by Borderstan.com December 16, 2009 at 9:30 am 1,204 0

Bordersan Movie Fan Mary Burganby Mary Burgan

This week Mary the Borderstan Movie Fan offers some suggestions for movie rentals during the Christmas season. Her column runs every two weeks.

Other Reviews by Mary

“Precious” and “The Blind Side” Tell Some Hard Truths
Borderstan Movie Fan: Children’s Movies for Grandparents, Part 2/Older Kids
Borderstan Movie Fan: Children’s Movies for Grandparents (Part 1)
High School Musicals
Movies for Foodies
Health Care Options at the Movies
My Favorite Sexy Movies
“Borderstan Movie Fan” Tells You What to Rent

Many movies now at the local theaters have been released in time for the Oscar rather than the Christmas season, and they give little comfort to anyone looking for cheer. A lot of the films at the mall are apocalyptic, grim, and sobering. So what to rent or download for Christmas Eve? How to escape the doldrums of an empty holiday afternoon when you don’t want to undergo another movie that is so loud and so dire that it leaves you feeling hopeless?

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by Borderstan.com December 15, 2009 at 7:58 am 2,052 2 Comments

Phil Mendelson Shaw dc crime Luis Gomez Photos

Last night at the Shaw crime forum: Councilmember Phil Mendelson. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Last night’s Shaw crime forum featuring DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) followed a pattern we have seen at similar rodeos in the DupontLogan area: questions and venting from frustrated residents, which were were met with detailed explanations of the criminal justice system. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and a representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office were also there and actively participated in the meeting.

Mendelson did a mea culpa of sorts on his recent statement that “Crime in Shaw is not a legislative issue,” saying it was a poor choice of words. Evans noted that he has another anti-gang bill that will be introduced today.

Mendelson defended himself by noting that lots of anti-crime legislation has been passed by the Council during his tenure as chair of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. Moreover, he seemed to put some of the blame for DC’s violent crime problem on the system, i.e., the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, on the other hand, told attendees that their office prosecutes crimes to the fullest.

Cary at The Other 35 Percent was there last night and he has a detailed (but easy to read and digest) posting on last night’s meeting. I think his summary paragraph best gives you the major points:

So, what did the meeting accomplish? Mendelson seems closer to lending his support to a broader anti-loitering law, has already backed a school-zone loitering law, and wants funding to examine the District’s revolving door. Evans has an anti-gang bill due out today, which Mendelson should give a timely hearing and fair consideration. Mendelson and the U.S. Attorneys Office both got an earful and one can hope that what they heard will add vigor to their efforts and give them helpful perspective in their decisionmaking.

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by Borderstan.com December 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm 1,052 0

Tonight Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) is holding a public safety-crime forum in Shaw (7 p.m. at New Community Church, 614 S Street NW). Mendelson–chair of the Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary–resides in upper Northwest’s Cleveland Park, a very different neighborhood from downtown Shaw. So, I thought it would be interesting to look at crime numbers for these two neighborhoods to see how the compare.

For Cleveland Park, I ran crime stats for the intersection of Newark Street and Connecticut Avenue NW, which is by the Uptown Theatre.  For Shaw, I ran the stats for 7th and P Streets NW, which is near the Kennedy Recreation Center and the O Street Market project.

Note: All numbers below are for Jan. 1 to Dec. 10 of this year and encompass an area within a 1,500-foot radius of the given address. The numbers are from the MPD’s crime database as of Dec. 10 (numbers were run on Dec. 13).

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by Borderstan.com December 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm 2,737 5 Comments

If I could ask only one question of Councilmember Phil Mendelson at his community forum on crime in Shaw Monday night, it would be this: “Why is DC’s murder rate 4.56 times higher than that of New York City and what is your plan to keep fewer young people from being killed?” (More on homicide rates below).

No, the Shaw neighborhood is not in Borderstan. However, Council Member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) has influence over the entire District in his role as chair of the Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. So, it is noteworthy that he is holding a meeting tomorrow evening (December 14) to talk about public safety with Shaw and Mount Vernon Square residents. Time is 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the New Community Church, 614 S Street NW.

I suspect the meeting will be interesting and that Mendelson will get an earful from Shaw residents, particularly regarding past statements. Whatever issues we have in Dupont-Logan-U Street with crime, the folks in Shaw have more serious problems than we do here in the Borderstan area or in many other parts of the city.

“Not a Legislative Problem”

Mendelson has made some statements in the past that I (and others) find puzzling. For example, there is, “Crime in Shaw is not a legislative problem.” And you may like or dislike Harry Jaffe, but you should read this June 1, 2008, piece at Washingtonian.com, “Why DC’s Bad Guys Have So Many Guns.” (Coincidentally, Jaffe had a piece on violent crime in DC in today’s Examiner.)

In addition, Mendelson battled and defeated the mayor’s Omnibus Crime Bill earlier this year and has opposed efforts by Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) to enact some much tougher crime measures. Note: For background information and a history of the bills, read Cary Silverman’s posting at his blog, The Other 35 Percent.

I disagree with Mendelson. Crime in Shaw (and the District) is a legislative problem. At the very least, legislation is part of solving the problem, if not the entire answer.

The police and a number of members of the DC Council feel strongly that there are some tougher and more effective laws that could be enacted that would help law enforcement officers do their jobs more effectively. The reality is that DC still has a crime rate much higher than that of other major U.S. cities.

New York and Chicago, for example, have violent crime rates much lower than DC. This fact seems to get lost somewhere. Why don’t we as residents, demand to know why this is the case? What does New York do that we do not do? Why can’t we learn from other major U.S. cities?

DC’s Murder Rate 4.56 Times Higher Than New York City

Let’s take the murder rate. We hear a great deal about DC’s declining murder rate. It is, indeed, very good news. But here is the ugly reality. The murder rate in New York City is 4.99 homicides per 100,000 people (through Nov. 22 this year). In DC, the homicide rate is 22.77 per 100,000 people (through Dec. 10 this year).¹ So, what is the answer? I don’t know, but I do wish that we (residents and elected officials) would start to ask why and try to figure out what we can do to bring down the rate of violent crime in DC. At the very least, shouldn’t we be asking the question?

When we have a murder rate that is 4.56 times higher than New York City, I am not sure we should be bragging about our declining murder rate. (There have been 134 homicides in DC through Dec. 10 compared to 175 for the same period in 2008).

I am going to try to make it to the Monday meeting in Shaw to hear what residents ask and how Mendelson answers. I suggest that you go, too.

Full Disclosure: Cark Ray is running against Mendelson in the Democratic primary next September for the At-Large Council seat. I have known Clark for more than a decade and I am supporting him; yes, you will find my name (Matthew Rhoades) among Clark’s contributors. Those of you who have been reading this blog since we started it in August 2008 know that I have been writing about DC crime long before Clark began his campaign.

About Tonight’s Meeting

From Life In Mount Vernon Square:

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by Borderstan.com December 12, 2009 at 11:00 am 0

Miss Pixie Logan Circle Borderstan Luis Gomez Photos 14th Street NW

Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot: Miss Pixie in the window of her store on 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Luis took this shot of Miss Pixie with her pink Christmas Tree when we passed by the store earlier this week around closing time. She told us that the tree is not for sale although she gets offers.

I remember shopping at Miss Pixie’s store when it was on Adams Mill Road in Adams Morgan. One spring Saturday afternoon I went into the store with a friend. Somehow she ended up purchasing a wrought iron bird bath–for me. Cocktails may have been involved. The bird bath now lives a few houses away with a neighbor.

by Borderstan.com December 11, 2009 at 5:00 am 1,153 0

We’re doing something new here with crime statistics at Borderstan. We normally report crime stats for the defined Borderstan crime reporting area.¹ In addition, we sometimes provide stats from Police Service Area (PSA) 208/Dupont and PSA 307/Logan-Shaw.

However, we are going to occasionally pick a different location in the area and show a snapshot of crime trends, using information from the MPD crime database. The first guest-crime-location is 18th Street and Florida Avenue NW, right on the cusp of the Adams Morgan, U Street and Dupont Circle neighborhoods/areas.

Roughly, this circular area runs from 16th Street west to Connecticut Avenue and from R Street north up to Belmont Road.  The stats from the crime database encompass a circular area radiating 1,500 feet (0.28 mile) in all directions from 18th and Florida. The area is in PSA 208 and PSA 303.

Guest blogger Back from Boulder prepared the stats and analysis for Borderstan. Here’s what he found.

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by Borderstan.com December 9, 2009 at 6:29 am 0

December: It’s chock full of holidays. Which ones will you celebrate? Many or none?

If you are not familiar with Festivus, check it out; the airing of grievances has become a tradition at the community bulletin board in Adams Morgan at 18th and Columbia Road NW.

You might be interested in the results of an unscientific and unreliable Borderstan poll from last March when Borderstan readers were asked about their religious beliefs.

Check all holidays you will celebrate: Vote below. (more…)

by Borderstan.com December 9, 2009 at 5:00 am 1,188 0

17th Street, Luis Gomez Photos

17th Street NW trees are being protected during construction. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Last Saturday ANC 2B/Dupont Circle held a rally and walk down 17th Street with city officials to review initial tree removal plans that were part of the 17th Streetscape project. Work began November 30.

The city’s initial plans called for the removal of almost all of the 35 trees between P and Riggs Streets NW on 17th. However, after the 17th Street walk, plans have been revised so that only about 10 trees will be removed from this stretch of the street.

Following is a detailed report on the Saturday walk and the city’s revised tree plans for 17th Street from Commissioner Jack Jacobson, ANC 2B-04.

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by Borderstan.com December 8, 2009 at 8:14 am 0

Borderstan U Street MidCity Luis Gomez Photos

Monday evening: Galactica performed at the MidCity Business Association’s annual holiday party at Local 16. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The MidCity Business Association’s annual holiday party and fundraiser drew approximately 100 people to Local 16 last evening. The organization represents businesses in the 14th Street and U Street corridors.

Local performer, Gallactica, provided talent. (more…)

by Borderstan.com December 8, 2009 at 7:54 am 1,376 2 Comments

I will say it one more time: Small children should not be allowed inside dog parks, not even if they are accompanied by an adult. Even the nicest, best-trained dog can be unpredictable around strangers (especially small children) and especially when put in a pack setting with other dogs.

A horrible incident in Cleveland Park on Sunday evening illustrates the dangers of small children and dogs. No, the comparison is not perfect: the attack involved an adult on a city street. (more…)

by Borderstan.com December 7, 2009 at 10:45 am 1,141 0

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier will address the monthly meeting of the DCCA tonight at 7:30 p.m. at 2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW. The meeting is open to the public. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans will also be there. Both will take questions from the audience. DCCA asks that questions be submitted beforehand to Robin Diener at [email protected].

What would you ask Lanier? Evans? Here are the questions I would ask. (more…)

by Borderstan.com December 7, 2009 at 5:00 am 1,577 0

by Mary Burgan

This week Mary the Borderstan Movie Fan reviews Previous and The Blind Side. Her column normally runs every two weeks.

Other Reviews by Mary

Borderstan Movie Fan: Children’s Movies for Grandparents, Part 2/Older Kids
Borderstan Movie Fan: Children’s Movies for Grandparents (Part 1)
High School Musicals
Movies for Foodies
Health Care Options at the Movies
My Favorite Sexy Movies
“Borderstan Movie Fan” Tells You What to Rent

Precious and The Blind Side

Two of the best films I saw over the Thanksgiving break were Precious and The Blind Side. Precious was almost unbearable to watch, and that may be the reason that the theater had only a sparse audience when we went to see the film, though we did go on an ordinary weekday afternoon. We saw The Blind Side at a Saturday matinee after Thanksgiving, and then the theater was packed with uplifted viewers. As we were leaving, I heard one ask another, “Did you cry?” And the response was, “Yes, I did.”

Actually, I cried at both films, but with different tears–tears of shame, tears of relief. I stumbled out of Precious feeling ashamed that I was a member of the human race, but I left The Bind Side feeling relieved that there were some good people on the planet. (more…)

by Borderstan.com December 6, 2009 at 9:31 pm 0

Dupont Circle PSA 208

PSA 208 covers the Dupont Circle neighborhood down to Washington Circle. (MPD Web site)

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier will address the DCCA tonight in Dupont Circle, which happens to be Police Service Area (PSA) 208. What do the crime stats for PSA 208, year-to-date (Jan. 1 to Dec. 3) show?

I ran them with comparisons to the period in 2007 and 2008. The detailed stats are in the following table. A quick look at PSA 208 crime stats shows:

  • Total crime is up almost 4% from 2008 and is up 10% from 2007. The increases are being driven by more property crimes in the Dupont Circle area. A line by line analysis shows a mixed bag; some good things and some bad things.

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