News and Analysis

Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 2:47 p.m.

D.C. rolls back plans for streetcar system

D.C.'s streetcar program was cut back this Thursday.  Media Credit: Photo courtesy of the District Department of Transportation.

Mayor Vincent Gray released a less ambitious plan for the city’s streetcar system this week. Photo courtesy of the District Department of Transportation.

D.C.’s plan for a city-wide streetcar system has faced some significant scaling back.

Mayor Vincent Gray announced Thursday that the city is looking to spend $800 million on a system that would have about eight miles of tracking, the Washington Post reported. The initial plan would have had more than 20 miles of lines run across the city.

The new plans call for extending the 2.2-mile system between H Street and Benning Road into Georgetown and across the Anacostia River, the Post reported. But both the line running north to south from the Takoma Metro station to Buzzards Point and the M Street line would be put on hold.

A report in 2012 found that a streetcar network in D.C. could reduce transportation costs and create thousands of new jobs. A ride on one of the streetcars would cost $1.

In 2013, Georgetown University lobbied the city to put one of the streetcar stops on its main campus.

The D.C. Department of Transportation had announced plans for the streetcar system to open in spring 2012. Since then, the project has faced major delays, and streetcars on the H Street line have just recently begun simulated service with no passengers.

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Former National Intelligence Council Chairman Christopher Kojm, now an Elliott School visiting professor, talked about national security and future international challenges with Dean Michael Brown. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Former National Intelligence Council Chairman Christopher Kojm, now an Elliott School visiting professor, talked about national security and future challenges in international relations with Dean Michael Brown. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Genevieve Montinar.

The former chairman of the National Intelligence Council who’s now a visiting professor at GW has some advice for President Barack Obama.

Christopher Kojm sat down for a discussion Thursday with Michael Brown, the dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, about what has contributed to the demise of national security in the countries highlighted in the NIC’s “Global Trends 2030” report.

A part of a series that focuses on leaders in international development, Kojm offered his own thoughts on how countries can best work together to solve global issues and what role the U.S. president should play.

Here’s what you need to know about what happened:

1. Advice for Obama

Kojm said he would encourage the president to take advantage of the U.S.’s status as a world power to create international partnerships, especially in responding to ISIS.

“We have a remarkable power and influence, and this cannot be addressed without broad international support,” he said. “I think we see the president, certainly in the case of ISIS here seeking to put together a broad coalition of 40 or plus countries together. So coalitions will really matter.”

He added that Obama should concentrate on improving relations with China over the next several years.

“We got lots of problems, lots of issues with China some are quite profound,” he said. “But we also have many areas of commonality and we are finding ways to work together on some questions.”

2. Global trends

The NIC report, “Global Trends 2030,” covered four trends in developing countries. Officials traveled to Beijing, Moscow, Brussels, Singapore and other cities to gather data on individual empowerment, demographics, diffusion of power and growth in the developing world.

“Nobody knows what the world would look like, and we wanted to avoid parochialism and have as broad a perspective as possible in thinking about the future of the international system,” Kojm said.

He said the data showed that 60 percent of the population will live in cities in about 15 years, and urbanization will be an important factor for aid groups to consider as they plan for the future.

Kojm said the report unintentionally has “an added diplomatic benefit.”

“You start a dialogue going with elites around the world about what the future of the world is going to look like and you begin to influence other capitals,” said Kojm

3. “Profound” governmental challenges

Kojm emphasized the importance of strong governance as nations face future dilemmas.

“The challenges governments face – Ebola, proper regulation of information technology, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – collectively, seem to be pretty profound,” he said.

He also mentioned the situations in Spain and Britain where different regions have tried to secede, citing them as examples of the difficulties governments face when trying to exert authority.

4. Lessons in leadership

Kojm included his own experience as a leader in the policy world. He said as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, he made it a point to reach out to senior staffers and listen to what issues concerned them.

“Treat everyone you meet with and work with with dignity,” he said, adding that students shouldn’t ignore any work colleague, no matter his or her status in an organization.

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The Elliott School of International Affairs just secured a presidential appointee to take over a research center next year, the University announced Tuesday.

Allison Macfarlane, chairwoman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will lead GW’s Center for International Science and Technology Policy starting Jan. 1. She will also direct GW’s masters program in international science and technology policy.

Macfarlane has led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since July 2012. She will teach one course at GW next semester called “Energy and Society.”

An expert in nuclear waste issues, Macfarlane oversees the use of radioactive materials for civilian purposes. She previously advised President Barack Obama on how the U.S. should handle high-level nuclear waste as part of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

“I am looking forward to returning to my academic research and to training a new generation of leaders in science and technology policy,” Macfarlane said in a release.

The Elliott School has built up its focus on nuclear issues recently, and it brought Macfarlane to GW to speak in spring 2012 before she was named the agency’s chairwoman.

Elliott School Dean Michael Brown said Macfarlane would bring knowledge of “some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity in the 21st century” to the University.

“Her scholarly expertise has been further extended by her two and a half years of leadership and high-level policy engagement at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Brown said.

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Updated: Oct. 22, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

A student reportedly assaulted a member of EMeRG on the Mount Vernon Campus early Sunday morning.

University Police Department officers had responded to loud noises in a West Hall room, where they then found alcohol, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said. While being assessed for intoxication, one of the students in the room grabbed a member of EMeRG, she said.

The case was referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, according to the University’s crime log.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the alleged assault occurred early Saturday morning. The incident occurred early Sunday morning. We regret this error.

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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 12:23 a.m.

Student reports sexual abuse in Thurston Hall

A female student reported to the University Police Department that she had been sexually abused in Thurston Hall early Saturday morning.

UPD responded to reports of a disturbance at 1 a.m., and the female student told them she felt “like she was taken advantage of sexually” by a man who was not affiliated with GW, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said.

No charges have been filed at this time, Csellar said. The man was barred from campus, according to the University crime log.

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The University Police Department responded to a report of an attempted sexual assault outside the Foggy Bottom Metro station early Sunday morning.

A man had allegedly attempted to sexually abuse a female student, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said.

Officers found the suspect hiding in the bushes near the station, and arrested him at about 3:20 a.m., according to GW’s crime log.

UPD was also informed at about the same time that another female student had reported that a man matching the same description had tried to pull her into the bushes near the Metro station, Csellar said.

“Since the suspect was immediately caught and arrested, no crime alert was issued, as there was no ongoing or imminent threat to the community,” Csellar said.

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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 11:50 a.m.

Woodward and Bernstein visit The Kalb Report

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein shared Watergate memories at the National Press Club on Monday. Lydia Francis | Hatchet Photographer

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein shared Watergate memories at the National Press Club on Monday. Lydia Francis | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Lila Weatherly.

Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward relived their Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporting into the Watergate Scandal on Monday at The Kalb Report.

The duo, who famously exposed the 1972 scandal that eventually brought down President Richard Nixon’s administration, shared a timeline of their investigation, the role of their colleagues at the Washington Post and their take on modern-day journalism.

Here are some of the stories they shared:

1. Facing down the White House

The pair faced forceful opposition to their reports about Nixon. Any questions about the content of their stories were deflected by the White House, who accused the Post of reporting misinformation, Bernstein and Woodward said.

When Bernstein contacted Attorney General John Mitchell to share their findings, Mitchell responded by threatening Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, saying, “Graham is going to get her tit caught in a big, fat wringer.” That response was a signal of the tense climate during the investigation, as the White House tried to lock down on negative press.

“Can you imagine them saying that now?” Woodward said.

2. Reporting in a politically charged atmosphere

Both reporters were fully aware of the risks of revealing such a scandal and the importance of error-free reporting. Bernstein and Woodward said they laid out ground rules for their reporting over 10-cent cups of coffee.

For example, both agreed never to use the word “impeachment” in case they were accused of having a political agenda. The first rule for their coverage was “If somebody said ‘no,’ ‘no’ prevailed,” Bernstein said.

3. Editors in bathrobes

Woodward and Bernstein also feared wiretapping as they were reporting, and they did the bulk of their work late at night. They recalled once going to the house of their editor, Ben Bradlee, who opened the door for them at 2 a.m. wearing a bathrobe.

Bernstein said everyone thought they had “gone nuts.”

4. Backed by The Washington Post

They said their reporting was successful because of the support of Bradlee and their colleagues at the Post.

When the Watergate scandal started to gain steam nationwide, some said national news reporters should take over the story. But Bradlee defended Bernstein and Woodward, claiming it didn’t matter what their positions were on the staff because they had found the news.

5. Advice for today’s journalists

When asked what they think of journalism today, Bernstein said there was “not enough good reporting done by the new media.”

“We’re going to miss something. The key to new media is old leg work,” he said.

He also said reporters today are looking for “ideological ammunition” instead of hard-hitting stories.

“Good reporting is the best obtainable version of the truth,” Bernstein said.

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At the SA Senate meeting on Monday, senators signed off on creating a committee to address Corcoran students' concerns with their transition to GW. The bill was sponsored by Garrett Mills | Hatchet Photographer

At the SA Senate meeting on Monday, senators signed off on creating a committee to address Corcoran students’ concerns with their transition to GW. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CCAS-U. Garrett Mills | Hatchet Photographer

The Student Association Senate created a committee dedicated to Corcoran student issues on Monday to help smooth out what senators described as the college’s rocky transition into the GW fold.

Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CCAS-U, said he decided to propose the committee after meeting with the president of the Corcoran Student Association Camila Rondon and hearing her concerns about a lack of communication between the University and its newest school.

The committee will consist of six GW senators and six Corcoran students, who will meet throughout the year to discuss ongoing problems related to the students’ transition to campus life. The addition makes the committee the fifth in the SA Senate, alongside finance, student life, leadership and academic affairs.

Falcigno said the SA will hold a town hall in November to encourage Corcoran students to open up about the largest problems they face so the committee can double down on what its priorities should be.

Rondon, who was added to the SA’s executive cabinet to serve as director of Corcoran Student Affairs earlier this year, also spoke at the beginning of the Senate meeting Monday night to describe the current issues Corcoran students face.

“There’s so many things during this transition and so many things that affect us. As students who pay to go to this school, even if we don’t get input we should know what’s going on,” Rondon said.

Executive Vice President Avra Bossov has also said she is looking into adding a potential Corcoran seat to the Senate.

Since GW absorbed the Corcoran College of Art + Design officially this summer, Corcoran students have complained that GW has had a hard time communicating with them effectively.

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A statue of George Washington is now featured in Kogan Plaza. Photo courtesy of GW Media Relations.

A statue of George Washington is now featured in Kogan Plaza. Photo courtesy of GW Media Relations.

The newest member of the GW community is 600 pounds, bronze and cost almost $50,000.

George Washington is back on campus, this time depicted in life-size on a bronze bench posted in Kogan Plaza since Monday, according to a University release.

University trustee and alumnus Mark Shenkman, who graduated with a master’s degree in business administration in 1967, donated the bronze statue to the University. He also gave $5 million last spring to rename the Ivory Tower residence hall, now called Shenkman Hall.

Students who want to get up close and personal with the University namesake can participate in a “selfie” contest sponsored by the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, according to the release.

The newest feature of Kogan Plaza was created by Utah sculptor Gary Lee Price, who said Shenkman bought the bench, which goes for $46,200 online, at a Wyoming art gallery and then donated it to the University.

Price, who makes benches with sculptures of other figures like Benjamin Franklin, William Shakespeare and Mark Twain, said the selfie contest embodies the goal of his project: to bring historical figures “down-to-earth.”

“That’s a great idea, that’s what it’s there for,” Price said. “It’s so people will take a selfie and have that relationship with the father of our country.”

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brandon Campbell.

Mayoral candidates came to Southeast D.C. on Thursday to tout their stances on issues like education and marijuana legalization.

Muriel Bowser, David Catania and Carol Schwartz squared off in their final mayoral debate at Anacostia High School. WUSA9 news anchor Bruce Johnson served as moderator, asking candidates questions from Ward 8 residents and social media.

Here are some of the key moments from the debate:

1. Biggest contribution to D.C. residents

The candidates, who all have experience serving on the D.C. Council, highlighted the areas where they think they’ve had the most success in supporting residents.

A former Republican At-Large Council member, Schwartz said she was proud of the environmental and liberal policies she implemented during her time on the Council.

“I provided sick leave for those who need it, and made it easier for people to obtain it,” said Schwartz. “As well, I helped clean up the environment and the Anacostia River.”

Catania, an Independent At-Large Council member, pointed to his work improving public health, reminding voters how he helped decrease the number of uninsured D.C. residents, reduce HIV transmission rates and invest in at-risk children.

Bowser, the Democratic nominee who represents Ward 4 on the Council, said she helped provide free transit for students, which “made a big difference in everyday lives of families.”

2. Views on education

Bowser and Catania both said that changes in leadership in D.C. public schools was a key issue, adding to many of the problems that students and teachers now face.

“The biggest thing we’re missing on education policy is stability in our leadership and our schools,” Catania said.

Bowser said the public school system needed to better help students experience joy through their education, prompting the crowd to cheer.

“One thing lacking from school is learning for fun,” she said, adding that she believes the city should “should encourage increased enrollment in specialty schools,” like the School without Walls at 2130 G St. and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, also in Northwest D.C.

3. Marijuana legalization

This November, D.C. voters will weigh in on Initiative 71, which calls for the legalization of marijuana in the city. Schwartz and Catania were split on the issue.

Schwartz said she will vote “no” on Election Day, arguing that decriminalization, not legalization, was best for the city.

But Catania said he supported legalization.

“I am voting for Initiative 71,” he said. “Prohibition just simply does not work for our community.”

4. Safety as a key issue

All three candidates said safety was a top concern and that they had clear plans of action to address safety issues.

Schwartz said she would increase the size of the Metropolitan Police Department and implement other programs to improve a sense of safety across the city.

“I want to get officers out of their cars, establishing relationships with the citizens,” Schwartz said. “We all need to be walking on the streets and feel safe.”

Bowser said she plans to work with young people who often know when violence could break out, and then collaborate with them to prevent it.

“People feel more unsafe than they ever did in too many parts of this community,” she said.

But Catania had a different idea to curb violence across the city.

“I want to build up the mental health programs in schools to protect them from continuing the violence they have been surrounded by,” he said.

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