By David Nakamura and Craig Timberg
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 15, 2003; Page DZ02
Had the end lived up to the 12-year history of the dispute, the
saga over Klingle Road NW would have gone out with a bang, not a
But last week, there was no packed hearing room, no angry crowds,
no extended debate. By a vote of 8 to 5, the D.C. Council rejected an
attempt by Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) to close Klingle
permanently to vehicular traffic and instead agreed to spend $5.7
million to repave the road.
The council used a novel method to pass the measure. Chairman
Linda Cropp (D-At Large) and Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) attached
the Klingle Road bill to the budget support act, a maneuver that
almost ensured that Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) could not
Williams opposed reopening Klingle, saying it was too expensive for
a half-mile stretch of road that runs east-west through Rock Creek
Park and has been closed ever since it flooded in 1991. Williams and
several council members preferred to spend $1.1 million to turn the
road into a recreational path for walkers and bikers.
Had Williams wanted to veto the measure, he would have had to block
the entire budget support act, which would have been politically
unwise and legislatively cumbersome.
The mayor was unhappy about the way Cropp and Schwartz moved their
legislation forward. "This sets a troubling precedent," Williams said
last week, comparing the move to the way federal lawmakers attach
riders to their budget. "It's difficult to veto the whole budget
support act for one item."
But Cropp referred to the move as "clever." She argued that the
council wanted to vote on the Klingle Road issue as a stand-alone
bill. The problem was, she said, that Williams never sent over such a
bill to the council.
"This was a way that Carol and I decided to move this along
quickly," Cropp said.
Noting the nasty 12-year battle over Klingle Road -- during which
some residents east of Rock Creek Park charged that residents on the
west wanted the road closed to keep out less affluent residents from
their neighborhood -- Cropp added: "This has gone on far too long and
there's been too much energy spent by all sides. We needed to bring
this to a rapid conclusion."
Had Klingle been a stand-alone bill, Cropp and Schwartz would have
needed nine votes to override any veto by Williams. Cropp said she
could have gotten nine votes, even though only eight members voted
against Mendelson's move to close the road permanently.
The mayor disagreed. "I would have vetoed it," he said. "I would
have stopped it."
So, a reporter asked, did Cropp and Schwartz put the bill into the
budget support act because they knew they only had eight votes? "There
you go," Williams said.
Cropp took exception to the mayor's view of her legislative
"It's only bad because he came out on the wrong side," she said.