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Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2005
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

DC Superior Court Reaches out to Community
Shaping Up or Getting Draconian?
Restoration of Governor Shepherd Statue Imminent
ANC Vacancies
Pennsylvania Avenue Closure Solidifies
Library System, Help Thyself?
Officers and Board
The President’s Corner
Baseball: Council Stitch in Time
Public Meeting: D.C. Police Training and Standards Board
Parking Tickets: Relief on the Web
Police Battery: Baltimore Pays $39 Million to Paralyzed Man
Judicial Tenure Commission Reviews D.C. Judges for Senior Status
New Definitional Wrinkle
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates


Tuesday, January 25, 2005
6:30 p.m.

Speaker: Chief Judge Rufus G. King, III
D.C. Superior Court

Other Business

1201 Seventeenth Street, NW

(at M Street)


The important D.C. Superior Court is the District's court of first instance. If you wish to sue someone, or are sued for some reason, this is where you go. Most delegates have a least observed sessions at the court in the course of community activism, and are aware of its importance to communities and the average citizen and neighborhood association.

The January 25 Federation assembly will be a welcome instance of direct court outreach to the community, a category that has been largely lacking in Washington civic affairs. Chief Judge Rufus King, III, is a direct descendant of original Constitution signer Rufus King of Massachusetts. Judge King comes with a killer biography: educated at Princeton and Georgetown Universities, he was appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1984. Prior to appointment to the court, Mr. King served as clerk to several judges, engaged in private practice, and chaired the Superior Court Arbitration Committee. Subsequently he served on the noteworthy Horsky Committee to Study the D.C. Court System and other defining committees.

Rounding off well-roundedness, Judge King has since appointment to the Superior Court served in all divisions, except Probate and Tax, including the Domestic I, Civil I, and Felony I calendars, and an extensive term in the Civil Division during its reorganization to an individual calendar system.

Trendily, while on the Superior Court Judge King has chaired committees on child support guidelines, domestic violence, cameras in court, and technology.

Altogether, this been-there, done-that work history spells superb preparation for judgeship, and affords an element of confidence in the local court system for the community. Having gone through the gamut of juridical preparation, Judge King's methodical career steps add luster to the Superior Court and all its workings. (It can't be easy governing a large group of associate judges, all accustomed to saying, "It is so ordered" and largely free from public oversight and criticism.)

Interestingly, Federation delegates who are attorneys give Judge King high marks for integrity, fairness on the bench, and being an all-around good lawyer. Does it get any better than all this? Everyone will want to participate in the Tuesday, January 25 interface with the community's own Chief Judge.

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Among the new roster of civil infractions and their respective fines, which came into effect on December 31, 2004, are the following somewhat surprising ones:

Littering (21 DCMR 700.4): 1st violation in 60 days, $75 or 8 hours service; 2nd violation, $150 or 16 hours; 3rd violation, $300 or 32 hours; 4th violation, $1,000 or 100 hours.

Posting notices on lampposts (24 DCMR 108.1): 1st violation, $150 or 8 hours service; 2nd violation, $300 or 16 hours; 3rd violation, $600 or 32 hours; 4th violation, $2,000 or 100 hours.

Signs on posters on trees in public space (24 DCMR 108.2): 1st violation, $150 or 8 hours service; 2nd violation, $300 or 16 hours; 3rd violation, $600 or 32 hours; 4th violation, $2,000 or 100 hours.

Failure to remove animal excrement from public space: 1st violation, $150 or 8 hours service; 2nd violation, $300 or 16 hours; 3rd violation, $600 or 32 hours; 4th violation, $2,000 or 100 hours.

As the city becomes increasingly onerous to live in, with high taxes, parking fines, fines for infractions such as the above, and traffic camera fines, it is not hard to envision a future time and campaign to attract new residents to the dwindling city when a general cut in penalties will be necessary. Fines such as the harsh ones for fourth violations above hasten the day.

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Federation member Association of Oldest Inhabitants (established 1866) has had as one of its front-burner goals for several years the return of a high-quality monumental statue of Gov. Alexander Robey Shepherd to its former location on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Wilson Building.

After standing 70 years in front of City Hall, the larger-than-life statue on a handsome pedestal was moved to a dump-like lot next to the Blue Plains Waste Water Treatment plant in Southwest in 1979, in the course of construction of Freedom Plaza in front of the Wilson Building. In response to years-long quiet advocacy by the AOI, the statue is expected to be transferred by the city's Department of Transportation, sometime around Inauguration Day. The Northwest Current newspaper notes the pithy observation of AOI historian Nelson Rimensnyder, "We (Washingtonians) have so little presence in federal Washington.... And this statue is the only one of a native Washingtonian."

For readers unfamiliar with the historical Governor ("Boss") Shepherd, Federation member neighborhood Shepherd Park is named for the 19th century Grant appointee and builder of Washington in its modern form. Subsequent charges of breaking the city's treasury and corruption have not dimmed his place in city history.

Part of the delay in moving the statue to its place downtown has been the lack of a subsoil map of the area, for foundation purposes, which was supposed to have existed but was lost in the course of center-city shuffling over the decades.

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The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics advises that the following sixteen ANC vacancies are available: 1A11, 1D06, 3B04, 3D03, 3D07, 4D05, 5B05, 5C11, 6B11, 8A05, 8B03, 8B05, 8C05, 8C06, 8E01, 8E06.

The District's unique Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner offices enable community activists to play a direct, meaningful role in community preservation and welfare, and the commissions dispose of substantial allocations of money for good works. Federation delegates or alternates in any of the ANC areas listed above may register to run for office with little difficulty. First a nominating petition is required. This may be picked up at no cost at the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, 441 4th Street, NW, Room 250N. For more information, call 727-2525.

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If you thought the inconvenient, traffic disrupting closure of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House would be of short duration, think again. The new National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) Quarterly exults in its cover story that an apparently long-range pedestrians-only makeover of the Nation's Avenue now in place was inaugurated with fanfare in November. NCPC Chairman John V. Cogbill, III, observes, "The success of this effort resonates far beyond this avenue and marks a turning point in the nation's capital. It reaffirms that public spaces can be both secure and welcoming." Welcoming, and even secure, are definitely in the eye of the beholder.

Months ago the Federation took up the call of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants for a reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicular traffic after its arbitrary closing during the Clinton administration. Both the Federation and AOI testified before a Congressional subcommittee in opposition to long-term interruption of the capital's axial thoroughfare. Both organizations have lobbied subsequently, and the AOI has witnessed in parades for reopening. To date, to no avail. Now we are being invited to like the new arrangement — for, apparently, an extended while.

To wit: per the NCPC Quarterly: "A dignified new civic space featuring pedestrian-friendly amenities [read: "benches"] and site furnishings now graces [sic] the famous stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House." Most District drivers would prefer directness and convenience and less grace and dignity in any final or semifinal arrangement in the District's inner-city traffic matrix, especially when creeping in clogged traffic on H Street around Lafayette Park. They may well echo President Reagan in crying, "Mr. Bush, tear down this blockade of the Nation's Avenue!"

Program Note: An inside rumor is that (1) Mrs. Bush, Senior, is in favor of the closing move and that (2) that makes a difference. Mrs. Laura Bush led the November inauguration activity.

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Or just help yourself to a perceived big pool of money? It is generally recognized that D.C. Libraries are standing in need of prayer — and money. One frequently cited reason against a whopping city expenditure on a baseball stadium was the needy library system.

The Washington Times reports that, "The cash-strapped D.C. Public Library system is considering hiring a private collection agency to recover late fees and overdue resources that can cost the library hundreds of thousands of dollars each year." The District system has 27 branches, and major money is involved.

Reportedly, the Montgomery County public library collected $242,000 in late fees in fiscal 2004, and Fairfax County library $1.5 million for three years running. The collection agency used by the counties is the Unique Management Services, Inc., firm, which specializes in collection service for libraries. This involved sending notices to delinquent library users, requesting late fees and quick return of borrowed books, DVDs, and videotapes. (Libraries have come a long way.) The Times notes that, "Libraries across the country have used collection agencies as their budgets have shrunk, according to the American Library Association, based in Chicago."

The D.C. Public Library system has lost millions of dollars in budget cuts in recent years, and has operated at reduced hours and fewer personnel. City council support for improving the city's libraries reportedly is strong, although one councilman duly noted that, "our library is in a pitiful financial situation."

For interested individuals and associations, libraries are able to receive both cash and in-kind (books) donations. A number of associations donate books and supplies to local school libraries. Similar assistance to our public libraries could be useful, and good for intra-community relations.

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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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Carroll Green

Over the past several months I have received a number of inquiries as to why the Federation does not schedule luncheon meetings more frequently. The general observation is that the luncheon meetings are becoming increasing popular since they do not conflict with the many neighborhood meetings across the city, and they afford a rare opportunity for activists to come together in a relaxed environment.

It is fitting and noteworthy that our luncheon meeting are held in the well-appointed Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired Club, located at 18th and F Streets, NW.

At our Annual Holiday Luncheon Meeting last month, our distinguished guests included Romaine Thomas, president of the AARP DC Executive Council and a member of the Federation of Civic Associations, Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff of DC Watch, and Maxine Nightingale from the Capitol View Civic Association. Several city officials, including Councilman Fenty, attended the sherry meet and greet segment preceding the luncheon. Participatory governance became the mantra for this year-end meeting.

Romaine Thomas reported on the comprehensive AARP study on nursing home care in the city and the Council resolution resulting from the study; that the percentage of grandparents raising children in DC is the highest in our nation; and the AARP initiative to oppose the Bush administration's position on Social Security reform.

Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff gave us an overview of the incoming Council and the realignment of committee assignments; the need to require the Council to inform the public of bills and amendments under consideration; and reminded us that the battle of the slots initiative is not yet over.

Maxine Nightingale emphasized the need to address the issues involving many of our young people in the city. Her Capitol View community, the eastern gateway to the city, includes neighborhoods in the northeast and southeast quadrants of the city along the East Capitol Street corridor. New housing developments are underway, with many acres of land cleared to provide for more development.

We purportedly have the highest expenditure per pupil in our school system of any jurisdiction, yet we have massive deterioration in many of our school buildings. We have the highest rate of automobile thefts in the metropolitan region, a very high homicide rate among teens and young adults, a high accident rate among teens and young adult drivers, and yet in the midst of all this mayhem, the city continues to permit the sale of single containers of beer and malt liquor.

The mayor, the council, and the Board of Education have failed to work together and with the citizenry, to effectively address and resolve these quality of life issues that affect all residents. The mayor obviously doesn't have all the answers, and neither does the council or the Board. Sadly, neither of these entities can justify or explain why many of our school buildings are on the verge of condemnation.

A simple answer would be that this is the result of the insidiously cancerous role of money in our political arena, and the unabashed catering of elected officials to special interests at the expense of the public, such as special signs/billboards that blot the cityscape and the sales of single containers of beer and malt liquor.

A more complex proposition is that we, the electorate, have not done a very good job of selecting whom we put in office or retiring those who are not responsive to our needs. We need to keep score not only on how our elected officials play the game but on the decisions they make. After all, as citizens of the District of Columbia, we have a share in the responsibility of effective municipal governance well beyond the ballot box.

Our New Year's message to our elected officials is that participatory governance is our right, our desire, and our expectation.

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On December 31, 2004, the city council passed Resolution 15-856, "To declare the existence of an emergency with respect to the need to approve a contract for the completion of renovations and improvements to RFK Stadium prior to the opening day of the 2005 Major league Baseball season."

"RESOLVED, That this resolution may be cited as the 'Contract No. CA15-328, Proposed Design/Build Contract of the JFK Memorial Stadium Renovation MLB Projects Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2005.'

"Sec. 2. (a) On December 3, 2004, a contract (CA15-328 for the renovation of work to RFK Memorial Stadium ("Stadium") was sent to the Council for a 10-day approval. The 10-day approval process did not commence until December 13, 2004, which postponed the deemed approval date until December 28, 2004.

"(b) The renovations and improvement to the Stadium are necessary to allow the Washington Nationals to play at the Stadium for a charity exhibition game on April 3 and regular season games beginning on April 14, and to permit DC United to resume its soccer home matches in early April.

"(c) In order for the renovations and improvements to the Stadium to be completed in time for these events, the contract for the project must be approved immediately.

"Sec. 3. The Council finds that the circumstances enumerated in Section 2 constitute emergency circumstances making it necessary that the Contract CA15-328 … be adopted on an emergency basis.

"Sec. 4. This resolution shall take effect immediately."

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The D.C. Police Training board will hold an open meeting on Monday, February 7, 2005. The meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m., and end no later than 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at 441 4th Street, N.W., Room 1117. Attendees must present picture identification to enter the building.

Copies of the materials to be voted on by the board at the meeting may be obtained in advance between 9:00 a.m., Monday, January 2, and Wednesday, February 2, 2005. Typed written comments on the materials may be submitted to the board in advance of the meeting up until 4:00 p.m., Monday, January 31. Comments received via e-mail or postmarked after January 31 will not be accepted.

Anyone interested in the work of the District of Columbia Police Training and Standards Board may attend the meeting. Citizens may make oral comments during a 30-minute comment period at the end of the meeting. Comments must be limited to three minutes. Anyone interest in making oral comments must sign up in advance. Slots will be allotted on a "first come-first served" basis.

Anyone interested in obtaining written materials or participating in the open comments portion of the meeting may contact Lt. G. Caldwell at 202-727-1516 or

Written comments may be mailed to D.C. Police Training and Standards Board, 300 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Room 5031, Washington, D.C. 20001, Attn: Lt. G. Caldwell; or may be e-mailed to

This is a good example of police outreach to the citizenry, provided that participation is given proper weight. The police force, made up of normal human beings, will always have a few rotten apples. Citizen input to the strategic session on police training curricula is one way to influence the caliber of police officers as, or before, they are assigned to duty interfacing with the public.

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District residents and visitors are no strangers to zealously-dealt-out parking tickets, issued by a seeming army of meter-persons. Stuck? Help is available. USA Today notes that ticket recipients can "take it to The site — which now works for tickets written by New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco … employs former parking violations bureau judges and police who played on offense long enough to know the perfect defense.

"These fine fighters are so confident they can get your ticket reduced or dismissed that if you wind up paying the fine in full you won't be charged a dime for their services. If you do win, you simply pay half of the cash you saved. (If a $100 ticket is dismissed, you pay the site $50.)

"Register via the 'Start Now' link in the upper right-hand corner, then click the 'Fight My Ticket' tab at the top of the screen. The site walks you through providing information from your ticket and vehicle, then prepared and e-mails you a customized Dismissal Request letter. The e-mail instructs you on how to mail this letter to the city, and the city will write back — no more hassling with court appearances!"

Article from USA Today, January 14-16, carried by The Washington Times.

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A jury awarded a Baltimore man $39 million in 2004, after his neck was broken during a 1997 arrest. The victim, J.A. Alston, is under intensive care as a quadriplegic in a nursing home. In a lawsuit, Mr. Alston alleged that after being taken into custody for speeding, he was handcuffed, put in leg irons, strip searched, put in a headlock/choke hold, and then thrown headlong into the back of a police van. Police claimed that Alston repeatedly rammed his head into a plastic window in the van. (Basic report from the National Law Journal, December 6, 2004.

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The JTC has notified the public and members of the D.C. Bar that it is reviewing the qualifications of Senior Judges John R. Hess and Stephen G. Milliken of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, who have requested recommendations for reappointment as Senior Judges.

"The D.C. Retired Judge Service Act P.L. 98-598, 98 Stat. 3142, as amended, provides in part as follows:

"… A retired judge willing to perform judicial duties may request a recommendation as a senior judge from the Commission. Such judge shall submit to the Commission such information as the Commission considers necessary to a recommendation under this subsection.

"(2) The Commission shall submit a written report of its recommendation to the appropriate chief judge requesting appointment.

"(3) The appropriate chief judge shall notify the commission and the judge requesting appointment of his/her decision regarding the appointment...."

"The Commission hereby requests members of the bar, litigants, former jurors, interested organizations and members of the public to submit any information bearing on the qualifications of Judges Hess and Milliken which it is believed will aid the Commission. The cooperation of the community in an early stage will greatly aid the Commission.... The identity of any person submitting materials will be kept confidential unless expressly authorized by the person submitting the information."

District of Columbia judges are appointive, with little or no input from the electorate (who may, however, comment at confirmation hearings). Comment and observation opportunities, such as those advertised in the above public notice, are among the few occasions when the average on-the-receiving-end citizen can meaningfully assess the performance of judges. Associations or delegates with experience with Judges Hess and Milliken may wish to record impressions, assessments, or other comments in writing to the Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.

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Everyone knows the District carries a heavy load of tax-exempt entities on its financial back, including the federal government, universities and assorted institutions. Perhaps germane to the D.C. situation is an interesting case being argued in Annapolis. The state of Maryland has imposed a levy to upgrade sewage-treatment plants statewide, according to the Washington Times, January 16. The Navy, which has many tax-exempt facilities in Maryland, is balking at paying what its lawyers perceive as a tax. The state says the surcharge involved (on what is unclear) is a user fee and not a tax. Interesting definition, and overt. The District has its money-raising traffic cameras, which catch many out-of-towners and has been wryly called a commuter tax. Maybe it should think of more user fees for tax-exempt entities' use of, say, fire fighting services, police, ambulance, street, and tree services, for starters. At the navy's request, the Maryland Department of the Environment is readying a clarification of whether the surcharge for the Bay Restoration Fund is a fee or a tax. The District city council and mayor's office would be well to request a copy of the definition for possible use.

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January 25, 2005
February 2005 (quarterly luncheon
March 22, 2005
April 26, 2005
May 2005 (annual awards banquet)
June 28, 2005 (election meeting)

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