Monday, September 29, 2008

Sendar to Appear at CCCA Meeting on Tuesday

Among the agenda items on the Convention Center Community Association (CCCA) meeting tomorrow, is derelict property owner Michael Sendar, who will report on his plans to develop his "Slum Historique" property at Rhode Island, 9th, and Q. He is, of course, seeking approval for a zoning variance to upgrade the property from residential to commercial. Should be interesting to hear.

Nominations will also be made for CCCA officers for the coming year (with the election to take place in October).

The meeting takes place at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 30 at the Kennedy Rec Center. Let's make it a good crowd.

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Burning Down the House

Oooowhee! Totally mesmerized by the failure of the bailout and watching the stock market drop like a rock. Haven't seen anything like this since the crash during Dubya's first term--scared even to look at what's happened to my retirement investments.

Let's see: Apparently, the American People are Mad as Hell and Not Going to Take it Any More, so they hate the bailout, even though pretty much everyone who actually knows anything about economics and financial markets says that failure to approve it will mean further foreclosures, bank failures, no credit availability, job loss--in short, a bad recession. But Average Joe either doesn't care or--more likely--doesn't even know what the consequences will be. He's just plain pissed.

Therefore, nearly everyone in Congress regards the bailout as poison Kool-Aid, with the Democrats saying we'll take ours if you'll take yours. So most of the Democrats dutifully down their dose, but 2/3 of the Republicans say "Ha-ha, fooled you, suckers," and pour theirs down the drain. Then they blame Nancy Pelosi for hurting their feelings, insisting they really would have voted for the bill if she hadn't been so mean.

Meanwhile, Bush is revealed as a dead, not lame, duck, and El Loco McCain, who claimed to have rescued the bill from defeat (which, of course, was total nonsense) just looks foolish. As of this posting, he has had nothing to say about the House vote. From my standpoint, that's the only silver lining in this very dark cloud.

I think it was Mencken who said, "no one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American people," but I think Mencken may be proved wrong in a way, when we all go broke.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fun Pix

Fratboy cut-ups Dubya and Vladimir getting ready to give that Asian guy a wedgie.

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska!" Sarah Palin in interview with Katie Couric.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Seventh Streeter" Blasts Everybody

Sarah Livingston, who writes and distributes her own neighborhood publication The Seventh Streeter, has just published a new issue in which she denounces all of the current ANC commissioners and announces her own candidacy for the ANC2C01 seat currently held by Alex Padro. I won't attempt to repeat all of her rather complicated argument (here's the link if you want to read it for yourself), but I think it's worth addressing some of the allegations and points she raises.

Her article centers around the recent Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) hearing regarding the property at Rhode Island, 9th, and Q for which the owner, Michael Sendar, is petitioning for a zoning variance to allow commercial use. (It is currently zoned R4 residential.) Links to other discussion of the issue can be found in my post "Rewarding Bad Behavior" earlier this month. She chastizes Padro for supporting the petition as a single member of the ANC rather than bringing it to the whole ANC, but further alleges that he is furthering his own private interests rather than those of the public.

Comment: Personally, I think supporting the Sendar petition is wrong, particularly given his total neglect of the property and utter disregard for the neighborhood. Sendar has also somehow managed to avoid paying the vacant property tax even though the property has been empty and rotting away since 2001. Granting him the variance would be essentially rewarding him for bad behavior, because it enhances the value of the property if he tries to sell it, which he claims to be doing. I believe Alex's argument is that it would be better to have a functioning business in the property than for it to remain empty, which would be reasonable except for the fact that variances are normally granted for specific purposes, while Sendar is apparently seeking a non-specific variance. As I understand it, the immediate neighbors--particularly Ray Milefsky--are not unalterably opposed to any business use, but rather want guarantees that whatever goes in there will be something that contributes to improvement of the neighborhood rather than some obnoxious nuisance enterprise. As for the dark hints of personal gain (I guess that's what she means), I'd like to see something to back them up.

She then goes on to allege that there is a "tiny cabal" of people who "are seeking to make all the decisions about the neighborhood's future and their modus operandi is to take advantage of the ANC's dysfunction to further their aims." As evidence, she claims that Padro and fellow commissioner Kevin Chapple have deliberately failed to overcome the ANC's dysfunction in order to promote their own communications with constituents via Chapple's website and SMD publication and criticizes them for acting independently of the ANC as a whole.

Comment: This stikes me as bizarre. And, who exactly is the "tiny cabal?" No argument here as to the ANC's notorious dysfunction, but to criticize Kevin and Alex for seeking to circumvent Leroy Thorpe's continued throttlehold on the ANC is ludicrous and most unfair. If anyone has taken advantage of the ANC's dysfunction, it's Thorpe, who is its primary cause. When Thorpe was the actual ANC chair (as opposed to its unelected defacto boss, operating through his two puppets, which he is now), the ANC had no communications whatever. It had (and still has) no website, minutes were never published, and the agenda wasn't distributed in advance, anyone who questioned Thorpe's edicts was silenced. Thorpe and his allies have continued to oppose openness--going so far as to shut down meetings rather than allow them to be recorded. The "leadership" of Chair Doris Brooks, who does nothing without Thorpe whispering--literally--in her ear, has been spiteful and obstructionist, rejecting any attempt to bridge the gap. I and, I think, most people regard Kevin's newletter and website as a great resource, and if he needs to sell ads to help pay the costs of the newsletter (remember he is not paid to be on the ANC and the newsletter doesn't get published for free), so what? His website has welcomed opposing--even hostile--viewpoints, and it posts information about all manner of issues and events of interest to the neighborhood residents. Kevin's SMD meetings have been a model of what ANC meetings should be, and the reason he holds them is because the actual ANC meetings--if they're even held--have created a toxic atmosphere that tends to stifle exchange of views and information.

Livingston then claims that "members of the cabal provoked matters in Shaw's traditional civic association as a springboard for splitting from that body and setting up a separate association which Martin Moulton is now the president of and which recently hosted a candidate's forum in Shaw for candidates from all SMDs in the ANC2C area."

Comment: For those who don't know or may have forgotten, the "traditional civic association" is the East Central Civic Association (ECCA). Following his defeat in the 2006 ANC election, Leroy Thorpe seized control of the ECCA in December 2006 in an unscheduled and illegitimate "election" over which he personally presided, ousting then-president Betty Newell, who was clearly stunned and humiliated by his surprise move. He then proceeded to run the ECCA, just as he had run the ANC, as his personal fiefdom rather than the public neighborhood group it had purported to be. He ejected Martin Moulton and another neighborhood resident who had supported Kevin Chapple on the ANC election (and who live on the same block where the ECCA meetings are held) simply for attending and attempting to record the proceedings of a supposedly public meeting. He went so far as to obtain a police ban on their presence in the church where the meetings take place.

In light of these actions and Thorpe's continued obstructionism in the ANC as its "Parliamentarian" and "Executive Assistant" to the titular chair, a number of neighborhood residents--myself included--decided to form a new association--the Convention Center Community Association (CCCA)--which is still in the organizational stage. I believe anyone who has attended the CCCA meetings will attest to the fact that--in contrast to the ECCA--it is a open and democratic organization which is not designed to further the personal ambitions of any individual.

The CCCA did, in fact, host a well-attended candidates forum on September 18, to which all ANC2C candidates--including Sarah Livingston--and Ward 2 council candidates were invited. I'm at a loss to understand why Ms. Livingston thinks this was a bad thing. Jack Evans and his Republican opponent Christina Culver participated, as did ANC incumbents Chapple and Padro and challengers Jessica Lanza and Theresa Sule. Neither Ms. Livingston nor any of the other ANC candidates showed up. If she had wanted to present her ideas about what's wrong with the ANC and what she proposed to do about it, this would have been a perfect opportunity.

As much as I admire Sarah Livingston's civic activism and commitment to improving the neighborhood, I think her current publication does a disservice to several people who are at least equally committed to making Shaw a better place.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

El Loco Rides into Town, Guns Blazing

I admit it: I'm totally transfixed by the utter lunacy that has seized our country's political and financial spheres. So, where are we now...?

John McCain seems to have come unhinged. Here's a man who based his entire campaign on his claim to superior experience and judgment. So what does he do? He picks Britney's Mom as his vice-presidential running mate, then realizes that she seems like an absolute dingbat whenever she opens her mouth, so puts her in a bag to shut her up, but she still sticks her head out once in a while to utter something incoherent and preposterous. Then comes the financial melt down, about which he has no clue. First he says things are really fine, but when it becomes obvious they're not, he says the situation is so bad that he must suspend his campaign to go Save the Country. So he doesn't really suspend his campaign, but threatens no-show at the presidential debate and then ditches Letterman because he has to fly to Washington immediately to Save the Country. But he doesn't actually fly to Washington, but rather goes across Manhattan to do an interview with Katie Couric, who has just taped an interview with Britney's Mom revealing her once again to be more suitable for a "Jaywalking" segment on Leno than national office.

The next morning, Obama proposes that they both issue a joint statement of principles for solving the financial crisis to try to calm things down, but Crazy John won't take the call. Instead he issues his own sky-is-falling announcement and says he will fly to Washington to Take Charge of the congressional negotiations on the bail-out and Save the Country. Meanwhile, the congressional negotiations had been going pretty well because people who actually knew shit were dealing with the issues, and they had reshaped the Paulson give-me-all-your-money-or-you-die plan into something close to a plan that might actually work. But then Dubya (remember him?), in a last ditch effort to seem like a real president, summons everyone to the White House.

They all show up, but then everything goes to hell, because the white trash wing of the Republican party decides to rebel against their own administration and the president-whose-name-cannot-be-spoken by coming up with their own apeshit proposal because, by God, they ain't going to give no money to them arugula-munching Wall Street types who got us into this mess. Folks, this is more or less the equivalent of a ghetto riot where people decide to get even with the people who have been screwing them by burning down their own neighborhood.

And where is Crazy John on all this? We don't know.

Just in case you're wondering about the new Republican proposal, here are a couple of its key points that really caught my eye:
--Insure all mortgage-backed securities with a Treasury-designed system charging the holders of these (largely junk) assets premiums to finance the system, rather than using tax dollars.
--"Draw private capital into the market by removing regulatory and tax barriers...currently blocking private capital formation."
(The whole thing was in today's NYT.)

Huh? Let's see if I got this straight... The financial institutions that are foundering because they're holding billions in junk mortgage securities would save themselves by pouring money into an yet non-existent self-financing insurance company?? But these companies don't have enough capital to stay afloat as it is (which is the basic problem), so where would the premium money come from? But the second idea about "removing regulatory and tax barriers" is what really got me. Isn't that really what caused this crisis in the first place? Jesus wept.

Can't wait to see if El Loco shows up for the debate tonight.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palin Watch, 9/25/08

In case you thought those first cringe-inducing encounters with actual journalists were just flukes,...oh, what the hell. Just go to Wonkette for the Divine Sarah's latest utterances of random words in all their excruciating awfulness. (Keep scrolling down, because there are several posts--all totally worthwhile.)

OMG, is it possible she's really this stupid? Check out Couric's face while Palin is babbling. She can't friggin' believe it!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Palin Watch, 9/24/08

Whoa, check out the Divine Sarah's response to a really, really hard question from Katie Couric here. She wasn't runner up Miss Alaska for nothing!

Here's the transcript of another snippet.

Well, maybe Katie was being a mean girl.


Rewarding Bad Behavior

"In the District, officials haved identified a $131 million revenue shortfall, which will force the city to cut funding for programs in the fiscal year that begins next month." Washington Post, 9/24/08

"[Harriette Walters] watched as other workers [in the DC Office of Tax and Revenue] routinely received gifts in exchange for reducing tax liability." Washington Post editorial, 9/24/08

"The White House waged a multifront campaign Tuesday to persuade Congress to accept its vast economic bailout plan, though many in Congress...continued to push for ...stronger protection for taxpayers and impose tougher terms on financial institutions." New York Times, 9/24/08

"The bottom line is that the Planning Office, BZA, Evans, and Padro (in his dual hats) is intent on rewarding Sendar with a commercial variance so he can sell at a better price." Ray Milefsky post on ShawNeighborhood listserve, 8/24/08

Is there a connection between these quotes that I just read this morning regarding issues that range from the global to the intensely local? I think there is. Please bear with me while I try to explain.

The Bush administration, having spent the past seven years gleefully dismantling the regulatory mechanisms of the financial system, is now proposing a no-strings bailout of the same institutions that created the current economic disaster, giving the Treasury Secretary absolute control over what happens with potentially $700 billion in public funds and asking for no accountability whatever for the people who ran the financial institutions being rescued. The plan, as presented to Congress, would have the federal government take over the bad debt that Wall Street is now stuck with--debt that no one, repeat no one, knows the value of. As for how much the feds would pay for it--well, they just say "trust us." The guys who are getting your and my money can then go their merry way without even a slap on the wrist.

It's as if you had bought a Bentley and didn't insure it, then smashed it into a tree and had the brass balls to ask the government to compensate you for it without their knowing the extent of the damage. Is it repairable and still worth $100K? Or is it a worthless mass of smoking metal? "Trust me," you say, "I'll tell you what it's worth." The administration plan is really the ultimate expression of the culture of non-accountability that Bush and his cronies have fostered since they've been in office.

Let's descend from the national to the local: At the CCCA candidates forum last Thursday, DC council member Jack Evans assured the audience that the District was still in good financial shape despite the current financial meltdown. Now it looks like that may not be quite true--DC is being affected like everyone else. Obviously, what happens in the national economy is not within the control of the DC government. However, the collection of revenue to fund the city's programs is very much within the DC government's control--or at least it should be.

The trouble is that the DC government does a poor job of collecting the taxes that it is owed--particularly property taxes. The reasons for this include lax leadership and oversight, a laughably chaotic and irrational tax assessment system, lazy and self-serving employees in the agencies responsible, and good old-fashioned corruption. A shortfall of $131 million isn't all that much in a multi-billion dollar DC budget, and it could probably be made up just by collecting the taxes that the District should be getting. But will that happen? No, because no one ever seems to be accountable.

The OTR tax scandal, which bilked the taxpayers of at least $48 million, is the perfect case in point. Mother Harriette may have been the evil genius in the scheme, but the fact that no one at OTR ever noticed embezzlement on such a collosal scale bespeaks gross, if not criminal, negligence on the part of those running the agency. At the CCCA forum we asked Jack Evans (who is the Chair of the Council's Committee on Finance and Revenue) what had happened with regard to the administrative investigation and accountabity within OTR. He responded that four supervisors in Walters' department had been fired and now that the criminal trial was ended, the internal investigation could go forward. Well, the scandal came to light last November and only now there's going to be a serious inquiry into practices and accountability at OTR? I don't know if CFO Gandhi deserves to be fired or not, but failing to have a thorough inquiry into this ten months later strikes me as inexplicable. It's like disciplining a couple of enlisted soldiers over Abu Ghraib while leaving the brass who allowed it to happen untouched. More non-accountability.

Perhaps more to the point, how do we know that this sort of crap isn't still going on? The press investigation of the scandal at the time suggested that virtually everyone in the office was implicated to some degree--if not by being directly on the take then by being coopted by receiving gifts or loans from Mother Harriette's ill-gotten gains--and that they knew something was wrong but never said anything. Even if their involvement didn't rise the level of criminal charges, are these people still there?

In addition to the direct embezzlement, the Post editorial indicates that there was (is?) a corrupt culture wherein employees "routinely received gifts for reducing tax liability". I suspect that this continues to this day, and it brings me to the fourth quote above, regarding the notorious Sendar property at the intersection of Rhode Island, 9th, and Q--the "slum historique."

The issue here is whether the DC zoning board will grant Sendar a commercial variance on the properties which would significantly enhance their value as he tries to sell them. The properties in question have been vacant since 2001 and a festering nuisance long before that. (For further background see here and here and here.) Basically, granting the petition would reward an owner who has kept the property a moldering ruin. Best of all, even though the property has been vacant for the last seven years and has even been on DC's vacant property list, it has escaped being taxed at the vacant property rate, representing a enormous saving for the owner and equivalent loss for the DC treasury. Could there be a connection here? Just wondering.

I could cite other examples of highly questionable tax assessments in the immediate neighborhood. Multiply that city-wide and it amounts to a lot of money. How many of these strange assessments represent favors being granted in OTR? Isn't it worth looking into, particularly at a time when the city is facing a revenue shortfall?

When Mr. Ray, who has lived next door to the Sendar property for decades, was preparing his testimony before the BZA, I suggested that he include remarks on the tax status. He said that an Office of Planning apparatchik had told him not to bring it up because "it did not pertain to zoning." Oh really?! Basically, the zoning petition is another "trust me" plea--specifically that the owner will not allow an obnoxious "business" to open up in the property. So why isn't the tax status relevant since the petition rests on the credibility of the owner?

Okay, maybe a financial bailout needs to be done. And maybe the neighborhood would be better off with commercial activity in the Sendar property. And maybe this amounts to rewarding bad behavior. But there's a question of degree here, and we certainly have a right to demand guarantees and accountability, because the record tells us that otherwise these guys are not going to do the right thing.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jeopardy Answer: Lipstick

Ever since McCain plucked Sarah Palin out of an episode of Northern Exposure (actually she sort of looks like Janine Whateverhernamewas), people have been trying to recall any similar instance of picking someone so spectacularly unqualified for Heartbeat-Away-from-Leader-of-the-Formerly-Free-World. Dan Quayle (remember him?) probably comes closest since he was apparently picked because of his golf score. But he was such a cipher twink that he really doesn't compare.

Actually, from what we can tell, Palin is much more like Bush in drag. They both come from states with false, but fervently held, belief in their specialness based on a largely ficticious myth of rugged self-reliance. (Alaska is essentially a welfare state living off of subsidies from the federal government and oil companies.) They both cultivate the image of frontier ruggedness--Palin poses in camo and (allegedly) can field dress a moose; Bush wears cowboy boots and likes to clear brush on the ranch. They share evangelical faith that they know and are implementing God's will and don't really believe in science. They share disdain for protecting the environment and reject global warming and evolution as just a "theory". They pick people for important posts because they like them, not because they're qualified. (Harriet Myers? Alberto Gonzales? Brownie?) They both came to the national stage with an abysmal ignorance of foreign affairs. Remember how Bush was all buddy-buddy with Putin because he "saw into his soul"? Palin thinks she's ready because "you can see Russia from Alaska". Most frighteningly, they both show contempt for actual knowledge as opposed to right-wing political theology.

The analogy isn't perfect, of course. Palin's background really is marginal middle class, and she bounced around several community colleges before getting runner-up as Miss Alaska and finally graduating from the University of Idaho. W's redneck cred is totally bogus, having come from old New England money and schooling at Phillips Academy, Yale, and Harvard Biz. Of course, he got into Yale as a "legacy" (affirmative action for rich white kids), and it's pretty clear that he didn't get into Harvard Biz based on his academic record or business acumen. But he obviously didn't learn anything, and his dimwittedness has been reliable fodder for Leno pretty much nightly. Then there's Palin's interviews with Charles Gibson and a couple of subsequent unscripted brushes with the press which were so excruciatingly embarrassing that I almost felt sorry for her.

Maybe the infatuation with Palin stems partially from relief that we didn't have the loathsome Joe Lieberman thrust upon us. But God help us if the Palin-McCain ticket wins, and the Certified War Hero croaks! That shrill screechy voice alone would be enough to put the TV on mute for the next four years.

By the way, apparently not everyone in Alaska thinks the Divine Sarah hung the Northern Lights. Check out this report.

Addendum: OMG, it keeps getting better. Check out the video in this post. This woman could become president, people!


Friday, September 19, 2008

A Good Night at the CCCA Candidates Forum

There was a standing-room-only crowd for last night's candidates forum at the Long View Gallery sponsored by the Convention Center Community Association (CCCA). I think the consensus of those in attendance was that the format worked well--we got thoughtful answers to serious questions in an informal but respectful atmosphere. [Full disclosure: Your humble servant was one of the moderators and drafted the questions along with co-moderator Virginia Lee.]

Kudos to Martin Moulton and Charles Walker for organizing the forum and thanks to Ron Greene of Good Libations and to Veranda Restaurant and Safeway for providing a great spread of food and drink.

I had not met or even heard Christina Culver (Jack Evans' Republican challenger) previously, but she appears to be a respectable candidate with some interesting views on the issues. But she will have work very hard to overcome the depth of knowledge and extensive experience that Evans demonstrated in his responses to the questions.

Most of the time was focused on the ANC. Commissioner Mike Bernardo represented ANC2F (basically the Logan Circle area), which works well and would be a model for ANC2C to emulate if the current deadlock on the commission can be broken. Incumbents Kevin Chapple and Alex Padro as well as new candidates Theresa Sule and Jessica Lanza took part last night. None of their opponents deigned to show up, though all were invited to do so. This is a perfect example of their contempt for the community, which the basic reason that ANC2C remains such a pathetic parody. On November 4 we have a chance to change all that.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ANC and Ward 2 Candidates Forum, Thursday Night

Come out to meet the candidates for our Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and Ward 2 council member in the November 4 general election at the forum sponsored by the Convention Center Community Association Thursday evening (September 18) 7-9 p.m. at the Long View Gallery, 1302 9th Street. Candidates will introduce themselves and answer questions about their plans for dealing with issues that affect all of us in the Shaw Neighborhood. Ward 2 incumbent council member Jack Evans and his Republican opponent, Christina Culver, will be there as well as at least 5 of the ANC candidates for ANC2C and ANC2F. This will be an ideal setting to get to know them in an informal setting.

If you're not familiar with the workings of the ANC, this is a chance to find out about this most basic level of the DC government, which has an important impact on what happens and doesn't happen in our neighborhood. The upcoming election will be critical in ANC2C, which covers most of Shaw east of 9th Street plus other areas extending to the Capitol, including much of the Penn Quarter/Gallery Place/Chinatown area downtown (see map here). If you have been following the issues, you know that ANC2C has been immobilized by stalemate. Two new candidates--Theresa Sule and Jessica Lanza--are challenging for the seats currently held by Barbara Curtis and Doris Brooks.

If you are not yet registered to vote in DC, you can register online at The registration deadline to vote in the November election is October 6.

Refreshments will be provided by the Veranda Restaurant, Good Libations, and Safeway, so come on out and attend this important event!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Miracles of the "Private" Sector

"The council under my leadership subsiduzed [sic] this safeway with over 10 million dollars in tax breaks. This was done to bring a first class store to the neighborhood. Ok. Let the snide comment fly." 9/13/08 e-mail from Jack Evans

Well, I'm delighted to have the new Safeway here, so there won't be any snideness from me about this. I'm probably like most residents in less-favored areas of DC who are so desperate to see positive development in our neighborhoods that we'll endorse pretty much anything to get it. A panic went through the community briefly just this morning because of word that DC council member Phil Mendelson had pulled his support for the "Tax Increment Funding Debt (TIF)" amounting to $46 million in subsidies to Roadside, the developers of the O Street Market project. We want this so bad, we don't care what it takes.

Still, the skeptic in me can't help wondering about a system where the taxpayers have to bribe private developers with public subsidies and tax breaks to induce them to build projects for the developers' profit. Are these projects intrinsically so unprofitable that they can only be workable with taxpayer subsidies? Is DC really such an undesirable market that this is the only way to get development? Do we really need to build a stadium for a losing baseball team's private investors, who then turn around and stiff us for the rent? I know the argument that such subsidies stimulate further development that more than compensates for the foregone tax revenue, but I do wonder if the reality bears out such assumptions.

Actually, the truth is that the "private sector" that the Republicans (in particular) so love to extol almost doesn't exist anymore. What we have instead is government-subsidized capitalism (a variant of what was once called National Socialism). It pervades the entire economy, from agriculture to manufacturing to construction to the huge contracting companies that have taken over government functions so extensively that the federal government can't operate without them.

Even though the Bush regime has gutted the country's regulatory system and progressive tax structure,
the Republicans still aren't satisfied and continue to bitch about government regulation and taxes. But the minute it hits the fan, Bear Stearns, Freddie, Fanny, and all the rest come blubbering to Uncle Sugar to bail them out. Maybe Lehmann Bros. will prove the exception--maybe--but I'll bet some kind of parachute appears to soften the fall. (By the way, have you checked out the value of your 401k in the last couple of days? Still want to privatize social security?)

Alas, we've all sipped the Kool-Aid and there's no escaping it now. So I'll just enjoy our shiny new Safeway and hope Roadside really does replace the rotten tooth at O Street market and try not to think too much about how it all came about. Just please spare me the hypocritical right-wing cant about the wonders of the uninhibited free market place.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Hello Safeway, Goodbye Giant!

I've been taking a long vacation from posting on this blog--for various reasons--but thought I might just take it up again.

It's nice to be able to pick up again on a positive note, namely the opening of the new Safeway store at City Vista at NY and 5th. I went over there around noon today and was truly wowed. What a fantastic addition to the neighborhood, and what a change from what we've been stuck with at our sadsack Giant.

I was a bit concerned that it would just be a limited store focusing on high-end "gourmet" items for non-cooking apartment dwellers, but it is anything but that. First of all, the place is HUGE! It has everything you could possibly want no matter what your tastes. The produce section is very extensive and attractive, and the deli shop and prepared food sections will be giving Whole Foods a run for their money.

Best of all, the employees seem excited and happy to be there and appear to understand the concept of customer service, unlike so many at the Giant who apparently think that giving the customers a little attitude is part of the job description. And it didn't take me 45 minutes to check out!

Let's see if Giant has an answer when the new O Street Market goes up. In the meantime, Safeway will be getting my grocery dollar.