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Pray for sunny skies. The dc.story/dc.movie Garden Party will take place on Tuesday, June 16. For those who can now attend or those who haven't memorized the party details, read below. Send me an R.S.V.P. if you plan to attend and HAVEN'T already sent me an RSVP. This is the only way I can contact you in case Mother Nature causes another postponement.
One hundred and twenty people have sent in their RSVP for our forthcoming dc.story party. Our get together takes place on June 16 at Firehook Bakery (from 7:30 PM until 9:30 PM). We'll meet in Firehook's Garden (the refurbished Roma Garden). Firehook offers coffee, pastries, salads, sandwiches, beer, and wine. Admission to the event is $5, which covers the cost of organizing the event.
Firehook Bakery is located in Cleveland Park at 3411 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Neighborhood parking, metered parking, and pay lots are available. The Cleveland Park Metro is only a couple of hundred feet from Firehook.
dc.story takes pride in the diversity of opinions shared in these cyberpages. (Your moderator's views are less diverse.) With the onslaught of the campaign season, dc.story can become a forum for campaign activists. Not only would I welcome debate about the candidates (BTW: Why did no one respond to Carl Bergman's prescient comments about Hilda Mason?) but I would also welcome advocacy postings. Use this forum to announce meet-and greets, grips-and-grins, debates, fundraisers, and poster-hangings. I will post these "brief" notes in a section called, you guessed it, dc.campaign. After the election, I guess we'll change the name to dc.champagne. (Debates on ideas will stay in the main section.) Just keep your postings short and to the point.
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DC Getting Better?
With all of the complaining we do about DC services in this forum, I thought it'd be nice to hear a couple of good things.
1) Last week I asked the trash guys how to get a new Supercan (mine has a broken wheel and is generally old and worn). He gave me a number to call. I called it, got thru on the second try. I asked the gentleman who answered how to get a new Supercan b/c mine had a wheel missing. He said "Do you want a new one or do you want to have yours repaired?... Because if you get a new one it will cost you over $70." Not realizing that DPW repaired these babies, I immediately signed up for repair. The next day my Supercan had a new wheel and has at least 5 more years of useful life. And best of all, it cost me nothing (beyond the tax dollars at work). Try it... 202-576-6814 or 6815
2) I met a friend for lunch downtown last week. I expected to drive around for 20 minutes looking for a parking space. But I found a space within 5 minutes of beginning my search (and passed a few other empty spaces on my walk to the restaurant). We all know why DC loves parking meters (can u spell revenue). But it really was much easier to find a space now that the new meters are here. Let's just hope that these meters are "Godzilla proof" as Jeff put it.
Eventually I See the Light
Four out of the five street lights in the alley behind my house (in Glover Park, near Wisconsin Avenue) hadn't worked in years. Unlike the street lights in the front (which seem to get repaired automatically when one of them burns out), there's apparently no such automatic system for the alley lights. So about 6 months ago I finally called to complain. My hopes for a quick fix were diminished when I learned that D.C. and not PEPCO was responsible for alley lights on wooden poles. Nevertheless, I called the D.C. Street Light Division to let them know our alley was dark.
A couple of weeks afterwards, two more of the lights worked (Net: 3 out of 5 working). "That's a start," I thought hopefully. But as time went on, not only did the non-working lights not get repaired, the newly functioning lights quit. Typical, and again, apparently no automatic follow-up. So, a few weeks ago I called again (Street Light Division: 202-939-7100) and spoke to Mr. Stephen Gross who took the information again and promised to have NEW fixtures installed (rather than make another repair attempt). Sure enough, they came Thursday and now for the first time in many years, our alley is fully lit at night. All it took was a generous mixture of persistence and patience. I may just try once again to get the city to reinstall my street's missing One Way and Do Not Enter signs.
Since the summer months are upon us, I thought it would be about time to see all of those paving trucks around town. However no such luck. Is there any paving schedule out anywhere? I saw that they were talking about paving the worst road in NW, Porter St. from Wisconsin to 16th NEXT summer 1999 but with a possibility of moving it up.
I've recently read some alarming articles about widespread disaster and economic destruction that will be caused by people waiting too late to fix their Y2K problem. It affects every industry, from banking, medicine, the prison system, manufacturing, and yes -- you guessed it -- government. I know Fairfax County is working on making sure their tax and other systems will not run haywire on January 1, 2000, but I must say I'm less than optimistic about DC's readiness. Does anyone know differently? If not, getting taxed twice for money you've already paid may be the least of your worries.
Class Five Tax Rate
Nick Keenan has hit on a very important issue-- derelict buildings and how our city, uniquely, encourages them. Our ANC did a survey of the empty, derelict buildings here and found about 90 just in our ANC. These buildings make our city look like a slum, and provide havens for drug dealers, prostitutes and other criminals. They drag down the community more than any other single factor.
We took photos, did the title searches, and put together books which we've been giving to officials of DC government (including the recently departed David Watts of DCRA). We have been trying to get DC to have the same policy as other cities, like Richmond, Norfolk. Alexandria, etc., that all buildings must be up to code, inhabited or not. Alexandria cleaned up all their derelict properties this way. Building inspectors issue citations and owners must get permits to do the work within a specified time limit, and if they don't , they must sell the buildings to someone who will. In our ANC most of these properties are owned by DC, by churches and by speculators from the burbs who don't care a whit about the impact they have. WE need to do what everyone else does and make the private sector clean up the mess it makes here in our city.
We are just beginning to do research on the Class Five issue and I am at least pleased to learn that we can stop looking up all these properties, inasmuch as they are ALL improperly taxed . Anthony Williams wasn't getting my vote anyway, but this is the absolute clincher.
The current issue of _Library Journal_ (June 1 issue) has a cover story spread on the DCPL and its new head, Molly Raphael. I've haven't seen anything nearly this informative in the Wash. Post. Sounds like things are going much better. (You can see the _Journal_ in any library).
Jack Evans for Poster-Boy
A lot of people in the eastern part of Ward 2 don't think a lot of Jack Evans. The reason? Services. Neighborhood residents have learned that if you're looking to get a pothole fixed, your garbage picked up or a vacant building secured, you're just wasting your time calling Evans' office. The stock answer: There's nothing he can do. One of my pet issues is illegal posting -- over the past year I have repeatedly written DPW and Evans' office complaining about illegal posters on 7th street. I have never even received a response.
So I was quite chagrined to read recently that three anti-Convention Center protesters were recently tracked down by DPW, fined hundreds of dollars, and made to remove their posters. According to the press coverage, DPW took this unprecedented and laborious step at the behest of Jack Evans. So apparently, there IS something he can do -- when he wants to. To add insult to insult, at the same time Evans' campaign has been littering the area with illegal posters of his own. The intersection nearest my house, on 7th street, has a dozen handbills -- three on each corner -- taped to utility poles. (Candidates are allowed to use staples but not tape on utility poles.) These handbills are advertising Evans' campaign kickoff -- which took place two weeks ago. Oh well -- there's Nothing He Can Do About It.
Candidate Jeffrey Gildenhorn has placed a large billboard for his mayoral race over his "American Way" poster above the City Diner at Connecticut and Morrison Sts. NW. I expressed my dismay, and the opinion that billboards were not permitted there. He said he had a permit. Jeffrey Norman, head of the ANC, is perturbed, and believes it is not permissible to have such a billboard. The ANC asked the City to send an inspector, and we are waiting on that next step. I forgot to ask JG what department issues the permit! In _Northwest Current_ he is quoted as saying it is within guidelines for campaigning.
Local opinion former outcry over Dr. Brimmer's proposal for a 3-manager system of governance shows that he didn't get their buy-in first. This is exactly how many in the public feel when local elites and Congress cut deals without true citizen involvement. Wouldn't it be nice if, before Congress makes any changes to our Home Rule Charter, we had a clear and transparent public involvement process in which the problems of our current governance structure were clearly defined (Why did self-government fail in the District?), all of the potential solutions clearly articulated, and in which citizens deliberate, ask questions, compare merits and liabilities of approaches, and register their opinion so it is counted? I know, I'm dreaming again.
Chances are, before changin g the Home Rule Charter, Congress will want to have local elite/opinion former buy-in, like when they transferred power to the Authority, without public involvement or a vote. My guess is that the decision will be made by a few players (who?), followed by a few hearings to be able to say the public was involved, some articles, commentary, and a few editorials to get the public ready, and big changes which we'll read about under the heading of "the return ofdemocracy" to D.C. It is all to easy for local opinion formers to invoke the name of "D.C. residents and their elected leaders" when they personally dislike a proposal, but much harder to nurture citizenship. My research on land use disputes taught me the importance of public involvement processes. And the more controversial an idea is, the more average people need to be brought into the decision making, because they're less wed to any one idea and willing to hear everyone out. Involved citizens become informed citizens and informed citizens can be trusted to make good--and legitimate--decisions.
Another Convention Center Observed
In San Diego the convention center is bordered on the west by San Diego Bay, on the north by several hotels, on the east by a railroad track/trolley line, and on the south by parking lots. Across the railroad track is the "Gaslight District," composed almost entirely of hotels, restaurants, and such fine neighborhood-oriented establishments as Planet Hollywood and Nordstrom.
That, for those who think a convention center will save their neighborhood, is typical of development around all the convention facilities I have ever seen, including the present D.C. convention center. (Well, the hotels, parking lots, and restaurants, anyway. A Nordstrom downtown would be a big improvement.) The Chicago center only has parking lots -- not even hotels or restaurants.
Beyond question, Shaw needs something to fill that gaping vacancy at its center. But it does not need a convention center, unless it also needs and wants hotels, restaurants, and parking lots.
Convention Center and Who Builds It?
Suggesting that if a convention center is such a good idea, why not let someone other then the DC government build it is total bunk! It is true that if there were profitability in building, owning and operating a convention center that private developers would rush to the opportunity. The center itself is NOT the moneymaker. It is the DRAW. No different then Las Vegas hotels who make huge profits from casinos and not room rent. The rooms are necessary so that the gamblers have a place to rest while spending bundles of money in the casinos.
"If you build the center, the people will come." When they come they will rent hotel rooms, eat, cavort, tour, shop and everything else that involves the expenditure of money. That money supports businesses that contribute to a healthy job market collect hundreds of millions in tax dollars for the government. Government has a responsibility to do what is necessary to assure economic vitality. DC building this new center is an "investment" toward its responsibility and the new convention center, funded by a hotel industry sponsored additional room tax, will go a long way toward fulfilling that responsibility.
NCPC's Vision for Washington: "Extending the Legacy"
The National Capital Planning Commission has a nice exhibit at the National Building Museum and published its vision for the next 50-100 years in "Extending the Legacy" (free from NCPC at 482-7200 or ncpc.gov). "Legacy" is a sector plan, drawn from the "Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital," proposed 1967, adopted 1982. (Other regional sector plans are underway.) The Comp Plan promoteddecentralization of the federal establishment into surrounding Congressionally represented states. Legacy says District revenue problems can't be solved even with the best D.C. management, points out need for new tax policies (2/3 of D.C. employees live in VA & MD and Congress exempts them from contributing anything to D.C. infrastructure). D.C. has lost 39,000 jobs to federal downsizing since 1994. Legacy proposes neighborhood development, including Southeast Federal Center, Navy Yard, East Capitol Street at the Anacostia River, and a park to replace RFK. An item of interest to residents who fought to stop the Inner Ring freeway from plowing through neighborhoods and those who were displaced--the NCPC proposes to "remove freeways [including the Southeast/Southwest] and railroad tracks to reknit central Washington and frame it with 22 miles of public waterfront." The plan states that this decade will be decisive in planning.
So you're interested in that big advertising spot in the beginning of dc.story? Contact Jan Genzer -- the dc.story marketing maven--at Oltjan@aol.com or call him at 202.364.0383.
Legislative Reception & Issues Forum with the DC City Council
You're invited to the following . Join DC City Councilmembers and Jewish leaders from the District for a special reception and issues forum to discuss matters from home rule to improved government services.
Wednesday, June 17, 1998 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. District of Columbia Jewish Community Center (DCJCC), Social Hall 1529 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC (close to Dupont Circle metro stop). Positive RSVP's to Vera at (202)785-4200. Sponsored by the American Jewish Committee Washington Chapter, Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, DCJCC.
Office Equipment for Anthony Williams
The "Anthony Williams for Mayor Campaign" is seeking desks, tables, chairs, fax machines, computers, and everything else you can imagine for its campaign offices. Please contact Max Brown at (202) 338-2727 (and leave a message) if you would like to loan excess furniture and office equipment to the campaign.
Family looking for house to rent. They need at least 3 bdrm and Metro accessibility. Areas include: Friendship Hts, Tenley, UDC, Cleveland Pk. Contact me directly and I will forward.
Adams Morgan Urban Summer Camp
If you want to help make a difference this summer - here's a super (and easy) way to do so with the Adams Morgan Urban Summer Camp. Mike Gould, the volunteer organizing the camp, seeks donations of any amount to help subsidize heavily under-resourced students (low income kids) receive scholarships for an urban summer camp. I'm encouraging friends, neighbors and contacts to donate $10 to pool our resources to help cover the cost of one or more scholarships for the camp - tuition is a total of $210 (including 2 meals) is already heavily subsidized. (You are, of course, welcome to send more.) Checks (tax deductible) can be made out to "Friends of Marie Reed" and sent to Mike Gould at 1965 Biltmore St., NW WDC 20009. Students are eligible for scholarships based on grades and financial need.
If you want to fully sponsor a kid yourself at $210, or to assist with other camp costs, let Mike Gould know 202/232-1531.
You will never know the satisfaction of painting over unsightly graffiti until you try it! And now you can! The Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association (CSNA) will be painting out graffiti on six Saturday mornings this summer and fall, continuing a successful effort to mitigate this problem. Paint and supplies has been donated by Duron, and we match the defaced surface as best we can. CSNA boundaries are roughly S St., Florida Ave, 16th to 5th Street, N.W.
Saturdays include May 23, June 20, July 25, August 22, September 26 and October 17th. Meet at 914 Westminster Street at 8:30 (btwn 9th & 10th, S and T Streets, NW). Call Chuck Baxter at 232-7921 sometime the week before the paint out to let him know you will participate. Bring your parents, kids, and friends!
FOUR FOR SHAW - A DESIGN COMPETITION
"Four For Shaw: Urban Problems and Solutions" is a design competition open to professionals, students and interested parties. Entries will be part of an online exhibit of design proposals. All entries must be sited in Shaw, and address at least one of four theme areas: trash and recycling; pedestrian-scale transportation; parking; or "the village square". Contact ATELIER FORUM, LTD. (Mr. Jamil Hamilton, President) at firstname.lastname@example.org" or visit us at www.atelierforum.org for more information.
Also, free! dc.movie. Free movie passes, short movie reviews, and movie discussion. Send an email message to email@example.com to subscribe.
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