The Solomon Scandals
The D.C. newspaper novel, the media,the Washington area, tech and other surrealism: David Rothman at large
The $1B Quarter Pentagon boondoggle, aka BRAC-133: More coverage from me after the election

Update: Jim Moran has since told me there was no quid pro quo, that the Indiana real estate developer’s contributions were part of an arrangement by which the developer contributed to many people at once. I appreciated the Moran response and will let readers judge for themselves.

You haven’t heard the last from me about The Quarter Pentagon, aka BRAC-133, the billion-dollar-plus boondoggle that the Bush-era Defense Department inflicted on my area of Alexandria, Virginia.

This is a media blog in part. I see the press and local government as having a mixed record, given that such a hated and useless project could blight my city without more people aware of it beforehand.

BRAC-133—which received its "quarter Pentagon" nickname from an irate skeptic who noted that the twin towers would hold 6,400 workers or one fourth of the Pentagon’s—is a perfect example of the need for good hyperlocal journalism.

As just one example of what the press should have done in my opinion, I’ve listed campaign contributions from major BRAC-133 contractors to Rep. Jim Moran, but have emphasized that there is no proven quid pro quo and that he has been a fierce public critic of this gigantic traffic-clogger. For those reasons and because I generally agree with Moran on other issues, I’ll in fact be voting for him. But post election, my quest for the truth about BRAC-133 will continue (no responses so far to my queries for Moran, Clark Construction or Duke Realty) and I hope others will likewise show curiosity. Citizens such as Don Buch and Diane Costello—and Web sites for the Lincolnia Hills & Heywood Glen and Seminary Hills associations—were protesting against the Quarter Pentagon long before I started. The more voices, the better.

If nothing else, I hope that indignation over this billion-dollar-plus mistake will help lead to bans against even routine political contributions from top employees and officers of government contractors (I hate the concept of “access money” in any context) and aid other forms of campaign reform and vigilance against overdevelopment. I also have questions about the very need for BRAC-133. As others have pointed out, terrorists could attack from nearby I-395; and beyond that, the BRAC-133 site is within easy H-bomb distance of ground zero at the Pentagon. Couldn’t the $1B have gone instead toward deficit reduction, education, healthcare, creation of green jobs, or more helpful military expenditures? And should so much of the federal government be in the D.C. area? Time to spread the money around and increase national security—especially with all the new communications options available?

Meanwhile, just to make clear that my writings are an attack on BRAC-133 and the idiocy behind it, not an effort to influence the Nov. 2 election, I’ll take a holiday from this issue until after the balloting unless extraordinary facts emerge which help pinpoint blame for the Quarter Pentagon beyond the mega-spenders of the Bush administration and the all-too-helpful the Army Corps of Engineers. I doubt this will happen immediately. Happy voting!

(Creative Common-licensed photo of BRAC-133 complex.)

Related: Latest Federal Times article on the boondoggle.

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