by Sean Meehan September 4, 2015 at 2:50 pm 0

The D.C. Council is used to a lot of back-and-forth, but it’s not usually this literal.

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans joined seven other councilmembers for a ping pong tournament in Farragut Square this afternoon. The event was organized by at-large Councilmember Vincent Orange and the Golden Triangle BID, which holds events in the square every Friday.

Evans faced off against Orange, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson in singles and doubles tournaments.

Evans was a playful but formidable competitor, defending his home turf of Ward 2 with a gentle serve and an extensive arsenal of smack talk.

After winning his first game — an 11-5 rout against Todd — Evans said he wasn’t expecting his table tennis skills to come back to him, since it’s been more than 40 years since he last played.

“I grew up playing ping pong in the 50s and 60s, but back then everyone had homemade tables,” he said. “Your dad would get a piece of plywood and paint it green and you’d buy a set and play. I haven’t had a paddle in my hand for 45 years, but I guess it’s something you never forget, like riding a bike.”

Evans’ confidence waned after losing in the second round of the singles tournament to May.

Ultimately, it was Orange who emerged victorious.

But Evans seemed to have the last laugh: As Orange posed with his trophy for the singles tournament, Evans grabbed it and joked that Orange had been using deflated ping pong balls.

by Jared Holt June 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm 1 Comment

Fadi Khalaf is worried a new law could send his business up in smoke — or rather, vapor.

Three months ago, Khalaf opened M Street Vape on the second floor of 1821 M St. NW and began selling e-cigs, the electronic vapor devices sometimes marketed toward people quitting smoking.

Khalaf stocks the glass counters at the front of the store with handheld vaporizers that vary in shape and size. He also sells nicotine-infused e-juice in flavors that have names like “Superman’s Ice Cream” and “Rotolo Di Zurca.”

Though his products contain no leaf tobacco, an amendment in the D.C. Council’s proposed 2016 Fiscal Year budget would tax them as if they did.

The proposed amendment would tax vape products under the “other tobacco products” category, meaning vapor products would see a 70% tax at wholesale — the same rate as cigarettes. Premium cigars, which are defined as cigars costing more than $2, are still exempt from the 70% tax

Khalaf said the new tax would force prices increases that would largely outweigh his appeal as a boutique retailer, especially since most of the equipment and e-juices are already cheaper at online retailers.

“It’s already hard enough to open a small business,” Khalaf says. “For the local government to potentially shut my store down, with such a high tax of 70%, is unbelievable. It’s just going to drive customers across the bridge or online for their business.”

Khalaf said he feels the tax isolates small vape shops like his own. In fact, he offers discounts to customers who call and advocate against the tax.

He’s fearful that the new law would drive vapor stores out of D.C., leaving behind only major corporations who can absorb the cost with e-cigarette brands  such as Blu and Njoy.

“We’re just small shops,” Khalaf says. “All those cig-alike companies you see in convenience stores are owned by big corporations. While [D.C. Council is] going for the big corporations, they’re throwing us out of the market.”

It is still unclear how the District plans to enforce the law on out-of-state wholesalers, which Khalaf and many other vapor shops uses to source their wares.

D.C. Council is scheduled to make its final vote on June 30. If passed, the law will go into effect Oct. 1.

by June 19, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]

"Food Truck"

The Fojol Bros. food truck. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Just a couple of weeks after the DC Council rejected proposed regulations on the food truck industry, the subject is back in the news. The Council met yesterday to approve a number of regulations that had been amended since last being rejected.

After dragging on for four years, these new regulations may finally put this ongoing debate to an end.

What Was Approved

  • As Borderstan noted when these regulations were last up for approval, one proposal was to create “mobile roadway vending zones.” These zones would be handed out to various food trucks through a lottery process on a monthly basis and would apply to the most popular and busy areas around the city.
  • These zones and this lottery process were approved, but instead of requiring food trucks without access to the zoned areas to stay 500 feet away, they must now stay only 200 feet away.
  • Another proposal was that food trucks outside the zones would only be able to set up at sidewalks with at least 10 feet of unobstructed space. The amount of space has now been dropped to just six feet of unobstructed space, which is the same regulation for outdoor restaurants and cafes.
  • Councilmember Tommy Wells also added an amendment clarifying that “parking meters and similar small structures are not considered obstructions.”
  • Another amendment from Councilmember Wells reduced a fine for expired parking meters from $2,000 to $50, which is the same amount that other street vendors face. That fine is doubled for repeat offenses.

Moving Forward

The passing of these amendments was considered a positive thing by both the DC Food Truck Association and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Neither side won on every count, but neither did they lose, and so a compromise seemed the best that either organization was going to come away with. At least now both groups will be able to take in the new regulations and move forward.

All that is left is for Mayor Gray to put his signature on these new regulations. Given the long history of this story, let’s all keep our fingers crossed that nothing happens between now and then (though seriously, nothing should happen between now and then).

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by June 10, 2013 at 11:00 am 0


Councilmember Jack Evans launches campaign for mayor of DC. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) officially announced his candidacy for DC mayor on Saturday, June 8. Evans has represented the Dupont-Logan area on the DC Council since 1991 when he first won a special election to fill the seat. (See Jack Evans Dishes on Three Decades of Public Service.) The date for the 2014 Democratic primary, and other party primaries, has not been set.

Evans made his announcement outdoors at the corner of 14th and Q Streets NW in front of the newly opened Le Diplomate restaurant. It was a fitting backdrop for the candidate, who told the crowd, “This is one of the new restaurants on 14th Street… that has transformed DC into one of the most desirable cities in America.” Evans spoke of DC’s transformation in the past decade and talked of how to make it “one of the great cities in the world.”

Incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray has not said whether he will seek a second term. However, Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) is already in the race as is Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6).  It is Evans’ second run for mayor; he was a candidate in the 1998 Democratic primary, which was won by former two-term Mayor Anthony Williams. Evans was re-elected to sixth full term on the Council in 2012.

Evans emphasized that he was committed to “preserving” the foundations of DC while “transforming” it into a world-class city. He spoke of assisting, educating and helping DC residents for the new jobs brought by DC’s rapid development. He said that in terms of education that DC needs a “school to career pathway” that focuses on DC’s “vital industries.”

“Change is difficult. It can also be a good thing,” Evans said.

Ward 2 includes most of Borderstan (Dupont-Logan) west of 11th Street and south of U Street NW, and extends to Georgetown, the Potomac and the Capitol.

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by June 5, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]

"Food truck"

Food trucks  drama. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The rest of the country may think that the big news in Washington recently has to do with Benghazi or the IRS scandal, but we’re all too well aware here that all politics are local.

And so, in one of the longest running debates going on here in DC, this past Friday the DC Council’s Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee voted to reject proposed regulations on the food truck industry.

The legislation, which had been proposed by the Gray administration, sought to control the thriving industry by designating which food trucks would be allowed to operate in certain zones and where those blocked from those zones would be allowed to operate.

Those zones, offering more than 150 spots located in the most financially advantageous areas, would be doled out by lottery every month. As for operating outside of those zones, food trucks would need to stay at least 500 feet away and would only be allowed in locations where there is at least 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk.

How Much Regulation Is Enough?

The DC Food Truck Association stated concerns that the new rules were not only too vague but that they also worried about the lottery process, saying that too much was being left to the discretion of government agencies. At the same time, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington advocated on behalf of these regulations in the name of fairness as restaurants operate under a number of pre-existing rules and regulations.

After voting to reject the regulations as proposed, committee Chairman Vincent Orange introduced emergency legislation, approved yesterday, that will allow the committee to amend the submitted regulations instead of being restrained to simply voting for, against, or no action. The idea here is that the regulations are not completely off base and some modifications might make them more agreeable to the committee.

This debate over regulations has been going on for years now and gaining more attention as the food trucks in DC have become more prevalent. This vote is simply the most recent development in a drawn out campaign between two opposing sides. Food truck owners, restaurant owners and hungry customers will surely be paying close attention when the vote to allow the committee to amend the regulations comes up. Stay tuned.

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by May 3, 2013 at 8:00 am 0


Stead Park Field on the 1600 block of P Street NW. (Borderstan)

Support is growing for the city to start upgrading Stead Park’s field in fiscal year 2014 instead of 2015, as now proposed.

In the past week, area residents submitted more than six pages of comments to the  DC Council Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs, which met Monday. Many expressed urgency for the $1.6 million project — especially for area children. One neighborhood dad wrote:

“The Stead playground has been getting increasingly crowded over the last year. So much so that many toddlers spend their time as wall flowers, afraid to be trampled by parents or bigger kids… My 1.5 year old already does his best to escape from me and play in traffic. Please accelerate the timeline by a year so we can give him a green and safe place to play, before we (and our tax payments) have to move out to the suburbs in search of green space.”

He and other residents say that a safer and more multipurpose field is necessary as soon as possible so that children can safely use the field and relieve the congestion at the popular playground, which was last renovated in 2007.

At a DC Council hearing Monday, a neighborhood mom Kari Cunningham testified, “As a daily user of the crowded playground with my daughter, I have met many families from Columbia Heights, U Street, Mount Pleasant, and Adams Morgan — in addition to Logan Circle and Shaw — who all travel to use Stead Park’s wonderful playground,” but wish the large field was more community-friendly so older kids could have the option of playing and running there, especially when the playground is too full.

Stead’s one-acre field “is a rare expanse of green space in our developed, built-up part of the city… the whole community would love to have usable options in the field that they do not have today,” Cunningham told Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), chair of the Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs.

Martin Espinoza, founder of Stonewall Kickball, also testified and said that, “With renovations we could envision so many more groups playing within the space. Especially more youth sports, since the space is not safe or inviting for these groups to use during or after school.”

ANC 2B-04 Commissioner Kishan Putta, who organized the testimonies for Friends of Stead Park, said that after their testimony, Barry then said, “I am supportive, I just have to find a way to move the money from 2015 to 2014.”

The Friends of Stead Park are advocating that the funding be split over two years while the project moves in phases, with the goal of not interfering with regular warm weather sports uses.

The project is time-sensitive, other residents said in written comments, because there has been a “baby boom” in the area and many young families will soon be forced to consider moving away if there is not enough space for their children to play.

“We are not asking for a suburb-style square mile of fields and facilities,” one mother wrote, “but all little kids deserve to have some good neighborhood options for them. And if the only nearby option is always packed and the only acre of green space is not community-friendly, then, for our children’s sake, we may have to consider (gulp) leaving the neighborhood we love so dearly.”

The field is full of holes and has no seating or shade and doesn’t drain rain well, she wrote, but the new plans “would address the needs of the community and make productive a space that has been decidedly unproductive for too long.”

Putta said that more written comments are coming in daily. He said that the multipurpose field proposal is very popular because it would include a jogging/walking track around the perimeter, “for those who hate dodging traffic and lights on their jogs,” shade-giving trees and benches, puddle-proof turf (meaning fewer game cancellations), a splash park and a stage/pavilion for films and concerts.

“These plans are not overly costly,” he said, “however they will provide incalculable benefits to the growing community. Families are growing frustrated with the lack of space and options for them. They came to our public meetings, they have submitted comments for your consideration, and they are paying attention. Beginning the project this year will give them confidence that their children will have adequate space and opportunities within the next year or two and faith that the city wants to support their families and keep them here.”

The renovation of the park continues gathering support as Putta received an email from Councilmenber Jim Graham saying, “I will do what I can.” Jesus Aguirre, the director of Dept of Parks and Recreation said on the Kojo Nnamdi Show after a caller asked about Stead Park: “We’re looking at creative ways to try to accelerate that implementation,” and “we are working with a very active Friends group and community.”

The budget gets finalized later this month and supporters are asking the community to email their requests to their Councilmembers — and/or to [email protected] to be forwarded on (please include your approximate address and why you feel the field upgrades should begin this year).

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by April 25, 2013 at 11:00 am 1 Comment


Rendering of the proposed Stead Park redesign. (Courtesy of Friends of Stead Park)

This Monday, April 29, supporters of the Stead Park upgrade will testify before the DC Council Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs in support of an advanced timeframe for park improvements.

As things stand with the current proposal, funding for these upgrades will not come until fiscal year 2015 and the earliest that any construction will begin is fall 2014.

As a member of Friends of Stead Park (FOSP) and a commissioner of ANC 2B, Kishan Putta is organizing the testimony following the securement of $1.6 million in funding for the project from the Council and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DCDPR).

This action from FOSP comes on the heels of their having spoken with Mayor Vincent Gray at the public Ward 2 Budget Town Hall. It was at this Town Hall that the mayor expressed an interest in speeding up the timeframe of the upgrades to the park after hearing of both the community’s excitement for the upgrades and the community funding that will go with city funding.

FOSP was bolstered by the mayor’s reaction and, according to Putta,”The April 29 meeting will be an opportunity for members of the community to speak before the committee about why the timeframe for the Stead Park upgrades should be advanced.

Upgrade Plans

The upgrade plans for Stead Park include shade trees and benches along the perimeter of the playing field, a jogging/walking track, a performance stage, a miniature water park for children, and maintenance of the playing field that will continue to accommodate two simultaneous games.

Members of the community agreed upon these plans after two years of discussion and consensus building, which included a series of community meetings with the FOSP Board of Directors. The new plans are designed to make the park more usable and better suited for the changing community.


Anyone interested in supporting an advanced timeframe for park improvements may send short letters of support kishan.putta[AT] before this Sunday, April 28. Community members are also invited to join the hearing at 10 am on Monday, April 29, before the Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs at the Wilson Building, Room 412.

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by April 24, 2013 at 7:25 am 0

"Borderstan""Borderstan Map"

News from DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

How did your precinct vote for Council? Results from 15 precincts in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area are below.

Councilmember Anita Bonds held on to her At-Large DC Council seat in yesterday’s special election, defeating second-place finisher Elissa Silverman by 4.64%. With absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted, Bonds has 16,054 votes (32.19%) to Silverman’s 13,740 votes (27.55%). Both are Democrats.

Republican Patrick Mara finished third with 11,367 votes (22.79%) while Democrat Matthew Frumin picked up 5,694 votes (11.42%). Paul Zuckerberg (Democrat) and Perry Redd (Statehood Green) each picked up just under 2% of the vote.

Referendum 8: Budget Autonomy

Voters will also approved Referendum 8, which amends DC’s Home Rule Charter to give the city final authority over its own budget — the measure racked up almost 85% in favor, citywide. At present Congress must approve all DC budgets. The Washington Post explains what will probably  happen next with Congress and the president.

Ward Breakdown

Bonds won by carrying Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8 — getting majorities in 5, 7 and 8. Silverman carried Wards 1 (including U Street area) and 6 while Mara won Wards 2 (including Dupont-Logan) and 3.

Turnout yesterday was lower than normal for DC special elections at just under 10%. Bonds will have to run again in 2014 in the Democratic Primary if she wants to hold her seat. She was appointed to the seat until the special election could be held.

The At-Large seat became open when Phil Mendelson won a special election in November as Chairman of the DC Council; the chairmanship spot opened up when Kwame Brown resigned.

Dupont-Logan-U Street: Silverman vs. Mara

In the Dupont-Logan-U Street area, Silverman won 12 of 15 precincts while Mara carried three precincts. Mara finished second in 10 of the 12 precincts won by Silverman and Bonds finished second in the other two precincts. Silverman finished second in the three precincts Mara won

Results for these 15 precincts below; all numbers are from the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. Final numbers will not be available for several weeks, after all absentee and provisional ballots have been counted.

April 23 DC Council At-Large Race Results

Addresses for each precinct are listed below the table.

Precinct  / Ward Anita Bonds Michael A. Brown (withdrew) Matthew Frumin Patrick Mara Perry
Elissa Silverman Paul
4 / W2 9%  1% 11%  51%  2% 24% 2%
13 / W2 6% <1% 13% 39%  1% 37% 3%
14 / W2 6% <1% 9% 36%  1% 44% 3%
15 / W2  11% 0% 10% 29%  2% 43% 3%
16 / W2  11%  1%  8% 32% 2% 46% 1%
17 / W2  14% 1% 9% 34% 2% 36% 3%
18 / W6 27% 4% 8% 15% 2% 37% 4%
21 / W6  30% 1% 6% 16%  3% 40% 0%
22 / W1 13% 1%  7% 31%  1% 45% 2%
23 / W1  17%  1% 4% 21% 5% 48% 2%
24 / W1 13% <1% 8% 20%  1% 51% 5%
25 / W1  8%  0% 11% 34% 3% 41% 3%
129 / W2 10% 9% 9% 38% 1% 38% 3%
137 / W1  23%  0%  8% 24% 6% 36% 3%
141 / W2  10% <1%  9%  21% 2% 49% 2%


Borderstan-Area Precincts with Addresses

  • 4 – West End Public Library, 1101 24th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 13 -Our Lady of the Americas Auditorium, 2200 California Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 14 – St. Thomas Episcopal Church Parish Guild Room, 1772 Church Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 15 – Foundry United Methodist Church Community Room Lower Level, 1500 16th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 16 – Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall (lower level), 1701 15th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 17 – Metropolitan AME Church Douglas Hall, 1518 M Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 18 – Kennedy Recreation Center Gymnasium, 1407 7th Street NW (Ward 6)
  • 21 – Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Community Library Large Meeting Room, 1630 7th Street NW (Ward 6)
  • 22 – Garnet-Patterson Jr. High School Auditorium, 2001 10th Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 23 – Rita Bright Community Center Gymnasium, 2500 14th Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 24 – Marie Reed Learning Center Living Room, 2200 Champlain Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 25 – Goodwill Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 1862 Kalorama Road NW (Ward 1)
  • 129 – Martin Luther King Library, 901 G Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 137 – Garrison Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room, 1200 S Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 141 – Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center North Lobby, 2000 14th Street NW (Ward 2)

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by April 22, 2013 at 10:00 am 0


Polls are open Tuesday from 7 am to 8 pm. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Tomorrow DC voters go to the polls in a special election to elect an At-Large member of the City Council. The seat became open after Phil Mendelson won a special election in November as Chair of the DC Council (in the wake of Kwame Brown’s resignation). Anita Bonds currently holds the seat as a temporary appointee and is a candidate in Tuesday’s election.

There are no party primaries and all six candidates (seven if you count former Councilmember Michael A. Brown who withdrew from the race but remains on the ballot). Bonds is facing Democrats Matthew Frumin, Elissa Silverman and Paul Zuckerberg; Republican Patrick Mara; and Statehood Green candidate Perry Redd.

Voters will also vote on Referendum 8, which would amend DC’s Home Rule Charter to give the city final authority over its own budget; Congress currently must approve all DC budgets. The Washington Post explains what would happen next with Congress if Resolution 8 passes.

Polling Place Locations

Not sure where to vote on Tuesday, April 23? The DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) website has a polling place locator app on its site. You can put in your address or (if you know it) your precinct number and your voting place will come up.

You can also look at DCBOEE maps with precincts by city ward. These are the precinct maps for Wards 1, 2 and 6. The list of precincts in the area area listed below.

Same Day Voter Registration

If you are not registered to vote, you can register and vote on Tuesday. Here is what you need to bring to your polling place on Tuesday — if you are not already registered — according to BOEE.

“If otherwise qualified, you may register at your precinct’s polling place on Election Day and cast a special ballot that same day. Valid proof of residence is either a copy of a current and valid government photo identification, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.”

Borderstan-Area Precincts with Address

  • 4 – West End Public Library, 1101 24th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 13 -Our Lady of the Americas Auditorium, 2200 California Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 14 – St. Thomas Episcopal Church Parish Guild Room, 1772 Church Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 15 – Foundry United Methodist Church Community Room Lower Level, 1500 16th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 16 – Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall (lower level), 1701 15th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 17 – Metropolitan AME Church Douglas Hall, 1518 M Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 18 – Kennedy Recreation Center Gymnasium, 1407 7th Street NW (Ward 6)
  • 21 – Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Community Library Large Meeting Room, 1630 7th Street NW (Ward 6)
  • 22 – Garnet-Patterson Jr. High School Auditorium, 2001 10th Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 23 – Rita Bright Community Center Gymnasium, 2500 14th Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 24 – Marie Reed Learning Center Living Room, 2200 Champlain Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 25 – Goodwill Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 1862 Kalorama Road NW (Ward 1)
  • 137 – Garrison Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room, 1200 S Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 141 – Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center North Lobby, 2000 14th Street NW (Ward 2)

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by April 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm 3,106 0


DC Advocates for the Arts. (Courtesy DC Advocates for the Arts)

From ArtSee. Email contact[AT] and follow ArtSee @ArtSeeinDC on Twitter.

This week is all about the arts in DC, or it should be.  Just yesterday was Arts Advocacy Day, a day dedicated to supporting and celebrating the arts. As previously posted, many organizations were a small piece of the day, but there is one that is mobilizing the efforts to encourage people in DC to do more to increase arts funding and garner additional support from law makers. DC Advocates for the Arts, a non-profit organization that exists to support public policy on the participation of the arts within the DC community at large, is one of them.

Recently, DC Advocates for the Arts has ramped up their mailings to entice people to give back to their cause, increasing arts funding, by writing to their local government officials, including the mayor. In this plea, it states the fundamental issue with the proposed mayoral budget or 2013;

“The mayor’s recently proposed budget cuts arts funding by $6 million dollars. The DC Arts Commission is amongst the smallest agencies in the city, and while some agencies could easily absorb a $6 million dollar cut, this would cut DC’s arts agency in half.”

The group is asking for additional funding to the tune of $11 million dollars, a sum we think should be obtainable. In order or this to happen though, lawmakers and DC will have to continue making the arts a priority. DC Advocates for the Arts also has a brand new website where you can find additional information about their efforts and how to write a letter of your own to support an increase in arts funding, click here for more details.

Bringing the Art in DC to You – Roxanne Goldberg


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by April 16, 2013 at 10:23 am 0


At-Large DC Council candidates, from left: Matt Frumin, Perry Redd, Elissa Silverman, Patrick Mara, Paul Zuckerberg. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]

More than 150 people watched the five of the candidates in the April 23 special election for a DC Council seat take part in the Loose Lips At-Large Candidates Debate at the Black Cat, yesterday evening. The April 15 debate was sponsored by Washington City Paper. Attending candidates were: Democrats Matthew Frumin, Elissa Silverman and Paul Zuckerberg; Republican Pat Mara; and DC Statehood Green Party candidate Perry Redd. Democrat Anita Bonds did not attend.

The event was moderated by City Paper Editor Mike Madden. The candidates were questioned by Tom Sherwood of NBC4, James Wright of the Washington Informer, and Alan “Loose Lips” Suderman of the City Paper.

Democratic Candidates Try to Isolate Mara?

The opening Q-and-A section from journalists gave an opportunity for the other candidates to isolate the lone Republican. Some efforts were more successful than others.

  • Suderman asked the candidates if they would post recent personal tax returns on their campaign web sites. All immediately said “yes” except for Mara. Mara said it would support disclosure of tax returns for all elected councilmembers.
  • But will you, a candidate, post your returns, Suderman pursued.
  • “I would consider it,” said Mara. This met with boos from the crowd.
  • Finally, Mara agreed to post his returns “if all the other candidates did the same”.
  • Sherwood noted that, nationally, Republican party opposes gay marriage and that a Michigan state Republican official had recently characterized homosexual lifestyles as “filthy”. How did Mara reconcile this to DC Republican’s support of gay marriage?
  • “This disgusts me greatly,” Mara said, before detailing the long history of support for gay marriage by both DC Republicans and Mara personally.
  • “I’m the only one who testified at the Wilson Building for gay marriage,” Mara said. “I lobbied conservative members of Congress.”
  • Mara then said it was unfair to tie him to the national GOP, just as it was unfair to tie other candidates to the current Democratic corruption in DC government.
  • The other candidates, except for Paul Zuckerberg, said the national Republican party’s position was “relevant”.
  • “I don’t think Pat should be dinged for what some yahoo said,” Zuckerberg said.
  • During the later audience Q-and-A period, Mara stood alone as the only candidate not endorsing mandatory sick days for restaurant workers whose income depended primarily on tips. Mara said this measure would “discourage small business in DC”.
  • In his concluding remarks, Mara characterized himself as a “very moderate Republican”.
  • “I’m never ever ever going to be a true member of the Wilson Building club,” he said.

Ugly Moments on the Racial Politics of DC

Wright asked the candidates what they would do for “people who feel that Washington is not for them anymore.”

  • Answering second, Redd began: “What you posit here is a factual thing.”
  • He then began to talk about “new residents”.
  • Tom Sherwood interrupted to ask him if meant white people.
  • Redd avoided a direct answer to the question.
  • Then he said, “Check your conscience.”
  • At this point, Redd then began to inaccurately cite the poem by Martin Niemoller that begins, “First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist”.
  • Redd said, “When they came for the Jews …”
  • Members of the audience began to boo Redd.
  • “Are you booing me?” Redd asked in angry disbelief.
  • Tweets sent at this point indicate some spectators thought Redd was comparing DC gentrification to Nazi Germany.

I don’t think this comparison was his intention. I think he meant to say that, if you are well-off today but don’t help the less-well-off, then one day when you are no longer well-off, no one will help you. Perhaps some of the audience, having progressed past their first beer by this point, were not prepared for this level of nuance.

However, Redd never had the chance to finish his quotation or explain his meaning completely.

Tom Sherwood began the next question by observing the proportion of DC’s population that is African-American has declined from 70 percent to 50 percent.

  • “It’s called ethnic cleansing!” a woman shouted from the crowd.
  • “I can’t hear that,” Sherwood said.
  • “Ethnic cleansing!” the woman shouted louder.
  • Sherwood went on to note recent remarks by Anita Bonds on WAMU. She said: “People want to have their leadership reflect who they are. The majority of the District of Columbia is African American. … There is a natural tendency to want your own.”
  • Sherwood asked the candidates what they thought of this remark.
  • Answering third, Redd said, “It is a fact that many African-Americans have that belief … We want to be respected. When whites are in control, they don’t respect the most wronged.”

All Candidates to be Full-Time Councilmembers

All candidates supported the abolition of “pay to play culture” in DC politics and said they would have no outside employment during their terms as councilmembers. Perry Redd went further, saying he would only serve one term and he would employ an “open source software solution” so every telephone call and every meeting he attended could be monitored by the public.

Still Anybody’s Race

A poll reported yesterday that Anita Bonds has the lead among voters with a land line responding voluntarily to an automated survey. However, 43 percent of respondents said they had yet to make up their minds.

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by April 15, 2013 at 8:00 am 1 Comment

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]

The Cherry Blossom Festival is over, the tourists are gone, and even the Nationals have left town. It’s time to divert yourself with a little local politics.

Monday and Tuesday offer local events in Borderstan as DC’s special election for an At-Large City Council seat enters its last lap. On Wednesday, you can get nostalgic for last month’s town hall meeting as Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont holds another liquor license moratorium listening session.

Monday: The Black Cat

If listening to politicians drives you to drink, Loose Lips At-Large Candidates Debate at the Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW, will be for you. There will be four DC Council contenders present: Republican Patrick Mara, and Democrats Matthew Frumin, Elissa Silverman and Paul Zukerberg. Questioning the candidates will be Jonetta Rose Barras of the Washington Examiner, Tom Sherwood from WRC-TV/Channel 4 and Alan Suderman (the city politics columnist “Loose Lips”) from the Washington City Paper. Doors open at 7 pm.

Alcoholic refreshment will be served. It seems unlikely any of the candidates will be buying.

Tuesday: The Dupont Circle Hotel

Tomorrow night, show your support for your candidate at the Ward 2 Democrats At-Large Straw Poll. The poll is open between 7 and 8 pm at the Dupont Circle Hotel, 1500 New Hampshire Avenue. Any Democrat living in Ward 2 is eligible to vote. Most of Borderstan south of U Street and west of 9th Street is in Ward 2. Unsure if you live in Ward 2? Check here.


Ward 2 Democrats Web Site Screen shot.

This one promises only “light refreshments”.

Ward 2 Democrats seem to be trying to keep the straw poll a secret. Their Facebook page hasn’t been updated since a previous straw poll was held in March 2012. The organization’s home page looks like this:

Wednesday: Chastleton Cooperative Ballroom (tentative)

If the DC City Council is too distant and abstract, Wednesday is an opportunity to get more local.

ANC 2B liquor licensing affairs subcommittee will host a listening session on the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium. This will be an additional opportunity for Commissioners to hear community opinion from 2B residents before the full ANC votes on the moratorium at its next full meeting on May 8. The subcommittee will formulate a recommendation to the full ANC after this listening session.

The session is scheduled from 7 to 9 pm at the Chastleton Cooperative Ballroom, 1701 16th Street NW. The website of Commissioner Noah Smith, 2B-09, says the location is “tentative and will be confirmed.” Check the site before setting out.

Of the four ANCs within the proposed moratorium zone, three have already voted against it. DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Board is currently soliciting direct public comment in writing and inviting the public to testify at a hearing on May 22.

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by March 29, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

Two candidates are up against Graham for the Ward 1 Council seat.

Two candidates are up against incumbent Jim Graham for the Ward 1 Council seat. (DC Government)

Incumbent Jim Graham has another challenger in the 2014 Ward 1 Council race: Bryan Weaver, who announced his candidacy on Tuesday, March 26. In addition to Graham, Weaver is up against Brianne Nadeau, who announced her candidacy for the position back in December.

The three will face off in the Democratic Primary next year (probably April 1).

Weaver, a self-proclaimed activist who has been a Ward 1 resident for more than 20 years, says the city needs more authentic leadership.

“Our leadership must live up to what our city’s residents deserve” Weaver said in his announcement.

According to The Washington Post, this is Weaver’s second attempt at the Ward 1 seat and his third run for D.C. Council, overall. Weaver was a candidate in the April 2011 special election to fill an At-Large Council seat, finishing fourth behind Vincent Orange, Patrick Mara and Sekou Biddle; Weaver ran well locally, carrying several precincts.

Borderstan, Bryan Weaver,

Bryan Weaver. (Luis Gomez Photos, 2011 file photo)

Both Nadeau and Weaver announced their candidacies at a time when current Ward 1 Councilmember Graham  is being questioned in the media for unethical behavior in relation to a development deal during his time spent on the Metro Board of Directors.

The Washington Post also reports that Nadeau has already raised more than $37,000 for her campaign.

Check out a detailed map of Ward 1 from the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B, which includes the U Street corridor, as well as ANC 1C/Adams Morgan, are in Ward 1.

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by March 28, 2013 at 9:30 am 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]


News from Dupont-Logan-U Street.

The candidates in the April 23 special election for a DC At-Large Council seat will be available to answer your questions tonight at the ANC 2B candidate forum. Six of the seven candidates are confirmed.

Candidates for the election include Michael Brown, Anita Bonds, Matthew Frumin, Elissa Silverman, Paul Zukerberg, Perry Redd for the Green Party and Republican Patrick Mara. The election will take place 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.

Moderators for the evening include NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood and Mark Segraves. The meeting is open to the public and will start at 7 pm at the American College of Cardiology, 24th and N Streets NW.

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by March 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

From Joey Gavrilovich. Follow him on Twitter @joeygDC, email him at joey[AT]


Homeless on Connecticut Avenue. (Luis Gomez Photos)

As a long and, at times, bitterly cold winter winds down in the District, it would appear that a long-awaited discussion around poverty is advancing to the political forefront, and all those with something to say seem to be focusing in particular on how the mayor and council intend to allocate funds in the District’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Within days of Mayor Vincent Gray’s announcement in early February committing $100 million to affordable housing, the Washington Post reported about the crowded and desolate conditions of life for families — and some 600 homeless children — at D.C. General shelter. “[T]he same city,” The Washington Post reported, “now rolling in a $417 million budget surplus and on track for a $240 million surplus in the coming year.”

In recent weeks, the Fair Budget Coalition, an alliance of more than 70 human service providers, educational organizations, faith-based charities and housing and legal advocates in the District, has sought to address what the budget surplus might portend for DC residents living in poverty.

The coalition, which operates out of U Street’s True Reformer Building, held a press conference at the John A. Wilson Building downtown last week and attracted the attention and sponsorship of five members of council in the wake of the Post article about D.C. General, which also reported that just two years ago the same shelter housed 400 fewer children than it does now.

Patricia Fugere, executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, moderated the March 5 discussion, and later told Borderstan that the program “set the stage for a season of aggressive advocacy.”

Fugere pointedly addressed the mayor’s $100 million commitment, telling Borderstan, “of vital importance in addressing the crisis facing the District’s growing number of homeless families is to assure that the mayor’s pledge of $100 million for affordable housing responds to those who need it most.”

The mayor, along with his Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force, yesterday released a report calling for the creation of 10,000 new units of affordable housing and the preservation of 8,000 existing units through the next eight years, calling the $100 million pledge “a beginning.”

While details are lacking from the mayor’s office about how the initial $100 million is to be invested, the Fair Budget Coalition hopes in the coming months to persuade the mayor to prioritize the needs of DC’s lowest income residents as finishing touches are put on both the Fiscal Year 2013 supplemental and Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal.

“Such investment,” said Fugere, “both in subsidies to sustain affordability and in development to expand supply, holds the promise of assuring that DC remains a vibrant and diverse community that does care about the well-being of all residents.”

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