Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 11/12/08 - NBC4 Washington

Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 11/12/08

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    The District prepares for the inauguration.

    There were traffic headaches Monday afternoon for blocks around the White House: The Obamas were coming for a visit.

    And there are traffic headaches every day now near the city courts on 5th Street. The old Securities and Exchange Commission building there is the new Obama transition headquarters. Staff is just starting to move into the site, which has been sanitized for security by the Secret Service.

    It's only going to get worse.

    Happy as many people are that Barack Obama won the White House, we are going to see an unprecedented security shutdown of this city as the Obama era begins.

    For starters, prepare yourself for the Jan. 20 inauguration. With good weather or bad, city and federal officials are expecting record-busting crowds. The people will be blocks deep just trying to get a glimpse.

    Police Chief Cathy Lanier told WTOP and NBC4 that she's bringing in 4,000 officers from 93 other jurisdictions to help with inaugural week. That's a 25 percent increase over the number of officers involved in 2004.

    It may be the biggest event this city has ever seen. We're excited -- and worried about the effort it's all going to take.

    • Battle Over The Best View?

    The District government has one of the best viewing spots to see the inaugural parade. The city's Department of Public Works builds a reviewing stand over the steps at the John Wilson Building at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

    But there's already rumbling that Mayor Adrian Fenty and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray don't see eye to eye on who will sit on the platform that day.

    The council controls the Wilson Building, but the mayor controls the department that's building the reviewing stand.

    Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans is urging the city leaders to split the tickets fairly so the city won't be embarrassed like it was when the mayor and council fought over baseball tickets.

    • Space For D.C. Citizens?

    When The Notebook was the guest analyst last week on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show, we suggested to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton that maybe the city could snag a few blocks to reserve for District citizens at the inauguration. We were thinking about Freedom Plaza across from the Wilson Building. Who knows, the city could even turn it into a voting-rights demonstration. And maybe if the mayor boots the council off the inaugural platform, its members could join the people across the street.

    • Polite Thing To Do

    While we're focusing on the council, we'd like to remind Chairman Gray and council staff that it's not polite to keep people waiting.

    Once again this week, the council chamber was filled with citizens anxious to see what the council would do with planned budget cuts. The 1 p.m. start time came and went. It was not until about 1:30 that Gray started the meeting.

    Note to council staff: When the council doesn't start on time and more than a couple of minutes have passed, it would be polite for someone to make an announcement to the gathered crowd about what's going on. The citizens' time is important; it ought to be respected. An apology for starting late would also be appropriate.

    • Schwartz Says So Long

    Defeated at-large Council member Carol Schwartz was not at this week's council session to approve upcoming budget cuts. Several council members said she had gone on vacation.

    It was a tough defeat for the veteran public official. More than one council member expressed sympathy for Schwartz, saying that while all members serve the city, for Schwartz the council "was her life."

    Schwartz herself said, "It's been a good run and I am glad to have run it."

    The private group that's trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help repair the National Mall is starting to get some traction.

    The Trust for the National Mall announced this week that it has raised $3 million in its initial efforts to begin the transformation. It's going to use some of the money to replace outdated and worn signs. That's good. It's hard to get your bearings if you don't know where you are.

    "We are confident," said trust founder Chip Akridge, "that we will be able to raise the necessary funds to make the National Mall the best park in the world."

    • History Lessons

    The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., is hosting its 35th annual conference on city life through Saturday. Events, including talks and films, will be held at the old Carnegie Library at 801 K St. NW. There will also be walking tours.

    The Web site historydc.org lists all the information on times and subjects.

    • Let It Snow

    Mayor Fenty has promised better snow removal this winter. The city's efforts have been spotty at best, and the mayor is aware of the hot reaction he may get to untended snowfalls.

    The mayor says new equipment and new staging routes mean that the city "will treat and clear" both the main roads and neighborhoods.

    We await the first flake.