Ward 2 Councilmember, Jack Evans, and DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor, Kaya Henderson, will host a meeting for parents and community members on Wednesday, June 6 to discuss future improvements in Ward 2 schools and its education system.
The meeting will be held at Francis Stevens Education Campus, 2425 N Street NW. A meet and greet with area principals starts at 5 pm; the meeting with Jack Evans and Kaya Henderson begins at 5:45 pm.
Meeting attendees will have the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions for school improvements, particularly in regards to improving elementary and middle schools, as well as the feeder program in all school levels. Central office employees and school leaders will also be on-hand to answer questions and to meet with those in attendance.
For additional information on the meeting, please visit the State of the Schools webpage or contact Jennifer Skates at jennifer.skates[AT]dc.gov at the DCPS Office of Family and Public Engagement.
From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.
Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2F (ANC 2F) voted March 7 to support a plan to bring parking relief to area residents through an enhanced residential parking permit program (RPP). The pilot program to upgrade the RPP was proposed by Councilmember Jack Evans (D-ward 2).
Evans’ director of Constituent Services, Sherri Kimbel, attended the meeting to answer questions about the test program. The program would reserve one side of a residential block as parking for residents only — in this case any RPP holder from Ward 2. The other side of the block would be available to both residents and visitors under the current rules as posted.
The hope is that this plan will make more parking available to residents closer to their homes. Visitors will have to vie for fewer parking spots in the increasingly popular Logan Circle neighborhood and 14th Street corridor. The original proposal from Evans called for the restrictions to be enforced six days a week. ANC 2F voted to support the program seven days per week.
During remarks introducing the program, Kimbel stressed several important points. Specifically, any block can opt out of the program if a majority of residents oppose it. There is no specific timeline for implementing the program and no guarantee that it will remain in place; and success of the program will be based on feedback from residents.
The feedback from ANC 2F commissioners and attendees was generally positive. All agreed that publicity of the program was widespread; Commissioner Nick Barron (2F02) posted the details on his blog, which was picked up many online news sources across the city. David Alpert, editor of Greater Greater Washington and a resident in nearby Dupont Circle, wrote an article about the program and pointed out the merits and shortcomings of the plan. Alpert attended the meeting and reiterated some of his points during the community discussion.
A large portion of ANC 2F straddles 14th Street, beginning at the National Mall (this will change after redistricting goes into effect next year) and and extending up to S Street NW at its northern boundary. The area, particularly in the blocks around 14th and P, have seen explosive growth in the past decade.
Along with an increase in residential development comes an influx of retail, dining and nightlife venues. Within the next 18 to 24 months hundreds of new residential units in the stretch of 14th Street from Thomas Circle to the Columbia Heights neighborhood will be ready for occupancy – this proposal could not have come at a more pertinent time.
By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[ATemail@example.com.
While your neighborhood cred may not help you get a table at Estadio, it may help you park your car, if Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has his way. With the explosive growth in the Logan Circle area — both residential and restaurant/retail — local residents are having a tough time finding enough spots for their cars at the curb.
DCist reports that the pilot program, as currently envisioned by Evans, will restrict one side of the included area streets for cars with a residential parking sticker, all day, every day. The other side of certain streets will have restricted areas for non-residents without parking permit zones.
The measure is slated to be introduced shortly, and ANC 2F will discuss the proposal at their meeting this evening at the Washington Plaza Hotel at 7 pm. It appears there is support for the measure, which resembles a program in place for Eastern Market residents as well as parts of Ward 1.
Borderstan’s Tom Hay will be at tonight’s ANC 2F meeting and we will have a report for you on Monday.
Dupont Circle has a new tradition: Ground Hog Day with “Potomac Phil” the Groundhog. Actually, this year’s Potomac Phil was a stuffed groundhog as the event organizer was unable to procure a live critter for this morning’s festivities. The faux groundhog was provided by Miss Pixie of Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot on 14th Street NW.
Still, under cloudy skies — and with the sounds of polka music in the background — Potomac Phil “saw” his shadow (or would have had he been living). According to groundhog weather prediction lore, this means we will have six more weeks of winter. The event organized by Aaron DeNu as part of ongoing Dupont Festival events.
Today with Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), ANC 2B Commissioners Mike Silverstein (2B06) and Kevin O’Connor (2B02), and organizer DeNu looking on, Potomac Phil declared “six more weeks of a nice winter” to the crowd in the Circle. Actually, it was Evans who provided the interpretation from Phil that the remaining six weeks of winter would be “nice.” DeNu had tried to procure a live groundhog, but most of them are hibernating for the winter, so the stand-in stuffed version from Miss Pixie was used for the inaugural event.
The event was lively and fun with plenty of media coverage, as well as kids from Ross Elementary School. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was also there to protest the event, even though the groundhog was not live. PETA is headquartered in the Dupont neighborhood.
Groundhog Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada and, as Wikipedia notes, the largest “celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania” with Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog.
Homemade Cat Litter Earns a Fine
A Dupont Circle woman has been fined a total of $2,000 for throwing away her homemade (shredded paper) cat litter in her trash can, reports DC’s Fox 5. A Department of Public Works (DPW) inspector has dug through her trash — part of the job — and found the paper along with “other paper items” that should be recycled. And the Director of DPW has stood behind the inspector’s actions and fines, despite protests from DC Councilmember Jack Evans. Evans argues DPW has gone too far in rifling through trash of apartment and condominium owners, and as much as I love the earth… I have to say I agree with him.
Shaw’s Tavern: Back, Sort of, with New Owner
Much hand wringing ensued over the lack of liquor license and subsequent closure of Shaw’s Tavern. Neighborhood groups are concerned about an empty storefront, city officials were concerned about fake documents and visitors anguished over the lack of beer. But now, a new owner has already crossed one hurdle — Washington City Paper reports that Siya Sadeghi has an endorsement from ANC 2C. That may provide some additional support for the Tavern’s liquor license application, which must be a relief for the new owner. His background is more in “construction”, but he used to own Axis on U Street NW. We’ll see how it goes. Best of luck — I am now dying for deviled eggs with truffles!
Lincoln Theatre to Run The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Remember when we said part of the Lincoln’s problem was its programming decisions? Well, it seems like someone at the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities is attempting to correct course. The first installment of the wildly popular trilogy will open on December 21, but as DCist notes in their piece, no one has info on prices or times for the film yet.
Fiona Greig has decided to not go through with her challenge to incumbent Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) in the April 3 Democratic Primary. Evans was first elected in 1992 and has raised large sums of cash, putting any challenger in an uphill battle.
Moreover, Greig’s pre-campaign (she had formed an exploratory committe in anticipation of a run) had gotten off to a rough start after The City Paper‘s Loose Lips column reported last week that a spreadsheet, inadvertently filed with the Office of Campaign Finance by Greig’s campaign committee, refers to Greig’s co-worker at McKinsey Consulting as a “homosexual”. DCist noted that Greig has issued an apology. The term homosexual is considered by many people in the LGBT community to be a slur — at best, very clinical term.
Will another challenger step forward? The 90-day deadline for filing ballot petitions for the April 3 primary is on January 4.
Ken Archer at Greater Greater Washington offers his take on Greig’s announcement; Archer was her campaign chair.
Greig’s Wednesday-morning email message is below and on her site:
Dear Friends and Supporters,
I have decided not to run for the Ward 2 seat on the DC Council, a decision that comes after a great deal of contemplation and discussion with my family and friends. I want to thank all of you who encouraged me to run, and especially those who gave financial support to my efforts.
I wanted to run because I think that Ward 2 should be a leader in ethical government, community-based school reform, and smart growth and development. Perhaps I’m biased, but I believe we have some of the best neighborhoods in this city, and we should have the best public assets–such as schools, parks, transportation, and even a ward Councilmember–that equal our great residents and businesses. My husband, Paul, and I decided to buy our house because it was across the street from Rose Park, a gem of our city, and because the wonderful business strips along M and Wisconsin allowed us all kinds of amenities without ever getting into a car.
Like many of you, I was embarrassed by the stories I read in the newspaper about our elected government, and I wanted to do something. I have a lot of professional experience working with federal government agencies to find efficiencies in operations, and I relished digging into the DC budget to do the same. I also had experience working within DC government. As many of you know, while on loan from McKinsey to the Deputy Mayor’s office, I started the program, Bank on DC, which has enabled thousands of DC residents to get bank accounts. I loved that experience, and even my husband said he thought it was the happiest he’d seen me.
But working inside DC government didn’t prepare me for what I faced when I launched an underdog challenge for the Ward 2 seat. Perhaps I was naïve, but I didn’t expect to face an intimidation campaign by a 20-year-incumbent and his supporters. At home, I received muffled phone calls telling me about the “dirt” my opponent had on me. Someone wanting to hold a Meet and Greet for me received nasty emails from the opposing campaign. And I learned from a city agency that a well-known private investigator whose firm does “surveillance” and “domestic investigations” had requested my records. Maybe that explains the man who repeatedly walked past my house one night, looking in the windows.
All this occurred because I thought it would be good for voters to have another choice on the ballot. In my opinion, this intimidation campaign just isn’t right. We need to change the nature of the local DC politics to welcome more residents to take part in our political process–not spend time and money to shut them out. Without more resident participation, we know which voices will get heard. In this election, more than 50 percent of contributions to the Evans campaign come from big business – developers, parking garages and restaurants, many of whom hide their ownership behind limited liability companies. In economics we call this “extracting rents” – no business would give to a campaign if there wasn’t something to gain. This has led me to see the need for strong campaign finance reform, and I plan on lending my voice and time to this effort.
I made some mistakes in trying to wage a campaign, but I don’t consider it a mistake that I tried. After six weeks of intense effort, I decided I just wasn’t ready to mount the kind of campaign it would take to win.
Thank you again for all your time, support, and encouragement.
Drag Queens, High Heels and Running for 25 Years
Send in your gosh darned pictures from last night, already! Share them on the Borderstan Flickr pool. Borderstan’s beloved Halloween tradition of drag queens, wanna-be-queens and a few competitive runners was held last night on 17th Street: The High Heel Race. This year’s winner, Craig Williams, won for the second time, also winning in 2008. Runner-up Stephen was the 3rd Place finisher last year. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans was the official judge at the finish line and trophy presenter. The trophy this year was a hand-blown glass slipper full of brandy.
WTOP gave a quick preview of the event, including some good nuggets of history like the date of the first run (1986), its origins (a bet, no surprise there) and some early expectations for crowds. If you have lived in DC for more than a Halloween, have a sense of humor and enjoy some serious pageantry, you pretty much have to go next year.
Red Line to be a CF This Weekend
If you are planning to support friends at the Marine Core Marathon, go out around Dupont or do anything else on our part of the Red Line, just don’t bother. The Metro’s track maintenance schedule will cause single-tracking between Dupont Circle and Judiciary Square to create a safe work zone at Farragut North, says The Washington Post. That station definitely needs some work, and I guess it’s not rush hour but man, what a bummer. Trains will leave the end of the line every 20 minutes or so, and will go through the work zone (one train in each direction) every 20 minutes.
Saving the Other Theatre in the Area
Greater Greater Washington shares the story of the Ontario Theatre at 17th Street and Columbia Road NW. It’s been abandoned, neglected and may ultimately disappear in what historians (or GGW) feel is a blow to history. Sound familar? It should — seems similar to the plight of the Lincoln Theatre. The difference, of course, is that the Lincoln is currently functioning as a theater.
The Ontario, once a neighborhood theater showing first-run movies, one of only two in DC. It was ravaged by the riots after Dr. King’s death, became a Latino community meeting place and then became home to performances by The Clash and Blondie. A building that is more than 60-years-old, which embodies the changing history of the neighborhood and is also a pretty sweet architectural structure? That sounds like historical preservation status-worthy to me.
From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her on Twitter @MichLancaster.
Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) doesn’t live in the Dupont Circle neighborhood anymore; he moved to Georgetown a number of years ago. However, his 20 years on the DC Council representing Ward 2 have made him a well-known fixture in the Dupont-Logan area — and the entire city. First elected in 1992, Evans is running for a sixth four-year term, with a campaign office at 1402 14th Street NW. While he has no challenger in sight, Evans is raising money and says he will go door-to-door as the April 3 primary draws closer. Evans talked to Borderstan about chairing ANC 2B/Dupont, how 17th Street NW has changed, DC taxes and, yes, his Constituent Services Fund.
Borderstan: Most residents of Borderstan are at least familiar with your name if not your service — you’ve represented the area for quite some time. Can you take us back to the beginning? What brought you to DC and how did you get interested in public service?
Evans: After spending the summers of 1975 and 1976 in the District, I moved here permanently in 1978. I had just finished law school and accepted a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thirty-three years later, here I am.
Borderstan: Before you were elected to the Council, you served on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B/Dupont. What were the toughest issues you tackled at the ANC?
Evans: I chaired the Dupont Circle ANC from 1989-1991. During this time we faced many similar challenges, as well as some that thankfully no longer exist. Back then, the biggest issue was development. There were four large-scale development projects slated for the neighborhood that would have completely changed the character of the area, and we were successful in stopping them all. This process also resulted in the creation of the Dupont Overlay district, which continues to protect the neighborhood today.
We also dealt with the increased issuance of liquor licenses along 17th Street. When I first moved to 17th and P Streets [NW], one-third of the businesses along 17th Street [from P to R Streets NW] were vacant. Over time, restaurants moved in and were welcome. However, at some point, 50% of the approximately 40 storefronts had ABC licenses. To stop this trend, the ANC worked to create what was then the second alcohol moratorium in the city, with Georgetown being the other.
We also faced many challenges that any transitioning neighborhood sees, including crime. To walk from my condo at the Webster House to Logan Circle was especially dangerous at that time, especially once you crossed over 16th Street. A lot has changed since then.
Borderstan: You seem to relish the challenges, or perhaps they find you. In the midst of a difficult fiscal time, you have been tasked with the chairmanship of the committee on finance and revenue. Can you explain to a, hmm, more passive observer of DC politics what the budget problems are, how they came to be and what the Council is doing to address them?
Evans: Overall, the city is in good financial shape — I wouldn’t trade our situation for any other jurisdiction, city or state, in the country. That being said, I do believe that we are on an unsustainable path. For example, over the past three years, the District has spent almost $1 billion in reserves. This is a precarious situation to be in and I will continue to work to ensure our rainy day fund is available for when we truly need it. We also seem to find our city with perpetual spending pressures — otherwise known as ‘budget deficits’ — in certain areas of our government. We need to spend each dollar wisely and maximize our return. Frankly, some of our agencies have been poorly run and are chronic over spenders and under providers.
Many of my colleagues on the Council seem to think the answer to recent revenue shortfalls is new taxes on residents and small businesses. Our rates of commercial property tax, income tax for individuals and businesses and sales tax are already the highest in the region, and in some cases, the nation. Raising taxes might help to close the shortfall now, but it will also put us at a greater competitive disadvantage with Maryland and Virginia in the future.
Finally, we need to set better priorities. Our police force is at its lowest number of sworn officers ever and is about to fall below 3,800, the number Chief Lanier says is necessary to keep our city safe. Libraries and rec centers are closed on weekends — all because the Administration says we don’t have the money. Yet the Mayor and my colleagues just passed the largest budget in the District’s history, which I voted against.
Borderstan: The other big issue for the Council this term is redistricting. You played a role in proposing the revised wards, and received some flack for it. What would you say to critics of the plan? For the rest of DC, can you explain why it was necessary and why no one would likely be happy with any plan that emerged?
Evans: One of the goals of redistricting all along was to keep neighborhoods together, which I think we accomplished by moving the entirety of Shaw into Ward 6 and reuniting all of Penn Quarter in Ward 2. I have said it before and I’ll say it again — redistricting brings out the absolute worst in people. Nobody likes change, especially after 10 years of identifying with a particular neighborhood. That being said, we listened closely to residents, readjusted our original plan and came out with something that works.
Borderstan: The Council’s term has been overshadowed by ethics inquiries. You’ve gone so far as to openly criticize some of your fellow council members’ behavior. Now, the Post is reporting that you allegedly used a substantial sum — more than $100,000 — from your constituent fund to pay for professional sporting tickets. That fund has been loosely regulated but is supposed to go towards activities that benefit constituents. How did this meet that test? (Editor’s note: Borderstan received two tickets for a Nationals pre-season fan fest event in March. The tickets were given to Borderstan for our assistance with a community forum for At-Large Council candidates in March. The tickets were not used.)
Evans: It should first be pointed out that council members’ Constituent Service Funds are not taxpayer dollars, as many believe. These are privately raised funds used for a wide variety of purposes. The tickets purchased with my fund have sent hundreds of people to DC sporting events — school kids, seniors and others that otherwise wouldn’t have such an opportunity. These tickets are also donated to charitable groups like DC Vote and Ross Elementary for auctions and fundraisers. There has been no violation of any District law or regulation, as confirmed by the Office of Campaign Finance in the Washington Post article.
The Post reported that 30% of the Constituent Services Fund since 2002 went towards purchasing tickets for constituents. This means the balance went to residents in need of rental, utility and burial assistance, as well as other constituent related matters. The Constituent Service Fund spending was a good balance.
Borderstan: Let’s talk about the upcoming election. Reports are that you are amassing a war chest, yet have no challenger as of yet. Do you expect a fight this time?
Evans: I always look forward to the give-and-take of political campaigns and the 2012 election is no exception. The Evans 2012 team is out in full force. We have a great headquarters on 14th Street in the heart of the Ward, have started our fundraising efforts and are spreading the word about our work across Ward 2. Twenty years on the Council have taught me to never take anything for granted, so we will continue to campaign aggressively whether we have an opponent or not.
Borderstan: Every time we talk to someone running for office, we ask for your abbreviated message to voters. If you were knocking on my door in Dupont, what would you say to convince me to vote for you? Side note — do you still knock on doors?
Evans: Before I told you anything, I would ask you about the issues of greatest concern to you. I would ask about your experience in the neighborhood and what has been working and what hasn’t.
From there, I would tell you about the great strides that have been made across the Ward during my tenure on the Council, from the passage of gay marriage, to a host of major infrastructure improvements, to a city that works today in a way that it did not twenty years ago. We still face significant challenges in the District. This is what gets me up every morning and keeps me engaged and interested in the job. I went through several pairs of shoes during the 2008 campaign and expect the same this year, although I’ll likely be replacing them with winter boots now that the major campaign season will be in the late fall and winter.
Borderstan: As a resident and parent of school-aged kids in DC, how do you, as a parent, feel about the state of city schools? Do you send your kids there? What else needs to be done to improve them?
Evans: Overall, I feel more positive about the state of our schools. We have made great strides in education during the past several years, and education reform has been at the forefront of our public school system. I am also encouraged by the charter school movement and the new community college at the University of the District of Columbia. We have seen test scores rise, another positive reflection of the direction we are taking.
I was the architect of the funding for the School Modernization Act, which enabled the District to rebuild and renovate dozens of our schools and thus provided our children with a safe and hospitable environment in which to learn.
With that being said, education is a very personal decision and one made by the whole family. My children do not attend DC Public Schools.
Borderstan: What is your vision for the neighborhood, and for the city for the next decade? What can the city do to keep a young, upwardly mobile population in the city with high rent and a relative dearth of new small businesses? Simply stated, do you have a plan for incorporating the creative class that drives Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy nuts?
Evans: Our city needs to continue to assist in the development of all of our neighborhoods. In Ward 2, I have worked tirelessly for over 20 years to make sure each neighborhood is safe and benefits from an efficient and effective delivery of services to residents. I envision our entire city having the types of neighborhoods we have in Ward 2.
We must do all we can to encourage and support small businesses in the District. They are the backbone of our economy and many of our neighborhoods. Without them, we lose a big part of what makes our neighborhoods and city unique. I believe that an infrastructure that is conducive to multiple transportation options is vital for all residents, not just the “young and upwardly mobile.”
Borderstan: I know you work hard, but you know they say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So tell us, what do you do for ‘play?’ For example, we’re curious about your favorite restaurants, bookstores, coffee shop…
Evans: I spend a lot of my time outside of the Council with my family — I am recently re-married and now have six kids and a dog, which keeps me very busy. I spend a lot of time with my family doing what families in DC do — visiting parks, museums and memorials. I’m also an active runner and get in five miles every day. In terms of favorite restaurants, that’s a tough one, as Ward 2 is home to about 70% of the restaurants in the city. I’d have to go with Clyde’s, J. Paul’s, Café Milano and Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Whole Lot-a-Shakin’ Going On
No one missed the earthquake yesterday, I’d imagine. In case, for some reason, you’ve been under a rock, the region experienced a mild earthquake at 1:51 pm. yesterday. It caused quite the stir from a population that has lived through 9/11 and one mess of an Obama Inauguration festivities — but then again, we’re more accustomed to political upheavals than seismic ones. Check out The Post‘s coverage of the quake’s impact on the workday and also what is being done in the ‘aftermath.’
More Frozen Stuff, More Stuff from NYC
Sigh. Do we really need another New York food transplant? In this case, Tasti-D-Lite is showing up in D.C. soon. Washington City Paper reports the chain will open first in Dupont Circle, with a location to follow in Columbia Heights. At least it’s low cal, I guess.
Drink Locally, Too
WTOP has an interesting story on the development of the ‘drink local’ movement beginning in D.C. as new breweries are emerging in the district. For those who still think of the Big Hunt as a dive bar with a great secret roof deck, well, you’re still right. But it’s also the home of Dave Coleman, bar manager and owner of 3 Stars, one of the local breweries. If you eat at the Farmer’s Market and try to eat locally, go find yourself a DC Brau or 3 Stars beer already!
Ticketgate Drags On
Councilmember Jack Evans continues to address charges that he misused a ‘constituent fund’ for sports tickets, rather than constituent services. The discussion has quickly gotten a bit heated, as some see tickets given to constituents as counter to the fund’s intent and some object to the existence of the fund in the first place. For a more measured article on the mess, check out this one in Georgetown Patch. (Note: Borderstan was given two tickets by Evans’ office to the Washington Nationals Fan Fest after providing assistance for the City Council At Large candidate debate on March 29. The tickets were not used.)
Speaking of Georgetown…
The influx of new students to D.C. universities always provides some interesting fodder. This Georgetown list of neighborhoods and what to do in the new town. Vox Populi, the student blog, instructs students to ignore the bad stories they were told about D.C. having no good live music venues. Funny, I thought 9:30 Club was rated in the Top 5 venues in the U.S. recently. I guess I’m too far outside the ‘bubble.’ Sidenote: Am I the only one surprised to see Georgetown kids heading to Black Cat?
A Ward 2 State of the Schools event is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Garrison Elementary School. The meeting is being hosted by DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). Garrison is at 1200 S Street NW and the meeting is open to the public.
The event begins with a 45-minute expo of all Ward 2 schools, which give attendees an opportunity to speak with school representatives, teachers and parents.
The expo will be followed by remarks from Henderson and Evans and will conclude with three different roundtable discussions: Academic Standards and Rigor; Extracurricular Activities and Programming; and School Culture and Classroom Management.
Don’t Fall Down
Hold on tight boys and girls. The Examiner tells us that Metro is planning on sticking with the manual operational mode that it’s been in since the Fort Totten crash of 2009. The folks at WMATA apparently need another several more years before they can replace all of the potentially faulty safety modules. The only way they can speed up the process is with more shutdowns or fewer hours of service — is anyone excited about either of those options? So be prepared for quite a few more bumpy rides, but just remember, it’s all in the name of safety.
Welcome Back and Look Back (Briefly)
Welcome back and happy New Year. Surely you’re back in your office-cube by now. Based on yesterday’s heavy site traffic, it appears you are (sorry, couldn’t resist). In case you missed them, please take a quick look back and check out the profiles of some of our top contributors in 2010: 2010: The Borderstan Year in Photos; Business 2010: Tom Hay For the Record; Cecile Oreste: Sharing Artists’ Stories in 2010; Music 2010: The Passion of Danny Shapiro; Food & Drink 2010: Alejandra’s Restaurant Profiles. While you’re at it, check out Tom Hay’s post from yesterday, Local Business: What’s in Store for 2011? Links to Borderstan’s 14 business profiles are the bottom of the post.
On Monday, the DC Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary will hold hearings on the “Neighborhood and Victims Rights Amendment Act of 2010.” Time is 11 a.m. in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. If you want to provide testimony on the bill, the deadline to sign up is 5 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday); details on how to sign up are below the fold.
The crime bill was introduced by two Councilmembers–Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2)–and is supported by Mayor Adrian Fenty. Evans represents the huge bulk of the Dupont-Logan area while Graham represents a slice of the area with the U Street corridor. However, most of Graham’s district is further north and centered in Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. (Evans recently announced his candidacy for chairman of the DC Council in the September primary.)
Provisions of the Bill
According to Evans’ office, the bill does the following: (more…)
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 Dupont–Logan 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.
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.
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.