- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Christopher E. Zimmerman, Arlington Countys representative on the Metro Board, sees, "no good reason" why Metro signs and maps should refer to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by its official name. Indeed, there is no doubt this Democrats favorite sport coat is partisan politics.

Nonetheless, Mr. Zimmerman, who also sits on the National capital region transportation planning board (TPB), wholeheartedly supports pressuring a Republican president on the issue of reopening Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. The TPB last week unanimously approved a resolution urging President Bush to reopen America´s Main Street, two blocks of which the cowering Clinton administration closed to vehicular traffic following the bombing in Oklahoma City in April 1995.

Most Democrats have been mum on the issue, while national leaders have complained about the imperialistic symbolism of a barricaded White House. For their part, local leaders have cited traffic nightmares, environmental concerns and untold millions in economic losses. So now, after the Bush administration has named a task force to consider sundry proposals to reopen the avenue, Mr. Zimmerman and his liberal friends play catch up in the name of bipartisan politics, claiming Bill Clinton´s closing of America´s so-called Main Street "has seriously affected the ability of District residents, suburban commuters and visitors to move through the vital area of the District of Columbia."

Obviously, Mr. Zimmerman appears to be one of those Democrats who essentially rejects out of hand any point of view that isn´t borne of his own politics. Consider the debate regarding Reagan National Airport. Congress passed in 1997 and Bill Clinton signed into law in 1998 legislation that changed the name of Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Most references since then have followed suit. Metro, however, continues to use signs and maps that refer to the old name because ornery Metro policy mandates that name changes, including those for rail stations, must be proffered by a Metro Board member who represents the jurisdiction involving the name change. Officials at Metro, which relies on congressional funding more than any other public transit system, estimate it would cost up to $400,000. But money is not the real issue. Just listen to Mr. Zimmerman because, in the case of the airport, the responsibility for proposing a name change falls to him who has said the board´s "business is running transit, and we shouldn´t be dragged into partisan, political fights."

Whatever his motives, Mr. Zimmerman is more than welcome to join the ranks of the ever-growing, reopen-Pennsylvania-Avenue chorus. Looking at the issue any other way would be petty much like the opposition to changing the signs on Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

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