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Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 13, Issue 5, May-June 2007
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

President's Message, George Clark
Officers and Board
EMS: Center Stage at the Awards Dinner, Anne Renshaw
When "Wait" Should Trump "Go"
97th Annual Awards Ceremony: A Community Event Worth Attending
Zoning Commission to Hold Roundtables on Regulation Rewrite
Lights On
Power to the People
$10,000 School Fix-Up "Donation"
June 26 -- Annual Meeting and Elections


Tuesday, June 26, 2007
6:45 p.m.

City Council Chairman Vincent Gray

1201 Seventeenth Street, NW
(At M Street)


Those of you who attended the Federation's 97th Annual Awards Banquet last month were treated to a very special evening. All of our awardees were special persons and groups well deserving of the honor. The evening is described elsewhere in this newsletter, but if you were there you recall the special feeling that was created by having so many civic activists together. It is always an evening that energizes us for the battles in the year to come.

I want to give a special thanks to our banquet committee that labored so long and hard for this year's event. Carroll Green, Anne Renshaw, and Kay Eckles worked did an outstanding job to put this event together. And once again we "discovered" just how much work Guy Gwynne had done on still another project. So we are making an early call to ask for help on next year's event, because more hands and heads are needed to put it together. The work is very collegial, and we'd love to have you help.

We are pleased to add two new members: the Deanwood Citizens Association-which has undergone a revitalization in the last year-and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. We are sure that both of these organizations will add to the Federation's influence in city affairs.

The annual election of officers and executive board members will take place at our June 26 assembly meeting. Please make sure that you attend and cast your ballots. It appears that I will be nominated for a third-and final term as President. With that exception, I think that we will have an outstanding list of candidates.

Finally, I want to congratulate and thank all you for all of the work that you do on behalf of your associations, the Federation, and the City. Although sometimes we wonder whether our efforts produce any results, upon reflection we see that those efforts really do make a difference. And we know that we don't really have a summer recess. Keep up the good work!

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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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Anne Renshaw

Toby Halliday delivered the major address at the 2007 Awards Banquet on the progress of the Rosenbaum Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Task Force which the Federation is closely monitoring. Mr. Halliday is the son-in-law of New York Times editor, David E. Rosenbaum, who died in January 2006 in large part from poor treatment and inattention by the city's EMS responders. The Rosenbaum Family sued the city for $20 million for the wrongful death of David Rosenbaum, and then set aside the lawsuit in favor of a high-level task force that would recommend changes to the city's pre-hospital, emergency medical delivery system.

Mr. Halliday asked: "So where are we now, 16 months later?" He went on to state: "The citizens of Washington should not be expected to tolerate an emergency medical service that can't provide emergency medicine any more than they would tolerate a fire department unable to put out a fire." He touched on the misuse of 911 for medical calls which, in 2006, accounted for 10% or 8400 calls that went to just 20 addresses. Mr. Halliday pointed out that 20 individuals were responsible for 2,550 transports.

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The Citizens Federation testified on May 31 before the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary regarding Bill 17-170, "Emergency Medical Services Improvement Act of 2007." (Do I have your attention?)

This short bill proposed by Councilmember Phil Mendelson would "establish as a statutory position" the medical director of the Fire and EMS Department. The medical director would be appointed (and removed, if necessary) by the Mayor, hold the rank of assistant fire chief and report to the Fire Chief. According to CM Mendelson, the proposed legislation would "strengthen EMS and the role of the medical director."

Bill 17-170 also authorizes the medical director to "order hospital emergency rooms within the District of Columbia not to close to Department transports (ambulances) and to require hospitals and medical providers to accept the transfer of care of a patient or patients within a specified period of time" (a wait which currently averages 41 minutes and often much longer).

"There is a legacy of dysfunction in this (Fire & EMS) department and the citizens of DC deserve better," concluded Mr. Halliday. "Our guests, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government -- along with the millions of visitors to our city every year-should join us in ensuring that we get it."

The District of Columbia Hospital Association, DC Primary Care Association and Medical Society of the District of Columbia suggested major and minor changes and improvements to the bill. The Citizens Federation urged CM Mendelson to hold up on the legislation until the Rosenbaum Task Force releases its findings in September relative to restructuring the city's emergency medical services.

According to CM Mendelson, the Mayor and Fire Chief Dennis Rubin asked him to "wait (on Bill 17-170) until the Rosenbaum Task Force makes its recommendations." CM Mendelson did not say whether he would put an official hold on the legislation. Instead, CM Mendelson touted Bill 17-170 at the June 18 Rosenbaum Task Force meeting as if the legislation were moving forward. We hope not.

Mr. Halliday reaffirmed what the Federation has noted in past articles and testimony that EMS has been broken for decades; that there is a "lower priority for EMS" within the DC Fire Department; and that a "major issue" is the "culture clash" between firefighters and civilian EMS personnel. Yet three-quarters of all emergency calls are medical in nature, in DC and nationwide. "Ours has evolved to an emergency medical system that also fights fires," said Mr. Halliday.

"(Fire) Chief (Dennis) Rubin and the Mayor are trying to restore accountability to FEMS," remarked Mr. Halliday. He cited six "major challenges" for the city: 1) manage urgent/non-urgent demand; 2) elevate the EMS mission; 3) reduce drop times at hospital emergency rooms; 4) overhaul training and certification functions; 5) focus on patient care and medical practice; and 6) ensure accountability.

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On May 16th, Citizens Federation President, George R. Clark welcomed Mayor Adrian M. Fenty; guest speaker and Rosenbaum EMS task force member, Toby Halliday; Councilmembers Phil Mendelson, David Catania and Mary Cheh; the 2007 Federation Award Honorees and over 120 civic leaders to the Federation's 97th Anniversary Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony held at the Fort Lesley J. McNair Officers' Club.

It was an uplifting, humorous, yet sobering event as the Federation remembered distinguished members Barbara M. Simons and Guy Gwynne, both of whom died this year on Valentine's Day.

Mayor Fenty, after expressing gratitude to the Federation for its unwavering attention to citizen needs, greeted community leaders and guests with his signature warmth and upbeat spirit. He praised the 2007 Award Honorees, as well as acknowledging the Councilmembers present. The Mayor stopped at every table to shake hands and personally speak to the attendees.

At the conclusion of Toby Halliday's major address on the state of the city's emergency medical service (see separate article), the following 2007 Federation Award Honors were presented to Barbara M. Simons, Esq., Guy Gwynne Lifetime Achievement Award, (awarded posthumously); Civic League of North Portal Estates, Exemplary Civic Activism; The Office of the People's Counsel for The District of Columbia, Sustained Public Service; Matthew Cella, Assistant Metropolitan Editor, The Washington Times, 4th Estate Award; Anne R. Sellin, Sustained Civic Activism; and Dorothy Brizill, Extraordinary Public Service.

The Federation's annual banquet marks a time for the District's citizen associations to be thanked for continuing service to their communities. "Our 50 member organizations provide stability and direction to the city's neighborhoods. We recognize and salute their contributions to our quality of life," stated Federation President Clark.

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Zoning Commission to Hold Roundtables on Regulation Rewrite

The Zoning Commission has announced that it will hold two roundtables to hear public comments about rewriting the existing zoning regulations. By the time you receive this newsletter, the June 21 roundtable will have concluded. However, on Thursday July 12, 2007 there will be a second opportunity to present your views on this important issue. The roundtable will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Room 220-S at 4414th St NW. You can sign up (five minutes per organization and three minutes per individual) by calling Donna Hanousek at 727-0789.

The DC zoning regulations were last thoroughly rewritten in 1958, and the Federation has lobbied the Council for several years to fund this rewrite project. We know that many of our member associations, ANC's, and individuals want to talk about specific sections that are ineffective, inequitable, or in need of special study. The Roundtable will not focus on any specific projects.

We all have our favorite matters that need to be addressed. Among others, the Federation will discuss the following issues: the lack of a "clean hands" rule; campus plans; party status; minimum lot size; "pipe stem lots;" roof structures; tear downs and McMansions, and what qualifies for grandfathered status; PUD standards; commitments to preserving row house neighborhoods; diplomatic residences in the R zones; green roofs; the penthouse allowance; basement/cellar; measuring point for building height; compounding of special exceptions; the right to oppose set down; fences on top of walls; separating preliminary matters from the case in chief; appearance as a "neutral party;" tree preservation; the unreasonableness of the 60-day clock for appeals; the establishment of a so-called R-0 zone and other down-zoning in neighborhoods that are not built out to the maximum.

Although the Federation and others will be testifying, it is important that neighborhood groups bring issues to the attention of the Zoning Commission -you can be sure that the developers will. And we would appreciate support on any of the issues that the Federation will raise.

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Listen up! The Federation's on-going campaign to equip DC firehouses located on major thoroughfares with station-activated traffic signals can report some progress.

Let's recap. When last we wrote about the abysmal lack of station-controlled traffic lights to assure safe exit from, and reentry to, the firehouses, (Federation News, 11/06), only one fire station (Engine 19, Pennsylvania Avenue/28th Street, SE) could control a traffic signal from the firehouse. Soon, three additional firehouses will have station-activated traffic signals: Engine 20 (upper Wisconsin Avenue, NW at Tenley Circle), Engine 17 (1227 Monroe Street, NE) and Engine 23 (2119 G Street, NW).

Of 33 firehouses in the District, 4 will now be able to control traffic signals directly outside the stations. That leaves 29 firehouses, the majority located on busy DC streets and corridors, without this safety feature. The Federation is especially concerned about Engine 25, 3203 Martin Luther King Avenue, SE where a firefighter was permanently disabled by a speeding vehicle over a decade ago. The Federation has written to Emeka Moneme, Director of the DC Department of Transportation and Fire Chief Dennis Rubin to urge the underground infrastructure for a station-activated traffic signal be installed now while E25 is being renovated. DDOT's director has not responded about E25, nor shared with the Federation the requested traffic signal schedule for the remaining firehouses on major roadways.

"Lights on" for four fire stations are small, but important steps toward safeguarding the District's firefighters and emergency medical personnel. We're not there yet, but we're on our way. Hear that, DDOT?

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(Excerpts from a May 31, 2007 Press Release)


People's Counsel for the District of Columbia, Elizabeth Noel, called for a $32.5 Million rate reduction in PEPCO's rates by stating that "PEPCO has shown the people of the District of Columbia absolutely nothing to prove that it has earned the right to a $50.5 Million dollar rate increase. In fact, a thorough review of PEPCO's rate proposal shows that $32.5 Million rate reduction is what is deserved. The consumers of the District of Columbia and PEPCO are $81.5 million apart "said Attorney Noel. That is the message we are sending. Now, it is time for the Public Service Commission to do its part to deliver the message to PEPCO that neither divestiture nor deregulation have provided any benefits for D.C. consumers. In filing this case, the People's Counsel declares that PEPCO's party is over!"

The People's Counsel used this case to remind the PSC and consumers that D. C. ratepayers are not in this sorry predicament by choice. Rather, in 1999, PEPCO panicked at the then threat of "retail competition," sold its generators and in so doing, forced the District's energy supply into the wild world of the energy wholesale market. Subsequent events have shown that PEPCO's actions were premature, and D.C. consumers have been paying the price ever since.

"For District energy consumers, consumer choice and retail competition have proved to be empty promises" continued Ms. Noel. "Since deregulation and the sale of PEPCO's power plants, the Company has steadily taken steps to protect its shareholders. As the standard offer service (SOS) provider PEPCO is well compensated for doing virtually nothing but passing through the full cost of electric supply to consumers. There is no reason beyond unmitigated greed why the company would seek to increase residential customer re-connection fees from $35 to $100, or to create a new employee benefits surcharge for ratepayers, or to increase the minimum distribution service charge paid by all customers from .47 cents to $4.11, a whopping increase of 774%."

In its case, the People's Counsel estimates PEPCO's proposed rate hikes will increase residential customer bills nearly 15%, which combined with the recent increase in generation service rates, consumers will see a total bill increase of 34%. The People's Counsel request for a $ 32.5 Million rate reduction can be summarized in a quote from a 21st century philosopher, "PEPCO ... to the Left!"

Further information, contact: Phil Harmon - (202) 727-3071

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As reported in the Washington Business Journal (6/15/07), Mayor Adrian Fenty asked developers for "a minimum of $10,000 or make equivalent in-kind labor donations for painting, window replacements and other minor repairs" to rehab the city's schools. According to the WBJ article, schools were assigned to developers attending the June 11 meeting with the Mayor. As to how much was collected, the names of the participating developers and which schools will benefit from this private-sector largesse, stay tuned.

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Blog This!

The Federation has finally joined the chattering classes on the internet. For the wired amongst us, we have set up a blog (a web log-a "diary" if you will) where we will be posting news, updates and information of interest to our member associations.

Here's our new web address:

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