Potomac Confidential

Marc Fisher
Post Metro Columnist
Thursday, June 7, 2007; 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's Column: Given a Choice, Desperate Tenants Take a Chance ( Post, June 7)

Fisher was online Thursday, June 7, at Noon ET to look at Virginia's nuclear power future, the battle to open up Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho's records, and a sneak peek at the Nationals' new ballpark.

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.


Marc Fisher: Welcome aboard, folks, on a lovely day before the next wall of humidity hits.

Is the panda preggers? The zookeepers suspect she may be. Is the liberation of Paris (Hilton, that is) front page news? Is Greenland melting?

How about those $300 Nats tix? Imagine what prime seating will cost you should the team ever stumble upon a major league starting pitcher?

Just how excited are you about next Tuesday's primary elections in Virginia? (Surely you knew the legislative primary was just around the corner. Why, didn't you see the big debates on CNN last week? Oh, wait, that was for an election in a different year.)

This week's columns looked at the revival of the push for nuclear power plants in Virginia and the struggle to maintain affordable housing in the still-hot downtown Washington market. Over on the blog, we've been talking about Seung-Hui Cho's privacy after death, and how much public access there should be to records after we've expired.

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

Yay to Montgomery County authorities who are standing their ground in the battle to keep monkeys out of a Rockville neighborhood. My reading of Curious George tells me that monkeys like to live where the other monkeys live, and it's bad enough that neighbors have to deal with the animals that already make noise and leave waste all over the place. Let the monkey go to that sanctuary, where it can "live as a monkey," as the county officials put it.

Nay to the Virginia and federal transportation officials who have finally put the kibosh on tunneling the new Metro rail line under Tysons Corner. By insisting on a marginally cheaper aboveground rail line, these short-sighted officials will guarantee that Tysons never develops into the walkable and attractive urban cluster that it could well have become.

Your turn starts right now....

_______________________ The New Nats Stadium: $300 Seats! (Or $5 Seats for the Same View) ( Raw Fisher, June 6)


Fairfax, Va.: Marc -- Honestly, since I wouldn't have paid even half the cost of the most expensive Nats tickets to see a game, I am not bothered by the prices they are asking. I hope they sell every $300 seat available through the end of time. The more money the owners make, the more they should be willing to put into the team. It is the season ticket holders in the mid-range seats that are getting the real jolt.

Marc Fisher: I'm not sure about that. The sky-high ticket prices are on the inevitable luxury boxes and the whole bank of seats behind home plate, but after that, the rest of the lower deck seats will have prices that are not enormously higher than this year's levels at RFK. Is it unfair to ask an extra $10 a seat for seats right behind the dugouts in a spanking new stadium? What bothers me far more than that price hike is the cost of seats in the upper deck. The team makes a big deal of the fact that there are still some $5 and $10 seats upstairs, but there are precious few of them and they are, of course, the absolute worst seats in the building. It's the run of the mill upper deck seats that should cost considerably less.


Arlington, Va.: So the Nats' record has gotten worse every year, while ticket prices and parking have climbed steadily -- will it ever end? Is there a direct relation between the two -- if they suddenly gave away free parking and reduced ticket prices by 90 percent would they win the World Series?

Marc Fisher: The prices at the new stadium reflect the realities of professional baseball today--a game that was once the essence of dailiness, an event so casual you could drop in anytime over the course of the summer, for just a couple of bucks, has morphed into just one more pro sport, where the live event is geared largely for the high rollers, and "Joe Fan," as the baseball executives like to call the rest of us, is someone who's invited to sit in the cheap seats, but who is pretty much just along for the ride.

The ultimate culprit in all this is the greed of the players and their union, combined with the craven nature of all too many team owners, who were only too happy to let the players' demand for millions push up ticket prices. Throw in the huge TV contracts and the advertisers and, well, soon we'll be blaming everyone, which is apt because we're all part of this insane inflation.


Washington, D.C.: Marc -- So the long-awaited info on seating and pricing for the new Nats stadium is out. Personally, I'm looking forward to sitting in sun-drenched field level bleacher seats in the outfield with a cold beverage. Your impressions so far?

Marc Fisher: I toured the stadium yesterday and was very impressed by the sightlines and the much closer, more intimate feel of the place, especially compared to RFK. After three years in a stadium that was designed as much for football as for baseball, it will be a surprise and a delight to be in a baseball-only facility where everyone is much closer to the field of play. My only reluctance about the place has to do with the getting there and the being in the area around the park, not with the inside of the building. I don't see nearly enough evidence that a reasonable amount of parking will be available come spring, and I don't see how they will avoid nightly nightmares on that pathetically inadequate ramp coming off I-295 at Capitol Street.


Crofton, Md.: So, Marc, how much are your Nationals season tickets going to cost next year?

I must admit, I was somewhat taken aback by those steep prices. I realize we have among the highest per capita income in the nation, but this is going to put going to games out of the reach of a whole lot of people who might otherwise develop into decent fans. It makes my $20 upper deck seat at Camden Yards (front row, right behind home plate) look like a relative bargain.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Marc Fisher: Way too much. I have a one-ninth share in a group of Post folks who hold season tix, and we haven't decided yet whether to try to keep something like our current seats or to drop back to something not quite as pricey.

But the Nats are pretty much matching the price of your $20 upper deck seat in Baltimore; indeed, as Stan Kasten repeatedly noted yesterday, more than one-third of the non-premium seats in the ballpark are priced at $20 or less.


Marc Fisher: Suit Case Update:

Now on the blog, the latest on the $65 million pants suit, the case of the D.C. judge who sued his neighborhood dry cleaners because they'd lost a pair of his pants. The trial starts next week, and I'll have daily coverage.

_______________________ The Suit Suit: A Suitable Solution? ( Raw Fisher, June 7)


Metro grammar issue: I didn't know who else to tell, but I can't take it anymore!

Have you heard the Metro announcement that features a woman's voice and begins: "See it, Say it"? Aaargh! The message is grammatically incorrect! It goes something like this: "Metro wants to remind you that if you see something unusual -- a backpack, a suitcase, a whatever -- that you say something to a Metro official" etc., etc. Now remove the center section: "Metro wants to remind you that if ... THAT you say something." WRONG!

Obviously it should be "if you see something, you should" or "if you see something, please" or something like that. But "that you say something"?

Am I the only one who finds this terribly annoying and embarrassing, to have a grammatically incorrect message playing repeatedly -- put out by the city of Washington? AARGH.

Marc Fisher: I have to admit I can't understand a word of those announcements, even in the new rail cars, where everything else is shiny and clean, yet the PA system sounds like someone is speaking through a pile of laundry.

But what I'd like to know is what would really happen if you told a Metro station worker that you'd seen something unusual on the train? Would they shut down the system, empty the train, what? And should they really do anything? I'm not sure that encouraging that sort of quick trigger reaction is particularly helpful.


Washington, D.C.: Seriously, what is with these crazy animal people in our area? First this monkey nutjob and now this lady searching for her cat for 3 or 4 years? Get a grip! That lady even said "I'm not a crazy cat lady." Hahahahahahaha. Okay, sure, crazy cat lady.

Marc Fisher: With affluence and a decline in community bonds comes a focus on animals, a redirecting of the basic human desire to connect with each other toward other species. It's a sad but telling sign of our times.


Washington, D.C.: Uh, monkeys? When was this?

I cannot understand why come people want to keep wild animals as pets. Sure, tiger cubs are adorable, until they turn into gigantic cats. Back in Texas (where I'm from) many of these animals end up on those "wild game" ranches for rich people to come shoot at. I know you're anti-animal, but this sort of nonsense should break your stony heart.

Marc Fisher: The same phenomenon is why you end up with alligators in the New York subway system. Animals grow.


Washington, D.C.: Wrong, wrong, wrong -- zookeepers do not think Mei Xiang is pregnant. They know that at this point there is no way to tell if it is a real or pseudo-pregnancy. We know when this phase will end (either with a cub(s) or no cub) and will watch MX full-time then, but unless a cub is seen on ultrasound (which is only possible a week or two before delivery), we will not know if it's a real pregnancy until this phase is over. What was the point of the Post article?

Marc Fisher: The news story, by Debbi Wilgoren, says otherwise:

"Mei Xiang, the National Zoo's panda matriarch, may be pregnant for the second time, a zoo spokesman said this morning....

"The mama panda's hormone levels spiked yesterday, two months after she went into heat and was artificially inseminated twice over two days with sperm from a male panda named Gao Gao."

The story warns that such indicators are notoriously unreliable for pandas, but the indicators do exist.


Dunn Loring, Va.: So Paris Hilton is out of jail because, according to reports, she developed a rash from the gelatin she was served. Note to Scooter: Squirrel away that doctor's note now and you too can get away with serving three days and then rising from the dead!!

Marc Fisher: No way Libby gets out even if he stages a peanut allergy. Once he goes in, only the presidential pardon will get him out in short order. Ms Hilton is vastly better known, and her letters of support come from actual celebrities, not from the third-rate world leaders who wrote nice notes to the judge on Libby's behalf.

Of course, there is a solution to all this: Create a 24-hour reality TV channel featuring the in-jail lives of the rich and famous, then funnel the ad revenues into turning our penal system into a rehabilitative one.

_______________________ National Zoo's Panda May Be Pregnant ( Post, June 7)


Washington, D.C.:"alligators in the New York subway system. Animals grow."

And get jobs and need to commute to work, evidently.

Marc Fisher: But the fares should be higher for reptiles, even knowing that there will eventually be discrimination lawsuits.


Arlington, Va.: My main concern about the new stadium is not the price of the seats, but the Metro situation. Living in Rosslyn, I want to be assured that the two-hop ride on the Green Line to L'Enfant doesn't end up with a very long wait for a train home. I do hope that Metro runs extra trains on the Blue and Orange that will be ready when 30,000 people hit the Navy Yard station.

Marc Fisher: The expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station appears to be moving along at a reasonable pace; by next spring, the station is supposed to be able to handle a crowd even more quickly and efficiently than the RFK station does, which would be quite good. But that doesn't answer the other piece of the problem, which you point out: What happens when that crowd hits the hub stations at Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza, since a far greater portion of the crowd will have to transfer to a different line than now does from either RFK or the Pollin Arena? In general, Metro is very good about stacking trains in preparation for crowds getting out of big events.


Alexandria, Va.: Marc,

You're spot on about the tunnel. After all, the above ground track here on King Street has prevented the area from being a walkable urban neighborhood, just as my previous home of downtown Silver Spring remains a stunted suburban wasteland because of its above ground rail. And don't get me started about that blighted, empty place known as downtown Chicago ...

Marc Fisher: Good points, but take a closer look: The King Street station is really on the very edge of the pedestrian-oriented part of downtown Alexandria. That development of Old Town took place long before Metro was built, and unfortunately, the part of Old Town closer to the river is still very much a car destination.

Silver Spring is much more transit dependent, so that's a better example, but there, while you have an above-ground station, the Red Line emerges from the tunnel right near there, so you don't have a long, heavily shadowed strip in the heart of the downtown development.

Sure, great cities can and do thrive with overhead rails, but those were mainly built a century ago and real estate values tell the story: Go even one block from those rail lines and the costs shoot up.


Saw It, Said Something: But it was an abandoned backpack in front of the Iraqi Embassy here in D.C. I told two D.C. cops in their cruiser. They looked annoyed with me and VERY grudgingly did a U-turn to go look at it. An embarrassed college kid came running back to pick it up from a block away. You should feel comforted, we are grudgingly protected unless the Krispy Kremes are coming off the conveyor belt.

Marc Fisher: Well, what would you want them to do? Go grab the backpack? Yes, they ought to check it out, but the prudent thing to do is then to cordon off the area and call in the guys in the spacesuits. So I can understand their reluctance, and in most cases, the natural inclination is and should be to wait a bit and see if that proverbial college kid comes running back to get his pack. I'm not sure there are any right answers in this scenario.


Arlington, Va.: I was just reading about the admin law judge's offer. And what occurred to me was that the case is actually going to trial, and that it wasn't dismissed for frivolity. If everyone sued for tens of millions every time a cleaner ruined or lost an item, that would inundate the court system, cleaners would be bankrupt, and the rest of the country would be ridiculously rich.

Marc Fisher: Yes, well, more likely, there would be no more cleaners. We would all have to go back to doing our own laundry, or we'd move quickly into the next golden age of polyester.


Annandale, Va.: First we had Cho, with a long history of mental illness kill 30-plus people. Then we had the women with a long history of drug addiction and criminal behavior drive into 30-plus people while smoking crack.

Do you see a pattern here? Why is our society unwilling to remove dangerous people from the streets?

Marc Fisher: Because it costs money. It's far easier to hide behind a veil of privacy and pretend that we are really being humane by refusing to help the deeply disturbed and letting them live in filth and poverty on the streets, where they surely "prefer" to be. Whenever you see government broadening so-called privacy rights, you can bet what's really happening involves saving a boatload of money, rolling back our obligations to others, and hiding the misdeeds of huge economic interests.


Washington, D.C.: Do the Temple Courts residents understand how hard it is to find a place in D.C. that accepts vouchers? I'm concerned that the city spent so much on buying the property, $22 million with another $30 million needed, they won't be able to subsidize any other tenants groups in D.C. that need the money.

Marc Fisher: The economics of creating these mixed-income communities that Tony Williams launched in the District are sometimes mind-blowing. The results tend to be impressive--strong, safe communities with a real mix of income levels--but the getting there is very expensive. You have to buy up existing housing, blow it away, relocate and house the people who've been moved out, subsidize their return to the new development and pay to run them through all sorts of training classes on getting jobs, owning a home, maintaining your credit and so on. When done well, it can really pull people out of poverty, but you have to be ready to spend a bundle.


Alexandria, Va.: So Tysons Corner can use Metro as an excuse for the next 50 years rather than taking a multitude of other (but politically unpopular) steps to make their city more pedestrian-friendly? Great. God forbid they faced down the NIMBYs and zoned some high-density residential and commercial, raised parking rates and/or reduced the amount of land given over to parking lots, removed on-street parking in favor of bike lanes, etc., etc., etc.

Marc Fisher: The plans for remaking Tysons are generally pretty impressive, but it's a huge task, another big, big example of social engineering not that dissimilar, oddly enough, from the Temple Courts experiment on the other end of the economic spectrum.

But unlike those experiments in creating affordable housing, there aren't many examples of a classic car-oriented suburb being successfully transformed into a pedestrian-oriented urban neighborhood. The Clarendons and Silver Springs of the world are terrific projects, but they are based in much older suburbs that were originally built on a more urban scale than, say, Tysons. It will be fascinating to see how this progresses, whether the train is above or below ground.


Monkey Pet, Md.: When I was in high school, 30 years ago, a friend of mine had a monkey in a cage as a pet. One day, the monkey got out and made it to the barn. The next day, they found the monkey in the barn, and all the chickens were plucked.

Marc Fisher: I thought you were going to say the monkey had fricasseed a chicken.

_______________________ Given a Choice, Desperate Tenants Take a Chance ( Post, June 7)


Nuisance dogs: Not sure whether you're the man for this questions, but since you're addressing Paris and panda pregnancy perhaps you can tell me what to do about dogs that bark all day and all night. We're new to the neighborhood and are afraid of approaching the offending neighbors for fear of appearing like the yuppy gentrifiers that we resemble. Humane society? Police? Councilman? Can't find any regs on this ...

Marc Fisher: I wish I had good advice for you on that. My efforts on that front have consisted only of politely approaching the neighbor and asking for the critter not to be left outside to bark at odd hours of the night. That has generally had good effect, but it sure isn't perfect. Has anyone had good experience in appealing to authorities on that front?


Redirecting of the basic human desire to connect ...: I'm just curious ... is there a vacuum where your soul is located? Are you insinuating that my love for my dog and cat is due to my lack of interaction with humans?

What a load of manure. I feel sorry for you, Marc. Truly. Somewhere a part of your humanity has been numbed, or was never there to begin with.

Marc Fisher: I am soulless.


Alexandria, Va.: Capuchin monkeys perform valuable services for the handicapped every day, in normal homes. See Spinal Cord Injury Information Network and scroll down to the end.

Why shouldn't that lady be able to keep hers? If she can't keep it, perhaps she can donate it to help someone really in need.

Marc Fisher: Why should she be allowed to keep it? Did her neighbors move in knowing that there would be wild animals on the block? Should we have wild animal zoning in residential areas? If she can keep a monkey, why can't I have a giraffe?


RE: Subsidized housing: So in 8 years when the school systems are better in D.C. will anyone remember that a main contributor will be Tony Williams and his housing plan?? If this works it will inevitably lead to better schools because the parents that are taught about getting a job, keeping good credit and all the things included in the plan will end up being better parents that take a vested interest in their children's schools as well.

Marc Fisher: Your timetable is optimistic and I wish there were even remotely that strong a connection between the city's housing efforts and the improvement of schools, but your overall point is a good one. If you buy the theory that mixed-income communities create good social pressures on many issues, then the schools should benefit in a big way. But there are two huge caveats: 1) Will the market rate units in those mixed income communities attract families with children, or will the only children be those of parents in the subsidized parts of the community? And 2) Would the higher income families in those areas send their kids to private, parochial or charter schools, thus eliminating the social benefit to those who remain in the regular public schools?


Silver Spring, Md.: Have you been there lately? It's far from a blighted anything.

AFI, new shopping and restaurants, etc., etc., all over the place, with the Metro and its tracks at the edge of the central area. The VERY edge.

The change in the last six years is little short of astounding.

Marc Fisher: I didn't meant to imply in any way that downtown Silver Spring is anything less than a dramatic and beneficial transformation. In fact, as I've written in a number of columns, it's a splendid example of how to do this very well. I'd have wanted more of a residential component in the downtown redevelopment--more like Clarendon or Bethesda, for example--but Silver Spring is still a great success in redesigning a faded and failed suburban center.


Franconia, Va.: About six months ago, I noticed an abandoned duffel bag at Gallery Place and duly reported it to a Metro employee, who seemed concerned and seemed as though he was off to take some action. Almost everyone else ignored it.

And let's be careful of locking up people because we think they're a danger. I see cases of neighbors trying to have you committed because they don't like your azaleas. This can't be good for the republic.

Marc Fisher: In all the reaction to the Cho shootings, I haven't heard anyone advocating a massive increase in the number of people we lock up. Rather, there's been a powerful desire to pay much closer attention to the small number of people whose disturbances are so profound that nearly everyone around them considers them a great danger. We don't need to continue with wild swings of the pendulum when a middle course is staring us in the face.


Silver Spring, Md.: You have no soul and what you ask for is a giraffe?

Marc Fisher: We could be silent together in our soulessness.


Washington, D.C.: re: "If she can keep a monkey, why can't I have a giraffe? "

Well according to council member Graham's views of what rights are you absolutely have a right to have a giraffe, just not in his ward, ouch!

Marc Fisher: Put all the giraffes in Ward 5 or put two in each ward? There's a dissertation topic for you.


The monkey thing: I feel bad for the monkey, since it did sound like it was strongly bonded to this woman -- but agree that people shouldn't keep wild animals as pets. Iguanas and other reptiles frequently have salmonella, and monkeys, since they are primates like humans, are even more of a disease risk for people.

Marc Fisher: Ebola in Rockville, film at 11.


Monkeyland: Most suburban neighborhoods are already occupied by loud, curious, sometimes destructive young primates. I believe they are the young of the species homo sapiens.

Marc Fisher: Wait a second, go back to the start of the hour and that post about Metro's "See It, Say It" campaign. Maybe it was intended for our burgeoning monkey population?


Northwest, D.C.: Meridian Hill Park ... Marc --

Do you have any idea what they are currently doing to D.C.'s beautiful Meridian Hill Park? Both of the lawns are currently fenced off and lots of concrete blocks are strewn around.

I love the park and am very disapointed that they waited until spring/summer to do the work. The park is usually packed during evening daylight hours with soccer players, a tightrope walker, hoola-hoopers, runners and just about anyone else in the neighborhood who enjoys the outdoors.

Marc Fisher: New to me--anyone have details?


Fairfax, Va.: Wow, Fenty really is the No-BS-Mayor. "Here are your three choices. Make a decision. The government isn't going to tell you what to do."

That has to be stroke-inducing for a lot of the D.C. bureaucracy, right?

Marc Fisher: I wasn't in the room, but as several people related it to me, that was exactly the reaction among the mayor's staff at that meeting.


"Mixed income": Of course, all this stuff does is hose other people out. When you reserve X percent of space for low income folk, the developer cranks out the "luxury" units for the rest to make up the loss. So the end result is the people who make decent, but not major bank get hosed. They get taxed to subsidize the people with less money than them to get property, but can't afford the skewed market rates produced by the reserve for the lower income folks.

Great deal. The lower income get stuff, the rich skate, and the middle again gets screwed.

Marc Fisher: Nice theory, but that's not how it works: The Temple Courts project, like all of the District's New Communities projects, is a 1/3-1/3-1/3 split--market rate for the high rollers, partially subsidized units for the middle (aimed especially at teachers, civil servants, uniformed employees and the like), and fully subsidized for the low income residents who were displaced to make room for the new project. The middle is universally considered crucial to the success of these developments.


Bowie, Md.: Gotta take issue with you calling Tysons Corner a "classic car-oriented suburb." It's anything but a classic suburb. For one thing, no one lives there. It's more like an office park on steroids.

Marc Fisher: Right, it's what Joel Garreau dubbed an Edge City, and its lack of people after business hours is one of the reasons is turned into such a social dead zone, but also the main reason planners see it as having so much potential. All you need to do is add residential and redesign the streetscape and you should have an instantly attractive place. Of course, it takes huge caverns full of cash to get there, and you have to persuade people that this is worth doing, so it turns into a massive, perhaps too massive, undertaking.


Wild animals are cool: That's why people get them as pets. Not because they're cute, not because they need companionship. If all they needed was a cute companion, they'd rescue a shelter puppy. If you have a wild animal for a pet, it's different, so you're cool. Which says something about the person's needs.

Marc Fisher: Then why not reverse the commute and have the person go hang with the wild animal in its own habitat? A win-win, no?


Dangerous people on the streets: I've got a friend who is clearly mentally ill, who needs serious psychiatric help. Because she does not think she is ill, she refuses to get help for herself. The family has been desperately trying to get services for her, but were told she had to hurt someone or herself first. Meanwhile, her health deteriorates, she cannot work, and her behavior gets more and more bizarre. It's a scary situation.

Marc Fisher: And sadly, an all too common one. I heard from hundreds of people facing such situations in the days following the Virginia Tech shootings. This has been true for decades, yet no government seems willing to take on the issue. Just too expensive and difficult, huh?


Buskers on metro: Any status on this plan? It has struck me as odd that a financially strapped system has found funds to pursue, audition and pay musicians that many will find a nuisance.

Marc Fisher: Metro held auditions a few weeks back, so the pilot program allowing music in certain stations is progressing. I don't know the start date.


Washington, D.C.: The dry cleaner case wasn't dismissed for frivolity because there is a colorable claim that the plaintiff's pants were lost. The frivolity or ludicrousness lies in the amount of damages this plaintiff is claiming. I think true justice would be him either losing his claim or winning it and being awarded $1 in damages for being such a jerk.

Marc Fisher:$1 in damages would be lovely.

And as Mr. Tony said on the radidio this morning, the plaintiff really ought to show up to court wearing the pants jacket, without the missing pants.


Meridian Hill Park construction: Could possibly have something to do with the water main break last month? Maybe.

Marc Fisher: Possible.


Downtown: Have you been following the effects of the smoking ban in D.C.? At the bar I most frequent, Fox and Hounds on 17th Street NW, the neighbors are up in arms because, GASP!, the smokers have been forced outside, where, GASP!, they might want to talk to each other. They've made all kinds of threats to the bar, when they should be complaining to the city that instituted this ridiculous measure. The bar responded by simply asking the smokers to move to the public sidewalk and not smoke on their patio, which seems reasonable.

Marc Fisher: The anti-smoking brigade won't stop until those smokers, and all smokers, are removed entirely from sight. We're more than willing to take any and all actions against smokers, but we dare not interfere with the lives of those who are deeply disturbed and cannot control their own behavior. The politicians and the busybodies are happy to tell us what we can eat, drink and smoke, but it would be terribly wrong to act when we know that someone is a danger to their community.


Washington, D.C.: Marc you were dead on with your post about Cho's mental health records. This secrecy that encourages providers to clam up about patients is what is wrong with our system. Our country in general is not very tolerant of mental health problems, so I understand the need for privacy to keep patients from being ostracized. That said, there is so much we could learn from his records, not to criminalize future patients, but to adequately serve their needs. Maybe one day we can move forward and help erase this stigma and help people seek the necessary treatment and in the process save hundreds of innocent lives.

Marc Fisher: Thanks, and even if we disagree about what records should be public while someone is alive, why can't we at least revert to the longstanding assumption that your privacy rights expire when you do? There is no social purpose in keeping secrets after death, especially when the taxpayers' dollars are at stake.


Baseball = BORING!: I thought you saved that stuff for the end of the chat.

Marc Fisher: And here's the end, with a couple more baseball posts:


Arlington, Va.: Marc, I read your blog on the Nats new stadium. So, how does it look thus far? I was reading the comments this morning that people left and a lot of whining, etc. I think the pricing is pretty fair! Only a small percentage is for the very rich. I just I hope I get the seats that I want. I've been 81 game season ticket holder for 3 years now (section 427) and I'm hoping for section 319/318. The seats are comparable to section 427 and it's only $ 3.00 more per seat.

Anyway, I, for one, am excited and I really appreciate Stan's honesty and straight-forwardness. You know what your getting with Stan.

Marc Fisher: Kasten is a totally driven guy who is the best chance we have for this franchise to put down roots and thrive here. Whether or not you're a fan, you want that to happen, if only to make certain the city gets a good return on its investment.


Half Smoke (sort of): Mark,

I am the one who wrote in last week with the bratwurst at the Diamond Club info. I also attended the game at RFK last night and had a pretty decent "hot and spicy" sausage sandwich (peppers optional -- I didn't take them). I bought it at one of the temporary stands on the main level around section 110. Great weather, great game, good food! Now, if the concessionaires would offer some decent mustard instead of that French's yellow glop ...

Marc Fisher: You'd think the Lerners, having put in a kosher snack stand, would get the need for brown mustard. But while they've made great improvements in the in-game entertainment--watch for presidential bobbleheads later this season, including what Kasten says is a truly amazing Teddy Roosevelt likeness coming up in September--there are still odd misapprehensions about the nature of this community. Example: What's with all the country music they're playing at the ballpark?


Tysons as Edge City: Yeah, the edge between the 7th and 8th layer of hell. Oh and yes I work there, for now at least. Ask me again in a month.

Marc Fisher: Come on back and tell us about it when you make the move.


S. Rockville, Md.: The "judge" shouldn't wear the suit jacket, what if the cleaner really has the pants, as he claims?

If the pants fit, you must acquit!

Marc Fisher: I may have to stand and shout that out at the appropriate moment.


Washington, D.C.: Does anybody out there know why there's a quote being carved on the wall of the entrance to the Dupont Circle Metro? Or even what the entire quote is?

Marc Fisher: Please email me if you have the details on that.


Stirring: Hey Marc, Peter Angelos said he'll pay for your $300.00 seat. tee-hee ...

Marc Fisher: But he's making me wear O's orange. Every day. For the rest of my life.


Marc Fisher: That kicks it in the head for today. Thanks for coming along. More in the paper on Sunday, and check out the big blog next Monday for a new initiative on the D.C. schools. There's more on Raw Fisher every day.

Gotta run--I have a monkey to feed.


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