February 27, 2024
Hello, Tuesday! Nice to see you.
- Today's weather: Showers likely, high of 65.
🐰 Situational awareness: The White House just opened its online lottery for a chance to attend the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. The lottery runs through March 4 at noon.
- Winners will be randomly selected for the April 1 party that's designed for kids 12 and under.
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Today's newsletter is 911 words — a 3-minute read.
1 big thing: 🧭 Downtown palooza
D.C. is rethinking downtown with a plan to invest $400 million over five fiscal years and create new districts dedicated to culture, universities, and green spaces.
Why it matters: D.C.'s Downtown Action Plan aims to build up the residential base downtown, and look beyond Capital One Arena if the Capitals and Wizards do leave the city.
🌃 State of play: The 42-page plan, released yesterday, includes the first concrete proposals coming from downtown groups after a long process.
- It aims to follow through on Mayor Muriel Bowser's year-old "comeback plan" to grow downtown's population by 15,000 people — emphasizing restoring public safety and improving the pedestrian experience.
Among the proposals:
- More space for festivals and pedestrians in Penn Quarter/Chinatown.
- A lush green boulevard for I Street north of the White House, with wider sidewalks on Connecticut and Vermont avenues.
- A new venue (not yet determined) to anchor a new entertainment and cultural district in Downtown West, roughly between the nightlife area of Dupont Circle and Midtown Center on M and 15th streets.
- Building on GW University's presence, Pennsylvania Avenue west of the White House would be labeled a district for higher education, tech, and policy groups.
📉 The big picture: Downtown's annual tax revenue is down by $240 million since 2019, according to city stats.
- The plan calls for $401 million invested into downtown, starting with $39 million in the next fiscal year.
- "It will only get worse if we don't intervene," said Gerren Price, head of the Downtown Business Improvement District, at the plan's unveiling.
What's ahead: The plan document has the stamp of support from Bowser, which makes it likely that in her next budget she will adopt the proposed downtown investments.
- But the $400 million proposal will also need approval from council members, who must balance helping downtown's economy alongside housing, education, and social services programs.
2. Taylor Swift's D.C. lawyer
Taylor Swift may not have stopped in D.C. during the record-breaking Eras Tour, but she has another link to the area: representation by the Washington-based Venable law firm.
Why it matters: Swift keeps her circle and business very tight, but we do know Venable has helped her with copyright claims and even on a social media account that tracks the private jets of celebrities.
Driving the news: Right now, Venable partner Katherine "Katie" Wright Morrone is trying to get a college student in Florida to stop posting Swift's private jet flights on the X account @SwiftJetNextDay, Bloomberg reported.
- A Dec. 22 letter threatened Jack Sweeney with legal action over the posts, which have used public information to track the jets of celebrities including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates.
- "You have engaged in stalking and harassing behavior, including consistently publishing real-time and precise information about our client's location," the letter said.
- Sweeney hit back on the cease and desist letter, posting his lawyer's response on X and responding with, "Look What You Made Me Do."
Venable did not respond to a request for comment.
3. Around the Beltway: Goodwill's green light
A U.S. airman who set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in D.C. on Sunday has died. In a video of the incident, the 25-year-old said he would "no longer be complicit in genocide," which the Israeli military is accused of committing in Gaza." (Axios)
🏘️ A first-of-its-kind residential project for Goodwill got the green light in Arlington. The nonprofit will replace its flagship location with an all-affordable housing complex and a new retail store. (Washington Business Journal)
🚔 The Justice Department says D.C. police's response to 911 calls may violate the rights of people with mental health illness. (Washington Post)
4. "American Woman" hits shelves
"American Woman," a dishy book on the transformation of modern first ladies, is out today.
Why it matters: The book sheds light on the role first lady Jill Biden plays in the current White House — in a way that's eerily relevant to Biden's recent presidential debacle, writes Axios' Mike Allen.
Zoom in: It was Jan 19, 2022. President Biden and top aides were gathered in the president's study after a press conference that ran nearly two hours. He made several factual errors. Suddenly, the group saw Jill Biden in the doorway, per an excerpt Axios obtained from the book.
- Rogers writes, "She had watched the news conference, and the look on her face told everyone in the room — from the president on down — that they had some explaining to do. 'Why didn't anyone stop that?'" she demanded.
Behind the scenes: "This dressing down ... illustrated the degree to which she is her husband's fiercest protector," Rogers continues:
"Everyone stayed silent, looking at one another, and then at her, and back to one another. That included the most powerful man in the world. Her husband essentially played along, not offering an answer, even though aides had slipped him a card suggesting he end the press conference."
The intrigue: The book briefly touches on the, um, more personal moments in the Bidens' relationship. Like how Joe isn't shy to share his affection for Jill.
- "Joe may have tamped down on his public bedroom declarations [in] winning the presidency, but he has joked to aides that 'good sex' is the key to a lasting and happy marriage, much to his wife's chagrin," writes Rogers.
New jobs to check out
💼 See who's hiring around the city.
- Manager, Local Affairs - South at Everytown for Gun Safety.
- Development and Operations Associate at Renew Democracy Initiative.
- Business Transient Sales Manager at Doyle Dupont Circle Hotel.
- Client Lead (Senior Director) at Purple Strategies.
- Development Associate at Rankin Weller.
Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.
Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.
5. 🔍 Where's Go-Go
This week's weather is bananas, so Go-Go is trekking around town. Can you spot where she is?
- Hit reply with the correct guess and you'll be entered to win some Axios swag.
🔥 Anna is grilling chili-soy chicken thighs.
Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.