What’s a DC election without a bit of drama?
Last Wednesday Logan Circle resident John Settles kicked off his campaign for DC Council at Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW. Settles is one of eight candidates running for the seat in a special election on April 23. The seat is temporarily being held by Anita Bonds; it opened up when At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson was elected Council chair in November and had to resign the seat.
Michael Brown, Anita Bonds, Matthew Frumin, Elissa Silverman, Paul Zukerberg, Perry Redd for the Green Party and Republican Patrick Mara are the other candidates. There are no primary elections; all candidates go on the ballot.
At noon some 70 supporters and neighbors of the area gathered at the back room of Ben’s to hear Settles talk about his campaign.
Settles’ speech hit on essential themes, such as ethics and education.
“I wasn’t going to wait until I heard about another self serving career politician prioritizing fully loaded luxuries over fully realized solutions before I decided to take action,” he said. “I am running for the DC Council because I want to be a public servant focusing on fully realized plans for affordable housing, education, labor, public safety and senior services. We need to turn the page on the corrupt politics of the past and let DC realize its potential as a world class model city. I am running because I’d like to prove that people with integrity, compassion, and vision can still make a difference in a political system that is brimming with waste, fraud and abuse. If I am elected I will be the Councilmember for all eight wards so I am campaigning in all eight wards.”
However, shortly after Settles’ launch, Washington City Paper published an article stating that Settles filed for bankruptcy in 2011, with court records listing $3.4 million in unpaid liabilities, including several years of federal tax liens. Settles replied that his filing for bankruptcy won’t hurt his chances in the race.
In a long statement, Settles explained that the bankruptcy came after a development company he built took a hit.
“The effort I put into building my businesses and rebuilding my financial situation after the great recession hit me directly, has strengthened my resolve to serve the public because I have such empathy for people who are struggling financially, and I understand first-hand the struggles of small businesses who are trying to keep their corner of the economy alive,” Settles explained in a statement to Borderstan.
Then, on Monday, February 4, NBC 4 published details about a three-ring fight in the campaign. According to the article, candidate Elissa Silverman, is challenging the candidacies of two opponents, Paul Zukerberg and John Settles. Silverman’s issue is with the signatures required by candidates in the election.
NBC 4 says Zukerberg and Settles have 10 days to appeal Silverman’s challenge.
An April 23 special election will take place to fill the at-large City Council seat, recently vacated by Phil Mendelson (D) when he was elected council chairman. As the candidates gear-up for their campaigns, we will introduce you to each of them. Today: local resident John Settles.
Now living in Logan Circle with his wife and three children, Settles is a long-time resident of DC. He grew up in the Shepherd Park neighborhood in DC and later graduated from Howard University. Settles has worked in real estate, lending, entrepreneurial training and economic development, and has served on non-profit boards and started his own businesses.
“I am a housing finance and development professional, but my passion for eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government has led me to politics,” Settles said in a press release.
“I want to prove that people with integrity, compassion, and vision can still make a difference in a political system that has let us down so much. I am willing to start courageous conversations. We have a real opportunity to fix our broken politics and send a message that we will no longer stand for self-serving politicians playing games while we are working hard every day to raise our families and earn a living.”
Settles’ campaign includes a HELPS DC plan, where he focuses on the following points:
- Housing/Neighborhood Development: More affordable housing options while keeping the identity and charm of our neighborhoods in tact.
- Education: A comprehensive Cradle-to-College network that improves proficiency; offers challenging and creative learning environments; expands arts, technology and life skills programs; and graduates work-ready students.
- Labor/ Economic Development: Greater resources for small businesses targeted work force development programs and incentives for green manufacturing and knowledge based companies.
- Public Safety: We need to be reassured our neighbors will remain safe and are served by first responders who are equipped with state of the art tools and facilities.
- Senior Services: Programs for our seniors that allow them to live with dignity in quality housing with sufficient food and access to services. We also need to capture seniors wisdom as mentors in our schools and community builders in their neighborhoods.
“The city is finally growing; however, the continued growth and, just as important, the retention of young professionals and families will depend upon creating more quality housing that is affordable, developing more high performing schools, attracting more high paying jobs, supporting more small businesses, makings streets safer and providing more support to our senior citizens so they can live with dignity,” Settles said.
“I will be knocking on doors and talking to voters across the District over the next few months laying out my vision for a DC Council that prioritizes restoring the trust so that DC can be the world-class model of a city every resident deserves.”
For more information on John Settles and his campaign, visit his website.
From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.
The D.C. Council rejected two proposals from Mayor Vincent Gray that would have provided funding to add 100 officers to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD; see coverage from The Washington Post and The Washington Examiner). Council Chairman Phil Mendelson had expressed his intention to vote down the measures prior to Tuesday’s legislative meeting.
Mayor Gray had requested hiring 48 officers by reallocating an extra $1.7 million in the budget. The other 52 officers would have been funded with money from traffic camera fines.
Mendelson felt the mayor was rushing the proposal and that current MPD force numbers are sufficient. He also encouraged MPD to continue to use civilianization as a means of putting more sworn officers on the street.
MPD Chief Cathy Lanier mentioned Borderstan neighborhoods in a letter to Mendelson on Monday asking him to reconsider his stance prior to Tuesday’s votes:
During the past year, we have conducted a comprehensive analysis of ongoing development throughout the city. The historical lessons we have learned from areas such as Chinatown and Columbia Heights suggest that several other areas of development will experience an upward trajectory in Workload — both calls for service and crime…Several other areas — including the H Street corridor, U Street and 14th Street NW, CityCenterDC, DuPont Circle, Adams Morgan, and the St. Elizabeth’s campus, to name a few — are undergoing substantial amounts of new or continued development. All of these areas will have a significant impact on police services. Our analysis has made it clear that due to the dense development, the areas will demand a different type of police deployment — more foot, bike, and Segway patrols, which are not able to cover as large of an area” (emphasis added).
Mendelson did agree to revisit the issue in 2013. Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) was the only councilmember to vote for the reallocation of funds to hire 48 officers. The Council unanimously rejected using traffic camera fine money to hire more cops.
Former ANC-1B Commissioner and vice-chairperson of the Ward One Democrat, Brianne Nadeau, announced her candidacy for the Ward 1 DC Council seat on Wednesday. Nadeau will challenge Jim Graham, the ward’s incumbent in the 2014 Democratic Primary if he runs again. Graham is currently serving his fourth term on the council — and has not yet announced his plans. Most of the U Street corridor is in Ward 1.
Nadeau says she will focus her campaign on ending pay-to-play politics in the District, while creating jobs, improving the quality of education and increasing public safety.
“I have a record of fighting for Ward 1 residents, helping them get the services they need and making sure their problems are being addressed by our government,” said Nadeau in a press release. “I am running for council to address important issues that impact the lives of residents day-to-day. We cannot just solve problems on a case-by-case basis, we also need a long-term plan for solving the underlying issues and creating a stronger District.”
Since Nadeau’s time on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), 2007 to 2011, the 32-year-old public relations consultant at Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications has worked on establishing various community initiatives, such as the U Street Movie Series and Sustainable U, a project that aims to improve local sustainability efforts and resolve quality of life issues.
If elected, Nadeau hopes to build on these efforts and work with the community members and leaders to strengthen the area.
“Ward 1 is the most diverse ward in the city, and Brianne understands how important it is to bring people together,” says Tania B. Jackson, DC Democratic State Committee member at-large and chairperson of Nadeau’s campaign. “Under her leadership, we will see the type of collaboration across the ward that will allow us to make real progress in improving our schools, transportation options, human services and the development of our commercial districts.”
Current Ward 1 Councilmember Graham has recently been questioned in the media for unethical behavior in relation to a development deal during his time spent on the Metro Board of Directors.
Graham told The Washington Post, “No one has ever suggested I broke any law, or had any illegal financial interest or conflict of interest. The only conflict of interest ever raised is between my role as a council member and as a Metro board member… I have no ethical issues.”
So far, there are no other candidates for the seat.
On Tuesday the DC Council met to to take the first vote on a controversial bill addressing liquor licensing for local businesses, and residents’ roles in the process. Many issues were on the table regarding liquor licensing, including how long it takes to obtain a license and who can squash it.
The legislation came before the Council following work done by a large task force headed by Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). What did happen on Tuesday?
- The Council passed a provision to get rid of any “Gang of 5” license protest if a venue applying for a license reaches agreement with Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) — essentially giving an ANC first standing in liquor license protests.
- According to Tim Craig, reporter for The Washington Post, the council defeated Councilmember Cheh’s amendment,which strengthened the ability of five or more residents to protest a neighborhood liquor license. Graham, Orange, Barry, Graham Brown, Evans and Wells voted against the amendment. Alexander, Bowser, Cheh, McDuffie and Mendelson voted for it.
- The requirement that “Gang of 5” members protesting a liquor license application or renewal live within a 400-foot radius around an establishment was taken out of the bill. (See DC Liquor Board Reaffirms Hank’s Oyster Bar Decision and Poll: Most Readers Say 5 People Not Enough to Protest Liquor Licenses).
- D.C. Hospitality reports that the Council also approved a measure that requires the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board to act on licensing applications in a quicker time frame — of great importance to businesses that are essentially waiting to open pending approval of a liquor license.
- And as Dcist reports, sometime next year, liquor stores will be able to open for business on Sundays.
The final vote on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday, December 18.
Large Number of Licenses in Area
There are 1,586 liquor licenses of all types in DC, according to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). The battles over liquor licenses in the Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods are more easily put into perspective when you look at the numbers — what wards, ANCs and areas have the most liquor licenses. Statistics from ABRA show how dominant our locales are in the ranks of DC’s watering holes: Ward 2 (Dupont-Logan) is home to 40% of all the city’s liquor licenses, followed by Ward 1 (which includes most of the U Street corridor) with 16%. In third place is Ward 6 (Capitol Hill) with 15%. It’s important to point out that Ward 2 includes Georgetown, in addition to Dupont-Logan and areas south of Dupont Circle. Ward 1 also includes Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. Other DC Wards: Ward 3 has about 11% of all licenses; Ward 5 has 7%; Ward 4 has 6%; Ward 7 about 3%; and Ward 8 about 2.5% of all the city’s liquor licenses.
Licenses in Local ANCs
A look at number of licenses by Advisory Neighborhood Commission level is more revealing. ANC 2B/Dupontis home to 14.44% of all liquor licenses in the city (229) — keep in mind that the boundaries of ANC 2B extend well south of Dupont Circle and reach Pennsylvania Avenue at some points. (See DC Liquor Licenses by the Numbers: Ward 2, 40% and Ward 1, 16%.)
ANC 2F (Logan Circle and a big chunk of 14th Street NW) has 111 liquor licenses, about 7% of the city’s total. ANC 1B has 91 licenses, about 6% of all licenses in DC — 1B includes the U Street corridor and large swath of territory to the north plus Howard University. Together, these three ANCs are home to 431 of 1,586 licenses, about 27% of the city’s total. Throw in ANC 2C/Shaw and you have another 7% of all liquor licenses in DC. How many are in ANC 1C, home to Adams Morgan? That ANC has 84 licenses, about 5% of all the DC liquor licenses.
The exact numbers are as follows:
|ANC||# ABC Licenses||% of All DC Licenses|
|ANC 1B (U Street corridor and Columbia Heights)||91||5.74%|
|ANC 2B (Dupont Circle)||229||14.44%|
|ANC 2F (Logan Circle)||113||7.12%|
|ANC 2C (Shaw)||111||7.00%|
On Tuesday former DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown faced sentencing in federal court and the DC Superior Court.
In June, Brown resigned from the City Council after pleading guilty to bank fraud for lying on two bank loan applications a few years prior and for violating campaign finance laws.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Brown was sentenced in federal court (for bank fraud) to one day in custody and six months of home detention. In the afternoon, Brown was sentenced to two years of probation and 480 hours of community service (for the campaign finance violations).
So now we ask you, Borderstan: Do you think justice has been served?
On Thursday, September 27, The Washington Post hosted a public forum on the state of leadership in DC, on the heels of recent corruptions in City Council and a federal investigation surrounding Mayor Gray’s election campaign.
“Connecting the Dots in the District” was the latest in a series of “Behind the Headlines” programs sponsored by The Post. Panelists for the evening included Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce; Kojo Nnamdi, host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU radio; Carol Schwartz, a former DC Councilmember; and Clinton Yates, Express editor and opinion writer for The Root DC.
Washington Post columnist Bob McCartney started off the discussion by asking the panelists for their thoughts on leadership and accountability.
Lang spoke about her thoughts on qualities of leadership. She highlighted the importance of integrity and being able to deliver results. Lang also emphasized how we, as the electing public, need to hold our city’s leaders responsible for what they promise.
Nnamdi received applause after calling for a “policy ombudsman,” and stressed that perception is everything in leadership, drawing an analogy to the recent NFL replacement referee controversy.
Schwartz recalled how during her terms on the Council there was an attitude that you need to “go along to get along” and not rock the boat if you want to survive. Schwartz also recounted how she was often the only councilmember who would meticulously report all the gifts she received while in office, and called for a change to this norm. By far the youngest on the panel, Yates spoke on DC’s current “culture of silence” and “old boy” network in District politics.
As McCartney turned the conversation to how we break the old political culture, Nnamdi noted that the one-party system allows someone to win without seriously being challenged in terms of intellect and integrity, and went on to suggest an open primary. It was at this point that some drama erupted in the auditorium. An attendee, who later identified himself as Robert Brannum, shouted “No, No, No” after Nnamdi’s comments on open primaries. Brannum also fired out comments as Yates decried the political culture in DC.
At the end of the panel discussion, attendee questions were read by McCartney. Many questions were submitted on the topic of The Washington Post‘s reporting of malfeasance in DC government. Some suggested The Post was not doing enough given their resources (one question cited how often The City Paper often uncovers scandals despite their small budget). Others were outraged that The Washington Post constantly targets the same officials and regurgitates the same stories for weeks.
More information on the “Behind the Headlines” series is available on The Post‘s website.
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans introduced three pieces of legislation affecting education and the arts, contracting and taxation in the District. The Dupont-Logan area is part of Ward 2.
Education and the Arts
The “Public School Librarians, Art and Music Teacher Act of 2012” requires each DC public school to have a full-time librarian, art teacher and music teacher.
According to a recently published article in The Huffington Post, DC Public Schools announced last May that it was cutting allocated funding for librarians at schools with less than 300 students. As a result, 58 of 124 DC schools started the 2012 school year without librarians.
“It’s hard for me to believe that we continue to invest nearly $2 billion a year into our public schools, with the highest per-pupil funding formula in the nation, and yet have one of the worst educational outcomes in the nation,” said Evans in a press release statement. “This suggests to me that our money is not being spent in the right places.”
The “Council Contract Review Repeal Act of 2012” limits the way the Council is able to intervene in the contracting process. With this piece of legislation, Evans hopes to eliminate ethical violations that occur with vendor selection by ensuring that contracting is merit-based.
Evans also introduced a Sense of the Council Resolution related to the possibility of a commuter tax. This piece of legislation would apply taxes to Virginia and Maryland residents who frequently travel into the District for work.
“Many Virginia and Maryland residents take advantage of the infrastructure and business opportunities offered within the District every day, and yet don’t contribute to its upkeep through their income tax dollars,” said Evans. According to a press release issued by Evans’ office, Evans is believed to have Republican support on the commuter tax proposal.
For more information on these pieces of legislation, visit www.jackevans.org or contact Evans’ office at (202) 724-8058.
From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
The Washington Post reported that the DC Council has approved new rules requiring its members to “treat other members with dignity and respect and refrain from using profane, indecent or abusive language” in public meetings. Fittingly, the vote went without debate.
Chairman Kwame R. Brown spearheaded the resolution, which was prompted by last week’s heated exchange between Councilmen David Catania and Marion Barry. The new rules allow Brown to remove decorum offenders from future meetings so long as it does not impede their ability to cast a vote.
Speaking of missing votes, Barry skipped Tuesday’s council meeting and did not vote on the proposal.
Although Catania supported the measure, he questioned why the Council, which is endlessly fraught with ethics scandals, would suddenly be concerned about profanity. “This body [is injecting] itself as Emily Post or Miss Manners while last year the majority of members said nothing when a colleague essentially admitted to stealing,” he said, according to The Post. Catania was frustrated by the media’s fixation on the ethics rules rather than on more pressing matters, such as his recent work providing services to at-risk youth.
But Catania’s verbal assault on Barry — including calling him a “despicable human being” — received too much coverage to be ignored, and has many calling for an apology.
“We’re going to take him into the back room and kick his tail,” the Rev. R. Joyce Scott said recently. “And we’re going to do that in public.” Scott did not specify the location of this public back room.
On Tuesday, Catania stood by his heated exchange with Barry, saying he will not apologize.
From Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her on Twitter me @MichLancaster.
Reform was the buzzword at the At-Large City Council Candidate Forum, held Tuesday evening at Church of the Holy City, 16th and Corcoran NW. Education reform, ethics reform, zoning reform, reforming the DCRA process… all were part of a robust question and answer session attended by all candidates running for the seat. The event began with an introduction of the candidates, proceeded into a question and answer period and concluded with a brief closing statement by each candidate.
The event was well attended, as 70-plus citizens packed into the room, some standing the entire event, to hear the candidates discuss their positions. The majority of the candidates and attendees continued on to the reception graciously sponsored by Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, following the event, which offered the opportunity for one-on-one discussions with candidates. The event began with candidates Sekou Biddle, Joshua Lopez, Patrick Mara, Alan Page and Bryan Weaver. They were later joined by Dorothy Douglas, Tom Brown and Vincent Orange.
From Matty Rhoades
The U.S. Census Bureau released D.C.’s results on Thursday. The big buzz was that (1) D.C. gained people for the first time since 1950 and (2) the black majority is on the verge of disappearing, with only 50.7% of residents now being African-American. There were huge gains in the number of whites and smaller gains in the numbers of Latinos and Asians living in D.C. Citywide, African Americans are about 51% of the population, Latinos are at 9%, Asians at 3% and non-Latino whites are at 35%.
D.C. now has more than 601,000 people, a 5.2% increase from 2000 — but still far below the city’s peak year of 1950 when the Census recorded 802,000 people in D.C.
Growth in Wards 1 and 2
Locally, Ward 2 — the bulk of the Borderstan.com coverage area — grew the fastest with a 16% population increase, from 68,000 to 79,000 people. This means it will have to lose people – certain blocks will have to be moved to other Wards — some eastern parts of the Ward could go to Wards 5 and 6. However, some northern chunks of Ward 2 could possibly go to Ward 1, which grew at a much smaller 3.9% rate.
Logan Circle. Census Tract 52.01 is a great example of how Ward 2 gained so many new people in the past 10 years. The tract’s boundaries are 14th Street NW on the east, 16th Street on the west, Massachusetts Avenue on the south and S Street on the north. The tract registered a 33% increase, going from 4,559 to 6,077 residents. It’s easy to figure out how this happened: the new rental and condo buildings on the 1400 blocks of P and Church Streets NW, plus additional units on the west side of 14th Street and on the 1400 block of Rhode Island Avenue.
Garden District Won’t Reopen This Spring
A hat tip to 14th & You for reporting that Garden District won’t reopen for business this spring after owner Joe Carmack posted the news on the store’s website. The business was in bankruptcy in November 2009, but Carmack reorganized and moved the store across the street to the current location last year. The original location was the site of the soon-to-be Standard hamburger place on the northeast corner of 14th and S Streets. (Garden District also briefly had an indoor plant store where Estadio is now located, at 14th and Church.) A certain member of the Borderstan team reports that he will sorely miss being able to walk over to 14th and pick up plants for his garden. Garden District was open for 10 years.
Worst Week in Washington, Solved? Mayor Gray Decides Background Checks Needed
By all accounts, the Gray Administration has had a tough week or two between vehicles, terminations and police in tiny buildings. We applaud his move, reported by the Post, to now require background checks for political hires. Or, in their words, “it is clear that the approach was not thorough enough to address all relevant issues and questions for Excepted Service appointments.”
From Michelle Lancaster. Got news for Michelle? Send her an email.
Happy Hour Outdoors Last Night
Seriously, with this weather you should have been sipping drinks al fresco last night. Because it’s Friday and Mother Nature is feeling really lovey, she’s giving you a do-over with the weather this evening. It’s 70 degrees in February — why don’t you just start your happy hour now?
From Michelle Lancaster
What’s Next for MOVA Lounge?
Gone, but not really even gone and certainly not forgotten is MOVA Lounge. Borderstan has confirmed with owner Babak Movahedi that MOVA Lounge will definitely reopen in a new location in “late spring.” Movahedi also confirmed that the new location will be in the “U Street corridor,” but would say no more. MetroWeekly reported in the fall that MOVA was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last fall; Movahedi told Borderstan that the company came out of bankruptcy on December 17.
Details Emerge on Mayor-Elect Gray’s Budget Plan — Streetcars In, Tax Hikes Out
Yes, Virginia, there is a streetcar, as reported by Greater Greater Washington. Details still need to be worked out but Mayor-Elect Gray’s budget is a down payment on a campaign promise to keep the funding. For city employees, DCist has the announcement of four furlough days coming soon. That’s estimated to save the city $19.3 million. For city residents pulling in more than $40,000 in annual income — you will not be subject to a tax hike. The budget plan has a little bit of Ebeneezer Scrooge, before and after, with austere cuts in public education while some neighborhood funding was restored.
Real Story on City Council Chief of Staff’s Salary List
Washington City Paper got a hold of D.C. Council Chief of Staff’s salary list. Ward 2 was the highest at $132,000; Ward 1 was the lowest at $85,277 — a difference of more than $46,000. Somebody’s getting coal in their stocking!
Brickskeller Closing Is Official
Its official, according to TBD’s interview with the owner, that D.C. beer institution, the Brickskeller, is closing its Guinness Award-winning doors. The beer-sodden tissues are piling up, and you can check out what We Love DC, Washington City Paper and NBC have to say about the future of the place.
Caroling Flashmob at Gallery Place
Flashmobs are all the rage these days and Metro has seen a few ‘no pants’ rides as part of the trend. Now you get Christmas music, and depending on your Grinch level at a crowded station during a Monday rush hour, this may be more irritating. Story is at NBC.
Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting — How Was It?
Well, besides cold and a consolation prize for those who didn’t get a ticket for the White House Christmas Tree lighting? We Love DC has the info if you missed the first night but want to sneak a peek.