Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2014

Posts in "National Mall"

August 25, 2014

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada Hopes to Change Perception of ‘Melting Pot’ With National Mall Exhibit

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“Out of Many, One,” a massive facescape, will transform the National Mall this fall. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Mall is getting a new face this fall, composed of approximately 2,000 tons of sand, 800 tons of soil, 10,000 wooden pegs and miles of twine.

Six acres of land midway between the World War II and Lincoln memorials will transform into a grand landscape etching by Cuban-American urban artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada. The work is a composite portrait, blending the features of 18 to 25-year-old males from a variety of different racial and ethnic backgrounds whom Rodríguez-Gerada photographed on the streets of Washington, D.C.

“It’s a good time to contemplate our young men,” the artist told CQ Roll Call in a phone call from Spain. “We’re born with an identity and a face. It’s something we didn’t choose, but it affects us for the rest of our life.” Full story

August 8, 2014

‘House of Cards’ Film Crew Hits National Mall on Saturday

deere009 092313 440x291 House of Cards Film Crew Hits National Mall on Saturday

Could more filming be coming to the Capitol grounds? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“House of Cards” is filming around the National Mall on Saturday, according to the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development.

It’s unlikely fans of the wildly popular Netflix series will spot stars Kevin Spacey or Robin Wright during the 10-hour set. Crews will be “shooting ‘drive-bys’, b-roll, and a mock-motorcade scene,” says a notice posted on the agency’s site.

Local officials would love to have the show, which shoots most of its scenes in Baltimore and other areas, do more production in the District, but filming in D.C. has its challenges — especially on the Capitol grounds. Full story

July 7, 2014

Volkswagen Helps Clean Up Fourth of July Debris on National Mall

One of Europe’s largest carmakers helped America take out the trash after its 238th birthday.

Volkswagen Group of America Inc. — part of the German-based auto manufacturer that makes Volkswagen, Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley cars — volunteered 250 hours of service to help clean up the National Mall in the wake of Independence Day celebrations.

“There’s 60 or 70 employees, and they do service,” Michael Horn, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said during a water break near the Washington Monument. ”They clean up the leftovers from the Fourth of July. They paint the fences.” Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:28 p.m.
Campus, National Mall

June 9, 2014

Lunchtime Music on the Mall Launches Tuesday

Escape Capitol Hill and take your lunch to the National Mall on Tuesday to hear blues and jazz riffs performed on a 21-string harp.

A summertime music series featuring local musicians and spoken word artists kicks off at noon with a performance by West African Manding Diali percussionist Amadou Kouyate near the Smithsonian Metro Station, at 12th Street and Jefferson Drive Southwest.

Kouyate comes from a long line of musicians, and has studied and performed Mand­ing music since age three. He plays the kora, a lute-like instrument that dates back nearly 800 years. With the help of a synthesizer, he blends the traditional sound with contemporary music genres. Full story

May 28, 2014

NPS Examining Repeat Problems With Washington Monument Elevator

monument001 030813 440x292 NPS Examining Repeat Problems With Washington Monument Elevator

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After two weeks of sporadic glitches with the Washington Monument’s lone elevator, National Park Service leaders are dispelling rumors of  elevator “free falls” and reassuring employees that the machinery is safe to operate.

In a May 23 memo to his staff, National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Robert Vogel acknowledged recurring problems throughout the month of May and said NPS contractor Quality Elevator is continuing to monitor the elevator.

“I have been assured by experts we have called in to diagnose why the elevator has experienced stoppages that the elevator is safe to operate,” Vogel wrote in an internal document obtained by CQ Roll Call, which suggested the root of some elevator problems might be human error. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:53 p.m.
National Mall

May 15, 2014

Washington Monument Elevator Breakdown: Norton Raises Alarm

monument004 051214 440x288 Washington Monument Elevator Breakdown: Norton Raises Alarm

At the Washington Monument reopening, Sgt. 1st Class Crystal Lee and Staff Sgt. Troy Paolantonio of the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps perform on National Mall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two days after the Washington Monument reopened following a $15 million, 32 month renovation, an elevator breakdown briefly stranded visitors near the top of the 555-foot-tall national landmark.

The elevator stopped functioning at 10:53 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Park Service. A contractor put the elevator back into service at 12:25 p.m.

The temporary glitch forced one group of visitors to walk down 896 steps from the observation level, while 18 others aboard the non-functioning elevator were able to get off on the ground level. All of the nearly 80 visitors inside were evacuated safely.

Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:34 p.m.
National Mall

April 28, 2014

House Clears Modest Changes to D.C. Height Act, Measure Heads to Senate

holder hearing014 062012 440x292 House Clears Modest Changes to D.C. Height Act, Measure Heads to Senate

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House approved on Monday night the first change to the law governing building heights in Washington, D.C., in more than a century.

A largely noncontroversial amendment to the 1910 Height of Buildings Act was approved, 367-16, sending to the Senate what House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called “the best-vetted piece of legislation the Congress could pass in cooperation with the city” during his tenure. Full story

March 31, 2014

Idaho Man Who Fired at White House in 2011 Sentenced to 25 Years

134128609 440x314 Idaho Man Who Fired at White House in 2011 Sentenced to 25 Years

The bullet hole in the window on the residential level on the south side of the White House. (Via AFP/Getty Images)

The man who shot a semi-automatic assault rifle at the White House in 2011 was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday for terrorism and related weapons offenses.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, drove across the country for the Nov. 11, 2011 attack. He fired at least eight rounds from an AK-47-style rifle pointed out the passenger-side, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Disturbing details released Monday afternoon show Ortega-Hernandez had a troubled history and warned friends in Idaho on numerous occasions that he was “on a mission from God to take out” President Barack Obama. Full story

Eisenhower Hometown Likes Ike Memorial Design

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s hometown is encouraging the stakeholders in his Washington, D.C., memorial to move forward with architect Frank Gehry’s contentious design.

The City Commission of Abilene, Kan., passed a resolution in March pushing the Eisenhower Memorial Commission and others with oversight over the project, now 15 years in the making, to “take such actions as may be prudent and necessary to facilitate the construction.”

Unfortunately for Abilene — the World War II hero’s final resting place and the site of his presidential library — the EMC must clear huge financial and bureaucratic obstacles before any building can begin on the 4-acre site just off the National Mall in Southwest D.C.

The estimated price tag for the project, between project costs and operational costs, stands at $143.9 million, according to the EMC’s fiscal 2015 budget request. After the fiscal 2014 spending plan zeroed out construction funding and halved the EMC’s operating budget, the commission is requesting $19.3 million for construction and $2 million for commission operations. The EMC claims those resources, plus previously allocated funds, would be sufficient to complete the first phase of the memorial’s construction.

To dedicate the memorial in 2017, the commission has announced a private fundraising goal of $35 million. In January, appropriators asked the EMC to give an update on those efforts. So far, it has secured roughly $1.7 million in gifts and pledges, with approximately $3 million in outstanding asks and proposals.

Fundraisers have reached out to roughly 200 individual prospects, focusing on securing major gifts from donors in Georgia, Kansas and California. Between these three states, fundraisers have “built a pipeline of prospects with a giving capacity estimated at over $15,000,000,” the fiscal 2015 budget request states.

Achieving shovel-ready status also requires the EMC to secure approval for Gehry’s design from various federal agencies. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has given its preliminary approval, and continues to recommend changes necessary for final approval. The National Capital Planning Commission has so far declined to give preliminary approval, but the EMC is on the agenda for its April 3 meeting.

Though the Eisenhower family has been critical of the design, especially depictions of the president’s Kansas boyhood, the leaders of Abilene approve. Their resolution notes that the design would highlight “all phases” of Ike’s life.

Abilene Mayor John F. Ray said the city was happy that the memorial honored Eisenhower’s roots.

“One of the proudest things we can say is that Ike called Abilene home,” he said in a statement circulated by the EMC.

Abilene City Manager David B. Dillner said the city appreciates the importance of its “favorite son” to the nation. ”As the memorial moves forward, and after its completion, we will continue to be a partner in promoting Eisenhower to the world.”

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