Decoding the Double Talk
Set your decoder rings to deep doo-doo, and read the policy statement
that Stan Jackson, the acting director of the Department of Housing and
Community Development, issued on November 13 (http://www.dcwatch.com/govern/dhcd011113.htm).
Reading between the lines, this statement reveals that the US Department
of Housing and Urban Development is finally beginning to put pressure on
DHCD to make the Community Development Corporations responsible and
accountable, and it has at last forbidden DHCD from illegally funding
the CDCs' staff salaries and organizational expenses with federal funds
that are specifically intended for development projects. Furthermore,
federal Neighborhood Development Assistance Program funds, which DHCD
had previously given only to CDCs, will now be available to all
community-based groups, and CDCs will have to compete for them.
In addition, under Jackson, DHCD has continued a policy begun by
deposed director Milton Bailey, and is still demanding that CDCs file
their required financial reports. However, the CDCs are striking back.
They have been accustomed for decades to the city government's turning a
blind eye to their wasting and misusing city funds, and they will not
change their ways without a fight. Even though Jackson's statement seems
to promise that DHCD will reform the CDCs as little as possible, that
little is still too much. Having forced Bailey out, the CDCs have now
turned their considerable political power against Jackson. Jackson's
confirmation hearing as permanent director of DHCD was scheduled to be
held this morning before Harold Brazil's Committee on Economic
Development, but it was canceled at the last minute -- or, as the
Council prefers to say, it was postponed until an undetermined date. The
snag was heavy lobbying against Jackson's nomination by Robert Pohlman,
head of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development,
which represents the CDCs. The CDCs are continuing to protest having to
report their finances and detail their projects, and it remains unclear
whether the City Council or the administration has the backbone to stand
up to them.
In Annual Capitol Tradition, DC Gets Held Up
Mark Richards, Dupont East, firstname.lastname@example.org
DC's fiscal year ended the last of September, two months ago. In
these extraordinary times, perhaps we should forgive the Congressional
leadership for holding up DC's budget by not scheduling a meeting to
hammer out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the
DC Appropriations bill. But, unfortunately, this tardy behavior is a
habit. In 1996, the budget was delayed seven months; in 1998, 2000, and
2001, it was delayed a month and a half; and in 1999 it was delayed
three weeks. The DC government keeps picking up your trash and answering
the telephones because Congress passes Continuing Resolutions to extend
the prior year's funding. Considering that DC officials must start
annual budgeting nine months in advance in order to allow Congress time
to go through the massive bureaucracy, delays only exasperate the lag
time between planning and implementation. The delay costs District
taxpayers lost interest, and new programs, grants, or funding can't
start until the bill passes. So what's the hold up? Partisan politics.
Don't expect the actual conference on the DC bill till at least the end
of next week. Just in time for the Mayor and Council to start all over
again for next year's budget battle.
For those who want to make calls to Congress, there is time — the
more calls the better. There are significant differences between the
Senate and the House version, and in most cases, the Senate version is
better from a DC Home Rule point-of-view. The House seems to be better
to DC on funding for emergency preparedness. In case you wondered if
anybody in the fifty states cares about DC's local budget, have a look
at the following selection of items that fall into the “culture
wars” category. Domestic partnership seems to have dominated the
"activist alert" circuit this year. Many of these groups
failed to mention that this is already a DC Law that has been blocked by
Congress — it is a Home Rule issue. That's a difficult concept to
grasp, I realize. Some of these notices make for interesting reading and
could offer some clues to why Congress is sitting on DC's money.
AIDS Action Council: http://politics.yahoo.com/issue_watch/organization/aac/CA62573aac/
American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.aclu.org/action/dcapprops107.html
Concerned Women for America: http://www.cwfa.org/library/family/2001-09-25_letter.shtml
Family Research Council: http://www.frc.org/gov/l01i011.cfm?CFID=215051&CFTOKEN=88013730
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance: http://www.glaa.org/
Human Rights Campaign: http://www.glinn.com/news/polact1.htm
Log Cabin Republicans: http://www.lcr.org/press/20010925House.asp
Religious Freedom Coalition: http://www.rfcnet.org/legislation/rfcaction/092801_rfcalert.htm
This Saturday morning, December 1, Mayor Williams will host a
Neighborhood Action Forum in the Grand Ballroom of the J.W. Marriott
Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The forum is a follow-up session to
the October 6th Citizen Summit II. It is supposed “to increase citizen
involvement in creating the city we want,” and to secure citizens'
input into the Mayor's citywide strategic plan. The cost of the
four-and-a-half hour session will exceed $153,000. The Mayor's call for
citizen participation and input, however, conflicts with other recent
actions by the Williams administration.
At the newly renovated Wilson Building, only two offices are either
locked or inaccessible to citizens. The only locked office is,
ironically, the Office of Community Outreach, Religious Affairs, and
Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Affairs, Room 211. If you knock on the
locked door, the Office's policy is for someone to come to the door and
block access until the visitor explains what he wants. Larry Hemphill,
the Director of the Office of Community Outreach, explains that the door
is locked for security reasons, but the Wilson Building offices of the
Council, City Administrators, Deputy Mayors, Corporation Counsel, Chief
Financial Officer, and so on, aren't locked. The inaccessible office is
the Mayor's office. In the renovation of the Wilson Building, a
six-story addition was constructed, filling in the building's former
interior courtyard. The top floor of the addition, designated as the
penthouse, houses the new office of the Mayor. The average citizen
shouldn't expect to drop by the Mayor's new digs anytime soon, however.
The public elevators go only to the fifth floor, and only those with a
special elevator key or invitation will get to the penthouse.
It remains extremely difficult for citizen, community, and civic
groups — as opposed to business organizations and political donors —
to get meetings with the Mayor or members of his cabinet. A recent
example: yesterday evening David Clark, the new Director of the
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, was the scheduled speaker
at the monthly meeting of the Federation of Citizens Associations, an
umbrella group of about 35 community associations that has been highly
supportive of the Mayor. Neither Clark nor any representative of DCRA
showed at the meeting, despite an affirmative response to a faxed letter
of invitation and repeated confirmations from the Department. At his
press conference today, Mayor Williams's reaction to Clark's no-show was
to dismiss it with the assurance that he was sure Clark had a good
reason not to come.
I am trying to get either of the cable operators in DC -- Comcast and
StarPower -- to pick up the SpeedVision channel. I am a big road racing
fan and, until about a month ago, was able to get SV on what has been
turned into DC Comcast out of our old, much-maligned District
The only reason I subscribe to cable in the first place is because I
am (still) one of those odd ducks who actually believed the original
spiel about cable being a niche market-oriented service for those of us
who were interested in topics and programming — like Formula One motor
sports — that almost inherently don't generate the numbers to justify
coverage by the over-the-air broadcast networks. Worked fine, at least
for a “cylinder head” like me, until October 20th, when I turned on
my new Comcast channel lineup to discover that SpeedVision — which
carries about 85 percent of the programming I am watching whenever I am
using my TV for something other than a video outlet for one of our VCRs
— had been dropped. Not only dropped: Comcast made it clear it won't
be restored when(ever) this great in-town system upgrade of theirs is
So I am on my way over to StarPower in hopes I won't have to have
holes drilled in my house walls to accommodate a satellite dish, just to
get about 30 weekends worth of grand prix and sports/prototype racing.
So, I would very much appreciate it if all here would do me a favor:
please E-mail StarPower and ask them to pick-up SpeedVision in their
cable channel lineup.
I have finally concluded that my plumber, Joseph H. Bauer, has no
interest in installing a new shower stall in my basement, after three
phone calls over the past two weeks have produced no reply. Is this a
job that a plumber would not do? I would pick up the stall myself at
Atlantic Plumbing downtown, but it is too big and fragile for any
vehicle that I or any of my friends own.
Gary Imhoff wrote, “now that I live in the inner city I find that I
need a car in order to get to the suburbs.” Anyone tried car-sharing?
Zipcar says it offers its members by-the-hour access to cars stashed
here and there around town; Flexcar promises to do the same, and has
announced a deal with Metro. (All this from their web sites.) Metro's
Flexcar press release: http://www.wmata.com/about/Met_news/200109/pr_carsharing.htm
What I find interesting here is the number of times I sit behind
drivers who “sleep” through the green lights, talking on their cell
phones, reading, doing make up, talking to the person next to them,
yelling at their kids in the back seat, studying maps, changing CDs,
slurping drinks . . . then run red lights! Hey. How about watching what
you're doing, going when it's green, then not having to make up for it
when it's red.
Does anyone have information concerning the ticketing of cars for
speeding via a camera?
I did not intend to trivialize the problem — as I said previously,
I wanted to point out that the "solution" as implemented is
costly and problematic.
The $7 billion in property damage, medical bills, etc., that is
caused annually is, on a per capita basis, $11.7 million per year for
DC. This is in total less than Lockheed Martin expects to earn now, and
for only an incremental improvement in the red-light running problem
citywide. According to http://www.redmeansstop.com,
violations are down 60 to 90 percent at the intersections in question.
What about the rest of the intersections in the city? What is the
citywide reduction in property damage and casualty we are seeing now?
For only a few billion a year we could probably monitor every
intersection in DC, and achieve this reduction in red light running
citywide that you say is currently seen at monitored intersections. Of
course if red light running is actually reduced 90 percent citywide, I
assume that we'd be paying Lockheed Martin out of the tax base, rather
than out of the fines, which would no longer cover the cost. While this
reduction would be quite an accomplishment, how much would it cost us to
see such significant benefits citywide? Would it be worth it, compared
to other concerns that face us in DC?
This is without discussing problems with the idea of having cameras
at every corner, but just simple economics. There are many concerns
raised by this kind of policing in general, which I'm sure could be
argued endlessly, so I'm simply pointing out that this solution doesn't
seem to make much economic sense, unless you're Lockheed Martin.
I don't have a problem for cracking down on red-light runners, in
fact, I am a former offender. Last year, I thought I was going through a
yellow and could not really see the light change, as there was a truck
in front of me blocking the light's final change to red. A couple of
weeks later, there was my Jetta photographed, sure enough, going through
the light. I am totally OK with this. Now, I take my time and find
myself driving more cautiously and much less aggressively, especially at
intersections. My complaint with traffic lights here in the District has
nothing to do with cameras but with the overall lack of timing of the
lights on our major thoroughfares and traffic circles. Is it just me, or
are these things completely out of synch? Maybe this has been covered
before in themail, and maybe it has something to do with security, but
it really is frustrating. It seems most cities (I hate to cite New York,
but . . . well . . .) I visit seem to have a stream of subsequent green
lights contributing to a much nicer flow of traffic down the major
corridors. Does anyone know if there is something being done to correct
this, or is it something done purposefully that I have to learn to live
Ralston Cox, Strivers' Section Historic District, Dupont
What's the deal with the ugly yellow "yield to pedestrians"
markers suddenly appearing in the middle the road at many intersections
in my area? I know that the safety of pedestrians (myself among them)
should certainly be of concern to drivers (myself among them) when
approaching intersections, but why do we have to ugly up the streetscape
— and create yet another visual distraction — with these ghastly
little rubberized signposts?
Danilo Pelletiere, email@example.com
Few would argue with Gary's assertion that for the foreseeable future
cars and other modes of transportation, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians
will have to coexist on the city's streets. The idea, however, that in
Washington “We've gone through three decades of urban policy aimed at
making owning a car increasingly inconvenient and expensive, in order to
discourage private cars and encourage mass transportation,” requires a
little substantiation. What are these policies to discourage car use?
Higher gas taxes, parking, registration and residential parking permit
fees? Have parking impact fees been implemented or toll roads? Or how
about decreased parking opportunities, pedestrian and transit
right-of-ways that decrease automobile lane capacity?
In the nearly two decades I have lived here I have seen registration
and residential parking fees and gas taxes remain nearly level, indeed
they have likely declined in real terms, while I have experienced a
number of Metro fare increases. I have seen the number of
pedestrian-only areas decline (recent White House actions aside), the
amount of parking in my neighborhood increased and the enforcement of
neighborhood parking regulations decline. I have seen massive rebuilding
projects of the SE-SW freeway, the Whitehurst freeway, and other major
commuter roads. Even as neighborhood roads deteriorated, bike paths and
sidewalks crumbled and in many places even disappeared completely. Many
neighborhoods in the Eastern portion of the city, particularly east of
the River, still don't have sidewalks, and after road construction
crosswalks are repainted haphazardly if at all. It is true that during
five decades of urban policy encouraging car use through freeway
construction, urban renewal projects where every house had two parking
spaces, and downtown malls with adjacent parking structures, there have
been limited policies to encourage transit, due in part to air pollution
concerns and now to private urban development interest. But there have
been no policies that I am aware of to discourage driving in D.C. To
date, DC employees receive free parking but no Metro subsidy, Federal
workers only started receiving the subsidy in the past few years. So I
issue a challenge, what are these policies you refer to?
I think you'll find that neighborhood streets and traffic may be put
at a disadvantage to commuter traffic, but cars have not been
disadvantaged relative to transit. (In the way of full disclosure, I am
the current chair of the DC Sierra Club.)
[I was hoping not to reopen the old drivers versus anti-car activists
debate, but to see whether anyone has any new coexistence strategies
that aren't aimed at making life harder for either group. However, since
Danilo has issued a challenge, I'll mention just two anti-car policies:
as a result of lobbying by environmentalists and, more importantly,
political donations by private parking-lot owners, DC hasn't built a
single municipal parking lot; and car fees and faxes are significantly
higher in DC than in surrounding states, which is why so many DC drivers
register their cars illegally in Virginia. — Gary Imhoff]
Both of my children were born at Columbia Hospital for Women. My wife
and I are very positive on the place. From the experience of our first
child's birth, we didn't want to be anywhere else for the second. As
someone who is occasionally skeptical (and frequently critical) of
"modern medicine," that is not said lightly.
Chinese Vegetarian Cooking
Ellen Compton-Tejera, firstname.lastname@example.org
As a non-vegetarian who likes good vegetarian cooking, I recommend
the Vegetable Garden's creative Chinese menu. You'll find it in the
strip mall directly across Rockville Pike from the White Flint Metro
Locally Produced Documentaries and Films at
Phil Shapiro, email@example.com
If you're a fan of the documentary and independent film form, one of
the best showcases of local producers here in the DC area is at Studio
650, 650 Massachusetts Ave., NW. (subway stop, Gallery Place/Chinatown).
Best as I can recall, the screenings are free, although a $5 or $10
donation is accepted. Seating capacity is about 300, so you need to
arrive early if you want a good seat. Parking is ample. Further info at
http://www.studio650.com. I was so inspired by one of the films I saw at
Studio 650 two years ago that I put it up on the web for free as a
volunteer service to the nonprofit organization in DC that produced it,
the Earth Conservation Corps (with their permission). This film, about
the return of the bald eagle to the Anacostia River and the city youths
that made this happen, can be viewed in streaming RealVideo format at http://storymakers.net/endangeredspecies256.ram.
You'll need a cable modem or DSL connection to view it. The documentary
is about 40 minutes in length. After watching the video, visit the Earth
Conservation Corps web site: http://www.earthconcorps.org.
These folks are doing incredibly positive things for our community in
DC. They deserve our support.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Oyster Elementary Bilingual Holiday Book Fair
Nialle Condensa, NCondensa@aol.com
Oyster Bilingual Elementary School's annual bilingual holiday book
fair will be held December 3rd-8th. Don't miss this exciting bilingual
book fair coming to Oyster Elementary School (2801 Calvert Street, NW)
just in time for the holiday season. It features wonderful books in
English and Spanish from over 100 publishers. Hours are Monday, December
3rd, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday (December 4th through
7th) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, December 8th, from 9 a.m. to 2
p.m. For more information, call 671-3111, and ask for Laura Kleinmann.
The Friends of the Cleveland Park Library will hold a mini-book sale
on Saturday, December 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the lobby of
the Newark Street entrance (in front of the first floor auditorium).
(Take Metro red line to Cleveland Park; walk one block south.) We have
lots of beautiful, pristine art and picture books (coffee table
variety), brand new cookbooks, some new children's books, and assorted
fiction and nonfiction. All are suitable as gifts. Do your holiday gift
shopping early! You'll get high quality and low prices. As always, the
proceeds go to support our local library. For more information, contact
Nathalie Black at 362-3599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING
Wonderful Cleveland/Woodley Park Apartment for
Andrew Mack, email@example.com
I have this wonderful apartment on the border between Cleveland and
Woodley Park. It's beautiful -- two bedrooms, large bathroom with both
bath and shower, solarium, breakfast room. The building is a classic
1929 Aztec Art deco with 24 hour security plus doorman, fountain out
front, park to the side, laundry room, small workout room, just a short
walk to the red line. 2737 Devonshire Place is the address, about 1 1/2
blocks north of the zoo (Devonshire dead-ends into the Kennedy Warren,
if people aren't familiar). It's a real nice place, quiet but centrally
located, really nice staff and neighbors. Easily comfortable for two at
almost 1500 square feet. The apartment is actually available as we speak
(the renter moved out early). Rent has been reduced to $2,250, which is
what other similar apartments in the building have been going for. It is
a lovely place and you will love living there! Please contact me at
256-1077 for more info if you are interested.
CLASSIFIEDS — WANTED
Looking for a 19" Rack Mount Cabinet
Vernard R. Gray, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nonprofit technology organization (DC-based) seeks a 19" rack
mount cabinet to house its audio equipment. Although we have a small
budget for this item, donations are tax-exempt and are always welcome.
If you know where we might acquire such an item, please contact Vernard
R. Gray, ConnectDC2000, 347-6330 office, 262-7571cell, email@example.com.
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