When I first read Cindy Adams' diatribe against Washington, D.C. (the "District of Crapola"), I just had to say, "Wait, what?"
You see, the D.C. described by Adams little resembles the city I've called home for most of my life:
We're talking a war zone. The approach to historic Washington, DC, is filth. If the area were a building, it would be condemned.
As a Washingtonian reading Adams' column, I wondered when my hometown became Islamabad:
Take Pakistan. I've been there. Its government city is a lavatory. Dirty, littered, a dump. But who cares -- that's Pakistan, right? Well, guess what. It's the same in our government city.
To start, I'm not sure where exactly Cindy Adams is writing about. Is it the D.C. suburbs? Southeast? Downtown? She praises our "inside the belt" (Washingtonians don't call it "the belt") monuments and museums, while noting that, "Outside the belt, even the hair on Lincoln's Monument would turn gray." Yet she later criticizes
[y]ou who people Washington, who enjoy the luxury of Chevy Chase and Georgetown, the Potomac, bike trails, affluent residential gardens of Maryland and Virginia, and choose not to live in DC, should be ashamed of yourselves.
Note: Chevy Chase and Georgetown are inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C.
So we're already starting on a bad foot.
Now, I admit that Washington has its problems. Nearly one in five residents lives in poverty (our childhood poverty rate is worse than Mexico) and in 2011, 2,257 properties were identified as vacant by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Cindy Adams sees these dilapidated areas of D.C. as "dregs":
Broken sidewalks. In open areas around gutters, roadways, open deserted lots, it's discarded soda cans, graffiti, syringes, rotted junk, rubber tires, strewn paper, chalk marks, cigarette butts, dog poop, empty bottles, thrown out plastic bags, open garbage, drug paraphernalia, abandoned needles, filthy rags, needles, junky clothes, broken plumbing facilities, backyards and front yards filled with detritus. Elvis alive is probably in there.
All of these abandoned buildings and "open garbage" mean that D.C. kids can't play outside, according to Adams: "Any game in those dirty lots would be Spin the Cop." Well, she'll be relieved to hear that D.C. has 68 recreation centers, 13 community gardens and 23 national parks, all in the District of Columbia proper.
But what about the areas of D.C. that aren't green and full of gardens? As Adams asks, "Why not help your own city?"
Thankfully, people are. According to the Washington City Paper, 1,217 once-vacant properties became occupied in 2012. Areas like Anacostia's Big K site are being developed and in Eckington, a 37-unit apartment building that was vacant for more than 10 years is being converted into apartments. Non-profit Transitional Housing Corporation has turned abandoned and blighted buildings into permanent supportive housing for more than 400 D.C. families; Fort View Apartments, for example, was transformed from a blighted building into 62 units of affordable housing.
It's not just vacant lots that are being cleaned up, either.
Programs like So Others Might Eat, Martha's Table, Covenant House and the Homeless Children's Playtime Project provide food, housing and support for homeless children and adults. D.C.'s HIV/AIDS infection rate is slowly decreasing, and the city's murder rate in 2012 hit a 50-year low.
On top of this, Washington, D.C. was recently named America's second best city for job seekers, and with 5.3 percent unemployment, we're well below the national average (New York City unemployment stands at 8.5 percent). D.C. is America's most literate city, Parenting magazine's number one pick in 2011 for best city to raise a family and America's third best city, according to Bloomberg Businessweek
So, I'm sorry Cindy Adams didn't enjoy her time in the Nation's Capital -- er, "Nation's Crap-ital" -- but Washingtonians on Twitter don't care if she comes back to the city any time soon.
(And as DCist points out, "How exactly does Adams get to and from New York without going through Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, or New Jersey?")