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Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2007
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

President's Message, George Clark
Classical Drive Time, Anne Renshaw
Four Feet to the Beat, Anne Renshaw
Mr. Federation, Guy Gwynne, Al Wheeler
Outsourcing: Too Close for Comfort, Dino Drudi
Comprehensive Plan Adopted, George Clark
Where Are We?, Sally MacDonald
Wherefore Art Thou, EMS?
Officers and Board
Federation Meeting with Mayor Elect Adrian Fenty and Neil Richardson, George Clark, Anne Renshaw, and Carroll Green
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates


Tuesday, January 23, 2007
6:30 p.m.

Jerome Paige, Deborah Royster, North Portal Civic Association
Discussion of Mayor Fenty's Plan to Take Over Schools
Other Business

1201 Seventeenth Street, NW
(At M Street)


As Al Wheeler reports in his article, Mr. Federation, Guy Gwynne, has moved to Georgia to be close to family while he deals with the savage illness that has attacked him. We miss Guy’s regular wisdom and counsel, but know that he has done the right thing.

At the January membership meeting we will hear from the neighborhood victors in the North Portal Estates battle, Jerome Paige, President of the Civic association, and Deb Royster, one of the most affected neighbors and a longtime friend and colleague of mine. It’s always nice to hear when the good guys win, so be sure not to miss this.

As our last issue reported, we met with Mayor Fenty in December and discussed a number of issues that are listed in this newsletter. Since then even more issues have arisen. We urge you to make sure that the Fenty Administration is aware of your concerns.

On January 24, several groups from across the city will meet with Harriet Tregoning, the new Director of the Office of Planning. We’ll report on that, and try to have her as a speaker before the summer break. Please let us know of your particular concerns.

Last, and hardly least, Mayor Fenty has announced his plans to take over the Public Schools. We urge you to review and examine them, and to sign up on January 31 to testify on February 7. A number of groups have questioned whether there should be a vote on the plan in April, before the Wards 4 and 7 Councilmembers are elected. Let us know what your view is on that.

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Anne M. Renshaw

Federation President George Clark sent a letter of protest to Bonneville Broadcasting Company bemoaning the transfer of DC’s classical radio station WGMS from its strong 103.5 FM signal to an inferior frequency that transforms Mozart into static. Adding salt to the wound, Bonneville Broadcasting reportedly may sell WGMS-FM to Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder to be used as a sports outlet. Classical music could disappear from Washington’s airwaves unless WETA-FM jettisons its talk format in favor of classical programming.

While these broadcasting officials sort out who does what and when, classical music lovers must suffer the current audio interference on WGMS. But not to worry. Here is action you can take to get a daily dose of clear sounding classical music. 1) get in your car, 2) start your motor, 3) turn the car radio to 104.1, WGMS’ weakened frequency, 4) drive around any neighborhood where WGMS’ radio signal is the strongest.

Send your gas receipts to Dan Snyder and/or Bonneville Broadcasting. They should reimburse us for being loyal and resourceful classical music fans. After all, we made WGMS the region’s #1 classical (drive time) music station.

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Anne M. Renshaw, photos by Ann Loikow

Meet Officers King and Charon, two of over 60 explosive, narcotic, patrol, and search and recovery dogs that comprise the Canine Corps within MPD’s Special Operations Division. Officer James Lugaila is King’s best buddy; Officer Grant Sullivan shares his cruiser, home and television with Charon.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, highly trained canine search teams were pressed into service to hunt for victims at both the New York City and Pentagon disaster sites. Graphic pictures of rescue dogs crawling through rubble, trying (more often than not in vain) to locate survivors and lying exhausted at the end of their tour of duty flooded the media. Search and recovery dogs became heroes; we took note of their importance, not only in fighting crime, but playing significant roles in combating acts of terrorism.

Four feet to the beat: Well before any mayoral directive, MPD’s four-footed officers and their handlers have been walking the beat. Formed in 1960, MPD’s Canine Corps once had 105 dogs, used primarily for patrol duty.

Nowadays, although reduced in number, MPD’s canines have an increasing number of complex specialties to master. Two dogs are assigned to major narcotics; the remaining canines are cross-trained as both patrol and explosives dogs. Four more, including King, have received special training that encompasses search and recovery duty.

King (an 85 lb., 7-year-old German Shepherd "celebrity" with his own business card) and Charon (an 85 lb., 4-year-old Belgian Malinois who loves to "talk"), appear just like pets. But they are actually half of highly trained technical teams being used by police and fire departments, security firms, and airport and transit authorities to patrol and protect public places, as well as check for contraband, explosives, and narcotics.

How King and Charon found their way to MPD: Since 2000, MPD has purchased dogs for its Canine Unit. Charon came from the Czech Republic but understands English. Although King was imported from the College Park German Shepherd Rescue League, obtaining canine police candidates from shelters and private donations became difficult, hence the reliance nowadays on purchased dogs with health "guarantees."

Only a tough few survive training: A canine candidate (usually a male German Shepherd, Labrador, or Belgian Malinois) is old enough for police work at 16 months. The canine’s arduous training lasts anywhere from four to fourteen weeks, depending on the specific discipline being taught. Not all dogs are trainable for police work due to the lack of stamina, courage, and/or stable temperament, as well as health problems specific to the breeds.

King and Charon have become two outstanding canine officers always ready to put four feet to the beat. They know that they are police dogs. King received a medal in 2001 for valor in the aftermath of the Pentagon disaster. Charon even tells Officer Sullivan that it is time to go to work. "An officer," commented canine handler Lugaila, "is a shadow of the dog. Dogs have saved our lives."

DC’s Canine Corps will be featured again as the Federation continues its focus on public safety. How are the dogs trained to detect twelve different bomb odors, DNA, and a range of drugs and/or accelerants? How do MPD’s canines acquire the ability to search for victims and assist in robbery and burglary investigations? How did King identify remains dating from 1850-1860? There’s more to the story. Stay tuned. [Below, Sullivan and Charon, left; Lugaila and King, right.]

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Mr. Federation, Guy Gwynne
Al Wheeler

You might inquire why I so admire and respect Guy. He is a bright, happy, pleasant, equitable, decent, thoughtful, cheerful, compassionate, considerate, and energetic person. Those of us who have been touched by his friendship are eyewitnesses to these qualities and indeed fortunate.

Guy was born and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas. His collegiate attainments included a BA degree from the University of Arkansas and a postgraduate degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. He entered the State Department at an early age, serving in numerous capacities in various countries including Vietnam, Nicaragua, Czechoslovakia, Bolivia, Mexico, Germany, and Brazil. Developing fluency in at least five foreign languages resulted in Guy’s advancement in rank in embassy hierarchy to become Consul at the embassies in which he served.

On retirement, he settled permanently in the Burleith neighborhood of the District where he became a longtime activist, fighting against causes which he believed were anti-residential. He frequently testified before Congress and the D.C. Council for the Burleith Citizens Association, of which he served as President. As a representative of his Association, he was subsequently elected President of our Federation and then reelected to serve two terms. For years, he single-handedly prepared this newsletter, which was often cited with superlatives. After his final term as President of the Federation, Guy continued to serve on the Executive Board and publish the Federation News.

Throughout his Washington tenure, local interests dominated his life. Guy served an unprecedented four terms as President of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club and Foundation. While president of Kiwanis, he spearheaded the drive to add parking spaces for beleaguered Georgetowners. This Kiwanis Initiative allowed residents to park in front of their own driveways and was successfully enacted into law by the D.C. Council. He also served as a director and member of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants, the oldest civic organization in the District, founded in 1865.

Last year, the D.C. Council in recognizing Guy’s contribution to Washington life enacted a citation honoring him. The citation named Guy an ambassador of good will for the Federation and chief recruiter and coordinator for neighborhood organizations across the city. May 27, 2006, was also named by the Council as "Guy Gwynne Day."

For more than ten years, Guy and I have been good friends and attended the regular meetings of the Federation Board and the Georgetown Kiwanis Club. After these meetings, Guy and I frequently retreated for coffee or dessert to some good and friendly restaurant. We often discussed the previous programs, the speaker, if any, and other interesting topics. Subjects discussed included the current war on terrorists, the possible decline of the larger cities, the current depressed economic conditions, the stock market, the electronic progress and the Internet in the heady age of the 20th Century. The world was our oyster.

Our latest hoorah — in mid-December — was one of our most enjoyable. Guy loves good food and believes it to be a balm; good restaurants a refuge. So, after an extensive review, we decided to try "100 King Street" restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria. We gave our orders to the waiter, and I said to Guy, "That’s a hefty order you just made. Are you sure you can handle that much food?" Guy replied "Oh yes. The doctor told me to eat ravenously and I intend to do so." He did. The food was great and the discourse lively.

Which brings me to the distressing fact that, in the last many months, Guy’s health began to decline, forcing Guy to choose to move to Atlanta so he could be with his family during the critical days ahead as he continues with his battle against cancer. After Guy’s annual Christmas sojourn to Arkansas, he returned to the District on December 26, 2006, to finalize the sale of his S Street home, leaving D.C. for Atlanta with Tyler Gwynne, his nephew, the next day.

Before Guy left for Atlanta, Mayor Anthony Williams added his appreciation for Guy’s civic contributions in a heartfelt letter. These commendations are lofty compliments for the Federation with which Guy was closely associated and for Guy.

As I close, we bid Guy an affectionate farewell and wish him the best for his new life. I know he would blush at the true comments I have made about him and his relations with friends in the Federation, the Kiwanis and the D.C. Government. Guy, in his inimitable way, would likely have said something to this effect, "I must tell my friend, Al, who has just written in such glowing terms that I sincerely appreciate his gracious perjury." Guy’s acumen, thoughtfulness, kindness and love of his fellow man will now ease his new life in Atlanta. We in the Federation and Kiwanis will miss him very much.

You can write to Guy at his new address: 5550 Wood Vale Court/Powder Springs, GA 30127 and/or phone him at (770) 919-7500.

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Outsourcing: Too Close for Comfort
Dino Drudi

American Federation of Government Employees Council #1 typically focusses on federal employee union issues, and Council #211 is for the DC government AFGE locals. I have been a delegate from my local to Council #1 since 1983 — a year after becoming a Federation delegate. The following memorandum was sent by Tom Murphy, president of AFGE Council #1, on January 17, 2007:

Pursuant to resolution passed at the January 10, 2007, Council 1 meeting, I am reporting to you that in the District of Columbia Government the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has been relying on private contractor, third-party inspectors (building, elevator, etc.). AFGE Council 1 believes that the DC City Council should authorize finds to hire and train the number of qualified inspectors needed to bring these inherently governmental functions completely in-house rather than outsourcing them.

There have been related articles in the press, and the subject has been discussed on television (Fox 5 did an expose on the subject) recently, and it was discussed at city councilman Jim Graham’s committee hearing on the DCRA this fall. Lorenzo Jacobs, a former DCRA official, we understand, runs one of these third-party inspection firms.

AFGE Council 1 considers building and related system inspections as inherently governmental functions, which for accountability purposes need to be done by qualified government employees. Failing to speak out and confront this safety issue increases the risk of the practice spreading, and thereby increasing the risk to citizens in the District of Columbia and elsewhere in our country. Moreover, if the District of Columbia Government can get away with contracting out inherently governmental functions, the Federal Government may try to do the same thing, relying on the District Government as an example or precedent.

At AFGE Council 1’s January 10, 2007, meeting, the Council called upon me to bring this important matter to your immediate attention and formally urge you to undertake appropriate direct follow up vis-à-vis the District government. We believe that the AFGE should demand that the new DC city administration restore the inherently governmental work to DC agency employees through appropriate administrative action, and budgetary and legislative enactments. Your immediate attention to this public health and safety and contracting out matter is hereby requested.

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Comprehensive Plan Adopted
George Clark

As you know, the Federation was very active on the Comprehensive Plan revision. The Plan was adopted on December 19, 2006, despite many pleas to hold it over until this new Council.

But don’t feel like we got nowhere. With tremendous efforts from many of our members and others like the Committee of 100 and the Civic Federation, we were successful in getting a number of significant amendments to the Plan which improved it dramatically. Councilmembers Catania, Mendelson, Ambrose, and Brown were particularly receptive to our efforts.

Some of more significant amendments were:

  1. Revisions to the Transit Oriented Development provisions that will give local communities a greater say in such projects;

  2. Citizen-oriented procedures for small area plans, which are critical in the next phase;

  3. Changes that require greater consideration of the impact of university and other institutional expansion in residential neighborhoods;

  4. A Mayoral commissioned study for a Planning Commission to be completed in 6 months rather than the watered down version that had been proposed by OP;

  5. Corridor plans along our main streets instead on planning by PUD only;

  6. Elimination of language to modify the Height Act;

  7. Language to control the expansion of embassy residences in neighborhoods;

  8. Only 1 of 41 developer proposed changes was adopted.

Could we have done better? Yes, but the Council wanted this passed in the last session (we lost that vote 7-5). Thanks for your efforts on getting changes made to the Plan.

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Where Are We?
Sally MacDonald, Woodley Park

That sounds like the most basic question, but it becomes complicated for DC residents when dealing with city bureaucracy. There are more than a dozen identifying categories that we must know to determine where we live. These are: ward, voting precinct, school district, tax area, lot/square numbers, neighborhood, cluster, advisory neighborhood commission (ANC), ANC single member district (ANC-SMD), police district, Police Service Area (PSA), zoning category, and historic district.

These affect: the value of our houses or property, where we send our children to school, our ability (or not) to rent out part of our property, the process by which we may renovate, where we vote, whom we contact for city responses, where we look for police help, and how we identify our property.

Costly and time-consuming difficulties arise when newcomers to the city are given incomplete, or incorrect information, sometimes by their real estate agents.

As a former ANC Commissioner, I can recount cases from the ANC-SMD that I represented where residents were told that they: 1) could rent out basement apartments (not possible in our R-3, single-family residence zone); 2) lived in a historic district and had to have renovations cleared by the ANC and DC Historic Preservation (not true in all areas); 3) lived in another ward (causing them to write to the wrong Council Member); or 4) lived in two school districts (not possible). Living in Ward 3, Police District 2, some confused the Ward and Police District numbers.

Woodley Park includes Wards 1 and 3, with Ward 1 children attending school in Ward 3, Ward 1 residents in a Ward 3 ANC, and a Ward 1 building listed in the Democratic Party’s Ward 3 voting precincts, with voting in Ward 1. Ward 1 residents can arrange for parking permits in both Wards 1 and 3. For city services, residents call Ward 1’s Councilmember and Ward 1 city administrators, with some departments assigning their Ward 3 staff to this area of Ward 1, others not. It takes some investigation to discover which!

The Office of Planning’s numbered clusters, combining adjoining neighborhoods in a supposed effort to clarify, added to the confusion, as the ANCs, neighborhoods, PSAs and clusters often had overlapping boundaries.

Inaccurate neighborhood maps, drawn without reference to official city maps, circulate causing sometimes costly confusion about neighborhood boundaries, with their different zoning and historic district regulations.

Real estate agents have been known to describe houses as being in a more "desirable" neighborhood — with Woodley Park once described as North Georgetown. A new resident, coming from overseas, was convinced he lived in Georgetown’s Ward 2, and wondered why Jack Evans would not reply to his letters!

By the time residents discover their ANC Commissioners, in order to ask for help, the problems have often become quite complicated, with rental and renovation problems sometimes costing literally thousands of dollars. Problems have arisen over sales of houses, even with prices of over a million dollars!

A simple solution could be one page, to be attached to each house sale contract, listing each of these categories on a separate line. The real estate agent could fill in the information for each line or category (as they already do with the lot/square numbers). What a great benefit it would be to their clients, saving the client’s time, money, effort, and potential problems!

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Establishing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as an independent "third service" is a primary emphasis of the Citizens Federation. Mayor Adrian Fenty made the separation of EMS from the DC Fire Department one of his central campaign issues. Surprisingly, any reference of an independent EMS was omitted from the Mayor’s 100-Day Agenda released on January 11. The Federation would like to know why.

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Patrick Allen, Esq.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants

Allen E. Beach, Treasurer
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Gale Black
Crestwood Citizens Association

George Clark, Esq., President
Forest Hills Citizens Association

Dino J. Drudi
Michigan Park Citizens Association

Kathryn A. Eckles
Residential Action Coalition

Elizabeth Elliott
Foggy Bottom Association

Carroll Green. Past President
Manor Park Citizens Association

Guy Gwynne
Burleith Citizens Association

James H. Jones, Second Vice President
Crestwood Citizens Association

Ann Loikow, Esq.
Cleveland Park Citizens Association

Sally MacDonald, Secretary
Woodley Park Citizens Association

Ann Renshaw, First Vice President
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Louis Wassel
16th Street Neighborhood Association

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

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Federation Meeting with Mayor Elect Adrian Fenty and Neil Richardson
George R. Clark, President
Anne Renshaw, First Vice President
Carroll Greene, Past President

On December 13, 2006, Federation representatives met with Mayor-Elect Fenty and one of his top aides, Neil Richardson to discuss the following issues:

  1. Citizens voted for change, not Tony Williams III. Make sure that neighborhoods are heard from and paid attention to, not just developers and single issue special interest groups.

  2. Give ordinary citizens an effective voice in boards and commissions appointments. We have a candidate in mind for Director that would show your change in direction.

  3. Fixing DCRA does not mean just issuing permits faster. If you get a developer behind closed doors, they’ll tell you DC is the easiest jurisdiction in the area to get something built. But ordinary citizens suffer the constant indignity of permits not being reviewed for compliance with the regulations and being unable to get an inspector to stop illegal construction, while the BZA lets anything get built. Pat Canavan and Bill Crews did not have the resources or time to get this fixed. You will score more points on this with citizens than on anything (except maybe schools).

  4. Use the time period before the March 1, 2007, effective date of the new Comp Plan to submit neighborhood and family friendly amendments. We are handing you some amendments.

  5. Establish a District of Columbia Planning Commission. The Committee of 100 has proposed legislation that will fit with the study ordered under the Comp Plan.

  6. Establish municipal parking garages. Suburban Maryland makes it work and there is no law against it.

  7. Protect our neighborhoods from being seen merely as development opportunities. Provide for neighborhood serving retail and work force housing; inclusionary zoning does not do this because of the high income eligibility which will preclude lower earning families from getting units

  8. Cautionary use of any transit oriented development overlay. The alliance between developers and the Washington Regional Network should tell you something about where residents’ interests lie.

  9. Establish Emergency Medical Services as an independent "third service" from the fire department with an effective Medical Director. No more David Rosenbaums and Cassandra Baileys.

  10. Prevent a wholesale sell off of public property which is now under used, such as closed school properties. If your other plans work, we’ll need some of this land for many municipal purposes.

  11. Provide effective policing with a neighborhood presence. Police on the street instead of behind desks. Arlington solved this, so can we.

  12. Traffic enforcement. Citizens are angry when they see violations in front of squad cars that ignore them and go to Starbucks instead.

  13. Prevent the uninhibited proliferation of universities into our neighborhoods. Make the universities live up to their commitments under campus plans.

  14. Passage of an effective Open Meetings Bill, such as B16-747 in the current session. Government should operate in the open.

  15. Renominate Betty Noël as People’s Counsel.

  16. Place restrictions on PUDs, which have for practical purposes replaced zoning for even small projects. After a new Comprehensive Plan is enacted, the DC Zoning Regulations will undergo their first complete rewrite since 1958; use this to cure the PUD abuse.

  17. Place restrictions on the use of eminent domain for private benefit. B16-912 does this.

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January 23, 2007
February 27, 2007
March 27, 2007
April 24, 2007
Awards Banquet, May 16, 2007
June 26, 2007

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