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After 1,250 Columns, the End

Sun, 31 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

T he first of 1,250 columns, nine years ago, spoke of a time that seems impossible now, of heady young tech moguls flush with money and drunk with possibility, instructing the chef at The Palm in Tysons Corner to spell out "Netscape" for them -- in crabmeat.

Marc Fisher's Time as Columnist Comes to an End

Fri, 29 May 2009 10:10:52 EDT

The first of 1,250 columns, nine years ago, spoke of a time that seems impossible now, of heady young tech moguls flush with money and drunk with possibility, instructing the chef at The Palm in Tysons Corner to spell out "Netscape" for them -- in crabmeat.

There's a Hot Race in Va., but Will Voters Show?

Tue, 26 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

A t the past three campaign events I've gone to, I've heard the same opposing views from Virginians contemplating the June 9 Democratic primary: "It's only governor, so I don't think I need to vote" runs slam into "I'm tired of politics after last year, but this is for governor, so I guess I better get out there and vote."

Schools Can Get Through to Troubled Kids, if D.C. Council Stays Out of the Way

Thu, 21 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The biggest difference between many D.C. public schools and their suburban counterparts is the enormous and too-often-ineffectual infrastructure the city system has built to deal with a few kids in each classroom who throw tantrums, assault teachers or otherwise disrupt the proceedings.

Raw Fisher: From Marc Fisher's Blog

Tue, 19 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Score one for the little guy: Mayor Adrian Fenty's representative has ruled that members of a downtown church must be allowed to worship in a building of their choice, despite efforts by historic preservationists to landmark the 38-year-old concrete bunker of a sanctuary that the church wants to get rid of.

Look Who's in Bed Together on Gay Marriage Fight

Sun, 17 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

L ying on his cot in the Longworth House Office Building in the small of the night, Jason Chaffetz had a scary dream: The conservative Republican from Utah had beaten the odds, defeated an incumbent and made it to Washington, only to end up by some bizarre twist of events arm-in-arm with Marion Barry, the crack-smoking laughingstock former mayor of the District of Columbia.

Marc Fisher: Even for Clinton, Rallying Voters' Attention Is No Walk in the Park

Thu, 14 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The regular weekday visitors at Frying Pan Park come for the tractor ride and a look at the goats and the pigs. Yesterday, immediately next to the pigsty, there was a bonus attraction: the former president of the United States and his buddy, who is running for governor of Virginia.

Marc Fisher: Practical Politicians Obama, Barry Draw Line at Gay Marriage

Tue, 12 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

When the history of this country's journey toward acceptance of same-sex marriage is written, much will be made of the startling swiftness with which one state after another embraced gay marriage in 2008 and 2009. A huge shift in popular attitudes toward homosexuality has happened in what history will eventually see as a blink of an eye.

Loser of 2007 Dulles Taxi Contract Finds That Alliances Can Trump Fairness

Sun, 10 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

J erry Schaeffer wasn't born yesterday. Play around in a tough business like the D.C. taxi industry for half a century and you get to see just how power really works. Sometimes, when you're trying to land a contract, merit isn't enough. There's a reason God invented lawyers, Schaeffer knows.

Slots Are About Money, Not What's Best for Md.

Thu, 07 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Through all the years, as Republicans and Democrats alike schemed to legalize slot machines in Maryland, politicians desperately tried to cover their big money grab with high-toned purpose. Slots, they said, would benefit our kids; gambling would save the state's elegant horses and the picturesque farms on which they were raised. Always, slots were presented as a strictly limited vice, anything but a steppingstone toward full-blown casinos.

Marc Fisher's Blog: To Boost In-State Rolls, Va. Colleges Need More Funds

Tue, 05 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

In their increasingly desperate search for messages that might win them some votes in ever-more-Democratic Northern Virginia, Republicans think they've hit pay dirt with an appeal to parents stressed out about getting their kids into the state's universities.

Flu Not as Contagious as Fear

Sun, 03 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Swine flu is in the air, but the bug to watch out for is the germ of fear.

Surrogate Mud-Slinging in Virginia Governor's Race

Thu, 30 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Virginia's unemployment rate jumped to 7 percent in February, the highest since 1992, but what's the Republican Governors Association doing as they pump $1.2 million into their man Bob McDonnell's campaign for governor? They're busy yukking it up over the sleaziness of Bill Clinton and Terry McAuliffe, his longtime fundraiser turned Democratic candidate for governor.

Pastors Plan Rally Against D.C. Same-Sex Marriage Initiatives

Tue, 28 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Proponents of the District's move to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages sanctioned by four states were thrilled last week when a planned anti-gay marriage demonstration in front of the D.C. Council's offices didn't come off.

Couple's Coming Nuptials a Hiatus From Life on the Streets

Sun, 26 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

She had heard all the lines, knew all the games. So when Dante White's first words to Nhiahni Chestnut were "I want you to be my wife," his chances did not seem strong.

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Marc Fisher: Child Protection System Puts New Mother Through the Wringer

Thu, 23 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Woozy from pain medication after a Caesarean section, swinging from joy over her newborn boy to exhaustion from the strain of delivering him, Karen Piper mentioned to her doctor that she'd been hoping for a girl. She would come to regret those words.

Marc Fisher: Online Booksellers Speeding Demise of Local Bookstores

Tue, 21 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

It's gotten to the point where even newspaper editors -- hopeless nostalgists that they tend to be -- roll their eyes over yet another Death of a Bookstore story. Like tales about dying newspapers, these love songs to a fleeting era and a sagging technology can be tiresome, both to younger folks who see the new media as a perfectly reasonable and even exciting replacement for what came before and to older folks who have had it with constant reminders that the culture that served them so well is vanishing before their eyes.

A Swan Song for an Area Treasure

Sun, 19 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The conductor, Kurt Masur, had met these hundred voices just a few days before, but though he was frail and shaking in his old age, he bounced up on his toes, gripping the air as if to pull anguish and reverence from the chorus before him.

Marc Fisher Column: If Mayor Bloomberg Were Governor of Virginia

Thu, 16 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

RICHMOND, April 30, 2010 --

Zero-Tolerance Policies in Practice

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

We don't really know what we want. That's the conclusion of a social psychologist who decided to test just how committed parents and others are to single-sanction, zero-tolerance, tough-love punishment regimens of the kind that many schools have adopted to fight drug use by teenagers.

Opinions Vary on Whether District Is Ready for Same-Sex Marriage

Sun, 12 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The secret memo on same-sex marriage is perhaps the best-protected document in a historically leaky government; it's so secret that even now, five years after then-Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti wrote it, members of the D.C. Council say they've never been allowed to see it.

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Marc Fisher Column: Future of Nats and Stadium Neighborhood Up to Us

Thu, 09 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

There was supposed to be a neighborhood here -- teeming streets, happy people sharing nights of cheer and cheers . . . even, perhaps, an occasional win. Instead, the blocks around Washington's new baseball stadium remain largely empty, an eerie expanse of flattened lots so bereft of activity that they can be used for but one thing -- parking.

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U-Md. President C.D. Mote Jr. Should Have Learned From William and Mary Case

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Bulletin: College kids like sex. Bigger bulletin: College kids like to outrage their elders. Super-bonus bulletin: Some adults know how to deal with this, and some do not.

Unbending Rules on Drugs in Schools Drive One Teen to the Breaking Point

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

J osh Anderson had just finished four homework assignments. He did his laundry. He watched TV with his mother -- "House," which he had Tivo'd for viewing that night. He played with the dogs. Then, at his mom's urging, he went up to bed. It was 12:30, and the next day, March 19, was a big one: Josh was scheduled for a hearing that probably would end with his expulsion from the Fairfax County school system.

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Marc Fisher Column: Industry Resorts to Red Herring to Oppose Plastic Bag Fee

Thu, 02 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

First, a quick detour back to 1987, when D.C. voters made the city the most liberal place in the country to defeat a ballot question that would have imposed a nickel deposit on soda and beer bottles and cans.

Private Businesses Should Run Barren Virginia Rest Stops, Marc Fisher Says

Tue, 31 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Have you ever noticed that the rest stops along Virginia's interstate highways include no gas stations, restaurants or other commercial services, while those along I-95 in Maryland have busy mini-malls offering everything from tuna to tune-ups?

In D.C., You Can Fight City Hall Over Parking Penalties. You Can Even Get an Apology.

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

"G ood luck," I told Sean Dougherty. "I'll be thrilled if you win, but you won't."

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A Twisted Case of Cyberharassment Reveals a 'Void in the Law'

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

First came the phone calls: men, strangers, telling Barbara Goddard they'd seen her ad on Craigslist and were eager to come over for her promised "casual encounter."

D.C. Area Job-Search Centers' Abundant Offering: Time Spent Waiting

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Like any workplace, this room has its pecking order, its wise veterans, its newly arrived go-getters. In this room, the work is waiting. An official notice gets posted on the bulletin board, and the newcomers rush over. Before they can even read the posting, an old-timer calls over: "Forget it -- it's not for you."

U.S. Court of Appeals Cites 'Muddled Litigation Strategy' in Not Overturning Ruling on D.C. Firefighters Having Facial Hair

Tue, 17 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

How important is the freedom to express yourself by determining how you look? Is the right to grow a beard, whether as a personal statement or part of a religious belief system, more important than your life or the lives of your co-workers?

A Tale of Two Communities, and of How the Tale Gets Told

Sun, 15 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

W ith its rolling lawns and secluded glens, Fort Ward looks like a lovely place to take a walk. Turns out, it's far more than a park in Alexandria -- it's one history sacrificed to make way for another, a Civil War military installation that has become a contemporary battleground over whose story gets told.

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Marc Fisher: Columnist Says Washington Should Yield on Other Issues to Get Vote in Congress

Thu, 12 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Give ground on the guns; get the vote.

Internet Free-for-All Promises an Ongoing Test of Free Speech

Tue, 10 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

According to somebody out there in computerland, the Dunkin' Donuts in Centreville, Md., is one of "the most dirty and unsanitary-looking food-service places I have seen."

Delegate's Stance On Death Penalty Informed by Tragedy

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EST

The phone call came in the middle of midterm exams at the University of Illinois. "We need you to come home," Vivian Rice told her son, Craig. "Something's happened to Aunt Millie."

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Va. Judge Was Right to Step On The Sign Avenger's Cape

Thu, 05 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EST

The last time they tangled in court, Robert Lauderdale swore he'd be back soon enough, protecting Arlington from the ugly little advertising signs that Scott Small and others plant along the median strips. For his part, Small promised to catch his tormentor again. "Next time, he'll go to jail," he vowed.

Fenty's Take on Bigotry At Dubai Tennis Tourney Is Dubious at Best

Tue, 03 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EST

Mayor Adrian Fenty says he went to Dubai for a week because, well, "I always wanted to go."

Bloggers Can't Fill the Gap Left by a Shrinking Press Corps

Sun, 01 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EST

Packs of lobbyists fill two rooms outside the House and Senate chambers in Richmond every afternoon, watching the proceedings on big video screens, zapping legislators with e-mails the instant the lobbyists sense that one of their bills might be in trouble. The interest groups that hire lobbyists can rest easy; they've got the legislature covered.

In Cobbler's Shops, Tough Times Are Mending a Moribund Industry

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

Just down from Arin Simon's place, two storefronts are empty now. An auto parts store vanished a few weeks ago, after nearly half a century on Fenton Street in Silver Spring. The hurt is visible on nearly every block. Simon sees it all around him, but the bell on his door keeps ringing.

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Time for I-66 to Grow Out

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

The strange story of Interstate 66 -- the highway that became a symbol for both sides in the eternal war between proponents of urban density and suburban development -- just got a whole lot stranger.

McDonnell Casts Himself As a More Moderate Choice

Sun, 22 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

D emocrats don't yet claim Virginia as their own, but they have won two straight governor's races, both U.S. Senate seats, two out of three House seats in the Washington suburbs and a majority in the state Senate. So who does the Republican Party choose to pry the door to the Washington suburbs back open?

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A Bad Deal for Md. Taxpayers

Thu, 19 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

In the end, Mayor Adrian Fenty decided it wasn't worth a fight to keep D.C. United in Washington. Fenty, no fan of the deal to build a baseball stadium in the city, was even less enamored of using the District's financing power to put up a soccer stadium, which has far less ability to spark economic development.

An Example Waiting to Be Made

Tue, 17 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

Should Marion Barry go to jail for failing -- yet again -- to file his tax returns?

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Brash and Loaded With Cash, McAuliffe Skips Past The Experience Issue

Sun, 15 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

I f the presidential race had gone his way, Terry McAuliffe says, he might be secretary of commerce now. "Jeez, I would have loved to be vice president," he muses. McAuliffe thinks big and acts even bigger.

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In a Casual-Dining World, D.C. Is Still Comfortable in a Tie

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

If New Yorkers want to go the way of Los Angeles, may God have mercy upon their souls. But here in Washington, the gents who run the city's jacket-and-tie restaurants say they will not go the way of Manhattan's famous 21 Club, which announced the other day that although ties are still "preferred," they are no longer a prerequisite to eating one of 21's $30 burgers.

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Moran Relying on Democratic Roots, Judgment in Run for Governor

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

In the Moran clan, the gospel teaches that politics is about relationships. For 12 years in the state capital, on endless trips across Virginia as leader of the Democratic caucus, Brian Moran built and nursed bonds with sheriffs and mayors and business owners, all leading to this moment, to his drive to succeed Mark Warner and Tim Kaine as the state's third consecutive Democratic governor.

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When One Among Us Falls, We All Are Compelled to Act

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

I've been over the 19 minutes of security cam video seven times now, and by my count, 166 people walked past a man who lay motionless on the sidewalk outside a busy District supermarket one afternoon last week.

Candidate Closer to N.Va. Than It Seems

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

Creigh Deeds expects to have less money than any other candidate for governor of Virginia. In the Washington area, he's probably the least well-known of the bunch. In a state that is rapidly becoming more suburban, more Democratic and more affluent, he's the only candidate from a rural, Republican, lower-income area.

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At Least D.C. Is Getting Some Respect

Thu, 29 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST

For once, a roomful of members of Congress managed to debate the shame of this democracy with only one cavalierly telling half a million people that if they really want voting rights, all they need do is move.

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