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Volume 11, Issue 5, April 2005
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax
Anniversary Annual Awards Banquet Coming May 27
Federation Pushes for Regs Update and Independent Counsel for Office of Zoning
About Our Speaker
Milking the Cash Cow Dry?
Just Play Ball
Officers and Board
New Council Committees
Upcoming Roundtable on Parking Meter Fees, Fines, Rates
WASA Replacing Lead Water Pipes
WMATA Getting Bomb-Resistant Receptacles
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates
FEDERATION ASSEMBLY MEETING
Tuesday, April 26
THE CHARLES SUMNER SCHOOL
95TH ANNIVERSARY ANNUAL AWARDS BANQUET
FEDERATION HONORS LIST OF WASHINGTON ACHIEVERS
ASSOCIATIONS SHOULD BEGIN BOOKING TABLES NOW
Ninety-fifth and nearing the big century mark! Friday, May 27, is the reserved date for the gala 2005 Federation Awards banquet. As in past years, the Fort McNair Officers Club will be the elegant venue. The able banquet committee of Delegates 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 past years.
Once a year the venerable Federation decides to take a break, have some fun, and show solidarity among the city’s many and far-flung neighborhood associations. Last year’s bustling affair was one of the best ever, and things just seem to keep getting better. Joining us this year will be 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 and mark calendars for the big 27th. The cost this year is a bargain $50 per person. Tables will be for eight persons. Associations are encouraged to collect from attending members in advance and thereby bypass the always-busy check-in table, as well as simplify the accounting process. Tables will, as usual, bear signs identifying the sponsoring association. (Last year two delegates stepped forward and sponsored one table each, and invited personal favorite guests; the system is elastic.) The cheerful result of the prominent signs is the appearance of a political nomination convention. As usual, individual delegates and guests may register with a banquet committee caller, and there is always a lot of individual placement at various cheerful tables. Single? Just come and take your pick.
Several associations occupied two tables each last year. These we-love-a-party sponsors were Crestwood, Burleith (with one table masquerading as "Federation II"), and Oldest Inhabitants. Sharing went on (or was it table hopping?) between associations with an affinity for fellow associations — notably Hillcrest and Palisades. 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 (including new groups), with a sign on its separate table. For information or just to chat or enthuse about the banquet, call Banquet Hotlines, 202-338-5164, 265-5961, and 201-3203.
FEDERATION PUSHES FOR REGS UPDATE AND INDEPENDENT COUNSEL FOR OFFICE OF ZONING
What’s a city to do? Zoning regulations get outdated and the Office of Zoning’s credibility is accordingly questioned by the public. The Federation presented testimony in early April on the District’s antique zoning regulations (last comprehensively revised in 1958), with a view to bringing a key element of city governance into sync with the 21st century. The Federation position inter alia is that, in addition to a normal update, funding be afforded for an independent consultant to accomplish the project. Council Chair Linda Cropp has noted that she is favorably disposed to such a budget item, but the dollar amount for the project is not yet decided.
Delegates with most experience with the DC zoning structure and operation point out that an inherent conflict of interest exists, in that under the Home Rule Act the Zoning Commission has two federally appointed members, and that the BZA his one federal member. Prudent thinking is that independent counsel for the Office of Zoning would strengthen the independence and credibility of the zoning operation.
A practical concern is, however, that independent counsel for one important city agency could spark a rush by other agencies to demand equal treatment, warranted or not.
Judy Scott Feldman is a guiding light of the Third Century Mall Initiative, a project of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, a 501(c)(3) citizens group. The Coalition’s 2002 State of the Mall Report, posted at http://www.savethemall.org, warned of threats to the physical and cultural integrity of the Mall arising from overbuilding, overly aggressive security measures, and other factors. The initiative seeks to avert these threats and to increase public understanding, use, and enjoyment of this unique public space.
In addition to protecting and enhancing the Mall as we know it today, the Initiative is encouraging public debate about the form and use of the Mall for the next hundred years, including expansion beyond its existing physical perimeters. While the Mall is a great national space, it also has a special intimate relationship with residents of the District of Columbia and the metropolitan area.
Judy Feldman has a Ph.D. In art history and was professor of Washington architectural history at American University before becoming a full-time Mall advocate. She works closely with Kent Cooper, best known as the architect of record for the Vietnam War Memorial.
DC drivers received more parking tickets than usual last year. The Washington Times reports that the District issued 1.6 million tickets in 2004 for a total of $99 million in fines, or about $399 for every household. The city has tripled the number of ticket writers since 1999, and ticketing revenues figure prominently in the mayor’s budget plans. (Somewhat tastelessly, the mayor jovially invited people at the 2004 Federation banquet to "use the downtown area more — get more tickets.") The Times editorializes, "As the mayor prepares his budget, we urge him and his minions to ease up — especially as the city enjoys a surplus of more than $230 million. Nearly $400 per household in parking fees and fines is too much. Indeed, when residents and commuters consider what they get in return, it’s highway robbery and a backdoor means toward a commuter tax."
The hard-won Nationals baseball team and its accompanying stadium have won attention from the very beginning, but now attention seems to be taking a new turn. A coalition of advocacy groups, teachers, and students protested outside RFK Stadium at the Nationals’ opening game on April 14, against neglect of the city’s schools while major resources are devoted to major league baseball. Meanwhile, DC Council member David Catania recently introduced a resolution asking that Nats team members wear patches on their uniforms protesting the voting rights plight of the District. Not to be outdone, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has proposed that a "large and visible" sign advocating DC voting rights be placed inside the stadium.
All these actions and the opinions on which they are based are legitimate and sincere, but is attaching them to the capital’s baseball operation the proper course? There are times when ordinary citizens simply want to relax and forget the troubles of everyday life by going out to a ball game. This is not too much to ask, and protesters would be wise to avoid the appearance of peskiness, which can backfire on the case or causes advocated.
The city council’s new committee assignments::
Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Public Works and Environment Committee, will hold a public oversight roundtable Wednesday;, June 8, at 2:00 p.m., in the council chamber at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, to receive comments on recommended changes in the District‘s policy in areas such as parking meter fees and fines, simplifying parking rates, the Residential Permit Parking program, visitor and contractor parking, parking enforcement, expanding the times and days for meter parking in commercial areas, parking exceptions, existing taxes for private lots, and potential incentives for parking lot owners to convert daily parking to short-term parking.
To register to testify, contact Jim Slattery at the committee office at 202-724-8105 by Monday, June 6. E-mail contacts to Mr. Slattery should include the full name, title, and affiliation, if applicable, of the person(s) testifying. Witnesses should bring 15 copies of their written testimony. Organization representatives will be allowed 5 minutes, and individuals 3 minutes, for oral presentation. Written statements should be sent to Phyllis Jones, Secretary of the Council, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 5, Washington, DC 20004, no later than 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 17, 2005.
A Water and Sewer Authority contractor has begun replacing lead water pipes in various neighborhoods. The following report from the Burleith community newsletter describes the actual operation and its immediate impact on a street involved:
"As a result of the discovery of lead levels exceeding EPA standards, WASA is replacing lead pipes with copper piping up to the property line in many parts of the city. Homeowners can elect to pay WASA to replace the lead pipe on their property. While the deadline for authorizing replacement on owner property has passed, one neighbor reported that WASA accepted a last-minute request.
"So far, the work seems to have proceeded without problem. The contractor digs deep holes in the street up to the water meter (generally under or adjacent to the sidewalk). If the homeowner elects to replace the pipe on his property, the contractor digs a hole in the front yard, bores a small hole in the exterior wall of the house, and pushes a new copper pipe into the house. The new copper piping is then connected via a new knife-style valve to the residential water system or near the original connection. . . . [T]he street and sidewalks seem to be in better condition after the work than before. The yards seem little the worse for the work; and, if you have a 50-plus-year-old, much painted or rusty master shutoff valve for the water supply in your home, you now have a new knife-style shutoff valve.
"Of course, the security of having a new shutoff valve and copper replacing the lead pipe from your property line to your house have costs. WASA charges about $200 per foot. For [our] street with our short front yards, WASA guaranteed that the cost would not exceed $2,000. . . ."
The March 18 Express reports that the WMATA Board voted to purchase between 250 and 300 bomb-resistant trash cans for subway boarding platforms for $800,000, including installation. WMATA hopes to begin installation this summer and be finished by year’s end.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, WMATA removed trash receptacles, leading to accumulating trash on the subway. The Federation wrote WMATA, urging it to respond to its security concerns with bomb-resistant trash receptacles rather than by removing bins. Although the Federation recommendation was not adopted in a timely fashion, events proved its prescience. WMATA couldn’t clean stations fast enough to take care of the excess trash that passengers would have routinely discarded in the receptacles, and the extra clearing expenses contributed to WMATA’s fiscal problems. The Federation is gratified at the WMATA Board’s vote. Better late than never.
April 26, 2005
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