Throwing a coin into a fountain for good luck may date to the Roman Empire, when life-giving spirits were thought to dwell in water. These days, fountains in Washington are still magnets for coins that provide a lift to local charities or the fountains’ owners.
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
Number of fountains: Four.
Take: Josh Wample of Cascade Fountains says a UN’s worth of currency is found, from euros to Canadian pennies.
Annual haul: Less than $1,000.
Goes to: Children’s Miracle Network.
National Building Museum
Number of fountains: One, in the Great Hall.
Cleaned: As needed.
Annual haul: About $500 in 2013.
Goes to: The museum’s general fund.
National Gallery of Art
Number of fountains: Nine.
Cleaned: East and West Garden Court fountains in West Building are cleaned with a Shop-Vac monthly; West Building’s Rotunda, Garden Café, and Sculpture Garden fountains as needed.
Annual haul: $5,000.
Goes to: Classified as unrestricted gift to the museum.
Cleaned: Once a year.
Annual haul: $60.
Goes to: Buckets of collected coins are turned over to Alexandria Vocational Services, which uses it for picnics and other parties for clients.
Number of fountains: 17.
Cleaned: Fountains are turned off for the winter; passersby take coins before National Park Service employees can collect them.
Annual haul: Unknown.
Goes to: National Mall fund.
This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
Kevin Giblin, who led the elite Georgetown Preparatory School’s lacrosse squads to two national number-one rankings during his tenure, has submitted a letter of resignation after his alleged involvement in a bar fight at Caddies on Cordell, a restaurant and bar in Bethesda, in mid-June.
Giblin’s resignation comes days after Washingtonian contacted Giblin and Georgetown Prep to answer questions about the altercation.
Today Georgetown Prep athletic director Dan Paro e-mailed lacrosse players and their parents to say he had accepted Giblin’s resignation. In his e-mail, Paro credited Giblin for leading Prep’s lacrosse team to ten IAC titles, in addition to the national rankings, and a 424-89 record during his tenure.
“Over 27 years, Coach Giblin has been honored as ‘Coach of the Year’ 12 times by various organizations, including The Washington Post, the Gazette, US Lacrosse, the Maryland State Lacrosse Coaches Association, and the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Association, among others,” Paro wrote.
Two sources familiar with the situation said Wednesday that Giblin’s resignation came as a direct result of the bar incident. “If he had not gotten into that fight, he would still be Preps’ lacrosse coach,” said a person familiar with the situation.
Contacted Wednesday, Coyle again declined to comment. Giblin did not respond to e-mails and voicemails requesting comment.
The birthday card was splattered with messages that almost obscured the image of a fedora-wearing, cigar-chomping Kevin Spacey, and the greeting: “Happy Birthday to a man who wears a lot of hats.” Among the scrawls was “Not to mention pants,” from Rachel Goslins, director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, “Happy B-Day,” from White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard, and this from Terry McAuliffe’s friend and fundraiser Peter O’Keefe: “From the Clinton Library opening to your birthday!”
They were among a select group of friends, and current and would-be corporate supporters of Kevin Spacey’s foundation, who gathered on a sunny and breezy Georgetown rooftop Tuesday evening to drink Champagne and sign the custom-made birthday greeting for the House of Cards star, who turned 55 last Saturday.
The fact that Spacey was elsewhere, filming the hit series, didn’t diminish the celebration.
The guests were mostly lobbying insiders, including Heather Podesta, Erik Huey, James Assey, Gerry Harrington, and Melissa Maxfield, who gathered on the Capella hotel rooftop to meet and greet Spacey surrogate Steve Winter, who has worked with the actor for ten years in London and New York and is program director of the four-year-old Kevin Spacey Foundation. Winter was practically dizzy from a whirlwind day that included a first-ever visit to the United States Capitol, where he met the chiefs of staff of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Steny Hoyer. Wednesday, Winter was scheduled for another personal first: a visit to the White House to meet with Bernard, among others.
The turnout at the party and Winter’s access around town is a testament to the power in Washington of Spacey, who has been a political groupie for years, well before helping to create the Emmy-nominated Netflix show in which he stars as Frank Underwood, a devious political animal who begins as Democratic Majority Whip and rises rapidly through the ranks. As far back as Dick Gephardt’s 2004 campaign for the presidency, Spacey was spotted on the hustings. Today, according to Winter, the politician he hangs out with is former president Bill Clinton. Since Spacey is a noted crooner and Clinton is a sometimes saxophonist, we wondered if there’d been any duets. Not yet, said Winter, “but that’s an idea.”
Chief White House correspondent, Fox News
My vacation is blazing-hot desert days in, say, Palm Springs—better than stifling DC humidity. I’ll play early-morning golf, then hit the pool to read. I’m starting to write a book about Jackie Robinson, and The Last Hero, Howard Bryant’s 2011 biography of Hank Aaron, is going to be my spark to finish it.
Restaurant Eve chef and coauthor of My Irish Table
When I’m working, I wind up reading the same three to four sentences over and over, so I usually stick to fast-paced CIA thrillers, like those by Vince Flynn. I like to read slightly more challenging books on vacation. This season I’m looking forward to Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin—completely different, which will be entirely welcome.
Executive director, Center for Responsive Politics
My reading will be a bit heavy at first. There was a recent 60 Minutes piece on members of Congress engaging in insider trading, so I’m going to page through last fall’s Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets by Peter Schweizer. After that, I have a list from my book club, in which I’m a perennial member in bad standing. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch I’ll never finish, but next up is Peter Heller’s novel The Dog Stars.
Washington bureau chief, ABC News
First I’ll read Next Life Might Be Kinder, a novel by Howard Norman, a Maryland author. I like mysteries and adventure in the summer, so I’m excited to have the latest books from two favorite mystery authors lined up: By Its Cover by Donna Leon and Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes. For a two-week beach trip in August: Flying Shoes by native Washingtonian—and fellow Walt Whitman High School grad—Lisa Howorth, a fictionalized account of her stepbrother’s murder in the 1960s.
Washington Post foreign-affairs columnist whose latest spy novel is The Director
I’m encouraging people to read Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy (An Army at Dawn, The Day of Battle, and The Guns at Last Light), about World War II and among the finest military histories ever written. Everything the US touched nearly went wrong, so it ends up being a story of persistence as much as inevitable victory. I’m sort of a serial monogamist when it comes to authors, so once I started this, I had to finish.
Heather O’Beirne Kelly
Military and veterans’ mental-health advocate
Fiction is the perfect antidote to the journals and appropriations bills that constitute much of my work reading. I’ve preordered The Long Way Home by Louise Penny, who sets her mysteries in a village outside Quebec. I also just picked up the new memoirs by New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff (How About Never—Is Never Good for You?) and Roz Chast, one of his contributors (Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?).
Owner, Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot
I love New Orleans and wish for it to be my home one day. I gobble up all I can about it, and next on my list is Flood of Lies: The St. Rita’s Nursing Home Tragedy by James A. Cobb Jr.
Georgetown law professor, former deputy assistant secretary of State for human rights
When I get to Nantucket, I transition from legal tomes. My list includes David Grossman’s To the End of the Land, a brilliant, subtle depiction of the Israeli-Palestinian divide by an opponent of the West Bank occupation, and Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia, which uses T.E. Lawrence’s story to explore the current conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Lastly, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a 700-page slog but indispensable for understanding the middle class’s decline.
Washington bureau chief, Wall Street Journal
I’ll tote the Timothy Geithner and Hillary Clinton books on vacation this year, and Robert Timberg’s Blue-Eyed Boy. I was a White House correspondent with him, and his memoir about his horrific injuries in Vietnam and the men he met, who formed the genesis of the book, is sure to be compelling.
To kick off the summer, I’m reading Robert Gates’s memoir of his time as Defense Secretary, Duty. I’m a military brat who only wanted to attend West Point, so it’s interesting to see how he got where he did and how haunting the job really was. On our family beach trip: Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner—the wi-fi at our place in Litchfield Beach, South Carolina, is terrible, so I plan to have a little something to exercise my brain.
It’s official: The District will no longer be home to Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Instead, the bureau’s next headquarters will be suburban, according to a short list of potential sites released Tuesday by the General Services Administration that includes plots in Greenbelt, Landover, and Springfield.
Since the FBI announced plans in 2012 to leave the hulking, brutalist Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, local jurisdictions have scrambled to win the agency’s favor. The FBI is desperate to consolidate more than 11,000 regional employees—currently spread across 20 sites—on a single campus, and the Hoover Building, home to about 5,800 of those workers, is showing its age after 39 years as an eyesore squatting on Washington’s most famous street.
While today’s shortlist cements it, the FBI’s departure to the suburbs was telegraphed by its requirements for a new headquarters: a plot of at least 50 acres big enough to hold a 2.1 million-square-foot building, parking, and other ancillary facilities that’s also within two and a half miles of the Capital Beltway and two miles of a Metro station.
The District’s best offer when the GSA started taking proposals in March 2013 was 40 acres on Poplar Point, an empty swath of Southeast that has frequently been touted as one of the city’s last remaining opportunities for high-value waterfront development. Republic Properties, a large private development firm, floated a tract a few blocks behind Union Station that would have displaced another federal building.
Besides wide-open spaces, the FBI also wants its new headquarters to be a fortress behind a wide security perimeter and without “close proximity to community facilities,” as the federal government’s request for expressions of interest read.
Poplar Point proved too close to densely populated Anacostia, while the site behind Union Station would be neighbored on every side. The FBI’s desire for heavily armed isolation was one of the factors that led Victor Hoskins, DC’s former deputy mayor for planning and economic development, to tell the GSA last November that the District was effectively rendered ineligible to keep the bureau within its borders.
The sites announced today, by contrast, fit the FBI’s wish-list to a T. Greenbelt’s 82-acre plot is mostly occupied right now by parking for the nearby Metro station. The Landover Mall was demolished in 2006, leaving 88 acres of open space; and the Springfield site would replace a GSA warehouse and land owned by Boston Properties.
Prince George’s County has been making the hard sell for Greenbelt, offering $112 million in subsidies to the firm that would eventually develop the site for the FBI, according to the Washington Post. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, Representatives Steny Hoyer and Donna Edwards, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker already have a celebratory press conference scheduled for this afternoon.
But DC, home to the FBI for 106 years, shouldn’t feel like a big loser. While the District stands to forfeit $9.2 million in tax revenue in the short term, it will gain much more than that back when the Hoover Building, which takes up 6.7 acres and an entire city block, is knocked down and redeveloped, especially if its replacement is a taxable property. A report issued last year by Natwar Gandhi, then DC’s chief financial officer, suggested a privately owned, mixed-use development could generate $28 million in new annual revenue, along with several hundred new taxpaying residents. As a federal building, the Hoover Building’s only economic contribution to the District is the sales taxes FBI employees pay when they go off-campus.
“We are happy to see the solicitation process is moving along and look forward to the opportunity to redevelop the site along Pennsylvania Avenue,” reads a statement today from Jeff Miller, the current deputy mayor for economic development.
Fiscal projections aside, the FBI leaving suits city and federal planners’ desired future for Pennsylvania Avenue. With the Old Post Office turned over to the Trumps to transform into a super-luxury hotel, the roadway that’s purportedly “America’s Main Street” is about to get a jolt of commercial activity it sorely lacks. When the GSA floats 935 Pennsylvania Avenue on the real-estate market, as it has said it intends, developers will undoubtedly jump all over each other to claim the sexy address while local officials await a potential windfall that will fill city coffers a lot more than law-enforcement sentimentality will.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.
For the past seven years, as Washington began to burst its seams, DC’s former planning director Harriet Tregoning encouraged Washingtonians to use Metrorail, buses, bicycles, and their feet to navigate the city’s crowded streets. An early force in the smart-growth movement who was hired by then mayor Adrian Fenty, Tregoning pushed for streetcars and bike lanes and for changes to the Height Act to accommodate more space for a rapidly expanding populace. Her tactics unsettled drivers and other proponents of the status quo as she shoved residents toward a more crowded, less automobile-centric future.
Tregoning has departed for the federal government, but the problems she tried to solve didn’t leave with her. At the current pace, the District will add 170,000 residents and 200,000 jobs in the next 25 years, according to MoveDC, a city study of the region’s coming transportation needs that was released in June.
Washington’s best hope is not a car-free city but one that is “cars and.”
“There will be the same number of car trips as now,” says Sam Zimbabwe, associate director of planning for DC’s transportation department. “But as we add these new residents and jobs, maybe everybody who’s new will not drive as much.”
As DC Council member Tommy Wells says, “The new car is your smartphone.”
Will the passion for new modes of moving people that the city has shown under its past three administrations continue under the mayor who replaces Vincent Gray? Many of the innovations, such as the return of streetcars, that became realities under Tregoning were actually proposed when Ellen McCarthy ran the planning office from 2004 to 2007. With Tregoning’s departure, McCarthy has taken over as director. “A lot of the things that are in the process of being implemented came from plans we made a decade ago,” McCarthy says.
The question is whether the city’s rising political class and Congress have the will to adopt the most forward-thinking ideas—and pay for them. (The total cost of the recommendations laid out in the MoveDC report is $54 billion.) The leading mayoral candidates, Muriel Bowser and David Catania, both favor investment in transportation. “It’s critical to the health and welfare of the city,” Catania says.
DC planners suggest funding improvements and reducing traffic by charging a toll to drive downtown, as another major capital has done: Since 2003, British drivers have paid a “congestion charge” (currently about $19.75) to bring their cars into London’s city center on weekdays. Can the District expect drivers to pay a toll to cross into DC?
The question is cultural as much as it is practical. “We can’t forget we are the nation’s capital,” Catania says. “We can’t charge people for driving in.”
Since 2008, the EPA has circulated a most-wanted list—like the FBI’s, only these crimes sound like plots from a Captain Planet episode. Here are some outlaws recently bagged by EPA agents, and the most notorious still on the lam.
Crime: Allegedly conspired to dump mining waste on public land.
Background: The German-born former president of a Ne-vada mining company, Kuhn fled the US after being indicted for illegally disposing of arsenic and lead in 2010. Though the EPA works with Interpol and other foreign agencies to bring in fugitives like Kuhn, “these folks may never set foot on US soil again,” says Parker.
Status: Believed to be in the Vancouver area.
Crime: Dumping corrosive chemicals and industrial cleaners on soil and in sewers.
Background: This owner of a Utah chemical company fled before his 2008 trial could begin, but eight months later a tipster gave up Baggett’s hiding spot in the Florida Keys. He was arrested after a shootout with EPA agents and local law enforcement.
Status: Serving a 20-year sentence for polluting and for aggravated assault on law-enforcement officers.
Crime: Charged with selling R-12 Freon, a banned cooling substance smuggled from Mexico.
Background: In response to a 1987 international agreement to reduce ozone-depleting chemicals, Congress slapped prohibitive taxes on certain aerosols. “On the street, a cylinder the size of a gas-grill tank can sell for $300 or $400,” says EPA Criminal Investigation Division director Doug Parker. “They may be smuggling it at a fraction of that.”
Status: At large, possibly in Syria.
Crime: Selling fraudulent asbestos-removal training certificates.
Background: The EPA requires people dealing with hazardous substances to undergo 40 hours of training. Convicted in 2008 of conspiracy and fraud after undercover IRS agents bought faked certificates from her forgery ring, Deleon hid in the Dominican Republic for two years before being arrested and extradited.
Status: Serving an 87-month prison sentence
A federal appeals court in Richmond on Monday upheld an lower court’s earlier decision ruling that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, notching another win for marriage-equality advocates and further pushing the issue back toward the Supreme Court.
A panel of judges in on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found in a 2-1 decision that Virginia’s ban, which the state’s voters adopted in 2006, “impermissibly infringe[s] on its citizens’ fundamental right to marry.” A federal district court judge struck down the ban in February, but that ruling has been stayed pending a series of appeals.
“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote in his majority opinion today in Bostic v. Rainey. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”
The case is being waged on behalf of two gay couples in Norfolk and Prince William counties, and the state switched to the plaintiffs’ side in January when Attorney General Mark Herring announced his office would no longer defend the ban. Instead, the ban is being defended by local court clerks in the counties where the plaintiffs attempted to obtain marriage licenses; the clerks are being defended by lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative group. The plaintiffs are also being represented by Ted Olson and David Boise, the high-profile litigators who won last year’s Supreme Court case that overturned a same-sex marriage ban in California.
Besides Virginia, the Fourth Circuit covers Maryland, where same-sex marriage became legal in 2013, and West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, which still have bans on the books. Floyd’s ruling, which only applies to Virginia, doesn’t take effect for three weeks to allow for appeals, but doesn’t include a long-term stay. The Alliance for Defending Freedom says it will appeal, though, either to the entire Fourth Circuit bench or to the Supreme Court, which could take it up next year.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.
Local football fans are going to see a lot more of the Washington Times this year under a “content and marketing partnership” announced today by the newspaper and Washington’s NFL team. According to the new arrangement, the Times will lend some of its reporters and columnists to the team for in-game videos to be shown on the scoreboard at FedEx Field.
The two entities will also be publishing partners, of a sort. The Times will produce a digital magazine on all things burgundy and gold, while the Times’s Friday editions during the NFL season will come wrapped with game previews sponsored by the team, but containing content created by Times editorial staffers.
In the scoreboard videos, Times sportswriters, like beat reporter Zac Boyer and columnist Thom Loverro, will share their insights on game highlights. In return, the paper will get access to players, coaches, and front-office personnel, according to the press release announcing the partnership.
It’s not uncommon for print reporters to appear on sports broadcasts owned by major sports teams. But the Times-Redskins team-up seems unusually snuggly.
The paper denies there is a conflict issue. “The way we cover the Redskins remains exactly the same,” John Solomon, the daily’s editor, tells Washingtonian. “We have 100 percent independence in terms of what we put into the magazine and say on the air.” The team declined multiple requests for elaboration on the nature of its deal with the Times.
It’s not clear how anyone would be able to tell if the new deal does influence the paper’s sports pages, which historically shows plenty of deference to the team bosses in Ashburn. Boyer’s most recent stories from training camp report on new wide receiver DeSean Jackson nestling into to the offense, quarterback Robert Griffin III having a “fresh mind,” and new head coach Jon Gruden saying “all signs are good” on the third-year passer.
More significantly, perhaps, the Times is a staunch defender of the team’s current name. Unlike the Washington Post, where columnists like Mike Wise and Sally Jenkins regularly remind readers that the team’s name is a dictionary-defined slur of Native Americans, the Times’s Loverro often comes to the team’s aid.
A Loverro column last month conceded that momentum is on the side of those demanding a name change, but asserted that many of the name’s opponents “couldn’t have cared less about the plight of Native Americans before they were told they should be offended by this name, and who will go back to caring even less if and when the name is changed.”
In June, when the US Patent and Trademark Office invalidated the team’s federal trademark protection because its name is a racial slur, the Times reported that the patent office had no public complaints against the team on file, as though that somehow makes the name less offensive.
There’s nothing wrong with a pro-team editorial policy, of course, as long as the paper isn’t making any money from their support.
“It’s going to be confusing for people who consume Redskins content from the Washington Times,” says Kelly McBride, resident ethicist at the journalism-watchdog Poynter Institute. “This certainly has potential for actual conflict,” McBride continues. “Then there’s the perception of conflict. All [journalists] have with our audience is the perception of trust.”
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.
1. Red Maple, Acer rubrum
Size: 60 to 75 feet tall, 25-to-35-foot spread
Life Span: 130 years
Description: The most common tree species in the District, making up nearly 10 percent of its street trees, these super-generalists grow that one arborist calls them “weedy.” In summer, they produce samaras; in fall, they turn orange-yellow to fiery red.
2. Sweet Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua
Size: 65 to 115 feet tall, 45-foot spread
Life Span: 200 years
Description: Aromatic, with a star-shaped, five-lobed leaf, sweet gums represent less than 1 percent of DC street trees but are being planted rapidly in public spaces. The city typically plants sterile forms, which don’t drop nuisance samaras (winged seed pods), but look for its spiky round “gumball” and red fall colors.
3. Scarlet Oak, Quercus coccinea
Size: 60 to 75 feet tall, 45-to-60-foot spread
Life Span: 80 years
Description: The official tree of the District, the scarlet oak appears in neighborhoods throughout the city but is most common in Ward 4 and found in massive plantings on the Capitol grounds. Leaves turn scarlet in fall; the acorn can be identified by its extensive cap.
4. Willow Oak, Quercus phellos
Size: More than 100 feet tall, 35-foot spread
Life Span: 100-plus years
Description: These enormous, hardy oaks with deeply grooved bark and narrow, willow-like leaves share nothing with true willows other than their affinity for water. The third-most common tree on District streets after pin oak, they drop a small acorn and turn yellowish in the fall.
5. Okame Cherry, Prunus x incam “Okame”
Size: 15 to 20 feet tall, 20-foot spread
Life Span: 100-plus years
Description: A delicate, decorative non-native that blooms in early spring, this cherry is popular around DC and with arborists. The tree’s tiny fruit is too bitter even for birds; in autumn the leaves turn a lovely copper.
This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.