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Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 10, Issue 9, June 2004
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

June Is Federation Election Month|
Corporation Counsel Title Change
94th Anniversary Banquet Is Boffo, As Expected
Bankruptcy in DC: Catching Up or Catching Outside Debtors?
Little Las Vegas, DC?
City Council Opposes Constitutional Amendment on Marriage
Officers and Board
Rain Barrel Distribution Program
Federation Training Session for Armenian Delegation
Corrosion Control of DC's Water Supply
Consumer Protection and Antitrust
Security from Terrorists on the Cheap
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates


Tuesday, June 22, 2004
7:00 p.m.

Ms. Ann Witt
Director, Department of Motor Vehicles

Mr. Bill Glew
President, Dupont Circle Community Association, "Update on ABC Issues"

Other Business

1201 Seventeenth Street, NW
(At M Street)


The Federation will hold its annual election of officers and Board members at the June 22 Assembly. Now is the time to nominate that favorite delegate for the Board of Directors, or to target that unfavored incumbent with a new nominee.

As always, there will be a basic slate of candidates offered. This is not an official slate, but rather a mechanism to ensure that there is a willing candidate for each office. Nominations will be called for from the floor at the June meeting. This year the incumbent officers and Board members have agreed to stand for election to another one-year term. While one officer, Laura Richards, is prevented from running again due to the press of business, the Board's addition of immediate past presidents as ex officio Board members rounds off the customary 15-person Board. Our immediate past president is, of course, Buck Clarke.

The list of officer and Executive Board candidates offered initially will comprise:

Carroll Green (Manor Park), President
Ann Loikow, Esq. (Cleveland Park), 1st VP
Anne Renshaw (Chevy Chase), 2nd VP
George Clark (Forest Hills), Secretary
Allen Beach (Chevy Chase), Treasurer

Board Member Candidates (10)

Patrick Allen, Esq. (Oldest Inhabitants)
Robert Andrew (Foxhall)
Francis M. Clarke, III (Cleveland Park)
Dino J. Drudi (Michigan Park)
Kay Eckles (Residential Action Coalition)
Elizabeth Elliott (Foggy Bottom)
Guy Gwynne (Burleith)
James H. Jones (Crestwood)
Sally MacDonald (Woodley Park)
A.L. Wheeler, Esq. (Oldest Inhabitants)

Due to the relatively uncontested nature of the election, there will be two reasonably-timed speakers at the assembly, dealing with the revived Department of Motor Vehicles and the controversial new alcoholic beverage regulations, both areas of interest to all associations.

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Corporation Counsel Title Change

The District no longer has a Corporation Counsel; it now has an Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Most states have Attorneys General, and seemingly the District could do no less. The functions of the office remain the same, including representing the city in most civil cases, and incumbent office head Robert Spagnoletti will remain in office with the new title.

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The Federation's May 19 annual awards banquet at the Ft. McNair Officers Club came off without a hitch and with considerable panache, to the obvious glee and enjoyment of the packed house. Hizzoner Mayor Anthony Williams arrived early and jump-started the program by a bit, but then couldn't resist staying on to shake hands and talk with the jolly crowd of voters and principal city activists who constituted the audience. Several attendees noted that the mayor had come a long way from his initial awkwardness among crowds, to the point where he is a real pro at political interfacing, relaxed and ready to be liked — and ever the welcome guest.

This year's honors list of awardees was short, well deserved and to the point. The DC Office of Zoning, attending en masse and led by OZ Director Jerrily Kress, accompanied by members of both the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Zoning Commission, received the award for Most Improved Public Service.

Federation awards are handsome show pieces, and none has been bestowed more sincerely than the one to the Office of Zoning, which is the coordinating support office for both the BZA and the Zoning Commission. Too many delegates can remember 12 to 15 years ago, when both agencies were regarded as virtual adversaries of the organized citizenry and widely perceived to be overly collaborative with land-use attorneys, who had a hand in writing agency decisions. Ms. Kress noted in her graceful acceptance remarks that one Office goal has been to "level the playing field." And they have done it under the new mayor. Therefore, "Most Improved Public Service."

Other public figures or entities honored were 1) Carol Mitten, the capable Chairman of the Zoning Commission. Here again, integrity and unflappability brought new credibility to the zoning apparatus. 2) Federation newsletter enabler and online publisher Gary Imhoff received a well-deserved award for Selfless Service to the Federation. 3) The feisty Georgetowner Newspaper received an award for Outstanding Community Service. The area-wide free publication keeps the community informed, and is an exemplar for other local newspapers.

Washington's irreverent Hexagon Club had three principals contributing germane words of political wisdom, to the laughter as well as improvement of everyone. Kudos to the banquet committee of Kay Eckles (Residential Action Coalition), Jim Jones (Crestwood) and Guy Gwynne (Burleith), and to the well-oiled Ft. McNair operation for a job well done.

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Bankruptcy in DC: Catching Up or Catching Outside Debtors?

Alan Eisler reports in the April 26 Legal Times that in April 2001, with little fanfare, the District joined the ranks of states that allow residents to shield the full value of their homes from creditors. Previously, the District had no separate "homestead exemption" for a principal residence. Rather, it permitted householders to exempt from creditors "one horse or mule, one cart, wagon, dray or harness . . . If used principally by the debtor in his trade or business."

More than simply changing an outdated bankruptcy law, Mr. Eisler observes, what the District has done is to craft a serious incentive for people in DC area suburbs to move back into the city. The District's unlimited homestead exemption has drawn little attention. This law may have made the District more of a "debtor's haven" than Florida or Texas, widely regarded as generous to debtors.

As the word spreads, the thinking goes, the District may attract new residents. In the past, it would have been difficult to contend that you were domiciled in Florida but commuted to work in the District or its suburbs. Now it is relatively easy for suburbanites to cross the District line to gain the same protection that previously required a move to the Sunbelt. "While Home Rule still remains an elusive goal for District residents, the amendments to the District's exemptions made it clear the 'the home does rule in DC!"

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Little Las Vegas, DC?

All the rage now, pro and con, is the proposition of placing a $500 million gambling and entertainment complex along New York Avenue, NE. Backers of the proposed project are seeking to have petitions issued to place the proposal on the November ballot. The spokesman for the group of unidentified backers and investors, and chairman of the committee advancing the proposal, is DC businessman Pedro Alfonso, CEO of Dynamic Concepts.

Reportedly, the investor group wants voter approval for an initiative that will give them a monopoly grant to build a gambling casino that will have 3,500 video lottery terminals (which they argue are not slot machines, but which are arguably not materially different from them), and which they say will be part of a 12-acre complex with a 600-800 room hotel, a "conference center," a bowling alley, a movie theater, and retail shops. Former councilman John Ray, attorney for the Initiative's proponents, claims that the proposed complex "will turn New York Avenue into the gateway it should be."

Under the proposal, 25 percent of profits from the video lottery terminals would go to the District. The gamble, of course, is whether the video gambling machines will be profitable. The Washington Times quotes Michael Pollock, publisher of the New Jersey-based Gaming Industry Observer, as noting that the 25-percent split with the city is low, compared with what other states and localities receive from video lottery terminal profits. At the June Federation executive board meeting parallels were drawn between a District with major gambling and Atlantic City.

Providing that the petitions are issued and the requisite signatures are garnered before July 6, District voters can vote on whether to risk Atlantic City-style problems, attracting organized crime interests to a major gambling center (albeit in the FBI's back yard), and inviting the obloquy of gambling-opposing religious institutions, or they can bet on sitting back and letting the gambling profits roll in for good works. Wanna bet?

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City Council Opposes Constitutional Amendment on Marriage

In mid-April, city council Resolution 15-514 declared "the sense of the Council in opposition to amending the Constitution of the United States for the purpose of defending marriage." Among interesting specifics of the resolution are:

"(1) On February 24, 2004, President Bush announced his support for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would attempt to define marriage as a union of a man and a woman … ;

"(4) The Government of the District of Columbia has a long-standing legacy of providing equal protection for all our residents, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, disability, source of income, place of residence or business.

"(5) The District of Columbia is one of a few communities that maintains a domestic partner registration program, allowing lesbian and gay couples to register as domestic partners....

"(6) The District of Columbia's domestic partnership law could be imperiled by a broad, discriminatory Constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"(7) Historically, states have exercised exclusive authority over the manner in which marriage is defined.

"Sec. 3. It is the sense of the Council that the authority to define marriage should be left to individual states, including the District of Columbia. The Council is opposed to amending the Constitution … to discriminate against gay and lesbian citizens by excluding them from equal marriage rights under all state and federal laws."

Interestingly, the normally liberal city council chose the States Rights path to make its case. The council omitted reference to the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

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Patrick Allen, Esq.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants

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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Rain Barrel Distribution Program

Rain barrels, cellar doors, porch swings. Are these pleasant memories of bygone times? Not by a long shot, if the Watershed Protection Division (WPD) of the District can help it. The WPD's mission is to conserve soil and water resources of the District and to protect its watersheds from nonpoint source water pollution. Reducing runoff into local streams and rivers through low impact development (LID) is one important way to prevent pollutants from entering local waters. The use of rain barrels to collect water from roofs for subsequent use for watering plants, washing, and other uses that do not require potable water is one such technique.

To promote the use of rain barrels among District residents, the WPD is looking for a grantee to expand its pilot Rain Barrel Program of 2003. The WPD will instruct the grantee as to the brand of rain barrel to be purchased for distribution and will provide outreach materials on hand. The grantee will be expected to expand the circle of residents that utilize rain barrels, to provide support efforts, and to hold a rain barrel workshop about use and benefits of the receptacles. At the end of the workshop the rain barrels will be distributed.

Rain barrels are bulky to store for a grantee/sponsor, and many modern rain spouts run to the ground. Apart from these considerations, this program could be a useful one for associations, especially in older neighborhoods.

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Federation Training Session for Armenian Delegation

The DC-based Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe requested the Federation to conduct a training session for a visiting delegation of ten Armenians in early June. Federation Training Chairman Jim Jones (Hillcrest), a recently retired US Agency for International Development training officer, conducted a two-hour overview of how voluntary community associations function. Delegates ranged from a city mayor to public relations specialists. All conversations and Mr. Jones' address were conducted with the aid of an interpreter into Russian, the principal international language in the former Armenian SSR.

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Corrosion Control of DC's Water Supply

On April 29, EPA Region 3 presented the findings of its Technical Expert Working Group, which had just completed testing of alternate water treatment options in lab-scale pilot systems at the Washington Aqueduct's Dalecarlia Treatment Plant. The TEWG is made up of experts from all the key agencies involved: USEPA, the US Corps of Engineers, WASA, and the DC Department of Health. Their recommendations were reviewed by experts in water treatment, with experience with systems of similar size in the US and other countries. The Technical Expert Group noted that the Aqueduct plan has gone as far as it can with dissolving lime in the water to change the pH, and they now also need an additive to control corrosion. The new treatment regime will use 7.7 pH.

The TEWG panel had recommended adding orthophosphate in liquid form, which could have been as simple as adding phosphoric acid, which is an ingredient in cola beverages. The expert reviewers made a minor change, to use zinc orthophosphate (ZOP); the zinc has additional properties that specifically help with lead dissolution. Note that zinc is a common supplement in multivitamin pills taken by people of all ages.

ZOP works by forming a film over the entire surface of a pipe, that can form in 6-9 months. However, when first applied, the ZOP can displace rust off the interior of water distribution mains that will turn water red. It also displaces naturally occurring bacteria that has been living in the wall scale. For both of these reasons, WASA has recently been doing shock chlorination of water mains in the area of the District that will first receive ZOP. This started June 1, with WASA monitoring it for 4-6 weeks, flushing mains if "red water" is spotted. If all goes as planned, the expert reviewers have recommended treating all of DC's water next, plus the two other jurisdictions that get their water from the Dalecarlia plant.

WASA also believes that their extra treatment load at Blue Plants, to remove phosphorus, can be handled by their existing capacity. WASA is already receiving orthophosphate from other Virginia and Maryland systems that send their waste water to Blue Plains, and is removing it to levels that are suitable for discharge into the Potomac River. (Article from The Foxhall News.)

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Consumer Protection and Antitrust

New material is just in from the Corp Counsel's -- uh -- Attorney General's Office: consumer alerts are on for a loan scam in 2004, suspicious credit card offers, and sweepstakes scams. Consumers be wary.

If you are interested in listing your home phone number(s) on the new federal do-not-call list, District of Columbia residents can register in the National Do-Not-Call Registry by calling 800-382-1222 or TTY 866-290-4236. The Consumer Protection Hotline number is 202-442-9828. The Federal Trade Commission's web site is

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Security from Terrorists on the Cheap

Leave it to National Review founder William Buckley to cite (NR, June 14) Ohio gubernatorial candidate Michael DiSalle on how to beat the odds on terrorism: "… DiSalle, something of a humorist, announced his program for shelters, which would cost the state a mere $5,000. He explained that he would construct two huge arrows, visible high in the air. One, pointing northwest in neon lights, would be labeled DETROIT. The second, pointing west, would be labeled CHICAGO. Why would bombers pause over Cleveland?" Hmm. New York is northeast of Washington; Metropolitan Atlanta is south. Mr. DiSalle may be on to something. A city councilmember is sure to think of this moneysaving solution.

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Federation Assembly Meeting Dates

June 22, 2004
July No Meeting
August No Meeting

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