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A planned medical research facility is pitting the District government against the State Department. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Joseph Scott Murphey via Flickr.

District officials are keen on the site of Walter Reed Army Medical Center redeveloping into a residential and commercial hub that kickstarts the neighborhoods along upper Georgia Avenue, Northwest, but recently, Mayor Vince Gray and others have started to worry that the State Department will torpedo the plans in a land grab.

When Walter Reed closed in 2011, the federal Base Realignment and Closing process split the 110-acre hospital site between DC and the State Department. The city was awarded 67 acres, while the State Department received the remainder, facing 16th Street, Northwest, to use as a new campus for embassies. But with nearly a year remaining before the Army turns over the keys, DC and the State Department are haggling over land, with Children's National Medical Center and possibly upper Northwest's economic vitality in the middle.

Here's the backstory: Children's wants a 13.2-acre slice of Walter Reed for a new genetics research facility. It was a partner in a development bid presented by Roadside Development, one of the applicants for the master contract the DC government considered last year for its side of Walter Reed. But after the District went with a team comprised of Hines, Urban Atlantic, and Triden, Children's took its case directly to Congress. Washington Business Journal reported in September that the hospital got language inserted into a fiscal 2015 defense spending bill for an immediate transfer of several Walter Reed buildings, including the eight-story Building 54, all of which are on the side of the campus slated for the State Department.

But the State Department is responding by asking the Army to redraw the Walter Reed division again to replace the 13.2 acres it stands to lose to Children's with a chunk of the DC turf, a move Gray and other city officials say would effectively ruin the redevelopment plans.

“Such a change would drastically shrink the land area the District would receive and would have a devastating impact on the District’s ability to deliver on the priorities the Congress, the Army, and our residents have expressed," Gray writes in a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh.

The Hines-led development group plans to turn the District's side of Walter Reed into 2,000 new housing units and 250,000 square feet of retail, including a grocery store, and a hotel. There are also plans to for a medical facility, but no specific hospital group is attached to the project. Hines currently plans to build 318 affordable units, some of which would be set aside for homeless veterans. In his letter, Gray writes that the affordable units would be most threatened by downsizing the city's project.

A mayor's office staffer with direct knowledge of the Walter Reed process tells Washingtonian the fallout could be much more severe, possibly to the point of sending the city back to step one. The lame-duck Gray administration is trying to leave its successors a legislative package concerning Walter Reed to send to the DC Council next year, but an Army decision to accommodate the State Department's sudden request would blow up the project by forcing the city to reopen its land reuse process. That would delay Walter Reed's development by three to five years and risk prompting the Hines team to walk away from the site.

In his letter, Gray writes the Army can assauge things by guaranteeing the District its full 67 acres. He also suggests that if the Army can't figure out how to make the State Department happy with just 30 acres, it consider giving the whole thing to DC.

Read Gray's letter below:

Mayor Vince Gray Letter to Army

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 03:09 PM/ET, 10/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
As the tributes pour in, a look at the language Bradlee's admirers are using. By Benjamin Freed, Hallie Golden
Created using WordItOut.

Few high-profile passings inspire florid tributes as well as those of a widely admired journalist, and in death, longtime Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee may be the best example yet. Since Bradlee's death Tuesday evening at age 93, other journalists—regardless of whether they ever worked for him—have been churning out the glowing post-mortems celebrating a figure who shaped the Post for nearly three decades and guided it through its greatest achievements and some of its deepest failures.

The Bradlee encomia is sure to continue for weeks, but even through the first batch of appraisals, the hagiography is building a familiar lexicon, as seen in the word cloud above.

To build the cloud, we scoured remembrances written by former Posties David Remnick, Martha Sherrill, Tom Shales, and Rem Rieder, along with the Post's 15-years-in-the-making obituary. We also included quotes some of the black reporters who worked for Bradlee gave to the Maynard Institute. Terms like "Washington" and "Post" loom largest, obviously. So does "Graham"—as in both Philip, who hired Bradlee when he bought Newsweek in 1961, and his wife, Katharine, who succeeded him as publisher and is credited, along with Bradlee, in turning a middling regional newspaper into a national publication and Pulitzer juggernaut. Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, Bradlee's two biggest successes, pop up a lot, too.

But so does "Cooke." That'd be Janet Cooke, who fabricated a Pulitzer-winning story about an eight-year-old heroin addict. Bradlee's role in the "Jimmy's World" fiasco is omitted from most of the personal postscripts, but Remnick writes that Bradlee's survival of the episode hinged on his relationship with the Grahams almost as much as his own professional reputation:

A certain post-Watergate overconfidence also seemed to help fuel a scandal, in 1981, when a young staff writer named Janet Cooke won a Pulitzer Prize for “Jimmy’s World,” a fabricated story about an eight-year-old heroin addict. Bradlee was able to survive a scandal of that scale, as others would not have been, because he set a standard for immediate and investigative correction of Cooke’s confabulation—and because he had the long-standing affection of the owner and everyone in the newsroom.

The other boldface names dominating the cloud are who'd you expect from Bradlee's life: (Sally) Quinn, Kennedy, and Nixon. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, oddly, did not make it, but David Broder—the late columnist whose hiring away from the New York Times was a coup for Bradlee—did.

If the word cloud reads dull and full of nouns, though, it's not for lack of trying. Every Bradlee piece is littered with more colorful passages about his famously gruff demeanor and, as Sherrill notes, preference for "lusty greetings, exotic epithets, and obsolete profanities." The kicker of Remnick's article contains one of the strongest examples of Bradlee's foul-mouthed bravado:

The soles of his shoes parted. He sat up in his chair. I could see his face, and he was, for a moment, a threatening sight. And then he smiled, fantastically, and said, “What! Me? Worry? I am a dangerous man.” He led me back to the door. “So get the fuck outta here,” he said. “And get back to work.”

As much as everyone is quick to venerate Bradlee, some of the memories are as illustrative of the man's era as they are of himself. Sherrill recalls him calling her "Legs" because "I’m tall and because he didn’t know my name." Bradlee's newsroom patter about his underlings' personal lives was even more raw. Even as she writes with utmost praise, some of the lines Sherrill recalls would rightly be untolerated in a contemporary workplace:

A lesbian friend from his postwar Paris days wasn’t just “gay,” she was “gay as a goose.” A newly divorced editor with a revived sex life was “finally getting his ashes hauled.” The primal motive driving Jackie Kennedy Onassis was “she needs a lot of dough.”

Men were divided into two camps: those whose private parts “clanked when they walked” and those whose, alas, didn’t. Women were judged differently. The only ones Bradlee didn’t seem to appreciate were humorless. “A prude,” he’d say, as though nothing were more distasteful.

Still, it's hard not to find Bradlee's mannerisms endearing. After all, this is a guy who opened a letter from an upset reader who questioned his patriotism with the unforgettable salutation "Dear Asshole." Bradlee's rough, patrician ways might not fly in a modern newsroom, but they make for great stories. More of them will undoubtedly be passed around next Wednesday when Bradlee's mourners pack the Washington National Cathedral for his funeral.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 01:13 PM/ET, 10/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's Uber, but with needles. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph via Shutterstock.

Not content with disrupting taxis, ice cream, child seats, Christmas trees, kittens, and José Andrés, Uber now wants to upend the immunization process. In a press release, Uber says its customers in Washington (along with New York and Boston) can order up a flu-shot clinic today to receive a registered nurse ready to deliver as many as ten free flu shots.

The nurses providing the vaccines work for Passport Health, a national chain of immunization and vaccine clinics. Uber is also partnering with Pager, a company founded by a former Uber developer that offers phone consultations and house calls from physicians.

The one-day stunt runs until 3 PM, and Uber expects demand to be pretty high. Honestly, if you asked us what Uber would try to shoehorn in on next, we would not have guessed seasonal medicine, but what an opportunity to go Galt on your employer-provided flu-shot session.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 10:01 AM/ET, 10/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
From Maryland's state dessert to must-visit restaurants and stores. By Rebecca Nelson
Photograph of Chelsea Fagan by Andrew Propp.

Chelsea Fagan had barely left her Annapolis home when she began writing for Thought Catalog, a four-year-old web magazine geared toward millennials that today draws about 20 million US readers a month, according to Quantcast. ( gets 14 million.) Fagan promptly became a recognized authority on topics like “How to Ruin a First Date” and “4 Drunk Conversations I Need to Stop Initiating,” meditations that informed her 2013 book, I’m Only Here for the WiFi and that have marked Fagan, 25, as a voice of the sharing generation. (“I write my stuff, and sometimes yours,” reads her Twitter bio.) Though she now lives near Thought Catalog’s headquarters in Brooklyn, she gave us a characteristically unapologetic tour of the Maryland capital.

Start with a meal

“Not to take away from the crabs and corn and Old Bay, but I like seeing Annapolis go from a toy-box sailing town to a destination along with Washington and Baltimore. Vin 909 Winecafé is one of the restaurants really trying to change the culinary landscape. It feels good to come back and see things getting better.”

Photograph of The Pink Crab by Kristen Campbell.

Don’t think it’s all yachts and preppy kids

“In high school, I was in a lot of community theater at Colonial Players, like The Battle of Shallowford and The Busie Body. I identified with the people there more than the WASPy types at Annapolis High.”

But the Pink Crab is kind of irresistible

“Lilly Pulitzer is the Limited Too for adults. I love bright colors, so I naturally gravitate to it. It’s a love/hate thing.”

While in the capital, consume the official dessert of Maryland

“The multilayered, cream-filled Smith Island Cake is one of my favorite desserts of all time.”

Join the morning shift for sunrise at City Dock Café

“After high school, I worked at City Dock Café down by the harbor and started at 5:30 AM. I could see the sun come up over the water. It was a nice way to start the day.”

Everyone should date a “mid” at least once

“I love myself a midshipman. It’s a rite of passage.”

Smith Island Cake. Photograph by Flickr user Jane Thomas.

Then go find a Johnnie

“The very popular St. John’s date would be to go to Annebeth’s, around the corner from the college. It had food, booze, and DVD rentals. You’d get an obscure film, some cheeses and ice creams, and go sit on your couch.”

Carry two fake IDs

“I had two Ohio IDs, knowing they would get taken. The bouncer at Armadillo’s Bar and Grill took one and put it on the wall.”

When you’re legal, hit Pusser’s

“Pusser’s Caribbean Grille has these drinks called Painkillers—it’s like a Chinese restaurant, picking your level of spiciness from one to five. Here, you pick your level of drunkenness. And when you’re 21, you’re like, ‘Six!’ ”

This article appears in the November 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 10/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The District will elect a new mayor in 13 days. Here's where the race stands. By Benjamin Freed, Harry Jaffe
Photograph of Bowser by Flickr user crystalndavis. Photograph of Catania by Benjamin Freed.

With upside-down-flag-stamped ballot guides in mailboxes, early voting underway, and less than two weeks until Election Day, DC's mayoral candidates are making their final pitches to the city. The most recent poll, issued Monday by the business group Economic Growth DC, put Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser 12 percentage points ahead of her closest rival, independent David Catania. Bowser, since winning her party's April 1 primary, has tried to run as closely to a sure thing as possible, a relatively safe bet in a city where Democrats account for 76 percent of all registered voters. But Catania, a five-term Council member who's run both the city's health and education committees, has put together one of the stronger non-Democratic mayoral bids in DC's 40-year history of home rule. With only seven percent of voters still undecided in Monday's poll, the mayoral election could be decided already. Then again, there's a chance it could get exciting at the finish.

It’s Over Because:

1. The District’s predominant Democrats—with a push by President Obama—finally realized they had to hold their noses and line up behind Bowser, who goes into the final days with a double-digit lead in the polls.

2. Though Bowser continues to underwhelm in her ability to grasp complex issues and offer specific solutions, she didn’t come off as ignorant or bone-headed in any of the public debates.

3. Catania failed to get beyond proving his copious accomplishments and hammering Bowser for her lack of bandwidth and ties to greedy cronies. To punch past his 27 percent in the polls, he had to make a jump based on his passion and likeability. That never happened, no matter how many warm and fuzzy ads he cut.

4. Bowser collected much more dough. Last summer she had $720,323 in her campaign's coffer, compared to Catania’s $350,707. As of the campaigns' October 10 finance reports, Bowser had stored away more than $1 million; Catania had $562,063 on hand. Expect a tidal wave of media for Bowser and plenty of poll workers wearing green on November 4.

5. No one would call Bowser or Catania warm and fuzzy. Both can be brusque, dismissive and short-tempered. But Bowser can flash a broad smile and exude enough charm to make her the more inviting candidate. Catania could never pull off nice.

It’s not over because:

1. Bowser’s primary win was hardly a coronation, and her vote is soft. The District’s voter pool might be forbiddingly Democratic for a former Republican, but the majority party might not be that enthusiastic. Only 27 percent of Democrats showed up for the April 1 primary in which Bowser won with 40 percent of the vote. If independents and Republicans vote in droves in the general election, and Democrats stay on auto-pilot, it could push Catania over the line. Bottom line: low turnout is good for Catania.

2. A white, former Republican is unlikely to make much of a dent east of the Anacostia River in wards 7 and 8, or in Bowser’s home turf of Ward 4. So Catania’s supporters are trying to boost his profile in two wards: The District’s whitest and wealthiest pocket west of Rock Creek Park in Ward 3; and Ward 6, home to many newer residents who would be vulnerable to Catania’s promises of improved public schools and clean, competent government. (Think the Tommy Wells voters who might not heed his Bowser endorsement.)

3. There are still 13 days until the election. Both Bowser and Catania have been very careful—almost completely passionless—in their campaigns, but it’s not too late for Bowser to blow her stack or show herself to be the empty suit Catania has attempted to portray.

4. Even with nearly a year’s worth of Bowser hagiography from the Washington Post’s editorial board and Metro section, Posties and the rest of us hacks on the local beat need something to write about. A plausible independent mayoral bid by a long-tenured DC Council member is a heck of a lot more interesting than any DC Council hearing. Hell, even Faith, the nine-time, 90-year-old candidate running on the Statehood Green ticket, got a bit of ink spilled over her.

5. Carol Schwartz could win. So could Faith.

Find Benjamin Freed and Harry Jaffe on Twitter at @brfreed and @harryjaffe.

Posted at 01:06 PM/ET, 10/22/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The doctor discusses the hospital’s safety protocols and capability for treating more Ebola patients. By Hallie Golden

Anthony S. Fauci. Photograph via Wikimedia Commons.

Five days after Dallas nurse Nina Pham was flown more than 1,000 miles to be treated for Ebola at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Special Clinical Studies Unit in Bethesda, a NIH press release reports that her “clinical status has been upgraded from fair to good.” NIH is one of four American hospitals with high-tech bio­containment facilities, with state-of-the-art isolation capabilities and infection-control algorithms.

In other words, Pham is in good hands. But even for Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and an NIH staffer for more than 20 years, this is still very new territory. We spoke with Fauci about how the hospital is handling this case of Ebola and its capabilities should more cases arise.

Which building is the Clinical Studies Unit located in and how many beds does it have?

It’s in the NIH Clinical Research Center, otherwise referred to as building 10. It has seven beds, but when you have people in isolation, such as the Ebola patient, that requires all of the protocols, then we only have a two-bed capability. But we have seven beds to do other things that require less isolation.

Is there a possibility of expanding that if you start to need more?

Not for the foreseeable future because we just don’t have the room or the space. With one patient in there now, my patient, Nina Pham, we have one open bed. So right now we can take a patient. If, as I hope, Nina Pham recovers and leaves, then we’ll have two beds.

Has the protocol for treating an Ebola patient changed at all in NIH’s Special Clinical Studies Unit because of the Texas hospital?

No, we have always had the very stringent protocol that we have right now, which much more resembles the new CDC protocols—namely, no bare skin exposed, precise training, drilling, and continuing to train and retrain, having trained monitors watch you put your clothing on and as you take off your garments.

What previous Ebola experience does the Special Clinical Studies staff have?

We have experience with someone brought in from West Africa a few weeks ago, a medical doctor who had a risk exposure that we observed for a period of time until we proved that he was in fact not infected.

So none of your staff have direct experience treating Ebola?

Well, first of all, very few people have Ebola experience in the United States. Most of [our staff] are highly trained, skilled in intensive-care and infectious-disease medicine. One of our staff members, a physician on the staff in our Special Studies Unit, has actually spent time in West Africa, treating Ebola patients.

Is your unit working with the Washington Hospital Center? Would they be the ones to send Ebola patients to you?

We are the referral of people that have Ebola. There are hospitals in the Washington area [that are designated for] people who fly in to Dulles, who might have to be isolated until they determine whether they do or do not have Ebola. That is not us. That is Virginia hospitals, either Inova Fairfax or Reston. They’re both being discussed for that.

NIH will only receive them if they are diagnosed with Ebola?

That’s right. We do not take rule-outs, because we want to use our capabilities for people who have documented Ebola, not people who are suspected of Ebola. The reason we did it for that other person, is that we didn’t have anybody in the beds and we were able to do it, because there were no Ebola patients at the time.

What other diseases can this unit treat?

Any disease that requires isolation or acute care, in which you need a special facility to protect the people in the community as well as the workers. It could be any disease—Ebola, plague, outbreaks of different types of other communicable diseases.

What’s the key to meeting that challenge?

We train, we train, we train.

Are your staff free to come and go as much as they please?

We have the standard CDC protocol. They self-monitor their temperature—like I’m doing right now—twice a day.

Is it possible to send Nina Pham get-well cards?

You could send her a get-well card. Send it care of the NIH Clinical Center.

Posted at 11:15 AM/ET, 10/22/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Bradlee, who led the Post through the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, died at his home Tuesday. By Benjamin Freed
Bradlee in 2010. Photograph by Flickr user Miguel Ariel Contreras Drake-McLaughlin.

Ben Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor who led the newspaper from 1968 to 1991 and guided it through the Watergate scandal, died Tuesday at his Georgetown home, the newspaper announced. He was 93.

The scion of two elite Massachusetts families, Bradlee came to the Post as a reporter in the 1950s and in 1968 was named its executive editor, a position that made him one of Washington's most visible citizens. Celebrated for overseeing the Post's publication of the Pentagon Papers and the investigation that led to the downfall Nixon administration, Bradlee's personal life was also the subject of widespread public interest, especially following his third marriage, to former Post writer and socialite Sally Quinn.

"The story of the modern Washington Post starts the day Kay Graham made Ben Bradlee the editor of the paper," the Post's former publisher and owner, Donald Graham, said in a statement released by the paper.

Under Bradlee, the Post collected 17 Pulitzer Prizes and saw its circulation double. Bradlee was also responsible for the creation of the Post's Style section.

Even people well beyond Washington had a strong impression of Bradlee from Jason Robards's portrayal of the gruff newspaperman in the 1976 adaptation of Bob Woodward's and Carl Bernstein's All the President's Men.

“Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism," Woodward and Bernstein said in a joint statement. "He forever altered our business. His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army. Ben had an intuitive understanding of the history of our profession, its formative impact on him and all of us. But he was utterly liberated from that. He was an original who charted his own course. We loved him deeply, and he will never be forgotten or replaced in our lives.”

Bradlee was a fixture in Washingtonian's pages during and after his Post heyday, appearing as the subject of many features over the years. Writing on former editor Jack Limpert's website, Norman Sherman recalls reporting out a 1974 Bradlee profile, down to his impeccable, though sometimes questionable, fashion sense:

His style showed his background but it also could be bizarre. One noon, a K Street lawyer, a polished friend of President Kennedy, was on his way to lunch with a couple of clients. He spotted Bradlee. dressed in a loud glen plaid suit, and they stopped to talk.

When the lawyer rejoined his companions, one asked, “Who was that?” The answer was, “He’s the editor of the Post.” The response: “Jesus, I thought he was your bookie.”

Among Bradlee's other unmistakable qualities was his irascible newsroom demeanor. As New Yorker editor David Remnick remembers his time as a young Post staffer, Bradlee encouraged his journalists in his own brusque way:

“Well, I’ve been reporting a lot and calling … ” And blah, blah—in my nervousness I went on, explaining the intricacies of reporting to Ben Bradlee for three or four minutes. And to Bradlee, who had the attention span of a gnat, this was three-quarters of eternity. Finally, I ended the ill-advised aria with the most ill-advised words of all: “… and so don’t worry.”

The soles of his shoes parted. He sat up in his chair. I could see his face, and he was, for a moment, a threatening sight. And then he smiled, fantastically, and said, “What! Me? Worry? I am a dangerous man.” He led me back to the door. “So get the fuck outta here,” he said. “And get back to work.”

The White House, occupants of which were not always Bradlee's biggest fans, also paused Tuesday night to remember the newspaperman.

"For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession—it was a public good vital to our democracy," President Barack Obama said. "The standard he set—a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting—encouraged so many others to enter the profession. And that standard is why, last year, I was proud to honor Ben with the Presidential Medal of Freedom."

In May 1987, former Postie Rudy Maxa interviewed his former boss as Bradlee, then 66, started contemplating retirement, though he was as energetic as ever then, driving his beige Subaru to work every day and managing to fit a lot of tennis into his personal schedule. While Maxa's article features Bradlee doing plenty of career reflection, it's obvious the man also bristled at being asked to imagine the Post after his departure, telling Maxa:

"The thing that Post watchers have to understand is that it's going to be different. It's just a waste of time to think about it. You know, people really want it both ways. They say the trouble with the Post is that we shoot from the hip. And then they say if Bradlee leaves, it'll be boring."

Bradlee was back in the feature well in July 2003. Then 81, he still reported daily for his job as the Post's vice president at-large, though it was more of a ceremonial position with an easier schedule. Speaking with American University journalism professor Iris Krasnow, Bradlee appeared satisfied with the throes of retirement:

"I'd like to think, even at 81, that I'm continuously growing, yet I like that things have slowed some. I don't have to be listening to the television and suddenly hear something that makes me fly out of the house and go down to the newspaper at 10 PM and start on a story. I know who I am. Let's put it this way: I know enough about who I am, and maybe I don't want to know any more than this. Perhaps I have a sign somewhere still inside of me that says: 'Don't go there.' But I don't think so. I'm really quite open in a way that surprises people. I don't feel I have a hell of a lot to hide."

Quinn, whom Bradlee married in 1978, disclosed last month that Bradlee had been suffering from dementia and was under hospice care. Bradlee is survived by Quinn and their son Quinn Bradlee; a son from his first marriage, Benjamin C. Bradlee, Jr.; two children from his second marriage, Dominic Bradlee and Marina Murdock; ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 08:28 PM/ET, 10/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every week, we’ll pick winning photos to showcase on our website.
Show us your favorite neighborhood hangout. Photograph of Slipstream by Andrew Propp.

This week, the New York Times finally discovered what’s been obvious to Washingtonians for a long time: that DC’s dining scene goes far beyond “expense account steakhouses” and “cheap ethnic restaurants,” as our own Anna Spiegel pointed out on Best Bites. The point she did agree with? That the area “boasts more destination-worthy neighborhood haunts than ever.”

It’s a fact worth celebrating—and to that end, we want to see photos of your favorite local hangout. Whether it’s the mom ’n’ pop shop you head to every morning for coffee and your favorite breakfast sandwich, or the dive bar that’s your refuge after a long day of work, show us the places that make you glad to live in your neighborhood.

Submit your photos by e-mailing or by tagging #WashMagPhoto on Instagram or Twitter. Please include where the photo was taken and your name with each submission. We’ll highlight our favorite photos on Monday, October 27.

Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 10/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It was only a matter of time, and Reed Smith is leading the pack. By Marisa M. Kashino

And so it begins.

International law firm Reed Smith, which has offices in DC and Northern Virginia, rolled out its Global Ebola Task Force on Tuesday, making it the first of what we fear could be many firms to capitalize on the outbreak. In a press release, Sandy Thomas, Reed Smith's global (are you noticing a trend here?) managing partner, declared: "The virus has the potential to affect international commerce and trade, not just on the African continent, but worldwide. Our Global Ebola Task Force will put Reed Smith in front of the legal challenges our clients face.”

The new task force is billed as "cross-practice," which in law firm-speak means there's nothing really new about it. Lawyers already working at the firm within a variety of existing practices are now simply branded as members of the Ebola group, ready to answer client questions stemming from the disease. (It's the kind of marketing play that firms love—in the build-up to the new millennium, for instance, several started Y2K groups.)

So what kind of Ebola questions are cropping up? Lorraine Campos, a task force member and a partner in the firm's DC office, says she's received calls from pharmaceutical companies interested in the potential liabilities of attempting to develop a vaccine. She says other attorneys have gotten questions from companies wanting to know if they are legally obligated to hold an employee's job open if the worker gets quarantined, or if they're liable for employees who get infected while on business travel. So far, Campos says these have just been theoretical questions; the firm has not yet handled any actual cases or conflicts arising from Ebola.

Campos stresses: "We don't want to sensationalize the threat of the virus, but we do want to help prepare our clients."

(And mass-distribute a press release about it.)

Posted at 03:16 PM/ET, 10/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
“We fell in love with Dusty’s story and knew it had to be told.” By Harry Jaffe
Screen shot from Dusty + Buddy.

When photographer Josh Cogan met Dusty Hernandez-Harrison and his father, Buddy Harrison, on assignment for Washingtonian’s February 2014 article “In A Ring of His Own,” he stepped into a story—and a corner of DC—he'd never imagined really existed. “When I first saw the gym, I was amazed at the entire scene I had no awareness of,” says Cogan, who sees himself as an anthropologist as much as a maker of images. “I have always been absorbed by how DC doesn’t know itself.”

The article tells how Buddy, a former boxer and ex-convict, devoted himself to training Dusty to fight to keep his son from following his trail to jail—and to achieve the dream Buddy never realized. Despite the father-son tensions that almost ripped them apart, Buddy succeeded in making Dusty into a contender. At 20, Dusty is 23-0 and rising in the ranks of welterweight boxers. He’s also developing a deep fan base in DC, where he was born and still lives.

While shooting the pair for Washingtonian, Cogan realized their story had the makings of a film. He introduced Dusty and Buddy to his friends at Run Riot Films. “Since we met last year,” says Run Riot director Dave Adams, “we fell in love with Dusty’s story and knew it had to be told.”

Run Riot and Cogan have produced two documentaries, Dusty + Buddy, about their relationship and common dream of a championship; and a short titled Voices, in which trainers, friends, and family talk about Dusty and Buddy against the backdrop of training sessions at Old School Boxing, Buddy's gym on the grounds of Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County.

“I’ve never seen nothing better, about Dusty or anywhere in boxing,” says Buddy Harrison.

Cogan says the videos are examples of how a simple photo shoot, and a resulting friendship, grows into something bigger. “I often serve as the bridge,” he tells Washingtonian. “I bring groups together.”

Dusty Harrison will try to keep his unblemished record on November 1, when he’s scheduled to take on veteran boxer Michael Clark. “It’s a pretty big step up for Dusty,” says Buddy Harrison.

Watch Voices below:

Watch Dusty + Buddy below:

Posted at 05:04 PM/ET, 10/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()