Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A DC Marathon Tale

As reported by The Washington Examiner on 3/26:

D.C Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, called Saturday's Wirefly National Marathon "awful planning" after hearing complaints from some Southwest residents who awoke to find a section of M Street closed to vehicle traffic. Wells said marathon organizers never briefed him on the route, adding Mayor Adrian Fenty, who ran in Saturday's race, called him Friday night to apologize for poor planning. "I've got a staff who could sit down and look at it and say, "I think we have a problem here."

Without even checking the facts here, it seems rather strange that the Mayor himself participated in the marathon, yet at the 11th hour is apologizing for poor planning. Did it not occur to him that the marathon in which he planned to participate, might have some impact on the city? But a little research reveals yet another case of selective memory loss by D.C. politicians.

Where to begin? Well how about Tommy Wells' website. On Wednesday the 21st, Charles Allen, Wells' chief of staff (presumably, one of the ones who could sit down and say "I think we have a problem") posted a Community Advisory describing all the road closures, and even including a link to a map of the actual race course.

Then, there's a letter from Joseph Fengler, an ANC representative in Tommy Wells' district, to race director Christopher Browne. In this letter Fengler notes that "at our regularly scheduled Commission meeting on December 14, 2006, we voted unanimously to support the 2007 National Marathon scheduled for March 24, 2007." So, at least one of the ANCs in Tommy's district knew about this months ahead of time, and in fact even went on the record supporting the race.

The MPD issued an advisory. The Washington Times reported on March 11 that "[race official] Sweeney spent Friday afternoon before city officials hammering out the final course to be run in two weeks. Although a course was approved on Aug. 14, Sweeney said, the Metropolitan police had logistical concerns..." and consequently they changed the course at the request of MPD. (The course change did not affect Wells' ward, but altered the course in Northwest DC to open certain evacuation routes.)

I have been told that the race organizers have been in weekly planning meetings with the District of Columbia government for 6 months. There have been frequent stories in the news about the marathon, in particular related to Fenty's participation.

So, the rest of the world -- including MPD, Wells' staff, Wells' ANC representatives, and the media -- knew all about this event months ago. So where does Wells get off throwing the marathon organizers under the bus? Sounds to me like they did everything right here, while he and the mayor were out to lunch.

No comments: