Graham will tonight host a free special Tuesday edition of “Rock Hard Sunday,” the weekly male strip club act he promotes at The House (3530 Georgia Ave. NW) in Park View. The show, which normally costs $10, was cancelled last Sunday because of the blizzard. (more…)
Dozens of locals, former patients and D.C. politicians braved the rain this afternoon for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate Whitman-Walker’s new 14th Street clinic.
In attendance were D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, former D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, at-large D.C. Councilmember David Gross and Whitman-Walker executive director Don Blanchon.
Whitman-Walker Board Chair Mark Edward and Norton delivered speeches, followed by a religious ceremony during which retired clergyman and LBGT activist Bishop Gene Robinson blessed the new building.
The new clinic is known simply as 1525, and spans six floors and 42,000 square feet.
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.
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.
On Monday, February 25, the DC Council voted to strip Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. The measure was first proposed by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on February 21.
The 13-member council voted 11-2, with Graham and Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) voting against the resolution. The bulk of the U Street corridor and neighborhood are in Ward 1, along with Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant and Howard University.
Immediately after the vote, Graham released the following statement:
“It is time to move on. I have very important responsibilities as chairman of the human services committee and all the responsibility of representing Ward 1. Going forward, I will continue to represent the people who elected me to serve with the same passion and fervor as I have from my first day in office.”
The public reprimand comes after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability found “substantial” evidence that Graham broke the code of conduct in a lottery contract bid.
A tweet from Bruce DePuyt (@News8NewsTalk) quotes Barry saying, “We all trade votes. I’ve done it. I’m arguing due process. He’s had no opportunity to defend himself.”
“This is a somber moment and a sad one, of course, because there is no joy in what we were asked to do today,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) in a statement. “But, it is an obligation that falls to us and that we were and are duty-bound to discharge. Put very simply, we must keep and preserve that most delicate of commodities: public confidence.”
A reprimand is the least serious action the council can take against a member. It must be approved by a simple majority and carries no punishment. Barry was censured in 2010, which is more serious, WTOP reports.
Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) could have a challenging week ahead of him. The Washington Post reports that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson aims to strip Graham of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board as a public reprimand to the veteran DC politician; he was first elected in 1998.
Mendelson’s potential action comes after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability found “substantial” evidence that Graham broke the code of conduct in a lottery contract bid.
On February 21 Graham released a statement to constituents:
The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability had no basis to issue findings and pronounce judgment against our client without granting him a chance to be heard, allowing him to review and challenge the evidence to which we were denied access, and conducting a full adversary hearing. The Board violated the law and its own rules. That is not the ethics process that the Council sought to put into place, nor is it one whose decisions are worthy of respect or weight. Today we filed for relief and are confident that the court will agree that the Board acted lawlessly and denied Councilmember Graham basic fairness and due process.
After the findings, Graham repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and told constituents he has no intention of resigning. Washington City Paper reports that Graham is filing a lawsuit to “seek a temporary restraining order against the ethics board, who Graham says violated his rights to due process by issuing a negative report without having a full hearing.”
Ward 1 Democratic candidate Brianne Nadeau released the following statement:
The residents of Ward 1 find ourselves today with a representative who is under scrutiny for his deeply troubling, ethically questionable behavior. Today’s vote results from the fact that he has not been willing to take responsibility for his actions or apologize to the people of Ward 1 for engaging in back-room deals when he should have been out addressing real issues in the community. This is not the Jim Graham we used to know.
Nadeau has already announced her candidacy against Graham in the 2014 Democratic primary for the Ward 1 Council seat. She is a former ANC 1B commissioner.
The council will take up the measure of reassigning the ABC Board responsibilities at a special meeting on Monday. Coincidentally, that same day, Graham will hold a public roundtable on rule making that will impact enforcement of alcohol sale to minors. The rule making would require and provide legal consequences for the failure of bars to check IDs of people who come in.
Graham first convened this public roundtable on January 24 and recessed it to provide additional time for testimony. The question for the day will not be the outcome of the roundtable discussion. The question is: Will this be Graham’s last ABC Board oversight meeting?
On Thursday, DC Public School Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced revisions to the November proposed plan to close 20 public schools in the District. One of the schools in the proposal included Garrison Elementary School (1200 S Street NW).
However, on Thursday, Henderson removed Garrison from the closure list. Garrison serves students from pre-School through 5th Grade. The Francis-Stevens Education Campus at 2425 N Street was also removed from the closure list.
“Garrison’s staying open is a community victory!” Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham said. “Parents, students, and hundreds of community volunteers worked hard to convince DCPS that Garrison had to stay open. And in the end, the message prevailed.”
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans agreed: “I’m pleased to see that the Chancellor made the right decision and kept Garrison and Francis-Stevens open”, Evans said. “This is a new opportunity, and I know parents and children will take advantage of it. I am hopeful that Chancellor Henderson will continue to work with the parents and neighbors going forward to ensure the long-term vibrancy of these schools. This is a great day for Ward 2.”
Garrison PTA released a statement, which included the following paragraph:
“The most important work begins now. We will remain open and we made commitments to DCPS in order to do so. But more importantly, we made commitments to each other — our students, our parents, our staff, our neighborhood, our city. We must make good on these commitments. It is crucial that we continue to move forward from here with the same enthusiasm. And we need your involvement to do it, so please keep up the good work and involvement.”
From Tom Hay and Rachel Nania. Email Hay at Tom[AT]borderstan.com and follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.
The DC Council will vote this week, possibly today, on a controversial bill addressing liquor licensing for local businesses and residents’ roles in the process.
Currently, there is no distance requirement for protesting a liquor license, meaning that a resident in Cleveland Park could protest a license application for a restaurant near Logan Circle.
The new bill would significantly change the current regulations by limiting protests of liquor licenses to those living within 400 feet of an establishment. If passed, the new bill would also allow for Voluntary Agreements (VA) negotiated by Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) to override agreements made by a group of residents.
The Current Newspaper reports that there are 43 provisions in the omnibus bill, which was constructed by a group of representatives from the alcohol industry, businesses and neighborhood groups, as well as a group focusing on noise issues. This group that provided input on the bill includes representatives from wards 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8, and Jim Graham worked as the sponsor on the bill.
A newly-formed group called the Alcohol Sanity Coalition DC, founded by Dupont Circle resident Abigail Nichols, is fighting several amendments proposed in Graham’s bill. In a November press release, the group raised concerns about a provision that would limit any resident protest if a VA were negotiated by the ANC. The group is also targeting provisions related to noise complaints and fines.
In addition to leading the Coalition, Nichols is seeking election to the ANC Commissioner seat in Single Member District 2B-05, a position now held by Commissioner Victor Wexler who withdrew from the race shortly before election day. Wexler’s name appeared on the ballot and he received over 80 percent of the votes in his District.
The DC hospitality industry has countered with its own assessment of the amendments. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) issued a plea to push for changes to reduce the regulatory burden imposed by current regulations and curtail the power of arbitrary groups to limit operations.
The RAMW release includes a quote from Hank’s Oyster Bar owner Jamie Leeds who has become the poster child for alcohol regulation gone wrong. Leeds’ effort to expand her Dupont Circle restaurant was well documented on Borderstan and citywide. Her expansion plans became a three-year regulatory and courtroom battle in which she ultimately prevailed.
Mark Lee, coordinator for DC Hospitality, published a guest column on PoPville, stating that “it’s time to end an out-of-balance licensing system that puts limits on dining, drinking and entertainment choices for the many by the few – slowing the city’s forward progress and hurting the local economy!”
D.C. Hospitality is also asking to supporters of the reform to “Tell D.C. Council + Mayor Gray to Reform Unfair Licensing Laws” on this online petition. Hank’s Oyster Bar and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) both issued statements calling for support of the proposed bill.
[&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=”//storify.com/Borderstan/hanks-asks-patrons-to-sign-the-reform-to-current-d” target=”_blank”&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;View the story “Hanks asks patrons to sign the reform to current DC liquor licensing regulations” on Storify&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;]
[&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=”//storify.com/Borderstan/dc-hospitality-solicits-reform-support” target=”_blank”&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;View the story “DC Hospitality solicits reform support” on Storify&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;]
From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.
Councilmember Jim Graham (D-ward 1) on Tuesday introduced legislation that proposes extensive changes to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage laws. The much anticipated bill includes 43 changes based on the recommendations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control task force that Graham has led since December 2011.
The changes to alcohol laws and regulations is always of particular interest to Borderstan residents since the major commercial corridors of our neighborhood — U Street, 14th Street, P Street, 17th Street, 9th Street and Connecticut Avenue NW — are home to hundreds of restaurants, liquor stores, nightclubs and bars. (See DC Liquor Licenses by the Numbers: Ward 2, 40% and Ward 1, 16%.)
The sweeping legislation even replaces terms for certain body parts for establishments that offer nude performances. Noteworthy in the bill are some changes to procedures on protesting a license application, what may be included in a voluntary agreement (V.A.) and the establishment of a noise complaint hotline.
The sweeping legislation touches on nearly every aspect of alcohol control currently on the books, even replacing terms for certain body parts for establishments that offer nude performances. Noteworthy in the bill are some changes to procedures on protesting a license application, what may be included in a voluntary agreement (V.A.) and the establishment of a noise complaint hotline.
The proposed amendment to the current code section on who may protest a license application states “A group of no fewer than five (5) residents or property owners of the District residing or owning property within a 400 foot radius of the Applicant’s establishment.” Borderstan recently conducted a reader poll on the number of signatories required to protest a liquor license application (see Poll: Most Readers Say 5 People Not Enough to Protest Liquor Licenses).
A hearing on the bill is scheduled for is bill on Thursday, July 12 at 11 am in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building at 14th and Pennsylvania NW.
The legislation also adds a new code subsection to address what may and may not be included in a V.A. Among the areas covered in the bill are entertainment, noise, litter, parking, hours of operation and occupancy. The bill further details what a V.A. may not include.
In that section are such items as restraint of trade, attendance at meetings and conflicts of interest. The V.A. is a facet of DC regulatory processes by which residents and community organizations may negotiate with a liquor license holder to set mandates that are not part of standard regulations.
Another new item in the proposed legislation is a noise “hotline” to handle resident complaints. In a press release, Graham said, “This legislation addresses the problem of spillover noise in neighborhoods that are adjacent to entertainment areas. The bill requires a nighttime complaint line and a response team at ABRA (Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration) that will be operational every night until one hour after the legal bar closing time”.
A new post office located at the Reeves Center is scheduled to open on Saturday, June 30, according to a message posted by Councilmember, Jim Graham, on the U Street News forum. This new location replaces the former post office 14th Streets between T Street and Wallach Place NW, which closed this past spring.
The Reeves Center site occupies a larger space on the ground floor with direct street access and (hopefully) shorter lines than the old location. The Reeves Center is at 2000 14th Street NW, the northwest corner of 14th and U. The post office at 1915 14th Street left its location — in a one-story post-1968 building — following a decision to transform the space into an apartment building with first-floor retail at the southeast corner of 14th Street and Wallach Place NW.
Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) announced on March 30 that the lease for the new post office branch was a done deal. Given the U.S. Postal Service’s budget deficit (and the closure of many branches nationally), there was a real possibility this branch would not be relocated.
From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.
A local restaurant’s seven-year battle with a group of local residents over “Voluntary Agreements” is causing one area organization to encourage DC Councilmember, Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), to include reform of the District’s alcohol licensing approval process for restaurants and bars in legislation he is currently drafting for Council consideration.
In response to the current deliberations over liquor licensing at Hank’s Oyster Bar, The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) calls on Graham to do away with ad hoc committees when dealing with restaurant operations and licensing agreements.
Instead, RAMW recommends a more appropriate neighborhood forum for licensing review and input, such as the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), elected by area residents.
Current law allows ad hoc groups of as few as five people to intervene in the city’s liquor licensing application review process. “Allowing only a handful of residents to protest a liquor license application results in lengthy delays in review by the ABC Board causing great hardship for local businesses,” said Lynne Breaux, president of RAMW.
According to RAMW, Graham recently convened an “ABC Working Group” of both community and business representatives to review regulatory issues and problems in the city’s alcohol licensing process. The group concluded its extensive six-month evaluation on May 3, and Graham conducted a Council committee hearing on May 8 to review the group’s report.
“Although the recommendations of the broad-based group assembled by Council member Graham include several sensible recommendations, the proposals do not go far enough in correcting the ability of small and unrepresentative groups to hold business owners hostage by threat of long and costly delays,” said Breaux who’s organization was represented on Graham’s committee.
Breaux feels that unless the city council changes its laws, local business owners will continue to face protests by small groups that affect business development and often contradict the opinion of a majority of local residents.
Reforming liquor licensing isn’t the only thing on the minds of residents and industry organizations. Some DC business owners and residents are hoping that the six-day-spirit-city extends liquor sales into Sunday. And in a city home to a large percentage of drinkers, selling liquor seven days a week seems like a sure-fire way to increase sales for local business owners.
But like the Hank’s Oyster Bar case, liquor sales on Sundays in the nation’s capital is held up by a small, vocal minority. Ironically enough, it’s the sellers, themselves.
According to a recent Reason.com article, District liquor storeowners argue that they don’t want to work on Sundays, and that Sunday sales will simply increase their costs while cutting into sales on other days. However, as the article points out, considering most people in DC live about 30 minutes from both Maryland and Virginia (both of which sell liquor on Sundays), sales tax projections and profits would be a win-win for businesses and for the District.
The city drinks a lot, with happy hours all days of the week and patios packing in patrons before the humidity settles over the District. So it’s not terribly surprising that, while the proposal to extend permitted alcohol sales by an hour failed, other measures are slated for debate.
This week, a report commissioned by Jim Graham’s Committee on Human Services was released. The report, issued by the Alcohol Beverage Control Working Group, includes provisions to sell on Sundays, create permits for wine pubs to brew their own juice and brew pubs to fill growlers for patrons.
DCist has the full scoop on the recommendations. So far, we haven’t seen much of what occurred during the meeting but Graham’s blog indicates he will now work on draft legislation that incorporates the recommendations.
Any proposed changes to DC liquor laws are particularly noteworthy in the Borderstan area. Ward 2, which includes the Dupont-Logan area is home to 40% of the entire city’s liquor licenses. Ward 1 (which includes the bulk of the U Street corridor and Adams Morgan) is in second place with 16% of all DC licenses. (See DC Liquor Licenses by the Numbers: Ward 2, 40% and Ward 1, 16%.)
Stay posted (and stay thirsty)!
From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
As summer heats up and DC’s food trucks ready themselves for another lucrative warm season, brick-and-mortar restaurants in the District also have something to celebrate.
DCist reported that last week, a measure levying taxes on food truck sales passed the City Council. This tax disparity was a major thorn in the side of traditional restaurants, who saw their mobile counterparts as having an unfair advantage.
The 10% sales tax (same as what you pay in a restaurant) would replace the current $1,500 annual fee street vendors pay. According to District’s chief financial officer, the city’s 1,200 food trucks and mobile vendors are expected to contribute more than $1.2 million in taxes to the city each year.
From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
As we reported recently, Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) has proposed a significant increase in the District’s alcohol excise tax. It was designed to replace revenue that would have been generated by the Mayor’s one-hour bar alcohol service extension, which Graham opposed. Both proposals aim to eliminate a $172 million projected budget deficit.
But as of late last week it appeared that Graham’s proposal was dead in the water. This turn of events was largely thanks to some strategic undermining by the hospitality industry, and even the mayor, who made a public push for his original budget proposal.
Councilmember David Catania (I-At Large) suggested implementing the mayor’s proposal temporarily and seeing whether it worked or not, saying the policy could be revisited if it proved to have the negative consequences some fear it would.
The Washington Blade‘s Mark Lee notes the near-universal support of gay bar owners for the extension of alcohol service hours. Hardly newsworthy.
From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
The Washington Blade‘s Mark Lee skewers Councilmemer Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) for his lack of support for Mayor Gray’s proposed extension of alcohol service and sales hours. Additionally, Lee faults Graham for proposing a hike in alcohol taxes, saying it would add to the already overburdened District hospitality industry.
Mayor Gray recently proposed allowing alcohol service and sales to be permitted one hour later. Graham proposed raising alcohol taxes as high as 10 cents per drink, an endeavor that would net an additional $34 million annually for the city.
Lee says Graham is out of step with the mayor and the people. Similarly, Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington President Lynne Breaux called Graham’s failure “startling” and said the proposal’s failure was a “loss/loss” for the District.
- DC Liquor Licenses by the Numbers: Ward 2, 40% and Ward 1, 16%
- 14th and U: Petition Opposes Possibility of Liquor License Moratorium
- Later Liquor Sales or “Pay $10,000 in Taxes”? (Not Really, Of Course)
- Restaurant Association Backs Extended Alcohol Sales Hours
- Mayor Gray Proposes Extension of Alcohol Service to Boost Revenue
- 14th & U: Approval for More Bars, Restaurants Expected
Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) announced Tuesday that a deal was reached between the landlord and the Post Office to provide a two-month extension on the lease for the Post Office at 14th and T Streets NW.
While negotiations continue over a future location — including possible space in the Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U Streets NW — the successful negotiation by the U.S. Postal Service will ensure that the branch remains open for business through April.
- Postal Service “Committed” to New Location for 14th Street Branch
- No Relocation for 14th & T Post Office?