Will Sommer has grown into the Loose Lips seat at City Paper
with his article on the Peaceoholics, "Peace at Any Cost?," http://tinyurl.com/n8946nv.
Sommer was given access to a cache of E-mails that the Fraternal Order
of Police spent three years suing the Metropolitan Police Department to
get. Those E-mails show the MPD were worried that the Peaceoholics were
doing more harm than good and that the Peacoholics couldn’t substantiate
its activities with paperwork, but continued to give the group hundreds
of thousands of grant dollars as late as 2010.
The comments on Sommer’s article all wonder the same thing: why have
Adrian Fenty and his crony deals, including the questionable grants
given to Peaceoholics, been given a pass by US Attorney Ron Machen’s
Building a New Soccer Stadium
On Thursday, July 25, Mayor Gray, on behalf of the District of
Columbia signed a "term sheet agreement" with DC United regarding the
development, construction, management, and operation of a new
twenty-thousand to twenty-five thousand seat soccer stadium in the
Buzzard Point area of southwest, near the Washington Nationals baseball
stadium. The documents and renderings are at
http://www.oca.dc.gov/soccer. Under the terms of the
agreement, the District government will assemble the real property that
is needed to construct the stadium, but which is currently privately
owned (in squares 605, 607, and 661, and the northern portions of Square
665) and lease the land to DC United for an annual base rent of one
dollar. The city plans to swap District-owned property (e.g., the
Reeves Center at 14 and U Streets, NW) with the property owners (Pepco,
Akridge, and Mark Ein) in order to assemble to stadium site parcels. In
addition, the District will "assume the cost of environmental
remediation of existing conditions on the stadium site and perform
demolition and infrastructure work in connection with the stadium and
the ancillary development on the stadium site." For its part, DC United
agrees to "develop, construct, manage, and operate the stadium" under
the provisions of the term agreement. Currently, it is anticipated that
the stadium will cost $150 million to build.
The term agreement details an ambitious, unrealistic timetable for
the project. By January 1, 2014, the District must have concluded
negotiations regarding assembling the land needed for the stadium and
have secured "site control" of the land (excluding the Pepco
substations). Moreover, the agreement required the mayor to "obtain the
necessary legal approvals from the council and, if required, the United
States Congress" by January 1, 2014. By March 1, 2015, the District is
required to complete "the necessary infrastructure work and utility
relations, . . . demolish all existing structures on the stadium site, .
. . completed its environmental remediation obligations, and . . .
obtained approvals to close any alleys or streets, as necessary, on the
stadium site." Finally, the term agreement provides that "by no later
than January 1, 2017, the Stadium shall be substantially complete and
ready for commercial operation, provided, however, the Parties will
endeavor and use reasonable efforts to complete the Stadium by March 1,
2016, or in time for the start of 2016 MLS season. . . ."
History didn’t start in 1962. And John Stossel’s is a superficial
view of the Detroit catastrophe [themail, July 24]. My grandfather moved
to Detroit in 1905 to work for the Ford Motor Company. I was born,
reared, and schooled there, and loved the city greatly as it appeared to
be in the 1930’s and 40’s but as I matured and became involved in city
and state politics and governance (I was Secretary of the State
Department of Workmen’s Compensation in 1956) I realized that the seeds
of its demise were planted in the late nineteenth century and were
nurtured by stubborn people and watered by self denial. Detroit was well
on the road to ruin before 1962. For one of the best analyses of the
city’s rise and fall read American Odyssey: A Unique History of
America Told Through The Life of A Great City, by Robert E. Conot,
McGraw-Hill. It only covers through 1974, but that’s more than enough to
understand the hill it was rolling down.
Issue Now Posted Online
The July issue content is now posted at http://www.intowner.com,
including the issue PDF in which will be found the primary news stories,
museum exhibition reviews, and community news — plus all photos and
other images. Not included in the PDF but linked directly from the home
page is the What Once Was feature (this month on hiatus), as well as
Recent Real Estate Sales, Reservations Recommended, and Food in the
This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) "Controversial
Project for Construction of New Row Houses on Heavily Wooded Mt.
Pleasant Site Raise Issues of Compatibility and Appropriateness"; 2)
"Former Central Union Mission Building to Become High-End Residential
Project;" and 3) "Officials Developing Plan for City Parks and Rec
Centers; Charging Fees Being Suggested."
Our editorial this month comments on the city council’s taking off
for summer break while leaving us dangling. Your thoughts are welcome
and can be sent by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the web
page or by E-mail to email@example.com. The next issue PDF will
publish early in the morning of August 9 (the second Friday of the month
as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 234-1717.
You may have heard the latest Walmart saga Walmart is threatening to
pull three of its planned store locations from its newly touted DC
market. The District of Columbia is in a controversial position: give in
to Walmart, as the retail giant’s leadership is refusing to pay
potential low-end workers a "living wage," or stand with the potential
working class who are poised to become Walmart’s "poster child" for its
successful entry into urban markets. Our mayor’s knees are a-wobbling.
The term "living wage" is relatively new in the District of Columbia.
During our recent Special Election for an At-Large seat, I was compelled
to initiate and elevate the topic of the need for a living wage in DC. I
brought that quest to the table primarily for three reasons: 1) in the
fourth most expensive city to live in America, a working-class Joe has
to earn above the poverty level to survive, 2) Walmart is infamous for
low-balling its workers on wages, with the indirect effect of depressing
wages for neighboring merchants and workers; I don’t want that to happen
here, and 3) I find it immoral for the vast majority of those low-end
workers — who are Black with the highest unemployment rate in the area —
to work for poverty wages.
Once I pounded the concept of paying DC workers fair and
life-sustaining wages — which, by the way, in DC is a minimum
$14.50/hour — all but one of my opponents in the At-Large race
eventually jumped on the bandwagon. Now, a living wage is one of DC’s
hottest topics, and rightfully so. Walmart threatened to pull out of DC
because our council voted to stand with — and for — the people. The 8-5
vote was somewhat surprising since our Council has repeatedly kowtowed
to developers and corporate interests. I am of the mind that Walmart
should walk anyway, but if it’s going to operate in DC, then Walmart
needs to pay responsible wages, and even more, quit threatening DC. It’s
disrespectful to our working class.
Walmart and DC politics-watchers are eagerly awaiting Mayor Gray’s
decision either to stand with Walmart by vetoing the bill or stand with
the people and sign the bill. The working class in this city has
suffered great economic pain though our city enjoys successive years of
budget surpluses. I hear the disinformation agents opining to DC
constituents by framing the argument against Walmart as one that
"singles out Walmart," rather than requiring other large-volume
retailers to comply with the proposed law. How appalling, but I am not
surprised to learn that some in our city’s media establishment seem very
willing to do Walmart’s bidding by asserting that same mantra: this new
bill picks on Walmart. It is true that Walmart is the chief motivation
behind the bill. It has a sordid history of hurting workers and
neighboring businesses in the communities where its stores locate.
Walmart’s wages are so low that many of its workers rely on food stamps
and other government aid to make ends meet. In just one Walmart Super
Center in Wisconsin, workers had the unintended impact of costing state
taxpayers nearly an extra $1 million — the taxpayers cost to subsidize
Walmart’s low wages and scant, if any, benefits. (Most Walmart workers
are part-time, making them ineligible for company benefits.)
Walmart has long been criticized for its pattern of paying wages that
force its workers to enroll in public assistance programs. The recent
study in Wisconsin gives credence to such criticism. The company had
disproportionately more workers enrolled in the state’s public health
care program during the 4th quarter of last year than any other
A study by the Center for Labor Research and Education at University
of California-Berkley found that the opening of the first Walmart store
in any county in the USA where there previously had been none depressed
the wages of general merchandise employees by 1 percent, and of grocery
store employees by 1.5 percent. The counties surveyed did not include
those that encompassed the largest east and west coast cities, where the
gap between Walmart’s wages and those of other supermarkets is greatest.
The bill in DC, the Large Retailer Accountability Act, doesn’t single
out Walmart at all; it does justice by making large retailers socially
responsible corporate citizens. The bill would require "large retailers"
— defined as businesses operating an indoor store of at least 75,000
square feet and whose corporate parent has annual sales of at least $1
billion — to pay wages no lower than $12.50 per hour without benefits,
or $11.75 with benefits. That "living wage" would be indexed to the
local consumer price index every year.
Now, let’s be clear, I don’t consider $12.50 an hour a "living wage"
in the least for DC; that number should be at least $14.50 an hour for a
single person living in the District of Columbia. This is simply
masterful framing. You see, our city’s median income is upwards of
$63,000 a year, and $86,600 in the immediate surrounding area.
An hourly wage of $12.50 is nothing close to a living wage in the
District of Columbia. As some of you may recall, I proposed a "living
wage" of $14.50/hour during the REDD4Council campaign for DC council.
Why so high? Well, it’s really not "so high." For one to make
$12.50/hour (with no benefits, no less) is to gross $1,080/week (taxes:
Federal $181, Social Security $67, Medicare $15 and DC $69) for a
take-home pay of $747.25/week or $2,988/month. This is before utilities,
transportation and/or food — or a child!
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit as of June this year
and within ten miles of Washington, DC, is $1,813. One-bedroom
apartments in Washington rent for $1,617 a month on average and
two-bedroom apartment rents average $2,035. That equates to 60 percent
of that $2,988/month salary! How can one live on that purported "living
wage?" A person cannot. Thus, we must push back against the idea of this
weak-kneed proposal that’s framed as a "living wage." But it is what it
is, for now.
To the point about Walmart: Walmart is threatening to pull out of DC.
I say, "Bye!" Some of us told thousands of you that Walmart cares
nothing for people — only profits. Now, they’ve resorted to using the
Black community as bargaining chips — by threatening to halt
construction of three of its six — yeah, six — proposed stores in
heavily Black communities where unemployment is highest.
Walmart’s public outcry is indicative of a spreading disease. You’ve
got to catch the cancer before it spreads. Walmart shouldn’t even be in
DC. Let alone six stores! Other large retailers would willingly step in
if this devilish corporation (oh, "Corporations are people my friend!")
pulls out. Let’s not allow this threat to attack our self-esteem. We
don’t have to settle for less
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
DPW Monthly Household Hazardous Waste
Drop-Off, August 3
Linda P. Grant,
The DC Department of Public Works will hold its next monthly
Household Hazardous Waste/E-cycling/Personal Document Shredding drop-off
on Saturday, August 3, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Ft. Totten
Transfer Station. The monthly drop-off is held every first Saturday,
except holidays, at Ft. Totten, between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. During
the monthly HHW/E-cycling/Personal Document Shredding event, District
residents may bring toxic items such as pesticides, batteries, and
cleaning fluids to Ft. Totten, along with computers, televisions, and
other unwanted electronic equipment. Personal document shredding also is
available that day, and residents may bring up to five boxes of
materials to be shredded. No business or commercial material will be
To accommodate residents whose religious beliefs prohibit them from
using the Saturday drop-off, DPW will accept household hazardous waste
and e-cyclables on Thursday, August 1, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. While
DPW normally offers personal document shredding during the Saturday
event, items for shredding cannot be accepted on Thursday, August 1,
because these documents cannot be protected until the shredding
contractor arrives on Saturday. (DPW usually provides this alternate
drop-off day the Thursday before the first Saturday of the month.) For a
list of all household hazardous waste and e-cyclables accepted by DPW,
please click on the HHW link at www.dpw.dc.gov.
DPW reminds residents that certain batteries (lithium-based and
batteries greater than 9 volts) should be taped before being brought to
Ft. Totten. Lithium-based batteries are most commonly found in cell
phones, digital cameras and laptops. Also, hearing aids, watches, and
keyless remotes typically use button cells, containing lithium. To
safely dispose of batteries with lithium or batteries of greater than 9
volts, put clear, masking, or electrical tape on the batteries’
terminals. Flat button batteries can be sandwiched between two layers of
tape. Place these batteries in a separate container from other batteries
that don’t require being taped, e.g., A, AAA, C, D, 6-volt, and 9-volt
Directions to Ft. Totten, 4900 John F. McCormack Drive, NE: travel
east on Irving Street, NW, turn left on Michigan Avenue, turn left on
John F. McCormack Drive, NE, and continue to the end of the street.
Directions from additional locations can be found at http://dpw.dc.gov/node/414922.
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