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Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 10, Issue 7, April 2004
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

94th Anniversary Annual Awards Banquet Coming May 19th
Paper Tags, Anne Renshaw
President's Message: Vigilance, Carroll Green
River Terrace Community Demo, Saturday, April 24
Officers and Board
Judge Candidates Being Queried Concerning Community Service
E-Mail Exchange in Virginia City Council Is No Meeting
Bills for DC Voting Rights Rife in Congress
DC Bar Association Announces Speakers Bureau Revival
Pro Bono Administrative Assistant Needed by Prominent Law Firm
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates

Tuesday, April 27
7:00 p.m.

Bennett Rushkoff, Esq., Chief, Consumer and Trade Protection Office, Office of the Corporation Counsel
Tariseh Coaxum, Esq., FOIA Officer, OCC
Dorothy Brizill, DCWatch

The Sunshine Law, Freedom of Information Act, and Consumer Protection Initiatives

1201 Seventeenth Street, NW
(At M Street) 

7 PM



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Ninety-fourth and counting toward 100! Wednesday, May 19 is the reserved date for the gala 2004 Federation Awards banquet. As in past years, the Ft. McNair Officers Club will be the elegant venue. The savvy banquet committee of Jim Jones (Crestwood), Kay Eckles (Residential Action Coalition), Phyllis Klein (Dupont Circle), and Guy Gwynne (Burleith) is finalizing arrangements, which stand to be on a par with those of previous years' blowouts.

Once a year the venerable Federation decides to take a break and have some fun, in considerable style. Last year's success fou was the best ever, and things just keep getting better. Joining us this year will be members of the cutting-edge Hexagon Club cabaret troupe — no less educational than entertaining.

Association action alert: now is the time to form up and reserve association tables. Tables this year will be for ten persons. The cost is a bargain $40 per person. Associations are encouraged to collect in advance and thereby bypass the busy check-in table, as well as simplifying the accounting process. Tables will, as usual, bear signs identifying the sponsoring association. (The cheerful result is the appearance of a political nomination convention.) Individual delegates and guests may of course register with a banquet committee caller, and there is always a lot of individual placement at various cheerful tables.

Several associations occupied two tables each last year. These we-love-a-party sponsors were Crestwood, Oldest Inhabitants, and Burleith. Sharing went on: the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly shared with table host American University Park Association, and there was table sharing (or was it table hopping) between the Palisades and Hillcrest associations. All the resulting happy hubbub makes for a lively tout ensemble that has made background music impossible in the past. This year already promises to be bigger and better than ever! Every association is encouraged to come in swaggering, with a sign on its separate table. For information or just to chat about the banquet, call the Banquet Hotline, 202-338-5164.

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Ann Renshaw (Chevy Chase), Chairman, DMV Citizens Advisory Council

The DC city council recently held public hearings on three bills covering used car lots. One of the big problems, as Federation President Carroll Green recently testified, is the criminal activity surrounding the theft, loan, or trade of paper tags, which have a street value of approximately $150.

How bad is the problem? According to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Director Anne Witt, it's "out of control." "We are very concerned," she admitted. Stolen, loaned, or traded paper tags are used to avoid parking enforcement, as well as to mask vehicle ownership and/or the lack of insurance coverage.

On any given day, there are 232,000 DC registered vehicles. Paper tags, in one of three colors (red, blue, or pink) and embedded with a special hologram, are issued on a temporary, 20-day basis. Red paper tags, issued by DMV directly to customers, remain constant at 30,000 per year. Pink tags denote "new" cars that do not require inspection. Blue paper tags, however, are distributed ten at a time to the 242 active used-car dealerships in the District, which then disburse them to clients. It is "less clear if used car dealers are selling the cars or the tags," said Ms. Witt.

Dealers can issue paper tags to anyone. In calendar year 2002, 36,000 paper tags were issued; in 2003, 79,000, only 16 percent of which (12,640) went to DC residents. The rest (66,360) were given out to non-DC residents, more from Maryland than Virginia, who supposedly purchased (perhaps marginal) cars in the District. If the 2004 trend holds true, 85,000 paper tags will be given out this year. Hard, or permanent tags supplied directly to car dealers is "not the answer," according to DMV's Ms. Witt. Ms. Witt said she is encouraged by the Federation's interest in DC's alarming paper tag problem, and noted that remedial action by DMV is pending.

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Many are now familiar with the story of new OIA requirements in place in DCRA, Public Access to Records. Requirements that were conceived under the cloak of darkness, without public discussion and without highlighting the change to the Council during DCRA's testimony last year.

We understand that DCRA and the Building Code Advisory Committee are discussing several possible amendments to the Building Code. Ms. Ambrose, Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, is asking the DCRA to put the new FOIA requirements under review and find a way to resolve this matter other than by simply using the FOIA.

It has been, and continues to be, the position of the Federation that administrative problems require administrative solutions, not the misapplication of the Freedom of Information Act, that stifles ANC and citizen participation in the process of governance. While we expect to work with the Committee to revoke, repeal, and otherwise eliminate this onerous rule, it is becoming increasingly more important that we step up our vigilance in monitoring proposed legislation in our respective areas of interest.

When the public servant adopts the attitude that public concerns are not required nor desired, it is indeed time for change. It is time for us to demand accountability, to highlight these acts of public defiance, and to insist that government for and by the citizen remains first and foremost. While it is time consuming and taxing to track and to influence proposed legislation, it is much more desirable than the alternative of attempting to repeal or revoke a statute or simply watching our agencies cave in to special interests at the expense of our citizens.

We urgently need to raise the decibel level of our concerns. There should be no doubt among our elected officials where we stand — on citizen participation and on government for and by the people — not now, not ever.

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The River Terrace Community announces that it will hold a demonstration and rally on Saturday, April 24, at 11:00 a.m., at 3355 Benning Road, NE, to protest the proposed construction of a Shell Oil Co. hydrogen fueling station next to the community elementary school. River Terrace is a cul-de-sac community over fifty years old, comprising 1,000 individual houses and two apartment complexes, an elementary school, and a church.

The Newsletter has noted earlier the presence in the community of an electric power mega-plant and a trash transfer station. A River Terrace Coalition press release lists as its concerns permit application misrepresentation, the extreme flammability and explosiveness of hydrogen, and plans to locate the hydrogen refueling station near a large school.

Individuals or associations interested in this matter may call River Terrace Coalition spokesman George Gurley at 202-399-1722 (o).

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Robert Andrews
Foxhall Citizens Association

Allen E. Beach
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Francis M. Clarke, III
Cleveland Park Citizens Association

George Clark, Esq.
Forest Hills Citizens Association

Dino J. Drudi
Michigan Park Citizens Association

Kathryn A. Eckles
Residential Action Coalition

Elizabeth Elliott
Foggy Bottom Association

Carroll Green
Manor Park Citizens Association

Guy Gwynne
Burleith Citizens Association

James H. Jones
Crestwood Citizens Association

Ann Loikow, Esq.
Cleveland Park Citizens Association

Sally MacDonald
Woodley Park Citizens Association

Ann Renshaw
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Laura Richards, Esq.
Penn Branch Citizens/Civic Association

A.L. Wheeler, Esq.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants

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Legal Times (March 22, 2004) reports that, "If you want to become a local DC judge, you'd better do community service work, develop a local court practice and — please — pay your taxes." This was among advice and tips to 35 would-be judges at a March 19 forum on "Uncovering the Judicial Application Process" at a Judicial and Bar Conference. A member of the DC Judicial Nomination Commission noted that her panel looks for community service. "If you don't have any, do some, and then come forward," said another panelist.

Well and good, as far as these wholesome impulses go; but unfortunately in the District context aid to a minor charity or helping clean the Canal on Earth Day count about as much as legal advice to citizens associations or serving on association boards and task forces — much less prosecuting association lawsuits for community protection. The Federations needs to define in the media what its take is on what comprises real community service on the part of attorneys, aspiring judges, candidates for office, and other prospective District notables.

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An E-mail exchange among three Fredericksburg city councilmen did not amount to an electronic meeting under the state's Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in March. Three members of the Fredericksburg city council exchanged E-mails regarding a possible nomination to the local library board, varying in time of transmittal from four hours to two days apart. Opponents filed suit under FOIA, claiming that the correspondence amounted to an electronic meeting, prohibited at the local level. A trial court ruled for the plaintiffs, saying that the councilmen had used the exchange to conduct public business.

The Virginia Supreme Court reversed the lower court, however, because the E-mail was not a near-simultaneous discussion. Instead the correspondence was more like an exchange by letter, courier, or fax, because there was no "assemblage" of members, part of the statutory definition of "meeting." (Virginia Supreme Court, Beck v. Shelton, No. 030723, from the National Law Journal, March 15, 2004.)

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Five members of the House of Representatives have submitted or will introduce legislation to afford the District representation in Congress. The bills are:

  1. Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), to expand the House by two members; DC and probably Utah would each get a new house seat. 
  2. Rep. Dennis Kucinish (D-OH), to make the District the 51st state. 
  3. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), to create two Senate seats and at least one House seat until the next reapportionment. 
  4. Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), to return the District to Maryland. Congress would keep legislative control over the Capitol, federal monuments, the White House, the Supreme Court, and federal office buildings adjacent to the Mall. 
  5. Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), to treat DC residents as Maryland citizens for purposes of representation; provides for the election of Maryland senators and at least one DC-based House seat until the next reapportionment. Both DC and probably Utah gain a new House seat.

Meanwhile, DCVote reports that over 43,000 residents of the nation's capital cast ballots in the first-in-the-nation primary election on January 13. One can only wonder, and hope, as to where all this will go. (Data for points 1-5 from Roll Call, January 20, 2004.)

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The powerful Bar Association is turnings its face toward the community, in its recent revival of its Speakers Bureau. It notes that: "Upon request our lawyers are prepared to visit your association or place of employment. Our members are ready to conduct free seminars, conferences or lectures on almost any legal topic of your choice." Among topics cited as possibilities are: 1) advanced [sic] medical directives, 2) exempt organizations, 3) taxes, 4) civil rights, 5) wills, 6) your rights in a nursing home, 7) tenant problems, and 8) landlord law.

For more information or to schedule a speaker, associations may contact Paul D. Pearlstein, Co-Chair, 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, #505, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 223-5848 or Or Robert A. Cazzola, Co-Chair, Quinn Racusin & Cazzola, Chtd., 1400 V Street, NW, #1010, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 842-9300 or

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The major, countrywide law firm of Piper Rudnick LLP announces that it has an immediate opening for a pro bono administrative assistant. Responsibilities include providing administrative and clerical support to the firmwide pro bono partner and pro bono manager in the areas of database maintenance, event/meeting coordination, case management, and pro bono resources maintenance. The candidate must be proficient with PowerPoint and Excel, possess excellent organizational skills, ability to coordinate events, materials, and people, follow-through and initiative. The firm offers a competitive salary and an excellent benefits package, and is Metro accessible. Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter regarding salary requirements to: HR Manager, 1200 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. No calls.

Here is a major-player law firm seemingly on the right track with regard to civic-minded pro bono operations. What better candidates for the specialized position than qualified civic activists, in touch with the community and predisposed to assist law firms carry out a perceived give-back-to-the-community mission? As things are now, community associations and major law firms in the District are strangers to one another and, short of a jump-start by an able pro bono company officer, seem likely to remain that way.

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Federation Assembly Meeting Dates

April 27, 2004
May 19, 2003, Annual Awards Banquet
June 22, 2004
July No Meeting
August No Meeting

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