosecuted the killers in that case.)

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Washington, D.C.: Any guesses on what the Yankees fans to Nats fans ratio will be during their series next week?

Marc Fisher: Excellent question. I took in one of the Yankees games in Bawlmer last week and the split between NY and Baltimore fans was much closer than usual--where those crowds are generally about 70 percent Yankee lovers, this time the Orioles' faithful had a slight edge.

I'd expect pretty close to a 50-50 split in Washington--nothing like the overwhelming Yankee support so often seen in Baltimore.

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washingtonpost.com: Panel Says House Is Over the Line (Post, June 8)

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McLean, Va.: "Ah, but unlike the bucks I shell out to Pepco, these dollars will come back in multiples once the buildings are up and the taxes are flowing in from the shops, offices, condos and the stadium itself."

Yes, but come back to whom? You're talking about taxes, which all go to the city and not to Lerner. What's the return on investment for him?

Marc Fisher: I wouldn't worry too much about the Lerners' take on this; at the prices they'll be charging in the new stadium, they will do more than fine. And before this wacky TV rights dispute is over, look for the Lerners to win back a bit more control over and share of their own TV rights. They should be fine.

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Busted at RFK: Oh Great One:

Please explain this mystery to me -- how in the world do you manage to smuggle in food to RFK? I have not attended a Nats game, but everytime I go to a DC United game (and I'm not writing in to start up the tired soccer vs. baseball debate), the storm troopers at the ticket gate do the sort of search that would pass muster with the FBI. At the last game, not only did they shine a light in my purse, they shook out and patted down a jacket I had over my arm, searching for errant water bottles and sandwiches. Meanwhile, fans can bring in flags, smoke bombs, drums with sticks, and rolls of toilet paper without a second glance.

If you pass on the secret of your success, I promise not to tell anyone. Or perhaps you could try to smuggle in your usual food when you attend the DC United game you promised in your blog and clear up for me whether the standards are different.

Marc Fisher: I assume the same security folks work both teams' games, but I've never had a problem. While the yellow jackets do look through any bags you bring in, if you say, "It's water and sandwiches," they always say "Fine." If, on the other hand, you say, "It's Coke and C-5 explosives," they tend to confiscate the stuff because you're not allowed to cart in stuff that competes with the goods they sell inside.

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DC United: So did you make it out the last Saturday's DC United game?

Marc Fisher: Did not. I was looking to take up readers on their offers to show me a grand time at one of those games before the World Cup is over, but apparently the Uniteds will be on the road throughout this period.

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Nats Stadium: Underground garages are pretty scary, particularly at night. What about a compromise with first floor retail throughout the parking lot with well lit parking above? When the Nats aren't playing the parking can be used by the retail customers at discounted rates.

Marc Fisher: Why would an underground garage be any more scary at night than an aboveground garage?

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Baltimore, Md.: Just read your comment about over-the-air channels and their accessibility to unsupervised teens, how parents can't control this. Well, yes they can. If you can't trust your kids, then remove the item. Listening to unapproved radio channels, then no radio. Watching unapproved TV, then the TV is locked up and away. I see no reason for this censorship and an arbitrary definition of what's unsuitable for the little darlings' ears and eyes. Parents -- your kids are your responsibility; not mine, not the government, but yours.

Marc Fisher: That works for me and I suppose for you, too, but given that we know it's not how the great majority of parents monitor their kids, wouldn't it make more sense to stop pretending and instead insist that those companies that get a license to make zillions also adhere to a basic level of commonly accepted standards in their programming? Nothing in the law in any way prescribes limits on political or artistic expression; this is purely about the very narrow question of decency--explicit sexual content.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Wondering, Marc -- if a game attracts 42,000 fans, how many will drive? Not all -- and don't we want to encourage Metro? How many attending RFK games take Metro now? How many cars go to RFK?

Marc Fisher: Last I looked, which was last season, more than half the crowd at Nats games at RFK were arriving by Metro, which is well above what had been anticipated. Credit the MCI/Pollin experience and years of Redskins games at RFK for instilling those habits.

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McLean, Va.: "Marc Fisher: Why would an underground garage be any more scary at night than an aboveground garage?"

I think you'll have to ask Bob Woodward and Mark Felt on that one.

Marc Fisher: Yes, the echos and footsteps are much, much better in an underground facility.

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Anonymous: In your view, Marc, will above-ground parking at the stadium be any more of an eyesore than the warehouse next to Camden yards?

Marc Fisher: I like that warehouse--a lot. But I've yet to see a parking garage that was attractive or evocative. Have you?

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Food at RFK: I go to both United and Nats games. Different rules apply to bringing in food/H2O.

It is okay to bring in food and H2O at the Nats games. I bring in my own feast every game.

It is forbidden at United (the theory is that they can be used as projectiles).

Marc Fisher: Tells you something about the nature of the crowds, too, huh?

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RE: Cheney and the Ban: The vote wasn't technically on the marriage amendment, it was on cloture -- a parliamentary procedure that would make the Senators stop talking and vote.

It takes 60 votes to invoke cloture, and that goal was not achieved.

The amendment itself did not ever receive a vote.

Marc Fisher: And some more details, for those who just can't get enough....

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Re: Cheney and The Ban II: Actually, the vote was to stop debate, which requires 60 votes. An actual vote to approve a constitutional amendment requires two-thirds, or 67 votes. Either way, we don't need Dick.

Marc Fisher: The keepers of the Live Online clock are about to invoke cloture right here....

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Washington, D.C.: Marc -- Why doesn't the Post publicize Mayor Williams' obscene amount of overseas travel? The mayor's travel-for-free fetish makes clear that he's all but officially resigned his office.

I'm disappointed that the Post does not publicize when the mayor is out of town. It's a disgrace and the Post should present the facts.

Marc Fisher: We write about his global gallivanting all the time, both in the paper and on DC Wire, the blog that covers city politics. Of course, the really cool job would be to be the reporter who goes everywhere the mayor goes. But not even The Washington Post could afford to do that.

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Marc Fisher: That kicks things in the head for this week's gathering. I'll be on the radio this afternoon, and every afternoon, at 3:20 with Bob Kur, and back in the paper again on Sunday. There's always more on the big blog, Raw Fisher, at washingtonpost.com/rawfisher

Thanks for coming along.

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