The District Digest: WMATA’s ups and downs

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are getting closer to pinpointing the cause of last week’s Metro crash.  They discovered that WMATA had replaced a crucial component of the signaling component, the “Wee-Z bond” which maintains a safe distance between trains, and it malfunctioned.  There have already been a couple lawsuits filed against Metro, including one by Johnnie Cochran’s law firm.  WMATA General Manager John Catoe announced that the system will keep operating in manual mode until outside experts have a chance to examine the signaling system, which could as long as a year.

In some rare “good on you, WMATA” news, the embattled transit agency just re-launched its NextBus service this Wednesday.  NextBus allows you to see when the next bus will be arriving for any route and can be used from the internet or a cell phone.  The service was launched as a pilot program about two years ago for 32 routes, but it was only 80 percent accurate.  The improved version covers all 335 bus routes.

Harriette Walters, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue employee who masterminded the largest embezzlement in city’s history, was sentenced to 17 and half years in prison.  It was revealed in 2007 that over the course of two decades Walters’ had defrauded the D.C. government to the tune of $48.1 million through issuing tax refunds to fake businesses.

Speaking of OTR, this year they mistakenly sent tax refunds to people who actually owe the District taxes. One resident who got the unmerited refund was D.C. Councilmember David Catania’s (I—At Large) parter, Brian.

After the jump: the Washington Post wipes out, medicinal marijuana makes progress, legal fireworks fun and more.

D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham (D—Ward 1), thinks the city has too many cab drivers and has introduced legislation to put a “cap” on the number of licensed cabbies.

The Washington Post found themselves in hot water after Politico reported that they were offering lobbyists tickets to exclusive “salons” where they would have access to “those powerful few” for up to $250,000.  The Post scrapped the salon plans after the ensuing PR disaster.

Yesterday, the Real World D.C. cast moved in to their Dupont Circle digs.

The House appropriations committee lifted a longstanding ban on the D.C. government spending money to decriminalize marijuana, meaning D.C. could have a referendum on legalizing pot for medicinal purposes.

A D.C. Superior Court Judge upheld the Board of Elections and Ethics ruling that there cannot be a ballot referendum on same-sex marriage as it would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has posted a map of legal fireworks stands (the closest one is near Logan’s Circle)—enjoy!

Image from Flickr user brhefele, used under a Creative Commons license.

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