Locally, the State of the Union will indeed be screwing up traffic on the Hill for the evening rush. The general consensus is don't bother driving anywhere near the Capitol this evening. For those who want to be all technical about it, here are the road closures. Technically these closures won't go into effect until 7:30 pm, so don't work too late if you drove to your job on the Hill. Bigger question--who will be the doomsday person? That is the one cabinet member who does not attend the speech in the event that someone blows up the Capitol. I remember back in 2003, when the doomsday dude was then Attorney General John Ashcroft. Talk about a nailbiter.
Michelle Rhee tries to explain herself to the Council. "No you idiot, dig up!" As we know, Michelle Rhee told Fast Company magazine that some of those people she laid off definitely deserved it, because they did things like hit children or have sex with them. She spoke in definite terms, and did not say anything like "teachers accused of improper conduct." In fact, she said "who had sex with children." Well, now, she's backtracking. The teachers "who had sex with children" as really one teacher who was accused of improper conduct with a student, and was under investigation. The teacher was apparently let go before the investigation concluded. The Council isn't very happy with Rhee's response, for a variety of reasons. Personally, I think it's lame she tried to characterize the RIF'd teachers as being abusers, especially sexual abusers. Additionally, since her own fiance has been accused of improper sexual conduct, I think it's a stupid realm for her to even get involved in. MPD wouldn't comment on any investigation, or even say if any investigation was underway. For all we know a teacher was fired for an untrue accusation.
A little more information on the fatal Metro accident. From WTOP we learn:
I will say this is more information that has been immediately released about any other recent incident involving track workers. I'm very pleased that the NTSB is investigating this incident. I cannot tell you how much I do not want to write about track workers being stuck and killed. This is such a tragedy. Outgoing Metro Board Chairman Jim Graham has attributed the accident to human error, but somewhere along the way a system also failed. Another interesting factoid: the equipment that struck the workers (essentially a pickup truck that can go on railroad tracks) does not emit a beeping alert when in reverse on tracks. It does emit a beep when backing up on the street. Who in the world made that design decision? Seriously, someone decided that the truck would not beep when backing up on a rails. What downside could there possibly be by having the backup alert? Each time one of these incidents occurs I feel like I need to refocus my efforts on collecting information on Metro safety. The job isn't done just because Catoe resigned.
"According to preliminary information from WMATA, there were two groups of employees assigned to work in the area of the accident," says Steven Klejst, the NTSB's investigator in charge of the accident.
"WMATA had assigned two automatic train control technicians to replace track communications equipment between the rails. WMATA also had assigned four track workers to inspect and replace third rail cover boards."
Klejst says the four track workers were inside a modified, rail-riding truck that hit the other two workers. He says it appears the truck was traveling in reverse at the time of impact, but it's not unusual for that kind of equipment to be operated in both directions.
It's not clear how fast the truck was moving at the time the men were hit.
"Interviews are being conducted with the four track workers," Klejst says. "Other items being covered in our investigation include conditions at the time of the accident such as lighting, weather (and) ambient noise."
The NTSB also plans to gather all of the radio communications between the crews and the operation control center. It's not known yet if the accident was caught on surveillance video.
Klejst says it's also not known yet if the two groups knew they were working so close to one another.
He says it will take a few days to get the results of drug and alcohol testing done after the accident.
In case you missed it, see my research regarding track worker safety. You can read the first portion of the Price of Safety series, where I discuss the deaths of track workers. In that piece, I noted the following from July 2008.
Mr. Catoe raised the following issues such as recognizing gradual changes to operating conditions, getting "out in front" of safety problems publicly, and leadership acceptance of responsibility and commitment to solving and tracking problems. Mr. Catoe emphasized the importance of top‐down leadership and accountability, and direct communication with employees. He also shared the importance of rules enforcement programs and agency‐wide participation.How many more times will we have to do this?
Don't forget, tonight is the public hearing on the Metro budget. Metro needs a lot of help, and hell, a good two-thirds of this morning round-up have been dedicated to the agency. As much as I hate to say it, fares need to be increased. The agency needs more resources. We can hope that a new General Manager is found who can make some much needed improvements, but we also need better and more stable financing. Since no one is going to step up to provide a better funding stream, a fare hike is all we've got. Cutting service is not a good option.
Nationals Park, aka the Vortex of Suck, nabs Dave Matthews. I understand a good 75% of my readers visit here from federal agencies, so I imagine there are a lot of Dave Matthews (Band) fans here. Back in sixth grade, DMB was what the cool kids listened to. Well, correction, those kids weren't actually the cool kids. The real cool kids listened to the music I wouldn't hear about until college. Anyhow, it only seems fitting that the stadium that hosts one of the worst teams in baseball will be hosting the Dave Matthews Band. In fact, I imagine attending a DMB concert is a lot like going to a Nationals game. It's long, the players are way past their peak, and you feel seriously overcharged. But at least you've got access to beer. I know there's so much to say about this, but I'm about to crash. You can find me under the table dreaming about a world where Teddy wins, we can all vote, and Dave Matthews sticks to playing in Charlottesville.
OK folks, enjoy your busy busy news day. Remember, the best State of the Union address President Obama will ever give is the one you are imagining in your head right now.