Friday, November 30, 2007

Lingering Leaves Hobble Metro

From the WMATA:

Speed restrictions that were put in place this morning, Friday, November 30, for safety reasons were lifted at 8:10 a.m. The fall leaves combined with the morning dew caused unusually slippery conditions on Metrorail tracks, so trains were operating at slower-than-usual speeds during the morning rush hour from 5 until 8:10 a.m.

Customers experienced only minor delays of between three and five minutes as a result of the slower-moving trains.

Trains, which operate at speeds in the 55 mph range in some areas of the Metrorail system, were temporarily restricted to a maximum of 30 mph in several segments of the rail system. This directly impacted 27 of the system's 86 stations.

The leaves have lingered on trees longer than usual this season, and this year as they continue to fall, they get crushed onto the tracks by train wheels. The combination of the crushed leaves and morning dew has resulted in difficult braking and accelerating conditions for trains. Metro officials, who have been carefully monitoring morning weather conditions, slowed down the vehicles to improve safety conditions.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2008 Debate Locations Lean Southern - New Orleans Whines

The New York Times reports:

The Commission on Presidential Debates has picked Oxford, Miss.; St. Louis; Nashville; and Hempstead, N.Y., as the sites of the presidential and vice-presidential debates in the general election campaign next year.

New Orleans took offense at its omission, with a leader of one Louisiana advocacy group saying she had been told that the city had not recovered sufficiently from Hurricane Katrina to act as host of such an event. New Orleans was one of 16 finalists and has attracted major conventions since the hurricane devastated much of the city more than two years ago.


The debates have become a huge traveling road show, with a cast of 4,000 extras from the worlds of politics and the news media. In the case of Oxford, which has only 700 hotel rooms, overnight visitors will be bused to Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis.

In addition to Oxford, where the first presidential debate is to be held Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi, presidential debates are scheduled for Belmont University in Nashville on Oct. 7 and Hofstra University in Hempstead on Oct. 15. The vice-presidential debate is scheduled for Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 2.

The omission of New Orleans drew a sharp reaction from Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who said the commission had "lost sight of the public interest it was chartered to serve."

It is general knowledge that Louisiana Democrats are corrupt, but after failing to attract their own convention, why would they think they own the Commission on Presidential Debates too?

More importantly, if geography is the big issue, why aren't there any debates in the West?

Three of the four locations, in three contiguous southern states, are no more than 370 miles apart - close enough to all be in the same state. The locations represent the deep interior of the Confederacy, plus a suburb of New York City.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Metro Public Hearing Not Accessible by Metro

The Macaca Post reports:

Only four riders showed up to voice their opposition to the largest increases Metro has ever proposed in rail fares and parking fees.

One rider blamed the small turnout on the location, a conference center in Reston, that was not easily accessible by bus or rail. The rider said she could not even find it on MapQuest. Metro board member Catherine Hudgins, who represents Virginia, acknowledged that it was possible the location might have contributed to the small turnout.

It was only the first of six such hearings, but the choice of location (miles from any Metro station) is a bit bizarre.

Friday, November 09, 2007

First '08 Senate Bumper Sticker

I saw my first bumper sticker for the 2008 Virginia Senate race... for Democrat candidate Mark Warner... on a car that had been ticketed for parking illegally.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Status Quo in Sleepy Alexandria

The Alexandria Times reports:

Voter turnout in Alexandria was low - just over 20 percent - but Democrats voted in sufficient strength to send all five local incumbents back to Richmond.

The only truly contested race was in the 45th House District, where Democrat incumbent David Englin was challenged by Republican [and former Democrat] Mark Allen. Though Allen ran a well-funded, well-organized campaign, the results were the usual: Englin got 62 percent of the votes cast, and Allen received 38 percent of the votes cast. Allen won only one precinct, City Hall.


The only excitement came when Republicans and Democrats went to Circuit Court at just after 5 p.m. to ask for the polls to remain open after 7 p.m. because of a fire at the Pentagon Metro station.

"We were told that the Circuit Court had the authority to keep the polls open, but Judge John Kloch, who was on duty tonight, said he wasn't sure he had that authority," said Susan Kellom, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee.

According to [Tom Parkins, Alexandria's Voter Registrar], Virginia Code speaks about what a voter registrar is supposed to do if the polls are kept open by the Circuit Court, but, "apparently the lawyers couldn't find the Code section that gives the Circuit Court that implied authority."

"I didn't think they were going to keep the polls open for something like a fire in the Metro because that would be like keeping them open because there was an accident on I-395. The polls are usually kept open past regular closing time because someone in my position screws up and lots of voters are precluded from voting. That certainly wasn't the case here," Parkins said.

I was lucky enough to make it through the Pentagon and cast my vote and undervote before Virginia's polls closed shamefully early.

The real discovery of the night was that I was able to confirm that while Alexandria's voting machines don't allow undervotes in single-race elections, they are allowed in multiple-race elections.

Lethal Injection Opponent Finds Hanging Acceptable

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Defense attorney Lisa McCalmont was well-known nationally as an outspoken critic of lethal injection and amassed a trove of information about problems with the three-drug cocktail that is at the very center of a case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear early next year.

Colleagues say McCalmont, 49, was looking forward to the Supreme Court case as a momentous event in her career.

But then, last week, she hanged herself at her home in Norman - a suicide that stunned and baffled some of those who knew her.

...She left no suicide note.

At the time of her death, she was a consultant to the Death Penalty Clinic at the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, and worked passionately to save the lives of death row inmates. She advised attorneys across the country who were working on challenges to lethal injection.

McCalmont was not directly involved in the Kentucky case before the Supreme Court, in which two condemned men claim lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

But colleagues said she helped lay the groundwork for similar challenges in other jurisdictions. She argued that if the drugs were not properly administered, the condemned could suffer excruciating pain without being able to cry out.